updated 9/28/2012 11:33:41 AM ET 2012-09-28T15:33:41

POLITICS NATION
September 27, 2012

Guests: David Corn; Michelle Cottle, Joe Madison, Alicia Menendez, Wayne Slater


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

Tonight`s lead, oops, he did it again. There is a new secret Mitt
Romney video that surfaced today. This one comes from his years running
Bain capital. And Mr. Romney`s language in the video, once again, just
leaves you scratching your head. The same man who said corporations are
people, who made a $10,000 bet with another candidate. The question is,
just who is this guy? Who wants to lead our nation.

"Mother Jones" magazine obtained the video. It shows Romney back in
1985 describing how Bain capital viewed the companies it was supposedly
helping.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Bain capital is an
investment partnership which was formed to invest in, startup companies and
ongoing companies than to take an active hand in managing them and
hopefully five to eight years to harvest them at a significant profit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Harvest these companies for a profit. That was Romney`s
goal in business. To harvest companies the way you harvest organs, the way
you harvest crops. Take out everything good and leave the stalks behind.

But we now know this is Mitt Romney`s world view. The world view we
only see behind closed doors when he thinks we`re not listening. It`s what
we saw on that secret video where Romney said, 47 percent of Americans saw
themselves as victims.

Today, the Obama campaign released a devastating new ad that simply
let`s Romney speak for himself while showing the faces of the 47 percent.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: There are 47 percent of the people that will vote for the
president no matter what, who believe that they are victims, who believe
that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe they are
entitled. They should take personal responsibility and care for their
lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Seniors, veterans, the working poor, that`s the half of
America that Romney is writing off. It is offensive. It is an offensive
world view. And on the campaign trail today in Virginia, President Obama
seemed offended by it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t think 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. I know. I
travel around a lot in Virginia and across this country. I don`t meet a
lot of victims. I see hardworking Virginians. I see students trying to
work their way through college. I see single moms like my mom putting in
overtime to raise their kids` right. I see senior citizens saving for
retirement your entire lives.

Like Jim Whip said, I see a whole bunch of veterans who have served
this country with bravery and distinction and I see soldiers who defend our
freedom every single day. And I see those military families who are
wondering whether their loved ones are going to come back home safe and
sound. That`s who I see.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That`s who I see. A vision of an America united by values,
not divided by wealth. It`s a passionate message and polls show it is
resonating with the American people.

Just take a look at this. It`s remarkable. Here is how the race
looked before Romney`s 47 percent comment became public. Some ups and
downs but overall a pretty steady race.

Here`s the race since the 47 percent video surfaced last Monday. It`s
clear, it`s a clear shift toward the president as Americans learn more and
more about Romney, who Romney is and how he views so many Americans. Two
candidates, two visions in this election. We are all in this together or
you are on your own.

Build jobs from the bottom up or harvest profits from the top down.
The American people would choose. It is choice, but it is no contest.

Joining me now is David Corn, Washington bureau chief from "Mother
Jones." He broke the story today about this new harvest video just over a
week after he first obtained the 47 percent video itself. And Michelle
Cottle, Washington correspondent for the "Newsweek, Daily Beast."

Thank you both for joining me.

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure thing.

MICHELLE COTTLE, WASHINGTON REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST, NEWSWEEK:
Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Now, David, the Romney campaign has responded to this
harvest video. They said, quote, "in addition to starting new businesses,
Mitt Romney helped build Bain capital by turning around broken companies,
creating and saving thousands of jobs. The problem today is that President
Obama hasn`t been able to turn around our economy in the same way." End of
that quote. But still that word harvest just sticks out, doesn`t it?

CORN: It does. And I have to say this tape wasn`t surprising. It`s
interesting in some ways because it is not surprising. This is how private
equity people talk. They look at companies not in the long run, you know,
how to build something the way Steve Jobs built Apple and you know, how it
can be part of a community and go on and on and create jobs and survive and
thrive. They look at companies as sort of profit opportunities. We look
for companies with hidden or potential value. We go in there, take a
stake, try to manage them, and then harvest them for significant profits.

Now, as President Obama has said, in some ways there is nothing wrong
with that. That would some people view. You know, Newt Gingrich actually
called it vulture capital capitalism. But it is not the same thing as
being - it is looking at a company as a way to creating jobs, being a stake
holder in the community and thinking about the long run. You know, that`s
not what you`re look at.

And so, Mitt Romney who was just talking the jargon of someone who
does private equity and which it`s just not -- at the same time, though, in
the last year he has told us that he can create jobs and he knows the
economy better because of his Bain capital experience.

SHARPTON: But Michelle, let me ask you, harvest companies, buy
companies and harvest them for a profit, where in there can you even find
with the most generous stretch you can, find job creation?

COTTLE: It is unfortunate imagery and it`s a rarefied feel that he
was dealing in it. David said, this what private equity guys do. And this
is the downside to Romney has made his entire campaign, kind of a
referendum on President Obama` failure to create jobs and his claims that
he know how to create jobs. And that, you know, siding his private sector
experience, he talks up a good game. You know, kind of inflating what any
president would be able to do on the job creation front.

So, you know, you run across something like this and of course people
are going to jump on it because Romney himself has made job creation and
his ability to do that central to his entire candidacy.

SHARPTON: But, David, let`s be fair. He does care. He, Romney, has
some compassion in an interview with NBC, he showed how he cared by
promoting Romney care. Look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Don`t forget, I got everybody in my state assured 100 percent
of the kids in our state has health insurance. I don`t think there`s
anything that shows more empathy and care than the people of this country
than this kind of record.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, David, can you believe it, he is showing his
concern for people by bragging about Romney care, which is the basis of
Obama care, than he has been attacking and saying that he would turn
around, revoke right away. I mean, every time I think I`ve heard it all, I
hear some more.

CORN: The fact that he is finally embracing Romney care shows how
desperate he is. I mean, actually, it should have been a centerpiece of
his campaign from the beginning. I know people whose lives have been
changed and almost saved thanks to Romney care. It`s a marvelous program
that`s really worked quite well there. Yet, he hasn`t been able to talk
about it because he wanted to run it as the severely conservative candidate
and the base hates Romney care.
So, the fact that he`s talking about it, to show that he really does care
about people, tells you that he has to sort of, once again, reboot his
campaign for the 74th time.

But now I think given what he said on the 47 percent take, the
terminology that he uses on the harvesting tape, he really is battling
uphill. If he had been talking about Romney care from the beginning, he
would have had a harder time in the Republican primaries but people would
have believed that this was a guy who might indeed care about helping
others have a better life.

SHARPTON: But Michelle, isn`t that the point, if he had ran on Romney
care, he would not have probably won the nomination.

COTTLE: Absolutely not.

SHARPTON: And does that not only say, Michelle, that he would do and
adjust to whatever it takes to win, how do you then convince voters to
trust you if you build this image that you are just and change just to win?

COTTLE: Well, that`s what he got hit for a great deal during the
primaries by his conservative competitors. And then, we saw the etch-a-
sketch comments. And you know, basically what he should have done, is the
minute the primaries were over, he should have etch-a-sketch his rejection
of Romney care and embraced it then and it could had a lot more time to try
and work his way back to kind of being a moderate centrist guy, but he
didn`t. I think probably in part because he was well aware that people
were waiting to accuse him of flip-flopping. But now he`s in a sticky
position where he has got to do something to reach out to independents and
moderates and yet he has spent so much time doing this hard line, he`s kind
of trapped by his own ideological flip-floppery.

SHARPTON: Now David, I showed in the into, the new ad by the
president`s re-election campaign that is really devastating. They use the
47 percent that you and "Mother Jones" first surfaced and it`s caused a lot
of Republicans to even start doing a political moonwalk away from Romney.

GOP Nevada governor says about Romney`s 47 percent comment, quote, "I
don`t agree with it. There`s a lot of folks that I`m working extremely
hard to get them unemployment and until they are employed, there are many
services that are going to be needing."

This is Senator Sandoval of Nevada, a Republican. People are
understanding even in his own party how devastating this 47 percent tape
you surfaced is and the president has it on an ad.

CORN: People who conduct focus groups tell me that independent voters
learned very quickly on their own about the 47 percent remark and focus
groups said they brought it up on their own without being prompted and many
have said that`s reason enough for them to no longer consider voting for
Mitt Romney. And even some Republicans in the margin have had such similar
reactions.

Looking at what the Romney campaign has done the last few days and
that ad they put out was it yesterday or the day before, in which Romney
says, you know, the president is a good guy who cares about the poor and
middle class, just like I do. I just have better policies t. It shows you
that they have the exact same research. You know, you don`t with a month
out or a little more than a month out drastically change your strategy and
your approach and run ads praising the other guy unless you see
tremendously negative disappointing data. And so it`s just -- you know,
the video speaks for itself.

SHARPTON: I`m going to have to leave it there. The video does speak
for itself.

David Corn, Michelle Cottle, thank you for your time tonight.

CORN: Sure thing.

SHARPTON: And congratulations, again, Mr. Corn, on the tape.

Coming up, on the trail, the president keeps hammering away.

Plus --

((BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: You always hear a lot about patriotism. Well, you know what?
It`s time for a new economic patriotism. An economic patriotism rooted in
the belief that growing our economy begins with a strong and thriving
middle class.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Plus, from birthers to not understanding America, the
smears have been rejected but they have a new plan of attack. It`s not
subtle and it`s ugly. And Mitt Romney doesn`t want George W. Bush anywhere
near him. But going to the Cayman Islands to talk investments wasn`t what
he had in mind. The story of the day coming up.

All that, plus Samuel L. Jackson is reaching out to voters with an ad
you will want to see.

This is "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN, COMEDIAN: Mitt Romney, a weekend ,ago they were
ready to count the guy out and now he`s bounced back and he`s on a bus tour
in Ohio. He spent the entire day on the bus. And he has been working very
hard kissing babies and freeloaders. Babies and freeloaders.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Have you joined us on Facebook yet? The "Politics Nation"
conversation is going all day long. And today our fans had a lot to say
about the Romney harvesting comment.

Kalar says, he`s never been a job creator. He`s a profit harvester.

Our facebook family was also excited about the start of early voting
in Iowa today.

Anthony says, go Iowa. Let`s get this election going.

We have a lot more on that first swing state to vote a little later in
the program. We want to hear what you think, too. Head over to facebook
and search "Politics Nation" and like us to join the conversation going
long after the show ends.

COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: News flash, folks. We found a job Mitt Romney could be
just perfect at. He has the perfect resume and all of the right
credentials. How about Mitt Romney accountant in chief. Why? Because he
knows how to find every single loophole and exploit every tax break in the
books. And I think he should include this in his job application.

A new report shows Mitt Romney avoided paying big taxes on a trust
fund he set up on his children`s inheritance. He did it in by using a
complicated but legal special trust fund called, I dig it. I`m serious.
That`s what it`s called. I dig it.

Now, you may not dig it but governor Romney certainly did. Saving
hundreds and thousands of taxes according to Bloomberg. That`s the same
kind of creative accounting that allowed him to get a 14.1 percent tax
rate. And now his running mate says, it just doesn`t benefit Romney, it
actually benefits America.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This money creates
jobs so you`ll want to have more capital that goes to more businesses,
especially small businesses like this one so more people can go back to
work. That creates economic growth. Here we learned about Mitt Romney and
his tax returns, he is a successful businessman. That`s a good thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Ah, patriotism. This money creates jobs. Prove it. Show
me one job, just one, that was created by Romney paying less in taxes. The
truth is, governor, governor Romney`s tax policies are bad for America.
They are geared to the super rich. They help him and his wealthy friends.
And they hurt the middle class.

Joining me is Steve Kornacki, co-host of "the Cycle" here on MSNBC and
Joan Walsh, editor of salon.com and an MSNBC political analyst and author
of the new book, "what`s the matter with white people, why we long for
golden age that never was."

Thank you both, first, let me thank you both for being here tonight.

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

SHARPTON: Steve, is Romney running for the wrong job? Should he be
the accountant in chief?

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: Well, the thing with this is,
any politician who has to start answering questions over the height of
their campaign about taxes that is going to be a problem.

I think the bigger the problem Mitt Romney has had misses, it meshes
so perfectly with what Democrats and President Obama have been trying to
say about the Republican party in the Republican party`s priorities. The
idea is the protector of this sort of privileged pampered super elite
that`s been immune to the great recession, that`s enjoyed preferential tax
treatment, things like this.

Romney, when you start talking about a guy who pays such a low
effective tax rate, you know, he looks like the kind of person that the
Democrats say, the Republicans are trying to protect and the proof is in
the pudding because there was a poll that jumped out at me in Ohio. You
know, swing state and swing states. And they asked voters, do you think
the candidate Romney -- candidate Obama, you know, understand and care
about your problems?

For Obama the number is near 60 percent. For Romney it`s under 40. I
just think there is that basic -- the image that he conveys is makes it so
perfectly with what they are saying about the Republican party. It makes
it a very difficult for people to relate to him.

SHARPTON: Now, Joan, the president`s ad on Romney`s taxes, ever since
he released his tax returns, the Obama campaign has been highlighting how
unfair our tax policies are. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: In fact, Romney`s would cut taxes even more for millionaires
like himself and raise them in the middle class.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is crazy that Mitt Romney wants to get into
office and lower taxes from someone specifically like himself, where he has
a low enough tax rate, paying less a lower tax rate than the average
American.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, these kinds of ads showing the kind of gap between
what average Americans pay on a percentage basis than Romney than a
continual revolution of loopholes. These things, I`m sure, are a part of
why we are seeing him sink in the polls.

WALSH: Well, absolutely, Reverend Al. And if we can go back to I dig
it, for a minute, because I did talk. You know, that program lets him to
set up a trust for his children and his family. And at a time when middle
class families are worried and telling pollsters that they don`t believe
their children are going to do better than they did, that hallmark of the
American dream, it really rubs people to know that these are the strategy
that he uses to make sure his children are multimillionaires without
lifting a finger when their children cannot get jobs.

So in every way, it plays to what Steve referred to before, as this
kind of empathy gap where people really don`t believe that Mitt Romney can
understand them, that he wants to help them because he doesn`t think that
he knows them.

SHARPTON: Steve, on top of that, the economic policy institute has
come out with a study of Romney`s budget and they have actually concluded
that his budget kills jobs. A new study shows that Romney`s budget would
cause a net loss of 554,000 jobs by 2014.

KORNACKI: Yes. Well, you know, if fully implemented and now you have
one of his advisers that this week you got into a thing where he has sort
to put it out there, if the numbers don`t quite add up, maybe we`re not
going to see the kind of tax reductions that we were talking about, maybe
that 20 percent thing is a little flexible. Now, the campaign is saying
well, no, that`s not really the case.

You know, I mean the fact is, we have known for a long time that the
numbers don`t really add up. If you try to make them add up, there are
disastrous consequences. The flip side of that is Romney is out there
claiming well, if you elect me, you are going to get 12 million new jobs.
Of course, if you elect nobody, you are going to get 12 million new jobs
because the economy right now is on phase to create 12 million new jobs
over the next four years. There is sort of, you know, an empty promise
there as well.

But, the interesting thing to me is when you look at some of the other
polling that is coming out right now, there has been a real change in the
number of people who are willing to give Obama credit for where the economy
is right now, where it`s going. His approval rating on the economy, his
overall approval rating, I haven`t this high. It is consistently over 50
percent now. That`s a real --

SHARPTON: And he`s ahead of Romney. And the other thing, Joan, is
that the campaign of Mitt Romney planned on making this whole election a
referendum on the president. It seems like it`s a referendum on Romney and
more important than just Romney, what he represents.

See, I think this election is not just about two personalities, two
candidates, but it`s two colliding ideas in this country. One built on
building the rich and making them more profitable and trickling down the
rest of us that seems to have ride, where they say it`s coming and those
that believe in a country that really is there for the average American.

WALSH: And the government --

SHARPTON: That`s what this is about.

WALSH: Right. The government is either going to help the top one
percent in the hopes that things will trickle down or government is going
to build the middle class like it did in the `40, `50s, and `60s when we
have a really prosperous economy. Another interesting thing happened,
Reverend Al, which is that a new study found that we can finally say for
the first time that Barack Obama has created net jobs in this term.

SHARPTON: Right.

WALSH: So the same day we find out that the Romney plan is going to
cost us jobs, we see that President Obama, even though when he took office
we were lose being $750,000 --

SHARPTON: Which they tried to put on him.

WALSH: Which they tried to put on him, even with those horrible jobs
he created a net gain.

SHARPTON: There goes another topping point of the Republicans.

Joan Walsh, Steve Kornacki, thank you for your time tonight.

And don`t miss Steve on "the Cycle" airing Monday to through Friday at
3:00 p.m. right here on MSNBC.

Ahead, they said our president wasn`t born in America. They said he
apologizes for America. Now they have a new smear. It reeks of
desperation.

And Bill Clinton is talking about being president again. Just not
here. Stay with us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: I don`t get it, folks. How could Romney
be behind? He`s so popular that his fans are releasing bootlegs of his
speeches.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`ve seen a lot of former President Bill Clinton this
month and sometimes it seems like he`s missing his old job. But since we
have term limits here in the U.S., he started joking about exploring other
options.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. PRES. BILL CLINTON (D), UNITED STATES: I could run for president
of Ireland because of my Irish heritage and because I was born in Arkansas,
which is part of the Louisiana purchase, any person, anywhere in the world
that was born in a place that ever was part of the French empire, if you
move -- if you live in France for six months and speak French, you can run
for president there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Ooh-la-la, another shot at the presidency. But wait,
President Clinton shouldn`t pop the champagne just yet, several news outlet
point out that the French rules have changed and he needs to live there for
five years to gain citizenship and run for president. The rules are
stricter than he thought in Ireland, too. But word is out across the
Atlantic that President Clinton might be job hunting and if Clinton gets a
friendly reception in France, he might have to give some hope to another
politician who may be looking for a job come November and this guy already
speaks the language.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. GOV. MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Bon jour.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Keep on polishing up your accent, Governor Romney. We can
practice saying, Au Revoir together.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`ve talked a lot on this show about the ugly attacks from
the right and just look at all they have done to try to smear the
President. They have said he wasn`t born in America, that he apologizes
for America, that he doesn`t understand American capitalism. They`ve
compared him to Nazis, said he`ll accepts Sharia law. Call him a false
president. And all of it has been clearly and strongly rejected.

So, of course, now they have a new plan. They are saying President
Obama is a liar. Yes, this is their big idea. Karl Rove writes an op-ed
on the Wall Street Journal titles, "Obama`s biggest opponent is the truth."
Quote, "Every day it seems he attempts to disqualify his opponent through
deliberate and undeniable falsehoods." He goes on to advice Romney for the
debates, quote, "Romney must call out the president." You almost can`t
believe this. You almost can`t believe they`ll say this with a straight
face.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: The President tends to, how shall I say it, say things that
aren`t true and in attacking his opponents, I`ve looked in prior debates
and in that kind of case it`s difficult to say, well, I`m not going to
spend my time correcting things that aren`t accurate or am I going to spend
my time talking about the things I want to talk about?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Let me get this straight. The campaign that doesn`t
believe in fact checkers is talking about the truth. They can`t run on the
ideas, they can`t run on their record. All they can do is this?

Joining me now is Joe Madison, nationally syndicated radio host of
"MORNINGS WITH MADISON," and Alicia Menendez, host and producer for
HuffPost Live. Thank you both for being here tonight.

JOE MADISON, HOST, "MORNINGS WITH MADISON": Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Joe, first he was born in Kenya, then he didn`t understand
American, now they are calling him a liar. That`s what they`ve got?

MADISON: And coming from an individual who has said to America and
whose campaign and surrogates have said, we don`t care about facts. We
don`t care about facts. I mean, you know, this President Reverend Sharpton
has been fact checked for the last, what, almost last four years. I
believe that fact checking was created just for President Obama. And so, I
hope he does decide to spend his time correcting him because, quite
honestly, most people know what an incumbent president has or has not done
and what people want from a challenger is what are you going to do that
will be better?

SHARPTON: Right.

MADISON: Well, Alicia, is the strategy here that they want to have
Romney act as though the president lies so much and is full of falsehoods
that if he does well in the debates, you really can`t trust what he is
saying, therefore, he`s not doing well and to give Romney a way of
aggressively going after the President, so he doesn`t have to deal with
specific policy things that can be taken apart by the President?

ALICIA MENENDEZ, HOST AND PRODUCER, "HUFFPOST LIVE": Yes and yes. He
is dealing with the Joe Wilson`s school of debate, prop over there,
something we`ve seen from Romney before. He tries to neutralize his own
weaknesses by turning them against President Obama. What I find so curious
about them being so clear and so public about the strategy is how much time
it gives the Obama campaign to prepare and to jujitsu it.

I mean, now Obama can go into that debate ready to talk about the many
lies and misspeaks of the Romney campaign, whether that be the
mischaracterization of Obama`s Medicare policy or whether that be Paul
Ryan`s erroneous assertion that it was Obama who killed Simpson/Bowles.
So, I think Obama is going to come in and I think he`s going to be able to
say, you know what, let`s do not this, Mitt. Let`s not point fingers at
one another. Let`s rise above it and each tell the American people what we
are capable of.

SHARPTON: Well, let me ask you this, Alicia, because we just had NBC
Wall Street Journal Marist poll just release new figures. President is up
by seven points in New Hampshire, up by two points in Nevada, up by two
points in North Carolina. And in a poll released yesterday, up ten points
in Ohio, nine points in Florida. Up by 12 points in Pennsylvania. Is this
why we are seeing these desperate measures now? Clean across the board,
every poll is saying he`s up, up, up.

MENENDEZ: Yes. He`s up and it`s because the various strategies of
the Romney campaign have failed to work. If you remember, initially they
were running against a bad Barack Obama who wasn`t a good guy and then he
became a good guy who was just a little in over his head and couldn`t get
the economy back on track and now they are trying to make him a dishonest
guy. They have seen that there are other strategies have not worked.
They`ve seen that even just their basic economic attack on him is not
enough to rise above with voters, and so they are going to try to create
confusion and division within the electorate as their only path to victory.

SHARPTON: Now, Joe, when you read the op-ed piece by Karl Rove, he
advises Romney to call the president out but he`s very exact in how he
ought to do it. He says, Mr. Romney can`t call Mr. Obama a liar. That`s
too harsh a word that might backfire, that would backfire. Mr. Romney must
instead set the record straight in a presidential tone, firm, respectful,
but not differential. And a dash of humor is worth its weight in gold.

MADISON: Yes, what they are going to go for is the old Reagan thing,
show me -- you know, what was it, there you go again. And that`s what they
are going to go for except if I were President Obama, I would come back and
say, excuse me, you`re not Ronald Reagan and I knew Ronald Reagan. I mean,
you know, it`s absolutely crazy. Today, we`re going to have an NFL
football game. Can you imagine the opposing team giving the other team the
playbook?

I mean, he doesn`t have that many plays in the book to begin with and
now here your advisers are, in essence, giving the Obama administration --
giving the Obama debate team the play that they are going to run as if
this president isn`t going to be prepared to counter anything. I don`t
know what kind of campaign they are running but the last thing I would do
is publicize my strategy in the first debate.

MENENDEZ: I think you`re right.

SHARPTON: Well, Alicia, the only thing I think more alarming about
publishing your strategy in the first debate before the debate is that they
are going at what has been a weak point of Mr. Romney. I mean, just this
week he`s had to defend himself against accusation that he`s been fast and
loose with facts. Look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: We`ve been absolutely spot on and any time there`s been
anything amiss, we correct it or remove it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So, the fact that the media has called him on things that
seem to be full of falsehoods, the irony here is that you`re going to use
that as your strategy?

MENENDEZ: Right. And I think it`s the only thing they have left that
they believe they can put the Obama campaign back on the defensive. I
agree with Joe. It`s surprising that they are putting this forward and it
has to be because in doing so, they are now forcing the media to ask those
questions. You know, to fact check President Obama, to write these stories
about how Romney`s going to call him a liar, which then sort of deluge into
a -- that can ultimately take over.

Because right now Romney doesn`t have any other cards to play.
They`ve played every other cards in their hands, and so the last thing they
can do is make Americans believe that when Barack Obama talks about the
successes of the last four years, that he is simply lying.

SHARPTON: Well, don`t say he doesn`t have any more cards because
there may be some more tapes on Romney at the rate he`s going. Joe
Madison, Alicia Menendez, thanks for your time tonight.

MENENDEZ: Thanks, Rev.

MADISON: Thank you, Reverend. Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, he`s been in hiding from the Romney campaign but
when they told George W. Bush to go away, they probably didn`t mean go to
the Cayman Islands for an investment conference.

And hundreds and thousands voting today in Iowa. It`s a big day for
this election. Stay with us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, U.S. FIRST LADY: This is the movement of our era.
Protecting that fundamental right, not just for this election but for the
next generation and generations to come.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: George W. Bush is heading to the Cayman Islands of an
investment conference a week before the election. Maybe he`ll check on
some on those Romney investments while he`s there. On that, that`s next.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: We`re back on POLITICS NATION. Have you guys ever heard of
the onion? It`s a newspaper that does these hysterical stories. Check out
some of the headlines. "You did great. Terrified personal assistant tells
Clint Eastwood."

And another says, "Romney accidentally introduces his family members
by their annual incomes instead of their names."

And get a load of this, "George W. Bush to key note Cayman Islands
investment conference."

Wait a second. Come on. You can`t be serious. I`m hearing this is
not an onion headline? It`s not a joke? It`s real? George Bush with be
an investment conference speaker in the Cayman Islands the week before the
election, the week before the famous Cayman Islands invest to Mitt Romney
runs for office. No. This is not an onion article but the Bush/Romney
relationship has certainly seems like one.

Bush endorse Romney as the doors of an elevator closes on him, but
what is not funny is that Governor Romney wants to return to the same
failed Bush policies, the same wrong way economic theories and Bush will
remind America about that one week before the election when he visits Mr.
Romney`s money in the Caymans.

Joining me now, Wayne Slater, senior political reporter from the
Dallas Morning News. Wayne, thank you for coming on the show tonight.

WAYNE SLATER, DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Great to be with you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Bush heading to the Caymans, what do you think of Mitt
Romney said when he read about this today?

SLATER: Well, it`s funny you say, it doesn`t sound like an onion
headline, you wonder what is next. Is it President Bush`s dog Barney does
a public service announcement warning against hauling your dog on the top
of your car. This is something that Romney and his people do not want
voters to be reminded of, that he has millions of dollars through the tax
havens, including the Cayman Islands.

And here`s the former president showing up, reminding voters and not
only is he showing up in the Cayman Islands as a remind deer, but he`s
going to be talking to exactly the same kinds of people who were
deregulated during the Bush years and who got us, attributed to getting us
in this big mess at the time. This is absolutely awkward, let`s say, is
too kind of a word for the Romney campaign five days before the election.

SHARPTON: No, you couldn`t make this up. But let`s talk about the
Bush/Romney relationship a minute. National reviews editorial board argues
in an op-ed today that Romney should address Bush, not ignore him. It
says, quote, "What Romney has not done is address the major problem he has
in making the case, the shadow of the George W. Bush years." It has next
to nothing to say about what Bush era Republicans got wrong. The result is
that Romney appears to be saying that everything was going swimmingly until
Obama came along."

SLATER: Yes, and voters don`t believe that. Voters I would uphold
show, think that George W. Bush deserves a sizeable part of the
responsibility for the leaving a box of rocks for President Obama when he
came into office. And so, I think that`s exactly right. But not only is
it the right thing to do but politically, strategically it would have been
a smart thing to do because Romney doesn`t like to talk about a lot of
things, his taxes, his religion, and in this case, George W. Bush and the
predecessor in the White House. If, in fact, Romney talked and had talked
more about Bush, even being critical of President Bush, then I think he
would have plotted with much of his base.

SHARPTON: Right.

SLATER: If you talk to conservative Republicans these days, they say
they are not happy with George Bush and I think Romney would have resonated
with him had he talked about it.

SHARPTON: Now, it`s no wonder he really can`t answer that because
his policies are just like Bush. Seventeen of his 24 foreign advisers
served under Bush, he`s top two economic advisers served under Bush and RNC
official is quoted and saying, Romney`s economic policies are the Bush plan
just updated. How do you answer that?

SLATER: Yes. It is. I mean, it really is. A former Bush
speechwriter told me that in fact the Romney administration would be the
third term of a Bush presidency. And you look at it not simply on the
fiscal policies and certainly what he`s talked about publicly in terms of
cutting taxes, deregulation, and so forth, sounds an awful lot like the
kinds of things that the Bush administration was doing, that contributed to
our current economic woes. But also, if you look at the foreign policy
folks, there is a very strong neo-conservative element in there. And so,
if you want, I guess the third term of George W. Bush, Reverend, I think
you`re right. This is the group that would bring it to you.

Now, you know, George Bush is a very, very knowledgeable politician.
He`s elected to the presidency governor of Texas. What is he doing here?
I mean, he knows the inference of going to a conference in the Cayman
Island of investment guys, a week before the election. What is he doing
here to Romney?

SLATER: I mean, you`re right. He is smart, he`s very, very
politically savvy. The truth us, George Bush, I think, doesn`t really
care. He`s doing what many presidents, x-presidents do. You make a lot of
money at these kinds of speeches and frankly there`s no love lost between
Bush himself, and Romney and George Bush did not simply go to the
Republican National Convention in Tampa. The Romney people did not want
him to go, did not want voters recommended, and in a weird way this is
George Bush saying, fine, you don`t want me there, I`m going to show up in
the Caymans five days before the election.

SHARPTON: Well, Bush`s revenge. Maybe I`ll have more on POLITICS
NATION live from the Caymans. Wayne Slater, thanks for your time this
evening.

Early voting kicked off in Iowa today but millions across the country
are being suppressed. The fight continues, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Finally tonight, it`s on. This was the scene in Des
Moines, Iowa today as early in present voting got under way. Hundreds of
thousands came out. Lines stretched down the block before polls even
opened. Iowa is the first swing state to hold in person early voting. And
by the end of the weekend, 30 states will be choosing their next president
already. The L.A. Times reports more than 45 million Americans will take
advantage of early voting, a record turnout. First Lady Michelle Obama
tweeted, get out the vote called today. She recently spoke about the right
to vote.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA: We cannot let anyone discourage us from casting our
ballots. We cannot let anyone let us feel unwell in the voting booth. It
is up to us to make sure that in every election, every voice is heard and
every vote is counted. That means making sure our laws preserve that
right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Making sure our laws preserve that right. That got me
thinking. You know, what`s most interesting about these speeches, nothing
is stopping these people from voting. Iowa doesn`t have any voter ID laws
on the books. This is how democracy works. Everyone can freely exercise
their right to vote. But as we`ve been reporting over the last two years,
17 states have passed restrictive voting laws that could suppress millions
of Americans. So, we can`t think that this election is in the bag.
There`s too much at stake.

We can`t sit at home and depend on others. We`ve got to come out.
We`ve come too far to stop fighting now. Voting isn`t a privilege. It`s a
right. A right that people suffered and died for, we fought too hard for
this right. We are not about to let anyone take it away, no matter which
way the polls go, this is not just about your candidate or mine, this is
about America deciding whether it`s going to be a nation for the few at the
top or a nation for everyone. Let history say, you showed up and recorded
what side you`re on.

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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