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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Monday, September 24th, 2012

Read the transcript to the Monday show

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
September 24, 2012

Guest: Sherrod Brown

ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: That`s THE ED SHOW. I`m Ed Schultz.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thanks, my friend.

And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.

This is the logo of the China National Offshore Oil Corporation. It`s
kind of cool, right? I like to call this CNOOC. The businesspeople the
businesspeople call it CNOOC -- I think CNOOC is better. It`s sort of
cuter.

But as you can tell, the CNOOC logo is kind of a pictograph,
explaining what they do. The first big arch of the capital N I think it`s
supposed to look like an oil derrick and the big C is the platform that the
NOOC it`s sitting on. The whole thing is in blue water because they are an
offshore oil company. So, it`s oil and water, right?

CNOOC, this Chinese company is a huge company. It`s almost entirely
owned by the Chinese government.

And in 2005, CNOOC tried to take over an oil company based in
California. So big Chinese, state-run company trying to take over a
California oil company. Because these are oil companies we`re talking
about, and because this is the Chinese government, a big business deal like
that actually does have national security implications for us as a country.

So, that is the kind of international business deal that`s subject to
review by something called the Committee on Foreign Investments in the
United States. It`s a big inter-agency committee and it reviews this
stuff. The treasury secretary heads it up. It exists under every
president.

When that committee was reviewing this deal, with CNOOC trying to buy
this California company, Congress went absolutely nuts over it. And in the
end, that deal did not go through. It didn`t happen. That was in 2005.
China was not allowed to come in and buy that company.

Well, now, CNOOC is trying good. They are in the process of trying to
buy a Canadian oil company. But again, the Committee on Foreign
Investments in the U.S. has some jurisdiction here because the Canadian
company does a lot of business in the Gulf of Mexico, our Gulf of Mexico.

So, this is again a Chinese government-owned giant oil company trying
to buy up a chunk of American oil infrastructure.

Think the deal is going to go through this time? It`s a $15 billion
oil deal. You think it`s going to go through? It didn`t go through in
2005, how about this new version?

Well, since the last time the United States said no to CNOOC, CNOOC
has s also made itself famous for going into business with Iran. They are
in the process of developing a huge Iranian natural gas field.

I know it`s China and China doesn`t follow the same rules as everybody
else, but why would they get into bed with the international rogue state
that is Iran? Apparently, they did it specifically to annoy us, as
described in the "Financial Times" today. The Chinese government told
CNOOC to go ahead with their big Iran deal, quote, "immediately after the
U.S. agreed to sell arms to Taiwan."

So we agreed to sell arms to Taiwan. We did something that annoyed
China. And China then responded by saying, fine, we`ll have our giant
state-owned oil company hook Iran up then. How do you like us now?

Well, since then, t chairman of this giant oil corporation has started
talking about that company`s deepwater oil drilling rights that they bought
up all over the world. He started talking about the rights as, quote,
"mobile national territory." It`s also described as a strategic weapon.

That`s how they get criticized. That`s how they talk about
themselves.

So if you believe them, China is sort of essentially weaponizing its
oil industry. At least this part of it. That`s the way they talk about
it.

And they are doing business with Iran, in a giant one-fingered salute
to the rest of the civilized world. And, by the way, they would still like
permission to buy this Canadian oil firm that has a lot of interest in the
United States. Is that going to be OK with the United States?

It`s probably not going to be OK with the United States. I mean, it`s
a $15 billion deal. So, who knows, right? But everybody would understand
that this is not going to be OK. If that kind of thing doesn`t get the
green light from the United States, given this company and their history
and their intentions here.

And the only people who would not understand that not going through,
the only people who wouldn`t understand about that being kyboshed by the
U.S. government for obvious national security reasons would probably be the
people who are invested in CNOOC, right? People who are invested in this
Chinese oil company that calls itself a weapon.

One of the investors in CNOOC happens to be running for president of
the United States. Guess who it is? If you guessed Gary Johnson, no.
Also, It`s not Virgil Goode. Actually, it would be Mitt Romney.

Mitt Romney is an investor in this Chinese state-owned oil company.
Or at least he was, as recently as a year ago.

Mr. Romney`s tax returns that were just released late on Friday showed
that seven months after it was widely reported that this company was doing
this huge deal with Iran, nobody is supposed to be doing energy deals with
Iran, right? Seven months after that was reported, it was not a secret,
seven months after Mitt Romney invested in that Chinese oil company that
was doing business with Iran. And then he invested some more with then.
Then went back a third time and invested some more again.

Then it was roughly this time last year when he was well on his way of
securing the Republican nomination for president of the United States that
Mr. Romney finally sold those shares. He sold his shares the day before he
appeared at this Republican debate in Iowa.

I don`t know if he thought he would get asked about them or what.

Now all of the reporting on Mr. Romney being invested in this Chinese
firm notes that he`s not necessarily personally making the call on these
individual investments. All of his money is kept in a blind trust.

That said, the idea you don`t have to answer for investments made
through a blind trust has been debunked on American politics, right? I
thought this guy`s argument was the most convincing on that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The blind trust is an age-
old ruse, if you will, which is to say you can tell the blind trust what it
can and cannot do. You give a blind trust rules.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: And those rules apparently include go ahead and invest my
Mitt Romney bucks in the Chinese oil company that calls itself a weapon and
that does business with Iran just to spite us -- while you`re running for
president, do that.

You know, the election has already started. Almost half the states in
the country, people can already get access to a ballot and vote by mail if
they want to. You can already do in-person early voting in Idaho, in South
Dakota and in Vermont. Early in person voting also starts on Thursday of
this week in Wyoming and in Iowa.

And what that means, beyond just the convenience of voting of those
states where you can vote early, what it means for this campaign is that
every day is potentially decisive now. If you`re talking about, for
example, who is going to win in Iowa, without early voting, we`d be looking
at the way this poll out of Iowa and saying, hmm, this latest poll, Obama
is up by seven in Iowa. I wonder if he`ll hold on to that lead until
Election Day.

But, now, with early voting, you look at the polling in Iowa and you
say Obama, huh, is up by 7 in Iowa and people are voting in Iowa as of this
week. With early voting, every day from now until November 6th is Election
Day. That not only saps some of the value out of the debates, which start
next week, it also undercuts the potential potency of any October surprise,
right?

In the "Associated Press" write up of this early voting phenomenon
this year, the write up they did about it today, they quote a George Mason
University professor who is an expert on election statistics. And he says,
quote, "If you`ve got the game changer, you`ve got to do that soon. If you
wait until the weekend prior to the election to release your stink bomb,
you`ve lost Coloradans," and he`s right. Colorado is one of the fiercely
contested battleground states where most ballots are expected to be cast
early.

By Election Day, Colorado will already be mostly decided. So if
you`re losing today, if you`re losing at this point in the campaign, hurry
up and fix it.

Mitt Romney`s senior campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom back in March,
remember, the etch-a-sketch thing. He said, once the general election
starts, that`s essentially an opportunity to re-launch the whole campaign.
Remember that?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC FEHRNSTROM, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN: I think you hit a reset button for
the fall campaign and everything changes. It`s almost like an etch-a-
sketch, you can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: It turns out the etch-a-sketch thing and the reset button is
not a one-time deal for the Romney campaign, as they try to catch up
really, really, really late in the game now.

I think they think of the reset button as like when you`re really bad
at an Atari game, right? Or like a Nintendo game and you just keep hitting
reset until you get that opening sequence just right. It`s not like you
only get to hit the reset button once, and then the button blows up. For
the Romney folks, the reset button is like a video game.

It`s always there. You can hit as many times as you want. And that
appears to be the Romney campaign`s philosophy, as they continually try to
reinvent themselves as time just slips away from them.

I mean, look at just the past month. Those Republican convention,
we`re going to be treated to Romney 2.0. This was the reinvention where
they were going to humanize him. Remember that?

Then eight days later, it was Romney retooled. That was when they
were going to be make him very patriotic and talk about God a lot.

Nine days after that, we got the Romney reboot. That`s when they
said, no, no, forget the humanizing thing and forget the God and patriotism
thing. Now, we`re going to get specific. That`s our new thing. We`re
going to be specific.

That reboot was also alternatively called not just a reboot but a
reset, and then today it got called a reboot again. "Romney Plans Full
Slate in Latest Reboot". That was the headline of today`s "Wall Street
Journal."

Here`s the headline in "The Hill" newspaper: "Romney campaign to
change message."

Romney campaign is now saying, no, no, no. Forget all the earlier
incarnations. Today, we`re changing our message again. What`s the new
message for -- I mean, if it was 2.0, I think we`re now at Romney 5.0 now.

The new Mitt Romney 5.0 campaign message just since the last day of
August, the new campaign message they have decided to launch immediately
after disclosing the candidate`s tax returns which showed that he did not
care that he was invested in a company doing business with Iran, he wanted
to make himself some money investing with that Chinese oil company. He
didn`t care about the Iran thing.

What`s today`s new message right after they released that information?
The new message is: he`s getting tough on China. The new strategy will
involve a renewed focus on China.

So, the line is that Barack Obama won`t stand up to China, but Mitt
Romney will. At least we know he can go to the shareholders` meetings. Or
he could have as late as last year.

The Obama campaign is hitting Mitt Romney for not releasing his tax
returns from before 2010. And that`s true. He`s not released those
returns, before 2010, other than that a summary of what he might have paid
as his bottom line.

But the fact that he hasn`t released before 2010, and we`ve got these
two returns from 2011 and 2010, that just makes it all the more amazing
that the stuff that is in his returns is so recent. Right? I mean the
stuff we know about, including investing in the Chinese oil firm that was
doing business with Iran, this is stuff that he was doing while he knew he
was running for president again.

The guy who says, you can always tell your blind trust what to do.
You can always tell them what things they can do and what things they can`t
do. One of the things he apparently conveyed that it was OK to do in Mitt
Romney`s name with Mitt Romney`s money while he was running for president
was to invest in a Chinese oil company doing business with Iran, really, in
2011? And now, Mitt Romney wants to launch himself as the guy who`s tough
on China?

Apparently. And specifically, he wants to be the tough on China guy
while he`s in Ohio. Mr. Romney is launching this Romney 5.0/I`m tough on
China now thing with a bus tour. A bus tour that his vice presidential
nominee started today and that he will start tomorrow in the great swing
state of Ohio, where the last six head to head polls show President Obama
winning that state.

Ohio is a perennial battleground and both campaigns have been
absolutely carpet bombing the state with ads. But ad spending alone does
not seem to be moving Ohio voters this year.

The other marquee race in Ohio is the Senate race, where the last
count, $18 million in outside basically untraceable money has been dumped
into the Republican effort to defeat Democratic incumbent Senator Sherrod
Brown. It`s unprecedented spending for a Senate race in Ohio and it is
unprecedented frankly to have an incumbent outspent by this much money.
Let alone by this much dark money.

But you know what? In Ohio, the money does not seem to be working in
that Senate race. At least not the way it`s supposed to. A new poll out
today from Ohio newspaper shows Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown now
leading his Republican challenger by seven points, despite being outspent
hand over first.

Joining us is the Democratic senator from Ohio, Sherrod Brown.
Senator Brown, I should say, is the lead sponsor of legislation addressing
the China currency issue, a bill that, surprise, is currently stalled in
Congress.

Senator Brown, thank you for being here.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: Thanks. Good to be back.

MADDOW: The Romney campaign is hitting this reset button for the
fifth time now. It doesn`t go away. You get to hit it a lot I guess. But
they are resetting by going to Ohio and talking about China.

Why are they picking Ohio to talk about China?

BROWN: They are picking Ohio because we lost between 2000 and 2010,
Ohio -- the nation lost 5 millions manufacturing jobs. And many of them
were in Ohio. We`re a manufacturing state, number three in the country.

What they are not talking about is how we have gained 500,000
manufacturing jobs back across the country, a number of them in Ohio. It`s
about the automobile rescue in part. It`s about enforcing of trade law.
There`s a new steel mill in Youngstown.

There are new steel jobs because of enforcement of trade laws by the
administration and by those of us that pushed the International Trade
Commission, steel jobs in Lawrence, steel jobs in Cleveland, tire jobs in
Finley, aluminum jobs in Heath (ph) and Sidney, Ohio.

So, we`re seeing Ohio come back and it`s really because of the
Recovery Act. It`s because of the auto rescue. It`s because we`re
enforcing trade law and Mitt Romney could help us by writing a letter to
Speaker Boehner and tell him to pass the legislation you mentioned.

We passed our bipartisan trade bill, China trade bill, the currency
leveling, level the playing field jobs bill overwhelmingly, bipartisanly in
the Senate, including the other Republican senator from Ohio. We`re asking
the House to move on it. Governor Romney could call John Boehner and say,
when he`s in Ohio, and say schedule this bill for a vote, send it to the
president to sign it.

MADDOW: On trade and manufacturing and China specifically, I thought
that this campaign would be fought on totally different ground on that
subject, because in his book, the book "No Apologies," and his previous
sort of punditry early on in the Obama administration, Mr. Romney was
essentially arguing for not getting tough with China, was essentially
arguing against efforts by the previous administration and by the Obama
administration to confront China on trade issues. Now, he`s saying, no,
no, this is a door mat. I`m the one who will be tough.

BROWN: That was Romney 2.0. That`s clear that`s the case. One of
the specific cases that Romney criticized the president on was the Chinese
tire dumping case, which has resulted in jobs in Cooper tire in Finley,
Ohio.

Mitt Romney just senses an opportunity here. There`s no real --
there`s been no real interest in his career in standing up to China. The
president is doing the right thing.

I want him to be more aggressive. I urged him to be a bit more
aggressive. He`s doing the right thing on China. He needs to move more
aggressively on currency.

This legislation would matter. I mean, there`s no question. The
president recently came to Ohio to announce an auto parts trade action. We
went from a billion-dollar trade deficit in auto parts with China,
bilateral trade deficit, to $10 billion over the last 10 years.

That`s a lot of job loss and a lot of jobs we could start to regain
when we enforce these rules that China clearly is cheating. They subsidize
capital and energy and land and water. They don`t play fair on currency.

We stand up to them, it will mean jobs, good paying industrial jobs to
create a middle class in Ohio.

MADDOW: In your own campaign in Ohio, reelection campaign in Ohio, as
I mentioned in the introduction, you`ve raised money for your own campaign.
Your opponent has raised not dissimilar amounts of money for his own
campaign. The big difference is the amount of outside money that`s coming
in on his behalf. You`re being outspent 3 to 1, 4 to 1, depending on how
you look at the numbers, at least as far as I can tell today.

Why are these groups from outside your state so interested in seeing
you lose, (a), and (b), why do it in Ohio when there`s a premium on the ad
dollars because the presidential campaign is spending so much money?

BROWN: Their money may be unlimited. I mean, almost as unlimited as
it ever in politics, and, you know, they are going after me because it`s
dark money. We don`t know for sure who it is.

We think it`s the oil industry because of my efforts to try to take on
the oil companies and the subsidies they get. We think it`s Chinese
interests, corporations, American corporations that outsource to China
because of the China currency bill. We think it`s Wall Street because of
my legislation to break up the six largest banks.

So, it`s not surprising this money is being put in. The amount $18
million is more than any other place in the country. That maybe a bit
surprising that it`s that level, but that`s what they are doing this year.
And I expected it, in some measure, and we`re fighting back with a really
good grassroots effort and that`s how we blunt the spending in many ways.

MADDOW: When you say grassroots, you mean shoe leather, you mean door
to door?

BROWN: It means door to door. We have organizers on the ground, paid
organizers. The Obama campaign is very well organized in Ohio. It will
make a difference.

People have come to my Web site, SherrodBrown.com, signed up to help
us. Those efforts nationally and in Ohio have mattered and we expect to
win this election, being outspent three, 3 1/2, maybe four to one. We
expect to win by out-organizing them, talking about the auto rescue,
talking about trade enforcement, talking about the middle class, talking
about what we have done with health care.

And I feel optimistic about it because our message is strong and our
organization is good.

MADDOW: A man staring down the face of $18 million against him
feeling optimistic, you are a silver lining in a dark cloud. Thank you for
being here.

BROWN: Thank you, Rachel, always.

MADDOW: I should mention, Senator Brown`s opponent is named Josh
Mandel. Since Senator Brown just gave you the address for his campaign Web
site, which is fine, I also just as a matter of fairness have to tell that
Mr. Mandel`s Web site is Joshmandel.com. It`s M-A-N-D-E-L.

BROWN: You didn`t spell my name Rachel.

MADDOW: Brown?

BROWN: Sherrod, I don`t know.

MADDOW: Sherrod, two R`s.

Next time, I`ll come up with signage.

All right. Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown is stuck on a subject
about his Senate opponent, Elizabeth Warren, in a way that has been making
me crazy. I`m going to try to figure it out and get more articulate about
it tonight, because all I`ve been doing in covering it for the last few
weeks now has been screaming at the wall. Tonight, I`m going to try to put
words to my feelings. That`s ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: During a presidential campaign, during any modern campaign,
it is hard to know when it happens. When words captured on video in front
of an audience are going to stick, when footage is going to be a turning
point in the election. It`s going to be a defining thing that everybody
always remembers about that candidate.

It`s not always easy to tell when it happens, but ultimately,
something always sticks.

Well, today, for instance, we got this bit of Mitt Romney talking
about the emergency landing last week of a plane that at the time was
carrying his wife, Ann Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I appreciate the fact that she
is on the ground, safe and sound. I don`t think she knows how worried some
of us were. When you have a fire in an aircraft, there`s no place to go
exactly. There`s no -- and you can`t find any oxygen from outside the
aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don`t open, I don`t
know why they don`t do that. But it`s a real problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: It`s a real problem that the windows don`t roll down on
airplanes? Is it also a problem that guns don`t shoot backwards through
the barrel this way? Or the diving boards are only ever really mounted
over very deep water? Why don`t the windows roll down?

I don`t think he was joking because he couldn`t possibly be joking
about his wife almost being in a plane crash. You can`t joke about that,
especially with her standing right there. So did he -- I mean, has he
never seen gold finger?

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)

MADDOW: Right? Maybe Mr. Romney was joking when he said it was a
real problem that he couldn`t get the windows to roll down in airplanes, in
which case he was joking about something very scary involving his wife.
You wouldn`t think a guy would joke about. Maybe he meant the window
should roll down only on planes flying at low altitudes or something? We
don`t know.

But regardless of what he meant and how strange that moment was on the
campaign trail this weekend, frankly, the roll down the windows moment is
unlikely to rock the presidential campaign. It`s unlikely to stick the way
Mr. Romney`s remarks did on the issue of the 47 percent of the country he
considers to be victims and dependent on the government and not worthy of
his attention as a president or a presidential candidate.

Well, tonight, there`s new news on that it tape exclusively here,
specifically new tape. It`s coming up right at the end of the story --
right at the end of the show. Stay with us. And leave the windows where
they are in the meantime.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: All right. Ready for the snapshot? Here`s a look at where
the campaign is as of today in the all-important swing states.

In the polls that are out today, President Obama is up by four in
North Carolina, Obama up by five in Florida, Obama up by eight in President
Obama, Obama up by 12 in Wisconsin, Obama up by six in Colorado, Obama up
by seven in Nevada, and Obama up by four in Iowa. That`s what the campaign
is looking like today. Polls out today in the states where the campaign
most matters at this point. These are swing state polls that we got fresh.

Now, here is the opposite of the swing states. These are the states
where polling is still being done, in some cases, recently. Even though
the margins are always hilarious.

Like, say, Oklahoma where as of last month, Mitt Romney was up by 29
points. Or Texas where he was up by 15 points a couple weeks ago, or
Georgia where Mitt Romney was up by 21 points last week. Or Utah where
polling done over the summer found, surprise, Mitt Romney ahead by 42
points.

And the same is true on the other side as well. In California, for
example, President Obama is leading by 24. He`s up by 17 in Washington
state. He`s up in New York by 28 points. The president is also winning
Mitt Romney`s blue home state of Massachusetts by 28 points.

So these states are obviously something of an after-thought for the
presidential race, right? You can raise money there, but campaigning
there.

It turns out they are important in this year`s campaign. These huge
presidential margins show you which way the state leans. But Lord help the
down party guys, right? Lord help the opposite politician who survives in
these states. Not only facing that hostility in their state, but on the
same ballot as the presidential race where his or her party is going to
lose that top of the ticket race by 20 or 30 or, jeez, 40 points.

The Republican poster child for that problem in this election is
Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts. Now, Scott Brown is a very good
campaigner. Interestingly, I have spoken with Republican professionals
from all different points on the ideological number line in terms of how
conservative they are as Republicans and they all describe Scott Brown as
one of the most talented Republican campaigners they have ever seen, ever.

Until this month, Scott Brown had been running mostly ahead in the
Massachusetts polls against his Democratic challenge Elizabeth Warren. But
now, he`s slipping behind. In four of the five most recent polls in the
Senate race, Elizabeth Warren is now beating Scott Brown. And it is in
that context that we got their first debate last week, and it is in that
context that Scott Brown decided what he was going to make that debate all
about, what he was going to bring up unprompted repeatedly, what he`s
decided to make his United States Senate campaign mostly about now is his
judgment on Elizabeth Warren`s racial heritage, her family heritage, her
race.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SCOTT BROWN (R), MASSACHUSETTS: Professor Warren claimed that
she was a Native American, a person of color. As you can see, she`s not.
That being said, she checked the box and she had an opportunity, actually,
to make a decision throughout her career when she applied to Penn and
Harvard. She checked the box claiming she was a Native American. And, you
know, clearly, she`s not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Scott Brown has tried to make Elizabeth Warren`s heritage
part of the campaign before. Remember back in May? Got a lot of national
press.

He started with a line of attack that he, Scott Brown, should be
considered the authority on Elizabeth Warren`s family tree. And he got
tons of national attention for doing that. He gets tons of national
attention for doing anything.

But his argument, Scott Brown running against Elizabeth Warren`s
Native American heritage may have gotten him a lot of press, but it
ultimately did not play with voters in Massachusetts. A Suffolk University
poll taken in the thick of the controversy back in May found that 69
percent of likely voters thought that it Warren`s Native American heritage
was not a significant story and the polls did not much move one way or the
other and the whole thing sort of fizzled out.

But now, he`s behind in this whole wrap of polls. Now that he`s
behind, this is what Scott Brown wants his campaign to be about now. It
was not just the debate on Thursday night where he brought up Elizabeth
Warren`s racial heritage unprompted.

Scott Brown unveiled his post-debate campaign ad today and you guessed
it, once again, it attacks Elizabeth Warren for claiming her own Native
American heritage.

This is the new Scott Brown for Senate campaign. This is what it is
about.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: She checked the box claiming she was a Native American. And,
you know, clearly, she`s not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Clearly, look at her.

This is an amazing thing for Scott Brown to be pinning a U.S. Senate
election on. First of all, he`s declaring himself the authority on
Elizabeth Warren`s heritage based on how white she looks to him.

Scott Brown is confident just asserting that Elizabeth Warren is not
Native American. He can tell. What, can you smell it?

But there`s another thing going on here. There`s a reason that Scott
Brown wants to make his campaign about who is the authentically white
person.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: I don`t know and neither do the viewers know whether in fact
she got ahead as a result of that checking of the box.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Oh, getting ahead. Right, resenting affirmative action.
That never gets old with white voters.

Remember Mitt Romney joking to his $50,000 a plate donors about how
much easier he`d have it if only he were Mexican?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: My dad, as you probably know, was the governor of Michigan
and was the head of a car company but he was born in Mexico. And had he
been born of Mexican parents, I`d have a better shot of winning this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Mitt Romney joking to a room full of super rich people in
Florida about how easy the Latinos have it. Everything is handed to you if
your parents are born in Mexico. Am I right? Right?

I mean, at its essence, it`s a slightly-more subtle version used in
the famous Jesse Helms ad that we always use to illustrate this point,
right? The Jesse Helms campaign ad against Harvey Gant. Jesse Helms is a
white Republican senator running against a black Democratic challenger in
1990 and this ad was called the hands ad. It shows white working man`s
hands angrily crumpling up a rejection notice, while the narrator intoned
that the white guy lost his job because of handouts to black people.

This always comes out differently in different campaigns. It depends
on how comfortable the candidate is and how comfortable they think their
state it might be with overt racial claims. But it`s a political art that
survives the generations, right? It`s the art of stoking and particularly
working class white voters if you can, a sense that something is being
taken away from them by minorities.

And in this Massachusetts case now with Scott Brown, maybe it`s Warren
herself passing herself off. Scott Brown`s new ad attacking Elizabeth
Warren on how white she looks to him was out early today. Before the day
was over, the Elizabeth Warren campaign was out with a response ad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: As a kid, I never
asked my mom for documentation when she talked about our Native American
heritage. What kid would?

But I knew my father`s family didn`t like that she was part Cherokee
and part Delaware. So, my parents head to elope.

Let me be clear -- I never asked for and never got any benefit because
of my heritage. The people who hired me have all said they didn`t even
know about it.

I`m Elizabeth Warren and I approve this message. Scott Brown can
continue attacking my family, but I`m going to keep fighting for yours.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Melissa Harris-Perry joins us next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Professor Warren claimed that she was a Native American, a
person of color. And as you can see, she is not. She checked the box
claiming she was a Native American. And, you know, clearly, she`s not.

WARREN: As a kid, I never asked my mom for documentation when she
talked about our Native American heritage. What kid would?

But I knew my father`s family didn`t like that she was part Cherokee
and part Delaware. So, my parents head to elope.

Let me be clear -- I never asked for and never got any benefit because
of my heritage. The people who hired me have all said they didn`t even
know about it.

I`m Elizabeth Warren and I approve this message. Scott Brown can
continue attacking my family, but I`m going to keep fighting for yours.

(END VDIEO CLIPS)

MADDOW: As weird as it is to see a Senate candidate having to do a
political ad explaining what their ethnic background is, how much weirder
is it that that`s because all of the attacks on her in this campaign are
about her race? I don`t understand why this isn`t a national scandal.

Scott Brown campaigned against Elizabeth Warren is on the basis of her
race. I find it to be astonishing that it`s not more upsetting to more
people. It`s just weird.

Joining us now to help me get smarter about this story instead of just
getting increasingly flabbergasted by it the more I learn about it is the
host of MSNBC`s weekend morning show, Melissa Harris-Perry.

Melissa, it is good to see you. I feel relieved seeing you alone,
because I know that you will help me get smarter about this. Thank you for
being here.

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: Absolutely. I`m happy to do it.

MADDOW: When Scott Brown points to Elizabeth Warren`s appearance
essentially saying she looks too white to have any Native American
heritage, he seems to be saying he can judge her heritage based on her
looks. Where does this come from? And what do you think it means?

HARRIS-PERRY: So, on this particular aspect of it, there are two
really important issues that are certainly at play here in Massachusetts,
but much more broadly. The first is about race and what race is. A lot of
times when we say we need a national conversation on race, what we think we
need is we need a national conversation about race about relations and
whether or not white folks tolerate other people.

But I actually think that what we need in part is a conversation about
what race is. Race is a social construct, not a biological reality. So,
you know, when we think about blackness, which is the one most can put
their finger on, yes, most Americans think they can tell a black person
when they see one based on hair texture or how broad your nose is, or how
brown your skin is. But in fact, there`s no clear distinct line that makes
one black or outside of black or inside of indigenous identity or outside
of it.

It`s not our blood that makes us those things. It`s our social
constructs. In other words, whether or not those laws would influence you.
In this country, if you had one enslaved parents, you could be enslaved.
If you have 1/16 of or actually they called one drop of black blood, you
would be Jim Crowed.

And in the case of indigenous people, there are actually laws, state
laws, federal laws based on how far you have to trace back your ancestry to
be able to call one`s self part of an indigenous community.

And the second thing, I just want to point this out. This is part of
a political angst where everybody is going to have to show their papers.

Because race is socially constructed, the fact it`s very fluid, it
changes across time and space, what`s black today may not be black
tomorrow. I live in New Orleans where there`s a whole community of people
who are creoles of color that don`t fit in the normal racial hierarchy of
the U.S. but if you show your papers, the president of the United States
has to demonstrate he`s an American. If you`re going to show up to vote,
you`re going to have to prove without any doubt in many states sort of
precisely who you are and show multiple forms of ID.

And obviously, as you`ve been talking about, this entire election
season, the paper please laws around immigration and those who are going to
be profiled racially based on how they look about whether or not they have
a legal status or undocumented status. All of this is part of a growing
American anxiety about who we are as a people.

MADDOW: You know, the way that Scott Brown is using -- the way that
he`s problematizing race in this case, right, the way that he is using it
is to make this argument that Elizabeth Warren might have used her Native
American heritage to get ahead through affirmative action. What do you
think that he`s getting at there and how connected that is to other claims
about essentially stoking resentment on this issue?

HARRIS-PERRY: You know, it`s quirky, because you know, to the extent
that should be the claim, it ought to be sort of people of color would feel
irritation about it, the idea that someone who is socially constructed by
most people who look at her as white. And this idea that, wait a minute,
to the extent it`s about redressing historic wrongs based on
discrimination, it should be black communities, Latinos, and indigenous
peoples who would say, wait a minute, we don`t want someone who appears to
have the visual image of whiteness to take advantage of things that were
meant to redress historic wrongs.

So, it`s a weird kind of claim because it`s like she`s so white, you
should be mad she claims she`s brown?

The problem is that he`s talking about faculty hiring at elite
universities and as much as he sort of mocks her with this professor title,
the fact that if he knew something about it, he would know that hiring at
these kinds of universities does not happen on a paper and pencil
application. Everyone does visits and they get to know you and they talk
with you and they look you in your face.

So if race is some kind of neat, biological box, he need not worry
because American universities, especially those in the caliber where she is
taught, have already figured out how to bring you to campus and decide
whether or not you`re, you know, really a person of color or not.

MADDOW: In the precise way that Scott Brown can divine it because
he`s a human dousing rod for racial heritage. He can tell. Look at her,
look at her.

It`s amazing to me.

Melissa Harris-Perry, host of the weekend morning show, "MELISSA
HARRIS-PERRY" here on MSNBC -- Melissa, thank you so much for joining us
tonight. I really appreciate it.

HARRIS-PERRY: Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW: All right. Still ahead, a new development on the hidden
camera Romney fundraiser tape that turned this presidential campaign upside
down. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Milestone, we have elected a president in this country 56
times before this year. But this year, congratulations, America, with 43
days yet to go before Election Day, we have broken the all time American
record. The record for political giving by a single human in a single
political contest.

The old record for one person`s spending on a single election has been
broken this year, obviously by that Vegas casino zillionaire Sheldon
Adelson.

Did you know he broke the old record by a factor of three? He tripled
it. And there`s still more than 40 days left.

Between Mr. Adelson`s donations to Mitt Romney and all the anti-Obama
super PAC money he`s given this year, Sheldon Adelson is now officially the
biggest campaign bankroller of all time, $70 million from him alone and
counting. At least he is putting his name out there.

Although he is the guy spending the most money, he`s not the only one.
The only thing that`s new the major fund raisers on one side are secret.
It is an unprecedented thing this years that the Romney campaign is
refusing to reveal its bundlers, the people collecting donations from lots
of people, usually half a million dollars worth or more, and then bundling
those donations together before passing them on to the Romney campaign.

The law does not Mitt Romney or any other candidate to reveal their
bundlers, reveal who these high power fundraisers are. But all modern
presidential candidates in both parties have revealed those names before
Mitt Romney. He will not do it.

Check this out, last week, last Tuesday, Mr. Romney held a fund raiser
in Orange County, California, and after that, he flew to another fund
raiser in Salt Like City. That`s swing state Mitt for you.

As he got on his plane to fly from California to Utah, Governor Romney
was greeted at the plane by six people. The campaign described these six
people as finance greeters.

And then the campaign gave reporters the names of these finance
greeters that the reporters would be able to see greeting Mr. Romney. Look
at this. This is what they said their names were. Stephanie B., Brian F.,
Bernice F., Erin K., Amy M., Ron M.

Reporters are not allowed to know their names. Just first names and
last initials. Maybe they`re in the witness protection program? Maybe
reporters should have only been allowed to see them in silhouette. Maybe
those are disguises.

Why is this information being kept secret?

This is Mitt Romney`s top energy adviser. You see the name there,
Harold Hamm. He`s a billionaire oil executive. The same month that he was
named Mitt Romney`s top energy adviser, Mr. Hamm also gave just under a
million bucks to main pro-Mitt Romney super PAC.

Are all of Mitt Romney`s energy advisers, people who gave him a
million bucks to get the gig? Or at least who are unafraid of the
appearance that they gave him a million bucks to get that gig?

Again, here we don`t know. It`s secret. Not only Will Mitt Romney
not disclose who most of his big donors are. He will not disclose who his
energy advisers are.

Who`s advising him on energy? Will they tell us? There`s Harold
Hamm. He doesn`t mind having his name out there. Just like Sheldon
Adelson, he`s happy for it to be known. Harold Hamm, OK.

But then that`s it. No other names. Mr. Hamm chairs a group that
advises Mr. Romney on energy. But we`re not allowed to know who is in that
group that he chairs. We asked the Romney campaign this summer who else is
on their energy policy advisory group. They told us they will not be
releasing those names. They told us they would sure keep us posted if and
when they do. But so far, bupkis.

So, now that we know how much Sheldon Adelson is giving, we know we
have hit a milestone. We know that no one in any previous election year
has ever spent as much money as Sheldon Adelson is spending right now to
buy this American election.

But all we know for sure is that he has beaten the previous record for
previous elections. We don`t know if he holds the current record. Think
about it. Does Sheldon Adelson have competition? If someone else was
spending even more man than Sheldon Adelson to win the election this, how
would we know?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: OK. The secret Mitt Romney fundraiser video that kicked off
Mitt Romney`s very bad week last week is everywhere in the campaign now,
and features in the new 30-second TV ad, the Obama campaign is airing in
Ohio starting today. It`s also in the ad by a pro-Obama super PAC. It`s
also the subject of two Obama campaign web videos.

Now, our reporting on this video has been different than everybody
else`s, because we were a small part of the story of how this came into the
public eye in the first place.

Late last month, a piece of the video was posted to a YouTube account
that was made to look like it was mine, even though it wasn`t. Because of
that, we have been pretty keenly aware of the key that the quality of this
tape has evolved over time.

This is a little bit of a geeky, technical issue but it`s also
connected to the video`s political impact, because the quality of the video
directly affects the ability to authenticate it, to report on it, to
circulate it and to have people understand what it is. All the reasons and
the ways that it functions in politics.

So, check this out. After the fake Maddow account with the original
Romney clip was removed from YouTube, the same person posted other clips
from the secret Romney tape to another account. One of the reasons we
could not authenticate the tape back in August was because the video and
audio quality were poor enough that you could tell that it sort of sounded
like Mitt Romney, but you could not tell for certain whether it even looked
like him. The audio itself could have just been the guy with the Mitt
Romney-ish accent.

But then, when "Mother Jones" published clips from the secret video
last week, they published it with a focus specific shadow on Mitt Romney`s
face. You see that? Keeping a sharp focus around Mr. Romney and blurring
everything else. They said they did that initially to protect the source
of the video.

In a second release from "Mother Jones," they removed that blurring of
everything around Mr. Romney. So from its earlier incarnations as the
quality and resolution of the video evolved through each of these changes,
each of these changes affected the video`s potential utility as political
source material.

And now, as this video and these comments become a central defining
element of Mr. Romney`s campaign, there has been yet further evolution of
the tape. We have now obtained an audio enhancement of the video. The
words themselves have not been altered, you can compare it word by word
with the transcript. But through some kind of audio file tech wizardry,
the words are much more clear.

OK. So when the video was anonymously posted in August, here`s what
it looked and sounded like it. That will be the one in the left, there was
video at all, just audio. This was the initial.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are
victims, who believe that government has responsibility to care for them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: That`s what was posted online in August when no one knew what
it was. OK, now, here is what the video looked and sounded like when
"Mother Jones" first posted last week. This is the middle video.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Who believe they are victims, who believe the government has
responsibility to care for them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: That was the "Mother Jones" version posted last month. Now
here`s what the video looks and sounds like now without "Mother Jones"
initially blurring effect and with the new enhanced audio. It`s the one on
the right.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Believe that they are victims, who believe the government has
responsibility to care for them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: As more and more from the tape continues to be released and
clarified, eventually at this rate, somebody is going to produce a hologram
of Mitt Romney calling half the country victims, in your living room. When
that happens that hologram, along with this enhanced audio clips that we
obtained today will be posted and cataloged for posterity at our Web site,
at MaddowBlog.com. Those three clips from the fundraiser tape with this
newly enhanced quality are posted there now if you want to check them out,
MaddowBlog.com.

Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell. Have a
great night.

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

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