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PoliticsNation, Monday, October 8th, 2012

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POLITICS NATION
October 8, 2012

Guests: Jan Schakowsky; Michelle Cottle; Brian Katulis, Jonathan Capehart,
Margie Omero, Elijah Cummings


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

Tonight`s lead, Mitt Romney is dancing as fast as he can. Do you
remember back during the primaries when Mitt Romney assured Republicans
that he is severely conservative? It didn`t ring true back then but, hey,
he was trying. Now with the election 29 days away, Mitt Romney is on the
move as a moderate. But can he be credible in this new roll?

A brand new Gallup poll shows President Obama leading Governor Romney
by five points. Meanwhile, a brand new Pew poll shows Romney ahead by four
points. So clearly, in the wake of the first debate, this race is
tightening.

Things are moving, just like Mitt Romney. Suddenly he loves covering
people with pre-existing conditions and suddenly Mr. Romney is ignoring the
fact that his tax plan is a give away to the rich. The only problem,
that`s not the Mr. Romney who`s running for president and this weekend Newt
Gingrich, one of his top surrogates let the cat out of the bag.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Standing on the stage with you in Arizona, this is
what Mitt Romney said. Number one, I said today we`re going to cut taxes
on everyone across the country by 20 percent, including the top one
percent.

Mr. Speaker, you mentioned that your opponent, Mitt Romney, had a
problem with being dishonest and the primary of my question is, was he
dishonest when he said that?

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it`s clear
he changed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Clearly he`s changed. Another Romney surrogate even
admitted it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PHIL GINGREY (R), GEORGIA: 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: Oh, sure. It`s typical. Just campaign strategy. That`s
all you`re seeing here. Very typical. But here`s the thing. The more he
moves to the middle, the more hypocritical he looks.

This weekend, moderate campaign with none other than Congressman Allen
West. Yes, the same Allen West who thinks the White House is cooking the
job numbers. The same Allen West who is said there are communists among
Democrats in congress. How is that for moderate? And just listen to him
on Medicare.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can tell you this, when
Paul Ryan is elected as vice president and I`m elected president, we will
restore money to Medicare and honor the promised for --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, Mr. Romney made those claims under a banner that says
protect and strengthen Medicare. Did he forget that he signed on to the
plan that would kill Medicare as we know it? You know the one his running
mate created.

So this is the great Mitt migration to the middle, the move from
severely conservative to just severely brazen. The question is, can this
new Mitt move past the smell test? Joining me now is Congresswoman Jan
Schakowsky, Democrat from Illinois and Michelle Cottle, Washington
correspondent for "Newsweek, Daily Beast."

Let me thank you both for joining me tonight, first of all.

MICHELLE COTTLE, WASHINGTON REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST, NEWSWEEK:
Thank you.

REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D), ILLINOIS: Thanks.

SHARPTON: Congresswoman, let me go to you first. Governor Romney
continue his brazing move to the middle. Newt Gingrich admits he has
changed. How will Governor answer to this in the next 29 days?

SCHAKOWSKY: Well, we have to double down and demand the truth and who
do you trust becomes the real question now? But you can`t go from saying
we shouldn`t hire more teachers to saying, I love teachers. We need more.
You can`t say you`re against the Dodd-Frank bill, regulation of Wall Street
and then say, oh, yes, Wall Street needs some regulation. And you can`t
say that you`re supportive of Medicare when your plan is essentially to get
rid of Medicare as we know it, to end it and turn it into a voucher program
that won`t even keep up with inflation. We have to make sure that the
truth gets out and we have to demand the answers from Romney. Who are you?
The president was right when he said, who was that guy that showed up on
the debate night?

SHARPTON: Michelle, isn`t that the real point, despite some
surrogates saying it`s typical, isn`t this too far toward the opposite side
of what he represented in the primary?

COTTLE: Well, this is what we were told by his conservative opponents
in the primary that we could expect. And if you talk to Republican voters
in the base during the primary time, this is what they were worried about.
Now of course, the primary goal for Republicans is to beat Obama no matter
what and this is the candidate they`ve got. So, you know, at this point
they are going to swallow and vote for him anyway.

But nobody -- this is not a surprise. We all knew the etch-a-sketch
would be shaken. It`s just on some level, we thought it would be shaken
earlier than this.

SHARPTON: Now, Congresswoman, one of the things that Governor Romney
tried to project into the first debate is this bipartisan image. But "the
New York Times" came out over the weekend saying that his tenure as
governor was anything but bipartisan. Quote, "Democrats complained he
ignored, insulted or opposed him. He vetoed legislation initiatives. He
exercised budget line items, a remarkable 844 times." I mean, that`s an
incredible amount of times.

SCHAKOWSKY: Well, I had the opportunity to be with some legislators
from Massachusetts who said, look at the vote that is going to be in
Massachusetts for president of the United States and you get a sense of
just how bipartisan Mitt Romney was. He is going to lose Massachusetts
overwhelmingly because as the governor -- first of all, his record was all
wrong and it was third worse in job creation so he`s inventing his record
but he`s also inventing the bipartisanship. The legislators saw none of
that.

SHARPTON: Now, Michelle, when you say that we were warned that he was
going to move to the middle, the problem that he has is so many things that
remind people of who he was, like the infamous tape of him talking about 47
percent. So no matter how much he moves, he`s got to continue to answer
and be haunted by this tape. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: It`s not elegantly stated, let me put it that way. I have a
very effective campaign that`s doing a good job. But, not everything I say
is elegant. I`m a president for a 100 percent of the American people and
that`s the real percent that people care about. I said something just
completely wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So he went from, it wasn`t said well to, it was completely
wrong. I mean, because he can`t get away from people seeing him, himself
saying, 47 percent of the country basically are moochers and won`t take
responsibility. He can`t get away from his own image.

COTTLE: He thought on some levels that it would fade away faster and
it did and a lot of people predicted it wouldn`t be such a big deal early
on. And I think gradually he realized he was going to have to directly
address it. So, in the wake of his debate performance, he took an
opportunity to say, I was wrong.

But I think a lot of people are obviously not going to be willing to
let it drop. They are going to be asking him, you know well, what do you
mean you were wrong? Did you not mean it? Were you just pandering? I
mean, all of the hypocritical or inconsistent accusations are going to
continue going forward. And I think it will be a big theme with the Obama
people that, you know, who is this guy, can you trust him, and which Mitt
Romney are we going to be seeing tomorrow, next week, next month, that sort
of thing.

SHARPTON: Congresswoman, I heard a commentator say earlier that he`s
a man that comes out of a private sector and he`s used to saying whatever
it takes to close the deal. Well, that may work in business but will that
work with voters if they feel you are not authentic, no core beliefs in
anything, can they close the deal with someone that they don`t believe
really believes anything?

SCHAKOWSKY: Well, this lack of core belief is certainly an issue.
But you know, the worse in politics, Reverend, is lack of respect. When
you disrespect people and that`s what we saw in that authentic moment of
Mitt Romney when he was talking to all his rich friends, that he has
content, disrespect for people, anybody who has any -- relies on government
in any way, Medicare, Social Security, veterans benefits, we`re talking
about active military. The disrespect that he showed is something that I
think all voters ought to take with them to the voting booth.

SHARPTON: Michelle, quickly, let me ask you. I started with citing
one poll has the president up, another Romney up. What is your sense to
where w are right now in this campaign 29 days out?

COTTLE: Everybody is kind of waiting for the shoe to drop. You know,
he had -- the president had a bad debate but then the job numbers came back
really well. So, I think - especially the media narrative is kind of
waiting to see what the next big thing is going to be. Maybe it`s going to
be Joe Biden. We don`t know.

SHARPTON: All right, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and Michelle
Cottle, thank you both for joining us.

SCHAKOWSKY: Thank you, Reverend.

COTTLE: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Coming up, President Obama has been fired up for days and
today we know exactly why. Good luck, governor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We put two wars and tax
cuts on a credit card and now Governor Romney wants another $5 trillion in
tax cuts that he can`t pay for? Not if I`ve got anything to say about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Plus, a tea party group accused of intimidating voters by
hovering and getting into faces is under fire. Congressman Cummings is
demanding answers. He`s here exclusively.

And live from New York, it`s me, our friends at "SNL" took on yours
truly and the MSNBC team. Oh, yes, I`ve got something to say about it.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a mile below the earth so for him, speaking
to Colorado was like being flown two miles into the air and then having to
give a speech in outer space.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Have you joined the "Politics Nation" conversation on
facebook yet? Today our facebook family still had a lot to say about the
big bird controversy.

Sandra says, big bird pretty much symbolizes the difference between
the two parties.

I agree.

And Donna says, the last thing America needs is to have big bird on
the unemployment line.

This recently released photo of the first lady joking with the
president was a hit, too.

Karen says, you can tell that Michelle makes him laugh.

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)

OBAMA: We will take them out. We will kill bin Laden. We will crush
al-Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority.

ROMNEY: Then he says he want to unilaterally go in and potentially
bomb a nation which is our friend.

This is the person of the United States to get on TV and say, we are
going to go into their country unilaterally.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Two candidates. Two very different positions.

In 2008, Barack Obama promised to take out bin Laden and he did. But
during the same campaign, Mitt Romney told the Associated Press, quote "it
is not worth moving heaven and earth and spending billions of dollars just
trying to catch one person." His weakness on foreign policy has just
gotten worse since then.

Today, for example, Romney gave a speech trying to sell himself as
credible commander in chief. But his list of missteps is unprecedented in
a major candidate. His disastrous European trip. British tabloid labeled
him, Mitt the twit, not mentioning the troops during his convention speech,
calling the operation that led to Gadhafi`s death quote, "a mission trip,"
claiming that ending the Iraq war under terms president Bush negotiated was
quote "abrupt" and calling Russia, America`s number one GO political folk.
Never mind the cold war is over.

Maybe we wouldn`t -- shouldn`t be surprised that his foreign policy
agenda is a mess. His team includes over a dozen former advisers to
President Bush. In fact, Bush`s defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld praise
Romney`s piece today on tweeter, calling it quote "terrific, comprehensive
speech."

Our latest NBC poll shows that America`s people don`t buy Romney as
commander in chief. He trails the president on that 47 to 39 percent. And
he trails the president by six percent on foreign policy.

For decades, Republicans have had the edge over Democrats when it
comes to national security. But thanks to this president`s strength and
Romney`s weakness, that trend is over.

Joining me now is Richard Wolffe, vice president and executive editor
of MSNBC.com and an MSNBC political analyst and Brian Katulis, a senior
fellow at the Center for American for progress.

Thanks to both of you for being here.

BRIAN KATULIS, SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Thanks,
Reverend.

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Thanks.

SHARPTON: Richard, let me start with you. What is the biggest
failure in Romney`s foreign policy attacks?

WOLFFE: The biggest problem Mitt Romney has is not debating the
president, it`s debating himself. There is -- all consistency of a split
pea soup. He is -- he is against mission creep in Libya and for mission
creep in Syria. He is against endless war in Afghanistan, but won`t set an
end date.

You know, he is on every side of his foreign policy position. But
even worse than that, even worse than the whole, you know, who is advising
him question, his basic world view is outlined in his foreign policy speech
today is that, you`re with us or against us. Does that sound familiar?
You know, the world is divided between Liberty and ternate. You know, this
isn`t the Second World War we are facing. It`s a more knew wants world.
It is a post 9/11, post Bush world. And if you think the Arab Spring can
be divided neatly between Liberty and tyranny, you are not paying
attention.

SHARPTON: Now Brian, I was struck today in his speech when he talked
about - he would commit himself to Middle East peace negotiations. Listen
to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I recommit America to the goal of a democratic prosperous
Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the Jewish
state of Israel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, what struck me about that is in the secret tape that
is going public where he talked about the 47 percent, he said that
negotiations won`t work. Let me show you this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway,
for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of
Israel, and these thorny issues and I say there is just no way. And so,
what you do is you move things along the best way you can. You hope for
some degree of stability, but you recognize that it is going to remain
unsolved problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So, I mean, it is like Richard says, it`s Romney versus
Romney. Who are the real -- who is the real Romney? Or is he pulled in so
many directions trying to played it in so many different audience is that
that there is no real Romney?

KATULIS: Well, I don`t think there is a real Romney. I mean, he`s in
full etch a tech mode as we have been talking about here. And today`s
Republican Party is more divided on foreign policy than it has been for
decades. So, it`s interesting that in the speech he gave today, he wanted
to sound like George Marshal, the general and the former secretary state in
defense.

He sounded a hell of a lot more like George W. Bush in terms of his
world view, as Richard pointed out. Good versus evil and other things.
Two specific things that highlight though.

One, he called for a Middle East nation building czar. That`s what he
wants you as taxpayers to spend your money on, to do nation building.

Second, he actually called the built more naval ships, ships that the
defense department and generals don`t even want. So I think a lot of
Americans have got to ask, yes, we`ve got a lead in the world but what in
the heck are we doing, proposing these sort of things that essentially
won`t make America stronger and safer in the long run and those are the
only two specifics that I can see that were really different from what
President Obama is actually doing.

SHARPTON: Now, Brian, you`ve used the word disarray about his foreign
policy. What do you mean by that?

KATULIS: Well, he doesn`t actually have clear positions on most
issues. And I think it`s reflective of the Republican Party today. You
know, you`ve got a party that essentially says, government spending doesn`t
create jobs except when it`s defense spending.

SHARPTON: Right.

KATULIS: But then you have tea party folks saying, well, we shouldn`t
be spending anything at all here. You have a Republican Party that really
doesn`t know what it stands for on what to do about the Middle East. And I
think it comes through in the candidate`s speech today. He doesn`t have
specifics about what he would do in Syria. He seems to hint that we would
go to war there but when pressed on it he doesn`t actually say, we`re going
to go there. So he actually has a lack of clarity, less than a month
before the election, about how he would lead.

SHARPTON: Let`s talk about that, Richard. Because I was struck by
his statements about Syria today when he talked about helping to arm
Syria`s opposition. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: In Syria, I`ll work with our partners to identify and
organize those member of the opposition who share our values and then
ensure that they obtain the arms they need to beat Assad`s tanks and
helicopters and fighter jets.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Work with our partners. Five people that share our values,
what does that mean? And then work to obtain that they have arms? What
does that mean?

WOLFFE: Well, to be honest, there`s no real difference between that
and the president`s position as well. The question is, how over are you
going to do this? And by the way, this, you can defeat Assad`s tank and
helicopters by supplying arms to this group of rebels. That`s not
realistic.

SHARPTON: Right.

WOLFFE: It is a level -- if you`re going to talk about leadership and
America`s leadership in the world, you have to admit that Syria`s defenses
are far superior to any of the countries that we`ve seen toppled so easily,
such as Libya, for instance.

So, you can`t just assert leadership by saying, I`m going to be your
leader. You have to say what you`re going to do and how it`s going to be
different from the leader that you are criticizing. That`s what we didn`t
see about Syria. Frankly, it is what we didn`t see today in what he said
about Iran either because he talks tough on Iran, not clear how anything,
anything he`s proposed would be anything different.

SHARPTON: And he does this, Brian, facing a president who has a
strong record on foreign policy. Let me show you what the president has
been saying.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Four years ago I told you I would end the war in Iraq and we
did. I said I would end the war in Afghanistan. We are. I said we would
focus on the people who actually attacked us on 9/11 and today Osama bin
Laden is no more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: In two weeks, Brian, they are going to have the foreign
policy debate. How does Romney and his disarray, your word, not mine --
though I agree with it -- how does he answer this?

KATULIS: Well, I think he probably continues to do what he does s.
He has used a lot of heavy rhetoric that implies that we`re not leading in
some sort of way, hints that we might start a couple more Middle Eastern
wars, hint that we are going increase defense spending and replay the
playbook that George W. Bush used.

Now, I get it. I get it that Romney has fumbled a lot of foreign
policy plays over the last years or so. But to me, it seems like a
desperation Hail Mary pass in his speech today and what he`s going to try
to do probably in the debate.

When you send it up against the record of a president who killed bin
Laden and dozens of other al-Qaeda operatives and then in the Middle East,
we have four leaders who are no longer there in the last three years who
are pushed out of office by their own people. So, I think we have a pretty
strong record, the president is running on and Romney a lot of rhetoric.

SHARPTON: Well, Brian and Richard, we have to leave it there. Thanks
to both of you for your time tonight.

KATULIS: Thank you.

WOLFFE: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, President Obama`s offensive started right after
walking off the debate stage and insiders say he won`t stop now.

Plus, tea party poll watching group is under fire for intimidation.
Congressman Cummings is fighting back.

And new early voting numbers in Ohio may spook the state`s secretary
of state. Stay with us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So your choice now in November is clear, you can
either vote for the guy who got rid of bin Laden or vote for the guy who
wants to get rid of big bird. It`s absolutely --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re still 29 days away from Election Day. But ballots
are being cast across the country at this very moment. This week,
California, Arizona, and Indiana kick off their early voting periods. They
join 34 other states already choosing their next president.

In Ohio, nearly 700,000 absentee ballots have been requested so far.
Thirty percent by Democrats, compared to 24 percent by Republicans. That`s
a positive sign for the president.

Early voting is a big deal in Ohio because of the state`s debacle on
Election Day back in 2004 when long lines at polling places prompted some
folks to go home instead of casting their ballot.

To fix that problem, Ohio expanded its early voting program and a
majority of those who voted early supported Barack Obama. The right wing
is determined to stop history from repeating itself. Leading the charge,
this man, Ohio`s republican Secretary of State Jon Husted. This year, he`s
fought to limit early voting hours, block weekend voting and fire election
officials who disagreed with him.

But on Friday, Husted suffered a big setback. A federal court
restored early voting for three days before Election Day. Husted is now
reviewing his legal options. But voter suppression isn`t just happening in
republican legislatures. It`s also happening in the street at polling
stations. So, there`s an investigation into voter intimidation. More,
next, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back with Governor Romney picking the wrong fight.
That`s right. Big Bird`s fighting back. He showed up on "Saturday Night
Live" telling Seth Myers about a million tweets he received and he`s
popping up at rallies mocking Mr. Romney`s policies in swing states like
Virginia and Florida. It`s just one of the many ways Governor Romney`s
boxed himself in. What`s he going to say about taxes, health care,
regulation?

Mr. Romney`s put himself in a box and President Obama knows it. With
29 days to go, and you can say Governor Romney is between Barack and a hard
place.

Joining me now is Jonathan Capehart, an opinion writer for "The
Washington Post" and an MSNBC contributor. And Margie Omero, democratic
strategist. Thanks to you both for being here tonight.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Thanks, Rev.

MARGIE OMERO, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Jonathan, it seems like there`s a lot of folks now on Mr.
Romney`s policies.

CAPEHART: Yes. Absolutely, Rev. Because, I mean, we`ve spent so
much time focused on his performance and that`s sort of the sugar high from
the debate on Wednesday but then you start focusing in on what he actually
said and there`s a lot there. As you said, he`s boxed himself in a corner.
You know, for instance, on his tax policy, on the $716 billion that he says
the president is cutting out of Medicare which is also in his running
mate`s own budget, just done in different ways, yes, he`s boxed himself in
a corner and I think a lot of Democrats hope and we`ve seen on the campaign
trail since the debate that the President is pushing back on a lot of
things that he didn`t push back on during the debate.

SHARPTON: Yes. I want to go there, Margie, because I said the night
of the debate that I couldn`t believe how many lies and misrepresentations
were said by Romney. But it seems the President now has been very
aggressive of Politico`s report that he`s determined to be aggressive and
since Thursday, we`ve seen the President on the offense. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: The real Mitt Romney has been
running around the country for the last year promising $5 trillion in tax
cuts to favor the wealthy, the fellow on stage last night said he didn`t
know anything about that.

(LAUGHTER)

My opponent, he`s doing a lot of -- a little tap dance at the debate
the other night. Trying to wake a lot of stuff he`s been saying for years.

When Governor Romney tried to give us his business advice about the
economy and said that we should let Detroit go bankrupt, we said, no
thanks, we`re not going to take that advice. We`ve reinvented a dying auto
industry that`s back on top of the world.

(APPLAUSE)

SHARPTON: So, Margie, the President seems like he`s very much in on
the offense. More aggressive and he even joke last night at a star-studded
event in Los Angeles that he wasn`t having a shining moment at the debate.
Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Everybody here, incredible professionals, they are such great
friends and they just perform flawlessly, night after night, I can`t always
say the same.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So he joked about his performance but he`s going hard on
the policies. Is that a winning formula, Margie?

OMERO: Absolutely. I mean, that`s why the President is usually net
favorable. While Mitt Romney has been net unfavorable this entire year.
Even new polls that have come out in the last couple of days that have
shown Romney doing better, even leading Obama, he`s still net unfavorable.
So, that kind of looseness that you`re seeing from the president on the
campaign trail, we`re just simply and never going to get from Romney.
That`s just not the kind of candidate he is.

And I think when you take all of that together combined with Mitt
Romney who has put himself in a corner not just with fact checkers but his
own parties, own campaign team that has to walk back his comments after
every time he speaks about health care --

SHARPTON: Well, he was actually fact checked by his own campaign,
Margie.

OMERO: Right. And even Newt Gingrich on "Meet The Press" said, well,
he`s clearly changed on taxes and his campaign has had to say repeatedly,
well, we`re not really for coverage for everybody with pre-existing
conditions, just people who already have coverage for their pre-existing
conditions. So, you know, he is inconsistent, he is inaccurate. And the
policies that he is selling are unpopular.

SHARPTON: Jonathan, though, all of these conflicting polls all over
the place, what does that mean?

CAPEHART: It means that everyone`s all over the place. Look, before
the debate, Rev, the President and Mitt Romney were in a statistical tie,
albeit the President was on top, 49 percent, 50 percent in some polls, with
Mitt Romney three or four points behind him but within the margin of error
of all those polls. The difference now is that it appears that in one
poll, in the pew poll, Mitt Romney is up, 49, 45 against the President but
in the Gallup seven-day daily tracking poll, the President is up 50 to 45,
if I have Mitt Romney`s number right in that poll. This race has been, is,
and will continue to be until Election Day a very close race. And so
either side can take heart in a poll that shows his or her candidate being
on top but, remember, this race is basically tied.

SHARPTON: Now, Margie, the vice presidential debate, the one and only
one, will be this Thursday night and Paul Ryan, the republican vice
presidential nominee, was questioning his weekend on what he was doing to
prepare for the debate. Here`s his response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How you feeling about the debate?

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What debate?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I hear there`s a big thing this week`s
coming up.

RYAN: Oh, yes. I better get ready for that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How`s your flopping going, Congressman?

RYAN: You know, I better get started. You just reminded me. No,
it`s going well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: What are you looking for in that debate, Margie, on
Thursday night?

OMERO: Well, first of all, Paul Ryan should focus on explaining the
math. That`s something that he dismissed when he was asked about it on FOX
News about a week or two ago.

SHARPTON: Right.

OMERO: And so, he should now find the time. He said he didn`t have
the time. Now, he should find the time to explain the math of his various
policies. I want to hear him talk about the 30 percent of the country that
he feels, wants to perpetuate the welfare state and I want to hear why he
thinks we should get rid of food for hungry children. I want to hear why
he thinks that is the way to grow our economy and get rid of Medicare for
seniors and other people who really mean help, education and so on as
opposed to cutting taxes for the wealthiest among us. That`s what I want
to hear and I think that`s what a lot of American people want to hear too.

SHARPTON: Jonathan, Politico reports this vice-presidential debate
Thursday could really matter and they question which Paul Ryan we`ll see.
They said, Congressman Ryan has a choice to make Thursday. Either stand by
the extreme positions he`s been the face of for years and that Governor
Romney has fully embraced or flat out deny their existence as Governor
Romney did in last week`s debate. Will this debate matter and which way do
you think Ryan will go?

CAPEHART: I do think the debate will matter because I`m that ticket
between Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan, it`s Congressman Ryan who has
specifics. He has an actual budget that Vice President Biden and
reporters, quite frankly, can point to, to say, in your budget, house
budget committee chairman, you propose this, you propose that. Where are
you now? And the bind that Congressman Ryan is in, is that, he`s not the
top of the ticket.

Governor Romney is and Governor Romney said famously in that "60
Minutes" interview after they were chosen that, you know, Paul Ryan has his
plan but I`m the candidate. I have my own plan. Paul Ryan is going to
have to figure out how he can talk about what he believes and not run afoul
of wherever Governor Romney might be on any of these budgetary issues, and
especially Medicare.

It could be very interesting and very important given where we are at
this stage, 29 days out. Jonathan Capehart and Margie Omero, thank you
both for your time tonight.

OMERO: Thank you.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Coming up, the new investigation into a group accused of
intimidating voters at the poll. Plus, the folks at SNL brought the humor
but there`s a serious point to be made. That`s ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back with a story of a right wing group accused of
intimidating people into not voting. The group was called True the Vote.
They first made headlines in 2010 when they were investigated by the
Justice Department for allegedly intimidating voters in Houston, Texas.
True The Vote poll watchers were accused of hovering over voters and
getting into election workers` faces and blocking or disrupting lines of
voters.

True the Vote resurface this summer during the recall election for
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. A reports said that quote, "Many students
reported being challenged by True The Vote poll watchers. And now, the
group claims it is training a million people to watch the polls in
November. Who are they? They grew out of a Tea Party movement in Texas
and now they`ve appointed themselves to be the poll police. Here`s what
their elections coordinator said earlier this year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL OUREN, COORDINATOR, "TRUE THE VOTE": For any of you that had
seen qualified, capable poll observers in action, it`s kind of like driving
down the road and looking up in that rearview mirror and seeing that
there`s an officer of the law following you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: People exercising their right to vote should feel like the
police are watching them? That`s offensive and maybe illegal. And now the
questions about the True the Vote have reached the halls of Congress.

Joining me now is Congressman Elijah Cummings, democrat for Maryland
and ranking member of the Oversight Committee. He just launched an
investigation into True the Vote. In a letter to their president, he`s
demanding information about activities that, quote, "may be evidence of
illegal voter suppression." And he says, the efforts, quote, "Could amount
to a criminal conspiracy." Congressman Cummings, thanks for joining me.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: it`s good to be with you,
Reverend Al.

SHARPTON: What concerns you the most about True the Vote?

CUMMINGS: Well, first of all, Reverend, I believe that voting is a
fundamental right to be exercised by all eligible voters and it is not to
be limited to few as a privilege. And anybody who tries to stand in the
way of a person voting, I think they`re doing something that is offensive
and certainly unpatriotic and possibly even criminal. And what True the
Vote does, the most recent efforts have been to send letters to local
election offices challenging people`s addresses. And then mainly zero in
on students, African-Americans, people who would normally vote democratic.
They also zero in on Hispanics and what they are doing is challenging
legitimate voters.

As a matter of fact, just this morning, Reverend Sharpton in the
supermarket, I ran into a lady 74 years old who has been voting from the
same address for 50 years and now suddenly she`s being challenged. And
that -- not only do they do these kinds of efforts but the same kind of
efforts that you talked to us about a little bit earlier, that is
intimidating people at the polls. They claim that they are guarding the
vote. But we know that it`s more than that. This is clearly a case of
voter suppression. And we just simply cannot have that. We are a better
than that. We are better nation than that.

SHARPTON: Now, what we confine about True the Vote, is they are
backed by the Tea Party, they`ve sued states for not purging voter rolls.

CUMMINGS: That`s right.

SHARPTON: And they plan to train one million poll watchers by
Election Day.

CUMMINGS: With the sole intent of intimidating people. We ought to
be making it easier for people -- to vote. People should not have to go to
a voting place, Reverend Sharpton, in fear and to be harassed. And then
basically one of the things that this investigation is going to do is we`re
trying to find out exactly, for example, what kind of information are they
basing their challenges on? We also would like to look into how do they
select the various places that they are going into poll watches, you would
say.

And it would be interesting to see whether those are in suburban
areas, are they in urban areas? We would suggest that most of them are in
urban areas and they have made -- they have business to claim that they are
trying to keep the voting process legitimate when, in fact, they are
suppressing the vote.

SHARPTON: Now, it`s interesting who they hang around with because Tom
Fitton, the president of the right-wing Judicial Watch, was at the True the
Vote event in May talking about Obama registering, quote, "a food stamp
army." And let me show you what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM FITTON, JUDICIAL WATCH: I feel the Obama gang is setting
themselves up to steal the elections, if possible. The Obama people want
everyone to get registered through the Department of Motor Vehicles or
public assistance or food stamp offices. He wants to register the food
stamp army to vote for him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, this was at their May event. True the Vote may have
been saying, they`re having a guess saying, the President is signing a food
stamp army.

CUMMINGS: I`m very saddened to hear that statement. I would hope
that every single American would want every single American to exercise
their right to vote. I mean, this is a part of our democracy. I often say
that this is a one day, Reverend, when the janitor at a company has the
same power as the president of that company. That one day every four
years. And so I`m so sorry to hear that comment. But, again, we`re trying
to -- True the Vote has made itself the watch dog so to speak. And now,
the watchdog has got somebody watching them.

SHARPTON: Right.

CUMMINGS: And so, we are hopeful that True the Vote by the way of the
President has already agreed to come in and provide testimony and documents
for us. So we`re looking forward to hearing from them.

SHARPTON: All right. We`ll follow this up. I`m out of time but we
will stay on this story. Congressman Elijah Cummings, thanks for your time
tonight.

CUMMINGS: Thank you, Reverend Sharpton.

SHARPTON: Coming up, "Saturday Night Live" takes on MSNBC. That`s
next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Finally tonight, they`ve done it again. "Saturday Night
Live" did a skit about MSNBC`s debate coverage over the weekend. Take a
look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Reverend Sharpton, we`ll start with you, how do
you think the President did?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Well, I think he did bad. The Obama was poor and
in bad altitude. You see, Denver, Colorado was a mile high. Now, there`s
no way to know for sure how many feet that is.

(LAUGHTER)

But it could be upwards of a million. Now, Obama is from Hawaii,
which is a mile below the earth. So for him, speaking of Colorado, it was
like being flown two miles straight into the air and having to give a
speech in outer space.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Outer space, about as funny as a four-car garage. And
there was more.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I believe that on the night of the debate, Mitt
Romney and Barack Obama switched bodies. Perhaps. And this is just a
theory, perhaps they were exchanging pleasantries backstage and Mitt said,
man, it`s not easy raising five boys and Barack said, you should try
raising two girls and they laughed and at the exact same time they said,
what I wouldn`t give to switch places. Lightning strike, just like that --
Obama got no game.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Switching vice, funny stuff, we love the show and we love a
good joke, of course. Mitt Romney, well, he tried to get away with the
actual debate. It wasn`t too funny. And I said it would cause him
problems.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

No doubt, Mitt Romney was at his best tonight but its best is not good
enough. When you take what he said tonight and compare it to his
proposals, to what he has said, to what he`s represented, to the Ryan plan,
it does not match what he said tonight. So, how are we going to be
impressed with someone that made a very passionate and a very articulate
series of lies tonight?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

There`s been so much focus on the President`s debate performance but I
continue to believe that Governor Romney did serious damage to his
candidacy that night. He boxed himself in on tax cuts, on health care, on
regulation. This was an "SNL" worthy performance. If my friends upstairs
are listening, they ought to let Governor Romney audition. Look at that.
He`d fit right in. I hear he really nails the impersonation of a moderate.

"SNL" made me laugh but the last laugh will be on Governor Romney
because he will find out on election night that when it comes to Medicare
and Medicaid and Social Security, when it comes to continuing to give tax
cuts to the rich and then telling middle class and poor people, we have to
have shared sacrifice when we did not have shared prosperity, he will find
out when the votes are counted. And when the results are announced that
American people laugh but when it comes to our future we`re not joking.

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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