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'On the Floor'; Interview with Martina Navratilova

Aired August 30, 2004 - 09:31   ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everyone. We are live on the floor of Madison Square Garden. The -- how are we doing? That's OK.
It's getting crowded down here. Delegates now gathering by the hundreds, actually, because we're only 30 minutes away from the official opening, the gavel to order here, the Republican National convention.

And wouldn't you know who gets preferential seating again. We saw it in Boston, we see it yet again here. The state of Florida is front and center, right in front of the main stage.

In a couple of moments here, we'll talk to some of our reporters. It's a segment we did in Boston with the Democratic Convention; it's called "On the Floor." What do the delegates wanted to hear out of the next four days. We'll get to that topic.

Also the man, the firefighter, now retired Bob Beckwith. The image on Ground Zero, on September 14th, forever remembered now, and that day, and that part of American history.

We'll talk with Bob coming up here in a few moments.

Also Heidi Collins outside of our Time-Life studios.

Good morning, Heidi.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, good morning.

Guess who else we're going to talk to this hour. We're going to talk with Martina Navratilova, getting ready for the U.S. Open today. So we'll have that in just a few minutes.

But first we want to check on the stories now in the news this morning. President Bush won't arrive in New York until later this week. In fact, in an hour and a half, he'll head to New Hampshire, a state which usually goes Democrat in presidential voting, but supported George Bush in 2000.

And John Kerry is laying low while the Republicans party. He's vacationing today on Nantucket Island in Massachusetts.

What's left of Tropical Storm Gaston is still bringing rain to the northeast. The storm hit South Carolina yesterday with near- hurricane force winds, leaving 10 inches of rain in some areas; 80,000 people are still without power today. This morning, John Allen Muhammad's attorneys will argue that he shouldn't stand trial again for his role in the October 2002-D.C. area sniper shootings. In about an hour, Muhammad faces a capital murder trial in Virginia for the death of FBI analyst Linda Franklin. He's already received a death sentence for another killing during the shooting spree.

And pass the cream and cheese. The Guinness Committee of World Records is trying to determine if this is the biggest bagel the world. It weighs about 868 pounds, measures 6 feet in diameter. The Guinness people should have a determination in about eight weeks. Eight weeks? Why does it take that long to decide whether or not the bagel is so big? I have no idea.

Bill, back to you.

HEMMER: You know, they could take that thing over to the diner, Heidi, and Jack and Andy could chew on that thing for a while.

COLLINS: Chop it up, pass it around. You got it.

HEMMER: Thanks. The convention begins in 30 minutes, we mentioned that.

Let's bring in our reporters right now, a segment we call "On the Floor." We started in Boston. We continue now in New York City.

Say hello and good morning to Kelly Wallace.

Good morning again to you.


HEMMER: Ron Brownstein, analyst, "L.A. Times" as well.

RON BROWNSTEIN, "L.A. TIMES": Bill, good morning.

HEMMER: And Dana Bash. How are you, Dana?


HEMMER: Good morning to you.

HEMMER: Let's start, Dana, on the far end with you. What are the expectations that you're hearing from delegates. What do they want out of the next four days?

BASH: Well, they want to hear the president give them essentially a speech that will make them feel good about what they really need to do when they leave here, which is to go home, to knock on doors, to tell their friends who are knocking on doors, to get other people to knock on doors. It's really getting out the vote, getting them energized.

And what the bush campaign thinks that they wanted the president -- what they want him to actually get across is a sense of optimism and a style that they think John Kerry doesn't have, which is a talk from the gut kind of style that they think really will resonate here in the hall, and also out there with the American people.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, yes, it's a very different challenge for the president and John Kerry. John Kerry was introducing himself to the American public, in many senses. George Bush has been living in their living rooms for four years through tumultuous times. And he's got to reassure them about his leadership. I think there's a lot more optimism here than there was a few weeks ago, as President Bush has moved ahead in the polls, but he seems to have largely because doubts have grown about John Kerry, rather than doubts being resolved about himself.

HEMMER: And don't question the fact that it's live TV, because we -- we're having some audio difficulties here in Madison Square Garden.

Kelly, go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm turning off my battery.

WALLACE: The Republicans are going in here cautiously optimistic. I just talked to a Bush/Cheney campaign official moments ago. You know, Dana, they always want to sort of lower the expectations.

BASH: Absolutely.

WALLACE: They say, oh, we thought we were going to come in here a few points behind. Now they feel like they're a few points ahead. They're looking at that number, approval rating of the president. It's just around 50 percent. They keep saying no incumbent in history has ever lost re-election with an approval higher than 50 percent.

HEMMER: What about the speakers, though? What are you hearing about Rudy Giuliani, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and these delegates who come from a different place in many ways from the main speakers that will be featured this week.

BASH: Most of the delegates I've talked to, even the more socially conservative delegates, who perhaps might disagree with Rudy Giuliani, Around Schwarzenegger, say, you know, the bottom line is, they're the most famous, they're the most popular Republicans that we have. Why not get them out there? Why not hear from them?

John McCain, he's not a moderate; he's a maverick. He's very conservative, but he is somebody the Bush campaign thinks really appeals to independents, because he does disagree with the president, so they feel like if he disagrees with the president and he'll support him, then maybe others will, too.

BROWNSTEIN: Rudy Giuliani and John McCain are not only moderates, they're strong leaders. That's what their image is with the public, and I think they are here above all to testify to President Bush as a strong leader, which the campaign believes is an asset that transcends the policies, the proposals, the image of Bush as someone who is strong, decisive and resolute is where they feel they have a major advantage in this race. And I think mostly McCain an Giuliani are here to testify to that.

HEMMER: I think you're OK, actually.

WALLACE: (INAUDIBLE) since we're all political junkies is looking ahead to 2008. A lot of questions about Rudy Giuliani, and even John McCain, putting aside differences, positioning himself for four years from now.

HEMMER: Day one. We'll get it worked out, won't we?

WALLACE: Absolutely.

HEMMER: Thanks Dana.

Thanks, Ron.

Thanks, Kelly.

In the days after 9/11, one of the men who became an unexpected hero is a gentleman by the name of Bob Beckwith, the very humble retired firefighter, now age 71, his place forever locked now in America's memory.



HEMMER (voice-over): It was one of the moments that may have defined his presidency, George Bush, bullhorn in hand, speaking to rescue workers and the world.

Standing next to him that afternoon amid the steam and twisted steel, retired firefighter Bob Beckwith.

HEMMER (on camera): When you were standing there, the president to your right, who did you see out there at Ground Zero?

BOB BECKWITH, RETIRED FIREFIGHTER: I believed at the time that we had people that we had to get to, and I believed that they were under the ground, that they had an air pocket or something. I really believed this. We had to get down there.

HEMMER (voice-over): For Beckwith, father of six, grandfather of 10, and nearly 30 years of service, those few days had been a bad dream. He had gone to ground zero on September 14th, talking his way past police and the National Guard to help out. He ended up a part of history.

BUSH: I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people...


BUSH: ... and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!


HEMMER (on camera): When we think about the image we've seen it on the cover of "Time" magazine, have you ever stopped to think about how you are now a part of American history?

BECKWITH: I would trade all of that to have gotten a couple of the guys out. It didn't happen. I mean, but we did give it our best.

HEMMER (voice-over): Months later, Bob and his wife, Barbara, were in the Oval Office. The bullhorn was a gift for the presidential library.

(on camera): Do you remember what the president said to you that day? He said, you made me famous that day.

BUSH: And Bob was standing there by my side. I told Bob when he came in, you made me famous that day.

BECKWITH: I thought he was, you know, kidding around, that I made him -- he's the president of the United States; I'm a fireman. I made him famous?

HEMMER: What do you want people to know about you?

BECKWITH: There's nothing to know about me. I'm just Bob Beckwith, that's all, retired firefighter; that's all I am. You wonder sometimes, you're in the right place at the right time, and that's all it was. Why it happened to be why I was chosen, I don't know.

HEMMER (voice-over): But we do know Beckwith answered the call to duty one more time, at the most important time.


HEMMER: Bob Beckwith continues to give back to the community he served for so many years, regularly volunteering in New York Presbyterian Hospital's burn center, something that considers very close and very dear to him. It's possible he'll have a role in this convention, but at last check with him last week, he wasn't giving up much. So we'll stay tuned for on that, if there is movement.

Back to Heidi now outside -- Heidi.


COLLINS: Still to come this morning, the Republican National Convention isn't the only big event in town this week. The world's best tennis players invade the Big Apple for the U.S. open. We are going to talk to a living legend, this woman right here, Martina Navratilova. That's coming your way on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COLLINS: Here's a little bit of video for you, Yankees Stadium. As you know, there's a whole lot going on this week. We've got several sporting events. Here's we're going to see a game. The Yankees are hosting the Indians tomorrow. We'll see how they do. We are also aware of a Mets game. And, oh yes, the U.S. Open. So of course politics is not the only game in town this week. Tennis takes center court, in fact, today in Queens, as the U.S. Open gets under way.

Martina Navratilova has played some of her very best tennis on the grand slam stage. The 47-year-old is a legend in her own time. She's competing in women's doubles, and mixed doubles in this, her 27th U.S. Open.

Martina Navratilova is joining us...

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA, WON 13 U.S. OPEN TITLES: I'm glad you put those numbers together for me; I didn't know, 27th Open.

COLLINS: You haven't kept track?


COLLINS: Well, let me give you some more numbers, 173 doubles titles, 167 singles titles, more than any other tennis player in history. How does it feel now? You've played at the Olympics. Which one is the actual pinnacle of your entire career?

NAVRATILOVA: I think the whole body of work, really. You can't say this match or that tournament. I think it's the whole body of work I'm proud of the most. But most of all, I think it's about the joy of the game, you know. And that sometimes gets lost in the world of professional sports. Money gets too much into the mix. And for me, it's just really the pleasure of hitting the ball exactly the way I want to hit, hopefully, most of the time.

COLLINS: Well, how do you keep the joy? I mean, it's a lot of hard work, obviously.

NAVRATILOVA: Well, I think it's a combination of everything, obviously, good genes, some talent, but a lot of hard work.

COLLINS: Some talent, maybe?

NAVRATILOVA: Some talent. But a lot of hard work. And eating right. I travel a lot. Juice -- I use my own juice man that I travel with. Actually your skin gets better as well. I didn't juice up when I was traveling too much, and in the last couple of weeks I started juicing like crazy again, and my skin got better. It's amazing. So for women that really care about that, that's another byproduct.

But really, you can only do as well as what you put into your body. You can't ask your body to perform and then not put good things into it. So it's what you eat, what you drink. And of course, getting enough rest and all that. COLLINS: Obviously, great points to make there if you're going to be out on the tennis court. Now listen, you are ninth, ranked ninth, in the world of doubles tennis. You will play in this tournament, both mixed doubles and regular doubles. Going into this, what are you thinking about? I mean, you've been here so many times before, how do you say, oh, another tennis match.

NAVRATILOVA: I don't have that I don't have that many left, so I appreciate every single one. But I always did. You know, I always played with sort of zest and just passion for the game. But now I know my time is running out. And it's really a bonus that I'm still here, let's put it that way. I wasn't planning on being here at this age.

But I enjoy it so much, I figured, why not. And going into the open, I just want to do well. It's nice to be playing in the United States, and I have two great partners. So we're just trying to figure out how to make ourselves a better team. So Lisa Raymond and I played last week in New Haven, lost 7-6 in the third, in the finals, so had a good tournament. And Meander Pace (ph) and I have done really well in the slams the last two years. So hopefully we'll have a good Open.

COLLINS: You have been criticized, though, this time around for taking the place of a younger player on the tour, saying, oh, you know, she's been doing this so long, let somebody else who is up and coming come and take her spot.

NAVRATILOVA: Well, it's not taking a spot really. I mean, they give wild cards and -- to players that either have been injured, or up and coming or that are older. So I didn't get a wild card when I was 16 years old when I played the French Open. I had to earn my way. And you probably don't even know the player that I took their place. And besides that, I think I probably would kick her ass anyway. So I'll be happy to take her on, but you know...

COLLINS: That's a challenge.

NAVRATILOVA: But if anybody, I think, should be able to get those spots, if Chris Everett were playing, or John McEnroe's playing, Jimmy Connor, who's given so much to the game.

And besides that, I won the first round anyway. So you know, I could have done better. But I think, you know...

COLLINS: We wish you the best of luck coming up here.


COLLINS: I know you're on your way to Flushing Meadows right now. So thanks so much.


COLLINS: On day one of the U.S. Open.

Martina Navratilova, thanks so much. NAVRATILOVA: Thank you.

COLLINS: And still to come this morning, we're going to go back to the CNN Diner, where they're serving up flapjacks now. Andy Serwer is serving up business news. The Republicans big party at Madison Square certainly doesn't come cheap, though. We're going to crunch some numbers for you, coming up on AMERICAN MORNING.


HEMMER: There it is, 8th Avenue and 34th Street, the CNN Diner. We've taken that place over, Jack Cafferty, Andy Serwer hanging out. To there in a moment. We've made our way to Texas. The cowboy hats are out here, just a few short minutes away from the opening gavel.

Look who I found here, Larry Gatlin is going to do the honors.

I'm doing fine.

HEMMER: What is your role today?

LARRY GATLIN, SINGER (singing): Oh, say can you see.

HEMMER: What time does that happen?

GATLIN: Right now they told me to get away from you and go down...

HEMMER: Got it. Enjoy it. Thank you.

GATLIN: Great to see you. Enjoy. Bye y'all.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: To Jack now at diner -- hey, Jack.

CAFFERTY: Thanks, Bill. Larry Gatlin, the Gatlin Brothers. I'm here with Andy Serwer, "Minding Your Business." The markets are open. It's expected to be a quiet week, isn't it?

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Shhh. Not a lot going on on Wall Street this morning, Jack. Stocks are trading lower.

Let's go to the Big Board and take a peek, and Dow down about, what, about seven points. Not too bad. One stock trading a little bit lower is Tyson Foods, down about $1.73, to $16. They say higher chicken and beef, especially beef costs, are hurting their business.

The Republicans, by the way, Jack, have spent millions and millions of dollars refurbishing Madison Square Garden. Let's take a look at exactly how much they've spent on various parts. The podium, just the podium alone that the president will speak from, will cost $2.5 million, did cost, the set design, you can see, $9.7. TV production, $5.5 million. And then there's those welcome -- were you invited to any welcome parties?

CAFFERTY: Actually I was.

SERWER: You was?

CAFFERTY: To several of them, yes.

SERWER: But you was not going?

CAFFERTY: Well, they have them in the evening, and I have to get up so early. And I'm not much of a party person. That may come as a big shock to you, but...

SERWER: That does come as a big shock. The Republican Convention cost $7 million in Detroit in 1980, in total.

CAFFERTY: They're going to spend how much total here?

SERWER: Tens of millions.

CAFFERTY: And also talked about the CNN diner, this was the old Tick Tock Diner, which our folks came in and actually converted it over.

SERWER: Yes, let's check it out. We have a little film that shows that conversion.

CAFFERTY: Home movies.

SERWER: That's speeded up, by the way.


SERWER: Yes. You can see it took days, weeks.

CAFFERTY: This is pretty fast.

SERWER: No, again, Jack, that's speeded up. They speeded that up.

CAFFERTY: I see. Thank you, Andy, for guiding me through this.

SERWER: You're welcome.

CAFFERTY: All right, the e-mail question of the day is this, how can Republicans win the undecided votes. A small number of people may in fact determine the outcome of this election. We've gotten a lot of responses.

Alan in Waco, Texas writes, "I'm undecided how they can do that. How about getting Halliburton to promise jobs to everybody who lost their jobs during this administration?" Of course the jobs will be overseas. We don't have to tell them that.

Carol, in Venton (ph), Arkansas: "Close up the borders and stop illegal immigration. Make this a strong point, and California and Florida will be yours. Make English the national language, you'll be followed to the end of the Earth by millions of people who are tired of paying for the education of immigrants' children when immigrants have no desire to assimilate into our society." And Richard in Seattle writes, "The best way Republicans can win the votes of the undecideds is to promise to bring the troops as soon as possible, explain in detail their plan for full employment in America, guaranteed health care for Americans and secure retirement options for each and every American citizen."

SERWER: That's a tall order.

CAFFERTY: That is a tall order. None of that stuff will happen, but everybody will promise that it will.

Here comes breakfast.

SERWER: Thank you.

Hey, Mary. All right.

Boy, that looks substantial.

CAFFERTY: Yes, it does.

SERWER: Jack, do you want to share, for The both of us?

CAFFERTY: I ate earlier. I actually had some blueberry pancakes that were pretty good.

SERWER: These look pretty good.

Flapjacks, look at this.

CAFFERTY: Very nice.

SERWER: What do you think, guys? Anybody else want any?

CAFFERTY: All right, let's go back to Bill, see if there are any more country singers wandering around the floor of the Garden.

HEMMER: Hey, thanks, Jack.

Thanks, Andy.

The most popular guy down here is Wade Webster. Say hello to this delegate out of the state of Texas, city of Houston. Everybody wants their picture with you, Wade. Where did you come up with this idea?

WADE WEBSTER, TEXAS DELEGATE: I had it for some years. I use it to get people out to vote, that sort of thing, on Election Day, for early voting, and to get them into the Republican headquarters, one thing and another.

HEMMER: Listen, enjoy, OK? You're the best-dressed man down here on the floor.

WEBSTER: That's what they tell me. Thank you. HEMMER: All right, a couple of minutes away from the gavel to order here. Fredricka Whitfield has that next hour on CNN. A break here. Back in a moment, live on the floor of Madison Square Garden.



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