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CNN ELECTION CENTER

The Republican National Convention: Day Two

Aired September 2, 2008 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN, "SITUATION ROOM" ANCHOR: Anybody who knows Joe Lieberman knows he was speaking from the heart. He greatly admires and appreciates John McCain. They've spent a great deal of time together. They've traveled around the world.
They've worked in the Senate. And just as John McCain clearly loves Joe Lieberman, Joe Lieberman clearly loves John McCain. That was -- there was no doubt about that right there and then, Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN, "AC360" ANCHOR: And for a race of many firsts, yet again we have another one. You have a Republican crowd actually applauding for Bill Clinton at a Republican convention, spurred on by Joe Lieberman.

BLITZER: He said that had never happened before.

COOPER: I'm curious to hear from Donna Brazile who, of course, ran the Gore/Lieberman campaign.

Donna, how do you assess what Lieberman said? Is that the Joe Lieberman you remember?

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, not at all. He wasn't as feisty eight years ago and clearly I guess we didn't give him enough red meat, especially during that vice-presidential debate.

Look, Joe Lieberman is a man of deep personal convictions. He's sincere, but he's sincerely wrong when it comes to a McCain administration being there to help those in need and those who'd been left behind.

Joe Lieberman called Harry Reid two weeks ago to give him a head's up that he would be speaking at this convention. I thought tonight he would talk about his personal values and views that he shares with John McCain. I had no idea he was going to be a little attack dog. So I'm surprised.

But on the issues he agrees with Barack Obama 95 percent of the time. John McCain 5 percent of the time. And I think that his appeal to Independents and Democrats will not be heard because Democrats sincerely want change. And his speech tonight while it was loaded with red meat, really will not bring about the change that the American people are seeking this year.

BLITZER: He didn't only say that to Harry Reid, Donna, the Senate Majority Leader, he said it publicly. He said he would come to this convention; he would make the case for John McCain. He wouldn't go ahead, though, and tear down Barack Obama. But John King, he did clearly have some swipes there that were very, very pointed.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He directly addressed Barack Obama who said he's an eloquent young man who someday might be a great leader; he essentially said he's not ready for president.

This is a man who was on the Democratic National ticket; millions of Democrats and a good number of independents voted for a ticket that had his name on the second line. And he said Barack Obama is not ready.

And he also said you're going to hear a lot from my fellow Democrats about John McCain, they're going to say he's something other than who he is. A pretty powerful testament and remarkable that on the first real night of the Republican convention, the most pointed case against Barack Obama and the most aggressive defense of John McCain came from a guy who eight years ago was on a Democratic national ticket.

COOPER: David Gergen standing by in New York. What is the message viewers at home take away from this the second night of the Republican convention?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think, Anderson, for the last hour the Republicans are going to be very proud of what they've done, especially the Fred Thompson speech which to me was the best speech of the night; most effective politically, even though it's going to leave some Democrats angry.

But I thought the Joe Lieberman speech was in a very different category. As you know, I've known and respected Joe Lieberman for over 40 years and respect him as a man of conscious. I understood why he wanted to come and give testimony to his good friend John McCain.

What was totally surprising was that he also went after Barack Obama in such a personal way, went after his fellow Democrats and also, you know, essentially went out of his way to support Sarah Palin, whom he does not know.

For those two I think for many Democrats will go way over the line, those two aspects of the speech. In fact, I'll have to tell you, I think there are a lot of Democrats tonight who are extremely annoyed -- extremely annoyed with him for that speech. I think it may work with some Independents and some Democrats, not many.

BLITZER: It will be interesting to see how this plays if in fact John McCain loses and Barack Obama is elected and the Democrats maintain their majority in the Senate, will Joe Lieberman still be the chairman of a powerful Homeland Security Committee or will the Democrats dump him in the next Senate. That's very much up in the air.

The only name I didn't hear Joe Lieberman mention was Joe Biden, his colleague, the vice-presidential nominee on the Democratic side, his long-time friend from the state of Delaware, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. We have a lot more to digest. We're only just beginning. Gloria Borger is here. Alex Castellanos; we got team at the CNN Election Center who are itching to get into this conversation.

As I say, we're only just beginning.

If you have a laptop, this is a good time to log into cnnpolitics.com. You can get much more information there as well while you're watching us here on CNN.

Our coverage of this day two of the Republican National Convention will continue right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Before we continue to digest what we've just heard outside this Xcel Energy Center, here in St. Paul, Minnesota, there's been some activity and not very nice activity.

Joe Johns is on the scene. Joe, you were right in the middle of it. We've got video of what happened. There were protestors, we take it about 1,000. And pick up the story of what happened as we roll some of this videotape.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the short version is really that a crowd marched near the perimeter where the convention was going on. Police put on their gas masks; they already had the riot gear on. And one officer started reading an announcement to the crowd, telling them to disperse.

We later learned from police that they were very concerned because a subset of that group that had marched toward the perimeter actually had suggested to the police they were going to go through the fence.

They felt it was necessary to make this release of what we think was a combination of smoke, perhaps concussion grenades and probably some type of a chemical agent that makes your eyes water and makes you cough. I can't say for sure that it was tear gas, but I know that I breathed some of it and it made it very difficult to breathe or see.

You see sort of the bedlam there. But the bottom line on it is that the crowd did eventually disperse. Authorities told me that no one was arrested in the crowd. It's not clear to me that anyone was injured otherwise.

So that's basically what happened. There are very powerful pictures but we're told no one was arrested and roughly the end of the story this evening, no one went over the fence. And there's still helicopters in the air but I can't tell you that there's any other unrest as it were in the city right now.

Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: Joe, you're okay and our camera crew, everybody is okay. Because you said you could clearly start breathing some of that, whatever that gas was?

JOHNS: Yes, exactly. I breathed some it. The camera crew certainly did. And it made your eyes burn and it made you cough. But it cleared pretty quick.

It didn't feel like the regular ordinary tear gas that gets let out in a real riot in say Washington, D.C., which I've actually sucked in and wasn't able to walk. It was not that strong.

BLITZER: All right. Let's hope it stays quiet out there.

Joe thanks very much.

Let's take another quick break. We'll continue our coverage.

We have much to assess, much to try to digest from this night, this second night of the Republican convention. Our coverage will continue right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to the convention where there have been some fireworks here on this the second night of the Republican convention.

Anderson Cooper is here, Campbell Brown is rejoining us.

COOPER: Fireworks both inside and outside.

BLITZER: There was definitely some fire --

COOPER: We should point out the video you saw outside, you had no sense of it when you are inside here.

BLITZER: We didn't have a clue, totally. And just to point to our viewers, this whole area around this convention center, as it was in Denver, is hermetically sealed off; the Secret Service, state, local police. You can't get anywhere near there.

If you want to demonstrate, there's an area far beyond the perimeter where we saw that tear gas or whatever kind of gas it was where that was used. But it's nowhere inside this perimeter, which is very, very secure for obvious reasons.

COOPER: We've got our whole team assembled. Let's sort of just go around. Campbell, what surprised you most about some of the speeches, particularly from Lieberman tonight?

CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, I know I heard you all talking about this earlier, but I think I was surprised by the political nature, the extent to which we got a lot of red meat from all of the speakers, frankly.

But particularly Laura Bush and President Bush to be giving what I felt was pretty overtly political remarks from that setting standing in the White House; I thought was surprising. I'm still trying to get my arms around what they were hoping to accomplish and whether there was a real message to come of this.

Is it the experience of John McCain that conveying to people that be it through the biography that was told so well, I thought, by Fred Thompson, combined with, you know, the issues of experience, his ability to reach across party lines conveyed by Lieberman.

Does all of that convey to people that this is the man you want in the foxhole with you, there's so much at stake in this election. you can't take any risks and ultimately what we find is this conversation continues that he undermines that argument by his choice of vice president.

COOPER: Candy Crowley I know is standing by. Candy, you have covered a lot of Joe Lieberman over the years. Was this a different Joe Lieberman you have heard or that we traditionally hear? Were you surprised how personal he got against Barack Obama?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, the reason it was surprising was because he was standing here. Eight years ago we were covering him at the Democratic convention. So I just think it was startling, the venue.

What really surprised me most was his praise of Palin. I mean, this is a woman I'm not sure he knows but more than that, this is a woman with whom he disagrees on nearly every social issue in the political arena, probably every social issue in the political arena.

So it was not just about John McCain, although it was mostly about him. It was the Palin endorsement that I thought was really, really interesting. I mean, he is all in on this ticket. There is no doubt about it.

And I thought there were some swipes at Barack Obama. I actually didn't think he was that tough on Barack Obama. I mean, he said, listen, he really hasn't done anything that bipartisan, and he's a nice young man. And I think he'll be helpful in the future.

I thought compared to Fred Thompson it was pretty mild stuff. On the other hand, Fred Thompson is a Republican. So I just thought, wow, there are so many things that startled us through this election season. And tonight, even though we knew it was going to happen, it was just -- it was so dissonant from what you're used to seeing Joe Lieberman. I keep wondering what caucus he's going to attend when he goes back to the senate.

BLITZER: Candy makes a terrific point, Gloria. On so many of these issues, whether gay rights, abortion rights, gun control, Joe Lieberman is totally opposed to everything that Governor Palin stands for. And for him to come out and make a ringing endorsement of her I'm sure he will be criticized because that will tend to undermine what he was trying to say about his good friend, John McCain.

People will say, if this is what he's saying about Sarah Palin, why should we believe what you're saying about John McCain?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: People who know Joe Lieberman say the overriding factor for him in this election and what's driving his political life right now is the war in Iraq. He and John McCain are fellow soldiers on this.

And I believe, and they have become great friends, and I believe that he has such a personal stake right now in getting John McCain elected that he will do what he has to do.

You can't help but sit here and wonder, however. We joke about whether if John McCain loses what's going to happen to Joe Lieberman. Even if John McCain wins what's going to happen to Joe Lieberman if he were to remain in the senate? Would he get his committee chairmanship; he's a pariah right now in the Democratic Party.

COOPER: If the war in Iraq is his number one issue, Governor Palin, when she was asked about the war, the surge in 2006, the quote I've seen said she really hasn't given it much thought.

BORGER: That's right. And what you're seeing there is somebody march-in-lock step with John McCain because this was John McCain's choice; and knowing full well by the way that he was right up there at the top of the list. And that he might have been John McCain's personal favorite.

KING: He would not have been well received at the Republican vice-presidential nominee as he was his giving his testimonial to John McCain. But it's interesting the conversation we're having because some will question the authenticity of Joe Lieberman's endorsement of Sarah Palin.

And yet, Campbell asked, what is the point here tonight? What the Republicans tried to do tonight is start a narrative from the First Lady through Joe Lieberman of, you may not agree with these people on everything, whether it's John McCain or Sarah Palin, but they're the real deal, they're authentic.

In a year where voters keep saying we don't want traditional politicians, what the McCain is hoping is that they will project the message that these are two people who stand up even if it's to their own party, even if it's to their friends. They will fight for what they believe in. You may disagree with them sometimes, but that's what you want in Washington. SOBs who will go in and change the town.

That's the narrative they're trying to create.

COOPER: Alex Castellanos, to Bill Bennett's point from earlier in the evening, they were talking about she didn't even have a passport; 27 percent of Americans, only about 27 percent of Americans actual have passports. So there is a cultural difference and we see them sort of trying to sort push off Obama and Biden as this East Coast, you know, liberal intellectual, you know, the McCain and Palin, you know, sons and daughters of the west.

ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think you saw a lot of that tonight. You saw that this is like Coca-Cola. This is the real thing, not the hope of the real thing, which is I think the difference they were trying to draw with the Obama campaign. But you know, Joe Lieberman, I thought I'd remind folks back at home that this is something you never see. You never see the guy who led the football team, you know, you played against in the last Super Bowl switch and play with you. This is a big deal.

I'm going to take exception to what David Gergen says. Maybe this is not just about friendship. Why don't we actually believe what Joe Lieberman said this evening, which is this is important.

This is important for the security of the country. This is a man that our allies can trust and our enemies can fear. And that's -- we all say we want bipartisanship, we want to set our partisan ties aside to get something done.

We saw a man do that tonight as you've just said at great personal and political costs, Joe Lieberman did that; a stunning testimony.

BROWN: But security is that still the question? If that's the point they're still driving home and Republicans have been winning on that issue for I don't know how long, since Reagan, they've been winning on national security as an issue, is it going to be as effective given the economy?

CASTELLANOS: I will tell you why I think it is, and that is because just sometimes in a political campaign, because an issue grows like the economy that's so relevant to you personally, because of the price gasoline, because energy is going through the roof, because people are losing their homes. Just because one issue grows and casts a big shadow, it doesn't mean that the other one is any less important to you.

And we all still fear that something could happen. We still know we live in an uncertain world. A nuclear weapon in a major American city, who do you want in charge? That issue is still there.

BORGER: But we didn't hear it talked about it a lot this evening.

CASTELLANOS: No, but you heard about the strength of a man who has dealt with tough situations throughout his entire career and has the strength of character to do the right thing as opposed to a young man who may be ready to do something in the future.

KING: Fred Thompson did try to frame that with this one line. "It's pretty clear there are two questions we'll never have to ask ourselves," -- meaning about John McCain, "who is this man and can we trust this man with the presidency?" That is the leadership question you're talking about now.

BLITZER: We did hear, Anderson, the president of the United States from the White House say, I haven't heard him say anything about the angry -- what was it, the angry left that he was talking about. That's a pretty pointed comment coming from the President of the United States.

COOPER: From the White House.

BLITZER: From the White House, blasting the angry left.

And we're going to pick up on that point. We have a lot more to go to. Dana Bash is down on the floor; we're going to go to her. She has got some of these Republican delegates.

We're going to hear from all of our panel at the CNN Election Center. They're itching to get into this conversation.

Much more coming up right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Everybody has almost left the Xcel Energy Center here in St. Paul, Minnesota. There are some people still standing by. But this day two of the convention is now history.

Day three and day four we're getting ready for that tomorrow and Thursday. Tomorrow night they will nominate a vice-presidential candidate. Thursday night, John McCain will accept the presidential nomination of the Republican Party.

Dana Bash is on the floor for us right now. Dana, as we're watching all of this unfold; tell our viewers where you are, what's going on where you are.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I've been standing in the Texas delegation, Wolf. This is an important place to be I think tonight because remember, what we saw tonight was George W. Bush address this convention, not from here as these Texas delegates would have liked but from back at the White House.

One thing I wanted to mention is we were talking about Joe Lieberman's speech earlier, about the fact that there was a lot of red meat. Another thing he tried to do was very clear was maybe appeal to Democrats and Independents by trying to cancel out what they heard before. And that was George Bush's speech, making clear you shouldn't believe those who want to link George Bush and John McCain.

Well, there are people here who actually know George Bush and knew him well and have worked for him like Kathy Heigler (ph) from when he was running for governor, right?

KATHY HEIGLER, TEXAS REPUBLICAN DELEGATION: Right, I helped him when he was running for governor in Texas. As did most of us in our delegation here from Texas.

BASH: So, this is the last time as president he will address you as a political convention for you as Republicans. Bittersweet?

HEIGLER: Not really that bitter but it's really very sweet for us because we're so proud of him from Texas. That's what we do in Texas, we're proud.

BASH: And for the people who are all around the country who, you know, are listening to the fact that -- and believe that perhaps there were some problems in this administration, what do you think as somebody who is from his home state?

HEIGLER: Well, you know, we may not agree with every single thing that he did in his entire term, but we're so proud of him because there are so many things he did that were right. He's done so much for the pro-life movement, for the pro-family movement. He's helped with religious freedom. He's just done so much we're proud of.

BASH: Thank you very much, Kathy.

I have to tell you, Wolf, as I toss back to you, I watched all of these people here cheer for Bill Clinton. And I asked how did it feel to cheer for Bill Clinton on the Republican floor, and they said, "It hurt."

Back to you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Joe Lieberman said he didn't think that had ever happened at a Republican convention.

Ed Henry, you're on the floor as well. Where are you?

ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I'm in the Maine delegation with a very important person, moderate Republican Senator, Olympia Snowe. I know you worked a lot with Joe Lieberman. What did you think about him coming to a Republican convention and talking very tough?

OLYMPIA SNOWE, (R) MAINE: Well, I think it certainly is great for John McCain, because to have a colleague across the political aisle, a former Democratic vice-presidential nominee in 2000 election, come here tonight at a Republican convention and speak so passionately.

HENRY: He also offered a very vocal bit of support for Sarah Palin. And she opposes just about everything that you do in terms of social issues, particularly abortion. What do you think about that split there?

SNOWE: Well, I think the fact of the matter is, I think that Joe Lieberman understands that John McCain selected Governor Palin because he thinks that she's going to be an asset to the ticket, reinforcing all the values and vision and the agenda that John McCain has for this country as president of the United States.

In the sense that the positive dimension of her and on the ticket, and I think that's going --

HENRY: But the Democratic line of attack has been that Sarah Palin is just not experienced enough to be vice president. What do you think about that after John McCain spending so much time saying Barack Obama is not qualified?

SNOWE: First of all, there are different levels and different types of experience, frankly. And I think that John McCain has to make a decision about the person he wants to run with and to serve with and who's compatible. As a reformer, she certainly is consistent in what she has done as governor, as a mayor, and all of her positions that's going to be important to him and to this country.

HENRY: Thank you, Senator Snowe.

And Wolf, I also spoke to former senator, very conservative Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. He told me on the way out he really loved Joe Lieberman's speech. And to quote him, he said he thinks a lot of Democrats tonight are squirming -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right Ed, thanks very much. And thank the senator for us as well. We want to get --

COOPER: Squirming or fuming, I'm not sure.

BLITZER: Yes, I think a lot of Democrats are pretty upset about Joe Lieberman but I'm sure he expected that.

COOPER: I'm sure he did.

BLITZER: And he was ready for it.

COOPER: It's not the first time.

BLITZER: He had a tough primary fight in Connecticut when he was seeking re-election. Lost that fight but then he went out to win the race running as an independent.

BORGER: Bill Clinton campaigned for him in that and said some nice things about Bill Clinton tonight.

BLITZER: That was then, this is now.

I have an important note I want to share with our viewers right now. Earlier today Larry King was scheduled to interview Senator McCain and CNN was supposed to be running excerpts in the interview. Right now it's sort of in primetime.

However, a senior McCain campaign adviser tells CNN the interview had been pulled because of a segment CNN ran last night during Campbell Brown's Election Center.

The segment was about Senator McCain's running mate, Governor Sarah Palin and it involved this portion of an interview with McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Can you tell me one decision that she made as commander in chief of the Alaskan National Guard, just one.

TUCKER BOUNDS, MCCAIN SPOKESMAN: Yes. She has made any decisions she has made as the commander of the National Guard that's deployed overseas is more of a decision than Barack Obama has been making as he's been --

BROWN: So tell me -- give me an example of one of those decisions. I'm just curious, just one decision she made in her capacity as commander in chief of the National Guard.

BOUNDS: Certainly you don't mean to belittle every experience, every judgment that she makes as commander of --

BROWN: I'm belittling nothing. I just want to know one judgment or one decision. I would love to know what one decision was. I'm not belittling anything, Tucker, I'm really not. I'm just curious.

BOUNDS: Yes. She makes the decision as to how to equip, how to command the National Guard in Alaska. That's more experience and more of a judgment than Barack Obama's made during the campaign trail. That's my only argument.

BROWN: Tucker, those are the Pentagon's decisions. That's General Petraeus. That's the White House.

No governor makes decisions about how to equip or deploy the National Guard. When they go to Iraq, those decisions as you well know are made by the Pentagon.

BOUNDS: Campbell, on a factual basis, they certainly do. In Alaska, if you have any sort of emergency as things are happening in your state, the National Guard is under the command of the governor. That is more of a command role than Barack Obama has ever had.

I would argue that on our ticket, John McCain and Governor Palin, between the two of them, have far more command experience in the military than either of the candidates on the Democratic side.

And I do want to argue that this is about the top of the ticket. Ultimately when people go into the ballot box and decide between Barack Obama and John McCain, they're going to decide between John McCain's record of reforming Washington and Barack Obama's rhetoric on the campaign trail.

He doesn't have a lot of experience. He certainly has no military experience, no command military experience, which both of our candidates have. That's an important distinction and I think voters will make the right call in November.

BROWN: Tucker, I'm going to give it to you, baby. We'll end it there. I appreciate you coming on and taking the time to have this debate. I think it's important.

People, you know, don't know a lot about her and they want to understand her qualifications as much as possible. We're not beating you up here, we're not trying to. We're just trying to educate ourselves and educate our viewers. So I really do appreciate your time and thank you for coming on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: The McCain campaign said it believed the exchange was over the line. As a result, the interview with Larry King was pulled.

CNN does not believe Campbell's interview was over the line. We are committed to fair coverage of both sides in this election. By the way, you can see the entire interview at CNN.com. We hope senator McCain will join us here on CNN in the near future.

Let's discuss this whole issue, Campbell is here right now. I watched it twice. I thought your questioning was totally appropriate. I had no problem with any of the questions you asked.

Frankly, I was surprised that the McCain campaign reacted; they were so sensitive to that exchange. I've seen a lot worse, obviously, on television.

BROWN: Certainly, I was a little surprised myself, obviously. I don't think it was over the line. That was a shortened version of a much longer exchange. We had been going back and forth over this issue, which was ultimately about her experience.

I think Senator McCain, very legitimately, made experience a huge issue in this campaign; talking about the experience gap between him and Barack Obama, rightly so. It exists.

Which I think, you know, set a different standard. So going into, you know, when they made their VP pick announcement, I think it made it a legitimate issue to say why aren't you applying that same standard to your choice for vice president?

And what that exchange was about was one of the talking points that we had heard repeatedly from the McCain campaign, that her foreign policy experience was part of her time as commander in chief of the Alaskan National Guard.

All I was trying to do was say tell me what that means. What does that mean? Did she make a decision? Did she pass judgment on something? Did she do something?

COOPER: The obvious answer to that is well, yes, she deployed on such and such a date. But there was not that answer.

BROWN: And interestingly, Anderson, I didn't do this research, but a friend of mine, John Dickerson, who contributes for us on occasion and writes for slate.com, did call the Alaskan National guard and in fact, she did deploy the National Guard to wildfires.

COOPER: Interesting though that they didn't know that.

BROWN: Apparently they didn't know about that and they just hadn't done their homework. So it's hard to blame us for them not being aware of this information. They should look into it, because we did and it's clearly there.

COOPER: Which then goes to a larger question which Democrats are raising quite vociferously is was she vetted enough? Did the McCain campaign really do the vetting?

Alex Castellanos, your thoughts?

CASTELLANOS: Well, the campaign is saying of course they vetted this, certainly on the major issues. There's nothing we're talking about, about Palin that the campaign didn't know as far as the troopers and as far as all the other issues we've chatted about.

But there's another way to answer that question. Your guy's job is to pitch, the campaign's job is to hit. That's kind of the way it's supposed to work and you do it with both sides. The other way to answer that question, of course, is that governors don't have foreign policy experience. Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan. It's not what they do. They're tested -- their leadership is tested -- it's tested in another way.

BROWN: So why -- that's what I don't understand. Why didn't they answer it that way? Then it would be within the line of question.

BLITZER: It's very interesting, because John and I covered the '92 Bill Clinton presidential campaign and when he was asked about his foreign policy experience, he would say I'm the commander of the Arkansas National Guard. So he had that kind of military foreign policy experience.

KING: And he would get ridiculed for those statements by George H.W. Bush who was in the room tonight. And he then went back -- Bill Clinton often went back to the Ronald Reagan example as opposed to talking much about the Arkansas National Guard.

It's an interesting question what's going on. Because Rudy Giuliani today gave a much more effective and a much more passionate answer to the experience question when he said, no governors have that experience, but they do do leadership and make executive decisions.

But, to Campbell's point, I don't think it's the vetting. They say if something comes up and they're proven wrong, we'll hold them accountable. They say that they knew about all these things they had been talking and the vetting was very thorough. And the guy who led the vetting was a pro in Washington. So if he made a mistake, he'll be held accountable.

I think the question here is that some of the senator's campaign staff; and Tucker is a good guy. He goes out and you'll see him on both sides, there are people who go out and advocate for their candidate everyday and they are not as familiar with her record, nor have they come up with the narrative they want to do to discuss the specifics of her record as yet.

They have brought in a team who are working with her, a different team that is in the campaign itself. And I suspect by the time we leave this convention there will be different answers and a different message from her campaign.

But one last good point, this happens in all campaigns. The Obama people have come after the media, Bill Clinton used to come after the media. Remember George H.W. Bush at the end of the campaign in '92 annoyed the media, both Bush.

It is often sometimes when you're trying to generate a buzz or rally your side to stand up for somebody, you use us as a whipping post for a little while. That's part of the territory.

BORGER: Part of this is, that this was a decision that was so closely held because they wanted to step on Barack Obama's bounce with a surprise last Friday, that lots of people who could have been brought in to prepare for the kinds of questions that you were asking were not brought in until now. And now they're bringing a senior staff on board.

COOPER: We have to take a short break.

BLITZER: Donna definitely and Roland and we've got David Gergen. I'm sure they will say to Campbell -- the interview was totally appropriate with the exception of baby? Baby? You called him baby.

BROWN: I'm southern. Honey, sweetie, baby; it's a southern thing. I know, I know, I know.

BLITZER: If I started calling somebody baby --

BROWN: Oh, sweetie. Take us to break.

COOPER: The honeys and babies will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We are just starting to hear a response to tonight's speeches from the Obama campaign.

Candy Crowley has that. Let's check in with her on the platform. What are they saying?

CROWLEY: It probably won't surprise you to know that they didn't think this was a very good night for the Republicans. Basically, a spokesman for the Obama campaign says at a time when gas prices are high, people are worried about their homes and the economy is bad, they didn't talk about issues tonight. And that's what people really cared about.

So this is something obviously that they watch very closely. As the Republicans did at the Democratic campaign and try to hit back and get into the news cycle at least, saying there were no issues discussed here tonight. And that's what this is all about.

In fact, the Obama campaign has been going after a top-level person in the McCain campaign for saying that this wasn't about the campaign itself was not solely about issues, it was about people getting comfortable with the candidates.

So this has been kind of an ongoing narrative for them and today they just took another swipe saying what you saw tonight were attacks instead of a discussion of the issues -- Anderson.

COOPER: Candy thanks for that.

Roland Martin, the same criticism though could have been made of the Democrats after their first night at their convention where they were kind of doing biography of Barack Obama and not -- the critics saying discussing the issues.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, but I think the most critical thing tonight, President George W. Bush's speech, 1,019 words, didn't last long. Go through that speech, you never heard the word jobs, money, economy, or prosperity. The only thing he mentioned related to it is tax cuts.

Anderson, let me say this here, on this whole issue of this interview that Campbell gave. Let me give some Media 101 to the McCain campaign. When you get your butt kicked, be a man, take it and move on. Don't sit here and complain and whine and pull an interview.

The reality is, you want to see a pro, look at Senator Olympia Snowe. She said there are different levels of experience. Senator John McCain chose somebody who he's comfortable with. She just gave an interview with Ed Henry. That's how you answer that question.

But the McCain campaign is too dog gone sensitive.

Today, Carly Fiorina is saying that if you criticize the experience of Governor Palin, you're now sexist. Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann said the same thing to James Carville. So how about this here? You criticize Obama's experience, now you're a bigot or you're a racist. That is a ridiculous thing.

They need to grow up, defend their candidate and not just start trying to attack people by killing interviews and calling people sexists because they can't defend their own candidate.

COOPER: Let's check in with Leslie Sanchez in New York. Leslie, what do you think about Roland's advice? I'm not sure that the McCain campaign really wants media advice.

LESLIE SANCHEZ, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I just heard a lot. There's so much there I disagree with that we don't have enough time Anderson to go through all of that.

But I want to say an interesting thing with respect to tonight. We were sitting here talking about Joe Lieberman's speech. I think it was very good in the sense he was appealing to those independents but I think it was far reaching in terms of trying to cover too many different things and some of that message got lost.

And let's not discount the fact tonight is about introduction of these candidates. It's about personal story. The same way the Democrats say that Michelle Obama was introducing them. You take the people who know these candidates best, you put them in front of there and they tell a compelling story. With respect to that, I think the convention had a great, very high marks in reaching that goal.

COOPER: Donna Brazile? BRAZILE: Well, I thought the Republicans yesterday told us that they were taking off their partisan hats and putting on their, of course, American hats. But we learned it must have been paper caps, because tonight they really came out blaring. And I can only tell you listening to Senator Lieberman that he's -- I don't think any Democrats will rally behind what he said tonight.

His appeal will fall on deaf ears. Because Democrats understand that John McCain voted against the minimum wage 17 times while Joe Lieberman was struggling to get the votes to help raise the minimum wage.

Of course, Democrats know the Joe Lieberman record on, as Wolf said earlier, on choice, on gay marriage and civil rights and every other issue. He's more in tune with Obama's views and not John McCain's positions.

COOPER: Amy Holmes, did the Republicans do what they needed to do tonight?

AMY HOLMES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think they did, but I would like to get to this question about how could Joe Lieberman possibly support a candidate with whom he doesn't agree on those social issues.

I would direct your attention to the 2004 exit polling data. George Bush, he got nearly a quarter of the gay vote, he got 63 percent of those voters who regard themselves as pro choice. So this idea that if you're a social conservative, you're only being represented by the Republican Party or if you're a pro choice you're only being represented by the Democratic Party.

That's simply not true. And John Kerry he got his share of pro- lifers. I'd also add to this that Joe Lieberman is not the first Democrat to speak at a Republican convention. If you remember back in 2004, Zell Miller gave a very rip roaring speech where he said, what are Democrats going to do, defend us with spitballs after he went through a list of defense programs the Democrats voted against.

So I would caution people not to be so personal in heaping their scorn upon Joe Lieberman and look at the voting public at large.

COOPER: Jeff Toobin, though Zell Miller never was going to be a vice-presidential candidate for the Democratic Party.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: No, that's an understatement. Zell Miller was certainly not close to that.

I would just like to make an observation about sort of the night as a whole. Fred Thompson, George Bush, Joe Lieberman. The Republican Party, are they the party of old white guys?

This is who the Republican Party put forward first. The only other people there were wives. I just think that is a problem that the Republican Party has. It is not a diverse party. It is not a party where women have had great success. Sarah Palin, perhaps, will be a great exception to that. But I mean this is a very different party from the Democratic Party. You look around that convention hall. It's a very different grew of people than you see in the Democratic Party. The country's changing; I'm not sure the Republican Party is.

COOPER: We're going to have more from our guests in New York, especially Carl Bernstein, Hilary Rosen among them.

We do have to take a short break. Also want to hear back from Alex Castellanos on whether -- on the generational issue that Jeff Toobin just raised.

We'll be right back. Our coverage continues. They are also on cnnpolitics.com. Check it out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Fellow citizens, if the Hanoi Hilton could not break John McCain's resolve to do what is best for his country, you can be sure the angry left never will.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: That line got the most applause from President Bush. He addressed this Republican National Convention from the White House. It was live via satellite.

David Gergen you served for four presidents. A sitting president of the United States speaking from the White House before a political convention and having a line like that, I have never heard President Bush speak about the angry left, if you will, it sort of struck me as extraordinary. But I am open to your opinion if you have a different assessment.

GERGEN: I don't, Wolf. I didn't even know what he was talking about, but I guess he does.

You know, we have had presidents come to conventions and give very partisan speeches for a long, long time. This one from the White House wasn't unusual.

If I may, briefly, a few quick points on the evening. I thought for Republicans this would go down for a good night from their perspective and that is because they began to reinforce the message about McCain and starting drawing sharper contrast with Obama. That's what they wanted to do tonight.

The Palin issue has not gone away after tonight. In fact, I think if anything more questions are building up. This is now -- we're into the fifth day without her giving a press interview as far as I can tell. When are they going to turn her loose and let people ask her, her opinions on some things? We'll all be looking at the size of the audience tonight when the numbers come out tomorrow. That's going to be very, very worthwhile to see if they got the numbers the Democrats did.

Finally, I must say, I came away from the evening a little dispirited in one sense. And that is how deep the divisions are in the country right now that are reflected in this convention tonight. And how much anger there is, almost hostility, even hatred from the two sides.

I think whoever wins this presidency is going to have a hard time uniting the country after this campaign.

BLITZER: As far as I know, David, she did give one interview immediately after Senator McCain announced she was going to be the running mate to "People" magazine or a sister publication. But other than that, I'm not familiar with any other interviews that she gave.

Hilary Rosen, give us your assessment of what he saw and heard tonight.

HILARY ROSEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think that Joe Lieberman didn't do much though he may have tried to bridge the partisan divide.

You know, I would like to go back to the big pictures. The poll, today, showed Barack Obama did actually get kind of a bounce from the convention last week that the Gallup tracking shows him up four or five points. And so this week for the Republicans is all about whether they can make a dent in the inoculation that the Democrats gave themselves last week.

The CNN poll, today, shows that on Iraq and issues like that, Barack Obama has pulled even with John McCain in the amount of trust people have in his ability to solve it. And on the economy he's ahead.

So the question is, what did the Republicans do tonight to change that equation? I thought Fred Thompson maybe made a little dent in that when he was talking about taxes and the economy. Beyond that, I'm not sure that they accomplished much; although perhaps folks in the room felt a little better after Fred Thompson spoke.

I think Joe Lieberman probably was a downer after Fred Thompson.

COOPER: Carl Bernstein, tomorrow night we hear from Sarah Palin. What are you anticipating? How do you think that whole drama, if you will, plays out?

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think it's going to be what tonight was about. She's going to try and become part of this message that this is the party of old-fashioned patriotism and she's part of it.

You know, I think George Bush's remark about the angry left is hugely significant. We listened to Fred Thompson talk about liberalism, liberalism, liberalism as if it were a deadly sin. We also heard all of these old about patriotism belonging to the Republican Party and them putting the country first as if the Democrats don't; back to David's point about the division.

And she is going to go into that argument and say I'm part of putting the country first. The other guys aren't. It is not a very post-partisan message and that's where we're going.

And I was surprised the Obama campaign, tonight, in their response, didn't make more of this and say, wait a minute, these guys don't have a lock on patriotism among putting the party first. We're all putting the country first. We're all for that.

Let's hear the specifics.

BLITZER: John King is getting a very interesting little nugget on your blackberry. Tell our viewers what you're picking up.

KING: I think we were all struck by Joe Lieberman talking about what my daughter would say his new BFF, Sarah Palin; his new best friend.

COOPER: Best friend forever.

KING: So I checked in with the Republican source who said that Senator Lieberman actually came to see Governor Palin yesterday and met with her for an extended period, one on one, to share his experience of being the vice presidential candidate eight years ago and then came back today for another meeting with her with a group of politicians to talk policy and politics.

They're not good friends; they haven't known each other very long. But I guess we're in the getting to know you stage.

COOPER: So has he met with her more than John McCain has now? About the same amount as John McCain did before deciding -- twice.

BLITZER: Not very much but they're talking, which is very good.

KING: And it's very interesting. He does have this odd experience. Many Democrats said cringing at the end because they didn't think he stood up to Dick Cheney in that debate. I think Al Gore was probably sitting at home, where was that guy eight years ago?

COOPER: Donna Brazile, probably thinks the same thing.

BORGER: Dana Bash is reporting she got a phone call from Senator Reid's spokesman who said to Dana on the record that Senator Reid was very disappointed in Senator Lieberman's speech tonight. There goes the chairmanship.

BLITZER: All right guys. We are going to have to leave it all right there. Campbell, see you back here tomorrow. Anderson, of course, will be here. John, the whole team, Gloria, we got the best political team on television.

A couple of important programming notes.

COOPER: How was the band?

BLITZER: Well, we only had a little music. We are hoping there's a lot more tomorrow.

COOPER: Just checking at the end of every evening.

BLITZER: Stand by, guys.

Let's me tell our viewers what's coming up. "American Morning" tomorrow morning, John Roberts is here in St. Paul with Kiran Chetry, 6:00 a.m. Eastern. Stay with us for that. All day coverage tomorrow.

I'll be back 4:00 p.m. Eastern in "The Situation Room" and then the entire team will be back for complete coverage.

Tomorrow night you'll hear from Governor Sarah Palin. She'll accept the Republican presidential nomination.

Until then we want to thank all of our viewers for watching.

"LARRY KING LIVE" a special edition starts right now.

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