All three broadcast morning shows were thrilled with the opening night of the Democratic convention in Denver. CBS co-anchors Maggie Rodriguez and Julie Chen were the most effusive, with Rodriguez gushing that it “couldn’t have been a more compelling first night” and Chen describing Michelle Obama as “so impressive, so, just inspiring to watch her speak.”
Over on ABC’s Good Morning America, co-host Diane Sawyer was also swept away, calling it first “an incredible night” and then “a night to remember for all ages.” NBC’s David Gregory called Michelle Obama’s speech “moving” and “heartfelt,” but that “the emotional highlight of the night belonged to Ted Kennedy” for speaking on Obama’s behalf despite his battle against a cancerous brain tumor.
All three network morning shows emphasized how Michelle Obama’s task was, as CBS’s Bill Plante put it, “to reintroduce herself, to soften her image,” but only NBC’s Gregory reminded viewers how Obama herself had sowed doubts about herself by claiming earlier this year that now that her husband is a leading candidate for president: “For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country.”
Here are some of the highlights from the Tuesday, August 26 morning shows, starting with ABC’s Good Morning America, which was transcribed by the MRC’s Justin McCarthy:
Opening tease, about 7am:
DIANE SAWYER: An incredible night: A return and a roar from the lion of the Democrats.
SENATOR TED KENNEDY (D-MA): The work begins anew! The hope rises again! And the dream lives on.
SAWYER: And the debut of Michelle Obama.
MICHELLE OBAMA: I come here as a wife who loves my husband and believes he will be an extraordinary president....
DIANE SAWYER: And good morning America. I am Diane Sawyer from the floor of the Democratic Convention in Denver, Colorado, and Robin Roberts in New York. You can almost still feel and hear the echo of the roar that went up last night when Senator Edward Kennedy returned to the convention.
ROBIN ROBERTS: It was electric. I’m here in Times Square on this Tuesday, August 26. And Diane, so many people talking about that site last night on that stage behind you when Senator Kennedy knowing what he has been through recently in fighting that brain tumor giving a seven minute speech. What was it like in the arena last night?
SAWYER: Oh, people were overwhelmed, simply overwhelmed. They knew it was a night to remember for all ages. And by the way, we learned that he did come out of the hospital to come here. And something else, we can see before he spoke that up there behind the podium there was a stool. But then it just disappeared. And we’re told he saw it and said “take that away. I’m going to do this my way.”
ROBERTS: Of course, the other headliner last night, Michelle Obama, and it was such a family affair. She was introduced by her brother, college basketball coach Craig Robinson. But daddy’s little girls, they stole the show....
DIANE SAWYER: But let's get right to it because it was a night to remember last night here on the convention floor.
MICHELLE OBAMA: I come here as a daughter, raised on the south side of Chicago by a father who was a blue collar city worker and a mother who stayed at home with my brother and me.
SAWYER: She said her life shows how parents, education and support can give other kids like her a future.
MICHELLE OBAMA: With a current of history meets this new tide of hope and you see, that is why I love this country. See the Barack Obama I know today is the same man I fell in love with 19 years ago. He's the same man who drove me and our new baby daughter home from the hospital ten years ago this summer, determined to give her something he never had, the affirming embrace of a father's love.
SAWYER: And also last night the patriarch of a family which has moved conventions across the generations left a hospital room to come here and prove why they call Teddy Kennedy the lion.
CAROLINE KENNEDY: I know someone else who's been inspired all over again by Senator Obama. In our family he's known as Uncle Teddy.
SAWYER: As the crowd roared, the daughters of Camelot looked at their Uncle Teddy.
SENATOR TED KENNEDY (D-MA): My fellow Americans, it is so wonderful to be here. And nothing, nothing is going to keep me away from this special gathering tonight. And I pledge to you, I pledge to you that I will be there next January on the floor of the United States Senate. We reached the moon. We scaled the heights. I know it. I've seen it. I've lived it, and we can do it again!
SAWYER: And who could forget 1980, 28 years ago when Teddy Kennedy after his defeat left another convention with these words --
TED KENNEDY: The work goes on. The cause endures. The hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.
SAWYER: And last night he slightly altered the words, a different battle cry for a lion now in winter.
TED KENNEDY: The work begins anew. The hope rises again, and the dream lives on.
# CBS’s The Early Show, as transcribed by the MRC’s Kyle Drennen, starting with the opening tease at about 7am:
HARRY SMITH: America meets Michelle -- her Denver debut.
MICHELLE OBAMA: Let's stand together to elect Barack Obama President of the United States of America. Thank you.
SMITH: But did she quiet critics and soften skeptical voters?...
SMITH: We're at the site of the Democratic National Convention in Denver. That's a picture outside the Pepsi Center, where all the action takes place. And this is what it looks like inside. Quiet, certainly this morning, but a rousing crowd in here last night, to first hear Ted Kennedy. Everybody knew Ted Kennedy was going to be in the building but not too many folks knew that he was going to speak. And what a rousing speech he gave followed, of course, by Michelle Obama, who had a task in front of her of trying to reintroduce herself to the American people. All eyes on her. Her dress, her style, the substance of what she had to say. We'll analyze all of that ahead as we say good morning to Maggie Rodriguez in New York and Julie Chen as well. Good morning, guys.
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Good morning, Harry.
JULIE CHEN: Good morning, Harry.
RODRIGUEZ: You know, I think all of us on this shift stayed up a little bit later than we should, watching what I think couldn't have been a more compelling first night of that convention.
JULIE CHEN : Yeah, Michelle Obama, so impressive, so, just inspiring to watch her speak. And so many headlines this morning out of Denver, Harry.
SMITH: Yeah, indeed.
HARRY SMITH: The first night of the Democratic convention was filled with drama. Senator Ted Kennedy gave a stirring speech that brought delegates to tears and it was a night this crowded arena anxiously waited for, to hear Barack Obama's wife. We are joined by CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante, who's across the convention floor. Good morning, Bill.
BILL PLANTE: Good morning to you, Harry. It was Michelle Obama's night to reintroduce herself, to soften her image. And she got an unexpected and powerfully emotional boost from Senator Edward Kennedy. He was only supposed to appear on video, but Kennedy, under treatment for brain cancer, brought Democrats to their feet when he walked on stage....
PLANTE: For Michelle Obama, the evening's headliner, it was a chance to define herself and her husband.
MICHELLE OBAMA: And I come here as a wife who loves my husband and believes he will be an extraordinary president.
PLANTE: The Harvard-educated lawyer talked of the middle class family values with which she and her husband were raised and she praised those who work for the American dream, including-
OBAMA: People like Hillary Clinton. Who put those 18 million cracks in that glass ceiling. People like Joe Biden, who has never forgotten where he came from.
PLANTE: Joined by her daughters Sasha and Malia, Michelle Obama then talked to her husband, who had been watching with a family in Kansas City, Missouri.
BARACK OBAMA: How do you think mom did?
SASHA OBAMA: I think she did good.
PLANTE: Politico’s Mike Allen says Michelle Obama showed she's someone voters can feel comfortable with.
MIKE ALLEN: Michelle Obama did exactly what she tried to do, which was take away the hard edges....
# NBC’s Today, as transcribed by the MRC’s Scott Whitlock, also starting with the 7am teases:
MEREDITH VIEIRA: Good morning. Tears and cheers.
TED KENNEDY: Nothing is going to keep me away from this special gathering, tonight.
VIEIRA: Senator Ted Kennedy, battling brain cancer, makes an emotional appearance at the Democratic convention, while Michelle Obama tries to show the human side of her husband.
MICHELLE OBAMA: And I come here as a wife who loves my husband and believes he will be an extraordinary president.
VIEIRA: Tonight, it's Hillary Clinton's turn to take center stage....
MATT LAUER: You know, people talk about political conventions and they say it's all scripted. There are no surprises. But, you know, when it came right down to it, there was some drama at the Democratic convention last night.
VIEIRA: It sure was. No one knew for sure if Senator Kennedy would be healthy enough to appear. But after a video tribute, the moment of truth. The so-called lion of the Senate took to the stage and gave a rousing speech leaving many in the crowd in tears, and coming up in just a moment, we're going to hear from his son Patrick about his dad's big night and how his dad is doing....
VIEIRA: But let's begin with an emotional night at the Democratic National Convention. NBC's chief White House correspondent David Gregory is in Denver with more. David, good morning to you.
DAVID GREGORY: Good morning, Meredith. It did amount, this opening night of the convention, to an emotional split screen. Senator Kennedy's surprise appearance, his moving words and the spotlight on Obama family values. The opening night message was Michelle. She took center stage, hoping to open minds and ease doubts about her husband.
MICHELLE OBAMA: And I come here as a wife who loves my husband and believe he will be an extraordinary president.
GREGORY: Her political test, to connect the story of the Obamas to the story of average Americans.
MICHELLE OBAMA: In this great country where a girl from the south side of Chicago can go to college and law school and the son of a single mother from Hawaii can go all the way to the White House-
GREGORY: Her speech, a moving description of her middle-class roots as the daughter of a Chicago city worker, was also at its core a rebuttal, an attempt to quiet critics who seized on comments she made earlier in the year to question her patriotism.
MICHELLE OBAMA: And for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country.
GREGORY: Monday night, a different tone.
MICHELLE OBAMA: All of us driven by the simple belief that the world as it is just won't do, that we have an obligation to fight for the world as should be. And you see, that is why I love this country....
GREGORY: But as heart felt as the appearance of the Obamas was, the emotional highlight of the night belonged to Ted Kennedy, battling brain cancer, the 76-year-old lion of the Senate made a surprise showing.
TED KENNEDY: Nothing is going to keep me away from this special gathering tonight.
GREGORY: His early endorsement of Obama changed the dynamic of the race and Monday he doubled down on his commitment, promising to work along side a President Obama.
KENNEDY: I pledge to you that I will be there next January on the floor of the United States Senate....
GREGORY: Senator Kennedy was on the stage for no more than about seven minutes but I can tell you having been on the floor how incredibly emotional those moments were and symbolic as well. Here is one of the most- America's most important political families passing the torch as he talked about -- and elevating the Obamas to their new place of prominence in the Democratic Party. Meredith?