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Republican Convention: Democratic Response

Tom Vilsack
Iowa Governor
Wednesday, September 1, 2004; 4:30 PM

The 2004 Republican National Convention continues on Wednesday with speeches from Vice President Dick Cheney and Sen. Zell Miller (D-Ga.)

Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack (D) took your questions Wednesday, Sept. 1, at 4:30 p.m. ET on the convention and the Democratic response to the events.

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The transcript fellows.

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.


Tom Vilsack: I think the real story of the Republican convention is an acceptance of the moderate democratic position on a lot of the issues as reflected in the nature and the type of speakers who have been spotlighted at this convention. As everyone knows this has been a convention that has glossed over the conservative platform and is projecting a moderate face. The real story here is that the democrats are right on the issues and we need to bring that up in November.


Arlington, Va.: Are you are a little sick and tired of Zell Miller calling himself a Democrat?

Tom Vilsack: Zell Miller is so much yesterday that I am just not spending a great deal of time thinking about him. We talked to a number of regular ordinary hard working Americans today who were Bush supporters in 2000 who believed he would be a compassionate conservative who have been so disappointed and are now passionately supporting John Kerry. That is who I am listening to and I never get tired of listening to those folks.


Portland, Ore. (born in Carroll, Iowa): Govenor, I've been dismayed by what I perceive as a passive Kerry campaign. Why they didn't forsee the Swiftboat attacks is mind-boggling. Bush is defining the campaign issues and, therefore, doesn't have to defend his disasterous administration. Do you agree or disagree?

Tom Vilsack: First of all, we wish you would hurry back to Iowa.

I think this campaign truly begins Friday after the hoopla of the convention is over. Both parties get a disproportionate amount of attention during their respective conventions. I think John Kerry will come out swinging over the next 60 days and I am confident in the strength of his message resonating with undecided voters across America. We are going to win this election.


Starkville, Miss.: The last month has been tough on Democrats, as the campaign got vicious. What encouraging words do you have to share with us today?

Tom Vilsack: The fact that the Republican Party is attempting to convince Americans again that it is a party of moderation and is attempting to masquerade its conservative views. You can not hide from the disastrous record of the past three and half years. You can run away from that record but you can't hide. The job loss, more uninsured Americans, more Americans living from paycheck to paycheck, more Americans in poverty, more Americans having difficulty filling up the gas tank or paying college tuitions. John Kerry and John Edwards have a better set of plans for a better and stronger America. These are well thought out and they can deliver if we deliver for them in November.


New York, N.Y.: Hello Governor. As a democrat and someone who watches the electoral map closely, I am concerned about Ohio and Wisconsin. First off, how do you see Kerry doing in those two states and secondly, will he win Iowa?

Tom Vilsack: He will win in all three states. And the reason he will win is the strength of his message and the extraordinary get out the vote effort that has been undertaken in the battleground states. We are not just going to get those who traditionally vote, we have many believing again that their vote can make a difference and these marginal voters are going to vote predominantly for John Kerry and John Edwards and their numbers aren't necessarily reflected in polls.


Arlington, Va.: Governor,

How can you Democrats claim to know anything about securing a nation when your record betrays years of defense and intelligence cuts? How can you say that terrorism is a matter for the courts when terrorists themselves engage in armed combat? Isn't it better to fight soldiers with soldiers -- boots on the ground -- instead of with lawyers in pin-stripes and wingtips?

Just curious. Thanks for being on today.

Tom Vilsack: There are more security forces guarding the delegates at the republican national convention than there are boots on the ground in Afghanistan searching for Osama bin Laden. What is wrong with that picture. We got diverted in the war on terrorism by our efforts in Iraq. We have got an administration that wants to cut the number of cops and firefighters across the country. These are the foot soldiers in the war on terror. It was democrats that proposed the Department of Homeland Security. It was Democrats that initially supported the 9/11 Commission. It was democrats that supported the cops programs - putting 100,000 additional police on the street. And it was the democratic Presidents who have worked with other nations to fight battles from World War II to the Cold War. Democrats will protect the US and recognize that it is our #1 responsibility. Remember, our candidate volunteered to go to war. Our candidate stood in harms way. The only campaign President Bush saw during Vietnam was a Senate race in Alabama.


Bannockburn, Ill.: Governor,
Do you think Democrats should spend more time highlighting the implications of four more years of a Republican Congress with Tom Delay as the masthead?

Tom Vilsack: I think Democrats need to spend the next 60 days highlighting our plan for a stronger America at home and a more secure America abroad. If Americans understand the Bush record of the last four years and the Kerry vision of the next four years the outcome of this race will not be in doubt.


Tom Vilsack: I just think that the unwritten story are millions of Americans who have lost faith in the political process who are becoming reengaged because they want to take their country in a different direction. These forgotten Americans will be heard on Nov. 2nd and they are going to carry John Edwards and John Kerry to victory.


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