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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Al Gore, Jimmy Carter Address Democratic National Convention
Aired July 26, 2004 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much for joining us.
We're here to get ready for the start. The formal start occurred at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, about four hours ago. But now the major heavy hitters of the Democratic Party, at least several of them, getting ready to address these delegates, about 5,000 delegates and alternates. About 15,000 journalists are packed here into the FleetCenter in Boston.
Joining us for our coverage tonight, CNN's Judy Woodruff and Jeff Greenfield.
Judy, we're going to be hearing shortly from the former Vice President Al Gore.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: We are going to be hearing from Al Gore.
And, Wolf, we need to say, first of all, this is not your father's Democratic Party. This is a Democratic Party united like it has never been. They have come together. They smell victory. They think they can pull it off and they are determined to come out of this convention appearing united with a positive message.
Al Gore, who has given some very tough speeches over the last few months, against George W. Bush, tonight, we're going to be hearing him talk about more about John Kerry.
BLITZER: Jeff, in the scheme of things how important is tonight for John Kerry and John Edwards?
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: It's the start of the four-day buildup. Obviously, the most important events are Wednesday and Thursday. But it is the tone.
Look, we're in a city of revolutionary history. Old North Church, where Paul Revere began his ride, is very close. The Boston Harbor, the Boston Tea Party just a few miles to the east, the site of the Boston Massacre. The one thing the Democrats do not want to reflect in the next four days is any revolutionary ardor.
Their message is safer, stronger and they want to portray a John Kerry that is safe to pick as a replacement for George W. Bush. That is the whole theme. And tonight sets the start.
BLITZER: And as many of our viewers no doubt know by now, we are right on the convention floor. We're not up high in those skyboxes. We're here on the floor right in the middle of all this excitement, I can guess you can say, excitement here, these Democrats getting ready.
Now they're going to start off this prime-time event tonight with "The Star Spangled Banner," the national anthem. We will of course pause for that. Bill Richardson, the governor of New Mexico, the chairman of this convention, he is speaking right now.
Bill Richardson has emerged in recent years, Judy, as a key player in this party.
WOODRUFF: He is, Bill -- I'm sorry, Wolf.
Bill Richardson, Hispanic-American, someone who has increasingly become a voice that Democrats listen to, seriously considered as a vice presidential running mate with John Kerry, but he pulled himself out.
BLITZER: All right, we're getting ready for the national anthem.
I think all of us should stand up, as this entire room will stand up at this point and listen to BeBe Winans and the national anthem.
(BEBE WINANS SINGS "THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER")
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
BLITZER: BeBe Winans the house band performing the national anthem.
And every night here at this convention, we will be bringing you the national anthem at this time, different renditions. It's a rare moment at these conventions. Whether a Democrat or a Republican, Jeff, everybody appreciates that kind of musical rendition of the national anthem.
GREENFIELD: This is one of the hardest national anthems to sing. And there's been some agitation to change it. If everybody could sing like that, I think the agitation would die down.
We would point one more quick thing. You note the people sitting behind the singer. This is a new thing in this convention. They're trying to get the spirit of the town meetings. And so every night, in key moments, you will see real delegates, carefully selected, sitting behind speakers and performers to kind of make this a more participatory event, Wolf.
BLITZER: Judy, they're about to hear Al Gore deliver a speech. We've heard several of his speeches in recent months, very fiery, very agitated. This is going be different.
WOODRUFF: Wolf, that's right.
The Kerry campaign has determined that this is a convention where you're not going to hear a lot of Bush bashing. And you're right. Al Gore has given some very tough speeches. He's come down really hard. He endorsed Howard Dean. He and Howard Dean were out there swinging and shouting against George W. Bush and against the war in Iraq.
Tonight, you're going to hear a little humor from Al Gore. And you're going to hear a more reasoned, I think, but strong and I think pretty powerful speech on behalf of John Kerry.
GREENFIELD: In fact, some conservatives have been very angry at Al Gore for using the term digital brownshirts to describe some of the more conservative media folk. This speech is very different in tone from that, and at the behest of the Kerry campaign.
BLITZER: You have to believe, Jeff, that going through his mind is that -- not only what happened four years ago, but his decision more recently not to seek this Democratic presidential nomination.
GREENFIELD: Wolf, if I were Al Gore, I would begin every morning by banging my head against the wall for a half-an-hour. I would never be able to forget what happened. Perhaps he has worked past it.
BLITZER: Well, he's about to deliver the speech, Al Gore. He is being introduced by Governor Richardson. And Al Gore is about to walk up to this podium here.
He's going to get a standing ovation, Judy.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
WOODRUFF: He is. This is somebody who arouses this deepest of passions, Wolf, among this crowd, and not just in the state of Florida. He won the popular vote four years ago.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
BLITZER: You know, Jeff, it's not only Al Gore who is exciting all of these people. It's what happened four years ago, especially among African-American delegates here. And there are many of them.
GREENFIELD: There is a widespread belief among African-Americans that they were denied participating in Florida, that too many of them were left off the rolls. This is a wound that has not healed.
And even though the Kerry campaign does want to look to the future, I think, on the first night, they have to let these very partisan delegates vent that feeling that this is the person who should be running for reelection. That feeling is wide and deep in the Democratic Party. It will not serve them to appeal to independents, but they have to have their moment. And this is it.
BLITZER: All right, let's listen in briefly as the former vice president gets ready to address this crowd.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much.
My friends, fellow Democrats, fellow Americans, I'm going to be candid with you. I had hoped to be back here this week under different circumstances, running for re-election.
But you know the old saying: You win some, you lose some. And then there's that little-known third category.
But I didn't come here tonight to talk about the past. After all, I don't want you to think that I lie awake at night counting and recounting sheep.
I prefer to focus on the future because I know from my own experience that America is a land of opportunity, where every little boy and girl has a chance to grow up and win the popular vote.
In all seriousness, I am deeply, deeply grateful for the opportunity you have given me to serve my country. I want to thank you as Democrats for the honor of being your nominee for president four years ago...
... and for all you did for me and for our country.
And I want to thank the American people for the privilege of serving as vice president of the United States.
Most of all, I want to thank my family with all my heart, my children and grandchildren, and especially my beloved partner in life, Tipper.
I love this country deeply.
Wasn't Bebe Winans, great?
I believe that's the best National Anthem I've ever heard sung.
I love this country deeply. And even though I always look to the future with optimism and hope, I do think it is worth pausing for just a moment as we begin this year's convention to take note of two very important lessons from four years ago. The first lesson is this: Take it from me, every vote counts.
In our Democracy, every vote has power. And never forget that power is yours. Don't let anyone take it away or talk you into throwing it away.
And let's make sure that this time every vote is counted.
Let's make sure that the Supreme Court does not pick the next president and that this president is not the one who picks the next Supreme Court.
The second lesson from 2000 is this: What happens in a presidential election matters a lot.
The outcome profoundly affects the lives of all 293 million Americans and people in the rest of the world, too. The choice of who is president affects your life and your family's future.
And never has this been more true than in 2004. Because let's face it, our country faces deep challenges.
These challenges we now confront are not Democratic or Republican challenges; they are American challenges that we all must overcome together, as one people, as one nation.
It is in that spirit that I sincerely ask those watching at home tonight who supported President Bush four years ago: Did you really get what you expected from the candidate you voted for?
Is our country more united today or more divided?
Has the promise of compassionate conservatism been fulfilled, or do those words now ring hollow?
For that matter, are the economic policies really conservative at all?
For example, did you expect the largest deficits in history, year after year, one right after another, and the loss of more than a million jobs?
By the way, I know about the bad economy. I was the first one laid off.
And while it's true that new jobs are being created, they're just not as good as the jobs people have lost. And incidentally, that's been true for me, too.
Unfortunately, this is no joke for millions of Americans.
And the real solutions require us to transcend partisanship. So that's one reason why, even though we meet here as Democrats, we believe this is a time to reach beyond our party lines to Republicans as well.
And I also ask tonight for the consideration and the help of those who have supported a third-party candidate in 2000.
I urge you to ask yourselves this question: Do you still believe that there was no difference between the candidates?
Are you troubled by the erosion of America's most basic civil liberties? Are you worried that our environmental laws are being weakened and dismantled to allow vast increases in pollution that are contributing to a global climate crisis?
No matter how you voted in the last election, these are profound problems that all voters must take into account this November 2nd.
And, of course, no challenge is more critical than the situation we confront in Iraq. Regardless of your opinion at the beginning of this war, isn't it now abundantly obvious that the way this war has been managed by the administration has gotten us into very serious trouble?
Wouldn't we be better off with a new president who hasn't burned his bridges to our allies and who can rebuild respect for America in the world?
Isn't cooperation with other nations crucial to solving our dilemma in Iraq?
Isn't it also critical to defeating the terrorists?
We have to be crystal clear about the threat we face from terrorism. It is deadly. It is real. It is imminent.
But in order to protect our people, shouldn't we focus on the real source of this threat: the group that attacked us and is trying to attack us again, al Qaeda, headed by Osama bin Laden?
Wouldn't we be safer with a president who didn't insist on confusing al Qaeda with Iraq?
Doesn't that divert too much of our attention away from the principal danger?
I want to say to all Americans this evening that whether it's the threat to the global environment or the erosion of America's leadership in the world, whether it is the challenge to our economy from new competitors or the challenge to our security from new enemies, I believe that we need new leadership that is both strong and wise.
And we can have new leadership because one of our greatest strengths as a democracy is that when we are headed in the wrong direction, we can correct our course. When policies are clearly not working, we, the people, can change them. If our leaders make mistakes, we can hold them accountable, even if they never admit their mistakes.
I firmly believe America needs new leadership that will make us stronger at home and respected in the world. And we're here this week to present to the nation the man who should be and will be our new president: John Kerry.
John and I were elected to the U.S. Senate on the same day 20 years ago, and I have worked closely with him for all that time. So I want to say a personal word about John Kerry, the man.
He is a friend who will stand by you. His word is his bond. He has a deep patriotism that goes far beyond words. He has devoted his life to making America a better place for all of us.
He showed uncommon heroism on the battlefield in Vietnam. I watched him show that same courage on the Senate floor. For example, he had the best record of protecting the environment against polluters of any of my colleagues, bar none.
He never shied away from a fight, no matter how powerful the foe. He was never afraid to take on difficult and thankless issues that few others wanted to touch, like exposing the threat of narcoterrorism and tracing the sources of terrorist financing.
He was one of the very first in our party to take on the issue of drastic deficit reduction. And he has developed a tough and thoughtful plan to restore our economic strength and fiscal discipline.
To put it simply, those of us who have worked with John know that he has the courage, integrity and leadership to be a truly great president of the United States of America.
And he showed wisdom in his very first decision as the leader of our party when he picked as his running-mate an inspiring fighter for middle-class families and families struggling to reach the middle class: John Edwards of North Carolina.
John Kerry and John Edwards are fighting for us and for all Americans, so after we nominate them here in Boston and return back to our home states across this land, we have to fight for them.
Talk to your friends and neighbors, go to johnkerry.com, raise money, register voters, get them to the polls, volunteer your time and, above all, make your vote count.
To those of you who felt disappointed or angry with the outcome in 2000, I want you to remember all of those feelings.
But then I want you to do with them what I have done: Focus them fully and completely on putting John Kerry and John Edwards in the White House so we can have a new direction in America, a new president, a new vice president, new policies, a new day, a brighter future, what this country and what our people deserve.
Fellow Democrats, when I look out and see so many friends who have meant so much to me in my own public service, my heart is full tonight. I thank you for all the love you've shown to Tipper and me. You will forever be in our hearts.
And there's someone else I'd like to thank, and that's the man who asked me to join him on the ticket at our convention 12 years ago, my friend and my partner for eight years, President Bill Clinton.
I will never forget that convention or that campaign, the way we barnstormed the country, carrying a message of hope and change, believing with our whole hearts that America could be made new again. And so it was.
And with your help, and with the leadership of John Kerry and John Edwards, so it shall be, again.
Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States.
BLITZER: There they are, Tipper Gore and Al Gore. They kissed right after that speech, bringing back memories for a lot of us. In fact, we have for you a memory of that kiss that wasn't that long ago. Here it was in 2000.
Judy Woodruff, it was a little bit more passionate in 2000 than it was now.
WOODRUFF: It was.
BLITZER: But everybody knew exactly what they were doing.
WOODRUFF: They were. They were trying to warm him up.
But tonight, what Al Gore has done is, he has said, let's channel this frustration, this bitterness into getting John Kerry into the White House.
It was a positive message. He asked some tough questions. Is the country better off for those of you who voted for George Bush? But, you know, he didn't say George Bush's name very often.
BLITZER: We're going to go right now to the floor, before I want to get the temperature of what our reporters there are getting right now. And we have three good reporters out on the floor.
Joe Johns is in the District of Columbia delegation. John King is over in Florida. Kelly Wallace is in Tennessee.
Joe Johns, first to you.
I take it people in the D.C. delegation were very enthusiastic about this speech.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: Certainly very enthusiastic, Wolf.
In fact, with me right now is one of the members of the delegation, Harold Ickes, the former deputy chief of staff in the Clinton administration, also now helping to pour a lot of money into ads to try to elect a new Democratic president.
What is your take on this speech by Al Gore? How does it play into the strategy? Does it help or hurt with those all-important middle-of-the-road voters?
HAROLD ICKES, FORMER CLINTON DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF: I think it helped.
I think Al Gore had a strong base in the party and still has. I think he sent a strong message about the wrong direction that Bush is taking this country. And he has, I think, sent a real message to uncommitted voters.
JOHNS: An interesting speech that Mr. Gore gave, very light on the assertions, asking a lot of very pointed questions before this crowd. How does something like this play for those people at home who aren't watching it in this big crowd?
ICKES: Oh, I think, you know, people are starting just to focus in on this election. I think this convention is...
JOHNS: All right, thank you very much, Harold Ickes -- back to you.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Joe Johns.
Let's go to John King.
Florida. What could have been more important in the 2000 election for Al Gore than Florida?
JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, when Al Gore said every vote counts, perhaps only second to Al Gore, the people who took that message to heart down here in the Florida delegation, 537 votes last time, decided of course in the Supreme Court in the end.
The state party chairman, Scott Maddox, standing here with me.
What are you doing differently this time to guarantee that your state won't go through this again this time?
SCOTT MADDOX, CHAIRMAN, FLORIDA DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Well, there are two functions in a campaign, to motivate and to persuade. We're letting John Kerry persuade, but we're motivating our base. Democrats are going to come out in force in the state of Florida.
KING: What did you think the vice president?
MADDOX: Oh, he did a great job. The voters in Florida voted for Al Gore last time. The Florida Supreme Court voted for Al Gore. The United States Supreme Court didn't.
KING: Wolf, down here in the Florida delegation, they still say redefeat Bush, a great deal of energy on the floor tonight, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, no doubt about that.
Let's go to Tennessee, Al Gore's home state, which did not come through for him four years ago.
Kelly Wallace is there -- Kelly. KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: In fact, Wolf, of course, many Democrats saying, had Al Gore won his home state of Tennessee, he would be president and he would be running for reelection.
You might have expected more a enthusiastic reception here on the part of the Tennessee delegation. We're a little surprised, not incredible enthusiasm, but you did see these Tennessee Democrats getting up a number of times, including when they talked about -- Al Gore talked about time for new leadership, time to really change directions.
Tennessee is important. Republicans will say no way is this state going to go the way of John Kerry and John Edwards, but Democrats believe, with having John Edwards, the North Carolina senator, on the ticket, that will mean that Tennessee is in play. Democrats are also saying the fact that President Bush, his wife, Laura Bush, Vice President Cheney are making so many visits to Tennessee, other reasons why they think, Democrats think, Republicans are worried about Tennessee -- back to you, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Kelly Wallace in Tennessee. The most recent polls there, by the way, show virtually a dead heat in Tennessee right now.
Thanks to our reporters.
Much more coming up. We're standing by. The former president of the United States, Jimmy Carter, getting ready to speak. Hillary Clinton will introduce her husband, Bill Clinton.
Much more coverage from the FleetCenter here in Boston when we come back.
BLITZER: Welcome back. We're covering the Democratic National Convention here in Boston at the FleetCenter. We're standing by. The former president, Jimmy Carter, he'll be speaking; of course, another former president, Bill Clinton, will be speaking as well.
Let's bring in our own Aaron Brown and Carlos Watson. They have got some perspective of their own on what's going on -- Aaron.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, thank you. Carlos, good evening to you. A difference from four years ago. Four years ago, Bill Clinton was the elephant in the room. No one wanted to acknowledge, he didn't campaign much. But here on prime-time, opening night, the last thing we hear from Al Gore is his thanks to Bill Clinton for putting him on the ticket. Times change. Circumstances change. Memories fade.
CARLOS WATSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Partnership speaks to the ABB movement within the Democratic Party, anybody but Bush. And a major olive branch. They are clearly energized, and I think Al Gore may have put on the table a major new theme for Democrats in these final 100 days -- every vote counts. We talk a lot about swing voters, Aaron, but everything also will turn a lot here on turnout. I think turnout will be a big story.
BROWN: The fact that he mentions him in the speech, the fact that former president will be the primary speaker tonight when the broadcast networks are on, when most Americans are watching, there is, in the Democratic view, no risk anymore to putting Bill Clinton out there or an acceptable risk in putting Bill Clinton out there?
WATSON: I think there is a lot of regret they didn't put him out there last time, whether it was in Arkansas, whether it was in Florida or other places, and I think you'll see more of Clinton, not only in the South but I think you'll see him in the West, some of the toss-up states there, and I think you'll see him in the Midwest, too.
BROWN: The other thing that the former vice president did is he appealed directly to the Nader voters. Do you really believe -- do you still believe there is no difference between the two parties?
WATSON: That was strong. That was a strong hit, and I think one of the most interesting things to follow after this convention won't only be the national bounce, but the particular bounce in some of the states where Nader did best, states like Oregon, states like Washington, states like New Hampshire. I think it will be very interesting. If ultimately John Kerry doesn't have to spend a lot of time in those formerly Democratic states, it could help him tremendously.
BROWN: Everybody talks about bounce, the Republicans will talk more about bounce this week than they'll talk about almost anything else, in the expectations game. But one of the theories going around -- and we'll find out at the end of the week and people will interpret it as they wish -- is that the country is so polarized, is so set this early, in July, that the bounce really isn't going to be much of a bounce anyway.
WATSON: You've heard Republicans set a pretty high bar, saying it will be a 15-point bounce. The Democrats say no way. This is the closest election going into a convention in half a century. If we're lucky if we will get a high single-digit bounce.
I still think that one of the untold stories here, we're all assuming that you're going to have roughly the same turnout we had last time, Aaron. The numbers could be very different if we end up with 115 million people voting. And if indeed the polls that we're taking now are basically on the presumption that we have 105, 106 million people vote again. So while we talk about bounce and a lot of people pooh-pooh it back and forth, the polls may not be capturing the whole story.
BROWN: We'll pick up on that. We have other things we'll talk about throughout the evening and throughout the week. We go back to Boston -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Aaron. Aaron will have a special edition of "NEWSNIGHT" tonight at 11:00 p.m. Eastern, followed by a live "LARRY KING LIVE" at midnight as well.
Let's bring in two of our contributors. Donna Brazile was the campaign manager for Al Gore's campaign four years ago. Victoria Clarke worked on the other side, for George W. Bush. Most recently, she was the spokesman over at the Pentagon.
When you heard your former boss, Donna Brazile, deliver that speech tonight, tell us what went through your mind.
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of all, I thought it was a great speech. Al Gore essentially tonight passed on the baton. You know, he said, you know, I probably was elected four years ago, but it's time to move on. He wanted to talk about the future, and what he said about John Kerry tonight, he really helped John Kerry (UNINTELLIGIBLE) as he talked about his courage, his leadership, his integrity. He talked about his values and the fact that he's known John Kerry for so many years. So I thought it was a great speech. And, once again, Al Gore showed the American people why they supported him in 2000.
BLITZER: Victoria Clarke, same question to you, what went through your mind from a different political perspective?
VICTORIA CLARKE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah, I'll tell you, a very different perspective. The Democrats had to have him here, obviously. I was surprised at how much he did focus on Florida in 2000. I just don't think many people get up every day thinking, going into the polls this fall, I'm going to be thinking about Florida in 2000. But I'll tell you, I think a lot of Democrats were watching it, and these things look different on television than they do in the hall, and they're thinking to themselves, he's no John Edwards.
BLITZER: Just flesh that out, when you say a lot of people aren't thinking about that. Certainly a lot of Democrats continue to think about that and -- hold that thought for a second. I just want to point out what is happening on the stage. Barbara Mikulski, the senator from Maryland, is introducing the other women senators in the U.S. Senate. And they're doing a little tribute to the women in the United States Senate, similar to what they did four years ago. You see Senator Clinton over there to the right of the screen.
But go ahead, Torie, finish your thought.
CLARKE: The party faithful, the people who are going to vote Democrat no matter what, are maybe thinking about Florida. I actually don't think so. I just don't think it generates any new votes. I don't think it moves the agenda forward. I promise you, starting and ending his speech with Florida in 2000 is not going to move anything forward to the Democrats. So that's OK. It's a good use of their time, as far as I'm concerned.
BLITZER: Donna Brazile, what do you say?
BRAZILE: Well, first of all, he wasn't just speaking to the choir back here in Boston. He was speaking to the congregation that must be persuaded to support the Democratic Party again and support the Democratic nominee. I thought Gore made a compelling case about George Bush misdeeds in Iraq. He also talked about the Supreme Court. He talked about issues. So he talked about the consequence of Florida, which is something the Republicans do not want to talk about, and that is we have a failed presidency of George Bush, a campaign, the Bush-Cheney campaign, that doesn't seem to have anything to run on this year, other than to try to destroy John Kerry and the Democratic Party.
BLITZER: Very quickly, Torie, I'll give you the last word. Go ahead.
CLARKE: Sure. I think that the president and the vice president are laying forward very, very progressive policies that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the realities of the world in which we find ourselves, and the more you hear John Kerry and John Edwards and Al Gore, the more you realize they're kind of stuck in the policies of the '80s and the '90s. Again, that's fine with me.
BLITZER: All right, Torie Clarke, Donna Brazile. They'll be with us throughout our coverage here in Boston of the Democratic National Convention.
Let's bring in a guest, a special guest that we have now here with us, the governor of Michigan, Governor Granholm, Jennifer Granholm. Thanks very much for joining us.
Your fellow women I guess you could say...
GOV. JENNIFER GRANHOLM (D), MICHIGAN: I know, it's great.
BLITZER: ... they are being honored up there on the stage right now. You're a governor. There aren't a whole lot of female governors out there, but you're one, and you are a rising star in this Democratic Party. Tell us what's going through your mind.
GRANHOLM: Well, I don't know about the rising star part, but I, like all the governors, men and women, are just really excited about the possibility for a change, and the possibility for unity, and the possibility for ending a lot of what people see as a middle-class squeeze and talk about meat and potatoes kind of issues. It's going to be a positive convention.
WOODRUFF: Governor Granholm, what about what Torie Clarke was just saying? I don't know if you could hear, but the point was, Democrats, John Kerry, John Edwards, she says are stuck in the policies of the '80s, and in the '90s. Republicans are saying the Democrats are looking back, they're negative, that this is a party that doesn't want -- doesn't want to be part of America's future.
GRANHOLM: Well, I can tell you one of the policies that we would like to return to is fiscal responsibility, and I think that's something that a lot of people could be proud of. Bill Clinton left us with a historic surplus; we're now at historic deficits. I don't think that's where any American wants to be. But nonetheless, John Kerry and John Edwards are hopefully optimistic and focused on the future. John Kerry's plan is a future-oriented plan. Weaning ourselves from Middle Eastern oil is a future plan. Focusing on the cars of the next generation -- I say that from Michigan, because we want to build those cars in our state, but this is a very exciting, very optimistic convention, and, really, it is all about looking forward. If it was about looking past, everybody would be criticizing. We've been really focused on not looking in the rearview mirror.
GREENFIELD: You're from the home of the Reagan Democrats, Macomb County. Bill Clinton got them back. You got them back when you got elected. You were attorney general. You've been very tough on crime position. There is some feeling among Republicans that John Kerry in particular is very vulnerable to losing those voters on issues like his position on abortion, on guns. As someone who won in Michigan and sees how it's done, do you have any concerns about that?
GRANHOLM: I think truly those Democrats are most concerned about meat and potato issues. They're concerned about their pocketbook. So as they've seen their income decline and they've seen increases in gas and in health care premiums, they're feeling squeezed.
This campaign is going to talk about lowering health care costs and about making sure that jobs stay in the United States.
For us, in Michigan, that outsourcing issue and the loss of jobs in the manufacturing sector, that is really a Reagan Democrat issue and that's really owned by the Democrats this time. This administration can't say much that gives them much comfort.
BLITZER: Governor Granholm, a lot of people have raised this question. You were born in Canada so right now, technically, I guess, legally, you can't become president of the United States, but there is talk of trying to get an amendment to change that. What do you say about that?
GRANHOLM: Well, let me just make it very clear, I do not want to run for president, so let me just say that first. But, let me just say, also, that we are a country of immigrants and if somebody has been in this country as long as it would take for the threshold to somebody -- for somebody to be president, I don't know why you would exclude them, someone like Madeleine Albright for example would make a fabulous president but for the fact she was born elsewhere.
GREENFIELD: You versus Schwarzenegger in 2008?
GRANHOLM: No, no, please!
BLITZER: Governor Granholm, thanks very much. One brief question. Is Michigan a lock for Kerry?
GRANHOLM: Nothing is a lock anywhere in the country but if he keeps doing what he's doing, it will be a lock.
BLITZER: Governor Granholm, thanks very much for joining us.
One of the things that we doing -- we're doing a lot of different things here at this convention but one of the things that we have done. We've given some of these mini camps to some Democratic delegates out there. We'll be doing the same thing at the Republican convention, Madison Square Garden in New York to get a flavor of what they're seeing, what they're hearing inside, behind the scenes. Here is today's "Delegate Diary."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This morning, our state delegation had a breakfast and the governor hosted a speaker, Senator Joseph Biden from Delaware.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is one of those elections, in my mind, that you don't have to tell people is the most important election in their lifetime.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are several different events that are scheduled that include political events and seminars and discussions.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks a million.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's an educational process in going to these different events that occur throughout the week. If you understand the issues, if you know what the candidate is about, you can help assist in winning the election and that's what it's all about.
BRAZILE: We're providing training over the next four days. It's open to any Democratic activist here who would like to receive new tools and techniques in terms of going back out there and fight the battle in those great battleground states. I will be going to speak to the women's caucus, the black caucus.
This is the largest ever, the largest minority delegation in the history of the Democratic party.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got so much mail from people organizing the convention and other groups that are involved in participating in the convention that I actually had to put together an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of my schedule.
I know there will be a lot of well-known political figures and celebrities walking around. If serendipity leads me to encounter some people that I will have an opportunity to meet, I'll certainly look forward to that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was hoping you could just share with the CNN viewers why they should vote for John Kerry and John Edwards.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because it's a ticket of hope and opportunity.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is quite a number of businesses who are sponsoring receptions in honor of certain politicians and public servants.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've been invited by the oil and gas lobby to honor Senator Bingham and they're going to take us out on the USS Doherty.
Just mixing with people and finding out what they're thinking. I think there is just a lot of payoff to come to this convention and exchange ideas.
BLITZER: That is part of our "Delegate Diary." We're going to be doing this every day, getting a little flavor behind the scenes from these delegates and we've given several of them these mini cameras.
Another feature we're doing this year, we're taking a look at the web blogs out there. Jeff Greenfield, in particular, this is a new development. Four years ago, we didn't have these blogs. If we did, it was very tiny. Now, it's not.
GREENFIELD: This is the buzz of this convention that the Internet revolution has brought with us an entire new form of journalism or pampleteering. They are web sites in which individuals, some well-known like columnist Andrew Sullivan or Mickey Krause (ph), some brand new, even not old enough to vote, with very little money, create a page on the web and link it to other pages, open it up to conversation. And we have up in the Bob Uecker seats, the bloggers here at this convention.
With us is David Sifry (ph) who is monitoring what the bloggers are talking about and listening to and saying and we're bringing him in electronically. David, what are you up to at this convention and what are you hearing in particular about Al Gore's speech?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we've been hearing some really great stuff about the Al Gore speech. People have really taken it up. The energy is really clear. We've been seeing a lot of comments in the blogosphere, both from the 35 credentialed web loggers who are here at the DNC, as well as people from around the country and around the world. There has been a tremendous amount of excitement that's been generated by the Al Gore speech and, in addition, there is a lot of interest from both photo essays that folks have been doing, by showing interesting behind-the-scenes here at the DNC from the web loggers.
GREENFIELD: David, we're going to be watching and monitoring all week. We're particularly interested obviously in when the Edwards and Kerry speeches take place. Right now back to 20th-century early 21st- century journalism, Wolf, that's us.
BLITZER: The old-fashioned journalist is what we practice. But I say four years from now, who knows what kind of blogs are going to be out there. We'll be watching and learning from all of this. We're going to take another quick break. Much more coming up here at the convention.
At 9:00, we're expecting to hear from the former president of the United States, Jimmy Carter. Larry King will be joining our coverage as well, a special live edition of "LARRY KING LIVE" later. The senator from New York, Hillary Rodham Clinton will introduce her husband, Bill Clinton.
Much more coverage from this Democratic convention at the Fleet Center in Boston.
BLITZER: We've already heard from the former vice president, Al Gore. We're standing by to hear from the former president, Jimmy Carter. He'll be speaking at the top of the hour, that's the schedule. So far, these Democrats are pretty much going along schedule. Judy Woodruff, you got a chance to speak to President Carter earlier today. I know the first convention you covered was in 1976.
WOODRUFF: Exactly. We did a little reminiscing. In fact, Wolf, Jimmy Carter remembered that that convention was a convention where Democrats came together. It was the post Watergate era. Democrats came together to defeat a Republican administration, Gerald Ford. The other thing we talked about...
BLITZER: Take a look at this, Judy. That's a picture of a very young Judy Woodruff with the then president of the United States.
WOODRUFF: Just out of elementary school I think I was.
BLITZER: Who you were working for?
WOODRUFF: You know, I was working for NBC, one of those other news networks. One thing I talked to Jimmy Carter about, I said when you tried to run for reelection there was a Massachusetts liberal named Teddy Kennedy who challenged you, and this time around, there is another Massachusetts liberal, John Kerry. What makes you think John Kerry is going to do any better than Teddy Kennedy did? And he said John Kerry is a different man. He said he's somebody who fought and bled for his country in Vietnam. He has had a lifetime of service, making a distinction between the two Massachusetts senators.
BLITZER: You know, Jeff, that a lot of people have said this about Jimmy Carter, that he's a much better ex-president than he was as president.
GREENFIELD: Yeah. The one legacy that everybody admires is his work in Habitat for Humanity and trying to solve international crises. But you could not find two Democratic conventions as disparate as '76, when he ran for reelection, 40 percent of the delegates wanted Ted Kennedy, and in the end, in November, you have historic defeat at the hands of Ronald Reagan, a Senate turned over. There was really a feeling that the Democratic Party had run out of gas, and now the admiration for Carter is really the good works he's done since leaving office, not what he did as president.
WOODRUFF: He's visited 120 countries, he told me, since leaving the White House. Pretty extraordinary.
BLITZER: But do you get the sense, Jeff, that since leaving the White House, he's moved increasingly to the left of the Democratic spectrum?
GREENFIELD: On international affairs, very much. The toughness that Judy -- that John Kerry talks about and the kind of more -- much more diplomatic view that Jimmy Carter has, almost that there were no bad people in the world, that's a line that you're not going to hear Jimmy Carter strike, but he has struck it in over the past...
WOODRUFF: There is a pacifist -- there is a pacifist streak. I mean, Jimmy Carter flat out said today that this administration lied on Iraq. And when I challenged him and I said, "are you saying they lied?" He said, "well, I'm not saying it was deliberate on their part," but he said, "we know that they did not tell the truth, that they certainly made false statements."
BLITZER: All right. Let's move from one former Democratic president to another former Democratic president, Bill Clinton. He is going to be the featured speaker later tonight.
GREENFIELD: He is, and there is no question that this convention of Democratic partisans are in love with Bill Clinton, largely because he did something they didn't think a Democrat could do, he won and kept winning. But the legacy of Bill Clinton, as we're about to see, is much more ambiguous than the feeling in this hall.
Let's take a look.
GREENFIELD (voice-over): He is, by one measure, his party's most successful president in more than half a century. The only two-term Democratic president since FDR, the candidate who broke the Republicans' electoral lock on the White House. A compelling communicator who won over the Reagan Democrats and who presided over one of the best economic eras in history.
He is by another measure the president who helped undermine his party, whose disastrous health care proposal, shaped by his wife, helped put both houses of Congress into Republican hands in 1994, where they have remained for a decade. A president whose personal behavior led to public humiliation, impeachment, and helped give George W. Bush a way to run against peace and prosperity four years ago.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They are looking for somebody who can lift the spirits of America and bring honor and integrity back to the White House.
GREENFIELD: Bill Clinton called himself a different kind of Democrat, and he succeeded in healing his party's weaknesses. On issues from crime -- it went down on his watch -- to welfare. He signed the bill ending welfare as an entitlement, to reckless spending. His term ended with huge surpluses.
But in the wake of the attacks of September 11, new questions arose. What had the Clinton administration done for eight years to recognize and to deal with the threat of Osama bin Laden? That debate over that part of his legacy will go on for years.
GREENFIELD: And with Hillary Clinton, very much a presidential prospect, this debate is not going to stop with Bill Clinton, but tonight, Wolf and Judy, Bill Clinton has a very different job. Not to defend his legacy, but to present to the American people another case for Kerry and Edwards.
BLITZER: And if you think, Judy, that Al Gore electrified this crowd, Bill Clinton will do it in spades.
WOODRUFF: Even when he mentioned Clinton's name, everybody stood up, every delegate stood up.
BLITZER: They love this guy.
All right, we're going to take another quick break. We have a lot more coverage coming up. We're standing by to hear from Jimmy Carter. He'll be speaking momentarily. We'll have extensive coverage of that. That will be followed by Hillary Clinton at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, and she'll introduce her husband, Bill Clinton.
A special "LARRY KING LIVE," that's coming up as well. Much more coverage here at the FleetCenter in Boston.
BLITZER: Welcome back to our continuing coverage from the FleetCenter at the Democratic National Convention. Here in Boston, I'm Wolf Blitzer. We're standing by to hear from Jimmy Carter, the former president of the United States. He'll be speaking here. He's being introduced by Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico. He is the chairman of this convention. Jimmy Carter has got a carefully crafted speech he will deliver to this group. He'll be followed at 10:00 p.m., Hillary Rodham Clinton will be introducing her husband, the former president, Bill Clinton. They will be speaking as well to this crowd.
We also have a special edition of "LARRY KING," a special edition of "LARRY KING LIVE" will be airing here this hour, this coming hour, 9:00 p.m. Eastern as well. Larry King, you're standing by. You have got some big guests coming up during this hour.
LARRY KING, HOST, LARRY KING LIVE: The Kerry children, Vanessa and Alexander, then we've got our panel, the regulars, Bob Dole and George Mitchell, your old friend, and we've got Bob Woodward in Washington, and we have Mo Rocca roaming the floor, your man Mo.
BLITZER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) hysterical.
KING: And Candy Crowley is going to work with us. And then we're going to have Richard Gephardt and Howard Dean. You may have heard. Do you remember Howard Dean? BLITZER: Howard Dean, I remember him.
KING: Howard Dean, from Vermont.
BLITZER: So you got a big show coming up, I'll be listening -- Jimmy Carter first, we'll carry his speech, then you will take over.
KING: I'll be here.
BLITZER: And you're not going anywhere...
KING: No, I'll be back at midnight.
BLITZER: "LARRY KING LIVE" at midnight tonight, with a new cast of characters?
KING: I'm trying to be you, Wolf.
BLITZER: You're the hardest working man in television.
BLITZER: There is no doubt that Jimmy Carter's speech will be a speech that will focus in on international affairs. He'll be making the case, of course, for John Kerry as well. Bill Schneider has been watching all of this, our senior political analyst, trying to get a little flavor of the mood of this -- these delegations. Bill, what are you picking up?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: What I'm picking up is that there is going to be a lot of nostalgia when Bill Clinton speaks, because he's there to remind not just Democrats but Americans, hey, times used to be good in the '90s, remember? Everyone was making money, there were budget surpluses. Don't talk about scandals, Monica Lewinsky. Talk about the good times under President Clinton. That's the memory that Democrats want to revive.
BLITZER: What about Jimmy Carter at his special role here at this convention? The normal rap against Democrats, as you know, Bill, is that they don't treat their so-called losers well.
SCHNEIDER: Well, he had a very bad image for a long time because he failed to manage the economy. But he has a very important role here. He reminds Americans that the United States has become more isolated in the world under President Bush than it has been in at least half a century. And Jimmy Carter is, if anything, if nothing else, a multilateralist, someone who believes in alliances, in good relationships with the rest of the world. So he's there to say not the economic message of Bill Clinton, but the message that we are now isolated in the world. We've got to go back to a time when America was admired and valued because of human rights.
BLITZER: All right, Bill Schneider, we'll be getting back to you as well. Judy Woodruff, as we get ready to hear from Jimmy Carter, you spoke with him earlier today. The notion that the Democrats don't treat their so-called losers well, that's a widespread feeling out here.
WOODRUFF: Well, it is, Wolf. You think back -- I mean, think back not only to Jimmy Carter, who had a very minor role in the party's conventions for a number of years after he left office, after he was defeated in 1980, but Walter Mondale, virtually ignored by the party. Michael Dukakis, this is Michael Dukakis' home town. We don't even see him at this convention. He was out, I'm told, conducting tours of neighborhoods today.
This is a party that has pretty much shunted aside its losing nominees and presidents. Tonight's different.
BLITZER: Why is tonight different, Judy? Why are they giving the spotlight to Jimmy Carter tonight?
WOODRUFF: Well, it's what we were talking about a little earlier, Wolf. Jimmy Carter has become someone very respected as a former president. He has made a career out of finding peace for a number of countries around the world in conflict. He has spent countless months in Africa working on diseases like river blindness. He has become -- and he won the Nobel Peace prize. He's somebody this party wants to celebrate.
Bill Clinton, somebody else they're in love with. So you've got two Democrats tonight they want to embrace.
BLITZER: They're standing. They're getting ready to hear President Jimmy Carter, the former president of the United States. He has just been introduced.
JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My name is Jimmy Carter, and I'm not running for president.
But here's what I will be doing: everything I can to put John Kerry in the White House with John Edwards right there beside him.
Twenty-eight years ago I was running for president. And I said then, "I want a government as good and as honest and as decent and as competent and as compassionate as are the American people."
I say this again tonight, and that's exactly what we will have next January with John Kerry as president of the United States of America.
As many of you may know, my first chosen career was in the United States Navy, where I served as a submarine officer. At that time, my shipmates and I were ready for combat and prepared to give our lives to defend our nation and its principles. At the same time, we always prayed that our readiness would preserve the peace.
I served under two presidents, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, men who represented different political parties, both of whom had faced their active military responsibilities with honor.
They knew the horrors of war. And later as commanders in chief, they exercised restraint and judgment, and they had a clear sense of mission.
We had a confidence -- we had a confidence that our leaders, both military and civilian, would not put our soldiers and sailors in harm's way by initiating wars of choice unless America's vital interests were in danger.
We also were sure that these presidents would not mislead us when issues involved our national security.
Today, our Democratic Party is led by another former naval officer, one who volunteered for military service. He showed up when assigned to duty...
... and he served with honor and distinction. He also knows the horrors of war and the responsibilities of leadership. And I am confident that next January, he will restore the judgment and maturity to our government that nowadays is sorely lacking.
I am proud to call Lieutenant John Kerry my shipmate, and I am ready to follow him to victory in November.
As you all know, our country faces many challenges at home involving energy, taxation, the environment, education and health. To meet these challenges, we need new leaders in Washington whose policies are shaped by working American families instead of the super- rich and their armies of lobbyists in Washington.
But the biggest reason to make John Kerry president is even more important. It is to safeguard the security of our nation.
Today, our dominant international challenge is to restore the greatness of America, based on... (APPLAUSE)
... based on telling the truth, a commitment to peace, and respect for civil liberties at home and basic human rights around the world.
Truth is the foundation of our global leadership, but our credibility has been shattered and we are left increasingly isolated and vulnerable in a hostile world.
Without truth, without trust, America cannot flourish. Trust is at the very heart of our democracy, the sacred covenant between a president and the people.
When that trust is violated, the bonds that hold our republic together begin to weaken.
After 9/11, America stood proud -- wounded, but determined and united. A cowardly attack on innocent civilians brought us an unprecedented level of cooperation and understanding around the world. But in just 34 months, we have watched with deep concern as all this good will has been squandered by a virtually unbroken series of mistakes and miscalculations.
Unilateral acts and demands have isolated the United States from the very nations we need to join us in combating terrorism.
Let us not forget that the Soviets lost the Cold War because the American people combined the exercise of power with adherence to basic principles, based on sustained bipartisan support.
We understood the positive link between the defense of our own freedom and the promotion of human rights.
But recent policies have cost our nation its reputation as the world's most admired champion of freedom and justice.
What a difference these few months of extremism have made.
The United States has alienated its allies, dismayed its friends, and inadvertently gratified its enemies by proclaiming a confused and disturbing strategy of preemptive war.
With our allies disunited, the world resenting us, and the Middle East ablaze, we need John Kerry to restore life to the global war against terrorism.
In the meantime, the Middle East peace process has come to a screeching halt. For the first time since Israel became a nation, all former presidents, Democratic and Republican, have attempted to secure a comprehensive peace for Israel with hope and justice for the Palestinians.
The achievements of Camp David a quarter century ago and the more recent progress made by President Bill Clinton are now in peril.
Instead, violence has gripped the Holy Land, with the region increasingly swept by anti-American passions. This must change.
Elsewhere, North Korea's nuclear menace, a threat far more real and immediate than any posed by Saddam Hussein, has been allowed to advance unheeded, with potentially ominous consequences for peace and stability in Northeast Asia.
These are some of the prices of our government has paid for this radical departure from the basic American principles and values that are espoused by John Kerry.
In repudiating extremism, we need to recommit ourselves to a few common-sense principles that should transcend partisan differences.
First, we cannot enhance our own security if we place in jeopardy what is most precious to us, namely the centrality of human rights in our daily lives and in global affairs.
Second, we cannot maintain our historic self-confidence as a people if we generate public panic.
Third, we cannot do our duty as citizens and patriots if we pursue an agenda that polarizes and divides our country.
Next, we cannot be true to ourselves if we mistreat others.
And finally, in the world at large, we cannot lead if our leaders mislead.
You can't be a war president one day and claim to be a peace president the next, depending on the latest political polls.
When our national security requires military action, John Kerry has already proven in Vietnam that he will not hesitate to act. And as a proven defender of our national security, John Kerry will strengthen the global alliance against terrorism while avoiding unnecessary wars.
Ultimately, the basic issue is whether America will provide global leadership that springs from the unity and the integrity of the American people, or whether extremist doctrines, the manipulation of the truth, will define America's role in the world.
At stake is nothing less than our nation's soul.
In a few months, I will, God willing, enter my 81st year of my life.
And in many ways, the last few months have been some of the most disturbing of all. But I am not discouraged. I really am not. I do not despair for our country. I never do. I believe tonight, as I always have, that the essential decency and compassion and common sense of the American people will prevail.
And so I say to you...
And so I say to you and to others around the world, whether they wish us well or ill: Do not underestimate us Americans.
We lack neither strength nor wisdom. There is a road that leads to a bright and hopeful future. What America needs is leadership.
Our job, my fellow Americans, is to ensure that the leaders of this great country will be John Kerry and John Edwards.
Thank you, and God bless America.
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