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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Democratic National Convention; States Needed to Win; Interview with Governor Schweitzer; Interview with Congressman Frank
Aired September 4, 2012 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president is a servant of today. But his true constituency is the future.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America is a future that each generation must enlarge.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because this election is not about ideology. It's about confidence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I still believe in a place called hope.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I stand here tonight as my own man. And I want you to know me for who I truly am.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm John Kerry, and I'm reporting for duty!
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America, we cannot turn back not with so much work to be done.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama is a tough leader who gets results for the American public.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": The Democrats are kicking of their big party here in Charlotte, three days aimed at winning four more years in the White House.
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "AC 360": (INAUDIBLE) Barack Obama better than anyone, his wife.
ANNOUNCER: In the heart of the new south, where banking towers over the local economy and NASCAR rules, the presidential race revs up. This is where Democrats are cheering on the president, and his quest to serve a second term.
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Four more years! Four more years!
ANNOUNCER: This is where Barack Obama will try to recapture the magic of a victory that builds hopes and broke barriers.
OBAMA: If you'll stand with me, like you did in 2008, we will win this election!
ANNOUNCER: In Charlotte tonight, Democrats make their case. Face their challenge. And defend the White House record under attack.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is intellectually exhausted, out of ideas and out of energy.
OBAMA: We're moving forward. They want to take us backward.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has been president for three and a half years and talk is cheap.
OBAMA: Governor Romney wants to repeal Obamacare. Maybe we should call his plan "Romney doesn't care".
ANNOUNCER: A promise of change gives way to hard times and disappointment, so this commander in chief must drive home his successes, overcome his setbacks and rally his base with a campaign partner who is spirited and unscripted.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got a little bumper sticker for you. Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive!
ANNOUNCER: Now, CNN turns the spotlight on one of the biggest platforms in American politics in a crucial election battleground.
OBAMA: I promise you, North Carolina. We will emerge stronger than we were before.
ANNOUNCER: Welcome to the Democratic National Convention. It's your vote, your future, your country, your choice.
BLITZER: We would like to welcome our viewers in the United States -- and we'd like to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world to this, the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. I'm on the convention floor. I'm Wolf Blitzer. The first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, has tonight's most critical job, reminding voters why they liked her husband enough to put him in the White House and to make the case for giving him another four years. Joining us now in our coverage all of this week, Anderson Cooper, he's high above the floor -- Anderson.
COOPER: Wolf, thanks very much. Our new poll shows why that case is more urgent than ever for the Democrat. John King is at the "Magic Wall" with new numbers on Mitt Romney's convention bounce. John, what do the numbers show?
JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, as the Democrats open their convention tonight, let's take a close look at that very question. We know this. Governor Romney got a one-point bounce out of his convention, not so great, but about half what the president got four years ago. Not a big bounce. Where does that leave us? The Democrats' opening night is two months from a very critical election day. It doesn't get any closer than that, 48-48 -- Anderson.
COOPER: Well before the first lady speaks, the convention is going to pay tribute to a champion of health care reform, the late Senator Edward Kennedy. We'll be speaking exclusively with the woman who stood by his side, Vicki Kennedy -- Wolf.
BLITZER: (INAUDIBLE) for that. Meanwhile Anderson, the floor plan is completely different from the Republican Convention in Tampa. Since the Democrats have twice as many delegates, they not only cover the arena floor, most of them are actually up in the stands. As our CNN correspondent, Brianna Keilar, John Berman and Kate Bolduan are as well. And stationed above the podium close to where Michelle Obama will be speaking tonight is our own Candy Crowley. Candy, what are your sources telling you about what the first lady will say?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: They are telling me that there is no one better than Michelle Obama to give the personal side of this presidency, but link it to policy. How does the president make decisions? She will make the case that he makes decisions with the quotes in mind, with the middle class. You will hear the words "middle class" a lot during this convention. But she will make the case that he always has the people in mind when he makes those decisions even when the decisions he makes are politically unpopular -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks, Candy. A top priority for the Democrats this week is getting specific, very specific, about what President Obama wants to accomplish in a second term and how he would go about doing that. Our chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin is here with me for our coverage. You had an amazing documentary, "Obama Revealed" that aired last night. I recommend it highly to our viewers. They'll have more chances to see it on CNN, but give us a little insight on what the president is planning on doing.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, some of his various proposals he has been very careful about laying out. But one of the things I asked him about was the fact that four years ago he promised very clearly to bridge what he called red and blue America. But in office, he has been unable to bridge these partisan divides, Washington more gridlock than ever. One of the questions I put to him was, given the bitterness in Washington after the breakdown of the debt deal he negotiated with Speaker Boehner, does he think that he and Speaker Boehner could work together again if both of them are re-elected, will Democrats and Republicans be able to work together if he is the president for a second term? And here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YELLIN: Given your history together, why should the American people have faith that you and Speaker Boehner can work together in the future? OBAMA: Look, there are very real differences between Democrats and Republicans right now on how to solve some of these problems. And what I want to do is to work with my Republican colleagues where we can, and we did that on cutting the payroll tax, on helping veterans get hired by small businesses. There have been a whole range of issues where we were able to work together. Where we can't work together, because they won't compromise, then I'll work around them like we did with helping millions of homeowners refinance their homes or helping to make sure that young people who are brought here through no fault of their own and the so-called DREAM kids are able to get out from under the cloud of deportation. So where I can work with them, I will. Where they don't want to compromise, I'll work around them. But my utmost priority is always going to be to make sure that we're moving the ball forward for the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Great interview. We're going to have much more of your interview with the president of the United States throughout the course of this evening and indeed throughout the course of this week. Don't go too far away. You can't, you're strapped into this chair, just like I am. Let's go back up to Anderson -- Anderson.
COOPER: Wolf, thanks. I'm here with CNN chief national correspondent John King, also our chief political analyst Gloria Borger, CNN contributors Donna Brazile, Alex Castellano and CNN political analyst David Gergen. In terms of tonight -- let's start David Gergen with you -- what are you most looking forward to? What do you think is most important tonight?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think tonight we're going to be looking partly whether Mayor Castro will give this sort of you know blow off the roof kind of speech. If he does become another -- become the Latino Barack Obama --
COOPER: Julian Castro, the mayor of San Antonio --
GERGEN: Julian Castro --
GERGEN: Young guy, a very young guy, hot.
GERGEN: But the bigger question is Michelle Obama. I think that she can bring this convention alive and bring the enthusiasm back in her party. What they're looking for in this convention is can they do a breakout of this convention? We saw from John King that Romney did well in the convention. He didn't get a breakout. But if they can come -- they could come out of this convention four or five points ahead, get a breakout and then hold it, they could lock in this election --
COOPER: Alex, do you see Michelle Obama speaking in the same way that Ann Romney did at the convention in terms of trying to sort of put a human face, a personal face side of her husband?
ALEX CASTELLANOUS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I think it's remarkable how much both parties this year are looking at the wives of the candidate to carry the ball over the finish line.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Why is that remarkable?
CASTELLANOS: This race --
CASTELLANOS: Well, maybe if you've seen the candidates on both sides, it's not. But this is World War I. These campaigns have been just stuck in the trenches. An inch is like a mile. It's just almost impossible to move this election, unless you can put a human face on it, unless you can see these people are like us and that's what both sides I think have been looking forward to from these speeches and I think you have to see in Michelle Obama tonight.
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well President Obama refers to her as the closer, the one that knows how to close the deal, that cannot only explain who he is as a husband and a father, but a leader, as well. So I think Michelle Obama tonight will tell the story, tell the story of just what they have been able to accomplish. When I say "they," President Obama and Vice President Biden. Of course, she has been a strong advocate for military families. She is going to talk about her role in the White House, her role in helping to lift up children across America.
COOPER: She is going to be introduced by a woman, four of whose children are in the service.
BRAZILE: Absolutely. She is a remarkable woman. As you know, she is wildly popular, and I think tonight Michelle Obama will give us a glimpse into that family portrait, much like Mrs. Romney did last week.
CASTELLANOS: And she has a special link to the future, their kids. You know, this is one of the things that's most attractive about the Obama family is that they're great parents. If she can make that bridge -- Obama has been focusing backwards. Don't go back to George Bush. That's all Romney is. If she can open the window to the future that's important not only for her kids but for everybody's kids that could be important tonight.
COOPER: Is it possible today can be overshadowed though by all the controversy about the Democratic Party platform, about not having the word "God" in there, although they have mentioned "faith" a number of times --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
COOPER: -- and also the question of Jerusalem. KING: I think you will see the Republicans and Mitt Romney is already making an issue of the Israel plank. I think you will see when you're campaigning in southern Ohio, why did the Democrats take God out of their platform? When you're campaigning in southern Florida or the Jewish community, remember an election Donna is very familiar with was decided by fewer than 600 votes. Can you go to the Jews who have moved to Florida? In terms of this -- that will become an issue as we go state by state. This is a nuts and bolt state by state, these are county by county election.
But I want to make it -- Alex's point about can Michelle Obama humanize -- could Ann Romney humanize? It tells you something about people are so disenchanted with politics. They don't trust the politicians. And guess what Barack Obama is one of them now. Four years ago he was different. He was going to change Washington. He was not like them. He said I'm not going to play by the old Washington rules. Four years later, it's not all his fault, but he's a Washington politician and in a way that's a weakness.
BORGER: My question is why do these men always need humanizing in an interesting way because they're both aloof men in different ways. I mean Mitt Romney's friends say privately he's really warm and great. But when he gets on the stage, he can't connect with his audience. And President Obama has the opposite issue, which is that one-on-one, he might be aloof. But when he's in front of an audience, he really connects. So these women have to sort of open the window and say here's who he is. Look in and I'll tell you how he makes decisions and that he won't fail which is what Ann said.
COOPER: A lot to talk about in the night ahead and a lot of hours ahead to talk about them and some important guests going to be watching tonight's session from the VIP box. In a minute, you'll find out which big-name Democrats are here tonight. And very soon now, the delegates will watch the video tribute to the late Senator Edward Kennedy. We'll be talking exclusively with his widow, Vicki Kennedy ahead.
BLITZER: You're looking at the Bank of America Stadium here in Charlotte. This is, weather permitting, this is where the president of the United States will give his acceptance speech Thursday night, 65, 70,000 folks will be crammed in there, all those tickets have been given away. I'm here on the convention floor right now, the Time Warner Cable Arena, opposite the speakers, but we have stationed our CNN correspondents in key areas throughout the convention. Kate Bolduan is down in one area, among the best seats in the house. Kate, where are you?
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf I am center, front row, right here in the middle of it all. Just take a look how close we are to -- it's a little dark in here with watching a video clip so you might not be able to --
(AUDIO GAP) BOLDUAN: When it comes to the plum seating at this convention, it all (INAUDIBLE) down to relationships and battlegrounds. I'm here with my friends Vera and Toni. Thank you, ladies, enjoy the show. We're in the Illinois delegation, the home of President Barack Obama. No surprise they've got plum seating at this convention. Right next door you have Delaware, home state of Vice President Joe Biden. As we move backwards, you can just see how close, they're so close to the podium and all of the action. But as we continue this way --
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
BOLDUAN: -- (INAUDIBLE) section, not only the state where this convention is being held, but also the key battleground state as President Obama won narrowly in 2008, a state that CNN electoral map has as a toss-up this time around critical, critical state. We also have other battlegrounds Ohio, Hawaii, where President Obama was born and grew up and Pennsylvania, another key battleground state, Wolf. So you can see relationships, relationships, relationships and battlegrounds. That's what will get you a good seat in this convention -- Wolf.
BLITZER: It certainly will. Kate got great seats. John Berman unfortunately, John, you're among the worst seats in the house. Tell our viewers where you are.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I am up here in Alabama, Wolf, which is about as far away as you can get from the stage. Nancy Pelosi just looks like a wee little dot from where I'm standing, so why so far away from Alabama? President Obama lost Alabama by 20 points four years ago. No Democrat has won there since 1976. He has virtually a zero percent chance of winning this time. Sorry, guys. But having no chance -- having no chance is not the only way to get bad seats at a convention because check this out. Right over here, just a short walk, is New York, New York. Barack Obama won New York by more than 25 points four years ago, so being a sure thing or having no chance, that's how you get this far away from the stage to see Nancy Pelosi as a tiny little dot -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, I can see that already. John, thanks very much. Brianna Keilar, she's watching what's going on over in the VIP section. Brianna, who can you see over there?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Wolf. Actually, this one we can't really see anyone. But if you take a look at the VIP suite behind me, this is where you're going to be seeing a lot of Democratic bigwigs, invitees of the Obama campaign, not really bad seats, kind of back a little ways, but elevated with a very nice view. And take a look over here, as you heard Kate say, it's definitely the truth. It pays to be a delegate from a battleground state. Right here on the floor to the left of the stage you have Virginia and the Colorado delegations, as well as North Carolina over there to the right. It really pays to be a battleground state where President Obama is desperate for votes -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Brianna, thank you. Let's go back up to Anderson -- Anderson. COOPER: We're going to go over there shortly, but first, I want to talk to Donna Brazile a bit. This controversy over what's in the platform, how big a deal do you think it is?
BRAZILE: Well, you know, John, you know we spent months talking to Democratic leaders all over the country. We used the 2008 platform as a template. Clearly, there was some negotiation and some back and forth. There are some controversial issues. I don't think the controversial issues are going to matter this much in an election. It is a statement of our values and our principles and I think overall the American people will agree with the approach we're taking.
COOPER: Alex, you have a different --
CASTELLANOS: Well it mattered last week at the Republican Convention. Even though the platform is a place you kind of hide the things you don't want the candidate to have to deal with, but there was something in one of the videos on the floor not long ago, a line which said, "The only thing we all have in common is government". That is a very unique line, and I think a line far from the mainstream of most American thought. Well you couple that with "you didn't build that," the Democrats are going to have to defend some values coming out of this --
COOPER: So you think we're going to hear a lot more about the platform from Republicans --
CASTELLANOS: The platform and their values --
COOPER: A lot more --
BRAZILE: I wouldn't be surprised. I wouldn't be surprised because Republicans don't want to talk about policy-specifics. I mean we the people that is the government of the United States and that is what that --
COOPER: All right, we got --
GERGEN: No, no, no, no, no --
COOPER: We'll talk about more of this -- we'll talk about more of this ahead. But first right now, John King is at the "Magic Wall" with a very special guest, Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer -- John.
KING: One of the more colorful figures in the Democratic Party, Anderson. Thank you. Governor thanks for joining us. When you look at this map right now, we know it's different from 2008. The president still favored. He has an easier -- I won't say an easy -- but an easier path to 270. I just changed a state there. I'm not sure what I touched to do it, but that was pretty good. I want to start with this part of the country here in the heartland. You know what happened last time in the governor's race. The governors won. They took back Iowa. They took back Ohio. They took back Michigan. Can the president -- can he count on these states this time? If Romney wins this one is he the next president?
GOV. BRIAN SCHWEITZER (D), MONTANA: Well, he's got to win this one. If that one is not red, then he can't win. Let's just go through this. Let's talk about Colorado.
KING: You're from the west. Now these states --
SCHWEITZER: I know them. Colorado, I'm the only governor in America that went to Colorado State University. I know this state. This state is the most urban state in America. People don't understand that. There's a higher percentage of people in Colorado that live in cities than any other state in the union. Nevada, I'm going to give that -- I'm just going to give that to the Republicans. I'm going to give that one away. I don't think we're going to lose that one. But there's so many people have their houses upside down they might just be mad enough to say throw the rascals out. So we're going to leave Colorado blue. Now, let's go on over here, how about if we just give Florida -- we'll just give that one to Romney as well --
KING: You put Romney in the lead now.
SCHWEITZER: That's fine. We'll do that. Michigan --
KING: That's Wisconsin.
SCHWEITZER: Wisconsin is absolutely going to go blue. Iowa is absolutely going to go blue.
KING: You're certain about that --
KING: (INAUDIBLE) especially about with Paul Ryan they think they --
SCHWEITZER: Very confident.
KING: That one, New York, how did we change that? That has to go back to blue.
SCHWEITZER: That's the one you did before. That's New Hampshire, there we go, blue.
KING: You just defected Vermont. We'll put it back to blue.
(CROSSTALK) KING: So now you're right in striking distance, you took him down to where we are in North Carolina and the state of Virginia, two states the president changed last time. Not a lot of Democrats confident about this state we're in tonight.
SCHWEITZER: Me either.
KING: So there you go. So you're saying the state of Virginia is going to decide this.
SCHWEITZER: The state of Virginia is going to decide that or the big Kahuna. I don't think -- I don't think that Romney is going to win in Ohio not after he said that we ought to just let the auto industry go broke. That is a heck of a lot of jobs.
KING: That will be the new state slogan in Ohio, the big Kahuna. I'm going (INAUDIBLE) --
KING: -- Democratic or Republican they'll all agree on that. I'm going to pull a graphic out of your home state. I want to come out here. I want to ask you why this happened. You were head of the Democratic Governors at one point. This is during the Obama presidency, when he came to office, 56 Senate seats, now 51. When he came to office, 257 seats in the House, now 190, 29 governorships, now 20, 700 seats-plus lost in state legislatures. Is that President Obama's fault?
SCHWEITZER: The party in power in the White House is likely to lose around the country. That's just the nature of the game. Look what happened with George Bush. Actually, I can thank George Bush. I was elected governor along with George Bush in Montana.
KING: So this here, do you think in this election -- the president -- you think he's going to win. Is it going to be so close that -- will we have coattails or will we have a pretty --
SCHWEITZER: No coattails. In a state like Montana, President Obama is not going to help any candidate in Montana. If you are a congressional candidate in Montana and you're a Democrat, it's going to hurt you. But if you're running for governor in Montana, you can be completely separate from those skunks back in Washington, D.C. You don't have to pay any attention to them at all. Everybody knows that a Democrat in Montana has nothing in common with that smell in Washington, D.C. --
KING: You used the term skunks, Governor. Let me close on that point. I was talking earlier about how you know Senator Obama, the candidate, said things would be different. He was inspirational. He was transformational. He's the president of the United States so I don't say this with any disrespect. But do the people -- as part of his issues now, part of his issues, he's an incumbent president. Is he one of the skunks, to use your term, in Washington, D.C.?
SCHWEITZER: No, look -- if you look at the polling of Congress, they poll a little lower than the belly of the snake right now and -- but President Obama is closer to 50 percent. So the American people know who is responsible for this gridlock. It is Congress. And the U.S. Senate, with Mitch McConnell on day one saying I am not going to cooperate. We're going to start the reelection on day one. We're just going to be the party of no. I think we know where to turn.
KING: Governor, appreciate your time, as always. I love to see (INAUDIBLE). Anderson, you get a sense, a very colorful guy, Ohio going to have to rename it now the big Kahuna.
COOPER: We'll see what Ohio has to say about that, but we'll have a lot more from John and the "Magic Wall" throughout the night tonight. Coming up, going to hear from former President Jimmy Carter and a special tribute to former Senator Ted Kennedy. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: We're back at the Democratic National Convention here in Charlotte. Look at this. You're looking at a picture. That's the vice president, Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden, they're up in his personal sky box over there and Vicki Kennedy is sitting next to the vice president of the United States. They're about to do a major, major tribute to Ted Kennedy, "Ted Kennedy, The Legacy". We're going to have that video tribute for Ted Kennedy and later on I'll be speaking exclusively with Vicki Kennedy. She is going to be joining me here on the convention floor.
You see the governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, in that sky box, as well. The vice president is here and his wife, obviously. The vice president will be speaking Thursday night just before the president of the United States gives his acceptance speech at the Bank of America Stadium here in Charlotte. So the excitement is building. We're getting ready for the Jimmy Carter tribute, as well. We're going to have that. But let me go back up to Anderson in the CNN sky box -- Anderson.
COOPER: There's obviously -- Donna Brazile, does it interest you that -- or surprise you at all that Democrats seem to be --
COOPER: -- whereas on the campaign trail, we're hearing from Republicans who are very hard trying to link President Barack Obama to Jimmy Carter.
BRAZILE: Well you know the Republicans like to look back and for them 1980 was a very important year. That was the year that they elected the country, elected Ronald Reagan as president. But for Democrats, we respect the 39th president of the United States. He after all got us a very important treaty signed, the Panama Canal Treaty, of course the Camp David Accord.
People forget that Jimmy Carter was a leader on the international scene. He had a rough economy. He had a primary battle with Ted Kennedy. He did not win. In fact, it was a landslide. I remember that election very well.
But we salute Jimmy Carter. He's won a Nobel Prize for his work, his post-election work. And he is I a remarkable man and great leader.
CASTELLANOS: And a darn, fine partisan.
COOPER: Alex, you've been smiling like a Cheshire cat, all during that.
What -- I mean, is this -- for Republicans, though, is this perfect, that the Democrats are embracing Jimmy Carter here?
CASTELLANOS: I think Republicans would love to hear from Jimmy Carter again, perhaps in prime time. He is a symbol of failure, of failed presidency, and you'll see that on the campaign trail.
But the interesting president is still Bill Clinton. He's the one that has something to bring to this convention. You know, Bill Clinton said the era of big government is over. This president said the era of big government being over is over.
But now he's going back to Clinton and bringing him back again to try to get him over the finish line. That's quite a bit of jujitsu.
COOPER: David, you worked for presidents on either side of Jimmy Carter. Who is President Obama more like, like Bill Clinton or like Jimmy Carter?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: He wants to be much more like Bill Clinton. Clinton is in style. He's in "Vogue" right now. And they're going to showcase him.
I think this is more of a courtesy. Notice they're putting it very early in the evening. Ryan -- Paul Ryan has been making Jimmy Carter a staple of his speeches, going after him. You know, this is exactly, he -- you know, Barack Obama is all Jimmy Carter all over again.
Jimmy Carter was in effect voted out of office. But he was not a beloved president but he is a beloved saint. And I think a lot of people in this country respect him for what he's done since --
COOPER: For what he has done after his presidency?
GERGEN: Yes, he's more cut out for sainthood than he was for the politics.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he might be a saint but Bill Clinton is more popular and he's not. So Bill Clinton's popularity is 66 percent right now. Jimmy Carter, I was looking at it, more popular than I thought, 54 percent favorable rating. But Clinton is the star here.
COOPER: Let's listen, they're about to play this tribute video. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE, DNC VIDEO)
JIMMY CARTER, 39TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I said then that America need a president who shares your dreams, and takes a strength and wisdom from you, the American people. Ladies and gentlemen, both now and for the next four years, we have just such a leader in the White House. Something you realize quickly in the Oval Office is that the easy decisions are not the ones that make their way to your desk. Whether the issues are war and peace or grave economic matters, be they popular or unpopular, only a president can make those most difficult choices.
In those moments, it takes more than a grasp of policy. It takes integrity and an understanding of why and whom you serve.
From President Obama's first day in office, I watched him as I know you have. Face these tough decisions and always put the interest of middle-class Americans above those who, often with larger wallets, have an ever-louder voice. I've admired him for that.
Because President Obama sits behind that desk, everyday people, from Plains, Georgia, to Pittsburgh, have someone who is on their side, thinking about them, working to give them an equal chance in life. In just four short years, he has worked to avert economic calamity, brought a dignified end to the ill-conceived war in Iraq and signed into law historic health care reform -- a dream that was already decades overdue when I called for it at this convention 36 years ago.
And he has done it all in the face of bitter, unyielding and in fact unprecedented partisan opposition. Overseas, President Obama has restored the reputation of the United States within the world community. Dialogue and collaboration are once again possible with the return of a spirit of trust and goodwill to our foreign policy.
Of course, there remains much to do. In communities across America and in countries around the world, life is too hard for too many people. We see their struggles and our hearts go out to them. And in the coming years, our hands must continue to reach out to them.
Yet for all that remains to be done, at home and abroad, the evidence is overwhelming. President Obama is a leader for America, as we have placed the onslaught of some of the most complicated, domestic and international challenges to confront any U.S. president in modern times.
It's up to all of us to make sure that the American people understand exactly what is at stake, and at risk, in this election. With President Obama in oval office, we can make good progress toward becoming a fairer, stronger, more prosperous and inclusive America -- a nation adjusted to changing and challenging times, while holding true to unchanging principles, a leader among the community of nations.
Next month, God willing, I will enter the 88th year of my life. And one month later, Rosa and I will enter a voting booth in our hometown of Plains, and cast another vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
We will do so with the confidence and conviction that they understand the challenges and difficult choices that face our nation and our people. In fact, all peoples of the world in the years ahead.
One thing I have learned over my lifetime as a submarine officer, as president, and as leader of the Carter Center, is that the biggest challenges and problems that we face don't limit themselves to quick fixes or to the snappy rhetoric of a television commercial. Solutions are complex and difficult, requiring the judgment, skill and patience to pursue the right policies for the right reasons.
There's a clear choice facing voters this November. And I am confident that when the facts and policies have been examined, when the record and performance versus been reviewed, Barack Obama and Joe Biden will once again be elected to lead our beloved country to a better future. Thank you.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The 39th president of the United States speaking to this Democratic National Convention via videotape.
Let's go up to the podium, Candy Crowley standing by.
What do you think, Candy?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think that Democrats and indeed the country has had an up and down relationship with this former president. He left office with the 36 percent approval rating. But really, so many people have said this is a much better ex president than he was a president. He built himself quite a reputation as a humanitarian, as someone who traveled the world tirelessly in pursuit of peace.
It's interesting to me that four years ago, at the first convention for President Obama, then candidate Obama, Jimmy Carter did not have a speaking part. And the word then was that they really felt that his -- what were then controversial views about Israel might not -- it wouldn't be great to be associated with them.
Now, he -- Jimmy Carter said that he didn't really want to have a speaking part. Nonetheless, it came up really interesting in light of what's gone on with that platform, Wolf.
BLITZER: Candy, thanks very much.
Even the president is going to have a tough time juggling work and family. President Barack Obama opens up about living his life in the bubble with two daughters. His exclusive interview with our own Jessica Yellin. Much more of that coming up.
Also, we're standing by right now for a video tribute to an icon within the Democratic Party, the late Senator Edward Kennedy. We'll also be talking exclusively with the senator's widow, Vicki Kennedy.
Stay with us.
COOPER: And welcome back to our continuing coverage of the Democratic National Convention, live from Charlotte, North Carolina. You're looking at the box with Vice President Biden. Also the -- and his wife. And the widow of former -- of Senator Ted Kennedy, Vicki Kennedy, who's going to be an exclusive guest of Wolf Blitzer's coming up shortly.
We're a minute or so away from a tribute in the hall to Senator Kennedy which we're going to bring to you live.
Gloria Borger, you knew Senator Kennedy well. You interviewed him over the years.
COOPER: His support early on for then candidate Obama was critical.
BORGER: Very critical. I think it broke a logjam. You know, here was the patron saint of the Democratic Party in many ways. The lion of the Senate, as they called him, saying you know what? I'm going to take a chance on the new kid, on the young guy.
And what's more? He said at the time because he stands for everything my brother, John Kennedy, stood for. And when he said that, and when he stood up there with him, it was a very, very big moment for President Obama, and within the Democratic Party.
And don't forget also, and John knows this, Ted Kennedy was a tireless campaigner. He didn't just give his support. He was out there on the campaign trail, and drew huge crowds for candidate Obama. Very, very important. And they remained close.
One of the reasons the president wanted to get health care reform done was he had opened that Ted Kennedy would have lived to see it to its fruition. But that didn't occur.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: One of the people President Obama, then Senator Obama, called him to oath, if you will. He oaths to John Kerry, John Kerry gave him a speaking role at the Boston convention, Ted Kennedy's endorsement was pivotal. They had a very good relationship. Ted Kennedy helped with the health care in Congress.
The White House was very close to Vicki Kennedy. They have kept in touch. This is also -- we always talk in conventions about transitions, the passing of the guard, the next generation, we have not had a Kennedy in Congress the past few years. Late Senator Kennedy, he passed away, his son left the House of Representatives, decided not to run for re-election. There is a Kennedy candidate, one of the late senator's nephews, running for Barney Frank's seat in Massachusetts. So, maybe that brief strike of no Kennedy in Congress might end. We'll see.
COOPER: The loss of Senator Kennedy, how important was that in the health care debate?
KING: He was not there to see it. I think it's probably more possibility in other debates, if you will. Senator Kennedy was somebody --Speaker Boehner would say this -- he could always cut a deal. Now, Speaker Boehner says the president broke his word. The president has a different view of the debt reduction, the big grand bargain, compromise.
But Senator Kennedy was somebody -- Democrats got mad at him sometime. He cut the prescription drug deal with George W. Bush. He was someone who could have been a bridge in this partisan time, a big adult who could have helped the president.
COOPER: Kate Bolduan was down on the floor with the Massachusetts delegation. Kate, they're no doubt awaiting this very eagerly.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Waiting to hear this, absolutely, eagerly awaiting. I mean, the Massachusetts delegation, I've been having a great conversation with Diane Saks (ph). I'm sorry for crouching.
Diane, thank you so much. You said that you've known Ted Kennedy for years.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Over 25 or 30 years.
BOLDUAN: So when -- as we're waiting for this tribute to begin, what are you hoping to hear from?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that what Joe Kennedy will say -- and Joe Kennedy will make a wonderful congressman, by the way. I think what Joe Kennedy is going to say, is he's going to talk about how his uncle helped to change this -- not only our country, but helped to change the world.
BOLDUAN: And you know what, Diane? I'm going to toss to the podium because he's speaking right now because Joe Kennedy is speaking right now.
JOE KENNEDY III (D), MASSACHUSETTS CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Senator Kennedy -- make no mistake: he is here with us this evening.
I see him in the passion of our delegates, the character of our candidates, and the causes of that unite us.
For my Uncle Teddy, politics was always about people. He was from a big family. And he understood that lives are measured not by line items in a budget, but by first days of schools and last days of summer, by promotions won and jobs lost, new homes, broken hearts, baptisms, funerals, and every precious moment in between.
I remember campaigning with him once in Texas for then-Senator Barack Obama. We showed up at a hall on a small border town with only a handful of voters to greet us. He didn't care. They were working folks who had come out to support our candidate. Uncle Teddy got up, raised his hands and belted out (SPEAKING SPANISH) in a strong Boston accent. The crowd went crazy for the old ranchero song and a Massachusetts mariachi who sang it.
It was Uncle Teddy at his best and he gave his best to everyone he met, whether a sick child, an injured soldier, an unemployed worker. That idea guided him through the bigger battles, to guarantee the right to organize, to end apartheid, bring peace to Northern Ireland and health care to all.
It guides us in a tough campaign ahead. As we fight for our middle class in an economy that's built to last, defend a woman's receipt to choose, keep a college education affordable, protect our seniors' retirement security, and ask every American to do their part to safeguard the promise of this country. Four years ago, Uncle Teddy marveled at the grit and grace of a young senator who embodied the change our country sorely need.
As we pause today to remember Senator Kennedy, we recommit ourselves to the leader he entrusted to carry on our cause.
Thank you, very much.
SEN. TED KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: No matter who writes the history books, when people look back on this century, they will say that Edward Kennedy was one of the ablest and most productive, most compassionate and most effective men who served in the United States Senate in the entire history of the country.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now to Boston, as we show you live coverage of the debate between Democratic incumbent Edward Kennedy, and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.
MITT ROMNEY (R), THEN-U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years, that we should sustain and support it. And I sustain and support that law, and the right of a woman to make that choice. TED KENNEDY: On the question of the choice issue, I have supported the Roe v. Wade. I am pro choice. My opponent is multiple choice.
When, Mr. Romney, are you going to tell the people of Massachusetts which health care program you favor?
ROMNEY: I have a plan. I have a position paper on health care. I'm happy to show it to you, Senator, anytime you like.
TED KENNEDY: Mr. Romney, it isn't a question of showing me your paper. It's a question of showing all of the people in here that are watching this program the paper.
ROMNEY: Well, they can get --
TED KENNEDY: They ought to have an opportunity to know.
ROMNEY: Yes, I think it's a wonderful idea to take it through piece by piece and --
TED KENNEDY: That's what you have to do with legislation. That's exactly what you have to do.
Now he's for family leave. Now, he looks like he's for minimum wage. Now he's for education reform.
If we give him two more weeks, he may even vote for me because those are the things I am for.
Mitt Romney called me to congratulate me on being re-elected to the United States Senate.
The best way to find out what a party will do is what it has done. We were the ones that brought higher education, the Medicare programs, the Medicaid program, knocked down the walls of discrimination. We brought a sound economy, a sensible foreign policy. Those are the essential values of the Democratic Party, aren't they?
I love this country. I believe in the bright light of hope and possibility. I always have, even in the darkest hours. I know what America can achieve. I've seen it. I've lived it. And with Barack Obama, we can do it again.
CROWD: Teddy, Teddy, Teddy!
TED KENNEDY: Thank you, thank you very much. Thank you, thank you.
This is the cause of my life, new hope, that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American -- north, south, east, west, young, old -- will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege! (APPLAUSE)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today's decision was a victory for people all over this country, whose lives will be more secure because of this law and the Supreme Court's decision to uphold it.
VICKI KENNEDY, SEN. TED KENNEDY'S WIFE: If Teddy were here, he would tell us, now it's time to roll up our sleeves, get to work, fully implement the law and move on with the business of our country.
This one was a long time coming. And it's one that I knew my husband would have loved to have seen. Everything he did was about the future. It was about going forward. It was about passing the torch to a new generation.
OBAMA: For those of us who knew Teddy and worked with him here, people of both parties, know that what drove him was something more. Ted Kennedy's passion was born not of some rigid ideology but of his own experience, that large-heartedness, that concern and regard for the plight of others is not a partisan feeling. It's not a Republican or a Democratic feeling. It too is part of the American character.
TED KENNEDY: I've never shied away from being called a liberal. But what I have done is stand up for my beliefs.
The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on.
BLITZER: What a tribute to the late Senator Ted Kennedy. Vicki Kennedy, his widow, she's going to be joining me exclusively right here on the convention floor. I'll speak with her live. There she is with the vice president and Jill Biden, the governor of Massachusetts as well, Deval Patrick. What an emotional moment for her. You can se her taking a deep breath.
Erin Burnett is in the Massachusetts delegation right now with Barney Frank, the outgoing U.S. congressman -- Erin.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Wolf. Thanks very much. I am here with Barney Frank.
Congressman Frank, obviously an emotional and moving video. Is Ted Kennedy still a lion, does he still stand for the Democratic Party?
REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, no question. He's an example of how you can be principled, committed to your values, and be effective. You don't have to choose between being someone who stands for important things and someone who gets things done. He shows that a good politician in the best sense combines idealism and pragmatism.
BURNETT: One thing I wonder when you talk about health care which obviously people credited Kennedy with that idea and that passion, people say look, even if you love the health care bill, the timing of it was bad. The president used his political capital on that and then he didn't have it to fight the biggest crisis in the country, jobs. Is that a fair criticism?
FRANK: Interesting questions, but the problem there is that assumes even if he wasn't doing health care the Republicans would have been less obstructive on jobs. I'm afraid that's not the case.
Unfortunately, from the very beginning -- look, look at the contrast. George Bush came to us on the Democratic side in late '08 and said, we're in a crisis, we need your help, and we gave it to him, very openly, very fully. Then Obama comes in to try to deal with the terrible situation he inherited from Bush and the Republican media went into full partisan attack. Mitch McConnell announcing his number one goal was to defeat the president.
So, I don't think in the end, the timing, unfortunately, would have helped a great deal. (INAUDIBLE) no matter what.
BURNETT: Final question, last time I talked to you, I loved it, you were so emotional, you were getting married. You're married. So far, so good?
FRANK: Absolutely. My husband just walked by. Yes, I'm very, very pleased. I'm just glad to be with my husband at a national party convention that says we're not bad people, that what we did was a good thing and we didn't hurt anybody else, which is a very good feeling.
BURNETT: It is a part of the party platform. Congressman, always good to see you. I appreciate it.
Congressman Barney Frank and now let's send it up to Candy.
BLITZER: All right, Erin, thanks very much. We're watching what's going on. What an emotional tribute to the late Senator Ted Kennedy, a really extraordinary moment. We watched it all unfold.
I've got to tell you, I'm down here on the convention floor. I saw a lot of people openly, openly crying as that tribute continued.
Anderson, as I throw it back to you, you know what? They even used -- they even used a little bit of that debate that Ted Kennedy had with Mitt Romney when he was running for the Senate and Ted Kennedy handily beat him.
Anderson, go ahead.
COOPER: And that certainly, that part of the video tribute got a huge amount of applause in the hall. People on their feet. Cheering that. Interesting to see that debate. It really was a critical debate during that race. KING: Yes, the senator is up in heaven. He has his beloved Mya, his boat. This is the time of year he liked to be on the water, the Labor Day weekend. But trust me, he's looking down and enjoying. If he can't be in the middle of this campaign, one more dig at Mitt Romney, he's a happy senator tonight.
COOPER: And we've been told Mitt Romney has been practicing for the debates over the last several days. How important do you think these debates are going to be?
BORGER: Well, these debates are going to be hugely important. I wouldn't be surprised if you see President Obama raising the same issues that Ted Kennedy raised in his debate against Mitt Romney. And that debate was stunning because you not only see the things that Mitt Romney supported when he ran for the Senate -- I mean, he was a liberal or a moderate, whatever you want to call it.
There was also one point in the debate where he accused Ted Kennedy of making some kind of real estate deal that was unethical. Kennedy stood up and he said, Mr. Romney, the Kennedys are not in public service to make money. We have given too much. End of election. End of election.
GERGEN: The Democrats have gotten off to a bumpy start with their platform but I must say these film tributes tonight have been very effective, very powerful, unexpectedly so. You have to say just from a professional point of view, watching the way this has unfolded, watching the way they used that Kennedy film to make that point and dig into Romney. But also to use Kennedy and Carter as testimonials to Barack Obama does a lot to help get their base enthusiastic again.
CASTELLANOS: I thought that video was one of the most effective pieces of political communication I've seen in a long, long time.
COOPER: And you make a lot of commercials.
CASTELLANOS: And that was eviscerating to bring back that debate like that in this hall. I think Republicans will demand equal time and demand we run the Jimmy Carter video another couple of times.