Schieffer, Plante on the Democratic conventions' most memorable moments
(CBS News) CHARLOTTE, N.C. - If President Obama's convention speech this week is anything like then-Senator Obama's address in 2004, "you'll see a bump coming out of it, there's no question about that," "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer told White House correspondent Bill Plante. Merging their combined 90-plus years covering politics for CBS News, the convention veterans watched over the floor Monday as first lady Michelle Obama performed her sound check, remembering the best and worst moments of Democratic conventions past, in high school-superlative fashion.
The most moving speech, the two concurred, was Ted Kennedy's swan song in 2008. Reprising a memorable line from his speech in 1980, when he unsuccessfully challenged Jimmy Carter for the nomination, the late Massachusetts senator, who was dying from a brain tumor, told the crowd, "the work begins anew, the hope rises again, and the dream lives on."
"That was one of the most touching moments that I can remember in any campaign, Democrat or Republican," Schieffer said. "They didn't know if his health would be good enough even that he could travel to the convention. They didn't know 'til last minute that he was gonna be there, and he got there, and he made one of the best - I mean, no matter what party you were a member of, if you have an appreciation of political speeches - he made a great speech there. And of course, knowing that he had just literally days to live made it even more dramatic."
Honors for the worst speech in recent convention history, the pair agreed, go to Bill Clinton for his 1988 remarks introducing that cycle's nominee, Michael Dukakis. "I don't think there's any contest," Plante said.
"He started out really good, but then he just went on and on and on," Schieffer said. Drawing a finger across his neck, Plante recalled, "you could see people in the audience going like this." Clinton's biggest applause line, the two remembered, was when he said, "In conclusion" - "The house went wild," Plante said. But while "everybody said at that moment that his political career was over," Schieffer said of the then-Arkansas governor, four years later he went on to win the party's nomination and ultimately the presidency.
For funniest speech, Plante nominated then-Texas treasurer Ann Richards, who in 1988 "just roasted poor George H.W. Bush to beat the band."
Bush, who would go on to win the general election that year, "had made a few gaffes along the way," Schieffer said, "and Ann Richards gets up there and says, 'Poor George Bush. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.'" But, Plante added, "she dragged it out to about twice that length, and they laughed twice as hard."
Among, if not topping, the best speeches in Democratic convention history, Schieffer said, was President Obama's speech in Boston in 2004, when he was a relatively unknown junior senator from Illinois. "He laid a speech on them," Schieffer said, "and everybody came out of that speech saying, I don't know where this guy's going, but..." Plante concluded: "Someday, someday, he's gonna be president."
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