updated 7/27/2004 9:58:07 AM ET 2004-07-27T13:58:07

Guest: Janet Reno, Ron Reagan, Willie Brown, Howard Fineman, Nancy Pelosi

(APPLAUSE)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  It‘s like the Fourth of July out here.  Good evening, I‘m Chris Matthews and welcome to our live coverage of the Democratic National Convention in Boston.  We‘re waiting for Vice President Al Gore—former Vice President Al Gore to take the stage.  And this, by the way, this might be the barn burner of the night from Al Gore, but first MSNBC‘s Keith Olbermann is with us from MSNBC headquarters. 

Keith, what do you go on tonight when we‘re done? 

KEITH OLBERMANN, “COUNTDOWN”:  Chris, it‘s the phrase that‘s sweeping the nation:  “Shove it.”  We‘ll have the actual tape of what Teresa Heinz Kerry said last night. 

Also, inside the convention, courtesy of a correspondent who couldn‘t get inside the convention. 

And what the rest of the world is offering tonight:  What looks like a race between the White House and Congress to turn the 9/11 Commission report into instant law. 

There has been another grim twist in that story of the missing Utah woman. 

And also the story of the great toilet paper robbery in Ashtabula, Ohio, which appears to be unraveling.  Details on “Countdown” after Mr.  Gore—Mr. Matthews.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much.  In related developments—just kidding.  We are waiting now for Al Gore‘s speech to the Democratic Convention in Boston, but first, let‘s get back down to the floor with NBC‘s Carl Quintanilla.  He‘s on the floor with former Attorney General Janet Reno. 

CARL QUINTANILLA, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Chris, Governor Bill Richardson about to speak.  But, we‘re here with former Attorney General Janet Reno. 

Your first convention.  Is it everything you expected? 

JANET RENO, FMR. ATTORNEY GENERAL:  It has been a very exciting and very interesting experience. 

QUINTANILLA:  This—this week obviously, the past couple of weeks, intelligence and Department of Justice almost at the ground zero of the election in terms of the issues and terrorism and so forth.  How much of a plus is that for the Kerry campaign, especially in light of the fact that it was obviously the Clinton administration that was also found to be at fault? 

RENO:  I think it‘s important that America work together on the intelligence issues and come up with an effective bipartisan effort that can address the issues raised in the report. 

QUINTANILLA:  Al Gore‘s going to speak in just a little bit, obviously harkening memories of Florida.  It is—does—we‘re going to go back to Chris for the national anthem—Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Here, right outside, we‘re in Boston, right now.  Former mayor of San Francisco, Willie Brown‘s joined us and, of course, Howard Fineman who knows everything. 

Lets he listen to the national anthem from the floor. 

(SINGING)

(APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS:  That was Bebe Winans singing the national anthem.  Of course, Al Gore is the next speaker to come to the podium.  As we wait for the former vice president, we‘re joined by our panel, right now, MSNBC Political Analyst Joe Trippi, Ron Reagan, former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown—these two have been bonding lately, and how—“Newsweek‘s” Howard Fineman. 

Gentlemen, big challenge tonight for the democrats to talk like that music.  To talk patriotic; to talk middle of the road, and uniting rather than dividing. 

Howard Fineman, your thoughts, can they do it tonight? 

HOWARD FINEMAN, “NEWSWEEK”:  Well, I was over at the convention just now and the buzz about both the Gore speech and then later President Clinton‘s speech is how few times George Bush is mentioned by name.  Al Gore‘s going to wave the bloody shirt of the 2000 election.  He‘ll be passionate, he‘ll probably growling.  Clinton‘s going to say there are two visions of the—of America, one democrat, one republican.  But it‘s not going to be a Bush bashing festival at all as we approach prime-time. 

MATTHEWS:  Mayor Brown, you know the democrats better than anybody at this table.  Can they control themselves tonight and show their brains, not their passion? 

WILLIE BROWN, FMR.  MAYOR, SAN FRANCISCO:  Absolutely.  And they‘ll do exactly that.  As a matter of fact, I think they probably have a push button and anybody that goes off script will be pushed. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I think, what‘s her name, Teresa Heinz may have gone off the—the plan today.  By...

BROWN:  But she was not on the podium.

MATTHEWS:  OK! She was off—she was off the message too, as well as off the podium.

Let‘s go, right now to the podium and to Bill Richardson, the Governor of New Mexico. 

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO:  Before anyone else, and who is a fighter for all those who felt that they never had anyone in their corner, no one to give their dreams a voice, and who is respected throughout the world over as a statesman, as a diplomat, and as a fervent defender of America‘s interest and values.

The last time this man stood before our convention, our party embraced him.  And he, in turn, embraced Tipper.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor to introduce you to a good friend, a colleague, one of this country‘s greatest leaders and patriots, and the man who on Election Day 2000 more people chose to be the president of the United States, Al Gore.

(APPLAUSE)

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Thank you very much.

My friends, fellow Democrats, fellow Americans, I‘m going to be candid with you.  I had hoped to be back here this week under different circumstances, running for re-election.

(APPLAUSE)

But you know the old saying:  You win some, you lose some.  And then there‘s that little-known third category.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

But I didn‘t come here tonight to talk about the past.  After all, I don‘t want you to think that I lie awake at night counting and recounting sheep.

(LAUGHTER)

I prefer to focus on the future because I know from my own experience that America is a land of opportunity, where every little boy and girl has a chance to grow up and win the popular vote.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

In all seriousness, I am deeply, deeply grateful for the opportunity you have given me to serve my country.  I want to thank you as Democrats for the honor of being your nominee for president four years ago... 

(APPLAUSE)

... and for all you did for me and for our country.

And I want to thank the American people for the privilege of serving as vice president of the United States.

Most of all, I want to thank my family with all my heart, my children and grandchildren, and especially my beloved partner in life, Tipper.

(APPLAUSE)

I love this country deeply. 

Wasn‘t Bebe Winans, great?

(APPLAUSE)

I believe that‘s the best National Anthem I‘ve ever heard sung.

(APPLAUSE)

I love this country deeply.  And even though I always look to the future with optimism and hope, I do think it is worth pausing for just a moment as we begin this year‘s convention to take note of two very important lessons from four years ago.

The first lesson is this:  Take it from me, every vote counts.

(APPLAUSE)

In our Democracy, every vote has power.  And never forget that power is yours.  Don‘t let anyone take it away or talk you into throwing it away.

And let‘s make sure that this time every vote is counted.

(APPLAUSE)

Let‘s make sure that the Supreme Court does not pick the next president and that this president is not the one who picks the next Supreme Court.

(APPLAUSE)

The second lesson from 2000 is this:  What happens in a presidential election matters a lot.

The outcome profoundly affects the lives of all 293 million Americans and people in the rest of the world, too.  The choice of who is president affects your life and your family‘s future.

And never has this been more true than in 2004.  Because let‘s face it, our country faces deep challenges.

These challenges we now confront are not Democratic or Republican challenges; they are American challenges that we all must overcome together, as one people, as one nation.

(APPLAUSE)

It is in that spirit that I sincerely ask those watching at home tonight who supported President Bush four years ago:  Did you really get what you expected from the candidate you voted for?

(APPLAUSE)

Is our country more united today or more divided?

Has the promise of compassionate conservatism been fulfilled, or do those words now ring hollow?

(APPLAUSE)

For that matter, are the economic policies really conservative at all?

For example, did you expect the largest deficits in history, year after year, one right after another, and the loss of more than a million jobs?

(APPLAUSE)

By the way, I know about the bad economy.  I was the first one laid off.

(LAUGHTER)

And while it‘s true that new jobs are being created, they‘re just not as good as the jobs people have lost.  And incidentally, that‘s been true for me, too.

(LAUGHTER)

Unfortunately, this is no joke for millions of Americans.  

And the real solutions require us to transcend partisanship.  So that‘s one reason why, even though we meet here as Democrats, we believe this is a time to reach beyond our party lines to Republicans as well.

And I also ask tonight for the consideration and the help of those who have supported a third-party candidate in 2000. 

I urge you to ask yourselves this question:  Do you still believe that there was no difference between the candidates? 

(APPLAUSE)

Are you troubled by the erosion of America‘s most basic civil liberties?  Are you worried that our environmental laws are being weakened and dismantled to allow vast increases in pollution that are contributing to a global climate crisis?

No matter how you voted in the last election, these are profound problems that all voters must take into account this November 2nd

And, of course, no challenge is more critical than the situation we confront in Iraq.  Regardless of your opinion at the beginning of this war, isn‘t it now abundantly obvious that the way this war has been managed by the administration has gotten us into very serious trouble?

(APPLAUSE)

Wouldn‘t we be better off with a new president who hasn‘t burned his bridges to our allies and who can rebuild respect for America in the world?

(APPLAUSE)

Isn‘t cooperation with other nations crucial to solving our dilemma in Iraq?

(APPLAUSE)

Isn‘t it also critical to defeating the terrorists?

(APPLAUSE)

We have to be crystal clear about the threat we face from terrorism. 

It is deadly.  It is real.  It is imminent.

But in order to protect our people, shouldn‘t we focus on the real source of this threat:  the group that attacked us and is trying to attack us again, al Qaeda, headed by Osama bin Laden?

(APPLAUSE)

Wouldn‘t we be safer with a president who didn‘t insist on confusing al Qaeda with Iraq? 

(APPLAUSE)

Doesn‘t that divert too much of our attention away from the principal danger?

I want to say to all Americans this evening that whether it‘s the threat to the global environment or the erosion of America‘s leadership in the world, whether it is the challenge to our economy from new competitors or the challenge to our security from new enemies, I believe that we need new leadership that is both strong and wise.

(APPLAUSE)

And we can have new leadership because one of our greatest strengths as a democracy is that when we are headed in the wrong direction, we can correct our course.  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.

(APPLAUSE)

I firmly believe America needs new leadership that will make us stronger at home and respected in the world.  And we‘re here this week to present to the nation the man who should be and will be our new president: 

John Kerry.

(APPLAUSE)

John and I were elected to the U.S. Senate on the same day 20 years ago, and I have worked closely with him for all that time.  So I want to say a personal word about John Kerry, the man.

He is a friend who will stand by you.  His word is his bond.  He has a deep patriotism that goes far beyond words.  He has devoted his life to making America a better place for all of us.

He showed uncommon heroism on the battlefield in Vietnam.  I watched him show that same courage on the Senate floor.  For example, he had the best record of protecting the environment against polluters of any of my colleagues, bar none.

(APPLAUSE)

He never shied away from a fight, no matter how powerful the foe. He was never afraid to take on difficult and thankless issues that few others wanted to touch, like exposing the threat of narcoterrorism and tracing the sources of terrorist financing.

He was one of the very first in our party to take on the issue of drastic deficit reduction.  And he has developed a tough and thoughtful plan to restore our economic strength and fiscal discipline.

To put it simply, those of us who have worked with John know that he has the courage, integrity and leadership to be a truly great president of the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

And he showed wisdom in his very first decision as the leader of our party when he picked as his running-mate an inspiring fighter for middle-class families and families struggling to reach the middle class:  John Edwards of North Carolina.

(APPLAUSE)

John Kerry and John Edwards are fighting for us and for all Americans, so after we nominate them here in Boston and return back to our home states across this land, we have to fight for them.

Talk to your friends and neighbors, go to johnkerry.com, raise money, register voters, get them to the polls, volunteer your time and, above all, make your vote count.

(APPLAUSE)

To those of you who felt disappointed or angry with the outcome in 2000, I want you to remember all of those feelings. 

But then I want you to do with them what I have done:  Focus them fully and completely on putting John Kerry and John Edwards in the White House so we can have a new direction in America, a new president, a new vice president, new policies, a new day, a brighter future, what this country and what our people deserve.

(APPLAUSE)

Fellow Democrats, when I look out and see so many friends who have meant so much to me in my own public service, my heart is full tonight.  I thank you for all the love you‘ve shown to Tipper and me.  You will forever be in our hearts.

And there‘s someone else I‘d like to thank, and that‘s the man who asked me to join him on the ticket at our convention 12 years ago, my friend and my partner for eight years, President Bill Clinton.

(APPLAUSE)

I will never forget that convention or that campaign, the way we barnstormed the country, carrying a message of hope and change, believing with our whole hearts that America could be made new again. And so it was. 

And with your help, and with the leadership of John Kerry and John Edwards, so it shall be, again.

Thank you.  God bless you.  And may God bless the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) lip lock.

MSNBC‘s Chris Jansing is down on the floor of the convention—Chris. 

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hi.  It‘s so loud here, but I‘m here with Nancy Pelosi, she is, of course, the House minority leader.  The first thing we noticed was the kiss wasn‘t as long this year. 

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER:  Well, there were two kisses, but the speech was great and the crowd reaction, of course, was thunderous.  Al Gore asked all the right questions, I think his speech was right on.  It was worth it. 

JANSING:  Do you think the way to energize this crowd is to bring 2000?  He talked about the Supreme Court deciding an election. 

PELOSI:  Oh, definitely.  As I travel through the country people are very concerned that their votes will not count in the election, so it‘s important to bring up 2000 from the standpoint of every person‘s vote counting.  It was important also to focus on the consequences of election.  George Bush has gotten our country in a lot of trouble, economically at home and more dangerously abroad.  And he can‘t solve these problems.  We need a new president. 

JANSING:  I was talking just a short time ago to the head of the NAACP, Kweisi Mfume.  He‘s not convinced the voting issues have been solved, he thinks there may be serious problems again this year. 

PELOSI:  I completely agree.  All Americans must be ever vigilant about what will be dealt at the poll - - how the polls will be conducted this year.  But, everyone is working very hard with lawyers and plans and all the rest to at least minimize the damage that could be done. 

But, the American people must go to the polls in a very optimistic vein believing that their vote will count, studying the issues, understanding there is a big difference between democrats and republicans whether it‘s about our seniors and our children and their future, our workers, our standing in the world.  Whatever the issues, the democrats have a better idea.  That‘s what Al Gore talked about tonight.  That‘s what unites democrats, that are what is going to elect John Kerry and a democratic House, I might say.

JANSING:  Obviously the objective of these speakers is to energize the base.  You have a stake in that, 12 seats could turn and you become the first female speaker of the house.  What do you think the chances are? 

PELOSI:  Oh, I think it‘s very good.  First of all, we just won another election this week so it‘s down to 11 seats.  We have excellent candidates; we have a strong and clear message; we‘re mobilized at the grassroots level, and we‘re fighting in every district that we have an opportunity—about 40 districts.  With John Kerry at the top of the ticket the Kerry-Edwards ticket will help us and we will help them win the House; we‘ll win the Senate, and take back the White House for the American people.  Of that I‘m certain. 

JANSING:  Let me ask you quickly, you‘re known as an outspoken woman.  There has been a lot of controversy about Teresa Heinz Kerry telling a reporter to shove it.  What‘s your reaction?

PELOSI:  It‘s such a trivial matter.  Nobody made much of a fuss that the obscenity the vice president made on the floor of the Senate and I, quite frankly, I‘m more concerned about obscenities like misrepresenting to the American people the connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda.  Misrepresenting to the American people the cause of war and never finding the weapons of mass destruction.  Those are obscenities.  Not impatience with the press. 

JANSING:  Congressman Nancy Pelosi, a pleasure.  Thank you so much.

PELOSI:  Thank you.

JANSING:  Appreciate it.  We‘ll send it back to you. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Chris.  She‘s on the floor. 

(UNINTELLIGIBLE) our panel.  MSNBC Political Analyst Joe Trippi, who ran the Howard Dean campaign.  Ron Reagan; former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown; and “Newsweek‘s” Howard Fineman. 

The two big applause lines that grab me, gentlemen, and all respond to this.  One: “We burned our bridges are other leaders in the world” and the No. 2 one was, “This president is incapable of admitting a mistake.”  Are these poll tested questions—Joe Trippi?

JOE TRIPPI, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Yeah, I think they‘re resonating around the country.  You have this—the people believe this, that he‘s burned the bridges overseas and I think—the interesting thing I thought was he took on Nader in this speech. 

MATTHEWS:  Definitely, three or four times. 

TRIPPI:  Three or four times and almost more than he took on Bush.  It was—reminded people this was close, he lost it, he won the popular vote, then started going—and asked, don‘t throw—don‘t tell—let anybody talk you into about throwing your vote away. 

MATTHEWS:  Why was he the designated hitter to go after Nader?

TRIPPI:  Because I think he makes a point.

MATTHEWS:  He lost Florida.

TRIPPI:  He lost Florida the last time because of him, he‘s making that point and making sure that those people who voted for a third party think twice about doing it this time. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go to the second point, Ron.  Aren‘t you finding it fascinating that they think the one big—I talked to some pollsters today at NBC, the American people want a course correction, they wouldn‘t mind getting it from George Bush.  They would—might accept it from the democrats, but this president, they believe, will not change course or say so. 

RON REAGAN, RONALD REAGAN‘S SON:  Well, and that‘s what Al Gore brought up with not admitting mistakes.  I thought the two significant things that he did here, really harkened back to the last election.  One was that he picked the scab of a still festering wound.  A lot of really activist democrats are still angry about Florida.  They know that this guy won the popular vote, they know now that he actually won Florida, too.  And the other one was reminding them how George Bush ran for president, what he promised:  Compassionate conservatism, uniting not dividing, and asked them the question, did we get what we expected?  Did we get what he told us? 

MATTHEWS:  So, he made an appeal to republicans. 

REAGAN:  In a way, but of course, also just activating the democratic base. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re sure when you say that we now know that Al Gore carried Florida?  How do you know that? 

REAGAN:  Well, we had consortium of medium—media, let‘s—newspapers and the like who went back, well, no way... 

MATTHEWS:  Just trying to find a consensus on that in the country. 

REAGAN:  Well, maybe not, but they counted the votes, in every single scenario Al Gore won.  When you counted the state, his state one. 

MATTHEWS:  If Al Gore would have won the presidential election if he‘d asked for a full recount instead of being cute about it and asking for four counties. 

REAGAN:  That‘s true.  Well, but...

MATTHEWS:  And it must kill him to know that. 

Mayor Brown, strongest message you heard there from former... 

BROWN:  The strongest message I heard from him was that he is not bitter; that he, in fact, was very disappointed, but he‘s translated all of that into energy to oust George Bush and called upon everybody else to replicate him in their efforts. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s the happiest I‘ve seen that fellow in four years—

Howard.

FINEMAN:  Well, it‘s impossible to overstate how devastated he was, as you can imagine.  I remember the first year after 2000, when Al Gore finally emerged, he was wearing a big salt and peppery—he had a beard and he was dressed like Waylon Jennings, I mean, he‘d become the sort of outlaw former candidate and it‘s taken him all this time to come to terms with it.  He‘s still, relatively speaking for politics, a young man.  And his life in politics, in his own mind, I think, is probably not over.  I think if there is a Kerry-Edwards administration, Al Gore‘s want to—going to want to be in that orbit.

MATTHEWS:  I think his real message is:  Don‘t run for office, it hurts.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  We‘ll be back later with Joe Trippi, Ron Reagan, Willie Brown, and Howard Fineman.  We‘ll be back, of course, from Faneuil Hall in just a few minutes, when former President Jimmy Carter takes the stage at the Democratic Convention. 

But, right now, let‘s check in with Keith Olbermann at MSNBC Headquarters—Keith. 

(INTERRUPTED FOR SPECIAL EDITION OF COUNTDOWN)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Democratic Convention here on MSNBC.  We‘re live outside Faneuil Hall in Boston. 

And tonight, the Democrats are pulling out some of their biggest stars, as you‘ll see tonight.  Former Vice President Al Gore has already spoken.  Former President Jimmy Carter is just moments away to speak at the podium at the convention. 

And in the next hour, some big hitters, like we‘re all going to be waiting for tonight, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.  Now, she, of course, fought for a speaking opportunity at this convention.  She wasn‘t on the original agenda.  But her fans, Judith Hope, the chairman of the Democratic Party in New York, and others around the country demanded that Hillary speak tonight, be given a chance to address the convention.  And, of course, she won out again, as she often does.

Former President Bill Clinton, he is the big heavy hitter, the cleanup batter tonight at the podium.  Everybody wants to know what Bill Clinton has to say. 

We have got an all-star panel joining us tonight, but let‘s start with Howard Fineman, NBC News political analyst right now.

Howard?

FINEMAN:  Yes, sir. 

MATTHEWS:  Aren‘t you impressed at Al Gore‘s reception tonight? 

FINEMAN:  I think it was good.  I don‘t whether anybody can hear me.  can anybody hear me?

MATTHEWS:  Right now, I guess he doesn‘t have the mike on. 

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN:  Well, this might the best I‘ve been on the show, Chris. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me say that, since no one else is miked up yet, that Al Gore got a tremendous reception.  I‘ve never seen the guy, at least since the year 2000 -- in fact, including the campaign for president, I have not seen him so happy.  Of course, he was thrilled when he was talking about his wife, Tipper, who he obviously truly loves, if that‘s relevant to the politicians watching.  But, clearly, you have a happy marriage here. 

And also, I thought he was very sound in the way he both criticized the way the vote was counted last time, but didn‘t seem to be saying, feel sorry for me. 

FINEMAN:  No, he didn‘t. 

And I actually was surprised how surgical it was.  They want to make the case against George W. Bush, but they want to do it without seeming personal. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

FINEMAN:  And I thought Al Gore was a grownup, a big-time grownup tonight.  And he began laying the case. 

Bill Clinton is going to do the same thing.  It is going to be surgical.  It‘s going to be philosophical.  It is not going to be personal against George W. Bush.  That‘s one thing they‘re aiming for because there are some moderate Republicans and there are swing voters who don‘t like negative campaigning, No. 1, and who don‘t really totally to the direction of the country, but they want different leadership.  They want different leadership. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me talk about a couple things.  Were you surprised that the biggest applause line tonight was for something rather esoteric to most people.  I guess people who watch HARDBALL and watch MSNBC are up to date on it.

He said—the worst applause line—the biggest applause line was, he accused President Bush of—quote—“burning bridges with foreign leaders.”  Now, of course this country went through the—I just had some french fries.  Then we called them freedom fries.  And everybody was attacking the French and the Germans. 

FINEMAN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  It seems to me that at least the Democratic Party types, the activists, don‘t like that. 

FINEMAN:  They don‘t like the burning of the bridges? 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

FINEMAN:  They definitely don‘t like it. 

And this may sound like an esoteric matter of diplomacy.  To a surprising number of Americans, it‘s not.  The American people don‘t like the idea that we are not beloved in the world. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

FINEMAN:  Americans want...

MATTHEWS:  Well, I don‘t like it either.  Do you?  Are we allowed to say that?  I like to be liked. 

FINEMAN:  Yes.  I‘m not allowed to say anything personal.  You can say whatever you want.

MATTHEWS:  OK.

FINEMAN:  But I think that they are concerned about it.  And on a practical level, they don‘t want the burden in Iraq or anywhere else to be totally borne by Americans. 

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN:  And, interestingly, Chris, there are a lot of swing states, a lot of rural states where there are a disproportionate number of casualties from some of those places, rural men and women signing up. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, I‘ve been hearing all day from the pollsters and the political consultants that the country isn‘t—and this isn‘t a partisan assessment.  This is pretty broadly felt, that the country isn‘t quite happy with the way things are going. 

They say the famous NBC question from pollsters is, do you like the direction we‘re going in?  And it‘s down to about 36 percent happy with the direction.  So, without making a partisan assessment, people want some sort of adjustment. 

FINEMAN:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  I talked to somebody today who said George Bush could maybe win this election easily if he would simply do like what former Mayor of New York John Lindsay once said, suggesting he didn‘t do everything right.  Made a few mistakes the first term.  He‘s going to be different the second term and he‘ll walk back in, because people just want to hear that humility. 

FINEMAN:  As long as he doesn‘t do that, the Kerry campaign is going to cautiously pursue that angle of saying, look, this is a guy who is inflexible, who doesn‘t really understand the problems of the world because he came in with a set set of views.  And they will try to make a virtue out of Kerry‘s sophistication, insider status.  A lot of the advantages that Bush could have against Kerry, Bush gives up by not making the turn that you‘re talking about. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go to Andrea Mitchell, the chief political correspondent—actually, tonight, you‘re the chief political correspondent for NBC. 

You know what I‘m interested in?  And I‘ve never quite shared the obsession obviously with Florida.  But it seems to me a lot of people in the Democratic base have had that scar on them since four years ago.  They just will not get over it, friends of mine in journalism, intellectuals, people that aren‘t intellectuals.  They‘re rip about it.  Is that an important thing to unleash tonight, unleash tonight? 

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT:  It is. 

You know, they say, they was robbed.  That‘s the feeling of the party.  And that‘s what Al Gore was tapping into.  He did not, as you know, mention George W. Bush‘s name.  That was the artful way that he avoided appearing to attack the incumbent president.  But the message was very clear.  They feel that they really won fair and square and that it was taken away from them. 

MATTHEWS:  How does that help win an election, to complain so loudly at this point, four years later?

MITCHELL:  Well, it doesn‘t sound like whining to the people in the FleetCenter.  That‘s the difference.

It may appear to be where you‘re a sore loser to people around America, to the swing voters, but not to the people there.  And this was the one concession to the anger that still is felt by the rank-and-file. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go the people behind us here.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  How many think—how many people think that we had an honest count in the 2000 presidential election, an honest count of the votes?

(CHEERING)

MATTHEWS:  OK.  OK.

How many believe—now that we have a bipartisan crowd here tonight, how many believe that it was stolen from Al Gore?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)  

MATTHEWS:  Well, the crowd is

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN:  Nobody beats HARDBALL for scientific surveys. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s a scientific poll.  I understand.

Well, we have joining us now—we‘re going to have a wider poll of ourselves in a minute or two. 

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 between the 50-yard line. 

Will the 50-yard line be impressed if Al Gore gets up there and says, we was robbed, if Jimmy Carter comes up and there and dumps all over the current president?

MITCHELL:  No.

MATTHEWS:  If the Clintons come back with all their baggage, is that a big sale for the Democrats tonight? 

MITCHELL:  No, it isn‘t.  This is

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  For the 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

have got to get past this night and eagerly move on to the new agenda,

which is trying to

(CROSSTALK)

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

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”:  It‘s about time, isn‘t it?

(CROSSTALK)

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

SCARBOROUGH:  You know what?  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 when, of course, 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 why it is so important.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  The 26th of July.  Are they waking up now? 

SCARBOROUGH:  They‘re waking up now.  And 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 are not going to like what they see this week? 

SCARBOROUGH:  They will. 

FINEMAN:  Oh, they will.

(CROSSTALK)

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 is wrong with George Bush. 

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN:  No, they‘re talking about what is wrong with the Republican Party.

END   

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