Guests: Tony Blankley, Karen Hanretty, Will Durst, Mike Barnicle, Ron Silver, Lloyd Grove, Anne Northrop
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: And welcome to MSNBC‘s continuing coverage of the Republican National Convention. It, of course, is called AFTER HOURS.
Night two of the GOP‘s big week. And they brought out the big guns. Of course, we speak of the governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, trying to convince undecideds that the GOP is the party for them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER ®, CALIFORNIA: If you believe that we must be fierce and relentless and terminate terrorism, then you are Republican.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RON REAGAN, HOST: Plus, the First Lady and a surprise appearance from the commander in chief. We‘ve got a lot of fun in store for you tonight with special guests and your phone calls. I‘m Ron Reagan.
SCARBOROUGH: And I‘m Joe Scarborough. So kick back and relax. This is AFTER HOURS, live from New York‘s Herald Square. And playing for us tonight, that great jazz sound.
REAGAN: Oh, you‘re making me say it, the R.A. Koenig Group. Sorry, R.A. Koenig Group. There they are.
SCARBOROUGH: Very well.
REAGAN: Let‘s get straight to our panel. Tonight, back with us, actor Ron Silver, who spoke at the convention last night, Karen Hanretty, a former adviser to Governor Schwarzenegger, and Tony Blankley of “The Washington Times”.
SCARBOROUGH: Tony, what do you think of tonight?
TONY BLANKLEY, “THE WASHINGTON TIMES”: Well, I thought this was the first time in 30 years, that the name Richard Nixon has been prominently mentioned and positively mentioned.
And you know, it tells you something about Schwarzenegger‘s speech. It was so authentic, nobody would - no professional speechwriter would write Nixon‘s name in a complementry anecdote. And the fact that he put it in there, because that‘s what happened to him. He remembered the Nixon-Humphrey debate. It rang true. And was part of, I think, what made Schwarzenegger‘s speech so good.
REAGAN: Do you think that speech wasn‘t vetted? I mean, you‘re right, I don‘t think anybody would want somebody...
BLANKLEY: No, he would never mention that name. I mean, you know, as we all know, it‘s a name that‘s not mentioned in polite company anymore.
BLANKLEY: I think that‘s unfair but nonetheless. And the fact that he just went out and used it, even if it—I‘m sure it was vetted, everything‘s vetted. But the fact is that someone put that in. I guess that Schwarzenegger put it in, probably because it was his story.
BLANKLEY: And I thought that was sort of an interesting moment. It seemed counterintuitive to mention Nixon at a Republican convention.
SCARBOROUGH: And saying listening Richard Nixon changed my life. That is counterintuitive, baby. That‘s...
BLANKLEY: He certainly did.
SCARBOROUGH: Now of course you know Arnold Schwarzenegger very well. You worked with him throughout the recount. You‘re a big player in California Republican politics. How do you think he did tonight?
KAREN HANRETTY, FMR. SCHWARZENEGGER ADVISOR: I thought it was an extremely genuine speech from a politician. You know, regardless of the jokes we make about Richard Nixon, this is a speech from a governor who believes that smaller government really is the best form of government for the people, who‘s looking at hope and opportunity and spreading a message, and I think really appeals to swing voters, not just in the state of California.
But I think that this speech tonight is really going to resonate with a lot of moderate and centrist voters throughout the nation, and I think encourage them to take another look at the Republican party.
REAGAN: Do you think there‘s any chance, though, that the people of a certain age and demographic out there in the audience, when they heard the name Nixon being mentioned went, what?
BLANKLEY: I think of that certain age.
HANRETTY: No, I think the overall theme of this message was so upbeat, so positive. And I think it‘s good to hear that about the Republican party. Once again, this isn‘t the party of supporting big government. This is the party that says, you know what? Less government in our lives gives us more hope and opportunity. It gives us the opportunity to succeed in life.
And you know what? That‘s a message that we need to hear. It‘s a message that the Republican party needs to hear. And certainly I think it‘s a message that resonates very well with centrists and moderate and swing voters.
SCARBOROUGH: And let‘s listen to Arnold with his definition of what a Republican truly is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHWARZENEGGER: If you believe that a person should be treated as an individual, not as a member of an interest group, then you are a Republican.
If you believe that your family knows how to spend your money better than the government does, then you‘re a Republican.
If you believe that our educational system should be held accountable for the progress of our children, then you are a Republican.
If you believe—if you believe that this country, not the United Nations, is best hope for democracy, then you are a Republican.
And ladies and gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen, if you believe that we must be fierce and relentless and terminate terrorism, then you are a Republican.
Now there‘s another way you can tell you‘re a Republican. Your 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 girlie man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Ron, what did you think of that? I was struck, again, basically, if you like puppy dogs, little children...
REAGAN: Pretty much democracy, liberty...
SCARBOROUGH: ...Hagen Daaz ice cream...
SCARBOROUGH: You‘re a Republican.
REAGAN: You‘re a Republican. All good things.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, what do you think? Seriously, obviously, the power of celebrity plays very well in politics. This guy knows how to read a line as well as anybody.
REAGAN: Yes, he does.
SCARBOROUGH: And everybody I‘ve talked to that was inside the convention hall all say the same thing, that when he spoke, the roof just exploded off Madison Square Garden.
REAGAN: Well, yes. I mean, a lot of it is that celebrity. People were waiting and anxious just to see him, because I mean, come on. This is a big movie star. You know, I mean, this is a guy who can‘t walk down the street without being mobbed.
And it was the same in there. It was an interesting speech. I actually expected a little bit more of it. You know, I thought in some ways that it was an ordinary speech. A lot of—well, we just saw it there with Republicans are for all good things, you know. If you‘re for ice cream and puppy dogs, you‘re a Republican.
REAGAN: I mean, you know...
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s why I‘m a Republican.
REAGAN: ...we‘ve heard that before.
RON SILVER, ACTOR: Yes, no, there‘s no question about it. He brought up that old saw—that trite story about escaping Communism and coming to America.
REAGAN: Yes, who hasn‘t done that?
REAGAN: No, that was the best part of the speech. It was very personal.
SCARBOROUGH: Let‘s talk about that. Was that not moving?
SILVER: First of all, I think Tony‘s right. It was true, it was stunning, it was placed in the context and the time. That‘s why Nixon‘s name was mentioned. And it was authentic. And getting any authenticity in politics today is something to be cherished.
And talking about the swing vote, is there any question but the girlie men vote is locked up by now?
SCARBOROUGH: Tony claims...
REAGAN: I‘m sure I‘m an honorary girlie man.
SCARBOROUGH: ...that it‘s easy to become cynical. But sometimes when you have somebody like Arnold Schwarzenegger that goes outside of the mainstream, he really does reach out to new voters.
I remember being shocked, most of us being shocked, I think it was in 1998, when a guy named Ventura won the governorship in Minnesota.
BLANKLEY: You know, I thought the speech was remarkably straightforward. His little litany of if you‘re a Republican, you‘re a Republican, could be a little pamphlet that you would give an immigrant when they come to America.
You know, I came from England. And when you come to America, they give you pamphlets on, you know, how to be a good American. And that sounded like one of those little pamphlets. It was straightforward, it was practical. The average person listening would say, OK, just check off the points.
SILVER: Well, read the Patriot Act. New immigrants now do get a pamphlet.
REAGAN: Yes. If you‘re a Republican.
SILVER: I think that (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
BLANKLEY: Solicitation to voters to join the Republican party. I‘ve been to Republican conventions going back to ‘64 with Goldwater. And I can‘t remember a man standing up there, and so straightforwardly and without any fuss and feathers, simply say join our party. Here are the reasons why you should join our party.
And that kind of straightforwardness I think may be more effective than the more artful speeches that we‘re used to listening to.
SILVER: I also believe Tony‘s right. That gives a lot of people cover to call themselves a Republican. And they can almost use that as a template to say I‘m a Republican because. And they are aligned now because Schwarzenegger Republicans. And it gives them a pass.
REAGAN: We‘ve been talking a lot, everybody has tonight, about the fact that the lineup, you know, is Schwarzenegger and people like that, who are really quite moderate on social issues. I mean, he‘s got no problem with gay marriage. He‘s, you know, an environmentalist, at least by Republican standards.
And you know, his point of view is not matched by the platform. So it seems like the people on the stage, you know, can be moderate, but the platform itself is quite far to the right. I mean, not only no gay marriage, not even civil unions. So when he talks about, you know respectfully disagreeing, as he did, we‘re a big 10 party, we can respectfully disagree, this is also a party that allows for people to show up at the funerals of AIDS patients with signs that God hates fags.
BLANKLEY: In fairness, platforms from both parties are always ignored from the candidate on down. This is a—platforms are put together as a drill between factions within the party and then quickly ignored.
Now it‘s certainly true that Schwarzenegger is more centrist or liberal than the party. But on the other hand, the Democratic party wouldn‘t let Governor Casey even speak at their convention because he was pro-life.
So comparing the two parties, they both tend to maintain some discipline. But comparing the two parties, this is a remarkable open experience.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know...
HANRETTY: Well, and let‘s just set the record straight briefly if we can. Governor Schwarzenegger isn‘t necessarily “OK” with gay marriage. He supports domestic partnerships. And he has said very clearly - he said throughout the recall campaign that he believes that marriage is between a man and a woman. So obviously...
REAGAN: Would he allow the (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?
HANRETTY: And I think...
REAGAN: Because I‘m not—you know his position better than I would.
HANRETTY: Right. Much like Vice President Dick Cheney...
HANRETTY: ...Governor Schwarzenegger is...
REAGAN: But not like George W. Bush.
HANRETTY: ...who also supports domestic partnerships and civil unions.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, and truth be known, not...
REAGAN: But not the platform.
SCARBOROUGH: ...John Kerry - he does not like John Kerry. John Kerry also against the Defensive Marriage Act.
HANRETTY: Knowing what a big tent Republican party is...
SCARBOROUGH: ...which would have allowed states to make the decision on who‘s getting married, who‘s not getting married.
Seriously, though, when you talk about issues, especially gay marriage, civil unions, just one final thought on this. It‘s very interesting. The coasts really are so much more progressive. If that‘s an issue you want to use...
SCARBOROUGH: ...whether it‘s the Upper Westside of Manhattan or whether it‘s Seattle or Los Angeles, I‘m always fascinated by what happens when you go to states like Missouri, middle America, these battleground states. They have a referendum on civil unions or gay marriage, loses overwhelmingly even though everybody tells the pollsters, oh yes, I‘m very progressive when it comes to the issue of gay marriage. And then they go to the voting booth.
SCARBOROUGH: And 70 votes...
SCARBOROUGH: And that‘s actually not just in Missouri. It happens in Washington state.
SCARBOROUGH: It happens all across the country. And I just think that sometimes the chattering classes may be a bit ahead or a bit behind, whichever way you want to put it, from where middle America is on this issue.
HANRETTY: There are close to 11 states...
SCARBOROUGH: Hold that thought.
HANRETTY: ...in the November election, that are going to have an initiative to define if marriage is between a man or a woman. So we‘ll see where middle America is at.
REAGAN: Oh, I‘m quite sure I know. I mean, I don‘t dispute that at all.
Up next, comedian Will Durst joins the AFTER HOURS party. And later, we‘ll be taking your calls. That number is 888-MSNBC-USA. Much more unconventional convention coverage when AFTER HOURS returns, live from Herald Square in New York City.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHWARZENEGGER: What a greeting. Wow. This is like winning an Oscar.
As if I would know.
Speaking of acting, one of my movies was called “True Lies.” And that‘s what the Democrats should have called their convention.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: And we are back. And I‘ll tell you what. We are here AFTER HOURS, live from Herald Square. Midtown Manhattan right around the corner from Madison Square Garden, where the Republicans are hanging out.
Look at this. You‘ve got to love this band here. You‘ve got a great jazz band here at the Republican convention. And in true New York fashion, anti-war. War is not the answer. No war. They‘re artists. And what expect, like Barry Goldwater to be endorsed by the Beatles in 1964. I say no, you want your musicians to be like a little left to center. And you guys, I love this, this anti war stuff, going against the grain, New York City. Very gutsy thing to do. There you go.
BLANKLEY: This is so sexy.
SCARBOROUGH: In fact, I know, I know.
BLANKLEY: Jazz band, we‘ve got comedy.
SCARBOROUGH: This is great.
BLANKLEY: We‘ve got the New York...
SCARBOROUGH: We‘ve got police. I‘m trying to get these police to come over and use billy clubs so it‘s like Chicago 1968. They refused to do it. They are uniters, not dividers. We truly are...
BLANKLEY: Or multipliers.
SCARBOROUGH: ...members of George Bush‘s nation.
Now with me now is political satirist Will Durst. Now this guy refers himself—to himself as the nation‘s ultimate equal opportunity offender. I‘m going to give you a chance to offend tonight. I want to ask you—we asked you what you thought about the Democrats that were hanging around in Boston. What do you think of these Republicans that have come to New York City?
WILL DURST, POLITICAL SATIRIST: I‘m confused by these guys.
DURST: Yes. I‘m wondering where the real Republicans are. You know, the ideologues, the warriors from the red states. These aren‘t red state—these are pink Republicans.
SCARBOROUGH: These are girlie men, aren‘t they? Girlie men Republicans?
DURST: These are girlie men. These are the stunt Republicans.
DURST: I think they trot them out every four years. They‘re like the cicadas, the 17 -- they have a cycle. They‘re quadrennial insects.
DURST: And they come up and they infest our airwaves and go back. And then they go back and hibernate.
SCARBOROUGH: And turn it back over to the real men, right?
SCARBOROUGH: The red blooded, red wine drinking, red meat, cigar smoking...
SCARBOROUGH: ....Republicans that invade countries. That sort of Republican, right?
DURST: That‘s right, yes. The economy, stripping, constitution. Yes, vote for Bush if you want to live. Those kind of Republicans.
SCARBOROUGH: Exactly. Well we certainly saw Arnold Schwarzenegger tonight put on a great performance. The crowd loved him at Madison Square Garden. And I‘m curious, what do you think George W. Bush is going to be doing on Thursday night? Obviously, it‘s kind of hard to follow an act like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Does he have any movie star ending, this George W. Bush?
DURST: You know, he does have the ability, where you do look like you want to have a beer with Bush. Whereas Kerry, yes...
DURST: ...maybe white wine. But you know...
DURST: ...you know he‘s not going to - he‘s not going to drink from the bottle even if he does get a beer.
DURST: But I think Bush has a problem. He‘s got to - you know, he‘s got to come out and tell America what he‘s going to do, in which island nation involving oil he‘s going to invade. So...
SCARBOROUGH: Now does Bush remind you of any movie star, any movie character?
DURST: Well, just the fact that everything that he does is all about the war right now. It doesn‘t matter what anybody asks him. I mean, Mr. President, what about the economy, what about stem cell research? He‘s turned into President Rainman. It‘s Iraq, yes, definitely Iraq. Yes, Saddam. I‘m an excellent war monger. Just ask my dad, you know.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes? What about—speaking about a guy that‘s having a little trouble right now politically, John Kerry. This poor guy, we were again in Boston.
DURST: I know.
SCARBOROUGH: Things going great for him. He goes up to Nantucket. He goes wind surfing or wind sailing or whatever the Ivy Leaguers call it, I don‘t know, I went to the University of Alabama. We just threw a ball up against the wall for entertainment, but it‘s going really badly for John Kerry right now. What‘s wrong with John Kerry? Why is he not connecting with middle America?
DURST: Well, the Swift Boat Veterans—the campaign is highly effective. And it‘s—I expect that by the end of the campaign, we‘re going to see something like some people grind the bones of kittens for driveway gravel. Some of these people are voting for John Kerry. How about you? Swift Boat Veterans for Cats. You know, something like that.
Also, he doesn‘t really respond well to the wishy washy charge.
DURST: You know, he‘s less than inspiring. Yes, I am wishy washy sometimes, not always, once in a while, on occasion, maybe. I have to Teresa about it.
DURST: So he is vulnerable. He‘s got to define himself.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, what do you think about Michael Moore last night?
DURST: I didn‘t understand—I thought he had great chutzpah, just being there.
SCARBOROUGH: Being there, right.
DURST: Yes, but I didn‘t understand what that was—what that was about. He made a gesture to the camera that was on.
DURST: Yes, and I had no idea.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. Well, usually what it means when you stick your middle finger up, what he‘s trying to tell America is—hey, Ron, let‘s go back to you right now.
Will Durst, thanks for being with us, now let‘s go back to our good friend Ron Reagan - Ron?
REAGAN: All righty, Joe. First Lady Laura Bush gave a very different speech tonight from the one delivered by Teresa Heinz Kerry during the Democratic convention. Let‘s take a look at them both.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: People ask me all the time whether George has changed. He‘s a little grayer. And of course he‘s learned and grown as we all have, but he‘s still the same person I met at a backyard barbecue in Midland, Texas and married three months later.
And you‘ve come to know many of the same things that I know about him. He‘ll always tell you what he really thinks. You can count on him, especially in a crisis. His friends don‘t change and neither do his values. He has boundless...
...he has boundless energy and enthusiasm for his job and for life itself. He treats every person he meets with dignity and respect, the same dignity and respect he has for the office he holds.
And he‘s a loving man with a big heart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TERESA HEINZ KERRY, JOHN KERRY‘S WIFE: With John Kerry as president, we can and we will protect our nation‘s security without sacrificing our civil liberties.
In short, John believes that we can and we must lead the world as America unique among nations, always should, by showing the face, not of its fears but of our hopes.
And John is a fighter. He earned his medals the old fashioned way—by putting his life on the line for his country. And no one will defend this nation more vigorously than he will. And he will always, always be first in the line of fire.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: You know, that was Teresa Heinz Kerry from simpler days of last month. We‘re back now with our panel.
Ron Silver and Tony Blankley. With us now Mike Barnicle of “The Boston Herald.” God bless you, Mike Barnicle. Now you know, a month ago, I got knocked around, not by you, I suppose, for saying that Teresa Heinz Kerry probably didn‘t connect with people in Queens, people in Pensacola, people in flyover states.
I don‘t think you necessarily agreed with me. But I‘m curious, what was your thought about Barbara Bush—not Barbara Bush -- Laura Bush tonight?
MIKE BARNICLE, “THE BOSTON HERALD”: I thought it was very nice. I thought it was clearly...
SCARBOROUGH: What does that mean, nice? Is that an insult?
BARNICLE: She‘s his wife. I mean...
BARNICLE: ...she‘s not going to get up there...
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s what women in the South say. Oh, she‘s nice. You know what that means. What does nice mean?
BARNICLE: Doesn‘t she appear nice to you? She appears genuinely nice.
SCARBOROUGH: Genuine‘s a good word.
BARNICLE: She‘s a nice person.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. Did she carry the message? I mean, did she do what she was supposed to do tonight for George W. Bush? Did she soften his image? Did she take America into the living quarters of the White House?
BARNICLE: Look, I think she had such a difficult job tonight following Arnold Schwarzenegger, that you know, if she held half the audience, she did the job. But I mean, following that act, that‘s got to be...
SILVER: It‘s tough. I thought she did a very good job actually. I come from a different culture. You live with somebody for 17 years before you propose. None of this three months at a barbecue.
SCARBOROUGH: Three months.
SILVER: So it‘s a different world. But I thought she did a very nice job.
BLANKLEY: I thought the biggest contrast between her speech and the speech in Boston by the expiring First Lady was that Laura spoke almost exclusively about her husband. And Mrs. Heinz spoke almost exclusively about world events and values and principles.
And so, I don‘t know who‘s more effective. But clearly, the spouse talking about her spouse, Laura did that job. She didn‘t pretend to be a free-standing politician giving her own speech. She was simply—I must say, I find this whole business of spouses coming on stage unusual. Until recently, I know Eleanor Roosevelt spoke at a convention, but most of my recollection through the ‘50‘s, ‘60‘s, ‘70‘s, ‘80‘s was that spouses didn‘t appear. I think your mom sort of waved from the balcony.
REAGAN: That‘s right.
SCARBOROUGH: Exactly. And Ronald Reagan feared...
BLANKLEY: And now we‘re having...
REAGAN: Eight feet above.
BLANKLEY: ...all the wives of the vice presidents, they‘re all getting on stage and giving speeches, bringing the kids in for more than a photo op. I wonder whether that‘s really—I understand what they‘re trying to do.
SILVER: I don‘t think we have the trust. We live in Oprah land right now.
SILVER: This is part of the culture.
BLANKLEY: But it puts them in the situation where you start judging them as politicians. And they‘re not.
BLANKLEY: They‘re family.
BARNICLE: It gets to your question, did she do the job?
BARNICLE: What is the job? What was she supposed to do?
SCARBOROUGH: I think the job for her tonight was to soften up George W. Bush and take Americans into the living quarters of the White House after the days of 9/11, to try to make her husband not look like the fastest guy in the West.
BARNICLE: And she did it.
SCARBOROUGH: I suppose she did it. I agree with you, though, it‘s sort of awkward from time to time to get these family members out there. I thought the Bush twins, you know, I thought that was sort of an awkward moment. And I don‘t know who wrote their material for them, but yes....
BLANKLEY: Soupy Sales.
REAGAN: It was a little odd.
BARNICLE: The interesting thing about the evening, at least to me, this evening, was based upon my daily unemployment trip today, I today took the Staten Island Ferry. And I took it - and I wanted to see through my eyes today what perhaps my grandparents, your grandparents saw when they came into that harbor all those decades ago.
The harbor, the skyline, the Statue of Liberty. But mostly they saw what Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke about tonight. They saw the sense of freedom and liberty. And when you say did he do the job tonight, did Arnold do the job tonight? I think we are all mistaken in talking about did he do the job. Because if you‘re sitting out there in Youngstown, Ohio or Erie, Pennsylvania or wherever else you‘re sitting at in this country, I don‘t think you see politics in him tonight. You see success. You see the phrase, what a great country this is when you see him.
SILVER: You know, Joe, I think there‘s another element to Laura Bush‘s speech that‘s very interesting. There‘s a consummate politician. There was a lot of politics buried in that speech.
REAGAN: There really was.
SILVER: She talked about a man who didn‘t—not only did not mislead the country, not only a man who is kind of flip about things or listen to advisers, a man who is thoughtful, reflective, thought deeply about things, understood the seriousness of everything, took his time in a very thoughtful way to make the decisions that he did, over a period of time.
That‘s a political statement. That‘s not just something...
BARNICLE: And as an actor, could you not feel the part when she spoke about looking down from the balcony...
SILVER: She evoked the image...
SILVER: ...of this lonely man...
SILVER: ...having the world on his shoulders...
SILVER: ...and having to make decisions about young men and women‘s lives all over the world.
SCARBOROUGH: She certainly did.
BLANKLEY: Keep in mind that she has an over 70 percent approval rating and over like a 59 percent amongst Democrats.
BLANKLEY: So this is probably the most admired person who we‘re going to see on TV at either convention.
REAGAN: That is nearly as high as Joe‘s.
SCARBOROUGH: Almost as high as mine. I tell you, another moving moment, though, right before we go to break. I actually was moved, again, George Bush rarely moves me when he‘s on TV, but you could tell he had genuine affection and love for his wife when he was introducing her. I thought it was a very moving moment. That was the real George W. Bush. And quite frankly, he‘s usually too uncomfortable on TV to show the world.
So anyway, stick around. We‘ve got much more on unconventional convention coverage when AFTER HOURS returns. Now taking us to the break are the R.L. Koenig Group. Their CD is called “The Painter.” And you can visit them at rokoenig.com. And the fat cat in the village of New York City. Be right back.
REAGAN: You‘re watching MSNBC‘s coverage of the Republican National convention AFTER HOURS, coming to you live from Herald Square in the heart of New York City. We‘ve got much more for you ahead. But first, let‘s go to the MSNBC news desk for the latest headlines.
BILL FITZGERALD, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Hello, I‘m Bill Fitzgerald with the headlines. Palestinian suicide bombers killed at least 16 people in nearly simultaneous attacks on two buses in southern Israel. The buses blew up seconds apart, about 100 yards from each other in Beersheba. The militant group Hamas is claiming responsibility, saying it was to avenge Israel‘s assassination of two of its leaders earlier this year. It was the first Palestinian suicide attack in Israel in six months.
A female suicide bomber blew her up outside a busy Moscow subway station, killing at least 10 people. An Islamic group is claiming responsibility, but Chechen separatists are suspected just as they are in last week‘s bombing of two Russian jetliners, which killed 90 people.
And a gruesome video posted on an Islamic militant website claims to show 12 workers from Nepal being killed by their Iraqi captors. The men were kidnapped August 19, soon after being sent to Iraq by a Jordanian firm to do construction work. Now back to AFTER HOURS with Joe Scarborough and Ron Reagan.
SCARBOROUGH: And welcome back to Herald Square in New York City. I‘m Joe Scarborough.
The Republicans are enjoying the convention being held at Madison Square Garden this week, getting ready to renominate George W. Bush, hoping he‘ll be re-elected president of the United States. But right now, we‘re talking about partying the Republican way. I‘m not exactly sure what partying the Republican way is.
REAGAN: It involves red meat and cigars.
SCARBOROUGH: Red meat, cigars, I don‘t know. But joining us now to tell us what that means is Lloyd Grove. He of course writes “The Lowdown,” a column in the New York - in New York‘s “The Daily News.” Also with us is former Arnold Schwarzenegger adviser Karen Hanretty. And we‘re expecting to hear from MSNBC‘s David Shuster sometime soon.
So Lloyd, tell us, what‘s been going on tonight?
LLOYD GROVE, “THE DAILY NEWS”: Lobster, martini.
SCARBOROUGH: How sweet.
REAGAN: A lobster martini?
SCARBOROUGH: OK, so now we know...
REAGAN: I‘ve never martinis.
GROVE: I encountered this strange concoction in a martini glass just packed with lobster meat at the Blank and Rome party. It‘s a huge lobbying firm in Washington. And just everybody who was anybody that was there. Cabinet officials, all eating these lobster martinis. And...
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, you eat a lobster martini?
GROVE: Yes, you eat it. You don‘t drink it.
GROVE: It‘s not like pureed lobster, thank God.
REAGAN: Yes, really. Scared me there for a minute.
GROVE: No. It‘s just lobster in a martini glass. It‘s two things that probably don‘t go together. But in any event, outside the party looking very lonely was this guy from ABC named Brian Ross, who basically, and I write about this in my column tomorrow, has been sending pretty young producers in party dresses with Palm size digital cameras into the parties so they could take video of Republicans sponging off corporate America. And they wouldn‘t let him in.
REAGAN: Is there a lot of sponging going on, is there?
GROVE: There‘s a lot of sponging. There‘s a lot of, you know, parasitic behavior. No, not really. I mean, they‘re just people eating free food and drink. What‘s wrong with that?
SCARBOROUGH: Speaking of parasitic behavior, there is of course the governor of state of New York. That was a good segue. I‘m just joking.
REAGAN: Heading for a spongefest.
SCARBOROUGH: Heading for a spongefest or a lobster bisque salad or whatever.
HANRETTY: I just want to know that while he‘s lobster, I was having a hot dog at Nathan‘s. So you know, that‘s real Republican...
REAGAN: A more exciting Republican...
SCARBOROUGH: Talking about the party scene, Arnold Schwarzenegger throwing big parties this week?
HANRETTY: He has certainly some events going on this evening. You know, he‘s a big name here in New York. I think the people of New York love Arnold Schwarzenegger just like they do in California.
And you know, I think that tonight, he set himself up not just as the actor from California, the actor from Hollywood, or the governator as you and so many others like to refer to him. I think he really set himself up as a big player, a political powerhouse on the national stage. And I think that this really opens a new chapter for Arnold Schwarzenegger as a politician.
REAGAN: Now here‘s a question for you. You know, he can‘t really go any farther politically, at least he can‘t go to the White House unless the constitution...
HANRETTY: Well, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) he can go any further.
REAGAN: Yes. Well, I‘m wondering...
GROVE: He can still be a chancellor of Austria, though.
REAGAN: That‘s true.
GROVE: He had...
REAGAN: Has he really hit the top, though? I mean, because a lot of people think we‘re not going to change the constitution for Arnold Schwarzenegger. A lot of very ambitious Republicans who aren‘t going to want that to happen either.
HANRETTY: If hitting the top, and you know, peaking is being merely the governor of California, then, you know, I think that is fairly impressive. I mean, it‘s the largest state in the nation. And certainly he has a fantastic job ahead of him. He‘s done a tremendous job in the nine months that he‘s been in office.
REAGAN: Does he have greater aspirations, though? I mean, is he actually thinking White House?
HANRETTY: Well, I don‘t think it‘s any secret that Arnold Schwarzenegger is very ambitious. He‘s been ambitious throughout his life. And it‘s what has made him such a success, not just in the world of body building, not just in the world of business, but also in the world of politics. He takes on what everyone else thinks is unachievable. He sees a mountain, he climbs it, he conquers it. And I see that politics as no less.
SCARBOROUGH: Let me decode that for you. Yes, he would like to conquer the world if at all possible. If (INAUDIBLE) will pass the amendment.
Lloyd Grove, Republicans obviously have never been able to track the kind of star power that Democrats have. Are you seeing many stars around New York City this week for the Republican convention? Who are the bigger names?
GROVE: Well, many stars live in New York City. You know, Uma Thurman, Gwyneth Paltrow and many others.
SCARBOROUGH: All A-listers?
GROVE: They‘re gone.
SCARBOROUGH: I was going to say no Republicans in that group.
GROVE: No Republicans. Bo Derek, she was “10” years ago. And she‘s about it. And you know, as I said the other night, Ron Silver is really a very successful actor and a big star. And you guys got him. And you should be proud of that.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, yes. And I understand also, I went to David Dryer‘s party the other night. There was a sighting of Holly Hunter, who actually walked past Dryer‘s party and yelled to the people standing in line, you‘re not welcome. Go home. I would say that‘s about how well the Republicans...
GROVE: I didn‘t realize she was like the town greeter for the chamber of commerce of New York.
SCARBOROUGH: I guess she was.
REAGAN: You can‘t, you know...
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s the word I got.
REAGAN: Now speaking of parties and cigars and Arnold Schwarzenegger, I have to tell you, I was at a little soiree the other night. You missed it because your back was feeling bad.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s an old—my back.
REAGAN: Well, it was at the Club Havana or the Havana Club. It uses the old tope of the 6s. 666, whatever.
GROVE: The mark of the beast.
REAGAN: The mark of the beast. Right there.
HANRETTY: Way to go, Ron.
REAGAN: It was one of those cigar kind of places.
REAGAN: And they have the humidor room, you know, where you go in there. And figuring prominently in the row of honor among the humans is Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s drawer. They have these special drawers for celebrities and high rollers. And you have your own key. And you go in there. And that‘s where you keep your cigars, in a special humidor room. And we saw it.
HANRETTY: You have went there, Ron?
REAGAN: I‘m not a cigar guy.
HANRETTY: Not yet.
REAGAN: I‘m just not big on the phallic symbol thing. It‘s just...
GROVE: But you‘ve given me a tip. Maybe I should follow up whether he goes to the top of 666 and takes out one of his cigars.
REAGAN: I think he will. I think he will. He‘s got his drawer there, he might as well use it for God‘s sake.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. On that note, we‘re going to go to break. Actually on Ryan‘s note, Lloyd Grove, as always, thanks for being with us.
And when we come back, we‘re going to be having our own party here out in Herald Square. And you can join in. Just give us a call at 1-888-MSNBC-USA. We‘re going to be taking your calls literally all night. That‘s coming up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY LENO, THE TONIGHT SHOW: 800,000 people leave town because of the Republican convention. I mean, they raised the terror alert in New York to elevated, no New Yorkers leave. A threat by al Qaeda to destroy our financial institutions, New Yorkers stand firm.
Republicans come to town, let‘s get out of here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But I don‘t think that‘s what it is that we‘re going to talk about.
REAGAN: Back in Herald Square, I‘m joined now by Representative Anne Northrop, Republican from Kentucky. She spoke earlier tonight in the convention.
And - well, I missed your speech, I confess. What was your message?
REP. ANNE NORTHRUP ®, KENTUCKY: Well, it was mainly on adoption. My husband and I have six children, two of them are adopted. But I‘ve also been a big advocate for adoption in the Congress, taking the lead on both, oh, making it easier to adopt children internationally and also raising the tax credit for families that adopt.
It‘s been wonderful for our family. And something that‘s, you know, sort of uniquely American. There are a lot of countries where there isn‘t a history of adoption being something so often done by so many families.
REAGAN: We talk a lot about women in both parties efforts to reach women, the soccer moms, and this mom or that mom.
REAGAN: What are the Republicans doing specifically, do you think? And are they doing it well enough to reach out to all sorts of women?
NORTHRUP: Well, you know, the polls show today that, of course, our party is a few points behind on the overall women‘s vote. But it‘s interesting, married women support George Bush by a much larger margin. Unmarried women support John Kerry by a much larger margin.
And I think that a lot of the issues that we‘re talking about, education and healthcare, the cost of health insurance, are issues that women are concerned about. And it‘s important that our party reach out to them.
And that‘s probably why tonight, the First Lady‘s speech was so important, because obviously, she is the woman that‘s been the role model in the White House for women. She certainly articulates what it‘s like to advise the president. You know a lot about that yourself.
NORTHRUP: And saw it first hand. And so I think certainly Laura Bush serves as an example and an inspiration.
REAGAN: The point she was making, I think, was that the key issue for most women is who is going to protect my children from terrorists? Is that really what‘s uppermost in most women‘s mind right now?
NORTHRUP: Well, I do think that the overriding issue in this election is terrorism, and who best can lead this country through the war on terrorism. And in a sense, pass on to the next generation what was passed on to us. A safe world.
And you know, but I think what she really did tonight is say, if you want to know more about my husband, if you saw me in the grocery store and wanted to know who my husband is, and what guides him, let me tell you what it looks like from my perspective. I think people really do want to know that. They want to know that about John Kerry. And they want to know that about George Bush.
REAGAN: Well, it was far too brief here, but Anne Northrup, thank you very much for joining us. And now let‘s go back to the panel and Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Patrick Buchanan, you‘ve been following conventions for years. I want to ask you, how have the Republicans been fairing the first two nights. Well, McCain and Giuliani last night, obviously Schwarzenegger, the big speaker tonight. Are they delivering the message?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think they really are.
SCARBOROUGH: What George W. Bush needs?
BUCHANAN: I think they really are, Joe. I think there is - the problem—I understand that the—I think the mayor‘s message last night was one of the most impressive I‘ve ever seen him deliver. I think he really did a tremendous job for the president. I think he skewered Kerry. And he really put the president - embedded him in the 9/11 event. But I understand it was not on the national networks. Is that true?
SILVER: Yes, right. They didn‘t carry it last night.
BUCHANAN: I mean, I just was stunned when I heard that tonight, that he was not on those networks because I think that would have taken the president up a couple of points in and of itself. It made the case, as I‘ve rarely seen it made. It did a tremendous job for Rudy Giuliani. And of course, with McCain, what better foil can you have than John McCain, POW, and Karl Rove handing out those tickets to Michael Moore to get him up the next section, Joe, where he represents the Democratic party at the Republican convention.
So they had a great night. And of course, the Arnold is -- everybody‘s waiting, is he going to do his girlie man routine. And he went into that. And it was a very—I thought it was a good speech. I think they‘ve got an almost flawless convention.
SCARBOROUGH: And you know, here we are. We‘re watching this message that the Republicans want to get out. And I‘ve been noticing all day, on our network and I‘m sure it‘s happening on all the cable networks, I‘ve been seeing one swift boat ad after another.
SCARBOROUGH: This is - I tell you what, this is a hell of a one-two punch that John Kerry is absorbing this week.
BUCHANAN: Have you seen the new ones?
SCARBOROUGH: No, I haven‘t yet.
BUCHANAN: Oh, well, I got them over the - you know, I‘ve seen them written up.
BUCHANAN: And they are really potent because they deal with the medals and things. Then they‘ve got him throwing the medals over the fence. It is very, very powerful. It‘s almost as powerful as that second ad with the POWs.
BARNICLE: Let me ask both of you guys, who have been on the ballot, tomorrow John Kerry is scheduled to try and verbally seal his campaign into the verbal artillery that‘s been directed at him. He‘s got a major speech scheduled on Iraq in Tennessee before, I would assume, a largely Republican audience. Why would he be doing it tomorrow? What would be the benefit tomorrow?
BUCHANAN: He scheduled it a while ago for the middle of the Republican convention as a dramatic event after his—after he did the Boston convention with the swift boat and everything. That was scheduled, Mike, before all this swift boat stuff happened.
They‘re running these ads in Nashville. The swift boat ads. And I think he‘s got a real problem tomorrow being down there because I think he could get some hostility from the vets, some people turning their faces around and things like that.
And as you know, that would be the story, if it happens. And the press are going to be looking for it.
SILVER: You know, he has another problem with regard to this that I have yet to see an answer for. In 19 -- he voted against the first Gulf War. And classically, that—all the criteria for voting for war were there. 109 nation coalition. You had the U.N. endorse it, one country transgressed, sovereign borders of another U.N. member. He was only one of 10 people who voted against that war.
Now if he could not bring himself to vote for that war, where Gore did, what war would he vote for? What war is a just war?
SILVER: I haven‘t seen an answer to that.
SCARBOROUGH: Mike Barnicle, we‘ve got to go. I want to get back to that afterwards. I think it‘s a fascinating question. And I think it‘s high stakes poler by John Kerry.
And we‘ll talk about that when we come back, as well as getting your phone calls. The number is 1-888-MSNBC-USA. We‘re going to be right back AFTER HOURS in a second.
REAGAN: Welcome back to AFTER HOURS. Let‘s go straight to the phones. Our first caller is Rashad from Chicago. Rashad, how are you?
CALLER: I just want to say I‘m a big fan of Ron Reagan and Pat Buchanan. And I just wanted to say that I think the comments Arnold Schwarzenegger made about don‘t be an economic girlie man, I really think that those comments are insulting and demeaning to the American worker, because I know if I were from West Virginia, Ohio, or Pennsylvania, and I just lost my job to a steel mill that went to Europe or China or wherever, and I‘m looking to the Republicans for solutions to answers, what they‘re going to do for the economy and this guy tells me, don‘t be an economic girly man—I just think the comment, I‘m sorry to say, but I think it spits in the face of a lot of Americans.
And I think it just goes at the whole convention, a lot of empty rhetoric and nothing with any substance to it.
REAGAN: The girlie man line, it‘s funny, of course. It gets a laugh, but Rashad has a point. If you‘ve lost a job...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, yes.
REAGAN: ...you lost your health insurance and you‘re complaining about it. And be called a girlie man for that is a little insulting.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘ve got to tell you I see Buchanan and Barnicle laughing (UNINTELLIGIBLE) table over there. Yes, actually, I agree with you. But it‘s one of these political things where you know, factually you‘re right.
BUCHANAN: Out in Barnicle‘s bar, out in Queens, where he was, they were on the floor laughing.
SCARBOROUGH: Probably a very nice fellow. The guy has got to lighten up here. Lighten up.
Buchanan, do you agree?
BUCHANN: Yes, I do. I mean, everybody laughed. Everybody knows he embarrassed himself with that comment. So instead of backing away, he goes and uses it again. And I think that‘s the right way to handle it.
So - but there are problems—you talk about problems of unemployment in Ohio. I can understand why folks are a little nervous about that, but...
BUCHANAN: ...still was...
REAGAN: You don‘t want to take it too seriously, or anything, but....
SCARBOROUGH: And certainly, I don‘t think he was making light of people that are having trouble with health insurance problems.
REAGAN: No, no.
SCARBOROUGH: I want to go back, though, to you, Mike Barnicle, talking about John Kerry coming out tomorrow. And we‘re hearing a couple of things that are happening tonight. Joe Lockhart apparently is betting involved in the Kerry complain. They‘re trying to get that Bill Clinton rapid response team together.
I understand tomorrow, this guy, John Kerry, he‘s going to be wading into a group of vets talking about the swift boat controversy, talking about Iraq. And I‘ve just got to ask both of you guys. You brought it up before, why is he doing this in the middle of the convention? I think it‘s a mistake because obviously, his opponent has the world stage. Everything is so calculated. We know what‘s going to happen here tomorrow. We have no idea what‘s going to happen in Tennessee. Mike?
BARNICLE: Well, my understanding is that an element of the speech tomorrow is going to be a look at the strategy post-Saddam Iraq. The occupation of Iraq and what‘s happening to the United States military as a result of our presence in Iraq.
With the stress on the Army, with the stress on the Marine Corps, with the occupation of Fallujah and Najaf and Anbar Province, and being under the thumb, so to speak, of the new Iraqi provisional government and what‘s that doing to the American military.
I don‘t have any specifics. I understand that‘s going to be an element, a thrust of the speech. It gets back to the point, though, that Pat raised. This clearly was an accepted invitation prior to the swift boat controversy. He can‘t back out of it.
BUCHANAN: All right, now here‘s what.
SCARBOROUGH: Pat, we‘ve got to go but we‘re going to get back to you on the other side of the hour. I want to thank all of you for being with us tonight. Stick around. We‘ll be back in an hour.
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