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Bob Schieffer Reflects On His 20th Convention

(DENVER) I caught up with CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer inside one of the CBS News trailers at the Democratic National Convention site. This is the 20th convention from which Bob has reported during his career in broadcasting, but he says he's still not sick of them.

Schieffer On Covering The Conventions:

"I just love them. They're not what they used to be — they used to be a lot more spontaneous than they are now. Now they're more like infomercials or an auto show where the manufacturer roles out the new model and the press comes, kicks the tires, and writes a story about the new model."

"This is one of the few times in American life when people actually gather around the television set and listen to a political speech."

"Every one of them is different and they're all fun. In 1972, which was my second convention, George McGovern didn't make his acceptance speech until 3 in the morning, which is primetime in Guam. That was the most tumultuous except for the '68 convention, of course, when there was rioting in the streets."

Schieffer will host the final 2008 presidential debate on Oct. 15 at Hofstra University in New York.

"People always ask me, 'Do you get nervous on television?' And the true answer is that I don't. I mean, I've done it so long that I don't. Being on television is sort of like being a professional athlete. First you learn how to play the game, then you learn how to play in front of other people, and after that you're just kind of zoned in — you don't know that people are there. But for the first time in 25 years, when I was standing backstage at that [2004] debate, I really had butterflies."

"After the debate, I asked Kerry at one point — I saw him some place months after the election — and I said, 'Were you nervous? I was really nervous.' And he gave me this long answer. I came away from it not knowing whether he was nervous or not. It just happened that a couple of weeks later I was at something where the president was and I said, 'Mr. President, I'm just curious, I was nervous. Were you nervous?' He said, 'Hell, yes! How do you think I would feel?' And I always thought that maybe, whether you agreed with him or not, maybe that was why George Bush got elected. At least you understood what he was saying."

On How He Prepares For Debates:

"I'm still an old-fashioned guy. I don't save things electronically. I clip them out of the newspaper."

On Barack Obama's selection of Joe Biden as his running mate:

"I think it's an excellent choice. My understanding is that Barack Obama and his wife both wanted someone in the beginning that they would feel comfortable with — someone they thought of as a 'friend'. They were thinking about Gov. Kaine and maybe Evan Bayh. They hadn't really focused on Biden. But I'm told some of the top advisers to Obama came to him and said we really need to add some heft to this ticket."

"He really is the acknowledged expert on foreign policy in the Democratic Party and he's had so much experience. I think it was clearly a recognition on their part that there are some gaps in Obama's resume. You know, the McCain campaign's effort to picture him as sort of an empty suit celebrity — that's not accurate. Anybody who's read his biography knows that this man is an intellectual for sure. He's a man who's given a lot of thought to the issues of our time. He has a questioning mind. But he hadn't had much experience. And I think this is kind of a recognition of that."

On John McCain's VP choice:

"I think if John McCain had his druthers — if he could do what he wanted to — he'd put Joe Lieberman on the ticket in a minute. They're very close. He just thinks the world of him, but if he did that I think a lot of the Republicans would really go nuts. Number one, he's pro-choice. If he feels that it's really necessary for him to carry Michigan and that's going to be crucial, I think he'll put Romney on the campaign. Now mind you, John McCain is not ever going to ask Mitt Romney to go fishing. They don't like each other very much, but you know, the Kennedy family didn't like Lyndon Johnson very much, but they figured that was the only way they could win, so they were willing to take a deep breath and do it."

"Candidates do what they think they have to do to win."

A Final Thought:

"Romney may not get on the ticket because of the house comment. Biden may have gotten on the ticket because of Britney Spears."