updated 8/31/2004 10:09:24 PM ET 2004-09-01T02:09:24

Guest: Christie Todd Whitman, Sheri Annis, Pam Olson, Trent Lott, Gerry Parsky, Stephen Baldwin, Bernard Kerik

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA:  Keep that faith.  Keep your courage. 

Stick together.  Stay strong.  Do not yield.  Do not flinch.  Stand up.  Stand up with our president and fight.  We‘re Americans.  We‘re Americans, and we‘ll never surrender!  They will.


CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  And welcome to MSNBC‘s coverage of the Republican national convention in New York.  The Grand Old Party plans to put on quite a show tonight, putting its biggest stars center stage, featuring speeches from California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the first lady of the United States, Laura Bush, with very interesting messages.  We‘ve gotten a tease of them.  We‘ll share that with you.

Joining me tonight in historic Herald Square our panel, Republican strategist Sheri Annis, “Newsweek‘s” Howard Fineman, and NBC News White House correspondent—he said breathlessly—David Gregory.

But first, let‘s go to the skybox and the anchor of NBC‘s “Nightly News,” Tom Brokaw, and NBC Washington bureau chief and moderator of “MEET THE PRESS,” Tim Russert.  Tom and Tim, let me ask you for a judgment, if it‘s possible objectively to give one.  Who had the best debut, the best first night, Bill and Hillary in Boston, or John McCain and Rudy here in New York?

TOM BROKAW, ANCHOR, “NBC NIGHTLY NEWS”:  Oh, you‘re not going to lure me into that kind of a judgment.  This is not the Miss America contest.  I‘m not going to start holding up cards—five, four, three, two, one.  I think that Bill and Hillary had a very good evening, if you‘re a Democrat, and I think if you‘re a Republican here last night, they feel very strongly that John McCain and Rudy Giuliani did what they wanted them to do.

What we don‘t know yet, Chris, and probably won‘t for some time is what that undecided voter in Ohio or Pennsylvania or Wisconsin and Iowa is thinking tonight.  That‘s what really counts, and especially in the state of Florida, when you‘re talking about terrorism.

It‘s a very well-orchestrated convention.  Everything is moving on time.  There will be—once they go to primetime tonight for the networks, there‘ll be very little time in between these speakers for us to say anything.  We‘ll see the Bush family in all of its glory.  And I‘ve also been struck, Tim, by Vice President Cheney, who the Democrats were able to call the Darth Vader of the administration, the stealth vice president—suddenly, he‘s America‘s grandfather.  He‘s everywhere with his two daughters and his grandchildren and his wife at his side, and he‘s showing up at Ellis Island.  Whatever happened to undisclosed location?

TIM RUSSERT, MODERATOR, “MEET THE PRESS”:  He‘s been sitting in his box every night, very proudly.  But Tom, you‘re exactly right.  The orchestration will continue tonight not only with the Bush family but Arnold Schwarzenegger.  And why Arnold Schwarzenegger, governor of California, obviously, largest state?  He has crossed-over appeal.  As an immigrant, he‘s going to make a direct appeal to Hispanic voters.  If the Republicans can get a piece of those, look out.  Also, those undecided white male voters in the battleground states—they think Arnold may have a little juice with those guys, and that‘s what you‘re going to hear tonight.

It‘s all an attempt to just move beyond that base.  You don‘t need much in the margins and you can deliver those battleground states.

BROKAW:  And Chris, both these speakers tonight, the first lady and Arnold, also speak to something else that‘s important, according to all the pollsters.  They‘re practical and authentic people.  They‘re not bound up in the ideology of the parties.  So that will be important.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about what you think of the stagecraft last night and the whole scheduling of the program last night.  Do the Republicans believe that terrorism, the concern many voters still have for terrorism and a possible second strike, is their main card in this campaign?

BROKAW:  Well, I think it‘s—it continues to show up in the polls as a primary concern.  And of course, we‘ve had a spike in the threats here in recent days.  And when you come to New York and you can have those family members on the stage, it is so evocative about what we all went through on September 11, but you have to contrast that, as I said last night, with what‘s going on in Iraq right now and the inability of the United States to catch Osama bin Laden.  There‘s been no reference to that.  They really went back to the beginning by showing the president in those moments when he came up here and stood at ground zero with his arm around the fireman, and so on.  So they‘ve been staying away from the conduct of the war itself at the moment.

But I do think that across the country, there are still a lot of people who believe that terror is a real threat.  And in fact, it is.  It‘s a dangerous world.  Not anyone on the Democratic side who‘s paying any attention will disagree with that.

RUSSERT:  Tom, if this is a referendum on September 11 or George Bush as commander-in-chief of the war on terror, he wins.  John Kerry has to make it a referendum on Iraq, the economy and the future of the country with his vision.  We still have not heard it as specifically as Democrats are asking him to lay it out.

MATTHEWS:  Following up Tim‘s question, our thought there, it seems to me that the Kerry people must be rocking right now, thinking, My God, that‘s a powerful message coming out of New York.  It‘s shaking us to our knees.  How does Kerry come back now, having more or less failed or faltered so far with his pose as a war veteran, a hero of Vietnam from all those years ago?  Is there some other front on which he can attack the president on the issue of terrorism besides his war record?

BROKAW:  Well, I think that‘s a proposition that, again, I don‘t want to get into, Chris, because I don‘t want to be running the Kerry campaign or the Bush campaign, for that matter.


BROKAW:  But I did notice today that they made a very big buy, and the Kerry people will tell you, Look, he‘s a terrific debater.  The debates are going to be paramount in this campaign when they go head to head against each other.  I talked to Karen Hughes today, and I said, Two or three?  And she said, Well, at least two.  We‘ll probably end up with three, but the Bush people are going to start with just two, and they‘re going to do it in a way so that they can recover if things don‘t go well.  We‘ll have a couple of weeks left to campaign.

RUSSERT:  And Chris, as early as tomorrow, John Kerry‘s going to try to find his voice at the American Legion convention and lay out his views on the war on terror, probably talk a little bit about the swift boat controversy, as well.  He knows he has to jump-start his campaign again and try to slow down this Bush momentum.

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much, Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert on the convention floor—up in the...

Let‘s go right now to the panel, a new panel, Sheri.  Let me ask you about this question we‘re looking at tonight.  Strong role for a woman in American politics tonight—thank you, Governor, for joining us, as well.  Let‘s go through this again.  Sheri Annis is a Republican strategist, the last time I checked.  Howard Fineman, “Newsweek,” always.  David Gregory, White House correspondent for NBC News.  And of course, the former very likable, very beloved governor of New Jersey...


Right.  Thanks...

MATTHEWS:  ... for all those years...

WHITMAN:  ... for the reception.  You didn‘t have to do that (UNINTELLIGIBLE)


MATTHEWS:  Thank you.  I have to start it.  I want the two women to go first tonight because it is fascinating for a woman to play a point role in American politics.  It looks to me like Laura is not going to just be the lovey-dovey, I love my husband woman tonight.  She‘s out there on front on a couple of issues this week.  She‘s certainly out front on the issue stem cell, defending her husband, and taking it as her own position, as well.

Secondly, she‘s saying those ads are just fine being run against her husband because—the ones being run on behalf of her husband against Kerry because the ones being run against her husband are so tough.  So tough, is her attitude, basically.  Sheri, how‘s it working?

SHERI ANNIS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Well, basically, I feel that the role of the first lady is changing in the United States.  Women in the past have always been seen as more meek and behind the scenes, and the people—and the press even made fun of Nancy Reagan for having her eyes gaze toward him and really giving up—devoting a lot of her life to him.  But we saw later on that she really had a big influence.

Well, now Laura Bush is coming out in front.  Just as Lynne Cheney has her own ideas and her own opinions and a career before her, the first lady is coming out and saying—not only supporting her husband but really talking policy.  And I think that‘s good.  As long as she talks policy about what she believes in and it‘s true to her heart, I think that‘s good.  The only thing Americans don‘t like is someone like Hillary Clinton, who basically feels like she is elected with her husband.


ANNIS:  Laura Bush has never done that.  She‘s never commanded—said that, I take over that role.

MATTHEWS:  As the late Mary McGrory once said, Hillary didn‘t just want the advice role, she wanted the flip charge, the staff, she wanted it all.

ANNIS:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  Do you agree with that assessment?

WHITMAN:  I do, absolutely.  I mean, I frankly think Bill Clinton put Hillary Clinton in an impossible position when he gave her that role and made it so public and said, She is going to run this.  She hadn‘t been elected to anything.  What Laura Bush is doing now is standing up, saying, I do have opinions, and I believe in this man.  I know him better than anyone else, and he believes in these issues and I‘m with him.  And you know, this election isn‘t going to be decided on the first lady.


WHITMAN:  There‘s no question about that.  But she‘s also his best friend, and that‘s important.

MATTHEWS:  Laura doesn‘t have anything on her husband, either.


MATTHEWS:  Hillary Clinton had something on her husband.  Now, just remember—let‘s talk political leverage here.


MATTHEWS:  ... had the Paula Jones case, live and fighting.  It was riveting at the time she said, Oh, Bill, I‘ll cover for you if you give me those flip charts and the staff to write health care legislation.


DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  But you know, Chris, there‘s also a bit of fiction here that Laura Bush is the reluctant campaigner, and the president perpetuates that.  She perpetuates that.  What we‘ve seen in the last couple of weeks is that she‘s got some daggers to throw, and she‘s not afraid to throw them.  I traveled with her several months ago and—doing a story about how she‘s a potent secret weapon.  Well, it‘s not really much of a secret anymore.  And she made the point, Look, I know this guy better than anybody else, and I‘m going to stand up for him.  And she‘s willing to throw some serious jabs.

You mentioned stem cell, the 527s.  Back when the 9/11 commission was in the sights of this administration, she was the one who got out in front and said they‘re being too partisan.  She was part of this campaign to dial them back.  So she plays a big role.

MATTHEWS:  You know how you do a—file a report at night for the “Nightly,” and someone in New York says, Good tough piece, David Gregory,” right?  You know that feeling, really a  good journalistic piece, really hard and tough.  And then you have to go and walk past Laura the next day, OK?  What‘s that like?

GREGORY:  You know, I remember I was at the ranch one time, and Governor Bush was leading a tour.  And I decided to stay back because I‘d been on the tour.  This was—I‘m sorry, this was when he was President Bush.  And I was sitting around talking to the first lady, and I remember saying, you know, Do you ever get—do you get used to it?  You get used to the spotlight, and so on and so forth.  And she made it very clear with her look that she didn‘t want to have a candid moment with me.


GREGORY:  She wasn‘t willing to share, so I went back to talking about kids again...

HOWARD FINEMAN, “NEWSWEEK”:  You weren‘t able to charm her, to lower her defenses, David?


MATTHEWS:  You mean, it wasn‘t like, let‘s not pretend we‘re chums in college?


GREGORY:  We‘re sitting by the pool, but I don‘t want to talk!


FINEMAN:  I remember from the campaign trail, as gracious as she always was, she had an eagle eye for everything that was going on.  I remember being behind the scenes at a New Hampshire debate in 2000.  She had her eye on everything, worked the crowd superbly, but with a touch that made it seem like she was the homey wife.  If she invited you into the governor‘s mansion, there were political reasons for doing it, but also a personal sense and a graciousness.  She‘s able to do it with a graciousness that is very engaging.  It‘s, if I may say so, Southern.

WHITMAN:  And she‘s not threatening.

FINEMAN:  And she‘s very, very good at it, but she doesn‘t miss anything.  She‘s the reader.  She‘s the studier.  She‘s very studious about politics.

GREGORY:  And you know, I‘ll tell you something that‘s important about tonight is that we‘re not just going to see Laura Bush, we‘re going to see the president‘s daughters for the first time in a big public role.  And we‘re going to see the complete family unit and get a side of Bush, as the family man.  He‘s going to be introducing his wife.  We‘ll see how much he loves his wife and how much he really does depend on her for advice.  This is a strong woman in this relationship.  Any president who admits that—at one point, as he did on “Oprah” in 2000, she basically said, it‘s Jack (ph) or me.

FINEMAN:  It‘s a close family.  I know.  Having been down there when they were governor, it‘s a close family.  And they love to kid.  The daughters love to kid George W.  They needle him, like any teenage kids would.  It is a very, very close family, really is.


MATTHEWS:  ... tonight?  The big night is Laura Bush.  The president will introduce her, and the daughters will introduce him...

GREGORY:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  ... in remote.  Tell me about the daughters.  They‘re both

cute.  They‘re definitely dolls, by male—most males‘ perspective, a

reasonable male‘s perspective.  They‘re fun.  One guy—some terrible guy

·         what a loser—called 911 because one ordered a margarita in some bar!

GREGORY:  Right.  Right.


MATTHEWS:  The kind of trouble they‘ve been in is so small-time for most parents.  Tell me about them.

GREGORY:  Well, you know, back in 2000, Governor Bush at his mansion looked us very pointedly, shaking a finger, said, Keep my daughters out of it.  They have nothing...

MATTHEWS:  You guys.

GREGORY:  Yes.  They have nothing to do with this process.  And everybody pretty much respected that.  And now, of course, they‘re playing a deliberately more active role.  Look, I think they‘re average, you know, young women.


GREGORY:  They go to college.  They‘re having a good time.  Yes, they‘re—I mean, I don‘t know them.  I stood right behind—right in front of Barbara Bush getting on a plane on a foreign trip, and she was coming in the back with the other reporters.  Again, she wasn‘t real chummy, either.  But I think they‘re typical kids who have something to say, and they‘re going to start to say it now.

MATTHEWS:  One‘s Texas and one is Yale.

GREGORY:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  There‘s a—there‘s a culture gap, isn‘t it?  Or not?

FINEMAN:  Well, that‘s the Bush family, Texas and Yale.  It‘s the Bush family.  Barbara Bush chose to follow the Bush family tradition in going to Yale, and Jenna decided to stay at the University of Texas.  They waited to put them out to the spotlight until after they‘d graduated from college.  Once they were graduated, I think the thought was, heading into the campaign, they would (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

MATTHEWS:  One question.  Is Laura Bush, the first lady, tonight going to make an overt appeal to those evangelical voters out beyond the city streets of New York, who live in the—you laugh because there‘s a difference, isn‘t there?  I don‘t think this is—I don‘t think we‘re in Kansas anymore.


MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, Governor, do you think that she will appeal to the people in the country?

WHITMAN:  I think she‘ll appeal...

MATTHEWS:  I mean the church-going, regular...


WHITMAN:  ... but I don‘t think she‘ll make an overt—if you‘re meaning an overt sort of be conservative appeal, no.  She‘s going to talk about the—her belief in the president.  She‘s going to talk about the issues—I mean, I believe.  I haven‘t seen her speech...


WHITMAN:  ... of what she thinks are important to this country and to the values of this country because she believes in that deeply.  But she‘s also—I think you will see her talk about the future, talk about children, talk about her passions of education and reading and what this president has tried to do through No Child Left Behind.

MATTHEWS:  What does it seem more like on Herald Square right now, the French revolution...


MATTHEWS:  ... the Cuban revolution or the Russian revolution?  What do you think?


GREGORY:  This is like every city I‘ve been to with President Bush abroad, mostly—London, Madrid.


MATTHEWS:  When we come back, we‘re going to stay with the people.  We‘re going to go back down to the convention floor, as well.  Plus, we‘ll be joined by Senator Trent Lott.  And this ain‘t Jackson, Mississippi, Senator!

You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Republican national convention on MSNBC.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Kerry!  Kerry!  Kerry!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Kerry!  Kerry!  Kerry!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Kerry!  Kerry!  Kerry!


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Every one can be great because anybody can serve.  You don‘t have to have a college degree.  You only need a heart full of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a soul (UNINTELLIGIBLE) by love.  President Bush...



MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL‘S live coverage, as you can hear, of the Republican national convention.  We‘re here at Herald Square at 34th and Broadway.

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


CHIP REID, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hi, Chris.  I want to try to get to one of the real tensions in what‘s going on here on the floor tonight, with Arnold Schwarzenegger speaking.  I‘m joined by Pam Olson, a Florida delegate and a pastor, home schools four children.  You are the chair of the Social Conservative Coalition.  And I don‘t want to put words in your mouth, but my guess is that the constitutional amendments on abortion and banning gay marriage are the most important or two of the most important issues to you.

PASTOR PAM OLSON, FLORIDA DELEGATE:  Oh, absolutely.  The sanctity of marriage is very important, and so is protecting the unborn.

REID:  OK, so you have somebody who is the primary speaker tonight who vigorously disagrees with you on both of those issues, and he‘s the person who‘s going to be talking to you tonight.  How do you feel about that?

OLSON:  Well, we can disagree.  I think Arnold will probably give a great speech.  We need him as the governor of California.  He‘s a good Republican.  I totally disagree with him on social issues, therefore I wish we had somebody maybe who agreed with me speaking tonight.  But he‘ll do a great job.  And you know, that‘s the thing.  We want speakers that will speak on the conservative issues, but President Bush is the best speaker on that.

REID:  You say he‘s a good Republican, though, but sometimes, don‘t you define good Republicans by how they stand on those issues, like issues like abortion and gay marriage?  There are a lot of Democrats who are much closer to you on those issues than Arnold Schwarzenegger, but you seem to be giving him some slack because he is a Republican.

OLSON:  Oh, I‘m giving him some slack because we need California!

REID:  So you are a pragmatic ideologue on these issues.

OLSON:  No, I am a social conservative totally.  If Arnold and I talked, I‘d say, Why are you pro-choice?  And I would do my best to talk him into understanding that the sanctity of life is very important.

REID:  OK.  There you have it, Chris.  But certainly, there‘s some vigorous disagreement, but people are willing to give Arnold his due and let him speak—Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Well, the Moral Majority is getting very Machiavellian, I guess.  Anyway, thank you, Chip Reid.

We‘re joined right now by Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi.  There does seem to be an interesting sort of combination going on here between very popular sort of culture figures, like Giuliani and Schwarzenegger tonight, who are all pro-choice, pro-gay rights, and then there‘s your party platform.

SEN. TRENT LOTT ®, MISSISSIPPI:  Well, look, these are stars.  They have earned their reputation in their own right, as mayor of this great city and as governor of California.  And so I think it‘s appropriate that they be here.

MATTHEWS:  Can you imagine being Trent Lott, governor—or mayor of New York City?


LOTT:  Well, it would be a challenge, to say the least.  But it‘s a live, fun place.  And I thought Mayor Giuliani did a great job last night.  That speech would sell not just in New York City but all over America.  And you know, there is something more important than just individual issues, Chris.  It‘s the bigger issue of strong leadership and character.  Are you willing to take a stand and lead?


LOTT:  And I think that‘s what people see in our president, and I think that‘s what they saw and they still see in Rudy Giuliani.  We‘re seeing that with Schwarzenegger out there in California.  That‘s a tough state to govern, but he‘s really doing a good job, I think.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think the issue of terrorism and the threat of terrorism and this war we‘re in has become the unifying steel of the Republican Party?

LOTT:  I think perhaps it has, you know.  And it unified the country after 9/11.  And when you talk about it, regardless of your philosophical background or region or anything else, you know we were struck, you know we got a challenge, and we are together on that.  I think that does tend to put some of the social issues, which, you know, obviously, I don‘t agree with, you know, Rudy Giuliani on all of them, on every issue, sort of puts them on the back burner as we come together to fight this very real threat that America faces.

MATTHEWS:  Do you remember 12 years ago in Houston, when Pat Buchanan accused the Republican Party—or the Democratic Party, I should say, of cross-dressing, of putting on a masquerade, of looking moderate when they‘re really leftish.  Do you think your own party could be accused of that because you‘re putting on a moderate image here in New York with Schwarzenegger against tonight, at the same time, you‘re writing a platform which is pretty conservative.

LOTT:  Well, I can tell you for sure, Chris, having worked in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, we do have some moderates.  They‘re an important part of our process.  Our president is going to speak Thursday night.  He is the guy that this is all about, and he is a conservative.  The platform is conservative.

But you know, I think if we, you know, try to slice this thing too thin, you can‘t win elections.  We want to win elections so that we can get the job done.  You know, I learned in the Senate that if you try to get 100 percent of everything, you get nothing.  And you‘ve got to try to do what this country needs, whether it‘s, you know, energy, education, terrorism.  You‘ve got to find those bigger issues that you‘re prepared to really stand and fight for.

MATTHEWS:  When you think about the Republican Party, which you‘ve been so active in all these years, and the South, where you come from, you represent, do you think the party could ever nominate—you know, we say the Democrats need a Southerner to win the presidency.  It‘s certainly been the case—Carter or LBJ or Clinton.  Do you think the Republicans could elect and nominate someone from the North, like a Giuliani?

LOTT:  I think we could.  You‘d probably need a Southerner on the ticket.  It would depend on how you ran the campaign.  Let me tell you, though, Chris.  Rudy Giuliani was in Pascagoula Mississippi, last year, campaigning for our new Republican governor.  The crowd was double what they expected.  People came out to see somebody they knew, they had seen on TV, and that was a leader when the chips were really down.

Look, he‘s a celebrity across this country, and if he handles himself right—he‘d have to deal with some of these issues in a thoughtful way, and I‘d want to talk to him about it.  But yes, I think you can be president if you‘re from New York, if you‘re from Nebraska, or even if you‘re from Mississippi.  And that‘s the day we‘re striving for, Chris, where your region is not the most important thing, who you are is what matters.

MATTHEWS:  So the name Giuliani isn‘t one of those Yankee names?

LOTT:  Well, we‘ve got some names that end in I in Mississippi.

MATTHEWS:  Do you really?

LOTT:  Yes, sure.

MATTHEWS:  Really diverse now.

LOTT:  One of my good buddies in Biloxi, Mississippi...

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s talk about politics because I know, besides being a great representative of your people down there in Mississippi and a party leader, you love the game.  This political convention leads us right into Labor Day, leads us right into a very short two-month shoot for the presidency.  Give me a contour of it.  Give me a look at how it‘s going to be, the debates and everything else.

LOTT:  Well, you can always have some unexpected event, you know, terrorism in some way, some international event that could affect it or a performance on a debate could make a difference.  But I think you‘re going to see President Bush is going to pull ahead some after this convention.  I think it‘ll stay close right on through September.  But in the end, the people are going to take one last look at the president, one last look at Kerry, and I think that you‘re going to be surprised.  This is not going to be close.

MATTHEWS:  Senator, we got to go right now to the floor right now.  Hold on, Senator Trent Lott.  We‘re going right now to the floor.  Looks like the roll call is heading towards a climactic finish for the president in Pennsylvania.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... George W. Bush, Oregon respectfully passes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Oregon, 31 votes, pass.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Pennsylvania, 75 votes.

RENEE AMOORE, PENNSYLVANIA DELEGATE:  Mr. Secretary, greetings from the great commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Pennsylvania has a proud tradition of leading America.  The Declaration of Independence was born in Pennsylvania.  Our nation‘s homeland security is led by Pennsylvania‘s own Tom Ridge.


On November 2, Pennsylvania again will lead and win for George W.  Bush.  Now, I‘ve heard Pennsylvania called a swing state and I‘ve heard Pennsylvania called a red state and a blue state, but America, Pennsylvania is a George W. Bush state!  The Pennsylvania delegation is honored to cast its 75 votes for President George W. Bush!


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Pennsylvania, with 75 votes, puts us over the top for George W. Bush.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Four more years!  Four more years!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Four more years!  Four more years!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Four more years!  Four more years!

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back.  I was watching Senator Lott watching Pennsylvania.  If you will allow me a historical reference, can George Bush, the commander-in-chief, do what Robert E. Lee couldn‘t do, carry Pennsylvania?

LOTT:  I think he will.  Certainly, that‘s going to be one of the states that are going to be very important—Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida.  But as I was saying as we went to the break, I think that beginning in October, you‘re going to see the president beginning to pull away, and this is not going to be a 50-50 election.  I think President Bush is going to win it comfortably.

MATTHEWS:  Well, that would be—that would be consistent with history, that we don‘t have close reelections.  I know.  I mean, it‘s an average of 14 points in these reelection campaigns.  Why do you think it took so long for him to break, or will happen, I should put it positively?

LOTT:  Well, look, it‘s been a difficult period to go through.  The war on terrorism is not easy.  The situation in Iraq has not been perfect.  There‘s no use trying to paper over that.  The economic recovery, while all the indicators are positive, it‘s not as strong as we‘d like for it to be.  That has been slow in coming along.

But I think that—and also, President Bush did take quite a pounding from these so-called 527 independent expenditures...


LOTT:  ... and some of them had an effect.  I think that was part of it.  But the American people—I still have a lot of faith in them.  I think that they‘ve looked the thing over.  They kind of keep their powder dry, but in the end, they‘re not going to change horses in the middle of the stream, as we‘d say in our state, Chris, not during a difficult time.

MATTHEWS:  Are you sure that this war in Iraq is in America‘s interest?

LOTT:  I am.  I voted that way.  I think that...

MATTHEWS:  Are you still sure it was the right move?

LOTT:  I do.  I do think it was the right move.  We didn‘t expect it to go just the way it has, obviously.  In the end, the Iraqi people are going to have to take advantage of the opportunity we‘ve given them.  But I believe they will work through it.  They will have a government...


LOTT:  ... not necessarily like we would design it.


LOTT:  And you know, in two years, three years, we‘ll look back and say, See, it did make a difference, not only in Iraq but in the region.

MATTHEWS:  What could happen to you that would prove to you you were wrong?

LOTT:  Well, if the Iraqi people really don‘t want freedom and democracy and they continue to kill themselves and kill their own people and kill other people that are there, and their government becomes some sort of a Shi‘ite extremist or whatever, that would be a big disappointment.  But I really think that it‘s going to work out, Chris.  But you know, I‘m an incurable optimist.

MATTHEWS:  Who do you think‘s got the best bet to succeed George Bush, Giuliani, McCain or Frist?

LOTT:  Well, I think that it‘s going to be probably some governors in there, Mitt Romney, maybe, or Owens (ph).  But I think Giuliani is in a real good position right now.

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s an endorsement.  Thank you very much, Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi, a big friend of this show.

As we got to break, you‘re going to see that the police are here in Herald Square.  There‘s protests, as you can hear, going on all around us here at 34th and Broadway.  The police are here, as I said, and they‘re pushing the protesters back.  And so far, it‘s been a peaceful rally, which I‘m happy to say.

Coming up, we‘re going to go back down to the convention floor.  Plus, we‘ll check in with our panel once again here at Herald Square, where the action is, as you can see.

You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Republican national convention on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Republican National Convention on MSNBC.


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

We‘re back with our panel.  Let‘s go through it, Sheri Annis, Howard Fineman, who is looking cheerful, and David Gregory and Governor Christie Todd Whitman—Todd Whitman.

Let me ask you, Governor, about this thing tonight.  It is the big moment.  I guess there hasn‘t been a case of where a first lady has been given this really prominent role of selling her husband as a warrior. 

WHITMAN:  She‘s selling her husband as the man she knows, and she is selling all that he has done and all that he believes in. 

She‘s a very articulate woman, and I think what we‘re going to see tonight is someone who deeply cares, who is passionate.  Agree or disagree, they‘re not troubled by that.  And that‘s—we were talking last night about actually bringing the convention here to this nice relaxing atmosphere of New York City.


WHITMAN:  That‘s about this president is the president.  He feels he‘s the president for all the people.  He‘s not afraid to go anywhere.  And Laura Bush will stand right by him and she will say—she saw him in his darkest moments in the most—the most devastating time of his presidency.

And having seen him in the Cabinet meeting right afterwards, believe me, this man was very shaken, as we all were.  And that‘s what she‘s going to reflect as well.  That‘s who he is.


GREGORY:  You know, Chris, I think there‘s two—there‘s two other important points, too, which is I think that she‘s going to be addressing not only the man she saw in the darkest moment.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

GREGORY:  She has got a lot of credibility.  She can talk about his strength and being able to take a measure of her husband during that period.

But she‘s also speaking to security moms out there, you know, the new buzz word, the new group this year.  The White House believes that, after 9/11, there were suburban women, moderates, who gravitated toward this president after his response to 9/11 and then maybe fell away from him after Iraq.  Well, she is trying to send a message that he‘s got an exit strategy, he‘s got a plan to wind this down in a way that‘s peaceful and have some real positive change.

And White House advisers believe that she can deliver that message and that people want to hear it, that she can address some of that anxiety, particularly among women. 

ANNIS:  And one of the reasons, as you said before, is that she has nothing to prove here.  She has a lot of credibility with the American people because they do not have a quid pro quo-type relationship.  She is there for him no matter what.  She sees him on a day-to-day basis.  She‘s not trying to get anything out of it herself. 

MATTHEWS:  But, Howard, you send a woman that you love out into the front.  You say, Laura, I got a job for you.  Go out and defend me on stem cell, my weakest, most difficult argument with the suburbs.  You take the brunt. 

FINEMAN:  It‘s because she has the ability to speak across the spectrum, across the country, because she‘s accepted as a genuinely gracious person.

But she also has the virtue of—we were talking about evangelical voters before, Pentecostals, Christians.  She reads that way.  She comes across that way.  She comes across as a traditional, thoughtful, educated, but traditional wife, traditional wife.  Even while she‘s carrying out an untraditional role here, socially, she comes across as traditional as they come.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

FINEMAN:  Who believes in the strength of her husband, who believes in the sanctity of the family, who believes in traditional values.  So she‘s able to be stylistically traditional, while carrying out an unusual, even unprecedented role here tonight. 

ANNIS:  In fact, she‘s saddling the old and the new position of the first lady, in my view.  The old traditional first lady is just there to support her husband and that‘s it and do anything she can. 

The new first lady has her own views, speaks her mind.  People weren‘t ready for Judy Dean.


MATTHEWS:  ... among my colleagues, everybody‘s Pollyanna and I‘m Machiavellian.

So let me put to you what I think is the theory. 


MATTHEWS:  David, think the worst of Karl Rove for a couple of minutes.  Think darkly.  You, too, Howard.  Could it that be the sub rosa plan here is, if we put our woman out there...

FINEMAN:  I know where you‘re going.

MATTHEWS:  ... they‘re going to have to put their woman out there.

FINEMAN:  I know where you‘re going.


MATTHEWS:  And if we can get Teresa in this crosshairs, the country ain‘t going to like what they see, David.


GREGORY:  Look, I think that‘s right. 

I think that Karl Rove and others very much want to see that contrast.  Likability is a big factor.  We think about it when we think about who we‘re going to choose for president.  And first lady matters, too.  The role of first lady has changed.  Their personalities have changed in office.  Their role in the White House has changed. 

Hillary Rodham Clinton had a lot to do with that.  Teresa Heinz Kerry is certainly no shrinking violet.  And neither is Laura Bush. 

MATTHEWS:  Did you say that Teresa Heinz Kerry is no shrinking violet? 


MATTHEWS:  As Tom said a minute ago, journalists don‘t offer opinions. 

That‘s not even an opinion.  That‘s just a fact. 


MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, Governor, who would win in a Laura-vs.-Teresa national debate with 100 million people watching?  Who would win electorally? 

WHITMAN:  First of all, we‘re never going to have that because they‘re not the ones running for office. 

MATTHEWS:  Who would most like to have it?   

WHITMAN:  Who would most like to have it?   


ANNIS:  The journalists would love Teresa Heinz Kerry. 

WHITMAN:  The journalists would love Teresa Heinz Kerry. 


ANNIS:  And Americans would love Laura Bush. 

FINEMAN:  I‘m telling you...

MATTHEWS:  Would Karl Rove like it?

FINEMAN:  Karl Rove would love to have it happen.  You‘re exactly right.


MATTHEWS:  ... finish.  Go ahead. 

OK.  Some excitement.

Let‘s go right now to Campbell Brown, who is on the convention floor. 


I‘m here with Renee Amoore, the chairperson of the Pennsylvania delegation who had the honor of putting the president over the top. 

Explain to people what happened here just a few moments ago and what it felt like for you to say those words. 

RENEE AMOORE, PENNSYLVANIA DELEGATE:  It was absolutely awesome, incredible.  Just to say that we were putting President George W. Bush over the top makes a difference and lets people know that Pennsylvania is ready to do that and we‘re going to win and we‘re come in big for him. 

BROWN:  I know you‘re a third-generation Republican.  Speaking tonight, Arnold Schwarzenegger.  The theme here this evening is one of compassion.  He‘s pro-choice, gay rights.  Do you agree with his position on those issues and do you appreciate the fact that he‘s taking such a prominent role at the convention? 

AMOORE:  I appreciate it immensely.  I think he‘s an excellent role model for people.  I think people will now see that the Republican Party can be all one big tent and we can agree to disagree, but come out and have the same outcome.

So it‘s important for those things to be said and to happen, so people do know that we are inclusive.  And you‘re absolutely right.  I am third-generation. 

BROWN:  But your platform isn‘t inclusive.  The platform is actually pretty clear about gay marriage and the views and doesn‘t seem to leave a lot of room for people who differ. 

AMOORE:  Well, I think what happens is that we agree to disagree, but that doesn‘t mean that you can‘t be a part of our party.  And things take time for people to go through that process.  And that‘s what we‘re doing, so that‘s why it shows tonight how we are being inclusive by letting Arnold, the governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, get up and speak and let people know about his views, because we do have people in the party who feel just like him. 

BROWN:  Pennsylvania is obviously one of the states that people are paying most attention to.  What is the most important issue for you, for the people you believe in your state?  Is it national security?  Is it the economy?  Or is it social values? 

AMOORE:  Well, it‘s really all three that you just said and basically in that order.  And we‘re getting the message out about all those issues, so that people in our state understand where the president stands. 

So we‘re doing a lot of community outreach door to door and letting people know what we‘re about and what they can expect from George Bush.  And we‘ll prove that the rest of the week. 

BROWN:  Renee Amoore, thank you for speaking with us with the Pennsylvania delegation, who put the president over the top tonight—


MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much, Campbell Brown, down on the floor. 

We‘re awaiting the big speeches tonight, of course.  And I can‘t wait for Arnold Schwarzenegger.  I‘m a big fan of his whole story.  And we‘re going to hear that incredible story of his coming to America and making it.  With everything he‘s tried to do, this guy has succeeded, including being governor of California.

And, of course, first lady Laura Bush, who is one of the most popular people in the country.

When we come back, the chairman of the California Bush-Cheney reelection campaign, who really does believe that Arnold can help win California for the Republican ticket.

We‘re at Herald Square, where all the action is. 


MATTHEWS:  And we‘ll be right back. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s very live coverage of the Republican National Convention on MSNBC. 


JOHN CHANCELLOR, NBC REPORTER:  Here we go, down the middle aisle.

ANNOUNCER:  The anti-media sentiment of the ‘64 convention reached a boiling point when NBC News reporter John Chancellor was escorted off the convention floor.

CHANCELLOR:  I‘ve been promised bail, ladies and gentlemen, by my office.  The press should be allowed and the radio and television should be allowed to do their work at the convention on television.

This is John Chancellor somewhere in custody.

ANNOUNCER:  Chancellor was released several minutes later.  And with the tenacity of a legend, he quickly turned the tables and interviewed the man who ordered him into custody.

CHANCELLOR:  This is John Chancellor back on the convention floor.



MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to New York‘s Herald Square.  I‘m also getting the accent.  Philly turns New York.  I‘m almost there.  Anyway, it‘s great to be here. 

Gerry Parsky, while we‘re doing our live coverage, you‘ve seen all the excitement around here.  We‘re right near the convention hall.  And we just heard from everybody. 

Let me talk to you about New York, because tonight, tonight, here in New York, at Madison Square Garden on the main stage, Arnold Schwarzenegger, your guy. 


MATTHEWS:  Is going to be the showstopper. 

PARSKY:  Absolutely. 

MATTHEWS:  Because he‘s going to tell his personal story, right? 

PARSKY:  That‘s part of what I hope he tells, because he represents both the American dream and the California dream.  So I hope he tells his story.  And I also hope he talks a little bit about how he got to be governor of California. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, you helped him.  You‘re the head of the delegation here in California.  You‘re a big supporter of the president as well. 

Could Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s popularity in California, the way he‘s come across, with all the budget fights, can he help your party win the electoral votes in California for Bush and Cheney? 

PARSKY:  Absolutely.  I know you and a couple of your colleagues think that it‘s not possible.

MATTHEWS:  No, I just look at history. 


PARSKY:  Well, Ronald Reagan got elected. 

MATTHEWS:  Tell me how.

PARSKY:  George Bush‘s father got elected.

MATTHEWS:  How does he transfer his popularity? 

PARSKY:  Well, the No. 1 issue in California is economic policy.  And this governor got elected primarily because the voters of California rejected the approach taken by Governor Gray Davis, raising taxes, not controlling spending, discouraging business. 

If you want the same policies on the national level, John Kerry is your man.  He‘ll increase taxes.  He won‘t control spending.  So the parallel between those two is dramatic.  Arnold Schwarzenegger is succeeding the same way that Governor Bush is, keeping your taxes down, looking to encourage business. 

MATTHEWS:  If it were only that simple, Gerry. 

PARSKY:  Come on, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you the question.  Can a pro-life candidate on the issue of abortion rights, whether they be running for president, senator, or governor, be elected in California? 

PARSKY:  Well, Ronald Reagan was elected in California. 

MATTHEWS:  In the year 2004. 

PARSKY:  Two thousand four, if—yes, sure, a pro-life person can be elected. 

But the most important thing, however, is if you accept the fact that you may disagree on certain issues, and you say I would rather have someone elected who we agree with 80 or 90 percent of the time, yes, you can.


PARSKY:  So you have to be tolerant of the fact that there may be some disagreements.  This president has represented that he‘s tolerate. 

MATTHEWS:  He gets to pick Supreme Court justices who may not believe as a lot of the pro-choice people in California believe. 

PARSKY:  This president has made it very clear that what he wants on the bench are judges that are not going to legislate from the bench, that are going to interpret the law.  And the national law—we know what the national law says.  So it‘s quite clear here.  The president has very strong conservative principles. 

And California, most people think it‘s a liberal state.  But if you ask people in California, 37 percent, 38 percent would say, we are conservative.  Much less would say we‘re liberal, but all people would say, we are tolerate of the fact that there are different points of view.  If someone seeking elective office is willing to be tolerate, he will be elected. 

And this governor has made a sea change in California.  The best thing for us in California with the Bush-Cheney campaign is the success of Arnold Schwarzenegger.  That‘s the best thing that can happen. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, isn‘t it ironic that the man who took a lot of heat during his campaign for governor on accusations, old accusations of harassment, not fair or not, but old accusations, and who used the phrase girly man recently, used it on me, by the way—is he past that phrase, by the way?  Are people leaving him alone, the gay groups, etcetera? 

PARSKY:  Well, I think that when the president came out the last time, our governor, who doesn‘t take himself too seriously—and I don‘t think people should take themselves that seriously—he said that he was going to organize Austrians for Bush and girly men for Bush. 


MATTHEWS:  Girly man is now in our vernacular and we can use it?

PARSKY:  In the Schwarzenegger vernacular.

MATTHEWS:  How about yours?

PARSKY:  Well, I‘ll leave Schwarzenegger to speak for himself. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re a girly man to say that.


MATTHEWS:  Anyway, thank you, Gerry Parsky. 

PARSKY:  Thank you very much.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s check in with NBC‘s Chip Reid, who is on the floor with actor—the Republican Baldwin, Stephen Baldwin—Chip. 


I‘m told in Boston people couldn‘t walk three steps without tripping over a celebrity.  It‘s not that way here.  But we have found one, one of the Baldwin brothers.  This is Stephen Baldwin.  Now, I‘m not sure he‘s a Republican or a Bush supporter yet.

But what brings you here? 

STEPHEN BALDWIN, ACTOR:  I‘m here having some fun, checking out the convention and kind of doing my own little thing here. 

I‘m here supporting the man and the candidate that I believe has the most faith.  And I‘m a born-again Christian, and I just think it‘s kind of weird in the last 20 years that we‘ve seen this systematic removal of God from almost everything that is government and education and society and this and that.  And I just think it‘s kind of weird.  And I‘m here just to let people know that I‘m going to be voting for the guy that I believe has the most faith. 

Now, did somebody come to mind?  Don‘t say his name.  That‘s the guy I‘m voting for, because I really think it‘s important at this point in time in our history that the president of the United States be a guy who is truly being led by God.  That‘s just my opinion, and I‘m just here to support that idea. 

REID:  Some of your brothers, Alec in particular, are very much on the other end of the political spectrum.  Alec even suggested at one time he might move to Paris if George Bush were reelected.  Any tension in the family? 

BALDWIN:  I didn‘t know that he had specified Paris.


BALDWIN:  But, no, no tension in the family. 

You know, we‘re smart enough and we love each other enough to never let any political reasons stand in between our love and our friendship.  But, again, I‘m not here with any political agenda.  I‘m here for faith-based reasons.  I think it‘s important that, based on the experience that I‘m having in my faith, that I share it with as many people as I can the importance of trying to get this country back toward God. 

That‘s what I would like to see. 

REID:  Is this a recent development in your life? 

BALDWIN:  Yes.  I became a born-again Christian three years ago.  And

·         but it‘s not some freaky-deaky Jesus freak kind of thing.

I was really doing very well in my life.  And just there were certain things about my life I couldn‘t change on my own.  And when I tapped into God and tapped into the Bible, I was able to make those changes and it‘s been an awesome experience.  And I just want to share it with people. 

REID:  OK.  Thank you very much, Stephen Baldwin.  Appreciate it greatly.  Enjoy the convention.

Chris, back to you. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much, Chip Reid on the convention floor.

And also Stephen Baldwin, as I said, the Republican Baldwin because Alec and the other guy, Billy, are definitely Democrats.  We‘re here at Herald Square.  And the helicopters overhead.  There‘s going to be a little bit of noise.

But I‘m joined right now by a man who knows this kind of situation rather well, former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik.

Who do you make of the scene around us here in New York?  The cops are

·         police are doing their job. 

BERNARD KERIK, FORMER NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER:  I told you, Chris, a couple of weeks ago that one thing you would attract here in Herald Square are the demonstrators.  And I‘ve proved to be right. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the president of the United States. 

What‘s your role in the Bush campaign for reelection? 

KERIK:  I think most importantly is to get the message across to the American people what the president has done since September 11, how it‘s benefited the country, and what we need in the future to really secure the nation. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me ask you about this question of New York.

Is New York still the icon, the image of what the Republicans are running against, saying, we‘re going to protect the country from another 9/11?  Is that the main fight here? 

KERIK:  I think that‘s a part of it, a substantial piece of it. 

You know, you have to look at the threat that‘s out there.  There is an imminent threat against this country, like there was on September 10.  But if I went to somebody on the 10th of September of ‘01 and said there was this threat, nobody would have paid attention.  Today, we have to pay attention.  This president understands that threat. 

He understands what has to be done going forward, and he‘s going to take care of business. 

MATTHEWS:  This Sunday, I was out walking among the demonstrators.  They‘re very calm people, Mr. Commissioner.  I mean, they were like me back in the ‘60s.  They were very calm.  They‘re, most of them, academic-looking people. 

KERIK:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  That was a pretty well handled demonstration, wasn‘t it?  Almost a half million people out here in the streets and no trouble, really, not much.

KERIK:  Honestly, Chris, I think for the most part, the demonstrators have been fine.  I think they‘ve been peaceful. 

We see spurts of craziness, as we saw a couple of minutes ago.  But for the most part, I think the demonstrators have been doing their thing and the cops have been doing a phenomenal job.  Ray Kelly has been doing a superb job.  The mayor, Bloomberg, has sent out a pretty distinct message on what to do and what not to do, and so far so good. 

MATTHEWS:  What did you think of the guy with the hood that tried to jump me a few moments ago?  Was he one of your usual suspects?


KERIK:  Yes, they have to be taken care of.  And he might be spending a night in jail. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about being a policeman and going off to—you were in Iraq for all those months, right?  What is your sense of the Iraq situation?  Is it going to get better soon or are we in for a long haul? 

KERIK:  Well, I think it really depends on the commitment of the Iraqis and, as I told you a few weeks ago, I‘m extremely impressed with Allawi, what he‘s been doing, his aggressiveness.

MATTHEWS:  The prime minister. 

KERIK:  And also the intelligence that he‘s been getting to the coalition.  A lot of the things that we‘re now, that intelligence is coming from the Iraqi people.  We never had that before.  So I think, if we continue that momentum, I think we‘re going to do OK. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you make of the strategy of our enemies over there to grab people?  They‘re grabbing the two French journalists, broadcast journalists?  I mean, how can I not feel for those guys when they‘re being held as hostages?

KERIK:  I mean, first of all, you have to feel for them.  You have to, no matter who it is or where they come from.  But we cannot cower to terrorism.

Part of Rudolph Giuliani‘s message was last night, we‘ve been doing this back in the ‘70s.  No more cowering, no more negotiating, no more appeasing.  We have got to fight terror at all costs. 

MATTHEWS:  How many casualties can we take?  We‘re coming up on 1,000 killed.

KERIK:  Honestly, Chris...

MATTHEWS:  Maybe 7,000 seriously wounded now. 

KERIK:  I think, if you go back to the president‘s speech of ‘01, September 20, he said this would come at a cost. 

Look at the cost it cost us on September 11, 3,000 people, hundreds of billions of dollars.  We have to do this at all costs. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, well, thank you very much, Bernard Kerik. 

Are you going to be with the campaign right to the end? 

KERIK:  I am, until the president gets reelected. 

MATTHEWS:  He could be in a couple of months. 

We‘ll be right back. 

KERIK:  Will be in a couple months.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much, Bernard Kerik.

I always take that skeptical look at everybody on this show. 

And I want to thank the panel, Christie Todd Whitman, Howard Fineman, Sheri Annis, and David Gregory.

Coming up in the next hour, Senator Elizabeth Dole will address the convention.  And later tonight, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the girly man himself—he‘ll get me for that—and Laura Bush.

HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Republican Convention continues after this.



RUDOLPH GIULIANI ®, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK:  President Bush will make certain that we are combating terrorism at the source, beyond our shores, so we don‘t have to confront it here in New York City, or in Chicago.  That‘s what it means to play offense with terrorism, and not just defense.



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