Guests: Larry Gatlin, Ken Duberstein, Dora Kingsley, David Barton, David Dreier, Kati Marton
KATI MARTON, AUTHOR, “HIDDEN POWER”: And we seem to need the certification of the wife during these conventions.
I think the first husband to have used his wife this way was Franklin Roosevelt, who sent Eleanor to Chicago in 1940, when there was a very unruly convention that was reluctant to give FDR a third term. And Eleanor arrived and sort of turned the whole mood around. And I think, since then, candidates have been using their wives to show their human face. And Laura does that better than almost anyone. She is in some ways really a throwback first lady, very traditional.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Kati, you know who the most disliked Democrat in the country is right now?
MARTON: I couldn‘t tell you.
MATTHEWS: Hillary Clinton.
MATTHEWS: You have a case there where the wife is less popular than the husband. And you have a case in the White House today of the wife being immensely more popular than the husband.
Her negatives right now...
MATTHEWS: The first lady‘s negatives are 14 percent.
MARTON: No, she is very popular.
But I have to tell you that, having studied the popularity of first
ladies, traditionally, first ladies are very popular. It‘s rather unusual
· and Hillary was a very polarizing first lady, obviously, as was Nancy Reagan. But I looked at these numbers, and they are—going back to Bess Truman, they are almost always the most popular, the most admired women.
In part, it‘s because they are the most familiar women, but also
because almost all of them have played their role
MATTHEWS: Well, I must say that, today, Nancy Reagan enjoys tremendous regard from people of both parties. I don‘t think she is a polarizing figure at all. I think she is beloved.
Kati Marton, thank you very much for joining us tonight to sort out the first lady role here tonight.
MARTON: My pleasure. My pleasure.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s check back right now with “NBC NIGHTLY NEWS” anchor and NBC News Washington bureau chief and moderator of “Meet the Press,” Tim Russert—Tom.
TOM BROKAW, NBC ANCHOR: Well, Chris, we have been talking up here about how carefully orchestrated this entire convention has been.
And tonight was a perfect example of that, Arnold Schwarzenegger reaching out to the immigrant vote, talking about the American dream and speaking as well to working-class America. I was just thinking about what it must be like in bars tonight in Kenosha, Wisconsin, or the industrial districts of Ohio and Pennsylvania, which are going to be so important. The guys that are watching that are probably registered as independents.
They can identify with Arnold.
And I actually talked to one Democrat who said that, in Boston, they test-marketed every phrase, and they kept coming back to the speeches and saying, can you work in faith and values a little more? I don‘t think that they test-marketed girly men. That was just Arnold going for it.
TIM RUSSERT, NBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Or terminate terrorism.
RUSSERT: Or, I‘ll be back. But it was quintessential Arnold Schwarzenegger.
And he has a raw appeal, a blanket appeal, to independent voters, particularly young men, saying, you know what, it‘s OK to be Republican. You don‘t have to sign up for the party platform. Very powerful message.
BROKAW: And, Chris, he has done this in the state of California, as you know. He has pulled a lot of people across the line, including Willie Brown and John Burton and others up there, who are certified card-carrying members of the Democratic Party. And they like his authentic style and his practical approach to things and his determination to get things done.
RUSSERT: And he also said, Tom, he wouldn‘t leave the state of California to campaign for President Bush.
RUSSERT: He was in New York tonight, and he is now going to go on the road, selective places, but he can be a very powerful weapon for the Bush campaign.
BROKAW: It was a real red-meat speech Chris.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you very much, Tom and Tim.
Let me go right now to Joe Scarborough.
You know, Joe, let‘s talk about Arnold Schwarzenegger. Forget Laura for a minute, OK? What struck me about Arnold—and I know him a bit. I like him. What struck me about him is his personal history, the history of so many international conflicts. Here‘s a guy who lived firsthand through the Cold War. He was under Soviet rule. That‘s pretty personal. And then, of course, he went through socialism. He didn‘t quite like that. And now of course he is making the case for the war against Saddam Hussein, of the occupation of Iraq. It struck me, this guy has street cred.
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”: He does have street cred.
I was struck, though, by the nostalgia. We have Tom Brokaw, obviously, just hearing from Tom Brokaw, obviously a man whose books on the greatest generation continue to go to the top of the charts. We just celebrated the 60th anniversary of Normandy, talk about Ronald Reagan bring -- doing what he did to free the Soviet blocs.
And I find it interesting that September 11 has drawn Americans back to studying about Winston Churchill, reading your book again, and Roosevelt, and when America stood for something great in the world, and that we were the liberators.
And isn‘t it interesting?
SCARBOROUGH: We heard that from Arnold Schwarzenegger.
I was struck, though, when Laura Bush talked about her father, the guy that went in and was there when they liberated the concentration camps, and tying that image to what her husband, what she saw her husband suffer with the days after 9/11, trying to figure out how to move America and the world through that moral crisis. There were a lot of these trends, a lot of these threads that were moving through Schwarzenegger‘s speech, through Laura Bush‘s speech.
MATTHEWS: I think that‘s where he may have lost me.
Andrea, what do you think about him talking—or his wife, Laura Bush, talking about times that her husband agonized over the decision whether to go to war?
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: See, I think that was the most important.
I think the most important thing in Arnold‘s speech was that America is safer with George Bush as president. So here you have this strong man who has credibility with independent voters, as Tom and Tim were saying, saying, America is safer. This guy makes you safer.
Laura Bush is validating him at the kitchen table, across a cup of coffee, across the kitchen table having a cup of coffee with the woman next door, telling her neighbor, this is what I know about him. And let me tell you, he agonized. He wrestled with this decision. She is saying, don‘t believe that stuff that he was predetermined to go to war, he was locked up by the neocons, the Vulcans, whatever you want to call them.
MITCHELL: Had decided this before anything else happened. She is
saying, he wrestled with it. I watched him. I am your eyewitness that he
really struggled with the decision to go to war. Now, whether you believe
it or not
MATTHEWS: Do you think he wrestled with the war, Jon Meacham?
JON MEACHAM, “NEWSWEEK”: I do.
MITCHELL: She is—she is the validator of that.
MEACHAM: I don‘t think anyone who has not sat in that chair and sent people into combat should question that.
I was reminded, to go to Andrea‘s point and to Joe‘s, that—the story about Jimmy Stewart‘s great line that, if Ronald Reagan had married Nancy Davis the first time, he would have won an Academy Award.
MEACHAM: And clearly, if George W. Bush had not moved so quickly in those three months, he would still be the Texas Rangers. And this is a formidable woman.
And I think that she—the other thing that I found really fascinating is, we were all sort of teed up to think of this as this is going to be the compassionate thing. She talked about terrorism.
MATTHEWS: I know. I said that earlier in the evening, by the way, after looking at some of the advanced text. It seems to me there was a—maybe it was a nice benign bait-and-switch tonight. But this is not the night of compassion.
MATTHEWS: This is the night of Arnold Schwarzenegger and a very strong witness from the first lady.
MITCHELL: I don‘t know. This is a strong appeal, strong appeal to women voters.
MATTHEWS: But tell me why. But tell me why.
J.C. WATTS, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: I agree very much.
MITCHELL: America is safer with this guy.
MATTHEWS: But why is that called compassion?
MITCHELL: Well, it‘s...
MITCHELL: Earlier in the evening, you heard about the domestic policies. But, in these speeches, you heard that he will take care of you.
MATTHEWS: Right. I think it was a speech...
MITCHELL: You are warm in his embrace.
MATTHEWS: OK, your thoughts.
WATTS: Well, I agree with Andrea. I do think that when women send their kids to school in the morning, they want to feel like they are going to come back home at night.
MATTHEWS: That‘s it.
Andrea, you finish your way of saying that.
MITCHELL: That your kids are going to be OK, that you can tuck them into bed at night, and that he will stop those bad guys at the door.
MATTHEWS: The new compassion is war in Iraq.
MEACHAM: Five words. Five words.
MITCHELL: No, it‘s the war on terror.
MEACHAM: Five words I think sum this up. In ‘96, we had soccer moms.
Now we have security moms.
WATTS: That‘s right.
MEACHAM: That‘s the political dynamic.
MATTHEWS: What‘s the new definition, Jon, historically, of compassion?
MEACHAM: I think it‘s compassionate not to want to get your kids blown up.
I live 10 blocks from here, near the United Nations. And it‘s very
real to me as a parent that we are in a war. It‘s not necessarily that
John Kerry is going to make us less safe at all. But this does resonate,
and I think it worked very well, but as a rhetorical device, as Andrea was
saying, with the kitchen table and with
SCARBOROUGH: You know what this reminds me of? It reminds on a national scale of what I saw after Rudy Giuliani became mayor of this town.
I was flying in one time. I was in Congress. I was actually sitting next to a woman who was one of the leaders of the Democratic Party on Long Island, and we were talking about New York politics. I said, what do you think about Giuliani? She goes, I am voting for him next time.
And here she is sitting here trashing Republicans. And I say, how can you do that? She said, because I can take my family in town. I feel safe. This is the national version of that.
MATTHEWS: Well, again, let me ask, who ran against Rudy Giuliani as the Democrat for second term? Ruth Messinger. Remember that name, because everybody else has forgot it.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, Congressman David Dreier of California joins us right now from the convention floor.
David, who gave the best speech tonight—you‘ve got to tell me—
Arnold Schwarzenegger or the first lady?
REP. DAVID DREIER ®, CALIFORNIA: They were both terrific speeches, Chris.
And let me tell you, I think that it was said very clearly, you can be both compassionate and strong. There‘s no doubt whatsoever that both of them were incredibly compassionate and incredibly strong. When we heard Laura reminding us of ducking under the desks, the fact that we don‘t have to do that anymore, and then when we listened to Arnold talk about every, at single move, what it is that makes one a Republican and why immigrants can be drawn to it, I think that that is—I think it was very strong.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you today, give us an update on Arnold Schwarzenegger. I know you are a big supporter and one of the reasons he was elected, probably. How he is doing?
DREIER: He‘s doing phenomenally well.
I spent about 45 minutes with him just before he gave the speech, Chris. And we were talking about very important issues that affect California. The speech was phenomenal. This place just—the roof nearly blew off Madison Square Garden. And it‘s not just Californians, but it was more crowded in other areas. But he is a guy who has got incredible discipline, great focus.
And he is one who does know exactly where he wants to go. And he wants to turn California around and he is doing that right now. And he wants to make sure that George W. Bush is reelected as president. So, Chris, you just said you know him. He was upbeat, optimistic. And he is continuing to do that exact same thing that he always does.
MATTHEWS: Well, I get along with him, even though I thought Bustamante was going to win back there.
But let me ask you, David Dreier, has he made California safe for President Bush?
DREIER: Oh, I will tell you, and it‘s great because you knew that if I—if you hadn‘t reminded me that you were predicting Bustamante that I would have reminded you again.
The fact is, California is a state that I believe can be in play. We know that it‘s an uphill battle. But with the kind of focus that‘s coming out of this convention or the fact that we have seen a 180-degree turn in the numbers in not only the battleground states, but nationwide, I believe that the Bush message, which is tailor-made for California, focusing not only on international terrorism, but economic growth, opening up new markets, which Arnold regularly spends time on, and the fact that he enjoys this over 65 percent approval rating, and the message that he offered today was the people just like Arnold Schwarzenegger, who have been immigrants coming to this country, that‘s also something that will have a very big impact on California voters as we focus on the presidential campaign.
MATTHEWS: How did he get away with saying girly man tonight in his speech, when everybody gave him hell for that? Was that just he toughed it out or what?
DREIER: No, I will tell you that there was talk about it over the last few weeks. And we have gone through that response that I happen to really like out in California over the use of that, when he was talking about some of the challenges he faced in the state legislature. And when there was discussion of it, I was one who said, absolutely, he was right on target.
MATTHEWS: Well, he called me a girly man because my wife won‘t let me smoke cigars in the house, so I got to live with it.
Anyway, thank you very much, my pal David Dreier.
DREIER: You bet. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Congressman from California.
NBC‘s Campbell Brown is on the convention floor. She joins us now—
CAMPBELL BROWN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Chris.
We are going to get a little reaction on the floor to tonight‘s speeches.
I‘m with David Barton, who is an educator from Texas and a member of the Texas delegation.
And you had said earlier that what you wanted to hear tonight from the first lady especially was the definition of the George W. Bush that you had known all these years. Tell me what you meant by that.
DAVID BARTON, TEXAS DELEGATE: Well, there‘s a personal side to him. Very often, you see the policy side. You see the news clip side. And there‘s a real personal side. She is just like it. She is a class act. She‘s a gracious lady. She‘s a quality person.
And we wanted that personal side to come out as well.
BROWN: What did you think of Arnold Schwarzenegger and his girly man comment?
BARTON: You know what? I like him in the sense that he is not scared of anything. He is not going to back off, because he has got convictions. He is going to say it. I was surprised, but, quite frankly, it doesn‘t bother me. I think most people know how to take that right. That‘s his culture. It‘s where he‘s from. We can handle that.
BROWN: David, thanks for chatting with us.
Chris, let‘s go back to you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Campbell Brown.
When we come back, much more from the convention floor and more from our panel.
You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Republican National Convention on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER ®, CALIFORNIA: Now, there‘s another way you can tell you‘re a Republican. You have faith in free enterprise, faith in the resourcefulness of the American people and faith in the U.S. economy. And to those critics who are so pessimistic about our economy, I say: Don‘t be economic girly men.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: We are on Broadway. You can see it right there on the Jumbotron. It‘s great to be up there.
Let‘s check in with our NBC‘s Chip Reid, who is on the floor—Chip.
CHIP REID, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Chris.
I am with Dora Kingsley, a delegate from California.
And I am going to ask you an impossible question. Which speech did you like more, Arnold or Laura?
DORA KINGSLEY, CALIFORNIA DELEGATE: That‘s a tough question. I would have to say, I love Laura Bush‘s speech. I have seen Governor Schwarzenegger talk all the time. He is a fabulous speaker. We loved him tonight. But Laura Bush, the first lady‘s speech was about perfect for women. And I really appreciated her message.
REID: Now, I watched the California delegation while Arnold was talking. It was like the home team was winning the World Series. While Laura was speaking, there were a lot of misty eyes.
KINGSLEY: Well, it‘s late in the evening. And she was really talking about things that we feel deep inside of us and a lot of messages that are important to us. So I think we take that very personally.
REID: Did she change how you feel about George Bush at all or...
KINGSLEY: Well, I love George Bush and I have been supporting him from a long time ago. So it didn‘t change my opinion at all. It just strengthened it.
REID: OK, fantastic, Dora Kingsley of the California delegate—
Chris, back to you.
MATTHEWS: Thanks, Chip Reid, who is on the floor there.
She seemed kind of, I don‘t know, sassy for a Republican. What did you say there, Jon, historically?
MITCHELL: Oh, your stereotypes.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s go right now to the lieutenant governor of Maryland, a great guy, Michael Steele. He‘s on the floor. He addressed the convention earlier tonight.
Lieutenant Governor—I should call you Governor, not just because it‘s the proper title—because I know you, buddy, and you are running for governor someday.
But what did you think about the speech by Arnold Schwarzenegger tonight?
LT. GOV. MICHAEL STEELE ®, MARYLAND: I thought it was a great speech. I thought Arnold came out and he did what he had to do. And he conveyed a message that I thought brought California and New York together.
And it brought the East and the West, the North and the South of America together. And he talked about the importance of being an immigrant to this country, talked about the importance of having a different path to this country through slavery and what it means to be an American today. And I thought it was a very sensible, a very sound message for America to take with them to this November election.
MATTHEWS: Isn‘t it a tougher for life, though, for a person who has lived here maybe 20 generations, many of them under slavery and Jim Crow? Isn‘t that a tougher road to walk than to come here from a European country, be white?
STEELE: Oh, it is.
MATTHEWS: You learn the language and all of a sudden you are a white American.
STEELE: Right. Right.
MATTHEWS: Isn‘t it tougher for blacks?
STEELE: It is absolutely tougher.
You live with the vestiges of slavery. You live with the vestiges of Jim Crow. America is still growing out of that. And so this type of speech, this type of night at our convention, I think, is an opportunity for us to reflect on our past, as I tried to do in my speech, and connect the party to its civil rights tradition.
But you also think about the hope and the opportunity that the president represents for the next generation of Americans. And you hope to build the bridge where you don‘t have that stigma, that division that is still left over from slavery and Jim Crow and separate but equal.
MATTHEWS: Do you think your party, or maybe both parties—I don‘t want to be partisan about this—do you think your—both parties, Democrat and Republican, would benefit from the kind of biography of an African-American, like we just got from an immigrant?
STEELE: I think so. I think it‘s important for people to see that an African-American in the country today has value, has something to offer, that slavery did not hold him back or her back. In fact, it propelled us to the opportunities that we are enjoying.
That‘s what I tried to convey in my speech and talk about the values that brought me to this party, the values that were instilled in me by my mother and my family. And so that connection is there. Our party and I think both parties have to make a greater effort to firm up that connection and to really engage African-Americans in the political process. Right now, everybody is sitting on one side of the boat. And you know what happens when you do that.
And I think it‘s important that we all kind of find that balance politically, so that the boat can move a little bit smoother and that we can take advantage of the same opportunities, for example, that Arnold did.
MATTHEWS: What was your feeling when you watched Barack Obama speak at the Democratic Convention?
STEELE: I thought that he gave a great Republican speech.
MATTHEWS: Really? Tell me about it.
STEELE: Yes. Well, I just did. I don‘t need to say much more than that.
I don‘t want to talk about him. If I want to talk about anything, I want to talk about the speech I gave tonight.
MATTHEWS: You just did. You just did, Governor.
STEELE: I‘m not worried about—they got Barack.
MATTHEWS: I didn‘t think that was a left
MATTHEWS: ... speech at all. You‘re right.
STEELE: No. I thought it was a very good, very well crafted Republican speech. I tried to give a very well crafted Republican speech. I think I did.
MATTHEWS: Well, I hope you make it someday because you are a great guy.
STEELE: All right. Well, thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, the lieutenant governor of my state, Maryland, my adopted state, Michael Steele.
STEELE: You got it.
MATTHEWS: By the way, Michael, you are the reason your ticket won, and you know it. And that‘s how you beat Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, good night. We‘ll see you again.
STEELE: I love you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you.
STEELE: Take care, buddy.
MATTHEWS: We‘re going to go right back with the panel.
We‘re joined, by the way, by former Reagan chief of staff—I always like to say these things breathlessly. Let‘s go.
Ken Duberstein, your assessment of—let‘s go to Arnold.
KEN DUBERSTEIN, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: It‘s very simple.
Not since Ronald Reagan has anybody delivered a speech and can deliver the lines like Arnold did tonight. I was in the hall. He was loud. The hall was ready. And he really delivered a home run. And I kept saying to myself, listening to Schwarzenegger, Ronald Reagan is up there smiling, an heir of his, the governor of California, really, and I think Reagan would have thought, hit the ball out of the ballpark.
MATTHEWS: He has a great sense, doesn‘t he, Andrea, of who he is? He knows he has the accent. He knows—as he once said to me, “I talk like a Nazi.”
He knows the accent history. He knows people were troubled by it at first. And then when they realize his story as an Austrian, as the guy who escaped, basically, to have chose NATO—boy, wasn‘t that great? He said, even though I am an Austrian and I loved my country, I always thought of myself as an American. I was going to make it there. Now, that‘s an amazing statement.
MITCHELL: And it was a beautifully written speech, beautifully delivered.
And it also made me think—Ken reminding us of Ronald Reagan. Reagan was once asked, how can an actor be president? And he said, well, I don‘t know how you could do this job if you weren‘t an actor.
MATTHEWS: Well, we can argue. He is certainly a politician. Both of them are.
Let‘s go here right now, Arnold Schwarzenegger. I want to ask everybody to spell Schwarzenegger without looking.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, he talked about being a young man and watching Richard Nixon on television, boy, the best push Nixon has had in a while.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHWARZENEGGER: I remember watching the Nixon-Humphrey presidential race on TV. A friend of mine who spoke German and English translated for me. I heard Humphrey saying things that sounded like socialism, which I had just left.
But then I heard Nixon speak. Then I heard Nixon speak. He was talking about free enterprise, getting the government off your back, lowering the taxes and strengthening the military.
SCHWARZENEGGER: Listening to Nixon speak sounded more like a breath of fresh air.
I said to my friend, I said, “What party is he?”
My friend said, “He‘s a Republican.”
I said, “Then I am a Republican.”
SCHWARZENEGGER: And I have been a Republican ever since.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I think nobody watching now appreciates how big a celebrity this guy is. In Morocco, the kids know who this guy is. In Rangoon, they know who he is.
By the way, I‘ve got to know about your moment of epiphany. Who did you hear speak and say to yourself, I, J.C. Watts, am a Republican?
WATTS: It was Ronald Reagan.
I think Reagan—I was not a Republican when Ronald Reagan was president. And I think he appealed more to my competitive juices as an athlete than he did my political juices. That just never say die, that optimism, that spirit of we can kind of attracted me. And, actually, in 1989, I said, I am no longer—I am not a Democrat any longer.
So, Chris, one thing I want to add, too, we talked about the first lady‘s speech. We talked about Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s speech. Arnold gave a speech that I think gave a reflection of what he has accomplished over the last 25, 30 years, since he has been in this country. And Laura Bush talked.
But at the same time, he talked about the war on terror and terminating terrorism. The first lady, I think you got a sense of her warmth and her grace, but, at the same time, she kind of underlined the terrorism theme. We have conventions—Republicans and Democrats have conventions every four years. Unions, religious groups, associations have them every year. We do it every four years.
I don‘t think it‘s a bad thing to kind of script those things, with the nominee or the president to say, we want to have some difference, and we want to take the next four days to get our message out and frame our issues. So I just say that because we have been talking a lot about how these speeches are scripted or how they were scripted at the Democratic Convention. I don‘t think that‘s all bad. You consider the time that we have to talk to the American people in these three or four days that we do have.
MATTHEWS: Especially the times that are even more are restricted that they can speak to a much larger audience, which includes broadcast.
WATTS: That‘s right. That‘s right. And if you are all over the board, I just think you lose the essence of what you want to say to the American people.
MITCHELL: But, you know, I think there is still some nostalgia for the days before—frankly, before the Reagan White House, when it was largely a little less orchestrated.
Here, you had a situation where between the 10:00 and 11:00 hour, when the most people were watching, there was not even 10 seconds or 15 seconds for anyone to break into the flow that, as Ken Duberstein, was beautifully orchestrated.
I remember back in the 1984 Republican Convention in Dallas, when Ronald Reagan was being nominated, and the party opened up with a nine-minute video of Reagan.
MATTHEWS: And what do you call that, when the Republicans are smart enough to jam the networks out of their commentary time?
MITCHELL: Being really smart.
MATTHEWS: I call it hardball.
MATTHEWS: We‘re coming right back with our panel here at Herald Square. We‘ll be joined by country music star Larry Gatlin.
You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Republican Convention in New York.
It really is hardball. They just—we got an hour. We‘re taking the hour.
DUBERSTEIN: It was absolutely scripted for 58 minutes. So you have your last two minutes as your fadeout. And it works.
MATTHEWS: Whoever did continuity was a genius.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHWARZENEGGER: That‘s what I admire most about the president. He is a man of perseverance. He is a man of inner strength. He is a leader who doesn‘t flinch, who doesn‘t waver, who does not back down.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Top of the world, ma. There we are on the Jumbotron right on Times Square.
We are down here in Herald Square, not quite as exciting, but there I am. Hi.
Anyway, we‘re in New York, on the Jumbotron in Times Square. And it‘s been quite a big night for us here, the second night of the Republican Convention. We‘ve heard from—a speech that may be the one great speech of the convention already. I thought last night, it was Rudy. We will talk about this. This is the battle of the bands. I have never heard speeches like this.
And I want to disagree with you. I think the one good thing about limiting this to about an hour a night, when everybody watches, we got a return of oratory.
Anyway, first lady, Laura Bush, and we heard from her as well. And we even had a brief appearance by the president himself at some—I don‘t whether it was a real softball game or something that looked like it out in Pennsylvania somewhere.
We‘re back with the panel.
Here‘s first lady Laura Bush talking about the president‘s decision to go to war in Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: No American president ever wants to go to war. Abraham Lincoln didn‘t want to go to war. But he knew saving the Union required it. Franklin Roosevelt didn‘t want to go to war, but he knew defeating tyranny demanded it. And my husband didn‘t want to go to war, but he knew the safety and security of America and the world depended on it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, I think that‘s an argument I will—let me just say, I will defer on for tonight.
I just think all the evidence suggested in our history that the son of a former president who didn‘t quite complete a war, by the son‘s estimate, who filled his Cabinet with people extremely aggressive on foreign policy, starting with his vice presidential selection, the selection of his secretary of defense, with the lone exception of Colin Powell, who I believe from the beginning disagreed with him, it was a presidency that was ready to take on Saddam Hussein.
And to say that was agonizing decision is an argument. I am not sure it‘s a fact yet.
Who wants to disagree with that premise?
MEACHAM: I will disagree.
I think a president, it‘s the most fundamental thing they do. You talk to anyone. You talk to 41. I am sure President Reagan had this experience in Granada and Beirut. I mean, I think you can‘t be the kind of man who gets elected in this country and not feel agonized and anguished about putting the best of the country in harm‘s way.
MATTHEWS: Do you believe the country—do you believe that President Reagan agonized over Granada?
DUBERSTEIN: Absolutely, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Did he? Tell me about it.
MEACHAM: He was there.
DUBERSTEIN: The idea is that you may put one soldier in harm‘s way is one too many, unless the price is worth paying.
And Reagan agonized, especially—remember, the Lebanon Marine
barracks happened 48 hours before we were going to Granada. And we lost
275 Marines. And let me tell you, there was rethinking because Ronald
Reagan kept saying, one is too many if we go to Granada, unless it‘s worth
it. Let‘s go back to the
MATTHEWS: Let‘s go to J.C. Your thoughts.
WATTS: Well, and, Chris, let me say, God help us if we ever have a president that does not agonize over that decision. To send any mom or dad‘s son or daughter into harm‘s way like that in a cavalier fashion is just...
MATTHEWS: Not cavalier. That‘s not what I am suggesting.
WATTS: No, no, I‘m saying not agonize.
MATTHEWS: ... this administration was very aggressive from the outset.
And I am just saying—and I don‘t mean that any president would be cavalier. I am just saying, I would hope they would never do that. I really do think that‘s got to be the most difficult thing, in my opinion, for a president to do.
MITCHELL: But I think Chris has a point that this president and his war cabinet were predisposed to take on Saddam Hussein.
DUBERSTEIN: Yes, but everything got propelled in light of 9/11.
MITCHELL: Sure. It got propelled.
MITCHELL: But, at some point, they were moving in that direction.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s stick with the format tonight. We are covering a convention, an event which made history tonight. I do believe that Arnold Schwarzenegger, as Tim Russert suggested a couple of times tonight, he pointed out that Schwarzenegger is a permission slip for many young people.
Whatever their backgrounds or how much money they have or ethnically, they say, wait a minute, this might be the cool party. I am not diminishing their way of looking at it, but when you have older men, men of my age and older, who are presidential candidates, and then all of a sudden, you have the guy who may be our age, but is a totally different sort of cat, you have a guy who basically appeals to kids, does that open the door?
MITCHELL: He is a cultural icon. He is a pop figure. He himself referred to that. And he doesn‘t back away from that. In fact, he embraces it.
He came up with all of his lines, his Terminator lines, and I‘ll be back, and used it very artfully to work in the story about the soldier in Iraq. So he wants people to think of him as the pop culture figure, absolutely. He is extraordinarily popular.
DUBERSTEIN: Well, the fact that he was going to terminate terrorism.
MATTHEWS: He played on that.
DUBERSTEIN: And those lines.
MEACHAM: Where did that come from, win one for the Gipper? Some of the most important lines in modern political history have come from movies.
MEACHAM: That paragraph that Schwarzenegger gave, if you are this, if you are this, you are a Republican, is one hell of a summation of the creed of the modern Republican Party.
MATTHEWS: Is that taken from the Jeff Foxworthy number about, if you are this, you are a redneck? It sounded like that.
MEACHAM: You know, you‘re right. It sounded like that.
MEACHAM: You see, that is a Yankee question right there.
WATTS: Well, Chris, I think people can look at the life of Arnold
Schwarzenegger and I think hear his speech tonight, and they can think
about it and they can say, me, too. And I think there was that feel about
You know where I discovered him? Not in the movies. The only one of his movies I liked was “True Lies,” which he gives sort of—the whole thing was kind of tongue in cheek, obviously. It wasn‘t you‘re an action hero.
I was in Philadelphia, a very tough neighborhood downtown in Philly. And I grew up there. And he was in a minority neighborhood, a tough neighborhood. And these kids were all in this little high school auditorium. And there was this guy up there with sneakers on and workout clothes. And he was talking to those kids in a way very few white guys in the burbs could ever get away with. He was connecting.
And he was connecting on the grounds of getting those kids‘ brains activated.
MITCHELL: I‘ve seen him
MATTHEWS: Getting these kids to play chess, getting these kids to play games, getting them into physical fitness.
And I said, there‘s something almost chemical about this guy‘s
connection with kids who are having a hard time. And I think it might be
what somebody said here. He made it. He made it by lifting weights. He
made it by doing things I can connect with, athletics. He can do it. He
is sort of like the guy how is not an intellectual, but he‘s a guy that‘s -
· the action hero way of making it.
MITCHELL: Well, in fact, his kid programs are really authentic.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I know.
MITCHELL: He first began doing that for Bush 41. And that‘s how he got to know the Bush family as well as he did, does.
MEACHAM: And he‘s literally, literally, a self-made man.
MITCHELL: And a good businessman.
DUBERSTEIN: And, by the way, the kids are plunking down their own money to go to movies to watch him. So there is a connection already on the monetary side.
MATTHEWS: ... something else, talking about giving back. I don‘t think there are any political points in what he was doing the day I saw him. I saw him doing something four years ago in Philly that I thought was generous.
I mean, he was connecting. There‘s always a little bit of ego in anything you do, but I thought he was doing something good.
WATTS: He has been there. Chris, and you are right.
I called Arnold when he decided to run. We talked. And I told him, I had, you have built some goodwill because you have been there in those underserved communities. And nobody can accuse you of making that something political or doing it for political reasons. You have been there. You performed. You have got a track record. And good, bad or indifferent, professional football players, professional athletes, movie stars, actors, those people do have a tremendous influence on the youth of America.
And Arnold has chosen to use his in a positive way, and he has gotten great results from it.
MATTHEWS: Well, when I was a kid, J.C., when you were, who did we want to meet?
WATTS: That‘s right.
MITCHELL: Mickey Mantle.
MATTHEWS: We didn‘t want to meet senators.
WATTS: Yes. Nobody puts Donald Trump on their closet door. You put Michael Jordan.
MATTHEWS: I wanted to be Richie Ashburn. That‘s who I...
MITCHELL: Mickey Mantle.
DUBERSTEIN: I thought it was Hopalong Cassidy in “Howdy Doody.”
MATTHEWS: We‘ll come right back. We are going to talk about—we‘re going to trade baseball cards here in a minute.
MATTHEWS: We‘re joined by country music star Larry Gatlin.
You are watching HARDBALL‘s—well, it‘s softball this time of night
· live coverage of the Republican National Convention.
By the way, we‘re still at 34th and Broadway. Look around.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHWARZENEGGER: I have visited our troops in Iraq, Kuwait, Bosnia, Germany, and all over the world. I‘ve visited our troops in California, where they train before they go overseas. I have visited our military hospitals. And I tell you this, that our men and women in uniform do not believe there are two Americas. They believe we are one America, and they are fighting for it.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL‘s coverage of the Republican Convention.
Let‘s go right now to Lower—actually, what do I mean go? I‘m
already here. We are going live. We are live from—getting late tonight
· 34th and Broadway. The city is getting quiet tonight. Boy, we had a busy night.
And we are joined by the legendary Larry Gatlin of the Gatlin Brothers.
You know what it was like here about five and a half hours ago?
LARRY GATLIN, COUNTRY MUSIC SINGER: Tell me.
MATTHEWS: I had somebody save me from somebody lunging onto the stage. It was pretty exciting.
GATLIN: Well, you would have thought you had a hit record, man. That‘s what happens when you have hit records. They come up on the stage and want to help you do your job.
MATTHEWS: This guy didn‘t want to help me. He wanted to stop me.
GATLIN: Well, some of them don‘t want
GATLIN: Don‘t want you to have a break at all.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the president and country music. We had Darryl Worley the other night.
And is this war—I had a friend of mine when I was a Capitol cop like 40 years ago. I was a Capitol policeman. And I remember talking to a guy who was from West Virginia, a real country guy, Leroy Taylor (ph). And Leroy said the reason the country boy, the poor boy loves his country was always God.
MATTHEWS: I mean, it‘s what you need. You need a country. You‘re not rich. You don‘t have a house to shore.
GATLIN: Yes, but that presupposes that rich guys in New York don‘t love God or it‘s not about God, too. So I am not going to go there. I‘m not going to make that judgment.
I think what is the operation is, a lot of people think it is God, guns and gays in the heartland. There‘s another...
MATTHEWS: Well, when you say God‘s country...
GATLIN: Well, you know, that‘s a euphemism that‘s what we all use.
And that‘s fine.
But if you are referring to that just as the heartland, you have never been to Pebble Beach, OK? If you are referring to that just as the heartland, you never have been atop the Trump Tower that I got to do 10 years ago to be Will Rogers and look down at this magnificent city. So there‘s more to it than God, guns and gays.
And maybe it is—I was raised in a Christian home. Hey, you know what the other G. is?
GATLIN: It‘s goal posts. Those of us in the heartland believe there are goal posts, and the damn things don‘t move, Chris. So maybe that‘s part of it. We‘ve been taught—a friend of mine wrote a song. He said, they are called the Ten Commandments, not the 10 suggestions.
GATLIN: OK? So maybe we show it in a different way, but that presupposes, like I say, that these wonderful people out here don‘t love and serve God in their own way.
But maybe we feel a little more adamantly about it. I think it‘s a crying shame that the secularists through our country are trying to extricate God out of all of our literature, out of everything. Like the old boy said, if it‘s good enough for George Washington to pray in the snows of Valley Forge, and all through it, it‘s good enough for me. I‘m going to start there.
MATTHEWS: What about this attempt by the courts in California to take “under God” out of the Pledge of Allegiance?
GATLIN: By God, I think it‘s wrong.
GATLIN: Well, I mean, that is the most specious bunch of bovine droppings ever. Look at the other things they have done.
GATLIN: Look at the other decisions the 9th Circuit, the 9th federal court....
MATTHEWS: That‘s a great circuit, isn‘t it?
GATLIN: These boys don‘t know whether they are scratching their watch or winding their rear end. You know what I‘m saying?
GATLIN: They‘re a little bit confused about the law.
MATTHEWS: You‘ve never said that before, have you?
GATLIN: No, I said ass last time.
MATTHEWS: Well, what do you think? Is that one of the things—I was talking earlier tonight...
GATLIN: Can you people hold it down? We are doing TV over here—
MATTHEWS: They don‘t understand your importance.
You know, we were talking earlier tonight that the reason that
evangelical people, if you want to—I always want to use the right word -
· got involved in politics was back when the Supreme Court ruled you couldn‘t have prayer in public school. You couldn‘t use the King James Bible. That said to people who never paid much attention to politics, hey, politics matters.
GATLIN: Well, absolutely. It made people go to the polls. It made them become active.
What it did, it stirred up that sleeping giant, because that was so much a part of our upbringing, that to throw it in our face that we can‘t do that anymore, and I would not tell some—that fellow out there that went to that court about his daughter...
GATLIN: If she doesn‘t want to do that, that‘s fine. That‘s fine.
But to take that out of everybody else‘s daily ritual
MATTHEWS: Can you imagine, in this city of New York, as you look around it, with all its wild diversity, that they could agree on what prayer to speak in school?
GATLIN: Well, that may be tough.
MATTHEWS: It would be.
GATLIN: That may be tough.
You know what. I call him God. You can call him Fred if you want to. He doesn‘t really care. So Yahweh, Buddha, just call it something. But to just totally extricate that I think it‘s very fitting that Saks Fifth Avenue and Saint Pat‘s are on the same street. I love that part.
GATLIN: You know what I‘m saying? Is this a great country or what?
MATTHEWS: What does that tell you? Somebody has got to pay the real estate bill.
MATTHEWS: Somebody has to pay the property taxes. It‘s not the church. It‘s Saks.
MATTHEWS: What do you think of New York as a country man?
GATLIN: I love New York.
The eight months that my wife, Janis, and I spent up here doing Will Rogers, these people opened their hearts to us. We still go by and see the doorman at Trump Tower. The little guy that owns the little market across from the stage door at the Palace Theater, I walked in there yesterday to get a package of Cheetos, OK, and a Diet Coke. And he said, oh, you are that fellow. And he hadn‘t seen me in 12 years.
And he sat there. We had a wonderful conversation. Some kids came in who were working at the convention. I wanted to buy them some stuff. So I got them—I said, just run a tab. When is the last time somebody ran a tab at one of those little stop-and-robs on 47th?
MATTHEWS: I‘ll tell you, I got a better one for you. When was the last time they took a check?
GATLIN: I gave him cash money, but he required a picture I.D.
MATTHEWS: OK, we‘re going to come back with Larry Gatlin, as he roams through memory lane in New York City. We will be right back to talk about Larry‘s support for the president and also with our panel here at Herald Square.
You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Republican National Convention on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: That‘s where we are, Herald Square. Do you see that sign? A big crowd here. Well, the crowd has actually diminished. We‘ve still got horses and mounted police out here tonight.
MATTHEWS: Everybody is enjoying their support for our program tonight. Welcome back to the HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Republican National Convention.
We‘re back with our panel, our stalwarts, Andrea Mitchell, J.C. Watts, Jon Meacham, and Ken Duberstein.
It‘s getting late. I haven‘t been to the bathroom in six hours.
MATTHEWS: It‘s wild tonight.
MEACHAM: Now, you could pass the urine—the Santorum urine test.
MATTHEWS: I know. I thought that was one of the remarkable—
besides Rick Santorum referring to that nasty
MITCHELL: That was more than we need to know about you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: I had never heard that test, though, let me tell you.
MEACHAM: It‘s a little more colorful than a litmus test.
MATTHEWS: OK, I want to ask you guys. This is a question I‘m going to ask you. And if you want to pass, pass, but don‘t talk unless you‘re willing to play this game.
Who has given the best speech so far at the two-night Republican National Convention to this date? Who is willing to say?
MATTHEWS: Giuliani, best speech.
WATTS: I think it‘s tough between Arnold and McCain.
MATTHEWS: There was a rule here, Mr. Watts. The rule was...
WATTS: OK. I‘ll go with...
MATTHEWS: Who gave the best speech?
WATTS: I‘ll go with Arnold.
But I will tell you something. Being in the hall last night, McCain was flatlined and his delivery wasn‘t that good. Rudy spoke to in fact the hall. McCain spoke to the TV. But I think that Arnold was by far the best speech tonight.
MATTHEWS: OK, we‘ve got 2-1.
Andrea, you don‘t want to take sides?
MITCHELL: I think Rudy.
MATTHEWS: OK, 2-2.
Let me ask you the question. Has anybody at the Democratic National Convention matched anybody at this convention?
MATTHEWS: Jon Meacham?
MEACHAM: I thought Edwards‘ speech was good.
MATTHEWS: It was good.
MEACHAM: There are about 12 of us now who remember it.
MATTHEWS: I don‘t remember it.
MEACHAM: I thought it was pretty good.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about the importance of the speeches, because speeches are not just words. They convey to me something. A lot of people in our business don‘t believe it. And I believe it immensely. Sentiment, feelings.
I was there at the Berlin Wall when it opened up. And I remember a young German on the wrong side of the wall. And I asked him, what‘s freedom mean to him, and he said to me, talking to you. I couldn‘t do it before now. It really was an end of something bad. And when Schwarzenegger came out there tonight and talked about living under the Soviet boot and then under socialism, it wasn‘t B.S. It was history, personal history.
WATTS: Chris, when I‘ve—we got Arnold‘s speech, as you know, before he delivered it. And when I read that, I said this is a home run.
DUBERSTEIN: No, it‘s a grand slam.
WATTS: Yes, that‘s right. He delivered it in a way that had feeling and passion to it.
And, again, I think people could hear him deliver that and in the end say, me, too.
MATTHEWS: I go back to, what, term of the street, street credibility, street cred. Rudy Giuliani was not giving a speech about 9/11. He was giving a speech of 9/11.
MITCHELL: He was reliving it.
MATTHEWS: His words came from his experience.
WATTS: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s speech came of Arnold Schwarzenegger, of his experience. This was a powerful couple of nights because of personal experience.
DUBERSTEIN: John McCain also.
MATTHEWS: John McCain as well.
DUBERSTEIN: John McCain also personal experience.
DUBERSTEIN: POW. And that gave him even added credibility to say what he said.
And Laura Bush lived with her husband when he was a drunk and when he was not serious about life. And she stuck with him all those years he wasn‘t serious, when he was putting back the six-packs. And when he grew up as a man, she was there to share in the triumph. I think these are all personal history stories. And that‘s why they hit home.
MITCHELL: I also want to say, I thought that Laura Bush‘s speech was a really powerful speech, beautifully delivered, and will have a very big impact with women voters, which is a key—I mean, they‘ve got that gender gap.
MATTHEWS: God help John Kerry.
I want to thank our panel, Andrea Mitchell, J.C. Watts, Jon Meacham, Ken Duberstein.
MATTHEWS: I want to thank Larry Gatlin, too, for joining us and lightening things up. What a great guy.
We also want to thank once again tonight the 34th Street Partnership, who have made it possible for MSNBC to originate here at this incredible place in the middle of the action. Nobody else has ever done this before. They may not do it again.
MATTHEWS: But this has been an incredible experience. We are where it‘s at.
And tomorrow night, a big showstopper. Talk about experience. Vice President Dick Cheney is going to address the convention, along with his wife, Lynne Cheney, and the keynote speaker—well, we can all argue about this one—Democratic Senator Zell Miller of Georgia.
Right now, our coverage of the Republican National Convention continues with “AFTER HOURS.” I love to say it like that. It‘s like in those movies, “AFTER HOURS.” Joe Scarborough and Ron Reagan, Joe and Ron will have a wrap-up of all the day‘s events here in New York, plus your phone calls.
That‘s something I don‘t do. I don‘t want to hear your phone calls.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, see you tomorrow.
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