October 28, 2012
Guests: Jim Graves, Shelby Knox, Greg Palace, Dorian Warren, John Rowley,
Tara Dowdell, Jacob Soboroff
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning my advice. Extremism is
not a winning strategy. Are you listening GOP?
Plus in Florida, the souls are headed to the polls right now.
And the other election on November 6th that could immediately change your
But first, the one simple word that may determine the whole thin thing.
Good morning, I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
First thing this morning, we want to give everyone an update on the latest
on the path of Hurricane Sandy. The storm is expected to bring life
threatening conditions to the East Coast. High wind watches and warnings
are in effect for portions of the mid-Atlantic states as well as much of
New England. The center of Sandy will move parallel to the southeast Coast
of the U.S. today and will approach land tomorrow night.
Both the Romney and Obama campaigns have canceled scheduled events already
due to Sandy. So if you`re in an affected area, stay inside, stay off the
roads and stay tuned into MSNBC.
All right. Now, let`s turn to the final countdown. I wanted to sing that
but I don`t have a very good singing voice. But here we are in the final
days and we can all agree that the way a political candidate runs a race is
important. But how a candidate closes the deal is crucial. And with just
one more week left until Election Day, this is when the candidates` closing
strategies kick in.
While we have harped on battleground states, a new analysis by the
associated press shows in the race to 270, it may come down to 106
counties. These are counties with names like Hamilton County, Ohio,
Loudoun County, Virginia, and Hills Borough County, Florida. These 106
keys counties at the same ones that George W. Bush won in 2004 and that
then senator Obama wan in 2008.
These are the swing voters. And part of the candidates` closing strategy
is to hit at as many of these areas as possible before Election Day.
Because the latest polls show that the race in battle ground states like
Ohio have President Obama leading Mitt Romney by five points when counting
both early voters and Ohioans who will actually vote on Election Day. But
the overall race is a dead heat among Ohioans who are going to cast their
ballot on November 6th.
So how does President Obama or Mitt Romney break the stalemate among the
voters? Well, they can basically you one of two tried and true method in
closing the deals, either you ruled the undecided or you fire up the base.
For President Obama, it has become increasingly clear that the strategy is
about one word, early.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can vote early in
Illinois, we can vote early in Illinois. Just like you can vote right now
in Florida. Just like you can vote early in Colorado. Just like you can
vote early here in Nevada. You can vote early. Anybody who is here who
has not yet voted, I want you to go vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So did you get the message Obama supporters some vote, vote,
vote, early, early, early. It is a message directed specifically at the
base. And to drive the point home about early voting, President Obama went
home to cast his vote this past Thursday in Chicago.
This is the first time a sitting president has voted early. And the
campaign also circulated a photo of first lady Michelle Obama showing off
her prepared absentee ballot. Now, they have it up on their Web site, too,
in case you haven`t had any campaign ads to remind you. I figured, hell,
in photos and photos of have gone early, I might as well join the party.
So I voted earlier this week.
Now, while that message may have been pretty clear, the Obama campaign has
had a few mixed messages. See, their daily e-mails have ranged from the
race is close giving voters a sense that they might lose at any moment to
them having a bit of swagger. We got this.
Now, Mitt Romney on the other hand has chosen to go full tilt with his
swagger. I can`t even believe I just said Romney and swagger in the same
sentence. But here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want you to know how optimistic
I am. This is about to get real good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: This is about to get real good. See, Romney`s closing
strategy is to ride the alleged wave of Mitt momentum, you know, appear
leak a winner. Or is it?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: By the way, there`s early voting now. Make sure that you get
voted early. We want to get that done. We want to bank all those vote.
Early voting has begun. I need you to vote. I get your neighbors to vote.
I need you to find one person who voted for Barack Obama last time and get
them to come out and vote for us this time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So maybe Mitt Romney is also taking a two prong
way, he`s down for early voting, too, or maybe he has a bit of Romnesia
about what his closing strategy is supposed to be.
Whatever the case, the two strategies that they have chosen to undertake
tells us this. President Obama has eight days to win this election. Mitt
Romney has nine. Because he`s betting on a big turn out on Election Day.
Listen, Romney may be on to something given that in 2008, there were states
that then candidate Obama lost on Election Day. But he carried them
because of his campaigns early voting strategy. And right now polls show
that in key states like Ohio, President Obama leads Mitt Romney 2-1 or 60
percent to 30 percent with early voters. Remains to be seen what strategy
will seal the deal and who will win this election. But come Election Day,
it will be clear whether the right strategy was galvanize voters early,
early, early, or just hope they show up on Election Day.
At the table, Tara Dowdell, a Democratic strategist, Ari Melber, an MSNBC
contributor and correspondent for "the Nation," John Rowley, Democratic
strategist and president of Fletcher Rally media and Dorian Warren,
assistant professor of political science and international of public
affairs at Columbia University., also sometimes known as the prince of
All right. We -- look, this is it. These are the final days. Ari Melber,
got this. High on because we are - no, this is serious politics. So
what`s happening here particularly among my strategists. Is it about
targeting 106 counties, is it about early, early, is it about swing voters,
what is the winning strategy here?
JOHN ROWLEY, MEDIA CONSULTANT: Well, I think what is going on is we have a
governor`s race for Ohio going on and Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are the
candidates. I think it is dead on in terms of focusing in on specific
counties because, I mean, everyone`s focused on Ohio and I think to some
degree candidates and people down at the county level in Ohio may have
better feel than some looking at polls and super PACs at the national
HARRIS-PERRY: All right, so - I`m sorry. We`ve been having a mike
problem. We have been having a bit of a challenge with this. But if you
didn`t hear out there, John `s just saying we have a governor`s race in
Ohio and Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are the candidates in a certain way.
Tara, maybe your mic is working. What do you think is out there?
TARA DOWDELL, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think that you are right, the
early voting is key. And part of that early voting strategy is also focus
on two groups. What I call soft supporters, those are folks who voted for
President Obama in 2008, they have not seen the progress that they would
have hoped to have seen, but they still support him, but they`re not
necessarily going to be compelled to vote early. So to push those people
to the poll.
The second group is newly registered voters. The president had done an
amazing job on the ground of getting folks registered to vote in those key
counties, those key swing states, getting those people to vote early as
well because they may be turned off on Election Day if the lines are too
long, if they deal with some of the obstructionism that I think we can
HARRIS-PERRY: All right to Ari, this is geo-TV all the way. And you know,
as I was looking at those 106 counties, you know, I think we think of them
as like swing voters or undecided voters, but it`s not really that, right?
Its people really sort have their minds made up. It`s just which one of he
is them that live in that county show up, right? So, is it really just
about how to get those souls to the polls?
ARI MELBER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think so. And I think what was so good
about your introduction was that when we listen to these candidates right
now, we`re hearing pretty different arguments and that`s because Barack
Obama is deep into his closing argument of the base as you explained
because of the electorate he`s mobilizing. And Mitt Romney is still
actually trying to reach more persuadable voters. That`s why it sounds so
gif different. That`s why frankly, the president said just this week, you
know, you don`t want these politicians most of whom are male getting
between you and your doctor. And he made it a gender feminist argument.
He is talking about choice I went as issues, then, Barack Obama has a clear
and consistent position on that his whole life which is different than
But I do think that it would be fair to say that three weeks ago Barack
Obama was not talking all about choice and other base arguments. And so,
that`s why again in Ohio, you have Mitt Romney still trying to make a sale
and he`s trying to explain his position in the auto bailout because he is
trying to talk to people who might be up in the air.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right, Dorian, I was interested because I saw there`s one
little difference that happened with the Obama campaign. Their sign has
been or their slogan has been forward. But it`s been forward with a
period, right? And just this week, it turned into forward with an
exclamation mark, right? And that feels like exactly this point, right
there. They are already deep in their closing argument, and so now it`s
DORIAN WARREN, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Remember earlier this year, David
Axelrod was asked about the period and he insisted that was exactly what
the campaign wanted. And now, the week before we see exclamation point.
There`s something about the article about the 106 counties. And that is
the core assumption underlined the role of those swing voters is that the
bases is going to turn out as roughly the same numbers in 2008.
So I think that`s partly the reason why we see this focus on base voters,
black voters, souls to the polls in the context of voter suppression, women
in particular are the folks that, as Ari said, that the president is going
after. So you have to have at least the same turnout among the bases as
you it in 2008 to make those counties important.
HARRIS-PERRY: To make them critical.
So John, let me ask you this. In these sort of final moments to get the
base there, and is it advertising? Is it the actual campaign offices? I
was reading a piece suggesting that the president has like 8,000 versus
3,000 on the Romney side in terms of actual offices open. What is the
thing that moves people to show up?
ROWLEY: Well, in terms of advertising, those missiles have been launched
and what was going to happen has been decided weeks ago. And so I think
that most candidates and both of these candidates are focused on two
things, one, kind of filling in weak areas. So, you see that with the new
myth of the moderate Mitt who is now emerged and then, Obama has released
his plan and then, everything else is in terms of what they`re saying on
the stump, I think it`s totally about base mobilization.
HARRIS-PERRY: I love myth of the moderate Mitt. I love that.
Up next, we`re going to actually take a look at early voting. We are going
to go live to Florida and see what the lines look like there.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, we have been talking about the strategy of early voting
and who better to talk about that than MSNBC anchor, Craig Melvin who is in
the thick of it as bold, deadly square in Gainesville, Florida right by the
key early voting location. Yesterday, marked the first day of early voting
Craig, what are you seeing down there?
CRAIG MELVIN, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Melissa Harris-Perry. Let me tell you,
it was quite the scene. Today we are in Gainesville, Florida. But
yesterday we were hours south. We were down in Miami, we were in Broward
County. We hit a couple of polling places there. And what we wanted to
find out, we want to find out the number of things. First of all, is
enthusiasm where it was four years ago. And turnout. Is turnout higher
than expected or less than what they were expecting.
And what we found out yesterday, enthusiasm higher than probably what many
folks have been reporting and turn out considerably higher than what folks
were expecting. I want to give you some numbers here.
Yesterday in Pembroke pines, this is where I was. And I think we have got
some video here. You can see the lines wrapped around the building. Some
folks said they stood in line for two hours. First day `08, 12,000 early
voters. First day in 2008, this is in Miami-Dade county. Yesterday 22,
625 voters. Leon Kelly Hillsborough County, as well, we talked to folks in
those counties, all of them saying that they saw higher numbers, higher
early voter numbers than they did four years ago.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, Craig, that is interesting. Because I know that we in
the media have been critiqued in part for a narrative about lack of
enthusiasm and suggesting that we don`t have the same sense of like, you
know, America history changing, momentum that the president had in 2008.
But with numbers like that, at a minimum what you`ve got is message
received from the Obama campaign about showing up to vote early.
MELVIN: Yes. And a number of folks I talked yesterday called me on some
of those characterizations and called me on some of those narratives that
we have all been talking about over the past few months.
And I will tell you one other thing that a number of folks said, one of the
things that drove them to the polls early, a gentleman just told me this,
well, who came to vote this morning. A lot of the talk about vote are
restrictions, and a lot of the talk about the voter I.D. stuff, folks said
they wanted to get out early to demonstrate to the media and to demonstrate
to others that we are serious and that you are not going to restrict our
So it also doesn`t hurt that here in Florida, there hasn`t been a cloud in
the sky for two days and it is 75 degrees probably.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Well, Craig, I`m slightly jealous, a little bit, but
thank you so much for joining us from Florida. And Craig is going be
anchoring more coverage live from Florida from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. Eastern
later today on MSNBC.
All right. So, if we have Craig Melvin down there and in fact, we have got
early voting in Florida as one strategy of the Obama campaign. But, the
fact is both campaigns are trying to use a strategy right now; that sounds
like its right out of the long running NPR show car talk. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I love cars. I must admit, I`m a car guy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Romney is a car guy.
ROMNEY: I`m a son of Detroit. I was born in Detroit. My dad was head of
a car company. I like American cars and I would do nothing to hurt the
U.S. auto industry.
OBAMA: If you say that you love American cars during a debate, but you
wrote an article entitled let Detroit go bankrupt, you might have Romnesia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Mr. Romney tries to have voters believe that he`s a car guy,
proud son of George Romney, held of American motors. But there is that op-
ed that will haunt him for the next nine days. And the title says it all.
Let Detroit go bankrupt.
Romney might have been voicing his opposition to bailing out the auto
companies and instead managed - you know, wanted to go with a managed
bankruptcy. But it translated as though he want Detroit to just go away
And while the auto industry is making a slow and somewhat staggered
comeback, it walk as fine line between bankruptcy and solvency. What the
auto industry knows is that President Obama`s plan did not give up on the
American car or American car manufacturing. And that may translate in the
president`s favor beyond Michigan into key battleground states like Ohio
where recent polls show him doing better among white male voters than in
other parts of the country.
So Ari, to me this notion of Romney trying to sell himself as an Autobot
when he`s clearly Decepticons, is you know, like the strategic audity that
he can keep saying, oh, I love cars, I love cars, when we have that let
Detroit go bankrupt headline.
MELBER: It is such a key distinction between these two candidates because
this really goes to the entire mindset of their world views. Mitt Romney
is a private equity guy. And so, when he sees an investment that he
doesn`t think is basically creating the returns in the short run that it
should, he does what private equity guys do which is let`s get out of it.
That is a good business model. You can make money doing that. Fine.
You can`t run a country like that. Because as the New Yorkers said in
their endorsement of Barack Obama, unlike a company, a country can`t layoff
its least productive citizens, right? It can`t give up on them because we
are in this together. And Barack Obama at bottom is a public
infrastructure guy. Not just because he runs the federal government in his
current job. But because he`s had a philosophy for a long time from
organizing to his work in the academy and that`s what this is about. He
got in there, he spent money, he renewed those businesses. And what you
have on the ground in Ohio right now is Mitt Romney running adds that the
Obama campaign was rebutting just this morning when he still pushing the
lie about GP, still trying to distract people from the record.
HARRIS-PERRY: And you know, Ari, this is such a good point that Romney`s
narrative is I`m a good business guy so put me in charge of government.
And your point is yes, you might totally be a good business guy, feel free
to go run a business somewhere. But, that is not the same thing as being
good at running government.
What I find interesting here is sort what that means in terms of how the
president is doing better in Ohio among white voters. So we have in Ohio
Obama doing seven to 11 points better among white voters and white men
specifically than he does nationally in part because of this.
WARREN: I think -- so 850,000 jobs related to the auto industry in the
state of Ohio. One in eight jobs in Ohio is an auto related job. That`s
WARREN: And when you add to that the mobilization against SB5 last year,
the anti-collective bargaining bill that did pass the legislature, but
then, the ballot initiative reversed that; that brought together a
coalition of white union members with African-Americans and Latinos that
did not go home after that ballot initiative. They are still mobilized and
So those two things, the fact that it`s an auto state and the attack on the
labor movement last year is actually working to the president`s favor right
now. And the other striking thing is Michigan is not even in play.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, right.
WARREN: This is the son of the governor of Michigan is not in play.
HARRIS-PERRY: Massachusetts is not in play either. And he was in fact the
governor of Massachusetts. We`re running long here, but I just want to ask
you specifically about this question of cars because we are talking about
the importance of it in the issue of Ohio, but American cars are a symbolic
issue. Doesn`t this play beyond Ohio?
ROWLEY: It plays everywhere. But also, it`s been part of the slight
economic comeback that`s happening in Ohio. That`s where some of the good
economic news is and that is why the president is doing so well. And I
think Mitt Romney is going to get so desperate in Ohio. I think he is
going to put on an Ohio state jersey.
ROWLEY: It`s just a matter of time. He will do anything and I can see him
ripping up a wolverine jersey and putting on OSU.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. We are going to stay on this topic because when we
come back, there is more to this Mitt Romney autobot story because he made
millions from the auto industry bailout and that makes it ugly.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s one thing to be against the auto bailout in principle.
It`s entirely another thing when you profit from the very bailout that you
opposed. So says "the Nation`s" magazine recent cover story, Mitt Romney`s
bailout bonanza and how he made millions from the rescue of Detroit.
The piece shows the ties between Mitt and Ann Romney`s blind trust and the
hedge funds which took over Delphi automotive, a move which the piece
charges made the Romneys at least $15.3 million on the very bailout that he
did not support.
Still with me is Tara Dowdell and joining her is Greg Palace who wrote that
piece for "the Nation." He is BBC television producer and author of
"billionaires and ballot bandits."
Greg, how are you able to find this out? I love this story. I know it is
also in the book, but I`m a little shocked, I suppose, and it`s not front
page news on every major national magazine.
GREG PALACE, PRODUCER, BBC TELEVISION: Well, two questions. How did I get
it? Number one, it`s not a blind trust that Ann Romney has. I call it a
blond trust. I`m a financial investigator. It was easy to see right
through it and you`ll tell me that the CEO of Bain capital didn`t know what
was in his own trust?
PALACE: That it was mainly invested with a guy named Paul Zinger, known as
the vulture who happens to be Mitt Romney`s number one key donor. So
Romney didn`t know his blind trust happened one in a million to be invested
with his key donor and he didn`t know the number one investment of the
vulture was the Delco auto parts division of GM? They crank it. And by
the way, the Romney campaign has now confirmed that he made the money and
it looks like it may be at the top of the range $115 million.
HARRIS-PERRY: So let me ask you this. If he`d released his tax returns,
would we all know - like in another words, would we have needed
investigative reporting if he just release the tax returns?
PALACE: Yes, you would.
PALACE: Because he`s hiding it very well.
HARRIS-PERRY: I see.
PALACE: He`s taken the money, he earned the 15 to $115 million and moved
it, the incorporation of the - of General Motors parts division, now called
Delphi corporation, moved it from Troy, Michigan to the a rock, of the
island of France called the Isle of Jersey. It is a notorious tax haven.
That`s where the money is now hidden.
HARRIS-PERRY: The Isle of Jersey is not New Jersey.
PALACE: Leave the boss out of it. Exactly. So yes, they moved all the
jobs. And this is the other side of the story which people have not
noticed. The vulture and his silent partner, Romney, took over the auto
parts division of General Motors. They moved the 25 plants that they had
control of, they moved 24 of those plants to China and Asia. Every plant.
They didn`t save those plants. It wasn`t like this was like GM.
PALACE: He actually got rid of the employees, moved the jobs to China and
moved his money to a rock off the coast of France.
HARRIS-PERRY: Wow. So Tara, if I`m - 2012 and I`m reading "the Nation"
cover story or I managed to pick up Greg`s book, how do you turn this kind
of information, which clearly seems to suggest deception on the part of Mr.
Romney at a minimum - a set of sort of financial dealings that make us
nervous as Americans, how do you turn it into political strategy without
sounding like you are whining that this guy made some millions? Don`t all
Americans want to make millions?
DOWDELL: Well, I think one of the things that the president has started to
do, when you see the campaign doing, is making sure that the groups that
support the president are getting this information out to their members,
through their networks, that the unions are letting this information to be
known to make sure people stay enthusiastic and understand what`s at stake
here. I mean, this is yet another example of Mitt Romney`s hypocrisy.
And if you are someone who were on the cusp of losing their job, on the
cusp of losing everything and you have worked for and now you have that
back, you need to be reminded that that was the president that stood with
you. Mitt Romney didn`t say let Wall Street go bankrupt. He didn`t write
that op-ed. He let Detroit go bankrupt.
HARRIS-PERRY: And Greg, let me ask you. I mean, talk to me about the
actual -- so what Mitt Romney has attempted to do is say well, it really
was my idea, that the very thing the president did was the very thing I was
saying she do. How is it different with the president?
PALACE: Very different. Two things. One, the president wanted to loan
money to the auto industry and save it. In fact, he was - he lend money,
he said we will lend money to Delphi, to General Motor, to buy back its
parts division. But Romney`s group actually said we own it. If you don`t
give us what we want, which is by the way, $12.9 billion, we will cut off
your parts literally. They were going to withhold the steering column,
pretty hard to drive a GM car without steering column and that`s how they
got it. Because the vulture and Romney were not supposed to own Delphi.
It was supposed to go to the owner of the Detroit pistons and GM.
They kind of snatched it away, got the money, moved all the jobs to the
China. And by the way, when you talk about Tara about the unions making
point of it, this week the UAW is going to be filing a formal ethics
complaint with the U.S. government office of ethics in government saying
that Romney cannot legally hide this. You can make a much money as you
want, right? But you can`t hide it. And that will be coming out this
HARRIS-PERRY: I love that, do what you want, but do it in the light of
Thank you, Greg. I really appreciate both the reporting as well as you
coming and spending time with us here to talk about it.
Up next, are a few extremists going to take down the whole GOP or has the
whole GOP become extreme?
HARRIS-PERRY: An essay out this week in the "New Yorker" magazine nicely
sums up the problem facing the Republican party right now. The headline
reads GOP split over whether to emphasize misogyny or racism.
Now, the piece is written by a humorist, Andy Borowitz and of course he`s
not being completely literal. But that doesn`t mean there is not more than
a shade of truth to it. Because to hear them speak lately, one has to
wonder, are Republicans chosen to go isolate themselves further from women
or from people of color?
Let`s start with misogyny. And folks I mean, just in the last ten days,
there was congressman Joe Walsh of Illinois who after a debate with his
Democratic opponent Tammy Duckworth had this to say about his iron clan
opposition to abortion.
Quote "the modern technology and science, you - because of with modern
technology and science, you can`t find one instance, there is no such
exception as life of the mother and as far as health of the mother, the
Congratulations, ladies. Thanks to modern technology and science, we are
immortal. Oh, and of course we can`t forget Richard Mourdock, the Indiana
senate candidate who said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD MOURDOCK, INDIANA SENATE CANDIDATE: I believe life begins at
exception. The only exception I have for - to have an abortion is in that
case of the life of the mother. I just struggled with it myself for a long
time, you I came to realized life is that gift from God. And I think even
when life begins in that horrible situation of rape; that it is something
that God intended to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re all impressed with his struggle with that for a long
time and I`ve already said what I`ve had to say with Mr. Mourdock. But, it
wasn`t over with just him. This week, Missouri senate candidate Todd Akin
became a cautionary tale nuking his campaign by uttering the words
legitimate rape. But let`s not make it sound like these guys are the
fringe of the Republican Party, but just less articulate.
Vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan once voted to redefine rape for the
purposes of restricting abortion rights. And he also co-sponsored a
federal person hood bill that would have given a fetus legal rights.
That`s exactly the same kind of measure as his running mate Mitt Romney
told talk show host Mike Huckabee last year that he would support.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE HUCKABBE, TALK SHOW HOST: Would you have supported the constitutional
amendment that would have established the definition of life at conception?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So it`s really clear, it is important to understand that the
members of the GOP making headlines with their outrageous statements, the
Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock in the world are not outliers disconnected
from party leadership.
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan may say it a little differently, but these guys
are all in the same boat rowing in the same direction. And quite frankly,
I think it`s a little terrifying. Back with me, Democratic strategist,
Tara Dowdell and "the Nation`s" Ari Melber, media consultant John Rowley.
And also joining us is a feminist activist, writer and organizer Shelby
So, do the Republicans hate women despite the I love women proclamation
from the Republican party?
SHELBY KNOW, FEMINIST ORGANIZER: I don`t know if they hate, but they he
certainly don`t understand how their bodies work which is interesting
considering this comes from the party of people who have said abstinence
only until marriage, sex education.
HARRIS-PERRY: Which we know, fails.
KNOX: Fails. Over and over again, but obviously they took it and failed.
But I think that what`s important to know here is that Republicans see
reproduction as if they can control that, then they can control all of
those other forms of oppression that you were talking about. You can
forward racism who controlling reproduction. You can forward homophobia
through controlling reproduction. And it`s terrifying that these men who
are running for elected office are saying we want to play God. We want to
tell you what we`re going to do with your bodies. That in fact they`re
invoking God when they said. They say we know what God wants. And as a
religious woman, I want to go, how are you having these special
relationships with God that women can`t have?
HARRIS-PERRY: Shelby, this is not a small point. I don`t want viewers to
miss this. that the control of reproduction is not just about
reproduction. It`s about the economy. That it`s about race. I mean, when
we think about Jim Crow laws, it was all about the (INAUDIBLE), in another
words, not allowing people of two different races to reproduce.
I hadn`t quite put it all together until I heard you say that, so I don`t
want other folks to misses that. And yet surprisingly the gender gap is
less extreme than I might think it would be given these circumstances. Is
it, you know, when I look at the numbers, it says to me, yes, there`s a
gender gap, but it`s still being driven primarily by women of color and by
HARRIS-PERRY: So what`s going on not just with the extremes of the
Republican party, but with women who hear this and I`m like, yes, I`m town
with them. What is that?
DOWDELL: Well, I think the conventional wisdom is that when the
Republicans say these very extreme things, that those women are going to be
turned off and vote if Democrats. I don`t think that`s necessarily always
the case with independent women. It`s not that they don`t reject what is
being said, because they absolutely do. But at the same time sometimes if
you`re independent and you are dead on the in middle, it`s because you
don`t like either party. So, some people get turned off completely and
just won`t support either party. So, I think Democrats have to be careful
to remember you have to make a compelling case as to why you are the
reasonable party, why you are the party they should come to.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, let`s hear vice president Biden make exactly that case
and I will come to you, Tara.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here`s the truth, they
made it very, very clear, made it very clear that they do not believe a
woman has a right to control her own body. They can`t even get up the
gumption to condemn the statements made by two of their candidates for
United States Senate. It is not enough to tell me, you don`t agree. It`s
have the moral courage to stand up and say what they said was wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Is that the strategy, Ari, you link the top to the extremes
and then it`s done?
MELBER: Exactly. And that goes to what you`re saying. There`s an
epistemology of how we know what we know about these different parties and
people. And I don`t think the press and for many years the Democratic
Party did a very good job, you know. You have got a party here that won`t
talk about sex in school as you were saying, but will talk all about rape
and redefining rape which the president was speaking out on.
You have a party that doesn`t want to pay for your health care, but they to
want for come into your doctor`s office and take certain procedures off the
table, right?. So you`ve got incredible hypocrisy and incredibly invasive
and sexist attitudes, but I don`t think they`re always exposed. There is a
saying in hip hop, in my understanding I core hip hop.
HARRIS-PERRY: You can always go hip hop here.
MELBER: There is an old saying act like you know for them to see light and
on from there. Act like you know. We know what`s going on here. And the
problem I have is when I watched, you know, certain shows and certain
television and even newspapers that cover this, it`s like this is news,
this a big deal. Like I didn`t know that most Republican members of
Congress hold these views and want to restrict abortion. This is essential
part of their plan. It was fiest at the platform committee. And I think
to some degree, it`s so hard for the press to tell this story in a way that
matches their notion of balance.
MELBER: Because when you`re opposing half the population with
constitutional right, you can`t sound balanced.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. There is no balance on this. We are going stay on
this. John, I will come to you as soon as we come back.
Because up next, there is a survey that says there`s been an increase in
racial prejudice. I wonder why. Act like you know. I know. Beautiful,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN SUNUNU (R), FORMER NEW HAMPSHIRE GOVERNOR: When you take a look at
Colin Powell, you have to wonder if that`s an endorsement based on issues
or whether he has a slightly different reason for preferring President
PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST, PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT: What reason would that be?
SUNUNU: Well, I think when you have somebody of your own race that you`re
proud of being president of the United States, I applaud Colin for standing
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: All right, John. So, misogyny is the only the first wrong
approach of the Republican Party to make itself irrelevant. The other
piece of it is moving from dog whistle racial angst to sort of straight up
Sununu racial angst.
What happens when it goes from dog whistle to for fog form on race?
ROWLEY: Well, I think what the Republican Party is going to have to deal
with long term is if you win with the tea party, you are going to lose with
the tea party. And so, I think whether we have huge short term gains
because of some of these appeals that are being made and some of these
appeals that are being made and some of these appeals that frankly are more
out of the `50s or `60s, than the decade we are in now and we thought we
have moved past. I think over ten years the Republican Party is in big
Demographics are destiny. And the Demographics in terms of attitude, in
terms of age, in terms of views on race and orientation have moved past
them. And so, I think that`s a big problem. Whether there are short term
gains with women, which I think there still will be, but frankly, probably
the worst thing that could happen to the Republican Party is if Mitt Romney
wins because then there will nobody re-evaluation of the tea party`s role
of the Republican Party.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. I think if he loses, in 2016 they have a field of
potential candidates that includes women and people of color. And you
know, yes, still Republican and conservative, but they, you know, this
particular version of Republicanism, if it could just go ahead and die in
2012, might actually allow them more breathing room long term.
But I got to say, look. When I saw the new AP poll, suggesting that or new
AP research suggesting that racial animus has grown, has got worse, look,
racism is endogenous. It`s not just a thing, right?
And so, what we see is the measure by implicit racial attitudes, the
numbers of Americans with anti-black sentiment has actually jumped to 56
percent from 49 percent. I think that is the fault of racists, racialized
discourse in the public spirit. It doesn`t just happen. It happens
because we actively attack this president in ways that have more than
racial overtones. That feels to me like one ought to be held accountable
DOWDELL: What the Republicans did, and this was brilliant strategy,
shameful but brilliant. They saw that President Obama`s greatest strength,
what drew people on him, was when he said we`re not a red America, we`re
not a blue America, we`re United States of America. He talked about
bringing people together. So they went at that strength. And so they said
people are expecting when he becomes president for things to get better
racially. Which he`s not a magic president.
HARRIS-PERRY: You know about the magic.
MELBER: You said it, I didn`t say it.
DOWDELL: So they went after that. They said if we can create a situation
where we create all this division and then say he`s pl president, why is
there all this division? And that strategy they used and it is working and
we need to call it out and we need to push back.
HARRIS-PERRY: Tara, I absolutely agree that if post racial of this sense
of racial harmony is his strength and you try to create racial division and
say look, he didn`t create racial harmony,
Coming up, we are going to talk more about the extremism in the party by
going to Minnesota to talk to the man who could defeat Michele Bachmann.
HARRIS-PERRY: We have been talking about the very extremes of the
Republican party and there isn`t even enough time in the day. But in that
spirit, I want to talk to someone running against those extremes in this
Let`s go to Minneapolis to speak with Jim Graves, a Democrat running for
Congress in Minnesota`s sixth district against Congresswoman Michele
Nice to see you, Jim.
JIM GRAVES (D), RUNNING AGAINST REP. MICHELE BACHMANN: Hi, Melissa. Good
to be with you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, look. Let me ask you this question. We are trying to
figure out if the extremes that are often represented by the woman that you
are running against, whether or not that is ultimately going to bring down
the Republican party in the short term or if not in the short term, in the
long term. When you run against Ms. Bachmann, do you run against the
extremism that she represents?
GRAVES: No question about it. I mean, Michele Bachmann epitomizes
everything that`s wrong on the women`s issues. She has engaged in a war on
women. She would like to take women back 50 years, go back to the mail
dominant society, control women`s reproductive rights, control their equal
pay, control everything about women. Definitely it`s a war on women and it
is going to definitely be a very important issue in this election.
HARRIS-PERRY: Jim, it`s interesting to hear you say that because clearly
Michele Bachmann is herself a woman. And so, you have sort of a
complicated thing going on here where you`re saying on the one hand, she
herself is a woman and mother and yet her positions are positions that
don`t lead to sort of greater equality, fairness for women in general who
would be your constituents if you won.
GRAVES: Well, you look at the her voting record, she voted against equal
pay for equal work for women. She votes against reproductive rights. She
votes against even women to have access to birth control. I mean, this is
a woman that would like to take that entire half of our society back 50
years and go back to a male dominant society. I mean, this is really why I
came out of my comfort zone.
I`m a strong believer in freedom and equality and for everybody. And when
you see -- she`s endorsed Akin. I mean, she is on the wrong side of this
issue right across the board. I mean, there is no question about that.
HARRIS-PERRY: Jim, as you meet and talk with potential constituents during
the context of this campaign, are folks saying look, what we really want is
a conversation about economics or what sort of things are people saying
about sort of the Bachmann extremism?
GRAVES: Well, the number one thing is people are worried about jobs, they
are worried about making their house payments, they are worried about
getting their kids off to school. They are worried about access to health
These are the core issues that people want. They don`t want these fringe
issues. They don`t really want somebody attacking women`s rights. They
want to talk about getting people back to work and they want equal pay for
equal work for women. Women are a very important part of our society and
in our district. And they want to have equal opportunities. And Michele
Bachmann isn`t there for them.
And that`s why I`ve come out of my comfort zone. I`m a business guy.
Created jobs. I know what it takes to get people back to work. I have a
lot of wonderful, wonderful women that are in management positions. And
quite frankly, I hate seeing what`s going on. And that`s why I`m running
against Michele Bachmann because I hate to see this country going
backwards. We should be going forward.
HARRIS-PERRY: And Jim, I want to back up and ask you, John bring in,
because I know you to a ton of strategizing for local campaigns. Do you
take - in a congressional campaign, do you link a candidate like Michele
Bachmann to sort of a national set of issues or do you stay just on the
ROWLEY: One thing you have on do when dealing with an extremist, and our
history of dealing with extremist goes back to when David Duke ran for
governor of Louisiana years ago is, it can`t just be about extremism. We
have to connect it back to the most meaningful issues of how it impacts
your schools and the economy and what not.
And so, I think that you have to make it broader than just this person is
too extreme. And you have to make a case that they`re wildly out of touch.
We talked about hypocrisy earlier and one race I`m involved in, there`s a
pro-life, pro-family tea party congressman Scott DesJarlias in Tennessee,
and he`s the one who came out he is pro-life with his wife, but pro-choice
with his mistress.
ROWLEY: And this sort of hypocrisy where he was recorded in a conversation
trying to talk a mistress into getting an abortion. And so, you see the
same thing with Michele Bachmann. The hypocrisy and then the disconnect
between where the electorate is on important issues and this extreme
partisan view that she promotes in Washington.
HARRIS-PERRY: Jim, you were talking about coming out of your comfort zone.
If you were to win this and end up in a divided House of Representatives,
how do you imagine managing that given there would be extremists that you
would have to work with?
GRAVES: My whole life has been bringing people telling. In business you
never ask your banker are you a Republican or Democrat or centrist or
whatever. You have a business plan. You have an objective and you go
forth. And you get that accomplished. And that`s what it is. What the
people of America and my district want are real solutions to the real
problems. They don`t want the sound bites. They don`t want the phoniness
that is going around with these extremists. They want real solutions to
the real problems. And that`s what I bring to the table. I`m a real guy.
I mean, live in the real world. I`m not a politician he trying to spin
something to get re-elected. I`m there to do the work of the people, to
serve the people and then when I get done, I`ll go back to what I used to
do, which is live a good life be a business guy. That`s it all about.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Jim Graves in Minnesota who I think potentially
brought in the next part of our hip hop discourse by being real. I love
GRAVES: Thank you, Melissa.
And also thank you to Shelby Knox. The rest are back for more.
And coming up, the masses are this mobilizing and it is this week in voter
suppression. Victory edition, that is next.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
And in a moment, we`re going to get to our latest report on voter
suppression. But, first, an update on Hurricane Sandy, which remains a
category 1 storm. Thirty-two hundred flights have already been canceled
due to Sandy.
And here in New York, Governor Cuomo has directed the MTA to shut down all
rail and bus services citywide by 7:00.
Landfall is expected in New Jersey tomorrow. And the most impacted areas
over the next 48 hours will be Mid-Atlantic states and New England,
affecting between 50 million and 60 million people. If you live in those
regions, please be careful, stay off the roads and double check that you
have batteries and water at home.
Now let`s turn back to the election. Because with just a little more than
a week left until Election Day, we still have a little fodder for our new
and old and all together most important -- "This Week in Voter
Suppression", because there are still 13 states where laws restricting
voting will be in effect on November 6th. There are still plans by
organizations like True the Vote to dispatch 1 million volunteers to
confuse and intimidate voters at the poll. And there are still lingering
accusations and investigations of fraud coming from both parties. That`s
the bad news.
But the deal is there`s also good news and it`s really, really good news.
Voting rights advocates have already won many of the legal battles over
voter suppression and are organizing to defend democracy on Election Day.
The great news is the actual evidence that democracy seems to be
prevailing. Why? Because people are voting. More than 12 million people
have already taken advantage of early voting and cast their ballots.
Our own Joy Reid, managing editor for TheGrio.com, MSNBC contributor and
guest on a canceled flight out of New York talked to some those early
voters on Friday when she did travel to the battleground state of Ohio.
She first sat down with State Senator Tin Turner to talk about the voter
suppression efforts that Ohio has seen this year.
JOY-ANN REID, THEGRIO.COM: What is the issue that you`re most passionate
about when it comes to politics in Ohio?
STATE SEN. NINA TURNER, (D) OHIO: In the state of Ohio in particular, we
corrected the wrongs of 2004, opening up 35 days of early voting. What`s
wrong with that? Why is it that the only type of voting that they`re
attacking here in Ohio is the early in-person vote?
You know why? Because they know it disproportionately African-Americans
utilize that. What about working class people who have to catch bus -- you
know, multiple -- they need multiple modes of transportation to even get to
The more they squeeze and suppress the vote in that way, it hurts not just
African-Americans and Hispanic people, it hurts working class people.
This is 2012, Joy. We should find other opportunities and other vantage
points for people to vote.
JANE PLATTEN, CUYAHOGA COUNTY, OH, BOARD OF ELECTIONS: I think you have
folks that are, again, they are decisive and they know who they`re going to
vote for. So they want to go and vote. Some don`t want to go to the poll
location on Election Day because they`re afraid of long lines and some
trust putting a ballot and a ballot box more than they trust putting a
ballot in a mailbox.
REID: You guys have all voted early?
REID: Why did you decide to come out early?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I save gas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Also, I decided to get it done early instead of
standing in long lines. It`s also important to vote and get out here and
at least get your voices heard.
TURNER: You know, our ancestors may have come here by different means,
different ways, but we`re all in the same boat now. And this is about
everybody having the opportunity to live their measure of the American
dream and part of that is their right to vote. We should open it up for
people, not make it harder for them.
HARRIS-PERRY: And back from Ohio where more than a million people have
already voted early is "The Grio`s" Joy Reid.
All right. So what did you -- I love that you were there. You were on the
ground. You were supposed to be in Florida this morning, but Sandy that
been messing things up.
REID: I`m in Florida --
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. What did you say in Ohio? That looks like a lot of
enthusiasm, a lot of folks showing up to vote early.
REID: Yes. I was surprised. There were a lot of people that were a lot
younger than I expected at the polls. There were a lot of parents bringing
their young first time voter children there.
And the people that we talked to were surprisingly not worried so much
about voter suppression, they were very motivated. I didn`t see the
enthusiasm gap. What I saw were people who were very motivated to vote and
a lot of them had actually voted on Election Day.
A lot of people we talked to said, you know, in `08, I did on Election Day,
it was historic. I wanted to be there on that day.
REID: But this year I`m anticipating that the lines are going to be
longer. Like people actually perceived themselves that there is going to
be more enthusiasm, so they wanted to get it out of the way and then you
had a lot of other people saying, you know what, I want to make sure my guy
gets in. So I want to get out there and I want to do it now. I don`t even
want to wait. Or they would say because of my work life, this is more
So a lot of -- and the woman that you saw in the package, the supervisor of
elections, said she actually expects more early voting this cycle than in
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s interesting. I hadn`t thought of the point that the
historic nature in `08 was in part about being there on Election Day, but
this time you`re putting this work and just trying to make it all happen.
So talk to me, though, because the issue still is really at the margins,
right? And so these voter suppressive efforts don`t need to keep everybody
from the polls.
HARRIS-PERRY: They just need to keep 1,000 here, 1,000 there. The first
lady was talking about a handful here or handful there.
HARRIS-PERRY: How do we figure out whether or not the right message is
it`s still scary, get out there and make it happen, or, OK, actually it`s
looking like it`s doing well.
REID: Well, it`s interesting because we also spoke with State Senator Nina
Tuner, but also a local elected official in the Fifth Ward in Ohio, which
is a very low income area where there are actually a lot of former felons
that live in that area. It turns out that a lot of the billboards that
said voter suppression was a felony, they were right there. They put them
right in the heart of a district where everyone pretty much that lives in
the Cleveland area understands there are a lot of people there who have
issues with former arrests.
REID: So they felt like that message was directed right at those people to
say, hey, you, person with a felony in your background, this message is: be
afraid to go vote because might get arrested.
REID: They went and very proactively went to Clear Channel and said, "This
is wrong." Clear Channel initially offered to give them 10 billboards with
their own message but ultimately withdrew all the negative messages. So
they got a message up there saying voter is a right, not a crime. Voting
is a right, into the crime.
REID: So that`s the message that the Democrats are trying to project.
But I also saw both the Obama campaign but also local Democrats, what
they`re trying to tell people is this is historic in a sense that your
right to vote was won for you in the `60s. The message these guys are
sending is it`s not necessarily about Barack Obama, it`s about you.
REID: It`s about the fact that people fought and died about this right for
you and that you need to get out there and sort of almost have a new civil
So that to me a little bit about Florida here. So if this is happening in
Ohio, if we got the billboards coming down, so Florida is -- I mean,
obviously, Florida, Florida, Florida. We were all up late that night.
Is it going to come down to Florida and are these efforts to get people out
early where in Florida, where in Florida, it`s been suppressed, will that
make the difference?
REID: Well, it`s interesting because we`ve already had one pollster
basically call Florida for Mitt Romney. The Obama campaign is by no means
REID: They have a huge operation there that really is a turnkey that like
Ohio never really went away. So the Florida organization just turned back
on and they`re really pushing early vote. One of the things that you`re
seeing in Florida that`s different in `08. In 2008 and before, Republicans
tend to do really well in absentee ballot. Democrats do really well in in-
person early vote.
This year, Democrats are pushing hard for absentee and they`ve closed the
gap in absentee ballot requests with Republicans to less than 12 percent
which actually sounds bad because they`re down by 12 percent, but it`s
actually really good compared to where they were before. It`s at about 6
percent or 7 percent they`re down.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, it kind of where they were historically. So there`s
still a gap, but it is not the size of the gap that they were previously --
REID: Not the gap that it was in the `08.
And another thing that`s happening is you`re seeing a surge in early vote.
You talked to Craig Melvin (ph) earl. That is in my hometown, Tampa, I was
like a little home sick. But it`s like that all over the state.
REID: Churches are looking at the fact that the legislature in 2010 cut
the early vote period from 14 days to nine.
REID: But what they did is they cut out what would have been the Souls to
the Polls Sunday which would have been November 4th.
REID: So typically there were two Sundays of early vote and churches would
do some things on the first Sunday, but they would make the big push on
that final Sunday.
REID: That is now gone and I think very much by design, according to at
least the former head of the Republican Party there. They`ve said, OK,
we`re going to double down. We`re going to tell churches Saturday and
Sunday. So, Florida New Majority ,which is one organization, as well as
National Action Network and others are saying churches mobilize. Saturday
and Sunday to bring Souls to the Polls weekend, and make lemonade out of
HARRIS-PERRY: I love the Operation Lemonade.
So just my last question, can we somehow get Nina Turner declared like
emperor of something? She is extraordinary. Her work -- her voice on this
issue of voter suppression has been so clear over the course of this
REID: I`m thinking czar of voter mobilization.
HARRIS-PERRY: Czar of voter mobilization.
REID: Yes. Republicans don`t like czar. This might get people more
angry. But, no, I watched her do some voter mobilization one in a church.
She practically preaches when it comes to voting and she delivers a message
that really is straight out of that civil rights movement era.
You know, she was talking about that no tired message, the fact that we can
stand in those lines if you guys want to give us only two days, we`ll vote
for two days. You give us one day, we`ll take the one day. You give us
voter ID, we`ll get an ID. That`s the message that she`s sending and I
think it`s important.
HARRIS-PERRY: Nina Turner, empress.
HARRIS-PERRY: Empress of voter mobilization.
Thank you to Joy Reid.
REID: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: And up next, I`m going to bring my panel back in on this
issue of voter suppression and the backlash against it. Could it turn out
that the Republicans have been their own great undoing?
HARRIS-PERRY: Before he break, we talked to MSNBC contributor Joy Reid
about how Florida voters are resisting the rollback in early voting hours.
I want to bring my panel back in now. It`s Tara Dowdell, a Democratic
strategist; Ari Melber, an MSNBC contributor and correspondent for "The
Nation"; John Rowley, Democratic strategist and president of Fletcher
Rowley Media; and Dorian Warren, assistant professor of political science,
international and public affairs at Columbia University.
All right. I typically hate the argument that suppression is good because
it causes some kind of social movement, like, oh, well, at least they have
their foot on your neck, so now you will notice.
And yet what Joy was suggesting there is that these voter suppression
efforts may have done more to mobilize people even than Obama for America
2012 did in terms of getting folks out. Is that what we`re seeing
ROWLEY: Well, the challenge with election reform, campaign finance reform,
any sort of political reform, is you usually need a big scandal and
controversy to bring change. And even after the 2000 election, we didn`t
see a lot of reform and change.
So, hopefully, we`ll get some of the change on the front end, but then
focus on the back he said because over the next few years, we`ll have money
mobilized to beat back some of the voter ID laws and other things.
Otherwise, these legislatures controlled by Republicans, they`re going to
continue to do these things.
I`m kind of reminded when I hear the Republicans talk about voter
suppression of the old JPMorgan quote. They used to say, there are two
reasons a man does something. The reason he says and then there`s real
MELBER: You know, I think though that it depends what we mean by the
response. There was a legislative response to all the message in 2000, the
Help America Vote Act by Chris Dodd and some other members of Congress,
though I agree it didn`t do a lot on the issues we care about.
But I think we have to disaggregate what Congress does in response or state
legislatures and how people react on the ground and grassroots. And what I
heard about Joy Reid reporting to you from her time on the ground was the
message here which I think is inspiring a lot of people is last time they
tried to stop him and he won.
MELBER: This time, they`re trying to stop all of us.
MELBER: It doesn`t matter really what we look like. Although a lot of
this is based on stopping people who support Obama including based on race,
but guess what, like all voter suppression, it`s bad for democracy. So we
can all get together on that.
HARRIS-PERRY: And this point that it`s bad for democracy, to me, this is
like -- you know, so as much as I love the ways that we`ve had to focus on,
all right, this is bad particularly for people of color and for Spanish
speaking people, but this is fundamentally bad for who we are as a country.
I was writing like, here are my three things I wish would happen right
after the election that we would make voting mandatory, that we would
abolish the Electoral College and that we would end anything other than
same day registration, because then, you know, chip fall where they may,
everybody`s in the system at that point.
WARREN: I think voter suppression efforts have lit a fire under people and
organizations. So, I know community organizations in Minnesota and Ohio
and Arizona, all mobilized to an extent they never have before because of
these efforts. But you`re absolutely right, after Election Day, we have to
take up the big question, we have 50 different voting rules and
WARREN: So why not standardize it so that everybody has the same -- knows
the same procedures for voting. Constitutional amendment, mandatory
voting, a holiday, something, that equalizes the voting rules across the 50
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, I`ve heard Reverend Jesse Jackson called it 50 separate
and unequal, right?
HARRIS-PERRY: And, you know, the whole idea that your right does not rest
nationally, it rests state by state, right? So I may suggest this here,
the one thing that that made me nervous in part about the voter suppression
efforts getting these challenges and winning them nonetheless in court, I
am -- I am sick at night thinking about 1965 Voting Rights Act ending up in
front of this Supreme Court.
Is there any possibility that a reelected President Obama or that a
Democratic majority in the House or in the Senate would take up these kind
of larger issues right away in 2013?
DOWDELL: Well, I think it depends. I think we a lot of shenanigans like
we did see in 2000, then that does energize and mobilize, because really
the push has to come from the people. If the people push and say, this
needs to change, that`s when you see real change.
Given the state of economy to, you know, the fact that things are still not
where we want them to be, we`re going to see greater emphasis on that with
some of these economic issues that are really waiting for whoever is
elected right after November 6th. But I do think, though, that we have to
be very careful Democrats because it`s not just about the voter suppression
I worked in Florida in 2000. I worked in Pinellas County. And I have to
say, we won that county.
But, no, but in all seriousness, we saw security checkpoints being set up,
people waiting on line and they had gotten on line before the polling
places closed --
DOWDELL: -- that they were told they could not vote. And I`ve just giving
you a few examples. We don`t have all day.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, right.
DOWDELL: I could literally list several more. So I think what we have to
be careful of is not just feeling like things have been resolved because of
challenges in court, but there will be on the ground shenanigans that are
going to take place and we have to be prepared.
MELBER: And this goes back to early vote, because if you`re stopped on
Election Day and you get intimidated or you get shut down --
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s it.
MELBER: Game over.
When you have the early vote, not only does it let a wider array of people
participating, including people with odd work schedules or have a hard work
time on just Tuesday, I know we`re talking about that later, but it also
gives you a chance for more recourse because you have time on the front
MELBER: And so what the Republicans tried to do in Ohio this year is shut
down the weekend voting, the weekend right before the Election Day. And
when they lost that and a federal judge told them you can`t do it, they
took it all the way to the Supreme Court where they have friends to your
On the Supreme Court, although it wasn`t a final ruling and we won`t get
too deep in it, what they basically said unanimously was, we`re not going
to stop the federal judge who stopped you. In other words, voting
So what I do think is this court, we have indication is, potentially open
to early vote because they see it as so universal. They are not good on
anything that has to do with remedying racial barriers. And you
spotlighted on the show, they`re probably going to shut down affirmative
action this year, to the Texas decision.
So if it has anything to do with disparity and race in it, I wouldn`t want
to appeal it up to the Supreme Court. If it`s about early vote, which is
where voting is going, right?
MELBER: Thirty-one percent of people voted early last cycle. It`s going
to be higher cycle than we`ve been discussing all day. I think this court
may be better than people expect.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s interesting. That actually -- you just did a Kenji
Yoshino on me, you talked me down from my total angst about the Supreme
MELBER: It`s what I do.
WARREN: So the great thing about Twitter is you can see in real time what
people say. So a fan of the show, (INAUDIBLE) Judith Browne Diana`s
Advancement Project, informed me that we have 13,000 different voting
WARREN: Not just 50 states. It`s 13,000 jurisdictions. So, 13,000
different ways to vote.
And I think we need to do what the right did after 2008. They had a plan
around all these voting suppression laws. And they implemented them
especially after the 2010 midterms. What is -- for progressives, what`s
the plan to take up this issue that`s not sexy for four years in between
WARREN: And then all of a sudden the month or two life the election, we
get all energized about it? What`s the plan over the next four years,
eight years to make voting a constitutional right, to make it a holiday?
HARRIS-PERRY: And knowing that Judith Browne Dianis is on that -- I mean,
the fact is there are group, there are folks like the Brennan Center and
like the Advancement Project. But I do think it still requires our elected
officials, despite the fact that they have the economy to deal with and
immigration and health care and all that. I do think it ultimately will
require at the federal level some support in saying this is important
because in the end, you can`t make -- you can`t get to solutions about
these problems unless you have the right to have your voice heard.
Up next with Election Day, although it`s in the really just a day anymore,
a week from Tuesday, I want to ask: why do we even vote on Tuesdays?
HARRIS-PERRY: More than 12 million Americans can now be proud owners of an
"I voted" sticker. Yes, the latest shows that 12,374,676 of us have
already voted. And that is 9.3 percent of the total vote in 2008.
We`re still more than a week a way, but voters in the 15 states where early
voting is not an option remained beholding to an increasingly archaic
American tradition, voting on the Tuesday after the first Monday in
November. If you live in one of those states, you`re still voting like a
devoutly religious buggy driving farmer from 1845. And that was the year
that Congress decided to pick a single day for all Americans to vote based
on what was most convenient for what was then our largely agrarian society.
Well, times have changed a lot in the last century and a half. My next
guest says it`s long past time that we change the way that we vote, too.
Joining me from Burbank, California, is Jacob Soboroff, a board member of
whytuesday.org and host at "HuffPost Live".
Hi, Jacob. How are you?
JACOB SOBOROFF, HOST, HUFFPOST LIVE: Hey. Good morning, Melissa. Thanks
for having me.
HARRIS-PERRY: Pretty good. So talk to me, why Tuesday?
SOBOROFF: Oh, man. So the short answer is absolutely no good reason
whatsoever. And a little bit longer answer is because of like you said,
the law set in 1845 meant to make voting convenient for people that travel
by horse and buggy. And today, it`s been a while since I travelled by
horse and buggy, I don`t think many of your viewers do either.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, look, you know, I love this idea of actually
questioning what our voting practices are, because I think typically we
always think of -- however we vote, we think of it as natural or true with
a capital T rather than the result of kind of political wrangling. Tell me
a little bit about the story of how we get to Tuesday as a voting day.
SOBOROFF: Literally, that`s what it was. It was literally the most
convenient day for largely agrarian society. So, you know, Wednesday was
market day. Sunday you couldn`t travel for religious observance, it took a
day longer to get to the county seat to vote, took a day back. So, by
process of elimination, Tuesday was the most convenient day.
Today, Census data almost every single time indicates that because of the
inconvenience of voting, Tuesday, is the number one reason people don`t
vote. You showed the graphic of those 15 states where people only can vote
on Tuesday in this country.
Tuesday voting is the big elephant in the room when it comes to voter
suppression because in those 15 states, 65.5 million eligible voters live.
And if you`re a single mother or single father or you have two or three
jobs like so many or long hours as a student in school, you only have
Tuesday, in the hours the polls are open, to get to the polls.
So, Ari Melber, who`s with you -- I love you, Ari Melber. But Ari wrote an
op-ed about how election day may be over, we`re seeing the end of the
actual Election Day, but for those people, that`s the only option.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, it was a great piece.
MELBER: Do I get --
HARRIS-PERRY: You can respond to the love, Ari.
MELBER: I love you, man. I love you, too.
HARRIS-PERRY: There`s a lot of love going on here. And, Ari, your point
in that piece was extraordinarily important that actually on Tuesday, it
may be much less important because it could be that Mitt Romney could win
Tuesday and lose the election.
MELBER: Right. Jacob is right. I wrote a "Reuters" piece talking about
how in many places early voting has completely changed Election Day. He`s
absolutely right in really speaking to the reform agenda which is there`s
all these other places and it goes back to what Dorian Warren was saying,
which is where we`re talking about national election.
I get federalism. I went to law school. This is a national election,
MELBER: We should have uniform equal protection, national access and it
should be greater than Election Day.
HARRIS-PERRY: So it seems that there a sports analogy here. It`s kind of
like, you know, in the NCAA, you play one game and if you win, then you go
on and if you lose, you go -- but this is like the playoffs, right? It`s
like the NBA, you have to keep seeing over a course of several days who
ultimately can get and sustain the greatest amount of support.
Let me ask you this, though. What happens in terms of public support for
moving to early voting? When we look at all the states that now have some
level of early voting, what was the strategy that it took to get that and
can the Virginias and New Yorks and other states manage to move towards
SOBOROFF: Yes, I think that in every state, they`re looking at and moving
towards early voting. The one thing that I would caution is, you know,
what happens when you vote early. I love early voting. I love vote early
here in California.
But what happens if you vote too early? If you voted for Mourdock and you
wanted to change your vote after this most recent despicable, disgusting
thing that he said.
So, y know, you have to be careful with early voting. But early voting is
crucial. What we advocate at Why Tuesday is moving election dates to the
weekend, Saturday and Sunday, so that you have a full weekend to vote
before the week starts and you can do it that way on on a federal level.
I love it. Vote early, but not too early. You got to vote just right.
Thank you, Jacob. I appreciate you for joining us from Burbank.
Up next from legalizing recreational use of marijuana to implementing
liabilities on sewer systems, those are just two of the ballot initiatives
that voters are going to ask to be decided on across the country on
Election Day, or days or election week or election month, you know? Do you
even know what`s on your local ballot? That`s next.
HARRIS-PERRY: On Election Day, after you check the box or pull the level
or press the button for your presidential candidate, then the Senate, then
the House, then the school board and, you know, then down to your dog
catcher, after you do that, you might get to the bottom of the ticket and
simply may not know which way to go on all those ballot initiatives.
On November 6th, voters will also be deciding the outcome of 176 ballot
measures across 38 states. In California alone, voters will be asked to
make a call on 11 different propositions. Now, the measures range from a
proposed ban on paycheck contributions, to unions for political purposes,
to ending the death penalty in the state, to a modification of California`s
three strikes law.
And as they say, all politics are local, ballot initiatives if approved
In theory, voting on these measures is an exercise in direct democracy, but
in practice, it is usually just an exercise because these initiatives are
very high impact, but they`re also very low information. And even the most
savvy of voters can be misinformed or under-informed about all the up and
town votes on the ballot.
Back to my panel.
So, this is what happened to me. I went and voted early. I know everybody
on, you know, from school board on up. And then I know some of the balance
initiatives, but then there were two that I was like, oh, man, I didn`t
know they were here.
Is this good? Is this direct democracy? Is this just how we should be
governing? Or is this in fact deeply problematic?
WARREN: If that happens to you, Melissa Harris-Perry PhD --
WARREN: Then imagine, right, how most voters are confused. Direct
democracy came about during the progressive era to take on the interests of
the first gilded age. So it was a democratizing effort.
Today, it is use the by the 1 percent primarily to push their issues that
they can`t get won in the legislature. So in California, if you look at a
lot of those ballot initiatives, the top contributors are individual
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Right, so it`s not -- I think we have to be really
clear about this. Most of these ballot initiatives are pushed by one
wealthy individual or by very small interest group that managed to get
these things on the ticket.
It`s not -- you know, as troubling as state legislatures are, you have to
vote, you have to get 50 percent, so here is the top ones in California,
propositions 30 through 40, right? And here are the individuals and/or
organizations that put them on the ballot.
How do we in a system where on the one hand we want to be voting, we want
to be voting early, how do we manage this kind of circumstance? You get
there and you`ve got 10 ballot initiatives you have to manage.
MELBER: Well, the first thing we have to do is think about what happens
when you go shopping at the mall. I know you`re a busy person. But if
you`ve ever been in a mall, when you walk around, you buy like one thing
and you look at like three dresses and then you`re exhausted, you`re like
send by the Orange Julius stand saying I need to get out of here. I`m so
The reason that you`re so tired is that decisions are exhausting.
MELBER: Mental decisions. Not even moving your body, just making
decisions is exhausting. And there`s a lot of social science research that
when you ask people who make more than three or four decisions, they
actually shut down.
HARRIS-PERRY: This is why the president only has --
MELBER: Blue and black suits.
HARRIS-PERRY: -- blue and black suits, because he`s just like, I got to
decide whether or not we`re going to war. So I`m not going to be thinking
about the color of the suit.
MELBER: Exactly. And the president knows about that research. He was
telling Michael Lewis in a "Vanity Fair" article. He has to make big
decisions, so he pares down all the other ones. It`s a real thing.
And it really -- all jokes aside -- applies here where if we had one or two
big ballot measures, you know, that were really well-campaigned on and
educated and then you made your decision, that would be one thing. What
we`ve seen is too much democracy, too much choice, which is a practical
matter, shuts down, you have down ballot voting where a lot of people don`t
even bother to choose.
MELBER: The people who do choose aren`t as well informed. I`ll question
back to the "Saturday Night Live" ad about the undecided voters, you know,
(INAUDIBLE), going, when is the election?
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, right.
MELBER: Who is the president? And be specific. And like they don`t know
what`s going on and if you have trouble remembering the two people running
for president, what do you think happens in a confusing 1 percent worded
ballot like that.
HARRIS-PERRY: And so, John, but sometimes there is a decent amount of
information. So, the key one that I`m focusing on right now is the
Maryland marriage equality one. And there is a lot of information and a
lot of battlegrounding going on with that.
But I`m still distressed because it`s not clear to me that someone`s
fundamental civil rights ought to be on a ballot. I mean, if slavery had
been voted on, pretty sure it would have taken another, I don`t know,
decades, two decades, maybe right now before we would be done with it,
right? Fundamental civil rights are fundamental civil rights.
ROWLEY: Well, part of the problem is the local media in a lot of these
races, they don`t cover ballot measures like they cover the candidates. So
a lot of states you`re not sending out a voter guide from the election
commissions and whatnot. So it takes time to read these things and there`s
social pressure to get through the line and whatnot.
And so, one thing that has --
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s an interesting point. If you`re standing there in
HARRIS-PERRY: -- and you`re trying to read legalese and the people behind
you are like -- right. Oh, yes.
ROWLEY: Absolutely. And I think there has been one shift. I think ballot
measures were somewhat the dominion of the regressive right for a while, in
terms of no tax measures, some other things.
I think the progressive side of things is through ballot initiatives,
strategy center and others. They`re trying to push progressive ideas. And
some of those listed were not just in individual millionaires like the
Michigan ballot measures essentially bought and paid for by the Amway
family, by Sherman Adelson in terms of the collective bargaining measures.
So there are instances, but if there is not information out there through
the media, through paid media, then you have smart people, informed people
who are entirely not only undecided, but uninformed as they make their
HARRIS-PERRY: Even Michelle Rhee, the so-called education reformer who I
think by having $500,000 on that game in Michigan about stripping the
rights of union workers to organize is an indication of sort of how anti-
union in fact this particular form of education reform is. I guess in that
one way, it`s great because if you can follow that money, you can sort of
see where people stand.
We have more on ballot initiatives and particularly on the issue of
marriage equality and the fact that it is so-called in the hands of the
people. And I want to talk about how the president has weighed in on this
ballot initiative when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: This week, President Obama endorsed state ballot initiatives
to legalize same-sex marriage in Washington, Maryland and Maine.
Statements issued by the Obama campaign in those three states urged voters
to vote yes to approve same-sex marriage on their respective ballots on
November 6th or earlier -- of course, just after they cast their vote for
the president`s reelection. Only six states in the District of Columbia
currently allow same sex marriage, while 38 states have allows and
constitutional provisions on the books that limit marriage to relationship
between one man and one woman.
So, in these three states, are we seeing the path to marriage equality for
everybody? Putting the decision directly in the hands of the people -- is
this good or bad?
I love the idea that we are now -- I mean, the most painful part of 2008
for me is the election of President Obama and the passage of Prop 8 on the
same night in the same state. You know, folks would go and vote with their
left hand for one, and their right hand for the other. Now, it looks like
the president is embracing marriage equality in part as a reelection
DOWDELL: I think it`s good strategy on the part of the president. First
of all, I think it`s the right thing to do.
DOWDELL: And I think it`s something the president has actually always
believed in, but it carried a lot of political risk. And I think, though,
people -- there a lot of hay sort of has been made about the fact that many
African-Americans have not been as supportive of same-sex marriage.
I think the other political risk for the president that didn`t get much
attention is that a lot of union households will be polled and there`s not
a lot of support for same-sex marriage there, too, at the same levels as
other groups. And those are very big constituencies.
But the Democratic Party is a big tent. It`s always been a big tent. And
so there`s always tension between -- we have a lot of people with a lot of
different interests who are part of the party, but I think the president in
doing this, you`ve now seen he`s actually influencing the opinions of his
HARRIS-PERRY: This is the claim I made earlier about the kind of racial
rhetoric coming out of the right, that racial animus is endogenous in the
system, so if you make -- it doesn`t make it OK to say racially problematic
things, then it`s OK to say them. But similarly this sense of equality is
also endogenous. If you are the president, you can lead on this issue.
WARREN: This is really interesting because clearly the administration and
the campaign could have stayed silent on those ballot initiatives. They
made the decision -- and I don`t know how much it wins them in terms of
votes, but it is a show of leadership in terms of influencing voters that
they know are going to vote for President Obama to say, hey, we actually
agree with marriage equality, should you vote this way.
And the other thing is I was mentioning at the break, Martin O`Malley,
governor of Maryland, is banking his 2016 presidential run on marriage
WARREN: I think that shows a huge shift not only the Democratic Party the
last decade, but in American politics more broadly. The notion that you
have a future presidential candidate who is explicitly and aggressively out
there saying vote yes for marriage equality.
HARRIS-PERRY: Now, you know, the thing that most irritates me is the
president has just this love affair with the idea of the president`s
African-American critics. And so part of what we also see going on in
Maryland are conservative right wing African-American pastors who are very
aggressively on the other side. So, the discourse is somehow the president
will lose black voters in Maryland even though there`s very little evidence
to suggest that it`s accurate.
MELBER: Yes. I think that`s just a big problem. It was like in a town
hall when about 90 --
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, Mike Jones.
MELBER: Go ahead. You go.
HARRIS-PERRY: No, please? Take down Mike Jones for me, Ari Melber.
MELBER: Roughly 94 percent approval rating among African-Americans for
this president. And when you -- that`s approval.
MELBER: When you go to voting, it ticks up to 97 percent, 98 percent and
sometimes 100 percent depending on the poll.
MELBER: I don`t know how hard the Presidential Debate Commission, which by
the way as I`ve written in the nation is a very male-dominated and very
white, very secretive nontransparent organization, I don`t know what they
did to find the gentleman who came up with the negative question to the
president, but they had to search real hard for that.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. And the only African-American who asked the question
of the president in the town hall is Mike Jones, oh, yes, I`m not excited
anymore. It was really -- it was a stunning moment.
MELBER: And I didn`t hear -- and I follow those debates closely -- I
didn`t hear many other questioners mention who I voted for, right? I was
for you Romney in Massachusetts, but ne now you`re different -- no. It was
only, oh, we have an African-American question which is going to explain
that African-American Obama voter but might not be the more -- it just
really bothered me. I didn`t get a chance to get that off my chest.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, I know. We`re like a little therapy at the end of the
11:00 hour, and truth be told, we`ve all been sitting here looking at the
Sunday review in the "New York Times" which is the Fred Hersch piece about
how apparently the president is a big fat racial failure.
So this has probably been building the whole show, so we might as well let
MELBER: And real quickly, the other point I`ll make that does connect
these, you know, there aren`t black rights, all right? There are right.
There are human rights.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Yes.
MELBER: We`re not talking about gay marriage. We`re talking about
HARRIS-PERRY: Marriage equality.
MELBER: When we talk about whether you can visit someone in the hospital
regardless of your religion or no religion, regardless of what you look
like, regardless of who you do or do not sleep with, right? We`re talking
about the right to be with a loved one, not a gay right to be with a loved
So that is so important because that`s where we`re headed because young
people already see it that way. It`s only older people that you have to
get on this thing that it`s not about marriage. This is a gay marriage
ballot, this and that.
So I do think it`s shifting. I agree that you see the political energy in
the Democratic Party, you see that with Governor Cuomo in New York state,
as well. I don`t think, though, as a legal matter that things should be on
ballots at all.
MELBER: Again, California has got ending the death penalty on there,
changing the three strikes law. I mean, some of the -- you know, raising
taxes for clean energy and for education. Things -- you know, things that
I as a progressive would be generally supportive of, and yet my concern is
when at the show up on ballot measures, rather than showing up in our state
legislature doing the work of legislation.
ROWLEY: You ask is it a good thing or bad thing. The answer is yes.
ROWLEY: I mean, also makes you wonder, we talked about election reform a
little bit before and but I do think election reform -- the venue for it
may be ballot measure, because you`ve got to take election reform out of
the hands of incumbent, Democrats or Republicans. I think most of the time
incumbents don`t want dramatic election reform.
HARRIS-PERRY: This is a great point and you brought us finally back to the
topic, as Ari and I were just going off on my thing.
More in just a moment, but first, it`s time for a preview of "WEEKENDS WITH
ALEX WITT, MSNBC ANCHOR: Hello to you, Melissa. Thanks so much. Hello,
Hurricane Sandy is shaping up to be an historic storm. It is taking aim at
the East Coast as potentially the biggest ever to hit the mainland. We`ve
got live report up and down the coast for you. Plus, FEMA director Craig
Fugate with his message to people within the forecast zone.
And I`m talking to former Senator Blanche Lincoln and Congressman Joe
Sestak about what-if scenarios, including what America will look and feel
like November 7th with either outcome.
Also, the liberal paper, "The Des Moines Register," has now endorsed a
Republican since Richard Nixon in 1972. It is out today with its
endorsement of Mitt Romney. What changed this go round?
Literally, Melissa, I just got off the phone talking with Rick Green, the
editor, about just that. So, I`ll get all to you at the top of our show.
Also in office politics, I`m back in the MSNBC newsroom, asking some of our
colleagues what they think the president should tackle first after
HARRIS-PERRY: 2012 is interesting. "Salt Lake Tribune" goes for the
president. "The Des Moines Register" goes for Mitt Romney. This is -- and
a hurricane in the middle of it.
WITT: Yes. And there was just a little earthquake in Los Angeles.
WITT: Like 3.7 though. So, but I`m just talking about shake and rattle
and roll today.
HARRIS-PERRY: It is all of that.
Thank you, Alex.
HARRIS-PERRY: Why Halloween is a reminder we all need safe and strong
HARRIS-PERRY: Wednesday is Halloween, and because it`s an election year,
many will choose costumes inspired by our political season.
Some will don a mask representing their favorite presidential candidate.
Note to white Obama supporters -- mask? Yes. Black face? No.
After Mitt Romney`s unprovoked attack on "Sesame Street," you can bet Big
Bird is going to be -- well, big this year. The more creative will find a
way to hit the trick-or-treat circuit as a Clint Eastwood inspired
invisible Obama or a Romnesia influenced etch-a-sketch or even binders full
of women. And my personal fave: horses and bayonets, prompted by the
president`s stinging one liner in the final debate.
Yes, Halloween in an election year brings out the ghosts and ghouls of
electoral sorts. But the tradition of trick-or-treating can have another
kind of political meaning. It be a barometer for the health of our
communities. I don`t mean the sugar high and tooth decay that sets in
around November 2nd. I mean a different measure of health.
Do you feel safe enough to let your child go door to door in your
neighborhood? Or do you think you have to go to a more affluent section of
town in order to be safe? Would you open the door to teens knocking after
dark? Or does the crime in your community have you turning off your lights
and drawing your shades?
Do you trust that the political costumes of your neighbors will be light-
hearted and good spirited? Or do you cringe that some will go over the
line and turn holiday fun into a partisan minefield?
Do you know who your neighbors are? Are you able to organize a safe, early
evening block party, or are your neighbors strangers every day of the year,
not just when they are in costume?
It`s a small thing, Halloween. But it`s a reminder, we aren`t just an
electorate, we are a people. And when Election Day is behind us, we still
need to have safe communities, deep connections, and robust civil societies
capable of sustaining our nation.
Speaking of community, I`m trying to convince my fellow MSNBC hosts Chris
Hayes and Martin Bashir to join me in a joint costume endeavor this year.
Harris-Perry and the order of the brains. Chris is a dead wringer for
Harry, isn`t he?
Have fun and stay safe out there.
And that`s our show for today. Thank you to Tara Dowdell, Ari Melber, John
Rowley and Dorian Warren for sticking around.
And thanks to you at home for watching. I`ll see you again next week,
Saturday, 10:00 a.m. Eastern on the plaza. Join us.
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