Sen. Zell Miller, D-Ga., will make political history at the Republican National Convention, as the only person to deliver the keynote address conventions of opposing parties in the very same convention hall.
Tonight, at New York's Madison Square Garden, Miller will deliver the keynote address at the Republican National Convention.
When Bill Clinton was first nominated 12 years ago during the Democratic National Convention at the very same areana, Miller won rave reviews for declaring, "George [H.W.] Bush just doesn't get it."
Now on the verge of retirement, Miller tells Peter Jennings it's the Democrats who just don't get it. The following is an excerpt of the interview:
JENNINGS: Let me just ask you first about [your convention] speech. Are you excited about giving it?
SEN. MILLER: Yes, I'm looking forward to it. I have something I want to tell these people.
JENNINGS: Which is?
MILLER: Why a lifelong Democrat, who has voted for 13 Democratic presidential candidates, going all the way back to 1952, is here supporting a Republican for re-election.
JENNINGS: Big change, though not an immediate change for you. Why the change?
MILLER: There's really not been a great deal of change, because 72-year-old men don't change very much in their ways. I've been set in my ways for a long time because I'm a conservative Democrat, and there used to be a time where there was room for conservatives in the Democratic Party, but no more. But the main reason, of course, is because 9/11 changed everything. And I want the commander in chief of this country to be strong and relentless and take this fight to the terrorists, on their territory, if at all possible. I want a president who will grab them by the neck and not let them go to get a better grip.
JENNINGS: Well what makes you think that John Kerry wouldn't grab him by the neck — to use your phrase?
MILLER: I think that when John Kerry came back from Vietnam, he was unsure of whether America was a force for good or evil. And I think there's a certain amount of that uncertainty with the man still there. He talked about it in his convention speech, about that he saw the complexities of things. Well, when I hear a politician talk about seeing the complexities of things, that means it's a person that sees nothing but gray. They don't see black and white. They suffer from analysis paralysis, and they have a hard time making a decision. Jimmy Carter, a good man, saw the complexities of things. Bill Clinton, to a certain extent, saw the complexities of things. Ronald Reagan, Harry Truman, they didn't see the complexities of things. They acted.
JENNINGS: Does that mean to you that Bill Clinton, for example, who you once called a brilliant governor and with whom I think you got along pretty well, was not a good president?