updated 9/18/2012 1:13:36 PM ET 2012-09-18T17:13:36

POLITICS NATION
September 17, 2012

Guests: Nia-Malika Henderson; Bob Shrum; Patricia Murphy, Karen Bass, Stephen Spaulding, Darrell Hammond


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

Tonight`s lead, the big 5-uh-oh. With just 50 days to go to election
day, the Romney team is in disarray. Governor Romney woke up to a
blistering headline this morning with some of the harshest criticism coming
from the right. People in his own party. It comes one day after a
devastating political article that details a Romney team in chaos. Full of
finger pointing and back biting. But don`t worry, in an interview to Ed
this evening on Tele-Mundo, Mr. Romney says things are just peachy keen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I got a terrific campaign.
My senior campaign people work extraordinarily well together. I work well
with them. Our campaign is doing well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: So no changes in your campaign?

ROMNEY: No, I`ve got a good team.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Well, not everyone seems to agree. Political details of a
campaign that, quote, "badly needs a consultant from Bain to straighten it
out." The article talks about the chaotic eight-day scramble after
Romney`s RNC speech was scrapped and restarted from scratch. And describes
how stunned Romney watched Clint Eastwood rambling comedy routine in fury.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That was bad. But the lack of policy detail, that`s all
Romney`s fault.

"Politico" writes that many conservatives blame the campaign for
being, quote, "specifics free and lame. And that blame goes straight to
the man running his own campaign, Romney himself."

So the Romney camp has a new plan. It`s time for specifics. But,
don`t worry, it`s not in reaction to that scathing report.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARL CAMERON, FOX NEWS CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Is this a
tactical scheduled sort of acceleration, or this is in reaction to a
criticism and a reset or retooling as it is characterized?

ED GILLESPIE, SENIOR ADVISER TO MITT ROMNEY: I think it`s more of a
natural progression.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: A natural progress. And why the specifics now?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GILLESPIE: We do think the timing is right at this moment to
reinforce the specifics, more specifics about the Romney plan for a
stronger middle class.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, Romney has been running for president for years, but
now is the time to lay out specifics? So let`s see what he did and let`s
see how he did. Here`s how he answered the question today on immigration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I will make sure that my answer to this issue is not
political but it`s practical for the families of Hispanic descent in this
country and make sure that we have a permanent solution that deals not just
with those young people but also with the other folks who come here
illegally and with people who want to come her here legally.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And his running mate, Paul Ryan, wasn`t much better on the
issue of taxes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Tax loopholes, are there reasons that
you`re not naming specific tax holes?

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, because we want
to get it done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: They want to get it done so they don`t talk about it.
That`s because they know it`s unpopular. It`s the bizarre logic of a
campaign in disarray.

Joining me now is Democratic strategist Bob Shrum, senior adviser to
the Kerry and Gore campaigns who also ran Ted Kennedy`s campaign against
Romney in 1994, and Nia-Malika Henderson, national political reporter for
"the Washington Post."

Thank you both for being here tonight.

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Glad to be here.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: It`s
great to be here, Rev.

SHARPTON: Bob, let me start with you. You`ve been in the trenches on
presidential campaigns. What is going on with the Romney team right now?

SHRUM: Well, if it`s as terrific campaign as the governor said. I
think the word I might apply to it might apply to it is a terrible
campaign. I mean, this goes back after a period of months, seeding the
summer and letting Obama define him, the conventions, lack of any coherent
narrative that could actually persuade people to come to him. The fact
they are now playing on Obama`s turf, so that, for example, the president
has a huge lead on who fights for the middle class.

SHARPTON: Right.

SHRUM: Romney is going to go out there and try to climb the steep
side of the mountain and say he cares about the middle class. He`s never
defined an argument for himself. That`s his campaign`s fault but it`s also
his fault. It`s the -- you know, last week`s episode, if someone in that
campaign drafted that statement, but he approved that statement.

SHARPTON: He`s fighting the president`s fight?

SHRUM: Yes. He`s fighting the president`s fight in the middle class.
And last week on Libya, he approved the statement that someone should have
wrote it.

Look, I think they`ve shaken up a little bit. The fact that he had he
had Gillespie was on that call today and was leading on that call, they are
never going to admit it. But there is probably some power shifting in that
campaign. Now, any campaign that has a secession of messages, I`d rather
have one kind of A-minus message when I went out all the time. I mean,
keep searching eternally for another message, another message and another
message.

SHARPTON: Now, and Ed Gillespie is a former RNC chair.

Nia-Malika, "Politico" and the article that I refer to, it also
details problems at the top. Here is a quote from, "Romney`s associates
are baffled that such a successful corporate leader has created a team with
so few lines of authority and accountability." So not only does it seem as
if the message is muddled, it seems like the lines of accountability and
authority in how the campaign is being run is muddled.

HENDERSON: That`s right. There are apparently many different power
centers in this campaign and I think the problem for Mitt Romney is he is
running as a CEO. He`s running on his management skills and if you look at
this article it appears that there are lots of management problems. And I
think that is going to end up being an issue for him because it really
undermines the core message of his campaign. And I think going forward
they`ve obviously said that they are going to be more detail oriented. But
if you look today and the conversations that he had, that interview he also
had a speech out in Los Angeles where he spoke to Hispanic business owners.
Not much detail in that speech either.

It seems to me that this whole idea that there`s going to be a shift
in terms of their campaign, really was both a reaction to that article in
"Politico" and also an attempt to distract from it as well, to change the
subject and to essentially say, we`re going to do more policy, but I`ve yet
to see that today and it will be interesting to see throughout this week
he`s going to be in Miami. He has fund-raisers tomorrow if in fact he does
put more meat on the bones, he hasn`t so far. And that is one of the
reasons that Republicans are doing all of this hammering and he`s got 50
days to do it and we`ll see what happens.

SHARPTON: Now, Bob, not only inside the campaign where sources are
complaining, but outside the campaign other Republicans. For example, "the
Hill" newspaper has sent an article out that they actually detail some
Republican lawmakers slamming the Romney campaign.

One senator says, quote, "Romney needs to say if you elect me, this is
what you`re going to get." Another says, my advisers don`t try to turn him
into something he`s not. You`re never going to turn him into a teddy bear.
And Republican senators, even those who rank among his biggest supporters
have complained privately about the execution of his campaign.

SHRUM: Yes, but he`s at a stage in the campaign where Republicans are
beginning to doubt that he`s going to win. In fact, a number of them are
in panic.

Look, he did this ridiculous interview he did the other day with Kelly
Ripa where he said he wears as little as possible to bed which is not an
image we needed and his favorite television personality was Snooki on
"Jersey Shore."

I talked to a Republican consultant afterwards and said I mean,
"Jersey Shore" has been cancelled and he soon will be. I mean, that`s the
feeling that is settling into these Republicans. They never liked him,
they were never enthused about him and now they think that, once again,
having been forced to accept John McCain having been forced to accept Bob
Dole, they have been forced to accept someone they don`t like.

Now look, he`s behind in the polls and this kind of thing happens.
The real question is, can you straighten yourself out? Finally I would
say, calling him a CEO, I`ve been thinking about this. Basically what he
was, he didn`t run large companies.

SHARPTON: Right.

SHRUM: He ran a financial manipulation firm that went out, brought
companies, other people ran the companies and then if they were profitable
or even if they weren`t profitable, he sold them and made a profit.

SHARPTON: Yes. Well, that is an important distinction.

But, you know, even today you were saying, Nia-Malika, that they --
you didn`t get any specifics even today as he spoke in Los Angeles and
other places. Even on the conference call that they had today when the
question of tax loopholes, let`s go there. When tax loopholes came up, one
of the advisers that was pressed on it, let me play for you the non-answer
he gave on the conference call.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Will you now be willing to engage on what
tax loopholes would be closed to make the budget work?

GILLESPIE: As to the specifics, like I noted, for example, and
there`s more specifics today relative to debt reduction, we`ll talk about
more specifics, for example, we talk about being energy independent by
2020.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, either I missed something or he talked about there
are going to be more specifics. He referred to a plan about energy by
2020, but never specifically answered the specifics on tax loopholes. This
is the kind of thing that is frustrating even Republicans about them.

HENDERSON: That`s right. And even that segment there when he was
talking about energy independence by 2020, these are things that he does
hit on in his stump speeches but never a sense of how you get there. He
talks about more training, more education training. But, again, no sense
of how you get them there. Does that mean more government programs, does
that mean more spending on education, does that mean some sort of reform
reducing the deficit, reducing the amount of money that government spent on
programs? Does that mean slashing certain departments? Does that mean
slashing the education department? We don`t know yet and that`s the
problem that he`s had.

Again, I mean, this seems to be so far sort of a non-reset reset of
his campaign. Again, there`s time, there`s obviously debate but I think he
might even struggle in those debates if, again, you have moderators who are
trying to press him on those specifics and he is squirming out of those and
essentially giving nothing in terms of what the American voters want to
hear in terms of what it would like if Mitt Romney were president. He`s
got to make the argument that Obama should be fired and he should be hired
and I don`t think he made a good case for that yet.

SHARPTON: Well, if you want a specific vote, you might want to give
some specific answers.

Bob Shrum and Nia-Malika Henderson, thanks for your time tonight.

SHRUM: Thank you.

HENDERSON: Thank you, Rev.

SHARPTON: Coming up, new proof that Republican trickledown economics
simply doesn`t work and the voters know it.

Plus, stunning new details about the right-wing effort to suppress the
vote, that getting more and more blatant about their real agenda.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Obama people want everyone to get registered
through department of motor vehicles or public assistance or food stamp
offices. He wants to register the food stamp army to vote for him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The food stamp army. Folks, this is getting ugly.

Plus, live from New York, it`s the new Saturday night live.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clint Eastwood.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And chair. The comedy duo that rocked the
Republican national convention is taking their act on the road.

EASTWOOD: You want me to do what to myself? I don`t think so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: We will talk about it with former "SNL" star, Darrell
Hammond, the man who mastered the Bill Clinton impression.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Folks, have you checked us out on facebook? The "Politics
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Today, our fans were busy talking about the season premiere of
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the years.

Christopher says, Will Ferrell had the best George W. Bush impression.

Patricia`s favorite was Tina Fey as Sarah Palin.

And Brandon`s favorite is still Darrell Hammond as Bill Clinton.

Brandon, you are in for a treat because the legendary "SNL"
impressionist, Darrell Hammond, is joining us later in the show.

But first, we want to hear about your favorite political comedians.
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)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, you can`t stand up
to China when all you`ve done is sent them our jobs. You can talk a good
game but I like to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That was President Obama today in Ohio slamming Mitt Romney
on his outsourcing record. While the Romney campaign is faltering, the
president is on message driving home the truth about the GOP`s economic
plan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Tax cuts, tax cuts, got a few regulations and then let`s try
some more tax cuts. Tax cuts and good times. Tax cuts in bad times. Want
to make restaurant reservation or book a flight, you don`t need the new
iphone. Try a tax cut. They`ve got one answer for everything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The Obama campaign also has a new ad running in key
battleground states reminding voters of why they are better off now than
they were four years ago and pointing out that Romney wants to cut taxes
for the wealthy.

That`s the big GOP idea, cut taxes for the rich but the only problem
is, it doesn`t work. A new study by the nonpartisan congressional research
service says, quote, "the reduction in the top tax rates have little
association with saving, investment, or productivity growth." Of course,
that`s a fact and these days Republicans have a hard time accepting facts.

Joining me now is Jared Bernstein, an MSNBC contributor and former
chief economist for vice president Joe Biden and Patricia Murphy, editor of
"Citizen Jane Politics."

Thank you both for joining me.

JARED BERNSTEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you, Rev.

PATRICIA MURPHY, EDITOR, CITIZEN JANE POLITICS: Hi.

SHARPTON: Jared, let me go to you first. Why are, Mitt Romney and
other Republicans, still stuck on this trickled down bandwagon?

BERNSTEIN: Well, you know Rev, you said it doesn`t work. That`s
true. It doesn`t work if you are looking for better outcomes in terms of
productivity, investment, particularly jobs. But it does work if you
actually want higher income people to have higher after tax incomes. And
by the way, these study by the severely nonpartisan congressional research
service not only found the results that we were just talking about
regarding job growth, economic growth, it also found where you do find a
real relationship between high-end supply side trickledown tax cuts is with
increased income and equality. And, you know frankly, I think we got
enough of that right now.

SHARPTON: Now, Patricia, when you look at the fact that even the
public is not buying it, look at the polls, who is better on economy and
jobs? FOX News has President Obama and Romney tied. CNN has the president
up by one percent. "Washington Post" has the president up by two.
Rasmussen says Obama is up by two. Then you have which candidate would
better handle taxes? CBS/ "New York Times" Obama 51 percent and Romney 42
percent. It`s not even working in the polls in terms of the American
public.

MURPHY: Yes, it`s definitely not working in the polls. And in those
first polls that you cited, it`s a very small separation between Obama and
Romney but this is a huge, huge development in the campaign who is better
to handle the economy. That is an area that Romney has been beating Obama
on.

SHARPTON: Right.

MURPHY: By double digits this entire campaign. That was the one area
and again, when you`re talking about a campaign that`s going to be based on
the economy most likely, if you`re the candidate who can best handle the
economy, that`s giving Republicans every reason to say, Romney`s maybe not
the best candidate but look how well he`s doing on these economic numbers.

This is a gigantic development and now because people are coming
around and saying, I don`t know. I`m not so sure. And the reason is
because Romney is not giving the specifics. We have got this far on the
campaign. He`s been playing the candidate who could best handle the
economy. But now, when voters look for more details, more specifics,
Romney is refusing to give them and voters are turning away from them for
that very reason.

SHARPTON: So it`s the lack of specifics.

Well, let me go, Jared, and show you what former president Bill
Clinton said at the DNC that really made a lot of people that may have been
on the fence undecided kind of look at it a little differently. Watch
this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Republicans
have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats 24. In those 52 years,
our private economy has produced 66 million private sector jobs. So what`s
the jobs score? Republicans, 24 million, Democrats, 42.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, now, that`s very effective, Jared, when you look at
66 million jobs over 51 years and the score is what it is. I mean, that`s
kind of hard to argue and these are facts. Forty two million under
Democrats 23.9 under the Republicans. It`s hard to argue those facts.

BERNSTEIN: I agree. And I think that it reminds me of this four
years ago discussion that you were just talking about in the introduction.
I mean, you know, the problem that I think Republicans have had in raising
that question, the Romney campaign, for example, is that four years ago we
were losing 700, 800,000 jobs a month. Now, we`ve been gaining employment
now as the president continuously repeats over a couple of years.

Now, the gains are not fast enough. But the fact is that we are
clearly moving in not just the right direction but a massively better
direction than the kind of crash that we were experiencing back in late
2008, early 2009. So -- and by the way, this is one of those cases where
the president can really say his fingerprints are on that turn around in
GDP and jobs.

If you look at the recovery act, if you look at the financial
measures, if you look at the housing measures, many of these1 measures are
closely scrutinized at the time by lots about side observers, non-partisan
observers finding that in fact it did helped to turn things around.

SHARPTON: Now Patricia, given those facts and given the record, does
it mean the public is slowly becoming tired of the trickle down economic
theory because it hasn`t worked and if that is the case, what does Romney
have now? I mean, if you can`t use business and the economy which was, as
you said, his strong suit in what he was leading the president with, what
does he have now to run on?

MURPHY: I think the only number that he really has to run on is
people`s opinion of the direction of the country and we saw in a lot of
polling last week that still 60 percent of the country thinks that we are
going in the wrong direction, but you even have to look at those numbers
more closely and that number is actually closing for the president.
Several months ago we saw that two-thirds of the country thought we were
going in the wrong direction and now people are starting to feel just a
little bit better about things and we looked at what Bill Clinton said, not
only did he make the case for Barack Obama, he`s also shown Barack Obama
how to really stand up for himself and say I know you`re not doing great,
but yes you are doing better than you were four years ago. I still think
the Bill Clinton speech is the best thing that`s happened to Barack Obama
in the last six months at least.

And so, I think that he has able to better make the case for himself
and Bill Clinton really showed him how to do it. And when you look at the
Republicans, there is no answer to it. Again, which will be loop hole
would you close for the wealthy. Romney has no answer for that and we saw
even in an ABC news interview, Romney says well, I`ll get to the details
maybe when we get to the debates in October.

That`s going to be too late. We already see voters start to make up
their minds. If we don`t see any details soon, don`t know how he closes
that gap.

SHARPTON: Jared Bernstein, Patricia Murphy, thank you for your time.

BERNSTEIN: Thank you.

MURPHY: Thank you so much.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, new details from inside the national
coordinated effort to suppress the vote. Their plans to try to defeat
President Obama at the polls.

Plus, Bill Clinton joins me onset. No, no, not that Bill Clinton.
Former "SNL" star Darrell Hammond breaks down the new details with us
ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Republicans have entered a new fact-free face of the
campaign repeating one of their favorite fast talking points about the
President.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: An apology for America`s
values is never the right course.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: The extent to which he`s been apologizing for
America.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: He was sympathizing with the demonstrators and
those attacking the American embassy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, as I`ve pointed out again and again and again, this is
complete baloney and fact checkers have completely debunked the idea that
the President apologized for America. But the right wing won`t give this
up. They don`t care that it`s not true. Check out what happened when
republican Congressman Peter King was challenged on it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: And if you go to factcheck.org, which we`re
checking a lot, they`ll say the same thing. They fact check it and they
say this whole theory of apology -

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I don`t care what the fact check says.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The right is not interested in facts when they are trying
to smear the President. Of course, Republicans weren`t always so horrified
when a commander in chief apologized to people overseas. Back in 2008,
President Bush apologized to the Iraqi prime minister after an American
sniper shot a copy of the Koran. President Bush was right to make that
statement. But I don`t remember the right wing foaming at the mouth about
it. Did Republicans think we`d let them get away with their latest sorry
excuses of slamming the President?

Nice try, but we`ve got you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VICE PRES. JOE BIDEN (D), UNITED STATES: This is not your father`s
Republican Party. As a matter of fact, it`s not even Mitt Romney`s
father`s Republican Party. This party that pushes voter suppression all
around the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That was Vice President Joe Biden last week calling out
conservatives for trying to suppress the vote and intimidate voters in this
election. Today, the "New York Times" highlighted a key part of that
campaign. A group we`ve told you about before called "True the Vote," they
are backed by the Tea Party. They have sued states to start new voter
privileges and they plan to train one million poll watchers for this year`s
elections. Just listen to how they describe themselves at their big
convention earlier this year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: For any of you that have seen qualified capable
poll observers in action, it`s kind of like driving down the road and
looking up in that rearview mirror and seeing that there`s an officer of
the law following you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So, now voters should feel like the police are following
them at the polls? Folks, the tone of that convention was extraordinarily
disturbing. Just listen to this clip from a key partner in the "True the
Vote" campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM FITTON, JUDICIAL WATCH: I fear the Obama gang is setting
themselves up to steal the elections, if possible. The Obama people want
everyone to get registered through Department of Motor Vehicles or public
assistance or food stamps offices. He wants to register the food stamp
army to vote for him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Register the food stamp army. This is the type of rhetoric
that is being used to recruit poll watches. It`s unacceptable.

Joining me now is Congressman Karen Bass, democrat from California and
Stephen Spaulding, staff counsel at Common Cause. His group recently wrote
a report called "Bullies at the Ballot Box" about voter intimidation by
groups like "True the Vote." Thank you both for joining me.

REP. KAREN BASS (D), CALIFORNIA: Thanks for having me on.

STEPHEN SPAULDING, COMMON CAUSE: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Congresswoman, let me ask you just right off the bat,
what`s your response to that food stamp army comment from these poll
watchers?

BASS: Well, you know, at least they are showing who they really are.
I think for us though, we have to have our own army. Everybody needs to go
to gottovote.org to make sure that they know what the rules are. And we
just have to show them by turning out in mass. If anything, it should
energize us, make us mad and have us turn out in big numbers.

SHARPTON: Now, Steven, I called you "Stephen." But I will call you
Stephen or Steven, I have a friend -- called Stephen. But you were part of
a big report on all of this. Let me show you a Gary Bauer, the former
president of the conservative religious group at Values Voter Summit Friday
who`s backing President Obama. Let me show you what he had to say about
those voters.

SPAULDING: Sure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GARY BAUER, FORMER PRESIDENT, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: There`s a lot
of people to vote for the president. There`s a lot of people out now,
around America, who depend on checks from their fellow taxpayers being in
the mailbox every day. They will turn out in massive numbers.

My prediction is that after all the votes accounted, even the dead
votes of Democrats in Chicago, Detroit, and Cleveland, I predict that we
will win.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, also with an interview with TPM, there was this
comment. He doubled down Bauer. The quote is, "Voter fraud is rampant in
urban areas." I`m raising this to you, Stephen, because you did the study.
From your study and studies and from studies that I`m sure you have also
looked over and reviewed --

SPAULDING: Yep.

SHARPTON: Have you found rampant voter fraud in Urban areas and is
there any scientific data to support that the people voting for the
president are people that are dependents on a check in the mail everyday
from the government and any of these other class and race-based
accusations?

SPAULDING: Absolutely not, Reverend. Those kinds of statements are
not in keeping with American values. You know, in America, voting is a
fundamental right. It is not a privilege. It is a fundamental right. And
when you`re at the ballot box, whether you are rich or poor or whether you
are young or old or whether you are a democrat or a republican, you are
equal at the ballot box and it is so important when that we hear that kind
of rhetoric, everyone out there goes and registers to vote.

There are 50 days left before this election. Every eligible American
should go and register and vote and let these people know, let these
politicians know and people that we just heard from that are trying to
manipulate the process and make it harder for eligible citizens to go out
and vote, let your voice be heard at the ballot box. That`s the best way
to fight against this kind of rampant -- you want to talk about rampant
fraud, it`s the rampant efforts to suppress the vote and make it so that
people can`t go out and have their voices heard.

We at Common Cause are working 24/7 with voter protection groups all
over this country to make sure that there are people there to help people
know their rights and know that they should not be intimidated.

SHARPTON: Now, Congresswoman, let me go back to the conference a
minute because I think it`s important we debunk a lot of things that are
said if in fact they are wrong or confirm them if they are right. John
Fund at a True the Vote Summit made a false claim about minorities
perception of voter fraud. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN FUND, AMERICAN SPECTATOR: The biggest victims of voter fraud in
America today are minorities. They think it`s a more serious problem than
anyone. Their leadership has completely failed them. By yelling racism in
a crowded political theater and dividing us rather than uniting us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Yelling racism in a crowded political theater, failing the
minority communities when they know it`s the biggest problem. Now,
Congresswoman, hasn`t there been any number of studies that have said these
voter ID laws that they just came up with and other new forms of
suppression disproportionately impact minorities?

BASS: Absolutely. I mean, you know, it just makes you wonder, it`s
like the alternate universe. I`m not sure where he`s talking about, what
minority group he`s referring to but we know and you have said repeatedly,
this is a solution in search of a problem. There has never been any
evidence of widespread voter fraud. This is just the 1950s version of the
poll tax and, you know what, we need to have the same level of energy we
had in the 1960s when voting rights acts and the civil rights movement was
in full force.

SHARPTON: Yep.

BASS: We need to use these efforts as a catalyst to go out to vote.
But it`s most important now because these laws have passed already. So
it`s most important that we know what the requirements are and going to
gottovote.org, everybody can go to that Web Site, you can plug in your
state, and you can find out specifically what the voting requirements are
in your state so we can comply. And then once the election is over, we can
live to fight another day and we have to reverse these laws.

SHARPTON: And we will. Let me go back to you Stephen in my moment I
have left because I want to know, have you at Common Cause been able to
identify voting fraud? The only fraud I`ve been able to find is those
accusing people of voter fraud.

SPAULDING: Reverend, no one wants voter fraud. Nobody wants voter
fraud. What we want are free, fair, and accessible elections where
everyone that is eligible to vote, every eligible Americans can have their
vote counted as cast. Nothing could be more Americans and get out there
and vote and register this Election Day.

SHARPTON: All right. Congresswoman Karen Bass and Stephen Spaulding,
thank you both for your time tonight.

BASS: Thanks for having us on.

SPAULDING: Thank you so much. Still ahead, live from New York, it`s
the new season of Saturday Night Live and they may not be good news for
Mitt Romney. We`ll talk about it with "SNLs" legendary performer Darrell
Hammond.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Would you get out of here?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Ew, sorry, are you on?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yes, I`m on.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Oh, let me guess, internet blah, blah, blah. I`m
just kidding you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: You`re watching POLITICS NATION on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Straight ahead, live from New York, it`s Saturday night,
former SNL cast member Darrell Hammond joins me next to breakdown this
year`s season.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Live in New York is a brand new season of "Saturday Night
Live." NBC`s long running late night show is back. Just in time for the
last 50 days of the presidential race. SNL kicks off season number 38 with
the inaugural performance of the new President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It`s so great to be back here tonight. Our
campaign has a secret weapon and that secret weapon is speaking right now
in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Let`s take a look.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Hello, I`m Mitt Romney.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I`m so in love with you

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And even though the show has been on summer break since
spring, the writers didn`t forget about last month`s republican convention.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Clint Eastwood and chair. The comedy duo that
rocked the Republican National Convention is taking their act on the show.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: What do you mean shut up? Why don`t you shut up?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: American legend Clint Eastwood performing one half
of a conversation with an invisible, irritated and fouled mouth Barack
Obama. It`s the show audiences are giving a sitting ovation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Through eight elections, beginning with Jimmy Carter and
Gerald Ford in 1976, the cast and crew of "Saturday Night Live" has been
expertly putting their fingers on the pulse of presidential politics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The president of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Hello?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Please run. Stop staring at my forehead.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Well, I`m sorry. I did it again, didn`t I?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I am speaking to you tonight from Europe. And as
you`ve probably heard, they all went nuts for me.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Would you get out of here?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Ew, sorry, are you on?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yes, I`m on.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Oh, let me guess, internet blah, blah, blah. I`m
just kidding you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now, one of the men who you just saw in that
clip, comedian Darrell Hammond, he played President Bill Clinton and Vice
President Al Gore in dozens of skits on "Saturday Night Live" from 1995
until last year. Thank you for your time tonight.

DARRELL HAMMOND, COMEDIAN: Yes, sir. How are you?

SHARPTON: I`m great. Now, let me ask you, what should both
candidates expect from SNL these days before -- these last 50 days before
the election?

HAMMOND: Oh, I think they will probably find the human side of him,
we`re going to look for them to unravel a little bit, you know, look human
which you know, ironically actually makes them look better in the public`s
eyes but I think they are sensitive about that on "SNL." Whatever they do
consistently more than one or two times, they pick up on it.

SHARPTON: Now, you were in Charlotte last week. What did you think
of the speeches at the Democratic Convention?

HAMMOND: Well, you know, Clinton sort of did something that I don`t
remember a politician doing that is like rallying the troops that is sort
of -- viable facts and figures.

SHARPTON: Right.

HAMMOND: Like, just go boom, any school kid could go online and
verify and it sort of set the bar so much higher. I mean, it`s sort of
like the first time you see Michael Jordan play basketball like oh, wow,
now, you`ve got to do that. Unbelievable.

SHARPTON: Yes. I think -- was great. I thought the President made a
good speech.

HAMMOND: Fabulous.

SHARPTON: I think the first lady that was off the chain. I think
she`s the best --

HAMMOND: She kind of stole the show.

SHARPTON: Now, how do you think the candidates are doing though when
they try to soften themselves because a lot of them are now the president,
Ann Romney have gone on Late Night TV and tried to soften themselves up.
Let me show you an example of what I`m talking about. And critique it for
me as one of the best that has done this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE NIGHT": What about that Sarah Palin?
She`s not ready to be president, is she?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Be careful what you say
about her by the way. I mean, you know --

LETTERMAN: I`ve had my --

(LAUGHTER)

She has.

Have you been watching the GOP debates?

OBAMA: I`m going to wait until everybody is voted off the island.

ROMNEY: Isn`t it time for a president who looks like a 1970s game
show host. What`s up gangstas? It`s the M-I-Double-Tizzle.

OBAMA: I`m President Barack Obama and I, too, want to slow jam the
news.

The reason it`s so important to keep down costs is so we keep college
affordable.

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE NIGHT SHOW": And the president knows his
stuff, yes. That`s why they call him the Potus, which means person on top.

OBAMA: What is it? Jimmy, Potus stands for president of the United
States.

FALLON: He`s the Potus with the mostest.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Does that hurt or help them when they go and do these late
night things? I mean, how wise is that from your point of view?

HAMMOND: Well, I mean, if you`re comfortable out there, it`s super
wise. I mean, it doesn`t matter if you show, you know, human tendencies,
if you have -- the things that you do that your friends make fun of you
about and all of that stuff, when you look human, you look good. If you`re
uptight out there, it`s not a great move. Obama did very well.

SHARPTON: Now, you did Bill Clinton, you did Al Gore. What do you
try to put in your mind to get yourself ready to do someone else, like a
Bill Clinton?

HAMMOND: Oh, with Bill Clinton, I put in my mind like a bedside
vigil, like somebody`s sick, we need counseling, we need someone to come
in and say there`s nothing wrong with your world that can`t be fixed with
what is right of your world. There is nothing wrong with being human that
can`t be fixed by what is right with being human. Bedside vigil. Making
people feel good when --

SHARPTON: So, you actually put -- images in their mind?

HAMMOND: With him I said, bedside vigil. Yes.

SHARPTON: So for everyone, you have your own way of putting something
in your mind and gets you in the mood that you feel you can channel them?

HAMMOND: Yes.

SHARPTON: When you look at like Tina Fey, she`s zeroed in on voter
doubts about Sarah Palin in 2008. Here she is with Amy as Hillary Clinton.
Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Hillary and I don`t agree on everything.

TINA FEY, AS HILLARY CLINTON: On anything.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I believe that diplomacy should be the
cornerstone of any foreign policy.

FEY: And I can see Russia from my house.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I don`t agree with the Bush doctrine.

FEY: And I don`t know what that is.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Is the idea to play on some images that the public may
suspect and you just carry it all the way, like Palin not knowing the Bush
doctrine or Hillary being knowledgeable?

HAMMOND: Yes. Because I mean, for an audience to laugh, they have to
agree with your premise. I mean, if they don`t agree with it or know
anything about it, they are not going to laugh. You can`t educate someone
and make them laugh at the same time. So, yes, that`s the key to "SNL,"
their finger on the pulse of what people are actually thinking about.

SHARPTON: You have been one of the best at it, Darrell.

HAMMOND: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Thank you for your time tonight.

HAMMOND: Yes, sir.

SHARPTON: And when you see Keenan (ph), tell him he has got to lose
weight before he does me again.

HAMMOND: Me too.

SHARPTON: We`ll be right back.

SHARPTON: Conservatives have reached a new low in trying to further
their right-wing causes by co-opting the civil rights. And anti-union
group is criticizing the Chicago Teachers Union strike by taking out a full
page ad in USA today comparing striking workers to segregationists in the
1960s. You heard that right. The Ed shows, Alabama Governor George
Wallace, blocking block students from entering the University of Alabama in
1963, saying, quote, "Someone new is blocking the schoolhouse door."

It`s an outrageous comparison. Someone clearly missed a few history
lessons. Let me tell you what happened that day in 1963. Then Governor
George Wallace vowed to stop the University of Alabama from integrating.
He stood in front of the university`s doors for hours refusing to let two
black students register for class. It all stemmed from a promise Wallace
made in his inaugural speech.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE WALLACE, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ALABAMA: In the name of the
greatest people that have are ever climbed this earth, I`ve drawn a line in
the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny. And I say
segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Segregation forever. How is an offensive comment like that
compared to the Chicago teachers fighting for job securities and benefits
and fighting for the fact that all students that can walk through those
doors should not have a different standing? They should all have the same
kind of classroom size and same kind of resources. They are not fighting
for segregation. They are fighting to end educational segregation and
their own rights. Don`t try to rewrite history, not even for an ad.

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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