updated 7/27/2004 9:45:52 AM ET 2004-07-27T13:45:52

Guest: Tad Devine, Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Howard Dean, Sen. Bob Graham, Howard Fineman, Donna Brazile, Dennis Kucinich, Willie Brown

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  We have joining us now—we‘re going to have a wider poll of ourselves in a minute or two.  Andrea—Andrea, the biggest challenge of this convention is to be convincing, to convince that 20 percent in the country, or a majority of that 20 percent, who will decide the election—it‘s not open to everybody.  About 40-some percent have decided to vote for the president again, about 40 percent to vote against him.  So we‘re talking about that—between the 50-yard line.  For the 50-yard line be impressed if Al Gore gets up there and says, We was robbed, if Jimmy Carter comes up there and dumps all over the current president...


MATTHEWS:  ... if the Clintons come back with all their baggage—is that a sell—is that a big sale for the Democrats tonight?

MITCHELL:  No, it isn‘t.  That‘s what...


MATTHEWS:  ... Democrats?

MITCHELL:  It‘s just for—this is speaking to the crowd.  This is for the home audience.  This is for the family.  It‘s a family night.  They got to get past this night and eagerly move on to the new agenda, which is trying to...

MATTHEWS:  Are they hoping that the main audience tonight—Joe Scarborough joins us.  How about an objective opinion from the outside...



MATTHEWS:  Will—will the people—will the people watching the program tonight be largely Democrats, and the other people in the country, the Republicans, the independents, begin to watch Tuesday, Thursday night?

SCARBOROUGH:  You know what?  I—actually, I think you‘re actually going to see America for the first time really being introduced to this guy.  Obviously, it starts in Iowa and New Hampshire, then everybody goes to sleep for months.  They wake back up in the middle of the summer.  This is (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in 1992.  Bill Clinton was introduced to America.  All of the garbage that happened between New Hampshire and the middle of the summer wasn‘t seen by the majority of Americans.  They saw in 1992 a new, energetic voice.  They liked him.  They embraced him.  That‘s (UNINTELLIGIBLE) And I think the most...

MATTHEWS:  The 26th of July, are they waking up now?

SCARBOROUGH:  They‘re waking up now.  The most important thing is the tone that‘s finally being set.  Sort of the Michael Moore impact on American politics is not going to seep in here.  The crossovers are going to like, I think, the John Kerry that they‘re introduced to.

MATTHEWS:  They‘re not going to like what they see this week.

SCARBOROUGH:  They will.

MATTHEWS:  Oh, they will?

SCARBOROUGH:  Because John Kerry has put the message out there, We‘re going to talk about what‘s right about the Democratic Party, not what‘s wrong with George Bush.

HOWARD FINEMAN, “NEWSWEEK”:  No, they‘re talking about what‘s wrong with the Republican Party, but they‘re not mentioning Bush.  They‘re not making it personal.

MATTHEWS:  OK, so...

FINEMAN:  They‘re not making it personal.

MATTHEWS:  ... it‘s not Bush-bashing, literally Bush-bashing, if you don‘t use his name, Andrea.

MITCHELL:  Yes.  And the Democrats in charge of all this say that their polling shows that they have 10 percent more people paying attention, saying that they will watch at least some of the Democratic national convention this year than four years ago.  It was 68 percent four years ago said they would look at at least some of it, 78 percent this year.  They think that there are more people shopping around, more people willing to take a look at John Kerry, if he can appeal to them in the next couple of days.

MATTHEWS:  Well, they‘re accusing the Democrats this, Joe, this week, and I think it‘s a fair shot, of a makeover, that the Democrats are really a much more wild and woolly party, a much more lefty party than you‘re going to see this week, a lot more crazy aunts in the closet than they‘re letting us see this week.


MATTHEWS:  In fact, they‘re going to put out a very—that guy singing “The Star Spangled Banner,” rather the—yes, that‘s a pretty impressive start for a convention.  And then you got a lot of talk about his war record, a lot—Jimmy Carter, I‘ve read the speech already.  Jimmy Carter‘s not going to talk about peace, he‘s going to talk about what a soldier this guy John Kerry was.

SCARBOROUGH:  And the thing is, the second you walk into the convention, you see a stronger America.  And for everybody that‘s talking about—I mean, I just don‘t buy it.  People saying, Oh, well, you know, if George Bush is elected, we‘re going to be a right-wing America.  If John Kerry is elected, it‘s going to be a left-wing America.  I mean, after all, John Kerry voted for the war that George Bush supported.  John Edwards voted for the war.  No Child Left Behind, both of them voted for it.  NAFTA, both of them voted for it.  I mean, there‘s very little difference on the very big issues.  Does anybody really think if John Edwards wins that we‘re going to be out of Iraq in less than six months?

MATTHEWS:  That must be a joke.


MATTHEWS:  You said he voted for the war.  I agree with you.  They voted for the war.  They voted to unleash the forces of the United States against Iraq.  The way they now say it is they approved the president going to the world community, and as a last resort, going to war.

SCARBOROUGH:  They‘re going to say that tonight, but who is John Kerry‘s political hero?  It‘s JFK, another Democrat that portrayed himself as a cold warrior.  This guy is not a George McGovern.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go right—Joe and the rest of you, let‘s go right now to one of the big speeches of the night, former president Jimmy Carter.

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Thank you.  My name is Jimmy Carter, and I am not running for president.



But here‘s what I will be doing: everything I can to put John Kerry in the White House with John Edwards right there beside him.


Twenty-eight years ago I was running for president.  And I said then, I want a government as good and as honest and as decent and as competent and as compassionate as are the American people.

I say this again tonight, and that‘s exactly what we will have next January with John Kerry as president of the United States of America.


As many of you may know, my first chosen career was in the United States Navy, where I served as a submarine officer.  At that time, my shipmates and I were ready for combat and prepared to give our lives to defend our nation and its principles.  At the same time, we always prayed that our readiness would preserve the peace.

I served under two presidents, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, men who represented different political parties, both of whom had faced their active military responsibilities with honor.


They knew the horrors of war.  And later as commanders in chief, they exercised restraint and judgment, and they had a clear sense of mission.  We had a confidence—we had a confidence that our leaders, both military and civilian, would not put our soldiers and sailors in harm‘s way by initiating wars of choice unless America‘s vital interests were in danger.


We also were sure that these presidents would not mislead us when issues involved our national security.


Today, our Democratic Party is led by another former naval officer, one who volunteered for military service.  He showed up when assigned to duty...


... and he served with honor and distinction.  He also knows the horrors of war and the responsibilities of leadership.  And I am confident that next January, he will restore the judgment and maturity to our government that nowadays is sorely lacking.


I am proud to call Lieutenant John Kerry my shipmate, and I am ready to follow him to victory in November.


As you all know, our country faces many challenges at home involving energy, taxation, the environment, education and health.  To meet these challenges, we need new leaders in Washington whose policies are shaped by working American families instead of the super-rich and their armies of lobbyists in Washington.


But the biggest reason to make John Kerry president is even more important.  It is to safeguard the security of our nation.


Today, our dominant international challenge is to restore the greatness of America, based on...


... based on telling the truth, a commitment to peace, and respect for civil liberties at home and basic human rights around the world.


Truth is the foundation of our global leadership, but our credibility has been shattered and we are left increasingly isolated and vulnerable in a hostile world.

Without truth, without trust, America cannot flourish.  Trust is at the very heart of our democracy, the sacred covenant between a president and the people.

When that trust is violated, the bonds that hold our republic together begin to weaken.

After 9/11, America stood proud—wounded, but determined and united.  A cowardly attack on innocent civilians brought us an unprecedented level of cooperation and understanding around the world.  But in just 34 months, we have watched with deep concern as all this good will has been squandered by a virtually unbroken series of mistakes and miscalculations.


Unilateral acts and demands have isolated the United States from the very nations we need to join us in combating terrorism.

Let us not forget that the Soviets lost the Cold War because the American people combined the exercise of power with adherence to basic principles, based on sustained bipartisan support.

We understood the positive link between the defense of our own freedom and the promotion of human rights.

But recent policies have cost our nation its reputation as the world‘s most admired champion of freedom and justice.


What a difference these few months of extremism have made.

The United States has alienated its allies, dismayed its friends, and inadvertently gratified its enemies by proclaiming a confused and disturbing strategy of preemptive war.

With our allies disunited, the world resenting us, and the Middle East ablaze, we need John Kerry to restore life to the global war against terrorism.


In the meantime, the Middle East peace process has come to a screeching halt.  For the first time since Israel became a nation, all former presidents, Democratic and Republican, have attempted to secure a comprehensive peace for Israel with hope and justice for the Palestinians.

The achievements of Camp David a quarter century ago and the more recent progress made by President Bill Clinton are now in peril.

Instead, violence has gripped the Holy Land, with the region increasingly swept by anti-American passions.  This must change.


Elsewhere, North Korea‘s nuclear menace, a threat far more real and immediate than any posed by Saddam Hussein, has been allowed to advance unheeded, with potentially ominous consequences for peace and stability in Northeast Asia.

These are some of the prices of our government has paid for this radical departure from the basic American principles and values that are espoused by John Kerry.


In repudiating extremism, we need to recommit ourselves to a few common-sense principles that should transcend partisan differences.

First, we cannot enhance our own security if we place in jeopardy what is most precious to us, namely the centrality of human rights in our daily lives and in global affairs.


Second, we cannot maintain our historic self-confidence as a people if we generate public panic.


Third, we cannot do our duty as citizens and patriots if we pursue an agenda that polarizes and divides our country.


Next, we cannot be true to ourselves if we mistreat others.

And finally, in the world at large, we cannot lead if our leaders mislead.


You can‘t be a war president one day and claim to be a peace president the next, depending on the latest political polls.


When our national security requires military action, John Kerry has already proven in Vietnam that he will not hesitate to act.  And as a proven defender of our national security, John Kerry will strengthen the global alliance against terrorism while avoiding unnecessary wars.


Ultimately, the basic issue is whether America will provide global leadership that springs from the unity and the integrity of the American people, or whether extremist doctrines, the manipulation of the truth, will define America‘s role in the world.

At stake is nothing less than our nation‘s soul.


In a few months, I will, God willing, enter my 81st year of my life.


And in many ways, the last few months have been some of the most disturbing of all.  But I am not discouraged.  I really am not.  I do not despair for our country.  I never do.  I believe tonight, as I always have, that the essential decency and compassion and common sense of the American people will prevail.


And so I say to you...


And so I say to you and to others around the world, whether they wish us well or ill: Do not underestimate us Americans.


We lack neither strength nor wisdom.  There is a road that leads to a bright and hopeful future.  What America needs is leadership.


Our job, my fellow Americans, is to ensure that the leaders of this great country will be John Kerry and John Edwards.


Thank you and God bless America.


MATTHEWS:  Well, that was one heck of a speech, Howard Fineman.  We got Mayor Brown, former mayor Brown of—Willie Brown of San Francisco, Andrea Mitchell, Joe Scarborough.  Start with you.  If that was a softened-down speech, what was the tough one?  He accused him of extremism, of misleading the country, Of generating public panic?

FINEMAN:  Manipulating the truth.  It was the full foreign policy indictment as harshly and as strongly as I‘ve heard it from him or from any other Democrat, really.  Really remarkable.  Al Gore was nothing compared to this.  And the other thing that‘s interesting is how much the Democrats are focusing on foreign policy.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about that in a minute.  Let‘s go to Tad Devine right now.  He‘s a senior adviser to the Kerry campaign.  He‘s over up in the stands there.

Tad, that was one barn-burner, in terms of the language.  Was that  censored version of Carter or the original?

TAD DEVINE, KERRY-EDWARDS SENIOR ADVISER:  It was the original.  Let me tell you, Chris, I thought it was a sensational speech, a measured critique of President Bush.  It‘s really pointed out the weaknesses of the foreign policy of the United States.  When we talk about restoring respect in the world, President Carter just captured that entirely in his speech.

MATTHEWS:  Has President Bush generated public panic?

DEVINE:  It‘s a little hard hearing you, but I think...

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me try it again.  Has President Bush generated public panic?

DEVINE:  Well, Chris, I think President Carter was speaking to the way this president has behaved.  You know, first he led us to war after he promised to build a broad international coalition and failing to do so.  He promised to exhaust every remedy at the United Nations.  He failed to do so.  He promised to go to war as a last resort.  He failed to do so.  As now, as we continue with this war on terror, instead of making America stronger, he has made us weaker day after day.  And I think that‘s what President Carter was talking about, the nervousness that the American people feel every day because of the failed leadership of this president.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s get back to the words he used.  He said that

this administration is responsible for generating public panic by flashing

·         I assume, flashing those color codes in front of us.  Do you believe that‘s the case?  You, a spokesman for the campaign, do you believe that President Bush has deliberately sought panic in the streets of America or not?

DEVINE:  Chris, I think the result of the president and his policies in America are absolutely—Americans are absolutely more fearful today than they ever have been in their history.  And until we change the direction of this country, this fear will be a part of our daily lives.  I think President Carter spoke powerfully to that fact today.  It‘s a fact of life that everyone in this nation knows and feels.

MATTHEWS:  Do you believe that President Bush is guilty of extremism?

DEVINE:  Chris, I think the president and the vice president are the farthest right leaders that this country has had in a long, long time.  You know, and they keep going farther right every day, and they‘re running a campaign of polarization today in America, trying to divide.  The president promised to be a uniter, not a divider.  And he has been the opposite of that.  And I think President Carter spoke powerfully to that fact tonight.

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much, Tad Devine, a top adviser to John Kerry in the campaign.

NBC‘s Campbell Brown joins us now on the floor of the convention with Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm.

CAMPBELL BROWN, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  That‘s right, Chris.  I‘m here with Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm.  Thanks for joining us.  As you know, Michigan has been characterized as a leaning Democratic battleground state.  What do you think is the most important issue for your constituency?  Is it the economy, or as we‘ve been hearing tonight, strengthen the war on terrorism, national security.

GOV. JENNIFER GRANHOLM (D), MICHIGAN:  I think the No. 1 issue for Michigan is the economy because we‘ve lost so many jobs, especially to outsourcing.  We‘re a manufacturing base, and we‘ve seen so many of those manufacturing plants close down and go to Mexico, go to India, go to China.  That hits home with people.  That‘s a gut issue.  That‘s very strong.

BROWN:  If that‘s the case, why—there‘s only about a 3-point difference in some of the more recent polls between Bush and Gore—“Bush and Gore”...


BROWN:  ... between Bush and Kerry.  Why do you think that is?

GRANHOLM:  I think it‘s because people have solidified.  This is an unusual situation.  It‘s the only time in 50 years where the average poll has John Kerry up 5 points, and he‘s a challenger.  So we feel like we‘re in very good position.  In Michigan, it‘s about a 3-point spread.  But for us, we think it‘s very good because It‘s a challenger, and people are just starting to focus.  If we get a few points bounce from this convention, we‘ll think it‘s a great victory.

BROWN:  How much of an issue is Iraq, though, and national security?  It‘s certainly been dominating a lot of the speeches we‘ve heard here tonight.

GRANHOLM:  And I think it will continue to dominate because the theme here is, of course, respect in the world.  People are very concerned that we are now in the cellar of international esteem.  They want to see a multilateral approach.  They want allies.  And we don‘t want to be the only one holding the bag in Iraq.  I think people do see that at home, and in the heartland, in Michigan, it is an issue.  The biggest issue for us is jobs because that hits people right on Main Street, but certainly, the war in Iraq is a close second.

BROWN:  Michigan governor, again, Jennifer Granholm, thanks for joining us.  And we want to go now to my colleague, Carl Quintanilla, who‘s with the Florida delegation—Carl.

CARL QUINTANILLA, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Campbell, thank you.  We‘re here with Florida senator Bob Graham.  Senator, it seemed like the mood in the room was light-hearted until Carter spoke, and there was almost an audible gasp.  What mood is trying to be set here tonight?

SEN. BOB GRAHAM (D-FL), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, first, I think it was so appropriate for President Carter to be here because he‘s the president who led us with wisdom and gained our respect around the world.  I think the mood was one of attention and seriousness to the message he gave, which was essentially an affirmative and optimistic message, while pointing out some of the missteps of the current president.

QUINTANILLA:  Let‘s talk briefly about Florida.  “USA Today” had a poll out showing Kerry up in Ohio but Bush up by 4 points in Florida.  Is the state in danger this year?

GRAHAM:  It‘s not in danger like it was in 2000.  I don‘t think we‘re going to have the kinds of missteps and embarrassments to which we were subjected four years ago.  It will be a very close, competitive race.  The polls over the past 30 days have hovered around a 50/50 break.  I believe John Kerry will carry Florida.  Today at Cape Kennedy, he gave a very strong message on research, innovation and how America maintains its global leadership.

QUINTANILLA:  Senator Bob Graham, thank you for your time.  Chris, back to you.

MATTHEWS:  We‘re coming right back with our panel.  That was Carl Quintanilla.

Let me ask you with—let me go right back to Joe Scarborough.  It seems to me the Democrats are off the message we heard all day today.  Their plan was to be very central, very moderate, aim down the middle at the undecided voter, don‘t give a party a barn-burner.  And yet Jimmy Carter—just to repeat the words he used—extremism, they misled us.  I think the worst was they—because a lot of people worry about this.  They generated public panic.  In other words, Tom Ridge is out there flashing colors at us like “The Manchurian Candidate,” scaring the hell out of us, and they‘re saying it‘s on purpose.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know what?  I thought...


SCARBOROUGH:  I thought there was a real missed opportunity here tonight.  I would have put Jimmy Carter out to talk about values, to talk about reaching out, understanding.  You know, I‘m not from Manhattan.


SCARBOROUGH:  I‘m not from Los Angeles—to talk about values, to talk about compassion.  I would not put Jimmy Carter out there to talk about missteps in foreign policy.  He would be the last politician I‘d put up there.  I want to say one other thing, though, that it‘s a missed opportunity Democrats are having tonight, reaching out to people in middle America.  I will guarantee you that a single mother making $20,000 a year as a paralegal in a law firm like John Edwards‘ law firm, she doesn‘t care anything about the war in Iraq.  She cares about health care for her children if she loses her job.  She cares about the things that the Michigan governor was talking about.  It‘s going to be very interesting.  You will see these national politicians talking about Iraq, and then you‘ll watch governors and you‘ll watch mayors and you‘ll watch other people go up there, politicians closer to the people, talking about health care, talking about the economy, talking about outsourcing.  I think—I think they‘re making a misstep here by just playing to the activists and talking about a war in Iraq.

MITCHELL:  First of all, they think that their biggest issue right now is foreign policy.  And I‘ve covered Jimmy Carter since 1972, and I met him on the floor of the convention.  He was a governor.  I was introduced to him.  And I was told by another governor in Miami, This is going to be our nominee in 1976.  The difference is, you cannot tell Jimmy Carter...

SCARBOROUGH:  You can‘t tell him what to do, yes!

MITCHELL:  ... what to do.  He chose his topics tonight.  This is his passion.  He believes that panic is being caused.  He believes George W.  Bush is extremist.  I was told that they vetted all the speeches, but they could not vet the big ones.  The big ones are Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

SCARBOROUGH:  Which may be why Jimmy Carter was not allowed to speak in 1996.  That‘s how...

MITCHELL:  He wasn‘t even invited to the convention in 1996.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, was not invited to the convention in ‘96.

FINEMAN:  He‘s become much more passionate...

SCARBOROUGH:  And again...

FINEMAN:  ... about some of these issues in the last few years.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, yes, but for Jimmy Carter, though, to talk about North Korea, after we found out a week after he was awarded the Nobel Prize that he was snookered by the North Koreans in 1994 negotiations...


SCARBOROUGH:  ... it‘s remarkable that they would put this man out there to talk about it.


MITCHELL:  ... about this is way up.


MATTHEWS:  ... all former presidents, including President Clinton, if you look at all the numbers, they do rise after their time.  They do go up very much.

Let‘s go right now to Campbell Brown.  She‘s at the convention with Howard Dean.

BROWN:  That‘s right, Chris.  I‘m here with Governor Howard Dean.  What do you think about what you have heard tonight?  There‘s been this huge effort to try to keep the message positive.  But are people speaking out strongly enough in the way that you would prefer about George Bush and his policies?

HOWARD DEAN (D-VT), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  In order for us to win, we have to present a positive front.  We all know what the sins of George Bush are—half trillion dollar deficits, a war based on apparently nothing.  We still don‘t know why.  And you know, this—if we‘re going to win, it‘s not enough for George Bush to lose.  The American people have to decide to elect John Kerry.  And that‘s why it‘s important for us to be positive this week.

BROWN:  What are we going to hear from you tomorrow night at 9:00 o‘clock Eastern?

DEAN:  Hear a message of hope and a message of empowerment.

BROWN:  Governor Howard Dean with us.  Let‘s head back to Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Campbell Brown.

Let‘s go back to Howard on this question.  Knowing Jimmy Carter a bit and having written speeches for him many, many years ago, I think he‘s most angry about his movement toward peace in the Middle East with Camp David.

FINEMAN:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  It seems to have stopped.  The administration, instead of pressuring both sides, seems to have taken one side.  We‘re not getting anywhere.  That‘s his belief.

FINEMAN:  Yes, it‘s...

MATTHEWS:  Right or wrong.  And I think that‘s—when you heard him tonight talk about that, the failure of Camp David and the second Camp David under Bill Clinton to get somewhere over there, that‘s something that fires him up.

FINEMAN:  It does fire them up.  It fires up the base.  All the people in the hall really do care about the war in Iraq.  And the base—a lot of the base does care about it.  And I don‘t think the Kerry campaign really minds this.  If anybody is going to do it, better that it‘s Jimmy Carter really go after him on this.  And I‘m telling you, the Kerry campaign thinks that if they can fight George—they‘re trying to attack what was perceived as George Bush‘s strength on foreign policy.


FINEMAN:  They basically think—they may be wrong, but they think that economy issues will take care of themselves.  If they can box Bush out on this issue, they can win that way.

MATTHEWS:  Joe made a big point.  He‘s been in elected office.  He knows what he‘s talking about.  Do people out there who are watching tonight and reading the papers tomorrow, are they moved more by concerns about the United States‘ role in the world, especially in Iraq, or moved more by local economic that affect them?  I would argue both, but you make the call.


think you‘re correct when you say both.  But be clear, Jimmy Carter is more like middle America than anybody else who is on that stage or will be on that stage.  And when he utters the words about panic being generated by the different colors, he‘s speaking exactly what these people behind us, watching this, think, Chris.  They really have had an occasion when somebody has said yellow or somebody has said orange.  They‘ve asked, as a mayor, What does that mean?  I have no idea what that means...

MATTHEWS:  It‘s deliberately...

BROWN:  ... and nor does anybody else.

MATTHEWS:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) all agree—by the way, everybody—Joe probably agrees that sometimes it‘s hard to read Tom Ridge.  Are we supposed to not go on vacation this weekend?  Are we supposed to not go on a train this weekend?  What are you supposed to do when you see a big orange line up there?  But is it deliberate?  I think...


MATTHEWS:  ... for political purposes, to get everybody shaky and to vote for the incumbent.

BROWN:  And I think that‘s what most people think.

MATTHEWS:  You do?

BROWN:  And I think that‘s what Jimmy Carter symbolizes.  Unlike Joe, I don‘t think people remember that Jimmy Carter may have had some failures between 1976 and 1980 as it relates to foreign policy.  This guy now has a Nobel Prize.  This guy is almost sanctified.  He‘s like the mother Teresa from Georgia.


BROWN:  And believe me...

SCARBOROUGH:  He may be the Mother Teresa where you‘re from, but he ain‘t the Mother Teresa in middle America!


FINEMAN:  And they‘re going to remember the blindfolded hostages, too, with Jimmy Carter.


BROWN:  No, they...


MATTHEWS:  We do have a spectrum of...


MATTHEWS:  ... San Francisco and the Florida Panhandle.


MATTHEWS:  ... with Andrea in the middle, Philadelphia.

SCARBOROUGH:  From Washington.  In between.

MITCHELL:  No, Philadelphia.  Somewhere in between there is the Jimmy Carter, who is now respected as someone who tried to negotiate in the Middle East.  And I think that that is, Mr. Mayor, a really compelling message, that this administration didn‘t send Colin Powell over, hasn‘t tried to follow up on what Bill Clinton attempted, at least, that we haven‘t moved anywhere in diplomacy in the last couple of years.

MATTHEWS:  And I think they‘d argue...


MATTHEWS:  Coming up in the next hour, speeches by two of the big shots of the Democratic Party, love ‘em or leave ‘em, love ‘em or hate ‘em, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and former president William Jefferson Clinton, both speaking tonight (UNINTELLIGIBLE) top of the bill coming up.

You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s coverage of the Democratic National Convention up in Boston here. 



MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL‘s coverage of the Democratic Convention. 

NBC‘s Carl Quintanilla is on the convention floor right now with Donna Brazile and Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, one of the tossup states—


CARL QUINTANILLA, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hey, Chris, leave it to Louisiana to have the party.  It has got to be one of the loudest parts of the delegation floor. 

Senator Landrieu and Donna Brazile, let me get your reaction to Al Gore‘s speech. 

You ran his campaign in 2000.  How did he do tonight?


If Gore would have given that speech, I will tell you, on more than one occasion in 2000, he would be in the White House.  But you know what?  Al Gore tonight passed the baton on to John Kerry and Senator John Edwards.  He said that America is ready for courageous leaders, two men of great integrity.  It was a wonderful speech, a great send-off.  We‘re ready for the future now.

QUINTANILLA:  Senator, Louisiana has been put in that very thin column of states that went for Bush in 2000 by eight points, but that now are called contested for one reason or another.  Do you think that‘s true?  And why? 

SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D), LOUISIANA:  Well, first of all, I want to remind everyone that our state voted for Bill Clinton twice.  And we have a Democratic governor and a Democratic lieutenant governor right here.  And all of our statewide officials and our House and Senate are Democratic, because it‘s a state that believes in hard work, for the government to meet people halfway. 

We believe in investing in highways and roads and bridges and building jobs right here at home.  We don‘t think the Republican Party offers people in Louisiana hope and optimism.  So we‘re looking for a change.  And that‘s why we think we can carry this time for the Democratic ticket and help lead the whole South. 

QUINTANILLA:  Donna, President Clinton speaks in just about a half-an-hour‘s time or so, an hour.  What does he need to say?  And that age-old question this week, will he overshadow Kerry on Thursday? 

BRAZILE:  Oh, absolutely not.  Bill Clinton tonight is going to remind the American people of eight great years, when he took us over the road of despair and down the road of prosperity.  He‘s going to remind the American people what is at stake this fall.  And, yes, he, too, like Al Gore, will say that John Kerry and John Edwards are ready to lead and govern. 

QUINTANILLA:  Senator and Donna Brazile, thank you. 

BRAZILE:  Will Louisiana go for Kerry/Edwards?


QUINTANILLA:  That‘s Louisiana tonight, Chris.  Back to you. 

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with our panel.  Thank you.  That was Carl Quintanilla with Mary Landrieu—I had her on earlier tonight—and Donna Brazile, one of the smartest people in the Democratic Party. 

Let me go to Mayor Brown right now.

How do you jack up the Democrats‘ spirit without turning off the middle, the question of the night? 

WILLIE BROWN (D), FORMER MAYOR OF SAN FRANCISCO:  Well, I don‘t think you have a choice.  You have really got to play it the way Democrats have always won elections.  And that‘s using the traditional rally-type, all those things that made it possible for Democrats really to believe and want to be a part of it. 

You can‘t worry about whether or not your conduct might turn off one voter.  For every voter you turn off with that conduct, you turn on 50.  I go for the 50. 

MATTHEWS:  So you think the issue is turn off and selling to the committed and getting them to vote is more important than trying to pick up 10 points in the middle?

BROWN:  No, just think about it.  If you are looking to states where there might be some question, you spoke to the governor of Michigan.  And she talked about the edge there. 

If you could just get the auto union workers to come back to the Democratic Party and really work for the Democratic Party, you‘ve got Michigan in the bag. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s exactly the Karl Rove strategy for the Republican Party, get the base excited, get people on the right, evangelical Christians who are concerned about cultural values, get people who are very pro-war for any number of reasons.  You have just given the Karl Rove strategy for the Democrats.  Same strategy?

BROWN:  Well, it‘s the strategy that I have lived by for years.



SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s San Francisco, exactly.



See, what you forget is, in my world, I had to make sure that I always had 40 other people who supported my position, which means I had to go throughout the state of California and do the number. 

Believe me, when you think in terms of “Farmer Brown,” when you think in terms of the conservative Willie Brown, I‘m telling you, I was not the left-leaning nut from San Francisco. 


MITCHELL:  He wasn‘t.

You weren‘t.  You were able to bring people together. 

BROWN:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  OK, everybody, take a shot at this.  If the country doesn‘t want a radical 180 shift in its politics, if it‘s concerned—and maybe the majority of the people did support the war.  That‘s manifestly true.  But they‘re concerned about the way the war has gotten bogged down, etcetera. 

They‘re concerned that—they did want a tax cut.  They think it should be a little more aimed at the middle class, in other words, that they want a course correction.  Don‘t the Democrats make a big mistake if they say, we want a 180 turn and the Republicans, sometime between now and November, like at their convention, offer a slight course correction?  The people say, now they‘ve got it right.  I‘m with the Republicans. 

Joe, is that a danger for the Democrats? 

SCARBOROUGH:  It is a danger.

And I‘ll tell you what.  If I were a Democratic presidential candidate, I would ask myself one thing.  And that is, what would Bill Clinton do?  There is a reason why Bill Clinton won in ‘92 and ‘96.  There‘s a reason why Jimmy Carter won in 1976, because, of, he was able to carry people in San Francisco and Los Angeles, New York, Washington, Philadelphia.  But, at the same time, he could reach out to those people in middle America. 

You can‘t worry about those 50 people that are going to vote for you anyway.  You need to worry about those people that Bill Clinton worried about.  And I think a pivotal moment was the Sister Souljah moment in 1992 when Bill Clinton, said, you know what, we aren‘t going to play to the extremists in this party anymore. 

I don‘t mean to offend people from San Francisco—but we‘re not going to just play to—remember the San Francisco convention, to those people or the people in Miami.  We‘re going to play to people in middle America.  We‘re going to play to the people that, again, elect Southern presidents.  There is a reason why Southern presidents have been elected over the past—since JFK.

MATTHEWS:  We have a division of opinion.

Mayor, your turn. 

BROWN:  Well, if Kerry listens to Joe Scarborough, believe me, in four more years, he‘ll be giving the same speech Al Gore gave tonight about why he didn‘t win. 


BROWN:  He has got to go to the base.  He has got to go to the base

hard.  He has to get every single solitary Democrat to believe


MATTHEWS:  He‘s not doing what you think the Democrats shouldn‘t be

doing.  He‘s doing what you think they should be.  Listen to a couple of



SCARBOROUGH:  John Kerry is going that way, though.

MATTHEWS:  Very careful.  They‘re going down the middle.  Let me tell you what they‘re doing. 

The party platform said one of these sort of Pollyanna statements about, we can all agree to disagree about the war, namby-pamby, meaningless.  Even Al Gore said tonight, no matter where you stood on the war when it started, they‘re allowing people—they‘re giving them a permission slip.  Even if you were the war, you may not like the way it‘s going.  Well, of course.  People don‘t like the way wars are going generally. 

Wars don‘t go well until they‘re won. 


SCARBOROUGH:  But what war went worse, though, obviously, than Vietnam?  We had of course the worst anti-Vietnam protests, 1971, 1972.  College campuses were in flames.  Of course, Cambodia caused so much hell. 

Police cards were overturned.  It was anarchy, anarchy. 

Richard Nixon, 1972, in a much more moderate America, carries 49 states.  I think John Kerry remembers that.  I think a lot of people that worked on the ‘72 campaign remember that, that, sure, Americans are concerned about what is going on in Iraq, a lot less concerned, though, than they were about what was going on in Vietnam in 1972. 

MATTHEWS:  I think that is the fight we‘re having right here, is the fight within the Democratic Party, where they go all out, full-bore, anti-war, somewhat left, or to go down the middle and play it safe. 


MITCHELL:  They‘ve made the decision.  They‘re going down the middle. 


MATTHEWS:  OK, well, they‘re going to follow Joe Scarborough‘s advice. 

Now hear this.


MATTHEWS:  We‘re getting ready for Bill Clinton‘s speech at the Democratic Convention.  It‘s going to be the barn burner of the night.  Will he go left or will he go down the middle?  Will he go DLC or left-wing? 



MATTHEWS:  Coming up in the next hour.

And up next, we‘re going to take a look at Clinton‘s role in conventions past.  Plus, Kerry biographer Douglas Brinkley, he is going to join us. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s—you‘re watching it, HARDBALL‘s live coverage, very live coverage, of the Democratic Convention on MSNBC. 



AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  When policies are clearly not working, we the people can change them.  If our leaders make mistakes, we can hold them accountable, even if they never admit their mistakes. 


JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  In just 34 months, we have watched with deep concern as all of this goodwill has been squandered by a virtually unbroken series of mistakes and miscalculations. 



MATTHEWS:  Right now, the Democrats are having a solemn moment.  It‘s to remember and to do it very reverentially those lost in the 9/11 attacks, of course, in 2001.

Halima Salih (ph) is a Muslim-American of Sri Lankan descent.  She lost her daughter and her son-in-law on American Airlines Flight 11.  Let‘s listen. 

They‘re not ready right now. 

Let‘s right now to the panel again.  I thought we were going to go to the floor there.

Let me ask you about 9/11. 

It seems to me that the challenge of John Kerry and to a much lesser extent John Edwards is to convince the American people they are as good a fighting patriot in a time of crisis as this president was.  And let‘s remember how good he was and how well received his spontaneous behavior was in the New York rubble of the World Trade Center. 

How do they do that, Andrea?  How do they find a way to show Kerry at that best moment? 

MITCHELL:  They know they need to do that and they need to do it this week.  They need to start doing that this week, because, even though they quickly embraced the recommendations of this very popular 9/11 Commission with the report that‘s now becoming a best-seller, the president is acting on it. 

The president called a meeting today.  Andy Card told him that, in two weeks, he could come up with recommendations.  They have put it out that the president said, I don‘t want it in two weeks.  I want it today.  So here he is down in Crawford on vacation and trying to get some advantage of the fact that he in the Oval Office can act on the 9/11 recommendations and can shake up the bureaucracy.  And John Kerry is pretty much an outsider.  He‘s not the president. 

And that‘s the big gap.  So the gap that all the polling is showing is that people still, even if they don‘t like George Bush‘s foreign policy, if they think the country is going on the wrong track, they still think that he‘s more credible in handling terror. 


MATTHEWS:  How do you run for commander in chief against an incumbent commander in chief without offering a different direction to take the country?  Kerry seems to want to replace George Bush.  He doesn‘t seem clearly to have a replacement policy. 


SCARBOROUGH:  He doesn‘t.

FINEMAN:  He wants a change on the bridge of the ship. 

And Tad Devine, who you had on earlier, the strategist, told me, this is not a change election, like, say, 1992 was.  That‘s what he said. 

MATTHEWS:  This is beginning to sound like 1988, when, in desperation...


MATTHEWS:  ... Dukakis said, this isn‘t about ideology.

FINEMAN:  It‘s about competence.


MATTHEWS:  It‘s about competence.


MATTHEWS:  ... lost the election.

FINEMAN:  What they‘re saying is, George Bush, we know, is the sheriff.  That‘s his cartoon image.  He needs to be replaced because he‘s a bad leader of a policy that we‘re not going to repudiate, that the platform doesn‘t repudiate.

MATTHEWS:  It certainly doesn‘t.

FINEMAN:  That‘s why you hear service.  That‘s why you hear Carter

talk about my shipmate.  That‘s why you‘re going to hear on and on and on

about Kerry‘s Vietnam years, the swift boat.  It‘s Kerry as captain.  I‘m

searching for an image of Kerry that they‘re trying to sell.  And it‘s

Kerry as the steady captain of the ship.  That‘s what they‘re trying to


MATTHEWS:  Joe, you jump in.

Why can‘t they find a way of saying what they would do differently? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I will tell you, were I running Kerry‘s campaign, I would talk to my allies on Capitol Hill.

I went to Barnes and Noble this weekend.  I picked up the 9/11 report.  It is remarkable.  And you know what?  The FBI, Homeland Security squad, they‘re still—from time to time, they still seem to be acting incompetent.  You read that report and you get very worried that things aren‘t any better today than they were two, three, four years ago. 

MATTHEWS:  So it is a competence issue.


SCARBOROUGH:  It is.  It is exactly another Massachusetts Democrat obviously.  It‘s not about ideology.  It‘s about competence.


FINEMAN:  But the difference—because, this time, you‘re concerned. 

You, as a citizen and a former Republican congressman, are concerned.


SCARBOROUGH:  And anybody—anybody that reads that 9/11 report is going to be very nervous—and I fly all the time—the next time you step on the plane, the next time you‘re in a sports stadium, because this report—I‘ve read a lot of government documents.

MITCHELL:  This is different.

SCARBOROUGH:  This don‘t read like a bureaucratic report.  It reads like a best-seller. 


MITCHELL:  It does.

SCARBOROUGH:  And I‘ll tell you what.  There is also not a lot of ideology in here either, just the facts. 

MITCHELL:  It‘s a beach read.  It really is.


FINEMAN:  And that‘s the Kerry bet.  That‘s the Kerry bet.

MATTHEWS:  It‘s very hard to win an election against an incumbent president unless you offer a different direction. 

Ronald Reagan did it very effectively, Mayor, in 1980.  He said, I‘m going to go with lower taxes, less government, more fighting the communists, stronger military.  He had a very clear set of agenda.  In 1992, Bill Clinton said, I‘m taking us home to putting people first.  No more new world order.  No more international.  I‘m taking people home. 

How do you beat an incumbent without a clear-cut alternative policy?

BROWN:  Well, I think there will be demonstrated during the course of the next two and a half or so months that Mr. Kerry does have an agenda out.  And he‘ll roll that agenda out.  He‘ll probably start it this Thursday. 

But let me back up for a second.  There is a trust issue.  Mr. Bush is still suffering dramatically from the absence of trust.  Only on the 9/11, the terror issue, is he not subject to having to explain himself.  On everything else, on everything else, when Al Gore said, you must deal with someone who has misrepresented things to you, in effect, the people in this nation are asking Mr. Bush to do that.  And, believe me, I don‘t think it‘s comparable to 1992 or 1980. 


MATTHEWS:  What‘s it comparable to? 

BROWN:  I think it‘s more comparable to what probably occurred in ‘76, when Carter matched Ford.  Ford had a competence problem.  He had a trust problem because of Watergate.  I think Bush has that same problem. 


FINEMAN:  That‘s their hope.  That‘s their hope, because Jimmy Carter, after Watergate, didn‘t offer much of a program at all, really, except to say, I‘ll tell you the truth.  I‘m the salt of the earth.  I will bring—so it was a cultural change.  It was a leadership change, not really a big philosophical change. 


MITCHELL:  It‘s a matter of trust. 


FINEMAN:  That‘s the argument.  That‘s the argument. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Fortunately, for them, though, you had a guy from Georgia who was governor that was from outside of the system. 


SCARBOROUGH:  With John Kerry...

FINEMAN:  Twenty years


SCARBOROUGH:  You have somebody 20 years inside the system.

FINEMAN:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  He‘s a guy—they‘ve got all the votes.  We‘re going to be seeing how he cut intelligence funding, how he wanted to cut defense spending throughout the ‘80s and the ‘90s.  He doesn‘t have what Jimmy Carter had in 1976.

MITCHELL:  Their biggest problem with John Kerry is a matter of biography. 


MITCHELL:  Because he has got the resume, but he doesn‘t have the personality.  He‘s still—according to anybody you talk to in politics, he comes across as being aloof, cold, not ethnic, not blue-collar, not reaching out. 


MATTHEWS:  Joe, what happens if they simply use sophisticated ridicule against him and say, here is a guy that voted against not just this war, but Saddam Hussein, who voted against the last one?  Here‘s a guy that said he was going to vote—he voted for the $87 billion to support the troops and then he voted against it. 


MATTHEWS:  Remember how Nixon did this to McGovern?  This is what Nixon did to McGovern to win 49 states.  He mocked him. 


MITCHELL:  They‘ve been doing that now since he wrapped up the nomination.  And it really hasn‘t brought him down. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Well, actually, though, if you look at the numbers on weather John Kerry stands for—if he really believes in things strongly, it actually did have an impact on those numbers. 

MATTHEWS:  The ads did.

FINEMAN:  The ads did, but not enough to kill him. 

MITCHELL:  But not enough to


SCARBOROUGH:  The ads did.

But I—again, I think the bottom line is, though, something that Andrea said.  He‘s not a likable guy.  What I‘ve been struck by... 

BROWN:  I don‘t think she said he‘s not a likable guy. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, no, he‘s got a personality problem.

BROWN:  You don‘t want to hug him. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know what, though? 

So many Boston politicians, you do want to hug.  I remember when I was in Congress, I worked with Joe Moakley a lot.  I went in 1992 to a celebrity of Joe Moakley‘s career.  I‘m sitting with a Moakley.  And Voelker (ph) gets up and he makes...

FINEMAN:  Massachusetts...


SCARBOROUGH:  Of Massachusetts.

Makes a joke about John Kerry:  John Kerry was late.  He accidentally walked in front of a mirror before he got there.  Everybody exploded laughing.  People here still, they don‘t really like him.  They will vote for him, but they don‘t like John Kerry in Massachusetts. 


MATTHEWS:  We‘re going to poll the audience in a few minutes about whether they feel cuddly towards John Kerry. 


FINEMAN:  Chris, the interesting thing is that they‘re gearing the Kerry campaign toward Kerry‘s personality. 


SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s a mistake.

FINEMAN:  Well, yes, they are, because they‘re saying he‘s the commander in chief that you can trust.  It‘s not ideology, but the person.


MATTHEWS:  We‘re going to stay with you guys.

Let‘s go back to the floor with Chris Jansing.  She‘s with Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who I think is still running for president. 

Chris, let‘s go.

MITCHELL:  No, he endorsed him.



Well, of course, I‘m with the man who stayed in this presidential race longer than anyone but John Kerry, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich. 

Today, you released your delegates.  There are some who have told me they weren‘t very happy that you decided to do this.  Did you feel you got what you wanted to by staying in the race so long? 

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D-OH), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, first of all, I released my delegates.  I recommended that they vote for Senator Kerry.  They‘re going to vote their conscience. 

But let me be clear about this.  Once we all leave this convention, we are closing ranks to elect John Kerry the next president of the United States. 

JANSING:  Here is why they tell me they‘re not happy. 

They look at the Democratic platform.  They don‘t think it reflects the views either of the Democratic Party or certainly it doesn‘t reflect your views, because it refuses to say essentially that they thought the war in Iraq was wrong.  They said people of goodwill disagree about whether America should have gone to war in Iraq. 

KUCINICH:  But I will tell you something.  My delegates are right about that.  But let‘s point out something.  Nine out of 10 delegates here, according to “The New York Times,” oppose the war. 

What we‘re going to do as Democrats, we‘re going to put our differences aside to elect John Kerry president and we‘ll continue the debate after the election.  Democrats always have a diversity of opinion.  That‘s the kind of party we have. 

JANSING:  But you built a lot of support on your opposition to the war and now you‘re supporting a candidate who—and a party whose platform...


KUCINICH:  And I‘m going to continue my opposition to the war.  I absolutely oppose the war.  We ought to end the occupation.  John Kerry is moving in a direction of involving the world community.  But let‘s face it.  This is George Bush‘s war.  It‘s not John Kerry‘s war.

JANSING:  He voted for it. 

KUCINICH:  I know what he did.  And I opposed it. 

But I also say that we are not going to split the Democratic Party over this.  We‘re going to give John Kerry an opportunity to take America in a new direction.  With George Bush, we never—we won‘t have that opportunity.  So the American people are going to have a choice.  We‘re closing ranks regardless of our differences and we‘re going to help take America in a new direction.  And I‘m going to—I‘m here proud to say that I support John Kerry. 

JANSING:  There are 21 states that are considered true battlegrounds. 

The latest state-by-state poll shows 11 of them statistical dead heats. 


JANSING:  Do you think you can help with some of those undecided voters or some of those people who may be leading toward a third-party candidate? 

KUCINICH:  Absolutely. 

That‘s what I‘m going to be doing for our country, because we need to reach out and include people.  We need to show them, if there is room for me in the Democratic Party, there is room for them.  We can reach out to Nader supporters.  We can show that the election of John Kerry will mean a consistent protection for consumers, for the Securities and Exchange Commission, investors, Federal Trade Commission, Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  All these things that mean something to the America people, John Kerry can deliver on.

And more than that, it‘s a new start.  We can reconnect with the world community.  Look, I don‘t agree with John Kerry on a lot of issues.  But I‘ll tell you something.  I‘m going to promote him for president because I think he‘s the best hope we have for a new direction in this country and I‘m urging my supporters to do the same thing. 

JANSING:  Congressman Dennis Kucinich, thank you. 

KUCINICH:  Thank you. 

JANSING:  Chris, back to you. 


MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Chris Jansing. 

Coming up in the next hour, former President Bill Clinton, and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to introduce him.  What a duo that is going to be, as our live coverage of the Democratic Convention up in Boston continues here on MSNBC. 




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