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PoliticsNation, Friday, July 27, 2012

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Guests: Erin McPike, Melissa Harris-Perry, E.J. Dionne, Chuck Nice, Chrystia Freeland

"Politics Nation." I`m Al Sharpton.

Tonight`s lead, the man with the golden gaffe. Mitt Romney spent the
last 24 hours in London trying to repair the damage to his campaign after
suggesting the British weren`t ready for the Olympics.


couple of days it looks like London is ready.

These games, great weather. Enthusiasm on the part of the people here
in London. I think you`re going to see terrific games.

I`m very delighted with the prospects of a highly successful Olympic


SHARPTON: Romney is delighted by the games. He thinks London is
ready. Really he does. But the British press isn`t buying it "The Daily
Mail" said quote, "Romney completes humiliating u-turn in new charm
offensive after Olympic gaffe." And BBC is wondering if Romney`s London
woes will hurt him at home. And "The Sun" says simply Mitt the twit. And
on British TV, the coverage, well it`s just been brutal.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To show the American people that he`s ready to
be commander in chief, but he became blunderer in chief.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mitt Romney has turned on the charm during his
visit to Britain by questioning the country`s ability to host the Olympic

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the message that we wanted to get out from
this trip has been obscure --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he`s here to make friends, he`s got a funny way
of showing it.


SHARPTON: And the British politicians have been piling on.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who`s it going to be? Mitt Romney?


HUGH ROBERTSON, OLYMPIC MINISTER: Certainly not after today.

games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities in the world.
And of course, it`s easier if you hold an Olympic games in the middle of

BORIS JOHNSON, LONDON MAYOR: There`s a guy called Mitt Romney who
wants to know whether we`re ready. Are we ready? Yes, we are!


SHARPTON: Wow. Getting called out in front of 60,000 people, that`s
got to hurt.

Back here at home, Republicans have been forced to admit things
haven`t gone so well for Romney across the pond.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He got stuck making a comment that the Brits took
as an insult. And he walked it back pretty quickly, and walked it back
immediately but nonetheless the damage was done.

that question is unbelievable. It`s beyond human understanding. I`m out
of adjectives. All the man has to do is say nothing.


SHARPTON: Republicans just wanted Romney to say nothing. Well, he`s
been really good at that so far. He said nothing about his tax returns.
He said nothing about his actual policies. He said nothing about what he
would do as president. Yet he goes to England and promptly insults the
country. And it`s not the first time.

In his 2010 book "No Apology" Romney said quote, "England is just a
small island. Its roads and houses are small with few exceptions. It
doesn`t make things that people in the rest of the world want to buy."

Apparently the people of Britain aren`t buying what Romney`s selling.
We`ll see in November if the American people feel the same way.

Joining me now is Krystal Ball and Toure, co-host of "the Cycle."

Thank you both, for joining me.

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: Thanks for having us.


SHARPTON: Krystal, nice having you on the show. We had TurrayToure.

TOURE: Don`t worry about Toure. It`s Krystal time.

BALL: It`s an honor.

SHARPTON: But, let me ask you. What have you learned from Romney`s
European vacation so far?

BALL: Well, I have to say, he did exceed even my expectations on this
trip. I figured there would be something that came out of the
international trip that we could classify as a gaffe. I didn`t think it
would happen so quickly and I didn`t think he would so successfully insult
an entire nation. So really the speed and the depth and the breadth of the
gaffe was really pretty impressive and edifying for me.

SHARPTON: I mean, you couldn`t make this up, Toure. I mean, for a
guy in less than 48 hours being gone to offend everybody in the country.

TOURE: I mean, it takes nothing to go to England on the eve of the
Olympics and say good job. I did this. Oh, wait. Look at me. I did
this. You guys are doing great. The best analogy that I read today, who
was it talking about it`s like a sprint? All you have to do is run
straight ahead and win the race, right? That`s the diplomatic challenge
going to England on the eve of the Olympics. Instead of running straight
ahead, he tackles the guy next to him. And really, this qualify - I mean,
this is a dream trip for the Obama people.


Well, when you look at the quotes from tweets at the Romney shambles
hash tag, it says Romney retroactively cancels visit to London. This is
what happens when you send Mitt Romney to a place where the trees aren`t
the right height. Mitt has proven that only his money is fit to leave the
U.S. I like the last one.

TOURE: This is what he proved. That he has poor people skills. He
doesn`t know how to interact with people. He is not a retail powerful guy.

SHARPTON: Corporations of people.

TOURE: Well, yes. He knows how to relate to corporations, right?
But the American people and just human beings can see when a person doesn`t
relate to people. They can pick up on that very, very quickly.

SHARPTON: I think in all seriousness, though, that he responded as a
CEO. I think he went right to his CEO thing of this is how I ran the
Olympics in his own mind. And he started critiquing it in comparison.

BALL: Right.

SHARPTON: Because that`s how he thinks. He doesn`t think like a
diplomat or a commander in chief or president or politician. He thinks as
a businessman. So let me give you my appraisal of the security as a
volunteer. That`s where he went.

BALL: I think you`re exactly right. I think he was given the
question and there was a sense that he wanted to get an "A" on the answer
and show he prepped and he knew what was going on. And he`s an Olympic
insider and he`s got inside knowledge like a CEO just like you`re saying.

And in doing that had no sense of the impact it would have on people,
the way they would respond. I mean, just imagine if someone from another
country came here and insulted our preparation for the Olympics. If they
did that in Salt Lake City, I`m sure he wouldn`t have liked it very much.
But that doesn`t occur to him.

TOURE: This is not the first time we`ve seen him insult his host,
right? With the woman who made cookies. And he said oh these are from 7-
eleven. That`s insulting her. Does it really matter to know?

SHARPTON: The woman who made the homemade cookies.


SHARPTON: But he`s trying to turn the page because he`s on his way to
Poland and Israel. And let me show you where he`s going.

He says in an interview with an Israeli newspaper supporting Bush`s
freedom agenda foreign policy. This is Romney, quote, "President Bush
urged Hosni Mubarak to move toward a more democratic posture. But
President Obama abandoned the freedom agenda." So he`s trying to turn the
page and get back on policy and try to get another headline going hard at
President Obama.

BALL: You know, I found that a very unusual thing to say and a very
unusual way to turn the page. Because one of the knocks on Romney`s
foreign policy beside being vague and undefined, as he has brought on all
these former Bush advisors, all these neo-cons and that he`s basically --
his foreign policy is going to be Bush take two. That`s been a criticism
of his. And it seems in this quote he`s embracing the idea that his
foreign policy just as his economic policy is really no different than
George W. Bush.

SHARPTON: No. They were avoiding Bush, but now he`s embracing Bush.
But I guess when you get in trouble in England you have to do what you have
to do.

BALL: It`s better than insulting an entire nation.

SHARPTON: Toure, I think you can understand this. Because I really
think the best advice came from E.J. Dionne. He wrote in his column that
the next phase of Romney`s foreign trip, he says sure he may get better
press on the latter parts of the trip -- later parts of the trip. Perhaps
he`ll score some political points in Poland and Israel. But on the whole
and this is what I agree, I think Romney will want to stay away from
foreign policy. The more we talk about it, the better Obama will do.

One of the first laws of politics is the thing that your opponent is
strong in, keep it off the table.

TOURE: It`s absolutely right in try to turn it into a weakness. But
you can`t turn Obama`s foreign policy into a weakness. This is the first
time in a very long time that I can remember that a Democrat is super
strong on foreign policy. That`s something he can hold up as a trophy.
This I did extremely well. So Romney stuck with it. Let`s keep it about
jobs and economy. If you want to talk about bin Laden, Libya, the Somali
pirates. I`m good with foreign policy.

SHARPTON: And the polls agree with him, Krystal.

BALL: Right.

SHARPTON: President Obama, 47 percent say he`s handing it better as
opposed to 32 percent for Mitt Romney.

BALL: Right.

SHARPTON: It`s not the thing you want to bring up if you`re losing in
that area by that margin.

BALL: That`s exactly right. And I think Karl Rove used to have this
idea of you attack your opponent on their strength. But that only works if
you can do it successfully. And I think that was part of the goal of the
trip and the other goal of the trip was to sort of travel the world and
look presidential so the American people could imagine you as our leader as
commander in chief. And I think he`s undermined those goals.


SHARPTON: Well, I think that nothing else though, he has show that he
can bring some comic relief to the campaign.

BALL: Great point.


SHARPTON: Toure and Krystal Ball. Thank you so much for your time.
Enjoy your weekend.

BALL: Thank you.

TOURE: Thank you.

SHARPTON: And be sure to catch "the Cycle" week days at 3:00 p.m.
Eastern, right here on MSNBC.

Coming up, Congressman Eric Cantor slams Michele Bachmann for
promoting wild conspiracy theories. Who am I kidding, he`s cheering her

Plus, Mr. Romney`s accomplished something no presidential challenger
has done in 20 years. Here`s a hint, it has to do with like about.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pro, he`s not Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, or Rick
Santorum. Con, he`s Mitt Romney.


SHARPTON: Also, Washington`s gone to the dogs and so has this thief.
This he heard of a dog - hasn`t he heard of the doggie bag?

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.


SHARPTON: The number two Republican in the house says the witch hunt
against Muslims in the government is just fine by him. It`s amazing, but
what is Eric Cantor really up to? Stay with us.


SHARPTON: As we`ve been reporting, the British media is having a lot
of fun at Mitt Romney`s expense. But the problems across the pond point to
a much bigger issue for him here at home. Likability. Who would voters
rather have a drink of beer with? The simple stuff that can win and lose

For Romney the latest news is not good. The new NBC polls show 40
percent of voters have negative feelings about Romney. Outweighing 35
percent with positive feelings. Among undecided voters, it`s even worse.
Romney`s favorability is 1just 6 percent compared to 44 percent

Now, to put this in perspective, you`d have to go back 20 years to
find a non-incumbent candidate with such bad numbers. The summer before
the election. In June 1992, Bill Clinton`s negatives were eight points
lower than his positives. Mitt Romney in 2012 is a little better, but not

Yes, Clinton was able to turn it around by Election Day. But let`s
face it. Mitt Romney is not Bill Clinton. Romney`s been running for
president for six years. But he thinks the real story about him hasn`t
been told yet. His wife likes him.


ANN ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY`S WIFE: I`ll work as hard as I can on the
likability piece.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: He seems a perfectly likable gentleman.
I don`t understand it.

ANN ROMNEY: We`ll get over that one.


SHARPTON: Joining me now is former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell,
now an MSNBC news political analyst and Erin McPike reporter for "Real
Clear Politics."

Thank you both for coming on the show tonight.



SHARPTON: Governor, let me start with you. How worried should Romney
and his campaign be about this likability factor? At which point does it
become too late to change poplar opinion?

RENDELL: Well, it`s not too late yet. But it`s getting there. And
he should be very worried. George Bush beat Al Gore. He didn`t win in the
popular vote but was able to win the electoral college in great part not
because the American people thought he was more competent to be president
than Al Gore, but they thought he was more likable. And sometimes the
American people, Al, they think well, I`m going to live with the president,
president`s going to be part of my life virtually every day. I`m going to
see him on TV, et cetera. Who do I want that person to be? And that`s
President Obama`s long suit. People like him. They think he`s a good guy.
They think he`s trying hard. Unless Governor Romney can turn that around,
I don`t think the tough issues of the economy can overcome it.

SHARPTON: Now, Erin, political analyst Charlie Cook, he wrote in the
national journal these words. Although the economy has gotten demonstrably
worse since the start of the year, since the start of 2012, Romney has made
considerably less progress than one might have guessed. What seems to be
holding Romney back are voters` personal feelings toward him which are more
negative than those faced by any of the past six non-incumbent nominees.
That`s a very strong statement there, Erin.

MCPIKE: It is. But part of it is by design by the Romney campaign.
You hear the strategy coming from Mitt Romney`s mouth himself in many
interviews that he does. They don`t expect that voters will pay attention
to this election until after labor day. And there is an opening for him to
introduce himself in a broader way to the electorate, give sweeping
speeches like at the convention and have a big 60-second biographical TV

It is something we talk about in the inside baseball arena of
politics, but it`s important. He introduces him to the swing states and
many voters in a bigger, broader way. And so, he can turn this around and
clean it up and he probably will try to do that after labor day.

SHARPTON: But does -- labor day, let`s go back to what you were
saying Governor Rendell. Does a labor day strategy makes sense? Is that
too late? You said it`s getting late. It is not too late yet. It`s
getting there. Can he continue with like gaffes he`s making, can he just
play this out until labor day given the climate that he`s creating for

RENDELL: I don`t think so, Reverend. Let me tell you why. None of
these gaffes individually is a game changer. What he did today insulting
the British he did yesterday, that in itself is not a game changer. But
it`s cumulative. People are beginning to believe he has two fists. He
can`t handle himself. He`s not someone we want to be the American
president because he keeps making these gaffes.

So, if you get that reputation and it becomes accumulative and it`s
there day after day after day, eventually it comes too late and people are
going to say well, the debates and the convention speeches, those are
structured. And it`s OK. Maybe he performs well on that. But when he`s
out there on his own, he`s just not qualified to be president.

So it`s coming to the point, I don`t think they`ve reached it yet. I
think Erin`s right. But if this continues on through most of the summer,
I`m not sure he can recover after labor day. Remember, politics has
changed. There`s more emphasis because of the 24/7 news cycle on it than
there has been before. If that reputation takes hold, it`s pretty hard to
dig out.

SHARPTON: Now Erin, when you also bring in the fact that many people
are asking about his transparency in terms of his finances, his taxes. In
fact, on the same new NBC/ "Wall Street Journal" poll when questioned about
the effective reports on Mitt Romney`s tax returns, 32 percent more
negative opinion, four percent more positive opinion. So if you add these
factors, he`s going to have a lot to turn around.

MCPIKE: He is. But once again the calculation is that come labor
day, people aren`t going to be talking about this. That is their
calculation. Whether it works or not, it`s hard to tell. But, you know,
that`s what they say. You have to take the Romney campaign at their word.
This is their strategy. We`ll see.

SHARPTON: Now, governor let me ask this. Debates. How important are
the debates, and can he use the debates to help turn things around even
though many feel President Obama is an excellent debater and frankly I
didn`t see that much in the debates in the primaries from Romney that would
make me think that he`s got some surprise in store. But I could be wrong.

RENDELL: Well, I thought he performed pretty well in the debates and
primaries, Reverend. I thought he won 16 out of the 17 Republican debates.
I thought the only one he did poorly in was South Carolina. And they`re
good forms for him. It`s structured. He`s disciplined. He`s taught that
two-minute or the 90 second responses and he pretty much sticks to it. And
he speaks with conviction and looks pretty good.

So yes. I think he`ll also have going for him that expectation game.
Everyone know what a great debater President Obama is. So the expectation
is that he`s going to clean the floor with Mitt Romney. If Romney hangs in
there, I think it will be a bit of a positive.

Again, I think the debates are positive. They`re very important. Can
they turn around an image of a guy when he`s on his own is extemporaneously
is a doofus, I`m not sure. I`m not sure. It is getting close to the point
of no return. And if that`s their strategy, Erin, I`m not sure they can
overcome it. If August is anything like July, I think it might be too

SHARPTON: Well, we`ll see. I wasn`t impressed with his debate
performances, but we`ll see.

Governor Rendell, Erin McPike, thank you for joining me tonight. And
have a great weekend.

MCPIKE: You too.

RENDELL: You too, Rev.

SHARPTON: Ahead, is the Cantor-Boehner relationship on the rocks?
And is Michele Bachmann to blame? I`ll explain.

Plus, a Florida Republican party chair says his party actively tried
to suppress the black vote. That explosive story is next.


SHARPTON: We have breaking news tonight on voting rights. New
revelations, shocking revelations from a top Republican admitting the
Republican efforts to suppress black votes.

Jim Greer chaired the Florida Republican party from 2006 to 2010. In
a newly released deposition reported by the Tampa bay times, Greer talked
about GOP leaders meeting to discuss ways they could suppress black votes.
He describes a December 2009 meeting quote, "I was upset because the
political consultants and staff were talking about voter suppression and
keeping blacks from voting. It had been one of those days." End of quote.

Fellow Republicans including the consultants that Greer mentioned are
denying his claim. I should note that Jim Greer is facing criminal charges
for allegedly paying himself to raise money for the Republican party. But
his accusations are especially damning after the new voter laws in Florida.

And this year`s GOP voter purge there with l 87 percent of the voters
targeted were minority. This is a disturbing story with national
implications. And we`re going to don`t investigate it on this show Monday.


SHARPTON: We`re back on POLITICS NATION with a major development
today. A split in the Republican Party on an issue getting international
attention. Michele Bachmann`s been at the center of controversy for two
weeks after she and four other House Republicans accuse Muslim-Americans
tied to the U.S. government of trying to spread Muslim brotherhood beliefs.
Both sides of the aisle have come out against her including prominent
Republicans like Speaker Boehner. But today the house majority leader, the
number two republican, refused to join them.

CHARLIE ROSE, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: Do you think Congresswoman Bachmann
was out of line?


ROSE: I mean, it does not square with this.

CANTOR: Well, again, I think that if you read some of the reports
that have covered this story, I think that her concern was about the
security of the country.


SHARPTON: Security of the country. Folks, this is big. He`s
refusing to denounce the fear mongering. This is how Speaker Boehner put


like this being thrown around are pretty dangerous.


SHARPTON: The top two House Republicans are clearly divided. And it
could have major impact on the direction of the party.

Joining me now is Melissa Harris-Perry, host of "Melissa Harris-Perry"
show. And E.J. Dionne, columnist for the Washington Post and an MSNBC
contributor. First of all, thanks to both of you for being here.

E.J. DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST: Thank you. Good to be here.

SHARPTON: Now, Melissa, let me start with you. It looks like Boehner
and Cantor are not on the same page with this. How do you think this is
going to play out?

interestingly enough, I think Boehner and Cantor often not on the same
page. I mean, even if you go to the debt ceiling crisis, Boehner for all
of his flaws, for all of his right wing conservatism, for all these things,
he`s been an insider in Washington, in Congress.

He understands what it takes to actually pass legislation. Even if it
was legislation which I would generally disagree. Cantor and the other
hand, on the other Tea Party folks who are there, they`re really there just
to stop any government from happening. And you see that in that moment
when Cantor is asked. You know, come on, aren`t you going to denounce what
even other folks in your party see as clearly dangerous discourse fear
mongering. And he`s like, no, no. Because their base is so tiny, so small
to which they are playing.

SHARPTON: But E.J., the reason why I`m saying this is possibly a
split and could be big is just last week, Eric Cantor gave an interview to
buzz feed and said this. I`m quoting what he said. It is absolutely wrong
to stereotype or look badly at anyone because of their religion. It`s a
bad thing to look at a Muslim and think bad things.

Again, we`re all Americans here and we share beliefs in freedom and
the ability to practice our faiths. Now, how do you square that up against
what he said this morning where he refused to really denounce Michele
Bachmann and the others and really said their concern was national security
when in fact they did exactly what he said in his interview with buzz feed
that they ought not do.

DIONNE: Well, I would like the Eric Cantor who gave the interview
with buzz feed to have a conversation with the Eric Cantor who gave the
interview this morning. Because it was good that he said those things to
buzz feed. And I got to say, I disagree with Eric Cantor on a lot of
things, but I was really surprised that he went that route today. Because,
yes, as Melissa said, there`s a lot of politics inside that republican
conference and there have been rivalry -- there`s been a rivalry people
talked about between John Boehner and Eric Cantor. But this is not one he
should play games on.

I mean, when, you know, at the center of this was Huma Abedin, the
longtime aide to Hillary Clinton. And John McCain bless him and said, what
he needed to be said. He said, it was an unwarranted and unfounded attack
on an honorable woman, a dedicated American and a loyal public servant.


DIONNE: And these attacks, I mean, we should put ourselves in other
people`s shoes. I mean, I am a Catholic. Does that mean that I couldn`t
have served in the State Department when there was a fight between
Catholics and Protestants? And I`m white. Does that mean I couldn`t
advise our country when the part time was in South Africa? My ancestors
come from Quebec.


DIONNE: Does that mean I couldn`t advise on Canadian policy. I mean,
we`re Americans and we have to --

SHARPTON: No, but I think it`s even deeper than that, Melissa. And I
agree with E.J., but I would say, it`s deeper than that. Because they`re
not just saying because they are Muslim, they shouldn`t abide. They`re
accusing them of being connected to the Muslim brotherhood.

PERRY: Absolutely. And so, two things. One, the Eric cantor that
said to buzz feed, we shouldn`t judge someone negatively because of their
religion was the Eric Cantor not of freedom and civil liberties and
American conservativism which is all it`s been. Sort of small state, it
was the Eric Cantor who knew that he had a Mormon candidate running for
president of the United States.

When Eric Cantor says, we should look at people and not judge them
because of their religion, he`s saying to his evangelical base, don`t judge
Mitt Romney because he is a man of faith within the latter day -- the
church of latter day saints. But when he says, it`s OK to think this about
this woman and about other Muslim-Americans within our government system,
he`s saying this isn`t about religion, it`s about identity.

SHARPTON: But isn`t it also fair to say it also may be about his
fight with Boehner? Because in the statement, he also says that it`s all
right -- it is wrong for us to look at Muslims and think bad things. So he
went beyond where you would go if he was just covering Romney. He actually
preached we can`t look at Muslims and think bad. But then the next week,
he flips. So was it that he was really taking a shot at Boehner and them
more than he was really protecting Romney the week before?

PERRY: Quite possibly all those things. I mean, that`s what makes
GOP politics at this moment fascinating. Because I think they`re more
divided than we typically give them credit for.

SHARPTON: Now, E.J., the right wing commentators are running with
this story. And they are really using it to scare members in their own
party. Let me show you this.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Michele Bachmann`s under heavy fire right now. And
by the way, it`s ticking me off. Attacking Michele Bachmann and three
other House Republicans and Louie Gohmert who called for an investigation
into radical Islamic infiltration potentially in the Obama administration.
And they`re starting to look like modern-day Paul reveres in one sense
based on the new evidence that we`re getting.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I warn you, if you do not take the Muslim
brotherhood seriously and help people like Michele Bachmann stand in this
battle, they will pick them off one at a time.


SHARPTON: Now, E.J., Hannity`s getting ticked off. And you got a
warning from Glenn Beck. If you`re a republican member of Congress, that`s

DIONNE: Well, notice how insidious this is. The link to the Muslim
brotherhood is assumed. There is no link to the Muslim brotherhood.


DIONNE: I mean, it`s not Paul Revere. It`s McCarthy. And going back
to the Joe McCarthy period, it is worth remembering that there were --

SHARPTON: Joe McCarthy. Not Paul McCarthy. Joe McCarthy -- well, go

DIONNE: Not Paul and not Gene, Joe. You know, and when McCarthy was
making wild charges about this or that person being a communist when they
weren`t, a lot of honorable Republicans stood up. And I think McCain and
Boehner are in that tradition. And again, it`s hard other than internal
republican politics to explain why Cantor would not want to be on that side
of this question.

SHARPTON: Yes. Melissa Harris-Perry and E.J. Dionne, thanks for your
time tonight. And be sure to catch Melissa filling in for Rachel Maddow
tonight 9:00 p.m. right here on MSNBC.

Coming up, late night comedians are thanking Willard Romney for all
the material. But can punch lines have a real impact on campaigns?

And remember the smoking two-year-old baby? Well, he`s got some
competition now. You won`t believe who picked up the habit. Your summer
break is up next.


SHARPTON: We`re back with a pause from the political battles of the
day. A time to relax, to rest, relax and recharge. That`s right. It`s
time for the POLITICS NATION summer break. We start tonight with a little
POLITICS NATION traffic report from Dubai. When everything looks to be
moving smoothly, wait a second. What`s that camel merging into the HOV
lane? And would you look at that? His taillight is out.

Meanwhile, in Ukraine, they`re working with a little more horse power.
No, no. Don`t adjust your television sets. This is the back end of a car
being led by a horse. Folks, this is what it might look like if Willard
Romney let Detroit go bankrupt.

And back here in the states, things have gone to the dogs. Take a
look at kid stealing a puppy by shoving it down his pants. Investigators
are asking a lot of questions. Including this one.




SHARPTON: And just when I thought I`d seen it all, there`s an
Indonesian orangutan smoking a cigarette. Torry picked up the habit after
zoo goers started throwing butts into her cage. Now the zoo is forced to
give the orangutan some cold turkey. But it`s not all bad news, he`s being
helped through this trying times by fellow countrymen. The Indonesian two-
year-old that recently broke his four pack a day habit. That`s today`s
summer break.


SHARPTON: We`re back with more of the fallout from Willard Romney`s
European adventure. The late night comedians are having all kinds of fun
at his expense. But sometimes punch lines can have a very real impact on
campaigns. Just ask Mitt Romney about his gold medal gaffe.


STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: America`s crowned prince of running for
president Mitt Romney. He`s on the first leg of his world charm offensive.

DAVID LETTERMAN, COMEDIAN: And while he`s in these foreign countries
plans to visit his money.

JIMMY FALLON, COMEDIAN: He will attend the Olympics opening
ceremony. It`s going to be weird when they`re announcing all the
countries, and he`s like, got one bank there, got one there, two banks
account there.

LETTERMAN: He plans to take his tax returns and drop them into the

COLBERT: Mitt really grabbed England by the crumpets.

JAY LENO, COMEDIAN: Romney annoyed the British by saying that London
seem unprepared for the Olympics. You know, putting his foot in his mouth
like that is not very presidential. Vice presidential, sure. Yes, but not


SHARPTON: Joining me now is comedian and TV personality Chuck Nice
and you know him from shows like "Best Week Ever." And Chrystia Freeland,
editor of Thomson Reuters Digital. Great to have both of you with us.

CHUCK NICE, COMEDIAN: Good to be here.

SHARPTON: Chuck, let me start with you.


SHARPTON: So, comedians really owe Willard Romney a big thank you

NICE: A huge debt of gratitude. And I`ve just got to say that it`s
so nice. On the one hand, I am supporting Barack Obama, let me just say
that because I`d love to see the country move forward. On the other hand,
I feel like I`m a double agent because I would love to see Mitt Romney be
President because he`s great for my business. You know, that`s all -- you
don`t even have to write jokes, you just have to report, you know.

SHARPTON: Now, he`s quite -- Chrystia, I mean, he`s just quite
unbelievably set for comedians. I mean, you couldn`t have gotten a better
candidate for the comedy business, I would suppose.

British politicians look like comedians now. You know, Boris Johnson, the
very entertaining mayor of London is just now making joke after joke based
on Romney`s comments in England.

SHARPTON: Now, do you think that the fact that these jokes are
continuing that it will make him look less presidential and less serious?

FREELAND: Yes, I think it`s a real problem, actually. You know, and
I think particularly because I think the danger for Mitt Romney is that he
gets pegged as someone who is just uncomfortable in his own skin. Someone
who is gaffe prone. Someone who can`t handle himself in the world because
he`s too stiff. You know, it`s sort of the John Terry situation. And that
can have a really powerful effect on the polls.

SHARPTON: How does he turn it around? Is there a way he can make
himself less of a target for this?

NICE: Yes, absolutely. What the Republican National Convention has
to do is come up with a serum that they can give him like they gave to the
nutty professor to turn him into buddy love. Because that`s really the
only thing that`s going to help him. He can`t -- the problem is he`s
unaware. Like George Bush made gaffes, but you could see him make a gaffe
and like, I can`t believe I said that. Like, he was aware.

SHARPTON: Sort of laugh along with you.

NICE: He sort of laugh along, like, you know, fool me once, shame on
you. Fool me twice, shame on you. Hey, we won`t get fooled again.


NICE: Like, you know -- and he kind of knew what he was doing.
Whereas Romney is completely unaware. My favorite clip you guys just
played is where he`s with these young African-American women and, you know,
he`s so uncomfortable, who let the dogs out. Like, that`s his
identification with black people?


NICE: Who let the dogs out? Seriously? How about, he may as well
said, hey, you guys got any chicken? Like, you know, that`s how
uncomfortable he is.

SHARPTON: Let me play another sound bite of how he`s a favorite
target of late night comedians. Let me play this for you. Because I just
want to give you an idea of how bad it is, I think. And then I want to
play the tape of President Obama because he`s not completely off the hook
either. They are taking a couple shots at him. Let me play both of them.


LETTERMAN: Mitt Romney is saying that President Obama is not keeping
his campaign promises. But I thought well wait a minute. Maybe he`s got a
point. We found some videotape that may be pretty damning on this front.
Roll the videotape.

ANNOUNCER: During the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama made the following

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: I`ll find money in the budget
to buy Letterman a decent hairpiece.

ANNOUNCER: Shame on you, Mr. President.

ROMNEY: I`m Mitt Romney and I approved this message.


SHARPTON: Well we don`t have much on President Obama, unfortunately
for Romney. But we have plenty on Romney. But again, I think most of us
feel that Romney is just more of an easy shot, if I would say it,

NICE: Yes. Well, the thing.

SHARPTON: Or for comedians.

NICE: Of for comedians. Definitely. Obama when you make fun of him,
the thing is that inherent in making fun of him, you still have to
acknowledge that he`s cool. Like, he wears mom jeans but he walks around
like he`s wearing Prada. You know what I mean. So, he`s still comes -- he
sings to a crowd and they slammed him for that. But when you see him
singing to the crowd and the women are screaming, you`re like, that`s kind
of cool.

FREELAND: You can come across as authentic without being cool. I
mean, Chris Christie is someone who, I would say is the opposite of cool
but comes across as an incredibly likable, authentic politician. I think a
problem for Romney is in some ways the flip side of his virtue. He has
been incredibly disciplined and in some ways, incredibly on message. Think
about how he ran that primary campaign. Actually really admirable from the
point of view of pure political mechanics. But I think it makes you really
uneasy about, sort of -- he`s afraid of exposing himself.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you before we have to go. When you watch
Romney, are you thinking while you`re watching him of what joke I could

NICE: I don`t have to think of what joke I could tell. He writes
them for me right there on the spot. I mean, you know, this is a guy who
honestly when he says things you`re like what? When he becomes president,
the only person that could relate to him is somebody with a top hat and a
monocle. Like, that`s the way he comes off. You don`t have to sit there
and think of jokes or you have to do is say, OK, I`m going to write that
one down because that was good.

SHARPTON: Well, let me thank both of you. And Chrystia, I did not
know you were wearing orange when I did my orangutan joke on the orangutan.
I was trying to -- so it wasn`t you.

FREELAND: I shouldn`t be insulted?

SHARPTON: At all. I want you to come back again. Thank you both for
joining us. Have a nice weekend.

NICE: Thank you.

SHARPTON: And Chuck. Still ahead, the first lady, SpongeBob, Square
Pants and best wishes to all our athletes at the Olympic games. Stay with


SHARPTON: Tonight, the eyes of the world are on London where athletes
from across the globe are gathering for the opening of the 2012 Olympics.
First Lady Michelle Obama is there trying to loosen up competitors before
the big games. And cheering them on as well. She had some fun with
SpongeBob at a morning event with kids in London. And a few minutes
earlier, the first lady gave team USA some pep talk.


time, how much time you will put in to being who you are. And it is no
small feat at all. But this only happens every few many years. So, try to
have fun. Try to breathe a little bit. But also win, right? In the end
winning is good.


SHARPTON: This year 538 U.S. athletes are competing in the games.
Some are already superstars like Michael Phelps or Ryan Lochte, and
gymnasts, Gabby Douglas, Jordan Weber, and Danell Leyva. All hoping to
lead American teams to gold. But of course all of these athletes are
already winners. But many like Bronx, New York native John Orozco have
overcome enormous obstacles to make it all the way to London.


JOHN OROZCO, U.S. OLYMPIC GYMNAST: A lot of people try to take the
thing you love and turn it into something they use to break you down. But
I said to myself, you know, if they can throw all the negativity they want
at me. I don`t love them. I love my sport.


SHARPTON: And Marlen Esparza is punching through the glass ceiling to
compete in women`s boxing, an official Olympic sport for the first time.


MARLEN ESPARZA, U.S. OLYMPIC BOXING: Amateur boxing isn`t about
beating somebody up. It`s about being quicker and about being smarter.
And, you know, using trickery and being really intuitive. It`s not about
like smashing somebody`s face in. You can be a beast like when you`re
inside the ring and you step out and be just as pretty as the next girl.


SHARPTON: And we`ll all be rooting for swimmer Eric Chanto, a cancer
survivor who returns to the 2012 Olympics after his 2008 diagnosis. I
learned from an athlete, a boxer many years ago that you don`t win the
fight in the ring. I was in the jogging and one morning he was training, I
said why do you run and run and run even when you`re already in top shape?
He said, you don`t win the fight Reverend in the ring. You win it
preparing. You win it in leading up to it. These competitors are already
champions in my book. They won it getting to London. I think just getting
a gold or something there, only gives them a commendation for the effort.

Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.


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