MELISSA BLOCK, host:
To St. Paul, Minnesota now and the second day of the Republican National Convention. My co-host, Robert Siegel, is there, and he's talking with many of the people who will try to unite the party behind John McCain this week. Among them is Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, whose politics are very much about his faith.
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
Senator Brownback, good to see you.
Senator SAM BROWNBACK (Republican, Kansas): Good to see you again.
SIEGEL: I want you to tell us how significant it was to you, as someone who's very important in the - let's say, in the religious wing of the Republican Party and the social conservative in many ways, that Sarah Palin was named to the ticket.
Sen. BROWNBACK: Well, it was a big hit, and it is a big hit. I think it's going to be a big hit across the country. But with that community, with the social conservative community, I had people coming up to me at church yesterday that haven't been excited for four years, are excited and pumped.
At dinner last night, we were over at our neighbors', and they had some of their friends over, and they were excited. I mean, we just haven't had any excitement in the party for four years, and people are excited now. So it seems like to me, it's a big gamble from the sense that, okay, what all may come out, this the first time in the national media exposure. But the initial play is this has been a big hit.
SIEGEL: But I mean, you were in the race for a while. Mitt Romney was in the race for a long time. Rudy Giuliani was in the race for some time. Mike Huckabee came out of nowhere and did very well. No excitement at all out there in the past few years? I mean, it took the vice-presidential nomination to inject some excitement into this?
Sen. BROWNBACK: Well, maybe it took that along with John McCain and, you know, the social conservatives not exactly sure about John McCain and then throwing out the name of Joe Lieberman as a possibility.
SIEGEL: That would've been, I gather, a disaster for the same people…
Sen. BROWNBACK: You know, and Joe is a good friend of mine, and they were talking to me about doing the nominating speech, but as that name was floated out there, people were just saying just absolutely not. He's just not with us on a number of core issues, even though he is with us on security.
SIEGEL: They were talking to you about possibly nominating Senator Lieberman for vice president.
Sen. BROWNBACK: Yes. Who - I love Joe. And I work with him, work with him a lot, but the response I was getting from people was negative.
SIEGEL: You might actually have stood at the podium and faced a hostile floor of delegates.
Sen. BROWNBACK: I'm not sure it would've passed.
(Soundbite of laughter)
It just - it's not the…
SIEGEL: It's not the sort of thing you're supposed to bring to a national convention.
Sen. BROWNBACK: Not the thing you're supposed to bring, even though he's a good friend of mine. He's a good friend of John McCain's. And I think why John was thinking about him is because they're good friends, they work well together, and they're particularly working well on security issues.
SIEGEL: What does it say about Senator McCain's relation to social issues if he could have gone one week for Joe Lieberman and the next week for Sarah Palin?
Sen. BROWNBACK: Well, but he didn't. And I think what was happening is as they were floating issues, and he was trying to sense what is a choice that can move us on forward. Plus, I don't think one should discount at all the ability now to be able to say that you can vote for either ticket and you're voting for an historic ticket. Whether the first minority as president or the first female vice president, this is a historic pick.
SIEGEL: That's now guaranteed...
Sen. BROWNBACK: That's guaranteed.
SIEGEL: Senator Brownback, thanks a lot for talking to us once again.
Sen. BROWNBACK: Good to join you.
SIEGEL: I spoke with Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas yesterday. This morning, I spoke with an aide to Senator Brownback, who offered a clarification of the senator's conversation about possibly nominating Joseph Lieberman.
He said that Senator John McCain spoke with Brownback about possibly nominating the vice-presidential candidate, but he didn't mention specific names. And a senior aide to McCain called Brownback and said it could be somebody who was pro-choice.
Senator Brownback, based on those conversations, prepared a nominating speech for the Independent Democrat from Connecticut, Joseph Lieberman.