updated 9/3/2004 2:01:39 PM ET 2004-09-03T18:01:39

Guest: Rudolph Giuliani, J.C. Watts, Jon Meacham, Tom DeLay

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews, and welcome to HARDBALL‘s coverage of the fourth and final night—I say that with sadness—of the Republican National Convention live from New York‘s Herald Square at 34th and Broadway.  The miracle at 34th Street continues.

Tonight, President George W. Bush is the star.  In about two hours from now, he‘ll address the convention, the nation and—let‘s face it—the world, and his challenge can be to match the week-long build-up to this speech tonight.

Can he display the courage and the determination promised by Senator John McCain...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA:  We need a leader with the experience to make the tough decisions and the resolve to stick with them, a leader who will keep us moving forward, even if it‘s easier to rest, and this president will not rest until America is stronger and safer still.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  ... the leadership, so admired by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIULIANI:  We believed that we would be attacked many more times that day and in the days that followed.  Spontaneous, I grabbed the arm of then Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, and I said to him, “Bernie, thank God George Bush is our president.”

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  ...  the optimism and strength of character cited by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER ®, CALIFORNIA:  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 are back because of the perseverance, character and leadership of the 43rd president of the United States, George W. Bush.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  ...  and be seen as the commander in chief, the protector of the nation, as by his vice president, Dick Cheney?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The fanatics who killed some 3,000 of our fellow Americans may have thought they could attack us with impunity because terrorists had done so previously, but if the killers of September 11 thought we had lost the will to defend our freedom, they did not know America and they did not know George W. Bush.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Tonight, reports from NBC‘s Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, New York Governor George Pataki and “Saturday Night Live”‘s Darryl Hammond.  He‘s the guy that does me.

But we begin this hour with my interview with one of the real heroes of the country, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.  I began by asking the mayor about his speech Monday night.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GIULIANI:  I felt like I had a chance to really explain what President Bush has been doing, why it‘s so important, and it‘s very personal with me because of, you know, what happened on September 11, and so there are a lot of personal feelings about it, and I think that was all—I was able to get a lot of that out and...

MATTHEWS:  Did you really say at the time of 9/11, that very day, thank God...

GIULIANI:  Sure.  I did.  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  Those words?

GIULIANI:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  Thank God George Bush is our president?

GIULIANI:  Yes.  I said it then, and I repeated it right afterwards on a number of interviews, some of them going way back to 2001.

MATTHEWS:  What did you mean?  I mean, were you thinking of alternatives...

GIULIANI:  Well, here‘s what I meant.  I‘ll tell you...

MATTHEWS:  ... that wouldn‘t have been so good or...

GIULIANI:  Yes, exactly.  I was—you know, it wasn‘t—it was—we were trapped in a building, the police commissioner and I and a number of our staff.  We got out, and we had our first press conference.

And then we were walking up the street watching people, and I had just called the White House before—right before the building came down.  I was on the phone with the White House asking for air support for the city, and that‘s what came back into my head and—do we have air support?  Do we have planes?

And I leaned over to Bernie—and I was really thinking about the election which was only eight months earlier.  I mean, that big contested election was eight, nine months earlier, and I was thinking, from my point of view, the way I look at what has to be done with terrorism, thank God Bush is in the White House, instead of Al Gore, who I thought would have reacted differently to it, more of the kind of symbolic way in which we were dealing with terrorism, which I had objected to very strongly when we were doing it.

I thought we made a big mistake with Yasser Arafat during the time we were doing it.  I thought we were making a big mistake by romanticizing him and not taking a good look at how he was undermining peace, and we were making concessions to him, and I thought we had to engage terrorism more.

And I had a feeling that George Bush would do that, that he‘d be stubborn, he‘d be tough, he‘d be determined.  And that was I—I mean, that probably describes the feeling even in more detail than I had it.  It was more of an intuition.

MATTHEWS:  Street-level thinking, right?

GIULIANI:  Yes.  Tough guy, you know.  He‘s not—when they start criticizing him, he‘s not going to worry about “The New York Times” editorial that says the war is going on—every war goes on too long.  Abraham Lincoln had editorials telling him to end the Civil War, it was going on too long.

Every president has to face that.  Franklin Roosevelt had to face that.  And I thought George Bush had a better chance of facing that than somebody like Al Gore, that it would have been—it would have been a mistake.

MATTHEWS:  You know, watching you, Mayor, over the years, when you wouldn‘t let Yasser Arafat come into the opera house and you wouldn‘t take the 10 million bucks from the Saudi Arabian crown prince or whoever it was, and it‘s kind of like a Sharks and a Jets thing with you, right?  You‘re a Jet, and they‘re the Sharks.  You‘re...

GIULIANI:  No, no.

MATTHEWS:  It‘s very street level, it seems to me.

GIULIANI:  It‘s no—it‘s an objection to the moral equivalency that we used to practice.  There are people that shouldn‘t be at the international bargaining table because they kill too many people.

If you‘re a terrorist, there is a chance you can overcome it when you get a chance to create a decent government for your people.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

GIULIANI:  That can happen.  Yasser Arafat, there was a chance maybe he could have done that, but, very early, he made it clear he couldn‘t, and we didn‘t notice it, we didn‘t watch it because we have—Americans have a tendency to want people to be good people.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

GIULIANI:  And we make this mistake a lot.  And that‘s...

MATTHEWS:  Do you ever see—have you ever been on a subway and somebody comes over and sits next to you with a boom box?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me ask you about—about terrorism.  I noticed in your remarks the other night, you dated the beginning of terrorist attacks against the United States with the attacks on Israel with regard to the horrible events of Munich and, of course, the Achille Lauro you mentioned.

Why didn‘t you start with the senator from New York, Robert Kennedy, when Robert Kennedy was hit by Sirhan Sirhan, basically Mideast politics?

GIULIANI:  Yes, it could be.  You could go back to that.

MATTHEWS:  Isn‘t that terrorism?

GIULIANI:  Yes, you could go back.  I mean, I thought of that as more an individual act and didn‘t want to revive the debate over whether it was an individual act of some degree of anger on the part of Sirhan Sirhan, or was it some kind of a conspiracy?  I don‘t really know the answer to that.

So it seemed to me that the PLO bombings—hijackings rather would be the start of it.  But, yes, you could—I mean, you could go further back than that even.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about fighting terrorism and the role of the commander in chief.  President Bush, who you support so dramatically, made a decision, let‘s not wait until we catch Bin Laden, let‘s get on to Iraq and take on Saddam Hussein.

Now that‘s like those decisions that presidents make.  It‘s like Roosevelt said Europe first, remember, not Japan...

GIULIANI:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  ... even though they attacked us.

GIULIANI:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  Why do you think that was a good decision?

GIULIANI:  It was a good decision because you have to deal with terrorism on a group of levels.  You can‘t just deal with it in one place.  And the president predicted it.

You know, on September 20, 2001, he said, we‘re going to have to deal with al Qaeda, but it won‘t begin and end with al Qaeda.  There are other groups—a number of other groups that we‘re going to have to deal with.

When he said that, I knew, sitting there next to George Pataki and Mrs. Bush—I knew for sure he was going to deal with Iraq.  If you‘re going to take apart world terrorism, you have to take out Saddam Hussein.

It‘s just a matter of time.  He could have done it a little earlier.  He could have done it a little later.  But you‘re not going to be able to destroy international terrorism without getting rid of one of their pillars of support.

MATTHEWS:  Well, if you only have so many policemen and only so many armed forces, wouldn‘t it make more sense to deploy them into Afghanistan and catch the guy in Tora Bora rather than step aside and move down to the Iraqi front?

GIULIANI:  No, I don‘t think so.  I—you know, everybody is sort of a preacher of their own experiences.  I saw it more like the way we dealt with organized crime.  You had five families.  If you just took out one family, the other four might even get stronger.  So you had to go after all five at the same time, even if it diverted your resources a little.

I mean, I think it made sense to try to pursue it in a number of different places, and I think the side benefit we got was we got Gadhafi to surrender without having to use arms, without having to use resources.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about last night.  I had a little tussle with him myself.  Senator Miller, the Democratic senator...

GIULIANI:  I‘m willing to sponsor a duel in Weehawken.  We‘ll use fake guns.

MATTHEWS:  How about spitballs?

GIULIANI:  We‘ll use fake guns.

MATTHEWS:  I think...

GIULIANI:  Spitballs would be great.  We‘ll do it for charity. 

We‘ll...

MATTHEWS:  At that very point, I said do you really mean it when you say the Democratic candidate for president really wants to reduce our armed forces in the war against terrorism to the use of spitballs, and he said, well, that‘s a metaphor and, OK, we can go from there.  But do you think that speech was a little too red hot?

GIULIANI:  Well, you know, you can only give that speech if you have a southern accent.  If I gave that speech, I‘d have been in deep trouble because they would have said I was being too tough or whatever.

Look, it was a very dramatic moment.  He‘s a member of the Democratic Party all his life.  He‘s making a very dramatic statement.  So I think a lot of emotion would be attached to it.  No, I thought it was an appropriate speech.  It was tough, a tough speech, but an appropriate one, and I think his point is all based on the record.

John Kerry has voted against defense spending so often that you have to have the sense that he really doesn‘t appreciate the need for a very strong national defense.  And you can raise that—nobody‘s talking about his Vietnam service.  We respect—I‘m one...

MATTHEWS:  Right, but do you believe he would disarm America...

GIULIANI:  ... who respects him for it.

MATTHEWS:  ... if he were president?

GIULIANI:  He did.

MATTHEWS:  But you believe he would do it?

GIULIANI:  He did it.

MATTHEWS:  How‘d he do it?

GIULIANI:  By voting for it.  He voted for the peace dividend.  He voted for many, many things that would have taken weapon systems away from us.  Now, when I say he did it, he didn‘t succeed very often because members of his own party voted against him.

MATTHEWS:  And they weren‘t decisive votes he cast.

GIULIANI:  Right.  So I shouldn‘t say he did it.  I‘d say he indicated on the record that he would do it, and all we have to go by—I mean, what‘s the best indication of what kind of a commander in chief he‘s going to be?

He‘d like you to think it‘s what he did in Vietnam for four months.  I kind of think it‘s what he‘s done as a mature United States Senator for 20 years, which is to vote against defense methods.

MATTHEWS:  Didn‘t you ever as mayor of New York veto or refuse to sign...

GIULIANI:  Sure.

MATTHEWS:  ... an appropriation because you thought it was too much, but you—you weren‘t against the whole appropriation...

GIULIANI:  Absolutely.  I vetoed...

MATTHEWS:  ... but you meant to signal the legislature or the city council that you wanted to sign at 20 percent less because you needed to protect the budget.

GIULIANI:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  Isn‘t that what Kerry did or anybody when...

GIULIANI:  Were there times he did that as a Senator?  Of course, absolutely.  But he voted against defense spending so often that he was at the outer fringe.

Look, this is not meant again to use the “L” word as a bad word, liberal or conservative, but he was the most liberal member of the United States Senate.

                One of the reasons he was was because he probably voted against

defense spending more than any other member of the Senate, including Teddy

Kennedy and other liberals.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  OK.  We‘re going to have more with Rudy Giuliani.  It‘s an exciting kind of an electric interview there.  By the way, there‘s a lot of music playing behind us all of a sudden, and our mixer‘s managed to get that out.  That‘s when I made that comment about the—did you ever sit next to somebody on the subway with a boom box?

Anyway, joining me right now on our stage here in New York City, NBC News Correspondent Andrea Mitchell, former U.S. Congressman J.C. Watts, Jon Meacham of “Newsweek,” and Joe Scarborough, the late-night hawk around here.  He‘s on the streets when they get dangerous late at night.

Joe, let‘s talk about this.  The interesting thing about Zell Miller -

·         and I‘m sure there are very different ways to turn the pillow over on this one and see it from another side.  Joe, you‘re from the South, from the panhandle in Florida.

He said, Rudy Giuliani, that I couldn‘t give a speech as tough, as brass knuckles as Zell did last night because you can‘t do that except with a southern accent.  I don‘t know what he means.  What does he mean?

JOE SCARBOROUGH, “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”:  Well, you know, usually what he would mean would be somebody like Bill Clinton is just absolutely wonderful skewering Republicans, and he always does it sort of with a smile, like they do in Louisiana or like they do in the red neck Riviera.

MATTHEWS:  I missed the smile.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, I know, but that‘s why I‘m saying that what was missing in this speech was the fact that Zell forgot to smile like most southern politicians when they‘re skewering somebody.  I think that had a lot to do with a lot of the talk leading up to it.

I think Zell Miller, by the time he got on stage last night, was very angry.  I can tell you a lot of southern delegates I talked to today, very angry.  There‘s been this continued debate among the press about racial overtones, and what—what I‘ve heard—and J.C. and I were talking about it before.

Now we‘re saying this in the South.  We‘re saying, you know, this guy supported Democrats for 40 years.  Nobody ever suggested he was a racist.  He supports a Republican president for six months, and, all of a sudden, he‘s Bull Connor.  Very—it‘s a very...

MATTHEWS:  OK, Jon, tell them the story...

SCARBOROUGH:  Now Jon and you talked about it as a self-hating southerner last night.

MATTHEWS:  Uh-oh.  Here we go.

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘m just joking.  But you talked about race playing a big part of it, and, again, was Zell a racist for the 40 years he supported Democratic candidates?

JON MEACHAM, “NEWSWEEK”:  Zell Miller was not.  In fact, one of the greatest things Zell Miller did as governor was try to get the confederate battle symbol off the Georgia flag.  But I think it is a little disingenuous to suddenly be hurt and wounded that Zell Miller‘s being attacked after he opened up with a Howitzer all over the Democratic Party last night.

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, no, no.  I‘m saying before he even spoke last night...

MEACHAM:  Well...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... people were talking about race and the Southern strategy.  It‘s all we heard about it.  It suggested...

MEACHAM:  It‘s not all you heard about.

SCARBOROUGH:  No, Jon.

MEACHAM:  It‘s not all you heard about.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I don‘t know where I was.

J.C. WATTS (R-OK), FORMER CONGRESSMAN:  Why all of a sudden is it a Lester Maddox issue now, and, you know, it...

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT:  I don‘t think it is.

WATTS:  Well—but that‘s what they‘re—that‘s what they‘re saying. 

You know, we...

MITCHELL:  Who‘s they?

WATTS:  ... heard David Gergen say—David Gergen said it when we—just before we came on.  He referred—he alluded back to Lester Maddox.  Why was—when Zell Miller was supporting Democrats in ‘96 and in 2000, Lester Maddox was never mentioned.

And, Chris, I said earlier in the week—I said it is unfair for Republicans or Democrats, either one, to try to take a snapshot of somebody‘s life 35 years ago and project that that‘s who they are today...

MATTHEWS:  Let Andrea...

WATTS:  ... and we‘re great about doing that in politics.

MATTHEWS:  Let me just say one thing.  I‘ve been on the floor all week.  I‘ve been talking to delegates in all—from all parts of the country.  Until I sat down tonight, no one had suggested to me that race was an issue here.  The only issue...

SCARBOROUGH:  We talked about it last night right here!  We talked about the Southern strategy.

MITCHELL:  Not...

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, we did.

MITCHELL:  That was before the speech.

SCARBOROUGH:  Before.  Right.

MITCHELL:  I‘m talking about the content of Zell Miller‘s speech.  What he said, the reason it‘s controversial, is the way he impugned John Kerry‘s patriotism and his ability to be commander in chief and the language that he used, his record.

MATTHEWS:  We‘ll be right back.  We‘re going to talk about this.  This is not going to end tonight.  The question whether that speech went too far last night will be debated this weekend.

More from former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in this riveting interview we had up in the stands earlier today.

And later, we‘re going to hear from House Majority—now this is a special event for this program.  Tom DeLay.  I thought this was going to be a convention without DeLay.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to our HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Republican National Convention.  There we are up on the Jumbotron.  Just think if we were walking across the street there at Times Square, I could see myself.  Anyway, I‘ve done that with my kids sometimes, and I‘ve got to tell you even they are impressed.

Anyway, we‘re about eight blocks south on Broadway to Herald Square, 34th—that‘s 44th Street, I think.  And, right now, we have more with the former mayor of New York City.  The former mayor.  What a guy this guy has become nationally.  I think everybody in the country wants him to speak at their next Republican meeting.

By the way, they‘d like him to speak at the next Democratic meeting.  I just asked him in this interview if he felt more at home—this is a big development here—if he feels more at home in the Republican Party today than he did a couple of years ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GIULIANI:  When I started in 1989, I was all by myself almost.  There was no George Pataki, Christie Whitman, Arnold Schwarzenegger.  I mean, there are a lot of us now who are what you guys all call moderate Republicans, conservative on fiscal policy, conservative on foreign affairs.

MATTHEWS:  You know what they call you downtown?  A Yankee.

GIULIANI:  Well, here...

MATTHEWS:  A Yankee.  You‘re a Yankee.

GIULIANI:  Well, in some parts of the country, I‘m too—I‘m too moderate.  In some parts of the country, like New York, I‘m too—here in New York, you know, I‘m too conservative.

MATTHEWS:  Can I make a prediction?  You‘ve got a lot of invitations right now to give speeches.

GIULIANI:  Yes, I do.

MATTHEWS:  Will you be a major road show for the Bush-Cheney ticket?

GIULIANI:  Well, I certainly am going to be out there campaigning for them, as I have been.  I mean...

MATTHEWS:  But will you be going to Cleveland, will you be going to Philadelphia, will you be going to St. Louis, all those very close-call states?

GIULIANI:  Wherever—some are scheduled already.  I Have a trip to St. Louis scheduled and some others.  The rest—it‘s up to the campaign.  I mean, I‘ve campaigned with the president.  In 2002, I was in 30 states for Republican candidates.  So I hope I can do, you know, at least as much for the president.

MATTHEWS:  I thought it was the best big city speech I ever heard in my life.  I thought it was better than anything Cuomo ever did or Hughie Carey ever did.  It was about ethnic diversity.  It was dynamite.  You think it‘ll sell on the road?

GIULIANI:  Well, I‘ve given it...

MATTHEWS:  In a place like Jackson, Mississippi, is the Rudy Giuliani message going to sell?

GIULIANI:  I‘ve given it on the road many times.

MATTHEWS:  Really?

GIULIANI:  Maybe not quite that one.

MATTHEWS:  OK.

GIULIANI:  But I‘ve been in all those places and I think it is one America.  I mean, I think it‘s one—definitely...

MATTHEWS:  Do you think Zell Miller contributed to that unity?

GIULIANI:  I think Zell Miller made a very, very compelling statement that John Kerry...

MATTHEWS:  Was it a unifier for the country?

GIULIANI:  Yes.  For those of us who believe that the defense of this country can‘t be compromised...

MATTHEWS:  Right.  OK.  The reason I ask that is not because I had a tussle with him last night, which is boring, but because...

GIULIANI:  I think it was—actually thought it was some of the funniest television that I‘ve seen in a very long time.

MATTHEWS:  It‘s funny how when you‘re trying to be serious, it looks funny.

(CROSSTALK)

GIULIANI:  ... you weren‘t together, so you couldn‘t use...

MATTHEWS:  Here‘s my point.  John McCain, who‘s another one of the leaders of your party, went on the other night and gave a wonderful speech at the end about—at the end of his remarks, and he said, “We have to learn how to compete with other Americans as friends.”

And I didn‘t think that the—well, do you think that the Zell Miller remarks were the same tone as the McCain remarks?

GIULIANI:  No.

MATTHEWS:  OK!  That‘s what I‘m asking.

GIULIANI:  There were two different purposes.  He was not...

MATTHEWS:  Different versions?

GIULIANI:  He was not—he was trying to point out why he disagrees with the candidate of his party, which is a very dramatic—very dramatic thing.  And John was trying to give an overall view of foreign policy and how we should approach it and how—now that we have some of these differences, how we can bring some of these people back into being—you know, having a strong alliance with us.

MATTHEWS:  I think you‘re going for—I think you guys are going for the roll-up.  I think McCain, you, Zell Miller, the president, the vice president have decided—maybe you haven‘t said this openly—that you‘re not interested in some close election without a mandate.  You want to give this president and this vice president, this ticket, a mandate to rule the next four years, which they really didn‘t get electorally the last time.

I want to ask you—are you guys going for a roll-up, bring back the Reagan Democrats in Scranton where the president‘s going tomorrow night, bring back the ethnics, bring back the Reagan people from the Democratic Party?

GIULIANI:  I think—and I said this this morning to the Missouri delegation—we have to approach this as a very close election, fight for every state and hope that we can get the kind of momentum that we make it even bigger than that, and I think...

MATTHEWS:  What are you going for?

GIULIANI:  You know, I hope it isn‘t just the optimism of coming out if here, but I have a feeling that maybe it‘s going to be a little bigger than we thought a week ago.

MATTHEWS:  Something like ‘80, a big Reagan roll-up?

GIULIANI:  I‘m not giving any predictions.  Once Frank Luntz did that to me.  He predicted I was going to win by 60 percent, and I won by 18 points and 59 percent.  And “The New York Times” began by saying I didn‘t reach expectations.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Well, there was one advantage.  Nobody‘s heard of your opponent since.

Let me ask you about Reagan Democrats because you and I were raised Catholic.  We‘re Catholic.  We know that‘s a big part of the country, the people who grew up in big cities.  You call them ethics.  It‘s a stupid word, but—because everybody‘s ethic, but the idea that a lot of people who have been voting Democrat their whole life—do you think they‘re going to break with Kerry and Edwards and go with your party this time like they did for Reagan in ‘80 and ‘84?

GIULIANI:  I think—a lot of it has to do with personal attachment to the candidate.  It was Ronald Reagan who spoke their language and was able to reach them, and I think George Bush has that appeal.

I think the thing that‘s missing here—George Bush is a terrific candidate, and I think people are going to see that tonight.  I saw it on the stump many, many times.  But he‘s a terrific candidate.  The more he gets out there and the more he reaches people, he‘s going to be able to bring those people along with him.  And he talks their language.

I was really happy that he got the New York City firefighters‘ endorsement last night.  I mean, I was really happy because they belong on each other‘s side.  They‘re the same kind of guys.  And that‘s the kind of person he can reach.

MATTHEWS:  Did he get all the firefighters?

GIULIANI:  He got the New York City Fire Department, yes.  The—they‘re...

(CROSSTALK)

GIULIANI:  The fire union, which is, you know...

MATTHEWS:  I know it‘s tough for Democrats.  But most firefighters are Republicans.  You know that.

GIULIANI:  Well, I think—no, the unions don‘t reflect that.  I think they‘re reflecting their membership...

MATTHEWS:  I know they don‘t.

GIULIANI:  ... the way their membership...

MATTHEWS:  I agree with you completely.

Look down there at that center down there, the stage.  It‘s going to be a theater in the round, and George Bush is going to show that he can really take on the challenges of leadership and be almost really the leader of the country, I should say.

GIULIANI:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  Would you like to play that role in four years?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Would you see yourself down there someday, Mayor?

GIULIANI:  I have—I‘m not—I‘m trying my best not to create any speculations beyond 2004.  I mean, you don‘t want to do that.

MATTHEWS:  Are you afraid of Hillary?

GIULIANI:  Pardon me.

MATTHEWS:  Are you afraid of Hillary?

GIULIANI:  Am I afraid of her?

MATTHEWS:  You‘re afraid of Hillary.

GIULIANI:  Come on.

MATTHEWS:  You‘re afraid to take her on.

(LAUGHTER)

GIULIANI:  Come on.  You‘re trying any way you can get me.

MATTHEWS:  I‘m like Zell Miller.

GIULIANI:  I‘m still sponsoring that duel, if you keep this up.

MATTHEWS:  Well, I‘ll tell you we had—we have made—will you join me in a town meeting this fall?

GIULIANI:  I will.  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  We‘ll do it at the college of your choice.

GIULIANI:  I would enjoy doing that very much.

MATTHEWS:  It‘s almost like giving a big contribution to a college.

GIULIANI:  It‘s great.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  We‘ll do that.  Thank you very much.

Mayor Rudy Giuliani, probably the most impressive mayor in the history of this country.  Someday president, maybe.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  Well, that was a lovefest, and I don‘t mind admitting it.

Joe, who‘s the most southern person here?  Southern, southern, southern.  You first, J.C.  Would he sell in the South?  Next time around, it‘s going to be open.

WATTS:  You know, Chris, my old college football coach Barry Switzer used to say one of the ways you hush the boos is you produce.  Rudy Giuliani has produced, and let me tell you, you hit it in that place.  Rudy‘s going to be able to go anywhere in the country to help this president.

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s what I‘m asking.  Do you think so?

WATTS:  I think he will.

MATTHEWS:  Tulsa?  Oklahoma City?

WATTS:  You bet.  We‘ve had him in Oklahoma City.  You bet.  I—we‘ve had—I‘ve seen him in Dallas, Texas.  He‘s done very well in Texas and Oklahoma.

MATTHEWS:  Even with that Yankee name, huh?

SCARBOROUGH:  We know it‘s...

WATTS:  He wears the same color jersey as we do, and that‘s what they look at.

MEACHAM:  You know what‘s changed since—in ‘88 when Cuomo was looking at running and had to...

MATTHEWS:  But Cuomo‘s an agoraphoben.

MEACHAM:  Well, listen to this.

MATTHEWS:  He‘s afraid of open spaces, isn‘t he?

MEACHAM:  Tom Murphy, who‘s the longest speaker of the house in the country, speaker of the house in Georgia, said, “We ain‘t got many Marios down here.”

What‘s changed is that Rudolph Giuliani is really a war hero to a lot of people.  He‘s—it‘s an extraordinary, entirely unique moment, so he‘s going to go—and he could go down there, and people see 9/11.  They don‘t see the choice issue.  They don‘t see the gay rights issue.

Now is it—does that mean he‘s going get to the South Carolina primary?  I don‘t know, but people are going to want to come out and here him and give him a chance.

MITCHELL:  I was covering his Senate race when he was thinking of running and was an all-but-declared candidate against Hillary Clinton.  And, in that year, he faced marital discord...

MATTHEWS:   Loud discourse.

MITCHELL:  ... to put it—to put it mildly.  He was suffering from

prostate cancer and dealing with all of that.  And there were terrible

racial incidents in New York City with police shootings of African-

Americans.  And as controversial as he was—he was a terrific candidate -

·         he could never be America‘s mayor if not for 9/11 and his response to it.

MATTHEWS:  Well, back in ‘64 -- back in ‘64, Barry Goldwater who‘s a hero to many, including me when I was a kid, said we ought to cut off the whole eastern seaboard for the country.  Now New York is very much a part of America.  I think that‘s why we‘re here.

SCARBOROUGH:  But let me take a swing at it.  It‘s funny.  Just a couple of hours ago, I was asked the same question.  We were going through it, and I‘ve just got to think, if you think of a match-up between John McCain and Rudy Giuliani in South Carolina four years from now—You know what? -- I think they go for John McCain.  I think Rudy Giuliani is still a bit too New York.

MATTHEWS:  Is he an acquired taste?

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, everybody loves him.  Everybody respects him. 

9/11 changed everything.  But I still think when you get John McCain up against Rudolph Giuliani—he‘s like a war hero, but I think they take the real war hero.

WATTS:  But don‘t you think...

MATTHEWS:  If you had it just between him and Hillary, though, the South would rise again, wouldn‘t it?

SCARBOROUGH:  The South would rise.  We‘d be carrying torches down the streets, whatever it took.

MEACHAM:  There‘s a very important—the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Well, coming up—an historic perspective.  Coming up, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.  I can‘t believe it.  He‘s joining us!

Plus, we‘re going to hear from General Tommy Franks, the former commander of the U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, as he addresses this convention.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Republican Convention in New York.  We‘re going to be hearing from Tom DeLay we think very soon.

You made a very interesting point because everybody‘s very careful these days to talk about the role of region and how things are—clearly, we differ in not just accent, but the accent on issues.

The New York City that we‘re in right now is very liberal.  San Francisco is very liberal.  The people let live and let live because it‘s a crowded city, and you can‘t make it if you don‘t live and let live.

Smaller towns—people feel they live in a homogeneous culture where they can make value judgments about lifestyle and most people go along with them.

Tell me about why you think Rudy wouldn‘t do as well John McCain in, say, South Carolina.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I don‘t think it has to do with the social issues.  I don‘t think it has to do with ethnicity.  I think it has more to do with culture. 

I remember being on your show a year, a year and a half ago.  And you said, are we going to see John Kerry as the Democratic nominee?  And I said, I hope so.  Now, that wasn‘t because I knew what John Kerry‘s record was.  It wasn‘t because of John Kerry‘s—what he did or didn‘t do in Vietnam or in the Senate.  It was just because he‘s a Massachusetts liberal.  He‘s a Northeasterner.  I don‘t think it is a mistake that there hasn‘t been a Democratic president outside of the South in what, 50, 60 years.

And I still think, you know, we may be morphing together as a nation but I think the regions matter.  And I think Southerners look at people from New York City with a wary eye.  But they...

MEACHAM:  But I disagree. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re from Chattanooga, right? 

MEACHAM:  Chattanooga.  

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  By the way, I love New York City, for the crowd.  I live

·         I have an apartment on the Upper East Side.  I‘m sorry. 

(CROSSTALK)

MEACHAM:  A very important point.

MATTHEWS:  Well, you don‘t have to become Geraldo Rivera just because...

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  All those kisses and stuff. 

Go ahead.

MEACHAM:  Well, a very important point is that Florida wouldn‘t be in the Union if it weren‘t for a Tennessean who invaded it and conquered it. 

(CROSSTALK)

MEACHAM:  So, if it weren‘t for us, you wouldn‘t even be here, or Texas, for that matter.

SCARBOROUGH:  Good to know.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  That Andrew Johnson was one hell of a president, wasn‘t he? 

MEACHAM:  Yes.  Well, Jackson, your guy, your guy. 

I just think that Giuliani has become a different, a wholly different kind of political creature.  He is a domestic war hero. 

MATTHEWS:  Would he sell in Chattanooga.

MEACHAM:  Absolutely.  No question.

MATTHEWS:  What do you think, J.C.? 

WATTS:  Chris, I still think that is open for discussion. 

I‘m not so sure that—I think Rudy can add to the ticket, as I said earlier.  He‘s going to sell in this election anywhere in the country, because he can produce for the ticket.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

WATTS:  Now, can be the nominee?  I still think that‘s open.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me get to the social and history.  How many times can you be married if you support the war on terrorism?  Everybody talked about his marital history before 9/11.  That‘s all we were talking about, dueling press conferences with he and his wife, Donna Hanover.  It was very dirty.  The whole thing was like your worst possible divorce. 

That doesn‘t seem to matter at all now.  Everybody figures now that was part of dealing with life, the kind of things, the hard knocks that comes to any marriage.  Well, his was a little harder. 

But the thing about, he‘s for gay marriage.  Can you go into the

South, can you into Chattanooga and say you‘re for gay marriage and get

away with it

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  I think if you are a tough enough crime-busting former New York City mayor who has also stood up to what is perceived to be the terrorists because he was here and he was on the front lines, I think he can. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MITCHELL:  I think our country is changing.  Now, I grant you, I know...

MATTHEWS:  Well, it changes, but over centuries. 

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  Well, wait a second. 

How about within our lifetimes? 

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  This was a country founded by Southerners.

(CROSSTALK) 

MITCHELL:  And the closest I come is the South Bronx.  I grant you all that. 

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Some things don‘t change.  The South has traditionally—look at the voting record in the South.  It is hard to imagine that they were so loyal to the Democratic Party when it was the pre-civil rights era and the pre-change of the ‘60s.  They were rock-solid.  They were voting for people like Adlai Stevenson, the ultimate egghead liberal. 

But they do stick to certain things.  You can go to the South.  That map, by the way, hasn‘t changed a lot since I‘ve grown up.  That map still looks blue and red to me. 

MITCHELL:  Let me ask my Southern colleagues here...

MATTHEWS:  OK.  We got...

MITCHELL:  Who do you think the South would back first?

MATTHEWS:  We got to go.

MITCHELL:  A woman or a New York mayor? 

MATTHEWS:  We got to go.

We got a big entry tonight, General Tommy Franks, as I promised.  The commander of U.S. forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan is at the podium.  This guy is great. 

Let‘s watch. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

RET. GEN. TOMMY FRANKS, FORMER CENTCOM COMMANDER:  Thank you. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)  

Thank you.  Thank you so much.  That made me—that made me want to step out here...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

Thank you.  Thank you so much.

That introduction made me want to step out here and say, “Hi. I‘m Tommy Franks, and I approved that message.”

(APPLAUSE)

Wow.  This convention rocks.

(APPLAUSE)

As P.X. Kelley said:  I‘m not a Republican.  I‘m not a Democrat. But I believe in democracy, and I believe in America.

(APPLAUSE)

For almost four decades as a soldier I‘ve been independent.  

Now, there are those who would say very independent. But here I stand tonight endorsing George W. Bush to be the next president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

Look, America is a land of opportunity.  America is a land of choice.  And a great wartime president, Franklin Roosevelt, once said, “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely.”

Delegates, friends, I‘m prepared to choose wisely.  And I choose George W. Bush.

(APPLAUSE)

And indeed I‘m honored to join American patriots on this stage, men who know, as our troopers‘ moms and dads, and husbands and wives, know that freedom is never free.

Freedom is never free.

(APPLAUSE)

And these men are men who stepped forward to lead America‘s sons and daughters.  They led them selflessly.  They remained loyal to their country and loyal to their troops.

And I join them in saluting our commander in chief, George W. Bush.

(APPLAUSE)

America finds itself today at an important crease in history. The attacks of September 11th brought a new enemy to our shores, an enemy unlike any we‘ve ever faced before.

Our nation is safer today because we have hardened our defenses. We have also taken the fight to the terrorists.

(APPLAUSE)

And we still have work to do.

The global war on terrorism will be a long fight.  But make no mistake abut it:  We are going to fight the terrorists.  The question is:  Do we fight them over there or do we fight them here?

(APPLAUSE)

I choose to fight them over there.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, some argue that we should treat this war as a law enforcement issue.  And some say we should fight a less aggressive war, that we should retreat into a defensive posture and hope that the terrorists don‘t attack us again.

Well, my wife Cathy and I are simply not willing to bet the future of our grandchildren on the good will of murderers.

(APPLAUSE)

I learned a long time ago that hope, while so terribly important, is not a strategy.  In the years ahead, America will be called upon to demonstrate character, consistency, courage and leadership.

You know, Lincoln once said, “Character is like a tree and reputation its shadow.  The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”

Well, citizens and friends, I‘ve been with this president in tough and uncertain times, and George W. Bush is “the real thing.”

(APPLAUSE)

He is “the real thing.”

The past three years have been hard years, hard years, a time of hard decisions and tough choices.  I‘ve looked into this man‘s eyes, and I have seen his character.

I‘ve seen courage, I‘ve seen consistency, the courage to stand up to terrorists and the consistency necessary to beat them.

(APPLAUSE)

In the battle for Afghanistan, we removed a regime that provided the base of support for al Qaeda terrorists who had been killing Americans for years.

In the battle for Iraq, we removed a brutal regime with an avowed hatred of our country, with a history for torturing its own people, and a history for using weapons of mass destruction against its neighbors and against its own citizens.  

We removed that regime with well documented ties to terrorists, like the al Qaeda murderer, Abu Zarqawi.  Terrorism will not stand.

(APPLAUSE)

Ladies and gentlemen, terrorism against our country started long before 9/11.  Terrorists have been killing Americans for more than two decades.  And I am proud that this president has chosen to make a stand.

(APPLAUSE)

Today, in Afghanistan and Iraq, more than 50 million men, women and children have been liberated from tyranny.  And these countries are no longer safe harbors for those who would launch the next attack against America.

We see smiles of little girls in Afghanistan who can now go to school.  

We see pride in the faces of a new Iraqi Army as they begin to protect their new freedoms.  We see resolve in the faces of emerging leaders of both Iraq and Afghanistan as they build those new nations.  And soon, in both Afghanistan and Iraq, we will see free elections.

(APPLAUSE)

In Afghanistan and Iraq, terrorism and tyranny are being replaced by freedom, hope, opportunity.  I for one am proud that my country, the United States of America, has given 50 million people a chance.

(APPLAUSE)

And we have not been in this fight alone.  President Bush has built the largest coalition in the history of the world, nations united together against terrorism.  Some have ridiculed the contributions made by these allies, but I can tell you that every contribution from every nation is important.  

And, ladies and gentlemen, I would ask you to join me in saying thanks to coalition partners for being there when America and the world needed them.

(APPLAUSE)

There can be no tougher decision—no tougher decision—than the decision to go to war, the decision to put our sons and daughters into harm‘s way.

When George W. Bush asked America‘s men and women to go to war, he gave them every resource our nation possessed.

This man, before sending us into battle, personally asked each of my military commanders if they had everything they needed.  This is a man who made sure that everything possible was done to protect our troops from the weapons of mass destruction we all expected that the enemy owned.

(APPLAUSE)

This is a commander in chief who is compassionate as he is courageous.

President Bush has increased basic pay for men and women in uniform by more than 20 percent. 

(APPLAUSE)

He has improved military housing for their families.  He has provided strong support for those families who sacrificed so much.  I respect that.

And while we celebrate these American fighting men and women when they‘re in the news, I guess the question is:  Who remembers the veterans when the parades are over and the cheering fades?  Who remembers the veteran‘s families?

President George W. Bush has provided support for these heroes. In fact, he secured a larger increase in veterans funding in four years than the previous administration did in eight.

(APPLAUSE)

This president remembers our veterans and is keeping America‘s promise to those who have sacrificed so much for us all.

George W. Bush remembers the sacrifices of the greatest generation and those who served bravely in Korea and in Vietnam. 

To all our veterans I say:  Welcome home.  Welcome home.

This president, George W. Bush, has remained loyal to those who serve

·         he has remained loyal to those who serve.  And, ladies and gentlemen,  for that he has my respect.

Citizens and friends, I started tonight by reminding you that America must make a choice.  The time is coming.

I choose George W. Bush because he is a leader we can depend on to make the tough decisions.

(APPLAUSE)

He is a leader we can depend on to make the right decisions.

(APPLAUSE)

I choose George W. Bush because his vision to take the fight to the terrorists is the best way to protect our country.

(APPLAUSE)

I choose George W. Bush because he stands up for the American fighting man and woman and because he remembers our veterans.

(APPLAUSE)

I choose George W. Bush because we know that the next 200 years of American history will depend on the decisions our nation makes today.

(APPLAUSE)

I choose George W. Bush because I believe his leadership will help ensure a better future for my grandchildren, Anne Cathryn and Samuel Thomas Matlock.

Thank you all.  May God bless you all, our country and our commander in chief.

MATTHEWS:  That was retired General Tommy Franks, a very popular guy in the country.  He is a former commander of CENTCOM. 

Right now, we‘re going to go back to the floor and NBC‘s David Gregory, who is with House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. 

DAVID GREGORY, NBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  Chris, thank you very much. 

The Texas delegation obviously fired up.  And look who I have found, Leader DeLay.  There‘s a lot of people who have been wondering where you‘ve been this whole convention. 

REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER:  Well, I‘ve let other people run the convention to elect George W. Bush, while I‘ve been out working very hard to grow our majority in the House.  We only have an 11-vote margin.  And we need a lot more votes in the House to do the things George W. wants to do.

GREGORY:  A lot of people have made the point that this is the softer, gentler Republican Party at this convention and then you have deliberately gone underground.  Is that true? 

DELAY:  That‘s not true. 

We are intent on what we believe in.  We are very dedicated to where we want to take this country.  We have let the American people know what we‘re about.  And we‘re working hard to do that.  Now, the Democrats call that intense and mean-spirited and hard.  I call that aggressive, passionate about what you believe in. 

GREGORY:  The Republicans were out in front saying that the Democratic Convention was nothing but a makeover.  Well, that charge is now back on this party, that this convention has been essentially out of sync with the conservative core of this party embodied by you.  Is that fair? 

DELAY:  Absolutely not. 

You know, our most moderate member is more conservative than the most conservative Democrat.  The Democrats had a convention that was totally trying to hide from who they are and what they believe in.  What you‘re seeing on the stage every night, all day long, is what Republicans believe in and how we have come together on different issues.  Even our moderates are united to see this party go forward, to see George W. Bush be successful, and then achieve the things the Americans want to us achieve. 

GREGORY:  You turned to a Democrat, Zell Miller, last night for the real red meat.  Did he go too far? 

DELAY:  Absolutely not.  That was Zell Miller.  I love Zell Miller. 

And you talk about hiding behind a makeover, Zell Miller expressed it, exactly what‘s happened in the South.  The Democrat Party has left the Democrats in the South.  They understand that.  And they are now Republicans.  That‘s why we dominate the South. 

GREGORY:  Some of the top Bush image-makers say this is really the first night of the campaign.  Who is he trying to reach tonight?  What does he need to say? 

DELAY:  Well, he is trying to reach the entire American people to show strong moral leadership and—that you get from George W. Bush.  And what is he going to do?  Where does he want to lead the nation?

The Democrats and John Kerry in their convention wouldn‘t tell the country where he wants to lead them.  That‘s why they got no bump.  This president is going to lay out a vision where we want to take this country, how we want to develop a country that we can hand over to our children and be proud of that country.  And that‘s with George W. Bush. 

GREGORY:  Supporters say this is a president who has got strong leadership, who has got bold ideas and who doesn‘t back down in the face of pressure.  Critics say it is stubbornness, it‘s arrogance.  There is anxiety about this war in Iraq.  What we‘re not hearing from this podium is people speaking to that anxiety, people out there who are feeling it.  Does the president do that tonight?  Does he need to? 

DELAY:  All the negatives you listed come from hard-core Democrats

that don‘t like

(CROSSTALK)

GREGORY:  Is that really right?  You don‘t think there‘s undecideds in this country who are anxious about the course of the war in Iraq? 

DELAY:  Oh, of course there‘s undecideds in this country.  But there‘s no anxiety about the moral leadership of this president.  That‘s just criticism trying to tear down this president.  And the American people know who he is, because, right after 9/11, within 15 minutes, he instinctively knew that we were at war and we had to go after the terrorists.  That is moral leadership with a moral clarity that the American people feel secure that we have a leader that will lead us into the future. 

GREGORY:  Is it possible that he was right on 9/11, right in Afghanistan, wrong in Iraq?  Do you think that‘s a fear among some voters? 

DELAY:  Absolutely not.  Iraq is part of the war on terror.  Saddam Hussein is part of the war on terror. 

It was in Saddam Hussein‘s best interests to support these terrorists that are attacking Israel, as well as the United States.  Everybody knows that he was supporting these terrorists.  And President Bush, from the very beginning said, we‘re going after the terrorists and the states that support them.  And we‘re not through yet. 

GREGORY:  Leader DeLay, good to see you.  Thanks so much.

Now to my colleague Chip Reid—Chip.

CHIP REID, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Thank you, David Gregory. 

I am joined by Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and someone who has been there a while and understands the ins and outs of politics. 

What did you think of Zell Miller and Dick Cheney‘s attacks last night?  Some people thought they were a little over the top. 

SEN. ORRIN HATCH ®, UTAH:  Look, I was the one who invited—I asked Zell if he would be willing to speak at this convention. 

I thought he did a terrific job.  Look, this is a Democrat.  I used to be a fellow Democrat.  And I just couldn‘t take it anymore.  And he‘s reached the point where he just had to get up and tell it the way it is for all of those Democrats out there who really are basically conservative and who have been misled by these liberals for so long. 

I thought he did a terrific job.  I didn‘t see anything wrong with it. 

And I think anybody who did is just playing partisan politics. 

REID:  OK.

Well, having said that, what are you looking for tonight?  Are you looking for more of that red meat which will certainly mobilize the base from the president?  Or are you looking for him to appeal to those swing and moderate voters out in the suburbs? 

HATCH:  I think he‘s going to appeal to both. 

Keep in mind, we‘ve had a number moderate speakers here, as well as conservative speakers.  But almost all the speeches have been conservative.  They have made the points that really have to be made about limited government, national security, antiterrorism, less taxes, etcetera. 

But they also are people from a wide variety of different beliefs with regard to social issues and other issues.  I suspect the president is going to talk very seriously with us.  I think he‘ll talk about some things that are very important.  And I also think that he‘ll cover some of those things that irritate the Democrats. 

REID:  You think he‘ll cover the waterfront. 

HATCH:  I hope he will.  I hope he gets a little tough out here.  But I also hope that he‘ll talk about what he want to do these next four years.  He‘s terrific. 

REID:  OK.  OK.  Thank you, Senator Orrin Hatch—Chris, back to you. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Chip. 

It‘s interesting that with the dog that hasn‘t barked at this convention, and bogged frequently at the last convention, was the argument that the conventions don‘t matter anymore.  They‘re obsolete.  They‘re out of date.  They‘re anachronisms.  And I‘ll tell you one thing that‘s proven by the Republicans this week.  Conventions can be very effective campaign events.  They can move a country, perhaps.  We‘ll have to wait and see the numbers. 

But one thing the Republicans did this week is show, you can use three or four hours of prime-time broadcast television, 20 or 30 hours of cable television, to get across a notion of who you are, a very powerful development.  We used to say the presidency was isolated, it was weak and then Reagan came along.  This convention has come along and proven that conventions can be powerful and contemporary. 

MITCHELL:  But it is also a sales pitch. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, that is what it is.

MITCHELL:  It‘s to get across a notion of who you are and who you aren‘t and who you‘d like people to think you are.

MATTHEWS:  That‘s the new use for conventions.

MITCHELL:  Exactly.  It is to define your terms and redefine yourself as a leader and your domestic agenda. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s a rollout.

WATTS:  You know, I was not critical of the Democrats in Boston, because, you know, conventions—we meet—parties meet every four years.  And you have a very limited time to frame your message.  And I thought the Democrats did what they wanted to do.  And I think the Republicans have done a great job this week in framing what they want the American people to hear.  

REAGAN:  Basically, by taking away all the stuff that we all love, the

roll calls, the

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  The hats.

REAGAN:  The hats, the smoking.  Been watching some of that on C-SPAN.  By taking away the actual business of the convention, Andrea is exactly right.  They have turned it into a formidable Amway event. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

REAGAN:  But it is a very important thing.  And it is the time you have the country‘s attention. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, it is not meant to be a backstage comedy. 

REAGAN:  No.

MATTHEWS:  It‘s what is on the stage.

Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  But, you know, what is interesting, again—and I will say it again.  Here we are in the last night.  This convention is still as much about John Kerry as it is about George W. Bush. 

The Republicans have used this convention, an incumbent‘s convention, to attack a challenger.  That just doesn‘t happen very often.  And I think it shows a couple of things.  It shows first of all, that Karl Rove knows the president has historically low approval numbers. 

MATTHEWS:  Right.

SCARBOROUGH:  And he may be looking at a, God help us, a Gray Davis strategy.  If George W. Bush doesn‘t get a bump from here, then maybe it is not going to be about raising his numbers.  Maybe it will be about keep knocking John Kerry‘s numbers down. 

MATTHEWS:  I will tell you one thing.  The swift boat commercials were a wonderful preliminary to this convention, because they opened up John Kerry to assault on his greatest strength. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Thereby letting the Republicans build their case on top of that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And he never fought back. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s come back. 

In the next hour, we‘re going to check in with NBC‘s Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert.  Plus, Governor George Pataki of New York is going to take to the podium.  He‘s going to make the introduction.  It‘s all leading up to that big speech tonight, the headlining act of the week, President George W. Bush in the arena.

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

END   

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