September 1, 2004 | Broadcast

American Morning

From the left this morning, Democratic strategist Victor Kamber. He’s live with us from Washington. Vic, hello to you.


COLLINS: I’m great. And from the right, former RNC communications director Cliff May right here in New York City. Cliff good morning to you as well.


COLLINS: Vic, I want to start with you. We’re hearing a lot about this potential shake up or at least changes within the Kerry campaign. Names that we’re hearing — Mary Beth Cahill, Stephanie Cutter. What’s going on? Any truth to this?

KAMBER: From what I understand, they’re adding some talent, which is not unexpected. I don’t think there’s any major changes. I think what Mary Beth and Stephanie have done is incredible at this point.

The fact that Joe Lockhart and John Sasso and several others may be joining in more visible areas is all just a credit to John Kerry bringing aboard talent in these last 45-50 days. I see nothing wrong with that, and I expect 30 days out we’ll even see some more talent added.

I think that’s just the normal situation in a campaign.

COLLINS: Cliff, is this normal operating procedure?

MAY: When you bring in more cooks, it means there’s something wrong with the broth. I think at this stage what you’re seeing is Kerry is somewhat concerned about his messaging.

The Democratic Convention was to some extent a missed opportunity for Senator Kerry. He talked almost exclusively about his time in Vietnam and almost not at all about what he wanted to do with the country, how he wanted to take the country, how he was going to win the war on terrorism, and I think he’s realizing that he needs to have an adjustment and that’s what this is about.

And it’s probably a good idea for him.

COLLINS: All right guys, let’s get to this smack down if you will between some of the different Democrats and rookies. First — I’m sorry — Democrats and Republicans. My bad.

KAMBER: I like the idea of rookies. I like that.

COLLINS: I knew you would. Rookie politicians. Who did better for their party? Barak Obama or Arnold Schwarzenegger? Vic why don’t we start with you?

KAMBER: Well, I think they both did terrific. You know, I’m obviously a Democrat, and I’m going to say Barak Obama. He was wonderful, he was — he talked about immigrants. His grandfather lived in a hut in Kenya. I mean, here’s a man, a self-made man.

I thought Schwarzenegger was terrific. The difference, I thought, was that Barak Obama was the face of the Democratic Party. He spoke about what the Democrats represent. Schwarzenegger could have been a Democrat for all — I mean; I saw the 93-page platform that the Republicans put out. Schwarzenegger doesn’t represent that.

Schwarzenegger in no way — neither Giuliani nor McCain — they represented a moderate face. They’re hiding who they really are.


KAMBER: The first conservative we’re going to see is Cheney tonight.

COLLINS: But Cliff what did you think of that speech last night by Schwarzenegger?

MAY: Oh, I thought Schwarzenegger did a great job last night. I do think Barak Obama did a good job, but I think he was the one and only standout at the Democratic Convention. He was the only voice of the future. People like Al Sharpton — that’s not a serious politician in America today or in the future.

Ted Kennedy — he was at the 1968 convention, if I recall. He was the voice of the past. I think Schwarzenegger absolutely represents an important part of the Republican Party as of course Giuliani and McCain. This is party, the Republican Party, is a very wide spectrum of use and you saw the reaction they had to Schwarzenegger and Giuliani and McCain. That was real.

COLLINS: OK there — let’s keep rolling through, guys. What about the battle of the wives? Teresa Heinz Kerry or Laura Bush? Vic?

KAMBER: Laura Bush showed the love, the affection, the care she has. Teresa Heinz Kerry, who I’ve been a fan of for over 30 years, I thought was incredible.

The difference — I was in the hall when she spoke in Boston. I mean, the brains, the heart, the — everything that was there. I’m not going to take anything away from Laura Bush, but I thought Teresa Heinz Kerry was incredible.


MAY: Basically, I think Laura Bush is an elegant woman, and I think people around the country can relate to her very easily and very well. I think it’s going to be harder for them to relate to somebody like Teresa Heinz Kerry who talked about herself, her opinions, who she is and as if she were running for office herself and if she wants to she can but she’s not.

COLLINS: All right quickly, just for fun, guys, what do you think about the battle between the daughters. We’ve got the Bush twins who we heard last night and the Kerry daughters. Vic?

KAMBER: I think George Bush is fortunate that he has two daughters, and its fortunate that you don’t vote for the daughters when you vote for president. They were nice, they were cute, they were charming. Whoever wrote their skit, their act, should be fired.

They weren’t…

COLLINS: That’s pretty harsh.

KAMBER: They weren’t particularly good. Well, they weren’t particularly good. They’re nice girls. I mean, I have nothing wrong with them. And again, we don’t vote for the children, we vote for the parent, and in this case the man running for president.

COLLINS: That’s right.

KAMBER: I think the Kerry — Heinz-Kerry children and the Kerry children were incredible; they’re older, they’re more mature. They had better scriptwriters.

COLLINS: Cliff, you’re not supposed to be a comedian, though, are you?

MAY: You’re right. Look, I think they’re all sweet girls, nice people. I didn’t see any visible tattoos or nose piercing. I think on that basis both fathers should be congratulated.

COLLINS: Good point. Victor Kamber and Cliff May as always guys thanks so much for your input on all of this so far.

MAY: Thanks, Heidi. Morning, Vic.

COLLINS: CNN convention coverage of course begins tonight at 7:00.