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Kerry Kicks off Cross-Country Tour at His Birthplace; Officials Warn of Possible Threat to Media; "Boston Globe" Columnist: Kerry Needs to Earn America's Respect; Fenway Park an Emotional Landmark

Aired July 23, 2004 - 15:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: Boston, here he comes. John Kerry begins his final journey to the Democratic nomination by returning to his roots.
A target for terror threats. Are members of the news media covering the convention at risk? We'll have the latest on security alerts.

Boston versus New York. No, we're not talking about dueling convention sites. We're talking about the biggest rivalry in baseball.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All baseball fans really -- it doesn't matter to them whether it's Democrats or Republican, but Red Sox-Yankees, that matters a lot.

ANNOUNCER: Now live from Fenway Park in Boston, Judy Woodruff's INSIDE POLITICS.

JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thanks for joining us here in the right field stands of America's oldest major league baseball park. With just three days before the Democratic convention gets underway here in Boston, this, we thought, was a fitting place for us to be.

While politics is a favorite past time for people here in Boston, nothing compares with this city's passion for the Red Sox. Emotions should be running especially high tonight when the Sox face off against their archrivals, the New York Yankees.

Red Sox fan and White House hopeful John Kerry is trying to win over new fans of his own as he makes his way to this convention city and his presidential nomination. Kerry's first stop en route to Boston drives home his quest to tell America who he is and where he comes from.

CNN's Frank Buckley is with Kerry in Colorado.

Hi, Frank.


We're in Denver Colorado. We were supposed to be in nearby Aurora, Colorado, where John Kerry was born, but the weather outside brought the event inside here to the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver.

This pre-convention tour by John Kerry is being described by the campaign as taking us from the birthplace of John Kerry to the birthplace of America, Boston.

An important week for John Kerry in reintroducing himself to American people, especially undecided voters and for those voters who, as hard as it might seem, haven't been paying attention to the campaign at all.

Here at this auditorium, 3,600 people according to the fire marshal inside, they will hear John Kerry and John Edwards describe themselves in their speech as the can-do optimists countering, of course, some of the criticism that's come from the Republican side that in fact, John Kerry is a pessimist.

During the next few days, here's what the tour is shaping up to look like. It is being advertised as a tour of historic cities across America, representing America's values and spirit.

These -- This tour also happens to take us across several battleground states. From Colorado, we'll be going to Iowa, a state that Vice President Gore won in 2000 by less than one percent.

Then it's to Columbus, Ohio, which went Bush in 2000. Then to a place called Florida, where there was a slightly tight race in 2000.

And then it's off to Norfolk, Virginia, where Senator Kerry will do his best to sell his military experience and his wartime credentials, saying that he can lead the U.S. at a time of war.

Then it's off to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a very contested battleground state. And then Senator Kerry, Judy arrives in Boston on Wednesday. He'll be speaking on Thursday night in what is arguably, the most important political event for John Kerry before the debases in the fall -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Frank Buckley, giving us the latest on the Kerry itinerary as he makes his way to the city that is his home. Thank you, Frank.

Well, if you think John Kerry's going for a big buildup on his way to Boston, wait until you see his post-convention tour. We now know that Kerry trek out of Boston by bus, by train and boat will span two weeks and cover more than 3,500 miles in 21 states. Most of them crucial campaign battlegrounds.

Well, President Bush for his part was in Michigan, one of those battleground states, this morning before heading to his Texas ranch for some down time during John Kerry's convention.

In Detroit, Bush appealed for African-American votes in a speech to the National Urban League, apparently undeterred over the flap over his recent skipping of the NAACP convention.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm going to ask African-American voters to consider some questions. Does the Democrat Party take African-American voters for granted? It's a fair question. I know plenty of politicians assume they have your vote, but do they earn it and do they deserve it?


WOODRUFF: We'll have a full report on the president's remarks ahead on INSIDE POLITICS.

Well, independent presidential hopeful Ralph Nader is here in Boston where Democratic Party officials today denied his request for an official convention pass.

At a news conference earlier, Nader said that he would request the pass so that he would not have to, quote, "sneak in through a back window." A short time ago, however, a party spokesman noted Nader's links to the Reform Party as well as the assistance that he's received from Republicans lately. In the spokesman's words, quote, "The answer is no. This is the Democratic convention."

In these final days before the Democrats open up their big party here in Boston, security agents are moving into higher gear. They are motivated in part by a new warning by the FBI.

CNN's Jeanne Meserve joins us from outside the convention hall.

Hello, Jeanne.


About 15,000 members of the media expected to show up for the convention and now word from the FBI that it has unconfirmed information that a domestic group may try to disrupt the convention by attacking media vehicles with explosives or incendiary devices.

Now this is characterized as unconfirmed information. One government official with whom I spoke said there is some debate as to whether the groups or individuals in this threat, who they are characterized as anarchists, have the capability to, in fact, carry out the threat. And an undercover investigation is continuing.

But there's been a lot of debate and discussion here in Boston today about how the information about this threat was disseminated. Some of the local media were informed last night by the local FBI office about the threat, but the national media did not get any official notification until some time today, though the media is the target in this information.

Now there's been a lot of talk in the run up to this convention about smooth communications and the need for the sharing of information. When I asked one official today is this the way it's supposed to work, the response was "I hope not." And another characterized it B grade communications.

Experts in appeal were also critical.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEPHEN FLYNN, AUTHOR, "AMERICA THE VULNERABLE": We always struggle, I think, on the intelligence side to make sure that you can figure out whether the threat information you have is accurate.

I think there's a -- there's a need to be -- err on the side of getting as much information out to people as quickly as possible when you're at a high risk event like the national convention.


MESERVE: Meanwhile, big evidence that security around the Fleet Center is being ramped out. And when I walked over here today, we saw scores of police, some of them assembling under a big tent.

Random searches have begun on the subways here in the Boston area, and at 8 p.m. tonight, the last train will leave North Station. It will then be closed and swept as the Secret Service will begin establishing its perimeter around the Fleet Center. That should be in full operation by noon tomorrow.

Judy, back to you.

WOODRUFF: Jeanne, so much of what we've heard leading up to this convention was that the terror threat one should be worried about is a foreign terror threat, a threat from overseas. Now they're saying a domestic source? Do they give any more information about it?

MESERVE: Very little, except, as I said, that anarchist groups are apparently those involved, according to the sources I've spoken with, and that there's some debate about their capability.

Now there was a warning that went out last night from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to some of the security actors here in the Boston area.

It warned, again, that al Qaeda is believed to be planning an attack, that it could come this fall or this summer, that it could be disruptive to the Democratic process.

But they did emphasize again that there is no specific information that al Qaeda is planning an attack on the Democratic convention -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Jeanne Meserve, reporting from outside the Fleet Center. Jeanne, thank you very much.

We're checking the Friday headlines now in our "Campaign News Daily."

Opinion polls in five showdown states offer a close-up look at the biggest electoral battleground.

We start in Pennsylvania, where a new L.O. -- "Los Angeles Times" survey gives Kerry a sizable 10-point lead over Bush: 48 percent to 38 percent, with Ralph Nader picking up five percent.

Down south in Florida, the "Times" poll gives Bush a one-point edge, 45 to 44 percent. Ralph Nader has two percent.

A separate Mason-Dixon survey, though, of Florida voters has similar results: Bush at 48 percent, Kerry at 46 percent.

Ohio is the third biggest prize among the showdown states. It, too, remains close. An American Research Group poll gives Kerry 48 percent to Bush's 46 percent.

And a similar story out of New Hampshire where again, Kerry leads Bush by the same two percentage points: 48 to 46.

Out west in Oregon, which Bush lost by less than one percentage point four years ago, Kerry now leads Bush by seven points: 50 percent to 43 percent.

Back here in Boston, as in many other cities, people often have their own way of seeing things. Up next, the Bush-Kerry race and convention politics through the eyes of a prominent local pundit.

Plus, we'll take a tour of the Fleet Center stage where John Kerry will have his crowning moment.

And a slice of baseball history. We'll take a look around here at Fenway Park and talk about the famous Sox-Yankee rivalry.

One hundred and two days until the election. This is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.


WOODRUFF: Sitting right here at Fenway Park about an hour ago, I was talking politics with a longtime observer of John Kerry and the Massachusetts political scene. I began by asking "Boston Globe" columnist Ellen Goodman what John Kerry needs to do next Thursday night beyond hitting the proverbial home run.


ELLEN GOODMAN, COLUMNIST, "BOSTON GLOBE": I think in some ways John Kerry got through the primaries because -- and was elected for being electable, you know? The Democrats had a crush on Howard Dean and a brief flirtation with John Edwards, and then they decided that Kerry was the guy who should win because he could win.

And now he's going to take that electorate, which is the anything but Bush electorate, and transform it into a pro-Kerry feeling. And that's -- that still is a big transition. The good news is that the Democrats are in this feisty, anybody but Bush mood. But it's got to be transformed.

WOODRUFF: You, Ellen Goodman, have been an observer of John Kerry for -- we were talking -- 25, 30 years of being...

GOODMAN: I was a teenager.

WOODRUFF: You were a teenager right here in Boston, but you were saying, John Kerry doesn't show himself very much. Is that something he needs to do?

GOODMAN: Well, ever since March, when I've been traveling around, people will say, because I'm from Massachusetts, "What's he like?" And I can't -- The first word to that comes to my mind is "complicated."

And he isn't a person that's going to do "Oprah" moments on television. And he is a somewhat reserved and complicated and thoughtful person. And how does that -- how do you translate that? He's not going to be a hail and well met. He's not going to pat you on the back, but he has to connect. He has to connect with the public Thursday night.

WOODRUFF: Somebody said to me, it's almost like he's got to make the American people fall in love with him. Maybe not going quite that far, but...

GOODMAN: Respect. I think that this is a person who you're not going to fall in love with, but you're going to have respect for both his intelligence and his thoughtfulness.

I think he also has to connect his story, his narrative, his biography with what he's doing, what he's thinking about, particularly about Iraq and foreign policy and terrorism and our place in the world.

WOODRUFF: Taking the Vietnam experience, being a soldier...

GOODMAN: That's right.

WOODRUFF: ... and then turning around -- you know, being in the Navy and then turning around and protesting that war and connecting those two.

GOODMAN: That's right and saying, "This is what I learned from the war I was in. This is what I learned from the men I was with. I learned all about loving your country and not necessarily loving its wars."

And also then being rather specific about would he have voted for this war if he knew then what he knew now. And the other big question hanging out there what do we do to get out of the -- to complete our task and get out of there? What's the exit strategy?

WOODRUFF: Last question, Ellen Goodman, Boston. Is Boston thrilled to have all these Democrats and reporters in town or are you just tolerating it?

GOODMAN: Well, Boston's kind of freaking out, quite frankly. I think that the -- the slogan for many days, this was sold as something that would be a wonderful party. And now the mayor's office is putting out a slogan saying, "It's only four days."

But people seem to be, you know, hitting the road, heading to New Hampshire, heading down -- those of us who are here, however, are going to have fun. (END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: "Boston Globe" columnist Ellen Goodman.

Well, we have a real treat coming up in Fenway Park. When INSIDE POLITICS RETURNS, columnist and author Dan Shaughnessy gives me an insider's tour of this historic stadium.


WOODRUFF: The place where I'm sitting, Fenway Park here in Boston, is a place full of history. And with its hand-operated scoreboard and with seats made of oak, real oak, it's a throwback to another time in American sports.

A little bit earlier today "Boston Globe" columnist and author Dan Shaughnessy gave me an insider's tour of Fenway Park.


DAN SHAUGHNESSY, COLUMNIST, "BOSTON GLOBE": I just think when you walk up here, the whole park hits you. All of the green hits you.

A lot of us who grew up watching black and white television would come here for the first time and just be stunned by the colors. It's similar to seeing the "Wizard of Oz" when it goes from black and white to color. And us that's what this was like to come up here and see this.

WOODRUFF: The backseats are blue and the front seats -- the backseats are the original.

SHAUGHNESSY: Yes. Those are some of the oldest seats in baseball that have the original wood back there, at least probably the 1934 wood. The park was rebuilt in '34. It was first built in 1912, which makes it the oldest park in major league baseball by quite a bit.

WOODRUFF: This isn't just a baseball stadium?

SHAUGHNESSY: For people who grew up here, I mean, it's almost a religious shrine for people. It's like they've been coming here and hearing about it their whole lives, and it never changes.

New Englanders really aren't big on change, and one thing that doesn't change is Fenway Park.

You want to see the dugout?

WOODRUFF: I'd love to see the dugout.

SHAUGHNESSY: Come with me here.

WOODRUFF: How many people actually get to come down here? This is pretty cool. SHAUGHNESSY: This is your dugout. That's the red phone there. That's how they call the bullpen when they need another pitcher. The phone rings out there in the bullpen and they tell the, "Get a right- hander up; get a left-hander up."

WOODRUFF: So we're facing a great green wall. And what is this?

SHAUGHNESSY: We're coming up on what's known in Boston and New England as the Green Monster, which is Fenway's left field wall. One of the most famous walls in the world. You have the Berlin Wall -- you had the Berlin Wall, the Wailing Wall and the Great Wall of China.

And here is Fenway's left field wall, which is 37 feet high, 310 feet from home plate. The scoreboard is hand operated from the inside. And it used to be the -- it was a sort of punishment for the grounds crew, the guys who were either late or misbehaving, they'd get sanctioned to duty inside the wall. There's just all kinds of ancient stuff in here. So let's just try and peak inside.

Yes. The '86 World Series, the ground crew kids signed up here in the '86 World Series.

It says Mitt Romney here, the governor.

WOODRUFF: 2003, "don't stop."

SHAUGHNESSY: I'd say that's legit. A little political angle for you there.

The wall, you know, we're in home run territory now. We're outside the ballpark, actually.

WOODRUFF: I wonder what it sounds like in here when you...

SHAUGHNESSY: It clanks. It's -- it sounds like that. Home run for a ball off the wall. Double.

WOODRUFF: If baseball's a religion and if Fenway is a church, does the fact that the Democrats are coming to town make any difference to baseball fans?

SHAUGHNESSY: I think that, you know, all baseball fans -- really, it doesn't matter to them whether it's Democrats, Republicans. But Red Sox, Yankees, that matters a lot, and you're going to hear it here tonight. No question about it.


WOODRUFF: Boy, do I feel lucky getting that inside tour.

Well, you could say that both major presidential candidates and their running mates have road games today. In a minute we're going to catch up with who's where and what they're saying.

And Fenway Park isn't the only place where they keep track of the league's best place. Bill Schneider is standing by to award the political play of the wick. INSIDE POLITICS continues.



BUSH: Somebody gave me a quote he said -- which kind of, I think, describes maybe the environment we're in today. He said blacks are gagging on the donkey, but not yet ready to swallow the elephant.

ANNOUNCER: President Bush asks black voters to think Republican. The curtain doesn't rise at the Democratic National Convention until Monday, but we've got a sneak peek inside the Fleet Center today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have two podiums instead of one this time, and that will allow the show to and the convention to flow a little smoother.

ANNOUNCER: Politics in baseball, our national past times. Which candidate has the better pitch?

BUSH: You're on, buddy.


ANNOUNCER: Now, live from Fenway Park in Boston, Judy Woodruff's INSIDE POLITICS.

WOODRUFF: Welcome back to Fenway Park, the home of the Red Sox, where anticipation is building for a big event tonight. That would be the latest grudge match between the Sox and the New York Yankees.

Many of the Democrats gathering in this city for their national convention have a more than passing appreciation of a Boston-New York competition. After all, they're hoping to put on a better show than their Republican rivals present in the Big Apple late next month.

Right now, though, we want to turn to a news development. CNN learning about some documents related to President Bush's service many years ago in the Air National Guard.

And for the very latest, let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre.

Hi, Jamie.


Well, perhaps you'll remember earlier this month the Pentagon said that some key payroll records relating to President Bush's service in the Air National Guard some 30 years ago had been inadvertently destroyed in an effort to preserve the microfilm...

Jamie McIntyre. Hi, Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy. Perhaps you remember earlier this month, the Pentagon said that some key payroll records relating to President Bush's service in the Air National Guard some 30 years ago had been inadvertently destroyed in an effort to preserve the microfilm.

Now they say upon further checking, that is not the case. The records were intact and in fact have been found. They say that the reason they were confused before is they had the wrong records access number that was straightened out by a manager of the facility and they have found the payroll records for that quarter which was missing, which was in 1972, the third quarter including July, August and September.

The White House had maintained all along that even though the records were missing they were irrelevant because it was never claimed that President Bush accumulated flying hours during that time. Instead they said he fulfilled his service over a 12-month period and was honorably discharged from the Air Guard.

Nevertheless, the gap in the records caused critics to question what had happened to them. We do have the records now and they do show in fact, as near as I can tell from reading them that President Bush did not accrue any flying hours during that time. But again, the White House said that was irrelevant, but now the records have been found and the record is complete -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: So, Jamie, to clarify, this indicates that President Bush was present and putting his service while he was in the Air Guard, even though he wasn't flying, am I correct?

MCINTYRE: Well, it doesn't show that he accrued any credits during that three-month period, but again, the White House never asserted that he had during that three months. They say that he fulfilled his obligation over a 12-month period and that the records for that exist that show he accumulated the necessary points to have done what he was supposed to do. Critics charge at that point that he was away working on a senatorial campaign and was essentially AWOL for 12 months. The White House says that the documents refute that, but there was always a question about what this gap -- how this gap in the documents came by and now they say they've found that missing document.

WOODRUFF: All right. Jamie McIntyre with this late-breaking development out of the Pentagon. Jamie, thank you very much.

Well, we can tell you that two national polls that are out today reinforcing what our survey showed you yesterday.

That is that the Bush-Kerry horse race is neck and neck. Today the president tried reaching out to an audience that has not been all that receptive to him, black voters. Here now our White House correspondent, Dana Bash.


DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a standard candidate request.

BUSH: I'm here to ask for your vote.

BASH: But this is a Republican with the worst showing among African-Americans since Barry Goldwater ran for president in 1964. So after some audible laughter...

BUSH: I know, I know, I know, listen. The Republican's party's got a lot of work to do, I understand that.

BASH: Then a quote someone gave him to make his point.

BUSH: "Blacks are gagging on the donkey, but not yet ready to swallow the elephant."

BASH: 32 minutes into the speech that was getting a polite, but less than enthusiastic response, the National Urban League crowd seemed to perk up. Well, some did, anyway.

It was a blatant appeal to a skeptical audience.

BUSH: I'm going to ask African-American voters to consider some questions. Does the Democratic party take African-American voters for granted? I know plenty of politicians assume they have your vote, but do they earn it and do they deserve it?

BASH: This just one week after Mr. Bush unapologetically snubbed the NAACP for the fourth year in a row because of what aides call partisan hostile comments about him.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is not a stop that represents just a "check the box" campaign stop.

BASH: John Kerry showed up for both. The Urban League just one day earlier.

Mr. Bush's campaign insists his free market policies and some of his social agenda which he played up will help make inroads in the black community. The president still has his work cut out for him. A recent poll shows only 12 percent of African-Americans support Mr. Bush, compared to 81 percent for Senator Kerry.

A hard sell, but one Kerry supporter in the crowd says at least he's selling.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He did ask for the vote and I think that any good candidate ought to ask for the vote. I'm not sure he changed my mind, but he certainly gave me some things to think about.


BASH: Bush aides are hoping to benefit from some complaints in the African-American community that Senator Kerry doesn't do enough to reach out to them, but in the Kerry campaign they call all this nothing more than damage control after the NAACP flack and they say once black voters look at the president's policies they are going to be turned away and not drawn in -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Dana Bash on the trail. Thank you.

Meanwhile, back here in Boston, John Kerry, we know, will be the official star of next week's convention show, but Democrats expect running mate John Edwards to shine as well. Edwards was with Kerry today to set out on what they're calling America's freedom trail to Boston. CNN's Elaine Quijano is with the Democratic duo in Denver. Hi there, Elaine.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy. That event going on right now here outside the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver, Colorado. At the mic, we understand is Senator Kerry's wife Teresa.

We expect to hear from Senator Edwards shortly, but during the week here, the senator, Senator Edwards had been using his skills to focus the political spotlight not just on himself and his own ties to small-town America and rural America and his upbringing in North Carolina but also to talk about his running mate John Kerry.

And we expect to hear more of that today, specifically, we anticipate that Senator Edwards will focus on John Kerry's military service. His actions during the Vietnam War which eventually led to a number of military honors including three Purple Hearts, but Senator Edwards himself has been spending his time not only campaigning, but also on working on his upcoming speech in Boston.

Aides say that he used much of the flight over from Connecticut here to Denver yesterday to work on finessing that speech. We also understand that Senator Edwards is participating and will be participating in a number of satellite television interviews, particularly with stations that are concentrated in some key battleground areas like Columbus, Minnesota, to name a few, but Senator Edwards due to speak here shortly using his skills to focus attention on Senator Kerry -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Elaine Quijano on the trail with Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards.

John Edwards' stump speech is designed to appeal to ordinary people, you might say. Once in a while, regular folks can actually exercise some extraordinary political clout. Our Bill Schneider has a case in point. Hi there. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi there. Nice hat.

WOODRUFF: Nice hat.

SCHNEIDER: You know, it's not often that ordinary citizens can force governments to do their bidding. Well, when it does happen it's the political play of the week.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The groups formed by many families of 9/11 victims have turned into a political force to be reckoned with as the 9/11 commission chairman acknowledged.

THOMAS KEAN, 9/11 COMMISSION CHAIRMAN: You demanded the creation of the commission. You've encouraged us every step of the way as partners and as witnesses.

SCHNEIDER: The rule in American politics is if you don't push for what you want you won't get it. The 9/11 families wanted an independent commission, not a congressional inquiry. President Bush balked at the idea. They got it. They wanted President Bush to testify.

KRISTEN BREITWEISER, 9/11 WIDOW: I think there will be pressure for President Bush to cooperate better.

SCHNEIDER: They got it. They wanted access to all relevant government documents. They got it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were able to see things that no commission and no member of Congress has ever seen in doing our work.

SCHNEIDER: This week the report came out, but what will it mean?

LEE HAMILTON, 9/11 COMMISSION VICE-CHAIRMAN: We cannot claim at this time that this commission is going to have a big impact. That remains to be seen.

SCHNEIDER: The report calls for massive reorganization of federal intelligence gathering. It's already facing bureaucratic resistance.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Our worry is that this great report doesn't sit on some shelf and gather dust.

SCHNEIDER: Not if the families can help it.

BOB HUGHES, LOST WIFE IN WTC: The FBI, the CIA, they can't just be thinking about well, this is my job and that's your job.

SCHNEIDER: They intend to keep working.

CARIE LEMACK, LOST MOTHER ON 9/11: This report is not done. This is just the starting ground. SCHNEIDER: Families have established a moral presence in American politics and they demand that it be respected.

KEAN: Members of the 9/11 commission and the families of 9/11, the victims are going to work together to re-establish that sense of urgency and unity in this country that we honestly felt that morning of September 11. We need that back.

SCHNEIDER: So far they're getting what they want including the political play of the week.


SCHNEIDER: The 9/11 families want to keep politics out of this and they're succeeding. The 9/11 report got the unanimous endorsement of the commission by Democrats and by Republicans.

WOODRUFF: We'll see where it goes from here.

SCHNEIDER: Absolutely.

WOODRUFF: Bill Schneider, thank you very much.

Well, the Democrats hope nothing distracts attention from their convention next week, but the Republicans don't exactly intend to go and hide. In a minute a convention eve discussion with top officials of both campaigns.

Later, a sneak preview at what the delegates will find inside the convention hall.

And since we're at the ballpark today we're going to talk a little sports but with a political vamp.


WOODRUFF: While the Democrats work overtime to get their message out here in Boston, the Republicans are trying to make sure they get a word in edgewise. Let's hear from both camps now.

We are joined by Kerry campaign political director Steve Elmendorf and Bush campaign spokesman Terry Holt.

Gentlemen, good see both of you.

Steve, I'm going to begin with you, Steve Elmendorf. John Kerry, many people considered experts are saying he's got to do more next week than just continue the anybody but Bush routine. He's got to give people a reason to vote for him because he's John Kerry. Will he be able to do that?

STEVE ELMENDORF, KERRY CAMPAIGN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Absolutely, Judy. I think that's a big part of what we have to do next week is both John Kerry and John Edwards have to describe their vision for the country and they're going to do that in a positive, optimistic tone. Their trip to the convention and their trip when they leave the convention, it's all going to be about their plans for what they're going to do for the country.

WOODRUFF: And can you flesh any of that out for us right now? What are we going to hear what we haven't heard?

ELMENDORF: Well, we've got to save a few surprises for your TV viewers. But you're going to hear a lot of the same issues we've been talking about. Jobs, economy, health care, energy independence and you're going to hear again their positive, optimistic vision not the negative darkness we've been hearing from Dick Cheney and George Bush for the last three months of negative attacks on John Kerry.

WOODRUFF: Terry Holt, how does that square with what your campaign is trying to paint the Kerry-Edwards camp as being -- is pessimistic. You've been painting the flipside of that picture.

TERRY HOLT, BUSH CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: Well, Judy, again, we are calling this the extreme makeover convention because we think...

WOODRUFF: Terry Holt, can you hear me?

HOLT: I didn't -- I can't hear Judy.

WOODRUFF: Sorry about that. Evidently, Terry Holt is not able to hear me or I'm not able to hear him. Steve, let me come back to you and ask you about the polls. For all the effort that John Kerry...

HOLT: I can hear her loudly. She can't hear me.

WOODRUFF: Hi there. Terry, can you hear me now? Terry Holt, can you hear me? OK. He -- if he can hear me. Terry Holt, can you hear me?

HOLT: Yes, I can.

WOODRUFF: All right. The question is this notion that John Kerry is going to be positive contrasted with the Bush campaign's effort to paint him as negative, how is your campaign going to counter that?

HOLT: Well, I was just saying that we're calling this the extreme makeover convention because this promises to be one of the most unreal reality shows of the whole TV season. John Kerry's campaign and all of his friends out there that have attacked the president relentlessly, compared him to Hitler, talked about him in terms of comparing him to Saddam Hussein. Now they're going to go positive.

I think we welcome that. I think the issues are so important that it's finally time for them to turn their attention to talking about what the agenda's going to be, but remember this this week, their agenda includes higher taxes, more regulation and building barriers around this country in this competitive global marketplace. It includes John Kerry not knowing where he stands on the war on global terror and not funding the U.S. troops. So it's going to be an interesting week. WOODRUFF: Steve Elmendorf, is that what's happening?

ELMENDORF: I liked it better when Terry couldn't hear you. No. We're going to portray and project John Kerry and John Edwards's positive, optimistic vision for where they want to take the country and that's what they've been doing for the last two, three months since the nomination. George Bush has spent $82 million in negative TV attacking John Kerry since March 1. He's had very little positive to say. He's run very few positive commercials because he doesn't have anything positive to say.

We're going to talk about our agenda, we're going about health care and jobs and energy independence and making America stronger at home and more respected in the world.

WOODRUFF: I want to ask, finally come back to Terry Holt. The latest polls are showing the race very close nationally, but John Kerry ahead a little in some of the important battleground states.

More than that, many Americans, more than half of Americans saying they're not happy with the way the country's headed? Is that a worry for you and your campaign?

OK, I guess we're -- I apologize for the problems that we're having with Terry Holt. My apologies all the way around. Steve Elmendorf, thank you very much. Terry Holt, for the time that you could hear me. We appreciate it. Sometimes the gremlins get in and take over what we're doing.

ELMENDORF: See you in Boston, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thank you both.

All right. Moving on with the program from Fenway Park, the city Boston prepares for the big event and for a lot of people that means baseball, not politics.

Up next, two cities, two conventions and one very, very big rivalry. A conversation with Red Sox and Yankees broadcasters about sports and politics.


WOODRUFF: As we've been saying all week, the Democratic convention isn't the only game in town this weekend as the Red Sox and the Yankees get ready for their three-game series here at Fenway.

I am joined by three broadcasters, Jerry Remy and Sean McDonough, sitting on my left are the announcers for the Red Sox games. Charlie Steiner sitting right next to me is a radio announcer for the New York Yankees.

Since we're in Boston, let's start with Sean and Jerry. What is it about this town? What's more important? The Red Sox or politics?

JERRY REMY, BOSTON RED SOX BROADCASTER: I think a little bit of both. I think the Red Sox, because we've been chasing these guys for such a long time that there's a passion here for the Red Sox like nothing else. It's -- what a great weekend this is going to be with the Yankees in town and of course everybody else involved with the politics. It is going to be an exciting time in the city of Boston.

WOODRUFF: People who aren't from Boston don't really get this love affair with Fenway, with the Red Sox. Help them understand what it's all about.

SEAN MCDONOUGH, BOSTON RED SOX BROADCASTER: I think part of it is the ongoing quest, Judy. It's been since 1918. It would be nice if Charlie and the Yankees let the Red Sox win just one championship sometime in the not too distant future. To go back to your original question, the politics in this area are divided but everybody loves the Red Sox and the Red Sox nation.

WOODRUFF: How about the Yankees? Do you feel like an interloper here this weekend?

CHARLES STEINER, NEW YORK YANKEES BROADCASTER: Well, as far as the Red Sox are concerned, anybody can have a bad century, so the Yankees come to town and we try to mess up their party as much as possible.

MCDONOUGH: At least they're humble about it, though.

STEINER: I'm sorry.

WOODRUFF: Do we know anything about the politics of the players? We just don't talk about that?

Sean or Jerry?

MCDONOUGH: We don't hear very much about it. Last year one of the Red Sox players actually had a bumper sticker up in his locker that was political in nature and one of the writers wrote about it in his column in the "Boston Herald" and it touched off a stink. He thought it was his own private message within his locker and the writer said, "well, there are a lot of people who come through the locker room. If it's there for us to see we're OK in reporting it." But you don't hear about that sort of thing very often.

STEINER: This isn't the sixties or seventies. Politics is not a primary discussion, whether in the clubhouse, on the field or on the airplanes.

WOODRUFF: This weekend you all are clearly here for the game, but is politics infusing itself somehow into sports? When you come into this arena, you just forget what's going on?

REMY: I think you forget what's going on. We have a lot of people that come through this place that just love baseball and that's all they want to do is see a great baseball game and hopefully that's what they'll see this weekend.

STEINER: It's a wonderful outlet where you can forget about red state and blue state and you worry about Red Sox and all of that other stuff.


REMY: I love the hat you're wearing today.

WOODRUFF: By the way, when we're in New York, we're wearing a Yankees hat.

STEINER: I certainly hope so.

WOODRUFF: We're going to Yankees stadium.

MCDONOUGH: Judy, a couple of years ago, Jerry will remember this, we were on the Red Sox charter coming back into Logan Airport after a road trip and the pilot was clearly trying to move the plane very quickly into the gate and he didn't get there in time because the vice president had been in town and he was trying to get to the gate but now that the vice president's plane is on the tarmac we have to go back and wait for him to leave and one of the players behind me said, "who's the vice president?"

That's how much they pay attention to this.

WOODRUFF: Most important of all, tonight's game. Kurt Shilling is on the mound. He's pitching. What's going to happen?

REMY: I wish I had an answer for you but I think the Red Sox will win. I think Shilling is going to shut them down completely tonight even though...


REMY: Of course.

STEINER: What would you expect him to say?

WOODRUFF: All right. What do you think's going to happen, Charles?

STEINER: I think it's a three-game series and right now the Red Sox trail the Yankees by 9 in the loss column. They better win all three.

WOODRUFF: I see them wincing over there.

REMY: There's always a wild card. We get the wild card, we'll be able to get another crack at them.

MCDONOUGH: And I guess since it's a political show we can make a promise, I promise, I guarantee you the Red Sox will win tonight. If it doesn't happen, what happens? We always forget those promises.

STEINER: Another year and you'll be voted out of office.

WOODRUFF: All right. Jerry, Sean, you brought a little friend of yours along. Tell everybody who this is. REMY: This is Wally, our mascot here in Boston and of course so we do a lot of different things when we're on a losing streak. We try to change things around. We won last night, he was laying sideways in the chair so all the fans at home will have a chair and a Wally. They'll put him sideways so he's going to bring us the victory again tonight.

STEINER: What if he lands face-up?

REMY: He's been face-up a few times.

MCDONOUGH: If John Kerry wins there's been a lot of speculation, Judy, that Wally will be our next senator.

He's very popular.

WOODRUFF: We're going to leave it there. Jerry Remy, Sean McDonough, and Charlie Steiner. You guys are great. Thank you so much for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS. We can't wait to see the game tonight. In fact, the whole three-game series.

MCDONOUGH: Enjoy Boston.

WOODRUFF: We shall. Thank you very much.

Over at the site of next week's convention, not too far from here, it's not quite the calm before the storm and as the last-minute preparations continue, we're going to take a very quick look inside the Fleet Center.


WOODRUFF: If it's Friday it's crunch time for the work crews making last-minute preparations for the Democratic convention, but already Boston's Fleet Center has been transformed. You can hardly tell that the Boston Celtics play basketball, the Boston Bruins play hockey here. Peggy Wilhard (ph) recently gave me a sneak preview of what the delegates and the speakers will be seeing.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You walk up the stairs here and then right here I imagine the speaker will feel the excitement and the energy of the hall and be able to hear the crowd and I imagine this will be probably the most nervous moment for a speaker.

WOODRUFF: They're walking out but immediately you're seeing something right here that you have never -- that I've never seen, anyway, at a national party convention.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Correct. This is very different.

We are actually going to have convention goers and delegates rotating in and out of the seats so they'll actually be part of the set. They'll actually be participating in the set which is very unique. WOODRUFF: You have got some of the DNC, Democratic committee here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Workers. Yes, you actually see the work of the convention being done here, which is also a different thing.

The podiums are lower. The set is lower than usual so the delegates feel closer to the speaker. We're going to be bringing in -- satelliting in Americans from all over the country to satellite in to the convention. So the convention is designed to be open and inclusive and working.

We have two podiums inside of one this time. That will allow the show -- convention to be flow a little smoother. So you won't have the speaker going on to the podium and then leaving and then the, you know, two or three minutes waiting for somebody else to get on. You can go right from one podium to another so it will allow a little more smoothness in the program and make it more audience-friendly.

WOODRUFF: Peggy, Democrats are notorious for not being on time. Is this convention going to be on time? I'm remembering George McGovern in 1972 who notoriously gave his acceptance speech at 3:00 in the morning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I think we're going to keep it right on schedule. We're counting on that.

WOODRUFF: Right down to...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're going to hold us to it, right?

WOODRUFF: In the past, CNN along with every other television news organization has had a sky box up high, but this year I'm with Alec Miran who is executive producer for CNN special events. What's going on? We're doing something different.

ALEC MIRAN, CNN SPECIAL EVENTS: You've been on the floor in the past, Judy. There is a much different energy down here than there is up there and we thought, why not do it from the floor.

So what we proposed and what's been accepted by the DNC was to literally anchor our coverage from this platform in the middle of the delegate floor. There are Michigan delegates behind us, there are Michigan delegates in front of us. Arizona is right next to us...

WOODRUFF: One of the battleground states.

MIRAN: Knowing you and Wolf, you'll get to know these people very well and develop a relationship with them and it's going to bring in a new dynamic, we hope, to our coverage.


WOODRUFF: We're looking forward to it. Monday through Thursday of next week. That's it for today's edition of INSIDE POLITICS today live from Fenway Park. I'm Judy Woodruff. Be sure to tune in to INSIDE POLITICS Sunday. I'll be bringing you the latest campaign news on the day before the start of the Democratic National Convention. Sunday, 10:00 a.m. Eastern, 7:00 a.m. Pacific right here on CNN.

Have a good weekend. "CROSSFIRE" and my friends James and Bob right coming up next.


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