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'Convention After Hours' for Sept. 3

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

Guests: Joe Trippi, Mike Barnicle, Susan Molinari, Ron Silver, Lloyd Grove, Richard Leiby, Steve Earle, John “Bradshaw” Layfield, Triumph the Insult Dog, Robin Bronk, Giancarlo Esposito

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Welcome back to the AFTER HOURS rap party.  We‘ve got one hour left.  We‘re going to make the most of it.  I‘m Joe Scarborough. 

RON REAGAN, CO-HOST:  And I‘m Ron Reagan.  Still to come tonight, we‘ve got celebrities, a wrestler and even an insult comic dog.  And keeping us rocking one more hour is jazz artist of the year Matt Schulman and the Schulman System Trio. 

SCARBOROUGH: Ron, let‘s talk for a second about -- 

REAGAN: I‘ve got to do this little thing here. 

SCARBOROUGH: That‘s a great thing. 

REAGAN: We should just chat among ourselves?

SCARBOROUGH: We can do whatever the hell (INAUDIBLE). 

REAGAN: Let‘s go shopping to Macys. 

SCARBOROUGH: Instead of that, let‘s talk about - I just wanted to ask you, we‘re wrapping up here.  We‘ve got an hour left before Barnicle really breaks out his crazy Boston stories, but I want you to compare what you saw in Boston to what you saw in New York. Let‘s forget politics, ideology, let‘s just talk about stage craft.  Who put on the better convention or did they both put on the type of convention that they needed?

REAGAN: Yes. I think they both did what they needed to do for the audience, in each case.  A bit of stage craft for you.  I didn‘t like the Madison Square Garden set if you will, as well as I liked the Boston Fleet Center set.  I just didn‘t think it was very attractive. 

SCARBOROUGH: Are you talking as you walked through it or as you see it on TV?

REAGAN: No, as you see it on TV because that‘s what it‘s intended for really is the television audience, the people in the hall may be fine.  In the round thing that happened here, I think it probably worked very well in the hall.  On television, I watched it on TV, he might as well have just gone and stood at the podium because you really didn‘t see the in the round part except in long shots.  And when the camera was in tight on Mr. Bush speaking, he could have been anywhere.  You didn‘t see that round business going on.  So a little bit of stage craft there I thought that was unnecessary, but fine, whatever they want to do.

In terms of the tone of the convention, a big difference.  Got a little thing here of the “New York Times” news, fascinating.  They counted up the words that were used in both conventions and the thing that caught my eye was that Kerry‘s name through three nights of the Republican convention, not counting this last night was mentioned 39 times by the Republicans.  Bush‘s name by the Democrats, five times in the entire convention.  They laid off of Bush during that convention, but of course that changed tonight.  John Kerry came out after Bush spoke and really lit into those guys.  It seemed like, I‘ve had about enough now of guys that he said with five deferments, telling him he‘s not patriotic, he‘s not fit to be commander in chief when he‘s done two tours of duty and is carrying shrapnel around in his body and if he keeps that up for the next few weeks, I think we got a real dog fight on our hands. 

SCARBOROUGH: I think so too. Let‘s go back to our panel. We have actor Ron Silver, former Republican Congresswoman Susan Molinari, Mike Barnicle of the “Boston Herald” and MSNBC analyst Joe Trippi, a former campaign manager for Howard Dean and a guy that transformed politics in the process.  It‘s been a long political year for you.  Talk about tonight, what did you see from the Republicans that you liked that worked or did you see from the Republicans that you think may not have worked?

JOE TRIPPI, MSNBC ANALYST: I think they had a great first and last night.  I think tonight was great. I think the fist night was great in terms of reaching out.  I think last night was a weird night.  I‘m not quite sure how the Zell Miller thing is going to play out.  Both teams did exactly what they needed to do.  I mean they both had great conventions.  Pat Buchanan was on this set with us during the Democratic convention and was—talked about how the Kerry campaign had done a great job.  I‘ll sit here and say, hey, the Bush campaign did a great job.  You got to give them credit for what they did. I agree with Ron though.  I thought that set difference was kind of strange.  I liked it when you were wide and it sort of had a town hall kind of feeling.  But that was such a rare shot that it really was just sort of president out there. 

SCARBOROUGH: I actually thought that was impressive, the stage, the circular stage, I‘m talking visually (INAUDIBLE).

RON SILVER, ACTOR: But, Ron, you know this being a performer and I certainly know it.  Beyond the visuals, how it appears to people on TV or out in the audience, your environment also affects your performance.  And I think the president, while he was at the podium, he was also surrounded by people and it gave him a sense of intimacy that allowed him to be very comfortable, very casual, still project the commander-in-chief because he had a podium but the sense of being in the round...

SCARBOROUGH: ... town hall effect I think was there

SILVER: It‘s an environment that makes him feel very comfortable.  So I thought he seemed very comfortable tonight. 

SCARBOROUGH: How much shots of Botox do you think it took to remove the smirk from the smile, because the smile was very relaxed tonight.  But very often, you get that downturn—Not that I‘m saying you‘re an expert on Botox, Ron.  Just a little joke there.  He was very relaxed and he didn‘t do the things that really tick off people even some people who like him, that smirky swaggery kind of thing, ---

SILVER: I think you‘re right.

SCARBOROUGH: Susan, he was relaxed.

SUSAN MOLINARI, FMR. REPUBLIC CONGRESSWOMAN:   He was relaxed. He was on. He was in command and he did what I think is very difficult to do.  He projected commander-in-chief and extremely likable, too.  He was just a guy that when he gave a tough statement and then he kind of broke into a smile, not the smirk, the smile.  You liked him, too.  That‘s a tough thing to do to be respected and liked in one frame and he pulled it off throughout his entire speech. 

SCARBOROUGH: President Bush joined in the chorus of convention speakers who criticized John Kerry‘s record of flip flopping in the Senate as they would put it.  But then he added this. 


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To be fair, there are some things my opponent is for.  He‘s proposed more than $2 trillion in 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. 

My opponent recently announced that he‘s the candidate of conservative values.  It must have come as a surprise to a lot of his supporters.  There‘s 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. 


SCARBOROUGH: Mike Barnicle, you know this week I‘ve been saying that John Kerry needs to fight back, he needs to get his communication team together.  The Republicans laugh at me.  They say, this ain‘t about communication.  This is about a 20-year Senate record that we‘re not going to let this guy run away from.  Respond to that. 

MIKE BARNICLE, “THE BOSTON HERALD”: Well, I think it is about communication.  I mean that‘s what the Republicans are clearly communicating, or trying to communicate it and I think probably very successfully this week out of New York.  Whether Senator Kerry chooses to respond to each and every instance of them mentioning his record, that we‘re going to find out, I think he still has to go a bit to address the Swift boat controversy which continues to hound his candidacy.  They have a new ad out within the past couple of days.  It‘s still something I think that they have injected, that the opponents of Senator Kerry have injected into the political bloodstream.  Tonight the president of the United States, I mean he was so - I thought he was very powerful, very, very powerful, very effective.  He was very human, very direct.  And he chose to use language—we spoke about this earlier, the phrase I believe which I think is critically important especially in what we call the battleground states or anywhere in America because it‘s a contrast to what you didn‘t hear in Boston and what you have not really heard yet from either John Kerry or John Edwards.  They speak in platitudes really as they did tonight, oddly enough in Ohio. 

SCARBOROUGH: Did you notice all the numbers, all the facts, all the figures John Kerry was putting—I wanted to, like, shake him and say, talk vision. 

BARNICLE: Not only that, though, -- 

SCARBOROUGH: And he‘s talking about 3 percent less than the 8 percent growth, et cetera, et cetera. Somebody needs to strip that language down. 

BARNICLE: Absolutely. He‘s not speaking before a Senate subcommittee.  But in addition to that, in addition to the use of the phrase, I believe, I believe in this, I believe in that.  No matter what you think of the issues, no matter which side of these issues you‘re on, the use of the phrase, the unborn child, the sanctity of marriage, the activist judges.  This is language that people understand and react to and it‘s something the Democratic ticket has not yet done.

SILVER: He did something also very powerful tonight. He said you may agree or not agree with me, but you know who I am and where I stand.  And that was a dagger pointed at the heart of his opponent there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because people do know where he stands. 

SILVER:  Sort of flip flop issue.

REAGAN: People run around (INAUDIBLE) and I‘m curious about that because President Bush has had his own little flip flops hasn‘t he? You remember that when the 9/11 Commission was proposed, he opposed that.  His hand was forced by the families of the 9/11 families, the homeland security—

SILVER:  ... of President Bush but because what people—

REAGAN: I think you do want to make a flip flop issue, can I finish because I‘m not quite done yet on the flip flops.  The Homeland Security Department which he now claims credit for, he opposed.  North Korea, we‘re not going to tolerate them having nuclear weapons.  I won‘t tolerate that, but now we‘re negotiating and we‘re talking. 

SILVER: ... doing with Korea what you‘d like him to do, multilateral negotiations, having (INAUDIBLE)

REAGAN: What I‘m getting at too is also - because I was down in the pit for a few minutes there. I missed the whole discussion with Janeane Garofalo and you asked her, what would you do about Iran and its nuclear ambitions? And I was waiting for her to turn her back on you. 


REAGAN: But what would you do about Iran? Would you invade?

SILVER: I‘m a firm believer in preemption, unilateralism and hegemony.


TRIPPI: I disagree with where you‘re going with this actually, because I actually think the case against Bush is, that no matter what the facts are - he‘s like locked into the ideology. It‘s ideology, not thoughts.  So what you have here is the facts changed in Iraq. He‘s still going to stick to his guns.  Doesn‘t matter what the facts are, he‘s still going to stick to his guns.  What I‘m saying here is, the mistake Kerry made was the facts did change on Iraq.  He supported the war and I think the biggest mistake so far has been knowing all the things I know today I still would have voted for it. 

Because the case for Kerry is—because I think this is really who he is, he‘s a thoughtful guy who when new facts arrive, says I was wrong, generally and he changes his position.  The Bush campaign has not held George - well it may be moral clarity, it‘s ideological clarity for Bush.  He doesn‘t let the facts change and it doesn‘t matter. So I think this is where this thing‘s all got off on a—for the president to talk tonight about Kerry claiming that he wants to spend but he also wants to raise taxes, the fact of the matter is, the fact of the matter is, Kerry wants to cut taxes.  Both of these guys are talking about cutting taxes and spending gobs of money.  There‘s no conservative on that issue in the race including the president. 

SCARBOROUGH: How can you say anybody‘s conservative in either party when you‘ve got the largest deficit ever. You‘ve got the largest national debt ever.  You look at both of these parties‘ platforms, they both want to spend lots of money.  Nobody talks about cutting a single program and it‘s future generations that are going to pay for it.  You‘re exactly right.  We have got to go to the break, now that I‘ve given my sermon on fiscal responsibility—

REAGAN: I was just going to point out that that $2 trillion remark that Bush made in his speech was pretty disingenuous given the record...


SCARBOROUGH: No doubt about it. 

MOLINARI: He‘s spending like 33 percent more on education.  We have increased spending on a lot of programs that Democrats and people think are very, very important. 

SCARBOROUGH: All right.  We‘re going to keep talking about this and fiscal responsibility.  I do agree with you, Mike Barnacle, though, what I found in Congress was there were a lot of people that said I was crazy, but they said we know where you stand and we‘re going to vote for you because you talk straight.  George Bush has that, right now John Kerry doesn‘t.  At least in politics, perception is reality and that‘s something that he‘s got to work on over the next 60 days if he wants to be elected president of the United States. 

We‘ll be right back in a second with AFTER HOURS with Ron Reagan and the beautiful Mike Barnicle. 



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now ordinarily we would be devoting a lot of time to discussing the vice president‘s speech.  But there was another speech last night, the keynote address.  That‘s the oration that officially embodies the guiding spirit of that year‘s political convention. 

SEN. ZELL MILLER (D) John Kerry has been more wrong, more weak and more wobbly than any other national figure. 


REAGAN: OK, now that the convention is over, it‘s party time.  And we have a panel to tell us who, where and when. I am joined by Lloyd Grove. He writes the low down column in the “New York Daily News” and Richard Leiby (INAUDIBLE) writes the column “Reliable Source” for the “Washington Post.”  Let‘s first go out though to MSNBC political correspondent David Shuster who‘s at the Gotham Hall which is holding the next generation of leaders party. That sounds exciting. David, what‘s going on?

DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Actually it‘s not that exciting (INAUDIBLE) because once again, we‘re stuck outside.  But actually I can tell you that this is a mentoring event, at least that‘s what they‘re calling it, that involves the kids of governor Pataki, Mayor Bloomberg, Christie Todd Whitman. Their kids are the official hosts and so they‘re drinking and doing whatever they do inside this party (INAUDIBLE) is pretty good.  We‘re doing a little live television, do you mind? Anyway—anyway, so the party favors include, we‘re told, these bottles of water.  I‘ve never seen anything quite like this, Ron and this is artesian water from Norway, Norway, part of the coalition of the willing.  Anyway...

SCARBOROUGH: ... that you didn‘t get in there because that sounds like the most boring party I‘ve ever—a mentoring party?

SHUSTER: They had a little speech about mentoring.  We‘re told the shrimp is pretty good, right? The shrimp‘s good? The shrimp‘s excellent we‘re told. 

SCARBOROUGH: That is pathetic Schuster. You‘ve seen some of the finest exit doors in New York this week.  Have you gotten into any party this week, David?

SHUSTER: Did we get into any parties?


SHUSTER: We didn‘t get into a single one.  But we actually saw somebody at this one that we knew, who‘s a member of the media whose name we shall not be telling you.


SHUSTER: (INAUDIBLE) party, but we did see the Bush twins, that was actually the highlight.  I had actually never heard their voice until this convention.  I had never seen them in person until we saw the Bush twins walk in.  We tried to get them to come to the cameras and talk.  They sort of waved.  At one point I said, are you enjoying New York? And I think it was Jenna who said, we love New York.  They‘re still in this party and they have been in there for an hour and a half.  We‘re told that nobody‘s checking ID, not that they would need IDs now but they‘re in there and having a good time. 

SCARBOROUGH: Jenna didn‘t stick her tongue out at you, did she?

SHUSTER: I tried to wink at her and give her the little suave Shuster move, but that didn‘t work. 

SCARBOROUGH: All right.  David Shuster as always.

REAGAN: Thank you David.

SCARBOROUGH: Tough work out there.  Thank you. 

REAGAN: Boy, it is tough. 

SCARBOROUGH: All right.  We‘re also joined by Lloyd Grove. 

REAGAN: He can get into parties.

SCARBOROUGH: Lloyd, they let you in parties, don‘t they?

LLOYD GROVE, “DAILY NEWS” GOSSIP COLUMNIST: I have a mole in this party right now and I‘m told that it‘s a mentoring party with six open bars.  So there‘s a lot of mentoring. I don‘t believe that‘s Norwegian water.  I think it‘s some other substance. 

REAGAN?: Some sort of tap water. 

GROVE: I think it‘s a little stronger than that.  They‘re saying it‘s Norwegian water.  There‘s probably smoking going on.  I think as the convention has worn on, the rules have relaxed a bit and I‘m told that Jenna was spotted smoking indoors.  I hope she‘s not doing it tonight because one of the hosts is the mayor‘s daughter Emma and I think Emma might report her to her father and that might be bad. 

SCARBOROUGH: (INAUDIBLE) the first family‘s favorite scofflaw - Jenna Bush. What have you been up to?

RICHARD LEIBY, “WASHINGTON POST” COLUMNIST: I think what you‘re seeing here, this convention has been book ended by these parties with the rock stars of the convention, the Bush twins.  But the Republicans managed to alienate the press at both events.  When it started, they were penned in behind bars.  They couldn‘t get in.  So this is not the way to start a party week.  And the Potemkin Village like celebrity that they have created here or the illusion of celebrity just makes the reporters want to crave to get in more.  So they go to the red carpets and guess what, they can‘t get in so they shout inane questions like how do you like New York and it makes it seem like they‘re at an Oscar party. 

SCARBOROUGH: How can you knock our dear friend David Shuster?

LIEBY: I love David.  I just—I guess somebody shouted out the other night, are those blue jeans you‘re wearing?

GROVE: I think that every party—every party at which the press is penned in and alienated is probably worth a point to the Bush campaign. 

LEIBY: You‘ve got a point there, Lloyd.  The Republicans hate the media for God sake.  They hate the media. Susan, you know that, no wonder they‘re not letting them in the party. 

MOLINARI: At the Democrat convention, was the media allowed into  these parties?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes.   What are you talking about?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were everywhere. we got to go wherever we wanted. 

SILVER: That‘s appropriate for the party of the people. 

GROVE?: Exactly, because we are the people.

MOLINARI: You‘re right, we don‘t trust the media. 

LEIBY: They‘re also crusading against Hollywood.  I mean you heard the president‘s speech tonight. The heart and soul of America is not Hollywood.  That means it‘s moral rot I suppose.  But they‘ve created some situations here that have... 

SILVER: Now, Richard, to be fair, the president was quoting the candidate for the Democratic party, who got up after a wrath of bizarre, lewd, rude, impolite show and said this is the heart and soul of America.  So you‘re certainly not criticizing the president for repeating that, of course not. 

LEIBY: Celebrities and politics now are intertwined in a way that makes it impossible not to have celebrities at events and the rock star at the Democratic convention was Bono.  Here unless you had a real appetite for gut bucket Southern blues from the 1970‘s, including ZZ Top, Marshall Tucker band, et cetera.  Or you didn‘t like country hat bands, have country hat (ph) artists, you just weren‘t going to have fun. 

MOLINARI: So we‘re a little jealous.  All right, I said it. We‘re a little jealous because of all the rock stars that go to the Democratic convention.  You have this great music that plays throughout the convention and all these great stars hang out and then...


REAGAN: What do the Republicans need to do to get better music? What do you think? Susan. What do they need to do to attract better musicians?


REAGAN: ... Democratic policies?  A school maybe for right wing music. You have to teach these people  

MOLINARI: A mentoring program. 

REAGAN: A rural schools for - but I have to say the guitarist for ZZ Top rocks.  I have to say.  That‘s a feather in their cap. 


REAGAN: The ZZ Top, guitarists, whether you like them or not, he really rocks. 

SCARBOROUGH: Let‘s talk about the best party tonight, let‘s start with you, Lloyd nor not of the night, of the week.  Give me your party of the week. 

GROVE: Well, I think the party of the week in terms of people celebrating, was on the floor of the convention during the speech.  I happened to be standing in back of a regular MSNBC guest named Laura Ingraham and at every applause line, she was shrieking ecstatically and I think she was having a very good time and I think she embodied the celebratory atmosphere of tonight‘s acceptance speech.

SCARBOROUGH: Richard and where did you hear the most shrieking this week? 

LEIBY: ... at the (INAUDIBLE) party, at the concert last night that Barbara and Jenna Bush attended. It was quite an event and I think he does really rock. And before that Travis Tritt‘s performance for an audience that included a lot of GM people and there was a pickup truck on the floor and there were other concept cars.  So you got to walk around and I have to tell you though, that party was put on by a Democrat, Debbie Dingell and she works for GM.  But that was a good concert and the rest of them. I mean last night, I closed out at 3:00 a.m. watching a Neil Diamond tribute band called Super Diamond and I sat there saying, wait a minute, this is the headliner? Only the Republicans could be so perverse. 


SCARBOROUGH: Talk about New York‘s pollster (on the skids.  That‘s sad.


SCARBOROUGH: Coming up next, we have musician Steve Earle.  You‘re going to want to stick around for that.  But you‘re watching MSNBC AFTER HOURS live.


REAGAN:  Country music star Steve Earle is no fan of President George W. Bush and strongly disagrees with his policies, particularly over the war in Iraq.  But Earle isn‘t shy about voicing his opinion, as you can tell by listening to the tracks of his latest album, “The Revolution Starts Now.” 

Describing himself as an “unapologetic lefty,” Steve Earle joins me now.

No apologies necessary.  Well, you might have to apologize to Joe, but not to me.

STEVE EARLE, COUNTRY SINGER:  Not at all. Not at all. 

REAGAN:  So what are doing here in New York in the - you know, in the center of the universe for Republicans at the moment - or, up until a moment ago.

EARLE:  I kind of - you know, I figured you all did - in about four or five days, they (UNINTELLIGIBLE) quit letting pinkos on this island.  So I decided to come early and get me a spot.

I‘ve got a record coming out, and so we‘re here, you know, doing press for it.  It just came out last week.  So I kind of camped out for the month.

REAGAN:  Now, there have been some musicians here, of course, who were pro-Bush. I interviewed Larry Gatlin, for instance, standing right here on this spot. 

EARLE:  I‘ve known Larry since I was about 19 years old and we come from the same - actually, he comes from the same part of   Texas that my dad came from. And that - which - I don‘t know how that - I‘m sure his family were - were good old-fashioned yellow-dog Democrats.   But a lot of those people are Republicans now.

REAGAN:  Uh-huh.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, what‘s so fascinating about what musicians are doing - obviously, we‘ve got tour going on all across  America. You, like Springsteen, like REM—you‘re not just going there playing to college crowds saying, “Vote for John Kerry.”  You‘re actually going to swing states.  You‘re targeting states that you believe could help John Kerry get elected president of the United States.

I mean, that‘s—that‘s pretty - pretty advanced marketing.

EARLE:  Well, it‘s - you know, it‘s one of those things that - that are-there are a lot to do with that happening.  And, you know,  people that, you know, were smarter than I was.  It certainly wasn‘t my idea, but - but it makes sense.  And especially in places like Ohio and Pennsylvania, which is where are my tour was starting - you know, those are place where is it is going to be about economics and it‘s going to be about Iraq in the sense that, you know, that‘s where they‘re doing most of their recruiting nowadays is places where people are out of work.  The Army starts becoming an option and it becomes - the war becomes an economic issue in that respect.

SCARBOROUGH:  You going to play a song for us? 

EARLE:   Yes.  Absolutely.

SCARBOROUGH:  Come on.  Do it!



SCARBOROUGH:  Steve, that was fantastic, I‘ll tell you what—in the tradition - in the tradition of “Fortunate Son,” great stuff. 

EARLE:  Thank you.

SCARBOROUGH:  Very good stuff. Thanks for being here and good luck. 

REAGAN:  All right.

SCARBOROUGH:  And to the delegates at Madison Square Garden tonight, President Bush‘s speech was music to their ears.

Now let‘s go to Frank Luntz , who spoke with some swing voters in Cincinnati, Ohio, tonight to get their reaction to President Bush‘s speech. 

Frank, what you got?


FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER:  Joe, this speech is one of those   rare opportunities to see how swing voters right here in Cincinnati react.  And there was definitely a reaction. 

I want a show of hands right: how many of you had a positive reaction to what you saw from President Bush tonight?  Raise your hands if you had a positive—keep those hands up. Let‘s get a good shot of the people here.

Now this group is only slightly leaning Bush from 2000, yet that many of you had a positive reaction. 

I want a word or phrase—let‘s start in the front row.  I want a word of phrase to describe the speech that you saw this evening. 

Douglas (ph)?








UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  A three-letter word (sic):  W. done good. 

LUNTZ:  Reactions.  Keep going.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It was good.  He told me what I wanted to hear. 

LUNTZ:  And what specifically did it tell you? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Well, I wanted to hear about taxes and how he was going to deal with that and he told me.  He gave details.

LUNTZ:  What did it tell you, Kim (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I thought that President Bush was genuinely poised.  He was confident.  His approach was very positive, in my opinion.

LUNTZ:  So for you it was the style as much as much as the substance? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes, it was the combination.  Yep.

LUNTZ:  Reactions to the speech?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I disagree with the substance comment. He never really said how he was going to pay for the programs that he presented. He criticized Senator Kerry for saying that he would raise income taxes on wealthier Americans, but he didn‘t come back with, I guess, the bipartisan tax reform of the second term.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  As opposed to Kerry, he gave his Web site and said, If you want details --  Kerry never said anything. He has going grandiose and had no idea. 

LUNTZ:  How many of you had a positive reaction to the fact that he gave his Web site - again, let me a see a show of hands.


LUNTZ:  That‘s a good thing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Definitely a good thing. 


LUNTZ:  OK, Vance (ph), your reaction?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think he hit a grand slam tonight. I think he‘s—he definitely earned my vote this evening and basically because he is able to touch on many points and then also reiterated the national security.

LUNTZ:  Now, I want to be fair because in one of these sessions, Joe, there wasn‘t all positive.  There was one line in particular that the president spoke of—if I may borrow this dial.

We had our swing voters here using these dials to indicate whether they agreed or disagreed with what‘s being said. This clip behind me, the red line represents Republicans, the green line represents Democrats.  The higher that the lines go, the more favorable the reaction. But if you see the lines drop, that means that our swing voters are reacting unfavorably to it.

There was one segment on the economy that caused a very split reaction.  Let‘s take a look.


BUSH:  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. 


BUSH:  Because we acted, our economy is growing again and creating jobs and nothing will hold us  back. 



LUNTZ:  Now that‘s important. Look at the reaction among Democrats in here when he said that the economy is creating jobs. 

Ohio has had it—a job problem. 

Why did you react negatively?  You don‘t think the economy here is creating jobs?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don‘t see it here locally in Cincinnati or southwest Ohio. I‘ve seen companies lay off people in - with no hope of coming back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I agree.  I totally agree.  I haven‘t seen the job situation improving at all in Cincinnati or Ohio. 

LUNTZ:  You‘re unemployed, aren‘t you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I am unemployed currently, yes.  My company has closed up two of their 10 locations this past June.  Yet to find a job.  For the first time, I am on unemployment.  Do I like that?  No, I don‘t.

LUNTZ:  Do you blame President Bush? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I can‘t say that I fully blame President Bush for the lack of employment, solely, no.  But our economy is a question right now.

LUNTZ:  Is it fair to hold President Bush accountable for the jobs?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I think there is some degree of responsibility there, simply because the focus has been so much on terrorism, that what I question is there‘s—the $87 billion commitment is one thing, but I - I agree with this gentleman: I still question how are we going to pay for all these things?

LUNTZ:  Eric (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He said largest tax relief in a generation. I lost my job twice in the last four years.  Admittedly, I‘m in software development.  (UNINTELLIGIBLE).  They have two kids.

That—I think the tax relief is going elsewhere.

LUNTZ:  OK. We have got one more segment to show you on tax relief, because here, when they talked about tax simplification, it was a very positive reaction. 

Let‘s take a look.


BUSH:  Another drag on our economy is the current tax code, which is a complicated mess filled with special-interest  loopholes, addling 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. 


BUSH:  In a new term, I will lead a bipartisan effort to reform and simplify the federal tax code. 



LUNTZ:  Joe, that was one of the most positive reactions—you had Republicans and even Democrats almost off the charts. 

I know that you didn‘t like a lot of the speech, but you responded well to this, Vicki (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Probably because—like the gentleman said before when they were talking about tax relief  and tax reform, what they were saying is you‘re going to give X amount of dollars back - and at that time I believe it was $600 -- then you have got to pay  someone $200 to do your taxes just to get the $600  back. 

LUNTZ:  I wish they could get done for just $200.

Joe, that was one of the positive reactions.  And quite frankly, it‘s pretty clear that tax simplification is going to be a  hot issue in the next 60 days.

Back to you.


REAGAN:  All right, we‘re going to be back in just a minute with more of AFTER HOURS.  We‘re coming down to the bitter end here. But stick around, we‘ll be back.



And I‘m joined now by John “Bradshaw” Layfield, the one-man conglomerate, who is WWE champion as well as a popular commentator on business and financial markets.

Now tell me, why are you here in New York City for this convention? 

JOHN “BRADSHAW” LAYFIELD, WWE CHAMPION:  The main thing we‘re doing is promoting our “Smackdown Your Vote.”  We‘re trying to register 2 million young voters by the next general election to increase the voter - young voterships between 18-30 by about 10 percent. 

You know, 70 percent of the military is under 30.  Forty percent of the uninsured is under 30.  And you talk about privatizing Social—Social Security—that affects the young people, yet they‘re not the ones voting.  It‘s like my father, who votes every single election.  We‘re trying to empower the youth to take charge of the future that is there‘s anyway. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And obviously, you‘re not just working with your organization.  You‘re teaming up with some other pretty big names to try to get young people out and vote.

LAYFIELD:  Absolutely.  We have a whole host of sponsors. We‘re with MTV, working with Russell Simmons, Hip Hop Records, Hip Hop Action Summit.  We‘ve got tons of guys that are really trying to help us.

A lot of our demos cross.  You know, Hip Hop Records and World Wrestling Entertainment, our demos are the young male between 18 and 30. And they‘re the ones that are disenchanted with the political - the whole process.  So we‘re trying to reach the demo that we get and try to get them involved.

SCARBOROUGH:  And so what are you trying to do specifically to try to get young people out.  You‘re going around, obviously.  You‘re talking to these people. Are you seeing that you‘re making progress? And Russell Simmons making progress in this bipartisan effort? 

LAYFIELD: Absolutely.  We‘re making tons of progress.. We‘ve registered - you know, I don‘t know how many.  We‘re going to reach our goal of registering 2 million voters.  I don‘t know if they‘re all going to vote.  That - that‘s the hard part.  We‘re trying to tell them that it‘s cool to be involved in the democratic process. 

You know, they see it as a—the democratic process as a white, upper middle class, middle-aged group. And it‘s not.  You know, it involves every part of America. And the 18-30-year-olds are the future of America, just as they always have been. Yet they‘re the ones that are not involved heard.  And since they‘re not voting, they‘re not going to be heard. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, that‘s biggest problem.  I - you know, I‘d always—when I was in Congress, I‘d go around talking to young   kids, talked to people in high school, college, trying to tell them if they don‘t vote, people aren‘t going to pay attention to them. And you look right now—look at the war. There are obviously a lot of young people over there fighting that war. 

You look at issues like Social Security, you look at the deficit, the debt, all these things that Washington politicians are doing, it seems like they‘re throwing a lot of stuff on future generations.

Do you go out there and make that pitch to them, that if you don‘t get involved, your voice isn‘t going to be heard and it‘s going to cost you the future? 

LAYFIELD:  Absolutely. We try to tell them that it‘s a cycle. They don‘t vote, therefore they‘re not heard. And if they - if they don‘t ever break that cycle, they never will be. 

You know, privatization of Social Security—which I support - we‘re a nonpartisan effort; I‘m very partisan. But it‘s something that affects young people.  But my father, who‘s 72 on a fixed income, he‘s the top person that votes on it.  We try to tell, when you‘re 50 and 60, these policies that are being done right now are going to affect you, just as the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, like entire global war on terror is going to affect young people.  If they don‘t become involved now, they‘re going to regret it when they get to the middle aged and when they get to the older age as well.  They‘re not going to pass on to the younger generation like this generation has done to them and the generation before them has done to them. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thanks so much.  Greatly appreciate your being. 

LAYFIELD:  Thank you very much.

SCARBOROUGH:  You‘re doing a great job.  Register as many young people as possible.

Hey, we‘ll be right back when AFTER HOURS returns.  See you in a second.



SEWN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I want you to know that tonight—tonight in America, something very important in the fabric of our life took place. Very, very important.  The Red Sox pulled to 2 ½  games out of the Yankees.  Now I think that‘s important. 


SCARBOROUGH:  You know, I got to tell you, Barnicle, it‘s a Republican Party that‘s watched the deficit go up to $450 billion. We‘re the ones that are supposed to have trouble adding and subtracting.  And, yet, John Kerry misled Americans tonight about the Red Sox. 

BARNICLE:  Joe, that statement that Senator Kerry made, claiming that the Red Sox have drawn to within 2 ½ games of the Yankees, not only was not accurate—because it‘s a 3 ½ game spread - because I think he now made Massachusetts a battleground state as a result of that statement. 


SCARBOROUGH:  He may have.


TRIPPI:  And maybe New York, too. 

REAGAN:  Mike, he may—he may have access to information that we don‘t have. 

BARNICLE:  Well, that could be.


SILVER:  Or maybe by tomorrow he changes his mind...


SCARBOROUGH:  Now, let‘s play you some more of what John Kerry said earlier tonight at a rally after George Bush‘s convention finished up.


KERRY:  I will not have my commitment to defend this country questioned by those who refused to serve when they could  have and who misled America  into Iraq.


KERRY:   The vice president—the vice president—the vice president called me unfit for office last  night.


KERRY:  Well, I‘m going to leave it up to the voters to decide  whether or not five deferments make someone more qualified  than two tours of duty.  We‘ll decide about that.


REAGAN:  Mike, we were talking—actually before the show opened tonight—and you had some pretty choice thoughts about what   Kerry might say to the Republicans who have been impugning his service in Vietnam.

If you can clean it up a little, even for late night...

BARNICLE:  Well, you just get the feeling that at some point, some point soon, he‘s going to have to step up to the plate and address those Swift Boat veterans and others now out in the general population who have raised questions about his service and his commendations, his medals.  And he‘s going to have to get to the point where he‘s going to say, Who are you people?  Who do you think you are to be questioning my service to my country?  When I was in a war zone, when people were running against me, the most grievous injuries they suffered were perhaps thumb cuts from pop-top beer cans.

I went, they didn‘t. If you got a question, stand up and I‘ll answer it, right now, right here in this hall.  And until he does that, I think he‘s going to - this thing is just going to keep after him.

REAGAN:  Is that a good start though?SCARBOROUGH:  Susan?

MOLINARI:  Well, yes, I think there‘s two different things here.  I think there‘s the Swift Boat accusations that led into this convention.  And now if we‘re talking about the conversations that have taken place - basically, let‘s say this evening, because he was supposed to be responding to the president.

At no point in time did the president question his patriotism.  He continued to question his judgment, his ability to lead based on that   judgment, his ability to lead based on his perception of terror that may or may not be there, acquiescence to nations in the United Nation.  And he then just goes back again to his service 30 years ago—which is a very important point, and I respect it and I honor it. 

But he‘s got to also then say, “Here‘s who I am today and here‘s how I‘m making my decisions.”

SILVER:  I agree with Susan.  I think he‘s making a big mistake.

This election is not about what happened in Vietnam 30 years ago, but what happened in Manhattan three years ago. And if he continues to talk - whether he responds to the Swift Boat veterans or not - it‘s the wrong issue. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But Ron, it‘s bleeding (ph) - it‘s been bleeding (ph) for the past three to four weeks.

And you know, Dukakis was accused of not responding to attacks.  I mean, an attack that‘s not answered is considered to be fruitful.

SILVER:  And I think Mike is right.  He has to respond to it in the forthright way...


TRIPPI:  But then he has to move fast to what we saw Frank Luntz show us.  Those economic - the way those numbers just dove on jobs creation - not just with Democrats and independents - that wasn‘t a good score with Republicans either.  I mean, it was higher - it was in the 55...


BARNICLE:  How does he do this?  You‘re running the Kerry campaign.  How does he...

TRIPPI:  I think you‘re right about quickly make the - you know, get there and say, “Come on.  I‘ll answer the question.  You got no right.”  And then move to the real issues that matter right now.

REAGAN:  Joe‘s going to do it (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

SCARBOROUGH:  I want to give a special thanks to Ron, Joe, Susan, David and all our special guests and panelists this week.  And a big thanks to our band, the Matt Schulman and the Schulman System Trio.  Their CD, “While We Sleep” is available online on 

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

Ron, are we coming back, buddy, or not?

REAGAN:  I don‘t know.  Tonight may be the last night for the Republican convention, but we just don‘t want the party end.  So we‘re Super Sizing our show.  Kind of like the french fries.

We‘ll be right back for another half an hour of AFTER HOURS live from Herald Square.  There‘s your answer.

SCARBOROUGH:  I guess we are.

REAGAN:  Another half an hour.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.

REAGAN:  There we go.



RON REAGAN, CO-HOST:  ... very special guest, Triumph the Comic Insult Dog, has returned with new—new nose gear.

TRIUMPH THE INSULT DOG:  Woo-hoo!  Four more years, yes!  Woo-hoo!

REAGAN:  Mike, help him with the nose.  The nose came off a little bit.

TRIUMPH:  Wait, tell the band to shut up.


REAGAN:  Mike‘s helping out.

TRIUMPH:  That‘s OK.  It‘s OK.

REAGAN:  So Triumph...

TRIUMPH:  I think this is a sex toy.  It‘s very useful.  Newt Gingrich taught me how.


REAGAN:  Have you been hitting a lot of the parties here at the Republican convention?

TRIUMPH:  No, you know, they don‘t let me in.  But I‘ll tell you what: I‘m sold on the Republicans, though.  I‘ll tell you why.  I‘ll tell you why.

First of all—first of all, I don‘t know.  It‘s complicated, you know, because John Kerry—if John Kerry goes into office, then I won‘t have to—these cigars will be legal, you know?

BARNICLE:  That‘s true.

TRIUMPH:  These are Cubans, right, Barnicle?

BARNICLE:  I‘ll take it.


TRIUMPH:  No, no.  I mean, you can buy these if you‘re a Republican and you work for Halliburton.  And that‘s about it.  The MSNBC guy gave me that joke.

REAGAN:  You replaced Joe Trippi here on the show, and I...

TRIUMPH:  Yes, everyone makes...

REAGAN:  You‘re wondering why he fled...

TRIUMPH:  Everyone, all five people who are watching.

REAGAN:  He doesn‘t like to work with dogs.  He said he just—he couldn‘t hack it, and he—he left the set, stormed off.

TRIUMPH:  I saw.  For the five people who are watching, there is no reason to panic.  It‘s great.  It‘s great.  I‘m on the Cadillac of late night shows.

BARNICLE:  You are.  You are.

TRIUMPH:  I can say anything I want, because nobody‘s watching.  Larry King...

REAGAN:  We count on that.

TRIUMPH:  Larry King is beating you, and it‘s just a shot of him sleeping.  It‘s just a long shot of Larry like this.

REAGAN:  There‘s a question that Mike Barnicle has been dying to ask you, Triumph.  I know he‘s been champing at the bit here, and...

JOE SCARBOROUGH, CO-HOST:  Mike—Mike, if you will...

TRIUMPH:  Don‘t steal any of my jokes, Mike.

BARNICLE:  No, I won‘t.  I have to tell you, Triumph...

SCARBOROUGH:  Mike, first of all...

TRIUMPH:  I know George Carlin.  I know George Carlin.

BARNICLE:  My entire professional life is passing right before my very eyes right now.

TRIUMPH:  I kid, I kid.

BARNICLE:  Do you have a license?

TRIUMPH:  I have a license to poop.  I‘ve had worse.

BARNICLE:  Well, you‘ve been doing it for about three minutes.

TRIUMPH:  I know.  Just stick around and take it like a bitch.


TRIUMPH:  Ron Silver. 

RON SILVER, ACTOR:  How you do?

TRIUMPH:  Really, you‘re a Republican now?  I remember—you still look like a 60-year-old hippie.  I don‘t get it.  I don‘t get it.  What, you‘re into politics?  Is this a Janeane Garofalo movie?  She—is this “Hollywood Squares”?

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, God!  Oh, my God!

TRIUMPH:  I kid, I kid!

SILVER:  I know you kid.  I can talk (ph).

TRIUMPH:  I love, I kid.  Sorry.  Sorry about that.

Anyway, and Susan Molinari, what did you think of Zell Miller?  He was a little wacky, wasn‘t he?  Ding-dong, ding-dong, yee-haw!

I mean you should—you‘re a keynote speaker.  You‘re the one who brought Bob Dole into office.

SUSAN MOLINARI ®, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSWOMAN:  This—this is a cruel hoax.  Eight years ago I was a keynote speaker.  Now I‘m talking to a plastic dog at 2 in the morning.

TRIUMPH:  I thought the cruel hoax was you being the keynote speaker.  I am kidding!  It‘s late at night.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Triumph, tell us.  What do you think of George Bush‘s speech tonight?

TRIUMPH:  George Bush‘s speech—well, I was—I was decaying (ph) during half of it.  It‘s a long story.

But you know, Ron...


TRIUMPH:  You‘re a big supporter of Bush.  You think he‘s the leader?


TRIUMPH:  You really think...

SILVER:  Yes.  I think...

TRIUMPH:  What about the Michael Moore scene in “Fahrenheit”—with the...

SILVER:  Which one?  They‘re all so memorable.  I love the movie.  I...

TRIUMPH:  The seven minutes in Florida with the kids.


TRIUMPH:  I mean, I was concerned, because this is the leader but he had, you know, the huge crisis happening and that face.  I recognized that face.  He had that same confused look in his eyes that a puppy gets after it‘s been neutered.

You know that face?  It‘s like you know something bad has happened, but you‘re not sure what.

SCARBOROUGH:  Ron, you‘ve got to respond.

SILVER:  I‘ve got to respond?

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, or he‘s going to make—he‘s going to make another “Hollywood Squares” joke.

SILVER:  I would only ask you if you‘ve ever read “The Pet Goat,” because it‘s a stunning story...

TRIUMPH:  It was.

SILVER: Because I‘ve spent a lot of time with “The Pet Goat.”  That was the story he was reading that morning, and it‘s stunning.  Anyone can spend time with that story...

TRIUMPH:  I hear George Bush reads a lot of books like that.  He‘s an avid reader of children‘s books.

SILVER:  Listen, I‘m going into a witness protection program after I leave this show.

TRIUMPH:  You‘re never going to be able to walk the streets of Manhattan again.

BARNICLE:  This is a huge career move.

SILVER:  Oh, yes.

BARNICLE:  Talking with a hand puppet...

MOLINARI:  Get Joe Trippi back here.  Get Joe Trippi back here.

BARNICLE:  Yes, where is Trippi.

TRIUMPH:  Yes, that will—that will get the ratings up.  Where‘s Trippi?

SCARBOROUGH:  Where‘s Joe Trippi?

TRIUMPH:  And you know, you can‘t make out the protesters over there, but they‘re screaming, “We want Trippi!  We want Trippi!  We”—Let‘s hear you, protesters.  Let your voice be heard!

I guess they don‘t want Trippi.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, they don‘t want Trippi.  But I‘ll tell you what, Triumph.  Hold on a second.  We‘re going to take a minute to look back at some of the highlights of the 2004 Republican National Convention.  Then we‘re going to get your response.

That means you roll the tape.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I‘m running for president with a clear and positive plan, to build a safer world and a more hopeful America.  I‘m running with a compassionate conservative philosophy that government should help people improve their lives, not try to run their lives.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA:  Our choice wasn‘t between a benign status quo and the bloodshed of war.  It was between war and a graver threat.  Don‘t let anyone tell you otherwise: not our political opponents, not—and certainly not—and certainly not a disingenuous filmmaker who would have us believe...




SEN. ZELL MILLER (D), GEORGIA:  George W. Bush wants to grab terrorists by the throat and not let him go to get a better grip.  With John Kerry, they get a yes, no, maybe bowl of mush.  They can only encourage our enemies and confuse our friends.

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY:  The president, George W. Bush, stood amid the fallen towers of the World Trade Center, and he said to the barbaric terrorists who attacked us, “They will hear from us.”

LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY:  He‘ll always tell you what he really thinks.  You can count on him, especially in a crisis.

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER ®, CALIFORNIA:  Now, there‘s another way you can tell if you‘re a Republican: your faith in free enterprise, faith in the resourcefulness of the American people, and faith in the U.S. economy.  And to those critics who are so pessimistic about our economy, I say don‘t be economic girlie-men.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  People tell me Senator Edwards got picked for his good looks, his sex appeal, his charm and his great hair.  I said, “How do you think I got the job?”

G. BUSH:  I believe this nation wants steady, consistent, principled leadership, and that is why, with your help, we will win this election.


SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Triumph, obviously, when you go back to Boston—where‘s Triumph?

BARNICLE:  Get up here.

TRIUMPH:  I‘m sorry.  I‘m sorry.  I was checking out Molinari‘s legs.

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  Very good.  Very good.

TRIUMPH:  I got bored.  Sorry.  No, no, what do you want?

SCARBOROUGH:  Up in Boston, you obviously were very moved by Ron Reagan‘s call for stem cell research?

TRIUMPH:  Oh, yes.

SCARBOROUGH:  You‘ve got to be a little concerned that the Republicans didn‘t even bring it up.

TRIUMPH:  I don‘t know.  I mean, it‘s very confusing.  There‘s so—because yes, they brought—all the black people were singing bad Motown tunes.  Basically, there were, like, more black people singing bad Motown tunes than in the entire Madison Square Garden. 

And then—and then the gay issue, you know?  They—they tried to play down the whole gay thing.  And they left out the wackiest Republicans.  Tom DeLay, I don‘t know where he is.  He‘s in Cheney‘s bunker for the week.

But Michael, Michael and Ron, you differ on stem cell research, don‘t you?

REAGAN:  Yes, we do.

TRIUMPH:  I see.  You know, it‘s a complicated issue, but I side with Ron, you know?  Because I don‘t know.  I believe in the research and in my—maybe it‘s not the most important cause, but I have a dream that some day the stem cell research will allow my testicles to eventually grow back.

SCARBOROUGH:  Mike Barnicle?  I‘m going to take it over to you to talk to Triumph.

BARNICLE:  Triumph, let me tell you something.

TRIUMPH:  yes.

BARNICLE:  It‘s always been my understanding...

TRIUMPH:  Did the Sox win?  That‘s really all that matters.

BARNICLE:  It‘s three and a half.  It‘s not two and a half...


BARNICLE:  ... Kerry said (ph).  But it‘s always been my belief...

TRIUMPH:  Kerry blew that, too, yes.

BARNICLE:  ... that dog years are seven years, the equivalent of a human life, seven years in dog life?

TRIUMPH:  Excuse me?

BARNICLE:  They‘re seven years.

TRIUMPH:  Seven years is the equivalent of New England‘s life.  Is that what you said?

BARNICLE:  Dog life.  This bit seems as if it‘s seven years.  That‘s why—anyway...

TRIUMPH:  Barnicle!

BARNICLE:  Where are you from originally?

TRIUMPH:  Where am I from originally?  I come from—I‘m a Catskills entertainer.  I have a long history of Catskills.  My dad was a Yiddish entertainer...

BARNICLE:  Have you ever chased a hubcap?

TRIUMPH:  I have never chased a hubcap.  I‘ve humped a Pekinese.  Is that close?

BARNICLE:   All right.  That‘s...

TRIUMPH:  But I come from a musical background.

BARNICLE:  Can you hum a few bars?

TRIUMPH:  Yes.  My mom—my mom is an Afghan.  She‘s not musical, but she looks just like Celine Dion.  It‘s all on my DVD!  That‘s what this is about.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know what, Triumph?  Now that we‘re down to three viewers, let‘s try to take it down to two and go to Joe Trippi.  He‘s got a question for you—Joe.



TRIUMPH:  Finally!       

JOE TRIPPI, MSNBC ELECTION ANALYST:  I think my instincts are not—to not...

SCARBOROUGH:  Look at that two-shot.  Trippi and that guy (ph).

TRIUMPH:  Hey, Joe—Joe, do you want a confiscated umbrella?

TRIPPI:  Yes, I think my instincts...

TRIUMPH:  The Republicans are so generous.

TRIPPI:  My instinct to not work with the dog, I think, was a good one.

TRIUMPH:  To not work with the dog, what, you‘re afraid of a little poop?

TRIPPI:  Yes, actually.  No...

TRIUMPH:  Come on, let‘s pick a topic and argue.  I like this side-by-side thing.  Give us a topic.

TRIPPI:  Fine, OK.  Topic.

TRIUMPH:  Gay marriage.

TRIPPI:  No, no.  Let‘s not go gay marriage.

SCARBOROUGH:  Joe, are you for or against gay marriage?

TRIPPI:  What?

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘re going to have a debate.

TRIUMPH:  Come on.  The gays—the gays...

TRIPPI:  I want to know if the dog is for or...

TRIUMPH:  The gays have to marry somebody.  They can‘t all marry Liza Minelli.  I want to know about these gay issues.  I want to know about these gay issues.  You know, the Republicans...

TRIPPI:  All I want to know, Triumph, how much—how much did Bill pay you to do this to me?

TRIUMPH:  I enjoy it.  It‘s for free.  Believe me, they have no budget here.  You should know that.

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s true.    

TRIUMPH:  Listen—listen, the gay issue, it‘s—I don‘t understand one thing.  Ron, you—you can‘t be for all this, you know, the gay issue.  I mean, come on.  You‘re supporting Bush and he‘s, you know—are you—are you for...

SILVER:  There‘s only one issue for this election.  Let me ask you...

TRIUMPH:  You‘re a one-issue voter?  Don‘t tell that to homosexuals.

SILVER:  I‘ve got a question for you.


SILVER:  That will be: in 1940, ‘44, ‘52 and ‘68, what were the domestic issues in those elections?

TRIUMPH:  Gay rights.

SILVER:  War.  We were at war.  Nobody remembers domestically what the issues were in those elections.

BARNICLE:  Wait.  I—wait.


TRIUMPH:  Barnicle—Barnicle...

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, Mike, do you believe that he tried to actually debate the dog?

MOLINARI:  How did we let Trippi off the hook?

TRIUMPH:  It‘s a lie that was created—It‘s a lie...

SILVER:  An answer from the dog.

TRIUMPH:  It‘s a lie that was created to divert us from the issues!  I don‘t know, now I‘m being serious.  Can we be in a double back? (ph)

MOLINARI:  Go back at him, Ron.  Go back at him.

TRIUMPH:  Can we be in a double back (ph)?

SILVER:  From the dog.  I want an answer from the dog.

TRIUMPH:  Why—why are Republicans—why are Republicans so against gay rights when so many of them have a big pole up their butt?  It makes no sense!  No sense!

REAGAN:  Oh, boy.

TRIUMPH:  Have a confiscated umbrella.

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, Triumph, throw me your DVD.

BARNICLE:  I‘ll do it.


SCARBOROUGH:  This—here we go.  Here we go.

SILVER: Triumph...

TRIUMPH:  Get off me.  Get on the DVD shot.

SCARBOROUGH:  Here‘s the DVD shot.  It‘s the best of Triumph the Comic—the Insult Comic Dog.  And of course, you go through this, extra poop on here.  And not only that, we‘re going to add to this an actual clip of Ron Silver seriously debating war and peace and American politics...

MOLINARI:  Time to go home, Ron.

TRIUMPH:  That‘s on the best, Ron—That‘s going to be on “The Best of Ron Silver.”

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s out right now.  And you can also catch Triumph and Ron Silver on “Hollywood Squares.”

We‘ll be right back in a second.

TRIUMPH:  I love Ron.  Yes!


JAY LENO, HOST, “THE TONIGHT SHOW”:  This week, John Kerry was on vacation in Nantucket.  And when President Bush heard that Kerry was taking a vacation with the country at war, the economy in trouble, and the nation at high alert, he said, “Wow, maybe he really is presidential.”



REAGAN:  I‘m joined now by two members of the Creative Coalition, a nonprofit, nonpartisan social and political advocacy organization of the entertainment industry.  With me tonight is Robin Bronk. She‘s the executive director of the Creative Coalition.  And actor Giancarlo Esposito, who starred in the series, “Homicide: Life on the Street,” as well—as well as numerous movies.  I should say many, many, many, many movies.

What do you guys—and full disclosure, I should say I‘m on the board of the Creative Coalition.  And so here we are talking.  We‘re all old buddies here.

So what have you guys been up to, because I‘ve been missing most of the stuff you‘ve been doing?

ROBIN BRONK, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CREATIVE COALITION:  I think you‘re ducking most of the stuff we‘ve been doing.

REAGAN:  They‘re keeping me busy here, believe me.

BRONK:  It‘s your day job.  No, we‘re out here, we‘re promoting the arts, arts advocacy funding for education and the First Amendment.  Got to stand up for the First Amendment.


REAGAN:  I could have said that.  I know this spiel. What‘s been going on here?  You‘ve been talking to a lot of Republicans?

ESPOSITO:  We certainly have.  We‘ve been trying to win them over to our side, letting them know it‘s really important to—to support the arts.  We have -- 15 miles north of here in Yonkers, New York, we have no arts funding whatsoever in the public school system at all.  No arts, no music.  And it‘s important to know that we need to get that back.

Our young people need to understand that we‘re trying to create a culture here, and leave something behind.  And so we‘ve been talking to a lot of folks at the Republican National Convention, and it‘s been very interesting.

REAGAN:  Well, talking about culture, of course, brings up the topic of culture wars, which has always been a big—recently been a big thing here.  How does that play into what we in the Creative Coalition do, this different perception on both sides of the aisle of what culture might entail?

BRONK:  Well, culture—guess we‘re here in New York. 

What we‘re talking about is what is art?  And it‘s a slippery slope between censorship and—and promoting—and promoting the arts and creating art.  And what we‘re saying, really, and we‘ve been saying for 20 years is art is in the eye of the beholder.

No, what we‘re really saying is—is...

ESPOSITO:  True, too.

BRONK:  ... is whether it‘s Shakespeare or the—or any fine art, or any theatrical art, art is an intrinsic part of a child‘s education.  And if we are not going to—pardon the express—leave any child behind, we have to ensure that they have an arts education.

REAGAN:  The budget has been increased for the NEA, and by this administration, by a conservative Republican administration.  Did that surprise you, Giancarlo?

ESPOSITO:  It hasn‘t.  I mean, I know Laura Bush did push through No Child Left Behind, but that money really hasn‘t come through.  It‘s been a lot of lip service to that, but they haven‘t put the dollars on the table, and that makes a big difference.  It‘s still being left up to the states themselves, who have no money.

So the federal government really has to think about, I believe, curtailing the bombs and trying to make art happen again.

It‘s proven that kids who study math are—study music, they‘re very good piano players, have a very good success with math and other arts are—that challenge young people are leading to them having more success with their intellectual properties.

So it is something that we have to really take a look at.  But all the studies have proven that this is success.

We had a panel the other day which is really important, where someone spoke about a young man who was from a foreign country who was very, very poor.  Yet he spoke three languages, and he also played the violin beautifully. 

And so it made me start to think about, well, where was he from?  And let‘s look at those countries‘ models, especially countries who don‘t have as much as we do.  I think it‘s the perception of who we are as people, what kind of legacy we want to leave behind.

Are we—I want to say, are we a culturally peaceful people who really understand music or are we—we‘re a culture now who are all about the media.  This is our—this is what‘s happening with us. 

And I think we need to really understand where that comes from and how we transfer that into going back to the cultural arts: music and dance and drama and how that expands a child‘s mind, especially a child from the inner city who‘s not exposed to that kind of learning anywhere else.

BRONK:  One thing I was going to say is that we are not only here to educate everyone here at the Republican convention and put our ideas forth, but we‘re also here to thank all the Republicans, as we do with the Democrats, who have voted with us on our issues.  Because there are a great many supporters, senators and congressmen who‘ve always been with us on these issues.

And you know, it‘s interesting, because when Laura Bush had that $18 million segmented for the arts, Congress did nix it. So it‘s an interesting war on Capitol Hill.

REAGAN:  Robin, Giancarlo, thank you for coming down at this late hour.  Appreciate it very much.

Now back to Joe and the panel.

SCARBOROUGH:  Thank you very much, Ron.  I wanted to play for our panel President Bush telling Americans that they will always know where he stands.  Let‘s take a listen.


G. BUSH:  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 have—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.


SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  I‘ll tell you what: Susan Molinari, you seemed to be the one most shamed by Triumph, so we‘ll give you a high moment here.  It could...

MOLINARI:  I don‘t think I could possibly recover for...

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, it was close.

MOLINARI:  ... how big that‘s been for my political future from here on in.  Excuse me, what was the question?

SCARBOROUGH:  What—big moment of the week: what did George Bush get out of this convention?

MOLINARI:  I think he‘s going to get a bounce.  You know, I‘m interested, all the Democrats who after the Democrat convention said there was no bounce because there‘s no undecideds out there, and everybody‘s picked their sides.  So they‘re just reaffirmed.

I think we‘re going to wake up tomorrow and see that George Bush has a bit of a bounce, and that‘s a bounce that‘s going to grow from here until November.  And that just shows the Democrats, when they get up tomorrow, that they‘re in trouble.

REAGAN:  Joe, bit of a bounce?

TRIPPI:  Oh, he‘ll get a bounce, but I don‘t think—I think it‘s true.  There aren‘t any undecideds out there.  It will be a smaller bounce.  I mean, you used to be able to come out of these things with 12-point leads or something like that.  That‘s not going to happen.  This is going to be tough, and all down to the wire.

I think it‘s actually going to move to just get out, plain out, gets out their vote and organization.  I really don‘t know.  The he said-he said stuff in the end‘s going to play a lot less role in this election because of that way the electorate‘s polarized right now.

SCARBOROUGH:  Mike Barnicle?

BARNICLE:  I think for me to answer that question after having had a dialogue with a hand puppet for about 10 minutes would be the height of delusion.  I‘m going to stay here and take the civil service exam.  My career is over.

REAGAN:  Ron Silver?

SILVER:  I‘m still in the coma, that I was debating domestic policy with a dog.  It wasn‘t even a real dog; it was a puppet.

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s true.

REAGAN:  You were arguing...

MOLINARI:  You did it very well.

TRIPPI:  I warned you guys not to work with hand puppets.

MOLINARI:  Yes, we should have—we should have walked off with you, Joe.

REAGAN:  OK, let‘s go to the phones.


REAGAN:  Our first caller is Christina from Texas, the George Bush state of Texas.  Christina, what do you have to say?

CALLER:  Hi.  You guys are doing a great job.

REAGAN:  Thank you.

SCARBOROUGH:  Thank you.

CALLER:  You‘re welcome.  I‘m very troubled by the people that are saying, you know, that the Republicans are using fear tactics to say that, you know, we need to keep George Bush.  You know, that everybody‘s afraid or, you know, something like that.

I don‘t—that‘s not true.  I‘m not scared.  You know, I‘m a wife; I‘m a mother.  Yes, I love my family.

And, you know, we‘ve had hard times.  I did lose my job last year when my company did do some outsourcing to a foreign country.  My husband had kind of a difficult time finding new employment.

But my main concern is the protection of my family.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thanks so much. 

REAGAN:  Thank you, Christina.

SCARBOROUGH:  That—that‘s a lot of people‘s main concern.  Thanks for calling.

CALLER:  Thank you.

SCARBOROUGH:  And I want to give a special thanks to our friends, guest panelists this week, and the plastic dog.  And a big thanks to our band, Matt Schulman and the Schulman System Trio.

Tonight of course, Ron, may be the last for the Republican convention...

REAGAN:  But it‘s not the end of AFTER HOURS.  We‘ll see you tomorrow night for a special two-hour edition at a special hour, 9 p.m. Eastern.


REAGAN:  As we say good night, let‘s take a look back at the week.


GIULIANI:  I‘ve never seen so many Republicans in New York City.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You‘ve got the best spot for the whole convention right here.


CHENEY:  People tell me Senator Edwards got picked for his good looks.  I said, “How do you think I got the job?”

SCARBOROUGH:  Talking about...

REAGAN:  ... partying, the Republican way.

SCHWARZENEGGER:  Don‘t be economic girlie-men!

TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS ANCHOR:  That was just Arnold going for it.

MATTHEWS:  Can you say the word “exciting” for me again?


MCCAIN:  That line was something.  I‘ll use it again.

MATTHEWS:  We‘re going to have some news for you tonight.  What do people out there think about what we all heard tonight?

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST, “COUNTDOWN WITH KEITH OLBERMANN”:  He was mad as Zell, and he was not going to take this any more.

MILLER:  U.S. forces armed with what?  Spitballs?

Get out of my face!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  “HARDBALL” style, right between the eyes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And if Zell Miller needs a second, I‘ll be his second.

L. BUSH:  He‘s a loving man with a big heart.

G. BUSH:  I accept your nomination for president.





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