updated 7/29/2004 9:55:58 AM ET 2004-07-29T13:55:58

Guest: Gov. Mark Warner, Ralph Reed, Rob Reiner, Willie Brown, Madeleine Albright


HOWARD DEAN (D-VT), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I may not be the nominee, but I can tell you this.  For the next 100 days, I‘ll be doing everything that I can to make sure that John Kerry and John Edwards take this country back for the people who built it.


MATTHEWS:  That was former Vermont governor Howard Dean, who‘s been out here, who‘s a good sport, backing the John Kerry campaign.  And of course, he got a lot of people involved in politics, young people.

We have a winner right now, a real Democratic winner, Mark Warner, the governor of the Old Dominion, Virginia.  What is the trick for a Democrat to win in the South?  Because we‘ve got John Edwards coming out tonight who, hopefully, is going to win a couple Southern states.

GOV. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA:  Well, I think Virginia‘s in play for the first time in decades, and Virginian Democrats are charged up.  I think it‘s in play for a couple reasons.  Demographics in Virginia are changing.  We‘ve got an emerging Asian, Hispanic population, tremendous growth in northern Virginia.  A lot of traditional Southern communities that have been really hard hit by job loss—textile, furniture...


WARNER:  ... those folks that haven‘t been spoken to by this administration.  And the Achilles heel for George Bush in Virginia is the veterans.  We‘ve got the highest percentage of veterans of any state in America.

MATTHEWS:  But they‘re all Republicans, aren‘t they?

WARNER:  No, listen, in the past, they‘ve been, but veterans support John Kerry because of his war record, because of their unease about this president in terms of his policies, his foreign policy in Iraq and elsewhere.  And the fact is, John Kerry‘s always been there on veterans‘ benefits.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the Democratic Party in the South.  I think if I hear the word “values” one more time—I don‘t want to hear it again.  I have no idea what the word “values” means.  You have your candidates out tonight.  Everybody‘s saying “Southern values, Northern”—is it OK to have northern values, or do you have to have Southern values?

WARNER:  I think you have to have American values.

MATTHEWS:  Why are Southern values better?  I mean, you had slavery down in the South.  Why are Southern values—why are Southern values better than northern values?

WARNER:  Well, I think...

MATTHEWS:  I‘m serious!

WARNER:  I think what you heard last...

MATTHEWS:  Has it just become a cliche?

WARNER:  Well, I think what you heard last night from Obama was the fact that this is about American values and...

MATTHEWS:  Well, why do we keep—why do people keep using the term “Southern values”?  We‘ve got John Edwards on the team.  He has Southern values.  He has small-town values.  Isn‘t this just political talk?

WARNER:  I think there‘s some—a little bit of that political talk in that, but I think common sense is that...

MATTHEWS:  OK, give me a distinction...

WARNER:  ... American values...

MATTHEWS:  ... between New York City or Boston values—here I have a bunch of people from Boston.  What‘s wrong with...

WARNER:  And elsewhere.


WARNER:  And elsewhere.

MATTHEWS:  What is the difference—what is the advantage of small-town values over Boston values?

WARNER:  Listen, I think there are small towns all over America.  One of the problems...

MATTHEWS:  What does it mean?

WARNER:  One of the problems we‘ve got in too much of our economy right now is too many places in (UNINTELLIGIBLE) small town you grew up, you can‘t find a job in that small town.  You‘ve got to pick up and move away.  One of the notions in a small town...

MATTHEWS:  So it‘s concerns about...

WARNER:  ... is about community.

MATTHEWS:  It‘s not really values, it‘s concerns about the economies of small towns.

WARNER:  Well, it‘s about how do you preserve small-town life, whether small-town life in New Hampshire, small-town life in southern Virginia...


WARNER:  ... small-town life in Arizona.


WARNER:  This is the kind of things we need to make sure—a lot of...

MATTHEWS:  But isn‘t that going away?  I mean, we got Wal-Mart everywhere.

WARNER:  Why does it need to go away?

MATTHEWS:  You got Sage (ph).  You got Blockbuster.

WARNER:  I don‘t think I want to live in an America where it goes away.  I don‘t think I want to live in an America where everybody in a small town feels they got to pick up and got to move away to find a good-quality job.  That doesn‘t have to be the opportunity—that doesn‘t have to be the America of the 21st century.  Part of the promise of the whole technology revolution was that you can build it anywhere.  We got to make that a reality.

MATTHEWS:  You know what it sounds like, Governor?  It sounds like Jeffersonian democracy.  It sounds like what you‘re selling is the small farm, the small tobacco farmer, maybe, the small guy working as a craftsman...

WARNER:  No, what I‘m trying to sell is the fact...

MATTHEWS:  I‘m trying to—I‘m helping you here.

WARNER:  Well, I appreciate that.  But what I‘m trying to say...

MATTHEWS:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Jeffersonian ideals here.

WARNER:  What I‘m trying to sell is the fact that you ought to have choice.


WARNER:  Part of the opportunity is you ought to have choice to stay in that small town, be able to move away.  That‘s what we ought to be able to offer, in terms of economic policies, and that‘s what I think the John Kerry...

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk turkey here.  Isn‘t the reason the South went Republican in the late 1960s is because the Republicans pursued what was called a Southern strategy, to go to the whites of the South, who were most of the voters in those days, and still are, and say, We‘re going to keep the old ways.  We‘re going to fight the courts.  We‘re going to fight busing.  We‘re going to fight everything and keep it the way it used to be, and used terms like “traditional values” and “the values of the South” and “Virginia values” and those kinds of tricks...

WARNER:  Listen...

MATTHEWS:  ... when really, what they were saying to the white voter was, You don‘t have to go to school with black kids, you don‘t have to be bused, you don‘t have to put up with any kind of Affirmative Action.  We‘re going to keep it the way it was.  And the Democrats got killed.

WARNER:  Let me tell you, I‘m a Democratic...

MATTHEWS:  Isn‘t that what happened?

WARNER:  ... governor in Virginia.

MATTHEWS:  That‘s what happens.

WARNER:  I‘m a Democratic governor in Virginia that not only relied upon the traditional Democratic family but went to a lot of rural communities, went to a lot of white voters who hadn‘t voted Democrat in a long time and said, Give us a chance.  I think John Kerry...

MATTHEWS:  Why should white voters...

WARNER:  ... and John Edwards...

MATTHEWS:  ... who‘ve chosen the Republican Party largely because they didn‘t change switch now back to the Democratic Party?

WARNER:  Because those same voters, white, black and every color, are getting hurt by some of the policies of this administration.  They‘ve seen their jobs go abroad.  They‘ve seen lack of educational opportunities for their kids.  All they want—if we can not get caught up in the cultural wars, we‘ve got to get people to listen.  Part of the problem in a lot of the smaller communities is people will turn off before they listen to a Democratic candidate.  What I think John Kerry and John Edwards have got to be able to do, and I think will be able to do...


WARNER:  ... is say, Let‘s talk about the cultural issues, but let‘s move on to economic issues, jobs, opportunity, the kinds of areas where Democrats consistently win.

MATTHEWS:  How can you sell the Democratic national ticket when the leader of that ticket, John Kerry, comes from a state which has moved toward—closer all the time to gay marriage?

WARNER:  Well, I think you‘re going to see...

MATTHEWS:  How do you sell that in Virginia?

WARNER:  I think you‘re going to see John Kerry will do very well in Virginia.  I‘ll make the prediction right here.

MATTHEWS:  But how does he deal with issues like that?

WARNER:  John Kerry is going to win—John Kerry‘s laid out his position on gay marriage...

MATTHEWS:  But how does he deal with issues like that?

WARNER:  You‘ve also seen as recently as a couple weeks ago the United States Senate, Hey, this is an issue, but it‘s not an issue that rises up to the level of a constitutional amendment.

MATTHEWS:  Do you buy Lynne Martin...

WARNER:  Republicans and Democrats alike.

MATTHEWS:  Do you buy Lynn Cheney, the wife of the vice president‘s, position that the issues of marriage should be state?

WARNER:  Those are issues that have always been decided by the states and ought to stay there.  But the fact of the matter is, what John Kerry‘s got to do, and John Edwards will do is talk about how we make sure that all parts of America aren‘t left behind, that we don‘t end up with these pockets of prosperity and...


WARNER:  ... and whole wide swathes, oftentimes in these rural communities, being left out.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s get to the issue of economic honesty.  A lot of people grew up in small towns.  I grew up in Philadelphia, which had big manufacturing jobs that don‘t exist anymore.  Economic changes around when we lose these jobs to overseas.  Can the Democratic Party honestly promise a mill worker like John Edwards‘s father that his job will come back...

WARNER:  I don‘t think anybody‘s promising...

MATTHEWS:  ... given the competition we face in the world?

WARNER:  ... the fact that the mill jobs are going to come back.  Some of those jobs are gone.  But the notion is, can we have an economic policy that promotes American investment back in America?  Can we have an economic policy that says, Hey, let‘s make sure kids in rural communities get the same quality education as the kids in the suburban community.  Do we have the same kind of capital formation policies that say, Let‘s go ahead and build the next Microsoft or AOL maybe in Southside, Virginia, or in rural Alabama?  That‘s the possibility.  That‘s the kind of vision that we need to hear from John Kerry.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think it was smart of the Democrats to put a North Carolinian on the ticket, given the fact that it‘s a long reach, given the recent voting patterns of northern—North Carolina, South Carolina, the deep South, of Arkansas?

WARNER:  Chris...

MATTHEWS:  They all...

WARNER:  ... the state of Virginia...

MATTHEWS:  ... voted Republican.  How do you get them back?

WARNER:  Virginia hasn‘t gone Democratic in 40 years, since 1964.  This year, Virginia‘s in play.  This year, Virginia, and I think a lot of other Southern states that seven or eight, nine months ago weren‘t considered in play, are in play right now because, as I said earlier, changing demographics, a lot of folks who‘ve been hurt by the policies of this administration.  In Virginia, a huge number of veterans, which I think is, again, going to be his ace in the hole, and ultimately the idea of who is going to lead this country forward?  And I think John Kerry can do that.

MATTHEWS:  Will the Democratic South come back?  Is it rising again?

WARNER:  Let‘s put it like this.  You got a Democratic governor in Virginia.  we had the first pick-up in the Democratic legislative seats in 30 years in Virginia.  Things are changing across not only the South but across the whole country.

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much, Mark Warner, the Democratic governor of the Old Dominion, Virginia...

WARNER:  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  ... the commonwealth of Virginia.

WARNER:  The commonwealth of Virginia.


MATTHEWS:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) We‘re going to (UNINTELLIGIBLE)  We‘re going to be coming back here to Faneuil Hall, the Democratic Party looks forward to the big speech tonight (UNINTELLIGIBLE) convention, John Edwards.  We‘re going to have to see if he can make it into the big time and take on Dick Cheney.  Back with more on HARDBALL (UNINTELLIGIBLE)


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to Faneuil Hall.  Ralph Reed is, of course, the Southeastern regional chairman for the Bush/Cheney campaign.

We had the Reverend Al Sharpton deliver a convention speech which I think was a barn-burner for a few, probably scared the hell out of a lot of people—very angry speech, very much off-message.  I want to talk to you about the speech coming up tonight by John Edwards.  What do you, as a Republican spokesperson, think is his bar that he has to jump tonight, if he can jump it?

RALPH REED, BUSH-CHENEY ‘04 SOUTHEASTERN REGIONAL CHAIRMAN:  I don‘t know.  I mean, I think that everybody expects John Edwards to give a good speech.  He was in a highly successful trial lawyer.  He had a very distinguished and successful career, obviously, talking to a lot of juries into winning a lot of awards.  So I would expect he‘ll give a good speech.  But in the end, Chris, I don‘t know that that‘s going to matter because politics is about more than words, it‘s about deeds and actions and convictions.  And John Edwards and John Kerry‘s convictions are out of the mainstream not only in the South but in the heartland of the country.

MATTHEWS:  Well that would be the only issue if we didn‘t have a campaign ahead of us.  We have four nights of debates coming up, and one of them is going to be a vice presidential debate.

REED:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  And John—last time around, Dick Cheney did extremely well.

REED:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think he will do just as well against John Edwards, the experienced trial lawyer?

REED:  I think Dick Cheney will do very well.  This is a man who was chief of staff of the White House at the age of 34, rose shortly after going to Congress in 1979 to second in leadership in his party in the House, as secretary of defense oversaw the largest mobilization of U.S.  forces since World War II.  And he is—whether you‘re a friend or a critic, there is no question he‘s one of the most influential and effective vice presidents...

MATTHEWS:  That‘s for sure.

REED:  ... in American history.

MATTHEWS:  Why are his poll numbers and approval numbers so far down?

REED:  I don‘t think they are.

MATTHEWS:  Oh, they‘re in the 30s.

REED:  It depends on which poll you look at.  But let me tell you something.  If you look at John Kerry‘s most recent numbers, his fav/unfav, his favorable rating is only 4 points above his negative in some polls.  So if you‘re going to talk about dropping somebody from a ticket because of that, I think the Democrats ought to look at...

MATTHEWS:  Well, do you think there‘s a conversation going on about dropping him?

REED:  Absolutely not.

MATTHEWS:  Well, why‘d you bring it up?

REED:  I haven‘t brought it up, but “The New York Times” put it on page one.


REED:  And the media‘s talked about it.  No, it‘s not being talked about by...

MATTHEWS:  Do you think he‘s a dead—he‘s an absolute lock for the nomination?

REED:  He‘s a complete asset to the president not only politically but on a policy level.  And I would just say that I think Dick Cheney is a huge asset to the president, not only in terms of his advice...


REED:  ... his counsel, his experience, but, Chris, I‘ll just tell you I disagree with the conventional wisdom.  I think he‘s a huge asset politically.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think that it will hurt if John Edwards speaks tonight with any force on the issue of Halliburton‘s contracts with the government during a time that the former CEO of Halliburton is serving as vice president?

REED:  No.

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t think that‘s an issue with the public?

REED:  Doesn‘t matter.

MATTHEWS:  It doesn‘t matter with the public?

REED:  No because the...

MATTHEWS:  Why does every poll say people are disturbed by that relationship?

REED:  No. 1, because Halliburton was winning significant contracts in Bosnia and Kosovo when bill Clinton was president.  No. 2, because Dick Cheney‘s had no involvement in whatever contracts they have been awarded.

MATTHEWS:  Well, what about the Army Corps of Engineer memo from the official with the Army Corps of Engineers saying, We‘ve run this by the vice president‘s office, one of these letting of contracts?  Why would they run it by the vice president‘s office if the vice president‘s office had nothing to do with letting these contracts?

REED:  Dick Cheney has said he‘s had no involvement whatsoever in the awarding of the contracts.

MATTHEWS:  Well, why would the Army Corps of Engineers say he did?

REED:  I don‘t know.  I don‘t—I don‘t—again, as I said, he‘s had no involvement in it whatsoever.

MATTHEWS:  But his office has.

REED:  Look, I don‘t think you should punish somebody...

MATTHEWS:  No, I‘m just asking these questions.  These are going to be debated by this guy, John Edwards, for the next three months.

REED:  Look, you asked me a simple question.  The simple answer is the American people are concerned about a number of things in this campaign.


REED:  They want to win the war against terrorism.  They want to create jobs and strengthen the economy in a globally competitive economy, and they want to strengthen values, families, and have affordable health care.  That‘s what the election‘s about.

MATTHEWS:  Is—is his...

REED:  This other stuff is not an issue.

MATTHEWS:  Is Halliburton and the relationship between Halliburton and the federal government, in terms of billions of dollars in contracts, not fair game for this debate?

REED:  I think that‘s for the American people to decide.  I—what I‘m saying is that Dick Cheney is a man of integrity, a man of impeccable character, a man who‘s been in Washington and served under three different presidents.  And there‘s no question that Dick Cheney is somebody who‘s conducted himself according to the highest ethical standards.

MATTHEWS:  So if you were being totally nonpartisan about this and you had a Democratic vice president who had been CEO of a major arms company or a company that does business in Iraq and was continuing to get huge contracts while he was in office as vice president, you, Ralph Reed, would not raise this as a campaign issue?

REED:  Well, I‘m not going to address a hypothetical because I don‘t even know who that person is or what the company is.  What I‘m saying is Halliburton, this company, is an international conglomerate...


REED:  ... that does significant and huge industrial engineering projects that, by definition, there are only two or three companies in the whole world that can even do some of these projects.  I mean, Chris, if you‘re the Pentagon and you put out a bid and the bid says, We want people who can go to Iraq and feed 140,000 people a day, you know, there‘s a limited number of people who can compete for that.


REED:  The point is, they did it under Clinton.  Nobody raised any questions there.

MATTHEWS:  Because his vice president wasn‘t the former CEO.

REED:  Now far be it from me, Chris, to be cynical, but let me suggest that there‘s politics behind this and not the substance of the issue.

MATTHEWS:  I‘m just trying to find out if it‘s relevant issue.  Let me ask you about something very powerful that the president said just a couple of weeks ago, just after John Edwards was selected by John Kerry to be his vice presidential running mate.

REED:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  He was asked by the press what he thought the difference was between Dick Cheney and John Edwards.  He said very succinctly and very powerfully, he said, “Dick Cheney could be president.”

REED:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  What do you make of that, in terms of what he was saying about John Edwards?

REED:  I make of that that the president was reflecting the opinion of John Kerry during the primary.  John Kerry said during the primaries that John Edwards had no foreign policy experience, no military experience, little international experience, less than a term in the U.S. Senate.

MATTHEWS:  Is that the president‘s view, as well?

REED:  And he said—and he said...


REED:  ... Kerry said, We don‘t need on-the-job training in the White House.  He then said, after he became the nominee, Chris, that he had one standard for who ought to be his running mate, and that is they ought to be ready to be president on day one.  So it‘s another example of John Kerry flip-flopping.  He said during the primary he wasn‘t ready to be president, and then he picked him to be his running mate.

MATTHEWS:  That‘s a common theme on this show, including my thoughts, that they didn‘t pick a great VP, they picked a great VP candidate, as they saw it.  Is that the way you think, it was pure politics?

REED:  I think that it reveals more about John Kerry‘s decision-making process...

MATTHEWS:  Does it say he‘s an expedient guy?

REED:  ... than anything.  I think what it says is that when George W.

Bush was making his decision in 2000, he was thinking...

MATTHEWS:  Who would be the best VP.

REED:  ... about January 20.


REED:  He was thinking about who could be his partner in governance...

MATTHEWS:  Fair enough.

REED:  ... and John Kerry was thinking about November 2.  And the irony is, I don‘t think he helped himself much there, either.

MATTHEWS:  Who‘s that?

REED:  John Kerry, by...

MATTHEWS:  You think picking him as a running mate wasn‘t—may have been an expedient decision for electoral purposes, but you feel he won‘t bring in any states?

REED:  Well, what I know is, is that when George W. Bush picked Dick Cheney, we got roughly, in most of the polling after that, about a 7-point bounce.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  What do you think this will be...

REED:  John Kerry doesn‘t look like he got much of anything.

MATTHEWS:  Well, there are probably votes in play, but give me a guesstimate, if you will, speaking for the campaign up here, what do you think they will get, the Democrats, say, in the Friday and Saturday polling this week, after all the speeches?

REED:  The truth is, I don‘t...

MATTHEWS:  Five or six?

REED:  I don‘t know.  But historically, challengers get between 10 and 15.  We went into our convention in 2000, Chris, virtually tied.


REED:  In the August 2 through August 4, 2000, Gallup poll, we came out 52/37, a 15-point lead.  Dukakis came out with a 17-point lead.  Clinton came out with a 30-point lead.  Obviously, you had the Perot exit...

MATTHEWS:  That was a hell of a speech.  I got to tell you, George Bush, the first George Bush, gave one of the best campaign speeches I‘ve ever heard down in New Orleans.

REED:  He did a great job.

MATTHEWS:  I think that was part of it.  And also, the Quayle arguments for and against him didn‘t seem to have much impact at all.  It was mainly, they were looking at—the voters were looking at the president.

REED:  I don‘t think we really know what they‘ll get, and I‘m not in the prediction business.  What we do know is that, historically, even in recent cycles, a challenger running against an incumbent president comes out of their convention with somewhere between 10-15 points, and recently, it‘s been closer to 15 than 10.

MATTHEWS:  Ralph, you know as much about politics or more than I do, and I want to ask you to consult your sense of history.  It seems to me that reelection campaigns are different than the other kinds of election campaigns for president.  If you look at them going all the way back to World War II, they‘re usually pretty dramatic.  The incumbents who win, win by an average, I figured out, of 16 points, big boxcar numbers.  Ike Eisenhower won by 15, Dick Nixon by 24, Bill Clinton by 18, even—I‘m sorry, Ronald Reagan by 18, even Bill Clinton by 8.  So they win pretty dramatically.  When they lose, they usually lose by about 8.  In other words, it‘s not going to be a nail-biter.

Is it your sense, based upon all you know from the numbers and public opinion right now, that this is going to be a close election or a dramatically decided election?

REED:  I think it‘s going to be a very close election.

MATTHEWS:  You do.

REED:  I do.


REED:  I think it‘ll be close for a couple of reasons.  No. 1, there‘s rough parity between the two parties.  It is a 45/45/10 type of election.  That was not really true in 1984.  It wasn‘t true in 1952 -- or ‘56, I should say.

MATTHEWS:  That was definitely a Democratic-run country in those days.

REED:  Yes.  It was a different time.


REED:  And the other thing that‘s happened is that the parties reflect, much more than they did 20 or 30 years ago, the values of the people within those parties.  They‘ve lined up so that the Republican Party is a center-right party, and the Democratic Party, I would argue, is a liberal party.  And so the parties not only have rough parity, but they reflect rather than cause the ideological and philosophical fissures in the election.

MATTHEWS:  Therefore?

REED:  The other reason why it will be close...

MATTHEWS:  That makes it close.  Right.

REED:  The other reason why it will be close is because both parties will, in the states that decide the outcome—Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, et cetera—they will make the most significant expenditure of grass-roots get-out-the-vote efforts you‘ve ever seen.


REED:  And that‘ll...

MATTHEWS:  What‘s the most important—I only have a second or two.  What‘s the most important state?  I think—one of your top people for your campaign on the show the other day said he thought it would be Pennsylvania.  That‘s fair enough.  But where do you think regionally is going to be, where it‘s going to be—you say it‘s going to be a close election?

REED:  Well, I...

MATTHEWS:  Where will it be closest?

REED:  Chris, I‘m the chairman in the Southeast, so I think it‘s Florida.  But I think, really...

MATTHEWS:  Are you up or down right now, right now, would you say?

REED:  Well, the most recent Gallup poll...


REED:  The most recent Gallup poll, we‘re up four.


REED:  But we‘re running like we‘re behind and we‘re running as if we‘re the challenger.  I don‘t think it‘s one state.  I think it‘s going to be more like 2000, where it could be three, four, five states...

MATTHEWS:  On both sides.

REED:  ... all decided by 1 percent or less.

MATTHEWS:  For both sides.

REED:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  You know your stuff.  Thank you, Ralph.  Thanks for coming on the show.

REED:  You bet.

MATTHEWS:  Lots of information tonight from Ralph Reed, who‘s one of the top strategists for the reelection of President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

I‘m joined right now by actor and director Rob Reiner.  It‘s great to have—where is Rob?  There he is!

ROB REINER, ACTOR/DIRECTOR:  I‘m right here, Chris.  I‘m right here.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you.  Well, this is a change of pace...

REINER:  How‘re you doing?

MATTHEWS:  ... from Ralph Reed.  It‘s great to see you out there. 

You‘re looking healthy...

REINER:  What do you mean?

MATTHEWS:  Well, it‘s just a change of pace...

REINER:  Me and Ralph are just like this.

MATTHEWS:  You‘re not exactly soul brothers.  But let me ask you about this campaign.  What did you think of Al Sharpton‘s speech a few minutes ago?

REINER:  Well, you know something, Chris?  I was just entering the hall and I came in just for the last part of it.  I heard the thunderous applause, but I missed the speech.

MATTHEWS:  What do you think are the dangers of this convention?  It‘s another way of putting it.  Al Sharpton gave a hell of an angry speech.  He got a lot of jumping up on it, but certainly, not exactly according to the talking points of this campaign, which are aimed at the center voter.  Let me ask you, do you think this campaign—this convention‘s been too tame?

REINER:  No, I don‘t think—I think they struck the right balance.  I mean, basically, what this is all coming down to is which candidate are you going to feel safer with?  National security is obviously on everybody‘s mind.  And which candidate do you feel safe with?  It‘s that proverbial, Which guy would you like to be stuck in a foxhole with?  And I would submit that John Kerry, who‘s been tested under fire and has responded with tremendous courage and leadership, is the man you‘d rather be with than the guy who, when he was told we were under attack, sat for seven minutes and read “My Pet Goat” to a bunch of school children.



REINER:  I think it‘s pretty clear who‘s going to make you feel safer.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me ask you about the heart of the Democratic Party.  You‘re sort of a centrist Democrat, like your dad, a mainstream Democrat.  You‘re no lefty, from what I remember talking to you.  Let me ask you about the heart of the Democratic Party.  I was taken last night by the heart of the party.  When I saw Barack Obama speak, I said the other night, I was shivering, it was so good.  When I saw Howard Dean come back with all his guts, and even—and even, I think, Mrs. Heinz Kerry—I thought the speech went too long, but I thought it was a great statement about women‘s status in this country.

REINER:  I agree.

MATTHEWS:  So much heart in those speeches.  Is that America, though?  Is what happened in this convention hall you‘re standing in right now a reflection of real America, or is it the many faces of Beneton?

REINER:  No, this is real America.  This is the Democratic Party.  Will Rodgers once said, I‘m not a member of any organized party, I‘m a Democrat.  We‘ve got people from every walk of life, every nationality, every ethnicity, every cultural background.  And it‘s wonderful.  And I got to agree with you, Barack Obama last night was just absolutely spectacular.  I got chills, quite frankly, and we all stood up in the box up there and said, A star is born.


REINER:  We all felt that this could be the first African-American president of this country.

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s what I thought, too, and I think that‘s an objective assessment, by the way, just looking at the quality of his presentation.  Let me ask you this.  Do you think the election‘s going to be decided on who can best defend us in another crisis, or who shares the sort of progressive values that I know you believe in?

REINER:  I think both things.  Obviously, national security is a top priority, but I think both things.  If you look at John Kerry‘s record on health care, the environment, education, right on down the line, I think that most Americans are in line with what John Kerry stands for.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the convention speakers.  Do you think John Edwards was the best qualified candidate that John Kerry could have picked for VP?

REINER:  I think, on balance, he was.  Obviously, first you got to win an election, and John Edwards can energize the base.  He can also do wonderful things in swing states and some of the rural areas.  He can reach out.  His story of being the son of a mill worker and having his father laid off, that resonates with the people who‘ve lost their jobs in southern Ohio and some of the rural areas of the swing states.  So I think he‘s a wonderful addition to the ticket.  On top of that, this man is brilliant.  He is very smart.  He‘s got more national security credentials than George Bush had when he first ran for president.  Now, he‘s running for vice president, not president.  And if anybody‘s a quick learner, it‘s John Edwards.

MATTHEWS:  If a president has to take advice from an adviser, do you believe that John Edwards is the match for Dick Cheney in that department?

REINER:  Well, at this point, I would say, in terms of national security, look what‘s happened.  Look where we—look where this country has gone.  Look at this misguided policy we have in Iraq.  I‘m not so sure Dick Cheney is the best adviser.

MATTHEWS:  OK, thanks.  It‘s great seeing you again, Rob Reiner.

Coming up next, I‘ll be joined by...

REINER:  Nice to see you, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  ... NBC‘s Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert.  And make sure you log onto hardball.msnbc.com and check out our hardblogger site.  You can e-mail your comments about our convention blogs from Ronald Reagan, Willie Brown, Dee Dee Myers, Joe Trippi, Chris Jansing and Joe Scarborough and Keith Olbermann.

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



BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS SENATORIAL CANDIDATE:  There is not a liberal America and a conservative America.  There is the United States of America.  We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending a United States of America.               



MATTHEWS:  We‘re live outside Faneuil Hall.  Welcome back to HARDBALL‘s coverage. 


MATTHEWS:  The crowd is getting loud at the 2004 Democratic Convention up here in Boston, MSNBC live coverage. 

I‘m joined right now by NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw and the moderator of “Meet the Press,” Tim Russert. 

I guess the big question for the handlers of John Edwards and he himself and his wife, Elizabeth, is whether to go big tonight and act like a world leader, like Dick Cheney, or present himself as the small-time, little-guy lawyer looking out for other little people.  How do you think he‘s going to go? 

TOM BROKAW, NBC ANCHOR:  Well, my guess is, Chris, that we‘ll probably have a kind of a combination of the two. 

He does have to establish his national security credentials and prove to the country that he‘s qualified to be just a heartbeat away from the presidency.  We talked about that earlier tonight.  But his big appeal, of course, during the primaries and caucuses was that two-Americas speech in which he spoke directly to the worry, the anxieties, if you will, of working-class and middle-class families in this country.

They don‘t want to lose that part of his appeal.  So it probably will be a mix of the two.  And we‘ll see, I think, first-hand tonight those courtroom skills that made him so wealthy there in North Carolina, his ability to connect directly to ordinary folks.  And he‘s going to do that and treat America tonight as if it‘s his jury box. 

MATTHEWS:  Tim, can he go ahead and give the speech he‘s been giving all along?  I remember when Ronald Reagan gave his speech, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” back in 1980, I had heard it 100 times.  And then, of course, it came on national television.  And my dad and others came along and said, what a great question. 

Do you think we‘ve heard too much of the two Americas for him to do it again tonight? 


That‘s his theme and that‘s his message and he‘s sticking to it. 

He continues to give it all across the country raising money for Democrats and helping him secure the vice presidential nod.  It‘s quite interesting.  In the hall tonight, Chris, the two speakers who really did energize this crowd, Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton, they gave them red meat.  And the Democrats were whipping up.

You‘re going to see from John Edwards a much different speech, I expect, much more pragmatic, much more methodical in tone, much more centrist, because they are talking to those 10 percent undecided voters in the 18 battleground states. 

BROKAW:  And we have to keep in mind, Chris...


BROKAW:  No, I was just going to say, we have to keep in mind, the delegates on this floor, as I know you‘ve been pointing out, are a lot more liberal than most of the voters that they‘re going after.  They‘ve got these people voting for them come the first Tuesday in November.  And, as Tim indicated, they‘ve got to go to those battleground states. 

And even the disaffected Republicans who aren‘t so sure that they want to vote for George Bush, but do they want to cross the line and vote for a Democrat this time, they‘d like to be able to reassure them and they‘ll try to begin that process tonight.  Whether they‘re successful or not remains to be seen with John Edwards. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, the Reverend Al Sharpton campaigned for months for the nomination, never won a primary.  And I‘m not sure he won too many supporters in the middle of the road. 

Do you folks—do you fellows think that his speech tonight, with all the anger in his face and all of the rousing kind of emotion, was good for the ticket? 

BROKAW:  Well, I‘m not—I don‘t know.  It was kind of old-time religion. 

There is that danger.  You know, the flip side of that is what Pat Buchanan did when he went before the Republican Convention in San Diego when Bob Dole was the nominee and whether people take Al Sharpton seriously enough as a major party figure, or is he a kind of performer, if you will, for the Democratic Party.  When he was still in all of those debates that were going on around the country, a number of people would stop me and say, I don‘t agree with anything that guy says.  But you got to keep him in there.  He‘s the only funny thing that is going on. 

And I think that‘s kind of how he‘s treated.  He won‘t find that particularly flattering, but he is a guy who knows how to come in and get the room riled up again.  It‘s like calling in the old coach before a big game of some kind. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, there‘s a lot of cops and firemen out there.

I just wonder, Tim, with all the police and firemen out there voting and all the people who care about them, especially their families, in this time after 9/11, are ready to vote for a party that showcases a guy who has made his reputation on accusing police officers of raping a woman, a young woman, that didn‘t happen and we know nit didn‘t happen.  How does that help to build a base of support among the first-responders? 

RUSSERT:  Well, these responders in this hall are for John Kerry. 

They have decided early on in the primaries that, in a very pragmatic way, that he was the most electable Democratic nominee.  And it‘s interesting.  As we talk about this and think about it, the Republicans are going to try to do the same thing.  They‘re going to showcase Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Arnold Schwarzenegger, three men who are for abortion rights, for gay rights, for stem cell research at the embryonic level. 

It is quite striking how much these parties are trying to put on themselves a face of centrism and moderation when it comes to the prime-time orders.  And then around the fringes, it‘s the red meat warriors. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, Tom and Tim, both to answer the question.  Who is going to give the best speech, the guy tonight or the guy tomorrow night? 

BROKAW:  Well, that‘s like speculating on Sunday morning at 10:00 about who‘s going to win the Super Bowl.  The guy tomorrow night has got to give the big speech. 

The pressure is on John Edwards, but not nearly as much as it is on the top of the ticket.  This is the biggest speech that any politician can give, which is the acceptance speech for the nomination for president of the United States.  It defines his campaign at the very beginning.  In John Kerry‘s case, even his friends will say, look, he‘s got some personality deficiencies.  He has got to make for those up in some fashion. 

He‘s not going to change his personality DNA in the next 24 hours.  But can he connect to the American public and persuade them that he is capable of protecting the national security interests of this country and being responsive at the same time to their economic concern? 

There is no bigger speech in John Kerry‘s life.  There‘s no bigger speech this week, frankly, here in Boston. 


RUSSERT:  In 2000, the Democrats didn‘t get any bounce out of their convention for the first three nights.  It came on that Thursday night with Al Gore‘s speech, his embrace of Tipper. 

Republicans I talked to today with the Bush campaign said it‘s all about Kerry on Thursday night whether they get a bounce or not, whether or not he can play in prime time. 

MATTHEWS:  Sounds good. 

Thank you very much, Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert up in the booth. 

Our panel is with us again, “Newsweek”‘s Howard Fineman.  He‘s also an NBC News analyst.  I see that there now.  Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, of course, he‘s been with us all week.  NBC News‘ Andrea Mitchell, and the host of MSNBC‘s “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY,” Joe Scarborough. 

Joe, you‘ve got that wonderful grin on your face, which makes me ask, what are you thinking about?  Did you think that speech by the Reverend Al Sharpton was helpful to the Democratic bounce or unhelpful? 


I can tell you, John Kerry‘s people were not pleased.  Again, they‘re trying to get this convention away from the politics of Michael Moore.  They‘re trying to be uniters and not dividers, to use George W. Bush‘s word.  But, at the same time, I don‘t think they‘re wringing their hands too much, because tonight is all about John Edwards. 

I was laughing because of the question you asked.  Who‘s going to deliver the better speech, John Edwards or John Kerry?  It‘s not even a close call.  Let me tell you something. 

MATTHEWS:  But it will be called. 


MATTHEWS:  Somebody will call it Thursday night, who had the best speech. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, but most of those calls are going to go for the guy that‘s been speaking to juries his entire life. 

I can tell you something. 



SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, I‘ve done a little lawyering before. 

I can tell you, it‘s a heck of a lot easier reading from a teleprompter than going through the type of cases that John Edwards has gone through his entire life.  I mean, he was born to do this.  You know what I think is so fascinating about John Edwards, though?  He had a lot of people, a lot of trial lawyers that wanted to support him.  He was on Tim Russert‘s show about, what, what was that, about a year and a half ago. 

He performed—he didn‘t perform well at all.  He seemed shallow, ill-prepared. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Ill-equipped.  expert

It‘s amazing how—and everybody closed their checkbooks and they didn‘t open them again until Iowa.  He‘s really grown over the past year and a half. 


MATTHEWS:  Let me go to Mayor Brown, another attorney at the table here.



MATTHEWS:  Mayor, when you go to a small town jury and you play the old Jimmy Stewart in “Anatomy of a Murder”—Remember that? -- you got to go real local yokel, these big shots coming into town. 

I asked this question of Tom—how do you play both the local yokel, friend of the people, I‘m one of you hicks, and also come off as the guy that can guard the atomic secrets, basically?  How do you do both?

WILLIE BROWN (D), FORMER MAYOR OF SAN FRANCISCO:  Oh, I think you have to really use every bit of forensic skills that you have in every fashion.  And I think John Edwards will do exactly that.  He‘s been doing that across America.  He made a great impression literally during the primary campaign. 

He won—unlike some of the other guys, he won or two of those primary campaigns and he was able to convey the message, yes, I‘m a mill worker‘s son.  Yes, I‘m probably the first to graduate from high school in my family and from college in my family, but I‘m also an incredible competitor on Wall Street and the places where it counts.  I can do both.  And I think he will do both. 

MATTHEWS:  It sounds like you a little bit. 

BROWN:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  Not as great as you, because you came a lot further.  You came from the Texas sharecropper situation to being the most sophisticated politician in California. 

SCARBOROUGH:  John Edwards



ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT:  But, you know, Chris, the low expectations for John Kerry‘s performance tomorrow are going to work to his benefit. 


MITCHELL:  Yes, Edwards will be very, very good tonight and we‘ll all be talking about that.

But remember that George W. Bush had very low expectations in Philadelphia four years ago and gave what was considered a very good speech, a speech that passed muster.


MITCHELL:  John Kerry is going to have the emotion of the convention floor. 

MATTHEWS:  Can I break that theory?  It seems that the bar can be as low as possible and you still have to give a great speech to be credited with giving...

MITCHELL:  I wouldn‘t count John Kerry out.


MATTHEWS:  George Bush Sr. gave a barn burner in New Orleans.  That was a wonderful speech.  And I think that‘s what Ralph Reed was talking about. 


SCARBOROUGH:  There were very low expectations for that speech.

FINEMAN:  Yes, there were low expectations for that speech by George H.W. Bush in 1998. 

MATTHEWS:  Eighty-eight.

FINEMAN:  Yes, 1988.

Roger Ailes brilliantly managed that to connect George H.W. Bush‘s life, his service in the Navy.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

FINEMAN:  Being a brave pilot with one more mission.  Remember, that was the phrase.  It was seamlessly done and beautiful. 

I think they‘re lowballing this on the Kerry speech.  I think there is going to be more personal story of John Kerry in that speech than we yet know. 

MITCHELL:  Exactly.  If you do a personal narrative, that trumps this kind of rhetoric.

FINEMAN:  There‘s going to be more personal—more personal in it and it‘s going to be more emotional than they‘re letting on right now.  And it going to have to be to succeed. 

We have heard a speech about rich and poor America.  It was called the city on the hill speech by Mario Cuomo back in San Francisco, Mr. Mayor.  Remember that speech? 

BROWN:  In 1984. 

MATTHEWS:  That speech was incredibly well received and it had absolutely no impact on the campaign. 

Now here we have a guy coming back giving a rural version of that, not a city on a hill, John Winthrop in the Massachusetts Bay colony, but two Americans, the poor that don‘t have any breaks and the people that get all the breaks.  Do you think that will work? 


FINEMAN:  Yes, it will work up to a point.  It will work...

MATTHEWS:  Well, that was couched.

FINEMAN:  Well, no, wait a minute.

It will work the way the Kerry people want it to. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

FINEMAN:  Tonight is rural night.  Tonight is swing voter night.  Tonight is the working mom and the kitchen table and the small town.  And it‘s security night.  That‘s why you have John Shalikashvili on, the former...

MATTHEWS:  General.

FINEMAN:  General.

That‘s what they‘re aiming for.  And by having Jennifer Granholm, they‘re also aiming for female, swing voters in the Midwest.  So that‘s what they‘re aiming for.  That‘s the narrowcasting politically that Edwards is after here tonight. 

MATTHEWS:  Is it dangerous, Mr. Mayor, to say we‘re running a guy named John Kerry for president and commander this chief to do foreign policy and we‘re running this younger guy to handle sort of domestic issues?  Doesn‘t that sort of shrink the status of the vice presidential running mate? 

BROWN:  Well, first of all, I don‘t think they will do it that way.  If they did it that way, they would have to explain it and that would be a problem. 

But, keep in mind, John Edwards will present himself tonight and he will export himself in such a way there will be no question about the alleged absence of foreign policy experience.  He will run the numbers.  He will run the story. 


MITCHELL:  What do you mean by alleged?  The alleged absence?  What does the alleged absence mean? 


MATTHEWS:  ... by the numbers? 

BROWN:  What?

MATTHEWS:  What do you mean by run the numbers?  Like on CNBC?  What?

BROWN:  He will walk through the process.  He will walk through the process and demonstrate that he has a command of what the world is like.  He has a command of who runs the world. 


MITCHELL:  That‘s a pretty big leap.

SCARBOROUGH:  I disagree with that


MATTHEWS:  You don‘t think he‘ll try


SCARBOROUGH:  You know why they‘re not going to let John Edwards get out on foreign policy?  Because John Edwards, while he was running, was out there saying that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat, went overboard time and time again, sounding like he was really in George Bush‘s administration. 


SCARBOROUGH:  And he ran as a hawk.  He ran to the right on military issues.  They‘re not going to let him out there. 

FINEMAN:  Except for the fact that he voted against the $87 billion appropriation. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Which they don‘t want to talk about either, because


SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s John Kerry‘s big week.  And we‘re going to see the clip time and again where he‘s...

FINEMAN:  He‘s not going to pose as a young JFK.



SCARBOROUGH:  And they‘re going to show that clip time and time again where Kerry said I voted for it the first time before I voted against it. 


MATTHEWS:  How do you explain that I quote, I voted for the money to support the troops before I voted against it.  I don‘t know what that means. 

MITCHELL:  It‘s nuanced. 



SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s nuanced!



FINEMAN:  He was trying actually to be mordantly funny and comment on the process.  But it‘s impossible to explain it away.  It‘s there. 


MATTHEWS:  ... just say he was trying to say.  Remember that? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, what was he trying to say, Mr. Mayor?  Please, tell us. 


BROWN:  What? 

SCARBOROUGH:  The Kerry campaign needs to know. 


BROWN:  You inexperienced politicians just don‘t seem to understand.


FINEMAN:  You would never say anything like that in a million years. 


BROWN:  That‘s not exactly true.  If you‘ve been around long enough, you probably will have voted on every side of every issue. 

FINEMAN:  But you don‘t say that. 

BROWN:  Oh.  You don‘t acknowledge it. 



BROWN:  You don‘t acknowledge it. 


BROWN:  He will explain away the acknowledgment, even to “Newsweek.” 


MATTHEWS:  Political pros.

Coming up next, I‘ll be joined by Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. 

We‘re live at Faneuil Hall.  And we‘re waiting for John Edwards‘ big night.


MATTHEWS:  You‘re watching HARDBALL it‘s coverage of the Democratic National Convention in Boston on MSNBC. 


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


MATTHEWS:  Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright joins us right now. 

Madam Secretary, thanks for coming on HARDBALL tonight at this convention. 

Let me ask you about John Kerry.  What do you think he will do if elected president in Iraq? 

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE:  Well, I think that he understands much better about the dangers of Iraq.  We are just watching a film here about generals who believe that John Kerry is the best commander in chief.

And what he has been saying about Iraq is that it needs to be internationalized and there needs to be help from the countries in the region and we need to help the Iraqis develop their institutions. 

And what‘s interesting, Chris, is that President Bush is finally doing the kinds of things that John Kerry was suggesting 18 months ago. 

MATTHEWS:  Reverend Jackson, Reverend Jesse Jackson, was speaking tonight for the convention.  At the end of his remarks, he concluded by saying, bring the troops home.  Is that a theme you‘re happy with as an adviser to John Kerry? 

ALBRIGHT:  Well, I think that we have to be very careful not to leave a situation of chaos.  We all want the troops to come home.  We want to stop seeing the deaths of American soldiers and the maiming of the American troops. 

But I think that we have to do it in a responsible way.  And while I think this was a war of choice, not of necessity, getting it right is a necessity and not a choice.  And so we have to get others to come in there and help on the security situation.  And the Iraqi army itself has to be trained to take over.  So, obviously, we don‘t want to keep our troops there any longer than is necessary. 

MATTHEWS:  Will the troops come home sooner if John Kerry is elected president? 

ALBRIGHT:  Well, I think one of the things here, Chris, is that, under the best of circumstances, John Kerry can‘t be president until January.  And there will be a lot of things that happen in between. 

But I can assure you that he will work on getting the peace right and getting the troops home as soon as possible. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the question of the candidacy for the candidacy for the vice presidency of John Edwards.  Do you believe John Edwards is qualified to become president if that becomes necessary? 

ALBRIGHT:  Absolutely.  He is a very smart man.  He has spent his years as senator working very hard on national security issues and intelligence. 

And I know for a fact that he has spent a lot of time in the last couple of years going to meet foreign leaders.  I was recently with some NATO people.  And they said that he had gone there and spent time at NATO headquarters getting briefed up, asking good questions.  He is a very smart man.  And, yes, I think he is ready to be president. 

MATTHEWS:  We‘ve seen his remarks he is going to deliver.  Some of those remarks have not been embargoed.  I‘m free to say what they are.  He expresses concern, in fact, very human concern, for the tragedy of all those men who have come back wounded, very seriously wounded, with limbs missing, numerous, multiple amputations, brain injuries, blindnesses. 

He points to those tragedies out.  But here is a man, John Edwards, who was very enthusiastic for the war with Iraq, who voted for it with great enthusiasm.  He had no questions about the war.  He said, let‘s go to war.  How can he complain about injuries in war when the wounded are part of any war? 

ALBRIGHT:  Well, I think that what John Edwards did was to vote in

order to give authority to the president


MATTHEWS:  That‘s not what he said.  Madam Secretary, that was not his position. 


MATTHEWS:  His position was, it was a war we had to fight, and he said so. 

ALBRIGHT:  Well, I think that he obviously understood the risks, and we all do. 

But the problem is that this war, while the military part of it was carried out brilliantly, there was no plan for the postconflict part.  And the maiming and all of those terrible injuries have come as a result of the fact that there was no plan for the postconflict part of it.

And John Kerry—Edwards—certainly was concerned about how this would be carried out.  It‘s one thing.  We had a very successful military campaign.  We‘ve had a very unsuccessful postconflict situation. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about Afghanistan, Madam Secretary. 

The Democratic platform criticizes quite severely the Bush administration for failing to capture Saddam—or, rather Osama bin Laden, at the battle of Tora Bora.  Do you think that‘s too specific a platform attack on an incumbent administration? 

ALBRIGHT:  Well, I think that there—every indication is that the—there was a real opportunity to capture Osama bin Laden at that time.  And I think the problem was that this administration took its eye off the ball because they were bound and determined to go to war in Iraq.

And, therefore, I think it‘s a perfectly appropriate point to make in a platform, because the whole point here is that we are not fighting terrorism in the most effective way.  And the people who attacked the United States came out of Afghanistan and not out of Iraq.  And, therefore, it‘s a perfectly appropriate point.  I think so. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much for joining us tonight at the convention, Madeleine Albright, former secretary of state. 

Coming up in just a few minutes, John Edwards will make the speech of his life at the Democratic National Convention. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s live coverage on MSNBC.




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