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updated 9/1/2004 3:47:30 PM ET 2004-09-01T19:47:30

Guest: Kati Marton

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

Let‘s go back to the podium.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  ... and proud American, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA:  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  What a greeting.  What a greeting.  Wow.  This is like winning an Oscar—as if I would know.

(LAUGHTER)

Speaking of acting, one of my movies was called “True Lies.”  And that‘s what the Democrats should have called their convention.

(APPLAUSE)

You know, on the way up here to the podium, a gentleman came up to me and said, “Governor, you are as good a politician as you were an actor.”  What a cheap shot.

(LAUGHTER)

Cannot believe it.

Anyway, my fellow Americans, this is an amazing moment for me. To think that a once-scrawny boy from Austria could grow up to become governor of the state of California and then stand here...

(APPLAUSE)

... then stand here in Madison Square Garden and speak on behalf of the president of the United States—that is an immigrant‘s dream. 

(APPLAUSE)

It is the American dream.

You know, I was born in Europe and I‘ve traveled all over the world.  And I can tell you that there is no place, no country, more compassionate, more generous, more accepting and more welcoming than the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

As long as I live, I will never forget that day 21 years ago when I raised my right hand and took the oath of citizenship.  Do you know how proud I was? I was so proud that I walked around with an American flag around my shoulders all day long.

(APPLAUSE)

Tonight, I want to talk to you about why I‘m even more proud to be an American—why I‘m proud to be a Republican—and why I believe this country is in good hands.

(APPLAUSE)

When I was a boy, the Soviets occupied part of Austria.  

I saw their tanks in the streets.  I saw Communism with my own eyes. 

I remember the fear we had when we had to cross into the Soviet sector. 

Growing up, we were told, “Don‘t look the soldiers in the eye. Just look straight ahead.”  It was a common belief that Soviet soldiers could take a man out of his own car and ship him back to the Soviet Union as slave labor.

Now, my family didn‘t have a car.  But one day we were in my uncle‘s car.  It was near dark as we came to the Soviet checkpoint.  I was a little boy.  I was not an action hero back then. 

(LAUGHTER)

But I remember.  I remember how scared I was that the soldiers would pull my father or my uncle out of the car and I would never see them again.  My family and so many others lived in fear of the Soviet boot.  Today, the world no longer fears the Soviet Union, and it is because of the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

As a kid I saw the socialist country that Austria became after the Soviets left.  Now, don‘t misunderstand me, I love Austria, and I love the Austrian people.

But I always knew America was the place for me.  In school, when the teacher would talk about America, I would daydream about coming here.  I would daydream about living here.  I would sit there and watch for hours American movies transfixed by my heroes like John Wayne. 

(APPLAUSE)

Everything about America seemed so big to me, so open, so possible.

I finally arrived here in 1968.  What a special day it was.  I remember I arrived here with empty pockets but full of dreams, full of determination, full of desire. 

The presidential campaign was in full swing.  I remember watching the Nixon-Humphrey presidential race on TV.  A friend of mine who spoke German and English translated for me.  I heard Humphrey saying things that sounded like socialism, which I had just left.  

But then I heard Nixon speak.  Then I heard Nixon speak.  He was talking about free enterprise, getting the government off your back, lowering the taxes and strengthening the military. 

(APPLAUSE)

Listening to Nixon speak sounded more like a breath of fresh air.

I said to my friend, I said, “What party is he?”

My friend said, “He‘s a Republican.”

I said, “Then I am a Republican.” 

(APPLAUSE)

And I have been a Republican ever since.  And trust me—and trust me

·         in my wife‘s family, that‘s no small achievement. 

(APPLAUSE)

But I am proud to be with the party of Abraham Lincoln, the party of Teddy Roosevelt, the party of Ronald Reagan, and the party of George W.  Bush.

(APPLAUSE)

To my fellow immigrants listening tonight, I want you to know how welcome you are in this party.  We Republicans admire your ambition. We encourage your dreams.  We believe in your future.  

(APPLAUSE)

And one thing I learned about America is that if you work hard and if you play by the rules, this country is truly open to you.  You can achieve anything.

(APPLAUSE)

Everything I have, my career, my success, my family, I owe to America.

(APPLAUSE)

In this country, it doesn‘t make any difference where you were born.  It doesn‘t make any difference who your parents were.  It doesn‘t make any difference if you‘re like me and 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 chances I did, 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.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, many of you out there tonight are Republican like me in your hearts and in your beliefs.  Maybe you‘re from Guatemala.  Maybe you‘re from the Philippines.  Maybe you‘re from Europe or the Ivory Coast.  Maybe you live in Ohio, Pennsylvania or New Mexico. 

(APPLAUSE)

And maybe—just maybe—you don‘t agree with this party on every single issue.  I say to you tonight that I believe that‘s not only OK, but that‘s what‘s great about this country. 

(APPLAUSE)

Here we can respectfully disagree and still be patriotic, still be American and still be good Republicans.

(APPLAUSE)

My fellow immigrants, my fellow Americans, how do you know if you are a Republican?  Well, I tell you how.  If you believe that government should be accountable to the people, not the people to the government, then you are a Republican. 

(APPLAUSE)

If you believe a person should be treated as an individual, not as a member of an interest group, then you are a Republican. 

(APPLAUSE)

If you believe your family knows how to spend your money better than the government does, then you are a Republican. 

(APPLAUSE)

If you believe our educational system should be held accountable for the progress of our children, then you are a Republican. 

(APPLAUSE)

If you believe this country, not the United Nations, is the best hope for democracy, then you are a Republican.  

(APPLAUSE)

And, ladies and gentlemen, if you believe that we must be fierce and relentless and terminate terrorism, then you are a Republican.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, there‘s another way you can tell you‘re a Republican.  You have faith in free enterprise, faith in the resourcefulness of the American people and faith in the U.S. economy.  And to those critics who are so pessimistic about our economy, I say:  Don‘t be economic girlie-men.

(APPLAUSE)

The U.S. economy remains the envy of the world. We have the highest economic growth of any of the world‘s major industrialized nations.  Don‘t you remember the pessimism of 20 years ago, when the critics said Japan and Germany are overtaking the U.S.? Ridiculous.

Now, they say that India and China are overtaking us.  Don‘t you believe it.  We may hit a few bumps, but America always moves ahead. That‘s what Americans do.

(APPLAUSE)

We move prosperity ahead. 

(APPLAUSE)

We move prosperity ahead.  We move freedom ahead.  And we move people ahead. 

And under President Bush and Vice President Cheney, America‘s economy is moving ahead in spite of a recession they inherited and in spite of the attack on our homeland.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, the other party says that we have two Americas.  Don‘t you believe that either.  I have visited our troops in Iraq, Kuwait, Bosnia, Germany, and all over the world.  I‘ve visited our troops in California, where they train before they go overseas.  I have visited our military hospitals.  And I tell you this, that our men and women in uniform do not believe there are two Americas.  They believe we are one America, and they are fighting for it. 

(APPLAUSE)

We are one America, and President Bush is defending it with all his heart and soul.

(APPLAUSE)

That‘s what I admire most about the president. He‘s a man of perseverance.  He‘s a man of inner strength.  He is a leader who doesn‘t flinch, who doesn‘t waiver, and does not back down.

(APPLAUSE)

My fellow Americans, make no mistake about it:  Terrorism is more insidious than Communism, because it yearns to destroy not just the individual, but the entire international order.

The president did not go into Iraq because the polls told him it was popular.  As a matter of fact, the polls said just the opposite. But leadership isn‘t about polls. 

(APPLAUSE)

It‘s about making decisions you think are right and then standing behind those decisions.  

(APPLAUSE)

That‘s why America is safer with George W. Bush as president.

(APPLAUSE)

He knows you don‘t reason with terrorists.  You defeat them.  He knows you can‘t reason with people blinded by hate.  You see, they hate the power of the individual.  They hate the progress of women. They hate the religious freedom of others.  And they hate the liberating breeze of democracy. 

But, ladies and gentlemen, their hate is no match for America‘s decency.

(APPLAUSE)

We are the America that sends out the Peace Corps volunteers to teach our village children.  We are the America that sends out the missionaries and doctors to raise up the poor and the sick.  

We are the America that gives more than any other country to fight AIDS in Africa and the developing world. 

(APPLAUSE)

And we are the America that fights not for imperialism, but for human rights and democracy.

(APPLAUSE)

You know, when the Germans brought down the Berlin Wall, America‘s determination helped wield the sledgehammers.  And when that lone, young Chinese man stood in front of those tanks in Tiananmen Square, America stood with him.  And when Nelson Mandela smiled in election victory after all those years in prison, America celebrated, too.

We are still the lamp lighting the world, especially those who struggle.  No matter in what labor camp they slave, no matter in what injustice they‘re trapped, they hear our call.  They see our light. And they feel the pull of our freedom.  

(APPLAUSE)

They come here, as I did, because they believe—they believe in us.  They come because their hearts say to them, as mine did, “If only I can get to America.”  You know, someone once wrote, “There are those who say that freedom is nothing but a dream.” They are right.  It‘s the American dream.

(APPLAUSE)

No matter the nationality, no matter the religion, no matter the ethnic background, America brings out the best in people. 

(APPLAUSE)

And as governor—as governor of the great state of California, I see the best in Americans every day.

(APPLAUSE)

I see the best in Americans every day, our police, our firefighters, our nurses, doctors and teachers, our parents.

And what about the extraordinary men and women who have volunteered to fight for the United States of America?

(APPLAUSE)

I have such great respect for them and their heroic families.

Let me tell you about the sacrifice and the commitment that I have seen first-hand.  In one of the military hospitals I visited, I met a young guy who was in bad shape.  He‘d lost a leg, he had a hole through his stomach, and his shoulder had been shot through.  And the list goes on and on and on.

I could tell that there was no way he could ever return to combat. 

But when I asked him, “When do you think you‘ll get out of the hospital?” 

He said, “Sir, in three weeks.” 

And do you know what he said to me then?  He said he was going to get a new leg, and then he was going to get some therapy, and then he was going to go back to Iraq and fight alongside his buddies. 

(APPLAUSE)

And you know what he said to me then?  You know what he said to me then?

He said, “Arnold, I‘ll be back.”

(APPLAUSE)

Well, ladies and gentlemen, America is back—back from the attack on our homeland, back from the attack on our economy, and back from the attack on our way of life.  We‘re back because of the perseverance, character and leadership of the 43rd president of the United States, George W. Bush.

(APPLAUSE)

My fellow Americans, I want you to know that I believe with all my heart that America remains the great idea that inspires the world. It‘s a privilege to be born here.  It‘s an honor to become a citizen here.  It‘s a gift to raise your family here, to vote here, and to live here.

Our president, George W. Bush, has worked hard to protect and preserve the American dream for all of us.  And that‘s why I say, send him back to Washington for four more years.

SCHWARZENEGGER WITH AUDIENCE:  Four more years.  Four more years. Four more years.  Four more years.  Four more years.  Four more years.

Thank you, America.  Thank you, and God bless you all.

Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS:  Well, I told you.  I told you he was going to be unbelievable. 

I‘m sorry, when he talked about being under Soviet rule in Austria and his father and his uncle driving him through a Soviet sector and worried about his father being pulled out of the car and taken to a slave labor camp, it got to me.  I didn‘t realize he went back that far.  I forgot when the occupation ended. 

Jon Meacham, if that wasn‘t an historic speech, I don‘t know what was. 

You can‘t tell those speeches in other countries. 

JON MEACHAM, “NEWSWEEK”:  No, you can‘t. 

MATTHEWS:  You can‘t give them.

MEACHAM:  You can‘t, no.  It was a wonderful speech.  And it was actually the American story.  It was a place where—you know, in Ronald Reagan‘s farewell, they talked about how all...

MATTHEWS:  OK, we‘ve got the two girls.  Here are the other showstoppers, Jenna.  She‘s the blonde.  And Barbara has the darker hair.  They‘re about to introduce their father, who is attending a softball game in Pennsylvania. 

JENNA BUSH, PRESIDENT BUSH‘S DAUGHTER:  It‘s great to be here.  We love Arnold.  Isn‘t he awesome?

(APPLAUSE)

Thanks to him, if one of us ever decides to marry a Democrat, nobody can complain, except maybe our grandmother, Barbara.  And if she doesn‘t like it, we would definitely hear about it. 

(LAUGHTER)

We already know she doesn‘t like some of our clothes, our music, or most of the TV shows we watch.

Gammie (ph), we love you dearly, but you‘re just not very hip.

(LAUGHTER)

She thinks “Sex and the City” is something married people do, but never talk about.

(LAUGHTER)

We spent the last four years trying to stay out of the spotlight.

Sometimes, we did a little better job than others.

(LAUGHTER)

We kept trying to explain to my dad that when we are young and irresponsible, well, we‘re young and irresponsible.

(LAUGHTER)

BARBARA BUSH, PRESIDENT BUSH‘S DAUGHTER:  Jenna and I are really not very political, but we love our dad too much to stand back and watch from the sidelines. 

(APPLAUSE)

We realized that this would be his last campaign, and we wanted to be a part of it.

Besides, since we‘ve graduated from college, we‘re looking around for something to do for the next few years.

(LAUGHTER)

Kind of like dad.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

J. BUSH:  Our parents have always encouraged us to be independent and dream big.  We‘ve spent a lot of time at the White House, so when we showed up the first day, we thought we had it all figured out.  But apparently my dad already has a chief of staff, named Andy.

(LAUGHTER)

B. BUSH:  When your dad‘s a Republican and you go to Yale, you learn to stand up for yourself. 

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

I knew I wasn‘t quite ready to be president, but number two sounded pretty good.  

Who is this man they call Dick Cheney?

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

J. BUSH:  I think I know a lot about campaigns.  After all, my grandfather and my dad have both run for president, so I put myself in charge of strategy.  Then I got an angry call from some guy named Karl.

(LAUGHTER)

B. BUSH:  We knew we had something to offer.  I mean, we‘ve traveled the world; we‘ve studied abroad.  But when we started coming home with foreign policy advise, dad made us call Condi.

(LAUGHTER)

J. BUSH:  Not to be deterred, we thought surely there‘s a place for strong willed, opinionated women in communications.  And next thing we know, Karen‘s back.

(APPLAUSE)

B. BUSH:  So we decided the best thing we could do here tonight would be to introduce somebody we know and love.

J. BUSH:  You know all those times when you‘re growing up and your parents embarrass you?  Well, this is payback time on live TV.

(LAUGHTER)

B. BUSH:  Take this.  I know it‘s hard to believe, but our parents‘ favorite term of endearment for each other is actually “Bushy.” 

(LAUGHTER)

And we had a hamster, too.  Let‘s just say ours didn‘t make it.

(APPLAUSE)

J. BUSH:  But, contrary to what you might read in the papers, our parents are actually kind of cool.  They do know the difference between mono and Bono.  When we tell them we‘re going to see Outkast, they know it‘s a band and not a bunch of misfits.  And if we really beg them, they‘ll even shake it like a Polaroid picture.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

B. BUSH:  So, OK, maybe they have learned a little pop culture from us, but we‘ve learned a lot more from them about what matters in life, about unconditional love, about focus and discipline. 

They taught us the importance of a good sense of humor, of being open-minded and treating everyone with respect.

And we learned the true value of honesty and integrity.

(APPLAUSE)

J. BUSH:  When you grow up as the daughters of George and Laura Bush, you develop a special appreciation for how blessed we are to live in this great country.

(APPLAUSE)

We are so proud to be here tonight to introduce someone who read us bedtime stories, picked up car pool, made us our favorite peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and cheered for us when we scored a goal, even when it was for the wrong team.

(LAUGHTER)

B. BUSH:  Someone who told us we actually looked cute in braces, always welcomed our friends and was there waiting when we came home at curfew.

J. BUSH:  Ladies and gentlemen, one of the two most loving, thoughtful people we know.

B. BUSH:  Your president and our dad, George W. Bush.

(APPLAUSE)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Thank you, Barbara and Jenna.  You‘ve made me so very proud.  I have really enjoyed being on the campaign trail with both of you.  It‘s kind of like the camping trip I promised to take you on. 

Tonight, I have the best and the easiest job of this convention:

introducing our first lady.  My life has been better every day since that wonderful day Laura Welch said yes to me.  At every stage of our journey, Laura has shown the grace and character I fell in love with. She‘s a wonderful mother who fills our home with love and kindness. 

She‘s a teacher who wants every American child to read and discover a broader world of ideas.  She‘s a friend of authors, who has brought talented Americans to the attention of the world.  She‘s been a voice of calm and comfort in difficult times.  I‘m a lucky man to have Laura at my side.  And America would be fortunate to have her in the White House for four more years.  

(APPLAUSE)

It is my honor to introduce my wife, my partner, and the first lady of the United States, Laura Bush.

(APPLAUSE)

LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY:  Thanks, everybody.  Thank you all so much. 

Thanks. Thank you all.  Thanks so much.  Thanks a lot.  Thank you all. 

Thank you so much. 

And thank you, George. 

I like being introduced by the president of the United States. 

And Barbara and Jenna, you were great.  We‘re so proud of you both. 

I also want to recognize the best father and mother-in-law anyone could ever ask for:  President Bush and Barbara Bush. 

(APPLAUSE)

And my husband‘s brothers and sister, who have become my brothers and sister, too.  Thank you all.  Thanks so much for being here.

(APPLAUSE)

And watching tonight from her home in Midland, Texas, my mother, Jenna Welch—hi, mom.

(APPLAUSE)

And Vice President Cheney and Lynne and all the Cheney family, thank you all so much.  Thanks for everything you do.

(APPLAUSE)

Where are they?  Oh, there they are.

And I want to thank everybody here tonight.  Thank you all very much for the wonderful privilege you‘ve given my husband and me of serving our great country.

Our lives have been enriched by meeting so many of our fellow Americans.  We‘ve visited your communities, we have witnessed your decency, kindness and character.  I am enjoying this campaign.  It‘s reminded me of our very first one, 25 years ago.  George and I were newlyweds, and he was running for Congress.  Our transportation wasn‘t quite as fancy back then, an Oldsmobile Cutlass, and George was behind the wheel.  

Even then, he was always on time and he knew where he wanted to go.

(APPLAUSE)

You learn a lot about your husband when you spend that much time in a car with him.  By the end of the campaign, he had even convinced me to vote for him. 

(LAUGHTER)

This time I don‘t need any convincing.

(APPLAUSE)

I am so proud of the way George has led our country with strength and conviction.  Tonight, I want to try to answer the question that I believe many people would ask me if we sat down for a cup of coffee or ran into each other at the store:  You know him better than anyone, you‘ve seen things no one else has seen, why do you think we should re-elect your husband as President?

As you might imagine, I have a lot to say about that.

(APPLAUSE)

I could talk about my passion, education.  At every school we visit, the students are so eager.  Last fall, the president and I walked into an elementary school in Hawaii, and a little 2nd-grader...

(APPLAUSE)

... a little 2nd grader came out to welcome us and bellowed, “George Washington.”

(LAUGHTER)

Close, just the wrong George W.

(LAUGHTER)

When my husband took office, too many were leaving too many children behind.  So he worked with Congress to pass sweeping education reform.  The No Child Left Behind Act provides historic levels of funding with an unprecedented commitment to higher standards, strong accountability and proven methods of instruction.

We are determined to provide a quality education for every child in America.

I could talk about the small-business owners and entrepreneurs who are now creating most of the new jobs in our country, women like Carmella Chaifos, the only woman to own a tow truck company in all of Iowa.

(APPLAUSE)

The president‘s tax relief helped Carmella to buy the business and modernize her fleet and expand her operations.

Carmella is living proof of what she told me.  She said:  “If you‘re determined and you want to work hard, you can do anything you want to.  That‘s the beautiful thing about America.”

(APPLAUSE)

I could talk about health care.  For years, leaders in both parties said we should provide prescription drug coverage in Medicare. George was able to bring Republicans and Democrats together to get it done.

(APPLAUSE)

I could talk about the fact that my husband is the first president to provide federal funding for stem cell research.  And he did it in a principled way, allowing science to explore its potential while respecting the dignity of human life.

(APPLAUSE)

I could talk about the recent record increase in home ownership. Home ownership in America, especially minority home ownership, is at an all-time high.

(APPLAUSE)

All of these issues are important.  But we are living in the most historic struggle my generation has ever known.  The stakes are so high.  So I want to talk about the issue that I believe is most important for my own daughters, for all our families, and for our future:  George‘s work to protect our country and defeat terror so that all children can grow up in a more peaceful world.

(APPLAUSE)

As we gather in this hall and around our television sets tonight, Joshua Crane stands watch aboard the USS John C. Stennis.  His brothers, Matthew and Nicholas, stand watch near Fallujah.

And at home in Colorado, their mother Cindy...

(APPLAUSE)

... their mother Cindy stands watch too, with worry and prayer. She told me all three of her sons enlisted after September 11th, because they recognized the threat to our country. 

(APPLAUSE)

Our nation is grateful to all the men and women of our arms forces who are standing guard on the front lines of freedom.

(APPLAUSE)

A dad whose wife is deployed in Iraq recently wrote about what he is learning as he struggles to rear his three children alone:  “I have ruined at least three loads of laundry,” he said.  “Once you turn everything pink, it stays pink.”

(LAUGHTER)

He goes on:  “I have learned what our soldiers‘ wives have known for generations:  hope and grief and perseverance.”

This time of war has been a time of great hardship for our military families.  The president and I want all of our men and women in uniform and their wives and husbands, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters to know that we appreciate their sacrifice. 

(APPLAUSE)

And we know it will mean a more peaceful future for our children and grandchildren.

No American president ever wants to go to war.  Abraham Lincoln didn‘t want to go to war, but he knew saving the union required it. Franklin Roosevelt didn‘t want to go to war, but he knew defeating tyranny demanded it.  And my husband didn‘t want to go to war, but he knew the safety and security of America and the world depended on it.

(APPLAUSE)

I remember some very quiet nights at the dinner table. George was weighing grim scenarios and ominous intelligence about potentially even more devastating attacks.  I listened many nights as George talked with foreign leaders on the phone, or in our living room, or at our ranch in Crawford. 

I remember an intense weekend at Camp David.  George and Prime Minister Tony Blair were discussing the threat from Saddam Hussein. And I remember sitting in the window of the White House, watching as my husband walked on the lawn below.  I knew he was wrestling with these agonizing decisions that would have such profound consequence for so many lives and for the future of our world.

And I was there when my husband had to decide.  Once again, as in our parents‘ generation, America had to make the tough choices, the hard decisions, and lead the world toward greater security and freedom.

(APPLAUSE)

I wasn‘t born when my father went to World War II.  Like so many of our greatest generation, he is now gone, lost to Alzheimer‘s nine years ago.  He served in the United States Army in Europe for almost three years and helped liberate Nordhausen, one of the concentration camps.  You can imagine his horror at what he found there.  The methods of the terrorists we face today are different, but my father would know this struggle.

Our parents‘ generation confronted tyranny and liberated millions.  As we do the hard work of confronting today‘s threat, we can also be proud that 50 million more men, women and children live in freedom thanks to the United States of America and our allies.

(APPLAUSE)

After years of being treated as virtual prisoners in their own homes by the Taliban, the women of Afghanistan are going back to work. After being denied an education, even the chance to learn to read, the little girls in Afghanistan are now in school. 

(APPLAUSE)

Almost every eligible voter—over 10 million Afghan citizens—have registered to vote in this fall‘s presidential election, more than 40 percent of them women. 

(APPLAUSE)

And wasn‘t it wonderful to watch the Olympics and see that beautiful Afghan sprinter race in long pants and a T-shirt, exercising her new freedom while respecting the traditions of her country?

(APPLAUSE)

I recently met a young Iraqi woman.  She‘s one of the new Iraqi Fulbright scholars studying in the United States.  She survived horrific horrors, including the gassing of her village by Saddam Hussein.  

She told me that when people look at Iraq, what they don‘t see is that Iraq is a country of 25 million people, each with their own hope. 

As we watch the people of Iraq and Afghanistan take the first steps to build free countries, I am reminded of what Vaclav Havel once told me.  Vaclav Havel—playwright, intellectual, freedom fighter, political prisoner, then president of the Czech Republic—said to me, “Laura, you know, democracy is hard; it requires the participation of everybody.”

I think of how long it took us in our country, even though we were given such a perfect document by our founders.  It took almost 100 years after the founders declared that all men are created equal to abolish slavery.  And not until 84 years ago this month did American women get the right to vote. 

(APPLAUSE)

Our nation has not always lived up to its ideals, yet those ideals have never ceased to guide us.  

They expose our flaws, and they lead us to mend them. We are the beneficiaries of the work of the generations before us, and it is each generation‘s responsibility to continue that work.

(APPLAUSE)

These last three years since September 11th have been difficult years in our country‘s history, years that have demanded the hope, grief and perseverance that our soldier‘s husband wrote about.  We‘ve learned some lessons we didn‘t want to know, that our country is more vulnerable than we thought, that some people hate us because we stand for liberty, religious freedom and tolerance.  But we have been heartened to discover that we are also braver than we thought, stronger and more generous.

(APPLAUSE)

These have been years of change for our family as well. Our girls went off to college and graduated, and now they‘re back home.  We‘re so happy they‘re campaigning with us this fall and we‘re so proud that they‘ll be pursuing their own careers soon. 

My mother moved out of my childhood home and into a retirement community.  We lost our beloved dog, Spotty, and had our hearts warmed by the antics of Barney.

People ask me all the time whether George has changed.  He‘s a little grayer.  And of course, he‘s learned and grown, as we all have. But he‘s still the same person I met at a backyard barbecue in Midland, Texas, and married three months later. 

(APPLAUSE)

And you‘ve come to know many of the same things that I know about him.  He‘ll always tell you what he really thinks.  You can count on him, especially in a crisis.  

His friends don‘t change and neither do his values. 

(APPLAUSE)

He has boundless energy and enthusiasm for his job and for life itself.  He treats every person he meets with dignity and respect, the same dignity and respect he has for the office he holds. 

(APPLAUSE)

And he‘s a loving man with a big heart.  I‘ve seen tears as he‘s hugged families who‘ve lost loved ones.  I‘ve seen him return the salute of soldiers wounded in battle.  And then, being George, he invites them to come visit us at the White House.  And they‘d come, bringing an infectious spirit of uniquely American confidence that we‘re doing the right thing and that our future will be better because of our actions today.

(APPLAUSE)

Many of my generation remember growing up at the height of the Cold War, hiding under desks during civil defense drills in case the Communists attacked us.

And now, when parents ask me, What should we tell our children, I think about those desks.  We need to reassure our children that our police, our firemen, our military and our intelligence workers are doing everything possible to keep them safe. 

(APPLAUSE)

We need to remind them that most people in the world are good. And we need to explain that because of strong American leadership in the past we don‘t hide under our desks anymore. 

(APPLAUSE)

And because of President Bush‘s leadership and the bravery of our men and women in uniform, I believe our children will grow up in a world where today‘s terror threats have also become a thing of the past.

(APPLAUSE)

These are also years of hope for our country and our people.  We have great confidence in our ability to overcome challenges.  We have gained a new appreciation of the many blessings of America.  And we have been reminded of our responsibilities to the country that we love.

George and I grew up in West Texas, where the sky seems endless and so do the possibilities.  He brings that optimism, that sense of purpose, that certainty that a better day is before us to his job every day.  And with your help, he‘ll do so for four more years. 

(APPLAUSE)

These are times that require an especially strong and determined leader.  And I‘m proud that my husband is that kind of leader.

Thank you all.  God bless you, and God bless America.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  With music as their motivator, the Boys Choir of Harlem. 

MATTHEWS:  Of course, that‘s the first lady.  What a performance. 

Men like me spend their lives voting for other men.  And women spend their lives voting for men, so they need someone perhaps of their own gender to give them a cue about what it is like to live with someone like George W. Bush.  I find it fascinating that she is kind of a character witness for her husband.

I thought the two best lines from the first lady about the president of the United States, which are very personal to me, one is, his friends have never changed.  That‘s me, too, I‘ve got to admit.  And the values have never changed.  I would like to think that‘s true, too. 

And the other nice thing she said is, he treats everyone he knows with dignity, everyone he meets with dignity, and also the office he holds with dignity, a direct shot at his predecessor, Bill Clinton.  They never forget how they got there. 

Let‘s go right now to journalist Kati Marton.  She‘s studied presidential marriages, the author of the book “Hidden Power.”

Kati, thanks for joining us at this very critical moment. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  What was your thought about the strong message of the first lady? 

KATI MARTON, AUTHOR, “HIDDEN POWER”:  Well, I thought it was less personal and more political, Chris.

But her great asset is that even when she is being partisan, she delivers her message in such a completely unthreatening, charming way, always with that wonderful smile.  But, in fact, the speech had at its center the war against terrorism.  I don‘t think we learned anything particularly memorable or poignant.  I thought the most surprising thing was that she married her husband after knowing him for only three months.  But beyond that...

MATTHEWS:  Well, that was a hell of an endorsement, actually, after three months. 

MARTON:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, what I thought she evoked was Friday night football in Texas, barbecues.

MARTON:  Yes, all of that.

MATTHEWS:  Marrying the girl next door, all in direct contradiction to the opponent in this race, who married somebody from Mozambique. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I am telling you, there‘s a lot of contrasts going on here, and I am sure Karl Rove approved every word spoken tonight. 

MARTON:  Absolutely. 

She is a very skilled politician, who, although she may not have originally loved politics, she has become the administration‘s secret weapon.  And she is as integrated into this reelection campaign as Dick Cheney.  No presidential couple ever wants to leave the White House before they are ready.  And they are clearly not ready.  And she is working as hard as her husband to make sure that they are reelected. 

But don‘t be fooled by that smile.  She is absolutely part of the reelection campaign.  And this was a very skilled performance.  Her relationship with the English language is much friendlier than her husband‘s, and therefore, she is able to say things that...

MATTHEWS:  Well, that was a Kati remark. 

(LAUGHTER)

MARTON:  Well, she is a former teacher.  She is extremely articulate. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I—let me just say—Kati, I want to know what you think.

I think the first lady showed this is a very young couple.  Here‘s a guy running for reelection as president of the United States.  And what struck me is their youthfulness, the fact she remembers those days when they courted.  She remembers the fact that she was married three months after they met.  The advocation of the Texas lifestyle I thought was magnificent.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTON:  All very effective.  All very effective. 

END   

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