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Democratic National Convention: Al Gore Accepts His Party's Presidential NominationAired August 17, 2000 - 9:30 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST, CNN "LARRY KING LIVE": Now, a lady he knows since she was a little baby -- knows the whole family. Kristin Gore is going to come forward to introduce her mother, who will introduce the tape, who will introduce the vice president. And then Bernie, Judy, and Jeff will be back with all the analysis. We'll see you at midnight with more guests, including Novak and Richards.
KRISTIN GORE, DAUGHTER OF VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE: Hello. This is my first real speech, and I have to admit, I've been pretty nervous about giving it. But I'm relieved that it's in such an intimate setting. Nerves aside, I'm very proud and honored to have the opportunity to introduce the woman who introduced me to the world -- a woman who has shown me and my family how to approach life with creativity, compassion, grace and a great sense of humor.
My mom has always taught my siblings and me to walk towards people in need, never indifferently past them. For years, she has worked to get mentally ill homeless men and women off the streets and into care. One day, my mother came across a homeless woman named Mary in the park across from the White House. When my mom asked how she could help, Mary replied, "You can help me get my reality back."
Mary then announced that she was married to the president and couldn't leave the White House vicinity because he needed her there. And my mom realized that giving this woman's reality back was going to be a tough job. My mother took Mary over to the White House gate and explained it all to the guard, so he would play along.
Mom said, "This woman needs to leave her husband, the president, a message that she's coming with me for a few hours, and she'll be back later." Satisfied, Mary agreed to go with my mom and accept treatment. She got the medicine she disparately needed, was reunited with her family and now has a steady job in a stable community.
She got her reality back.
When I tell people these stories about my mom, they always say with surprise, "And she does this incognito? The people don't even know who she is?" The truth is, they know who she is more than anyone. They know she is a caring woman who believes that any obstacle can be overcome by simply reaching out and making a human connection.
I'm inspired by my mother's courage, grateful for her parenting prowess and entertained by her sense of humor. This humor is frequently on display. For example, she was recently asked by a reporter in quest of a serious interview if she had a model first lady. And my mom replied, "Oh, I have lots of models about this big, and I play with them every morning."
My mom celebrates the funny and the absurd in everyday life. It's one of the reasons everyone loves to hang out with her. My mom has always been my role model, a real life-size one. Anyone knows her -- anyone who knows her knows that she lives life creatively. She is full of surprises, full of fun, full of loyalty and warmth.
Her optimistic and artistic perspective manifests itself in her friendliness, her wit, her infectious laughter, her activism and her art itself. She brought Karenna, Sarah, Albert and me into this world and continues to make it a better place for our future.
My family is thrilled to share my mom with you. And I can assure you that she's one of the coolest people you will ever know.
And now, please join me in welcoming my mother, Tipper Gore.
BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Drums mean much to Tipper Gore, and the planners of this event are letting that fact sink in.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: In fact, the drumming is being led by Mickey Hart of "The Grateful Dead," one of the Gore's favorite groups, and I believe at one point Tipper actually sat in with "The Dead" and played a set of drums during one of their concerts, a group that kind of symbolized many of the major elements in the late '60s.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: There was -- in addition, there was not long ago there was a gathering in Washington to celebrate gay rights, and Tipper Gore was there at the drums herself.
She knows how to let it all hang out, as they say.
GREENFIELD: In the video that we showed earlier by Spike Jonze, the 29-year-old director of "Being John Malkovich," the interchange between Al Gore and Tipper Gore I think was very clearly designed to show a side of Al Gore that a lot of Americans probably don't even believe exists: that is loose, funny, irreverent.
It's something the Gore campaign very much wants to get out on the table as they try to convings the country Al Gore's not who they think he is.
SHAW: Wolf, you're closer to the stage than we are.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: There she is, Tipper Gore. She's obviously exhilarated. She's very excited, introduced by her daughter, Kristin. We know that she's going to be speaking shortly, and that when I spoke to her last night, I asked her if she was convinced that this was the most important speech ever that her husband ever gave. And she said, no, the eulogy that he delivered for his father was the most important speech he ever delivered, and she's trying to keep the speech tonight into some sort of perspective, not trying to make it seem all that important, although she realizes, as does everyone else, this is going to be a powerful speech.
SHAW: Clearly, she is enjoying this. She is in no hurry.
WOODRUFF: A unique introduction, you might say, for the wife of the nominee.
SHAW: This woman knows who she is.
AUDIENCE: Tipper rocks. Tipper rocks. Tipper rocks.
TIPPER GORE, VICE PRESIDENT GORE'S WIFE: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
I want to thank you, Kristin. Your dad and I are very proud of you. Thank you very much.
And hello, Tennessee.
It's great. Thank you. Thank you. We love you all. Thank you.
As you might have guessed, tonight is a very special night for our family. After almost 25 years in public service fighting for America's working families, Al will accept the Democratic Party's nomination for president of the United States.
Many of you know that faith and family are at the center of Al's life. Many of you know Al to be a decisive leader with strong values, deeply held convictions, and a steadfast commitment to making the American dream a reality for all our people.
But I also want you to know that as a husband, father and grandfather Al has always been there for our family, and he will always be there for your family.
During this campaign you have graciously invited Al and me into your homes and communities, and you've talked to us about your lives and your hopes and your dreams for the future.
Now this evening, I want to share with you a little bit more about Al and the life of our family. Now, I'm going to do it in a way that I know best: through pictures that I've taken over the 30 years of our life together.
Now, I know some of you are saying, "Please, not the family photo album."
But for those of you sprinting for the door, stay just a little while, and see the man I love in a way that you may not have seen him before.
And listen, did I mention I have loved him for more than 30 years? And yes, from first sight. So let's look.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE, DNC VIDEO)
T. GORE (voice-over): When I was 16, I met Al at a party after his graduation prom. Remember formal dresses and corsages? We had come with different dates but wound up hitting it off better with each other. I remember right from the start, he was a good listener, and he had the most intense and beautiful blue eyes. He called me the next day, and soon we began to fall in love.
When Al went to Harvard as a freshman, I traveled there with my grandmother to see him a couple of times. He had a great group of friends who remain close today.
I also went to his home in Tennessee. I met his friends there, and for the first time, his sister, Nancy, a beautiful woman with a wit to match, and his mother, Pauline, one of the first women to graduate from Vanderbilt Law School and still one of the wisest women I know -- those strong, intelligent, independent women who I think gave Al an early and lasting respect for women and their views.
It was the late '60s, an exciting time, a time of change.
REV. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR., CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Great God Almighty, we are free at last.
T. GORE: And controversy. We certainly were touched by it. But we also had a lot of fun, riding on his motorcycle, going to the teach, going to concerts, just falling in love and enjoying the way the world around you just fades away when you are only focused on each other.
But soon Al faced the most important decision of his young life, Vietnam. We opposed the war, but for Al, as for many people, it was complicated. Al knew that if he didn't go, then someone else from Carthage could go in his place, so he did something I remain so proud of today. He decided to enlist in the Army. One night that spring, we went for a long walk on the banks of the Charles River, and Al asked me to marry him. On May 19, 1970, I married Private Albert Gore, Jr.
After our honeymoon, we moved into our first home in a trailer park near Fort Lucker (ph), Alabama, with other service families. I soon learned about life on the base, and I learned the hard way. Like, when I hung the laundry out and a helicopter blew it all down, and I had to wash it all over again. Once.
At the same time as Al and I were starting our life together, his father was facing a tough reelection campaign. Senator Gore was a man of get principle who had opposed the war and supported civil rights. He was not only Al's father, he was his hero. In November, his father lost, and it was tough for our whole family.
Just seven weeks later, during Christmas break, he was due to leave for Vietnam. Al was an Army journalist in the field, and like all wartime wives, I worried, especially because the mail was so slow and unreliable.
Every night, I prayed for his safe return.
The summer he came home, we took a camping trip across America from Nashville to Yosemite National Park here in California. We had a great time, but I could tell Al was someplace else. His father's defeat and the war had made him question old assumptions. Politics was the last thing on his mind.
Back in Nashville, Al went to the graduate school of religion at Vanderbilt and started out as a reporter at "The Nashville Tennessean." He worked his way up to writing editorials.
Karenna was born in 1973. Al took some time off to stay with us. And by the way, he treated me like a queen.
It was a special time in our lives. We bought a small farm in Carthage right across the river from Al's parents. I went to work for "The Tennessean" as a photographer. Al and I even worked on a couple of stories together, my pictures, his words.
Then one Friday morning, the editor of "The Tennessean" called us at home to say that the local congressman was retiring. We spent the weekend thinking about it.
I think Al's work as a journalist gave him the sense that if people got involved, it could make things better. His idealism was tempered but still strong.
A. GORE: I believe that with your help, I can make a difference.
T. GORE: Al announced his candidacy on Monday, and we hit the campaign trail. We tried to meet every person who could cast a vote, and I mean every person, no matter what it took. I sure wish we could do that this year.
It was a tough campaign, but late on primary night, as the last votes were counted, Al won.
A. GORE: I'm going to take Tennessee ideas to Washington and put them to work for this country.
T. GORE: That campaign marked the beginning of Al's public life, 24 years as a congressman, senator, and vice president.
A. GORE: We will make democracy work the way it's supposed to.
T. GORE: I believe Al's leadership style was formed early on in the hundreds of open meetings he held in Tennessee.
A. GORE: We can glimpse the future in the hearts and minds of Tennesseans.
T. GORE: He listened to his constituents' concerns. He took them back to Washington, and he made the system respond to them. He took on powerful interests and held the first hearings on protecting families from toxic waste, the beginning of his commitment to the environment.
A. GORE: We have to accept responsibility for choosing the destiny of America.
T. GORE: Meanwhile, Al and I were raising our family through these years. After Al went to Congress, our daughters Kristin and Sarah were born, followed by our son, Albert.
Family vacations were a very special time, and he enjoyed them as much as the kids did.
Al always worked long hours, but as busy as he was, he put his family first. One year I remember Al going to Speaker Tip O'Neill and saying, "Sir, you scheduled votes on Halloween night." The speaker just looked back at him, and Al said, "Well, there are a lot of us with kids who want to take them trick-or-treating." The speaker realized how important this was to Al and other young parents in Congress, and he changed the schedule.
With an even busier schedule today, he still manages to make time for Halloween.
Eleven years ago, our family life was shaken to its core when a car struck our son, Albert, after a baseball game. With support and prayers from people all across America, our entire family helped him get well. I will never forget the kindness of senators and their wives who visited and prayed for Albert's recovery.
It was the hardest time in my life. I talked with Al, with my friends, and with mental health professionals. And I realized that I was suffering from clinical depression. I got help, and it worked. And Al was there for me and our family, day after day, every step of the way.
We know the shame and the pain so many other American families have faced with this illness, and we want you to know you're not alone. People care. Professionals can help.
We'd always been a close family, but after the accident we saw more clearly how precious we are to each other. We made sure we made time for the little things, like baseball, soccer, and lacrosse games.
In recent years, Al spent months training to run the Marine Corps marathon with our daughters, and then climbed Mount Ranier with our son. And you should see Al with our first grandson, Wyatt -- who, by the way, was born on the Fourth of July.
A year and a half ago, Al lost his father. I wish his father could be here to see his son accept your nomination. I know how proud he'd be, not just of his son's sense of duty and love of country, but for his dedication as a husband, father, and grandfather.
You see, to me, what is most important is that with all the past accomplishments and future promises, he's still the man I fell in love with in high school 30 years ago.
T. GORE: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome my husband, our next president of the United States, Al Gore.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And here comes Al Gore waving to the crowd, as pennants fly around the stadium all saying, "Gore," people reaching out to shake his hand, cameras all along the way, snapping his picture, big smile on the man's face. You can see him walking through the aisles there that they've had to struggle to keep clear this evening to make way for him. This is it, this is a big night -- this is the time when Al Gore can reach out to the American public and try to persuade them that he is the man they should elect as the next presidents of the United States.
The crowd is watching all of this on a big screen, and they're loving every minute, screaming, yelling, tossing those pennants and those American flags around and hollering for their guy, Al Gore.
GREENFIELD: The vice president coming up from the crowd instead of from that stage, the way the president did a few nights ago, but the way Bill Clinton did into Madison Square Garden eight years ago.
SHAW: Finally Al Gore tonight having the sense of being his own man. He will stress that point in his speech tonight, this much- awaited acceptance speech.
WOODRUFF: And for all the talk and the speculation about divisions among these Democrats at this convention, about people who may or may not like -- agree with his choice for vice president, Joe Lieberman, tonight, they are together for him, 52-year-old Albert Arnold Gore Jr.
GREENFIELD: When picked as vice president, his father, a former senator, who himself had national admissions, said we raised him for this. And now the son of a former senator will face off against a son of a former president to see who wins the White House.
SHAW: The symbolism of these white pennants with the simple letters G-O-R-E remind you of college days, old college football pennants, thousands of them being waved by supporters in this hall. [
WOODRUFF: And you know, Jeff, the Gore family says, when you ask them about was he groomed to be president, they say, oh no, not in the way that you suggest. But clearly, there was talk about it back then.
GREENFIELD: The day he was born, his father made sure that picture of a newborn was on front page of the biggest newspaper in Tennessee.
SHAW: He has worked for months on the address he is preparing to make here at the Staples Center, literally for months -- on the airplane -- Air Force II -- in cars, at home.
WOODRUFF: Let's see, is that a first, to have the nominee arrive through the delegates?
GREENFIELD: We'll find out.
AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much. Thank you.
Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you.
Thank you. Thank you.
I speak tonight of gratitude, achievement and high hopes for our country. Tonight, I think first of those who helped me get here, starting with the people of Tennessee...
... and then those who braved the first snows of Iowa and New Hampshire...
... and all of you here from all over this country who have come with me into the warm sunlight of this great city. While I can't thank each of you individually in words, I do so in my heart. And I know you won't mind if I single out someone who has just spoken so eloquently, someone I've loved with my whole heart since the night of my high school senior prom, my wife Tipper.
(APPLAUSE) We've been lucky enough to find each other all over again at each new stage of our lives, and we just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary.
I want to acknowledge with great pride our four children: Kristin, Sarah and Albert, our oldest daughter Karenna and her husband Drew, and the youngest member of our family, who a little over a year ago was born on the Fourth of July, our grandson Wyatt, and my brother-in-law Frank Hunger.
(APPLAUSE) I am honored tonight by the support of a leader of high ideals and fundamental decency who will be an important part of our country's future, Senator Bill Bradley.
Thank you, Bill.
Thank you, Bill, for your focus on campaign finance reform and civil rights and ending child poverty.
There's someone else who will shape that future, a leader of character and courage, a defender of the environment and working families, the next vice president of the United States of America, Joe Lieberman.
AUDIENCE: Joe. Joe. Joe.
And Hadassah and their wonderful family.
I picked Joe for one simple reason: He's the best person for the job.
For almost eight years now, I've been the partner of a leader who moved us out of the valley of recession and into the longest period of prosperity in American history. I say to you tonight, millions of Americans will live better lives for a long time to come because of the job that's been done by President Bill Clinton.
Instead of the biggest deficits in history, we now have the biggest surpluses, the highest home ownership ever, the lowest inflation in a generation, and instead of losing jobs, we now have 22 million good new jobs, higher family incomes.
Above all, our success comes from you the people who have worked hard for your families. But let's not forget that a few years ago you were also working hard. But your hard work then, was undone by a government that didn't work, didn't put people first, and wasn't on your side. Together, we changed things to help unleash your potential, and unleash innovation and investment in the private sector, the engine that drives our economic growth. And our progress on the economy is a good chapter in our history.
But now we turn the page and write a new chapter. And that's what I want to speak about tonight. This election is not an award for past performance. I'm not asking you to vote for me on the basis of the economy we have. Tonight I ask for your support on the basis of the better, fairer, more prosperous America we can build together.
Together, let's make sure that our prosperity enriches not just the few, but all working families.
Let's invest in health care, education, a secure retirement and middle-class tax cuts.
I'm happy that the stock market has boomed and so many businesses and new enterprises have done well. This country is richer and stronger. But my focus is on working families, people trying to make house payments and car payments, working overtime to save for college and do right by their kids.
Whether you're in a suburb or an inner city, whether you raise crops or drive hogs and cattle on a farm, drive a big rig on the interstate or drive e-commerce on the Internet, whether you're starting out to raise your own family or getting ready to retire after a lifetime of hard work, so often powerful forces and powerful interests stand in your way and the odds seem stacked against you, even as you do what's right for you and your family.
How and what we do for all of you, the people who pay the taxes, bear the burdens and live the American dream, that is the standard by which we should be judged. And for all of our good times, I am not satisfied. To all the families in America...
To all the families in America who have to struggle to afford the right education and the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs, I want you to know this: I've taken on the powerful forces, and as president, I'll stand up to them and I'll stand up for you.
To all the families -- to all the families who are struggling with things that money can't measure, like trying to find a little more time to spend with your children or protecting your children from entertainment that you think glorifies violence and indecency, I want you to know I believe we must challenge a culture with too much meanness and not enough meaning.
And as president, I will stand with you for a goal we all share -- to give more power back to the parents. To choose what your own children are exposed to, so you can pass on your family's basic lessons of responsibility and decency. The power should be in your hands. The future should belong to everyone in this land -- everyone, all families. We could squander this moment, but our country would be the poorer for it. Instead, let's lift our eyes and see how wide the American horizon has become. We're entering a new time. We're electing a new president. And I stand here tonight as my own man.
And I want you to know me for who I truly am.
I grew up in a wonderful family. I have a lot to be thankful for. And the greatest gift my parents gave me was love. When I was a child, it never once occurred to me that the foundation upon which my security depended would ever shake.
And of all the lessons my parents taught me, the most powerful one was unspoken: The way they loved one another. My father respected my mother as an equal, if not more. She was his best friend, and in many ways, his conscience.
And I learned from them the value of a true, loving partnership that lasts for life. They simply couldn't imagine being without each other, and for 61 years they were by each others' side.
My parents taught me that the real values in life aren't material, but spiritual. They include faith and family, duty and honor...
... and trying to make the world a better place.
I finished college at a time when all that seemed to be in doubt and our nation's spirit was being depleted. We saw the assassination of our best leaders, appeals to racial backlash, and the first warning signs of Watergate.
I remember the conversations I had with Tipper back them, and the doubts we had about the Vietnam War. But I enlisted in the Army, because I knew if I didn't go, someone else in the small town of Carthage, Tennessee, would have to go in my place.
I was an Army reporter in Vietnam. When I was there I didn't do the most or run the gravest danger, but I was proud to wear my country's uniform.
Let me tell you, when I came home, running for office was the very last thing I ever thought I would do. I studied religion at Vanderbilt and worked nights as a police reporter at the Nashville Tennessean. And I saw more of what could go wrong in America, not only on the police beat but as an investigative reporter covering local government.
I also saw so much of what could go right: citizens lifting up local communities, family by family, block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, in churches and charities, on school boards and city councils.
And then, Tipper and I started our own family. And when our first daughter, Karenna, was born, I began to see the future through a fresh set of eyes. I know a lot of you have had that feeling, too. And I decided I couldn't turn away from service at home any more than I could have turned away from service in Vietnam.
That's why I ran for Congress.
In my first term, a family in Hardeman County, Tennessee, wrote a letter and told how worried they were that toxic waste, a lot of it, had been dumped near their home. I held some of the first hearings on the issue, and ever since I've been there in the fight against the big polluters.
Our children should not have to draw the breath of life in cities awash in pollution.
When they come in from playing on a hot summer afternoon, every child in America, anywhere in America ought to be able to turn on the faucet and get a glass of safe, clean drinking water.
On the issue of the environment, I've never given up. I've never backed down and I never will.
And I say it again tonight: We must reverse the silent rising tide of global warming, and we can.
In the Senate and as the vice president, I fought for welfare reform. Over and over again I talked to folks who told me how they were trapped in the old welfare system.
I saw what it did to families. So I fought to end welfare as we then knew it, to help those in trouble but to insist on work and responsibility.
Others talked about welfare reform. We actually reformed welfare and set time limits. Instead of handouts, we gave people training to go from welfare to work. And we have cut the welfare rolls in half and moved millions into good jobs.
And it's helped lift them up.
For almost 25 years now, I've been fighting for people. And for all that time, I've been listening to people, holding open meetings in the places where they live and work. And do you know what? I've learned a lot. And if I'm you're president, I'm going to keep on having open meetings all over this country. I'm going to go out to you, the people, because I want to stay in touch with your hopes, with the quiet everyday heroism of working families.
And because I've learned that the issues before us, the problems and the policies all have names. And I don't mean the big, fancy names that we put on programs and legislation. I'm talking about family names like Nystul (ph), Johnson, Gutierrez (ph) and Malone, people and families I've met in the last year all across this country, and here's what they told me.
I met Mildred Nystul in Waterloo, Iowa. Because of our welfare reform, she has left welfare and found a good job training electricians. And she's become a proud member of IBEW Local 288. Now...
Now, she dreams of sending her daughter Irene to college. Mildred Nystul is here with us tonight, and I say to her, I will fight for a targeted affordable tax cut to help working families save and pay for college.
They need help. And we'll give it to them. It's the key to our future.
I met Jacqueline Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri. She worked for 35 years as a medical assistant, caring for others. Now she's 72 years old and needs prescription medicines to care for herself. She spends over half of her Social Security check -- her only source of income -- on her pills.
So she either skips meals, or shops for bargains at a wholesale food store and buys macaroni and cheese dinners in bulk, and then has them at every meal. I invited her here tonight. And Mrs. Johnson, I promise you once again, I will fight for a prescription drug benefit for all seniors under Medicare.
It's just wrong for seniors to have to choose between food and medicine while the big drug companies run up record profits.
That is wrong.
I met George and Juanita Gutierrez in San Antonio, Texas.
Their daughter Katarina (ph) has just started the fourth grade at Davy Crockett Elementary School. The school building is crumbling and overcrowded, with cracked walls and peeling plaster. Trailers cover the playground where the kids used to spend recess. The Gutierrez family is here tonight, and I tell them again, I will fight to rebuild and modernize crumbling schools and reduce class size. We need to put safety, discipline and character first in every classroom.
AUDIENCE: Go, Al, go. Go, Al, go. Go, Al, go. Go, Al, go. Go, Al, go.
GORE: Are you with me?
AUDIENCE: Go, Al, go. Go, Al, go. Go, Al, go.
GORE: Education -- education may be a local responsibility, but I believe it also has to be our number-one national priority. We can't stop until every school in America is a good place to get a good education.
And I will never forget a little boy named Ian Malone, who suffered from a medical mistake during childbirth and needs full-time nursing care for several years. I met him and his parents in Seattle near Everett, Washington, their home, and their HMO had told the Malones that it would no longer pay for the nurse they needed and then actually told them they should consider giving Ian up for adoption.
That's when his mom and dad got really mad. They told their story in public, and the HMO was embarrassed. Because they fought for their baby, today Ian has the care he needs to stay alive. But no family in America should have to go on national television to save their child's life.
You know... (APPLAUSE)
Dylan (ph) and Christine Malone are here with us tonight. Ian's here, too. And I say to them, and to all the families of America, I will fight for a real, enforceable patients' bill of rights.
It's just wrong to have life-and-death medical decisions made by bean-counters at HMOs, who don't have a license to practice medicine, and don't have a right to play God. It's time to take the medical decisions away from the HMOs and insurance companies and give them back to the doctors and the nurses and the health care professionals.
Let's make that a bipartisan issue.
So this is not just an election between my opponent and me, it's about our people, our families and our future, and whether forces standing in your way will keep you from living a better life.
To me, this election is about Mildred Nystul, Jacqueline Johnson, Katarina Gutierrez, Ian Malone (ph). It's about millions of Americans whose names we may never know, but whose needs and dreams must always be our calling.
And so, here tonight, in the name of all the working families who are the strength and soul of America, I accept your nomination for president of the United States of America.
I'm here to talk seriously about the issues. I believe people deserve to know specifically what a candidate proposes to do. I intend to tell you tonight.
You ought to be able to know and then judge for yourself. If you entrust me with the presidency, I will put our democracy back in your hands and get all the special interest money, all of it, out of our democracy by enacting campaign finance reform.
I feel so strongly about this, I promise you that campaign finance reform will be the very first bill that Joe Lieberman and I send to the United States Congress.
Let others try to restore the old guard. We come to this convention as the change we wish to see in America.
And what are those changes? At a time when most Americans will live to know even their great grandchildren, we will save and strengthen Social Security and Medicare, not only for this generation but for generations to come. At a time of almost unimaginable medical breakthroughs, we will fight for affordable health care for all, so patients end ordinary people are not left powerless and broke. We will move toward universal health coverage, step by step, starting with all children.
Let's get all children covered by 2004.
... and let's move to the day when we, at long last, end the stigma of mental illness and treat it like every other illness everywhere in this nation.
And I thank you, Tipper, for leading the way.
Within the next few years, scientists will identify the genes that cause every type of cancer. We need a national commitment equal to the promise of this unequaled moment.
So we will double the federal investment in medical research. We will find new medicines and new cures not just for cancer but for everything from diabetes to HIV/AIDS.
At a time when there is more computer power in a Palm Pilot than in the spaceship that took Neil Armstrong to the moon, we will offer all our people lifelong learning and new skills for the higher-paying jobs of the future.
At a time when the amount of human knowledge is doubling every five years, and science and technology are advancing so rapidly, we will do bold things to make our schools the best in the world. I will fight for the greatest single commitment to education since the G.I. Bill.
(APPLAUSE) For revolutionary improvements in our schools, for higher standards and more accountability, to put fully qualified teachers in every classroom, test all new teachers and give teachers the training and professional development they deserve. It's time to treat and reward teachers like the professionals they are.
It's not just about more money. It's about higher standards, accountability, new ideas.
But we can't do it without new resources, and that's why I will invest far more in our schools. In the long run, a second-class education always costs more than a first-class education. And I will not go along with any plan that would drain taxpayer money away from our public schools and give it to private schools in the form of vouchers.
This nation was a pioneer of universal public education. Now, let's set a specific new goal for the first decade of the 21st century: high-quality, universal pre-school, available to every child in every family, all across this nation.
And, let's give middle-class families help in paying for college with tax-free college savings, and by making most college tuition tax deductible. Open the doors of learning to all.
And all of this...
AUDIENCE: Go, Al, go. Go, Al, go. Go, Al, go. Go, Al, go. Go, Al, go.
GORE: All of this -- all of this is the change we wish to see in America.
Not so long ago, a balanced budget seemed impossible. Now our budget surpluses make it possible to give a full range of targeted tax cuts to working families; not just to help you save for college, but to pay for health insurance and child care, to reform the estate tax so people can pass on a small business or a family farm, and to end the marriage penalty the right way, the fair way...
... because we should not force couples to pay more in income taxes just because they're married.
(APPLAUSE) But let me say it plainly: I will not go along with a huge tax cut for the wealthy at the expense of everyone else and wreck our good economy in the process.
Let me tell you, under the tax plan the other side has proposed, for every $10 that goes to the wealthiest 1 percent, middle-class families would get one dime, and lower-income families would get one penny.
In fact -- in fact, if you add it up, the average family would get about enough money to buy one extra Diet Coke a week, about -- it's not nothing. About 62 cents in change. But let me tell you, that's not the kind of change I'm working for.
I'll fight for tax cuts that go to the right people, to the working families who have the toughest time paying taxes and saving for the future.
I'll fight for a new tax-free way to help you save and build a bigger nest egg for your retirement. I'm talking about something extra that you can save and invest for yourself, something that will supplement Social Security, not be subtracted from it.
But I will not go along with any proposal to strip $1 out of every $6 dollars from the Social Security Trust Fund and privatize the Social Security that you're counting on.
That's Social Security minus. Our plan is Social Security plus.
We will balance the budget every year and dedicate the budget surplus first to saving Social Security.
In the next four years, we will pay off all the national debt this nation accumulated in our first 200 years. This will put us on the path to completely eliminating the debt by 2012, keeping America prosperous far into the future.
There's something else at stake in this election that's even more important than economic progress. Simply put, it's our values. It's our responsibility to our loved ones, to our families.
And to me, family values means honoring our fathers and mothers, teaching our children well, caring for the sick, respecting one another, giving people the power to achieve what they want for their families, putting both Social Security and Medicare in an iron- clad lockbox where the politicians can't touch them. To me, that kind of common sense is a family value.
Hands off Medicare and Social Security trust fund money. I'll veto anything that spends it for anything other than Social Security and Medicare.
Getting cigarettes out of the hands of kids before they get hooked is a family value.
I will crack down on the marketing of tobacco to our children, no matter how hard the tobacco companies lobby and no matter how much they spend.
A new prescription drug benefit under Medicare for all our seniors, that's a family value. And let me tell you, I'll fight for it and the other side will not. They give in to the big drug companies. Their plan tells seniors to beg the HMOs and insurance companies for prescription drug coverage.
And that's the difference in this election. They're for the powerful. We're for the people.
Judge for yourself. Look at the agendas. Look at the facts.
Big tobacco, big oil, the big polluters, the pharmaceutical companies, the HMOs, sometimes you have to be willing to stand up and say no, so families can have a better life.
I know one thing about the job of the president: It is the only job in the Constitution that is charged with the responsibility of fighting for all the people, not just the people of one state or one district, not just the wealthy or the powerful, all the people; especially those who need a voice, those who need a champion, those who need to be lifted up, so they are never left behind.
I say to you tonight, if you entrust me with the presidency, I will fight for you.
I mean that with all my heart.
AUDIENCE: Go Al, go. Go Al, go. Go Al, go. Go Al, go. Go Al, go.
GORE: There's one other word that we've heard a lot of in this campaign, and that word is "honor." To me, honor is not just a word, but an obligation. And you have my word: We will honor hard work by raising the minimum wage so that work always pays more than welfare.
We will honor families by expanding child care and after-school care, and family and medical leave, so working families have the help they need to care for their children, because one of the most important jobs of all is raising our children.
And we'll support the right of parents to decide that one of them will stay home longer with their babies, if that's what they believe is best for their families.
We will honor the ideal of equality by standing up for civil rights and defending affirmative action.
We will honor -- we will honor equal rights, and we will fight for an equal day's pay for an equal day's work.
And let there be no doubt. I will protect and defend a woman's right to choose. The last thing this country needs is a Supreme Court that overturns Roe v. Wade.
We will remove all the old barriers so that those who are called disabled can develop all their abilities. And we will also widen the circle of opportunity for all Americans. And we will vigorously enforce all our civil rights laws with the budgets and personnel that are necessary.
And hear me well: We will pass the Employment Non- Discrimination act.
And we will honor the memory of Matthew Shepard, and Joseph Ileto, and James Byrd, whose families all joined us this week, by passing a law against hate crimes. (APPLAUSE)
They are different. We need to embody our values in that new law. It's time.
We will honor the hard work of raising a family, by doing all we can to help parents protect their children. Parents deserve the simple security of knowing that their children are safe, whether they're walking down the street, surfing the World Wide Web, or sitting behind a desk in school.
To make families safer, we passed the toughest crime bill in history, and we're putting 100,000 new community police on our streets. Crime has fallen in every major category for seven years in a row. But there's still too much danger, and there's still too much fear. So, tonight, I want to set another new specific goal: to cut the crime rate every year, year after year, all the way to the end of this decade, every single year.
That's why I'll fight to add another 50,000 new police.
Community police. Prevention. Community police who help prevent crime by establishing real relationships between law enforcement and neighborhood residents. Which, incidentally, is the opposite of racial profiling, which must be brought to an end throughout the criminal justice system.
And community policing and prevention is one of the keys. I will fight for a crime victims' bill of rights, including a constitutional amendment, to make sure that victims and not just criminals are guaranteed rights in our justice system.
I'll fight to toughen penalties on those who misuse the Internet to prey on our children and violate our privacy.
And I'll fight to make every school in this nation drug free and gun free.
I believe in the right of sportsmen and hunters and law-abiding citizens to own firearms. But I want mandatory background checks to keep guns away from criminals and mandatory child-safety locks to protect our children.
(APPLAUSE) Tipper and I went out to Columbine High School after the tragedy there, and we embraced the families of the children who were lost. And I will never forget the words of the father who whispered into my ear, promise me that these children will not have died in vain.
All of us must join together to make that promise come true. Laws and programs by themselves will never be enough. All of us, especially all parents, need to take more responsibility. We need to change our hearts and make a commitment to our children and to one another.
We need to lift up the meaning in their lives.
You know, I am excited about America's prospects and full of hope for America's future. Our country has come a long way. And I've come a long way since that long ago time when I went to Vietnam. And I've never forgotten what I saw there and the bravery of so many young Americans.
The price of freedom is sometimes high. But I've never believed that America should turn inward. As a senator, I broke with many in our party and voted to support the Gulf War when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait because I believed America's vital interest were at stake.
Early in my public service, I took up the issue of nuclear arms control and nuclear weapons because nothing is more fundamental than protecting our national security.
Now I want to lead America because I love America. I will keep America's defenses strong. I will make sure our armed forces continue to be the best equipped, best trained and best led in the entire world.
They are now, and they will be.
In the last century, this nation more than any other, freed the world from fascism and communism, but a newly freed world still has dangers and challenges, both old and new. We must always have the will to defend our enduring interests, from Europe to the Middle East to Japan and Korea. We must strengthen our partnerships with Africa, Latin America and the rest of the developing world.
We must confront the new challenges of terrorism, new kinds of weapons of mass destruction, global environmental problems, and new diseases that know no national boundaries and can threaten national security. We must welcome and promote truly free trade. But I say to you: It must be fair trade. We must get standards, we must set standards to end child labor to prevent the exploitation of workers, and the poisoning of the environment.
Free trade can and must be, and if I'm president will be, a way to lift everyone up, not bring anyone down to the lowest common denominator.
So those are the issues, and that's where I stand.
But I also want to tell you just a little more about two of my greatest heroes, my father and my mother.
They did give me a good life. But like so many in America, they started out with almost nothing. My father grew up in a small community named Possum Hollow in middle Tennessee. When he was just 18, he went to work as a teacher in a one-room school. Then the Great Depression came along and taught him a lesson that couldn't be found in any classroom.
He told me and my sister often how he watched grown men with wives and children they could neither feed nor clothe on farms they could no longer pay for. My father didn't know whether he could help those families, but he believed he had to try. And never in the years to come, in Congress and in the United States Senate, did he lose sight of the reason he entered public service: to fight for the people, not the powerful.
My mother grew up in a poor farming community in northwest Tennessee. Her family ran a small country store in Cold Corner, a store that went bust during the Great Depression. She worked her way through college. Then she got a room in Nashville at the YWCA and waited tables at an all-night coffee shop for 25 cent tips. She then went on to become on of the first women in history to graduate from Vanderbilt Law School.
As Tipper told you, we lost my dad a year and a half ago, but we're so lucky that my mother Pauline continues to be part of our lives every single day. She is here tonight.
Sometimes in this campaign, when I visit a school and see a hard- working teacher trying to change the world one child at a time, I see the face of my father. And I know that teaching our children well is not just a teacher's job, it's everyone's job, and it has to be our national mission. I've shaken hands in diners and coffee shops all across this country. And sometimes when I see a waitress working hard and thanking someone for a tip, I see the face of my mother. And I know, for that waitress carrying trays or a construction worker in the winter cold, I will never agree to raise the retirement age to 70 or threaten the promise of Social Security.
It's just not fair to them and I won't do it.
I say to you tonight, we've got to win this election because every hard-working American family deserves to open the door to their dream.
In our democracy, the future is not something that just happens to us, it's something that we make for ourselves together. So to the young people watching tonight, I say this is your time to make new the life of our world.
We need your help to rekindle the spirit of America. Believe in our country. We believe in you.
And I ask all of you, my fellow citizens, from this city, that marked both the end of America's journey westward and the beginning of the New Frontier, let us set out on a new journey to the best America, a new journey on which we advance not by the turning of wheels, but by the turning of our minds, the reach of our vision, the daring grace of the human spirit.
Yes, we have our problems, but the United States of America is the best country ever created and still, as ever, the hope of humankind.
Yes, we're all imperfect, but as Americans we share in the privilege and challenge of building a more perfect union.
I know my own imperfections. For example, I know that sometimes people say I'm too serious, that I talk too much substance and policy. Maybe I've done that tonight.
But the presidency...
GORE: But the presidency is more than a popularity contest, it's a day-by-day fight for people.
Sometimes you have to choose to do what's difficult or unpopular. Sometimes you have to be willing to spend your popularity in order to pick the hard right over the easy wrong.
GORE: There are big choices ahead and our whole future is at stake. And I do have strong beliefs about it.
If you entrust me with the presidency, I know I won't always be the most exciting politician. But I pledge to you tonight, I will work for you every day, and I will never let you down.
If we allow ourselves to believe without reservation that we can do what's right and be the better for it, then the best America will be our America.
In this City of Angels, we can summon the better angels of our nature. Do not rest where we are or retreat, do all we can to make America all it can become.
Thank you. God bless you. God bless America.
SHAW: Al Gore putting himself on, to use a metaphor, he put himself on cruise control and he covered a long road of issues tonight.
WOODRUFF: You know, George W. Bush said at his convention: They have not led, we will. Al Gore, without saying it, in those words tonight was saying: We've led, but I have places I want to take you beyond where we are right now.
GREENFIELD: A really interesting amalgam, Judy and Bernie, a speech that began by getting President Clinton metaphorically off the stage, telling us it was time to turn the page, borrowing a line from Bush's 1988 speech saying: Now you must see me as I am, and then switching almost into a State of the Union speech, issue by issue, very much like Clinton has done over the last few year, even to the heroes in the audience.
WOODRUFF: Very much like a State of the Union Address. Four people -- and it's interesting -- we sat here tonight and looked at the states: Texas, Iowa, Missouri. These are states that are important to the Democrats. Texas they have probably have no hope of winning.
GREENFIELD: But they cited the crumbling schools in Texas maybe to make a point about Governor Bush.
SHAW: I was fascinated by the way he mechanically got through this speech. And he told the audience, he said: These are issues and this is where I stand. But do you notice, he used a very quickened speaking pace, taking command what he had to say, because he did not want to seem boring. And he got through it very, very quickly.
WOODRUFF: He stepped on his -- you know, some of were saying: Oh, he is stepping on the applause. But in fact, I think it was intentional.
GREENFIELD: Quite deliberate. He knows the audience at home can hear it. He never raised the cadence of his voice into that high pitch. And he did something called -- that I like to call political judo. He pointed to what people consider his weakness: his lack of polarity, his seriousness, his lack of excitement and he said -- he didn't deny it -- he said: Yes, I may not be exciting, but I'm going to fight for you. Sometimes you have to spend your popularity.
I think you said, Judy, that it's something that he had to do tonight to address straight up the fear that maybe on personality and character groups, he had not the advantage.
WOODRUFF: The other thing he did not do was name George W. Bush. The most he ever said was the other side, whereas George Bush, in his speech, talked about the Clinton-Gore administration.
Candy Crowley, down on the floor.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, we're at that point in the convention where you cannot hear anything for the roar of the crowd. You cannot see anything with all the balloons. They have really gridlock on this floor, people pushing -- crammed sort of against the back of the stage -- not anything a fire marshal would like, but these are very happy people here. As you walk -- or push through the crowd -- what you hear is: It's a perfect speech.
This, of course, is the hometown crowd, the choir as it were, but they are very happy with this and feel that he has accomplished his mission. Back to the booth.
WOODRUFF: We just looked at Albert Gore III saying to his father: Dad, I'm proud of you.
Wolf Blitzer, you are at the podium.
BLITZER: Deluged by balloons over here on the podium, like everyone else. It is pretty packed right now as the family is up here. They're getting ready for a huge, huge class photo, if you will. All various factions of the Democratic Party are standing on both sides of this podium, about to go out there, take those pictures that they want to show this party is totally unified.
I was struck during this speech by some of the traditional Democratic positions that Vice President Gore enunciated -- not so much the new Democrat or centrist positions, but the old-fashioned Democrat positions, making it clear there's no room for vouchers, no room to raise the age for Social Security to 70 something, as some new Democrats are proposing and he also said: Not only don't end, don't mend it when it comes to affirmative action. But he said no change on affirmative action whatsoever.
Back to the booth.
GREENFIELD: In fact, you could almost consider this Clinton's third term State of the Union: that, while having said he turned the page, it would be very hard to find any substantive difference between what Clinton said over the years and Gore, Judy.
WOODRUFF: But I don't think the Gore people have argued that there is great disagreement with Bill Clinton. The difference, they would say, is in tone, and the difference is in Al Gore's focus on the future. In fact, Bill Clinton told us on Monday night no one I know understands the future better than Al Gore. Let's go down to the floor and to...
SHAW: John King.
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it's an interesting point you are making. Never before, have you heard a stay-the-course speech in which the politician uses the word change so many times -- Al Gore promising to continue the policies of the Clinton administration, but also promising a number of change. He mentioned the word values quite a bit as well in this speech, targeted directly to some of the key constituencies in this election.
Independent voters care about the environment and campaign finance reform. The elderly, a constituency the Democrats count on in national politics, trending Republican in the last few years, he promised not to raise the retirement age, promised a Medicare prescription drug benefit. Suburban moms, the vice president speaking not only about guns, but also about values on the Internet and the things children see when they log onto the World Wide Web -- a good performance for Al Gore.
I have covered a lot of speeches. And as Bernie mentioned, he does have a tendency sometimes to speed it up when he is being applauded. It's an effect he uses quite often. The question is: Were voters open-minded to him? Back in '92, they had closed the door on George Bush. If they are still open-minded about Al Gore, he probably did himself some good tonight.
SHAW: Frank Sesno is also down there in this throng.
FRANK SESNO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bernie, the sea of delegates I'm the midst of really lit up with this speech tonight. And they -- as one of them leaned over to me midway through the speech and said: He's coming out of his shell. This is the personality. Now, whether that was, you know, something for my benefit or whether that was genuine, that is something we are going to have to judge as we go on.
But it was his constant references to fighting, to fighting for families, to fighting for real people, to fighting for the values that he says he stands for, to fighting the pharmaceutical companies and the big powers, the big interests, these were the things that drove this crowd at times to levels of applause he just talked right over. They would have done more. They would demonstrated enthusiasm even to a greater extent if he had slowed down or over given them the opportunity.
Fight is a political word. It was deliberate. It's been a part of his campaign all along. As we said at the start of the evening, he needed to address the two issues, the two "l's" rather, likability and leadership. That fight was to be connected to the leadership. That's what he intended. With this crowd anyway, it appears to have worked overwhelmingly.
WOODRUFF: It also worked very well, Frank, when he said: We've made progress on the economy. We have had a good chapter in our history. But now we turn the page and write a new chapter. He said: This election is not an award for past performance. I'm not asking to you vote for me on the base of the economy we have. I ask for your support on the basis of the better, fairer, more prosperous America we can build together. And he went on to say: For all of our good times, I am not satisfied.
GREENFIELD: He also used a line -- very similarly to what Ronald Reagan in '88 -- when he said: We are the change. That's another word for word almost borrowing, saying we're looking for the future.
SHAW: But looking at this picture, Joe Lieberman with Al Gore, I was roundly struck by Gore -- as they replay portions of his speech there above the podium...
GORE: ... are never left behind. So if I say you to tonight, if you entrust me with the presidency, I will fight for you.
SHAW: Of course.
WOODRUFF: Is this the first instant replay at a presidential nominating convention?
SHAW: If it's not, it should be. I was about to say that what struck me is that Al Gore mentioned President Clinton's name once in his prepared remarks, complimenting him and thanking him. But did you notice, did you hear towards the end, he said categorically: I will never let you down.
GREENFIELD: That's the closest we came to any reference to the events of the last couple of years. And once again, it's what a vice president has to do. You have to pay homage to a popular president in your party and get him off the stage.
WOODRUFF: He also said, Bernie, in reference to what you mentioned about Bill Clinton, he said: My parents taught me the real values in life are not material, but spiritual. They include faith and family, duty and honor, and trying to make the world a better place. That, I think, too, you could interpret. He is there now with Bill Bradley -- looks like they are loading everybody on that stage who has made a difference to Al Gore and can make a difference in getting him elected president.
GREENFIELD: When you -- we're going down to the floor to Jeanne Meserve.
MESERVE: Right, you heard him in that speech a mention not only of Bill Clinton, but also Bill Bradley, who of course fought for this presidential nomination unsuccessfully. He met with his delegates just this week and decided to release them. I will tell that you, up to the vote last night, it looked iffy as to whether Gore was going to get a unanimous vote here. I know that Bradley delegates up in the Vermont delegation held out for strong wording on campaign finance reform, saying that was a condition on their voting for Al Gore. In the end, they did.
They were running contrary to the wishes of Bill Bradley, who feels that this time it is best for this party and for this country if the Democrats unite and fight hard for the Gore-Lieberman ticket. He promises he'll be out there campaigning and working hard to get them elected.
Back to you.
GREENFIELD: I would point out one thing: This is calculated risk in the speech. Nixon said you campaign in poetry and govern in prose. And Al Gore said a few days ago he intended campaign in prose. It was a substantive speech. It did not mention the opposition. There was very little, too use the phrase that we have all used as a cliche, red meat.
WOODRUFF: But, and Jeff, he also said, at the end, he said: Maybe I was too substantive tonight. In fact, that was the only time the delegates said no. But for him, perhaps it was important to be himself and to do prose, to do substance.
GREENFIELD: This is who he has been. And I think we'll know in a few days that it was clearly a deliberate decision to say: We can't glitz this man up. It doesn't work. So he is going to be who he is, for better or worse.
SHAW: If you are just joining CNN's live coverage of the Democratic National Convention from Los Angeles, wherever you are in the United States or the world, this party's presidential nominee has completed his speech, and he hit a home run.
WOODRUFF: Phil Driscoll coming up with the Battle Hymn of the Republic.
WOODRUFF: I gave you the wrong information. I said Phil Driscoll with "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." This was clearly not that. But this is the information the Democrats gave us. We're just listening and enjoying as you are.
GREENFIELD: At Philadelphia, the Democrats were commenting on George W. Bush's speech before it was even finished. We have a statement here from Karen Hughes, who's the communications head of the Bush campaign. It's a short statement. Quote: "The working families of America will not be well-served by more fighting in Washington. Yet Vice President Gore tonight offered more of the same old language of class warfare, partisanship and division. Without intending to, he also offered a laundry list of the policy failures of his own administration: failing to provide prescription drug coverage for seniors, failing to enact the patients' bill of rights, to failing to enact public schools."
One sense is the Bush campaign have a few more things to say about this speech in the days to come.
To the floor -- to the podium actually, if you're there under all that balloons and confetti, Wolf Blitzer.
BLITZER: I can tell, Jeff, I can tell our viewers out there, I don't know if they can see all these balloons that are out here on the podium. I was on the podium at the Republican convention in Philadelphia, seemed to be a lot more balloons here, just informal, certainly not a very scientific assessment, but looks like there are more balloons here at the Democratic convention than there were at the Republican convention.
You know, some of Al Gore's advisers told him in going the speech, just let Al Gore be Al Gore, and you know what? He was Al Gore. This was the policy wonk, this is the substantive guy who wants to speak about all sorts of issues that we heard about tonight. He was certainly not someone trying to be someone else acknowledging his own, perhaps, political flaws as well.
Back to the booth.
WOODRUFF: Now to Jeanne Meserve and Wolf. We want to tell you that we're told that of the 150,000 balloons here that they are biodegradable -- Jeanne Meserve?
MESERVE: Well, I don't know if you have any statistics on the confetti, but I can tell you, there's a lot of it coming down in red, white and blue, all in littering fashion, coming down all over the delegates. There having a great time down here, waving their arms, waving their flags.
You know, there had been speculation early in the night would the news that a new grand jury had been impaneled to investigate President Clinton, would that put a damper on the celebration here tonight? It certainly wasn't mentioned from the podium. We never expected that it would be. But from what I can see down here on the floor, it hasn't dampened enthusiasm one little bit.
Back to you.
SHAW: Jeanne, you want a confetti statistic?
MESERVE: Do you have one for me?
SHAW: Yes, ma'am: 1,000 pounds of confetti, 50 percent of which are biodegradeable.
MESERVE: Well, I can tell you at least a pound must have fallen on me tonight.
SHAW: How about you John King? How much are you getting?
KING: Oh, I'm nearby Jeanne, so we're in about the same boat. The balloons are about thigh-high -- calf-high at the moment, I mean, on their way up maybe to waste-high or thigh-high they're coming down.
One interesting thing that struck me in the speech: The only direct reference to President Clinton came early when the vice president gave the president credit for the strong economy and said he believes millions of Americans who have gotten new jobs during this administration should thank the president.
But near the end of the speech, an indirect reference to the president when the vice president said -- quote -- "But I pledge to you tonight I will work for you every day and I will never let you down." That, an indirect reference to the fact that he believes one of the things he needs to make clear is that unlike President Clinton, if you elect Al Gore, you will have not only a continuation of his economic policies but none of the scandal, none of the personal misconduct that has plagued the Clinton administration.
SHAW: This confetti makes it appear to be somewhat of a winter wonderland, but this is a political wonderland among these Democrats on the floor.
Frank Sesno also is down there.
SESNO: Yes, you know, Bernie, I've been pondering how Al Gore handled his running mate Joe Lieberman, and to John's point, he did refer to Joe Lieberman as a man of character, and that certainly connects Joe Lieberman to something that the Gore campaign wants to connect him to, which is the issue of character, honor, and integrity.
But, at another point, Al Gore firmly ruled out raising the Social Security and Medicare eligibility age to 70. No way, no how, he said. Now you'll recall it was just last weekend on national television that Joe Lieberman, when asked about that because he -- he suggested that such a thing might need to be considered at some point in previous statements. He was asked again. He said, "Well, we need to leave that on the table."
So Gore is sending a firm message that it's not going to be Joe Lieberman's new demo -- Democrat principles. It's going to be the way Al Gore sees it on this one. It's very much a down-the-road, traditional Democrat position.
GREENFIELD: And given...
SESNO: Back to you in the booth.
GREENFIELD: And given the fact that one in nine delegates in this convention are from teachers' unions, it's not surprising that Al Gore also ruled out school vouchers that Joe Lieberman had suggested at one point.
CROWLEY: Hi, Jeff.
One of the things that sort of interested me in this whole thing was the portion on tax cuts when Gore said that he would get tax cuts to the right people. I believe this is the sort of thing that, when you read the Karen Hughes response, that they will key in on, that what the Democrats are doing is the same old class warfare in terms --
I'm sorry. They've just started a prayer. I'm going to throw it back to you in the booth.
SHAW: Thank you...
SHAW: ... Candy Crowley.
WOODRUFF: They are turning to the -- to the benediction this evening.
Even though -- Candy makes a point. Even though we didn't hear Al Gore mention George W. Bush by name, there's no question that time and again he was referring to the differences between what the Republicans will do versus what he will do, and...
SHAW: Without question.
WOODRUFF: ... taxes is as good an example as...
SHAW: And what about defense, Judy and Jeff? What about defense?
WOODRUFF: Well, I went -- I went back and looked. In fact, I have a copy here of George W. Bush's acceptance speech where he -- two weeks ago, he says, "Our military, low on parts, pay, and morale, two -- if called on by the commander in chief today, two entire divisions of the Army would have to report, `Not ready for duty, sir'," and he went on to say this administration has had its moment, and what we heard Al Gore say tonight is?
SHAW: "I will keep America's defense strong. I will make sure our armed forces continue to be the best equipped, best trained, and best led in the entire world." Quote, "They are now, and they will be."
GREENFIELD: And the -- it is also another measure of how the world has changed over the last decade. There was a time when foreign policy and defense policy was at the dead center of every newcomer -- like whether it was John Kennedy or anyone else was -- did he understand the world. These issues are very much at the margins in both of these speeches. They intend to fight this out on domestic policy.
WOODRUFF: That's right, and when Joe Lieberman spoke last night and he mentioned some of his positions, the crowd hardly responded. Tonight, Al Gore mentioned that he was one of -- I think he said only -- one of only two Democrats...
GREENFIELD: No, he...
WOODRUFF: ... to vote -- he said, "I voted for -- to support the Gulf War."
GREENFIELD: There were 10 Democrats.
WOODRUFF: There was some -- and there was some support. I mean, there was some applause out there tonight.
SHAW: And listen to what I regard as one of the hearts. This speech has a couple hearts, but what I regard as one of the hearts of this speech -- "I stand here tonight as my own man, and I want you to know me for who I truly am."
GREENFIELD: That's right, Bernie. I mentioned earlier George Bush in almost the same language in 1988 praised Reagan and said, "But now you must see me as I am," meaning "I have been in the shadow of this political giant, and I've got to step out." Gore had the same role tonight.
WOODRUFF: I was going to say very interesting turns in the speech, you know. And, Jeff, you mentioned this earlier. He starts out -- he thanks all the right people. He thanks President Clinton, never mentions him again. He -- he talks about turning the page -- turning the page, a new chapter. "We have progress, the stock market's done great, but I'm not satisfied."
GREENFIELD: In vaudeville terms, this is called, "Thank you. Now give him the hook. I don't mean to be impolite." Bush did the same thing to Reagan. If you're the vice president, you've had enough of the president. It's your turn.
SHAW: But think of the elements we had now in Campaign 2000. George W. Bush at that Philadelphia convention two Thursdays ago -- he was superb with his speech. Al Gore tonight for the Democrats, superb with his speech. We think this race is going to come closer and closer, notwithstanding what the polls say. They have their bounce coming out of here. This is one heck of a campaign.
WOODRUFF: And these Democrats will go out of Los Angeles, I think we can all assume, energized, enthusiastic. They probably got some kind of a lift from this speech tonight. It may not change the polls overnight, but one can assume they're going to feel pretty good coming out of tonight.
WOODRUFF: Not cocky, not confident.
GREENFIELD: I think this is one of those things that Bill Schneider warned us about earlier tonight. Give it 72 hours. Let's see what happens. Let's see what the filters are, the press coverage, people talking among themselves, and find out how this -- how this plays out when the campaign really begins in a few days.
SHAW: But, Jeff and Judy, what I really like is the fact that the American people are beginning to get interested in this campaign, and when Labor Day comes and goes and we go into October for the debates, can you imagine the -- the attention that's going to be locked on what's going on?
WOODRUFF: This -- let's...
FEINSTEIN: I ask for a motion to adjourn. Do I have a second? All those in favor say aye. All opposed say no. The ayes have it, and the motion is agreed to. The 43rd Quadrennial Democratic Convention is hereby adjourned. God bless the Democratic Party and the United States of America.
WOODRUFF: As California Senator Dianne Feinstein gavels this convention to a close, we are going to head to a break, but much much more ahead in our live coverage of this Democratic convention as we look at this picture of Democrats on the podium. We're going to be back with our correspondents, with our analysts, with Bill Schneider, with the Capital Gang. Don't turn the dial.
SHAW: Look at this. Nobody wants to go home. This convention is over, and the man who electrified this hall, Vice President Al Gore, with his speech -- he certainly is among the leaders. California Governor Gray Davis won't unhand that gavel. Everybody's standing around. They took the class photo, which is traditional at any political convention. It's gridlock on the podium, in the aisles, through this hall.
Jeff, this is really a spectacle.
GREENFIELD: Well, as you know, Bernie, and, as you know, Judy, acceptance speeches always go over well in the hall. It takes quite an extraordinary event for (UNINTELLIGIBLE). The real question is not how has it played in Peoria but how is it playing in Kansas City, Missouri?
Earlier tonight, Gary Tuchman talked with a group of voters, some pro-Gore, some pro-Bush, some undecided. We promised you we'd hear what they have to say when the speech was over. That's what we're doing now.
Out to Kansas City, to the K.C. Masterpiece Barbecue Restaurant, and Gary Tuchman. Take it away.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jeff, it's been a night of baby back ribs, rich desserts, and much political discourse here at our table I've shared with seven people at this restaurant here in Kansas City, Missouri. And it's not an accident that we're in Missouri. Missouri in the last 10 presidential elections has picked five Democrats and five Republicans and each time picked the winning presidential candidate. As a matter of fact, this century in Missouri, every single election except for 1956 Missouri has picked it right. This is a bellwether state.
We were with these people two weeks ago during the Republican convention. We're with them now.
And Sarah Jo Nettles (ph) sitting next to me, you're retired. You're a Democrat. You told me you wanted to see Al Gore be Al Gore. Was Al Gore Al Gore tonight?
SARAH JO NETTLES: Al Gore was Al Gore tonight, and he was also a Democrat tonight. He spoke to the issues that are important to American working families. He spoke to the issues that are important to me just as a -- a retired woman, dealing with the Social Security and with concerns for Medicare. He's -- he was on my mark when it came to things like women's rights and protecting Roe v. Wade. I -- he said everything I had hoped he would say, and I think he connected with the people in a way that often in the past few weeks they -- they haven't perceived him as being that -- that down-to-earth, relaxed man who's really on his mark.
TUCHMAN: At this table, we have three Democrats or people leaning Democratic, three Republicans or people leaning Republican, and one neutral man, the man next to me, Ken Warren (ph). He's a professor at St. Louis University.
You said that Al Gore had to come up as warm and likable. Do you think he succeeded?
KEN WARREN: I think he's a good man, I think he'd make a good president, but I'll tell you he still speaks like an android to me. He's very -- he's still very stiff, and I think that's an inherent problem. We can't change our personalities overnight.
TUCHMAN: You thought it was a stiff speech, though?
KEN WARREN: Not as much as most of them, but I -- it was still stiff. I just don't think he can escape that -- that stiffness. He -- he moves, you know, like this, rather -- his facial expressions do not radiate with that warmth, that -- I think even George W.'s...
TUCHMAN: OK. Let's see. One of your dinnertime companions agrees with that, and that's Justin Hard (ph). Justin works at the Harley Davidson factory here in Kansas City and before tonight was leaning to the GOP for his presidential vote.
And you were telling me you're not leaning that way anymore.
JUSTIN HARD: I think I've gone more toward the center. To stick with the sports theme, I think he scored a touchdown, but he missed the field goal.
BLITZER: Is this the most exciting -- can you hear me? Can we get on the air right now?
GORE: I've got to go back to my family right now.
BLITZER: Just tell us how you feel right now.
GORE: I -- I feel great. I feel great. I'm so happy to be surrounded by all my friends here. Thank you.
BLITZER: Mr. Vice President -- that's it.
WOODRUFF: We -- we're sorry about that, Gary Tuchman. Wolf Blitzer got close enough to put a quick question there to Al Gore. So we -- we wanted to show you that, but let's go back to Kansas City now and Gary Tuchman, and we apologize to -- to your group.
TUCHMAN: Judy, you don't ever have to apologize. We have a monitor here, so everyone here was watching the same thing that you were watching.
We were talking to Justin Hard, the Harley Davidson factory worker.
You were leaning toward the Republicans. Now you're saying the speech has changed your mind.
HARD: Well, I think it's going more toward the center. What it boils down to the -- to the Bush and Gore -- I want Gore running my business. I want George Bush as my friend. Quite honestly, this might as well be a celebrity death match on MTV.
TUCHMAN: OK. To talk about another cable network.
Theresa Lors (ph). She's a councilwoman with the Kansas City City Council, member of the Republican Party. She thought it was important during the speech that Al Gore talk about women's rights.
So how did you feel about the speech?
THERESA LORS: Well, I was surprised. He was very specific about issues that were important to me, particularly Roe v. Wade and also about health care for the elderly and care for the elderly, child care, so I was impressed by what Al Gore had to say tonight.
TUCHMAN: Now would you consider -- and this is the big question -- not voting for George W. Bush as a Republican?
LORS: Well, of course, I'm a -- I'm a Republican, and at this point in time, I'm going to have to weigh what both of these men have had to say and come to my conclusion, but I was truly impressed when I didn't think I would be.
TUCHMAN: So you would consider voting for Al Gore?
LORS: Well, I'm still very open-minded about this.
TUCHMAN: OK. Larry Coleman (ph) is sitting at our table, too. He's enjoyed the ribs, enjoyed the desserts, I hope.
Larry, you're a trial attorney. You're -- you've been saying you've been leaning Democratic. Are you still leaning Democratic? Did you go Democratic -- center after the speech? How do you feel?
LARRY COLEMAN: I am overwhelmingly Democratic by reason of the pronouncements of soon-to-be-president Al Gore in his slam-dunk speech tonight. He took us to another place. He moved to a spiritual plane. I might also add I'm also an African Methodist Episcopal pastor of a church in Butler, Missouri, so I resonated with his identification with things theological, and I also am happy that his running mate is a man of profound faith. So we're going to a spiritual place in the new millennium.
TUCHMAN: Shawn Boynkin (ph) leaning Democratic also. How did you feel about the speech?
SHAWN BOYNKIN: I liked it. I liked it a lot. He stuck to the issues, didn't do any bashing, you know, just talked about Al Gore, and that's what I was looking to hear.
TUCHMAN: Does this change your mind about a vote you weren't sure about before this dinner started?
BOYNKIN: At this point, I'd say 100 percent I'd go Democratic. I still want to see the debates, but for tonight I think he did a really good job delivering his speech.
TUCHMAN: OK. We have one more person here. That's Nelsy Sweeney (ph), strong Republican, never voted for a Democrat before.
Nelsy, you were saying you were looking for specifics from Al Gore. Did you see the specifics?
NELSY SWEENEY: Well, I heard a broad range of issues. I mean, he talked like a Democrat tonight, and I think he distinguished himself as a liberal Democrat. I wished I'd had a calculator while I listened to the speech because I heard more government, more programs. I think George Bush was a lot more focused, maybe fewer issues but more specific and more focused, where Al Gore talked about more issues on a general plane.
TUCHMAN: Is it fair to say you will not be changing your vote, that you said you were going to vote for George W. Bush?
SWEENEY: Well, it would be pretty fair. Yes.
TUCHMAN: OK. I want to thank all of you for talking with us. One thing that everyone has told us: They'll be watching very carefully when it comes to debate time.
Back to the booth.
WOODRUFF: All right, Gary Tuchman. Please thank everyone of those folks that you talked to, and thank them for two weeks ago. That -- it helps so much because we're in this unreal world, you might say, locked up in a convention center, and it helps to know what real people are thinking.
While we -- we're going to take a break as -- it's clear this convention is -- folks at this convention are not ready to leave. They're not ready to say good night. We're going to take a very short break.
When we come back, our correspondents on the floor, our analysts, and more.
GREENFIELD: The Democratic National Convention has adjourned. Vice President Gore has left the stage, the delegates are beginning to leave, and what remains and what may decide the presidency is actually what happened at this convention that will be portrayed to the country.
Down on the floor, our floor correspondents can begin to tell us. Down to you.
SESNO: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that we see now is that this campaign will move from inside this hall, these are the party faithful, to where it really counts, the battleground states that we spoke to and beyond, and what will really be, I think, fascinating and telling is the degree to which Al Gore's call for the fight to stand up for the people over the powerful, that which sounded somewhat populist, even, Candy, you were saying like a bit of class warfare, whether that's what sells this -- the new economy, the same kind of prosperity that they're also trying to claim, the Democrats, as their own.
CROWLEY: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) because we've seen it. That's how the Bush campaign (UNINTELLIGIBLE) extrapolate out of the speech. He talked about -- at one point about "We want to give tax cuts to the (UNINTELLIGIBLE)." He talked about how it was so great that everyone's gotten rich on Wall Street, but I'm really worried about those people and those big powerful (UNINTELLIGIBLE) against them. I know they will seize on that. Indeed, they already have, but it plays well to this group, and it plays well to a large segment of America.
I -- I was struck actually by how sort of Clintonesque it was in its laundry list of "I'll do this and this and this and this and this." It's almost like a state of the union (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
BLITZER: Whatever the -- whatever the substance of what the vice president said, I could tell you I just was up on the podium, and I grabbed him very briefly. He was so excited. He was sweating profusely. Everybody was trying to touch him. Everybody was trying to congratulate him. But I've covered him for many years now. I've seen him in many different kinds of settings. I had never seen the Al Gore who -- who was sort of -- on such a high right now, despite the debate that there may have been too much old Democrat, new Democrat, whether it was class warfare or not class war -- how much did he say about Bill Clinton, didn't say, he was really happy. I can assure you of that.
KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) heard it from that woman in Gary Tuchman's voter group. She said big government, a laundry list of programs. That will certainly be the Republican reaction, that this Al Gore is a liberal and that he wants to spend. This is really unchartered territory. Never before have we had an election when the federal government has a giant surplus, $4 trillion over the next 10 years.
Governor Bush says give it to back to the people in a big tax cut. Al Gore like Bill Clinton has successfully for eight years, especially the last four since the Republicans have run the Congress -- says, "No, leave it in Washington. Let me spend it on (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Let me spend it on Medicare." So we will have that tax-and-spend debate, but instead of deficits, we have surpluses this time.
MESERVE: It was interesting to me also that we talked a lot before this about how he was going to address the personal story in those issues, the leadership (UNINTELLIGIBLE) dogged him through this campaign. I'm beginning to wonder if there's anything we don't know about the Gore family. There was that -- that still montage from -- voiced over by Tipper that had everything from dating photos to wedding photos to service photos to -- on to congressional and vice president photos.
Clearly, he was trying to do some stuff in his speech, too. He talked about that Vietnam service and very tellingly, I thought, said "And I decided I could not turn away from service at home any more than I could have turned away from service in Vietnam," an effort I thought for him to establish himself as someone who was giving to his country rather than appearing possibly as a self-serving sort of politician full of ambition.
SESNO: I must tell you I think back to conversation I heard earlier in a report we did from Kentucky, a battleground state, a border state, one that Clinton took very narrowly four years ago, took it with a broader margin in '92 where Al Gore is trailing substantially in the polls because of his position on choice, because of his position on tobacco, and because of his position on guns. What they're saying in Kentucky is those are problems in these states for Al Gore, no question about it, and he didn't apologize this evening, quite the contrary, but they say health care and those sorts of issues could turn it around.
BLITZER: You know, one -- one thing that I did notice up on the podium when I was there briefly just now, as much as all of us want to analyze the substantive policy issues and as much as all of us want to look at what may have been included, not included in this speech, you know what they were talking about up there, all of those Democrats, all of those loyal Al Gore supporters and friends? They were all looking forward to going to a concert now with Barbra Streisand and raising some money for this Democratic Party. That was what they were talking about. They are -- obviously, these are his best friends.
SESNO: After Al Gore called for campaign finance reform. BLITZER: Yes, these -- these are Al Gore's best friends, but -- they, obviously, thought he, you know, hit a home run and all of that, but they're now looking forward to hearing Barbra Streisand sing -- sing three songs. I think she's been commissioned to sing three songs at this fund-raiser.
MESERVE: Did you get tickets, Wolf? That's what we want to know?
BLITZER: Yes, I don't have any tickets to give you, unfortunately. Maybe John King -- have you got some tickets over there?
KING: I have no tickets.
I would remind you of a parallel the Gore people have been (UNINTELLIGIBLE) all week, though, back to Vice President Bush 12 years ago when he was in the shadow of Ronald Reagan, used his convention speech to step out of the shadows, if you will. Bush credited that one single speech -- they thought that Vice President Bush at that time did such a good job that that turned around the election.
The Gore people already saying they don't expect that. Interesting. Perhaps they're not expecting as big a bounce out of this convention as they might have hoped for coming in. Already we hear them quoted as saying, "Well, this is a big night but not the biggest night. The debates matter most to us."
And another thing I thought was interesting, never once did the vice president mention experience, one issue the Gore people think works in their favor. They never mentioned Governor Bush by name and, therefore, could not raise the experience issue.
Up to you, Jeff.
GREENFIELD: Well, I actually have a question for you, folks. One other distinction between the George Bush speech of 1988. That Bush speech systematically took Michael Dukakis apart, attacked him on furloughs, his flag -- flag issues, basically drove him outside the mainstream of American values. Tonight, not a word about George Bush. Do you expect that during this campaign they're going to keep this theme or that they are going after Bush hard at some point?
BLITZER: I think they will...
CROWLEY: I was...
BLITZER: Yes. Go ahead, Candy.
CROWLEY: I was just going to say, you know, in a way, this is where we talked earlier about how well the Bush campaign had done so far in strategy, and one of the things they have done is they have, you know, looked and seen what everybody else (UNINTELLIGIBLE). People hate the partisan bickering, and what they have done is for -- Gore -- is put Al Gore in this box because a guy from behind needs to go out there and be aggressive, but the more aggressive he is, as he found out earlier on when he tried it, it pushes his poll numbers down.
Having said that, yes, I think that at some point they have to go after him, and -- and the sooner -- when we see the polls, we'll know how soon he's going to do it. If they -- if he hasn't closed the gap substantially, he'll do it sooner rather than later, is my feeling.
WOODRUFF: John King, you've been out on the campaign trail with Al Gore. You've watched him as vice president, as Wolf has.
You and Wolf, I want to ask you, you know, Al Gore says tonight, "I'm my own man." He's trying to step out of Clinton's shadow. Do you see signs tonight, have you seen signs lately that physically he's able to do this?
KING: Well, he doesn't want to do it from policy standpoint, but certainly from a personal standpoint he wants to. And everyone who's been out with him on the -- the past week or so -- we've been here covering the convention -- say that since the selection of Senator Lieberman he is much looser on the campaign trail, that he feels he is in charge now, that this is his Democratic Party. So we do see some evidence that he is stepping up and being the leader.
Just quickly on Candy's point -- look for the Democratic National Committee within the next 72 hours to start some new ads, to change their ads. Al Gore can't go negative because his unfavorables are in the 40s -- 42 percent or so. He can't go negative. But look what Senator Lieberman did last night, talking about the Texas record. I think you'll see that in Democratic Party ads pretty soon.
MESERVE: Well, there was an oblique reference to the Texas record here when he talked about the situation in -- in -- of a student in Texas. He talked about the schools there crumbling, falling down, said he was going to do something schools. I'm sure it's no coincidence that he's talking about the state of Texas there.
BLITZER: I think Bernie Shaw has a question for us. Let's -- let's get the question, Bernie.
SHAW: Well, I do. We all know that Governor Bush has been mentioned as being warm and well-liked, and tonight we all heard Gore say, "I know my own imperfections. For example, I know that sometimes people say I'm too serious, that I talk too much substance and policy. Maybe I've done that tonight. But the presidency is more than a popularity contest."
Does this go in any measurable way to answering that?
CROWLEY: Well, I don't know. I found that interesting, too. I mean, I picked up on that because I don't think the problem is that Al Gore is too serious. At least, if you dissect the polls, the problem is that people don't see him as a leader. They don't see him as likable. That to me is different than too serious. But they've taken an issue and tried to form it in a way that helps them. "They say I'm too serious, but this is a really serious presidency." So they've turned the problem into something they would like it to be.
SESNO: One of the reasons, I think, for that -- and we've heard it from a lot of the Gore advisers this week, people who write speeches and know this kind of thing, is that what's most important is for a candidate to be himself, that it works least well if you try to come on -- if he'd come on and done a Henny Youngman, now, forget it. It wouldn't have worked. He's not a comedian. If he had tried, it would have fallen flat on its face. And a lot of people close to him felt, "OK, play to what he is, let him be what he is, and 'fess up to it."
MESERVE: And now...
SESNO: Let's go back up to the booth.
SHAW: Well, thanks very much. You folks down there.
And when we come back, two very seasoned analysts, Stu Rothenberg and Mr. Schneider -- Mr. Schneider!
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
A. GORE: If you entrust me with he presidency, I know I won't always be the most exciting politician, but I pledge to you tonight I will work for you every day, and I will never let you down!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREENFIELD: Twelve years ago, George Bush said, "I may be a quiet man, but I hear the quiet voices others do not." Take the weakness, make it a strength.
But Bill Schneider, who is with Stu Rothenberg, all week you've been telling us what Gore's more fundamental weaknesses are on leadership. How far, if any, do you think, in the first blush, this speech went toward curing some of that?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, as you said, he took his weakness and he tried to turn it into a strength. I mean, look, Al Gore is not charismatic. He acknowledged that. But he said -- the message of this speech was, "You don't need charisma. What you need in this country is an advocate." He kept talking about the people versus powerful forces. That's a very strong, populist theme which resonates with an awful lot of Americans.
My problem with this speech was he didn't let us in on the secret of what he was doing until the end. In a way, he buried the lead. I thought he should have come right out at the beginning and say, "This is what I'm going to do here tonight, ladies and gentlemen. I'm not a charismatic figure. You know that. I'm not" -- he wouldn't say this, "I'm not Bill Clinton." But he should have indicated what he was up to be I was frankly puzzled for the longest time. It was so programmed and machine-like, rattling off this list of programs, as if fast was the opposite of stiff. And finally, at the end of the speech, he said, "The presidency is more than a popularity contest, it's a day-by-day fight for the people." That was the punchline. It didn't happen until the end.
And then something interesting happened. The audience stopped him. I kept saying, while he was delivering the speech: "Stop. Let's appreciate the applause. Let the audience savor this." But at the end, the audience stopped him and said: "We get it. We understand what you're doing. It works." That should have been done earlier on.
GREENFIELD: Stu Rothenberg, in terms of the broader issues that Bill has been talking about all week -- the weakness in leadership, the feeling that Bush is just as good as Gore on the issues -- what do you think this speech accomplished?
STUART ROTHENBERG, "ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT": I think it accomplished a lot, Jeff. Let's acknowledge, first of all, that this is a bit of an artificial setting. This is a presidential nominee who was surrounded by 20,000 of his closest friends.
And Bill, my reaction is that what happened here is that Al Gore solidified the base by appearing to be a fighter. And what is a fighter? It's somebody who's principled, who's tough...
ROTHENBERG: ... who is committed and who is a leader. And I think that was what he wanted to get across. In addition, he said, "We come to this convention as the change." We've been wondering how he's going to be both the person who brought us the last eight years and the person who's going to bring about change. I think he did that reasonably successfully, but I'm not sure how this is going to sell to the general public. The crowd in here loved it, but how about the swing voter?
SCHNEIDER: Well, what he was saying to the swing voter is, "You want an advocate for your interests?" And he rattled off all the things that people would agree with. Look, when I listened to what he said, I said, "You know, there's very little that he said there that many people would disagree with." It's things that people want. It's programs that people want. It's policies that people want. I agreed with Jeff and Bernie and Judy. The first thing I wrote down was "This is a State of the Union speech."
ROTHENBERG: I wrote the same thing.
SCHNEIDER: Yes. We all said "This is a State of the Union speech," and I wondered why he's doing it until I realized at the end that he was playing really to what is his strength. I don't know if the audience out there got it, but his message to them was "If you want someone who serves your interests, not simply someone who's likable, but someone who will fight for you, that's the kind of candidate I am." And that image of him fighting is meant to convey the impression that he really is a leader.
ROTHENBERG: Right. I was a little confused in this way. On one hand, he sounded very populist. He took on big tobacco, big oil, big polluters, the pharmaceutical companies, everybody he could think of, the HMOs. On the other hand, he did stop a couple of times and claim credit for welfare reform, said he wanted to eliminate the marriage penalty, and he was for a Social Security lockbox. Now, some of those the Republicans would claim credit for or say are their ideas.
SCHNEIDER: But you know, the Republican ticket, two Texas oil men -- what better image is there of special interests? He didn't try to depict George Bush and Dick Cheney as right-wingers, he tried to depict them as really front guys for the big money, for the powerful forces that he kept talking about. I thought that was a strong theme.
ROTHENBERG: I think when we get out of here, we have to see how George W. Bush responds, how the campaign progresses on the campaign trail, not in this artificial setting, before we know what really happens.
Judy, back to you.
WOODRUFF: All right. Stu Rothenberg, Bill Schneider, thank you both.
When we come back, the Capital Gang.
WOODRUFF: They are smart. They are insightful. They have great sources. There are five of them. And they are The Capital Gang.
MARK SHIELDS, CNN "CAPITAL GANG": Thank you very much, Judy.
From the floor of the convention, Mark Shield with Robert Novak, Kate O'Beirne, Al Hunt and Margaret Carlson.
Al Gore had to give the speech of his life tonight. Did he, Al Hunt? Did Al Gore give the speech of his life?
AL HUNT, CNN "CAPITAL GANG": Well, the good news is he probably did. The bad news is he probably did, for Al Gore. Look, Mark, when it comes to substance, this speech was, on a scale of 1 to 10, a 9. It laid out all the issues he wants to debate in the fall -- HMO reform, patients -- drug -- prescription drugs, fair tax cuts. His delivery was about a 7, which for him is good. It wasn't the home run they were looking for, but it wasn't bad.
SHIELDS: A triple, a double, what, Kate? Did he...
KATE O'BEIRNE, CNN "CAPITAL GANG": I'm not as generous as Al, although I was before the speech. Somebody said to me what did I expect, on a scale of 1 to 10? I said, "I assume he'll give a 7 or 8." And he didn't. I didn't think it worked in content, and he went through the whole thing much too fast, talking through all his own applause lines. I don't think he drew the sharp differences he wanted. Either he has to explain why didn't they do anything in seven years on these issues, or he has to explain why doesn't he share credit with Republicans for things he wants to do? So I didn't think the content worked, either.
SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, it wasn't a terribly partisan address, though, in the sense -- no mention of Republicans in it.
O'BEIRNE: Very little.
MARGARET CARLSON, CNN "CAPITAL GANG": No, very little of that. And I agree with Al. I thought it was the speech of his life, and emphasis on "his," but nonetheless, I've never heard him that good. I think he's been deprogrammed. He was put in a motel, no food, no water, no bathroom. And his cadence completely changed. He was not pedantic. He didn't speak to the audience in a sing-song-y voice, the way I'm speaking right now...
I thought his delivery was so vastly improved, I would give him a 10.
SHIELDS: Bob Novak, it was free of the rhetorical flourishes and the grand gestures...
ROBERT NOVAK, CNN "CAPITAL GANG": It certainly was!
SHIELDS: ... which had seemed so -- no, but which had seemed, quite frankly, sort of artificial and contrived in the past. What did you -- how did you rate it?
NOVAK: Mark, I had hoped that -- you won't believe this, but I had hoped that tonight I would be able to say: "Gee, he really had some poetry there. He really soared above my expectations." But you know, I said last night he had to do better than Joe Lieberman, and he did much worse. This was -- I don't know what's -- what -- it was different, but it was worse than the old Gore. It was -- it was a laundry list. Somebody just came up to me before and said they could have mailed in his resume and his -- and his positions. That was not really an acceptance speech that he needed in a race...
O'BEIRNE: Well, and also...
NOVAK: ... where he's running behind.
SHIELDS: Let me just say -- let me just say I thought that the resume could have been done a lot better in a film, but he did it. He felt it necessary to introduce himself. It was a speech with more prose than poetry, had the ring of a State of the Union. But I thought, quite frankly, that he laid down the predicate for the campaign in the fall. The only problem that hasn't been made at this convention -- I want to ask each of you -- is the case has not been made all week against George Bush and Texas.
NOVAK: Exactly. You know, I had assumed that they would really come out very hard against him in Texas, against George Bush on his positions. And apparently, they're -- their focus groups and their polls told them not to be...
HUNT: No, no.
NOVAK: ... not to be nasty.
HUNT: No, no. That's not accurate.
NOVAK: And there was -- and one more thing. There was no memorable phrase in this speech.
HUNT: Let me...
NOVAK: Not a thing I can remember.
HUNT: Well, "I'm my own man," I suppose. But first of all, Bob complains about these being too -- too political, too much of a laundry list. Bob, I knew you before you were a political virgin. You know, that's what conventions are all about.
And Mark, I want to tell you, what they're doing, whether it's wise or not, in the advertisements they're running in 17 states right now, they are going after Bush. They decided this convention was not the place to do it. That does not mean they're not going to do it.
O'BEIRNE: Joe Lieberman did some of it last night on the Texas record, but I don't think the Texas record stuff sells, anyway. Look, Al Gore has an authenticity problem. And when he announced tonight, "I want you to know me for who I truly am," he then pretends that his largest memory of his father was his father as a school teacher and his mother as a waitress. This is not authentic. I thought he came across as phony Al.
NOVAK: His father was a squire.
O'BEIRNE: When he goes to the Senate, he thinks of his father, not when he goes to elementary schools. And how often does he think of his mother as a waitress?
SHIELDS: Well, but his father was not well-born, and his mother was a waitress.
O'BEIRNE: Fine, but...
NOVAK: But he was well-born.
SHIELDS: And so were you! Go ahead, Kate.
CARLSON: No, I thought... SHIELDS: I mean, Margaret.
CARLSON: I thought his beginnings helped explain who he is, and his is not the aristocracy that Bush is. It was just a generation ago that they were dirt poor in the country. Now, why he didn't do Bush is because there has been this intimidation that if you say something -- you know, if you say -- if you go after issues, you are negative, and they come back and say it's the politics of personal destruction.
NOVAK: Can I...
CARLSON: So he wanted to rise above that tonight and not have that be the issue.
SHIELDS: Let me just say -- I'll be a heretic. I would say right now, if he had chosen John Kerry or John Edwards...
NOVAK: He'd be better off.
SHIELDS: ... they would have done that last night. They would have laid out the case -- "Leave no children behind? There's 714,000 kids without health care!"
NOVAK: Mark, that...
SHIELDS: "What do you mean, leave no children behind?"
NOVAK: Mark, that was -- that was a -- but that was a very liberal speech. There was nothing in there -- just a minute!
SHIELDS: It was a populist speech.
NOVAK: It was a -- it was a -- it was not a speech to appeal to the independents, the people who don't -- don't like to take strong ideological positions.
SHIELDS: That's the last word. I'm sorry.
CARLSON: Oh, darn!
SHIELDS: I'm sorry.
CARLSON: Oh, pooh!
SHIELDS: We'll continue this.
Back to you, Bernie.
SHAW: Thanks very much, folks.
Well, you know and I know that here in Los Angeles, our coverage would be incomplete without Bruce Morton's look back at this convention's four days. That coming up when we return.
WOODRUFF: Before we get to the final moments of this program, we want to thank everybody at CNN, like the gentleman you're seeing behind camera 14 -- I can't see who it is -- who have been working day and night, putting in long hours. We're not going to tell you their names. We're not even going to be able to show you their faces. But they are here in the studio with us, they're out on the floor, they're outside this building, they're in trailers. They're amazing, and we couldn't do any of this without them. Thank you all. We love you.
GREENFIELD: And for putting up with us...
SHAW: They certainly do.
GREENFIELD: ... they're living saints, is what they are.
WOODRUFF: And that's the hardest part of their job.
SHAW: You know, in Philadelphia after the closing gavel fell, Bruce Morton reviewed the Republicans' four days. Tonight, here in Los Angeles, again, Bruce Morton on the Democrats' four.
UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: ... and I knew this land was made for you and me. This land is your land, this land is my land...
BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A Woody Guthrie song, good Democratic stuff. The convention may belong to you and me -- and some Hollywood people. Of course, you needed very big bucks to get past the doormen at the fund-raisers. Well, maybe Elvis could sneak in. Diversity in the hall, in any case -- regular people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is my pleasure to introduce Cardinal Roger Mahoney of the Catholic archdiocese here in Los Angeles.
MORTON: Even a Roman Catholic cardinal for the invocation, though his church once denied Al Gore a speaking site because of his abortion rights views. And the cardinal did mention that issue when he spoke. But diversity.
JUAN CARLOS HERNANDEZ (ph) (singing): Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light...
MORTON: Juan Carlos Hernandez, 8 years old -- diversity.
BILL BRADLEY (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We don't window-dress diversity, we are the party of diversity!
MORTON: But the real agenda was passing the torch. Bill Clinton steps aside, Al Gore becomes the leader. The model is Ronald Reagan's graceful hand-off to George Bush in 1988. RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But George, just one personal request. Go out there and win one for the Gipper.
MORTON: This wasn't like that. One look at Bill Clinton, and you knew he'd loved every minute of it, knew he'd run again if it weren't for that pesky 22nd amendment to the Constitution that says he can't. Does this guy love his job, or what?
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America gave me the chance to live my dreams. And I have tried as hard as I knew how to give you a better chance to live yours. Now my hair's a little grayer, my wrinkles are a little deeper, but with the same optimism and hope I brought to the work I love so eight years ago, I want you to know my heart is filled with gratitude.
MORTON: The hand-off, Mr. President, the hand-off.
CLINTON: The future of our country is now in your hands. You must think hard, feel deeply and choose wisely. And remember, whenever you think about me, keep putting people first, keep building those bridges, and don't stop thinking about tomorrow! I love you! And good night!
MORTON: He didn't use the "G" word. He is for Gore. We know that. He just hates to leave. His wife was more straightforward but of course, she doesn't yearn for a third term. She seeks a first term in the U.S. Senate.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: At this moment of great potential, let's not squander our children's futures. Let's elect leaders who will leave no child behind, leaders who don't just talk the talk but walk the walk, leaders like Al Gore and Joe Lieberman!
MORTON: The next day, the tone changed. Not the music, the message. Forty years ago in this city, this party nominated John Kennedy. And for all that his accomplishments were limited by his death, that we know things now that cast doubts on Camelot, he brought a lot of these delegates into politics, and the Camelot legend lives. Kennedys spoke and did not mention Clintons. Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg recalled her father's New Frontier.
CAROLINE KENNEDY SCHLOSSBERG: Now it is our turn to prove that the New Frontier was not a place and time, but a timeless call. Now we are the new frontier, and now, when many of us are doing so well, it is time once again to ask more of ourselves.
MORTON: And from her uncle Edward, the only one of the brothers who ever liked the Senate, now one of its lions, a liberal trumpet blast, a call to arms.
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We must heed my brother's words here in Los Angeles, which echo now across the years. He spoke of a choice between the public interest and private comfort, and that is our choice today. Will we comfort the comfortable, or will we strengthen the fabric of this country for all Americans? MORTON: Bill Clinton pushed the party to the center and to victory. Its liberal base loves the Kennedys. But this year both parties are seeking the center, both stressing issues like health care and education. The man Al Gore beat in the primaries, Bill Bradley, seized those issues as part of the party's past.
BRADLEY: We don't declare ourselves compassionate, we've been acting compassionately for decades. We don't just talk about prosperity, we make it happen. Don't read my lips, watch what we do. Watch what we've always done. Watch what the values of our party has always been, the convictions that Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson stood for, that Jimmy Carter lives for even now, that Bill Clinton still fights for, the ideals of Jack and Bobby and Martin, the ideals they died for!
MORTON: Harold Ford of Tennessee stressed the mainstream agenda, too.
REP. HAROLD FORD (D), TENNESSEE: If we can find the will and resources to build prison after prison after prison, then surely we can find the will and resources to build new schools, to hire new teachers, to connect every classroom to the Internet. Surely we can pay teachers what they're worth and hold school systems accountable for results. America, surely we can do better by our children!
MORTON: These delegates like their issues, aren't sure they're going to win. If you're into political trivia, though, the Democrats here are competitive in an area where Republicans usually rule, weird hats. Just look. Hats won't decide it, of course, candidates will. Wednesday the delegates heard from their number two.
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D-CT), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Is America a great country, or what!
MORTON: More than most of the speakers, Lieberman talked about where the Democrats and Republicans differ.
LIEBERMAN: We see America's hard-earned surplus through a very different set of eyes, the eyes of working, middle-class families. We want to use America's hard-earned success to preserve the future of Social Security and Medicare, to pay off our national debt, to cut the taxes of middle-class families. We want to make the investments that will keep our economy moving forward. My friends, it is this simple. We Democrats will expand the prosperity, they will squander it!
MORTON: But it all comes down to the main man. When his daughter nominated him, Gore came to the stage and hugged her, but didn't say anything. Clinton would have reveled, made a speech. Can Al Gore replace Bill Clinton, lead them to victory, as he did?
GORE: I stand here tonight as my own man, and I want you to know me for who I truly am.
MORTON: His task is complicated by the news that special prosecutor Robert Ray has impaneled a new grand jury in the Monica Lewinsky affair. But whatever becomes of that, his speech here was Gore's first big chance to prove he could lead the Democrats to victory.
GORE: The presidency is more than a popularity contest, it's a day-by-day fight for people.
MORTON: How well did he do? The party and the voters have from now until November to decide if Al Gore can lead the big parade, the one with the White House at the end of the parade route.
Bruce Morton, CNN, Los Angeles.
SHAW: And so we pack up our bags here and continue our coverage of campaign 2000. This is your network for it.
WOODRUFF: That's right. They're off and running, and we'll be with you every day between now and November 7th, and even after.
GREENFIELD: Big question for the next 72 hours: If Al Gore has closed the gap, then what does George W. Bush do for plan B? If he hasn't, where does Gore go? Stay here. We'll be telling you.
WOODRUFF: Stay tuned.
Larry King Live coming up next. We've loved every minute.
SHAW: And second.
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