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Senator Kerry Hits the Road; President Bush Strikes Back

Aired July 30, 2004 - 15:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: On the road again. The Democratic nominees leave Boston hoping to get more mileage out of their convention message.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is the most important election of our lifetime and the results are going to be more in your hands than in ours.



ANNOUNCER: Die-hard Democrats may have eaten it up, but did John Kerry tell undecided voters what they needed to hear?

CROWD: Four more years! Four more years!

ANNOUNCER: President Bush adds his own postscript to the Democrats' party. He's back on the campaign trail and firing back at Kerry.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to make it clear his prescription for America is the wrong medicine.


ANNOUNCER: Now, live from Boston, a special edition of JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us.

Well, we are back on this side of the Boston Harbor, across the water from the FleetCenter. You can see it over my shoulder. That's where practically every trace of the Democratic Convention already has been packed up or swept away.

Here at the Boston National Historical Park, which is home to the USS Constitution, we're not far from the site where John Kerry and John Edwards launched their postconvention tour this morning.

After the Democrats dominated the political spotlight for the past four days, President Bush, he's on the road, too, trying to put a lid on his rival's possible convention bounce. The Kerry-Edwards camp, meantime, trying to cover a lot of ground in the days ahead. Their bus rolled into Pennsylvania not too long ago. CNN's Elaine Quijano is in the Keystone State capital of Harrisburg.

Hello, Elaine.


Good afternoon to you, Judy.

Senators John Kerry and John Edwards are taking their message on the road with a stop scheduled here in the state capital of Pennsylvania here in Harrisburg. They're expected here later tonight. But they're hoping to capitalize on the momentum coming off of the Democratic National Convention there in Boston. The now official ticket had a send-off from Boston early this morning, just hours after Senator Kerry delivered his acceptance speech.

Now, believe leaving Boston, Senator Kerry talked to the crowd in his hometown about values, reiterating his feelings that it's more than just a word and suggesting that a Kerry-Edwards administration would act to uphold American values by reaching out not just to the haves, but also to the have-nots.

Now, after that send-off, the senator's caravan, which includes 17 vehicles, including the 100 media members covering the senator's trip, took off for the key battleground state of Pennsylvania, 21 electoral votes up for grabs in the state Pennsylvania, a state that Al Gore won in 2000 by just four percentage points.

But the senator is making stops today in Scranton, Pennsylvania, before coming here to the state capital, where they will talk to the crowd gathered here. Also on tap, we understand, in addition to Senators Kerry and Edwards, actor Ben Affleck and the Pennsylvania governor, Ed Rendell -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Elaine Quijano. Pennsylvania is a state they might be feeling good about. We know the poll numbers there have started trending up a little for the Democrats. We'll see.

Elaine, thanks very much.

Well, the Democrats have not wasted any time turning Kerry's convention speech into a commercial. The spot featuring Kerry's promise to defend the nation as president is now on the DNC Web site. And it will begin airing on television next Friday in 20 competitive states.

Sorry about the airplane overhead.

That ad buy will cost about $6 billion -- million, million dollars, not billion.

Well, Democratic, Republican and nonpartisan pollsters all are scrambling today to find out what kind of impression John Kerry and friends made on the voters this week.

As our Bill Schneider explains, not all convention bounces are created equal.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Question: What has been the most successful Democratic Convention in recent years, the one with the biggest bounce? Answer, 1992. Democrats marketed themselves as new Democrats, the party of change.


SCHNEIDER: What really gave the Democrats a lift was this man's decision during the convention to pull out of the race and say nice things about the Democrats.

ROSS PEROT (I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Democratic Party has revitalized itself.

SCHNEIDER: The Democrats got more than a bounce in '92. They got a blastoff, 16 points, the mother of all bounces. Democrats also hold the record for two of the least successful conventions. One was the Chicago catastrophe of 1968, when the only thing that got a bounce was the heads of the protesters. Voters were not impressed. Hubert Humphrey actually lost points.

The other was 1972, when the Democratic Convention was so out of control, the nominee gave his acceptance speech at 2:30 in the morning. It's kind of hard to get a bounce from people who are asleep.


SCHNEIDER: Now, the delegates have been coming up to me all over Boston, where we are right now, and saying, what's the bounce? What's the bounce? And I give them advice which I will pass on to you and to our viewers. Beware false bounce. You cannot interview people the night that Kerry speaks, because they're asleep.

You have to wait a couple of days. They have to digest the information, discuss it with their co-workers and their family. And over the weekend, we're going to be calling people. And on Monday's INSIDE POLITICS, we'll tell you what the real bounce is.

WOODRUFF: And that's going to the real bounce.

SCHNEIDER: The real bounce.

WOODRUFF: As opposed to what the parties are saying.

SCHNEIDER: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. The parties are spinning all kinds of things. We'll have the answer Monday.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Schneider, thanks very much and we'll see you later in the program, "Political Play of the Week."

Well, President Bush is due to speak in Grand Rapids, Michigan, this hour, one of three showdown states he's visiting on this day after the end of the Democratic Convention. In Springfield, Missouri, this morning, Bush launched his counterattack against Kerry. Among other things, he accused the senator of having -- quote -- "no signature achievements" and of being a tax and spender.


BUSH: He spent nearly 20 years in the federal government and it appears he's concluded that it's just not big enough.


BUSH: He's proposed more than $2 trillion of additional federal spending. And he's just getting started. The problem is, he hasn't told us how he's going to pay for it. We can figure it out, can't we?


BUSH: He's had a history of voting for higher taxes. We're going to make it clear his prescription for America is the wrong medicine.


WOODRUFF: We're going to have a live report on the president's day a little later on INSIDE POLITICS. Bush also told voters today that he has a clear vision on how to win the war on terror.

Even as he spoke, a Senate committee was holding the first hearing on the 9/11 Commission's recommendations.

CNN congressional correspondent Ed Henry has our report.


ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The assessment from commission co-chair Lee Hamilton was harsh. Nearly three years after 9/11, the government is still not doing enough.

LEE HAMILTON, VICE-CHAIRMAN, 9/11 COMMISSION: We find a desire to move ahead, but the whole government just is not acting with the urgency we think is required across the board.

HENRY: With President Bush's handling of national security a top issue in the campaign, that could be a politically explosive statement. So a Republican senator quickly sought clarification.

SEN. NORM COLEMAN (R), MINNESOTA: This is a political season. And this should not be a political football. And I could just see a headline, chairmen say lack of urgency.

HENRY: The commission co-chairman stressed, they were not singling out Bush officials like Condi Rice.

THOMAS KEAN, CHAIRMAN, 9/11 COMMISSION: No, no. And we didn't say that in our report about any of those people, and wouldn't. The sense of urgency is there. But a sense of urgency must be extended, magnified.

HENRY: The co-chairs pressed for all 41 of their proposals to reform the government. They warn that just shuffling some bureaucratic boxes will not do the job.

KEAN: If we do not carry out all important recommendations we have outlined in foreign policy, in border security, in transportation security and other areas, reorganizing government alone is not going to make us safer.


HENRY: Judy, obviously, there's a lot of pressure on Congress to do something to act on these recommendations and act on them quickly. But Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who is chairing today's Senate hearing, stressed that she wanted to put the brakes on that talk a little bit.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: We must act with speed, but not in haste. We must be bold, but we cannot be reckless. We must protect not just the lives of our citizens, but also those values that make life worth living. All terrorism involves death and destruction. But the ultimate goal of terrorists is to destroy everything that we treasure and that defines us as Americans.


HENRY: Judy, senators in both parties also raised civil liberties questions about this new national counterterrorism center that has been proposed by the commission. There was also a healthy debate about a national director of intelligence, whether or not that's the best way to go and how that should actually be structured.

But I can tell you that one Democratic senator, Tom Carper, used a little Latin. He said carpe diem, seize the day. He said, while he doesn't want Congress to rush, he does think that there's an opportunity here, that Congress doesn't always get these kinds of things done well. But he thinks they should really make the effort. And Tom Kean jumped on that and said he believes there is a moment here for Congress to act -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Ed Henry, interesting how they're saying nothing -- the political timing of this had nothing to do with politics. But we all know it's the middle of an election year.

Ed, thank you very much.

Meantime, on the war in Iraq, the question is, did Americans hear enough about John Kerry about what he would do differently?

Also ahead, I'll talk with Cameron Kerry about his brother's convention performance and where the campaign goes from here.

Plus, did the news media cover the party in Boston well enough or long enough?

And will all those Democrats crowding onto the Kerry bandwagon, does any one of them deserve the "Political Play of the Week"?

With 95 days until the election, this is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.



DICK CHENEY (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have seen our military at its finest, with the best equipment, the best training and the best leadership. I am proud of them. I have had the responsibility for their well-being. And I can promise them now, help is on the way.



KERRY: We will end the back-door draft of the National Guard and reservists.


KERRY: To all who serve in our armed forces today, I say, help is on the way.


WOODRUFF: As you just heard, John Kerry blatantly borrowing a line from the Bush-Cheney 2000 playbook. But how did he do overall in his big speech last night?

To do a little scoring, let's call in CNN political analyst Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times" .

What was the Kerry strategy? What was he trying to accomplish, Ron, and did he get it done?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Not only did he appropriate that line, of course, Judy, but he appropriated restoring honor and decency to the Oval Office when he said I will restore trust and credibility to the Oval Office.

The overall strategy seemed pretty apparent, to go right at George Bush's strengths. If you look at the message they tried to send out, it was that he will be strong on national defense, that he represented mainstream values, integrity, managing the war on terror. This was a frontal assault on terrain that the White House had assumed to be among their greatest assets.

And I think it showed the White House -- it surprised them to some extent. WOODRUFF: But you were and I were talking earlier and you were saying he also left himself open in several areas by what he didn't talk about.


Clearly, the overwhelming message of this convention was, John Kerry is a strong and seasoned leader who has been tested under fire and you can trust him under crisis in the White House. The basis on which they made that argument, though, was almost entirely on his experience in Vietnam 35 years ago. There was very little discussion during this entire convention about what he did in the Senate.

And that's where the Bush campaign has already signaled from their advertising where they see the greatest vulnerability, the argument that he has vacillated on issues or flip-flopped or been soft on defense. In essence, you had two different frames being built for the American public to assess John Kerry as commander in chief, one, the man standing on the bridge, as David Alston said, under fire, cool, courageous, making tough decisions.

The other, the politician who doesn't know his own mind, who takes both sides of every issue, especially Iraq.

WOODRUFF: And we even have the president himself going after Kerry on his Senate record right out of his own mouth.

Ron, at this point, coming out of this convention, what do the Democrats need to do to keep up or to build on, I should say, any momentum they may have gotten?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think they are feeling the most likely benefit they're going to receive from this is to some extent the bounce in the horse race, whatever that turns out to be, but, more importantly, in solidifying the impressions of Kerry.

Obviously, in this year, the first election post-9/11, establishing credibility as commander in chief is job one, especially for a challenger. It's hard for the voters. They've never seen him as commander in chief. George Bush has done the job. John Kerry has to show them that he can. I think they feel that they have made a lot of progress on that front.

And what they're looking for even, more even than the bounce in the horse race are numbers showing voters feel more comfortable with him as president, more comfortable as commander in chief, more connected to him personally.

WOODRUFF: The line, Ron, getting back to the president -- in fact, he named the president at one point. He said the president led us through that difficult time after 9/11. We were united. We weren't Democrats and Republicans. We were just Americans. Would that it had last longer.

Is that something that sells


BROWNSTEIN: That was a fascinating theme throughout this whole convention, certainly in the keynote speech from Obama. Bill Clinton talked about it as well, the argument that the country was willing to come together and George Bush drove it apart by pursuing an excessively ideological agenda and, indeed, polarized the world as well, very similar to 2000.

After the four exhausting years of intense partisanship under President Clinton, of course, with impeachment, George Bush went and said he would be a uniter, not a divider. It was a resonant theme. And here we have John Kerry after four years of intense conflict, not only at home, really but around the world, coming back and promising the same thing.

WOODRUFF: Well, we have a lot to chew over in that 55-minute speech last night.

BROWNSTEIN: Absolutely.

WOODRUFF: And we're going to keep on talking about it.

Ron Brownstein, thanks for coming, staying in Boston this afternoon. We appreciate it.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you, Judy.

Well, shifting now from the Democratic Convention to the people who brought it to you. How did we do? Coming up, media analyst Howard Kurtz critiques the convention coverage.


WOODRUFF: Members of the news media covering this week's Democratic National Convention outnumbered convention delegates 3-1, believe it or not. Well, with so much news media in the mix, how did the coverage measure up?

Joining me from our Washington bureau is media analyst Howard Kurtz of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES" and, of course, "The Washington Post."

Howard, how did the news media do overall, do you think?

HOWARD KURTZ, "RELIABLE SOURCES": Having just spent a week up there with you, Judy, in the Boston bubble, I can tell you that most of the journalists were working pretty hard. A few mostly went to the parties.

After all the hand-wringing and, frankly, whining about how there wasn't much news at this convention, there were some interesting moments, a surprisingly strong keynote speech by Barack Obama, Al Sharpton refusing to get off the stage, Teresa Heinz Kerry's address, which some people found kind of odd, because it was more about her than her husband, and the very moving tribute by the Kerry daughters. But you have to remember, most people didn't see any of that because it wasn't carried on the broadcast networks. People are seeing snippets or a sound bite on the local news or reading a headline in the next day's paper.

WOODRUFF: Well, Howard, as you know, the broadcast networks, ABC, CBS, NBC, they are still saying they think this was the right decision. What are you sensing, though, from talking to people both inside and outside of the bubble here?

KURTZ: Well, you know, they want to justify the decision, because they make a lot more money, frankly, putting on reality shows and sitcoms. I happen to think these conventions take place once every four years. They could spare more than three whole hours to cover them.

But what's happening is that more people are migrating to cable. Cable ratings, including CNN's, were up from four years ago, even as the broadcast networks' came down. And alternative outlets, MTV was there. ESPN was there. World Wrestling and outlets like that, Black Entertainment Television. And I think they are kind of helping to fill a void, along with all the bloggers, people delivering the news online. So maybe the audience is just going elsewhere, at least those who are interested in what goes on at a Democratic Convention.

WOODRUFF: Howard, what about the whole question of balance? When the media sort of are immersed in a story like this and surrounded by one political party -- and, of course, in a month from now, we're going to be surrounded at the Republican Convention. Did the media, news media acquit themselves well in terms of keeping a level head here?

KURTZ: I didn't worry too much about the balance question. People understand it's the Democratic Party, and the Republicans will have the same thing in New York.

I also saw a lot of Republican spokesmen, party chairman Ed Gillespie, Marc Racicot, the Bush campaign chairman, getting their shot now and then. As you know, the GOP had a spin team there, try to get into the news every day. But I do think there is a danger of losing perspective when you're in that bubble and everyone is talking about all the minutia.

For example, on the first day of the convention, we're all sort of waiting for news. I must have seen 50 times on different networks that sound bite replayed over and over again of Teresa telling that Pittsburgh reporter to shove it. Well, I think, actually, you don't lose popularity when you tell a member of the press to shove it. And she might have had good provocation, but it almost reached Dean scream levels.

And I think that's the danger of being in the bubble, is that little incidents like that, because you want something that's unscripted, that's not choreographed, tend to get overplayed.

WOODRUFF: You're not saying you actually think it's a good thing when somebody criticizes the press, do you?


KURTZ: I've had my share. But I suspect you have, too. I just didn't think it was quite the calamity that it appeared to be on television that particular day.

WOODRUFF: All right, Howard Kurtz, very good to talk to you. Thanks for stopping by. We appreciate it. Thank you.

KURTZ: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Well, the nation's editorial writers have plenty to say about the convention itself. Coming up, a look at how the Democrats' big week in Boston is playing in the rest of the country.


WOODRUFF: Welcome back to this special 90-minute edition of INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff, live from the CNN Election Express, right here along the waterfront in Boston.

Well, as the cleanup begin at the FleetCenter over my shoulder, and Boston residents look forward to life getting back to normal, the next phase of the campaign has already taken shape for both the Kerry- Edwards and the Bush-Cheney ticket. You could call it, showdown states, here we come.


WOODRUFF (voice-over): The party's over.

EDWARDS: He hit a home run last night.


EDWARDS: It cleared the Green Monster, sailed past the CITGO sign and is headed for the White House.

WOODRUFF: And now a new marathon begins.

KERRY: John and I will keep -- we're going to restore trust and credibility to the White House. I will begin, as he will, by telling the truth all across this country and asking Americans to hang on to that truth.

WOODRUFF: Bye-bye Boston. Team Kerry-Edwards hit the road this morning, embarking on a 3,500 mile coast-to-coast tour that will take them to 21 states.

First stop, the battleground of Pennsylvania. Then tomorrow the ticket travels to West Virginia and Ohio, before rolling into Michigan on Sunday.

They're calling this the "Believe in America" tour. But the Democrats aren't the only ones taking their show on the road. AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years!

WOODRUFF: After a week out of the spotlight, the president hits the hustings with a vengeance today, kicking off his four-week "Heart and Soul" tour, which will take him all the way to the Republican convention in New York. Today's stop, showdown states Michigan, Missouri and Ohio.

BUSH: They somehow believe the heart and soul of America can be found in Hollywood. The heart and soul of America is found right here in Springfield, Missouri.


WOODRUFF: Under pressure to outline a second term agenda, the president will use his travels to highlight his vision theme. Weeks one and two will focus on economic policy and programs geared at families. He'll touch on taxes, small business incentives and education. Week three hits on national security. And week four will tackle a different issue each day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When it comes to issues that affect our families, are John Kerry's priorities the same as yours?

WOODRUFF: Bolstering the message, a new series of television ads marking a return to the airwaves for the Bush-Cheney campaign.


WOODRUFF: And we're going to show you some live pictures now of President Bush. He has just arrived in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This is his second stop of a three-stop day. He was in Springfield, Missouri, this morning. After Grand Rapids he moves on to Ohio. Three battleground states.

Well, whether you call them battleground or showdown states, they are already on top of the travel itinerary. Sorry. That scared me. We've got a boat right here in the harbor.

In any event, with the battleground states on top, right now both of these campaigns have to find the best way to appeal to the diverse battlegrounds that are out there across the country. Last night, John Kerry used part of his speech to call for unity in the party and unity in the country as a whole. Here's just a sampling of reaction to Kerry's speech by voters in Arizona and in New Jersey, two states where polls show Bush and Kerry are very close.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of very nice promises, and a lot of very good things. A lot of very good expectations, yet I want to see -- I want to see some more ground-proof evidence. I want to -- I want to know directly what he wants to do for the country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would hope that people watched it with an open mind. You know? And I think if they did, they'll see that he has -- he has a personality I think that's (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And he really does.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a Republican, but I was actually -- he was a better speaker than I thought he would be. He had -- he was more charismatic than I thought he would be. More peppy. And I think he's going to have greater appeal than we thought he would have overall.


WOODRUFF: Well, for more on how showdown state voters are reacting to Kerry's speech and the overall convention, I'm joined by Ricardo Pimentel. He is the editorial page editor of the "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel." And I believe it's Pimentel and I didn't pronounce it correctly.


WOODRUFF: Pimentel. Thank you very much for joining us.

First of all, how much of the convention did you watch? How much did the readers of your newspaper watch, do you think, of this convention?

PIMENTEL: Well, I think as befitting a battleground state, I think they were tuned in. They know that they are a swing state.

WOODRUFF: And -- and what are you hearing? Did people e-mail or call the newspaper to give reactions? What kind of reaction are you hearing?

PIMENTEL: Well, I'm hearing a fairly muted reaction right now. I think we're not -- we're no strangers to the -- either campaign. Both campaigns have come to visit us. And John Kerry's going to come to visit Milwaukee this coming Monday.

So I think -- you know, I think it's muted at the moment. But I think it will pick up as the campaign revs up.

WOODRUFF: You wrote in the paper, or rather in today's editorial -- editorial page that John Kerry did at least some of what he was trying to accomplish. What -- how did you -- how did you read the -- the acceptance speech last night?

PIMENTEL: I think he very carefully identified the president's perceived weaknesses and co-opted some of -- some of the themes the president has -- has touted. Things like values and national security.

I think he recognized that he had to counteract the perception that a vote for John Kerry is -- is going to make you less safe. I think he -- that's something he's very directly tackling.

WOODRUFF: And how do you think that's likely to go over with Wisconsin voters?

PIMENTEL: Well, it's much more than national security here in Wisconsin. There are issues far more at home. Things like manufacturing, the loss of manufacturing jobs, jobs moving overseas.

We are both rural and urban. We have gritty inner city problems. And we have problems that need attention in our agricultural areas.

WOODRUFF: And are...

PIMENTEL: So I think it's going to be much more.

WOODRUFF: And are you hearing about that from the two campaigns? Are voters holding the current administration responsible for that? Or are they looking to both campaigns for answers?

PIMENTEL: Well, the polls show Wisconsinites about as equally as divided as a lot of the other battleground states. I think a lot of it is strictly partisan identity. And right now, here, as in -- as anywhere, it's going to be a battle for the Independent voter and those few who are straddling in either party.

WOODRUFF: Well, last we know, that in 2000 the election was about as close as it was -- Wisconsin was one of the closest states in the country. The polls are showing it's close now. You're saying that's exactly what you see.

Do you think Kerry will get any bounce out of this convention? Do you have any feel for that?

PIMENTEL: Yes, I think he will get some bounce. I think that's predictable. But the thing is, the president will get bounce after his convention which starts August 30 in New York. It may be a wash. And it's going to come down to the wire, I think, here in Wisconsin.

WOODRUFF: Ricardo Pimentel, who is the editorial page editor right there in Milwaukee, "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel." Thank you very much for talking with me. We appreciate it.

And as you just heard him say, John Kerry, John Edwards are going to be in Milwaukee this coming Monday.


WOODRUFF: Thanks again.

And now checking the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily," there's more information on the Democratic Party's efforts to help John Kerry in the months ahead. The Democratic National Committee is mounting a fund-raising drive to bring in $100 million between now and Election Day. Published reports say the DNC is also working to raise money for state political parties all in the name of helping Kerry preserve the $75 million in federal money that Kerry is receiving for the general election.

Democrats in Pennsylvania planning to challenge Ralph Nader's attempt to get his name on that state's November ballot. Starting Monday, state party leaders say they plan to examine Nader's signature petitions, looking for possible election law violations. A Nader organizer criticized the effort in today's "Philadelphia Daily News," labeling state Democrats as the "anti-Democratic Party."

In Florida, officials in Miami-Dade County say they have located election records once believed to have been destroyed in a computer crash. As we reported earlier this week, computer glitches last year were thought to have deleted county records from Florida's 2002 gubernatorial primary. The data has now been located on a compact disk.

And one other Florida election note. Filmmaker Michael Moore said this week he plans to take his crews to Florida to keep an eye on the November election there. Moore made his remarks to a group of Florida delegates here in Boston.

And Bob Novak joins us now from Washington with his "Novak's Notebook." He was one of the first to get on a plane this morning out of Boston.

All right, Bob, first of all, I understand you've learned that Senator Kerry had been thinking about a proposal to take to Congress having to do with the 9/11 Commission. And what happened instead?

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Yes. Some very well informed delegates had the word that he was seriously considering asking or demanding that the Republican co-Congress end its vacation and come back and pass the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. For us old- timers, Judy, that brings back memories of Harry Truman's acceptance speech in 1948, a very dispirited convention in the wee hours of the morning. And he called for the Republican-controlled Congress to come back on turnip day (ph), turn the campaign around.

I think they decided in the -- in the Kerry campaign it was too gimmicky. It would have had an electrifying effect, but they figure they're not in the kind of shape Truman was in '48. They don't need a big burst like that.

WOODRUFF: All right. Bob, separately, what are the Democrats you've been talking to saying about the Kerry speech and the Edwards speech this week?

NOVAK: Very interesting, Judy. The Democrats I talked to had very little expectations on John Kerry. A lot of them really hadn't heard him much. And they thought it was going to be dull. They were really excited how -- how vibrant he was.

And they were disappointed in the Edwards speech. They thought that the silver-tongued lawyer from North Carolina was going to be terrific. They felt that he seemed not credible when kind of a, you know, nice looking young fellow says, "I'm going to smash (ph) the al Qaeda." They thought that it was pretty much of a sub-par effort while Kerry's was a very good effort.

WOODRUFF: A lot of big-role expectations play in these things. Bob, separately, the issue of the Supreme Court. You talked to some delegates surprised about that.

NOVAK: Yes. I talked to -- my reporter, Tim Carney (ph), was on the floor talking to a lot of delegates. And these delegates really -- this is the number one issue for a lot of Democratic delegates.

They feel that on -- on civil rights, on women's rights, on gay rights, that a lot of things will be taken away from them if George W. Bush fills the next Supreme Court vacancies. And they were a little surprised. I wouldn't exactly say disappointed, but surprised that there was hardly anything said at the convention.

Al Sharpton said something. Al Gore said a few words. There was nothing official he said about the candidates about this judge issue.

I think that the Democrats feel the judge issue probably plays in the direction of the Republicans. And they're not going to talk about it. But I can tell you, to a rank and file activist, it is a huge issue for the Democrats.

WOODRUFF: Very, very quickly, Bob, your look at the electoral map now that this convention is behind the Democrats.

NOVAK: The Evans-Novak Political Report now has the biggest lead yet for -- for Kerry, 296 to 242. We switch Michigan with 17 electoral votes in Nevada, with five electoral votes over to Kerry.

Florida with 27 electoral votes. Very narrow, but stays with Kerry. Of course these are all based on if the election were held today. It is not today. But that is a fairly good lead for John Kerry. And we haven't even considered any bounce from his convention yet.

WOODRUFF: OK. We'll leave it there. Bob Novak, thank you. Talk to you very, very soon.

NOVAK: Thank you. Have fun in Boston, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, thank you.

All politicians we know have an inner circle of trusted advisers. In John Kerry's case, one of them is his younger brother. Cameron Kerry joins me in just a minute.

We'll also look back at the most memorable sights and sounds of this week in Boston.

And later, the commander-in-chief fights back. We'll have a report from George W. Bush's "Heart and Soul of America" tour.


WOODRUFF: These are some live pictures coming in from Scranton, Pennsylvania. The Kerry-Edwards bus caravan's second stop of the day. It started out in Boston and it has now reached this town, this city in Pennsylvania on their way to Harrisburg.

You can see the governor of Pennsylvania there, Ed Rendell. From this rally, they move on across the state to Harrisburg, and 21 states they're going to be moving -- touching down over the next week.

Well, I'm back here next to the harbor in Boston, across the water from the FleetCenter. And with me is John Kerry's younger brother, Cam Kerry, someone who was a close adviser to the candidate.

Are you possible -- is it possible for you to be objective about the speech last night? Or are you just sort of completely blown away by your brother's performance?

CAMERON KERRY, SENATOR KERRY'S BROTHER: Well, Judy, I'm always objective. Look it, it was a very proud moment. I'm just so proud of -- of John and of Alex and Vanessa.

I mean, they just -- you know, I was in tears when Vanessa was talking about my -- my mother. And it was a very moving movement. But the convention and the people watching got to see the John Kerry that I've known all my life.

WOODRUFF: A lot of Democrats are saying they -- they feel good about this convention, but already, 12 hours after your brother gave his acceptance speech, George W. Bush was on the campaign trail in Missouri today saying he spent 19 years in the United States Senate, didn't do anything much of distinction, and went on to say he didn't do anything about reforming health care or education or intelligence. He was very tough on your brother.

KERRY: Well, you know, John issued an invitation to George Bush last night to make this a positive campaign about issues. And I guess we got -- got an answer.

I'm disappointed. But, you know, the Bush-Cheney campaign has had nothing but negative and misleading attacks from the get-go here. We're trying to stay on a positive tone, talk about the future and what John Kerry and John Edwards are going to do to -- to make us stronger at home, health care and energy and independence. And to make us respected in the world again.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you, though, about another comment that the president himself made today. He talked about John Kerry, the Democratic Party. He said they believe the heart and soul of the country is Hollywood. He said "I believe it's right here in Springfield, Missouri."

KERRY: Well, I think the convention this week made it very clear where John Kerry and John Edwards think the heart and soul -- heart and soul of the country is. And that's why they're out now, going around the country.

And they're going to be, you know, going all across the country and joining in a few days to head out by train. The first time since people have gone across the country by train since Harry Truman went out to give them hell.

WOODRUFF: In fact, we're showing live pictures as I'm talking to John Kerry's brother, Cameron Kerry. We are looking at live pictures, Scranton, Pennsylvania. The Kerry-Edwards campaign has landed in that city in Pennsylvania. And John Kerry's just gotten off the bus. You can see him working the crowd there.

I'm interested in your reaction to this, because it's pretty clear that the Bush-Cheney campaign is not going to sit back and be sort of passive about all this. I mean, they are coming back, they accuse your brother of voting to raise taxes hundreds of times. They're talking about waffling on the war on Iraq. I mean, they've got -- they've got very, you know, tough television and radio ads out there.

KERRY: Well, as I said, Judy, they have been -- you know, they have been negative and misleading from the get-go. I mean, they spent $86 million to do nothing but try to tear down John Kerry.

We're going to try to go out there and be positive and talk about the issues and talk about what it really takes to move forward. And, you know, John made it clear last night that he's not going to raise taxes on the middle class. But that doesn't stop them from going out and saying it. Part of what this election is about is credibility.

WOODRUFF: How does he feel about the election right now? Is he feeling confident? I mean, we've just had two of our analysts, Bill Schneider and Bob Novak, saying essentially that, you know, when you look at electoral votes, your brother's in the lead right now, right now, as of today.

KERRY: Well, in terms of the politics of this, I guess I'd rather be sitting where John is -- where than where George Bush is. But look, this is going to be a close election. It's going to be a lively debate about -- I hope about the issues and not just attack politics and tearing people down.

WOODRUFF: Cameron Kerry, thank you very much. We're in your home town, and it's good to visit with you here.

KERRY: It's gorgeous here. And I hope you had a chance to enjoy the city while you were here.

WOODRUFF: A little bit. We spent a lot of time at the FleetCenter.

KERRY: I know what that's like.

WOODRUFF: Thank you very much. It's good to talk with you. And we'll see you during the campaign.

KERRY: Great. Thanks a lot.

WOODRUFF: Thank you.

Well, the Kerry campaign, as we just mentioned, has moved on from Boston. But this week's convention left a lasting imprint on the political landscape. When we return, we're going to look back at some of the moments you might have missed.


WOODRUFF: Well, the balloons didn't drop on time. The scripts were sanitized, you could say. And firebrand speeches in short supply. Still, the Democratic National Convention in Boston had its moments. Here are some of the more memorable sights and sounds of the party's big show.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The 44th Quadrennial National Convention of the Democratic Party will now come to order.

WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you believe it is good policy to pay for my tax cuts with the Social Security check of working men and women, and borrow money from China and Japan, you should vote for them.

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: The only thing we have to fear is four more years of George Bush.

BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq. We are one people, all of us, pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

EDWARDS: When your parents call and tell you their medicine's going through the roof, they can't keep up, you tell them, hope is on the way.

AUDIENCE: Hope is on the way.

REV. AL SHARPTON (D), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In all due respect, Mr. President, read my lips, our vote is not for sale!

TERESA HEINZ KERRY, JOHN KERRY'S WIFE: And John is a fighter. He earned his medal the old-fashioned way.

MO ROCCA, POLITICAL SATIRIST: Diane Feinstein puts the "fine" in Feinstein.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today, we continue to lead the fight to ensure that the Senate reflects the real America.

CLINTON: So let us join tonight and say to America in a loud, clear voice, send John Kerry!

J. KERRY: I will be a commander-in-chief who will never mislead us into war. I will have a vice president who will not conduct secret meetings with polluters to rewrite our environmental laws. I will have a secretary of defense who will listen to the advice of the military leaders, and I will appoint an attorney general who will uphold the Constitution of the United States.



WOODRUFF: Just a few highlights of that convention. It's now over. And it's time to hit the road.

Coming up, reports from both the Kerry-Edwards and the George W. Bush campaign tours.

And what's a convention without the "CROSSFIRE" treatment, or a "Political Play of the Week?"

Stay with us. Much more ahead.



EDWARDS: We had an extraordinary week here in Boston, extraordinary convention, talking about this message of hope and optimism for the country. We're going to leave here, spread this message.

ANNOUNCER: The Democratic duo hits the trail for a coast-to-coast post-convention tour. But President Bush jumps back on the road as well, trying to steal some of their thunder.

BUSH: My opponent has good intentions, but intentions do not always translate to results.

ANNOUNCER: John Kerry gave the speech of his life last night, but did he win our "Political Play of the Week?"


ANNOUNCER: Now, live from Boston, a special edition of JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.

WOODRUFF: Welcome back to Boston, where the mass exodus of political and news media figures is continuing now that the curtain has fallen on the Democrats big show. We (AUDIO GAP) our home away from home at the FleetCenter behind me across the harbor. Now we're back with the CNN Election Express preparing to move on to the next stops on the campaign trail.

With Boston behind us, we're now counting down to the Republican National Convention, which opens in New York 31 days from today. Republicans are setting the stage for their big party, the Bush-Cheney campaign today released a new ad highlighting the president's plans to, quote: "do what's right in a changing world."

Meantime the president is back out on the trail himself responding to the Democrats and their convention attack. CNN's Kathleen Koch is with the president in Grand Rapids, Michigan -- Kathleen.

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (AUDIO GAP) now the president is in Grand Rapids, Michigan, making his seventeenth visit to this battleground state. The president got a very warm welcome from the large audience here, again this is a tough state that he barely lost by just some 4 percentage points back in 2002, with then-Vice President Al Gore.

And he's right now in the middle of a speech similar to one he gave just a few hours ago in Springfield, Missouri. He's telling his audience that we've been through a lot together over the last four years and we've accomplished a great deal. The president touting what his administration has done in areas like education, in health care, the economy, the war on terrorism.

We're expecting him very soon to pick up a riff that he launched into in Missouri, saying, we're turning the corner and we're not turning back. The president has -- in the speech earlier, has taken a few shots at his opponent. We're told that the president did not watch John Kerry's acceptance speech last night in Boston, though he was briefed on it this morning.

Earlier the president said, well, that speech, he did hear some clever speeches and some big promises. And the president here in Grand Rapids a few minutes ago took a shot at a statement that John Kerry made earlier this month at a New York fundraiser when he praised some entertainers as illustrating -- as representing, I should say, the hearts and souls of America.


BUSH: My opponents think you can find it in Hollywood. I think you find it right here in Grand Rapids, Michigan.



KOCH: Now there is some tough economic news, though it depends on your interpretation of course, for the Bush administration today. New deficit figures, a projection for 2004, record deficit of $445 billion. That significantly surpasses last year's record budget deficit of $375 billion. Now while Democrats are criticizing this is as sign of fiscal responsibility (sic), the Bush administration is putting a positive spin on it, saying that these numbers are actually good because they are lower than predicted, they are going in the right direction.


JOSH BOLTEN, WHITE HOUSE BUDGET DIRECTOR: Looking out into the future, what this revision means is that we're not just on track to meet that goal of cutting the deficit in half, we're well ahead of schedule and it gives us a great deal of comfort that we're pursuing the right policies and we're headed toward bringing this deficit toward a very low number within very few years.


KOCH: And from here, President Bush heads on to battleground state number three, Ohio, to attend to fundraisers expected to pull in at least $3 million -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Kathleen Koch out on the trail with President Bush, thanks very much. Well, the Kerry campaign was quick to comment on that new deficit report, saying it shows just how important it is to have a president who has a domestic agenda; something the Kerry camp says that President Bush group does not have. Live pictures coming in to us from Scranton, Pennsylvania. Are we going to stay with this for just a minute? We're going to dip in and out.

Meantime, Senators Kerry and Edwards are on the move. You just heard they're in Pennsylvania, and in Scranton and they head from here to Harrisburg. The Democratic twosome left Boston this morning, echoing the themes we heard at the convention.

And without mentioning the president by name, Kerry repeated a line clearly meant as a dig at Bush.


KERRY: My pledge to you that I made last night, John and I will keep. We're going to restore trust and credibility to the White House. I will begin, as he will, by telling the truth all across this country and asking Americans to hang onto to that truth. Hold onto it, grapple with it, take it, use it, build the future of America on the truth, because that's what sets us free and that's what makes us strong.


WOODRUFF: Team Kerry beginning a two-week 21-state coast-to- coast swing. They are calling it the "Believe in America" tour.

Well, right now let's hear from representatives of the Bush and the Kerry camps. Kerry campaign senior adviser Michael Meehan, he is here with me now in Boston. And Bush-Cheney Jennifer Millerwise is Bush campaign headquarters in suburban Washington.

Jennifer Millerwise, to you first, you just heard John Kerry saying, we're going to tell you the truth, but this convention theme was very much a message of optimism, focus on the future. Does that make it any harder for your camp to call -- to accuse the Democrats of being pessimists?

JENNIFER MILLERWISE, BUSH CAMPAIGN SPOKESWOMAN: Well, I'm having a little bit of a tough time hearing you but if it's in reference to last night's speech, I think there's a question that John Kerry asked the American people which I think we all agree on, which is that we should judge John Kerry by his record and we totally agree, we should judge John Kerry by his record.

And we totally agree. We think we should judge John Kerry by his record. But you know that he spoke last night for almost an hour, and out of that hour, he only spent 26 seconds talking about the past 19 years that he spent in the United States Senate.

I can't say that I blame him. I don't know that I would have highlighted the fact that I only showed up -- or I missed 38 out of 49 different meetings before the intelligence committee. I don't think I would want to highlight the fact that my biggest proposal while I was in the intelligence committee was to gut the intelligence capabilities by $7.5 billion, and this is after the first World Trade Center bombing.

WOODRUFF: Right. Well, Jennifer Millerwise makes a point, Michael Meehan, and it's one that we heard from the president himself today; 19 years in the Senate, according to the president, not a very distinguished career and the fact is he barely mentioned his Senate career last night.

MICHAEL MEEHAN, KERRY CAMPAIGN SR. ADVISER: Well, John Kerry has a record to run on, not run from. And I think last night what you saw was a man who stood before America and said, I'm ready for duty, and showed that he's ready to be the commander-in-chief.

He has got a lifetime of experience to put him in this place: a combat veteran, a prosecutor, 20 years on the foreign relations committee brings a kind of experience to the White House to do the job on day one. And we're absolutely running on John Kerry's record. Let's be clear about that.

The Bush record today we learned they have record deficits. And somehow they want to lead us to believe that that's getting us on the right track. That's not the kind of turn this country wants to take. This country wants to get on the right track. And John Kerry and John Edwards have that plan to put us back on the right track.

WOODRUFF: And it's not only the deficits. There was a little bit bad news, Jennifer Millerwise, some economic numbers coming out today talking about an economic slowdown in the second quarter of this year. Does that make it any harder for the president to make the case that the economy is on the upswing?

MILLERWISE: The economy is on the upswing. If you look at the past, we've had 1.5 million new jobs that have been created since last summer. We're seeing the strongest growth that we've experienced in 20 years. This president has a plan to cut the deficit in half in the next five years and we're on track to do that.

Now John Kerry, on the other hand, has already proposed, and he's just getting warmed up, $2 trillion in new government spending, and I think we all know how he's going to pay for it. He's going to go back to his record in the Senate, raising higher taxes on the American people and that's who's going to be paying for it. And that's the wrong remedy, when we're in the middle of an economic recovery.

WOODRUFF: Michael Meehan, what about that, you know, that John Kerry is going to raise taxes, $2 trillion in spending. What do you say?

MEEHAN: Sure. Today the president said he wants to talk about results. We're happy to talk about results. This administration, they have lost 1.8 million private sector jobs and try to claim that when jobs come back that are $9000 less in average than the jobs that were here before, that that's the kind of track that we want to be on. John Edwards and John Kerry think we can do better. They believe in America. They have a message of hope that we can actually get the economy on track.

Health care costs have gone up 49 percent in the Bush years. The middle class continues to be squeezed. These are the kind of results that we want to change. We want to turn this around so families can afford their health insurance so when they're sitting at home at their kitchen table trying to make ends meet. And that's the kind of plan you're going to hear in our "Believe in America" tour for the next two weeks.

WOODRUFF: Very quickly Jennifer Millerwise, one of the other main things of course out of this convention was all about how John Kerry is going to be a strong commander-in-chief. He started out his speech last night, saying, "I'm John Kerry, reporting for duty." Is this in any way cutting into the Republican argument that he is not qualified to lead this country at a time when the war on terror is on everyone's mind?

MILLERWISE: Well, the war on terror is on everyone's mind. And I -- it didn't seem to be on John Kerry's mind last night because he spent so little time talking about it. I think the American people in reading the newspapers across this country were surprised and not certain why he didn't spend more time laying out what his plans are.

This is someone, after all, who had a great opportunity to explain to the American people why he voted to send our troops into Iraq, and then was one of four senators, John Edwards being two -- making it two of four senators, to vote against critical funding for like body armor to protect our troops who are in the field. So I think he had a great opportunity last night to try to explain what his vision is, and he didn't use that opportunity.

WOODRUFF: What about that, Michael Meehan?

MEEHAN: Well, I think during our convention you saw a dozen retired generals and admirals. That's an unprecedented amount of military support for a Democratic candidate, never mind a Republican candidate. John Kerry was introduced by veterans, men that he served with in Vietnam. He has the kind of calm under fire that he showed during his time in the Navy four years, two tours of duty in Vietnam to be the kind of commander-in-chief.

And knows firsthand what it's like for those 140,000 men and women over in Iraq to make sure that they have not only the support of the nation but the tools they need to do the job. And he would never turn his back on this military that has been stretched too thin. That's why he has called for 40,000 new troops in the Army across the board to make sure that our troops have what they need to do the job that they're asked to do.

WOODRUFF: Very quick last question to you, Jennifer Millerwise. (AUDIO GAP) this month, we have between now and the Republican Convention, do you feel you've got the wind at your back or is this a time when you're feeling John Kerry breathing down the president's back. What are you feeling? MILLERWISE: Well, I think this is going to be a great month for the president. We're going to have our convention coming up at the end of the month. And as long as I have -- you know, I just heard -- Meehan just said John Kerry wants to make sure that we have the right protections, the right equipment, and make sure that our troops have what they need, well, his record shows he doesn't provide it when it comes down to it.

And so as long as those are the things that we need to keep talking about, this president's strong record when it comes to making sure our troops have what they need when they're in the battlefield. And John Kerry who, when it came down to it, voted against it.

WOODRUFF: Very short.

MEEHAN: Yes, men and women, their families have to send their troops over with body armor that they actually had to go buy it. This military -- this Pentagon, they didn't plan to win the peace when they went to Iraq. We do have a big problem with the way Bush folks to them to war. Our men and women don't need to be told or an act of Congress to make it happen. They should have that equipment right away.

WOODRUFF: Michael Meehan with the Kerry-Edwards campaign, Jennifer Millerwise, with the Bush-Cheney campaign, great to see both of you. We appreciate your joining us. Thank you very much.

WOODRUFF: In just a moment, I'll be joined by two of the hosts of CNN's "CROSSFIRE." They've been arguing all week. Now that it's Friday, is there anything about the convention that they can agree on? We'll find out.

Plus, so many Democrats and only one "Political Play of the Week." Stay tuned and see how Bill Schneider figures this one out.


WOODRUFF: The Democratic ticket left the city this morning, and the Democratic delegates are heading for the airport, the ones who haven't already gotten there. But two of the hosts of CNN's "CROSSFIRE" are still in Boston, lucky for us. And joining me now, Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson.

All right. I'm just going to ask you, what did they get right this week and what did they get wrong, Tucker?

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Well, they got a lot right cosmetically. I mean, the Democrats came here with a single mission, and that was to convince Americans that they're tough enough to lead the country in war, and as a sort of ancillary mission, that they're not scary, that they're not a collection of lunatic interest groups that don't share your values.

And according to the show they put on, I think they did a good job of convincing people of that. I think it was phony in some deep sense because there weren't all that many active Democrats on stage at the Democratic Convention. But I mean, as a show of propaganda, I thought it was, yes, very effective.

WOODRUFF: Well, if he thinks that then you couldn't disagree, right?

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": No, my test is, the party that usually wins in the presidential election is the party that's more unified and more mainstream. And those are two different goals. You can be very unified on the left wing extreme in my party, and we have been in the past. But under John Kerry we're not only unified, but the Democrats are in the mainstream.

Now the Republicans, President Bush is following a different strategy. He's still, 100 days from the election, trying to solidify his very conservative base, raising issues like gay marriage as he did today in Springfield, Missouri. That's an interesting strategy. I think it's failed one. I think by now the president should already have his right wing base solidified. And he, too, should be competing for the center. But he's not. It's sort of an inside-out strategy. It's going to be interesting to see if it works.

CARLSON: Well, I think that's an interesting -- I mean, that's not a stupid point. And Bush is trying...


CARLSON: No, no, no, no, no, as an analytical point actually, there is something to that. Bush is trying to maintain his support on the right and a lot of people on the right are dissatisfied with him. But what is, as I said, phony about this convention is that it is not a reflection of what you've been hearing Democrats say for the past six months. I've listened carefully.

Michael Moore, for instance, I can give you many examples, is embraced by mainstream Democratic leaders. Michael Moore is not mainstream. He's a hater by any definition. And so if Michael Moore had gotten up and given a speech at this convention, and I wish he had, that would have been a reflection of where the party is.

BEGALA: No. This was the party. This was Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Jimmy Carter, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, John Kerry. This is the Democratic Party. Barack Obama is a rising new star and I think it's good to showcase him. But this is the real Democratic Party.

Now contrast that with the Republicans. George Pataki, a nice man, but not exactly the leader of the national Republican Party.

CARLSON: And liberal.

BEGALA: Rudy Giuliani, even more liberal, probably, than I am on most issues.


BEGALA: And not an elected Republican in any capacity.

CARLSON: I agree.

BEGALA: I'm not entirely sure what the Republicans are trying to put out there. It's not the real face of the Republican Party...

CARLSON: I couldn't agree more. I absolutely couldn't agree more. And...

BEGALA: But the Democrats did put their real leaders up there for the country to see.

CARLSON: And I will be honest enough to complain about it when we go to New York, if in fact it turns out to be another propaganda show, as these things usually are. However, you're skipping over an essential truth which is a lot of important, vital -- very vital, which is to say active and effervescent activist groups like gay activists, like environmental activists, like abortion activists, were not allowed to speak. I ran into a gay activist yesterday in the convention hall, a good guy. I said, why aren't you speaking? You've spoken at these things before. He said, they won't let me. And that's just true.

WOODRUFF: Is Bush's job any harder as a result of this convention?

BEGALA: Yes, his strategy has been to say, look America, I know you may think the country is on the wrong track, but Senator Kerry is an unacceptable alternative. You really have no choice. It's a time of war and I'm strong and he's weak. This is what Jimmy Carter tried to do with Ronald Reagan. He said -- he did the opposite, he said, he's so very strong, he'll blow up the world. He can't be trusted on national security.

All Ronald Reagan had to do was introduce himself as the genial, amiable guy he was. And John Kerry is not weak. You can say he changes positions on issues. I think he dealt with that last night. That's a fair criticism. He's not weak. He's a remarkably strong guy and he showed that last night. And so I think the cartoon that the Republicans have been trying to draw really fell apart last night.

CARLSON: Wait a second. I mean, look, his honorable service in Vietnam is great. But that was lo these many years ago. In the interim he spent almost 20 years in the United States Senate, we didn't hear word one about that last night. And much more to the point, we didn't hear anything about his plans for Iraq. And that is in the end the only issue that matters. And if you can't address that head-on and tell voters what you're going to do with 140,000 American troops, do you really deserve to be president? I don't think so.

If you think this was a good discussion, just stay tuned, because at the half hour you are going to hear from these gentlemen for the full flower of "CROSSFIRE."

BEGALA: Thank you, Judy.

CARLSON: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thank you very much, Tucker, Paul, we appreciate it.

Well, the party is over and most of the contenders have already left town. Up next, our Bill Schneider answers the question did anyone on the convention stage deserve the "Political Play of the Week"?


WOODRUFF: The Democrats have the stage to themselves this week, so were there any award-winning performances? With me now our senior political analyst Bill Schneider -- Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you had a unified party, a harmonious convention, a powerful message. What more do you want? How about a little poetry? That would really make it the "Political Play of the Week."


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): George W. Bush promised to be a uniter not a divider. That didn't quite work out. The message of this convention was, John Kerry will deliver what Bush didn't.

KERRY: Let's build unity in the American family, not angry division.

SCHNEIDER: Speaker after speaker delivered that message, but only one speaker delivered it with poetry.

BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS SENATE CANDIDATE: A belief that we're all connected as one people. If there is a child on the South Side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me even if it's not my child.

SCHNEIDER: Barack Obama, who's running for Senate this year in Illinois, is the very image of national unity, the whole multicultural tradition.

OBAMA: My father was a foreign student, born and raised in a small village in Kenya. He grew up herding goats.

SCHNEIDER: Obama's speech stirred the convention.

OBAMA: There is not a liberal America and a conservative America. There is the United States of America.

SCHNEIDER: It was a speech worthy of the master.

JESSE JACKSON, : In '84 I was speaking in San Francisco, in '04, you see an evolution as Barack Obama, and there's Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., and Harold Ford, and Mayor Kilpatrick. You see a growth.

SCHNEIDER: Obama's speech skillfully hit all the political bases, African-Americans, immigrants, John Kerry, John Edwards and himself.

OBAMA: It's the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs, the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores, the hope of a young Naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta, the hope of a millworker's son who dares to defy the odds, the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too.

SCHNEIDER: We have a place for him, too, the "Political Play of the Week."


SCHNEIDER: A lot of people think Barack Obama's self-described funny name helps him politically, it means he's hard to stereotype. People think he's an immigrant even though he was born in Hawaii. You know, one day he could run for president. And in fact, Teresa Heinz Kerry said just today, one day she thinks he will be president.

WOODRUFF: Hmm, very interesting. We're looking way into the crystal ball.

SCHNEIDER: Way into the future.

WOODRUFF: Bill Schneider, thanks very much.

WOODRUFF: Well, we have had a wonderful time at this Democratic Convention, and in the city of Boston, just as we expect to have a wonderful time at the Republican Convention in New York City a month from now.

But that's INSIDE POLITICS for today. I'm Judy Woodruff. I'm going to be back in Washington on Monday at our regular time, 3:30 Eastern. Until then, have a good weekend. Right now, turning it over to "CROSSFIRE."


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