August 31, 2004 | 12:21 a.m. ET

Will ED Gillespie let Ralph Nader speak at the Republican National Convention? (Joe Trippi)

Okay, so the San Francisco Chronicle has reported that 10 percent of all checks over $1,000 to the Nader campaign have also contributed to the Bush/Cheney campaign and Republican causes.

Business Week, and the Boston Globe have reported that Dick Egan a Bush Ranger who raised over $200,000 for the Bush/Cheney campaign has now maxed out to Nader as well.

And in Oregon the Oregon chapter of Citizens for a Sound Economy led nationally by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey funded a organizational program to get Nader on the Oregon ballot.  The chapter’s phone banks recruited Republicans to sign up for Nader with the following message:

"Nader could peel away a lot of Kerry support in Oregon ... Liberals are trying to unite (but) we could divide this base of support" by signing up for Nader”

In Michigan officials of the Michigan Republican State Party turned in 43,000 signatures to put Ralph Nader on the state’s ballot – note 30,000 signatures are required to get on the ballot in Michigan.

In any case I guess it was only a matter of time— but now there is a growing petition drive and groundswell demanding that Ralph Nader be allowed to address his Republican supporters at the Republican National Convention.

Will GOP Chair Gillespie do the right thing and give Ralph a speaking slot?

Will Ralph Nader realize there is a reason the Republicans are working so hard on his behalf?

Will Phil ever let me blog again?

Stay tuned and please let me know what you think at JTrippi@MSNBC.com.

August 30, 2004 | 11:11 p.m. ET

Michael Moore’s big smile tonight wasn’t defensive, nor pasted on, nor panicky. He shouldn’t have just smiled, he should’ve sent John McCain a check.

For the thousands inside Madison Square Garden and the millions of Republican faithful watching on television, John McCain's skewering of Moore tonight was a moment of revenge, served per the old Italian saying— the dish that is best enjoyed cold.

And it just sent another weekend-full of movie-goers to see “Fahrenheit 9/11,” put another million or two into Moore’s pockets, and revivified a controversy that had begun to deflate behind the Swift Boat ads and the President’s sudden reversal of field towards the impossibility of “winning” a war on terror.

It is a lesson unlearned by generation after generation of politicians of all stripes, religious leaders of every denomination, and moralists of any other field: If you want to belittle something in the media, ignore it.

Instead John McCain just gave it a plug.

The dream of the critic, whether it’s those who blasted Mel Gibson’s “The Passion” or Moore’s uneven kinda-documentary, is to make people un-see it. It is a natural enough human emotion, just like trying to hold your broken arm back into place. And it has yet to work.

The headlines of McCain’s speech— his ringing endorsement of his frequent adversary, his overarching dismissal of international protest to much of the nation’s proactive policies— were all torn up by the one line “so good I’ll use it again.”

The applause had barely crested when the networks all replayed the soundbite. They’ll play it all day tomorrow. The newspapers, no matter their political leanings, will play it heavier than the rest of McCain’s comments, or any other event of the opening night of the Convention. Only the most superlative of efforts of subsequent speakers, the President included, will override it as the note of the Republican gathering.

John McCain put Michael Moore back into the Presidential Campaign.

It probably felt indescribably good as he said it. It probably will so tomorrow morning. And then next weekend’s box office figures will come out.

E-mail Keith at KOlbermann@MSNBC.com

Watch out for 'Bloggermann,' Keith's own blog, coming soon.

August 30, 2004 | 10:35 p.m. ET

Live from West Virginia, (Tom Llamas, campaign reporter on the road with Senator John Edwards)

While my fellow MSNBC Campaign Reporters are livin’ it up in Nantucket (Beck Diamond covering Kerry) and New York City (Priya David covering Cheney, Felix Schein covering Democrats rapid response) I’ve just ordered take out from the Outback Steakhouse in Beckley, West Virginia. 

No Rules Just Right.   At least that’s what the take-out bag says.

So why am I in Beckley?  I cover Senator John Edwards’s campaign and West Virginia is a battleground state.

President Bush won here by 6 percentage points in 2000, and Democrats think they have a shot in November.  The Democratic vice presidential nominee has stopped in this state twice in the less than two weeks.  West Virginia only has 5 electoral votes, but both parties are saying this is going to be a tight race and 5 points could tip the balance. 

Speaking of tipping…the best part about the hotel we’re staying at is that you don’t have to tip the hotel bartender.  That’s because there is no bartender.  The hotel has two tapped kegs in the lobby and hotel guests can fill up for 69 cents a beer.

It gets better.  It’s all on the honor system. 

I wish I could go down and have a brew, but I’m too busy Hardbloggin.

Click here to react to Tom Llamas' post: TLlamas@MSNBC.com.

Click here to watch the SNL-type video the RNC used to introduce their speakers tonight.

August 30, 2004 | 9:25 p.m. ET

What the delegates are talking about (Felix Schein, campaign reporter)

As promised, here's a little view into what's going on inside Madison Square Garden and what the delegates are talking about.

Now that the Republican Party Platform has officially been adopted , many of the delegates found themselves answering questions from reporters asking if this convention might be too moderate, or, if they're disappointed more conservative themes aren't being talked about here in New York.

Three members of Florida's delegation I spoke with didn't think so. They agreed this convention feels moderate but they all thought it was important for the Republicans to pitch a big tent, especially in their home state where many of the voters they need to win are less conservative. That's part of the reason why we'll hear from Rudy Giuliani and John McCain tonight.

Interestingly, Karl Rove, the man many credit with being the guru behind the President's re-election strategy and a man who once claimed you needed to fire up the base to win, was criss-crossing the convention floor. From one interview to the next he was defending the themes of the convention, a sign that we'll be talking much more about the speeches here. (Click to watch Rove's interview with Tom Brokaw.)

Outside the Garden, far less moderate tones are on display. A few protestors can still be found, but for the most part the cabbies are the ones expressing their frustration. Bad business and bad traffic make for bad moods.

E-mail Felix on his blog: FSchein@MSNBC.com

August 30, 2004 | 7:48 p.m. ET

Of easy jobs and bloody feet and Manchurian Candidates (Keith Olbermann)

Easiest job covering the Republicans? Mine.

Left the apartment at 3:30, hit the subway, back in the apartment at precisely 6:52. And I had hung around for dinner.

Mind you, I had to write all of it before I left home, and it’s sticky enough in our little corner of the old haunts of the late New York Herald-Tribune to get your suit steam-cleaned while you’re wearing it. But other than that, this is political reporting at its finest (from the reporter’s perspective, mind you).

The weather seemed apt analogy for the Republicans’ first big night. Storm clouds veering in from every direction, all day, yet not a drop of rain (although thunder booms in the distance as I write). And inside the Garden, the curious attempt to sell a hard-line anti-Stem Cell Research, anti-Gay marriage platform by sending out John McCain and Rudy Giuliani on the first night.

The L.A. Times did a great piece on McCain’s tightrope act and its implications for 2008, and Andrea Mitchell from the Garden, and Dee Dee Myers and Craig Crawford, on-set with me, amplified. (Link subscription only, but free.)

Consensus: he’s going to be a good team player for the next 63 days and set himself up for the nomination four years hence.

It’s two, two, two Conventions in one.

***

Bo Derek, the Janeane Garafolo of the Right, was supposed to guest this afternoon, but cancelled out at 5 PM (not good when you’re due on at 5:15).

The details were never shared with us, but the headline version of the excuse was, if nothing else, original: Her feet were bleeding. We’ve heard of political figures waving the “bloody shirt” before, but never the “bloody shoes.”

***

If the Convention isn’t enough political meat for you, you may still be tempted to go see Jonathan Demme’s re-make of “ The Manchurian Candidate.”

Don’t.

I’ll spare you the observations about the slack pace compared to the original, and even about why Frank Sinatra was a better actor than Denzel Washington. Suffice to say that the intriguing idea of the new version, that there’s a nexus between Corporate America and the political upside of Counter-Terrorism, was completely wasted because every implausible plot turn rang sourly.

In John Frankenheimer’s original, filled with wit and a burlesque version of Joe McCarthy, those implausibilities were rendered perfectly believable.

And spare yourself the guessing game as to who Meryl Streep based her character on. It wasn’t Hillary Clinton and it wasn’t Karen Hughes and it wasn’t Peggy Noonan (“I know Peggy Noonan, Senator, and you’re no Peggy Noonan!”) It was clearly Dianne Wiest’s D.A. character from “Law & Order.”

Thoughts, write to KOlbermann@MSNBC.com

Watch tomorrow's ' Countdown to the Convention' at 5 p.m. ET. Line-up includes David Gergen, Craig Crawford, Will Durst, Mort Sahl (yes, the Mort Sahl). Also, part two of our guide to NYC for visiting Republicans; and part two of our "Five things that really don't matter about the presidential campaign."

Keith Olbermann's blog, 'Bloggermann' is coming soon!

August 30, 2004 | 6:20 p.m. ET

MSNBC.com

Here's a picture of the confetti that's going to fall on Madison Square Garden on Thursday (as Chris tried to show on last night's show).

The show is in progress! Coming up is Sen. Bill Frist, Charlie Cook, our all-star panel...

Guests, of course, happen in between all the big speeches of the night, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. John McCain, and former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani.

There's rumor of rain falling over NYC... stay tuned to see if Hardball folks stay dry. (Hey, maybe you'll catch a glimpse of the MSNBC rain ponchos.)

Keep blogging!

August 30, 2004 | 4:55 p.m. ET

The champions of the west (David Shuster)

One of the reasons I love political conventions so much is that nobody looks at you funny if you want to wear a silly hat and argue over politics. Naturally, with delegates from 50 states and a couple of territories, there are arguments over other timely matters as well.  Last night, I found a couple of conventioneers discussing college football and "arguing" over everything from the "West coast offense" to the "best college fight song."  As a Michigan grad, I  jumped in faster than you can sing "Hail to the Victors." I pointed out that John Phillips Sousa called the Michigan Victors "the greatest college fight song ever written."  I was met with protests and an off-key rendition of Notre Dame's fight song.  (Michigan-Notre Dame meet on Sept. 11 on NBC.)

Anyway, I've been asking a few colleagues today to sing their alma mater's fight song... and it seems to prove that only a few schools are worthy of any mention in this argument.  My field producer in NY, Greg Ebben, went to Boston College (a.k.a Doug Flutie's school).  "For Boston, for Boston, we sing our proud refrain."  That's as far as Greg could remember.  And he thought the "our" in that first line could in fact be a "your." Strike BC off the list. 

Next came Joe Trippi, a proud graduate of San Jose State University.  " The Spartans," as Trippi quickly added.  (Not to be confused with the kids who can't get in to college and attend Michigan State, my editorial comment, not his.)  Anyway, Trippi couldn't remember a single line or melody from the San Jose fight song.   He knew the football team used to be great and they were coached by John Elway's dad.  But he couldn't remember the song.  Please scratch San Jose State (and Joe Trippi) from the list. 

Next came NBC runner Jessica Grothues,  Rutgers class of 2004.  First, she put her head in her hands, then, she started writing furiously in her notebook... then she said, "Upstream red team, red team upstream, rah rah Rutgers rah."  She wasn't sure if that was correct and began searching the university web site. Then she called a friend to confirm.  Please strike Rutgers from the list.  (Jessica says she is a big Rutgers fan and "doesn't appreciate" this blog.)

My point is that only a few schools have a fight song that is revered by their students and fans— Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, USC, UCLA and perhaps a few others. (Maybe even MSU, whose melody I could sing in my sleep but with words that I can not print in a family- oriented blog.)  As for all the rest of you college football fans, stick to arguments about the team and about politics... because when it comes to fight songs... you are out of our league. 

"Hail to the victors valiant, hail to the conquering heros, hail hail to Michigan the leaders and best.  Hail to the Victors valiant, hail to the conquering heros, hail hail to Michigan the champions of the west."

Comments/questions/bets about the college football season... DShuster@MSNBC.com


August 30, 2004 | 4:09 p.m. ET

What about the deficit? (Joe Trippi)

Okay, I admit this is my first Republican Convention, and so maybe my expectations are a little out of wack.  But I’ve got to tell you I am surprised at how little debate or discussion is taking place regarding the federal deficit among the Republicans gathered here.

How can the party that bills itself as fiscally conservative not have anything to say about a structural deficit that many economists now believe is impossible to grow out of, and will take cuts in programs or higher taxes to bring the nation’s fiscal house in order?

I thought I would find someone here, maybe a Pat Buchanan, who would be appalled at a Republican Administration that has taken the largest surplus in history and turned it into the largest deficit in history— all in less than four years.  But not a word from anyone. I’ll be interested to see if there is any reference to the nation’s fiscal woes in any of the speeches at this convention. 

To be fair, I am working on a "Trippi’s Take" column that talks about how both Kerry and Bush have fallen short on taking on the deficit and why that is the case.  But the fact remains George Bush is seeking re-election, the nation’s bank balance has gone from the black into the red on his watch.  You would think he or his party would make a case at this convention for how they intend to get us out of this fiscal mess. 

And if they do not, will the last fiscal conservative at this convention please turn off the lights?

React to Joe's post: JTrippi@MSNBC.com

August 30, 2004 | 2:42 p.m. ET

Getting here is half the fun (Andrea Mitchell)

Today's adventure was a switch in the press entrance, but only after hoofing it three blocks in the wrong direction. Then surrendering my umbrella, after having been told fold-up nonpointy umbrellas are okay. Then getting trapped in the wrong escalator tower (no access to our workspace).

The rules change by the minute, but no one knows why. The Garden, home to three previous conventions I've covered (in '76, '80 and '92) resembles no event, political or otherwise, any of us have ever seen.

New York is an armed camp. Street closures change by the minute.  But inside the hermetically sealed convention, you'd never know what is happening on the streets. 

I talked to a Florida delegate, Lt. Cmdr. John Capra (Navy reserves), just back from seven months in Iraq after being wounded by an IED. Funny, Lt. Capra wasn't at all surprised that people could have differing recollections of a battlefield incident from thirty years ago and thinks the Swiftees should be focusing on real issues. Standing with him on the floor, I wondered, what would his famous grandfather, the legendary Frank Capra, think of the way politicians run contemporary campaigns? Mr. Smith Goes to a 527?

Click here to react to this post: AMitchell@MSNBC.com

August 30, 2004 | 1:17 p.m. ET

When I wasn't on TV last night (Joe Trippi)

My boss Phil (the crazed baseball fan) came over to the MSNBC work trailer at Herald Square late afternoon yesterday and it wasn’t pretty.   

He made it clear in no uncertain terms that I wasn’t going to be on any of last night’s shows.    And that if I didn’t shape up, he was even going to start blogging himself. All because he still doesn’t like my haircut.  

Then he actually started to beg innocent bystanders around our Herald Square set for baseball scores.  I mean I was there answering people’s questions, talking about the convention and all of a sudden Phil steps in and asks if anyone has any baseball scores. People just looked at him stunned and shook their heads no.

In any case knowing I now had the “night off” I wandered over to a place called “The Tank” where a lot of the bloggers who were not accredited for the Republican are hanging out and doing “street blogging” since they can’t get into the convention.

I picked up a blogger t-shirt that I plan on wearing on the air tonight (if Phil relents and puts me on).

I’ll be taking a serious look at what I make of events here at the Republican Convention right here at Hardblogger throughout the day today along with the rest of the MSNBC family.  So come back often to check things out.

As always, please let me know what you are thinking at JTrippi@msnbc.com.

By the way, for those of you of you who have e-mailed me curious about the change in e-mail address— I wanted an address that only received your comments and nothing else so I could actually read them in context to a specific post, and its working great!

August 30, 2004 | 12:02 p.m. ET

Delegates make it interesting (Felix Schein, campaign reporter)

Good Morning Hardbloggers. After weeks of preview, the big day for the Republicans has finally arrived, meaning the lady with the massive elephant earings I saw in the airport can finally show them off, and her sidekick with the American flag cowboy hat can introduce a new fashion must-have to this trendy city.

We don't talk much about the delegates leading up to conventions like this but there is little question they're what make these events colorful and entertaining. So, over the course of the next few days I'll do my best to bring you some of their stories and get them involved in our blog. Maybe some of you have some friends here I could look for?

I am on my way to Madison Square Garden right now and will check in with you from there.

E-mail Felix at FSchein@MSNBC.com

August 30, 2004 | 10:25 a.m. ET

P for Protestor (John Lichman, the Hardblogger jogger )

John Lichman
Today's blog is brought to you by the letter P, for Protester. They march through the streets on bikes, scooters, and their own two feet. They shout and scream, proclaiming everything from "Bush Sucks!" to "Chris Matthews Sucks!" (Although personally, I think they say that to all the major news on-air talent they pass by, hoping for some glimmer of fame.) 

NBC reported 120,000 people waving banners, and at least 968 of them carried haunting coffins along Fashion Avenue .  I watched most of it on a television in the bowels of the Garden, waiting by the brand new RF Ready Room-now with a tougher entrance policy; one that just happens not to like me.

Walking around the convention floor, I couldn't help but notice how much smaller it seemed to the Fleet Center. My new runner-associate, Colin, remarked that the delegates were arranged in alphabetical order. After a brief glance about, I corrected him. They're arranged according to "battleground" states with Ohio and Pennsylvania being the closest to the stage. Also, the performance "pit" for bands is a nifty addition, which the rest of you will see tonight. I imagine Giuliani rising from the pit, belting out "New York, New York." C'mon, I spend most of my day underground. I'm bound to be a little crazy.

On a final note, and one that goes back to today's blog "letter of the day," I found a special pride in watching the DC Green Party "Dragon of Self Determination" burn outside a Sbarro's. One part had to do with a Hardball guest in early August named Adam Itinger, a member of the DC Green Party, who spoke about making the dragon just for the convention. Another part does with the infamous Hot Chocolate City, as it's also called, being where I grew up. Was it a metaphor for DC never getting the statehood it so deserves? Was it a sign of things to come with the protesters showing more and more of their dissent? Or was it merely one guy being an idiot and throwing his cigarette on top of a paper machete dragon? Either way, New York is hot enough for anything to be set on fire. Just a matter of what'll make those sparks.

John is what you TV people call a "runner." His job is essentially, is to do a myriad of tasks and provide support for the 'Hardball' producers. You'll be hearing from him all week as he jogs back and forth from the 'Hardball' set in Herald Square, and Madison Square Garden. Click here to read John's last blog. You'll be hearing from our Harblogger jogger everyday!

August 29, 2004 | 10:25 p.m. ET

Peaceful protest? (David Shuster)

Thanks to all of you who have been writing us e-mails .  I would like to offer a special thanks to all of you who wrote to tell me I was a "moron" for declaring on this blog a few days ago that the protestors would be "99% peaceful." 

Let's see... the NYC police announced 134 arrests today. I estimated the crowd size to be "well over" 250,000. But, for the sake of you mathematicians from Michigan State University... let's make it easy for you and say "100,000."  134/100,000 equals a little over 1/10 of 1 percent. So, the crowd was 99.9 percent peaceful today.  Humble pie, my friends? 

Keep the e-mails coming: DShuster@MSNBC.com.

P.S. The protestors on Tuesday don't have permits, and I'm told that police are concerned about groups planning unspecified "street blocking actions" that day.

Click here to read some of the e-mails you sent in today— including ones on the show, the arrest of Joshua Kinberg, and on Minerva (see Ron Reagan's post below).

August 29, 2004 | 10:05 p.m. ET

View from the set, earlier today

Dave McCoy / Brian Harkenrider
Protestors Demonstrate On Eve Of RNC
Joe Raedle  /  Getty Images
 Demonstrators carry mock coffins drapped with flags as they walk past Madison Square Garden during a protest march August 29, 2004 in New York City, New York.

Click here for a cool slideshow from MSNBC.com.

August 29, 2004 | 6:12 p.m. ET

Joshua Kinberg of Bikes Against Bush guest-blogged for Hardblogger, following his release from arrest, which happened while he was demonstrating his invention to Ron Reagan. Watch Reagan's interview with Kinberg. Below is his account of what happened, and what "The Tombs" was like.

Released from the "Tombs" after police arrested me (Joshua Kinberg of Bikes Against Bush)

I’m now sitting in the MSNBC trailer at Herald Sq., NYC, with Ron Reagan and Joe Trippi after spending 24 hours in the “Tombs” with several hundred Critical Mass cyclists, who were arrested the night before.

I was arrested while Ron was interviewing me about my invention— a bicycle that prints text messages on the street in water-soluble chalk. While we were conducting the interview, the police stopped me and asked for my ID. After I produced identification, the police waited for their sergeant to arrive before placing me under arrest without stating the charge. I was doing nothing more than describing my invention to the media and explaining my disagreements with the Bush administration.

When I arrived in the Tombs, I was placed in a cell with around 30 other cyclists. They had spent the previous night in a location they were affectionately calling “Lil’ Gitmo,” a makeshift detention center on the West Side piers converted from a former bus depot. Lil’ Gitmo had cells sectioned off with chain link fence and razor wire, and a floor covered in motor oil, transmission fluid, and other toxic chemicals. The cyclists detained there were forced to sleep on this hazardous floor wearing nothing more than bicycling shorts and t-shirts. Consequently, several developed serious skin rashes the following day. After 36 hours most of the cyclists had been released with a pending court date. Several had been arrested when specifically following police directions to exit the peaceful bike ride. Others had not been part of Critical Mass, but had simply been on the streets with a bicycle at the wrong time.

I was released after 24 hours in detention with a court date set for Friday. Unfortunately, all my equipment— bicycle, laptop, cell phone, and custom designed electronics— has been confiscated. Thus, the Bikes Against Bush performance, where I would accept and print messages sent from web users, is likely to be cancelled. A volunteer lawyer from the National Lawyers Guild is confident that my case will be dismissed on grounds of the First Amendment, but we will have to wait until Friday to see. A video of the arrest recorded and edited by Yury Gitman has been posted online ( BitTorrent), and the story of my arrest has already been blogged on SlashDot, BoingBoing, Kottke, and JuliaSet. (What's a BitTorrent?)

August 29, 2004 | 5:47 p.m. ET

Correcting Joe and David (Ron Reagan)

After two weeks of Olympic coverage from Greece, Joe Trippi and David Shuster still don't know their Greek gods and godesses. Astounding! Minerva, the goddess of wisdom? If I remember correctly (and, admitedly, I may not), the goddess smarty-pants was actually Athena, sprung fully-endowed from the brow of Zeus. Of course, these denizens of Olympus sometimes used pseudonyms when hobnobbing with mere mortals so this whole business could warrent further investigation. But I believe Minerva was actually the goddess in charge of dairy fat— another fixation of Joe and David.

Stay tuned...

E-mail Ron at RReagan@MSNBC.com

August 29, 2004 | 4:44 p.m. ET

Busted on Broadway (Roland Woerner, Ron Reagan's producer)

While shooting a story Saturday on what individual protesters have to say during the RNC, Ron Reagan got up close and personal with the New York City Police.  Joshua Kinberg of Bikes Against Bush was explaining how his high-tech bicycle works on Broadway near Canal Street.

Basically, its a skywriter for the sidewalk. People can email him messages via his website and his bike prints them on the sidewalk with a chalk spray. Halfway through the interview, police arrived to check out Joshua and his bike.  They didn't seem to care that Joshua is a free speech advocate and his invention is harmless.

Check out the video of what happened next tonight on 'Hardball.'  And we're hoping Joshua joins Ron live on the set to update the story after his night in a NYC jail.

React to this post on RReagan@MSNBC.com

August 29, 2004 | 3:39 p.m. ET

Inside the Hardball trailer (Joe Trippi)

So I get to New York and it turns out the MSNBC work trailer at Herald Square is only about twice the size of Christine’s dorm room .  The difference is Christine only has one roommate and there have to be at least 20 members of the MSNBC team working inside this trailer I am blogging from right now.

Its kind of surreal, just outside the trailer thousands and thousands of protesters are marching, and bicycling by , while inside producers and reporters (not your standard quiet types) are feverishly fighting for a place to sit and get some work done. I am not sure if it's more hectic inside or out.

All I know is you don’t dare step away from your table and PC for a minute— or someone else nabs it from you.  I can’t tell you what I had to do to get this space away from David Shuster… something about a promise to lead a tribute to Minerva the Greek goddess of wisdom.  Shuster is a complicated guy who is into this kind of stuff— one must remember that when last Shuster and I locked horns it was over his amazing tribute to the Ohio Butter Cow. Minerva in her wisdom never foresaw the wonders of 2000 pounds of butter— thus the Greeks to the best of our knowledge never had a Butter Cow god or goddess—  but please don’t break this news to Shuster.

So talk about surreal, I am about to step out of the trailer and into my first Republican Convention.  My first encounter was pretty encouraging. The train I was on to NY last night was full of Republican Delegates and honestly the entire discussion among delegates in my coach class car was about stem cell research— about the good it could do— and about how much they disagreed with their party and its thinking on it.  One delegate proclaimed that this might be the last time he’s allowed to attend his party’s convention because he intends to “make a stink” about this.

So if you are in New York come down to Herald Square and hang out with all the MSNBC gang.  And if you are in New York or not, drop me an email and let me know what you think.   Otherwise I’ll be on the Convention After Hours show midnight to 2 a.m. ET starting tomorrow night!

Reach Joe Trippi at JTrippi@MSNBC.com

Read Joe Trippi's last column, "Trippi's Take" on why violent protests against the GOP or President Bush will only hurt John Kerry.

August 29, 2004 | 2:40 p.m. ET

Hello from Herald Square (David Shuster)

I've been covering demonstrations and protest marches for 14 years.  And while I know some of you may not like this, I'm certain the marchers here in New York have exceeded, by a large number, the 250,000 that had been predicted.  The parade of demonstrators walking along the route is simply jammed.   And it's been that way for the last two hours.  Among the more creative anti-war signs was a picture of Jenna Bush in combat fatigues that said "Let Jenna serve."

Jim Mosley  /  Hardball

One note about Herald Square... it's named after the old New York Herald newspaper building that used to occupy this site.  On top of the building were a couple of sculptures/statues (that sit on a memorial in this park today.  One sculpture is of "Minerva," the greek goddess of wisdom.  Joe Trippi will be leading all of us in a tribute to "Minerva" later today.    I'll let you know if it works.

E-mail your comments on this post to DShuster@msnbc.com.

August 29, 2004 | 2:20 p.m. ET

Below is an excerpt of John's first blog. John is what you TV people call a "runner." His job is essentially, is to do a myriad of tasks and provide support for the 'Hardball' producers. You'll be hearing from him all week as he runs back and forth from the 'Hardball' set in Herald Square, and Madison Square Garden. ( Click here for the full blog from John. )

From a Hardball runner (John Lichman)

John Lichman
I began my career with MSNBC 'Hardball' at the Democratic National Convention. I worked with an intern, then a Runner, from Hardball in DC named Malcolm. He showed me more about working in the office than I could’ve gathered on my own. We were essentially partners at the Fleet Center, where MSNBC guests were sent to the NBC sky booth to talk to Chris Matthews.
Thanks to us, Steve Buscemi had water when he didn’t need it, and P. Diddy’s bodyguard didn’t
have to be inside the studio while Ron Reagan interviewed him.  I would learn important life lessons during the DNC, ranging from how to bring a camera crew to a specific point near the California delegation to finding a case of bottled water. But more importantly, I learned how to tie MSNBC T-shirts.

My job didn't end at 11 PM however, when the speeches concluded and the delegates went to their hotels or to the nearest party.  I’d walk back from Fleet Center, usually a few minutes before the final speaker concluded his remarks, toward Faneuil for MSNBC's "After Hours" program which aired from Midnight to 2 am. My duties required me to stand within a fenced-off
barricade with two other interns, and tie up t-shirts. The art of tying a t-shirt was lost upon me, since mine always looked like something you’d find on a floor after a night of hard drinking. Everyone else had an uncanny gift of making perfectly aerodynamic shirt/balls.  During the brief moments before and after commercial breaks, we (the interns) were commanded by higher powers (read: the producers) to throw the tied-up shirts into the audience.  Because "beverage impaired" people would show up each night, the importance of t-shirt throwing lies in its accuracy; or rather not aiming at people's heads no matter how tired you are. Most importantly, where is this going to be on my resume?...

Are conventions simply insanity that run for four hours, and then longer as people linger toward a bar or a hotel? Will New York be crazier with everyone and their grandmother coming out to the streets?  I’ll be honest; I’m not quite sure.

I just know that working for MSNBC at the Convention is a perfect exercise in dancing from one
fire to a frying pan and back into the fire. Besides, I live in New York.

The great upshot that the Republican convention has over Boston is my ability to buy dinner at a Bodega when I walk back to Chinatown at two in the morning.

Click here for the full blog from John.

August 28, 2004 | 7:21 p.m. ET

On my way to New York (Joe Trippi)

Well, yesterday I moved my daughter Christine into her dorm.   It took two big-sized moving carts, and two short rides in the dorm elevator to get her moved in. The short elevator rides were too short.   And I dragged her back to the car one more time to make sure we hadn’t left anything behind.  Suddenly I wished we had one more load, one more box to carry.   Instead, I talked her into a stop at the campus burger stand, and then with a hug, and a big “Oh, dad!”  she sent me on my way.

I want to thank everyone who sent in e-mails in response to my blog about our 14-hour ride to Christine’s campus:  The grandmother who told me about her son in Iraq and her two year old granddaughter and how she envisioned them safe and sound, taking that same ride together in the future; the mother of three children who told me she was glad that I had tried to make a difference in the Dean campaign; the Republican dad who told me despite our differences on issues we were the same.  And yes, I want to thank those who correctly pointed out that we “passed” through several states together, not “past” as I incorrectly wrote.  But even those e-mails said my bad English usage didn’t matter— they got what I was trying to say.   

So today I am getting on the train to New York.  I am on my way to cover my first Republican National Convention.  I’ll be on the air tomorrow (Sunday) at 1:30 pm Eastern on MSNBC for a short talk about Hardblogger and the beginning of MSNBC’s convention coverage.  

I am looking forward to being on the “Convention After Hours Show” with Joe Scarborough and Ron Reagan every night during the convention.

And maybe, just maybe I’ll get that call from Christine that she occasionally makes right after a show “Oh, dad!  What were you thinking when you said that?”

You can let me know what you are thinking by emailing me at Jtrippi@msnbc.com

August 28, 2004 | 7:02 p.m. ET

From the Hardblogger mailbag:  For David Shuster

Dear Mr. Shuster,  I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I have two friends who voted for Al Gore but who will now be voting for George Bush.  For the life of me, I can't figure out why.  When I ask them to explain it to me, I don't think they really know either other than they don't like John Kerry.  When I press them as to why that is, they can't really define their dislike.  I think it has to do with watching waaaaaay toooooo much Fox News and the Bush likeability factor, which frankly, I just don't get. I've worked in politics most of my adult life and see the election of the president as so much more than electing a person.  This year in particular, I am extremely worried about who selects the next members of the Supreme Court.  When I mention that to my two friends, especially as it relates to women's issues, they push the matter to the side.  They are in their mid-to late 50's, and I guess they don't feel those issues apply to them anymore.  Frankly, it's taking a lot of hard work on my part right now to remind myself that there is more to friendship than these issues ... but lately, I have begun to wonder about shared values.Anyway, I thought you'd be interested to know there are a few people out there who have totally flipped out.  Luckily, this is California, and at least their two votes won't matter. -Karen in California

MoveOn ads surely are provocative, as they should be, but "factually controversial or misleading" they are not, especially when compared to official Bush campaign and surrogate ads, which either are outright false or leave out whole chunks of context that prove them false.  David?  You need to get out more.  I can see what is going on, and I'm not even a Demo, much less a partisan one! -Bonnie Simrell, Westcliffe, Colorado

August 28, 2004 | 1:02 p.m. ET

Welcome to NY! (David Shuster)

So, we've all been chuckling lately at the contrast between the "feel of New York City" and the kind of environment many Republican delegates might prefer.   Never mind the difference between quiet, orderly streets and New York's crowded sidewalks... or between the smells... or even between the "Hi, how are you?" and the loud "How you doin?" 

I'm talking about the look of things from Times Square where many of the delegates and media will be staying.  Directly outside my hotel window is a 20-story tall advertisement for Sean Jean clothes— featuring none other than Sean "P Diddy" Combs.  Who is P Diddy?  Well, if you don't know, my telling you here won't help you much.  But suffice it to say that this gigantic and imposing looking gent does not have a smile on his face.  And what about Sean Jean clothes?  How many Republicans can identify with what the web site describes as "Shogun pants" or "Underworld bias plaid shirts" 

It's all quite humorous, actually.  I mean, imagine if the Democrats had their convention in a really small Southern town.  Would the Dems appreciate or identify with the giant religious billboards?  (I saw one in Arkansas that was actually fairly neutral.  It just said, "Don't make me come down there.")

Anyway, welcome to the Republican convention.  If things get a little quiet in Madison Square Garden, Times Square is definitely worth a stroll.  There is plenty to see, including a very large advertisement for Jenna Jameson's newest adult film.     

As always, your comments and questions are welcome.  The address is dshuster@msnbc.com


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