What Donald Trump needs to convey in his RNC speech

Reaction from the 'Special Report' All-Star panel


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," July 21, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PAUL MANAFORT, DONALD TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Preview of the speech tonight. The speech tonight is going to talk about his vision for America.
He's going to talk about the tough times we're facing. He's going to talk about the consequences of failed leadership both in the world and in the United States. And he's going to say you can make a difference with effort.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So a little off script, do you think?

MANAFORT: He'll be Donald Trump tonight.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Paul Manafort, the campaign chair, talking about this big speech for Donald Trump tonight. We've just, from the campaign, received some excerpts of that speech. And he begins that he humbly and gratefully accepts the nomination for the presidency of the United States.

Let's bring in our panel: and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer; Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume; Mara Liasson, national political correspondent of National Public Radio, and Tucker Carlson, host of "Fox & Friends Weekend."

Starting with the "humbly," obviously, Charles, but this speech, what do you think is going to be the main thrust of it? What does he have to do?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: This is his reintroduction to the American public, but in some way an introduction, because not everybody follows closely the Republican nominating process. So he's reaching out now to the -- he's going to -- you need 65 million people to win the general election. And the majority of them have not really seen him. And this is his chance to make a second introduction. I do think we've heard all of the negatives, the reason to vote for him, because Hillary would be unacceptable. We've had three days of that. He now has to do one speech, one day on why he's the man.

BAIER: A lot of rhetorical tools on these excerpts, Tucker, where he says that "I am your voice," much like his son did about these different neighborhoods that are struggling. He says "I am your voice."

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: That is exactly what he needs to do. I agree completely with Charles. He doesn't need to attack Hillary. He's done it, he will continue to do it, he's good at it. He doesn't need to pile to his already vanquished Republican opponents. That's been done, especially after last night. He doesn't need to talk about himself anymore. He's don't that quite a bit. He needs to talk about voters.
He's actually good at it when he does it, when he bothers to do it. To the extent he's succeeded, it's only because he is the only candidate who even pretends to care about Americans that nobody in power even bothers to like or pretend to like. So if he does that, I think it works.

BAIER: Does what he says tonight affect this race dramatically Mara?

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: I think it can. He said in the past, Hillary says her slogan is, "I'm with her," but I'm with you." And I think you're going to hear some of that tonight, I think. The other powerful thing he has that he is going to talk about tonight is change versus more of the same. The country is in the mood for change. She's the status quo, he's change. There's nothing more different than Donald Trump.

BAIER: If we look at the polls, the RCP national average of polls, it is
44 Clinton, Trump 41.3, Brit. Nationally, within the margin of error, or at least very close. And in the swing states, there are a number of close states. This is shaping up to be a pretty close race.

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS: And this has been good for him in recent weeks. Hillary has done kind of a face-plant while Trump has sort of held steady. She's come down. He has begun to come up a little bit. This is a real opportunity for him.

You know, it is one of the striking facts of this whole campaign that Donald Trump, of all people, the guy with the glittering gold furnished apartment in New York and the golf clubs all over the place who lives a life of incomparable luxury is the guy who has struck the chord with the working man and woman and the forgotten middle class. Of course we're always talking about the forgotten middle. The truth is, all campaigns are always about the middle class.

LIASSON: They're not forgotten at all.

HUME: But if you can convince them that they have been forgotten and you can help them, you can win. And that will be what he's trying to do tonight.

He needs to have people listen to what he says. If they're skeptical of him, as many are, and they think I like what he is saying and I think he can do it. If that comes through, this will take him a long way. These speeches are one of the few chances you get, these convention addresses, to reintroduce yourself. And people remember them. They make a difference.

BAIER: And they're seen by a lot of America. Charles, that is the hurdle, right? Sitting at home, I can see him. I can see him as president.

KRAUTHAMMER: And, look, between now and the first debate, this will be the last time he's going to have an audience of this size, and he'll be able to make that case. And remember, in the debate, that is sort of a jousting affair. That depends on the other player. That's a game of tennis. This is a personal display. I think this is the moment.

What will be interesting to me is less the content but the demeanor. He is where Reagan was in 1980 in the sense that the other side has discredited itself by its record in office. The question with Reagan, as it is today with Trump, is this a guy who meets the minimal threshold for competence and fitness for the presidency? And I think it's a matter of more tone than anything else. The 1980 campaign ended when Reagan, who was going to be the warmonger, blow up the world, very genially turned to Jimmy Carter, turning an attack, and said, "Oh, there you go again." It was over.

BAIER: Briefly down the road here, starting with you, Charles, about this journey. You officially are putting a black chip now on Donald Trump. But your bets have gone really from nothing --

KRAUTHAMMER: I put the $100 on Monday this week.


BAIER: Monday, you were in. But quickly about the journey.

KRAUTHAMMER: Look, this is the most improbable presidential victory since Jimmy Carter, and it is more improbable than Jimmy Carter. He was at least a governor. This is a guy out of nowhere who had been a celebrity, and he managed, I think as Tucker indicated, he struck the chord, he found the issues. I think overplayed here and there in a way I would not approve of, but that doesn't matter. But he did it in a way that had eluded 15 other competitors who were veterans.

BAIER: Brit?

HUME: Are we talking about the general election and beginning to put chips on the table?

BAIER: Chips on the table for the candidate casino? Of course, yes. I was just talking about the primary and his betting all along on candidate casino. Where are you?

HUME: Everybody was surprised by it.

BAIER: Sure, let's do it. We don't have the roulette wheel, but you have
$100 in chips. What do you got?

HUME: It's 50/50.


LIASSON: But speaking about 50/50, what's extraordinary, Ohio right now tied. Hillary Clinton has spent tens of millions of dollars in ads in the battleground states. And he's had a pretty shambolic, chaotic convention.
Polls done this week during this convention showed them absolutely tied in Ohio.

BAIER: That was my point in the beginning. Tucker?

CARLSON: I would just say that this is a -- not a leading indicator. It's the last indicator of this whole pivot point. The economy and our culture and the population have totally changed in the last 25 years, and the people in charge didn't notice. And so everything is changing, not just our politics.

BAIER: OK, panel, thank you.

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