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updated 8/31/2004 4:52:57 PM ET 2004-08-31T20:52:57

Guests: Ron Silver, Dee Dee Myers, Mike Barnicle, Orrin Hatch, Steven Baldwin, Lloyd Grove, Laurie Seers

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  And welcome to MSNBC‘s continuing coverage of the Republican National Convention AFTER HOURS.  Tonight, the GOP kicked off its festivities with John McCain offering a spirited defense of George W. Bush‘s leadership in the age of terror. 

RON REAGAN, HOST:  And the moving 9/11 tribute was followed by America‘s mayor, Rudy Giuliani.  But actor Ron Silver also gave arousing fiery speech.  And he joins us for the first hour tonight. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And you know, polls are showing that George Bush is moving slightly ahead of John Kerry right now.  But obviously, the Bush team wants to get out of New York with a lot more.  So what do they need to do to get that bounce?  I‘m Joe Scarborough. 

REAGAN:  And I‘m Ron Reagan.  Sit back and relax.  This is after all, AFTER HOURS, live from New York‘s Herald Square.  We‘ve kicked it up a notch for the RNC.  We even have a live band this time playing for us tonight, jazz artist of the year, Matt Schulman and Schulman System Trio.

(MUSIC)

REAGAN:  We have an amazing panel with us here tonight.    Dee Dee Myers is a former press secretary for President Clinton, actor Ron Silver, who spoke earlier tonight during the convention, and Mike Barnicle who writes for “The Boston Herald,” of course. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s begin with you, Ron.

REAGAN:  Sure, why not?

SCARBOROUGH:  You‘re the star, baby.

REAGAN:  Sure.

SCARBOROUGH:  You were there tonight.  I must admit when I first saw you up there, I said he‘s a Democrat.  Why did they give him the mike?  Answer that question.

RON SILVER, ACTOR:  You know what?  My mother and father asked me that question.  My children asked me that question.  I‘ve been pretty supportive post 9/11 of the Bush policy, vis-a-vis terrorism and Iraq. 

REAGAN:  Pretty supportive?  You were on fire up there. 

SILVER:  I‘ve been fiery supportive of President Bush, by the way. 

REAGAN:  Now did they tell you don‘t actually use the word Iraq?

SILVER:  No, of course not. 

REAGAN:  Because I don‘t think you used the word Iraq in your speech. 

SILVER:  No, not at all.

REAGAN:  Yes.

SILVER:  But I think people knew what I was talking about, don‘t you?

REAGAN:  Yes.  But it wasn‘t a deliberate thing on your part, to not actually mention...

SILVER:  No, no, no. 

REAGAN:  The war on terror but let‘s not drag Iraq into it?

SILVER:  No. 

REAGAN:  You were being subtle.  You were being nuanced.

SILVER:  I was being nuanced.

REAGAN:  Even sensitive.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, wait a second, wait a second.  No nuanced, no sensitivity in the Republican party, please. 

SILVER:  Start a case of the runs on your hands, that‘s what you got.

SCARBOROUGH:  Dee Dee Myers, obviously 1992, a lot of people look back to what Bill Clinton did in his first convention in ‘92, how he talked about how, you know, he still believed in a place called Hope.  He hit all the right notes.  Let‘s talk about the first night of tonight‘s convention.  Obviously, the big stories, John McCain, Rudy  Giuliani. 

DEE DEE MYERS, FMR. CLINTON PRESS SECRETARY:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  How did they do?

MYERS:  Well, I think John McCain did a terrific job.  I think he really highlighted the importance of the president‘s war on terror.  And he basically said this issue is more important than all others.  Basically saying, disregard whatever you think of this president on other issues.  He‘s there to fight the war on terror.

I think Giuliani also did a pretty good job in the first half of his speech.  I think he wandered a little off the track as the speech went on, but I thought he was particularly focused in the beginning.

I thought it was weaker when he actually attacked John Kerry by name.  That was I‘m sure a tactical decision on behalf of the convention planners, but I thought his speech was more powerful when he insinuated it, when he talked about the leadership in contrast with more subtle ways with other kinds of leadership.

And I think that his speech would have been more powerful had he done that.  There‘s one slightly sour note on the evening for me as a Democrat watching it, which was that it was us against them again.  If you‘re either with us and you‘re with President Bush or you‘re not against terrorism.  You‘re either with us or you‘re with the terrorists.  You‘re either, you know, a Republican or you don‘t really feel bad for the families who suffered losses on 9/11.

I felt like I was—my patriotism, my belief in America, my feelings after 9/11 were all invalid because I wasn‘t a Republican. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, of course, the Democrats had their 9/11 moments also at the convention.  Mike Barnicle, though, I mean, I want to follow up on what Dee Dee just said.  Talked about Giuliani going after John Kerry very specifically.  I find it remarkable, here we are almost in September, almost to the first official day, the opening day of the presidential campaign, the day after Labor Day.  And it seems that the Democrats are still trying to define who John Kerry is.  And the Republicans won‘t let him because they keep talking about flip flopper.

You‘ve been seeing one ad after another, whether it‘s on taxes, whether it‘s on Iraq, whether it‘s on the war on terror.  They‘re painting John Kerry as this flip flopper.  And right now, if you look at the polls, the Kerry camp still having trouble defining themselves.  What‘s the next step?  When does the Republican party this week start talking about George Bush and stop talking about John Kerry?

MIKE BARNICLE, “THE BOSTON HERALD”:  Well, I would assume that the president of the United States will speak about George Bush Thursday night when he speaks to the nation.

In retrospect off of this evening, it appears that the Kerry campaign perhaps made a strategic mistake in not slapping George Bush around more during their convention in Boston.  But tonight off of what Dee Dee was just saying, and off Ron‘s speech, actually, the Democrats speaking to this convention, I chose to go to a restaurant in Queens this evening with a friend of mine to watch the speech outside of the convention hall, apart from the politicians.  And I tell you, Joe, and Ron, I found it to be an amazingly powerful and  emotional evening out there on Main Street.

SCARBOROUGH:  Really?

BARNICLE:  When Tara Stackpole stood up, who lost her husband, Tim Stackpole, and mention that had her son was off to Iraq in the Navy at the end of the year, this small restaurant of maybe 75 or 80 people, stood crying, applauding, followed by John McCain and the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Senator McCain could well have read credibility central when he spoke to the nation and to the Republicans, obviously.

I think the Kerry campaign has got a way to go here now.  I think they got knocked off their pins a bit this evening. 

REAGAN:  Let me pick up on something you just mentioned.  During the Democratic National Convention in Boston, the Kerry campaign had relied on focus groups that told them going negative won‘t work.  It will hurt you.  Lay off of Bush.  No Bush bashing.

And we encouraged, we in the media, the larger we, encouraged that notion as well.  No Bush bashing now.  No Bush bashing we said for the first few days.  Now you say in retrospect, you know, maybe that was a mistake.  I‘m wondering if the Republican focus groups telling them filet the guy any chance you get?

SILVER:  No, I think there‘s something a little disingenuous about this, though.  How can you have an election this year and not have 9/11 as the centerpiece of the election in terms of your response to it, etcetera, as opposed to having Vietnam as the centerpiece of your election?

REAGAN:  No, I‘m talking about the personal attack on Kerry, though.  During - in Boston, which—you weren‘t there.  The Democrats really laid off of Bush.  They rarely mentioned it at all. 

SILVER:  I won‘t mislead you into war.  We‘ll only do a war we have to get into. 

REAGAN:  But not by name.  Not by name.  Not the way Giuliani attacked...

SILVER:  It would be like not mentioning Iraq. 

REAGAN:  Like not mentioning Iraq. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Gentlemen, let me—let‘s see what Senator McCain had to say.  He brought Madison Square Garden to its feet when he talked about “Fahrenheit 9/11” filmmaker Michael Moore, who‘s actually covering the convention for “USA Today.”  Let‘s listen to that. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA:  Our choice wasn‘t between a benign status quo and the bloodshed of war.  It was between war and a graver threat.  Don‘t let anyone tell you otherwise.

(APPLAUSE)

Not our political opponents, not—and certainly not, and certainly not a disingenuous filmmaker who would have us believe...

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s a remarkable moment.  And you know, the most interesting part of that moment was Chris Matthews asked, why did you talk about Michael Moore?  Did you know he was there?  He had no idea.  He said now after I brought him up, and then when he started pointing up behind me, I figured out, hey, Michael Moore is behind me.  But by that time, he said too late.  I have to go with it.

Now right now, we are looking at the Arnold.  That‘s right.  Arnold Schwarzenegger.  He is walking through.  He is casing the joint at Madison Square Garden, getting ready for tomorrow night. 

SILVER:  A California...

REAGAN:  This may be the biggest star of the convention, actually.  I mean, a huge star, of course, huge movie star before he ran for governor.  Now a big political star.  Interesting figure in the Republican party, of course, because he‘s not really all that Republican.

SILVER:  That‘s right.

REAGAN:  He‘s married to a Kennedy. 

SILVER:  It‘s a big 10.  Unlike you guys.

REAGAN:  The picture‘s a big fit.

MYERS:  Unlike us guys now.

SILVER:  You guys. 

REAGAN:  You got it.  Maybe he has some Kool-Aid. 

MYERS:  Yes.

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, Ron, I want to ask you, were you surprised?  Because I certainly was, when John McCain got up there and actually referenced Michael Moore?

REAGAN:  I was surprised to see Michael Moore in the audience.  I thought—and my first reaction was, this guy has some guts to be at the Republican convention.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes?

REAGAN:  But as you can tell from the audience, Republicans hate this guy.  I mean, he ought to marry Hillary Clinton and just get it over with.  And they could be the couple from - you know, the devil couple from hell. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Mike Barnicle, there‘s always those names you can throw out, all politicians.  I mean, if you‘re a Democrat, you‘d  always talk about Jesse Helms, Republicans.  If you‘re a Republican, you would talk about Ted Kennedy, Democrats.  It seems that  Michael Moore now has become enemy number one of the Republican base. 

BARNICLE:  Well, he‘s right up there I would assume.  But you know, notwithstanding Michael Moore, there‘s huge anxiety out there in this country about Iraq.  I think everyone would agree on that.

But the interesting aspect of John McCain‘s speech tonight, at least to me, and I think to several of the people who are watching it in this restaurant, was the visual contrast between Senator McCain, they kept flashing him, and then Michael Moore.  Back and forth, the visual contrast.

I mean, you‘d see John McCain, a recognized hero, you know, in love with this country, clearly, and Michael Moore, whom I don‘t know.  I don‘t know what he‘s all about.  I haven‘t seen the movie so I can‘t tell you.  But I mean, the visual contrast was striking to me. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Was that intentional, Dee Dee Myers?  Did they know they were going to have that?

MYERS:  I don‘t know.  Some would say I didn‘t think McCain knew that... 

SCARBOROUGH:  I just - (UNINTELLIGIBLE).  Let‘s have a—not that he‘s not a straight talker.  I cannot believe, as calculating and as ruthlessly efficient as Republicans are, that he didn‘t know that Michael Moore was in there when he referenced Michael Moore. 

REAGAN:  He said he didn‘t, though.  What John McCain said he didn‘t hide that.

SILVER:  I‘m not really sure that was Michael Moore. 

(LAUGHTER)

REAGAN:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) problem.

MYERS:  Because it‘s like you said, he‘s becoming - or like  Mike said, he‘s becoming a standard, you know, punching bag of the Republican faithful. 

SILVER:  I think there‘s a good reason for that as well.  He had a premiere of his film in Washington, D.C.  All the Democratic leadership went to the film, embraced it, gave it great reviews.  Senator Boxer was there.  Nancy Pelosi was there.  Terry McAuliffe was there.  Tom Daschle was there.  The Congressional Black  Caucus did a screening during that convention.  And Michael Moore sat next to Jimmy Carter at the convention.

There‘s a very good reason Michael Moore and the Democrats are so closely tied together.  They‘ve embraced him.  They have embraced him.

REAGAN:  Oh, sure.

SILVER:  OK, that‘s why they‘re together. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And how do those people that you sat with in the restaurant in Queens...

BARNICLE:  Well, they don‘t like Michael Moore. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I was going to ask they‘re either siding with McCain or Michael Moore. 

BARNICLE:  They don‘t like the war in Iraq.

SCARBOROUGH:  Right.

BARNICLE:  They don‘t like the war in Iraq, but they don‘t like Michael Moore. 

MYERS:  And clearly one of the things that Senator McCain tried to do tonight was to make the war on Iraq part of the war on terror, which I think - you know, when those two things get separated, President Bush loses some credibility.  When you put them together, he gains, because the war on terror is the one area where he still remains most credible with the American voters. 

BARNICLE:  And you know something, Dee Dee, again, all did I was—I don‘t work for a living, obviously. 

MYERS : You hang out in bars. 

BARNICLE:  I went up the top of the Empire State building this afternoon about 1:30. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Barnicle, what a life you have!

BARNICLE:  Well, I wanted—I went up there.  I stood in the line with the tourists, went up to the top.  And it‘s amazing.  Everyone comes out onto the observatory floor, in the 86th floor, they immediately go to the south side of the Empire State building to stare south into the distance, into the haze at two buildings that are not there.  They‘re not looking at the war in Iraq when they‘re looking at the war on terror, which clearly goes back to why Iraq is rarely mentioned in this convention.  And it‘s the war on terror, not Iraq.  And that works. 

SILVER:  Yes, but you know what?  Obviously some people like to separate the war on terror and Iraq, find them two distinct entities.

MYERS:  They are. 

REAGAN:  They are.

SILVER:  A lot of people see them as part of the same ball on wax. 

MYERS : Right, but they‘re not. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you say they‘re not.  I tell you what, about 50 percent of Americans say they are.

MYERS:  And 50...

SCARBOROUGH:  And 50 say it‘s not.

MYERS:  Right.

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s what makes this election so fascinating.

MYERS:  Yes.

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘re going to talk more about that.  And we‘re going to talk about the way the Republicans tried to tie 9/11 and Iraq together.  We‘re going to be talking to Senator Orrin Hatch, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee when we come back.

And a little bit later, Ron and I are going to be taking your phone calls.  And Ron, what‘s that number?

REAGAN:  That‘s (888) MSNBC-USA.  Give us a call.  Love to hear from you when AFTER HOURS returns live from Herald Square in New York City.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  And welcome back to New York.  I‘m Joe Scarborough.  With me now, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah,  chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Also a guy that plays music.

I mean, haven‘t you written like love songs to Ted Kennedy? You and Ted very close, but you actually play music yourself, don‘t you? 

SEN. ORRIN HATCH ®, UTAH:  Actually, I don‘t play music myself, but I do write music.  And a couple of the recent ones I wrote were “Are You Lonely Here with Me?” and “We Used to be  Somebody.”  It‘s...

SCARBOROUGH:  Big hits.  Big hits, I‘m sure. 

HATCH:  They‘re going to be.  They‘re going to be.  They‘re really good songs. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well very good.  Now tell me about tonight.  Obviously, America got its first glimpse of what George Bush, Dick  Cheney and the Republican party wanted to get to America—get out to America, the message.  How do you think John McCain did?  How do you think Rudy Giuliani delivered?

HATC:  I thought John McCain and Rudy Giuliani were a great team out there.  John was more serious.  I think he made a lot of very important points that only John McCain could make.  I loved his comment about Michael Moore.  I thought it was funny.  Some in the media were playing that as mean-spirited.  It wasn‘t at all.  I thought it was a very, very good line.

And then I thought Rudy Giuliani hit it out of the park.  He really did a terrific job.  And I think almost everybody was pleased with him. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, I was so struck that when John McCain talked about Michael Moore, obviously, nobody enjoyed that more inside there than Michael Moore.  He was laughing.  But it seemed that it was a moment that sort of, electricity shot through there.

And we were just talking about up on the stage, how Michael Moore now seems to be enemy number one with the Republican base.  What is so divisive about this Iraq War?

HATCH:  Well, as you know, Michael Moore, he took bits and pieces of various footages, put them all together in a very disingenuous way to use John‘s terms, and then called it free speech. 

Well, you know, that‘s not fair to malign President Bush the way he did and to malign the people in that film the way he did.

But you know, I got to admit, he‘s a funny guy.  I‘ll never forget back in 1999, I was running against John and President Bush as well.  And he was out there asking to us jump into a mosh pit.  I told him where to go.  At the time, I was laughing.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.

HATCH:  But in all honesty, he‘s kind of a character. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s talk about New York.  Now we‘ve had guys here non-stop.

(CHEERS)

We have a lot of people here that are supporting John Kerry.  We have a lot of people here that are opposed to the war.  Why do you think—what do you think about the decision that was made a few years back to bring the convention to New York City, a city that I understand has like 57 out of 60 councilmen who were Democrats?

HATCH:  Look, I‘m not afraid of Democrats.  I used to be one myself.  And I learned to read and write and I became a Republican. 

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘re in trouble.  Watch out now!

HATCH:  I said that once and one of the Utah papers accused me of calling all Democrats illiterate and incompetent.  I was just joking, just like I was there.

But I think it‘s great to be here in New York.  I think we‘re taking it right in here, where people probably don‘t accept Republicans very well.  And I think if they listen to those speeches tonight, they‘re going to say by gosh, this Republican stands for something.

Certainly President Bush is a leader.  He‘s not somebody who flip flops on every issue.  He‘s somebody who has guts.  He‘s somebody who has character.  He‘s somebody who has fortitude. 

And frankly, I got to tell you, I know him personally very, very much.  Having run against him and John McCain and others, I can tell you, he‘s everything we need in a president right now.  And if we don‘t stick with him, we‘re going to reap the whirlwind. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s talk about 9/11.  Again, when people talked about bringing this convention here, there were some that were afraid, and I was one of them, that it would look like a hand fisted attempt to cash in politically on the tragedy of September 11.  I looked out of the convention hall tonight, saw people crying.  Mike Barnicle was talking about being in a bar in Queens.  People crying.  What was it like inside of there?

HATCH:  It was electrifying.  Frankly, you know, the Democrats tried toy say don‘t you dare talk about 9/11.  The heck we‘re not going to talk about it.  We‘re the people who are doing something about it.  We have the guts to do something about it.

This president has the guts to do something about it.  And we‘re just not going to sit back and act like it didn‘t happen.  It was a catastrophe in this country.  And it was catastrophe because we weren‘t as prepared as we should be.  Well, we‘re going to be prepared from here on in.

And if we stick with this president, we‘ll have somebody who can lead us.  Make sure that we do what‘s right.  Make sure that we follow up.  And make sure that we end terrorism around this world. 

It‘s going to be a long term fight.  I‘m on the intelligence committee.  I know a lot about what‘s going on.  I was the first to actually warn President Clinton about Osama bin Laden back in the middle ‘90‘s.  And they didn‘t pay any attention to it, but you can see what happened today.

We‘re just going to have to keep taking it to them.  And it‘s going to take this president to do it.  I don‘t think—knowing John Kerry as much as I do, I like him personally.  I like Teresa, but the fact of the matter is, is that if you look at John‘s 20-year record in the Senate, it‘s devoid of any substantive accomplishments. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘m glad you brought up John Kerry, because I want to ask you the question that I think most Americans want to know.  You know John Kerry personally. 

HATCH:  I know him well. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Do you, or do any of your colleagues in the United States Senate question for a second that when John Kerry served in Vietnam, he was the American hero?

HATCH:  I think that everybody who served in Vietnam—I think that everybody who served in Vietnam is an American hero, including John Kerry.  I think everyone of them deserve credit.

On the other hand, you know, we‘ve had $68 million worth of money spent in scurrilous ads against President Bush.  What‘s wrong with $200,000 spent by the, you know, the swift boat people who disagree with John Kerry?

Now they—you may or may not agree with them, but they have a right to speak out, too.  And $200,000 versus $68 million.  I think it shows the kind of overwhelming antagonism there is towards  President Bush by those on the left.  It‘s just that simple. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thank you so much, senator.  And I want to thank the crowd.  You all have been extremely polite regardless of your feelings.  That‘s senatorial respect.  Thank you so much, senator.  Great honor to have to here.  Now let‘s go back to Ron in the panel. 

REAGAN:  All right, Joe.  Now let‘s get back to our all-star panel.  A lot of issues.  Tony award winning actor Ron Silver says he‘s known for his liberal leanings.  But tonight, you were front and center here at the Republican convention, on fire as I said before.  Let‘s take look at a little bit of your speech. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SILVER:  Just over 1,000 days ago, 2605 of my neighbors were murdered at the World Trade Center.  Men, women, and children, as they began their day on a brilliantly clear New York autumn morning, less than four miles from where I am now standing.

We will never forget.  We will never forgive.  We will never excuse.  Under the unwavering leadership of President Bush, the cause of freedom and democracy is being advanced by the courageous men and women serving in our Armed Services.  The president is doing exactly the right thing.  And that is why we need this president, this time!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REAGAN:  You were!  Boy!

SCARBOROUGH:  That was impressive.

REAGAN:  Did you always feel this way about George W. Bush?

SILVER:  Always, always, always. 

REAGAN: Like the moment, the first time you laid eyes on him you thought I‘m really fired up? 

SILVER:  I was invited to his baptism.  I felt...

REAGAN:  We were talking earlier about the connection of the war on terror.  And I hate that phrase, I have to say.  War on terror is meaningless. 

SILVER:  How about the war on Islamic fascism?

REAGAN:  Yes, Islamist terrorists?  Sure.  Al Qaeda.  That would be good.  Yes.

SILVER:  Once you phrase it like that, then you could see how Iraq might start to fit into the picture. 

REAGAN:  Well, Iraq was actually a secular Arab state.  Saddam Hussein was a Stalinist - well, I‘m making a very apt distinction.  So what I‘m saying is the war in Iraq, the war on terror, many people think they are different things. 

SILVER:  Yes, absolutely. 

REAGAN:  You disagree. 

SILVER:  I do not. 

REAGAN:  Yes.  Explain yourself, sir. 

SILVER:  Explain to you?  Because I think we‘re embarked right now on an ideological war that may last as long as the ideological war against Communism lasted in 1948 and 1989, where Truman very unpopular for a lot of the time was in office, got us into a hot war in Korea in 1950.  He reorganized the government, started the CIA.

And you had men like Kennan and Truman and Atchison that basically set up policy with a vision about what we were going to be fighting for 50 years.

Believe it or not, I think Rudy‘s comments about Churchill were very apt because we are now embarked on an arch of instability and an ideological war from North Africa, through the Middle East, through the subcontinent, and Southeast Asia.  And that involves a lot of Arab and Muslim populations. 

REAGAN:  You remember back in the 1980‘s when we were mostly concerned about Iran.  There were the Iranian hostages and all of that. 

SILVER:  I‘m still concerned about Iran. 

REAGAN:  Oh, I‘m sure.  And Iran and Iraq were, of course, at war.  And who were we backing in that war against Iran?  I can‘t remember.  Who was the guy?

SILVER:  Back then, it was probably Iraq. 

REAGAN:  Saddam Hussein.  That was the guy.  We were backing him. 

SCARBOROUGH:  To be real honest with you, Ron, nothing personal, buddy, but I don‘t think the people in Queens give a damn  about that tonight.

REAGAN:  Well, I‘m just giving you a little history.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know what‘s interesting, though?  If we want to talk about the sense of the past, that‘s fine.  What I thought was interesting though, was how this Republican party became—I think on foreign policy, they talked about a liberation policy.

You had, of course, John McCain talking about this being our mission - freedom.  You had Rudy Giuliani talking about what is our purpose.  It‘s liberty.  It‘s freedom.  It‘s pushing it across the globe.  And they were trying to seize the mantle of Ronald Reagan liberating Eastern Europe.  It‘s—the legend continues to grow by the minute. 

SILVER:  Well, beyond Ronald Reagan, they adopted the rhetoric of Woodrow Wilson, of Franklin Roosevelt, of Truman, of John F. Kennedy as well as Reagan.  Revolutionary liberalism.  That is our mission. 

MYERS:  But you know, you say OK, let‘s not talk about the past.  So setting aside whether or not the war in Iraq is tied to the war on terrorism. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘m talking about in 1980, who supported whom in the Iran-Iraq War. 

MYERS:  Well, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) another points, which is there is a point about competence, OK, which is regardless of whether you feel like the war on terrorism is connected to Iraq and Iraq is connected to the war on terrorism, the war in Iraq after we got to Baghdad has been a disaster.  And it‘s one - you know, Secretary Rumsfeld said before the war I have a list in my desk drawer, four page, single page, typed of all the things that could go wrong in Iraq. 

SILVER:  Hold on.  I agree with you.

MYERS:  OK.

SILVER:  The post-war planning has been wretched.

MYERS:  So competence...

SILVER:  There‘s no question...

MYERS:  ...is also - and you may have a good idea but if you can‘t pull it off, what good is it?

SCARBOROUGH:  Mike Barnicle?

BARNICLE:  Well, you know, you could hear the outlines in both Senator McCain‘s speech and Mayor Giuliani‘s speech tonight of President Bush‘s hole card, if he has one out there with the 10 percent undecided.

And it is and the certainty of belief that he has, that he brings to this issue, whether you agree or disagree.  On the war in Iraq, I mean, I think I was like most Americans.  Once Colin Powell stood up before the United Nations, I said, let‘s go.

Then they went.  And Baghdad fell.  And Saddam Hussein was found.  And then you find out that there‘s an amazing number of brave young Americans over there, operating without armored Humvees, without the proper equipment, with extended supply lines.  And clearly, they had not planned the aftermath of that war well enough.

And now they‘re not talking about it.  And that gets back to President Bush‘s certainty of belief.  If he can continue to talk about it,  and such certain and positive terms that he did prior to the war, then I think he‘s got a real chance to go well with it, that 10 percent. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And we‘ll talk about that when we come back.  Don‘t go away.  We‘ve got more coverage in the first night of the Republican National Convention, including my interview with actor Steven Baldwin when AFTER HOURS returns live from Herald Square.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REAGAN:  We‘re live in the heart of New York City, 34th and Broadway with MSNBC‘s coverage of the Republican National Convention AFTER HOURS.  We‘ve got much more ahead.

But first, let‘s get the latest headlines from the MSNBC News desk. 

BILL FITZGERALD, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Hello, I‘m Bill Fitzgerald with the headlines.  Iraqi militants threatening to kill two French journalists held hostage, gave France another 24 hours to meet their demands.  That demand, lift a ban on Muslim head scarves in French schools.  The two journalists kidnapped more than a week ago were shown al Jazeera TV, calling on their government to save their lives.

The former aide who accused New Jersey Governor James Mcgreevey of sexually harassing him will not file a lawsuit against the governor.  Golan Cipel‘s lawyer says the governor‘s resignation was sufficient admission of wrongdoing and that the issue was never about money.

And William Kennedy Smith spoke out publicly for the first time since a former employee filed a lawsuit last week accusing him of sexually assaulting her five years ago.  The nephew of Senator Ted Kennedy announced he will resign from the humanitarian group he founded while he fights these allegations against him.

Now back to AFTER HOURS with Joe Scarborough and Ron Reagan. 

REAGAN:  Welcome back to MSNBC‘s continuing coverage of the Republican National Convention AFTER HOURS.  We‘ve got a great crowd here.  And let‘s just spend a moment with them before we get to actor Steven Baldwin, who‘s also standing by very patiently.

I love these things here, these things with the—what are these?  Actually TV sets in your T-shirt?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Pretty much. 

REAGAN:  How does this work?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We actually aren‘t allowed to say. 

REAGAN:  You‘re not allowed to say?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We aren‘t allowed to say.

REAGAN:  It‘s - what is this like some new technology or something?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It is a new technology.  It‘s a new wave.  And we just wear the shirt.  So that‘s how it‘s going to arrive for now. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s T-shirt TV.  We can play any media anywhere any time.  Tonight we‘re promoting unconventional convention coverage on MSNBC.  And you could see the T-shirts at t-shirttv.com. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Ron, have you seen anything like this before?

I‘ll tell you what, walking billboards here.  Thank you so much! You kids encapsulate the entrepreneurial spirit.  Now I want to know, do we have anybody out here that was inside the hall tonight at the convention?

(CHEERS)

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  I have a yes.  OK, you‘re showing a delegate badge so I suspect you are not lying.  What‘s your name?

LAURIE SEERS, DELEGATE:  Laurie Seers. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Where are you from, Laurie?

SEERS:  Annapolis, Maryland. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Laurie, talk about the highlight of the night.  What do you think was the moment for the opening night of  the Republican National Convention?

SEERS:  I have to say the three victims of 9/11.  Their spouses, their friends, their loved ones.  And Rudy Giuliani just brought it home. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So what was—you say the three victims.  Why was that important for the Republican National Convention to start talking about September 11?

SEERS:  Because it happened right here.  You‘re all New Yorkers.  I‘m not from New York but I know people that lost loved ones here.  And these three women got up on stage.  They shared their stories.  And I think it affected all Americans. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, let‘s talk to some people—we have some very strong John Kerry supporters here tonight.  You know what?  You gave us the loudest yes.  So I‘m going to you.  I love spirit.  What‘s your name?

AMOLE (ph):  Hi, mom. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Where are you from?

AMOLE:  I‘m from New York. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, you‘re a supporter of John Kerry, John Edwards.  Tell me, what do you think about these Republicans coming to your city and invading the streets of New York?

AMOLE:  I‘ll tell you what.  I am not anti-Republican.  I‘m just mad at the Republicans for letting their party get hijacked by Bush and all these neo cons with all these Nazi little - I don‘t know weird extremist thoughts.  That‘s what I‘m worried about, not Nazi.  I‘m sorry, but they‘re a little extreme.

SCARBOROUGH:  Be a lover, not a fighter, baby.  Thank you so much.  Thank you so much.

REAGAN:  Joe, we‘ve got to talk to Steven Baldwin here. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Speaking of a lover, not a fighter. 

REAGAN:  Actor Steven Baldwin, one of the lone Republicans in a famous theatrical family dominated by outspoken Democrats.  Steven, the Baldwin dinner table these days must be something to behold. 

STEVEN BALDWIN, ACTOR:  I‘m really more of an Independent there, Ron.  I‘m not picking sides.  I‘m not even picking a candidate.

REAGAN:  No?

BALDWIN:  I‘m here for faith-based reasons. 

REAGAN:  OK. 

BALDWIN:  And I‘m here to speak to whoever will listen to me and talk about the fact that it‘s very important that anybody out there that believes that the president of the United States should be somebody who is being guided by God based on their faith, I‘m here to support that guy now.

What I‘m telling people is that I‘m going to vote for the guy that I believe has the most faith.  Now did somebody just come to mind? Don‘t say his name, but that‘s the guy I‘m voting for. 

REAGAN:  Now does it depend, which God it is?  Could it be Yahweh or somebody else?  Or does it have to be a particular God that the president needs to be guided by?

BALDWIN:  Well, that‘s just another name, actually.  See, Yahweh is God. 

REAGAN:  How about some of the Hindu gods?  Would that count also?

BALDWIN:  Well, I don‘t know nothing about those guys.  I only know in the one living God, based on Jesus Christ.  So me, I‘m going to support the candidate that guy.  And I‘m going to support the candidate that I believe is being led by that guy. 

REAGAN:  Now don‘t be disingenuous here.  You know, which guy would that be?  You can name him.

BALDWIN:  The man with the most faith.  Did somebody just come to mind? That‘s the guy I‘m voting for, Ron. 

REAGAN:  I‘m still waiting.  Is his name George by any chance?

BALDWIN:  He‘ll remain nameless.  Do you know why I don‘t say his name?

REAGAN: Why?

BALDWIN:  Because then it would seem like I have a political agenda, when my whole motivation and my agenda is faith-based.  You know, I think it‘s really interesting that we live in America and you can‘t say the pledge of allegiance anymore.  Isn‘t that interesting?

REAGAN:  Why not?  We can say it right here, couldn‘t we?

BALDWIN:  Well, yes, but not legally within our government can you say that any kind of a government reality. That‘s the truth. 

REAGAN:  Well, we can say it here in Herald Square.

BALDWIN:  Sure.

REAGAN:  I mean, if you want to, go ahead. 

BALDWIN:  Of course.  Do you remember it still?

REAGAN:  I probably don‘t, but I bet do you. 

BALDWIN:  No, I absolutely remember it.  And what‘s really kind of weird for me is...

REAGAN:  It‘s Steven!

BALDWIN:  What‘s really kind of amazing for me is, you know, we‘re living in a country that the foundations of this country were based on the ideologies of God.  You know what I‘m saying?  And it just seems to me like we‘re moving, moving, more and more away from that.  Don‘t you think?

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Steven, I was actually going to ask you if you didn‘t think that the events of September 11 did move Americans closer to having a faith in God.

I mean, I remember seeing, watching MTV with my kids two or three days afterwards.  I saw things scrolling across MTV that I‘d never seen before.  I actually would argue that over the past two,  three years, America‘s actually turned back a bit closer to God, closer to the traditional faith that Americans seemed to found this country on 225 years ago.  You don‘t see that it way?

BALDWIN:  No, I agree with you there.  But again, if I think about the two possible candidates, I believe that one of these guys has been much more verbal and much more outward about their belief system and the way they believe and their outwardness and their relationship with God.  And I‘m just somebody that thinks that is the guy I should vote for and I should get out there.

Hey, four million Christians didn‘t vote in the last presidential election.  That was determined by less than 500,000 votes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So what do you want John Kerry - you‘re not naming names.  Let me name names.  So what would you want John Kerry to say to you to earn your vote?

BALDWIN:  That‘s a good one.  Well, you‘ve got me there, buddy.

REAGAN:  He is Catholic and attends mass most Sundays. 

BALDWIN:  Well, that‘s true.  That‘s true.  Well, I‘m going to answer that by saying this.  If I believed that John Kerry was somebody who shared in the same faith that I do, the way I do, and absolutely allowed all of his decisions to be led and determined by his faith in God, then I would probably vote for him. 

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  Well I‘m sure John Kerry up in Nantucket, hanging out, having a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) with Teresa right now, is taking...

REAGAN:  Taking notes.

SCARBOROUGH:  ...notes.  And I‘m sure he‘ll be giving you a call tomorrow.

Well, listen, don‘t go away.  We‘re going to check in on the GOP party scene when AFTER HOURS returns live from Herald Square in New York City, with all of these big supporters of democracy.  We‘ll be right back in a second.  Don‘t go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, FMR. MAYOR, NEW YORK:  John Kerry‘s record of inconsistent positions on combating terrorism gives us no confidence that he‘ll pursue such a determined, difficult course.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Wow.

REAGAN:  Welcome back to AFTER HOURS here in New York, the city that never sleeps.  And city likes to party.  Joining our panel is Lloyd Grove, who writes the “lowdown” column in New York‘s “The Daily News.”  And he‘ll tell us all about the partying that‘s going on, partying the Republican way, Lloyd.

What are the Republicans doing partywise now?

LLOYD GROVE, “DAILY NEWS” DAILY COLUMNIST:  Well, it‘s very neat.  People clean up after themselves.  It‘s just really nice.  I just came from three parties tonight.  I was a bit slow, so I only went to three.  I missed your book party because it was right on deadline.

REAGAN:  It was the A party.

GROVE:  I heard it was a fantastic party.

REAGAN:   Yes.  And Joe was there. 

GROVE:  But I—then I went to the “Newsweek” party, “The Washington Post” “Newsweek” thrown by Lali Weymouth (ph).  And when she invites one to a party, you cannot refuse because she takes names.

REAGAN:  Yes.

GROVE:  And if you don‘t show up, then you hear about it later.  And it was a great party.  She got everybody.  Henry Kissinger, Ron Silver...

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s big.  That‘s big. 

GROVE:  Well, Ron is the biggest celebrity here at the Republican convention. 

DAVIS SHUSTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, you know Ron and Joe, I just got stopped outside a party outside a street just up the street.

SCARBOROUGH:  Did you really?

SHUSTER:  Yes, I got stopped at the door.  No, nobody recognized me.  We even tossed some names of the California delegation at Gotham Hall.  You know the significance of Gotham Hall, don‘t you, Joe?

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, certainly.

SHUSTER:  Gotham Hall, the famous Greenwich Springs Bank  became a landmark in 1924, but they still wouldn‘t let us know - let us in even though we knew that. 

REAGAN:  Oh, they wouldn‘t let you in. 

SHUSTER:  No, they wouldn‘t let us in.  No, I was so impressed here with Lloyd getting his... 

GROVE:  I am outraged at this injustice. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now Lloyd, I understand last night, I mean let‘s dish the dirt.  We are talking to the lowdown here.  I understand last night, that the Bush twins party was considered an unmitigated disaster on the social scene.  There were New Yorkers running in the streets screaming, cash bar, cash bar.  Was it really as bad as was reported?

GROVE:  That‘s why I sent my assistant to that party.  Yes, I heard it was terrible.  I heard there was like a two to three hour wait on line outside.  Once you got in, it was a total zoo.  The Bush twins, whom everybody wanted to see, were closeted upstairs in a VIP   room, where nobody could go unless they attended Yale with them or with Barbara. 

REAGAN:  Or signed a loyalty oath. 

SHUSTER:  I heard they had a really good happy hour.  So you know...

GROVE:  But I did hear one nice tidbit.  You know, the Bush twins have had trouble in the past with the law.  Apparently, the VIP   room, all their friends were smoking, but they abstained.  They are not breaking the law in New York.  I want everybody to know that. 

REAGAN:  They‘re like 22 years old. 

GROVE:  But you cannot smoke in this city indoors.  Otherwise, Mayor Bloomberg will come get and you drag you away. 

REAGAN:  Yes.  That‘s right.

SCARBOROUGH:  As Grayton Carter reminds us every week.  So David Shuster, are you going through streets like did you in Boston?  And can you compare the way Bostonian Democrats are partying compared to what...

SHUSTER:  Well, Joe, the streets of New York are a lot cleaner than any other city I‘ve ever seen.  They‘re so immaculate and clean and you don‘t find any garbage on the streets like...

Well, you know, why is because anybody who writes on them in chalk paint is quickly arrested in all the ways we discovered a couple days ago. 

SHUSTER:  No, we walked around yesterday and saw the demonstrators.  And in fact, you mentioned Jenna Bush.  It was actually one of the best signs we saw yesterday was a sign of Jenna Bush in combat fatigues.  And it said let Jenna serve.  And that was pretty great.  No, that got me going for a day.  Yes.

SCARBOROUGH:  Lloyd, what are the big parties coming up this week?

GROVE:  Well, tomorrow night, I‘m looking very much forward to the distilled spirits party.  That‘s always a big one.  And they gave me a VIP pin.  I won‘t bore you with showing it because you‘ll probably want to take it.

And you know, our creative coalition has parties all week, both celebrities, rock the vote.  So there will be a lot of good parties.  The McCains are throwing an Abba party Saturday night live on Wednesday.  And there will be no shortage of places to get free food and drink. 

REAGAN:  In about 30 seconds, because that‘s all we‘ve got left, can you contrast Democrat parties versus Republican parties?  Our party themes in a semi serious way?

GROVE:  Well, I just came from a party at Bergdorf Goodman.  And everybody was very well dressed and serious power suits.  Men and women both.  And you know, the Democrats were very casual.  The Republicans are very - they must have spent hours in their hotel rooms dressing up.  It‘s just a much neater, cleaner, tidier situation here. 

REAGAN:  Well, you know, they don‘t want to go out on the streets.  So they stay in the hotel rooms dressed up. 

Lloyd Grove, David Shuster, thanks for taking a minute out of your partying life to talk to us.

Next up, we‘ll be taking your phone calls.  That number is 888-MSNBC-USA.  And taking us to the break, Matt Schulman and the Schulman System Trio.  They have a CD out called “While We Sleep,” available at schulmansystem.com.  Be right back with more unconventional convention coverage live from Herald Square, New York City.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REAGAN:  We are back for AFTER HOURS on MSNBC.  Let‘s go to your phone calls

What do we got here, Joe?

SCARBOROUGH:  We got Robert from Mapleshade, New Jersey.  Robert, what did you think of the first night of the convention?

CALLER:  Well, to be honest, I tuned in.  And speaking as a politically independent person, the thing I noticed a lot is all they were talking about is terrorism and the war on terror.  And that‘s all they kept saying.  And it‘s funny because - and they said like John Kerry bad, Bush good.

Now Bill Clinton said at the Democratic National Convention that they‘re going to try make John Kerry look like, as you can‘t pick him at all for terrorism because you‘re not going to do a good job.  But that‘s just what I know.  It jus t—seemed like they‘re playing on the fear of, people‘s fear. 

REAGAN:  But don‘t you think it will probably work?

CALLER:  Well, I‘m sure it‘ll work.  That‘s how it works for a lot of regimes.  They use fear to control people.  So I mean...

REAGAN:  So if you don‘t like that sort of negative campaigning, what‘s the answer?

CALLER:  Oh, no.  Any policy that tries to focus people to do something out of fear, that‘s just bad - that‘s the a bad thing to do.  You don‘t want to act on your fears.  You want to act on your hopes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Fear is a very powerful emotion. 

REAGAN:  It certainly is.

SCARBOROUGH:  Richard Nixon actually said, of course, that voter voted their fears.  Dee Dee Myers, I want to ask you though.  Because I still think, and I know this sounds strange coming from a Republican, I think healthcare has got to be one of the top issues.  Single moms, working hard, more people working without healthcare insurance right now than ever before.  It‘s getting more expensive.  And it‘s not just the working poor that worry about it now.  It‘s people making $60, $70, $80, $100,000 that are losing jobs, that are being outsourced overseas.

MYERS:  Right.

SCARBOROUGH:  And yet no candidate is talking about healthcare. 

REAGAN:  Not much. 

MYERS:  Well, I don‘t think that‘s entirely true.  I don‘t think - I mean I think John Kerry is talking about it some out there.  And he‘s talking about it in broader economic terms about people are not only losing their jobs, but if they get new jobs, they‘re paying less money and they have...

SCARBOROUGH:  No, I mean, it‘s not at commercial.

MYERS:  Well....

SCARBOROUGH:  He‘s not leading.

MYERS:  He hasn‘t had any commercials on in the last month.  So you‘re right.  There haven‘t been any commercials. 

BARNICLE:  What do we talk about? We talk about swift boat ads when we live in a country where if you‘re thinking of retiring at 62, you‘re not going to retire because you‘ll lose your health benefits.  If your company moves overseas and moves out of state and you‘re 45, man or woman, you think about those loss of health benefits.  And yet we talk about swift boat ads and what‘s negative and what‘s positive.   When reality is, people are having difficulty, you know, paying health benefit plans that they do... 

SCARBOROUGH:  Makes me say also - I mean, let me ask you.  Ron, do you think a young working mom is worried more about what‘s happening in Iraq or how she‘s going to take her child to the doctor when he or she gets sick the next time?

REAGAN:  Day to day, she‘s worried about taking her child to the doctor.  We‘ve got 43 million people in this country with no health insurance.  That‘s a country the size of France within America who has no health insurance.  Now Ron, you‘re probably more of a liberal on this issue, aren‘t you?

SILVER:  Yes.

REAGAN:  Any thoughts on how on healthcare.

SILVER:  Did you see how liberal I was?  I was for single paid universal.  How is that for liberal?

REAGAN:  So am I.

SILVER:  So that‘s a liberal.

REAGAN:  Yes.

SCARBOROUGH:  And some of us would call that...

SILVER:  But you know what?  I was so disappointed that the three years of the Bush administration could not come up with  something.  Equally disappointed that eight years of the Clinton administration could not come up with something.  What I am concerned about...

MYERS:  Well at least the Clinton administration tried. 

SILVER:  Yeah.  But they gave up pretty quick...

REAGAN:  yes.

SILVER:  ....after the debacle early on.

REAGAN:  It was kind of a lame try, I must say.

SILVER:  Yes, it was pretty lame. 

MYERS : Well, 1378 pages worth of lame, OK.  So...

SILVER:  But there was a Medicare drug prescription bill now, right?

REAGAN:  It will - yes.

SILVER:  There is a bill. 

REAGAN:  There is a bill.

SILVER:  There wasn‘t one before. 

MYERS:  And how do you feel about that bill?  Because most seniors don‘t feel very good about that bill. 

SILVER:  I think it is a step in the right direction. 

MYERS  Oh, OK. 

SILVER:  In the direction that I would like to go. 

MYERS:  For the big help...

SILVER:  You know what‘s interesting about this discussion, though?  It‘s every election we talk about healthcare.  We talk about jobs.  We talk about all these things.  I am clearly—feel the central issues - because if a nuclear device goes off in the city, looking back in four years after millions of deaths.

SCARBOROUGH:  Right.

SILVER:  And you were talking about privatizing Social Security?  And you didn‘t take care of this issue?

REAGAN:  As much as I hate to cut Ron Silver off, I have to.  They‘re yelling in my ear.  Dee Dee Myers, Mike Barnicle, thanks so much for joining us.  Ron Silver, stick around.  There‘s much more unconventional convention coverage coming up in the next hour.

SCARBOROUGH:  And we‘re going to have more with our amazing band next.  And the Schulman System Trio when AFTER HOURS returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END   

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