updated 8/29/2012 11:09:46 AM ET 2012-08-29T15:09:46

POLITICS NATION
August 28, 2012

Guesst: Erin McPike; Alicia Menendez, Dana Milbank, David Corn

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Thanks, Chris. And thank you for
tuning in.

Tonight`s lead, Romney Republicans. It is a big night at the GOP
convention. Perhaps the Republicans` best chance at convincing the public
that Romney should be president of the United States.

Just moments ago, Mister Romney got to the magic number of delegates
need to clinch the nomination. Just a few hours from now, we hear will
from Mister Romney`s wife, Ann, who will talk about him as husband and
father. Then New Jersey governor Chris Christie will give the keynote
speech and what we are told will be a tough speechmaking the cause for
Romney`s policies.

But tonight, we are also sees other you appeals. And NBC`s first read
reports that in just a few minutes, Rick Santorum is expected to make a
welfare -- central part of his primetime speech at this convention. The
false welfare attacks on President Obama which have become a staple for
Romney in ads and on the campaign trail.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The president is taking the
work requirement out of welfare. Yes. Going out in saying he`s going to
take the welfare -- excuse me, the work requirement on the welfare, how in
the world can he not understand the power of work, the dignity of work?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: House speaker John Boehner is now onboard with this attack.

Now, why would Santorum be picked for this attack? He made headlines
earlier this year with this comment about the safety net.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t want to
make black people`s lives better by giving them somebody else`s money. I
want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.

SANTORUM: And provide for themselves and their families.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He claims he said blah people.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM: I looked at that. And I didn`t say that. If you look at
it, what I started to say is a word and then changed and -- came out and
people said I said black. I didn`t.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Blah people? That`s who Romney has tapped to pick up these
attacks on welfare?

Also tonight, one of the speakers will be Nevada governor Brian
Sandoval, one of the GOP governors who actually asked President Obama about
the welfare waivers in the first place. That`s awkward. Not exactly on
message, is it?

Now, Sandoval is one of the two GOP governors trying to get with the
Republican program and disown that your own earlier requests for welfare
waivers. Sandoval`s office says, quote, "the letter was not a request for
a waiver. It was a request to explore the possibilities." Not a request
for a waiver? Really? That`s interesting. Because last year state
officials wrote that, quote, "Nevada is interested in working with your
staff to explore program waivers." Sure sounds like they were interested
in waivers to me.

The bottom line is this. The attacks on welfare we will hear this
week are the worst kind of cynical politics but we will hear them tonight.

Joining me now is Melissa Harris-Perry. Host of "the Melissa Harris-
Perry show" here on MSNBC and Ezra Klein, a Washington Post" columnist and
MSNBC policy analyst.

Thank you both for joining me.

EZRA KLEIN, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Thank you.

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

SHARPTON: Melissa, let me start with you. It is a big night.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes.

SHARPTON: But it is a big night for welfare-to-work debate.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Welfare-to-work debate that`s bizarre and
manufactured because there`s no debate to be had here. Look, the attacks
are simply fictitious in the sense they say the President Obama
fundamentally changed the current welfare requirements. The Obama
administration has not done so. In fact, if anything, what the Obama
administration has done in this conversation on waivers is exactly what the
GOP claims it wants which is more localized control, more control at the
level of states, more devolution away from the federal government saying
this is exactly how it has to happen.

SHARPTON: Well, two Republican governors including Sandoval speaking
tonight requested these waivers. I just quoted one in the latter.

HARRIS-PERRY: Exactly. Because you know, as we know, states are
having a tough time financially. A lot of reason they are having a tough
time financially is because this do nothing Congress has been unwilling to
create the kind of federal aid needed to keep jobs in the states.

So the states are saying hey, you have a work requirement. We can`t
even meet that work requirement. There aren`t jobs for people, middle
class poor, otherwise, to have. Give us a little flexibility.

The president, unlike a socialist dictator which he is constantly
called, doesn`t say no, this is not what the federal government says to do.
He says it`s your state. Here`s some flexibility and then he has attacked
by the very people who have asked for that flexibility.

SHARPTON: Ezra, but since we know this is bogus, that it is not true,
what are they really doing? What`s the politics of this? I mean, is this
really trying to play anti-poor? Is it really racial overtones?

I think Chris Matthews and others have called it dog whistle. And --
those of us on the other side of this in terms of the racial question.
Can`t hear the dog whistle but we can feel the bite when the dog is
enraged. So what is this really about if it is not about facts?

KLEIN: Well, to say it clearly, we don`t know. We don`t know -- what
we do know is simply this. Of the last 12 ads Mitt Romney has foot-
forward, five of them are about welfare reform, five of 12. That is more
than about health care and Medicare, more than about the economy, more
about introducing Paul Ryan.

SHARPTON: Right.

KLEIN: So, they doubled down. What that means for a campaign to be
double down on a very unusual off message attack is it, it is polling off
the charts from when they focus group these ads and look at their surveys,
they are coming back.

And I don`t have access to their data but will is a political
scientist named Michael Tessler (ph). And he ran about a thousand survey
or something. What he did was he flip, gave half of them - he keep all of
them a racial resentment test. So, everybody took his four questions which
are used by political scientists which you probably know more about me to
figure out level racial resentment. And then showed half of the folks of
the ad and basically it worked with the people of racial resentment and
primed --

SHARPTON: So, it basically played into racial resentment.

KLEIN: Yes. I can`t say that the ad itself is not racist and I can`t
say they are doing it for any racist reason. What I can say is that it
works particularly well if you happen to be racist.

SHARPTON: Well, but the facts are not there.

KLEIN: The facts are not true. It is a flatly false charge. All
these things go away.

SHARPTON: Because if you look at Politifact has said, give it in a
pants on fire which is about, as bad as you can get as in terms of being
untruthful. "The Washington Post" has given it four Pinocchios.

KLEIN: Yes.

SHARPTON: So, we are not even talking about something that`s true but
has possible racial implications. We are talking about something that`s
patently false.

KLEIN: Patently false. In the rule itself, it says the waivers will
only be granted if a state can prove that it will help them make progress
towards the employment goal. And Ron Haskins, who helped write this
legislation on the Republican side, has said in "The New York Times," then
in -- my blog, this is not weakening the work requirement.

SHARPTON: Now Melissa, when Mitt Romney earlier this month was
complaining about attack ads with the president, he was talking about how
when people said things inaccurate, they would start -- let me show you
what he said and contrast that with the fact his campaign is blatantly
doubled down on what we know as facts incorrect. Listen do this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: In the past when people pointed out that something was
inaccurate, like campaigns either pulled the ads, they were embarrassed.
Today, they just blast ahead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Just blast ahead. They just blast ahead. So everyone from
"the Washington Post" across the board has established this as false. This
is not what the president is doing. And, in fact, Republican governors
that requested these waivers and as Ezra reports tonight, they double down
on this. So, this is a cynical ploy to manipulate votes.

HARRIS-PERRY: I think that could be a really good description of the
Romney campaign in general. That this is a cynical ploy to manipulate
voters. And by that, I mean, when we look over and over again at Mister
Romney`s record over the course of the past decade or even 20 years, the
shifts in his position, the shifts in his strategy and the shift in his
rhetoric, consistently appeared to be not real changes in his policy
positions. Although like you know, as Ezra pointed out, I can`t know what
has happened in his heart or mind. But these are dramatic shifts. They
happen very quickly and they seem to happen when he has either some polling
data or reason to believe historically that these sorts of changes will
bring voters to him.

I think what we ought to do, though is stop calling this a dog
whistle. Dog whistles are when -- when we can`t hear them. We are not
audible to everyone else listening.

SHARPTON: Yes. But, a dog can hear them.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, right. But in this context, everyone can hear
them. I mean, basically --

SHARPTON: But everyone is not saying what it is.

HARRIS-PERRY: That`s true but it is -- it is not because they can`t
hear them. I mean, since 1976, when Ronald Reagan created the fact, when
he was the myth of the welfare queen, welfare and race have been linked in
ways that --

SHARPTON: I would even argue before that with Barry Goldwater in `64.

HARRIS-PERRY: This is not a dog whistle. It is just a strategy. It
is just racialize (ph) strategy.

SHARPTON: Ezra, let me ask you this. When you look at the fact that
even Romney`s pollster, I mean, I heard a lot of bold statements. But
Romney`s pollster said and I`m quoting him. When they were confronted with
the fact that they were misrepresenting the truth on the president, he is -
- we are not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.

KLEIN: Or it seems by facts.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right.

SHARPTON: What`s that -- facts have nothing to do with this.

KLEIN: The facts are, I mean, with this particular ad, and this
attack, facts have nothing to doing with it. It is working and they are
going to do it. And what actually amazes me, when you played that clip
earlier, Romney, who knows better now, he`s read this and heard it and has
been confronted with the fact the ad is not true, they have decided not to
pull it as people told him it is working. Why would they have done that?

His ability to stand on a stage and blast through the fact, this is
not true, and just assert it as confidently as he does, is, to me, somewhat
remarkable in what it says about the man. I mean, there`s something that -
the desire that lack of a sense of desire to want to be truthful, to feel
ashamed when you are not being truthful. It is to me one of the more
remarkable parts of this because you rarely see ad that is --

SHARPTON: Well, we are going to see -- we are told we are going to
see it tonight starting with Rick Santorum.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes.

SHARPTON: And we will be watching and dealing with it.

Melissa Harris-Perry and Ezra Klein, thanks for joining me.

KLEIN: Thank you.

SHARPTON: And be sure to watch for Melissa Harris-Perry at 10:00 a.m.
on Saturdays and Sundays right here on MSNBC.

Coming up, the Romney/Ryan team has a Todd Akin problem. So why is
governor ultrasound speaking tonight? And the bug theme for tonight, we
built it. Yes. And entire night dedicated to distorting the president.
But President Obama made it clear what government can do for America.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Strengthen our
character, doesn`t come from shoving anybody to the sidelines. Here in
America we are greater together than we are on our own. This November, you
get to decide.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: All that, plus on the night of messaging the spotlight
shines on Chris Christie. Where is the Republican brand?

You are watching "Politics Nation" as we get ready for the Republican
convention right here on the place for politics, MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The Republicans` woman problem. How will they run from it?
That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back to "Politics Nation." You are looking live at
the floor of the Republican national convention where Virginia governor Bob
McDonnell will soon speak to a primetime audience. He is the governor who
backed a controversial bill that would have forced women to have an
invasive ultrasound before they could get an abortion.

That toxic policy is now part of the most anti-choice RNC platform in
history. The Romney campaign is trying to diffuse women`s health as an
issue in this election. Paul Ryan says that we shouldn`t worry about his
anti-choice because as president, Mitt Romney would set policy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m joining the
Romney/Ryan ticket. And the president makes policy. And the president, in
this case the future president Mitt Romney has exceptions for rape and
incest in life in a moment which is a vast improvement of where we are
right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Who me? I`ll just be the vice president. I`m not in
charge of anything. The president is in charge. Right? Funny thing is
Romney`s trying to pass the buck, too, over to the Supreme Court.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: This is the decision that will be made by the Supreme Court.
The Democrats trying to make this a political issue every four years. But
this is a matter of the courts. It has been settled for? Time in the
courts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Don`t look at me. I don`t wear a black robe or make
decisions. I`m just trying to be president. Of course, governor Romney
knows whoever wins this election will likely appoint some Supreme Court
justices and that could tip the scales for or against women`s choice once
and for all.

Joining me now is Alicia Menendez, host and producer at "Huffington
Post Live" and Erin McPike, reporter for "Real Clear Politics."

Thank you both for being here.

ALICIA MENENDEZ, HOST, HUFFPOST LIVE: Thank you.

ERIN MCPIKE, POLITICAL REPORTER, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Alicia, should Romney worry about how the women`s health
care issues will cost him votes in November?

MENENDEZ: I think it is a little late to worry. And I think
President Obama should be writing Mitt Romney a big thank you note for
stirring up the Democratic base. Listen, you know, this has been going on
for a while now starting with the fight over contraception. Most recently,
we have the Todd Akin comment. Now we have this platform coming out of the
GOP leading up to the convention that really, really stakes out a very far
right position on his views of choice.

So, we know who those issues generally inspire. White college
educated women. They emerged as a really important part of the Democratic
base. They cast about 18 percent of the ballots in the 2008 elections.
So, they are revved up, ready to go. Now, it is incumbent upon team Obama
to actually go out, register and re-register a lot of those women.

SHARPTON: Now, Erin, let me ask you when we look how unpopular the
GOP`s abortion policies are, 88 percent believe abortion should be legal
when a woman`s life is in danger, 83 percent believe positive it should be
legal when a woman`s physical life is in danger, 83 percent believe
abortion should be legal when a pregnancy is caused by rape or incest.

How can a GOP justify their support of a platform that clearly does
not have the support of the American people?

MCPIKE: Well, a lot of the Republicans who are actually voting on
this platform are some of the most far right and extreme members of the
party. You don`t hear that language coming out of the Romney campaign,
obviously. And many convention organizers and Romney campaigns I have
talked to have said look, the Republican platform is simply a piece of
paper. We are not pushing that.

And in fact, many of the convention speakers that we are going to hear
from are more moderate members of the Republican party. Tomorrow night,
Condoleezza Rice who is a pro-choice Republican woman, will be introducing
Paul Ryan. And those are some of the Republicans that Mitt Romney and his
campaign wants you to see in the next few day.

SHARPTON: So Alicia, they are saying that`s the platform of the
convention. That`s what we stand for but we don`t agree with it. In fact,
even governor Romney`s trying to soften his stance on abortion by trying to
add language.

Let me show you a statement that he made where he`s kind of softening
his position, Alicia. Look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: My position has been clear throughout this campaign. I`m in
favor of abortion being legal in the case of rape, incest and health and
welfare of the mother.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He said he always believed in exemptions in the case of
rape and incest and the life of the mother. But now, he is adding the
health of the mother as a reason. Is this just the latest flip-flop or is
he trying to soften his position and give a little more room here for
moderation?

MENENDEZ: The flip that came before the flop came before the flip.
You will remember when this man was governor of Massachusetts; he had a
very pro-choice stance on this issue. And so, yes, this is a softening we
are seeing once again because Mitt Romney`s no dummy. He knows in order to
win the general election; he needs to not be talking about this issue,
period. But he needs to definitely stake out a much more moderate stance
on it.

He would like to pivot as quickly back to economics as possible. And
his party is not allowing him to do that. You know, there is a new poll
out from PPP that shows 83 percent of registered voters know about Todd
Akin`s comments.

It is hard to break through with anything in politics with that type
of awareness numbers. They know they have a problem on their hand. They
are trying to get away from it as quickly as possible.

SHARPTON: Now, Erin, when you look at the newspaper ad, it says that
-- Democrats would -- are using the Akin controversy to their advantage,
they put out an ad in the Tampa tribune today that ties Akin to the
Romney/Ryan ticket. The tag line reads taking away a woman`s decision any
way they `kin. I guess -- pun intended. Is this a winning strategy in
your opinion for the Democrats? Tying him to Akin?

MCPIKE: Well, the Democrats want to remind voters of that over the
next 70 days, of course. Now I will tell you this, the hurricane that`s
hitting New Orleans in the next day or so has really taken the wind out of
the sails of some of that issue.

We are not hearing much about Todd Akin here in Tampa. But the
Democrats, of course, want to remind voters about it because it is a good
issue for them and shows that the president is more on the side of women
and that`s of course, a winning issue for the Democrats this fall.

SHARPTON: Even Paul Ryan, Alicia, has tried to walk away and re-
define what he said in some legislation that he offered. Let me show you
what Paul Ryan said in response to a question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN: This is language that was language used for lots of different
bills. Bills I didn`t author. And that language was removed to be very
clear. I agree with that. Removing that language so we are very clear.
Rape is rape, period, end of story.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The language was forcible rape and he says it was just a
stock answer like a stock photo. Forcible rape, stock answer.

MENENDEZ: Ryan is so meticulous and is so careful about policy and I
think he`s someone you actually feel has his hands in the policy he is
writing. This is not just an honest mistake. This was something they
thought would fly under the radar that would go undetected that wouldn`t
become an issue and now is becoming a major issue in this campaign. And it
is the type of issue that regardless of where you are on the fundamental
questions of a woman`s right to choose control over her own body, over her
own family`s health and medical procedures, all Americans agree that rape
is rape. That what was said by Todd Akin was disgusting, unacceptable and
it is really sad to see that Paul Ryan and other congressional Republicans
would let language like this fly.

SHARPTON: I have to hold you there. Thank you very much, Alicia
Menendez and Erin McPike. I thank you both of you for your time.

MCPIKE: Thank you.

MENENDEZ: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, the entire theme for tonight`s convention is
based on a distortion. Amazing. And two Ohio election officials fired
today after calling for more voting. We need to watch what`s going on in
Ohio.

You are watching "Politics Nation" as we get ready for the Republican
convention right here on the place for politics, MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We are back with the latest in the fight against the
national GOP effort to suppress the vote.

Today in Ohio, two Montgomery county election officials have been
fired for trying to extend early voting in their state. After taking
control of the state house in 2010, Republicans passed a law ending weekend
voting in the state. And secretary of the state, John Hosted upheld that
law with the ruling earlier this month limiting all counties to weekday
voting.

When challenged on the limitation, fellow Republican Doug Preisse
said, quote, "we shouldn`t contort the voting process to accommodate the
urban -- read African-American-voter-turn-out machine. Let`s be fair and
reasonable," end of quote. That was shocking talk.

But election officials Dennis Lieberman and Thomas Ritchie recognized
the importance of weekend voting and decided to allow weekend voting
anyway. And today, John Husted fired them for it. Lieberman and Ritchie
joined us on the show last night. Here is what they said when I asked if
they were prepared to be fired.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DENNIS LIEBERMAN, OHIO ELECTIONS OFFICIAL: I am. It is 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.

THOMAS RITCHIE, OHIO ELECTIONS OFFICIAL: In 2008, we had 28,732
people participate in early vote here in Montgomery County. And all we
were attempting to do was give the voters the right to vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: All they were trying to do is give voters more
opportunities to vote and they were fired for it. It is shameful. But we
are going to continue to fight for them and to protect the vote around the
country. We have all come too far to let anyone turn us around and turn us
back now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back to our live coverage of the Republican
National Convention where Mitt Romney has been officially nominated by his
party. And the team of today`s convention is called "We Built It." Get
it?

Tonight`s theme is their continued distortion of President Obama`s
comment about business owners. And here it is. A "We Built It" theme as
in government has played no role whatsoever in helping businesses get off
the ground. That`s right. Forget stimulus money. Forget infrastructure.
Forget public workers. The GOP says we built it. And they are even going
to play a song to drive the point home.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

No help from Uncle Sam, you heard him. Who needs that middleman? Cut
him out. I`m kidding. But this gets to the central debate in this
election. The role of government. The GOP wants to trim it back at all
cost. No matter how important it is. Even if millions depend on it. Just
a short time ago, the -- that GOP party approved a platform that end
Medicare as we know it. Even though nearly 50 million Americans rely on
it. To them, government is a problem. Just listen to Congressman Ryan
talk about government help.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We don`t want to turn the
safety net into a hammock that allows able bodied people into lives of
dependency & complacency.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: A hammock? That`s what the GOP ticket thinks about
government? That`s why they are so been on cutting away what they think
would beat government? They think we are better on our own even on things
like health care? That`s the choice in this election. And this President
knows it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: We promise that sometime
between taking the oath of office and going to the inaugural ball, he`d sit
right down and grab a pen and kick seven million young people off their
parents` plan by repealing health reform. Maybe we should call his plan
Romney doesn`t care.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

Because I do care. I do care. Strength of our character doesn`t come
from shoving anybody to the sidelines. Here in America, we are greater
together than we are on our own. And this November you get to decide.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: America, the choice is clear. And you do get to decide.
Joining me now is David Corn, Washington Bureau chief of Mother Jones, and
an MSNBC political analyst. And Dana Milbank, columnist for "The
Washington Post." Thank you both for being here this evening.

DANA MILBANK, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Hi, Reverend.

DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: Good evening.

SHARPTON: David, let me start with you. Is Medicare a winner for the
Romney/Ryan ticket? I mean, they do seem to think so.

CORN: Well, they do. And they -- you know, put out these campaign
ads that you have talked about that have been untrue about Barack Obama
cutting $716 billion out of Medicare in the future. But I have to admit I
was puzzled by the Ryan choice because I think it really keeps Medicare in
play and in a way that`s advantageous to the Democrats. I think most
Americans -- I mean, I think I will speak for myself. You know. They talk
about the -- Ryan plan not affecting anyone under the -- over the age of
55. I`m close to 55.

I won`t say exactly how close but, you know, in 15 years from now, I
really don`t want to be juggling different insurance plans and trying to
figure out which insurance company may cheat me the less when I`m -- maybe
dealing with some serious health issues. I think certainly in Florida and
Ohio, now the swing states there is a good elderly population, it is -- or
near elderly population, like people like Dana and I, it`s going to be a
very hard sell.

I think it gives the Obama campaign yet another opening. They are not
running against the house republican budget now. They are running against
the house republican presidential ticket. Which is what the White House
wants to do.

SHARPTON: Well, Dana, but it seems like some of the GOP leaders are
running scared from these drastic changes including Speaker Boehner. You
know, yesterday here`s what Boehner said about the Romney/Ryan approach.
I`m quoting him. "I`m sure there will be other ideas about how you save
Medicare, all of those will be part of the big policy debate we have next
year. And it will come next year regardless of who wins the election." It
will come next year, a big debate, but he is supporting a ticket that would
end Medicare as we know it. So it seems like he is trying to back away
from this, Dana.

MILBANK: Well, I think John Boehner is a smart politician and a bit
more sensible than some others are in the party right now. You can find
polls and cut polls in various different ways and say well, maybe it is not
hurting the Republicans as much as you would expect. But it is hurting
them in some fundamental ways and the best they can do on this is play to a
tire, play to less disadvantage. The larger issue here is Republicans are
in a position of doing these sorts of budget cuts, whether it is Medicare,
whether it is the other programs, that`s going to hurt their own base the
most.

We did a study at the post and looked at the reddest states for every
dollar they pay in taxes they get back $1.50 from the government. The blue
states get back much less. So, they are in a strange position of the cuts
they are actually advocate are going to hurt their own base the most.

SHARPTON: Now, they also -- in a bind, David, on the disaster funding
because of Hurricane Isaac. Congressman Ryan tried to eliminate $10
billion in funding and has said he wants disaster aid offset by other cuts.
That`s quite a bind dealing with Hurricane Isaac this week.

CORN: Yes. But it just goes to the larger question that -- that Dana
alluded to. Well, which is, what is the function of government? What`s
the perspective of the view of government? And each of these two parties
are presidential campaigns. If you talk to the people here behind us, when
-- when they come back, they would already point to government as the
enemy. I mean, you can all -- there are people -- they`re on Medicare,
people out there who need disaster relief, people that get flood
insurance, federal flood insurance programs.

There`s all this stuff there. But they still see government as the
enemy, as the problem. As the cause of our economic problems. Put Wall
Street aside. Barack Obama, the Democrats, look to government as a way to
counter the excesses of corporate America and deal with things like
Hurricane Isaac or Hurricane Katrina. And -- that`s really fundamental
argument and as the hurricane descends upon the United States once again, I
think it -- certainly puts the democratic view into a better position than
-- does Romney want to come out there and talk like he`s an Ayn Rand
advocate this week and say that people should basically fend for themselves
as the hurricane hits Louisiana or wherever it makes landfall?

SHARPTON: But Dana, you know, strange that he talks about offsetting
other things in the budget to pay for relief like hurricanes. But he
didn`t care about offsetting things like $3 trillion in tax breaks to the
rich and corporations or the $228 billion increase in the defense spending.
So we don`t need to offset tax breaks to the rich but we need to offset
emergency relief for hurricanes.

MILBANK: Yes. It is funny how it works out that way. And often,
these sorts of the tough talk about offsetting disaster relief will happen
when it is not hurricane season. And this is sort of like clockwork. You
see with the hurricanes, you see with earthquakes, you saw it with the BP
oil spill, suddenly all these anti-government conservatives are saying,
hey, why is it the government helping us out some more down here? It is
the same phenomenon of the people saying, you know, get the government`s
hands off my Medicare when in fact, when they get into a difficult position
as unfortunately the people of the Gulf Coast are about to be in, suddenly
even the anti-government conservatives want their government.

SHARPTON: David, you know, the politics of this is not good for them
when you look at the fact that according to polling, 80 percent of
Democrats, 74 percent of independents, and even 61 percent of Republicans,
these are most voters across all party lines say, Medicare is extremely or
very important in how they will vote for president.

CORN: Well, I think that`s true. I mean, I think Mitt Romney, when
he gets into a conversation about changing the Medicare system, moves away
from his best-selling point. Which is the economy is not that -- is not as
strong as anybody wants it to be. Barack Obama hasn`t made it better than
it is. And I can do better. You don`t know whether he can do better or
not but that`s his best-selling point. If we get into a big debate whether
the Medicare is going to throw seniors, you know, to the wolves, I think
Dana is exactly right. Best he can fight to a draw or tie on that. And
from where I sit, just from political perspective, I think that would be
very difficult for Mitt Romney and the Republicans.

SHARPTON: David Corn and Dana Milbank, thanks for your time this
evening.

CORN: Sure thing.

MILBANK: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Coming up, get ready to hear more plays for GOP hero Ronald
Reagan at the convention. But here`s a question. Where did Reagan`s party
go? And on the 49th anniversary of Martin Luther King`s I have a dream
speech, we are seeing an attack on welfare. The Republican Party is going
after what his march stood for. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We are back with a pause from the political battles of the
day. A time to rest, relax and recharge. That`s right. It is time for
the POLITICS NATION`s summer break. We begin tonight with a hard-headed
karate student. This guy just can`t break the wood with his signature head
butt. He won`t give up. He`s been at it for days now.

That`s got to hurt. Sort of how those Ron Paul supporters are feeling
these days. Now to a tailgating party on a beautiful day. And it looks
like the wind is picking up. There goes the tents. They are flying all
across the parking lot. Those folks immediate to run faster. It is crazy
out there. Must be from all of that republican hot air. And that`s
today`s summer break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Tonight, the spotlight is on the GOP`s tough talking rock
star. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Picking him for the keynote
speech says a lot about the republican brand. But just what is the
republican brand these days?

Joining me now is Chris Hayes, host of "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES" here on
MSNBC. He`s also author of the new book "Twilight of the Elites." Chris,
thanks for your time tonight.

CHRIS HAYES, HOST, "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES": Good to be here.

SHARPTON: This convention comes after a very tough contentious
primary season and here we are with Chris Christie. Where is the GOP brand
today?

HAYES: The reason that Chris Christie is attractive to the GOP
establishment is he manages to fuse two things together which is a hard
trick to pull off. As we are seeing in the era of Todd Akin and Paul Ryan
in HR3 which is this. The establishment of the GOP, the big money people,
want the party to talk about economic issues and focus less on social
issues. Right? They understand that increasingly they`re on the wrongs
side of the American public on a lot of the cultural issues they have been
pursuing for years.

Chris Christie offers that model and yet the problem is most people
that have those sorts of politics don`t do enough to satisfy the base.

SHARPTON: Right.

HAYES: But because Chris Christie is such a bully, because he is so
combative, that affect of his, that way of conducting himself endears him
to the base even though on certain issues, on -- things like gay rights and
cultural issues, he doesn`t seem to share their --

SHARPTON: So, his substance is more moderate than his style so --

HAYES: Well, only --

SHARPTON: So, his style is relation -- is -- has a relationship with
the base whereas what he saying the party boss is kind of light.

HAYES: I will say, this is only on cultural and social issues, right?
He is not kind of crusading evangelical Christian, for instance.

SHARPTON: Right.

HAYES: On economic issues he is far to the right as the entire --

SHARPTON: Right. And anti-labor and all of that.

HAYES: And what you have seen is, look, the one thing you can count
on the Republican Party to pursue, above all else, and you look at the
actual rhetoric, the record and get rid of the rhetoric, is tax cuts for
people with a lot of money.

SHARPTON: Right.

HAYES: That`s the thing that`s is --

SHARPTON: And he --

HAYES: And that is something he`s pursued.

SHARPTON: In a Ralph Kramden kind of way. I`m not talking about his
size. But his bullying and pushing art Carney around. But let me ask you
this. He has the speech tonight that some are saying President Obama, then
Senator Obama, had that slightly democratic side 2004 and he`s launched
him.

HAYES: Yes.

SHARPTON: And I remember that that was the year I`m in. I was there
that night. But President then Senator Obama was a poet. Chris Christie`s
a bully. There is a huge difference in a bully and a poet to the broad
television audience. Let`s forget the people in the convention center.

HAYES: That`s right.

SHARPTON: And forget the party loyalists ask bosses. But to John Q.
and Mary Q. Public watching tonight in TV land, that was impressed with
Barack Obama, they are going to be looking at him much differently than in
that hall tonight.

HAYES: That`s a great point. The core of Barack Obama`s political
appeal as the keynote speaker in that speech was the fact that he seemed to
rebuke to the nastiness and combativeness of politics. Chris Christie
seems to revel in the nastiness and combativeness.

SHARPTON: Exactly.

HAYES: Now it is a question of whether that`s what he is going to
show to the nation tonight or he`s going to be a bit more positive, a bit
more upbeat. I also think Christie tends to excel, you know, the thing
that he loves to do and the thing that has made him a YouTube star and star
of the party are these town hall and propositional events where he goes one
on one with constituencies. This is much more of a set piece that remains
to be seen --

SHARPTON: Yes, there`s no interchange here. And you guys to stand
flat-footed and give what you have as an orator. It`s also very
interesting that we are not seeing as a lot of the Republicans in Congress.
And giving the low, low, low record low ratings they are getting in polls.
I suppose that might explain why we are not seeing the Congress Republicans
brought out here.

HAYES: I have to hand it to whoever scheduled the programming for
tonight. They did this, if you handed me the roster of the Republican
Party and said, how to put together a night that will represent the party
in just -- from a perspective of diversity in the best possible light, it
would essentially look like this. You have Governor Sandoval, from Nevada
who is very popular there. Also pro-choice so he can basically never --

Cruise is an incredibly accomplished speaker -- nine times. So this -
- they have done a smart job in terms of the programming. Of course, if
you break down and look at the delegates, right, the party --
infrastructure remains overwhelmingly white. In a nation that as we know
is becoming more and more diverse. And that`s a fundamental issue deep in
the heart of the demographic fate of the party in the political view.

SHARPTON: Now, when you have Cruise and you have Scott Walker and you
have this kind of blend, they are trying to give a more moderate image than
the party`s platform which could have been written by the most extreme
right winger and some of the contentious right wing we heard in the primary
season.

HAYES: Yes. I would say this. I think you will hear relatively
extreme rhetoric from the podium tonight but it will all be on the issues
of the economy, debt, deficit, jobs, things like that. I think you are
more or less going to see them stay away from gay marriage, for instance.

SHARPTON: All right. Well, Chris Hayes, thank you for being here
tonight. And of course, we will be watching you on weekends and you and I
will be together as we cover in a few minutes the whole convention. We
will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We are just minutes away from MSNBC`s special coverage of
the Republican National Convention. This whole week we will all be
watching as Mitt Romney reintroduces himself and his party to the American
people. As he says who he is and what his plans are important the nation.

Tonight`s speeches come on the 49th anniversary of one of the most
important speeches in our history. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.`s famous, I
have a dream speech.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR., (JANUARY 15, 1929-APRIL 4, 1968): I have a
dream that one day this nation will rise up, live up to the true meaning of
its creed. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are
created equal.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: King called for the country to fulfill his great promise.
That was the portrait of the moment. But as we remember his words, let us
also remember what else happened back then. The speech was part of a huge
event. A march organized by A. Philip Randolph, the African-American labor
leader. It was a march for jobs and justice that brought together many
labor leaders. The message of the day was one of social justice and
economic fairness, are demand for civil rights bill to end discrimination,
to protect voting and a call for federal jobs programs.

Now, 49 years later, the Republican Party has gone after the very
coalition that put together that march. And many of those priorities. We
will be watching with the Romney Republican Party said this week. But we
must be ready to stand strong against what they do after this week. Forty
nine years later, it is least we can do.

Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. MSNBC`s special coverage of
the Republican National Convention starts now.

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

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