updated 8/31/2004 1:13:12 AM ET 2004-08-31T05:13:12

Guest: Laura Ingraham, Christie Todd Whitman, John Pippy, Robert Timko, Elizabeth Dole, Maryann Spicer

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I want to be your president for four more years to make our economy stronger.  I want to be your president for four more years to make our future brighter and better for every one of our citizens.  I want to be your president for four more years to make our country safer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews in New York, and welcome to opening night of the Republican National Convention.

MSNBC is broadcasting live from historic Harold Square on 34th and Broadway, with special reports from Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert from Madison Square Garden, plus our reporters on the convention floor and here on the streets of New York.  It is the miracle on 34th Street.

At center stage tonight, actor-activist Ron Silver will be on “AFTER HOURS” at midnight all week on MSNBC, plus Republican superstar Senator John McCain and Republican New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani with tributes to the courage of a nation.  And we‘ll be joined by special guests, including Senators John McCain here tonight, Bill Frist, the senator from Tennessee, and Elizabeth Dole.

Plus, my panel, former New Jersey governor Christie Todd Whitman, radio talk-show host Laura Ingraham, “Newsweek”‘s Howard Fineman, and MSNBC‘s Patrick J. Buchanan.  The Grand Old Party takes Manhattan, the elephants are in Madison Square Garden, and MSNBC is showing you the whole parade.

And we begin with NBC‘s Andrea Mitchell from the convention floor.

Andrea, I sense an uptick in optimism by this party tonight.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT:  You sense correctly.  The party is optimistic.  I‘ve spoken to Republican activists, to delegates and to top strategists for the president, and all of them say that the polls are beginning to look a little bit better, not only in the head-to-head match-ups, Chris, but also in some of the battleground states.

So they are going into this, they think, with a little bit of a head of steam, and they feel pretty confident that they can lay out these themes tonight.  The big theme, of course, is 9/11.  The best playing card that the president has right now is his track record in the tragedy of 9/11.

The way he responded—they see in their polling and also, of course, in our own NBC/”Wall Street Journal” polls that that is the highest mark that he gets, the way he responded on the war on terror.  Not so good, of course, on domestic policy, on Iraq.

So that‘s why tonight they‘re going to open their convention in primetime with a focus on the 9/11 aftermath, the way he responded.  You‘re going to hear from the stars that you‘ve suggested in the Republican firmament, Rudy Giuliani and his response to 9/11, who better to validate George W. Bush, and then on Iraq, of course, John McCain, former rival, perhaps current and future critic on many other policies, but not on Iraq.  He‘s been stalwart on that, and, in that regard, John McCain is a very important validator tonight for George W. Bush.  So that will be the drama tonight.

Also, a tribute to 9/11.  You‘ll hear from victims‘ families, and, in defense of the Republicans, they say this is not exploitative, that the Democrats did it as well in Boston, and here, within, you know, a mile or so of ground zero, how could they not?

Of course, that begs the question of why they chose New York for their convention in the first place, but that certainly is the strongest arguing point they have for the reelection of George W. Bush.

MATTHEWS:  And that‘s why they came here, isn‘t it, Andrea?

MITCHELL:  Absolutely.  That‘s why they came here.  Obviously, New York is not a Republican state.  They have no hopes of winning it, and they‘re coming here with a Republican governor, Republican—or at least an allegedly Republican mayor, Mike Bloomberg, who has plenty of Democratic leanings.  But, for this week, at least, he is certainly a pure Republican.

He‘ll also, by the way, of course, have a number of potential candidates for 2008 on this line-up.  Pataki has indicated through people that he might be interested in running.  John McCain has not ruled it out, no matter how hard you and Tim Russert and everybody else has been pressing him.  And, obviously Rudy Giuliani, a very strong potential candidate.

So, everybody on the line-up this week, all moderate Republicans who do not embrace the domestic policies and the platform that was adopted today, but, certainly, Republicans interested in making themselves right with the conservative base by appearing here tonight for George Bush—

Chris.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you very much.

Andrea Mitchell.

Let‘s go now to NBC‘s Campbell Brown who‘s also on the floor.  She joins us now with a delegate from the swing state of Pennsylvania—

Campbell?

CAMPBELL BROWN, NBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  That‘s right, Chris, and the person I‘m about to introduce you to has an interesting story.  He served in Iraq as a member of the Army Reserves, came back in January, was elected to the state senate while he was away, and with me now is John Pippy.

And, as you know, the war in Iraq is something we‘re going to hear a lot about tonight.  We‘ve heard the president say in recent interviews that he believes there were some miscalculations made and that it was not what we‘ve heard from the administration up until now really.  They‘re beginning to admit some mistakes.

You having been there, tell us your feelings sitting here tonight and preparing to listen to these speeches.

JOHN PIPPY, PENNSYLVANIA DELEGATE:  Well, I think the important thing is that the people get to know the whole story, all the good things that have gone on there.  Any major conflict, any major battle—if you study history, you‘ll see that there are issues.  It‘s our ability to adjust, to move ahead—that really what makes us great.

So I‘m not as concerned about him saying that there were some type of miscalculations potentially as much as this president cares, and he really cares about the soldiers and he‘ll make sure they have the equipment they need.

BROWN:  But what do you think should be the priority now, bringing these soldiers home and trying to resolve these conflicts?

PIPPY:  I think the priority is peace in Iraq, stability in the region and long-term peace for our country.  So, if it means that our soldiers are going to be there for a little longer to continue that, then that‘s what‘s needed.

The worst thing we could do is like some have advocated, which is to step out and then let that place go back to where it was and potentially even worse.  So, for the safety of our nation, we need to make sure that our soldiers are there, other soldiers coming in, but we protect and defend that country so that they can get their democracy in place.

BROWN:  Well, John Pippy, you‘re one of the people, obviously, they‘re going to be honoring tonight for the time you served, and we want to tell you welcome home.

Go back to you, Chris, at the studio.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you.

Campbell Brown.

Let‘s check in now with NBC‘s Chip Reid who‘s also on the floor—

Chip?

CHIP REID, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hi, Chris.

And I‘m also with a Pennsylvanian, Captain Bob Timko of the West Shore Fire Bureau.

And What are you looking for tonight?  The theme is a nation of courage.  What do you expect to hear?

CAPT. ROBERT TIMKO, PENNSYLVANIA FIREFIGHTERS  I‘m looking forward to hearing the speakers talk about leadership and courage, and that‘s part of being a good leader, is you have courage, and I think some of the speakers tonight have really—you know, with their backgrounds, have had to show courage.

REID:  What are you really looking forward to?

TIMKO:  Actually, Thursday evening.  Actually, to hear the president of the United States.

REID:  Tonight, Rudy Giuliani?

TIMKO:  Definitely.  Great leader, a mayor.  I think Bernie Kerik might be on earlier, as the police commissioner of New York, especially what they went through on 9/11.

REID:  Going to support Rudy Giuliani in 2008?

TIMKO:  We‘ll see.  We‘ll think about the issues as they come up in 2008, if he runs.

REID:  OK.  Fantastic.  There you have it from here, Chris.  We‘ll be wandering the floor and getting a wide variety of opinions, but they will be conservative opinions, I can guarantee you that.  Back to you.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you.

Chip Reid.

Let‘s go to ours panel.

Pat Buchanan, bringing your Republican Party to New York City is almost like bringing them to Calcutta.  I mean, this is pretty far away from the usual stomping grounds of the Republican Party.

PATRICK J. BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR:  Well, Richard Nixon carried New York and three boroughs of the city, and Ronald Reagan carried New York State.

I think it is a good decision on the part of the president in this sense: This is where the whole country came to realize that the war on terror really was inaugurated for us.  It was a horrible day.  It is the president‘s finest hour, I think, and people reminding him of that or reminding the country of that are going to help the president, whereas Iraq is a very controversial issue.

How the president handled the immediate aftermath of New York City, how Giuliani handled it, that is universally praised, and it will give all Americans—it can at least unite upon what was done immediately in that aftermath.

MATTHEWS:  Howard, it seems like the biggest elephant in New York is the memory of 9/11.

HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST:  There‘s no question about it, and the main doctrine for the Bush campaign is that there are no undecided voters.  There are only, in their view, soft Bush supporters that they want to harden up.  They want to harden them up, and what this convention is designed to do is to use popular Republicans, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, John McCain, et cetera, to testify on Bush‘s behalf and to remind people of that moment.

And, on Thursday night, when George Bush stands on that sort of pitcher‘s mound in the middle of the convention, that is the moment that they want to burn in the mind of the soft Bush Republicans.

MATTHEWS:  Isn‘t it odd that those two fellows are pretty macho guys. 

Arnold, you know, girly man, and Rudy Giuliani who‘s had a mixed life.  Have they become the fabric softeners of the Republican Party?  These are tough guys.

FINEMAN:  Well, it‘s a two-fer for the Republicans because they can got some moderate voters with that, but they can also underscore the strength of George Bush.

MATTHEWS:  So Arnold Schwarzenegger is the moderate in the party.

FINEMAN:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  Just kidding around.  I know he is.

Excuse me, Laura, but it is funny, isn‘t it, that...

LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO TALK-SHOW HOST:  It is funny.

MATTHEWS:  ... Arnold is loosening up the female base in the Republican Party?

INGRAHAM:  I think it is hysterical.

Also, another point is entertainment and business collide in New York City.  Entertainment, Arnold.  Business, Bloomberg.  It all makes sense.  It makes sense because the nation changed on September 11.  President Bush came here, stood on that rubble.  No one will forget that moment, and that moment will be in everybody‘s minds for as long as they live.

MATTHEWS:  It‘s like one of those stores on Madison Avenue or 5th Avenue, the Disney Store, the MGM Store.  It‘s all merchandising, isn‘t it?

INGRAHAM:  Well, at all these conventions.  They‘re all about four days too long.  So yes.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Governor!

CHRISTIE TODD WHITMAN ®, FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR:  Sure.

MATTHEWS:  Christie Todd Whitman, you don‘t know how to make—get publicity like your successor does, but I guess that was a good...

WHITMAN:  That‘s fine by me.

MATTHEWS:  That was a good thing.

Tell us about—you‘re, I guess, considered part of this wing of the party, the Schwarzenegger-Giuliani wing, the moderate wing.

WHITMAN:  Well, I like to consider myself a moderate, and...

MATTHEWS:  Well, is that...

WHITMAN:  ... I‘m happy to be that.

MATTHEWS:  ... a fair definition of the party today, that the people we‘re seeing tonight and tomorrow night, Giuliani, Ron Silver is a Democrat speaking for the party, and, of course, Schwarzenegger?  Is that a fair look at the party?

WHITMAN:  Of course, it‘s a fair place.  They‘re elected officials of the Republican Party who call themselves and are Republicans, and that‘s what we are.  We‘re that as well as conservatives.

We have a whole—you know, this party is a lot more open, and you‘ll see a lot more variety in this party than you saw at the Democrat National Convention.  I don‘t think there was a single pro-life Democrat that was allowed to speak.  They‘ve been traditional in not allowing for that kind of interplay, and you will see a variety of faces a this convention.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the administration and what we‘re seeing on the stage.  It seems to me—I‘m a big fan of yours, as you know, and I was always rooting for you in those Cabinet meetings, thinking now this poor woman‘s isolated as hell.  But you‘re not here because New York is a much bigger tent than the Bush Cabinet, isn‘t it?

WHITMAN:  It‘s big tent, New York, no question about it, but the Bush

Cabinet—don‘t forget that—and most people don‘t know it.  You‘ve got

a lot of the women who are on the Bush Cabinet who are pro-choice.  Colin

Powell is in the Bush Cabinet.  You look at that Cabinet and, in fact, it‘s

·         again, you‘ve got a reflection of the party because you‘ve got people who are all over the spectrum on a lot of these hot-button issues.

MATTHEWS:  How come the secretary of state‘s not coming?

WHITMAN:  Secretary of state traditionally—they‘re not allowed to go to a political convention.

BUCHANAN:  State and Defense stay away because they‘re supposed to be nonpartisan.

INGRAHAM:  And they both said they were staying away.

FINEMAN:  Also, this is the party platform.  This was widely available to the delegates on the floor at 9:00 this morning.  You go into the RNC press room, they hadn‘t yet made it available to the press.  I think it‘s there now.

MATTHEWS:  Well...

INGRAHAM:  Smart.  Smart people.

MATTHEWS:  I think you get it first if you‘re a delegate anyway.

INGRAHAM:  They‘ve learned.

FINEMAN:  No, no.  That‘s not the only reason.  They don‘t want idle minds at work on...

INGRAHAM:  Very idle.

MATTHEWS:  You know what?

FINEMAN:  They don‘t want idle minds at work.

MATTHEWS:  You know what I think?  I think we better be fair.

Anyway, the panel is staying with us, and, when we come back, we‘ll be joined by Senator Elizabeth Dole, one of the most popular people in the party.

You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Republican National Convention here on 34th Street and Broadway, the miracle of 34th Street.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And now the nation and the world knows that Tom Dewey is the Republican nominee for president of the United States.

ANNOUNCER (voice-over):  In 1948, the power of television delivered the pomp and circumstance of the Republican Convention to Americans up and down the eastern seaboard.  While capturing political twists and turns on live television can be daunting, everyone, including the NBC graphics department, was up to the challenge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We have other ways of expressing visually just what has happened a few moments ago, in fact, eight minutes ago, with the fall of the gavel at the end of the third ballot.

And now back to John Cameron (ph).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘ve got Elizabeth Dole here who‘s completely popular here in New York.

Are you going to do one of those Oprah-style things this year?

SEN. ELIZABETH DOLE ®, NORTH CAROLINA:  No, I think I‘ll probably stay behind the podium this year.

MATTHEWS:  So was one Oprah appearance too much for the Republicans, or what?

DOLE:  No, I do kind of reach a point where that podium is a barrier, you know.  I like to get out where I can really eyeball people, but probably this time, I‘ll be staying behind the podium.

MATTHEWS:  So the name of this show is HARDBALL.  It‘s not “Success” magazine.  So I‘ve got to ask you some interesting questions.

DOLE:  All right.

MATTHEWS:  Go for the fences.

Does John Edwards have a prayer getting reelected in North Carolina?

DOLE:  Well, John Edwards is doing something else, so we don‘t—we don‘t have to face that particular situation, do we?

MATTHEWS:  No, but, seriously, he‘s trying to win the electoral votes down there, and a lot of people say that he couldn‘t have gotten reelected if he tried to get reelected as U.S. senator, and you know.

DOLE:  Well, I just think that Richard Burr is an outstanding candidate, and whoever was going to run, whether it was Erskine Bowles or whether it was John Edwards, Richard Burr, who‘s doing a tremendous job, will be the next senator from North Carolina.  How‘s that?

MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s talk about northeastern geography.  Let‘s talk about New York City.  You know, my wife and I, when we‘re in a good mood, we get on the train and come up here and see a play or two and have some dinner, enjoy the city.  How often does Bob Dole say to you, Come on, babe, let‘s go to New York for the weekend?

DOLE:  Oh, listen.  We‘ve spent a lot of time in New York over our 29 years of marriage, no question about it.

MATTHEWS:  So tell me what you think of New York?

DOLE:  I love it.  I really do, the excitement and, you know, the—all the wonderful plays.  “The Producers” I saw just recently.

MATTHEWS:  Wasn‘t that great?  Wasn‘t that great.

DOLE:  That was the most...

MATTHEWS:  How did they get away with the most politically incorrect play in the history of the world?

DOLE:  It‘s because there‘s so much humor.  But, you see, the humor is against all of us, everybody.

MATTHEWS:  Can you imagine going up to see the president of the United States and saying to him you‘ve got to see “The Producers,” it‘s great.  What would he say?  He‘d say I don‘t do New York.

Let me ask you about New York.  This is the first time in history, in the history of the Republican Party, that began back with Lincoln in the 1850s—this is the first time you‘ve ever been to New York.  Explain.

DOLE:  Well, obviously—and I‘ve not been around all that time, but let me just say that...

MATTHEWS:  Well, Bob has.

(LAUGHTER)

DOLE:  Well, Bob—you can ask him that tomorrow, as a matter of fact.  But, you know, I think it is wonderful to be here.  Obviously, we‘d like to win more support from New York, and I think you go where you want to get your message out.  And, of course, with 9/11, it has a strong significance for all of us as Americans.

MATTHEWS:  Is that the biggest elephant in the city right now, the memory of New York and what happened in 9/11?

DOLE:  I think that this is something that all of us relate to very strongly.  We appreciate the fact that here at a time of tremendous tragedy, Americans were not running away from those burning buildings, they were running into them to help others, and that‘s one of the things I‘m going to be talking about tomorrow night, is the compassion and the concern that we have as Americans for our neighbors, for one another.

MATTHEWS:  Maybe half the people watching our program right now are women, and there‘s been an historic gender gap between the parties.  Women have tended—and it usually ends up that way on Election Day.  Time after time, men tend to vote Republican, women tend to vote Democratic.  Why is that?

DOLE:  Well, you know, first of all, I have to kind of question that because all the women I know are voting for George W. Bush.

MATTHEWS:  Come on.  Please.  More information, please.  Come on.  You know these are the facts.  Why are they the facts?

DOLE:  Let me tell you what I think.  I think it‘s a matter of getting our message out.  First of all, women live longer generally than men do.

Let‘s look at what‘s just happened with the Medicare prescription drugs.  For the first time since 1965, this law has been upgraded.  Now, if you‘re a low-income individual, you can get $1,200 in the next two years free in drugs, $600 a year.  Drugs cost less, and they‘re available now.

Let‘s look at women-owned businesses.  Women are very active in the workforce today.  The president‘s going to provide—he wants flex time, comp time for women, and, also, this $3.6 trillion a year in revenues coming in from women-owned businesses, and our policies help small businesses to be able to grow, thrive and create more jobs.

So, whether it‘s medical care, like medical malpractice reform, which we‘re trying to get through, or whether it‘s small businesses, whether it‘s the security, a more secure world, you know, this president‘s got great policies, and we‘ve got to help get that...

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go back to the tough stuff.  All this goo-goo stuff is nice, but let me ask you about the first lady.  Laura Bush has taken an extremely out front position in this campaign.  She‘s out there on stem cell, on health research.  She‘s out there defending the ads that have been run against John Kerry the other day.

Are you folks trying to incur—to gin up a fight between Laura Bush and Teresa Heinz Kerry?  Is that what you‘re trying to do, is sort of get her out so both will be arguing with each other?

DOLE:  I know of nothing in that order at all.  I‘ve heard nothing like that.  Laura Bush is just a great asset, and, obviously, she ought to be out as much as possible.  People love the first lady.  She does a great job.  She‘s a wonderful asset.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think that—do you agree with me that she‘s playing a more aggressive role? I mean, I can‘t imagine Jackie Kennedy coming out—or Pat Nixon—arguing policy issues like this first lady.

DOLE:  Well, look how things have changed just in the years since—well, you know, back in 1976, my husband was nominated for the vice presidency, and I was told, oh, spouses don‘t go out and have separate campaigns.  Well, my heaven‘s, last time around, I had my own plane and my own staff flying around the country.  It‘s changed enormously over the years, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about this quote—this picture tonight we‘re going to see on the country.  Everyone watching MSNBC tonight is going to see some really powerful speeches.  You‘re going to see, certainly, Rudy Giuliani, the New York mayor who was identified so much with Winston Churchill back during 9/11, and, of course, John McCain who may well run for president next time.

Fred Thompson—at an event I went to at lunchtime today for the

survivors of a lot of these service people who‘ve been killed in the wars -

·         he said there‘s a term referring to these guys now.  It‘s called the ticket, McCain and Giuliani or Giuliani and McCain.  Is that part of what we‘re seeing tonight, a preview of coming attractions?

DOLE:  I think what we‘re seeing tonight is some very capable individuals who will rep—who are well-respected.  Certainly, Giuliani is the mayor of America, and he was not just a mayor of New York, and we all will remember forever his role on 9/11.  And, certainly, to have him prominent is very important and...

MATTHEWS:  Could somebody with a Yankee name like Giuliani get elected in a Tar Heel State—I‘m just asking—if he runs for president?

DOLE:  Well, let me just say this, that when I ran for the Senate in 2002, I invited him to North Carolina, and he was very, very well-received.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the whole question of you running for president.

DOLE:  I have no plans to do that.  I‘m, you know, very, very pleased to be in the United States Senate, to have an opportunity there to support my president and his reelection.  I‘m certainly looking forward to being the best possible senator that I can be for North Carolina and for the country.

MATTHEWS:  Hillary‘s going to run for reelection as a senator up here in New York in 2006.

(APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS:  I was wondering if you felt that if she ran for the presidency in 2008 that the Republican Party should not look like it‘s behind the times in terms of running women, and wouldn‘t that encourage you to run yourself?

DOLE:  Well, I really have no plans to run, Chris, and I think that, you know, when you look at the Republican Party and you see Sandra Day O‘Connor as the first woman on the Supreme Court, we‘ve got a lot of firsts, no question about it.  But women are taking a more active role in every respect.  So let‘s just let the future unfold, OK?

MATTHEWS:  You know, you really are a politician, aren‘t you?  Haha! 

Thank you very much.

Senator Elizabeth Dole.

DOLE:  It was my pleasure.  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  We‘ll be back with an update on...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... interview with NBC‘s Matt Lauer.

We‘ll leave you now with one of the great convention moments, Elizabeth Dole‘s Oprah-style town hall in support of her husband, Bob Dole, back in 1996.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Four more years!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Four more years!

DOLE:  You know, tradition is that speakers at the Republican National Convention remain at this very imposing podium.  But, tonight, I‘d like to break with tradition.

ANNOUNCER (voice-over):  First lady hopeful Elizabeth Dole shattered tradition in 1996 when she addressed the delegates from the floor of the convention.  Wielding a microphone like Oprah Winfrey, Dole canvassed the audience and may have revealed the softer side of Bob Dole.

DOLE:  And you said, Elizabeth, everywhere you go, people tell you they love Bob Dole because he always has a kind word for everyone.

Bless you, Trudy.  Thanks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to “HARDBALL”‘s live coverage of the Republican National Convention.  We‘re back with the panel here on Harold‘s Square where the action seems to be.

Let me ask you, Governor.  Governor Whitman, it seems to me that this election will, as it gets close—and it‘s close already—try to center on the suburbs.  The cities tend to be Democrat.  The rurals tend to be Republican.  The suburbs are a mix of all different ethnic groups now.  They‘re not all WASPy anymore, they‘re all mixed, and they are, in fact, mixed on issues like abortion rights, gay rights, tax cuts, the war.

Is tonight‘s speeches—are the speeches tonight, both Ron Silver who‘s a Democrat usually, who‘s backing the ticket this time of the Republican Party on foreign policy, Rudy Giuliani and John McCain—are they really talking to those suburban voters?  Is that what it‘s about tonight?

WHITMAN:  They‘re talking to everybody.  I mean, they‘re talking to all those voters that have not yet made up their mind and all those voters...

MATTHEWS:  That‘s a small group.

WHITMAN:  What?

MATTHEWS:  That‘s a small group.

WHITMAN:  Who have not made up their mind yet?  Yes, but they‘re going to be the critical ones.

(CROSSTALK)

WHITMAN:  They‘re going to be the critical ones.  You‘ve got—the

two parties have got their basses locked in.  They‘ve been working on their

bases for a long time now.  You‘re talking about a margin—you say 8

percent maybe at the most, and it‘s going to be critical to bring those

people over to your side, if you want to win.  It‘s so close at this moment

that that‘s what the party has to do.  It‘s what the Democrats are going to

·         are trying to do.

INGRAHAM:  Well, let‘s remember there was about five or six weeks before they came up with a final list of speakers where conservatives across the country were calling into talk radio shows like mine and saying these speakers are fine, but where the heck are the conservatives?

MATTHEWS:  Or the...

INGRAHAM:  And there was a real push.  And that push was successful, and now Rick Santorum is having a prominent, but not primetime speaking role, and some other conservatives—Bill Frist and others are also up there.

But there were a lot of conservatives who were not happy in the weeks moving up to the final decision of speakers, and now I think people have sat down and said, look, the party is big, this looks like a very tolerant party, unlike the Democrats, as Governor Whitman said, and single women, voters without children, they‘re voting overwhelmingly Democratic, but they‘re going to be entertained by tonight and intrigued, and I think that‘s important.

MATTHEWS:  Is there a knowledge base among conservatives in the Republican party that they know it‘s a bit of a case that‘s being made?  Do they know that Tom DeLay is not on Friday night or Thursday night at 10:00 and that even Speaker Hastert is not on Wednesday night at 10:00 and Arnold‘s there and Laura is there.  Do they know it‘s cosmetics basically? 

INGRAHAM:  I think there is a bit of a wink and a nod, but there is still some underlying resentment among conservatives that they‘re hiding the core that actually turns out election after election for Republicans. 

MATTHEWS:  The most important legislator in Washington is, I think we‘d all agree, Howard, Tom DeLay, the majority leader of the House. 

FINEMAN:  Tom who? 

MATTHEWS:  This convention, by the way, is being held without DeLay. 

FINEMAN:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  But I just wondered, would he like to speak?  Does he know that he has...

FINEMAN:  I was over in the hall earlier.  Because this was an uncontested race, there are a lot of professional pols over there.  There are Bush fans, there are Republican party people.  They know what‘s going on.  This election is about a few suburbs, the suburbs of Philadelphia, the suburbs of Pittsburgh, the suburbs of Cleveland.  That‘s where these soft Republicans are, who haven‘t yet been convinced.  For the hard-liners, all you have to do is show a picture of John Kerry, I think, for the most part and you have to attack him with the platform and with direct mail on Kerry‘s record.  They haven‘t begun to talk about Kerry‘s record yet. 

MATTHEWS:  Pat, if this was your year, would they let you speak?  It seems like a Pat Buchanan wouldn‘t be allowed to speak this year. 

BUCHANAN:  Depends on what.  If you ran in the primaries and got three million votes you would be speaking because they would be going to the base.  The base wants George Bush elected.  They know that these things are put on for bit of a show and they‘re putting all the popular folks up front.  I think they‘ve gotten used to that.  But there is a problem if you somehow treat them like the cousin you don‘t want at the family reunion. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

BUCHANAN:  And I don‘t know that the president does that, but that could be a problem. 

INGRAHAM:  Well, everyone‘s focusing on today on—and all the cable channels, John McCain‘s problems with the Bush campaign.  So, there is a slight danger here that disagreement between McCain and Bush, Giuliani and Bush.  That slows out the rest of the message. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think so? 

INGRAHAM:  On an opposing network today...

MATTHEWS:  Governor, I think if they endorse tonight and give these—we‘ve all seen teases of the speech.  These guys are giving these sort of Jeremiahs, these Shakespearean addresses.

(CROSSTALK)

WHITMAN:  They will be good, strong speeches for the president and you can‘t—these people are people that are—his integrity is unquestioned.  So you can‘t say that they‘re giving these speeches just because they‘ve been asked to do it.  They believe in what they‘re saying.  They are not going to be fed their line. 

INGRAHAM:  All I‘m saying is that the media is focusing on—of course, they‘re totally supporting the president but the media is focusing on division, division, division.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let me speak for the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for three seconds.  I have to tell you, I‘m impressed by this phalanx, this is a tough phalanx.  When you put together McCain and Giuliani, who can play the local and international together and you put them on the first night in this city, this gritty city, you can‘t do better than that. 

FINEMAN:  And it‘s a two-fer because they can talk about Bush‘s strength post 9/11 and deal with the social issues at the same time. 

BUCHANAN:  Chris, I‘ve been over there hawking my book over at the convention but I‘ve had...

MATTHEWS:  What‘s the name of it, Pat?

BUCHANAN:  “Where The Right Went Wrong.”  But listen when I was over there, I must have had 10 cameras put in my face.  “Aren‘t you unhappy, Pat, to see all these moderates up here?  Doesn‘t that make you (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?”  Look, this is the president‘s convention, these his guys.  The media want to stir up the animals, Chris.  They are trying to rattle the cages. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘ve never been happier since you were thrown red meat in Richard Nixon‘s cage anyway.  So let‘s go tonight‘s theme.  It‘s the convention.  It is all about national security and President Bush sat down for an exclusive interview with NBC‘s Matt Lauer and they talked about the war on terror.  Let‘s listen up. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS:  Do you really think we can win this war on terror, for example, in the next four years? 

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I have never said we can win it in four years. 

LAUER:  I‘m just saying, can we win it?  Do you see that? 

BUSH:  I don‘t think you can win it, but I think you can create conditions so that the—those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world, let‘s put it that way. 

I have a two-pronged strategy.  On the one hand is to find them before they hurt us.  And that‘s necessary.  I‘m telling you it‘s necessary.  The country must never yield, must never show weakness, must continue to lead, to find the al Qaeda, al Qaeda affiliates, who are hiding around the world and who want to harm us and bring them to justice and we‘re doing a good job of it.  We‘re dismantling al Qaeda as we knew it. 

The long-term strategy is to spread freedom and liberty and that is really kind of an interesting debate.  You know, there are some who say, well, certain people can‘t self-govern and accept, you know, a formal democracy.  I strongly disagree with that.  Yes, the decision in Iraq was a hard decision.  And—no doubt in my mind we made the right decision and there‘s no doubt in my mind the world is better off with Saddam Hussein in a prison cell and when Iraq emerges as a free society, the people will see the wisdom of the decision we made. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  No doubt in my mind.  That‘s something you won‘t hear John Kerry say this week.  No doubt in my mind.  That‘s part of the theme in this campaign. 

NBC News White House correspondent David Gregory is traveling with the president.  He joins us now from Taylor, Michigan, just outside Detroit—

David.

DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  Hi, Chris.  Coming from Wayne County, which really sort of speaks to the theme of the night.  This is a heavy Democratic county.  The president lost it badly four years ago.  But he‘s here to talk about the message that you‘ve been talking about for the last few minutes, the moderate pace of the party.  The speakers we‘re going to hear at the convention tonight and tomorrow night. 

I spoke to a senior Bush adviser over the weekend traveling in Ohio and he made the point that, look, they‘re trying to get their hands around the undecided vote.  They think it could be as small as 6 percent.  That could be vital in a close election.  They know that these voters, even if they trend Republican, that‘s their belief there‘s certainly more moderates. 

So, he‘s speaking to them.  We‘re going to hear a lot about 9/11 tonight and all this week.  We‘re going to hear a lot about the war in Iraq.  We‘re also going to hear quite a bit about the president trying to change hearts and minds, trying to win hearts and minds in the Arab world, the two-prong strategy, to fight off an attack before it happens again, to fight and kill the terrorists.  But also to try to change the Middle East, to change that part of the world.  That‘s a more peaceful message that the administration wants to emphasize now, that even those within the White House recognize they haven‘t done a good enough job talking up in the last couple of years—Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Is that for real or is that a campaign ploy?  I mean, I haven‘t seen any evidence of warm relations with Mubarak or King Abdullah or Crown Prince Abdullah or Mohammed VI of Morocco.  Where is this charm offensive in the Middle East going on? 

GREGORY:  Well, it is a charm offensive, really, with the publics. 

Those Arab public. 

MATTHEWS:  Where?  I haven‘t seen any evidence of it. 

GREGORY:  Well, the evidence is what they believe, what the president believes is that the neoconservative philosophy of bringing democracy to Iraq and having it spread throughout the rest of the Middle East, that they can somehow translate that into a real campaign for hearts and minds.  As I say, even internally, there‘s been a good deal of criticism that they haven‘t done enough about that to counter what is this animosity towards the U.S. in a lot of the developing world and parts of Europe as we know and certainly the Arab world. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much.  David Gregory is out with the president in Michigan.  We‘re going to dip into the president‘s speech, by the way, in a few minutes.  Right now, let‘s get down to the floor and NBC‘s Chip Reid—Chip.

REID:  Hi, Chris.  You know, there are, of course, as Pat Buchanan was just talking about, the big topic down here is, are people of the moderate wing of the Republican party upset about the very conservative platform and are people of the conservative wing of the party upset with some of these moderate speakers like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rudy Giuliani. 

Most of the people we‘ve talked to have said, look, you‘ve got to have a variety of views in the party.  I just talked to the delegate whip of Florida and she said, “I‘m a serious social conservative but I love Rudy Giuliani.  And we may disagree on some issues, but you‘ve got to have a big enough tent in the Republican party to bring a lot of people in, a lot of people—enough people in for George Bush to win.”

So, it may change as the week goes on.  But certainly you are not going to hear Rudy Giuliani talking about gay marriage and abortion and how his views differ from the people down here on the floor.  So, they‘re going to be talking about what they agree on and that is 9/11 and the president‘s response to terrorism—Chris.

MATTHEWS:  How much moving room does the president have to appear to be moderate this week?  In other words, among the conservatives, the Ralph Reid constituency of the south and the Bible Bell, so to speak, how—is his hold strong enough on that region that he can do a little flirtation this week in New York with the moderates? 

REID:  Yes.  I think that they think that he can.  He is not going to wild, of course, and his speech is going to be very much what he‘s been talking about all along.  The concern has really been Giuliani, Schwarzenegger, people like that, and they‘re going to let them talk about 9/11 and talk about things that are not going to offend people down here on the floor.  So, there certainly is some room to let them speak and be themselves to a degree.  But their calculation at this point is that there‘s not going to be much political damage from it. 

MATTHEWS:  Thanks a lot.  Chip Reid down on the floor.  Pat Buchanan, one big difference I‘ve noticed of the two conventions, the Republicans may be feinting to the left a bit, to the moderate center to win support.  But it‘s a feint and everybody knows it.  John Kerry leans for the war, against the 80 percent of his party that‘s against the war and that seems for real. 

Isn‘t that more dangerous for Kerry? 

BUCHANAN:  Kerry has got a terrible problem, quite frankly.  If he ever won the election, how is he going to govern if he has to put more troops into Iraq?  His whole party would explode underneath him.  But, Chris, you made a good point inadvertently when you were talking earlier. 

MATTHEWS:  I‘ll take it either way, Pat. 

BUCHANAN:  What the president has that Kerry doesn‘t is in a single word, certitude.  Now, you and I may disagree with him on the war, the man believes in the war.  And he believes what he did is right.

MATTHEWS:  I think (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on the war, but let‘s go on. 

BUCHANAN:  But he believes in it, and I sense that Kerry didn‘t believe in it.  He is trying to maneuver himself into the proper—and people sense that, and they sense that Bush, the man believes it.  He is a leader. 

MATTHEWS:  Is everybody—let‘s go around the panel on that.  Is that the Harry Truman, buck stops here, I make decisions, Bush‘s big strength?   Howard? 

FINEMAN:  Yes.  And that is what their first line in this platform says, is a choice between strength and uncertainty.  One of the reasons people are happy over in the convention hall is that they think Kerry is going to prove not to be a strong candidate.  That he didn‘t do a good job at the convention, that he‘s lost steam since, that his Senate record hasn‘t been analyzed yet.  So, one of the reasons...

MATTHEWS:  And?  FINEMAN:  Yes? 

MATTHEWS:  This may disagree with your analysis, and he is basically for the war. 

FINEMAN:  Yes.  Well, when he said I would have supported the resolution, even without—even knowing there were no WMD, he basically gave up the argument.  What‘s the election about?  What‘s the election about?

MATTHEWS:  He seems that—he is the uncertain trumpet. 

FINEMAN:  He seems the uncertain trumpet right now. 

INGRAHAM:  And John Kerry goes on the stump and says, I‘m going to help restore America‘s character again.  Now he‘s speaking shorthand, because he means reputation in the world.  But to most people I think in this country, they think, I don‘t know, we‘re doing pretty well.  We‘re Americans and we‘re going to fight and we‘re going to win this, and I think that sounds a little bit condescending.  I don‘t think he means it as such.  But this ideas of reputation-building in the world, I don‘t think that is going to win the election.

MATTHEWS:  Well, then why is the president doing what David Gregory just reported?  He is trying to build up our popularity in the world a bit, in the Arab world? 

INGRAHAM:  I think it‘s important.  I don‘t think as a campaign stump speech tagline, I don‘t think that‘s (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

MATTHEWS:  Well, why is he offering it in that sense? 

INGRAHAM:  I think Kerry...

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN:  You know why?  Because Kerry gave him the freedom to do it.  Because Kerry, by saying he would have supported the resolution regardless, gives the president the freedom to maneuver on to the next phase.

(CROSSTALK) 

WHITMAN:  ... it‘s so huge, especially on this issue, when you have someone who said, well, I voted for it before I voted against it, and I would support it even if I knew what we didn‘t know then. 

MATTHEWS:  Is that the best piece of tape you guys have going for you? 

WHITMAN:  It‘s pretty wonderful, but it‘s indicative if you look at the whole record.  I mean, this is someone who, I believe, has wanted to be president since he was old enough to think—to know what the word was.  And everything that he has done, and I‘m not taking away from what he did in Vietnam, that we shouldn‘t even be talking about as far as I‘m concerned...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... day one, come on.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, governor, at least.

WHITMAN:  Not running for president, believe me.  And so, everything he‘s done has been calculated to ensure that he still had wiggle room to be able to take whatever position was the most...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Isn‘t that the biggest problem with the opposition of this president being nominated here in New York, hedging?  Hedging every bet.  And I think he learned it, Laura.  You know this politics.  Didn‘t he learn it from Bill Clinton, who in 1991 said he did the old pyramid play in the war on Iraq?  He told one person he was going to vote for it... 

FINEMAN:  John Kerry was doing that long before Bill Clinton ever came on the scene. 

INGRAHAM:  And he‘s trying...

FINEMAN:  John Kerry was doing it back in 1970 and ‘71, which is a problem that he has, going to the war, fighting hard, but yet coming home and joining the other side. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... Thursday night for Friday?

INGRAHAM:  Chris, Bill Clinton didn‘t have hundreds of thousands of people in the streets of New York, who are, frankly, the heart and soul of the Democratic Party.  Their views on this war, they are strongly felt.  They‘re anti-war, and he has to talk to those people. 

MATTHEWS:  I agree with you.  Laura, I was there yesterday with you, I was registering my kids in school down here—and I got—up here.  I felt walking with those people, they all looked like the people I used to march with back in the ‘60s.  Same people.  If John Kerry had walked out in front of them, they wouldn‘t have cheered.  They would have given him a little bit, but he is not their leader. 

FINEMAN:  I interviewed a lot of them.  Very few of them were Kerry fans.  Very, very few.

(CROSSTALK) 

INGRAHAM:  On the war, one line that he stands for.  It‘s hard to figure it out.

MATTHEWS:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) which we‘ll deliver throughout the evening. 

NBC‘s Campbell Brown is down on the convention floor.  She joins us now—Campbell.

BROWN:  Hi, Chris.  I‘m with Maryann Spicer, who is a member of the Iowa delegation.  And Maryann, you and I were talking, given the theme of this evening, we‘re going to hear a lot of people talking, making tributes to the victims of 9/11 and honoring the courage of many of the heroes of 9/11.  There‘s been some criticism by Democrats that Republicans are politicizing this issue by holding the convention in New York.  Tell me your thoughts on that. 

MARYANN SPICER, IOWA DELEGATE:  My thoughts is that President Bush has been very strong and steadfast on security.  He believes that holding the convention here in New York is very appropriate, and he‘s the most compassionate president to say to the people, I feel your pain.  We‘re going to make it safer for you and for the rest of America. 

BROWN:  You‘re from Iowa, one of the most crucial swing states.  It could go either way right now, depending on which polls you‘re looking at.  Is terrorism, security the primary issue there, or is it the economy? 

SPICER:  Because of homeland security, terrorism is one of the primary points.  And people take it very seriously, even in the heartland. 

BROWN:  Karl Rove, who is the president‘s political strategist, has often taken hits for focusing so much on the base, the conservative base of the Republican Party and not doing enough to target African-American voters, traditionally Democratic voters, or Hispanics in this country.  You‘re here.  You are by far in the minority here as an African-American. 

Do you think the Republican Party is doing enough to reach out? 

SPICER:  The Republican Party is doing all they can.  You mentioned the conservative base.  I am part of the conservative base.  It shows you how inclusive the party is, and it‘s talking about the issue that reaches across the table, not just to a majority group, but to all Americans. 

BROWN:  Maryann, thank you very much for talking to us.  Let‘s go back to you, Chris, in the studio. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, they can‘t ask for more than that at the Republican Convention.  That was a pretty strong endorsement of the president from this city and from other cities.  Anyway, thank you, Campbell Brown. 

When we come back, we‘ll hear from President Bush at the rally out there in Michigan.  Plus, we‘re going to talk with our great crowd out here at Harold Square.  Look at them all, we‘re looking at the audience, the many faces of Benetton.  Here on 34th Street, the miracle on 34th Street.  And by the way, we‘re going to go right now and be speaking with the junior statesmen and college Republicans.  You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Republican National Convention on MSNBC. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  Texas casts all its votes for her favorite son and the best father in America, George Bush. 

ANNOUNCER:  The 1988 Republican Convention became a family affair for the Bush clan.  With George Sr. watching the proceedings on television, Texas delegate George W. Bush cast the convention‘s final votes, making the nomination for his father. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

We‘re here with the crowds in Harold Square at 34th and Broadway.  I‘m going to give everybody a chance to say a couple of thoughts here. 

Let me ask you all.  We‘re talking tonight about the Republican Party of Rudy Giuliani, John McCain. 

Let me ask you, is that your Republican party? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No, but I‘m still going to support Bush no matter what. 

MATTHEWS:  Who is your Republican Party? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The Barry Goldwater wing of the Republican Party. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘m a Democrat.  Yes, and I support John Kerry!

CROWD:  Yes!

CROWD:  Boo!

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me ask you. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Go ahead. 

MATTHEWS:  Which party—are you happy with the big mix of Republican

·         the big tent Republican Party tonight? 

We‘re going to see Giuliani, we‘re going to see McCain, see Ron Silver, a Democrat. 

Do you like that big mix of a party or do you like to have the ideological party? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, I like it.  I like the big party. 

MATTHEWS:  Inclusive.  Who likes the big tent? 

(APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS:  Who likes it?  Who thinks the big tent isn‘t as good as the little tent of conservatives? 

OK.  Let me go to—are these—by the way, who would like to be a Republican who supports John McCain for president? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Sure. 

MATTHEWS:  Sure? 

Is that as far as we get—sure? 

Is that as good—what do you think of McCain for president? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I support him.  I‘d support him. 

MATTHEWS:  What about McCain and Giuliani, they‘re calling it the ticket here today. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘d definitely support them.  Giuliani and McCain all way. 

MATTHEWS:  How many for—among the Republicans here, I‘m going to ask you, no booing, it‘s so bush league, OK?  I‘m sorry.  OK, let me go.  OK, how many here would like to see Giuliani as the next nominee after this year? 

(APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS:  And how many would like to see McCain? 

(APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS:  This is a heavy New York influence here.  It‘s all Giuliani. 

Is Giuliani conservative enough for everybody? 

CROWD:  No. 

MATTHEWS:  Not really.  It would be uncomfortable backing a guy who‘s for gay rights, abortion rights, that sort of thing? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes!  For that, I support Giuliani.  He was a great mayor.  But I don‘t understand why he‘s supporting Bush, because Bush is what we call in Brooklyn, riding in daddy‘s caddy, he‘s a frat boy. 

MATTHEWS:  Oh.  But the other guy—weren‘t they both in the same sorority, Bush and Kerry? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, Skull and Bones. 

MATTHEWS:  Skull and Bones.  They‘re both in the same sorority, what‘s the difference? 

Anyway, while the convention is going on here in New York, of course, President Bush is out campaigning in the swing state, it‘s a Democratic state, but sort of a swing state of Michigan.  He is speaking right now.  Let‘s listen to the president. 

BUSH:  You know something, Bo, knows Michigan and he just told me we‘re going to carry this state and I agree. 

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH:  I want to thank you all for coming.  It is great to be here and it‘s great to be here—in Taylor, Michigan. 

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH:  Laura and I are thrilled to be here, home of the WNBA champs, the home of the NBA champs. 

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH:  More importantly, it‘s the home of really decent people. 

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH:  Good, hard-working American citizens, and I‘m proud to be in your midst.  I‘m here to ask for your vote. 

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH:  That‘s what we‘re doing.  We‘re traveling your important state asking for the vote.  I‘m here to tell you that I got some more to do to make this country a safer place and a more hopeful place for every American.  But perhaps the most important reason to put me back in is so that Laura will have four more years. 

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH:  I‘m proud of her.  I love her dearly.  She is a great mom, a wonderful wife, and a terrific first lady. 

(APPLAUSE) 

CROWD:  Laura!  Laura!  Laura! 

BUSH:  I‘m proud to be standing by Bo.  What a great man Bo Schembechler is.  He is a strong, honorable citizen of this great state.  You know, a few weeks ago, when my opponent was campaigning in Ohio, he said there is nothing better than Buckeye football, periods. 

CROWD:  Boo!

BUSH:  Then he came over here to Michigan and he said I just go for Buckeye football. 

CROWD:  Boo!

BUSH:  Good thing Bo wasn‘t there. 

(LAUGHTER) 

BUSH:  Then he remembered where he was and he called an audible.  He said that the University of Michigan was a powerhouse team.  You see, I‘m running against a fellow who is a Washington politician who‘s taken both sides of just about every issue.  And now we can add big ten football to that list. 

(APPLAUSE) 

BUSH:  I‘m running with a good man in Dick Cheney. 

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH:  A fine man.  He—I admitted he‘s not the prettiest face in the race.  But I didn‘t pick him for his looks, I picked him for his judgment, his experience.  I picked him because he can get the job done. 

(APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS:  That‘s President Bush campaigning in Michigan.  Not exactly defending Dick Cheney on the looks department.  I guess he is taking a shot at John Edwards.  Anyway, I want to thank Laura Ingraham and Pat Buchanan for being on our panel.  And don‘t forget, Senator John McCain and Rudy Giuliani are going to be the big headliners tonight at the convention, a little later on tonight. 

And in our next hour, we‘ll check in with NBC‘s Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert and ask them about what‘s going on tonight.  I‘ve already been thinking about what I‘m going to ask them.  I want to know what they think.  HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Republican National Convention continues right after this.

END   

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