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PoliticsNation, Friday, October 5th, 2012

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POLITICS NATION
October 5, 2012

Guest: Erin McPike; Dana Milbank, Joy Reid, Krystal Ball, Jeffrey Toobin

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

Tonight`s lead, governor Romney`s got a math problem. For months Mitt
Romney has hammered President Obama about job growth. Elect me, I can turn
the economy around. But today the rationale for his entire campaign is
crumbling. The new job numbers are out and unemployment has dropped to 7.8
percent. Under eight percent for the first time since President Obama
first came into office. That`s progress on jobs and that`s good for
America. But it`s absolutely demolishes a favorite Romney talking point.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Three years later,
unemployment is still above eight percent.

We`ve gone 41 months with unemployment above eight percent.

We`ve had 42 straight months with unemployment above eight percent.

Still over eight percent for 43 straight months.

We`ve had 43 straight months with unemployment above eight percent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Today, that talking point disintegrated and President Obama
has a strong record to campaign on.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This morning, we found
out that the unemployment rate has fallen to the lowest level since I took
office. But today`s news certainly is not an excuse to try to talk down
the economy to score a few political points. It`s a reminder that this
country has come too far to turn back now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, Governor Romney issued a statement today saying, quote
"this is not what a real recovery looks like.

Really? That`s what he has to say? Well, here`s my statement. What
is the reason for Mitt Romney`s campaign? The unemployment rate is at its
lowest level in nearly four years. That`s not a real recovery? When
President Obama took office, we were bleeding private sector jobs. Now
we`ve added them for 30 straight months. That`s more than 4 1/2 million
jobs.

Mitt Romney is just dancing as fast as he can to deny the truth.
Well, keep on dancing. Denying the truth is just the new normal for this
right wing nut GOP. The president`s birth certificate not real. Poll
numbers that show the president ahead, not real. And today these geniuses
came up with a new fantasy. Ready for this?

They say the president is cooking the books. Romney backer and former
GE chairman Jack Welch kicked off the conspiracy tweeting, quote,
"unbelievable job numbers. These Chicago guys will do anything. Can`t
debate so change numbers."

Conservative radio host, Laura Ingraham says, job numbers from labor
secretary Hilda Solis are total pro Obama propaganda.

While FOX News Web site asked, is the numbers real?

Congressman Allen West challenged the numbers, quote, "Chicago style
politics is at work here."

And, of course, Rush Limbaugh took time to get unreal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: It`s no different than Obama
declaring the temperature is going to be 75 degrees every day no matter
what your thermometer says.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That`s the problem with the right and that`s the problem
with Governor Romney. They can`t stand the truth. Things are getting
better.

Joining me now is Joan Walsh, editor at large for salon.com and an
MSNBC political analyst. And E.J. Dionne, columnist for "the Washington
Post" and an MSNBC contributor.

Joan, let me start with you. What`s behind these conspiracy theories?

JOAN WALSH, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, SALON.COM: They just don`t want to
accept the reality. They cannot accept that our president has made things
better, Reverend Al. I mean, I think you forgot one. Rush, when hurricane
Ivan was messing with the GOP convention, Rush accused Obama, are they were
messing with weather or the weather service. I`m not sure which. So, they
really - it is such a weird form of rejection. They really - they impute
all of this power to him. It`s dark power. It`s evil power. Because they
can`t deal with the fact that he had a plan, he implemented the plan. He
didn`t get everything he wanted and things are better.

But you know, for Jack Welch to go here, he is now taking his place
beside Donald Trump as a kind of political joke, a cruel political joke.
It is really not normal, talk about normal for someone like Jack Welch to
be taking to twitter or taking to anything else and then dumping down on it
in interviews and everything else.

SHARPTON: Now E.J., as Joan just said, he doubled down. You was just
on "Hardball" and Chris Matthews gave him every opportunity to, you know,
land on earth and he doubled down. Let me show you what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST, HARDBALL: Jack, do you want to take back
the charge?

JACK WELCH, FORMER GENERAL ELECTRIC CEO: No, I don`t want to take
back one word in that tweet.

MATTHEWS: So you would assert, as of now, 5:00 this afternoon, these
Chicago guys will do anything that can`t debates and change numbers?

WELCH: I didn`t say that they did. I said that they would do
anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So, I mean, first of all, E.J., you have been one of the
esteemed journalists in this country. The unemployment figures has nothing
to do with those that run the White House or in any way politically are
connected with either party. I mean, is that right or wrong?

E.J. DIONNE, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: No, that`s totally
right. And that`s what`s really important about this weird story. We
really have Obama derangement syndrome going on the far right and not just
the far right.

First of all, in 1984 and `88, good economic numbers really helped the
Republicans. You have Democrats and liberals running around spinning
conspiracy theories. For that matter, good economic numbers helped Bill
Clinton in 1996. Back then, conservatives and Republicans didn`t make this
kind of stuff up.

But what`s also insidious here is that the people who collect economic
data for our government are really good. They really care about the
integrity of their numbers. If there was something wrong here, they would
cry to the heavens to say, somebody is manipulating these numbers.

SHARPTON: Yes, but the point is, if somebody was manipulating the
numbers, why have high unemployment numbers in the first place?

(CROSSTALK)

SHARPTON: The problem, E.J. -- and I want you to weigh in on this,
too, Joan, they are now reaching to find a rational for why Romney is
running. If unemployment is now going down, if you have 30 months of
private job creation, if you have the war in Iraq over as the president
promised, if you have bin Laden dead, why is Romney running? That`s the
problem they are getting if these numbers are out and they are out and they
are valid numbers.

WALSH: He`s losing rationale, and, you know, he began to lie today on
the campaign trail because I think he said, that what`s happening is that
people are losing faith, they are leaving the labor market. They are
discouraged workers. That is absolutely not true, Reverend Al. Actually,
one of the great things about this job report today is that it reflects
real good growth and the employed people to total population ratio has
actually improved.

So it`s not people being discouraged. It`s actually people -- more
people going back. It seems like it could be even more people going back
to the labor markets.

SHARPTON: Well E.J., look at the job growth on screen from where we
were going down under the Bush administration. Now as you see the numbers
going up consistently every report since the president went in. So, I
mean, you can`t rationalize why you are running based on that.

Then when he says, E.J., that people are losing hope and faith, when
we look at "the Wall Street journal" poll, "the Wall Street journal," this
time last year 21 percent of people polled said the economy could improve.
By July, that number was 27 percent. By August, it had climbed to 36
percent. Last month, 42 percent that the economy improved. Now it`s 44
percent.

People that "the Wall Street journal" owned by Rupert Murdoch polled
are saying now, 44 percent of the economy is proving. When it was 21
percent, less than half that amount last year this time.

DIONNE: Well, no. And I think the reason why those numbers have gone
up, a lot of people attributed it to a good democratic convention and that
might have helped the mood of the country. But people are experiencing
what is happening with the economy. And it`s better than it was 3 1/2
years ago than when the president took office.

The job -- they sense what is happening in the jobs market. They
sense what is happening to the housing market and there are still problems
out there and that`s what Romney is going to sort of hit on, but clearly
things are getting better. Voters are sensing it and that`s why Obama had
started building these leads on Mitt Romney, particularly in states like
Michigan where the unemployment rate is well below the national average.

SHARPTON: But isn`t it -- I keep going back there because I think it
explains the conspiracy theory that is being denounced. Is it a problem,
Joan, that now every time Romney gets up to speak, it`s harder and harder
to come up with a reason he`s running? Why is he in the race?

WALSH: Well, right. Mitt can change himself. He cannot change
reality. So he is trying to change himself, Reverend Al. And we have seen
this is the last few days. He has disowned his nasty 47 percent remark.

SHARPTON: Right.

WALSH: He also came out and said he is the one -- remember, don`t
care about the very poor. Now he cares about the very poor. He`s actually
blaming Barack Obama.

SHARPTON: He actually has a pre-existing condition in his health plan
even though his campaign says nothing about it.

WALSH: So belatedly, he`s trying to hit President Obama about the
suffering that still exists except we know that he would make that
suffering for the very poor and the poor, and the people that have fallen
out of the middle class worse with his policies.

SHARPTON: So, in effect, we`re in desperation, E.J., because we can`t
hear an explanation?

DIONNE: Well, I guess you could say that Romney spent 42 months
appealing to conservatives and now he wants to spend the last months
appealing to moderates. And that`s the problem. And then, obviously, he`s
got to change that speech. But, he has had to back away from this argument
that the economy is just in the dumps for a long time. So, this is just
going to force him in other directions again.

SHARPTON: Well, Joan Walsh and E.J., thanks for your time tonight.
Both of you have a great weekend.

WALSH: Thanks, Reverend Al.

DIONNE: And you, too, sir.

SHARPTON: Coming up, as E.J. just said, he takes it all back. Mitt
Romney says he`s completely wrong about calling the 47 percent of this
country victims and moochers. Is he serious?

And this is what winning looks like for Mr. Romney. Big bird is
crashing the party and President Obama continues to call the Romney team
out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Now, my opponent, he`s doing a lot of little -- a little tap
dance at the debate the other night, trying to wiggle out of stuff he`s
been saying for a year. It was like dancing with the stars.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: All that plus, breaking bloating news out of Ohio tonight.
A win for democracy. Stay with us.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONAN O`BRIEN, HOST, CONAN: Before the debate last night, there was a
coin toss to see which candidate would speak first. It was an awkward
moment when Romney asked, what`s that shiny little disk you`re holding?

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Are you part of the "Politics Nation" community on facebook
yet? That`s where the conversation is going all day long. Today our fans
will talk about the jobs numbers.

Juan says, this news speaks louder than the debate.

Katherine says, imagine what the conversation would be if Congress
passed the president`s jobs bill.

I`m with Kathy on that one. The other hot topic, big bird.

Eric says, big bird should be an Obama campaign surrogate.

Eric might be on a sense there. We`ll have more on that later in the
show. But, first, we want to know what you think. Head over to facebook
and search "Politics Nation" and "like" us to join the conversation that
goes long after the show ends.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: When he was asked what he`d actually do to cut spending and
reduce the deficit, his big example was to go after public television. For
all you moms and kids out there, don`t worry, somebody is finally getting
tough on big bird. Rounding him up. Elmo`s got to watch out, too.
Governor Romney plans to let Wall Street run wild again but he`s going to
bring down the hammer on Sesame Street. It makes perfect sense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That was President Obama today blasting Mitt Romney on big
bird at their debate this week.

It`s amazing. Who would have thought that big bird would become the
hot topic from the debate? In fact, big bird showed actually up at a
Romney rally today with the sign that said, crack down on Wall Street, not
Sesame Street.

But, it is not just big bird, Romney actually gave President Obama lot
of openings the other night. He tried to sprint from the hard right to the
moderate middle, but ending up tripping all over the truth.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Now, my opponent, he was doing a little tap dance at the
debate the other night. Trying to wiggle out of stuff that he`s been
saying for a year. Doing like a -- it was like dancing with the stars.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The president`s right. Romney tried to dance away from his
own record in the debate. He danced around on taxes. He danced around on
Medicaid. He even danced around on his own health insurance plan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The other night he said he`d repeal Obama care as soon as he
took office and then he backtracked and said, no, wait. At least I will
make sure to cover folks with pre-existing conditions. And then I`ve
explained, well, actually, your plan doesn`t do that. And then his
campaign had to come out and say, actually, that`s not true. Our plan
wouldn`t do that.

So governor Romney was fact checked by his own campaign. That`s
right. That`s right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Romney got fact checked by his own campaign. It`s pretty
clear now that Romney has backed himself into a corner and President Obama
intends to keep him there.

Joining me now, Dana Milbank, columnist for "the Washington Post" and
Erin McPike who covers the campaign for "real Clear Politics." Thanks for
coming on the show.

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

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

SHARPTON: Dana, did Mitt Romney leave himself open to some attacks?

MILBANK: Well, just a little bit, Reverend. And I think if he
continues on this trajectory, by the last debate, he`s going to be
considerably to the left of you. And he will have a difficult time.

But, you know, I suppose he may be, you know, all for increasing the
minimum wage and getting more folks on welfare by then. But, you know, he
had a very big night in a theatrical sense Wednesday night and that really
knocked Obama back on his heels.

Now, you`re seeing from Obama some of the answers one would have
thought he would have come up with in real time. But Romney did leave
himself with a problem because he`s contradicted himself in so many ways.
There is now the opportunity to come back and say, well, which one is it?
Is it the one that you were saying for the last year aging months or is it
the one you presented last Wednesday? So we`re back to the original charge
against Romney, which is the flip-flop label.

SHARPTON: Now, Erin, you`ve covered Romney for months and you have
been through the primaries. What stunned me the other night, good
performance, well delivered, but absolutely full of lies to me. I call
them lies. I`m not asking you to say that. I`m saying that.

When he would stand there and say he is not advocating a plan that
will cost $5 trillion. I mean, he ran away from his own tax plan and the
president called to him. Let me show you what I`m talking about.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Absolutely not. I`m not looking for a $5 trillion tax cut.
What I say is, I won`t put in place a tax cuts that ads to the deficit.

OBAMA: For 18 months he`s been running on this tax plan and now, five
weeks before the election, he`s saying that his big, bold idea is, never
mind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, the strategy behind this, I`m not asking you to get
into my description or my analysis of Mr. Romney, but the strategy behind
this is what? As what has covered at the campaign, is Romney and his
campaign trying now to bait and switch from the hard right language and
rhetoric of the primary and not try to appeal to in the independent voters?

MCPIKE: There certainly may be some of that. Let`s simplify it. He
at one point said, I will not reduce taxes on high-income Americans. But
he has said before that he wants to cut taxes for all Americans. The basis
of his tax plan is that he wants to cut taxes for everyone. That, to me,
was the most stunning one liner of the night, actually.

SHARPTON: Yes, I think so. But I also think, Dana, it also stunning
that you would stand up there and act like Americans can`t do math. I
mean, you can`t have a plan and then when the plan equals $5 trillion, you
can`t say, that`s not what I`m saying. I mean, it is absolutely insulting
to the American people.

If you believe in a plan, if you believe if your plan is workable and
doable and better than the president`s, say that, argue it, and let the
voters vote. But don`t turn around and act like we`re crazy because we
heard what you`ve been saying for the last 18 months.

MILBANK: Right. Obama is now in a position to nail jello to the
wall. You said that Romney was lying on Wednesday night. Now, that`s
possible or it`s possible he`s now telling the truth and the others were
lies. The problem is, this all can be true at the same time. You can`t
have a tax cut of that size and not add to the deficit simply because, as
the president did point out in the debate, there are not enough loopholes
to close to get you to that point.

SHARPTON: But Dana, isn`t that the problem? He comes out of this
debate having three theatrically won a score in terms of the night. But
now, he`s got the problem of having to defend an economic plan that is
really problematic for him, particularly given his record and particularly
given the Republican base. Going forward, doesn`t he have the burden of
having to defend what he did the other night?

MILBANK: He does. I assume what is going on here is that Romney
said, look, with the hard right thing, we are down in the key states.
We`re down overall. This isn`t working. Well, let`s bring back that etch-
a-sketch idea and try. It is very late in the campaign to be trying us.
Will Americans accept it? Suddenly this man that`s been saying one thing
for the last year or two is now believed something entirely different?
He`s suddenly walked away from the whole 47 percent remark as well.

So, you basically disowned everything he had run on before. Are
Americans going to accept that? Are the last numbers of undecided is going
to accept that? I don`t know. I imagine there would be some skepticism.

SHARPTON: Erin, big bird is showing up. He became one of the
memorable lines. Is that going to be a problem? I remember chicken George
running around, the first George Bush`s rallies. Big bird, was that
something that the Romney people wished he had not opened the door to?

MCPIKE: Well Al, one thing that we saw throughout the primaries is
that all kinds of costume characters like to show up to these events. So
certainly we`ll be seeing big bird every single day from now until the
election. The problem is, that when Mitt Romney specified that public
television is something that he wanted to cut, it puts a face on something.
He did get specific but what he was worried about all along is that if he
got specific, then it gave the president something to target, which the
president now effectively has and you`ve got lots of people saying, what
about big bird?

And in fact, to the president`s rally just yesterday, they were
saying, and what about Elmo? And what about Cookie Monsters? So some of
these specifics do look like they might hurt Mitt Romney.

SHARPTON: Well, he avoided the specifics on very serious things that
affect Americans. He won`t be specific on Medicare, he won`t be specific
on Medicaid, he won`t fill in the details on his tax plan, but he got
specific about a bird. Erin, give me a break.

Dana, Erin, thanks for your time tonight. Have a good weekend.

MCPIKE: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, governor Romney says he`s completely wrong about
the 47 percent he called victims. Does anyone really buy this?

And breaking voting news out of Ohio. It`s a major win for the fight
of your voting rights.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Breaking news out of Ohio tonight and it`s a victory for
voting rights. The sixth circuit court of appeals has ruled that voting
for the three days leading up to Election Day must be reinstated. Ohio
Republican got rid of those three days for everyone in the state except for
military voters, saying they deserved special privileges. But President
Obama disagreed and his campaign sued for equal voting access for all
Ohioans.

Today the appeals court agreed. Quote, "While there`s a compelling
reason to provide more opportunities for military voters to cast their
ballots, there is no corresponding satisfactory reason to prevent non-
military voters from casting their ballots as well." It`s a major blow to
Secretary of State Jon Husted who runs elections and has a record of being
a partisan republican.

He`s been trying to limit early voting all year and it`s great news
for the 93,000 voters who cast their ballots into three days leading up to
the Election Day in 2008. This is just the latest in a string of voting
right victories that we`ve seen over the last few weeks. It`s a win for
the president. It`s a win for democracy. It`s a win for equality and it`s
a win for voting rights everywhere. The fight is working and we can`t stop
now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back. Despite all of the talk this week about the
debate and who wins and momentum, Governor Romney is still the 47 percent
guy. He is the guy who was caught calling half of the country moochers,
who was caught saying, he doesn`t care about them. This secret tape cut
through to the American people and now 17 days later, he`s taking it all
back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In this case, I said
something completely wrong and I absolutely believe however that my life
has shown that I care about 100 percent and that`s been demonstrated
throughout my life and this whole campaign is about the 100 percent. When
I become president, it will be about helping the 100 percent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Completely wrong, I care about 100 percent. Funny, that`s
not what he said the night the tape came out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: It`s not elegantly stated, let me put it that way. I`m
speaking off the cuff in response to a question and I`m sure I could state
it more clearly and more effective way than I did in a setting like that.
And so, I`m sure I will point that out as time goes on. But it`s a message
which I`m going to carry and continue to carry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Not elegantly stated, speaking off the cuff. He`s standing
by the message on the tape and five days later it was this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I`ve got a very effective campaign. It`s doing a very good
job but not everything I say is elegant.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Is not elegant but again not taking it back. And here he
is Monday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I`m a president for 100 percent of the American people and
that`s the real person people care about. Not 99 versus one, not 47 versus
anyone else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So whatever happened to not worrying about the 47 percent?
And now it`s this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I said something that`s just completely wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Is he kidding? This is the ultimate etch-a-sketch moment,
a complete flip-flop. But don`t take my word for it. A Romney surrogate
agrees.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The republican, the conservative surrogate in the
primary is always going to lean right and come back to the center for the
general the opposite for the democrat. That`s all you`re seeing here.
It`s very typical. We strong conservatives understand that. So this is
campaign strategy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It`s typical campaign strategy. That`s what it`s all
about? We all know the man caught on tape is the real Mitt Romney. He`s
still Mr. 47 percent and no etch-a-sketch can erase it.

Joining me now is Joy Reid, MSNBC contributor and managing editor of
thegrio.com. And Krystal Ball, co-host of "The Cycle" here on MSNBC.
Thank you both for joining me. Krystal, let me start with you. Why he is
apologizing for these 17 days later?

KRYSTAL BALL, CO-HOST, "THE CYCLE": Well, I think because it`s been
so damaging and they have seen the results on the ground, how much this is
impacted people. They saw this video and they said, finally, we see who
this guy really is. We`ve been wondering, is he the guy that he was in
Massachusetts? Is he the guy that he was in the republican primary and
when they saw that video, they said, this is the guy and it`s exactly who
we thought it was.

But I would also say, I think when the comments were first unearthed
and he went into that press conference, if he had totally walked it back
and apologized at that point in time, his base would have freaked out
because that 47 percent number, that has been gospel with the Republican
Tea Party base. Now that they`ve stared into the abyss and saw that he was
going to lose and lose badly, they have given him the bandwidth to
apologize, to try to at least rhetorically move to the center even though
his policy positions are certainly as hard right as they have always been.

SHARPTON: Because Joy, it really did hurt him, when you look at the
fact that the comments, how it impacted voters, NBC poll shows 45 percent
of Americans see Mr. Romney more negatively after hearing the tape. A pew
poll show the majority of Americans 55 percent had a negative reaction to
hearing it. I mean, this really hurt him and I guess they had to do
something. The President was talking about it today in Ohio. And he keeps
hitting hard on this.

JOY REID, MANAGING EDITOR, GRIO.COM: Yes. And the thing is, we`re
going to find out, Rev, in the next, 30 something days is whether or not
Romney strategy is essentially trying to fight the election starting with
the first debate is going to be smart or whether the Obama strategy of
defining Mitt Romney all summer as sort of this heartless plutocrat who
just wants to cut taxes for his own wealthy class and who doesn`t care
about people who are the quote, unquote, "47 percent" which he then
confirmed in his own voice when he didn`t think anyone was watching, when
he thought he was out of the view of the cameras.

So he confirmed sort of the worst theories about him that have been
put forward by the Obama campaign. So it was really hurting him in
particularly since the Obama campaign has been running ads, as have their,
you know, associated super PACs and hammering him in these swing states.
So, his swing states polls are even worse than his national polls. So, at
this point, we are seeing now a move to the center but a sprint to the
center.

SHARPTON: Yes.

REID: He`s trying to quickly lurch to the center in the closing week
to the campaign hoping people won`t pay attention.

SHARPTON: But is the damage done? I mean, look at the Obama campaign
ads, Krystal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: There are 47 percent of the people will vote for the
President no matter what, who are dependent on government, who believes
that the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that
they are entitled to health care, and food, and housing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So, I mean, with 17 days later saying I was 100 percent
wrong, is it too late? Is the damage done?

BALL: I think the damage is to a large extent done. Especially
because like we are saying, it confirmed people`s suspicions about Mitt
Romney to start with and you`ll remember Mitt Romney grabbed on to this,
you didn`t build that comment from the President?

SHARPTON: Yes.

BALL: That has actually not had any impact on the electorate, and
then the NBC Wall Street Journal poll when they ask people about that
comment, about an equal percentage view that favorably as un-favorably, so
this has been devastating for the Romney campaign and the other thing I
would say here that`s interesting about Romney coming out this week and
saying, he was completely wrong is I think the President took a lot of heat
for not bringing up 47 percent in the debate.

But if he had done that, he would have given Mitt Romney a platform in
front of 60 million people to do his mea culpa, muddy the waters and try to
make things right in the 47 percent. Since the President didn`t do that,
Romney didn`t have the opportunity to make that case to the American
people.

SHARPTON: You know, it`s interesting you say this, because I heard
that today and I said the night of the debate Joy that maybe, we were
seeing some form of roper dope. I don`t know what was or wasn`t.

REID: Right.

SHARPTON: But what was interesting that the President did bring it up
and it`s an interesting theory Krystal raises that I`ve heard today from
others, that to not have raised it with 65 million watching didn`t give him
a platform to clarify. Now to come on somebody else`s show, you know, let
much, much smaller audience, he`s now got to try to undo the damage that
the President may have -- I have no way of knowing, intentionally not
wanting to give him that night, an interesting theory, Joy.

REID: It`s a very interesting theory. And the other interesting is,
if you want to give the Obama campaign the sort of strategic -- you know,
this was all three-dimensional chess. The other thing that happened during
that debate is that Mitt Romney committed himself to supposedly moderate
platform ideas that are the exact opposite of everything he`s been saying
on tape for 18 months. So he`s also sort of handed the Obama campaign the
gift of easy to make campaign commercials.

BALL: Right.

REID: There`s nothing that campaign people like better than easy
campaign commercials that write themselves. All they have to do is take
clip after clip after clip of Mitt Romney saying things during the debate
that they can then play corresponding, flip-flopping and answering a
completely different way before that. So that`s the other sort of, you
know, maybe unanticipated and unintended gift of that debate.

SHARPTON: But he`s now going to have to defend, Krystal, all of this
going forward.

BALL: Yes. Right.

SHARPTON: And he now has a fresh tape debate, all -- things, now he`s
going to have to defend it so maybe it was, despite the fact that it was
certainly the night that the President was on, did not appear to be on the
a-game.

BALL: Right.

SHARPTON: Might have been smart not to deal with that particular
issue because he didn`t give him an easy shot. You have to believe Romney
was anticipating that question and had a ready answer.

BALL: That answer that we saw to Hannity, that was the answer he had
prepared for the debate and was probably actually in a way looking forward
to giving it, to try to make some ground up on exactly how damaging those
comments have been.

Joy-Ann Reid and Krystal Ball, thanks for your time and have a great
weekend to both of you.

REID: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Don`t forget to catch Krystal on "The Cycle," weekdays at
3:00 p.m. Eastern right here on MSNBC.

Still ahead, will the Roberts court roll back the clock on civil
rights?

We`ll look at to what`s really at stake in this election. Plus, some
Republicans will believe just about anything as long as it hurts the
President. We`ll look at the ugly history of these jobs number conspiracy
theories. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We have news tonight on a story we brought to you months
ago about the federal judge who e-mailed a racist joke about the president
and his mother from his office chambers. Richard Cebull, the chief federal
judge in Montana had admitted e-mailing a joke suggesting the President`s
late mother had sex with the dog. It was a horribly offensive joke. But
for months, Cebull ignored calls to resign. Now, he`s finally stepping
down from his role as chief judge in March of next year but he`s not
leaving the bench entirely.

He keeps his salary, he keeps his staff, and he can still rule on a
reduced workload of cases. This man has no business on the bench. If he
won`t take himself off, someone else should do it for him. A five judge
panel has been reviewing Cebull`s conduct since March. A spokesman would
tell us only that the investigation is ongoing with no deadline for a
decision to be reached in this confidential process. What`s the delay?
This judge admits he sent the e-mail. He`s already showed he has no
judgment to speak of. Justice has been delayed but it won`t be denied.
We`ll stay on this story.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back with an important issue that`s not getting
enough attention in this presidential campaign. The future of the Supreme
Court. The court began its term this week and it could soon rule on some
of the most important issues in the country. Affirmative action, same-sex
marriage and the voting rights act of 1965 all expected to be on the
court`s agenda. Millions of Americans will be affected by what these
justices decide and Mitt Romney`s already made it clear that if he`s
elected president, he`ll nominates someone modeled up to his favorite
justices. John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Antonin Scalia.
The four most conservative justices on the bench today. This is another
reason why this election is so important.

Joining me now is Jeffrey Toobin, legal expert and staff writer for
the New Yorker and author of a new book, "The Oath," the Obama White House
and the Supreme Court. Jeffrey, thank you very much for being here
tonight.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, AUTHOR, "THE OATH": Good to be with you, Rev.

SHARPTON: Let`s talk about civil rights and some of the issues coming
up. Wednesday I know because I`m going to be down there, hearing
affirmative action, there`s a lot of things this court is going to hear and
decide that could up in, affirmative action up in voting rights, up in
same-sex marriage.

TOOBIN: And you can see the impact of George W. Bush`s influence on
the court, on those issues. Because in 2003, Justice O`Connor wrote an
opinion in the University of Michigan Law school case saying, "Diversity is
a legitimate goal, race can be one factor that a university considers in
admissions." The case you`re going to hear, the fisher case out of the
University of Texas, is a direct challenge to that and it is a threat to
affirmative action in public universities but it could lead to essentially
the death of affirmative action, in any university of any employer, it`s a
huge, huge case.

SHARPTON: And that`s why we have rallies out there, but let me say
this, everybody praise the guessing game, nobody knows who`s better than
you, what a court is going to do. But you covered in this book, and I`m
reading you, because it`s a very good book, that a lot of the behind the
scenes back and forth around the affordable health care act when it went
before the court and people were stunned, I among them, when John Roberts
voted uphold it.

And you write in the book and I want to read, this is out of the book,
quote, "By demanding that Roberts kill our entire health care law, the four
conservative justices prompted him to look for some kind of middle ground.
Roberts felt obligated to protect the institutional interests of the court,
not just his own philosophical agenda. Now, doing that, he uncustomarily
won against the conservative, fellow four members on the court.

TOOBIN: He certainly did and count me among those who are shocked
and count me among those who predicted wrongly what Roberts vote would be.
But Robert sees himself as not just another justices, he sees himself as
the chief justice, he`s the embodiment of the court and after Citizens
United, after Bush V. Gore where you had five to four decisions, where
republican justices really trash the dream of democratic politicians.

SHARPTON: Right.

TOOBIN: To do it a third time in a relatively short period of time
would have really damaged the court and so many people`s eyes. And so,
Robert looked for that middle ground and he found this novel justification
for the affordable care act under the taxing power of Congress and he
upheld the law but don`t think that John Roberts has suddenly discovered
his inner moderate.

SHARPTON: You talked about that in the book. That he`s not
discovered as a moderate. In fact, Reverend Al Sampson, the civil rights
mentor of mine said, when he said that, he did not find it, they had the
right to deal with interstate commerce.

TOOBIN: Right.

SHARPTON: But that they could deal with tax law, most of the civil
rights legislation was built around interstate commerce.

TOOBIN: It sure was.

SHARPTON: So, that is not a good sign for some of the stuff that
we`re dealing with now.

TOOBIN: Including the voting rights which they are going to be
dealing with.

SHARPTON: Because if Roberts has already said in the affordable care
act decision that he does not find it, that the interstate commerce is
allowable, then how does he turn around in the voting rights decision and
say it?

TOOBIN: Well, he has the voting rights act in his sights, the depth
of the voting rights act. You saw it in a case out of Texas a few years
ago. Basically what Roberts has said, is that OK, maybe in 1965 these
states that are covered by the voting rights act, maybe it was justified
then but the country has changed so much and these states have changed so
much that they need to be freed from the restrictions of the voting rights
act even though this law has made such an enormous difference in the
African-American political representation. By far the most important law
since reconstruction in that regard.

SHARPTON: 2009, Chief Justice Roberts gave some indication that when
he questioned the constitutionality of the voting rights act, which is
what you just said, in court opinion he wrote, "Things have changed in the
south. This is it in a court opinion. Blatantly discriminatory evasions
of federal decrees are rare. The act imposes current burdens and must be
justified by current needs." So, when people see us rallying out there, we
are actually looking at a court in a chief justice that you thoroughly went
through in this book that may, in fact, turn the voting rights act around
and once they begin hearing affirmative action. We`re looking at very,
very serious historic times.

TOOBIN: And he will serve much longer than George W. Bush, Barack
Obama. These justices serve -- they don`t serve for four year terms. They
serve decade after decade and that`s why the issue is so important.

SHARPTON: You gave a fascinating portrait of how similar yet
different, the lives of President Obama were and John Roberts swore him in
and had to do the oath again. Both for them had ties to Chicago. Both for
them Harvard, both for them Harvard law review. I mean, it was amazing how
they were like flip sides of the same coin.

TOOBIN: It is. They do a fascinating parallels. But after core,
they`re very different and the paradox of the difference is that John
Roberts when it comes to the constitution is the candidate of change. He`s
the one who wants to change the law on abortion, on civil rights, on the
death penalty, on all of these areas whereas Obama is much more of a
cautious conservative when it comes to the course.

SHARPTON: Right.

TOOBIN: He`s the one who is saying, let`s leave things the way they
are. The law is OK the way it is. Roberts is part of the generation of
conservatives. Ronald Reagan brought them to Washington who said, we have
to change the law.

SHARPTON: I`ve been trying to tell everybody, I`m a conservative.
I`m trying to conserve the voting rights act, conserve affirmative action.
I`m the conservative. So glad Jeffrey Toobin came on the show tonight to
affirm that for me.

TOOBIN: That`s my goal, Rev.

SHARPTON: Jeffrey Toobin. The book is, "The Oath: The Obama White
House and the Supreme Court." Thanks for being here tonight, Jeff. We`ll
be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: I want to close tonight with the right wing`s negative
response to the day`s positive jobs report. This conspiracy theory thinks
the Labor Department is cooking the books to help the President. This kind
of thing is not new on the Right. They didn`t believe in global warming.
They didn`t believe the President was born here. Always some conspiracy.
They are in an alternative universe. Too bad that we have to live in the
real world and have to deal with the real results of some of the policies
they enact. Let`s deal with reality and change it.

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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