updated 7/29/2004 9:42:57 AM ET 2004-07-29T13:42:57

Guest: Chuck Todd, Kelly McMahon, A.J. Starling, Charles Rangel, John Breaux, Jack Sullivan, Howard Dean

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN F. KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I am honored to join you in this endeavor as a candidate for president of the United States.

I am pleased to announce that with your help, the next vice president of the United States of America will be Senator John Edwards from North Carolina.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Live from historic Faneuil Hall in Boston, MSNBC‘s coverage of the third night of the Democratic National Convention.

Tonight, military might on display as the Kerry campaign marches his band of brothers to the convention floor.  And in his first-ever nationally televised speech, Senator John Edwards shows his stuff to the country.  Does he have the weight to take on Dick Cheney, the vice president, in debate and on election day?

Plus, we‘ve got the convention covered with a diverse guest list:

anti-war candidate, former governor of Vermont, Howard Dean; Virginia Governor Mark Warner; former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; former presidential candidate, the Reverend Al Sharpton; an actor, Rob Reiner.  Plus, live reports from Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert of NBC News and our correspondents, all on the floor and in the field.

First, to our political panel: Ron Reagan, Dee Dee Myers, editor on chief of “The Political Hotline” Chuck Todd, and, in Washington, Patrick Buchanan who‘s waiting to speak.  Let‘s go first to Pat.

Pat, what did you think of last night‘s show by the Democratic Party?

PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Well, I thought it was a good show by the Democrats, quite frankly.  Obama did a good job.  I think Mrs.  Kerry—I found her very impressive.  They took Mr. Dean and Mr. Kennedy out of any kind of prime-time, and those are the most strident and strong anti-war voices.

But this convention, Chris, has a serious problem.  They‘re running a sham and something of a fraud.  Look what happened today in Iraq, over a hundred dead, and we‘ve got a convention which is studiously ignoring what the next president will do.  Will he send in more troops and win this thing, or will he pull out?  And nobody has gotten up and spoken to this convention‘s convictions, which is it was a mistake and a blunder, we were misrepresented, and we ought to get out.

Nobody has gotten up and stood up and held forth that argument, which half the country believes and 90 percent of this convention believes.

MATTHEWS:  What did you make of Osama—not Osama, but what did you make of Barack Obama?

BUCHANAN:  You know, he‘s very articulate and the media is falling all over him, but Obama went and gave sort of a centrist speech, you know, it‘s the United States, we‘re not just liberal-conservative, red and blue.  He made a centrist speech.

He is hiding what he truly believes.  What does Obama believe about this war?

MATTHEWS:  Right.

BUCHANAN:  He‘s running for the United States Senate.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you this.  If you were a political nonpartisan person, which asset would you like to have your on your side—the opportunity in America reflected by the historic wonderful career so far of Barack Obama who spoke last night for the Democratic Party or the fear of terrorism personified by Osama bin Laden.  Would you rather have Obama or Osama as your key symbol of the campaign?

BUCHANAN:  Well, look...

MATTHEWS:  I still think the Republicans have the edge with Osama and fear.

BUCHANAN:  Well, look, what—Osama, with due respect, is reality, Chris.  Obama last night was pleasant.   He‘s a very articulate young man.  It says something good about America that this young man, African-American, can run for the Senate and maybe win big-time.

Reality is 100 dead in Iraq today and the war on terror and will John Kerry—look, what John Kerry‘s problem is, Chris—he is misleading this convention.  Either he‘s going to send in troops to win this thing, in which case he will tear his party apart, or he‘s going to pull out in which case Iraq could go down.  Now we ought to debate this this fall and not simply, you know, Ms. Teresa Heinz Kerry‘s comments.

MATTHEWS:  All right.  Let‘s go around the horn here.

Ron Reagan, why don‘t the Democrats, since all the statistics show they‘re against the war—they think it was a blunder.  They think it was a mistake.  Why don‘t they start say so from the podium and stop hedging their bet?

RON REAGAN, HARDBALL SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT:  Well, I think they‘ve got a problem.  I think John Kerry and John Edwards supported the war, at least officially.

MATTHEWS:  Especially Edwards.

REAGAN:  Especially Edwards.  Barack Obama, as I understand it, did not, but I think somebody prevailed upon him to sort of hide that feeling here.

I think this is a mistake.  I think the country is growing more and more disillusioned with his incursion into Iraq, and I think that Edwards and Kerry, frankly, have made a mistake not standing up and just saying we made a mistake, we were wrong, we were mislead.

MATTHEWS:  Hillary Clinton said at lunchtime today in an on-the-record speech that the reason they don‘t go as an anti-war team is because the persuadable voters in the middle are ambiguous on the war.  In other words, they believe that the people that they might pick up to get the 50 percent are not anti-war.  In other words, she admits today a complete partisan political calculation by the Democrats not to show their true colors.

Dee Dee Myers?

DEE DEE MYERS, MSNBC DEMOCRATIC ANALYST:  Well, I mean, I disagree a little bit with the context here.  I think...

MATTHEWS:  The context?

MYERS:  The context being that there‘s been no discussion of this, the party platform, which, you know, is indefinitive, but says people of good will can disagree about whether or not we should have gone to war.

We‘re there now.  So I think to revisit the debate about whether or not we should have gone to war in the context of the campaign right now doesn‘t make sense.

The question is: What are you going to do going forward? John Kerry‘s made it very clear he‘s not bringing home the troops right away.  He believes we‘re there and we‘re going to stay and we‘re going to win it, and he‘s called for expanding the military by 40,000 troops.

MATTHEWS:  If this campaign is not about the conduct of this administration in peace and war, what is it about?

MYERS:  Well, of course—well, I‘m just saying it doesn‘t mean—we‘re not going to go back and have a debate on the floor of the convention about whether or not we should have gone to war.

MATTHEWS:  Why not?

MYERS:  Because we‘re there and John Kerry has made it clear...

MATTHEWS:  What would be lost by an honest up-and-down debate on whether this war was a good idea or not?

MYERS:  Well, I mean, I—that debate‘s been happening all over the country.  I don‘t think it‘s...

MATTHEWS:  Well, why are the Democrats taking a buy on it?

MYERS:  They‘re not taking a buy on it.  It‘s just not happening on the floor of the...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... platform.

MYERS:  But it‘s not happening on the floor of the convention.  This campaign is about the future.  Elections are about the future.  Where are we going to go from here?

MATTHEWS:  That sounds like flackery.

MYERS:  It‘s not flackery.

MATTHEWS:  The convention document says people of good will can disagree.  Well, sure.  That‘s why we have elections.  The people who think it‘s a good idea to go to war should win the election if that‘s what the majority think.

MYERS:  I think...

MATTHEWS:  The people who don‘t like the war should win, if the people decide that going to war was a blunder.

MYERS:  Well, if people think we shouldn‘t stay and that they don‘t like John Kerry‘s position on the war, they should not vote for him or something.  But he believes that we have to stay and win, and I agree with him.

MATTHEWS:  So why has this become a hedge—I think Pat‘s right.  I think the Democrats have really skirted the issue, the frontal question of U.S. foreign policy in the last four years.

CHUCK TODD, EDITOR IN CHIEF, “THE HOTLINE”:  Because you can‘t have—it‘s too late, we‘re there, and if you took a poll of people about whether they believe whether we‘re going to have to—whether we should stay in Iraq and fix it, whether they were for the war or not, a large majority of people would say we have to stay, we have to fix it because it would be worse if we left.  So there‘s nothing you can do about it.

MATTHEWS:  I think it‘s...

TODD:  You can‘t have...

MATTHEWS:  ... a question of whether there aren‘t key people in this administration that would like now to go to Iran, go to Syria, and they have other countries on their mind.  Unless you have a judgment now about whether it was right to go into Iraq, when are you going go to judge that foreign policy?

TODD:  Well, look, they—John Kerry has said that this wasn‘t—this wasn‘t the way he would have gone to way.  Now, you know, he won‘t say that he would have voted against it, which I think is probably politically a good idea, though it sounds funny when you see other people now, a lot more Democratic members of Congress saying, oh, I—had I known now what I knew then, I wouldn‘t have voted for it, but...

MATTHEWS:  I‘d just like to see some clarity in the debate.

Let‘s go to Campbell Brown.  She‘s on the floor.

Campbell?

CAMPBELL BROWN, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Chris, I‘m with Kelly McMahon who‘s from the Wisconsin delegation, a 25-year-old kindergarten teacher from Milwaukee.

And I wanted to ask you—I know you are originally an Edwards delegate.  Was it something that appealed to you about Edwards, or was there something that didn‘t appeal to you about John Kerry?

KELLY MCMAHON, WISCONSIN DELEGATE:  It was something that appealed to me about John Edwards.  John Edwards had a very positive and optimistic message throughout the entire campaign, and his speech about two Americas really hit me right where it counts in my soul because I teach in an inner-city school.  When he described the difference of the affluent schools and the schools that have not, I—that‘s exactly what I see every day in the class room.

BROWN:  But you also had some concerns when Edwards was chosen as his vice presidential pick that he would overshadow Kerry, correct?

MCMAHON:  Correct, I did, but I was wrong.  He does an excellent job.  The two of them do an excellent job of complementing each other, and it seems that, you know, John Kerry has become a little bit looser on the campaign trail, he‘s laughing, telling jokes, and the two are just doing an absolutely fantastic job.  They‘re keeping the positive and optimistic message, which is what inspired me to get involved and volunteer.

BROWN:  I know education is obviously important to you as a kindergarten teacher.  But what other issue are you most wanting to hear them outline their plans on?  Is it national security?  Is it the war in Iraq?

MCMAHON:  It‘s actually neither one.  Education is my top concern, and my second concern is health care.  I teach at a school district where over 25,000 students do not have health care, we have 7,000 students that are homeless, and it‘s is wrong in our country where we have so much money.  It shouldn‘t be happening.  So health care is my number two issue.

BROWN:  Kelly McMahon, thank you so much.

Let‘s go back to your Chris.

MATTHEWS:  OK, Campbell.

Let‘s go right now to NBC‘s Carl Quintanilla.  He also joins us from the floor—Carl?

CARL QUINTANILLA, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  It‘s turning out to be a tribute to the factions and unions and states that helped Kerry early on.  We just got done watching a tribute to the firefighters‘ union, which was one of the first to endorse Kerry and largely credited with legitimizing him on the union front.  A.J. Starling is the political director for the Tennessee AFL-CIO.

You were originally an Edwards delegate.  What does he need to do tonight and not just to reach the people in the room, but outside who are watching television?

A.J. STARLING, TENNESSEE AFL-CIO:  Actually, President Kerry—I‘m going to say President Kerry now—just needs to be himself, just needs to relate to the individual person out there, and let them know there‘s hope, there‘s going to be hope.  After November 2, we‘re going to elect a new president.

QUINTANILLA:  And how about Edwards tonight?  He‘s obviously the key speech.  What needs to happen for him to break through the camera?

STARLING:  Actually, Edwards doesn‘t need to do anything either but to be himself.  He‘s a great individual.  We‘re so proud to be nominating him as the vice president of the United States.

QUINTANILLA:  A.J. Starling, obviously, one of many people waiting for that big speech tonight—Chris?

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Carl Quintanilla.

Let‘s go right now to Telemundo‘s Lori Montenegro who‘s also on the floor.  She joins us now—Lori?

LORI MONTENEGRO, TELEMUNDO:  Hi, Chris.  You‘ve asked me to talk about the Hispanics here at the convention.

I must say they‘re all very happy to be here.  They say they‘re having a good time.

However, there is some controversy.  Some of them would like to have seen many more Hispanics speaking in prime-time.  So far, we‘ve only seen two.

We know that the president of National Council of La Raza has spoken here to Democratic leaders.  They have made noise about it.  And we know that Congressman Loretta Sanchez has said she can‘t believe that she didn‘t see a Latino woman speaking during prime-time.  Apparently, they have heard those complaints and say that we should see some more Hispanics during prime-time today or tomorrow.

We also spoke a little while ago to Bill Richardson.  The Democrats are very conscious that they cannot lose the Hispanic vote.  He said that if the Republicans can accomplish their goal of reaching 40 percent of the Hispanic vote, they have a possibility of losing that election.  That‘s why they want too make sure that the Hispanics leave this convention pumped up, ready to go, ready to take out the message that John Kerry is the man for the Hispanic community.

They are targeting Hispanics in five states where they say they feel confident that they can increase the number of Hispanics.  Some of those states are battleground states like Florida and Arizona.  So, all in all, the Democrats are very conscientious of the Hispanic vote.  They know they have their work cut out for them because that vote is up for grabs.

And, finally today, a surprise.  Teresa Heinz Kerry shows up at the Latino Caucus.  And guess what?  She openly goes after the Cuban-American vote, saying that she can understand their passion for their country and what happened regarding Communism there, saying that her family lost it all and that she can understand their pain.  So she‘s also reaching out to Cuban-American community.  They‘re just not leaving any stone unturned—

Chris?

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much.

Lori Montenegro of Telemundo.

Let‘s go back to our panel.

Those five states, by the way—I heard the briefing today by New Jersey Congressman Bob Menendez who‘s a Cuban-American.  Five states the Democrats hope to pick up, according to him: Arizona, which was close last time; New Mexico, which they want to hold; clearly, they want Nevada;

Colorado, which is the most interesting one; and Florida.  I will contend that Florida is probably a hard one to get.

Chuck, do you agree?

TODD:  I think they‘ve put a ton of money in Florida, through, you know, the Act 527, America‘s coming together.  They have thrown after Ohio the second most amount of money in Florida.

MATTHEWS:  You‘re talking about the Kerry people?

TODD:  I‘m talking—what‘s that?  No, I‘m talking about the 527s that have thrown a bunch of money.  They are...

MATTHEWS:  Those are independents?

TODD:  ... picking up the independents.  You know, I think Florida—look, it‘s going to be as close as it was last time.  There‘s no reason to think that it‘s not.

MATTHEWS:  Do the Democrats need Florida?

TODD:  They need Florida or Ohio.  They have to do one of the two.

MATTHEWS:  Ohio‘s an easier reach.

TODD:  I think Florida‘s an easier reach.

MATTHEWS:  Really?

TODD:  I disagree with you.  Absolutely.  I think Florida‘s the better reach for them.  Ohio with the cultural conservatism and the southern part of the state—it‘s a much tougher state.  The war‘s not as unpopular as people think.

MATTHEWS:  Well, we‘ll see tonight whether John Edwards can pick up that Southern Baptist element.  I shouldn‘t say element.  It sounds bad.  That southern element.  That Southern Baptist community in Ohio.

Anyway, coming up, U.S. Congressman Charles Rangel of New York on what‘s at stake in this election.  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Faneuil Hall after this.  You‘re watching HARDBALL live (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Boston at MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to Faneuil Hall.

Joining now me now is U.S. Congressman from New York Charles Rangel who just addressed the delegates.

You know, Congressman Rangel—remember that building, 1960, John Kennedy, the night before the election.  You remember that?  He spoke from there.

REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK:  This is an historic site.  This is where the revolution began, and God knows, come November, this is where we regain our country.

(CHEERS)

MATTHEWS:  You‘ve been through some close ones.  In fact, you‘ve been counting on getting back the House for about six elections in a row now.  Do you have a special nose for this one?

RANGEL:  I think there‘s a sea wave out there.  I think that for so long people wanted so badly to believe the president knew what he was doing when he took us into this terrible war, and I think it‘s very difficult top walk away from an incumbent president and a commander in chief.

But, as the facts have come out and we see the Wolfowitzes and the reports from 9/11, I think more and more the people lost confidence not only in the president, but, as in the case of Watergate, with the Republican Party.  And so I do see for the first time a sea wave of people saying it‘s time for a change.

I think we take back the House, I think we take back the Senate, and, according to the polls and the way things are going, we‘ll have a new president.

MATTHEWS:  Well, it‘s tough to beat the commander in chief, as you said.

Let me ask you about this: As a New Yorker who has powerful memories of 9/11 and the Friday after 9/11 when the president went down there and spoke from the rubble and he said those who—you know, remember he said I can hear you and those who knocked down these walls will hear from all of us.  These buildings.

How do you replicate that at a convention?  How do you show a candidate like John Kerry, a former junior officer, to be a commander in chief the way that President Bush has already shown himself to be?

RANGEL:          Well, one thing, you don‘t get into a make-believe uniform and attempt to fly in on an aircraft carrier...

(CHEERS)

RANGEL:  ... and you don‘t act like you know anything about combat or the military.  Another thing is...

MATTHEWS:  You were in Korea, right, sir?

RANGEL:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  Talk about what your combat experience is because that is a big theme in the last couple of days in this convention.  You were in Korea as an infantryman?

RANGEL:  I was an infantryman.  We were surrounded by the Chinese.  I got shot.  I don‘t think that it‘s necessary to be in the military or to be in combat to be a national leader or to be president, but when the president says that he is a war president and he has not served this nation, then I think he‘s made that an issue.

MATTHEWS:  I‘ve never heard you—I‘ve known you a long time, Mr.  Rangel.  You‘ve never told me about your war story.  Just tell me about your experience was in combat.  I‘m fascinated.

RANGEL:  Don‘t be fascinated because those of us that have been in combat can only think about those people who we left behind.  It‘s a hard story to tell when you‘re surrounded.

I‘d rather talk about the jaws of hell that this president‘s got us in where nobody can be trained to fight.  We don‘t know what the enemy looks in.  We don‘t know what country he‘s from.  We don‘t know what flag he flies.

And for us to train young people who joined the military, because of lack of job opportunity, to go over there with no plan at all, and when the secretary of defense says he doesn‘t know whether we‘re winning or losing, he doesn‘t know whether we‘re creating more terrorists than we‘re killing, it‘s time to get new leadership.

MATTHEWS:  Why...

(CHEERS)

MATTHEWS:  This they may be the most unquestioned question of this campaign.  I‘d love to hear somebody give the answer.  If we shouldn‘t have gone to war, why did we?

RANGEL:  Well, I think...

MATTHEWS:  Why did we—why did the...

RANGEL:  Well, first of all...

MATTHEWS:  ... Congress vote for war?

RANGEL:  Well, first of all, you know that Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Kristol, Cheney—they had met long before Bush was elected to decide that they wanted to take out Saddam Hussein.

MATTHEWS:  Well, how did they get control of a presidency, those people?

RANGEL:  They got control...

MATTHEWS:  President Bush didn‘t plan to go, did he?

RANGEL:  ... as soon as we had—well, of course!  Bush signed off on the papers that they had written, and they knew that the American people was not prepared to take a unilateral attack against a country that they wanted to take out.  Maybe it was peace in the Middle East.  Maybe it was oil.  Maybe it was family relations.

The fact is that America wasn‘t ready to do it until 9/11, and I‘m telling you that you can‘t find any American who didn‘t want to believe that the president knew what he was doing when he took out Saddam Hussein and did not know that Saddam Hussein was either directly or indirectly responsible for that tragedy that...

MATTHEWS:  How come we don‘t hear your presidential candidate speaking like you are now?  He...

RANGEL:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  He waffles.  He hedges.  I never hear him say we should not have gone to war with Iraq.  I never hear it.

RANGEL:  Well, I‘ll tell you one thing I think those of us who are concerned about how we got involved in this war doesn‘t really serve this nation as well as those of us who are talking about how the hell we get out of this war.

MATTHEWS:  How long would you say we should stay in Iraq?

RANGEL:  First of all...

MATTHEWS:  We just—a hundred more people killed today.

RANGEL:  First of all, we got a big job in terms of regaining our credibility as a nation.  I have had more problems in fighting for justice in this country with civil rights and voting rights, but, when I got overseas, I was just a proud American.  I could see people that were knocking us that wanted to be a part of us.

Today, what we have to do is to get back our credibility and to convince other people that terrorism is not just the United States‘ problem.  It‘s an international problem.  And I think that we need new leadership and we need John Kerry in order to do it.

MATTHEWS:  How many people agree with what they just heard?

(CHEERS)

MATTHEWS:  How many disagree?  How many disagree?

Why do you disagree, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I disagree.  I‘m a 20-year military man, and I‘ve been three tours during Desert Storm.  I totally support President Bush here today.

RANGEL:  Listen, those that serve the country—I served.  My son the Marine served.  When that flag goes up, that‘s what you‘re supposed to do, salute the flack flag and not doubt it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Absolutely.  Absolutely.

RANGEL:  But those of us in the Congress, we don‘t deal with commanders in chief.  We deal with presidents and they have a responsibility that when we put you in harm‘s way that we know that our nation is in danger.

(APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS:  Why—sir, why do you think this is a necessary war?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This was a necessary war because of the violence that was going on over there and we needed to support the people that was there in that country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  And the women.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The United States is a free country, and we should learn to foster that all over the world.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask one question.  Do you believe that Saddam Hussein had anything to do with 9/11?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, I do.  In an indirect way, not a direct way. 

In an indirect way.

RANGEL:  If I thought that Saddam Hussein had anything to do with 9/11, I would be with you 100 percent.  That‘s the only difference.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s ask the crowd a question of fact.  How many people—

I guess you all read the papers, right?  How many have found any evidence that Saddam Hussein, the former president of Iraq, was involved with the attack on us on 9/11?  How many believe he was involved?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  None at all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Nobody else.

MATTHEWS:  Nobody else?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Nobody else.

MATTHEWS:  An unusually one-sided crowd tonight.  Congratulations on your nerve, sir.  You‘re—as Jack Kennedy would say, you are a profile in courage to stand out here.  Thank you very much.

Let me ask you this about this election.  Do you think that the Democrats can find 270 electoral votes?  That means they‘ve got to go south.  They‘ve got to get some border states—Ohio, Missouri, West Virginia.  Can they go down there and pluck some of those red states?

RANGEL:  If we don‘t know it, we can‘t win, and we have to do it with morality because we know what stolen elections are all.  We have to make certain that we can get them counting more than they‘re stealing.  I don‘t go along with consultants in saying that we have to just deal with 10 or 15 states.

I want a campaign around this country.  I want Kerry to have not an electoral college victory, but a campaign and a mandate to say it‘s all America, Republicans and Democrats, that want to change the leadership—or lack of leadership.

MATTHEWS:  Do you have any confidence that the Democratic Party of John Edwards and John Kerry will have enough poll watchers and lawyers down in Florida and states like that where they can make sure it‘s all on the up—and-up?

RANGEL:  You know, after this convention, the last thing in the world that I would want to be, is a believing Republican.  I don‘t think we need professionals to watch.  I don‘t think we need partisans.  I think Americans will be watching to make certain that no one tries to steal this, that is why I‘m glad to be here when the revolution started.  I think this is one of the most emotional and important elections we‘ve had in the history of our country.

MATTHEWS:  You saw—Congressman Rangel, you‘re a man of Manhattan, and you know—you were right there—the island that was hit so badly.  We lost 3,000 people from Manhattan.  Do you think—and from the boroughs of New York.

Do you think that we might face a terrible predicament?  Suppose in late October, al Qaeda manages to pull off another horror against us.  Do you think the American people would tend to just vote for incumbent as a sign of solidarity.  An election would sort of be nullified in a sense?

RANGEL:  I don‘t know, but tragedies like that I don‘t feel very comfortable in speculating as to what would happen.  Most all Americans—when we were struck the first time—you know that we‘re perceived in the Congress in New York as having more self esteem than we really need to get by, and I don‘t remember the Congress ever embracing us.

But, after 9/11, the emotional outcry and support that we got from the Congress, that the president and the nation got it from all over the world, and we now find that the people that did that are still not found.  There‘s no looking for Osama bin Laden, and I don‘t want to believe that if, we‘re hit again, we believe that this president should give us any confidence that he‘s prepared to look at the people who are responsible.

Even as we talk, Vice President Cheney is saying that there is a connection between Saddam Hussein and the war, and dedicated people like him who join up because the executive says that‘s it—we‘ve lost 1,000 men and women.  We‘ve got tens of thousands of innocent people that‘s been killed, 6,000 men and women wounded and maimed because they believed the president knows what he‘s doing.

MATTHEWS:  Why do you think the president and the vice president—especially the vice president—continue to state quite clearly and openly that they believe there was Saddam Hussein connection to the attack on New York?

RANGEL:  I really believe they decided that if they could get any type of popular support to have a preemptive strike and to take out Saddam Hussein—his dad wanted him to do it.  I think Clinton wanted it to happen.  I think a lot of people wanted Saddam Hussein out, but they knew America is not geared up to take someone out unless they‘re a direct threat to the United States.

MATTHEWS:  All right.

RANGEL:  9/11 comes.  I think they made up their mind then.  Everybody that reported the president‘s actions said that the president kept asking, “Is this all the information you have?  Don‘t you have more information?”

And when they hold him it was a slam dunk, it was preconceived that they weren‘t going to Afghanistan, they weren‘t going after Osama bin Laden, they wanted this guy out.

So, in answer to your original question, once the president lost credibility on 9/11, God forbid, if we‘re hit again, why should we have any confidence that he‘s going to do the right thing?

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you very much.  Congressman Rangel, thank you, sir.  Thank you.

When we come back, we‘ll have—John Edwards will be speaking tonight, of course before the convention later tonight and the country, a huge night for John Edwards.

When we return, Senator John Breaux of Louisiana will be with us from the convention floor.

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS:  And finally, the feeling here that I‘ve had in the hall, that you could go up to a delegate, most of them at any rate, hit them in the face with a cream pie, set their suit afire, cut off their credit, make threats on their children, and they‘d look at you and say, “I may not like it, but in the interest of the party unity, I‘m not going to say anything. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  After losing two straight elections, the Democratic Party went out of its way to present a united front in 1976, and when November came, the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) paid off.  With a margin of just 57 electoral votes, the Democrats reclaimed the White House. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s Senator John Edwards, a little bit of Rocky music should be playing right now.  He‘s out on a jog here in Boston within the last half-hour.  That‘s very recent footage of the vice presidential nominee getting ready to take on Dick Cheney tonight.  And of course, that‘s the big question tonight.  We‘re going to ask everybody here.

First of all we are going to go to the floor, NBC‘s Campbell Brown is right down on the floor right now with Senator John Breaux of Louisiana—

Campbell. 

CAMPBELL BROWN, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Be realistic, don‘t spin me, what chance does this ticket have any Louisiana? 

How committed are they? 

SEN. JOHN BREAUX (D), LOUISIANA:  I think there‘s a great chance in Louisiana but also in the south.  I think the addition of John Edwards to the ticket, a southern, speaks to the values of the south.  He can talk to rural farmers.  He can speak to people who have struggling to do to have a better life.  And that‘s a good balanced ticket, he‘s going to do well in Louisiana, I think other southern states as well. 

BROWN:  Honestly, John Edwards could have had a tough reelection fight even in North Carolina.  And if you look at how he did against John Kerry in Louisiana in the primaries, he got creamed. 

BREAUX:  Yes but it‘s a balance now.  You combine the best of John Kerry with the best of John Edwards, you‘ve got a balanced ticket geographically, you have in John Edwards a candidate who can speak to the future with a great deal of enthusiasm.  When he speaks people smile.  They want to believe in him and it‘s added a great deal to the ticket.

BROWN:  So, what is the southern strategy? 

I mean, Republicans seem to think that they have still got it locked up. 

BREAUX:  Well, Campbell, look around this whole convention it‘s very, very united.  A stronger America both globally and at home.  That‘s something that sells in the south and sells In Louisiana.  We believe in a strong economy here.  We also believe in a strong America around the world.  People are very concerned about the direction of the country and they want a change.  And I think this ticket represents that change.

BROWN:  Does the emphasis on values play well there? 

Is that part of the reason we‘re hearing a lot about that at this (UNINTELLIGIBLE)? 

BREAUX:  Yes, absolutely.  I mean, people believe in values.  Values is having a good job.  Values is have good decent health care.  Values is not running up a federal deficit.  Those are Democratic values that I think is going to sell very well for this ticket through out the country, and it‘s also very doable in the south as well. 

BROWN:  What do you think about having Georgia Senator Zell Miller, a Democrat speaking at the government GOP Convention. 

BREAUX:  Well, it‘s disappointing, of course, but we had Ronald Reagan.  I mean, my God, you can‘t get anymore of a Republicans who says look these values that the Democrats believe in are values that Republicans who are moderate, maybe middle of the road Republicans can also support. 

So, I think it‘s kind of an offset. 

BROWN:  What, in terms of the specifics, what kind of commitment have you seen from this ticket from the campaign in terms of spending money, on advertising in Louisiana. 

BREAUX:  Well, they have.  I mean, we have had television, we have had appearances.  John Kerry has been in Louisiana a number of times.  John Edwards will be there next week.  They have a lot invested, financially, in terms of a personal commitment for time.  And when people get to know the ticket, I think it‘s going to do well.  They know the president right now but don‘t know John Kerry and John Edwards.  That can and will be corrected.

BROWN:  And we should let everybody know, you‘re going to second the nomination for John Edwards here tomorrow night, correct? 

BREAUX:  Well, I‘m pleased to do it.  We were able to do, last time for John Lieberman, but this we are going to do it and hopefully it works out even better.

BROWN:  With Senator Johnny Breaux, good to see you.  Let‘s head back to you, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Campbell Brown, with Senator John Breaux of Louisiana. 

Let‘s go back with your panel right now.  Ron Reagan, Dee Dee Myers, Chuck Todd and Pat Buchanan.

Pat, you won the Republican caucuses, I believe down in Louisiana at one point in your political career.  Is this a target for the Democrats, a realistic target to win that far south? 

BUCHANAN:  Louisiana, if any state is, Louisiana would be one of them.  It‘s really a divided state, deeply Catholic south and heavily hard Protestant north and you had a Democratic Senate candidate, that young lady she won her seat down there.  So, but if I were Kerry, I‘ll be honest Chris, I would not focus on Louisiana or those southern state.  I think what you talked about earlier, New Mexico, Colorado, maybe Arizona, I don‘t think Nevada is in play, that‘s where I would go if I were he. 

MATTHEWS:  What about the border states where people are a bit of either side.  They have a bit of southern culture, a bit of northern culture.  Missouri, Ohio, West Virginia, would they be good targets as well, Pat? 

BUCHANAN:  Everything I have seen, I‘ve spent a number of years in Missouri.  What I have seen is that Kerry has pulled a lot out of Missouri.  I think he‘s down six or more points.  I think that‘s very tough for him.  I would definitely do West Virginia and Ohio.  I have campaigned up there, Chris, and I got great support up from the unions in West Virginia.  They turned on Clinton/Gore because they double crossed them on trade and steel imports.  And Bush has pulled the tariffs, manufacturing jobs have really fallen dramatically in Ohio.  Manufacturing in West Virginia, I would really put an effort in there if I were John Kerry and Edwards. 

MATTHEWS:  Pat Buchanan, thank you, stay with us. 

Chuck Todd, this election could well be a border war.  It could be something like a civil war half way through it, where the south is trying to go north and the north is trying to go south.

What are the most likely prospects south of the Mason-Dixon line, or south of the blue states for the Democrats? 

TODD:  I think first is Florida.  I think you can‘t discount North Carolina, because the home state stuff will kick in.  I‘m not saying they‘re going to carry it, but... 

MATTHEWS:  But what about the charge made a minute ago, that John Edwards would be luckily to win reelection down there. 

TODD:  It was true, and yet what‘s happened, he‘s—that was before he got his campaign off the ground.  His favorable ratings are better now than before he got in the race in North Carolina.  Erskine Bowles is running a much stronger campaign than he did the first time.  There‘s a Democratic governor running for reelection, both guys are favored.  So it‘s one of those states where the state is—and Democrat—it‘s moving toward, you know—it‘s moving toward the Democrats a little bit.

MATTHEWS:  Are these the—what are the assignments of John Edwards tonight.  I want everybody to guess at this right now, because it is a hunch.  John Edwards is obviously the southern half of this ticket.  He‘s the small-town half, he‘s the working class half, at least in his roots.  He‘s easier to take in small towns than the other guy is.  What‘s states his he supposed to deliver?  What‘s his battle mission? 

TODD:  I think it‘s Wisconsin and Ohio and West Virginia and Iowa.  I think those are four of the closest state going on.  If you look at Wisconsin, Milwaukee, you can‘t just run up the score in Milwaukee and carry the state anymore like Dukakis did in ‘88.  You got to win Racine.  IT‘s a growing part of the states, Green Bay, Eau Claire.  That‘s where Edwards works.  I mean, we know did well in the primary there, better there than he did in many of those other states. 

Wisconsin and Ohio I think are the two place he‘s got to speak to tonight. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s exactly what I think, Ohio, West Virginia, Iowa, Wisconsin.  Basically middle America states to win.  Is that the way you see it?  Small town states.

MYERS:  Absolutely.  And he was always pulling well among independent leaning Democrats, independents.  He did well in states where there were open primaries.  Those were the states he targeted in his presidential campaign, because he knew his strength was in the middle.

MATTHEWS:  Do you really believe, do you believe—I don‘t mean really, do you believe he can honestly take his home state of North Carolina?

MYERS:  I think he can, yes.  Yes.  I think it‘s really tough. 

(CROSSTALK)

MYERS:  Maybe it‘s a little bit better, it‘s probably 45, 55 that he could take it. 

MATTHEWS:  As a national performer, and you watched John Edwards, you looked at (UNINTELLIGIBLE), we‘re all going to see him in full color tonight.  It is his rocky night.  He goes in there and gets weighed in tonight, do you think he‘s got the weight to go into a debate with Dick Cheney and beat probably the most accomplished public officials at the highest level we have in this country? 

REAGAN:  Yes, I do.  I think, the one thing he really has going for him in a debate with Dick Cheney is that he can point to Dick Cheney and say, you have a lot of experience, but you haven‘t handled the war in Iraq and the war on terror incompetently.  You didn‘t plan for the aftermath in Iraq, what‘s up with that?  I think he can get some points that way.

MATTHEWS:  What happens when you get the counterpunch?  The attack from a defense position, which your father was very good at, by the way.  There you go again: It‘s the most brilliant thing you can do in politics, let the other guy take a shot at you and the minute he does, come back with that Sunday punch.  What happens if he takes a shot at Cheney, and Cheney is already for that with one of those predelivered shots, preplanned shots?

REAGAN:  Well, I‘m sure he will, but a certain charm is required to pull that off.  And I‘m not required Dick Cheney meets the charm standard.  He‘s got to use the other side of his mouth. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ...Pat Buchanan, when they got to duke it out in real time.  These very asymmetric warriors, Cheney and Edwards.  How do you see that fight developing, because that‘s what I keep thinking about.  To me, it‘s going to be the greatest night of this year, those two guys head to head hopefully standing up, not sitting down. 

BUCHANAN:  Here‘s what I would do if I were Cheney.  Let‘s say they threw Ron Reagan‘s question at him.  You know, you guys really messed it up.  And Cheney would say, we did the right thing, we removed a menace and we‘re going to stay this course until victory is won for the United States of America.  What would you do? 

What‘s he going to say, Edwards, he got a party that wants to get out.  He‘s got a Charlie Rangel party that wants to get out.  And if he says we‘re going to get out, he makes a headline and he has problems in the middle. 

These folks are going to be well—I mean, Dick Cheney is a smart guy.  He took the measure of Joe Lieberman in that last debate.  I think the Democrats are making a mistake building up the trial lawyer who‘s going to wipe up the floor with Dick Cheney.  I don‘t think he is.  I think Cheney is a smart, tough guy.

MATTHEWS:  Who would you bet on? 

BUCHANAN:  I‘d bet on Cheney. 

MATTHEWS:  What about the youth factor?  Young people, women maybe,  people that just think he looks better, appears better, seems nicer, more hopeful, all the sort of personal ingredients.  Doesn‘t he come in there with those already in his advantage? 

BUCHANAN:  Oh, he‘s got—I he think he‘s a very attractive young man.  He looks younger than he is.  I agree with the fellow that just said earlier I would use him on the two Americans theory and the jobs going out of the country in Ohio and in West Virginia, the politics of hope. 

But the Democrats have a problem here, Chris, what is killing those jobs the the $600 billion trade deficit and all those trade deals, and they agree with Bush on them. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, your right.  Well, that‘s your argument for a long time now Pat.  Stay with us Pat Buchanan and everyone else.  NBC‘s Carl Quintanilla joins us now from the floor with a Michigan delegation—Carl. 

CARL QUINTANILLA, NBC NEWS:  Yes, Chris.  Pat was just talking about the loss of manufacturing jobs in Ohio.  We‘re with Ohio delegate Jack Sullivan whose hometown auto plant has lost about 1,000 jobs in the past 2 years.  Although you once voted for Reagan, you said Edwards message spoke to you, the two Americas spoke to you as the son of auto workers.

How does he breakthrough to people who don‘t come from that background?

JACK SULLIVAN, MICHIGAN DELEGATE:  I think his message really hit home when he talked about the two Americas, and the two different levels of education for the rich and the poor and his common background coming up from a moderate, middle class family who were both union workers, one was a mill worker, postal worker and the loss of his son. 

The guy‘s been through a lot.  He‘s a self made man.  His message seems to be sincere.  He‘s very charismatic, and he doesn‘t have a lot of baggage and I think that he‘ll do good job and it appeals to a lot of people. 

QUINTANILLA:  You know, a lot of the focus tonight is going to be about national security.  Which, in the end, do you think voters in Ohio are going to care more about, the economy or the war on terror, the war in Iraq and so forth?

SULLIVAN:  Well, I feel they‘re both terribly important.  I think that the war in Iraq, I think that we were lied to as far as weapons of mass destruction.  We were told that‘s the reason we went in there, and to this date that has not proven to be a factor. 

The economy is definitely a major issue.  Jobs are leaving this country by the 10‘s of hundreds of thousands.  The corporations are given incentives to go and set up in Japan and China and so many other countries.  If we get the economy back on track, I think it will have a rippling effect on the economy in America.  And with that, I think we can get out of this war and it‘s going to be a better America.

QUINTANILLA:  Jack Sullivan, the toughest looking delegate with a flashing donkey pin.  Chris, back to you.

MATTHEWS:  Carl, I think he was one of the greatest delegates I‘ve ever heard from.  Jack Sullivan, speaking for the people. 

We‘re here with the people, as you can see, at Faneuil Hall.  We‘ll be here all night again.  And We want to invite you to log on to HARDBALL.MSNBC.com and check out our Hardbloggers site.  You can e-mail your comments about our convention blog from Ron Reagan, who sits here.  Willie Brown, Dee Dee Myers, Joe Trippi, whose dancing, and Joe Scarborough and Keith Olbermann.  You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Democratic National Convention up in Boston.  That‘s how you say it, Boston on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(CHEERING)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to Boston.  We‘re joined here at Faneuil Hall by former Vermont Governor Howard Dean.  Here he is. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

You know, you are popular.  Governor—I always wondered what that sound meant. 

Governor, thank you.  You know, personally as a father, one of my happiest moments of the campaign was watching my son Michael, who goes to Brown, out campaigning for you, when we were covering the New Hampshire primary.  I went by that movie theater downtown, the Palace or whatever it‘s called, and there he was out there, waving a big sign for you.  You got a lot of young people excited about politics. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yeah!MATTHEWS:  What do you feel about that? 

HOWARD DEAN (D), FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR:  I think, you know, all you have to do to get young people excited about politics is tell them the truth.  The young people are very sensitive to what we call the B.S.  quotient.  And they don‘t like it.

MATTHEWS:  What does B.S. stand for? 

DEAN:  Well, we can‘t say.  Although the new standards with the vice president‘s language in the Senate, I ought to be able to say that...

(CROSSTALK)

DEAN:  I‘m sure that would bump the ticket by about 8 points.

MATTHEWS:  You know what?  I think it did.

Let me ask you about that, because I think if I were you, I remember growing up with Gene McCarthy.  I still love the guy.  I mean, he had a few quirks, but I loved the fact that he got me interested and passionate about an issue in the campaign.  Do guys like you and Gene McCarthy always have to lose? 

DEAN:  No.

MATTHEWS:  I mean, the true believers, seem like they are the guys who are the warm-up acts for the pols.  

DEAN:  No, I don‘t think that‘s necessarily true.

MATTHEWS:  It was this year, wasn‘t it?

DEAN:  We‘re trying something different anyway.  What we—after our campaign ended, we put together DemocracyforAmerica.com, and all these folks are probably involved in that, or a lot of them are.  If you aren‘t, you better.  And you know, we‘re running candidates for office all over the country. 

So the one thing—you know, we learned from what happened to Gene McCarthy and Gary Hart and John McCain.  We‘re just going to keep going.  And you know, maybe my role is not to be president.  Maybe my role is to make sure the Democratic Party gets back to its roots and creates a different kind of country.

MATTHEWS:  You know, Governor, a lot of people in this crowd—and I poll them almost every hour—very much disagree with the Bush administration‘s policy for this war in the Middle East, the whole thing, and yet the candidate of the Democratic Party doesn‘t quite speak with clear anti-war language.  Do you think that John Kerry should be more like you? 

DEAN:  I think John Kerry is speaking with clear language that makes it very clear that the right way to have gotten rid of Saddam Hussein was an international coalition of people and not a preemptive attack.  I also think that John Kerry has made it very clear, because I have heard him do it in Portland, that it is not OK to misspeak and not tell the truth when you‘re sending troops to die in a foreign country, 900 of which, our brave soldiers, have already died, not to mention all the Iraqis that have been killed. 

So it seems to me that the real problem is that the media is not reporting fully what John Kerry says.  I‘ve been with John Kerry in Portland, Oregon when he went after the administration for not telling the truth.  But you know, you can‘t write that story 30 days in a row, and so it doesn‘t get written.  And we get concentrated with media reports on stuff like “shove it” instead of John Kerry‘s Iraq policy.  You know, that‘s not my problem, because I‘m not a media person, but I do think that that‘s the part of the deal. 

I think if people want to find out what John Kerry‘s...

MATTHEWS:  Let me prove my bona fides.  Hillary Clinton today said that the reason—she did it in answering a question on the record at a luncheon that the reason she thought John Kerry did not move stronger on the war, did not come out clearly against the policies of this administration, she said because the people in the middle, the persuadables, as she called them, were more ambiguous on the war and it would be more dangerous for this candidate, your candidate now, John Kerry, to move in a more anti-war direction.  In other words, she said it was pure politics.  What do you think—what do you make of that? 

DEAN:  Look, I don‘t think, to be honest with you right now, I don‘t think that there‘s a big difference between the position right now of John Kerry, Howard Dean or George Bush.  Because George Bush has adopted John Kerry‘s position on the war.  Now he‘s completely incapable of doing anything about it.  But the truth is, Kerry‘s position is very much like the one I took after we got in.  We disagreed on going in, there is no question about that.  After we got there, the question is how do you get out?  Kerry‘s position is let‘s send the U.N. troops in.  This ought to be an international reconstruction, not an American occupation.  George Bush has adopted that position, but he is incapable of doing anything about it, because he insulted every one of our allies on the way in.   

MATTHEWS:  Isn‘t this election...

(CHEERING)

MATTHEWS:  Is this—let me ask you completely openly—is this election about foreign policy and doctrine and philosophy and whether we should be a country that takes preemptive action, that it invades a country before it invades us?  Or maybe there will be more countries down the line that this administration has their eye on.  You hear them—you hear the neoconservatives say, well, next we‘re going after Iran.  They want to go deal with Syria.  They may want to get tougher with North Korea. 

What—isn‘t that what the question is about, the direction of our foreign policy?  And whether we‘re going to support an administration which was—which took us into this war?  Why do you step back that what we do next week, what we do next month.  That‘s sort of practical—this isn‘t very philosophical.

DEAN:  This election is not going to be decided on the Iraq war.  It‘s going to be decided on jobs, health insurance and decent public schools.

Now, the reason the Iraq war is a big issue is not so much whether we should or we shouldn‘t, all that stuff—we can disagree on that—the reason the Iraq is a big issue is because it underlines the fact that the president of the United States is losing his credibility because he did not tell the truth about how he got into Iraq.  And because...

MATTHEWS:  Did you know there were no weapons of mass destruction evident in that country, at the time we debated? 

DEAN:  No, but—I did not...

MATTHEWS:  So you didn‘t know any more than the president knew?

DEAN:  I had a strong suspicion that was there no link between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, and it turned out there wasn‘t.  I had a strong...

MATTHEWS:  Weren‘t you shocked to know there was no evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? 

DEAN:  I wasn‘t shocked.  What I was shocked at was to find out that the United Nations knew more than the CIA, or at least more than the president was willing to admit. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  We‘ll be right back with Howard Dean in the next hour. 

Plus, NBC‘s Tom Brokaw.  (UNINTELLIGIBLE).  Stay tuned for more HARDBALL. 

(UNINTELLIGIBLE) Democratic National Convention in Boston on MSNBC.

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END   

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