updated 10/26/2012 10:16:22 AM ET 2012-10-26T14:16:22

POLITICS NATION
October 25, 2012

Guests: Alicia Menendez; Michelle Cottle; Erin McPike; Ryan Grim, Steve Kornacki, Margie Omero, Dennis Lieberman, Thomas Ritchie


REV. AL SHARPTON, HOST: Thanks, Chris, and thanks to you for tuning
in. I`m live in Memphis, Tennessee where have meeting with leaders about
protecting the right to vote.

Twelve days until Election Day. Here`s where the race stands. The
poll tracker national average shows President Obama now in the lead.
Here`s where the race stands.

The poll track of National average shows President Obama now in the
lead, getting 47.8 percent of the popular vote. Mitt Romney has 46.9
percent. "The New York Times" 538 blog says that if the election were held
today, the president would win 291 electoral votes. Mitt Romney would get
247. Two hundred and seventy are needed to win the White House.

"538" says the president has a 71 percent chance of winning. Romney
has a 29 percent chance. And as of tonight, 7.7 million people have
already voted and that includes the president who cast his own ballot today
in Chicago. We will have much more on the early voting later on in the
show.

But we start with tonight`s lead. Mitt Romney`s Mourdock mess.
Senate candidate Richard Mourdock`s God intended rape comments are now
threatening to undermine Mitt Romney`s carefully crafted effort to appeal
to voters as moderate Mitt. Desperate to hide the extreme Republican
positions on women`s health, Romney is just wishing and hoping this will
all go away. But someone forgot to tell the press corps this morning in
Ohio.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Governor, do you wish senator Mourdock
would pull that ad?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Governor, do you disavow Mourdock`s
comments on rape?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Have a good day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You, too.

ROMNEY: That`s me?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have a great day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Governor, do you disavow Mourdock`s
comments on rape?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Thank you. Have a good day. But please don`t ask be about
God intending rape anymore. This is awkward for Mitt Romney after all at
this hour Romney`s ad endorsing Mourdock is still running in Indiana and
the campaign has no plans to pull support. And while governor Romney tries
to hide, his own party is trying to keep the story out of the airways. It
some red hot story, a small stampede of Republicans is running away from
Mourdock.

Senator Scott Brown, who is in a close election, Senator Scott
(INAUDIBLE), Congressman Mike Pence, running for governor in Indiana and
you know it`s bad when governor Haley Barbour calls when he said kind of
crazy.

And then, there is Senator John McCain. He single handedly exposed
the crisis inside the Republican Party on the issue of extremism on
abortion. Last night, he broke with the governor saying he would not
support Mourdock unless he offers an apology for the rape comment. But by
this morning it was all forgotten.

Senator McCain emerged to reverse himself, saying that he was, quote,
"glad that Mr. Mourdock apologized and he hopes the people of Indiana will
elect Mr. Mourdock to the U.S. Senate."

But the problem remains for Mitt Romney. A year ago, he was asked
about a personhood bill on Mike Huckabee`s show. Here`s what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Would you have supported the
constitutional amendment that life is established at conception?

ROMNEY: Absolutely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Absolutely. As for Mr. Mourdock, he believes that a woman
must carry a rapist`s baby because life is life, period. So does Paul
Ryan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`ve always adopted
the idea that the method of conception doesn`t change the definition of
life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The method of conception. That`s what we call rape. No
wonder Mitt Romney can`t reject Mourdock. When it comes to policy, Paul
Ryan and Mourdock have the same position. The Republican extremism on this
issue says 2010 has now caught up with them all, just days before the
election and President Obama knows it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me make you a
single proposition. Rape is rape. It is a crime. And so, these various
distinctions about -- don`t make so much sense to me. Don`t make any sense
to me. This is exactly why you don`t want a bunch of politicians, mostly
male, making decisions about women`s health care decisions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Twelve days ago, how long can governor Romney hide in plain
sight?

Joining me now is Michelle Cottle, Washington correspondent for
"Newsweek and "the Daily Beast" and Alicia Menendez, host and producer for
"Huff Post Live."

Thank you both for joining me.

ALICIA MENENDEZ, HOST, HUFFPOST LIVE: Thank you, Rev.

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

SHARPTON: Michelle, how hard is it for Romney to dodge these
questions for the next two weeks?

COTTLE: Two weeks? You know, I know he`s probably waking up some
mornings going, how did I get into this party? First, he has to deal with
Todd Akin, now he`s got to deal with Mourdock. But, I don`t think the
press corps settlement is going to let this go. The question is going to
become, you know, why is he ducking it, how long is he going to duck it?
You know, these things -- we don`t have any debates left to distract us.
This is the crazy season in the campaign. And in some way, it would be
better if he came out and addressed this and kind of got it over with.

SHARPTON: Alicia, can he duck it for two weeks or is he going to have
to come in, I guess, once and for all as Michelle is saying?

MENENDEZ: I think the fact that is has gone on this long, it means
that they have made a calculated decision that they are not going to talk
about it. And what is really sad, the fact that this mean has taken over
it, that we continue to talk about exceptions, leads us away from the major
conversation which is that in the case of 90 percent of abortions, Mitt
Romney would want those abortions to be illegal. That`s the conversation
that we actually need to have front and center.

So this entire conversation has shifted to the right instead of us
talking about the fact, the personhood amendment, as you said, about Mitt
Romney`s support of the blunt amendment, the fact that he wants to overturn
the affordable care act which provides all sorts of protections for women
to have access to contraceptives which would then lower the rate of
unintended pregnancy. That`s what is at the heart of all of this. And
instead, Republicans keep pushing us into this conversation that exists
only on the margins and not in and of itself is unfortunate.

SHARPTON: Well, Michelle, let`s go there a minute. Let`s go there.
The fact is, as she said, women`s right to choose under governor Romney`s
policies, more than 90 percent of abortions would be illegal. Rape,
incest, and life of the mother are the only exceptions under his policies.
Those cases account for less than 90 percent of abortions. So under the
Romney plan, 90 percent of abortions would be illegal, contraception would
be limited. His own policy is extremely aggressive in terms of a woman`s
right to choose, Michelle.

COTTLE: There`s no question that this is an issue for a lot of women
out there. It`s fired up a lot of women and I think that Romney knows it`s
a problem. This is why you saw him a few weeks ago telling the Des Moines
register folks that he couldn`t see legislation coming across his desk, it
would become part of his agenda. He tried to kind of skirt the issue. And
I think once he got into office he would probably do a couple of flip-flops
and this wouldn`t be front and center on his agenda. But it does beg the
question of, if he is dealing with a very right wing congress, how much he
would get pressured to make this part of his agenda.

SHARPTON: And, as the president of the Supreme Court could also
factor in, if he were to be the president.

But, let me ask you this, Alicia. As he remains silent, the president
keeps hinting on women`s issues. Let me show you this and tell me how this
will also force -- possibly force Mr. Romney to come out and say something
in the next two weeks. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: You can choose to turn back the clock 50 years on women or in
this election you can stand up for the kind of America that says we embrace
everybody.

I don`t think any politician in Washington, most of whom are male,
should be making health care decisions for women.

I believe women are capable and should make their own health care
decisions for themselves.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: With the president coming out over and over again saying
his statements appealing to women voters with this, how does Romney not
address this, Alicia?

MENENDEZ: I think it`s a great question and I think it`s a tricky
balance for Romney. Now, on one hand he wants to make sure that he`s
maintaining the evangelical support that he has worked really hard to
garner during this election. And on the other hand, he knows that what he
is doing is firing up the key component of the Democratic base, unmarried
women.

Now, the challenge for Democrats is that it`s less about persuading
them and actually about making sure that those women who register to vote
are actually showing up to vote. And so, that`s the piece that the
Democrats will need to figure out in the next two weeks because on the
messaging on the persuasion piece, team Obama has been handed a huge gift.

SHARPTON: Now, Michelle, one of the things that was a little
surprising to me, is that Mr. Mourdock has actually said the controversial
rape comment helped him in the race. Campaign votes after the abortion
comment, Mourdock replied, I know we did and Rick Santorum came out in his
defense. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I didn`t say rape
was a gift from God. You have to contour word beyond meaning to get that
understanding of it. Look, this gotcha stuff in the media is just that.
It just trying to play gotcha politics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, Michelle, this is gotcha politics, to stand up for
women questioning something like this and isn`t this a real problem for
Romney?

COTTLE: Any time you don`t like a statement in politics, you refer to
it as gotcha politics.

It is a problem for Romney because it echoes well beyond the state
where it happened. Yes, it fires up the base for the, you know, the
candidate who said it because people take to the hosting to defends one of
their own.

But, it also fires up, you know, women across the country and it gives
Obama excellent talking points. And while Romney has been trying to keep
this election focused strictly on the economy every time, social issues are
mentioned and he has to address or dodge those. It works to Obama`s favor.

SHARPTON: Now, one thing I have to say, Alicia, is that some
Republicans are coming out against Mourdock. Senator Kelly Ayotte has said
Mourdock`s comments do not represent her views. Congressman Mike Pence, I
strongly disagree with the statement made by Richard Mourdock. I urge him
to apologize. And governor Haley Barbour, what he said was kind of crazy.
I think that Mr. Romney not saying something is a loud statement within
itself.

COTTLE: I agree.

SHARPTON: Michelle Cottle and Alicia Menendez - yes, go ahead. I`ll
let you finish.

MENENDEZ: I was going to say, we had governor Huntsman on. He says
the same thing and I think this is the problem with Mitt Romney. He
doesn`t know how to talk about a serious issue, one of the most important
issues a woman could make in her life, sometimes one of the most painful
and say, I understand what this means for you. I understand what this
means for your family. And I`m going to have the decency to talk about it
in a respectful way that acknowledges all of the complexities around it and
instead he tells you to have a good day and that`s not enough for American
women.

SHARPTON: Thank you.

Michelle Cottle and Alicia Menendez, thank you so much for your time
tonight.

MENENDEZ: Thank you, Rev.

COTTLE: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Coming up, this is what real momentum looks like. Colin
Powell endorses the president and the right wing can`t handle it. Wait
until you see this.

And the good times keep coming from Mitt Romney. If you believe Mitt
Romney. What his campaign is now saying about Ohio that we need to talk
about.

Plus, the early voting president. He returns to Chicago to vote. We
will tell you why early voting is the key to this election.

And it`s a mysterious story that our facebook fans are very curious
about. Does the Romney family own voting machines? What is that all
about? We look into it and we have some answers tonight.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Colin Powell had some strong words today in support of the
president and against Mitt Romney. The right wing just can`t handle it.
That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Twelve days to go and it`s all in. We know every little
thing matters at this point. But today it was a big thing, a big
endorsement from a very big name. Today, George W. Bush`s former secretary
of state Colin Powell threw his support behind the president for the second
time. In 2008, Powell`s major endorsement preferred credibility to then
candidate Obama. But, this time Powell did even more. He was quite
extraordinary. He gave a defense of the president`s record.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I voted for him in 2008 and
I plan to stick with him in 2012 and I`ll be voting for he and vice
president Joe Biden next month. And let me say why.

When he took over, the country was in very, very difficult straits
where in a lot of worst recession we have seen in recent times close to a
depression. I think, generally, we have come out of the dive and we`re
starting to gain altitude. I also saw the president get us out of one war,
start to get us out of second war and did not get us into any new wars. I
think we ought to keep on the track that we are on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Continue on the track that we are on. This is coming from
a lifelong Republican. But he did more. He gave cutting details on why a
vote for Mitt Romney is a mistake.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POWELL: Not only am I not comfortable with what governor Romney is
proposing for his economic plan, I have concerns about his use on foreign
policy. The governor who is speaking on Monday night at the debate was
saying things that are quite different than what he said earlier. So I`m
not quite sure which governor Romney we would be getting with respect to
foreign policy. It`s hard to fix it. I mean, it`s a moving target.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: This endorsement comes just as Mitt Romney is claiming he`s
moderate Mitt. That gets difficult to do when the real moderate
Republican, Colin Powell, says he can`t stand behind Romney.

And to make matters more worse for the moderate Mitt effort, guess who
is raising big bucks for team Romney tonight? This man, Dick Cheney. Wow.
Just when Romney`s trying to be Mr. Moderate, here comes Papa Cheney.

Colin Powell or Dick Cheney. Gee, I wonder who`s support you`d rather
have?

Joining me now, Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief of "the Huffington
Post" and Erin McPike, national political reporter for "Real Clear
Politics." She joins us live from Cleveland where the president will hold
a rally in just a couple of hours.

Thank you both for being here tonight.

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

RYAN GRIM, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, HUFFINGTON POST: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ryan, what does this second endorsement of the president
mean with 12 days to go?

GRIM: Well, for one thing, you know, this was to use a phrase he`d
recognize, this was one of the known/unknowns still left out on the
endorsement field. And to get an idea of how important it is, try to think
of what would have happened if he decided to go with Romney. That would
have been a big symbolic move that, you know, that people are ready to
discard Obama and ready to move to Romney. So, the fact that that didn`t
happen, that might actually be the most symbolic and important part of it.

But, you know, Colin Powell, he represents that dying breed, kind of a
Republican frozen in time, this moderate Republican. So if there are
independents out there who consider themselves to lean Republican and they
listen to the case that oh Colin Powell made, it could sway them at the
last second. But there are so few undecided at this point, that it does
raise a questions of how much things matter in these last few weeks.

SHARPTON: Now, Erin, when you look at the fact that -- take note what
Ryan is saying about moderate Republicans appearing to be a dying breed,
when you look at the issue, Powell talked about candidate`s policy he is
agreeing with on issues. Economic policies, he is with the president.
Foreign policies, as we heard, he is with the president. On climate change
policies, he is with the resident. On and immigration, Powel agrees with
the president. On education, again he is with the president. And Powell
stands with the president on affordable health care.

So, when it comes down to issues, he really went with where his issues
brought him to support the president. Is it very, very odd, then, that
someone in these days and times still goes with where the issues are and
not just have a blind loyalty to their party even when their party appears
to have gone close to off the deep end right as far as I am concerned?

MCPIKE: Well, you`re absolutely right. However, I would say that
Colin Powell`s endorsement carries the most weight with the military vote
and that`s especially important right now because President Obama appears
to be trailing Mitt Romney in North Carolina and Virginia where there`s a
heavy segment of that population that does vote on military issues. And we
know right now that Mitt Romney has a radio ad that is making fun of the
president`s comment in the debate about horses and bayonets because they
wanted to drive up that military turnout.

But Colin Powell`s endorsement might be able to offset that a little
bit. And also, attorney general Beau Biden of Delaware, who is the vice
president`s sun and a military veteran is heading into Virginia and North
Carolina this weekend to campaign for the president. So right now, this is
part of a situation that might help the president offset some of that vote
that Mitt Romney should be winning in those states.

SHARPTON: Now, Ryan, today Mitt Romney was in Ohio. He was talking
about a big change. Let me show you what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Given the big challenges we have and the big election we
have, it`s time for a big change. And Paul Ryan and I represent a big
change for America. It`s going to start getting better just with the news
we voted for big change.

It`s time for a big change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, Ryan, is this a big change when the daily -- the
Dallas morning news reports today that Dick Cheney is fundraising for
Romney today in Texas. Quote, "former vice president Dick Cheney is
headlining a fund-raiser for Mitt Romney today in at Dallas Love Field.
Also, scheduled to appear are National GOP chairman Reince Priebus and
political pundit Glenn Beck."

Is that a big change? Dick Cheney raising money for you with Glenn
Beck?

GRIM: Yes. Romney even went back or sent Paul Ryan back to the same
place where they filmed the 47 percent fund-raiser. So, you know, the
campaign is dry for cash and seems to kind of overwhelm its political
instinct sometimes.

But you know, the thing is we don`t it`s Mitt Romney, whether or not
this is going to be chained. If it`s the Mitt Romney who showed up for
Monday night`s foreign policy debate where he was basically is hugging the
president`s ankles and saying, whoa, what that guy said, that`s what I
believe, then you know, that`s not much change.

But if it`s the Mitt Romney who is, you know, having a fund-raiser
with Dick Cheney and Glenn Beck and who has something like 17 or 20 Bush
foreign policy advisers advising him on his campaign, then yes, that`s
going to be a change back to what we had, you know, under the Bush years.
And, you know, it`s apparently a low bar for what it takes in foreign
policy, you are Collin Powell said. He said Obama didn`t start a new war.
Baby steps. And you know what? That, he didn`t just talking for us. So,
I guess, you know, there may be steps. We`ll take that on the foreign
policy front.

SHARPTON: Let me ask, Erin, in the short time we have left.
Republicans already showing (INAUDIBLE) endorsement. Listen to what John
McCain had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I used to be a great admirer of Colin
Powell. We were friends. I think one of the sad aspects of his career is
going to United Nations security council and telling them things about Iraq
that were absolutely false. All I can say is that general Powell, you
disappoint us and you have harmed your legacy even further.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, you know, that`s interesting to me, Erin, that he
would call Mr. Powell`s appearance at the U.N. sad in his life when Mr.
Powell was saying what they gave him and senator McCain supported. I mean,
talking about Dick Cheney and then, that`s what Powell was doing was
saying, the information that the administration had supported. But, is
these sour grapes from senator McCain because Colin Powell also didn`t
endorse him in 2008 and supported then senator Obama?

MCPIKE: Well, Al, you took the words right out of my mouth. That`s
just what I was going to say, that it is sour grapes, very much so for John
McCain. But also, the fact that one of Mitt Romney`s top surrogates in
John McCain came out and had to criticize Colin Powell, tells you that this
endorsement really stung, not only for John McCain but for Mitt Romney as
well.

GRIM: And Reverend, let me just add to that.

SHARPTON: Ryan Grim and Erin --

GRIM: Colin Powell has apologized for that presentation to the U.N.
and if John McCain has apologized for the things that led us into war, I
missed that.

SHARPTON: All right. Good point.

Ryan Grim and Erin McPike, thank you for your time tonight.

GRIM: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, today President Obama did something that no
president has ever done before and it could be big in this election.

And something weird is going on. Mitt Romney keeps throwing out good
news. Today he said something about Ohio. It`s really curious. We`re
going straight to that straight ahead. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Have you joined the POLITICS NATION conversation on
Facebook yet? Today, everyone was excited to see the President vote early.
Michelle says, always making history. How wonderful.

And Tee says, he`s leading by example, like a leader should. Folks
have been sending us photos of their early voting experiences, too.
Melissa sent us this picture she took in the hour-long line she waited to
vote in Charlotte and Douglas sent us this picture of the long line snaking
around a library in Goldberg, North Carolina. He says, voters are fired
up. We want to see you cast your ballot.

Go to our Facebook page. That`s facebook.com/POLITICS NATION to share
your early voting photos with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Governor Romney`s got a new strategy. No matter what`s
actually happening in the race, he just acts like he`s winning. It`s the
fake it until you make it campaign. Romney aides telling "New York Times"
that, quote, "cultivating the image that he is a winner could be Mr.
Romney`s best strategy for actually winning."

Wait a minute. What happened to the numbers guy, the bottom line
businessman? News flash. The Romney campaign is now driven by the power
of thinking.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. GOV. MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want you to know
how
optimistic I am. This is about to get real good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Romney wants everyone to think things are real good. He`s
sending out blast -- e-mail blasts about fundraising. Look, mom, I`m
bringing home the bacon. And he`s trying so hard to convince everyone that
his campaign is on the move. He released a memo saying, Ohio is, quote, "A
dead heat with Romney on an unmistakable track." A dead heat? An upward
track?

Poll out yesterday shows President Obama is ahead by five percent in
the state. Is that the upward track they are talking about? Yes. We all
know Governor Romney narrowed the gap after the first presidential race and
debate but things have been flat for two weeks. More and more journalists
are calling Romney`s bluff. This so called momentum. So don`t believe the
Romney hype. We`re on to his strategy of fauxmentum.

Joining me now is Steve Kornacki, co-host of "THE CYCLE" here on
MSNBC. And democratic strategist Margie Omero. Thank you both for coming
on the show tonight.

STEVE KORNACKI, CO-HOST, "THE CYCLE": You`re welcome.

MARGIE OMERO, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Good evening, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Steve, does this seem to be the way campaigns act when they
have real momentum? I mean, what`s going on with the Romney campaign?

KORNACKI: Yes. I think there`s obviously a recognition on their part
that a couple of things have happened since the first debate. As you saw
the polls have narrowed in Ohio and battleground states, and they have
actually moved into a very, very slight lead in most of the national
polling average. You know, less than a point. But they have never been
ahead in the national polling averages before the first debate.

But when you`re now down to the last two weeks and you start looking
at the electoral vote situation, they are facing, you know, two to three,
four point gaps in Wisconsin and Ohio and there really is almost no way for
Romney if he can`t pick off one of those states. I just don`t see the path
beyond that.

So, I think they look at it and say, you know, one of two things have
to happen to get them over the hump there. One is, they need some kind of
extra spike in enthusiasm among republican voters. It`s hard to do because
there`s so much enthusiasm among republican voters already but maybe, you
know, the idea of momentum, the idea that he`s on the verge of victory
would help there or the other thing is, create some kind of late movement
among swing voters, voters who might be very soft Obama supporters right
now.

And you know, the idea of momentum begets momentum. Maybe, if they
can put the idea out there that, hey, you know, they are about to defeat
Obama. It can take the most wobbly Obama supporters and move them over. I
think there`s obviously a recognition on their part that they need
something to move two to three points in the last two weeks in those key
states, and two to three points is a lot in the last two weeks of a race.

SHARPTON: Now, Margie, there are two brand new battleground polls out
today. In Colorado, the president is tied with Romney. In Nevada, he`s
established a three-point lead. So all of this Romney momentum doesn`t
really translate when you look at the polls. I don`t know what he`s
looking at.

OMERO: Well, I certainly don`t begrudge him his strategy. I mean,
that`s a perfectly fine strategy. But ultimately, the state of the state
in Electoral College is not going to change. That`s the one thing we know
for sure is not going to change between now and Election Day. And states
like Ohio, Romney has to win. States like Nevada, a lot of handicappers
are saying, you know, pretty much going to go democrat. People now put
that in the blue column.

And looking at polls, whether it`s in Ohio or Wisconsin, even some
states that are swinging like Florida that are in play like Virginia, you
see some stagnation and the articles that you mentioned in the beginning
where you have Mark Blumenthal, he`s my editor of the Huffington Post and
Nate Silver over at "New York Times" and Crystal -- Washington Post. Those
are probably the three best experts on this and the consensus is the
momentum, you know, came really after the first debate and is pretty much
stabilized.

Now, that doesn`t mean that Mitt Romney can`t win. It doesn`t mean
that he can`t move in the next two weeks and certainly people should vote.
If you`re an early voting state, you should vote. No one should feel
complacent, not on either side. But it does mean that the real moment that
we had Mitt Romney really control the dialogue was after that first debate.
There haven`t been a whole lot of moments, other than that moment where
Mitt Romney has been controlling the message and right now where you have
Colin Powell`s endorsement, you have the Richard Mourdock`s comments, you
have the Romney campaign on the back foot, and we`ll see how that`s going
to extend now in the final stretch.

SHARPTON: And you also had a pretty bad debate about Romney in the
last debate. Steve, let me also say this. Many of us feel that the ground
game, what goes on the ground, the ability to pull out voters is going to
be decisive and when you look at that, team Obama seems to have the
advantage on at least the field offices, if that tells a story. In Ohio,
President Obama has 131 field offices compared to Romney`s 40. In Florida,
President Obama has 106 compared to Governor Romney`s 47. In Virginia,
President Obama has more than double. Sixty one to 30. So field offices
any indication of the thoroughness or the breadth of the field operation or
the ground game, the President looks good in these swing states.

KORNACKI: Yes, I think you have a couple things going on there.
One, there is an enthusiasm gap if you look at the polling, there`s an
enthusiasm gap between the parties right now. So it takes -- it will
probably take less effort on Republicans part to get their people to turn
out on Election Day because they are so motivated to go out and vote Obama
out. It`s more of a labor I think on the democratic side to try to achieve
something approximating parity there.

However, there`s an obvious opportunity there when you look at the
polls for Democrats because there is a disconnect between looking at the
polling models that look at likely voters, that throughout, you know,
they`re all registered voters and look, only likely voters, Romney performs
much better in those than he does when you have, you know, all registered
voters. So the bigger the pool of voters, is the more people who
participate and the more people who the Obama campaign is able to bring out
through its own mobilization efforts. That will obviously I think work,
you know, work towards Obama`s advantage.

SHARPTON: Well, we`ll see. I`m seeing a lot of long lines in early
voting and all of the polls are saying they are going overwhelmingly so far
for the president. But we`ll see. Steve Kornacki and Margie Omero, thanks
for your time tonight.

KORNACKI: Sure.

OMERO: Thank you.

SHARPTON: And catch Steve on "THE CYCLE" weekdays at 3:00 p.m.
Eastern right here on MSNBC.

Coming up, President Obama makes history by doing something that
Republicans have been trying to stop others from doing all over the
country. It could determine who wins this election.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The day President Obama did what no president has ever done
before. He flew back home to Chicago, so he could cast his vote early in
person. Before Election Day and he even had to show ID because that`s the
law in Illinois for early voters. Though not for voters on Election Day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: Hello? Good to see you. To
this young lady? She looks like she`s in charge.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: He needs an ID.

OBAMA: Oh, I bet your right.

(LAUGHTER)

I`ve got my driver`s license.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: OK.

OBAMA: Here you go.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It says here that you received the absentee
ballot, is this it?

OBAMA: I assume it is. I hope so. If not, this will be really
embarrassing.

Did you just look to see --

(LAUGHTER)

How about that? Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The President joined more than seven million Americans who
have already voted early. His campaign is working hard to bank as many of
these pre-election day voters as possible.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: All across the country we`re seeing a lot of early voting. It
means you don`t have to figure out whether you need to take time off work,
figure out how to pick up the kids and still cast your ballot. If
something happens on Election Day, you will have already taken care of it.
If it`s bad weather, you won`t get wet or, in Chicago, snowy. But, you
know, this was really convenient. I can`t tell you who I voted for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Early voting was a key factor in his 2008 victory and this
year it looks like the President`s got an edge again. New polling shows
him ahead with early voters. Up by 15 points in North Carolina. Thirty
six points in Iowa. And 30 points in Ohio. Those numbers explain why all
year Republicans have been trying to limit early voting and suppress the
vote.

Joining me now, two men who stood up to protect the rights of voters
in Ohio. Democratic election officials Dennis Lieberman and Tom Ritchie
were fired by Ohio`s republican secretary of state for trying to protect
voting rights, for standing up for more voting hours. Today a judge
refused to give them their jobs back. Thank you both for being here. And
let me just say, you are two champions for democracy and we are all sorry
for this ruling and that it didn`t go your way. We are all losers in this.

Dennis, let me start with you. Does this ruling today make you regret
your decision to stand up for voting rights?

DENNIS LIEBERMAN, FORMER OHIO ELECTIONS OFFICIAL: Absolutely not.
Tom and I were talking about this earlier. We would not have changed a
thing. We would have done everything exactly the way that we did it. This
was never about Tom and I. This has been, from the very beginning, about
allowing people to vote and about making it accessible. And about doing
the right thing. And I feel we`ve done that.

Today`s ruling was only about whether we should be granted a
preliminary injunction. In the sixth circuit, that`s a difficult thing to
have obtained. We knew it was an outside chance but we tried. And we
don`t regret it. We don`t regret a thing.

SHARPTON: Now, Tom, after all that you`ve gone through with your
Secretary of State Jon Husted, do you trust the voting process in Ohio?

THOMAS RITCHIE, FORMER OHIO ELECTIONS OFFICIAL: Oh, absolutely. I
think that we`re going to see what Dennis and I stood up for is the same
principles we started this job with and that`s to give the voters the right
to vote as often as they did in 2008 and with the federal court`s ruling,
those folks are going to be able to vote early. They are going to be able
to vote on the weekend before Election Day. So what we`ve stood up for has
been accomplished in one way. And I wouldn`t change one thing. I think
that our folks need to get out.

The Secretary of State is not going to suppress the vote in Ohio.
We`re going to win for Barack Obama on Election Day and we`re going to
carry Montgomery County to the top of the blue tag and the rest of the
state of Ohio. There is no way that this Secretary of State is going to
fool the people of Ohio and we intend to win this election. This is just
one mild stop along the way for Dennis and I. We have done the right
thing, we`re proud of what we`ve done, and we appreciate the support that
we`ve gotten from the people in Ohio.

Everywhere we`ve been, people have stood up with us, our friends are
there, our families are there. And you are there with us. And you know
what, on Election Day, when our President`s re-elected, we`re going to be
proud to stand up with him and everyone that helped get him elected.

SHARPTON: Well, that`s inspiring. Let me ask you, do you think
Dennis, Tom, do you think that any of these things by Husted has in any way
stopped people from voting?

RITCHIE: Absolutely not.

LIEBERMAN: Yes. In fact, I was joking with somebody the other day
that when this is all done, I think I might nominate him for democrat of
the year because he has done more by firing Tom and I to get people in Ohio
excited to come out and vote and to bring the national attention, the whole
arena of early voting. It`s remarkable. I think it`s backfired on him and
I think people are coming out in droves to vote and to vote for President
Obama.

RITCHIE: In our county alone, we`re ahead of where we were at the
same time frame in 2008. So that ought to paint a picture of what is going
to happen. He`s got a plan. A plan for defeat and we`re going to win for
Barack Obama and our county and in this state. No doubt in our minds.

SHARPTON: So people are reminded he tried to eliminate souls to the
poll voting days, he`s fighting the punish voters for poll workers`
mistake. Fired Lieberman and Ritchie, the two of you for standing up, and
earlier in person voting in Ohio was 28,000 votes in 2008. Now it`s so far
28,023. So it seems like you`re going to have more. Well, you already
have more votes than you had in 2008. I end this by how I began it.

You are two champions for democracy and I want you to know that many
people around the country starting or ending with me, whatever your
preference, really admire and respect you. You put your jobs on the line
and lost them to stand up, the least all of us can do is go to the polls
and stand up and vote.

Dennis Lieberman, Thomas Ritchie, thank you both for your time tonight
and thank you for standing up.

LIEBERMAN: Thank you for everything you`ve done.

RITCHIE: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Does the Romney family own voting machines? Our Facebook
fans have been asking. We have answers, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: I close tonight with a story that a lot of people have been
worrying about and asking me to look into. There have been reports of ties
between Mitt Romney`s family and some of the voting machines being used in
this election. Here`s what we know. Tagg Romney, the governor`s oldest
son, is the founder of an investment firm named Solamere Capital. Tagg`s
firm has investments in another company called HIG Capital. And that
company is itself a major investor in HART Intercivic, a firm that builds
voting machines used all across the country.

In particular, people are worried about the HART voting machine that
will be used in two counties in the battleground state of Ohio. Now,
election officials in those counties insist that HART has nothing to do
with the operation and maintenance of the machines in this election. As
far as Tagg Romney`s involvement in all of this, his company is pretty far
removed from these machines. But we will keep an eye on this.

We are looking and trying to connect the dots. But we also need to
focus on the issues we know we have right now. Voter fraud, voter
suppression, voter (audio gap). These are all real and we know that they
are happening all across the country. That`s why I`m in Tennessee tonight
and be in Florida on the weekend.

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

,