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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS
President Bush Headlines Final Day of RNC
Aired September 2, 2004 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: The president's crowning moment. What will he say to Americans tonight? And could it tip the tight race his way?
A new wing of the GOP, 9/11 Republicans.
SEN. ZELL MILLER (D), GEORGIA: In this hour of danger, our president has had the courage to stand up.
ANNOUNCER: How's the Bush camp appealing to these converts?
Ready to rumble. John Kerry won't waste any time getting into the post-convention fray. And his running mate already is pouncing.
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you had left to go get a Diet Coke during the vice president's speech, you would have missed everything he said about the economy and jobs and what he's going to do about healthcare.
ANNOUNCER: Now, live from the Republican National Convention in New York, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Well, thank you for joining us, as Republicans prepare for their big convention finale here at Madison Square Garden.
For days, this hall has echoed with speeches praising the president and urging his reelection. Tonight, George Walker Bush gets to make the case for himself to a nation still apparently divided about his leadership during the last four years and about his vision for the future.
As the incumbent, Bush does not need to introduce himself to voters the way John Kerry did at his convention, but the president does face his own unique set of opportunities and challenges tonight.
Let's go to our podium reporter and our senior White House correspondent John King.
JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hello to you, Judy. The president was here in the hall earlier today. I spoke to his wife, the first lady, a short time ago. She says he is relaxed and very much looking forward to tonight's speech.
But make no mistake about it: This is a critical moment for the president. This race is tied 50/50. The president believes he has a little momentum, this his chance tonight to make a direct appeal for four more years.
GEORGE W. BUSH (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tax relief is on the way.
KING (voice-over): Testing themes and his unique convention stage, a president, aides promise, who will offer an upbeat assessment of his first term and a detailed agenda for his second.
G. BUSH: Thank you very much. You can now turn off the mike.
KING: Playful here, but in his prime-time address, Mr. Bush will also add to the critical convention chorus suggesting Democrat John Kerry is unfit to assume command of the war on terror. Vice President Cheney again stressed that theme the morning after his big speech.
DICK CHENEY (R), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don't need indecision or confusion.
KING: Tonight's speech is a defining moment for a president who believes one reason his father lost back in 1992 was a failure to offer a clear second-term agenda.
KARL ROVE, BUSH-CHENEY POLITICAL ADVISER: People want to know what you've done and they want to know why you did it. But they also want to know what it is that you'll do in a new term.
KING: Aides promise new several new initiatives dealing with workplace skills, healthcare, and retirement, wrapped in what Mr. Bush will call a liberty agenda that leaves more choices in the hands of citizens, not government.
Mr. Bush also will push for some of the unfinished business of the first term, calling on Congress to make his tax cuts permanent, pass his stalled energy plan and his so-called faith-based initiative. Mr. Bush also wants caps on medical malpractice awards and to let small businesses pool together to buy health insurance, smiles, because the president believes he has the momentum, but he also know some signs are troubling for an incumbent.
The record surplus he inherited is now a record deficit. A majority of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track. And the continuing insurgency in Iraq is an election wild card. The cozy theater in the round approach is designed to stress a Bush campaign theme that their candidate is more approachable and likable, the backdrop an unmistakable reminder of the city hit hardest in the September 11 attacks. (END VIDEOTAPE)
KING: Aides acknowledge these new initiatives, again, they call it a liberty agenda, aimed directly at the economic anxiety still commonplace, especially in the key industrial battleground states.
Judy, the president hopes his approach, saying let you make the decisions, not the government make your decisions, will draw a sharp contrast to what he says is the liberal approach favored by Senator Kerry. And in another sign that both campaigns view this race as extremely tight, the president will deliver that speech, let the confetti fall, and then go on to Pennsylvania.
WOODRUFF: All right, John King. And we're going to hear from you again in the next hour and hear some of your interview with First Lady Laura Bush. John, thank you.
KING: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: Well, as President Bush heads into his speech tonight, yet another reminder of how close this presidential race is. A new American Research Group poll shows John Kerry leading Bush by two points among registered voters nationwide.
Among likely voters, though, Bush is ahead of Kerry by one percentage point. This survey was taken Monday through Wednesday, before Zell Miller and Dick Cheney's speeches last night.
Senator Kerry cooling his heels, you might say, back home in Massachusetts. But that will change abruptly once the convention gavel comes down here in New York tonight.
CNN's Joe Johns joins us from Nantucket.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Judy.
Senator Kerry spent the last day of his vacation, at least part of that day, out on a boat taking in the sights on the shores of Nantucket. But his campaign was very busy slamming President Bush for his record on jobs and the economy. Senator Kerry later today, tonight, in fact, will be hitting the road to Ohio, that all-important battleground state.
They also have a new ad going up there, talking about jobs and the economy. Senator John Edwards will also meet up with Senator Kerry in Ohio, Edwards earlier today talking about the president's speech tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDWARDS: And I just remind everybody, when you listen to the president speak tonight and he talks about his second-term agenda, talk is cheap. The question is, he's not -- this is not 2000 when he made all these promises about producing millions of jobs, how he was going to make -- provide healthcare more available and more affordable for millions of Americans.
Now he's got a record. He's got a record. We're going to see how what he says tonight, how it compares to what he's actually done over the last four years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNS: So, the candidates and all their spouses are expected to meet in Ohio tonight for that midnight rally, just about an hour or so after the president's speech is scheduled to end.
After that, the spouses and the candidates go their separate ways to four separate states, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan. It all culminates on Monday, the campaign says, with front-porch events in virtually all of the battleground states -- Judy, back to you.
WOODRUFF: Joe, once this convention wraps up, nobody stops to take a breath between now and November 2. OK, Joe, thanks very much.
Back here in New York, more protests today and more arrests. About 150 demonstrators gathered near Grand Central Terminal chanting, "Fight AIDS, not Iraq." Authorities say 20 protesters were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.
On the convention floor last night, security officials carried away a woman who interrupted Vice President Cheney's speech and prompted him to stop talking for several minutes. She was shouting and she was wearing a dress that was scrawled with the words, "Fire Cheney."
White House chief of staff Andrew Card joins us later with his take on the convention and the president's speech tonight.
Up next, Democrat Dick Gephardt weighs in on the GOP Garden party, sharing his unique perspective as a John Kerry rival turned supporter.
Also ahead, some no-holds-barred reviews of last night's top speakers.
And we'll give you the first taste of John King's one-on-one interview with first lady Laura Bush.
With 61 days until the election, this is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.
WOODRUFF: Michael W. Smith -- he is one of the entertainers we're going to be hearing from tonight at this convention, rehearsing right now. A Christian and country music singer, Michael W. Smith -- we'll be hearing more from him tonight.
Well, once President Bush has delivered his acceptance speech and the balloons have dropped, the official kickoff to the general election campaign begins.
Joining me now to talk about this convention and the coming campaign, one of John Kerry's formal rivals for the nomination, Congressman Richard Gephardt of Missouri.
Congressman Gephardt, we heard last night from Zell Miller. We heard from Vice President Cheney. They said, in essence, John Kerry is weak on defense. He's voted against one defense system after another. Aren't they right about those votes and doesn't that hurt John Kerry?
REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D), MISSOURI: Well, they're not right.
John Kerry will be a very strong commander in chief, very strong on defense. And what was odd about last night was that all the weapons systems, or most of them, that Zell Miller talked about John Kerry supposedly voting against were also weapons systems that Dick Cheney tried to end when he was secretary of defense.
Look, there's a zillion votes out there. The truth is that John Kerry is very strong on defense. The bottom line here is, if you think the direction the country's going in is a good direction, you ought to vote for George Bush. If you think we need to move in a new direction, then people need to vote for John Kerry, because he has a program for the future for this country.
WOODRUFF: But the vice president went further, Congressman Gephardt. He said John Kerry thinks -- says that he'll defend America after it's attacked. He ridiculed him and said, you know, America's already been attacked. How does John Kerry answer that?
GEPHARDT: Well, he answers it by what he has done in the Congress as a senator to try to keep us safe after 9/11.
I thought it was demeaning last night that there was an insinuation in those speeches that Democratic leaders and Democrats had no regard for the security of the country, but were only motivated by trying to beat the president. Nothing could be further from the truth.
That really incenses me, because I and John Kerry and a lot of other Democrats voted with the president on the war in Iraq. We voted for the biggest increase in the defense budget that we've had in peacetime, and John Kerry voted for that and Zell Miller voted for that and I voted for that.
So, the idea that we're somehow unpatriotic, not interested in the country's defense and people's security is -- just couldn't be further from the truth.
WOODRUFF: Well, other line of attack that we heard was from Vice President Cheney and from Rudy Giuliani, and that is his changing positions. Rudy Giuliani said it's a good thing John Edwards is talking about two Americas, because there could be one America for John Kerry to vote one way on an issue and another America for him to vote against it. The vice president talked about a pattern of indecision. How does John Kerry deal with this?
GEPHARDT: Well, by telling the truth about his record and telling about his commitment to the security of this country. His commitment to our security goes back to Vietnam.
He volunteered. He went there. He stood the fire of the enemy. He came back. And when he saw that the war was not the right thing to do and was going in the wrong direction, he spoke out courageously about his feelings then.
And in his career in Congress, he's been a strong proponent of defense. When you've got all these votes, anybody can go in and take, well, this vote's a little different from that vote and therefore there's an inconsistency.
There is a strong consistency in John Kerry's record on defense, on keeping the people of this country safe, and most importantly he will do things differently than we've been doing on jobs, on healthcare, on gasoline prices, and on what we're doing in Iraq. He's been critical of the way the president went to Iraq, and rightly critical, because we're now bogged down in a $200 billion event that's costing America's taxpayers every day.
WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about some polls. New polls in battleground states do show some slippage on John Kerry's part. Some of these political experts are saying that's because he underestimated, didn't handle the swift boat attack ads very well.
Do you think that there was a failure on the part of the Kerry campaign to deal with that?
GEPHARDT: No, I thought -- I think they've done a good job of dealing with what is the most negative campaign I've ever seen.
I mean, Republicans, including last night, have nothing but negatives and pessimism and character attacks. The American people are tired of this. They want a positive vision for the future of where this great country can go. And that's what John Kerry's been trying to give them. And so, maybe he didn't answer the next day or whatever he should have done, but he's trying to take a positive tack.
And right now, he's going to come out of the end of this convention with, again, a positive program for jobs. We've lost two million jobs in the last four years; 45 million Americans don't have healthcare. Gasoline prices are at an all-time high.
This economy, this country is not moving in the right direction. And people want more than negative, smear, slash-and-burn campaigns. They're tired of it. They want what John Kerry and John Edwards are giving the American people.
WOODRUFF: A passionate Richard Gephardt, it's good to talk to you.
GEPHARDT: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: We thank you for giving us a few minutes of your time. We appreciate it. Thank you.
GEPHARDT: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: And in a little bit, we're going to get the Republican point of view when I'm joined by White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card.
But first, it's time to hand out the report cards. We have a panel of journalists standing by to grade last night's convention speakers coming up.
WOODRUFF: All this week, we've been inviting smart journalists to join us to grade the convention speakers.
And with me now are three of the smartest: Liz Marlantes with "The Christian Science Monitor;" Terry Neal with "The Washington Post," chief political correspondent, washingtonpost.com; and Jonah Goldberg, who is the online editor at large at "The National Review."
I'm going to start with you, Liz.
Last night's speakers, Zell Miller, Vice President Cheney, how did they do?
LIZ MARLANTES, "THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR": Well, I would say, on the whole, politically, the message was right on. Obviously, we've learned that Republicans intend to run this as who is tougher on the war on terrorism. And in that sense, I thought last night was really probably the pillar of the whole week in that sense. It's going to get that message right out there.
In terms of the delivery, I'm a little less sure. I think it will be interesting to see when the polls come out how voters reacted to Miller's speech. He was obviously right on message, but he also seemed a little bit negative and even angry at times. And I think it's possible that he turned some voters off with that.
You can often deliver an attack with a smile in a way that makes it more effective than one that seems too strident or angry.
We're competing with the music, but we're going to barrel ahead anyway.
Terry Neal, how do you grade them last night?
TERRY NEAL, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, I appreciate you reminding me that Dick Cheney spoke last night.
(LAUGHTER) NEAL: Because after Miller's speech, it kind of overshadowed everything, I thought.
No, I thought that the speeches, in one sense, did what they were supposed to do, because you have to have at least one attack night. The Democrats did the same thing. You've got to draw sharp distinctions with the other side. And I think they did that.
I think, in Miller's speech, he might have gone a little bit overboard. I have spent some time with him. I did a story about him that ran on the front page of "The Post" six years ago, when he was in the governor's office.
I spent two days with him, and he is a very charming guy. That didn't really come across last night. He spent most of his time attacking Bush -- and I think he should have a little bit done -- excuse me, attacking Kerry -- should have done more about Bush.
WOODRUFF: Jonah, did Zell Miller go overboard?
JONAH GOLDBERG, "THE NATIONAL REVIEW": On the substance, I think he crossed the line in a couple spots. The difference is, I think that it was an effective...
WOODRUFF: For example? Where did he cross?
GOLDBERG: Well, I think Democrats have a reason to take offense about some of the stuff about -- he didn't expressly say he was questioning their patriotism. But I think, if I were a Democrat, I would take offense to some of it.
WOODRUFF: Dick Gephardt just said that
GOLDBERG: Yes. And I think that's a fair criticism on some of those points.
Zell Miller was called Zigzag Zell for a very long time, long before he decided to endorse Bush. And I think you have to be intellectually honest on all that. But I do think like everyone wants -- all the media wants to make this into the Buchanan speech of 2004. And I think, unlike the Buchanan speech, this was a smart speech. It was an effective speech.
I think it probably wrapped up the white male independent -- that vote. I'd be interested to know if it scares away women, but I thought it was a real tough, smart speech.
WOODRUFF: A couple words on Dick Cheney.
GOLDBERG: Very vice presidential.
WOODRUFF: OK. All right, that covered it. All right, what does George W. Bush need to do tonight, Liz?
MARLANTES: Well, already, Democrats are pointing out that one of the big missing pieces of this convention has been the economy. There's been almost no discussion the jobs lost under Bush's watch. And really, Democrats have been surprised that they haven't tried to sort of make up for that.
And so, I think Bush is probably -- he may not talk about the economy directly, but he's got to get across a certain sense that he cares about people, that he's conscious of their problems. And I think we will see that tonight. The whole cares-about-people-like-me aspect of the president I think is something he's going to want to focus on tonight.
WOODRUFF: Quickly, Terry, what does the president need to do tonight?
NEAL: He's got to regain that stature of being presidential. When he decided to sort of buck tradition and get involved in political back-and-forth directly with John Kerry back in March, he made himself into a politician.
What he needs to do is come out and talk about his agenda, his positive agenda for the next four years, stay away from the attacks, let Kerry and Miller do that, and focus on telling people what he's going to do for the next four years.
WOODRUFF: Jonah, what do you think he needs to do?
GOLDBERG: I think it's absolutely true he needs to talk about the economy. And I think he will. That's what a lot of the Republicans are telling us.
I also think he needs to sort of remind the average American who hasn't been playing close attention how crazy the Bush-haters are for hating this guy. He needs to come across as a nice guy and make it seem like all those people who are saying these terrible things about him are completely unreasonable, in a way that Clinton was very effective of doing about making people like me seem unreasonable for hating him.
WOODRUFF: Well, that's not such a hard to do, is it, I mean, Terry, Liz, for him to come across as likable. He already gets points for that.
MARLANTES: Oh, absolutely. He has a huge edge over Kerry on likability. And that's something they've been exploiting all week. The beginning of the week, Ed Gillespie told us that he wants Bush to come across as a father and a husband and someone who likes baseball. So, they're absolutely hitting that.
NEAL: Oh, I'm sorry. Can I say real quick...
WOODRUFF: Two words.
NEAL: He spent tens of millions of dollars attacking John Kerry. It's kept Kerry down in the polls, but it hasn't moved him up. He has got to get back to that nice-guy image. And that's a challenge. That's what the speech is about.
WOODRUFF: Terry Neal, Jonah Goldberg, Liz Marlantes, great to see smart journalists on our program.
GOLDBERG: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: All right, coming up next, his big moment isn't until tonight, but President Bush has already made a visit right here to Madison Square Garden. We're going to get an update on the President's Day when our expanded edition of INSIDE POLITICS continue.
WOODRUFF: Tonight, the spotlight shines on Madison Square Garden. Six-and-a-half hours from now here on this center stage, President George Bush addresses the nation and the world.
Welcome back to this special 90-minute edition of INSIDE POLITICS live from the Republican National Convention. I'm Judy Woodruff.
The president has already been here to Madison Square Garden today. He stopped by to get a look at new stage set up and put up overnight and he also spent a few minutes visiting with police and convention personnel.
Our Kelly Wallace has more on what is at stake for the president tonight and what he needs to accomplish once he does take the stage.
KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy.
So much at stake with this incumbent president looked in a tight race for reelection. One of the goals, according to Bush/Cheney aides, having voters view the president not just as commander in chief, but as a concerned and likable leader, someone they want to hire for another four years.
WALLACE (voice-over): Getting a firsthand look before his critical speech.
G. BUSH: Tax relief is on the way.
WALLACE: President Bush on a stage surrounded by delegates, a convention first, part of an attempt to show his kinder, gentler side.
G. BUSH: Don't spend it all in one place. WALLACE: Call it making over Mr. Macho President, the headline of a recent story by Thomas DeFrank of "The New York Daily News."
TOM DEFRANK, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": He's got to come up with a persona and an appeal and an engaging side and tone to this speech. His aides all say that that's the real Bush, but that that part of him has been obscured by what one calls the hard-edged, warrior side of him.
WALLACE: His advisers thought his record in the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq would put him far out in front.
G. BUSH: We did the right thing, and the world is better off for it.
WALLACE: But along came problems in post-war Iraq, a sagging economy, criticism he's set in his ways.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What you really have is stubborn leadership.
WALLACE: And polls which show the president struggling against Senator Kerry on all domestic issues and on questions such as who cares more about people like you. And so, the effort to put a human face on the warrior leader from Laura Bush Tuesday.
LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: But he's still the same person I met at a backyard barbecue in Midland, Texas, and married three months later.
WALLACE: And the president himself, in a recent "New York Times" interview, for the first time acknowledging a miscalculation of what the conditions would be after the war in Iraq. This from the man who only months ago couldn't name one mistake he'd made.
G. BUSH: You know, I just -- I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference with all the pressure of trying to come up with an answer, but it hasn't yet.
WALLACE: And through the years, the president has admitted he does not mind when the expectations are very, very low. But Judy, fair to say expectations somewhat high tonight. With a good speech, the president has a chance to break this race wide open -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: It's different when you've been in office for four years.
WALLACE: It sure is.
WOODRUFF: All right. Kelly, thank you very much.
Well, with me now for more on the president's speech tonight, political analyst, Ron Brownstein, of the "Los Angeles times."
Ron, what should we expect to hear from the president? RON BROWNSTEIN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": Well, Judy, if you were sitting at home doing a jigsaw puzzle and you had the first three pieces down and there was room for only one more piece on the board, you'd have a pretty good idea of what that last piece would look like. And I think that's exactly the situation we're in here tonight.
We've had three nights of defense of the president's record for the first time on national security and a message of resolve and strength. The missing piece is a forward-looking agenda, especially on the domestic side for the second term. And I think you're going to get that tonight, as well a as a broad thematic defense of his approach on the war on terror.
WOODRUFF: How specific is he going to get?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, he needs to get specific about goals. But as we've seen this president, often he doesn't get very specific about means.
I mean, all indications are that he's going to reaffirm some goals that he's had, reforming Social Security to allow people to divert part of their payroll taxes into the stock market or other investments. He's probably, all indications are, going to talk about tax reform, he's going to talk about education reform, to some extent, healthcare.
But in all of these areas, I think they do not want to get to the point where they have so much detail in their proposal that it becomes a focal point of the campaign.
They want to have enough of an agenda that people can have a broad sense of where they're going to go in the second term. And also, not incidentally, rebut the Democratic argument that they're sort of out of ideas. But I don't think they want to put out a level of detail that allows Kerry to make any of the ideas the focal point of the campaign.
WOODRUFF: Ron, with three nights out of four behind them, does the Bush-Cheney campaign think this convention is working, or do they just have to wait and see the polls next week?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think, obviously, after the Democratic surprise of not more of a bounce, everybody does have to wait and see the polls. But yes, I think that they feel like they are driving home what they want to do.
One thing that we've seen I think in both -- in both conventions this year, partially because the broadcast networks are giving them less time, the candidates and the campaigns are paring down what they're trying to do. There's really been one unrelenting message.
Apart from some differences in language and tone, Zell Miller, Dick Cheney, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani all gave the same speech: President Bush is tough, he's resolved, he's Winston Churchill, and he's made us safer on the war on terror, John Kerry won't do it. There's a lot of things they haven't done. And to some extent -- to a large extent, that falls to the president tonight.
WOODRUFF: Some talk about Zell Miller and maybe some of the other speeches going over the top. I mean, just being so negative. And we heard that. I talked to Dick Gephardt earlier in the show.
Could it backfire, or...
BROWNSTEIN: Well, I don't know if it could backfire in the sense that this idea that voters, you know, recoil from negative campaigning I think is tremendously overrated. They tell you that in focus groups, but they remember the negative information that's provided to them.
I think it may make simply make it somewhat irrelevant. I mean, I thought Zell Miller last night painted a picture of John Kerry that was so extreme. And it may seem kind of over the top to many voters and not credible, because it was just so exaggerated in the way the he portrayed him and, indeed, the Democratic Party.
It was very reminiscent of someone you covered. Jeanne Kirkpatrick's -- another former Democrat, in 1984, said the Democrats blame America first, had, you know, sort of abandoned the defense of the country.
That was sort of an updated version of that case that he was making. But I think he was so hot that it may have seemed not credible to many voters.
WOODRUFF: Ron, if negative works, then do the Democrats make a mistake by not being more negative at their convention?
BROWNSTEIN: I think probably. I think there are many Democrats now who feel, whether it's more negative or more contrast, the big hole in the Kerry campaign has been driving a clear case for change.
Look, in the last month, the Bush campaign and these outside groups have reminded people, many voters of what they might not like about John Kerry, the idea that he's not decisive or that he's outside of mainstream values, especially in regards to what he did when he came home from Vietnam.
Clearly, many Democrats feel it is now incumbent after all of this on the Kerry campaign to remind voters of their hesitations about Bush. You know, the record on jobs, the economy, healthcare, indeed, Iraq itself.
WOODRUFF: But their convention is behind them.
BROWNSTEIN: And their convention is behind them. I think John Kerry is going out tonight and talking at 11:30 in a rally. There will be pressure on him, I think, from within his own camp and certainly from Democrats broadly to begin to make a sharper case for change.
Judy, their assumption had been there was a majority for change. They just had to reassure it. Now they're back in a situation where they have to drive a majority for change.
WOODRUFF: Ron Brownstein, we always learn a lot from you. Thanks very much.
BROWNSTEIN: Thank you, Judy.
WOODRUFF: Well, the appearances of a couple of what you might call nontraditional speakers at this convention highlights the effect of the 9/11 terror attacks. As our senior political analyst Bill Schneider reports, the political power of that terrible day almost three years ago has not gone unnoticed by the Republican Party.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): "I am a 9/11 Republican," actor Ron Silver has said.
RON SILVER, ACTOR: We will never forget. We will never forgive. We will never excuse.
SCHNEIDER: The GOP has become the 9/11 party. Every moment of this convention is steeped in threat and danger.
RUDY GIULIANI (R), FMR. NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: In times of war and danger, as we're now in...
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: There is no avoiding this war.
MILLER: In this hour of danger...
SCHNEIDER: The speakers kept evoking the name of a Democratic president, Franklin D. Roosevelt.
CHENEY: The day I was born was also the birthday of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
MILLER: President Roosevelt in a speech that summer...
MCCAIN: Franklin D. Roosevelt accepted his party's nomination by observing.
SCHNEIDER: They were talking about FDR, the war president. Their message, 9/11 is our Pearl Harbor.
CHENEY: In the space of just 102 minutes, more Americans were killed than we lost at Pearl Harbor.
SCHNEIDER: To this convention, the world before 9/11 is irrelevant.
GIULIANI: Before September 11, we were living with an unrealistic view of our world, much like observing Europe appease Hitler.
SCHNEIDER: 9/11 changed everything.
CHENEY: September 11, 2001, made clear the challenges we face.
SCHNEIDER: What about Iraq? The answer is 9/11.
GIULIANI: In any plan to destroy global terrorism, Saddam Hussein needed to be removed.
SCHNEIDER: What about the economy? The answer is 9/11.
CHENEY: Then came the events of September 11, which hit our economy very hard.
SCHNEIDER: What if you don't think the answer is 9/11?
GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: And to those critics who are so pessimistic about our economy, I say, don't be economic girlie men.
SCHNEIDER: There's only one issue in this election, in the view of the 9/11 party.
CHENEY: On the question of America's role in the world, the differences between Senator Kerry and President Bush are the sharpest, and the stakes for the country are the highest.
SCHNEIDER: This convention has a clear message. Now, what can counteract that message? Events, like a hurricane in Florida, or a bad jobs report in Michigan, or a bus bombing in Israel, or horrifying stories of beheadings in Iraq. Events have a way of stepping on even the most carefully crafted message -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: And we in the news business have watched that happen...
WOODRUFF: ... in a lot of campaigns. Bill Schneider, thanks very much.
Well, the current President Bush, and his father, the nation's 41st president, have been careful to keep their conversations private since George W. Bush took office. But when the first President Bush was asked this week on a radio program about some comments his son once made that the U.S. had "cut an run" in Iraq back in 1991, he let his guard down just a little. George H.W. Bush told Don Imus, "I saw that, and frankly it hurt a little bit."
The first President Bush noted that his son "hasn't said it again." He also said he's proud of the way the first Gulf War ended, and he's also proud of the way his son conducted the latest war in Iraq.
Checking the headlines now in our "Campaign News Daily," there are new developments in Ralph Nader's battle to get his name on state ballots. Washington State officials have approved Nader's petitions to be on the ballot there. But Oregon officials yesterday rejected his application. As of now, Nader is on 10 state ballots, including Florida, with potential access to the reform party line in six additional states.
Both presidential campaigns will be keeping a close eye on a government economic report that's coming out tomorrow morning. The government releases its monthly jobs report, and both campaigns are expected to spin the numbers in their favor, at least try to. Economists are predicting job growth of approximately 150,000 jobs.
The word "jobs" was heard a lot more in last month's Boston convention than it's been heard here in Madison Square Garden this week. "The New York Times" has totaled up the most popular word choices by speakers at both party conventions. "War" is tops among Republicans so far. But it wasn't used as much as Democrats.
"Healthcare" was tops among Democratic speakers. But Republicans have mentioned it much less often. The word "jobs" was mentioned nearly four times more often by Democrats than by the speakers here in New York. And not surprisingly, Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger has made the only reference to "girlie men" at either convention.
Just ahead, it's never too early to play the guessing game. Which Republicans are using this convention to lay the groundwork for 2008? Chuck Todd joins me with a long-term look ahead.
And just hours before the president takes center stage, we'll look back at memorable lines from past convention speeches.
Plus, an interview with Laura Bush. Our John King sits down with the first lady.
WOODRUFF: It's the final day of the Republican Party's 2004 convention. But never too early to check on who's positioning themselves for the '08 presidential race. I'm joined by Chuck Todd, editor-in-chief of "The Hotline," an insider's political briefing produced daily by "The National Journal."
All right, Chuck, which Republicans have been making the rounds with an eye to four years from now?
CHUCK TODD, "THE HOTLINE": I think the better question is, which Republicans haven't? I'll be honest, we had 16 separate candidate stories, all tracking 16 different candidates that have been floated as potential 2008 people.
But there were -- you know, there were four or five that made sure to do all the things that potential candidates do at conventions, which is go visit Iowa and New Hampshire delegations. And now, Florida's a popular spot for these 2008 guys.
Bill Frist made the rounds. George Allen made the rounds. Chuck hagel, Rudy Giuliani hit both Iowa and New Hampshire, and was very popular. The Iowa visit with Giuliani came the morning after his speech. So, it was -- it was a rock star performance. The congressman out there from Iowa invited him to this breakfast, and it was -- all they wanted -- they were looking for autographs. It was bigger than -- almost a bigger than life type of deal.
WOODRUFF: So, what is the buzz? What are you hearing about how people are rating these people and this whole notion that a social moderate can't win in this Republican Party? What are you hearing?
TODD: Well, this is what's amazing. I was looking at this list of 16 people that are getting floated, and the names you hear the most often, Romney and Hagel, and McCain, and Rudy and Pataki, George Pataki from New York. They're all these social moderates.
And every Republican strategist expert says not one of those guys could win Iowa. It's just impossible for a pro-choice or perceived pro-choice Republican to win an Iowa caucus.
And you know, I did my little informal survey, and all of them point to people like Bill Frist or George Allen, people that have had consistent pro-life positions and more social conservative. But there was one exception someone told me.
They said, "If we're still at war, if there's a perception that we need a war president, then that's the only avenue for Rudy and McCain to be able to buck this." Because the way to the social conservatives have kept their powder dry on the platforms here...
WOODRUFF: Is to focus on national security.
TODD: If it's a national security election in 2008, then maybe a Rudy or McCain. But they need -- that's what they have to have to break through this mold.
WOODRUFF: Chuck, there's one name that has been speculated all over the place about '08, the brother of the president, Florida Governor Jeb Bush. He's not even at the convention. Of course he's dealing with hurricanes in Florida.
What about that? What are you hearing?
TODD: Well, it's funny. You know, you hear this burnout on the Bush name. Nobody expects that, you know, win or lose, that you could ever have another Bush name, at least not in '08, not till 2012, particularly if this Bush loses.
But I think the most striking comment this week was the comment from mama Bush. The former first lady, Barbara Bush, told "USA Today" in an interview, she said -- they asked her about the idea of another Bush running for president. She goes, no, she thinks this will be the last time a Bush runs for president.
I just wonder if she told Jeb that, or maybe her grandson, George P. Bush, who a lot of people like to speculate on in years and years. It was a striking comment, and almost as if they're afraid to embrace the dynasty. Like somehow that would turn off voters.
WOODRUFF: It will be interesting to hear what Mr. Bush, the governor himself, has to say about this.
TODD: Well, he...
WOODRUFF: We'll find out.
TODD: He certainly doesn't like talking about it now, that's for sure.
WOODRUFF: Chuck Todd, "National Journal," thank you very much. "The Hotline," of course, an insider's political briefing, is produced daily by "The National Journal." You can go online to nationaljournal.com for subscription information.
Chuck, thanks very much.
Can you remember any line from a presidential candidate's acceptance speech? Actually, that isn't a trick question. There have been some memorable lines over the years. And we're going to hear some of them when INSIDE POLITICS returns.
WOODRUFF: When we cover a major party convention, we literally bear witness to history in the making. Some of the words President Bush utters tonight could become forever etched in the lexicon of American politics. CNN's national correspondent, Bruce Morton, recalls one-liners which are already there.
BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Usually, it's inaugural addresses where's you get the famous, memorable lines. You know.
JOHN F. KENNEDY (D), FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ask not what your country can do for you.
MORTON: Speeches accepting the nomination, a mixed batch. Barry Goldwater's in 1964 was memorable because it changed the Republican Party.
BARRY GOLDWATER (R), FMR. SENATOR: I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.
MORTON: He lost, but the party went conservative, went south, and elected Richard Nixon four years later. Ronald Reagan issued one of his famous lines, quoting John Winthrop, quoting the Old Testament.
RONALD W. REAGAN (R), FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We proclaimed a dream of an America that would be a shining city on a hill.
MORTON: One good rule, don't promise a tax increase. WALTER MONDALE (D), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mr. Reagan will raise taxes. And so will I. He won't tell you. I just did.
MORTON: Yes, and carried one state out of 50.
GEORGE HERBERT WALKER BUSH (R), FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Read my lips: no new taxes.
MORTON: But he had to raise them and lost his bid for reelection.
MICHAEL DUKAKIS (D), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Because this election is not about ideology. It's about competence.
MORTON: Wrong. It was all about ideology: murderers on weekend passes, the Pledge of Allegiance. Bush even campaigned in a flag factory. Dukakis got killed.
WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON (D), FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I still believe in a place called Hope.
MORTON: That's good. It doesn't commit you to anything, has a nice ring to it.
The most memorable moment of Al Gore's acceptance speech didn't involve words at all. A kiss is still a kiss, as time goes by. This president, four years ago...
G. BUSH: Don't mess with Texas.
MORTON: But this man wants to.
KERRY: And I'm reporting for duty!
MORTON: That would be the only line of that speech people remember.
And tonight, the president in the past week has said the war on terror may be unwinnable and that he's going to win it. Hard to predict what's going to come next.
Bruce Morton, CNN, New York.
WOODRUFF: Bruce, thanks for bringing back all those memories.
Well, just a short time ago, our John King sat down for a conversation with first lady Laura Bush. That's coming up, along with my conversation with the president's chief of staff, Andrew Card.
Later, I'll visit the delegation from a state that some people think is the key to winning the 2004 election.
ANNOUNCER: Nomination night for George Bush. What will the president say when he takes center stage tonight?
ANDREW CARD, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: It's going to be a great speech, and you'll find that the president will touch on all of the things that are important to the American people, because this president is talking about the future.
ANNOUNCER: We'll speak with White House chief of staff Andrew Card.
Nobody knows the president better than the first lady. And we just spoke with her.
L. BUSH: He's feeling good. He's feeling very good. He's looking forward to tonight, to be able to give this speech.
ANNOUNCER: Party time in New York. Even Donald Trump is impressed by all the Republican mixing and mingling.
DONALD TRUMP, CEO: I'm not used to this stuff. You know, being a real estate guy/movie star, I don't have to shake people's hands.
ANNOUNCER: Now, live from the Republican National Convention in New York, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.
WOODRUFF: Welcome back.
Exactly two months before the presidential election -- that's what it is today -- George W. Bush comes to the hall tonight to try to persuade Americans he deserves another four years on the job. His target audience will not necessarily be the GOP faithful on the convention floor, but those somewhat rare and highly-coveted voters who have not yet made up their minds.
The president's speech will serve as something of a starting point for the fall campaign. Our White House correspondent, Dana Bash, looks ahead to the president's remarks.
And Dana, what are you learning he's going to say?
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're just starting to get some of the excerpts coming over the transom. And the president is going to say that does -- that he thinks he is accepting the nomination, he will say, not for pride, not for power, but to keep America safe.
And he will also say, quote, "I believe that this nation wants steady, consistent, principled leadership."
Now, that is one of the main ways they think that they can appeal to that small slice of undecided voters, by saying that essentially, they know what they're getting with President Bush and they don't know what they're getting with John Kerry. Of course, they've been trying to make John Kerry into somebody who's not yet ready to lead this nation on national security.
And Judy, as the president has made his way here to New York, you've been hearing him talk a lot about the word "liberty," and talking about that in terms of his second term agenda. We're going to hear a lot about that tonight.
And in case you missed the reference to that word, you're going to see over him, while he speaks a big -- two big images of the Statue of Liberty, of course, here in New York. So they're not taking anything for granted in terms of the metaphor that they're using here.
Now the question is, what does that mean, this liberty agenda? First of all, he's going to talk internationally, about how it's important to make democracies spring up all around the world in order to stop the spread of terrorism. Those are themes we've heard before.
But on the domestic front, that's where we're going to hear some new issues. He's going to talk about, for example, healthcare access, making it possible for more people to get healthcare through various ways that are certainly in keeping with the Republican philosophy of free market ideas.
Retirement savings, probably going to talk about some of the idea he had in the past few years, in the last election that he didn't talk much about privatizing some ideas for retirement. And also, job and workplace stress. Talk about job training, talk about flex time for workers. Those are issues that the Bush campaign really thinks -- think they can work into this agenda.
The main political reason for all of this is to try to get some of what the Democrats have been talking about, to try to -- the two Americas. To try to get those middle class voters who are looking for some answers on some things that really squeeze them in their everyday life.
The president is going to talk about the need to help people get better careers, help people's lives improve, essentially, domestically.
So the Bush campaign is framing this in a way they hope, also, will help unite their own party, because they'll talk about opportunity. That is something that conservatives, moderates can all agree on -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Now Dana, we're also -- we're told there's also a style component to all this that we've been talking all week about how they've built this platform in the round in the middle of the Madison Square Garden. But talk about the style piece.
BASH: You know, Judy, Karl Rove, the president's top political advisor, told CNN this week that he thinks his biggest liability, the president's biggest liability is the fact that this country is so polarized. So to get to that -- those undecided voters, the few of them that are out there, they think that his leadership is the way to do it, that his style, that he is somebody who is much more likeable than John Kerry. They'll try to portray it tonight and even the atmospherics here will give you a hint on how they're going to do that.
WOODRUFF: OK. Dana Bash, following everything she can from the Bush campaign. Looking ahead to tonight. Dana, we'll talk to you tonight, thanks.
BASH: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: Well, once the president makes his points in New York tonight, he heads straight to more fertile political territory. He's going to spend the night in Pennsylvania. After a morning event there, he will travel on to a couple more showdown states: Wisconsin and Iowa.
It would seem a safe bet that Bush will pay some sort of tribute to his wife tonight, as he often does out on the campaign trail. The first lady's been more and more active and outspoken than ever in this election year.
Let's bring back our John King, who interviewed Laura Bush a little earlier today.
John, tell us about it.
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, we had been interesting conversation. The first lady says the president is relaxed. He's in an upbeat mood to give his speech tonight. She says he had a great time touring that theater in the round stage, just off to my right here in Madison Square Garden.
One thing I asked her was we've had three nights, as we've been reporting throughout the program, of these relentless attacks on John Kerry as someone unfit to be the commander-in-chief right now in the middle of a war on terror.
I asked her if the president would continue that. She said maybe, but for the most part, the president would be very positive tonight in laying out his agenda.
So I asked her if that was part of the deliberate strategy.
KING: Democrats say that this is good cop/bad cop. That you've had this criticism, or they said just relentless criticism. They say anger and even hatred. Do you agree with that?
LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: No, I don't. I absolutely do not think that's what we've seen here. Do you?
KING: That's not my job. I ask the questions. I don't answer them.
BUSH: I don't think that's it at all.
KING: What have we seen here?
BUSH: I have seen that from the other side, I think. I mean, I think we've seen the record of the senator that's running against my husband examined.
And that's what happens when you get into politics. That's what happens when you run for office. And, you know, it happens to everybody. You get criticized and that's just a fact of life in American politics.
KING: When you were coming out for your big speech the other night, advisors to the president of the campaign say one of your key roles in this campaign is to help give a softer side to the president. Implicit in that is that perhaps voters have a harder view of him.
BUSH: Well, you know why: because we've had years of war. And he's been a war president. And, you know, that's just also what happened. That's what we got dealt.
KING: And so how do you break through that?
BUSH: Well, I talked about, you know, what I've seen. I think I have a chance to talk about that. I also think the American people know. I think they, you know, they know George is tough. There's no doubt about it.
But I think they also know he is compassionate and that he's got a loving heart. I think that comes through when you see him on the campaign trail or see him on television.
KING: We've talked before about your role in the campaign. There was a poll recently. I believe it was in the "Los Angeles Times," who would you prefer as first lady. About 56 percent said Laura Bush. I think it was 26 percent said Teresa Heinz Kerry.
What's your reaction to that?
BUSH: Well, I like that, of course. Absolutely. I think that's great. I'm flattered.
KING: She -- she in this campaign has been harsher, I would say, in her language than you have been in characterizing. She has said wouldn't it be nice to have a president who understands complexity, enjoys complexity, for that matter.
Is that a role for a first lady?
BUSH: Sure. I mean, you know, this is politics. And you know, there are certainly, absolutely. I have a lot of empathy for her. We're in the same boat. She and I are the only ones who know what it's like for your husband to be running in this race in 2004. And it isn't easy. You know, it's not easy. It's very, very difficult to run for president. It's difficult on the families. And -- but it's also exciting and thrilling and a privilege and, you know, a really wonderful part of our American history.
KING: You say that politics is a tough business. Your twin daughters spoke to the convention the other night. And some of the reviews were not so kind.
BUSH: That's right. And that's exactly what their dad said today. He said, you know, when you put yourself out there, you're going to get criticized. You'll be praised, too, by some people. But criticized by others.
KING: Now you say the president discussed the reviews with them. Were they hurt by them at all? Will we see them again?
BUSH: Sure, you'll see them again, definitely. They'll be here the whole time. They're going to go on the campaign trail. They were speaking to young people. We wanted them to speak to young people. We want the Republican Party to reach out to young people, and that was for the purpose.
KING: One of the moments in the hall last night, the vice president gave his speech and his family came on stage afterwards. His daughter, Mary did not. Liz came on stage with her husband and her children, and Mary made a decision not to come on stage.
And there has been debate about her in these halls because she's a gay American and she decided not come on stage. And the Democrats immediately said was she not welcome on the stage at a Republican convention.
BUSH: I think she made that decision. But I certainly hope she'll be on the stage with us tonight.
KING: I also asked the first lady if she and her husband sit around and talk about the possibility of losing this election. Judy, she said absolutely, that they have talked of post-election, post- administration plans if they do lose. But she also said they have no intention of losing.
WOODRUFF: John, the first lady is such a effective spokesperson for the president. She's -- she's calm. She's always seemed almost unflappable. Is there anything that gets her upset?
KING: Well, she doesn't like probing questions about her daughters, for one. She didn't like the reviews, but she was very kind in talking about them there.
She is much more poised in this campaign, much more partisan, but in a very polite way, and much more issue-oriented from the broad portfolio. She has led, for example, the response to the criticism of the president's position on stem cell research, citing about her own father's battle, ultimately his death from Alzheimer's Disease.
In the first campaign, she was mostly focused on education issues and trying to talk about his values. She covers the whole portfolio now, and the White House says she does it quite well. They like her out there.
WOODRUFF: Well, the public seems to like her, too. All right. John King, see a lot of you tonight. Thanks.
WOODRUFF: As you would expect, politics permeates the convention scene. But don't forget, there's some serious partying going on in this town, as well.
As CNN's Ed Henry found out, where else can you mingle with the likes of both Arlen Specter and Donald Trump?
ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump glad- hands with the best of them. But not even the Donald was ready for all of the hand shaking at the convention parties.
DONALD TRUMP, REAL ESTATE MOGUL: I'm going to have to take some exercise with my hand. I'm not used to this stuff. You know, being a real estate guy/movie star, I don't have to shake people's hands.
HENRY: Lobbyists and moguls spend millions of dollars throwing one lavish fundraiser after another at the conventions for both political parties.
Music to the ears of vulnerable incumbents like Republican senator Arlen Specter. After barely surviving an intra-party challenge this spring, he immediately called Trump.
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), PENNSYLVANIA: I said Donald, the good news was I won the primary. The bad news ways was I spent all my money. And Donald said to me, "Arlen, if it's only money, come have a fundraiser in Trump Tower.
HENRY: There's so much money flowing into the coffers of top speakers like Dennis Hastert, that some lobbyists and pols bounce between at least a dozen bashes a day.
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: This is a little bit like Washington times two or three.
HENRY: Many Republicans spent very little time at the actual convention hall.
SPECTER: The convention doesn't start till 8 p.m., and you've got to do something until 5:30. So why not cocktails at Trump Tower and a little political talk and a little fundraising?
HENRY: The Donald has been impressed by the GOP's partying skills.
TRUMP: I thin it is a hectic pace. But you know what? It's a great pace. It's a great city, and the Republicans are really welcome. They've been terrific.
HENRY: And the politicians have loved the schmoozing, too.
SPECTER: He's really a great sport to pose for all the pictures and now, I give you the piece de resistance -- be careful, you may get fired.
HENRY: Campaign watch dog groups complain that there's no disclosure so it's impossible to track down exactly how many parties there are or precisely how much they cost, how much money these corporations are shelling out at these parties.
And, in fact, what we wind up with, according to watchdog groups, is a situation where there are two conventions. One here in the arena that the public can see and one all at the restaurants where the public cannot see, Judy.
WOODRUFF: We should point out, you were lucky to get into the gathering, because most of these parties, a vast majority, they shut the press out. They don't let our cameras in.
HENRY: Absolutely. They don't like to open the doors because there's sometimes a suggestion that perhaps all these favors the lobbyists give, maybe the lawmakers will do something in return.
But Donald Trump opened the doors. He's never been shy in front of a TV camera.
WOODRUFF: OK. Ed Henry, thanks very much.
HENRY: Thanks you.
WOODRUFF: We'll see you.
All right. Well, even before the Republican partiers pack it in, the Kerry campaign will be springing into post-convention action.
After some R and R in Nantucket, Senator Kerry goes to Ohio tonight to put his own postscript on President Bush's acceptance speech. Kerry will be joined by running mate John Edwards.
The Democrats today released a new ad set to air in Ohio, focusing on job losses there. The Kerry camp says the spot is part of a $50 million ad buy in the battleground states from now until the election.
Few people know the president or his administration as well as Andrew Card. Coming up, I'll talk with the White House chief of staff about President Bush's mission tonight and the days and the weeks ahead.
Plus, smooches and speeches. Memorable cappers at conventions past.
And with Florida bracing for another hurricane, what are the state's convention delegates doing?
WOODRUFF: President Bush will take the podium in less than six hours for his acceptance speech. wrapping up the convention.
Joining me now, White House chief of staff Andrew Card.
Good to see you again. Thanks for talking with me.
ANDREW CARD, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Thank you very much.
WOODRUFF: John King just talked with the first lady about the president and how he's feeling. She said he's feeling pretty good.
I want to ask you about what the Democrats are saying. They are calling this a slash and burn convention. They are saying some of the negative talk from Zell Miller and the vice president last night, over the top, much more criticism of John Kerry than we heard criticism of George Bush at their convention.
CARD: Well, first of all, what the Democrats say about the Republican convention is kind of like what Joe Torre would say about the Red Sox. So I don't give a lot of credibility to it.
I happen to think the Red Sox will win the World Series, and I don't think the Yankees are going to. I'm sure the Democrats think their guy is going to win. I think the Republicans will win and the president will provide the leadership for the next four years.
WOODRUFF: So you just, again, when they say John Kerry's name was mentioned something like 86 times over the first three nights in a negative way, versus less than a couple of dozen for George Bush.
CARD: I watched the Democratic convention. And they were Democrats who were challenging the Republicans. And this is a Republican convention, and a lot of the comments about John Kerry actually came from a Democrat.
WOODRUFF: The spokesman for the Kerry campaign, Joe Lockhart, said Miller and Vice President Cheney, he said, looked like -- what did he say, angry and grumpy old men. Some people say maybe you turned off more people than you turned on?
CARD: Well, it's my understanding that Zell Miller's comments were pretty well received by people who care about the future. And they understood his frustration with the Democratic Party. And it was pretty dramatic that he would be here at a Republican convention as a Democrat, a proud Democrat, who says that he cares about his children and his grandchildren, and he doesn't think the leader of the Democratic Party is the right president to provide a future of hope and opportunity for them.
WOODRUFF: He didn't sound very proud of his party last night.
CARD: He did not.
WOODRUFF: Andy card, the economy. We're told the president's going to talk about some new initiatives tonight. But let me ask you about what's going on in the country.
Speculation today that -- about consumer confidence dropping. I should say numbers out this week about consumer confidence. Unemployment claims down this week, more than Wall Street predicted.
We learned today that General Motors and Ford are going to be cutting back on their production lines. That hit some of the Midwestern states that are battlegrounds that George W. Bush needs to win.
How concerned are you and others around the president about the economy?
CARD: Well, we're very concerned. And the president's done the right things for our economy. He's got a good, solid base and we're building on that base.
But remember the shock that this country went through. We had the recession, the September 9/11 attack. We had the crisis in corporate governance. We had the dark cloud of war hanging over us for a long time.
And our economy has actually rebounded pretty well from all of those horrible things that we have to challenge -- meet the challenge of in this country as the president provides leadership.
But you know, the small business community has got optimism and they're actually growing and creating jobs. And that's where the job growth is most significant, because it shows up there first. And the president will highlight that tonight in his speech.
We'll also talk about the need to have our workers retrained. The president will not be satisfied until everyone in this society who wants a job has a job. And he will not let up until that happens. And that may mean that people who were trained for jobs in the 20th Century should be retrained for the jobs of the 21st Century.
WOODRUFF: Iraq war. Still a big issue in this campaign. While the convention's going on, the Pentagon put out a report this week saying now something like 975 Americans have died in Iraq.
CARD: We're had over 1,100 men and women who have died in the war on terror, Afghanistan and Iraq. WOODRUFF: Seven thousand wounded, we're told.
Yesterday, the secretary of state, Colin Powell, said the administration miscalculated how tough the insurgency was going to be in Iraq.
The question some are asking, if the administration miscalculated on that, didn't get that right, why should Americans believe you'll get it right in a second term?
CARD: Well, obviously, we got an awful lot of things right. And there were some pundits who told us that it wouldn't work the way it did work.
We got to Baghdad faster than the pundits told us to. There was no fortress Baghdad. There was no mass exodus of starving people from Iraq. There weren't tens of thousands of homeless people in Iraq.
We thought the infrastructure in Iraq was in better shape than, in fact, it was. And so there are a lot of things that happened for the better. We also have had some challenges.
Clearly, we have transferred responsibility for the security of Iraq to the Iraqi governing body right now, and we're helping them. But they've got the real responsibility for working with us to secure that country, and that's ahead of schedule. So we're doing pretty well.
WOODRUFF: Very -- very quick last question. The president's father said this week it hurt a little bit when his son said some time ago that he didn't want to cut and run in Iraq, as it happened in the first Iraq war. What is -- what's the story there?
CARD: Well, I was there. I served in former President Bush's White House.
WOODRUFF: I asked you because you know both of them.
CARD: And it was a different time and there was a different mission.
The United Nations, during the first Gulf War, only gave permission, if you will, to the coalition to take Saddam and get him out of Kuwait. And so it was a different mission.
Saddam didn't represent the same kind of threat to the United States back during that war that he -- that he did during the gathering danger that we saw as a result of what happened after September 11 when the world changed.
So it's entirely different time frame, and I think that it was appropriate that former President Bush accomplished the mission at hand, which was to take the Iraqi regime and get them out of Kuwait and help restore confidence there.
WOODRUFF: I simply asked because of his father's comment that it hurt a little bit because of when what his son said.
CARD: Well, you know, the current president knows more than the former president, and that's appropriate, because the current president has current intelligence.
WOODRUFF: We'll leave it there. Andy Card, chief of staff at the White House. It's very good to see you.
CARD: Thank you, Judy. By.
WOODRUFF: Thanks for coming by and spending some time with us. We appreciate it.
Well, we've heard from the big guns, you might call them, at this Republican convention. Coming up, I'll get a delegate's view on the presidential race when I go one on one with a representative from Ohio.
WOODRUFF: Conventions wouldn't be conventions without the delegates. We've been trying to talk to one every day, at least one.
And right now, I'm joined by an important member of the Ohio delegation. He is Ken Blackwell from the key battleground state.
How are you feeling? Ohio couldn't be more important than it is to both campaigns.
KEN BLACKWELL, OHIO DELEGATE: You're absolutely right, Judy. It is the battleground state in the 2004 presidential election. President Bush won Ohio by less than four points in 2000.
And I can tell you, on election day that day, every poll I read had him winning by 14 points. That means that it was a real intensive ground game in 2000.
In 2004, there's nothing going to be short of an all-out political battle.
WOODRUFF: We keep hearing the economy, the economy, the economy. How much of an obstacle is that for the president in your state?
BLACKWELL: Well, we, in fact, realize that the national economic tide hasn't lifted all votes. There are some pockets of unemployment that the president is in. And he's talking about what he is doing. And then he has the prescription, if given the time, to bring us up, also.
WOODRUFF: One other issue. A lot of talk at this convention about the social issues. Among them, the constitutional ban, proposed ban on gay marriage. You've been talking to our producer, Sasha Johnson, about how you think that might be a plus in the African- American community. Explain how.
BLACKWELL: Absolutely. On that issue, the African-American community is clear. The advocacy of same-sex marriage is not the moral equivalency to the civil rights movement. We understand the importance of keeping families intact economically, socially, and morally.
And as a consequence, I think John Kerry's being on the wrong side of that issue will hurt him in the African-American community. I don't think you're going to see a sea change, but I think going from nine to maybe 14 percent of the African-American vote is a real distinct possibility.
WOODRUFF: Ken Blackwell, an important member of the Ohio delegation. It's very good to see you.
BLACKWELL: Good to see you, Judy.
WOODRUFF: Hope to talk to you during the campaign.
BLACKWELL: I'm sure you will.
WOODRUFF: Thanks very much.
BLACKWELL: Thank you bye-bye.
WOODRUFF: All right. INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.
WOODRUFF: As we've been telling you for the last day or so, some Florida delegates to this week's Republican convention are packing up and heading home early, many of them anxious about Hurricane Frances, which is barreling toward their state.
Florida is still cleaning up from Hurricane Charley's hit three weeks ago. Well, we wish them well.
That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. Have a very good evening. "CROSSFIRE," live from the CNN Diner, starts right now.