updated 9/1/2004 11:17:31 AM ET 2004-09-01T15:17:31

Guests: Rick Santorum, Kay Bailey Hutchison, J.C. Watts, Tim Pawlenty, Ralph Reed, Kevin Mannix

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  You‘re watching MSNBC‘s coverage all night of the Republican national convention here in New York.  We‘re live from Herald Square at 34th and Broadway.  This is where the action starts tonight, and it continues, as you‘ve been observing, throughout this evening.  It‘s been very interesting.  The Republican political world waits to hear tonight from its newest superstar, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who‘s going to be the big headliner tonight, along with first lady Laura Bush and later tonight, of course, the first lady.

Let me ask right now—let‘s go right now to Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.  Senator Santorum, thank you for joining us tonight.

SEN. RICK SANTORUM ®, PENNSYLVANIA:  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  You are a traditional conservative Republican.  What do you make of a convention which seems to be headlined by Rudy Giuliani, by—well, Ron Silver, by Schwarzenegger, by Pataki?  Are you putting out all your moderates to sell the conservatives?

SANTORUM:  No, I think what we‘re doing is we‘re trying to get TV sets to turn on, and Arnold Schwarzenegger turns on TVs, and so does Rudy Giuliani and so does Laura Bush.  And I mean, we‘re putting forth the people who are going to get an audience for the message that we‘re going to communicate.  And you know, no one listened to Rudy Giuliani‘s message and heard anything different than what George Bush has been saying for the past six months.

The fact is, we‘re going to talk about things in which we agree on, and when Rudy Giuliani or Arnold Schwarzenegger or John McCain agree with us 80 to 90 percent of the time, they have a right to be here on the convention and they have a right to communicate our message to the American people.

MATTHEWS:  But is this a cross-dress?  Is it fair to say that the people standing on the platform literally are standing on that platform politically?

SANTORUM:  Well, look, I mean, it‘s a political convention, and—but they‘re standing on there saying what they believe.  We‘re not asking them to say anything that they don‘t believe in.  And when Ed Koch got up yesterday and talked—Ed Koch doesn‘t agree with George Bush probably on 90 percent of the things, but on the one big thing he agrees on, he thinks it outweighs everything else.  That‘s what Ron Silver is there for.  That‘s what a lot of people who are going to vote for George Bush understand, how big and important some of these major issues are in our society.  And that‘s going to be a very important part of getting George Bush elected president.

MATTHEWS:  But for Senator Rick Santorum, if the Democratic Party were the pro-life party and the Republican party were the pro-choice party, to use the usual nicknames, you‘d be a Democrat, wouldn‘t you?

SANTORUM:  Well, I mean, that‘s a very important issue to me, but there‘s no way the Democratic Party, given their philosophy, would ever be the pro-life party.  We‘re the party that respects all human life, that believes in human potential, that believes in individual freedom.  They believe in government.  They believe in top down.  We believe in the integrity and beauty of the American spirit, and that‘s fundamentally different.  That‘s why I‘m a Republican.  It only makes sense that as a Republican who believes in that core philosophy, that we believe in the dignity of every human life and that we want to protect that life.

MATTHEWS:  What do you make of somebody like the head of the Log Cabins, Frank Gurney (ph), comes on the program and comes on the convention floor with our correspondents and makes a case for gay marriage?  What do you make of a guy like that?  He‘s a Republican.  I think he‘s a fiscal conservative.  He‘s in many ways in league with you on so many issues.  On that fundamental issue for him, he disagrees.  Should he change parties?

SANTORUM:  No.  I mean, look, if he agrees with us, again, on 80 percent of the issues, and he believes those are important enough issues to the country, then he should vote for George Bush and should be a Republican.  To me, what we have to understand is now the Republican Party‘s the majority party in America.  We‘re not a special interest party.  We didn‘t require speakers to pee into a bottle and to do a chemistry check to make sure that they agreed with us on every single thing and there wasn‘t a molecule out of place.  We allowed dissenters to not only be in this hall but to speak and to highlight them as to—that they are part of this very important coalition that‘s going to govern this country in a very difficult time for our nation.

MATTHEWS:  I love your metaphors.  Let me ask you about Pennsylvania, Senator.  Let me ask you—Pennsylvania, I guess about a week or two ago, looked like it was headed south for your party.  Eddie Rendell was bragging to friends about how he was going to save the taxpayers a billion dollars in property taxes and that was going to bring home the national ticket.  Now something‘s going on.  What I hear—and I know I‘m right—it‘s culture.  There‘s something about the culture of the Democratic ticket that isn‘t clicking in Pennsylvania.

SANTORUM:  Yes.  I mean, a guy who‘s wind-surfing on Nantucket this week is not someone who the people—may be outside of a very small area of Pennsylvania—are going to be able to connect with.  And these two guys have been to Pennsylvania, and since they have been to Pennsylvania, their numbers are going down.  I said from the very beginning there was a reason John Kerry was running fourth in Iowa before Howard Dean imploded.  The more the people of Pennsylvania get to know the man John Kerry, the character that he has been over the last 20 years in the United States Senate, his lack of resolve, his lack of leadership, his poor voting record, his elitist attitude toward the American people, he is not going to connect with Pennsylvania.  It will be in the Bush column, and as a result, George Bush will be the next president.

MATTHEWS:  Bob Casey, the former governor of Pennsylvania, the pro-life Democratic governor for two terms, elected by a million votes the second time, once said to me that Pennsylvania is a John Wayne state, not a Jane Fonda state.  Which of those two personalities most resembles John Kerry?

SANTORUM:  Well, I mean, I only have to allude to his testimony before Congress.  The fact of the matter is, that isn‘t playing well in Pennsylvania.  I can‘t tell you the number of veterans I talk to, Vietnam vets, Korean vets, who that brought back a lot of old wounds.  And I think that kind of anti-American sentiment, that kind of America can‘t do it, America isn‘t good enough anymore, and sort of being critical, as he has been of the president, not supporting our troops, all that coming out in Pennsylvania is just not going to sell.  And as a result, this president will get reelected.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  It‘s great talking to you tonight, Senator Rick Santorum, the junior senator from Pennsylvania.

Let‘s go up to the skybox and the anchor of “NBC Nightly News,” Tom Brokaw.  And I want to ask you—and of course, Tim Russert, who‘s the Washington bureau chief and moderator of “MEET THE PRESS.”  Let me ask you, gentlemen, how does Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s life story, which we‘re going to hear tonight, fit into the Republican case?

TOM BROKAW, ANCHOR, “NBC NIGHTLY NEWS”:  Oh, I think it fits exactly into it.  First of all, he‘ll make a strong appeal to immigrants and ethnic groups, especially the Hispanic voters (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the Republicans have been trying so hard in the past several cycles to get to.  They‘re big fans of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

There‘s another group that I saw when he was running for governor that I think is kind of the shadow group people are not talking enough about when they talk about Arnold.  Those are first-time young male voters.  They‘re going to go to the voting booth because Arnold says it‘s OK to vote for George W. Bush.

He also brings a very strong message of optimism.  He says that this country can do it, I‘m an example of that, and we have our best days ahead of us.  Arnold is a great marketer.  People forget about the fact that he became “The Terminator” not just because he was on the silver screen.  He went out from box office to box office and sold that film, and he never forgets the importance of selling your message.  So I think he not only fits well into the Republican scheme of things here, but he knows how to sell their message, Tim.

TIM RUSSERT, MODERATOR, “MEET THE PRESS”:  And there‘s a huge curiosity factor about Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom.  And tonight, I think people will tune into see what he looks like as governor, what his message is.  Listening to Senator Santorum‘s interview with Chris, there are young white voters, independent voters, in Scranton, PA, Wilkes-Barre, Sharon, PA, who are going to look up and say...

BROKAW:  Flint, Michigan.

RUSSERT:  ... Flint, Michigan—you know, and say...

BROKAW:  Factory towns.

RUSSERT:  ... scratch their head and say, You know what?  This is different.  This is a different kind of message, one of optimism, hope and opportunity, and maybe I should give the Republicans a second look.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the first lady, gentlemen.  I hate to make a joke about this, but what will Laura‘s theme be tonight?

BROKAW:  Well, I think her primary theme will just be her appearance.  I‘ve been saying that all evening long.  She‘s such a reassuring presence, and she‘ll talk about her husband and what she has seen behind the closed doors of the White House as he‘s been making these difficult judgments about the war on terror and the other challenges that have come before him in the last three years during his presidency.

But Laura Bush, I think, just by her appearance here tonight, is a kind of reassuring symbol to a lot of people in this country.  She‘s a strong woman who‘s not afraid to speak up to her husband and to correct him, as she has done, even publicly from time to time.  She has a school teacher‘s background.  And she‘s grown in the job.  She‘s very comfortable now, without being arrogant or playing the part of the queenly first lady.  She always seems like she‘s from west Texas.

RUSSERT:  Absolutely, Tom.  You know, Laura Bush understands and the Bush campaign understands that there are some people who have a caricature of the president as a cowboy.  And her job tonight is to say, No, no, no.  He‘s not compulsive or impulsive.  He‘s much more thoughtful.  He takes to heart very seriously issues of war and peace.  She‘s trying to round him off, make him softer, if you will, to try to close that gender gap.

BROKAW:  And we should also remind everyone, Chris, that we‘re going to see the Bush twins here tonight...

MATTHEWS:  Right.

BROKAW:  ... as well.  They‘re more eager with every passing day to take a more public role on behalf of their father.  They seem to be enjoying it.  They were with their grandfather, George Herbert Walker Bush, in Athens at the Greek Olympics, and they were able to make fun of themselves, Jenna Bush talking about the time that she stuck out her tongue and said, I don‘t think I‘ll be doing that any time soon.

(LAUGHTER)

RUSSERT:  Hey, Chris, your comments about culture—we‘re going to see the president at a softball game in Ohio, a Tuesday night softball game.  That‘s America.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about—I love that.  We all love, I think, the—or all appreciate the law of unintended consequences in politics.  Here we are in New York City, the Big Apple, and I guess we‘re surrounded, if you‘re a Republican or even an observer, by the presence of Hillary Clinton in this city.  If she looms as the Republicans‘ challenge in the year 2008, is that likely to make a case for people like Giuliani and McCain, who wouldn‘t normally be considered as part of the Republican regular party?

BROKAW:  You mean, in terms of taking her on?

MATTHEWS:  Right.  You need a star to beat a star, even if it‘s a moderate.

BROKAW:  Well, I think that we‘re making a lot of assumptions here, Chris.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  How about the assumption that Hillary wants to be president?

BROKAW:  Well, I don‘t think there‘s any question about that, but it‘s a matter of whether she gets there or not, and there are going to be a lot of people lined up in 2008.  Whatever happens in this election, and of course, if John Kerry wins, then it will pretty well preempt any opportunities that Hillary Clinton has.  On the other hand, if the president wins this time, that will scramble the scene, as well, for four years from now.

(CROSSTALK)

RUSSERT:  You know politics, Chris.  If John McCain and Rudy Giuliani jump in, you know that Rick Santorum or George Allen or Bill Frist couldn‘t resist being the conservative in a three-way race.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about what you‘ve heard today from people on the floor and elsewhere.  Does the speech that Giuliani gave last night—does it grow?  Has it grown over the last 24 hours?

BROKAW:  Well, I think he did very well.  And you know, it was—it‘s the speech that he‘s really been giving around the country, Chris.  This is not the first time that he‘s talked using those same phrases.  But it‘s very effective because he feels it so passionately.  And I thought one of the keys to Giuliani last night was something that he said out loud—great leaders are optimists, and he is an optimist.  He‘s been through the darkest possible times in this city.  And he‘s a great story teller, and he had a kind of narrative going in his speech last night.

Rudy is man of enormous political ambitions.  He‘d be the first to tell you that.  He wants to stay positioned for whatever opportunities come his way.  And he remains an extraordinarily popular figure in this country across party lines.  He used to drive Democrats crazy in New York City, but a lot of them had to acknowledge that he did a brilliant job during 9/11.  And when he goes across America, he fills up those halls not just with Republicans but with Democrats who admire his courage under fire and grace under pressure that John F. Kennedy used to talk about.

RUSSERT:  And how politics changes.  Rudy Giuliani was not invited to the ‘96 Republican national convention because he endorsed Mario Cuomo, the Democrat, for governor in ‘94.  Eight years later, Rudy‘s a hero.

BROKAW:  Big star.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Victory has 100 fathers.  Thank you very much, Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert.

Let me ask you, Andrea, about this theme I have.  I want to try it past all four of you, something I wrote about a couple years ago, and it‘s been mentioned so often tonight by every one of you.  I want you all to confirm what you‘ve said already.

The person who wins a presidential election in this country is the man with the sun in his face.  When you close your eyes, you imagine him outside not necessarily on a horse, but perhaps at the back of a train, whistle-stopping through the Midwest.  You imagine him outside in the country, meeting the people, facing them optimistically.  And the guy he beats is often the guy you think of as the bookworm, the bureaucrat, the Bob Dole, the Richard Nixon, or let me put it this way, the Dukakis, the person who seems like he really likes a desk.  He really likes to be behind a desk.  Does that hold up, in your historic estimation, Andrea?

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: 

Absolutely, it does.  I covered eight years of Ronald Reagan‘s presidency.  There couldn‘t have been a more optimistic, upbeat—you know, his famous story, There‘s a pony in there somewhere, that‘s the punchline about the barn.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  That‘s better than the urine test that Rick Santorum just talked about it!

MITCHELL:  But it‘s Ronald Reagan against Jimmy Carter.

MATTHEWS:  Right . Exactly.

MITCHELL:  It‘s Ronald Reagan against even Fritz Mondale.

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  It‘s Bill Clinton in New Hampshire going door to door and overcoming...

MATTHEWS:  Oh, remember that day, that old (ph) Saturday?

MITCHELL:  Exactly.  And despite all of the problems that he had in New Hampshire, showing that kind of spirit, that kind of optimism, the retail politician.  That‘s the politician that wins in November.

MATTHEWS:  OK, we‘re going to come back.  I‘m not sure whether Bill would have passed Rick Santorum‘s urine test.  But anyway, just kidding, Rick and Bill.

We‘re about 45 minutes away from the big speech tonight by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California.  Later tonight, the other big star of the night, first lady Laura Bush.  We‘re going to check in with the convention floor and talk to our panel when we return.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Republican convention.  NBC‘s Chip Reid is down on the floor, where he‘s been all night, this time with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas—Chip.

CHIP REID, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Chris, we are joined by Kay Bailey Hutchison, senator of Texas, and she was just telling me when she first met George Bush—how many years ago was it?

SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON ®, TEXAS:  About 35 years ago.

REID:  Tell me the circumstances.

HUTCHISON:  I was doing what you‘re doing.  I was a news reporter for the NBC affiliate in Houston, and I was interviewing the son of George Bush, who was running for the United States Senate in Texas.  And that‘s a race that he lost.  And I was interviewing his son, and he was talking about what his dad was going to do.  We were hilarious.  I had long hair, he had long sideburns.  They still have the tape in the archives at KPRC in Houston.

REID:  Did you think, Hmm, that guy‘s going to be president some day?

HUTCHISON:  I did not, and he didn‘t think I was going to be in the United States Senate, either, I‘ll guarantee you.  We were just kids.  I mean, we were under 30, 28 years old.  It was real different.

REID:  What a great story.  Tonight, Laura Bush is going to be speaking.  What do you think she needs to do?  Some people say she needs to soften his edges.  Do you see that?

HUTCHISON:  Well, I think what Laura needs to do is show what a wonderful, caring, first lady she is.  She is loved.  People know that they can relate to her because she is a great mom, a great wife.  When 9/11 happened, she didn‘t ever want to be in the spotlight, but she knew that children needed to be reassured, so she jumped in to do that.  She‘s just the most incredible, wonderful person, and it just comes through.  She‘s so natural.

REID:  OK.  Fantastic.  We‘ll be looking forward to that speech. 

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, thank you very much.  Chris, back to you.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Chip Reid.

Let‘s go back to the panel.  Look, I thought I was onto a really key point here, and I‘m going to stay on it until I get you to agree with me.  You agree with me.  Gentlemen, somebody said at a briefing this morning—and it was all these intellectual, brilliant guys from “Roll Call” and all that stuff, or rather from “Hotline” and everything, all these guys from”The Atlantic” magazine and “National Journal.”  And they‘re all—somebody stood up and said, I think the president‘s giving away too much territory by campaigning with his old clothes on because he looks like the other guy.  They‘re both running around with denim shirts on.  Why is he giving away the office of the presidency?  And my contention is Bush looks better without the suit on.  People like him more.

Joe, you‘re agreeing with me.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”:  There‘s no doubt about it!  I mean, people are talking about why Laura Bush makes George Bush better, it‘s because Laura Bush helps him relax.  George Bush, let‘s face it, this guy—I supported him in 2000, worked very hard to get him elected in 2000, but I will be the first to say you don‘t want this guy if you‘re supporting George Bush in a formal press conference or talking, you know, to—with other world leaders.  You want him in bluejeans.  You want him in a shirt.  In fact, I‘m telling you, when he‘s relaxed, when he‘s in the right settings, he‘s as good as anybody.

MITCHELL:  Isn‘t the job dealing with world leaders?

SCARBOROUGH:  When he‘s in a formal setting—I‘m talking about in a formal setting.  I‘m sure one on one with world leaders, he‘s great.  But when you get him in these formal situations, he‘s very awkward and stiff.  So yes, he looks much better in jeans and denim shirts.

MITCHELL:  What does that say about the debates?

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I don‘t know.  I think what it says about the debate is that George Bush is going to have to figure out how to get in the zone...

MATTHEWS:  Right.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... and be more relaxed than he was last time.  And again, how he does that—you know, that‘s for Karl Rove to worry about.

MATTHEWS:  If they debate on horseback?

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  If they did, obviously, he‘d win.  He‘d be in great shape.

MATTHEWS:  How about if they‘re sitting on a porch, whittling...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Anything where he doesn‘t have to put on cufflinks...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re watching, by the way, the arrival of some people who are formally attired.  The Cheneys tonight are coming in.  There‘s the vice president with his family, taking their positions in the VIP stand there.  That‘s become a feature of the campaign, watching the vice president.  So interesting that he‘s made himself at home as an observer of the convention.

Go ahead, Jon.

JON MEACHAM, NEWSWEEK:  But I think a key point about George W. Bush is he has fought so many losing battles against the English language that that‘s what was so remarkable about the Prince Hal, the Henry V moment...

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

MEACHAM:  ... after 9/11, when he really found his voice, literally.  And suddenly, he was more articulate.  He was concise.  He was clear.  He knew what he wanted to do because he thought he had found his mission.  I think you can always tell with a president, or anyone else, when they fall off their—the topic they know a great deal about because then they lack a certain confidence and they begin to hem and haw.  And when President Bush stood down here, about four miles away, and found his mission and his presidency, and I think really became president for a lot of people...

MATTHEWS:  Well, I agree with that, and I say that a thousand times.  But it is interesting that the president, even at his greatest moment, when he said, But those people who knocked down this wall will soon hear from all of us—even then, he had a hard time putting the sentence together, but people loved it.  They didn‘t knock down any buildings...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Why is that, though?  You know what?  I‘ve never figured out why the media, and they have—why the media has always seemed to give him a free pass on this because Andrea, I agree with you.  Again, here‘s a guy I support, but being president of the United States requires an ability to communicate.  I remember listening to Tony...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  No, I‘m talking about as far as his communication skills after 9/11.

(CROSSTALK)

MEACHAM:  I could not disagree more.

MITCHELL:  Values.  Values matter more than communication skills.  I mean, you‘ve got to have the communications skills to get elected, yes, but if you have character and values, that comes through to the American people.  And...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  But anybody that saw Tony Blair talk...

MITCHELL:  ... basis for politics.  One thing that he did do today, we should just point out, is that he cleaned up the clear mistake he made with Matt Lauer, and he went out and gave a speech today and said we could win the war on terror, after having said to Matt Lauer in his interview that he didn‘t think that it was winnable.  Now...

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s not an optimistic thing to say.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I think the press jumped on him for saying the most reasonable thing he‘s ever said.  These things don‘t go away.  You can fight them and beat them and you can beat them down...

MITCHELL:  But politics is broad strokes, black and white.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

MITCHELL:  And you know that if John Kerry would have said the same thing, he would have been—the Republicans would have been all over John Kerry.

J.C. WATTS ®, FORMER OKLAHOMA CONGRESSMAN:  You know, optimism and a smile, Chris, in politics goes a long way.  Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton.  George Bush does that.  You know, when people say, I kind of like old Mathews, but I don‘t know if I want to go to lunch with him, you know, that matters in politics.

MATTHEWS:   Interesting.  You‘re using my name, but not me.

WATTS:  Right.  Not using you.  I‘m just—or Watts.  (UNINTELLIGIBLE)  I don‘t know if I want to go to lunch with him.  And I‘ll tell you, I think that‘s something that has hurt John Kerry to this point.  I mean, would you want to go fishing with John Kerry if you knew you were not going to catch anything?

MITCHELL:  How about wind-surfing?

WATTS:  No, you wouldn‘t.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You know, we‘re almost getting me into a Joe Pesci mood here.  You know, what you‘re saying is—what you‘re saying, J.C., is I‘d be a good example of a guy you wouldn‘t want to go to lunch with.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  I feel like Pesci all of a sudden.

WATTS:  I‘ll use me, since I was in politics.  But that does matter to people.  You know, Ronald Reagan—you wanted to hang out with Ronald—

George Bush, as we said earlier, as I said earlier—George Bush—man, let me tell you, when you‘re with him and you‘re at the ranch or you‘re at his house...

MEACHAM:  He‘s unbelievable one on one.

WATTS:  He really is.

MEACHAM:  One on one...

(CROSSTALK)

WATTS:  And President Clinton was the same way.

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s have hands right now.  Who‘s going to win the debates?

MITCHELL:  I don‘t think you can say that.

MATTHEWS:  J.C., who‘s going to win the debates?

MITCHELL:  Dick Cheney beat Joe Lieberman, and no one predicted that.

WATTS:  Flip a coin.

MEACHAM:  I think Jim Fallows‘s piece in “The Atlantic”...

MATTHEWS:  I read it.

MEACHAM:  ... about how Bush...

MATTHEWS:  Long piece.

MEACHAM:  ... has changed—it‘s going to be hard for the Bushes to play the expectations game now, after that piece.

SCARBOROUGH:  I think again—but this is interesting.  It‘s a guy that says George Bush can‘t speak.  I think he‘s going to play to his advantage, like he did in his debate in 1994 with Ann Richards, like he did with Al Gore in 2000.  You know, every night, people watching David Letterman, the president of the United States making a fool of himself when he tries to complete a sentence.  But he gets into these debates, and when he needs to step up and hit the ball, he always does.

MATTHEWS:  You know what I think?  I think...

WATTS:  Joe mentioned...

MATTHEWS:  ... they‘re both—I think they‘re both going to be spectacular.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I think what‘s going to happen is that John Kerry‘s going to rise to the occasion.  He‘s going to speak direct, combative English.  He‘s going to challenge the president.  The president‘s going to challenge him.  And I think we‘re going to be very proud of that night in this country.

MITCHELL:  You‘re assuming that Jim Baker or whoever is eventually chosen, if it is going to be Jim Baker, is going to let him debate.

MATTHEWS:  I think there‘s going to be—I think the American people...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  We have to have debates.

MITCHELL:  ... going to be three, as has been set out.

MATTHEWS:  There‘ll be debates.

WATTS:  Joe mentioned his zone.  If President Bush can get comfortable, he will be very, very effective.  When he gets in a zone and he‘s comfortable and laid back, he will be very, very effective.  But you know, President Bush, when he‘s talking to other people, he doesn‘t always do as well as he should.  When he‘s talking to you, he does very well.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Which one of these guys do you know best, John?

MEACHAM:  Well, the gentleman from Florida and the gentleman from Oklahoma—I think that—with due respect, I think that Bush, for all his regular guy persona—actually, if you take him at his word that his life began in 1986, when he turned 40, he quit drinking...

MATTHEWS:  Quite drinking, yes.

MEACHAM:  ... at the Broadmoor (ph), he has spent 12 of the last 16 years governing or running for office.  Campaigning is his comfort zone.  See, I think there‘s a distinct difference between the George Bush of May and the George Bush of August, and it‘s not just swift boats and all that.  It‘s that this is something he‘s comfortable doing.  It‘s no mistake that he found his voice with a bullhorn.

MATTHEWS:  So true.  You know, the worst mistake Jimmy Carter made—and I did work for him and do I value his values a lot.  But as a politician, when I was writing speeches for him back in 1980, the biggest mistake he made was the Rose Garden strategy because the minute he said, I‘m not going to go out there and campaign against Ted Kennedy, he was basically saying, I‘m not going to warm up in the primaries, and therefore, I‘m going into the general election cold.  And he wasn‘t ready for Ronald Reagan.  To beat a Ronald Reagan, you got to first beat a Ted Kennedy, and you got to beat him out there where everybody can see you do it.  He blew it.  I think he hurt himself.

MITCHELL:  And all you need in a debate is one line, “There you go again.”

MATTHEWS:  “There you go again.”  He was—he was cold on his feet. 

He was flat-footed.  And Reagan creamed him.

We‘ll be right back.  We‘re going to talk to the governor of Minnesota, which has traditionally been a state with a liberal voting record.  Well, not too recently, but it used to be liberal, with Humphrey and Mondale and McCarthy.  That‘s changing a lot.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re on the streets of New York. 

Welcome back to HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Republican Convention here in New York City. 

Governor Tim Pawlenty is a Republican.  He‘s governor of Minnesota. 

Sir, thank you.

GOV. TIM PAWLENTY ®, MINNESOTA:  My pleasure, Chris.  Thanks for having me.

MATTHEWS:  You know, I don‘t know how many programs we do on this show and every other cable show on television and every other political show in the world.  For the first time in my life, all we talk about are battleground states, as if 40 states out of 50 don‘t matter. 

I want to talk to you about Minnesota.  Is it a battleground? 

PAWLENTY:  It absolutely is a battleground.  The public polls confirm that.  And Minnesota basically used to be a classic liberal state.  Now it‘s a...

MATTHEWS:  Wendy Anderson (ph).  Let‘s see.  What‘s the guy‘s name, the former secretary of agriculture in the Kennedy administration?

PAWLENTY:  Freeman. 

MATTHEWS:  Freeman.  McCarthy, Eugene McCarthy.  I just had lunch with him a couple of weeks ago, Mondale, Humphrey, Hubert Humphrey.  The most liberal state in the Union.

What‘s going on? 

PAWLENTY:  What‘s going on is this.  Classic liberalism has been discredited.

Plus, if you look at the Upper Midwest, these are populist states.  And you know what?  Empowerment conservatism, opportunity conservatism has been become a populist political movement. 

MATTHEWS:  I almost went to the University of Minnesota for grad

school.  I would have had Walter Heller, head of the economics department,

Kennedy‘s chairman of the

(CROSSTALK)

PAWLENTY:  I had him, Walter Heller.  I had him.

MATTHEWS:  Yes, chairman of the economics department.

It changed—you‘re telling me, demographic, it changed?  Did all the Swedes and Norwegians die?  What happened? 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  What happened to all those old social Democrats?

PAWLENTY:  Well, some are still there, but the years go by.  The decades go by.  The pendulum swings.  And you can‘t have a state like Hawaii used to be, like Massachusetts used to be and Minnesota used to be, classic social liberal states, unchecked.  It‘s been discredited. 

MATTHEWS:  What failed in the welfare state? 

PAWLENTY:  Excess and also just a misunderstanding of how markets operate, human nature in terms of initiative, responsibility, accountability.  And conservatives, particularly opportunity conservatives, say there‘s a role for government, but if it‘s excessive, if it‘s misplaces, you have got problems. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s be particular here.

We all retire.  We all expect to get Social Security.  We all expect to get Medicare.  What is it in the federal program of social welfare that‘s been discredited? 

PAWLENTY:  First of all, the premise is, government should do things that people can‘t do for themselves.  So if we had a government-facilitated retirement system, where people could have some option, market forces could come into play, that would be a good thing, probably be a better thing for most Americans.  And I think my generation is about to find that out.

MATTHEWS:  Would you give—would you give people the freedom to decide whether to kick into Social Security and whether to have a program of any kind?  Would you force them to have something? 

PAWLENTY:  I think people for the common good should contribute something. 

MATTHEWS:  Would you trust people to look out for their own retirement? 

PAWLENTY:  Yes, within guidelines, if the government was set so they don‘t get ripped off. 

MATTHEWS:  Really?

PAWLENTY:  Yes. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  No, but you wouldn‘t be afraid that some people would end up not having saved, not having put money aside, because they can‘t, because they‘re pressed or because they‘re just not that kind person to look ahead?  Aren‘t you worried about those people ending up as wards of the state? 

PAWLENTY:  To a point, Chris.  That‘s why government should step in

and say there‘s some minimal safeguards, some minimal programming.  But

beyond that, if there‘s an opportunity for choice or enhancement

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Do you believe that President Bush will bring up that issue again on Thursday night?  People say he might bring up a new initiative in a social area where he‘s going to take a chance and bring the debate to the future, rather than the past?  Do you expect he will? 

PAWLENTY:  Yes, I think he will.  He‘s not been bashful about talking about this issue.  It was with great boldness that he spoke about it last time.  I suspect he‘ll bring it up again this time.  And we shouldn‘t be afraid of that.  We‘re not talking about privatizing it.  We‘re just talking about giving people some choice. 

MATTHEWS:  But you know the old story about the older woman who was afraid to vote for Senator Goldwater back in ‘64 and a commentator like myself said, well, why are you afraid of Goldwater?  And she says, well, he‘s going to take away my TV.  And the commentator says, well, actually, he‘s going to get rid of the Tennessee Valley Authority.  He‘s going to get rid of the TVA.  And she said, I‘m not taking any chances. 

PAWLENTY:  Here‘s the basic

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I‘m just serious about that.  You know what I‘m talking about, the fear of older people, especially, that any change is dangerous. 

PAWLENTY:  Well, good.  Well, grandfather or grandmother them in.

But for my generation, people are willing to take a look at it.  Let‘s just say this.  For people who are willing to do it themselves, we‘ll put up some minimal safeguards, allow them to make the choice. 

MATTHEWS:  You really believe this president has the nerve to try something that dramatic as to try to privatize Social Security? 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Or a portion of it.

PAWLENTY:  He has not talked about privatizing Social Security. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, create personal accounts.

(CROSSTALK)

PAWLENTY:  Well, personal accounts.  And so, within a range, a minor slice of it, let people have some discretion, some choice.  I think that‘s a reasonable and fair thing.  And for the generation that already is, let them go with it. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you expect that the Democrats would respond and say they‘re tampering with Social Security; this is a sneak attack on Social Security; they never did like the program; the Republicans are up to their old games of killing Social Security? 

PAWLENTY:  No.  But, again, people need to be clear.

MATTHEWS:  Because I think this would become a lightning rod. 

PAWLENTY:  No.  We are not talking about privatizing Social Security.  The president is only talking about personal accounts, one small slice of a much larger picture.  So we have to put it in context. 

And the premise is this.  People aren‘t dumb.  American voters are pretty smart.  Ideas matter.  Facts matter.  Leadership matters.  President Bush wins on those counts. 

MATTHEWS:  If President Bush pulls an upset and wins a state like Minnesota, which would suggest a real, you know, a surprise victory, would that be—and try to give me one answer here.  Would it be because of his cultural conservatism, his concern about some of the things that the Democrats are pushing, gay marriage, etcetera, abortion rights?  Would he win on that account or because of the economy? 

PAWLENTY:  Being the opportunity conservative would be the winning message.  I mean, people don‘t want their taxes raised.  More or less, they‘re not for gay marriages.  They don‘t want a social welfare state that‘s out of control.  They want to have a safety net, but not to excess, and on down the list. 

Being an opportunity conservative has become the mainstream.  It‘s become the populist message.  That‘s why we‘re doing better in a state like Minnesota. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, you certainly are.  Congratulations, Governor. 

PAWLENTY:  Thanks, Chris.  Thanks for having me on the show. 

Appreciate it. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s turned into a big surprise out there in Minnesota, which I grew up with being a liberal state.  Thank you, Governor Tim Pawlenty.

PAWLENTY:  You‘re welcome. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go right now to Campbell Brown, who is down on the floor.  She joins us with Ralph Reed, one of the brains behind this campaign—Campbell.

CAMPBELL BROWN, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  That‘s right, Chris, a former head of the Christian Coalition and now in charge of Bush-Cheney reelect for much of the South. 

Does it bother you at all that the people who are taking the stage in prime time at this convention don‘t share the same values as you, that they are promoting moderates in terms of at least the television audience? 

RALPH REED, SOUTHEAST CHAIRMAN, BUSH-CHENEY CAMPAIGN:  No, not at all. 

Look, we‘re a majority party.  And if you‘re a party big enough to have a majority of both houses of Congress, president, governor of the largest state in America, the mayor of New York City, a majority of governorships, then by definition you reflect the diversity of America.  And I‘ll just tell you, we‘ve got the two most important conservatives in our party, Campbell, are going to be speaking tomorrow night and Thursday night.  And that‘s the vice president and the president. 

BROWN:  But come on...

REED:  They‘re the most important conservative voices in our party. 

BROWN:  It is a convention, a week long of buildup.  And those are the only two conservatives essentially taking the stage. 

REED:  Oh, no.  No, that‘s not accurate.  Zell Miller from our state will speak.

BROWN:  A Democrat. 

(CROSSTALK)

REED:  He‘s a conservative, though, make no mistake about it.

And the other thing you have to remember about Rudy Giuliani and John McCain and others, they may not agree with the conservatives in the party on every single point, but they‘ve gone out there and campaigned for our candidates.  They came down to Georgia for Sonny Perdue and Saxby Chambliss.

We would not have the Republican majority we have in Georgia today without Rudy Giuliani coming down and helping us campaign.  So we love these guys. 

BROWN:  Well, tell us what you think about Schwarzenegger tonight.  What are you expecting to hear from him?  And what does he bring to the table? 

REED:  I think he brings a lot to the table.  Look, Gray Davis really hamstrung California.  California was in the worst fiscal mess since the Great Depression.  He‘s restored California‘s fiscal house to order. 

He‘s got it on track to eliminate that long-term debt.  I think he‘s going to talk about the president‘s leadership.  He‘s going to talk about fiscal responsibility, the need to keep taxes low.  And I think he‘s a real asset to this president and our party.  We‘re thrilled to have him on the team. 

BROWN:  Ralph Reed, always good to talk to you.  Thanks for your time tonight. 

REED:  Good to be with you, Campbell.  Thanks.

BROWN:  We‘ll go back to you, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you, Campbell Brown and Ralph Reed. 

MSNBC‘s Chris Jansing is on the floor—Chris. 

CHRIS JANSING, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Thanks very much. 

I‘m with Kevin Mannix.  He is the head of the Republican Party in Oregon, one of five states that opponents of gay marriage were able to get an initiative on the ballot. 

Thanks very much for joining us. 

There are moderates in your party who say here we are at a convention where tonight the theme is compassion and we‘re talking about banning gay marriage.  Is that a compassionate stance? 

KEVIN MANNIX, OREGON DELEGATE:  Well the compassionate stance has to do with how we relate to one another individually and in regard to the challenges in our society, No Child Left Behind when we talk about education, access to health care, making sure folks can take care of themselves in their retirement. 

All of these things are part of the compassion of our conservative movement.  When you talk about gay marriage, you need to turn it around and talk about personal relationships.  Yes, in Oregon, we have a ballot measure that allows Oregonians to decide the definition of marriage.  At it is a traditional definition of marriage if they vote for it.  At the same time, our state—and we Republicans are open to honoring people as individuals, to showing compassion for them as individuals, but not necessarily validating relationships that we as a society may want to distance ourselves from. 

JANSING:  But does this issue hurt you with moderate Republicans and with those swing voters, especially in your state? 

MANNIX:  I don‘t think so, and I‘ll tell you why.  It‘s how we handle the issue, rather than the existence of the issue.  The issue was created in Oregon by liberals who tried to use the judicial process to redefine marriage, going around our normal electoral process. 

JANSING:  Democrats say in Oregon they believe it will energize the base there and in fact turn off swing voters from the Republican Party.

MANNIX:  As I say, it depends on how we approach the issue.  We intend to approach the issue quietly and responsibly and talk about it as something that involves defining human relationships, where we want to empower the people of the state through this ballot measure.  And that‘s why we support the ballot measure, to let the people be heard on the subject without acrimony, without negativism, but allow the people to be heard as to how they want marriage to be defined. 

We can then go on and have a conversation about human relationships, how the legislature ought to deal with them.  But don‘t try to back-door this through the courts or through county commissioners, which is what the liberal Democrats tried to do in Oregon. 

JANSING:  Key speaker tonight, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, disagrees with your position on gay marriage.  What do you think he brings to this convention? 

MANNIX:  Well, I think he brings that kind of diversity of discussion within the Republican Party that we need and want.  We want that kind of insight.  We want that dialogue and we want to reach out to people across not only Oregon, but the nation. 

JANSING:  Kevin Mannix, chairman of the GOP Party in Oregon, thanks very much for being with us. 

We‘ll send it back to you, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Chris Jansing. 

We‘re awaiting the big speeches tonight from Arnold Schwarzenegger and the first lady, Laura Bush.  Governor Schwarzenegger is coming up at the top of the hour. 

When we return, we‘re going to talk to presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. 

I just want to take a moment to say where we‘re at tonight.  It‘s been an amazing night.  A lot of us, including myself, are absorbing the powerful speech by Rudy Giuliani last night.  It was one of the great show-stopping speeches I think of modern times.  What a hell of a speech.

And tonight we‘re looking forward to a speech.  And I‘ve read it.  I‘ve got to tell you, if you want to hear an inspiring speech about the American dream and it still being alive, stay tonight and listen to Arnold Schwarzenegger.  What an amazing history this man has had, from relative poverty in Austria, a kid who thought he could never even make it as a weightlifter or a body sculpturist or whatever they call themselves, and then to become a movie actor, and then to marry a Kennedy.

And he pays tribute, of course, to an America that‘s much more optimistic and generous than you often hear it described at any kind of party convention.  He talks about a country that sends Peace Corps volunteers to teach village children and about an America that sends out missionaries and doctors to raise up the poor and the sick.  He‘s also talking about his father-in-law, Sargent Shriver, who started the Peace Corpse. 

It‘s a very optimistic speech given in this case by a Republican at a very conservative Republican Convention.  It‘s a hell of a night coming up, as good as last night‘s.  And once again, it all seems to be happening in the late part of the evening, so I think it‘s worth staying up for at 10:00 at night, Arnold Schwarzenegger, American. 

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Republican National Convention.  You can see all the sights around us here.  We have got mounted police.  We have got everything around here, lots of noise tonight around the Republican Convention area, which is where we are at Herald Square at 34th Street and Broadway. 

NBC News White House correspondent Norah O‘Donnell is traveling with President Bush right now in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania—Norah. 

NORAH O‘DONNELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Chris, that‘s right. 

President Bush here in this battleground state, where he will be beamed into the convention live to introduce his wife, first lady Laura Bush.  President Bush will be in a field of dreams, that‘s right, a baseball field, when he introduces his wife.  The president chose to come to South Central Pennsylvania with John McCain by his side to watch a softball game and then to use this field of dreams, this baseball field, in order to introduce his wife. 

It‘s sort of a strategic way, if you will, that this campaign is allowing this president to speak on several nights, or be seen on several nights, because they‘re really trying to build momentum at the convention.  I‘ve heard the president‘s advisers say they think that, in the Democratic nomination, they failed to build this sort of momentum, they failed to have the sort of sizzle.

So they‘re orchestrating this in a different sort of way, having the president beamed in tonight.  Tomorrow night, he will be beamed in again at 8:00 p.m., while he‘s in New York and, of course, on Thursday night, will speak live to the convention. 

What is noteworthy, as the president has been traveling to several

battleground states today—we were in Iowa earlier, now in Pennsylvania -

·         is that he has been dogged by some degree by his comment that he made to Matt Lauer on “The Today Show” in that exclusive interview with NBC.  When the president was asked if he thinks we can win the war on terror, the president said, I‘m not sure we can win the war on terror. 

Well, repeatedly, at the American Legion earlier today in Tennessee, then in Iowa and then probably again tonight here in Pennsylvania, the president repeatedly making the case we are winning the war on terror, we will win the war.  It‘s just kind of remarkable, Chris, if you think about it.  The president is trying to focus on his second-term agenda, focus on the future, that he‘s been dogged by this one comment that the Democrats have pounced on him about.  They say it shows the president has a defeatist attitude and may have some doubts about whether he can really win the war. 

MATTHEWS:  But isn‘t it about language, the president using the term war when he‘s really talking about stopping nations or peoples from using terror as a tactic?  It‘s not exactly a war against people.  It‘s a war against a tactic, terrorism.  And maybe the metaphor was just stretched too far and he finally said, well, it‘s not exactly the kind of thing you can win.  In other words, it‘s not exactly a war.  It‘s something more complicated. 

O‘DONNELL:  Clearly.  And that is the point the president made today in an interview with Rush Limbaugh on his radio program, making the case this is not a war in the conventional sense, where there will be a treaty signed at the end.  It‘s a very different kind of war.  And that‘s why he made those comments. 

The problem for the president, he got tripped up by his own words, because, in the past, he has said we will win the war and then he said something very different in another interview.  And in a presidential contest, people watch very closely what you say.  And so we required further explanation.  And the Bush campaign wanted to make very clear today that the president does believe that this is a war that can be won.

And that‘s why we saw him all day long repeating over and over again he thinks this is a war on terror which can be won.  Again, I just have to point out, it‘s just noteworthy that this became such a focal point as the president is trying to build up all this momentum. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

O‘DONNELL:  One other note, Chris.  You know, we‘re here in Pennsylvania tonight.  He goes out to—practices his—does his rehearsal of his speech tomorrow morning back at the White House, goes out to Ohio and then back to New York City. 

His first stop after the convention is back here in Pennsylvania, just a sign how important this state is, a state that he lost to Al Gore in the 2000 race. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thanks a lot, Norah O‘Donnell with NBC.  She‘s traveling with the president. 

We‘re joined right now by presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, who is an NBC News analyst. 

I want to start talking about what I think is going to be the big event tonight.  I don‘t think it‘s going to be the first lady, although everybody will treat her well.  I think it‘s going to be this amazing moment.  During the campaign for governor, I watched an amazing moment. 

Arnold Schwarzenegger had just given a speech at Modesto.  And a kid, about

12 years old, ran up to the bus and just touched the bus, crashing through

·         passing all these state troopers and ran away, an almost sacramental thing you go through, with a young kid so impressed by a world-class, global celebrity like Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, NBC ANALYST:  They‘re just no doubt about it.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is the biggest star here at the Republican Convention.  And I think his speech is going to be a lot like Ronald Reagan‘s speech in 1964 in San Francisco.  It‘s one of these ones that he‘s honed and prepared.  And what‘s also unusual is, he‘s going to—not only is it Reaganesque in spirit, but he‘s going to be paying homage to Richard Nixon, somebody you never hear about at Republican Conventions anymore, but of course was also a governor of the state of California, or ran for governor.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  He lost by a quarter million, my friend.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

BRINKLEY:  But, no, no.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I know what you mean, because when he was at—he was watching these two people sort of shown opposite each other on television in Austria.  And before he even learned English—he was still speaking and thinking in German—he saw these two guys going at each other.  And he said, that guy Humphrey sounds like one of our socialists. 

BRINKLEY:  Well, that‘s right.  And Nixon became one of his first political heroes. 

But what is interesting is, you said this is the American dream speech.  And this is New York, the city where the American dream from a Europe immigration experience was always real, Ellis Island and all here.  And he‘s telling that old-fashioned story of two bucks in my pocket, I land in America and all these wonderful things happen to me. 

But I think, unlike Giuliani‘s speech last night, which was a speech of the moment, this is going to be a speech that is going to continue pushing Arnold Schwarzenegger at the forefront of American political life. 

MATTHEWS:  Why is it all falling together so well for this convention? 

BRINKLEY:  Well, it‘s well planned.  Nobody has ever accused the Republican Party in modern times of not planning these things well.

But I think the symbolism of New York, of being here, it always gives you that added tearful moment when you have to see somebody whose family was a victim of 9/11 or see a fireman or a police officer.  So there‘s an emotion here at this convention, which wouldn‘t be if it was in Tampa or San Diego or Houston.  I think New York‘s very special.

And so far—and I will stress so far—things have gone pretty well.  And even though motorcycles and police...

MATTHEWS:  Well, yes, what about the 25 horses right behind you, the mounted police?  There they are.

BRINKLEY:  Well, I know—the police, they‘ve done an impressive job so far. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

BRINKLEY:  And I think the protesters have done a good job of keeping

it pretty clean.  There have been some arrests, but so far this is

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  We had a little trouble tonight. 

BRINKLEY:  I know you did, Chris. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  A guy lunged at me.  He almost got me. 

But let me ask you about Arnold again.  Arnold Schwarzenegger proves -

·         and this is an objective fact—that with a little luck, somebody can come to this country with a long, almost ridiculously long name, with an accent which is thunderous, with not a great education, although a European education can be pretty damn good, and he comes here and he becomes—first of all, he gets into housing development, real estate.  Then he gets into bodybuilding simultaneously, which is generally an American sport, believe it or not.

And then he makes it into movie acting.  And as he once said to me—

I can‘t use the word on television, but he basically—he said he wants to

·         he talked like a Nazi.  I guess I can use the word, a little more words attached to it, because he had that accent that you see in the movies of the Nazi officer.  It‘s a horrible accent, by many people‘s experience, obviously, historically.

And he made it against all those odds.  Then he marries a Kennedy, Maria Shriver.  Then he gets elected governor of California.  And, my God, he‘s now knocking on the door of the White House.  People are talking about changing the Constitution so that this foreign-born guy can be president.  How far can he go? 

(CROSSTALK)

BRINKLEY:  I think he‘s at his limit.  I‘m not sure we‘re going to change the Constitution just to accommodate Arnold Schwarzenegger.  And I‘m not sure the Bush family wants to either, when you have Jeb Bush in Florida. 

MATTHEWS:  Oh, come now. 

BRINKLEY:  No, I‘m serious.  I don‘t think

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You think they‘re pushing the next kid? 

BRINKLEY:  I don‘t think—yes, of course, absolutely. 

MATTHEWS:  You do?

BRINKLEY:  Absolutely.  There‘s not a doubt about it.  Jeb Bush is somebody who‘s got political ambitions. 

Bill Frist, people that are in power in the Republican Party aren‘t going to work with the Democrats to change the Constitution to make it easy for Arnold.  He‘s got will.  He‘s got guts and stamina.  There‘s a story when he did a movie with Jesse Ventura, Arnold Schwarzenegger, where they would each get up early, 15 minutes earlier, to start pumping iron before the movie set.  They were getting up at 5:00 a.m., then 4:45 a.m., then 4:30 a.m., just to outdo each other. 

Arnold Schwarzenegger is an extraordinary competitor, which he‘s proven in sports and he‘s proven it in American politics.  And I think this will be the kind of pop culture speech that‘s remembered.  And it may be—it‘s clearly the highlight of Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s public career so far. 

MATTHEWS:  And the gallery is going to be interesting tonight.  It‘s forming up right now.  There‘s senator—there‘s former President George Bush, George Herbert Walker Bush, 41.  And there‘s Doro Bush right behind him to his left.  That‘s the president‘s sister.  Maria Shriver, our former colleague here with NBC News, there she Saudi.

What an amazing mixed bag of American royalty that is, the Kennedys and the Bushes together.  Interesting sociometric overlay there, isn‘t it? 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I guess when your husband is the governor—they‘re chatting.  Look at that little scene, what a scene, Maria Shriver and George Bush Sr. chatting away.  You can‘t miss that scene, old New Englanders together, Walker Point and Hyannis Port.

BRINKLEY:  Well, of course, and when they got married, it made all the news.  They have four kids together, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ms.  Shriver.  And she‘s had her own great career in journalism here at NBC and is becoming a true first lady of the state of California.  She‘s very popular.  Everybody likes her.  And she always does so extremely well on talk shows and comedy shows. 

MATTHEWS:  Don‘t you wish we had one of those sports microphones where you could reach in there right now and pluck out that little conversation? 

BRINKLEY:  Oh, it‘s the happiest I‘ve seen President—former President Bush look this whole convention.  He was sort of dozing off some yesterday.  He sprung up when John McCain made his comment about Michael Moore.  But he seems very happy and animated to have her there. 

MATTHEWS:  So what do you think?  You would like to look like that when you‘re 80 years old or what?  What do you think?  I mean, amazing.  This guy is still jumping out of airplanes.  There‘s Maria Shriver.  I do know Doro Bush, married to my friend Bobby Koch. 

The kids, I guess they‘re Arnold and Maria‘s kids there.  I‘ve met them.

BRINKLEY:  I think what‘s interesting about Schwarzenegger night is paying tribute to all of these other Republican presidents, as I said, Reagan and Nixon and Bush.  These truly are his action heroes. 

If Schwarzenegger was that little boy that touched the window, you know, his heroes are people like President Bush. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, well, we‘re getting ready for Arnold Schwarzenegger, a guy—anybody who goes to bed now is crazy after staying up this long. 

This is going to be one of the—it‘s coming up in two minutes, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of California—California.  I mean, he says things like girly man and stuff and it seems to go right past people.  They go, this guy has got a special pass because of his background, how far he‘s come, also because I think people really do believe at the public level he‘s a man of goodwill and American-style optimism. 

Look, the chat has begun here.  The noise-making has begun. 

(CROSSTALK)

BRINKLEY:  He‘s a bit of a centrist.  And a lot of America is in the center.  And he is liberal on social issues, on things dealing with the environment in California. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  You‘ve gotten it.  You‘ve nailed it. 

The interesting thing about these two nights is, once again, we‘re seeing a centrist, a moderate like Rudy Giuliani, endorse a conservative.  It seems to me the purpose of this convention is to win the validation of a conservative president with the benediction, if you will, the approval, the public approval of moderates. 

It‘s a party that almost is sharing wedding bonds here tonight, that‘s becoming a party again of moderate middle and conservative right and far right, putting itself—and I guess in the case of Ron Silver, a liberal and former Democrat or almost former Democrat Zell Miller, it‘s trying to forge a coalition as we watch.  And I guess that‘s what conventions are for. 

BRINKLEY:  That‘s right. 

And, also, Chris, isn‘t going to be co-opted.  He‘s not going to be a leading Bush surrogate after this.  He‘s said he‘s going to stay in the state of California and try to solve the budget crisis out there and work for Californians.  So he‘s not going to be traveling all over the country for Bush.  This is his big moment as a national Republican.

After that, he‘s back to California.  And right now, it‘s a blue state, a Kerry state.  And Schwarzenegger may have a limited impact after tonight.

MATTHEWS:  Well, it‘s a state that has always been very tough on the issue of abortion rights, I‘ve got to tell you.

There‘s Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is pro-choice.  He just has been introduced. 

END   

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