updated 9/1/2004 11:59:15 PM ET 2004-09-02T03:59:15

Guests: Mary Matalin, Liz Cheney, Pat Roberts, Alan Simpson, Larry Gatlin, Dorothy Hamill


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I want to be your president for four more year to make our economy.  I want to be your president for four more years to make our future brighter and better for every one of our citizens.  I want to be your president for four more years to make our country safer. 


ANNOUNCER:  This is BROKAW IN NEW YORK.  Here now, Tom Brokaw.

TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS ANCHOR:  Good afternoon from Madison Square Garden, where it‘s day three of the Republican National Convention.  Today‘s theme, “A Land of Opportunity.”

Tonight‘s primetime line-up brings the much anticipated keynote speech by Democratic Senator Zell Miller, who says his party has abandoned him.  Vice President Cheney will also take the podium tonight.

NBC‘s Andrea Mitchell is standing by now on the convention floor with someone who knows the vice president very well—Andrea.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Indeed she does.  Thank you, Tom.

I‘m with Mary Matalin, who has worked with the vice president and is now helping him in this convention speech preparation, and also as we go through—forward in this campaign.

The vice president arrives here tonight—actually as the first truly conservative speaker in primetime, Mary, because we‘ve seen so many moderate Republicans, you know, from Giuliani to Schwarzenegger to, of course, John McCain.

What is his mission here tonight? 

MARY MATALIN, BUSH/CHENEY ADVISER:  I don‘t know if John McCain would consider himself a moderate.  I think he thinks he‘s a good conservative.  But Senator McCain and Governor (sic) Giuliani were here to talk about the courage of America.

And tonight‘s theme is the opportunity of America, and that‘s what Dick Cheney will be talking about.  We‘re not doing the conservative/liberal thing; we‘re talking about things that Americans care about contrasted, we hope, with the Democratic convention—which was largely devoid of any discussion of the senator‘s record—which the vice president will talk about the president‘s record tonight.

And talk about this point in history at which our nation finds itself in the leadership that this president has displayed in getting us through these times.

MITCHELL:  You know, the Democrats seem to studiously avoid attack lines against George Bush, and tonight, during the—during their convention in terms of their primetime speakers.

Tonight, Dick Cheney, the vice president, is going to go on the attack in distinguishing the differences that he sees between George Bush‘s record and John Kerry. 

MATALIN:  I wouldn‘t characterize it as such.  And if the Democrats  want to make a claim that they didn‘t attack the president, then I would welcome them to.  I‘ll take a second look at Senator Kennedy‘s speech.

The vice president is not going to attack Senator Kerry, but he is going to point out what we all need to focus on for this election:  momentous choice.  There is a difference between the records of these two men.

And there is a stark choice—a very real and significant choice—on how they want to go forward on the war on terror.  The vice president is going to point out that on the significant issue in fighting terrorism, that we need to be on the offense.  The senator pointed out in his convention that we would be swift and certain to respond after an attack.

That‘s an important difference which the vice president will highlight tonight, but it‘s hardly an attack.  That‘s the reality of the difference between the two men. 

MITCHELL:  OK.  Mary Matalin, thanks to you.

And Tom, we should point out that this will not be Zell Miller‘s first time here at Madison Square Garden as a keynoter.  He was here in 1992, but that time he was speaking for the Democrats—Tom?

BROKAW:  Thank you very much, NBC‘s Andrea Mitchell tonight.  And I‘m here with someone who knows Vice President Dick Cheney even better than Mary Matalin.  That‘s his daughter, Liz Cheney.  Welcome, nice to have you here. 

LIZ CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT‘S DAUGHTER:  Thank you.  Great to be here. 

BROKAW:  Your father is famous for his low-profile and silent Sam style, but in the past several days, we‘ve seen him everywhere.  You were with him at Ellis Island.  He has been in the box there with your mother, your (sic) grandchildren have been around them.

Is this an attempt to warm up the vice president‘s imagery, because he does have some difficulty with women, according to all the polls.  You may disagree with some of the numbers, but the fact is that his standing with women is not as strong, for example, as the other vice presidential  candidate, John Edwards, or John Kerry. 

CHENEY:  Well, you know, I think it‘s definitely not an attempt to affect his image.  You know, it‘s very real.  It is who we are.  And if you look at sort of convention in 2000, it was the same.

As a family, we‘re all out on the campaign trail.  My sister and me and my children.  And so, for us, we view it as a family affair, and a chance to work very hard for a cause we believe in.  And it‘s a great historical opportunity for my kids to actually get to be here at a convention and sort of see history being made firsthand.  So, we feel very privileged. 

BROKAW:  Are you helping your father with his speech tonight?

CHENEY:  You know, we are all sort of working on it and giving him suggestions—some of which he takes, and some of which he doesn‘t.  But you know, he is a man who‘s surrounded by very strong-minded women.  And so, he gets a lot of advice from us.

And he‘s very focused and really wants to, himself, talk about the future and talk about, you know, the nature of this man, George Bush, that he‘s had the privilege to serve with the last three-and-a-half years. 

BROKAW:  To get back to the gender gap for just a moment, why does your party have so much trouble winning a majority of women when it comes election time? 

CHENEY:  You know, I would quarrel with the basis of the question, because I think if you look at what we saw in 2002 in the midterm elections, we saw the gender gap just about close.  And especially this time around, issues like safety, like national security, issues that have traditionally been viewed as men‘s issues or ones that the polls show women  care very strongly about.

So, we are optimistic and hopeful that we can close the gender gap and  perhaps even open a gender gap in the opposite direction this time around. 

BROKAW:  But when it comes to choice, stem-cell research, and gay  rights, the party platform this time is very strong, and those are issues that tend to skew very strongly toward women.

CHENEY:  You know, again, I think it‘s wrong to view women—I  always get nervous when people talk about women as sort of, you know, a herd of sheep, you know?  Or talk about us as all having the same positions  on either...

BROKAW:  No, but there are voting patterns, and we do talk to them about the issues that are important to them, and these come up. 

CHENEY:  Well, I would say, first of all, many women are pro-life.  At the same time, there are many women that are pro-choice.  And we are a big tent party.  We have people in the party of both viewpoints.

On stem-cell research, George bush is the first American president ever to approve federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research.  So, you know, there‘s been a bit of a misinterpretation of what his position is on that issue.

And you know, you have seen on the issue of gay rights and gay  marriage, we have people in the party who have a variety of beliefs and viewpoints.  And what we‘ve seen here over the last couple of nights is a real focus on how important it is for us to be unified as Americans—not as Democrats and Republicans, but as Americans as we face these very tough challenges.

BROKAW:  You have a gay sister.  Your father has talked about this.  And he‘s talked about his preference and your mother‘s preference, as well, for states to decide what kind of unions gay couples should have.

The president has come out for a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.  And this Republican party platform not only endorses that, but also would endorse the idea of prohibiting civil unions.

If a state decides to have civil unions, would you be opposed to that? 

CHENEY:  You know, I think actually both the president and my dad have said this is an issue that states—the people in the states should decide.  And what we‘ve seen happen over the last year is a couple of activist courts have taken that decision away out of the hands of the people, which is why the president has said a Constitutional amendment is  necessary.

You know, my dad has reiterated where he was on the issue in 2000.  It‘s where he is now.  I think it‘s the right place to be.  I think, at the same time, though, the president sets the policy, and we all are working very hard and supporting the president. 

BROKAW:  Why wouldn‘t the platform say specifically we leave it to the states to decide how they should handle the matter of gay unions?

CHENEY:  Well, I think because you have this issue now of the court system.  You‘ve got activist judges in states like Massachusetts who are taking that decision out of the hands of the people.  It‘s a very important issue, and it‘s a deeply—you know, people have deeply held beliefs about it, and it‘s one that ought to be debated and discussed by the people in a democracy. 

BROKAW:  You used to work in the State Department.  The president said recently that he miscalculated what the affects would be once major combat ended in Iraq.  There was a very substantial State Department briefing before the war began about what could be expected there.  The kind of chaos that we did see, in fact—the looting and a lot of the issues that came up.

It didn‘t get the kind of attention a lot of people believe that it should have.  Were you aware of that briefing? 

CHENEY:  You know, I think, again, this is something that there‘s been a misunderstanding about.  There was work that was being done at the State Department, as well as at other agencies, and it was work that was shared  throughout the government.

When the first people went over as part of the Coalition Provisional Authority, they took with them disks that had this report on it.  It also did not anticipate, you know, at the level of detail that we‘ve now, you know, come to know because of reality, what we were going to face.  I don‘t think anybody could have anticipated it.

I think that what we were doing in Iraq is critically important, though, for our own safety here.  And the fact that building democracy is hard doesn‘t mean that it isn‘t the right thing and the important thing for us to be doing there. 

BROKAW:  What do your children call their grandparents? 

CHENEY:  They call the grandma and grandpa.  And they—my six-year-old, actually, sometimes refers to my mother as the grandmother of the United States, which my mother loves.  So, but they—they have very close relationship.  They spend a lot of weekend nights in sleeping bags on the floor of my mom and dad‘s bedroom at the Naval Observatory. 

BROKAW:  Has your father been able to get in any fly fishing this summer so far? 

CHENEY:  We have.  We were just out in Jackson Hole about a week ago, and we all fished together.  And it‘s always good for the soul to be out there doing that. 

BROKAW:  Thanks very much, Liz Cheney, for being with us. 

CHENEY:  Thank you.  Great to be here. 

BROKAW:  Back in a moment.  Appealing to moderate voters—next on BROKAW IN NEW YORK:  Senators Pat Roberts and Alan Simpson on the party platform; and what some people are saying in an attempt to move to the middle of this convention week.  Those two guys have very solid conservative credentials.  We‘ll hear what they have to say about this in a moment.


BROKAW:  We‘re back now at Madison Square Garden.  I‘m flanked by two well-known senators, one still in office, one who has taken his retirement aptly.  Senator Alan Simpson, Wyoming.  And Senator Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate intelligence committee from the state of Kansas. 

Let me ask the two of you, when you go into a coffee shop in Casper, Wyoming, or you go into a drugstore in Hays, Kansas, and people say to you how are we going to get out of Iraq?  When is this going to come to an end?  What do you say to them? 

SEN. PAT ROBERTS ®, KANSAS:  Well, I say basically that I hope that we can provide stability and that it‘s very tough, it‘s very difficult, that we don‘t mince any words, and actually it‘s not the drugstore in Hays although I have been to the drugstore in Hays.  It‘s at the coffee shop.  We have a lot of them just like Allen has in Wyoming, and basically I indicate that this is going to be very difficult, that if we can achieve stability and security.  Note, I didn‘t say pure democracy.  That we have a chance to stabilize the Middle East, and as a result, our country will be safer. 

BROKAW:  Was the president far too optimistic when he went into Iraq about what he could achieve there and in what time frame? 

ALAN SIMPSON ®, FMR. WYOMING SENATOR:  I think so.  When I go into a coffee shop, the guy said, “anybody tell you look like Al Simpson.”  I say, “yes, they do.”  He said, “make you kind of mad, don‘t it?”  Anyway, no, that‘s what they talk to me—but I tell them, like Pat, I just say this is a long—a long slog with, I think, Rumsfeld‘s definition before he—we don‘t hear much of Don on this, but it‘s a long slog, and I say it‘s got to be important, and nothing has happened to us since September 11, so if you think of the Patriotic Act doesn‘t work and you are aggrieved on civil rights, just know that it hasn‘t happened again, and just sit back for a time we‘ve never known in my life or anyone living.

BROKAW:  But do you think we have more enemies in the world now, especially in the Islamic world, than we did before we went into Iraq?

SIMPSON:  I think that we would always have those because of our relationship with Israel, and nothing is going to change until something changes with the Palestinian-Israeli issue and no politician likes to mess in there. 

BROKAW:  That‘s an issue that it is critical wherever you go in the Middle East.  You and I saw each other in Qatar right before that war began when you were there with the Senate intelligence committee.  There has been no talk about that at this convention whatsoever or about foreign policy and how we get to where we need to get to in that part of the world.  Isn‘t that important for the American public to hear it? 

ROBERTS:  I think it is except I‘m going to get a little academic here and say Samuel B. Huntington wrote a book, “The Clash Of Civilizations and The Remaking of the World Order” back about 1998 and 1999.  He predicted any time you get a population, 23, 24, 25 percent that is male, unemployed, and very susceptible to a very radical brand of Islamic fervor, you are going to have some problems, and so that‘s going to be with us for quite a while, but the key is if you go to Tunisia, if you got to Morocco, if you go to Qatar, where we were, even Saudi Arabia, if we can be successful in Iraq and we stabilize Iraq, I think we have a real chance to stabilize the region then hopefully at that particular time you can make some headway in regards to the talks that would be meaningful in relation to Islam. 

BROKAW:  Given what we now know about Iraq, no weapons of mass destruction that have been found, no collaborative relationship with terrorists according to the 9/11 commission which you looked at very carefully and all the other issues that have not come true, the threats that have not come true, if you were back in the Senate and the president came and asked you for authority to go to war under a blank check, would you give it to him? 

ROBERTS:  I don‘t think any—I don‘t think any senator will vote for a blank check, but there are three very important things.  One, would have Saddam Hussein provided safe haven for the terrorists?  And the answer to that is yes.  I think that was on the way.  Second, did Saddam represent a real threat to the stability of the region, i.e. Israel?  And then, also, number three, on a strictly mounting humanity demand basis, I stood on that grave site in a little place called Hiller (ph) where 18,000 people were being unearthed, that number is up to 260,000, 270,000, 280,000.  We talk about Rwanda, we talk about Cambodia, we talk about Kosovo.  This guy is a bad actor.  We are better off with him in jail, and I think the stability of the region—we have a shot at stability if that part of the world. 

BROKAW:  But those are not the terms under which we went to war. 

SIMPSON:  No, they weren‘t, but if you are a South Dakota coyote or a Wyoming cowboy and you can salt away a guy like Saddam Hussein and put him in the clink, I think the world is a better place.  I don‘t care what he has—I do care what he has done.  I think it‘s been hideous.  And if you‘ve got him in the clink, I think the world is way ahead. 

BROKAW:  Worth the cost? 

SIMPSON:  I don‘t know.  It‘s interesting to me.  I was in the service in Germany at the end of the army of occupation.  We lost more people in the two years I was in the service from Jeep accidents and everything else.  I‘m not denigrating the horrible loss of life, but there is—when you get the drip theory and there‘s one a day and people aren‘t paying attention to what happens in a military of several hundred thousand people. 

BROKAW:  You‘re a Marine.  Once Marine always a Marine. 

ROBERTS:  Yes, sir. 

BROKAW:  You served in the United States Senate with John Kerry. 

ROBERTS:  Yes, that‘s correct. 

BROKAW:  You continue to serve with him there.  The president says he believes that he did not lie about his service record.  The president also says he believes that John Kerry performed heroically in Vietnam.  The Swifties, the veterans against John Kerry continue to run their ads with nuances that he has lied.  Are they being fair to him, do you think?

ROBERTS:  They sort of asked for it.  I mean, you stand in front of a convention and say I‘m reporting for duty.  Senator Kerry has been in the Senate for 20 years.  He spent about four minutes on it and then basically brought the subject up.  Now, here we are going back to Vietnam where people have very strong feelings.  John McCain said the same thing.  It‘s just like a scar that just sort of opened up or the wound that you opened up. 

These are people who believe very strongly not so much in terms of his action over there or whether they—but that the declarations are accurate or not, but what he said when he came back, and that opened an old wound and, hey, under the constitution and free speech, they have every right to bring it up.  I personally would like to see the Swift Boat situation put into dry dock.  I think it would be helpful for the campaign.  I don‘t expect that because this has been a very tough campaign.  It‘s been very personal on the other side as well.  

BROKAW:  May I ask you about your friend Dick Cheney, fellow Wyoming resident.  He will be speaking here tonight.  He draws very sharp poll numbers from women especially, doesn‘t do well in the so-called gender gap.  He is a lightning rod for a lot of Democrats.  Why is that? 

SIMPSON:  Good job for a vice president.  That‘s what they should be.  A lightning rod and taking a lot of heat and flack.  It‘s interesting how they‘ve tried to demonize him in these last months.  They had him as the toast of the town the first couple of years, and now toast.  It‘s fascinating, but I tell you, Dick Cheney is Dick Cheney.  I called him when the bricks were falling on his head like Pat would do as a friend.  I said, “how are you doing?”  He said, “same old crap” and just laughed. 

He is unflappable.  When you are chief of staff of the president of the United States at 34, you can take all the flap they can dish all over the United States.  His key is his loyalty to George W. Bush.  He can take all the stuff they throw, and he doesn‘t throw it back.  He might, a little of it, but he is invaluable to this president.

BROKAW:  Well, Pat Leahy thinks that he might have thrown some back at him. 

SIMPSON:  Well, you see, it‘s interesting about that word, which is used in Wyoming sometimes.  And then you go to a movie like “The Anchorman”, and the word is used every five seconds, and so the   media is all worked up about the F-word, and all you do is go to a PG movie, and the guy said PG, what are you talking about?  So it‘s very interesting to me how we‘ve come to circle in on this ghastly Anglo-Saxon word when you go to every movie and every five minutes, you know, here we go again.  Other than that, I have no strong feelings on that.  And Leahy may have deserved it.  He probably asked him for some cuff links after he just drilled his teeth on Halliburton.  Cheney I can just see just turned his head.

BROKAW:  Al Simpson, Pat Roberts, thanks very much.

ROBERTS:  I think you described it very well. 


BROKAW:  Yes, it‘s hard to get past that. 

ROBERTS:  And the horse that he rode in on, sure. 


SIMPSON:  That‘s right.

BROKAW:  Pat Roberts and Al Simpson calling them as they see them as they always do.  Next, the role of  entertainers in politics.  I‘ll be talking with Dorothy Hamill and Larry Gatlin, two of the entertainers here at the Republican National Convention.  BROKAW IN NEW YORK in a moment. 


BROKAW:  Joining me now Olympic Gold Medal figure skater Dorothy Hamill and Larry Gatlin, country music star.  And of course, he‘s the leader singer with The Gatlin Brothers and the second best golf   player among his brothers. 

LARRY GATLIN, MUSICIAN:  No question, Rudy is still the best.

BROKAW:  Yes.  That‘s what happened.  You have been a Republican for a long time.  I remember we met in 1984.

GATLIN:  You are going to bring that up? 

BROKAW:  No, I‘m just going to bring up the fact that we met.

GATLIN:  Well...

BROKAW:  You were performing at Billy Bob‘s, and you were there...

GATLIN:  That‘s right.  Well, you are very gracious to—have been to me.  That night I got a little bit over-served.  I don‘t do that anymore.  It has been about 20 years since I had a drink or a drug.  That night I got a little over-served and wanted to take you outside, and I‘m glad I didn‘t because you would have probably whooped me real bad. 


GATLIN:  But I apologize for that.  You have been very gracious to me on the occasions I have seen you since.  That was one of our first meetings.  But you know, a lot of people think—I think people have the  misconception that we Republicans, we just kind of grew up and somebody kind of took the top of our head off and poured a bunch of stuff in us and we became Republicans. 

I did not come by my political beliefs or my political affiliation in any other way except the way I was raised and probably the way I am wired.  I saw a deal in “The New York  Times” just the other day.  They actually think that Republicans and Democrats are wired a little bit differently.

So, I mean, that has to be it.  How do you explain Carville and Matalin?  I mean, you know that bunch.  But we were raised in a religious home, and to believe that there are goalposts and they don‘t move, and that‘s just kind of where I am on it. 

BROKAW:  How did you get to be a Republican? 

DOROTHY HAMILL, GOLD MEDAL FIGURE SKATER:  Well, I think my father had a fairly strong influence on me growing up in Riverside, Connecticut.  And I was asked to do a little bit of work for Ronald Reagan through a good friend of mine.  I don‘t know.  I think the first first lady I met was Mrs.  Ford, Betty Ford.  And I just was really quite taken with her.  And I don‘t know, I just somehow...

BROKAW:  What are the issues that are important to you this... 

HAMILL:  Well, to me, I think our president has just a very, very difficult job.  And I think he has handled it as well as he could possibly.  It‘s—I just—there are a lot of issues, and I don‘t see eye to eye 100 percent either on.... 

BROKAW:  Like choice and stem-cell research. 

HAMILL:  Choice, stem-cell, gay...

BROKAW:  Gay unions.

HAMILL:  ... unions.  So—but from an economic standpoint, I‘m fairly conservative. 

BROKAW:  What about you, Larry?  What are the most important issues for you?

GATLIN:  Well, the president is an old friend of ours, and that‘s not enough.  I talked—did an interview the other day, and they said, well, is it because the president is an old friend?  I said, no, I mean, Willie Nelson is an old friend of mine too, and I am not going to vote for him for president.

I love you, Will, I really do.  So that‘s not enough.  I am very much pro-life.  I very much believe that what somebody does in their bedroom is their business.  I don‘t want it to be codified in our laws.  That‘s just the way I feel about it.  I have made the statement—wrote a little op-ed piece for “The Wall Street Journal” last week: “I never got a job from a poor man.” Anybody who ever gave me a job had more money than I did.  And now I have the chance to give people jobs.  That‘s a good thing and I am rooting for the prez.

BROKAW:  Let me ask you a quick question.  Can you sing as well as he can?


BROKAW:  And can you skate as well as she can?

GATLIN:  I will tell you what, I would look like a windmill on acid if I tried to get out there and do that.


HAMILL:  Yes.  And you wouldn‘t want to hear me sing, so I‘ll let you do the singing if you‘ll let me do the skating. 

GATLIN:  Let‘s do that.  Let me sing a real pretty ballad and you go out there and do that “Hamill Camel” thing.

HAMILL:  And you can—you don‘t mind giving the color commentary...



BROKAW:  I‘ll be in a lot more trouble if we don‘t get out of here in just a few moments.  Dorothy Hamill and Larry Gatlin, thanks very much for coming by. 

GATLIN:  Thanks, Tom.  Good to see you.

BROKAW:  OK.  Continuous coverage of the  2004 Republican National Convention all night long here on MSNBC.  And of course, I‘ll be back here with “NBC NIGHTLY NEWS” and back here tomorrow at 4:00 Eastern time with President Bush‘s chief of staff, Andy Card.  I‘ll see you then.


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