updated 10/23/2012 10:27:05 AM ET 2012-10-23T14:27:05

POLITICS NATION
October 22, 2012

Guests: John Kerry; Erin McPike, Victor Curry, Lee Rowland, Ed Rendell, Victoria DeFrancesco-Soto


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

We are just three hours away from the final debate and 15 days until
Election Day. Here`s where this race stands.

A new NBC poll shows President Obama and Mitt Romney tied at 47
percent among likely voters. This is a dead heat. But the president is
leading in the likely electoral count. The "New York Times" blog shows
that the president has 288 electoral compared to 250 for Mitt Romney. Two
hundred and seventy are needed to win the presidency based largely on swing
state polls. The "Times" blog gives President Obama a 67 percent chance of
winning the election versus a 32 percent chance for Mitt Romney. So far,
4.4 million Americans have already cast their votes, absentee ballots, or
early voting have been used. Later in this show, we`ll have much more on
what those early voting numbers mean and on the Republican efforts to keep
Democratic votes down.

But we start with tonight`s lead. Mitt Romney`s playing politics with
foreign policy. Tonight`s debate topic is foreign policy, an area where
the president has proven himself time and time again. It`s a different
story for Governor Romney. He stumbled on international affairs throughout
this campaign. And he has shown an unsteady hand on the tragedy in Libya,
unsteady and highly political.

Just hours after Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans
were killed at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, Mr. Romney rushed out
a statement in which he accused the president of, quote, "sympathizing with
those who waged the attack." Of course that was blatantly political.
Republicans cooked up a dishonest talking point, claiming officials created
a cover-up on the attack by initially leaking the Libya attack to protests
over an anti Muslim video.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t think that
they should have sent their U.N. ambassador out five days later to say that
this was from a spontaneous mob reacting to a You Tube video.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think you need to ask
yourself, why didn`t we know five days later when the ambassador to the
United Nations went on TV to say that this was a demonstration, how could
we have known.

RYAN: If that would be the case, George, then why send Susan Rice out
four days later to say this was the result of a spontaneous mob reacting to
a You Tube video.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now we know, the fact debunk the Republican line. The
truth is, Obama administration officials were repeating what the CIA
experts were telling them. "The Washington Post" writes, quote, "the CIA
documents supported Susan Rice`s description of the Benghazi attacks but
the Romney campaign doesn`t care. They are playing politics with national
security. It`s a disgrace. The question is, will the president expose
Mitt Romney if he tries that attack tonight?

Joining me now is a distinguished public servant who brings a lifetime
of experience on this issue, Senator John Kerry, chairman of the senate
foreign relations committee. He`s also been playing Governor Romney in the
practice debate with the president.

Senator Kerry, first, thank you for being with us tonight.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Reverend Al, I`m happy to be with
you and your good friend, Teresa, sends you her best.

SHARPTON: Give my love to Teresa.

Let me get right to the point, Senator Kerry. Mitt Romney has tried
to make a lot of the attacks in Libya. What is your assessment of how he
has acted on this?

KERRY: Well, I think Mr. Romney and the entire Republican Party is
trying very hard to politicize something that`s a tragedy, where the
administration has been absolutely candid and direct and upfront as you
just said, the CIA talking points said what they said.

Now, what`s important here is really to get larger than this. Mitt
Romney went out within moments of hearing what was happening in Cairo and
without even thinking about it criticized our government at a time where he
didn`t even have the facts. You know, another example of Mitt Romney
shooting before he had even aimed properly, before he even had the right
information.

And so, you know number one, it`s disgraceful that the nominee of the
Republican Party was zero experience in foreign policy. In fact, this is
the single most inexperienced twosome to run for president and vice
president in the modern history of our country.

SHARPTON: Wow.

KERRY: But you know, on each step of Mitt Romney`s journey until
foreign policy, what he`s done is proved that he has no depth. He was --
he says it was tragic that we pulled troops out of Iraq. He, at first, was
against setting a date in Afghanistan, then he was for setting a date, then
he starts to qualify the date with respect to the START treaty and United
States Senate. There are a lot of Republicans running around tonight down
here who are criticizing President Obama. But, the man that they are
defending was one of the few people that in America thought that we
shouldn`t have a START treaty with Russia to reduce nuclear weapons. And
these are people who even voted for the treaty who are criticizing Obama.

Mitt Romney is out of mainstream and he`s chosen to be there because
he`s following a group of people who got us into trouble in Iraq and got us
into trouble by breaking our appliances, by approving of torture and a
whole bunch of other things that left the world, frankly, questioning the
United States of America.

Barack Obama has turned that around. And we should not go backwards.

SHARPTON: Senator Kerry, you said that he and his running mate had no
experience. In fact, you said it`s nothing but endless blast in a record
of dangerous blunders and that -- I`ve outlined a few specific policies
fewer than any other presidential team in presidential history. Is the
president, you are one to help the prepper, is the president going to go
after him tonight if he tries to bring in Benghazi?

KERRY: Well, Reverend Al, I`m not going to sit here and talk about
the president`s strategy or intentions tonight. I had the privilege of
serving as a sparring partner. I did play Mitt Romney. I was chosen from
binders of senators and I was privileged to be able to undertake that role,
but I`m not going to sit here before the debate and tell Mitt Romney and
everybody else what he may or may not do. I will tell you this.

The president is a enormously anxious to get to this debate. He is
ready for this debate because he is proud of his record in defending
America, proud of keeping his promise to get out of Iraq, to end that war,
proud of changing the war in Afghanistan so that we now know our troops
will be coming home, but doing it in a way that will be successful. I`m
proud of the fact that he led on Libya in a way that didn`t put American
troops on the ground but we succeeded in achieving our goals. He`s
restored our alliances throughout the world. He`s actually helped to raise
the currency rate in China more than has been raised in 19 previous years.

SHARPTON: Yes.

KERRY: So the president is on the right track. We don`t want to go
backwards to the neo con right-wing extreme policies that got us into
trouble in Iraq in the first place and you remember that debate very, very
well, Reverend Al.

SHARPTON: Yes.

KERRY: And you`ve seen the damage that it`s done throughout the
region. We don`t want to go backwards. We need to go forwards with the
experience and the strength and the judgment that President Obama has
exhibited.

SHARPTON: I saw in the second debate the president was visibly
offended and said so when the suggestion was made that Ambassador Rice or
anyone, as he said on his team, did anything but was what was responsible
in terms of protecting American lives.

Now, that "the Washington Post" has just revealed the CIA talking
points and it is clear that Secretary Rice was saying what the CIA had
given her, do you think that will change the position of Mr. Romney and his
team and his vice presidential candidate or do you think they are going to
continue this when we`re dealing with the loss of four American lives and
we were given that information by the CIA and we were dealing in the middle
of this tragedy?

KERRY: I`m laughing, Reverend Al, because you`re asking me if Mitt
Romney might change his position? I mean, this is a man who`s changed his
position on almost everything.

I don`t know what Mitt Romney`s going to come and do tonight. I don`t
know which Mitt Romney is going to show up. Is he going to be moderate
tonight and try to say to America, hey, I`m a different kind of guy? But
he can`t run away from the position he`s taken. He can`t run away from
opposing the START treaty. He can`t run away from being wrong on Iraq. He
can`t run away from having Iran judgments about any number of issues. He
can`t run away from his lack of specificity for seven years he`s been
running for president and he still doesn`t have a plan for three-quarters
of the things that he says he wants to do in foreign policy.

You just can`t run away from that in one single debate tonight. I
think the press, you, many other people are going to will hold him
accountable. Reverend Al, you remember in 2004, when I debated George
Bush, President Bush, everybody said he`s the president, you`re going to
have to come in there and to win you`re going to have to prove that you`re
specific and you have a better set of plans.

Well, to the best of what I`ve heard and read since then, people
believe I won that debate that night because I was specific. Because I did
succeed factually in holding him accountable. The test for Mitt Romney is
the test of being a commander in chief. He doesn`t gain just by showing
up. He doesn`t gain just by being on the same stage of the president of
the United States. He can only gain if his plans and his facts show a
direction that will make America safer, not start a bunch of new wars, not
spend money we don`t need to spend, not put American troops at risk when we
don`t have to.

SHARPTON: Right.

KERRY: I believe the president`s wisdom, the president`s judgment,
and the president`s successes will speak for themselves tonight.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you this quickly, senator, and by the way, you
did win that debate. I was there. There was no question you won that
debate.

But let me ask you this. For people who don`t follow foreign policy,
you`ve given your life to this. What is the most important thing that
voters should look for tonight? What worries you most that we need to hear
very definitive answers from the president and Mr. Romney?

KERRY: Real accomplishments and real plans based on facts. Not some
vague criticism, not some bluster that is unaccompanied by the kind of
precision that the American people deserve when you`re talking about the
possibility of their sons and daughters being sent into harm`s way
somewhere in the world.

These are very dangerous times, Reverend Al. You know that. The
world is exploding with transition and it`s not a question of our policy is
making or not making them happen. You know, no one told a fruit vendor in
Tunisia to set himself on fire because the police officer slapped him and
he had finally had enough of that government. And that triggered a
revolution.

Nobody told those students in Tahrir square to go out and do that.
And it wasn`t Islamists. It wasn`t extremists. It was young people. It
was a generational revolution that wants to live a better life and have
freedom and have choice and have a job. That`s something that`s sweeping
through the world and we need to learn that you can`t just run in and
dictate the terms and blame it on extremist. It`s much more complicated
and I think tonight people of our country will see a president who
genuinely understands it. Not somebody who is a candidate who is dealing
with Rosetta stone foreign policy where they learned the top line but they
really can`t carry on a full conversation based on experience and based on
values and visceral feel for what is at stake.

SHARPTON: Senator John Kerry, first of all, thank you for your time.
And we started by saying give you my love to your wife, Teresa. And
Teresa`s want, let her know you said binders of senators, not binders of
women. I just want to give clarity for you. I know how she stands on
these things.

KERRY: Thank you, sir.

SHARPTON: And I appreciate it.

KERRY: Yes, she was one of millions of Americans who really had a big
question mark after that comment. But moving on --

SHARPTON: All right, thank you. We will be talking soon.

KERRY: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, we will have news on a big victory in the fight
against voter suppression. But we will tell you about some new dirty
tricks from the old Republican playbook.

Plus, why the electoral map and the math favor President Obama in the
home stretch. Folks, it looks like we may be able to isolate the spread of
Romnesia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, the president,
the president has a new term but as you said, what is it?

CROWD: Romnesia.

BIDEN: Romnesia. I tell you, man. And by the way, guess what, it`s
contagious.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And it made a big difference in `08. Will General Colin
Powell endorse President Obama once again in these last two weeks before
the election?

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Fifteen days until Election Day. It`s close. But there
are important signs that President Obama has an edge. Hint. It starts in
Ohio. That story next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Less than three hours until the final debate and the stakes
couldn`t be higher. With 15 days to go, it`s a dead heat. As of today,
early voting is already under way in 23 states. Seven states in the
District of Columbia began voting today. A total of 4.4 million votes have
been cast. And while the poll show a tight race, the early vote is giving
the president the edge. In Iowa, Ohio, and key counties in Nevada, the
president is ahead among early and absentee voters. Vice president Joe
Biden was out in Ohio today reminding voters of the epidemic sweeping the
plan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: His plans are not sketchy. They are etch-a-sketchy. They are
like (INAUDIBLE) that little tablet out there. It`s under way, guys. We
are seeing the remaking of Mitt Romney right before our eyes.

Now, the president has a new term for it, as you all said. What is
it?

CROWD: Romnesia.

BIDEN: Romnesia. I tell you man. And by the way, guess what, it`s
contagious.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It is contagious. But getting the vaccine could depend on
a number of things. The early vote, the Latino vote, the women vote and
the big debate tonight. So, what will tip the race?

Joining me is Krystal Ball, co-host of "the Cycle" on MSNBC and Erin
McPike, reporter for "Real Clear Politics."

Thank you both for joining me.

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: Thank you, Reverend.

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

SHARPTON: Krystal, let`s start with the early voting numbers. These
are promising right now, at least from the start?

BALL: Yes, very encouraging and you highlighted Nevada in particular.
They just started early voting. Democrats turned out more Democratic
voters on the first day than they did back in 2008, so signs are looking
really good there. And it think, ultimately, when it comes down to
interestingly is a classic test of the air power versus, you know, the
boots on the ground, the classic grassroots politics which is what the
president`s campaign excelled in 2008 and is excelling in today, you know,
even though the Obama campaign itself has actually out-fundraised the
Romney campaign. There being outs that hugely by outside super PAC. So, if
we see the president able to succeed this year despite that much or
advantage, I think that is a very encouraging sign for democracy.

SHARPTON: Now, Ohio is very important. And Erin McPike is in Ohio
which is a sign it is important (INAUDIBLE).

And Erin, a new Quinnipiac poll shows one in five Ohioans have already
voted either by early or absentee ballot. Off of those voters, President
Obama got 54 percent of the vote and Romney 39. He has the edge here, but
only 20 percent of Ohioans have voted. What are you hearing out there and
what are you feeling about this poll?

MCPIKE: The Democrats are very energized by early voting. Of course,
they won a bunch of court ruling. I talked to some Republicans yesterday
who think that because the Democrats have essentially won some of these
court ruling that have allowed early votes to continue and to continue the
weekend before Election Day that Obama is on track to win here. So
Democrats do feel good.

Now, the Republicans I talked to Romney`s campaign in the state
yesterday and they are cautiously optimistic. They think the trajectory is
headed their way. However, Mitt Romney hasn`t led for a single day. And
"the Real Clear Politics" pulling average of Ohio at any time this year.
So, he`s got a lot of work to do and we`re hearing from the Romney campaign
that he`s going to be spending a disproportionate amount of his time in
Ohio from now until Election Day.

SHARPTON: Let me, Krystal, with Ohio give me your view there and Erin
saying that there is some kind of movement towards Romney, where`s the
evidence of that?

BALL: Well, we haven`t seen a lot of evidence. Some of the polls
have tightened but Romney has never led in the average of polls. He`s tied
in a few. I actually used to live in Ohio and I think Romney is such a
poor fit as a candidate there because there are many areas in Ohio where
they understand the devastation of outsourcing of the type that Bain
Capital engaged in and his argument of let Detroit go bankrupt. I mean,
that was the most critical economical decision for the state.

So I think that`s very hard for him to overcome and we`re seeing the
Obama campaign underscoring with ads in the state now. That decision and
how dead wrong Romney was. And if I can pick up on one other thing that
Erin was talking about, the early voting, judgments going against the
Republicans, I think they may have really created a monster here because
when you tell someone you can`t vote, what does that make them want to do?
That makes them want to get out and make sure that they cast their ballots
and I think that`s part of why we`re seeing such strong early voting
numbers.

SHARPTON: No. I`ve been out to Ohio several times on (INAUDIBLE),
actually were too, and that`s exactly the feeling I`m getting, is a lot of
people were energized really when this court ruling came because they were
outraged in terms of their feeling that -- and many of us felt that their
rights were being taken.

But aside from even the auto industry, Erin, who is clearly had a lot
of impact among Ohioans is the gender gap. President Obama holds a lead
among women, 55 to 40 percent, a 15 point lead among women whereas, of
course, Governor Romney has a seven-point lead among men in Ohio. So the
gender gap there is also very strong for the president. Is it holding as
far as you can see?

MCPIKE: It is. And remember after the first debate, Mitt Romney made
up a lot of ground with women throughout the country and a lot of states
and we`re not seeing that in Ohio. And that is, in part, because the Obama
campaign has targeted women here in Ohio and I have heard so many radio ads
in the last two days that I fell on the ground, driving around. They are
specifically about Planned Parenthood and I`ve talked to several women
voters who have mentioned those ads and the importance of Planned
Parenthood and they are keeping their votes for the president in part
because of that.

SHARPTON: So the national movement that we saw is not reflected among
women voters in Ohio. Very interesting.

Krystal, help me understand something.

BALL: OK.

SHARPTON: Marco Rubio was on over the weekend on this week on ABS.
And he said that the Lilly Ledbetter act wasn`t about helping women and I
know you may be able to interpret this for me because I can`t figure this
out. Let me play it to you and explain this to me.

BALL: All right.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Just because they call it a piece of
legislation and equal pay though, it doesn`t make it so. In fact, much of
this legislation is, in many respects, nothing but an effort to help trial
lawyers collect their fees and file lawsuits which may not contribute
whatsoever to increasing pay equity in the workplace.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, two questions. One, how do you have a bill for
equal pay for women but it`s not for equal pay for women? And how do you
attract women voters saying things like that?

BALL: Well I mean, he`s just completely wrong on the fact and on the
substance and in terms of the political implications. I mean, the American
people understand very clearly what the Lilly Ledbetter act is all about.
And the fact that the Romney campaign has been unable repeatedly unable to
articulate what Governor Romney`s position is on the act, where he stands
on it today and what he would do if he were president, I think is a huge
vulnerability and something as Erin was pointing out the micro-targeting
that they are doing in Ohio to women there around planned parenthood, I
think the Lilly Ledbetter act is an opportunity to talk to women and say,
you know, it`s a simple issue, simple to understand. Where does Governor
Romney stand and it underscores both the fact that he`s wishy washy and
trying to be at all places at all times. And the fact that he`s extreme,
that he is out of step with where the American people are on issues of
gender and equity.

SHARPTON: Now, let me give you this, Erin. And this came just out
today and it really really was stunning with all of this talk about the
race tightening. A new NBC/Telemundo poll shows the president leads Mitt
Romney by 45 points among likely Latino voters, Obama 70, Romney only 25.
This is among likely voters. The question is whether they would turn out
and vote. If they turn out and vote, would give this kind of gap for the
president that could be a significant step toward, also going to bed early
that night with the president re-elect.

MCPIKE: You know, that may be. And the Romney campaign said earlier
this year that they wanted to get about 38 percent of the Latino vote and
if it`s down at 25 percent, yes, it`s a problem.

Now, on the other hand, Mitt Romney is leading by a very wide margin
among white men so that helps him offset that advantage that President
Obama has. What I would point out to you this. That number is important
for states like Virginia and Colorado that right now are dead even and if
the Obama campaign can turn out higher margins of Latino voters in those
two states, he can do better than Mitt Romney there. And a lot of
electoral map projections give Virginia and Colorado to Mitt Romney at this
point. But that number that you are talking about could be help him from
these two states.

SHARPTON: So if that number comes out in Virginia and Colorado, it
has a big impact on the electoral map?

MCPIKE: That`s right.

SHARPTON: Krystal Ball and Erin McPike, thank you both for your time.

BALL: Thanks, Reverend.

MCPIKE: Thank you.

SHARPTON: And you can catch Krystal on "the Cycle" weekdays at 3:00
p.m. right here on MSNBC.

Still ahead, a big win against billboards designed to intimidate
voters fighting backwards and fighting back works. And there`s a new
challenge now.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We have good news to report about those voter intimidation
billboards funded by secret donors. The billboards popped up in Black and
Hispanic neighborhoods in Ohio and Wisconsin telling residents that voter
fraud was a crime but now clear channel, the company who owns the
billboards say, they are taking them down. All 145 of them, in Cleveland,
Columbus, and Milwaukee.

And now some are being replaced with billboards that actually say,
voting is a right, not a crime. It`s a big victory but we can`t stand down
because voter suppression is still happening all across America from
purposefully confusing robo calls in Florida and Virginia to a misleading
newspaper article in Pennsylvania. The fight to protect the vote may be
the most important fight of the next 15 days.

Joining me now is Bishop Victor Curry, pastor of New birth Baptist
Church in Miami and Lee Rowland, counsel with the Brennan Center for
Justice, thank you both for joining me.

LEE ROWLAND, COUNSEL, BRENNAN CENTER FOR JUSTICE: Thank you,
Reverend.

BISHOP VICTOR CURRY, PRES., NAN MIAMI-DADE: Thank you for having me.

SHARPTON: Let me start with you, Bishop Curry. You also lead the
Miami-Dade National Action Network and I`ll be down with you on the kickoff
rally on the 27th. You`re dealing with Florida having done some things to
early voting and you started something called operation lemonade that we`re
kicking off this weekend. Tell us about it.

CURRY: Yes, sir. Governor, along with the republican led house and
Senate decided to shorten the early voting days. We view that as them
giving us a lemon, we decided we would make lemonade. Therefore, we have
galvanize and mobilize our community, clergy. And we`ve decided we`re
going to have our souls to the polls weekend. Early voting starts for us
on October 27th and at 7:00 a.m., we`ll be downtown at the Steven P. Clark
building where we hope and pray that hundreds and even thousands of people
will come and cast their votes.

And then we`re going to drive 30 minutes south to south -- join clergy
and other people and we`ll vote there and then we`re going to drive maybe
45 minutes to an hour north to Fort Lauderdale to the Lauderhill mall where
we`ll joined more people as they cast their votes and then we`re going to
go from there to Pompano beach, where we would again have a rally and have
people to actually cast their early votes.

SHARPTON: And as we do this, I want to be clear, it`s going to
nonpartisan. We all have our views but you have over 150 ministers
involved and others of all parties. This is nonpartisan. We`re just
telling people to come out and vote and use their vote as we do this on
Saturday and Sunday.

CURRY: Absolutely. Because when the governor and the republican-led
house and Senate decided to shorten the early voting, it cut everyone,
whether you`re a democrat, republican, or independent. We`re fighting for
everyone`s rights to be able to vote and what they did, they took from us
that final Sunday before the general election because they understood that
that`s when we really mobilized our people and take people the souls to the
polls but we`ve taken their lemon and we decided to make lemonade, people
we`re excited, we`re happy about the fact that we have galvanized and we`re
mobilized in our community.

SHARPTON: Yes. I`m excited about it. Now, let me go to you a
minute, Lee. There has been progress in the court, I remember when we
first got on this issue and Brennan and others, we didn`t know. And you
fought in the court, we kept fighting in the streets, there has been
progress. Tell us about it.

ROWLAND: Absolutely. There`s been a sea change. Really, voters got
a raw deal in 2011, 2012. But we the voters, voter protection advocates
have worked hard to flip that script and there are successes at every
level. The people have revealed bad laws in Maine. We`ve seen almost
every court case result in either tinkering with the law, reducing its
harms or flat out stopping these bad voter suppression laws in their
tracks.

Obviously, folks like Bishop Curry are making the best that they can
with the hand that they`ve been dealt. Voters across the country are
galvanized around this issue and we`ve seen this great victory where Clear
Channel should be commended for taking down these really intimidating and
ludicrous billboards. So all across the country we`re seeing great signs
of push backs. You know, I like to say, round two is going to the voters.
And that`s what we are and that`s what we should be, 15 days out from an
election.

SHARPTON: Bishop Curry, we just heard that people are voting big
numbers in Ohio and the statement was made because they felt that they were
denied it energized them once the victory happened, to come out and vote.
Do you feel we`re going to see that this weekend in Florida going forward?
Are you hearing from people that because they`ve cut back on voting early
voting days and stop the churches from souls to the polls which is the
Sunday before Election Day, that that`s really going to have a backlash
effect and get people to come out and vote even more in Florida?

CURRY: I really think it`s going to have -- it`s going to backfire on
them because I think it may have been a spirit of liturgy, people may have
been lulled asleep a little bit because of the political process. But now,
when you try to take my rights and when you try to make it more difficult
for me to vote, then that re-energizes me to be able to go out and do what
I know I`m supposed to do.

So I think it`s going to backfire on them. People are excited.
That`s all I`m hearing. I`ve not heard one negative thing about the souls
to the polls weaken. Not only that Saturday but that Sunday, we`re working
with the A. Phillip Randolph.

SHARPTON: Right.

CURRY: A group here and pastors and you`re going to be preaching the
whole weekend. So, I hope you take your vitamins and eat your wheaties.

SHARPTON: I`ll be doing that. Now, Lee, let me ask you, in the
states that we have not had victories, we continue to struggle in the
courts. Does any of the legal decisions set a precedent that helps us in
other states?

ROWLAND: Well, absolutely. For example, the victory in Florida which
struck down a majority of the new restrictions placed on voter registration
drives is absolutely, that a federal court victory and one that sends a
signals to other courts that the right to vote is too sacred to be tinkered
with for partisan gain. And that`s really the narrative that all voters
have seen play out across the country and have rightfully gotten mad about
it. This is our fundamental right to vote and we`ve seen politicians
tinkered with it and fortunately we`re winning round two.

SHARPTON: All right. Lee Rowland, Bishop Victor Curry, thank you.
I`ll see you this weekend. Thanks for your time, both of you tonight.

ROWLAND: Thank you, Reverend.

CURRY: Thank you for having me, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Coming up, one of the most influential businessmen in the
world is ripping Governor Romney`s Bain past. And guess who is making a
surprise appearance tonight? Governor Romney`s got a Bush problem. How
will he handle it? You`re watching a special edition of POLITICS NATION as
we get ready for the last debate on the place for politics, MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The issue of Mitt Romney`s history at Bain Capital has been
on the back burner for a while. But over the weekend, I rallied in
Freeport, Illinois with 170 workers who are losing their jobs to China at
the Bain owned Sensata Technologies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: This is not about black or white. This is right and wrong.
Black and white workers worked in there together, now they`re being
outsourced together. We going to stand together, we going right together.
Mitt Romney, who was the CEO of Bain that owns Sensata and has invested in
it. Started talking about creating jobs. Well, you can create some right
here. Tell your boys at Bain to keep the jobs right here.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: A presidential candidate who puts profit over people.
That`s what I call a national disgrace.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Tonight`s debate, Obama versus Romney. But there will
actually be a third guest on that stage tonight. Someone Governor Romney
has eluded. Someone he doesn`t talk about. There he is, George W. Bush
will be on that stage in spirit whether Governor Romney likes it or not.
Of Romney`s 24 foreign policy advisers, 17 are from the Bush
administration.

The same ads that recommended a failed war in Iraq, defense spending
that plunged the country deeper in debt and the ones who failed to get
Osama bin Laden. Bush left office with a record low approval on foreign
policies. His policies were a failure. Hey Governor, good luck dealing
with that Bush question tonight.

Joining me now, former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, now an NBC
News political analyst. And Victoria DeFrancesco-Soto, a fellow at the
University of Texas and an NBC Latino contributor. Thank you both for
being here tonight.

FMR. GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Our pleasure.

VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO-SOTO, NBC LATINO CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you,
Reverend.

SHARPTON: Governor, is Romney just promising a bush tree for us?

RENDELL: Yes, there`s no question, Reverend. If you go back to his
convention speech, and his convention speech, he talked about re-engaging
Russia. Like, we`re going to start up the cold war again and he talked
about savor rattling in Iran. And now he`s talking about Syria and he and
Ryan are talking about getting involved in Syria or doing this or doing
that. And the sad part about it, number one, it reminds the American
people, what you said, about the Bush foreign policy.

But, number two, the last thing the American people want now, the very
last thing is another ground war in the Middle East. That`s the last thing
we want and his policies are leading us towards an inevitable conclusion
that we have to get involved, sending troops in this area, going to war
with Iran. I mean, it`s very scary for the American people.

SHARPTON: But Victoria, the same advisers that they had brought us
last time, when you look at Maureen Dowd in the "New York Times," she
called out Romney`s foreign policy adviser Dan Senior, quote, "As the
spokesman for Paul Bremer during the Iraq occupation, senior helped
perpetrate one of the biggest foreign policy bungles in American history."
"Off the record," this is what he says, "Paris is burning." And then he
told a group of reporters, "A year into the war on the record security
instability are returning to Iraq." This is his, one of his foreign
affairs advisors.

SOTO: For Romney, like for most Republicans, the default is the
Neocon option and more specifically a very narrow unidimensional approach
about just using sticks. Compared that to the multi-dimensional approached
used by President Obama, which is a combination of both carrots and sticks.
So, yes, we do go in there with drone attacks. But at the same time, we`re
using sanctions through the United Nations. The American public is tired
of the cowboy tactics and instead resoundingly want a balance level headed
approach to foreign policy.

SHARPTON: Now, Governor, let me ask you. Michael Tomasky at The
Daily Beast, wonder today whether Colin Powell will get in this and why he
has endorsed to Kennedy yet because he said, you know, I`m quoting him,
"I`d reckon that Powell is waiting for tonight. Since foreign policy is
his bag and then maybe we`ll hear from him on one of the Sunday shows.
I`ve seen no reporting on this but we can assume both campaigns have been
sending him pizza and other goodies for months."

How important would Colin Powell`s endorsement be at -- in `08? And
why do you think we haven`t heard anything yet?

RENDELL: Well, I think that announcement is right. I think General
Powell is waiting until tonight`s debate. I think he wants to hear exactly
what Governor Romney is going to put forward. And if he thinks Governor
Romney is giving us a rerun of the failed policies that he got trapped into
and really the one blemish on his reputation is what his administration
misled him about, if he feels that it`s just a rerun, I think he`s going to
come out again for President Obama and I think it will be impactful.

I think there are voters, particularly women voters who are definitely
afraid of getting reengaged in another ground war in the Middle East.

SHARPTON: Yes.

RENDELL: And I think Colin Powell coming out and saying, this is the
wrong idea, it`s the wrong way to do business, I think that would have a
tremendous effect.

SHARPTON: Victoria, let me show you what Colin Powell said on Morning
Joe right here on the station in May.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Some of them are quite far
to the right. And sometimes they, I think might be in a position to make
judgments or recommendations to the candidate that should get a second
thought. For example, and Governor Romney now to long ago said, you know,
the Russian Federation is our number one geo strategic threat. But come
on, think.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, he doesn`t look too supportive of those advising
Mr. Romney. Or Romney getting his facts right.

SOTO: Well, as Governor Rendell pointed out, the thing that Colin
Powell also recognizes is that the American electorate is growing weary of
the human cost of the war. So, female voters in particular very sensitive
to this but so are military folks. So, for example, what are we going to
do with veterans? You can be very hawkish on the one hand and say, we need
a more aggressive approach but what are you going to do for the American
service members?

SHARPTON: Right.

SOTO: And that`s one thing that we have not seen Romney talked about
it all in contrast to what the President actually has done for veterans
affairs.

SHARPTON: Governor Rendell, what does the President need to do
tonight? The big debate on foreign affairs, last debate. What does the
President have to do tonight?

RENDELL: I think he has to very positively, very strongly and very
enthusiastically taught his record. I mean, he said, great foreign policy
successes. You know, we`re all talking about what happened in Benghazi
with the ambassadors. But let`s remember that in Libya, we got rid of a
terrorist leader, Gadhafi, we saved an entire people in Benghazi from
genocide without losing one American life. We didn`t engage on the ground,
we put our allies together, engaged in the narrow attack, it`s the single
most successful venture in terms of no loss of American life and
accomplishing missions. He`s got to talk about all of that because he`s
got a great record in foreign affairs.

SHARPTON: Governor Rendell and Victoria, to both of you, thank you
for your time tonight.

SOTO: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: The inspiring story of a 93-year-old World War II vet and
what it says about the right to vote. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We close tonight with a powerful image. It`s an image of
Frank Sonovi (ph), a World War II veteran filling out his absentee ballot
while in hospice care in Hawaii. The 93-year-old is gravely ill. But he
wouldn`t let anything stopped him from voting. Frank filled out his ballot
as soon as it landed in his mail box, eager to have his voice heard. This
is the man who was in prison by the U.S. government in Japanese internment
camp when the war first broke out. Yet, despite what he and his family
have been through, Frank volunteered to join the U.S. army and risk his
life for his country.

That`s how much he cared for his country then and he`s showing how
much he cares now by voting. This photo has struck a chord, hundreds of
thousands of people have seen this picture online. It reminds us why
voting is so important in this election where two weeks left, President
Obama is leading among all voters, 49 to 44 percent but tied with Governor
Romney at 47 percent when it comes to likely voters. People identified as
mostly likely to cast their ballots on Election Day.

So, here`s my question. Are you a likely voter if not, why not? If
you are, what about your friends, your neighbors, your loved ones, are they
likely voters, too? This election will be determined for who cares enough
to get out and cast their ballot. Frank`s daughter says, it would be the
ultimate honor for him to inspire others to vote, he is voting from his
hospice bed. Where are you voting from?

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

Transcription Copyright 2012 ASC LLC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is
granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not
reproduce or redistribute the material except for user`s personal or
internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall
user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may
infringe upon MSNBC and ASC LLC`s copyright or other proprietary rights or
interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of
litigation.>

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,