updated 10/31/2012 11:43:19 AM ET 2012-10-31T15:43:19

POLITICS NATION
October 26, 2012

Guests: Dana Milbank; Laura Bassett; Irin Carmon, Krystal Ball, Jonathan
Capehart, E.J. Dionne

REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Thanks, Chris, and thanks to you for
tuning in. I`m live tonight in Atlanta.

There are 11 days until Election Day and here is where the race
stands. "The New York Times 538 blog" show President Obama is polling at
50.2 of the national vote while Governor Mitt Romney gets 49 percent. "The
Time" reports if the election were held today, the president would win 294
electoral, Romney would get 244 electoral votes. Two hundred and seventy
are needed to win the White House.

And as of tonight, 10.2 million people have already voted. That
includes nearly a million people just in Ohio alone. More on that later.
But we start with tonight`s lead.

Race to the bottom. Today the Romney campaign is refusing to
apologize for their national co-chairman John Sununu who made these
offensive comments to explain why Colin Powell endorsed President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN SUNUNU (R), FORMER NEW HAMPSHIRE GOVERNOR: When you take a look
at Colin Powell, you have to wonder whether that`s an endorsement based on
issues or whether he`s got a slightly different reason for preferring
President Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: What reason would that be?

SUNUNU: Well, I think when you have somebody of your own race that
you are proud of being president of the United States, I applaud Colin for
standing with him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Colin Powell endorsed the president because they are both
black? Really? For months, race has been a subject of attacks of the
Romney campaign. But now, it still about it to the open, and the president
himself weighed in on it today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Any suggestion that
General Powell would make such a profound statement in such an important
election based on anything than what he thought was what`s going to be best
for America, I think, doesn`t make much sense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: No, it doesn`t make much sense. Sununu tried to walk back
his comments today saying quote, "Colin Powell is a friend and I respect
the endorsement decision he made and I do not doubt that it was based on
anything but his support of the president`s policies."

But the Romney co-chairman has been making racially charge comments
for months.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUNUNU: The president clearly demonstrated that he has absolutely no
idea how the American economy functions. And I wish this president would
learn how to be an American.

He has no idea how the American system functions and we shouldn`t be
surprised about that because he spent his early years in Hawaii smoking
something, spent the next seven years in Indonesia.

What people saw last night I think is a president that revealed his
incompetence, how lazy and detached he is.

He`s lazy and disengaged.

He has been lazy and disengaged and has no idea, not only of his own
policies but has no idea of what Mitt Romney`s real policies are. When
you`re not that bright, you can`t get better prepared.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SUNUNU: Not American, lazy, not that bright? These kinds of attacks
used to come from the friends of the GOP but now they are coming from the
top of the Romney campaign. One of Romney`s sons made a birther joke last
year while talking why his father wouldn`t release his tax returns.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY`S SON: I heard someone suggest the other day
that as soon as President Obama releases his grades and birth certificate
and sort of a long list of things, then maybe he`d do it.

TAGG ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY`S SON: That was not my dad who said that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: No. His dad didn`t say that. His dad said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was born at Harper
hospital. No one`s ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that
this was the place that we were born and raised.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The Romney campaign later said that he was joking, which is
beside the point. But this is the point. For too long, the mainstream of
the Republican Party has traffic at this garbage, this garbage, this
birther questioning patriotism, comments about food stamps and other racial
undertones. We saw it this week when Sarah Palin wrote that the
president`s quote "shuck and jive shtick must end."

Shuck and jive, an offensive term dating from slavery. Now, put on
facebook by one of the party`s media stars.

And in Atlanta tonight, not far from where I`m sitting, this billboard
was on the side of a highway until just hours ago because the President,
comrade, Obama next to a photo of Adolph Hitler.

This election should be about policies and ideas. But instead,
Republicans are going right back to the old ugly playbook.

Joining me now, Melissa Harris-Perry, host of MSNBC`s "Melissa Harris-
Perry show" and Dana Milbank, columnist for "the Washington Post."

Thank you both for being here tonight.

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST, MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY SHOW: Happy to
be here.

DANA MILBANK, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Good evening,
Rev.

SHARPTON: Melissa, these kinds of comments have happened so often
from the Romney campaign. Don`t you think that it`s a pattern or do you
think it`s just an accident?

HARRIS-PERRY: No, of course it`s a pattern. Look. Let`s be very
clear.

I mean, you know, there`s a whole bunch of different things going on
here. I mean, in fact, that last image you showed of a matchup of saying
comrade and having an image of Adolph Hitler and an image of the kind of
soviet image, like it`s an indication of how mashed up it all is.

And you know, they clearly, they don`t even know the difference
between communism and totalitarianism, and Hitler and all of that. Like,
that is just -- the professor in me wants to scream.

But, look. What we`re looking at is a circumstance where in an
attempt to move the conversation away from the fact that governor Romney
does not have a consistent set of plans, policies, ideas, or ideology. He
has been all over the map. He has said whatever he thought he need to say,
to win whatever vote he needed to do in whatever primary or now general
election to remove an interest from that, they are focusing exclusively on
the one thing that they believe they can beat President Obama on. Not
ideas, not policies, but race. They believe if they can stoke a kind of
racial fire, that this will be enough to beat the president.

SHARPTON: Well the professor in you may not scream, but the preacher
in me is screaming.

But Dana, isn`t it a risky strategy? I mean, they are playing to
racial codes, they are playing to red scare comrade, they are playing the
Hitler which is absurd. Hitler was anti-black. Isn`t it risky that they
are playing that America is where it`s no longer in the mimic of the minds
of the American electorate?

MILBANK: Well Reverend, it`s a very cynical strategy and it does
suggest that they believe the typical white working class voter in Ohio is
racist. I don`t think that`s a safe assumption. So, that will be tested
now. I don`t think you can generalize overall that is necessarily each
part of this as a strategy. For example, John Sununu says all kinds of
stupid things that don`t have to do with race. You just never know what is
going to come out to that guy`s mouth.

Now, the fact that he`s had a whole series of things raises questions
and when you put it together with all of the other things. I think, you
have a couple things going on here. One is just sort of the primal screen
going on that is this sort of racist sentiment that you see in the bulletin
in the billboard.

And another one is something of a more organized thing to motivate the
white working class voters in the Middle America. That does not seem to be
a strategy that will work because for every one of those that you`re going
to get, you`re going to offend some other soccer mom who is not interested
in racial politics.

SHARPTON: Now Melissa, "The New York Times" reported that Romney`s
campaign was going to adopt a harder edge by making quote, "an appeal to
white working class voters and persuade them that he is the best answer to
their economic frustrations." "The Times" wrote this in August.

Now, are they using race to appeal? Because clearly he`s not laid out
an economic plan that would appeal to them. And clearly if the record is
unloaded or downloaded to them, his statements about the auto industry and
other things that directly affects Ohio, white voters is problematic to say
the least.

HARRIS-PERRY: Well and look, Dana`s point is so well taken. I mean,
this is an assumption about how white working class voters will behave.
And what is odd about it is that this is the re-election of America`s first
black president. Voters already noticed that he was black four years ago.
And so, continuously mentioning that in fact he is black, I think, could
potentially sort of skews back the other way.

I think especially when we go and look at someone like Sununu, saying
that someone like Colin Powell enjoys robust, respect and support across
part of the lines, across racial lines, to say that Colin Powell is, you
know, sort of operating on a blanketed, you know, race policy that Colin
Powell of all people basically is endorsing President Obama because he
warrants to keep the black guy in office, is so patently absurd that it
appears that the Romney campaign is reaching at straws. And when they do
that, when they start grasping in that way, that turns off voters.

SHARPTON: Yes. Well, I think Colin Powell has been black over 60
years, but I don`t think he`s had a pattern of only endorsing black
candidates. I can`t think of him doing that in his career.

HARRIS-PERRY: you didn`t get his endorsement, Reverend?

SHARPTON: No. And I don`t know if a lot others are doing. And I
think clearly he`s been a Republican.

But there is a long history here. Let`s just not act like this is
somewhere out of the clear blue. Look at the facts. In `68, Richard
Nixon`s southern strategy used racially charge language to woe white voters
in the south who typically voted Democrat. `76, Ronald Reagan told stories
about a so-called welfare queen in an effort to scare white voters. And
George H. W. Bush made Willy Horton an integral character in his 1988 bid
for the White House. So, there is a pattern of campaigns under Republican
site using race. I think that America has moved a lot beyond that. But
there are some elements that this could still appeal to. But let`s not act
like this is out of nowhere in the strategy, Dana?

MILBANK: Yes, no. I mean, the southern strategy, in essence, worked.
There is the solid south now for the Republicans. So, there`s no more
reason to pursue that avenue. I think what you have happening here is,
well, first of all, African-Americans now 96 percent for the president.
But, more importantly as an electoral matter, they seem to have managed to
offend Latinos almost as much. That`s damaging in this campaign. That`s
going to be devastating in four years and eight years and beyond if all
they are left with is white men in the Republican Party and it`s not going
to win elections for you.

SHARPTON: Isn`t it the real point, Melissa, when you look at the
sense of diversity and the quest for inclusion in this country of whites,
and blacks, Latinos, Asians, gays, gays, lesbians, straights, that the
America that we`re moving toward is an electorate that they are really way
away from in this kind of strategy?

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, right, in two ways. Both kind of the demographic
diversity, so you know, what you show there about `68 and about `88, is all
completely accurate. But this electorate is a very different one. It`s
part of why we have seen such intense voter suppression effort, because the
idea is, if you can shrink that electorate back, push out Latinos and
African-American and young voters as the voter suppression efforts are
doing, if you can push them out, then you make it exactly the kind of
electorate where the GOP could win.

But more than that, and I think this is really critically important,
white Americans no longer like the idea, for the most part, of being in a
party that is Lilly white and that is associated with racial angst and
racism.

SHARPTON: Right.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, it`s not just that you, you know, push out people
of color. You actually also end up pushing out a majority of white voters,
especially young white voters who say that is not the kind of party I want
to be a part of.

SHARPTON: That`s right. African-American and young voters. I have
to think both for those demos. Cut off Melissa`s mic.

Melissa Harris-Perry and Dana Milbank. Thanks for your time tonight.

And please tune in to Melissa`s show every Saturday and Sunday at
10:00 a.m. Eastern right here on MSNBC.

Coming up, Governor Romney`s standing by the rape pregnancy is God`s
will candidate and it`s exposing just how serious this election is. And
some of Mitt Romney`s dishonesty is actually funny. But what he said in
Ohio is flat out wrong. And it needs to be addressed.

Plus, President Obama`s marathon blitz is over. But, he`s heading
right back out on the road with the very, very big stop. All of that.

Plus, what is first lady Michelle Obama doing to Jimmy Kimmel here?
You`ll want to see this. You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Top ten thoughts going through this baby`s mind
right at that very moment? Number eight, don`t put my mom in a binder.
Binder. Number six, I can`t count and I know his tax plan doesn`t add up.
Number five --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: There is so much at stake in this election, including the
future of roe versus wade. It`s serious and that`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: It`s three days since Richard Mourdock made his rape
pregnancy is God`s will comments. And Governor Romney is still standing by
him. The Obama campaign launched a Web site counting the days and hours
since Romney refused to renounce his endorsement.

Governor Romney is caught in a terrible bind and there`s no way out.
He is the candidate of the party driven to the right. Twelve Republican
Senate candidates agree with Mourdock that the government should force a
woman to have a rapist`s baby against his will.

Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney`s hand-picked running mate, believes the same
thing. And this is why he can`t denounce Mourdock. This is why an ad
Romney made supporting Mourdock is still running in Indiana. Romney`s
senior aide says they haven`t asked him to have it pulled because, quote,
"that`s his decision."

That`s Mourdock`s decision? What about the man trying to be the
leader of the free world? Doesn`t he have anything to say? But when it
comes down to it, it`s not these 13 people we need to worry about. It`s
these nine people, the nine justices of U.S. Supreme Court. For all of the
mystery about Mitt Romney, there`s no mystery on this one. Governor Romney
said it himself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I hope to appoint justices to the Supreme Court that will
follow the constitution and it would be my preference that they reverse Roe
V. Wade.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He`s been very clear on where he stands on women`s rights
to choose and so has the president. He is, moments ago, on MTV.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: When it comes to reproductive issues, this is a huge issue of
this campaign. Governor Romney on all of these fronts disagrees. He wants
to defund Planned Parenthood. He wants to overturn Roe Versus Wade. I
think this is a profound mistake.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: This is why it`s so serious. Roe Versus Wade hangs in the
balance.

Joining me now is Irin Carmon, reporter at salon.com and Laura
Bassett, a journalist who covers women`s issues for "the Huffington Post".

Thank you both for your time.

IRIN CARMON, REPORTER, SALON.COM: Thank you, Reverend.

LAURA BASSETT, JOURNALIST, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Irin, let me start with you. Do you think this Mourdock
story presents a serious challenge to Mitt Romney efforts to appear
moderate on the issue of abortion?

CARMON: It`s incredible because the party is so dominated by
extremists like Paul Ryan, like Todd Akin, like Richard Mourdock. These
are the people who are really running these days. They basically had a
strategy. You know, the entire abortion people, the anti-choice women,
they don`t like rape exceptions. But, they tolerate them because they know
that the majority of Americans are scared by the lack of compassion showing
to rape victims. And they think that is too extreme. So, the anti-choice
has been playing a long game trying to make it seems like they are
compassionate towards women who have been raped or who are victims of
incest, if not to other women at all.

So, what we have is a situation where they have moved too far, too
fast. The American public are saying, wait a minute. Who are these guys?
And Romney is stuck kind of trying to seem like he`s moderate, like he is,
even though at the same time he`s trying to defund Planned Parenthood, take
away access to birth control and he would put in the mechanisms to totally
outlaw abortion.

SHARPTON: Laura, you`ve been on women`s issues or a long time. Is
this a real danger to Mitt Romney as he has tried to project this moderate
Mitt, his long-standing views and his decisions on who he would put on the
Supreme Court when it comes to women`s rights to choose?

BASSETT: Yes, well of course, everybody knows Mitt Romney has
multiple choices on abortion. He has been all over the map. In 2002 he
was pro choice. He was attending Planned Parenthood fund-raisers. And
then, during the primaries he was super conservative. He was saying that
he supported a personhood amendment. He said he wanted to completely
defund Planned Parenthood. I think he said get rid of Planned Parenthood
and you know, outlaw - he wants to overturn Roe V. Wade. And so, now he is
trying to appear moderate to court being independent. And it`s absolutely
not going well for him. Because he has forced to choose between, in this
case, protecting a rape victim`s right to choose, not to continue with her
pregnancy or supporting a candidate that would maintain control of the
house and gain control in the Senate. And obviously in this case, he is
choosing politics over women`s health.

SHARPTON: Now, Irin, let`s look at this very carefully so people
understand this. Let`s look at the court itself. There are four Supreme
Court justices who could theoretically retire because of their age.
Justice Ginsburg is 79 years old. Justice Scalia is 76. Justice Kennedy
is also 76. Justice Breyer is 74. Now, we all know who Mr. Romney likes.
How could their replacements change the future for women in this country?

CARMON: Replacing anyone of the liberal justices with a Romney
appointee would be catastrophic for women rights, the civil rights, the
regulation, for the social safety net and you cannot underestimate how
dramatic of a change it would be. And in fact, the anti-choice women have
been preparing for this for a long time. They have spent the last few
years passing totally (INAUDIBLE) abortion restriction that they want the
pro-choice that they want to challenge that they want to use it as a
vehicle to get up to the Supreme Court, hopefully a more conservative
Supreme Court, but they will even take the one that we`ve got, which is,
you know, with the lead over placing Sandra Day O`Connor is not as
sympathetic to abortion rights as it used to be and they really would like
to lay the groundwork to bit by bit chip away at Roe V. Wade which to be
catastrophic for women, particularly marginalized women in underserved
states, particularly low-income women.

SHARPTON: Now, vice president Biden came out swinging about Mr.
Romney not denouncing Mourdock. Laura, listen to this and give me your
reaction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They can`t even get
up the gumption to condemn the statements made by two of their candidates
for the United States Senate. It`s not enough to tell me, you don`t agree.
It`s having the whole courage to stand up and say what they said was wrong,
simply wrong.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Laura?

BASSETT: Absolutely. You know, I think that it`s not a liberal thing
to say that what Mourdock said and what he believes about rape victims is
extreme. It is extreme compared to the majority of Americans. Even the
majority of Republicans, about 75 percent of Republicans believe that rape
victims should have the option to end their pregnancies.

And so for Mitt Romney to be afraid to come out and say what this guy
said is wrong and I won`t stand for it, I think it shows a real lack of
leadership.

SHARPTON: Now, let`s remember now -- let`s leave Mourdock out there
by himself. Because I think the Mourdock issue really exposes who Romney
and Ryan are.

Look at their extreme policies on women`s issues. They all want to
overturn Roe Versus Wade. They would support a personhood amendment that
would even outlaw certain kinds of birth control. They want to defund
Planned Parenthood. They oppose contraception coverage.

Irin, they are in lock step. Romney, Ryan, Mourdock.

CARMON: They absolutely are. And I think what is happening, why the
president and vice president Biden are driving this point home, is that
people are starting to realize that all of these things are connected,
whether it`s curtailing women`s access to birth control, or whether it`s
banning abortion, that this is all about women and curtailing our freedoms
and limiting our reproductive freedom and not just about saving babies or
whatever they say it`s been about. It`s about women`s right to participate
in society.

SHARPTON: Irin Carmon and Laura Bassett, thanks to both of you for
joining us this evening. Both of you have a good weekend.

CARMON: Thank you, you too.

BASSETT: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, Governor Romney`s been talking a big game all
week. But wait until you hear what one of his closest advisers is saying.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Have you joined the POLITICS NATION conversation on
Facebook yet? Today meatloaf`s endorsement of Romney was a big talker,
especially his rendition of "America is Beautiful."

Lynn says, "It looks like a Romney horror picture show."

David says, "I would do anything for votes, but I won`t do that."
That`s a good one.

Speaking of voting, we are loving all the early voting photos you are
sending us. Stewart sent us this one of the line, he stood in to vote in -
- County, Georgia. Lynn and Don send us this photo they took right after
dropping off their ballots in Renton, Washington. We want to see you cast
your ballot, too. Please go to our Facebook page, that`s
facebook.com/POLITICSNATION to show your early voting photos with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Just 11 days to go and there`s no question that there`s a
tight race between President Obama and Mitt Romney. But in some key
battlegrounds, one side has a clear advantage. A brand new poller in Ohio
shows President Obama leading by four points and one top Romney surrogate,
Ohio Senator Rob Portman, says Ohio is all.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R), OHIO: If we don`t win Ohio, it`s tough to see
us winning the election nationally. It`s possible but it`s very difficult.
And so, Ohio becomes a kind of a key element to actually winning the
election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That`s assessment from the Romney folks with polls showing
him down in Ohio. In fact, President Obama is leading in seven out of 11
toss up states. Romney only leads in four and those four aren`t enough for
him to win the presidency. Today the Las Vegas Sun endorsed President
Obama and slammed Romney. The paper says, quote, "After studying the
campaign, we`re not sure who Mitt Romney really is." Or what he really
stands for. Romney has been called a flip-flopper but his changes over the
past year would make a chameleon blush. Can you really trust Mitt Romney?
It`s a point the president has been making on the campaign trail.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: There`s no more serious issue
in a presidential campaign than trust. Trust matters.

When you elect a president, you`re counting on somebody that you can
trust to fight for you.

And you know, what? You know me. You know I say what I mean and I
mean what I say.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now is Krystal Ball, co-host of "THE CYCLE" here
on MSNBC. And MSNBC contributor Jonathan Capehart, columnist for The
Washington Post. Thank you both for being here tonight.

KRYSTAL BALL, CO-HOST, "THE CYCLE": Thanks, Reverend.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Hi, Rev. Thanks.

SHARPTON: Krystal, it`s close but the battleground map favors the
President, right?

BALL: That`s exactly right. And you`re right. The focus on Ohio
where the President still has a significant lead. And other states, if
Romney didn`t win Ohio, if he were to have another credible path, that path
runs through Wisconsin, another state where the President continues to hold
a lead. Without winning either one of those two, it is very difficult,
near impossible for Romney to get there. So as much as the national polls
have certainly tightened and in the Real Clear politics average Romney
actually has a slight lead in those key battleground states, the President
still has many more paths to get to 270 than Mitt Romney does.

SHARPTON: Now, Jonathan, Republicans are nervous. Here`s what
National Journal`s Major Garrett reporter. Quote, "Romney and the
Republican National Committee operatives won`t say it publicly but concede
privately that Nevada is out of reach largely because of Hispanic voters
and Obama`s superior ground operations. Iowa remains fluid but according
to GOP operatives has tilted towards Obama in the past two weeks." So with
all of the tightening of the national polls, on the ground and
battlegrounds, it seems like they are getting nervous with a lot of
justification, Jonathan.

CAPEHART: Well, as both sides have known all along as we have known
all along, it`s all going to be about the ground game, both in the early
voting states such as Ohio but also on Election Day. Getting those people
out to the polls, either they`ve filed absentee ballots, early vote or get
to the polls on November 6th and that`s something that the Obama campaign
has been focused on from minute one and also focused on getting out their
coalition of voters. Women, people of color, African-Americans in
particular, Latinos in particular, getting them out there in the numbers
that they voted in 2008, get them to do that again in 2012.

SHARPTON: Now, Krystal, the Obama campaign is getting very specific
about that. Quote, "After using their huge database increased registration
among favorable voting groups in crucial states, they are now pinpointing
people who is on absentee ballots and need a nudge to send them or sporadic
voter who is indicated they would vote for the President but may need to be
pushed to show up at their polling place." This is real specific kind of
campaigning, Krystal?

BALL: Very specific and very smart. And the argument that some
Republicans have been making is all their early voting numbers are high but
Democrats are just pushing people who would have otherwise pushed -- voted
on Election Day to vote earlier. That is not the case. Typically people
who vote early are a different set of voters. They are going after people
who you would call sporadic voters who, in a lot of the polls, won`t even
show up in the likely voter model. They show up as registered voters but
when you narrow it down, it would be unlikely to show up there.

And going back to some of the points Jonathan made about the
President`s speech and the coalition that he`s been assembling and also
about this -- enthusiasm gap, there`s some new numbers in Georgia which, of
course, is not a swing state or battleground state but showing that
African-American turnout in Georgia is on pace to be at record levels,
historic record levels. So very encouraging that the President`s base
seems to be turning out.

SHARPTON: Now, on the other side of this, Jonathan, Politico is
reporting the Romney campaign is about to unleash millions in ad spending.
Quote, "Big, powerful ads in swing states, media markets are in the
pipeline. These ads will be focused on ceiling the deal in North Carolina,
Florida, and Virginia, where Romney has gained momentum after the debates
and is breaking Obama`s hold in Midwestern states. Ohio, Wisconsin, and
Colorado." Do you think -- can move the dial for Mr. Romney?

CAPEHART: Well, it depends on who is watching those ads and whether
they are indeed persuadable. They are going after people who primarily
voted for President Obama in 2008 and are still on the fence about whether
they`re going to give him the nod again. And they will probably be
amenable to a message that would make them comfortable with Mitt Romney.
He needs Virginia, he needs North Carolina, and he definitely needs Ohio if
he wants to win the presidency. But as Krystal said earlier, the president
has many more avenues to get to 270 than Mitt Romney does. So, every
dollar he spent probably will be a dollar well spent from their vantage
point to try to reduce that goal of 270.

SHARPTON: Now, Krystal, you mentioned Florida. President Obama and
President Clinton will campaign together this coming Monday in Orlando,
Florida, Youngstown, Ohio, and Prince William County Virginia. That`s an
effective duo, wouldn`t you say?

BALL: I would say so. And Prince William County Virginia is my old
neck of the woods. Parts of my Congressional districts, runs in the Prince
William County. I mean, those are key areas I think going to Florida shows
that they still think Florida is in play. That`s probably going to be one
of the tougher swing states to them. But back to the questions of ad
spending at this point, I mean, I`m from Virginia, my parents live in
Virginia, my family is there. And I think all the voters, their eyes are
totally glazed over because they`ve just been bombarded with ad after ad
after ad. So, at this point, if I had to toss the ground game versus the
air war, I would definitely put my money on the ground game.

SHARPTON: Now, another weapon potentially, Jonathan, is the young
vote. President Obama urged young audience listeners on MTV to get out and
vote early. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I hope every young person who is listening don`t believe this
idea that your vote does not matter. In 2000, in Gore versus Bush, 537
votes changed the direction of history. In a profound way. And the same
thing could happen here. So there`s no excuse. Regardless of who you vote
for, folks need to get out there and vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Young voters could make a difference, Jonathan?

CAPEHART: Yes. I mean, talk about the ultimate sporadic voters. You
know, the sporadic voters are people who may have voted in the 2008 and
that might have been the first time they ever voted for one reason or
another and we always talk about the youth vote and why politicians don`t
take them seriously by and large it`s because they don`t vote. Well,
President Obama is trying to remind them, one of what they did in 2008 and
helping him get into office but also in that clip you showed, showing them
just how important that vote -- how much -- how important that vote is and
then specifically, do you notice he said in there, it doesn`t matter who
you vote for, you should just go out and vote but it`s Barack Obama who is
running for re-election.

SHARPTON: Yes, that`s true.

CAPEHART: .asking them to vote. He hopes they vote for him.

SHARPTON: Jonathan, Krystal, I`ll have to leave it there. Thank you
for your time tonight.

BALL: Thanks, Reverend.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Be sure to catch Krystal on "THE CYCLE," weekdays at 3 p.m.
Eastern right here on MSNBC.

We`ve seen Mitt Romney play fast and loose with the truth before. But
his latest just go too far and I`m going to call him out on it. But first,
we`ll explain why the first lady was yelling at Jimmy Kimmel, it was all
for a good cause. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: How important all the votes of young voters to team Obama?
Well, First Lady Michelle Obama made an appearance on Kimmel, with a plan
on how to get people voting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, U.S. FIRST LADY: Election Day! Election Day! Up and
Adam, up and Adam. Move it. Move it. It`s Election Day! Come on. Go,
get your shoes on. Let`s go. Move it. Move it. Up, up, up. You can do
it.

JIMMY KIMMEL, STAND-UP COMEDIAN: OK. I`m moving.

MICHELLE OBAMA: Out the door. Out the door. And eat some carrots.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That will get people voting, we`ll have more voting rights
and what we`re doing this weekend to make sure everyone has their voice
heard.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. Sometimes Governor
Romney`s dishonesty about the economy is just funny. I mean, just listen
to this comment during his big economic speech today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. GOV. MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A new stimulus
three years after the recession officially ended? That makes fair
government but it won`t stimulate the private sector any better than it did
the stimulus four years ago.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Huh? Tell that to the company hosting your speech today.
I bet they enjoyed the over $1 million loan the stimulus provided them or
the $650,000 worth of grants they received because of the stimulus. Now,
that`s laughable but sometimes the lengths that Mr. Romney will go in
misleading the public are downright disturbing, like this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I saw a store today, the one of the great manufacturers in
this state, jeep, now owned by the Italians, is thinking about moving all
of the production to China.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That`s not even remotely true. The Detroit news, the same
conservative paper that endorsed Romney yesterday, called him out for
picking up that incorrect story about jeep moving production to China.
Even jeep`s parent company says, that claim, "It is a leap that would be
difficult even for professional circus acrobats." Considering the
company`s adding 11 hundred jobs in the U.S. next week. Listen, things are
getting better but that`s terrifying for Mr. Romney`s campaign. So he`s
going to keep running as fast as he can from the truth.

Joining me now is E.J. Dionne, Washington Post columnist, and an MSNBC
contributor. Thank for being here, E.J.

E.J. DIONNE, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: Good to be with you,
Reverend.

SHARPTON: What`s the Romney strategy? Just say stuff that`s wrong
and hope it doesn`t matter?

DIONNE: Well, you know, I think that has been for this campaign. I
mean, I`ve been around campaigns for a long time and I honestly haven`t
seen somebody push beyond the edge of the truth so often and say things
that are just so flatly untrue. I was struck during the debate, for
example, when he just sticks on this notion of President Obama taking an
apology tour. And everybody has said over and over again that that`s not
true. And I think that almost the entire Republican Party including Romney
has a whole lot of difficulty ever telling the truth about the stimulus.

Because economists are in broad agreement that it created something
like two to three million jobs and it helped the economy from collapsing.
Paul Ryan wrote letters on behalf of a couple projects in his district and
here was Romney at a company that got help from stimulus money. But they
can`t just give it up. They cannot say that the stimulus actually did some
good things for the economy. It`s really -- I suppose it shouldn`t be but
I find it astonishing, still.

SHARPTON: Now, when they keep talking down the economy, it seems like
whenever there is some good economic news, they immediately deny the Obama
team credit. For example, today we learned that we had an economic growth
for 13 straight quarters. The Romney campaign released a statement saying
today, we`ve received the latest round of discouraging economic news. It
went on to say, last quarter our economy grew at only two percent. I mean,
this is crazy.

DIONNE: Well, I mean, if you have a strategy to beat Obama on the
economy, you`re going to ignore the statics and just stay on that strategy.
What`s interesting about the two percent number today is that it was
actually better than most economies and analyst thought it was going to be.

SHARPTON: Well, it was not only that, E.J., it was hypocritical
because if you look at Governor Romney of Massachusetts, the base that he
grew was less than two percent, the average GDP growth under him was 1.5
percent per year as governor and he brags about what he did for
Massachusetts.

DIONNE: Yes. That`s right. And I have been surprised that the Obama
campaign hasn`t spent more time on the Massachusetts record. In the
republican primaries, one republican after another pointed out that
Massachusetts was 47th in job growth. The Obama campaign talked about that
for a little bit but they have largely let that go. Maybe Mr. Romney`s
views on two percent growth will put 1.5 percent growth in play in the
campaign. But there`s been really remarkably little attention to his
record as governor of Massachusetts.

SHARTPON: E.J., you have one of the sharpest political minds out
there now. How do you see this race now and what do you see in the next
coming days that would tip it one way or another if it was as tight as some
have predicted?

DIONNE: I think some bad economic news is about, is the main thing
that the President has to worry about so far that has come along in fact
this week. Other than that, stock market drop, this week has been pretty
good. I see it as President Obama`s race and I will only change my mind on
that if I see some serious polling in Ohio, not a one off, that shows him
in trouble there because I just find it very hard to see his losing if he
carries Ohio.

Because he also seems to have Nevada in the bank and if he can carry
Wisconsin, that would be enough. So, I think that you`re going to see
Romney with appeals to former Obama voters trying to make it easy for them
to switch. But I see the momentum for Romney as having stopped some time
ago and that the race has been a little flat with a little bit of movement
in some places in Obama`s favor.

SHARPTON: E.J. Dionne, thanks for joining me. Have a great weekend.

DIONNE: Good to be with you.

SHARPTON: Early voting starts tomorrow in a key swing state. Like
Florida. And I`ll be there and I`ll be there. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: I`m in Atlanta. But I began this morning working on voter
outreach had issues with church leaders and Congresswoman Terri Sewell at
the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. It`s the site where
four girls were murdered when the church was bombed in a racially motivated
attack 49 years ago. The bombing was a wakeup call for The Nation and
marked a turning point in the civil rights movement. Not even two years
later, President Johnson signed the voting rights act of 1965.

For the first time, people could go to the polls knowing their right
to vote had federal protection. Today people are lining up for early
voting knowing the same rights are under attack. It`s a huge issue. But
we`re fighting back. Earlier this year, I joined thousands of others in
marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, highlighting
the fight against voter suppression.

Meantime, in Florida, Republicans scale back early voting, slashing
the number of days from 14 to eight. Why would they do that? Because in
the 2008 election, Democrats had big age in early voting in Florida. The
GOP cuts included the Sunday before Election Day. A day when black
churches typically conducted souls to the polls voter drives. Those early
voting days start tomorrow in Florida. And I`ll be there with clergy
members and Bishop Victor Curry to get out the vote with operation lemonade
because we`ll make lemonade out of the lemons given to us by Florida
Republicans.

We`ve seen murder. We`ve seen church bombings yesterday. This day
they hand us lemons. They suppress voted. They hang up billboards. They
cut back early voting days. Tomorrow morning in Florida I`ll stand with
the bishop and we`ll squeeze those lemons and some sugar and give lemonade
to American democracy, standing up for those that stood up for women, for
minorities, for all Americans.

Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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