Guest: Doris Kearns Goodwin, Chris Heinz, Al Sharpton, Steve Buscemi
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We should choose a captain of our ship who is a brave, good man, who knows how to steer a vessel through troubled waters. So let us say to America in a loud clear voice: Send John Kerry! God bless you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews.
Welcome back to HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Democratic Convention
live from historic Faneuil Hall, which is the most popular real estate in Boston tonight, as you can see by these people.
Tonight, Senator John Edwards will make his big speech, the biggest of his life. That‘s coming up later tonight.
We‘re joined by “Newsweek”‘s Howard Fineman, who‘s also NBC News‘ political analyst, and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, and, back at MSNBC headquarters, Keith Olbermann is also joining us right now.
Keith, I‘d like to start with the person who‘s not on deck. Do you believe that the Democrats, John Kerry, picked John Edwards because he‘s the best possible vice president or because he was the most necessary running mate?
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST, “COUNTDOWN WITH KEITH OLBERMANN: So much has changed, Chris, in the concept of what the vice presidency is, both in the campaign and afterwards, in just the last quarter century that it‘s almost impossible to say.
I mean, if you think about how as late as 1972 when George McGovern didn‘t know enough about Thomas Eagleton to know that he‘d had shock treatments or 1960 when JFK handed the prize to LBJ in the middle of the convention, it was formerly an almost throwaway position with some historical reason for that.
Since the centennial, since 1876, only six vice presidents have wound up becoming president of the United States, and only two of them got that way by being elected to the job. So it‘s hard to answer that question with any confidence.
MATTHEWS: But is—it looks to me like we‘re in a throwback—let‘s go to the “National Anthem.” I think it‘s a throwback to the old days. We just pick the guy because he‘d be a good candidate.
Let‘s go right now to the “National Anthem” tonight sung by Brian McKnight.
MATTHEWS: Different versions of the dream. That‘s Brian McKnight with the “National Anthem.”
We‘re back with Keith Olbermann, Howard Fineman and Doris Kearns Goodwin.
The big question of the night: Is the man being nominated for vice president tonight the best man or best person for the job or the best candidate for the office?
HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he could turn out to be the best man, but, to answer the question you asked Keith before, he was chosen because he‘s the best candidate and the best salesman. This guy, John Edwards, is a terrific salesman. He did it in front of trial juries for decades.
MATTHEWS: What states can he close the deal in?
FINEMAN: I think he can help in a lot of states where he was able to reach swing voters, rural voters, undecided voters, the so-called soft Democrats. He‘s got a message that he developed on the campaign trail and wrote down in his press secretary‘s notebook in January, this two Americas speech. He wanted to give that tonight. He had trouble making sure he could give it. The Kerry campaign, trying to control all things, dial group tested this speech meaning that they...
MATTHEWS: How did he do?
FINEMAN: They had him practice, and they dial grouped with...
MATTHEWS: OK. Tell me what the results were. Did the...
FINEMAN: The results...
MATTHEWS: Did the hamsters like it?
FINEMAN: The results were he said to heck with the individual dial group, it‘s the overall theme that matters, and he insisted on his kind of speech that he developed on the campaign trail and that nearly allowed him to steal the nomination from John Kerry.
Doris Kearns Goodwin, great historian that you are, is this candidacy based on popularity or the ability to govern as vice president or to replace the president, if necessary?
DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, HISTORIAN: Well, there‘s no question they‘ll claim it‘s because they need someone to replace the president, if necessary, but that‘s just what they‘ll put out as pabulum.
The fact is they‘ve chosen him because they think he‘ll help them get to the White House, and I think the reason he might do that is he can really energize the base in a way that I‘m not sure at the moment Kerry can.
Nobody in the Democratic Party has talked about poverty for a long time until he has. That‘s the traditional Democratic stuff, and he‘s got amiability and passion, and most people either have one or the other and not both.
MATTHEWS: Keith, I was thinking tonight it‘s almost like the boxing equivalent of a weigh-in. This guy comes in tonight, and you see if he‘s got the poundage to take on Dick Cheney. Does he have the right punch? It‘s going to have to be a different—he‘s more like a Muhammad Ali going up against maybe a tougher, bigger guy...
FINEMAN: Sonny Liston.
MATTHEWS: Sonny Liston—because the other guy definitely looks stronger, but my theory is, if he simply says let‘s debate standing up for an hour and a half, Cheney‘s already getting wobbly and saying, you know, can‘t we sit down.
MATTHEWS: I‘m just guessing.
OLBERMANN: Cut me.
FINEMAN: Now that is not nice.
OLBERMANN: Cut me, Nick. Cut me. I think you‘ve got to bring Rocky into it now all of a sudden, too.
Yes, I mean, it‘s a little—it might be a little dangerous to compare any politician to Sonny Liston with his pre-boxing history, the trouble that he got into.
MATTHEWS: Well, he had a bad rap sheet coming into the bout. Yes, you‘re right.
OLBERMANN: Yes. I mean, you know, we might seem a little partisan, no matter who we‘re talking about there. But, yes, I mean this is—this whole thing, unfortunately—and I don‘t know very much about sports, as you know—but, I mean, the whole week...
OLBERMANN: ... has looked like—I mean, it‘s looked like Super Bowl week in which nothing happens for a week and everybody is intent on trying to convince everybody who‘s at home that something big is about to happen. There hasn‘t been...
MATTHEWS: Well, it‘s...
OLBERMANN: But when was the...
MATTHEWS: I‘m here working, not like you, and...
OLBERMANN: What was the last vice presidential news -- 1980?
MATTHEWS: I‘m working this crowd. Not like you, Keith. I‘m willing to say that this is a big night. This is a fight night, and, at the top of the card, we‘ve got John Edwards.
MATTHEWS: Now take that.
OLBERMANN: You guys shut me up a hurry. Goodness.
MATTHEWS: This crowd did because they‘re here because they know it is a big night because this country‘s got a big decision to make in November and a part of that decision is to take a look at both sides. They‘ve had four years to look at the other side. They want a big look at this side tonight.
Let‘s go to Chris Heinz now that I‘m torqued up here. Chris Heinz. God, I sound like Darrell Hammond. Anyway, Chris Heinz, stepson of John Kerry.
Chris, can you do an Arnold Schwarzenegger for me to get the evening rolling here?
CHRIS HEINZ, JOHN KERRY‘S STEPSON: It‘s good to be here tonight, Chris. You look great. You‘ve been working out.
Let me ask you about your mom‘s speech tonight. I—last night, I thought it was a great speech for about halfway through, and then she kept going. Why didn‘t she cut it off a little?
HEINZ: You know, I don‘t know. I liked it. I liked all of it. I was just amazed to see my mom speaking to the Democratic National Convention and see the room light up. It was, what, 20 minutes long? I think that‘s good for the last speech of the night. I‘m a concise speaker, and I was pretty happy with it.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about the best line. I thought the best line of her speech was when she talked about women not being—who have some brains and some education, like she certainly does, being—now listen to this.
I know it works. I know—it‘s working here—not being called outspoken, but being called smart and well informed. I thought that rung a lot of bells with people who work. As my wife has taught me to say, don‘t say working woman. Every woman works. Say women who work outside the home. You have to say that.
MATTHEWS: That‘s the key line. What do you think—why do you think she was able to reach that chord?
HEINZ: Well, you know, I think my mom is something that‘s pretty rare in public life, which is both a strong woman who has an opinion, as she was kind of insinuating, but who has ideas and wants to share them, but also has a soft, motherly side and is organic and people can connect to. So I think that‘s what makes her unique, and I think people react to it, and it seems genuine because it is.
MATTHEWS: Do you think that your mom is someone who people take to immediately or she‘s like coffee? I think she‘s more like coffee. I can‘t live without coffee, but my first taste of coffee was tough. But, you know, I really like it. Do you think people, the more they get to know her, the more she‘s going to be a hit out on the campaign trail?
HEINZ: You know, I think she‘s a little of both. You know, as time goes by, I think she ages well. I think that‘s also very, very true of my stepfather. I know that because I‘ve had 10 years to grow to love him. But, you know, I have a positive reaction to her.
It just depends on what community you‘re talking to. I think some people, as they walk in, want to have a negative image of her. She‘ll break them down, but if people want to embrace her immediately, then they‘re going to like her right off the bat.
MATTHEWS: Do you think that she is going to be reined in by the campaign? I mean, I loved it when she said that thing the other day. I didn‘t think there was any big problem with it. This reporter was a pain in the butt. He‘s giving her a hard time? Right or wrong, what‘s wrong with her saying what she thinks of the guy?
I remember George McGovern once saying you‘re the biggest horse‘s ass I met in this campaign to somebody who was complaining about the airplane not taking off fast enough. Don‘t people like that?
HEINZ: You know what. I think Hillary Rodham Clinton said it best. You go girl. I‘m all for my mom defending herself. Politics is a rough and tumble sport, and even the observers sometimes can create news. You know what? My mom is strong, and people react positively to that, and I‘m proud to be her son.
MATTHEWS: What is her gut reaction to the war in Iraq?
HEINZ: My gut reaction of the war in Iraq?
MATTHEWS: Hers. Your mom‘s.
HEINZ: Oh, hers. You know, anytime you send young people into harm‘s way, I think your first gut reaction is fear for people‘s lives being disrupted and lost, and then, you know, I think most people start thinking about what are the strategic consequences of something like this and how do we unwind them and how do we get America back to having respect in the world.
I think that‘s where we are in this. I think my mom, just like John, believes that a change in leadership in this country is how—is the biggest single step we can do to repairing relations.
MATTHEWS: She‘s got a very popular following, I know. We‘ve all seen it nationally in the last couple of days, in Western Pennsylvania. Do you think—do you think that she‘s going to play a big role in bringing that state home this time for the Democrats?
HEINZ: Well, we‘re all working. Our family loves Pennsylvania, and we have friends all over the state. My father was moderate enough to have a lot of Democratic supporters, and there‘s a lot of Republicans who used to vote for my dad who are supporting us. We want to win Pennsylvania, we‘re going to win Pennsylvania, and my mom‘s going to make a difference.
MATTHEWS: Has the Republican Party changed from the time that your dad, Jack Heinz, was a United States senator?
HEINZ: I think for certain the leadership has changed. You know, the Republican Party was based on some very, very basic ideals, at least as I was taught, and those among them are fiscal conservatism, you know, separation of church and state, a small federal government, and also really respecting the rights of individuals.
And, obviously, I think there‘s a really good argument to be made that this administration with its huge deficits, with the Patriot Act, and with a host of other things, and it has moved in the direction away from itself, and that gives us a chance to really connect with people who don‘t have a home and think of the Democratic Party in sort of an old style.
John Kerry represents the future, and he‘s going to do a great job governing this country come January.
MATTHEWS: Well, you guys did a great job. You especially out in Iowa. Good luck on the campaign trail.
We‘re coming back ourselves...
HEINZ: Thank you very much.
MATTHEWS: ... with Keith Howard—Keith, Howard and Doris—they‘re all different people.
And coming up, Al Sharpton is expected to address the convention shortly. He may speak longly. When it happens, we‘ll bring it to you live.
You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Democratic National Convention in Boston on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: I mean, sorry, but it was...
GOODWIN: I‘m doing fine. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to Boston. We‘re back with Howard Fineman, Doris Kearns Goodwin and Keith Olbermann.
I guess I was a little tough, however, in going to Chris Heinz and saying his mom‘s speech was too long, but I think everything I‘ve heard today was the speech was pretty well delivered, it was enticing, and then it went on an extra 20 minutes.
FINEMAN: Yes, it was way too long. She has a great story, and it‘s one that, if told in about 10 compelling minutes, it would explain the fact that the Democrats are a global party looking at the world and that she, given her roots in Africa, her five languages and everything about her perspective, is actually a very good thing for the party. And just all the charitable work she‘s done and...
MATTHEWS: What do you make...
FINEMAN: You don‘t have to take 40 minutes to say that.
MATTHEWS: All right. What do you make of my comparison to coffee? When we‘re all in our teenaged years or in our 20s, we start to drink coffee. Usually, we‘re studying for exams, and we develop a taste for it. But it takes a while to like black coffee. Do you think she‘s—would you make her an acquired taste, would you say?
GOODWIN: Well, she‘s sultry. She‘s an immigrant. She has a different kind of voice.
GOODWIN: Yes, I think she‘s sultry.
FINEMAN: I would agree.
GOODWIN: I wouldn‘t mind looking like her.
MATTHEWS: I keep thinking of a 1960s movie star from Europe, Anouk Aimee in “Man and a Woman” or Jeanne Moreau or somebody like that.
Let me ask you about the ticket, though. It seems to me the big challenge for—and check me on this, Keith, as well. The big challenge for this guy tonight is he‘s going to get the advantage of being—looking young. I mean, he‘s cute, he‘s young, he‘s very handsome. He looks much younger than his years.
He‘s 51, by the way, four years older than Richard Nixon was when he ran for president...
GOODWIN: Hard to imagine.
MATTHEWS: ... you know, a lot older than Jack Kennedy, eight years old, but yet he looks very young. That‘s a plus among some young voters and perhaps more so among young women voters and older women voters and older people, maybe.
But there‘s a risk there. He‘s up against a grownup. He‘s up against Dick Cheney who has got an I.Q. of about 160 or something, who can come back with that wallop the minute he starts bragging. Is that a danger, Howard?
FINEMAN: Yes. And the vulnerability point for John Edwards when he‘s in the ring with Dick Cheney is the fact that John Edwards voted for the war with enthusiasm, and then...
MATTHEWS: With enthusiasm.
FINEMAN: With enthusiasm. And then, like John Kerry, one of the few Democrats to switch and vote against the $87 billion, they‘re going to drive that and drive that and drive that on John Edwards.
MATTHEWS: And they should. You know why? Because if the war went well with few casualties, they would have been able to say, Kerry and Edwards both, I was right with the president, I was right with him, I backed the war, because they were hedging their bets.
GOODWIN: But I‘ll tell you, you look at the speech that Cheney made, his acceptance speech four years ago, he talked about all the promises of what Bush would do that Clinton had not done. Those promises have not been realized. So I think he‘ll be able to fight right back. He‘ll go on the rope and come back.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let‘s go back to Keith. Isn‘t that a challenge for the young guy to take on the older guy, not to look too callow?
OLBERMANN: Well, when you put the two of them together again, but, of course, does not, Chris, the inexperience issue of John Edwards at any point in this campaign always trigger as its own defense the then-inexperienced issue of George Bush when elected president in 2000, the comparative amount of time serving in office? Is the one not the trigger to the other? Is it not the double-edged sword then for the Republicans in bringing that up about Edwards?
MATTHEWS: Well, yes, but I think that—in the debate with Dan Quayle, there was a line that we never forgot, which was you‘re no Jack Kennedy, and it leveled the poor guy to the point where he asked for a moment of personal privilege or something and said, gee whiz, can‘t I come back on that. It was sad. It was the deer in the headlights. The ultimate deer in the headlines.
Anyway, the Reverend Al Sharpton, we‘ve gotten to know. He will be speaking in just a moment.
Keith, you‘ve taken a look at Sharpton‘s presidential campaign. What do you make of it?
OLBERMANN: Well, he never got traction, Chris. His issues did not become the party‘s issues as a rule. His constituency did not necessarily rally around him. His voice did not dictate the nominee. Certainly not tonight—did not dictate the vice president.
But when the Reverend Sharpton steps to that podium shortly, he will have behind him as impressive a collection of public appearances as any Democratic candidate in this or perhaps any other year.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sharpton! Sharpton! Sharpton!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sharpton! Sharpton! Sharpton!
REV. AL SHARPTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First of all, I call George Bush‘s tax breaks, even the small amounts that he gave working-class people—it‘s like Jim Jones giving Kool-Aid. It tastes good, but it will kill you.
In the long run...
His move to the right has killed the party. Running around a bunch of elephants with donkey jackets on doesn‘t fool nobody.
The issue in 2004 is not the gay marriage, the issue is not who you go to bed with. The issue is whether either of you have a job when you get up in the morning.
I intend in the next eight months to slap this donkey all the way from Iowa to the last primary. I intend to slap this donkey until it stands up for the American people. I intend to slap this donkey until this donkey kicks George Bush right out of the White House.
I wanted to say to Governor Dean, don‘t be hard on yourself about hooting and hollering. If I had spent the money you did and got 18 percent, I‘d still be hollering...
LARRY KING, HOST, LARRY KING LIVE: Al, do you expect to speak at the convention?
SHARPTON: I expect to accept my nomination. (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
OLBERMANN: Close. Slap that donkey. Regardless of the impact of his speech tonight, regardless of who wins on November 2, Al Sharpton will be the first out of the once huge Democratic presidential field to actually turn his run into a paying proposition. In October, his TV series, “I Hate My Job,” premieres, giving Al Sharpton, it is believed, the quickest leap ever from serious candidate for higher national office to boob tube regular, unless you count William Miller, the nearly anonymous vice president of the 1964 Republican ticket, who wound up doing commercials for a credit card company, coming on and explaining that he needed a credit card because people never seem to recognize him, which is not, Chris, Al Sharpton‘s problem.
MATTHEWS: You know, I think that Al Sharpton probably hurt this campaign. He was a humorist. Everything was a joke. He could always turn things around. He had a mind, it seemed to me, much quicker than the other candidates, and much more of a spontaneous human being. The important thing was, he wasn‘t actually running for president, and they were.
FINEMAN: It was not to be taken seriously, frankly. He was great...
MATTHEWS: They called him the cell phone candidate, because all there was to the candidacy was his and his cell phone, and maybe some old friend that was down below when he got...
GOODWIN: Think of the contrast between Jesse Jackson in ‘88, when that speech had the whole...
MATTHEWS: He was a real candidate.
GOODWIN: He was a candidate...
MATTHEWS: ... won states.
GOODWIN: Or you think of Obama the other night, last night, where he‘s a future candidate. This guy is entertaining, but there is no depth beyond it...
FINEMAN: I‘ll tell you what, they had 30 debates in the primary season. That was his medium, because having grown up in the New York media market, having learned how to survive in that shark tank, quick-witted, soundbites, funny, cutting. But that‘s not a campaign. And that‘s all he had. He stayed first class wherever he went. Had very little of an entourage, had very small crowds. But when he got on the stage with the other guys, he was terrific.
MATTHEWS: What came first, the chicken or the egg? Al Sharpton is a real human being, and he‘s a charmer, I‘ll say that, and “Bonfire of the Vanities?” What came first? Was he created as a fictional figure and he became alive? Let‘s take a look at him (UNINTELLIGIBLE) because he is right out of Thomas Wolfe—Tom Wolfe. Let‘s go to the podium and listen to the Reverend Al Sharpton.
REV. AL SHARPTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you.
Tonight I want to address my remarks in two parts.
One, I‘m honored to address the delegates here.
Last Friday, I had the experience in Detroit of hearing President George Bush make a speech. And in the speech, he asked certain questions. I hope he‘s watching tonight. I would like to answer your questions, Mr.
To the chairman, our delegates, and all that are assembled, we‘re honored and glad to be here tonight.
I‘m glad to be joined by supporters and friends from around the country. I‘m glad to be joined by my family, Kathy, Dominique, who will be 18, and Ashley.
We are here 228 years after right here in Boston we fought to establish the freedoms of America. The first person to die in the Revolutionary War is buried not far from here, a Black man from Barbados, named Crispus Attucks.
Forty years ago, in 1964, Fannie Lou Hamer and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party stood at the Democratic convention in Atlantic City fighting to preserve voting rights for all America and all Democrats, regardless of race or gender.
Hamer‘s stand inspired Dr. King‘s march in Selma, which brought about the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Twenty years ago, Reverend Jesse Jackson stood at the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco, again, appealing to the preserve those freedoms.
Tonight, we stand with those freedoms at risk and our security as citizens in question.
I have come here tonight to say, that the only choice we have to preserve our freedoms at this point in history is to elect John Kerry the president of the United States.
I stood with both John Kerry and John Edwards on over 30 occasions during the primary season. I not only debated them, I watched them, I observed their deeds, I looked into their eyes. I am convinced that they are men who say what they mean and mean what they say.
I‘m also convinced that at a time when a vicious spirit in the body politic of this country that attempts to undermine America‘s freedoms—our civil rights, and civil liberties—we must leave this city and go forth and organize this nation for victory for our party and John Kerry and John Edwards in November.
And let me quickly say, this is not just about winning an election.
It‘s about preserving the principles on which this very nation was founded.
Look at the current view of our nation worldwide as a results of our unilateral foreign policy. We went from unprecedented international support and solidarity on September 12, 2001, to hostility and hatred as we stand here tonight. We can‘t survive in the world by ourselves.
How did we squander this opportunity to unite the world for democracy and to commit to a global fight against hunger and disease?
We did it with a go-it-alone foreign policy based on flawed intelligence. We were told that we were going to Iraq because there were weapons of mass destruction. We‘ve lost hundreds of soldiers. We‘ve spent $200 billion dollars at a time when we had record state deficits. And when it became clear that there were no weapons, they changed the premise for the war and said: No, we went because of other reasons.
If I told you tonight, “Let‘s leave the Fleet Center, we‘re in danger,” and when you get outside, you ask me, Reverend Al, “What is the danger?” and I say, “It don‘t matter. We just needed some fresh air,” I have misled you and we were misled.
We are also faced with the prospect of in the next four years that two or more of the Supreme Court Justice seats will become available. This year we celebrated the anniversary of Brown v. the Board of Education.
This court has voted five to four on critical issues of women‘s rights and civil rights. It is frightening to think that the gains of civil and women rights and those movements in the last century could be reversed if this administration is in the White House in these next four years.
I suggest to you tonight that if George Bush had selected the court in ‘54, Clarence Thomas would have never got to law school.
This is not about a party. This is about living up to the promise of America. The promise of America says we will guarantee quality education for all children and not spend more money on metal detectors than computers in our schools.
The promise of America guarantees health care for all of its citizens and doesn‘t force seniors to travel to Canada to buy prescription drugs they can‘t afford here at home.
The promise of America provides that those who work in our health care system can afford to be hospitalized in the very beds they clean up every day.
The promise of America is that government does not seek to regulate your behavior in the bedroom, but to guarantee your right to provide food in the kitchen.
The issue of government is not to determine who may sleep together in the bedroom, it‘s to help those that might not be eating in the kitchen.
The promise of America that we stand for human rights, whether it‘s fighting against slavery in the Sudan, where right now Joe Madison and others are fasting, around what is going on in the Sudan; AIDS in Lesotho; a police misconduct in this country.
The promise of America is one immigration policy for all who seek to enter our shores, whether they come from Mexico, Haiti or Canada, there must be one set of rules for everybody.
We cannot welcome those to come and then try and act as though any culture will not be respected or treated inferior. We cannot look at the Latino community and preach “one language.” No one gave them an English test before they sent them to Iraq to fight for America.
The promise of America is that every citizen vote is counted and protected, and election schemes do not decide the election.
It, to me, is a glaring contradiction that we would fight, and rightfully so, to get the right to vote for the people in the capital of Iraq in Baghdad, but still don‘t give the federal right to vote for the people in the capital of the United States, in Washington, D.C.
Mr. President, as I close, Mr. President, I heard you say Friday that you had questions for voters, particularly African- American voters. And you asked the question: Did the Democratic Party take us for granted? Well, I have raised questions. But let me answer your question.
You said the Republican Party was the party of Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. It is true that Mr. Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, after which there was a commitment to give 40 acres and a mule.
That‘s where the argument, to this day, of reparations starts. We never got the 40 acres. We went all the way to Herbert Hoover, and we never got the 40 acres.
We didn‘t get the mule. So we decided we‘d ride this donkey as far as it would take us.
Mr. President, you said would we have more leverage if both parties got our votes, but we didn‘t come this far playing political games. It was those that earned our vote that got our vote. We got the Civil Rights Act under a Democrat. We got the Voting Rights Act under a Democrat. We got the right to organize under Democrats.
Mr. President, the reason we are fighting so hard, the reason we took Florida so seriously, is our right to vote wasn‘t gained because of our age. Our vote was soaked in the blood of martyrs, soaked in the blood of good men (UNINTELLIGIBLE) soaked in the blood of four little girls in Birmingham. This vote is sacred to us.
This vote can‘t be bargained away.
This vote can‘t be given away.
Mr. President, in all due respect, Mr. President, read my lips: Our vote is not for sale.
And there‘s a whole generation of young leaders that have come forward across this country that stand on integrity and stand on their traditions, those that have emerged with John Kerry and John Edwards as partners, like Greg Meeks, like Barack Obama, like our voter registration director, Marjorie Harris, like those that are in the trenches.
And we come with strong family values. Family values is not just those with two-car garages and a retirement plan. Retirement plans are good. But family values also are those who had to make nothing stretch into something happening, who had to make ends meet.
I was raised by a single mother who made a way for me. She used to scrub floors as a domestic worker, put a cleaning rag in her pocketbook and ride the subways in Brooklyn so I would have food on the table.
But she taught me as I walked her to the subway that life is about not where you start, but where you‘re going. That‘s family values.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MATTHEWS: Well, we‘re back watching Reverend Al Sharpton.
You have to remember that this man basically began his career, as charming as he is, on a lie. He said that a young woman in New York had been raped and beat up by police. It turns out there was no truth to that story.
I have got to wonder tonight, Howard and Doris, if this is doing any good for the Democratic Party. They‘re trying to reach those middle 20 percent. This fire-burning speech here tonight, which is as close to rabble-rousing as you‘re going to hear at this convention, was certainly not on message tonight.
FINEMAN: No, it wasn‘t.
And I‘m very surprised, given the way the Kerry campaign has tried to control and modulate this message here. They didn‘t need to do this tonight. African-American voters are going turn out in droves for John Kerry and John Edwards regardless. They will walk through walls for them.
MATTHEWS: Is that who he was appealing to?
FINEMAN: Well, I don‘t know who he was appealing to.
FINEMAN: He is the only guy—he could actually can turn off the black vote, yes.
MATTHEWS: I don‘t think he—Doris, the whole idea of an election is to win 51 percent. Does that help?
GOODWIN: Absolutely not.
In fact, the yelling in the rally right now is like chalk on a board, a blackboard. It‘s grating. You can‘t bear to listen to it. And I suspect he‘s going on much longer than he was supposed to.
FINEMAN: Well, we know he is.
GOODWIN: He‘s not an elected—right.
GOODWIN: Yes, exactly.
FINEMAN: Because he just started ad-libbing like crazy.
GOODWIN: But there‘s a sense in which, if he were an elected
official, if he had a constituency that
MATTHEWS: Well, that‘s something he has never been, nor likely to be.
GOODWIN: But he‘s not. That‘s exactly right.
GOODWIN: So these are words without any connection to a constituency.
MATTHEWS: How does a fellow who has never won a single primary in this whole year, never impressed a major—any large amount of the American people, any amount, African-American, whatever, with his leadership ability, how did he earn this spot on the podium tonight?
GOODWIN: Because of the media. Because of the media.
FINEMAN: I think, frankly, it‘s an insult. It‘s an insult, I think, as an outsider, to African-American voters that they‘re giving this guy as much time as they are, when there are many other people—if they were just wanting to talk to and fire up the base of the party...
FINEMAN: ... many other people they could have chosen. He did nothing in the campaign except show up at the debates and be provocative and entertaining. Fine. But that‘s not what this is about.
And, stylistically, you don‘t scream and shout at that convention. You will never shout over the voices there. You talk intimately to the audience.
GOODWIN: Television is a cool medium, as they say.
MATTHEWS: You know, we‘ve been talking now for weeks about how this is going to be a cosmetic campaign, a convention confected for television.
Last night—and I said it to her son tonight—Teresa Heinz Kerry talked too darned long.
MATTHEWS: She just kept going and going after she made some very good points about women‘s status in our society.
This fellow got on stage. It‘s quarter to 9:00, right in the middle of prime-time. People waiting to hear from John Edwards caught that act.
FINEMAN: It couldn‘t be—it couldn‘t be—it couldn‘t be any more
· is he still going on? Is he still going on?
GOODWIN: Of course.
But try and figure out, why he did become such a figure? The media is responsible.
MATTHEWS: He has not won any primaries.
GOODWIN: I agree. But then the reason he did was, the media embraced him. They wrote articles about him. They said he was the most entertaining in those debates.
MATTHEWS: We‘re doing a favor to the Democratic Party right now.
This is a partisan act. We‘ve taken him off the air.
MATTHEWS: Go ahead.
FINEMAN: It‘s completely counterproductive to what the aim of tonight was, to introduce John Edwards as the spokesman of and tribune of rural people, moderate voters, you know, not necessarily African-Americans, who are already in the camp, already in the camp of the Democratic Party.
MATTHEWS: Howard, one of his themes tonight, the Reverend Al Sharpton, was dishonesty at the highest level, failure to give adequate intelligence before the war with Iraq. And everyone recognizes that that‘s a fair target.
However, the one doing the shooting should not be someone who built their political career on a lie.
FINEMAN: It‘s a tremendous favor to Bush.
GOODWIN: Chris, you‘re saying this now, but the media did not say this during the debates.
You remember those debates when those eight people came floating out and he would be getting the greatest media the next day. They said he was the best, he was the sharpest just because they were looking at it as entertainment. Debates are not entertainment. They‘re serious things. This is a serious time. And this isn‘t fair.
FINEMAN: Those were different circumstances, different circumstances.
But whose judgment I wonder about here tonight is Kerry and his
campaign. They shouldn‘t have given
MATTHEWS: What was the deal?
FINEMAN: Well, obviously, the deal was, you get some time and you disappear.
FINEMAN: That was basically the deal. We‘ll give you 20 minutes in a good slot and then we don‘t want to hear from you again.
GOODWIN: But I don‘t he‘ll keep the other end of disappearing.
FINEMAN: He didn‘t keep this end of the bargain, because he went on way too long.
FINEMAN: Past his vetted speech. And he‘s not going to keep that end of the bargain either.
MATTHEWS: He attempted at the beginning of this campaign to replace the Reverend Jesse Jackson as the spokesperson for African-Americans. Well, of course, that was a hard, high road to take, because of Jackson‘s long experience with the civil rights movement.
And say what you will about the guy. He is an historic figure who went out and really tried to run for president. He put together a Rainbow.
MATTHEWS: It was multiracial. It was diverse. It was an attempt to really win an election. And he won a lot of delegates and gave some beautiful speeches.
FINEMAN: Yes, he did.
MATTHEWS: This fellow‘s goal was what?
GOODWIN: To self-promote.
FINEMAN: Self-promote. Fill up some time. I‘m surprised he didn‘t plug his TV show, as Keith was talking about.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me give you the proof of that. I may be wrong and I will stand corrected if the following happened.
In the past, when the Reverend Jesse Jackson has lost campaigns for the Democratic nomination, there‘s been arrangements for the general election whereby he would be given a plane, enough money to do voter registration and campaign around the country, to the tune of $2 million. Will Al Sharpton get $2 million and a plane from John Kerry, Doris?
GOODWIN: I think he‘s getting a bus after tonight.
MATTHEWS: I think it may be a bus to Canada.
FINEMAN: You know who is going to get the plane? Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton is going to be the guy out rallying the base all around the country. And he will be traveling extensively. They will put him in urban areas. They will put him in rural areas. They will put him in places where they have to rally the base, where they‘re not worried about any blowback from the early days, you know, and Monica Lewinsky and all that.
So that‘s what they are going to do with Bill Clinton. It‘s not going to be Jesse Jackson. It‘s not going to be Al Sharpton.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s go right now and let‘s hear some more from Al Sharpton, care of Brian Williams, who has him right now on the floor.
Go ahead, Brian.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC ANCHOR: Chris, we do indeed.
Reverend Sharpton, from my vantage point here on the podium, I was able to look over your shoulder at that teleprompter that just sat there for what seemed like a half-hour while you did a riff on whatever you did a riff on. Now, what if that speech of yours puts the Democrats over in prime time?
SHARPTON: Well, I think that we told them and they agreed that I would address the president, his remarks in questioning black Americans, came after my written speech. And I think it was important he be answered. And I wanted to answer him respectfully tonight. He raised the question.
I wanted to give him the answer.
WILLIAMS: Seriously, do you know if you went over? Or do you...
SHARPTON: I think I went over a few minutes, but every candidate has gone overtime so far.
WILLIAMS: Now, the campaign trail can grueling. Does this make it worth it, a prime-time slot in front of your audience for your message delivered in your way?
SHARPTON: I think it helps to put the message out there. I think it helps the party because it makes everyone feel included. It makes everyone feel energized, particularly when you have the incumbent shooting now at the base of people that I emanate from.
So I think it‘s important because people can‘t feel included if they don‘t see and feel that in the proceedings of a national convention.
WILLIAMS: Does this ticket speak to you?
SHARPTON: Oh, absolutely. I meant what I said. I believe in these guys. I‘ve looked at them. I think that they mean what they say and say what they mean. And I will be out there for them as hard as I was in the primaries for my own candidacy.
WILLIAMS: Reverend Al Sharpton, still perspiring, fresh from the podium—Chris, back to you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Brian Williams.
Coming up, actor Steve Buscemi—Buscemi—will be with us. He‘s of course from “The Sopranos.”
And make sure you log on to HARDBALL.MSNBC.com. And check out our hardblogger set—I love the name—with blogs analyzing convention speeches, as we just did to Sharpton, and events by Joe Scarborough, Keith Olbermann, Pat Buchanan, Dee Dee Myers, Joe Trippi, and former Mayor of San Francisco Willie Brown.
You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Democratic Convention here in Boston on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to Boston and MSNBC‘s continuing live coverage of the Democratic National Convention.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MATTHEWS: I‘m joined by actor and former New York Police—actually, New York City firefighter Steve Buscemi.
Steve, what do you make of the fact that the Democrats put Al Sharpton up there, a guy who built his career about lying about cops?
STEVE BUSCEMI, ACTOR: I mean, I think, obviously, he inspires a lot of people, a lot of young people, and they thought that he would be effective.
MATTHEWS: Well, if you‘re a policeman out there right now trying to fight bad guys and risking your life every night, and you got a guy up there being celebrated for having built a career on a lie against cops, what would you think of the Democratic Party?
BUSCEMI: Well, I don‘t know what I would think of the Democratic Party. I think maybe he‘s not very popular with police, but I don‘t know if it has anything to do with what they think of the Democratic Party.
MATTHEWS: Well, tell me what you thought Sharpton‘s performance and now?
BUSCEMI: I wasn‘t able to watch much of it because I was coming from somewhere else. But I‘ve seen him talk before. And he definitely gets the crowd fired up. And I think he is an effective speaker.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you about this party and this issue. What do you see, as an activist, as the most important issue of this campaign?
BUSCEMI: Well, I think security, I think keeping America safe. And I feel like, since 9/11, I don‘t really feel safer.
MATTHEWS: Why not?
BUSCEMI: And I think—well, I don‘t think enough has been given to homeland security funds.
I was at a ceremony last week in Manhattan where the Leary Foundation donated a mobile command center to the city. This is three years after 9/11.
BUSCEMI: There wasn‘t enough money in the fire department budget to afford a much-needed piece of equipment like this. I don‘t know why it‘s not coming from federal funds. So I just think that more could be done.
I know that cops are being laid off. I know that, in New York, firefighters, cops and teachers are still struggling to make a decent living.
MATTHEWS: You know what, Steve? Back in September 14, a couple days of after 9/11, the president of the United States went to New York and stood in the rubble of the World Trade Center and gave an amazing moment to the American people about, he was going to get the people that knocked down the buildings. That was a heroic moment for a president.
And I just wonder how a Democratic or any other challenger can replicate that moment with the American people.
BUSCEMI: Well, you know, John Kerry, he is a true war hero. He, you know, proved his courage on the battlefield in Vietnam. What I also admire about him is that he had the courage to protest that war when he came back. So I just feel more comfortable putting my trust in John Kerry.
MATTHEWS: Do you think John Kerry is a critic of the war?
BUSCEMI: Yes. I mean, he has been critical. I know that he voted for the war, but he says that, like, along with the rest of us, he feels like he was misled.
MATTHEWS: Well, why doesn‘t he say that he voted wrong because he was misled? He won‘t say that. Why won‘t he just come out and say, I had bad intel; I was led to vote for the war, and now I got the good intel; I was wrong; I shouldn‘t have voted for the war?
BUSCEMI: Well, I can‘t speak for him.
MATTHEWS: Well, what do you think about it as—do you trust his judgment, then?
Look, everybody back then, it seems, and politicians were getting behind the president. There was very little dissent, you know, Senator Byrd‘s. So, you know, and back then, they were making a very strong case about weapons of mass destruction.
MATTHEWS: I know.
BUSCEMI: They were making a very—I don‘t think it was a strong case, but they were making a case...
MATTHEWS: Well, you didn‘t believe it. Did you believe it, Steve?
Well, not that I didn‘t believe it, but I thought that we were doing OK with the inspectors that were there.
BUSCEMI: And I wanted to see that continue.
MATTHEWS: So your judgment—so your judgment was better than that of the candidate you‘re supporting for president. That‘s a little odd, isn‘t it?
MATTHEWS: You were right about the war. He was wrong. And now you‘re backing him.
BUSCEMI: Yes, but I didn‘t have the access to the intelligence that they had. I mean, this is just my opinion as a citizen.
MATTHEWS: OK, well, thanks for coming on.
BUSCEMI: I also think—all right.
MATTHEWS: Well, thank you very much for...
BUSCEMI: Thanks very much.
MATTHEWS: Thanks for coming on. And I love your show. Too bad you got whacked.
BUSCEMI: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thanks, Steve Buscemi. Coming up, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm will take the podium in a minute.
You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Democratic National Convention up in Boston on MSNBC.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWARD DEAN (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I may not be the nominee, but I can tell you this. 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.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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