updated 7/27/2004 10:13:48 AM ET 2004-07-27T14:13:48

Guest: Russell Simmons, Jon Stewart, Gray Davis, Willie Brown

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  We‘re back.  We‘re back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Patti LaBelle. 

MATTHEWS:  We‘re going to hear Patti LaBelle here.

But let‘s get some thoughts from our panel.  It seemed to me that was a pretty strong speech endorsing John Kerry as the captain of the ship.  Be not afraid. 

Howard Fineman.

HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT:  Be not afraid.  These are stormy waters, but we need a captain.  What John Kerry has needed is a metaphor for his life and what he‘s proposing to do for the country, steady captain.  That‘s what Bill Clinton did for him tonight.

MATTHEWS:  Captains courageous here. 

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT:  And talking about the fact that you can be strong and wise at the same time.  They‘re trying to create the dichotomy that George Bush has not been wise.  That is what Bill Clinton was saying.

And this also had that Southern Baptist preacher element of a Clinton speech. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Did he not? 

You come from Texas, sir, Mr. Mayor.  There was a lot of swinging baptistery in that. 

WILLIE BROWN (D), FORMER MAYOR OF SAN FRANCISCO:  Vintage Bill Clinton. 

It also says that John Kerry has decided to use that talent throughout this campaign.  That‘s not the only time that you‘re going to hear Bill Clinton swinging and swaying and doing what he does best. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Mr. Mayor, was that an audition for late October when he will be sent on a serious mission to South Florida, to Philadelphia and to Ohio and places like that? 

W. BROWN:  They better send him on that mission starting the day after the Republican Convention. 

MATTHEWS:  Really?

MITCHELL:  They can use him in Missouri.  They can use him in Arkansas and Tennessee, a lot of those states that Al Gore didn‘t win. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go beyond politics to method here.

Joe Scarborough, did you notice how he kept sizing up the proposition?  He kept saying, here‘s one proposition, here‘s another.  I‘m pushing this one.  A lot of that salesmanship there, a lot of hands.  Did you notice his hands?  He‘s putting forth a deal.  Very interesting sort of body language there.  I‘m going to sell you something, ladies and gentlemen.  I‘m on the Atlantic City boardwalk.  This will slice and dice.  This is Ed McMahon selling.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  There‘s a lot of that salesmanship.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  You know, and I‘m sure all of you would say that I‘m a very reasonable man, very down the middle.

But as an analysis, as somebody analyzing this stuff, but watching Bill Clinton, every time those hands went up and he started talking about tax cuts, every time he did, I just twitched, because every time he did it in State of the Union addresses, I would be laughing inside, going, nobody‘s really that stupid.  They‘re not going to buy what he‘s saying, tax cuts for the rich.  He‘s going to cut Medicare.  He‘s going to throw grandma out in the street. 

He‘s still doing the same thing as a multimillionaire.  And I‘m sitting here tonight saying, nobody‘s going to buy that.  Of course, he‘s begrudging people that make $300,000, $400,000 paying 35 percent, when you‘ve got somebody worth $500 million running for president who pays 18 percent taxes.  I said, nobody will believe that. 

But you know what?  With Bill Clinton, they always do. 

MITCHELL:  Yes. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  He talks about welfare reform.  He had the courage to support welfare reform at a very unpopular—sure, it was unpopular.  He vetoed it twice.  He hated welfare reform.  The third time, he signed it. 

Of course, the same thing with balanced budget.  This is the thing about Bill Clinton that drives Republicans crazy.  He takes our ideas, he embraces them, and then he beats us over the head with them.  And if John Kerry is smart, he will do the same exact thing on strength and on all these other issues. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go right now—excuse me.  We‘ll come back in a minute. 

Let‘s go right now to Brian Williams.  He‘s down on the floor.  And he joins us now—Brian Williams. 

BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC ANCHOR:  Here with David Alston, who this group heard from earlier, better known perhaps as John Kerry‘s swift boat gunner.

Well, Reverend, first of all, your reaction to President Clinton, his use of scripture, be not afraid. 

REV. DAVID ALSTON, KERRY CREW MATE IN VIETNAM:  Well, after—following the war in Vietnam, we learned not to be afraid. 

John Kerry was a very brave young man at that time and still is today, and we love him.  We‘re here today because of the decisive decisions that he made in combat.  He‘s a warrior.  And we would go back to war with him any day. 

WILLIAMS:  So that‘s what you would take away from how you got to know this kid from Massachusetts and how it applies to the job of president?

ALSTON:  Brian, I just can‘t say enough about John. 

John treated us five guys with the utmost respect.  We were young, all of us, at that time, very hazardous duty.  But he was a loving, caring young man.  And he always sought to bring us through the terrible things that we were facing.  And I believe today that John Kerry would make the greatest president the United States ever had. 

WILLIAMS:  Reverend, thank you very much for being with us.  It‘s a pleasure to meet you. 

ALSTON:  Thank you. 

WILLIAMS:  And, Chris, one last note.  From our vantage point here at the podium, the speech by Senator Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, was notable for the ad-lib portions, where she went off the script, especially about the 9/11 Commission being the handiwork of all those families of the victims.

Her biggest applause line here in the hall was something not at all on her preapproved script that we could all see on the teleprompter in front of her—Chris, back to you.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Brian Williams.

Let‘s go now to NBC‘s Campbell Brown, who is on the floor with Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack—Campbell.

CAMPBELL BROWN, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  That‘s right, Chris.

And I want to ask you, down here, standing near the Ohio delegation, your delegate just next to it, everyone was listening intently to every word Bill Clinton said.  What was your reaction to his speech? 

GOV. TOM VILSACK (D), IOWA:  Well, I‘ll tell you, I think Bill Clinton doesn‘t often have competition, but tonight he did.  Reverend Alston was quite a speaker. 

Bill Clinton‘s speech was right on target.  He made a very concise case about the Bush administration‘s failures.  But, more importantly, he pointed out how John Kerry and John Edwards would make the right choices.  This is a campaign ultimately about hope and fear.  The Democratic Party is focused on hope, better paying jobs, better health care, better environment, and a safer and more respected America. 

C. BROWN:  Your wife is speaking here at the convention tomorrow night.  And, as you know, a newspaper republished a column she had written quite some time ago where she questioned the ability to understand certain dialects around the country, including those of African-Americans.  What was your reaction to that? 

VILSACK:  Well, first of all, that‘s not exact what Christie wrote.  She was basically talking about her own language arts background and some of the concerns that she had about herself.  She was making fun of herself.  Taken out of context. 

But let me tell you what I feel.  Politics today is so personal.  Politics today ought to be about the problems of ordinary Americans.  We ought to be talking about health care and 42 million people that are uninsured.  We ought to be talking about 1.8 million jobs lost.  We ought to be talking about a cleaner environment, w.  Ought to be talking about how we can become more respected around the world. 

It is really a sad comment that Republicans have to focus on my wife and columns that she wrote 10 or 15 years ago and can‘t focus on a positive agenda that they have either put forward the last four years or that they propose the next four years. 

C. BROWN:  Now, that said, there‘s been a lot of focus on diversity at this convention, and you also apologized to Hispanic Caucus for the English-language law that is in your state.  Do you think the perception created by those two issues was part of the reason that you were not chosen as vice president by John Kerry? 

VILSACK:  John Kerry chose the right man for this job, John Edwards.  John Edwards‘ background, fighting for ordinary folks, is very consistent with John Kerry‘s vision for a brighter and better America. 

He chose a great, articulate spokesperson.  I have absolutely no qualms about that selection.  I told John Kerry I support it 1000 percent.  I was just privileged to be discussed or in the same category as a John Edwards and a Richard Gephardt.  It‘s an extraordinary privilege.  But I‘ll tell you, I‘m also privileged to be the governor of the great state of Iowa.  And we‘ve seen an expansion of access to health care.  We‘ve seen improvement in education.

We have seen focus on economic development.  That‘s what a real chief executive can do.  That‘s why John Kerry and John Edwards have to be elected, because America needs their leadership. 

C. BROWN:  Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, thank you for joining us. 

VILSACK:  You bet.

C. BROWN:  And, Chris, let‘s go back to you in the studio.

MATTHEWS:  Thanks, Campbell. 

Let‘s go back to a couple people.  Let‘s go to the panel. 

I want to keep the focus on the question—or reason people are watching tonight.  Probably most of the people watching tonight have decided for or against this ticket of the Democrats.  They won‘t change their minds.  But the ones who do change their minds, was there anything that grabbed anybody on the panel that thinks that they believe will move a mind or a heart tonight? 

Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘ll tell you, I was just telling you one thing that drove Republicans crazy about Bill Clinton, and maybe independents. 

Another thing, though, was the character issue.  A lot of people believe that, when push came to shove, Bill Clinton didn‘t show the greatest of character.  You saw Reverend Alston talk about John Kerry.  John Kerry, when it counted, when his life was on the line, he turned the boat to shore.  A lot of people don‘t get a chance like that to show what they‘re really made of. 

John Kerry turned the boat to shore in Vietnam toward enemy fire, shot at them, to save a crewmate.  You know what, just being really blunt here?  A lot of people probably don‘t think Bill Clinton would have done that.  Tonight, we‘re getting a glimpse of John Kerry as a guy that would lay it on the line. 

Now, I‘ll tell you what.  If somebody does that in their early 20s, they‘re going to do that in the White House when it‘s time to make tough decisions, not ideological decisions, but the type of decisions you make when the Twin Towers are falling, the type of decisions you make when presidents are paid the money that they‘re paid to make those decisions. 

That‘s the John Kerry America needs to be introduced to, because I‘ll guarantee you, watching the reverend talk about him, that moved me.  That made me think, you know what?  I would sleep well at night.  Even though I disagree with this guy probably on 90 percent of the issues that he‘d have out there, he‘s a guy that I could trust as president. 

FINEMAN:  That is as close to an endorsement from “SCARBOROUGH

COUNTRY”

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  No, it‘s deeper—it‘s actually.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  It‘s actually deeper than this man here, who stands with us.  It‘s about—it‘s what we call in literary terms a rite of passage.

Most of the great men in history, whether it‘s Churchill, it‘s Hemingway, it‘s Teddy Roosevelt, at a time when they were young showed physical courage.  And that was the basis of the rest of their lives.  We could look back and say, at one moment, they could do it. 

We‘ll talk more about that. 

Let‘s go right now to Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert. 

TOM BROKAW, NBC ANCHOR:  All right, thanks very much, Chris Matthews. 

We were listening earlier to the man, Tom Vilsack, who described himself as the great governor of the great state of Iowa. 

We‘re joined by Jon Stewart, who is the governor of the great state of disbelief.

JON STEWART, HOST, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  Yes.  Nice to see you. 

BROKAW:  Good—thank you very much.  But you don‘t actually need that, because...

STEWART:  I put it in too late.  I wanted to hear...

BROKAW:  I‘m right here. 

STEWART:  Oh, I wanted to hear the crazy things Scarborough was saying. 

(LAUGHTER)

BROKAW:  I missed the whole thing. 

STEWART:  Actually, he was praising John Kerry for his courage and Reverend Alston‘s tribute to John Kerry and who he was.  And he said he would sleep better knowing that John Kerry, someone who showed that kind of courage at an early age, was in the White House, even though he disagreed with 90 percent of what John Kerry said. 

STEWART:  That‘s interesting, Because I was always under the impression that “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY” was right next to Crazyvania.  So I‘m excited that they‘re slowly changing the language spoken in “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.”  That‘s very exciting.

This was a great night.  I really enjoyed it.  The theme was the Kerry-Edwards plan for the future.  And all they left out were Kerry, Edwards and the plan. 

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART:  But other than that, there were a lot of great speakers. 

BROKAW:  Bill Clinton knows how to give a speech. 

STEWART:  Man, that was something.  How about that wisdom and strength are not mutually exclusive?  I thought that was a great line. 

BROKAW:  Is it a thought for John Kerry to just give his speech to Bill Clinton on Thursday night and say, why don‘t you go give it for me? 

STEWART:  Listen, he‘s—I think, you know, if he doesn‘t rise to the occasion, he doesn‘t deserve to be president. 

But the interesting thing to me is, with all the challenges that face the country today, whether it be terrorism or the economy or that, the real question is, are the Democratic wives loose cannons?  I think that‘s really the thing that we should all be talking about. 

BROKAW:  Well, we had a chance to talk with Teresa Heinz Kerry earlier tonight.  And she said that reporter mischaracterized what she had said.  He came back to her and said, what were you talking about un-American activities?

STEWART:  Right. 

BROKAW:  And she said certain un-American traits, which is civil discourse in American politics. 

STEWART:  Absolutely. 

But it is—I think we should focus a lot of time on the wife race, because, as you remember, we nearly lost World War II when Eleanor Roosevelt told the reporter from “The Hartford Times Courant” to sit on it.  So, these are issues that we really should be talking about.  And Teresa Heinz Kerry, for what it‘s worth, yesterday I saw kill a hobo with her bare hands. 

BROKAW:  Now, when you‘re down here on the fort, a lot of people come up and ask your opinion. 

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART:  You‘re going to let me go with that?  You‘re just going to let me say Teresa Heinz Kerry killed a hobo with her bare hands? 

BROKAW:  Yes.  Yes.  Right.  Yes. 

STEWART:  You‘ve been here for how many hours straight?  Nobody should sit like this unless they‘re raising money for a disease.  How long have you been here? 

BROKAW:  Or getting counseling.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART:  That‘s true. 

Russert, he didn‘t even bring his menu thing with him to write on. 

BROKAW:  The board. 

STEWART:  The board.  Where‘s the board?  You just going to do it on post-its this year?

TIM RUSSERT, NBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF:  Now, as you know, all these speeches tonight were vetted.  Al Gore had to rip up his speech and write a new one. 

STEWART:  You‘re kidding. 

RUSSERT:  In order to modulate his tone.  Will you put...

STEWART:  That does not sound like something that would happen at a political convention. 

RUSSERT:  Will you put the unplugged Al Gore original version on your program? 

STEWART:  No, I absolutely won‘t.  That‘s not the program we‘re running.

BROKAW:  What was the joke that he had to leave out?  Al Gore had to leave out a joke. 

RUSSERT:  Al Gore has told all his friends that the Bush plan on terrorism is like a drunk who lost his keys.  And he‘s looking all over the place and he says, what‘s wrong?  He says, I lost my keys.  He says, where did you lose them?  He says, over there.  He said, then why are you looking here?  He said, because that‘s where the light is.  And he said, and that‘s what the war on terrorism in Iraq...

STEWART:  Really? 

RUSSERT:  Oh, yes.  Yes. 

STEWART:  I don‘t think they cut that because it was the wrong tone. 

I just think—Al, that‘s not really very funny.  I think you should just lost that.

How do you think Al Gore will love it the day when he can open a speech without a recount joke?  How much is that just an albatross around that man‘s neck? 

(CROSSTALK)

STEWART:  He‘s going to 80 years old.  He‘s going to come up—how about Carter, by the way?

BROKAW:  Right. 

(CROSSTALK)

STEWART:  Who thought he would be the velvet hammer tonight? 

BROKAW:  Right. 

STEWART:  Carter comes out with—that—he sounded like my grandfather a little bit.  He came out swinging. 

RUSSERT:  Our soul is at stake.  Jimmy Carter said that. 

STEWART:  Yes. 

And I‘ll tell you something.  Carter, for all the houses that he built

·         and everybody talks about what a great guy and he builds a lot of houses

·         nobody ever talks about all the houses he knocks down. 

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART:  Because he‘s out there. 

BROKAW:  Knocking them down so he can build them up. 

STEWART:  Knocking them down.  And then acting like he just came upon the scene and building another one. 

BROKAW:  When you were talk about Al Gore and can he ever get to that day when he cannot open a speech...

STEWART:  Right. 

BROKAW:  There was a time when Fritz Mondale went to George McGovern after having his own landslide loss and said, how long does it take to get over it?  And McGovern looked at him and said, what do you mean get over it? 

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART:  It‘s never going to happen.

BROKAW:  It never goes away. 

STEWART:  Yes.  No.

I imagine that it puts him in a very difficult position.  And it takes a certain amount of grace to even come into the arena again and give a speech and do what you have to do.  But this was really very polished.  It‘s almost as if it‘s being produced by someone who produced the Emmys. 

It had that kind of...

BROKAW:  It might have been Don Mischer, who does produce the Emmys. 

STEWART:  You‘re kidding. 

BROKAW:  And maybe he had chosen you at one point to be the host of the Emmys.

STEWART:  I would have loved to have done it.  I couldn‘t do it.  I have a baby.  I can‘t—I‘ve got to spend time. 

BROKAW:  What works better for you, Democrats or Republicans? 

STEWART:  Neither. 

The theater—that works best for us is the theater, is sort of the absurdity of the stage managing and the craft.  But, to be perfectly fair, there‘s nothing wrong with turning this into one of those herbal life conventions.  There is a certain feeling, towards the end of the night, where, as they start to whip up the crowd, you expect the speaker to say, and how much would you spend for a president like that, $100?  Because, no, my friends, Kerry is only $50. 

It is—you know, there‘s a certain sense of, I‘ve got this tonic here and it‘s going to cure your liver spots, and, as well it should be, because they‘re selling to the crowd. 

BROKAW:  There‘s no secret about the fact that you‘ve brought a lot of young people to your program and to the idea of politics as a subject, and whether they‘re just looking at because they can get a laugh out of it.

But I also happen to believe that they‘re more engaged in it in part because of you and the way that you‘re dealing with it. 

STEWART:  That‘s very kind of you to say. 

You know, we don‘t have any idea.  The beauty of what we do is that we‘re completely isolated.  Our studio is over on the West Side of Manhattan.  We don‘t have colleagues.  We barely go to dinner.

BROKAW:  Cheapo studio, by the way.

STEWART:  It‘s a very el cheapo studio.  You have been over there.  You have embraced us.  You saw that our green room included bite-sized Musketeer bars.

But, you know, if they are getting engaged with our program, it‘s not, I don‘t think, purely for the humor.  It‘s for what they believe to be the underlying foundation of the show, which is, don‘t look at the acting, look at the script and see what‘s the context and what‘s the content. 

BROKAW:  Well, they are more engaged, I think, this year than they

have been in the past presidential

(CROSSTALK)  

STEWART:  Well, I think, right now, they‘re worried about being drafted.  And I think at any point—I mean, I‘ve always said this.  You want to get young people involved in politics, reintroduce the draft, and, man, you‘ll see voting rights skyrocket. 

BROKAW:  Jon Stewart, thanks for being with us.

(CROSSTALK)

STEWART:  Thank you very much.  I very much enjoyed it.  And thanks for telling me to wear a tie. 

(LAUGHTER)

BROKAW:  Back to you, Chris. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Tom and Tim. 

Let me get back to Howard.  It seems like we all agree Jon Stewart is great, by the way.  It‘s a safe position to take for this guy.  He‘s quite dangerous if he‘s after you. 

Let me ask...

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  You‘re laughing, Howard. 

MITCHELL:  But he is very

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN:  Watching him being interviewed by those guys was amusing in and of itself. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  What was Gandhi‘s statement?  First, they ignore you.  Then they laugh at you.

FINEMAN:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  Then they attack you. 

FINEMAN:  And then they lionize you.

MATTHEWS:  And then you win. 

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN:  Then they invite you on the program.

MATTHEWS:  Jon Stewart is the future of our whole world here.

FINEMAN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you.

Joe, you‘ve been great tonight. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  And I—we‘re talking about something very powerful tonight, the role that a military experience in your life, when you can show courage, when you can have grace under pressure, like Hemingway said, is so much a part of our tradition.  Roosevelt had it, Franklin Roosevelt.  He had the equivalent with it with dealing with polio. 

Teddy Roosevelt, San Juan Hill.  George Washington won the American Revolution.  Jack Kennedy, PT-109. 

MITCHELL:  Dwight Eisenhower.

MATTHEWS:  I‘m seeing an—I know this is an old argument.  I‘m seeing an attempt tonight to confect, fairly or not, the conditions of 1960, when Richard Nixon was the ultimate cold warrior and John Kennedy beat him at his own game. 

He said, I‘m going to bring down the Cuban revolution.  I‘m going to go further than you.  I‘m going to build more missiles than you. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I‘m going to beat you at your game.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Isn‘t that what Kerry is trying to do, say, all right, George W. Bush, you‘re a great fighter of terrorism; I‘ll be a better one? 

MITCHELL:  It‘s PT-109.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MITCHELL:  It‘s—you know, what Bill Clinton said tonight in trying to validate John Kerry for this audience, for the American audience, was, there was a time in Vietnam when I didn‘t go, George Bush didn‘t go, Dick Cheney didn‘t go.  This man did.  And he became a warrior. 

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN:  Have you seen the cartoon on the Internet, JibJab, where they have...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

FINEMAN:  Well, every time that Kerry gets in a bind on that thing, he says, I‘ve got three Purple Hearts. 

MATTHEWS:  But you know what? 

FINEMAN:  That‘s because it works.

MATTHEWS:  I still think it‘s the trump card. 

FINEMAN:  Well, of course.  That‘s the whole reason he was nominated.  If you were out in Iowa, as I was last fall and during the winter, when it came right down to it, what was the reason to nominate John Kerry?  He‘s the guy who can win in this war situation. 

MATTHEWS:  Mayor Brown, can you imagine Jack Kennedy having beaten Richard Nixon, even though it was a narrow election, in 1960 if he hadn‘t been a war hero? 

W. BROWN:  Absolutely.  I think that...

MATTHEWS:  He could have won without that?

W. BROWN:  He won was so superior.

MATTHEWS:  He won by 100,000 votes with being a war hero.  You mean he

won by

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s not even talk about Cook County.  Absolutely.

W. BROWN:  But wait a minute.  I don‘t think the war hero was in fact the deciding factor. 

(CROSSTALK)

W. BROWN:  I think the American people looked at Kennedy...

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.

W. BROWN:  ... heard Kennedy and decided they wanted to go in a

different direction.  Nixon really never inspires confidence.  You know

that.  And Kennedy did.  The fact that he could demonstrate he had done

something that represented confidence, like PT, was OK.  But that was not

the deciding

(CROSSTALK)  

MATTHEWS:  He brought back his shipmates, just like this guy.  He had Red Fay with him all the time.  There was Ed Guffman (ph) walking around “The L.A. Times” with his PT-109 tie clip.  Everybody had those things. 

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  ... other than a dilettante, other than a rich guy‘s—a rich man‘s son. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  He was one of the boys fighting the war. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s turn the tables for a second here. 

Richard Nixon, not an extraordinarily likable guy, as you said.  Nobody would say he was, and yet, in 1960, almost elected president.  In 1968, 1972 -- wins in a landslide in ‘72.  People went out, reached for him because they were in troubled times. 

I think, actually—and, of course, John Kerry is never going to use the Richard Nixon model.  But if people feel they are in tumultuous times, if they feel like things are dangerous, you know what?  They may go for the guy that turns the ship towards shore in times of trouble.  Maybe John Kerry is not the most likable guy.  But just like Richard Nixon in ‘68, just like Richard Nixon ‘72, in times of trouble, they wanted the steady hand at the wheel. 

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN:  Kerry‘s theory—Kerry‘s theory is really pretty simple. 

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN:  That, in 2000, the American people voted for president not knowing we were going to be in the midst of a new global war situation. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

FINEMAN:  Now it‘s 2004.  Get a guy with experience in war.  That‘s basically what they‘re saying.  It‘s not rocket science.  That‘s what they‘re saying.  That‘s why he was nominated.  And that‘s going to be...

MATTHEWS:  And that‘s why it didn‘t hurt Bill Clinton when he ran, because there was no war.

FINEMAN:  There was no war going on.

SCARBOROUGH:  The Cold War was over.

MITCHELL:  The theme, we heard it tonight.

MATTHEWS:  Andrea.

MITCHELL:  The theme is, a serious man for a serious job in a serious time.  That‘s the refrain you‘re going to hear. 

MATTHEWS:  A boring man for an exciting time? 

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN:  Well, that, too, that, too.

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  That‘s the spin.

MATTHEWS:  I want to ask you about predictions.  We‘re here punditizing, which I do for a living. 

I want to say, who would have believed eight years ago, Mr. Mayor, eight years ago, when this president, Bill Clinton, was running for reelection, that, eight years later, he would have had his wife elected senator, United States senator from New York, that he would have been impeached, I mean, impeached, and come back as the most popular member of his political party? 

I have to tell you, times move on quickly in this country. 

W. BROWN:  The public has an interesting way in which they treat those of us who seek and hold public office.  They really are forgiving. 

They really do look to the positive qualities that we present, rather than those negative things that might be character flaws, as Joe would say.  They don‘t stay with you.  In this case, Clinton is the ideal example of that transformation. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But for John Kerry...

MATTHEWS:  Then the Marc Antony speech in Shakespeare, in “Romeo and”

·         in “Julius Caesar” isn‘t true.  The good that men do does live on. 

That‘s what you‘re saying.

(CROSSTALK)

W. BROWN:  ... heard in their bones.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s very important, though, for John Kerry in this campaign to have people talking about the great things he did, instead of talking about how horrible George W. Bush is. 

They‘ve tried that.  The Democrats have tried that.  People‘s eyes glaze over.  They don‘t care about the National Guard.  They don‘t care about any of that.  They want to know why they need to vote for John Kerry, and tonight I think they made some progress on that. 

W. BROWN:  Joe, unless it‘s presented the way in which President Clinton presented it tonight.  He literally took Bush on, on every flaw that Bush has, each one of them. 

MATTHEWS:  Every policy. 

W. BROWN:  Absolutely.   

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Policy is fine.

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  But it wasn‘t personal.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  But here‘s Chris Jansing on the floor now with former California Governor Gray Davis—Chris.

CHRIS JANSING, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Thanks very much, Chris.

I want to bring the former governor into this discussion, which you couldn‘t hear. 

But here‘s the question a lot of people have.  They want to be so positive here.  But does John Kerry have to take on George Bush if he‘s going to show the American people he can be the strong alternative? 

GRAY DAVIS (D), FORMER CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR:  I think John Kerry has to show that he will make America strong.

And, certainly, being under fire in Vietnam, rescuing his crew members and winning medals for bravery shows strength in difficult times.  He understands the importance of being strong because of the potential for terrorist attacks in the future.  And he knows the importance of being respected by our allies, so they‘ll share intelligence and cooperate with us to make America safe. 

JANSING:  But does he have to really go point by point over the differences between him and George Bush? 

DAVIS:  I think this is more a coming-out party for John Kerry, to make Americans feel more comfortable, more committed to John Kerry. 

JANSING:  Are you surprised, given the dwindling popularity ratings for President Bush, that John Kerry hasn‘t been stronger, that there are still 11 battleground states where it‘s a statistical dead heat? 

DAVIS:  I‘m surprised that given the fact that most Americans don‘t know as much as they will about John Kerry, that he‘s doing so well.  He‘s at least ahead, if not—at least tied, if not ahead.  And no challenger coming out of his convention leading an incumbent president has ever lost. 

So I think John Kerry will convince America he will keep us strong.  He has the courage and the guts and the fortitude to do it.  And I know they understand he will work night and day to improve their economic opportunities. 

JANSING:  You‘re a veteran.  President Clinton today focused on his service.  Send me.  In fact, the former president said, I didn‘t go, but John Kerry did.  Is that something that they need to push more, that they need to have resonate with the American people? 

DAVIS:  Well, for those people old enough to remember the Vietnam War, that was a very contentious war.  It divided America.  Very few people volunteered.  And the fact that John Kerry, coming from privilege, volunteered, not once, but twice, to put himself in harm‘s way, that says a lot about someone.  And I think America needs to know that. 

JANSING:  There‘s tremendous amounts of money, record amounts of money

·         $1 billion dollars may be spent on this presidential campaign.  And some Republicans tell me they think, they play their cards right, they‘re going to make it competitive in California.  What do you think about that?  

DAVIS:  We‘re go to have a little bet on that.  We have to do our homework.  No one can take any vote for granted.

But if we do our work, John Kerry will carry California, and I think he‘ll win by seven, eight, nine points. 

JANSING:  One of the things I heard—and this place was rocking tonight for former President Clinton—and I overheard several people saying it‘s too bad he can‘t run again.  What about your political future, Governor? 

DAVIS:  I have no plans.  I did 30 years.  I‘m grateful for every moment.  The people have asked me to move on.  And I‘m moving on, enjoying life and just being an ardent supporter for John Kerry. 

JANSING:  Former California Governor Gray Davis, thanks so much for being with us and sticking around.  We appreciate it—Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Thanks, Chris Jansing. 

That would be an interesting race, by the way, Clinton against Bush.

When we come back, getting out the youth vote.  We‘re going to talk to Russell Simmons, rap mogul and host of the Hip-Hop Summit going on here—right here in Boston.  Right now, he‘s out behind me.  And we‘re going to talk to our great audience.  They‘ve been waiting all night here at Faneuil Hall.  We‘re bringing in the people.  We‘re going to the people.

You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Democratic Convention on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to our live coverage of the Democratic Convention, where I‘m too close to the crowd here in Boston.

Joining us right now is Russell Simmons.  He‘s the founder of Def Jam Records.  And, most importantly—and this is for everybody in the country, not just hip-hop fans—he‘s the host of the Hip-Hop Summit right here today, the Hip-Hop Network.

What are you up to?

RUSSELL SIMMONS, HIP-HOP SUMMIT ACTION NETWORK:  Well, the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network has had 24 events all over the country so far, and registering voters.  Beyonce hosted her summit, along with Master P and Puffy and others in Houston.  Will Smith did Philadelphia.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Where he‘s from, of course.

SIMMONS:  That‘s correct.

Snoop Dogg did L.A.  Nelly is doing Saint Louis.  Eminem has done Detroit twice.  So we‘re here today.  We had 8,000 kids.  We had Lloyd Banks, who—I don‘t know if you know—he‘s the No. 1 artist in the country.  And we had Wyclef Jean and others.

And we talk about empowerment. And we register voters, hundreds of thousands of voters all over the country.  And it‘s about taking personal responsibility.  And young people have really come to this message.  And the artists, hip-hop artists, whether it‘s Eminem or 50 Cent or any of the people who are participating, they come out of poverty. 

All of them come from struggle.  And their message is one of empowerment.  And I think that they‘re all going to vote.  It‘s going to be a dramatic turnout and they‘re going to have a lot to do with this next election. 

MATTHEWS:  What‘s the feeling left over among young people?  Is there one about how the vote was counted last time, especially in Florida?

SIMMONS:  Well, you know, we‘re looking to the future.  And, of course, you know, a great number of these supporters of hip-hop are African-American. 

But 80 percent of them are not.  The important thing is that the hip-hop community, as I say, they come from struggle, whether it‘s Eminem or 50 Cent.  They are concerned with the war I think on poverty and ignorance.  That‘s the war that they really want to fight.  And I think that this next election, there will be a dramatic turnout.  They will have a lot to—they will be—whoever is in office will be accountable to them.  And I‘m excited.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you my favorite question.  So what?  A kid gets out and votes.  He‘s 18 years old.  He‘s never voted.  Or he‘s 25, he never voted before.  He goes and votes.  So what?  What does it change? 

SIMMONS:  Well, the fact that is that each person, the most American thing you can do is vote.  And it‘s part of a process to empower yourself, to feel like you‘re part of community. 

And what‘s the difference?  Well, they said it didn‘t matter last

time.  I believe maybe we wouldn‘t have gone to war.  All the poor people

that they represent, the voices of all those

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

(CROSSTALK)

SIMMONS:  ... people.  You know, this hip-hop community is a voice that, it has been locked out.  But, of course, they must know best what America is lacking, because they‘re the ones in struggle. 

I got the tax break, not them, you know? 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

SIMMONS:  I got a tremendous tax break.  And I just think that they‘re going to have—they‘re much more creative, compassionate.  They have vision, where a lot of the older people are kind of hard-headed and rigid.  And so I‘m excited about young people taking control. 

MATTHEWS:  In a related matter, did you see “Fahrenheit 9/11”? 

SIMMONS:  I did see it. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you think it will do to voting strength?  Will people get out and vote because of that movie or not, $100 million?

SIMMONS:  I can‘t even imagine why people would suggest that it doesn‘t. 

I had four kids in my office, and they were talking about going to see the movie.  And two of them weren‘t really into it and one didn‘t care.  And then one said, we‘ve got to go.  And they all went.  The next day, they were all out there registering other voters.  They were very excited after they saw the movie and they were inspired.  And they say all these people who are not sophisticated see it and what do they know? 

Well, some of these basic ideas that come out of the movie will scare you to death and send you to the polls, send you to pay attention.  People are afraid.  I think we need to be open-minded.  Our relationship with the world, you know, we need to have a better relationship with the world. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

SIMMONS:  And I think they‘re afraid when they see these kind of things and they see these kind of—not threats, so much as when they see these kind of attacks on our current administration, they want to make changes, maybe. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you a question that I think gets to a lot of kids, because a lot of kids think about right now, today.  Everybody lives for the weekend, Friday night, Saturday night.  How do you think they feel, because there are lot of them watching them now.  They‘re up late.  It‘s the summer.  How do you feel after you vote? 

SIMMONS:  Well, you feel empowered.  It‘s like taking part in the process, you know? 

It‘s like I said.  People wake up in the morning.  Some wake up thinking what they can get.  It‘s a disgusting feeling by the end of the day, because you don‘t get anything by feeling that way.  When you wake up thinking what you can give, the day goes better, you know?  You find that‘s what makes you happy. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

SIMMONS:  And voting is part of that process.  It‘s an empowering thing to do, you know?  Just, it makes you feel—like, I always say this to kids who come out of struggle, when you get pulled over by the police and you don‘t have a voter‘s registration, it‘s like, oh, he don‘t know nobody. 

Now you have a voter‘s registration, maybe he does.  Maybe he is part of something.  Maybe he has people that support him, you know?  And that‘s really what we want.  We want to be community.  We want to work together.  And I think young people need to learn that feeling.  And so that‘s why it‘s so important that we—I mean, again, did I tell that you Eminem and Will Smith...

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

SIMMONS:  And Lloyd Banks and Wyclef Jean and Beyonce and Jay-Z and Puffy.

Think about Puffy.  He is more well liked and respected across the world, certainly by young people, than maybe a George Bush is. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Amen!

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

SIMMONS:  Even, for that matter, for that matter, Jay-Z is more well liked and trusted and respected than probably John Kerry. 

(CROSSTALK)

SIMMONS:  They are well liked and respected.  And when they say go vote, kids are going to vote. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, you‘re a legend, one of the legends in American society.  Let me ask you something from your—from your heights, really.  Is hip-hop a lot of anger?  What is the message of hip-hop?  Is there one? 

A lot of emotion is involved.

(CROSSTALK)

SIMMONS:  ... message coming out of hip-hop.

But I like to say it‘s God‘s soundtrack. 

MATTHEWS:  God‘s soundtrack.

SIMMONS:  Yes. 

Some of what these people say about frustration and anger comes out. 

Some of that is true.  But it‘s the voice of a voiceless people, you know?  And a lot of times, those people‘s voices, you may interpret it as anger, but many people who understand the language interpret it as inspiring or as hope, people coming out of struggle who want to make it, you know?  You may think the curse words are bad, but the cursed ideas I see at 6:00 on the news are bad. 

MATTHEWS:  I know.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Why do young kids who haven‘t had it too tough love it? 

SIMMONS:  Because it‘s got a lot of integrity.  It‘s honest, an honest expression.  These are poets who feel—the reason that the rappers are doing what they‘re doing, they all—no one has turned us down when we ask them for our support, is because the rappers are so connected.  They know what the people are asking from them. 

The people want them to go out and register voters, want them to go out and inspire people.  You know, in the ‘60s, there was a big influence from music and culture...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

SIMMONS:  ... that had to do with the direction of this country.  That time is coming back.  And hip-hop is in the forefront of supporting these efforts to empower our communities. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me talk to you about—I want your views, not mine or anybody else‘s, just yours, Mr. Simmons. 

Let me ask you, right before the election in 2002, before the congressional elections, which I guess you want people to vote in, too, Bill Clinton—rather, Hillary Clinton was able to vote on the Senate floor.  John Kerry voted.  John Edwards voted.  The ticket, basically, voted.  And they were asked to give the president basically a blank check to decide whether to go to war or not.  They put it in his hands.  Was that a vote you‘re happy about? 

SIMMONS:  No.  I think they made a mistake.  And I think it‘s obvious they made a mistake.  And the whole world knows. 

And it‘s kind of arrogant for us to think that the whole world is wrong and we‘re right. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

SIMMONS:  The fact is that—the fact is, that‘s—you know what that could do for the war on poverty and ignorance?

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

SIMMONS:  Instead, we‘re blowing it on hundreds of billions of dollars that the tab is going to be.  Can you imagine what that would do for education?  The idea of America having equal high-quality education, what would that mean? 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  The reason I—the reason I think I question about how John Kerry voted and John Edwards voted and Hillary Clinton voted, all big speakers against the president of the United States, one of the messages tonight is, the president should admit when he makes a mistake.  I heard it tonight.

MATTHEWS:  And a lot of people...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  A lot of people buy that.  If you make a mistake in public life, you ought to say, I made a mistake. 

Why don‘t these Democrats, like Edwards and Kerry and Mrs. Clinton,

Senator Clinton, say they shouldn‘t have given a blank check to the

president?  Why don‘t you ask your own people, your leaders

(CROSSTALK)    

SIMMONS:  I‘m not—don‘t say leaders.

MATTHEWS:  The candidates.

SIMMONS:  First of all, my effort to register voters is a nonpartisan effort.  I want whoever is in office to respect young people and kids with greater vision than the old people who have already messed things up. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Do you think, as a citizen of the United States, that people who make mistakes in high office should admit it? 

SIMMONS:  They should be held accountable, absolutely. 

And I think they should be held accountable for allowing the president to make that terrible mistake on our behalf.  They‘ve used fear and anger to fuel their choices, to have people agree with their choices.  They‘ve scared the American public into chasing us down this road.

MATTHEWS:  OK.

SIMMONS:  Instead of love, which is the most basic and simple idea to govern this country and to give out to the world.  Export something that we want back, which is love. 

MATTHEWS:  When you vote this year, without telling me who you‘re going to vote for, unless you want to, what‘s going to be the picture in your mind of what this election is about? 

SIMMONS:  Well, the election is about a fair chance for all Americans.

And it‘s about—you know, only poor people are at war.  There‘s no congressman‘s son at war.  There‘s no senator.  There‘s no Bush out on the front line.  John Kerry‘s family is not on the front line either.  I‘m just making a point that all of us who are in struggle are being used.  That‘s my opinion. 

And I think that, you know, we have to pick the best available when we go to the polls.  We can‘t say, no one represents every idea in my head.  We have to say, there are some who are closer to the way we think, and we can try to hold them accountable and push them to respect people who are—again, this country should be the most compassionate and giving country in the world. 

We have all of the resources.  We have the greatest country.  We have all the freedom that we—some of the freedom that we‘re losing. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

SIMMONS:  We have to just stand up and be as good as those great documents that are written about us. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you think the effect of an election of the opposition, of Kerry and Edwards, this year will do to the morale of the troops who are fighting over there in Afghanistan and fighting in Iraq?  Will they feel like they‘ve been let down by their country?  What will they feel?

SIMMONS:  No, those troops—those troops, they went to fight for our country.  And they would like for our country to be honest with them and give them the best opportunity and protect them when necessary. 

And if we made a mistake, you know, then to bring them home or to make the best efforts to protect them while they‘re there.  We just can‘t run home, most likely.  It probably would be a mistake.  We have put there—we have bombed a lot of innocent people.  That‘s why I tell young people to vote.  Think about the fact that these people are out there with your money.  I gave away, I think, $10 million in bonuses this year. 

And it was the beginning of the year I gave it away.  And everybody gave up 50 percent before they could blink.  They didn‘t get their money.  They got half their money.  I‘m still holding my money until January or until April.  And I‘m paying capital gains tax.  I get this tremendous tax break.  These people gave away 50 percent of their money.  And they need to hold the government accountable where they‘re spending it. 

If they‘re spending it bombing innocent people, then all of our karma

is involved.  So if we don‘t vote, then we‘re giving them a free

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK.

I‘m going to let this fellow behind me express himself. 

Who was talking? 

You.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, I was talking. 

I was just thanking Mr. Simmons for his opinion and just thank him for the Hip-Hop Summit, because it‘s very informative. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I registered to vote and I‘ve registered a lot of my friends to vote.  And we‘re going to continue to go on with the American dream. 

MATTHEWS:  What does this say, “Run Against Bush”?  Are you guys partisan or what? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No, we‘re not partisan. 

MATTHEWS:  It says, “Run Against Bush.”  What are you talking about?

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Give me a break.  I can read the thing.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We help 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Right.  And we‘re supposed to believe it.  We‘re supposed to believe what you‘re saying.  This sign says run against Bush. 

(CROSSTALK)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  OK.

OK, let me ask you, are there any—are there any Republicans in the audience here? 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  Come up, buddy.  Come on. 

(BOOING)

MATTHEWS:  What did you think of that message from Mr. Simmons? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think he‘s right.  I think that you have to hold people accountable for what they do.

And I think people have to take—but I think that Kerry also doesn‘t hold himself accountable and he sits there and he says that he did this and he did that, and he flip-flops.  And it‘s true.  He voted for $87 million, says he doesn‘t vote for $87 million.  At least Bush sticks—even if he makes a mistake, he sticks by what he says.  He doesn‘t change his opinion and he doesn‘t do anything.

(BOOING)

MATTHEWS:  That‘s pretty good.

Let go over here.  Let‘s go down here. 

Let‘s go to—what do you think, sir?  What do you think of this fellow and his message? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, I think, basically, that I just cannot understand why anyone would consider voting for the current administration.  I think, basically, we‘ve all had a rough time in this country.  And I think that, basically, we need a new administration, new leadership. 

MATTHEWS:  Does it bother you that younger people generally need to be pushed now, because they don‘t regularly vote like us? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, we do.  We vote.

(CROSSTALK)

SIMMONS:  Well, I think that this time is going to be different.  I think the numbers are going to surprise everyone.  I think that young people today are fed up as well.  And I think that, essentially, Kerry is going to carry the young voters today. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you from Holy Cross? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I am, sir. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You went to my college.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This fellow went to my alma mater. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... went to my college.  We‘ll get the picture later.

Are you 18-to-24?  How old are you? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘m 33. 

MATTHEWS:  God, I thought you were a tot.  I thought you were 18.

Anybody here 18-to-24? 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  Come on.  Come on.  Come on.  Come on.  Come on.  Come on. 

Come on.  Come on. 

Do you want to give a message to this guy here? 

(CROSSTALK)

SIMMONS:  What do you have to say? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I have to say that I am proud to vote.  I would be really angry with anybody my age who wasn‘t voting. 

MATTHEWS:  How old are you now? 

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m 20 years old. 

MATTHEWS:  So you‘ve voted once.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is my first presidential election. 

MATTHEWS:  Who are you voting for? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Kerry all the way. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  Kerry all the way.

Anybody voting for Bush who‘s under 24? 

(LAUGHTER)

SIMMONS:  You‘re voting for Bush?  Let me hear why. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  No.  Oh, I‘m not voting for Bush. 

SIMMONS:  Oh, I‘m sorry. 

Are you voting for Bush? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  No way!

MATTHEWS:  I want some Bushies up here.  Any Bushies?

Come here.  Come here.  Come here.  Come here.  Come here.  Come here. 

Come here.  Here‘s a Bush guy. 

You‘re surrounded, but it‘s a free country. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That‘s right. 

MATTHEWS:  Even in downtown Boston. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you this. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, sir.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think his message is right that everybody should vote or you want to keep it exclusive?  Or how do you want it?  Do you want everybody...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Everybody should be able to vote, absolutely. 

MATTHEWS:  Everybody should be able—do you think it‘s a good message to get—that—your age group out to vote? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m 44.  We always vote, hopefully.

MATTHEWS:  Oh, geez.  I thought you were 24. 

Come here.  Come here.  Come here.  Come here, sir.  Come here.  Come here.  Come here.   

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘d like to say one thing.  I‘d like to get Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan and all the black people out here to come out and vote, you know what I‘m saying, because it‘s very important for us black people out here to vote.  You know what I‘m saying?   

MATTHEWS:  You‘re a voter yourself, sir? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, I am a voter.               

MATTHEWS:  OK.You‘re a voter?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.  I‘m voting for Bush.  I‘m voting to get him out of office. 

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, I‘m 18-to-24.  Get him out of office.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  OK.

More with Russell Simmons, much more with the audience when we come back. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s late at night, but the campaign goes on. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Democratic Convention on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to Faneuil Hall in Boston. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  At the top of the hour, by the way, Joe Scarborough and Ron Reagan—here‘s a happy duo—are going to take over with our live coverage.  I love what we‘re going to call our coverage tonight.  And it starts at midnight.  It sounds like something you‘d get at a movie theater or in a hotel room, “After Hours.” 

I just love that.  All the best moments, by the way.  They‘re going to go through it all and chew it apart and get some great phone calls tonight.  That‘s a special feature starting for the first time here after 12:00. 

By the way, I‘m here with NBC‘s Andrea Mitchell, who knows everything.  Former—boy, this guy is a politician—former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  “Newsweek”‘s Howard Fineman.  It‘s quite a group. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  Anyway—by the way, we‘ve got some San Francisco weather tonight in Boston. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I want to ask everybody here tonight, did you all watch the speeches? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  OK.

I want to give you a scaler.  On a scale of one to 10, Hillary Clinton‘s speech tonight.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  On a scale of one to 10, Jimmy Carter. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  Big Bill. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  If big Bill Clinton ran against the president, George W.

Bush, who would win? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Clinton. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  George. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  George.

MATTHEWS:  Well, why doesn‘t he do it? 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Why not? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The Constitution.  What are you going to do? 

MATTHEWS:  What about the Constitution?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, he‘s not allowed to serve more than two terms. 

MATTHEWS:  He‘s not? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No. 

MATTHEWS:  Is that why he‘s not running? 

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  I‘m just teasing. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hey.

MATTHEWS:  I‘m just teasing. 

How many people here are not registered to vote and promise to do it because of Russell Simmons? 

Oh, no.  You‘re not going to vote at all? 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Are you going to vote?  Anyway, are you going to register to vote? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, but not because of Russell. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, but you will vote.

Who here is not going to vote and is proud of it?  OK.  Who is not voting?  You‘re all voting?  Anybody under 18? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m voting for you, Chris!

MATTHEWS:  I‘ll take it.  I‘ll take it.  I‘m not on the ballot. 

Let me ask you, what‘s the biggest issue in the campaign?  I‘ll give you three options. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Pro-choice.  War.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Iraq.

MATTHEWS:  The war in Iraq is No. 1.  The second issue is jobs and wages.  The third issue is cultural values.  What‘s the No. 1 issue? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The war. 

(CROSSTALK)  

MATTHEWS:  The war.

OK, let me get everybody‘s thoughts.

Does that surprise you, Andrea? 

MITCHELL:  Not at all. 

MATTHEWS:  The No. 1 issue is war.  Mayor, Mr. Mayor? 

MITCHELL:  War is the issue.

W. BROWN:  War, war, war. 

MATTHEWS:  Howard Fineman, as a student of

(CROSSTALK)  

FINEMAN:  After the first night of this convention, that‘s what the people in the convention hall are saying. 

MATTHEWS:  And what was the key line they said about President...

FINEMAN:  The key line was

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  About Senator Kerry.  What was the best pitch for Kerry tonight? 

FINEMAN:  Wisdom and strength are not opposing values.  That‘s what Bill Clinton said.  That was the line of the night.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  And what the role they set up for Kerry tonight, the role he will play in American life if he wins?

W. BROWN:  He assumes the responsibility to steer this ship. 

MATTHEWS:  The captain of the ship.  Is that going to be the message of the week? 

MITCHELL:  A serious man for serious times for a serious job. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Oh, God.

Does everybody like the ring of that?  Does that work for everybody here? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  A leading officer of the Pennsylvania government, almost

governor of Pennsylvania, Robert

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... last time.

(APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS:  And, most importantly, the Holy Cross guy here. 

Let me ask you, is this election going to be close or is it going to be a landslide in one or the other directions? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Close.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Landslide for Kerry. 

MATTHEWS:  Why do you think it‘s going to be close? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  They—it‘s going to be tough.  Kerry is—he‘s doing an excellent job.  But Bush is the incumbent, so he‘s going to be tough to unseat.  But he‘s messing it up bad enough. 

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t think it‘s going to be close.  I think it‘s going to be a landslide in either election. 

What do you think?UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Who are you going to vote for? 

MATTHEWS:  I‘ll let you know, if you see me privately in about two months. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, I want to thank everybody tonight.  It‘s great.

Willie Brown, the great mayor of San Francisco for so many years and the speaker of the House in California, an even bigger job, Howard Fineman, my partner all the time, Andrea Mitchell, the best reporter we got at NBC.

Joe Scarborough is taking over our coverage, alongside with Ronald Reagan.  “After Hours,” it‘s coming up. 

(CROSSTALK)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  We‘ll see you tomorrow night here at Faneuil Hall.  More coming tomorrow night.

END   

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