updated 10/11/2012 12:27:28 PM ET 2012-10-11T16:27:28

POLITICS NATION
October 10, 2012

Guests: Ryan Grim; Nia-Malika Henderson; Irin Carmon, Tad Devine, Ana Marie
Cox, Dick Harpootlian, Neera Tanden


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

Tonight`s lead, a question of character. The issue of abortion is a
wrenching personal one for most Americans. It deals with issues that are
fundamental and profound. Both in terms of personal feelings and public
policy.

But we now have a candidate for the highest office in the land. Mitt
Romney, for whom the whole question of abortion seems negotiable. It`s
just another bargaining chip, a moveable position that changes whenever is
politically convenient. Here`s the latest from an interview from an Iowa
newspaper.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Do you intend to pursue any legislation
specifically regarding abortion?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There`s no legislation with
regard to abortion that I`m familiar with that would become part of my
agenda.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: A new Romney promise. No new abortion laws. Is Mitt to
reassure women that he`s really not going after their rights? His campaign
led it throw the right wing national review that quote, "governor Romney
would, of course, support legislation aimed at providing greater
protections for life." This is the second time this year the campaign
corrected their candidate on abortion. Back in August, Romney said
abortion should be legal in several situations, including when the health
of the mother is in danger.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Now, I`m in favor of abortion being legal in the case of rape
and incest and the health and life of the mother.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But then his campaign walked it back, saying, quote, "he
doesn`t support an exception to protect the health of a pregnant woman."
In all this that we`re seeing, is it making your head spin? Well, it
should. Because all year Mitt Romney has been clearly, severely anti-
choice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Do I believe the Supreme Court should overturn Roe V. Wade?
Yes, I do. Planned Parenthood, we are going to get of that. I`m pro-life
and will intent if I`m president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But now, Romney is contradicting all that because with just
weeks to go, he badly needs the women vote. He`s down 22 points among
women in Ohio, a must-win state for him. So Romney decided he must run
from his party`s extreme view on abortion and there`s so much to run from.

GOP legislatures enacted 92 anti-abortion ledgers in 24 states last
year, the most in nearly three decades. And this year, 45 states have
introduced 472 measures restricting a woman`s right to choose. No wonder
Romney`s trying to change his views. He`s showing once again he will say
anything to win this election, even if it`s on an issue that most people
consider a serious issue, a fundamental morality and principle.

Joining me now is Joan Walsh, editor at large for salon.com and an
MSNBC political analyst and Irin Carmon, a reporter for salon.com. Thank
you both for your time tonight.

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

IRIN CARMON, REPORTER, SALON.COM: Thanks.

SHARPTON: You know, Joan, this is breath taking even for Romney.

WALSH: It really is. You know, I have a tiny bit of sympathy for his
campaign, Reverend Al though, because they are like the people who follow
around the parade with the pooper scooper. And they cleaned up after the
elephant every time they make their mess. Every time he says something
like that, you could -- I mean, I feel like I`ve got into a rhythm now.
He`s said something kind of controversial, you know, wait, count one, two,
three. And the resolve is going to be out there saying he didn`t mean
that. Somebody else is going to talk to give a statement to the national
review. He didn`t mean that either. Whether it`s the pre-existing thing
or choice. I mean, it really is the expert of the amount of legislation
coming down the pike. And also, what Romney knows about that legislation
because he framed it in a kind of wriggle room way.

SHARPTON: Right.

WALSH: But he actually, still lying. Even though it seems to give
himself an out, even with all of those outs, he`s still lying. He knows
he`s losing with women and he knows --.

SHARPTON: Well, that`s the point. It`s like he`ll do anything to
close the deal. It`s like he`s still in the venture capital business,
close the deal, say anything.

And Erin, the president is calling him on this. Let me show you what
we just got in, what the president said in an interview today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He thinks that it is
appropriate for politicians to inject themselves in those decisions.
Governor Romney has made it very clear that if a bill comes to his desk
that overturns Roe versus Wade, that he will be fully supported of that.
And he said, I will point justices that the overturn both Roe versus Wade.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: President Obama is calling him on what he said, he would
sign a bill to overturn Roe versus Wade. He says he would put people on
the court that would lean against that. I mean, the facts are the facts,
Irin.

CARMON: Absolutely. I mean, I think Romney was - I don`t even want
to say this ingenious, Romney was lying when he said he wasn`t aware of any
legislation that on his agenda. HE has previously said that he would
support an unconstitutional 20-leak bands (INAUDIBLE). So I mean, -- and
he chose a running mate in which he basically said that he was going to own
the 38 bills that Paul Ryan co-sponsored in the house to limit reproduction
rights including access to birth control. So that`s absolutely false.

And the president is absolutely right to point out to the Supreme
Court, we are basically one vote away from overturning Roe v. Wade. This
can`t be underscored enough. We are one ailing elderly wonderful justice
away from completely changing the way abortion law and at the way safe and
access, safe and legal abortion access in this country.

SHARPTON: No. I was sitting in the court today on another case that
I`m talking about later in the show. And it`s frightening how close we are
to seeing where can go and the next president may decide one or two of
those seats.

But Joan, let me get back to this issue. The thing, and I started
with this, is the almost shameless shifting by Romney. Because if you look
in the 1990s and early 2000s, he was pro choice. Let me show you some
evidence of that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this
country.

I will preserve and protect a woman`s right to choose.

So when asked, will I preserve and protect the woman`s right to
choose, I make an unequivocal answer, yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, in fairness to Mitt, he says he saw the light after
that. He changed his position. He grew. Fine. But then, now he`s going
back on me. What are we seeing here? I`m a minister. I`m used to
converts. But I mean, do they go back and forth?

WALSH: They don`t usually go back and forth to zero. They usually -
they change upsides and stay there.

No, I don`t think he has any convictions. I mean, the late Ted
Kennedy famously called him multiple choice Mitt, when it came to the issue
of abortion. And even more tragically, he used to say he was pro choice
because he had a young relative and keen and die of a botched illegal
abortion. And he used to talk about her and talk about that`s why this is
such a personal issue to him. And now, he doesn`t talk about her, he
doesn`t talk about that, and he swings like rubber band on what you
described correctly as often a very difficult and private issue for women
and their families.

SHARPTON: But Irin, one thing that is not fluctuating is this 2012
GOP party platform, which is the most anti-woman that I`ve seen. No
abortions in case of rape or incest. They support a human life amendment
that gives protection to fetuses and would ban many form of birth control.
They support mandatory ultrasound. They officially endorsed the medically
unsupported claim that fetuses can feel pain before they are viable. This
is the platform of his party that they did not denounce.

CARMON: I think that the anti-choice movement has basically been
accepting some incremental changes but right now especially because Romney
has swung so much, I think they have really demanded a loyalty pledge for
him. And I really don`t think that someone that has changed their
positions so many times is going to be able to stand up to the extremists
in their party. I mean, even say you had Paul Ryan saying our positions
are the same. You had Tony Perkins, Bobby Jindal, Bob McDonald, all of
them saying he`s a pro-life president. I mean, I think he just gets so
used to saying what he thinks people want to hear that help even over
status.

SHARPTON: And McDonald is the governor in Virginia who is going to do
the ultrasound. You have Ryan who co-sponsored with Akin the legislation
that really, talking about Akin, he`s now beginning to get mainstream
Republican support despite the despicable thing that he said in his race
against McCaskill. Let me show you in that race, McCaskill has come out
and put an ad out that really shows who Akin is and then I want to talk
about the Akin aspect of the Romney.

WALSH: Right.

SHARPTON: Let me show you this ad by Claire McCaskill on Akin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DIANA: I`m a Republican and a pro life mother and a rape survivor.
In the hospital I was offered emergency contraception because of my
personal beliefs, I declined. Here`s what else I believe. No woman should
be denied that choice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now that`s an effective ad. And when you look at the fact
that Ryan and Akin are two of a kind, Paul Ryan, the vice presidential
candidate chosen by Mitt Romney and Todd Akin co-sponsored a bill called,
the no taxpayer funded abortion act that would limit what would be
considered rape, saying funds could only be used for quote "forcible rape,"
which has been the controversy around Akin.

WALSH: Right. And you know, Paul Ryan absolutely supported that and
I think --

SHARPTON: Co-sponsored it.

WALSH: Co-sponsored it, not just supported it. Co-sponsored it
before it was amended to change the language. Supported that very
language. And you know, this is what is so incredible, that now the anti-
choice people are so -- they smell victory and they are letting Romney get
away with this flip-flopping. So instead of calling him on the carpet and
saying, what do you mean? They are all saying, we all know what he meant
because we know he`s going to be a pro life president. They are shameless.

CARMON: The moment that they think that he`s going to win, that you
know, once he`s in, I think that they think they can have a claim on him
especially with the Supreme Court. That is historically where they`ve got
their absolute victories.

SHARPTON: Scary. Joan Walsh and Irin Carmon, thanks to both of you
for your time tonight.

Coming up, no more Mr. Nice guy. President Obama is getting revved up
for the next debate and says he`s learned from the last one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Governor Romney had a good night. I had a bad night.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: How bad?

OBAMA: Well, it`s not the first time I`ve had a bad night. If you
have a bad game, you just move on. You look forward to the next one and it
makes you that much more determined.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Plus, shifty business. Now the Romney folks are lying
about lying. We have the tape to prove them wrong.

And putting profits over people, Romney`s got a big China problem.
And it`s already hurting him in Ohio.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Mitt Romney ripping the president about China but we`re now
learning Romney has major investments there. Mitt hypocrisy. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Governor Romney was in Ohio today again talking jobs,
trying to connect with the middle class but he has a big problem. Here`s
the secret he`s trying to hide. Take a look at this. The economy is
getting better. The jobless rate in Ohio is falling. Now down to 7.2
percent. So Mr. Economy has become Mr. Scare tactics. Look at how Ohio,
he had comes the threat from China.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: They are taking jobs. And we have been looking the other way
too long. We will compete with China and we will win with the most
productive innovative people in the world. That we will not allow them to
keep taking our jobs on unfair basis.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Stop taking our jobs. Yes. He`s vowing to stop what
President Obama couldn`t. It`s time to crack down. It`s time to get
tough. It`s time to stop the madness.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: China has cheated. I will stop them from stealing American
jobs. China has been cheating.

We are going to stop. But, we have to crack down on cheaters like
China.

When someone cheats like China has been cheating, we are going to stop
it. We are going to crack down cheaters that are stealing our jobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Cheating and stealing. OK, America, are you ready for the
brick wall of reality Romney ran into today?

An amazing report reveals Mr. Romney has invested over $2 million in
funds that own the kind of Chinese companies he`s promising to crack down
on. One of them ships 500 jobs to China. How is that for a crackdown?
How is that for getting tough?

The outsourcer in chief is still cashing in. The GOP has lost control
of this jobs debate and this won`t help the case.

Joining me now is Nia-Malika Henderson, national political reporter
for "the Washington Post," and Ryan Grim, the Washington bureau chief for
"the Huffington Post".

Ryan, let me start with you. Mitt Romney hammers the president on
China, yet, he is making money on sending jobs to China. How do you see
this playing out in Ohio?

RYAN GRIM, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, HUFFINGTON POST: You know, it
depends on how Joe Biden and Barack Obama handle it in the coming debates,
I think. Because you know, you can write as many stories as you want
pointing these things out, but until it`s presented to people on their
televisions and put right in their face, it`s hard for it, you know, they
just don`t grasp it unless it`s happening right in their neighborhood. You
know, right in your buy in Illinois, Bain capital owns Sensate (ph)
Technology which they are literally closing at the end of this year and
shipping all of the jobs, about 170 jobs over to China.

The workers there have been pleading with Romney to use his influence
over the company to stop this. You know, this is 170 jobs that could be
saved. Instead, he has given all kinds of answers. First he said he
didn`t know anything about it. Now, he said that they can just do, you
know, it`s a business decision he can`t get involved in. It is a blind
trust, et cetera. He`s made about a million dollars at least that we know
of from this one deal because he has giving that money -- .

SHARPTON: That`s only one deal. But Nia-Malika, the "New York Times"
got its hands on a confidential prospectus for a Bain funded Romney
invested in. It touts the fact that China`s manufacturing wages are 85
percent lower than American wages and it says China is a good investment
because it will soon surpass the U.S. as the world`s largest economy. This
is the sales pitch in these confidential perspectives, Nia?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: And
you`ve seen the Obama campaign try to get at that these Bain-China ties in
some of their ads. It`s hard to do on 30 seconds, but I think this does
give them more ammunition.

Whether or not they want to get in the weeds on this in front of 70,
60 mill people, however many people will tune in for this debate, it is
hard to tell, but certainly, they have been highlighting some of these
issues in your wall since that they say that Romney has just been an
outsourcer of a point to some of the comments he made about a China deal
with regard to tires and a comment that he made in his book, "no apology."

So, this is I think breaking through. And I think it`s easily
understood among people in the Midwest who for years have dealt with the
issue of outsourcing, particularly to China. And, I think, that`s why you
see a lot of the gaps in terms of favorability among Mitt Romney and among
Barack Obama. That is a gap, I think, that is closing.

You first saw Mitt Romney out on the campaign trail today with Chris
Christie trying to come across as a regular guy. But, I do think of this
argument that Bain Capital and his record there and that he supported
outsourcing has been effective on the ground.

SHARPTON: Now, you`re there. You covered this campaign and you were
there in Ohio, a state that was impacted with the auto bailout and the
others. On the ground, how is this affecting him with Ohioans, because he
needs Ohio to win.

HENDERSON: That`s right. Eighteen electoral votes, if you look at
the auto industry, one in ten jobs is connected to the auto industry in
Ohio and in the Midwest, many more jobs. And that`s why you see these
gaps. I think it`s down to four percent. It had been as high as eight
percent beforehand.

But when you talk to Democrats and you talk to folks on the ground in
Ohio, there is a sense that the economy is getting better. It`s about 8.6
percent in January 2009, had rocketed up to 10.6 percent. It`s 7.2 percent
now. So, I think Obama is trying to run on that trend and you have Romney,
of course, trying to really say that these turnarounds in terms of the
economy are really due to Republican economic policies put in place by
Kasich, a difficult argument, I think, to make. But so far he`s been able
to close this gap that we saw that had been up to eight percent, according
to some polls.

SHARPTON: And is causing problems, Ryan, even the Republican Senate
candidate in Ohio against Sherrod Brown, he had a little problem, first
dealing with the Romney`s let Detroit go bankrupts stance. And then, he
refused to answer whether he would have supported the auto bailout. Let me
show you this exchange.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Was the federal government right in
stepping in to bailout Chrysler and GM?

JOSH MANDEL, SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think it probably depends
on who you ask. If you talk to -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: It was, do we save Chrysler and GM, what
do you do?

MANDEL: Again, this is a false choice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: So you would --

MANDEL: It needs to be done under the umbrella of the free enterprise
system.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: As we sit here today, was that a good
vote or a bad vote?

MANDEL: I personally would have had trouble with stripping these
hardworking --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That`s Mandel who is running against Sherrod Brown. I
mean, it`s almost painful to watch him, you know, having to go to try to
figure out lose ways of ducking the answers there, Ryan.

GRIM: Yes. I mean, his entire campaign has been difficult to watch.
You know, it`s just been completely disastrous. You know, he was expected
- you know, the Republican expected to pick this seat up. Instead, he`s
getting beat pretty handedly at this point. But you know, he is a free
market ideologue, so it`s hard for him to grapple with the fact that this
intervention with the auto industry actually helped and that`s what is
helping the president there.

And you know, and I think that voters do generally understand that its
businessmen like Mitt Romney who are the kinds of people who led this
offshoring over the last 20 to 30 years when private equity buys the
factory in your neighborhood, that`s when you gulf. You know, that`s not
like, oh, great. Bain capital just bought the factory in our town. I
think we`re going to be OK.

No, that`s when people really start worrying. And so, you know, it`s
not hard for people to go from -- oh, he opposed this bailout and he has
all of these companies step up in the Cayman Islands. He has always
investments in China. Yes, that`s related to the decline in manufacturing
here in the last 20, 30 years. It`s not hard for them to connect those
dots and their right to do it.

SHARPTON: Nia-Malika Henderson and Ryan Grim, thank you both for your
time tonight.

HENDERSON: Thank you, Rev.

GRIM: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, this is a new one. The Romney campaign now
not telling the truth about not telling the truth. I`m laughing but it
hurts.

But, first, Republicans are back to their old tricks, playing politics
with a national tragedy. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back. Republicans on Capitol Hill have turned the
deadly attacks of the American consulate in Libya into a political stunt.

Today, Republican Congressman Darrell Issa opened a hearing to review
security issues surrounding those attacks. But the committee`s top
democrat made clear what this phony investigation is all about.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: Although the chairman claims, we
are pursuing this investigation on a, quote, "bipartisan basis," that has
simply not been the case. The chairman has withheld documents that were
provided to the committee which is in violation of the house rules.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Violating the rules to score some cheap political points
against the Obama administration. Look, they`ve got a big problem on the
issue. Since 2011, they cut nearly half a billion dollars from embassy
security and at more cuts plan for next year. Secretary state Hillary
Clinton warned last year how devastating those cuts could be.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: The scope of the proposed house
cuts is massive. The truth is, that cuts of that level will be detrimental
to America`s national security.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It`s a mess for Republicans. But Mitt Romney isn`t making
it any better. For the past two days, he`s been sharing this story on the
trail. As part of an effort to make himself seem more compassionate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I`ve met some wonderful people. One was a former Navy SEAL.
And Glen Doherty, if you can imagine how shocked I was to learned that he
was one of the two navy, former navy SEALS killed in Benghazi just a couple
of weeks ago.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Today, Glen Doherty`s mother demanded that Mitt Romney
stop. She told a Boston TV station, quote, "I don`t trust Romney. He
should make my son`s death part of his political agenda. It`s wrong to use
these brave, who wanted freedom for all to degrade Obama."

This afternoon the Romney campaign announced they wouldn`t use that
story on the campaign trail again. Glen Doherty`s mother didn`t want her
son`s death use for a political agenda. I think the American people feel
the same way.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Governor Romney`s campaign has made some downright head
scratching arguments but this latest one takes the cake. Here`s Ann
Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: The other side said, you know, oh, he lied his
way through that all debate.

ANN ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY`S WIFE: I mean, lied about what? This is
something that he`s been saying all along. This is what he believes. I
man, it`s sort of like someone that, you know, in the stand box that like
lost the game and they are just going to kick sand in someone`s face and
say, you liar.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The President is like a child kicking stand? Now that`s
bad but this is really what struck me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANN ROMNEY: Lied about what? This is something that he`s been saying
all along. This is what he believes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Something he`s been saying all along? So, that means he`s
been saying this about taxes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. GOV. MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will not reduce
the share paid by high-income individuals. I know that you and your
running mate keep saying that and I know it`s a popular thing to say with a
lot of people but it`s just not the case.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It`s not the case. The answer was on the up and up, right?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: There were so many misrepresentations that it`s going to take
me a while. Number one, I said today that we`re going to cut taxes on
everyone across the country by 20 percent, including the top one percent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Huh? Well, that`s odd. But the tax issue was probably a
fluke. Let`s try his answer on regulation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Regulation is essential. You can`t have a free market work
if you don`t have regulation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It`s essential. So essential that he`s actually said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: This President has enacted job killing regulations. I`ll
eliminate them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Regulation is so essential that it must be eliminated. But
don`t worry, he was playing it straight on coverage for pre-existing
conditions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Actually, it`s a lengthy description but, number one, pre-
existing conditions are covered under my plan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It`s a lengthy description. But the bottom line is pre-
existing conditions are covered, right?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: People with pre-existing conditions, as long as they have
been insured before, they are going to be able to continue to have
insurance.

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": Well, supposed, what if they were
never insured.

ROMNEY: Well, if they are 45 years old and they show up and they say,
I want insurance because I`ve got a heart disease, hey, guys, we can`t play
the game like that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The governor is right about one thing, you can`t play the
game like that. You can`t change who you are when you are running for
president.

Joining me now is democratic strategist Tad Devine, he was a senior
adviser for the Kerry and Gore campaigns. And Ana Marie Cox, Washington
correspondent for The Guardian. Thanks to both of you for joining us.

TAD DEVINE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Thank you, Reverend.

ANA MARIE COX, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE GUARDIAN: Good to be
here.

SHARPTON: Tad, let me go to you first. You have advised a lot of
politicians. How do you go after someone like Mitt Romney who seems
allergic to the truth?

DEVINE: Well, you have to be relentless. I mean, first of all, it`s
not just a partisan who is saying that Mitt Romney is not telling the
truth. It`s the independent fact checkers, it`s the members of the press
who are looking at it. It`s the think tanks that are looking at his
policies very closely. You have to relentlessly go after it. You have to
make sure that the public knows.

Now, unfortunately, the debate last week, Romney told lies to America
in front of 70 million people and then his aides went out on the floor and
said, well, he didn`t really mean a lot of that stuff. So, you have to
make sure that he`s called to the mat. I`m sure the Vice President is
going to do that in the next debate as the President as well.

SHARPTON: Now, Ana Marie, former President Bill Clinton was in Las
Vegas last night and he hit the trail saying that Governor Romney`s debate
makeover impressed him in so many words. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. PRES. BILL CLINTON (D), UNITED STATES: I had a different
reaction to that first debate than a lot of people did. I mean, I thought
-- I thought, wow, here`s old moderate Mitt.

(LAUGHTER)

Where you been, boy? I miss you all these last few years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, President Clinton -- it was funny but it was
straight to the point.

COX: It was. Although, you know, if anyone knows what an image
makeover looks like, it`s probably President Clinton. On the other hand,
it would take a lot to impress him. So, Mitt did win on that account. I
think that when we talk about him having won that debate, it is on
appearances. It`s on his ability to tailor himself rather perfectly for
the audience that was watching which I think his campaign knew it would be
a very different audience that had been watching him for the past two
years.

Because to put for us a very different Mitt Romney. As sort of we`ve
been saying, I was actually thinking and we heard that Ann Romney quote
about, this is what he`s saying all along. I can`t think of a single thing
that Mitt Romney that Mitt Romney has been saying, quote, "all along."

SHARPTON: That`s true.

COX: Yes, that he`s still saying now, besides maybe his name. You
know -- I mean, there`s really been no consistency whatsoever in his
platform or what he tells people. So, I am really curious as to what
exactly she is referring to when she said, this is something he`s been
saying all along.

SHARPTON: Well, Ana Marie, that hasn`t even been consistent because
his name is Willard at some point, he changed that to Mitt. But Tad
picking up on that point, let me show you for people that think I just went
at the top of this with a few thing. Let me show you some more of the
makeover of Mr. Romney. Let me show you a real genius of makeover.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: The key to great schools, great teachers. So, I reject the
idea that I don`t believe in great teachers or more teachers.

He says we need fireman, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not
get the message in Wisconsin? The American people did, it`s time for us to
cut back on government.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

I will not reduce the taxes paid by high-income Americans.

So the top rate for instance would go from 35 to 28.

What we did in Massachusetts is a model for the nation.

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: So you`re saying on camera and other
places that at times you thought it would be a model for the nation.

ROMNEY: You`re wrong, Bret.

BAIER: No.

ROMNEY: No, the tape out there -- continue to read the tape.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, just blatant things that He says the exact
opposite. But, Tad, the politics is what I`m trying to get out of you. Is
it bad politics to aggressively go after him and show the man is just
outright lying, going back and forward, is it the wrong political thing to
do? Why are they just nailing him with this stuff?

DEVINE: Well, no, it`s a right thing to do. And I think voters, if
the proof is presented to them vividly, I think they are going to react to
it. I mean, the fact is, Mitt Romney has got now way with it. He got away
with it in Massachusetts when he was elected governor, as a progressive,
and then ran from his own policies. He got away with it in the nominating
process for president. And thinks he can get away with it in this
campaign.

And I think what has to be done to the Obama campaign, other people,
the press as well is that, this guy has to be made accountable for his own
record and his own position on issues. I mean, I went on his website today
and he has on his website today. Nine tax cuts, eight of them are for very
wealthy people, that`s where it stands today, and he needs to be held
accountable for his policies, his record, his statements. I think if he
is, voters are going to really get disgusted because the one thing they
hate more than anything else is a phony.

SHARPTON: Now, can Biden bring that point home Ana Marie? Is Biden
the guy that can really take that shot and hit the bull`s eye?

COX: I think he can. And I think that if there`s one thing that some
of us really love about Joe Biden is he is he`s very plain spoken, let`s
say. I think he can be the person to deliver those hard truths to Paul
Ryan and I think in some ways, it is going to be perfectly set up for
people that want Biden to do this kind of delivery. Because Paul Ryan,
bless his heart, I think actually has a harder time lying than Mitt Romney
does.

He actually thinks what he says, he actually believes in what he has
to say which is, you know, a fault in some politicians but I think Joe
Biden will be able to sort of talk to Paul Ryan hopefully about the actual
substantive issues to which, you know, Paul Ryan`s responses are
incredibly, if he accurately reflects the policies that he says, that he
and Mitt Romney agree on. Their unpopular policies. If Biden can sort of
peg Ryan to these policies that Romney and Ryan have been talking about, at
least up until recently, then I think that could be a win for Democrats.

SHARPTON: Doesn`t that really put Ryan in a bind, Tad, where he has
to try and defend the top of his ticket but at the same time protect his
own future if, in fact, he`s not elected vice president?

DEVINE: Yes, I think it`s very difficult for Congressman Ryan. He`s
going to have to lie about two sets of records, not just one. I mean, the
truth is that the Ryan plan, the Ryan`s proposal, budget proposals was
being attacked even before it was picked. After it was picked, Romney
affirmed that he would go along with it includes turning Medicare into a
voucher program, cuts in education, cuts across the board.

And I think, you know, if Ryan is going to try to run away from that,
I think he`s going to have a hard time. Because Joe Biden understands
these policies. He was in the room when they were negotiating. And I
think he`s going to confront Ryan with the truth of his policies, with the
truth of the Romney record. And I think that`s the confrontation frankly
that not just the Democratic Party is looking for but the nation is looking
for.

SHARPTON: Tad Devine and Ana Marie Cox, thank you both for your time
this evening.

DEVINE: Thank you.

COX: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, about that debate, President Obama says, he just
had a bad night. More on what the President is saying and what he`s
planning for round two. Don`t miss it.

And affirmative action heads to the Supreme Court. And I was inside
as the drama played out. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back. The presidential race is tied. A new Gallup
poll today shows it`s exactly even, with President Obama and Mitt Romney
tied at 48 percent. Just minutes ago, the President talked about the first
debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: Governor Romney had a good
night. I had a bad night.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: How bad?

OBAMA: Well, it`s not the first time I`ve had a bad night but I think
what`s important is that the fundamentals of what this race is about
haven`t changed. Governor Romney went to a lot of trouble to try to hide
what his positions are. If you have a bad game, you just move on, you look
forward to the next one and it makes you that much more determined. The
difference between this and sports is that the stakes are so high.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: We knew this race would be close. The question is, how
will we respond?

Joining me now is Dick Harpootlian, chairman of the South Carolina
Democratic Party, and Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American
Progress. First, thank you both for being here.

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Thank you.

DICK HARPOOTLIAN, S.C. DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIR: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Neera, today you cautioned Obama supporters to stop
freaking out. So, where do you see things now moving forward?

TANDEN: You know, I actually think that if you look at the numbers,
even on Gallup, the President took a hit to his numbers from the debate
performance, no question about it, but it does seem like he`s coming back a
little bit. You said, the President was five points up among registered
voters. Today, that was up from yesterday. So, I think the race is coming
back to a pre-debate level. And what I think really doesn`t make sense is
for Democrats to believe that this race is somehow over when we have four
weeks and three debates left.

SHARPTON: Dick, when you look at the president and how he`s assessing
things, let me show you what he said in an interview just released. Watch
this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: No doubt that he made a good sales pitch. Now, the problem is
the product is not going to work.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Is it possible you handed him the election that
night?

OBAMA: No.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: You`re going to win?

OBAMA: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He says, he`s going to win. What do you say, Dick?

HARPOOTLIAN: Well, you know, I met Barack Obama in 2007 when he came
to South Carolina and campaigned with him and if you remember, he got his
brains beat out in New Hampshire and came to South Carolina after suffering
a tremendous defeat. And I saw then what I`m seeing now and that is, a
revitalized resurgent candidate, he didn`t like it spanked in New Hampshire
and he didn`t like it in spanked in the debate the other night. And he`s
beginning to call it as aggressively as all of us want him to do and I
think he`s going to win this race and I think he`s going to win it by
margins much bigger than the pundits saying.

SHARPTON: Now, Neera, I agree, he was on Tom Joyner morning show this
morning and this is what he said he learned during the first debate.
Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The debate, I think, it`s fair to say, I was just too polite
because, you know, it`s hard to sometimes just keep on saying what you`re
saying isn`t true. It gets repetitive. But, you know, the good news is,
that`s just the first one. I think it`s fair to say that we will see a
little more activity at the next one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: A little more activity than the next one, Neera.

TANDEN: I think actually what the President said today, both in the
ABC News interview this morning is going to be helpful to a lot of
Democrats. People want to hear him say just straight out he intends to
win. He`s going to fight this thing, he`s going to hold Governor Romney
accountable for the changed positions. You know, I think that you have to
deal with the smile. You have to say it, you know, you have to say, you
can`t be overly aggressive.

But this President needs to hold Governor Romney accountable for the
fact, that he held positions far to the right where the American people
are, when he needed to, to win his conservative primary and a month before
this election, he`s changed all of his positions in order to get their
vote. And that is a stance of hypocrisy that will smell to the American
people. And I think he has a great opportunity to do that. There`s a lot
of factual material out there right now. People are really are jelling
around it. And he has to deliver the punch and I think he`s showing that
he will.

SHARPTON: Dick, I think also, I`ve been doing a lot of traveling
around. People are sensing also, it`s bigger issues at stake. It`s bigger
things at stake. Former President Clinton yesterday said the election
boils down to fairness. One of the fundamental issues the President has
been talking about. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: The choice is, between, we are all in this together and
you`re on your own. The choice is believing that we are better off when we
(INAUDIBLE) because of too much poverty, too much inequality, too many
people left behind. It`s a severe constraint on economic growth for
everybody else. So -- for shared prosperity or trickledown economics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: There are big issues at stake here, Dick. There are a lot
of things that people are understanding out there that we`re talking about
the direction of the country and just fairness for its citizens.

HARPOOTLIAN: Absolutely. And Al, I think one of the things that my
wife and I noticed in the debate the other night really speaks volumes
about those big issues and where Mitt Romney go. And we read all about the
Big Bird issue. The Big Bird, you know, I`m going to get rid of PBS and
fire Big Bird. But then he looked at Jim Lehrer, with a smile, a smirk on
his face and says to him, oh, I`m going to fire you, too, Jim. To me it
demonstrated this guy has no soul. He will say whatever and he enjoys
firing people. Remember he said, I like firing people.

SHARPTON: He did say that.

HARPOOTLIAN: And he looked Jim Lehrer right in the eye and say, I`m
going to fire you. What`s that? I mean, do you really want that guy to
make a decision about Medicare or health care generally? He will say
whatever it takes to get there and it`s clear that Barack Obama is going to
give him a good spanking at the next one.

SHARPTON: And I think Neera is going to come down, to who connects
with the American people about what policies really are working into their
interests and who really feels their need for those policies to be in place
to really bring them back from the worst economic hit we`ve taken since the
depression.

TANDEN: Yes. And I think you said that the president made that
point, you know, sort of subtly on this evening broadcast. Because I think
what he was saying is, you know, he`s going to win because the stakes are
so high.

SHARPTON: That`s right.

TANDEN: This is not about anyone`s performance. It`s really not
about anyone`s performance, it`s about what they are going to -- you know,
on a debate stage or at an event, it`s really about what they are going to
do as president, what your plans are and where you stand. And I think the
challenge for Mitt Romney is really honestly we have no idea where -- what
his stances are and what he`ll do as president because he changes them all
the time.

SHARPTON: That`s right.

Dick Harpootlian and Neera Tanden, thank you both for your time
tonight.

Affirmative action at the Supreme Court. I was there as part of the
high drama played out. It was remarkable. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The biggest challenge of the affirmative action is now in
the hands of the Supreme Court. Under review, a 2003 court ruling allowing
colleges to use race as one of several factors in admissions. So is
diversity a goal we should have in society? Is diversity something we
should strive for in our institutions and schools? I was inside the court
for the arguments today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

We have established debt that was presented to the court today that
diversity is the best thing for America for all races. There are no
victims when you have racial diversity. There are only victims when you
stop racial diversity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

The stakes are high. The court could set new limits on affirmative
action or it could end the practice altogether. Since 2003, the University
of Texas has become more diverse and the question at hand is, is that two
percent diversity increased enough? When do we know when we have achieved
diversity? That was the key question between two heavyweights on the court
who went back and forth on this question and Justice Sotomayor refused to
back down before Justice Scalia.

I sat there fascinated as he keep asking questions and she kept asking
counter questions to the lawyers on both sides of the case and it occurred
to me as I sat in the courtroom and walked out later to speak to the rally
that maybe when you have people that have never been denied entry to
something, they can`t understand what it means. Maybe that`s why we need
diversity even in the courts. That`s why this election is important.

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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