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American Morning

Sen. Ted Kennedy Electrifies the Crowd; Hillary Clinton on Center Stage Tonight to Urge Supporters to Back Obama; Democrats Look for Party Unity; What Does Hillary Clinton Need to Say? How Republicans View Michelle Obama's Speech

Aired August 26, 2008 - 07:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: We begin the hour with Michelle Obama's emotional speech on day one of the Democratic National Convention. She could be the country's first African-American first lady. And last night, she talked about her roots as well as her family values as she urged Americans to choose her husband as the next president.

MICHELLE OBAMA, BARACK OBAMA'S WIFE: As I tuck that little girl in, as I tuck that little girl in and her little sister into bed at night, you see, I think about how one day they'll have families of their own. And how one day, they and your sons and daughters, will tell their own children about what we did together in this election.


They'll tell them -- they'll tell them how this time we listened to our hopes instead of our fears. How this time -- how this time we decided to stop doubting and to start dreaming. How this time in this great country where a girl from the South Side of Chicago can go to college and law school and the son of a single mother from Hawaii can go all the way to the White House. That we committed ourselves -- we committed ourselves to building the world as it should be.

So tonight, in honor of my father's memory and my daughters' future, out of gratitude for those whose triumphs we mark this week and those whose every day sacrifices have brought us to this moment, let us devote ourselves to finishing their work. Let us work together to fulfill their hopes and let's stand together to elect Barack Obama president of the United States of America!


CHETRY: And also, the most emotional moment of the night came when Senator Ted Kennedy walked out on stage. He brought the crowd to its feet. Some people in the crowd crying. His unannounced appearance came after surgery to remove a brain tumor earlier this summer.


SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: This November the torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans. So with Barack Obama and for you and for me, our country will be committed to his cause. The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on.


CHETRY: Kennedy's niece Maria Shriver was seen wiping away tears as her uncle made the speech. There you see here. He vowed to be present in the Senate in January as well when the new congressional session begins.

And it was extraordinary for many reasons. But he looked wonderful for what he's enduring physically right now with the chemotherapy and the other treatments. As I understand it, he did have to go get checked out at a local hospital after making that cross-country flight.

ROBERTS: Yes. I was talking with his son, Patrick Kennedy, who by the way is going to be joining us a little bit later on this hour, saying that the plane ride over there, the pressurized cabin affected him just a little bit. But he really, really wanted to be there.

And I've got to tell you, I think almost to a person here inside the convention, everyone was surprised at how well he looked. You know, we heard these reports about his health and we expected him to be very, very frail. But he came out and he was very robust. But I guess that's really a testament to the determination of Senator Ted Kennedy.

Tonight Senator Hillary Clinton gets her moment. Eighteen million supporters had hoped that she would be speaking on Thursday. Now her job is to get them rock solid behind Barack Obama.

CNN's Dana Bash joins me now. So is she's saying all of the right things leading up to her speech?

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, she's certainly saying all the things leading up to her speech. But you know, when you talk about what the moment is going to be, when you think about it, going back oh so long ago when this Democratic primary battle began, there was almost no doubt that this was going to be Hillary Clinton's convention, which is what makes the drama tonight so unbelievable.

She's going to be standing at that podium trying to convince people in this hall and the folks back home that voted for her that it's time to move on.


BASH (voice-over): Hillary Clinton must convince Denver Democrats she's now in it for Obama to win it.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: And now I ask each and every one of you to work as hard for Barack and Joe Biden as you worked for me. BASH: Clinton's first convention audience was her home state political army, the New York delegation. She pleaded with them to be good soldiers.

CLINTON: We were not all on the same side as Democrats. But we are now. We are united and we are together and we are determined.

BASH: A sneak preview of her much anticipated convention speech and a signal she knows what's expected of her. Preach unity and deliver it like she means it.

CLINTON: This is Barack Obama's convention as it should be. And there is no doubt that what we are doing is trying to bring everybody together with the same level of commitment that I certainly feel so that we can leave Denver unified.

HILLARY CLINTON SUPPORTERS: Let the delegates vote!

BASH: But some angry Hillary supporters protesting outside the hall want no part of unity. And John McCain's campaign is eager to stoke it. Showcasing in Denver, the Clinton turned McCain supporter in a new anti-Obama ad.

DEBRA BARTOSHEVICH, CLINTON SUPPORTER FOR MCCAIN: I know there are more delegates. I spoke to a lot of delegates who are in the same position I am in, but they are not ready to come out yet. I do believe they will come out after the convention.

CLINTON: I'm Hillary Clinton, and I do not approve that message.

BASH: But with polls showing more and more Clinton voters turning towards McCain, this may be her most important message of all.

CLINTON: Electing John McCain would be a mistake for our country. That is the overriding reality. And anyone who voted for me has so much more in common with Senator Obama than they will ever have with Senator McCain and the Republican Party.


BASH: Now, the political reality is that if enough of Hillary Clinton supporters defect and support John McCain, John, it would actually only help her in the next election in 2012. The challenge for her is to convince Democrats that she doesn't want that and to prove it, we're told, she's going to have some pretty tough stuff in her speech about John McCain and why she believes that his policies are just wrong for the country.

ROBERTS: And you've got to wonder, though, after that long and bruising primary battle that went right through to the end, what will be going through her mind when she's up there on that podium tonight.

BASH: With gritting teeth, I think, is something we should all be looking for.

ROBERTS: All right. Well, it will be interesting to watch tonight. Dana, thanks so much for that.

There were many touching moments during day one of the DNC. But CNN contributor James Carville says it was a waste, way too soft, and that the party was playing hide the message.


JAMES CARVILLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: If this party has a message, it's done a hell of a job of hiding it tonight. I promise you that.

George W. Bush. I haven't heard any of this. I mean, it's almost like, you know, we're a country that is borderline recession, we're 85, 80 percent wrong track country. People with the health care, the energy, I haven't heard anything about gas pries.

I mean, maybe we're going to look better, you know, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. But right now, like I say, we're playing hide the message.


ROBERTS: CNN's Joe Johns joins me now. Joe, that's how James Carville saw it last night. What did you think? How did you see it?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know what they were trying to do. All right? Safety and unity, safety and unity. You got to make the voters feel safe. You've got to make the party feel unified.

So how do you do that? You roll out your wife. Have her tell some personal stories. You look at the kids. You get a real feel and sort of fill out the narrative of Barack Obama.

And then if you're lucky, you tie yourself to, you know, one of the great legacies of the Democratic Party. Who was that? Ted Kennedy comes out.

That was a very emotional moment out here. A lot of people listened. They watched. They felt very connected to Ted Kennedy. Perhaps that connection extends on to Barack Obama.

So you see what they were trying to do. The question, of course, is whether it sort of played out on TV and people got it.

ROBERTS: Yes. I don't think that anyone expected Michelle Obama to come out there and start attacking John McCain. And certainly the tribute to Senator Ted Kennedy was one of those heartfelt moments. Meant to bring people together and it certainly did.

But some of the other speeches, I think that's what Carville was talking about, saying there just wasn't anything there that people could grab on to in terms of who do we have to fight in the November election.

JOHNS: Right. But you do expect to see a little bit more of that as this convention goes on. It's only one day of the convention. As he even noted himself, a lot of these things, you know, you sit and you watch and you say, OK. Where is the beef?


JOHNS: Because at the end of the day this is a commercial for the Democratic Party and the nominee and what they're trying to do is sell a product. Are the viewers getting it?

ROBERTS: Although I can expect when Dick Cheney comes out at the Republican Convention to talk, he'll be going hard on the Democrats. We'll see.

Joe Johns, thanks so much -- Kiran.

CHETRY: John, thanks. The Bill factor. Whether he'll rally the party behind Obama or make the wounds worse. We're going to ask a former Clinton supporter who is now backing Obama, Governor Bill Richardson.

Also, it's Madonna versus John McCain. A stage act that shows him alongside images of Hitler and African dictator and starving children. Today, outrage from the McCain camp.

You're watching a special edition of the "Most News in the Morning." We're live from Denver, Colorado and the Democratic National Convention.


ROBERTS: A shot of downtown Denver with one of the songs on the Democratic National Committee Convention play list, "Kool and the Gang" and "Celebrate." Wow. It gets the whole place up dancing every time they play it.

Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." Tonight, it is Hillary Clinton's turn to star in the Democratic National Convention.

Joining me now to talk about last night and what's ahead tonight, CNN political contributor and Republican analyst Leslie Sanchez; Patricia Murphy, who's the editor of She served as former Democratic Senator Max Cleveland's communications director. And John Avlon is a contributor to "Politico" and a registered independent. Welcome back to all of you.

Let's take a look quickly as we start off here at a really touching moment last night when Senator Ted Kennedy came out on stage after that tribute to him.


SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I have come here tonight to stand with you. To change America, to restore its future, to rise to our best ideals and to elect Barack Obama president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROBERTS: Now, for folks in the hall last night, that was a real unifying moment, which is somewhat ironic when you consider the divisions that he created back in 1980. But how far did he go to sort of being the glue to stick everybody together, Patricia?

PATRICIA MURPHY, EDITOR, CITIZENJANEPOLITICS.COM: Well, I think that he went a long way. I'm not sure. Obviously the work has not been taken care of. But I think that when he says that the dream lives on and he's passing the torch, he's passing the torch from the Kennedy family on to the Obama family. I think that's a big moment, and I think he is trying to unify this party that really does badly need it.

ROBERTS: Did the independents get all warm and fuzzy over that moment, because in the house here there were -- I mean, people were in tears.

JOHN AVLON, INDEPENDENT POLITICAL ANALYST: That's absolutely right. Look, independents don't always get warm and fuzzy about Ted Kennedy. But no matter what your politics, seeing Ted Kennedy rise out of his sick bed to give that speech was a moving moment. And I think it reminded us that we can disagree about ideas but we make a big mistake when we demonize the opposition. It was a very humanizing moment and a great moment.

ROBERTS: Right. Leslie?

LESLIE SANCHEZ, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: No. We completely agree. I think on both sides of the aisle this is somebody who's so incredibly respected that you could do nothing but revere the hard work of his family and the legacy of his family.

ROBERTS: OK. So the thing tonight is Hillary Clinton and what she's going to do. At a press conference yesterday, she urged unity. Let's listen to what she said.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: This is Barack Obama's convention as it should be. And there is no doubt that what we are doing is trying to bring everybody together with the same level of commitment that I certainly feel so that we can leave Denver unified.


ROBERTS: Patricia, she is preaching unity but at least according to some of the delegates we talked to last night, not everybody's listening. At least not yet.

MURPHY: Well, and I think that what she is saying is right. The way she is saying it is far from convincing. She actually spoke at an -- she did a big Obama rally in Florida and several people walked away from that. A lot of people interviewed walked away and one phrase I heard was that it was a very platonic endorsement.

She's going through the motions, but she's not in love with the idea of Barack Obama being president. And it's very, very clear. So I think she's saying the right things but she's got to kick it up a notch to really convince people.

ROBERTS: You're not saying she's been disingenuous but do you think it's like it's a difficult step for her to get there given all that she went through?

MURPHY: I think it's I do. I think it's very difficult for her. I think she believes -- I think that Clinton believes that she still would be the best nominee. I think they believe that Barack Obama may not win and they think that she could have won. They believe that.


MURPHY: They think that they made the wrong choice.

ROBERTS: We could probably expect tonight that Hillary Clinton is going to go after the Republican Party. But we're learning through the "Politico" who did an -- which did an interview with Governor Mark Warner whose giving the keynote address tonight, he says he's not going to attack. Is that a mistake?

SANCHEZ: Well, if you look at what even James Carville said, you know, he's looking for the meat in this. You know, kind of paraphrased him, there's not a lot of "there" there in terms of getting this coalition excited. I think it's interesting to listen to Hillary Clinton saying this is Barack Obama's convention, but we spent the last two days talking about Hillary Clinton.

ROBERTS: Yes. John, quick.

AVLON: The last thing independents want to see is an angry party of Obama. Mark Warner is exactly right. He's had the experience of turning a red state blue by bringing a radical centrist. It's exactly the right message, so I think --

ROBERTS: All right. James Carville, by the way, is going to come down to join us in just a little while. So we're asking him about that directly.

Leslie, Patricia, John, we'll see you again soon. Thanks.



CHETRY: All right. John, thank you.

Well, Republicans are watching the Democratic Convention and waiting to attack. We're going to talk about the McCain campaign's plans to counter what happened last night. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


ROBERTS: 21 minutes after the hour. Now, tonight, the stage is set for Hillary Clinton and all eyes will be on whether she can rally her supporters to back Barack Obama. What does she need to say? How worried should Democrats be about unity in the party?

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is a former Obama opponent who endorsed him for president in March. And Governor Richardson joins me now. Good to see you.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: Nice to be with you, John.

ROBERTS: So you have -- you have said in some of the interviews you've been doing while in Denver, do you believe that the party can achieve unity? However, it looks like that's going to be a little bit difficult to do. What does Hillary Clinton need to do tonight?

RICHARDSON: Well, she has to unequivocally state that she is supporting Senator Obama. And I witnessed it personally two weeks ago when I did two fundraisers for Senator Clinton. I saw her in public and private.

I believe that she is sincere in wanting to help the ticket, enthusiastically supporting Obama. I think the rifts that she had have diminished. Now some of her supporters still.


RICHARDSON: And I think I spoke to one New Mexico Clinton delegate last night, actually two of them, and they said they want to hear it from her own voice today, the intensity, the strength of her commitment. I think that's what has to happen.

ROBERTS: A lot of people also hope that she starts to go after the Republican Party. Our James Carville will be talking to us in a couple of minutes, thought that it was a wasted opportunity last night.

And Eugene Robertson of the "Washington Post" wrote this today. He said, "If they want to win in November Democrats have one task to accomplish this week: Snap out of it. Somehow, tentativeness and insecurity have infected a party that ought to be full of confident swagger."

You're delivering remarks tomorrow. Are you going to get tough on the Republicans?

RICHARDSON: Yes, I will. Just looking at what's happened today in Pakistan and Russia, it's basically a collapse of our foreign policy. We have no leverage. We're standing by watching events unfold.

I believe the first day was important. Yesterday, it showed Michelle Obama, her struggle to -- to the American dream. Ted Kennedy is such a positive figure in the Democratic Party. His legacy. So I believe you have to set the stage.

Now, these next three days, I think you're going to see an intensity of attack. But, you know, you don't want to get negative, choppy, every single day. And I think what we're seeing today here is a Democratic Party that's positive, that's unified, that wants to heal, that wants to bring bipartisanship. And, you know, I'll talk about that too.

ROBERTS: I've got one other quote that I want to throw at you this morning. And this again is from the "Washington Post." It comes from a woman named Debbie Hine who wrote a letter to the editor about you not being the number two. She said, "Yes, experience counts, but Mr. Obama did not have the audacity to pick someone with experience who would represent true change as well. If so, perhaps he would have chosen New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson." Mr. Richardson, a former congressman, energy secretary and ambassador to the United Nations, has more foreign policy experience than either man on the Democrat ticket."

What do you say to Debbie this morning?

ROBERTS: Well, I think she's a very smart lady. But, you know, apart from that, I was treated very well by Senator Obama. I think I was carefully considered. Didn't happen. So you move on.

I'm very happy being governor of New Mexico. You know I love my job. So I am here. I want to see Senator Obama elected. I want to see a unified ticket. And so far, I think we've had a good convention.

ROBERTS: Governor, it's great to see you. Thanks for coming in this morning.

RICHARDSON: Thanks, John.

ROBERTS: Have a good convention.

RICHARDSON: Thank you.

ROBERTS: The Democrats are set to attack on the economy. We're going to have a reality check on issue number one now compared to eight years ago. Are you better off?

You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."



JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Now, you've been using Hillary in some of your ads now.


LENO: Why not pick her as vice president? You seem to like her.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." That was John McCain on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno." And while McCain was getting some laughs from a late night audience, Michelle Obama got a standing ovation at the Democratic Convention. Republicans had been hammering her for not being patriotic after her now infamous proud of my country remarks.

Joining me now is Nicolle Wallace, the senior adviser to John McCain's campaign. She's live from the Pepsi Center in Denver as well to talk about that speech.

Nicolle, great to see you this morning.


CHETRY: She spent a lot of time talking about the fact that, you know, she's just a mom with two young children. Their future is at the top of her mind and she's proud of her husband and proud of her country. Is this something her commitment to patriotism that Republicans can still question after her speech last night?

WALLACE: I don't know what you're talking about in terms of questioning her patriotism. The McCain campaign certainly never did so. And I think that she was extraordinarily human last night. And I think, you know, Republicans have hearts, too. And there were many moving moments last night.

I think Ted Kennedy, his being here, his being able to talk to the roaring crowd here was nothing less than a sheer force of his will. And I think that Michelle Obama had some incredibly tender moments as well.

So I think everybody routes for the families. Everybody routes for the spouses. You know, nobody, I think, on our side, in our campaign, has ever been anything other than respectful. And I think she even earned a few admirers last night.

CHETRY: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi also talked last night. And she took the stage saying that a vote for John McCain is basically a vote for a third Bush term. How would John McCain do things differently, specifically on the economy, than what's going on in the current administration?

WALLACE: Well, you know, this is their favorite line of attack and I call it one of their bottom drawer attacks that when things don't look good they open up the bottom drawer, and they pull out these falsehoods. They launch some personal attacks. And it was an interesting way to start their convention, I must say.

John McCain has a record that the American people are quite familiar with. He has been a maverick. He has stood up against his president. He has stood up against Republicans in Congress.

He talks all the time about how he has never won many popularity contests in Congress. But he stood up against the Bush White House on campaign finance reform, trying to get some of the money out of our politics. Stood up against the Bush White House and climate change and still does. Stood up against the Bush White House often and loudly on the failed strategy in Iraq. He advocated the surge that Barack Obama still opposes long -

CHETRY: Nicole, let me just ask you this -

WALLACE: ...before the Bush administration was ready to move toward that successful strategy.

CHETRY: Is the McCain campaign going to be distancing itself more from the president and from the president's current policies?

WALLACE: I don't think it's about distancing ourselves. I think that when you have an opponent with as many millions and millions and millions and millions of dollars as the Obama campaign has, they passed that public financing, something that hasn't been done in a very long time, if ever, I think there's a lot of work to do in setting the record straight. So we acknowledge that we have our work cut out for us in setting the record straight and making sure that everyone is reminded of John McCain's long record of standing up to people in his own party, reaching across the aisle to work with some of his famous friends, Joe Lieberman, and Russ Feingold, Tom Daschle, and many others and Joe Biden, who have lots of nice things to say about John McCain's long record of bipartisanship and bipartisan accomplishment.

CHETRY: All right. Nicole Wallace, McCain campaign senior adviser, thanks for being with us this morning.

WALLACE: Thanks for having me.

CHETRY: Well, he was once the star of the democratic convention. The man largely credited with bringing the party back from some of its darkest days. And tomorrow former President Bill Clinton is back at the podium, but in a very different role. And observers are wondering how he will respond when he takes the stage. Jason Carroll joins me now with more on this. Hi, Jason.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And hello to you, Kiran. You know, anyone who knows the former president knows he is his own man. And clearly, there was still some residual bitterness left over from the primary season. Senator Clinton is expected to be very complimentary. Many are also watching to see what the former president says to gauge just how unified the democratic party is.


CARROLL (voice-over): While democrats wait for Senator Barack Obama to take the stage Thursday, some wonder what will happen when the party's former leader, Bill Clinton, takes the stage Wednesday.

DAVID MARK, POLITICO.COM: I think it's probably a little bit much to ask that he's going to embrace Obama warmly.

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I'm sure he'll probably be as helpful as he can. When he gets up there sometimes he can surprise any of us.

CARROLL: And this from Senator Obama who spoke to Clinton several days ago.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I said, Mr. President, you can say whatever you like. It wouldn't make much sense for me to want to edit his remarks to prevent him from making a strong case about why we need fundamental economic change in this country.

CARROLL: The speakers on Wednesday night are supposed to focus on the theme of foreign policy. But Clinton may or may not follow the program.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I don't think he'll do anything that will undercut Barack Obama or be negative toward the nominee. I just think Bill Clinton will talk mostly about himself.

CARROLL: Political experts say giving Clinton some leeway could be the result of trying to ease tensions between the Clintons and Obama.

CARVILLE: If there was some tension, it was a long battle. And that's what politics is about. And politics is about fighting and reconciling. It's a little bit like, you know, relationships. You fight and you reconcile.

CARROLL: But critics question whether Clinton is capable of paying Obama a compliment and making it sound believable. They point to the ABC News interview where Clinton was asked, is Obama ready to be president?

BILL CLINTON, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT: You could argue that no one's ever ready to be president.

CARROLL: CNN's latest poll shows one in three Clinton supporters still not backing Obama. Still, the senator says, both Clintons are behind him.

OBAMA: President Clinton could not be more clear about his strong support for my candidacy. The fact is, we had a very hard fought primary. There are going to be some of Senator Clinton's supporters who we're going to have to work hard to persuade to come on board.


CARROLL: And both the Obama and the Clinton camps released a joint statement saying, "Senator and President Clinton fully support the Obama-Biden ticket and look forward to addressing the convention and the nation on the urgency of victory this Fall. Anyone saying anything else doesn't know what they're talking about. Period." So his speech should be one to watch. Kiran.

CHETRY: Jason Carroll for us, thank you.

And now let's send it back to John.

ROBERTS: 34 minutes after -- Hey, thanks, Kiran. 34 minutes after the hour. The democrats wasted day one. That critique of the convention coming from CNN contributor James Carville who joins me live this morning to tell us why. So what's behind that statement?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it's a little bit of an addendum here. I think the Michelle Obama speech was really quite good in prime time. But stuff before -

ROBERTS: Well the Ted Kennedy moment as well?

CARVILLE: Was a great moment, absolutely. But other stuff was wasted. There was no message that came out of here. I mean, look, this is the fifth night in a row that we've had a democratic convention since George W. Bush, the most disastrous, incompetent and corrupt administration we've had in modern American history and we haven't put it front and center. I mean, I am at loss -

ROBERTS: So what should they have done?

CARVILLE: They should have had speakers up there saying excuse me, but there's a sense of urgency in this country. Excuse me, but this administration has taken a country that is the most ascended nation since ancient Rome and run it in the ditch. Excuse me, but the surplus is gone. And now we have a deficit. Look what happens to health care cost, look what happened to energy cost, look what happened in the income growth in this country. I heard none of that last night.

ROBERTS: Well given the state of the party, would that have been the way to go on opening night? Because there was still plenty of time for more speeches. Bill Richardson was here just a minute ago. He said he's going to get tough on the republicans. We're hearing that Mark Warner's not going to.

CARVILE: If you had - but again, if you've got four nights. Why waste one? I don't understand. I don't even understand the logic of do you think that the - go to the opening night of the republican convention. Do you think they're not going to mention Obama and terrorism, taxes, stand up for this, et cetera, et cetera? Of course they are. This is the fifth night of a democratic convention in a row. And I know that Senator Clinton is going to mention President Bush. I promise you that that's going to - I promise you she's going to mention ordinary people.

ROBERTS: I was talking to Terry McAuliffe. He said the debulk of her speech is going to be about unifying the party. I mean, here's the question that folks at home are wondering right now. Are you saying that things would have been different, the tone would have been different at this convention had your candidate Hillary Clinton won?

CARVILLE: My candidate didn't win. But and I don't know. I wasn't part of her campaign. If I'd have had anything to do with it we would have got after them from the get go. I mean, I wouldn't have looked back. I think people, I think the public is looking for someone to be held accountable for what happened. You know, John McCain actually went around, he said he never was a big issue that he ever disagreed with Bush. He went around the country campaigning the privatization of social security to allow people to invest their hard earned money in subprime mortgages. That's the kind of stuff that I want to hear up here.

That, you know, not this other community, unity, whatever this stuff here. It's almost like they're scared to offend some columnist, a commentator or something like that. This is an 80 percent wrong track country. This is the country where when Bill Clinton, that's right, when Bill Clinton was president of the United States, incomes grew by $6,000. Under this administration, they've gone down by $1,000. That's the stuff people out there care about.

ROBERTS: As you said, three more days to go. We'll see if the tone changes so much. James, it's always good to see you.

CARVILLE: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Thanks for coming in.

Madonna versus John McCain. The Material Girl uses images of Hitler to slam the republican candidate.

Our Alina Cho looks at the outrage and the potential backlash.


CHETRY (VOICE-OVER): Issue number one.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ask yourself a simple question. Are you better off now than you were when George Bush took office?

CHETRY: Politics of the purse. Remember when gas was $1.50 a gallon?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a tough comparison no matter how you slice it.

CHETRY: How the economic slump has the republicans in a deep hole. You're watching the most news in the morning.


CHETRY: Beautiful shot this morning of downtown Denver, site of the Democratic National Convention taking place there. And this is one of the songs, Santana "Oye Como Va," on the play list on the convention floor. So we're playing that for you as the sun's just about to come up there.

And welcome back to the most news in the morning. You know, the economy is "Issue number one" for many voters. And democrats are hoping that people check their wallets before heading to the polls. Because the dems are trying to pin the current recession on republican policies. Christine Romans joins me for a fact check, just to look at, you know, whether or not people are better off now than they were eight years ago.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kiran. President Bush took office just before a recession and he could end office a second term just after a second recession possibly. In between was the weakest economic expansion since World War II.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: About what's at stake, ask yourself a simple question. That is, are you better off now than you were when George Bush took office?

ROMANS (voice-over): You'll hear a lot over the next nine weeks about family budgets and the struggling middle class. And whether the economy is better off today.

LAKSHMAN ACHUTHAN, ECONOMIC CYCLE RESEARCH INSTITUTE: In a word, no. Comparing a recession today with eight years ago when you were in a boom. And that's a tough comparison no matter how you slice it.

ROMANS: Tough comparison, indeed. Remember gas at $1.49. It has more than doubled during George W. Bush's administration. Most recently $3.68 a gallon. Medical costs are gobbling up an ever bigger chunk of your hard earned dollar. Think of it this way. More than 17 cents of every consumer dollar is spent on health care. Tuition and food prices are exploding as paychecks after inflation shrink. Economist Mark Zandi saying the rich are a little richer, the poor a little poorer, and everyone else?

MARK ZANDI, MOODY'S ECONOMY.COM: I think for the average American they're treading water financially. Their incomes are about where they were eight years ago and net worth is about where it was eight years ago as well.

ROMANS: Historically, income rises. The democrats blame White House economic policy. It's one reason many say John McCain must distance himself from Bush and choose a running mate strong on the economy. At the same time, the GOP warns against democrats taxing and spending the country further in the hole.


ROMANS: Now, presidents probably get too much credit and too much blame for the economy. But that won't stop democrats from squarely blaming today's malaise on eight years of republican policies, Kiran.

CHETRY: Is there any place we are better off economically?

ROMANS: Believe it or not, according to Zillow house prices are still higher today than they were in 2001. So if you didn't get yourself in some funky loan, if you didn't get, you know, to come to predatorial lending, if you're in the same house that you were in back in 2001 and you didn't take the money out of it, and you still you have your job, yes, things are better for you today than they were in 2001.

CHETRY: All right. Christine Romans, good to see you as always. Thanks.

ROMANS: Nice to see you. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHETRY (voice-over): Video vixen. Madonna's new stage show that has both campaigns wanting to pull the plug. You're watching the most news in the morning.



CHETRY: That new video from Madonna's tour has the McCain camp and its supporters outraged this morning. In this video montage it features images of destruction, global warming, Adolf Hitler, genocidal dictator Robert Mugabe and then John McCain.

Our Alina Cho joins us now with more on the images that have caused all this controversy.

Hi, Alina.

ALINA CHO, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Kiran. Good morning. As you well know, Madonna is no stranger to controversy. In the past she's taken on sex, religion and now she kicks off here new concert tour. Madonna is talking politics but some say this time she's taking it too far.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got your documentary coming on.

CHO (voice-over): ... England these days but Madonna is making her thoughts clear on the United States presidential election. The "Material Girl" takes on republican presidential candidate John McCain in her latest "Sticky and Sweet" tour. Seen in this YouTube video. In a montage of her song "Get Stupid," Madonna juxtaposes an image of McCain with Adolf Hitler and Zimbabwe's dictator Robert Mugabe, as well as shots of death and destruction. The McCain campaign quickly fired back, saying the comparisons are outrageous, unacceptable and crudely divisive all at the same time.

Madonna chose much softer images for the democrats, pictures of John Lennon, Al Gore and Mahatma Gandhi. The McCain campaign used that as an opportunity to reignite their claim that Obama is more celebrity than politician.

"It clearly shows that when it comes to supporting Barack Obama, his fellow worldwide celebrities refused to consider and smear or attack off limits."

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Politically it was brilliant for the republicans to take this issue, to seize on it and try to link Barack Obama to it. But the fact of the matter is Barack Obama has no control over who supports him for president.

CHO: For its part the Obama camp condemned Madonna's video at the same time hitting back at the McCain campaign. "These comparisons are outrageous and offensive and have no place in the political process. We hope that John McCain will offer a similar condemnation as his allies increasingly practice sleazy swift boat politics."


CHO: Now, if you watched the video you'll notice that John McCain isn't the only republican featured in the Madonna montage. Former GOP candidate Mike Huckabee also makes an appearance. And did we mention that she's not doing this for publicity, Kiran. Madonna kicked off her international tour in Wales on Saturday. She's coming to the U.S. in October with three concerts right here in New York, Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Alina. I don't know how she has time to do anything beside work out. She just looks unbelievable.

CHO: And just turned 50.

CHETRY: Wow. And the controversy continues in true Madonna fashion. Thanks, Alina.

CHO: You bet.


ROBERTS (voice-over): Polling even.


ROBERTS: McCain grabs his own spotlight in "Late Night" while Obama tries to steal the show. A top republican strategist on how McCain stays in the game. You're watching the most news in the morning.



ROBERTS: Coming up on 52 minutes after the hour. Welcome back to the most news in the morning. Barack Obama's wife, Michelle, took center stage at the democratic convention last evening, but was almost upstaged by her youngest daughter. Here's Jeanne Moos with an unconventional moment.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Obama daughters arrived on stage to a group hug. Stage fright, nowhere in sight. And then Dad arrived via satellite.

Hi, Daddy!

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hey, sweetie! How do you think mom did?

SASHA OBAMA, SEN. BARACK OBAMA'S DAUGHTER: I think she did good. MOOS: Seven-year-old Sasha did good earlier at the podium when she banged the gavel and yelled "order."


MOOS: The order she likes is to be number one.

SASHA OBAMA: I love you, Daddy!

MOOS: With an unconventional moment, I'm Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.



CHETRY (voice-over): The lion of the Senate makes the crowd roar.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Edward M. Kennedy!

CHETRY: Senator Ted Kennedy's son joins us after an emotional night in Denver.

Plus, the politics.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are united, and we are together, and we are determined.

CHETRY: And the protests as 18 million voters get ready to hear what the Clintons have to say. It's the most politics live at the DNC.




CAROLINE KENNEDY SCHLOSSBERG, NIECE OF SEN. EDWARD M. KENNEDY: It is my honor to introduce a tribute to Senator Edward M. Kennedy.


ROBERTS: That was Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg introducing her uncle Senator Ted Kennedy last night. He gave a five-minute surprise speech focusing on what he calls a season of hope. The ailing senator has been at every convention except for two in the past 48 years. His rousing words at the podium brought tears to some members of his family including his niece and California's First Lady, Maria Shriver, not to mention a lot of people in the house as well.

Joining me now here at the Pepsi Center is Senator Kennedy's son, Rhode Island representative Patrick Kennedy. Congressman, it's good to see you this morning.


ROBERTS: Saw you up on the podium last night with your dad. What was that moment like?

KENNEDY: Well, it's like so many moments recently. It's been giving many so many great feelings of pride and hope, you know. My father is so resilient now. He's been given such a great challenge, but like so many challenges, he's risen to the occasion. He wanted so much to be here and he made it. And I was so proud that he was able to do it and give the speech of his life. You know, the convention responded and only my dad was able to put things in perspective the way they needed to be. You know, things have come full circle. The comparisons to my Uncle Bobby, you know, with the '68 campaign and Barack and the comparisons to John F. Kennedy with the rhetoric that, you know, Barack uses, but, you know, my dad was the one to put it in perspective. And when my dad said, you know, a lot of people criticized my brother, John Kennedy for using lofty rhetoric, but, you know, no one ever said that when he said to go to the moon that it was going too far.

ROBERTS: Right, that it was too far away.

KENNEDY: That it was too far away. And you know what, my dad is the kind of guy who can put that out there and he was the only one who could put that out there. And that's why his role last night was so vital.

ROBERTS: Let's a moment and listen to what he said last night. He had a few words of praise for Senator Obama. Let's listen.


SEN. TED KENNEDY: The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on.


ROBERTS: of course, people who saw his 1980 speech will remember that line, very similar to what he said in 1980. His endorsement to Senator Obama was incredibly important. And as you said, it was extraordinarily important for him to be here last night. And when he walked out on stage, I know I did, and a lot of other people around me said, wow, he's in a lot better shape than we thought he was going to be given the reports that we'd heard. How's he doing?

KENNEDY: He's doing great. As he said, he's going to be back in September, January. I mean, frankly, he's ready to come back in September to help us pass the mental health disparity bill which will eliminate the discrimination towards mental illnesses, the deductibles and co-pays. And of course, his big issue is health care. And in January, he's going to be chairing the committee on health care and with President Obama, an increased majority in the Senate, a house that's led by Speaker Pelosi, we're going to be able to really move on this legislation, finally, that he's been fighting for his 45 years in the United States Senate. ROBERTS: Well, tell people quickly, if you could, Congressman, who were wondering about how he's doing, how were the treatment, the chemotherapy, the radiation post post-surgery.

KENNEDY: Well, they're doing really well. And you know, unfortunately, because he's a member of the Congress, he gets health care. And the thing with my dad, you know, he's fighting for his health care, but you know what, he's also fighting for everybody's health care, because he believes that, you know, members of the Congress shouldn't be the only ones afforded access to health care. He believes all Americans should be afforded access to health care. That's in our democratic platform. And you won't find that in the republican platform. And so elections are about more than just great speeches. It's about getting results done. And my dad's about getting results. And that's why he's known as the hardest working senator in Capitol Hill.

ROBERTS: Well he certainly showed his determination last night. Congressman Patrick Kennedy, thank you for being with us this morning. Certainly we wish your dad all the best.

KENNEDY: Oh, thank you so much.

ROBERTS: God speed and our prayers are with him and with your family.

KENNEDY: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Thanks for joining us this morning. I appreciate it.

KENNEDY: You bet.