updated 5/29/2012 3:13:27 PM ET 2012-05-29T19:13:27

Guests: Bernie Sanders, Errol Louis, James Peterson, Judith Browne Dianis, Mike Papantonio, Jimmy Williams, Ruth Conniff, Caroline Heldman


ED SCHULTZ, HOST: Good evening, Americans. And welcome to THE ED
SHOW, live from Minneapolis tonight.

Republicans say the president`s attacks on Mitt Romney`s job record
aren`t working. As usual, they are totally wrong.

This is THE ED SHOW -- let`s get to work.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There may be value for
that kind of experience, but it`s not in the White House.

SCHULTZ (voice-over): The president keeps dropping the hammer on Mitt
Romney and has harsh words for his opponent`s lies.

OBAMA: That speech was more like a cow pie distortion.

SCHULTZ: Tonight, Senator Bernie Sanders on what Mitt Romney`s cow
pie of distortion will do to the country.

JOY BEHAR, TV HOST: I have something for you my birth certificate.

DONALD TRUMP, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: I`d like to see Obama`s.

SCHULTZ: Donald Trump`s crazy conspiracy theories are causing trouble
for the Romney campaign.

TRUMP: There`s something on that birth certificate that he doesn`t
like.

Nobody`s come forward saying I delivered that beautiful baby.

First of all, I haven`t seen it. I`m looking to that. I`ll look at
it later.

SCHULTZ: Errol Louis and James Peterson on Mitt Romney`s refusal to
cut ties with his out of control surrogate.

And why aren`t big-name Democrats coming to Wisconsin to support Tom
Barrett? My commentary and my advice for the president are ahead.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHULTZ: Good to have you with us tonight, folks. Thanks for
watching.

Republicans are still crying foul over the Obama campaign strategy
against Mitt Romney`s record. But President Obama is keeping his foot on
the gas when it comes to talking about Mitt Romney`s credentials.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I know Governor Romney came to Des Moines last week, warned
about a prairie fire of debt. That`s what he said, prairie fire.

But he left out some facts. His speech was more like a cow pie of
distortion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Mr. Romney has to rely on a cow pie of distortion because he
can`t rely on the truth. Romney likes to say President Obama has made the
national debt larger than all other presidents combined. Actually, the
debt is up by about half under President Obama. It tripled under Ronald
Reagan. Don`t forget the majority of our current debt is from the Bush tax
cuts and unpaid wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Federal spending under President Obama is growing at the slowest rate
since the 1950s. Mitt Romney needed to distort President Obama`s record in
Iowa because Romney seems to have problems when he tries to talk about his
own policies in Iowa.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are various ways of
doing that. One is we could raise taxes on people. That`s not the way --
corporations are people, my friend. We can raise taxes on. Of course they
are. Everything corporations raise goes to people.

Where do you think it goes? People`s pockets.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: There was also a time when a struggling Iowa worker asked
Mitt Romney how he could keep jobs in it state. He said, "The term is
called productivity, out put per person. Our productivity equals our
income." In other words, go work harder.

I guess Mitt Romney has never seen this chart. Income has leveled off
over the last 30 years, but productivity just keeps going up by American
workers.

President Obama certainly understands how out of touch Mitt Romney is
when it comes to American workers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The problem with our economy isn`t that the American people
aren`t productive enough. You`re working harder than ever. Productivity
is through the roof. It`s been going up consistently over the last decade.

The challenge we face right now, the challenge we faced for a decade
is that harder work hasn`t led to higher incomes. Bigger profits haven`t
led to better jobs, and you can`t solve that problem if you can`t even see
that it`s a problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Mitt Romney has a hard time seeing a lot of problems. He`s
still coming to grips with the time he said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I like being able to fire people and provide services to me.
If someone doesn`t give me the good service I need, I want to say, you
know, I`m going to get somebody else to provide that service to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: In a "Wall Street Journal" interview, Romney said he
regretted that comment, but he only regretted it because it made him look
bad. He said it "made me want to kick myself in the seat of the pants.
I`ve had a couple of those during the campaign, which have haunted me a
little bit, but I`m sure before this over, it will haunt me a lot."

Mitt Romney is a guy who really looks out for himself. This is why
President Obama will continue to hammer Mitt Romney over his record in the
private sector. This is why Bain Capital is no doubt fair game. Romney
says the successful ventures of Bain Capital qualify him for the
presidency.

President Obama takes issue with Romney`s logic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Sometimes it goes the other way. Workers get laid off.
Benefits disappear. Pensions are cut. Factories go dark. In some cases
companies are loaded up with debt not to make the companies more
productive, not to buy new equipment, to keep them at the cutting edge, but
just to pay investors. That may be the job of somebody who is engaged in
corporate buy outs. That`s fine.

But that`s not the job of a president. That`s not the president`s
job.

There may be value for that kind of experience but it`s not in the
White House.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: The Republicans picked this fight. They decided Mitt
Romney`s business background was his greatest strength. It might be his
biggest weakness and right now, it is the best talking point and
presentation for the Obama administration and campaign.

Get your cell phones out. I want to know what you think. Tonight`s
question: Will Mitt Romney get away with his cow pies of distortion? Text
A for yes., text b for now, to 622639. You can always go to our blog at
Ed.MSNBC.com. We`ll bring the results later in the show.

Joining me tonight is independent senator from Vermont, Bernie
Sanders.

Senator, good to have you with us tonight.

Have the Democrats done a good job in defining Mitt Romney early in
this campaign? What do you think?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: I think they have done a reasonable
job. But we can do and Democrats can do a lot better.

Look, at the end of the day, after everything is said and done, what
Romney`s economics is about is trickle-down economic theory. That`s what
George W. Bush practiced for eight years. We lost during that period
600,000 jobs. Median income went down. The rich got richer. Poverty
increased.

So, I think what the Democrats have got to be very clear about and
what the president has got to be very clear about is to say we cannot
afford to give more tax breaks to the richest people in this country when
we already have the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any
major country on earth and it`s far greater in this country than in any
time since the 1920s.

We can`t do more deregulation of Wall Street when deregulating Wall
Street caused the horrendous recession which has led to so much suffering
in America.

In my view, you can`t do more unfettered free trade when we`ve lost
6,000 factories in the last six years. And, by the way, that is Mitt
Romney`s economic program. End of discussion. That`s all he has.

SCHULTZ: There`s no doubt about it.

What do you see his biggest weakness right now? The Romney campaign
as they seem to be counter-punching quite a bit on the defensive. What is
their biggest weakness as you see it?

SANDERS: I think the biggest weakness is when you pare away all of
the rhetoric, they`ve got nothing to say about how they`re going to create
decent-paying jobs in America. Their biggest weaknesses, they support the
Paul Ryan Republican budget, which will devastate Medicare, Medicaid,
education.

His biggest weakness is he doesn`t want to invest in infrastructure or
transform our energy system. Bottom line, this guy is as clear as I can
see a candidate of the rich and large corporations, and I think if the
Democrats go after him effectively, he`s got no legs to stand on.

SCHULTZ: It is just the extension of the Bush years as I see it,
Senator. There`s an "Associated Press" report out that shows that top CEO
pay in this country is equal to 3,489 years of pay for a typical worker in
this country.

How in the world can Republicans go around denying the existence of
income inequality in this country? Just those numbers alone tell the
story. What are your thoughts on that?

SANDERS: Ed, I think as a nation we have got to focus on this issue.
Let me give you one fact, just one fact. The latest statistic we have from
2010 showed that 93 percent of all new income created during that year went
to the top 1 percent.

So, the whole economy, all of the economic growth is going to make the
richest people richer while ordinary people are working longer hours for
lower wages. And t hat is the kind of economic mentality that a Mitt
Romney has.

And Obama was quite right in saying that we have to make sure that
when economic growth occurs, the middle class benefits, working people
benefit and not just the wealthiest people in America.

SCHULTZ: Senator, I don`t want to take you off topic or blind side
you here, but you`re one of the revered voices of liberals in this country,
and there`s been a lot of discussion starting to heat up in what`s going on
in Wisconsin with the recall with relationship to Citizens United. You`ve
seen the governor defending himself with outside money. He`s out spent his
opponent 25 to 1.

I want your thoughts and I think the audience wants your thoughts on
what`s unfolding in Wisconsin. What does it mean? We`ve heard a lot of
Republicans who are coming in and defending Scott Walker saying this has
big ramifications beyond the vote on June 5th.

I`d be curious to know, what are your thoughts on what`s unfolding in
Wisconsin, and what does it mean?

SANDERS: Well, two thoughts. I hope that Tom Barrett wins. I hope
we can show the entire country that right wing extremism as practiced by
Governor Walker is not going to work.

But the other thing, Ed, that you just indicated that we are seeing,
is that with Citizens United now, billionaires and corporations can pump as
much money as they want into the political process. We`re seeing it in
Wisconsin. We`re seeing it in the presidential election. We`re seeing it
all over this country.

I just saw an article the other day where the bankers association is
saying, hey, in so many words, we are prepared. You want to oppose us, you
want to have -- protect consumers, we`re prepared to spend a half a
million, a million dollars on your opponent.

So, what you`re seeing right now is big money exercising their power
in way we have never seen in many, many, many decades.

SCHULTZ: Senator Bernie Sanders, always great to have you with us.
Have a great memorial weekend, appreciate what you do. Thanks so much.

Remember to answer tonight`s question there at the bottom of the
screen. Share your thoughts on Twitter @EdShow. We want to know what you
think.

Trump embraces birtherism and Romney embraces Trump. And that is a
big problem for the Republican candidate. Errol Louis and James Peterson
join me for the discussion.

How much will Mitt Romney`s car elevator cost? Our panel will take a
guess at that. Mike Papantonio, Caroline Heldman and Jimmy Williams weigh
in on that tonight.

Lots more coming up. Stay with us. We`re right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: Coming up, does Mitt Romney need to denounce his birther
surrogate? Donald Trump is becoming a big problem. That`s next.

And Republicans are trying to win the presidential election before a
vote is cast. We`ll have a report on the latest voter suppression effort
in Ohio.

With a possible dead heat in Wisconsin, could President Obama put
Democrats over the top? My commentary on why the president needs to get
involved, coming up.

Share your thought on Twitter using #EdShow. We`re coming right back.
Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEHAR: I have something for you, my birth certificate. Don`t believe
it.

TRUMP: I`d like to see Obama`s.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

They can joke about Donald Trump`s embrace of birtherism but it`s a
real problem for Mitt Romney because he has fully embrace Donald Trump as a
surrogate and fundraiser.

Here is the invitation to dine with Mitt and Donald. Trump, Romney
and Newt Gingrich will hold a fund-raiser in Las Vegas next week at the
Trump Towers. Today, Trump fired up the crazy talk about President Obama.
A literary agent had mistakenly written that President Obama was born in
Kenya and Trump, of course, went nuts over this.

"That`s the way life works," he said. "He didn`t know he was running
for president so he told the truth. A literary agent wrote done what he
said. He said he was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia. Now they are
saying it was a mistake."

Well, of course, Trump is flat out wrong but he wants to stroke all
this insanity one more time.

Here is what Romney advisor Eric Fehrnstrom said today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC FEHRNSTROM, ROMNEY ADVISOR: I can`t speak for Donald Trump. But
I can tell you that Mitt Romney accepts that President Obama was born in
the United States. He doesn`t view the place of birth as an issue in this
campaign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: It`s simply not enough. This is the man that Mitt Romney is
embracing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

TRUMP: They make these birthers into the worst it is. Why didn`t he
show his birth certificate?

I want him to show his birth certificate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why?

TRUMP: There`s something on there that he doesn`t like.

You have to be born in the country. There`s no birth certificate.
There`s only a certificate of live birth, which is a totally different
thing.

You ask about a birth certificate. How come there are no records that
his mother was ever in the hospital?

He`s got a certificate of live birth. That`s -- by the way, despite
what certain liberal press said, that`s not a birth certificate.

Look, he`s got a grandmother in Kenya who said he was born in Kenya at
the hospital. Either he wasn`t born in the country or he doesn`t have a
birth certificate or there`s something on the birth certificate that he
doesn`t want people to see.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think that would be?

TRUMP: I don`t know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His religion --

TRUMP: Maybe it says he`s Muslim.

You don`t have a doctor or a nurse. He`s the president of the United
States and no doctor, no nurse, nobody`s come forward saying I delivered
that beautiful baby.

First of all, I haven`t seen it. I`m looking at that. I`ll look at
it later. I don`t need to look at your copy.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

SCHULTZ: Let`s turn to host of New York 1`s "Inside City Hall". And
James Peterson with us tonight, director of African Studies and associate
professor of English at Lehigh University.

Gentlemen, let`s have a discussion about this. We know this dog and
pony show about a birth certificate has been going on since the day Barack
Obama was sworn in and people like Donald Trump just won`t let it go. He
loves the media and the attention so much.

It`s well-documented the president is an American citizen. That was
settled a long time ago. But, of course, Trump just keeps going on and
Romney won`t distance himself from it.

Errol Louis, what`s your thought on this. What should Romney do?

ERROL LOUIS, HOST, NY1`S "INSIDE CITY HALL": I almost have a little
sympathy for Romney. He`s trying to raise money and reach people. He`s
trying to do what candidates are supposed to do. Have a conversation with
the country of 300-odd million people.

And here you have this guy who is just addicted to these kind of side
show antics. I mean, it`s pure showbiz.

Donald Trump, I`ve interviewed him. He`s a smart guy. He`s very
knowledgeable. He knows that this is a bunch of hogwash.

I think he wants the headlines. He likes to see sort of people spin
around and to be the cause of it. He`s just stealing the spotlight from
his candidate. I don`t know if he realizes just how much damage he is
doing to a guy he says he wants to be president.

SCHULTZ: James Peterson what about the candidate? Has Romney done
enough?

JAMES PETERSON, LEHIGH UNIVERSITY: I have no sympathy for Romney
here. He`s got to got to stand up and make it very, very clear he doesn`t
ride with this basis elements of Republican Party.

It`s all well and good for Donald Trump to run the side show because
that`s basically what he does. That`s how he keeps brand out there.
That`s how he keeps people talking about him. That`s how he stays in the
news.

But a presidential candidate has got to conduct himself much
differently and Romney has to rise above this fray if he really wants to
aspire to be the president of this country.

SCHULTZ: Here is another Romney advisor speaking today. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEVIN MADDEN, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN: Governor Romney had made clear that he
disagrees with comments like that. He`s made it clear every single time
it`s become a topic of conversation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: He makes it very clear. Is that sufficient? He doesn`t
make it clear because Romney turns around and goes and raises money with
Donald Trump.

Errol, what about that?

LOUIS: That`s right. I mean, look, if nothing clear he`s got to make
clear the campaign that he`s running is going to be his message on the
topics that he and his campaign team have determined are going to be the
story of the day, the week, the issues that he wants to put forward before
the country, at a very difficult time and a very important election.

And if he can`t do that that does call into question issues of
leadership and not just campaign discipline but the ability to lead the
country. If he can`t lead his own campaign and keep a couple of crazy
backers in line, it does raise the question of what`s he going to do if he
has real responsibility in the Oval Office?

PETERSON: Errol`s right here, Ed.

SCHULTZ: Go ahead.

PETERSON: Errol is right here. This is the time for Romney to move
towards the center, to capture those independent voters. He can`t do that
by following behind Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Here is what Obama campaign`s national press secretary Ben
LaBolt said today about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN LABOLT, OBAMA CAMPAIGN: If I can put the president`s birth
certificate on my forehead and Mr. Trump wouldn`t accept he was born here.
It raises a question as to whether Romney will embrace the extreme voices
in his party or stand up to them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Dr. Peterson, this cost Romney votes and the campaign knows
it.

PETERSON: Yes.

SCHULTZ: So, is Romney smart enough to put a stop to it?

PETERSON: No, he`s not. And listen, he`s not going to stand up
because he hasn`t done so up to this point. I mean, he doesn`t really -- I
don`t think he has the hard core conservative bona fides to actually
convince them he`s one of them anyway. But he hasn`t shown any indication
that he actually is going to stand tall and sort of separate himself,
distance himself from this kind of clap shot that comes from the extreme
right.

SCHULTZ: Yes, it`s not just Mitt Romney. I mean, the GOP leadership
handles this with a wink and a nod. We talked about it quite a bit. I
think it`s absolutely disgraceful, but it just shows how far Romney will
go. I just don`t think he`s really man of character. He knows what the
story is all about. He ought to tell his surrogates not to mislead people
in the country.

Will this birther nonsense, Errol, be taking place if we had a white
president?

LOUIS: Oh, man, that`s a tough one. I mean, a version of this did
come up with John McCain four years ago, because he was in Panama, the
Canal Zone. And there was some question about whether or not that means he
was or wasn`t a natural born citizen ands eligible to be president.

I don`t know. I mean, look, there are people who just never accepted
the outcome of the election. They work their hearts out. They don`t like
the philosophy. They don`t understand where Obama came from.

And this is sort of a short hand way of saying -- I just can`t accept
what happened in 2008, that most of the people in this country wanted
Barack Obama to be president.

PETERSON: That`s right.

SCHULTZ: Dr. Peterson, would we be putting up with this if it was a
white president?

PETERSON: Absolutely not. Remember, we put that issue to bed with
John McCain absolutely immediately. Errol, again, is right here, this is
just a way -- when we talk about the othering of the president, there`s
just some folk who is cannot accept the fact that we have a black
president.

And that`s really outside the realm of politics, Ed. It really is.
But those folks are satiated by these kinds of stories and they will keep
the kind of birther otherism stories alive for the entire time that
President Obama is occupying this office.

SCHULTZ: Otherism, a new word. There`s no doubt about that. That`s
what it`s all about.

Errol Louis, James Peterson, great to have you on the program tonight.
Thanks so much.

We all know that Ohio helped George W. Bush win the 2004 election.
Will it put Mitt Romney over the top in 2012? Next, we`ll take a look at
the Republican efforts to suppress voting in the Buckeye State. It`s
pretty amazing what they`re doing.

And President Obama is nowhere to be seen in Wisconsin in the recall
battle. Tonight, I`m urging the president to take a stand with the Badger
State. My commentary ahead.

Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW

Florida helped put George W. Bush over the top in the 2000
presidential election. Last night, we told you about the effort under way
to Sunshine State to purge Hispanics, Democratic and independent voters
from the voting rolls.

Ohio, back in action. Well, of course, that was the key for George W.
Bush`s victory in 2004. And now, Republicans in that state want to punish
voters for the mistakes poll workers make.

Dahlia Lithwick of Slate.com reported Republicans are seeking to
overturn a 2010 consent decree issued by a federal judge. The decree
established that a valid ballot cast by an eligible voter should not be
thrown out in the case of poll worker making a mistake. In other words,
the decree obviously protects voters.

Republican state lawmakers filed an action in the Ohio Supreme Court,
but the judge who issued the decree ordered the lawmakers to stop
challenging it. Now, the Republican secretary of state is starting to step
in. And he says he will seek to invalidate the decree. It`s just the
latest effort by Ohio Republicans to suppress the vote.

The Republican Party also tried to prohibit poll workers from
assisting voters. If a voter showed up at the wrong place and started
asking questions, well, you can`t help them. Republicans inserted language
into a bill that banned poll workers from answering simple voter questions
about, "OK, where do I go?" if I`m at the wrong place. The Republicans
don`t want that question answered. The legislation was withdrawn after it
was set to be rejected by voters in a referendum.

So this is a power play. How is it going to play out? I`m joined
tonight by Judith Browne Dianis, attorney and co-director of the
Advancement Project. Judith, great to have you with us tonight.

You bet. This is real power struggle. You have a federal judge and a
secretary of state in Ohio locking horns on this. Where does this stand
right now and who is going to win this thing?

JUDITH BROWNE DIANIS, ATTORNEY: Well, it`s at a stand still for the
moment. We have to put Ohio in perspective. What`s happening in Ohio is
part of the pattern of what`s happened across the country, where states are
trying to make it harder to vote for those who turned out in record numbers
in 2008. So black voters, Latino voters, students, college students and
the elderly.

And so this is really about suppressing the vote. The idea by the
right wing is that if you make it harder for those groups to vote, they
won`t turn out. If they don`t turn out, you win. So that`s what this is
pattern of.

For the state to say -- I mean, this is ridiculous. Think about it,
Ed. If you show up at the wrong polling place, the poll worker doesn`t
have to tell you where to go. Why are we making it harder for people. The
reason we`re making it harder is because we don`t want them to vote.
That`s the right wing conspiracy.

SCHULTZ: Well, I think it speaks volumes of how they feel about the
elderly in this country. Let`s face it, the elderly come in. They may not
be as secure as younger voters. They start asking some questions. They
don`t get answers. I`m amazed that the Republicans would go so far to have
workers -- what are the workers there for? They`re there to help the
people, to make sure that democracy works.

This is not about voter fraud. Judith, don`t you think this is the
big message. This is not about voter fraud at all.

DIANIS: No, this is not about voter fraud. They are not preventing
fraud. They are preventing voting. So we need to understand that this is
-- the right wing had a plan. The plan was to make it harder to vote for
those who turned out in 2008. You think about it, Ohio we have to put it
in context. We have a fight over collective bargaining in Ohio.

The same people who want to take our jobs, who have taken our homes,
now want to take our vote so that we cannot participate. They know what
they are up to, and they`re trying to make it harder for partisan gain.

SCHULTZ: Do we know when the Ohio Supreme Court is going to intervene
on this? Or you`ve got the federal judge telling the secretary of state to
back off. What has to be done? What can Ohio residents do about this?
What`s the next alert?

DIANIS: Well, the great thing in Ohio is there`s been a lot of
activity by the unions, by civic engagement groups and by the citizens.
They keep pushing. And we have to keep the heat on, not only in Ohio but
in states like Florida and Pennsylvania, where they have passed these voter
suppression laws. In Florida, where they are trying to purge hundreds of
thousands of people, we have to keep the pressure on.

We don`t know what`s going to happen in the courts. But the bottom
line is that the secretary of state of Ohio could actually do something
about this. Unfortunately, he wants to do the wrong thing. He doesn`t
want to be on the side of voter participation. He wants to be on the side
of voter suppression.

SCHULTZ: Well, we will contact the Ohio secretary of state and try to
get him on this program next week and try to have explain -- we want him to
explain to us what`s the mission here. Why are they doing this? This
seems so partisan after a federal judge has made a ruling on it. We`re
going to follow up on it.

Judith Brown Dianis, thank you so much for joining us tonight. We
appreciate it.

There`s a lot more coming up. Stay with us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COFFMAN: In his heart, he`s not an American. He`s just not an
American.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: The birther Congressman who attacked the president makes it
even worse today.

And the John Edwards trial take a crazy turn. Was John Edwards busted
flirting with a juror. A big panel is all over it tonight.

And in Wisconsin, the numbers keep getting better for Tom Barrett.
But could President Obama put him over the top in the Walker recall. My
advise for the president is ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: Welcome back. Earlier this month, Republican Congressman
Mike Coffman told a group of right wingers President Obama is, quote, not
an American. He followed that stunt with this bizarre performance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COFFMAN: I think that as -- I stand by my statement that I misspoke
and I apologize.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who are you apologizing to?

COFFMAN: I stand by my statement that I spoke and I apologize.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Coffman then offered another half-hearted apology, published
in the "Denver Post." Now the congressman is making the rounds on right
wing radio and is admitting that he only walked back his original assertion
about the president`s citizenship and patriotism for political reasons.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you just at that moment speaking what was in
your heart and are you now feeling you need to walk it back for political
reasons?

COFFMAN: To some extent, that`s true, because I think that when
Republicans are not talking about jobs and the economy, when we`re not on
message, I think the other side is winning.

Look, I just think that that`s a horrible issue for Republicans. I
think that`s a victory for -- every day that we`re talking about that is a
victory for the president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Let`s turn to Mike Papantonio, Caroline Heldman and Jimmy
Williams, with us tonight on our panel. Caroline, what is it? These
people just will not get it right when it comes to picking on the
president, going so far as to say that he`s not an American and then
walking it back, and walking it back the other way again. What do we make
of this?

CAROLINE HELDMAN, OCCIDENTAL COLLEGE: Ed, I think this is the new
southern strategy. It`s using racial fear. In fact, if you listen to
Representative Coffman`s words, he was very clear. He didn`t say he wasn`t
born -- he didn`t say Obama wasn`t born in the U.S. He said he`s not
American. So he is playing upon fears of certain whites that in order to
be American, you have to be white.

This is the most absurd racism. And a University of Delaware study
finds that Birthers have more racial prejudice, not surprising given these
comments.

SCHULTZ: Mike, they`re never going to dial it down, are they?

MIKE PAPANTONIO, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: They can`t. Look, this man`s
doing the same thing that Mitt Romney is doing. He`s trying to appeal to
the Tea Party in a way where he says, I`m one of you. It`s almost -- it`s
almost like he`s throwing a party and inviting the Tea Party, but asking
them to use the service elevator or the back door.

It`s almost -- we see Mitt Romney doing it. We see this man doing it.
He`s trying to appeal to this fringe. It`s like with Mitt. It`s the same
tactic. Mitt knows that he can`t embrace these people. He can put his arm
around them, but he can`t pull them in too close. Because what we do know
is this: the crazy talk that comes from that fringe, it alienates people.
It alienates the independent voters. It alienates the moderates. It
alienates the Wall Street money.

So Coffman is in the same boat exactly. You can`t really embrace all
this crazy talk. That`s why he says it and then backs off.

SCHULTZ: Jimmy, what should Democrats do about this, just keep
calling it out, because it`s just got a pattern here? It just won`t stop.

JIMMY WILLIAMS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: My old boss Dick Durbin once
told me about Newt Gingrich. He said what do you do when a train is going
to hit a wall? I said I don`t know, senator. What do you do. He goes,
get out of the way and watch it.

So here`s the deal. This guy is not a political novice. He was
secretary of state of Colorado. He was the state treasurer. He was
elected statewide year after year, election after election. It`s not like
he hasn`t done this before, and it`s not like he`s been in the statewide,
now national spotlight, if you will.

The only thing I can deduce from this is that when an idiot wants to
say idiotic things, we let them keep saying and we make sure that we talk
about it. He`s right. I would say that Congressman Coffman is right.
Every day that he`s talking about this and we`re talking about this,
they`re not talking about the things that people care about like the
economy, jobs, lower education costs, et cetera, et cetera.

So I`m a big fan of this guy. I think he`s fabulous. I think we
should keep talking about him every single day.

SCHULTZ: All right. This next story really -- I`m surprised by it.
It was day six of jury deliberations in the John Edwards trial. ABC News
reporting that Edwards is flirting with one of the alternate jurors.
Here`s what the "Washington Post" reports: "the alternates enter the
courtroom each day giggling among themselves. One of the alternates, an
attractive young woman, has been spotted smiling at Edwards and flirting --
flipping her hair in what seems to be some of a flirtatious manner. On
Friday, she wore a revealing red top with a single strap and exposed right
shoulder."

With your courtroom experience, Mike, what is going on here?

PAPANTONIO: Well, sometimes you don`t know what to make of it. I`ve
had trials where the juror has been throwing kissing to my opponent and at
the end of the trial, they pour my opponent out. It`s very tough to read
into all this. First of all, this is an alternate juror. The chance of
her having any input into this is slim to none.

It does raise the question. I think in this situation Edwards had
enough sense to minimize it, not respond. His defense lawyers told him
look, whatever you don`t, don`t respond to all this. But one of the
reasons the defense didn`t put him on the stand is they were afraid he
might turn into his perfect hair character. He might turn into his
presidential campaign character and not do that well on the stand.

So the truth is people do respond to that -- like that with John
Edwards. They did on the trial. This guy is fighting for his life. And
it`s something that could cost him 30 years. So he knows better. I don`t
think he responded in any meaningful way, from what I can read.

SCHULTZ: One other story. Median household income in the United
States is just under 52,000 dollars. The car elevator for Mitt Romney`s
California home is expected to cost 55,000 dollars. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the garage at Mitt Romney`s La Jolla
home. There are big plans for it, including a sophisticated car elevator
called the Phantom Park, that will take his cars and lower them into a
3,600 basement.

Clients include Harrison Ford and Britney Spears. Now presidential
hopeful Mitt Romney wants to install a Phantom Park is La Jolla home.
First, he will bulldoze the 3,000 square floor home and build one that`s
11,000 square feet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Caroline, how do you talk to the middle class when you have
digs like that?

HELDMAN: Exactly. This is a person who has had a silver spoon in his
mouth for many years. For many candidates, that wouldn`t necessarily
translate into being tone deaf when it comes to the working class. But in
his case it clearly does. He`s talked about being happy in firing people.
He`s talked about being a vulture capitalist as something that`s positive,
when it goes directly against the interests of most Americans.

So this is just the epitome of Mitt Romney and his silver spoon
lifestyle.

SCHULTZ: Jimmy, don`t you have an elevator like that?

WILLIAMS: No.

SCHULTZ: Just kidding.

WILLIAMS: I live in a log cabins in the mountains of Virginia built
in 1729. Are you kidding me? I would pay for an elevator like that. It`s
hard getting up those stairs.

SCHULTZ: Mike Papantonio, Caroline Heldman and Jimmy Williams, great
to have you with us on this Friday.

National Republicans are going all in to help Scott Walker in
Wisconsin. Tonight, I`m asking the president to get involved. Stay tuned.
We`re right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)


SCHULTZ: Dear Mr. President, the window on Wisconsin is closing.
There`s still time, but not much. What we are seeing playing out is
entirely predictable.

Mr. President, you called it in your 2010 State of the Union Speech.
The Supreme Court made a radical, ideological, partisan ruling in the
Citizens United case and now it`s being used to subvert democracy in
Wisconsin.

Over the last several months, we`ve witnessed enormous sums of money
get behind an effort to distort the facts in the state of Wisconsin. In
recent days, Republicans with national standing have flooded the state in
an effort to rally voters to re-elect a leader who believes that
millionaires and billionaires should be able to continue their agenda
against the middle class.

Your campaign has correctly pointed out that the election in November
will be about fairness and equality for all. It will be about giving those
with huge sums of money a fair shot at making a decent living and taking
care of families. Those who are deprived are going to have a better
chance.

You`ve talked about leveling the playing field when it comes to
education. You`re a fan of public education. You want to advocate for it.
You have. Look what you`ve done for health care. And what about jobs?
We`ve added four million jobs. No one can argue with that. Those are
numbers.

Wisconsin is about the very same thing. South Carolina Governor Nikki
Haley talking about Scott Walker said it best.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: If he loses this, it will take
the spine out of every governor across this country. If he wins this,
we`ll see more power and strength across the governors than we have seen
before.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Yes, the Republicans will have more power and strength to
carry out their attacks on the middle class. They will be emboldened, no
doubt. This is not just about Wisconsin. How about Kasich in Ohio, Scott
in Florida, Christie in New Jersey, Daniels in Indiana and Schneider in
Michigan.

I think Democrats all across this country understand that Wisconsin is
just the beginning.

Mr. President, there`s no doubt smart political observers would be
wrong to question your strategy and tactics when it comes to campaigns.
Time and time again, we saw those who did in 2008 get it wrong. Democrats
know you`re team is absolutely the best in the business.

What I want you to know tonight is that the middle class Americans who
are under attack from millionaires and billionaires, they need you, Mr.
President. They need to see you stand with them before June 5th. Nobody
is better at rallying the troops than you, Mr. President. You have a gift
that very few people possess.

I hear from the people of Wisconsin every day. They are fired up.
They want it. They know that this is a fight they can win. What they need
right now, because they see all of these commercials and all of these
Republicans pouring into the state, they need a final push. They need to
know that it`s just not a campaign talking point.

But when there`s a fight over fairness, you are going to be standing
right with them. And that`s what this fight is all about. It`s a fight
that can be won. It`s a fight that will have an impact across this nation.
It`s a fight that matters to the middle class in every corner of this
country. Mr. President, the people of Wisconsin are calling you tonight.

Please, answer the call and get to the Badger State before June 5th.

Coming up, new numbers show Tom Barrett within striking distance of
Scott Walker. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: In the Big Finish tonight, Mayor Tom Barrett of Milwaukee is
gaining ground on Scott Walker of Wisconsin. The Democratic Governors`
Association released a poll from the Mellman Group today. It shows Walker
leading by only three points with 11 days to go until the recall election.
The same poll last week had Walker up on Barrett by seven points.

I`m joined tonight by Ruth Conniff, political editor of "The
Progressive Magazine." Ruth, great to have you with us.

To my commentary a moment ago, what would a visit by President Obama
or Vice President Joe Biden do for Tom Barrett.

RUTH CONNIFF, "THE PROGRESSIVE MAGAZINE": I think the timing would be
pretty amazing. Because as you point out, with the polls shifting and the
energy building, there is this kind of surge of excitement as we close in
on June 5th. I think it would be a big boost. I think there`s no doubt
that it would be a big boost.

But also I think it would be good for Obama, because frankly, he`s
going to need the voters who came out force in 2008 and then stayed home in
2010 to be excited again in Wisconsin, and then tapping to this network of
citizens who are going to come out to the polls would be really significant
for the Obama campaign in 2012.

SCHULTZ: So his presence would give a real psychological -- have a
psychological impact on the voters to the point of maybe really motivating
them. We`re seeing the polls moving right now. I have never seen a
situation where one candidate is so out gunned, yet the people are still
keeping this thing close.

I think the president could put Barrett over the top. What do you
think?

CONNIFF: I think it would be a great surge. I think it could be
exciting. I think the people of Wisconsin could put Obama over the top.
And that`s how the president should be looking at it. In 2008, incredible
turnout that we saw in 2010, it dropped off by 800,000 voters in Wisconsin.
The president is going to need those people back at the polls. Despite all
this spending in our state, we have incredible motivation and incredibly
motivated group of voters who want to come out to the polls.

SCHULTZ: President Obama is fairing well in the polls in Wisconsin,
is he not?

CONNIFF: He is up in the polls in Wisconsin. But we are a swing
state. As we always hear, we`re a closely divided state. As you pointed
out earlier, Ed, this is a national political issue. This is where the
ideological battle is being fought between the forces of progressivism and
the forces of conservatism, as Paul Ryan himself put it.

That`s why we see our governor as a right wing rock star, traveling
the country. That`s why we see the governors like Bobby Jindal coming in
to campaign with Walker. I think it`s really clear that this is it. This
is the battle of this year.

SCHULTZ: Ruth, how important is tonight`s debate? And there`s going
to be one more debate. It seems that Tom Barrett wants to focus on the e-
mails that are not being released and the lying commercials about jobs.
It`s going to get a lot of coverage. How is this going to play out? How
important is it?

CONNIFF: I think it`s very important. Walker has agreed to only two
debates. He`s agreed to come back to Wisconsin and actually sit down and
talk to voters and talk to his opponents, which is very significant because
mostly he fund raises around the rest of the country.

But mostly it`s just going to give people a real view of the two
candidates for the first time in a very compressed election. As you point
out, this criminal investigation of Walker has been very significant.
There are ads on the air for the first time this week talking about this.
And voter awareness of this issue has increased dramatically. That`s going
to be very significant tonight.

SCHULTZ: Ruth Conniff, great to have you with us tonight. Thanks so
much.

That`s the ED SHOW. I`m Ed Schultz. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts
right now. Good evening. I`ve got to tell you, this has been a really
tough hour for me. I`ve been breaking out in sweats and I`m running a
fever. It`s called Walleye Fever.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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