KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC ANCHOR: No offense, but one wonders why, given their history, the Democrats are here. Woodrow Wilson had a stroke in Pueblo. Greeley is named for Horace Greeley, the Democrat who lost to Ulysses Grant in 1872 and then went nuts and died three weeks after the election. And the last time the convention was here in Denver, they nominated William Jennings Bryan again, who lost, again.
Or, maybe that context makes it modern Democrats hopes tonight even sweeter. Already eyes fixed on Michelle Obama’s speech this evening. And now, what passes for a miracle ‘round this parts, what was to be a moving but unavoidably somber salute to Senator Ted Kennedy will now be transformed into a celebration led by, perhaps even a featuring a brief speech from Senator Ted Kennedy.
From Denver, with correspondents Andrea Mitchell, Ann Curry, and Savannah Guthrie reporting from the convention floor, political director Chuck Todd, NBC News special correspondent Tom Brokaw, senior White House correspondent David Gregory.
And the panel, Norah O’Donnell with: Pat Buchanan, Rachel Maddow, and Eugene Robinson. Joe Scarborough on the convention floor. “The Insider,” Harold Ford. Howard Fineman and Richard Wolffe of Newsweek at the “Listening Post.”
Our guests to preview and analyze Mrs. Obama’s speech, Eugene Rivers of the Azuza Christian Community Church; senators Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas. And HBO’s Bill Maher. And with youth issues correspondent Luke Russert.
This is MSNBC’s coverage of the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
OLBERMANN: Chris Matthews, I’m Keith Olbermann. We’re just starting, huh?
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: You know in the song “Cheers,” you like go to a bar where everybody knows your name?
MATTHEWS: Well, when guys like you and me and Norah come out here, you’re going to a place where people are political junkies. They watch this stuff every night, especially MS. They know who everybody is. They have got an attitude about us. You know, so when you walk this street, people say, hey, you, buddy, I know you. I love it. It’s like being at “Cheers.”
OLBERMANN: This is a good business to be in if you start off being paranoid, because gradually your paranoia is reaffirmed. I’m not speaking about you personally.
MATTHEWS: No—well, but the best part of that is it’s universally applicable. We had a couple of women on here, what a piece of work they were. I thought I was at the New York Port Authority, the kind of nuts you meet down there, they are just talking to nobody.
They are trying to push the idea that Barack Obama is a Muslim. They will not stop. And I said, how do you know that? A reasonable question. An investigation by a member of Congress. Wait, which congressman? Well, it was a former investigator. Who was it? I’m not telling you. Classic agitprop. It’s the kind of crap we shouldn’t let get on television. It’s on, don’t believe it. Check—well, what do you—Wikipedia? Where do you go for facts these days? Go somewhere. Don’t go to them.
OLBERMANN: Oh yes, great, send them to Wikipedia, why don’t you?
MATTHEWS: Well, that’s something, at least.
OLBERMANN: You can listen to us, probably because we’ll often be interrupted by events throughout the course of the convention.
MATTHEWS: That’s our job.
OLBERMANN: And thank goodness for the events to cut down on our talking to let the others talk. We’re going to begin tonight, as we preview the evening’s activities. We’ve already told you obviously about Senator Kennedy’s event and whether or not he speaks is one of the great questions and will be one of the great moments regardless of the entire political season, let along a great start and extraordinary moment for this convention.
Also Michelle Obama’s speech, let’s get a bigger viewpoint here now from our chief White House correspondent, the host of “RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE,” David Gregory, who is—before heading back over to the convention center, is still with us downstairs in the lower level of our split level facilities.
David, what are you looking forward to? What do you want to see? What do you find is an indicator tonight of where we’re going?
DAVID GREGORY, NBC CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think what’s significant tonight is that this is the piece of this puzzle that is about who is Barack Obama? He’s not trying to reach his hard core supporters, the ones who are showing up in historic numbers around the country. These are the swing voters, the people who still have doubts, Hillary Clinton supporters, independent voters who have soured on President Bush, but who have not gravitated toward Barack Obama yet.
They may have questions about what he really believes, what his American story is really all about. They don’t have a comfort level with. That’s what the biography tour is really about. I’ve noticed in the last couple of days them peeling the layers back about Barack Obama.
As one adviser told me today, this is about Michelle and Barack Obama showing their true colors, making it very clear to Americans around the country that they are like them. They have a connection with the average voter. And that’s a big message that has to be sent in the course of this campaign, defining who he is.
Are you comfortable with him and can you see him as president of the United States? Big goal tonight.
OLBERMANN: Begging the question, David, have we really seen, previous to this, a speech by a potential first lady that carries so much political impact? And is that a fair role? Did we—was there some modification of the Constitution the rest of us were not aware of? I understand the attempt to sell the Obama story, but when did it become part of our political discourse that that is the responsibility of the wife? No offense to wives.
GREGORY: Well, it’s interesting. I think in this case they are very careful to say that this is not two for one, this is not the Clinton model, but this is a wife, an adviser who carries great import in this campaign. Michelle Obama has a great deal of influence over her husband. She says she does not want to be involved in policy.
But you can be sure, as I talked to Valerie Jarrett, who is a close confidant of the Obamas, that she’s a very important sounding board for her husband, for the candidate. She is also the person that knows Barack Obama best, who can be his best advocate. Who can provide that window into who he is, and not only his American story, but his story as a father and as a husband and as somebody who has a uniquely American story that may be unique, but is also shared by so many Americans.
That’s the bar for her. There is a threshold test for her that’s not just about Barack Obama, but for herself. Because they do come as a package. And there are questions about Michelle Obama. She has been the subject of criticism. She has been the target of Republican attacks as well. This is, in some ways, in the campaign’s mind, a reintroduction for her as well.
MATTHEWS: David, the tricky question I guess she has to develop on is that line several months ago where she did say, for the first time in my life, I’m proud of America—proud to be an American.
OLBERMANN: “Really proud.”
MATTHEWS: “Really proud.” Well, she advanced it in a later statement by “really proud.” How does she redevelop that—her patriotism? I mean, I hate to have—anybody have to go through a patriotism test, but is that something that she has on tonight?
GREGORY: I think there is no question that she does. I think she wants to try to frame the way she will be used in this campaign going forward. And Obama’s top advisers recognize that this is her opportunity to reach a mass audience with that message, to get past that criticism, to establish herself as somebody who has got the American story, the American values that reach the very voters that they are trying to reach.
That are not just on the convention floor, that are the swing voters, the culturally conservative voters around the country that she’s a child of the South Side of Chicago who came from middle class roots, educated at Princeton, who is primarily concerned with keeping her family and her children grounded throughout this process. That’s the story that they want to tell and how they want to reach people tonight.
OLBERMANN: David Gregory, on his way to the convention center. Go. Thank you.
GREGORY: OK. Thanks, guys.
OLBERMANN: Our Savannah Guthrie is already inside the convention hall, standing by on the floor with a man who was mentioned for quite a while as a vice presidential possibility, Virginia Senator Jim Webb—Savannah.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Keith. Well, Jim Webb joins us now, right amongst the Virginia delegation, which has prime seats here because Virginia is such a battleground state. Barack Obama has been there repeatedly.
Why is Virginia so important to his calculus?
SEN. JIM WEBB (D), VIRGINIA: Well, I think Virginia is definitely in play. And if things go the way that they might, Virginia could end up being the pivotal state in the election. So it’s nice to be in the center stage here.
GUTHRIE: Got a nice spot. I have to ask you about the vice presidential pick. Now you, yourself, took yourself out of the running. Senator Joe Biden, somebody who is your colleague on the Senator Foreign Relations Committee, what do you think of the pick? Was it a strong choice?
WEBB: I think it’s a good pick. And principally for me, Joe Biden has been a champion of working people all of his political career. And I have said many times that the Democratic Party really needs to get back on message. They kind of got away from it with a lot of different other issues over the past 20, 25 years.
And the future of the Democratic Party is to get back to what I call the Jacksonian base, which is taking care of the people who do the hard work of society. And that has been Joe Biden’s big message for years.
GUTHRIE: And what do you think Obama has to do during this convention to convince Americans and Virginians?
WEBB: Well, I think this is going to be a very interesting few days. And Barack Obama needs to do what he has been doing, get out and talk to people about what their problems are and make sure that they can identify with them, understand that he shares their concerns and that they can trust the approach that he going to bring into to the future.
GUTHRIE: Do you feel that voters feel they know this person or is there an introduction that needs to be done?
WEBB: Well, you probably should ask the people who came before me with all of this analysis. I just—I feel very comfortable with where Obama and Joe Biden are going to be taking the next—taking the country in the next couple of months to convince them about what’s going on.
And I think, again, just with respect to Joe Biden, he has got a wealth of experience. If you’re going to turn the ship around, you need a sail, but you also need a rudder. He will be excellent in terms of governing, being able to assist the administration and getting projects through the Congress, and those sorts of things. So I think they will work very well together.
GUTHRIE: Real quickly, if you think he wins Virginia, does he win the whole thing?
WEBB: I think Virginia could be the key. We’ll have to wait and see. But I think Southside, where Barack Obama was last week, and I was there with him for part of it, could be the key to Virginia. It’s an area where people lost a lot of jobs. They are a very strong work force. They want to see the country move back into a—you know, a position where the leadership really is paying attention to working people. So stand by, we’ll see.
GUTHRIE: OK. Senator Jim Webb, thank you so much for being with us.
We’re here right in the middle of it all. Virginia has a great piece of real estate right on the floor, you see the podium right behind me. People are starting to fill in the Pepsi Center. The delegates are here. The convention is under way in earnest.
Keith and Chris, back to you.
OLBERMANN: Savannah Guthrie, the Virginians will tell you that back home they have a great piece of real estate as well. Senator Webb and Savannah Guthrie, great thanks—Chris.
MATTHEWS: Now let’s check in with NBC News political director Chuck Todd.
Chuck, you can’t tell the players without a scorecard here. Explain the difference between the delegates who are 95 percent for Barack Obama, I’m talking about the Hillary people, with only a 5 percent holdout piece and these PUMAs out here, these lady-like women who call themselves “Party Unity My Ass,” that’s their sensibility, what do you make of the—explain the difference between the delegates who are falling in line behind Barack and these people—these wackos out here.
CHUCK TODD, NBC POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, look, I think what’s happening is we are in our Denver bubble. It was something that we were talking about earlier on “HARDBALL.” But we’re in this Denver bubble, and I think, look, there’s a third of the establishment wing of the Democratic Party that’s here at this convention, are folks that would have been big-time big players had Clinton been the nominee.
And I think you see them walking around, and every once in a while, they can stoke this a little bit. But the McCain campaign is stoking this. They are releasing these ads. And, you know, look, there are a small core group of folks, but I think they have a louder voice than they do a volume of numbers.
So, look, I think in a few days we’re going to look back and say, you know, these PUMAs are really no different than the Ron Paul folks that we’re going to run into in St. Paul, which, by the way, is this back-to-back thing.
And, Chris, I think this is the thing that we all need to sort of digest tonight. We’re embarking on a British version of campaigning. Everybody says we should go the European way. Well, good news, in 70 days, we’re going to nominate two guys for the major party nominations, see two vice presidential candidates picked, have four debates, and then in between have sort of a three-week sprint in between conventions and debates, and then a two-week sprint between the last debate and Election Day, which, of course, we assume ends on November 4th.
But it’s—as Savannah Guthrie being down there in Virginia, we could be doing recounts in Martinsville or recounts in Richmond or who knows. But it is a very short—we have this long election and all of a sudden we’re compacting everything in this general election in 70 short days.
MATTHEWS: Right. OK. Let me refine my remarks and extend them. Wackos are people that came here this afternoon trying to make the point that Barack Obama was a registered Muslim, whatever the hell a “registered Muslim” is, trying to push that. The other people are part of our freedom march here out here in Denver. Thank you very much, Chuck Todd on the convention floor.
Well, Joe Scarborough. Joe!
OLBERMANN: Did you just thank Joe Scarborough? He hasn’t done anything yet.
MATTHEWS: Let’s go, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right. Coming up, Norah O’Donnell and our panel, she will be here with us and the panel too. Plus our “Insider,” the former congressman, Harold Ford. You’re watching MSNBC’s live coverage of the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
OLBERMANN: We rejoin you with this coverage of the Democratic National Convention, live from Denver, Colorado.
MATTHEWS: Well, let’s introduce our panel right now. Led by MSNBC’s chief Washington correspondent Norah O’Donnell, and featuring Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post, MSNBC political analyst Patrick J. Buchanan, and Mike Barnicle.
Norah, take it away.
NORAH O’DONNELL, MSNBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It’s the dream team. We are all back here and in Denver, and it’s great to be here with the crowd.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
O’DONNELL: A great group of people. And of course, we have a huge night tonight. I mean, really, just an all-star line up, the Democratic Party to try and reintroduce Michelle and Barack Obama to the American people.
Michelle Obama gave an interview today. She said she knows him better than anyone else, Barack Obama. She’s going to talk about “our family, our values,” and how their life story is about making lemonade out of lemons. What does she need to do?
MIKE BARNICLE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think what she has to do, clearly, is tell her story. Her story, her husband’s story, her family’s story, and make her story America’s story. She has got to say, look at, I’m a strong woman—I’m a strong black woman, but my story is your story, my husband’s story is our story.
It could only happen here in this great country of ours. She has got to convince people that she is—in addition to being strong, everyone knows that, that she’s real and she has also, unfortunately, got to do something to deal with the smears that have been out there about, you know, is she patriotic?
Of course she is patriotic, but I think she has to address that as well.
O’DONNELL: Pat, why don’t some Americans believe—or why haven’t they come to yet believe that their story, the Obama’s story, represents the quintessential American story?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think there are a lot of reasons, starting with Reverend Wright and the—I was—the first time I’ve been really proud to be American. All of these things have been leapt upon by the Republicans, played up to the point where there’s a question mark over Michelle Obama and Barack Obama.
And as Mike says, what they’ve got to do now tonight is root both of themselves in Middle America, our story is just like other Americans’ stories, flaws and faults and all the rest of it.
And I think this is a defensive move, surprisingly, when you get the prospective first lady, the wife of the presidential candidate to deliver a mainline address. It’s a risky move I think because she has also got to validate him and validate herself at the same time.
And the Barack Obama campaign has got to feel the necessity to do something like that, which suggests the Republican attack machine is working.
O’DONNELL: This is a woman who is a strong woman, that word has been used almost, I find it amazing, sort of in a pejorative sense -- (INAUDIBLE) to be pejorative, that she’s a strong woman. We should all be impressed by that. But, you know, Princeton-educated, Harvard Law-educated, and yet the video tonight is just called “South Side Girl.”
From the South Side of Chicago, about her parents—her working class parents, all of them living in a one-bedroom apartment where her and her brother essentially slept in the living room because there weren’t enough bedrooms, how does that help them connect with other Americans?
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it’s an amazing story. I mean, the story of her father who had M.S.
O’DONNELL: M.S., multiple sclerosis.
ROBINSON: Right. Dragged himself to work every day so he could put food on the table and provide an education for his children. You know, it is an amazing American story. You know, sometimes, I think Michelle Obama’s image may suffer because she’s tall, because she’s imposing, because—you know, and that’s—you know, that happens…
O’DONNELL: She’s very impressive physically.
ROBINSON: She is an impressive person. And maybe some people find that intimidating. But you can’t help but find it impressive. I suspect tonight you’ll also see the warmer side of her, the more personable, intimate side of her. And one hopes, bring out the kids. If you have got two kids that beautiful as Sasha and Malia, I think you ought to bring them out.
O’DONNELL: A 7- and a 10-year-old, of course. And so she is talking about being a working mother and trying to be in a campaign and do all of those things, which will help her connect with women.
Mike, of course, her brother will be introducing her. We’re also going to hear from Barack Obama’s half sister, Maya, tonight. This is tonight also the biography of Barack Obama. And one thing I’m always struck by is, God, we’ve been covering this campaign for so long, but yet many people have not seen Michelle Obama speak for 30 minutes or 40 minutes yet.
So this will really be the first time people get a good sense of this woman and her biography. And a lot of people are going to say, wow, I didn’t know that about the Obamas, right?
BUCHANAN: That’s the whole idea is Michelle Obama for 30 or 40 minutes contradicts what has been charged and alleged about her. She’s Princeton, you know, Harvard Law, all of these other things, and roots her in the South Side, middle class gal, growing up with all the problems—brother, you know, is a basketball coach out at Oregon State, I believe.
It puts her right into Middle America. That’s the idea. They have got 40 minutes to do it, to contradict what has been done over months.
BARNICLE: And one of the things that she is going to have to deal with—you’re right, Norah, most people have never heard her speak.
BARNICLE: We live in a bubble. We hear her speak. We see the tapes. We cover the events.
O’DONNELL: But a lot of times we just show snippets of it, not the whole speech.
BARNICLE: Absolutely right. But what she has to deal with, and it’s a tricky topic, and her husband had to deal with it, is this undefined resentment that’s out there, some of it rooted in race, but much more of it, I think, rooted in the fact, how did they go to Princeton? How did they go to Harvard Law School? I can’t get my kid into the public university in Michigan or Ohio, getting into college is tough, how did they do this?
And there’s a resentment factor there that she has to deal with, that he has to deal with in addressing the American people. We did it because we worked hard.
O’DONNELL: Well, this is the political equivalent of the Olympics. We are going to have two straight weeks of conventions. We’re all going to be here to cover it. There’s a lot of talk about (INAUDIBLE) really, a lot of interesting speeches that are going to be tonight that we’re going to be covering.
Chris and Keith, I’m certainly looking forward to tonight and being back here with you guys.
MATTHEWS: Well, we’re on the top here if you want to get a sense of where Keith and I are. We’re way up on the top of this thing here. There we are up in the—look at it, you can tell by the angle. Norah, thank you.
Now to the host of MSNBC’s “MORNING JOE,” Joe Scarborough, he’s down on the floor of the Pepsi Center, part of the Pepsi generation. And he has been talking to both campaigns—Joe.
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “MORNING JOE”: Hey, thanks so much, Chris. I’ve got to tell you, there’s such a contrast between what these campaigns are saying now and what they were telling me off the record two weeks ago.
The top people of the McCain campaign two weeks ago obviously confused, disillusioned at the direction of the campaign. Tonight, they like their chances. They think for the first time the clouds are opening up and they’ve got a shot. They like where they are.
On the other side of it, two weeks ago, people very close to the Obama campaign were concerned that a bit of, if not arrogance, at least contentment was creeping in. This was a campaign that believed they could not lose over the past two weeks, perhaps because of Steve Schmidt’s new leadership on the McCain campaign, the fact that the McCain campaign has been leaning forward with one message…
OLBERMANN: Jeez, Joe, why don’t you get a shovel?
SCARBOROUGH: … and there are plenty of problems with that message, according to some McCain people—a shovel?
I’m sorry, somebody…
OLBERMANN: I mean, seriously, Joe, the man just lost—I did, the man just lost 7 points in the likely voter poll—McCain did, from last week—from last month from USA Today’s likely voter poll. The higher level one, the supposedly more sophisticated one, it was 49-45 McCain last month. It’s 48-45 Obama.
Back up what they are saying or what you’re saying.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, I mean, get a shovel, Keith. My God, if you look at where John McCain has been over the past three or four months, this is a guy that has been losing state by state.
As Chuck Todd and Pat Buchanan were saying a few weeks ago, it was a long, hard slog. Now you look at Missouri, those polls are looking close for McCain. You look at Florida, those polls are looking closer for McCain.
You talk about getting a shovel, my God, the McCain campaign is not saying they think they are going to win, the McCain campaign thinks they have gotten the shovel, they have dug out of a grave, and at least they have got a chance to make this race competitive. They think if they keep it close they are in good shape.
On the other side of it, Keith, though, if this convention had been held two weeks ago, then this would have been more of a coronation than a convention. Two weeks ago, Democrats were extremely confident, especially in Barack Obama’s own campaign. Their top officials believing that this was their campaign to lose.
Now, after two weeks of some very tough, smashmouth politics, they believe they are in for a fight. Do they believe they still have the advantage? Sure. Does the McCain campaign believe that Obama has the advantage? Sure.
When you’ve got right track/wrong track polls that are showing 82 percent of Americans are going—believe this country is going in the wrong direction, when you’ve got George W. Bush sitting at 28 percent and can’t do anything to get above 30 percent in a lot of polls, obviously, this is going to be a big Democratic-trending year.
However, both campaigns believe, for the first time, it may be a fight.
MATTHEWS: Well, are we done?
SCARBOROUGH: If you want to be done.
MATTHEWS: So let me thank you very much…
SCARBOROUGH: Would you like me to get another shovel?
MATTHEWS: No, that was great. It was shovel to shovel. Thank you very much, Joe Scarborough.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Joe, thank you. We’ll see you in the morning. “MORNING JOE,” tomorrow morning at dawn.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Great, thanks.
MATTHEWS: Up next, we’re going to hear from our “Insider,” former Democratic Congressman Harold Ford Jr. Our coverage of the Democratic Convention continues after this.
OLBERMANN: Back in Denver on the night of the tribute to Senator Ted Kennedy, at which he might even be able to speak to the crowd. And also, Michelle Obama’s speech to this Democratic National Convention. Let’s go now to the convention hall. Again our correspondent Savannah Guthrie inside this time with another former presidential candidate. Savannah?
GUTHRIE: Congressman Dennis Kucinich is here with me. OK, this isn’t your convention as you may have hoped. What do you think Obama has to do to win Ohio, that incredibly important state?
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO: Well we’re going to focus on the economic issues. I’ll be talking about that from that podium tomorrow about the importance of economic issues. Ohio needs help with jobs, health care, education, saving homes because of so many foreclosures. It’s the economy that’s going to win Ohio. And I intend to do everything I can to make sure that the Democrats deliver.
GUTHRIE: You’ve seen these polls tighten recently. I asked you this before, are you worried?
KUCINICH: I believe in work, not worry. If you’re worrying, you’re not working. And so I’m going to be working in Ohio. The Cleveland area needs a lot of help. I’m certainly going to be letting the Obama campaign know the kind of themes that will resonate in Cleveland and Ohio. And I’ll be speaking about it tomorrow. I’ll be speaking about the economy tomorrow to this convention. And I’m really excited about it.
GUTHRIE: Well, foreign policy is always important in any presidential election. You’ve been a strident critic of this war. Do you think Obama’s position is strong enough on these issues?
KUCINICH: Well, the war is an economic issue too. Remember, the war in Iraq is going to cost up to $3 trillion. An attack against Iran could cost $5 trillion. We have to take care of things here me. I think Senator Obama understands that and he knows that if he’s going to be successful as president, he has got to get out of Iraq, you can’t go into Iran and he has to stop this aggressive policy that is characterized the Bush administration.
GUTHRIE: Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, I can’t let you go before we show some of your proud Ohioans. This is delegate fashion right there. Lovely Ohio voters. And a kiss from the congressman. Keith, we’ll send it back to you with that, a little love on the convention floor.
OLBERMANN: All right, well I expect to see you in that hat later on, Savannah, thank you very much.
And up next, we will check back with NBC News political director Chuck Todd, plus Tom Brokaw and Luke Russert with his first appearance of the evening covering youth issues. You’re watching MSNBC’s coverage of the Democratic Convention at Denver.
MATTHEWS: Wild in the streets here. Welcome back to Denver for MSNBC’s live coverage of day one. It’s only the first day of this exciting get together here in Denver, the Democratic Convention.
OLBERMANN: And now let’s check with NBC News and MSNBC political director Chuck Todd. And Chuck, let’s see if we can stir up a little information, if not mud here. This is later in the week, this is not tonight’s news, but the source of contention over what’s going to happen in the actual roll call vote. A, will there be one for the presidential nomination of Barack Obama. Will Hillary Clinton’s name be listed in it? Will it be state by state? Will they go out of order? Will they count Michigan and Florida? Will she bow out and ask to make the nomination unanimous? What are we hearing about where this is going to be on Wednesday night at roll call time?
TODD: Well Keith, you asked about eight questions. I’m going to try to answer a few of them. You know. Number one, Florida and Michigan, that is part of the official business that’s going on tonight. It’s going to be officially approving the idea that Florida and Michigan get full votes. That’s number one. So people wondering about that, they’re going to get full votes. And by the way, they’ve got great seats down here. I mean Michigan really got a great seat and Florida, not bad at all. It’s a very small bowl and who gets to be on the actual floor versus who’s up a little bit in the nosebleeds is a big deal. And Michigan and Florida both got on the floor.
But as for the roll call, look we get these briefings every day from the Obama campaign. And they’re just like look, we have this thing. We know exactly how the roll call is going to go. What does that mean? I think we’re going to see some sort of releasing of delegates as we’ve already heard reported, and there’s going to be some sort of plan to decide which state puts them over the top. Maybe it’s Illinois. The Republicans have already decided they are likely going to probably have Arizona put McCain over the top. They’re going to have a roll call.
We’ll have a roll call because it’s sort of a Chamber of Commerce event for these states. You know the great state of Tennessee, Keith, and its mountains of Appalachia, home state of Al Gore, casts its—blah, blah. Those moments are why I tune into the convention sometimes, so I think we’re still going to have that choreography, but it is going to be that. It’s going to be choreography. And look, the campaigns are really working together to make sure there isn’t a lot of disruption on this.
OLBERMANN: So, with the moment they are trying to negotiate between the Obama campaign and the Clinton camp, would that be the moment where it’s already over the top, he’s already got the nomination, and then they ask for New York’s vote and she steps to the microphone and says, hey, let’s make it unanimous. Is that what they are looking for?
TODD: Well, look, it could be something like that. I mean, I think there are any number of scenarios. But again this is a case where both the Clinton and Obama camps will sit there and tell you, guys, stop covering this idea that we’re not getting along. Look, is she happy that she’s not the nominee? No. Is she doing everything she’s supposed to do to make sure Obama gets all these delegates, gets the roll call the way he wants to do it so that Wednesday night isn’t disruptive? After that, President Clinton is speaking on Wednesday night. Joe Biden is speaking on Wednesday night. It’s not a night that Senator Clinton wants to be known as disrupt things. Look, the campaigns are working very closely on the roll call. In fact, it’s been the easiest part of their negotiations. The speeches and that choreography and frankly what they could say and what topics they could talk about, that’s been more contentious frankly than this roll call.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Chuck, is there a moment this week, we’re going to see clearly, one of the two Clintons, Senator Clinton or former President Clinton make it clear that they are not crossing their fingers, they are not crossing their fingers, that they’re not prisoners of this process. That they truly want Barack Obama to be elected in November. Will there be such a moment or are we going to have to wait further into the election to wait for that real clear signal from the Clintons, hey, you know what, you guys think we want to run next time, we want this guy to win this time.
TODD: I suspect tomorrow night, Senator Clinton, the fact that she’s getting a prime time slot – look, President Clinton is not. And what our definition is when the broadcast and then cablers are all broadcasting this convention. The fact that Senator Clinton is getting that, I think tomorrow night it’s certainly the night that the Obama campaign needs her to make this clear. Not that she’s supporting Barack Obama. Look, that’s clear. It’s that she believes she is the better commander-in-chief, that he would be the better president, that he would be the more steady hand on the wheel of the ship of America.
She’s got to do that in a convincing way. Look, you’ve got to remember, the audience in this hall, a majority of them are for Obama. You don’t think Bill Clinton knows this? You don’t think Hillary Clinton know this?
They know how to play to a crowd as well. So I think they are very likely to be effusive in their praise for Obama. But it is that Hillary Clinton speech that is more important. If I were the Clinton folks, I’d be a little nervous about her saying things about the popular vote and how much she won and the 18 million. That was for the concession. I think, if she says that in her speech tomorrow night, that might not play so well. But I suspect she won’t.
OLBERMANN: And she’s been good as gold on this front for weeks and months, Chuck, so we’ll see how it goes. I guess the old proverb about it being all well that ends well, critical there. Chuck Todd, our political director inside the convention hall. Thank you, sir.
Up next, our senior correspondent Tom Brokaw with his first thoughts about what Barack Obama needs to accomplish in this convention. And you are watching MSNBC’s coverage of the Democratic National Convention from Denver.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to Denver and MSNBC’s coverage of the Democratic Convention. Tonight, the headliners are Michelle Obama and a tribute and perhaps an appearance by Ted Kennedy.
OLBERMANN: And throughout this week here in Denver, we’re going to be taking a look at the issues important to younger voters. We’re very lucky and we might to say we’ve very proud to be joined now by NBC’s Luke Russert, who’s inside the Pepsi Center with some of those topics that he’ll be focusing on throughout the week. Hello, Luke.
OLBERMANN: What do we have? What are the indications?
LUKE RUSSERT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hello. Well, the new poll that was released today by the Harvard Institute of Politics. I really trust this poll because they use the Internet and they use e-mail. A lot of the polls use land lines and you have to understand kids are on cell phones and e-mail. They’re not really using land lines. This poll is showing us right now, Barack Obama is leading John McCain 55 to 32 in the 19 to 24 demographic. That’s a 23 point lead. However, the most interesting part of this poll, in the question who do you trust more to be commander-in-chief, John McCain leads Barack Obama 31 to 28, plus three points. And that’s amongst 18 to 24-year-olds, which is supposed to be Senator Obama’s strongest demographic. That cannot bode well for the senator from Illinois if this age group trusts John McCain more to be commander-in-chief.
OLBERMANN: So Luke, to do something for us, those two numbers there add up in the who do you trust to be commander in chief, only add up to 59 percent. Is there some suggestion that younger voters don’t trust anyone to be commander-in-chief as much as they trust either of the candidates?
RUSSERT: There is that element. And there’s a huge undecided factor. And there’s just a lot of kids who are apathetic and who don’t care. But this is significant because these are the kids who are actually engaged and involved and say they’re going to vote. And if they feel this way, it’s a huge problem.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the aggregate numbers now, Luke. Among us, I’ve seen poll that show if only people under 35 were allowed to vote in this election, it would be a landslide for Barack Obama.
RUSSERT: That’s very true. If it was under 34, he wins by 20 points. And I’m sure the Obama campaign would love to have that electoral makeup. But that’s not the case. He has to outperform with this group in order to win. This is why young voters are important. This is why you can’t underestimate this group has been looked past so many years before. McCain’s winning 34 and up by one point. This young vote has to be what will carry Barack Obama into the White House. That’s why the Obama campaign is putting so much effort in turning young people out. And if they don’t come, watch out. McCain has a much easier pass to the presidency.
OLBERMANN: Luke Russert, inside the convention center. Thank you Luke, we’ll check back with you later on.
RUSSERT: Thanks guys, take care.
OLBERMANN: All right, let’s now turn to NBC’s senior correspondent Tom Brokaw, joining us for the fist time this evening. And Tom, as we have an evening like this let off by the circumstances, I know why you are smiling, me too. The circumstance of a potential first lady speaking as the first big speech of the night, combined with this event for Ted Kennedy, what does this all mean in terms of the public’s perception of Obama and what do the Democrats and particularly the Obama campaign need to be doing tonight?
TOM BROKAW, NBC SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Well let me pick up where Luke left off. And by the way, it occurred to me, before the end of the week, Luke might have one of his dad’s favorite white boards saying young voters, young voters, young voters. It’s going to be a very important element. And Luke’s dad would be very proud.
I think that Michelle Obama tonight speaks directly to what Luke was just talking about. She’s going to appeal to those young voters, energize them even more. But the big assignment for both Michelle Obama and Barack Obama, this week, tonight and every day afterward until the election and the first Tuesday in November will need to fill him out.
The people who are gathered here who became so impassionate about this young man from Illinois who seemed to have sprung from an Aladdin lamp at the convention four years ago when he gave that stunning keynote speech, they’re all for him. But there are a lot of Americans out there that continue to say we need to know more about Barack Obama. You see it in those surveys about is he qualified to be commander-in-chief? Young people having some reservations. Older people having even greater reservations, thinking he’s by far the riskier choice in this presidential campaign.
One of the Obama people said to me we cannot make any errors. The margin is that close for us. We know that we’ve got to run the table between now and that first Tuesday in November because we’re presenting to this country somebody who is utterly unique as a presidential candidate.
OLBERMANN: Tom, let me – I guess this is a rhetorical question to some degree but follow me on this. Because it would seem that as we discuss Michelle Obama tonight that the degree of difficulty to use a term familiar to those of our viewers who are just coming out of their Olympic overdrive for the last couple of weeks, the degree of difficulty for this speech, it should be pretty obvious.
Black males will encounter and blacks will encounter racism in this country. Barack Obama is a man of color. Women encounter sexism. Hillary Clinton encountered sexism. The degrees can be argued in both cases. But here’s Michelle Obama, a public figure not necessarily by her own choice who will obviously as a black woman encounter both. The degree of difficulty is greater here, the bar has been set highly here. Is there an approach? Is there a deeper meaning to what she will be doing tonight in terms of our political spectrum? How do you see it?
BROKAW: I think there will be deeper meaning. This is a very strong black woman, highly educated, grew up in extremely modest and that’s an overstatement circumstances in Chicago. Went off to Princeton, got a law degree. She in effect was not an easy courtship for Barack Obama and she has been in many ways both his best adviser and his toughest critic.
She has to walk a very delicate line tonight to represent her generation, where she comes from, but then be able to reach out especially to those white 40-to 50-year-old women who are hoping that Hillary Clinton would be the nominee, bring them back here and make everyone else feel comfortable about what she would be like as a vice president without giving up her identity.
MATTHEWS: Tom, what do you think is Ted Kennedy’s role here tonight if he’s able to speak?
BROKAW: My guess is that he will be able to speak. I talked to somebody the other day who said that he doesn’t have any problem with his verbal skills at this point. I think he’s going to bring down the House. And one of the things that occurs to me Chris is that the Republicans have been using Ted Kennedy as kind of a poster boy to run against in whatever campaign they’re involved in the last several election cycles.
They’ll twin up a Democratic candidate for governor or for Congress for the Senate with Ted Kennedy. Ted Kennedy comes off the board in this election because of the enormous affection that this House will have for him tonight and then the outpouring of affection that a lot of Republicans have expressed given the struggle that he’s now under with his condition.
He has no closer friend in the Senate for example than Orrin Hatch, the Republican from Utah. I think Ted Kennedy will no longer be, if you will, the pinata for the Republicans in this election as they put together their media campaign.
OLBERMANN: Tom Brokaw, thank you, we’ll talk to you later in the evening.
Before we go to break, let’s talk a little bit about the Kennedy event. The stories that were being told last night about his trip here, that there was some exhaustion level, he may have gotten some attention at a medical facility and then been released. There were some concerns he didn’t take the trip well. Apparently that was not the case. This was just the ordinary under these circumstances, what you would you do with somebody who is traveling in this situation.
But are we going to – is the potential there for him – and you know if he can speak, he will speak for as long as he can possibly speak. Even if he can’t speak and he simply addresses the crowd with a wave or hello, are we going to see something as emotional potentially as 1964 and Bobby Kennedy, his oldest brother, that 22-minute unbelievable ovation, that outpouring of affection? Or are again, setting the bar too high?
MATTHEWS: Well, you know, the Democrats are a sentimental party. And maybe the Republicans are too. But I know the Democrats are. You remember that moment in Atlantic City when Bobby came out and talked about Lyndon Johnson and the stars and the sun and reminded us all of Jack Kennedy just a few months after his assassination.
The Kennedys want two things going for them tonight. One is I think Ted Kennedy wants to have the option of not speaking if he’s had a bad night. But second, he is master of theater. I remember when I first watched him in a campaign in 1972 out in Utah, he wouldn’t wait until the walls were coming down people were so angry he was late. He would wait until they were about to leave. People are leaving the room out in Salt Lake and then he shows up. So I think it will be a master of excitement. He will come in. The lights will go off. They’ll come back on. It will be a magic moment. And I think Ted Kennedy whatever his condition right now retains the magical ability of the Kennedys to turn on a crowd. And I think we’re going to see it tonight.
OLBERMANN: And we’ll see it in about an hour and a half as the lineup of speakers for the evening goes on. Your point about the innate theatrical ability. If he’s here, that’s enough. Anything beyond that, increasing degrees of magic.
MATTHEWS: Another thing people don’t know about Ted Kennedy.
OLBERMANN: And I also think about at his apex still in terms of a speaker, that speech he gave for Obama when he endorsed him was one of the great political speeches of the year if not the decade.
MATTHEWS: The best speech Teddy Kennedy ever gave when he was 9-years-old. His brother had just won the nomination for Congress in Massachusetts which meant no general election. The brothers are all sitting around the table at Hyannisport. They are all cheering Jack because he just won. And little Teddy stands up at 9-years-old and says I would like to offer a toast to the brother who isn’t here, to Joe who died in the war.
MATTHEWS: Brought down the house. That’s little Teddy at 9-years-old. That’s a master. And it’s a sentimental guy, whatever you think of Ted Kennedy. He looks out for other people. He looks after the person who is not looked out for that day. I’ve seen it on so many occasions. So tonight I think we’re going to see the real Teddy and maybe his last hurrah but we’ll see him tonight.
OLBERMANN: We will and what a story it will be. In the interim, we’re waiting for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in just a few minutes. And as we wait, we’re joined by Bill Maher, the host of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” and a new documentary called “Religulous” it says here, “Religulous.” How are you, old friend?
BILL MAHER, HBO’S REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER: How are you? Good to see you.
OLBERMANN: All right. We’re just talking. Is there room still for sentiment and non-cynicism at something like this, a grand kind of hall full of politicos. Is there room to be not cynical and to be sentimental and talk about Ted Kennedy tonight?
MAHER: No, no. It’s always – look, I’m sitting here next to the great Tom Brokaw. I hear the convention behind me coming in through security, sweating that out, the pageantry of American politics at its finest, even if it’s not that fine. Yes, the bosom does swell a little, but you know, come a week from today when they’re back on the campaign trail and Britney and Paris are on another commercial, trust me, the cynicism will take its rightful place.
OLBERMANN: You have studied this well enough. Are we at an all-time low politically or does it just seem that way because these are our politics right now and we don’t really know how evil the campaigns were against William Jennings Bryant and the rest of them?
MATTHEWS: That’s a great question and it certainly is one for historians and I am not a historian. But in my lifetime, I would have to say that things do seem to be getting worse and they seem to be getting worse because sorry to say it, people get stupider and stupider every election cycle.
I would love anybody to tell me something that you just can’t tell the American people and have them believe it because you didn’t add “LOL” to it at the end of your e-mail message. They think offshore drilling is going to lower the price of gas and they think Obama, the black guy from the single mother, somehow is the elitist. So you know, I think the American people at the end of the day have to look in the mirror. They get the leaders they deserve and they don’t deserve very good leaders.
MATTHEWS: Who are the Republicans going to run for vice president, Bill?
MAHER: Well, I would love it to be Mitt Romney since I have a movie about religion coming out and Mitt Romney, of course, will have to educate the American people on the lunacy that is Mormonism. And I think that would be very funny.
I also think it’s funny that Republicans were for Rudy Giuliani who we showed five different pictures of him dressed up as a woman at one point and then the Republican base went, well, let’s go to Mitt Romney. Then they found out about Mormonism and they went let’s go to Fred Thompson. And then they wound up back with McCain.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me defend Mormonism. It’s a good religion. Let’s move on from that so we demur on that subject. Let me ask you about Pawlenty. Is a guy named Pawlenty – Pawlenty, is that going to be the name of the ticket? Can somebody with a funny sounding name win on a ticket? Does it work?
MAHER: Well, you’ll have to ask Barack Obama. You know, I think his mother’s maiden name was Dunham. And I bet you a lot of the delegates here on the floor wishes that he was went with his mother’s maiden name. I’d like to ask them in your heart of hearts, don’t you really wish you were running a guy named Barry Dunham?
MATTHEWS: Yeah, but I think it would be boring, wouldn’t it?
MAHER: Yeah, but not for us.
MATTHEWS: OK, well Bill Maher, who’s the biggest – who do you want to win this election for just comedic purposes? Just for nightclub act, red break purposes?
MAHER: Well, there’s no doubt that McCain would be better for night club purposes. I mean, a 200-year-old man is always amusing. But I’m a loyal American citizen, Chris. I want to see the best man win, the smartest guy, so I’m for the guy who’s getting up here on Thursday night.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you very much, Bill. I guess we’re done? Bill Maher, thank you very much. Bill Maher is on 11 – “Real Time With Bill Maher” every Friday night on HBO. It’s great, he can say anything he wants on that show.
OLBERMANN: I went to college with him.
MATTHEWS: Did you really?
OLBERMANN: A couple of years ahead of me at Cornell. That’s why I asked him the question about history, because I just assumed—no, I won’t get into the value of that education relative to any other.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Well, let me defend Mormonism. It’s a good religion. Let’s move on from that, so we demur on that or something.
Let me ask you about Pawlenty. Is a guy named Pawlenty, I mean, couldn’t Pawlenty, is that going to be the name on the ticket? I mean, can somebody with a funny sounding name win on a ticket? Does it work?
BILL MAHER, HBO’S “REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER”: Well, you’ll have to ask Barack Obama. I think his mother’s maiden name was Dunham. I bet there are a lot of the delegates here on the floor wishes that he had went with his mother’s maiden name. I’d like to ask that in your heart of hearts, don’t you really wish you were running a guy named Barry Dunham.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I think, it would be boring, wouldn’t it?
MAHER: Yes, but not for us.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, Bill Maher, who’s the biggest—who do you want to win this election just for comedic purposes, just for nightclub act, red brick purposes?
MAHER: Well, there’s no doubt that McCain would be better for nightclub purposes. I mean, a 200-year-old man is always amusing. But I’m a loyal American citizen, Chris. I want to see the best man win, the smartest guy, so I’m for the guy who’s getting up here on Thursday night.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much, Bill. I guess we’re done.
MAHER: Roger (ph).
MATTHEWS: Bill Maher, thank you very much. Bill Maher is on 11:00 o’clock, it’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” every Friday night on HBO. It’s great. He can say anything he wants on that show.
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: I went to college with him.
MATTHEWS: Did you really?
OLBERMANN: Yes, a couple years ahead of me at Cornell. That’s why I asked him a question about history because I just assumed that—well, no, I won’t get into the value of that education relative to any other.
OLBERMANN: But a funny name, Spiro Agnew was elected vice president of the United States twice. Not only that but he chose to run under the name Spiro even though he adds (ph) it to Ted. He could have been Ted Agnew which is not a funny—but the combination of those things, but yes.
MATTHEWS: Did he have to answer when he went up on trial whether his aliases or was not a part of it, also known as Ted?
OLBERMANN: No, I didn’t do it. Ted did it.
OLBERMANN: That was the original, that was his original defense he left (ph) the envelope.
MATTHEWS: OK. A funny, Quayle I never think helped the ticket in that name.
OLBERMANN: But he got elected. What are you talking about?
MATTHEWS: Well, I’m trying to make a hard point here which is we name our presidents Carter, Nixon, Kennedy. And never or hardly ever more than two syllables unless a guy wins a war.
OLBERMANN: All right. But on that though, you could also suggest that we’re now into rerun names because we had two Bush’s, a Clinton, and another Clinton. Let’s use names that are already familiar to people. Maybe it’s that.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I think we’re still kind of waspy in our selection of names. Just a guess, you know, like Olbermann might be an extra syllable, what do you think? Unless you won a war and you won the war in Europe. Anyway –
OLBERMANN: We’ll go over back inside to convention center where David Gregory has wended his way.
And looking ahead, we’re talking about Clintons and two Clintons. What are the two Clintons going to say in their speeches later in the week?
DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS: Well, what they’re going to say, Keith, as you know and we’ve been talking about is extremely important to the Obama campaign and to Barack Obama. This Clinton/Obama drama persists. It is something that is become important in the media accounts of all this.
But here’s what my reporting tells me—several points. Top Obama people tell me that all of this consternation and this drama will be ended when they finally do speak. Their support will be resounding here on the convention floor. Number two, they argue about Hillary Clinton. Whatever her supporters may be doing at this convention, she has been out there campaigning for Obama in important states. That’s the support they need. That’s the support they’re counting on.
They also, however, concede that until and unless they get a big public and warm response from particularly former President Bill Clinton, this is still going to be an issue. That is why they are counting on his speech this week to end this drama. The reality is that the Obama campaign, based on my reporting has made it the job of high level advisers to manage this account, to make sure that Barack Obama is in touch with both Hillary Clinton and former President Clinton on a regular basis, to speak about their issues and their needs just as George W. Bush had to manage the account of John McCain back in 2000 when he still had a formidable following within the Republican Party.
From the Clinton side of this ledger, someone very close to the Clintons said today, look, they are behind Obama. But there is a core group of Clinton supporters who want to make a statement here. They want to be heard. They’re not happy that she’s not on the ticket. They’re not happy that she’s not on the top of the ticket. They want to make their voices heard.
The Obama people say, “Look, we don’t want to alienate these core supporters. We get it. We have Obama supporters who feel the same way.” They want to make sure that they’re happy enough, that they’re welcome here unless they’ll be fodder for real crossover votes to John McCain.
OLBERMANN: David, about Bill Clinton’s speech, is there in fact a bone of contention between the two camps about the topic matter that has been designated for the former president, that he’d be talking about national security rather than the economy or is he fine with both and this is just another overblown media narrative?
GREGORY: Well, I think there’s some truth in between. There has been concern on the part of Bill Clinton about message placement, his role in this campaign, but it’s larger than just the speech. It’s his sense of whether his ideas, his presidency, and his legacy in some respects, has been disrespected by the Obama campaign. He wants a legitimate seat at the table. And Clinton supporters have said that Obama has yet to do even a better job of really clearing the air with Bill Clinton.
Top Obama people say, “Look, the only people who are not talking are some of these Clinton supporters who are still upset. That Barack Obama is in a dialogue with Bill Clinton. This will be just fine and that Bill Clinton is prepared to really knock it out of the park for Barack Obama in the course of this convention and end this story line all together.”
MATTHEWS: You know, David, one of the real—you and I know that one of the real concerns by Bill Clinton, especially in a very personal way, after his years of supporting opportunity in this country for all races and groups, to be accused by some of the Barack people of being a racist—is there any way they can pull that knife out and say, “No, this man has the best record on civil rights of any white guy around and we got no problem with him period about what he said in the campaign”?
GREGORY: It’s an interesting question, Chris. And I don’t know they found the opportunity to say it in as clear as a way, a clearer way as you just outlined. What they recognize is that they’re in kind of a difficult period. On the one hand, do they say to the Clintons get on board or go out the door, this is Barack Obama’s Democratic Party now? They’re trying to balance that with recognition that the Clintons still control the machinery of a lot of this party and that Bill Clinton is somebody who will be very important to them as Hillary Clinton will be, in the course of this campaign.
So, they have been diplomatic about this. They maintain that the conversations are happening at the highest levels privately and that they worked a lot of these issues out. And I go back to an earlier point that I made, that they in the Obama campaign recognize and there’s only so much they can do about it. They need a public embrace by the Clintons of Barack Obama. That has not happened in as complete a way as it could. That’s why this week, their speeches, their appearances are crucial.
OLBERMANN: David Gregory, our senior White House correspondent and the host of “RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE” on MSNBC weeknights. Thank you, David.
MATTHEWS: Let’s check in now NBC News political director, Chuck Todd on the passing of the torch from the Kennedys to the Clintons and now to Barack Obama—Chuck.
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, I think, Chris, it’s interesting tonight that we’re going to hear from Speaker Pelosi here in a minute. And one of the underrated moments of this entire Democratic primary process was the hidden hand of power of Nancy Pelosi.
And it’s a reminder really that the Kennedys and the Clintons, while they are the names that we talk about as running this Democratic Party, as being the big dynasties of this party, it’s been taken over not just by Barack Obama, which will be obvious on Thursday night, but also by Nancy Pelosi, who has not only figured out how to get Democrats control of the House again, something Dick Gephardt couldn’t do, but she’s also going to expand that majority. She’s been a speaker that a lot of people thought was going to be polarizing, and instead she figured out how to be a way of a sort of a compromise leader.
So, we’re getting a taste of that. Her role in this entire sort of shift of the party away from the Clintons has never been given enough credit if it is credit that she deserves. She did a lot to shift this party away from the Clintons and toward Obama.
MATTHEWS: What about the competition between Nancy Pelosi, the leading woman in the history of American government, really, and the unsuccessful campaign of Senator Clinton—is there a rivalry there, a personal rivalry?
TODD: No, it’s not. I have always thought that was almost—people were trying to look at it and say, “Oh, it’s two women vying to be the leading woman in Democratic politics.” Nancy Pelosi’s issues with the Clintons and vice versa go back to Bill Clinton. She was part of that wing of the House Democrats that thought Bill Clinton threw them under the bus for NAFTA, threw them under the bus on some issues with China.
And you know, she’s a very—China is a very big issue with her. She kept her mouth shut during the Beijing Olympics but she’s somebody that’s been critical of the Chinese government. Obviously, that’s popular in her district out there in San Francisco. So, it’s good local politics. But this is a rift with the Clintons that has to do with ideology.
It became personal, I think, eventually but it was truly about ideology. She did not believe in that centrist, pro-business mindset of the Clintons, of Bill Clinton in particular and, I think, that’s why she was never with them on this. So, it’s less about sort of the gender battle to be a leader of the Democratic Party.
OLBERMANN: So, Chuck, when we hear as, harking back to what we discussed before, when we said of the speaker that or quoted from her that this convention should follow the traditional roll call procedures as is typical these roll calls at a certain point somebody has the votes and the protocol and graciousness come through, that could be taken at face value—that’s not any kind of blowback towards Senator Clinton?
TODD: No, I think, it is face value. But, again, you know, I think when you saw the—you know, it was funny to me when you saw these superdelegates that hadn’t endorsed, remember, toward the end and a lot of them were members of Congress and people were wondering—well, maybe Hillary Clinton can get them. It’s like Nancy Pelosi was controlling these folks. She was going to run this convention and she was going to be in Obama’s corner on this. She was not going to be helpful to the Clintons.
So, you know, I never thought the Clinton will ever have a—forget the numbers on getting delegates, they were going to have to get through a convention that was going to be run by Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi—two people that never felt like they owed the Clintons anything.
OLBERMANN: So, there is, but there will be—the sort of unbending attitude that you describe here, we actually don’t say unbending, but the textbook attitude that you’re describing here, she won’t hold to that just for the heck of it if she can get that some sort of magic healing—OK, kumbayah—I use the word, I’m sorry, it’s the only I use it all week—if she can get that moment she’ll sign on for that?
TODD: Well, I think so. I mean, again, I think, at this point, like I said before, the roll call is least of the issues. I think tomorrow night’s speech, President Clinton’s speech, those are the issues that are probably concerning Barack Obama a lot more and Nancy Pelosi a lot more than the roll call. And I think we’re about to be stepped on by Nancy Pelosi.
MATTHEWS: Right. Thank you, Chuck Todd.
And there she is. Right now, let’s go down to the convention podium where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is about to address the convention.
MATTHEWS: Can we hear her? We can’t hear her.
OLBERMANN: Appears to have been audio failure from our connection. Well, this is technology at its highest form, Chris. I mean, this is—we can see the convention center even from our little location.
MATTHEWS: We’re going to have some organ music playing to dramatize this at this point, I think.
OLBERMANN: Well, as is often said, and I’m sure you’ll hear this, too, when we’re discussing, when each of us thought we didn’t make sense for longer period of time than usual. And someone says, “Yes, but you look good out there.”
The speaker seems to be giving a lovely speech. And now we can hear it. Here she is.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Our party and our country has been strengthened by her candidacy.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
PELOSI: We meet today at a defining moment in our history. America stands at a crossroads with an historic choice between two paths for our country.
One is a path of renewing opportunity and promoting innovation here at home and of greater security and respect throughout the world. It is that path that renews our democracy by bringing us together as one nation under God.
But there is another path. It leads to the same broken promises and failed policies that have diminished the American dream and weakened the security of our nation. We call this convention to order tonight to put America on the path begun by our founders, a path that renews America’s promise for a new century. We call this convention to order to nominate a new leader for our time, Barack Obama, as the next president of the United States.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
PELOSI: Two years ago, the American people set our nation in a new direction by electing new Democratic majority in Congress committed to real change. I’m very proud of the Democrats in Congress working with Majority Leader Harry Reid in the Senate.
Here are some of our accomplishments. After years of inaction by Republicans, in our very first act, we passed the 9/11 Commission recommendations to protect the American people. That was just the beginning. We helped rebuild the gulf coast for survivors of hurricane Katrina and Rita. We put recovery rebates into hands of more than 130 million families.
We passed legislation to keep hard working American families in their homes and to keep toxic toys out of the hands of our children. We increased the minimum wage for the first time in 10 years.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
PELOSI: We improved fuel efficiency for the first time in 32 years. We passed the largest college aid expansion since the G.I. bill passed 64 years ago. And we passed the largest veterans healthcare increase in funding in the 77-year history of the Veterans Administration. And we enacted a new G.I. bill to help thank our veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by sending them to college.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
PELOSI: Every chance we get we must honor our veterans and our men and women in uniform for their courage, their patriotism and the sacrifices they and their families are making for our country. Because of them America is the land of the free and the home of the brave.
The American people gave Democrats their confidence and we have started to reclaim the American dream for all Americans. But our journey to take our nation in new direction cannot be complete without new leadership in the White House. Democrats know we can’t afford anymore of the same failed Republican policy. Democrats stand for the change America needs. We stand for Barack Obama for president of the United States.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
PELOSI: Republicans say that John McCain has experience. We say John McCain has the experience of being wrong. On the failed Bush policies that have weakened our economy and taken us from the Clinton surpluses to reckless Bush deficits and on raising the minimum wage for millions of American workers—Barack Obama is right and John McCain is wrong.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
PELOSI: On health care for 10 million American children and on protecting Medicare, a bill so critical that Senator Ted Kennedy left his own medical treatment to cast the deciding vote—Barack Obama is right and John McCain is wrong.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
PELOSI: On a future of American independence, investments in renewable, and clean energy, and millions of good paying clean jobs here in America—Barack Obama is right and John McCain is wrong. On the most important foreign policy decision of our time, the war in Iraq, a catastrophic mistake that has cost thousands of lives and over $1 trillion as well as weakened our standing in the world and weakened our capability to protect the American people—Barack Obama is right and John McCain is wrong—very, very wrong.
America needs a president who knows that healthcare is a right, not a privilege. And that quality education is a key to the future. America needs a president who knows our democracy depends on a strong middle class and who will create millions of good paying jobs right here at home. America needs a president who will, once and for all, end our dangerous dependence on foreign oil and invest in renewable, clean energy.
To make America stronger, America needs a president who will honor our troops and responsibly end the war in Iraq. For our children and our grandchildren, America needs President Barack Obama.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
PELOSI: The night before I was sworn in as speaker of the House, we had a celebration dinner at the Italian embassy. In addition to proudly being the first woman speaker, I’m also proud to be the first Italian-American speaker.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
PELOSI: My little grandson, Ryan, who lives in Texas and at the time was 5 years old, was playing under the table. At one point, he came out from under the table, looked up, saw Senator Obama and said, “Barack Obama, I must be dreaming.”
Barack Obama’s dream is the American dream. He gives us renewed faith and the vision of the future that is free of the constraints of the tired policies of the past, a vision that is new and bold and calls forth the best in the American people. Barack Obama’s change is the change America needs. Whether in Illinois or Washington, Barack Obama has bridged partisanship to bring about significant reform.
Barack Obama knew that to change policy in Washington, you had to change how Washington works. That means restoring integrity to government by reducing the influence of special interest. I saw first hand his strong leadership on one of the toughest issues enacting the toughest epic reform in history of Congress. This was only possible with Barack Obama’s leadership.
Barack Obama’s values are enduring American values—a belief in personal responsibility, in community, and hardwork that brought him to the struggling neighborhoods of Chicago, a faith in God that gives him strength, a patriotic love of America that gives him courage, and his wife, Michelle, and his entire family inspiring him every day to strengthen and renew this great country.
One hundred fifteen years ago, a young woman named Katharine Lee Bates visited Denver. From the top of Pikes Peak, she looked across Colorado, to the beautiful and bountiful golden prairies to the east and majestic mountains to the west. That night she returned to her hotel room, opened her notebook and the words of “America the Beautiful” spilled from her pen. My favorite verse is the fourth: “Oh, beautiful for patriot dreams that sees beyond the years.”
Today, Barack Obama is a 21st century patriot who sees beyond the years, as President Barack Obama will renew the American people. Barack Obama is the leader for America’s future.
Inspired by that same vision of “America the Beautiful,” Democrats will leave this convention unified, organized and stronger than ever to take America in a new direction with Barack Obama and Joe Biden as president and vice president of the United States.
God bless you and God bless America. Thank you all very much. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know, that’s a part, Keith, of every convention I’ve been to where there has to be somewhere where they list the indictment of the other candidate. And Senator McCain was wrong and Senator McCain was wrong, but not Senator Goldwater. Remember that, “It was Humphrey, but not Senator Goldwater.” You know, it seems like that refrain is the day (INAUDIBLE), you got to do it.
OLBERMANN: Well, I mean, what is this if not a reminder, a televised reminder, but first, a reminder of people in the room as to what they’re doing this for. Why they’re going to break their backs through November 4th for their candidate who will be showing (ph) in St. Paul next week as well. I mean, we have the same kind of thing. I don’t know how that list will go there. But it is a reminder. It’s like, it’s the alarm going off -- 70 days. Let’s get to that.
MATTHEWS: And those same people choose their political party based on issues. Things they feel. Things they think. Interests they have. It may just be leaders they like. But they don’t start with the party tag.
They dingily (ph) start with, you know, I think this war is a joke. I think this is the worst thing we’ve ever done in foreign policy or they say on behalf of McCain, you know, I think, we have to fight this one. This is fighting terrorism. And then they go to who they like.
I mean, it’s the odd person, I think, who chooses to take the position we just heard roll call on there after they decided who they like. So, I think you’re right. I think you got to remind people throughout this week here and weekend at St. Paul why people give a damn. It isn’t because they’re in love with these people, it’s because they’re in love with a certain notion of America that they feel threatened by the other side.
OLBERMANN: Our correspondent, Ann Curry, is inside the Pepsi Center and, in fact, at the podium with the woman we just heard, Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Ann, good evening.
ANN CURRY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: That’s right. Good evening, Keith and Chris.
Good evening, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In your remarks tonight you talk about Barack Obama being the man who will take America to a new future. Here’s the question I have to ask of you: Should Senator Clinton have called on her supporters to back Barack Obama already?
PELOSI: Senator Clinton, I think, has done exactly the right thing. It’s very important for voters and workers who have worked so hard in the campaign, they have to follow the lead of the candidate they are supporting.
CURRY: Has she hurt Barack Obama given what the polls are looking like?
PELOSI: I don’t think so.
CURRY: Why not?
PELOSI: I don’t think so. I think, first of all, let’s put this right (ph) -- Barack Obama won the nomination with full confidence that he could win the general election. Now, Barack Obama is leading among women right now, the bulk of—much of Senator Clinton’s support by 20 points. So, he is taking his message directly to the American people.
Senator Clinton has emerged as a great leader in our country. She was before and greater leader now. And her support, of course, is very important. I guess it’s more natural course of event.
CURRY: Natural course of events but it’s three months until the selection, Madam Speaker and what we have is you talked about 20 percent, there are a lot of disgruntled, some of them angry supporters of Hillary Clinton.
PELOSI: They are, but that is not the point. The point is, here, we have come here together to be unified, focused, disciplined. We will leave here with the clarity of message of the difference between Democrats and Republicans. We will leave here mobilized, to drive (ph) our grassroots operation, to get out the vote and we are confident—a victory.
CURRY: And what gives you confidence of party unity?
PELOSI: It doesn’t party unanimity, you never have that. This is my 12th convention, and I can say that this is a pretty enthusiastic convention because in those earlier days, sometimes you didn’t know the outcome going into the convention when you came out. We knew the outcome going in. And we knew what one of those outcomes would be a unified, confident Democratic Party coming out.
You know why? Because everybody knows what it is at stake. People are concerned about losing their jobs, losing their homes, losing their standard of living, losing their purchasing power. And they know that we must have change. And that’s why we’re confident that with our message of an economic agenda for all Americans, that we will win.
CURRY: What do you say to Hillary supporters who are now being wooed by John McCain?
PELOSI: Well, I would say to them that when they have the most to lose with the election of John McCain and the most to gain with election of Barack Obama. Take any day in Congress, whether you’re talking about children’s health, or pay equity, equal pay for equal work for women, or we talk about issues like Medicare while John McCain was wrong and Barack Obama was right, or issues about our national security and going to war, or our economy, or instead of investing in good paying jobs here our economy is on the downturn.
And so, on all of the issues, whether they are national security, economic security or issues as personal to women as their right to choice or their pay equity or Medicare, whatever it happens to be, children’s health—the difference between the parties in policy and individuals in terms of leadership on those policies are clear.
CURRY: Hillary speaks tomorrow night. President Clinton speaks on Wednesday night. What do the Clintons want and what role do you think they will play? What do the Clintons want and what role will they play once this convention is over?
PELOSI: President Clinton is former president of the United States. So, his role is a very clear one. And now, (INAUDIBLE) hear President Carter here. So, he will always be a force in our country and certainly in the Democratic Party. So, everyone is looking forward to being inspired him by hearing what his views are about the future and his support for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
Senator Clinton, a candidate in her own right, brings a different credential. In some ways, her speech is more important than President Clinton’s because she was currently in this race and now her supporters want to take their lead from her. She’s been absolutely great. Our country, our party have been strengthened by her candidacy and we’re all very, very proud of it.
CURRY: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, thank you so much for stopping to speak with us. Thank you so much. Now, Keith, right back to you.
OLBERMANN: Ann Curry at the podium. Thank you, Ann.
MATTHEWS: Now to Savannah Guthrie, who is with New York Senator Chuck Schumer, senior Senator Chuck Schumer.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Chuck Schumer is with me now. I have to ask you, first of all, about that other senator from New York. A lot has been said and written about lingering division in the party. Do you see that in your delegation?
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: I don’t. We’re probably the most pro-Hillary delegation of any of them, and there’s great unity. Hillary, this morning spoke to the delegation and she said we need unity. And that makes sense because Hillary cares about this country and knows we can’t afford another four years of John McCain.
GUTHRIE: Is there some aspect to this that Hillary herself has not been able to control? There are people who clearly feel strongly about it and, no matter what her signals are, want to make a stand.
SCHUMER: There are a few outliers who will be never happy, but the overwhelming majority of Hillary delegates here at this convention—and I was the first senator to be for her and last off—but the overwhelming majority will be for her and for her big time.
GUTHRIE: What do you think her role will be now?
SCHUMER: Sorry, for him and for him big time. We were for her big type. Now we’re going to be for Barack big time.
GUTHRIE: Old habits die hard.
GUTHRIE: What do you think her role in the Senate will be now? Is she going to be the lioness of the Senate, in the mold of Ted Kennedy?
SCHUMER: You know, sometimes you lose an election. You hate to lose it. But you actually grow in stature. That’s happened to Hillary. I think she could on major issues be really a seminal voice.
GUTHRIE: Obviously, the presidential election is what has brought us all here, but you’re very integral to the Senate campaign. How many seats do you think the Democrats will gain?
SCHUMER: We’re going to pick up a whole bunch. Now, 60 is the dream. It’s hard because there are so many red states. But it’s not out of the question. We’re finding in places we never thought we had a chance, Oklahoma this week, Georgia, we’re much closer than we thought, in addition to other 11 states.
GUTHRIE: Senator Chuck Schumer, thanks for your time. Chris, back to you.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, Savannah Guthrie there with Chuck Schumer, the senator from New York, talking up Hillary’s role in this. Of course, it’s going to be the story of the week no matter what we say; will the Clintons get aboard? Will they be invited aboard with all the right protocols?
OLBERMANN: Here’s a question. This is inspired by this Gallop Poll that suggested that supporters the supporters—the people who had supported Hillary Clinton in the primaries were not supporting Senator Obama by any great measure. That was the headline. That was the lead part of the story. When you broke the numbers down, it said 47 percent were going to vote for Barack Obama no matter what, 23 percent were still supporting him, with less enthusiasm, leaving open the possibility that they might change. This is before this selection of the vice president, Joe Biden, who is perceived as being a good one from the Clinton camp, if not a favorite, something close to it—
We’re going to have to interrupt the question. The point can wait for former President Jimmy Carter inside the convention center and Roslyn, the wife, as well. Here are the president and the former first lady here at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
MATTHEWS: You know, Jimmy Carter enjoys a lot of sentimental support. You look at African American faces there. I know I worked for him as a speech writer years ago. Even when things were down, about 1980, he would go to black churches. His support among southern people, southern blacks especially, is very emotional.
He’s had some problems in the Jewish community because of his very tough statements about Israel. Fair enough. That’s a fight. But he does have this residue, we see it here, of support.
OLBERMANN: And there has been—I think there was some perception that within the Democratic party, the practical elements of the Democratic party of 2008, suddenly President Carter was too hot for them, too edgy for them at this point. That reception suggests that that’s anything but the case, as we see Ann Curry with President Carter. We’re hoping to arrange that interview in a matter of seconds. Is that a misperception or were you surprised by that?
MATTHEWS: I don’t think Carter wow the Democratic party as president. I think he beat the establishment to win the nomination in 1976, but never was able to wow it, to bring it aboard. He never brought in the liberals, the Ted Kennedy people. There was always—in fact, when I look at this rift now between the Clintons that still seems to be there this week and the Barack Obama forces, I do recall the Ted Kennedy fight with Carter. I was part of that. It went on for years afterwards. There were people I didn’t like who were on the other side of that fight.
Finally, you say, you know, I do respect these people. They had a point of view. I think that’s what happens. Here we’re trying to find a resolution to what is almost a marital dispute. It’s inside the party. We’re trying to end it quickly on the Democratic side. Democrats are going to have a hard time resolving this hatred and bitterness before election day, but it does go away. It takes time.
OLBERMANN: Let me ask you that again, as again we’re waiting for some technical things to be resolved inside the convention center, and Ann Curry and President Carter, we hope. Again, let me run that number past you. If those numbers of the support among the former Clinton supporters for Obama, it’s 47 percent firm, 23 percent not so firm—and this is before Biden. Is there not another way to interpret this, rather than saying, they’re almost 50-50? Is that not a 70-30 split in favor of supporting the Democrat from other Democrats?
MATTHEWS: I think the pollsters are trying to slice it pretty thin. They’re trying to develop a nuance here. Let’s face it, when you vote—
OLBERMANN: For purposes of? Keeping it going.
MATTHEWS: When you go to vote, by the way, when you vote for a person, you vote for them maybe 100 percent. You may vote for a person 70 percent. Most people vote 55 percent, because they don’t like the other guy. It doesn’t matter. It counts 100 percent. It’s a binary system. You vote or you don’t vote. You don’t vote nuance. You don’t say, I give this like a 10 point difficulty. I’ll get it a seven. No, your vote is 100 percent. Your point being made.
OLBERMANN: Let me run the risk of interrupting you because we don’t want to keep the former president waiting. Ann Curry back inside the Pepsi Center with Former President Carter.
CURRY: That’s right. Thank you so much, Keith. Thank you so much, Mr. President, for sticking around. Let me ask you, you know, you’re the elder statesman, really, of this party.
JIMMY CARTER, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I guess so. I think this is my ninth convention.
CURRY: I need to ask you your feelings about what is your sense about why this race is still so tight?
CARTER: I think the main reason is that a lot of supporters of Senator Clinton have not yet made up their minds. I noticed in news media this morning that only 46 percent of them so far are completely dedicated to Obama. I think after this convention, you’ll see a massive move by them to support Obama, and I think the polls will change very quickly.
CURRY: In part, that is probably because we’ll hear from Senator Clinton on Tuesday night and she will make her statements known. However, it is now three months until the election. You know how this rolls. Do you think she should have thrown her support, asked her supporters to go to Obama before now?
CARTER: No, I think this is working out quite well. I know this from history. You said I’m an elder statesman and I know it from history. In 1976, when I got the nomination for president, there was an intense argument or debate between Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan at their Republican convention. They divided horribly. It was about four or five—almost two months later before the Reagan people finally said OK, we will support Gerald Ford as a last choice. That’s not going to wait this long this year. I think immediately after this convention, you’ll see massive move by the Clinton supporters to Obama.
CURRY: Have you spoken to the Clintons? Have you asked them to have a certain kind of message? In other words, have you tried to guide what they’re going to do here?
CARTER: Not really. I don’t think that’s appropriate for me. They know a lot more about politics than I do, and they’ve have been in it a lot more recently.
CURRY: Have you called to talk to them about what they need to do here?
CARTER: Bill Clinton has called me. I think he called me last time. I called him earlier. But we stay in communication. I don’t think there’s any doubt that Bill and his wife will be completely committed to Obama. I don’t have any doubt about that.
CURRY: Mr. President, I know you have to make it to another location. Thank you so much. It’s a pleasure to see you, sir.
CARTER: It’s going to be wonderful election.
CURRY: You’re looking very well. I’m very glad to see you. Now back to, Keith and Chris, back in the studio.
OLBERMANN: Ann Curry, Great thanks. President Carter, great thanks. Ann is absolutely right. The former president looks terrific. He made a wonderful point, a perfectly relevant point from his own experience. In 1976, the divide among Republicans between the victorious Ford camp and the losing Reagan camp was so profound that President Carter, then candidate Carter, had a 33-point lead and won the election by that much.
Our coverage of the Democratic convention of 2008, back in the present, will continue in the near future, in a moment. When we return, Norah O’Donnell and our panel back with us. We will rejoin you from Denver after this.
OLBERMANN: We’re joining you from Denver with MSNBC’s coverage of day one of the Democratic National Convention. In the next hour, the Democrats will pay tribute to Senator Edward Kennedy, who may address but we think certainly now will attend at minimum that convention tonight. And what a moment we’re expecting there. In the interim, as we look forward to the Michelle Obama speech, probably about 10:30 eastern time, let’s check back in with Norah O’Donnell and our panel of all stars. We’ll call them all stars. Norah?
NORAH O’DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: The all stars is right, Keith. Thank you so much. We’re joined by all of these people here who have come out, a really large presence down here. A lot of people coming out to see the panel, watching our coverage here on MSNBC. We should talk a little bit about Barack Obama. This convention is to nominate him. He’ll give his speech on Thursday night. He’s currently making a swing through red states before we comes here.
He’s held a press conference today. It’s the first he’s had in three weeks. He’s talked a lot about his speech, about watching his wife, Michelle Obama, tonight, and also the talk about disunity within the Democratic party, which this party is trying to show it’s unified here. Let me ask you, Gene, are we, the media, making too much about this so-called disunity that may exist or may not exist between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama?
EUGENE ROBINSON, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: I think almost certainly we are. We don’t know. We won’t know for a while. There have been bitter primary campaigns in both parties before. Parties do manage to come together. There are issues that divide these two parties. I think, in the end, voters are going to make their decision. I cannot imagine that a lot of Hillary Clinton’s most fervent supporters are going to vote for overturning Roe v. Wade, which essentially would be a vote for John McCain. Maybe that will happen, but it is hard for me to believe that it will happen.
O’DONNELL: Pat, there was discussion in one news report today that Bill Clinton, who speaks on Wednesday night—the theme is national security—that he did not want to talk about national security, he wanted to talk about the economy and his record on the economy and that the Obama campaign did not like that. Obama was asked about it in this press conference and Obama said, “listen, it wouldn’t make much sense for me to try to edit his remarks. Bill Clinton is going to talk about what Bill Clinton wants to talk about Wednesday night.” Does this matter, this psycho-drama that seems to be part of the story line of this convention?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it’s a smart thing for Obama to do.
O’DONNELL: Say Bill Clinton is going to talk about what Bill Clinton wants to talk about?
BUCHANAN: Exactly. Look, we’re not exaggerating the importance of this. This is a question that could very well decide this election, whether Hillary Clinton voters come home. The truth is, there’s a deep wound here between the two that is never going to be healed. Not only because Barack Obama took away something they thought was theirs, the nomination and the party, but also because she was disrespected in this sense. She was told or the word went out she’s on the short list. She wasn’t. She wasn’t even vetted.
They picked Joe Biden, who got a few thousand votes in Iowa and says, your assignment is to go get the 18 million votes that Hillary got. You’re going to win Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan, but she won them. The clear question though is not deepness of the wound, but how the Clintons handle it. Are they going to do like Rockefeller did, which is go home? No. Are they going to do like Reagan did, which was sort of campaign half heartedly?
We’re not exaggerating the importance of this question. I think it’s decisive this fall.
O’DONNELL: James Carville said today, there is a healing to do and that healing is going to take longer than four days, which is the length of this convention. Rachel, Republicans are trying to stir the pot on this one. They released a new ad today with a woman in it who said that she supported Hillary Clinton and she is voting for John McCain. There’s an interesting back story to this, isn’t there?
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: There is an interesting point to that. Gene, you raised this with the idea of how kind of stupendously strange it would be for Senator Clinton’s pro-choice supporters to instead support John McCain, who has pledged to overturn Roe v. Wade. There’s a Hillary Clinton delegate who is in a new John McCain ad, who explains why she is supporting John McCain, encourages other Democrats to consider doing the same.
At a press conference in Denver, which the Republican party organized, that nurse from Wisconsin, former Hillary Clinton delegate, was asked, you describe yourself as a pro-choice Democrat; how could you vote for McCain on the choice issue? She said, as far as I understand it, John McCain’s against overturning Roe v. Wade.
MADDOW: Right, which he’s not. That’s not at all his position. That implies that for Democrats to support John McCain, they have to have no idea what John McCain stands for.
O’DONNELL: Isn’t that embarrassing then, that this woman in a McCain ad doesn’t know McCain’s record on pro-choice?
BUCHANAN: The relevant point is that McCain people are running these ads because they know if the Hillary people can be prevented from going home, they win the election. That’s why they’re going to this point. Norah, there is no more important issue right now on political ground than whether the Hillary folks come home.
O’DONNELL: Here are the facts too, why it matters. When we look at all of the national polls, Barack Obama has the support of about 80 percent of Democrats. John Kerry had the support of 89 percent of Democrats. We’re told by our political experts who follow these numbers if Barack Obama can get 89 percent of Democrats to support him, he’s going to jump four points in the national polls. That’s why there is room to grow at this convention. That’s why tonight matters. That’s why he’s got to sell his story to those Democrats who still hold reservations.
ROBINSON: That’s one of the reasons the convention matters. But I think we’re wrong if we put all of the eggs in the basket of the convention, in the sense that the time between now and the election is a time when voters on both sides are going to make up their mind. I find it hard to believe that they are going to be totally unmindful of the issues, when in many cases they care deeply about it.
BUCHANAN: Two occasions to do it, this convention and the first debate, for Barack Obama to bring those Democrats home. I think if it’s not done there, it’s hard to see how it’s going to be done, quite frankly. He can do it there. He can do it here, but it hasn’t been done yet.
MADDOW: I think we’re seeing a bit of what we saw at the end of the primaries, when Senator Clinton had no chance of winning, but stayed in and none of us could figure out the calculation about when she would get out. I said at the time and I still feel that way, looking back on it, that it was sort of post-rational. There was something going on other than math that explained why she was staying in the race.
That’s what’s going on with Senator Clinton supporters. When Schumer just described them to our reporter as being outliers, people who are not making a decision based on policy, people who are not even following Senator Clinton’s lead, who is telling supporters to support Barack Obama. But they say they’re doing it because they support Hillary Clinton. That’s post-rational. It no longer makes sense. How do you win an argument with that?
BUCHANAN: I don’t think it’s smart to call them post-rational if you want to win them over.
MADDOW: I’m not winning anybody over. I’m talking about how to win an argument.
O’DONNELL: We’ve got a lot more ahead here from the panel.
O’DONNELL: I’m getting this from upstairs. Before we do that, Gene and I have something for Chris and Keith. Look at this. It is a chotchki that they’re handing out down here to all of the supporters. Back to you guys.
MATTHEWS: I have to tell you the word of the night, delivered by Rachel Maddow, the new owner of the 9:00 in network television and cable, I have to tell you, post-rational. I love that phrase, post rational. Now let’s get back to NBC’s Tom Brokaw, who is with the Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius.
TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: That’s a phrase, governor, post-rationale, the product of a Stanford and Rhodes Scholar education. So we’ll get back to plain talk.
GOV. KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, KANSAS: She’s a very smart woman.
BROKAW: She is a very smart woman. Let’s pick up on what they were talking about. By the end of this week, will the Hillary Clinton supporters who have not been happy, it’s pretty clear, be back in the fold? Or will they walk out of here saying, you still got to come sell us?
SEBELIUS: I think the bottom line is that the Hillary Clinton supporters want what Hillary Clinton wanted, which is a new presidency, a new direction for this country, protection of women’s rights, universal health care, pay equity. Barack Obama is solidly behind those issues and John McCain is solidly against those issues. I don’t really see women of America honoring Hillary Clinton by voting for John McCain. It really doesn’t advance their interest. It doesn’t protect their daughters or their grand daughters.
BROKAW: You’re the governor and a Democrat of a red state, Kansas. Janet Napolitano, governor of Arizona, Dave Freudenthal, governor of Wyoming; can Barack Obama carry Kansas in this election?
SEBELIUS: I’m not going to commit to Kansas. I think he can do a lot better than a lot of the nominees have done. Kansas only twice in history has voted Democratic in a presidential election. Lyndon Johnson was the last time. There’s no doubt that he has strong roots in Kansas. His grandparents, his mom, come out of Kansas. He has very strong support among Democrats, independents and Republicans. The people that vote for me like Barack Obama.
So I won with just under 60 percent of the vote. If we can do our job, he’ll do very well in Kansas.
BROKAW: In many ways, Kansas has been a template for modern politics. There was even a book written about it, “What’s the Matter with Kansas.” The voters there voting more values than economic interests. Has that equation changed in Kansas?
SEBELIUS: I think it really has. I think what people have done the electing me, electing a new attorney general, electing a new school board, picking up seats in the legislature, is they want to see results. They want people to come together and care about their lives, care about their futures. And that’s exactly what attracted me to Barack in the first place. It’s the way he works. It’s not only talking about fixing the economy and helping people avoid foreclosure and paying attention to rural communities, where we could have—harness the assets of our clean energy, but actually has proposals to do that.
John McCain wants more of the same Bush policies. In Kansas, very Republican state, this Bush administration is very unpopular. I think if they understand that John McCain is more of the same and Barack Obama is the change we need, the kind of change that I have committed to, that governors across the country are looking for, we’ll have a partner in Washington.
BROKAW: It’s no secret that you were on the shorter list of vice presidential candidates for Barack Obama. When he did tell you and how did he tell you that you probably were not going to be the choice?
SEBELIUS: I’m not going to really talk about that. I’ve been an enthusiastic supporter of Senator Obama’s. I’ve been pleased to have Kansas featured in such a positive light. I’ll continue to do anything I can to make sure he’s the next president of the United States, because he’s exactly who we need for America.
BROKAW: What’s single biggest issue that he still has to sell America on as he leaves this hall?
SEBELIUS: I think they need to get to know him and tonight is going to be a great start. We just saw his sister. I think the more people get to know Michelle, a bright and beautiful and talented working mom, and his kids, understand his family background, his grandparents, the Dunhams, and the Obama family, who were the raised with hard work and perseverance and hope—that’s the American dream. It’s the American story that every family aspires to. And they want a president who connects with that. They want a president who understands that with struggles and hard work, the country can give a little help like they did to his grandfather, who went to college on the G.I. Bill after he served in the Army. That’s the America we can be once again. That’s the America Barack wants to deliver once again.
BROKAW: When you go into coffee shops on the main street in Hade (ph), Kansas, Selenus (ph), or Wichita or any of those, what do they say to you, your constituents, when they come up and want to talk to you about Obama, and what they don’t know about him that troubles them yet?
SEBELIUS: A lot of people want to know something about him. They know in Kansas that he has a Kansas connection. I think that they’re proud that I support him. I can be a validator for Barack Obama. They like me. They like Barack. They want to know why I did that, how I got connected. He’s been to Kansas a number of times. He’ll keep coming back. They like that.
BROKAW: Kathleen Sebelius, governor of Kansas, thank you very much for being with us.
SEBELIUS: Great to see you, Tom.
BROKAW: Keith, a little political footnote, her father is a very prominent player at the Democratic convention back in my time. He was Governor John Gilligan of Ohio.
BROKAW: Thanks very much.
SEBELIUS: He’s watching happily from Ohio.
BROKAW: Great. Keith?
OLBERMANN: Thank you, Tom. Please tell the governor that Chris and I were just talking about her father at the start of your interview, so thinking along the same lines. Thank you, sir.
The schedule again coming in the next hour, speeches by Caroline Kennedy, a tribute to her uncle, Senator Ted Kennedy. Whether or not he speaks, one of the great questions of the night. Later tonight, Michelle Obama. Our coverage of the Democratic convention continues from Denver right after this.
KEITH OLBERMANN, CO-HOST: The festivities and pageantry obviously under way tonight. But we are definitely not in Beijing anymore.
Good evening, again, from Denver.
Day one—night one of the Democratic National Convention. The Democratic Party has given the official theme of “One Nation,” might also be called family night. The marquee event on tonight’s schedule, of course, Senator Obama’s wife Michelle, to speak and minutes from now, the video tribute presentation to Senator Kennedy.
Minutes ago, the presumptive nominee’s half sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng is addressing the crowd about her commander-in-brother.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYA SOETORO-NG, BARACK OBAMA’S HALF-SISTER: I know that when we elect Barack as president he’ll be there for you just as he’s always been there for me. I know he’ll help you realize your dreams just as he helped me realize mine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And during the last hour, Speaker Pelosi, the chairwoman of this convention, is taking on the role of attacking that other guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We stand for Barack Obama for president of the United States. Republicans say that John McCain has experience. We say John McCain has the experience of being wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: A parallel construction she used throughout her speech.
Good evening, again, from Denver, Colorado. Alongside Chris Matthews, I’m Keith Olbermann.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, CO-HOST: I’m Chris Matthews.
OLBERMANN: All right. I said that already.
MATTHEWS: Well, tonight, it’s all about communion, a congress, if you will, convention, coming together. The whole purpose is these next four days is to bring this convention together so at the end of it, the poll numbers pop, there’s a bounce and the Hillary people move from somewhere to 70 percent to 80 percent for this guy, and then we’ll stop talking about it. I think.
OLBERMANN: Well, we hope so. But we’ve been wrong before on whether or not that’s going to be continuing as (INAUDIBLE).
MATTHEWS: Well, we’re not going to use the people out front here, to get together.
OLBERMANN: Let’s not point at them personally. This is –
MATTHEWS: I want to be personal.
OLBERMANN: People who were here earlier today.
MATTHEWS: Right. We had a couple people here trying to spread—these are fine people.
OLBERMANN: These are fine and good-hearted people.
MATTHEWS: We had a trio of people here earlier tonight during the “HARDBALL” part where they were trying to push the idea that Barack Obama is a, quote, I’ve never heard this phrase before, “registered Muslim.” Like a –
MATTHEWS: Right. And their evidence, and this is very important. I said, “What is your evidence?” They said, “First of all, the first line of argument was it was a congressional report.” And I said, “Well, which congressional committee?” “Well, actually it was a former investigator for Congress.” And I said, “Who?” And she said, “I’m not telling.”
This is how you present evidence on television. This is called agitprop—propaganda.
OLBERMANN: And there was a tin foil hat in their procession.
MATTHEWS: But I’m sure to going back to see (ph) all of this with great luster and saying, “Look at what we did, we got somebody out there heard it, somebody will believe it.”
OLBERMANN: Well, like the rationalization you and I sometimes pull back on, we were on TV, at least.
MATTHEWS: I think that was Gore Vidal who said that.
OLBERMANN: All right. Let’s get to business of the hour again with the Kennedy event coming up probably within the next 15 to 20 minutes. We will go to there immediately.
Let’s go now to the floor of the convention hall with David Gregory, who’s here with one of our hosts, the governor of Colorado—David.
DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS: Thanks very much, Keith.
Governor Ritter, it’s great to be here. Congratulations on this event.
GOV. BILL RITTER, (D) COLORADO: Thank you, David.
GREGORY: Now, we’re finally be here, I want to talk politics with you. The stakes tonight—the message tonight: defining Barack Obama. In many ways this is really about independent voters. Independent voters in states like Colorado who maybe upset, dissatisfied with President Bush but they’re not quite there yet on Barack Obama. How does he get there? How does he get to those voters?
RITTER: Well, I guess, he gets there by, I think, having a message that resonates with them and really talking about a different future.
I say this from some experience. I’m a Democrat elected in Colorado. We’ve got several states out here that used to be Republican voters; now, they’re Democratic. We can appeal to independent voters by talking about issues they care about, education, education reform, healthcare—something they great deal care about, economy.
We have a message here about a different energy past and our energy future and creating economy around it, creating jobs around it. That’s something that really resonates with the independent voters and, quite frankly, with moderate Republicans and, I think, Barack Obama has great—he has got a great voice for both of those groups.
GREGORY: When you talk to Obama about this important state of Colorado, and winning this state, you are a figure, a public figure of the new west politically. What do you tell him to understand the politics of the west?
RITTER: Well, that people care out here about the economy, obviously, but that economic development can come from defining this different energy future in part. His energy policy actually resonates, I think, very well and corresponds with what we have done.
But also people care about the land. They care about air and water and wildlife and really about preserving local communities, and you have to strike that balance with oil and gas development and all of those preservation issues.
So, that’s how we talk to him about it, that people here are pragmatic. They’re centrist; they’re balanced in their view. But the most important thing is that they care about the American economy that can bring jobs to the middle class—and he’s got a way to think about that that helps in the west.
GREGORY: Senator Obama comes into this convention in a dead heat with Senator McCain. Given all the headwinds against the Republican Party, where do you think McCain has been effective against Obama this summer?
RITTER: Well, I think that the price of fuel at the pump and the economy. Interestingly, I think Republicans have a lot of responsibility they should take for that and instead they’ve been able to, I think, really blame Democrats and it’s one of those deals—there’s an irony there, that we’re seeing a resurgence out of that argument from Democratic side to the center. Energy portfolio has to be diversified and that you really can’t say that $4 a gallon gasoline is responsibility of, you know, immediate drilling.
So we are really, I think, sending a message out to voters that don’t be taken in by this message that $4 a gallon gasoline can go away somehow, immediately, because we’re going to do offshore drilling. And while Democrats are in favor of offshore drilling and finding ways to strike that balance, the important part here for Colorado is that you have a way of thinking about it that’s different.
If you came with an all drilling policy, I believe that’s a failure in Colorado. You say it’s about a lot of different things including wind and solar and biomass. He talks about that. That’s an absolute winner here in this state.
GREGORY: And beyond the issues, there’s the comfort factor, the comfort level with Obama. Can he reach voters in this state and beyond and make them feel comfortable? Are voters in Colorado and in the west values voters this fall?
RITTER: No, I think, to say in this state, you have pragmatists. There’s really a big group of pragmatists, some of them is what I called moral pragmatists, where value issues matter, but where government is concerned, they want it to work, they want it really to perform those important public functions but then they don’t think this should be all about government. They are what we also call as government pragmatists, who care less about value issues.
And so you can get by in this state, and it’s important. Social issues are important to me, they’re important to the people of the state, but I think the functioning of government that its legitimate public functions—education, transportation, and then you’ll invest in those things, that’s how you get to voters in the state.
GREGORY: Right. We’re waiting to hear the tribute to Senator Kennedy and we know that he’ll have some role tonight. What can you tell us about that and what do you think it’s going to mean to this audience tonight?
RITTER: Well, I think it means such a great deal. I have to tell you, I think, you know, there’s not been a presidential candidate on the Democratic side since John F. Kennedy like Barack Obama. Phenomenal for a different reason perhaps but still phenomenal. His youth, it was a part of it. His rhetoric was a part of it. Certainly, the fact that he was catholic.
All of those things compared to tonight and to this week and I think there’s great symmetry in honoring Ted Kennedy the final brother in that family, really, his life of public service, great symmetry to do that at this convention, where really a John Kennedy-like figure will be nominated for president of the United States.
GREGORY: In the end here in Colorado, talk tactically. You know, you know the game here. You know the landscape. What does Barack Obama do to win here?
RITTER: Well, we have to get out the vote. In a very serious way, we have to get on to –
GREGORY: Registration is a big focus here. They got a lot of the voters.
RITTER: I’ll tell you—Barack Obama had the best ground game during our caucuses, of any candidate I’ve ever seen in my life. And I think that he does have just to get out the vote effort. It’s about registration; it’s really about reaching independents, it’s your first question, David—getting into the hearts and minds of independents in this state.
GREGORY: All right. Governor Ritter, thanks again for having us here in Denver. I love this city. And it’s great to see you (INAUDIBLE) being here.
RITTER: Thank you. It’s great to see you back here, David.
GREGORY: All right. Thanks so much.
RITTER: Appreciate it.
OLBERMANN: David Gregory at the Pepsi Center. Thank you, David.
MATTHEWS: Robert Gibbs is the Obama campaign communications director.
Robert, thank you for joining us. You’re right near (INAUDIBLE) -- are we going to see a real coming together of Bill Clinton, the former president and Democratic nominee for president, Barack Obama? When will we see them in the same picture together, having lunch together, hanging out together in a friendly environment? When will that happen?
ROBERT GIBBS, OBAMA CAMPAIGN COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, look, they are trying to get together real soon but they had a long conversation last Thursday on our campaign bus as we’re rolling through Virginia. You know, Chris, this party is united. This party is going to be united coming out of Denver here on Friday.
We’re united by a simple message and that is we need change in this country. We can’t have four more years of the same George Bush, John McCain policies that have taken this country in the wrong direction—that what unites a lot of different delegates that have come here supporting different candidates in the past. But it’s important that people understand we are going to be united, that we have to have change in November.
MATTHEWS: Well, again, I haven’t seen a picture yet of Bill Clinton with Barack Obama. When will I see them together?
GIBBS: Real soon.
MATTHEWS: Real soon. Let me ask about this very bad blood that went on during South Carolina, all the primaries in the beginning when comments were made by former President Clinton, “You know, this is a fairy tale,” comparisons of the success in states like South Carolina by Barack Obama with those of Jesse Jackson in the past, in the way the seems to have minimized the success of Barack Obama, his dominance, if you will, of this effort. Were they racist or were they just unfortunate? How would you describe those comments by Bill Clinton?
GIBBS: You know, Chris, I remember South Carolina. It was—it all happened so fast. We were quickly off to—I don’t know how many states for February 5th. We didn’t have a lot of time to focus on this.
Look, I don’t think in any way, shape, or form were those comments racist. There’s been no better advocate for the African-American community than former President Bill Clinton. We’re a united party. Somebody—a very exclusive club of former presidents and we look to hope to use wisdom and the campaign skills of Bill Clinton to good use in the fall, to bring Democrats together, to bring independents and Republicans out in places like Colorado and all throughout the west and win the White House for the first time since he occupied it a little over eight years ago.
MATTHEWS: Let’s talk about the roll call. Keith has been raising it, and he may want to jump on this. He’s been raising the question as to what’s the choreography come Wednesday night? We have watched a number of conventions where the loser grandly and magnificently, or magnanimously says, “I ask this be made unanimous.” Will there be a moment like that of unity?
GIBBS: Well, look, the logistics of this are in some flux and are being worked out. But again, what I think you will see after that roll call is a party that’s united.
Look, again, we understand that people came with strong passions. Look, Senator Clinton ran a fabulous campaign. She was an outspoken and eloquent voice for working families, for better healthcare, for better schools—that’s exactly what Barack Obama wants to see in this country and that’s what we’re here to advocate each and every night in this platform.
OLBERMANN: All right. Mr. Gibbs, what’s the best case scenario? What do you see as best case scenario of these conversations—if we don’t call them negotiations—between you and those supporters of sort of running what’s left of the Clinton campaign as we wait for the Kennedy thing tonight?
GIBBS: Well, look, here’s what I think is going to happen. I think you’re going to hear a very passionate and very eloquent speech tomorrow night from Senator Clinton. And she’s going to tell the hall and all of America that the candidate that she most wants to see as president of the United States is Barack Obama. I think that’s going to carry a tremendous amount of weight with Democrats that may not be as excited right now as we’d like them to be.
But I guarantee that 10 weeks, a little over 10 weeks from now, on election night, Democrats will come out in full force in numbers like you’ve never seen before.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask about the question as to the role they’re going to play. Do you expect Bill Clinton to barnstorm his way through those areas where he did well, southern white guys, if you will?
MATTHEWS: In the Appalachian area, states that can be tricky—portions of Ohio, portions of Pennsylvania—Are you going to really surgically use Bill the way for example Eddie Rendell, the governor of Pennsylvania was able to call in the air strikes by the Clintons?
GIBBS: Well, look, former President Clinton has expressed a desire to get out and campaign. Obviously, Senator Clinton has been in key states for us—Florida, New Mexico, and other places recently. They’ve both been fabulous. They’ve both been extraordinarily helpful. We couldn’t ask anything more.
And I think you mentioned it. Look, this race is going to decided in places like Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Youngstown, Ohio, and Macomb County, Michigan. And look, you got a great choice between these two candidates.
John McCain was asked last week fairly innocently, I would presume, by a reporter how many houses do you own? And his answer was “I’ll get back to you. I’ll get some staff to get you that answer.” For your viewers, guys, the answer was seven. That’s how many houses they own.
But I think there are voters sitting here tonight in Scranton, in Youngstown, in Macomb County, that are just trying to make their mortgage payment for next month. They want a president that’s in touch with their problems, that understands that this economy has to get moving again and that choice is Barack Obama.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you for joining us over here at the MSNBC site.
GIBBS: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Robert Gibbs, communication director.
Let’s go right now to David Gregory who is with former Democratic nominee for president, John Kerry.
GREGORY: Chris, thank you very much.
Senator Kerry, good to see you.
SEN. JOHN KERRY, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: Nice to see you. (INAUDIBLE).
GREGORY: We, of course, are awaiting the tribute to Senator Kennedy. How is he? Where is he? And what should we expect from him tonight?
KERRY: Well, Senator Kennedy is doing unbelievably well but he makes really day-to-day decisions about what he’s going to do or what he’s feeling up to. I know that he’s, I mean, he was reported to be in Denver today. I can’t tell you, you know, what he will personally do with respect to the tribute.
I think he’s welcoming the video and Caroline, obviously, is going to speak. I think it’s going to be a very moving, unbelievable moment. And we have high hopes, obviously, of being able to see it.
GREGORY: Senator, thank you. We’re going to go back up to Keith.
OLBERMANN: Well, the moment has arrived now, David. Thank you and thank you to Senator Kerry.
There she is—Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, who will begin, and Maria Shriver, the governor’s wife.
Let’s now go ahead to the podium at the Pepsi Center and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CAROLINE KENNEDY SCHLOSSBERG, OBAMA SUPPORTER: Thank you. I’m here tonight—I’m here tonight to pay tribute to two men who have changed my life and the life of this country—Barack Obama and Edward M. Kennedy.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
KENNEDY: Their stories are very different but they share a commitment to the timeless American ideals of justice and fairness, service and sacrifice, faith and family. Leaders like them come along rarely but once or twice in a lifetime, they come along just when we need them the most. This is one of those moments.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
KENNEDY: As our nation faces a fundamental choice between moving forward or falling farther behind, Senator Obama offers the change we need. Everywhere I go in this country people tell me that Barack Obama is making them feel hopeful the way they did when my father was president.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
KENNEDY: It’s partly the words he uses, words that remind us that we are all in this together, and that we each have something to contribute to this country that has given us so much. But it’s a life he’s led that’s the true source of this inspiration. A life spent fighting for ordinary people in neighborhoods and courts and in the state senate and in the United States Senate. I’ve never had someone inspire me the way people tell me my father inspired them but I do now—Barack Obama.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
KENNEDY: And I know someone else who’s been inspired all over again by Senator Obama. In our family he’s known as “Uncle Teddy.”
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
KENNEDY: More than any senator of his generation or perhaps any generation, Teddy has made life better for people in this country and around the world. For 46 years, he’s been so much more than just a senator for the people of Massachusetts. He’s been a senator for all who believe in a dream that never dies.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
KENNEDY: If you’re no longer being denied a job because of your race, gender or disability, or you’ve seen a rise in minimum wage that you are being paid, Teddy is your senator, too.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
KENNEDY: And if your children are receiving healthcare, thanks to Children’s Health Insurance Program, if you see a nurse at a community health center, or if you’re benefiting from the Medicare program that he fought to create—and just last month he returned to the Senate to save, Teddy is your senator, too.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
KENNEDY: If your child is getting an early boost in life through head start or attending a better school or can go to college because the Pell Grant has made it more affordable, Teddy is your senator, too.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
KENNEDY: And if you’re an 18-year-old who’s going vote for the first time and I bet it will be for Barack Obama, Teddy is your senator, too.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
KENNEDY: Not only has Teddy helped put the “American Dream” within reach for so many families, he’s been a powerful force around the world for human rights and human dignity, for refugees, and the dispossessed. He helped end the apartheid in South Africa and bring peace to Northern Ireland.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
KENNEDY: He’s been a leader on arms control. And he took a strong, early, and courageous stand against the war in Iraq.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
KENNEDY: He’s a man who’s always insists that America live up to her highest ideals, who always fights for what he knows is right and he was always there for others. I have seen it in my own life. No matter how busy he is, he never fails to find time for those in pain, those in grief, or those who just need a hug.
In our family, he’s never missed a first communion, a graduation, or a chance to walk one of his nieces down the aisle. He has a special relationship with each of us. And his 60 great nieces and nephews all know that the best cookies and the best laughs are always found at Uncle Teddy’s.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
KENNEDY: Whether he’s teaching us about failing, about the Senate or about life, he has shown us how to chart our course, take the helm, and sail against the wind. And this summer, as he faced yet another challenge, he and Vicki have taught us all about dignity, courage, and the power of love.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
KENNEDY: In this campaign, Barack Obama has no greater champion and when he’s president, he will have no stronger partner in the United States Senate.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
KENNEDY: Now it is my honor to introduce a tribute to Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
SEN. EDWARD M. KENNEDY, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: The sea, for me, has always been a metaphor of life. The sea is constantly evolving, changing, shifting aspect of both nature and of life. That sort of exposure to the sea is both enriching and enhancing and it’s fun.
VICKI KENNEDY, EDWARD KENNEDY’S WIFE: The sea, the wind, the outdoors, it is the most renewing, healing place for him and always has been.
E. KENNEDY: That’s a good job.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
E. KENNEDY: Sway it a little bit.
KERRY: He loves getting out and sailing and I think he’s never more at peace and perhaps on some ways never more in touch with his family and his roots and his brothers than when he’s out there sailing.
E. KENNEDY: I grew up in a family that wanted to achieve in the sense of making a difference in people’s lives.
KERRY: I know that Ted Kennedy has always been unbelievably sensitive to the accomplishments of his brothers. They were his inspiration.
REP. JOHN LEWIS, (D) GEORGIA: He has a legacy. He’s done his very best to pick up where his two brothers left off.
E. KENNEDY: Like my three brothers before me, I pick up a fallen standard, sustained by their memory of our priceless years together, I shall try to carry forward that special commitment to justice, to excellence, to courage, that distinguished their lives.
LEWIS: He championed the calls of those who have been left out—the poor, the elderly, our children—those without education.
V. KENNEDY: We were brought up to believe that, you know, to those who much is given, much is required, but it’s really bigger than that. He really feels a moral obligation to do everything possible to make this world a better place.
LEWIS: I heard Senator Kennedy said on many occasions that healthcare is not a privilege, it is a right.
E. KENNEDY: As long as I have a voice in the United States Senate, it’s going to be for that Democratic platform plank that provides decent quality health care north and south, east and west, for all Americans as a matter of right and not a privilege.
KERRY: Because of Ted Kennedy, people have things today, they’re able to do things today, they’re able to reach for the “American Dream” in ways that they never imagined.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I first met the senator at something called “Children’s Congress” through the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. And he asked me to come to testify in front of Congress about stem cell research and support for that. If I could help someone almost as much as Senator Kennedy has helped me then I’d be a very happy person.
E. KENNEDY: City Year has given the opportunity for the best of our young people to serve in the community.
KERRY: He deeply believes that national service ought to be part of the every day life of every single American.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He committed right away to introduce new legislation to take programs like City Year to scale, to make it possible for young people all over our country to serve our country.
V. KENNEDY: He deeply believes in service. Even as a United States senator he’s read every Tuesday at a local school in Washington, D.C. as part of an “Everybody Wins” program.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was signed up for this reading program and I was assigned to read with Senator Kennedy as our reading partner. It gave me someone to want to do well for and make proud. I’m going to Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond and I’ll be majoring in education.
KERRY: We’re talking about a man of incredible sensitivity. He has always been there for the troops. He’s always been there understanding the sacrifices that those troops made. He’s been there for their families.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We met Senator Kennedy for the first time in November of 2003 when we buried our son, John, at Arlington National Cemetery.
V. KENNEDY: Their son was lost because his humvee was not uparmored and they’ve really dedicated their lives to making sure that other young men and women don’t suffer the same fate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John died just after his 20th birthday. Senator Kennedy agreed to call hearings, within six months of those hearings, all troops in Iraq had body armor, and to that I owe the senator.
E. KENNEDY: Brian and his wife, Alma, turned that enormous personal tragedy into a remarkable force for change.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Kennedy was—been gold star family before I was born. He remembers where his mother was, where his father was, when they came to tell him his brother Joseph was killed. We share a wound that doesn’t heal. And in a deep and abiding love for this country—and Senator Kennedy taught me that government can function for the common man.
V. KENNEDY: His patriotism, his family, his faith really. Those three things are just intrinsic to who he is. And I think of him as this guy who’s got really, really big shoulders and he’s strong for all of us and he’s funny and he sort of leads the way. He’s the pied piper in our family.
E. KENNEDY: (INAUDIBLE) What do we call the one way, way, way at the tipping tip?
UNIDENTIFIED KID: The fisherman.
E. KENNEDY: Fisherman.
UNIDENTIFIED KID: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don’t tell me you want to put the fisherman on the other side now, dad.
LEWIS: In spite of all of the changes, and in spite all of the progress, Senator Kennedy would tell us that we still have a great distance to go.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D-IL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The year I was born, President Kennedy let out word that the torch had been passed to a new generation of Americans. He was right. It had. It was passed to his youngest brother. In the battles to the 1960’s to the battles of today, he has carried that torch lighting the way for all who share his American ideas.
KERRY: This moment is a moment for us to get healthcare done and Ted Kennedy wants to be leading the charge, where he ought to be, the head of that committee, making sure that he’s working with President Obama to get healthcare for all Americans.
E. KENNEDY: We’ll break the old gridlock and finally make healthcare what it should be in America—a fundamental right for all and not just an expensive privilege for the few.
LEWIS: I see the day when President Barack Obama and Ted Kennedy will be moving progressive legislation through the Congress to help some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
E. KENNEDY: The people in this country are going to respond to it in a hopeful and a positive way. It’s going be a very, very dramatic and important alteration in change. And to be it’s one that I’m looking forward to being part it.
My friends, I ask you to join in this historic journey to have the courage to choose change. It’s time again for a new generation of leadership. It is time now for Barack Obama.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We’re set now.
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, Senator Edward M. Kennedy!
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
SEN. TED KENNEDY (D-MA): Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Caroline. My fellow Democrats, my fellow Americans, it is so wonderful to be here.
And nothing, nothing is going to keep me away from this special gathering tonight.
I have come here tonight to stand with you to change America, to restore its future, to rise to our best ideals and to elect Barack Obama president of the United States.
As I look ahead I am strengthened by family and friendship. So many of you have been with me in the happiest days and the hardest days. Together we have known success and seen setbacks, victory and defeat. But we have never lost our belief that we are all called to a better country and a newer world. I pledge to you — I pledge to you that I will be there next January on the floor of the United States when we begin the great test.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you.
For me this is a season of hope — new hope for a justice and fair prosperity for the many, and not just for the few — new hope. And this is the cause of my life. New hope that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American — north, south, east, west, young, old — will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege.
We can meet these challenges with Barack Obama. Yes, we can, and finally, yes, we will.
Barack Obama will close the book on the old politics of race, gender, and group against group and straight against gay.
And Barack Obama will be a commander-in-chief who understands that young Americans in uniform must never be committed to a mistake, but always for a mission worthy of their bravery.
We are told that Barack Obama believes too much in an America of high principle and bold endeavor, but when John Kennedy thought of going to the moon, he didn’t say it’s too far to get there we shouldn’t even try. Our people answered his call and rose to the challenge and today an American flag still marks the surface of the moon.
Yes, we are all Americans. This is what we do. We reach the moon. We scale the heights. I know it. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it. And we can do it again.
There is a new wave of change all around us, and if we set our compass true, we will reach our destination not merely victory for our party but renewal for our nation. And this November the torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans, so with Barack Obama and for you and for me, our country will be committed to his cause. The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on.
OLBERMANN: “If we set our compass is true.” Strong of voice, robust in laughter, optimistic in outlook, Sen. Kennedy unfailing in his support for health care, strident in insistence that great commander-in-chief never commits American troops to a mistake.
And, Chris, I think there were a few brief moments of halting in the delivery but if you had simply heard that speech, you would have never have known anything was slowing this man down and perhaps nothing can.
MATTHEWS: Well, we have seen a Kennedy grow old. That’s tonight’s story I think. And I look at those pictures and video of his young brothers. You know, at the risk of being criticized again for expressing sentiment about my country and its ideals, I feel something when somebody talks about unity among races and difference of orientations. And he talked about that, but there was also the personable (ph), again, to see the young brothers together and realize that they all died in the line of country, in the line of duty. Joe, the oldest, was killed by the Nazis. Jack killed by a communist. Bobby by terrorists. All died in the line of duty. And there is the youngest brother.
I remember Jack Kennedy, when he was asked to pick in the early ‘50s the five greatest senators of all time, could only look backward. If he had been able to look forward, he would have picked his younger brother as well.
And of course, it’s too early to render that judgment. I like the fact he said he would be back here in January casting a vote, because it’s a very challenging health threat he faces with a brain tumor. And yet he rose to this occasion.
OLBERMANN: And we were told that that speech from Sen. Kennedy would be four minutes long. I don’t think he slowed it down. I think that was a cautionary estimate and what he performed how he gave of himself again. Senator Schumer said earlier in discussing the future for Senator Clinton in the Senate, that sometimes defeat brings greatness, that sometimes the pivotal moment of a life is not a triumph, but how you are redirected by not attaining something you sought. And we’re now 28 years since Senator Kennedy did not wrest the Democratic nomination for president away from Jimmy Carter, and that has been an ordinary difference obviously for him, what he could contribute to this country and to this country itself.
We had this debate when the news first came about this rhetorical debate, not an argument ...
MATTHEWS: You know —
OLBERMANN: ... whether who has contributed, who made the biggest impact and could a president Ted Kennedy have had as much impact on this country as Senator Ted Kennedy did for the 45 years in the Senate.
MATTHEWS: Great question. A couple years ago, a senator, I think, from Tennessee was thinking of running for the Senate. And he wondered if it was worth the effort to get into that body. Was there really anybody in that body he wanted to speak in front of. And a fellow Republican, who was a senator came up to him and said, “You know who is worth being in the room with? You know who you’d like to listen to you when you speak? Ironically, Ted Kennedy.”
He’s the face of history, the man who has a sense of what that body has been able to do or not do for all of the years since he went in there in ‘63. You know, you talk about to people like Orrin Hatch. They love the guy. And it’s hard to believe because as somebody pointed out — was it David Gregory? Tom Brokaw, only half an hour ago said, he used to be the poster boy. You put him on the fundraising letter, like Bella Addison (ph) in New York. You want to raise money on the right, put Ted Kennedy’s name on the fundraising letter. They’re not going to do that anymore, because I think it’s — perhaps to use a phrase from Rachel, it’s post-politics in this case.
OLBERMANN: Right. His party as U.S. senator — that’s his party. Let’s get more reaction from Sen. Kennedy’s Massachusetts colleague, John Kerry — Senator Kerry and his wife Teresa, standing by inside the convention center with David Gregory. David?
GREGORY: Keith, thank you very much. Senator Kerry and Teresa, welcome. Your thoughts after having seen that?
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA): Well, I’m really almost speechless to be honest with you. People don’t know how much courage that took. That was not easy. And there were a lot of questions about whether or not he’d really be able to pull it off. He was brilliant. And I think it’s one of those moments that everyone will be glad they were here.
GREGORY: Teresa, what do you think this campaign means to Sen. Kennedy that he would fight his obvious ailment, that he’s battling cancer to be here tonight?
TERESA KERRY, WIFE OF SEN. JOHN KERRY: Well, I think the campaign brings together almost his life and his family’s life story which is civil rights, justice, health, and basically the well-being of the country. And I think the hope in Barack that he has and the hope for the country are exactly the hope that he’s always carried in his heart and I think Caroline did a good job (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
GREGORY: He’s been a big influence in your political life. What is his influence in this campaign for Barack Obama and for this party right now?
J. KERRY: Well, I think that Ted Kennedy has been fighting for the things that Barack Obama has made priorities of the campaign and so this is really — and also Barack Obama represents the kind of change that President Kennedy represented in his time. So I think Ted feels a very real connection to this. And in my judgment, health care, the working people, the average person in America who is struggling now to make ends meet — those are Ted Kennedy’s issues. And those are the issues of this campaign of which there is such a gulf between John McCain and Barack Obama.
GREGORY: You knew Sen. Kennedy well. As he looked out into these faces tonight with his tear-filled eyes, in his mind and in his gut and in his heart, was this a farewell or just another chapter?
J. KERRY: Ted Kennedy said he looks forward to being there in January, and believe me, he means it. He looks forward to — he wants to be there chairing that committee and helping to get health care done.
GREGORY: Let me ask you about you. What’s it like to be here four years after you were in Barack Obama’s position?
J. KERRY: I’m excited. I think this is really a critical moment for the country. I put my heart into this effort for Barack. I believe in him. I believe in the moment. And I’m convinced that if we go out and do our work, our country can embrace a wonderful moment where we legislate intelligently and thoughtfully for the real concerns of the American people over the course of the next year. As we have to change our politics, Barack is leading that effort.
GREGORY: On commander-in-chief front, there’s a gap that he has to close with John McCain. Does he use his campaign to define McCain in a way you didn’t even define Bush as effectively as you might have four years ago?
J. KERRY: Well, perhaps he obviously needs to define the differences with John McCain. But people in America need to understand Barack Obama is older than John Kennedy, older than Bill Clinton, older than Teddy Roosevelt when they became commander-in-chief and president. Barack Obama, in fact, has made the right judgments.
What I care about as a former soldier is the commander-in-chief going make the right judgments about where they send those troops? Barack Obama was right about Iraq. He’s been right about Afghanistan. I believe he’s shown the right judgment. John McCain has not.
GREGORY: Senator, great to see you. Thanks for stopping by. Gentlemen, back to you.
OLBERMANN: David Gregory, thank you kindly. And Sen. Kerry, Mrs. Kerry, thank you as well.
As we have two bits of traffic as we prepare for Michelle Obama’s speech, coming up now within an hour, the second highlight after that extraordinary presentation by Sen. Kennedy. Again, if you did not know the developments of the last few months, you might have said, “Well, there’s another Kennedy speech.” It was that good and that courageous and that Kennedy and that relentless.
The delay there — talking about possible past comparisons to events in the life of his elder brother, Bobby and his speech in Atlantic City in 1964 held up for 22 minutes held up by applause. It wasn’t quite that. But the clock that we ran here, a minute and 15 seconds before that delegate — before the convention would let Sen. Kennedy talk.
However, as we continue on with the mechanics of this convention, there’s a bit of news about this roll call issue. The Associated Press is reporting that signing petitions has begun for both Obama and Clinton for nominations for president as part of an agreement as to what’s going to happen for the roll call on Wednesday.
So this would qualify as breaking news. The primary rivals according to the Associated Press have agreed both candidates will be nominated before a roll call vote on Wednesday under the agreement Clinton will get some votes at the beginning of the roll call, then cut it off to declare Obama the nominee by acclamation. And that would presumably put an exclamation point to the entire topic.
Peace, forgive me for raising the hand like Neville Chamberlain, in our time.
Again, we have the Michelle Obama speech coming up and we have much more to talk about from the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Stay with us, please.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to Denver, of course. It’s getting dark out here. MSNBC’s coverage of the Democratic Convention continues. We had an amazing moment in history, Sen. Ted Kennedy did come out and address the convention. And joining us now is his close friend, Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut. Well, Sen. Dodd, what did you feel?
SEN. CHRIS DODD (D-CT): Well, just raw emotion, Chris. He’s my best friend in the Senate and he looked great. That’s the most important thing, and that voice of his was strong and vibrant. And we’re all just praying and hoping he’s going to get back on his feet again. I love seeing him here. I can’t tell you.
I was due to come in tomorrow. But I talked to him the day before yesterday. He said, “I’m going to be out there Monday night.” And I said, “I’m going to be there Monday night.” I wouldn’t have missed that for anything else in the world.
MATTHEWS: What is it like? I know you saw the video. What is it like being with Ted Kennedy out there in rough seas, out there in the North Atlantic? What is that like?
DODD: What happens on the rough seas stays on the rough seas. I’m not telling any stories on the rough seas. But I can tell you I was with, with Teddy the night he bought that boat about 20 years ago on Martha’s Vineyard, went over. It was a great evening. He fell in love with Maya, a great schooner, been out many times with his family.
Had a great sail in summer, me and Vicky and Teddy and Patrick and other group of friends. We raced from Nantucket, back to Hyannis and he was in charge and as we sailed up. It was just a great day, seeing the boat, him tonight. Seeing him at this convention brings back a flood of memories and a guy who cares so deeply about our country.
I have been on the boat with him, Chris, when no one else has been around. And he’s spoken as passionately with as much conviction about what he cares about this country. I know the issues that he talks about are so heartfelt of what he hopes for America.
MATTHEWS: Senator, you said you talked to him before both of you cam out here, or arrived here. Did you see him before this speech?
DODD: No, I did not. I really just got in here about, literally just walked into the hall in time. My plane was delayed getting here so I didn’t have a chance to talk to him tonight. But I will tomorrow.
MATTHEWS: So, was it an overwhelming surprise? I mean, seeing him like that, without knowing the events of his health in the last several months, would it have been possible to say that anything had been or was wrong? It was extraordinary.
DODD: Well, it was. He is strong and he’s vibrant. And I have talked to him and Vicky several times a week over the last couple of months. And his voice is always strong, Keith, he is vibrant. We talked about the issues. He has been deeply concerned about the Higher Education Bill and Mental Health Parity Bill, which he’s been deeply involved in. And Barbara Mikulski of Maryland handled the Higher Education Bill and did a wonderful job of getting it done.
And I have been working on the Mental Health Parity Bill with Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici have deeply involved in.
When I talk to him, Keith, several times a week, he wants to know every detail. How it is going? What’s happening? So despite all that he has been through, his interest and his involvement on the issues has been rather extraordinary.
OLBERMANN: Can you gauge to any degree for us, senator, the change? Has there actually been one in him in terms of the stridency about that subject, that public health care should not be a privilege. It should not be any kind of random game, but it is an absolute right. There just seemed to be one extra kick to him when he said that tonight for reasons that I would think would be obvious.
DODD: Well, obviously, look, his family has been through it. I mean, his brother, President Kennedy, of course, had his own health issues. And watching what Teddy has had to go through and Patrick and Kara, watching what his family —so they understand the issue. But understand it as well as a family of means they have been able to take care of these things financially. And to understand as he does, as deeply as he does what it means to be a family that goes through similar health care crises, and not have the capacity to afford this.
It has been a source of great conviction for him ever since I have known him as well as I have the last 30 years. I can just tell you this, that he is determined on January 21st to be sitting in the seat in the United States Senate with Barack Obama as president of the United States and determined to see that committee. I sit next to him on the committee, to make sure that in the coming weeks and months of 2009, we’re going to have a national health care plan for all Americans in this country.
There is nothing that he cares about as much as that issue. I am just convinced he will be there and determined to be there when Barack Obama signs that Universal Health Care Bill into the law.
MATTHEWS: Senator Dodd, for 30 years now, people have tried to pick up the banner of the Kennedy family to run in the Kennedy tradition. In fact a lot of Kennedy aides tried to do it. It didn’t work. Why do you believe that Ted Kennedy and Caroline and several members of the family have more or less anointed Barack Obama as the legatee?
DODD: Well, I think they see in Barack Obama exactly what John Kennedy brought to the Democratic Party in 1960. And Chris, I happened to have been at that convention as a young page in Los Angeles some 48 years ago. And they saw the Democratic Party and the country did that young, vibrant leader who offered a different path for America.
And Barack Obama captured the imagination of our country, and the same exact way and having been involved in that race as you know as an opponent if you will for the —number of debates and contests we went through, I saw it as well quite candidly early on. This is a very special American with a very special commitment to our country in the same way that John Kennedy did in 1960. Ted Kennedy saw that as well.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much. Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut, the closest friend in the Senate, I believe, of Ted Kennedy.
OLBERMANN: Thanks. In the next hour, the other big moment, the big emotional moment of tonight’s convention — Michelle Obama. We will bring that to you live from here in Denver roughly 30 minutes from now and when we continue with MSNBC’s coverage of the Democratic Convention live from Denver, Colorado.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, CO-HOST: MSNBC’s continuing coverage of the Democratic National Convention, a dramatic night already tonight. A video tribute to Senator Ted Kennedy followed by a surprise appearance by the senator.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED KENNEDY, (D) MASSACHUSSETS: and this November the torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans. so with Barack Obama and for you and for me our country will be committed to his cause. The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That is of course, a homage to what he said in 1980. For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end. But for all those whose care is our concern the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die.
A little reprise of that tonight, Keith. Quite a moment tonight.
Michelle Obama has the big job, she has to sell herself, her party, sell the ticket and her sell her husband.
KEITH OLBERMANN, CO-HOST: Throughout the primary all we heard was the Obama story, especially hers, was getting out in sound bytes and truncated snippets and was not being told correctly and accurately about what was overcome in both of these families and what they overcame in the early years of their marriage and that there was a conviction on the part of those who supported Obama back when that was a seven-person race among the Democrats. That if that story got out, any newness to them—let’s use, utterly polite refrain for every—everybody’s reaction to the Obamas as something different. Let’s call it newness. that if the Obamas’ stories, both of them got out, especially hers, there would be like with all other things that are unfamiliar or new, as soon as you know it firsthand, as soon as you feel like the person is in the room with you, any sense of antipathy, strangeness, or I don’t know you, goes out the window and the people are fairly evaluated. And you say, you know what? I went through things like that.
It harkens back to Barack Obama’s speech after the first wave of the Reverend Wright disaster or issue where he took that and made it not about an issue, I wasn’t at these sermons and was at these. He made it into a bigger argument about where we are as a country. If she somehow comes out and talks about her position and her representation of parts of this country it could be a watershed moment for her and for the campaign.
MATTHEWS: You know, the people watching tonight—who come from families where they’re lucky, where their parents, at least one parent, and they give up the stuff you don’t need like nightclubs and steaks and they concentrate on educational expenses and taking care of the kids, whether getting braces, getting piano lessons. You know the people who always said that is what America is about. The parents that sacrifice for the kids. The kids overcome difficulties, being born poor without a parent. yet the most costly culturally conservative person, I’m not saying bigoted person, the most culturally conservative person said those people in the ghetto, why don’t they get their act together, why don’t they do it, why do they need affirmative action, why don’t they do it on their own?
Here is a guy and wife—her brother won a scholarship to play ball at Princeton, OK, got there on a grant, whatever. She gets an academic grant. She gets there. He gets into Columbia. Gets into Harvard Law. Then makes editor of “The Law Review.” They have done everything that every conservative white guy has ever said everybody should do in this country then they fall back on critics. Oh, he’s—like this whacko down here tonight. Oh, he is a Muslim.
Some people find it very hard to accept the fact that this family worked hard and played by the rules. This is the Bill Cosby family. This is the family that Bill Cosby talks about.
OLBERMANN: The other thing that seems to be difficult to swallow about them, the same point of view you raised, this sense that maybe the system of intervention in people’s lives does work. maybe, you don’t want a government that—that decides, this is not going to be China, not going to decide, 2 years old your son is going into gymnastics program, diving, or will work in a factory. We’re not making that decision at 2. Maybe we need to be responsible at all times to see how many, how many lifelines can you throw out to people and results can be like this “why aren’t those results applauded in this nation at all?”
MATTHEWS: I wouldn’t have gone to college without the scholarships, loans. I got my loan in graduate school. I got the whole thing from the NDEA, the National Defense Education Act.
OLBERMANN: I will match you. I’m the first one in 100 years in my family to go to college. And that’s because Cornell has several colleges, two or three of whom are state schools. I was paying state school to get in there. That’s the whole system right there. You are right. these people achieved what we asked them to do and said here is a little helping hand. This is the reward.
MATTHEWS: I’ve got to open our minds and hearts in the process on all side.
Let’s bring in, the U.S. congresswoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, one of the strongest voices during the primaries for Hillary Clinton and now a person who could not be stronger for Barack Obama.
How did you do it?
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, (D), FLORIDA: Absolutely.
MATTHEWS: Congresswoman, how did you make this transition?
SHULTZ: Chris, I propelled myself through the five stages of grief and recognized we need to make sure that we move this country in the direction and there was no question the only way we could do that is if we elect Barack Obama president of the united states. It was not a hard transition for me at all.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the rest of the week—how would you like it to go, if it goes swimmingly for your party, what will it look like between now and Thursday night?
SCHULTZ: What is going to happen between now and Thursday night is tomorrow we’ll celebrate the success of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, the historic accomplishment she made on Women’s Equality Day, the anniversary of women’s right to vote. We are going to make sure we show the American people the issues that the Democratic Party stands for—bringing our troops home from this misguided war in Iraq, focusing on alternative energy research so we can bring down gas prices, making sure we establish universal health care and contrast that to John McCain who offers more of the same. We will leave here on Thursday night after Barack Obama lays out his vision for the country, united behind him so we can elect him president of the United States on November 4.
OLBERMANN: Congresswoman, are you going to have that super-emotional tying off of the process as was reported tonight? The Associated Press says that the Obama camp and Clinton camp have been in discussions and in fact reached a conclusion to—to have the roll call vote stopped at some point, possibly even by Senator Clinton herself and then a declaration, a call for unanimous vote for senator Obama? Is that the—the big soothing moment at the end here?
SCHULTZ: That’s the culmination of what will be a celebration of the historic candidacies of both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. and on Wednesday night when we go through the roll call, beginning of the roll call for Hillary Clinton and full roll call for Barack Obama, we’ll leave this convention united so we can help the American people understand we need to move the country in a new direction and that John McCain is just offering us a third Bush presidency and God forbid we go through another one of those.
MATTHEWS: Is there going to be a formal nominating speech Wednesday night where some one says “and now I put a nomination in the name of Hillary Rodham Clinton.” Will there be a dramatic moment as there is for Barack?
SCHULTZ: It’s my understanding, Chris, we’ll have nomination speeches for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. so we can talk about the strengths of the party, show our party’s diversity and be able to, like I said, celebrate the accomplishments of these historic candidacies and bring our party together like this convention is intended to do and show the American people the direction we can move this country and demonstrate the—the path that we would take us down as opposed to the status quo which is all the Republicans are going to offer us.
MATTHWES: Can Joe Biden with his long support for Israel his whole career help Barack Obama overcome any hesitance among older voters in south Florida?
SHULTZ: Absolutely. Joe Biden was just a tremendous pick. A one-two punch. We have an opportunity with his 36-year record in the senate, Chris. I have to tell you as someone who literally was a member of Students for Biden in college in 1988, all the way to now as member of the House of Representatives, sponsoring legislation with Joe Biden to protect our children; this is just an exciting choice for women. Joe Biden was the sponsor of the Violence against Women Act, stood up for the Family Medical Leave Act and helped see it become law. He’s been a stalwart on the issue of the important issues of the Jewish community, and staunch ally of the state of Israel. The Jewish community will embrace this candidacy. and this really establishes the confidence that we need.
MATTHEWS: I have to tell you, you are one of my favorite guests on “Hardball.” It’s so great to see you at the convention.
SHULTZ: Thank you. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Because you speak your mind, Congresswoman. Thank you, Congressman Debbie Schultz.
Jim Leach, Republican from Iowa is addressing the convention. And in a few moments, it’ll be Michelle Obama’s turn.
Let’s check back in with Norah O’Donnell and the panel—Nora?
NORAH O’DONNELL, MSNBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Chris, thank you so much. You were talking about economic disadvantages of Barack Obama, Michelle Obama have faced what they have done and what they’ll be talking about. Michelle Obama is clearly one of the headlines tonight. But John McCain has made a bit of news on NBC. He appeared on “Jay Leno” tonight and we do have a little of what he said.
I want to ask you guys about this because the topic again came up about the number of homes that John McCain owned. He responded to Jay Leno by saying that he had been imprisoned five and a half years during the Vietnam War and, quote, “I didn’t have a house. I didn’t have a kitchen table. I didn’t have a table then.”
Rachel, what do you make of the response?
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: He had been—up until that point in the interview with Leno, he had been joking along and joking along, joking along. Leno said for $1 million bucks, for $1 million bucks right now, can you tell me how many houses you own?
That was his response, I was a POW. he got serious. John McCain has sort of played the POW card in response to criticism of his health care plan by Elizabeth Edwards. His campaign responded saying you can’t criticize him for that. He was a POW. He’s responded to accusations he cheated at Saddleback saying you can’t criticize him for that he was a POW. Now you can’t criticize him for not knowing how many houses he owned because he was a POW. At what point does using this as a crutch take away the political and emotional power of this part of his biography.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: John McCain uses it because it works. And we’re going to see if it works tonight. That was clearly a prepared question, clearly a prepared answer McCain gave. My guess is, it was almost scripted. My guess is, Leno said the last question coming is this. McCain had it ready and let it go. We won’t find out if it works or not. Let me tell you something, when I grew up if a guy was a fighter pilot and came home and married a beer heiress with seven condominiums and mansions, we’d say that was an American success story.
RACHEL: Sure, nobody is not saying he is not successful.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANLAYST: Sure. When you grew up...
BUCHANAN: Why are you knocking him because his wife has seven houses and condominiums?
ROBINSON: When you grew up, you would say a guy who doesn’t remember how many houses he has, is a—is some fancy pants who wasn’t like you or the Buchanan family. The Buchanan family knew how many houses it had. It had a house. The question about the POW defense is how many times you go to the well? How much water is in that well? Clearly some.
BUCHANAN: He goes to the well because it works. My guess, it will work.
MADDOW: He risks turning this politically salient patriotically emotional point of his biography he risks turning it into a punch line.
BUCHANAN: Why don’t you call him and tell him he is making a mistake, Rachel.
MADDOW: I’ll say it on TV.
O’DONNELL: Rachel, let me challenge you on that, because Maureen Dowd wrote about this in “The New York Times” and she said it was something she brought up with her own conservative mother, that she said to her conservative mother, but he cheated on his first wife. Her mother said, you know what, he spent five and a half years in a POW prison. This is Maureen Dowd.
Does he get leeway because of that? This is Maureen Dowd’s mother that she wrote about. Does he get some leeway?
MADDOW: You can say he gets leeway on cheating on his first wife. You can say he gets leeway on not knowing how many houses he’s has. You can say he gets leeway on promoting the idea that Saddam was behind the anthrax attacks. At some point, him being a POW is not a rejoinder to a political attack on him, it is not relevant.
BUCHANAN: I don’t own any houses and darned if I know how many my wife owns but it is an awful lot of them. What does this have to do whether he ought to be president of the United States?
MADDOW: Because he is attacking Barack Obama as a celebrity, elitist and rich guy. John McCain is in no position to be making that accusation.
BUCHANAN: The reason Michelle Obama is speaking tonight and saying what she is saying about being a poor gal is it is working with—for the Republicans. And it is not working against John McCain.
O’DONNELL: I heard that from Republicans that the elitist ad, Paris Hilton ad worked it got to the people’s doubts about Barack Obama. Are they making traction with that? How does Barack Obama push back?
ROBINSON: Well, I think the houses issue actually has been the most effective push back from the Obama campaign because that has had John McCain back pedaling. It had him back pedaling, go to the reservoir of good will he has because of been a POW. you don’t want to go to the well all the time.
BUCHANAN: But gene, you know why they are all talking middle-class, working class, south side Chicago. They’re not talking Princeton. They’re not talking Reverend Wright, is because the McCain Republican stuff, it is working.
O’DONNELL: This is going to be so interesting tonight because Michelle Obama, this task that she has coming up, she will be talking about family. She will be talking values throughout the prepared remarks they I fact...
BUAHANAN: Prepared? Scripted.
O’DONNELL: Well, it’s a speech. Of course it is scripted.
BUCHANAN: Why? Why did they script it? Why did they script it this way?
O’DONNELL: As we’re trying to explain it, we’ll have more from the panel coming up.
BUCHANAN: It’s a Democratic conspiracy, scripted speeches, oh, my.
O’DONNELL: Chris and Keith, we’ve got a lot of—we’ve got a lot of heat out here among the panel. I know you guys will come back to us after the speech to talk about what Michelle Obama has said. Back to you guys.
OLBERMANN: Well, thank you, Nora.
Chris, hide your script. They’re going to come for the script now.
Just one statistic to add. To just—to throw this into the hopper about whether or not it is working. The Gallup likely voter poll swung, since July, 7 points from McCain ahead by a couple to Obama ahead by a couple while all this was supposedly working. Something does not jibe there.
Coming up, Michelle Obama, wife of the presumptive nominee. We’ll be back with MSNBC’s partially scripted coverage of the Democratic convention live from Denver.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back. Of course, it is getting dark. It is dark out here. We’re on day one of the Democratic convention. We’re waiting for Michelle Obama to address the convention. As we wait, we’re joined by Reverend jams Rivers of Azusa Christian Community Church in Boston.
Reverend, talking family values. Don’t think this will be about issues as much about...
JAMES RIVERS, REVEREND, AZUSA CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY CHURCH: I can’t hear.
MATTHEWS: I think we got to wait a minute. Reverend Rivers, can you hear me?
RIVERS: I can’t hear.
MATTHEWS: You can hear me.
OLBERMANN: We could just lean—yeah, we could just lean off.
MATTHEWS: Let’s talk about the Reverend Rivers. No. Barack Obama’s wife, this is a unique experience. The wife has to sell herself, her husband, her party, her ticket, the whole routine. It’s a lot of burden the first night.
OBERMANN: It is. And- what an opportunity to address it head-on rather than sort of dance around the whole thing that just set off Pat and Rachel. About McCain’s answer on “The Tonight Show” about the houses and how he could not—neither could he answer the way he did based on the reaction. He could not have said I don’t know, my wife owns all the houses. Then we would have had, what about his wife’s finances?
There has not been a straightforward issue, perhaps not a straightforward issue or a straight forward answer from the spouse of the Republican side. here it is on the Democratic side.
MATTHEWS: Let’s take a look at it. Let’s get back to Reverend Jim Rivers.
Jim Rivers, are you there?
RIVERS: Yes, I am.
MATTHEWS: Just speak as a Reverend and man who knows politics, what is this wife of the candidate have to say about the candidate to move people towards him?
RIVERS: What needs to happen tonight is that the real story of Michelle Obama needs to be told. What has happened is that the opposition has more successfully redefined, translation, distorted what is actually a fairly remarkable story. Here is a woman that comes from the south side of Chicago, plays by the rules and is the proverbial American success story.
And what the Obama campaign has to do is more effectively simply tell the truth about a remarkable story of a woman who is a loving mother, wife, accomplished, professional. Who has committed herself to supporting her husband and promoting the family values that the Republican Party is now attacking this woman for, not being a proper representative of.
I mean it’s really amazing irony right. Here you have the classic example of the successful, hard working, industrious Huxtables. Now she has been put on the defensive where in point in fact, everything about her life is a testament to the American experience.
She is actually one of the best poster people for the world of what happens when you are diligent, hard working, industrious, play by the rules, you know, get married, raise a family, and emphasize, industry. I am amazed we have actually hit this point. So what they must do is simply, effectively tell the story and more effectively resist the distortions, which is what we are actually addressing tonight.
OLBERMANN: Reverend, do you think this is a classic example of—of prejudice? I’m not jumping into racism here, but prejudice as in prejudging? Every time you take a look at a poll of any kind about what people are worried about or don’t know, this group or they don’t know that group. If you know somebody personally, prejudice is washed away in nine cases out of ten. The opposite of personal prejudice is—is personal knowledge.
RIVERS: Listen, people feel better when they feel at the effective level that they have some relationship with you. If people get to know the—the mother, Michelle Obama, who monitors the diet of her two gorgeous daughters, who ensures that they have reduced TV time, who works hard to create the appropriate environment, and I should point out, emphasize to her husband that her children were not going to suffer as a result of this—this campaign. I mean once people get a sense of who the woman is as a human being, I think it makes all the difference in the world. then they must consistently keep that story out front so she is not a victim of distortion a outgrowth of politics.
MATTHEWS: OK, Reverend—Reverend, we have to go right now to the video shown to the convention floor. This is about the life of Michelle Obama.
BARACK OBAM A, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... kindhearted man, somebody who thought everybody should be treated with dignity and respect and I think that carried over to Michele.
MARIAN ROBINSON, MICHELLE OBAMA’S MOTHER: We raised Craig and Michelle to go to college but we teased them how some people went away to college and never came back to their community.
MCIHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF BARACK OBAMA: My mom and dad would say if a few people would come back and live in the community would make all the difference. We talked about that a lot.
CHARLES OGLETREE: She was very committed to the south side of Chicago. She was very committed to using every bit of her skills and talents to lift others up.
ROBINSON: After law school, Michele came back and at first worked for a big law firm that’s where she met Barack.
M. OBAMA: The firm was abuzz about this hot shot, first year law student from Harvard. His name was Barack Obama. I thought who names their kid Barack Obama. I figured this guy has to be weird.
B. OBAMA: She was assigned as my summer adviser. I was late that day. I don’t think I made such a great impression. But she was dazzling.
M. OBAMA: When he first showed up, he was a little late. So I thought well maybe he didn’t have his act together. But then when he walked in he was very handsome. He had this air of interesting in him that I didn’t expect.
B. OBAMA: I didn’t see a ring on her hand. So turned out, she didn’t have a boyfriend. She was resistant to the idea of some inner-office dating. I asked her a couple times. She was pushing me off a little bit.
M. OBAMA: Then he made his big move.
B. OBAMA: Finally, there was a company picnic. On the drive back, I offered to buy her ice cream. That is what put her over the top. That’s when she said, you know, this guy knows how to treat a woman.
ROBINSON: But the law firm wasn’t right for her. All those years ago we taught her to serve her community. And that’s what she ended up doing.
ANNE DAVIS: Michelle came to work with us in the mayor’s office. After a couple years she went to work in Public Allies, which is an organization that mentored young people and gave them an opportunity to learn public service work. She did this because this was important to her. It didn’t matter that it didn’t pay any money. This was important to her. This was her mission and something she wanted to do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Michele has a gift for seeing the potential in people that they don’t even know is there. You know, the public allies class had people that if you saw them walking down the street you wouldn’t assume these people would be community leaders. but so many of them went on to careers and lives in public service that she must have some kind of uncommon gift at seeing that in people.
DAVIS: I am excited for people to see the Michele I knew and miss in my day-to-day life and the Michele through a casual joke, comment or hug in the corridor who could make you feel like you could do anything.
ROBINSON: Michele was like a mom to so many people over the years, it is no surprise to me that she has been a wonderful, caring mother to her own children.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is an amazing mom. I mean for her that’s what life is all about her children. The girls are extremely grounded, very loving, very smart. Know right from wrong. It is all about her kids.
ROBINSON: Michele was able to find the balance between career and being a mom. After Public Allies, she went on to create the community service center at the University of Chicago and led community outreach for the university’s hospitals. Michele has always reached out to others. It was something I loved about my husband too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michelle’s compassion came from my father and people came to him for their problems and he managed having people go away feeling better than they did when they came to talk to him. I’m certain that’s where she gets her compassion from.
M. OBAMA: My father died very early from complications from Multiple Sclerosis. I think about him every day when I think about how I raise my kids because I remember his compassion. I remember the words, his advice, the way he lived life. And I am trying each and every day to apply that to how I raise my kids. I want his legacy to live through them and hopefully it will affect the kind of first lady that I will become. Because it’s his compassion and his view of the world that really inspires who I am, who I want my girls to be and what I hope for the country.
ROBINSON: This is my daughter. When she was young I remember how she would look up to us. Now, I look up to her. I hope America gets to know the girl we raised and the woman she became because she is the most remarkable person I know.
I wish my husband could see this day, but every day I get to see a piece of him in her. And for that I am so proud. And so blessed.
CRAIG ROBINSON, MICHELLE OBAMA’S BROTHER: Good evening. I’m Craig Robinson and Michelle Obama is my little sister. Tonight, I want to introduce you to my sister, the girl I grew up with, the poised young woman I saw her grow into, the compassionate mother, aunt, and sister-in-law she is, the passionate voice for women and children she has become, and the type of first lady she will be.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
C. ROBINSON: Sometimes when I look at the woman you are about to hear from, it’s funny to think that this is the same person who used to wake me up early, and I mean early, on Christmas morning.
This is the person who would play the piano to calm me down before my big games in high school. This is the person who even though we were allowed only one hour of television a night somehow managed to memorize every single episode of “The Brady Bunch.”
C. ROBINSON: But when I really think back, I can also see how the person she is today was formed in the experiences we shared growing up. Working hard, studying hard, having parents who wanted more for us than they had. And always being reminded that in this country of all countries, those things were possible.
C. ROBINSON: Now neither of our parents went to college. My father went to work right out of high school to help pay for his brother’s college tuition. He worked at the water filtration plant for 30 years. We lost my father in 1991. And I know he is looking down on us tonight so proud of his daughter, not because of who she married, though he was a big fan of Barack, but because of the hard working, brilliant woman she is.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
C. ROBINSON: What she has accomplished in her own right, the mother she has become, and the values she has instilled in her daughters, my mother Marion is here tonight. She remains our family’s anchor. And the sole reason Michelle was willing to campaign at all was because she knew that mom was there to take care of the girls.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
C. ROBINSON: When we were young kids, our parents divided the bedroom we shared so we could each have our own room. Many nights we would talk when we were supposed to be sleeping. My sister always talked about who was getting picked on at school, or who was having a tough time at home.
I didn’t realize it then, but I realize it now, those were the people she was going to dedicate her life to, the people who were struggling with life’s challenges. She has continued to follow that passion, she gave up a big job in a law firm to work in her community with a group called Public Allies.
She trained a new generation of community leaders. She developed the University of Chicago’s Community Service Center, connecting the university to the neighborhood that was blocks away but often worlds away from its gates.
And when I wasn’t happy doing what I was doing, she was the one who encouraged me to go back to my first love: teaching and coaching. And today I’m proud to be the coach of the Oregon State men’s basketball team. Go Beavers!
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
C. ROBINSON: But she did take something away from that first law firm job, a young lawyer by the name of Barack Obama.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
C. ROBINSON: Now my sister had grown up hearing my father and me talk about how you can judge a person’s character by what type of sportsman they are. So she asked me to take him to play basketball. And if you are looking for a political analysis based on his playing, here it is.
He’s confident but not cocky. He’ll take the shot if he is open. He is a team player who improves the people around him. And he won’t back down from any challenge.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
C. ROBINSON: Together I have watched Barack and Michelle strengthen each other. I have watched them create a home filled with love and grounded in faith. During challenging times, I have watched Michelle and Barack stand by each other. And I know they’ll stand by you, the American people, now and in the future.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
C. ROBINSON: So please join me in welcoming an impassioned public servant, a loving daughter, wife, and mother, my little sister, and our nation’s next first lady, Michelle Obama!
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF BARACK OBAMA: As you might imagine, for Barack, running for president is nothing compared to that first game of basketball with my brother Craig. I can’t tell you how much it means to have Craig and my mom here tonight. Like Craig, I can feel my dad looking down on us, just as I have felt his presence in every grace-filled moment of my life. And at 6’6”, I have often felt like Craig was looking down on me too, literally.
M. OBAMA: But the truth is, both when we were kids and today, Craig wasn’t looking down on me, he was watching over me. And he has been there for me…
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: … every step of the way since that clear day in February 19 months ago with little more than our faith in each other and a hunger for change we joined my husband Barack Obama on the improbable journey that has led us to this moment.
But each of us comes here also by way of our own improbable journey. I come here tonight as a sister, blessed with a brother who is my mentor, my protector, and my lifelong friend.
And I come here as a wife who loves my husband and believes he will be an extraordinary president.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: And I come here as a mom. As a mom whose girls are the heart of my heart and the center of my world. They’re the first things I think about when I wake up in the morning, and the last thing I think about before I go to bed at night. Their future and all our children’s future is my stake in this election.
And I come here as a daughter, raised on the South Side of Chicago…
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: … by a father who was a blue collar city worker, and a mother who stayed at home with my brother and me. My mother’s love has always been a sustaining force for our family. And one of my greatest joys is seeing her integrity, her compassion, her intelligence reflected in my daughters.
My dad was our rock. And although he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in his early 30s, he was our provider, he was our champion, our hero. But as he got sicker, it got harder for him to walk. It took him longer to get dressed in the morning. But if he was pain he never let on.
He never stopped smiling and laughing, even while struggling to button his shirt, even while using two canes to get himself across the room to give my mom a kiss, he just woke up a little earlier and he worked a little harder.
He and my mom poured everything they had into me and Craig. It was the greatest gift a child could receive, never doubting for a single minute that you’re loved and cherished and have a place in this world.
And thanks to their faith and their hard work we both were able to go to college. So I know firsthand from their lives and mine that the American dream endures.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: And you know, what struck me when I first met Barack was that even though he had this funny name, and even though he had grown up all the way across the continent in Hawaii, his family was so much like mine.
He was raised by grandparents who were working class folks just like my parents, and by a single mother who struggled to pay the bills just like we did. And like my family, they scrimped and saved so that he could have opportunities that they never had for themselves.
And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values. Like, you work hard for what you want in life. That your word is your bond. That you do what you say you are going to do. That you treat people…
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: … with dignity and respect even if you don’t know them and even if you don’t agree with them.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values and to pass them on to the next generation because we want our children and all children in this nation to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work hard for them.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: And as our friendship grew, and I learned more about Barack, he introduced me to work, the work that he had done when he first moved to Chicago after college. You see, instead of going to Wall Street, Barack went to work in the neighborhoods that had been devastated by the closing of steel plants, jobs dried up.
And Barack was invited back to speak to people from those neighborhoods about how to rebuild their community. And the people gathered there together that day were ordinary folks doing the best they could to build a good life.
See, they were parents trying to get by from paycheck to paycheck, grandparents trying to get it together on a fixed income, men frustrated that they couldn’t support their families after jobs had disappeared. You see, those folks weren’t asking for a handout or a short cut.
See, they were ready to work, they wanted to contribute, they believed like you and I believe that America should be a place where you can make it if you try.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: And Barack stood up that day and he spoke words that have stayed with me ever since. He talked about the world as it is and the world as it should be. And he said that all too often we accept the distance between the two, and we settle for the world as it is even when it doesn’t reflect our values and aspirations.
But he reminded us that we also know what the world should look like. He said: “We know what fairness and justice and opportunity look like,” and he urged us to believe in ourselves, to find the strength within ourselves to strive for the world as it should be. And isn’t that the great American story?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: It’s the story of men and women gathered in churches and union halls, in high school gyms and people who stood up and marched and risked everything they had, refusing to settle, determined to mold our future into the shape of our ideals.
And it’s because of their will and determination that this week we celebrate two anniversaries: the 88th anniversary of women winning the right to vote…
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: … and the 45th anniversary of that hot summer day when Dr. King lifted our sights and our hearts with his dream for our nation.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: And I stand here today, at the crosscurrents of that history knowing that my piece 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.
The same conviction that drives the men and women I have met all across this country, people who work the day shift, then kiss their kids good night and head out for the night shift, without disappointment, without regret. See that good night kiss is a reminder of everything they’re working for.
The military families who say grace each night with an empty seat at the table.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: The servicemen and -women who love this country so much they leave those they love most to defend it. The young people across America, serving our communities, teaching children, cleaning up neighborhoods, caring for the least among us, each and every day.
People like Hillary Clinton…
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: … who put those 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling so that our daughters and our sons can dream bigger and aim higher.
People like Joe Biden...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: … who has never forgotten where he came from and never stopped fighting for folks who work long hours and face long odds and need someone on their side again.
All of us driven by the simple belief that the world as it is just won’t do. That we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be and that is the thread that connects our hearts.
That is the thread that runs through my journey and Barack’s journey and so many other improbable journeys that have brought us here tonight where the current of history meets this new tide of hope. And you see, that is why I love this country.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: And in my own life, in my own small way I have tried to give back to this country that has given me so much. See, that’s why I left a job at a big law firm for a career in public service, working to empower young people to volunteer in their communities because I believe that each of us, no matter what our age or background or our walk in life, each of us has something to contribute to the life of this nation.
And it is a belief that Barack shares, a belief at the heart of his life’s work. See, it’s what he did all those years ago in Chicago, setting up job training to get people back to work and after-school programs to keep kids safe, working block by block to help people lift up their families.
It’s what he did in the Illinois Senate, moving people from welfare to jobs, passing tax cuts for hard-working families and making sure women get equal pay for equal work.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: It’s what he has done in the United States Senate, fighting to ensure that the men and women who serve this country are welcomed home not just with medals and parades, but with good jobs and benefits and health care, including mental health care.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: See, that’s why Barack is running: to end the war in Iraq responsibly…
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: … to build an economy that lifts every family, to make sure health care is available for every American, and to make sure that every single child in this nation has a world-class education, all the way from preschool to college.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: That’s what Barack Obama will do as president of the United States of America.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: He’ll achieve these goals the same way he always has, by bringing us together and reminding us how much we share and how alike we really are. You see, Barack doesn’t care where you are from or what your background is or what party, if any, you belong to, see, that’s just not how he sees the world.
He knows that thread that connects us, our belief in America’s promise, our commitment to our children’s future, he knows that that thread is strong enough to hold us together as one nation even when we disagree.
It was strong enough to bring hope to those neighborhoods in Chicago. It was strong enough to bring hope to the mother he met who was worried about her child in Iraq, hope to the man who is unemployed and can’t afford gas to find a job, hope to the student working nights to pay for his sister’s health care, sleeping just a few hours a day.
And it was strong enough to bring hope to people who came out on a cold Iowa night and became the first voices…
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: … in this chorus for change that has been echoed by millions of Americans from every corner of this nation, millions of Americans who know that Barack understands their dreams, millions of Americans who know that Barack will fight for people like them, and that Barack will bring finally the change that we need.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: And in the end, after all that has happened, these past 19 months, see, the Barack Obama I know today is the same man I fell in love with 19 years ago.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: He’s the same man who drove me and our new baby daughter home from the hospital 10 years ago this summer, inching along at a snail’s pace peering at us anxiously at the—through the rearview mirror, feeling the whole weight of her future in his hands, determined to give her everything he struggled so hard for himself, determined to give her something he never had, the affirming embrace of a father’s love.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: And as I tuck that little girl in, as I tuck that little girl in and her little sister into bed at night, you see, I think about how one day they’ll have families of their own and how one day they and your sons and daughters will tell their own children about what we did together in this election.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: They’ll tell them how this time we listened to our hopes instead of our fears. How this time…
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: How this time we decided to stop doubting and to start dreaming. How this time in this great country, where a girl from the South Side of Chicago can go to college and law school and the son of a single mother from Hawaii can go all the way to the White House…
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: We committed ourselves to building the world as it should be.
So tonight, in honor of my father’s memory, and my daughter’s future, out of the gratitude for those whose triumphs we mark this week and those whose everyday sacrifices have brought us to this moment, let us devote ourselves to finishing their work, let us work together to fulfill their hopes and let’s stand together to elect Barack Obama president of the United States of America!
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: Thank you! God bless you! And God bless America!
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OLBERMANN: Case, I think, closed. If that speech was to be more about tone than content, pitch-perfect. If it was supposed to be more about content than tone, pitch-perfect. If that was supposed to be friendliness and what they call accessibility, couldn’t have done it better. Couldn’t have done it better.
MATTHEWS: There the kids are. Look at these kids, I think that’s part of the story. They have not really exploited those kids at all, and they shouldn’t, but it’s nice to see them all together once in a while. Their daughters, 10 and 7 years old. And that was the oldest that she described her husband driving her home from the hospital with.
OLBERMANN: And the premise of this speech, to try to erase doubts that now seem difficult to voice aloud because they seem almost foolish, was also done subtly. There was a reference to, they love the country, meaning the troops. There was another one to, I love the country. There were six references to country.
But if you went back and listened to that speech again and waited for the moment in which she is supposedly selling herself or redeeming herself, you wouldn’t have noticed it. It was just a speech by—and there is the video.
MATTHEWS: He is coming in now to wave.
OLBERMANN: Of the husband who is second in importance right now.
MALIA OBAMA, DAUGHTER OF BARACK OBAMA: Hi, daddy!
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hey, sweetie! Hello, everybody! Hello from Kansas City! How about Michelle Obama?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
B. OBAMA: Now you know why I asked her out so many times, even though she said no. You want a persistent president.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
B. OBAMA: Michelle…
SASHA OBAMA, DAUGHTER OF BARACK OBAMA: Hi, daddy!
B. OBAMA: … you were unbelievable.
M. OBAMA: Thank you.
B. OBAMA: And you also look very cute.
S. OBAMA: Thank you!
M. OBAMA: That’s Sasha.
B. OBAMA: Listen, I am here with the Girardo (ph) family here in St. Louis. This is Jim (ph) and Alicia (ph), and like us...
S. OBAMA: Hi, Girardo family!
B. OBAMA: The—we’ve got Lindsay (ph), and we’ve got Hannah (ph), and we have got Grace (ph) over here. And they have just been wonderful hosts the whole time that we have been watching.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
S. OBAMA: Daddy, what city are you in?
B. OBAMA: I’m in Kansas City, sweetie. And, Malia, Sasha, how do you think mom did?
S. OBAMA: I think she did good.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
B. OBAMA: I think so too. Well, listen, I want you guys to look after the girls, look after mommy before I get there. And I’ll see you guys on Thursday, all right?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
S. OBAMA: I love you, daddy.
B. OBAMA: Love you guys. Sleep tight.
M. OBAMA: Love you. Bye-bye.
B. OBAMA: Love you…
M. OBAMA: Love you, daddy, bye!
B. OBAMA: … sweetie. You were great.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OLBERMANN: Yes, case closed. That could not have gone better for them. That could not have gone better for them right to the point with the little girls taking the mikes away and suddenly turning out to be hams. It’s wonderful. It really was terrific.
And notice—did you notice that throughout that, especially as it built towards its conclusion, the women in that convention hall, the ones we saw at least, we can’t say every one was this way, but there were tears throughout among the women.
And it was not a maudlin speech, it was not a—it was not a salesmanship speech, there was just a—I know, I’m beginning to sound borderline sycophantic on this. So I will stop. You start.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know, I think it’s hard to separate America from American politics. But, you’ve got to be proud of this country that it has made this progress here whatever way you vote in this election.
There are so many issues between now and Election Day, you have to decide on maturity, experience, point-of-view, ideology, you know, the track record of this administration, the track record of the Democrats.
When you look at this moment and separate it all that out, you know, I didn’t think this would happen in my lifetime. I didn’t think we would have a black family up there.
OLBERMANN: Tell me whether or not we could have predicted this six years ago, eight years ago?
MATTHEWS: No, I don’t think I could have predicted just back in 2004, even though he gave that speech, because I didn’t know how the primaries would go, how the caucuses would go, how Iowa would go.
And not everybody is going to be taken with this charm offensive. There will be people in saloons and different parts of the country that will be guffawing this, I can tell you. I know this is cynical, and nature to me too. I’ve got some of it.
But I think if it is going to work with anybody, it will work tonight. I think they couldn’t have done more tonight, as you put it. Without getting too political, they did present themselves as they are. I mean, that wasn’t some other Michelle Obama, that’s Michelle Obama, we have seen a lot of her. Those kids were not on cue, they were not choreographed.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: No, I don’t think I could have predicted it just back in—in 2004, even though he gave that big speech, because I didn’t know how the primaries would go, how the caucuses would go, how Iowa would go.
And not everybody is going to be taken with this charm offensive. There will be people in saloons and different parts of the country that will be guffawing this. I can tell you. I know there is a cynical nature to me, too. I get some of it.
But I think, if it is going to work with anybody, it will work tonight. I think they couldn’t have done more tonight, as you put it, not getting too political. They did present themselves as they are. I mean, that wasn’t some other Michelle Obama. That’s Michelle Obama. We have seen a lot of her.
Those kids were not on cue. They were not choreographed. They saw their daddy up there on the screen. And the 7-year-old was not some child actor here working this—working this gig.
I am taken with it. I am very proud of my country tonight. And I hope—I hope everybody has got an open mind and an open heart in this campaign and votes their politics, but sees this as progress. And I think that’s a non-political assessment.
KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC ANCHOR: All right, let’s get a view from inside the hall.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OLBERMANN: NBC’s special correspondent Tom Brokaw in there for it.
Give us the feel from inside the arena, sir.
TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS: Well, Keith, I—I was struck by many of the same things that you were.
I saw so many African-American women watching with a sense of pride and awe and great emotion, thinking about how far they have traveled as individuals. And I suspect so many of them were thinking, I never thought I would see this moment.
I also thought, as I listened to Michelle—Michelle Obama deliver this extraordinarily well-delivered and well-crafted speech, very personal, pretty hard for those Hillary Clinton women who have been unhappy with what has been going on here, probably, it is going to be pretty hard for them to turn their back on her.
Can I just share something with you that I read a year ago about Michelle Obama? She was interviewed by Mary Mitchell in Chicago from “The Sun-Times” about whether the Obamas are black enough, which has been a question that has been raised in the black community.
She said: “Race is a reality of our society. We have made great strides, but we still have a lot of work to do. I did exactly what the leaders of my community wanted me to do. They said, do your best in school, work hard, study, get into the best schools. And, when you do that, baby, bring that education back and work in your community.”
She said: “The thing I worry most about, what does it say to our children if they hear the question, are we black enough? If I’m not black enough, and Barack is not black enough, who are they supposed to be in this world?” referring to her children.
Race is a complex issue in our society, but Barack Obama and Michelle Obama have gone a long way toward addressing some of the most difficult questions. And that speech tonight did it as well.
OLBERMANN: Would you agree, Tom, in analyzing that, that, as much about that that could have gone over the top, that there were many, many places where that could have been too much of a personal sales pitch either for herself or for her husband, that the thing could have turned into any number of—of over-the-top gestures, and—and that really didn’t happen, that that was not just—not just made the sufficient levels of success at each of these points, but didn’t go any higher than was absolutely necessary?
BROKAW: Yes, I couldn’t agree with you more, Keith.
But, yes, I think you said that it wasn’t maudlin. And when she talked about her dad having M.S. and the struggle that he had getting up a little earlier in the morning to button his shirt, or using two canes to walk across the room to kiss his wife, she did that in the most engaging way.
There was not a lot of pathos attached to it. She didn’t try to milk the audience on those moments. And she didn’t tell her own personal story as a story of a great struggle out of the south shore of Chicago, pulling herself up by her bootstraps to get to Princeton. She did it in a pretty matter-of-fact way, because that’s what was expected of her.
And when she talked about the African-American culture, they wanted more opportunities and jobs and a chance to prove themselves. So, I—I agree with you that it was an extremely well-crafted speech.
I do think, as—as Chris said, it reflects who she is, as I have come to know her, and I think she has been a critically important partner to Barack Obama in terms of her judgment, and her advice, and her toughness.
MATTHEWS: OK, Tom, hang in there with us.
Let’s bring in right now former U.S. Congressman Harold Ford. He’s, of course, part of our team now. He’s from Tennessee. He’s now with MSNBC and NBC.
Harold, your feelings about what you saw, your thoughts about tonight’s event?
HAROLD FORD, MSNBC POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: You had to feel good about being from this country. You had to feel good about not only calling yourself an American, but knowing that generations before us are producing smart, intelligent, caring moms and professionals like Michelle.
Politically, she did two things tonight. First, she connected her family, and her family’s stories and their roots with an authentic American upbringing, a challenged upbringing for her parents, her parents sacrificing on her behalf and her sibling’s behalf—sibling’s behalf.
And as she talked about her mother’s integrity, and beauty, and intelligence being reflected through her daughters, I don’t know of any grandma in America that wouldn’t want their daughter or their grandkids to feel that way.
Two, she personalized Barack in ways that Barack needs to be personalized. Naturally, the last scene or the last part of the speech, where Barack beamed in from Saint Louis with the family he is visiting with—and I would agree with you, Chris—all of that was unchoreographed with his kids—you could do nothing but feel warm and be sort of filled with the sense of pride that the Obamas are just like any other American family in Ohio or Pennsylvania or Michigan.
And they have parents, just like those kids in Tennessee and West Virginia and Florida, who are proud of them, who sacrificed for them, and who have made a better way for them, and are hoping and praying their kids will make a better way for the next generation.
Whatever happens in this election, Michelle Obama had another challenge tonight. She was trying to rehabilitate herself, in some ways. And I think you have to give her an A-plus. And, if you indeed are a person of faith—and I am a Christian—and you may have held some ill will or ill feeling towards her, after listening to her tonight, not only would you forgive, but you would be inspired.
Barack Obama would have to be proud of his wife and proud of his kids tonight. And, as an American, I am proud of her, too.
MATTHEWS: You know, Congressman, you served in Congress for many years. And you—you came off of a short end of a very tight race for the United States Senate from Tennessee, which, is, of course—I said this before—the buckle of the Bible Belt, probably more conservative than some states, not as conservative as a few others.
What did you learn—and this is a tough for you, maybe—but what did you learn about racial voting patterns and people’s openness to cross racial lines, if you will, from the white side? What did you come away with in your race?
LEACH: Well, look, we got a lot of voters in our race in Tennessee. I’m proud of the race we ran. I’m proud of those who supported me. And I thank them.
I made mistakes in the race. And I took all the blame for what happened. There were things that were said in commercials that were run that were analyzed.
I hope to be able to run again. And I have got to tell you, watching Senator Obama’s race for the presidency, and what I believe will end up being a successful run for the presidency, will do nothing but open doors for people like me and my friend Cory Booker in Newark, my friend
Artur Davis in Alabama and scores of other young politician across this country, black, white, Hispanic, who aspire to do nothing but serve.
So, as we went through a tough race, a lot of people go through tough races. And the real challenge and the measure is how you get up and come back. And Senator Obama has inspired me, as I know he has inspired a lot of young guys and women across this country.
OLBERMANN: Congressman, give us your estimation, your gut feeling on the political impact of that speech on this campaign. Was that a campaign changer? Will it have had a marginal impact? Did she win the election for him? One of the above?
FORD: I think it will have a big impact.
I think some—some people have been concerned that the convention has lacked a kind of theme and a kind of underlying focus. I think her speech tonight, for those who may share that thought, erased that.
She laid out a predicate for the evening. She was the main feature for the evening. And it was no secret what her challenge was, to not only talk about Senator Obama and his American roots and hers, but to go some ways in trying to correct I think this unfortunate image and false image of her in the eyes of some of Barack’s adversaries and some particularly who are undecided in the country.
So, you would have to grade this a high A, if not an A-plus, in the delivery and the thoughtfulness of it. Those who worked on this speech—I know Michelle spent considerable time writing the speech—she did one heck of a job this evening.
The voters will ultimately decide whether or not it is a win-win. But I have to think—I love football metaphors. And she played a great fullback role tonight. She opened one big hole. And now the running back, Barack, will get the ball on Thursday night, and he will have to run right through it.
OLBERMANN: Congressman Harold Ford Jr., now...
FORD: Olbermann, I thought you would appreciate that sports analogy, brother.
OLBERMANN: I—listen, I didn’t try to top you, did I?
OLBERMANN: Thank you, Harold Ford.
FORD: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: We will talk to you again later on in the evening.
FORD: You and Chris, thank you.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OLBERMANN: Andrea Mitchell is back inside the convention hall, in fact, inside the Illinois delegation, with one of Senator Obama’s most strident and stalwart supporters, the mayor of the city of Chicago—Andrea.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Keith.
I’m here with Richard Daley, of course, the mayor of the city.
Michelle Obama started working for you. You knew them when they were young. What did you think tonight? Did she portray herself, correct the false impressions that Harold Ford was just discussing with Keith and Chris upstairs, and create a new portrait of Michelle Obama and of the Obama family?
RICHARD DALEY (D), MAYOR OF CHICAGO: Well, I always knew her—she was the same way tonight. She spoke with her passion, her heart about her family and his family.
She has always been like that. And I think people have to realize that—how important family values, her family work ethic, education is to her and Barack. And that’s the story she has always told. And when she worked with me, she was very committed, very professional, at the same time, understanding her great commitment as a mother and as a wife, as a sister and as a daughter.
She always—you always knew that her family did come first.
MITCHELL: You have a long history. You know ethnic politics in America. Why do you think people in places like Pennsylvania and West Virginia and other states have resisted Michelle and Barack Obama? And what did she accomplish tonight, do you think, in reaching out to blue-collar, frankly, white voters?
DALEY: I don’t think there is a resistance. It is really an education about them.
These are wonderful people. They truly represent what America has been and will be in the future, when you talk about their families, and their work ethic, and the commitment of their parents, how important grandparents were.
So, to me, it’s maybe about education. Like anything else, that’s what an—that’s what an election has to do. And the convention does that. And then, from there, they would—they will really tell the story about Michelle and Barack throughout the country. And people will be truly proud of what they have accomplished and what they will want to accomplish for American families.
MITCHELL: Did her shout-out to Hillary Clinton tonight and the enormous emotional power of the Teddy Kennedy story overshadow any potential Hillary-Bill resentment storyline tomorrow and Wednesday?
DALEY: No, that was a tough campaign. Everybody knew that.
We have delegates who are very passionate and committed. But, you know, the election is over with. The primary is over with. Hillary and Bill have already endorsed Barack Obama. And many of the delegates are endorsing her. Like anything else, they were passionate. It was a tough fight.
But they know they have to unite in order to bring Barack Obama and what the change has to be in the economy and bringing people back to work and American families. I think that’s—we are united. There will be some people that may be disappointed. But I went through 1983, when I lost to Harold Washington. I thought I should have been mayor.
But, the next day, I sat there with Harold Washington, endorsed him for mayor, because, in a primary, that’s what you’re supposed to do.
MITCHELL: Now, you have seen a lot of disunited Democrats.
MITCHELL: You remember 1980. And I know you remember 1968.
Could this become...
MITCHELL: ... that kind of story?
DALEY: None whatsoever -- 1968 dealt with Vietnam, assassination of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King. And, of course, the savior of the Democratic Party was Bobby Kennedy. And Vietnam destroyed families, separated everyone in this country, throughout the world.
So, no, it has nothing to do with it. No, this election, this primary, people are supporting—you can tell enthusiasm they have for Barack and Michelle, and the enthusiasm. They want to win this election because of the economy.
MITCHELL: Richard Daley...
DALEY: Thank you.
MITCHELL: ... thank you so much.
And Michelle Obama told an American story, and told it powerfully, by all accounts, not only here in the Illinois delegation, but throughout this floor—Chris, Keith—back to you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Andrea Mitchell, thank you.
Mayor Daley, thank you.
Now let’s turn to the anchor of “NBC Nightly News,” Brian Williams, who joins us.
The mechanics of this, I suggested to Tom Brokaw that there was so much that could been over the top, and it didn’t seem like anything was.
Walk us through it, Brian.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, ANCHOR, “NBC NIGHTLY NEWS”: Well, Keith and Chris, I keep coming back to the—the word approachability. That was her charge tonight, from clothing, to demeanor, to kind of volume, tone, tenor of her voice.
She used a storytelling technique. As we read her prepared remarks, against the actual live delivery in the hall, you could tell, the sentences and the portions she was most familiar with. She kind of cut a few corners. She would put the word “see,” or, “you see,” at the top of a lot of sentences, again, to soften it, make it more personal, storytelling style.
That was her charge coming in here tonight. For this audience in this hall, who took it as part of a two-hour package, they were emotionally exhausted after what Ted Kennedy pulled off in here tonight, his voice more reedy, his hair thinner than the last time we saw him. Both Senator Kennedy and Michelle Obama made great use of what is directly in front of you at this podium.
It’s a massive 103-inch diagonal flat-screen that is the largest of the three Teleprompters available to you. So, the—the—the words from your script are scrolling in front of you in almost unavoidable fashion. It allows you, unlike a lot of other conventions so effectively, to look straight ahead, straight into the camera to the American people, and by—by extension, all over, in addition to those glass panes on either side, so, an interesting evening, and then capped off by the remote appearance, which has become commonplace at so many conventions—and those of us who have raised little kids, give a little kid a microphone, they’re going to talk into it.
They did. And it was—I think what we witnessed tonight at the end there was a genuine moment, one of the daughters asking dad, “What city are you in tonight?”
That’s a veteran campaigner there.
OLBERMANN: Would you agree Barack Obama finished in fourth place in the family public speaking contest tonight?
WILLIAMS: Oh, easily. He could hardly get a word in edgewise. I’m surprised he had any remarks at all.
But I think the Girardo (ph) family looked terrific, not from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, but Kansas City, Missouri, as I am sure you have pointed out already.
OLBERMANN: The—the references—and, again, we talked about—and Andrea Mitchell talked about this with Mayor Daley just now—about the things that might have been necessary, or perceived as being necessary, for Michelle Obama to redeem herself, reposition herself, correct people’s misimpressions, or what they thought were their impressions previously.
That was done—as again we get back to this idea of mechanics in a speech, it was a seamlessness to that. We went right from the family story into references to love of country, and sacrifice of military families in particular. There was a—a real craftsmanship in there, I thought.
WILLIAMS: That’s right, as the Republicans will weave in Saint Paul based on a different narrative.
Tonight’s narrative was: I’m a college basketball coach. I was fortunate in life to go to the Ivy League. My kid sister from the South Side of Chicago followed me to college. Now I coach guys for a living, and I wake up one morning, my sister is married to this guy who they keep calling the presumptive nominee of the party.
Here is my sister. She comes out talking directly to American families, fellow moms, fellow parents. Imagine this. My husband is running for president.
That’s if the whole narrative works, if the speechwriting, if the message was seamless tonight. Luckily, that judgment is not ours to make.
OLBERMANN: Brian Williams, inside the convention hall, from “NBC Nightly News”—thank you, Brian.
WILLIAMS: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right, let’s check back in with our correspondent David Gregory on the convention floor.
And he is with Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy—David.
DAVID GREGORY, HOST, “RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE”: Keith, thanks very much.
I am with Congressman Kennedy. We have been waiting a few minutes to talk.
You have been able to absorb all of this. This has been a personal night for you, as a son, but also as a supporter of Barack Obama.
Michelle Obama’s speech, as you have been listening to some of the analysis here after she has given it, was in effect a message from her to the country to say: You do know us.
REP. PATRICK KENNEDY (D), RHODE ISLAND: Yes.
GREGORY: We are like you.
Why was that speech so necessary at this stage of the campaign?
KENNEDY: Well, ultimately the people vote for president based upon their feelings of connectedness. And we would like to think that they vote primarily based upon the issues.
Frankly, I think, clearly, this election is on the economy. It’s based upon health care for all. It’s based upon people’s platform, that I think the majority of people will vote Democrat on the issues. It’s just they want to connect to the candidate. And, tonight, Michelle Obama clearly connected that candidate to the American people.
You couldn’t help but feel a sense of warmth between Michelle and Barack, between his kids and the love that they have for the kids, and the kids up there, like every other kid in America.
KENNEDY: And that’s what really needed to happen.
I, mean many people in this election have said, Barack was aloof, and disconnected, because he is so brilliant and he has been talking about issues. And, frankly, that’s what elections should be about, is issues.
But, at the end of the day, people want to feel a connectedness to their president. And, tonight, that went a long way to helping connect American people with their future president, Barack Obama.
GREGORY: There was an aspect to this that was like a rebuttal.
You heard numerous times working-class background, working-class parents. She talked about, yes, Barack Obama, who had this funny name, a nod to some discomfort about that, perhaps, or to critics, grew up in Hawaii, but his family was just like mine, on the South Side of Chicago.
KENNEDY: Well, yes, I mean, it reminded, you know, listen, this is an improbable story. And it was an American story. It’s an improbable American story.
And she said, just like everyone here has an improbable story—I mean, you know she talked about her father, with M.S. And she reconnected that everybody has a—a health care issue in their family, and that, if they want to get health care for all, it’s going to be a Democratic administration that is going to deliver on that.
And, at the end of the day, people have to realize, whatever their feelings, I mean, we—this is about delivering on important issues to them in their own personal lives. And they have got to put their prejudices aside and say, listen, what is going to help me deliver for my family?
And Barack Obama—my father, Ted Kennedy, is going to be chairman of the Health Committee. He is going to deliver for Barack Obama on a health care for all. And it’s going to be the difference in whether people get health care or not. And that’s what’s important in this election.
GREGORY: Let’s talk about your dad, an intensely personal moment for you and I think for everybody here, but for you in a different and a special way. What was that like?
KENNEDY: Well, it gave me great pride, obviously, to see my father up there. I have obviously—I have had headaches from the altitude, and, you know, trying to drink enough water.
And, here, my dad comes in, and he’s had radiation, chemotherapy, and, you know, he just gets up there and knocks the speech right out of the park, and—and once again illustrates that this is the time. It’s the summit of his political career. He is going to go back to the Senate with an improved Democratic majority in the Senate. The House is a great working majority.
And, with Barack Obama as president, they’re going to finally be able to accomplish something on health care that’s going to allow people access to affordable health care. This has been the biggest challenge for our country. We have got to finally solve it for our economy’s sake, for our people’s sake. And it’s long overdue.
GREGORY: Patrick Kennedy, thank you very much.
KENNEDY: Thank you, David.
GREGORY: Thanks for being here. Really appreciate it.
KENNEDY: No, my pleasure. Thanks.
GREGORY: Chris and Keith, back to you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, David.
Let’s—let’s—oh, I’m sorry.
Let’s bring in MSNBC, political analyst Michelle Bernard.
Michelle, I want to give you plenty of time to react to this other tall woman.
MATTHEWS: Because she talked about her being tall. You are of course very tall.
Tell me about it. Tell me about your feelings watching that.
MICHELLE BERNARD, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I have got to—before I even get to Michelle Obama, I just want to talk about very quickly Senator Kennedy tonight, because something else that has not been touched on yet, which I think it incredibly important, was, we have all been pontificating about the Democratic Party of Barack Obama, the Democratic Party of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
And what I saw tonight and what I thought about was that, really, John F. Kennedy, for such a long period of time, represented the hopes and the dreams of the United States. And he was the standard-bearer of—of the Democratic Party that was passed on to Senator Kennedy.
And, tonight, that there—if there was ever any doubt about who was—who was the standard-bearer of the Democratic Party and who was—who would be passing the torch on to Senator Obama, it became clear once and for all. Ted Kennedy passed the torch on to Barack Obama, and opened the door for—for Michelle Obama to come in tonight and to give what I think is one of the most spectacular speeches I have seen her give during this very long primary season.
As a woman, as an American woman, as an African-American woman, I was incredibly proud to watch her give the speech and all of the comments that she gave tonight. She hit on every single theme that she needed to talk about.
She introduced herself as a daughter, as a wife, as a sister, as a mother, as a granddaughter. She talked about so many important aspects of her family, of her upbringing. And she—and one of the things that she did that was so important was, you know, when you look at her, you can’t ignore the fact that you are looking at a different type of prospective first lady.
She’s tall, we have talked about. She’s an African-American woman. She dresses very differently than most—most first ladies, or prospective first ladies, that we have seen in the past. But she was able to transcend race. You will notice that you never, ever heard her discuss race the entire time she was speaking tonight. She represented her family as Horatio Alger.
She said to the American public tonight: I am the American dream. I have followed in the footsteps of so many great people. And she was saying that all of us, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, no matter what, we can all follow in the footsteps of so many great men and women, Americans, so many great black leaders, white leaders.
She—she was—she carried on, I think in a very brilliant way, the torch that Ted Kennedy handed over to her husband this evening.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Michelle.
OLBERMANN: ... give me the insight neither of us can up here, the thing that we saw several times during that, women in that crowd in tears. Why?
BERNARD: I think it was a sense of pride.
You know, we have heard Senator Clinton talk about the—the feeling that some of her female supporters need a cathartic—needed a cathartic moment. I think that cathartic moment came tonight, and it wasn’t for Hillary Clinton supporters. It was for women in general.
And you will notice that you saw tears coming from women of all different age groups. And I think that that is the catharsis that—that, if there had to be one, it wasn’t over an anger that Senator Clinton is not the Democratic nominee, but it was a happiness of—to see just how far American women have come.
I think Michelle Obama did a brilliant job of just demonstrating the strength of being an American woman. She didn’t talk about—you will notice, we hear people talk about the fact or people talk about and allege that she is an angry woman. You didn’t hear anything about anger. You didn’t hear anything about how bad we have it in America.
She talked about change. She talked about hope. She talked about the aspirations that all women, regardless of age, regardless of class, regardless of race have. And I think that’s why you saw tears of joy and happiness from many, many women.
I think people looked at her on the stage and they said, that could be me. That could be my daughter. I wish that could have been my mother. I wish that could have been my grandmother. But we live in a new America and it is the dawn of a new day.
MATTHEWS: What do you—what do you see when you meet a couple, and you try to figure out the guy or the woman from the other spouse? What do you say when you see Michelle, and what does that tell you about Barack?
MATTHEWS: Is there any way—I mean, just as a woman, just as a person, does she give you a clue to him you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise if you hadn’t really gotten to know her these last few months?
BERNARD: Well, you know, what I saw—when I look at her speak and when I think about them as a couple and the things that we have seen, I have got to think—I think most people have to be sitting back and saying, this is a really intelligent man. He has picked a spouse very wisely. She clearly loves him. She clearly is a very good mother.
She has a—she seems to have a very good understanding about her husband. When she talked about the fact that Barack Obama grew out—grew up without the love of a father, there was such a tenderness and genuineness to that. And—and it couldn’t help but make me think that Barack Obama himself has such a great deal of respect for strong women.
This is not a man who is intimidated by or in any sense, by any stretch of the imagination, would—could ever be accused of sex discrimination, or not having a deep respect for women, because she is a professional woman. She is a mother. She is highly educated.
She is not, to paraphrase Hillary Clinton from many years ago, Tammy Wynette, staying home, baking cookies for her man. She is a little bit of all of that, which is what we see in most American women today, just trying to find a way to balance work, family and our love lives with our spouses. And I think that says a lot about Barack Obama.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Michelle Bernard.
BERNARD: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, we’re going to hear from Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, plus, Norah O’Donnell and our panel.
You are watching MSNBC’s live coverage—this is all live tonight, as you can tell—from beautiful downtown Denver at the Democratic Convention.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: All of us driven by the simple belief that the world as it is just won’t do, that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be.
And that is the thread that connects our hearts. That is the thread that runs through my journey and Barack’s journey and so many other improbable journeys that have brought us here tonight, where the current of history meets this new tide of hope.
And, you see, that is why I love this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The headliner of the proceedings here in Denver, at the Democratic National Convention, night one, Michelle Obama, wife of the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. The sentimental favorite, Senator Ted Kennedy, in a would he or wouldn’t he, and afterwards, thank goodness he did, rouser of a speech.
Minutes ago, Mrs. Obama approaching the podium after an introduction from her brother Craig Robinson, the men’s basketball coach at Oregon State University, formerly of Brown.
Mrs. Obama vouching for her husband not just as a sister and as a spouse, but also as a voter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF BARACK OBAMA: I come here as a wife who loves my husband and believes he will be an extraordinary president.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: And I come here as a mom, as a mom whose girls are the heart of my heart and the center of my world. They’re the first things I think about when I wake up in the morning and the last thing I think about before I go to bed at night. Their future and all our children’s future is my stake in this election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Caroline Kennedy’s first job for the 2008 election, vetting the Democratic vice presidential running mate, the final choice, Senator Biden in the convention center tonight watching tonight’s events.
Her next task tonight, introducing Senator Kennedy, a.k.a., Uncle Teddy, who, despite his battle with brain cancer, seemed as strong, as determined as ever.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Nothing, nothing is going to keep me away from this special gathering tonight!
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
E. KENNEDY: We are told that Barack Obama believes too much in an America of high principle and bold endeavor, but when John Kennedy thought of going to the Moon, he didn’t say, “it’s too far to get there, we shouldn’t even try.” We reached the Moon. We scaled the heights. I know it. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it. And we can do it again!
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Good evening again from Denver, Colorado. And alongside Chris Matthews, I’m Keith Olbermann. And rarely do we have a night where two speeches are as anticipated as these and pay off.
MATTHEWS: Well, it was highly produced, highly dramatic, well-scripted. But there are some things you can’t put in the script. I thought the kids of Barack Obama, without any coaching apparently, showed that they were kids. And they were not—what’s the right word, they weren’t spoiled by too much exposure.
OLBERMANN: Hothouse. Not hothouse, and that’s the other thing too, yes.
MATTHEWS: they were not used to being coached. They weren’t coached. And when that kid yelled “daddy, what city are you in?” What a great question. It was like they didn’t know he was going to be there. And he had to go through that whole rigmarole with that other family. That part was a little bit set piece.
But you can’t—I thought the kid, the 7-year-old, and the—Michelle Obama, you know, she has been, as you said a couple of times tonight, a bit opaque coming in tonight. We have been getting her in kind of a kaleidoscopic pieces over the past several months. We got a lot of exposure to her tonight. He brains, her charm, who she is.
And I think she got to make her case, and it was a charming chase to make. And I think some people won’t be reached by that. I think the reachables were reached.
OLBERMANN: I think that sums it up. Yes, you cannot construct in your mind a way that that could have gone better for them.
MATTHEWS: Well, let’s go to the panel and see what Norah and the others think about tonight. Norah O’Donnell now leads the panel—Norah.
NORAH O’DONNELL, MSNBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Chris and Keith, thank you.
And we all sat here and watched very closely Michelle Obama’s speech. And, let me start with you, Gene, your impressions?
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, Norah, listening to the speech I had to think about—I thought of my wife and I thought of my mother, I thought of my sister, and I thought that this is an entirely new role to see a black woman in, in America.
And so I have to admit I felt a lot of pride in seeing her in that role. I thought it was a very good speech. I thought it was a very well-delivered speech. I noted that it wasn’t just about demonstrating as if it had to be demonstrated that she is a loyal American. But there was a strong economic component to that speech as well.
O’DONNELL: Yes, absolutely.
ROBINSON: You know, she talked about people who had to work the day shift and then turn around and work the night shift, without disappointment and without regret. And you know, she could have said, without bitterness.
O’DONNELL: Didn’t take a job on Wall Street.
O’DONNELL: And didn’t take a job on Wall Street, left the law firm.
ROBINSON: Exactly. Nor did she. She didn’t take the big law firm job either.
ROBINSON: But it was clearly pitched at ordinary Americans, at working class Americans, and the substance of the speech in addition to, I am Michelle Obama, I am not the caricature you might think I am, the substance of the speech was economics, I feel your pain.
O’DONNELL: You guys, we have all been together through a lot of this primary process. Pat, I remember very clearly the night when Michelle Obama made the comment and we discussed when she said: “This is the first time I have been really proud of my country.”
The lead of the Associated Press piece tonight about Michelle Obama’s speech is “Michelle Obama declared: ‘I love this country.’” There are some people who needed to be reassured that Michelle Obama is a patriot. Did she reach that tonight, those people?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I thought it was a very effective speech and an affecting speech. And it was clearly crafted to go right after the hardening impressions that are very negative about her.
I mean, she had been charged—she and Barack, with being elitist. She put herself in working class roots. She is an angry militant, she came off as a smiling mom. She is someone who is not proud of America, I love my country.
O’DONNELL: But did she move any voters?
BUCHANAN: That’s the question. I think Harold Ford adds, you are going to have to wait and see if she did. Let me say this, she obviously moved some people. We don’t know now how many she moved, how many voters she did, and how she dispelled that impression that the Republicans grabbing on things that she and Barack have done and said have been building that impression.
I think it was effective. I thought terrifically effective was when that little girl walking away yelled “daddy.”
BUCHANAN: You know, I don’t care, I don’t believe that was scripted.
O’DONNELL: So what you are saying is that Michelle Obama didn’t move any voters, but maybe Sasha or Malia did?
BUCHANAN: I don’t know who you are, you have to cheer. That’s like Teddy Kennedy. I mean, you might have been against him for a long time, but you have got to be delighted to see the old lion up there and still able to deliver a speech.
I think it worked. I don’t know how far. And I’ll tell you what I did not think worked too much, was after this very effective personal moment, if you will, she goes into the liberal litany. Now that’s all very good for the audience there.
(CAR PEELS OUT)
BUCHANAN: That’s it right there.
BUCHANAN: Even that guy didn’t watch.
O’DONNELL: What about that, Rachel? This was—we talked a lot about how big, how important this night is. Michelle Obama has to humanize her husband, she has to make this the Huxtables, that we share the values that—just like every other American working class family. Did she convince those people tonight?
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I think she did. This tells you what a better person Gene is than I am, because Gene is thinking about his mother and his wife watching this speech. I was thinking about Pat watching this speech...
MADDOW: No, I was thinking—I was actually thinking, in all seriousness, I didn’t plan on talking about this, but I was thinking about 1992, when I was 19 years old, and, Pat, that was the year of your famous culture war speech at the Houston convention. And when Bill Clinton got elected that remember, I remember, as not a very political person, feeling a visceral sense that, you know, I like the idea of the Clinton family being around for the next four years, I like the idea of them being on TV all the time, in the news all the time, them just being around because they seem likable.
And more importantly, I think that they don’t hate me. I think if they knew me, they wouldn’t hate me and that I—they don’t want an America that doesn’t want me in it. I believe that they would respect me. And after the—after the ‘92 convention that year, I didn’t feel that way about the incumbent president or his party.
BUCHANAN: Well, you are going to see a lot more of the Clintons I think in the next two nights, Rachel.
MADDOW: Sure, we’ll see them the next two nights...
MADDOW: But it’s an important part of what makes a family likeable, right? In this context. It’s not just any family, it’s a political family. They’re not auditioning to be your neighbor. They’re auditioning to be in the White House for four years. And part of it is whether they respect other Americans, whether they like the rest of us, whether they know where we come from.
O’DONNELL: There was no discussion about John McCain in the speech, but she did mention Hillary Clinton and gave praise to Hillary Clinton for breaking those 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling as she did. Did she do something to help pull over those Hillary Clinton supporters?
BUCHANAN: Well, as soon as she mentioned Hillary Clinton, the place exploded, I think as no other two words in the whole speech, the place exploded. I think it was a very wise thing to do, a smart thing to do. But it clearly shows there is an enormous Hillary Clinton constituency in that hall.
MADDOW: Or there’s a lot of respect for Hillary Clinton among Obama supporters. That’s the other way to…
ROBINSON: The other thing she didn’t mention in the entire speech is race. She didn’t talk about race. I don’t think she…
O’DONNELL: Yes, why? Why did she not mentioned race?
ROBINSON: Because that has been the tenor of the entire Obama campaign.
BUCHANAN: And she also did not mention…
ROBINSON: It’s not to run an overt—a campaign that is overtly about race that is about race, really, to run a campaign as a candidate that is black rather than as a black candidate.
BUCHANAN: No, no, she doesn’t want to mention that, Gene. You notice she didn’t bring up the Christian religion. No religion mentioned. I was surprised. I mean, where was the Christianity, you know, Barack and I?
ROBINSON: There was a lot of God bless.
BUCHANAN: Yes—no, no, you know, I suggest you take a look, it wasn’t in there.
ROBINSON: A lot of God bless in that speech.
MADDOW: But this was the family values speech. This was the get to know our family. We understand America. We are Americans. We have lived the American dream. We respect it. And we understand you as much as you understand us. We are part of this country.
O’DONNELL: Well, Pat made a remark earlier about this being a scripted speech. But you could not script what happened at the end of that speech when the two girls came out and grabbed the mike. And the youngest one kept saying “daddy, daddy,” as you pointed out. It sort of really put the cherry on the sundae.
BUCHANAN: Well, you know, even us post-rational people were taken by that moment.
ROBINSON: So you’re pre-rational.
O’DONNELL: All right. Chris and Keith, back to you guys.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, Norah. You know, Pat, it’s not the Christian Democrats having their convention tonight, OK? Rick Warren isn’t here. We don’t have any religious tests, thanks to Thomas Jefferson, in our Constitution. Thank you, Norah.
Let’s check in right now with NBC News political director Chuck Todd on what the Democrats accomplished tonight at the convention—Chuck.
CHUCK TODD, NBC POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, it’s interesting, Chris. You know the goal of this convention, I think, is three-fold for Obama. Number one, fill in the biography on himself, reintroduce himself to voters who may not know him, and try to reintroduce his family, and connect a little bit better to parts of not only the Democratic electorate that he didn’t succeed with, but part of the swing voting electorate.
The second thing is to create a contrast with John McCain. And on that score tonight, that really wasn’t done. Now that might be what Tuesday and Wednesday is about. Tuesday being economy night. Wednesday being foreign policy night.
But there are a lot of Republicans out there tonight who view this purely through the prism of, OK, did Obama take out McCain at all tonight? And in their minds, they—he didn’t.
Sure, I think Michelle Obama made some progress, I think you get Republicans who would say, hey, this was somebody who we didn’t know if she could be useful to Obama with swing voters, useful to deploy her in certain parts of the country.
She had a very soft-spoken, yet it was a very poignant speech and she may have been able to introduce herself on—on that with some voters.
But then, of course, the third thing about tonight is unity. And that’s where the Ted Kennedy moment—I mean, this night is always going to be known for the Ted Kennedy moment tonight and the Ted Kennedy speech. And that moment where you saw the entire convention come together, that may be something that was very helpful inside the Democratic Party.
But, again, through the eyes of Republicans and through the eyes of the McCain campaign, they look at tonight and say, OK, this is—they had their night, and there is no doubt, country probably shed a tear watching Ted Kennedy tonight, but I don’t know if Obama made progress on knocking John McCain down a peg or two.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the continued division in the Democratic Party. I once read something about marriage counseling that a marriage dies when one partner feels contempt for the other. Contempt.
And the opposite of contempt is respect. As we look forward from tonight, tomorrow, the next night, that first step tonight by Michelle Obama talking about Hillary Clinton and what she was able to do to break through with 18 million breaks through the glass ceiling, was that the first step of establishing clear manifest respect for the Clinton part of the Democratic Party?
TODD: You know, it is interesting, when I heard the line, and you realize this is a line that may have been written three, four, five days ago, may have been written a week ago, and you say to yourself, you know what, you wonder if the Hillary and the Obama folks have actually come together a lot quicker than we are saying, because you know, we’re sort of influenced by these so-called PUMAs that are out there, we’re hearing from some of the establishment folks inside the Democratic Party who had sort of risen with the Clintons and suddenly are finding themselves with less access, maybe, to this convention, not the best passes to the best parties, and so they’re a little cranky.
But then all of a sudden you realize, well, you know what? Maybe Hillary and Obama, maybe they are getting there. I think that absolutely what Michelle Obama said tonight was a step in that direction. I think you are going to see Hillary Clinton going just as far the other way.
The big question mark is Bill Clinton. What is his reception going to be at this convention? He is used to coming to a pure rock star reception. Will he get that here? Two-thirds of these delegates might not have been very happy with Bill Clinton during the primary season.
And I’ll tell you, there is some fear among some Clinton folks that while they fully expect Hillary Clinton to be treated very happily, huge crowds, huge cheering, will Bill Clinton get the same—get the same reception? It’s sort of a fear that some of—some Bill Clinton folks have.
OLBERMANN: Well, you know, Chuck, that there are ways you can goose the response of an audience in any kind of environment. One of which is to put your own people—and I’m speaking not of the Clintons but the Obama people could all be out on the floor yelling like mad, and will sound like a unanimous support thing. So perhaps that concern could be resolved.
But I would like to get a little information, a little practical analysis of what we found out tonight. First, the Associated Press reporting, and then our interview with Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz in which she confirmed that there will be a roll call that will be cut off to declare Obama the nominee by acclimation, that that’s probably going to be Senator Clinton doing the cutting off of that roll call vote.
And she added in answer to Chris’s questions, that there will nominating speeches for both of them. Now is the potential for this thing—as a subject we don’t have to talk about ever again, is it potentially over in 48 hours?
TODD: Look, I think it is. When we look back on this convention, I think it is very possible, Keith, in three weeks we will have two memories. One will be with whatever Obama says in that football stadium. And the second one will be Ted Kennedy tonight.
I mean, and all of the Clinton drama that we’re all looking at so intently right now might feel like it will fade into the background. I mean, every time you see these things—you know, look if Barack Obama loses the general, our memories will change and suddenly will—Tuesday and Wednesday night of this convention will be something we have clear memories of.
But right now I think three or four weeks from now, two moments are going to stick out for a lot of people about this convention. And I don’t know if any of those moments will have anything to do with the Clintons.
OLBERMANN: We’ll see. Chuck Todd, our…
MATTHEWS: You know…
OLBERMANN: Go ahead, Chris.
MATTHEWS: I don’t know how we could do this without Chuck Todd. He’s the best. Anyway, Chuck, you’re the greatest, I mean it. Anyway…
TODD: All right.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, Chuck. We will—in case you missed either of these things, we will be bringing you again the Ted Kennedy speech, and of course the Michelle Obama speech in their entirety later on in our coverage tonight. And to the point of the Ted Kennedy speech, Ken Burns is the documentary filmmaker who directed the tribute to Ted Kennedy.
The video tonight, which was expected to be the whole show I guess, Ken, and I imagine you have never been more pleased to be upstaged than you were tonight by the senator’s remarkable appearance.
KEN BURNS, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER: It was just stunning for all of us who have had the privilege of just sort of getting close to the process of having the opportunity to spend some time with him and Vicky and some of the people who he has influenced in his life and then to have him come out at the end was just the proof of the pudding.
This is a strong old goat. And he has got work he wants to do, an agenda he wants to accomplish. And it was wonderful to get caught up in his perpetual motion machine for just a couple of days.
OLBERMANN: And to be caught up in that, obviously, you have an insight or an access that the rest of us would not have had. Give us your read on—on who we saw tonight. Is this it? The man who is only occasionally not 100 percent recognizable as the man we knew before his illness was diagnosed? Is he this vital all the time?
BURNS: You know, he stunned us, when we were in Hyannisport, with that energy and that vitality, that commitment. He was talking not just about the audacity, but the possibility of hope. And that is a wonderful, wonderful message to be carrying on.
He is so committed to health care. He is so committed to national service. He is committed to an honorable end to this horrific war. He is interested in working with President Obama. I have never seen anything like this, the fortitude and inner strength. I think those who worked on it, my partner on this, Mark Herzog, we were stunned by the man we met, and you saw him again tonight, summoning up all of the energy to come and unite these Democrats as no one else could have brought them together.
MATTHEWS: Ken, what couldn’t you put on the picture? I always like to ask people, what is the guy like? What can’t you see on television? What couldn’t you see in the—what couldn’t you put in the—in the doc?
BURNS: You know, it was just more of what you saw, Chris. It was so wonderful. You know, a guy with his legislative accomplishments shouldn’t be this close to his family. His family adores him. They’re calling him Teddy all the time. Teddy, do this. Teddy, do that. He really put his arm around his family and was—still had enough energy to help the rest of us, to lift us up.
It was just more of the same story. We were flabbergasted sitting in that iconic place where we’ve seen all of the footage of the brothers and there he was, still working, wanting to talk about the Red Sox, wanting to talk about what’s going on in the election, wanting to handicap all of the inside game. We were thrilled to be part of that. And the film really reflects who this guy is.
MATTHEWS: You know, it’s amazing that we never saw a Kennedy boy grow old. You know, that’s what struck me about your collage of pictures.
BURNS: That’s exactly right, Chris. And I think there’s so much poignancy. And what you begin to realize though is what he has actually accomplished during the course of his lifetime in many ways dwarfs the actual legacy of his two martyred brothers—three martyred brothers.
At the same time, they’re fixed. And so we endow them with the immortality that they so clearly deserve. And yet here is the youngest brother, the little engine that could that keeps going every single day, adding something to our agenda, adding something to this country.
And this isn’t just a Democrat or a Republican thing, this is for all of us. He’s an amazing, amazing man to get to know.
OLBERMANN: Ken Burns, the auteur of the great series from last year, “The War,” prior to that, “The Civil War,” “Brooklyn Bridge,” so many more, and tonight, stirring documentary at the convention about Ted Kennedy. I guess you have got a baseball one coming up again, is that right?
BURNS: We do. PBS loaned us out for just a few weeks to do this one. But we’re back to work on a history of the national parks that will be out next year, and then an update on our baseball series which we’re calling “The Tenth Inning.” And it features the opinions and commentary of a guy on MSNBC who comes on at 8:00 every night on “COUNTDOWN.” You height know him.
OLBERMANN: And you were fortunate to get Chris to sit down with you. Thank you, Ken. Good to talk to you.
OLBERMANN: Thanks, Ken.
BURNS: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Much more from Denver as our coverage of day one of the Democratic Convention continues with no more plugs for my appearances with Ken Burns, after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
M. OBAMA: That’s why Barack is running, to end the war in Iraq responsibly…
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: … to build an autonomy that lifts every family, to make sure health care is available for every American, and to make sure that every single child in this nation has a world-class education, all the way from preschool to college.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: That’s what Barack Obama will do as president of the United States of America.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, we’re back from Denver, that’s our crowd out there watching our set right below us right there. And our live coverage, of course, of the Democratic Convention, it has been a dramatic night with speeches like—by Michelle Obama and, of course, Senator Ted Kennedy.
It’s hard to tell which was the most important speech tonight. But certainly both were very melodramatic. Let’s get right now to a pro, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, an early endorser of Barack Obama.
Senator, thank you. You are a pro.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: Thanks.
MATTHEWS: You are beyond sentiment. But let’s look at both the sentimental aspects of tonight, the historic aspects, but most importantly, the political. Do you believe the Democratic Party moved ahead tonight?
KLOBUCHAR: I think we did. And I believe that you really have to focus on that speech of Michelle Obama’s, the tribute to Ted was amazing, but Michelle Obama stood there before the American people, before, in the video, her mother said, we want to show the people of this country the girl we raised and the woman that she has become. And that’s what they did.
When she told that story of her dad getting up an hour early and having to—so he could dress because of his multiple sclerosis to get to a job at the Chicago Water Department, and Barack driving her and their newborn baby from the hospital slowly just because he was just afraid, he didn’t want anything to go wrong.
As they said, this was an American story. And when you are looking at that story as a parent, they needed to do that, they needed to show the people of this country what their family was about and they more than accomplished that in a very genuine way.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.
OLBERMANN: We’ll be back…
KLOBUCHAR: Good to be on.
OLBERMANN: We’ll be back, live from Denver with much more on the first night of the Democratic Convention. Chris and I return after this.
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