updated 8/31/2004 4:46:54 PM ET 2004-08-31T20:46:54

Guests: Big Show, John McCain, J.C. Watts, Jon Meacham

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Well, that‘s a powerful address by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, one of the best speeches I have heard, and certainly following one of the really great speeches by John McCain. 

Amazing night of oratory and sentiment and strong politics—Andrea. 

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT:  In fact, both McCain and Giuliani managed in powerful speeches to articulate a link between the Iraq and the war on terror in ways that no one in this administration, including the president, had been able to do. 

MATTHEWS:  And placed it right here in New York. 

J.C. WATTS, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN:  Chris, only a few people could have given John McCain‘s speech, only a few people in government, John McCain, Colin Powell, and George Walker Bush.

And Rudy Giuliani was typically Giuliani.  And I think the underlying message here from John McCain and Rudy Giuliani is, when evil people say they will do evil things to America, we must believe them. 

MATTHEWS:  Jon.

JON MEACHAM, “NEWSWEEK”:  You had these very moderate men making a very powerful case for projecting strength to fight evil wherever they find it. 

And it was—Andrea is right—I think it articulates a creed with roots in FDR‘s internationalism and Reagan‘s ideology of freedom. 

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”:  You know what I thought was amazing?  Let look at these two lines, John McCain‘s line, the one big idea, freedom.  Rudy Giuliani, what do Republicans do?  We extend freedom.  It‘s our mission. 

Both of these men at the heart of their speeches declared that the way you beat terrorism is, you spread freedom.  They spoke to the heart of Ronald Reagan‘s Republican Party tonight, at least on foreign policy.  It was striking. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s the deal-maker for Republicans, unity on fighting terrorism.  It seemed to me that we also saw the interesting irony.  I don‘t want to get too complicated about it, because it was the sentiment that mattered. 

Two men identified not necessarily as strong supporters of the president giving him character witness.  They were saying George Bush is the man for the job. 

Let‘s go right now to NBC‘s Brian Williams.  He joins us now with more on the big moment, by the way, from the night, one of the big moments, certainly, Senator McCain‘s attack on filmmaker Michael Moore.  What a personal shot—Brian.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC ANCHOR:  That‘s right, Chris.

And, first of all, the view from inside this hall.  Rudolph Giuliani had a terrific relationship with this crowd, more than just home-field advantage, and a great relationship with the teleprompter.  His use of silence—this is a very, very tough crowd to deliver a truly emotional speech to, but they calmed down.  He had their full attention.

And about Michael Moore, Michael Moore‘s presence was noticed right here behind the podium early on.  He sat in the press section behind where the Associated Press desks were.  A lot of people early on helped up signs to try to block the camera‘s view of Michael Moore to make less of his presence here and to try to block Michael Moore‘s view of the proceedings.  The line in John McCain‘s speech about the filmmaker predated Michael Moore‘s visit here to the hallway.

But when he found his target, people by then had realized the filmmaker was up in the press section.  And then, of course, he became the target of everyone in this room.  But it was a very dramatic moment in the remarks of John McCain, before Giuliani came out—Chris.

MATTHEWS:  It certainly was.  Thank you, Brian Williams.

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

CAMPBELL BROWN, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  I am with retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Joe Repya, who has actually volunteered to go back to Iraq and is expecting to go in the next few months, or hear back. 

But, tell me, what was the best thing you heard here tonight? 

JOSEPH REPYA, CHAIRMAN, BUSH-CHENEY ‘04 MINNESOTA VETERANS:  The best thing I heard from both President—or from Giuliani, as well as John McCain, is that we are an inclusive party.  We are willing to take into our tent people with diverse ideas, not somebody that just has to tow the party line.  And that is a very important thing about the Republican Party. 

BROWN:  Well, how did you react when you heard McCain‘s direct remarks made toward Michael Moore, the filmmaker?  Did you want as much to be made of that? 

REPYA:  I would love to have an opportunity to meet that filmmaker personally. 

BROWN:  All right. 

REPYA:  Can I just let that be my answer? 

BROWN:  That will be your answer.  Thank you very much, Lieutenant Colonel. 

Let‘s go back to you, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Thanks, Campbell.

NBC‘s Chip Reid is also on the floor, Chip. 

CHIP REID, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hi, Chris. 

I randomly selected Gail Griffin of Arizona. 

I have no idea what your thoughts are on this.  I suspected.  Did those speeches live up to the expectation? 

GAIL GRIFFIN, ARIZONA DELEGATE:  Oh, they were wonderful, very inspirational, perfect example of the freedom that we need and continue—that we have and continue needing in this nation.  Freedom is not free. 

We went to ground zero today, and it was very emotional for us.  I can‘t imagine what it was three years ago.  I just can‘t imagine.  We have got some great people here in New York.  They welcomed us. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You direct the affairs of all people. 

REID:  I am going to wrap here.  There‘s a prayer going on now.  We are going to stop here.  Thank you—back to you, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Chip. 

We‘re joined once again by the anchor of “The Nbc Nightly News,” Tom Brokaw, and NBC News Washington bureau chief and moderator of “Meet of Press,” Tim Russert. 

Well, they swang for the fences tonight, gentlemen.  Did they get home runs? 

TOM BROKAW, NBC ANCHOR:  Oh, I think that you would have to say that. 

They are both very powerful symbols of national security, and Senator McCain, obviously, and Rudy Giuliani, who so symbolized this country.  And those evocative comments about the day of 9/11 that came from the widows and survivors of the people who lost their lives that day did conjure up the memories of what an awful time that was and also how this country came together. 

But, of course, that has to be contrasted against the reality that we face now in the world.  It‘s still a dangerous place out there.  The war on terrorism has not been successful yet, and the war in Iraq is not going well.  So the purpose of this convention was to make everyone understand that this president is still committed to that war, without going into any great detail about the great challenges that are still ahead, many of them unexpected, many of them based on what the president called his own miscalculations—Tim.

TIM RUSSERT, NBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF:  Tom, you are exactly right. 

The president talked about taking the offense on the war on terror. 

Rudy Giuliani and John McCain took the offense on the campaign tonight. 

BROKAW:  Right. 

RUSSERT:  What they are doing is putting John Kerry on the defense, trying to say, Mr. Kerry, you explain where you stand on global terrorism. 

There‘s no discussion of the difficulties in Iraq, no discussion of Iran or North Korea, none of those kind of specific challenges facing us.  This is the generic form:  We are united in the war on terror behind our commander in chief, George Bush.  Enthusiastic response.  Will it play with the country?  Absolutely.  Of course. 

John Kerry has a very difficult job trying to neutralize or counter that, because it‘s a more complicated argument, by saying, you have to do it in more discrete or, as he would say, sensitive way.  I think it was a very powerful and effective political night for the Republicans. 

BROKAW:  It was.  They raised that in a way here, especially in New York, just four miles from ground zero, before an audience that was visibly moved.  And who could not be when you heard from those family members, especially, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you very much, Tom and Tim. 

You know, it seems to me, Andrea, that this has been compared, this campaign we are in right now, to 1940, Roosevelt‘s last campaign.  And I was thinking, the use of ridicule and how delicious it is to enjoy no matter what your politics or perspective on the campaign.  I think Giuliani flamed John Kerry tonight.  He filleted him point by point by point, showing he was a flip-flopper.  He couldn‘t stand on solid ground.  He didn‘t have a position on anything that he would stick to. 

MITCHELL:  Well, he didn‘t have to have any facts in the speech, because standing on that podium, he could use sarcasm at will.

And you are right.  It was a very tough attack on John Kerry.  And the Kerry campaign is going to have to figure out how to respond to this.  This is an unanswered attack right now, obviously only moments ago, but they are going to have to figure out how to get through this whole portrait.  He is being redefined by the Republicans, and they can‘t let this persist for the next couple of days. 

This was, as Tim and Tom were pointing out, they didn‘t suggest any of the difficulties that are ongoing in Iraq, nor the difficulties and threats that still have not been dealt with successfully in the war on terror.  But in appealing to American patriotism and repainting the word picture of what 9/11 was like in this city and this country, they have recreated a moment that frankly had begun to be erased from people‘s memories, at least outside of New York and Washington.  And that is a very powerful thing. 

MATTHEWS:  We are going right now to Senator John McCain. 

He made his case, obviously, tonight. 

A hell of a speech, Senator, tonight.  And I guess...

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA:  Thank you, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  And I guess it was the battle of the bands between you and Rudy Giuliani tonight.  I think you made your point.

But let me ask you about the spontaneity.  Someone once told me, one of the great things you find in a leader is spontaneity.  When did you decide to target Michael Moore up there in the balcony? 

MCCAIN:  I didn‘t.  I didn‘t know that he was there until after I made the first comment.  And then it was pretty obvious he was there because everybody was pointing that way.  So, you know, I just repeated it.

But, Chris, I didn‘t mean for it to be that big of a deal.  But I do believe it‘s important to point out how terrible things were in Iraq under Saddam Hussein.  But I was very pleased at the warmth of the welcome.  A, very frankly, you have been in politics long enough.  I felt very good tonight. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about a part of the speech that might be argued about.  You talked about the president having made the difficult decision to go to Iraq.  Did you really think that was a tough call for him? 

MCCAIN:  I think any time you send young Americans in harm‘s way, and you are responsible for it, it‘s a tough call. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the president, your personal connection to the president.  You two gentlemen have had a difficult fight for the leadership of the Republican Party.  He won.  You lost.  You endorsed him.  It seemed to me tonight the strongest cohesion we have seen between you two political leaders.  Is that an estimate that‘s fair? 

MCCAIN:  Well, we get along very well together.  John Kerry remains a friend of mine.  I did quote from the speech I gave in Philadelphia in 2000, when I strongly supported his candidacy at that time.  So this is being portrayed as some kind of metamorphosis that took place.  The president and I have always had a good relationship, and we are very friendly. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me let Andrea Mitchell get in here. 

Why don‘t you talk to Senator McCain about tonight?

MITCHELL:  Well, I am wondering, Senator, whether 2008 is part of this calculus.  You are obviously getting in right with the Republican Party.  They have not always embraced you as fully as you might have liked because of some of your other views, some of the very controversial views that you have that are in contradiction with the conservatives in your own party. 

MCCAIN:  Well, Andrea, you know, there‘s always that view of things.  I am running for reelection to the Senate.  I hope that the people of Arizona will return me.  I am confident of victory.  But for me to look at anything after a reelection that I face this November would be foolish. 

Second of all, I haven‘t changed my positions on any issue one iota, and I will not change my positions, because I am finally at a stage in my life that I know when I am right.  So to act like that I am doing anything but what I intended to do last January when I campaigned for President Bush in New Hampshire, and all during 2000, when I campaigned for his election, frankly is just not an accurate depiction of the history of what I have done. 

MITCHELL:  Also on Iraq, do you think that Americans should be asking some tough questions of the administration about the way the postwar occupation has progressed, whether enough troops have been committed?  You have been on the record and you have been consistent throughout about the fact that not enough was put on the ground there, that some of the problems we have experienced have been—were caused by those decisions at the Pentagon. 

MCCAIN:  Well, that‘s right, Andrea. 

I have criticized some of the specific tactics that were used following our great, swift military victory.  But, you know, the reason why we tried to avoid wars is because mistakes are made.  In the Korean War, General MacArthur told President Truman that the Chinese wouldn‘t invade.  And so what we need to do is fix those mistakes, keeping our eye on the ball.  And that is a transition to a government of Iraq by Iraqis. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, Senator, about your discussion of Michael Moore‘s movie “Fahrenheit 9/11.”  You said that it was a disingenuous movie.  What about it was—do you believe that was not true? 

MCCAIN:  Well, I said that he was a disingenuous filmmaker. 

The movie depicted—and I haven‘t seen the full movie, but I have seen the clips of it—depicted Iraq as an oasis of peace.  It wasn‘t.  There were 8- and 9-year-old boys in prison.  I have seen the mass graves of thousands of people.  I have heard the stories of the torture chambers and the other terrible abuses that went on.  Iraq was a terrible place under Saddam Hussein. 

MATTHEWS:  But the movie made a couple of points—I wonder if you agree with those points—that war is often fought by people without power, that congressmen and senators do not usually have children who go to war and battle.  That was the main point of half the film, Senator. 

MCCAIN:  Well, I think he is right. 

I think that the burden, as I said in my speech, always falls on a few, the brave men and women who serve.  And that was one of the reasons why the Vietnam War remains so divisive, is because we asked our poorest Americans to serve, while others were able to avoid it.  But I am saying that to depict Iraq as a place of peace and tranquility under Saddam Hussein is wrong.  And it was dead wrong.

And we were right, in my view, to go in there and remove a person who had used weapons of mass destruction before, had them.  Every intelligence agency in the world believed that he had them.  But if he didn‘t, if he were still in power, he would be trying to acquire them and eventually use them. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, something, Senator like—there‘s something like a gate so far for that film of like $200 million so far.  It may well be nominated for the Academy Award next season.  Why did you decide not to go see it? 

MCCAIN:  I decided not to go see it because I didn‘t want to contribute to it.  And I saw tens of hours of clips from it, free, on MSNBC.  

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Are you going to meet with Michael Moore?  Or is this the end of your duel right now tonight? 

(LAUGHTER)

MCCAIN:  Listen, I believe that he was wrong in the film in depicting the state of Iraq.

But I don‘t have any vendetta.  The important thing for me tonight was to give a speech, to give a message that we are still in a very serious war, that President Bush has proven his reasons for reelection by his leadership of the nation.  And that‘s the main thrust of my speech.  The other thing is just, frankly, a sidebar. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, you gave a very uplifting part to your speech tonight that I think a lot of people would like to see in both parties take place. 

You talked about our ability to have a general election campaign from here to Election Day in which we all look upon ourselves as Americans, in which we respect different points of view.  I know you do.  Do you think you can be what someone called the umpire of this campaign, the referee?  Can you play that role, as well as being a supporter of the president? 

MCCAIN:  Well, I was very pleased, Chris, when I said we are Americans first, Americans last and American always, at the reaction of the people in this convention hall. 

They are the most partisan people.  Obviously, they are our party loyalists.  But even they by their response indicated that they would like to see the level of this campaign raised.  Why are we fighting a war that was over 30 years ago when we have a war going on now where Americans are being killed and injured as we speak? 

MATTHEWS:  Well, do you think that can stop?  Do you think the Republican Convention, ironically, can serve as a fire break in that debate of words over what happened all those years ago in the Mekong River? 

MCCAIN:  I think the president is going to give a very forward-looking speech.  I think he is going to give an agenda for the future.  And I believe that he is going to refrain from attacks on John Kerry, because I think what the American people want to hear from him, and I think he believes it, is our agenda for the next four years. 

MATTHEWS:  You are thought of by many people as a kind of a Teddy Roosevelt Republican, a reformer.  And one of your great reforms is the bill that you passed with Senator Feingold of Wisconsin.  Do you believe that you have succeeded with reform, with all these 527 groups out there spewing different messages without the accountability of a campaign? 

MCCAIN:  Well, we have increased the number the number of people who contribute, small contributors.  We have moved a lot of power back to the parties, which we wanted. 

We have largely succeeded.  No longer can a federal official, a congressman or a senator, pick up the phone and call a lobbyist or a lawyer or a union leader and say, I want to check for seven figures, and, by the way, your bill is up before my committee next week.  The 527s are a disgraceful and despicable performance on the part of the Federal Election Commission, which is not enforcing existing law. 

And that‘s why I was so pleased the president said, we are going to take them to court.  Led my Ellen Weintraub, a Democrat apparatchik, and Bradley Smith, a Republican right-wing extremist who has no regard for the law and the Constitution, the Federal Election Commission needs to be abolished or reformed and they need to be forced to enforce existing law. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you—I want to tell you right now we have got on our panel tonight a man who has said nothing but glowing things about you as a possible president.

Mr. J.C. Watts, former United States congressman of Oklahoma, would like the floor. 

MCCAIN:  Hey.

WATTS:  Hey, Senator.  How are you? 

MCCAIN:  Thank you.  Thank you, J.C.

WATTS:  Hey, I made the comments earlier, Senator, that I think there is only two or three people in public service today that could have given that speech, George Walker Bush, Colin Powell, and John McCain.  I thought you performed very, very well.  I like the fact that you challenged us to be Americans. 

But, secondly, I also want to say I am proud of the fact that you have stood—in the eight years I was around, that you stood as an individual, and sometimes stood alone, for the right thing.  So I do hope—I am going to go on the record to say, I hope you will consider ‘08. 

MCCAIN:  And I thank you.

MATTHEWS:  Well, he has said that about 10 times tonight, Senator, so I think he will keep saying it. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Congratulations on a barn-burner tonight, Senator John McCain of Arizona. 

MCCAIN:  Thank you.  Thank you. 

(APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go back to our panel for an historic perspective.

MCCAIN:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  We are all caught up, Andrea and I and J.C., in the sentiments of powerful oratory. 

Return us to earth.  Is this a big night in the Republican Party?  It seems like it was a better night for the GOP than that night with Bill Clinton in Boston was for the Democrats. 

MEACHAM:  Absolutely.  That was a night where the Democrats looked back.  And this is a night where the Republicans looked forward. 

I mean, let‘s not forget, amid Giuliani‘s wit and his great Saint Patrick Day‘s-New York pol shtick, he said President Bush sees world terrorism for the evil that it is.  John Kerry has no such clear, precise and consistent vision.  That‘s a hell of a thing to say about the Democratic nominee and a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War. 

That is taking the fight directly to the nominee.  And it‘s what the Republicans have been running on and are going to run on. 

MATTHEWS:  There‘s only one better character witness I think the president could have had tonight.  That would be the secretary of state, who is not allowed to participate in partisan elections. 

MEACHAM:  That‘s right. 

MITCHELL:  The interesting thing is that Colin Powell and Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice are not here.

But there is some tradition.  Jim Baker was in Houston in 1992.  Of course, he was about to leave as secretary of state and become campaign manager.  So there have been secretaries of state.  George Shultz attended Republican Conventions.  So it may be a little bit artful.

MATTHEWS:  Are you saying Colin Powell ducked this convention?

MITCHELL:  No, because none of the foreign policy folks are here. 

The entire foreign policy team, the war Cabinet, is not here.  That was a strategic decision that they made.  But Colin Powell, I think, is more colorful—much more comfortable not being here. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Was this a judgment call by the president and his people?

MEACHAM:  I think so, because you don‘t need them. 

You get the surrogates.  You get McCain and Giuliani to say what they said tonight.  Why would you want to bring anyone else in?  You have two people from the center of the party defending the most hawkish elements in the party.  We were talking about before, it‘s the Kristol-Kagan, neoconservative view of the world that Rudy Giuliani... 

MATTHEWS:  Embraced. 

MEACHAM:  A Rockefeller Republican, absolutely articulated.

MATTHEWS:  It seems like the Republican Party is not only becoming the conservative party.  It‘s becoming the neoconservative party, in terms of the following particular doctrinaire issues.  Not only do you go fight terrorism in its bed, or potential terrorism in its bed.  You go out and try to push democracy, systematically, throughout the—in this case, the Arab world, the world out there.  You fight for democracy. 

MEACHAM:  We have talked about this before, but it‘s a strange combination of Woodrow Wilson idealism and Ronald Reagan strength. 

MITCHELL:  Of course, it is not...

MEACHAM:  It‘s a crusade. 

MITCHELL:  It‘s not exactly working so far, this whole business of

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Go ahead.

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  Democracy flowering all over the Middle East is not happening. 

WATTS:  I think that the answer is highly controversial, but I wouldn‘t say that it‘s not working. 

I think we have seen some successes, some serious successes on the war

against terrorism in Iraq, June 30, the transition.  There‘s been some

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  No, I‘m not saying that, J.C.  You are right.  I am just

saying that it has not spread democracy.  And, in fact, it‘s had a contrary

effect in the immediate

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  It‘s possible it could spread democracy.  We can all hope for that.

WATTS:  That‘s right. 

MATTHEWS:  But in the process of spreading democracy by force, the irony is, people may hate us as they go toward democracy.  We may find even in Iraq a government forming over there that we helped to form, a democratic government, that decides it doesn‘t like our interests.  We could find ourselves in Egypt perhaps moving towards some sort of political change there, but they are not going to like us in the course of doing it. 

MEACHAM:  But one of the things that Giuliani in particular did is, he reminded us that this is a crucially important election.  Arguably, more in the world is at play than has been since 1948.  You have an entire world that is in transition, and the Republican Party is not being embarrassed at all about the creed they want to take out there. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let me—I want to end up closing the evening with some really roundhouse questions, each of you in a row, and I will stay out of it. 

Giuliani‘s performance tonight, how it affects his potential presidency?

MITCHELL:  I think this broadens his appeal.  It makes him a national figure again; 9/11 was several years ago.  He is now back on the stage.  And he gave a red-meat speech against John Kerry, contrary to John McCain, who said we can have differences and still all be Americans.  His was a conciliatory appeal to the mainstream, independent swing voters.  Rudy Giuliani‘s appeal, beyond the America and patriotism, was really tough politics. 

WATTS:  You know, Chris, what I saw tonight and what we all saw tonight in Rudy Giuliani, that‘s the Rudy Giuliani that I know, a great storyteller, a guy that has—he gets along with people.   He is good with crowds. 

I think he enhanced his stature tonight.  The things that he said about John Kerry, there may be some people that might not like that, but I tell you, they can‘t dispute the fact that John Kerry has changed on $87 billion for the Iraq war.  He said, “I voted for it before I voted against it.”  Those other things that he laid out, I mean, those things are factual.  They are on the record.  They are public knowledge.

So people will have to take that as they want to.  But I think Rudy Giuliani helped himself tonight in the party. 

MEACHAM:  Absolutely. 

I think this speech, in many ways, for him politically, saves him with the base on many of his social views, which are New York Republican, but that‘s not the heart of Republican America.  He is pro-choice, pro-gay rights. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MEACHAM:  What he did is, he used projecting strength abroad I think to say, look, if he, Mayor Giuliani, were running, I will keep us safe.  You can trust me. 

MATTHEWS:  The Republican Party, I have learned from my brother and others, is a party of waiting your turn, much more than the Democratic Party.  Whose turn is it in 2008, Bill Frist, John McCain, or Rudy Giuliani?  Whose turn is it?

MITCHELL:  John McCain, without a doubt. 

WATTS:  Well, you know, John McCain surely will have to be reckoned with if he chooses to run.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, if everybody votes like you, he‘ll walk in the door. 

(LAUGHTER)

WATTS:  But George Pataki, Rudy Giuliani, Bill Frist, I think...

MATTHEWS:  Whose turn is it? 

WATTS:  Well, I am not for that turn stuff.  Let the best guy win. 

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Jon, knowing the Republican Party as a culture, a guy like Ronald Reagan ran twice, finally won.  Nixon waited his turn.  Bob Dole waited his turn.  Is it a wait-your-turn party? 

MEACHAM:  It is.  If this were Shakespeare, it would be Jeb‘s turn.  Let‘s keep that in mind.  But in terms of service to the party, it‘s McCain‘s, but Giuliani did a lot tonight to put himself at the front of the line. 

MATTHEWS:  Boy, he did.  I agree with you all.

Anyway, thank you, Andrea Mitchell.

J.C. Watts, Congressman, thank you for coming on tonight.  Thank you for joining us all week.

Jon Meacham, an historian, as well as a journalist, we will see you all again tomorrow night, including the—guys on the panel, I am talking to you right now, who has been staying up waiting with us. 

Coming up, the stars of professional wrestling have a campaign to get out the vote.  And when we come back, the professional wrestler the Big Show will join here at Herald Square.

You are watching HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Republican Convention on MSNBC. 

CROWD:  Kerry!  Kerry!  Kerry!  Kerry!  Kerry!  Kerry! 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIULIANI:  At the time, we believed that we would be attacked many more times that day and in the days that followed.  Without really thinking, based on just emotion, spontaneous, I grabbed the arm of then Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik.  And I said to him, Bernie, thank God George Bush is our president. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWD:  Kerry!  Kerry!  Kerry!  Kerry!  Kerry!  Kerry! 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL‘s coverage of the Republican Convention.  We‘re out still here at New York‘s Herald Square at 34th Street, continuing tonight with the miracle on 34th street. 

It is only fitting that we end our big show with none other than the professional wrestler whose name is the Big Show. 

Big Show, you‘re here.  I‘ll call you Big.  What do you—how do you

·         how do you...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

MATTHEWS:  Please. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Anybody who wants to take this guy can cross the line right now.  OK.  Look, I want to ask you, can you tell me how to get young people to vote? 

BIG SHOW, PROFESSOR WRESTLER:  That‘s what we‘re doing here.

WWE, involved with MTV, we‘re out here trying to get 18-to-30-year-olds to vote.  We‘re trying to get two million or more in 2004, which would be a 10 percent increase from last year.  So we‘re trying to get young people out to vote, you know?

A lot of the issues that are going on today, the candidates are discussing today, actually involve us later down the road.  You know, decisions on Social Security, decisions on things that are going on overseas and what not, that really does affect us.  And if you want to have a voice, you have got to get out and vote. 

All the stars, all the country music people, everybody in the world can say their political opinion, and that‘s fine.  The only way you‘re going to be heard is to vote.  Bottom line. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you say to people about the last election and all the questions that were raised about Florida and the count and whether the count was straight or not? 

BIG SHOW:  I live in Florida.  And Florida was fine.  Everything was good in Florida.  I live there. 

MATTHEWS:  Ha! 

(LAUGHTER)

BIG SHOW:  We were fine in Florida.

MATTHEWS:  That woman Theresa LePore is fighting for her life down there in Palm Beach County. 

BIG SHOW:  There might have been a few too many margaritas passed around.  That might have been—had a lot to do with the counting problem.  I don‘t know what the deal was with that.  I think this year, because it was such a major embarrassment for Florida, too, I think this year they‘ll definitely be on the ball and have everything straightened out. 

MATTHEWS:  Why don‘t I let you make your pitch right now, OK? 

BIG SHOW:  My pitch. 

MATTHEWS:  No, talk into the camera.  There‘s some people—kids stay up late these days.  My kids stay up until around 3:00 sometimes.  So let‘s talk to the kids right now.  Why should a kid who has just turned 18, wherever he comes from, whatever his background, what he‘s a Dem or a Republican or a Naderite, why should he vote?

BIG SHOW:  The reason you should vote if you‘re 18 to 30 years old, flat out, bottom line, you‘re the future leaders of our country.  You‘re the future generation that is going to shape our country and mold our country. 

Right now, you‘re 18 years old.  You‘re eligible to vote; 18 to 30 is your chance to get out and start molding the country, to make it the country that you want it to be when you‘re older.  Now is the time to get involved.  Now is the chance to understand your politics.  Understand your candidates.  Research, whether Republican, Democrat, whatever it is.  Find your candidate that has the issues that you want represented when you‘re older. 

If you want Social Security to be a certain way when you‘re older, find the candidates to support that and get out and vote.  The only way you have a voice, the only way people listen to you is by registering and by voting.  You want your future set?  Get out and vote. 

MATTHEWS:  They also have to, if they‘re away at school, if they‘re lucky to be going to college right now, how do you tell them to vote if they‘re away at school?  Do they have to register for absentee or what do they have to do? 

BIG SHOW:  I don‘t know. 

MATTHEWS:  Hah!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Well, you do.  Let me just finish the thought.  If you want to vote and you‘re away at school, get ahold of your local—call home and talk to the congressmen or get your parents to do it for you, because you have got to register to vote in order to vote.  And you also have to get an absentee ballot if you‘re away at school.  And what else?  And I think you have to vote at home.  You can‘t vote at school. 

BIG SHOW:  See, that‘s why I love you on HARDBALL.  I just got an education right here, HARDBALL style, right between eyes, don‘t I?

MATTHEWS:  I think we have got to tell them how. 

Do you know why—why do young people not vote?  It seems to be pretty easy to vote.  It is free.  It is really one of the free things in the world.  They have got something better to do on November 2? 

BIG SHOW:  I think a lot of times, young people get in a situation where they think that it isn‘t important, that their vote doesn‘t matter.  Every vote counts. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s hear it for the Big Show!

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)  

MATTHEWS:  OK.

I want to thank everybody.  I would like to thank the 34th Street Partnership, who have made it possible for MSNBC to have our great show here tonight for six hours at Herald Square, and, by the way, more coming.  By the way, Sixth Avenue meets Broadway in the heart of New York City.  It is also where 34th Street meets Broadway. 

We‘ll be right back tomorrow night and all week long, right through Friday night.  Tomorrow, our guests include Ben Stein, Senator Trent Lott and a lot of other Republicans. 

Right now, our coverage—I‘ve had so much fun tonight—of the Republican National Convention continues with “AFTER HOURS” with Joe Scarborough and Ron Reagan.  Joe and Ron have a wrap-up of all the day‘s events here in New York, plus your phone calls. 

See you tomorrow. 

CROWD:  Kerry!  Kerry!  Kerry!  Kerry! 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

END   

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