Guests: Liz Rozier, Sen. John Ensign, Rick Perry, Jon Meacham, J.C. Watts
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ZELL MILLER (D), GEORGIA: I have knocked on the door of this man‘s soul and found someone home, a God-fearing man with a good heart and a spine of tempered steel!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Chris Matthews, and welcome to MSNBC‘s coverage of the Republican convention here in New York. We‘re live in Herald Square. You can hear the chanting behind me. It sounds like it‘s Democrat at this moment. But throughout the streets of New York, there‘s action tonight, sirens going, if you‘ve heard them. There are people protesting, and some protesters, I‘m told, heading towards the convention hall tonight.
The president is safely within the doors of the convention hall, but expect some action tonight in New York. This is, however, the end of the convention night, but it is, of course, the finale, as well. People are going to take their shots, whatever they are, to get their message across tonight. You see the streets right there? That‘s us. That‘s America. That‘s New York City right now.
The big question is the president tonight gets to speak to the nation, not just to the people of New York. He gets to speak to everyone in the world. And by the way, it doesn‘t take a political science major to know the world‘s listening because President Bush is a very important and controversial figure in the world. People have strong views on the man, and they‘re going to be listening to every word he says tonight. They‘ll probably be amazed, looking at this country, how many millions of people like this guy and are ready to vote for him, and probably appalled at the fact, from some quarters, it looks like he‘s in the lead.
Joining me here in Herald Square is NBC‘s Andrea Mitchell, former U.S. congressman J.C. Watts of Oklahoma, Jon Meacham, an editor at “Newsweek,” and Joe Scarborough, host of “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.”
First, we go to the hall and NBC News anchor, Tom Brokaw, and NBC News bureau chief, Washington bureau chief and moderator of “MEET THE PRESS,” Tim Russert. Tom and Tim, it seems like the president has a lot of audience to cover tonight, not just the party base but suburban moms, evangelicals who may be turned off to politics, Reagan Democrats. How does he talk to them all in one speech?
TOM BROKAW, ANCHOR, “NBC NIGHTLY NEWS”: Well, I don‘t think that you can speak to everyone in one speech. I think it‘s tonal, as much as fine print, Tim—Chris. What we have tonight is the president coming here, asking for a renewal of his contract, in effect. We‘ve been saying this all evening long. It seems obvious, but he has to be very presidential tonight. He has to seem to have grown in that job. He‘s described himself, as we‘ve often heard, as a war president. I don‘t think that that will be the emphasis of the speech, but nonetheless, he‘s going to have to talk about why he made the decisions that he did, not just in Afghanistan, but also in Iraq, but put them in context of a larger social program that will address those issues that you‘ve been talking about.
We all know that we have record deficits and Baby Boomers about to kick in on the so-called entitlement programs, as well as Social Security. He‘s going to have to begin to address that tonight and lay out some kind of a plan. And our latest NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll, by a factor of 2-to-1, the people that we talked to said they have not heard enough from the president about social programs, welfare, health care, education, those kinds of programs, Tim.
TIM RUSSERT, MODERATOR, “MEET THE PRESS”: The president calls it, “asking for the vote,” Tom, and tonight, he has to ask for the vote by identifying with people. How does he do that? By showing them that he understands what‘s troubling them. What issues really do matter to them and to their families? Also, to be willing to acknowledge that he‘s not perfect, that he has some shortcomings and has made some mistakes. I think his base is so well locked, and he can talk to the base through issues like abortion and judges and things like that, but to the country at large, particularly those swing, independent voters, it‘s got to be bread-and-butter issues, economic issues, health care, job security. That‘s what‘s on their minds.
The undecided voters are also disproportionately women. He‘s got to appeal to them in terms of their own personal security, but also the anxiety they feel as a mother and perhaps even a single mother, the only breadwinner.
BROKAW: And the tricky...
MATTHEWS: Let me...
BROKAW: I was going to say, Chris, the tricky piece in this economy, which is such an uncertain (UNINTELLIGIBLE) these days, he‘s going to talk about the role of government to assist people, to aid them, but not to run their lives. And we‘ll whether he has any new government programs to help people as they face this new and much more complex economy.
MATTHEWS: How can you account, Tom and Tim, for this amazing honor being given to the governor of New York tonight, George Pataki, to introduce the president for his acceptance speech?
BROKAW: Well, I—you know, I think the choice of coming to New York is a reminder to everyone about 9/11. The president will no doubt make some references to his appearance here. It is the place where the greatest single attack in America ever occurred. The mayor—the governor—the mayor was obviously the big star of that time, a kind of healing, commanding force.
But in fairness, Governor Pataki was right at his side and has been a faithful Republican supporter of this president, even though many of his views on the social issues that we‘ve been talking about all week—on abortion, even gun control—are different than the president‘s. So it is appropriate that if you‘re coming to New York and making the case that his presidency really began here, in a way, on 9/11, that the governor of the state is the one who will bring him on.
RUSSERT: And George Pataki, Chris, lobbied very, very hard to do this duty tonight because where has he been in the last few months? New Hampshire twice. And who‘d he meet with, what delegations, the last two days? New Hampshire twice. Pataki wants to run for president. He knows how significant and important introducing the president is, and the president is giving him a nice pat on the back by saying, George, thanks for all your help.
MATTHEWS: It sure is. Let me ask you about Cuban-Americans. We saw in the last presidential election, the role that they play in that community down in Miami-Dade County. They‘re going to have a colloquy tonight, as part of a remote connection to this convention tonight. Does that show that they still play a key role in winning that key state for the president?
BROKAW: I don‘t think there‘s any question about that, when you‘re talking about Florida. That‘s the largest single block of votes that you can count on, generally, for the Republican side. And by the way, Andy Card made a big point of telling me today that he‘s tracking the hurricane that is going—headed for Florida now, hour by hour, and giving the president updates on that. They would be doing that in any event, but especially in a political year. You can know if the president‘s brother is the governor of that state, that any request will be honored very quickly. The phone won‘t even stop ringing before they‘ll pick it up.
RUSSERT: And Chris, the president usually stays out of Republican primaries, but his people are very much involved on behalf of Mel Martinez, the successful nominee for the Senate from Florida. Why? One said to me, You know, we hope Mel wins the general election, but we want him to win that primary because his presence on the ballot guarantees a very significant Cuban-American turn-out. They got what they wished for.
MATTHEWS: Let me move this forward to tomorrow tonight—or actually, tonight, even. The president‘s going to give this very important speech tonight, he‘s going to get on a plane and fly to Scranton, Pennsylvania. It‘s an interesting city to pick. It‘s a very Democratic city. It‘s run by Mayor Chris Dougherty (ph). They‘re all Irish-Americans in that city. As I said, they‘re all Democrats. With the unemployment number coming up tomorrow morning, why do you think the president chose a state that does have economic challenges?
BROKAW: Well, I think that they feel a certain surge there, and it is the first city that John Edwards and John Kerry went to right after Boston. I was on the bus with them when they arrived in Scranton, and they think that they‘ve got a shot there.
The other interesting rally that will occur tonight, Chris, will be at midnight in Ohio with the Democratic ticket, in which John Kerry at midnight, one hour after the end of the president‘s speech, will respond to Zell Miller‘s charges last night. And looking at the language that we‘ve been shown so far, he‘ll have a very tough rebuttal. His language will be every bit as strident as Zell Miller‘s was here last night, hoping that they‘ll pick up the morning news cycles with this.
RUSSERT: He‘ll be talking about Dick Cheney‘s five draft deferments. John Kerry is taking his gloves off at midnight tonight, basically saying, I‘ve had enough when it comes to challenging my patriotism and my military record. This campaign is really engaged as of midnight tonight.
BROKAW: We used to have to wait until the morning after the convention for the campaign to begin, but it‘s going to begin before the convention runs out here in New York. People will be still trying to get out of this building when John Kerry is responding to them in Ohio.
MATTHEWS: Is this a notch-up in his rhetoric, gentlemen? “I‘m not going to have my commitment to defend this country”—this is John Kerry tonight—“questioned by those who refused to serve when they could have and by those who have misled the nation—misled the nation—into Iraq.” Isn‘t that a pickup in his attack?
BROKAW: Oh, I think it‘s more than a notch-up, it‘s a seismic shift. I mean, a lot of Democrats have been very frustrated that he‘s not been responding to the ads by the so-called swifties, the Vietnam veterans who are against John Kerry for both, A, his conduct, they believe, over there, and especially what he did when he got home, and then these attacks last night, which he saw as an attack on his patriotism and his fitness to serve as commander-in-chief.
I talked to one of the people in the Kerry campaign today, and I said, Did you do any snap polling on all of this? And they said, No, this one is political gut. We don‘t know whether the other side did any or not, but as you know, all day long, there‘s been a kind of a separation on the part of a lot of people here, from the remarks, especially of Zell Miller, although for the delegates that I talked to last night coming off the floor, they loved it.
RUSSERT: Chris, as you know, the Kerry people understand that they have to get this campaign off of the generic issue of terrorism and back onto Iraq, which Kerry is doing at midnight tonight, and the economy. And that could be done by the release of the job creation numbers tomorrow morning at 8:30.
MATTHEWS: Is there going to be—I know this is a cutting-edge question, and I don‘t know what the reporting even could be on this. Lots of buzz today, without any clear-cut message to me, yet. Tom and Tim, what‘s going on within the Kerry campaign? Is there going to be any kind of move with regard to Mary Beth Cahill, anything with Robert Shrum? Is there going to be any purge or big change in the staff there?
BROKAW: We‘ve not seen that so far. We‘ve been talking today, on their initiative, to the Kerry campaign, and they still believe the economy remains a strong issue for them and the anxieties about what‘s going on in Iraq. But I do think that they seem to be kick-starting now their campaign tonight. He won‘t be wind surfing off Nantucket, he‘ll be out in the heart of one of the battleground states, Ohio, defending his honor and his record.
MATTHEWS: Well, the record is the issue, Tom. It seems to me that they‘ve had a three-layer attack. Coordinated or not, it‘s been effective. First of all, go after his record in Vietnam as a soldier and the medals he received. Then after his performance before the Senate Intelligence—or the Senate Foreign Relations Committee attacking the war and the warriors back in ‘71. And then the roll-out last night of the attack on his Senate voting record on security questions. How does John Kerry deflect that kind of an onslaught, which has been so developed over the last couple of weeks?
BROKAW: Well, I think what‘s striking to a lot of us is that he must have anticipated, or someone should have anticipated in his campaign, this was coming here. The first rule of politics is, Don‘t let the opposition define you. He knew that the Republicans would be going well after the Democrats in their convention. They would be right on the cusp of the beginning, which is Labor Day, of the traditional campaign. And they‘ve spent most of this week raising doubts about John Kerry‘s fitness to command. And they had, as you said earlier, a kind of run-up to that with that massive ad campaign, or well-targeted campaign, probably is a better way to describe it, of the swifties, the anti-Kerry Vietnam veterans. Now he‘s starting from a little deep in the hole, in terms of trying to pull himself out of that.
RUSSERT: Chris, this may...
MATTHEWS: Does he have to spend a lot—Tim, does he have to spend a lot of money early on in this two-month stretch between now and November 2 simply to clear up the problem created by the swifties and the Republicans in the last two weeks?
RUSSERT: Well, they hope to do that by dropping significant amounts of money in television ads, particularly in Ohio, Nevada, by showing leadership on issues like health care, jobs, Yucca Mountain waste depository in Nevada. Nothing specific yet on veterans‘ issues or on the war.
But Chris, this may be the turning point for John Kerry that we saw in the primary season...
RUSSERT: ... when he was on the verge, after being the frontrunner for a year, of losing the nomination, running fourth in Iowa, he looked in the abyss and said, You‘ve got to get it together and start fighting and show some passion. Perhaps at midnight tonight, we may see this end run by John Kerry, the great finisher, a 60-day sprint, because he realizes that the Republicans have gotten a bump. They have regained the momentum. And he now has to get this race back on the economy and Iraq or he‘s not going to win.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you for you...
MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Tom.
BROKAW: I was just going to say, Chris, we‘ll know whether he thinks he‘s in trouble or not on whether he takes out that second mortgage on his home again.
MATTHEWS: That‘s right. Well, that was the first abyss. This is the second. Thank you very much, Tom and Tim. We‘ll check back with you to see what you think, both of you, of the president‘s remarks, which are coming tonight. The big speech, the big night, is tonight. It‘s all over tonight for this convention, sad to say. In about 25 minutes, George Pataki of New York, the Empire State, will have introduced the president. And then at the top of the hour, it‘s the big moment. It‘s the president‘s moment. He‘s going to take to the podium and show his stuff.
You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Republican national convention on MSNBC.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kerry! Kerry! Kerry!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kerry! Kerry! Kerry!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kerry! Kerry! Kerry!
SEN. ZELL MILLER (D), GEORGIA: I have knocked on the door of this man‘s soul and found someone home, a God-fearing man with a good heart and a spine of tempered steel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kerry! Kerry! Kerry!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kerry! Kerry! Kerry!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kerry! Kerry! Kerry!
MATTHEWS: We‘re looking at a live picture of 29th Street in New York and 8th Avenue, just outside Madison Square Garden, where the convention‘s being held. Between 3,000 to 5,000 protesters are in that area alone. There are some pro-Bush demonstrators shouting to the anti-Bush protesters. But so far, police say the demonstration‘s been orderly and there‘s been no violence. The NYPD tells NBC News tonight that there‘s been a total of 28 arrests in this city just tonight regarding this convention.
Let‘s go down to the convention floor now to NBC‘s Campbell Brown—
CAMPBELL BROWN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Chris, I‘m in the Texas delegation right now with Liz Rozier. And you told me you always had some interest in politics, but you developed a real passion for it because of the war in Iraq, and it‘s because your brother, a lieutenant in the Army, was killed in Iraq. And I know, given how personal it is for you to talk about it, what do you want to hear from the president about the war tonight?
LIZ ROZIER, TEXAS DELEGATE: Well, I‘d like to see his plan for Iraq come forward. I mean, we already know what he wants, but I‘d like to see more—I don‘t know. I‘d just really like to see a more clear plan than we‘ve heard so far. I know he‘s got one, and I know right now he‘s ready to deliver it tonight, and tonight‘ll be the big night for him to do so.
BROWN: When you say a clear plan—a clear plan for getting American troops out of Iraq?
ROZIER: A clear plan for wrapping up what we need to wrap up, whether that brings our troops home or sends more out. We just need to finish the job, and we‘re supporting the president 100 percent in that task.
BROWN: What about the other issues that we haven‘t heard so much about in the last week, or have been overshadowed, I guess, by some of the other language about national security issues, like the economy and health care and education?
ROZIER: I think we‘ll hear from President Bush on those tonight, and I think it‘ll be a good thing for him to discuss them because President—excuse me—Senator Kerry has not addressed those issues. And I don‘t think he has a very good record, and therefore, you know, President Bush will come out the obvious winner in that debate.
BROWN: Well, Liz Rozier, it‘s good to talk to you.
And we want to go now, Chris, to my colleague, David Gregory, who‘s with the Nevada delegation—David.
DAVID GREGORY, NBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Campbell, thanks a lot. I‘m here with Senator Ensign of Nevada. Thanks very much for being with me. Let me ask you a political question. Nevada‘s a state that this campaign‘s more worried about than they were just a month, two months ago. What‘s happened?
SEN. JOHN ENSIGN ®, NEVADA: Well, we were a very close state last time. President Bush only won our state by a couple of points. Ralph Nader was certainly an influence in our state. And it‘s a battleground state. We‘re a—people represent probably a third Republican, a third Democrat and a third independent, so there‘s a lot of swing voters there. And both of the campaigns are paying a lot of attention to our state.
GREGORY: You got a lot of veterans in Nevada, in your judgment, many of them, perhaps, influenced by some of these swift boat ads against Kerry. They also have feelings about the war and anxiety about the war. What do you want the president to say about the war on terror, about the war in Iraq, specifically, to speak to those voters?
ENSIGN: Well, you know, I want to hear more and more stories about the successes in Iraq. I‘ve been there twice myself. I happened to be there when we caught—the day we caught Saddam Hussein. And every time I go there, every time I talk to our military who have come back from Iraq or who are there, they tell us about the successes. And they‘ve very upset that those successes aren‘t being highlighted in the media. And I hope that the president talks about a few of those because it isn‘t nearly as dire as what people are portraying on television.
I know people love negative news, but there really are a lot of successes, and we need to hear what a great job that our military is doing over there. There is hope. I believe it is critical to the global war on terrorism that we succeed in Iraq. Regardless of whether anybody supported the war or not, we must succeed. Now that we‘re there, we must succeed in Iraq.
GREGORY: We‘ve got new jobs numbers coming out, the economy a big issue in this campaign, obviously, not as big of an issue, frankly, at this convention. Those job numbers come out. How big of an impact do they have tomorrow and then down the stretch of this campaign?
ENSIGN: Well, I believe the economy is doing incredibly well. You know, we can always do better, but it is doing well. But most of the American people have to believe that. In 1992, obviously, with Clinton and Bush running, we had come out of a recession, but the American people didn‘t know we‘d come out of the recession. So there has to be the perception the economy is doing well. It can‘t be just doing well.
GREGORY: You‘ve got a lot of retirees in Nevada, obviously. There‘s a lot of talk—we‘re going to hear it from the president tonight—about rehauling Social Security, something you talked about four years ago, if he gets a second term. That going to scare some of your senior voters, older Americans in your state?
ENSIGN: Listen, I‘m a United States senator now, and I ran on making sure that Social Security is there for future generations. We protect it for seniors today, but we need a new retirement system for younger voters, for people who are middle-class people paying into a system that, frankly, will be bankrupt when they go to retire unless we get a better investment. Social Security just doesn‘t return a good enough investment. Pension systems, state pension systems do. We ought to model Social Security reform on something like that.
GREGORY: Senator Ensign, thank you very much. Chris, back up to you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, David Gregory.
In less than an hour, President George W. Bush will take to the podium of the Republican national convention. And right now, HARDBALL election respondent David Shuster joins us with a preview of coming attractions tonight—David.
DAVID SHUSTER, HARDBALL ELECTION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, while this is a unique time for our nation and our politics, we do expect to hear some themes phrases tonight from President George W. Bush that will link this speech with other speeches that have been given at Republican conventions in the past.
(voice-over): He is no stranger to the Republican national convention.
GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This administration had its chance. They have not led! We will!
SHUSTER: And tonight, President George W. Bush will have another chance to define his vision for the country and carry the torch for the Republican Party.
RICHARD M. NIXON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America is a great nation.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... a kinder and gentler nation.
RONALD WILSON REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... a shining city on a hill.
SHUSTER: In a break with tradition, President Bush will address delegates from what could be described as a theater in the round, but that doesn‘t mean he won‘t follow the tenets of history. GOP rule No. 1: Be a champion for unity.
SEN. BARRY GOLDWATER (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We are tonight a world divided!
REAGAN: I want my candidacy to unify our country.
DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... to unite us wherever we have been divided.
SHUSTER: Rule No.2: Accentuate the positive.
REAGAN: America has the strongest economic...
GEORGE H.W. BUSH: ... growth in our entire history!
GERALD R. FORD, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My fellow Americans, I like what I see.
SHUSTER: Of course, if you are an incumbent, there‘s nothing wrong with taking a jab at Capitol Hill.
FORD: Washington is not the problem. Their Congress is the problem!
GEORGE H.W. BUSH: I have ridden stationary bikes that can move faster than the United States House of Representatives!
SHUSTER: Other themes: Remember your Republican forefathers.
SEN. ROBERT DOLE (R-KS), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Tonight this hall belongs to the party of Lincoln.
FORD: We will make sure that the party of Lincoln remains the party of equal rights!
REAGAN: Let me add, in the party of Lincoln, there is no room for intolerance.
SHUSTER: Be tough on defense.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH: We destroyed a threat, freed a people and locked a tyrant in the prison of his own country!
DOLE: If you harm one American, you harm all Americans!
SHUSTER: Remember to fight for tax cuts.
REAGAN: Will Rogers once said he never met a man he didn‘t like.
Well, if I could paraphrase Will, our friends in the other party have never met a tax they didn‘t like.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH: Read my lips. No new taxes!
SHUSTER: And if your material worked before, use it again.
NIXON: I happen to believe that their program would be disastrous...
NIXON: ... would be disastrous to the cause of peace in the world.
SHUSTER: In the end, no matter what President Bush does tonight, he will have attention from Americans across the country. And for this close election, a stirring speech in the spirit of conventions past could make a crucial difference.
BUSH: I believe this will be a tough race.
EISENHOWER: The road that leads to November 4 is a fighting road.
GOLDWATER: And you and I are going to fight for the goodness of our land...
REAGAN: ... in the big cities, the small towns...
FORD: And the plain truth is...
GEORGE H.W. BUSH: I will keep America moving forward...
DOLE: ... for I am convinced that America‘s best days are yet to come.
NIXON: And we will do it with a campaign such as this country has never seen before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUSTER: President George W. Bush, as opposed to some of those others, Chris, that you saw in the piece, his approval rating stands at 47 percent. His disapproval is at 48 percent...
MATTHEWS: OK, we‘re watching right now—excuse me, David. We‘re watching right now the president‘s—look at the drama of the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) car going by on the way to the convention hall, right behind us here across town, west to east. That‘s the route of all the motorcades tonight. It‘s going to the convention hall. We told you before there‘s lots of protesters moving toward the convention hall. I can assure you, the president will get through the door.
This is a great city tonight. By the way, the weather is unbelievable. It‘s like Nantucket tonight in this city, for some reason. And we‘re here in high-pressure, beautiful downtown New York, at 34th Street. This is, of course, a view of the city, as it is here in New York, not the usual Republican hang-out, but certainly, a city that has been incredibly welcoming to the Republican party. Mayor Bloomberg, a Republican, deserves a lot of credit, and the police force here. What a show they have put on, in terms of security and in terms of discipline and in terms of smiles. All the policemen who saw me were smiling. Maybe they like what I say on television. But they‘ve been great in this city. There‘s the president.
Even in Washington, Joe, when I watch the president go by—I used to wave at Clinton. Did you—would you wave at Bush?
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”: Well, you know, I—it‘s amazing. It doesn‘t matter who the president is. I would be driving sometimes at night, and you would see Bill Clinton. The light would be on in the back. He‘d be writing a speech, and you‘d just stop. It doesn‘t matter—it‘s, like, when you drive up to Capitol Hill and you see it late at night, you can see it 1,000 times, there‘s just majesty to it. It doesn‘t matter whether it‘s a Republican or a Democratic president, watching a president motorcade, very exciting.
MATTHEWS: Well, there he is. He‘s reached his destination tonight.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: And you know, the president got a very nice gift from the firefighters here in New York City last...
MATTHEWS: Well, an endorsement.
MITCHELL: It‘s called an endorsement. This is a big deal. They‘ve been fighting with Mayor Bloomberg over their pay raise, and with 9/11, of course the firefighters are local heroes.
MATTHEWS: Secret question.
MATTHEWS: Surprise, novelty information tonight, a tschotschke to take home tonight. What is the only union that has majority Republicans?
MITCHELL: The Teamsters.
MATTHEWS: The firefighters. Come on!
MATTHEWS: Teamsters probably, too, but there‘s a lot of Republican firefighters out there.
JON MEACHAM, “NEWSWEEK”: ... Jackie Pressler.
MATTHEWS: Yes, but deals were involved.
MEACHAM: We would very surprised by that.
MATTHEWS: We‘re going to thank everybody. I want to thank David Shuster. We had to truncate that. By the way, I am so proud with MSNBC for what we‘ve been able to produce in terms of the incredible editing of these special features. Nobody else has them. We brought you not just this convention and the Democratic convention, but 50 years of conventions, thanks to the incredible editing that‘s gone on to produce those pieces and incredible research to even get to the editing stage.
Anyway, coming up, Governor George Pataki of New York will take the podium. And later, the big moment for President Bush. And when we come back, we‘ll be joined by presidential historian Douglas Brinkley.
You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Republican national convention on MSNBC.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kerry! Kerry! Kerry!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kerry! Kerry! Kerry!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kerry! Kerry! Kerry!
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Republican National Convention here in New York.
This Democratic group behind me has held fast tonight. I don‘t know what it is about tonight.
In just a few minutes, Governor George Pataki of New York will take to the podium to introduce the president. And then, of course, following that, President George W. Bush is going to give the speech of the night.
NBC‘s David Gregory is on the floor with the governor of Texas, Rick Perry—David.
DAVID GREGORY, NBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Chris, thanks a lot.
And pretty close quarters here in the Texas delegation.
Governor Perry, thanks a lot for talking to us.
GOV. RICK PERRY ®, TEXAS: You‘re welcome.
GREGORY: You know your former governor very well, now the president of the United States. What does he need to do tonight?
PERRY: Well, he will lay out a very clear agenda for the next four years. He will talk about the successes that we have had over the last three and a half years. He‘ll talk about how many jobs have been created, the tax cuts that have turned this economy around.
He will talk about how the world has changed in the last three and a half years, whether it‘s the war on terrorism or whether it‘s how people live their lives and whether it‘s a mom and a dad having to do a couple of jobs and making those ends meet.
GREGORY: Who is he reaching tonight? Who is he trying to reach?
Looking beyond this hall, who does he have to talk to?
PERRY: Well, I think he is going to be talking to all of the Americans out there, but, obviously, he is going to be talking to those undecideds out there. And, frankly, I think there‘s a lot more undecideds than maybe what the polls show.
It‘s the people out there who are trying to make ends meet, the people that realize that the government is taking too much of their money. It‘s the person maybe in a rural county that doesn‘t have access to a doctor, an obstetrician that‘s not there to take care of a wife that is expecting a baby because of the frivolous lawsuits that are overwhelming us.
GREGORY: There is anxiety about aspects of this president‘s leadership, whether it‘s in the war on terror, the war in Iraq, the economy. How does he speak to that anxiety among those undecideds tonight?
PERRY: There‘s anxiety in the world all over. And I think those people who are anxious about what‘s happening in the world are looking for stable leadership, someone who clearly says, we are going to fight these people on their soil, not let them come and attack us on ours.
He is going to be the man who says to those individuals who need more money that government is not going to take more of it away from you. He is the president that is going to say, I am going to push through a major national tort reform plan, so that you have access to appropriate health care. That‘s what you will hear George Bush say.
GREGORY: Governor Perry, thanks very much.
PERRY: You‘re welcome.
GREGORY: Good to see you—Chris, back to you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, David Gregory.
We‘re joined right now by presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, who is an NBC News analyst.
We just heard the governor say in a way of presenting, I think—we can‘t talk about this embargoed material, but they can.
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, NBC ANALYST: Right.
MATTHEWS: They are out there pitching the idea that the president is going to speak tonight about new, innovative stuff. That‘s pretty scary, isn‘t it, to try out new material on national television like that?
BRINKLEY: Or recycle old material, Chris.
I think he is going to have to get the compassionate conservatism going again. It‘s been gone the last few years. This has been a very foreign policy-oriented, war on terror, 9/11 convention. And I think he is going to have to hit some of the themes of Social Security, education, jobs, and present it that he does care about working people in Ohio, Iowa, and other states.
MATTHEWS: What do you think the thinking is here? Because every time a Republican president, starting with Ronald Reagan, would propose a reform in Social Security, the Democrats went about a drill. They would alert all the older organizations who represent senior citizens and say to them, they are out to basically savage Social Security again. They didn‘t like the program when it about in the 1930s. And they‘re out to kill it now.
Doesn‘t that automatically pump up the Democrats, because it gives them an issue that they are good at?
BRINKLEY: That‘s a good point.
Franklin Roosevelt is the father of Social Security. And it‘s been a great Democratic issue, and they run on it constantly. The Republicans always say that the Democrats are trying to scare the seniors. But I think particularly on the prescription drug issue and health care, John Kerry seems to be polling very well. I think they are going to want to make some inroads in that tonight.
And I also think President Bush had a very bad State of the Union address earlier this year. But since then, he has been on the campaign. I heard you talking to Laura Ingraham earlier about seeing him in Minnesota. I think he has got his routine down. And I think he is going to give a kind of folksy echo of Giuliani on foreign affairs, but also deal with domestic issues.
MATTHEWS: Remember how the cavalry would come out of the fort to fight the Indians? I think he is coming out of the fort to fight about the future. And that‘s going to be very nervy.
New York Governor George Pataki is coming out the podium right now.
Let‘s listen up. This guy wants to be president. He is about to introduce one.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
GOV. GEORGE PATAKI ®, NEW YORK: Thank you. Thank you.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
Thank you. Thank you.
Delegates and friends, I have been governor of this state for 10 years, through challenge...
... through challenge and triumph. And tonight is a great New York night.
I‘m going to be brief, because tonight we hear from President George W. Bush.
The past few evenings we‘ve spoken of September 11th, of our heroes and of those we lost.
But there‘s a part of this story that has never fully been told. I‘d like to tell it.
After September 11th, our tourism industry was hit hard. Do you know what the people of Oregon did? A thousand people from Oregon came to New York and rented 1,000 hotel rooms so our workers and desk clerks and waiters could keep their jobs.
Where is the Oregon delegation?
Oregon, please stand? Thank you.
After September 11th, the people of Iowa heard that our guys at Ground Zero were getting cold, working through the night. So Iowa rushed 1,500 quilts to help keep them warm.
Iowa delegation will you please stand? Thank you.
Pennsylvania, where are you?
Five brothers in your state—five brothers in your state had been saving for years to go to Disney World. They had saved almost $900.
After September 11th, the boys drove to Brooklyn to a fire house that just lost eight men. They gave their Disney World money to the relief fund.
Pennsylvania, you raised those boys.
Please stand. Thank you.
Now, I could tell a story like this about every single state in the country. But there was, of course, another state.
It woke up one morning and walked the kids to school, and suddenly the streets were full of sirens and there was fire in the sky.
You know what they did, the people of this state?
They charged into the towers. They stood on line like soldiers to give blood.
And then, in the days and nights that followed, the tough men and women of our great city came forward.
They quieted the fire and dug us out of grief. They got into trucks and went to Ground Zero, the construction workers and iron workers, our police officers and firefighters.
And the people of our city stood in the dark each night, waving flags, and calling out, “God bless you,” as the trucks hurtled by.
And the men and women on those trucks waved back as if to say, “Hey, no problem.”
This great state rolled up its sleeves, looked terrorism straight in the face and spat in its eye.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you New York.
On that terrible day, a nation became a neighborhood. All Americans became New Yorkers.
So what I‘ve wanted to do for a long time was to say thank you, in front of our country, and with our children watching.
Thank you, America, from the very bottom of New York‘s heart.
And now, we have some business to do.
Every four years people say, “This is the most important election of our lifetime.” This time it‘s true.
We have a choice between two very different men, different views, different histories.
I know them both. We were at college together, the president a year behind me, Senator Kerry a year ahead.
John Kerry was head of the Liberal Union, I was head of the Conservative Union.
We never got to debate back then. But the senator has asked for a full and frank discussion. Well, let‘s start now.
I want to help voters compare President Bush‘s record of achievement with Senator Kerry‘s. That way they‘ll be able to see the difference, which is that President Bush has a record of achievement.
Almost four years ago, George W. Bush raised his right hand and took the oath of office. And from the first, he showed us something we hadn‘t seen in a while. When he said he was going to do something, he meant it. And then he did it.
Given recent history, that‘s amazing.
He inherited a recession. And then came September 11th. But George Bush said he would turn around the economy and create new jobs.
He said he‘d do it. And he did.
He said he would cut taxes on the middle class and ease the tax burden on all Americans.
He said he‘d do it. And he did.
He said he‘d help small businesses, protect Social Security and expand home ownership.
He said he‘d do it. And he did.
He said he‘d apply tougher standards to our schools. He‘d help our seniors get the prescription drug coverage they need.
He said he‘d do it. And he did.
And George Bush said he‘d fight to allow the power of faith to help our young and help our troubled.
He said he‘d do it. And he did.
There‘s much more, but you get the point.
George W. Bush says what he means, he means what he says. You can trust him.
Well, what can we say of Senator Kerry? He was for the war and then he was against the war. He was for it, but he wouldn‘t fund it. Then he‘d fund it, but he wasn‘t for it. He was for the Patriot Act until he was against the Patriot Act. Or was he against it until he was for it? I forget. He probably does, too.
This is a candidate who has to Google his own name to find out where he stands.
You saw their convention a few weeks ago. They had a slogan: “Hope is on the way.” But with all their flip-flopping and zig- zagging their real slogan should be, “Hype is on the way.”
You know, as Republicans we‘re lucky.
This fall we‘re going to win one for the Gipper.
But our opponents, they‘re going lose one with the Flipper.
I thank God that on September 11th, we had a president who didn‘t wring his hands and wonder what America had done wrong to deserve this attack.
I thank God we had a president who understood that America was attacked, not for what we had done wrong, but for what we do right.
The president took strong action to protect our country. That sounds like something any president would do. How I wish that were so.
You know the history. Osama bin Laden declared war on America—and then came the attacks—the first World Trade Center, the embassies, the USS Cole, hundreds dead, thousands injured.
How I wish the administration at that time, in those years, had done something.
How I wished they had moved to protect us. But they didn‘t do it.
On September 11th, al Qaeda attacked again. But this time they made a terrible mistake. There‘s one thing they didn‘t bank on. They didn‘t bank on George W. Bush.
He didn‘t run from history. He didn‘t run from history; he faced it.
George Bush raised our spirits. He came to New York, and stood on that smoking heap, looked at our heroes and said: I can hear you, and soon the whole world will hear you.
He declared a new doctrine: The United States would find and remove terrorists, whoever they are and wherever they are. And if you harbor them, there will be hell to pay.
He mobilized our forces and went to Afghanistan, where the United States fought and won a war.
al Qaeda camps were pulverized, the Taliban deposed.
George Bush protected our country, and he protects it still.
With supreme guts and rightness, President Bush went into Iraq. The U.S. had asked for peace, went to the U.N. time and again, asked Saddam to step aside. But Saddam would not be moved.
So President Bush moved him.
Our American troops, our citizen soldiers, and the coalition of the willing moved him. And soon a dictator who had used poison gas on his own people was found cowering in the earth.
Some people have called this an abuse of power. I call it progress.
There are those who still say that there was no reason to liberate Iraq. They ask about weapons of mass destruction.
On September 11th in New York we learned that in the hands of a monster, a box cutter is a weapon of mass destruction.
And Saddam Hussein was a monster, a walking, talking weapon of mass destruction.
It is good for the world that he is gone.
Where does Senator Kerry stand on all this? In Boston, he said that in the future “any attack would be met with a swift and certain response.”
Well, respectfully, Senator, that‘s not good enough. We‘ve already been attacked, time and again.
And President Bush understands we can‘t just wait for the next attack. We have to go after them, in their training camps, in their hiding places, in their spider holes, before they have the chance to attack us again.
Senator Kerry says—Senator Kerry says, “America should go to war not when it wants to go to war but when it has to go to war.”
Well, Senator, the firefighters and cops who ran into those burning towers and died on September 11th didn‘t want to go to war. They were heroes in a war they didn‘t even know existed. America did not choose this war. But we have a president who chooses to win it.
AUDIENCE: Four more years. Four more years. Four more years.
This is no ordinary time. This is no ordinary time. The stakes could not be higher. Fate has handed our generation a grave new threat to freedom. And fortune has given us a leader who will defend that freedom. This is no ordinary time.
And George W. Bush is no ordinary leader.
I‘m a New Yorker.
I‘m a New Yorker. We‘ve got a lot of feeling deep down, though we don‘t always show it.
But let me ask you: What is this election about if it isn‘t about our love of freedom?
A love for all we are, and can be—for that old Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, for Constitution Hall, for that island, Ellis Island, where the whole world‘s people came to share in our freedom.
And love, too, for that statue in New York‘s great grand harbor. That noble statue that greeted the lonely, and seemed by her very grandeur to be telling them, “Take heart, take heart, it‘s going to be better here.”
We had to close her down after September 11th. But we opened her again a few weeks ago.
That was a good day.
And now she stands, tall and immovable, lighting the way to dreams, that symbol of hope, that Statue of Liberty.
Ladies and gentlemen, on this night and in this fight there is another who holds high that torch of freedom. He is one of those men God and fate somehow lead to the fore in times of challenge. And he is lighting the way to better times, a safer land, and hope.
He is my friend, he is our president, President George W. Bush.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MATTHEWS: Well, that was New York Governor George Pataki.
And not to take anything away from his remarks, which were highly ennobling, I think, in many ways, and certainly captured the sentiment of this convention here and probably those watching across the country—he is definitely one of the contenders to succeed George Bush, should he be reelected, or, if he is not reelected, to run for the presidency if it‘s an open seat, as far as Republicans are concerned.
This convention has been a great rollout for people like Rudy Giuliani and John McCain, and this gentlemen, the governor of New York. I think we have seen the best and brightest of the Republican field already. And we are about to hear from Former Senator Fred, Thompson, who has become a New Yorker of a different kind. He‘s on “Law & Order.” And we are going to be hearing from him pretty soon. He‘s, of course, been an actor, been a senator, gone back to being an actor again, impressive guy.
He is going to be coming here.
Jon Meacham, you have got your eyes lit up. It is interesting to see this rollout of the successors.
JON MEACHAM, “NEWSWEEK”: Absolutely.
It does show that there‘s a deep bench. And I think the Republicans are definitely doing this consciously. If you look at the arc of the week, they started in the middle. They moved slowly right. Then they‘ve gone back to the middle. So the setup for President Bush has been quite brilliantly done.
Of course, the question later tonight is going to be in Ohio at midnight, when John Kerry finally comes out swinging against this four-day wall-to-wall attack on him and his character. And that‘s going to be very, very important as this knife fight goes forward toward November. George Pataki gave an ennobling speech about freedom. One hopes that the next 59 days will be ennobling, but I suspect it won‘t be.
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”: Well, the question is -
· and I heard Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert talk about attacks on character this week, also attacks on patriotism, their words. That‘s what the Democrats are going to try to frame this as.
You know, I don‘t—even though I have been critical of this convention focusing more on Kerry than George Bush, I don‘t know that saying somebody has a weak record on defense is attacking somebody‘s patriotism. I think you can be a pacifist and a patriot. But that doesn‘t mean John Kerry is not going to come out swinging tonight. I think it‘s about time he does that.
But, again, I think tonight and the headlines tomorrow are all going to be about what George Bush does over the next hour.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I think that—you know, I agree with you on that, Joe, because I think that it‘s one thing to criticize a voting record. That‘s what we do. That‘s called politics. The other is to turn the motive around to say that he is, for example, rooting for the Taliban.
MATTHEWS: I don‘t think we heard that this week. Or rooting for the terrorists, we didn‘t hear that. It was simply he was knocked for having a liberal voting record. We are going to have to—by the way, what stuns me today, we know that Kerry is coming back with big counterassault at midnight.
Why hasn‘t he come back all day long with a defense of his voting record in the United States Senate on security matters? Where is that counterpunch?
SCARBOROUGH: Why do you wait until midnight? Why don‘t you do it earlier in the afternoon, when you know you are going to share the front page of the morning newspaper with the president?
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: I don‘t think they felt that there was any way they could get into this story. I mean, they have been trying all week to talk to us, to talk to reporters. They didn‘t feel that they could get into this story.
They had to wait until after the president had his moment, because all eyes are focused on the president.
MEACHAM: Exactly. And it‘s a great principle of warfare to keep your powder dry. And it may just be that he has been...
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s been dry, baby. It‘s been dry for a month.
MEACHAM: Well, we‘ll see.
MATTHEWS: Is it smart for John Kerry not to defend his voting record on security matters, as we know he is not going to do tonight, but attack the other side for attacking his patriotism? Is that smart? Or should he just say, wait a minute, you made this point; you are wrong; you made this point; you are wrong? Why doesn‘t he do that?
J.C. WATTS, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Well, Chris, I think the point has been made, just—Andrea just said it.
I think you do have to defend yourself, not just tonight. He should have been doing it earlier in the week as well.
MATTHEWS: Sorry to interrupt.
We have to go to the video. Fred Thompson is introducing this video on the president.
FRED THOMPSON, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: ... story so far. The story is in part, but inescapably the story of a man, which leads inescapably to the fact of who he is.
The great mystery of any presidency is that the sovereign people of these United States choose a leader and then only, afterwards, in the day by day, do they find out who that person really is. History reveals this. History throws you what it throws you, and you never know what‘s coming.
THOMPSON: Some things about George Bush are well known, his lack of pretension, a sincerity both of action and purpose, a tendency toward candor. There‘s a sense of humor that is natural. He has even been known to kid around with folks.
But some things about him aren‘t well-known at all. When you know him and work with him, what you‘re struck by is not the secrets that you have to keep, but the truths you love to tell. He doesn‘t like to talk about them. But maybe when we look back at this era and this man, we will ask, what do a bullhorn and a baseball have in common? What truths can they tell? Which is another way of saying, what did George W. Bush do? Who did he become? And how did that help us?
Let me introduce you to 69-year-old Bob Beckwith with the New York City Fire Department. Retired, he volunteered to help at ground zero. And this was his first day on the job. He was clearing debris off a crushed fire truck when he was told that someone was coming.
BOB BECKWITH, FDNY VOLUNTEER: And then, all of a sudden, who comes around the side of the rig but the president. I said to myself, oh, my God. I helped him on to the rig. I said, are you OK, Mr. President? He said, I‘m good.
I went to leave, and he said, where are you going? And I said, I was told to get off. He put his arm around me and said, no, you stay right with me.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you, and the people...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
BUSH: The people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
THOMPSON: Some things in history aren‘t planned. They can‘t be planned. You just try to rise to the occasion. Just about everybody did those days.
But a funny thing about George W. Bush. He was always trying to comfort everyone, and then he would always come back saying how inspired he had been by them.
Arlene Howard was at the Javits Center that day in New York when the president went to meet with the families. She had just lost her son, another man who had rushed to the fire. Mrs. Howard told the president she wanted to make sure what George Howard was and who he had been was never forgotten. So she gave the president of the United States her son‘s policeman‘s badge. George Bush took that badge and put it in his pocket.
And then he told the nation he would keep it with him to remember all who had lived so heroically. And to this day, Arlene Howard is his friend. He just rose to the occasion. Just about everybody did those days.
The president and the first lady had gone to Walter Reed Hospital to meet with soldiers wounded in Afghanistan. In ward 57, the president met Sergeant Mike McNaughton of the Louisiana National Guard, who had lost his right leg to a land mine.
When Sergeant McNaughton revealed that he had been an avid runner before he was wounded, the president told him, when you‘re better, come and run with me. So that‘s what he did.
SGT. MIKE MCNAUGHTON, LOUISIANA NATIONAL GUARD: We were waiting in the White House when he came around the corner. And he said, are you ready? And I said, Mr. President, I‘m stretched. I‘m ready to go. Let‘s go.
THOMPSON: They ran the track three times, three laps on the South Lawn and then they just hung out for a while.
It‘s hard for a picture to capture the presidency. But maybe a story can tell us something about its meaning. It was October 2001. America had just been hit and America was uneasy. And some were afraid. He knew. There was a baseball game, the World Series. And it was held in New York.
New York was trying to come back. And he knew.
And, suddenly, the White House was calling the mayor‘s office, which was calling Yankee Stadium. It was the first night of the big series in New York. And look who arrived at Yankee Stadium. Derek Jeter bumped into him before he walked out to the mound, and he said, hey, Mr. President, where are you going to throw from? The president said, I hadn‘t thought about it. I guess the base of the mound.
And Derek Jeter said, this is New York. And in New York, you throw from the mound. And the president laughed. He was wearing a heavy Secret Service bulletproof vest and he could hardly move his arms. But he knew. So George Bush took the mound.
What he did that night, that man in the arena, he helped us come back. That‘s the story of this presidency. With the heart of a president, he told us, you keep pitching. No matter what, you keep pitching. No matter what, you go to the game. You go to the mound. You find the plate, and you throw, and you become who you are.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you all.
Mr. Chairman, delegates, fellow citizens, I‘m honored by your support, and I accept your nomination for president of the United States.
When I said those words four years ago, none of us could have envisioned what these years would bring. In the heart of this great city, we saw tragedy arrive on a quiet morning. We saw the bravery of rescuers grow with danger. We learned of passengers on a doomed plane who died with a courage that frightened their killers.
We have seen a shaken economy rise to its feet. And we have seen Americans in uniform storming mountain strongholds and charging through sandstorms and liberating millions with acts of valor that would make the men of Normandy proud.
Since 2001, Americans have been given hills to climb and found the strength to climb them.
Now, because we have made the hard journey, we can see the valley below. Now, because we have faced challenges with resolve, we have historic goals within our reach and greatness in our future.
We will build a safer world and a more hopeful America, and nothing will hold us back.
In the work we have done and the work we will do, I am fortunate to have a superb vice president.
I have counted on Dick Cheney‘s calm and steady judgment in difficult days, and I‘m honored to have him at my side.
I am grateful to share my walk in life with Laura Bush.
Americans have come to see the goodness and kindness and strength I first saw 26 years ago, and we love our first lady.
I‘m a fortunate father of two spirited, intelligent and lovely young women.
I‘m blessed with a sister and brothers who are my closest friends.
And I will always be the proud and grateful son of George and Barbara Bush.
My father served eight years at the side of another great American, Ronald Reagan.
His spirit of optimism and good will and decency are in this hall and are in our hearts and will always define our party.
Two months from today, voters will make a choice based on the records we have built, the convictions we hold and the vision that guides us forward. A presidential election is a contest for the future. Tonight I will tell you where I stand, what I believe, and where I will lead this country in the next four years.
AUDIENCE: Four more years. Four more years.
I believe every child can learn and every school must teach, so we passed the most important federal education reform in history. Because we acted, children are making sustained progress in reading and math, America‘s schools are getting better, and nothing will hold us back.
I believe we have a moral responsibility to honor America‘s seniors, so I brought Republicans and Democrats together to strengthen Medicare. Now seniors are getting immediate help buying medicine. Soon every senior will be able to get prescription drug coverage, and nothing will hold us back.
I believe in the energy and innovative spirit of America‘s workers, entrepreneurs, farmers and ranchers, so we unleashed that energy with the largest tax relief in a generation.
Because we acted, our economy is growing again and creating jobs, and nothing will hold us back.
I believe the most solemn duty of the American president is to protect the American people. If America shows uncertainty or weakness in this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy.
This will not happen on my watch.
I am running for president with a clear and positive plan to build a safer world and a more hopeful America. I am running with a compassionate conservative philosophy: that government should help people improve their lives, not try to run their lives.
I believe this nation wants steady, consistent, principled leadership.
And that is why, with your help, we will win this election.
The story of America is the story of expanding liberty, an ever-widening circle, constantly growing to reach further and include more.
Our nation‘s founding commitment is still our deepest commitment: In our world, and here at home, we will extend the frontiers of freedom.
The times in which we work and live are changing dramatically. The workers of our parents‘ generation typically had one job, one skill, one career, often with one company that provided health care and a pension. And most of those workers were men. Today, workers change jobs, even careers, many times during their lives. And in one of the most dramatic shifts our society has seen, two-thirds of all moms also work outside the home.
This changed world can be a time of great opportunity for all Americans to earn a better living, support your family, and have a rewarding career. And government must take your side.
Many of our most fundamental systems—the tax code, health coverage, pension plans, worker training—were created for the world of yesterday, not tomorrow. We will transform these systems so that all citizens are equipped, prepared, and thus truly free to make your own choices and pursue your own dreams.
My plan begins with providing the security and opportunity of a growing economy. We now compete in a global market that provides new buyers for our goods, but new competition for our workers. To create more jobs in America, America must be the best place in the world to do business.
To create jobs, my plan will encourage investment and expansion by restraining federal spending, reducing regulation and making the tax relief permanent.
To create jobs, we will make our country less dependent on foreign sources of energy.
To create jobs, we will expand trade and level the playing field to sell American goods and services across the globe.
And we must protect small-business owners and workers from the explosion of frivolous lawsuits that threaten jobs across our country.
Another drag on our economy is the current tax code, which is a complicated mess, filled with special interest loopholes, saddling our people with more than 6 billion hours of paperwork and headache every year. The American people deserve—and our economic future demands—a simpler, fairer, pro-growth system.
In a new term, I will lead a bipartisan effort to reform and simplify the federal tax code.
Another priority in a new term will be to help workers take advantage of the expanding economy to find better and higher-paying jobs. In this time of change, many workers want to go back to school to learn different or higher-level skills. So we will double the number of people served by our principal job training program and increase funding for community colleges.
I know that with the right skills, American workers can compete with anyone, anywhere in the world.
In this time of change, opportunity in some communities is more distant than in others. To stand with workers in poor communities and those that have lost manufacturing, textile, and other jobs, we will create American opportunity zones.
In these areas, we‘ll provide tax relief and other incentives to attract new business and improve housing and job training to bring hope and work throughout all of America.
As I‘ve traveled the country, I‘ve met many workers and small- business owners who have told me that they are worried they cannot afford health care. More than half of the uninsured are small- business employees and their families.
In a new term, we must allow small firms to join together to purchase insurance at the discounts available to big companies.
We will offer a tax credit to encourage small businesses and their employees to set up health savings accounts and provide direct help for low-income Americans to purchase them. These accounts give workers the security of insurance against major illness, the opportunity to save tax-free for routine health expenses, and the freedom of knowing you can take your account with you whenever you change jobs.
We will provide low-income Americans with better access to health care. In a new term, I will ensure every poor county in America has a community or rural health center.
As I have traveled our country, I‘ve met too many good doctors, especially OB/GYNs, who are being forced out of practice because of the high cost of lawsuits.
To make health care more affordable and accessible, we must pass medical liability reform now.
And in all we do to improve health care in America, we will make sure that health decisions are made by doctors and patients, not by bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.
In this time of change, government must take the side of working families. In a new term we will change outdated labor laws to offer comp-time and flex-time. Our laws should never stand in the way of a more family-friendly workplace.
Another priority for a new term is to build an ownership society, because ownership brings security and dignity and independence.
Thanks to our policies, home ownership in America is at an all- time high.
Tonight we set a new goal: 7 million more affordable homes in the next 10 years, so more American families will be able to open the door and say, “Welcome to my home.”
In an ownership society, more people will own their health plans and have the confidence of owning a piece of their retirement.
We‘ll always keep the promise of Social Security for our older workers.
With the huge baby boom generation approaching retirement, many of our children and grandchildren understandably worry whether Social Security will be there when they need it.
We must strengthen Social Security by allowing younger workers to save some of their taxes in a personal account, a nest egg you can call your own and government can never take away.
In all these proposals, we seek to provide not just a government program, but a path, a path to greater opportunity, more freedom and more control over your own life.
And the path begins with our youngest Americans.
To build a more hopeful America, we must help our children reach as far as their vision and character can take them. Tonight, I remind every parent and every teacher, I say to every child: No matter what your circumstance, no matter where you live, your school will be the path to promise of America.
We are transforming our schools by raising standards and focusing on results. We are insisting on accountability, empowering parents and teachers, and making sure that local people are in charge of their schools.
By testing every child, we are identifying those who need help, and we‘re providing a record level of funding to get them that help. In northeast Georgia, Gainesville Elementary School is mostly Hispanic and 90 percent poor. And this year, 90 percent of its students passed state tests in reading and math.
The principal—the principal expresses the philosophy of his school this way: “We don‘t focus on what we can‘t do at this school; we focus on what we can do. And we do whatever it takes to get kids across the finish line.”
See, this principal is challenging the soft bigotry of low expectations.
And that is the spirit of our education reform and the commitment of our country: No dejaremos a ningun nino atras. We will leave no child behind.
We are making progress. We are making progress. And there is more to do.
In this time of change, most new jobs are filled by people with at least two years of college, yet only about one in four students gets there. In our high schools, we will fund early intervention programs to help students at risk. We will place a new focus on math and science.
As we make progress, we will require a rigorous exam before graduation. By raising performance in our high schools and expanding Pell Grants for low and middle income families, we will help more Americans start their career with a college diploma.
America‘s children must also have a healthy start in life. In a new term, we will lead an aggressive effort to enroll millions of poor children who are eligible but not signed up for the government‘s health insurance programs. We will not allow a lack of attention or information to stand between these children and the health care they need.
Anyone who wants more details on my agenda can find them online. The web address is not very imaginative, but it‘s easy to remember: georgewbush.com.
These changing times can be exciting times of expanded opportunity.
And here, you face a choice. My opponent‘s policies are dramatically different from ours.
Senator Kerry opposed Medicare reform and health savings accounts. After supporting my education reforms, he now wants to dilute them. He opposes legal and medical liability reform. He opposed reducing the marriage penalty, opposed doubling the child credit, opposed lowering income taxes for all who pay them.
Wait a minute, wait a minute.
To be fair, there are some things my opponent is for.
He‘s proposed more than $2 trillion in new federal spending so far, and that‘s a lot, even for a senator from Massachusetts.
And to pay for that spending, he is running on a platform of increasing taxes. And that‘s the kind of promise a politician usually keeps. His policies of tax and spend, of expanding government rather than expanding opportunity, are the politics of the past. We are on the path to the future, and we‘re not turning back.
AUDIENCE: Four more years. Four more years. Four more years.
In this world of change, some things do not change: the values we try to live by, the institutions that give our lives meaning and purpose. Our society rests on a foundation of responsibility and character and family commitment. Because family and work are sources of stability and dignity, I support welfare reform that strengthens family and requires work.
Because a caring society will value its weakest members, we must make a place for the unborn child.
Because religious charities provide a safety net of mercy and compassion, our government must never discriminate against them.
Because the union of a man and woman deserves an honored place in our society, I support the protection of marriage against activist judges.
And I will continue to appoint federal judges who know the difference between personal opinion and the strict interpretation of the law.
My opponent recently announced that he is the candidate of “conservative values,” which must have come as a surprise to a lot of his supporters.
Now, there are some problems with this claim. If you say the heart and soul of America is found in Hollywood, I‘m afraid you are not the candidate of conservative values.
If you voted against the bipartisan Defense of Marriage Act, which President Clinton signed, you are not the candidate of conservative values.
If you gave a speech, as my opponent did, calling the Reagan presidency eight years of “moral darkness,” then you may be a lot of things, but the candidate of conservative values is not one of them.
This election will also determine how America responds to the continuing danger of terrorism, and you know where I stand.
Three days after September the 11th, I stood where Americans died, in the ruins of the twin towers. Workers in hard hats were shouting to me, “Whatever it takes.” A fellow grabbed me by the arm, and he said, “Do not let me down.” Since that day, I wake up every morning thinking about how to better protect our country. I will never relent in defending America—whatever it takes.
AUDIENCE: USA. USA. USA.
So we have fought the terrorists across the Earth, not for pride, not for power, but because the lives of our citizens are at stake. Our strategy is clear. We have tripled funding for homeland security and trained half a million first responders because we are determined to protect our homeland.
We are transforming our military and reforming and strengthening our intelligence services. We are staying on the offensive, striking terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them here at home.
And we are working to advance liberty in the broader Middle East, because freedom will bring a future of hope and the peace we all want. And we will prevail.
Our strategy is succeeding. Four years ago, Afghanistan was the home base of al Qaeda. Pakistan was a transit point for terrorist groups. Saudi Arabia was fertile ground for terrorist fund-raising. Libya was secretly pursuing nuclear weapons, Iraq was a gathering threat. And al Qaeda was largely unchallenged as it planned attacks.
Today, the government of a free Afghanistan is fighting terror. Pakistan is capturing terrorist leaders. Saudi Arabia is making raids and arrests. Libya is dismantling its weapons programs. The army of a free Iraq is fighting for freedom. And more than three-quarters of al Qaeda‘s key members and associates have been detained or killed.
We have led, many have joined, and America and the world are safer.
This progress involved careful diplomacy, clear moral purpose and some tough decisions.
And the toughest came on Iraq. We knew Saddam Hussein‘s record of aggression and support for terror. We knew his long history of pursuing, even using, weapons of mass destruction. And we know that September the 11th requires our country to think differently. We must, and we will, confront threats to America before it is too late.
In Saddam Hussein, we saw a threat. Members of both political parties, including...
AUDIENCE: USA. USA. USA.
Members of both political parties, including my opponent and his running mate, saw the threat, and voted to authorize the use of force. We went to the United Nations Security Council, which passed a unanimous resolution demanding the dictator disarm, or face serious consequences. Leaders in the Middle East urged him to comply.
After more than a decade of diplomacy, we gave Saddam Hussein another chance, a final chance, to meet his responsibilities to the civilized world. He again refused.
And I faced the kind of decision that comes only to the Oval Office, a decision no president would ask for, but must be prepared to make: Do I forget the lessons of September 11th and take the word of a madman...
... or do I take action to defend our country?
Faced with that choice, I will defend America every time.
Because we acted to defend our country, the murderous regimes of Saddam Hussein and the Taliban are history, more than 50 million people have been liberated, and democracy is coming to the broader Middle East.
In Afghanistan, terrorists have done everything they can to intimidate people, yet more than 10 million citizens have registered to vote in the October presidential election, a resounding endorsement for democracy.
Despite ongoing acts of violence, Iraq now has a strong prime minister, a national council, and national elections are scheduled for January.
Our nation is standing with the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, because when America gives its word, America must keep its word.
As importantly, we are serving a vital and historic cause that will make our country safer. Free societies in the Middle East will be hopeful societies which no longer feed resentments and breed violence for export. Free governments in the Middle East will fight terrorists instead of harboring them. And that helps us keep the peace.
So our mission in Afghanistan and Iraq is clear. We will help new leaders to train their armies, and move toward elections, and get on the path of stability and democracy as quickly as possible. And then our troops will return home with the honor they have earned.
Our troops know the historic importance of our work. One Army specialist wrote home, “We are transforming a once-sick society into a hopeful place. The various terrorist enemies we are facing in Iraq,” he continued, “are really aiming at you back in the United States. This is a test of will for our country. We soldiers of yours are doing great and scoring victories in confronting the evil terrorists.” That young man is right. Our men and women in uniform are doing a superb job for America.
Tonight I want to speak to all of them and to their families: You are involved in a struggle of historic proportion. Because of your service and sacrifice, we are defeating the terrorists where they live and plan, and you‘re making America safer.
Because of you, women in Afghanistan are no longer shot in a sports stadium. Because of you, the people of Iraq no longer fear being executed and left in mass graves.
Because of you, the world is more just and will be more peaceful.
We owe you our thanks. And we owe you something more. We will give you all the resources, all the tools, and all the support you need for victory.
Again, my opponent and I have different approaches. I proposed, and the Congress overwhelmingly passed, $87 billion in funding needed by our troops doing battle in Afghanistan and Iraq. My opponent and his running mate voted against this money for bullets and fuel and vehicles and body armor.
When asked to explain his vote, the senator said, “I actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it.”
AUDIENCE: Flip-flop. Flip-flop. Flip-flop.
Then he said he was “proud” of his vote. Then, when pressed, he said it was a “complicated” matter.
There‘s nothing complicated about supporting our troops in combat.
Our allies also know the historic importance of our work. About 40 nations stand beside us in Afghanistan, and some 30 in Iraq. I deeply appreciate the courage and wise counsel of leaders like Prime Minister Howard, President Kwasniewski, Prime Minister Berlusconi and, of course, Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Again, my opponent takes a different approach. In the midst of war, he has called American allies, quote, a “coalition of the coerced and the bribed.”
That would be nations like Great Britain, Poland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Denmark, El Salvador, Australia, and others...
... allies that deserve the respect of all Americans, not the scorn of a politician.
I respect every soldier, from every country, who serves beside us in the hard work of history. America is grateful, and America will not forget.
The people we have freed won‘t forget either. Not long ago, seven Iraqi men came to see me in the Oval Office. They had Xs branded into their foreheads and their right hands had been cut off by Saddam Hussein‘s secret police, the sadistic punishment for imaginary crimes. During our emotional visit one of the Iraqi men used his new prosthetic hand to slowly write out, in Arabic, a prayer for God to bless America.
I am proud that our country remains the hope of the oppressed and the greatest force for good on this Earth.
Others understand the historic importance of our work. The terrorists know. They know that a vibrant, successful democracy at the heart of the Middle East will discredit their radical ideology of hate.
They know that men and women with hope and purpose and dignity do not strap bombs on their bodies and kill the innocent.
The terrorists are fighting freedom with all their cunning and cruelty because freedom is their greatest fear. And they should be afraid, because freedom is on the march.
I believe in the transformational power of liberty. The wisest use of American strength is to advance freedom.
As the citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq seize the moment, their example will send a message of hope throughout a vital region.
Palestinians will hear the message that democracy and reform are within their reach and so is peace with our good friend, Israel.
Young women across the Middle East will hear the message that their day of equality and justice is coming. Young men will hear the message that national progress and dignity are found in liberty, not tyranny and terror.
Reformers and political prisoners and exiles will hear the message that their dream of freedom cannot be denied forever. And as freedom advances, heart by heart, and nation by nation, America will be more secure and the world more peaceful.
America has done this kind of work before, and there have always been doubters. In 1946, 18 months after the fall of Berlin to allied forces, a journalist wrote in the New York Times wrote this: “Germany is a land in an acute stage of economic, political and moral crisis. European capitals are frightened. In every military headquarters, one meets alarmed officials doing their utmost to deal with the consequences of the occupation policy that they admit has failed,” end quote.
Maybe that same person is still around, writing editorials.
Fortunately, we had a resolute president named Truman who, with the American people, persevered, knowing that a new democracy at the center of Europe would lead to stability and peace. And because that generation of Americans held firm in the cause of liberty, we live in a better and safer world today.
The progress we and our friends and allies seek in the broader Middle East will not come easily or all at once. Yet Americans, of all people, should never be surprised by the power of liberty to transform lives and nations. That power brought settlers on perilous journeys, inspired colonies to rebellion, ended the sin of slavery, and set our nation against the tyrannies of the 20th century.
We were honored to aid the rise of democracy in Germany and Japan, Nicaragua and Central Europe and the Baltics, and that noble story goes on.
I believe that America is called to lead the cause of freedom in a new century. I believe that millions in the Middle East plead in silence for their liberty. I believe that given the chance, they will embrace the most honorable form of government ever devised by man.
I believe all these things because freedom is not America‘s gift to the world; it is the almighty God‘s gift to every man and woman in this world.
This moment in the life of our country will be remembered. Generations will know if we kept our faith and kept our word. Generations will know if we seized this moment and used it to build a future of safety and peace. The freedom of many and the future security of our nation now depend on us.
And tonight, my fellow Americans, I ask you to stand with me.
In the last four years—in the last four years, you and I have come to know each other. Even when we don‘t agree, at least you know what I believe and where I stand.
You may have noticed I have a few flaws, too. People sometimes have to correct my English.
I knew I had a problem when Arnold Schwarzenegger started doing it.
Some folks look at me and see a certain swagger, which in Texas is called “walking.”
Now and then I come across as a little too blunt, and for that we can all thank the white-haired lady sitting right up there.
One thing I have learned about the presidency is that whatever shortcomings you have, people are going to notice them; and whatever strengths you have, you‘re going to need them.
These four years have brought moments I could not foresee and will not forget. I‘ve tried to comfort Americans who lost the most on September the 11th: people who showed me a picture or told me a story so I would know how much was taken from them.
I have learned first-hand that ordering Americans into battle is the hardest decision even when it is right. I have returned the salute of wounded soldiers, some with a very tough road ahead, who say they were just doing their job. I‘ve held the children of the fallen who are told their dad or mom is a hero, but would rather just have their dad or mom.
I‘ve met with parents and wives and husbands who have received a folded flag and said a final goodbye to a soldier they loved. I am awed that so many have used those meetings to say that I am in their prayers and to offer encouragement to me.
Where does that strength like that come from? How can people so burdened with sorrow also feel such pride? It is because they know their loved one was last seen doing good because they know that liberty was precious to the one they lost. And in those military families, I have seen the character of a great nation: decent and idealistic and strong.
The world saw that spirit three miles from here, when the people of this city faced peril together and lifted a flag over the ruins and defied the enemy with their courage.
My fellow Americans, for as long as our country stands, people will look to the resurrection of New York City and they will say: Here buildings fell, and here a nation rose.
We see America‘s character in our military, which finds a way or makes one. We see it in our veterans, who are supporting military families in their days of worry. We see it in our young people, who have found heroes once again.
We see that character in workers and entrepreneurs, who are renewing our economy with their effort and optimism.
And all of this has confirmed one belief beyond doubt: Having come this far, our tested and confident nation can achieve anything.
To everything we know there is a season—a time for sadness, a time for struggle, a time for rebuilding. And now we have reached a time for hope. This young century will be liberty‘s century.
By promoting liberty abroad, we will build a safer world. By encouraging liberty at home, we will build a more hopeful America.
Like generations before us, we have a calling from beyond the stars to stand for freedom. This is the everlasting dream of America. And tonight, in this place, that dream is renewed.
Now we go forward, grateful for our freedom, faithful to our cause, and confident in the future of the greatest nation on Earth.
May God bless you, and may God continue to bless our great country.
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