Guest: Jon Meacham, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Robert Fyrst, Senator Zell Miller, Congressman Harold Ford, Wesley Clark, Howard Fineman, Willie Brown
JON MEACHAM, NEWSWEEK: So what we‘re talking about here is Edwards as part of a package.
Kerry‘s the tough cop, presumably. That‘s the case they want to make. But Edwards is somebody that will resonate, because his story is very, very common. I know dozens of lawyers in the South who have come from similar backgrounds, who are making a lot of money, who had a lot of chances, and they want to make sure that the door is always open.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Let‘s talk about the issue of likability, because I find it fascinating. There are certain politicians, regardless of party, that I find myself rooting for. I like Eddie Rendell, Dianne Feinstein. I just root for them.
MATTHEWS: You know, Arnold Schwarzenegger. They just—or Rudy Giuliani. They come from both parties. You just end up finding, you know, that‘s the kind of guy I like, and you root for them...
MATTHEWS: ... just because you sense some identity with the person. Do you think the male voter out there, who‘s a minority voter, white, black or whatever—we‘re a minority voter, you and I.
MATTHEWS: Do you think we‘re looking at this guy and saying not, “Do you want to have a beer with the guy,” which I think is one of the dumbest questions in the world, but who are you going to root for to make it in this country? Do you think men and women will root for this guy?
MEACHAM: I think so. I think—I think they admire somebody who works hard, who didn‘t get a lot of breaks, who‘s not an affirmative action guy, or a legacy hire at any level.
MEACHAM: You know, he pulled himself out of that middle town.
MATTHEWS: He‘s not complaining.
MEACHAM: He‘s not complaining. And...
MATTHEWS: No whining. “I made it, you can make it, but I am going to give you some help.”
MATTHEWS: And he‘s not a pull up the ladder guy. You know, he is not saying, “I have made it, so, you know, that‘s it, and we are going to close the door.”
He wants to open the doors. And America has always been better. Historically, our great texts have always been about the broadening of who is in the mainstream.
MEACHAM: Favorite part of the speech?
MATTHEWS: The best and the bravest, and none will be left behind.
MEACHAM: My favorite part was when his parents were on the stage and he pointed to them. Incredibly young parents, by the way. Incredibly young.
MATTHEWS: And he pointed to his dad and his mom, and his mother had a little tear in her eye about—when he talked about her working in the post office so that they could get health insurance. Wonderful stuff.
Let me just tell you, I think—I think—I am just guessing—you know how Tim Russert‘s book has been so successful because he‘s talking about working-class dad?
MATTHEWS: People like people who root for their parents.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s go right now to Kelly O‘Donnell, who is on the floor
KELLY O‘DONNELL, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Chris. I‘m here with Senator Dianne Feinstein of California.
John Edwards is credited with bringing a common touch to this ticket.
How do you think he achieved that tonight?
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: Oh, I think because of his optimism, I think the message of hope. He really touched deep into the roots, I think, of middle America, as well as the east and west of America. You know, he kind of outlined a litany of things that the administration, that Kerry-Edwards would be committed to.
O‘DONNELL: More policy than maybe we expected.
FEINSTEIN: Yes, more policy than I expected.
O‘DONNELL: Did you get the sense that he is able to add some of that, people call it widely, charisma to this ticket, Senator Kerry, who, on a one-to-one basis—you know him very well—can relate very well, but in a wider audience, as often talked about, as not having that skill? What does Edwards bring to that?
FEINSTEIN: Of course, I disagree with that. I think Kerry relates very well to a large number of people. John, of course, Edwards, is younger, he‘s more voluble, he speaks more rapidly, he has got kind of a different pattern to him than Kerry.
Kerry is more studied, I think more intellectual. So together, I think they are a good combination.
O‘DONNELL: The president‘s re-election committee has been talking to reporters today about the fact that Senator Edwards, who touted tonight that he is on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has missed many of the meetings. In your judgment, how significant is that?
FEINSTEIN: Well, this is hard for a candidate, for either the presidency or the vice presidency, to attend meetings and to campaign. It‘s a choice. It‘s a kind of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) choice. You can‘t win a race unless you are out there.
O‘DONNELL: It‘s hard to be in both places.
FEINSTEIN: That‘s true.
O‘DONNELL: Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, we thank you very much—Chris.
FEINSTEIN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Kelly O‘Donnell.
Let‘s listen to the roll call. It‘s going on right now down on the floor. By the way, the Alabama delegation has yielded to the Massachusetts delegation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The people of Massachusetts know that. And as America comes to know that, we proudly cast 121 votes for John Kerry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Cameron Kerry. Massachusetts casts 121 votes for John Kerry.
Alaska—Alaska, you have 18 votes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Madam Secretary, the state of Alaska, the great land, the last frontier, proudly yields to the home of the next vice president of the United States—North Carolina.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: North Carolina, you have 107 votes. How do you cast them?
BARBARA ALLEN, CHAIR, NORTH CAROLINA DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Madame Secretary, I‘m Barbara Allen, chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party, and I am pleased to introduce Representative Dave Price, the dean of our Democratic congressional delegation.
DAVID PRICE, DEAN, DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION: My fellow delegates, fellow Americans, John Kerry, a man of strength and great courage, and North Carolina‘s own John Edwards are ready to lead our country in a new and exciting direction, full of hope and opportunity.
ELAINE MARSHALL, SECRETARY OF STATE, NORTH CAROLINA: I am Elaine Marshall, secretary of state of North Carolina, the land of the longleaf pine, as a place where the strong Kerry-Edwards ticket will fulfill our state host, where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great. With Kerry-Edwards, America, one America will grow strong and great.
RALPH CAMPBELL JR., STATE AUDITOR, NORTH CAROLINA: Madame Secretary, I am state auditor Ralph Campbell Jr., the first African-American elected to a constitutional office in the great state of North Carolina.
CAMPBELL: We cast our votes as follows: four votes for Dennis Kucinich, and I am extremely proud and honored to cast 102 votes for John Kerry and John Edwards, the next president and vice president of the United States of America.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, North Carolina. North Carolina casts 102 votes for John Kerry and four votes for Dennis Kucinich.
American Samoa. American Samoa, you have six votes.
MATTHEWS: We‘ll be following the roll call all night long. Ohio, by the way, is expected to put Kerry and Edwards over the top.
Let‘s go right now to NBC‘s Campbell Brown, who is on the floor.
CAMPBELL BROWN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Chris. I am with Robert Fyrst, who is with the Wisconsin delegation.
And you said to me a minute ago as the roll call was going on, “Oh, we‘ve got plenty of time, we are way down the list.” But Wisconsin is a swing state. You are not so far down the list in that sense. What does the ticket have to do to win in Wisconsin?
ROBERT FYRST, WISCONSIN DELEGATION: Well, that‘s the thing. This ticket is doing everything right to win Wisconsin. You know, we‘re called a swing state, but we‘re going to swing way to the Kerry-Edwards side this time. We‘re going to carry Wisconsin for John Kerry and for John Edwards, and we‘re going to carry it big.
BROWN: Now, talk to me. You were very enthused when I came over here, as Edwards was just wrapping up his speech. What did you like about it?
FYRST: What I liked about it is that he was talking about pulling us all together, that we are one nation here, and that it‘s not about the separate things, it‘s not about what makes us different. It‘s about the fact that we are Americans, we are United, we are together, we are one people, one nation.
BROWN: He was very tough on national security and the war in Iraq, and tough on the Bush administration in that sense. Did you like what you heard?
FYRST: I liked what I heard. I also liked the fact that this is a candidate that we know that we can trust. This is a candidate that we can depend on. This is a candidate that we can feel safe about leading our country, whether it‘s in war or in peace.
BROWN: Robert Fyrst, with the Wisconsin delegation, thanks for your time.
Chris, let‘s go back to you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Campbell Brown.
Let‘s go now to NBC‘s Brian Williams, who is also on the floor—
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC ANCHOR: Well, Chris, I was just thinking, like all of us who were raised on watching politics on television, the early television age, the fact that this is happening after the networks have gone off the air into what is local news time on the East Coast is all the evidence you need as to how much these conventions have changed. And just tonight, the news wires are carrying the obituary of Carmine DeSapio.
As convention fans will remember that famous power handshake between the last leader of New York‘s Tammany Hall and Robert F. Kennedy of New York on the floor of the convention. So convention history in a strange way and a very sedate way being made here tonight—Chris.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Brian Williams.
I am going to get back to the—we‘re going to listen to the roll call for just a moment now. But it brings back memories to those of us who used to love conventions, gavel to gavel in a true sense.
Here they are.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, General Clark, and thank you, Arkansas. Arkansas casts 47 votes for John Kerry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: California, you have 441 votes. How do you cast them?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Madame Secretary—Madame Secretary, California‘s two United States senators, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, say the following: “On behalf...”
MATTHEWS: I am joined right now by NBC News‘ anchor, Tom Brokaw, and the moderator of “Meet the Press,” Tim Russert.
It looked like a bingo to me, Tom and Tim.
TOM BROKAW, NBC ANCHOR: I think that there‘s more suspense in celebrity poker than there is in those—I mean in the roll call these days. We all know where it‘s going to turn out. And they want to get their moment in the limelight, however they can do it.
In the old days, of course, there would be some suspense about whether or not either platform issues were going to carry it or candidates were going to carry it. But the fix was in here, because John Kerry swept effectively the board during primaries and caucuses. And so did John Edwards.
The battleground states—the people who come here, Tim, and are sitting on that floor are liberal Democrats, by and large. We have seen the polling on them. Ninety-five percent of them opposed to the war.
Joe Biden saying they are going to have to get used to the fact we may have to send more troops in there. And they were cheering tonight the rolling back the tax cuts, the health care proposals, those kinds of things.
That‘s not the audience that these two candidates have to reach. It‘s that Independent swing voter candidate, the disaffected Republican out there in the battleground states.
TIM RUSSERT, HOST, “MEET THE PRESS”: Yes. I think on those economic issues, Tom, it‘s probably the one area where the candidates, the delegates, and the swing voters probably have a lot in common.
RUSSERT: The foreign policy issues that John Edwards spoke about tonight, however, is a real line, I think, of separation...
RUSSERT: ... between this hall and the swing voters out there, because John Edwards really hammered out themes, doubling the size of Special Forces, increasing our military by 40,000 people, and full health care for 26 million veterans. That is a real investment in the military, in the defense budget, by a Democratic ticket.
BROKAW: Let‘s go to Zell Miller, who has written a book called “A National Party No More.” He‘s the outgoing Democratic senator from the state of Georgia. He‘s the former governor of the state of Georgia and a Marine veteran. He said earlier that he thought maybe the ticket should have been reversed, with John Edwards on the top.
But this is a strong statement on the part of your party, the party that you seem to be distancing yourself from, about military issues, doubling size of Special Forces. Do you think in Georgia, in this election year, that cultural issues or Iraq or the economy, which of those will be the primary issues for the voters?
SEN. ZELL MILLER (D), GEORGIA: I think the military issues, and I think the cultural issues, and the economy to a certain extent. But I think the first two will be at the top.
You know, I found it very interesting, and I think that somebody will be talking about this. Isn‘t it strange that here is a man that is going to do all of this for the military, and yet this is one of the four senators out of the 100 who voted along with Senator Kerry not for the appropriation to fight the war in Iraq? He voted against that $87 billion that would have provided the equipment and provided the armor and provided the benefits from the defendants that now he says he wants to help.
Where was he back when we needed him?
BROKAW: Senator Miller...
MILLER: I mean, talk is cheap. Talk is cheap.
BROKAW: Well, let me—let me ask you another question now that you have raised that kind of thing about the voting. Tomorrow night, John Kerry will be introduced by one of your former colleagues, Max Cleland, who was the senator from Georgia when you were both in that chamber. He was defeated, of course.
Republicans ran ads against him because in the initial stages, he voted against the homeland security bill because he had some questions about the funding for it. Do you think that Max Cleland, who was gravely wounded in Vietnam, was treated fairly by the Republicans?
MILLER: Well, first of all, let me say that Max Cleland has been a close friend for 30 years. I respect him, and I have a great deal of affection for him. And in that campaign, I did everything I possibly could to help his re-election.
But what you are seeing is a myth, Mr. Brokaw. It‘s—it‘s really an excuse. He was not defeated, as you said he was, for that ad. He was defeated, I think, for two reasons.
First of all, he was defeated because he had a very able and well-financed and very eloquent spokesman running against him, Saxby Chambliss. He was also defeated because he voted with the Kerry-Daschle Democrats in the Senate 80 percent of the time. A person from Georgia, no matter even if he has the stature of a Max Cleland, cannot vote with that liberal left wing crowd 80 percent of the time and expect to be elected in Georgia, even if he is a Max Cleland.
BROKAW: Senator Miller, thank you very much for being with us tonight.
MILLER: Sure. Thank you.
BROKAW: The name of the book, once again, “A National Party No More.”
Have you read his book?
REP. HAROLD FORD (D), TENNESSEE: I have not. I have a copy of it, though. He is a friend. I couldn‘t hear him, so I apologize for not being able to directly respond.
BROKAW: Well, he said effectively that Max Cleland was defeated not just because of that ad, but because he took two liberal positions 80 percent of the time. And he also said that John Edwards—and he‘s accurate in this—was one of four senators who voted against the $87 billion the president went to Congress asking for funding.
Now, we have heard a lot about John Kerry saying, “I voted for it before I voted against it.” We‘ll be seeing that ad all fall along. Don‘t the Republicans have an appropriate claim in saying this guy‘s a flip-flopper, we never know where he stands?
FORD: No. I think as this campaign unfolds, people will come to appreciate that we have no post-war strategy in Iraq. And what they will be listening for, from both candidates, from both Bush and Kerry, will be which candidate can put forward in advance a set of ideas that can hurry our troops home and hurry up the—the arrival of stability, or the planting of democracy, the seeds of democracy in Iraq.
Earlier this evening, you saw several generals, or several top brass retired members of our military come out on this stage here in Boston and not only express their support for John Kerry and John Edwards, but outline in some detail how we have—the steps we have taken in Iraq, and which steps have been mistaken.
As much respect as I have for Senator Miller, Tim Russert said it best. There‘s a lot of harmony in this hall right now tonight on economic issues in the rest of the America. And although John Edwards words this evening concerning the military and making it clear we will destroy al Qaeda, making it clear we will take care of our veterans, making it clear that we will follow the recommendations of the September 11 Commission, there may be some differences here in this hall, but I will remind both of you, our Democratic platform did not speak to these issues. And largely because there may be some difference of opinion, but the bottom line is we are in Iraq today.
Democrats recognize that. We have a combat veteran at the top of our ticket and a vice presidential nominee who understands as well as any that it will take an investment in our military and a new kind and a new era of diplomacy to win this effort in Iraq.
And again, Zell Miller is entitled to his viewpoint, but I think he will be outnumbered come November, and Americans will go to the polls and see fit to give a new team and a new direction and opportunity.
BROKAW: All right. Thanks very much, Congressman Harold Ford...
FORD: Thank you.
BROKAW: ... and former Senator Zell Miller—outgoing Senator Zell Miller. That‘s one of the states that a lot of people will be watching to see whether a Democrat can get back in, or whether the Republicans pick up another seat in Georgia.
Chris, back to you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert.
NBC‘s Kelly O‘Donnell is on the convention floor right now with Wesley Clark, a candidate himself—Kelly.
O‘DONNELL: Good evening, Chris.
Wesley Clark has played multiple roles tonight, former rival, who now endorses John Kerry. He is also on the podium earlier this evening as one of the generals who is endorsing John Kerry.
And you served as the person from Arkansas to deliver the delegates. Lots of roles tonight. I really want to talk to you about the issue of yourself and admirals.
A dozen of you have put support behind John Kerry. Also today, though, the Bush-Cheney team has put out a list of 100 members who were flag officers who support the president‘s re-election. What is the divide within the military establishment?
WESLEY CLARK (D), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, first of all, we are all retired. The military itself, the active duty military, is—is bound by law to support the commander in chief. But many of us who have been in high-command positions and have seen how policy is made, have the feeling that this administration has simply taken us down the wrong track.
We‘ve got to stop this train. We‘ve got to have a commander in chief who listens, who learns, who works with the rest of the world. We are not going to be safer unless we make more friends than—than enemies.
O‘DONNELL: This issue is so critical to voters. And in the polling, all the numbers we see, it seems to still shift toward President Bush as having more comfortability (ph) among voters on the issues of national security, the war on terror. What does John Kerry need to do with this audience of Americans watching to try to close that gap?
CLARK: I hope the American people will appreciate who John Kerry really is. He is a young man who volunteered to go to war, and when he was on a destroyer, he looked at it and said he wanted to get closer to it.
He went back to special training, commanded a small boat in the most dangerous part of Vietnam. He was wounded three times in action, decorated for valor. Saved his boat crew, saved a man who fell overboard. This guy was an absolute warrior.
And that spirit will help him guide America. Every decision he makes as commander in chief is going to be informed by what he personally saw of war: the stress, the hardship, the danger, what it does to the country that you are fighting in. He is going to be a great commander in chief.
O‘DONNELL: Good to see you, General. General Wesley Clark. thank you so much.
CLARK: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Kelly O‘Donnell.
Let‘s go right now to MSNBC‘s Chris Jansing, who is on the floor with the head of the North Carolina delegation—Chris.
CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: She‘s also the head of the North Carolina Democratic Party, Barbara Allen, who says she has known John Edwards so long she can‘t remember how many years.
A key for the Democrats tonight was to get America to know John Edwards. Is the person that they saw on TV up on that stage the man you know?
ALLEN: Very definitely so. He‘s just—he‘s that way all the time, and he gives us hope. This is what we look so forward to in North Carolina, as he moves out and makes us very, very proud of him in our state.
JANSING: He certainly revved up this crowd. They are going to need to take that energy and enthusiasm back home to states like yours that are going to be very tough for the Democrats to win. How does the Kerry-Edwards campaign do that?
ALLEN: Well, I think the people have to do it. The people in the states have to do it. We who are here in this delegation tonight have to take it back home and do it for them and help them do it. They will do their part. We have got to do ours now.
ALLEN: We‘re revved up tonight, and we have got to stay revved up until November.
JANSING: Barbara Allen, head of the North Carolina Democratic Party, thanks so much.
Chris, back to you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Chris.
We‘re just here beginning to talk about this incredible night by John Edwards. I have to tell you a couple of things that grabbed me.
First of all, my political assessment, bingo. This is exactly what the doctor ordered, it‘s what they put him on the ticket for. John Kerry must be jumping out of his seat tonight.
Second thing, we‘re talking now—you picked up on this, no god.
HOWARD FINEMAN, “NEWSWEEK”: Yes, I thought it was fascinating.
MATTHEWS: A totally secular speech...
FINEMAN: It‘s about...
MATTHEWS: ... at this time in our history. It‘s strange.
FINEMAN: The key was his phrase about the mother sitting at the kitchen table. It‘s a kitchen table speech and a family values speech, but not a god speech.
This is a southerner who can talk in a passionate way, but not use religious symbolism to do it. He has the music of it, the music of it, the sense of the average working family, but without the overlay of religiosity.
That‘s where the Democratic Party is, Chris. The brightest dividing line between Democrats and Republicans is on the matter of regular church attendance. People who attend church once a week or more are 80, 90 percent likely to be Republicans. If they never—if they never...
MATTHEWS: Are you saying that the Republicans...
MATTHEWS: ... the Democratic talking points now are don‘t say god?
FINEMAN: Well, I don‘t—no, I am not saying that. But I am saying what‘s interesting here is that Edwards uses the music of it.
MATTHEWS: I agree.
FINEMAN: The revival music without the words.
MATTHEWS: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) southern, yes.
ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: And what‘s really interesting is that the other southern great rhetorical speaker, Bill Clinton, does use the biblical references. In fact, some of his key phrases were reiterations of things that come right from the scripture.
MATTHEWS: Who said “Be not afraid” the other night?
JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC ANCHOR: Yes. But, you know, one thing, though, as a southerner, regular church attender, the type of person that hangs out with—with cross-over voters, that could vote for this ticket, you guys missed it. You know what I picked up? It‘s when he was introduced by his wife. And what really made me (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the Wendy‘s reference, that he still takes his wife to Wendy‘s every—every anniversary.
SCARBOROUGH: She talked about this guy coaching basketball, going to church, being with the kids. She brought that up. And you know what I thought? I thought—actually, when she said that, I said, “You know what? These are two people I could see at First Baptist Church in...”
MATTHEWS: Go ahead. Go ahead.
SCARBOROUGH: And I‘ll guarantee a lot of other southerners that were watching, they got—they got all they needed from Elizabeth‘s introduction of John. I thought it was remarkable.
MITCHELL: The soccer moms. The soccer moms and NASCAR dads.
MATTHEWS: Mayor, your thoughts on this performance?
WILLIE BROWN, FORMER MAYOR OF SAN FRANCISCO Let me tell you, I think John Edwards did exactly what he was supposed to do. We raised the question in the earlier panel about whether or not he could show that he was like a person who is from the streets, came up the hard way, but somehow managed also to capture the magic and the understanding intellectually of what it means to be a leader.
He did exactly that tonight, and he kept it in a very southern tone, in a very southern manner, and he delivered the goods. I think he did what he needed to do.
MITCHELL: He was accessible, accessible to the average American man and woman, and not just one wing of the Democratic Party or another wing. I think exactly to the swing voters.
MATTHEWS: You (UNINTELLIGIBLE) looked like to me tonight, the families—a little better off, obviously. But the families...
MITCHELL: A lot better off.
MATTHEWS: ... just visiting the White House, visiting the Washington Monument, who bring their families from across the country to worship basically the shrines of this democracy. He looked like a family like that.
FINEMAN: You hit the key word, which is “family.” And I thought, bingo, when I saw Wallace and Bobbie...
MATTHEWS: The parents.
FINEMAN: ... the parents in the loft, who worked their way up there, literally.
SCARBOROUGH: You know what...
FINEMAN: When I saw the family and the kids, and them at the end of the speech, hoisting their two little kids aloft with them, I mean, that kind of imagery is crucial for the Democrats to show who they represent and who they want to represent.
SCARBOROUGH: And, you know, I thought, bingo. It‘s funny you said you thought bingo when you saw the parents.
FINEMAN: The parents.
SCARBOROUGH: Of course, that was a warm moment for all of us. But when I saw Cate, I laughed, because that is every middle class young girl that is going off to college, again, in the South. I‘ll guarantee you that...
MATTHEWS: Actually, she‘s (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Princeton.
SCARBOROUGH: But you know what, though? It‘s—you know what, though? But let me just say this about Princeton, though.
SCARBOROUGH: OK. Real quickly, though. I need to make one point, though.
FINEMAN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) defend Princeton.
SCARBOROUGH: No, no, no. It‘s not—it‘s not—this is important for him also. It‘s not where he is now. It‘s where he came from.
And you look at this family. They didn‘t come from Boston royalty.
They came from middle class.
MITCHELL: Let me just share with our audience just a teeny little moment with Cate this morning. They had just finished doing an interview on “The Today Show.” They were walking over to do an interview with us.
A hockey stick in the FleetCenter in a display fell over and hit this young woman straight across the cheek. Her cheek got all swollen up. They had to get the emergency medical people in.
All she could think of was she is going to be on this podium tonight, she‘s going to have a black and blue eye, and this kid with ice. And her mom came in, and all they could think about was how to get this—this young woman through the evening. Obviously a big success tonight.
But these little moments. And Elizabeth Edwards facing a network interview, all she could think about was her kid. She is the mother authentically. She is the mother that any woman in America can relate to.
FINEMAN: And what the Republicans are going to try to do is they‘re going to say, “You know, that‘s all wonderful. We think John Edwards has a great family, too. We value the fact that he worked his way up. But let‘s look at...”
MATTHEWS: That‘s giving a lot of territory away.
FINEMAN: No, no, no, no. But let‘s look at his voting record, because this guy is going to be...
MITCHELL: I‘m sure they‘re going to test him on everything.
FINEMAN: And especially that $87 billion vote, as Zell Miller was doing there before. They are going to focus in.
But this speech focused in on the swing voters we were talking about the other night, Chris, working women. He literally said, you know, a mother sits at the kitchen table, hope is on the way. That was laser-like focused on the undecided voter.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, Zell Miller, though, he made some great points. I mean, he made points for—for, again, for conservatives that are worried that this ticket is going to be too liberal.
I still believe in the bright dividing line in American politics. I agree with you on religion. But for big issues, it‘s still Vietnam. It really is.
I said it before, is that the Vietnam of ‘68 or ‘71 -- what conservatives have been saying since 1971, ‘72, ‘73 is politicians sent our troops into war, but then they were divided. Didn‘t know whether we wanted to win Vietnam or not, kept our boys over there dying, wouldn‘t give them the funds. You are going to hear that from Republicans time and again. And again, I think very good point.
MATTHEWS: That‘s John McCain‘s view, by the way.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. Great performance by John Edwards. But, again, not the gravitas yet that he is going to need to carry through a debate with Dick Cheney.
MITCHELL: And as Zell Miller said, “Where was he when we needed him, talk is cheap.” That‘s...
SCARBOROUGH: And I‘ll guarantee you the Republican National Committee gave that to Zell Miller before he said it.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, exactly. Don‘t (ph) be so shocked.
FINEMAN: The only moment I wondered about was when—when John Edwards looked in the camera and said to al Qaeda, “We will destroy you.”
MITCHELL: It did not ring...
FINEMAN: If that‘s the measure you want Dick Cheney...
SCARBOROUGH: You sure do.
FINEMAN: If the word—if the word...
MATTHEWS: Mayor, I want to ask you the question. The nonverbal, the words that weren‘t spoken, the command presence, did he have it, Mr. Mayor?
BROWN: Oh, I think he did. I think he did exactly what he needed to do under those circumstances.
I think you will see more of a command presence, however, when he stands next to Dick Cheney and proceeds to respond to the question put to the two of them in their capacity.
BROWN: Then I think you will see that tonight he was the common man.
He was the guy next door. He was the guy that coaches little league.
SCARBOROUGH: And the guy you go to church with.
SCARBOROUGH: Again, for the South, very important.
MITCHELL: Without talking about church.
BROWN: And there‘s no question, he is not the guy you would have a beer with.
MATTHEWS: So he‘s not churchy, but he goes to church.
MATTHEWS: We‘re cutting it pretty fine here.
BROWN: I think so.
MATTHEWS: I think you‘ve just launched (ph) into some brilliance there, Mr. Mayor. It seems to me that one of the questions we in the punditry business just love to ask ourselves is, when they debate, these two brilliant guys, I mean, as you saw tonight, John Edwards and Dick Cheney, Dick Cheney, I think, prefers to sit down when he debates and schmooze a bit. This guy clearly wants to address the jury standing up.
(UNINTELLIGIBLE) agree to disagree and Cheney will sit down, and he will stand up. Because that is the solution.
BROWN: That‘s not going to matter.
SCARBOROUGH: Let me (UNINTELLIGIBLE) about Dick Cheney, though. People underestimated him in 2000. Lieberman, a bright, likable guy, but I will tell you what, Dick Cheney...
FINEMAN: And he won that debate.
SCARBOROUGH: ... I thought there were parts that he cut Lieberman up. I will just say this, in the expectations game, nobody better underestimate Dick Cheney.
FINEMAN: Can I tell you what?
MATTHEWS: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on the cobra or the mongoose? I go with the mongoose.
SCARBOROUGH: I am going with Dick—I‘m going with Dick Cheney on that one.
FINEMAN: Let me just tell you this, knowing Edwards, knowing how he prepares, knowing how he learns, from now until that debate, every free moment he has, he is going to be preparing for that debate with Dick Cheney.
MITCHELL: But Howard, you just raised the point about the al Qaeda line.
MITCHELL: That‘s the one line in the speech that didn‘t sound authentic.
MATTHEWS: Why not?
MITCHELL: He didn‘t seem to have the stature. He didn‘t look the part.
FINEMAN: He didn‘t look the part. He didn‘t look the part.
MITCHELL: He‘s going to—he‘s going to destroy al Qaeda? I mean, John Edwards against Osama bin Laden?
SCARBOROUGH: Ronald Reagan he is not, yes.
MATTHEWS: You thought maybe he was going to sue al Qaeda.
MATTHEWS: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) John Edwards talking about an issue he really likes, values.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will have one clear, unmistakable message for al Qaeda and these terrorists. You cannot run. You cannot hide. We will destroy you.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MITCHELL: He‘s too pretty to say that.
BROWN: I disagree.
SCARBOROUGH: As Rush Limbaugh would say, when the Breck girl says it, it doesn‘t go so—but let me tell you.
MATTHEWS: You mean it was Pee Wee Herman speaking Luca Brasi?
MITCHELL: No, no.
SCARBOROUGH: Let‘s talk about the debate for one more second, because I have actually seen—I think we are going to see an extraordinarily fascinating debate this fall between him and Dick Cheney, because I have seen trial lawyers—not your favorites. I personally like them.
But I have seen trial lawyers sit across the table from the head of huge multinational corporations. It is always an absolutely fascinating debate. And that‘s exactly what we are going to see. We are going to see the head of Halliburton going up against one of the most polished trial lawyers. And I will tell you what. It is going to be a showdown.
FINEMAN: For Corporate America, it‘s great, because I have always thought, in recent years, the Democratic Party should be the plaintiff‘s party.
MATTHEWS: Yes, that‘s right.
FINEMAN: And the Republican Party is the defendant‘s party, the corporate law against plaintiff‘s attorneys.
MATTHEWS: Howard, can you imagine this brilliant young guy going before the American jury, with 90 million people watching him, saying, with all due respect, Mr. Vice President, you still work for Halliburton. It‘s going to be direct and personal.
BROWN: He may very well say that. That is distinct possibility, if the vice president can‘t answer the questions about that interlocutor relationship.
MATTHEWS: Why was the Army Corps of Engineers running memoranda by your office to get contracts?
MATTHEWS: No, I am telling you, you think he won‘t have the nerve to do that?
FINEMAN: What? To who?
MATTHEWS: Will he get that tough?
FINEMAN: John Edwards?
MATTHEWS: Will he go personal
FINEMAN: He absolutely will, if he is speaking to the jury of Americans.
MATTHEWS: Do you think so?
FINEMAN: He has got no choice. He has got no choice.
MITCHELL: It doesn‘t mean it isn‘t a cheap shot.
SCARBOROUGH: It is a cheap shot. And I will guarantee you, Dick Cheney—as we all know, Dick Cheney is going to be ready. And I am telling you again, there are a lot of people out there that like painting Dick Cheney as Darth Vader. John Edwards better tread lightly.
MATTHEWS: I will bet John Edwards goes for the cheese, Halliburton.
The question is, will that mouse trap snap on him?
SCARBOROUGH: ... down on him if he goes too aggressively.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the big question, the themes, though. He didn‘t talk about U.S. policy toward Iraq. If you read the speech closely and vet it, no statement of criticism that we went to war.
Many people in this audience tonight at this convention believe that‘s the profound question of this election. Should we have gone? He skipped it and got away with it.
MITCHELL: A lot of policy sort of promises. It was a like State of the Union laundry list of promises.
MITCHELL: But no policy. Very little substance.
MATTHEWS: Very little debate, really.
SCARBOROUGH: And, again, going back to Vietnam, listening to him talk about, we need a stable Iraq. Basically, we are not leaving. John Kerry is going to say the same thing.
Earlier, you interviewed Madeleine Albright. She‘s talking about we need to stay in Iraq; Jesse Jackson is wrong. It reminds me of the Democrats in 1966, 1967, the party establishment still saying, we can win Vietnam. We are going to stay in Vietnam.
I don‘t believe this is Vietnam. But can you imagine how angry the 95 percent of the base must be, seething in the hall, saying, hold on, this was going to be an anti-war campaign? This all began with an anti-war candidate named Howard Dean. He got us excited, and now you have got the Democratic Party establishment being the Scoop Jackson of the 21st century.
MATTHEWS: Well, not that far. But they have frustrated those people.
BROWN: No. No.
MATTHEWS: But I think tomorrow night, if I were John Kerry‘s speechwriter, although he claims he doesn‘t have one, I would give them the red meat of saying, we will never again go to war under false pretenses.
MATTHEWS: Something about—or bad intel, something that everybody,
even the moderates and even the hawks
SCARBOROUGH: John Kerry was the guy saying Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The quotes are out there like a mine field.
FINEMAN: One of the things that is interesting to me tonight, we were talking about before the speech, now we see the evidence.
I don‘t think Edwards attempted to prove himself as a commander in chief tonight at all. He was utterly credible on the domestic issues, on the kitchen-table issues.
MATTHEWS: Division of labor.
FINEMAN: He basically took a pass on the other stuff.
MITCHELL: That‘s for John Kerry tomorrow night.
MATTHEWS: I‘ve got to ask everybody and even—you do straight reporting on all this, and we are all trying to be objective here. If you were a speech coach—you can start, Mr. Mayor—and this was a rhetoric class, and you wanted to judge performance by this bright young lad, scale of five, where do you put it?
BROWN: Oh, I would give him a 3.8.
MATTHEWS: Boy, that was fine, 3.8. OK.
MATTHEWS: OK, Howard.
FINEMAN: On a scale of one to five, I would give him a 4.6. Every ad-lib he made improved...
MATTHEWS: You sound like Mort Kondracke here.
FINEMAN: Now, wait a minute.
FINEMAN: Oh, you cut me to the quick.
FINEMAN: Every ad lib he made in this speech—and he made many—made the speech better. It was amazing. He has a sure sense of how to make a speech.
MATTHEWS: Can I continue with my analysis here?
MATTHEWS: As a piece of rhetoric.
MITCHELL: Just as a piece of rhetoric.
MATTHEWS: Yes, not a political assessment.
MITCHELL: And delivery, 4.8.
SCARBOROUGH: Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton being a 5.0, Reagan in ‘80, Clinton in ‘92, it‘s a 4, 4.2.
MATTHEWS: Four-point what?
SCARBOROUGH: Four-point-two, yes.
FINEMAN: Can‘t we have automatic sort of tote board up here
SCARBOROUGH: Adding this up. Do we have the supercomputer calculating this?
MITCHELL: We are getting ready for the...
MATTHEWS: It comes out to 4.1, 4.1, not so bad.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, let‘s go back. Right now, we‘re going to watch the floor count. It‘s getting close to the—Minnesota, as planned, is going to throw to Ohio.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: .... to the great state of Ohio. Ohio, you have 159 votes. How do you cast them?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Madam Secretary, the great state of Ohio, the Buckeye State, the home of one of America‘s greatest heroes, Senator and astronaut John Glenn and his lovely wife, on behalf of the quarter-million Ohioans who have lost their job since President Bush has taken office, that deserve better than that, for the 1.2 million Ohioans without health care, that deserve health care.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But especially for the middle class Ohioans that get up every day, work hard, and play by the rules...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... that deserve a president in the White House that will give them a break and a sense of fair play, and that president will be Senator John Kerry—Senator.
JOHN GLENN, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Madam Chairman, we thank the great state of Minnesota very much for passing to Ohio. Ohio takes great pride tonight in being the state to put this voting over the top, in making John Kerry‘s candidacy official...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
GLENN: As we cast 159 votes for the next president of the United States, John Kerry.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Senator Glenn.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Ohio. Thank you so much.
Ohio casts all 159 votes for Senator Kerry.
Mississippi, please wait.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Madam Chairman...
SCARBOROUGH: So there you have it, John Kerry over the top, what a remarkable story over the past year.
Andrea Mitchell, you have been following this campaign. Howard Fineman, the same. It‘s remarkable. Here is a man that even Don Imus was saying was dead in the water a year ago, and yet, look how far he has come. It‘s remarkable turnaround story, isn‘t it?
MITCHELL: Well, it all happened in Iowa. And it was Ted Kennedy coming to his assistance in Iowa and helping him find his voice, and the failure of Howard Dean in Iowa, which helped John Kerry.
SCARBOROUGH: And isn‘t it ironic?
SCARBOROUGH: We talk about the failure of Howard Dean. What he did
back in Iowa was—remember, Saddam Hussein is captured. Howard Dean
says, it doesn‘t make America safer. You said, wait a second. He actually
· it was a bit of triangulation, wasn‘t it, Howard Fineman? He triangulated Howard Dean against George Bush and put himself in the middle.
FINEMAN: In retrospect, Howard Dean was the best thing that happened to John Kerry, because you know politics. Politics is about contrast. Compared with what? Compared with whom?
Faced with possibility of Howard Dean, the Democratic voters rushed back to the establishment and picked the guy who the insiders had wanted from the beginning. Key moment also last fall, does Kerry attack Dean? Bob Shrum, his adviser, and Kerry decided, no, we don‘t attack Howard Dean. We let Dick Gephardt and everybody else attack Howard Dean. We stay statesmanlike. We stay the insiders. And we win. That‘s exactly how it worked out.
SCARBOROUGH: And isn‘t it amazing?
MITCHELL: And the unions collapsed on Dick Gephardt.
SCARBOROUGH: On Dick Gephardt.
FINEMAN: It didn‘t show.
SCARBOROUGH: Mr. Mayor, isn‘t it amazing America is more divided politically than probably since 1968, 1972, and yet the two men standing at the end were the two men, as Howard Fineman said, decided they weren‘t going to go negative. They let Gephardt cut up Dean. Dean cuts up Gephardt. They take the high road. We saw that again tonight, a positive message for the Democratic Party. Is that what they need to do to beat George Bush?
BROWN: And they will do that again.
But they will also have their attack dogs who in many cases they will deny. Al Sharpton will be out there rallying the troops in the manner which he needs to rally the troops. Howard Dean will be out there rallying the troops. You won‘t see it. It will be below the radar screen, and the beneficiaries will be Kerry-Edwards.
FINEMAN: But, Mr. Mayor, it won‘t just be below the radar screen. It will be on the TV screen, because independent groups and the Democratic Party under the current rules are going to buy tons of advertising, I means tens or $30 million, $40, $50 million that will attack.
Kerry and Edwards will try to take the high road, stay positive, but the others will be on the attack.
MITCHELL: One of the most important players here at this convention is Harold Ickes, the leader of one of those 427 groups with all that money to now spend, to spend it around...
FINEMAN: Americans coming together.
MITCHELL: Americans coming together, they call it. These are the groups that get around McCain-Feingold and are spending all this money. Now that he has got the nomination, he cannot spend his own money any longer. It has to be party money or this back-door money.
SCARBOROUGH: Let me ask you real quickly what—we talked about Howard Dean going out and attacking Al Sharpton. What about the American Elvis of Democratic politics, Bill Clinton? Al Gore in 2000 didn‘t know how to love him, as the song went. What do they do with Bill Clinton?
MITCHELL: They send him to Tennessee. They send him to Arkansas. They send him to across those states where he still has the appeal. He is still a big star in Democratic politics. And until tonight, he at least gave the best speech of this convention.
BROWN: Let me also tell you that I think that the fact that the Republican establishment and operation has already spent somewhere between $80 and $100 million being almost full-time negative on Kerry, I think that‘s going to backfire.
I think the American people want to hear the positive stuff. They don‘t want to hear the negative stuff. Obviously, that goes to the Republican base, but the Republican base is not large enough to win this election. It is large enough...
FINEMAN: It didn‘t completely backfire.
SCARBOROUGH: Look at the polls numbers.
FINEMAN: They nicked Kerry up a little bit.
MATTHEWS: I think we have to mark a reality. After months of Democratic primary fighting and all those fund-raising you are talking about and all the efforts by John Kerry, he is now the Democratic nominee for president, officially tonight. It shows how wacky the whole system is, finally got around to recognizing he won the thing.
Anyway, I want to come back. When we come back, we‘re going to have Frank Luntz, a great pollster with a focus group of Ohio voters responding to John Edwards‘ speech tonight. I want to know at the end of this conversation with Frank whether Karl Rove in the White House is scared of what he saw tonight.
You‘re watching live coverage of the Democratic National Convention in Boston on MSNBC.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am pleased to announce that with your help the next vice president of the United States of America will be Senator John Edwards from North Carolina.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
J. EDWARDS: And together, we will ensure that the image of America, the image all of us love, America, this great shining light, this beacon of freedom, democracy, and human rights that the world looks up to is always lit.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Democratic Convention up in Boston.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MATTHEWS: John Kerry and John Edwards are now the official nominees for president and vice president of the Democratic Party. And Ohio was the state that put them over the top, a key state, by the way.
It happens to be where pollster Frank Luntz right now joins us with a focus group in Cincinnati, getting reactions to John Edwards‘ speech tonight—Frank.
FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER: Chris, you know, you asked a question, is this group going to frighten Karl Rove? Watch this. I want to get a wide shot here.
How many of you voted for George Bush in 2000? Raise your hands. And keep your hands up. Well over half of you. How many of you are planning to vote for George Bush in 2004? Look at that, Chris. It‘s been cut in half. If there ever was a group of people that have changed their minds that ought to frighten the White House, this is it.
We are in Cincinnati, Ohio, which should be a bastion Republican support, and yet these are the swing voters. These are the people that give John Kerry a five-point lead, when George Bush won the state in 2000 by 3 percentage points.
Give me a word or phrase to describe what you saw tonight with John Edwards, Sean (ph)?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say overly packaged, almost not genuine.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A centrist Democrat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clinton-like.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shallow.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Immature.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Optimistic.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Scripted.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Opportunist.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Disappointed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Naively optimistic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Politician.
LUNTZ: So you guys, you were very positive about the rhetoric, but less positive about the guy. What‘s up?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I don‘t think that he said anything that most conservatives couldn‘t agree with. He didn‘t talk specifically about how he is different from the opposing side.
LUNTZ: So he didn‘t sound too left-wing for you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, he was a centrist.
LUNTZ: And do you all agree with that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
LUNTZ: So he came across. So he achieved that goal.
Your reaction, Gary (ph), to Edwards tonight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unrealistic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because of what he wanted to do vs. what it‘s going to cost, and plus all the tax breaks and everything else we‘ve talked about.
LUNTZ: Teresa (ph), your reaction?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I agree with Larry. He just wants to spend too much money, but yet save us money.
LUNTZ: You reacted very positively to some of this rhetoric. And there‘s a couple bits that I want to play for the audience, in particular, when he talked about values and defining values. Behind me, you are going to see something called instant response.
The red line represents those who are Republican. The green line represents those who are independent or Democrat. The higher the lines go, the more favorable the reaction. And John Edwards had a number of very strong favorable lines.
Let‘s take a look at the first one, which deals with values.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
J. EDWARDS: We hear a lot of talk about values. Where I come from, you don‘t judge somebody‘s values based upon how they use that word in a political ad. You judge their values based upon what they have spent their life doing. So when a man volunteers to serve his country, a man volunteers and puts his life on the line for others, that is a man who represents real American values.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LUNTZ: That is one of the most positive reactions, when you get something that high.
Robert, what was so positive about that? Why do people react so favorably?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, because I think everybody realizes that talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words. And there can be no question in anybody‘s mind, whether you like Kerry or whether you don‘t like Kerry, that he has walked the walk.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly. He walks the walk, as well as talks the talk. And that‘s unusual these days.
LUNTZ: Laura (ph)?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exactly. It‘s real. That‘s something you can see. It‘s real. It‘s actually been done.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A politician puts his life on the line. We have lost presidents. So you can say, George Bush put his life on the line when he ran for president the first time. Every president does put his life on the line. You don‘t have to go to war to serve your country and risk your life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But John Kerry did.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
LUNTZ: And that matters to you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That matters to me.
LUNTZ: So because he was a war—would you call him a war hero?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
LUNTZ: How many of you, by a show of hands, would call him a war hero? Almost all of you. And that to you is a reason to at least consider supporting him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it shows me that he has the integrity and the fortitude and the courage to do what he may have to do over the next four years.
LUNTZ: You are one of these people who voted for Bush back in 2000.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That‘s correct.
LUNTZ: And you have switched.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have.
LUNTZ: Or you are considering switching. Why?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I think right now at this point, I am more disappointed in George Bush than I am pro-Kerry. Now, I have a lot of problems with the Democratic social values overall, things like pro-life issues and—but, right now, I am disappointed in what I have seen from George Bush over the last few years.
LUNTZ: Al Gore on the first day talked about, did you get what you voted for? Who else is disappointed in the performance of President Bush? Show of hands.
What are you disappointed with, Pamela (ph)?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am feeling as though maybe we have been duped.
He hasn‘t told us everything that we need to know.
LUNTZ: Jerry (ph)?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they call that Bush-whacked. And I share that. I think we have been told a lot of things that didn‘t come to pass.
LUNTZ: Now, there‘s something also fascinating about Ohio as one of the states who have shifted, which is the issue of jobs. And John Edwards talked about jobs. And, again, this is one of those high points, where you dialed it up very high. So, obviously, you agree with what he had to say. Let‘s run this clip on jobs and outsourcing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
J. EDWARDS: We can create good-paying jobs in this country again. We are going to get rid of tax cuts for companies who are outsourcing your jobs.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
J. EDWARDS: And, instead, we are going to give tax breaks to American companies that are keeping jobs right here in America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LUNTZ: Again, he used that magic word, outsourcing, and something positive happened there.
Explain that to me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don‘t think he was talking—what was positive for me wasn‘t the fact about the jobs. But you‘re giving him—I want to give people positive reinforcement for keeping jobs here, not positive reinforcement for taking them away.
LUNTZ: Chris, these are your quintessential swing voters, and they are swinging away from Bush, but they have not yet decided, even after tonight, whether John Kerry deserves their vote.
FINEMAN: Well, at first blush, if that focus group is indicative of anything, this speech didn‘t move a lot, and that even though John Edwards‘ performance was good, his rhetoric was right on target, he was so well-spoken, so practiced, so appealing that he almost overdid it, at least in the minds of some of those voters.
MATTHEWS: A lot of buyers‘ resistance among that group.
MATTHEWS: One guy wasn‘t going to give him a break no matter what he said.
FINEMAN: Well, it is Cincinnati. It is a southern part of Ohio.
It‘s a conservative part.
MITCHELL: It‘s a Republican part of Ohio.
MITCHELL: But what was interesting was the language, naively optimistic, the use of John Edwards.
MITCHELL: He has not persuaded these particular voters. His appearance was a little bit too perfect, perhaps.
FINEMAN: If that means anything.
BROWN: Chris, John Edwards‘ job was not to harm Kerry‘s chances with
this collection of people. He achieved that goal. That was not an
expression of rejection of Kerry—of Edwards because of his
MITCHELL: But he has got to deliver
FINEMAN: Also, I got the...
MATTHEWS: Mr. Mayor, who is going to deliver the soft Republican vote that John Kerry hopes to get if it‘s not John Edwards?
BROWN: In this particular election, I think John Edwards and John Kerry together will have to deliver that vote. I don‘t believe that it‘s going to be Edwards alone. I think in the South, it‘s going to be Edwards. That‘s his responsibility. But in those states like Ohio, it‘s going to be the local people, plus John Kerry.
Knowing what you know tonight, Andrea, and you cover the White House -
· you have covered the White House. You‘ve covered everything in politics.
Knowing Karl Rove is a shrewd, shrewd campaign manager for the president, do you think this guy got above what they expected tonight?
MITCHELL: I think he did get above what they expected tonight. And they are going to really try to muddy him up on the $87 billion, his youth and inexperience, and contrast that with Dick Cheney‘s experience.
FINEMAN: Chris, his articulateness and his good looks are both his great assets as a politician and also possibly a limiting factor.
I think he is a good-looking guy who has really got star quality, but does he have the experience to match up with his skill as a speaker? If that focus group is any indication—and keeping in mind it is southern Ohio, a conservative part of the country—there may be some resistance. There may be some worry.
FINEMAN: Somebody is called Clinton-like, that‘s not necessarily a compliment.
MATTHEWS: Well, I got to tell you, it‘s like everything else in this campaign. It‘s a close call.
MATTHEWS: And it‘s coming in every night just as close. We are watching this thing, watching for that needle to move.
MATTHEWS: And it‘s not moving. It‘s right at 50/50.
Howard Fineman, Mayor Brown, Mayor Willie Brown of San Francisco for so many years, and Andrea Mitchell, who knows her stuff.
And I want to thank Frank Luntz, of course, for that excellent focus group from Cincinnati, Ohio.
Joe Scarborough and Ron Reagan are going to take over our coverage for “After Hours,” a wrapup of everything that went here—went on here in Boston today. And what a night it was. Plus, your phone calls. You can call these guys.
I will be right back tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. Eastern for the final day of the Democratic Convention. I wish it wasn‘t over so soon. And it‘s a big one. John Kerry will accept his party nomination tomorrow night.
We‘ll see you then.
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