updated 5/31/2012 3:40:01 PM ET 2012-05-31T19:40:01

Guests: Robert Greenwald, Tom Perriello, John Nichols, Thom Hartmann, Krystal Ball, Abby Huntsman, Errol Louis


ED SCHULTZ, HOST: Good evening, Americans, and welcome to THE ED SHOW
tonight from New York.

One day after wrapping up the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney`s
yellow brick road to the White House is being paved by a handful of
billionaires out to help him destroy the middle class in America. That is
the most undercovered story in America, what these people will do to the
middle class. I`m covering it tonight.

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

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is not a nation that
divides people on whether or not they`ve been successful or not.

SCHULTZ (voice-over): "Politico" drops a bombshell on the 2012
election. Outside Republican groups will spend $1 billion to the defeat
Barack Obama. Democrats will be outspent and the middle class may not
survive it. A full report ahead.

The president will not go to Wisconsin, but Bill Clinton might. A new
poll puts Barrett even with Scott Walker. Another poll puts Barrett
behind. John Nichols has the latest.

Mitt Romney joins Donald Trump and blows the birther dog whistle.

ROMNEY: In addition to the age of the president and the citizenship
of the president, I`d like it to also say that the president has to spend
at least three years working in business before he can become president of
the United States.

SCHULTZ: Krystal Ball, Abby Huntsman, and Errol Louis are tonight`s
big panel.

And even FOX defenders are saying FOX News is rotten to the core.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Instead of concentrating on job creation,
President Obama has concentrated on growing government.

SCHULTZ: You will not believe the new "FOX and Friends" attack on the
president.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

It`s been less than 24 hours since Mitt Romney secured the Republican
nomination for president. Now we know how he plans to win the White House.

"Politico" published a report today showing the record amount of money
Republican groups will spend to get Romney elected into the Oval Office.
According to sources within the groups, Republican super PACs and other
outside groups plan to spend roughly $1 billion on November`s elections to
win the White House and get control of the Congress.

Now, to put this in perspective, in 2008, John McCain raised $370
million, Barack Obama set records by raising $750 million. The money being
spent by the Koch brothers is going to be $400 million, more than McCain`s
entire presidential campaign. The two Koch brothers will write checks
equal to or double the amount raised by organized labor.

We always hear about organized labor writing all the checks. Really?
Add it up this year. It will be a fraction of what these folks do.

This is serious money and President Obama warned about the
consequences when he called out the Supreme Court`s Citizens United
decision in 2010.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDSENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With all due deference
to separation of powers, last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of
law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests,
including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: I think the key there is "century of law," but all of a
sudden that`s not good. Sam Alito, yes, he was sitting there shaking his
head no, but President Obama was exactly right.

Billionaire Texan Harold Simmons told "The Wall Street Journal," "I
have lots of money and can give it legally now. Just never to Democrats."
He`s willing to give his money to the network of PACs run by Karl Rove, the
Kochs, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and so many more.

Rove says, of course, his group is supporting the underdog.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH AIDE: We expect having a large war chest to
battle next March, April and May when the president is certainly going to
come after the Republican nominee, whoever he or she says, and the
Republican nominee is going to be out of cash and out of gas and we`re
going to be there to defend him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Oh, poor Karl, but the truth is the exact opposite today.
These groups represent the elite, and Mitt Romney, he`s their guy. He
supports their interests. That`s the key.

Here`s what Mitt Romney will do about Wall Street regulations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Burdensome regulations serve only to restrict freedom and
imperil enterprise. And the victims of the regulation are not nameless,
faceless banks. They`re employees, business openers, and customers who
rely on banks that ultimately lose out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: And when it comes to corporate business interests, Romney is
on the same page as the billionaires.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Phase one -- get the corporate tax rate competitive with the
rates in Europe and the rest of the world, get it down to 25 percent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: The top 1 percent has it great under President Obama when it
comes to taxes. Actually, everybody does. The average income tax rate for
a family of four under Ronald Reagan was more than 11 percent. It was more
than 9 percent under Bill Clinton.

Under President Obama, it`s about 4.5 percent. And as we know, Mitt
Romney will give millionaires a tax rate of nearly 5 percent. Those making
less than $30,000 a year will actually see a tax increase. How far is
that?

But billionaires don`t care about the people making 30 grand a year or
less. They want a guy who will look out for them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: We have to return to free market, free individual capitalism
that builds a stronger economy.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: I will lower taxes for employers. I will eliminate the
burden of regulations on our economy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Do we really know where we`re going in this country?

Make no mistake about it, if Romney and his crowd get control of the
government, it will end the middle class in America. No kidding. They
don`t have the interests of the rest of the country in mind. It`s all
about them and the top 1 percent. I mean, look, it is so clear-cut.

The new "Rolling Stone" article out, which identifies 16 -- there`s
only 16 of them, think about that -- 16 millionaires and billionaires who
are trying to get Romney into the White House. They are going to want
something in return for their money, don`t you think?

Here`s the list of their demands: pollution deregulation. See you,
clean water, clean air, and all that good stuff.

Limiting awards for jury settlements. They want to protect
corporations from being sued for wrongdoing and running over consumers.

How about those defense contracts? Oh, can`t touch the Pentagon
spending budget.

Corporate welfare -- plenty of government subsidies for corporations
and more, probably.

Tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Now, we`ve been through that,
haven`t we? Have we seen the job creation because of the Bush tax cuts?
No, we haven`t.

Wall Street deregulation. You can forget that. There`s not going to
be anymore Dodd/Frank if these people get ahold of it.

And more oil drilling -- even though we are drilling more now than
ever before on American soil.

All of these policies are supported by Mitt Romney, all of them. It
is a blueprint for making sure that this chart stays the same, exactly the
way it is right now. They don`t want any change. They like it the way
it`s going right here.

The redliners are going to keep making all the money. The blueliners,
you know where they`re going to be? They`re going to stay right down there
where they`ve been for the last 30 years, because that`s just the way they
like it. A rising tide does not lift all of the boats, not in their world.

Meanwhile, productivity, where`s productivity going to go? Well,
hell, they`re going to get rid of unions and make sure that workers just do
a hell of a lot more and give up more.

This country right now is at a crossroads. And I`m not trying to
oversell this. All I do is listen to their policies and listen to what
they say.

So far, Mitt Romney and his crowd have nothing on the table for the
middle class. The majority of wage earners in this country, the bulk of
who we are as a country, they have nothing for them. All of the breaks are
going to go right here. They`re trying to destroy everything.

There`s no plan for health care with these folks. It`s the private
sector.

They want to destroy every wage earner in America when it comes to
retirement. They think raiding companies and pensions is OK. They want to
destroy collective bargaining. They`re going after the fabric of this
country, they`re trying to concentrate the wealth.

So when I say that the middle class is under attack, and this is it.
I mean, I`ll tell you, I can`t believe that I have a radio show and a cable
show and all of this stuff is happening in this country. I cannot believe
that this is happening on my watch -- and on your watch.

And I sit here thinking, well, I better say something! I have to say
something. We are obligated as Americans to say something.

We are going to go through an election cycle where we are going to see
gobs of money like we have never seen before. Look at Wisconsin -- 25 to 1
in the ratio. That is a microcosm of what we`re going to see in every
state in this country.

And when they`re done with Obama, if they beat Obama and they`re done
with him, where do you think they`re going to go next? They`re going to
fight like hell to get every gubernatorial chair in this country controlled
by a Republican and a corporatist, who is going to favor what they want.

So, gosh, it`s doom and gloom, Eddy. No, it`s not! No, it`s not.
Because you can make a difference.

You`re a middle classer, you`re a wage earner. Just remember one
thing. They can`t take your vote. You can sit this out and get
discouraged, maybe even next Tuesday, I doubt it.

Or you can get involved in this process and have the character, the
pride, and the dignity to know that no one bought your vote. That you took
the time to find out exactly what the hell these people are all about and
where they want to take this country, and you`re going to do something
about it. You`re going to do your share, your part and make it happen.

That`s how the middle class is going to be saved, because this crowd
right here, they got nothing for you. Nothing.

I want the next reporter that comes in contact with Mitt Romney to ask
him, what is your plan for the middle class? Because a lot of those
factories and companies you shut down where jobs went overseas, aren`t
these the wage earners you`re concerned about? No.

Get your cell phones out. I want to know what you think. Tonight`s
question, would the middle class survive a Mitt Romney presidency? Text
"A" for yes, text "B" for no, to 622639. You can always go to our blog at
Ed.MSNBC.com. We`ll bring you the results a little later on in the show.

I`m joined tonight by Robert Greenwald, founder and president of Brave
New Films and the director of the Koch brothers film, "Exposed". And
former Congressman Tom Perriello. He`s the president and CEO of the Center
for American Progress Action Fund.

Gentleman, great to have you with us tonight.

Robert, you first. Are Republicans, are they just setting up a system
to make sure that, hell, we`re never going to have another Democratic
president? I mean, this is it. This is the template for making sure that
a Democrat never goes to the White House again.

Or is that too extreme for my part?

ROBERT GREENWALD, BRAVE NEW FILMS: Well, maybe not extreme, but maybe
too pessimistic, Ed. What they are trying to do, they`re trying to use the
billionaires who are behind them to buy the election. Fortunately, the
election is not for sale. And as you said, there`s lots that each and
every one of us can do and must do.

But I also think it`s important to understand exactly what they`re
doing and exactly why they`re doing it, because it is, in fact, legalized
bribery. These billionaires are paying for policies so they can make more
billion dollars. So that there are no restrictions of any kind, so that
they get greater tax breaks, so that they can further pollute or they can
further destroy the country in whatever ways, increase their profitability.

It`s not off the charts, is a reason for it. They put money into
candidates and they take things out.

SCHULTZ: Tom, is outspending by Republicans going to be the main
challenge in virtually every race in this election?

TOM PERRIELLO, CAP ACTION FUND: Well, I think the combination of the
attack on voting rights and the sale of our democracy to the highest bidder
is really a one-two punch, right to the gut of the middle class. And as
was noted earlier, this isn`t some ideological battle. This is a return on
investment, where we`re talking about a yacht full of billionaires who are
going to get 40 to 1, 100 to 1 in special tax rates to themselves.

And who picks up the tab for that? It`s the middle class. It`s the
American worker.

And so, we already have an economy that`s rigged against the middle
class. They are now trying to lock that into a political system that`s
rigged against the middle class.

SCHULTZ: So, Tom, how do you fight it? You`ve got to go right to the
heart of the people, because you`re not going to be able to match the
money.

PERRIELLO: Well, I think people are rising up and realizing just how
rigged the system is. And they realize that people power is right response
to this. To go and get informed, find out who these people are that are
funneling, and the agenda they want. And you see time and again that
working and middle class folks feel like they`ve been sold a bill of goods
by the Republicans.

And they want to stand up and say, hey, what`s in this for us? What`s
something that actually starts to bring good jobs back and the competitive
advantage of America back. And I think they`re seeing that now in a good
progressive agenda.

SCHULTZ: You know what amazes me, Robert, you know, why aren`t there
a lot of big-money donors supporting Obama like they did in 2008. They
must know what the landscape looks like right now. Are they that
disenchanted with the president?

GREENWALD: Well, I think some are disenchanted, Ed, but I also think
it`s a lot easier psychologically to put $1 million in knowing that you`re
going to get $10 million or $15 million or $100 million out in return.

SCHULTZ: Sure.

GREENWALD: Progressive donors are actually working against their own
narrow economic self-interests, but they`re working for the betterment of
the country, because they believe that, in fact, the country needs to be
strong, everyone needs to prosper, there needs to be jobs, and all those
kinds of good things. So I think you`re seeing some of that.

But ultimately, everyone knows, Ed, we can`t outspend them. Which is
why, again, it`s important that the policy that has money in politics, the
attack -- whether it`s the constitutional amendment or it`s the laws of
disclosure. We have to go at the source and say, we cannot allow ourselves
to have a system where billions and billions can be put in with no
consequences.

SCHULTZ: And, Tom, if Romney ends up being a weak candidate down the
stretch, what will these PACs do with all the money? I mean, it will be
just an onslaught on President Obama.

PERRIELLO: Well, you saw Mitt Romney as a weak candidate in the
primary and you saw what happened. It was the independent expenditures
that came in and outspent four to one, seven to one, eight to one, and he
still only eked out these primaries by three or four points in a lot of the
key Midwestern states, because working and middle class voters looked at
him and his agenda and said, this isn`t for us.

So the so-called independent groups had to come in and bail him out
and I think you`ll see that again. You`re also going to see that down
ticket in some of these House and Senate races that are going to play out
this way.

And I think, unfortunately, that amount of money really can have a
huge effect on the flow of information, but voters are smart and decent and
I think they`ll overcome this.

SCHULTZ: This will be the year of displaying heart by progressives,
just how bad do you want it? Robert Greenwald, Tom Perriello, great to
have you with us tonight. Thank you.

Remember to answer tonight`s question there at the bottom of the
screen. Share your thoughts on Twitter @EdShow.

Scott Walker, he`s raising loads in Wisconsin. And Democrats are
finally showing up to help Tom Barrett. "The Nation`s" John Nichols on the
latest on the recall next.

And Donald Trump isn`t backing off the birther nonsense and Mitt
Romney is just fine with all of it. Krystal Ball, Errol Louis, and Abby
Huntsman will weigh in on all of that in the big panel tonight.

Stay with us. We`re coming right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: Coming up, it was another huge day of news in Wisconsin.
John Nichols of "The Nation" is breaking down the poll numbers, the John
Doe investigation, and the latest on the big-name Democrats helping Tom
Barrett defeat Scott Walker.

And Republicans are subverting democracy. Some say it`s worse than
Wisconsin. Author and radio and talk show host Tom Hartman will have the
latest with me later in the show.

Share your thoughts on Twitter using the #EdShow. We`re coming right
back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. We`re six days away from
Wisconsin`s recall election and new poll numbers are out. A Marquette poll
released today shows Walker leading Barrett by seven points. But new
numbers from Democratic pollster Celinda Lake show Walker and Barrett in a
dead heat at 49 to 49.

And it`s a miracle Governor Walker isn`t polling through the roof
considering all the money that he has raised and the commercials that are
running. Walker`s campaign raked in at least $6 million in the last five
weeks. It puts his total fund-raising at over $30 million since January
2011.

And it`s a good thing Walker is raising all that money. He needs to
pad his legal defense fund. New campaign finance reports show that walker
has transferred $100,000 into his legal defense fund since May 3rd. He now
has $160,000 sitting in the account.

Meanwhile, national Democrats are finally showing up to the Badger
State. DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz stumped for Barrett in Milwaukee
and Racine, Wisconsin, today. Chair of the Democratic Governor`s
Association, Martin O`Malley, will campaign for Barrett in Wisconsin
tomorrow. And reports surfaced that Bill Clinton is sorting out his
schedule for a possible visit to the Badger State. It certainly can`t
hurt.

But there is one high-profile Democrat who is planning not to go and
show up in Wisconsin. President Obama`s deputy campaign manager Stephanie
Cutter downplayed the importance of a visit to Wisconsin earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANIE CUTTER, OBAMA 2012: If you think that the secret weapon
here is sending President Obama, then, you know, I`m pleased that you
believe that. It has nothing to do with President Obama at the top of the
ticket. There may be some that will, you know, predict that it means doom
for us in Wisconsin in the fall elections, but I think they`ll be proven
wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: There is no doubt that there is a huge political calculation
being made right now by the Obama team not to send the president to
Wisconsin.

I think he needs to get there. He needs to fire up the troops even
more. This is about the middle class.

This is absolutely -- really, there`s no downside when President Obama
shows up. How could there be a downside?

It would be all upside. This is ground zero in the 30-year war
against the middle class by the conservatives. It`s the first true test
and measurement against Citizens United. And it would be a big boost for
this country`s confidence when it comes to the vote.

If Walker wins this, Republican governors will have more power than
ever before to carry out their attacks on the middle class. I hear it on
the radio all the time. They`d love to see President Obama there. He goes
to Newton, Iowa. He`s going to be in Minneapolis on Friday. His campaign
office in Chicago. It`s all around, but it is in?

Yes, I know the resources are there. Obama for America and the DNC,
but the main man they want to see is President Obama. They want him on
that line, because he talked about being on that line with them back in
2007.

And now, it`s all on the line for people who had done it for him and
delivered that state back when he needed it. This is about winning.

Maybe I`m just too much of a jock strap. Maybe I like the fight too
much. I`m not the perfect political calculator here, but I do listen to
the people. And the job of a leader is to motivate, motivate, motivate.

It`s like business. When you`re a manager, what`s your job? Your job
is to get people to do things they might not want to do. There might be a
few folks out there in Wisconsin who aren`t sure seeing all of this money
being spent on TV.

But if President Obama shows up and if President Obama says, I need
you to do this, because this is just the tip of the iceberg, with I`m there
for the middle class, I`m there for you, I think it will have a huge
impact.

And if Walker wins, it`s just a greater signal about how much we have
to do in November. It`s all positive.

Mr. President, please go to Wisconsin.

Let`s turn to John Nichols, Washington correspondent for "The Nation"
magazine and author of the book "Uprising."

Well, John, Newton, Iowa, Minneapolis, Chicago, not very far from
Wisconsin. What would a President Obama visit do to this race, if
anything?

JOHN NICHOLS, THE NATION: As you say, Ed, it would all be to the
positive. Governor Walker has poured money into mobilization on his side.
He has also brought in a lot of Republican governors and conservative
leaders, former presidential candidates. So he`s fully mobilized his side.

Democrats could use these visits from a Bill Clinton, from a Barack
Obama. The energy is strong on the Democratic side. And obviously as you
can see from the polling, there`s a lot of evidence that things are going
well.

But the bottom line is this -- there are no undecided voters in
Wisconsin. The question is, which side of this fight successfully
mobilizes its base and there`s no doubt that bringing President Obama in
helps the Democrats to mobilize their base.

SCHULTZ: What would a visit by Bill Clinton do to this?

NICHOLS: It`s very, very helpful. Clinton was popular in Wisconsin.
He won the state easily in 1992 and 1996. And he`s especially popular in
the Milwaukee area, Racine, Kenosha, the eastern shore communities, as well
as along the Mississippi, over in towns like Lacrosse. If he were to do a
couple stops in Wisconsin, I can tell you, the crowds would be huge. And
again, that energizing is important.

I can tell you, labor`s put its troops on the ground. There is a real
basic effort across this state. It can go, it`s ready to go. But can you
imagine, Ed, what if Tom Barrett lost by a few thousand votes and you
realized that if only they had sent in a little bit more of the heavy
lifters, a little bit more of the big names? That`s what I -- I think a
lot of people fear.

SCHULTZ: You know, you can`t fear the loss. You`ve got to go like
hell. And you`ve got to go to the firewall. And you can`t think about the
negative. You`ve got to do what you`ve got to do to get it done.

And that`s what really, I think, the attitude is going to put the
Democrats over the top.

Now, what about the poll numbers? Break them down for us.

NICHOLS: Yes. Well, we`ve had two polls come out today and they both
suggest -- they stick with patterns that we`ve seen. The Marquette poll
that came out and has Walker a bit ahead, that poll has tended toward a
more conservative result. So, it`s not overly surprising.

Tom Barrett moved up one point from the last poll, Scott Walker moved
up two points. The pollster, Charles Franklin, said today that he thinks
it`s very, very important to recognize, this is a close race. He thinks
his poll says this is a close race.

Celinda Lake`s poll, which came out around the same time, was actually
done later than the Marquette poll. It was in the field a couple days
later.

SCHULTZ: Yes.

NICHOLS: It shows a much closer race and I think it`s an important
poll. And I actually give Charles Franklin from a Marquette a point on
this one, for he cited the Celinda Lake poll and noted it was a slightly
more recent poll.

SCHULTZ: John Nichols, great to have you with us. Thanks so much.

Next up, Mitt Romney officially clinches the GOP nomination in the
shadow of Donald Trump and Trump isn`t going away.

FOX News is an arm of the Republican Party, though doubt about it.
Even conservative writers agree after seeing what they did this morning.
Fair and balanced? Big question mark.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREA SAUL, ROMNEY SPOKESWOMAN: Democrats put out a web video on
this yesterday. They can talk about Donald Trump all they want. You know,
we`re focused on jobs and the economy, how many Mitt Romney`s going to get
people back to work. And I think that`s what voters care about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: That was Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul claiming
it`s the Democrats who want to bring up the Birther issue. Yet, here`s
Mitt Romney yesterday, just hours before his multi-million dollar fund-
raiser with Donald Trump in Las Vegas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I was speaking with one of these business owners who owns a
couple of restaurants in town. And he said, you know, I`d like to change
the Constitution. I`m not sure I can do it, he said. But I`d like to have
a provision in the Constitution that in addition to the age of the
president and the citizenship of the president and the birthplace of the
president being set by the Constitution, I`d like it also to say that the
president has to spend at least three years working in business before he
can become president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: I think he said "citizenship" there, didn`t he? Even more
stunning than Romney`s wink-wink, nudge-nudge to the Birther crowd,
surrogate Donald Trump won`t stop with the Birther talk. Here he is
calling in to the mother ship, Fox News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I can tell you that this is not an issue, despite what he
says, that President Obama likes. This is hitting very close to home.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: But see, I think, though, that
the campaign -- that the President Obama campaign actually enjoys that this
issue gets up and gets pinned to you.

TRUMP: I totally disagree with you.

(CROSS TALK)

SUSTEREN: Well, I`ll tell you why. Because they released a statement
-- Stephanie Cutter, who is the deputy campaign manager, just released a
very strong statement referring to you as a -- talking about disgraceful
conspiracy theories, demonstrating your lack of moral leadership, calling
you a charlatan, and pinning that to Governor Romney.

TRUMP: I totally disagree. I think they hate it. I think they don`t
like it at all. And what they`re doing is saying we love it.

And frankly, I think they hate the subject. And you know, I actually
sort of semi know for a fact that they hate the subject.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: "Semi-know." Is that fully knowing or kind of knowing?
Republicans all over the country are clinging to the Birther issue. Former
Congressman Peter Hoekstra of Michigan is just the latest to do so .
Hoekstra, now running for the United States Senate seat -- there`s going to
be a primary in Michigan -- is no stranger to race baiting.

He put out this ad in January featuring an Asian actress speaking
broken English. Hoekstra, a former member of the House Intelligence
Committee, now wants to create a new federal office to examine the birth
certificates of presidential candidates. Here`s Hoekstra explaining his
vision of a Tea Party group.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. REP. PETE HOEKSTRA (R), MICHIGAN: I`d like to establish a three-
person office in Washington, D.C., so that in any future election, right --
that someone would have to walk into that office and prove that they meet
the minimum qualifications to be president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Hoekstra is now defending his proposal to grow the size of
government and claims it has nothing to do with President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOEKSTRA: I`m not talking about Barack Obama. I`m just saying, you
know, this is a -- in the United States of America, this is a debate we
should not be having.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: But we are having this debate, because the extremists in the
Republican party want us to have this debate. Republicans say they want to
talk about the issues, but the only issue that matters to them is defeating
this president. And they are willing to do anything, say anything, and
stand next to anyone until they achieve their goal. And that anyone is
Donald Trump.

There`s a lot more coming up in the next half hour of THE ED SHOW.
Keep it tuned right here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: There`s a lot of questions as to the authenticity of the birth
certificate. So you can believe it or you don`t have to believe it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Donald trump is a disaster for republicans, and they`re
using Bill Maher to try to stop the bleeding.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it`s an equivalent with an issue of Bill
Maher, who gave a million dollars to President Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: The big panel with Abby Huntsman, Krystal Ball, and Errol
Louis are next.

Even conservatives are complaining about the Fox and Friends attack ad
on the president. We will report and let you decide.

And the assault on democracy in Michigan is even worse than Wisconsin.
You will not believe the trick Michigan Republicans are using to save their
emergency manager law. Author and talk radio host Thom Hartmann will join
me for the latest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: Mitt Romney clinched the Republican nomination last night,
but he was upstaged by a carnival barker of sorts. Yet Romney won`t
disavow Donald Trump`s Birther talk. As Byron York of the "Washington
Examiner" reports, the Romney campaign has no intention of distancing
itself from Trump. Team Romney believes repudiating Trump would distract
voters from Romney`s economic message.

According to York, the campaign believes that sticking by Trump and
his race baiting will be seen as a sign of strength. Meanwhile, Romney`s
surrogates and right-wingers are trying to equate Trump`s racially charged
antics with Bill Maher`s stand-up act.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it`s as equivalent an issue as Bill Maher,
who gave a million dollars to President Obama, talking with such a foul
mouth about women.

MICHAEL MEDVED, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Bill Maher gave a million
dollars to a super PAC on behalf of Barack Obama.

SAUL: The Obama campaign refuses to denounce Bill Maher when he said
extremely hateful things. So you`re going to see things on both sides of
the aisle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Well, here is the difference. Bill Maher made a one-time
donation to President Obama`s super PAC. He doesn`t campaign for Obama on
his weekly HBO show. Donald Trump, on the other hand, has held press
conferences to officially endorse Mitt Romney. He actively is campaigning
on TV for Mitt Romney. He`s hosting fund-raisers for Mitt Romney. He`s
robo calling voters for Mitt Romney.

The list goes on and on. And yet Romney won`t stand up to the guy and
show true leadership, because he believes it`s a sign of weakness.

I`m joined tonight by MSNBC political analyst Krystal Ball, New York
One host Errol Louis, and political commentator Abby Huntsman. Great to
have you with us tonight.

Let`s talking, Krystal, about this Bill Maher/Donald Trump. Is this a
false equivalency?

KRYSTAL BALL, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Of course it is. And it`s the
same stuff that they tried to pull when Rush Limbaugh came out and calmed
Sandra Fluke a slut and a prostitute and called for her sex tapes to be
released on line. They said, what about Bill Maher?

As you pointed out quite aptly, there is no comparison. And one point
that you didn`t make is the difference between intentional comedy and
unintentional comedy. Donald Trump is hilarious, but he doesn`t mean to
be. That`s another important distinction there, I think.

SCHULTZ: Abby, it sure seems like it`s part of the talking point for
the Republicans.

ABBY HUNTSMAN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This is all strategical. I
mean, honestly, Romney is not saying anything because he can`t. He has to
win Nevada. That`s the bigger issue here. The biggest voting group is
casinos, Mormons. And that -- Donald Trump is a big part of that. So no
matter what Donald Trump says, Romney can`t say anything.

BALL: But that`s ridiculous. At some point, if he`s going to
demonstrate he can be president of the United States, he has to be able to
stand up to a loser like Donald Trump. What is he going to do if he`s in
the White House and he can`t stand up to Donald Trump? What`s that going
to look like?

ERROL LOUIS, NEW YORK ONE: -- the super PAC conundrum. You can tell
a billionaire, but you can`t tell them much. To go to Donald Trump and
say, look, this isn`t helping us, this isn`t our strategy, this isn`t the
talking point of the day, he isn`t going to listen to any of that. And the
same is true for a lot of these other big backers. Politics has changed
this time around. This is the perfect example.

SCHULTZ: At the same time they were saying the Democrats were the
ones bringing up the Birther, it was Romney out there saying "citizenship."
What about that?

HUNTSMAN: To your point, I think it`s sad. I think that Donald Trump
could actually be asset, as crazy as that sounds. If he were to talk about
jobs, if he were to talk about the economy, and say Romney is the right guy
for this, he has a huge following. Instead, he`s being a huge distraction.
But he does have the ability to be an asset.

BALL: But the reason he has a huge following, let`s not forget, is
because he rode this ridiculous race baiting conspiracy theory to the
top of the GOP polls a year ago. That`s where his following comes from.

SCHULTZ: And here`s an example that was pointed out by Byron York.
You`ve got John McCain standing up to radio talk show host Bill Cunningham
when he repeatedly used Obama`s full name.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CUNNINGHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: At some point the media will
quit taking sides in this thing and maybe start covering Barack Hussein
Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: McCain disavowed Cunningham`s racial antics. And the Romney
campaign believes that that made McCain looked weak. Errol?

LOUIS: Well, look, the reality is if McCain had been -- let`s say it
was mid-October and he was maybe three or four points behind, we`re not
sure what he would have done when it came to a lot of this stuff. It`s
easy to take the high road when you`re sort of fading in the polls and
there`s not really a chance of turning it around.

So I don`t know if McCain was ever fully put to the test. On the
other hand, Romney, I don`t know if he`s getting the kind of feedback that
you`re talking about, the notion that some of this is racially coated, the
notion that this is going to destroy your reputation and so forth. I don`t
think that`s what Romney`s main concern is now.

His main concern is raising money. His main concern is talking to the
base by whatever means he can, and seeing if he can get away with this.
And I think we`re going to find out over the next few days.

HUNTSMAN: And we are seeing a theme of that. Whether it`s Ted
Nugent, whether it was gay adviser, Romney`s not willing to stand up on
these issues when it comes to the base. He`s worried about losing their
support. They`re not going anywhere.

SCHULTZ: But that doesn`t seem to be bothering Republicans right now.

HUNTSMAN: It doesn`t. That`s my point. They`re not going anywhere.

BALL: Here`s the thing. The Republican party has made a choice. I
mean, they could have gone in the direction of trying to open up the party
to appeal to minorities, to appeal to Latinos. They have obviously decided
to double down on a strategy of appealing to people who are disenchanted
with the Democratic party after civil rights.

And that includes the voter suppression laws, what`s going on in
Florida. They`ve decided, rather than trying to broaden their appeal,
they`re going to restrict the people who can vote.

SCHULTZ: Abby, your father spoke out against Donald Trump.

HUNTSMAN: I was surprised he wasn`t invited to the event, by the way.

SCHULTZ: Here he is attacking Trump during a debate. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON HUNTSMAN (R), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m not going to kiss
his ring and I`m not going to kiss any other part of his anatomy. This is
not about ratings for Donald Trump. This is about jobs for the American
People. I don`t like to see the dumbing down of American politics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: So the question is, Abby, is there room for moderates in the
Republican party these days?

HUNTSMAN: That`s the question. I think we really need to see what
the independents think of all of this. It`s just nonsense. Are they
looking at this as a positive for Romney right now, that he`s not standing
up for trump, or the they see it as --

LOUIS: But here`s the most important thing. As of yesterday, as of
the day that he gets all of the delegates that he needs, he is basically
going to be the head of the Republican party. So whatever is going to
happen between the base and the independents and the moderates and the --
whatever`s left of the liberal Republican wing of the party, he`s got to
figure out how they all work together. And he`s not off to a promising
start.

BALL: That`s right. And to that point, everything that Romney has
done in his campaign has been a short-term, politically expedient move,
every single item. And that does not add up to victory. It may add up to
a win that week in pandering to a particular demographic, but it does not
add up to leadership and it does not add up to --

HUNTSMAN: At the end of the day, it`s all going to be about the
economy, what the numbers are. No matter what calculated move he makes
right now, election day is going to be --

BALL: Then why isn`t he talking about the economy?

HUNTSMAN: He should be.

BALL: He should be. And that`s --

(CROSS TALK)

HUNTSMAN: And I think he is. I think this is more about taking a
bold stand when it comes to Ted Nugent, when it comes to Donald Trump, when
it comes to his advisers.

BALL: But on the economy, people are going to want someone who is a
leader. And he -- you know, all these little things, they eat away at
people`s ability to --

HUNTSMAN: But at the end of the day, though --

BALL: They cheapen him.

HUNTSMAN: At the end of the day, though, it`s going to be people in
their house saying, is my life going to be better in the next four years.
And if they tell themselves under an Obama presidency, no, no matter what
Romney does, he could likely --

LOUIS: One huge exposure he has right now is that just over a year
ago, when the Birther madness was cresting, that was right around the time
that the killing of Osama bin Laden showed how false and hollow that whole
conversation was. That`s what the Romney people should be worried about,
that they`re going to get upstaged again.

SCHULTZ: Krystal Ball, Errol Louis, Abby Huntsman, thanks for joining
us. Appreciate it.

Fox and Friends, well, they let it rip with an all-out attack ad
against President Obama. That`s coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. If there was ever any doubt
Fox News is an arm of the Republican party, it ended today when Fox and
Friends presented a retrospective of President Obama`s first term. Here`s
how they set it up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: It is still about change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But what sort of change have we really seen over
the past four years of the Obama administration?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, let`s take a look back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: The package lasted nearly four minutes. Here`s part of it.
And keep in mind, it starts with a graphic reading "Fox and Friends
presents" --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: It is time to stand for change.

When you decide it`s time for change to happen, guess what? Change
happens.

Hope has been the guiding force behind the most improbable changes
this country has ever made.

We cannot wait for good jobs and living wages and pensions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Instead of concentrating on job creation,
President Obama has concentrated on growing government.

OBAMA: We are making progress.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- people have been
put on Food Stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The high gas prices.

OBAMA: You`ve seen how quickly the price of gas is going up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: The gang then thanked the producer for his work.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chris White, great job putting that together.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No kidding. He remembered everything everybody
said over the last 3.5, four years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Took a tremendous amount of research. Good job,
Chris.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: It was obviously a political attack ad and it clearly
contained inaccuracies. They aired it twice, which was worth about 96,000
dollars in free advertising for the Republican party, according to Media
Matters.

Fox executives are trying to distance themselves from all of this.
"The package that aired on Fox & Friends was created by an associate
producer and was not authorized at the senior executive level of the
network. This has been addressed with the show`s producers."

A spokeswoman for Fox News said that "Roger Ailes was not aware of the
video."

The attack ad was so bad, even conservative commentators criticized
it. "If anyone wanted to look for evidence that Fox News intends to
campaign against President Obama rather than cover the campaign, this video
would be difficult to refute."

The president of Fox News, Roger Ailes, is a career political
strategist -- career political strategist. He`s done it a long, long time.
Fox News gives him a platform to run a 24-hour, 24/7 political operation.
This attack ad is just the latest blatant example. Now show me the
balance. Show me the fairness. It isn`t going to happen.

Tonight in our survey, I asked would the middle class survive a Mitt
Romney presidency? Seven percent of you say yes; 93 percent of you say no.

The fight for representative democracy in Michigan could come down to
the, believe it or not, font size of the petition. Thom Hartmann joins me
next. Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: And in the big finish tonight, dictatorial power in Michigan
is being challenged by actual people power. But the challenge has run into
a ridiculous technicality. The issue is Governor Rick Snyder`s Public Act
4, the Emergency Manager Law. It gives the governor power to swoop in and
appoint emergency managers to take over cities and school districts that
are financially in trouble. Cities like Flint, Pontiac, and Benton Harbor,
Michigan, have already been saddled with it.

Labor says this is more extreme than anything in Wisconsin. That`s
because the law busts up collective bargaining agreements. Its anti-
democratic. It`s another template for radical governors everywhere to
follow. But citizens collected more than 200,000 signatures for a
referendum to be put on the ballot in November. They got 40,000 more than
what they needed to get on the ballot.

But the state board ruled the petition invalid because it did not use
the correct font size. Petitioners say that they used the right font size
and that they say that the decision to vote against certification was
politically motivated. The Michigan Court of Appeals will soon rule on
this issue.

A valid petition would immediately stop the implementation of Public
Act 4 until the November vote. And there are a number of cities that are
on the list to be taken over very soon.

Let`s turn to Thom Hartmann, my friend, author, and radio talk show
host extraordinaire and journalist. Tom, great to have you with me
tonight.

THOM HARTMANN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Hey, my friend. How are you?

SCHULTZ: What -- this is mind boggling that this is happening in our
lifetime, but this throws out representative government. What strikes you
about this story, Tom?

HARTMANN: A guy named Jeff Timer (ph), actually, is the guy that
really gets me. There are two Republicans and two Democrats on the Board
of Canvassers. And the two Republicans voted to, you know, not allow the
ballots to go through because they said the font was the wrong size, which
it`s not. And one of those two guys is a guy by the name of Jeff Timer,
who also works for Sterling Corporation, which is a Republican consulting
firm, which is the address for a group called Citizens for Fiscal
Responsibility, which is the group that challenged this law, saying that
the font was the wrong size.

SCHULTZ: So what we have here is a template being played out for
radical governors to follow, that they can just come in and knock out
collective bargaining agreements, knock out any kind of agreement, because
the city might be in trouble. This is a takeover of representative
government, isn`t it?

HARTMANN: It is. There`s been a lot of talk over the last couple of
decades, really since the Reagan area, about the rise of oligarchy in
America, of the -- democracy, small "D" democracy doesn`t do well with
very, very rich individuals and corporations running the show. Jefferson
talked about that. And I think this is the ultimate of it. You nailed it
exactly right, Ed.

SCHULTZ: Detroit`s NAACP president said, "we have the right as
Americans to have duly elected leadership work out these issues. We should
not be subject to ending democracy in our city and state simply because of
an economic downturn." They are taking the attitude that while they may be
in the red right now and they`re never going to get in the black, so we`ve
got to go in and take them over. Your thoughts?

HARTMANN: Here`s what`s particularly ironic about this. Mitt Romney,
when he was confronted with an auto industry that was in trouble, said, let
them go bankrupt, right? New York City went bankrupt. If you really
believe in that philosophy, that Republican philosophy of let them go
bankrupt, then why not let these cities go bankrupt?

Why, instead, send a little dictator in to take their commons, their
public parks and things and sell them off to fat cat corporations? I don`t
get it.

SCHULTZ: Why would anybody go vote in a local election if this is the
way it`s going to be? It`s a disincentive. I think it also has an element
of suppressing the vote. What do you think?

HARTMANN: Absolutely. This is not only un-American, this is anti-
American. This is anti-democratic. You know, I don`t want to sound
hyperbolic and say it`s the end of democracy, but it really is for these
cities. These are people who were elected as city council members and
mayors and things. And now they`re told, sorry, Rick Snyder`s crony gets
to come in here and run the place for you.

SCHULTZ: Thom Hartmann, great to have you with us. Thanks for you
insight. We`ll do it again. Thank you, Thom.

That`s THE ED SHOW. I`m Ed Schultz. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts
right now. Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Ed. I feel like we`re
back in progressive talk radio hall of fame.

SCHULTZ: Back when it started on the radio in 2004, there was Rachel,
there was Thom, there was Ed, and here we are. How about that.

MADDOW: That`s awesome!

SCHULTZ: We`re still here.

MADDOW: Still here and covering the most important story in the
country, that Michigan story that nobody else is touching.

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

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