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PoliticsNation, Monday, October 1st, 2012

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POLITICS NATION
October 1, 2012

Guests: Dana Milbank; Michelle Cottle, Robert Reich, Maria Teresa-Kumar, Irin Carmon, Laura Bassett


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

Tonight`s lead, governor Romney is getting by on a zing and a prayer
with just 36 days to go, things are getting desperate for team Romney. The
bad news keeps piling up.

The latest swing state polls show him trailing the president by 11
points, 11. FOX Business is reporting that Romney is losing donors to
Republican house and Senate. They are moving their money because they
think he is going to lose. So much for the liberal media bias. That was a
FOX report. Even conservatives are arguing that this Wednesday`s debate is
do or die.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: You just heard Paul Ryan say that Romney
will offer the country a clear choice of two different economic futures.
Is that what Romney needs to do Wednesday? Is that enough?

BILL KRISTOL, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, I think it would be good to
just win the debate. That`s my advice to Governor Romney and it`s time to
begin panicking a little bit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Time to begin panicking? But don`t worry, Governor Romney
have a solution. Zingers. The "New York Times" reports that Mr. Romney`s
team has concluded that debates are about creating moments and has equipped
him with a series of zingers that he has memorized and has been practicing
since August. Zingers? Mr. Romney doesn`t need zingers. He needs new
ideas. He needs a new campaign. Truth be told, he needs a new candidate.
After all, the guy he`s been debating all along has been himself on health
care.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m not getting rid of all
of health care reform. Of course, there are a number of things that I like
in health care reform.

Well, of course. I`m going to repeal Obama care. I`ve said that on
the campaign trail. I think every single day Obama care must be repealed
in its entirety.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He was for it before he was against it. And that auto
bailout --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: You said, quote, if general motors, Ford,
and Chrysler gets the bailouts that their chief executives asked for
yesterday, you can kiss the automotive industry good-bye.

ROMNEY: That`s exactly right. If you write a check, they are going
to go out of business.

My own view was that they need to go through bankruptcy before
government help and frankly, that`s finally what the president did. So
I`ll take a lot of credit that this industry has come back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: See, he told the president to let Detroit go bankrupt so he
should take the credit for saving Detroit. And he`s just as hapless on
taxes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I admit this is one thing he did not do in his force, the
first four years, is he said he is going to do in the next four years which
is to raise taxes.

Of course, he raise taxes with Obama care but he`s got another tax in
mind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Governor Romney doesn`t need zingers. He needs to get his
story straight. He needs to stop debating himself. And at the end of the
day, this election isn`t about one liner, just ask our president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know folks in the
media are speculating already on who`s going to have the best zingers.
What I`m most concerned about is having a serious discussion about what we
need to do to keep the country growing and restore security for hardworking
Americans. That`s what people are going to be listening for. That`s the
debate that you deserve.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That`s the debate voters deserve. And on Wednesday night,
they won`t be distracted by any zingers cooked up by Romney`s team of joke
writers.

Joining me now is Michelle Cottle, Washington correspondent for
"Newsweek" and the "Daily Beast." And Dana Milbank, columnist for "the
Washington Post."

Thank to you both for coming on the show tonight.

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

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

SHARPTON: Dana, let me go to you first. Are zingers the answer for
Mitt Romney?

MILBANK: Well, he has to beware the very perilous boomerang zinger.
The only thing worse than not delivering an effective line is taking a line
that is so obviously can and rehearse, just the sort that he is doing right
now and delivering in sort of the wrong way. Then it looks canned, it
looks contrived, it looks like hurting -- you`re trying too hard.

You know, if he comes out and says, there you go again, you know,
you`re going to hear a thumping sound and that`s going to be me and
everybody else pounding our heads on the table in the next room in the
debate. He is very wooden and stiff as it is. So, if he`s seen as
throwing down a line of somebody wrote down from, that`s much worse than
skipping the zingers at all. I used the zingers in private and just try to
have an actual debate.

SHARPTON: Yes. Well Michelle, it`s pretty bad when you use a zinger
and it doesn`t even work. But, to be honest, Mitt Romney`s been talking
and dealing with zingers for a long time. Let me show you something about
Mitt Romney and zingers going back a little bit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: One, there is coming up with the best answers for the best
zingers. And number two is being able to communicate to the people of
America that you`re a leader. I think I have the best ideas for our
nation. I think I have some pretty good zingers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So he`s been talking about zingers since at least late last
year, Michelle. I mean, what is it with him and zingers? When are we
going to hear specifics on his economic policies, on his health policies?
Every time specifics come up, they want to talk about something else and
he`s running around obsessed with zingers?

COTTLE: Yes. I don`t -- from what I`m -- zingers were a little
Debbie snack cake for years or something like this. I don`t even know what
he`s talking about most of the time because he doesn`t need a zinger. He
needs a message. And this is what he`s going to have to figure out in his
debate what his core message that he always brings every question back home
to is going to be. This is what you do. This is how you make an impact.

You know, the guy doesn`t have a cat skill comedian`s timing. If he
tries too many of these zingers, Dana is right, he is going to fall flat on
his face. He needs to be worried about making an impact in terms of
letting people know that he`s competent and has a vision for where he wants
to take the country.

SHARPTON: No. You`re right, Dana. Because the one or two times that
I`ve seen him attempt humor, he kind of fell on his face. But this debate,
all zingers aside, is going to be very, very divisive, according to even
his own supporters.

Governor Chris Christie argued this weekend that the debate will
completely change the state of the race. Take a listen to Governor
Christie.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), GOVERNOR, NEW JERSEY: Guess what, on Wednesday
night, Mitt Romney is going to be standing on the same stage as the
president of the United States and I am telling you, David, come Thursday
morning, the entire narrative of this race is going to change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Is he overstating the case there or will the narrative
change and if it will change, Dana, which way will it change? It could
change where there`s no hope left at all for Romney?

MILBANK: I bet governor Christie 10,000 bucks that that narrative is
not going to be changed in just such a manner. But, it is true that if
Romney is going to get back in this race, this is the time to do it. The
first debate. The second and third debate, that`s all nice. But this is
the last chance that he has to form a good first impression or second or
third, or whatever it is at this point.

There is some good news for Romney in the post ABC polls, and that is
that the expectations are fairly high. Many more people think that Obama
will win this debate. So, he is in a way, prevail in the expectations game
because expectations are low for him. But, he really does. He doesn`t
just need to hold his own, needs to get in there and give people a reason
why he looks and acts like a president in a better way than Obama would.

SHARPTON: But Michelle, you know, there`s so much doubt going that
Paul Ryan, according to the national review, he`s even calling conservative
pundits like George Will to reassure them. Let me read you a national
review report. It writes, "Paul Ryan has a new mission. Reassuring
conservative pundits. Republicans familiar with the calls say Ryan`s tone
has been positive and upbeat but he has acknowledged that the campaign has
made some missteps."

This is not liberal bias. This is the national review reporting. The
vice presidential candidate is trying to reassure conservative pundits.

COTTLE: Well, conservative pundits, you know, mainstream Republican,
nobody has been a huge Romney constituency here. You know, conservatives
loved it when Ryan got put on the ticket. They thought this was a good
sign that the Romney campaign was finally going to be about something.
They`ve been disappointed so far that, you know, Ryan has been turned more
into Romney than the other way around. So he`s the obvious person to be
sent out there to talk to these guys. But I`m just not sure how soothing
he can be in terms of the top of the ticket in this case.

SHARPTON: Now, in terms of the soothing, Dana, Bob Dole was very
soothing in your paper to Mr. Romney. He wrote over this weekend an op-ed
piece that I`m sure was intended to be soothing. I certainly wouldn`t have
liked it if I was the nominee. But his intent, I`m sure, was to be
soothing because he wrote no one aspires to be defeated -- a defeated
presidential candidate.

But then he went on further and he argued that there is light at the
end of the tunnel for Dole that was an improbable career, pitching visa,
Dunkin donuts and Viagra. And he goes on to say, the greatest of life
blessings cannot be counted in electoral votes.

So he`s telling Mr. Romney, I assume, that don`t worry about it. You
can do what I did and I guess that`s soothing.

MILBANK: It`s soothing in a manner of speaking. But, there`s a
crucial different here and that is that Bob Dole in 1996 fought the good
fight. But, look, the economy by then was booming. Nobody really gave him
a chance of winning.

What is happening here is you have Romney losing a race that everybody
thought he was perfectly capable of winning. So if that is indeed what
occurs, it`s possible he doesn`t even get the Viagra ad in the end and, you
know, may be cutting some ads for Bain Capital.

SHARPTON: Michelle Cottle and Dana Milbank, I will leave it at that.
Thanks for your time this evening.

MILBANK: Thanks, Reverend.

COTTLE: Thanks.

SHARPTON: Coming up, Paul Ryan has come up with a brand-new reason to
avoid giving details on the Romney/Ryan plan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, FOX NEWS SUNDAY: You haven`t given me the math.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It would take me too
long to go through the math.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The math is hard defense? Yes. Good luck with that.

Plus, Todd Akin goes from bad to worse. New comments from Mr.
Legitimate rape have made him the poster child of the GOP radical anti-
women agenda.

Also, Republicans care a lot about voter fraud unless they are the
ones doing it. We`re calling them out for gross hypocrisy.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Have you checked us out on facebook? The "Politics Nation"
conversation is going all day long. Romney`s zinger debate strategy was a
hot topic today.

Judith says, we need math, not zingers.

And folks couldn`t get enough of these photos of a kid high-fiving the
president at a campaign rally yesterday.

Ryan says, quote, "best reaction ever."

The kid`s father Aaron commented, too, saying quote "high fiving the
man he used to call "Rock Obama" made my son`s night."

We want to hear what you think, too. Head over to facebook and search
"Politics Nation" and "like" us to join the conversation that keeps going
long after the show ends.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN: I think it goes without saying, there`s a media bias. Look,
I`m a conservative person. I`m used to media bias. We expected media bias
going into this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: As the Romney/Ryan ticket falls into the poll, some
Republicans are falling back to their old playbook, blame the media. After
all, only the liberal media thinks he is losing. Over on FOX News, they
know different, right? Right?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Why are you and Romney losing at this race?

RYAN: We`re going to win this race. Given that, we`re going to win
this race.

WALLACE: But you are not at this point. You`re losing.

RYAN: Here`s what we`re saying.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: FOX News to Paul Ryan, quote, "you`re losing." Ouch. And
they only get worse when they turn to the Ryan/Romney economic plan which
would somehow magically contexts without increasing the deficit or dropping
popular deductions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: You`re the master of the budget. So briefly let`s go
through the plan. The Obama plan says independent groups say if you cut
those tax rates for everybody 20 percent, it costs $5 trillion over ten
years. True?

RYAN: Not in the least bit true. Look, this just goes to show, if
you torture statistics enough, they will confess to what you want on them
confess too. Here`s what we are saying.

WALLACE: But, how much would it cost?

RYAN: It`s revenue neutral.

WALLACE: I`m not talking about the cut. We`ll get to the deductions.
But the cut in the tax rates.

RYAN: The cut in tax rates is lower all American tax rates by 20
percent.

WALLACE: How much does that cost?

RYAN: It`s revenue neutral.

WALLACE: It`s not revenue neutral unless you take away the
deductions.

RYAN: That`s where I`m going.

WALLACE: I`m going to get to that in a second.

RYAN: Lowering the tax base works and you can.

WALLACE: Let me just -- you haven`t given me the math.

RYAN: Look, I don`t have the -- it would take me too long to go
overall of the math.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It would take too long to do the math? This isn`t a pop
quiz. It`s a presidential election. Even the conservatives are fed up
with the lack of details.

Here`s what Laura Ingraham said to Ryan when she called in her radio
show earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: What I don`t understand about
this, is that the Romney/Ryan vision, you guys talked about the different
visions yesterday on FOX News Sunday. And if you have a different vision
for this administration, I think the people of the country desperately need
to know what the specifics of what that different vision is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Look, we know why Romney and Ryan don`t want to come clean
on their tax plan, because it literally doesn`t add an up. In fact, one
economic study says their plan was, quote, "not mathematically possible."
And Romney himself hopes you don`t think about all of those pesky little
details missing from his plan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: The devil`s in the details. What are we
talking about? The mortgage deduction, the charitable deductions?

ROMNEY: The devils and the details. The angel is in the policy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: We`ll see if Romney can avoid talking about all of those
devils in Wednesday night`s debate in the economy.

Joining me now is MSNBC contributor and author Megan McCain and MSNBC
political analyst Richard Wolffe. He`s the author of "Revival, the
struggle for survival inside the Obama White House."

Thanks to both of you for being here tonight.

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Thanks, Reverend.

MEGHAN MCCAIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Richard, it`s got to be bad if FOX News isn`t buying your
line.

WOLFFE: You know, Chris Wallace was asking really reasonable
questions. It`s not just about specifics. It`s to try and explain the
real costs, the facts behind the tax policy. So even if you set aside the
proposition about whether you are winning or losing, because all of these
things can be temporary at the beginning of the campaign. But, getting to
the details in a factual way is important. If you cannot boil down your
message as candidate, never mind about a bumper sticker like, but a sound
bite like, that how you express it to voters that`s exactly the problem
that they are in. And he is trying to avoid it because the details are
difficult but difficult not to explain but difficult for middle class
voters who are going to lose deductions that they like.

SHARPTON: Well, I had the same difficulty in junior high school
trying to make five plus three equal nine. I mean, the math isn`t there.

WOLFFE: Right.

SHARPTON: That`s part of the problem.

But Megan, Paul Ryan talked to a Wisconsin radio host and said why
don`t you get into the specifics on FOX News Sunday? Let me you hear what
he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN: I didn`t want to get into all of the math of this because
everybody would start changing the channel. When you`re offering very
specific, bold solutions, confusion can be your enemy`s best weapon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, he`s running for vice president. He`s on a morning
talk show on a Sunday and if you got into specifics, people would start
changing the channel?

MCCAIN: The thing s. I continue to go on the show and say, I
understand what they are trying to say. I do understand what Paul Ryan is
trying to say. The problem is, people like me can`t go on and trying to
explain what they are doing.

As Richard said, they are going to have to get down to brass tax and
specific which they just aren`t doing. And it is exhausting for
Republicans right now. I am at my wit`s ends with this. They do need to
get specifics. I am hoping that on Wednesday Governor Romney will do this
during the debate. But if this is the exact reason why we`re losing and
whether Republicans like it or not, we`re going to have to get things down
to 140 characters and sound bites to put all over the media. This is the
era we are living in and for whatever reason Republicans and specifically
this campaign continue to ignore that and it`s just the realty of the times
that we are living in whether they like it or not.

SHARPTON: So you are hoping that Wednesday night, they can get down
and explain a message that some of you feel that of then in fairness to
you, but that that many of us feel is not there because they have not
communicated.

MCCAIN: I think no matter how complex the issue is, which no one is
saying this is an incredibly complex issue, they are going to have to
narrow it down to make it accessible and digestible for average Americans
to understand and they are just not doing that right now.

SHARPTON: Now Richard, what bothers me is not only they are not doing
it, it gets more incoherent and incoherent. Let me give you one of their
representatives.

Governor Bob McDonnell was on Andrea Mitchell on this station today.
And when she raised the question of Romney`s tax plan, let me show you the
encounter here.

WOLFFE: OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Where is the math? And is
Mitt Romney going to be under some pressure in this debate to produce
specifics as to how it will all add up?

BOB MCDONNELL (R), GOVERNOR, VIRGINIA: Well, Andrea, first, it`s a
laughable question.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, did I miss something? What`s laughable about that?

WOLFFE: That`s a very reasonable question. You know, I`m going to
come up with an analogy which is for me the deja vu of this election is
2004. OK? When John Kerry couldn`t describe his position was on the war
of Iraq, would he have voted for it again, knowing what he knew at that
time? How would he get out of it?

It`s one thing to deliver a critique of a sitting president with big
challenges. Even if you think that the sitting president is responsible
for all of those challenges, as Democrats thought about President Bushes,
Republicans are now thinking about it with President Obama. Delivering a
critique is easy. When you go in and say, I`m going to make it better,
just vote for me. People not unreasonably, not laughably say, how are you
going to do that? What is that look like? What are you going to do? John
Kerry struggled with that question. Mitt Romney is struggling with that
now.

SHARPTON: That seems to be the problem. What is the overall vision
of the campaign? What is the message other than we don`t like President
Obama.

MCCAIN: My problem right now with the campaign is that they really,
really need to start delineating between exactly what a Romney presidency
will look like and what the Obama presidency has look like. And they are
just not doing it. It has to be clear, it has to be more concise. It has
to be easily digestible in 140 characters of whether or not they like it or
not. This is the kind of time we are living. And then, I agree with you
that we`re getting down to the 11th hour and there`s one final debate and I
really hope that Mitt Romney takes this time to lay it out word for word in
a simple and accessible way because this is just too complicated for
people.

SHARPTON: When you think of the fact that the economy is not -- has
not recovered at the rate we`d like, as quickly as we`d like, and that was
going to be Romney`s issue and according to the polls, he and the president
is tied here, what can he do, Meghan, as a Republican? If he was watching,
what could he do on Wednesday night that could give him the edge back on
the economy? That was going to be his issue.

MCCAIN: There`s a lot of ammo out there right now. If I were
Governor Romney I would start talking about Libya, in exactly what`s going
on if there was a terrorist attack that Jay Carney will say but the
president will not say has happened. That were unemployment is the over
rate percent. The deficit is over 16 percent. That`s the types of things
I would start doing and on their brass tax-facts that they can be using.
And for whatever reason, we are making it vague and all of the things that
we have in common as Republicans with President Obama but we do not.

SHARPTON: Well, I mean -

WOLFFE: Look, debates are not just about landing punches. We all
watch that, but real people look at debates and say, what kind of a person
are you? What kind of leader are you? What kind of person are you? If he
doesn`t communicate what kind of person he is, no one is going to vote for
him.

SHARPTON: Well Meghan, she`s like at that. She is a straight
shooter. She is saying --

MCCAIN: Because I have done at the point before where I`m now at my
breaking point with this. And I love Governor Romney.

SHARPTON: We may not agree but I like the fact the at least you`re
candid. We don`t have to agree on everything. But at least you are
candid.

Meghan McCain and Richard Wolffe, thank you for your time tonight.

And as I`ve said before, this election is not about Obama. It`s about
your Mama. New polls show that the public thinks the big issue at stake on
this Election Day, including Medicare, Social Security, and our safety net.

But, first, the right double standard when it comes to Republican
voter fraud.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back with a story we all need to pay attention to.
You might remember the community activist group called A.C.O.R.N. Back in
2008, some people working for A.C.O.R.N. were found to have submitted fake
voter registration forms and the right wing went crazy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is a corrupt
organization that did not deserve one dime of taxpayer funds.

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This group needs
to learn that you here in Ohio, you won`t let them turn the buckeye state
into the A.C.O.R.N. state.

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Obviously ACORN and police were not
talking but they should be talking to the FBI.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: With that by the right wing, Congress voted to defund
ACORN. And that organization folded. So, I want to know where the right
wing outrage is now. We reported last week that the Republican National
Committee fired a group it paid to register voters in swing states.
Because of suspicious voter registration forms. The man behind the group,
Nathan Sproul, he`s a veteran operatives whose groups have been accused of
suspicious voter activity in the past.

Today, the investigation is growing. Now ten -- ten Florida counties
have reported possibly fraudulent voter forms submitted by Sproul`s
workers. Ten, they include registration with phony addresses and similar
looking signatures and this potential voter fraud goes beyond Florida.
North Carolina is considering an investigation into the consulting firm.
And a woman registering only republican voters worked for Sproul`s group in
Colorado. Check out what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CANVASSER: Would you vote for Romney or Obama?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Well, wait, I thought you were registering voters
a minute ago.

CANVASSER: I am. I am.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: OK. And who are you registering? All voters?

CANVASSER: Well, I`m actually trying to register people for
particular party, because we`re out here in support of Romney, actually.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: And who is paying you for this?

CANVASSER: Oh, the -- let me see. We`re working for the county
clerk`s office.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: This is exactly what started the phony ACORN scandal.
Phony voter registrations. The same thing. So where is the right wing
outrage today? They were horrified by those ACORN employees in 2008. So,
guys, what do you have to say?

Did the right wing think we wouldn`t notice their convenient double
standard? Nice try. But we got you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back. Today in the "New York Times," Paul Krugman
writes about, what`s really at stake in this election. Quote, "Voters are
being asked to deliver a verdict on the legacy of the new deal and the
great society on Social Security, Medicare, and, yes, Obama-care, which
represents an extension of that legacy. And a new poll shows most
Americans, 52 percent, think the President best understand the economic
problems they are having. Only 39 percent say Romney gets it. Beyond all
of the polls and spin, this election is not about Obama. It`s about your
mama and the stakes couldn`t be higher.

Joining me now is Robert Reich, former labor secretary and now an
economics professor at U.C. Berkley. He`s also the author of "Beyond
Outrage." And Maria Teresa-Kumar, president and CEO of Voto Latino and an
MSNBC contributor. Thank you both for being here tonight.

MARIA TERESA-KUMAR, PRES. AND CEO, VOTO LATINO: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Secretary Reich, let me start with you. You`ve been
writing a great deal about how skewed Romney`s policies are. Is the word
now getting out on that you think to voters?

ROBERT REICH, FORMER SECRETARY OF LABOR: Undoubtedly, voters are
beginning to get a sense that Romney is not on their side. It`s not just
the policies, it`s not just the tax plan that gives the rich a huge
benefit, at the same time cutting most of the programs that are for the
poor and middle class and Medicare, Medicaid, and so forth. But it`s also
side remarks. I mean, for example, the videotape of Romney saying, he
doesn`t care about or he`s not worried about 47 percent of Americans who
are pampered and who are not taking responsibility for themselves.

It`s Romney himself. I think that in the debates, Romney has two big
problems that he`s got to try to overcome. One is mathematics. That is,
he`s got to show that his plan really does ad up, he`s got to get rid of
the magic asterisks and show for example of what loophole he`s going to
close. The second is authenticity. He`s got to show that his
authentically somebody who cares about average working people. He has not
done both. He`s losing ground because of both problems.

SHARPTON: Now, Maria Teresa, when you look at the polls, the new
Gallup poll, for example, it shows majority of Americans think the
President is a better candidate for the middle class. They say, 53 percent
for President Obama, thinking he`s better for the middle class. Romney,
43. And then you go to the president, who will the president do more to
favor? Middle class, wealthy, 66 percent say middle class.

Seventeen percent say wealthy. Who will Mitt Romney do more to favor?
Thirty five percent say, middle class, 57 percent say wealthy. How does
Romney overcome this overwhelming view that he is going to serve the
wealthy and he doesn`t serve or care about the middle class?

KUMAR: I think Romney has to be able to be accessible, number one,
during the debate, as Robert mentioned. But he also has to have a
conversation with the American people and be forthcoming, just like
President Obama had a conversation on race in 2008. Mitt Romney, it would
serve him well to have that same conversation with the American people and
how he can best serve them. But let me go back a little bit to this 47
percent.

The reason that the 47 percent hits home to so many people is that
these working Americans are working two to three jobs. They are working
them because they are aspiring for a better America. So when Mitt Romney
says, he didn`t want to represent the 47 percent, he was going after the
American democracy saying, we may not be able to do it today but we`re
investing in our future for our children and for ourselves.

SHARPTON: Well, he also said, he didn`t want to take responsibility.

KUMAR: It is outrageous.

SHARPTON: But let me go to a bigger picture question with you
Secretary Reich, because I think when you look at "The Washington Post"
poll and voters were questioned about who they trust on issues, on
Medicare, President Obama leads by four percent. The question of Medicare,
when I talk about it`s about your mama, not Obama, the question of the
great society programs that really help people get by who are not looking
for a handout but needed the government to help them, isn`t this the core
of what is really bothering a lot of Americans about what Romney`s
representing?

REICH: Absolutely. It`s not only Medicare and Social Security, it`s
also Medicaid. It`s the structure programs that were first put into effect
and certainly Social Security and minimum wage, the right to bargain and
collectively bargain on a 40-hour work week. And that was the new deal,
and then you have the great society, Medicare, Medicaid, and so forth and
these have been parts of the fabric of American life now.

SHARPTON: Right.

REICH: People are deeply, deeply dependent on the programs but they
are also very popular. I mean, a lot of people who don`t even like
government, don`t even know that their government programs say, don`t take
away my Medicare. So, Romney has positioned himself, unfortunately,
exactly in the wrong place at the wrong time, on the wrong side of history.

SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you this, Maria. When you look at the fact
that Krugman I think correctly says, President Obama`s policies continue
the legacy of the new deal and great society, Romney comes in the legacy of
what?

KUMAR: I think basically he as the old Robert Behrens of our time, in
which the new deal was actually trying to -- which has actually counter
even though, has basically trying to counter punch against. And the fact
that right now, we`re living in the biggest recession since the great
depression win a lot of these programs took place. There is not one
American who doesn`t know a loved one, that perhaps right now, is that
struggling 47 percent. So, again this election is very much personal and,
as you said, it`s about your mama. Where do you want your mother to be
five, ten years from now and making sure that they have that social safety
net that she invested in. This is not a free handout, again, she invested
in it because she worked hard every day and now there`s an opportunity to
make sure that she has good years.

SHARPTON: Secretary Reich, go ahead. I`m sorry.

REICH: Well, I just want to say, just building on that, we are
struggling as everybody knows to get out of the gravitational pull of the
worst recession since the great depression and that great depression and
that great recession were both brought on by financiers. By Wall Street,
exceeding the boundaries, Wall Street excesses, and here we have Mitt
Romney saying, we`re going to get rid of a lot of the safety net programs,
a lot of the basic programs put in a place.

After the great depression, after the great crash of 1929 and also
during the very, very important years where we tried to build a great
society and also after the crash of 2008. But he is somebody who
represents Wall Street, represents financial capital who doesn`t have any
record of caring for average working people. That`s the essential story.
That`s the narrative that everybody is beginning to understand right now.

SHARPTON: And as I have read somewhere, Secretary Reich, it`s beyond
an outrage.

REICH: It is.

SHARPTON: Robert Reich and Maria-Teresa Kumar, thanks for your time
tonight.

KUMAR: Thank you for having us.

SHARPTON: Ahead, the GOP has a Todd Akin problem and it won`t go
away. Mr. Legitimate rape is at it again.

And the Supreme Court is back with some big decisions on civil rights
that are coming up. A supreme choice is 36 days away. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Todd Akin talked about legitimate rape and the Republicans
couldn`t run away from him fast enough. Today, the GOP just loves the guy.
That`s how desperate they are. That story next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Republicans have a Todd Akin problem. He`s the Missouri
Senate candidate who six weeks ago created a controversy with comments
about so-called legitimate rape. He`s speaking out against women again in
a town hall meeting. Last week, last Thursday to be exact, he was asked if
it it`s OK for women to be paid less than a man for the same work. His
answer was quote on camera by his opponent`s campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TODD AKIN (R), MISSOURI: If somebody wants to hire somebody and
they agree on a salary, that`s fine, however it wants to work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That`s fine. Fine to pay women less than men for doing the
same work? For weeks, Republicans tried to push Akin out of the race. Now
they are stuck with them. But here`s the GOP problem. Mr. Akin says, out
loud what they believe. And Democrats and racist has far away as New York.
And making Akin a campaign issue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Some things you have to draw a line. It`s just
too extreme, like Ann Marie Buerkle and what actually constitutes rape.
Buerkle co-sponsored a bill with Congressman Todd Akin that would redefine
the term rape for only forcible rape. For Ana Marie Buerkle, women who
were drugged or even minors who are victims of statutory rape would not be
classified rape victims.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: What happened in Missouri isn`t staying in Missouri. Todd
Akin is everywhere and he`s every republican`s problem.

Joining me now is Irin Carmon, reporter at Salon.com and Laura
Bassett, a journalist who covers women`s issues for "The Huffington Post."
Thank you both for your time tonight. Erin, how bad is the Todd Akin
problem for Republicans?

This was the race that wasn`t even supposed to be competitive and now
they are saying, well, he can probably still win due to hatred of President
Obama in that state.

SHARPTON: When you say probably, and he wasn`t even supposed to be
competitive, he was supposed to win?

IRIN CARMON, REPORTER, SALON.COM: He was supposed to win, yes. This
is a state that has become steadily more conservative.

SHARPTON: Right.

CARMON: Christian right has become much more popular demographically.
It`s really shifted into republican state. President Obama isn`t really
fighting there. But now what we have is, it`s the biggest problem is that
he made it about more than abortion, he made it about rape victims. So,
now we`ve created this opportunity for Claire McCaskill who hasn`t been
particularly popular in this state to tie him in with these really
insensitive remarks that imply that women are lying and imply that women
also have totally fake Science behind them that is very popular in the
anti-choice movement.

SHARPTON: Now, when you look at that and you combine that, Laura,
with the fact that at first when these legitimate rape statements came out,
Republicans started running from them, now they are stuck with them, let me
give you an example. The chair of the GOP, Reince Priebus, tried to
distance himself from Akin. Here he is answering a reporter`s question.
Look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: If he stays in, is y`all`s position eventually
going to change and you`re going to have to support him?

REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, WISCONSIN REPUBLICAN PARTY: No. No. No.
He can be tied and we`re not going to send him a penny.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But now he`s changed his tune. When he was asked if he
thought Akin was a better option that McCaskill, Priebus says, quote, "I
have an obligation to make sure we win as many seats in the Senate as
possible." I mean, he`s a real problem for them.

LAURA BASSETT, "THE HUFFINGTON POST": Well, there it is, Reverend. I
think, you know, a month ago, Republicans wouldn`t touch Akin with a ten-
foot pole. I think the reason was not because they were so genuinely
offended by Akin`s remarks but it was because they thought he had no chance
of winning that Senate race. And they`re desperate to win that seat. And
so, they ran for him, they encouraged him to get out of the race hoping to
replace them with another republican that could possibly win. And now that
they are seeing that Akin actually have the chance to win in Missouri,
they`re tiptoeing back over to him. Senator Coburn is throwing him a
fundraiser this week.

SHARPTON: Yes.

BASSETT: We thought, you know, Santorum and a couple other --
Gingrich came out for him this week, I think that it`s clear that the
original outrage of his remarks was disingenuous.

SHARPTON: Well, I think that it`s not only disingenuous as Laura has
pointed out, Irin. And I think when you look at it, the other problem is,
he`s saying fundamentally what many of them are advocating. Look at the
fact that Paul Ryan and the Republican Party are trying to distance
themselves but they are really on the same page. Akin, the Romney/Ryan
campaign and the republican platform are all anti-abortion. Though Romney
has clarified that he would allow abortions in cases of rape and incest.
They all stand by it and -- they all want to defund Planned Parenthood.
They are all opposed contraception coverage.

CARMON: Absolutely. I mean, I think Todd Akin is like the -- of the
Republican Party. He`s just this kind of a crude, more sloppy way of
saying exactly what it is that they stand for. He and Paul Ryan worked
together on that forcible rape bill. The problem right now is that not
only that, that`s also the republican platform. Phyllis Schlafly, who
wrote all of the abortion provisions in the RNC platform is also
fundraising for Todd Akin. This is not out of a mainstream view in today`s
Republican Party. These people are a big part of the republican coalition,
so it`s a good moment to figure out what it is that they believe about
women.

SHARPTON: Now, when you look at the fact that several Republicans are
now supporting Akin, including some who tried to get him out of the race,
you got Priebus, the GOP chair, you have former Governor Kit Bond, you have
former Senator Roy Blunt and others that never left the side from the
beginning when you look at Senator DeMint who now he`ll be an honorary host
at a Washington fund-raiser for Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee.
Laura, it`s like you said, they are right there with him. It`s like
business as usual.

BASSETT: Business as usual, that`s correct. And people are
forgetting, that he continues to roll out the really controversial
comments. Just last week, he said that his opponent, Claire McCaskill was
being not lady-like, debate against him. I mean, it was a comment straight
out of the `50s and now to say that he doesn`t necessarily support equal
pay for the same work for women, you know, beyond saying, I didn`t support
the Lilly Ledbetter fair act which was actually about giving women, brought
her illegal channels to sue their employers for lower pay than man, he went
further than that and said, maybe it shouldn`t be illegal at all for women
to be paid less than men for the same work. And he cited freedom as his
reason for that, and where is the outrage now? The outrage is gone because
--

SHARPTON: Well, that`s what I`m concerned about here, Irin. Where is
the moderate republican? Where are the Republicans, primarily Republicans
that stands up and denounces this now?

CARMON: The only person that I`ve seen really denouncing is Chris
Christie, who obviously is more on a moderate state. At this point, they
have to be responsible for the people that they`ve recruited, that they`ve
lead into their coalition that are in fact, I mean, frankly, the inmates
are running the asylum at this point.

SHARPTON: This is amazing. And it`s the legacy of all of these anti-
abortion campaigns and crusades they`ve had and how far they`ve pushed this
party to the right. Well, Irin, thank you. Laura, thank you both for
joining us tonight.

CARMON: Thank you.

BASSETT: Thank you.

SHARPTON: The Supreme Court is back and it reminds us just how
important this election really is. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Today marks the start of a new term for the Supreme Court,
a term in which conservatives could potentially roll back the clock on
civil rights. First up, the justices will design whether the affirmative
action program at the University of Texas is constitutional. They will
also likely hear arguments on same-sex marriage and the voting rights act
of 1965. Yes, the voting rights act. The law people marched and died for.
The law that protects the right to vote. The law that is now under attack
by voter ID laws. The Supreme Court may decide whether key revisions
should still stand nearly five decades later.

How do justices rule in these cases will affect millions of Americans.
Who can go to college, who can get married, who can vote. That`s why this
election is so important. Whoever is elected president next month will
likely appoint at least one new justice to the court and it`s no mystery
what a Romney Supreme Court would look like. Here`s what he said back in
December during the primary debates.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, Roberts, Thomas, Alito,
and Scalia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Those are four justices that are the most conservative on
the bench. They all ruled against abortion rights, against equal pay, and
for unlimited political donations for corporations. Yes, this is not about
who likes the president or not. Sure he`s likeable. This is not about all
of the side bar issues. This is about what we fundamentally stand for as a
country.

And when you go in that booth, how you vote says what you believe in,
what you stand for, what you think about yourself, your family, and the
direction of the country. And if you don`t vote, it will tell us who you
are and who you are not. Thank you 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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