updated 9/4/2012 12:28:48 PM ET 2012-09-04T16:28:48

POLITICS NATION
September 3, 2012

Guests: Bob Shrum; Simone Campbell; Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Emanuel Cleaver, Erin McPike

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

Tonight`s lead, you bet we`re better off. We`re just one day from the
Democratic National Convention, a critical moment in the Obama campaign to
make his case that things are better in this country. It`s a big week.

Tomorrow night first lady Michelle Obama speaks and a rising star San
Antonio mayor Julian Castro gives the keynote speech.

On Wednesday, two warriors for the middle class, Elizabeth Warren and
former president Bill Clinton.

And Thursday the main event, speeches from vice president Biden and
President Obama.

Today at Labor Day rallies, they pounded a message defending the
middle class. How did Governor Romney spend his labor day, 64 days until
Election Day? He celebrated on his boat. Just taking it out to run a few
errands. Normal stuff. She`s a yacht vessel, isn`t he?

He`s could behind the wheel. He plans to spend the rest of the week
in lovely reading Vermont, home of pretty barns like this one. And bed and
breakfast places like this one. Maybe he`s a little sore from getting no
bounce in the polls from his convention. Ouch.

But down in Charlotte, this week will be all about answering a key
question. Are people better off than they were four years ago? Vice
president Biden has no doubt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Folks, let me make
something clear and say to the press America is better off today than they
left us when they left. Want to know why we`re better off? I`ve got a
bumper sticker for you. Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is
alive. Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive. Osama bin
Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Things are better off, folks. It`s not even close. Four
years ago we were headed off a financial cliff losing private sector jobs
at a shocking rate. And now 29 straight months of job growth, that`s
better off.

And years ago the economy was shrinking. Now it`s growing. American
manufacturing is better off. The stock market is a lot better off. And
it`s more than just that. The affordable care act has made millions better
off. The Lilly Ledbetter act. Millions of women are better off because of
it.

And what about saving the auto industry? For all those whose jobs
were on the brink, they`re better off too. This is not some Romney/Ryan
spread sheet. These are real people with real families and their real jobs
were save by President Obama`s policies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just a few years ago
when the auto industry was flat-lining, what was in his and Governor
Romney`s play book? Let Detroit go bankrupt.

We weren`t going to let Detroit go bankrupt or Lords Town go bankrupt
or Toledo go bankrupt. I stood with American workers. I stood with
American manufacturing. I believed in you. I bet on you. I`ll make that
bet any day of the week. And because of that bet three years later that
bet is paying off for America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The president bet on America time and time again. And
because of that, we`re better off. Case closed.

Joining me now is chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee,
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Thanks for joining me tonight.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL), CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL
COMMITTEE: Thank you, Reverend Al. Great to be with you again.

SHARPTON: Now, what does the president need to do this week?

SCHULTZ: Well, what we`re doing this week unlike the invitation only
special interest funded corporate infused back room deal smoke filled room
affair that we had in my home state last week put on by the Republicans,
here this week in Charlotte, we opened the week with a community festival,
celebrating the Carolinas and invited the public to participate in what
would be the most inclusive participatory community oriented nominating
convention for a presidential candidate in history.

And we`ll close this week, Reverend Al, with President Obama accepting
our nomination for a second term in the bank of America stadium in front of
tens of thousands of Americans. And we have an opportunity as we did in
2008 to use this convention as an organizing tool. In 2008 at INVESCO
field on a single day we signed up 25,000 volunteers. We are going to have
an opportunity to get more people engaged in this campaign than ever before
and put some furious momentum behind President Obama going into the poll
campaign.

SHARPTON: Now, even governor Romney is slamming the failed GOP
policies that got us into this mess when asked this question. Take a
listen to what he said, Congressman.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We`re going to finally have
to do something that Republicans have spoken about for a long time. And
for awhile, we didn`t do it. When we had the lead we let people down. We
need to make sure we don`t lead them down this time. I will cut the
deficit and get us on track to a balanced budget.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: While he`s doubling down rhetorically, his two top economic
advisers served under Bush and let`s keep in mind the RNC officials said
this spring that his economic policies were the Bush plan just updated. So
he`s attacking, but he`s surrounded by Bush people and his own spokes
people are saying he`s just an updated version of the Bush policies.

SCHULTZ: Well, I have to try not to laugh at Mitt Romney saying that
he`s going to actually reduce the deficit. He chose a candidate,
Congressman Ryan for vice president to run with him, who actually voted to
make sure that we fought two wars unpaid for which exploded the deficit.
That we created a prescription drug program for seniors and Medicare,
important program, but didn`t pay for it. He voted for not one, but two --
the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts, unpaid for.

So, we took the Clinton surplus that President Clinton gave to
President Bush and we exploded the deficit. And President Bush handed
President Obama the worst set of economic problems that we`ve seen since
the great depression. And that`s thanks to Republican policies.

So please spare me, if I chuckle when Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan say
they`re the ones that are going to be fiscal stewards and are going to
reduce our deficit. President Obama has adopted policies that have already
begun to reduce our deficit. And would do it even more if we could just
get Republicans to work with us and support President Obama`s budget that
would reduce the deficit by $4 trillion.

But Reverend Al, you know they only care about one job, Barack
Obama`s. And we care about American jobs and continuing to fight for the
middle class and working families and get this economy turned around.

SHARPTON: We saw a lot of exaggerations. I said everywhere I went at
on air lies in the Republican convention. Are we going to deal with a lot
of truth and dealing with exposing their lies this week?

SCHULTZ: Well, President Obama is going to have an honest
conversation with the American people and talk about where we`ve been when
he first was elected and took office, the economy was hemorrhaging 750,000
jobs a month. And now, thanks to his policies we are better off after four
years of his policies. We`ve had 29 straight months of job growth in the
private sector as you said, a resurgence in the manufacturing sector,
creating jobs in manufacturing, a big deal in North Carolina by the way.

For the first time since the 1990s, 4.5 million jobs in the private
sector and counting. Like you said, we passed the affordable care act
which added eight years of solvency to Medicare and began to reduce our
deficit. So, we absolutely are better off. And we need to continue to
move this economy forward. And we need a president in the White House like
Barack Obama who`s going to continue to fight for the middle class and
working families. And make sure if you work hard and play by the rules
that everyone has a chance to be successful.

Not like Mitt Romney who thinks if we just shower a little more large
act fund on millionaires and billionaires, maybe the crumbs will trickle
down and fall on top of the rest of us. That`s not the policies that we
need to go back to because they nearly crashed our economy. And we know
that we don`t want to go back to that.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you quickly, as I let you go and I appreciate
you being with us.

SCHULTZ: My pleasure.

SHARPTON: What do you fear the most as you go into this convention as
chair lady? The big money that citizens united decision has allowed that
the opposition to the Democratic Party to have. First time we`ve seen in
probably our lifetime where an incumbent president will be outraised. Are
you afraid of the money or are you afraid of turnout? "The New York Times"
in had a big story this weekend about you had more field offices, for
example, in Colorado. So is your fear the turnout or is you fear the
money? What are you afraid of?

SCHULTZ: Reverend Al, I`m not afraid of anything. I`m not fearful.
I`m hopeful. After seeing the thousands of delegates and activists that
have already begun to arrive here in Charlotte, at the end of this week we
know we`ll have a lot of momentum behind President Obama. Because we`re
going to continue to run a people-powered, people-fueled campaign. A
grassroots campaign, the likes that which this country has never seen in a
presidential campaign.

We`re going to do thousands of door knocks and phone calls. And make
sure that we carry President Obama back to the White House on the shoulders
of the American people.

Unlike the Romney campaign which continues to be a super PAC special
interest funded campaign bank rolled by a handful of billionaires who want
to buy the White House. That`s part of the contrast and choice that is
going to be in front of voters for the next 64 days.

SHARPTON: You know, congresswoman, as well as I know you and I raise
the question of what you`re afraid of. You know, I knew that was a
softball up the middle. So, you owe me one.

SCHULTZ: Thank you.

SHARPTON: You owe me one.

SCHULTZ: I promise.

SHARPTON: Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, live from
Charlotte, thank you for your time tonight.

SCHULTZ: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Joining me now is Bob Shrum, Democratic strategist who ran
John Kerry`s presidential campaign.

Bob, thank you for being here tonight. No softballs for you. I know
she`s a kind of fearless person. But there are concerns. I mean, putting
aside and everything else, their concern is big money out there, the
landscape has changed out of the norm from day one, about the voter ID.
What do the Democrats have to do this week?

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well this week, first of all, there
are a couple of little potential pitfalls at the convention. There`s not
going to be a Clint Eastwood moment. I can predict that.

SHARPTON: No empty chair.

SHRUM: They better make sure there aren`t empty chairs at the bank of
America stadium because that would be the visual - that would be the big
statement. I`m sure they`ll do that.

Secondly, is they push back on this are you better off. They have to
make sure that they tell people yes they`re better off, but they`re not
nearly as well off as they need to be. That they`ve done a lot, but
there`s more to do.

SHARPTON: Yes.

SHRUM: And then, they have to draw the contrast that they want -- the
Democrats want tax cuts for the middle class. Bush wants them for the
wealthy paid for by increases on the middle class. Biden had a great line
today. I mean, he really sort of summed up this choice. He said we`re for
Medicare, they`re for voucher care. Those are the kind of messages that
have to come out of this convention along with the sense that the president
has a plan for where he wants to take the country in the next four years.
I`m betting this is going to be an extraordinary acceptance speech Thursday
night. They won`t like me saying it because it raises expectations.

SHARPTON: Right.

SHRUM: But, I think is going to be an extraordinary speech.

SHARPTON: But I think, what you`re saying is very important. Because
I think as I and others are saying, clearly we`re better off. It does not
mean we will get the patient can be better, doesn`t mean the patient is
back to normal. And I think that you don`t want people to think that we do
not understand there`s still a need for real growth in the economy. It`s
just not the disaster proportion it was four years ago.

SHRUM: Yes. He has got to say look, we have made progress but I`m
not satisfied. I`m not going to be satisfied until we put every American
who wants to work back to work. Then he`s got to explain that he`s a plan
food that. And that they have actually blocked planned to do that in
Congress every step of the way. And that the Romney plan would take us
back to the same failed Bush policies that they went through and got us
into the mess in the first place.

I think it is going to be very interesting convention. By the way,
for the commentators like you, I think it`s going to be a lot tougher than
the Republican convention. Because I think there are going to be a lot
fewer faux pas and a lot fewer incidents that to spend time on.

SHARPTON: Well, we always manage to think of something to say.

(LAUGHTER)

SHARPTON: But, even the conservative "Wall Street Journal," Bob, even
"the Wall Street Journal" attacked Romney for not addressing how he`d fix
the economy. So when you have this argument are you better off but you
have no real prescription on what you would do, "Wall Street Journal" says
neither he nor the entire GOP convention made a case for his economic
policy agenda. Neil Armstrong received almost as much speech time as what
Mr. Romney would do specifically to spur faster growth and raise middle
class income. This is "the Wall Street Journal" saying this about him.

SHRUM: Yes. And they`d like him to say it because for them it`s
dogma. He didn`t say it because in terms of his specifics, he`s on the
wrong side by 2-1 margins often on almost every specific he`s offering.

People don`t want to privatize Social Security. People don`t want to
voucherize Medicare. They don`t want to see their taxes go up to give big
tax breaks to the wealthy. That`s why, by the way, you saw him in his only
post convention big speech in Cincinnati. Just try and it was another lie,
to blame the president for all the job losses under Bush.

SHARPTON: Right.

SHRUM: He just want us to be in referendum. If you kind feel bad,
vote for me. We are going to come out of this convention I think and
Democrats are going to have concretely set it as a choice. By the way, we
also haven`t talked about foreign policy. And that was the other line
Biden had today that was very good. You know, General Motors is alive and
Osama bin Laden is dead.

SHARPTON: Right. And that`s a bumper sticker that is going around
the country. I think it`s a hard one for the Republicans to answer.

Bob Shrum, thanks for being here tonight.

SHRUM: Glad to be here, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Coming up, what are Republicans running from? Today Mitt
Romney`s number two, Paul Ryan, is facing new questions on his claim about
running a marathon.

Also, the long road to Charlotte. How Barack Obama`s 2004 speech set
the stage for his critical address later this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: There is not a black America and a white America and Latino
America and Asian America. There`s the United States of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: We`ll talk about it live with "Hardball`s" Chris Matthews.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Mitt Romney`s trying to show he can connect with those less
fortunate than himself. But a reporter out of New Orleans is raising new
questions about that. Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back with new questions about Romney`s ability to
connect with people in need.

On Friday less than 12 hours after accepting his party`s nomination,
Governor Romney visited a town in Louisiana devastated by hurricane Isaac.
He talked to several storm victims including a 42-year-old woman who told
him quote, "I lost everything." The woman told the AP, quote, "he said he
was going to do the best that he could for us. I thought he`d be more like
a politician, but it was more understanding and caring," end of quote. The
AP also quotes the woman as saying "he just told me there`s assistance out
there. He said go home and call 211," which is, of course, the local help
line.

Go home and call 211? Did Governor Romney miss the part when she told
him she lost everything? There was no home for her to go back to. She
couldn`t even make the call. People will have to draw their own
conclusions about the Romney visit. But it seems clear that it only raises
more questions about his ability to understand regular people.

Joining me now is Melissa Harris-Perry host of "the Melissa Harris-
Perry show" here on MSNBC, and Sister Simone Campbell, executive director
of network of catholic social justice group. She organize the nuns on the
bus tour to protest the Romney/Ryan budget and how it will hurt the poor.
She will be speaking this week at the Democratic National Convention in
Charlotte.

Thank you both for being here.

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST, MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY SHOW:
Absolutely. Happy to be here.

SISTER SIMONE CAMPBELL, ORGANIZER, NUNS ON THE BUS: Delighted.

SHARPTON: Sister Simone, let me start with you. Does Mitt Romney
have a problem connecting with those in need?

CAMPBELL: I`m not sure that he has a problem connecting, but he
certainly doesn`t have much experience being with people in need. That`s
why we invited him to come and meet some of the people we met on our bus
trip so he could see and listen. That`s what he needs to do is listen and
hear the reality of hard working folks in our nation. I think he`s been
missing that.

SHARPTON: Now, you invited him, your tour was you and some of the
sisters that had done this to dramatize poverty. How did he respond,
Sister Simone, to your invitation?

CAMPBELL: Well, we haven`t heard from the campaign. We could
understand they were distracted by getting ready for the convention. I`m
still hopeful that he might accept. It`s really urgent that all of our
politicians understand the reality of all of the people in the nation. We
have to work for the 100 percent, not the one percent or 10 percent. We
have to work for the 100 percent.

SHARPTON: You`re speaking this week and I assume you are going to be
speaking on these issues that you dramatize and shows such commitment to
you, speaking this week at the Democratic convention.

CAMPBELL: Absolutely. I`m going to raise up four of the people we
met on the trip because their message is so powerful for the rest of the
nation. And I really hope that message might be heard by both parties.
Because it`s a need that we need to address as a whole nation.

SHARPTON: Now, Melissa, when you talk about the disconnect, when we
talk about can Mr. Romney connect, "Vanity Fair" has an article explaining
the conditions under which he accepted his Bain capital CEO job. And he
says in the article, he explained to Bain that he didn`t want to risk his
positions, earnings, and reputation on an experiment. So Bain sweetened
the pot. He guaranteed that if the experiment failed, Romney would get his
old job and salary back. Plus any raises he would have earned during his
absence.

So here`s a man that even when he went out into the venture capital
business talking to Mr. Bain, he had all kinds of guarantees and cushions.

Does someone from that kind of world that has almost a guaranteed
cushion even understand what the average middle class or poor person has to
go through when there`s nobody guaranteeing them anything.

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, here`s a thing, Reverend. A person from that
circumstance could have an understanding of other people, but they would
have to make a long-term committed choice to understand more.

So let`s take the president who oversaw perhaps the greatest expansion
of an American social safety net, who understood what poor people and
veterans and old people need. That was FDR. And FDR - I mean, it`s simply
hard to imagine a president who came from more privilege. But what FDR was
concerned with was making sure he understood that problem solving went
beyond his own personal narrative.

And I think that`s the danger we should see from the RNC convention
last week. They were trying to sell the American people on the story of
the Romney family which is a nice story, right? He loves his wife. He
took her to a dance when they were young. They have lovely kids. That`s
nice.

But the whole point is most of America does not live in the
circumstances that the Romneys live in. So the question wasn`t their
family but other people`s families.

SHARPTON: I think your point on FDR is correct. And I think JFK also
came from privilege and money and showed sensitivity. But I think what we
saw last week and throughout this campaign, we`ve not seen Romney
demonstrate that he understands that.

HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right.

SHARPTON: And one of the things I kept stressing last week is they
even define success as having money or being entrepreneurial, not on having
things like a wholesome family or purpose in life or doing things that are
needed. Even success is kind an upward top tier and not even defined in a
broad social context of doing what is right and fair, thanking FDR and the
JFK, their values don`t seem to go there.

HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. And a willful ignorance of just how much
harder it is for other folks to get a modicum of the kind of success the
way they measure it. So, not only do they measure success in very narrow
terms, they also tends to measure success without any sort of clear,
willing, understanding that if you don`t come from a situation where your
family can lend you money to take that first risk, if you still have
student loans to pay back. And the reason we know this isn`t because of
gaffes or sort of personal, you know, lack of understanding like go back
and call. I mean, the idea of someone telling a hurricane survivor to
call, just -- it angers me because --.

SHARPTON: From the house that`s gone?

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And the phone lines are down. Like my mother
got power yesterday. Right? The idea one could just go make a call. Even
beyond the question of a lack of empathy, that demonstrate a lack of
understanding of what the problem actually is.

SHARPTON: Right.

HARRIS-PERRY: And so, the issue is their policies demonstrate that
they have very little understanding that in fact their own success was in
part built on the success or the willingness of taxpayers to underwrite
their own risks and a lack of understanding that in order for us to succeed
and move out of this economic circumstance, we are going to have to have
collective investment in ordinary people, not just tax cuts for the
wealthiest.

SHARPTON: Sister Simone Campbell, I heard you saying amen.

CAMPBELL: Yes.

SHARPTON: I`m going to be saying amen when you speak this week this
week out there in Charlotte. Melissa Harris-Perry, thank you both for your
time tonight.

CAMPBELL: Thank you.

HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you.

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

Back in 2004 Barack Obama exploded on to the political stage with a
rousing speech at the democratic convention. Coming up, I`ll talk to Chris
Matthews about the president`s long road to Charlotte.

And disturbing news about a voter purge in a critical battleground
state. Are Republican officials trying to swing the election to Romney?
Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Folks, have you checked us out on Facebook? The POLITICS
NATION conversation is going all day long. Today, our fans were revved up
in anticipation of the First Lady`s big convention speech.

Nicole can`t wait to see her. Steve`s excited because she quote,
"speaks the truth." But, folks, we are also Fed up with Republicans`
distortion. Diana says, somebody explain how the GOP gets away with it.
One thing`s for sure, we`ll be keeping them honest. But first, we want to
hear what you think. Head over to Facebook and search POLITICS NATION and
like us to join the conversation that keeps going long after the show ends.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back with our special coverage of the Democratic
National Convention. Eight years ago then-Senate candidate Barack Obama
was virtually unknown on the national stage. But all that changed when he
gave the keynote speech at the 2004 convention.

"HARDBALL`s" Chris Matthews looked at the President`s long journey to
the White House and his achievements in office. On a new documentary
airing tonight on MSNBC "Barack Obama: Making History." Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, "HARDBALL" (voice-over): When Obama ran in 2004
for the United States Senate, David Axelrod signed on as his media adviser.
The little-known candidate with the unusual name defeated a half dozen
rivals to win the democratic nomination.

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: Thank you!

MATTHEWS: Obama`s come from behind victory won him wide attention.
He soon got a call to deliver the keynote at the Democratic National
Convention.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: And as soon as he hung up, he said I knew what I
wanted to say. I want to write my story in the larger American story. And
for the next three weeks, he was writing on real scraps of paper everywhere
we went in between campaign stuffs. And he pulled it all together.

OBAMA: The pundits like to slice and dice our country in the red
states and blue states. Red states for Republicans, blue states for
Democrats. But I`ve got news for them too. We worship an awesome God in
the blue states. And we don`t like federal agents poking around in our
library in the red states.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: All around us there were people who were crying.
And the halfway through, I thought this guy`s life has changed and it will
never be the same.

MATTHEWS (on camera): I have seen the first black president there.
And the reason I say that is because, because I think the immigrant
experience combined with the African background combined with the
incredible education, combined with his beautiful speech, that speech was a
piece of work.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHARPTON: Joining me now from Charlotte is the host of tonight`s
special film and the host of "HARDBALL" Chris Matthews. Chris, thanks for
being here tonight.

MATTHEWS: Reverend Sharpton, thank you for participating in this.
I`m very proud of this documentary. As you know, you had a big part in it
with your own testimony. I looked like by the way some Irish political tap
back there. Saying, here is this is guy, he`s wise, he`s the genuine
article here. I think I spotted, you probably spotted him before I did,
this guy was going to go all the way.

SHARPTON: Well, let me ask you before I get into the film and I
really, really want to people to watch it because it`s great. I`ve been
able to peek at it. But the President`s facing another pivotal speech this
Thursday. You`re a former speech writer and known the political scene
better anyone I know. What does he need to do this time around on this
speech Thursday?

MATTHEWS: I think he`s got to project forward. I mean, I don`t know
why they`ve had such a hard time today and yesterday explaining how things
are better than they were back when the President was in his first year. I
mean, his first year, the unemployment rate was skyrocketing up past 10
percent. And we didn`t know whether it would stop. The stock market and
this affects people`s 401(k)s and their retirement money, was dropping into
a ditch. There was no floor to it. It was down to 6,500, the lowest in
more than a decade. So, he reversed all that.

He took it up to the 13,000, the stock market, the unemployment rate
down around eight percent. But most importantly pulled us back from the
abyss. We keep forgetting how close we were to complete catastrophe. And
now this people come out saying, are you better off? Of course we are
better off than right there on the abyss. In fact, we may not have going
over it without this guy. So, I think it`s pretty obvious to me.

The stupid thing to do and I know the opposition wants them to do
this, compare November 2008 with today. Well, unfortunately for the
country, the hell broke loose after November. It was during that
transitional period into the spring of `09 when the worst came about all
because of previous policies. You can`t blame the President for the
conditions which emerge in the early months of his administration, it`s
illogical, it`s logical.

SHARPTON: You`ve been critical Chris, and I agree with you that the
Democrats have not seemingly got their message out about this.

MATTHEWS: That`s right. And I don`t understand what they`ve been
thinking about. They were caught flood foot at the last couple of days,
they can make the case. Just say this. How would you like to be back
where we were in the spring of `09 rather than where we are today? Nobody
wants to be back there. But the unemployment spiking up pass double digits
with the stock market disappeared, people`s wealth, their homes losing
value and that`s especially to a people of any home value.

Most people have their nest egg in their home. That`s where the money
is. When they retire they move to an apartment or condo and that`s where
they have some cash when they retired at their fortunate. So, when you
lose the value in your home, you`re basically getting destitute. That`s
what we were facing back in `09. And they act like they all forgot that.
Have we got memory loss as a country? Remember three and a half years ago,
four years ago. We ought to just keep reminding people, that`s not to say
he could sell himself.

SHARPTON: Right.

MATTHEWS: I was born in a ditch. Give me a break. He`s going to
have to say that what he`s been doing the last three-and-a-half years leads
to a better seven years, to a better eight years, a better future. He`s
got to show we`re on a smart path. He better do that and he better do it
Thursday night. That`s what we call my tough love. Don`t talk about the
past. Talk about how you`re taking us somewhere we want to be.

SHARPTON: Your special tonight is very unique. And I`m going to say
this and you and I have not talked about it. You talk about what no
special on the President has. One, you talked about the development of the
man, the great American story. A lot of people have talked about that.
But you talked about race. And you go into the evolving movement of how
this country had to deal with race from the king era of fighting for voting
rights and civil rights which was reflected on the other side of that and
Ed Brooke could go to the Senate.

And then the post-king era with Andy Young and Jesse Jackson and them
getting black men. All the way to era where people like me emerge where we
are still fighting Trayvons and all but you get this black president. I`ve
never seen anyone that could handle race as well as you have not being
involved in the movement. And this film has really does that.

MATTHEWS: Yes. I just want to remind people. African-Americans
don`t need to be reminded except the numbers are pretty interesting. When
people say why do we still have racial division in the country and white
fear and some black resentment and some white resentment. It just keeps
working on itself. Here`s why. We had 250 years of unpaid slavery under
chains. And they were really -- people were whipped. It`s nothing like
going with the wind, it wasn`t like any of those movies. It was horrible.

Families divided, your wife shipped off, your kids shipped off,
depending on their weight and how much muscle they had, how much they
weight for. You`re watching this. You`re watching your family being sold
off. You`re watching your wife being sent down the river to someone that
you never see. Some white guy owns her, he can do whatever he wants to
her. What do you think that was like, 250 years today? Throwing 100 years
of Jim Crowe. Just hell.

You`re not like the vote. You`re a sharecropper, you got nothing.
You have no capital. There wasn`t 40 acres after the civil war, like that
Steven wanted. Nothing. Here, thank you for nothing, go away. Two
hundred fifty years of slavery, not a nickel for it. Hundred years of Jim
Crowe. Then the 50 years of what we`ve had. I wouldn`t call it heaven.
Fifty years, it`s gotten better. Everybody knows it`s gotten better. And
then they expect people to be dancing with happiness about how great
everything is.

So, it`s not going to be great for awhile. I think the fact that the
whites would have voted for Barack Obama in the same way to men who voted
for women`s suffrage was a big step forward. They could have vote and
snuck in that voting booth and secretly voted for John McCain. But you
know why they didn`t do that? Because they thought Obama would be a better
president.

SHARPTON: Right.

MATTHEWS: Right. He`s self interesting smart, it wasn`t generosity.
It was you know what? It`s like in a lot of things like sports and
business and anything else, he comes down to talent and ability. And
sometimes it comes back to picking the best guy for the job. And that`s
why America is going to make it. Because in the end, we picked the most
talented guy for the job. And John McCain was worn out, he was yesterday.
Not a bad guy. Yesterday, Obama was the future, they made a smart move.

But this racial thing, I can`t talk to you, Reverend. You`ve been out
there fighting it for all these years. But as a white guy, I know when I`m
a target. And when I see racial coding going on out there like with this
welfare, and work thing. I know they`re talking to me, they`re talking to
some Irish kid wrap this city. They know exactly what they`re talking,
they`re talking to my family. They`re trying to rip the scab off it and
get us a hit again, and get us all the vote race, vote tribe again.

And then the majority tribe wins. That`s not good for the country.
You`ve got to vote merit. In the end, I hope this election is about merit.
I`m really mad when people don`t get it. And everybody, I can`t tell,
well, you know -- well, you know what people`s reaction to what I said last
week. In fact, people know it.

SHARPTON: Yes. Well, Chris, you stood up and talk about the best guy
for the job with the president. The best guy for this job of doing this
documentary has been you.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, sir.

SHARPTON: This is one you and your family need to watch tonight.
Chris` documentary. He says what no one else will say and will not let the
country go backwards but forward by really understanding this phenomenon
called Barack Obama. "Barack Obama: Making History." It airs tonight
10:00 p.m. Eastern Time. You and your family owe it to yourself to watch
it right here on MSNBC. Thanks, Chris.

Coming up, why is the republican ticket running so fast away from the
truth? News today about yet another distortion from Romney`s number two
Paul Ryan.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Still ahead, Paul Ryan`s got a lot of heat because of all
those whoppers he told at the RNC last week. But that didn`t stop him from
telling another. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We all know that Paul Ryan was playing fast and loose with
the facts down at the GOP convention in Tampa. But apparently he was also
remaking his own past. Congressman Ryan was on a radio show last week
playing up his athletic prowess.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HUGH HEWITT, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Are you still running?

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes. I hurt a disk in my
back, so I don`t run marathons anymore. But I just run ten miles or less.

HEWITT: But you did run marathons at some point?

RYAN: Yes. But I can`t do it anymore because my back is just not
that great.

HEWITT: I`ve just got to ask what`s your personal best.

RYAN: Under three, but I think, you know, high twos. Two hours and
fifty something.

HEWITT: Holy smokes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Holy smokes is right. That`s incredible. Here`s what
Lance Armstrong looked like after running under three hours in the New York
marathon a few years ago. He looks like he`s about to keel over and that`s
Lance Armstrong. The problem for Ryan is his great time never happened.
Runners world magazine says in the one marathon he even ran when he was 20
years old, Ryan is listed as having finished in four hours, one minute, and
25 seconds. That`s over an hour worse than what Mr. Ryan first claimed.

Caught in yet another untruth, he was forced to come clean. Telling
the New Yorker quote, "the race was more than 20 years ago but my brother
Tobin reminds me that he is the owner of the fastest marathon in the
family. He gave me a good ribbing over this at dinner tonight."

A good ribbing? How about a reality check? Paul Ryan likes to run.
But he and Romney can`t keep running from the truth.

Joining me now is Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, democrat from Missouri
and chair of the Congressional black caucus. And Erin McPike, national
political reporter from Real Clear Politics. Thanks to both of you for
being here tonight.

REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D), MISSOURI: Good to be with you.

ERIN MCPIKE, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Mr. Chairman, is this the week the truth finally catches up
to Republicans?

CLEAVER: Absolutely. The one of the sad things about contemporary
politics at least on the national level is that -- and you can see it in
Congress all the time is that we have fact free debates and I think that it
has become a way of operation and so now we saw last week where people made
fact free speeches. And this week, I think people are going to find that
our speakers are going to speak directly about the issues, talking about
what the future is for this country, and they`re going to do it in a
forthright and very clear way. It won`t be a fact-free discussion on the
stage here Tuesday through Thursday.

SHARPTON: You know, Mr. Chairman, even former Bush strategist Matthew
Dowd called out Paul Ryan for his lies at the convention. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEW DOWD, FORMER BUSH STRATEGIST: Paul Ryan what he did in this
speech, I think so stretched the truth. And I like Paul Ryan -- have a lot
of great respect for Paul Ryan but the elements that he said about closing
the GM plant which closed before Barack Obama took President. About the
Simpson Bowles bill which Simpson Bowles which he opposed and then all of a
sudden he faults Barack Obama for. At some point, the truth should matter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Some point, Reverend Mr. Chairman, the truth should matter.
Even Matthew Dowd, a Bush strategist couldn`t take it.

CLEAVER: Well, I think, you know, they are so anxious to win, they
are so anxious to come up in the polls that they have developed a strategy.
And the strategy is we`re going to say that the President waived working --
if you`re receiving welfare and no matter what the fact checkers say, we`ll
going to stick with it. And they`ve done it over and over and over again.
And while it will probably work with the base, I don`t think it`s going to
work with all of America. I think people will going to grow to resent the
fact that there are no facts being presented.

SHARPTON: Erin, Eric Cantor was asked by Fortune Magazine if Ryan was
being hypocritical for attacking the president`s savings on $716 billion in
Medicare when his own plan calls for the same cuts. Cantor was at a loss
for words saying quote, "The assumption that, um, the, the, again, I
probably can`t speak to that exact way, so I better just not." Very
interesting. Very kind of -- when you think so, Erin?

CLEAVER: You know, Eric Cantor is a very smart man and very
articulate. I actually have a good relationship with him. I`m stunned
that he could not respond. But I also understand that he`s got to try to
support his team.

SHARPTON: Yes.

CLEAVER: Even when his team jumps off base.

SHARPTON: But Erin McPike, explain to me how Cantor has got to bob
and weave and even it`s over the top for him.

MCPIKE: You know, I don`t know why Eric Cantor couldn`t answer this,
but I think the larger point about why the Romney campaign and Paul Ryan is
-- they`re lying in some of these instances is because they think they can
communicate what they want to, to more voters. Via big speeches and ads
thinking that those get to more voters than the media does. Some 20
million or more people saw Paul Ryan`s speech.

The media coverage thereafter goes to fewer people. And so that`s
what they`re trying to do. They want to, at all costs say, what they want
to say about the $716 billion being cut out of Medicare. They want people
to be on their side. And they think by communicating this way they can
win.

SHARPTON: But, you know, Vice President Biden, Erin attacked Ryan for
his claims that the President ignored recommendations for the deficit
commission when Ryan himself was on that commission and walked out on it,
Erin.

MCPIKE: That`s true. There are always fine lines in all of this. I
think it`s the bottom-line here. Mitt Romney often goes around saying that
no trade agreements were signed by President Obama when in fact he signed
three. Now, the Romney campaign says, but they were negotiated during the
Bush administration. Which is true, but President Obama of course did not
have to sign them. So they always walk these fine lines to sort of fit
their message together.

SHARPTON: Now, Mr. Chairman, you`re a leading democrat as well as a
leading member of Congress, chairman of a major committee. Washington Post
reports the Democrats` plan on hitting Republicans on their own, quote,
"you didn`t build this attack." Or you didn`t build that attack. Quote,
the post says, senior Obama advisers suggested that they will try to turn
the tables on their GOP rivals by accusing them of being dishonest about
what the President meant, what Obama meant. Quickly respond to that, the
distortion on the President`s words.

CLEAVER: Well, they distorted President words repeatedly. They`re
going to continue. They`re not going to stop no matter who calls them out
on it. And I think you`ll going to see in this convention that whole issue
being addressed. And we can`t ignore it. Because if we do, too many
Americans will embrace it as the truth when in fact it is every step of a
mile away from the truth.

SHARPTON: Yes. Congressman Cleaver, I`m going to have to hold it
there. Thank you so much for taking time tonight. Erin McPike, thank you
for your time tonight.

CLEAVER: Good to be with you.

SHARPTON: We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: In the last week, we`ve seen some big victories in the
fight against voter suppression. Judges have struck down harmful voting
rules in Ohio, Florida, and Texas. But the fight may just be getting
started in Colorado. The republican Secretary of State there, Scott
Gessler has a history of making it harder to vote. Last year, Gessler
filed a lawsuit to prevent Denver County from mailing ballots to inactive
voters. So, if someone didn`t vote in 2010 election, Gessler didn`t want
them to get a ballot for the next year. And now he`s moved on to a voter
purge effort. Earlier this summer, Gessler swore the purge wouldn`t be
political.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: To the people who say Scott Gessler knows if he
takes a thousand people off the voter rolls, 800 of them will be likely be
Democrats. That`s crazy talk.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: They have no basis for that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Crazy talk? To think Gessler would disproportionately
target Democrats? That`s crazy talk? Well, the numbers don`t lie. Of the
nearly 4,000 people targeted in the purge, only 12 percent were
Republicans. Colorado started looking into the names on the list and 88
percent of the voters they checked are citizens. They haven`t been able to
confirm a single non-citizen. Not one.

It is interesting that those that claim to be the pay charts, they
claim to love the country do the most unpatriotic, un-American things.
Make it difficult for people to vote. The right to vote is what makes this
country different and great. And we`ve got to stop all methods of
suppression.

Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" 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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