updated 8/28/2012 11:31:23 AM ET 2012-08-28T15:31:23

POLITICS NATION
August 27, 2012

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

Guests: Tom Perriello, Dennis Lieberman, Thomas Ritchie, Ed Rendell, Chris Redfern


REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Thanks, Chris and thanks to you
for tuning in.

Tonight`s lead, taking the low road. After months of trying to run on
this economy, Mitt Romney has changed courses. He`s trying to change the
conversation.

"The New York Times" reports on a new meaner message, quote, "the move
reflects a campaign infused with a sharper edge and overtones of class and
race." Class and race. Why would he do that? The "Times" reports that
the Romney arguments about the economy just aren`t working. He needs
something else. And he`s found it.

According to Republican strategists, Mister Romney`s chances hinge to
a large degree on running up his advantage among white voters in swing
states who show deep strains of opposition to Mister Obama but do not yet
trust Mister Romney to look out for their interests.

So he wants white voters with deep strains of opposition to Mister
Obama. How could he possibly appeal to them?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Going out and saying he`s
going to take the welfare -- excuse me, the work requirement out of
welfare. How can he not understand the power of work, the dignity of work?

The president is taking the work requirement out of welfare. Yes. I
mean, we value work. We`re a society which celebrates hard work. We do
not look for a government that tries to find ways to provide for people who
are not willing to work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The president doesn`t understand the dignity of work. He
doesn`t understand the power of work? Where does this even come from? And
for three weeks Mister Romney`s been running ads like this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On July 12th, President Obama gutted welfare by
dropping work requirements. You wouldn`t have to work or train for a job.
They just send you your check. And welfare to work goes back to being
plain old welfare.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He`ll gut welfare reform. You won`t have to work. So, in
the final stretch Mister Romney`s not talking about jobs or the economy,
but about a president who supposedly is against work? It isn`t even close
to being true. "The Washington Post" fact checkers gave Romney four
Pinocchios saying quote, "the ad`s claim is not accurate and inflames old
resentments about able-bodied adults sitting around collecting public
assistance. Pants on fire."

President Clinton who signed the legislation says the ads were simply
not true. And President Obama is calling Romney out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Probably the most
prominent argument that he`s been making for why voters should vote for him
is this notion that Obama took the work requirement out of welfare. And
he`ll put it back. The problem is that every fact checker, every reporter
who`s actually looked at this says this is just made up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But Mister Romney won`t let it go. In an interview he says
quote, "there`s no question in my mind that the president`s actions were
calculated to shore up his base. Weakening the work requirement and
welfare is an enormous mistake."

Shoring up his base? What is that nonsense? The Romney strategy is
not subtle. He`s going for the right wing of the Republican Party.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: No one`s ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know
that this is the place that we were born and raised.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It`s something we`ve heard for awhile from not
understanding America to calling out quote, "foreign costs." It`s low.
It`s ugly. And it just may work.

Joining me live from Tampa right outside the Republican national
convention is Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC`s "Hardball."

Chris, first thanks so much for being here tonight.

MATTHEWS: Thanks, Reverend Al.

SHARPTON: Now, you`ve seen a lot of campaigning. So, how do you
address the Romney strategy here?

MATTHEWS: Well, it`s blatant. You know, you and I grew up with
(INAUDIBLE), but I grew people like Bobby Kennedy. We both grew up with
Bill Clinton. We grew up with Barack Obama who was unifiers. They knew
how to unify people across ethnic lines. That was their genius as
politicians.

It`s much harder to do that. I remember the dirty faces of the people
on along the line when Bobby Kennedy was laid to rest in Arlington.
There`s a wonder that people that can unite us all. To me it`s simple
politics to divide. The easiest thing an Americans to raise the old ethic
charge, the racial charge, welfare cheats, easy welfare checks, food
stamps, welfare queens, young bucks using food stamps to buy booze with.
This was the Reagan line for years. I know they use it now and everybody
hears it.

I mean, I maybe being white I can spot it from a different perspective
than you can. But I hear the dog whistle. I know who is addressed to,
people like I grew up with. I know who it`s aimed at. And it works.

The scary thing is poor Barack Obama in this sense. He is not going
to do anything. But in his sense, he`s vulnerable. Because if he shows
any anger like I show today, he`s an angry black man.

SHARPTON: Right.

MATTHEWS: Have you noticed the last couple weeks they`re going after
him for his anger. So, which is it? If he shows any emotions about what
is clearly an ethic charge that he can hear louder than any of us, loud as
you can perhaps. And then he shows he`s vulnerable and then he loses. So,
he has to be above the battle. Almost pretend they`re not playing the game
except the (INAUDIBLE). He`s very good at occasionally saying you know
what they`re up to.

SHARPTON: Right.

MATTHEWS: But you know, unfortunately with working class whites who
are hard strapped right now, a lot of them facing unemployment,
underemployment. There`s resentment out there.

But I`ll say this. I`ve been in Washington 40 years now. I say to
anybody who wonders if black people work hard enough, you want to get into
the ethnic thing. Drive through Washington, not the nice daytime, but go
in 6:30 in the morning along Florida Avenue, along north capital along the
busy street. See who`s waiting in line to get on the bus to go to work.
They`re not going at 6:30 in the morning to get a welfare check, damn it.
They are getting up in the morning to go work and hard jobs and don`t pay
much in a lot of cases.

These are hard working people that come home tired. And a lot of them
come home to take care of their kids having taking care of somebody else`s
kids. The idea they don`t work, black people, is it is sickening. And yet
this is used over and over again as a dog whistle. And by the way, you
don`t have to be a dog to hear it.

SHARPTON: Well, I think that it is interesting, though, because
you`re right. If the president responds, he`s an angry black man. If I
say something, well he`s a civil rights activist. But when you have "The
New York Times" Saturday, when you have Chris Matthews coming out saying
this is trying to divide us by race and class, and one of the reasons it`s
so blatant is its untrue. It`s not even like they`re given a rationale why
he`s doing something. They`re lying about it.

MATTHEWS: You know, the welfare requirement is a good thing. But
there`s also parts that we should mention kidding, people saying go to
work. If they`re going to give more liberalism to a government to make
sure people actually get jobs, not just talk jobs, this is perhaps a way to
do it.

I mean, Bill Clinton signed this bill someone. It wasn`t my favorite
formulation but it was pass into law and it`s been enforced by Democrats
and Republicans. And to raise this issue now. You know, I wonder why he`s
doing it because I have to pay tribute.

Of course, you agree with me on this. John McCain, when he was losing
back in 2008 the last time around, a woman came up to him and threw the
Muslim charge at the now-president, and he said, no, ma`am. His conscience
was right there. He said no ma`am, that`s not true. And he took on the
crowd. And he was losing.

Now, Romney`s a point ahead in the latest poll, there`s no reason for
him to get down in the dirt. He has got a good chance to win this election
on arithmetic as I said. Why is he going down in the dirt on this now?

SHARPTON: When we look at what he`s doing, let me show you. He has
this in his campaign cycle, attacking the president`s Americanism. Listen
to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: It`s a very strange and in some respects foreign to the
American experience type of philosophy.

JOHN SUNUNU (R), FORMER NEW HAMPSHIRE GOVERNOR: I wish this president
would learn how to be an American.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s not an
American administration. It is a European socialist administration.

ROMNEY: A president doesn`t have the same feeling about American
exceptionalism as we do.

RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is what the
president`s agenda. It`s not about you. It`s about some phony ideal, some
phony theology. Not a theology based on the bible, a different theology.

ROMNEY: I don`t think he understands why our economy is the most
successful in the world. I don`t think he understands America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So there`s Romney and the GOP leadership questioning his
knowledge of America. He`s different, he`s other than us. Clearly, dog
whistles tactics by the whole Republican establishment. And it`s at the
expense of dividing this country.

MATTHEWS: Well, Reverend, you know, I`ve heard about driving while
black in New Jersey and how that is a statement how people are abused as
drivers because of ethnicity and profiling. Here you have a president of
the United States. Now, think about this. He is forced to produce his
papers. A president of the United States forced to produce his papers of
birth having to shove it out in the public. The humiliation of that and he
took it because he had to.

SHARPTON: It`s called --

MATTHEWS: John McCain was born in Panama. Nobody shoved this in
their face. This guy was born in Hawaii which the people out there were
un-informed this part of the United States. And I`m being sarcastic now
because I do get angry about this.

And then Reince Priebus this morning on "Morning Joe," talking about
European this and European that. The basis of this health care plan is the
heritage foundation, a Republican leaning conservative organization and the
individual mandate could not be more American. And the idea of taking
people out of the emergency room and making sure they take some
responsibility and reliance on their own health care couldn`t be more
American. And nothing is more sickening than to call that European
socialism in some jingoistic attempt to make this president a foreigner.

We know what they`re doing and I don`t mind ringing the bell for it.
If people think I`m ringing it too loud, they need to pay attention so when
it`s rung a little lighter. It`s awful what`s going on. And it`s
consistent.

SHARPTON: Well, I really appreciate you coming on, Chris. We`ll call
it presiding while black as opposed to driving while black.

MATTHEWS: Sad but true.

SHARPTON: And be sure to watch "Hardball" from Tampa following us at
7:00 Eastern right here on MSNBC.

Coming up, the extreme voices in the GOP might be left out of
convention, but make no mistake about it, they`re still driving the agenda.

And two Ohio election officials are one step closer to being fired
for, gets this, wanting more voting. The suspended officials join us live.

And all of that plus, air guitars. Oh, yes. It`s the world air
guitar championship on stage in your summer break.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: This may be Mister Romney`s convention, but it`s the tea
party`s agenda. The GOP has been taken over by the far right of the party
and they don`t want you to know about it. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back with a delegation getting a huge welcome at this
Republican`s convention. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELE BACHMANN (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Who`s proud to
be a tea partier now?

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Barack Obama is a
direct threat to the survival of the country I grew up in.

RON PAUL (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In Washington, D.C.,
they said the revolution will not be happening. Don`t they only wish?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: They may be getting a huge welcome, but this extreme trio
has mostly been shut out of the convention. But don`t be fooled. Their
voices are driving the GOP agenda. It`s just that the party is trying to
hide it.

Just look at the GOP platform. They`ve adopted Arizona`s papers
please law, a no abortion exception even for rape, incest, or the life of
the mother, mandatory ultrasound, no to same-sex marriage and civil unions.
And endorse more laws to disenfranchise voters all over the country.

Today, we learned about a secret Medicare plunk to be voted on
tomorrow. It would end Medicare and Medicaid as we know it and raise
seniors` out of pocket expenses by thousands of dollars. It`s no wonder
moderate Republicans are fleeing.

Jeb Bush is calling for a change in tone. And former Republican
Charlie Crist from Florida just endorsed President Obama saying quote, "but
an element of their party has pitched so far to the extreme right on issues
important to women, immigrants, seniors and students they`ve proven
incapable for governing for the people. The truth is that the party has
failed to demonstrate the kind of leadership or seriousness voters deserve.
And the truth hurts.

Joining me now analyst Richard Wolffe. He`s also the author of
"revival: the struggle for survival inside the Obama White House" and
former Virginia congressman Thomas Perriello who lost his house seat in the
tea party surge. He`s now a president and CEO of Center for American
Progress action front.

Richard, let me start with you. Is the Republican Party trying to
hide from its extremes?

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it`s hard to hide when
your plot form is what it is. What you`re seeing right now is a number of
the smarter more strategic Republicans know the party is way outside of
where they need to be to be electable at a national level. So, what they
are trying to say is well look, we`re not that extreme because we have a
moderate nominee, right? So everything`s fine because no matter what the
plot form says, that`s not what Mitt Romney is.

The problem is the party has drifted so far to the right that they`ve
had to put -- make the moderate formerly moderate nominee into something he
wasn`t to begin with. And so, his positions on debt, just you know, just
take that. Don`t mind the social issues. On debt, the problem is that his
policies would blow apart the deficit for the next 20, 30 years by cutting
taxes even beyond where Bush left us. So, this is not a party or a nominee
anymore inside the mainstream.

SHARPTON: Tom Perriello, last week the president spoke with the
Associated Press about where he thinks Mitt Romney stands. Listen to this
and give me your reaction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: He has signed up for positions, extreme positions that are
consistent with the positions that a number of house Republicans have
taken. And whether he actually believes in those or not, I have no doubt
that he would carry forward some of the things that he`s talked about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, as you give me your reaction, Tom, remember now
they`re playing this moderate image none of the extremist on, at least not
on primetime. How does this play to in fact what they`re really
representing in their platform and what Romney is representing as the
president is recounting it in this interview?

TOM PERRIELLO (D), FORMER VIRGINIA CONGRESSMAN: Well, I have to
disagree a little with the premise. There are seven birthers that are
scheduled to speak at the convention. We think that`s a pretty extreme
position.

Romney/Ryan the ticket itself has moved to end Medicare as we know it.
Ryan`s made clear that he is with Akin on the lack of exceptions for
abortion. And we`re talking about massive holes in the deficit while
independent analysts say they want to raise taxes on the middle class by
$2,000 a year to give Mitt Romney a $4.5 million tax cut.

So I don`t think you have to look much beyond the ticket. I think
we`ve got to get away from the myth that Mitt Romney is somehow this
moderate, reasonable guy who`s just getting yanked against his will. If
you look at the welfare ad you were just looking at, there wasn`t some
ground swell asking him to make up lies about welfare reform and lean into
the worst kind of politics. That was something that came straight from him
and his campaign.

So, I think this idea he`s somehow getting pulled against his will is
becoming a harder and harder case to make except the argument that this is
where he`s deciding to lead.

SHARPTON: Now, Richard, isn`t Tom really right? Isn`t it more of a
question of being abrasive with manners or being abrasive with no manners
but they`re all being abrasive?

WOLFFE: Well, look. He`s a grownup. He makes his own choices. He
decided that he had to go to the right and Newt Gingrich to win the
primaries. So no one forced him to do this. This was his ambition and
this is presumably you`ve got to take him at his word. This is where his
heart is right now. He`s had a change of heart on abortion. He has a
change of heart on being conservative with a small c when it comes to
things like the budget.

You know, the truth is, that we are it now for eight percent
unemployment, these positions would be seen as unelectable. That you just
couldn`t get elected. And the Republicans more generally are suffering
from the delusion of 2010. They won in 2010 by going to the pea party
extreme. They think they can repeat it again. But if they really come
back to the mainstream in their next nominee, it`s going to have to be more
moderated along the lines of what the Bushes used to be.

SHARPTON: But I hear you saying something else, Tom. You`re saying
it`s not just about a winning strategy. But when you look at Ryan`s
background and others, there`s not much difference in what he has advocated
and voted in Congress and what the extreme right is saying. You`re saying
this is really them.

PERRIELLO: That`s right. I mean, its Paul Ryan`s Congress that voted
to cut benefits for seniors and veterans. It`s Paul Ryan`s Congress that
reduced this radical plan on welfare. It`s Paul Ryan`s Congress that
wanted to bring back the incentives for outsourcing. And it`s Paul Ryan`s
Congress that just voted themselves a five-week vacation instead of acting
on the president`s jobs bill. And it`s Mitt Romney who looked at the
Congress and said I want to hire the brains behind that operation.

So, I think you got to look the most important decision a future
commander in chief makes is who that vice presidential nomination is going
to be. And I think it tells us heck of a lot about Mitt Romney in terms of
where his values are which is either the idea that he`s willing to do and
say anything to gain power or that he really is aligned with this radical
view that over 80 percent of the American people think this Congress is
doing a bad job. But Mitt Romney seems to think that`s the direction to
go.

SHARPTON: You know, when you look at this platform, Richard, and I
outlined a lot of the planks in my opening segment and said even when he is
down to rape and incest with women, I think I said also tonight I don`t
think that is correct, but the rest clearly there.

And when you look at the fact that more people have shown interest and
learning about the GOP platform than Romney or Ryan`s acceptance speech.
From the Pew poll, that`s where the interest are, people are coming to this
platform and that could be a problem.

Look at what Jeb Bush said yesterday on "Meet the Press" and what he
says carefully about the tone but not necessarily about what they are going
to really represent and advocate. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Our demographics are changing.
And we have to change not necessarily our core beliefs but how we -- the
tone of our message and the intensity of it for sure. This is going to be
a close election, but long-term conservative principles if they`re to be
successful and implemented, there has to be a concerted effort to reach out
to a broader audience than we do today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Demographics have changed. Reach out to a broader
audience. Change our tone, not our core beliefs.

WOLFFE: Right. Well, I`m not sure he really believed that. I think
he was being diplomatic. You know, you cannot just change your tone and
appeal to the demographics of the Latino population or the rising
minorities of diversity in this country. It`s not like Akin would say that
you mischoose your words here.

SHARPTON: Right.

WOLFFE: And Jeb Bush noses that. This is something that just happens
with the change of tongue that Republican have to reach out to a much
broader audiences and even someone like Karl Rove, when he was electing
George W. Bush. Jeb Bush`s product knew they had to reach out to Latinos.
You`re not going to get that with a harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric and the
platform that developed this time around.

SHARPTON: Tom, don`t we need as Americans have a real debate in this
country, the moderates and the Republican Party, to just stand up and say
these kinds of things are wrong. Not a change in tone. I agree with
Richard, how do you change the tone of telling rape and incest victims that
you cannot have the right to choose an abortion? Or how do you change the
tone of self-deportation?

Isn`t it time for moderate Republicans to stand up and fight back or
admit their party has been overtaken and they are no longer in charge or
even in the majority of their party?

PERRIELLO: I hear it all the time when I`m out campaigning. Small
business owners who used to feel like Republican represented them. They`d
write a small check and get a seat at the table. But now they feel like
unless you`re writing $1 million check you have no voice in the Republican
Party. And they`re looking and saying these guys aren`t serious about
building infrastructure or investing in education that are a crucial part
of the job creators back on Main Street when the other party seems to only
care about the job creators on Wall Street.

And so, I think this is about bringing back that moderate
conversation. And when Mitt Romney`s only move is to run that kind of
welfare ad that`s not only offensive to black people, it`s offensive to
white people saying you`re going to come at me with something that destroys
American jobs and rewards outsourcing and you think you are going to win my
vote by playing that dog whistle, that`s insulting to my intelligence.

So, I think what we need is to look at is not just their tone but
their policies. And the problem is the Romney/Ryan policies are terrible
for job creation here in the United States, terrible for manufacturing and
there`s a lot of Americans who have been voting for the Republican Party
who look at Mitt Romney and say this guy doesn`t get the experience e that
we have out here. And what it`s going to take to create jobs out on Main
Street.

SHARPTON: Well, I thank you both for being here.

You know, this dog whistle thing really bothers me, Richard, because
every time you have the dog whistles, those of us that can`t hear the dog
whistle, we end up getting bit.

Richard Wolffe, Tom Perriello. Thanks for your time.

Coming up, somebody is comparing Mitt Romney to Popeye. And that
somebody is Mitt Romney.

Plus, all the world`s a stage and it`s time for the best air guitarist
in today`s summer break. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m not going to try to hide
who I am and try to manipulate my life to try and avoid the truth.

All I can do is be who I am. Remember that Popeye line I am what I am
and that`s all I am.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AL SHARPTON, HOST, MSNBC LIVE: You know things are tough when a
politician starts comparing himself to Popeye. Governor Romney`s team has
a pr problem. Voters just don`t really like their candidate. So the
campaign arranged an interview with FOX News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I know it`s a little early. It`s a little early. I`m just
taking a look. I`m just going to do it anyway. See.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Honestly, is this the first time you`ve done this
in your life?

(LAUGHTER)

ANN ROMNEY, WIFE OF MITT ROMNEY: Are you putting peanut butter on my
pancakes?

ROMNEY: I`m not putting them on Chris. Don`t worry honey.

ANN ROMNEY: That is acceptable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Peanut butter on pancakes. Now we know everything. What
else could we possibly want to learn about Mitt Romney? Really, once you
know what a politician puts on his pancakes, is there anything else to
learn? What else is relevant?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY": I also hear from my sources
that you have an unhealthy attraction to Costco.

ANN ROMNEY: Oh, we both love Costco. I love Costco.

ROMNEY: She got me a three pack of shirts today from Costco.

ANN ROMNEY: Yes.

ROMNEY: And they`re very nice shirts.

ANN ROMNEY: The Kirkland shirts. He`s wearing them all the time now.
They looked pretty good. I got it at Costco.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Costco? I always thought he was more of a Sam`s club kind
of guy. But at least the critical questions about Romney are getting
answered. The things we just got to know. At least we`re finally learning
what`s really important in this election.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANN ROMNEY: You know, Mitt and I are pretty independent. That`s how
we like it. Like to do our own things. I think Mitt ironed his own shirt
this morning. I noticed he was doing the laundry last night.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He ironed his own shirt? Amazing. What more do we need to
know? Isn`t this all the information the American people need to know to
make their choice on Election Day? This week Republicans will try to sell
you a kinder, gentler Mitt Romney and they`re hoping you forget about all
the questions Romney is refusing to answer.

Joining me now is former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, former
chairman of the Democratic National Committee and now an MSNBC news
political analyst. Thank you for joining me, Governor.

FMR. GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA: I think you`re ready to do
stand up, Al.

SHARPTON: I always wanted to ask you, do you put peanut butter on
your pancakes? No, we`ll talk about that later. Let me ask you something
serious. Do you think Republicans think they`ll be able to repackage
Romney for the American people?

RENDELL: Well, I think that would be a mistake. Because the American
people are not dumb. Mitt Romney is not a common guy. He`s not a guy who
shops -- they may go to Costco once in awhile but he doesn`t wear Costco
shirts 99 percent of the time. I`d bet my right arm on it. And he
actually said the right thing. I know, it`s funny that he was quoting
Popeye, but I am who I am. I think that`s a very important message for all
politicians to follow.

And I think if he tries to go off that in his convention speech or I
think try to portray him as something he`s not, it`s a mistake. Because it
will be as phony as a $3 bill and the American people will get it. When I
was running for Governor, of course, I was a big city mayor from
Philadelphia and a lot of Pennsylvania is agriculture. I think we`re the
fifth largest agricultural state in the union.

My campaign wanted me to wear overalls and milk a cow. And I said,
absolutely not. Essentially I said I am who I am. I`m a big city guy.
I`m not going to fake it. I`m going to look absurd milking a cow.
Everyone`s is going to notice. It`s just pandering to the voters. Mitt
Romney and the Republican Convention cannot pander to the voters`
intelligence.

SHARPTON: Now, so when you stood up to your advisers it was based on
your authenticity.

RENDELL: Absolutely. I am who I am.

SHARPTON: Now, apparently when you look at the polls when you ask
voters who`s more friendly, who`s more likable, president is way ahead 64
to 25. For Mitt Romney, 25 percent. But then when you get to the more
critical issue, candidate`s economic priorities. President Obama favors
middle class 61 percent.

RENDELL: Right.

SHARPTON: Mitt Romney faces the wealthy 60 percent. So not only as
he running into a problem with likability, it`s on core beliefs of whose
side he`s on. How does he deal with that? What does he need to say in his
convention speech that could turn that around if in fact it can be turned
around?

RENDELL: That`s a big if. But I were Mitt Romney, what I would say
to the American people is, look, I`m not a warm and fuzzy guy. I`m not
going to pretend that I am. That`s just not who I am. And in terms of the
fact that you all know that I`m someone who has accumulated significant
wealth, that`s the truth and I don`t apologize for it. But for you out
there who were hurting, if for you out there who are jobless, I know how to
make things better. I know how to fix things. That`s all I`ve done all my
life.

And do you care whether it`s a rich guy or a not so rich guy who gets
you a job? Of course you don`t. You want someone who can make this
economy work. That would be the honest, forthright approach and it would
be the approach that I think which resonates best with voters.

SHARPTON: Now, when you look at the fact that again with polls, the
President is far ahead of Romney when it says who understands economic
problems of people. And that`s what you`re saying. He needs to say I`m
real. I`m who I am. I`m not going to apologize for it, but I understand
you. But he doesn`t seem to be able to communicate that, Governor.

RENDELL: He has not done a good job of doing that. And he`s got -- I
mean, I think this is a time -- his convention speech is a time for real
honesty. Don`t try to be warm and fuzzy. You can`t be. It`s out of
character. Don`t try to be a common guy. Mitt Romney`s not a common guy.
You know, I`m sorry. Ann Romney is a terrific person, I know Ann Romney.

But if Mitt ironed his shirt the day before that interview or the
morning of that interview, it was the first time he ironed his shirt in
awhile. Look, don`t apologize for being wealthy. And say, look, I`ve been
a success at everything I`ve done. At Bain Capital, at the Olympics, as
governor. I know how to fix things. And that`s what you should be
concerned about Mr. and Mrs. American. Fixing this economy, getting people
back to work. And I`m the guy who can do it. That`s the message.

SHARPTON: That`s the message, Governor Rendell, thanks so much for
your time.

RENDELL: It`s a good thing I`m not in the Romney campaign, right?

SHARPTON: Yes. I would bet that I would agree with that. Thank you
though.

RENDELL: Thanks, Al.

SHARPTON: Coming up, voter suppression in Ohio just took an ugly
turn. These election officials are on the verge of being fired for wanting
more voting. It`s crazy.

And we`ve got some air guitar stars in your summer break, next.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Have you checked us out on Facebook? The POLITICS NATION
conversation is going all day long. Today, our Facebook crowd is buzzing
about the Ohio election officials who have been suspended for wanting to
keep early voting hours.

Shirley called the situation bogus. Pamela said, the election
officials were quote, "men of principle."

Richard asked, "If early voting worked in the 2008 election in Ohio,
why are the Republicans changing the rules to make it harder to vote in
2012."

I`ll talk to those two election officials next. But 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.
We hope to see you there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back with a pause from the political battles of the
day. A time to rest, relax, and recharge. That`s right. It`s time for
the POLITICS NATION summer break. We start at a zoo in Romania. This lion
is moving into his new home. When he tries to make a break for it nearly
climbing right over the fence, the lion eventually calmed down thanks to
some talented zoo keepers. But what a close call. I haven`t seen someone
escape that fast since Paul Ryan ran from his past.

Let`s move to a little summer concert, shall we? This band seems
distracted. Looks like someone in the crowd didn`t get the memo. Turn
your cell phone off before the show. Now the phone guy is part of the act.
Wonder who he was talking to. Maybe Sarah Palin looking for something to
do this week. And America, I give you the world air guitar championships.

Let me just say I`m glad I didn`t wear that suit tonight. Anyway,
this air rocker and 17 others let loose in front of 5,000 fans in Finland.
And check this guy out. He`s shredding it in that air metal costume. This
woman better be careful, she might hurt her neck with all that head
banging. Don`t forget about the American rocker in the contest. He goes
by the name Nordic thunder.

Listen to the crowd go wild. He took home the win. His prize, an
actual guitar. Why would he need that? I`ve seen a few politicians played
a hot air guitar. And that`s today`s summer break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`ve been telling you how voting rights are under attack
around the country. And today there`s big news from Ohio. Two democratic
election officials there are on the verge of being fired. For trying to
allow more people to vote. A state hearing officer appointed by republican
secretary of state has recommended that the Democrats be removed for
pushing to extend early voting hours on the weekend. A hearing was held
last week to determine if they went against the directive issued by
Secretary of State Husted who set limited early voting hours nearly two
weeks ago.

Husted will make the final decision tomorrow whether to file the
officials. So, this is the republican strategy for 2012. They may fire
two election officials for wanting to give people more time to vote.
Amazing.

Joining me now is Dennis Lieberman and Thomas Ritchie, the two
democratic election officials who may lose their jobs because they`re
trying to help people vote. And also joining me is Chris Redfern, chairman
of the Ohio Democratic Party. Thanks to all of you for being here tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Sure.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Thank you. Thank you.

SHARPTON: Dennis, let me start with you. What`s wrong with trying to
help people exercise the right to vote?

DENNIS LIEBERMAN, OHIO ELECTIONS OFFICIAL: You know, I don`t think
anything is wrong with it. We in Montgomery county have always had since
2008 early voting and we`ve always had the attitude that the best thing to
do as a board of elections is to encourage people to vote, not to restrict
them.

SHARPTON: Right.

LIEBERMAN: And so even the Republicans on our board have voted to do
that. And we voted before this directive to have weekend voting.

SHARPTON: Now, let me just --

LIEBERMAN: And all we were doing --

SHARPTON: Let me cut to the chase though. They are threatening
because of what you just said of trying to go forward with the weekend
voting to fire you and Dennis. And tomorrow we`ll know what the secretary
of state`s decision is. Dennis, are you prepared to be fired for this?

LIEBERMAN: I am. It`s as I explained to my children. You know, I
can get another job, but I can`t get another conscience. And the right
thing to do here is to have early voting. And it`s been the right thing
for Montgomery County since 2008. I`m not going to change my opinion
simply because I was told to.

SHARPTON: Tom, what about you? Are you prepared to be fired for
this?

THOMAS RITCHIE, OHIO ELECTIONS OFFICIAL: Absolutely. Doing the right
thing as Dennis said is not easy, but in 2008 we had 28,732 people
participate in early vote here in Montgomery County. And all we were
attempting to do is give the voters the right to vote. And we just want to
let them vote so their vote would count in this country.

SHARPTON: So this is all about you just saying let`s have early
voting. Let`s have weekends. Twenty eight thousand people voted early in
person in your county in 2008. And you`re saying why would we change it?
Let me bring in Chris Redfern. Chris, you`re the chairman of the
Democratic Party statewide. A hundred ninety seven thousand people voted
nights and weekends. At the same time frame that Husted eliminated through
this directive. Do you think this is politically set to try and limit the
votes that would probably lean toward Democrats in this election?

CHRIS REDFERN, CHAIR, OHIO DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Well, I`m smiling
because I think we all know the answer to that. What Tom and Dennis did in
Montgomery County is no different as board of elections have done in the
past in Cuyahoga County and Lucas County, republican counties and
democratic counties have over the course the last few years been allowed to
be open on the weekends.

SHARPTON: Right. And an important point Reverend Al, is this law in
Ohio was written by Jon Husted, the current secretary of state. He wrote
the law in 2006 with the republican governor that allowed us to have early
vote on the weekends. What Dennis and Tom did is no different than what
republican board members in Cuyahoga County did over the course of the last
four years.

But what Jon Husted has noticed is that Democrats organize better than
Republicans. We get our people out to vote. And we win elections. And
Jon Husted can`t win elections the right way. He`s got to win them the
wrong way. And firing Tom, Ritchie and Dennis Lieberman is the absolute
wrong approach. For the first time in Ohio, boards of election members
will be fired for opening up the process rather than closing it down.

SHARPTON: I mean, but this is unheard of. It`s despicable. What can
the state Democratic Party do? What can anyone do to help deal with these
two men being fired for basically standing up for people having their
voting rights exercised?

REDFERN: Well, that`s right. And what I can do is I can ask. I can
ask for help. What Tom and Dennis can do is ask for help. You know, our
legal challenges both in federal and state court are expensive and we need
help. You can visit us at Ohio Dems.org and join our effort whether it be
in Dayton, Montgomery County. Soon we`ll be hearing from board of
elections officials in places like Mahoning County, in Cuyahoga County, in
Lucas County, and we`re also going to hear from County commissioners who
are going to point out to Jon Husted, the secretary of state, this is not
about money.

SHARPTON: Right.

REDFERN: There are resources that have been appropriated to run these
elections. This is about right versus wrong. And I`m glad I`m on the
right side with this issue, with Tom and Dennis.

SHARPTON: Well, Tom and Dennis, I think you`re really doing the
right thing. I think you are really doing the patriotic thing. And I
think I`m glad to hear that this is not over. There`ll be a fight. Many
Americans will fight with you. I know it is not what you choose to do in
your career if Husted fires you tomorrow. But I really was moved when you
said that you can get another job but you can`t get another conscience.

And I hope people of conscious will stand with Thomas Ritchie and
Dennis Lieberman as you stand up for the American people. I promise you,
we`ll going stay on this. Thomas Ritchie and Dennis Lieberman and Chris
Redfern, thank you for your time tonight.

REDFERN: Thanks, Al.

RITCHIE: Thank you.

LIEBERMAN: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, four years ago today Barack Obama was nominated
president with a message moving forward. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The Republican Convention begins in Tampa this week. But I
can`t help thinking about another convention. Four years ago today, then
Senator Barack Obama was nominated for president in Denver. When he
accepted the nomination the following day, he explained the philosophy he
was running against.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: Out of work? Tough luck.
You`re on your own. No health care? The market will fix it. You`re on
your own. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own boot straps.
Even if you don`t have boots, you are on your own.

(CHEERS)

Well, it`s time for them to own their failure. It`s time for us to
change America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He also said we can`t go back to the ways of the past.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: America, we cannot turn back. Not with so much work to be
done. Not with so many children to educate and so many veterans to care
for. Not with an economy to fix and cities to rebuild and farms to save.
Not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend. America,
we cannot turn back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It has been a up and down struggle, but it has been a
consistent struggle going forward and not going back. The question will
become as we prepare in these last few days in this election, will we rise
above the ugliness? Will we rise against the blame game? The class
warfare, the race warfare. And allow those that are cynical to bring us
back to the past. Or were we serious four years ago and tried to grab the
best and build a great future. That`s our quest.

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

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