Guest: Rachel Campos
JOE SCARBOROUGH, CO-HOST: And welcome back to the AFTER HOURS party, part of MSNBC‘s continuing coverage of the Republican National. I‘m Joe Scarborough.
RON REAGAN, CO-HOST: I‘m Ron Reagan. We‘ve got another great hour coming up, including celebrity interviews—oh, boy—and more of your phone calls. And of course, tonight‘s after hours band, the Arie Hoenig (ph) Group. Here they are.
SCARBOROUGH: I tell you what, you love them as a kid, you trust them as a mother. Those guys are great. Here‘s a Kool-Aid commercial. A little Kool-Aid commercial.
Let‘s—let‘s talk about tomorrow, Pat Buchanan. Obviously, we‘ve been talking about what‘s been going on tonight. All of this is framed, though, obviously, in a bigger national campaign.
John Kerry trying to get traction. Some things are happening right now in that campaign. We understand that Senator Kerry is not very happy with how things have been handled over the past several weeks since the Democratic convention.
What would you advise him to do tomorrow when he gives that speech?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think now, given what has happened, that every veteran down there seeing these swift boat ads, there are demands. Four demands from the swift boat vets. They say we will give up the ads if you apologize for what you said, if you will explain this, what this conflict is.
I think Kerry and Lockhart and them now are figuring out how they address that. That‘s going to be the news coming out of there.
And frankly, what he should have done, as I said—I think we talked here, I think back in February, he should have got up and said, “Look, I used some terrible rhetoric. I was against the war. I was a bitter young man. I went too far. I do believe the war was a mistake then.”
Is it too late for him to do it? I think he may have to do something like that, because I do believe the hemorrhaging has been terrible and in this tight election you can‘t do one of those, you know, Clinton drops of 18 points in New Hampshire where you come back later. You need time in a presidential campaign.
So I think he‘s going to address it. And my guess would be whatever he says there will be the news out of that speech unless he really goes far. If he comes out and says we need six months and out of Iraq, then you can trump it with a much higher thing, but that‘s a real gamble, too.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, the thing is—I‘m sorry. When I was in Congress and I‘d be sitting around talking to other congressmen and congresswomen, we‘d all get together and they would be talking about strategy, and we should do this and we should do that.
And I always started very simply, and that was, what‘s the headline going to be tomorrow night after we finish doing what we‘re going to do? Well, you know, we‘re all sitting here tonight.
I can already tell you what the headlines are going to be tomorrow night. You‘re going to have a headline if he goes ahead and delivers this speech; you‘re going to have Kerry booed by vets. Or Kerry facing acrimonious crowd. Or there‘s going to be some negative story about John Kerry, because that‘s the way the media likes playing it. If three vets turn their back, they‘ll have it.
On the other side of the page you‘re going to see Republicans holding hands, hugging each other, coming together for George W. Bush. That‘s why I think timing of this is terrible.
MIKE BARNICLE, “THE BOSTON HERALD”: Aren‘t you also going to have I mean, I mean, given the fact that Senator Kerry will be giving the speech during the day, it will probably be covered on cable.
You have the vice president of the United States speaking to a nationally televised audience tomorrow evening. I would think that they would insert something in the vice president‘s speech in response to the senator‘s speech earlier in the day.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. I didn‘t much think (ph). And he‘s so compromised, because he‘s changed his view on this war so many times. I say he‘s compromised. He believes in nuance. And you can even—a Kerry supporter can say it‘s about nuance, but it sure makes easy to make fun of him for straight shooters like George Bush, Dick Cheney, Sam Graitch (ph).
He‘s get—I‘m saying that‘s how they are perceived by Americans when it comes to this war, a lot of Americans. So if he makes another move, a shift this way or that way they can make fun of him again.
REAGAN: Is there a way that he can turn this into a win? I know this thing was scheduled earlier and maybe that—the timing is a little odd now, but if he stands up in front of a group of veterans who are at least somewhat hostile to him and actually takes questions from them and then goes head on.
BUCHANAN: You‘re talking. And that‘s what you do. You go in there and if you get the booing, you look at it, and then you turn around spontaneously and say, “I understand why you fellows are booing at me. I said some things when I came back that I should not have said. I had turned against the war. I believed it was wrong for the country.”
A Daniel in the lion‘s den approach, it‘s risky but if I were advising him I would say, “Look, sir, we are hemorrhaging. We are bleeding to death. And if we don‘t get this thing behind us, we‘re going to have a real problem winning this election. So if we take something pretty bold,”
I would not be surprised to see him do something bold down there. And what else. If you go in and give a regular speech and get booed at the vets‘ convention, what‘s that?
BARNICLE: The fact of the matter is, when John Kerry appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971, he was a young man. He was just returned from war. He had just participated in a war where he saw several of his closest friends get killed for a tissue of lies issued by politicians in Washington, D.C. So there is anger and resentment...
SCARBOROUGH: Like Pat Buchanan?
BARNICLE: There was anger and resentment.
SCARBOROUGH: You‘re hitting close to home.
BUCHANAN: The point is...
SCARBOROUGH: You‘re hitting close. Let‘s go to the tape.
BUCHANAN: We‘ll go to the tape. OK, we went into that White House in 1969, 535,000 guys were over there, put there by Kennedy and Johnson. And we tried to bring them out with honor, and we were bedeviled every step of the way.
And that‘s why a lot of us are very bitter about what Kerry did. We had 535,000 guys in there.
REAGAN: But Pat...
BUCHANAN: When Kerry was in Vietnam, but when he gave that speech we had half that number and they were coming home.
RON SILVER, ACTOR: How many troops were still there in 1972 when Nixon ran for reelection: 25,000. About 20-25. How many names went up on the wall from January 20, 1969?
BUCHANAN: We weren‘t elected to cut and run. McGovern ran on that in 1972, and we won 49 states.
SCARBOROUGH: Gentlemen, you know what? I think what we‘re doing, I love...
SCARBOROUGH: And you know what? Actually, what I‘m really—what I‘m really looking forward to is us talking about the Jets and the Colts 1969. I thought that was great there, too.
But before we do that, I think we may be stumbling onto something here. I think John Kerry could actually possibly be using this speech tomorrow to go down there and apologize for what he said in ‘71.
And he had a chance. Tim Russert gave him a chance back in April on “MEET THE PRESS.” He said, “Do you regret calling these men war criminals in effect?”
And you know what? Of course—of course John Kerry regrets calling them war criminals. But John Kerry was—was a little careful that day.
SILVER: But he didn‘t call them war criminals.
SCARBOROUGH: You know what, though? You know, that‘s easy for you to say, but if you‘re a vet and you‘re watching him quote the Winter Soldiers report in Detroit, a lot of that, which has been debunked, you think that he‘s insulting you.
John Kerry had a chance, though—Tim Russert had gave it to him—to say, “You know what? I was young. I made a mistake. I‘m sorry.” Instead he said, “What I said then...”
SCARBOROUGH: “... was true.” He said it was true.
REAGAN: But it was.
SCARBOROUGH: It was not true. He lied.
REAGAN: The Phoenix program.
SCARBOROUGH: No, it was not true. No, it was not true.
REAGAN: What was My Lai? What was My Lai?
SCARBOROUGH: Did he talk about My Lai? Did he talk—OK, I‘ll tell you what. Tell me something. Hold on a second. Do you want to ask that question again?
SCARBOROUGH: I want to know. Give me the name of a soldier that cut off an ear of a Vietnamese?
REAGAN: Well, I don‘t know about the ear cutting.
SCARBOROUGH: Give me a name. Give me a name.
REAGAN: Lieutenant Calley. Lieutenant William Calley. He shot children. He murdered babies.
REAGAN: He committed atrocities.
SCARBOROUGH: So American soldiers are baby killers.
REAGAN: Lieutenant William Calley was. His unit was. They slaughtered a village full of innocent people.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, that‘s...
REAGAN: Bob Kerrey has admitted that he participated in atrocities.
SCARBOROUGH: Are you saying Bob Kerrey is a baby killer?
REAGAN: I‘m telling you what he said.
SCARBOROUGH: So is he a baby killer? Is he a war criminal?
REAGAN: Ask him. Ask him. I‘m telling you what he said.
SCARBOROUGH: Bob Kerrey is not a war criminal.
REAGAN: John Kerry did not lie when he said atrocities were being committed over there. You know that.
SCARBOROUGH: John Kerry accused these people of being war criminals, and I‘ll tell you what, that is deeply offensive.
SILVER: Are they war criminals?
REAGAN: I didn‘t hear that part.
BUCHANAN: He did, in the later part of it, he said, he said, “Look, we‘re ashamed of the criminal things we did over there.” He said, “We hate it.” This is not in the Winter Soldier thing. It‘s further on in that statement.
And he should get—look, if I were him, I‘d get up and at least get that out of there and admit we—“I said things I should not have said.” If he doesn‘t they‘re going to beat him to death with it.
SCARBOROUGH: Ron Reagan and I, we absolutely love each other, but I think this is—this is a bigger point. You guys are—you‘re accusing Pat Buchanan of what was that, a web of lies or something. You guys are going at it. We were—I was playing t-ball when guys were getting shot at and killed in Vietnam.
And yet this issue divides America. And it divides America because, even though I was a young kid, when I look at that testimony, that just makes me viscerally angry. There‘s very few things in American politics that does, but I look at that and say—and I say how dare somebody say that.
Now, I don‘t hold it against John Kerry. I say John Kerry is an American hero for what he did in Vietnam. Ha a lot of guts a lot of people in this administration did not have, didn‘t go to war. They used their status in society to stay out of war.
At the same time, what he said in ‘71 deeply, deeply offends me. And I just want him to say, “I‘m sorry I said it.”
REAGAN: Did what Lieutenant William Calley did deeply offend you, too?
SCARBOROUGH: He‘s not running for president of the United States.
REAGAN: But did what he did offend you?
SCARBOROUGH: See, here‘s the thing, though; it‘s not about him. It‘s not about the fact that very bad things happened in Vietnam. It‘s not about the fact that very bad things happened in World War II. It‘s not about the fact that Bob Kerrey is still haunted by the experience he had in Vietnam, a great man, a war hero.
This is about John Kerry. I just think a lot of Americans—Mike Barnicle, those people in Queens, do they want him to apologize or not?
BARNICLE: I don‘t think they want him to apologize.
BARNICLE: I think that, like a further explanation of that speech today, because the interesting aspect of it, at least to me, culturally is, we, the collective we on cable nation, have made this an issue.
SCARBOROUGH: You know what? I don‘t believe that.
I don‘t believe that for a second. The swift boat people care about this issue.
BUCHANAN: What we did to the swift boats—let me say this.
BARNICLE: Where did the swift boat issue come from in they had a $200,000 buy, Joe.
BUCHANAN: We put it on the air. We did put it on the air. There‘s no doubt about it, but I‘ll tell you this.
SILVER: John O‘Neill defended (ph) Kerry in ‘71 on the Dick Cavitt show. This is...
BUCHANAN: Well, he came back. Mike is right.
BARNICLE: But over the past three weeks, if you collected the tapes from this program and other programs on cable, I‘d say, upwards of 75 percent of the conversations have been about the swift boats.
BUCHANAN: But you know, the whole fact that you and I are arguing about it. We‘re arguing about it. People are intoxicated by it. Our ratings are going up every time you bring it up. People want to hear about it.
SCARBOROUGH: But you know what else, though, Mike Barnicle? Before we played the commercial, and I think we were the first show that played the commercial, before we played that commercial I think the book was No. 1 on Amazon.com.
BARNICLE: Yes, yes.
SCARBOROUGH: So cable television didn‘t create this. It was not invented by new media.
BARNICLE: OK. But it gets to, Joe, I think the point, that we paid a horrific price in Vietnam, a price that we‘re still paying collectively as a culture and as a nation. It‘s still with us, all these years later.
So does John Kerry play into that tomorrow and say something as dangerous, potentially, as “I‘m the only guy running for president who‘s ever been shot at.”
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s radioactive because we‘ve got people around here that have been civil on a wide range of issues. I have great respect for all of you, but this issue remains radioactive. And I can tell you, in any campaign...
SILVER: Why? Why?
SCARBOROUGH: ... you put it behind you. Why do you say—Because...
REAGAN: You‘re very emotional there and clearly it was an honest emotion, but we were very both very young at the time. We weren‘t going to go over and fight in Vietnam. Why is it so...
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s—You know what? I remember 1980, your father Ronald Reagan, he‘s campaigning and Ronald Reagan said—you know, we were making fun of Arnold Schwarzenegger tonight for talking about Richard Nixon being a defining moment in his life. I remember in the campaign, later in the campaign Ronald Reagan saying in 1980 that Vietnam was an honorable war.
BUCHANAN: Noble cause.
SCARBOROUGH: A noble cause. Republicans went crazy. They were—they weren‘t offended; they were scared. They‘re like, “Oh, my God, this guy is going to blow it. We‘re going the lose the White House again.”
I can just tell you that if I can speak for flyover space for a second, you know, middle America.
BARNICLE: Scarborough country.
SCARBOROUGH: There are a lot of us that still believe that war protesters on college campuses in the 1960‘s, in the streets in the 1960‘s, betrayed American troops that were in Vietnam.
And, of course, that‘s not just a bunch of yahoos. You can talk to North Vietnamese generals who told PBS documentarians after the war, we knew we couldn‘t win in the jungles of Vietnam, because we were winning in the streets of America.
A lot of people still deeply offended by that.
BUCHANAN: Well, you know, Joe...
SILVER: And it cuts. It cuts right down the middle. It really does.
BUCHANAN: You know—you know, Nixon said in that ‘69 speech in one of the ones I worked on, that North Vietnam cannot defeat the United States of America. Only Americans can do that.
And the key problem here, Mike, I think is, 58,000 guys died. Their names are up on that wall. And everything they fought for was lost, and you had a holocaust in Cambodia and this thing happened in South Vietnam.
Well, these guys didn‘t lose a battle. Now, who lost that war? Some people say, well, it‘s Nixon‘s war or it‘s Johnson‘s war but nobody in politics was held to account for those losses. And we all pushed it under a rug and we moved on, but it‘s inside here. Everybody in our generation.
SCARBOROUGH: And you know what? We spit on the vets when they came home.
BARNICLE: You have—you have the horrific memory and the reality now of picking up Michael Veshlaw‘s (ph) book and reading the narrative of the tapes of Lincoln Johnson calling Dick Russell in 1965, indicating he knew that they could not win in Vietnam. He knew they could not win.
BUCHANAN: All right. Why does Kerry call it...
SCARBOROUGH: We‘re going to have to continue this conversation. I think we can all agree, the politicians behaved shamefully throughout much of it.
We‘ll be right back when “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”—I say, not “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY,” when AFTER HOURS continues talking about—is this “Time and Again”? Is this “Time and Again” or “The Way It Was”? Whatever it is, we‘re live at Herald Square in New York City at the Republican convention. We‘ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY LENO, HOST, NBC‘S “THE TONIGHT SHOW”: Did you see the picture in the paper today of John Kerry wind surfing? Did you see that? He‘s at his home in Nantucket this week, doing his favorite thing, wind surfing. I mean, even his hobby depends on which way the wind blows.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Geez. Ouch!
REAGAN: We‘re back at Herald Square for our after hours coverage of the Republican National Convention tonight. We have the Airy—the Arie, sorry, the Ari Hoenig (ph) Group playing for us.
And you know, Joe, they‘re pretty good. But there was one performance, an RNC performance that was vastly superior to that. And I—Well, it was yours, Joe, and we‘re going to have a look at it right now. Let‘s roll that clip.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘m actually—I‘m actually firing my staff.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: I still believe in a police called America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REAGAN: The hair cut passed the phase (ph). And you can‘t rock in Dockers.
SCARBOROUGH: It was actually—It was actually four years ago. I was a young man then, but I am going to be suing somebody. You know what? You guys have three seconds to take that off the screen.
Let‘s talk about Vietnam again.
SILVER: Look at your head. It‘s like Jerry Lewis.
SCARBOROUGH: It is?
SILVER: It‘s like Elvis Costello. That hair cut, it‘s ‘40s—it‘s Elvis Costello.
SCARBOROUGH: I just want to strike an Elvis Costello pose.
REAGAN: A terrible thing we did to you. That‘s terrible.
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s absolutely awful. Look at that! Get it off the screen!
OK, that‘s fine, I‘m walking off the screen.
BARNICLE: Let‘s talk about that.
SCARBOROUGH: Actually, let‘s go ahead and talk, Mike Barnicle, about—I don‘t know, John Kerry. Let‘s go back to John Kerry.
BARNICLE: Do you figure that wind surfing is big in Youngstown, Ohio?
SCARBOROUGH: I was going to ask that. I was going to actually ask you that. How in the world does John Kerry spend an off day—again, when America‘s probably “I wonder what the other guy‘s doing?” There he is, wind surfing.
BARNICLE: Who picked out his outfit?
BARNICLE: Unless that‘s Lake Erie, that‘s a mistake.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, seriously, we joke about it, but, you know, I would say that‘s one thing...
SILVER: What is he wearing on his butt?
BUCHANAN: What is he doing?
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, man. Oh, no.
BARNICLE: This is—plus, it‘s not going anywhere.
At, like, Big Sur or something. Because it...
BARNICLE: Whatever happened to running as an exercise? Weight lifting.
Commander. Come back to us.
SCARBOROUGH: You know—Captain, oh, my Captain.
Mike, you know, we joke about—we joke about this stuff, and we‘re laughing. But that‘s really not a disciplined campaign that they are running, where every image—and I know people hate shallow campaigns. But every image counts in a presidential campaign.
Who would have believed the killer ad from Jimmy Carter in ‘70 -- 1980 would have hurt—would have hurt Jimmy Carter, or of course, a lot of these other images.
BARNICLE: Well, what about the theory, and the three of you having been so actively involved in politics all of your lives, and Ron and I just participants with the clicker, watching politics on TV.
It appears to me that this might be a campaign that made the mistaken assumption that they could sit on a lead if there was one minute left in the fourth quarter, when they hadn‘t even recognized the fact that the game had just begun.
BUCHANAN: You know, but they do know the lesson of the Dukakis campaign. It‘s one of the most famous in American politics, where he walked out of Atlanta 18 up and three weeks later Bush has his convention. And by September, Labor Day, he‘s seven down. Twenty-five point turnaround.
They‘ve all been saying, “It‘s not going to happen to us,” but it did. They‘re knocked off by these swift boat ads. It‘s not—It‘s not the Bush campaign that‘s done it. It‘s these other ads coming from the side, you know, that clipped him basically behind the line of scrimmage.
REAGAN: The question arises, too, is it Kerry or the people around Kerry? We were talking to Doug Brinkley the other night, who wrote the “Tour of Duty” book about Kerry and knows as much about that stuff as anybody I know.
And he said that when the first swift boat thing came out that Kerry‘s reaction was, that he wanted to hit them back immediately, but the people around him said, “No. Wait. Wait. Don‘t do it. You‘ll just legitimize it somehow.”
But Kerry‘s instinct was...
BUCHANAN: Mike—Mike‘s point is right. I mean, once it hit, we did take it every single night. I mean, it was like the Dean scream almost. Everybody is picking it up, talking about it.
And, you know, I don‘t know that that was the wrong advice. Maybe he thought it would go away, and if it had gone away it would have been the right thing to do.
BUCHANAN: You never know.
SILVER: Why are we talking about Vietnam anyway? John Kerry wanted to talk about Vietnam. John Kerry made it a central piece of his leadership abilities.
BUCHANAN: And that‘s what ticked those guys off.
SILVER: That‘s it. That‘s what did it.
SCARBOROUGH: Let‘s go back a little bit here.
REAGAN: George W. Bush had fought in Vietnam, believe me, we‘d be seeing a lot of photos of him in—over there, too.
SILVER: Bob Dole fought in World War II. We didn‘t hear a lot about it. George Herbert Walker Bush...
REAGAN: Come on. We heard about it.
SILVER: Not that much. Al Gore fought in Vietnam; we didn‘t hear nothing about it.
REAGAN: He wants to talk about his life, though. I mean, come on.
SILVER: He wants to talk about his life? Forget about the 4 ½ months in Vietnam. How about 20 years...
REAGAN: He was a hero. He was decorated.
SCARBOROUGH: We talk generally about the swift boat ads, and a lot of people are trying to figure out where it‘s coming from. It‘s important to put perspective on this thing.
The swift boat guys, whoever was behind it, whether it was just them, the White House, whomever, they put it out, it‘s out there for about a week, a week and a half before the press really picks up on it, figures it out. And then they start dissecting it.
Once they start dissecting, the tough part, what medals did he earn? What medals did he lie about? What medals did he exaggerate about?
At that point, then they move the story. Then they go to the 1971 testimony, which is, congressional testimony, a matter of record. Now, everybody is scrambling, and they‘re chasing that story. That‘s the next phase.
I‘ve got a feeling the second that we all catch up to that 1971 story, now they‘re going to move on after the convention to something else, probably the prisoner of wars. The sort of thing that I get so emotional about. Obviously, also because I served in Congress for a district where there were a lot of POW‘s. There were a lot of Vietnam vets.
I just think, again, I‘m not going to say where there‘s smoke there‘s fire, but somebody a lot smarter than John O‘Neill and a couple of swift boat vets figured out how to lay this trap out for John Kerry.
SILVER: Oh, indeed.
SCARBOROUGH: And he‘s not responded to it well.
BARNICLE: In your timeline, Joe, I mean, I just have to believe that the story would have been short stopped, if in the middle of that timeline that you just laid out, when the initial swift boat stories began, if John Kerry himself had stood up and basically said, “Who are these people? Who are these people? I fought in Vietnam; who are they?”
SCARBOROUGH: You know, I had staff for me, time and time again, saying—we‘ve got to go to a break. But time and time again, they‘d always say, “you can‘t do that. Be quiet. Lay back.”
And you know what I‘d tell them? “Go screw yourself. They‘re not talking about your integrity. They‘re not calling you a liar. They‘re not attacking you.”
And that‘s the thing is, that‘s what Americans want. If I fight in Vietnam and I‘m a hero like I think John Kerry was a hero, nobody would be able to stop me from going out and defending myself.
And if he goes—and John Kerry, if you‘re listening tonight, buddy, if you go to Nashville tomorrow, go out in the audience, wade into them and say, “How dare you question my service to the United States of America? Who the hell are you to question my integrity? Were you there? If you‘re not, sit down and shut up. Next question, please.”
REAGAN: Mike Barnicle, thanks for joining us again tonight. And we‘ll be taking more of your phone calls tonight. Give us a call at 1-888-MSNBC-USA. Much more of MSNBC‘s continuing coverage from the Republican National Convention when AFTER HOURS returns.
SCARBOROUGH: You‘re watching MSNBC‘s coverage of the Republican National Convention AFTER HOURS. Of course, we‘re coming to you live from Herald Square in the heart of New York City all week. We‘ve got a lot more ahead but first, let‘s go to the MSNBC news desk and we‘re going to get the latest headlines.
BILL FITZGERALD, ANCHOR: Hello, I‘m Bill Fitzgerald with the headlines.
Florida is bracing for another hurricane. Forecasters say Hurricane Frances could hit the U.S. mainland this weekend somewhere between south Florida and the Carolinas. Right now Frances is a Category Four hurricane with sustained winds of 140 miles per hour. It‘s centered north of Puerto Rico and is threatening the Bahamas.
Former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic has begun his defense against war crimes charges, a little over two years after his trial opened in the Netherlands. Milosevic, who‘s defending himself, claims the Serbs he led were the victims, not the aggressors, in wars that tore Yugoslavia apart.
And a preliminary hearing for PFC Lynndie England has ended at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. It lasted seven days. The military judge said she‘ll submit a report within a week recommending whether England should face a court martial on charges of abusing Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib.
Now back to AFTER HOURS with Joe Scarborough and Ron Reagan.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, welcome back to AFTER HOURS. I‘m Joe Scarborough, along with Ron Reagan.
Now of course, earlier this evening, President George W. Bush made a surprise appearance tonight via satellite to introduce his favorite lady, the first lady of the United States of America.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, welcome back to AFTER HOURS. I‘m Joe Scarborough, along with Ron Reagan.
Now, of course, earlier this evening, President George W. Bush made a surprise appearance tonight via satellite to introduce his favorite lady, the first lady of the United States of America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tonight, I have the best an easiest job at this convention, introducing our first lady.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
G. BUSH: My life—my life has been better every day since that wonderful day Laura Welch said yes to me. At every stage of our journey, Laura has shown the grace and character I fell in love with. She‘s a wonderful mother who fills our home with love and kindness. She‘s a teacher who wants every American child to read and discover a broader world of ideas. She‘s a friend of authors who has brought talented Americans to the attention of the world. She‘s been a voice of calm and comfort in difficult times.
I‘m a lucky man to have Laura at my side, and America would be fortunate to have her in the white house for four more years.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
G. BUSH: It is my honor—it is my honor to introduce my wife, my partner and the first lady of the United States, Laura Bush.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: I thought that was a moving moment.
We‘re back with our panel. Let‘s bring in pollster Frank Luntz.
And Frank, what did you think about tonight‘s festivities and the Republican Party Convention?
LUNTZ: Well, we‘re going to be dial-testing the reactions tomorrow and Thursday. But tonight, if you had the average swing voter reacting on a second-by-second basis, they would have been dialing Schwarzenegger off the charts. The emotion, the passion—I‘m not sure if it was a speech necessarily in favor of George Bush, but it was one heck of a speech in favor of America.
And one of the things that we‘ve been listening to from swing voters across the country and particularly in Iowa, is that they really want to hear people who are not talking about Republican and Democratic issues, left-wing or right-wing issues—these are American issues. I heard that phrase first at the Democratic Convention. I heard it again and again tonight and how they communicated it. Schwarzenegger‘s presentation—it was articulate and it dealt with those things that the American people care about, things that affect your soul, the pride - and there was passion in it. It was very favorable.
REAGAN: We had some poll data here just a moment ago. I‘ve lost it now, but I think it showed that the race is now tightening up again. I think it was 48-48.
What‘s going on with these polls now?
LUNTZ: It‘s within one or two points either way, and you‘re going to hear the phrase margin of error. That‘s the protective device so you don‘t get sued by some trial lawyer for doing something wrong.
It really is too close to call. And even when you look at the state-by-state numbers for those critical states—Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa—it‘s no more than two or three points between them. My guess is that by the time this is over, Bush will end up about three or four points up. But by the time of the first debate, they are going to be neck to neck.
SCARBOROUGH: But does Schwarzenegger help move any of those numbers in Missouri and Iowa and Wisconsin?
LUNTZ: Potentially yes, because at least this time the networks—with all due respect to the cable—the networks broadcast tonight, which they didn‘t broadcast last night. So we would all agree in this room, I think—outside here anyway—that Rudy Giuliani gave a remarkable performance. The problem is, a lot of Americans will never ever see it.
SCARBOROUGH: Pat Buchanan, I want to follow up on that.
SCARBOROUGH: OK, and - I, you know, I love Hollywood stars as much as anybody - stargazer. But why in the world would you play Arnold Schwarzenegger—why would you lead with Arnold Schwarzenegger when you have the man that many people consider the Winston Churchill of the 21st century, America‘s mayor, Rudy Giuliani?
“Time”‘s people - “Time”‘s man of the year. I‘m telling you, people absolutely loved Rudy Giuliani. Did a great job the other night.
BUCHANAN: Well, he did. I would have thought that they would have - you know, they would have gone with McCain and Giuliani. And of course, Giuliani‘s speech, as you indicated was a—I think it would have helped the president a couple of points.
But if you take a look at what they‘re offering the second night - I mean, Giuliani‘s an ex-mayor now of New York and McCain is the guy who was defeated and you‘ve got the first lady and then you‘ve got the sitting governor of California, probably the most popular politician and leader and star in the country, who‘s - who‘s going to bring a bigger audience to your networks?
Quite frankly, Arnold is the biggest star of the convention. He transcends politics. So I can understand from that standpoint. But from the political standpoint and from the president‘s, I think he would have preferred to have Giuliani doing that work he did last night.
SILVER: But how dare the networks decide we‘re not going to televise at least one or two hours ever night because we have “Fear Factor” on this night. They - they have a public good in these airwaves. This is - this is exploiting and taking advantage.
REAGAN: Well, sure it is. But it‘s all about money.
REAGAN: Oh, yes. You remember in Boston, Barack Obama‘s speech was one of the most widely anticipated. I don‘t believe the networks ran that either.
BUCHANAN: They didn‘t run him, and they didn‘t run...
SCARBOROUGH: You know, and we had a little dust up on set when I complained about the fact that John Kerry, who had, I thought, a magnificently written speech to deliver, rushed through all of his applause lines and he did that in part because he knew that at 11:00, the networks were going to go off.
Now, the networks said we would have stuck around for a while. But actually, he also didn‘t just want to get the speech—he wanted to get the balloons falling, he wanted to get the cheers, everything else.
I think it‘s a serious problem that in 2004 we‘ve got networks that bounce in for an hour here and an hour there. I‘m sorry, and I‘m going to offend a lot of people by saying that.
LUNTZ: The American people are paying more attention this campaign than they did in any in modern history. And they‘re paying attention to the attributes, character traits of the candidates. They‘re paying attention to the issues. They‘re watching the cable networks.
So even if the broadcast networks—CBS, NBC, ABC - even if they‘re covering less, they actually do have 24 hours day, seven days a week on three different channels to choose from, and the public is watching. So in that sense, it‘s a positive. It‘s a good development.
BUCHANAN: Can I ask Frank - I mean - I mean, we‘ve seen how tough a time—we were talking before you came on - Kerry‘s been having. He‘s going to this American Legion thing tomorrow.
Are you saying that when the president has sort of moved out in front, and what Ron‘s saying - you mean they‘re moving back together?
BUCHANAN: Has any of the impact...
SCARBOROUGH: There‘s a “Washington Post”...
REAGAN: “Washington Post” poll...
SCARBOROUGH: ...all close. But you go to the swing states, you go to a new poll in Ohio, you go to a new poll in Missouri, you go to a new poll in some—Wisconsin, and you actually have a break going for George W. Bush.
LUNTZ: But let‘s teach viewers one thing about polling, which is that you need to compare each individual poll. So the “Washington Post” poll had John Kerry up about five points. Now it‘s dead even.
The “L.A. Times” poll had John Kerry up several points. Now...
SCARBOROUGH: George Bush ads for the first time this year, up by three points. Exactly. So it is - you are always looking at trends.
But I want to ask anybody here tonight—does anybody here tonight believe that George Bush is moving ahead and is going to stay ahead between now and November? Or do you all agree, like me, that we‘re going to be up late talking election night trying to figure out who‘s going to win?
SILVER: I think a lot depends on those debates, particularly that first debate.
BUCHANAN: I think the president could open up a five-point - I mean, his father opened up a 7 and a half point lead and never basically lost it.
BUCHANAN: I think the president could open up a five-point lead and Kerry will have one final chance—if that‘s the case—of turning it around in the debates. And if he doesn‘t, you know, I think it could be a pretty clean victory for the president.
SCARBOROUGH: When - Frank, when is John Kerry going to introduce himself to America? He is still—you know, the thing is—
BUCHANAN: The convention. It‘s coming up.
SCARBOROUGH: I ask that question because obviously, the first thing you want to do—politics 101 -- you always want to define yourself before you allow your opponent to define you.
God, I can‘t believe it. We‘re almost into September, John Kerry still hasn‘t defined himself. And I‘ll tell you, these Bush people, with Bush-Cheney ads, with third-party ads—I mean, John Kerry is being defined as an undefinable person. Somebody you can‘t trust in the war on terror.
LUNTZ: Actually, I disagree with the -- I apologize, but John Kerry‘s advertising up until about three or four weeks ago was very effective. The problem was John Kerry the candidate...
SCARBOROUGH: Effective doing what?
LUNTZ: Effective in explaining what he stood for.
John Kerry is very good in sound bytes. The problem is he doesn‘t play well in longform. He‘s got the best individual sound bytes of anybody in the campaign. But he just doesn‘t communicate effectively. He‘s not someone that you want to stay with and listen to from the very beginning to the very end.
SCARBOROUGH: But people don‘t know who he is, do they Frank?
LUNTZ: But you know what? They had a chance already. That‘s was what the Democratic National Convention was to do. And when John Kerry saluted - and that‘s the problem—he defined himself with that salute. And now he‘s going to have to live with that definition.
REAGAN: OK. There is something I want to ask you about - but first we‘ve got to take break.
We‘ll be back in just a minute, but taking us to the break, the great jazz sound of the R.A. Honig Group (ph). You can find out more about their CD (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
Stay with us.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, welcome back to AFTER HOURS. I‘m Joe Scarborough.
Now, in addition to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ron Silver, many others in the Hollywood community are certainly making their mark on the Republican Convention.
With me now is Rachel Campos, who started her career in entertainment on “The Real World San Francisco.”
Now I‘ve got to say, Rachel—two things that don‘t strike me as being very republican. One, “The Real World,” an MTV show.
RACHEL CAMPOS, ENTERTAINER: Yes.
SCARBOROUGH: And two, the city of San Francisco, though I love it.
CAMPOS: Me too.
SCARBOROUGH: So you were actually on “Real World?”
SCARBOROUGH: And MTV, probably one of the more liberal networks?
SCARBOROUGH: And you‘re a Republican delegate?
CAMPOS: Not only that, I was the Hispanic Republican on MTV, you know, back in very PC days - ‘94-‘95, was so long ago that I did it.
But yes, I‘m a delegate this year for the state of Wisconsin—alternate delegate, I should say. And I‘m having a blast here. It‘s awesome.
SCARBOROUGH: Now how do they treat you—MTV and the good people at Viacom when they - when they figured out finally that you‘re a republican. Were you shunned? Did they, like, lock you outside in the garage?
CAMPOS: No, I think they wanted to cast a Republican to get things going in the house. So I was definitely sparking, you know, debates and that sort of thing in the house. I think they liked it.
SCARBOROUGH: You were the token Republican.
So you come here now and you‘re surrounded by a lot of other Republicans. You‘re actually from Wisconsin, is that right?
CAMPOS: Well, I‘m originally from Arizona. I‘m married to Sean Duffy, who is from Wisconsin.
SCARBOROUGH: And—and so what‘s looking like up there? Is George W. Bush—it like some of the polls are breaking his way in Wisconsin. Do you think he can win?
CAMPOS: I think he‘s going to do that in Wisconsin. I also think that another important - you know, Wisconsin is a swing - a swing state. Hispanics are a swing demographic, if you will. And so I think that‘s another place he‘s probably going to do better than people expect.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Arnold Schwarzenegger talked a lot about immigrants.
SCARBOROUGH: And -and obviously, George W. Bush, governor of Texas, worked very hard to reach out to immigrants, especially from Mexico, other Hispanics.
How is George W. Bush doing? Can he expect to get the sort of second-term support from Hispanics in running for president that he got when he ran for governor of Texas the second time?
CAMPOS: You know, Democrats like to say that Clinton was the first black president. I always say that Bush was the first Hispanic president in that regard.
He‘s always been - I mean, since his governor days, very - you know, he speaks our language, or at least he attempts it.
SCARBOROUGH: Don‘t worry. He attempts to speak ours, too.
And I think he‘s always reached out to Hispanics. And, you know, he‘s had, like - I mean, it‘s 700 appointments of Hispanics. You know, John Kerry has never had a Hispanic on his staff until he started to run for president.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, a little-known fact. I didn‘t know that.
Well, Rachael, thanks for being It‘s exciting, again, to talk to somebody who is a true trailblazer in pop culture history. You were on MTV, and I understand that you‘re actually going to be profiled tomorrow in “USA Today,” “Real-World” style?
CAMPOS: Yes. Yes. They‘re doing a - can you believe it? -- 15 years of “The Real World” and reality TV. So it will be in “USA Today” tomorrow.
SCARBOROUGH: Boy, it just seems like it was yesterday. Rachel Campos...
CAMPOS: I know!
SCARBOROUGH: Thanks so much. Thanks a lot for being with us.
And now let‘s take you back up to Ron.
REAGAN: Tough duty, Joe. I tell you.
Hey, guys, you know, we were talking about the polls earlier.
And Frank, I want to run something by you. If I‘m going to put the silver lining on - you know, behind John Kerry now, I‘m looking at two months to go here—and you know that in politics, as in everything else to life, things are cyclical. If you‘re down, you‘ve got nowhere to go but up, and if you‘re up, you‘ve got nowhere to go gown.
John Kerry, I would say, is down at the moment and George Bush is up. But with two months to go and the cyclical nature of this being what it is, could that in some odd way play to Kerry‘s advantage?
Look, these debates are going to turn not on the overall performance, but probably a single sentence. Which candidate is going to get the best zinger in there? Which candidate is going to say something about Poland not being dominated by the Soviet Union or something that‘s ridiculous?
And it won‘t even turn on performance. It may turn just on style rather than on substance.
BUCHANAN: Ron - you know, here‘s - you‘re exactly right.
Let‘s say Bush comes out of here with a eight - eight, nine-point lead. And I think Frank is right. It‘s a closer election than that. And then two weeks later, it‘s a six-point lead. You know, Kerry gaining.
So the Kerry gaining becomes the story.
BUCHANAN: And all the press, let‘s follow the Kerry-gaining story.
REAGAN: The comeback kid.
BUCHANAN: Exactly. And the press loves that. You know, Clinton‘s flat on his back—OK, that‘s fine. Let‘s see if he can get back up, and it becomes a big story. And that‘s—that dynamic will play—it will play in the fall, especially if—it played for Bush‘s father. I remember he was gaining. I was campaigning for him in Alabama. Two down and he‘s closing. And in the course - indicted our friend Weinberger.
SCARBOROUGH: Cap Weinberger.
BUCHANAN: And it zoom, dropped it - dropped the bottom out of it.
SCARBOROUGH: A dozen things here - I love - again, we‘re sitting here talking about it because it‘s the reality right now. But so many things happen at the end of the campaign. And you can talk about Cap Weinberger, that surprise in 1992. That mean-spirited Lawrence Walsh - now I think there was a special prosecutor out of control.
But you can talk about that surprise. You can about the about the DUI report, the weekend before George Bush - Frank, what did George Bush lose the last weekend? Three points? Four points in a lot of polls?
LUNTZ: If you averaged the surveys, the Wednesday before, six days, Bush was up by five point and everyone assumed that he was going to win that election, and the only question was by how much. They stopped polling on the Saturday night. That was the last night that anyone did any polling. So no one caught that. And they showed one or two-point drop. Everyone got it wrong.
Because of that—mark my words, they‘re going to poll right up until Tuesday night to make sure they don‘t miss some sort of change.
SCARBOROUGH: And weren‘t you all - Ron, let me ask both of you - let me ask both of you Rons.
When that happened—when you heard about the DUI arrest back when he was a kid, did you all think, Gee, that‘s going to change the mind of millions of Americans. Because I thought, eh, no big deal.
SILVER: I thought it might, but I also thought it was unfair. It seemed one of those last-minute, 11th-hour charges that a lot of people had that in their youth and they were looking for something.
So I—I supported Gore in 2000, but I kind of took umbrage at this kind of information coming out - on a Friday? A Friday night?
REAGAN: You know who it hurt him with though was his own base, evangelical Christians, who react strongly to that sorts of thing. You know, drunk-driving conviction that he didn‘t tell us about. He lost - he lost some votes there from them.
BUCHANAN: It didn‘t hurt him that much among Catholics, Joe.
SILVER: Oh my God.
BUCHANAN: That‘s a joke.
SILVER: At 2:00 in the morning...
BUCHANAN: ...these fellows across the street understand this.
SCARBOROUGH: Frank Luntz, what kind of trend should we expect coming out of this convention? The president gets the bounce.
Does it pretty much lay dormant, though, until the debates?
LUNTZ: There‘s—we‘re going to be looking for any kind of slip. We‘re going to be looking for any kind of conflict between the two of them. It‘s almost like a good TV show, and we want to see the two candidates go at each other.
I‘m surprised that John Kerry did not, when he‘s been appearing with the president in the same city, in the same day—I‘m surprised he didn‘t just walk the six blocks or 10 blocks over and say, Hey, let‘s debate. Let‘s get it on. The American people—it‘s almost like watching beer ads. We want to see Budweiser and Miller go at each other, and Americans now support Miller because they support the underdog.
REAGAN: Well, we‘re going to get it eventually.
SCARBOROUGH: Do Americans support Miller, really?
LUNTZ: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) it‘s growing. Actually, Miller is the only - Miller is the only beer that‘s ever lost market share and is now coming back.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Frank, as I look at the lock over Macy‘s, it‘s 10 ‘til 2. You learn the damndest things on AFTER HOURS.
We‘ll be right back in a second on MSNBC‘s AFTER HOURS with Ron Reagan. And I‘m Joe Scarborough.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, welcome back to AFTER HOURS. We‘re here in New York City, a city who knows a good party when it sees one.
Now, joining us now with all the scoop on the soirees about town is David Shuster.
David, tell us about the big parties tonight.
DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: The big party, the Motion Picture Association soiree at the boathouse. You‘ll be pleased to know, Ron, we got rejected again.
REAGAN: Oh, David.
SHUSTER: But we did see a couple of famous arrivals. Pete Wilson - remember, this is the California group - Peter Wilson; Jim Kelly, NFL Hall of Famer; Jerry Glanville, who coached the...
SCARBOROUGH: Atlanta Falcons...
SHUSTER: We saw a guy who sort of look like Joe Montana, but by the time we ran up, we were blocked from seeing him.
And then we saw Norm Coleman, the senator from Minnesota. And we talked to him about trade policy. Watch this.
SHUSTER: Having a fun week? Tell us about these parties. What parties have you been to?
SEN. NORM COLEMAN ®, MINNESOTA: Well, I have been (UNINTELLIGIBLE) party on my behalf. So that was a very good party. Travis Tritt was there. And then Rudy Giuliani had a great party the other night, a little - little—smoking a couple of cigars. That was OK.
SHUSTER: You were smoking cigars?
COLEMAN: I smoke a cigar on occasion. But...
SHUSTER: What kind of cigar?
COLEMAN: They were all American cigars. No Cubans.
SHUSTER: No Cuban?
COLEMAN: We - we don‘t - we don‘t do that here.
SHUSTER: You know, Cohibas are pretty good.
COLEMAN: But Cohibas are Dominican too, by the way. You don‘t have to get Cuban to get (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
So Dominicans, they‘re OK.
SHUSTER: Now, he went on to mention the word Cohiba at least five times over the rest of that interview.
SCARBOROUGH: Of course, everybody loves Cohiba, made in Cincinnati, Ohio.
SHUSTER: That‘s right. The Dominican Republic. Sure, yeah, they are.
SILVER: This was the Motion Picture Association?
SCARBOROUGH: I saw no actors.
SHUSTER: And you were of no help in getting us in that party. So, you know.
And any reports on seeing Cuban cigars out there?
SHUSTER: There are Cuban cigars in New York City. We have found that there are some Cuban cigars, although we‘re told they‘re brought in based on legal trade missions, not illegal trade missions.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, whatever. It sounds like some of my lobbyist friends that would always come back with legal Cuban cigars.
SILVER: Does the Cuban mission to the U.N. bring in their own cigars?
SHUSTER: And by the way, are up for a shameless plug since we‘re at the end of the show? Can I add a shameless plug?
SHUSTER: HARDBALL.msnbc .com. Dominic Malone (ph), who is the editor of the “HARBDALL” briefing is probably up tonight. He puts together this great hard blog in addition to some of the rest.
And there‘s some great stuff. Ron Reagan was on there the other night talking about Greek gods.
REAGAN: Greek gods and goddesses.
REAGAN: Minerva - Minerva, which we have now established is maybe the Roman version of Athena. Is that right?
SCARBOROUGH: And of course - and of course, David, I understand that he‘s actually put up a link where you can buy illegal Cuban cigars on the Web site. Is that correct?
SHUSTER: We‘re going to have that up tomorrow.
SHUSTER: But we‘re also going to have up a link that has some of those great pictures of you, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: No, you‘re not. No, you‘re not.
Very good to see all of you. David Shuster, we won‘t be seeing you again.
Pat Buchanan, Ron Silver, Frank Luntz and David Shuster and Mike Barnicle, thanks so much for be with us and staying up late night tonight.
And a special thanks to our great band, the Arioni Group (ph). You can see them every Monday night at the Fat Cat in the Village in New York City.
Tonight‘s sound was provided by Gordon‘s Polatnick‘s Big Apple Jazz Tours. And you can visit them at bigapplejazz.com.
Hey, get some sleep and then make sure to tune in to MSNBC at 7:30 a.m., when George Herbert Walker Bush will be on with Don Imus.
REAGAN: And tomorrow, on a special two-hour “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY,” Joe‘s got a ton of great guests, including comedian Al Franken and Secretary of Commerce Don Evans. I just though I‘d plug you.
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s good. And you know, I can actually ask Al Franken about whether Norm Coleman is going to be his opponent.
REAGAN: That‘s right. And what kind of cigar he smokes.
SCARBOROUGH: He sure sounds serious about running against him.
We‘ll see you tomorrow night, live from Herald Square. Have a great night.
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