Guest: Joe Trippi; Rob Reiner
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Hey, welcome back to the convention AFTER HOURS. I‘m Joe Scarborough with Ron Reagan.
Ron, I‘m not really sure about that music, I mean, we‘re in Boston, they should be playing bagpipes or be playing like, Aerosmith or even the band Boston.
RON REAGAN, RONALD REAGAN‘S SON: Boston. I love the bagpipes. I‘m a big bagpipe fan.
SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, the bagpipe thing would work. We‘re going to have to try that for tomorrow night but for tonight, John Kerry‘s wife and his former rivals tried to sell the democrats to the American people on day two of the national convention.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWARD DEAN, FMR. GOVERNOR OF VERMONT: For the next 100 days, I‘ll be doing everything that I can to make sure that John Kerry and John Edwards take this country back for the people who built it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Of course, I‘m Joe Scarborough, coming to you live from Nathaniel Hall in Boston.
REAGAN: And I‘m Ron Reagan, and we‘re here all week keeping you company AFTER HOURS. Still to come at this hour: Your phone calls, just give us a ring at 888-MSNBC-USA. We‘d love to hear from you. Plus, Chris Matthews‘ interview with actor and Kerry supporter, Ben Affleck.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, that‘s big.
REAGAN: That‘s coming up a little later.
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s big. Right now we‘re back with Katrina vanden Heuvel; we‘ve got Joe Trippi, Lawrence O‘Donnell and also have Pat Buchanan.
Pat, we haven‘t heard from you for a while. Give us your lead on, again, the entire evening and what John Kerry needs to do. Obviously, the “Washington Post” poll that came out today isn‘t really seen as good news in the Kerry camp. What‘s he need to do between now and Thursday to turn those numbers around?
PAT BUCHANAN, FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, let me just say, two days, I think, you got Bill Clinton, really, uncorked one last night. I think it was an excellent speech. Ted Kennedy was not up to what he did in 1980, he‘s not near that form. I think that‘s the party of yesterday. I think Ron did a fine job; Teresa Heinz did a fine job; Obama‘s a figure of the future.
But I still think what Larry O‘Donnell said is important. When Kerry goes out there, that crowd is something else. It pumps you up, it lifts you up. It gives you an opportunity to really soar and, sail but it is going to be up to John Kerry himself, and truth be told, he might be a good debater against Bill Weld, but except for that Iowa victory speech, which I thought was outstanding, I have never seen John Kerry be a truly interesting, arresting, and moving figure. And I think the country‘s going to be looking to him. It‘s going to be expecting a tremendous amount from him and an awful lot is riding on it because I do believe Kerry has been fading. I think the “Post” is right. Kerry has been fading for a month, now. Five out of the six major categories of leadership, he has fallen further and further behind the president. This is his opportunity and frankly the crowd alone can‘t do it for him. He‘s going to have to deliver.
SCARBOROUGH: Lawrence, how long did you work for John Kerry?
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, MSNBC SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I didn‘t work with him, I worked with Senator Moynihan on the Senate, but on the democratic side with John Kerry in the caucus for several years and certainly watched his career develop as soon as he started running for office in Massachusetts.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, explain something to me then, since you‘ve been following this guy for a while. And I just want to follow up on what Pat Buchanan said. I remember watching this guy deliver a speech in Iowa. He lit up the screen.
SCARBOROUGH: And that‘s—of course, he looked so good, that‘s when all the stupid botox rumors started, because they said, this isn‘t the John Kerry we‘ve been seeing because he was so effective. The next week, he wins New Hampshire, and I‘m looking at a grim politician again. What is it about John Kerry that some nights he‘s on, some nights he‘s off? And certainly, again, that Iowa night was just a remarkable night for him.
O‘DONNELL: Well, you know, he comes from that side of Boston that is a little cooler, a little more distant, less emotional in presentation. He‘s not a self-Boston Irish pol (PH). Those guys, when you give them a microphone, they don‘t make speeches, they sing.
O‘DONNELL: Monday night, the first thing I went to here was a bunch of former Irish politicians here, who were just singing the night away. John Kerry‘s more reserved, he‘s got more Ivy League in him than he Irish in him, and so that‘s what you see. You see it something that‘s a little more professorial. But when he knows it‘s on line; when he knows has to deliver, he will deliver a shock to a campaign, an opposing campaign, that thinks he doesn‘t have it, and Joe Trippi‘s sitting here beside me,
JOE TRIPPI, FMR. CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR HOWARD DEAN: Yeah, I can totally...
O‘DONNELL: ...because John Kerry did that. Joe Trippi would be managing the presidential nominee if it wasn‘t for what John Kerry did in Iowa.
TRIPPI: I‘ve said it before and I‘ll say it again, he was face down in the dirt. Anybody else in any other campaign I‘ve been in, would just crawl off the field and this guy got up and came back. And anybody in the other campaign Bush-Cheney...
O‘DONNELL: And meanwhile, Howard Dean was (UNINTELLIGIBLE). It‘s not like Howard Dean quit. Howard Dean was still giving great speeches and Joe was on the sidelines going, “This guy is going to go.” Kerry came from out of nowhere.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, “THE NATION”: But, I don‘t think you can forget—I don‘t think you can forget, I—this is—this election will be a referendum on Bush‘s failed agenda. Kerry has to define himself, yes, but Bush will undo himself in this next period.
REAGAN: But, Kerry needs to give him some help. There‘s been a sort of continuing theme throughout the coverage and throughout campaign, Kerry comes through in the crunch.
REAGAN: So what I‘m...
VANDEN HEUVEL: He closes the deal.
REAGAN: He closes the deal. See, I‘m wondering, and everybody‘s looking for him to do that, here at the convention, it would be a logical place to step up to the plate. After all, if he only gives an OK speech, not a bad speech, but not a great speech, does he really do himself damage?
VANDEN HEUVEL: I still think there is so much energy, not just in Boston, but around the country, energy—it‘s an interesting phenomenon, Joe and Lawrence have followed this, but tough around Kerry all of these independent groups building capacity, for the future of the Democratic Party.
SCARBOROUGH: Isn‘t the problem, though, that the energy is more against George W. Bush than it is for John Kerry?
VANDEN HEUVEL: It‘s a mix of both. I think it is both.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s not a 50-50 mix from what I‘ve seen. Do you think it‘s a 50-50, come on, let‘s be honest?
VANDEN HEUVEL: Oh, I think that there is. There is a sense of John Kerry, as he‘s been defined in these past two days, as a man who is strong and wise and serious and sober.
SCARBOROUGH: You voted for the four.
VANDEN HEUVEL: And you do the contrast. You do the contrast. But there is an energy to take back this country. I‘m not just talking about fate...
SCARBOROUGH: But from George Bush.
VANDEN HEUVEL: ...to take back this country, to...
TRIPPI: No, you know Joe, I really believe this. I think it started that way. And I‘ll be straight, I mean I think that‘s what Dean tapped into, but something happened midway through this thing where people woke up and said, hey, my vote counts. What I‘m doing out there counts. No, no, no—and that I can...
SCARBOROUGH: And I‘m not knocking John Kerry here, I‘m just asking a question. Who is excited in America about John Kerry except for people that think they can close this gap?
VANDEN HEUVEL: They may not be excited, but it‘s concern. I took a taxi today...
SCARBOROUGH: Concerned about George W. Bush.
VANDEN HEUVEL: ...talked to a woman from Colorado, a conservative town in Colorado who said to me, every week, in these last months, someone has come up to her, a conservative, and said, “What is going on with this administration? This is not a conservative administration. This is a radical reactionary extremist administration.” That, I think, is the shape of things to come.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Lawrence though, in 1992, and I was talking about people earlier today, people said “This is the same thing as 1992.” I said, “No, it‘s not. In 1992, people went out, they voted for Bill Clinton.”
O‘DONNELL: Well listen, this point you‘re making about the excitement for John Kerry, it isn‘t present. Let me tell you something. It has never been present in his entire career. He does not win in Massachusetts on excitement. He gets out there and he is the candidate that wins your vote. He does not win your heart. And let me tell you, these Boston pols, all these guys that I know around here, none of them love John Kerry. There is no elected official in Massachusetts who thinks John Kerry is his best friend. John Kerry lives at a certain distance from Boston politics. He doesn‘t...
SCARBOROUGH: He sounds like a democrat‘s Richard Nixon.
O‘DONNELL: No, no, no. He closes it on competence. He gets into a debate.
O‘DONNELL: No, no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
SCARBOROUGH: You know what I‘m saying?
O‘DONNELL: I know what you mean. Right.
SCARBOROUGH: Republican, republican
O‘DONNELL: Nixon was not loved.
SCARBOROUGH: People in middle America didn‘t love Nixon, but it was a strong, steady hand, people thought.
O‘DONNELL: I think Kerry is much warmer than Nixon. I accept that comparison, but Kerry is not going to win this on excitement and on affection for him personally. He‘s going to win it, if he does, on a demonstration that he has the competence to do this job. That‘s the way he‘s always closed the campaigns here in Massachusetts.
REAGAN: Talk about being damned with phrases—“warmer than Nixon.”
VANDEN HEUVEL: Well...
SCARBOROUGH: Joe Trippi, you wanted to say something.
TRIPPI: I wanted to say something about two of the other speeches tonight, because I think something happening. Senator Kennedy spoke at this convention, 24 years ago today, I was at the 1980 convention as a floor manager for him in Texas and Utah.
SCARBOROUGH: Was that 24 years ago today?
TRIPPI: Pretty close to today.
TRIPPI: The same timetable. And he gave that speech. At the end of the speech he said “The cause endures, the work goes on, the hope still lives, and dreams will never die.” And I‘m sitting here today, because that man inspired me to go out and make a difference. And tonight, Howard Dean, any difference I made in this entire campaign was because Howard Dean inspired me to get involved again. And for the two of them—you know, there were a bunch of 24-year-olds out there like me, 24 years ago today, who are looking at Howard Dean, and that speech inspired them to go make a difference and to keep doing that. I think it‘s something that people need to realize, that all across this country, young people got involved in this election because of him...
SCARBOROUGH: You know what‘s remarkable?
TRIPPI: And it left me—you know, it really makes a difference with people.
SCARBOROUGH: We have to go to a break, but I wanted to say this right here. It‘s time for us to say time out because—you know, we hear the screaming, we hear the yelling, we hear the hatred, you talked about how one speech changed your life.
SCARBOROUGH: If Ronald Reagan—two things changed my life: Ronald Reagan in 1980 and reading Author Schlesinger‘s book on Bobby Kennedy. And I saw so many examples with Bobby Kennedy, how one man really did help change America. And your father, for me, one man stood up and said, “I don‘t care what the republicans have done on Dayton (PH), I don‘t care what the democrats have done. I‘m going to call a spade a spade and he spoke to dissidents behind the iron curtain.
Tonight, I think, when you see Howard Dean, a lot of people think he was crazy. You know what, though? Howard Dean believed in something. He went out and put it on the line. And I know he‘s inspirerd a lot of people. And 20 years from now we may be hearing them talk about, I got into politics because of Howard Dean.
TRIPPI: Exactly what‘s going to happen.
VANDEN HEUVEL: But Joe, you know, it‘s also the 20th anniversary of the Rainbow Coalition. You may think what you want to of Jesse Jackson, Sr., but he has contributed an enormous legacy in terms of Omam—Obama—Obama—Barack Obama, comes out of that legacy, as did Carol Mosley Brawn—very different. As did Tammy Baldwin, who spoke last night, as did the late great Senator Paul Wellstone who worked for Jesse. And I think those legacies have inspired people and Barack Obama tonight probably inspired, as a multiracial candidate.
SCARBOROUGH: And, and, and he‘s...
VANDEN HEUVEL: I say, like the Tiger Woods of Democratic Party politics because he has this interesting multirarely background, which I think will be the future of our politics because that is the future of this country.
SCARBOROUGH: And how many people did he inspire? You know what, it‘s the truth. You hear it all the time, it sound clich’, but in politics, as everything else, we stand on the shoulder of giants. We really do.
Well, stay with us because coming up: you‘re going to hear—speaking of giants, who is on Ben Affleck‘s mind these days? And it‘s not J.Lo. How‘s that for a sedgeway? We‘re going to be back with more of the Democratic National Convention, AFTER HOURS.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: I was hoping for a reception like this. I was just kind of hoping that it was going to be on Thursday night instead of Tuesday night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REAGAN: This little gathering here in Boston has certainly brought out the A-list of the Democratic Party and it also attracted some of Hollywood‘s A-listers, as well. One of the celebrities getting a lot of attention is Ben Affleck who grew up right here in Boston. Earlier this evening Affleck talked with our colleague Chris Matthews.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HARDBALL: When you saw Arnold Schwarzenegger get elected governor of California last year rather handily in a big surprise entry into politics, a man that wasn‘t born in this country, did you have a little tingle that said maybe me someday, governor, senator, president?
BEN AFFLECK, ACTOR: Well, I thought at least, you know, if I did get elected nobody could accuse me of being the worst actor who ever got elected to public office. But, I think—you know, the thing about that election, was that it was a pretty unique set of circumstances...
MATTHEWS: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) girlie-man. You better be careful.
AFFLECK: I am (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a girlie-man.
MATTHEWS: Why did you take that shot? How many people here would like to see Ben Affleck run for office?
MATTHEWS: And now it will get back to you for what you said about taking my job, so know Ben, here‘s where I get back at you. This is not “Success” magazine, this is “Hardball.”
MATTHEWS: How many would like to see Matt Damon run for office?
AFFLECK: I thought that was a little quieter.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Ben, because this is something I‘m thrilled with. Darrell Hammond does me rather well, in fact I try to do him sometimes, he‘s so damned good at me. I have heard through the grapevine, through my producers who work with me, that you can do me.
AFFLECK: Not as well as Darrell Hammond, but—all right, Ben Affleck, you‘re on the show. What you do know? You‘re an actor, you‘re an idiot, tell us, I mean, what are you hear for? What have you got? I‘m sitting with David Gergen on the staff with four presidents. What do you know, why am I talking to you? Go ahead answer.
How is that? Is that all right.
MATTHEWS: I think that was Howard Cosell, but nice try.
MATTHEWS: Bottom line, let me ask you this, because I want you to be a pundit because you said you can do this line of work, if you call it work. Let me ask you this. Put some moral money down on the table right now, we‘re not talking currency, we‘re talking your intellect, which is obviously well beyond any expectation, just kidding again.
Let me ask you this. Who is going to win the general election for president this year after it‘s over, November 3, you pick up the “New York Times,” the “Boston Globe,” and the “L.A. Times,” who will it say won the election?
AFFLECK: I believe, right now, we‘ll say that John Kerry won the election. I do believe it‘ll be very, very close. I think it‘s going to come down again to—you know, a few thousand votes here, a few thousand votes there. I mean—you know, New Hampshire, in and of itself, could be a swing state...
MATTHEWS: Exactly a few electoral votes could do it.
AFFLECK: ...by 7,000 votes...
MATTHEWS: You think New Hampshire...
AFFLECK: I really believe it could.
MATTHEWS: sticks to the democrats this time?
AFFLECK: I think if they can get rid of the Nader vote. The Nader got 27,000 votes there and Gore lost by 7,000. That tells you a lot right there. I think that was really the difference in last year‘s election. If Nader is not in the race, Gore wins hands down. That‘s how narrow the margin is. If 500 more people, 18 to 34, voted in Florida or 500 more votes in Floridian‘s votes were counted, we would have had a different result. It was the most narrow election in our country‘s history, which I think is pretty outstanding. If that doesn‘t get you fired up to go to the polls and be involved, probably nothing will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: You know what? I knock Hollywood stars that say crazy things, but it‘s great when you have somebody like Ben Affleck who actually does care a lot about politics.
REAGAN: He does.
SCARBOROUGH: Gets involved. Doesn‘t really say wacky things, either. You know? He just comes here and is trying to help his party.
Let‘s go back to talking about speeches. We‘re talking about what John Kerry‘s going to be doing on Thursday night. We talked about the Kennedy speech in 1980. What‘s the connection between the guy that wrote the speech in 1980 and the guy who‘s going to be writing the speech in 2004 for Kerry?
O‘DONNELL: Well, it looks like it‘s the same author. Bob Shrum wrote that great one and he‘s with the Kerry campaign, now. He will have a lot of input into it, I don‘t think he will write it alone. Senator Kerry is a—an active speech writer. You don‘t just give him a document and he reads it. He‘s going to be heavily involved in it and there are other great writers in that team. And policy analysts—they have Gene Sperling, they Roger Altman, they have a bunch of people in foreign policy now, and so there‘s going to be a lot of input into it, but Kerry will be the guy who has to trim it down. He‘s going to be the one who has—going to have to say, let‘s get rid of that, let‘s get rid of that, let‘s make this smoother.
SCARBOROUGH: Will they be more efficient at doing that than say, Bill Clinton?
O‘DONNELL: I think he‘ll be, in fact, because he‘s actually had much more experience in speeches of this kind of totality. Senate speeches, you know, these governors when they run for the first time for federal office and they are running for the presidency, it‘s the first time they‘ve ever mentioned social security, it‘s the first time they‘ve ever mentioned forepolicy.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Can I just say, I saw a governor today, and I think I saw the future, as I saw it with Barack Obama—Jennifer Granholm of Michigan. She is extraordinarily impressive. I think we will soon see a move to have a Granholm/Schwarzenegger amendment. She was born in Canada.
SCARBOROUGH: I was going to say...
VANDEN HEUVEL: Yeah. She, I think she...
SCARBOROUGH: Get a Canadian against the Austrian.
VANDEN HEUVEL: But, you know, just to speak about Barack Obama, he will have a great future in the next year. He‘s going to win, obviously, in Illinois.
SCARBOROUGH: ...running against him, dropped out. I would hope so.
VANDEN HEUVEL: But, let‘s not forget the history of keynote speeches, right? I mean, Clinton was ruled out after he gave—what was it, an hour and a half, and when he said “in conclusion,” the hall erupted in applause.
VANDEN HEUVEL: And Ann Richards, you know those are different—those are different...
SCARBOROUGH: Pat, are you still with us, there?
BUCHANAN: I am, and let me just say—you know, talking on about Teddy Kennedy, Shrum wrote a great speech, but Teddy Kennedy was at the top of his game in 1980. I was in the hall, too, and Teddy Kennedy made fun of Ronald Reagan, who was my candidate, but he did it in a way with Irish humor and wit. I was laughing as hard as everybody else in the hall and he ended it magnificently. The problem is, this we don‘t have in the speaker Kerry coming on Thursday night, you don‘t have Teddy Kennedy in his prime, and I—Here‘s where I disagree with Lawrence. You not only have got to convince the country that we might want to try something new, that some of the policies of Bush haven‘t been working, you‘ve got to sell them, when you‘re in a presidential election, that this is the man to personify my country. And it‘s going—it takes more to do that than to win a senate election.
REAGAN: Pat, you know...
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, I‘m sorry, go ahead.
REAGAN: No, no, I‘m just...
SCARBOROUGH: I was just going to say he was talking about humor.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, through the next statement out here.
REAGAN: Well, I was wondering, Pat, you know, a lot of people have talking about Bob Shrum, he‘s written some great speeches, but he‘s never put somebody in the White House before, and I‘m wondering, do you think John Kerry really has the right people around him?
BUCHANAN: Well, I think—I mean, Shum as a writer is about as good as they come. But you‘re right, I saw—I saw a column the other day. He is “O” for seven, in presidential elections. I don‘t know this, you folks know the staffers around Kerry better than I do, but Clinton‘s people, clearly, they ran, what I think—Clinton‘s problems aside—a fairly successful administration, they had a successful president and they are all around him in terms of foreign policy, domestic policy, so I‘m sure he‘s got the people. The question is, do you got somebody up there that can throw the first game of the World Series and throw a shutout in John Kerry—and I‘m not sure.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, and a lot of people say that John Kerry obviously keeps his own counsel. Now Pat, you talked about Ted Kennedy‘s sense of humor.
SCARBOROUGH: We have—we want to show a clip from an HBO show where you appeared to have your own sense of humor, but also there is some confusion about weapons of mass destruction and bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches. Let‘s look at a clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
If you had the evidence that Saddam had these BTL‘s in his house, would you have said, “yes, attack?”
BUCHANAN: Not unless he had—if he had anthrax, if he had mustard gas, no.
Well, if (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
BUCHANAN: No. No, no. If he had mustard gas, no.
Let‘s say he didn‘t have mustard and BLTs just was plain. Would you been able to go in there then?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Pat, you realize that was all a joke. Were you just playing along?
BUCHANAN: Well sure, if you saw the whole thing—if you saw the whole thing, look when he came into the room, I saw this guy, he‘s about 6‘2” or something like this, in this aviator costume and glasses. He‘s a rap singer, so he starts off, he says this was for 18 to 24-year-olds in Britain, and stuff like that, but if you saw the whole thing about the BLTs, he started off with WMDs, so I just picked up on the whole thing. But it was a very entertaining session. He‘s a bright guy and you spotted he was putting you on when he threw out a couple of quips and if he was dumb he wouldn‘t have laughed, but he starts laughing at them. But it was a very entertaining, I will say this, hour and 20 minutes.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, I got to tell you did much better with him than Butros, Butros, Golly when they cornered him at the United Nations...
REAGAN: Or Brett Scocraw (PH)
SCARBOROUGH: Exactly. And asked the former head of the U.N. why Disneyland didn‘t have their own seat at the United Nations.
SCARBOROUGH: Coming up, Rob Reiner explains why anyone in Hollywood is as qualified as I am to talk about politics, stick around, that‘s coming up.
REAGAN: We‘re back AFTER HOURS, more of your phone calls are coming up. Call us at 888-MSNBC-USA. But first, let‘s get the latest headlines from the MSNBC News desk.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, some of the most politically active democrats, here in Boston this week, are names and faces that we see all the time up on the silver screen.
REAGAN: Tuesday night, NBC‘s Carl Quintanilla caught up with actor and director Rob Reiner, a one-time Howard Dean supporters who has now thrown his full support behind John Kerry‘s campaign.
CARL QUINTANILLA, NBC CORRESPONDENT: We‘re here with Rob Reiner, obviously, a well known director and actor and is also a well known political activist, as well.
This is your second convention?
ROB REINER, ACTOR AND DIRECTOR: Yes. I was in Los Angeles four years ago and then now this.
QUINTANILLA: Let me ask you, I mean, obviously a lot of the talk tonight, we‘ve got Bono on the floor, we‘ve got Ben Affleck talking, the role of celebrities in politics, has it been exploited? Has it been tainted? Has it been misjudged? What do you think?
REINER: You know, I think celebrities can serve a purpose to draw attention to a campaign or an issue. I don‘t think ultimately they have any more importance than anybody else. But if you do decide to steep yourself in an issue, as I‘ve done with early childhood, I think you can affect the agenda. You can move your agenda forward.
So you can have some power, but you have to know how to use it.
CARL QUINTANILLA, NBC CORRESPONDENT: So what happened in Radio City Music Hall? Did something go wrong that night? And do celebrities need to in some way hold their tongue more than anybody else would?
REINER: Well, I don‘t know that they need to hold their tongue more than anybody else. But when you‘re representing a candidate, you want to put the best foot forward for your candidate. You certainly don‘t want to draw attention away from the candidate by saying something that‘s stupid.
QUINTANILLA: I saw you in a room in Harlem in December when Al Gore was endorsing Howard Dean.
QUINTANILLA: Tell me how—what do you think of the twists and turns this race has taken since then?
REINER: You know, you couldn‘t write this primary season. I mean everybody had, you know, given John Kerry up for dead and Howard Dean initially didn‘t have a chance at all. And then the next thing you know he‘s riding high and then he‘s down in the dumps. So it‘s been unbelievable. It‘s like a thriller, twists and turns. But the fact is we‘re all united now behind John Kerry. I mean I‘ve never seen the Democratic Party this united.
QUINTANILLA: He‘s speaking tonight, Dean.
QUINTANILLA: Does any part of you wish it had gone differently, wish that he had carried this nomination all the way through?
REINER: You know, as it turns out, I think we‘ve got the best man at this time. He‘s the best man for this time. Given what‘s going on in the world and fighting this war on terrorism, we‘ve got a man who knows what it‘s like to take enemy fire, has acted in crisis and acted decisively in crisis. And I think we‘ve got the right man for the job at this point.
QUINTANILLA: If all that‘s true, why are the poll numbers still not tilting this way, at least convincingly? There‘s a new poll out tonight from the “Washington Post” that argues that Bush is still seen more solid on security.
Does that not seem ironic or somehow strange to you?
REINER: No. You know, you‘ve got a commander-in-chief that‘s been in office for four years. He‘s an incumbent president. I think you could make the, you know, the reverse comment, which is here you‘ve got an incumbent and he hasn‘t put the challenger away. He spent $90 million trying to destroy Kerry and here we are head up even Steven at this point.
I don‘t think the American public has gotten to know John Kerry. That‘s what this convention is about. He will speak on Thursday. And I think after the convention, people will see the kind of man he is. And when they make the comparison, it‘s not even going to be clear.
QUINTANILLA: Let me ask you a question. It might sound like I‘m trying to put words in your mouth, but of the knocks Kerry takes, the fact that he‘s a flip-flopper, or I guess the notion that he‘s a flip-flopper, the notion he‘s weak on defense, the notion he‘s a liberal, are any of those—do any of those have a danger of sticking?
REINER: Those are Republican notions. They‘re not reality notions. I mean if you look at John Kerry‘s record and what he‘s done and how he has fought so admirably for this country, I can‘t see how you can possibly say that this guy is not strong on defense. I mean it‘s just preposterous to make that statement.
But, you know, Republicans are going to work hard trying to position him in as bad a light as possible. But I think at the end of the day, the American public is going to see a very clear, decisive, strong leader. And, you know, this election is going to come down to which man would you want to be caught in a foxhole with—George Bush or John Kerry? I‘d put my money on John Kerry. He‘s actually faced enemy fire. He knows what it‘s like and he‘s acted decisively in a crisis.
QUINTANILLA: Rob Reiner, enjoy the convention.
QUINTANILLA: Thanks for your time—guys, back to you.
JOE SCARBOROUGH, ANCHOR: All right, Lawrence.
Obviously, Rob Reiner very measured there.
But how do you think these Hollywood stars going on stage at Radio City and also running around saying some fairly extreme things that obviously Rob Reiner wouldn‘t want them to say, or John Kerry wouldn‘t want them to say, how do you think that plays in middle America? And as a Democrat that wants John Kerry to be elected, does it make you twitch every time you hear somebody come out and make a stupid statement?
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, MSNBC SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I am an impartial newsman here. No, look, Rob is as smart as they get. I mean you cannot have a more high level policy discussion with anyone in Hollywood than what you can have with Rob Reiner. And so he is not, obviously, as you say, he‘s not one of the problems.
I‘ve talked to people in Hollywood. I‘ve talked to big stars that you would know in Hollywood who actually think that John Kerry should, if people in the entertainment community do something that is distinctly over the line, John Kerry should criticize that. He should say that person was not speaking what I think. He should find that moment—the Bill Clinton/Sister Souljah moment, if you will, from 1992, where Clinton got to say I don‘t think that. I think she‘s gone too far. And if he—and it would help Kerry to delineate.
It‘s not to say Kerry should hope some Hollywood star says something absolutely preposterous. But if they do, he should not be afraid of separating himself from that comment.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, “THE NATION”: I think the media made so much out of that Radio City Music Hall thing. I‘d lighten up. And, you know, there‘s an—this idea that what was said on that stage was amoral because they called Bush things millions of Americans believe is ridiculous when you consider...
SCARBOROUGH: They called him...
VAN HEUVEL: ... morality in a larger context.
SCARBOROUGH: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Katrina.
VAN HEUVEL: Think of the amorality of what Ken Lay, Bush‘s largest contributor, has done to thousands of his employees ravaging pensions. And just on the polls...
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, Ken Lay also, Katrina, was also and obviously afraid of Bill Clinton. But George Bush...
VAN HEUVEL: But Karl Reiner said something...
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second...
VAN HEUVEL: ... about the polls...
SCARBOROUGH: George W. Bush, though, was called a killer, a thug on stage...
RON REGAN, ANCHOR: So was Bill Clinton and so was...
VAN HEUVEL: So was Bill Clinton by very high level governmental...
REAGAN: So was Bill and Hillary Clinton.
SCARBOROUGH: Wait, hold on a second, though. There‘s a big difference. No, no, you said so was Bill Clinton.
VAN HEUVEL: There was a big difference, because it was like...
REAGAN: And Hillary Clinton.
SCARBOROUGH: The big difference was that...
VAN HEUVEL: It was by people like you.
SCARBOROUGH: ... Bob Dole didn‘t come up on the stage—no, you know what? You know what? That‘s offensive that you would say that. And I‘ll tell you why that‘s offensive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you say? I didn‘t hear what you said.
VAN HEUVEL: I said it was people like...
SCARBOROUGH: You said people like me.
VAN HEUVEL: Yes. You know why?
SCARBOROUGH: And let me...
VAN HEUVEL: Not you. Not you.
SCARBOROUGH: Let me one...
VAN HEUVEL: Congressmen.
SCARBOROUGH: Congressmen. And you know what? What I‘m saying is that when people would go up and say outrageous things about Bill Clinton, we would corner them in cloakrooms and say what the hell are you doing? Do you really think you‘re helping our cause by making personal attacks against Bill Clinton?
REAGAN: Well, let‘s...
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on. Hold on. You know why? John Kerry gets up on stage after George W. Bush is called a killer, a thug, a murderer and he says these people represent the very heart of America. I never once—and if I‘m wrong, please let me know—I never once saw a presidential candidate embrace that type of hate speech against Bill Clinton.
REAGAN: It seems to me—and maybe I‘m wrong and maybe I‘m biased—that there is a double standard of behavior here, that Republicans can say certain things and take a certain tone...
VAN HEUVEL: You get a pass.
REAGAN: And we just give them a pass.
VAN HEUVEL: I think that‘s right.
REAGAN: If Democrats say shove it, then everybody gets all aflutter about this and accuses...
SCARBOROUGH: But, John McCain was grilled...
REAGAN: No, no, wait a minute.
SCARBOROUGH: John McCain was grilled when he went after Maria Shriver.
REAGAN: John McCain, funny you should bring up John McCain. But do you remember what happened to John McCain in South Carolina? They went after his infant child. They went after his wife, accusing her of being a drug addict. They accused him of fathering a child with a prostitute. They knew better than that.
And, you know, I can‘t—there is a double standard of behavior here.
O‘DONNELL: Those things didn‘t actually make it into print anywhere. I think if you asked Vice President Cheney whether he thinks there‘s a double standard on whether Democrats get criticized more for use of language than Republicans do, I think you‘ll find that basically the Cheney treatment is somewhat equivalent to the Teresa Heinz Kerry treatment on what she said the other day...
SCARBOROUGH: Actually, we talked about it that long.
O‘DONNELL: It goes both ways. Oh, Cheney‘s story was on for like two days.
And people are still talking about it.
REAGAN: Two days and we‘re still talking shove it with Teresa Heinz Kerry.
SCARBOROUGH: No, but...
REAGAN: And she wasn‘t on the floor of the Senate talking to a senator...
SCARBOROUGH: Actually, Teresa Heinz Kerry‘s...
REAGAN: ... and using profanity.
anybody, you know, the thing...
VAN HEUVEL: Can I just say something?
SCARBOROUGH: Pat, Pat, let‘s bring Pat in.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hey, Joe?
SCARBOROUGH: I hear him laughing.
Pat, I‘ve got to tell you...
BUCHANAN: I‘m telling you, look, look...
SCARBOROUGH: Anybody suggesting that the Republicans are somehow treated more kindly by the “New York Times” and the mainstream media than Democrats, I‘m sorry, I‘m not living in that world.
BUCHANAN: No, I‘d go back to the days of Spiro Agnew. I‘m (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
VAN HEUVEL: Yes, (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
BUCHANAN: But I will say this. But I will say this. If Laura Bush turned around and went up to Lawrence O‘Donnell and said, “shove it!,” it would be on the front page.
O‘DONNELL: Oh, my god. It certainly would.
BUCHANAN: Come on, Larry.
REAGAN: Would Bob Novak—Pat, can I ask you a question? Would Bob Novak have then turned around and said of Laura Bush she is a scary loose cannon? Would he have said that of her?
BUCHANAN: Well, politically speaking, I mean everything I‘ve heard from you folks up there and I‘ve heard from others is that is a lady who will go out and speak her mind in a volatile way in the middle of a race that is dead even in a country that will take a lot more from a male vice president in an argument than it wants from someone who‘s competing with Laura Bush.
In this way, if Novak is saying there‘s a real possibility of an explosive statement here, I think he might be on the mark, Ron.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, Pat, let‘s have another time out here, OK?
SCARBOROUGH: Because what I‘ve been hearing about shove it, everybody says oh, that‘s unfair, she‘s speaking her mind. But at the same time, you know, you keep moving cameras on me, three, four. I‘m going here.
Here‘s another time out, because people will say gee, it‘s not fair. You know what? Let her speak her mind. But this is the way I look at it. If you‘re going to be on that stage. Let‘s say she‘s elected—or Kerry‘s elected and she‘s first lady and she says shove it to an international leader who‘s offended her. All of a sudden it becomes an international incident.
So whether it‘s Republicans that...
JOE TRIPPI: Yes, but that‘s saying that she would do that. We don‘t know that she‘d do that.
VAN HEUVEL: You know, Joe...
SCARBOROUGH: Wait. Let‘s let Pat answer.
VAN HEUVEL: You know this reporter. He had a history...
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on. Let Pat speak.
VAN HEUVEL: He had a history with the Heinz family.
SCARBOROUGH: OK, Pat Buchanan, now, follow up on my point.
BUCHANAN: But, look, it is...
VAN HEUVEL: He had a history.
BUCHANAN: Look, I mean, you can—I mean not even the international leader—I mean if you‘ve got someone with a first lady, it is a jolting statement to tens of millions of Americans. Now, I don‘t think it bothers all of us and all of us who‘ve been around political figures and we‘ve heard a lot of language and things like that. But out there in the country it got—still, there‘s part of America that‘s got this enormously high expectation of the first lady. And she is, if you will, the queen of the country. And you hear something like that, and I‘m telling you, in one of these dead close elections, it could turn votes.
SCARBOROUGH: It certain—you know what? It‘s certainly done...
SCARBOROUGH: I mean I was shocked, though...
REAGAN: Shove it? Who cares? Shove it. Big deal.
SCARBOROUGH: ... in the 2000 election when the Bush stuff came out on Friday. Everybody said oh, it‘s going to be such a big deal. I‘m like he had a DUI like 20, 30 years ago. You know what? Over the weekend, the polls, it just moved. I mean and...
BUCHANAN: It hurt him with the Christians, you‘re exactly right.
SCARBOROUGH: It really hurt...
VAN HEUVEL: Because he hadn‘t been clean. He hadn‘t been—he didn‘t come clean with the American people.
REAGAN: He hadn‘t been honest about it.
VAN HEUVEL: But, Joe, let me just go—let me just say one serious thing which Rob Reiner talked about. All of this talk about shove it and the Radio City Music Hall, he talked about the polls. I think we‘re understanding the fact that a majority of Americans now believe going to war was a mistake and a majority of Americans believe Bush misled them. I think that counts for something going into this volatile period.
You don‘t? Where the debacle in Iraq may well unravel in even more debilitating ways?
SCARBOROUGH: Well, let‘s see. You know what‘s interesting, and, you know, none of us know how this election is going to go. I know right now the economy seems to be turning around, in some areas. I know the front page of the “New York Times” talked about democracy possibly growing in Iraq today.
It‘s hard to say. But you know what? Those are the issues. Iraq and the economy are the issues.
VAN HEUVEL: And the economy.
SCARBOROUGH: Anybody trying to guess who‘s going to win this election...
REAGAN: But we...
SCARBOROUGH: ... tonight, even after John Kerry‘s speech, is just kidding themselves.
Now, keep the calls coming. We want to hear from you. Dial 888-MSNBC-USA.
And when the Democratic convention AFTER HOUR returns live from Boston, we‘re going to let Joe Trippi get his word in.
We‘ll be right back.
Rock and roll baby. Come on.
SCARBOROUGH: And we‘re back at CONVENTION AFTER HOURS.
I want to continue this point about unfair attacks against people. Let‘s talk about Howard Dean. Obviously, blasted, really, his election chances finished the night he gave that speech.
TRIPPI: Right. And that‘s what—I think there‘s something wrong when we start drumming a guy out of the race because he shows emotion, yells in a speech, when actually it was just the microphone that was out of whack, a bad advance job, and we‘re drumming a guy out of the race.
And the same thing is true, you know, when we‘re spending so much time talking about a comedian and what they said at Radio City Hall. I mean, and forget about Republicans and the double standards and that. We‘ve got to start taking responsibility in terms of how much that gets fed out there. Because it just, it just didn‘t make sense to me and it doesn‘t make sense that we‘re talking about this stuff again tonight.
I mean, shove it. I mean there—with all the problems we‘ve got in this country and with all—and with the real debate about the war, about the economy, about all the things that we should be talking about, you know, I just think that that‘s something we‘ve got to start talking about.
REAGAN: Well, we‘re going to find out what other people are talking about. Even as many networks are cutting back on their coverage of these increasingly predictable conventions, 35 influential and outspoken Web bloggers have been officially credentialed by the Democratic National Convention here in Boston.
Our Joe Trippi is one of those Web bloggers. And he‘s here now with Karl Frisch and Mathew Gross.
Well, what is the blog world saying tonight?
MATHEW GROSS, MATHEWGROSS.COM: Well, the blog world in general has been, you know, very impressed by Barak Obama, like a lot of other people tonight. And when Howard Dean came out on the stage tonight, you know, Howard Dean brought a lot to the blogosphere. He brought a lot of credibility to the blogosphere. And Joe Trippi was part of that. And, you know, that was a conscious decision that we made. I worked for Howard Dean. I was his chief blogger during the campaign.
And Joe and I made a conscious decision during the campaign to treat bloggers as influentials, as people with an audience who were reaching people and could influence how they felt and that people trusted. And I think the fact that there are 35 credentialed bloggers here at the Democratic convention are a direct result of that decision of Joe Trippi and myself and Howard Dean (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
SCARBOROUGH: Let‘s talk about the demographics of it, because I‘ve found this. Democrats are very good at blogging. Obviously, Joe Trippi, you were the Minute Man of that. I also find on the Republican side, you find—not conservatives so much as sort of the libertarian type Republicans, also, some of the more fascinating bloggers out there.
KARL FRISCH, KARLWITHAK.COM: Well, there‘s a reason why Democrats are better at it. That‘s because we actually do it. If you go to the Web and you look at George Bush‘s campaign Web site, he has a blog. He calls it a blog. They don‘t allow any comment or feedback to be given back to the campaign. Generally speaking...
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, can you just for somebody watching tonight that doesn‘t what a blog is, can you just briefly explain what it is and...
FRISCH: On a very base level, a blog is a way for people to express their opinions about any issue. It‘s not just a political thing—on their own Web site.
SCARBOROUGH: And there‘s a give and take that you‘re saying that Bush generally doesn‘t have.
FRISCH: If you go to the Kerry Web site right now, you‘ll see their blog has a post about X issue with 500 comments from the world commenting.
You go to George Bush‘s Web site, there‘s press release X with no ability to comment. That‘s why we‘re able to do this, is because we built communities around these sites. The Republicans are very much top down, whereas this is the new movement in politics that‘s from the bottom up.
SCARBOROUGH: Should there be another word for George Bush‘s Web site, not a blog but a...
SCARBOROUGH: Explain to us about this community that you built with Howard Dean, because it was truly revolutionary. You‘ve written a book about it. Talk about the book, talk about what happened in the campaign and how it will change politics. Obviously, the cover story of the “New York Times” magazine this week talking specifically about the type of campaign that you started this year.
TRIPPI: Well, you know, I wrote about it in the book, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” But it‘s because it‘s something that‘s happened at the grassroots, where you have this sort of bottom up involvement of people again. And, you know, Joe, you saw this out in Iowa, with those folks that came out there. And what happened—and I think it‘s really incredible that there‘s bloggers here, credentialed, to actually cover this thing, because it‘s a different angle. It‘s people from the bottom watching this, reporting it out...
TRIPPI: And, you know, we‘ve got our own “HARDBALL” blog now.
SCARBOROUGH: Exactly. But...
TRIPPI: It‘s hardball.msnbc.com.
SCARBOROUGH: I remember talking to you...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There it is. We‘re seeing it now.
SCARBOROUGH: ... the morning of the Iowa caucus, talking to you in the campaign. I saw all these young kids that came from all over the country because of the blogging. But this is the next question. Obviously it didn‘t translate into support in Iowa.
What‘s the next step? How do you take all of that support that you brought to Iowa and move it into the win column?
TRIPPI: You know, I think all these folks are out there, Matt and Karl and zillions like them are out there doing it every day right now. And that‘s what‘s incredible about it. Because they‘re—it‘s about involving people and having, you know, an exchange of a debate and a discussion and we don‘t have that much anymore, you know what I mean? We just talked about this is the segment before. We‘re sitting there talking about shove it. And these guys, you know, that‘s not what‘s going on with young folks.
FRISCH: And I think that‘s a misnomer that it didn‘t have an impact. I mean if you go to the world on the Internet right now, what happened in the Dean campaign is that the Web world made him a viable candidate.
SCARBOROUGH: It certainly did.
FRISCH: And it may not have translated...
SCARBOROUGH: On the Web.
FRISCH: But that was Iowa, OK? Iowa has one of the least wired communities in the entire United States of America. Had that been California, we would have seen something completely different. And I think what you see now with targeted congressional races, targeted Senate races, people raise hundreds of thousands of dollars online now, when that money was not available to them before. They‘re now able to make that viability an issue.
SCARBOROUGH: That is what got the most people interested in how much money Joe Trippi was able to get, again, from the grassroots.
But that‘s the most revolutionary part of it, too, that you don‘t have to depend on big corporations and big donors to create a national campaign.
FRISCH: Not in our party.
TRIPPI: Let me tell you what the most important moment in this whole election cycle—it wasn‘t the scream, it wasn‘t shove it. The most important moment was when 300,000 Dean people went to the Web, went on the Internet and voted to tell Howard Dean to opt out of the public funding system.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
TRIPPI: Because four days later, John Kerry opted out, too. And you know what that means? It means the Democrats weren‘t stuck at $45 million. John Kerry‘s got $182 million against George Bush‘s $214 million. 1.6 million people on the Internet have signed up for John Kerry. Average contribution, $108. And that‘s really changing things.
TRIPPI: I mean, you know, it really is.
SCARBOROUGH: It certainly will.
Now, make sure to check out “HARDBALL‘S” hardblogger that Joe was talking about. Just go to hardball.msnbc.com.
And we‘ll be right back with more AFTER HOURS live from Boston, so stick around.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, Rob, from Ohio, what did you think about Ron Reagan‘s speech earlier tonight?
ROB: I think it was awesome. My father, a World War 2 veteran of the 10th Mountain Division in Italy, is in intensive care as we speak. He has Alzheimer‘s and he‘s literally hours from dying. There are so many Americans that are experiencing what I‘m experiencing now and what Ron did also. With such a non-divisive issue, I just wonder if Ron will get an opportunity to speak to the Republicans about this issue.
REAGAN: It was such a moving speech.
And let‘s talk about that tomorrow night, that Ron...
We‘ve only got a couple of minutes left here.
Final thoughts from you guys?
VAN HEUVEL: I come back to your speech. I think tonight that Ron Reagan, Jr. spoke to this convention and...
SCARBOROUGH: I‘m not a junior. Just...
VAN HEUVEL: ... and laid out the stakes of what we face, a country that lives with reason or lives with ignorance, lives with enlightenment or lives with fundamentalism. And I think you said that well and I think you speak for many independents and many moderate Republicans, who are a dying breed in the party of right-wing sanctuary.
TRIPPI: Two of my heroes, Ted Kennedy and Howard Dean, spoke tonight. And really I think both of them inspired me and I think Howard Dean inspired a lot of kids out there and that‘s what I‘ll take away from tonight.
O‘DONNELL: I will leave you with the very few words of advice that Robert Frost, then and still the greatest poet of the American 20th century, gave to John Kennedy, President Kennedy, when he was running for president. John Kennedy grew up here, Irish, went to Harvard, very unusual in Kennedy‘s day. Robert Frost said to him, “Jack, be more Irish than Harvard.” And that is what John Kerry has to do. He‘s a Yale man, but be more Irish than Yale. Go to your soul, speak your heart, don‘t get too technical, don‘t get too professorial.
SCARBOROUGH: And as you said earlier tonight, Lawrence, when you‘re more Irish than Harvard, you sing when you‘re talking politics.
O‘DONNELL: That‘s exactly right.
SCARBOROUGH: So I want to thank everybody for being with us tonight AFTER HOURS.
REAGAN: Tomorrow, make sure to turn into MSNBC for full convention coverage. Tomorrow night‘s speakers include vice presidential candidate John Edwards, his wife Elizabeth Edwards, the Reverend Al Sharpton and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.
SCARBOROUGH: Thanks a lot.
And Pat Buchanan, Allie G., everybody else, thanks for being with us tonight.
We‘ll see you tomorrow.
REAGAN: Thanks, you guys.
SCARBOROUGH: And the band plays on. Yes, baby!
REAGAN: Got to get Allie G. on the show.
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