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John Kerry Makes His Case in Primetime at FleetCenter

Aired July 30, 2004 - 08:00   ET


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For all those who believe that our best days are ahead of us, with great faith in the American people, I accept your nomination for president of the United States.


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: John Kerry is now the Democratic nominee, making his case in primetime here at the convention center in Boston at the FleetCenter. And now comes a massive cross country campaign tour that starts this hour on AMERICAN MORNING.


From Boston, here's Bill Hemmer.

HEMMER: Welcome back, everyone.

Eight o'clock here in Boston.

Welcome back to our special coverage, day five, as we close out the week here.

John Kerry and John Edwards at a campaign event that is just now wrapping up here in the Boston Harbor, in fact, just across the water from our location here. They will leave this city on a massive bus tour, heading across the country -- 21 states, two weeks, more than 40 cities, 3,500 miles in total. Today they will go through Connecticut, New York, eventually ending up in Scranton, Pennsylvania, one of the many stops, trying to build on the momentum from last night when Kerry accepted that nomination for president and made his case to the American people to be the next president.

How did he do? How well does America know him today, as opposed to this time yesterday morning? We'll talk about all that today. And we'll also look at the campaign and what it must do to win the critical swing states when we talk to Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack. He knows this candidate very well, a strong supporter over the past six months or so. Also, Jeff Greenfield is along here in a moment, a speechwriter with a heck of a lot of talent in his own right. We'll talk to Jeff about his reflections on last night.

Heidi, we're with the bus today, election express.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: We're so excited about that. HEMMER: We're the lucky ones today.


HEMMER: How are you doing?

Good morning to you.

COLLINS: I'm doing great. And I want those snapshots from inside the bus, because I still haven't seen those.

HEMMER: You've got it.

COLLINS: All right, Bill, thanks so much.


COLLINS: Other news this morning, in a few minutes, we'll look at a case of celebrity stalking and what happened to Catherine Zeta Jones when we talk to publicist Lizzie Grubman about that. All kinds of frightening messages that she has gotten from someone that was...

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Did she drive over here?

COLLINS: I'm not sure.

CAFFERTY: Just a...

COLLINS: I'm not sure about that.

CAFFERTY: It's just a question.

COLLINS: All right. We're bringing in Jack now.


Coming up in the "Cafferty File," we'll tell you about a man who spent all six of his honeymoons getting Mickey Mouse tattooed all over his body. And we'll show you a picture of a beach in China that will make you want to head for higher ground. The "Cafferty File" is coming up in a little less than an hour, I think.

COLLINS: Super. Yes. We'll get right to it.

CAFFERTY: Did she drive over here?

COLLINS: I'm not sure. We're checking on that.

All right, Bill, back to you in Boston now. Your turn.

HEMMER: Oh, Jack, Jack, Jack.

CAFFERTY: How you doing, Billy?

HEMMER: Jack, man.

CAFFERTY: Everything all right?

HEMMER: I miss you.


HEMMER: Yes, things are just fine.

Things are just fine. I'm just (UNINTELLIGIBLE) with you, my man.

CAFFERTY: How come you're not in the bus?

HEMMER: We will be later.


HEMMER: Stay tuned.


HEMMER: Not today, but coming up soon.

CAFFERTY: All right.

HEMMER: Hey, the party's over in Boston. The road trip now just getting started. John Kerry starts that two week campaign tour today. Last night, accepting that nomination at the FleetCenter from the Democratic faithful here in Boston, Kerry leaning heavily on his military record in his speech, portraying himself as strong on homeland security, directly asking the president to take the campaign on the high road, but also taking a number of opportunities to slam the administration and its policies.


KERRY: We need to make America once again a beacon in the world. We need to be looked up to and not just feared. We need to lead a global effort against nuclear proliferation to keep the most dangerous weapons in the world out of the most dangerous hands in the world. We need a strong military and we need to lead strong alliances. And then, with confidence and determination, we will be able to tell the terrorists: You will lose and we will win. The future doesn't belong to fear; it belongs to freedom.


HEMMER: Senators Kerry and John Edwards kicking of their Believe In America whistle-stop campaign tour here in Boston. A live picture now from across the harbor. It is an absolutely stunning day here in the Northeast -- blue skies above. It will heat up later throughout the day, high in humidity, but all in all a wonderful summer day in late July here in Boston.

The question, though, on everybody's minds, did Kerry hit a home run last night? Did he even need to? Or, to borrow another baseball angry, did he only have to get on base? Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack close to the nominee and has been for many months.

He's now live with me here in Boston, as well.

Good morning to you.

GOV. TOM VILSACK (D), IOWA: Good morning, Bill.

HEMMER: How well does America know John Kerry this morning than they did at this time yesterday?

VILSACK: I'll tell you something, Bill, there hasn't been a home run hit in Boston like this since 1975, when Carlton Fisk won game six against the Reds. John Kerry did a great job last night. He projected himself as a strong, forceful leader. That's what he had to do. He got the job done.

HEMMER: Ultimately, though, in the 1975 seven game series, the Cincinnati Reds beat the Boston Red Sox.


HEMMER: Does George Bush come back on John Kerry now in the month of August?

VILSACK: I don't believe so. I think John Kerry created a terrific contrast last night in his speech between the Bush doctrine on war and the Kerry approach on war, on how we have to get this economy rolling and create more jobs, expand access to health care, an aggressive domestic agenda. And, also, he laid to rest this mischaracterization of his stances on taxes. There will be a middle class tax cut. Ninety-eight percent of Americans will enjoy a tax cut under the John Kerry administration.

So this was a great speech. And I think America wakes up knowing, confident that this man is prepared to lead from day one.

HEMMER: Critics would come back and say it lacks specifics. Critics would also come back and say this is still a senator who has the most liberal record in the Senate and still this is a man who flip-flops on a number of issues. Before you answer it, here's how he addressed that last night.


KERRY: Now I know there are those who criticize me for seeing complexities and I do, because some issues just aren't all that simple.


HEMMER: Was that effective?

VILSACK: Absolutely. Absolutely. These are complicated, very complicated issues. But, you know, he did provide specifics last night, Bill. He talked about his plan to get this economy rolling. He talked about renewable energy. He talked about expanding access to health care with very specific proposals. He has a very specific plan and to prove it he suggested that everybody check out his Web site,, with all of the specifics.

We're not going to lack for specifics on the Kerry side. The question is what is the Bush plan for the next four years? And why isn't President Bush running on a record for the last four years?

HEMMER: It was your state, home state of Iowa, that helped catapult John Kerry along this campaign. Back in mid-January, a strong comeback performance to take number one in those caucuses. A "Des Moines Register" poll taken about a week ago shows your state still dead even, just about, George Bush 46, John Kerry 45.

How does he win Iowa and how does he win the other battleground states nearby?

VILSACK: The same way he won the caucuses, by reaching beyond the likely voters to the folks who will marginally vote, the folks who vote every so often. He has a message for them. He has a message of hope and opportunity, which will resonate with folks, just as he had that message with veterans and firefighters. They came to the caucus in numbers unexpected, one of the reasons why he was successful in Iowa.

HEMMER: And ultimately, in addition to that, why did he win Iowa?

VILSACK: He won because he had a terrific organization. He won because he had my wife's endorsement. He won because he had a message that resonated with people. He has a value system that is appreciated in the Midwest. He is talking about a more hopeful, more optimistic America. And that is what folks in the heartland want to hear. He also has a plan for prosperity in rural America.

HEMMER: Tom Vilsack is the governor of Iowa.

Nice to see you and thank you.

VILSACK: You bet.

HEMMER: We'll talk again.

Back to Heidi again now in New York -- Heidi.

COLLINS: OK, Bill, thanks.

It is six minutes past the hour now.

Time for a look at some of today's other news with Daryn Kagan.

More on the 9/11 report, right Daryn?

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, a big day today, Heidi. Just about three hours from now, the Senate will begin its first hearing on the September 11 commission report. Among the recommendations being considered, a creation of a new counter-terror center and the appointment of a national intelligence director. The Governmental Affairs Committee will hear from Commission Chairman Thomas Kean and Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton today.

The September 11 commission is expected to continue working when its government funding runs out next month. Panel leaders tell the "New York Times" they are seeking private charitable donations and intend to open an office in Washington. The move will allow them to continue to lobby for the recommended overhaul of the national intelligence system.

There are no new leads this morning in the disappearance of Lori Hacking. Police have taken a break from searching at the Salt Lake City municipal landfill to give cadaver dogs a rest. Investigators say they have gathered a good amount of DNA evidence from the Hacking home. Her husband Mark is the only person named by police as a person of interest in the investigation.

High winds are fanning the flames of a wildfire in Oregon. The flames are charring the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. So far, 10,500 acres have burned. More than 800 people are fighting the blaze this morning, which is only 35 percent contained.

Those folks could certainly use a break from Mother Nature. Is it on the way to the West Coast?


COLLINS: The U.N. Security Council is set to vote today on a U.S. sponsored resolution against Sudan. The measure demands that the government take steps to disarm Arab militias blamed for killing thousands of black African villagers and driving millions from their homes in the Darfur region of Sudan.

Samantha Power is the author of "A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide."

She's joining us from Watertown, Massachusetts this morning.

Samantha, thanks for being here.

I know that you have spent a month in the region and we are hearing these reports of tens of thousands of people being murdered in horrific ways. Take us there to what you saw and give us the situation.

SAMANTHA POWER, AUTHOR, "A PROBLEM FROM HELL": Well, what I encountered in traveling around Darfur, which is a huge area, so I have to say anything I experienced was anecdotal by definition, but I encountered dead men who were lying, having been shot in the back of the head, 14 of them, in a ravine. I encountered wells that had been stuffed with sand, which the villagers said prior to that had been stuffed with bodies. So evidence of war crimes and then an effort to cover the tracks of the perpetrators. And crucially now, I encountered what I think is a ticking time bomb, which is somewhere in the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have been gathered in camps that are now flooding because of the rains.

And, of course, when you get concentrated individuals who are malnourished because of the inability to access food and because of the displacement and you combine that with rains and mosquitoes, you get a grave risk of cholera and measles and other diseases and so on. So that's, I think, what we have to be concerned with in the near term.

But the long-term issue is how are these people going to get back to their homes?

COLLINS: That is a long-term issue, indeed.

Tell me, and it may seem like a very complex question, but why are these people being killed?

POWER: Well, there was a traditional competition for resources, for water and for land, between African Muslims on the one hand, who tended to be farmers and were sedentary, and Arab Muslims, on the other, who tended to be more nomadic.

The government of Sudan responded to a rebellion, quite a small rebellion, by arming these Arab nomads and creating Arab militias that have gone around terrorizing people and have decided to solve the resource competition problem by basically eradicating the African Muslim presence in the rural areas.

So it's a combination of power, land, money and now real ethnic chauvinism. I mean now the perpetrators are sort of saying that they're going to wipe out black life in the region. So it's taking on a genocidal tint in recent months.

COLLINS: Is this another Rwanda?

POWER: Not in terms of the body count. At this point, I would say somewhere between 30,000 and 100,000 people have been killed in Rwanda. Of course, 800,000 people were murdered in 100 days. But certainly in terms of the potential scale of the death and the loss of life, as I mentioned, more than a million people have been displaced. They're in these camps. They have no way to get back to their homes. Access to food and water is incredibly scarce. And, I have to stress this, the Arab militia have not stopped their attacks on the camps.

Now, just when I was there, you know, if you spent a day in a refugee camp, some people, you know, dozens of people would come up to you and say this is what happened to me yesterday. You know, my husband was assaulted, my wife was raped, my daughter was raped. These attacks are ongoing.

So while we are fortunate now to be able to tackle the problem before it becomes a Rwanda, I think it's important for all of us to be aware that it is heading very much in that direction.

COLLINS: You say tackle the problem, let's talk about that U.N. resolution quickly. The vote will be today. But I understand that there was some verbiage in there. The word in particular sanctions, that the U.S. is calling for, that the U.N. now thought was too severe.

How -- what kind of an impact is this going to have if there's not that much pressure being put on this government?

POWER: Well, one of the problems with the kind of -- the warfare that has gone on in New York in the Security Council over the course of the last week is that I think it reveals to the Sudanese government how much discord there is in the international community among the states that make up the United Nations. And they will take advantage of that discord very much to their benefit.

If they feel that the world is not united, that America is alone in wanting to pressure them, they will play the Europeans and the Americans off each other, they will take advantage of Russian and Chinese support for their sovereignty.


POWER: So it's a real risk, really. This kind of discord does not send the right signal. But sanctions alone will not be enough. I mean what is needed is an international presence on the ground in Darfur so as to actually protect the refugees.


Samantha Power, thanks so much for your insight on this.

Again, we do appreciate your time.

POWER: Thank you.

COLLINS: Bill, back to Boston now.

HEMMER: All right, Heidi.

Last night's speech was called the most important John Kerry would have to make to date. He, however, may consider the speech he gave on Capitol Hill back in the early 1970s reflecting on his days in Vietnam.

However, last night, a range of tactics and themes, including taking a page from George W. Bush's 2000 campaign playbook.

Last night, again.


KERRY: We have it in our power to change the world again. But only if we're true to our ideals. And that starts by telling the truth to the American people. As president -- that is my first pledge to you tonight. As president, I will restore trust and credibility to the White House.


HEMMER: So, then, today on the day after, how effective was the speech?

Our senior analyst, Jeff Greenfield, who knows a thing or two about speeches in his time, here with me now in the harbor -- good morning to you.

The first Roman Catholic candidate in 44 years.


HEMMER: How did he play, let's say, the religion card last night?

GREENFIELD: I think this is really critical. The Kerry campaign and the Bush campaign both understand the power of faith, the fact that it is the most easily recognizable way you can define who's going to vote. Churchly. The more often you go to church, the more likely you are to vote Republican. This is a change in the last 20 years.

But watch how Kerry dealt with that issue, this New Englander who's notoriously reticent about talking about his faith.

Just listen to this.


KERRY: I don't want to claim that God is on our side. As Abraham Lincoln told us, I want to pray humbly that we are on God's side.


GREENFIELD: Now, that was the biggest applause line of the night for two reasons. One, Democrats are nervous about the power of the faith-based community to turn out the vote. The Bush campaign has been working that community. They've been reaching out to evangelicals.

And the second thing is, I think, that is also a way to say to those folks in the mush middle, whoever they are, who might be religious people but maybe a little uneasy, let's -- this is a humility argument. Because if you think god's on your side, you might act too aggressively.

HEMMER: Go back 20 years. He wins the Senate for the first time in 1984 in that state. And at that time, he drew on his themes -- military record, his service in Vietnam.

How effective was it last night?

GREENFIELD: Very. I mean I think the one mistake that the campaign might have made was putting on the crew members of the Swift boat before 10:00, when the broadcast networks joined, because the whole theme of strength, which is the theme of this convention, A Stronger America, his months in Vietnam, as the Bush campaign points out, as a way of -- that's a metaphor for strength. You don't have to wonder whether I'm strong enough, I saved these guys' lives. HEMMER: And he referred to that when he kind of mentioned the flag last night, too.

Listen to that right now.


KERRY: You see that flag up there? We call her Old Glory. The stars and stripes forever. I fought under that flag, as did so many of those people who are here tonight and all across the country. That flag flew from the gun turret behind my head and it was shot through and through and tattered, but it never ceased to wave in the wind.


HEMMER: From last evening again. If you're Karl Rove watching this speech, what are you concerned about? What areas do you think he was effective? Where do you have to counterattack?

GREENFIELD: John Kerry, I think, would -- Karl Rove would be concerned about the fact that he personalized himself in a way this aloof New Englander didn't -- the stories of his kids, his own stories about his parents. You might call them a little corny, but they did serve to flush out the man.

I think you're going to be looking at, fine, yes, he was a hero. How come he never talks about what he's done in the last 20 years? It's because, the Bush campaign will say, he can't defend his Senate record on issues like strength, shoring up the military, intelligence and values. You are going to hear a lot about that from the Bush campaign in the next couple of months.

HEMMER: You're off and running.


HEMMER: We'll see you down the road, OK, Jeff?


HEMMER: All right.

Back to Heidi again in New York.

COLLINS: Bill, thanks.

Still to come this morning, New York City hopes for the best and prepares for the worst. A stunning show of force to be ready for terror.

Plus, disturbing details from a Hollywood actress involving an alleged stalker. We're going to talk with a woman who's handled such cases before. Celebrity publicist Lizzie Grubman is with us on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COLLINS: A frightening ordeal in court this week for Catherine Zeta Jones and husband Michael Douglas. They testified at a hearing for a woman accused of sending death threats to the actress because she was obsessed with Michael Douglas. One such letter graphically threatened, "We are going to slice her up like meat on a bone and feed her to the dogs."

Publicist Lizzie Grubman has worked with many stars.

She joins us this morning to talk about the dark side of celebrities.

So you heard that there. There are many other quotes.

Have you ever seen a case this bad or this graphic?

LIZZIE GRUBMAN, PUBLICIST: I've never seen one this bad, but look in the case of Rebecca Schaeffer. I mean that was just as bad, if not worse. So...

COLLINS: "My Sister Sam." She was killed by a stalker.

GRUBMAN: Yes. And at that point, nobody realized what a stalker really was. So now we take stalkers much more seriously. And, you know, we have to be much more careful with what goes on out there.

COLLINS: How do you advise these clients of yours when this type of situation is happening? Is it something that you want to publicize very much?

GRUBMAN: Oh, we never want to publicize this. You know, I personally don't deal with my clients' fan mail. I mean they have fan clubs. You know, whenever I do get fan mail for my clients, I basically don't even open it. I, you know, I send it over to their management and let their management do it or their fan clubs. And they have security detail teams that go through these, you know, through the mail before they give it to the clients. They send autographs back and forth.

And basically they have to be very, very careful because these letters get dangerous. And when the security team does see continuous letters that are dangerous, they hand it over to the authorities.

COLLINS: OK. So these people are trained and they deal with this all the time?

GRUBMAN: They deal with it all the time. And this is something -- we always keep it away from the press. We didn't hear about this Catherine Zeta Jones situation until it actually went to court because this is something we don't publicize because this is what gets the stalker off. The more attention they get is what they want. They want people to know what, you know, that they're in love with Michael Douglas or that, you know, they want to be on TV. This is what they're going for.

COLLINS: All right, Catherine Zeta Jones testified for three hours about this.

How does a celebrity's life change when this type of situation comes up?

GRUBMAN: They're frightened. Can you imagine? They are so scared. They don't want to leave their house. Everywhere they go, they have to have security guards. They have to look over their shoulder. They get petrified. Think of the movie "The Bodyguard," OK? Think of Whitney Houston. What was going on? In one respect, she was thinking this can't possibly be true. But in the other respect, it was true.

That is the perfect example. Everyone looked at that movie and was like oh, you know, it was a love story. It was a love story, but it really wasn't a love story. It was reality. That is what goes on.

COLLINS: And good point, too, because she was, Catherine Zeta Jones, in the middle of shooting the second "Oceans Eleven" when all of this was going on, trying to pull off this major movie and yet, what, looking over her shoulder?

GRUBMAN: Yes, constantly, and thinking wait a second, is that the person who's writing me the letters? Is that the person who's writing me this letter? You don't even know. She couldn't even go to the grocery store. She couldn't go to the local 7-Eleven. It was scary.

COLLINS: How do they protect themselves?

GRUBMAN: They basically have to protect themselves by going to the police, having extra security guards, you know, and basically trusting the people that they surround themselves with, which is very scary.

COLLINS: All right, Lizzie Grubman, thanks so much this morning.

GRUBMAN: Thank you.

COLLINS: It's been unbelievable to watch those clips.

Thanks so much.

Still to come this morning, police want to know who put an ingredient for some poison in jars of baby food. There is a new development in that case. We'll get straight to it on AMERICAN MORNING after this.


COLLINS: We're going to check in with Jack now and the Question of the Day.

CAFFERTY: Thank you, Heidi.

John Kerry's critics call him a flip-flopper, aloof, arrogant, cold. But his kids call him dad and last night they told some stories of how John Kerry once saved a hamster from a watery doom by actually giving it CPR and how he's dedicated to making sacrifices for his country.

So being this is Friday, we thought we'd have a little fun with this.

What would your kids tell the news media about you?

Gord writes from Niagara Falls: "Unless my kids needed the car or money, they would tell the media that they were orphans."

Kay in central Florida: "Who cares what his kids say? Smart children remember on which side their bread is buttered, or spread with ketchup, as the case may be. I have not been concerned with what other politicians' children say and I'm not ready to start now."

Brenda in Townsend, Georgia: "My daughter once wrote an essay for the school newspaper listing all the things her mother does for her, beginning with my flare for making macaroni and cheese from a box and ending with she even changes my sheets once in a while. I never revived a hamster, but I did freeze one to death once by leaving it in its cage in the car during a Vermont blizzard. We could have used John Kerry then."

Reg in Thunder Bay, Ontario: "My kids would say I'm a silly old fool who sits up every morning drinking coffee and writing to Jack Cafferty and that I should get a life."

And on the subject of the John Kerry salute last night, we got this: "If you saw the salute, it looked like Tonto searching for the Lone Ranger."

COLLINS: Anonymous, I know.

CAFFERTY: Yes. And that's, I, you know, I love John Kerry. I love all politicians. They're my favorite people in the world. This is, it's Friday and I'm tired. And don't take all this stuff so seriously. You're getting all twisted up in a knot about...

COLLINS: You're getting all bent.


COLLINS: All right, Jack.

CAFFERTY: Chill out.

COLLINS: Thanks so much.

CAFFERTY: Calm down.

COLLINS: We're chilling out.


COLLINS: Bill -- back to you. Just chill out, all right?

HEMMER: All right, thanks.

I'm trying to figure out an answer for that one there, Jack.

CAFFERTY: Which one?

HEMMER: Give me a little time here, OK?

Well, your e-mail question, you know? (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

CAFFERTY: What would your kids say about you?

COLLINS: That would be neat.

HEMMER: Well...

CAFFERTY: Oh, man.

HEMMER: You know, listen, if my kids told me I was their father, that would be news.

COLLINS: What are you trying to say?


HEMMER: You know exactly what I'm trying to say. I'm single and I'm clear. Free and clear.

CAFFERTY: Childless in Massachusetts.


COLLINS: Wow, that's the news of the morning.

HEMMER: In a moment here, a show of force so strong that many New Yorkers scratching their heads in confusion. That story is ahead. Andy has that in a moment.

Plus, bad blood -- a bench clearing brawl. Now it is time to pay the piper in a big way, too.

We're back live in Boston in a moment on Campaign 2004.

Back after this.



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