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PoliticsNation, Friday, September 28th, 2012

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POLITICS NATION
September 28, 2012

Guests: Dana Milbank; Erin McPike, Michael Isikoff, Melissa Harris-Perry, Karen Finney, E.J. Dionne


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

Tonight`s lead, can we predict who will win the election? And to help
answer the question, I want to introduce fake governor Romney and fake
President Obama.

Welcome to "Politics Nation" and great to see you.

Folks, 39 days till the election and there`s one way to predict who
will win that really does seem to work. It turns out, the sale of
presidential Halloween masks are actually a great way to know who`s going
to win. In fact, in the past four elections, Halloween masks have
determined by their sales they accurately predicted the winner. And guess
who is selling more this year? That`s right. President Obama masks are
out selling Mitt Romney`s masks by nearly 40 percent. Congratulations, Mr.
President.

When you think about it, Mitt Romney`s been hiding behind a mask this
entire election. A mask he only takes off in quiet rooms, behind closed
doors, when he`s talking to wealthy donors. But voters don`t seem to like
it much.

And a new FOX News poll, yes, FOX News poll, shows Romney trailing
nationally by five points. And get this, he has a lower favorable rating
than George W. Bush. Don`t adjust your TV set. Mr. Romney is less liked
than Bush. Huh? Maybe that`s something to do with the fact that he can`t
seem to answer basic questions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Sir, how was that call with Netanyahu?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Did you talk about your next lunch that
you might be having down the road?

ROMNEY: Guys -- it`s just -- all we`ve got here is beef jerky? Who
here wants a piece of beef jerky? That`s all I`ve got.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: How are you feeling about the debates?

ROMNEY: This was given to us by Jack Link.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: What do you have planned for the weekend?

ROMNEY: Anyone else?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Governor Romney, they were asking about the debates, about
the Israeli prime minister, not about beef jerky. Now, Romney did answer
questions from reporters later. But this is what he`s done issue after
issue, dodge questions and hide behind the mask.

But I`ve got news for Mr. Romney. The Obama campaign is hammering
home who the real Romney is and what he stands for. He is a candidate who
has no problem writing off the country, something that this president
refuses to do.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m not fighting to
create Democrat or Republican jobs, I`m creating jobs. I`m not fighting to
improve schools in blue state or red states. I`m fighting to improve
schools in the United States of America. I`m not fighting on behalf of
rich values or poor values or 47 percent value, the 53 percent values. I`m
fighting for American values.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He is fighting for American values, not values of 53
percent. But the other candidate, the man behind the mask, he is offering
us a budget that takes care of the rich but leaves everyone else in the
dust.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Show me your budget.
I`ll tell you what you`ve got. Let`s take a look at their budget. Why are
they doing it? Well, they are doing it because they have to. And here`s
the reason they have to. They cannot possibly, cannot possibly continue
and add to the tax cuts of the super wealthy unless they eviscerate the
rest of the budget.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That`s what is behind the Romney mask. That`s what voters
are running away from. And that`s what the next 39 days to the election
are all about. And a special thank you to our fake president and Mitt
Romney for helping us to predict this election.

Joining me now unmasked is Krystal Ball, co-host of "the Cycle" on
MSNBC and Dana Milbank, columnist for "the Washington Post."

Thank you both for being here this evening.

DANA MILBANK, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Hi, Reverend.

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

SHARPTON: Krystal, let me start with you. Romney is falling behind
not because he`s a bad candidate. Are voters rejecting his ideas as well?

BALL: Absolutely. And as much as he`s tried to hide behind the mask,
Democrats have been happy to fill in exactly what he stands for and what
he`s been saying in this election and I think he really sealed his fate.
The 47 percent video; that was the nail in the coffin. But really, he
sealed his fate long ago when he was supporting things like personhood,
which is such an extreme piece of legislation that it was actually -- it
actually failed in Mississippi, the most pro life state in the country,
focusing on things like self deportation, supporting the Paul Ryan budget,
calling it marvelous, voucher rising Medicare. These are all wildly
unpopular policies that he has stood for. And he may not be willing to
talk about those ideas in the America people, but the Democrats are happy
to fill in those details. And I think you are absolutely right. It is his
ideas at the core that are losing here.

SHARPTON: No. I see, I think Dana, aside from the politics and the
polls, and we`ll go through some of those numbers, I think that when
Americans hear the choices of the perspective and world view, the big
picture view of each candidate, they begin making basic decisions. The
reason that 47 percent tape I think was so powerful against Romney is it
gave a world view of how he sees the country.

MILBANK: Right.

SHARPTON: And I think that`s why we started seeing a whole shift in
these polls.

MILBANK: Yes, I think that`s right, Reverend. The mask thing by
itself is not just positive because we have to remember that there were
more George W. Bush masks sold in 2000 and Al Gore actually won that
election. So I`m not sure that we can be entirely sure on that one. But
it is one kernel there and I think what you are seeing here, you know,
certainly in this town, everybody, I think prematurely assumes that the
election is over.

But, there are a lot of things pointing in Obama`s direction
particularly in the swing states. What`s different about those swing
states? Well, that`s where people are actually focused the most because
they are seeing the ads, they are seeing the candidates, they are hearing
the messages. So, I suspect what is going on there is they are hearing
Mitt Romney`s message and he is not as attractive in there as he would
otherwise be if had just some theoretical Republican candidate out there.
So, the contrast where it`s being drawn the most firmly is working to
Obama`s favor.

SHARPTON: And I rarely get to correct Dana Milbank, but I would beg
to argue that Bush sold less masks, you forgot the hanging masks of 2008.

MILBANK: I was counting the Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader masks.

SHARPTON: Right.

MILBANK: It is confusing.

SHARPTON: They were hanging mask, though. But --

(LAUGHTER)

SHARPTON: Krystal, let me come back to you. Let`s look at some of
the poll numbers, though, where the ideas are driving these numbers, I
believe.

President Obama leads Romney in swing state polls of NBC news polls
show him up seven points in New Hampshire, even though Mr. Romney has a
home in New Hampshire. He is up two points in Nevada. He is up two points
in North Carolina. Then comes up on top of other polls, like he is up ten
points in Ohio, 10 points. No Republican has won without Idaho. Up nine
points in Florida. Up 12 points in Pennsylvania.

BALL: Yes.

SHARPTON: So, these are very solid numbers even with no matter how
you try and do the margin of error, he is up.

BALL: That is right. The president is up in basically every swing
state that you can look out, including ones like North Carolina that he won
very narrowly in 2008. And if you look in Ohio and Pennsylvania as you
were pointing out, the lead is particularly dramatic. And I think that is
- that is driven by the fact that Mitt Romney is such a poor candidate for
the Roosevelt, really, because he sent job overseas. He has worked at Bain
Capital directly impacted people there.

And also another thing I point to in Ohio in particular, he was forced
to come out and support the anti-union SB-5 ballot initiative in Ohio
during the primary campaign. And I think that left a negative taste in
voters` mouths in Ohio as well. So, I think that is why those regions are
such outliers even with President Obama leading across the country.

SHARPTON: And SB-5 was defeated?

BALL: That`s right. Soundly.

SHARPTON: Bow Dana, the fact that these poll numbers are all going
against Mr. Romney, you wouldn`t -- you couldn`t tell by talking to
governor Romney after campaigning the last two days. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: It is an honor to be here with you and to be here with these
cadets and to be at this extraordinary place that so many presidents past
have visited and well, a president future is visiting today.

And when I become president of the United States, I`m going to win
Pennsylvania and I`m going to become the next president of the United
States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, you know, all candidates say that but isn`t that naive
when you`re 12 points behind in Pennsylvania to be saying that?

MILBANK: Yes. He`s not going to win Pennsylvania any more than he is
going to win California or New York. But, of course, he says that sort of
thing. I was at his event in Virginia and he said, if I become president -
- and then he said, when I become president.

That`s what you have to do. If he starts to say well, I don`t know if
I can do this, then, it is becomes a stampede. What you have got to look at
these blind quotes now, the unnamed quotes coming from people on his
campaign staff and they are really murderous things that they are say.
Well, you know, he would be a great chief executive. He would be a
commander in chief.

He is just a lousy candidate. So, you already see his own people sort
getting their distance from him. I think that`s more indicative of where
they think this is going than any other individual poll.

SHARPTON: Let me show you something very interesting, Krystal. If
you look at -- I`m going to give you an example of how his message is
really not resonating.

Look at this graphic about the most watched You Tube videos. All
right? President Obama`s DNC speech, 4.9 million people went to.
Clinton`s DNC speech, 3.95 million went to. Romney`s 47 percent video, the
leaked video, 47 percent, 3.4 million people went to it. Clint Eastwood`s
speech with the empty chair, 3.2 million. Michelle Obama`s DNC speech, 3.2
million. Romney`s RNC speech, 1.1 million.

BALL: That`s pretty unbelievable chart right there. When you`re
losing to Clint Eastwood`s empty chair speech by 2.1 million people, that`s
unreal.

SHARPTON: When you do a video of you talking about 47 percent by 2.3
million.

BALL: That`s unreal. And I mean, I think you hit on something very
key here, which is when people watch that 47 percent video, they have been
trying to get a sense, who is this man really? He has been all over the
board. He was the moderate governor of Massachusetts. Now he is spouting
these tea party talking points. Who is he really? And when they saw that
video, they said, this is the guy, this is who he is at his core and we
don`t like it.

SHARPTON: Well, Krystal Ball and Dana Milbank, thank you for your
time and have a good weekend.

And be sure to catch Krystal on the "the cycle," weekdays at 3:00 p.m.
Eastern right here on MSNBC.

Coming up, the real voter fraud in America is coming from the
Republicans. A GOP operative is being investigated for hundreds of cases
of potential fraud, including registering dead people to vote as
Republicans.

Plus, weak tea. The tea party is down and out. Does this mean the
right will finally actually try to get something done?

And Mitt Romney`s campaign is off course and sinking fast. And
Republicans are starting to jump ship.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republican insiders say that the Romney campaign
should not hamper Paul Ryan and let Ryan be Ryan. No, I think if
Republican insiders had their way, they might let Ryan beat Romney.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Folks, have you checked us out on facebook? The "Politics
Nation" conversation is going all day long. Today`s hot topic was the
right wing voter fraud coming out of Florida.

Tammi says, they accuse the Democrats of shenanigans when they are the
ones up to no good.

And Dana says, nice try Republicans, but we gotcha. Nice one, Dana.

We`ve got the full report on that fraud, by the way, coming up next.

But, first, we want to hear what you think. 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: Tonight, I`d like to introduce you to the HMS Romney.
That`s right, the HMS Romney was actually a real ship. The British sent it
to Boston harbor in 1768 to make sure the colonists paid enough in taxes.
Can you believe it? The HMS Romney was sent to make sure people paid
enough in taxes. Ironic, isn`t it?

Almost 250 years later there`s a new HMS Romney on the high seas. This
one, is of course, taking on water and those on board are not quite sure
what the captain is up to or even why he`s the captain.

Here`s what ultra rich Republican Bill Marriott of the Marriott hotel
chain said last night about why his good friend Mitt should guide our ship
of state.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL MARRIOTT, ROMNEY SUPPORTER: Both Mitt and I have vacation places
up in New Hampshire on Lake Winnipesaukee. A few summers ago, I was taking
my grandchildren and children to town in the boat for ice cream. And we
got into the dock and they were all full and we looked around and there was
no place to park. I finally found a place to park after about 20 minutes
and pulled in. I said, who is going to grab the rope and I looked up and
there was Mitt Romney. So, he pulled me in. He tied up the boat for me.
He rescued me just as he is going to rescue this great country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Mitt Romney helped a rich buddy park his late yacht and
that`s why he should be president? This campaign has lost touch with
reality and it`s no wonder Republicans are jumping ship.

Today, "Politico" reports that Republicans are blaming Romney himself
for the failing and flailing campaign saying, in the end, it`s Mitt. Look
out below, Republicans are jumping over board faster than you can say HMS
Romney.

Joining me now is Erin McPike, national political reporter for "Real
Clear Politics" and Jonathan Capehart, opinion writer for "the Washington
Post" and an MSNBC contributor.

Thanks to both of you for being here tonight.

ERIN MCPIKE, POLITICAL REPORTER, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Thank you.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, OPINION WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Jonathan, if Romney doesn`t make a change, are we going to
see more and more Republicans jumping ship, in your opinion?

CAPEHART: Sure. We have been listening to and watching Republicans
express concern about Mitt Romney since he became -- since before he became
the nominee. He wasn`t conservative enough. His ideas weren`t
conservative enough. Once he got the nomination, those concerns started
becoming louder and louder and ever since Charlotte, since conventions were
done and since President Obama shot out of Charlotte with the convention
bounds, the alarms have been ringing louder and louder by (INAUDIBLE) of,
you know, conservatives.

Peggy Noonan, Rich Lowry, Bill Kristol, all of these folks expressing
extreme concern about this candidate and where he`s taking the party and
where he`s taking the conservative movement. So, I think if things keep
going the way they are going, I think you can hit that fog horn button a
few more times and a few more splashes will happen.

SHARPTON: Now, Erin, we`re also hearing leading Republicans and
saying things "Politico" reported that Republicans are losing faith in
Romney`s ability to win. One high ranking Romney campaign official called
him quote, a lousy candidate and Republicans repeatedly call Romney too
rich to care. One Romney donor even tells "Politico," he`s missing the
normal guy gene. I mean, these are Republicans and people in his campaign,
Erin.

MCPIKE: Sure. But as Jonathan noted, people have been making this
criticism of Romney all year, going back to the New Hampshire primary when
he said, I like to fire people. I mean, this is something that has gotten
increasingly worse for Mitt Romney because he wasn`t been able to change
how he is. I mean, that is always going to be a problem for him.
Absolutely.

SHARPTON: Well, it`s going to be a continuing problem because,
Jonathan, Charlie Cook wrote today in the national journal that unless Mitt
Romney does something to change his campaign in the next 10 days, GOP
donors may abandon him like they did Bob Dole in 1996.

I`m reading what Charlie Cook wrote. Quote, "Romney faces the very
real prospect that Republican donors super PACs and other parts of the GOP
support structure will begin to shift resources away from helping him and
towards a last-ditch effort to win a senate majority and to protect the
party`s house majority.

CAPEHART: Yes. The problem that Mitt Romney has, he now has less
than 40 days to turn this thing around. This is a man who has been running
for president for six years and now it boils down to 40 days, three
debates, one more if you include the vice presidential debate to try to
convince the American people who are now really paying attention that he is
the person to replace President Obama in office.

And it just doesn`t seem like that it is working. Again, we have got
40 day, less than 40 day. So anything can happen. After all, this is
politics. But it seems highly unlikely.

SHARPTON: Now, Erin, but at the same time, isn`t it a little kind of
cynical for some of the Republicans to act like it`s just Romney and not
the ideas and the policies of the Republicans? Because I`m starting to see
a strategy here of sacrifice Romney but it`s not our ideas, it`s not our
policies, it`s just that he`s a bad candidate. Is it in many ways
reflected -- is it not in many ways reflected by the polls, that is, both
of the ideas are being rejected by a lot of Americans?

MCPIKE: Well, if you talk to strategists who are running some of the
Republican campaigns for Senate, let`s say, what they are saying is they
want to find a way to run ahead of Mitt Romney because they do think the
campaign has not been run very well and he`s not going to provide them with
good coattails.

They are making their own arguments and it is possible what you are
saying is true, certainly. But we will have to see how these Senate
candidates do. If they do run better than Mitt Romney, then that tells you
there is something wrong with the candidate, and not necessarily the
Republican Party. Although, it is clear that they have shifted far to the
right and that will affect the turnout in the swing states that have very
diverse demographic groups.

SHARPTON: But Jonathan, when we look at the polling on tax cuts for
the rich and who is doing better with the economy and all sorts of social
issues that they have raised, these on issues, independent candidates, they
are losing on the issues. They are losing on the big picture policy items.

CAPEHART: Right. Look, you`re talking about a Republican party, as
Erin said, that has swung so far to the right that, you know, even if Mitt
Romney tried to pivot to the middle, he would still be far and to the
right. These are ideas that are radical, even, and the American people
have shown time and time again that this is not what they want.

Paul Ryan got booed at the AARP because of what he`s proposed for
appealing Obama care and his own budget, I think, if they knew all of the
things in it they would continue to boo. As someone said on the previous
show, you know, the personhood amendment, or maybe it was Krystal, the
personhood amendment went down in Mississippi, one of the most conservative
-- probably the most conservative state in the union. This is a
conservative idea that has been pushed and rejected.

SHARPTON: That`s why it`s just beyond the individual candidate,
though they are going to try to just dump it all on Romney, I think.

Thank you both. I would have to leave it there.

But before we go, if you just want to happen to know what happened to
the first HMS Romney, the ship ran aground in 1804 after losing its way in
some thick fog. I wonder if this Romney will suffer a similar fate.

Jonathan Capehart, Erin McPike. Thank you both for your time. Have a
great weekend.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Rev, you, too.

MCPIKE: Thank you.

SHARPTON: So, it turns out there is voter fraud in America. What is
being done by Republicans? New investigations against the GOP operative
working in four states, including Florida.

But, first, we have the 411 on the right wing`s bogus complaint about
Obama phones.

Stay with us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are clamoring for more taxes from the
Romney campaign. Today the Romney campaign had this to say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good news, America. Mitt Romney recognizes that
voters want additional information about the Republican nominee`s past. So
today, he is releasing his last ten years of taxidermy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: I know it`s crazy. We`ve got their number so let`s call
them on it. Definitely, but no, no, no no, maybe -- oh, hello. I didn`t
notice you were there. I was talking with a friend about the latest phony
attack on the president. Some Republicans are saying he`s giving away free
cell phones to get votes. The Drudge report posted this headline about a
woman saying, she got a free phone from the President. Rush Limbaugh
quickly picked up the line.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Voting for Obama is not about
hard work. Go talk to the cell phone lady. Voting for Obama`s not about
hard work. It`s about just the opposite.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The right wings all dialed in on their latest 47 percent
talking point. Too bad the facts can`t get through. There is a national
program to help low-income people get subsidized phone services. But they
aren`t Obama phones. The idea of getting universal phone service dates
back to the 1930s, decades before the President Obama was born. The
current program that helps poor people get phones started under President
Reagan. When did it begin including cell phones? In 2008. That`s right.
Under President Bush.

So a policy dating back to the great depression, formalized by
President Reagan and expanded by President Bush is somehow President
Obama`s fault? Did the right wing think I wouldn`t give viewers the 411 on
this? Nice try. But we`ve got you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The election is on. Voters in 30 states are already
choosing their next president. These are voters today in Iowa.
Republicans have been pushing the idea that there`s a huge problem with
voter fraud in this country. There`s not. But now we`re getting troubling
reports of voter fraud committed by Republicans.

Joining me to help explain those allegations is Michael Isikoff, NBC
News national investigative correspondent. Thanks for being here, Michael.

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, NBC NEWS: Good to be with you.

SHARPTON: Now, the Republican National Committee hired a firm to
register voters. Then what happened?

ISIKOFF: Well, that`s right. Strategic Allied Consulting is the name
of the firm, it`s run by a veteran republican operative out of Arizona,
Nathan Sproul and it was paid over $3 million to register republican voters
in five battleground states. The problem began in Palm Beach County, of
all places, a home of the hanging champ.

SHARPTON: Right.

ISIKOFF: When the election supervisor spotted 106 suspicious forms
that were submitted by one of the firm`s employees. These included similar
signatures on the registration forms. In other words, they all looked
alike, like one person had signed them. Others had home addresses that
links to a show gas station in Miami, a land rover dealership in West Palm
Beach. A medical office building in Voca (ph). She reported this to the
Palm Beach state attorney`s office which slashed the criminal investigation
into a who prepared this form, who signed them.

At the same time, there are at least seven other counties that have
reported similarities sorts of irregularities on forms submitted by
employees throughout this one firm. I`ve confirmed today, this Florida
Secretary of State`s office has asked for a statewide criminal inquiry into
the firm by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The Republican
National Committee in damage control has fired the firm across the country
and the Florida Department, the Florida Republican Party has submitted its
own complaint against the firm to the Secretary of State`s office.

I have talked to Nathan Sproul. He says, he`s the victim here. It
was bad apples who he had hired, he had hired over 5,000 workers to
register voters across the country but I think some people are asking
questions where there was certain oversight that should have been done by
both the firm and the Republican Party in Florida and perhaps the RNC as
well as to how the firm was conducting the business.

SHARPTON: Now, how possible is it that the GOP knew something was
going on?

ISIKOFF: Well, look, I mean, there`s no evidence of that. We do know
that Sproul has had a somewhat controversial past. He`s been accused of
election irregularities going back to 2004 when Democrats accused him of
throwing away registration forms of voter suppression. There were
investigations. No charges were files -- no criminal charges were filed
against him but it is interesting that Sproul has said that the strategic
allied consulting was only formed in June, that it was formed under this
different name, a new name, so that Democrats and the media would not raise
questions tying it back to him and make issues of the controversies that
have surrounded him in the past.

SHARPTON: Right.

ISIKOFF: So there was a little bit of subterfuge in the formation of
the firm.

SHARPTON: Very, very interesting. Michael Isikoff, thanks for your
time tonight.

ISIKOFF: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Now, speaking about republican voter fraud in Florida, I
had Jim Greer, the Florida chair of the Florida Republican Party, the
former Florida chair of Florida Republican Party on the show and he told me
what this is really all about. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM GREER, FMR. CHAIR, FLORIDA REPUBLICAN PARTY: I sat in on many
meetings where it was discussed of how to make sure that what happened in
2008, when President Obama brought out the college age voters, the
minority voters, never happened again. Make sure the Republican Party has
an advantage in this upcoming election by reducing early voting, putting
roadblocks up for potential voter, Latinos, African-Americans to register
and then to exercise their right to vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Let`s bring in Melissa Harris-Perry, host of the "MELISSA
HARRIS-PERRY" show here on MSNBC. Melissa, what do you make of this ironic
twist in the voter fraud story?

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, HOST, "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY": I think there`s a
couple of important points here. One, the things that Republicans have
been doing in state legislatures across the country to so-call address
voter fraud, things like ending early voting, limiting the hours of the
polls and, of course, the imposition of voter ID. None of those measures
would impact the kind of voter fraud that it looks like we`re seeing
currently in Florida. So whether or not the GOP was itself part of what
this firm is doing, what we do know is that their so-called remedies, their
voter suppression efforts, do nothing to address this kind of fraud.

And the other thing that I think is really important here is it
reminds us how antiquated our election system is, that we are still dealing
with paper and pencil. I mean, my students at universities don`t even turn
in paper that way anymore. But we have much more sophisticated ways of
gathering information, of registering voters and just how little investment
there`s been in this country of bringing us into the 21st century.

SHARPTON: Isn`t it interesting that Isikoff says, that the group
that`s been given millions of dollars now --

PERRY: Yep.

SHARPTON: Only formed in June? Why would you hire a group that just
started and give the millions of dollars to do registration at the same
time that you`re running around the country dealing with voter fraud and if
it hadn`t been for groups like ours, with National Action Network and
others, it wouldn`t have become a national issue?

PERRY: Well, and especially in Florida where what they tried to do
was to limit the ability of third parties to do voter registration at all
where you had decades old organizations like the League of Women voters or
somewhat --

SHARPTON: Around voter registration?

PERRY: Around voter registration, right? So, they tried to limit
these third parties from being able to do that kind of voter registration,
at the same time that they are bringing in this sort of so-called new kid
on the block. But it`s because they`re not really a new kid on the black.
Isikoff is right, this is somebody who actually that`s long been there and
just changed their name.

SHARPTON: Right. And that`s the point. The point is that, if they
didn`t have some knowledge of who the person was, you wouldn`t give
millions of dollars to an outfit that was a month or two old.

PERRY: Well, you might. But that`s a different kind of --

SHARPTON: All right. But the fact of the matter is, while we are
seeing all of these state laws changing where`s there`s no evidence of
fraud, the irony is this allegation with this guy in Florida. But at the
same time, we`re still fighting, we`re still out there on the road fighting
these laws that are really inhibiting people when there`s no fraud.

PERRY: That`s right. And people who have every right to vote, who
should just simply be able to show up and vote, and particularly when you
look at Pennsylvania, the madness that is going on there, these are
suppressive efforts. These are not voter fraud efforts.

SHARPTON: Melissa Harris-Perry, thanks for your time tonight. And be
sure to watch Melissa Harris-Perry, Saturdays and Sundays at 10:00 a.m.
Eastern right here on MSNBC.

So, remember way back when Republicans were running away from Mr.
Legitimate rape Todd Akin. Not anymore, he`s their guy and they are not
hiding it now.

Plus, you won`t believe what a republican volunteer said about the
President while trying to drum up support for Mitt Romney. We`ll play you
the tape.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The Tea Party is running out of steam and it might lead to
a big change in Washington after the election. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Two years ago, the Tea Party rode into Washington thinking
they own the place. Then came the obstruction, the outbursts, the
disrespect. Well, we`re starting to see them crack. Take in the GOP
candidate for the Senator Richard Mourdock. He was -- the Tea Party
darling who bragged about refusing to compromise.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD MOURDOCK (D), INDIANA SENATE CANDIDATE: I certainly think
that bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the republican
point of view.

Bipartisanship means they have to come our way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But today, we`re learning he`s changing his tune to woo
Indiana moderates. All of a sudden he says he`ll support parts of
President Obama`s health care law, protect Social Security and Medicare and
even entertain the idea of compromise. Why the sudden change of heart?
Could it be it`s because he`s losing his Senate race and we`re seeing the
Tea Party stars fighting for their political lives.

America`s rejecting radicalism. As I always say, do unpopular things,
become unpopular. With the Tea Party decline, will the parties be able to
get something done in Washington after the election is the question.

Joining me now, Karen Finney, MSNBC political analyst and former
communications director of the Democratic National Committee, and E.J.
Dionne, columnist for "The Washington Post," and an MSNBC contributor.
He`s writing today about whether this election can fix what`s wrong in
Washington. Thanks to both of you for joining me tonight.

E.J. DIONNE, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Good to be with you, Rev.

KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hey, Rev.

SHARPTON: E.J., to your point in your article, we`re seeing cracks in
the Tea Party, but what has to happen to get Washington working again?

DIONNE: Well, I think -- I`m really glad you`re doing this segment.
Because if President Obama does win this election, one of the biggest
debates, important to everybody and not just Republicans, would be the
debate inside the Republican Party about why they lost. And the right wing
is going to want to blame Romney, say he didn`t present the real program
and we have a stake with the Tea Party and the right.

If, however, the Republicans start losing some of these seats, losing
Walsh and King and Bachmann and Allen West, then it`s going to be harder
for the right end of the party to argue our ideas went untainted and I
think if some of these folks actually lose the election, the more moderate
conservatives in the party will be able to say, this wasn`t just about
Romney. This was about a set of ideas that put us way outside the
mainstream and that`s why these races and others like them really matter.

FINNEY: Yes.

SHARPTON: Karen, in light of that, because that is exactly what I`m
driving at --

FINNEY: Yep.

SHARPTON: Joe Walsh is running against Tammy Duckworth in Illinois.
He`s losing the race by 14 points according to polls now. Some of the
biggest Tea Party seats in the House are being challenged. Michele
Bachmann swept into office in 2010 with a 13-point lead. Now she`s only
two points ahead of her opponent. Allen West, nine-point lead in 2010 has
turned into a statistical dead heat in 2012.

Congressman Steve King held an impressive 33 percent lead in 2010, is
now down to single digits. Is this a rejection of their ideas and could
lead to the country moving away from this extreme right philosophy in terms
of a takeover by politics in Washington?

FINNEY: Yes, if as President Obama said, because he was right when he
said that real power is not here in Washington, you don`t change Washington
from the inside, it does mean that people from the outside, it`s not just
about who gets elected. That`s very important. But then people outside of
Washington have to keep the pressure on their members of Congress to hold
them accountable for what they said they were going to do. When we`ve seen
people do that over the course of the last couple of years, that`s the only
time we`ve actually ever seen Congress act that or, you know, coming to a
fiscal cliff and over a deadline.

But you know, Rev, I think one of the things on this, and I like what
you`re saying. Because I think we did not fully do our jobs back in 2010
and understand the Tea Party. I think we easily bought into the narrative
and I think there was a whole, you know, Astroturf movement with Dick Armey
and not fully understanding that you can win with those kind of radical
ideas in gerrymander districts maybe once but you cannot win statewide, I
think that`s what this Senate races are bearing out.

SHARPTON: Right.

FINNEY: And you cannot win a presidential election given the changing
demographics of this country. You simply cannot.

SHARPTON: E.J., they were beating a drum about the deficit which is
very important but when you look at the concerns of Americans, let`s look
at the top five concerns. One, the economy. Two, jobs. Three, health
care. Four, education. Five was the budget deficit. So no one`s
minimizing the importance of the deficit but there really is not a program
that deals with the other four and they are using an extreme measures and
cutting up various entitlements and other things that Americans want to
deal with the deficit.

DIONNE: Well, I think that what happened in 2010 and Democrats in a
way allowed this to happen is that the Republicans succeeded in making the
deficit a central issue and a stand in for people`s economic worries across
the board.

SHARPTON: Right.

DIONNE: I think now it`s much clearer to people that these two things
are related but they are quite separate and there are moments when
balancing the budget or cutting spending on things like schools and public
safety can actually make unemployment worse. I think something else
important has happened, which is the health care law was very unpopular on
Election Day back then. The health care law is gaining ground.

SHARPTON: Right.

DIONNE: I saw some polls this week that showed President Obama way
ahead on Romney as on the question on who`s better on healthcare. And they
were demobilized, the Democrats the last time. They are not demobilized
this time.

FINNEY: Yes.

SHARPTON: Karen, they were strutting around Washington, the Tea
Partiers, in their outfits and rallies. Where the rallies? Where is the
hats? Where is the big strut? Where are the -- I mean, you couldn`t go to
Washington without seeing them. I haven`t seen any Tea Party rallies.
What happened?

FINNEY: And I think the last rally that they did tried to have was
dramatically reduced in size from what we saw. Look, I think, what
happened was, you know, again, we started to hear and see some of these
stories that there were Tea Party people that were disappointed with the
results that they were getting out of Washington and, again, I think that
people kind of bought into the rhetoric.

Look, I think they were right to be strutting around. E.J. is exactly
right. Shame on Democrats. We did not do a great job in 2010. But here`s
the other dynamic that I think is playing out. So, they strutted in and
they misinterpreted what the 2010 election was about.

SHARPTON: That`s right.

FINNEY: They had an opportunity and they broke safe with their
voters. Here`s the thing, voters also learned from, thanks to the Tea
Party, you better have the details. Talk about the deficits and tell me
the details.

SHARPTON: I`m going to have to leave it there. Karen, thank you.
Thank you, E.J. Dionne. Both of you have a great weekend. Thank you for
your time.

DIONNE: You too, sir.

FINNEY: You too.

SHARPTON: We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re 39 days to the election. The more desperate the
right wing gets, the uglier they get. Today, a report of a Republican
volunteer for Mitt Romney, in Florida called President Obama a Muslim and a
socialist. In a phone bank call for the Romney campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I don`t know if you have done any research on
Obama or not, but is he a Muslim. Um, he is, um, got a socialistic view on
the, you know, economy, the government, the whole nine yards. If he had
his way, we would be a socialistic country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And earlier this week in Virginia, a GOP group posted
offensive photos of the President on Facebook, photoshopped to make him
look like a witch doctor or caveman who`s tanking the economy. There`s
even one showing the President begging the country, come on baby, give me
one more chance. But there`s also real big money behind some of this
ugliness. The Daily Beast reports, voters in three key swing states are
receiving an anti-Obama documentary in the mail, from day one has been a
never-ending onslaught of ugly attacks but this garbage shows their
weaknesses.

They can`t win on the substance, so they go ugly. But next week, it`s
not bertha time or smear time, it`s primetime. Two men go under the lights
for the first debate and as we head to the home stretch, the other side
will keep this ugliness going. So what are you doing to combat this
ugliness? Watch the debate for substance, for programs, for who stands up
for the right America and then vote based on substance. Vote based on the
future of this country. Vote based on what you know will improve this
nation. Vote.

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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