Guest: Chrissy Gephardt, Chip Carter, Steven Ford, Tucker Quayle, Hubert “Skip“ Humphrey III
ANNOUNCER: DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT.
DEBORAH NORVILLE, HOST: Next stop, Boston.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator John Kerry!
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NORVILLE: The stage is set for the Democrats‘ big show, but it won‘t just be the candidates in the spotlight.
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RON REAGAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: They asked me to do it, and I‘m assuming that there‘ll be a fairly wide audience.
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NORVILLE: Tonight, an insider‘s look from the convention floor, campaigning under the family name. Steve Ford, Chip Carter, Tucker Quayle, Skip Humphrey and Chrissy Gephardt. What‘s it like to share the platform with Dad?
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have to hold up a certain image. You have to live up to expectations.
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NORVILLE: And just how influential will be the candidates‘ kids be in this year‘s election?
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But that‘s the way politics is usually.
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ANNOUNCER: From studio 3K in Rockefeller Center, Deborah Norville.
NORVILLE: And good evening. On Monday, the Democratic national convention gets under way, and who better to look ahead to what really goes on than the sons and daughters of some of America‘s most well-known politicians past and present? Chip Carter is the son of former president Jimmy Carter. Steven Ford is the son of former president Gerald Ford. Chrissy Gephardt is the daughter of Congressman Richard Gephardt, a former Democratic presidential candidate. Hubert “Skip” Humphrey III is the son of former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey. And Tucker Quayle is the son of former vice president and Republican presidential candidate Dan Quayle.
This is a rare opportunity to have such an insider‘s look with the kids of some of America‘s biggest political figures, so I want to get right to it. Everybody‘s talking about the 9/11 commission, folks, and they‘re talking about the timing of it. The administration tried really hard not to get it released on the eve of the Democratic convention. That didn‘t happen. Is this going to be politicized as a result of the timing? Chip, I‘ll start with you.
CHIP CARTER, PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER‘S SON: I doubt it very seriously. I‘m hoping that the Democrats will go ahead and look at it and try to implement it and do it quickly, maybe even if we have to come back into session. I think it‘s something that must be done to protect the American people.
NORVILLE: Skip Humphrey, what about you? Commissioner Lehman took great pains to say they hoped that this report, because it was so strongly bipartisan, would be above politics. Is such a thing possible in an election year like this?
HUBERT “SKIP” HUMPHREY III, VICE PRESIDENT HUBERT HUMPHREY‘S SON:
Well, you would hope so. If there‘s any kind of event and review and investigation that needs to be above the partisan politics, it certainly is this commission‘s report. And I couldn‘t agree more. I think there should be a thorough review of that report and then very swift action to implement the recommendations.
NORVILLE: How long should a review take, in your opinion? I mean, it took them 20 months to do the report. There‘s been a lot of looking done at this issue.
HUMPHREY: I think the American public is expecting very direct action, so people have to get down, get to work, read the report, take the review of it and then take action. It ought to be done as soon as possible. And frankly, whether there‘s an election on or not, we ought—they ought to take the action.
NORVILLE: Chrissy, your dad is in the Congress right now. He‘ll be one of those who‘s charged with coming up with a plan of action based on the recommendations of this report. What do you think the prevailing wisdom is right now, 24 hours after its release?
CHRISSY GEPHARDT, REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT‘S DAUGHTER: I think that—like others have said, I think just getting it implemented as soon as possible. I know that my dad wants to work in a bipartisan way to get this done, and the faster, the better. So...
NORVILLE: So go for it.
NORVILLE: One of the things that I‘m curious about is how does a candidate take this report, use it to good effect without looking political? There‘s a lost great information in there. There‘s a lot of very, very serious recommendations that have been done. How do they use that and go forward without looking overtly political? Chrissy?
GEPHARDT: Well, I think that, you know, this is—the report is—is a combination of failures that doesn‘t have to do with anything along party lines. I mean, these are things that have been going on for a long time. And I think that everyone knows that they have to come together and get this done. And what I‘ve been impressed about is that the commission has been able to do that. And I‘ve never seen such a bipartisan effort in such a long time.
NORVILLE: Steven, how does this elevate terrorism as a campaign issue? We know that it‘s been an issue anyway. Does the urgency of this report put it higher up on the priority list for the two candidates?
STEVEN FORD, PRESIDENT GERALD FORD‘S SON: Well, I think first of all, that each candidate‘s got to be careful that it stays nonpartisan. And No. 2 is, the American people—you know, everybody should go out to the book store and read this report—I haven‘t read it yet, but it‘s available to anybody for, I think, it‘s $8 or $10 -- to realize how important this problem is. You know, when my dad was president, we dealt with the cold war. We knew who our enemies were. We knew where they lived. Terrorism is the new thing of the future that the American people have to be very aware of. It has to be done in a nonpartisan way. And I think both candidates have to be very careful.
NORVILLE: Tucker, have you had a chance to talk with your dad about the release of the report and the impact it might have on the campaign coming up?
TUCKER QUAYLE, VICE PRESIDENT DAN QUAYLE‘S SON: We haven‘t talked
directly about the report, but I think terrorism is something that we are
always discussing and the constant threat that we are facing and the
challenges that are going forward and, hopefully, that we can do this in a
· face this in a bipartisan nature, similar to this report, and take the recommendations seriously, but also lead with convictions and fight this.
NORVILLE: Don‘t you think that there‘s some aspects of this report that each candidate can take and embrace as their own without looking political? I mean, there‘s—there‘s an action plan out there. Now, you may not agree on every specific point of the direction that they‘re suggesting in the report, there‘s clearly a plan for action in there. Can‘t both candidates grab onto it and go forward?
QUAYLE: Well, I think they could grab onto this and go forward. The
plans of actions, I think, through the political process, will change as we
· you know, more information comes out even after the report. And as—you know, terrorism is a—is a thing that‘s changing all the time. I mean, we‘re going to have attacks across the world, and we need to respond fluidly.
NORVILLE: Yes, well, one of the things that‘s very, very chilling in the report is it says that not only is another terrorist event probable, that America is safer, but it‘s not safe. And today, Senator Joseph Lieberman was among those who added his voice to those saying we need to get on this and we need to get on it now. Here‘s a little bit of what he had to say.
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SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D-CT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We simply cannot approach or respond to the commission report with business as usual. I mean, we‘ve got to go at this with a real sense of urgency.
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NORVILLE: Skip Humphrey, do you think that there‘s a chance that there could be a special session of Congress prior to Congress going back in session after Labor Day?
HUMPHREY: Well, you know, I really don‘t know how that would be called. But I can tell you this. It seems to me that the commission‘s report is truly an opportunity to rise above the politics of an election campaign. It really is a time for us to focus on what is fundamentally important to all Americans. So this is a real challenge, but it‘s a real opportunity for both sides of the political fence to say, There‘s work to be done, and this—this is a priority.
NORVILLE: But how do you meld that issue in with the other issues that are obviously very important to the voters—the economy, health care costs, et cetera? How do you mix it all together?
HUMPHREY: Well, that‘s part of what a campaign is all about. The nice thing about—in our country is that every so often, you have to go out to the voters, the customer, and check out and see exactly what they‘re interested in and what their thoughts are. And you have to give them a reason to select, reelect or elect you. And so I think this is a prime opportunity. We now have the information. The public has the opportunity to review that information, to listen carefully to what the candidates are saying, and to really make some very, very important choices not only for themselves, but for their children and their grandchildren.
NORVILLE: Chip you‘ve been in the business of the political consultant for the last few years. Is this going to change the way the candidates are going out there? Obviously, terrorism was out there. All these the other issues were out there, too. But are they going to rejigger their campaign and come at it differently because the reaction to this—I mean, that book is flying off the shelves at every Barnes & Noble and book store in America.
CARTER: I think they probably will change. I think one of the things that we‘re going to have to do is we‘re going to have to look at where America has placed itself in the world. More than one half of all the people on earth live on less than $2 per day. And when you have that kind of income, it‘s hard to have hope. And as long as people don‘t have hope, it‘s easy to have terrorists. So what we‘re going to have to do is have a world war with all the other nations in the world against poverty, providing health care, providing education in these areas. And I think that could be a very strong indication of where the candidates should lead this country.
NORVILLE: Steve, do you see anything changing politically, in terms of the way the Republicans may be coming forward after this report‘s out?
FORD: Well, I think when you look at the report, you know, there‘s plenty of blame to spread on both sides...
FORD: ... where this problem happened. But I was interested in—I think one of the first suggestions they made was to say that you—we have to go after terrorism. We have to be proactive. We have to go after the terrorists, not wait for them to come to us. And I think when you look at the president, he can stand up and say, That‘s exactly what I‘ve been trying to do for this last year. So I think the president stands on good ground to say he‘s trying to be aggressive and hunt down terrorism.
NORVILLE: Well, before we go to the break, I‘ll just hit you all fast. What do you think is the hottest issue of the campaign. Tucker Quayle, you first.
QUAYLE: I—I mean, we just talked about it. The hottest issue is going to be to handle the war on terrorism and who‘s going to be the leaders in that charge and who has been doing it in the past. I think President Bush has done a great job in doing that and leading us forward in that charge.
NORVILLE: Chrissy Gephardt?
GEPHARDT: I think, in addition to the war on terror, I think the economy is going to be a big issue, as well. I think that, you know, middle class families in this country are struggling. People are losing their jobs. And I think it‘s going to be a big issue in this election.
NORVILLE: Skip Humphrey?
HUMPHREY: I would agree with both of the others. I‘d add one little extra. I think the issue of health care and how we‘re going to deal with this continuing very serious problem that impacts on every life—it‘s terribly important that we resolve that.
NORVILLE: Chip Carter?
CARTER: Well, I agree with what all the other Democrats say, but I think we also have to put education into the area. But actually, I think terrorism and the economy, education and health care are going to be the big four...
NORVILLE: That‘s not one issue!
CARTER: ... that we go after.
NORVILLE: I said one issue! Don‘t be political!
CARTER: It has to be one...
NORVILLE: You‘ve got to pick one!
CARTER: ... issue, it‘s got to be terrorism.
NORVILLE: OK, terrorism.
CARTER: It‘s got to be terrorism.
NORVILLE: Steve, you only get one choice.
FORD: Usually, it‘s the economy, OK? Most elections, it‘s always the economy. But the economy added, I think, 120,000 jobs last month in June. I think it‘s going to be terrorism and the war in Iraq.
NORVILLE: All right. We‘ll take a short break. When we come back, more with our panel, including a look ahead to next week‘s Democratic convention. They all know what it‘s like on the inside, and we‘ll hear some of their unique insights when we come back.
NORVILLE: Back with the sons and daughters of some of America‘s biggest political names from past and present—Chip Carter, Steven Ford, Chrissy Gephardt, Hubert “Skip” Humphrey III and Tucker Quayle. All of them have been at conventions before. They know what happens. Tell us what to expect. We‘re going to do our Monday-morning quarterbacking a little bit early. There‘s really nothing to decide this time around. Why do they even bother having a convention? Tucker, can you explain this to me?
QUAYLE: Well, my personal...
NORVILLE: Don‘t go Republican on me.
QUAYLE: ... idea is that it—well, I‘m not going to go Republican. In fact, I think on both sides right now, the conventions are really just a rubber stamp at the end. I mean, these things get decided out in early March, and this is more of a pat on the back for a lot of the, you know, politicals out there. And it‘s actually a lot of parties and having a lot of fun out there. And I think that‘s what a lot of this convention stuff is about.
NORVILLE: Chrissy, is there any business to be done at something like this?
GEPHARDT: I mean, sure. I mean, there‘s lots of money to be raised, and a lot of—you know, it‘s like a big pep rally. It‘s a chance to energize the base. It‘s a chance to energize the partisan people in the party and get people excited about the ticket. But other than that, I mean, other than raising money, I mean, like everyone has said, it‘s not—you know, no hard decisions are being made here. I mean, obviously, everything is sealed up.
NORVILLE: But you got a situation where, if you look at most of the polls that are out there, it‘s basically a statistical dead heat going into this convention. Is it possible that the Democrats could do something either to greatly enhance their chances or screw it up big-time, Chrissy?
GEPHARDT: Well, I mean, I think they can only enhance their chances. I think that, you know, by some of the people they‘re asking to speak during the primetime, is going to help. They‘re going to bring some new, fresh faces into the mix, some rising stars in the Democratic Party. But you know, I really don‘t think that watching the election is going to swing a swing voter. I mean, that‘s just my opinion. I think that, you know, people recognize the convention for what it is, and that is a big party to get the base ginned up.
NORVILLE: Chip, I‘m guessing the base is ginned up anyway. They‘re so eager to get the Republicans out of there, they don‘t really need any fire put under their backside. What do you see going on at this convention?
CARTER: I think it introduces John Kerry to the American people. I think there‘s an awful lot of people that lived in states that are not prime early primary states, and a lot of people that live in states that are not the 14 or 20 or whatever it is prime states. So that he actually has to introduce himself, and I think it‘s going to be very successful in doing that.
NORVILLE: Is there a possibility that he could trip up one way or the other?
CARTER: I don‘t think so.
NORVILLE: Because it‘s so well orchestrated?
CARTER: I mean, he‘s got this convention locked.
NORVILLE: Yes. Well, I know the convention‘s a lock.
CARTER: It‘s not only so well orchestrated—it‘s not only so well orchestrated, but it‘s really the first time in a long time that our party has been totally united behind a candidate. I mean, there‘s no third party, there‘s no other candidate out there trying to make waves. It is controlled by Kerry. So I think it would be very difficult for him to mess up in this process.
NORVILLE: And so Skip Humphrey, for that reason, it‘s not surprising that the networks have said, you know, Thank you very much, but gavel to gavel, we‘ll take a pass.
HUMPHREY: Well, I think you also have to look at—this is an
opportunity again for the candidate to showcase what they‘re all about,
what the issues are that they want to focus on. It really is, in many ways
· they‘re on stage, on the national stage in a very large way. So I think it‘s a wonderful time for the party, in a sense, to come together. You know, the Democratic Party is really 50 different parties, and they only gather together once every four years. And so you‘ve got a lot of people from a lot of different parts of this country melding themselves together. And I would agree that this year, more than ever, there is a sense of unity. But that needs to be molded and melded even closer and more tightly. And a candidate can get a fantastic rush, in a sense, out of that base, out of that organization that comes out of this week.
NORVILLE: But I tell you, when you talk about a candidate getting a rush, I‘m reminded of a incident earlier during the campaign, something that happened in Iowa, when a candidate got a little bit too much of a rush. Let us revisit once again that magic moment with Howard Dean.
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HOWARD DEAN (D-VT), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And then we‘re going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House! Yes!
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NORVILLE: There is something to be said for a little too much exuberance. I know there‘s something like a billion balloons that are going to fall on John Kerry when the nomination is complete and he‘s accepted. You do have to be a little careful when you go through with these things, don‘t you, Skip?
HUMPHREY: Well, I think any candidate that is out there today understands that you can‘t be too hot in front of the camera. What you can do, though, is show genuine enthusiasm, that sense of confidence, the sense of understanding that there is a united effort behind you. I think there‘s that special kind of feeling that you get. It‘s a level of energy, that without the party coming together, you just wouldn‘t have that. So yes, decisions, major decisions have been made, and it‘s not like some of the earlier conventions where the whole—not only the party but the entire population of our country was wondering who was going to be the candidate. But there‘s still a lot of things that have to happen at a convention to make it really be a positive force for the election.
NORVILLE: Steve, I want to ask you a little bit. You work an actor. You know all about the mechanics of presentation and making things come together well. Critique for me, if you will, the line-up of speakers that the Democrats have put together. Who do you think is a brilliant choice, and who do you look at and go, What are they doing there? Why are they on the dais?
FORD: Well, you know, it was interesting, the conflict they had with Hillary Clinton early on. Was she on, was she not on? That caused a little controversy. Obviously, Edwards adds to the ticket. He‘s very—you know, a lot of charisma.
NORVILLE: And he‘s going to be—his daughter is going to be presenting his wife, who‘s going to be presenting him. So they get kind of, like, all the whole family stacked up there.
FORD: Yes. And that‘s important—that‘s important for a campaign. And it really is a time for John Kerry and Edwards to meet the American people. I was shocked the other day. I was in Barnes & Noble. I bought a Time” magazine, and they were on the cover of “Time” magazine. It said “The Contenders.” And here, the girl who checked me out of Barnes & Noble must have been, I don‘t know, 26, 27 years old. And she looked at magazine and she said, Contenders for what?
FORD: I was shocked that—and I said, Well, they‘re running for president. And she didn‘t know. And that really shocked me, that young people, maybe, are not paying attention to this thing. It‘s important that both parties, you know, get their message out there and people participate and vote.
NORVILLE: Let me just—I‘m going to stop you there, Steve. I want to come back and follow up on that. But Tucker, you just got out of business school. You graduated from Virginia. You got your MBA. I know you‘re going to be going off to Asia and working in banking. Is that common? Is that common that a lot of college kids, young people, have no clue about what‘s going on politically in this country?
QUAYLE: I think that‘s probably a fair statement. But I think if you look at voting in general, we only get 30, 40 percent of people out there to vote, and that‘s fairly low. And it is a problem, people really being not enthusiastic about the process. And you know, some might say that that‘s maybe a positive thing, that things are so well—going so well in America that, really, one way or the other, it‘s not going to matter, so people don‘t vote. But it is a little bit frightening that people don‘t take that interest in our political system and where the country‘s going to be headed.
NORVILLE: Well, that‘s downright scary. You know, you guys are talking about energizing the party. It sounds like what this convention ought to be doing is energizing people to get out there and vote, regardless of who they vote for.
We‘re going to take a short break. When we come back, looking ahead to the Democratic convention and looking ahead to the GOP‘s big week later in the summer. And former first lady Nancy Reagan back in public for an event very close to her heart. That‘s coming up.
NORVILLE: Back with the sons and daughters of some of America‘s biggest political names past and present—Chip Carter, Steve ford, Chrissy Gephardt, Skip Humphrey and Tucker Quayle.
While the convention‘s a time when the party looks ahead, it‘s also a time when I think some people look back and wonder what might have been. There is one gentleman who will be at the convention who might have been there in a different capacity if things had gone differently in Iowa. Here‘s where he stepped out of the race.
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REP. DICK GEPHARDT (D-MO), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I love this country, and I love my family. The silver lining in all of this is that I‘ll finally get to see them at every opportunity, rather than when opportunities could be found. Jane, Matt, Chrissy and Kate are my life. To them, I‘ll always be grateful. God bless you all.
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NORVILLE: Chrissy, we watched your dad that night, and all of us, I think, had a sense of just how much a man gives up, a woman gives up to pursue a political career. What was that night like for you and your family?
GEPHARDT: First of all, you made me emotional watching that all over again.
NORVILLE: I‘m sure.
GEPHARDT: I vowed never to see that tape again. But you know, it‘s heart-wrenching. My father has put all of his heart and soul into helping this country and doing good by the American people. And he really is an honest, decent man, and I think that people recognize that. And I am so proud of everything that he‘s done. And I just—you know, I think that it‘s an emotional moment whenever you have to bow out of something like that.
NORVILLE: Is it harder for a candidate like your dad to go to the convention, when, you know, they were fighting the good fight and it didn‘t go their way? Is it harder to go up to Boston this year for him?
GEPHARDT: I don‘t think so. I think that my dad is at peace. I think that he‘s come to terms with the way the situation has unfolded. And I think that he has now thrown all of his support behind John Kerry and John Edwards, and he‘s going to be there fighting for them and talking them up and endorsing them. And you know, I think my dad has come to peace with it, so...
NORVILLE: I know your father had gotten a call from Senator Kerry before the announcement was made, but I guess “The New York Post” didn‘t believe that that was the case. What did your dad think about that newspaper cover that was a little bit off?
GEPHARDT: I think my dad thought it was quite comical. You can‘t help but laugh at that. And I actually have four copies of it. I‘m hoping he‘ll sign it, and then I can frame it.
NORVILLE: Or sell them on eBay and make a bazillion dollars with it!
GEPHARDT: There you go! Great idea.
NORVILLE: Chip, what did you think about that cover? I hear you chuckling in the background.
CARTER: I thought it was OK. You know, it showed what Murdoch is all about and how wrong they are with Fox News all the time. So I thought it was pretty much apropos.
NORVILLE: You know, we were talking about convention speakers and among the speakers who will be appearing in Boston this coming week is your dad. And I think it‘s interesting to note that your father, a former president of the United States, has never been asked to address the Democratic National Convention until now. Why?
CARTER: I think he‘s been asked in the past.
I don‘t know. There was conflict between the Kennedys and the Carters for a while and that kind of hung over. But I think that dad has gotten his message out at the conventions and he‘s made more speeches than none. But he will be speaking this time. And I think, as a Noble Peace Prize winner and as a former president, that he hopefully can tell America why he supports John Kerry and Edwards.
NORVILLE: When these speakers get up there, sometimes you wonder what the party was thinking when they did that. And I think that was the case back in 1988 when a different little-known Southern governor took the podium in Atlanta. Remember this?
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GOV. WILLIAM J. CLINTON (D), ARKANSAS: The fundamental fact of 1988 is that we can‘t take our prosperity for granted anymore in this competitive world economy. We‘ve got to work harder...
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NORVILLE: Now, that‘s the red light that was telling Bill Clinton from Arkansas to zip it up. But people had given up. They were having conversations. They were checking the sports scores. And Bill Clinton went on and on and on. And yet, speaking for 32 minutes and being ridiculed for that didn‘t seem to hurt his political career.
Steven Ford, how is that possible?
FORD: Well, President Clinton loves to talk. We know that. He‘s a great communicator. You know, that was a showcase for him.
And sometimes during conventions, you know, people show up at the party and you know, a new candidate, a new face that energizes the party. And that certainly happened with Bill Clinton, obviously.
I was thinking back to the convention we had in Kansas City. It wasn‘t predestined who was going to be the Republican nomination. My dad, President Ford, had to fight Ronald Reagan very—it was a long, hard fight at the convention.
FORD: It got down to I think the delegates of West Virginia. And it‘s alphabetical, so you know how close it had to get to get to West Virginia. It was a tough fight. And we barely beat Ronald Reagan for the nomination then and then ran against Chip‘s father, President Carter. So conventions can be tough.
NORVILLE: Well you know what? Frankly, those were the days when it was interesting. You sat on the edge of your seat to see what West Virginia and Wyoming were going to do, because it mattered.
Skip, you remember those days.
NORVILLE: Sorry, go ahead.
FORD: I was going to say, think about this. In 1980, President Reagan asked dad at one point to be his vice president, instead of George Bush. And dad actually considered it. And then they figured out that it just probably wouldn‘t be a good working relationship.
But can you think the change in history if dad had become vice president for Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr. had not become vice president. It would have been changed history quite a bit.
NORVILLE: I think it would and different people might be appearing on this program right now.
FORD: That‘s right.
NORVILLE: We‘re going to take a short break.
When we come back, more on the convention and breaking with convention. Ron Reagan, son of the late president, will be speaking, as you know, at the Democratic Convention next week. What is that all about?
We‘ll find out in a moment.
NORVILLE: Ron Reagan, son of a Republican president, is speaking at the Democratic National Convention. How does that muddy the political waters?
Find out with our all-star panel next.
NORVILLE: Back now with our panel.
Have the political conventions gotten so predictable you got to go to the other side of the aisle to come up with some interesting speakers?
Skip Humphrey, as you know, Ron Reagan is going to be speaking at the convention this week. What does that say about the Republican Party and the Democratic Party?
HUMPHREY: I don‘t what it says about the Republican Party or the Democratic Party. But I think it‘s great. And I think he‘s got a message and he is deeply concerned about a number of things.
And so, we‘re going to hear and see a fresh face. And I think that‘s part of the whole business of conventions, is to introduce people and in a sense to get those convention delegates—give them something to have attention to. And I just think it is going to be great to hear.
NORVILLE: Yes, but, usually, the introduction is somebody in your own party. And we have a pretty good idea of what Ron Reagan is going to be talking about. He gave a preview the other day in an interview. Here‘s a brief glimpse.
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RON REAGAN, NBC CONTRIBUTOR: I don‘t care which way they think I‘m leaning. I‘ll make it very clear that I‘m not a Republican or a Democrat and I‘m there to speak on the specific issue. Again, this is nonpartisan. There‘s nothing to do with Republicans or Democrats about this. This is human health. This is the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: Skip, of course, what he‘s talking about is stem cell research, something that‘s very important to him and to his mom, Nancy Reagan.
Do you think that his appearance can really be viewed as apolitical, the way he‘d like it to?
HUMPHREY: Well, some people are going to take it as partisan.
But, once again, he‘s talking about an issue that rises above the partisanship. There are some of these issues, whether it‘s terrorism or health care or even the education question, really is much more than one party or the other‘s point of view. So I‘m really glad that he‘s there to speak out and speak out positively about it.
NORVILLE: And, Tucker, can you ever envision stepping over to the other party‘s side to speak at their convention, even if it were an issue that were, as Mr. Humphrey says, that‘s bigger than politics?
QUAYLE: Well, I guess it would depend on the circumstances. Obviously, he feels that this is a great stage for him to get on. I think the Democrats are really taking this to politicize the Reagan name more than anything else and more taking advantage of Ron Reagan than really giving him a platform to stand on.
NORVILLE: Chrissy, is this going to be a part of the platform for the Democratic Party, stem cell research, in a very specific way, since Ron Reagan is talking about it?
GEPHARDT: I think that it is part of the Democratic platform. I think that this is a big issue in terms of health care and in terms of treating diseases and diseases that we know very little about. And so I definitely think that it‘s going to be a major issue.
NORVILLE: You know, it‘s funny, talking about the platform. It used to be, just like you waited on the edge of your chair to see what West Virginia was going to do, there was this big tussle about which planks would be in the platform and which issues was the party going to stand for.
It doesn‘t seem like that happens anymore.
Steven Ford, what‘s different today that it‘s all so well planned before anybody ever gets to the convention city?
FORD: Well, it was different back then, because, you know, if Ronald Reagan had won the nomination, the Republican platform would probably have been much more conservative, where dad‘s politics, he was a moderate Republican, worked both sides of the aisle of Congress. And so it did make a difference.
But, you know, you‘re right. It‘s all planned out well in advance. Those issues are brought up months and months and months in advance. And, you know, the stem cell research issue, I don‘t think anybody is going to cast a vote because of that particular issue. It might go into the mix.
FORD: But you look at President Bush, I think it‘s a spin on both sides. He‘s just doesn‘t want federal funding. Private research goes on all the time. And so it depends on what side is being spun there.
NORVILLE: But, you know, Chip, I wonder if this there was this tussle about the platform, it would certainly make it more TV-friendly. It would be more interesting to watch. And I wonder if it wouldn‘t have that effect that this convention is supposed to have, which is getting people energized, that the tussle of it would get folks excited about that party‘s candidate.
CARTER: Well, I‘ve been at conventions that have done both. And I like it when the party is united and we‘ve decided what we‘re going to run for and run on, and that everybody kind of takes the same message out and preaches that to the American people.
You started talking about Ron Reagan. It‘s very interesting to me that he‘s been able to use the celebrity that he got while he was first family and take it on and really go out for a single cause this way. And I think it‘s very good he‘s speaking to the Democratic Party. I don‘t think he‘s trying to get votes. I just think he‘s trying to persuade people out in the audience that this is an issue that should be had. And I think he‘s doing a great job.
Well, you know, every now and then, there are surprises at political conventions. One of our guests was very surprised when his dad called and said, guess what, I‘m going to be the next vice presidential candidate.
When we come back, we‘ll relive some convention memories with our panel.
And here‘s a sight for you, Jenna Bush, campaign kid for the president, with a presidential hello to the cameras. When we come back, the role of kids on the campaign trail.
NORVILLE: As it gets closer to the political conventions and the November election, candidates pulling out all the stops. And that includes using their children on the campaign trail.
After three years away from the spotlight, President Bush‘s daughters, Jenna and Barbara, have now been out campaigning with their father. And word is they will be making speeches soon.
Jenna Bush had a bit of a moment earlier this week in Saint Louis. As her limousine passed photographers and reporters, she said hello by sticking her tongue out at the media. Perhaps that is something her father wishes he could do from time to do.
And John Kerry‘s daughters, Vanessa and Alexandra, and his stepson Chris Heinz have all been out stumping with the senator. And while John Edwards‘ younger kids are a little bit too small, Emma and Jack have also been seen with their dad as he crisscrosses the country. Their older daughter, Cate, though, will be introducing Mrs. Edwards at the convention in Boston later this week.
So what impact do kids have on the campaign trail? We‘re back with the sons and daughters of some of America‘s biggest politicians past and present, Chip Carter, Steven Ford, Chrissy Gephardt, Skip Humphrey, and Tucker Quayle. Said it too fast for the director.
I‘m curious, do you really think it makes a difference. Chrissy, when you‘re out stumping for your dad, as you were earlier this year, were you able to see the light go off in people‘s eyes and go, I got them?
GEPHARDT: It really does make a difference.
I think that when people see the candidate‘s child, the son or the daughter, that it has a humanizing effect. I think that they see that the candidate is a father or a mother. And I think that we can talk about the personal qualities of the candidate in a way that they can‘t. And I think that people really connected to me in a way that, you know, information they could have never gotten from my father, just because he couldn‘t simply talk about it.
NORVILLE: Tucker, you had a little bit different experience. You were in high school. You had no idea that dad was going to be anywhere close to the presidential campaign back then. Tell us about how you found out that dad was going to be involved with George Bush in a very large way.
QUAYLE: Right. Well, we vaguely even understood that he was on the short list. And they went off to New Orleans and we just figured they were just going off to another convention. My brother and I got a phone call on a Sunday morning or some summer morning.
And it was my father saying, hey, I‘m going to be vice president. And we were like, yes, right, whatever. You‘re pulling our leg. My dad likes to play a lot of practical jokes and we figured this was one of them. And he is like, he had some convincing to do and finally gave up and said, look, if you don‘t believe me, in 10 minutes, you can look on TV and find out for yourself. And we sort of believed him then. And, boy, do we believe him now.
NORVILLE: So it wasn‘t until you saw the thing on network television, where George Bush announced that Dan Quayle would be his running mate, that you really believed your father?
QUAYLE: You know what? I think it wasn‘t until we stepped off the plane in New Orleans that it really started to settle in that this was the real deal.
It‘s just something different. It‘s something that you really can‘t anticipate or even prepare for. And we were certainly very unprepared for it.
NORVILLE: I know you were quickly flown down to New Orleans to be a part of the convention in ‘88. What do you remember specifically about it?
QUAYLE: I just remember getting off the plane and really wanting to run right back on there. We just—the tarmac, and you have about 100 cameras, people yelling at you and telling you to move this way and that way and trying to smile. And it was pretty overwhelming for—I was 14. My brother and sister were 12 and 10. They were really overwhelmed.
Skip Humphrey, it was 1968 when your dad was on the ticket. And that was a convention that everyone remembers, certainly you better than most. What stands out for you?
HUMPHREY: Well, it obviously was a convention in stark contrast to the one that is going to occur in Boston next week.
In 1968, the thing that I remember the most was sitting in this box with my mother and watching what was going on and watching my father give a speech to the convention. And inside the convention, it seemed like there was some sense of unity. But right below us was a small, little TV monitor showing what was going on outside. And I can tell you, it was totally different than what was going on inside that convention.
NORVILLE: Yes, the streets of Chicago were just absolute mayhem. Did it give you a sinking feeling?
HUMPHREY: Well, it just meant that we were going to have to do an awful lot of hard work. And thank goodness my father had enough optimism to see that we were going to go forward and make things happen. And it darn near did happen.
Let‘s fast-forward to 1976. Steven Ford, your dad was running a hard campaign to get the nomination. As you said, it wasn‘t until the bitter end that you all were sure that he would get the nomination and not Ronald Reagan. Tell me about the acrimony of that campaign.
FORD: Well, the convention was very tough. I mean, there was a lot of animosity between the delegates, Ford delegates, Reagan delegates. And even after we won the nomination, it was hard initially to get the Reagan people to come over. And you‘re sad you‘ve lost.
And so it took about a month to get the Reagan people to come over and help us. And even Ronald Reagan, it was a while before he would go out and campaign with dad. So that didn‘t help us. And coming out of the convention, we were 31 points down to President Carter. And over the next two months, we got it to within 1 percent.
But, you know, I‘ll be honest with you. The convention energized me. I wanted to go out and campaign for dad. But, to be honest with you, when the election was over in the fall, personally, on a personal note, I was glad dad had lost.
FORD: Because I—well, I knew he was going to be home more. I knew he was going to live longer. He was going to spend more time with mom. And he had been president 2 ½ years. And that job takes a lot out of you.
So when I was looking at that Gephardt tape, my eyes kind of misted up there, thinking, I know what feels like. You want your father at home, and yet you want to support him. It‘s a tough decision.
Chip, your dad obviously won that contest. When you look at the campaigning that goes on today, it‘s so different from 1976, when you guys were out there pounding the pavement. The Bush girls did an Internet chat today. Can you envision what it would be like to be campaigning for president right now?
I was in Iowa a good bit for Howard Dean earlier this year. But it was different. You know, our campaign was the last one before the invention of the P.C. So we didn‘t have personal computers. We still had the little cards, eight-by-10 cards that you put names on and put them in a file Cabinet. So it was very different.
And I think the local media was a lot more important, because, you know, it wasn‘t—you didn‘t have national networks that you could really advertise on, no cable, that kind of thing. So it was very, very difficult.
Well, the convention starts on Monday night in Boston.
Real quick, I want to give each of you a chance to say who you‘re most looking forward to hearing from. And you‘re not allowed to say John Edwards or John Kerry.
Skip, you first. You‘re laughing loudest.
HUMPHREY: That‘s not fair. I want to hear both of them.
NORVILLE: I‘m a mother of three. I don‘t have to be fair.
HUMPHREY: Oh, goodness. I just want to hear them all. I‘m going to listen to all of them. I‘m a political junkie. And so I‘m not going to choose.
NORVILLE: All right, I‘m going to let him speak for everybody, then, because nobody‘s going to say anything different. I know that.
Chip Carter, Steven Ford, Chrissy Gephardt, Skip Humphrey and Tucker Quayle, thanks all of you so much for being with us. It‘s been lots of fun.
NORVILLE: And when we come back, former first lady Nancy Reagan and rMDNM_some U.S. sailors pretty happy to be home, that qualifies as this week‘s “American Moment.”
NORVILLE: This week‘s “American Moment” takes place off the coast of San Diego, as the nation‘s newest aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan, headed to its new home port for the first time.
Former first lady Nancy Reagan flew in on a helicopter and greeted some of the 3,600 sailors on board. It was her first public appearance since the former president‘s funeral.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY REAGAN, FORMER FIRST LADY: And although the last six weeks have been difficult and today is very bittersweet, I am so honored to be here as the USS Ronald Reagan comes into home port. Ronnie would have loved the sight of this great ship coming into his beloved California. I know how proud he was to have this ship named after him. And, in my heart, I know he‘s looking down on us today and smiling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: The USS Ronald Reagan is the most high-tech vessel in the U.S. Navy and it has got some smaller touches as well.
There are remembrances of the former president on board, such as movie posters hanging in the dining room. The carrier was christened in Virginia last year, the first to ever be named after a living president. It set sail from Norfolk in May, and its crew learned of the former president‘s death while at sea. It made a trip around the tip of South America to its arrival in San Diego. And that is this week‘s “American Moment.”
You can send us your ideas and comments to us at NORVILLE@MSNBC.com.
And that‘s our program for tonight. Thanks so much for watching.
MSNBC‘s coverage of the Democratic National Convention from Boston begins this weekend. It continues all through next week, beginning Sunday with a battle for the White House special hosted by Chris Jansing, Chris Matthews, Brian Williams and Tom Brokaw. Convention coverage is right here all next week, so be sure to tune in.
Coming up next, a “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY” special report, “The 9/11 Report: A Call For Action, Isn‘t the Time Now?” Joe calls on some of his former colleagues in Congress to come up with a battle plan.
That is our program for tonight. A special edition of “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY” is next.
Thanks for watching. Have a great weekend.
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