Skip navigation

'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Sunday, July 8, 2012

Read the transcript to the Sunday show

  Most Popular
Most viewed

Guests: Krystern Sinema; Stephanie Schriock; Barbara Lee; Anthe Butler; Ari Melber

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: This morning, my question. With a
record number of women running, who is going to make sure that they win
those races?

Plus, the Jedi mind trick of the GOP . Much to learn you still have.

And pulled over by the word police and trying to talk my way out of a

But, first, a plea to the battleground state voters, please pay attention.
The rest of us are counting on you.

Good morning, I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.

Before we begin, we want to congratulate Congressman Barney Frank and Jim
Ready who got married last night in Massachusetts. Governor Deval Patrick
officiated and asked the couple if they promised to love each other on
sickness and in health, for better or for worst on MSNBC and FOX, as long
as they both shall live. Congressman Frank is the first sitting member of
Congress to enter into a same-sex marriage.

But now, onto our top political story.

When most of us think of the map of our country, we picture this. Forty
eight states, all smooched together with two more hovering out there in the
pacific. But if you`re one of the two Americans currently running to be
president of all the states on that map, right now, you`re not really
thinking much about the vast majority of them, because only four months out
from election date, your version of the U.S. map looks a lot like this.

This is a map of the battleground states in the presidential election. And
if you didn`t see your state highlighted on that map, hate to break it to
you, because your vote is not going to matter much in determining the
outcome of the election. The candidates, they already know that by
Election Day, you will be a sure bet and that you are going to give up your
electoral votes in the election they can already predict.

But if you`re a state in yellow, congratulations! You`re the girl everyone
wants to take to prom. Except, instead of a fancy limo and a tailor made
tux, your guy showing up in a big old bus with a Taylor made campaign
message, just for you.

That`s how President Obama spent Thursday and Friday of this week, road
tripping across the Rust Belt. He was trying to convince the perennial
purple states of Ohio and Pennsylvania to wear a blue dress to the big
dance come November. And to make his case, he`s singing a song he wrote
just for you, goes a little something like this.


let Detroit go bankrupt, I said let`s bet on the American worker. Let`s
stop giving tax breaks to companies shipping jobs overseas, let`s give them
to companies that are investing right here in the United States of America.


HARRIS-PERRY: Music to the ears of the white working class voter who`s
comprised more than half of the electorate in states like Ohio and whose
approval can be given to anyone who rent the spot at 1600 Pennsylvania
Avenue for four years.

Now, Mitt Romney, hoping he would like to tiebreak that election in his own
direction, made advances on battleground territory last month and hopped on
board. That`s right, a bus, for a five-state tour through small town USA.

This weekend, he is putting aside all those new fangled high tech
approaches to campaigning by reaching out to voters with the original
social media, the telephone and even more ancient, face-to-face

Yesterday, volunteers in New Hampshire and other battle grounds spent their
day working the phones and going door to door to mobilize voters to turnout
for the governor on Election Day. And neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney
is a cheap date. So, it`s may they have blitz the air waves with more than
$20 million in political ads in Ohio alone.

Now pay attention, battleground states, because these guys are pulling out
all the stops, just for you.

So this is where I play the Uncle Ben to your Spider-Man and remind you
with great power, comes great responsibility. Like it or not, you are the
chosen ones. And the choosers, you are picking the president for the rest
of us. So that means you don`t have the luxury of political apathy.

We, those of us who live in the all too predictable ballot box behavior
states, are counting on you to get it right. First of all, don`t be fooled
by the optics that are meant to signal the candidates understand the lives
of so-called ordinary people. You know, like buss with folksy tour names.
Rich guys pretending they ride the bus is not a signal that they understand
your lives. Neither is rolling up their sleeves or leaving their neck ties
at home or eating pancakes or drinking a beer.

You know how politicians show you they can relate to your lives? By
creating policies that make your lives better. So, pay attention swing
stators to what they are saying to you, not just what they are showing you.

And numbers like these, totally unacceptable. This is from a Pew poll
showed 45 percent of Americans are completely clueless about the Supreme
Court`s landmark decision on affordable care act. Listen, if it`s your
vote that determines whether or not the rest of us get health care, swing
states, I need to you do a little better.

And finally, please, don`t let the constant reminders that are you in a
battleground state fool you into believing that you are in an actual
battle. Leave the fighting and the delineation of differences to the two
men vying to be the last man standing at the capitol steps on inauguration

Whatever the name and colors on the yard signs in your neighborhood may
say, you and the person next door to you are more alike than are you
different. We are all in this boat together, and are you our captain. So,
show us what democracy in action really looks like.

And if you need an example, try turning to one of our most famous fictional
small town Americans, Sheriff Andy Taylor, whose creator, Andy Griffith, we
lost this past week.

In a recent recall for the "All," writer, Seanee Hilton (ph) relayed her
father`s take on America`s finest. When he told quote, "I never looked at
Andy as being too good for the others. I looked at him being a stabilizer,
a good soul who wanted to elevate those around him."

So, take note battle grounders, in this election it is going to be all of
you good souls to lift up all of the rest of us.

Joining me now, Democratic Representative Barbara Lee of California, former
Pennsylvania governor and now MSNBC political analyst Ed Rendell, Anthea
Butler, religious studies professor of the University of Pennsylvania and
MSNBC contributor, Ari Melber.

Thanks everybody for being here.


HARRIS-PERRY: So, we`ve got two Pennsylvania swing stators here. You all
are living in the battleground. I just made a claim that I need the
battleground folks to take that job seriously. Do they? When you look at
voters in Pennsylvania, do you feel like folks are aware of how important
their vote is and taking it seriously?

matter of fact, a lot of them are worried, because some of them won`t be
able to vote because of the change in the voter I.D. laws. And I believe
that just a recent survey in Philadelphia that may mean 44 percent of
African-Americans. And that is very troubling because this is part of the
base that would want to come out for President Obama.

So, I think in Pennsylvania, we take it very seriously. He was already in
Pittsburgh this past couple of days. And I think we are going to see a lot
of the president and we`ll probably see a lot of Mitt Romney as well trying
to pull those votes, although I would think maybe the places that Mitt
Romney will go will be very different than the places that President Obama
will go.

HARRIS-PERRY: Governor, will you walk me through Pennsylvania a little
bit. I got a map of Pennsylvania. I want to look at it a little bit.
Actually, I`m sorry. I don`t have a map of Pennsylvania. You know
Pennsylvania in your head.

So, walk me through it just a bit. Sort of , what are the parts of the
state that are likely to get the most attention from these candidates?

emphasize what you just said. A recent study by the secretary of state
showed 9. 2 percent of our electorate doesn`t have our photo I.D.


RENDELL: That`s shocking. We`re doing all we can to get those people
photo I.D. But it is very, very difficult. The law is brutal. Republican
represented ten days ago at the Republican care state convention, said
(INAUDIBLE), this is going to insure that Romney becomes president, which
reveals the motivation behind this. It`s terrible.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. That`s not about voter fraud, but about it`s about
changing the outcome.

RENDELL: It was never voter fraud during my eight years as governor and we
had two very contentious presidential elections.

Look, Pennsylvania comes down to basically two parts of the state. Two
battlegrounds if you talk about battleground, one, the Philadelphia
suburbs, that`s where Democrats have been winning the last five
presidential elections. We used to lose the Philadelphia area big. Win
Philadelphia bigger, but the Philadelphia suburbs was the key battleground.

In the last five elections, Democrats have made inroads, and the last
three, we carried Philadelphia suburbs. They used to be heavy Republican
registration. Now, there is still Republican overall, not nearly as heavy.
While Romney -- the old Mitt Romney would have been a great candidate in
the Philadelphia suburbs.

HARRIS-PERRY: The governor, the governor Romney, right, Massachusetts.

RENDELL: Has he gone so far to the right, that he lost a chance to get mod
rails Republicans and independents in the Philly suburbs.


RENDELL: But then, go to the states, to the 12 southwestern Pennsylvania
Counties, traditionally Democrat, white working class, when President Obama
carried to Pennsylvania by 11 points, he lost 11 of those 12 counties.

Now, he`s got to do better there, because his margin in the Philadelphia
suburbs is going down. He`s got the ammunition, infrastructure,
manufacturing, auto bailout. Those are things that should be music to the
ears of voters.

HARRIS-PERRY: And Air, let me bring you in exactly that, because I`m
wondering, you know, we talked about optics, but also this information.
So, you know, here are the items that ought to be music to the ears. When
you think about the actual strategy here, it let me show you something or
is it let me tell you something.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think it is a lot of telling, and I think
you saw that in some of the first sort of documentary style videos that the
campaign put out. They said, remember what it was like. Look at the trend
lines. Yes, we`re stuck right now at 8.2 percent unemployment. But it was
a lot higher, and we did do these bailouts that worked, even if you heard

And if you just had up on the screen, the Pew poll shows that 45 percent of
the country doesn`t know what happened and what is one of the biggest
Supreme Court cases literally since the new deal. So, yes.


MELBER: Right?


MELBER: We can pause and not speak, because it leaves you speechless.
What does that mean? It means somewhere along the line, the media is
breaking down, even I would argue certain social, you know, social ways
information is shared is breaking down.

And the most interesting part of the pew poll you show was the next number
which is out of just the universe of people who know correctly what the
Supreme Court did, a majority now supports the decision. So, part of that
is getting the information out to the universe and larger.


Congressman, I want to bring you in as soon as we come back from the break.
Because the other piece of this, it seems to me, is the pressing of the
flesh, the old-fashioned phone banking, and it feels no one knows better,
that kind of thing, than people who are members of Congress. How important
that is, than the advertising. So, we`ll talk more about that.

And also the fact that the battle lines divide in some interesting ways
when you throw race, ethnicity, language, into the equation.

And later, how come running for office is still so hard for women?

Also, our next hour, is the GOP playing Jedi mind tricks on all of us?

Don`t go away.


HARRIS-PERRY: Presidential battlegrounds lines are not only drawn along
the borders of indecisive state. They are also divided by Demographics.
For some groups that political agenda is determined not by geography but by
racial identity.

And this week, those agendas are being set by two major gatherings, the
National Council of La Raza`s annual conference in Las Vegas and the
NAACP`s annual convention in Houston. Both of which kicked off yesterday.

So, vice president Joe Biden is going to be doing double duty this week and
the White House is dispatching him to deliver addresses at both
conferences. He`ll be joined at the NAACP convention by Mitt Romney, who
is addressing the group on Wednesday. President Obama declined invitations
from both. But will be polishing up to a shinny high gloss, his African-
American Boniface (ph) at the Urban League Conference is New Orleans later
this month.

Still with me, Representative Barbara Lee of California, Ed Rendell, Anthea
Butler and Ari Melber.

So, I want to turn to you, Congressman, because we can look at the
battleground state polls by NBC and see that the president is doing really
quite well in the battleground states right now. If we look at just in
general, at a 50 percent to 42 percent. In Ohio, the president is up 47
percent to 38 percent. And in Pennsylvania, which we were just speaking
of, is 50 - excuse me, 45 to 39. But those numbers at this point are
still, we say, about spending. You know, the president`s way outspent.

Feels like battlegrounds are about shaking hands, face to face, pressing
the flesh, knocking on doors. And I know that your campaign just had a
huge win, huge margin of win, in part because you engaged in exactly that

REP. BARBARA LEE (D), CALIFORNIA: Absolutely, Melissa, and I think people
still want to see their candidates. They want to shake hands. They want
to hear a voice on the phone. And they naturally are going to be very
responsive to social media, I mean, that`s the era in which we live.

But people still want to know their candidates. They want that personal
touch in California win. In my campaign, I insist on it. Then, we go door
to door. We follow bank. We do social media. We e-mail, we text, we


LEE: But we also, you know, go to rallies, meet people.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. I mean, I`m officially a little annoyed at this point
by the text messages. Like at this point, the number of text messages that
is get from both campaign, I just feel like I don`t want to have dinner. I
don`t want any of that. I really want to hear directly how the policies
from the campaigns are going to impact me as a voter. Even with a level of
enthusiasm for the candidates.

Now, on this question of race, it also feels like - I mean, congressional
black caucus, right? You are the conscience of the Congress you often
hear. But it deals me like no one knows better that than CBC that
sometimes you are representing a geographic constituency and sometimes you
representing an identity (INAUDIBLE).

So, sometimes even if you are a representative of California, you are going
to be worried about what`s happening in Detroit or what`s happening in New
Orleans because of concerns around race.

How will the president and his challengers, Mitt Romney, be able to speak
to that battleground line?

LEE: True. Very important, Melissa, because the congressional black
caucus for over 40 years now has historically had an agenda to speak to
those who have been marginalized and shut out. Of course, the African-
American community, but also poor community, communities of color, the
working poor, people in Appalachia, people who had never had a voice in

The congressional black caucus has filled that void and that need. And so,
it`s important for candidates to talk about our national agenda, as an
American agenda, but also, the unfinished business of America. And much of
that unfinished business has to do with income inequality and racial
inequality and we cannot let that be swept under the rug.

HARRIS-PERRY: So Anthea, what do you think Romney will say to the NAACP on
Wednesday? What`s his message?

BUTLER: You know, I can`t wait. (INAUDIBLE). I mean, I think his message
has to be two fold. One is, he has to figure out a way to connect with the
African-American community and right now, I`m not sure he is hitting on all
of those. I can imagine him connecting maybe the African-American Mormon

But I think he has to say something about what he is going to do
differently about the economy, that`s first of all. And secondarily, where
is his term in place of poverty, inequality, racial injustice.

HARRIS-PERRY: Come on, if anybody - I mean, look -- even if he did, even
he came with like I have changed my mind, and I am all policies now will be
made solely for the interest of African-American voters, don`t you think
people would be like, that`s nice. Have you met Barack Obama? I mean it
feels maybe braves or maybe nuts that he`s going to the NAACP.

BUTLER: He remembers what happen when President Bush didn`t go. Remember?
And so, he knows he has to go, even though it`s just symbolic for him.
It`s like, it`s something he can use for a sound bite, it is something he
can use to prove that look, I went, did I what you all asked me to do, and
even if you don`t want me, oh well.

HARRIS-PERRY: Jump in, Ari.

MELBER: Two things on this. Number one, Democrats are constantly being
pressured to go out way far away from their base. You should speak to
business, speak to the chamber, you should go do all of these things and
it`s assumed particularly in the beltway culture that`s required and they
should spend the time winning over the other side`s base. We can have a
whole discussion about why that is. So, that`s number one.

So, the idea that Mitt Romney should actually show up at the one of the
most important historical black institutions in America, even though we all
know that the voting patterns don`t favor him, you know, that shouldn`t
surprise anyone. And I do think George W. Bush made a mistake not going.

Number two, beyond economic policies which we know don`t seem designed to
help people in lower income brackets. They don`t seem designed to help you
if you`re a median household income. The Romney economic plan for many
obvious reasons is probably not going to help you, that`s not going to

But there are other things Mitt Romney could do if he cared. I am looking
to see whether he goes there and actually addresses the fact that the
Republican Party increasingly appeals to a nativist (ph) and race baiting

If he says Donald Trump is only his friend because of GOP politics and
money, which is OK. They all go after money, then we need to hear him
enunciate a break with the birtherism about racism. So, there are things
that he can say regardless of economic policy that would be welcomes.

HARRIS-PERRY: Avery good point.

RENDELL: The bottom line is, the reason that a Republican has to go to the
NAACP is not to win black votes, it`s for those Philadelphia suburban

HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right, yes.

RENDELL: Has to seem like he`s not a divider, that he will be a unifier,
et cetera. You are not talking to the African-American constituency, we
are talking to undecided independents and moderates.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, right. And in part because Americans have a value
against being racist.

RENDELL: Absolutely. We want a unified country.

HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. We don`t want to be racist. We don`t want to
be part of a party that seems to race bait and so --.

BUTLER: And he`s also got to talk about how the Bush economic policies
would not be repeated under his watch.

LEE: I don`t know if he is going to be able to say that.

HARRIS-PERRY: As soon as when we come back, we are actually going to talk
about an impending alien invasion and UFO sightings and what they tell you
about the future president. I swear, we really are trivia question.

We also have a trivia question, which of the nine states considered to be
battleground state does Barack Obama carry in 2008? The answer, after the


HARRIS-PERRY: Before the break, I asked which one of nine states
considered battleground states did Barack Obama carry in 2008. It`s a good
answer, all of them.

OK. Since the season authority south polls, the Obama is leading polls,
Romney is gaining polls, the national polls, the battleground state polls.
But, if there is one poll that explains better than any other what`s
happening this election cycle is the one about the coming alien invasion.
No, this is not another immigration segment.

I`m talking about the big one, the real outer space aliens. According to a
recent survey by the national geographic channel, 65 percent of respondents
believe that President Obama is better equipped than former governor Mitt
Romney to handle an alien invasion of earth.

Now, maybe that`s a reflection on diplomatic skills or maybe it is the
whole killing bin Laden thing, maybe it is about who most closely resembles
alien conqueror Will Smith, we can`t be sure.

But what we do know is that this poll is a problem for Republicans. And
so, in battleground state after battleground state. Republicans are trying
something new. Voter I.D. laws that make the election less about who
voters want and more about which voters get to vote.

So, sure, the public claims that these voter I.D. laws are all about
protecting us from voter fraud, but in Pennsylvania last week, state
representative Mike Turzai let the cat out of the bag.


going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.



HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Turzai. I can`t believe he just said that. He just
led on that voter I.D. laws are about winning elections, indeed they are in
battleground state of Pennsylvania.

RENDELL: The great thing is, that is going to be evidence produced by
affidavits in the court case that challenges it.

MELBER: Yes. To jump in, since I guess the governor decided we`re not
continuing on that statement.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, do it.


MELBER: So, here is the thing about it. In 2007 when the Supreme Court
looked at this law from Indiana, one of the things they said was, just
because it`s a party line vote, because it was only Republicans doing it,
doesn`t mean it`s inappropriate.


MELBER: What you need for a constitutional challenge to succeed, is
evidence that the goal was election geared.

HARRIS-PERRY: But see, this is a challenge because the question is whether
or not desperate impact and this matters on everything from housing policy
to voting policy to education policy if desperate impact could still stand
as a Supreme Court decision, and it`s not clear in this court you can make
a disparate impact argument. Because the desperate impact is very clear
this will impact some community more than others.

MELBER: Absolutely. And also in the same judicial findings in the Supreme
Court case, there were no findings of voter fraud in Indiana On the Record
belong. So even the court that upheld it said there was none of that, and
what they would need, the bar they would need is someone actually going out
and saying I passed this law only to elect my guy. This gets pretty close
to exactly what the conservative Supreme Court said was unacceptable.

RENDELL: And remember, he is not just a state representative.


RENDELL: He is more the elected Republican leader and the Republican
leadership in the House.

LEE: That was 34, 35 states with these terrible laws on the books that
will really disenfranchise millions of people. Senior citizens, young
people, people of color. And I think what we have to really be concerned
about is this is a stifling democracy. Here, going all around the world,
promoting democracy and in our own country, we`re trying to stop it. It`s
very dangerous.

HARRIS-PERRY: And why couldn`t that be a bipartisan point in battleground
states. To say hey, if you want to beat the president, that`s fine. Beat
him. Beat him on ideas, outspend him, do all of that, but you got to let
everybody cast their vote.

LEE: Exactly.

RENDELL: In fact, the Congressman is exactly right and give the governor
Snyder in Michigan some credit.

HARRIS-PERRY: He vetoed it.

RENDELL: He vetoed it.


RENDELL: And he is a good Republican, and he wants Mitt Romney to win, but
he did the right thing and we should speak out when Republicans speak out
on right thing.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, sir. I disagree with him on an almost everything. Bu
on that veto that was exactly the kind of bipartisan support for the sort
of question of democracy.

LEE: Can I say something? Today is my aunt`s birthday. She died a few
months ago. She would have been 101 today.


LEE: I -- she lived in Arizona. When I was trying to figure out how in
the world would she vote. Does she have a birth certificate? Does they
have a money to buy for it, pay for something? I mean, that`s just an
example of the terrible kinds of disenfranchisement.

RENDELL: "The Philadelphia enquirer" front page, a woman who was 91 who
voted in every one of the 70 elections at the same polling place. She is
not going to be able to vote. Her friends took her to the motor vehicle
place to get the new identification, she had to have a marriage license and
a birth certificate. But they were both in her maiden name, so they
disqualified her and said get a lawyer and change --

HARRIS-PERRY: To be able to vote for goodness` sake.

BUTLER: That is ridiculous. It`s like a new poll tax that they are trying
to do. But we had gerrymandering, redistricting, everything else. And
what I cannot understand is, what happened back in 2010 when we should have
paying attention to this. People were talking about ii. And the
Democratic Party slept on this.

I mean, this is the time to be fighting this two years ago when this
started with all the tea party things and everything else. So this is my
disappointment, is that people were not paying attention to this, and now
it`s going to play an important part in this election, and I don`t want to
do that hanging chat thing again.

HARRIS-PERRY: And it said, you know, some talks playing for the department
of justice and Eric Holder, who on the one hand had some jurisdiction over
this in the preclearance areas in the south, but don`t have jurisdiction
over him happening in other parts of the country. And even if he brings
challenges, again, you looking at a judiciary that could very well end up
with the cases and end up rolling back the 1965 voting rights act instead
of protecting it.

MELBER: That`s the problem. You know, we do have a collective fantasy in
this country that we`re this shining democracy, and always have been,
always will be. But that`s not true.

I mean, I`m a lawyer, when you go to law school, which you find as well,
every 15, 20 years, we fight over who gets the vote.


MELBER: So, those are all the big fights. For women, African-Americans,
people under 21, who have been sent off to die for our policies, but didn`t
have a say in it. And some of the most important amendments we made on the
constitution, one of the hardest thing to do is about expanding the

And so, what we have today are all these other elements that come in. It`s
a mistake to only look at it as partisan. I think we`ve seen a
polarization on the issue because Democrats have finally, as you say, woken
up after sleeping, but it`s not only about getting even with Republicans,

HARRIS-PERRY: No. It`s about the growth and health of the --

MELBER: Right. And so, I think what the Democrats have to do beyond
organizing in this election, I mean the Obama campaign does have a big
national hub called got to it takes you to your state, it takes
you to your state. It gives you actionable information about what you need
to bring to the polls, it gives you the tax that it should be annoying.
But when there are about, you know, in fact, it can be helpful.

HARRIS-PERRY: I saw your blog, Ari, when you talk about Donna Vote, you
said you known, some of those like show up, vote. And others are like the
list is this long, daunting.

So coming up, since we`ve been talking a bit about voting, we`ll talk about
the record number of women who are running for Congress this year, and they
are going to need your vote. What makes women candidates unique? That`s
up next.


HARRIS-PERRY: Unfortunately, our country has a pretty poor track record on
electing women to political office and recently, it has been getting worse.
Not better.

This year, when women have become the subject of campaign issues, many of
us are looking around for women to run as the object of political office,
because since 2010, the number of women in Congress has dropped to 17
percent. And the number of women in the state legislatures has declined by
nearly 80 seats. That was the first to decline of the women in office in
30 years. And if women make up 51 percent of the U.S. population and our
56 percent of all voters, why do we have such an imbalance in Congress?

Since the very first Congress, 11,699 people have served in the House or
Senate. Of these, 215, that`s less than two percent have been women. And
47 of those women were elected or appointed to fulfill congressional
vacancies created by the deaths of their husbands.

In today`s Congress, women hold 90 of the 535 seats. That is 17 of the 100
seats in the Senate and 73 of the 435 seats in the House of
Representatives. And of those women in Congress, only 24 are women of
color and there are still four states that have never, never had a woman
serving in their congressional delegation.

I mean, what is up with that, Delaware, Iowa, Mississippi, and Vermont? It
doesn`t look so good for the so-called leaders of the free world. And
that`s because the United States ranks as 78th in the world in terms of
women`s national legislative representation. That`s barely edging out

But this could all be about to change. In 2012, it could be the year of
the female politician. Because redistricting has created an opening for
new female politicians and research show that voting patterns in
presidential years tend to boost women`s candidates chances for winning.

So, this could be good news for the nine women running for open Senate
seats and six women defending theirs and in the house, 67 female
politicians running as incumbents along with 47 congressional newcomers
running for open seats.

So, while we don`t know if all of those women will get a seat at the
congressional table, we do know this is a year to set a record for the
number of women who can actually end up in the U.S. House of
Representatives. They have been filing 295 women who have filed so far
this year, beating the all-time record of 262. So I`m hoping that number
keeps rising.

Up next, one woman who found herself the victim of worst kind of
politicking this week. Tammy Duckworth and the swings and arrows of a
woman running for congress.

And the answer to this trivia question, who was the first woman elected to
Congress? The answer the break.


HARRIS-PERRY: Some women don`t get mad, they get elected. Tammy
Duckworth, lieutenant colonel of the Illinois National Guard and Iraq war
veteran, who lost both of their legs when an insurgent shot down her
helicopter in combat is doing just that. She is running for Congress as a
Democratic candidate from Illinois.

On her background both in the military and in public servant as the
assistant secretary department of veterans affairs. Her challengers,
Illinois tea party Republican Congressman Joe Walsh, she was probably best
known for not paying child support doesn`t seem to think that she should
campaign on her experience.


REP. JOE WALSH (R), ILLINOIS: But understand something about John McCain,
his political advisors, day after day, had to take him in almost wall
against wall. And here we against the wall and here used to add and say,
senator, you have to let people know you served. You have to talk about
what you did. That`s what is so noble about our heroes.

Now, I`m running against a woman who, I mean, my God, that`s all she talks


HARRIS-PERRY: All the Walsh`s since says he believes that Duckworth is a
hero, he told CNN this on Thursday about those remarks.


WALSH: This wasn`t a slipup. I don`t regret anything I said.


HARRIS-PERRY: Seems like someone is a little bit threatened. Not easy
being a white guy running for office.

Back with me are Congresswoman Barbara Lee, former governor Ed Rendell,
Professor Anthea Butler and joining me at the table is Stephanie Schriock
who is president of Emily`s list. I know your works so well. And of
course, Emily`s list is an organization dedicated to electing pro-choice
Democratic woman for office in phoenix Arizona is Krysten Sinema, a
democrat running for U.S. congress.

I`m going to come to you in just one moment, Ms. Sinema. But first, I want
to let you answer our trivia question, Stephanie, from earlier which is who
was the first woman elected to U.S. Congress?

STEPHANIE SCHRIOCK, EMILY`S LIST: As a proud Montanan, and I can say it`s
Jeanette Rankin, and in fact as saying earlier, it`s really important to
note, that she was elected before women across the country had the right to
vote, Montana sent their first congresswoman.

RENDELL: Astounding.

HARRIS-PERRY: Pretty astonishing she made the choice to run. And so,
speaking of the choice to run, Ms. Sinema, I`m so fascinated by your race
out there in Arizona, in part because just -- just your level of
qualifications between law school and a Ph.D. and having served in the
statehouse, it`s almost feels to me you are overqualified for U.S.
Congress. So, talk to me about your race.

a really interesting race. This is a brand new district in Arizona. The
ninth district. And it`s a district that really represents the heart of
Arizona. It evenly split between Democrats, independents and Republicans
and it is a district where the majority of voters are women.

So, we feel like it`s a great representation of what our state truly is,
not what you see on TV with Jan Brewer, what our state really looks like
and it`s also great opportunity to pick up for seats for Democrats, and of
course as I hope, for a pro choice democratic woman.

HARRIS-PERRY: Actually, Stephanie, let me go to you on exactly this
question. I mean, in part because on the one hand, here we have Krysten
Sinema, who is running -- her work on SB 1070, and resisting that, a lot of
what people know about her.

But in the state, there is a woman who holds executive office, there is Jan
Brewer in the state. How does an organize like Emily`s list balance that
idea of sort of policies and positions that are good for women on the one
hand and simply electing more women to office.

SCHRIOCK: Well, Emily`s list is completely focused on electing great women
like Krysten, who we are so proud to support. And hello, Krysten.

SINEMA: Hi, Stephanie.

SCHRIOCK: We support pro choice Democratic women, because we really
believe those Democratic women when they get into congress, they get into
Senate, they get into legislatures, that they are going to move policies
forward that are going to drive a progressive agenda for our families and
our community and we just disagree with the Republican party right now.

They have been waging this war on women for the last two years now. We
have got to make sure that every woman in this country knows what the
Republican Party and their policies stand for, and it`s a really critical

HARRIS-PERRY: Congressman Lee, was there a time when Democratic and
Republican women sort of thought of themselves, we`re women here in the
house, and so, have ideological differences, partisan differences, but
we`ll come together on for example, policies around family and reproductive

LEE: Sure. And we have a women`s caucus in the house and that is the
guiding principle of the women`s caucus, to try to find common ground on
issues that we can`t find a common ground on.

And of course, on choice, I am strongly pro choice, as are most democratic
women. We don`t, at the women`s caucus really address that, but we address
other issues such as health care, such as nutrition, such as the weak
program, you know, issues that we can come together on.

But, let me just say. I remember Shirley Chism. Got me involved in
politics. She insisted our register to vote in the early 70s. She was the
first woman, Democratic woman, first African-American who have run for
presidency. Also, the first African-American woman elected to congress.

HARRIS-PERRY: And some of the things, although she lost, I mean, folks may
not know this, some of the choices that she made in terms of how delegates
were apportioned, some of the push actually is lays the ground work for
President Obama ultimately being elaborated.

LEE: Lays the ground work for Reverend Jesse Jackson to run and also for
President Obama. And so, we have this progressive African-American woman
in the early `70s, come to congress, where she really told me, early on,
she says, look, women have got to get into the system, not to go along to
get along, but to shake things up. She said these rules weren`t made for
us or by us and we have a duty and responsibility to run for office to
change the world and change the country and I think women can do that.

HARRIS-PERRY: I want to ask a little bit -- we started by talking about
the attacks On Tammy Duckworth, which, you know, were not gendered attacks
per se, they were attacks on her identity as a veteran and obviously the
sacrifices that she`s made. But, there did seem to be something almost
icky about the fact that this woman and veteran was being challenged in her
very identity as a hero. Is there something about running for office as a
woman that leads to a certain kind of vulnerability in the actual campaign
process for you?

SINEMA: Well, you know, what`s interesting, Arizona, voters actually
prefer women generally over men. But you can certainly see the difference
of being a woman on the campaign trail. Because your male counterparts can
say things and behave in ways that women just can`t behave. So, if I`m
strong or assertive, we always risk could be the attack of being, you know,
she`s too tough or she is not nice enough.

And on the other hand, you know, men can say what they want to say and
attack you and it`s difficult for a woman to find the balance of how to
stick up for yourself and the people you represent while also making sure
that you are not going to take too much flock from your opponents.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. And when we come back, I want to talk a little bit,
not only about that but also some of the structural issues in the way that
Emily`s list addresses the structural issues facing women and also bring in
party`s leadership and talk about how Democratic Party men and women can
support women running for office.

And also, I just want to ask, who is to blame for keeping women`s
representation in Congress so low? We have an answer, I swear, I really do
after the break.

Also, in our next hour, why I think the GOP is playing a Jedi mind trick.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why is it still so few women in power? You look at the




HARRIS-PERRY: That was former secretary of state Madeleine Albright at
this year`s women in the world summit. Getting straight to the point with
Charlie Rose.

Back with me are Congresswoman Barbara Lee, former governor Ed Rendell,
professor Anthea Butler, Stephanie Schriock, tell me.

SCHRIOCK: Schriock.

HARRIS-PERRY: I know. I don`t know. I`m bad. I`m bad. President of
Emily`s list. And in Phoenix, Arizona, Krysten Sinema, Democratic
candidate for Congress.

So, on the break, we were talking about the structural issues of getting
women to run and then one of them is literally about recruitment, just
being asked to run, and have someone say you know what, you are smart, you
are capable, you have 18 degrees, you ought to run and that data show us
men, like as you said, look in the mirror, and are ready to run and women
sometimes need more.

What can both organizations like Emily`s list but also the parties
themselves to do to make sure we get more Krysten in the world.

SCHRIOCK: Well, in Emily`s list has been around 27 years, and when we
started 27 years then, not a single Democratic woman had won a seat in the
United States her own right. We were just talking about Shirley Chism. I
mean, this is not that long ago, this in our lifetime.


SCHRIOCK: That we`re talking about these firsts. And so organizes like
Emily`s list who have focused so hard on ensuring that women are stepping
up and running. It`s precisely why we`re seeing the numbers in 2012. It
doesn`t happen overnight.


SCHRIOCK: I mean, we have been working with some of these women since they
have in the legislature like Houston. I looked at three of the women
running for United States Senate right now. And Tammy Baldwin in
Wisconsin, Shelly Berkeley of Nevada, (INAUDIBLE) in Hawaii, all of the
congresswoman`s colleague running for senate. Emily`s list were with them
when they were in the legislature. Just keep pushing and prodding them
along and asking them to run, we have to ask women to run. And you got to
do it over and over again.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. I mean, in fact, if anyone doesn`t know, Emily is not
for a person. It stands for Early Money Is Like Yeast, right? That when
you provide some early resources, right, it allows folks to grow.

So, if you got to get into the state legislature level, what should parties
be doing? I mean, so the Democratic party in Illinois or in Pennsylvania,
what should those party leaders be up to?

RENDELL: They should have a very aggressive recruitment program where they
go into schools. Some teachers make great candidates because they have
fire in the belly. Go into the law firms and say, hey, it`s not so bad
running for office, number one. It`s important. It`s the only way to make
changes. And that blast -- somebody showed me clips -- not clips,
cufflinks that Hillary Clinton gave him with the 18 million cracks in the

Well, be part of that. It`s something -- I think it would be so exciting,
and one of the points Stephanie made from a male perspective, someone who
cares about policy, more women in the legislature, state legislature or
congress, need more interest in children`s health. More interest in early
childhood education. Things not only good for women, but good for all of

HARRIS-PERRY: In fact, Ms. Sinema, talk to me. Just -- we don`t have a
lot of time, but I really want to make sure as we go that folks have a
clear sense that yes, you are a woman who is running, but what are top
issues for you?

SINEMA: Well, the number one issue in Arizona, probably similar to around
the country, is jobs. And you know, Governor Rendell is right, that`s not
a women`s issue or men`s issue. That`s about families, people need jobs.
And in Arizona, that`s really all we`re focused on. It`s helping people
get back on their feet, get jobs, keep their homes, and prepare their kids
for the future.

HARRIS-PERRY: Indeed. Absolutely. I`m going to give you the very last
word, Congresswoman Lee, how do we make sure there are more Krysten in the

LEE: Well first, thank God for Emily`s list and for women who want to go.
With this horrible decision of citizens united and the super PAC money and
the corporate money, all the money that`s not disclosed - mean, this is
another big problem.

And so, we have I say citizens finance in a campaign sooner or later and we
have to really help women at the grass roots level with smaller donations
and really help them raise money because that`s a big problem.

Finally, Democrats taking back the house, women speaker, greatest speaker
ever, Nancy Pelosi, November of the elections have consequences, we would
have a woman who would share the science and technology committee, we have
a woman who would share appropriations committee. We would have a woman
who would share financial services committee, I could go on and on and on.


LEE: Women will be in power.

HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. So, after this year of all of this vaginal
talk if we want to actually put women at the center, Democratic win in the

Thank you, Stephanie. Thank you to Krysten and the rest are back for more.
I want to hear more from Anthea Butler.

But coming up, Mitt Romney may be taking to us a galaxy far, far away,
where not everything he`s doing makes sense, the GOP is making us use a
Jedi mind trick.

I`m not going to let you all be fooled.


HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. OK. You may be wondering what in the world I
am doing with a Darth Vader mask and with light sabers, but as Yoda might
say, guess not, learn or learn not. There is no guess. Look, I`m not one
to second guess another person`s decisions. Sorry, the light sabers are
making a lot of noise. But maybe just this once at times it`s difficult to
reconcile who Mitt Romney is and what Republicans want in a candidate, is
as though they are trying to perform a Jedi mind trick on voters like Jedi
master Obi-Wan Kenobi.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me see your identification.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don`t need to see his identification.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don`t need to see his identification.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These aren`t the droids you are looking for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These aren`t the droids we are looking for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He can go about his business.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can go about your business.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Move along, move along.


HARRIS-PERRY: You see, with a wave of the collective Jedi hand, the
GOP tries to make voters think that what they find problematic in Mitt
Romney is not a problem at all. Here are some of the Jedi-mind tricks they
couldn`t get past us, trick number one, we, the Republicans hate the
individual mandate, therefore, we`re going to nominate a former governor
who passed health care reform with an individual mandate.

Trick number two, we, the Republicans feel that President Obama is an out
of touch elitist who doesn`t understand the pain of the American people,
therefore, we`ll nominate this guy, the same one looking to build an
elevator in his garage -- in one of his homes. And trick three, we, the
Republicans, are deeply concerned with outsourcing of American jobs. We
will therefore nominate a guy whose money apparently lives in places far
beyond U.S. borders.

Nice try, Republicans. But I`ve caught on to your Jedi tricks, and it
remains to be seen if voters will catch on too, or if they`ll decide to
overlook the fact that presumptive candidate Mitt Romney may not match some
of the qualifications they say they want in a leader. At the table,
Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California, former Pennsylvania
governor and now MSNBC and Jedi political analyst Ed Rendell, Anthea
Butler, religious studies professor at U Penn, and MSNBC contributor Ari

So, this is our theory. That here they have nominated this guy who is
actually all the things that they claim they don`t want. Let`s start with
an individual mandate. How is this debate going to happen between
President Obama and Governor Romney? At a certain point, they are going to
be standing next to each other, and someone is going to say I don`t like
the individual mandates. How is this possible?

ARI MELBER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I want to tell you how. This problem
is deeper than Mitt Romney`s lack of a core. We let Mitt Romney and the
Republicans off the hook when we imply that this is a problem of one man.


MELBER: The entire Republican leadership was actively advancing an
individual mandate in 93-94 in the HEART Act ...


MELBER: ... which over 20 Republicans senators co-sponsored. That
doesn`t mean just voting, that means they were actively pushing it. And
more would have come along. The co-sponsorship is the limit, the lower
limit of support.


MELBER: The HEART act had a mandate. Another bill, the Consumer
Choice Security Act of 1994 had 24 Republican senators on it, and it had
financial penalties if you didn`t buy insurance. Now, you can call it
whatever you want.

HARRIS-PERRY: You call it a tax, call it a penalty.

MELBER: Just call whatever you want, but you know, this is Melissa
Harris-Perry show, we do real talk here. Real talk is both those bills
supported by the majority of the Republican Senate caucus at the time, had
this kind of mandate approach. It was not just Mitt Romney.

HARRIS-PERRY: Which is part of -- which is part of why Mitt Romney
ends up passing it in Massachusetts.


MELBER: So, the whole party is confused on it, the whole party has a
bad record. They like blaming Mitt Romney. We know, the reason why a lot
of health experts and people across the spectrum long supported a mandate
before it became politicized, because it is good health care policy.


ED RENDELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Republican think tank was maybe
the first proponent of it. It`s interesting, I went as governor -- when
President Bush was president, I thought there was no chance for the
national health insurance, and Massachusetts was moving in the right
direction, we went up and spent about a day with Mitt Romney and his people
there for about two hours. He was very proud of the mandate and told us
how important it was to make the overall scheme work, which it is, if we
are going to give health insurance to people with preexisting conditions


RENDELL: ... we have to widen the pool.


RENDELL: And get healthy people in.

HARRIS-PERRY: Because there is no other way, right just no other way
-- right, otherwise it`s a moral hazard. Right, because then only sick
folks buy, then the cost of insurance goes up, and the fact is, we`re all
paying anyway, right?

all paying anyway. But, you know, the real Jedi-mind trick, that Mitt
Romney does, is I want you to forget my history.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. I was never governor of Massachusetts.

BUTLER: I was never governor. I was never governor. And then he
tries to go -- the next Jedi mind trick is to flip-flop about everything
that he`s done. So he has to try to put himself as this other person. He
wants to change this history, and he can`t go back. He`s having this
tension about it.


BUTLER: And I think this is going to be the problem that the
Republicans will have, if they try to continue to play this Jedi mind
tricks, because it`s not going to work. It had too much sound bites. I
mean maybe out in space you don`t have a recording or a DVD or, you know,
YouTube, but I think these Jedi mind tricks are going to backfire. What I
really want to know, though, is who is running the Death Star? And that is
the big -- that`s the big issue.

HARRIS-PERRY: We are coming to that, I promise. We have a whole set
of theories who the rest of the Jedi masters are, folks, you should stick
around for that. I want to ask you this, Congresswoman, is there anything
reasonable about saying, well, what happens in a state shouldn`t happen at
the national level? I mean you know, you make federal policy, but you are
undoubtedly in communication with local folks, governor, you were as the
leader of Pennsylvania, are there things that you say, oh, OK. This isn`t
a Jedi mind trick. This is reasonable to say some things should happen at
the federal level. Others at the state or local level.

LEE: Certainly there are some things that should happen at the state
and local level, many of our educational effort happen at the state and
local level, but come on. Health care reform, this is a national policy,
first of all. Currently, it has been in the past a national disaster, and
so this revisionist history, and that`s exactly what it is, really is an
attempt to just not tell the truth to the American people.

And also when you look at the rhetoric of what the Republicans are saying,
and Mitt Romney, and when you look at their reality, much of what they
have done, I think people are going to see that this is disingenuous, it`s
wrong, people deserve health care, the benefits of health care reform are
going to help Republicans, Democrats, Independents, everyone.

HARRIS-PERRY: And the people of Massachusetts seem to also actually
like it, right? I mean, both before and after.

LEE: And I`m sure people in our own country, when the polls have been
shown ...


LEE: ... that people who have benefited already from health care
reform, they like it.

MELBER: And that`s the other thing on the national point to the
congresswoman`s point, President Reagan signed the Emergency Medical
Treatment Act ...


MELBER: ... that is a moral piece of legislation that says we will
not deny people health care when they go into the ill.


MELBER: It`s a federal law.


MELBER: President Reagan signed it.


MELBER: There is your Darth Vader. The Republicans said who is my

HARRIS-PERRY: OH, who is my father?

MELBER: Yeah. Yeah.


HARRIS-PERRY: I am your father. Oh, my god. If they took up the
mask and it was Reagan.

MELBER: Yeah, yeah, and you take it off and there is Ronald Reagan
and he goes, and he goes, I am super conservative. I`m what my son calls,
a severe conservative. But guess what, even Ronald Reagan was for a
federal national approach, to saying your, you get health care in the ER.
We don`t let you die on the table because you are poor.

RENDELL: But there are -- there are differences in a state, even on
health care, and by the way, for the Affordable Health Care Act recognizes
that we need states set up its own exchanges. For example, Pennsylvania
and Florida are older states. We`ve got a sicker population, and a lot of
that sicker population is not on Medicare, it`s on Medicaid, actually,
(inaudible) population. In a younger state, you know, a western state --
that doesn`t -- it may be a little different. So, but ...

HARRIS-PERRY: With lots of states and concentrated versus more rural
states ...

RENDELL: Absolutely.


RENDELL: There are -- room for -- for individual approaches. And the
good thing is, the Affordable Health Care Act does just that. Now, it will
be interesting, I mean, we`re all talking about whether the Republican
governors will take the Medicaid money and by the way, the seven of them
who haven`t, it`s a disgrace.


RENDELL: It`s a disgrace. They should be ashamed. First three
years, 100 percent federal, would help their people. After that, ten
percent state. What we pay normally for Medicaid, we pay about 40 to 50
percent depending on the state. This is almost free money. For them not
to take it to the benefit of their people is a disgrace.

HARRIS-PERRY: And just so they can try to be--


RENDELL: Political. Right. And -- but the most interesting thing for
me is, what are they going to do about the -- they have the right to not
run their own exchanges, they have a right to say Obamacare is terrible.
Let the Feds -- if there has to be an exchange, let the federal government
run the exchanges. How many states do you think are going to divest that
to the federal government?

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, actually -- actually, basically invite the
federal governor in. Coming up, we`re going to ask more about how the
Romney camp deals with the whole elitism thing. That`s the other Jedi mind
trick. Later this hour, the word police are after me and I`ll tell you



take a vacation with my family. I think all Americans appreciate the
memories that they have with their children and their grandchildren. I
hope that more Americans are able to take vacations.


HARRIS-PERRY: I`m sure more Americans wish they could take vacations,
but many are unable to do that, because they simply can`t afford it. So,
how can Mitt Romney, who will be running to take back the country for those
people relate to those who are trying to simply make ends meet when he`s
worth an estimated $250 million, possibly more. I can`t wait to see if
that sort of Jedi mind trick that the Republicans used will work on the
folks at this table. At the table, Representative Barbara Lee, Ed Rendell,
Anthea Butler and Ari Melber.

So, we have got a guy, post-Tea Party, running as -- the person who is
supposed to be the populist, to bring America back. Sunday Styles, right.
The Styles section of "The New York Times" today is about the $3 million
Hampton weekend in terms of fund-raising. Now, look, it takes money to run
for president. But you do get the sense of on the one hand, like rolling
up your sleeves in the battleground states. On the other hand, you like
party in the Hamptons, is this a Jedi mind trick that someone who is an
elite can be Mr. Let`s Have a Beer -- well, not have a beer, not with Mitt
Romney. But to just sort of hang out?

BUTLER: Well, I think it is a Jedi-mind, trick, and what he has to
count on is, that the mind trick is that he hopes that, you know, the
regular working class folks don`t find out about this weekend in the
Hamptons, OK, or that they look at it as oh, he has to raise money. But so
he has to put a spin on it. Because right now he doesn`t look like the guy
who would go out, you know, in the yard with you and work on the car. I
don`t think he`s ever pushed a lawn mower. I think he just doesn`t look
like that guy. So, he is going to have a problem, I think, no matter what
mind tricks he does, to look like a regular person. I can`t see him doing
what Hillary Clinton did, which is taking shots in Pennsylvania someplace.

HARRIS-PERRY: He`s not going to take shots.

MELBER: Yeah, he`s not going to take shots.

HARRIS-PERRY: He`s Mormon. And he`s not going to take shots.


BUTLER: Eat a burger in front of somebody, can he do these regular
things? That even when you talk about vacation, it`s not like the jump in
the car and getting vacation and putting Seamus on top.


BUTLER: And he is jet skiing, he is at this big house, he`s got
company, he`s got all the family, it is a very big chasm he has to cross.
And I don`t know how he does it unless he puts on some kind of costume.

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, McCain did it last time in part by bringing on
Sarah Palin, right, I mean part of what happened was they brought Sarah
Palin and kind of the Joe the Plumber version of working class white
voters. Does he need a Palin or -- actually Palin, but does he need
someone who can kind of perform that working class version for him?

LEE: Well, I personally don`t think so. I think people really
understand that, first of all, growing -- there is a growing income
inequality. The gap between the rich and the poor is growing. Secondly,
CEO compensation is enormous, and that`s growing. Thirdly, Mitt Romney
supports offshoring of jobs. And clearly he does not understand what it
takes to invest in our infrastructure and in our health care sectors and
energy and in manufacturing and in auto industry for the average working
American, and so I don`t think that people, regardless of who he brings on
as his V.P. candidate, I think they really understand that he`s about
going back to the Bush era economic policies, which benefit the wealthy,
and he believes that we should give tax breaks to millionaires and

HARRIS-PERRY: But let me ask you if I`m being unfair. Because it`s
possible that a president could be himself from the elite and yet be a
great president for the populace, so FDR, of course, was the classic
example of this. Or is this just kind of an unfair position?

RENDELL: Yeah, I think it is a little bit unfair.


RENDELL: I think the congresswoman focuses on the right thing. It`s
the policies, not the personal background. Because some of the presidents
who have done the most for poor people, I mean look at what FDR put in
place to protect poor and old people in America. FDR was about as elite as
you can get. He didn`t vacation on Coney Island.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. That`s right.

RENDELL: You know, so it`s the policies that are more important than
the person. And I think ordinary people we had -- the first serious
African-American candidate to run for mayor in Philadelphia was a guy by
the name of Charlie Basel. A great guy. He just recently passed away.
Charlie would say to black audiences, he said don`t ask me how many blacks
I`m going to have in my government. He said, you don`t care if the person
is green, if they do the job to make your neighborhood safer and cleaner.
And that`s what the average American cares about.


MELBER: I think the money -- and the money problem is this. If
people at home feel they`ve heard this message and they don`t like rich
politicians, well, the median household net worth is about $75,000. The
average of U.S. senator`s net worth is $13 million. That`s something we
have talked about it here on MSNBC before.

So, if you think this is a problem, this is not a Mitt Romney problem.
This is a problem of both parties, because of -- just to finish, with both
parties, because of the system we have, we are electing richer and richer
people. So we have to look extra hard at the policies, we have to fix the
infrastructure campaign finance as well. Look, (inaudible) policies.
Because if you don`t like Mitt Romney for this, then you`ve got a problem
with the whole Senate and Barack Obama is much wealthier than most people.
That hasn`t gotten in the way of him focusing on government jobs and
spending rather than not.

HARRIS-PERRY: Otherwise, I always love the fact that President Obama
paid off his student loans basically moments before taking his U.S. Senate
seat, right, and in part because, you know, certainly he`s a rich guy, no
one is claiming that Barack and Michelle Obama are not wealthy people, but
there was a little bit of a sense of that -- you know, just a couple of
years ago, we were still paying off our student loans, versus the sense of
kind of disconnection and I just wonder if there is particularly given that
there was this Tea Party populism that did say, not so much I don`t like
the rich person, but -- and you`re shaking your head no?

RENDELL: When I was DNC chair in 2000, I can`t tell you how many
events I went to in the Hamptons. Barack Obama ...



RENDELL: Barack Obama dominated in the Hamptons.



RENDELL: Barack Obama raised money on Wall Street. And he still is
raising money, but in 2008, I think he broke all sorts of records. So,
look, it`s the policies. Go back to what the candidate ...


LEE: That is the problem.

MELBER: And that`s what, you know, to quote Jay-Z on Sunday.


MELBER: You know, if money talks, the whole world is going to hear me
out, OK? Money talks too much in our system. And the candidates who have
social and political access to money do better. Barack Obama did come from
a different, you know, set of roots, so did Michael Bloomberg. But I
submit to you that if we are going to go out and say, and I disagree with
you, I have got to side with the governor here. If we are going to go out
and say, well, you know, the problem is you have all this money, well,
that`s a problem with our entire political elite culture.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, rich men and women, no problem, they can be in
office ...

RENDELL: Policies.

BUTLER: The policies -- Mitt Romney doesn`t have policy, and that is
the problem. There is no policy. You (inaudible), I can see it, that he`s
not an FDR, it isn`t --

HARRIS-PERRY: He is not FDR. He is not even Reagan at times.

BUTLER: He`s a marshmallow. He`s not articulate at anything. So,
until he can say policies, he is just going to be the rich guy.


BUTLER: And this is the problem. And the only thing he has right now
is to say that OK, you all can be like me, if you pull yourselves up by
your boot straps, but we know that people can`t do it that way anymore.

HARRIS-PERRY: And if you`re going to be the rich guy, coming up,
we`re going to ask who is playing the role of Chewbacca to Mitt Romney`s
Luke. And other important questions as we assess the Romney plan next.
Who is the Jedi circle?



campaign manager, David Plouffe.


OBAMA: The unsung hero of this campaign, who built the best -- the
best political campaign I think in the history of the United States of


HARRIS-PERRY: That was a pretty unbelievable moment. He thanked his
campaign manager. That was President-elect Barack Obama thanking his Jedi
master, campaign manager David Plouffe after helping him win the 2008
election, which got me to thinking, who is Mitt Romney`s Jedi inner circle?
And what parts could they play in his victory or defeat come November? So
back with me, Representative Barbara Lee, Government Ed Rendell, Anthea
Butler, and Ari Melber. Let`s have fun for a few minutes. Eric

RENDELL: He is the Etch-a-Sketch guy?

HARRIS-PERRY: I think totally is, and so we have dubbed him
Chewbacca, because it feels like every time he speaks it`s like --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He even looks a little bit like him.

HARRIS-PERRY: All right, all right, all right. That`s good. Keep --
all right, who do you think is R2-D2 and C-3PO?

BUTLER: Oh, my gosh.

HARRIS-PERRY: This week they were on a bus together.

MELBER: The boys.

BUTLER: The boys.

RENDELL: The boys.

MELBER: Bobby Jindal?

HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, Bobby Jindal. And Tim Pawlenty. That`s right.

MELBER: Who is R2-D2.


HARRIS-PERRY: R2-D2 and C-3PO, they come off a bit robotic and yet --
and yet cute somehow. OK. I really -- I do -- I do love this one. Marco
Rubio, we decided would be a good match with ...

MELBER: That`s tough.

HARRIS-PERRY: Lando Calrissian.

BUTLER: Yes, yes.

BUTLER: Smooth, no one knows what side he is on.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, but right, you don`t know whose side he is on.

BUTLER: Right, but nice to everybody.

HARRIS-PERRY: Nice to everybody, but he might ...

BUTLER: Good looking.

HARRIS-PERRY: Good looking, but, you know, he might abandon you at a
crucial moment.

BUTLER: He might sell you out.

MELBER: If he stabs you in the back, it`s only because he had to.

BUTLER: Exactly.


MELBER: A lot of like, you know, look, I`m dealing with the emperor,


HARRIS-PERRY: No, I love this one -- we had a good time with this
one. We decided that Beth Myers reminded us a lot of -- no guess -- Boba
Fett, the loyal servant, right? He speaks quietly but gets the job done.

BUTLER: Done, yeah.


MELBER: That`s good.

MELBER: This segment might do well on the Internet, because you`re
getting into the weeds.


HARRIS-PERRY: All right, now we -- governor is looking at me like
what is happening on television?

RENDELL: You taught at Princeton?


RENDELL: Now I am convinced that Penn is a better--


HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, no. No, ouch.

OK, that said, we did think, however, that Ann Romney was playing a
bit of a Princess Leia role?

BUTLER: Because, you know, she is rescued--

BUTLER: But she is no wallflower ...

BUTLER: No wallflower either.


BUTLER: That`s right, but not with me.

HARRIS-PERRY: Not with me standing here. All right. Any -- any
guesses for Han Solo, we were talking about the importance of Han Solo?

MELBER: That`s tough. Maybe Eric Cantor?

RENDELL: Oh, no.

LEE: No, no, no.

HARRIS-PERRY: We thought actually Chris Christie might fit this role,
in parts because you know, Han -- Han Solo, is of course, a loyal friend,
but he is also a bit of a rapscallion. You know.

MELBER: And he yells at you any place, in any time. He might shoot
at you too.

HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right.

MELBER: Don`t catch him on the boardwalk.


BUTLER: But he`s pretty direct.


MELBER: Can I make a nomination?

HARRIS-PERRY: Make a nomination, Ari.

MELBER: You know, we`re always trying to figure out who is behind the
curtain. And I think if you go to the emperor of this Republican Party,
it`s still Roger Ailes. He is back there. Everyone is afraid of him.

RENDELL: I would disagree.

HARRIS-PERRY: OK, who is the emperor?

RENDELL: Grover Norquist.

HARRIS-PERRY: Ah, Grover Norquist.

RENDELL: Behind the curtain, he`s like the Wizard of Oz. He really
controls and there is nothing to him.

BUTLER: I think both in here get a spot in some kind of way. I think
they both get a nod. Because I think you can`t -- Roger Ailes, he is the
Death Star, he is controlling the whole thing.

HARRIS-PERRY: I love you guys. This has been fun.

BUTLER: He`s got the whole thing.

HARRIS-PERRY: And as we go out, when we come back, we`re going to
talk a little bit about the word police and what happened to me this week,
but you should also see a picture of what happens in Nerdland when we start
playing with light sabers, yep, those are my producers. We`ll be back,
after the break.


HARRIS-PERRY: Pulitzer Prize winner David Maraniss tells the tale of
prescient wisdom in his biography of Barack Obama, relating a story of a
high-school aged Obama asked by a teacher what people should fear most.
Maraniss writes, "Words," he said. "Words are the power to be feared most,
because directed personally or internationally, words can be weapons of

Indeed. So too can words be powerful when they inspire, motivate.
Words like "tear down this wall" can help defeat an empire. Words like
"hope and change" can lead to health care transformation. Words like
"mission accomplished" can embarrass a nation, and words like "have you now
or have you ever been," can cripple institutions and industries.

Words like "we hold these truths to be self-evident" can spark a
revolution, and words like "we the people" can empower the individual.
Even though it means like words like "never worked a day in her life" can
stir a national frenzy, and words like "uncomfortable" can unleash a
torrent of vitriol and backlash, and words like "happy white people`s
Independence Day" can set off the cable chattering class with nothing less
than more words. A seemingly never-ending 24-hour of cycle of shampoo,
rinse and repeat as needed, overflow of words.

But that`s our business, and now it`s my business here on cable TV.
Indeed, particularly here on "Melissa Harris-Perry," we`re all about words.
We try to be as careful as we can to select the words which we offer to
you, because behind those words are ideas, ideas we use in this form, this
incredible opportunity to discuss with you, we hope, in some smart and
provocative and sometimes silly ways.

So last week on this program, three days ahead of Independence Day, I
choose my words to reflect on this nation that I love dearly, words that
spoke to our nation`s history, that spoke that despite our exceptionalism,
the mistakes of the past and our undeniable building blocks of our identity
in both the present and the potential of our future. I spoke of atrocities
specific to America and the fact that despite those very undeniable
realities, that this nation, about to celebrate the anniversary of her
independence, remains the world`s great promise.

Out came the word police with their Franken-bite selected excerpts of
what I had to say. Out came their condemnation of any criticism of the
nation so close to the day commemorating our founding, a founding based on
the very principle of the right to criticize, oppose, even at times to
revolt. Revolt, word police? Holster your weapons, pocket your badges.
This is not a revolution being televised. It`s just television. We`re
just talking with our words. Just as those who came before us fought and
died so that we could.

Still at the table with me, are Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee
of California, former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and Anthea Butler,
religious studies professor at U Penn, and MSNBC contributor Ari Melber.

So we have been played with this word police idea in part because
Chris Rock on 4th of July tweeted one of the things I just talked about.
"Happy white people`s Independence Day." Now, he`s a comedian, right? So
he`s being funny, but there was a sense both in that and then some of the
criticism that I took from another network about what I had said about
Independence Day, the sense that some things are just off limits, that you
are just not allowed, particularly in the political realm or the patriotic
realm to say certain kinds of things. Have we gone too far on that? Are we
word policing too much?

BUTLER: Yes, and I think that nuance is lost. And what the problem
is with this is that it seems to be that on days like the 4th of July,
everybody wants to whitewash, and I use that word specifically, the history
of this nation, and this is a complicated history.

You can`t say the framers were great without talking about Thomas
Jefferson owning slaves. You cannot talk about the greatness of the nation
without also talking about the foibles of the nation and the troubles of
the nation. And that doesn`t mean you are less of a patriotic person. It
just means that on days like this, the word police want to come out and
tell you what to do because the emotions run high.

I also think it`s a political thing. We`ve lost the sense of nuance.
there is a rewriting of history that is going on right now that would say,
you know, slaves were OK, they were being treated well. And all this
stuff. And that`s where I get very angry at this, so I have to just call
out these people and say I think you`re wrong, and this about is about
freedom of speech. And when the other side does the same thing and they
get upset because people call them out, it`s quid pro quo, we need to be
able to say things without having to feel as though everyone is trying to
censor us.

MELBER: I disagree with part of this. I agree with I think the
point, but I disagree with the view that this is new. As for the idea
about how we process our anniversaries, you know, some of that comes from
different cultural goals. I mean, a lot of people feel in certain cultures
that if you`re at a funeral, you only talk about the good things, and
that`s respect, and that`s the day for that respect, and very little else
is tolerated.

Other people do wakes and tell stories and jokes and talk about the
person`s foibles. And if it comes from within the community, that is
sometimes considered the highest honor. So there are different sort of
cultural baselines to how we celebrate our wonderful birthday, which is
this amazing country that does all these amazing thing, and also isn`t

All of our politics is about the notion that America is not perfect,
because people feel so strongly about what they want to change. On the
history, though, I brought just a quote from Tocqueville, who is one of the
best observers of our--

HARRIS-PERRY: What a Nerdlandy thing to do. You brought a quote from
Tocqueville. Read it, Ari.

MELBER: Well, when your talented staff explained the conversation you
wanted to have, I thought, well, that reminds of something that he said,
which is, "I know of no country in which there is so little independence of
mind and real freedom of discussion as in America. In America, the
majority raises formidable barriers around the liberty of opinion. Within
these barriers, an author may write what he pleases. But woe to him if he
goes beyond them."

And I think that is what is going on as well, and that`s been going on
since the beginning of our history. We have one of the most robust
protections for freedom of speech anywhere in world history. We get out
there and we defend the rights of Nazis to speak, and other countries don`t
do that, but then we expect that we will deplore what we do not like, and
we will not only say don`t say that, we`ll say that`s out of bounds, never
say that. What happened to Chris Rock or what happens when people get on
the wrong side of that is, the majority comes in and says, we cannot debate
that, you should never have said it. And that`s a problem within our

HARRIS-PERRY: And, yet, I want to be able to say that some things do
feel like they have gone a step too far. So on the one hand, I have
anxiety about the word police, the idea of limiting, but then I hear Allen
West. And I want to listen to what Allen West said on July 1st and maybe
present a different side of this.


REP. ALLEN WEST, (R), FLORIDA: It`s very simple. He does not want
you to have self-esteem of getting up and earning, and have that title of
America. He rather you be the slave and be economically dependent upon


HARRIS-PERRY: So Allen West, speaking of President Obama, says he
rather you be his slave, and so on the one hand, yes, we have freedom of
speech, but then I thought, whoa, wait a minute, slave is an actual word
that designates a specific relationship, and that relationship has nothing
to do with free voters who choose a president.

LEE: As despicable as some of these comments are, you know, still,
the First Amendment governs. People have the right to free speech. I must
say, when you look at what Congressman Allen West has done, he raises money
off of his ridiculous statements. He actually called -- and I co-chaired
the Progressive Caucus with Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey for four years. He
called the Progressive Caucus a group of communists.

HARRIS-PERRY: Communists, yes.

LEE: He -- he takes us on in big ways, but then in another four or
five hours, he`s raised a million or $1.5 million. So I think that that`s
important, in that context to understand why some people say what they say.

But we have got to protect the right to free speech, but also we have
to have a balance between, you know, there is a lot of hate speech out
there too, and that can lead to violence, and so we have to really
calibrate that and make sure that the First Amendment rights are protected,
but that people aren`t harmed by much of the speech.

Finally, also let me say, the unfinished business of America, of
course, race still has to be swept out from under the rug, and we have to
have a full discourse on race and how inequalities in this country based on
race and background still exist.

HARRIS-PERRY: I think your point about West is very interesting
there, because it`s in part about how we use speech in the political realm.
I want to talk a little bit more about things like dog whistles and gaffes
and our cultural misunderstandings when we come back, and more on how for
some people living in the U.S., there apparently is not a guaranteed
freedom of speech when we come back.


HARRIS-PERRY: We`re back and talking about the effect that policing
our words in politics, on TV and our everyday lives has on the way we agree
and disagree and ultimately understand one another.

Still with me are Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Governor Ed Rendell, U
Penn professor Anthea Butler and MSNBC contributor Ari Melber.

As I was saying before, my concern is in part that media coverage of
what politicians say becomes the story rather than the politics itself. So
there was this whole sort of news cycle about, are the surrogates for the
campaigns off message, whether the Democratic surrogates, or the Republican
surrogates, are they off message? And the issues wasn`t what is the
message, and is the message good or bad, but are the surrogates off
message? This idea that utterances are themselves news. Does that take
away from what we ought to be talking about in the political world?

RENDELL: Well, on the issue of surrogates off message, I think we
make a huge mistake, and the campaigns make a mistake to absolutely demand
100 percent fealty to the message. Because I look upon my role -- and I`m
not a surrogate because I work for NBC. But even when I was a surrogate,
even when I was chairman, I looked upon my role as talking to the people
who have yet to make up their mind. And if I say the other side is all
devils and demonize the other side and we`re all angels and never make a
mistake, they are going to tune me out.

So I want to say, and I think you saw this with what President Clinton
said, look, I want to say Mitt Romney is a substantial guy. He was
governor. He saved the Olympics. He was a very successful business
person. That`s not the rub against Mitt Romney. Let`s focus on these

Well, the Obama folks, you know, absolutely go nuts when you say
anything that -- other than Mitt Romney is the devil incarnate. They are
crazy, because you have to have --

MELBER: Governor, we actually have a call for you, we have a call
from Chicago.

HARRIS-PERRY: By the way, I never actually heard them call him the
devil incarnate, but I hear you--


RENDELL: For example, I said -- I forget what (inaudible) said. They
asked me, is Pennsylvania in the bag for President Obama? I said, no, of
course not. It`s far too early, the margin is still relatively slim. They
went nuts, and I said to them, take a deep breath. Think about it, you
don`t want us saying Pennsylvania is in the bag.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right, right. Because you want people to come out.

RENDELL: Absolutely.

HARRIS-PERRY: I guess I`m also interested, you mentioned earlier,
Congresswoman, the idea of Allen West actually using provocative statements
as a way to raise money. The fact is, politicians use words that are
supposed to kind of go over the boundary a little bit in part to get free
media coverage, or to dog whistle to other communities.

RENDELL: Whose fault is that? It`s ours.

HARRIS-PERRY: You mean as media.

RENDELL: Yeah, we give these stupid statements all the coverage.

BUTLER: Can we use the biggest one of all? Death panels, when Sarah
Palin said death panels, that thing just consumed the airwaves, and
everybody locked into that one word, and that drove what the health care
discussion was supposed to be about, and it made it go into the ditch.

And so these dog whistles become very important. So when you say
states rights or these other kinds of things, you are whistling to this
particular kind of constituency, and that I think becomes troublesome. But
also go back to what you were talking about when you said the little thing
about the Obama campaign. I also remember Cory Booker saying, which I
thought was fascinating, but he missed this piece. He`s like, I had a list
of things to talk about, my talking points, and I was like, my, God, you
actually said that? You aren`t supposed to say that. Right? I know this,
I`m not a surrogate, but you`re not supposed to say that.

MELBER: But isn`t the other line here power? I mean, if someone who
really doesn`t matter much, the right-wing radio hosts that get entirely
too much attention and they`re in the business of generating attention to
themselves, saying online is don`t feed the trolls. OK? The people who
are just throwing it out there to get you and then we get into that cycle,
and it`s not symbiotic (ph)--


HARRIS-PERRY: I was so excited -- I don`t read press about the show,
so somebody sent me an e-mail and was like Bill O`Reilly and Gretchen
Carlson are beating up on you on Fox, and I was like, yes, yes! In fact,
could they do it every Thursday? If Gretchen and Bill every Thursday would
just like call me the liberal left-wing nutjob, that would be --

MELBER: I knew you before you had a TV show, and I know what you care
about and what you have devoted your life`s work to. It`s not generating
the response. I also know that you are a real person in the real world,
and you know that when Bill O`Reilly attacks you in the media cycle, that
is good for this show, even though that`s not what you set out to do.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right, exactly.

MELBER: The other side, though, is Congressman West, and I would love
to get your reaction, because you guys are colleagues, but Congressman West
is not a right-wing radio host and he`s not selling a media product. And
he should not be.


MELBER: So he speaks with the authority of the voters who have chosen
him and may choose him again. Right? But in the media, we do have an
obligation to deal with that because he`s not just making a business,

LEE: Sure, but I think what happens, though, with elected officials
and politicians is, yes, they are going to say what they want to say. Some
will, to try to raise money, to try to position themselves to win an
election. But what disturbs me is that the media in particular will look
for the soundbites and what makes news, and the sensationalism around the
story, an Allen West story where maybe they have not told the full story.

I believe in speaking truth to power. You need the media and
politicians should educate the public about the pros and cons, what -- so
they can make informed decisions, and not be driven just by scare tactics
or sensationalism.

HARRIS-PERRY: And in terms of making informed decisions, let`s listen
to the information we`re going to get on "Weekend with Alex Witt." Hi,

ALEX WITT, MSNBC ANCHOR: Hello to you. Let`s get to all this.

It has been certainly a historic week weather wise, with remarkable
heat and drought across parts of this country. How bad has it been? We`re
going to break it down by the numbers, and some of this is going to blow
you away.

Mitt Romney will give a speech to the annual NAACP convention this
week. We`re going to talk with one of the leaders of the NAACP about what
the group`s expectations are for that speech. And tomorrow, a court fight
begins over voting rights in Texas that might have national impact. It
puts the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to its toughest test. And we`re going
to examine what could happen.

Plus, the story of Olympic proportions, one woman`s tough fight to
make it to the London Games of 2012. I`ll talk to her about here gold
medal dreams and how she got them. Pretty exciting stuff here. Back to

HARRIS-PERRY: Thanks, Alex. And don`t go away, because coming up is
the professor, Melissa Harris-Perry and Nerdland producer`s summer reading


HARRIS-PERRY: Summer is the season of books. So, for today`s
"Footnote", MHP summer reading list. These are some of the things that we
have talked about so far this year.

Alexander Field, "A Great Leap Forward: 1930s Depression and U.S.
Economic Growth." It offers a surprising argument that American productive
capacity actually grew during the depression and laid the foundation for
post-war expansion.

Also, catch-up on the long history of progressive political action,
with Michael Kazin`s "American Dreamers: How the Left Changed America."

But let`s be fair. There are also some great conservative reads out
there right now. My favorite at the moment is, "America Lite: How Imperial
Academia Dismantled Our Culture and Ushered in the Obamacrats." That title
just kind of says it all, doesn`t it?

Later this summer, Mitt Romney is going to choose a running mate. And
if you think V.P. picks just aren`t interesting, you`ve got to read "The
Eighteen-Day Running Mate: McGovern, Eagleton and the Campaign in Crisis."
This is a story of an epic political fail. It`s fascinating.

Did you love our black hair segment and want to read more? We
recommend "Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America."

Remember, our first ladies discussion? Read about the most beloved
one in Hazel Rowley`s "Franklin and Eleanor: an Extraordinary Marriage."

Nerdland producers also had some favorite picks. Kevin Smith`s "Tough
Sh*t.: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good." It`s actually
surprisingly fun, motivational, entrepreneurial read.

Need more inspiration, especially for this sporting summer? Read
"Road to Valor", the story of cyclist and Tour de France winner and about
how he secretly aided the Italian Resistance to save Jews during World War

Also, Baratunde Thurston`s "How to be Black" has caused plenty of
hilarity here in Nerdland, while Isabel Wilkerson`s "Warmth of Other Suns"
and Tayari Jones` "Leaving Atlanta" have evoked many tears.

Just for fun, we are reading Sadie Jones` "The Uninvited Guest." I`m
not going to tell you which one of us is addicted to the young adult
"Delirium" series.

But, after all, when Maurice Sendak passed away, we made an argument
for the importance of children`s fiction. "Zeke Pippin," the young pig
with a magical harmonica, the dragon slaying "Paper Bag princess," and the
life-affirming "It`s OK to be Different" are all Nerdland faves.

Then there is Lloyd Alexander`s "The First Two Lives of Lukas-Kasha,"
a book that one Nerdland producer remarked, quote, "It made me believe
storytelling is the world`s greatest profession."

Books change lives. Read one today. And go to our blog at and give us your summer reading suggestions.

And that is our show for today. Thank you to Congresswoman Barbara
Lee, Governor Ed Rendell, Anthea Butler and Ari Melber for sticking around.
Thanks to you home for watching. We`re going to see you next Saturday, 10
a.m. Eastern. Coming up, "WEEKEND WITH ALEX WITT."


<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2012 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2012 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>


Sponsored links

Resource guide