updated 9/27/2012 11:19:41 AM ET 2012-09-27T15:19:41

POLITICS NATION
September 26, 2012

Guests: Bob Shrum; Nia-Malika Henderson; Ryan Grim, Joe Madison, Ana Marie Cox, Ed Rendell, Margie Omero


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

Tonight`s lead, they are losing it. And it`s not just Mitt Romney.
The evidence is growing that Republicans have a much bigger problem on
their hands than any one candidate, even the candidate for the White House.
Instead, we`re seeing a rejection of the entire world view.

Do you own your own philosophy that says, if you are down on your
luck, then you are out of luck. We will be talking about it throughout the
show tonight.

But we start with a new poll out of Ohio that is sending shockwaves
across the Republican Party. The "New York Times" poll shows the president
now has a ten-point lead in the Buckeye State, ten points. Ohio voters are
responding to President Obama`s message on fairness and reacting against
Mitt Romney`s notorious comments about the 47 percent. The president drove
that point home today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t believe we can
get very far with leaders who write off half the nation as a bunch of
victims who never take responsibility for their own lives. And I`ve got to
tell you, as I travel around Ohio and as I look out on this crowd, I don`t
see a lot of victims. I see hardworking Ohioans. That`s what I see.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It`s not just voters in Ohio who are responding to that
message. The president has a nine-point lead in Florida and a 12-point
lead in Pennsylvania. Look, there`s no mystery about what happened. The
secret tape of Romney was a game changer. There`s no running away from
what he said. There`s no spin cycle that can clean up his comment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are 47 percent who
are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are
victims, who believe the government has responsibility to care for them,
who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to
you name it. That that is entitlement. And the government should give it
to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Today, a new poll finds that 54 percent of all voters have
an unfavorable view of Romney`s comments and 57 percent of independents
feel the same way. That`s a big reason why Romney is in so much trouble
Ohio and no Republican has ever won the White House without winning the
state.

But when asked about how losing Ohio would affect the electoral map,
Romney`s political director said quote, "I prefer to look at the map
holistically."

He wants to look at the map holistically? How about realistically?
This race is slipping from Romney. And President Obama is trying to seal
the deal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The values are hard work and personal responsibility, those
values that we believe in don`t just belong to workers or businesses or the
rich or the poor, the 53 percent or the 47 percent, the one percent or the
99 percent. Those are American values.

And if you`re with me and if you work with me, we`ll win what county
again. We`ll win Ohio again. We`ll finish what we started. We`ll remind
the world why the United States of America is the greatest nation on earth.
God bless you, everybody. God bless America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The first presidential debate is exactly one week from
tonight and right now both Mitt Romney and the Republican party are being
rejected by the American people.

Joining me now is Bob Shrum, Democratic strategist and a professor at
NYU, and Krystal Ball, co-host of "the Cycle" on MSNBC.

Thanks for coming on the show.

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: Thanks, Reverend.

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Glad to be here, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Now Bob, let me start with you. Is this as bad as it looks
for Romney or should I be looking at it more holistically?

SHRUM: Well, I think maybe they should have said that Ohio is a big
hole in our planet.

(LAUGHTER)

SHRUM: Look. This guy, Romney is not an Ohio kind of guy. Out
there, he comes across as a guy from another planet. That is partly true.
But, it also happen, number one, because he seeded the summer, the Bain ads
to find him. In fact, there`s one Bain ad on you tube that`s had 350,000
hits in the state Ohio.

SHARPTON: 350,000 hits just in the state of Ohio?

SHRUM: Just in the state of Ohio.

SHARPTON: Wow.

SHRUM: And then he talks about getting tough on outsourcing to China
but he`s the one that outsourced to China and who exploited low wage labor
there. Now, he has got this ridiculous say it all over the country
straight to cameras. It is a measure of desperation where he basically
says, I care about the middle class but gives no specifics. It`s not
believable.

Look, the guy did a terrible mistake with the 47 percent. He wasn`t
doing all that well before that. And I think the man who said he didn`t
care about 47 percent of the American people is heading for not even
getting 47 percent of the vote.

SHARPTON: Wow.

Well Krystal, when you look at the polls, and not just the "New York
Times" poll, but of course the across the board, there is a big lead for
the president. "New York times." 10 points for president, "the Washington
Post," eight percent lead in Ohio for the president. NBC "Wall Street
Journal" seven percent lead. FOX News, seven percent lead. The Columbus
dispatch, 5 percent lead.

I mean, it`s clear that the president is ahead in Ohio and no
Republican has won without winning the state of Ohio.

BALL: If Mitt Romney does not win Ohio, he does not win this
election. I mean, he could mathematically, theoretically do it, but he
would have to win every other swing state that is also leaning towards
Obama. If he doesn`t win Ohio, he doesn`t win.

And to Bob`s point, I think that when that video came out of him
talking about the 47 percent and casting them aside, I think that will be
viewed as the pivotal moment in this election, the way that in 2008
McCain`s crazed response to the financial crisis was really the pivotal
moment there.

SHARPTON: So you think this tape is the game changer?

BALL: I do think it`s the game changer. But, I want to cut Mitt
Romney a little bit of slack. I think that it was almost an impossible
task for the Republican nominee to be able to both please the party base
and appeal to a broad section of electorate in order to win. They have to
move so far to the right that it was impossible to run any sort of a
mainstream campaign. And, as you said, this is a verdict not just on
Romney but on their entire go it alone philosophy.

SHARPTON: Now, Bob, picking up on Krystal`s point about moving so far
to the right, in having to do that to win the primaries, when you look at
the "New York Times" poll of Ohio, it is not just likeability. Economy,
the president six points up over Romney. On health care, 14 points above
Romney of Ohio voters. National security, 12 points up. Medicare, 16
points up. Taxes, 10 point up. Immigration, five points up. Foreign
policy, 13 points up. So he is outpolling him by a significant number and
in most cases, double digits on substantive issues.

SHRUM: Look, this is not at this point just about who you want to sit
down with for a casual evening.

SHARPTON: Right.

SHRUM: This is who you want sitting behind the desk in the oval
office deciding whether to voucherize Medicare, to cut taxes for the very
wealthy, raise taxes on the middle class, privatize Social Security.

And Krystal is right, Romney had to move far to the right, although,
I`m beginning to believe having watched that tape, that that`s where is he
comfortable. That`s where he is fluent. I mean, that`s was the best and
easiest performance that I saw him give. It`s of course, his worst
performance, too.

And so, I think people have figured him out. I think the Ryan pick
helped him figure it out. We still have the debates, the Romney campaign
inexplicably is raising their expectations. But, as wrote in "the Daily
Beast," it`s not really inexplicable. There`s a reason for it. They have
got a lot of wavering supporters and even more they are worried about a lot
of wavering fund-raisers that about some of the super PACs abandoning them
for congressional and senate races. So, they have to say just wait for
those debates on October 3rd.

SHARPTON: Now Krystal, you wanted to cut Mr. Romney some slack. So
to be fair, the area that he is up is until budget deficit. He is winning
in the polls four percent. It`s the only area that he beats the president,
four percent in terms of the deficit. But before you celebrate that --

BALL: I`m celebrating that.

SHARPTON: -- the Bloomberg poll on Romney`s popularity finds that 50
percent of Americans view him unfavorably, 50 percent. That`s the worst
September rating for a presidential challenger in three decades of the
poll. The worst.

BALL: It`s really bad. And you have got Republicans saying, well,
just wait for the debates. That`s when people are really going to tune in.
Even if Romney --

SHARPTON: Wouldn`t you await for the convention?

BALL: I know.

(CROSSTALK)

BALL: And every time he`s had one of these moments --

(CROSSTALK)

BALL: And every time he`s had one of these moments, not only has he
failed to capitalize on them, but in fact, he`s fallen further behind. So,
I don`t think Mitt Romney is up to the task of turning this thing around
just through the debates. And I also don`t think there are enough
undecided voters left even if they all clinch to his calling.

SHARPTON: But Bob, he`s still digging in, feeling he could win white
working-class voters in Ohio on this welfare claim. He`s sticking to his
guns on the claim that the president wants to roll back work requirements
for welfare even though "Politifact" and "the Washington Post" as debunked
that weeks ago. Given it the worst possible polls rating. Take a look at
what he says.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Any time there`s anything that has been amiss, we correct it
or remove it. The president on the other hand, --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Even the welfare act?

ROMNEY: Absolutely. Look, it has been shown time and again that the
president`s effort to take work requirement out of welfare is a calculated
move, the same thing he did with regard to food stamps.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, he tried to use every buzz word that but a dog
whistle. But do you think this debunked line of attack was Romney`s only
strategy to get white working-class votes?

SHRUM: Well, what happened is they started off with a referendum
strategy. If you`re kind of unhappy, give me a try. They didn`t think
that they were going to have to go out there and be very specific. And
then, they got in to trouble because the president`s campaign made us a
choice. They then turned to something a number of Republican candidates
have done over -- going all the way back to Richard Nixon. And that is,
use code words, use code issues, try to use races and lever and see if you
are going appeal to working class right.

It`s obviously not working in Ohio where his support among working
class whites is going down. The one thing that I have to say for them at
this point is the low expectations going into the debate actually help
them. Because I think the press would kind of like to give them another
run or another chance to go around the track. So if he does decently in
the debate, he`ll get that chance but I agree with Krystal. To really
overtake the president, he would have to win that debate precisely and
connect with people in a way he never has.

BALL: In a way that he`s not capable of, frankly.

SHARPTON: Boy, is he just too elitist for Roosevelt that he just
can`t connect?

BALL: he just - I think frankly, he doesn`t have the goods. I mean,
this is not like he is a new candidate. He has been running for president
for six years. He has had ample opportunity to connect with people, to
introduce himself, and he has failed to do it for these six years. I don`t
see how these debates are going to make a difference.

SHARPTON: Bob Shrum and Krystal Ball, thank you for your time
tonight.

BALL: Thanks, Reverend.

SHRUM: No problem.

SHARPTON: And be sure to catch "the Cycle" weekdays at 3:00 eastern
right here on MSNBC.

Coming up, when Republicans get desperate, they launch some dirty
smears against the president. And Newt Gingrich just got down in the mud.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He`s not a real
president. I mean, he doesn`t do things that presidents do. He doesn`t
worry about anything that the presidents do. He`s a false president. He`s
a guy that doesn`t do the president`s job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Not a real president? I have some thoughts on that one.

Plus, Mitt Romney`s crowd is pretty fired up for Paul Ryan, that is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: That`s my guy,. Paul Ryan, is that something? Wait a
second. Romney/Ryan. Romney/Ryan. There you go. That`s great. Thank
you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The cracks are starting to show in the GOP romance.

And remember these folks? Republicans thought that by 2012 everybody
would look like this. Whatever happened to the so-called tea party
revolution?

This is "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, it`s time for a new segment.
This is called Mitt Romney, it`s kind of a joke. Watch this.

ROMNEY: My dad used to tell us that one year they ate nothing but
potatoes. That was when they lived in Idaho. Even later in life, my dad
couldn`t look a potato in the eye. And that`s kind of a joke.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Still ahead, looks like Paul Ryan is stealing Governor
Romney`s thunder. It`s never good when the presidential candidate has to
remind the crowd who is on the top of the ticket

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST THE COLBERT REPORT: To fight for the GOP`s very
existence, we have chosen Mitt Romney as our bearer. Unfortunately, no one
can stand or bear him.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Mitt Romney is looking for a way back into the voter`s
hearts with a little help from his running mate. Romney and Ryan were
reunited on the campaign trail in Ohio yesterday for the first time in more
than a month.

The "New York Times" says Romney and Ryan plan to campaign together a
lot more in the weeks ahead. Comes at midst sinking poll numbers and
concerns that Romney is not generating enough excitement on his own. And
he needs Ryan to fire up the crowd. But yesterday`s reunion didn`t quite
go as planned.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Wow. That`s quite a guy, isn`t it? Paul Ryan. Isn`t that
something?

CROWD: Ryan! Ryan! Ryan!

ROMNEY: Wait a second. Romney/Ryan, Romney/Ryan, Romney/Ryan. There
we go. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Wow. You know things are bad when a nominee has to remind
people he`s the one on the top of the ticket. Suddenly, this reunion is
not feeling so good.

Joining me now is Nia-Malika Henderson, a reporter for "the Washington
Post," and Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for "the Huffington Post."

Thank you both for being here.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Great
to be here, Rev.

RYAN GRIM, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, HUFFINGTON POST: Thanks for
having me.

SHARPTON: Nia, I`ve been around politics since I was a teenager.
I`ve never seen anything that bad where the nominee had to stop the crowd
and put his name out front. I mean, this is a little crazy, don`t you
think?

HENDERSON: And you have seen this before. You`ve seen people, you
know, sort of tripping up on Romney`s name, calling him Mitt Ryan. You`ve
seen him on "60 minutes" reminding the interviewer that he, in fact, is the
one on the ticket and running for president.

On the one hand, Ryan has obviously energized this ticket. Barack
conservatives on board. But you now, you have conservatives saying,
listen, unleash Ryan and have him talk more about policy and his plans for
the future of the country. But it has been a bit of a sticky situation.

The aides I`ve talked to around Romney say they have a great
relationship. They talk several times a day. But in reality, Ryan does
have a different set of advisers around him, a different set of
speechwriters. And I think everyone at this point is sort of waiting to
see if Ryan, in fact, goes rogue at some point. Does he move to save his
brand, which, of course, was this young gun, this tea party guy. Does he
look at his future prospects and see Romney as being something of a drag on
whatever his future prospects might be for national office four years from
now.

SHARPTON: Well, Ryan gives us two dilemmas. One, is this Romney
being in square and overreacting or is it a problem for Mr. Ryan who has to
protect his brand for the future and if he decides that his future is at
risk, what happens if he does go rogue wrong?

GRIM: Well, I think it is definitely a bit of insecurity. But in
some sense, you know, Ryan can respond to this and help himself and help
Romney at the same time. In other words, by deflecting the spotlight by
him and saying, no, you`re right, Romney is the guy at the top of the
ticket, Romney is the guy you should be paying attention to, that also
absolves him of some of the responsibility for what a lot of people are
thinking is going to be a debacle on Election Day. So they can say, yes,
yes, Romney is our guy. Romney is our leader. Romney is carrying the
flag. So that when the ticket stumbles, he say well, Mitt Romney was the
leader. Romney was our guy. Romney was on the top of the ticket. It
wasn`t me.

SHARPTON: Well, your paper, Nia-Malika, recently reported that they
are worried about how the Romney campaign has changed Ryan. Quote, quoting
from an article in the Washington Post, "there`s been mounting concern
among Republicans that the pick has made Ryan look more like Romney, vague,
cautious, and limited to preset talking points."

HENDERSON: That`s right. I think there was a sense that Ryan was
this bold, brash young guy with lots of different ideas, whether they are
on Medicare or Medicaid and that in fact would influence Romney. And you
saw initially that they came out, in fact, to say that this would be a
campaign about ideas and really being able to draw a really stark contrast
with Obama.

But so far, that hasn`t happened. I think in a lot of ways Ryan has
been diminished and I think a lot of his supporters on the hill and a lot
of conservatives specifically among the conservative elite and the
conservative money man, they very much want this to be about Ryan`s ideas,
Ryan`s bold ideas for the future.

And I think in some ways they are preparing to make an argument if in
fact Romney stumbles and if in fact Ryan is still left in a diminished
state and not able to talk about their ideas. They are prepared to argue
that that is in fact why Romney lost. That in fact, if he was more bold,
he would have a better chance of winning.

SHARPTON: Well, Ryan talking about Romney`s stumbling, it seems that
he`s having a real problem staying on message. For example, watch this
when he deals with health care reform. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I`m not getting rid of all of health care reform.

He`s not one new idea. I admit this. He has one thing that he did
not do in his first four years that he said he was going to do in his next
four years, which is to raise taxes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, in both of those cases, the campaign had to walk back
the candidate`s remarks, Ryan. I mean so, he says things and here`s two
examples, taxes and health care, where his campaign had to actually walk
him back.

GRIM: Right. I think goes back to a comment that made right from the
beginning where you said, I`ve never seen anything like that. And people
have been saying that over and over for the last couple of weeks because he
keeps doing thing that people have never seen before in politics. They
have never seen anybody who insulted, you know, half of the electorate that
you`re trying to win over and then he goes out and says, OK, parts of
health care are pretty good and then he goes and says Obama hasn`t raised
taxes. And today, he says hey, don`t expect a lot of tax cuts from me
because I`m going to go after your deductions. He told this to an Ohio
crowd.

And you know, if he told - if he told the crowd specifically what
deductions he was going to go after, then at least you could give him point
for courage and for specificity. But instead he just vaguely said, you`re
not going to get a tax cut because I`m going to go t after your deductions.

So you know, it`s not courageous, it`s just dumb. So, people are
walking out of the rally wondering, hey boy, so I`m not going to get a tax
cut and he`s going to go after some deductions. Well, which ones?
Charitable? Mortgage interest deduction? I don`t even know.

So, he just keeps doing these things that are inexplicable and what
that is going to allow, you know, Republican operatives to do after the
election is to say that it wasn`t a problem with the ideology. It wasn`t a
problem that he was running too extreme of a campaign. It was a problem
that he was a bad campaigner and so, that undermines attempts by others
that pull the party in a more moderate direction.

SHARPTON: But, Nia, I think also the problem with that is, what does
that do to Ryan? Because I`m thinking of the Iowa Republican party
political director Craig Robinson, was just more direct when he was quoted
by the "New York times" assaying, quote, "if Ryan wants to run for national
office again, he will probably have to wash the stench of Romney off of
him." The stench of Romney.

HENDERSON: Yes. I mean, that -- those are harsh words. And I think
a lot of Republicans, tea party folks particularly, feel that way. Feel
like Mitt Romney has watered down the Paul Ryan that they have come to love
and respect and think of him as very much the standard bearer of the future
of the Republican party.

So, I think everyone is on the lookout to see Ryan go his own way sort
of the way on the way that we saw Sarah Palin do that. And you know, with
John McCain around the issue of pulling out of Michigan.

And so, I think that`s what everybody is waiting to see, if Paul Ryan
is going to do that. I think he`s very much a good soldier so I tend to
think that he probably wouldn`t do that in the way that Sarah Palin did
that, but we`ll have to see.

SHARPTON: Nia-Malika Henderson and Ryan Grim, thanks for your time
tonight.

HENDERSON: Thank you.

GRIM: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, offensive photos of the president posted by a
Republican party chapter in a key swing state. Is this what`s happening on
the far right of the GOP? Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Have you checked us out on Facebook? The POLITICS NATION
conversation is going all day long. Today folks are still buzzing about
how Ryan`s been outshining Romney a bit on the campaign trail.

Dennis thinks, "Anybody Romney chose to be his running mate could
outshine him."

Hugh says, "It`s almost Ryan`s turn to go rogue."

And Claudia says, "If this crowd really knew what Ryan had in store
for them, they wouldn`t be chanting his name either."

We want to know what you think of the Romney/Ryan relationship. Head
over to Facebook and search POLITICS NATION and like us to join the
conversation that keeps going long after the show ends.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: As Republicans get more pessimistic about their chances in
November, they are getting more and more desperate and reaching back into
their bag of dirty tricks. Just listen to what former republican candidate
Newt Gingrich said about the President last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He happens to be a
partial part-time president. I mean, he really is like the substitute
referees in the sense that he`s not a real president. I mean, he doesn`t
do any of the things presidents do. He doesn`t worry about anything of the
things that presidents do. He`s a false president. He`s a guy that
doesn`t do the president`s job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He`s a false president. He`s not a real president. What`s
Newt saying here? That President Obama, our President, is somehow not
legitimate? This is the latest in a long line of smears and innuendo aimed
at our president. It comes from within the Romney campaign as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN SUNUNU, ROMNEY SUPPORTER: Look, let me tell you what the big
problem with this president is, in my opinion. He is absolutely lazy and
detached from his job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The President is lazy and detached? Did John Sununu really
just say that? And we`ll also seeing this at a grassroots level on the far
right. The Mecklenburg County Republican Committee in Virginia has been
ordered by the state GOP to take down offensive pictures of President Obama
photoshopped to make him look like a witch doctor. And one that shows the
President as a cave man who`s -- the economy.

And this one, showing the President begging the country, come on,
baby, give me one more chance. As we went on air tonight, most of those
photographs are still on that republican committee`s web page.

Joining me now is Joe Madison, nationally syndicated radio host of
"Mornings with Madison" and Ana Marie Cox, Washington correspondent for
"The Guardian." First, let me thank both of you for being here.

JOE MADISON, HOST, "MORNINGS WITH MADISON": Thanks for having me,
Reverend.

ANA MARIE COX, CORRESPONDENT, "THE GUARDIAN": Thank you.

SHARPTON: Newt Gingrich, Joe, Newt Gingrich says, President Obama is
a false president. What`s behind that attack?

MADISON: Well, I don`t know. I asked -- you know, ask the folks in
the Middle East, you know. Ask the Navy SEALs who helped to get the most
wanted terrorists. Look, it`s like the three stooges on steroids. I mean,
John Sununu, Newt, and Donald Trump. Really, like the three stooges on
steroids and this is, again, cold. And for the younger generation, when
you hear lazy, you know, that`s the kind of code word that they would say
about African-Americans in the `60s, the `50s, and decades before.

This is nothing more than just out right racism. Again, as I`ve said
before, it`s not Jim Crow. It`s not Senator Eastland. It`s not Lester
Maddox. It`s James Crow Esquire in a pin-striped suit, the sophisticated
cousin and, quite honestly, I don`t think your children, my children, all
of them are grown and this generation is falling for it. And you know the
reason why? Is because they`ve gone to school with people of different
nationalities, different colors. They`ve competed with people.

They know men and women like Michelle Obama. They know men like
Barack Obama. And they are not falling for it and they are the
Neanderthals. They are the once whose children are sitting there looking
at and they`re wondering, you know, what cave did you come out of?

SHARPTON: Ana Marie, is this due to desperation that they are going
back to the old dirty tricks and code words? Is this because they are
losing and they`ve become desperate?

COX: I think so, Al. I have to say like, I want to be totally fair.
People said some really nasty things about George Bush when he was in
office. There are some pretty awful characters of him. But there`s one
significant difference which is, that those characters and the things that
people said about George Bush did not have the racial residents that some
of these things do.

MADISON: OK. Yes.

COX: And I think that`s a huge difference. But here`s one thing they
have in common, that I think I`m going to agree with the other guests.
Those things didn`t really work. Those slurs against George Bush did not
really work with the mass amount of American people and I do not think
these things are working for the conservatives against Obama in part
because we have grown as a country. We elected Barack Obama. That doesn`t
mean that we`ve seen the end of racism but it does mean that, you know,
people my age, people a bit younger than me don`t have that same resonance
because they`ve grown up in a country that these people like Michelle
Obama, like Barack Obama all the time. This is more desperate than it is
effective.

SHARPTON: Now, Mitt Romney, Joe, Mitt Romney himself has said some
things that kind of go along with some of the more brazen stuff if you look
at it a certain way. He talks about how the president doesn`t have
American values. He says it repeatedly on the campaign trail. Listen to
this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I never apologized for
America. We`ve got to stop apologizing for success here at home and we`ve
got to have a president to stop apologizing for America abroad.

I just don`t think the President by his comments, suggest and
understanding of what it is that makes America such a unique nation.

It`s a very strange and in some respects foreign to the American
experience type of philosophy.

I don`t think he understands why our economy is the most successful in
the world. I don`t think he understands America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Two act as though the President doesn`t understand America,
his values are un-American, he doesn`t understand how to deal with
Americans, Joe, isn`t that sort of the same kind of code that he`s
different from us, whoever us is supposed to be?

MADISON: That`s absolutely right. Remember, his staff when they were
in England, he didn`t understand the Anglo-Saxon, you know, values and all
of that. Who talks like that in this day and age? But the President, to
everyone, is an example of an American exceptionalism and his entire
family. You know what? Look, this is Mitt Romney, once again, he has gone
so far to the right to the extreme. He has played -- he`s so deep into
that base that just dislikes Newt -- dislikes the President Obama so much.
Now, notice something here. And I guarantee you, even if you played the
clip longer, he never says what the President said is anti-American.

SHARPTON: Right.

MADISON: You know, why? Because there`s nothing there that he said
that was anti-American. In fact, checkers have shown that over and over.
Oh, I forgot. They don`t care about facts.

SHARPTON: Yes. But that`s my point. Is creating this energy and to
some degree Ana Marie it`s effective when you look at the fact that in
October of 2008, 16 percent of Republicans said President Obama is a
Muslim. In July of 2012, 30 percent of Republicans say, the President is a
Muslim. Doubled. It`s doubled. More Republicans, twice as many, believe
the president is a Muslim today than they did four years ago, even though I
might underscore, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a Muslim.

MADISON: Nothing.

COX: That`s true, although, you know, I think there`s really
interesting about those polls, I do think they kind of feedback on
themselves. I think the more you poll that question, the higher the
percentage gets because for a lot of Republicans who have this distaste for
Obama, the idea that he`s a Muslim explains a lot to them. But the other
thing that I noticed in that polling is that sometimes Barack Obama
actually polls well with people even though they think he might be a
Muslim. I think that`s a testament to the religious syncretism of this
country.

MADISON: Yes.

COX: But I really have to insist, I do not think that these attacks
are going to work in the long run. I think the more desperate Romney gets,
the more desperate he looks. We are the country don`t like desperate
looking candidate.

MADISON: And these pictures that you`ve shown are like something out
of mad magazine.

SHARPTON: Yes.

MADISON: You know, that`s exactly what they used to -- you know, I
used to read mad magazine when I`m a teenager.

SHARPTON: Yes.

MADISON: Grow up. And I wish the grownups would come back to the
Republican Party quite honestly.

SHARPTON: I agree, Joe Madison, Ana Marie Cox, and Joe, look at the
tape when you get home. I think Ana Marie, you and I owe the guy today.

MADISON: I think she did.

SHARPTON: Thank you for your time tonight though, Ana Marie.

(LAUGHTER)

Still ahead, Paul Ryan has some advice for women on welfare. You`ll
want to see this. But, first, it`s not just Mitt Romney that voters are
rejecting right now. The Tea Party is in a downward spiral. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Up next, remember the Tea Party wave that was going to wash
over America, that was going to change Washington? Well, that wave is
looking more and more like a washout. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: When the history of this Tea
Party movement has been written, what you accomplish here will not be
forgotten.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Ah, remember that? That`s what people were saying about
the Tea Party before this year. It would never be forgotten. It would go
down in history -- would become the national uniform. People would take to
the streets with tea bags hanging from their brims. Well, that prediction
isn`t really working out. Americans are rejecting the Tea Party ideas,
including their hatred of federal government. Americans trusted government
is at its highest points since the Tea Party emerges three years ago. And
this election could be the final breaking point.

President Obama says, that if he`s fortunate enough to win a second
term, his re-election will send a message to Republicans that Americans
want his strategies, his solutions. The American people will speak on
November 6th. The question is, will Republicans listen?

Joining me now is former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, now an NBC
political analyst and Margie Omero, democratic strategist. Thank you both
for coming on the show tonight.

FMR. GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Thank you, Rev.

MARGIE OMERO, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Governor Rendell, let me go to you first. Do Republicans
have a lot more at stake here than just Mitt Romney in this election?

RENDELL: There`s no question though, Reverend. First of all, if Mitt
Romney loses badly, the Tea Party will put a spin on that saying that he
wasn`t a true conservative, he wasn`t one of us. You can`t test our
strength until one of us runs for president. But the fallacy of that
argument is going to be in the Senate and in the House. In the Senate,
listen to the states where the Republicans are in danger of losing Senate
seats. Missouri, Indiana, North Dakota, Arizona, Nevada and Maine.

SHARPTON: Right.

RENDELL: Six states where Tea Party candidates won the primary and in
Indiana, if Richard Lugar had beaten the Tea Party candidate in the
primary, there would be no race in the fall. The Democrats would have no
chance. But because Tea Party candidates prevailed in those state, there`s
a chance that in those six states -- five of them would be pickups. In
Missouri, Claire McCaskill who everybody assumed was dead has a great
chance to win because -- Tea Party candidate. So, the Tea Party`s got a
lot of explaining to do at the Congressional level and at the senatorial
level.

SHARPTON: Well, in line with that, Margie, you find Bill Kristol
wrote in the Weekly Standard arguing the GOP could possibly loss the House.
And I`m quoting him, "Based on current polling, I don`t think one can say
that it is now out of the question that we can wake up on the morning of
November 7th to the prospect of Speaker Nancy Pelosi." That`s astounding
for Bill Kristol to be saying.

OMERO: Yes. Absolutely. I mean, here`s the legacy, at least the
current status of the Tea Party. And the Tea Party itself is unfavorable.
There are fewer people who identify as members of the Tea Party. You have
house members of the Tea Party caucus now creating a Congress that has
record low approval rating. House members in the Tea Party caucus
themselves are in districts where the Tea Party is now unfavorable. People
who ran as Tea Party candidates before are no longer running as Tea Party
candidates.

They are dropping that from how they describe themselves. So, I think
the end result is, you know, now we`re realizing as a country after having
this discussion that people really want a more balanced approach. They
want a collaboration and cooperation and they don`t want either party to be
beholden to a really very fringe extremist party.

SHARPTON: Isn`t that the point though, Governor? It`s not just the
politics and the personalities, it seems to be a rejection for the ideas
and the philosophy and policy of the Tea Party?

RENDELL: Yes, there`s no question. I think, with this election the
pendulum has begun to swing back and people are beginning to realize that
government is not the enemy. It`s not the solution to all of our problems
but it`s not the enemy and it can be very important to help people who are
vulnerable, who`ve lost their jobs, people who have no way of feeding their
families and to create an opportunity, to create jobs, to develop an
infrastructure program that will bring literally millions of Americans back
to work. So, yes, I think the pendulum has swung, people as you say in the
polls are reflecting a stronger and a positive attitude towards government
in a long time that we`ve seen in a long time. So, yes, I think there is a
seat change.

SHARPTON: Now, Margie, when you look at the fact that the
establishment in the Republican Party, they don`t seem to be putting their
neck on the lines for these vulnerable Tea Parties, either. The Hill
reports and I`m reading this quote, "The National Republican Congressional
Committee has no airtime reserved for three of its most vulnerable
incumbents, a sign that in my thing Representative Joan Walsh, Frank
Guinta, and Roscoe Bartlett are beyond saving. All three are members of
the Tea Party. Guess the ideas aren`t working for their constituents.
Huh, Margie?

OMERO: Well, ultimately the party committee makes these decisions
based on which candidates could win and not based on ideology. That`s why
you see Republicans are now going to go back to Missouri to help Todd Akin
regardless of how far of the mainstream he is. And that`s why you will see
candidates like Joe Walsh, you know, constantly makes national news with
his outrageous remarks is going to be a left hung out to dry. So, it`s
really about what candidates can win.

And frankly, both parties ultimately look, you know, that`s their job
to get more candidates elected. I think it`s important, too, to look at
the broader context of what this means for the presidential race, that this
race, really according to Pew, is going to really hinge on views towards
the size of government and more than in -- elections, and while broadly
speaking people, do want smaller government, more than larger government,
when asked in a larger context when it comes to specifics, as the governor
was saying, people are really on the side of Democrats and that`s why you
don`t hear Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan offering a lot of specifics and that`s
why you have a lot of House races and Senate races now hinging on
candidates who have taken tough votes that they didn`t realize were tough,
turned out they are on the wrong side.

SHARPTON: I`m going to have to leave it there. Ed Rendell and Margie
Omero, thanks for your time this evening.

OMERO: Thank you.

RENDELL: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`ve talked for months about the disastrous impact
republican policies have on people who are already struggling. Today, Paul
Ryan came face-to-face with one of those people. At a campaign event, a
woman on public assistance asked Ryan how he had helped people like her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I make $316 every two weeks. I`m wondering what
you`re prepared to do to end welfare as a hand up and not a hand out. I
can`t get off welfare with what I`m making.

PAUL RYAN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: This is a woman in need, a woman who is struggling. She
says she can`t afford to get off welfare. Just listen to the end of Ryan`s
response to her question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN: The only thing that limits you is your God given talent and
your own effort. We need to have that dynamic economy return. You do that
by drawing the economy and giving people a hand up, not a hand out. Teach
a man how to fish, he can feed himself for a life. Don`t simply feed fish.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Don`t feed fish? What does that even mean? And the only
limit is your talent and effort? We`ve heard this from Herman Cain.
Remember? If you`re not rich, blame yourself. The truth is, instead of
offering solutions to help the poor, Republicans want to gut the safety
net. We have nearly two-thirds of Ryan`s budget cuts come from low-income
programs, things like Medicaid, food stamps and Pell grants. But his
running mate thinks there`s plenty of cash to give tax cuts to the rich.
Romney`s tax plan would raise taxes on low-income Americans. It would
raise taxes on the middle class.

But it would give a big old tax break to millionaires. Mr. Ryan, I`m
all for teaching men to fish but you`re giving the catch of the day to the
wealthy and throwing everyone else overbroad. Platitude, slogans, all of
that is nice. But telling a man to tighten up his belt when he`s already
been stripped down to his underwear, what could be inspirational becomes
insensitive and downright insulting. Let`s have a program for all
Americans, not just those at the top. Not just those that have already
succeeded. But those that really believe in this country and just wants
the chance to get on their feet and participate and make a livelihood for
their family, like the lady you met today.

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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