Guest: David Nyhan, David Gergen, Barney Frank, Robert Hill, Ed Gillespie, Daniel Buck
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Join us in this cause! Let‘s make America stronger at home and more respected in the world. Let‘s ensure that once again, in our one America—our one America -- tomorrow will always be better than today. Thank you. God bless you, God bless the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Welcome back. I‘m Chris Matthews, live from historic Faneuil Hall. You can see it in the background. To remind everybody that‘s where Jack Kennedy spoke to the nation the night before the 1960 presidential election.
I just want to call on the people who‘ve come out here tonight, some on the way home from work, some as tourists, and ask them, what do you want to do here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let‘s play HARDBALL!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let‘s play HARDBALL!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let‘s play HARDBALL!
MATTHEWS: Tonight, John Kerry formally accepts his party‘s nomination in the biggest speech of his life. I‘m here with the panel, MSNBC‘s Ron Reagan, who gave a great speech the other night, former Bill Clinton press secretary Dee Dee Myers, veteran journalist David Nyhan, who was with “The Boston Globe” for over 30 years. He‘s now a double dipper. And former presidential adviser David Gergen.
DAVID NYHAN, EAGLE NEWSPAPERS POLITICAL COLUMNIST: Matthews, you‘ve been here so long, you‘re starting to look like John Hancock.
MATTHEWS: I got to ask you (UNINTELLIGIBLE) not ripping the scab off with Nyhan right now. We have come out of conventions in the past, 1988 and others, where there‘s a tremendous feeling like this that the Democrats can—you know, they‘re loaded for bear. They‘re going out there. They‘re going to win the election. And then we‘re going out to the other parts of the country, Kansas, Ohio, Missouri, places like that, and it seems like the illusion is broken. We‘re back in the real world again. We‘re not in Massachusetts anymore.
Do you see that this year? I know you don‘t want to admit it, but do you see it?
NYHAN: Dukakis, Ron, was up 17 points in ‘88 when he ended his convention in Atlanta, and then went right into the tarmac. Kerry swears he will not do that. And I think he‘s a different guy. He got a military record. He‘s...
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Go up 17 or go in the tarmac?
DEE DEE MYERS, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, then, of course, Dukakis...
NYHAN: Hey, why are they all picking on me? I just got here!
NYHAN: ... playing softball.
MATTHEWS: I want to offer you a middle course. Dukakis didn‘t sell, Jack Kennedy did sell, both from Massachusetts, both with strong Massachusetts accents. Kerry sounds and looks like he‘s from Massachusetts. Is he closer to Kennedy or closer to Dukakis?
NYHAN: Well, initial-wise, he‘s with Kennedy. He‘s also not short. He‘s not Greek. And he‘s a much tougher guy. He‘s also pulled the trigger in defense of the country. He jumped off a swift boat. He ran around behind the hooch, and he plugged the Viet Cong who was aiming an RPG at his crew. So he has the kind of record that will make it harder for the Bush political machine to minimize him.
MATTHEWS: He might be the first presidential candidate since Andy Jackson to have killed somebody, to be blunt about it.
MATTHEWS: Is that too blunt?
NYHAN: I don‘t know, but this...
NYHAN: ... Bush is killing me, Chris!
MATTHEWS: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) metaphorically. Teddy Roosevelt shot a lot of elephants. I don‘t know if he killed anybody human. Let me ask you about...
GERGEN: ... San Juan Hill.
REAGAN: Yes, San Juan Hill.
MATTHEWS: ... shot some Cubans?
MATTHEWS: Let me ask about this speech tonight because all you guys are writers. You‘ve become a hell of a writer. Dee Dee‘s written a lot of press releases over the years, a lot of political mumbo-jumbo.
MYERS: You could say that with a little more respect, please!
MATTHEWS: How about the fine points of attention, importance to us all—important to us all. Let me ask all of you—let‘s start with Dee Dee. If you were putting the speech together tonight, would you take on the war issue or step around it, like Edwards did last night?
MYERS: I‘d take it on more directly than Edwards did last night in talking about it. I mean, Kerry obviously voted for the war, and I think he‘s left a little too much smoke around why he voted for the war and how he‘s criticizing the president now. And I think he needs to go back and explain that, not in excruciating detail, but in some broad principled strokes.
MATTHEWS: How about applause lines? We‘ve seen some already, these lines we‘re looking at. David, you‘ve seen them.
MYERS: These are applause lines?
MATTHEWS: Well, they‘re meant to be. Some of these...
MATTHEWS: Do you want to go on? No, I read them. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) we‘ll never go to war unless, you know, it‘s backed up by the facts. And there‘s some red meat out there that‘s going to be thrown to the audience tonight, David.
GERGEN: Yes, I would hope so. But let me tell you this, Chris. I think if he can focus on the war in Iraq, I think that‘s a winner for him. Talks about the war on terrorism, I don‘t think that works as well for him. If the election turns on the war in Iraq, I think it helps Kerry. If it turns on the broader war on terrorism, you know, Bush is in a stronger position on that. So I think he ought to go straight on Iraq. I think he ought to go straight at the question of whether the country was misled or not on weapons of mass destruction and all the rest. Somebody‘s got to make that case here at the Democratic Party and make it hard without personalizing it, without going after the president personally.
MATTHEWS: Let me read it. I can‘t read it in John Kerry‘s accented voice, but here‘s what he‘s going to say tonight during what looks to be an hour-long speech at 10:00 o‘clock tonight Eastern time. “As president, I will ask hard questions”—this is a media release—“hard questions and demand hard evidence. I will immediately reform the intelligence system so policy is guided by facts and facts are never distorted by politics. And as president, I will bring back this nation‘s time-honored tradition. The United States of America will never go to war because we want to, we only to go war because we have to. I‘ve defended this country as a young man, and I will defend it as president. Let there be no mistake. I will never hesitate to use force when it is required. Any attack will be met with swift and certain response. I will never give any nation or international institution a veto”—there‘s a direct response to Cheney—“over our national security, and I will build a stronger American military.”
That seem to cover all the bases. It‘s, I‘m not going to be Bush, but I‘m going to be strong. David?
NYHAN: I‘m disappointed if that‘s all that he has to say. He has to address the war issue. Everything that you just read he has said before on the campaign trail. We‘ve heard that. I don‘t know what the answer is, but I hope that he has something that the country can rally around because I think it is the election—the issue on which the election turns.
GERGEN: Iraq. Iraq.
NYHAN: Yes, Iraq is. And I think that he—he has to really grab it tonight, and I hope he knocks it out of the park.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s go to Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts, a member of Congress who did vote against the war resolution back in 2002. Congressman Frank, do you think the presidential candidate of your party will make a stark statement against the war?
REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Oh, I haven‘t been given an advance copy. I can‘t predict what he‘s going to say.
MATTHEWS: Would you like him to be direct on that issue or be couched?
FRANK: I think he can focus on where we are today, which is that the war in Iraq is the most incompetently handled major national security operation in our history. And whether you were for the war, or against it, as I was, we‘re now there, and the question is, how do we extract ourselves? And I think what he ought to be talking about is what an extraordinary mess the Bush administration made with the in-fighting. We‘ve never seen the various elements—the Defense Department, the State Department, the security adviser—at war with each other while being at war with others. So he ought to talk about how he plans to reduce the terrible burden that the Bush incompetence has imposed on us.
MATTHEWS: Should he address the question of philosophy, of doctrine, of the idea of the Bush doctrine, which is preemptive war, or as they call it...
MATTHEWS: ... that kind of thing, preventive war?
FRANK: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And what he ought to point out is that the problem has been, in part, a doctrine of preemptive war, which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, where people—and in fact, I don‘t believe—and I think this ought to be clear. The war in Iraq was not a preemptive war. People like Paul Wolfowitz and others in the Defense Department had been planning that war. That wasn‘t preemptive, that was part of a geopolitical strategy.
But yes, John Kerry ought to be clear that if it is necessary to defend ourselves, we‘ll do it. But otherwise, you do not get easily into war. You know, the war in Iraq will soon have cost us over $300 billion at a time when we cannot meet basic necessities and various federal needs?
MATTHEWS: You know, I listened to Mrs.—the senator, Hillary Clinton, yesterday at a luncheon which was on the record. And she was asked why doesn‘t the candidate go beyond the 40 percent that‘s backing him now, or 45 percent, with an argument that it was a mistake, that he was misled by the case made for the war by the bad intelligence, the arguments which were doctrinaire, and that he wishes he hadn‘t done it. And her response was very political. She said, Because most of the people in the middle, the persuadables, as they‘re called, and she used that term, are ambivalent about whether we should have gone to war. And it would be dangerous, she suggested, to move toward that position. Do you think that‘s a smart political assessment?
FRANK: I don‘t know, Chris. I think when we‘re talking about foreign policy of this sort that we ought to be focusing on substance. I don‘t claim to be that kind of a political expert (UNINTELLIGIBLE) theses kinds of poll. I do think you can make an obvious case that the Bush administration misunderstood this situation, has mishandled it. Go back to what they were saying a year-and-a-half-ago, and virtually everything they were saying has been proven wrong. Everything they tried didn‘t work. And I think the people are ready, even if they agreed with the war, to take another try at trying to run it better.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about John Kerry. Is there anything that you know about him as a fellow legislator all these years, -- and you‘ve worked with him on caucuses for the state and fought for the commonwealth issues—you really know him as a legislator and as a political figure. Is there anything that we‘re getting a wrong take on nationally about him that you can straighten out a bit?
FRANK: Well, I would talk more, if I were he, about his very effective record as the chief prosecutor in the largest county in Massachusetts. If you go look at the size of the jurisdiction, John Kerry, as a first assistant DA running the office, locked up more bad guys per capita than John Ashcroft. Of course, Ashcroft has locked up more people. But if you limit to it bad guys, Kerry would be ahead.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you very much, U.S. congressman from Massachusetts Barney Frank.
Go ahead, David.
NYHAN: You know, I have a line that I wish I would hear tonight from Kerry, and it is simply this. And it addresses those persuadables that Hillary was talking about. If I‘m elected president, I will not wait until the body count reached 900 on my watch before I attend my first funeral for a slain GI.
REAGAN: Kerry has never dealt effectively with the war question and his initial vote on this. He should—this speech should feel like a risk to him. Great speeches are not safe speeches. They reach, they aspire, they‘re a little over the audience‘s head, not too much, but enough that the audience has to reach up...
MATTHEWS: And they‘re striking.
REAGAN: ... grab hold and go for the ride.
MATTHEWS: And they‘re not mellow, they‘re striking.
REAGAN: ... unconventional.
GERGEN: Boy, do I agree with that. You don‘t give a speech, a convention speech, an acceptance speech in pastels. You put up bold colors, and, Here‘s where we‘re going to go. You have to do it with strength, with conviction and with...
NYHAN: Were you writing your old man‘s stuff? That was pretty good.
I liked that.
MATTHEWS: ... great speech writer already. Let me ask you this, David. The counsel of fear, however, will be in his ears. There will be people around John Kerry all these days coming up to tonight and saying, You got it won, Senator. The tide‘s in your favor. They‘re disgusted with the war policy. By November, it‘ll be perfect for you. Don‘t rock the boat. What do you say to them?
GERGEN: I say, You want to sit on your lead? Remember President Dewey. Wasn‘t he a great candidate? Sit on your lead, you will see it disappear. You‘ve got to fight for this. The office is something you fight for all the way. And the one time he really showed his colors, since he declared, was in Iowa, when he fought. And he was at his best when he fought.
MATTHEWS: But people say John Kerry—you know him better, David—only fights when he‘s in the final redoubt, when it‘s only, like, the Alamo‘s about to fall, so he blows up the powder magazine. Only then.
NYHAN: He‘s like a military guy who tries to take a cautious approach to the attack. And then when things are falling apart, then he starts scrapping. And he...
NYHAN: He‘s a tough character when his back is to the wall. But he should listen to what Teddy Kennedy told me years ago, when Teddy at one point was even with Mitt Romney in a Senate reelection. And Teddy pulled it out handsomely, but he said, Come on, Nyhan. You know the voters in Massachusetts. They like to see you sweat.
NYHAN: They want to know what you‘re going to do for them this time.
MATTHEWS: Well, we‘ll be back. I think he‘s sweating right now. I imagine there‘s butterflies in the cloakroom. We‘re coming back. The big speech tonight, 10:00 o‘clock, John Kerry. This is like the pre-game for the super night at the Democratic convention. And everybody‘s here. We‘re going to have Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert joining us.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, live coverage of the Democratic national convention on HARDBALL (UNINTELLIGIBLE) MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN CHANCELLOR, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Right now, I‘m in the middle of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, or what‘s left of it. They say all 68 or 69 delegates are here. They are starting their march in the hall now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: 1964 brought the Democratic convention its first taste of chaos when the integrated members of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party tried to make their way onto the floor of a locked convention hall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANK MCGEE, NBC CORRESPONDENT: So the FDP now has (UNINTELLIGIBLE) delegation (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of this convention. How long will it stay? We don‘t know. This is Frank McGee on the convention floor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: We‘re back with HARDBALL‘s coverage of the Democratic national convention up here in Boston on MSNBC. And we‘ve got an incredible crowd out here. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) It is fright (ph) night out here. We got a chance right now to go to the people who have covered these conventions for many years. Let‘s go right now to MSNBC anchorman Tom Brokaw and moderator of “Meet the Press” Tim Russert. Gentlemen—not yet? Well, I tried.
Look, I want to ask somebody here to—what do you think—everybody think Kerry will give a good speech tonight?
MATTHEWS: How many—how many are secretly afraid he‘ll give a clunker. You‘re not afraid? Be not afraid. Be not afraid. Let me ask you this. Are there any Republicans yet in the crowd?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No!
MATTHEWS: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- to you? How many people think that Boston is typical of this country?
MATTHEWS: Let me ask that again. Let me ask—I‘m asking you if you folks think you‘re like—if you came to America and you were looking for a random sample of typical Americans from coast to coast, including Kansas, Colorado, the Dakotas, Mississippi, Alabama, how many think that Boston is typical? I hope you realize that.
I want to know here, how many like Ben Affleck?
MATTHEWS: How many like Matt Damon better?
MATTHEWS: I like Matt Damon, but Ben Affleck sure knows his stuff.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)MATTHEWS: Huh?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) great.
MATTHEWS: You like Kerry better? Let me—how many—on a scale of 1 to 10, how many thought John Edwards‘s speech last night was a 5? How many thought it was a 6? A 4? A 7? A 3? An 8? A 2? A 9?
MATTHEWS: A 1? A 10?
MATTHEWS: I want to know if anybody has a question they want to ask Tom Brokaw. Oh, you‘re afraid! You‘re afraid! How about Tim Brokaw? Tim Russert. You, what‘s your question for Tom Brokaw? He‘ll be on in a minute.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘d like to ask him why he doesn‘t ask the tough questions to the Republicans like...
MATTHEWS: Anybody have any other ideas?
MATTHEWS: Let‘s go right now to Carl Quintanilla. He‘s joining us right now from the floor—Carl.
CARL QUINTANILLA, NBC CORRESPONDENT: All right, Chris. You know, part of what we‘re talking about down here is how delegates feel about a convention that‘s obviously been very highly produced and has kept the Bush-bashing to a minimum. Robert Hill‘s been a trial attorney in Tennessee for a long time.
First thing you said when I came up to you was, I want to win. And you said you‘re willing to bash Bush, but you agree they can‘t say that on stage. Why not?
ROBERT HILL, TENNESSEE DELEGATE: I think, Carl, the problem here is not the Democrats. We would love to bash him. Not the Republicans. It is the great middle third of this country that‘s looking for good government, looking for good treatment for health care, whatever it is. That third is not looking for Bush-bashers, they‘re looking for a good government. And we think we have to offer them a plan and a program. And yes, I agree, our convention has been managed to a certain extent. But I think it shows that we‘re willing to lead in the right direction and put up men who are willing to give us that leadership with that courage that it takes to make hard decisions.
QUINTANILLA: But doesn‘t that—I mean, doesn‘t that make the convention look lifeless, like you‘re thinking with your head and not your heart? And I mean, doesn‘t that make the party...
HILL: Do I look lifeless? Do I look like I don‘t have heart? Yes, I would love to bash Bush. I‘d love to bash him right here on national TV. But do I want to win? Do I want the White House to be back in the hands of real people, instead of corporate America? No, I want the Democrats back in the White House, back into Congress, back in the Senate and the House.
QUINTANILLA: So how satisfying was it last night when Sharpton veered way off script and tossed some red meat in the audience?
HILL: I cried. I literally shed great tears because what Al Sharpton said is what I believe. I do believe that there is two Americas. I do believe that we have two public school systems. I do believe that we have two health care system. And I do think that these two men that we‘re going to be our nominees tonight offer us the best plan for the future. I really do.
QUINTANILLA: John Kerry‘s going to speak in just a couple of hours. So when he gets up there and delivers a message that is highly tailored and doesn‘t get anywhere near what you‘re thinking right here, that‘s not going to bother you?
HILL: It‘s not going to bother me because I know where John Kerry‘s heart is, and I really know where John Edwards‘s heart is. And I know that they will give us the heartfelt leadership, the love and the understanding that this nation needs to get out of this hole that we‘ve been put in for four years.
QUINTANILLA: Let me ask you this. You‘ve got a room full of delegates tonight who obviously know that the candidate on stage is almost looking over their head. I mean, he‘s looking out at—not at this room but at a living room in Springfield or Tampa or Albuquerque.
HILL: He‘s looking at America. He‘s looking at America. This is America. This convention is America. You look out over this convention and—this is my first convention. This was an absolutely wonderful experience because it was America. We‘ve got 30 black members of a 75, almost 80-member delegation. We‘ve got 12 people under the age of 30. We‘ve got several under the age of 20. It is America. The Democratic Party has always been America. That‘s all. You know, I‘ve been a Democrat since I was born. I was born in a Democratic family in a Republican part of Tennessee, which was East Tennessee. But we‘re going to win Tennessee.
QUINTANILLA: Robert Hill, thanks very much, a trial attorney, Chris, a profession that is very much in vogue in this room tonight. Back to you.
MATTHEWS: That was Carl Quintanilla interviewing a very regular guy who was quite articulate about the management of this convention.
The Republican Party, David Gergen, is going to come back starting tomorrow, probably, maybe tonight, saying that this was a makeover, that the party you saw on television was not the party that wants to take office next November. You have Democrats admitting on television, as this gentleman just did, a delegate, that it was a makeover, it is a cover-up. Won‘t that make the Republican case?
GERGEN: Well, listen, I think everybody knows that when we watched the last Republican convention, there were tons and tons of black faces up there, and we didn‘t see a whole lot of black faces among the people represented in the party to vote for them. This happens on both sides. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Is it still smart to go to the middle? It‘s very smart for John Kerry to try to get back more to the middle. A lot depends on his speech tonight. If his speech commits himself not only to centrist—fairly centrist, third—like, Clinton-type policies on domestic, and he does what Edwards did last night, which was—Edwards went to the right of Bush on foreign policy, on the military side...
MATTHEWS: Remember how Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilton in that duel?
MATTHEWS: Hamilton pointed off in some other direction, Burr shot at him and killed him. If the Democrats shoot off in some other direction and the Republicans shoot directly at them, they will lose this—do you think the Republicans are going to be afraid to smash the Democrats at their convention?
GERGEN: Are you kidding?
MATTHEWS: They‘re going to keel-haul them!
GERGEN: Are you...
MATTHEWS: So why do the Democrats have to be milquetoast when they‘re going to battle who are going to kill them?
GERGEN: Whoa! Chris! You came out of your cage. You‘ve been in there talking to the people.
MATTHEWS: I‘m curious!
MATTHEWS: Is this a good strategy, David Nyhan, not to shoot at your opponent in a duel?
NYHAN: If we‘re—well, Kerry‘s already answered that had question when he jumped off the boat and plugged the Viet Cong.
MATTHEWS: I‘m talking about politics.
NYHAN: He didn‘t shoot like this.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I know, but in politics, isn‘t it a mistake for one party to say, We‘re gentlemen. We won‘t shoot at the opponent. We‘ll shoot off in a direction—the Democrats are shooting away from the Republicans. They‘re not knocking the president this week.
REAGAN: The Republicans have intimidated the Democrats. It‘s the Whoopi factor.
MATTHEWS: So they‘ve won...
REAGAN: They‘re afraid of being...
MATTHEWS: ... the argument already.
REAGAN: ... called hate-filled. You know, I don‘t know if Aaron Burr was a Republican or not, but...
MATTHEWS: They all changed names.
REAGAN: But what will we say? What will we, the larger we that sits at tables like this, say about the Republicans when they keel-haul Kerry?
MATTHEWS: If there‘s no bounce by Sunday, people will say the Democrats were intimidated...
MYERS: But you know...
MATTHEWS: ... out of saying anything.
MYERS: ... there‘s a danger in going too negative, too. And I think that‘s something that the Democrats...
MATTHEWS: Well, they know that.
MYERS: ... are nervous about.
MATTHEWS: We know that. Is there a danger of not doing it?
MYERS: There is. And I think what they tried to do was to do what Bill Clinton did, which is attack with a friendlier face because I think Clinton drew some really sharp distinctions. Jimmy Carter drew some sharp distinctions. John Edwards did some.
MATTHEWS: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) this is a velvet glove attack on the presidency this week?
MYERS: Yes, I would say...
MATTHEWS: Do you think...
MYERS: ... and I think that can be...
MATTHEWS: I think it was all velvet not—or all glove and not enough...
GERGEN: ... no steel inside the glove.
GERGEN: There‘s no steel inside the velvet. That was the problem with it. I have to tell you, I think that you‘ve got to avoid in this kind of campaign—I think they‘re right. Try to avoid personalizing it. Don‘t go after George W. Bush personally. But go—I think that they need to make the case on national television of what their argument is against the Bush administration and why they‘ll do something different. And I don‘t think...
GERGEN: I do not think they‘ve made that.
MATTHEWS: You think they‘ve made it? Does anybody here think they‘ve made a hard case...
MYERS: Kerry has to finish it.
MATTHEWS: Has anybody made a hard case for change?
NYHAN: You guys have missed the speeches! Clinton, Gore, Jimmy Carter, Teddy Kennedy, Edwards a little bit—as a John the Baptist, Edwards is not exactly a spear-thrower. I‘ll say that. But the other guys, in a restrained and dignified fashion, made the case. Chris, the most important thing that happened this week is General Shalish...
NYHAN: ... Shalikashvilli coming out—I can‘t spell it, but I know a good story when I see it.
MATTHEWS: I‘m glad you caught that one. It‘s a column. I‘m not sure it‘s a front page top of the fold.
Coming up, NBC‘s Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert preview John Kerry‘s big acceptance speech tonight. You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Democratic national convention up here in Boston on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ABRAHAM RIBICOFF (D), CONNECTICUT: And with George McGovern as president of the United States, we wouldn‘t have to have Gestapo tactics in the streets of Chicago!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Senator Abraham‘s Ribicoff‘s jab at Chicago mayor Richard Daley electrified the delegates of the 1968 convention, but nothing could match the power of the pictures from the streets of Chicago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole world is watching!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The whole world is watching!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole world is watching!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: By week‘s end, there were nearly 600 arrests and over 200 injuries. But ultimately, it was the Democratic Party that was left battered and bruised.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL SHARPTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mr. President, we love America! But we believed if we kept on working, if we kept on marching, if we kept on voting, if we kept on believing, we would make America beautiful for everybody.
Starting in November, let‘s make America beautiful again.
Thank you. And God bless you.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL‘s coverage of the Democratic Convention live from Faneuil Hall.
Joining me now is NBC‘s Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert.
Tom, do you get the word, are you hearing the word that the Republicans—or, rather, the Democrats—may sense that they have torqued this whole convention too low and that they‘re not quite exploiting this opportunity?
TOM BROKAW, NBC ANCHOR: Well, I think that a lot of them are going around and, just anecdotally, Chris, they‘re saying to each other, what do you think? How is it going? It‘s going pretty well. But there‘s no kind of a sense of enthusiasm. I think the highlight so far was Monday night.
And as I was just watching Al Sharpton there, who appeared here last night and ran over just a tad.
BROKAW: The arc and the difference between Al Sharpton‘s style and John Kerry‘s style is a lot more than 180 degrees.
But here‘s what‘s important, I think. These delegates are a lot more liberal than the rest of the country. These are the people who are going to vote for John Kerry. And what John Kerry has to do is reach out beyond this hall to the national television audience out there tonight in places like Wisconsin and in Arizona and in Nevada and in Ohio, trying to decide who they want to vote for. It is not these delegates that he has to talk to. It is that television audience that is out there across the landscape tonight, taking the measure of him.
So I think that is the critical part. And everything that has gone up to this point is prologue, frankly. This convention tonight really lives or dies on the strength of his performance. They got off to a roaring start on Monday night. And you can say, I suppose, as you orchestrate this, that they had some other high points and some low points as well.
But it all comes down to tonight and it goes well beyond this hall—
TIM RUSSERT, NBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Yes.
And I think, Chris, you‘re on to something, though. I think it has been a cautious convention. And that kind of—is indicative of John Kerry and the kind of campaign he has run. But I think if we look inside those themes, John Edwards last night, the economic populism on tax cuts and on health care, combined with this toughness on defense, increasing the size of the military, doubling the size of special forces, I think John Kerry is going to pick up on those same two themes tonight.
It is reminding me so much of 1960, when John Kennedy, a war hero like John Kerry, ran to the right of Richard Nixon on defense, declaring a missile gap. John Kerry is declaring a shortage in the armed forces of the United States that only he can fix as a Vietnam veteran tough enough to be commander in chief.
MATTHEWS: Well, in this case, it may well be that he‘s telling the truth. Of course, in the other case, Kennedy was overstating that gap.
Let me ask you about the kind of speech you think Kerry has to give tonight. It seems like the raw meat in the prerelease materials has to do with the war. Do you think there will be a lot of applause lines where it gives the delegates a chance to let off their steam that aren‘t exactly as far off in the direction as Reverend Sharpton‘s speech last night or even Howard Dean‘s?
BROKAW: Well, I—to go back to what I was saying earlier, I think it is not just this hall that he has to play to, but he has to assure the people out there that he‘s up to protecting their national security, that in fact he has a real plan for dealing with Iraq; 95 percent of these delegates, as you know, Chris, are opposed to the war.
So what they would love to have him say is, I‘m going to bring the troops home tomorrow, probably, if you were to put them on the polygraph of some kind. But that‘s not what he has to do to connect to the American public. It is a complex situation. Most of the excerpts that we have seen, as you pointed out, have to do with national security and the war, because, in fact, this country is at war. It is the large overarching issue of our time.
It affects the country. It affects anxiety. Families are separated. The Middle East remains an explosive part of the world. The consequences are enormous. So it makes sense to me that he‘s going to address it. But he may not address it in the way that these delegates who have come here to Boston would like for him to.
MATTHEWS: Well, here‘s a line. Here‘s a line, Tim. It looks like the big one—it may not be the biggest of the night, but it is certainly a big one they served up earlier in the prereleased text—quote—“As president, I will bring back this nation‘s time-honored tradition. The United States of America never goes to war because we want to. We only go to war because we have to.”
Will that be enough for the delegates and not too much for the country?
RUSSERT: No, I think he has to go beyond that, Chris.
Having voted for the war, John Kerry now has an obligation to this convention and to the American people to show how he would manage it differently. What is his road map to deal with the ongoing situation in Iraq which he could be forced to say he helped create by voting for authorization? It‘s not enough to say, well, it was a mistake going in, having voted for it.
And I do think we‘ll begin to see some sense of how John Kerry would finesse or manage internationalizing the war in Iraq.
MATTHEWS: One thing that surprises me, Tom and Tim, is that already John Kerry is listening to footsteps. Look at this part of the speech just after the quote I gave you before. It sounds like he‘s responding here to a statement by Dick Cheney just the other day: “Any attack will be met with a swift and certain response. I will never give any nation or international institution a veto over our foreign policy”—“our national security,” rather.
It sounds like that is a response to Dick Cheney saying we don‘t need a permission slip from the French.
BROKAW: Yes, and because John Kerry has in fact emphasized that he will go to the United Nations and other international agencies like NATO and begin to rebuild the alliances. And the Republicans have seized on that. It really has been one of the most effective lines of the administration. The Bush administration has used this, that we‘ll make a decision about our own destiny here.
And, frankly, I happen to think that that part of the Kerry plan for Iraq probably has been overplayed, because the idea that you‘re going to get the French to turn around just because we have a change in presidencies here or get NATO—and they‘re struggling with that even today, for example, about what the role of NATO will be. There‘s great resistance going on in Europe and it is not just directed at George Bush. It is really directed at getting involved in a war in which NATO doesn‘t believe it has a stake.
And John Kerry suggesting that he can go to NATO or the U.N. and change all that seems to me to be hyperbole at best.
MATTHEWS: You know, one of the things that surprises me is that Carl Quintanilla was able to get a delegate to admit just a few moments ago on MSNBC that this has been a managed convention. It seems to me that‘s perfect evidence for the Republican people like Gillespie—Ed Gillespie is going to be on here in a minute—to say, this is makeover week.
You‘ve been to the plastic surgeon, Democrats. Why should we believe a word you said at your convention—Tim.
RUSSERT: Well, I‘ve heard that all week long from the Republicans, Chris. Exactly right.
And when John Edwards last night talked about hunting down and killing the terrorists, one of the delegates said to me today, you know, the Republicans are terrorizing us about the war on terror and being tough enough. But, you know, with Ed Gillespie, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rudy Giuliani and John McCain are the prime-time speakers in the Republican primary. It is not Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and other longtime conservative Republicans.
Both parties understand, Chris, the game is the 10 percent undecided in those 18 battleground states. And they‘re using their moderate face to win them over.
MATTHEWS: That‘s right. They used to say—back in the old days, when we were driving around, Tim, looking for girls, they would always say, face man up front in the car.
MATTHEWS: I got to say, this is the Democrats and the Republicans‘ strategy.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert. Thanks.
Joining me right now, a man keeping a very close eye on this convention, Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie. He‘s over in the RNC‘s war room.
Is that the game, cosmetics, Ed, for both parties?
ED GILLESPIE, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Well, certainly, for this party, what we‘ve seen in Boston is no discussion whatsoever of Senator Kerry‘s record in the United States Senate, none of the talks about the votes he has cast over his 20 years there.
And I take Tim‘s point. The problem here or the issue here is not who they have speaking. It‘s what they‘re speaking about. And the fact is, we will run on President Bush‘s record in New York. That‘s different than what‘s going on here. They are running from Senator Kerry‘s record in Boston. They‘ve been completely backward-looking. And the excerpts I‘ve seen from Senator Kerry‘s speech is very backward-looking as well.
President Bush will begin this week and over the next four weeks start
· begin to talk about the next four years and be talking about new ideas, new policies, a new term.
GILLESPIE: That‘s very exciting. We didn‘t hear that at all here in Boston.
MATTHEWS: But, you know, just to make a point made earlier, you are going to put your more glamorous figures up front who are all pretty liberal on the cultural issues that are such a part of this campaign, certainly Arnold Schwarzenegger, certainly Rudolph Giuliani.
These bicoastal guys don‘t reflect the heartland Republicans that win elections for you guys.
GILLESPIE: Chris, there‘s going to be plenty of heartland Republicans as well. You‘re highlighting them. I could highlight for you...
MATTHEWS: OK, give me some heartland celebrities you‘re going to be putting up on the platform.
GILLESPIE: Well, Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, which is a battleground state. He is a strong Republican.
MATTHEWS: Touche. You got me on that one. You nailed me there. Ed, you came back strong with that one.
MATTHEWS: I‘ll tell you, I never thought that I was going to be so wrong about something. Give me a break. Rick Santorum is as big as—
Arnold Schwarzenegger is known by every kid in the world. And Rudolph Giuliani is probably the most respected Churchillian coming out of 9/11. And you said Rick Santorum?
GILLESPIE: Chris, you asked me to name a conservative.
GILLESPIE: Chris, tell me a conservative with the kind of name I.D. that Rudy Giuliani or Schwarzenegger have, besides, of course, Vice President Cheney and President Bush.
MATTHEWS: You made my point.
But the point is that you‘re criticizing the Democrats for putting their more conservative voices up front.
GILLESPIE: No. No, I‘m not. No, I‘m not.
MATTHEWS: And you guys are putting your more liberal voices up front.
GILLESPIE: Here, Chris, Chris, Chris, take a breath here and listen to what I‘m saying for a second. I‘m not criticizing them for whom they have put on the podium. It‘s fine who they put on the podium.
More important is what they say or what they don‘t say. And the fact is, they are not running on Senator Kerry‘s record. Listen to what we say in New York. We‘re running on President Bush‘s record. Who speaks doesn‘t matter to me. It‘s more of what are they saying, what are they trying to convey.
MATTHEWS: You know more than I know about a lot of these things. But let me remind you, when you get your little insert in Encyclopedia Britannica or its online equivalent 30 or 40 years from now, it will have some main points about when you call a guy‘s record, the record for John Kerry will be, he went to Vietnam. He won a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and three Purples. That will be on his record.
So when you say they‘re not running on the record when they keep saying, he‘s the captain of the ship, he‘s the skipper, and all that sort of language, that is on mark, isn‘t it?
GILLESPIE: Chris, Chris, Chris, that‘s great.
MATTHEWS: It‘s not going to say how he voted on the appropriation on the war in Iraq. It is going to say what did he with his life, isn‘t it?
GILLESPIE: Chris, you may not consider that vote relevant to
MATTHEWS: No, I just don‘t think it is his record. He‘s got a bigger record than that.
GILLESPIE: You don‘t think it is his record that he voted against $87 billion to fund our troops from combat? That‘s not his record?
MATTHEWS: Well, let me just tell you, you‘re skilled.
MATTHEWS: Look, Ed, you worked on the Hill. You know that that was not a close vote. That was something like 70 to 20 or something.
GILLESPIE: Oh. Oh.
GILLESPIE: So this is a protest vote. Is that what it was, Chris?
MATTHEWS: No. When the Republicans were in the minority...
GILLESPIE: Was it a protest vote, Chris?
GILLESPIE: It was a protest vote. Is that right?
GILLESPIE: Did he say on your program that he‘s an anti-war candidate?
MATTHEWS: You remember being in the minority, Ed. I knew you when you were in the minority, Ed. And back then, you guys had to offer a lot of protest votes simply to make clear you better make a message.
GILLESPIE: Can I ask you another question, Chris?
MATTHEWS: Sure. I‘m listening.
GILLESPIE: Did he say on “Face the Nation” after being asked, even if your amendment fails, will you vote for the $87 billion appropriation? Did he not say, yes, I will because it would be irresponsible not to, not to fund our troops in combat? And then did he not turn around and do exactly that under pressure from Howard Dean in the primaries?
GILLESPIE: Is that not part of his record, as well as his service in Vietnam?
MATTHEWS: I just want to ask you, is it fair—the other night,
someone said from your party‘s side, it is a fair enough shot. I don‘t
think it‘s comprehensive enough. She said that
GILLESPIE: Let me be comprehensive for you. Can I be comprehensive for a second? Can I be comprehensive for you?
GILLESPIE: How about the fact that he voted for NAFTA and now says he is against it? How about the fact that he voted for the Patriot Act...
MATTHEWS: We brought that up an hour ago.
GILLESPIE: ... and now says he wants to replace it? How about the fact that he said he was in favor of dividend tax relief and then opposed it? How about the fact that...
MATTHEWS: OK. You‘re making your points. Keep it up.
GILLESPIE: On all these votes.
MATTHEWS: We made that earlier point about NAFTA when we had a couple of labor leaders here.
GILLESPIE: Well, good. Is that a record that is worth considering in the Senate? Is that part of his record as well?
MATTHEWS: All part of it. It‘s just not the complete record.
GILLESPIE: How about his vote against the child tax credit? How about his vote against the repeal of the marriage penalty? Is that part of his record that‘s worth discussing relative to what he might do if he‘s in office as president of the United States?
GILLESPIE: Is that relevant? Is that relevant, Chris?
MATTHEWS: They‘re all relevant. And we‘re trying get a comprehensive bit of evidence. And we‘re getting it from you.
GILLESPIE: Good. Thank you very much.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Ed, what do you think of all these admirals and generals up here on the stage backing the candidate of the Democratic Party? They—usually, we identify the military as being pretty strongly Republican.
GILLESPIE: Well, we‘re happy to stack our former admirals and generals up against John Kerry‘s people. They‘re free in this country, obviously, whether they served in the service or not, to participate in the political process. We welcome them to it. And I‘m sure that Senator Kerry is proud of their support, as we are proud of the many veterans who are admirals and generals supporting President Bush.
I believe there are many more supporting President Bush than supporting Senator Kerry.
MATTHEWS: Hey, Ed, hey, buddy, let me ask you a question. If you give me an honest answer, I‘ll give you a gold star. I‘ll do anything for you.
When you were watching the Reverend Al Sharpton last night, where were you?
GILLESPIE: I didn‘t see him. I wasn‘t watching him.
MATTHEWS: You didn‘t see him?
MATTHEWS: What was the buzz from the Republican side, the campaign side and the president, about the effectiveness and consequence of those remarks by the Reverend Al Sharpton last night?
GILLESPIE: You know, what I heard was, he went 20 minutes over. And having run the program in Philadelphia, my only thought was, they must have been tearing their hair out, because when you‘re on such a tight schedule, when somebody goes 20 minutes over, that can be a real problem.
MATTHEWS: What about the tenor and tone of the speech? Do you think it was helpful to the Democrats or to the Republican candidate this year?
GILLESPIE: Chris, I didn‘t see it. So
MATTHEWS: There was no buzz in the inner sanctum? You guys weren‘t chuckling about this? My opinion is...
GILLESPIE: You told me you‘d give me a gold star if I gave you an honest answer. My honest answer is, I didn‘t see it.
MATTHEWS: My opinion is that you guys have been laughing about it all day and it was the best night of the campaign for your side, because it showed what you want to show about the Democratic Party, as much more extreme, as much more angry, much more left-wing, much more anti-Bush personally than the Democrats want to show this week.
And I think you probably enjoyed the chance to see the Democratic Party exposed for its true emotions.
GILLESPIE: Well, that may be the case.
I think, again, Senator Kerry‘s record in the United States Senate, the 20 years that he spent there and the votes that he cast there are more indicative of that than perhaps Al Sharpton‘s comments yesterday.
MATTHEWS: You are so on message, Ed Gillespie, a real pro. That‘s why that guy Terry McAuliffe is afraid of you.
Anyway, thank you, Ed Gillespie, chairman of the Republican National Committee, who has got it all ready. He‘s got the gun loaded.
Campbell Brown, by the way, joins us right now from the floor—
CAMPBELL BROWN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Chris.
I‘m with Daniel Buck, who, at 19 years old, is the youngest delegate from Colorado.
And, Daniel, I have to ask you, is that a lot of people your age aren‘t that involved in politics, obviously. What got you excited about this presidential election?
DAVID BUCK, COLORADO DELEGATE: John Edwards was a big part of it. I was originally from North Carolina. And he‘s a very engaging person. And I really felt that he was going to make some change in the issues that are important to me.
BROWN: But now John Kerry is the lead person on the ticket.
BUCK: That was back in the primary. But now John Edwards is part of the ticket. And it was not a matter of not liking Kerry. It was a matter of really liking Edwards, really liking Dean and really liking Kerry. And they all just—Edwards happened to be one that I was most interested in.
BROWN: A lot of apathy, I know you said, among your friends.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s go right back now to the podium, Campbell. We‘ll have to come right back.
We‘re being told to watch—let‘s go listen to “America the Beautiful.” It‘s being performed by Mavis Staples.
(MAVIS STAPLES SINGS “AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL)
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please welcome the ranking Democrat on the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee...
MATTHEWS: That was Mavis Staples. And we‘re going to hear right now from Joe Biden, a man who ran for president himself back in ‘88. He considered running this year, but he is really supporting John Edwards and John Kerry.
SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: My name is Joe Biden and I‘m a Democrat.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
BIDEN: Nearly 100 years ago, a great Irish poet, William Butler Yeats, told us the world has changed: It has changed, utterly; a terrible beauty has been born. Tonight, our country stands at the hinge of history. And America‘s destiny is literally at stake. But we can shape that destiny, if we seize the opportunities before us.
And Americans must decide who they trust the most to shape that destiny. The overwhelming obligation of the next president is clear: Make America stronger, make America safer, and win the death-struggle between freedom and radical fundamentalism.
This struggle breached our shores on September 11th, 2001, and delivered this generation of Americans to this moment of awesome responsibility.
After 9/11, I believed—and I still do—that if we exercised the full measure of our power, including our ideas as well as our ideals, we could unite this nation and other nations in common cause.
BIDEN: 9/11 was a moment of profound pain, but also of enormous opportunity. Americans stood in blood lines for hours, even though they knew no more blood was needed. The French ran a headline: “We Are All Americans Now.”
Imagine if Franklin Roosevelt or John Kennedy had been president, and how they would have seized that moment. Imagine if this president had spoken to the nation and the world and summoned that sense of solidarity. Imagine if he had said: “It is time for all who are able to do something for America.
I‘m calling for a new program of national service and an energy policy that will liberate us from the suffocating grip of the Middle East.
And imagine if he said, “And I call on our allies to join us in a compact for freedom, because we are always stronger, safer, better, more secure together than we are alone.”
BIDEN: Just imagine had he said that.
I do not question the motives of this administration. But I profoundly disagree with their judgments. And I believe history will judge this generation well and this administration harshly for the mistakes it has made. I believe this generation will look and wonder why this administration has squandered the opportunities that were before it.
Today, we are rightly content in the example of our power. But we have forgotten the power of our example.
And for all of America‘s great might, we are more alone in the world than ever before. As a result, we are less secure than we could or we should be. Our allies and our friends, the international organizations we‘ve built over the past half-century, they do not hold us down. They help us share the burdens of leadership.
And we were told by this administration we would pay no price for going it alone.
BIDEN: But that is obviously wrong.
Because we waged the war in Iraq, virtually alone, we are responsible for the aftermath, virtually alone.
And the price is clear: Nearly 90 percent of the troops and the casualties are American.
And because the intelligence was hyped to justify going to war, America‘s credibility and security have suffered a terrible blow.
Forty years ago, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy sent former Secretary of State Dean Acheson to Europe to seek support.
And Acheson explained the situation to President de Gaulle.
He then, he offered to show President de Gaulle classified intelligence information as proof of what he said.
Do you know what de Gaulle did? He raised his hand and said, quote, “That is not necessary. I know President Kennedy. And I know he would never mislead me on a question of war and peace.”
I ask you: Would a single world leader today answer the same way?
BIDEN: My friends, it doesn‘t have to be this way. America and the world deserve a president whose judgment they can trust. Americans are bigger and better than the past four years have led the world to believe about us. Americans know our military is the strongest on Earth, but we are not arrogant.
Americans are proud, but we are not petty. Instead of dividing the world, we must unite it. Instead of bullying the world, we must build. And instead of walking alone, we must lead.
It‘s only—it is only—it is only leadership if someone follows.
And no one is following.
But let no enemy mistake our basic decency for lack of resolve.
BIDEN: Americans will fight with every fiber in their being to protect our country and our people. And John Kerry, when he is commander in chief, will not hesitate to unleash the awesome power of our military on any nation or group that does us harm—and without asking anyone‘s permission.
This is man whose judgment can be trusted. This is a man tested in combat, who will never send our sons and daughters to war before exhausting every other alternative.
And then, if he must, he will not send them without giving them every tool necessary to win.
When John Kerry is president, military preemption will remain, as it has always been, an option. But John Kerry will build a true prevention strategy to defuse dangers long before the only option is war.
When John Kerry is president, our friends and allies will have no excuse to remain on the sidelines.
BIDEN: And above all, when John Kerry is president, he will level with the American people, for he will inherit a world and a nation that will require him to ask much of us and of our allies.
And ladies and gentlemen, listen to me: I have not a single doubt this generation of Americans will rise to whatever is asked of them. They will rise to the moment, for as long as we are here, they desire to do great things.
And John Kerry, as a student of history, understands why we prevailed when our nation faced grave peril in the past. He understands that the terrorists may be beyond the reach and we must defeat them, but also understands that hundreds of millions of hearts and minds are open to our ideas and our ideals. And we must reach them as well.
Ladies and gentlemen, our friends on the other side love to quote the Bible. Just as Joshua‘s trumpets brought down the walls of Jericho, just as American values brought down the Berlin Wall, so will radical fundamentalism fall to the terrible, swift power of our ideas as well as our swords.
My fellow delegates...
... it‘s time to recapture the totality of America‘s strength. It‘s time to restore our nation to the respect it once had. It‘s time to reclaim America‘s soul.
It is time to elect John Kerry president of the United States of America.
MATTHEWS: Well, that was a great speech by Joe Biden.
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