updated 9/14/2012 11:12:41 AM ET 2012-09-14T15:12:41

POLITICS NATION
September 13, 2012

Guests: Michael Tomasky, Bob Shrum, Alicia Menendez, Chaka Fattah, Daylin Leach


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

Today`s lead, 44 hours later, and no apology from Governor Romney.
Mr. Romney though back in hot words on the stop in Virginia not repeating
his ugly claim that President Obama was apologizing for America in the wake
of the tragedy in Libya. But here`s what happened as he began to address
the subject.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We`re thinking about the
families and those he left behind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are you politicizing Libya?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Why are you politicizing Libya? It`s a question that many
is - are beginning to ask the question and want answered. It`s now been
two days since his first disgraceful criticism of this country`s response
to the violent attacks that left four dead.

Today, an avalanche of fact checker says his attack was flat out
wrong. Here are the headlines.

Romney misstates facts on attacks, Romney gets it backward. Fact
checker says no to Romney. Apology claims.

Let`s be clear. Governor Romney claims the Obama administration
apologized for American values after U.S. embassies were attacked. This is
not true. And the president agrees.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It appears that
governor Romney doesn`t have his facts right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Criticism of the president in moments when Americans are
under attack is no time for politics and to have the facts wrong just
compounds the wrong. So knowing this, why wouldn`t he correct the record?
Why won`t he admit the mistake? Because it fits right into the political
attack he and Paul Ryan have been trying to make, that President Obama
weakens America by apologizing for America. It`s an awful, mean-spirited
claim and most shocking that the president sympathizes with terrorists.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: The administration was wrong to stand by a statement
sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt instead of
condemning their actions. It`s never too early for the United States
government to condemn attacks on Americans.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I disagree with the
original statements that the embassy put out, that the administration put
out in Cairo sympathizing with the people who were storming the embassy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Sympathizing with those storming the embassy. Think about
this. Romney and Ryan are saying the president of the United States
sympathizes with terrorists. It should be shocking. Yet again, they are
trying to paint President Obama as the other. Governor Romney also
attacked the president`s American values.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: A terrible course for America to stand in apology for our
values and apology for America`s values is never the right course. A
statement which is akin to an apology is disgraceful statement on the part
of our administration to apologize for American values.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It`s absurd, of course. Here`s how President Obama talked
today about his real American values.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: To all those who would do us harm, no act of terror would go
unpunished. It will not dim the light of the values that we proudly
present to the rest of the world. No act of violence shakes the resolve of
the United States of America. We`re a nation bound together by a creed.
The idea that all men and women are created equal, that we are all endowed
by our creator with an alienable certain rights.

Our task is the most powerful nation on earth is to defend and attack
and advance our people but also to defend and protect and advance those
values at home and around the world. That`s what we believe. Those are
the values that we hold to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Those are the values we hold to. It`s a stark contrast to
Governor Romney refusing to correct the record. It shows his true
character. He will do, I say, anything to win. Is this a man you want
running your country?

Joining us is Joan Walsh, editor at large for salon.com and an MSNBC
political analyst, and David Corn, Washington bureau chief for "Mother
Jones," also an MSNBC political analyst.

Thanks to both of you for being here tonight.

JOAN WALSH, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, SALON.COM: Thanks, Reverend Al.

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure thing.

SHARPTON: David, Romney touted back today but still he has not
corrected his mistake. What is your assessment about this?

CORN: Well, you know, when you read a book called "no apology" you
are really putting yourself in a bad position. I don`t know what he does
at home with Ann, but you know, he made a very mad mistake, you know, to
call the president a sympathizer with people who kill Americans is to
essentially equate him with treasonous, traitorous behavior.

Last night on "Hardball" I could think of was, this is sort of the
moment when so in need to say to him, have you no decency? You know,
you`ve got Mark Halperin; you got people in the middle, people on the left,
a few people on the right saying that he just really set a new low.

And I have to think that somewhere, Mitt Romney, the guy who gave us
Romney care, the guy who helps his neighbors through his Mormon church does
have a, you know, an inkling of a conscience and must know, that you know,
that he exploited the tragic death before Americans and said something that
was true. Yet, he is so boxed in. He is so far from that human part of
him that he can`t come back to daylight.

SHARPTON: But Joan, it`s not only not true about the president saying
or doing that --

WALSH: Right.

SHARPTON: -- it`s not even true in the sequence of events. The
statement that was put out was put out before there was an attack. So that
even is factually wrong in terms of the sequence, yet some right-wing
pundits are backing Romney up. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He should be very
aggressive and he should be adamant in his attacks on Obama`s record.

ANN COULTER, AUTHOR, COLUMNIST: They were testing us with the initial
attacks and what do they get back from the Obama administration? A
complaint about - about some of this protectoral film that is insulted the
little government`s feelings.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: You have Obama apologizing for
America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was thankful that we had a leader that defended
the United States of America and said that there will be consequences if
you attack.

COULTER: Well, this is the consistent --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, they all conveniently leave out the statement that
was made it was the calmest situation and there had been no attacks.

WALSH: There has been no attack. So, it wasn`t apologizing for the
attacks. It wasn`t responding for the attacks and it was also not coming
from the president. And you know, Reverend Al, David Corn and I also agree
but I have to take issue with him on this. Because I`m not sure that we
know that Mitt Romney has a core, has a soul, has a conscience anymore. I
think this is a deliberate decision and I think we saw a piece of
information that came out today in the Pew poll that shows that the number
of conservatives who believe that our president is a Muslim has doubled
since October 2008.

And that is the point. Every time John Boehner says it`s not my job
to the tell the American people what to think and every time Rick Santorum
doesn`t stand up to a woman in our audience who calls our president a
Muslim and every time that Mitt Romney accuses him of sympathizing with
people who murder Americans, they are playing on the only card they`ve got
left, which is that fear and that wrong belief that our president is
Muslim. They are doing it deliberately.

SHARPTON: And this other things, because, David, you are talking
about -- let`s be real clear. You`re talking about the man that killed
Osama bin Laden, or gave the order to kill bin Laden. I mean, let`s go
through the record. How can you take this man and say he`s killing
terrorists when he did with the preceding president couldn`t or wouldn`t or
didn`t do.

CORN: And you know our friends on the left side get upset that
Obama`s using drones to take out dozens of al-Qaeda leaders. He was very
forceful, more forceful than European allies in getting rid of Moammar
Gadhafi who was a Muslim the last time I checked. And so, he hasn`t
sympathized with those people.

To me what is sort of bizarre here, when you get out there and a guy
who killed Osama bin Laden and you say that he`s appeasing and apologizing,
I mean, Joan is right. That only plays to the far right base. And if
Romney hasn`t figured this out yet, we`re not in the primaries any longer.

SHARPTON: Right.

CORN: And I have a hard time believing that independents out there go
for this clap chat. And when they hear, you know, pundits and politicians
in the middle say that it`s really a low blow; that means more to them than
what Michelle Malkin or Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh is going to say. It
could be that Romney is just so embedded in the need to play cake
conservatives in the primary season that he can`t break free from that
filter and he`s trapped in this bizarre planet.

WALSH: I think that`s true.

SHARPTON: But when we look at that, Joan, one in five people in Ohio
think the president is Muslim, when we hear this language of Reince
Priebus, the chair of the DNC tweeted just hours after Romney`s first
comment that Obama sympathizes with the attackers in Egypt, sad and
pathetic. You know, they couldn`t have all just picked this up by some
coincidence. It`s almost like a strategy to make him a terrorist
sympathizer, a Muslim, even though there is nothing wrong with them if that
is their religion and to make him other than American. And this is all
kind of implications on that, Joan.

WALSH: They have been saying that all along, Reverend Al. And, you
know, David is right. I mean, normally a man or a woman, hopefully someday
a woman, comes out of the primary season and attacks to the center, whether
they are a Democrat or Republican, they want to talk to the swing voters.

But this year they decided that they don`t see a course for them in
doing that. So, every once in a while Romney may say something that is
little bit like, oh, I like parts of Obama care and then he has to reverse
himself.

This is going to be a base strategy. It`s about appealing to the core
of their base, the zenith-phobic sometimes fearful core and that is what
they are comfortable doing, whether it`s Reince Priebus or Mitt Romney
himself. That is what they are up to.

SHARPTON: Let me tell you why I am suggesting that it may be more of
a coincidence because in 2006 the Bush administration condemned Danish
cartoons that sparked protests. Let me show you this.

Mr. Bush administration, Sean McCormack of the state department in
February of 2006 said, quote, "we find them offensive and we certainly
understand why Muslims would find these images offensive." Now, did he
apologize? Was he sympathizing with those that were protesting?

So it is clear that they are taking this position for desperate,
political reasons or other reasons because they have not taken this
position when George Bush and the Republicans were in the White House and
had protests around these cartoons in the dangerous cartoons.

CORN: Don`t tell me, reverend, that you`re expecting consistency out
of that side. But I -- you know, after what you said and Joan says, you
know, it occurs to me that I wonder if they have internal polling showing
that he`s just not making enough headway with the independents.

WALSH: Right.

CORN: Because of Bain, because of, you know, his own taxes, because
of his inability to campaign as a human being, whatever it might be, and
that the only chance that they think they have in places like Ohio,
Florida, and Virginia, is squeezing every single vote out of the far right
base that they can manage, which is kind of the Bush strategy in Ohio
against John Kerry in 2004 using the, you know, the state proposition
against guy marriage and other things to get out all of those mega churches
and the far right vote. Then maybe, that`s what they have decided now.
And we are just keeps finding these fake, phony issues and they are not
going to be dictated to by fact checkers as they told us quite openly.

SHARPTON: Well, Joan Walsh and David Corn, I want to have to leave it
there. I think the sad part is the step over four American patriots`
bodies in order to do this. This is also despicable.

But, thank you for joining me tonight.

WALSH: Thanks, Reverend Al.

CORN: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Shoot first, aim later is how President Obama described
Governor Romney. So it`s no surprise the Bushes have his back. Donald
Rumsfeld is leading the defense. You can`t make it up.

Plus, it`s the burning question. Why is Governor Romney doing this?
Why is he so desperate? We know why. Tonight, some big news in the swing
states just came out.

And fireworks inside the courtroom, the voter ID law goes to the
Pennsylvania Supreme Court. It`s all on the line ground zero in the fight
for your voting rights. We`re live in Philadelphia tonight.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: They are back. Guess who is defending the Romney team?
That`s right. Here comes the Bush brigade. Time to duck and cover, that`s
next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Governor Romney has a tendency to shoot first and aim later.
And as president, one of the things I`ve learned is you can`t do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Shoot first and aim later. That`s President Obama`s take
on Governor Romney`s approach on foreign policy. I know that foreign
policy. I remember that foreign policy. I live through that foreign
policy. Shoot first and aim later defined the Bush administration. And
while most Republicans are staying away from the Romney controversy, the
Bush team is circling the wagons.

There`s Liz Cheney saying America is no longer feared in a "Wall
Street Journal" op-ed today. Then, there`s the Dan, senior, the spokesman
for the U.S.-led government in Iraq under President Bush. Now a Romney
adviser who thinks Obama`s Middle East policy is a disaster. Now, how
that`s for irony? A man who defended the war in Iraq is slamming President
Obama on foreign policy.

And here comes the big one. Donald Rumsfeld, the man who helped
leaders into two disastrous wars is weighing in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD RUMSFELD, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: You don`t see these
kinds of things happening unless the people engaging in them are pretty
darn sure that there`s no penalty for it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: As bill Clinton would say, this takes brass. There were
12, 12 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities under George Bush, 12. Eight
while Rumsfeld was serving. How is that for hypocrisy?

And what`s worst, these are the folks that Romney is aligning himself
with. They are the people coming to his defense and guiding his policies.
Do we really want to go back to shoot and aim later?

Joining me now is Michael Tomasky, special correspondent for
"Newsweek" and "the Daily Beast." He`s writing today about Mitt Romney`s
total neo-con melt down.

Michael, thanks for coming on the show tonight.

MICHAEL TOMASKY, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, NEWSWEEK, THE DAILY BEAST: My
pleasure, Al.

SHARPTON: You talk extensively about the Romney connection to the
Bush foreign policy in your column. Why is Romney doubling down on it?

TOMASKY: He`s doubling down because he`s playing to that base, as
David and Joan said I thought very well in the previous statement, he
probably doesn`t have anywhere else to go. He has some pathological need
to placate this base that goes beyond, I think, near strategy. He just
needs their approval in some very strange sort of way.

I don`t know what he actually believes. He probably actually needs
nothing. But, he needs the approval of this group and he feels that he
needs the support of this group to get to the White House.

The scary thing about it, for all of us and not just for Democrats and
Liberals, but for all Americans really, and certainly for swing voters is
as they concern, they are both here is, as your setup said, a return to
those kinds of foreign policy, to that kind of Bellicose, you know, you are
with us or against us foreign policy that created all of this trouble in
the first place. So many of his advisers, Al, as you know, are Bush
administration veterans and, you know, we`re gearing up for a replay of
Bush foreign policy.

SHARPTON: Well, then let`s get specific, Mike.

TOMASKY: Yes.

SHARPTON: Bolton -- John Bolton, he`s a former Bush official turned
00 he turned on a Bush administration for not being more hawkish on Iran.
He once suggested a nuclear attack on Iran. And he`s one of Mr. Bush`s - I
mean, Mr. Romney`s advisers, goes for black, oversaw enhanced interrogation
and torture techniques for the CIA and was a former vice chairman of
Blackwater USA. He`s an adviser to Mr. Romney.

Michael Hayden was a national security agency director and CIA
director under Bush. He designed Bush`s domestic spying program at NSA. I
mean, it`s on and on and on. These are the people that are advising him on
foreign policy.

TOMASKY: Yes. It`s quite a lineup and they are the kind of people
that if he is elected are probably going to be in his administration or
serving in some way. You know the rumors as well as I do, that John Bolton
is on the list of neo-conservative pressure groups to become the secretary
of state if Romney is the president.

SHARPTON: Well, let me again show you how right, Mike Tomasky you
are. Romney said this about John Bolton. He says, quote, "John`s wisdom,
clarity and courage are qualities that should typify our foreign policy."
Unbelievable.

TOMASKY: It`s really something. And you know, you got to consider
and people voters should really consider what is the stakes are going to be
in a world over the next four years, with Netanyahu itching right to launch
some kind of strike against Iran.

SHARPTON: Right.

TOMASKY: With what is going on in Syria. And Iran and Syria, you put
those two together, Al, and as you know, that is a really serious - I mean,
Iraq is AAA farm team compared to getting involved in Iran and Syria. If
these people want to start wars in Iran and Syria, you could well be
talking -- I`m not being hyperbolic here. You could be talking about World
War III.

SHARPTON: Michael, that is frightening. But, I must for sure on
this. You said there was some psychological need, not just strategic that
it seems, to have for this crowd. What do you mean by that?

TOMASKY: Well, just the evidence that I see, Al, just goes beyond
what basic political strategy would suggest. On every single issue --
every single issue, foreign and domestic, I really can`t think of one issue
over the course of the past -- you know, 14 months or whatever it is on
which he has placated to the right, on which he has tried to do anything
other than placate and suck up to the right.

And he has made a couple of errors, you might recall over the course
of the months. He said something wrong in Ohio. I think it was about the
worker of the placement bill. He took the wrong position on that. But,
within two hours, he turned around, no, no, no. He went on a right-wing
radio show and said, no, no, no. Of course I support that bill.

That`s the pattern. That`s the pattern. It`s as if -- I don`t know.
It`s as if -- David Corn was talking about it in the last segment. It`s as
if he doesn`t -- he`s missing something inside him that he`s trying to find
by doing this or something.

SHARPTON: Well, we`re going to keep watching it and keep seeing where
this goes.

Michael Tomasky, thanks for your time this evening. Good to see you.

TOMASKY: Great pleasure. Likewise.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, new reports about the desperate motives behind
Romney`s Middle East policy. First, we`ll look at how Romney`s policies
are trying to defend the indefensible. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Mitt Romney`s campaign is desperately trying to get other
Republicans to stand by his botched response to the attacks in the Middle
East. And since it`s hard to defend the indefensible, they sent out some
handy talking points. So let`s see if his surrogates got the memo. Let`s
start with an easy one.

The Romney memo says, we will not apologize to our constitutional
right to freedom of speech.

Here is the Romney adviser.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We should be defending our principles of Free
speech.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Very good. Free Speech. You nailed that talking point.
Let`s try another one. The Romney memo says the Obama campaign is now
attacking Governor Romney for being critical of the same statement the
administration itself disavowed.

All right. Here are the Romney advisors.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Look what the White House said about it later which
is they thought that was not the appropriate response.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Which the administration itself nine hours later
disavowed.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: What I`m saying is frankly what the White House is
saying now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Not bad. I like how you got disavowed in there. You`re
distorting the facts but really hitting the message. Now for a tough one.
Romney memo. Did Governor Romney jump the gun? No. It`s never too soon
to stand up for American values. Here`s the Romney advisers attempt to
pull that off.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

So, I think that was his first reaction and I think it was a correct
reaction. We don`t want to change it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: We`ll give you that one an A for effort and an F for
decency. Romney`s first reaction was offensive. And it just went downhill
from there. But, hey, they have some great talking points. Did you think
we wouldn`t notice that they are on message but totally out of line? Nice
try but we`ve got you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Governor Romney`s response to the Middle East embassy
attacks has been one train wreck after another. But believe it or not,
this is a fight he wanted to have. He was looking for it. The "New York
Times" went inside the Romney campaign for an article today about the
thinking behind his decision to go big on the attacks. The "Times" says,
quote, "Already on the defensive for not mentioning Afghanistan in his
convention speech and losing some ground in recent polls, Mr. Romney saw an
opportunity to draw a stark contrast."

In fact, Romney was so eager to pounce on this that he personally read
and approved the campaign statement before it was sent out. Mr. Romney
needed a distraction from his flailing campaign, a way to change the
subject from his sinking poll numbers. But it turns out the cure has been
worse than the disease.

Joining me now is democratic strategist Bob Shrum, senior adviser to
the Kerry and Gore campaigns, who also run Ted Kennedy`s campaign against
Romney in 1994. And Alicia Menendez, host and producer for HuffPost Live.
Thank you both for joining me.

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Glad to be here.

ALICIA MENENDEZ, HUFFPOST LIVE: Hi, Rev.

SHARPTON: Bob, what strategist would possibly think this was a good
idea?

SHRUM: The same kind of strategist who led George Armstrong Custer to
the battle of the little big horn. Custer embraced that opportunity.
Look, Romney succeeded if that`s what he wanted in creating a distraction.
He also came across as a transparent opportunist exploiting a national
tragedy on 9/11. He looked craven and incompetent in national security at
the same time. And he did that all with a smirk.

I used to think that his campaign was deficient. I now think he`s
just a bad candidate. He has instinctively bad judgment. We saw it in the
republican primary debate, we saw it in his overseas trip, we`ve seen it
this week. You know, this is a gut who lost the summer, he lost the
conventions and this week he lost his head.

SHARPTON: Alicia, but aside from a bad candidate, we are talking
about four American officials dead. At what point out of a sense of
decency, a respect for their families and patriotism do we stop and say
wait a minute here maybe I jumped too quickly and let`s put politics aside
and deal with the situation?

MENENDEZ: Well, if you`re waiting for an apology from Mitt Romney or
his campaign, I wouldn`t wait for very long. We know that that is not his
foretellers and you look at most polling, and you see that now voters trust
President Obama to handle foreign policy issues about 12 points over Mitt
Romney and we understand why. What he did was deeply unpresidential, it
was irresponsible, it was really, you know, rude and insensitive to the
families who did those people. This should not have been politicized and
he should have followed the lead of other Republicans who really, you know,
did come out praised Secretary Clinton, praised President Obama for their
handling of the situation and leave it at that.

SHARPTON: Well, Bob, Alicia mentioned poll numbers. President Obama
when the question was raised a bit on handling foreign policy, President
Obama, 54 percent, Governor Romney, 39. Even on economy and jobs, which
was Romney`s strong suit, FOX News has them tied. CNN has Obama up one.
Washington Post has them up two and on jobs and the economy where he was
trailing before.

SHRUM: Yes, I think that`s a trend that`s going to continue. I think
it came out of the democratic convention. It`s also probably coming out of
the real world. But look, Romney today, another act of opportunism, that
nobody is paying a lot of attention too came out and attack the Federal
Reserve board for trying to spur job creation.

SHARPTON: Right.

SHRUM: He`s rooting for a recession. And Alicia is right. He
doesn`t have the judgment to be president. What do we elect these guys
for? We elect them because of their programs, we elect them because they
stand for certain things but ultimately we elect these guys or hopefully
someday a woman because they have the judgment to sit in the Oval Office
and face an unexpected crisis and do the right thing. Whenever he`s
presented with something unexpected, Mitt Romney seems almost instinctively
to do the wrong thing. He`s not up for primetime and he`s not fit for the
presidency.

SHARPTON: Alicia, the President in swing states in a new NBC Marist
Wall Street Journal poll, this are the figures that real stand, this are
brand new just out tonight. In Ohio, President Obama is up seven points
over Mitt Romney. In Florida, up five points. In Virginia, he`s up five
points. This is real, real, real bad news for Mr. Romney.

MENENDEZ: It is bad news for Mitt Romney. You know, I do think that
we`ll continue to see those numbers close as we get closer and closer to
November. But listen, if Obama can take Florida, then this is game over.
You see them doubling down with advertisements in the Miami media market.
He`s maintaining a really healthy lead in that region. You see,
conversely, Romney maintaining a really healthy lead in the northern part
of Florida. And that means the Florida is going to come down to that I-4
corridor and there`s a lot of work that both campaigns will put in there.
And there`s a lot of time between now and Election Day and it will come
down to who has the best game on the ground. I know, people are going to
spend millions in advertising. That`s beginning right now. But they will
ultimately need to register and turn those voters out.

SHARPTON: Bob, the fact that you`re seeing this shift in these poll
numbers that just came out tonight, Ohio, Florida, Virginia, let`s listen
to Bill Clinton who spoke at the DNC. I want to show you some highlights
of his speech.

SHRUM: I love watching this.

(CROSSTALK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. PRES. BILL CLINTON (D), UNITED STATES: We`re all in this
together is a far better philosophy than you`re on your own.

I actually never learned to hate them the way the far right that now
controls their party seems to hate our president. It takes some brass to
attack a guy from doing what you did. As another president once said,
they`re they go again. What new ideas do we bring to Washington? I always
give a one word answer. Arithmetic. No one could have fully repaired all
the damage that he found in just four years.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: In these swing states, do you think Bill Clinton`s speech
was the beginning of the turnaround for the president in these states?

SHRUM: I think it was a big part of the turnaround. I think the
whole convention helped turn it around. Because, you know, the President
did something very interesting and I may have said this before. He kind of
took out the trash. He answered all of these arguments the Republicans are
making and that Obama could come in and give a speech that says, here`s
where I want to go, here`s where I want to take the future. And by the
way, I think the arguments that you heard from a lot of pundits about the
President`s speech, totally wrong.

I believe that speech was tested as it was given and went through the
roof. But you put those two speeches together and I think you have a
situation where, as time goes on, unless Romney does something in this
first debate that we don`t expect, I`m not sure these polls are going to
close that much. Because people have decided Obama is better on foreign
policy, Obama will stand up for the middle class, Bush caused the economic
mess and it is going to get better.

SHARPTON: Bob Shrum and Alicia Menendez, I`ve got to hold it there,
thanks to both of you for your time.

MENENDEZ: Thanks, Rev.

SHRUM: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, ground zero in the fight for your voting rights.
Fireworks inside the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. We`re live in
Philadelphia.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: There were fireworks in the courtroom today in the big
hearing over Pennsylvania`s appalling Philadelphia voter ID laws. The
state`s highest court heard arguments on whether to uphold the law with one
justice making it clear what he thought was behind it all.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUSTICE SEAMUS MCCAFFERY, PENNSYLVANIA SUPREME COURT: Could it be
politics, maybe? Do we have maybe one of the leaders in the legislature
standing up and saying that now it enables a certain person to win?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Here`s what the justice was talking about. This doozy of a
line from the house republican majority leader.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STATE REP. MIKE TURZAI (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Voter ID, which is going to
allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Also today, the lawyer for the state who is trying to
defend his voter ID law was literally laughed at when he claimed it was
easy to get a voter ID.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The burden, it seems to me, is quite minimal.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It`s minimal if you have a voter ID.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It is minimal even if you don`t, Justice Todd
because most people can get voter IDs quite easily.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And one justice delivered this devastating critique of the
absurdity of the voter ID law.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAFFERY: My court photo ID for the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
with the chief justice`s signature on it actually unlocks doors to this
building, but yet it does not qualify because it does not have an
expiration date on it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Unbelievable. The court voter ID for a Supreme Court
Justice in Pennsylvania is not good enough to let him vote. Now, it`s up
to him and five our justices to decide whether to uphold the law.

Joining me now is Congressman Chaka Fattah, democrat of Pennsylvania
and democratic state Senator Daylin Leach. He`s been a leader in the fight
against the new voter ID law. Thank you both for joining me.

STATE SEN. DAYLIN LEACH (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Good to be with you.

REP. CHAKA FATTAH (D), PENNSYLVANIA: It`s a pleasure to be here and -
-

SHARPTON: State senator, let me start with you. State Senator Leach,
you are in the courtroom today. So there are three Republicans and three
democratic justices. What do you expect to happen?

LEACH: Well, I think at a three to three decision along partisan
lines, it would not only be unfortunate, I think it would undermine
confidence in the court as a judicial body rather than a political body.
Watching the questioning and it`s always risky to make predictions based on
the questioning of justices but there seems to be a real interest in how
long it would take to get everyone the ID. And there was a lot of talk
about, if we delay these two years, that would give a lot more time to get
the ID for people but also, you know, what`s the hurry?

That question was asked over and over again, what`s the hurry? And
the state, the only thing the state could say is, there really is no hurry
but the legislature decided that way, so we should defer to them. But that
didn`t seem to impress a lot of the justices. My prediction is, it`s not a
three to three decision where an evenly divided court upholds the lower
court. My prediction is, we`ll actually have the court weighing on this,
and I think there`s a really good chance we`ll at least see a delay in the
implementation date of this law.

SHARPTON: Now, we`ve had one judge uphold it. It`s up to these
judges, these six to overturn it. Congressman Fattah, you have been
passionate about this issue. Up to 1.5 million Pennsylvania voters don`t
have voter ID. This could literally not only determine the election in
terms of your state but it could literally disenfranchise over a million
voters in your state.

FATTAH: Well, Reverend, let me tell you something. We have seen the
courts in Texas, Florida, Ohio, strike down these types of laws, and I
think you`re going to see a very substantial majority of the state`s
Supreme Court, not just strike down the law but uphold the state
constitution which says that in our state constitution that one`s right to
vote cannot be appraised in anyway.

So, I think that you saw in the back of -- I think the great state
senator is correct that the action in the court was telling because the
justices were asking very determined questions and I think that the state`s
attorneys were not in a very good position to argue that point of view.
So, I`m very optimistic but let me assure you, no matter what the ruling --

SHARPTON: So you think from what you saw in the court today that they
may rule against the voter ID law. You are more optimistic than most of
us?

FATTAH: I am very optimistic that we`re going to get a strong
majority of the court to either delay the implementation or strike down the
law altogether and I don`t think it`s going to be a partisan vote. The
justices, I think on the point that you focused on, the fact that their own
ID would not allow in the new vote, for military IDs which in the case of
many of our military don`t have expiration dates or any employee of a
school district wouldn`t allow their ID to be used.

SHARPTON: Senator Leach, I see you trying to get in here.

LEACH: I`m sorry. If I could just make a subtle point here which is
that the justices asked the lawyers for our side. If everyone magically
had an ID, the law still be unconstitutional? And the lawyer -- our side
said, no, the unconstitutionality is in the burden of attaining an ID. And
so, I think at the end of the day, they probably won`t strike down the law,
they will uphold the concept based on those questions but the whole
argument after that was, how long will it take to get the IDs to
substantially everybody in Pennsylvania.

And, you know, the feeling of the justices was at least two years.
There was some discussion about the Carter/Baker commission which
recommended two whole federal cycles which would be four years but the
justices over and over again said, is ten weeks, or whatever it is, until
the election, or eight weeks, is that really sufficient and there was no
indication that they believe that that was a sufficient period of time.
So, I don`t think they will strike down the entire law. I think they will
delay implementation and then require us to put the resources in to making
sure that people can get these IDs.

SHARPTON: Well, Congressman, there was a back and forth, a major part
of the hearing today was on the timing. Let me play a little bit of that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: There is too little time. There are too many
people affected.

MCCAFFERY: My question is, what`s the rush? Who is it going to hurt?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: How much better could we do, though, if we had
two years to implement this rather than another 50 or 55 days?

JOHN KNORR, COUNSEL FOR COMMONWEALTH: I think if we had two years we
could do better.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: What`s the rush? What`s the rush?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: What`s the rush, Congressman?

FATTAH: Well, look, I think that the court is headed in the right
direction here and I think that no one has a complaint about using an ID.
The problem is they credit a very specific ID.

SHARPTON: Right.

FATTAH: You have to go to a transportation office and many counties,
they don`t even have an office for the Pennsylvania Department of
Transportation, you have to supply information and if you`re born outside
the state or elderly, it might be hard for to you get. So, I think that
the burden is substantial. The risks of disenfranchising so many voters I
think is a concern of the court. So, I was very pleased with the year in
the day, we`ll wait on the ruling. But no matter what happens in this
court, we`ve got to make sure that in Pennsylvania, we can proceed with an
orderly election and so, we`ll wait on the court, and we`ll figure out how
to go forward from there.

SHARPTON: Now, Senator Leach, the Governor, Tom Corbett of your
state, claims that the voter ID law wouldn`t interfere with the right to
vote. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. TOM CORBETT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Contrary to some claims, this
bill does not interfere with anyone`s legal right to vote. It prevents
people from cheating in our elections. Some have argued that there is no
evidence of voter fraud. I don`t necessarily agree with that. This is a
law of prevention, it is to prevent voter fraud.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, Senator, I`m out of town, but the fact is that they
have not been able to establish a lot of fraud in your state at all. Isn`t
that right?

LEACH: Zero cases, Reverend. Zero cases. There was a lot of
questions about that today by the justices and all the state could do was
say, well, there`s no actual cases, but we think it could theoretically
happen.

SHARPTON: No actual cases, so the governor was wrong on the facts.
Congressman Chaka Fattah, I`ve got to leave it there. State Senator Daylin
Leach. Thank you for your time tonight. We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: There`s been a lot of focus to Mitt Romney`s response to
the tragic events in the Middle East but not enough attention has been paid
to President Obama`s handling of the crisis. He`s been serious, decisive,
and he`s vowed that justice will be done.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: We are going to bring those
who kill our fellow Americans to justice.

(APPLAUSE)

I want people around the world to hear me, to all those who would do
us harm, no act much terror will go unpunished. No act of violence shakes
the resolve of the United States of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The President has already put drones in the skies over
Libya and deployed marines to safeguard Americans. He`s also moved two
warships to the Libyan coast. So, these aren`t empty threats. This
President has shown his resolve. Remember, he promised to get Osama bin
Laden and he did. But the President also deserves praise for how he`s
handled the other side of his job, as a uniter, he has comforted employees
at the State Department who lost their colleagues in Libya. He`s spoken to
a grieving nation about their loss and the sacrifice they made.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Yesterday, I had a chance to go over to the State Department
and talk to friends and colleagues about those who were killed. We enjoy
our security and our liberty because of the sacrifices that they make.

(APPLAUSE)

They do an outstanding job every single day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Over the last three-and-a-half-years, we`ve heard the
President referred to as too cool, unflappable, doesn`t show too much
passion, in times of turmoil, in times of crisis, in times of great stress,
in times of international upheaval, it`s better to have someone deliberate,
thoughtful and methodical. We don`t need to exacerbate the danger, we need
someone to think us through our leaders.

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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