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'Convention After Hours' for July 29 Midnight

John Kerry accepts his party‘s nomination at the Democratic National Convention, but did his speech inspire or disappoint?

Guest: Stephen Stills, Richard Leiby, Bill Richardson, Lloyd Grove Boston> 


JOE SCARBOROUGH, CO-HOST:  The final night of the Democratic National Convention.  The anticipation has been growing all week for John Kerry to arrive.  And I am telling you what.  The crowd is revved up.  They liked what they heard. 


SCARBOROUGH:  And they are ready to move forward. 

Tonight, they heard John Kerry accept his party‘s nomination.  And now he is ready to convince America that he is their man. 


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  With great faith in the American people, I accept your nomination for president of the United States. 



SCARBOROUGH:  But did his speech inspire or disappoint? 

I‘m Joe Scarborough. 

RON REAGAN, CO-HOST:  And I‘m Ron Reagan.  Welcome to the Democratic National Convention “AFTER HOURS” wrap party.  We‘ve got two hours of analysis, interviews, and just pure fun for you tonight, so join the party. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So let me start by introducing our panel. 

Of course, we‘ve got former Clinton Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers.  We have Democratic analyst and revolutionary, baby—and this revolution will not be televised, Joe Trippi, who is also an MSNBC political analyst.  We also have “Boston Herald” columnist Mike Barnicle and former presidential candidate and MSNBC analyst Pat Buchanan. 

I‘d like to welcome everybody here tonight.  Of course, John Kerry‘s highly anticipated speech was finally delivered tonight, and the question is, how effective was he?

OK.  I am going to...



SCARBOROUGH:  Well, let me ask you. 

Ron, what did you think of the speech? 

REAGAN:  Well, let‘s get the quibbles with it over with first. 

It was a little long . I think if you can‘t say what you need to say in 35, 40 minutes, you have too many words in there.  He went about 55, I think.  He stepped on a few of his applause lines.  He was a little bit rushed. 

Having said that, he did what he needed to do.  There was emotion there.  You got a visceral feel for this guy.  It was a well-written speech.  There were some great lines in it. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Extraordinary. 


REAGAN:  It was a velvet glove.  They went after Bush tonight.  Kerry went off Bush, subtly, with nuance, but there was steel in that velvet glove. 

SCARBOROUGH:  There really was. 

And, Dee Dee Myers, of course, you were with Bill Clinton in 1992.  People in the crowd got upset when I did not compare John Kerry favorably with what Bill Clinton did in 1992.  Maybe that is unfair. 


SCARBOROUGH:  I thought he rushed through some lines, just like Ron said.  I thought he blew through some lines.  What did you think? 

MYERS:  I think that John Kerry‘s speech tonight was better than Bill Clinton‘s speech in 1992.  I thought he commanded the room better.  And I think the speech was a great speech.  I don‘t want to say it was a better written than Clinton‘s ‘92 speech, but it was a very well written speech.

And I think Kerry had three things he needed to do tonight.  He needed to tell Americans who he was.  He needed to tell them why he was running for president.  He needed to connect his experience to his values to why he wants to be president, and needed to tell them what he was going to do, and I thought he did all three of those in great measure. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, in talking about values, of course, faith is going to be taking a central role in this year‘s campaign. 

Here‘s a glimpse at John Kerry‘s faith. 


KERRY:             I think of what Ron Reagan said of his father a few weeks ago, and I want to say this to you tonight:  I don‘t wear my religion on my sleeve, but faith has given me values and hope to live by, from Vietnam to this day, from Sunday to Sunday. 

I don‘t want to claim that God is on our side.  As Abraham Lincoln told us, I want to pray humbly that we are on God‘s side. 



REAGAN:  Well, I just want to say to Senator Kerry, I appreciate his sucking up to me like that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  He did suck up. 


SCARBOROUGH:  You know what?  Hey may have half the vote in the Reagan household. 

MYERS:  We all suck up to you every night.  So...

REAGAN:  That is true, but I am used to that. 

MYERS:  Yes. 

REAGAN:  So this was a big thing. 

He raised an important point.  He cited Abraham Lincoln.  Somebody much smarter than I am said it‘s one thing to pray that you do the right thing.  It‘s a totally different thing to say that you did the right thing just because you prayed. 


REAGAN:  And he was making that distinction.  And it‘s an important one going against this particular administration, which tends to sort of wave the Christian flag about it and then claim things are a holy war and all. 


And, you know, Mike Barnicle, not only—we always hear about the flyover states, the red states, but also in places like Boston, in south Boston, faith is very important.  And how you address that faith is very important.  The Democrats, fairly or unfairly, over the past 20, 30 years, sort of been soon as the party that has moved away from faith and values and all these other things Republicans have embraced.

John Kerry went after that tonight, didn‘t he? 

MIKE BARNICLE, NBC ANALYST:  Well, he not only went after that, Joe. 

I think they have made a decision that they are not going to let the Republicans take issues like law and order away from them.  They played tonight a very effective game of capture the flag. 

MYERS:  Right on. 

BARNICLE:  And they started with General Wes Clark.  And John Kerry continued playing that game.  And they have taken it, I think, away from the Republicans. 

John Kerry also I think tonight aimed his candidacy at a specific niche, people who want to think that he can be commander in chief, different from president.  He used the phrase commander in chief.  They used it a couple of times in introducing him.  And I think it‘s a different concept than president, commander in chief. 

REAGAN:  We‘ve got to go live to Kelly O‘Donnell, who is live at the Boston Pops concert, where John Kerry and John Edwards are arriving—



They have been just pulling up here.  I can see the sirens.  And I have been told that Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards are here.  And they will greet a crowd that was able to watch John Kerry‘s speech tonight on two giant screens behind me. 

John Williams, the famed composer and conductor, is holding the baton as the Boston Pops have had a really delightful concert for the people here, who have been very patient.  James Taylor was also on the bill tonight.  He described himself as a guy born in Boston, raised in North Carolina, and told this crowd that that makes this ticket very comfortable for him.  And he dedicated one of his famed songs, “Carolina,” to John Edwards and his family. 

As I watched people watching the speech here, it is a different sort of setting.  Of course, in the hall, when I was on the floor earlier in the day, there‘s an enthusiasm that just runs through the place.  Surprisingly, here too, there‘s sort of a crowd reaction that goes on.  A lot of the important laugh lines, punchlines, real key moments in John Kerry‘s speech, there was an eruption of reaction, sometimes applause.

Sometimes there would be some hollering in the crowd, seemed very supportive, by and large.  As I looked through the audience, there was a sense of real attentiveness as well.  There were not a lot of people milling about.  And when he concluded his speech, there was a standing ovation.  Now, this crowd has been out of their seats a couple of times tonight because they are enjoying the music of the Boston Pops, but it was a different sort of feeling here tonight, as we expect that John Kerry and John Edwards will at any moment now take to the stage, making what will be their first joint appearance postconvention. 

Tomorrow, I will be on the bus with them very early in the morning as we head on an 18-state tour, 3,500 miles across the country.  And tonight, this crowd will be treated to fireworks and the first postconvention appearance of John Kerry and John Edwards—back to you guys. 

REAGAN:  Thank you, Kelly.  We are going to come back to you when the two candidates arrive.

But back to our panel now. 

Joe, any thoughts? 

JOE TRIPPI, FORMER HOWARD DEAN CAMPAIGN MANAGER:  Yes, I think he knocked it way out of the park.  I think it went beyond just what he had to do. 

He did what he had to do and more.  To have a Democrat stand up there and talk about the flag the way he did, talk about we are not red states and blue states, we are red, white, and blue, to have him talk about faith the way he talked about, I really think he framed the race.  He accomplished something tonight.  He boxed George Bush into a corner that I think is going to be very, very difficult for Bush to get out of.  I really think it was one of the better speeches, if not the best speech I‘ve heard in a long time.


SCARBOROUGH:  How did he corner Bush? 

TRIPPI:  Because what he has done is said, made it very clear that he is the one who is going to unify the country, and that Bush—the Bush tactics to win this thing have to divide us.  That‘s the way...

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s a complete opposite of George Bush‘s campaign in 2000, I am the uniter, not a divider. 

TRIPPI:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You think what he is doing now is going to be able to say in a couple of bites, that John Kerry is going to say, I am the real uniter.  George Bush is the real divider. 

TRIPPI:  I think he really shoved Bush into that corner.  And I really think he did effectively, more effective than I believe.

He got me with the line towards the end with—very similar to some things that were out of the Dean campaign, of, the outcome rest in your hands, not mine, I think, which really gets to the empowerment of folks out there to be a common community.  He really did this.  I was amazed by the speech.  I really was. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know what surprised me, though?  And politics changes so quickly.  Who was Macmillan (ph), I think, said a week in politics is a lifetime.  Well, think about what six months is, eight months is. 

Howard Dean runs, just gets an unbelievable amount of grassroots support by being the aggressive anti-war candidate.  Tonight, this sounded like Ronald Reagan.  It sounded like—I could have delivered this speech.  It was a strong, powerful, Republican-sounding, militaristic speech for a crowd that was 95 percent anti-war. 


MYERS:  It wasn‘t a Republican speech, Joe.  It took back Democratic values.  It said patriotism is not about going along with the crowd, and it‘s about standing up and saying, we can do better.  We took back a lot of Democratic values tonight. 


REAGAN:  Let‘s get Pat in here, because he hasn‘t—Pat, you out there?  Hello, Pat. 


REAGAN:  OK.  What do you think, Pat?  Initial reaction? 

BUCHANAN:  I thought it was an outstanding speech.  I think it‘s the best speech that John Kerry delivered.  I think he exceeded what was expected of him tonight. 

I think he reached into the populist right.  I will tell you, I was moved when I heard him talking about that guy in Ohio, watching him unbolt the equipment from his company where he had lost his job to ship the equipment abroad.  I thought he challenged the president with a certain bristling defiance and a sense of humor.  You are not going to take this patriotism issue away from me.  You are not going to accuse me of being a wimp on defense. 

I thought it was—in parts, I will tell you, there was—let me say this.  You know, I am a man of the right.  And I will tell you, if I did not know Kerry‘s past record and all I had to judge this man by was what I saw tonight, I could readily vote for him. 

REAGAN:  That‘s big, Pat.

SCARBOROUGH:  How big, Pat, do the think that his past record is going to be?  Republicans are going to bring up votes in the ‘90s even, where he voted to cut spending on defense programs.  He voted to cut intelligence spending.  Of course, you have got the voted for the war, vote against the $87 billion. 

Tell me, Pat, do you think that‘s going to resonate or do you think Americans are going to say, he is ready to move forward; this is a new John Kerry? 

BUCHANAN:  You know, Kerry could not have done better for himself tonight.

And I think the country—I would say that Kerry almost closed the sale.  But, Joe, you have got an outstanding point.  I am hearing tonight that all these veterans, swift boat people are being brought back who say Kerry‘s record wasn‘t all that great.  It was terrible.  They are going to go after him. 

There is one problem with his address.  It is an inherent problem.  It‘s not the address itself.  It is inherently not credible to think you can tax Pat Buchanan and Joe Scarborough and pay for everything that was offered and promised in that speech.  It is not credible when you have a $400 billion deficit to say you can do it by taxing 2 percent of the country.

So he is going to get a hard time after this.  The Republicans are going to throw the kitchen sink at him during the guns of August, which are coming up.  But all I am saying is, as of tonight, I was moved by that speech.  I watched every minute of it.  He did ramble on a little long, but I thought it was the—John Kerry, when I said he is going to have to deliver tonight, he did far, far more than I expected he could do. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, let me just say for the record, it sure is nice to finally be in the upper tax bracket. 


SCARBOROUGH:  I have waited a long time for it, about 40 years.  Thank you, MSNBC. 


REAGAN:  Something I aspire to, I have to tell you.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Dee Dee, in 1993, Bill Clinton had to make some very difficult choices about taxes, about spending.  Of course, we all know that Begala and Carville wanted him to do a stimulus package.  Bill Clinton made the tough choice, said we can‘t do that.  We are going to have to raise taxes.  It angered Republicans.  That‘s why I ran for Congress.  Tonight, though, we are hearing about tax cuts. 

MYERS:  Well, he also cut spending  


SCARBOROUGH:  He also cut spending.  Tough choices.  And I will be the first to say—in fact, I have written a book about this—George Bush didn‘t make those tough choices. 

MYERS:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  We are in trouble because of it.

But, tonight, John Kerry talks about tax cuts for the middle class.  He talks about tax cuts for businesses.  He talks about universal health care.  He talks about 40,000 new troops. 

MYERS:  But he didn‘t the world universal health care.

SCARBOROUGH:  I know, but he said health care is a right of all Americans. 


SCARBOROUGH:  So the question is, how does he pay for it?  And is that going to be a vulnerability on the campaign trail? 

MYERS:  It will be something of a vulnerability on the campaign trail.  But you have to contrast that against what George Bush has done, what he has promised, what he said he would do.

And what we see from him are the largest deficits in the history of the country, an exploding debt, and tax cuts that nobody has paid for in a time of war.  So I am not sure—there‘s a debate that‘s going to be had there.  There‘s no doubt Pat Buchanan is right.  Republicans are going to throw the kitchen sink at him.

But what we saw tonight was a John Kerry who is ready to stand up and fight back and to push back to every one of those Republican charges.  And I don‘t think the American people have seen this guy this tough standing up until tonight.

SCARBOROUGH:  Let me ask all of you this question. 

Ron, I want to start with you and let‘s just pass it around.

REAGAN:  Sure.

SCARBOROUGH:  Because, you know, when Ross Perot ran in 1992, he talked about the deficit.  It resonated.  When I ran in 1994, talked about the deficit spending.  It resonated. 

George Bush and the Republicans in Congress, along with Democrats, who do, like I still say, like to spend more than Republicans, but they are just spending money left and right.  Does anybody care about the deficit anymore?  Does anybody care about the debt anymore?  Does anybody care that politicians in Washington on both sides of the aisle are being irresponsible?

REAGAN:  Well, I think some Republicans care about the deficit.  And they are somewhat disenchanted with George W. Bush and what he has done in creating a monster deficit. 

You can look at John Kerry‘s economic plan that he more or less laid out here and say, that‘s going to lead to deficits, I think.


REAGAN:  But you can look at George W. Bush‘s track record and point to the actual deficit that he created.  And that‘s pretty hard to argue with. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Mike Barnicle, does anybody care?  Is anybody going to add up these numbers and when they say, you can‘t cut taxes, give universal health care, add 40,000 troops, it‘s going to increase the deficit, who cares?  Do you?

REAGAN:  Here comes Kerry.  We have got John Kerry at the Boston Pops. 

Kelly O‘Donnell, are you there? 


O‘DONNELL:  Yes, I am.  I am having a little trouble hearing you because the crowd has just erupted. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s Beatlemania. 

MYERS:  It is. 

O‘DONNELL:  John Kerry entered from stage right, John Edwards from stage left.  And the fireworks are going on.  This is a very supportive crowd, on their feet.  They are cheering.

REAGAN:  Can‘t hear a word you are saying, Kelly. 



REAGAN:  You got to appeal viscerally to people.  You can‘t just appeal to their minds.  You can‘t just sort of whip them up in a superficial frenzy.  People want to feel like, I know this guy.  I trust this guy. 

MYERS:  And he let us in.  

REAGAN:  Yes. 

MYERS:  He let us in. 

BARNICLE:  Tonight was a night when John Kerry had the opportunity to knock on the nation‘s door.  And the door opened, and he came in shaking their hand.  And he did it very effectively. 

And looking at him tonight, I watched the speech over at the Fleet Center.  And I‘ve known the guy 32 years.  I was watching it with someone who has known him even longer and better.  And about halfway through his speech, the guy turned to me and said, who is this guy?

MYERS:  That‘s exactly the experience I had tonight. 

REAGAN:  And that‘s exactly the reaction that he would have wanted. 


TRIPPI:  I will tell you something, though.  That guy, this guy, the guy that showed up tonight was there in Iowa the last two or three weeks.  I have seen this guy before.  And I have been saying all week, if he showed up tonight, George Bush was going to be in a lot of trouble, and he showed up tonight. 


TRIPPI:  And I think you‘re right.  It‘s the affection of this crowd. 

It‘s the


TRIPPI:  ... crowd.


TRIPPI:  He feels what‘s going on right now.  And it‘s going to boost him out of here like a rocket. 

BARNICLE:  You know, you said something earlier, Joe, to Joe Scarborough, about John Kerry framing this campaign perhaps tonight against the White House. 

And your question, Joe, about the deficit, do people care?  People certainly do care at some level.  I don‘t know that they care when they hear politicians talking about it.  But in each and every newspaper in this country, small towns, big cities, every day, nearly every day, in little agate type, from page 6 or 7-A, there is a casualty count.

We are a nation at war.  And that‘s going to be the issue, I think, that hovers over the entire campaign.  And this man, John Kerry, put the president of the United States, the secretary of defense, the vice president, all of them on notice tonight, don‘t come after me on this war. 


SCARBOROUGH:  So does this mean—Joe Trippi, I want to ask you, does this mean, then, if it is all about this war, that both of these candidates are really captive to outside circumstances that, at this point, they have a very difficult time controlling? 

TRIPPI:  Well, I think that‘s true.

But I also believe, when you asked me, how did he frame it, he said, we aren‘t going to go—we shouldn‘t go to war because we want to.  We need to go to war only because we need to.  And what is that framing?  George Bush and a lot of folks in that administration went to war because they wanted to. 

He will only take us to war if we need to.  And you know why?  And what works on that is, this is a guy who has been in war, knows what happens in war and seen it firsthand and knows you can‘t go without being able to look a parent in the eye and tell them it had to happen.  And that is going to stick with the American people, particularly with this body count that is going on.

SCARBOROUGH:  That certainly does—that certainly does give him credibility that so many other candidates haven‘t had in the past. 

TRIPPI:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Listen, don‘t go away, because we are going to have two hours filled with great information for you tonight about John Kerry‘s speech. 

We are going to be taking a look at how Democrats are toasting their presidential nominee and how people in flyover states are reacting to John Kerry‘s speech. 

Plus, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog from “Late Night With Conan O‘Brien” tells us what he thinks down at the convention hall. 

All that and a lot more when the Democratic National Convention “AFTER HOURS” returns.




REAGAN:  Welcome back on this final night of the Democratic National Convention.  We have got our own little party going on here outside of Boston‘s Faneuil Hall. 

With us are Dee Dee Myers, Joe Trippi, Mike Barnicle, and, of course, Pat Buchanan.

Hey, Pat, I wanted to ask you what you thought of the video that sort of kicked off the Kerry speech.  That was some pretty dramatic footage we saw there, apparently shot by Kerry himself. 

BUCHANAN:  Well, the video was excellent.  It was terrific stuff. 

I don‘t know if it was quite as good as Clinton‘s, which I thought was really the gold standard.  But, you know, a problem there, Ron, my understanding is, first, that did not show in prime time on the big networks.  Secondly, I would have used that to introduce Kerry and had the other fellows go before, the band of brothers, and then use that film and then have Kerry walk out after it.  So I think the country might have missed it, but it clearly was a real positive. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Pat, I am glad you brought that up, because I was actually—in 2000, I was in Philadelphia.  And the most dramatic moment was when the film—because, of course, you can control the film.  You can edit it.  You can make your candidate look nearly perfect. 

And when the film ended, the lights went black.  There was George W.  Bush in the center stage with people screaming.  I really got a sense that the theatrics weren‘t quite right. 

Mike Barnicle, you were in the hall.  Tell us. 

BARNICLE:  Well, first of all, it sounds to me as if Pat is going to have like a Kerry-Edwards bumper sticker on his car.




SCARBOROUGH:  I was accused—I was accused a couple of nights of saying I was going to vote for Kerry-Edwards.  Now Pat Buchanan is. 

BUCHANAN:  I‘ll have a couple of wines and I‘ll be off the bandwagon in the morning. 


BARNICLE:  I am shocked.  I am shocked. 

You know, the only critique that I have heard of the speech tonight that made eminent sense to me was Joe Trippi‘s.

And what was it, Joe, about the first line?

TRIPPI:  Yes, actually, it‘s right—the only line I could have done without or would have moved was, I‘m John—my name is John Kerry and I am reporting to duty. 

And what I would have done to that line, it would have been the last words that he said tonight.  I would have done that whole speech and then ended with:  My name is John Kerry.  I am reporting to duty.  I think it would have—it was the only thing I could think of that I would really change.

SCARBOROUGH:  That actually—you know what?  That would have been a great, great way to finish it. 


MYERS:  I think it‘s a testament, though, because the two hours were so powerful, John Kerry‘s daughters, the video, the band of brothers, the introduction, the fabulous introduction by Max Cleland.  And none of that made TV for viewers who weren‘t watching cable, who didn‘t have cable. 

I think the American public would have loved to see that.  I think they would have turned their TVs on and watched straight through to the end of Kerry‘s speech.  This argument that no one is going to watch is totally specious by the networks.  And I think it‘s just too bad. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, Dee Dee, I want to ask you, what happens when you leave a convention like this?  Look at John Kerry.  I mean, this really is...

MYERS:  That is a man who knows he nailed it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  This is man who knows that he has had a good night tonight. 

REAGAN:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  What does it do to a campaign as they move forward? 

Obviously, we should expect a big bounce out of this, shouldn‘t we? 

MYERS:  I don‘t know that we will see a big bounce in terms of overall numbers.  I think what you will see is small movement in a lot of states.  That will mean a big change in the electoral map in the short term and we will see how that plays out over the long term. 

But I‘ll tell you, in 1992, we had a great convention.  We came out of that convention on the bus, Clinton and Gore together.  And the energy out there on the road was so amazing that it transformed the campaign, and we never really looked back.  I think we are going to see something very similar. 

These two guys, they represent big change, a new direction, new momentum.  That bus trip is going to be pretty interesting.  But the press corps, after 3,000 miles, fit to be tied. 

REAGAN:  Coming up on “AFTER HOURS,” we are taking you inside the party‘s party.  So we‘ll get the lowdown from “The Daily News”‘ Lloyd Grove.  And we‘ll talk to Richard Leiby, who pulled himself out of MTV‘s star-studded bash just for us.

Don‘t go away.


JON STEWART, HOST:  Ron Reagan Jr. gave an impassioned political speech. 

REAGAN:  The nucleus of one of your cells is placed into a donor egg whose own nucleus has been removed.  A bit of chemical or electrical stimulation will encourage your cells‘ nucleus to begin dividing, creating new cells, which will then be placed into a tissue culture.

STEWART:  And, children, that is how a bill becomes a law. 




REAGAN:  Hey, we are having a wrap party here at Faneuil Hall in Boston for the last night of the Democratic Convention.  But we‘re not the only ones living it up.  We will find out how the Democrats are getting down tonight in just a minute. 

But, first, let‘s get the latest headlines from the MSNBC News Desk. 



SCARBOROUGH:  I‘m Joe Scarborough.

We are back at Faneuil Hall. 


CROWD:  Kerry!  Kerry!  Kerry! 

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘ve got the John Kerry chant.  That‘s of course at Faneuil Hall.

What you are looking at right now, well, of course, is John Kerry and John Edwards with the Boston Pops. 

Right now, I want to go to the crowd.  And let‘s talk to some people who were actually inside there. 

What is your name? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Annie Mancini (ph). 

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, Annie, now, you were actually inside the hall as a delegate.  Tell me—OK, guys, you know what buddy?  Your days will come in a couple weeks. 

Talk about this convention, OK?  How was his speech tonight? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The speech tonight was wonderful.  It was really great to see Kerry out there.  I think the Democrats in the convention were really excited for his arrival.  The energy was really strong.

And it was a great follow-up to Obama and Clinton‘s speeches the previous nights. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, hey, listen, everybody, let me tell you, we all love the First Amendment, but we all want to hear these people who were inside the hall talk to us.  OK? 


SCARBOROUGH:  After they talk, you cheer whether you are for Bush or Kerry. 

Now, this is what I want to know.  Take people inside the convention that have never been there.  I was there in 2000 for Bush.  It was like a rock concert.  You were inside there for John Kerry.  What is it like when your candidate comes out on the floor? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s very exciting.  And the feeling was like being at a giant party.  And after—at the end of the speech, when the confetti came and the balloons came and everybody was standing up and cheering, it was people like getting buried in balloons and confetti. 

And during the speech, he got interrupted a few times.  He had good lines.  And it was just kind of thrilling. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Are both of you that were in there, are you excited about this campaign and do you think that your candidate, the candidate that introduced himself to America tonight is going to beat George W. Bush in the fall? 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think so, too. 


SCARBOROUGH:  All right. 

I will tell you what, and that‘s really all you want to do with these type of speeches.  You want to introduce—introduce yourself, keep your voice, but introduce yourself to America, middle America, and let them know that you are ready to be president of the United States. 

Right now, let‘s go to the convention hall where John Kerry gave the speech that most of these people absolutely loved.  And we are going to see Chris Jansing with MSNBC—go ahead, Chris.


It‘s interesting that you are talking about getting to know John Kerry, the American people, because my guest told me just about a week or two ago that‘s exactly what he needed to accomplish here tonight. 

With me, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who of course is also chairman of this convention. 

A little bit of relief it‘s over?

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO:  Thank God.  Thank God it‘s over. 

JANSING: Did John Kerry do what he needed to do tonight? 


He hit a home run that was so incredible, to show the American people that he is ready to be president, that he is a good guy, that he is a hero, that his family likes him, that he has got values, that we will be a country that is going to be strong at home, respected in the world.  He accomplished everything in this speech.  The introduction that he has had to the American people through this speech is a major success.  And we‘ve got to capitalize on that momentum. 

JANSING:  He is going to take a bus trip.  He‘s going to start in Pennsylvania.  He is going to go to Ohio.  How do you not let that energy go down? 

RICHARDSON:  Well, that‘s exactly what he is doing.  You have got to capture the momentum of this convention and the speech, so he has got to go to battleground states, including New Mexico.  He has got to use trains and boats and automobiles and everything except an airplane.

But it‘s to show that the grassland, the grassroots is important, that we want to get to those undecided voters that, for the first time, I think saw Senator Kerry, saw a real human being, saw somebody that could be president with experience, a war hero, his generals.  I think the Republicans can‘t say the Democrats are soft on defense, on national security.  With this speech, he took that issue totally away from them. 

JANSING:  I tell you the other thing that struck me here is that a lot of the largest ovations were reserved for what are sort of core Democratic issues, things like the Constitution, the economy.  Do you think that there was also some anger that was in this room tonight, sort of seething anger that they felt for a while that they wanted to get out? 

RICHARDSON:  Yes, because we have purposely kept the convention positive.  We want to show the American people what we want to do.  We just don‘t want to bash the president.  We could do that for four days, but we didn‘t do it. 

JANSING:  Well, he took some pretty good shots tonight. 

RICHARDSON:  Well, but he talked about what he wanted to do.

And, yes, there was a lot of pent-up feeling, because we realize there‘s a big vote out there that is anti-President Bush.  Now, we want to add to that a good feeling and a feeling of reassurance about Senator Kerry‘s leadership, particularly in the foreign policy area, but also to show that he is a regular guy, a good guy. 

Yes, he has had a privileged background, but the guy has volunteered for service in Vietnam.  He saved some of his crewmates.  He has got values.  He wants to do something about education and health care, protect the Constitution.  It couldn‘t have gone better.  It was a massive home run.  It‘s like in baseball.  You hit a 500-foot home run.  You don‘t hit those unless it‘s a terrific hit. 

JANSING:  I‘ll ask you one final question, because I spent a lot of time this week in the delegations.  And places like Ohio and Colorado and Arizona, they are very, very excited about this race, but they are still worried.  Should they be? 

RICHARDSON:  Well, I believe they shouldn‘t worry about Senator Kerry.  Our objective was to bring some reassurance about Senator Kerry.  I hope the Republicans and their convention are as positive as we were in our convention.

And I think what Senator Kerry said to President Bush, look, let‘s stay optimistic, and, secondly, let‘s not politicize the 9/11 issue.  We are all Americans when it comes to fighting terrorism.  That‘s a challenge I hope President Bush accepts. 

JANSING:  Governor Richardson, you are due some sleep. 

RICHARDSON:  Yes, I am. 

JANSING:  Thank you, sir.

RICHARDSON:  And I am heading back to New Mexico. 


JANSING:  All right.  Thank you.  Appreciate you sticking around for us—Joe, back to you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Thanks a lot, Chris. 

REAGAN:  Well, our next guests have been living it up all weekend, and they are still making the rounds tonight. 

With us now is Lloyd Grove.  He writes for the—he writes for “The Daily Lowdown” column, I should say, for “The New York Daily News.”  Also, joining us is Richard Leiby.  He writes the “Reliable Source” column for “The Washington Post.” 

Richard, some say that no one throws a party like MTV.  What do you say? 

RICHARD LEIBY, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  I was at the Rock the Vote party a little earlier.  It hadn‘t gotten started yet.

But when it did, and that is to say when the speeches started, people were in rapt attention.  Then LL Cool J hit the stage, and people started to celebrate, as you would expect.  And, now, everybody is promising that P. Diddy will be there later.  Earlier in the week, if you had a hot party, you were promising Bill Clinton.  Later in the week, it‘s P. Diddy. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Boston culture on the skids.

LEIBY:  Same electricity. 

REAGAN:  You are still wearing your little bracelet there.  And got your hand stamped, too.  You can get back into the bar, I guess. 

LEIBY:  That‘s right.  It‘s like a hospital bracelet after a while. 

REAGAN:  Lloyd, what have you been up to? 

LLOYD GROVE, “THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS”:  I had a quiet dinner, Ron. 


REAGAN:  Oh, come on. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, that‘s exciting.

GROVE:  I‘m too old for this. 

REAGAN:  Hey, don‘t let “The Daily News Know” that.  They are counting on you. 

GROVE:  But I think the parties have been fine.  In fact, the parties have been the most fun of being in Boston.

On the other hand, there have been some interesting scenes.  This morning, I was walking to my workspace, the “Daily News” workspace, and there was Al Sharpton, who had given just a wonderful speech the night before, shouting into his cell phone about how he wasn‘t going to pay somebody‘s hotel bill. 


GROVE:  Talk about a coach-turning-into-a-pumpkin experience.  I think the party is just about over. 

columneseREAGAN:  Well, from each of you, what‘s the scoop of the week, if that‘s the right way to put it in your sort of columnese? 

GROVE:  Well, what I would like to know—I don‘t know.  It‘s not a scoop yet.  But whoever managed the balloon drop tonight—you know, politics have metaphorical moments.  And if Kerry gets a huge bounce out of this convention, no one will care about the balloon drop.  But if he doesn‘t get a very big bounce, they will say, it was that balloon drop. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Explain that.  The balloons were stuck up in the rafters. 

GROVE:  The balloons were stuck up in the rafters.  Hundreds of thousands of balloons, it looked like, were still in the ceiling.  And poor guy.  I hope he is not floating in the Charles River tomorrow. 

REAGAN:  We should mention that this is more or less a Democratic Party convention tradition, really, that the balloon drop has never worked. 


MYERS:  ... always biodegradable balloons. 

REAGAN:  That‘s what he floated, that they‘re—Richard, what about you?  What‘s the big moment for you? 

LEIBY:  Well, I have to admit, I never entered the hall. 

The narrative of this convention was predetermined.  The narrative was known from the beginning.  So the party scene, I think, had at least a possible surprise or two.  But I didn‘t catch anyone in any egregious conduct.  I think what you had was the usual networking, the usual intersection of politics and entertainment that‘s overtaken this country.  And people had a good time and got a little bit of a Hollywood buzz off of it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, of course, we are looking at pictures of John Kerry, Teresa Heinz Kerry, John Edwards, and Elizabeth Edwards at the Boston Pops.

John Edwards has been welcomed—John Kerry, excuse me, has been welcomed as a conquering hero, Boston‘s own, as Mike Barnicle was saying 20, 30 minutes ago, finally getting the love and respect that he has always wanted from this town. 

Now, I want to ask about the top star.  Who was the A-list star of the A-list star this week? 


GROVE:  My vote goes to Bono.  You saw him on the convention floor. 

He was really—politicians are here pretending to be rock stars.  This guy is the real thing. 

And he was in this terrifying scrum of security and fans and signing autographs and delegates shouting his name, all spontaneous, a real spontaneous demonstration.  And, for my money, he was the star in terms of celebrity star power. 

REAGAN:  What do you think, Richard? 

LEIBY:  Well, you know, there‘s many sightings of John Cusack.  Ben Affleck got overexposed, I think, at this convention. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Wait.  Hold on a second.  Ben Affleck overexposed? 

LEIBY:  I have to say, I stood outside a party. 

REAGAN:  And the surprise?

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, yes, shocked, shocked. 

You know what?  He got overexposed early on, didn‘t he? 

LEIBY:  He did.  He should have held something back. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Ben playing pool, Ben dancing, Ben pumping gas.  After a while, I don‘t know, the excitement was gone, wasn‘t it? 

LEIBY:  It was for many people.  I never got to meet him.  I too thought Bono pulled together a real great show at Symphony Hall, when he did that tribute to Teddy Kennedy.  It was passionate, it was electric, and it was really inspiring.  And that night stood out for me. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Ron, the amazing thing about Bono is, we see a lot of Hollywood stars sort of flittering and fluttering across the stage these days.  But, with Bono, you have a guy that talks to the presidents.  He talks to the popes. 

REAGAN:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  He talks—he talks to prime ministers.  And, actually, from the very beginning, his music has affected peace processes in Northern Ireland.  Of course, he talked about solidarity on New Year‘s Day.  This guy is...

REAGAN:  Took Paul O‘Neill on that trip to Africa. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Paul O‘Neill—which I am sure Paul O‘Neill, a rocking guest.  The parties they used to throw at Alcoa when he was there. 

But Bono, seriously, is a bigger-than-life character. 

REAGAN:  And very, very bright guy.  And he takes this stuff seriously.  This isn‘t just sort of foofoo for him. 


Coming up next, speaking—I was going to say foofoo.  I thought we were going to have a tease for Triumph.  But we have got a special surprise guest.  This is big for me, Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, when our coverage of the Democratic National Convention “AFTER HOURS” begins—continues.     



SCARBOROUGH:  Ends.  All of the above.



REAGAN:  Hey, it‘s “AFTER HOURS” on an exciting night of the Democratic National Convention.  Take a look at this great crowd partying with us out here outside Boston‘s Faneuil Hall. 

Did Kerry‘s speech win you over tonight?  What did you think of Kerry‘s speech? 


REAGAN:  I guess that passes muster. 

With us now, legendary musician Stephen Stills.  I‘m so jazzed that you are here.  I don‘t—this is going to make you like feel old or something, but I remember being in high school and staying up in my dorm room with my little cassette tape of Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young and listening to you guys.  And it was just so cool. 

STEPHEN STILLS, MUSICIAN:  Well, and so do your children and so do mine. 

REAGAN:  Yes. 

STILLS:  So, in that regard, I am really lucky.  And what makes me feel old is, this is my fifth convention. 

REAGAN:  What are you doing here now? 

STILLS:  You know what?  I haven‘t been a delegate for a couple of times now.  This is the first time I haven‘t been a delegate for a couple of times.  I just came down for the night after watching TV all weekend.  And I had to tell you one thing.  You guys owned it. 

REAGAN:  All right. 

STILLS:  Absolutely owned it. 

Of all the people talking about what‘s going on in there, these guys, him and Chris and everybody else on, Dee Dee and the whole gang, just owned this thing.  And we really appreciate it out there when we‘re trying to figure out, well, what did he say? 


REAGAN:  You heard it here first. 

Now, did you watch the speeches, too? 

STILLS:  Oh, yes. 


REAGAN:  Did you see Kerry‘s speech?  What did you think? 

STILLS:  Kerry‘s speech was marvelous.  He just—he really hit a home run.  He really—it had just the right balance of substance and eloquence and poetic. 

I thought it was a dying art.  I thought it was a dead art.  And then you will get somebody like—like you get Clinton, who owns it on opening night.  And then the next night, we had Al Sharpton took off with it.

REAGAN:  Yes. 


STILLS:  And shame on you for cutting him off. 


REAGAN:  Barack Obama, too. 

STILLS:  Yes. 


STILLS:  And, oh, I just met him.  And all of my grandparents and everybody are from southern Illinois, so I am going to go back and help him. 

REAGAN:  Yes. 

STILLS:  I just told him—walked up and said, hey, I am there with my acoustic guitar. 

REAGAN:  Yes. 

Well, what are you doing with your acoustic guitar these days?  Are we

going to see more


STILLS:  I just finished a solo album, and it will probably be out the beginning of next year, because Graham and David have one coming out right now.  And we don‘t want to go butt heads against each other. 

REAGAN:  Yes. 

STILLS:  You don‘t want to do that to your partners.  It‘s just not done. 

REAGAN:  A reunion, perhaps? 

STILLS:  Well, yes.  CSNY will do something, too, real soon.

REAGAN:  Yes.  Cool.

STILLS:  And if we could, we would have been here.  We are hoping we can do something in October for a little surprise at the end. 

REAGAN:  Yes?  Yes?  Are you guys thinking of maybe going out on the campaign trail at all for somebody? 

STILLS:  Well, in some form or another.  You know, being Canadian is a little—he said, I‘ve got to be a bit of a bystander, but he wants to show up really bad. 

REAGAN:  Yes, I think I know what Neil‘s politics are, too. 

STILLS:  Yes, I think so. 

REAGAN:  I don‘t imagine he is a Republican. 



STILLS:  No, sir.  No, sir. 

And, by the way, you were quite something the other night. 

REAGAN:  Thank you.  I appreciate that.

STILLS:  I really wanted to say that. 

Wasn‘t he great? 



REAGAN:  Well, that‘s nice of you to say.  I appreciate that. 

So can I ask you who you are going to vote for, just for grins? 

STILLS:  What? 


STILLS:  Are you kidding?  I have known John Kerry since 1973, I think.  And I have thought that this moment would probably come since the second or third time I met him.

REAGAN:  Yes. 

STILLS:  So there‘s been no doubt.  I have been—I worked on John‘s Senate races and this for almost two years.  So I am taken.  But thanks to Joe Trippi for getting us all here, getting everybody started.  And then it worked out the way it did. 

REAGAN:  Well, Stephen Stills, thank you for joining us here, Steve of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, one of the great folk rock bands of all time, ever. 

STILLS:  Well, thank you. 

REAGAN:  Big hand for Stephen Stills. 


REAGAN:  All right, coming up, more of our unconventional convention coverage.  We want to hear from you, so give us a call, 888-MSNBC-USA.  We‘re taking your calls live next.


REAGAN:  Yes, Stephen Stills.




KERRY:  I am not one to read into things, but guess which wing of the hospital the maternity ward was in? 


KERRY:  I‘m not kidding.  I was born in the west wing. 




SCARBOROUGH:  We are back.  It‘s “AFTER HOURS” live from outside Faneuil Hall. 

I got to tell you, these people are pumped up tonight.  They obviously liked John Kerry‘s speech.  They liked his delivery.  They like that face of his.  I mean, they like everything. 

Right now, let‘s go to the phones.  We got Emmanuel from Coney Island, New York.

You are up late with “AFTER HOURS.”  What do you think of the speech tonight? 

CALLER:  Well, first of all, hey, Joe and Ron.

First of all, I want to say that you guys have done an incredible job with your show over the past four days.  It‘s the best convention coverage on TV.  And it‘s your fault that I have been waking up late all this week, but just to tell you that.

But I thought that—I just don‘t understand why this convention has put so much emphasis on Kerry‘s Vietnam experience.  I feel that I have an utmost respect for his service.  But, listen, being a good soldier does not necessarily translate into being a good commander in chief.  Bush, on the other hand, has already shown the American people that he is a strong and decisive commander in chief who will do anything to protect and defend our great nation.  And also...


SCARBOROUGH:  Emmanuel, thank you. 

Mike Barnicle, how important is his Vietnam record going to be?  And how does he focus on what he did in Vietnam, instead of letting Republicans try to focus on what he did when he came home? 

BARNICLE:  Well, I think his service record, his record in Vietnam, is a defensive weapon in the campaign.  It‘s not an offensive weapon. 


BARNICLE:  And it‘s a fire wall. 

If they go after him on his service in Vietnam, they have lost this election.  His service in Vietnam is a platform from which he can tell the people of this country, I can kill these people.  If they are coming here to kill us—and that‘s what they want to do—I will do this. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And you know what?  

BARNICLE:  I can get it done more effectively than the guy who is in there now. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  Unlike what happens with John Edwards, John Kerry can deliver that line and I think it will have resonance. 

REAGAN:  He can deliver it, yes.

BARNICLE:  Joe, he‘s done it himself.


REAGAN:  Hang on, Mike. 

Coming up in the next hour, what effect will the Democratic Convention have on Kerry‘s run for the White House?  I am sure our panel will have a thing or two to say about that. 

And of course, everyone‘s favorite insult comic dog—there‘s more than one? 



REAGAN:  Triumph from “Late Night With Conan O‘Brien,” you certainly won‘t want to miss that. 

So stay tuned, as our “CONVENTION AFTER HOURS” wrap party continues live from Faneuil Hall in Boston.



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