updated 9/11/2012 11:42:05 AM ET 2012-09-11T15:42:05

POLITICS NATION
September 10, 2012

Guests: Catherine Crier; Nia-Malika Henderson; Patricia Murphy, Joe Madison, Frank Schaffer, Dennis Lieberman, Thomas Ritchie


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

Tonight`s lead, one side is in shambles, the other, getting a boost,
literally. There are just 57 days to go until this election and the Obama
campaign is enjoying every minute of it.

This weekend, President Obama was swept up by a pizza shop owner who
happens to be a big fan. Did I mention the guy`s a Republican? And the
A.P. snapped this photo of vice president Biden chatting it up with a
female biker. No wonder they are in such a good mood. A new poll has them
up six points over the GOP ticket.

Then, there`s Governor Romney. Let`s just say, well, he had a
difficult weekend. The last time he stumbled this badly was during his
disastrous overseas trip. Remember that? It was so awful the media coined
a phrase called Romney shambles.

Well, after yesterday, I think we need to bring that phrase back. Mr.
Romney has run a campaign in which he`s offered no specifics, in which he`s
played fast and loose with the truth and, worst of all, he thought he could
get away with it. But this weekend, that strategy was blown out of the
water. For months he said he`d repeal the health care law. But now he`s
trying to hedge his bets.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID GREGORY, HOST, MEET THE PRESS: On health care, you say that you
would rescind the president`s health care plan on day one. Does that mean
that you`re prepared to say to Americans young adults and those with pre-
existing conditions that they would no longer be guaranteed health care?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, of course not. I say
we`re going to replace Obama care. I`m not getting rid of all of health
care reform. Of course, there are a number of things I like in health care
reform that I like put in place. One is to make sure that those with pre-
existing conditions can get coverage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: By yesterday evening, Governor Romney had flipped again.
Romney also repeatedly refused to give any specifics about his own tax
plan, dodging questions about which tax deductions he`s supposedly going to
get rid of.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GREGORY: Governor, where are the specifics of how you get to this
map? Isn`t that an issue?

ROMNEY: Well, the specifics are these, which is, those principles I
described are the heart of my policy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: What? Specifics of principles? Romney`s trying so hard to
duck the question that he`s literally not making sense. And when Paul Ryan
was asked about all of the secrecy, he said he`d reveal their plan after
the election.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST, ABC`S THIS WEEK: Don`t voters have a
right to know which loopholes you`re going to go after?

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So Mitt Romney and
I, based on our experience, think the best way to do this is to show the
framework, show the outlines of these plans, and then to work with Congress
on to do this. That`s how you get things done. The other this is --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Isn`t that a secret plan?

RYAN: No. No. What we don`t want is a secret plan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: You may not want a secret plan but you`re running on one.
Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan thought they would ride into the White
House without policy proposals, without specifics, without a vision? But I
don`t think that bets going to pay off.

Joining me now is Jared Bernstein, an MSNBC contributor and former
chief economist for vice president Joe Biden and Catherine Crier, a former
judge, prosecutor, journalist, and author of "Patriot Acts, what America
must to save the Republic."

First, thank you to both of you for being here.

JARED BERNSTEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Catherine, did the Romney campaign think they could run
this campaign without producing any specifics? I mean, what is that kind
of strategy?

CATHERINE CRIER, FORMER JUDGE: I think so because in a specific one
on one conversation several times, Romney and Ryan have said, we don`t want
to offer anything that the Democrats can then attack. Well, you attack
something, to ferret out problems, to understand what the ramifications are
of action. So we`re saying, we`re not going to let you know things because
the consequences could be devastating for an awful lot of people we hope
will turn out and vote for us. I think they`ve signaled that. It would
just like when Ann Romney said you`ve gotten all of the tax returns you`re
going to get because we don`t want to be attacked. That same to me, they
don`t want a broad discussion of the policies and issues that they intend
to follow.

SHARPTON: But Jared, you can`t have people rally around things that
they don`t know who they are rallying around and I noted that the president
has been trailing governor Romney on the economy but now he has a slight
edge for the first time. Prior to the DNC Romney led 51 to 45 when it
comes with economy. Now, the president leads 50 to 49.

Is it that Romney got specific it would even be worse if people really
understood what he was proposing?

BERNSTEIN: I`m sure that must be what motivates their reluctance to
give any specifics. But, you know, the interesting thing is that people
will plug the specifics in for them and when they don`t give us the facts,
I think it`s well within our rights to try to figure them out. And let me
give you two very good examples.

So yesterday Mitt Romney says, no, I want to require insurers to cover
pre-existing conditions. But we know he`s going to repeal the affordable
care act.

SHARPTON: Right.

BERNSTEIN: Now, if you take away the structure of the ACA and the
mandates, what that means is that if you get sick, if you get really sick,
you don`t have to do any -- you just -- you don`t have to have health
insurance. You can hang out as much as you want, never pay an insurance
premium. But as soon as you get really sick, you go to the health insurer
and they have to insure you. This is a called a moral hazard in economics
and it`s a big market failure. It makes the whole system breakdown pretty
quickly.

Same thing on the tax side. He said we`re going to cut taxes 20
percent across the board. But, I`m not going to tell you how I`m going to
fill in the revenue gap. When you try to fill in that gap, you find out
that there are not enough loophole closures to make up the difference.

SHARPTON: Let me deal with the loopholes. He will not be specific on
what he`s going to close. You are an economic adviser to the vice
president. What loophole has to be closed for you to really matter and why
won`t he be specific on the loophole?

BERNSTEIN: Well, the question answers itself. The mortgage interest
deduction, the employer health care, the charitable deductions, the state
and local deductions of those payments, those are the two big ticket tax
expenditures and you simply can`t replace the revenue he loses without
closing those specific loopholes and, by the way, that`s why the tax
policies are under nonpartisan tax analysts concluded that will raise taxes
on lower income people while cutting them at the folks at the top.

CRIER: And also, Reverend, remember the conversation that Grover
Norquist came out with - going after things like the corporate debt
reduction, anytime you are eliminating a deduction, you are raising taxes.
I mean, that is certainly an argument, although I don`t buy into that
argument. So once they get in, they think they need to do so, then the
response for many in the tea party and the Norquist said is going to be,
you can`t eliminate deductions because that is essentially --

SHARPTON: Even corporate jets because to eliminate my deductions from
my corporate jet is really raising my tax.

CRIER: Exactly.

SHARPTON: He can`t do that.

BERNSTEIN: And so the point is here, as us three are doing, I think
quite handedly, you can actually fill in a lot of specifics to yourself. I
don`t it really helps them to --

SHARPTON: I have that. I want to be clear on why they are not
filling it in because it doesn`t know.

CRIER: It doesn`t fill the revenue gap by any stretch of the
imagination which is the same position that they take with the corporate
jets. They said, you are not going to waste enough money, why do you even
bother with any of these which may well be the parallel argument along with
it is a tax increase.

SHARPTON: Well, to fill the money gap is what Jared was talking about
with the big ticket items and they can`t touch those. And then if you
touch other items besides those, it doesn`t fill a gap. I didn`t go to
school in Arkansas like Bill Clinton. But --

(CROSSTALK)

BERNSTEIN: I call this the - wherever the center on budget and policy
are easy, we call this the tax reform trap. What they say is we`re going
to lower the rates and broaden the base. What you`re going to get are
lower rates but when it comes to broadening the base, you`re not going to
see that. And that -- what that does is leave you with a much, much larger
deficit problem in the out years.

CRIER: Plus, the trickle down that has been thoroughly debunked by
Reagan`s own economists for the last 25 years.

SHARPTON: But it wasn`t Romney alone. Let`s be fair. Here is vice
presidential candidate, his partner, Paul Ryan, he argued this weekend --
let`s give him some time. Because he had a few interviews, too. He said
he didn`t vote for the automatic defense cuts that he did vote for. Take a
look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NORA O`DONNELL, HOST, FACE THE NATION: So you voted for defense cuts
and now you`re criticizing the president for those same defense cuts that
you voted for and called a victory?

RYAN: No. No. I have to correct you on this, Norah. I voted for a
mechanism that says a sequester will occur if we don`t cut $1.2 trillion in
spending in government.

O`DONNELL: It`s a trillion dollars in defense spending and you voted
for it.

RYAN: I voted for budget control act.

O`DONNELL: that was included in the spending.

RYAN: No. Norah -- Norah, you`re mistaken.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He voted for a mechanism and she was mistaken. But let me
show you what Mr. Ryan absolutely did back this agreement when it was up
and he, in fact, praised the agreement. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN: What this has done, it has brought our two parties together.
And so, I`d just like to take a second to reflect for a moment, the fact
that we have a bipartisan compromise here. That doesn`t happen all that
often around here so I think it`s worth noting. That`s a good thing. This
is a down payment on the problem. It`s a good step in the right direction
and it is a huge cultural change to this institution.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And that is a huge lie he told this reporter.

CRIER: There`s no question about that. But we heard that with the
Medicare, right? We`re going to cut the rate increase from the Democratic
Party and all of a sudden that is devastating, the $700 billion.

What we`re hearing in terms of outright bald face -- and I`m going to
use the word lie, not misrepresentation, is extraordinary in the media on
both sides. Because I would think that Republicans would be demanding the
same sort of information that you`re asking for and that we`re entitled to
facts, we`re entitled to know who and what we`re voting for. And don`t sit
there on television and think that you`re going to get away with absolutely
lying about a position that is so easy to track.

SHARPTON: Well, Jared, let me ask this and then Catherine said she
wasn`t going to say lie but she said lie.

CRIER: I did.

SHARPTON: But Jared, let me ask this question.

BERNSTEIN: Sure.

SHARPTON: Mr. Romney left his convention and he went in to prep for
the debates. Well, if he was prepping for the debates but did not give
specifics, who was he prepping for? I mean, I don`t see how you take off
days to prepare to get ready to say what you`re not going to say until
after the election.

BERNSTEIN: Well, look, I think a lot of people are looking to the
debates for this very reason. In fact, I would say I`m one of them. It`s
very hard to duck --

SHARPTON: But he didn`t give specifics until after the election.

BERNSTEIN: So here you`re going to have a chance, if you are a
President Obama or Joe Biden debating these, you`re going to have a chance
to not only call for specifics, but if you don`t get them, to say right
there with tens of millions of people -- a lot of people haven`t even tuned
in yet. That`s what we`re talking about. So, I continue to believe this
is turning in to a high risk strategy that in part, thankfully, because,
you know, there are folks like yourself trying to shine some light on this.

SHARPTON: Jared Bernstein and Catherine Crier, thanks so much for
your time.

BERNSTEIN: Thank you.

SHARPTON: President Obama is bouncing ahead at the polls and
Republicans are running out of excuses and time.

Plus, the election was supposed to be about the economy but now
Romney`s diving back into the culture wars.

Also, one of Ohio`s top Republicans fired two Democratic officials who
were simply trying to help people vote. Now they are hitting back and
we`ll talk to them live.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Today folks were loving this great photo of President Obama getting a
pick me up from a voter in Florida.

Terence says, this has got to be the pic of the year. Love it.

Jose says he would love to give the president a great bear hug.

But Henrietta says she would give him a fist bump instead.

We`ll have more on the guy who bear hug the president coming up later.
But we want to hear what you think, too. Head over to facebook and search
"Politics Nation" and like us to join the conversation for the conversation
that keeps going long after the show ends.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re getting more evidence that the president is enjoying
a sizeable bounce at the convention. At least four national polls show the
president has moved ahead of Mitt Romney since the Democratic convention.
With CNN poll outlaid this afternoon showing a six-point lead for the
president. Also since the DNC, the president`s favorability rating has
gone up six point. During the same period, Romney has gone down by five
points. Ouch.

Nate Silver from the 538 "New York Times" blog says, quote, "the
conventions may have changed the composition of the race making Mr. Obama
reasonably clear favorite." Don`t tell that to the Romney campaign.

Romney`s polls at the same guy who said fact checkers don`t matter now
says, polls don`t matter either. His new memo says, quote, "don`t get too
worked up about the latest polling. Why some voters will feel a bit of a
sugar high from the conventions, the basic structure to race has not
changed significantly."

A sugar high? Really? With reasoning like that, our dearly diluted
Romney campaign may be in for a (INAUDIBLE) on Election Day.

Joining me now is Nia-Malika Henderson, national political reporter
for "the Washington Post" and Patricia Murphy, editor of "Citizen Jane
Politics."

Thank you both for joining me tonight.

PATRICIA MURPHY, EDITOR, CITIZEN JANE POLITICS: It`s great to be
here.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Thank
you.

SHARPTON: Nia-Malika, just a sugar high or is it a real bounce?

HENDERSON: Well, I mean, it looks like it`s a real bounce. If you
look at all of those polls, I mean, it`s pretty consistent that the
president is leading and that has been the case for much of the summer.
Mitt Romney chose I think for the summer to really focus on fundraising.
He didn`t focus much on introducing himself. And August was supposed to be
a big month for him picking a vice president, reintroducing himself to the
American public through the conventions and it looks like he did not get
anything of a bounce out of that and in many of these polls it shows that
they have stalled.

I think when you get a memo like this, like all reporters and folks
call it following this campaign, got this morning from a pollster that
doesn`t really have any poll numbers in it that doesn`t talk about Florida,
that doesn`t talk about Virginia, that doesn`t talk about Ohio, I think
it`s proof of this campaign is in trouble also that mention of the word
significantly that things haven`t changed significantly. I think that word
in itself suggests that things have sort of changed in the is sense that
they are gelled in a lot of these variables in this campaign are locked in
place and locked in place against Mitt Romney.

SHARPTON: Well, Patricia, clearly when you get those kind of polls
and they don`t have Florida and other things in it Nia-Malika is raising, I
mean, we are after of people that say that fact checking doesn`t matter, so
why do states matter?

But when you look at the fact that the CNN poll says that when they
raise a question, who do you think will win? Fifty nine percent said
President Obama will win and 37 percent says Romney. When you raise a
question of who connects better to middle class and women, more in touch
with problems faces the middle class, 57 to 37. These are significant gaps
in these areas. And you add this to this bounce, does this look real to
you?

MURPHY: Well, you know what, that CNN poll is so important and that
really was the first time since the convention that I started to think that
this really is real because that CNN poll was a much more detailed poll
over the course of several days. All of them after the convention and so
you start to see the impression that the Democrats were able to lead with
that convention and it also makes you look back and think about what
happened during the Republican convention.

We heard a lot about who might be the next generation of Republican
leaders. We heard a lot about Barack Obama, that that entire campaign,
that entire convention was based on a quote that really took President
Obama out of context saying you didn`t build this and almost all we heard
that in all about business from Republican commission unless nothing about
Mitt Romney, contrast that to the Democrats, 72 hour basically infomercial
building up their nominee. And so, I think that we see, especially with
the CNN poll, that that worked for the Democrats.

Will it last? We don`t know that part. Frank Newport from Gallup
said we don`t know how long it`s going to last, but it`s starting to
absolutely look like the Democrats did their job when they held the
convention.

SHARPTON: Now Nia-Malika, when you look at even the fact that "the
Wall Street Journal" has pointed out that Romney`s obstacles in
battleground states and I`m reading, quote, "Romney faces the disconcerting
reality that he isn`t winning most of the states he would need to beat
President Barack Obama."

Now, "the Wall Street Journal" is certainly no friend of the
presidents, saying that he`s facing this disconcerting reality. The polls
don`t look good. What are the options for Romney to even try and turn this
around?

HENDERSON: Well, I think you saw him roll out one of his options of
this weekend. He was in Virginia Beach. I was covering him there and he
started to sort of delve into the culture war, talk about God, talk about
politics, talked about God on the coin as if there is some sort of battle
or we are waging over having in God we trust on the currency.

Also, I think that`s what he sees that he needs to do. In a state
like Virginia, though, the population of voters go to the polls, 20 percent
of those voters are going to be African-American. The latest polls out of
Virginia show about three percent of African-Americans in Virginia actually
support Romney. So in some ways I think he`s seed that African-American
vote so I think he`s got to turn to the real, you know, right wing base of
that party. You saw, for instance, Pat Robertson at that speech on
Saturday. So, that what you see him doing.

But on the other hand, he also seems to be tacking towards the middle
in talking about the health care and of course he back pedaled against that
as well.

SHARPTON: Well, I`m going to get to the cause later in the show. But
let me ask you, in these battleground states, the president is leading in
New Hampshire, Nevada, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Virginia, and
Wisconsin. Romney is leading only in North Carolina, according to the
"Real Clear Politics" and "Politico."

So Patricia, how do you turn this into any kind of winning scenario
given the polling in these critical states that only really gives him one?

MURPHY: Well, I think one reason that Mitt Romney is in particular
trouble here, when his pollsters said, the dynamics haven`t changed
significantly; that is really not true. The biggest dynamic that has
change is time and the Romney campaign is running out of time to make
something happen. And you only get one chance in national convention. You
only really get a couple of chances to make a strong first impression on
voters. They are running away from details. They are not giving details
about the policies that they say they would change if he was the president.

So, I think that he is running out of time and these polls. And the
reason that is significant is 32 states start early voting well, well
before actual voting day. So if the president continues to lead in these
polls, it doesn`t mean he`s just having a good day, any old day before the
election. It means that there are voters in these swing states. North
Carolina is already voting. Voters in these swing states have the ability
to cast their vote for Barack Obama. He can lock that in, 30 percent of
voters in 2008 voted before Election Day. So, every day that he is ahead
in this polls is good news for his campaign.

SHARPTON: That maybe why they are going after early voting in some
circles. But we are going to have to leave it there.

Nia-Malika Henderson, Patricia Murphy. Thank you for your time
tonight.

HENDERSON: Thank you, Rev.

MURPHY: Thank you so much.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, the tea party airs a parent school on national
TV, got to hand it to these folks. They don`t let the facts get in the
way.

And President Obama hugs it out with the Republican supporter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seemed like he was a long lost friend and it
was just amazing. A great connection, he came over and that`s where the
bear hug happened. Just -- I was so caught up in the moment and it was
unbelievable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: You got to handed to those tea party Republican, day six
today of the talking points, no matter what the facts are, just ask
Kentucky senator Rand Paul. On Sunday, Paul refused to breath the
government was shrinking under President Obama. Even when Nobel Prize
winning economist Paul Krugman gave him the facts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Are you into a few government employees under Obama
than they were under Bush?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yes. That`s a fact.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: -- is enormous under President Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: If government employment had grown as fast under
Obama as it did under Bush. We have a million and a half more people
employer right now directly.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: There are less people employed or more people
employed?

(CROSSTALK)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: OK, then. Let`s get some things straight. There are more
than 600,000 fewer government jobs now than when President Obama took
office. Fewer as in less than. That`s right. The public sector have been
shrinking over the last few years. Of course, that`s mostly because
Republicans have gutted government jobs at the state and local level.
Making the nation`s employment picture that much worse.

In fact, the Wall Street Journal reported back in May that if we still
had all of those government jobs, the unemployment rate would be a whole
lot lower at 7.1 percent. Senator Paul and his Tea Party buddies should
focus less than how much to hate the government and more on how to get the
people back to work. Do they think we would notice his latest fact free
appearance? Nice try but we got you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: From day one, he, then Governor Romney, was Mr. Economy,
the businessman that got to create jobs, the man that turned things around.
So, 57 days from the election, here are his great plans for job creation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I become president of the
United States, I will not take God out of my heart. I will not take God
out of the public square and I will not take it out of the platform on my
party.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I will not take God out of my heart? OK. OK. But surely
the weekend Mr. Fix it gave his vision on the economy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I will not take God out of the name of our platform.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

I will not take God off our coins and I will not take God out of my
heart. We`re a nation bestowed by God. We believe in a nation under God,
a nation indivisible and we, the American people, are given our rights not
by government but by God himself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He won`t take God out of his heart and of our coins, did I
miss something? White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, quote, "The
President believes as much that God should be taken off a coin as he does
that aliens will attack Florida. It`s an absurd question to be raised."

But there is a reason Mr. Economy is now Mr. God. He needs the
evangelical base. Over the weekend, Governor Romney had a private meeting
with the far right televangelist Pat Robertson who also showed up at one of
his rallies. And last week, he had conservative evangelical Congressman
Steven King to open for him at an Iowa rally. Mr. Romney`s keeping company
with the French. He`s betting on Christian conservatives. But is he
really just running on a wing and a prayer?

Joining me now is Joe Madison, nationally syndicated radio host of
"Mornings with Madison." And Frank Schaffer, columnist for "The Huffington
Post," and author of "Crazy for God." Thanks to both of you for being here
tonight.

JOE MADISON, SYNDICATED RADIO HOST: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Frank, what do you make of Romney`s turn to God at this
point in his campaign?

FRANK SCHAEFFER, COLUMNIST, "THE HUFFINGTON POST": Well, you know, I
got to speak personally for a man. And I am a Christian and I`m offended
by the fact that the Republican Party keeps using God the same way they use
their billionaires, to bulk up their PACs. God is not a toy. And I think
other Christians, evangelical, Roman Catholic, progressive and others have
really got to start voicing their opinion. And I just want to say, there
are plenty who are.

For instance, on a blog site that I`m part of called patheos.com,
people can read blogs there by Christians and other believers of other
faith from all over the map who objects strenuously to what the Republicans
are doing by trying to use God in a last ditch effort to fool evangelical
right-wing Christians, FOX News viewers into thinking that somehow they are
fighting against a president who is anti-Christian. And this is a lie.

It was a lie when the bishop said it about contraceptive availability
for women working for Roman Catholic institutions and it`s a lie now. But
it`s a filthy lie because it really trades on the religious currency. Talk
about taking God off the coin, it trades on a counterfeit currency of
religion to bolster the campaign that really has to be labeled anti-
Christian fundamentally because of their, despising the poor having a --
disciple of Ayn Rand and all the rest of it. So, I`m just tired of it.

SHARPTON: When you say bulk up like he does with billionaires, how
exactly do you mean that using God and religion to bulk up his campaign?

SCHAEFFER: Look, the Republicans understand that they are losing this
race because sensible Americans like Social Security, Medicaid and they are
sick in paying higher taxes to give a free ride to billionaires. And so
they have to turn to their base. And the last-ditch effort for the base is
talk about the President as somehow being anti-religious as if he wants to
go around and take spend his time scraping God off the coins, talk about
him for being pro-choice --

(CROSSTALK)

No, and these things have never been issues. If the Republicans were
honest, they would talk about the fact that President Obama is pro-life
because he has done more to try to give women who are in problem periods of
their life economically, the economic ability to have children, the medical
care to have families, and all these other things and instead of this, they
just keep lying from the beginning of the day to the end of the day and now
this is just the latest deal. And I say again, I resent this use of God as
a political football by people for ulterior purposes.

SHARPTON: Joe, Romney`s senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom has said, he`s
actually told BuzzFeed that Romney`s campaign message really hasn`t
changed. He says, quote, "The subject has been the economy, is the
economy, and will be the economy. Mitt Romney doesn`t want to change the
subject. He wants to change the economy and that`s what he`s going to do
as president." But people don`t seem to be buying it like they were.

Our President has been trailing him in the past on the economy but now
he has a slight edge. Prior to the DNC, Romney led 51 to 45, on the
economy. Now, the President has taken a lead of 50 to 49. Is it because
we are losing, we are seeing Romney lose the economic issue that he`s not
going to wear Frank, and frankly a lot of us that are believers feel and a
desperate move to try to interject religion and raise issues that are not
even an issue here?

MADISON: Well, let me add -- let me stick to this religious thing.
I`ve heard a few of Reverend Sharpton`s sermons, those of you an audience
of POLITICS NATION and I would rather see a sermon than hear a sermon.
Let`s remember, Mary and Joseph were highly taxed. They had to go travel
to Jerusalem to pay their taxes. The rich folks there at that time didn`t
pay taxes. Hey, you heal those who are sick. Obamacare. You close those
who are naked. You feed those who are hungry.

That`s what Christians are hearing from the Obama administration and
when you look at the public policies, and the budget of Romney and what
they plan to do to working people and poor people in this country, it is
unchristian. So you just can`t throw God out there and then say it`s a
great sermon. The question is, how do you live that sermon? How do you
govern that sermon? And that`s what I think is why you are seeing this
rise because people would rather see a sermon than hear one.

SHARPTON: Frank, when you look at the fact that Romney met with Pat
Robertson this weekend, let`s show a few things that Robertson believes in.
Pat Robertson has said that God will destroyer America because of gay
marriage. He says, Democrats are the party of godlessness. He says,
adopting foreign children orphans is wrong. And he believes President
Obama has a Muslim inclination. This is who the presidential nominee of
the Republican Party was with this weekend. Your response to that?

SCHAEFFER: Well, Mitt Romney should have listened to John McCain`s
better angels who called Pat Robertson an agent of intolerance. You know,
one just insane thing that happened a while back, somebody sent me the
clips, so I`m not making this up. Pat Robertson got a question on his show
from a woman, a man who was having marital disputes with a woman who
wouldn`t do what he said and he advised this guy to go to Saudi Arabia
where it would be legal to beat his wife. And I thought that is just a
crazy joke and then he repeats it at the end of the segment.

So, you know, we`re talking about a right wing religious group of
people that are genuinely unhinged. Listen, you know, anybody who has read
this memoir of mine crazy for God who understands that I come from this
background, my father was a religion right leader. I knew Pat Robertson
well. I was on his show four or five times. You know, when you get to
folks like Pat Robertson or the late Jerry Falwell or now Mitt Romney and
others who are using God in this political way, they are really anti-
Christian.

I want to repeat it. If you`re following Jesus, let`s just say we
don`t know who Jesus is but we do know what he said about the poor, we know
what he said about caring for people. Jesus` philosophy was not Ayn Rand`s
philosophy that the wealthy of his word should triumph and the poor are
just dirt under their feet. That`s not what Jesus though. And yet, Ayn
Rand and not philosophy, that corporate American philosophy that is now
pouring in with $100 million donors to these PACs that Romney is trying to
buy his election with, these folks are not just using God in a wrong way.

I want to go a step further, I think they are anti-Christian and as a
Christian, I not only resent the misuse of God in this campaign against
what I think is one of our best presidents who has dug us out of one of the
deepest holes we`re in but I resent it as a Christian.

SHARPTON: Joe, let me ask you this. Because we`re running out of
time, Fred. Let me ask Joe this. Because I agree with a lot of your
theological views and very passionate about it as a minister. But Joe,
isn`t the real point that Americans should not have to go through a --
scriptures of who is right or wrong, those of us that look at Christianity
one way or another or whatever religion but that we ought to be talking
about the policies regardless of to what people`s religious beliefs are?
This is a democracy, not a theocracy.

MADISON: And our constitution speaks to that very point. That`s
exactly what the founders and the right wing love to quote the founders,
they understood that. We are not a theocracy. We are democracy and we
respect all religions but most important of all we respect human dignity.

SHARPTON: Right.

MADISON: And when you repeat what Pat Robertson said, I have my own
Pat Robertson story. When we went to Sudan, remember the two of us, to
free slaves. I met with Pat Robertson and I asked for help. You know what
he said, get them guns.

SHARPTON: Well, I did a commercial with Pat Robertson for Al Gore
about climate warming and we sat on a couch right by the water. We never
did resolve who was going to walk on that water. Joe Madison and Frank
Schaeffer, thanks for your time tonight and thank you for joining me.

Coming up, Ohio`s republican secretary of state is doing everything he
can to suppress the vote but Ohions won`t stop fighting.

Two election officials who are fired for just standing up have filed a
lawsuit. They will join us next live.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The battle for Ohio is fierce and republican Secretary of
State John Husted appears to be doing everything he can to unfairly tip the
scales. Husted claims he`s committed, quote, "To making voting uniform
easy and fair and secure." But he`s trying to kill early voting on
weekends. But today, two election officials that Husted fired for standing
up for more voting are fighting back. They file a lawsuit saying, they are
wrongly, there were wrongly fired for refusing to file early voting hours.

Joining me now are Dennis Lieberman and Thomas Ritchie, the two
democratic election officials fired by the Ohio secretary of state. Thanks
to both of you for being on this show.

THOMAS RITCHIE, FORMER OHIO ELECTIONS OFFICIAL: Thank you.

DENNIS LIEBERMAN, FORMER OHIO ELECTIONS OFFICIAL: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Thomas, let me start with you. Why did you file this
lawsuit today?

RITCHIE: Well, we think the Secretary of State is wrong in his
actions. We think that we did not disobey the order and all we attempted
to do was to ensure that early vote was allowed here in our county as we
have done in the previous election.

SHARPTON: So, Dennis, you`re really just doing what you always did.
Were Husted`s moves that you continued the traditional way. What would be
the impact of voters in Ohio to what Husted tried to do, or is trying to
do?

LIEBERMAN: What he`s trying to do, in my opinion, is to suppress the
vote. Meaning that we had 29,000 people that voted early in Montgomery
County alone and 100,000 across a state. And by limiting the number of
hours that they can vote early or by taking away weekends, it limits the
opportunities that people have to vote and what he`s hoping is that there
will be less Democrats that vote, over 40 percent of those in Montgomery
County that voted early were African-American. And I really think this is
a concerted effort to restrict voters in Ohio. And that`s something that
we`re not going to sit down for. We`re going to fight that.

SHARPTON: Now, let me go back to you a minute, Tom. Husted ran John
McCain`s campaign in `08. So, he`s a partisan guy. He knows the facts
that was just laid out by Dennis, he knows the amount of voters, the large
percentage of Democrats, and in that county, 40 percent were African-
American. All you`re doing is what was always done since these early
voting days were put there and weekends which includes -- polls which
maximizes people`s right to vote, whoever they vote for, this is what
democracy is supposedly about. Am I right?

RITCHIE: Absolutely. And that`s all worth something to do is to
ensure that right to the people of this county and this state.

SHARPTON: Do you think that you, then, Tom, are being targeted
because you are not going along with a scheme that in effect would
undermine would may be a partisan desire by the Secretary of State since he
has such a partisan background?

RITCHIE: Absolutely. If he`s able to squash us, and he`s coming with
the board of elections in the state. You better not speak up, you better
not speak out and you better not stand up for the people of this state.

SHARPTON: Now, Tom, when you file the lawsuit, your hopes are to do
what? I know that it`s not just not about money. But you really want to
expose what here in this lawsuit?

RITCHIE: Well, we want to make sure that the people of this state
understand the importance of giving the vote out, making sure that all
people have equal access, and certainly it`s not about the money with
Dennis and I. It`s about doing the right thing. From the very beginning,
all we wanted to do was what we voted to do in 2008 and then again in 2012.
We wanted to continue the practice and we wanted to make sure that everyone
had equal access, equal opportunity, and were given the assistance that
they needed in this county.

SHARPTON: Dennis, I had both of you on before and as this was going
back and forth, you knew it was possible that you would be fired. Why
would you two men, mature men with responsibilities, why would you go this
far Dennis to where now you don`t have a job?

LIEBERMAN: Well, you know, like I said last time, when I was on your
show, you can get another job but you can`t get another conscience. And
this is so meaningful to the people in Ohio and to Montgomery County that I
just couldn`t stand for it and neither could Tom and we had to stand up and
be counted and we have done that. I mean, to me, it`s ridiculous to
suggest that in Ohio, you can buy alcohol on Sundays but you can`t vote.

SHARPTON: Wow. You can buy alcohol but you can`t vote. I`ve got to
leave it there. You are two patriots as far as I`m concerned. Tom
Ritchie, Dennis Lieberman, thank you both for being here. And we`ll be
watching where this goes. We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Finally tonight, the presidential bear hug. It`s the
snapshot everyone is talking about. President Obama lifted off the ground
by Scott Van Duzer, a Florida pizza shop owner.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: Scott what`s going on, man?
Scott, let me tell you, Scott, you are like the biggest pizza shop owner
I`ve ever seen, man.

SCOTT VAN DUZER, FLORIDA PIZZA SHOP OWNER: You have no idea.

OBAMA: Everybody look at these guns. If I eat your pizza, will I
look like that?

VAN DUZER: You`ve got it. Come on, here.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: Look at that. Look at that.

VAN DUZER: Man, I`m so excited.

OBAMA: Mean, are you a power lifter or what?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The power lifter talked about the media on this network
earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VAN DUZER: When he came in, he busted through my front door and said,
where`s Scott? And from that moment on, it seemed like he was a long lost
friend.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: This long lost friend also happens to be also be a
republican. A republican small business owner who voted for President
Obama in 2008 and will vote for him again this year. Here`s part of the
reason why.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VAN DUZER: I was just, you know, taken back by, you know, his
dedication and just seemed like a great guy and he really is a great guy
now after I met him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: A great guy. This is the kind of moment that can`t be
manufactured. It`s one of those campaign moments we`ll always remember.
If the Romney campaign was smart, they would be looking forebear hugs
today. But you usually get embraced, Mr. Romney, by those that you do
embrace. I guess you`ll have to stay in a quiet room where you whisper
about loopholes.

Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.

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

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