Video: Michael Moore on '9/11'

updated 6/24/2004 9:56:21 AM ET 2004-06-24T13:56:21

To Sen. Tom Harkin, Michael Moore’s documentary, “Fahrenheit 9/11” is an “unvarnished presentation” of facts surrounding the worst terror attack ever on U.S. soil.

Republicans take fierce issue with the movie’s premise that President Bush was inattentive to the threat of terrorism. But few — if any — GOP figures were there Wednesday night for the movie’s premiere at the stately Uptown Theater.

Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe came, relished the movie and said he thought it would gain traction in this election year.

“This movie raises a lot of the issues that Americans are talking about, that George Bush has been asleep at the switch since he’s been president,” McAuliffe said as he walked the red carpet into the premiere.

Hrkin implored all Americans to see the film: “It’s important for the American people to understand what has gone on before, what led us to this point, and to see it sort of in its unvarnished presentation, which Michael Moore has done,” he said.

The two-hour film depicts President Bush as lazy and oblivious to warnings in the summer of 2001 that al-Qaida was poised to strike. That’s the same argument that Richard Clarke, the administration’s former counterrorism expert, put in a new book and took to the national commission studying the Sept. 11 attacks.

Bush’s national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, and a host of other top-level officials steadfastly denied Clarke’s assertion.

Dozens of fans greeted Moore outside the theater with applause and shouts of “Go Michael!”

Moore, a fervent Bush critic, said he hopes the movie will get people to the ballot box in November.

“If this movie can inspire a few of that 50 percent that did not vote in this country to get back involved, to re-engage, then the movie will have accomplished something important,” he said.

Opening in limited release in New York on Wednesday, the film drew mixed reaction.

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“This movie is slanted — it’s a backlash at the president, taking the view that U.S. leadership is incompetent,” said Miguel Brown, 22, a production assistant who did not work on the movie. “Moore makes it look like U.S. soldiers in Iraq were thrown into battle straight off the streets. The American army is better than that.” Brown is the son of a military officer.

“Fahrenheit 9/11” won the top honor at last month’s Cannes Film Festival.

The movie, which carries an R rating, opens on more than 800 screens nationwide Friday. Moore and his distributors lost their appeal Tuesday to lower the rating to PG-13.

It grossed $49,000 at the Loews Village 7 theater in New York and more than $30,000 at the Lincoln Plaza, breaking the single-day records for both theaters, said Tom Ortenberg, president of Lions Gate Films Releasing.

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