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'Convention After Hours' for Sept. 2

Read the transcript to the 1 a.m. ET show

Guests: Mike Barnicle, Tony Blankley, Ron Silver, Susan Molinari, Larry Gatlin

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Welcome back to the AFTER HOURS party, part of MSNBC‘s continuing coverage of the Republican National Convention.  We‘ve got another great hour ahead, including my conversation with comedian Al Franken.  I‘m Joe Scarborough. 

RON REAGAN, CO-HOST: And I‘m Ron Reagan.  We‘re going to be taking more of your phone calls ahead so make sure your voice is heard.  That number is 888-MSNBC USA and of course tonight‘s AFTER HOURS band the (INAUDIBLE). 

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘re back. There‘s just something about a guy waving a sign that says, invade Iran now.  It just speaks to me.  The inner Pat speaks to me.  I absolutely love it. Now I saw the tease as we were heading in here, talking about Zell Miller being on Don Imus‘s show and we were talking throughout the evening about how Democrats, most Democrats, not Zell Miller, but most Democrats, whenever the issue turns to national security, Mike Barnicle, that they seem to be conflicted.  It is sort of the post Vietnam syndrome.  They seem to be torn apart.  Do you think that may be why the Republicans have no problem wading into the fray and knocking John Kerry‘s head off in the convention while Democrats, again, scrub the words down, make sure they play nice? They try to present a clean image.

MIKE BARNICLE, THE BOSTON HERALD: You know, the history of Democrats and language, punchy, tough language that appeals to people, working people, ordinary people, they begin to lose it probably around 1968 when Richard Nixon and John Mitchell stole the issue of law and order from the Democrats and they got pushed into a soft corner.  Nuance is not in the Republican lexicon.  And for some odd reason, some inexplicable reason to me individually, John Kerry has allowed himself somewhat to be put into that same soft corner on national security that Republicans put Democrats in with law and order 20 years ago, 30 years ago. 

TONY BLANKLEY, THE WASHINGTON TIMES: ... what the subject is. I agree with you on foreign policy but on domestic issues, the Democrats are ruthless rhetorically.  They ripped into Republicans over the years with the toughest language.  They‘re very confident on healthcare, hot lunch programs.  I remember working for Newt many—


BLANKLEY: I still got a few bruises.  But it‘s true that on foreign policy, they seem to not feel confident enough to land a real punch. 

RON SILVER, ACTOR: Ironically enough, it may be because of Vietnam.  I think they were OK.  I mean their history, Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman, John F.  Kennedy, but then Vietnam happened.  And I think they‘re still reeling from Vietnam. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is amazing that they still, it seems so many Democrats that I talk to, friends of mine and I have great respect for.  Whenever they get on foreign policy, they get wobbly.  I always say to them, you have to stop seeing the world through the prism of Vietnam. 

BARNICLE: Joe, do you not think, all of us here, do you not think that no matter whether you‘re a Democrat or a Republican, you look at the Democratic party and they are uniquely susceptible to being captured and fragmented by special interest groups on issues of foreign policy on issues of domestic policy.  You mention healthcare, that they‘re strong on healthcare.  I would agree with you until I get to the point where I am at the counter at CVS and I have to hit them with my co-pay for the Lipitor.  What have they been doing on health care?  What have the Republicans been doing on healthcare? So if they‘ve given up that, if that‘s fragmented in the domestic consumer, voter‘s mind, and then they‘re also all over the lot on foreign policy, then it‘s natural that people will say, well, what do these people stand for?

SCARBOROUGH:  Mike, the question is, why are we debating if we‘re Democrats? Why do we want to debate Iraq and the war on terror instead of healthcare, school lunch programs and Social Security?

SILVER: I think mike just alluded to it.  There‘s a bit of a confusion there because of different groups that they‘re serving all the time.  You‘re not going to get anywhere without some sort of a tort reform and they can‘t go anywhere near tort reform. 


BARNICLE: We have discussed this week, all of us, the collective we, not just us here, the issue of moderates appearing earlier at this convention, incredibly popular people.  Mayor Giuliani, Senator McCain, Arnold Schwarzenegger and we‘ve all alluded to the fact that more widely than not, they couldn‘t get the nomination of this party because they‘re mainstream.  And yet if you look at the Democrats, you have to ask yourself, what if John Kerry had started saying about four or five months ago, here‘s the difference between myself and George Bush as president.  I can kill these people more efficiently.  What would the reaction have been among these delegates? He used the word kill! But that‘s what we have to do. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And the thing is, there are a lot of Republicans today that were very offended—before we go any further.  Let‘s do the iso shot on Mike Barnicle again for a second. I just noticed something. You have Beyonce looking over your right shoulder.  That‘s a very, very attractive shot.  Did you see that?

REAGAN: ... Looking at you with a sort of come hither look. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I am so sorry I got distracted for a second.  I don‘t know what came over me, but...

BARNICLE: I would rather have her looking over my shoulder than a bill collector.  That‘s usually the situation.

SCARBOROUGH:  But let‘s talk about the “New York Times.” I just wanted to get to this point.  A lot of Republicans were offended that the paper of record in New York, the “New York Times,” didn‘t even have a picture of the convention last night.  Instead they showed the horrendous picture, the mangled body of that poor lady killed in the terror attack over in Israel.  What I said to Republicans who were whining was, let me tell you what.  That picture, that picture is more of a point than any glamour shot of Arnold Schwarzenegger because that conveys a very real message, along with these four kids shot in Chechnya this morning, that we do live in a global struggle and maybe Susan Molinari, is that why Republicans, Mike Barnicle, is that why Democrats are trying to fight over this issue?

MOLINARI: Look, the world changes.  I think back to, after sitting through John Kerry‘s speech at the Democrat convention, as someone who cared very deeply about Senator Dole and believed he would have made a remarkable president.  But nobody—first, he didn‘t feel comfortable talking about his war record but his war record was important.  And where Bill Clinton was during the war wasn‘t important.  We were then on social issues and the triangulation of school uniforms.  I mean, that‘s where we were.  Again, the pendulum has shifted based on situations beyond our control. 

BLANKLEY: The weird thing about this election is the country is split down the middle, pro war and anti-war.  And we have two candidates who are—say they‘re pro war.  It‘s deranged.  I mean the Democratic - there should be a candidate arguing against the war, arguing for a different strategy on fighting terrorism.  And instead, Kerry for tactical reasons is crowded next to Bush on a policy basis and basically said, but I can do it better.  And there‘s something unnatural about that because you can see in the streets here and all around the country, that there‘s a strong anti-war movement going on.  The majority of Democratic delegates are against the war. 

MOLINARI: And so it is (INAUDIBLE) in trying to suffice both and trying to please both.  We are able to take a huge shot with every speaker for the last four days at his leadership and that‘s why people are nervous.  Even if they‘re against the war, they know there‘s a war on terror that‘s going on right now. 

SILVER: Is there any question in anybody‘s mind where the rank and file of the Democratic party is notwithstanding their platform or what John Kerry is saying?

SCARBOROUGH:  You mean on the war?

SILVER: Absolutely.  There is one party that is more in favor of what‘s being done against terrorism than the other party.

REAGAN: Well, one thing I wonder is that the Democrats have missed an opportunity to differentiate the war on terror, if that‘s what you want to call it, and the war on Iraq. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They haven‘t done it. 

REAGAN: They have not done that and there was an opportunity for them to say, of course we‘re for fighting the terrorists.  Of course we want to go after the guys that knocked down the towers.  In fact, I would still be pursuing Osama bin Laden through the hills of Pakistan if I could.  But not the war in Iraq because (INAUDIBLE). 

BLANKLEY: ... the Democrats, they‘ve already lost their best opportunity, which was their convention.  That‘s where you‘ve got 35 million people watching.  And they don‘t—they‘ll never have that moment again.  They got the debates.  That‘s the closest they‘re going to have.  That‘s very late to re-launch the whole concept of what you stand for in October. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, we‘re all in politics and all have been in politics.  There‘s always that time when I hear my opponent say something that makes me wince.  I go, oh my gosh! I hope they don‘t stay on that message.  And leading up to this convention, the one message that the Democrats were making that wasn‘t scaring me, now that I‘m out of politics, but maybe think, you know what, that‘s a great argument, was the very simple argument, by going after Saddam Hussein, we gave up our best shot of using all of our resources to bring down al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.  And when John Kerry said, I still would have voted for the war, knowing everything now that I know, Mike Barnicle, I just think he threw that issue, that trump card away. 

BARNICLE: Well, I think the way he said it and he‘s as conflicted in his way with language as George Bush is on the other side of the scale.  The way he said it I think would cause even some of his most ardent supporters to say, why should I vote for you then if you would do the same thing? The Osama bin Laden-Iraq deal is so easily explainable I think to people who are just ordinary Americans.  It is as if someone came into your street and killed the people next door, killed everyone in the house.  The police arrive and they say, don‘t worry, Susan, we‘re going to find out who did this.  We‘re going to track them down and we‘re going to punish them.  You say thank you very much.  They come back a week later and say what‘s the story? We‘re looking for them.  But we know who they are.  We just haven‘t been able to find them.  They come back a week later.  Are you making any progress? And they say no, well, we can‘t find them.  But you know the guy down corner who slashed the tires in your automobile last summer? We‘re going to go down and beat the hell out of him because we can. 

MOLINARI: Well, except one thing I would say (INAUDIBLE) -- the guy that was slashing the tires was in fact aiding and abetting the guy that broke into your house. 


MOLINARI: ... Saddam Hussein was not just a tire slasher. 

BLANKLEY: 12,000 troops in Afghanistan and we do two things at one time.  We‘re fighting in Afghanistan and we can go to Iraq. 

SILVER: I think McCain made a very good argument for that the other night. 

MOLINARI: He did. He certainly did.  He tied it together very well.

SILVER: He tied it together better than anybody has.

MOLINARI: Here‘s where I think John Kerry totally blew it if not even on that point.  The insistence that somehow after somebody breaks into our house and kills 3,000 Americans here, throughout this country, that it would all be better and different if we could get France and Germany to help us.  And I thought Rudolph Giuliani went to the heart of why sometimes we just have to go it alone.  And that again goes to the question. 

SILVER: There‘s another distraction about going into Iraq as opposed to Afghanistan.  This military understood Afghanistan better than most people.  They knew the Russians had for 11 years, 650,000 troops there.  People were going to say, you go into Afghanistan like Great Britain and Russia. You‘re going to have a lot of problems. You got to do it differently.  You got to do it small, flexible.  They understood what they were doing. 

REAGAN: One name that you haven‘t heard mentioned in any of this—

BARNICLE: Osama bin Laden.

REAGAN: Osama bin Laden. He has just disappeared from the radar for the Republicans.  No Osama bin Laden. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We still haven‘t found Martin Borman (ph). 

REAGAN: Martin Borman he didn‘t knock down the towers. 

SCARBOROUGH:  We will talk about Osama and Martin when we come back.  Also, we‘re going to be talking about Chris and Zell when we come back.  Tell you what, Zell Miller and Chris Matthews had a showdown or a duel that you‘re not going to believe.  If you didn‘t see it earlier, stick around because when we come back AFTER HOURS, Herald Square, we‘re going to be watching that and also going to be talking to Larry Gatlin of the Gatlin brothers when AFTER HOURS, live from New York City returns.


SCARBOROUGH:  We are back live from Herald Square.  Of course, Herald Square, right across the street from Macy‘s and of course, the old story about the miracle on 34th street.  Earlier tonight, we almost had a duel on West 34th street.  It‘s “HARDBALL” host Chris Matthews interviewed Senator Zell Miller of Georgia, and let me tell you, friends, Senator Miller came ready to fight.  Of course, they ended up great friends.  They were friends before.  They were friends after.  It got heated there for a while and let‘s take a quick look at some of that interview. 


CHRIS MATTHEWS, HARDBALL HOST: Senator, you‘re the expert.  Many times as a conservative Republican, you‘ve had to come out on the floor and obey party whips and vote against big appropriations passed by the Democrats when they were in power.  You weren‘t against feeding poor people.  You weren‘t against Social Security.  You weren‘t against a lot of programs that because of the nature of parliamentary procedure and combat, you had to vote against the whole package.  Didn‘t you many times vote against whole packages of spending when you would have gladly gone for a smaller package?

SEN. ZELL MILLER (D) GEORGIA: Well, I didn‘t make speeches about them and I didn‘t put them in my platform.  Right here is what John Kerry put out as far as his U.S.  Senate platform was he was talking about, he wanted to cancel the MX missile, the B-1 bomber, the (INAUDIBLE) satellite system.  I mean this is not voting for something that was in a big bill. 

MATTHEWS: Can I ask you about your role in the Democratic Party because you‘ve caused such a hit tonight because you are a man of the Democratic party.  Long before this election, you had to watch as a southern conservative the nomination by your party of people like George McGovern, Fritz Mondale, Jimmy Carter, liberal after liberal after liberal, including Mike Dukakis, perhaps the most liberal of them all.  What caused to you cross the aisle tonight?

MILLER: By coming to Washington and seeing firsthand what a mess it is and how far out the Senate Democrats are.  They‘re off the chart as far as being with the mainstream of America.  I think the straw that broke the camel‘s back was the homeland security measure when time after time, John Kerry and the Democrats put collective bargaining above homeland security.  That did it for me. 

MATTHEWS: Well, that did it for Max Cleland as well, didn‘t it?

MILLER: It surely did and probably Jean Carnahan (ph).  And nobody is to blame except—well, they‘re to blame because they voted that way.  But who is really to blame is Tom Daschle for insisting that they do it 11 times over a four-month period.  It was done. 


SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Zell wasn‘t really happy there.  And we‘ve got some more tape that we‘re going to run in a second.  I think some people were trying to be polite.  The only good part—it‘s like showing “Gone with the Wind” and not showing the last line because you didn‘t want to say, frankly, my dear, I don‘t give a damn! Where was the knockout punch? This is like Ali Frazier (ph) and they‘re showing the first round when they‘re jogging around the ring. 

BARNICLE: I got to tell you something Joe, unless you show the whole, the real deal on Scarborough Country or here tonight, I‘m going to come over there and beat the hell out of you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know what? You know what? You want it. You want it. Bring it on Barnicle!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 10 seconds left. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You guys saw it though.  It was unbelievable TV.  I‘m asking everybody right now, cut the tape and let‘s get the part of this tape that the people want to see.  It was incredible television.  And what I was surprised about was that Zell Miller—I mean, Chris asked him a question on procedure.  It seemed like a fairly legitimate question on procedure.  And Zell Miller challenged him to a duel.  Talk about it, Mike Barnicle. 

BARNICLE: Well, I think Zell probably was in the home of Aaron Burr or Alexander Hamilton.  He‘s harkening back to an earlier easier time when arguments could be settled with pistols instead of 30-second commercials. 

SILVER: If you know Zell, you don‘t ask him a procedural question.  He goes off the charts with them.  It drives him nuts. 

MOLINARI: Everybody knows that. 

SILVER: Everybody who knows Zell knows that.

SCARBOROUGH:  Tony Blankley, you obviously, you have served in Washington for some time.  You know Washington and I know Zell Miller.  He is a great guy.  I love him.  That guy came out angry.  And he was angry because he felt like, I think, because—I‘ve talked to him a long time about this.  He really did feel like the Democratic party of his youth betrayed him, abandoned him, and is not serving this country. 

BLANKLEY: I‘ve talked with him in green rooms around Washington.  And he is absolutely firm in his rejection of where the Democratic party is going on the war.  And I think it is the war that‘s finally broken it for him.  I think until then, you go along with your party and you accept the fact you‘re not maybe main streaming it.  But I think looking at the danger that he saw over the country and the Democratic party response.  I think when he talked about bipartisanship at the beginning of his litany of his complaints about the Democrats and Kerry, I think that‘s where the heart of his passion was. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know what? Angie has just told me, she‘s in the control room.  She went and she went to the editors herself.  She told them she was going to challenge them to a duel unless they gave us the real deal.  They have.  Roll the tape!


MATTHEWS: Do you mean to say that you really believe that John Kerry and Ted Kennedy do not believe in defending the country?

MILLER: Well, look at their votes!

MATTHEWS: Say it for me. 

MILLER: Wait a minute. I said I didn‘t question their patriotism.  I question their—

MATTHEWS: Do you believe—


MATTHEWS: Do you believe they want to defend the country?

MILLER: Look, I applaud what John Kerry did as far as volunteering to go to Vietnam.  I applaud what he did when he volunteered for combat.  I admire that.  And I respect that.  And I acknowledge that.  I‘ve said that many, many times.  But I think his record is atrocious.  What?

MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you, when Democrats come out, as they often do, liberal Democrats and attack conservatives and say they want to starve little kids.  They want to get rid of education. 

MILLER: I‘m not saying that. 

MATTHEWS: That kind rhetoric is not educational, is it?

MILLER: Wait a minute.  This is your program.  And I‘m a guest on your program.  So I want to try to be as nice as I possibly can to you.  I wish I was over there where could I get a little closer up into your face.  But I‘m not going to have to stand here and listen to that kind of stuff.  I didn‘t say anything about not feeding poor kids.  What are you doing?

MATTHEWS: No. I‘m saying that when you said tonight - I just want...

MILLER: You‘re saying a bunch of baloney that didn‘t have anything to do with what I said up there on the rostrum. 

MATTHEWS: OK. You believe now, do you believe, senator, truthfully, that John Kerry wants to defend the country with spit balls? Do you believe that?

MILLER: That was a metaphor, wasn‘t it? You know what a metaphor is? MATTHEWS: Well, what do you mean by that?

MILLER: Wait a minute. He certainly does not want to defend the country with B-1 bombers or with B-2 bombers or the carrier (ph) jet or the Apache helicopter or all those other things that I mentioned and there were even more of them than here.  You‘ve got to quit taking these Democratic talking points and using them—

MATTHEWS: No. I‘m using your talking points and asking if you really believe them. 

MILLER: What, I‘ll use John Kerry‘s talking points from what he‘s had to say on the floor of the Senate where he talked about them being occupiers, where he put out this whenever he was running for the U.S.  Senate about what he wanted to cancel.  Cancel to me means to do away with. 

MATTHEWS: What did you mean—

MILLER: I think we ought to cancel this interview. 

MATTHEW: That would be my loss, senator. 

MILLER: You‘re hopeless.  I wish I was over there.  In fact, I wish that we lived in the—

MATTHEWS: senator—please come over.  We‘re --  I got to warn you.  We‘re in a tough part of town over here but I do recommend you come over because I like you.  Let me tell you this.  If a Republican senator broke ranks, I‘m sorry.  A Republican senator broke ranks and came over and spoke for the Democrats, would you respect him?

MILLER: Yes.  Of course I would. 


MILLER: I‘ve seen that happen from time to time.  Look—

MATTHEWS:  (INAUDIBLE) which side are you? (INAUDIBLE switch parties after getting elected. 

MILLER: If you‘re going to ask me a question. 

MATTHEWS: Well, it‘s a tough question. It takes a few words. 

MILLER: Get out of my face.  If you‘re going to ask me a question, step back and let me answer it.  I wish we lived in the day where could you challenge a person to a duel.  That would be pretty good.  But don‘t ask—don‘t pull that - wait a minute - don‘t pull that kind of stuff on me like you did that young lady when you had her there browbeating her to death.  I‘m not her.  I‘m not her.

MATTHEWS: Let me tell you, she was suggesting that John Kerry -

MILLER: You get in my face, I‘m going to get back in your face.  (INAUDIBLE)

MILLER: The only reason you‘re doing it is because you‘re standing way over there in Herald Square. 



SILVER: That‘s TV.  That‘s better than anything.  That is TV.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Chris Matthews, by the way, Chris really seemed to be enjoying that.  I wasn‘t exactly sure how serious Zell Miller was.  But obviously we‘ve seen all this week, we‘ve seen signs across the street, we‘ve seen protestors.  I‘ll tell you what.  There are people that feel very passionately about this campaign.  I think that‘s a great thing and about where America is and whether John Kerry or George W. Bush takes this (INAUDIBLE) safely. 

SILVER: You‘re talk to one right now.  You‘re talking to one right now.

SCARBOROUGH:  And again, you‘re a Democrat like Zell Miller. 

SILVER: Absolutely. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You guys probably don‘t hang out but like Zell Miller. 

SILVER: We hang all the time. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You‘ve left the Democratic party this year and are supporting Republicans. 

SILVER: For some of the reasons that he mentioned.  I‘m not quite as passionate.  I wouldn‘t have phrased it the way he did but strictly about 9/11.  I think the president‘s response is exactly right.  I think his national security strategy is right.  Also, if you read John Louis Gatis (ph) and other people, this unilateralism, this preemption, very much part of our history going back to the founding of our country.  That‘s how we got to where we are.  Andrew Jackson in Florida, the Mexican-American war.  That‘s why we‘re sea to sea.  This is the way we have always functioned.  Our security strategy happens when we expand.  When we go out and we bring what we bring to these other countries.  So I‘m very much in favor of it.  I see George Bush as a revolutionary liberal, not a neo con, frigging liberalism. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘ll tell you this.  As far as foreign policy goes, there‘s nothing conservative about what George W. Bush has done over the past three and a half years.  He‘s trying to transform American foreign policy and if you agree with it, vote for him if you don‘t, go with John Kerry.  Listen, we‘ll be right back in a second.  When ATER HOURS returns live from Herald Square.  More cheering, more debates and more dueling. Coming up next, a 15 round do or die with Mike Barnicle and myself. 


SCARBOROUGH:  We‘ve got a lot more for you, so don‘t go away.

But first, let‘s go to the MSNBC news desk and get the latest headlines.


SCARBOROUGH:  We are back, live from Herald Square.  Third night of the Republican National Convention ended.  It was a fiery night. And I‘ll tell you what, everybody inside Madison Square Garden that saw Dick Cheney and Zell Miller talk said, Both of the guys blew the roof off of the Garden.

Now to catch a glimpse, behind the scenes of coverage of the presidential race, you can check out hardblogger. That‘s “HARDBALL”‘s election-blog Web site.  And you can go to And of course, if you go there, you‘re going to get to see the latest updates from all of us that are covering this. Also, I think you‘re going to get to see Chris Matthews‘ strategy and any future duel with any Democrats that he may be interviewing.

And of course, you‘ll also get to hear from Ron Reagan and all of his observations.

And right now, he‘s joined by Larry Gatlin. Ron, go ahead.

REAGAN:  Yes, here with country legend Larry Gatlin.

And Larry, you had an interesting take on that whole Zell Miller-Chris Matthews thing. It was - maybe it‘s a Southern thing.  You thought Chris was out of line.

LARRY GATLIN, COUNTRY SINGER:  I thought Chris was really out of line.

One of the great fictional characters in all American...


REAGAN:  Oh, well now - now, now - let him - let him - you know, come on.  Come on.

GATLIN:  I‘ll tell you what: if you get to be a big star someday and they want to interview you, I‘ll let you talk. OK?


REAGAN:  I don‘t think it was actually him.

Oh, let‘s not get into a big argument. Come on.  Chris is going to talk to Larry and, you know - we‘ll do that (ph).

GATLIN:  I have worked for 40 years for this opportunity and I hope you get same one. In the meantime, shut up or we‘ll have another duel, OK?  You just go out there.

REAGAN:  All right.  You guys are fiery.

GATLIN:   One of the - one of the great, great fictional characters in American literature was Captain Call in Lonesome Dove. And Captain Call said these immortal words. He said, “One thing I will not tolerate in a man is rudeness,” all right?

I thought Chris was rude. Last night, sitting right up there, he was very nice to me. He played softball. You see, I know what “HARDBALL” is about.


GATLIN:  “HARDBALL” is about one guy pitches, and one guy gets a chance to hit.


GATLIN:  I don‘t think my friend Zell Miller got a chance to hit. It‘s real tough to do it back and forth when you don‘t have - you know, when you‘re not in person. But to ask a man a question and then not sit there—yes, my friend got a little hot under the collar.  It may be a Southern thing.

Your father got a little hot under the collar. He handled it a little bit different - differently.  But it was time—when it was time to kick rear and check roll, he did it, and I‘m proud of that.  And if Zell Miller needs a second (ph), I‘ll  be a second (ph) (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

REAGAN:  I guess that means I‘ve got to back up, Chris.

You know what I - you know what I thought? I thought it was—it was an example of the dangers of doing a remote interview. Because I think really there was just a misunderstanding there. And Chris—they were talking over each other for a while there. And Zell just got a little hot.

GATLIN:  That is real tough. And who among us is perfect? If you feel like your integrity or your honor has been called out, that‘s not a Southern thing. They‘re going to do that in New Jersey. Now they—you may be sleeping with the fishes, you know what I‘m saying?

But it‘s all the same thing. If somebody calls out your honor, is rude to you, I think you have the change—should have a chance to respond. Zell Miller‘s a great American. 

Like I say, Chris was very nice to me last night. I just - I‘ll tell you what I—I take umbrage to.  There‘s an old saying that even a broken clock is right twice a day. It doesn‘t matter what our president does or what anybody in our party does. The first reflexive answer - no, Mr. Barnicle, the answer to your question is why do we Republicans have a little better way of doing things? It‘s a lot easier to organize your game plan around the truth instead of smoke and mirrors. That‘s what I believe. You give me enough good players, I‘ll win the football game.

REAGAN:  These guys—these guys, they‘re feisty tonight. People are fired up. Was is it the Zell Miller speech that got everybody riled?

GATLIN:  No, I believe it‘s the power of being - the might being right. My friend George W. Bush, the things that people have said about him—he‘s handled it a lot more graciously than even brother Zell or that I would. To sit there and say that the man deliberately lied and sent people into harm‘s way, to further his political career.

We have a word for it in Texas. I‘ll just call it bovine droppings, because that‘s about as close as I can get.  You know what I‘m saying?

REAGAN:  Well, now that we‘ve gotten the bovine droppings out of the way, let‘s - let‘s—what are you doing here in New York?

GATLIN:  Well, I‘m a Republican. I‘m a conservative. I - I‘m an American.  I love my country. And I respect these people‘s right to talk.

I really ought to apologize to all of them. It‘s really damn rude for me to talk while ya‘ll are trying to talk. Momma taught me better than that.  But I‘m here exercising my right of free speech, my right to assembly with friends who are like-minded.

I am a Republican.  I‘m going to do a thing tomorrow for Johnny Cash over at Sotheby‘s. They‘re going to have some folks over there, and I‘m going to get paid some money. I‘m going to take and it put it back into the economy.  I‘m going to give it to my wife and let her buy some stuff out of the Johnny Cash collection. Then I‘m going to go listen to my friend, the president of the United States, set forward a further agenda of which I am very proud, my brothers are proud. And then the next day I‘m going to go to South Dakota and take a heck of a lot more money and take it home to Texas.

REAGAN:  What do you think of Ari Hoenig‘s (ph) band here?

GATLIN:  These guys are good. They—I‘ll tell what you...


GATLIN:   They were - they were - they were not born back when I was a big star, so they didn‘t know any of my songs. They wanted to do “Summertime.”  So, are we going to do “Summertime”?


REAGAN:  Play us out here.  Here we go.


The trumpet player knows this song a lot better than I do.  Put it over there (ph).

REAGAN:  All right.  Back to you guys up at the panel.

SCARBOROUGH:  And we will be back with AFTER HOURS, live from Herald Square, and some feisty Republicans when AFTER HOURS with Ron Reagan and Joe Scarborough continues.



REAGAN:  Frank Luntz with voters tonight in Ohio. Let‘s see if they were persuaded by Dick Cheney‘s speech tonight, and whether a fist fight broke out.


FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER:  Joe, this really, certainly is ground zero for swing voters.

And I want to get your reaction to what you saw tonight. Early in the evening, we talked a little bit about Zell Miller. Let‘s get a word and phrase from this group here: What‘s your reaction, in a word or phrase, to Vice President Cheney‘s speech this evening?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  To Vice President‘s Cheney, would be very drab.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I thought it was powerful.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Kind of lackluster.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I thought he was the most moving he‘s ever been.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) enthusiastic. Enthusiastic.

LUNTZ:  Is it—I want to separate the personality, because it‘s—the comments are interesting. Let‘s separate the personality from the language.

If it had been delivered with more passion, would you have had a more favorable reaction to it?

Yes or no?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  No, I don‘t like to be manipulated.

LUNTZ:  And so you felt that he spoke from the heart?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I thought he was very focused.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I thought he was very manipulative in terms of trying to make it seem like Kerry‘s a bad guy, everybody should be afraid and that only my guy can protect you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think he was very much himself - like, I mean, we got to see him in his original demeanor. It wasn‘t something that was put on for a camera.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It wasn‘t a pretty boy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don‘t think it had anything to do with Kerry being a bad guy. He‘s just saying Kerry doesn‘t really make up his mind very well. He‘s not decisive. Not that he‘s a bad person.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He was not a good closer after Zell Miller.

LUNTZ:  He was not?


LUNTZ:  Interesting.


LUNTZ:  Now, we use these dials—if I might borrow this—to get people‘s reactions on a second-by-second basis to the language that was used. What you‘re going to see in this monitor behind me, the words and phrases and how our swing voters reacted. The red line Republicans, the green line represents Democrats. And the higher the lines go, the more favorable the reaction.  But if the lines dip, that means that our swing voters didn‘t like what they heard to say.

This first clip is about national security and George Bush‘s handling of national security issues. Let‘s take a look.


CHENEY:  As the president has made very clear, there is a difference between leading a coalition of many nations and submitting to the objections of the few.


CHENEY:  George W. Bush will never seek a permission slip to defend the American people.



LUNTZ:  I mean, that‘s incredible. You don‘t see responses like that ever in dial testing. Very partisan split. Republicans, that was awesome. The Democrats were completely neutral, completely flat.

Why did you have such a positive reaction to it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Well, my positive reaction was the president, commander in chief should never to have get a permission slip from United Nations, anybody. They‘re the commander in chief. They are the ones who are running our country.

LUNTZ:  What was so favorable?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It was strong. It was strong and, you know, powerful. Not that, you know, I‘m going to wait for public approval from the world before I decide whether or not to defend our country.

LUNTZ:  John?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh, I agree with that. I think the president has to take action sometimes. And Cheney was saying that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think—I want to know who these many countries are that he thinks are in alliance with us. You watched the Olympics. You don‘t get a feeling like all these people supported us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  it‘s a departure from Kerry because he said he thinks he could have done a better job going to the United Nations and getting more support.

LUNTZ:  Now, you mentioned John Kerry. Dick Cheney spoke a lot about John Kerry tonight, and in some cases got a very favorable reaction much, not just from those who lean Republican, but also among those who lean Democrat.

Let‘s take another look at our dial reactions from our swing voters, and you‘ll then explain to me why you responded the way that you did.


CHENEY:  Senator Kerry is campaigning for the position of commander in chief.


CHENEY:  Yet he does not seem to understand the first obligation of a commander in chief, and that is to support American troops in combat.



LUNTZ:  OK, that one is now off the charts. Even those who leaned towards the left responded favorably toward it. And among you Republicans, you quite literally went as high as the dials could go.

Why was that so favorable?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It sounded believable.

LUNTZ:  That sounded believable?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Well, we should have a president that‘s supporting our troops.

LUNTZ:  But he took a direct shot at John Kerry. That was direct.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Be at his - being wishy-washy on his votes, and then it went right into saying how decisive President Bush is. And that is what this country needs on this policy.

LUNTZ:  So even though he took a direct shot, that‘s still acceptable to you?


LUNTZ:  Reactions?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And that‘s where he said he was being mean to Kerry, or slamming Kerry. He wasn‘t really slamming him. He‘s just saying, here‘s what - here‘s what is.


                UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:   ...the facts of the Democratic affiliation with the military has not been very favorable, in my experience voting. So it‘s—it‘s fact. It‘s Kerry‘s voting record. It‘s what he supported. And he wasn‘t—he was not taking a shot at him. He was merely pointing out what is.

                UNIDENTIFIED MALE:   But he seemed to forget that Kerry has faced bullets in the military field. Mr. Bush has never.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I don‘t think that makes a difference.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  A lot of things have happened in 30-plus years that have formed...

LUNTZ:  So here was a speech that was very explicit - go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s just, he‘s - he‘s telling truth. He‘s stating the facts. And that‘s what‘s important. He‘s not extrapolating on the facts, you know...

LUNTZ:  So let‘s close this up. Let‘s take a vote. You‘ve all seen John Edwards; you‘ve all seen Dick Cheney. If the campaign for vice president is just between the two of them, and you‘re the most important voters in America, how many of you would prefer to see Dick Cheney, just for VP—would prefer to see Dick Cheney as VP rather than John Edwards?

That‘s a fair amount of you. And how many would rather see John Edwards rather than Dick Cheney?

Well, I would say that the Kerry campaign tonight will not be happy with that result.

Joe, back to you.


SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thanks a lot, Frank.


SCARBOROUGH:  Now, we - wait, I got to ask Mike Barnicle because through this entire thing, you‘re gasping.

What was so compelling about that clip?

BARNICLE:  Well...


REAGAN:  No, don‘t hold back.

BARNICLE:  It looks like the bar scene from Star Wars. I don‘t mean to demean anyone who was there, but I thought from the looks of several of them—and I‘m not in the greatest shape in the world - but they‘re talking about healthcare issues. Have a salad, would you?

REAGAN:  If these are the undecided voters who are going to decide the election, which of us fears for our nation?


SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know Frank Luntz.


REAGAN:  Talk about it.

BLANKLEY:  I was one of the people responsible for bringing him into the Republican political process. He‘s a wonderful pollster. One of the things he always did very well was he would work on the language that would work, not just give you the cold numbers. Now he‘s gone into focus grouping and he works the groups very well.  I‘ve seen him do these things.

SILVER:  You know—you know when I met Frank, actually, in the first Giuliani campaign—not the first. The second one, in ‘92. And we were up in the room, and at the local CBS station here, called the election for Dinkins.  And Frank walked into the room and said, congratulations, Mr. Mayor. And he said, We‘ll take about a half-hour before they get it.  And he was right.


BARNICLE:  That‘s New York, though.

Frank is great. He‘s very skillful.  He was clearly in a room full of mental patients.

BLANKLEY:  Aren‘t we all?

SCARBOROUGH:  Of course, Barnicle, you‘re at a table with mental patients too, so it all works together.

I can tell you, nobody‘s better at figuring out language and how to use it and how to move voters than Frank Luntz.

BLANKLEY:  Star Wars mental patients? 


We‘ll be back with Joe Scarborough‘s mental ward when AFTER HOURS, live from Herald Square, continues.


REAGAN:  All right.  Now let‘s bring our own one-man personal focus group, MSNBC correspondent David Shuster, who‘s just come from a tribute party to former Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

David, how was the tribute party?

DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  It was great except for the third night in a row we got rejected again. And this time one...



SHUSTER:  At 30 Rock!  That‘s NBC.  We couldn‘t get in.

But we brought back some pretty funny tape for you.

The first tape I want to show - and it‘s not as funny as the other two...

SCARBOROUGH:  The Ohio focus group?

SHUSTER:  But the tape is of Henry Kissinger having to seem—seeming to have a little but of an interest in the Massachusetts lieutenant governor.  And then we decided to butt in and ask about the party. Watch this.


SHUSTER:   How was the party upstairs?


SHUSTER:  What kind of food were they serving?

KISSINGER:  (LAUGHTER) I ate too much of it.

SHUSTER:  What were you eating?

KISSINGER:  I was eating everything that came by.

SHUSTER:  Wine? Beer? You‘re a champagne man.

KISSINGER:  No, I‘m a wine man.

SHUSTER:  Wine man.  What kind? White or red?




SHUSTER:  White!  White!

Now, Henry Kissinger, a man of few words. White!

OK, our second piece of tape—by the way, I think that‘s Henry Kissinger, power-as-an-aphrodisiac Henry Kissinger.

But our second piece of tape...



SHUSTER:  Senator Ted Stevens - Senator Ted Stevens, ladies and gentlemen.  We asked about Vice President Cheney‘s speech tonight.  Watch this.


SEN. TED STEVENS ®, ALASKA:  Very good. I‘m with him. I think he spoke very strongly.

SHUSTER:  How are you going to celebrate tonight?

STEVENS:  I‘m going to go pack and go back out on the trail.


SHUSTER:  Now, the last time I checked, Joe, Alaska was not exactly a battleground state. But, whatever. Senator Ted Stevens.

REAGAN:  It has, like, one electoral vote (sic)...


TRIPPI:  But he is the line of succession to be president of...

SHUSTER:  That‘s important.

Our final piece of tape. Brooks & Dunn - do you know who Brooks & Dunn are, Joe?

TRIPPI:  The greatest selling country duo of all time.

SHUSTER:  Duel?  Did you say duel?


SHUSTER:  OK.  Well anyway - well, we got Ronnie Dunn to imitate a police motorcade siren. Watch this.

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, that‘s great.  Oh, I can‘t wait.


RONNIE DUNN, ENTERTAINER:  Well, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) they just kind of went (MAKING SIREN NOISE).  You know how they just do the quick - the quick one.  You know, just the whole (MAKING SIREN NOISE).  There wasn‘t the whole (MAKING SIREN NOISES).  There wasn‘t the whole (MAKING SIREN NOISES).  There wasn‘t the whole (MAKING SIREN NOISES)


SCARBOROUGH:  I‘ll tell you what—country rap...


REAGAN:  There you go.  Ronnie Dunn, as you‘ve never heard him.


REAGAN:  You get stuff that nobody else does.


TRIPPI:  That was up there with the butter cow.

SCARBOROUGH:  Joe Trippi, what do you make of all the fighting and the slings and arrows that have been sort of going on? tonight This - this race is about to get really hot, isn‘t?

TRIPPI:  Yes. I mean, it‘s - it‘s getting mean. And I think - and I think it‘s probably going to be that way the next 60 days. I think it‘s - you know, there‘s a moment when these things start turning nasty. And I think tonight was the night of the angry white men at the Republican convention. And I think they scored points. I‘m not - I don‘t mean that in a disparaging way. They scored points.

But the one thing I know about the Kerry campaign, don‘t count those guys out. They came back from the dead in Iowa against Dean. They‘re not dead by any means. They‘re very much alive. They‘re doing real well out there, and they‘re going to come back.

SILVER:  Do you think either team has an October surprise? Can you speculate on what either side may or may not have?

TRIPPI:  Well, the October surprise may be something that‘s not in either of their control. I mean - you know, that‘s the one thing - and none of us want that. But, I mean, this has been that kind of a year. It‘s a strange year. And I think—I think both of them are going to try to do something that really punch it up in October.

But again, I think it‘s likely that things are going to be out of their control, whether it‘s the economy or foreign affairs.

SILVER:  But is there anything anybody is sitting on, like a DWI or something like that?

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, actually, Osama bin Laden is in Dick Cheney‘s basement right now.


SILVER:  Zell has him.  He‘s safe with Zell.

SCARBOROUGH:  David, you have been following, obviously, this campaign daily.

Are you - are you surprised by the confidence, the growing sense of confidence—it seems by the hour—that these Republican delegates seem to have.

SHUSTER:  Well, I think the Bush campaign had an advantage the last couple weeks in that everyone was focused on the Olympics and all the patriotism that goes along with that, and now the Republican convention.

But what‘s so strange is - yea, and the national numbers, the Bush campaign perhaps has reason to have confidence. They‘re bumping up a little bit.

But again, when you look at state-by-state in the battlegrounds, where this race will is going to decided, the Bush campaign still has a tough road ahead. I mean, they‘ve almost got to pull an inside straight as far as the states where they‘re behind in in order to make up the electoral count.

You look at Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Florida - I mean, that‘s where this race is going be decided no matter what the national poll numbers are. The president‘s got a problem there.

REAGAN:  Sadly, we have run out of time here.


REAGAN:  I‘m just the messenger here.

So to Ron and Susan and David and Joe—everybody, our whole panel. Thank you for staying up late with us.

And a special thanks to our great band, the Ari Hoenig Group.  See them every Monday night at the Fat Cat in the Village of New York City.

Tonight‘s talent provided by Gordon Polatnick‘s Big Apple Jazz Tours. Visit them at

SCARBOROUGH:  And, of course, the fun continues tomorrow at (UNINTELLIGIBLE) p.m.  Make sure to join us for a special two-hour “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.”

I‘ll see you then.  And, of course, we‘ll see you Thursday night, same bat time, same bat place.  Going to be talking about President Bush‘s night in the spotlight.

Have a great night.


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