updated 7/29/2004 9:59:52 AM ET 2004-07-29T13:59:52

Guest: Jon Meacham, Willie Brown

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We should choose a captain of our ship who is a brave good man, who knows how to steer a vessel through troubled waters.

So let us go say to America in a loud, clear voice, send John Kerry!

God bless you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  And this is HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Democratic Convention in Boston. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  We‘re at historic Faneuil Hall, where the people are standing here with umbrellas.  These are the happy warriors of Boston standing outside Faneuil Hall, where I like to remind people, when I was growing up, John F. Kennedy spoke to the nation the night before the presidential election from that great old building. 

We are awaiting, of course, the big moment tonight, a speech by vice presidential candidate John Edwards of North Carolina.  We got a Tarheel who is speaking tonight, a graduate of N.C. State and the wonderful University of North Carolina, which has a great law school.  And I went to graduate school there. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, I love Chapel Hill.  It‘s the Southern part of heaven.  This guy is from that part of that country. 

We are here with an exciting panel, mostly Northerners, except for Joe Scarborough. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Howard Fineman.  Howard Fineman is everything.  He‘s with “Newsweek.”

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  He‘s the best cover story writer.  He writes for NBC, works for NBC, thinks for us.  Former San Francisco mayor, a man who grew up the son of sharecroppers in Texas, who went all the way to San Francisco, and even more so, to Sacramento, the speaker of the House, the mayor of San Francisco, who has won every race for anything he has ever run for, and the smartest guy in politics, with more wicked stories than he dares to tell here.  Anyway, Andrea Mitchell, who has been covering everything in politics since I was born.  Just kidding. 

Anyway...

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT:  Hey. 

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, it‘s great.  I want to talk to you about and I want you all to give me...

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”:  Wait.  Wait.  Wait. 

Wait.  Wait. 

You cannot introduce the mayor that way and not say anything about me, Chris.   

MATTHEWS:  OK, Joe Scarborough, a former United States congressman of long vintage. 

SCARBOROUGH:  There you go, long vintage.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Who long—served well, was very popular.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right. 

MATTHEWS:  Extremely loyal to Newt Gingrich.  Just kidding.

SCARBOROUGH:  I was not.

MATTHEWS:  I know you weren‘t.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know I wasn‘t.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  That‘s why we booked you

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Because you were totally an independent.

HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT:  And a guy who really wanted to be a rock star. 

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s right. 

MATTHEWS:  You can still make it. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You are still a musician.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Are you a musician?

SCARBOROUGH:  I am.  I have got time, yes.  Howard is a musician, too. 

FINEMAN:  Yes, we are going to get a band together here. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  The retreads.

MATTHEWS:  Not here. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you all of you, starting with the mayor, who has been elected many times as well, to be elected president or vice president requires that you reach a 51 percent threshold, usually. 

This candidate for vice president is young by today‘s standards.  Ironically, Dick Nixon and Jack Kennedy were both much younger than this man.  As a 51-year-old, relatively young in American politics, does he have a higher bar to jump, or is he cute enough to have a lower bar to jump? 

WILLIE BROWN (D), FORMER MAYOR OF SAN FRANCISCO:  Well, I don‘t think that cuteness will have anything to do with it.  I think he is going to have to demonstrate in tonight‘s performance, as well as through the remainder of the campaign, that he is, in fact, capable of being commander in chief. 

MATTHEWS:  So that‘s the bar. 

BROWN:  And I happen to believe that he has a full set of brains and the ability to do it. 

After all, he starts, obviously, with a wonderful foundation, a story that stirs the hearts of Americans. 

No. 2, he is a very good lawyer and a very successful lawyer in every sense of the word.  And, No. 3, he obviously managed to win the U.S. Senate seat in his state of choice to live, and he served with great honor and distinction.  And as Madeleine Albright says, he clearly is a student, intellectually competent, and I think he will demonstrate every bit of that during the course of this campaign. 

MATTHEWS:  Joe, the mayor has just set the bar exactly at the height that the president has set it.  Can this guy not just be vice president, and certainly not just be vice presidential candidate and win a few states?  Could he be president?  The mayor says that‘s the same standard the president has set.  Do you think that‘s the standard tonight? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know...

MATTHEWS:  Can this guy be president? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I don‘t know that he can. 

The fascinating thing is about John Edwards, just like George W. Bush in 2000, these are men who decided late in life that they were going to get into politics.  These are guys—George W. Bush, and I‘m not—I love George W. Bush, but the guy was more interested in baseball for the first 30 years of his life than politics. 

The same thing with John Edwards.  He was more interested in law. 

They decided late in life to get into politics.  It‘s very interesting. 

We saw Scoop Jackson on our last bump-out introducing Bobby Kennedy. 

There were guys that had gravitas, much more gravitas than, say, George W.  Bush in 2000 or John Edwards in 2004 getting into politics.  That‘s why I think he‘s going to—the bar is set fairly high for him to prove that he has got the experience to be president of the United States.

Now, let‘s face it, he has got the same amount of experience George W.  Bush had in 2000, but they are criticizing George W. Bush for that fact today. 

MATTHEWS:  Andrea Mitchell. 

MITCHELL:  He has got to pass the Dan Quayle test.  He has got to

prove that he has

(CROSSTALK) 

FINEMAN:  Don‘t set the bar so high, Andrea. 

BROWN:  You mean he ought to be able to spell? 

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Don‘t be catty. 

MITCHELL:  He‘s got to prove that he is a credible commander in chief, especially in a post-9/11 world.  And I am saying that that test is not that low.  That is a high bar that he has got to pass.  And he can‘t just be cute.  Cuteness isn‘t enough. 

With all due respect, Mr. Mayor, he has got to show that he is more than just a good lawyer, because people expect in this day and age someone to be more credible, more knowledgeable about foreign policy. 

MATTHEWS:  So Dick Cheney is, in fact, the standard for his opponent? 

BROWN:  No. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Wait. 

I want to ask, Andrea, if you mean that.  Does he have to be as accomplished as Dick Cheney?

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  He has to be able to debate him.

(CROSSTALK)  

MITCHELL:  And not fall into a Lloyd Bentsen-Dan Quayle moment. 

That‘s what he‘s got to do.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Generalities will not cut it in a debate with Dick Cheney.  He is going to have to be specific in a post-9/11 world. 

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN:  I covered John Edwards‘ campaign from the beginning.  And I was with him when he made that transformation into a guy with a great stump speech.  He wrote it down in a notebook and then he gave it after months of experience on the trail. 

I have seen a lot of politicians and covered a lot of them.  I have never seen a quicker study, a faster learner, a more articulate guy than this guy.  Now, articulateness does not mean leadership, necessarily.  But it matters.  He doesn‘t have to show tonight that he can be commander in chief.  He has to show the qualities that he has.  And I‘ll bet you that he is going to do a good job doing that. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I want to talk now about the nonverbal. 

Every guy—you can tell me if it works for women.  Chris Rock—you were talking about the comedian during the break.

MITCHELL:  Now I‘m the authority on all things female. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Chris Rock says there‘s certain men, just the way they look, and they never have a bad look, like Colin Powell.  You look at him and say, God, he is a general.  And you never see a bad picture of the guy.  He always looks in command. 

Then you see a guy like Dan Quayle.  And I don‘t care if he rehearses for years.  He can‘t quite exhibit that command leadership. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  No, just a minute. 

That body language, that poise I think will be as important tonight as any word spoken. 

FINEMAN:  He‘s going to have it.

MITCHELL:  Tonight, that will be. 

MATTHEWS:  And he will have it? 

FINEMAN:  He will have the poise. 

He still is boyish-looking.  He can‘t pose as commander in chief right now.  What he can say is, I am a smart guy who learns fast, who was only in the Senate for one term, but I studied hard on the Intelligence Committee.  That‘s all he has got to do right now.  The big test for him is not going to be this speech tonight.  The big test for John Edwards is going to be that vice presidential debate with Dick Cheney. 

MITCHELL:  Exactly. 

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN:  That‘s the whole 

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN:  But he will pass this test, I predict.

MITCHELL:  And the test is—the test for Colin Powell, who looks great, who is someone I have covered for years and known for years, was the U.N. presentation.  He looked great in that U.N. presentation, and it sold the world.  But it turned out not to be true.  He had been taken in.

So looking good and playing the part is not enough when it comes to things that we are now dealing with, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.  That is why this is such a challenge for John Edwards.  It‘s not just a jury closing. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go down to the podium right now.  Retired General John Shalikashvili and retired Lieutenant General Claudia Kennedy have finished speaking.  And they are joined on stage by Wesley Clark, the general, of course, and several other former top field rank leaders who have announced their support for the candidacy of John Kerry. 

Unusual moment here. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Kennedy.

FINEMAN:  Key.  This is key, key pageantry and symbolism for them. 

MITCHELL:  But the problem is that they have got a dozen generals and admirals up there.  And nine out of a dozen had already endorsed their campaign.  So they rolled them out today with great fanfare, but they really aren‘t producing very much this week. 

FINEMAN:  But this is important to them.  This is really important to them to get every possible military person they can, as Bill Clinton did in 1992 when Admiral Crowe, a very key military figure, helped out Bill Clinton. 

MITCHELL:  And Crowe is out there tonight.  But the difference is, as they point out, they have got 12, a baker‘s dozen tonight, rather than just Admiral Crowe. 

FINEMAN:  Of course, the difference is, none of them is in uniform also. 

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  They can‘t be. 

FINEMAN:  No.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN:  Democrats have always been perceived as weak on the military side.  This removes that. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know what, though?

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN:  Symbolic.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  As a guy that has got five military bases in my district and has more military retirees in my district than anywhere else, I can tell you, that stigma is not removed. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  This campaign about veterans, about supporting the military, what he is going to have to do is, he is going to have to prove to military men and women that he is the John Kerry, again, that turned the boat to shore, not the John Kerry who testified before the Senate in 1971...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... and accused his band of brothers of being war criminals. 

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN:  ... over and over and over again.

MITCHELL:  An interesting backstory is that he posed yesterday in Norfolk in front of the USS Wisconsin.  And it‘s a retired ship.  He‘s posing on public property because you are not allowed to do a political event at—on a military base.  You can if you are vice president, Camp Pendleton yesterday.

You can‘t if you‘re John Kerry.  So he was across the sheet, shooting back toward the ship.  And the Kerry campaign wanted to put up some more bunting and juice—jazz up the ship.  And the Pentagon said, no, you can‘t do that.  It‘s against the law. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Seriously, why would he put something on a ship?  That would be very inappropriate.

MATTHEWS:  If you want that kind of president

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN:  Mission accomplished?  Mission accomplished? 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly.  Mission accomplished.

MATTHEWS:  If you want that kind of president who is very dramatic in his presentation of himself as a military man, don‘t we already have one? 

BROWN:  Who?

MATTHEWS:  George Bush.

FINEMAN:  George W. Bush, yes.  But what Kerry is going to do...

MITCHELL:  He looks great in the...

FINEMAN:  And so much of John Kerry‘s sales effort here is through the voices and the lives of other people, John Edwards, Shalikashvili.  The key thing are the band of brothers...

MITCHELL:  The crew members.

FINEMAN:  ... who are going to be in every ad and everything that happens between now and tomorrow night. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Vice presidential candidate John Edwards is about to speak tonight.  He will be introduced by his wife and his daughter. 

Let‘s listen to Cate Edwards, daughter of Senator John Edwards of North Carolina. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)  

CATE EDWARDS, DAUGHTER OF SENATOR JOHN EDWARDS:  Hi.  Hi.  I am Cate Edwards. 

By now I‘m not sure if more of you know me as John and Elizabeth‘s daughter or as Jack and Emma Clair‘s older sister.  But tonight, I can tell you that I am the proud child of two people who have made our home a place of hope, two people who will make sure that our country is a land of opportunity and possibility when my dad is the next vice president of the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

And standing beside him tonight, standing beside him always, is his wife, my mom, Elizabeth.

(APPLAUSE)

Both my mom and my dad have always taught me to dream big and reach high.  Now, as a young woman about to head out into the real world, I have one thought on my mind:  If I can live a life even half as accomplished as my mother‘s, then I‘ll have done alright.

The truth is, my mom has really done it all.  She‘s been a star law

student, and a PTA member, a successful attorney, and a coach, a public

servant, and a mentor, and above all, a mother who is always there for us -

·         always.

(APPLAUSE)

But I look up to her not only because of what she does with her life, but because of the way she lives it, with a strength that inspires, with a courage that carries on, with a kindness that keeps our front-door open and our family and friends close, and with an optimism that keeps her joined to my father at the heart.

I know that some may find it easier to look at the hurt in the world and the challenges around us and simply turn away or sit at home.  But we were raised by our parents to believe differently. Because my mom and dad believe differently.

John Kerry and Teresa believe differently too, and that‘s why together, we‘re going to change this country.

(APPLAUSE)

They say a ship in a harbor is safe.  That is not what ships are built for.  They are built for exploring new possibilities.  And to quote from my mom‘s favorite poem, they are built for allowing us to “believe that a further shore is reachable from here.”

My mom believes.  She has brought joy to our home and love to our hearts, and she will join my father in bringing hope to America when she is our next second lady of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

Ladies and gentlemen, my mother, Elizabeth Edwards.

ELIZABETH EDWARDS, JOHN EDWARDS‘ WIFE:  Thank you. 

(APPLAUSE)

I‘m Elizabeth Edwards, and tonight I am the very proud mother of Cate Edwards. 

(APPLAUSE)

John and I have been truly blessed with a beautiful and strong family. 

And we‘re blessed, too, by you, our great Democratic family.

(APPLAUSE)

You have no idea how great you all look from right here. 

This has been quite a year for John and for me.  We started last January criss-crossing America, talking about how, with determination and vision and optimism, we can end the injustice of two Americas.

And this January, it‘s going to end when we move two great friends, two great Americans, John Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry, into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

(APPLAUSE)

Teresa represents the victory of spirit and will over tyranny and tragedy, and she will be the most generous first lady in the history of this country.  I am so honored to stand with her.

(APPLAUSE)

John Kerry was in the Navy and so was my father.  I grew up traveling around the world, living on Navy bases.  But I always knew I was home when I saw the American flag.

Like John Kerry, my father fought for this country.  Like John Kerry, he was decorated, risking his life in her service. 

My father had another thing in common with John Kerry and with so many of the uniformed men and women across this country and around the world: 

He has the right stuff.

(APPLAUSE)

I married a man with the right stuff, too.

(APPLAUSE)

He found his own way to serve.

In his community, he was the driving force behind two after-school centers that meet the needs of young people.  He was Santa Claus to needy families and, when that wasn‘t enough, to an entire inner-city child care center.  You know, he even looks dashing in a Santa suit.

(LAUGHTER)

In youth activities, he did what so many Americans do:  giving up their weekends and evenings to coach young people in basketball and soccer, in his church, in urban ministers, in his prayer groups, and for 20 years in his work, fighting for those who could not fight for themselves.

(APPLAUSE)

It never mattered how powerful the opponent.  It never mattered how entrenched the interest.  If the cause was just, and his voice was needed, he was there. 

And now he serves the great state of North Carolina...

(APPLAUSE)

... in the United States Senate, still fighting for those who count on him to be their voice.

Using his intellect and his eloquence, he has fought to improve our health care choices and to protect our environment.

And he called attention to the threat of terrorism before September 11th.

(APPLAUSE)

You know, I married the smartest, toughest, sweetest man I know. And in two days, we will celebrate 27 years of marriage...

(APPLAUSE)

... the way we always do.  We‘ll do it the way we always do at Wendy‘s.

(LAUGHTER)

Whether it‘s Wendy‘s or Washington, I‘ve found that it‘s true: It‘s not where you go, it‘s who you go with.

(APPLAUSE)

But none of the things I‘ve mentioned are the reason that I married John Edwards.  I married him because he was the single-most optimistic person that I have ever known.

He knew there was a brighter day ahead, even as he swept the floors in the cotton mill as a high school student.

He knew if he worked hard enough, he could be the first in his family to go to college. 

He knew that he could outwork and out-tough any battalion of lawyers to find justice.  And he continued that fight in Washington, courageously, eloquently, with one simple goal:  to make the opportunities of America available to all Americans.

We deserve leaders who allow their faith and moral core, our faiths and moral core to draw us closer together, not drive us farther apart.  We deserve leaders...

(APPLAUSE)

We deserve leaders who believe in each of us and fight for all of us. 

My rock, my love, and your next vice president, John Edwards.

(APPLAUSE)

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Thank you. 

Now you know why Elizabeth is so amazing, right?

(APPLAUSE)

I am a lucky man to have the love of my life at my side.  Both of us have been blessed with four extraordinary children:  Wade, Cate who you heard from, Emma Clair and Jack.

We are having such an extraordinary time, myself and my entire family, at this convention. 

And by the way, how great was Teresa Heinz Kerry last night?

(APPLAUSE)

My father and mother, Wallace and Bobbie Edwards, are also here tonight.

(APPLAUSE)

You taught me the values that I carry in my heart: faith, family, responsibility, opportunity for everyone.  You taught me that there‘s dignity and honor in a hard day‘s work.  You taught me to always look out for our neighbors, to never look down on anybody, and treat everybody with respect.

Those are the values that John Kerry and I believe in.  And nothing makes me prouder than standing with him in this campaign.  I am so humbled to be your candidate for vice president of the United States.

I want to talk about our next president.  For those who want to know what kind of leader he‘ll be, I want to take you back about 30 years.  When John Kerry graduated college, he volunteered for military service, volunteered to go to Vietnam, volunteered to captain a swiftboat, one of the most dangerous duties in Vietnam that you could have.  As a result, he was wounded, honored for his valor.

If you have any question about what he‘s made of, just spend three minutes with the men who served with him then and who stand with him now.  They saw up close what he‘s made of. 

(APPLAUSE)

They saw him reach into the river and pull one of his men to safety and save his life.  They saw him in the heat of battle make a decision in a split second to turn his boat around, drive it through an enemy position, and chase down the enemy to save his crew. Decisive, strong:  Is this not what we need in a commander in chief?

(APPLAUSE)

You know, we hear a lot of talk about values.  Where I come from, you don‘t judge somebody‘s values based upon how they use that word in a political ad.  You judge their values based upon what they‘ve spent their life doing.

So when a man volunteers to serve his country, the man volunteers and  puts his life on the line for others, that‘s a man who represents real American values.

(APPLAUSE)

This is a man who is prepared to keep the American people safe, to make America stronger at home and more respected in the world.

John is a man who knows the difference between right and wrong. He wants to serve you.  Your cause is his cause.  And that is why we must and we will elect him the next president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

You know, for the last few months, John‘s been traveling around the country talking about his positive, optimistic vision for America, talking about his plan to move this country in the right direction.

But what have we seen?  Relentless negative attacks against John.  So in the weeks ahead, we know what‘s coming, don‘t we?

AUDIENCE:  Yes.

... more negative attacks—aren‘t you sick of it?

AUDIENCE:  Yes.

They are doing all they can to take the campaign for the highest office in the land down the lowest possible road.

But this is where you come in:  Between now and November, you, the American people, you can reject the tired, old, hateful, negative politics of the past.  And instead you can embrace the politics of hope, the politics of what‘s possible because this is America, where everything is possible.

(APPLAUSE)

I am here tonight for a very simple reason:  because I love my country.  And I have every reason to love my country.  I have grown up in the bright light of America.

I grew up in a small town in rural North Carolina, a place called Robbins. 

My father, he worked in a mill all his life, and I still remember vividly the men and women who worked in that mill with him.  I can see them.  Some of them had lint in their hair; some of them had grease on their faces.  They worked hard, and they tried to put a little money away so that their kids and their grand-kids could have a better life.

The truth is, they‘re just like the auto workers, the office workers, the teachers and shop keepers on main streets all across this country.

My mother had a number of jobs.  She worked at the post office so she and my father could have health care.  She owned her own small business.  She refinished furniture to help pay for my education.

I have had such incredible opportunities in my life.  I was blessed to be the first person in my family to go to college.  I worked my way through, and I had opportunities beyond my wildest dreams.

And the heart of this campaign—your campaign, our campaign—is to make sure all Americans have exactly the same kind opportunities that I had no matter where you live, no matter who your family is, no matter what the color of your skin is.

(APPLAUSE)

This is the America we believe in.

(APPLAUSE)

I have spent my life fighting for the kind of people I grew up with. 

For two decades, I stood with kids and families against big HMOs and big insurance companies. 

When I got to the Senate, I fought those same fights against the Washington lobbyists and for causes like the Patients‘ Bill of Rights.

I stand here tonight ready to work with you and John to make America stronger.  And we have much work to do, because the truth is, we still live in a country where there are two different Americas...

(APPLAUSE)

... one, for all of those people who have lived the American dream and don‘t have to worry, and another for most Americans, everybody else who struggle to make ends meet every single day.  It doesn‘t have to be that way. 

We can build one America where we no longer have two health care systems:  one for families who get the best health care money can by, and then one for everybody else rationed out by insurance companies, drug companies, HMOs.

Millions of Americans have no health coverage at all.

It doesn‘t have to be that way.  We have a plan...

(APPLAUSE)

We have a plan that will offer all Americans the same health care that your senator has.  We can give you tax breaks to help you pay for your health care.  And when we‘re in office, we will sign a real patients‘ bill of rights into law so that you can make your own health care decisions.

(APPLAUSE)

We shouldn‘t have two public school systems in this country:  one for the most affluent communities, and one for everybody else.

None of us believe that the quality of a child‘s education should be controlled by where they live or the affluence of the community they live in.

It doesn‘t have to be that way.

We can build one school system that works for all our kids, gives them a chance to do what they‘re capable of doing. 

Our plan will reform our schools and raise standards.  We can give our schools the resources that they need.  We can provide incentives to put our best teachers in the subjects and the places where we need them the most.  And we can ensure that 3 million children have a safe place to go when they leave school in the afternoon.

We can do this together, you and I.

(APPLAUSE)

John Kerry and I believe that we shouldn‘t have two different economies in America:  one for people who are set for life, they know their kids and their grand-kids are going to be just fine; and then one for most Americans, people who live paycheck to paycheck.  You don‘t need me to explain this to you do you?

AUDIENCE:  No.

You know exactly what I‘m talking about.  Can‘t save any money, can you?

AUDIENCE:  No.

Takes every dime you make just to pay your bills.

And you know what happens if something goes wrong, if you have a child that gets sick, a financial problem, a layoff in the family—you go right off the cliff.  And when that happens, what‘s the first thing that goes?  Your dreams.  

It doesn‘t have to be that way.

We can strengthen and lift up your families.  Your agenda is our agenda.

So let me give you some specifics.

First, we can create good-paying jobs in this country again. We‘re going to get rid of tax cuts for companies who are outsourcing your jobs...

(APPLAUSE)

...  and, instead, we‘re going to give tax breaks to American companies that are keeping jobs right here in America.  

(APPLAUSE)

And we will invest in the jobs of the future and in the technologies and innovation to ensure that America stays ahead of the competition.  And we‘re going to do this because John and I understand that a job is about more than a paycheck; it‘s about dignity and self- respect. 

Hard work should be valued in this country, so we‘re going to reward work, not just wealth.

(APPLAUSE)

We don‘t want people to just get by; we want people to get ahead.

(APPLAUSE)

So let me give you some specifics about what we‘re going to do.

First, we‘re going to help you pay for your health care by having a tax break and health care reform that can save you up to $1,000 on your premiums. 

We‘re going to help you cover the rising costs of child care with a tax credit up to $1,000 so that your kids have a place to go when you‘re at work that they‘re safe and well taken care of. 

(APPLAUSE)

If your child—if your child wants to be the first in your family to go to college, we‘re going to give you a tax break on up to $4,000 in tuition.

And everyone...

(APPLAUSE)

And everybody listening here and at home is thinking one thing right now:  OK, how are you going to pay for it?  Right?

Well, let me tell you how we‘re going to pay for it.  And I want to be  very clear about this.  We are going to keep and protect the tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans -- 98 percent.  We‘re going to roll back—we‘re going to roll back the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.  And we‘re going to close corporate loopholes. 

(APPLAUSE)

We‘re going to cut government contractors and wasteful spending. We can move this country forward without passing the burden to our children and our grandchildren.

(APPLAUSE)

We can also do something about 35 million Americans who live in poverty every day.  And here‘s why we shouldn‘t just talk about, but do something about the millions of Americans who live in poverty: because it is wrong.  And we have a moral responsibility to lift those families up.

(APPLAUSE)

I mean, the very idea that in a country of our wealth and our prosperity, we have children going to bed hungry?  We have children who don‘t have the clothes to keep them warm?  We have millions of Americans who work full-time every day to support their families, working for minimum wage, and still live in poverty.  It‘s wrong.

(APPLAUSE)

These are men and women who are living up to their bargain. They‘re   working hard, they‘re supporting their families.  Their families are doing their part; it‘s time we did our part.

(APPLAUSE)

And that‘s what we‘re going to do—that‘s what we‘re going to do when John is in the White House, because we‘re going to raise the minimum wage, we‘re going to finish the job on welfare reform, and we‘re going to bring good-paying jobs to the places where we need them the most. 

And by doing all those things, we‘re going to say no forever to any American working full-time and living in poverty.  Not in our America, not in our America, not in our America.

(APPLAUSE)

Let me talk about—let me talk about why we need to build one America.

Because I, like many of you, I saw up close what having two Americas can do to our country.

From the time I was very young, I saw the ugly face of segregation and discrimination.  I saw young, African-American kids being sent upstairs in movie theaters. 

I saw “White only” signs on restaurant doors and luncheon counters.

I feel such an enormous personal responsibility when it comes to issues of race and equality and civil rights.

And I‘ve heard some discussions and debates around America about where and in front of what audiences we ought to talk about race and equality and civil rights.  I have an answer to that questions: Everywhere, everywhere, everywhere. 

This is not an African-American issue.  This is not a Latino issue. 

This is not an Asian-American issue.  This is an American issue.

It is about who we are, what our values are and what kind of country we live in.

(APPLAUSE)

AUDIENCE:  Everywhere, everywhere, everywhere, everywhere.

The truth is, the truth is that what John and I want, what all of us want if for our children and our grandchildren to be the first generations that grown up in an America that‘s no longer divided by race.  We must build one America.  We must be one America, strong and united for another very important reason:  because we are at war.

None of us will ever forget where we were on September the 11th. We all share the same terrible images, the towers falling in New York, the Pentagon in flames, a smoldering field in Pennsylvania.  We share a profound sadness for the nearly 3,000 lives that were lost.

And as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I know that we have to do more to fight the war on terrorism and keep the American people safe.  We can do that. 

We are approaching the third anniversary of September 11th, and one thing I can tell you:  When we‘re in office, it won‘t take three years to get the reforms in our intelligence that are necessary to keep the American people safe. 

(APPLAUSE)

We will do whatever it takes, as long as it takes, to make sure this never happens again in our America.

(APPLAUSE)

And when John is president, we will listen to the wisdom of the September 11th commission.  We will lead strong alliances.  We will safeguard and secure our weapons of mass destruction.  We will strengthen our homeland security, protect our ports, protect our chemical plants, and support our firefighters, police officers, EMTs. We will always...

(APPLAUSE)

We will always use our military might to keep the American people safe.

And we, John and I, we will have one clear unmistakable message for al Qaeda and these terrorists:  You cannot run.  You cannot hide. We will destroy you.

(APPLAUSE)

John understands personally about fighting in a war. And he knows what our brave men and women are going through right now in another war, the war in Iraq.

The human cost and the extraordinary heroism of this war, it surrounds us.  It surrounds us in our cities and our towns.  And we‘ll win this war because of the strength and courage of our own people.

Some of our friends and neighbors, they saw their last images in Baghdad.  Some took their last steps outside of Fallujah.  Some buttoned their uniform for the last time before they went out and saved their unit.

Men and women who used to take care of themselves, they now count on others to see them through the day.  They need their mother to tie their shoe, their husband to brush their hair, their wife‘s arm to help them across the room.

The stars and stripes wave for them.  The word “hero” was made for them.  They are the best and the bravest.  And they will never be left behind. 

(APPLAUSE)

You understand that.  And they deserve a president who understands that on the most personal level what they‘ve gone through, what they‘ve given and what they‘ve given up for their country.

To us, the real test of patriotism is how we treat the men and women who have put their lives on the line to protect our values. 

(APPLAUSE)

And let me tell you, the 26 million veterans in this country will not have to wonder when we‘re in office whether they‘ll have health care next week or next year.  We will take care of them because they have taken care of us.

(APPLAUSE)

But today, our great United States military is stretched thin.  We‘ve got more than 140,000 troops in Iraq, almost 20,000 in Afghanistan.  And I visited the men and women there, and we‘re praying as they try to give that country hope.

Like all of those brave men and women, John put his life on the line for our country.  He knows that when authority is given to a president, much is expected in return. 

That‘s why we will strengthen and modernize our military.  We will double our Special Forces.  We will invest in the new equipment and technologies so that our military remains the best equipped and best prepared in the world.  This will make our military stronger. It‘ll make sure that we can defeat any enemy in this new world.

But we can‘t do this alone.  We have got to restore our respect in the world to bring our allies to us and with us. 

(APPLAUSE)

It is how we won the Cold War.  It is how we won two World Wars. And it is how we will build a stable Iraq.

(APPLAUSE)

With a new president who strengthens and leads our alliances, we can get NATO to help secure Iraq.  We can ensure that Iraq‘s neighbors, like Syria and Iran, don‘t stand in the way of a democratic Iraq.  We can help Iraq‘s economy by getting other countries to forgive their enormous debt and participate in the reconstruction.  

We can do this for the Iraqi people.  We can do it for our own soldiers.  And we will get this done right.

A new president will bring the world to our side, and with it a stable Iraq, a real chance for freedom and peace in the Middle East, including a safe and secure Israel.

And John and I will bring the world together...

(APPLAUSE)

John and I will bring the world together to face the most dangerous threat we have:  the possibility of terrorists getting their hands on a  chemical, biological weapon or nuclear weapon.

With our credibility restored, we can work with other nations to secure stockpiles of the world‘s most dangerous weapons and safeguard this extraordinarily dangerous material.  We can finish the job and secure the loose nukes in Russia.  We can close the loophole in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty that allows rogue nations access to the tools they need to develop these weapons.

That‘s how we can address the new threats we face.  That‘s how we can keep you safe.  And that‘s how we can restore America‘s respect around the world.

And together, we will ensure that the image of America—the image all of us love—America, this great shining light, this beacon of freedom, democracy and human rights that the world looks up to, is always lit.

(APPLAUSE)

AUDIENCE:  Edwards.  Edwards.  Edwards.

And the truth is—the truth is, that every child, every family in America will be safer and more secure if they grow up in a world where America is once again looked up to and respected. That is the world we can create together.

Tonight, as we celebrate in this hall, somewhere in America, a mother sits at the kitchen table.  She can‘t sleep because she‘s worried she can‘t pay her bills.  She‘s working hard trying to pay her rent, trying to feed her kids, but she just can‘t catch up.

It didn‘t use to be that way in her house.  Her husband was called up in the Guard.  Now he‘s been in Iraq for over a year.  They thought he was going to come home last month, but now he‘s got to stay longer.

She thinks she‘s alone.  But tonight in this hall and in your homes, you know what?  She‘s got a lot of friends. 

(APPLAUSE)

We want her to know that we hear her.  

It is time to bring opportunity and an equal chance to her door.a

We‘re here to make America stronger at home so that she can get ahead. 

And we‘re here to make America respected in the world again so that we can bring him home.  And American soldiers don‘t have to fight this war in Iraq or this war on terrorism alone.

So, when you return home some night, you might pass a mother on her way to work the late shift, you tell her:  Hope is on the way.

(APPLAUSE)

When your brother calls and says he‘s spending his entire life at the office and he still can‘t get ahead, you tell him:  Hope is on the way.

When your parents call and tell you their medicine‘s going through the roof, they can‘t keep up, you tell them:  Hope is on the way.

And when your neighbor calls and says her daughter‘s worked hard and she want‘s to go to college, you tell her:  Hope is on the way.

And when your son or daughter, who is serving this country heroically in Iraq calls, you tell them:  Hope is on the way.

When you wake up and you‘re sitting at the kitchen table with your kids, and you‘re talking about the great possibilities in America, your kids should know that John and I believe, to our core, that tomorrow can be better than today.

Like all of us, I have learned a lot of lessons in my life. 

Two of the most important are that, first, there will always be heartache and struggle; we can‘t make it go away.  But the second is that people of good and strong will can make a difference. 

One is a sad lesson, and the other is inspiring. 

We are Americans and we choose to be inspired.  We choose hope over despair, possibilities over problems, optimism over cynicism.  We choose to do what‘s right even when those around us say, “You can‘t do that,” we choose to be inspired, because we know that we can do better, because this is America where everything is still possible.

(APPLAUSE)

What we believe—what John Kerry and I believe is that you should never look down on anybody.  We ought to lift people up.  We don‘t believe in tearing people apart.  We believe in bringing them together.  What we believe—what I believe—is that the family you‘re born into and the color of your skin in our America should never control your destiny.

Join us in this cause.

(APPLAUSE)

Let‘s make America stronger at home and more respected in the world.  Let‘s ensure that once again, in our one America—our one America—tomorrow will always be better than today.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(MUSIC) 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I‘m back here at Faneuil Hall with Jon Meacham of “Newsweek.”  He‘s not only an editor of “Newsweek,” but a great author of American and international politics.  His great best-seller was called “Franklin and Winston,” one of my—in fact, my favorite book on politics.

Jon, my only answer to that speech tonight was, bingo. 

JON MEACHAM, “NEWSWEEK”:  Exactly. 

You just saw why the Democrats have only won with a Southerner on the ticket since 1944. 

MATTHEWS:  Why is that? 

MEACHAM:  Because Southerners speak the language of values, the language that I think resonates much more in the middle of the country, in the broad base of the country, the broad whole of the country, than anybody else.  That‘s not a speech you would have heard the Democratic Party from about 1968 until 1992. 

MATTHEWS:  Why do you have to be a Southerner to be a hopeful liberal? 

MEACHAM:  I think because we lost a big one, and we still came out of it hopeful in many ways.  Now, I say that as a prejudiced Tennessean.

But he talks about the best and bravest who won‘t be left behind.  He talks about this great shining light.  He says tomorrow is better than today.  Those are all Ronald Reagan‘s lines.  Those are all kind of big California optimism or a kind of Southern hopefulness about the essential goodness of the world.  He says that.  He says...

MATTHEWS:  Did you notice some things about the speech?  First of all, it had none of the negatives that people associate with the Democratic Party, nothing about raising taxes. 

MEACHAM:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  You saw—you picked out Walter Mondale in the audience;

20 years ago, he said, let‘s raise taxes, which was the premiere statement of the entire convention. 

MEACHAM:  And he lost 49 states.

MATTHEWS:  He talked about a concern for veterans, a concern for soldiers, about strength, about we are going to track down the terrorists and catch them and kill them, strong language. 

All positives.  This speech was all dessert. 

MEACHAM:  It was all dessert and it could have been a Republican speech in many ways, which is...

MATTHEWS:  I thought it was a liberal Reagan speech.  But you tell me what you think. 

MEACHAM:  I really think that this is about values.  This is about the kind of—when he talks about the kind of country you want to build and be one America, that‘s a bipartisan speech.  The negative case here is, no platitude was left behind here.  That‘s...

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go to Chris Jansing.  She‘s on the floor right now—

Chris.

CHRIS JANSING, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hey, I will tell you, the idea here was to fire up the base.

And, in that regard, John Edwards hit a home run.  This place is packed absolutely up to the rafters, Chris.  In fact, it was quite a while ago that the fire marshal closed down the doors.  This is a smaller hall than the Democrats usually have.  And there is not an inch to move around.  And I can tell you, I am not seeing people leaving.  They are staying here. 

I spent a good bit of the day in the North Carolina delegation.

The people who know John Edwards well and who have talked to him the last several days say he felt great.  And I saw most of the speech with your good buddy Ben Affleck sitting next to me.  And he said pretty much what you said:  This guy is on—Chris.

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you, Chris Jansing.

I want to complete the thought here.  I invited you on the show tonight because you are a great historian.  And I want you to put this in perspective.  I‘m looking for one of those Rex Reed movie reviews from you.  I want you to give the tag line on the speech tonight.  How many stars, in five?

MEACHAM:  Four and a half. 

MATTHEWS:  Four and a half stars?  Why? 

MEACHAM:  Has to be, because he spoke the language of values.  He spoke American, in that great term.  He talked about a country where we could all come together, a country that was going to be strong, going to be respected. 

Now, this was not exactly a policy-heavy speech.  So there‘s going to be a lot of places for Republicans to say, OK, that‘s wonderful.  As you are saying, it‘s dessert.  But we‘ve got to put—you got to be on the treadmill and you have to actually do it. 

But to me, the interesting thing here is, the Democratic Party of Franklin Roosevelt was an optimistic party.  The Democratic Party of John Kennedy was an optimistic party.  The Democratic Party of Bill Clinton, more or less, was an optimistic party.  Those were Democratic Parties that won and they weren‘t afraid to talk about building a brighter country, about being about big ideas.

And Edwards did that.  And I don‘t think the contrast with Dick Cheney could be any starker.  You have—in Cheney, you have someone who represents an important but a different strain of American political thought.  He is a—in many ways, a Straussian.  He‘s one of Plato‘s men of silver.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MEACHAM:  He believes that he is a guard on the wall, looking out. 

And is dark about it. 

I think what Edwards wants us to believe—and this remains to be seen whether we are going to buy it nationally or not—that he and Kerry will be guards on that wall, but will be optimistic about it. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, I have said this before, because I think it‘s a great reference point for those of us who have lived in big cities.  When you are on the subway at midnight coming home at night and you don‘t have any friends around you and you‘re all alone and you‘re worried that somebody might be a criminal around you, you want to see a big tough cop with a big neck, a strong looking guy.

MEACHAM:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think a very modest fellow like this, with tremendous hope and optimism, whose life has worked out the right way, who did get to go to N.C. State and the University of North Carolina Law School, and his daughter is just finishing Princeton, and he has got this great marriage which has lasted 27 years, do you think the American people say, yes, that‘s my America or they say, well, that‘s just to me a greeting card from Hallmark?  That‘s just the way it‘s supposed to be. 

MEACHAM:  No, I do completely disagree.  I think this guy...

MATTHEWS:  I‘m asking.  You can‘t disagree with me, because I‘m asking you.

(LAUGHTER)

MEACHAM:  Sorry.

MATTHEWS:  I‘m being mean now.

MEACHAM:  I think the Edwards family, when you look at this family, this tableau tonight, these are self-made people. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Right.  Both lawyers. 

MEACHAM:  They are both lawyers.  They came—they—more Americans can see themselves following the path of the Edwards family to prosperity and security in the country a hell of a lot more than can see being a Winthrop descendant or coming from a very exotic European background.

So what we are talking about here is Edwards as part of a package. 

Kerry is the tough cop, presumably. 

END   

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