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PoliticsNation, Friday, August 31, 2012

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August 31, 2012

Guests: Margie Omero, E.J. Dionne, Joe Madison, Dana Milbank, Krystal Ball

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

OK. We`ll get to you, Mister Eastwood. Later in the show. Yes, I
know you have a lot of explaining to do. Can I do my show? We`re on the
air now. Come on. Did you have a good flight? We`ll get to you.

But let`s start with tonight`s lead. Party is over. Republicans had
their week. Now Democrats are punching back. It began today with vice
president Biden speaking to workers in Ohio where he took aim at the GOP
ticket including the false statements made by Paul Ryan.


Ryan on Wednesday night in a stirring speech blame the closing of a GM
plant in his hometown of Janesville on the president of the United States.
What he didn`t tell you is the plant in Janesville actually closed when
President Bush was still in office. What they didn`t say. But for the
sacrifices you all made and the courage of the president of the United
States, all those GM plants would be closed. Here, all across the country.


SHARPTON: The vice president also went after Ryan for voting for all
the Bush policies that exploded the deficit.


BIDEN: He supported not paying for two wars. He supported not paying
for the drug benefit. He supported a ridiculous tax cut for the very

How do they think we went from a surplus and the middle class doing
well to by the time we came in office, this disaster. As my little 6-year-
old, 7-year-old granddaughter would say, pop, did Casper the ghost do that?
I mean, who did it? How did we get here?


SHARPTON: This is all part of a broader democratic counterattack
already underway. Today, the Obama campaign is out with a new ad hitting
Romney for all the facts he omitted from his speech and all the facts he
twisted. And they`re promising to make it part of their critique at next
week`s convention in charlotte where preps are already underway.

Between now and then, President Obama and vice president Biden will be
in full campaign mode traveling to seven swing states. And they`re also
getting some help from Mitt Romney. He`s already famous for saying that
corporations are people. Well, listen to what he said today.


Washington works. We will reach across the aisle and find good people who
like us, want to make sure this company deals with its challenges. We`ll
get America on track again.


SHARPTON: You hear that? Romney slipped up and said America was a
company. Not a country. Now, it was quick, so here it is again.


ROMNEY: We`ll make sure this company deals with its challenges.
We`ll get America on track again.


SHARPTON: Corporations are people and now America is a company?
Romney`s latest blunder gets to the heart of the difference between him and
the president.


opposed to the head of a private equity firm, your job is not simply to
maximize profits. Your job is to figure out how everybody in the country
has a fair shot.


SHARPTON: So Democrats are fighting back. One thing I can guarantee
you, though, nobody`s going to be talking to an empty chair down in

Joining me now is Melissa Harris-Perry host of the "Melissa Harris-
Perry" show on MSNBC. And Krystal Ball, co-host of "the cycle" also on

Thanks for joining me tonight.

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

SHARPTON: Melissa. So now, Romney says America`s a company. How
does that set Democrats up for the counterattack?

mean. I think we have to be careful about going too much after slips. But
I think the corporation and company piece, but also the way that Romney
talks about what America is or what his role as president would be tells us
that that was a slip, but it was a Freudian one.

SHARPTON: Correct.

HARRIS-PERRY: It was one that revealed sort of his understanding
about what the role of a president is. He`s not really running for
president. He`s running for CEO and as we heard President Obama say there,
the fundamental difference is you`re not trying to maximize profits as a
president. You are doing the work of ensuring the American people earn
circumstances of equality and opportunity.

SHARPTON: And Krystal, it is a slip. And we all slip. But I think
it also crystallizes the difference between the two campaigns. That`s why
I wanted to play it back. Because it`s really showed the difference as
well as the fact that at least we show his sleeps. They take things that
were never said and twist it. He at least said this. But let`s deal with
some of the substance of what happened.

BALL: Sure.

SHARPTON: Vice president Biden also took aim at Ryan and Romney`s
budget plan. Take a listen to this.


BIDEN: I love this. They call their plan new, bold, and gutsy.
Well, guys, in the neighborhood I grew up in, the place I come from there`s
nothing gutsy about giving another trillion dollars in tax breaks to
millionaires. There`s nothing bold -- there`s nothing bold about turning
Medicare into a voucher system. There`s nothing bold about kicking 19
million kids and elderly off of Medicaid with no place else to go.


BALL: I mean, that`s exactly right. And I think one of they have
notable absences from the convention this week as we kept hearing from
Chris Christie and Paul Ryan in particular that they were going to be the
teller of hard truths, right? They were going to bring the bad news to the
American people and tell them the hard truths that nobody else was.

But you don`t actually hear them talking about what is actually in
their plan. Because the fact of the matter is, if they actually lay out
their positions as the vice president did right there, and that was not
spin. That was just actually what`s in their plan, the American people
want nothing to do with it. It`s incredibly unpopular, so they can`t do

And one note on the Romney company thing. I think in the abstract
people feel like having a businessman in political office, that makes
sense. But it rankled when he calls America a company.


BALL: And it kind a does, as you were saying, crystallizes this idea
having a CEO as president, that actually doesn`t make sense. The bottom
line in America is not profit. We`re about so much more than that.

SHARPTON: Yes. And when you look at the fact, Melissa, that Mitt
Romney`s speech last night, I listened intently. And not a single word
about Social Security. Not one time. Welfare, Medicaid, finance reform,
Romney care. He didn`t even mention Afghanistan or Iraq.

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, you know what I was remembering was I was
transported back to 2008 and the Denver convention speech. And I can
remember there had been so much criticism of then candidate Obama, senator
Obama, and they kept saying he just wants hope and change but what does
that mean. And I can remember that in that Denver convention speech. And
if you go back and look at it, he lays out when I say hope and change, this
is what I mean.

SHARPTON: Absolutely.

HARRIS-PERRY: A, b, c, d, and he walks you through the policy. Now,
you can decide as someone listening if you agree with that policy, whether
or not you support it. But there is no way that he walks away from it.
This candidate, on the other hand, rather than bringing any of that not
only brought things that I think are just false, for example, saying that
we are less safe now as a country than we were when President Obama took

That is not only I think a false statement. It strikes me as so
deeply unpatriotic to suggest that our country is currently vulnerable in
world affairs. It`s the sort of thing I think we wouldn`t allow, for
example, from a Democrat speaking in that manner.

SHARPTON: But we would say we were compromising ourselves with our

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. It was appalling in a way that I just thought
wait a minute. That is simply not OK.

SHARPTON: But what about next week? The DNC conference, they have
two official themes. Building a stronger middle class and the election is
a choice for the country`s direction. What do you think, Krystal, we
should expect from the DNC next week?

BALL: Well, I think where the Romney campaign was intentionally
vague, I think we will see more specifics from the president. And I think
that`s really important. Because the American people need to know what
would a second term in office look like. And I also think he needs to
reassure the American people that yes, there was a congressional log jam
this time around and it was very frustrating. Here`s how we`ll get past
that and be able to move the country forward. I think that`s tremendously

I wouldn`t -- one word of caution. The whole Clint Eastwood thing
last night which I know, you know, maybe we`ll talk more about later, but I
would caution on being too snarky and making too many jokes in the
convention about that moment. You know, there`s a danger there of
appearing condescending. So, I hope they will just leave that --

SHARPTON: No. They can leave all the snarkyness to me.


SHARPTON: Let me say this, Melissa. When you look at -- one of the
things and you said that it disturbed you when they talked about we`re not
as safe and I totally agree with you. Another thing that I really don`t
agree with is when the statement was made that we felt good about voting
for him and haven`t felt good since. Well, a lot of people have felt good
since. I felt good. We signed a health care bill. I felt good with the
Lily Ledbetter bill. I felt good when he stood up and made his opinion.
There was a lot of good feelings.

BALL: I felt good about don`t ask, don`t tell.

HARRIS-PERRY: I tell you, that line if I`m Obama for America 2012.
I`m like thank you for that campaign commercial.


HARRIS-PERRY: Because all you got to do is take that line, that line
from Romney`s speech where he says if you felt good then, shouldn`t you
feel just as good now. And the commercial is just one after the other
after the other of all the things that you that you clip. But, that`s
exactly -- the whole point of the president is not an empty chair. He is
an actual human being and he is the president of the United States. It
doesn`t matter whether or not he ever ran a lemonade stand. He`s run the
United States of America for the past four years and he has a record of
accomplishments. And this convention, Charlotte, is going to be about
talking about all the things that people can and do feel good about.

SHARPTON: Well, that bothered me. And I will talk later in the show
about the other narrow definition of success.


SHARPTON: They got in this super narrow definition of what success is
all about.

Krystal, we will be seeing you a little later in the show.

Melissa Harris-Perry, thank you for your time and have a great Labor
Day weekend. And be sure to watch "Melissa Harris-Perry" Saturdays and
Sundays at 10:00 a.m. here on MSNBC.

Coming up, a major victory today for President Obama and the equality
fight for your voting rights that we`ve been fighting here.

Plus, he laughed, he cried, he fibbed. But his one major goal last
night was to make people like him. Did it work?

And then there`s this.


CLINT EASTWOOD, ACTOR: What do you want me to tell Romney? I can`t
tell him to do that. Can`t do that to himself? You`re absolutely crazy.


SHARPTON: Yes, it really did happen. And you won`t believe how
Romney`s aides are throwing Clint Eastwood under the bus today. He joins
us to tell us what in the world he was thinking.

It`s "Politics Nation" exclusive. You`re watching "Politics Nation"


SHARPTON: Coming up, a big win today for democracy and President
Obama`s fight for voter rights is working. Big news out of Ohio. Stay
with us.


SHARPTON: Welcome back to "Politics Nation."

Last night, Governor Romney faced the most important test of his
political career. He had to connect with voters, humanize himself and
narrow the enormous likability gap between himself and the president. His
speech was part of an effort that included hiring madmen to sell his story
to the nation. Even the convention itself has attempted to do something
that a year of campaigning has failed to do, paint a revealing portrait of
who Mitt Romney is.

Last night was all part of that effort, but we did see more emotion
from him than we have in the past.


ROMNEY: Every day, dad gave mom a rose which he put on her bedside
table. That`s how she found out on the day my father died. She went
looking for him because that morning there was no rose. My mom and dad
were true partners. A life lesson that shaped me by everyday example.


SHARPTON: But did last night and did this week do enough?

Joining me now from Charlotte is Jonathan Capehart, an opinion writer
for "the Washington Post" and an MSNBC contributor and Margie Omero,
Democratic strategist.

Thank you both for being here.



SHARPTON: Jonathan, you were there last night. Did Romney succeed in
selling himself to the American people?

CAPEHART: I`m not sure. I mean, you can`t sell yourself to the
American people on your likability when you know that you are -- the latest
poll shows he`s the least popular nominee of either party in the past 30
years. This is something he should have been working on over the last six
years he`s been running for president.

You can`t change those likability numbers with one speech. Although
we did see some, you know, glimpses of humanity, some glimpses showing us
that, you know, family really feels -- is the fuel behind this guy. But
I`m not sure if it`s going to be enough to turn at least his likability
issue for him around in time for November 6th.

SHARPTON: Well, let me go to you for a minute. I want to ask you
something, Jonathan, but Margie, let me put this in context.

"The New York Times" has a piece today where makes the case that
voters emotional connection with the president may be central to his
election. Let me read in part what it says.

It says, Romney still needs to tackle the harder job of convincing
those Americans who are so emotionally invested their hearts in President
Obama four years ago that it is time to accept that his presidency didn`t
work. Let go of him and move on. A large portion of wavering voters
maintain a personal attachment to Mister Obama and a tentative willingness
to give him more time to get it right.

That emotional attachment is the thing that I think Mister Romney was
trying to go after. Do you think he was at all effective?

OMERO: I think there was some nice moments in the speech. I loved
the story about his parents and the rose. Ultimately, though, Romney has
been unfavorable since January. I mean, really, a pretty sizable gap. And
before that, it bounced around. But he`s been net unfavorable for a month.
So, it`s not like he can do one speech and that`s it and now, you know,
it`s all going to be OK. I mean, it`s a very big pattern to overcome.
It`s a thing he got to maintain until November.

And the other thing about that clip you just read, it`s not just about
an emotional connection only either. It`s also about who -- which
candidate has the policies that can really speak to the middle class and
Romney didn`t adjust that at all in the speech. And it`s something that
whether you address it in the speech clearly that`s not where his positions

SHARPTON: Now Jonathan, there was a video, a biographical video on
president -- presidential candidate Romney that was shown last night that
did not make primetime. I thought it was very effective.


SHARPTON: I thought that had it made primetime, it would have done a
lot for him. Let me show a clip of that because most Americans didn`t see
this last night.


MITT ROMNEY: Hi. Oh, Craig, don`t squirt me.

ANN ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY`S WIFE: I hate to say it, but often I had
more than five sons. I had six sons.

MITT ROMNEY: How you doing knuckle snorts?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was really playful.

MITT ROMNEY: You know. You know.

ANN ROMNEY: Mitt would walk in the door after work, leave the
briefcase at the door, that was it. Never thought about work again until
he left for work in the morning.


SHARPTON: I mean, that video showed a real human side of him with the
kids and grand kids. Really, really kind of made him a real human being.


SHARPTON: And why they opted to put Clint Eastwood on rather than the
video on when they went primetime in terms of the networks. I mean, I
heard someone say this morning was campaign malpractice. It was crazy.

CAPEHART: It was a bad move. I wrote a piece earlier this afternoon
that said what would have been so much better was to have -- was to get rid
of Clint Eastwood altogether. Have Marco Rubio give his fine speech and
have the ending of the speech set up in a way the video. Then have the
video played which I agree with you was incredibly effective. I thought it
was powerful and really did show you aspects of Mitt Romney that you`ve
never seen before.

Could you imagine Mitt Romney coming on to the stage at the end of
that video? The roof would have been blown off the Tampa Bay Times Forum
if that had happened. And they didn`t do that. They squandered a major


CAPEHART: And by the time he gave his speech and the balloons fell, I
mean really, the enthusiasm in the convention hall was just not there. It
felt like the kind of, you know, a party you would go to for a co-worker
that you kind of liked and you thought was nice, but you didn`t really
admire the person or love the person. You know, there was no feeling

SHARPTON: Well, that`s probably how you behave. I don`t go to
parties with people who feel like that.

But Margie, let me ask you this. Jonathan mentioned Rubio. One of
the things that I noticed is that most of the main speakers spoke more
about themselves than they did Romney which also feeds into likability.
I`ve never seen a convention where everyone was, like, casting their own
biographical sketch in front of the public other than maybe Ann Romney.

Do you think we`ll see that mistake at the democratic convention? Or
there will be a lot more strict and a lot more on message in terms of
President Obama, his record, and what the policies represent?

OMERO: Well, I would like to think that the Democratic convention,
you will see more speakers on message. Certainly when you have a lot of
different speakers, there`s some unpredictability on both conventions.

I think, ultimately, you are going to see at the Democratic convention
people talking about the clear difference between the two candidates and
some specifics about what it means for the middle class. And the middle
class, you know, unlike what you heard at the Republican convention, the
middle class really blames corporations, Congress very specifically, big
banks, and President Bush more than they blame Obama. There was a pew poll
last week that showed that. I think you are going to see those things
mentioned in the convention this week.

SHARPTON: Jonathan Capehart and Margie Omero, thank you for your time
tonight. Have a great holiday weekend.

CAPEHART: Thanks a lot, Rev.

OMERO: Thank you. You too.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, Governor Romney picked up right where Ryan
left off, the distortion and deceit went primetime again. But Democrats
are keeping him honest today.


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

Today, our fans were talking about what else? Clint Eastwood`s chair

Elle says, bizarre doesn`t begin to describe that speech.

Jenny thinks the empty chair won the debate with Eastwood.

And Harry says if a Romney presidency is anything like the way they
produce primetime TV, we all should be afraid.

What did you think of the chair tactics? We want to know. Head over
to facebook and search "Politics Nation" and like us to join the
conversation that keeps going long after the show ends.


SHARPTON: Governor Romney`s speech last night was long on rhetoric,
but short on truth. He just couldn`t help himself from telling some of the
GOP`s favorite fictions about the President.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And let me make this very
clear. Unlike President Obama, I will not raise taxes on the middle class
of America.


SHARPTON: He`s wrong. Since President Obama took office, he`s
actually cut taxes for 160 million middle class Americans. Then Romney
trotted out another fake talking point. The President`s so-called apology


ROMNEY: I will begin my presidency with a jobs tour. President Obama
began his presidency with an apology tour.


ROMNEY: "The Washington Post" gave him four Pinocchios for that one.
Quote, "The claim that Obama repeatedly has apologized for the United
States is not borne out by the facts the apology tour never happened," end
of quote. And finally it`s not a GOP event unless someone brings up


ROMNEY: His $716 billion cut to Medicare to finance Obamacare will
both hurt today`s seniors and depress innovation and jobs in medicine.


SHARPTON: Never mind that those cuts are coming from insurance
companies or that Paul Ryan keeps those exact cuts in his own budget. The
GOP doesn`t care how many times their facts get debunked, they`re a broken
record that keeps playing the same old song.

Joining me now is E.J. Dionne, columnist for "The Washington Post" and
an MSNBC contributor. He writes about all this in his column today. And
Joe Madison, nationally syndicated radio host of "Mornings with Madison."


SHARPTON: Let me thank both of you first for being here tonight.

MADISON: Thank you very much.

E.J. DIONNE, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Good to be with you.

SHARPTON: E.J., can Romney really run a campaign based on things that
just aren`t true?

DIONNE: Well, I certainly hope not. And, you know, I think first of
all, all of us ought to have a rule left right and center. People ought to
believe in their case enough that they don`t have to make stuff up to
advance it. And I think what`s going on here is, on a lot of these issues,
they don`t actually want to say where they`re coming from. They`re
perfectly respectable arguments. I disagree with them.

But they`re respectable arguments for their voucherizing of Medicare.
But they don`t want to acknowledge that that`s what they`re doing. So,
instead they talk about these phony cuts, this phony stuff about Obama
cuts. In the Ryan speech, he talked about a plant shut in Janesville under
Obama. GM announced that they were closing that plant in June of 2008.
Well, they don`t want to talk about the auto rescue, because that has been
very successful. And Mitt Romney opposed it.

But I think there`s a real challenge here to journalism. Because the
Romney campaign is going to keep trying to push these things. Mainstream
journalists are going to have to push back and say no, this isn`t true.
And they`re going to try to say, well, this is just liberals attacking us.
Well, facts aren`t liberal. Facts are facts.


DIONNE: And I think the people are going to have to keep pushing

SHARPTON: Well, Joe, Ryan did say that this plant closed in
Janesville. Let me show you what he said.



plant, candidate Obama said, I believe that if our government is there to
support you, this plant will be here for another hundred years. That`s
what he said in 2008. Well, as it turned out that plant didn`t last
another year.


SHARPTON: No, the plant was closed later that year. They announced
it was closed later that year under George Bush to Mr. Obama was not
inaugurated until January of `09. It was announced closed in December of
`08. And let me show you a photo of the closing plant workers who had
their closing party kissing and hugging each other good-bye on December
23rd, 2008. They only did some idling for a few months. But the plant was
closed, GM had closed it. This is a blatant lie, Joe Madison.

MADISON: Not only is it a blatant lie, but you can also as you`ve
probably done on your radio show, I`ve done on mine, have the people from
Janesville call in. Look at the headlines of the Janesville local
newspaper. What did they say?


MADISON: What date did they say? It is all right there and at least
those journalists in Janesville know the truth. But here`s the other thing
that they don`t want you to know. It`s not so much what they say in their
lie as much as what they don`t say. What they don`t say is that Bain
Capital and equity firm didn`t want to bail out General Motors. Not a
single private equity firm wanted to touch General Motors.

The President took a gamble, he loaned that money. And not only did
we get the loan back, but the American people made money off of that bet.
That`s really what they don`t want you to know so you end up focusing on
whether or not the plant was closed and give the impression that President
Obama was responsible for closing the plant.

SHARPTON: Yes. But, you know, E.J., Joe and I go way back. Joe is
getting confused. If you bail out a business and you make money and the
business goes under, that`s applaudable. If you bail out a business and
keep people`s jobs and make the taxpayer money, that`s supposed to be
something that`s reckless. And the President did that with GM. Then they
tried to spin and change what actually was the record at Bain.

Let me show you some facts that they forgot in their profile of Bain
last night. Dade International, 1700 jobs lost. Bain made a profit of
$242 million while 1700 people lost their jobs. In GS Industries, Bain
went in and bailed out, 750 jobs lost. Bain made $12 million. Ampad, 385
jobs lost. Bain profit, $102 million. So they invested in companies.

Some made it, some didn`t. But they always made a profit. The
President bails out the auto industry, saves jobs, and the taxpayer makes a
profit, that was bad policy.

DIONNE: Well, it`s amazing to me that more people don`t just say who
opposed the auto bailout, hey, we were wrong. This thing worked. I
thought -- at the time I was for it because I thought it would be an
irreversible decision if we let our auto industry go under. And Ford would
have been affected, too, if GM had gone under. But the other thing they
don`t want to talk about is that an awful lot of these companies that they
praise including some companies that Bain was involved in, needed
government money to keep going.

SHARPTON: That`s right.

DIONNE: Or had government contracts. I mean, this notion that the
government is out there as some separate thing. And all it does is hinder
capitalism is just wrong. There wouldn`t have been so many lobbyists down
there at the Republican Convention in fairness they`ll be at the Democratic
Convention too.


DIONNE: If there weren`t a lot of businesses who got supported by our


MADISON: Yes. I was going to add one other thing in that outline you
just gave, a lot of that was money gambled with what? People`s pensions.


MADISON: People`s pensions. Some people lost everything.


DIONNE: Could I just say something, Reverend?


DIONNE: That I think the Bain attack has really penetrated, because I
don`t think Mitt Romney wanted to spend as much time as he had to spend
last night talking about Bain. And I think that`s in response to all these
stories and all the advertising. He realized he needed to launch a
defense. Because he was getting hurt by what he thought was going to help

SHARPTON: E.J. Dionne, Joe Madison, thank you for your time.

MADISON: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Both of you, have a great weekend.

MADISON: See you in Charlotte.

SHARPTON: Coming up, a huge win for President Obama`s fight for your
voter rights today.

Plus, Hillary Clinton`s at it again. She dances her way back into
your summer break.

And a POLITICS NATION exclusive interview with Clint Eastwood. See
him sitting there waiting. I`ll be right with him.


SHARPTON: We`re back with a pause from the political battles of the
day. A time to relax, rest, relax and recharge. That`s right. It`s time
for the POLITICS NATION summer break.

Tennis anyone? To the U.S. open we go. And this squirrel is ready to
take on Roger Federer. He`s got some quick court coverage. And check out
that approach to the net. He`s an ace out there even stopping to greet
some fans. Game, set, match for this troublemaker. That`s the fastest
getaway since Paul Ryan`s departure from facts. Next, to the Cook Islands.
A spirited greeting for the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton`s arrival.

Those were locals have been rocking and she loves it. Clapping right
along. This isn`t the first time we`ve seen Hillary get down. Remember
her dancing the night away in South Africa earlier this month? Wow. She`s
really having a great summer. Look at her moves. Get low.

Here at POLITICS NATION, we can`t get enough of the secretary of
swing. Way to go. And that`s today`s summer break.


SHARPTON: OK. Here we go. Let`s get to the story that everyone`s
talking about. A rambling Clint Eastwood and his chair. Tonight, we`ve
got an exclusive interview with the man himself. We`ll get to him in a
minute. Honestly, I woke up this morning and I wasn`t sure it really
happened, but right before the biggest speech of Governor Romney`s life,
this happened.


CLINT EASTWOOD, ACTOR: I`ve got Mr. Obama sitting here, and he`s -- I
just was going to ask him a couple questions. How do you handle promises
that you made when you were running for election and how do you handle, how
do you handle it? I mean, what do you say to people? Do you just -- what
do you mean shut up? I`m not going to shut up. It`s my turn.


I think if you just kind of stepped aside and Mr. Romney can kind of
take over, you can still use the plane. Though maybe a smaller one.
Speaking out for everybody out there, it doesn`t hurt, we don`t have to be
-- I don`t say that word anymore. Well, maybe one last time. I`ll start
it, you finish it. Go ahead --

(CROWD) Make my day!

EASTWOOD: Thank you.


SHARPTON: Yes, America, it was not a dream. From Washington to
Hollywood, it`s all everyone is talking about. The President weighed in
with a tweet, this seat`s taken. A picture with him sitting in a chair
marked "The president." And today, we`re learning more with Romney`s aides
throwing Eastwood under the bus. I said it last night and I`ll say it
again. I suspect this isn`t the first time Clint Eastwood has talked to
empty chairs.

Joining me now is Dana Milbank, columnist for "The Washington Post."
And back with us again is Krystal Ball, co-host of "The Cycle" on MSNBC.
And of course Clint Eastwood joins us.

Thank to all of you for being here. Clint, I got to start with you.
What were you thinking? All right. I gave you a chance. Let`s move on.
Dana, we`re in the hall last night, you were there. What was the feeling
as this was going on?

DANA MILBANK, "THE WASHINGTON POST": First of all, I think Clint
Eastwood just told you to shut up, Reverend. I`m not sure you should take
that but it does look like he combed his hair for your interview.


MILBANK: That`s a sign of respect that he did not give them that last

SHARPTON: I appreciate that. But wait a minute, we`re talking about
respect. And let me say this, and all the jokes aside. I thought it was
the most despicable disrespect for the presidency. When you have the
president where this kind of -- where he implies the President speaks in a
vulgar way, I mean, if a democratic convention had done that, they would be
killing us. I think for him to be allowed to get away with that kind of
disrespect and no one challenged him.


SHARPTON: Mr. Romney or Rubio came behind him and said absolutely
nothing about how he disparaged the president of the United States. Let me
show people exactly what he said that had me and others so outraged at the
disrespect for the man that holds the office.


EASTWOOD: What? What do you want me to tell Romney? I can`t tell
him to do that. Can`t do that to himself. You`re absolutely crazy.


You`re getting as bad as Biden. Anyway, all right. I`m sorry. I
can`t do that to myself either.


SHARPTON: I mean, that kind of barroom in the middle of the night
improve humor and you are standing up in the primetime hour of a man being
introduced to be the president of the United States as the nominee. I
mean, this is outrageous.

MILBANK: And there were children, of course, in the hall and there
are many more children watching that their parents think they`re giving
them an introduction to civics.


MILBANK: And that`s quite an introduction there. And you didn`t show
the bit when he`s appears to be pretending to slit the throat of Obama.


MILBANK: So, look, maybe we should give the RNC the benefit of the
doubt and say, they didn`t know this lunacy was going to occur. But then
you hear that Romney was backstage laughing while this is going on. And
they`re trying to defend it this morning saying well, no. This is, you
know, this is a perfectly acceptable message. He`s highlighting the 23
million people who are unemployed. You know, add that on to a lot of the
other incidents that I`m sure you`ve been through over the past week, and
it becomes a bit more sinister than that. But he was received with a
revelry and a raucous reception in the hall.

SHARPTON: Amazing, Krystal, "The New York Times" reports that Romney
aides were distancing themselves from the Eastwood speech. Aides, a quote
now, "Aides variously call the speech strange and weird." One described it
as the theater of the absurd. Times reported that initially there were no
plans for Mr. Eastwood to take a chair on stage as a prop, but at the last
minute, the actor asked production staff backstage if he could use one but
did not explain why.

The prop person probably thought he was going to sit in it, a senior
aide said. I mean, give me a break. They don`t know what he`s going to
say. They`ll going to let him out there. They`ll just going to put his
page on there. Fine, if all that was true, why didn`t somebody come out
after? Rubio spoke, Romney spoke. And say that is inappropriate. We need
to respect the president of the United States even if we disagree with his

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC CO-HOST, "THE CYCLE": Or even after the fact. In
part of as you`re pointing out which is surprising here is the Romney
campaign has this reputation as being very scripted, very tightly
controlled. Almost to a fault. And then they let this man just go out on
stage and do whatever he wants and put together this extremely offensive as
you`re pointing out, adlib bit. But even if they take their word for it,
that it was actually adlib, where is the courage to come out and say that
was inappropriate and it was demeaning to the office of the presidency.


BALL: It reminds me of when Rush Limbaugh attacked Sandra Fluke.


BALL: Totally out about. Indefensible. And the best that Romney can
muster is those aren`t the words that I would have chosen. Where is the
courage? If we`re going to elect this man president, where is the courage
and the character to say that was wrong. It was a mistake, and I`m sorry.

SHARPTON: You know, Dana, it is almost 24 hours since it has
happened, we give or take four or five hours. You`re a man on top of
everything. Has there been a repudiation of the profane, implicit profane
way he projected the President or the way he acted like he was slitting the
president`s throat? Has there been a repudiation by Mr. Romney or his
campaign as you know?

MILBANK: No. And quite to the contrary, they were defending him
saying that was a perfectly acceptable message. Now, I mean, it is
outrageous on the one hand. I think on the other hand, you could look at
this and say, what Clint Eastwood did last night was embarrass himself. He
took what had been a sterling career and made himself into something of a
national laughing stock. So in a way the vulgarity of it all can be seen
in the context of this man doing himself no good, doing the nominee no
good. And I think Democrats aren`t particularly pushing this because they
want to let the Republicans stew in their own juice on this one.

SHARPTON: Well, I think that there`s no doubt that he did himself a
great disservice at the end of a stellar acting career. I`ve never agreed
with his politics. But he did it on their platform, Krystal.

BALL: Right.

SHARPTON: So, it`s not a question of he did it -- he did it on their
platform in their primetime time. This wasn`t even a co-starring time.

BALL: Right. And it does get to a matter of judgment. I mean, Clint
Eastwood is not running for elected office. So, I don`t particularly --
I`m not interested in what he has to say really. I`m interested in the way
that a President Romney which is not going to happen but a President Romney
would theoretically behave if he were in office. And I think it speaks to
judgment. I just can`t imagine how they didn`t vet this properly, how no
one asked, OK, what are you going to do with the chair?


BALL: And that after the fact there wasn`t any sort of apology or

SHARPTON: Or repudiation. Dana Milbank, Krystal Ball, of course
thank you both for your time. And of course Clint Eastwood, thanks for all
of your time and your help. We`ll be right back.


SHARPTON: Today, we saw a big victory in the fight against voter
suppression. In Ohio, a judge restored early voting for the three days
before Election Day revising a republican law that closed that period for
everyone except military voters. The Obama campaign sued to give all
voters the same rights. And then the Romney camp accused them of
undermining the military. But the judge today sided with the President
saying his ruling quote, "does not deprive military voters from early
voting. Instead and more importantly, it places all Ohio voters on equal

But today`s victory is a big one. And it`s one of many we`ve seen
this week. Yesterday a federal judge blocked the Texas voter ID law citing
concerns about its racial impact. And in Florida, another judge
permanently blocked a law that had limited voter registration. But that
law made a huge impact while I was on the books. Here`s how many voters
each party registered in Florida leading up to the 2004 and 2008 elections.

Now look how many were registered this year. It`s a shocking drop-
off. Democratic registrations dropped 95 percent while republican
registrations were up by a third. Democrats now have just a few weeks to
make up ground before voter registration ends in October. Well, there are
many states that still have not been decided and these may be appealed.
But we`ve got to keep fighting.

We said it earlier this year, in fact, we started late last year. It
is about protecting voting rights. And if we`ve got to go state by state,
court by court, it`s not about who wins this election. It`s about who can
participant and we intend to make sure all participants are protected with
their voting rights.

Thanks for watching. Have a great Labor Day weekend. I`m Al
Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts now.


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