updated 8/13/2012 2:58:08 PM ET 2012-08-13T18:58:08

Guests: Karen Finney; E.J. Dionne, Bob Shrum; Cynthia Tucker, Jonathan Capehart, Victoria DeFrancesco-
Soto, Melissa Harris-Perry


REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST, POLITICS NATION: Welcome to
"Politics Nation." I`m Al Sharpton.

Tonight`s lead, the GOP`s plan to take down the president, one of the
great mysteries of President Obama`s time in office has been the outright
refusal of the GOP to work with him on anything. He was elected on the
promise that he would bring Washington together. He`d built his political
career by working with both sides. But Republicans have fought him tooth
and nail. Why, because they had other priorities.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: Our top political
priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second
term.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That has been the GOP`s top political priority from day
one. And now a new book sheds light on how far Republicans would go just
to see this president fail.

In it, vice president Biden is On the Record saying that the GOP
agreed not to work with President Obama. He says quote, "I spoke to seven
different Republican senators who said, Joe, I`m not going to be able to
help you on anything." Biden goes on to say "the way it was characterized
to me was for the next two years, we can`t let you succeed in anything.
That`s our ticket to the coming back." End of quote.

You heard it, folks. Obstruction was their ticket. Former senators
Bob Bennett and Arlen Specter confirm having this conversation with the
vice president. And another Republican even talks about the marching
orders he was given by senator McConnell saying quote, "if President Obama
was for it, we had to be against it. And he -- all he cared about was
making sure Obama could never have a clean victory."

Could never have a clean victory, while the country was hurting and
Americans needed jobs. That`s appalling. That`s disgusting. And that`s
what this president has been up against.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They`ve said no to just
about every idea I`ve proposed, every policy I proposed. Even ideas they
traditionally agreed with. I`m not exaggerating. I mean, we had
situations where they would sponsor bills, I`d say OK, and then, they`d
say, oh, if you`re OK with it, we must be against it. It happened a bunch
of times.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It is true. This plan to work against the president has
been in motion from day one. On the very day he was sworn in, the GOP plot
was hatched. While the president was at the inaugural ball, major
Republican Party members met at a swanky D.C. restaurant less than a mile
away. And they agreed to quote, "show united and unyielding opposition to
the president`s economic policies.

Former speaker Newt Gingrich even admitted that. He attended that
meeting when interviewed him back in June.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The night of the inauguration, there was a meeting at a
hotel near the inaugural ball. About a mile away in which that night there
was a group of Republicans, you among them, that was committed to the
defeat of President Obama. You told the group, you Newt Gingrich, you will
remember this day. You will remember this day the seeds of 2012 were sown.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was an
important meeting. And I was glad and honored to be part of it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Honored to be part of it. There`s no honor in putting this
country`s recovery at stake. There`s no honor in that at all.

Joining me now is E.J. Dionne, columnist for the Washington Post and
an MSNBC contributor and Karen Finney, MSNBC political analyst and former
communications director for the Democratic National Committee.

Thanks to both of you for coming on the show tonight.

E.J. DIONNE, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Good to be with you and
Karen.

SHARPTON: E.J., let me start with you in kind. The Republicans have
blamed President Obama for not changing the culture in Washington. But
they had secretly agreed to a plan to block him even by Washington
standards. It`s pretty cynical, wouldn`t you say?

DIONNE: Well, you know, at one point in the last few years, I thought
maybe if President Obama proposes a big tax cut for the rich, the
Republicans would turn around and raise taxes. Maybe that would be the way
we could solve the deficit problem.

I mean, it was very clear right from the beginning that they were
doing this. And I think they had a lot of success with this strategy
because by being so resolutely obstructionist, they define everything
President Obama did as being far to the left. And Obama, I think, is a
very moderate sort of liberal. He`s actually been criticized by a lot of
liberals for being too moderate. But taking this sort of clear
obstructionist line, they altered the political conversation quite a lot, I
think, until the debt ceiling fight. I think that`s when they started
running in trouble. It weakened Obama, but it really exposed them. And
that`s when I think a lot of people starting realizing what was going on
here.

SHARPTON: Now, Karen, I think aside from it being so outrageous that
they would do this at the expense of Americans that needed the government
to move forward, is to play the hypocrisy. Because while they were all
doing this and executing this plan, look at what they were saying. Watch
this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I work with the
president like I work with anybody else in this town.

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: We do want to work
with this president in terms of finding common ground and seeing how we can
create jobs.

MCCONNELL: Republicans are ready to work with the president on
turning this economy around.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-W), BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I assure you that we
want to work with the president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, when you hear their very sincere rhetoric of
working with the president when in fact you now have Republicans confirming
On the Record what the vice president said On the Record in this new book,
it`s just blatant hypocrisy and outright lying to the American people.

KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it absolutely is and let
me give a contrast. When I went to the DNC in 2005, obviously, that was
after a defeat for Democrats. And the conversations that we had and the
strategic meetings that I was a part of, it is pretty high levels with
communications people from both the house and Senate, your high level
Democrats down to the DNC, all of all trying to come together.

The conversation was about OK, what can we get done? Obviously there
were conversations about things we were concerned that President Bush was
going to do. And as you recall, we did make an issue of the way he was
prosecuting the war in Iraq, but that was based on policy and what was in
the best interest of the country. It had nothing to do with saying hey,
we`re going to make George Bush look back and we are going to jam him up.

And I think the other example I would give you is, remember when
Democrats when Bush was first elected said they were willing to work with
Bush. We got no child left behind then. Now, there was clearly been
problems with it but the point is when Democrats said they were willing to
work with Bush, I think you saw a much more sincere effort to try to do so
than what we saw on the part of Republicans.

And I think at this point we don`t know what President Obama would
have been able to accomplish because they did such a good job of
obstructing him at every turn.

SHARPTON: Yes, and that`s the point. You know E.J., it turns out
that the rhetoric may have been part of the plan. You know, McConnell aide
is quoted in this new book saying, and I`m quoting the book. "There were
two totally opposite thoughts on how to approach the situation, a McConnell
aide recalls. Quote, "one was we don`t like the president and ought to pop
him early. The other was, he`s really popular. We should work with him.
The boss` take was neither." McConnell realized it would be much easier to
fight Obama if Republicans first made a public show of wanting to work with
him." So this was planned.

DIONNE: Well, I think they very much wanted to get Obama on his
promise to get Washington to work together. And the problem with a promise
like that is that you`re giving the other side a kind of veto. But they
didn`t want to say outright we`ll never work with him because they wanted
him blamed.

And you know, I think there are times when some parties are going to
oppose the other party on principle. Democrats did it when President Bush
wants to privatize Social Security and they didn`t work with him on that.
But in fact, they fought him on that.

But when you look at the stimulus right out of the box, everybody in
the country knew we need a stimulus. President Obama made about 1/3 of
that stimulus tax cuts. Now, Republicans wanted other kinds of tax cuts.
At that point they could have negotiated and I think there was plenty of
rooms at that moment to say, all right, let`s have a plan that can get the
economy moving. But they never accepted the idea that there were even tax
cuts in that plan and they never talked about how much tax cutting was done
in this stimulus package. And I think that`s a good example of what the
book is about on this.

SHARPTON: Now, Karen, but it did cost them as well. Because when you
look at the fact that the Republican brand has been hurt by this, just 34
percent of those polled have a favorable view of Republicans. And
Republicans have polled worse than Democrats in 14 different polls. Every
poll since they took the house has had them in a negative in terms of
favorability. So it`s not come without a penalty to them.

FINNEY: Well, that`s right. Although I have to tell you, Rev. That
is an astonishingly high number. I mean, they should be, you know,
thanking their lucky stars it`s that high. Because I think one of the
things we saw at the beginning, Democrats really didn`t want to play the
blame game and whine about the fact that Republicans weren`t working with
them. So I think there was a feeling of, all right we`re going to try and
get something done here. And I think, you know, a lot of us on the outside
kind of criticizing the White House and the president for being so naive as
to be trying to work with Republicans. So I think, you know, if they would
have really started to feel the heat for how obstructionist they have been
from the beginning, I think those numbers would be lower if people knew the
truth.

SHARPTON: Yes. I agree with you. E.J. Dionne and Karen Finney,
thanks for your time tonight.

FINNEY: Thanks.

DIONNE: Good to be with you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, Mitt Romney goes all the way to Iowa to show a
working class farmer that he feels their pain. But he ends up with a one
percenter who lives in a house that looks like a spaceship, some farmer.
No wonder Romney`s not connecting with voters and falling behind in the
polls.

Plus, fallout from our jaw-dropping interview with the Republican
who`s peeling backs the curtain on the fight to suppress the vote.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s very sad that the Republican Party doesn`t
want to win votes by talking about what it stands for. It wants to ensure
that some people can`t get to the polls, can`t register to vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The truth is out there. Now what should Democrats do about
it?

All that, plus, cats doing some crazy things coming up on your summer
break.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Mitt Romney`s lost summer. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Mitt Romney keeps trying to prove he`s a regular guy who
cares about the middle class. But something just keeps going wrong.

This week Mr. Romney went to Iowa to show he understands the pain of
farmers dealing with the drought. There he is shaking hands with a real
life farmer. But that`s no ordinary farmer. In fact, that man owns 54
separate farms. He reportedly made millions of dollars. He`s living so
large that he owns this house. It literally looks like a spaceship, the
spaceship farmer.

It`s reportedly got on underground garage and a car wash. And that`s
the farmer the Romney campaign chose for its photo up, the farmer of the
one percent?

Romney knows this is a problem for him which is why tomorrow he`ll try
to make another pitch to the middle class launching a bus tour through
other key battle states. The problem for Romney, he`s already in a hole
and it`s getting deeper.

The latest poll from Reuters gave the president a seven-point lead
over Romney, 49 to 42 percent. A CNN poll also has him up by seven points,
52 to 45 percent. And now a FOX poll has made the president ahead by nine
points. The summer has not been kind to Mitt Romney, and it`s only getting
hotter.

Joining me now is Bob Shrum, Democratic strategist who ran Senator
Kennedy`s campaign against Romney back in 1994. He`s writing in the daily
beast about Mitt Romney`s lost summer. And Cynthia tucker, Pulitzer Prize
winning columnist and visiting professor of journalism at the University of
Georgia.

Bob, let me start with you. Is Mitt Romney losing the presidential
race at this point?

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Right now he is for sure. Look.
That visit to the farmer is typical. That`s Mitt`s kind of farmer. The
next thing you know, he`ll go to a four star restaurant that has $300 pre-
fixed meals and call it a food bank. It doesn`t be having advance stuff.
I mean, he`s very good at making his own mistakes and he has a campaign
that swelling.

What`s happened this summer is the Obama campaign has succeed in
defining Romney and succeed in defining the terms of choice. Who stands up
for the middle class? And when you go inside those polls you were
mentioning, for example the CNN poll, 62 percent of people says that Romney
cares about the rich not the middle class.

SHARPTON: Actually, 64 percent say that Romney favors the rich, only
29 percent say he favors the middle class and poor. And the opposite of
the president, 18 percent say he favors the rich, 76 percent says he favors
the middle class and poor.

Cynthia, it`s almost like either they`re in denial at the Romney
campaign or they`re inept and incompetent or they don`t care. I mean, what
are we looking at here?

CYNTHIA TUCKER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, heaven knows Bob is
right. Some two or three advanced staff members need to be fired over that
farm fiasco. But the campaign reflects the man at the top. And Mitt
Romney is just an inept candidate. Let`s face it. He`s not a very good
candidate particularly at this level. This is when you need to bring your
a-game. And Romney doesn`t have one.

Obama is a much better candidate than he is. Obama comes across as
warmer, more likable, policy walks like me don`t like this much. But the
average voter makes a choice based as much on personality as policy. And
Romney hasn`t found a way to come across as warm and likable. And you see
that reflected partly in the favorability ratings.

But it`s also true that Obama knows how to throw a sharp elbow. And
this is something quite frankly that a lot of democratic candidates haven`t
known how to do. Obama has popped him on Bain and outsourcing. He`s
popped him on his taxes. And he`s kept him off message. So Romney is
often having to respond to defend himself against the things that Obama has
said rather than hit Obama as he`d like to do on the economy.

And I have one last thing to say about Obama as an inept candidate.
Some of the things he`s been hit over in this campaign, Bob Shrum was
hammering him on in 1994. So you would have thought by now he would have
come up with better answers.

SHARPTON: No. And I think it`s an excellent point, Bob, because if
you have a competent staff at all and if you yourself -- if you`re a
competent candidate as Cynthia said, you at least remember what you got
hammered on before. You don`t have to even figure this out. This is some
of the vulnerabilities you brought into the race. And it`s hurting him.

Look at the fact that he is now even having a problem with
independents and men. I mean, which he was showing some strength when we
look at the CNN poll, among independents the president is now ahead of
Romney by 11 points, 53 to 42, Bob, among men he`s ahead by six points, 51
to 45 where Romney was showing strength in these two areas not long ago.

SHRUM: Yes, look. The Obama campaign and Cynthia`s right about the
president knowing how to throw a sharp elbow. The Obama campaign took heat
at the beginning when they set out to define Romney. They didn`t pay
attention to the heat. They didn`t pay attention to the critics in the
party inside the Democratic Party. They went ahead and did their business.

Look. This is a guy who had as Cynthia said 18 years to get ready for
these Bain attacks. He doesn`t have an answer. His answers are lame and
cliche like the free enterprise system. If he knew he was going to run for
president, and I think he knew it all his adult life, but certainly knew it
from 2002 on when he got elected governor of Massachusetts. Why don`t you
sit down with your accountant and make sure you pay a reasonable amount in
taxes? Why don`t you say let`s close those Swiss bank accounts? Let`s
close the offshore tax havens before you put out returns.

This is a guy who obviously didn`t get ready and either the people in
his campaign don`t know what they`re doing or he won`t listen to them.
Because I`m sure they sat around that table and said we need to get ready
for this. And he just didn`t. I mean, he is in the position right now
where he can`t release his tax returns. It`s plainly obvious that there`s
stuff in there that is so bad that he`d rather just take the heat he`s
taking now.

SHARPTON: But Bob, you`ve known him for years. You`ve run campaigns
against him. Why wasn`t he prepared? Why didn`t he get ready?

SHRUM: Well, I think on the tax returns there`s probably a
combination of two things, a certain arrogance, a belief he was playing by
rules that he thought advantaged him and he wasn`t going to give them up,
and that sort of bleeds over into a kind of heedless greed.

But if you`re serious about being president of the United States, you
have to look forward. You have to say, what am I going to be able to
produce? What am I going to be able to reveal? How am I going to be able
to disclose things? You have to get ready for that.

I find it unbelievable that he didn`t. And I assume there are people
in his campaign or around him that said you have to do this and they were
just ignored.

SHARPTON: Bob, let me ask you Cynthia. The vice presidential choice,
will that play into changing or affecting this at all whoever Romney picks
for vice president?

TUCKER: I don`t have any doubt that his vice presidential pick and
the convention will give him an opportunity to focus on the message he
wants to for a few days. But after the conventions end and through the
Republican convention of course Obama is going to continue to hammer him
with the same things. So no matter who he chooses as vice president, the
essential problem is still Mitt Romney himself. You`d have to change the
top of the ticket to get rid of the biggest vulnerability.

SHARPTON: Bob, I assume from that chuckle that you agree.

SHRUM: Oh, I absolutely agree. And I think his vice presidential
pick could make things worse for him. He`s let this get out of control by
waiting too long. He now has a movement inside the party to make sure that
he picks Representative Paul Ryan.

If that happens, front and center in this campaign as an issue will be
the Ryan plan to privatize, voucher it and end Medicare as we know it. And
then the senior vote which was very pro-Romney, which was very pro-
Republican which is now kind evenly split in these latest polls will begin
to move toward Obama. So he could make things worse with his vice
presidential pick.

SHARPTON: Cynthia Tucker, Bob Shrum, thanks for coming on the show.

Have a great weekend to you both.

SHRUM: You too.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, Republicans finally have an answer to Mitt
Romney`s tax problems. And it involves the birthers. Not really. The
birthers?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Folks, have you joined us on facebook yet? The "Politics
Nation" conversation is going all day long.

Today the latest news of grand obstructionist party had everyone
talking.

Pat called it a dereliction of duty.

Grace wonders if they`re earning their pay saying quote, "they have
done nothing to help the citizens to get job a job. Why do they get a
paycheck?"

And folks love this photo of the president playing catch me if you can
in the oval office with an adviser`s daughter.

Stella says it`s off the cuteness scale.

Jarrod joked, the President was using the Oval Office to pander to the
toddler electorate. And Sally teased, he is so good with children. Must
have learned that from dealing with Republicans. We want to hear what you
think too. Head over to Facebook and search POLITICS NATION and like us to
join the conversation that keeps going long after the show ends.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back. The Republican Party has a problem. A Mitt
Romney tax problem. A new poll shows 63 percent of all Americans want Mr.
Romney to release more of his tax returns than the one year he`s released.
But the chairman of the Republican National Committee Reince Priebus
doesn`t think we should talk about it anymore.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Ridiculous.
I mean, he`s released two years of taxes. He`s releasing 2011. I`m not
spending any more time talking about this issue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Republicans don`t want to talk about it because they know
it`s a losing issue for them. So what are they willing to talk about?
Apparently they`re willing to talk about Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRIEBUS: Donald Trump is a good friend I think of our party. And I`m
thankful to Donald Trump for all the work that he`s done for us and for
Governor Romney. I don`t know right now what he`s going to do at the
convention, but I do know that he`s important to us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So Donald Trump is important, but Romney`s taxes are not.
That`s ridiculous. Are you sure about that?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Is it a good message to send for a guy who`s still
a birther, still calling for the President to release college transcripts,
is that the kind of guy you want on the podium during the republican
convention?

PRIEBUS: I have been -- I have been from the very moment that I have
been chairman of this party, very clear where I stand on that issue. And
it`s just as much of a distraction as it is for people to ask for more and
more tax returns and all these other issues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The head of the Republican Party says, people asking about
Romney`s tax returns is just like birthers asking for the President`s
birth certificate? That`s a totally false equivalency. And it`s just a
sign of just how desperate Republicans are to deflect attention away from
Romney`s financial past.

Joining me now is Jonathan Capehart, an opinion writer for the
Washington Post and an MSNBC contributor. And Victoria DeFrancesco-Soto, a
fellow at the University of Texas and an NBC Latino contributor. Thanks to
both of you for being here tonight.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Rev.

VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO-SOTO, NBC LATINO CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Jonathan, this is a new excuse for not releasing the Romney
tax returns. Tried out the birther stuff. This is new.

CAPEHART: Yes. It`s new and it`s ridiculous. Look. Then candidate
Obama release his birth certificate, the birthers didn`t believe it. So
Donald Trump makes a big stink and the President did something that was
rather extraordinary, unnecessary to my mind. But put to rest a lot of
this argument, released the long form of his birth certificate. And so,
what Donald Trump did before the long form birth certificate was released,
he was the one who mentioned the college transcripts issue and the
President`s college grades.

What they`re doing is trying to throw up a lot of dust, a lot of flack
to deflect the attention of me and other members of the media away from the
real issues at hand. Which is one year and an incomplete year of tax
returns from Mitt Romney doesn`t meet the standard that was set by his own
father back in the 1960s when he ran for president.

SHARPTON: Yes. That`s the point, Victoria. Because I think that in
this discussion that what I`m trying to deal with that I don`t understand
what Priebus is trying to in many ways insult our intelligence. Every
presidential candidate that becomes the candidate of their party releases
their tax returns. We don`t have a president of any one asking for
somebody`s birth certificate. They`re trying to act like there`s some
equivalency here. And I think that is that thing that is most alarming to
me.

SOTO: It`s ridiculous, Reverend. Because they`re comparing apples to
oranges.

SHARPTON: Right.

SOTO: The birther movement was limited to one party, the Republican
Party. And within that, a very extreme element where is the call for
Romney`s tax returns is a broad base call. It`s Republicans, it`s
Democrats, it`s Independents. And the further difference is the root of
the birther movement came out of historical, religious, and racial
antipathies where there`s no antipathy towards Romney. In America, we love
wealth, we love success. We love entrepreneurs. We just want
transparency.

CAPEHART: Yes.

SHARPTON: And I think the main point that she`s making there,
Jonathan, Victoria is, that many of us felt that the whole birther question
was rooted in that kind of hostility and bias.

CAPEHART: Right.

SHARPTON: Where there is nothing but it is traditional for people to
be transparent if they are the nominee of their party to run for president
to release their financial background and dealings. If they`re in fact
going to be in charge of the United States policies in that area.

CAPEHART: Right. As Victoria said, this is a matter of transparency.
Mitt Romney is running for a job. He is asking the American people to hire
him. And yet he is unwilling to meet the same standard as other people who
have sought the same job before him including the current President of the
United States. If he`s not willing to be open and honest with the American
people, then why should they entrust the presidency? Their livelihoods,
the safety and security of themselves and their family. Why should they
entrust the Oval Office to Mitt Romney? He`s not giving them a good enough
reason to give them pass on this.

SHARPTON: Victoria, when you look at the fact that today you had
Wayne Allyn Root -- the chair of the libertarian party wrote on Glenn
Beck`s Web site, The Blaze that Romney should agree to release more of his
tax returns only if President Obama unseals his college records. But that
again is an extreme position that flies even in the face of an interview
with Greg Sargent at The Washington Post.

Jon Huntsman, Sr. even called for Romney to release more returns. I`m
quoting Huntsman Sr. saying, "I feel very badly that Mitt won`t release his
taxes and won`t be fair to the American people. Mr. Romney ought to square
with the American people and release his taxes like any other candidate.
I`ve supported Mitt all along. I wish him well. But I do think he should
release his income taxes."

SOTO: It`s not just Republicans who are calling for the release of
his tax returns. It`s his best friends. And the Republicans want him to
put this issue behind him. Because the more we talk about taxes, the more
the American public is reminded of just how broken our tax system is. And
those wage earners are the most penalize. And that those who make their
income off investment like Romney get off with a break. And so, they want
to put that behind them. If they just release it, so we can move on to
other things aside from this. But it`s not going to go away. He can stand
strong all he wants, but it`s going to remain.

SHARPTON: Jonathan Capehart and Victoria DeFrancesco-Soto. Thanks
for your time tonight.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Have a good weekend.

SOTO: Good night.

SHARPTON: Coming up, revealing the truth about GOP efforts to
suppress the vote. What should Democrats do about it?

But first, cats go crazy on a special Friday summer break. Stay with
us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back with a pause from the political battles of the
day. A time to rest, relax, recharge. That`s right. It`s time for the
POLITICS NATION`s summer break. We start with one smart kitten. She knows
just how to get away from a dog in hot pursuit. Hang ten. Or in her case,
hang 20. But Fido, don`t give up. You can still get the cat. Just go
around the pool. It`s easy. Just go around.

People, that`s why cats are smarter than dogs. And here`s a cat who
wants a frozen treat. But the freezer`s not going to open itself. No
problem. With one giant leap, he`s up. And it`s open. Hang on. What
about that treat? Never mind.

Meantime, they`re on a roll at NASA. Time to get that next mission
off the ground.

Yikes. Quite the crash and burn. And in New Mexico we find a hotel
guest who`s having a bear of a time getting a room. Hey, can I see the
manager? What? No vacancies? Geez, he showed up without a reservation.
And that`s today`s summer break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: As if false attacks and secret corporate cash weren`t bad
enough, now Republicans have now added voter suppression to their playbook
for winning elections. These tactics are going on in some critical swing
states. States where both presidential campaigns are spending the bulk of
their ad money. In Ohio, new limits on early voting means that most voters
can`t vote in the three days before the election.

In Iowa, the Secretary of State has started purging voters from the
rolls using secret databases. And in Colorado, the voter purge is being
spearheaded by the state`s attorney general who`s part of the Romney
leadership committee in the state. Republicans have always claimed these
new voting measures are meant to prevent fraud. But last night, we heard a
different explanation. The former head of Florida`s Republican Party Jim
Greer told me that voter fraud is just a cover story.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM GREER, FORMER CHAIR, FLORIDA GOP: Never one time did we have any
discussions where voter fraud was a real issue. It`s simply been created
as a marketing tool here in Florida for the right wing that is running
state government now to convince voters that what they`re doing is right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: For Republicans, voter fraud is just a marketing tool. The
fact is their efforts are all about voter suppression.

Joining me now is Melissa Harris-Perry. Host of the "MELISSA HARRIS-
PERRY" show here on MSNBC. Melissa, thanks for being here.

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST, "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY": Absolutely.

SHARPTON: Jim Greer confirms admitting of us his suspected all along.
So, what should the Democratic Party be doing about him?

PERRY: Well, so not only the Democratic Party. But let me say, I
mean, obviously here is someone who was the former head of the Republican
Party.

SHARPTON: Yes.

PERRY: This matters to every voter. Democrat, republican,
independent, unaffiliated, haven`t voted in the past ten years.

SHARPTON: Right.

PERRY: What we must do is first of all call the lie what it is. This
is not about voter fraud, this is about voter suppression. Secondly, we
have to pay attention to the fact that the folks who are making these
decisions are often officials in our states whose names we may not even
know.

SHARPTON: Right.

PERRY: Your secretary of state, the Attorney General. Like, we may
know who your governor is. But these are critically important officials
who as we seen in Ohio in 2004, in Florida in 2000 make these critical
decisions. We`ve got to pay attention to these elections. And then
finally, we have got to absolutely get in there and change these policies.
This has got to be the election issue in local elections. Are you going to
suppress my vote or not?

SHARPTON: Now, I think also, and the reason I raised about what the
Democrats should do because certain civil rights groups like the one I
head, National Action Network out there getting people the ID and
challenging.

PERRY: Yes.

SHARPTON: But I think the party needs to come out strongly and deal
with this. Some of which laws cannot be changed before Election Day. And
you have seniors who can`t afford to get their ID. Should they be denied
the right to vote? That`s where the poll tax analogy comes in.

PERRY: Yes, absolutely. And if you look at, even in state where they
say, OK, you know, the ID is free. The fact that it`s not free in terms of
transportation to get there and it`s not free in terms of, do you have a
birth certificate. Particularly if you`re elderly, you may not have ever
had a birth certificate if you were born at home. And none of those items
are free. That is a cost and not just sort about a pocket cost but
opportunity cost.

Look, the number one thing that political parties have always done in
this country is to actually mobilize voters. And we`re seeing more and
more stories that say, we are now in the part of the election where the
candidates are not going to so much be trying to convince you to vote for
them. They`ve got to mobilize the people who have already decided that
that person is their choice. So, for the Democratic Party, because when
there are more voters, Democrats win. The Democratic Party simply has got
to make sure that voters can get to the polls.

SHARPTON: And it seems as though, as Jim Greer pointed out last
night, there`s effort to immobilize people that you feel won`t vote for you
and targets certain people. Let me show you one of the things he said last
night about voter suppression tactic in Florida.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GREER: I sat in on many meetings where it was discussed of how to
make sure that what happened in 2008 when President Obama brought out the
college age voters, the minority voters, never happened again. Make sure
that the Republican Party has an advantage in this upcoming election by
reducing early voting, putting road blocks up for potential voters,
Latinos, African-Americans, to register and then to exercise their right to
vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Road blocks against Latino voters, African-American voters,
college age voters. Ending early voting in some states. Souls to the
polls where we would march churches to the polls after and this is
calculated and it is based on people`s race and nationality.

PERRY: The math and the history are very simple here. And here`s
how it goes. In our country, we have a very clear, direct history where at
each point, we have expanded the franchise. Expanded it first to men who
didn`t hold property. Expanded it to women. Expanded it to people of
color. Expanded it to younger people, right? We`ve always expand. That`s
how we moved in our history. The same time --

SHARPTON: We expanded at a great cost.

PERRY: Right. A great cost. And with great struggle but always an
expansion, not a contraction.

SHARPTON: Exactly.

PERRY: Right?

SHARPTON: So, that`s happening. And the second thing that`s
happening, that`s the history, the math, the demographics are very clear.
Our demographics are shifting in a way that tells us 100 percent that as
long as we`re still expanding the franchise and as long as demographics are
still moving the way they`re moving, the Republican Party will become
obsolete. Period.

The Republican Party cannot win an election based on its ideas, its
platforms, its policies or its goals as long as this history and this math
continue to be true. So the only way they can win is to reverse the
history and to change the math. And that can only be done through voter
suppression. And that`s what this is about.

SHARPTON: And this suppression is on top of a system that is already
troubled in terms of the election process. For example, look at the
obstacles in Ohio in 2004. Voters waited as long as ten hours. Thousands
left polls without voting due to long lines and there were shortage of
voting machines. So when you compound existing problems with now voter
suppression, you have the makeup of a real disaster which is why some of us
no matter who you vote for are saying, we`re going to deal with this issue.

PERRY: That`s right. And that`s the key. It`s fine for Republicans
to win if they have better policies. If they convince people that their
goals are better.

SHARPTON: Right.

PERRY: If they turn out their voters. That`s all fine. That`s
democracy. But when you win and can only win and can mathematically only
win by making sure that whole groups of people based on their identity
cannot vote, that is not democracy.

SHARPTON: And it`s a violation of voter rights. Melissa Harris-
Perry, thanks for joining me this evening. And don`t miss Melissa Harris-
Perry`s show airing this weekend at 11:00 Sunday morning.

After the Olympics, the show will return to its regular time period,
Saturdays and Sundays at 10 a.m. right here on MSNBC. We`ll be right back
with all the famous faces you won`t be seeing at the Republican National
Convention. We`ll play some of their greatest hits. Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re learning who`s in and who`s out of the GOP national
convention. And I`m sorry to report that some of the most entertaining
Republicans will not get a chance to speak to a live national audience.
For example, "The New York Times says, Texas Governor Rick Perry will not
be invited to showcase his unique speaking talents.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: Live free or die. Victory or death.
Bring it.

(LAUGHTER)

Commerce, education, and the -- what`s the third one there? Let`s
see. That -- was it was before -- he was before. Today has been awesome,
girl. Sorry. Oops.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: No love for Herman Cain either. He was on fire for awhile.
What happened?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HERMAN CAIN (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First of all, 9-9-9 -
- imagine there`s no pizza. We put in 9-9-9.

And when they ask me who`s the president of Ubeke-beke-beke-beke-stan-
stan, I`m going to say, you know, I don`t know. Nine-nine-nine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Then there`s Congresswoman Michele Bachmann left off the
speaking list. But why? Why?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: I don`t know how to be a
politician. I never want to know how to be a politician.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

How many of you love the IRS? I went to the inside to learn how they
work because I want to defeat them. Oh, my goodness!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Newt Gingrich is leading a series of workshops called Newt
University. But he won`t be speaking either. Really? What did Newt ever
do?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will have the
first permanent base on the moon and it will be American.

I got bit by a penguin.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Are you calling Mitt Romney a liar?

GINGRICH: Yes.

I think that Mitt and I get along fine, we get a lot of stuff done.
And I don`t particularly dislike him as a person.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He doesn`t particularly dislike Mr. Romney as a person.
Thanks for playing, Newt. That leaves us Donald Trump and Sarah Palin.
The Donald has allegedly declined a speaking slot. And no one is saying
either way if Palin`s involved. But let`s keep hoping.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, ENTREPRENEUR: I don`t want to bring up a very
successful show called "the Apprentice".

SARAH PALIN, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: She is not just a momma
grizzly, she`s a momma grizzly who`s probably packing.

They`re hopping in enjoying the Jacuzzi.

TRUMP: I`m really honored and I`m really proud that I was able to do
something that nobody else could do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Whoever is speaking at the convention, I`m sure they`ll
leave many of us speechless. Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton.
"HARDBALL" starts right now.

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

Transcription Copyright 2012 ASC LLC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is
granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not
reproduce or redistribute the material except for user`s personal or
internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall
user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may
infringe upon MSNBC and ASC LLC`s copyright or other proprietary rights or
interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of
litigation.>

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,