updated 9/1/2004 11:13:14 AM ET 2004-09-01T15:13:14

Guests: Patrick Guerriero, Bill Owens, J.C. Watts, Jon Meacham, Charles Matthews

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI ®, FORMER MAYOR, NEW YORK CITY:  ... what it means to play offense with terrorism and not just defense!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR:  That‘s one of the great speeches of our time, Rudy Giuliani‘s last night.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews, and welcome to MSNBC‘s prime-time coverage of the Republican National Convention here in New York City from historic Herald Square at 34th and Broadway.

Tonight, the stars of the Republican Party are out tonight once again.  California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and first lady of the land, Laura Bush, will speak to the party faithful from the convention podium.

We‘re—let‘s go right now to listen to North Carolina‘s senator, Elizabeth Dole.

(ELIZABETH DOLE)

MATTHEWS:  I want to now introduce the panel joining me right now: NBC News Correspondent Andrew Mitchell, former U.S. Congressman from Oklahoma J.C. Watts, “Newsweek”‘s Jon Meacham, and the host of MSNBC‘s “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY” Joe Scarborough.

But, right now, NBC‘s Campbell Brown is on the convention floor with the head of the Log Cabin Republicans.  She joins us now—Campbell.

CAMPBELL BROWN, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  That‘s right, Chris.  I‘m with Patrick Guerriero who is president of the Log Cabin Republicans.

We just heard some very strong words from Elizabeth Dole tonight. 

Tell me what you thought of what she had to say?

PATRICK GUERRIERO, LOG CABIN REPUBLICANS:  Well, on a personal note, I welcomed Elizabeth Dole when I was the mayor of the City of Melrose, Massachusetts, to our high school.

I wish she would really focus on the things that unite the Republican Party and the American family.  I don‘t think we need to amend the Constitution or to use gay and lesbian Americans as wedge issues.

The reality is this party has to decide whether it‘s the party of Schwarzenegger and Giuliani and Pataki and McCain or whether it‘s going to be the party of Jerry Falwell and Pat Buchanan and Rick Santorum.

And I know one million gay and lesbian Americans voted for President Bush in 2000.  They‘re really angry about what was placed in this party‘s platform this week.

BROWN:  But you are not able to challenge the platform, and, in fact, given by Vice President Cheney‘s comments last week that his position was, in fact, different than the platform‘s and President Bush‘s, you‘re now in a situation where the language is even tougher in the platform than was originally planned.  What can you do about that?  Are you going to endorse this president, given what the language says?

GUERRIERO:  We‘re going to make a decision in a few days.  This is more than about this election and one president and one party platform.  This is really about what the Republican Party is going to look like over the next four years.  We launched a TV ad today.  Thousands of people have logged on to logcabin.org to see that television ad.

The president and the party should be on the side of the majority of Americans who support fairness and equality for all Americans and stop letting the radical right hijack our party platform.  It doesn‘t reflect the fair-minded people across America.

BROWN:  Patrick Guerriero.

Let‘s go back to you, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Campbell.

Let‘s go right—

And thank you, Patrick Guerriero.

Let‘s go right now to Chris Jansing.  She‘s on the convention floor with Colorado Governor Bill Owens—Chris.

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Thanks, Chris.

And, as you know, he is co-chairman of the platform committee.

We just heard from the head of the Log Cabin Republicans.  He said this party needs to decide whether it is the party of Schwarzenegger and McCain and Giuliani or Falwell and Santorum.  Which is it?

GOV. BILL OWENS ®, COLORADO:  You know what I think?  I don‘t think it is that choice.  This is a majority party that represents a lot of Republicans, a lot of Americans of all persuasions.  Our platform actually represents what most Americans believe, which is that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

JANSING:  It doesn‘t reflect what most of your prime-time speakers have to say, however.

OWENS:  Well, you know, I‘m not sure where John McCain is on that‘s exact issue.  I don‘t know where Elizabeth Dole is on that issue.  I do know that we‘re proud of the fact that, as the majority party, we do have the governor of California, we do have the former mayor of New York City.  This is a majority party.  We have the White House, most of the Senate, most of the House, most of the governors, and that‘s the way we govern.  We govern with that sort of perspective.

JANSING:  Clearly, this is a party that strategically wants to appeal to those swing voters, the millions of them, who are watching on television.  Laura Bush is one of the people who they will use tonight.  She will talk about her husband.  You know this family well.  You were actually born in Texas.  Is she a sort of secret weapon?  What can she do to add to this very tight campaign?

OWENS:  I think she actually is a secret weapon.  She‘s such a warm and real person.  She actually gives a different sort of perspective to our president.  I know that we‘re all proud of the job she does as first lady, and I think we‘re going to see her a lot.

She‘s a private person, but she cares enough about her husband and about the future of our country.  I think she‘s willing to take more of a step and do even more to make sure we win this election.

JANSING:  Let me also ask you about your friend, George W. Bush.  We are in a statistical dead heat according to the six most recent national polls in this nation.  I‘m not going to ask you about strategy, but let me ask you about George Bush the person.  What does he bring to this intrinsically that you think can help him win in November?

OWENS:  What he brings to it is that he‘s a very tough, determined person.  He doesn‘t look at the polls to decide what his policy should be.  He simply does what he thinks is right, and he also is very determined on behalf of the country to win this election.  So I think we‘re going to see him really focus over these next 60 days, and I think we‘re going to see him win on November 2.

JANSING:  He won your state by 8 percent back in 2000, but now it‘s considered a swing state, a lot of money being pumped in.  I know even in Republican areas, Republicans have been going door to door trying to get out the base.  How tight is it in your state, and how do you win it?

OWENS:  You know, we‘ve always said that nationally it‘s going to be a very close race, and also, in Colorado, we‘ve expected it to be a close race.  I think Coloradans deserve us to treat each of them—go after each of their votes.  That‘s what we‘re doing.  We‘re going to win on November 2, but we‘re not going to take it for granted between now and then.

JANSING:  Governor Bill Owens, thanks very  much.  We appreciate your taking the time.

Chris, back to you.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you.  Thank you very much.

Chris Jansing.

We‘re coming right back with our panel.  We‘ve got a lot to argue about, especially the discrepancy one could argue that does exist between the platform and those people standing on that platform this week at the Republican National Convention.  Let‘s come back.

We‘re going to get the biggest show in town tonight.  I‘ve been reading it.  What a speech Schwarzenegger has for us tonight.  And, of course, First Lady Laura Bush.  That‘s going to be quite a piece of work.  That one, too.

The Republican National Convention.  We‘re following it from Herald Square.  You can see the action all around us right down here.  It gets a little tricky at times, but it is America.  It is democracy.  Come on back to New York after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Republican National Convention.  We‘re at the center of the action, as you can see by these pictures.  This is the world we‘re in right now.  We‘re at 34th Street and Broadway.

Let‘s go to the panel.  We‘ve got NBC Correspondent Andrea Mitchell, former U.S. Congressman from Oklahoma J.C. Watts, “Newsweek”‘s editor Jon Meacham, and the host of MSNBC‘s “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY” appropriately named Joe Scarborough.

Anyway, thanks for joining me.

Let‘s go back.  This is interesting.  And without casting aspersions, there is a problem the Republican Party faces tonight in trying to get this all together tonight.  Last night, they were on strong ground.  They focused on terrorism.  They focused away, let‘s be fair, from Iraq, which is very troubling.

Tonight, they have to focus on the positive social issues, while focusing away from the controversial ones, abortion rights, as always, in a Republican Convention and now the issue of gay marriage.

How well are they going to be able to do this—Andrea.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT:  Well, from the podium, they can do it brilliantly because they control the podium, they control the speeches and the agenda.

So what you‘re going to hear about is what they claim to be progress on No Child Left Behind, education.  They‘re going to talk about health care with Bill Frist.  They‘re going to introduce some rising stars in the Republican Party and talk about the welcoming—the welcome mat of the Republican Party as perceived by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Now you‘re not going to hear about the fact that Schwarzenegger is threatening to veto legislation that would help undocumented workers in California passed by both the State House and Senate, a big confrontation looming there.  So there will be no rough edges on the podium.

And, of course, you‘re going to have the wonderful tableau by the Republican producers of the Bush family portrait, Jenna and Barbara, the twins‘ debut in prime-time.  The president speaking from a battleground state, Pennsylvania, introducing his wife, the most popular person in the Republican Party, Laura Bush.

MATTHEWS:  It‘s interesting, J.C., that they had Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina make the strong case in nice language against abortion rights, against gay marriage.  She was nicely strong, but the message was clear.  And we heard the leader of the Log Cabin Republicans not like it one bit.

J.C. WATTS ®, FORMER CONGRESSMAN, OKLAHOMA:  Well, Chris, Bob Dole said back in 1996, I believe—he said, you know, I stayed up all night one night trying to figure out who I didn‘t want to vote for, and he said I couldn‘t figure out anybody.

I think our party—you know, I never made a living, you know, beating up on anybody in the gay community, and I think this party needs to continue to have that debate and not be afraid of that debate.  That is an issue that this country is facing today, how we will define marriage, one man, one woman or something other than that.

But I think George Bush‘s position is this—we‘ve never seen George Bush be mean or ugly about that.  I think his position is to inform and persuade, not to screen, and I think—for the last three-and-a-half years, I think George Bush has been very open.

But when you say how do we define marriage, he has been very firm to say we should do it as one man and one woman.  And I do believe that good, bad or indifferent as—regardless of what someone might think in the Log Cabin Republicans, Chris, that really is how most Americans feel.

MATTHEWS:  What are Log Cabin guys and women—what are they supposed to do?  I mean, this is the tough politics of joining a political party.  You‘ve got to take sometimes the blue-plate special.  You‘ve got to take everything with no exceptions.

WATTS:  Not everything that we do in the Republican Party do I appreciate.  I‘ve been adamant about saying that I think we need to do more to track those nontraditional constituencies to the Republican Party.

I think there‘s some opportunity there.  There‘s going to be some people in the party that disagree with me on that, but I think I have to continue to stay and fight and make that argument.  In the end, I believe I‘ll win.

MATTHEWS:  But what about something, Jon—I don‘t know why I‘m sticking this to you, but what about somebody who‘s so—if you‘re gay and you want to get married to somebody else and this is a big part of your life—I mean, it‘s—imagine just extrapolating if you‘re straight, and you say, well, imagine if those other people had the same emotional connection as you do with your spouse, and they want to be together legally and officially, but their party won‘t support that.  What do they do?

JON MEACHAM, “NEWSWEEK”:  Well, there‘s a very conservative case for gay marriage.  If you want to encourage family values and stability and a unit, then that‘s what you should do.

MATTHEWS:  There‘s the first lady, by the way, arriving at Madison Square Garden.  The first member of the first family.  At least the first member of the father-and-mother team.  We‘re talking so much about things that happen at home here, it‘s not even politics.

Go ahead.  Your thought.

MEACHAM:  But, you know, you do see this as sort of like Operation Fortitude.  Remember the great allied mission in 1944 to convince the Germans that we were going to go across Calais, and so they built these fake camps up there, while we were going to go at Normandy.  There‘s a moderate Operation Fortitude going on here at this time.

MATTHEWS:  So you believe that—as Pat Buchanan would say, this is a cross-dressing operation here.

MEACHAM:  It‘s an unfortunate metaphor, given that we were just talking about, but yes.

MATTHEWS:  I like the Operation Fortitude better.  So let‘s go with that.

MEACHAM:  Stick with Operation Fortitude.

MATTHEWS:  That was the one where George Patton was given a phony army.

MEACHAM:  Right.  because the Germans couldn‘t believe they wouldn‘t let Patton do it.  But what you have here—at 8:00, not at 10:00, but at 8:00 is Elizabeth Dole delivering a Jonathan Edwards sermon in a yellow suit.  That was an incredibly red meat speech.  It was a sermon.

MATTHEWS:  Who‘s Jonathan Edwards?

MEACHAM:  The great—the great American minister.  You know, the—sinners in the hand of an angry God.  I mean, it was the important puritan message that we—that America was both special and that there was one moral code, and that was clearly what Senator Dole was doing.  She was talking about...

MITCHELL:  That was for the...

WATTS:  But...

MITCHELL:  That was for the Christian conservative base.\

MATTHEWS:  Well, we‘ll be talking all night tonight about how tonight

·         in a sort of a political sense, rather than a religious or cultural sense, that the party‘s goal tonight, the Republican Party—and it‘s so important to watch this.

They say they can‘t move the undecideds because the undecided are so angry at politicians, they‘re not even going to vote in many cases.  But they believe they can expand the number of people who normally are not political who share their cultural values.

MEACHAM:  But there‘s a fascinating number that the Bush people are talking about, that 19 percent of the electorate are believing he evangelicals, charismatics, and only 15 percent of those people voted in 2000.  So what they‘re trying to do is get that 4 percent which could make the difference.

MATTHEWS:  How many votes is that, John?

MEACHAM:  It would be—it would extrapolate out about four million.

MATTHEWS:  Have you seen the statistic, Joe, that 40 percent of the American people believe that our planet, our life, our world, our universe was created very much the way it was said in Genesis, that it was literally seven days of creation, that it wasn‘t this evolutionary track, that it was done literally the way it was written and delivered to the people of the Old Testament?

JOE SCARBOROUGH, “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”:  Well, that wouldn‘t surprise me.  I think sometimes over the—we‘ve talked over the past 30 years, 40 years how the Democratic Party has had a real blind spot when it‘s come to issues of defense.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s the same thing with faith.  They really have had a blind spot.  Republican candidates have gone to town on issues of faith, not by going around quoting Bible scriptures, but not being afraid to talk about God, not being afraid to talk about faith, not going around talking about the top issue being whether a 7-year-old kid can pray in school or not.

So there has been a blind spot.  I think Bill Clinton understood that.  Bill Clinton—one of the most moving speeches, I think, in modern American politics was when Bill Clinton went into the African-American church in Memphis, delivered a sermon of faith, and so the—Bill Clinton understood that.

I‘m always fascinated at why Democratic candidates, whether it‘s dealing with war rooms or whether it‘s dealing with campaigning—don‘t just look and see what Bill Clinton did in 1992.

I do want to say one other thing...

MATTHEWS:  Can I interrupt for a second?  Bill Clinton would walk out of the church with his (UNINTELLIGIBLE), with his bible, with Monica already penciled in for the afternoon.

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘m not—you know what?  I am not sitting here today, Chris, saying that—hold on.  Hold on.  I need to make a point here.

MITCHELL:  Time out.

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘m not saying that he was sincere.  I‘m—that‘s not my job.  I am saying, though, he did at least talk about faith.

One other thing, though, talking about this year, why turnout is so important.  Look what happened today.  George W. Bush went on Rush Limbaugh for one reason and one reason alone.  He wanted to connect to the base.

He understands that in November, the first Tuesday in November, it‘s going to be people like Rush Limbaugh‘s listeners that are going to decide on the right whether they‘re going to go out, vote for this president, whether they‘re going to tell their friends at the water cooler to vote for the president.

Let me tell you something.  His father, George Bush senior, would rather be caught speaking to the Log Cabin Republicans in Key West, Florida, than being caught on Rush Limbaugh.  Things have changed a lot, and that‘s all the evidence you need that this election is going to be decided, Karl Rove‘s decided, by turnout.  That‘s why he talked to Rush.

MATTHEWS:  That‘s A1.  And there was a word...

MITCHELL:  And they...

MATTHEWS:  ... that their—one of the reasons the president did not win a convincing victory last time, that it wasn‘t a clear result, is because in the closing days of the election—check me on this—the president got caught up in that old thing, 29-year-old thing, about a DUI, and what I‘m told by the experts is that even that one little faux pas, you could call it, of getting in trouble years and years before turned off the evangelical community enough for them to stay home.

MITCHELL:  In fact, I would...

WATTS:  He...

MATTHEWS:  Is that true?

WATTS:  It turned off many of them.  And, Chris, talking about this religious thing, you know, John Kerry has hired someone in his campaign to reach out to the faith community.  Now I think they‘re still getting it wrong in the way they‘re doing it.  But, nevertheless, he‘s given some thought to this vote.

And one other thing I want to add.  At least at the Republican Convention, you‘ve got a Schwarzenegger and a Giuliani that‘s for homosexual rights.  They‘re pro-choice.  But at least they‘re getting a chance to be heard.  They‘re speaking, regardless of what they‘re saying.  They‘re on the platform.  They‘re there.

MATTHEWS:  But not on those issues.

WATTS:  At the—well—but they‘re there.  At the Democratic Convention, pro-lifers never would have gotten an opportunity to speak.

MATTHEWS:  But just to distinguish, they wouldn‘t allow Bob Casey...

WATTS:  Exactly.

MATTHEWS:  A man I really respected was not allowed to talk about the rights of the unborn.  But, in this convention, you‘ll notice that the people who are speaking on the platform are not speaking the platform.

WATTS:  But the—but what‘s...

MATTHEWS:  No, this is a key decision.

WATTS:  ... the conversation?  The conversation that we‘re talking about here is the fact that Rudy Giuliani and Arnold Schwarzenegger—they‘re speaking, and they‘re...

SCARBOROUGH:  But that‘s...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Hey, J.C., do you expect Arnold Schwarzenegger to talk about gay rights tonight?

WATTS:  No.  I think what Arnold Schwarzenegger—like you said—I agree with you.  I think he‘s got a great speech, and I do think that‘s more important.  I don‘t think that every time Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks that he has to be talking about the pro-choicers.

SCARBOROUGH:  But talk about cross-dressing, though.  Talk about what happened, and this happens at all conventions now.  Talk about what happened in Boston where it looked like a military parade.

You‘ve got 90 percent of the delegates against the war in Iraq.  You certainly never heard that from the stage.  It‘s remarkable how everybody races to the middle.  Just like Nixon always said, go to the right in the primary.  Go to the middle in...

(CROSSTALK)

MEACHAM:  But conventions are not episodes of “Firing Line”.  They‘re not presidential debates.  These are largely—this is their moment to talk, and I think to go to Joe‘s point, the Democrats have weirdly ceded the religious ground.  When you think about the last 50 years of political history, the urtext in modern liberalism, JFK‘s first inaugural—he says on earth, God‘s work must truly be our own.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  There‘s a 40...

MEACHAM:  That‘s the key of the Democratic Party.

MATTHEWS:  There‘s a 40 percent discrepancy among those people who go to church in favor of the Republicans.  Forty percent lead among church and synagogue and mosquegoers, and it‘s killing the Democrats‘ chances when they lose on that tremendous front.

MITCHELL:  And Jon is right.  They have not figured out how to reach those people, even though Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, no matter what you might say about his personal morality, was raised...

MATTHEWS:  Public morality.

MITCHELL:  ... was raised in a faith-based family.  He knows his Bible, in fact was preaching at Riverside Church this Sunday without any text, was preaching off the top of his head right from the scripture.

MEACHAM:  Well, he‘s Elmer Gantry.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Talking about redemption, baby, personal redemption. 

(CROSSTALK)

MEACHAM:  Elmer Gantry.

SCARBOROUGH:  Amazing grace.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  I‘ve been waiting for somebody to say Elmer Gantry for 20 minutes.

Anyway, much more from Herald Square here in New York.  It‘s where the action is.  And we await, of course, the big speeches tonight from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Laura Bush. 

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

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

Chip.

CHIP REID, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Laura Bush, the first lady, is going to be speaking tonight in prime time in the 10:00 Eastern time hour.

And to give us an idea of what she might say is Charles Matthews, who is the Texas railroad commissioner, also a delegate.  And you‘ve also known both Bushes for a good long time. 

With that in mind, give us an idea of what you think she needs to do and what you think she will do tonight. 

CHARLES MATTHEWS, TEXAS RAILROAD COMMISSIONER:  Well, if you know Laura Bush, you know that she‘s just totally dedicated to her husband. 

And I think what you‘ll hear tonight is a speech that‘s very supportive of him.  I‘ve watched her for years.  She‘s always been involved in the discussions.  People that visited, she was always involved in those kinds of meetings.  She is a wonderful, warm person, and I think that will come across tonight.  And I think America will be assured of what kind of man George Bush is when they listen to his wife, who just deliver this speech so very effectively every time I hear her do it. 

REID:  The theme tonight—you can see it on banners all around the places—people of compassion.  There are some moderates swing voters who think the Republican Party sometimes has a little bit of a hard edge to it.  Do you think she can help offset that? 

CHARLES MATTHEWS:  Well, I‘ll tell you, I served with the governor—

I mean Bush whenever he was governor of Texas.  And I saw that compassionate side. 

I saw what he ran on last time and I know what he‘s tried to do.  And when you listen to Laura tonight, there‘s not any question that she‘s a compassionate person.  And I think that‘s a message that America needs to hear.  And I think they‘ll hear it tonight. 

REID:  Do you think that will rub off on her husband or people will associate that with her husband? 

CHARLES MATTHEWS:  I think her husband is like that. 

REID:  You do? 

CHARLES MATTHEWS:  Yes, sir. 

REID:  OK.  And she‘ll try to convince us of that? 

CHARLES MATTHEWS:  Yes, I think that—she won‘t have any trouble, I don‘t think. 

REID:  OK, great.  Charles Matthews, a delegate of Texas, thank you very much—Chris, back to you. 

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much, Chip Reid. 

We‘re back with the panel. 

I want to talk—start off with Andrea Mitchell, a top reporter, who has got something really interesting.

This marriage of not convenience, but political necessity, which includes now the president and Rudy Giuliani, and it‘s probably going to be decisive, because that‘s quite a phalanx.  When you put Rudy together and McCain together and outside supporters like Zell Miller, it begins to looks like the Republicans are moving toward 51 -- 50 percent at least of the country.  And that sense of mobility, of growth in power and even to the point of almost beginning to win the election, tell me about the John McCain role as you watch it today. 

MITCHELL:  Well, the John McCain role is so fascinating, endlessly fascinating. 

He was out campaigning with the president today.  And he was asked yet again about this new swift boat ad.  There is a third ad that was airing in Florida and will go up elsewhere.  It‘s $300,000 they‘re going to be spending, and it is an ad showing John Kerry actually tossing his medals back in 1971.  So it really focuses on the postwar issue. 

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  But they do have an actor with a beard or whatever actually doing the throwing, right? 

MITCHELL:  Right.  But this is their depiction. 

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MITCHELL:  As they say.  And McCain was asked, how do you feel about it?  And sort of jokingly, he said to the press pool traveling on Air Force One, he said, well, I‘m working on him all the time, trying to get the president to really condemn these ads.  He says every chance I get, I‘ve got his arm twisted.  I think it‘s broken. 

So you know there‘s still an edginess there.  McCain really hates this stuff.  He made it very clear in his interview last night after his great prime-time speech. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MITCHELL:  And that‘s what he really wants to do.  They‘ve filed suit.

(CROSSTALK)

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  Just like the Log Cabin guys may hate the party position on gay rights. 

MITCHELL:  But they‘re falling into line.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  But everybody wants to win. 

MITCHELL:  They‘re saluting.

And, by the way, I brought you a souvenir from the floor. 

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  I want to thank you in advance.

MITCHELL:  This is on the seat of every one—every one of these delegates tonight.  The RNC has paid for this book.  It‘s 509 pages.  It is every word ever uttered by George W. Bush since he‘s become president. 

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  Well, maybe the Democrats will raise hell with it. 

(CROSSTALK)

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  Let me thank you very much for that presentation on our own program here. 

J.C., this question of can the new coalition hold?

WATTS:  I think they can. 

Chris, look when George Bush was governor of Texas, had a very good relationship with, you know, the Democratic power brokers to get things done down there.  You know, people think George Bush is this radical, hard-edged guy that‘s mean and doesn‘t like a lot of people.  George Bush is getting along with John McCain, and I believe John McCain when he says, hey, we‘re friends. 

And George Bush and Rudy Giuliani have always gotten along.  That‘s nothing new.  Arnold Schwarzenegger, I think there may be some edge there, but I think that‘s just got kind of getting through the newness of the relationship.  That‘s not fascinating to me. 

And Zell Miller.  Zell Miller‘s been very open about his position on this president and this war.  So that‘s not a new or a weird coalition to me when it comes to George W. Bush.            

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  So if somebody who is a Democrat their whole career and then they switch to Republican, you trust them to stick where they stick, right?  You trust them to stay right there. 

WATTS:  I trust Zell Miller to follow his convictions.  And he‘s been very vocal about where he stands on this war, where he stood on tax issues. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

WATTS:  And I think this is nothing new. 

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  You know, I know you‘re such a good guy and a political guy.  But, you know, the person running the Republican campaign, Matt Dowd, was once a conservative—he was a Republican.  And then in life, he became a Democrat and then he switched back and became a Republican.  And he‘s the guy now designing the flip-flop attacks on John Kerry. 

(LAUGHTER)

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  It‘s a little bit of show business here.  Come on. 

MEACHAM:  It‘s a very big country. 

MITCHELL:  It‘s a big tent. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly. 

MEACHAM:  But the Republican coalition is about 50 years old.  And it was a case of three antis coming together, anti-communist, anti-seculars and anti-tax cutters.  And it‘s been holding on for 50 years.  And it‘s only won when they have had a sunny personality to kind of blind and paper over these difficulties.  That was Reagan‘s genius and Bush‘s genius, too.

(CROSSTALK)

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  Is he sunny enough to paper over the differences?  I think he is.

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  Well, that‘s what Laura Bush is going to try to do tonight.

MEACHAM:  Yes. 

MITCHELL:  Laura Bush is going to make him up close and personal.  This is how he struggled and agonized over the decision for war, but let me show you another side of George W. Bush.  He is thoughtful.  He‘s not stubborn, decisive, but very deep and caring. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, let me tell you, Chris. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You all know this, OK?  It doesn‘t matter what Laura Bush says tonight, what Schwarzenegger says tonight.  There is sunshine all over New York City.  We‘ve got people yelling that are anti-Bush.  These delegates—I walked through the hall again today—they are so confident.

And there‘s nothing like feeling like you‘re on a winning team to paper over any differences.  They‘re on fire.  They really think...

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  When did that start, Joe?  Excuse me. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I think it started a couple of weeks ago.  I think you‘ve got to look at the swift boat ads. 

But I think, also, when the White House really figured we‘ve got him exactly where we want him is when John Kerry took the bait and said, if I had known everything then that I know now, I would have still voted for the war. 

I promise you, when the history—write it down, children, at home.  When the history of this election is written, that will be seen as the defining moment. 

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  Do you agree with that, J.C.?

WATTS:  I do agree with that.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  When he said there‘s really no difference between us on the war, no matter what I knew or didn‘t know, basically, I would have gone with it? 

WATTS:  That‘s right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Trump card.

WATTS:  And he admitted.  He is saying, I would have done the same thing that George Bush did.  So how can you be critical of George Bush if you are saying I would have done the same thing? 

MITCHELL:  I don‘t think you can jump to that conclusion.

(CROSSTALK)

WATTS:  Also, in Florida, Chris—I‘ve been to Florida for political

events about three times in the last six weeks.  Every time—and I was

there last Saturday.  Every time I‘ve gone to Florida, I have felt better

about Florida each time I‘ve gone.  I think there‘s a confidence that‘s

growing down there in Florida.  I think there‘s a confidence that 

(CROSSTALK)

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  Where do you go in Florida?  Which community are you visiting where you see that? 

WATTS:  I was—last weekend, I was in Orlando.  About two weeks prior to that, I was with the president down in Joe‘s old neck of the woods, in Panama City, down in that area. 

MITCHELL:  That‘s a pretty selected area.  I just want to caution here...

WATTS:  No, but that‘s...

MITCHELL:  ... that what we‘re feeling here is—first of all, you‘re surrounded by delegates, who are the true believers.  But, secondly, this is a snapshot at one point in time.  Momentum shifts here, there.  You still have the debates. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It certainly does, though, Andrea. 

MITCHELL:  Other events can happen.  You‘ve got a jobs report coming out on Friday.  Who knows? 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  But it is not about the snapshot here, though.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  No, we certainly don‘t.

But it is just a snapshot.  But it‘s not the delegates.  I‘m not taking my cues from what Republicans are telling me, because I‘ve been to these things.  I‘m listening to the Democrats.  And the Democrats are angry.  They‘re saying Kerry has got to fire his top people.  They‘ve got to clean those people out there.  They‘ve got to get—cleanse the rapid response team.  I‘m telling you, it‘s unanimous.  Democrats are disgusted. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  And it is a snapshot.  A week is a lifetime.

(CROSSTALK)

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  I want Jon to check what Joe said, because he may be right, just to see what your view is.

MEACHAM:  I just think this is...

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  Do you believe that the decision by John Kerry that he may have made in a couple of minutes, for all we know, to put out a statement—in his own words, he said, even if I had known there was no weapons of mass destruction, which was the purported front reason why we fought this war with Iraq, with all the casualties since, when he said, even if we hadn‘t gotten that evidence, even if it wasn‘t there and I knew it wasn‘t there, I still would have voted for the resolution. 

Do you share Joe‘s assessment that in the history—when the history of this campaign is written, that will be the death knell? 

MEACHAM:  Yes, it was intellectually honest and politically suicidal, potentially. 

(LAUGHING)

MEACHAM:  It really was. 

I think it was a senator‘s reaction.  And that‘s why senators don‘t get elected president, by and large, because they have all these votes and they think these things true.  I think he believed that.  And I don‘t think we‘d be in terrible hands if John Kerry becomes president. 

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  Because he goes back to his, again, senatorial notion...

MEACHAM:  Yes. 

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  That a president must enjoy the latitude to carry out his command as commander in chief. 

(CROSSTALK)

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  That‘s what he probably meant.

MEACHAM:  And remember what Kerry said.  He said I would have voted to give him the authority, that—then would have proceeded to da, da, da, da, da, which is all very interesting.  I just don‘t think it‘s good for the country. 

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  Yada, yada, yada is not a campaign promise. 

MEACHAM:  No, but when 48 percent...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... clarify, though.

MEACHAM:  But when 48 percent of the country wakes up hating the

president of the United States, it‘s not a good thing.  When Roosevelt was

president, 30 percent woke up.  We‘ve moved up 18 percent, roughly.  And

for all the tactics Joe‘s talking about and Chris is talking about

(CROSSTALK)

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  I think it‘s more like 45

(CROSSTALK)  

SCARBOROUGH:  And, by the way, I‘ve just got to say, I‘m not talking -

·         just for the record, I‘m not talking about death knell of any campaign. 

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  OK.

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘re still going to be late up election night.  I‘m

just saying John Kerry has dug himself into a hole.  And I think when you -

·         they‘re going to be regretting what he said for the rest of the

(CROSSTALK)  

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  OK, we‘re going to return.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, yes.  My God.  There‘s a long, long campaign.

WATTS:  Fifteen seconds, Chris. 

Republicans know that Democrats hate this president.  And they‘ve concluded we‘ve got to love him more than they hate him for him to be reelected.  And I‘ll guarantee you, you‘re going to see that. 

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  OK.

When we return, after that admonition, we‘ll get a preview of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s speech tonight.

And you‘re watching HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Republican National Convention on MSNBC. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM BROKAW, NBC ANCHOR:  A new wrinkle for campaign buttons now.  They now come with their own built-in audio system.  This is Reagan-Bush ‘84.  They sell for six bucks.  Can you hear that?  That‘s a rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”  It may be, in our judgment, a poor rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but, then, you‘ve never heard me sing it. 

(LAUGHTER)

BROKAW:  We‘ll be back with more after this. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL‘s live coverage from New York.  We were just on the Jumbotron in Times Square. 

In just over an hour, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is going to take to the podium.  And for Schwarzenegger, it‘s been an incredible journey, from Austria to Hollywood to Sacramento and now to the Republican National Convention here in New York. 

HARDBALL election correspondent David Shuster joins us live from the convention floor—David.

DAVID SHUSTER, NBC ELECTION CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Chris, everybody at this convention knows that Arnold Schwarzenegger first and foremost was trained as a performer.  And you can sense the anticipation building among the delegates as they wait for the ultimate combination of Hollywood, politics, and heavy lifting. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SHUSTER (voice-over):  There is the American dream, and then there is Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER ®, CALIFORNIA:  I came here with absolutely nothing.  And California has given me absolutely everything. 

SHUSTER:  Few stars have had as much of an impact on both American pop culture.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE TERMINATOR”)

SCHWARZENEGGER:  I‘ll be back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  And American politics. 

SCHWARZENEGGER:  And they‘re saying we are mad as hell and we are not going to take it anymore. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

SHUSTER:  But the reason he is in prime time tonight, despite not being close with President Bush, is because Schwarzenegger presents a pragmatic, likable and exciting image for a party known lately for its divisive conservatism. 

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  You need to renew the Patriot Act. 

SHUSTER:  Born in Austria the son of a police chief, Arnold Schwarzenegger was pushed to athletic excellence and won a top bodybuilding contest at age 18. 

But he had a drive to succeed in America.  He moved to Southern California, won the Mr. Universe contest three times and Mr. Olympia seven.  Then came the movies, small ones at first, and then films that turned him into a box office superstar. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY”)

SCHWARZENEGGER:  Hasta la vista, baby.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “KINDERGARTEN COP”)

SCHWARZENEGGER:  Reading, writing, arithmetic. 

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS:  Reading, writing, arithmetic!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  Schwarzenegger was a self-made man, professionally and personally.  He married Maria Shriver, a member of the Kennedy clan.  And began helping some Republicans.  The ‘90s saw Schwarzenegger continue his movies, earning him more than $100 million.  But two years ago, he helped pass a California ballot initiative. 

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  Would you support a constitutional amendment to allow people like yourself to run for president? 

SCHWARZENEGGER:  You know, I don‘t even think about that.  I know which way you‘re going. 

(LAUGHTER)

SHUSTER:  Six months after Schwarzenegger‘s HARDBALL appearance, the California budget was worse than Governor Gray Davis had let on, and Californians were losing jobs every week. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Would you folks like to sign the recall Gray Davis petition? 

SHUSTER:  Recall drives had been tried before, but for this one, a million and a half voters signed petitions, setting a referendum on Gray Davis and prompting this surprising announcement from Schwarzenegger. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO”)  

SCHWARZENEGGER:  He needs to be recalled.  And this is why I‘m going to run for governor of the state of California. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  The race quickly became a free-for-all, with 135 candidates. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO”)  

JAY LENO, HOST:  “Hustler” publisher Larry Flynt and adult film star Mary Carey, they‘re also running.  You see, you know what bothers me about this, the two of them?   See, this could split the all-important porn vote. 

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  Many were turned off by the circus and, at first, Davis looked like he might hang on. 

GOV. GRAY DAVIS (D), CALIFORNIA:  I am going to fight this recall and the right-wing forces behind it.  You can take that to the bank. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

SHUSTER:  But Schwarzenegger vowed to smash the car tax. 

SCHWARZENEGGER:  This goes on all day long, tanks, tax, tax, tax, tax, tax. 

SHUSTER:  And he promised to get rid of the special interests and work with his political rivals. 

SCHWARZENEGGER:  I lived with a Democrat for the last 17 years.  I‘m trained to deal with Democrats, OK? 

SHUSTER:  At times, the campaign got nasty. 

SCHWARZENEGGER:  Bustamante is Gray Davis with a receding hairline and with a mustache.

SHUSTER:  And just days before the election, “The Los Angeles Times”  reported the claims of six women who came into contact with the actor over the last 30 years and said Schwarzenegger groped and humiliated them.  Schwarzenegger‘s recall rivals pounced. 

TOM MCCLINTOCK ®, CALIFORNIA STATE SENATOR:  I‘m the father of a 13-year-old daughter.  If those allegations are true, he should withdraw. 

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE:  This is the way you treat women.  We know that, but not now. 

(BOOING)

SCHWARZENEGGER:  I just realized that I have a perfect part for you in “Terminator 4.” 

(LAUGHTER)

SCHWARZENEGGER:  That‘s it. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

SHUSTER:  In the end, the voters trusted Schwarzenegger and were willing to place their hopes on a fiscal conservative whose liberal social views include support for abortion rights and gay rights. 

SCHWARZENEGGER:  I, Arnold Schwarzenegger...

SHUSTER:  Weeks after his inauguration, Schwarzenegger called legislators into a special session to take up the state‘s budget crisis.  They solved it, got rid of the car tax, and convinced voters to approve two measures designed to provide long-term fiscal stability.  It was yet another Schwarzenegger success.  And now his approval rating stands at 65 percent. 

The governator, as they call him in Sacramento, has turned his rivals, flattered the media, and excited the Republican Party, a party which sees him as the perfect image of self-made success and living your dreams. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHUSTER:  And, Chris, there‘s a great sense here at the convention that Schwarzenegger is going to help with those voters who may just be tuning in to politics for the first time this summer, those moderates who may just simply hear that Arnold Schwarzenegger is speaking. 

But as much as he may help George W. Bush tonight, Chris, there‘s a great anticipation as well that he may help the movement to amend Article II Section 1, Clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution, which says that no person except a natural-born citizen can become president of the United States—

Chris.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  Thank you, David Shuster. 

We‘re back with our panel. 

Let me ask you , has anybody on the panel heard any buzz, realistic buzz, about a call for a change in the Constitution this week in New York? 

MEACHAM:  Not really. 

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  OK, let me ask you about Schwarzenegger.  I want to read you a quote, which I‘m allowed to read, because it was not embargoed like the rest of the speech.  It‘s coming tonight. 

“In this country, it doesn‘t make any difference where you‘re born.  It doesn‘t make any difference who your parents were.  It doesn‘t make any difference if, like me, you couldn‘t even speak English until you were in your 20s.  America gave me opportunities, and my immigrant dreams came true.  I want other people to get the same chance as I did and the same opportunities.  And I believe they can.  That‘s why I believe in this country.  That‘s why I believe in this party, and that‘s why I believe in this president.”

Jon. 

MEACHAM:  Sometimes politics is poetry.  And I think this will be a very emotional moment. 

We‘re sitting in a city that is in fact a city of immigrants.  We‘re not far from Ellis Island.  And sometimes, for all the talk about the tactics and whether we‘re at 48 or 45 in this district and that district, conventions and speeches are about performance and about what great actors and great preachers sometimes do, which is convince people of a reality they cannot see. 

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  Joe, you know, he once told me about the time that he was still in Austria and could barely speak English, if at all.  And he had somebody translating a television appearance by Hubert Humphrey in ‘68 and Richard Nixon.

And he heard Humphrey‘s speech and he said, I‘m a Republican, because he said, that guy sounds like one of our socialists here.

(CROSSTALK)  

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  It was pretty dramatic.  I think that‘s going to be part of the message tonight. 

MEACHAM:  He probably went on too long, too, with Humphrey.

SCARBOROUGH:  Probably so.

You know what‘s so remarkable to me is when—since I‘ve been coming up and doing the show in New York and the area and I‘ve been driving around taxicabs, you run into a lot more immigrants.  And if you want to talk to somebody about the American dream, a taxicab driver will be driving me around.  I‘ll ask him, how are you doing?  How long you—I always ask how long have you been here, because it‘s so fascinating to me. 

If you want to hear somebody talk about the greatness of America, how it really is like Reagan said, a city shining brightly on the hill for all the world to see, talk to these immigrants, and they will tell you, I‘m going to work in this cab for six months, then I‘m going to get my own car.  Then, just like my cousin did 10 years ago, I‘m going to start my own business.  Then I‘m going to build it up and I‘m going to have the biggest cab company in New York.  They all believe that. 

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  Who are your favorite immigrants? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I...

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  Mine are the West Africans, the West Africans, maybe because I was in Peace Corps.  I don‘t what it is.  These guys are the most gung-ho, pro-American.

And you know what, Joe?  This will make you feel better. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  They watch our shows.  They watch them all the time, because they want to learn what we‘re arguing about and they want to learn how to speak English. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Chris, it is amazing that you said that, because when I just go into stores, go into a grocery store anywhere in New York, it‘s always African immigrants that come up to me.  They‘re like, Joe Scarborough, I watch your show. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s remarkable. 

But, again, that‘s part of buying into the American dream.  So I say all that just to say Arnold Schwarzenegger, as an immigrant, can deliver a message that none of us can deliver, because we, like our kids, unfortunately, take what we have here in America for granted too much. 

That‘s what‘s going to be so special I think about the speech

(CROSSTALK)

WATTS:  But, you know, Chris, West Africans—and I—representing the University of Oklahoma, we had a lot of people from Africa, West Africa on the campus of the University of Oklahoma. 

But people from West Africa, as Arnold Schwarzenegger and other I‘m sorry, they understand.  I mean, there‘s many of them that really do understand, if you come to this country, you play by the rules, you work hard, you understand sacrifice, commitment, there‘s plenty of room for you to accomplish more than you ever thought in your wildest dreams that you would accomplish. 

The same thing is true for the very people that are not immigrants in this country. 

MITCHELL:  But the Republican Party still has to deal with the issue that‘s going to be glossed over tonight when we talk about this great welcome mat, which is that there are real differences between the political parties and even within the political parties about immigration policy.  And that comes to a particular edge in California. 

(CROSSTALK)

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  You know, we can argue.  And I can take the position, as we all can, on legitimate, progressive, liberal immigration policy.  And you still come up with the fact that the law has to be enforced. 

(CROSSTALK)

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  You give driver‘s licenses to people.  If the first thing they did when they came here was break the law, it‘s a hard argument to say give them a driver‘s license. 

MITCHELL:  But the issue is actually going to end up being an economic issue, because we as a nation need immigration in order to have people to take jobs, in order to keep the economy going. 

(CROSSTALK)

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  I know.  I know that

(CROSSTALK)

WATTS:  Let me tell you a critical difference in the two parties. 

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

WATTS:  John Edwards—President Bush has talked about an ownership

society, affordable housing, people owning their own home, giving them a

stake in the system.  John Kerry says, I will increase Section 8 housing

funding.  That‘s not ownership.  And those are the things that this

president has fought for

(CROSSTALK) 

SCARBOROUGH:  I have got to say this, though, about immigration, Andrea.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  OK.

(CROSSTALK)

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  I know what he is talking about, like, I want full funding for Title 20 programs.  It‘s the kind of sound that doesn‘t sound American, exactly. 

MITCHELL:  Well, it‘s senatorial.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  But we‘re going to come right back and talk more about—even on these calm evenings, we get arguments going here. 

When we return, we‘re going to check in with NBC‘s Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert, plus Senator Rick Santorum.  There‘s a firebrand from Pennsylvania, the Keystone State and the swing state.  It‘s all building up to the big speeches tonight by Arnold Schwarzenegger and first lady Laura Bush. 

HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the convention continues after this.

END   

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