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'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Saturday, September 1st, 2012

September 1, 2012

Guests: Nancy Giles, Bob Franken, Monica Mehta, Ronald Scott, Irin Carmon, Rebecca Traister, David Coates, Karen Carter Peterson

nerd land, the ladies panel is back to discuss the Republican Convention.

Plus, we are deconstructing welfare, work and the history of race

And Mitt Romney says, his favorite sports teams matter more than his

But first, Republicans have finally left Tampa. And now it`s over.
Allow me to retort.

Good morning, I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. It`s OK if you couldn`t make
it through the entire Republican National Convention. We watched, so you
wouldn`t have to. Here`s everything you need to know about the last five
days in Tampa in the next five minutes.

It all started on Monday, except then it immediately stopped.
Hurricane Isaac showed up at the convention, and all the hot air blowing
around inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum was no match for the storm`s 80-
mile-per-hour winds. So, after officially opening the convention,
Republicans declare it had adjourned until Tuesday. And that`s when the
party really started.

The heavy hitters took to the stage Tuesday evening when we heard
from Rick Santorum, Scott Walker and Kelly Ayotte, among others. And if
you were a republican of color and speaking on Tuesday, you were most
likely crammed into one big hour of republican diversity that included
former representative and former democrat Artur Davis, South Carolina
Governor Nikki Haley and Texas Senate candidate Ted Cruz. But Ann Romney`s
speech Tuesday night pushed pause on policy and politician for a moment.
Her speech exposed the soft and fuzzy underbelly of the GOP elephant.


ANN ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY`S WIFE: Tonight, I want to talk to you about
love. I want to talk to you about the deep and abiding love I have for a
man I met at a dance many years ago.


PERRY: And she really, really, really wanted to talk about that


ANN ROMNEY: And that is where this boy I met at a high school dance
comes in. That boy I met at a high school dance. This man I met at a high
school dance. That tall, kind of charming young man brought me home from
our first dance. He took me home safely from that dance.


PERRY: When New Jersey Governor Chris Christie took the stage for
his keynote address, all that dancing came to a full stop.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I know this simple truth, and I
am not afraid to say it. Our ideas are right for America, and their ideas
have failed America.


PERRY: And by "our ideas," what he meant was Chris Christie`s ideas.
With the majority of his speech devoted to his own record as governor, it
sounded more like a speech for Christie 2016 than Romney 2012. So by
Wednesday night, the speakers were back on message with a slight alteration
of the theme. Instead of knocking President Obama with, we did build that,
former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Senator John McCain both
delivered foreign policy speeches that pretty much amounted to, you didn`t
kill that. Listening to their fear mongering about threats to our National
Security, you`d think Osama bin Laden was still hiding somewhere in the
hills of Afghanistan.


will happen if we don`t lead. Either no one will lead and there will be
chaos, or someone will fill the vacuum who does not share our values.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Unfortunately, for four years, for
four years, we`ve drifted away from our proudest traditions of global


PERRY: Now, maybe it`s reasonable to expect the omission of the
President`s foreign policy accomplishments in a Republican Convention
speech, but Paul Ryan`s address on Wednesday night skipped right over facts
in favor of what the Associated Press generously called factual shortcuts.

Take, for instance, Ryan`s suggestion that President Obama could
somehow have prevented the closure of a GM plant where he spoke as a
candidate in 2008.


said, I believe that if our government is there to support you, this plant
will be here for another 100 years. That`s what he said in 2008. Well, as
it turned out, that plant didn`t last another year. It is locked up and
empty to this day.


PERRY: Uh, yes, but that`s because unlike President Obama`s rescue
of the auto industry, the government wasn`t there to support that GM plant.
It closed under the Bush administration later in 2008 before Barack Obama
was ever in a position to do something about it. Or how about this claim,
that President Obama has no plan to deal with the debt?


RYAN: Republicans stepped up with good-faith reforms and solutions
equal to the problems. How did the president respond? By doing nothing.
Nothing except to dodge and demagogue the issue. So, here we are. Sixteen
trillion in debt. And still he does nothing.


PERRY: Yes, unless -- unless you count this. The President`s plan
for economic growth and deficit reduction. Sixty seven pages of President
Obama`s plan to deal with the debt which brings me to Thursday. And Mitt
Romney`s speech, accepting the republican nomination. Since the
Republicans are apparently into conversations with people who aren`t
actually there, here is what I have to say to invisible Mitt Romney.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Oh, you were finished? Oh, well, allow me to


PERRY: Let`s start with this part of your speech.


began his presidency with an apology tour. America, he said, had dictated
to other nations. No, Mr. President, America has freed other nations from


PERRY: I wouldn`t exactly call repairing the United States damage
foreign alliance as an apology, but there`s one thing you did get right.
Yes, Mr. Romney, America has freed other nations from dictators. Since
Barack Obama has been president, there are fewer of them in the world,
Hosni Mubarak, Moammar Gadhafi, Zine Ben Ali and the dictator of another
kind, Osama bin Laden. What else you got?


ROMNEY: And let me make this very clear. Unlike President Obama, I
will not raise taxes on the middle class of America.


PERRY: Yes, wrong on both counts. President Obama has no intention
of raising middle-class taxes, which you know very well, Governor. You
also know that the real difference between you and the President when it
comes to taxes is this. President Obama thinks the rich should have to pay
a little more. People like you think they should pay a little less. Or
almost nothing at all in the opinion of people like your running mate, Paul
Ryan. And speaking of opinions, I know some in your party believe the
issue of climate change is a matter of personal belief instead of what it
is, a fact. And that`s probably why you thought this would be a brilliant
applause line.


ROMNEY: President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the


And to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.


PERRY: Global warming, so funny. The thing is, what helps the
planet also helps me and my family. Yes, the Obama administration`s fuel
economy and carbon pollution limits and reduces the emissions that
contribute to climate change, but those policies also create jobs, save
families money on gas and keep the American automobile industry competitive
in the global market.

Now, I can`t say I`m surprised that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan
delivered speeches with factual inaccuracies about the President`s record.
After all the entire them of the convention, "We Built It," it based on the
Republicans Party`s erroneous claim that the President suggested business
owners don`t deserve credit for their own success. Of course, what he was
actually saying was that entrepreneurs and companies benefit from federally
funded support for things like bridges and roads, teachers, the internet,
or the location of the Republican Convention, the Tampa Bay Times Forum
which was built using taxpayers funds or the levees surrounding my beloved
New Orleans that this time didn`t fail because you see, we, the American
taxpayers and the federal government, not private business built that.

Here to help me digest all of this, comedian and social commentary
Nancy Giles, contributor to CBS`s "Sunday Morning." And long time
journalist and syndicated columnist Bob Franken. All right.



PERRY: So, I had a lot to say. It was all week. My show is only on
the weekends!

FRANKEN: I`ve got nothing left.


GILES: I know. I know. I`m just in awe. And I really, really,
really appreciate the way you frame that last we built it because it`s we
the taxpayers.


GILES: And you know, OK, President Obama wasn`t as articulate as
Elizabeth Warren when she made that beautiful thing about you should know
that you know, there`s this like -- there`s this contract that because
business does well, it`s because of public roads, public bridges, public
education. But one of the things that was so hard about this convention to
watch was just the lies, the plain old boldface, like lies. I can found
myself slap jawed through most of it. Like, wait a minute! That`s totally

PERRY: Right.

FRANKEN: What they didn`t put out there was their slogan, republican
slogan, which is we`ll demolish that.


PERRY: You`re right.

FRANKEN: Right. Now, it was interesting. I was able to tolerate
the convention by switching back and forth. This is blatant homerism.
Switching back and forth between the convention and watching the Washington

PERRY: Oh, I see.

FRANKEN: Of course, that begs a whole lot of baseball metaphors. The
only one I`m going to suggest here is that perhaps on Thursday night, the
Republicans wish they had put in a pinch-hitter for Clint Eastwood.

PERRY: Yes, I know. I promise we`re going to talk Clint Eastwood.

FRANKEN: Well, it occurs to me -- the one thing I want to say is that
we ought to add a debate with him as the moderator and two chairs.


PERRY: It would be classic, but let me ask this because I do think
what happens when we do get into a world where, you know, where we`re
watching the convention, we`re thinking, that`s lies, that`s lies, it`s
easy to forget that we are not a random sample of the American people.

GILES: I know, that`s true.

PERRY: Right? So is Mitt Romney actually, you know, they kept
saying, are you better off than you were four years ago? Isn`t Romney
better off than he was five days ago? We have a little poll showing that
there is a five percent increase in likability after the RNC than before
it, right? It`s still really quite low, blow one-third in terms of
likability, but a little bit of a jump. Is he better off now than he was
five days ago?

FRANKEN: Well, what I find so interesting is that they found it
necessary to have all these people tell why he`s such a nice guy.

PERRY: I know.

FRANKEN: I mean, he has this reputation of being cold and distant.
And so, they had all these people line up to try and put lipstick on a pig.

PERRY: Oh, no.


FRANKEN: And the polls -- the polls don`t seem to show that it
really did all that much.

GILES: Yes. Well, I agree with Bob. I mean, constantly you have
people going he`s so funny. You really don`t understand, he`s so funny and
I love him, he`s so lovable, he`s so liked. You know, just repeating the
same kind of warm and homey things to try to force the fact that he`s just
not that warm and homey.

PERRY: And, you know, the thing is I`d be OK with that. It does not
necessarily take a gregarious, friendly, nice human being to beat excellent
president, right? So, I wonder about the ways in which we`re too concerned
about that because some of the most gregarious lovely people I know are
also not people I would not want to be president. But I think for me, the
sense that there was this need to keep repeating it and the kind of
generalities that they provided rather than sort of, all right, you`re not
likeable, fine.

GILES: Right.

PERRY: Lay out some policy.

GILES: Right, and there was none. And there was none.

FRANKEN: But except for the fact that elections are, to a large
degree, really determined by likability. That just happens to be true. I
mean, that`s why Al Gore lost. Not that he`s not likeable in person but
because quite frankly he appeared to be a stiff often times.


FRANKEN: John Kerry, the same thing. John McCain had a bit of a


FRANKEN: George W. Bush was successful by saying he would be the

GILES: You would want to have a beer with. Right.

FRANKEN: .you`d want to have a beer with even though he doesn`t

PERRY: Right.

FRANKEN: Over Al Gore. So, it does matter. I understand that. But
it was so interesting to me to watch Ann Romney`s speech where she was
talking, and you played the sound bite where she was talking, she started
off with talking about how he was a boy at the dance, and by the time he
was through, he was a man.

PERRY: Man at the dance.


FRANKEN: Right before her eyes.


PERRY: When we come back, we are going to talk about that chair
because an old man talking to an empty chair felt like such a metaphor for
the Republican Party at this moment, when we come back.



CLINT EASTWOOD, ACTOR: I wondered about, you know, when the -- what?
What do you want me to tell Romney? I can`t tell him to do that. He can`t
do that to himself. You`re crazy.


You`re absolutely crazy.


PERRY: That was Clint Eastwood speaking to invisible Obama Thursday
night. And that was the Republican Party`s totally missing the irony of a
white man rendering a black man invisible. But at least Clint was
acknowledging the invisible man. One look around the audience, the RNC
made it immediately apparent which Americans Republicans were speaking to,
and the invisible Americans they seemed incapable of seeing.

Back with me are Nancy Giles and Bob Franken and joining them now are
Monica Mehta, author of the forthcoming book "The Entrepreneurial
Instinct," and David Coates, a Political Science professor at Wake Forest
University. It`s lovely to have you here.

So, I`ve got to say, this -- I did -- I felt like I was having a
college moment. So, I pulled out my invisible man by Ralph Ellison. And I
thought, this moment captured exactly the thing that I find so anxiety
producing. Whatever critiques you might have of President Obama, whenever
he tells the story of America, nobody`s invisible, right? There`s women
there, there`s men there, there`s workers there, there`s enslaved people
like, when he tells the story, it gets to be everybody`s story.

And over and over again, they kept rendering invisible everybody
else`s contributions. And then literally made the President into the
invisible man. And I mean, and I`m sorry, am I having like an academic
over reading of this?


GILES: Yes, you are.


GILES: Well, look, we`ve got a party that appeals to zero percent of
the African-American population, zero.


GILES: They managed to poll a few people that do support them. That
was kind of interesting eye candy.

PERRY: Right. Zero is a percentage, not a count.

GILES: Yes. Right.

PERRY: There are some actual black Republicans.

GILES: Right. I know. I know. And I saw some of them on your show
last week as a matter of fact. I found it just so sad and depressing.
Just -- first talking about Clint Eastwood. I`ve worked with him. He`s an
incredible filmmaker. He`s always had more than integrated cast. He`s
always had African-American actors in prominent roles in all his movies.
He`s very loyal to his crew. I`ve worked with him a while ago, it`s been
like 15 years, but this guy just looked kind of, like, sad and sort of out
of it and sort of unkempt. And just on the basis of him representing
himself, I was disturbed.

PERRY: Yes, and so let me push this a little bit because I don`t want
to make a claim that Mr. Eastwood is himself, you know, harboring racial
bias or anything.

GILES: I don`t think he is. Yes.

PERRY: But there`s something missing in what happens when you
represent the president of the United States in that way. Let`s even take
the idea that we are somehow less safe in the world, this kind of discourse
that was coming up from Condi Rice and from John McCain. That felt to me
the sort of thing that would be policed out of a democratic convention.
Like you`re not allowed to show up and say oh, you know, we`re much more
vulnerable now. We`re much less safe than we once were.

an extra element to the Eastwood presentation. Actually, it spoke to the
soft birtherism that has been around all week. I think that Barack Obama
is not one of ours. You know, he just doesn`t get it. And the party took
on this role as the carrier of the American dream, the carrier of American
exceptionalism as though the rest of us are not.


COATES: And then sad to say, well, actually he doesn`t get it, and
by implication presuming lots of Democrats don`t get it.

PERRY: Well, that`s interesting --

MEHTA: I think we`re connecting a lot of dots --


MEHTA: -- that shouldn`t necessarily be connected.

PERRY: Right.

MEHTA: I think Clint Eastwood very clearly has a history if you look
at this man of being one that is civil to people of all different
backgrounds. And you know, I just thought that this was an eccentric
speech. I thought it was one that was entertaining, and I thought it was
one that was meant to rile the population, but to go further and say that
there`s racial undertones here that we should all be upset about. I didn`t
connect those dots at all.

FRANKEN: Well, I agree. I mean, I think Monica makes the great
point. I think what we really have here was Clint Eastwood`s shtick. Not
only that, but there`s nothing original about that. Every campaign has an
ad with an empty chair depicting the opponent. What I found ironic is that
they were touting this Mitt Romney who is supposed to be so distant. So,
you had an empty chair promoting the candidacy of an emotional empty seat.

And I just believe that it was awkward. I believe it shows that the
smart staff people can make mistakes. They don`t like to admit it because
they get paid a lot of money not to. But it was just one of those things
that gave us something to talk about.

PERRY: But let me ask about this something to talk about because it
also seems to me that in addition to being sort of upstaged by an empty
chair, that Mitt Romney was consistently getting upstaged by the various
people who were meant to be introducing him. Let`s just take a quick
moment and listen to Chris Christie and his speech on the same night that
Ann Romney spoke.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: They said it was impossible.
This is what they told me, to cut taxes in a state where taxes were raised
115 times in the eight years before I became governor. We did it. They
said it was impossible to speak the truth to the teachers union. For the
first time in 100 years with bipartisan support, you know the answer, we
did it.


PERRY: All right. So, but the "We" there has nothing to do with
Mitt Romney.

GILES: It was really I did it. It was all about Chris Christie.
He`s my governor.

MEHTA: And good for him. Why not? He should tout that.


COATES: They`re getting lined up in 2016, they kept forgetting to
mention him until the last five minutes of that --

MEHTA: But the party is not one person. It`s a group of people. And
this is a moment to build unity and excitement, and I think he was very
successful in doing that.

GILES: Well, the one thing he wasn`t successful in doing, though, was
promoting Mitt Romney. I mean, he waited until, I think, 16 minutes in
before he even mentioned his name. It was so self-promoting. And I have
to just say that Chris Christie, to me, is the best advertisement for anti-
bullying legislation because the guy -- he`s my governor. He`s a total
bully. It`s not pleasant.

FRANKEN: What it`s interesting is that he would use the word "truth."
I mean, it was the kind of truth that George Orwell wrote about with the
ministry of truth. They were basically presenting, quote, "truth" and
presenting lies at the same time.

PERRY: Let me push on this truth question because we did hear that
from Christie, we heard it from Ryan, also this idea that like we`re the
people who will tell you the hard truths. But then also said but don`t
worry, we are not going to be sort of dominated by fact checkers, right?
That`s not going to be central to what we`re doing here.

MEHTA: But what`s the old adage? You know a politician`s lying when
his lips are moving. So, I mean, I think this is something that if we`re
going to talk about politicians not telling the truth, this happens on both
parties across the aisle.


PERRY: It really is more than that. I mean, you know, it`s funny to
find out in the news this morning that Paul Ryan lied about his marathon
time, right? That`s kind of funny and sort of, why would he do that when
he knows that there is, you know, the internet. But it`s not funny when
they say things like, you know, Medicare is being, you know, raided when,
in fact, the Ryan plan is the one that would turn it into vouchers. It`s
not cute or just sort of normal politics to suggest that the President has
a welfare policy that he doesn`t have. So, those are inaccurate.

GILES: I`ve to say. I`m sorry to jump in. I`ve got to say I really
don`t appreciate when you`ve got all these lies on the one side, and I`ve
heard not only you say this but other people say this that oh, we all both
sides lie. Both sides. It`s a false equivalency. These are boldface like
huge lies. The thing about the plant --

MEHTA: A boldface lie to somebody like me is saying that this
President is pro small business. I mean, that`s my wheelhouse. And I look
at small business owners today.

PERRY: And I`m going to -- we`re going to go straight to you Bob, as
soon as we get back because there was a promise of 12 million new jobs.

Monica, I`m going to ask you whether or not that was just a falsehood
or whether or not that`s reality and I`m going to let you in on this one.


PERRY: We`re back and we`re talking about the issue of honesty at the
Republican National Convention. So, I wanted to let you in on this script.
I thought you had a really smart insight about this fact-checking question.

COATES: We need to go deeper than just individual lies because people
can pursue those. Why are they lying all the time? I think there`s a
basic flaw in their strategy to say two things are not easy to square. One
is America is the most exceptional country on earth and by the way, we`ve
got to get rid of Obama because we`ve got trade deficits, we`ve got skill
deficits, we`ve got poverty and unemployment. The only way they can square
those two is to say, oh, those problems are ought under the Obama
presidency alone.

When in fact most of it was built up of course under George W. Bush.
And they`re saying, let`s go back to the kinds of programs that Paul Ryan
supported and George W. Bush canvassed. So they have the basic truth
they`re trying to sell. It`s all Obama`s fault. Is actually a lie. And
so in order to cover the lie, they have to lie and lie and lie and lie.
There`s going to be lies from here until November because if they told the
truth and say actually the mess was created by the policies you and I are
proposing to reintroduce, of course it wouldn`t go down very well in
Peoria. I think that`s the strategic area that the Democrats need to go
for. Don`t pursue every lie. Let the fact checkers do that.


COATES: Ask why they need to lie at all.

PERRY: Yes. It does feel like they`re sort of, you know, they`re
pursuing each and every one begins to make you look petty, right?


PERRY: This is the advice your parents give you. Don`t fight with a
person who is irrational because from a distance, you can`t tell who`s
rational and who`s not. Monica, I do want to ask you about this and
whether or not this is a lie. Let`s just hear Romney`s fundamental
promise, the one thing he said he would do. Let`s listen to this.


ROMNEY: I have a plan to create 12 million new jobs.


Paul Ryan and I have five steps.


PERRY: All right. So five steps, 12 million new jobs. Look, OK.
Is that true?

MEHTA: We had not heard enough from anyone to be able to support a
claim like we`re going to be able to create 12 million new jobs. But I
think the issue is far simpler than all of this. We have a jobs problem.
The economy is the number one issue for most people. And the President
who`s sitting in office today has not prioritized jobs and the economy. In
his first term in office, in the first two years, he controlled both the
house. He had the support of the legislature. And did he prioritize jobs
and the economy? No, he prioritized universal health care, a very
important issue, but frankly not the number one issue. And it still stands

PERRY: So, I want to take just a quick look at data on this because
the fact is that since 1948, just the reality, since 1948, income grows for
everybody except the top five percent at a much higher rate when a democrat
is president, period. Like it`s just -- you know, I mean, I`m not quite
sure what to do with that except to say there`s the facts when a democrat
is President, if you are in the 95 percent, you are likely to see income
growth. And I don`t know how to square that with, I believe that
businesses create jobs, not government, but elect me to the head of
government so I can create 12 million jobs.

COATES: -- Partly by pointing out that projections are the 12 million
new jobs will be created. Regardless of policy change. So, he`s not
making a pitch that isn`t going to happen anyway. And the other thing as I
pointed out, we`ve had two growth periods in the post -- one was democratic
led up to `73 when income inequality came down and the wages growth because
of strong trade unions in the northeast and so on. And we`ve had the
Reagan one since where inequality has grown out, outsourcing is gone, that
guy in that big office is taking all the money that came to bits in 2008.
We`ve got to find a third growth model. That`s what the problem is.


PERRY: So, is that right? Are we going to have 12 million jobs?
And so, what he`s doing is basically going out to the horizon at 6:00 a.m.
and going, rise, sun, rise! And then the sun rises?

MEHTA: All the rhetoric is totally ignorant of the fact that over the
last 40 or 50 years, we`ve seen a completely different nature in terms of
how people get access to capital. Debt has gone all over the place. It`s
become so easily accessible to most people. And a lot of Americans don`t
know what to do with it. It helps to fund our lives, but it`s grossly
complicated our lives as well. And it`s completely left out of the


FRANKEN: Well, he said, they have a five-step program, and it`s nice
to see that he and Paul Ryan are part of a five-step program. But beyond
that --

GILES: A 12-step program, you mean?


FRANKEN: But beyond that, quite frankly, five steps isn`t going to
cut it, number one. Number two, some of the steps that we know about are
going to be horribly destructive to the economy up to and including the tax
cuts that they`re talking about. That fits into the ministry of truth kind
of approach to things. But lastly, what they are doing, and you just
mentioned a fact. Shame on you. We`re not going to let that dictate the
campaign, after all. And this is just classic political demagoguery when
they say if you don`t like what you see in the mirror, break the mirror.
That`s what they`re doing now by trying to give a partisan sheen to anybody
who has the audacity to present facts.

GILES: And the other thing is that there was a jobs bill that the
President introduced that was rejected by, you know, the Republicans. I
think 16 times. And sometimes not even allowed to get to the floor.

MEHTA: Well, here`s another fact. Raise the taxes. Raise the taxes
on the wealthy. What are you really going to get? You`re going to get
$700 billion. We`ve got a $16 trillion debt. What are we doing for the 93
percent that`s left?


PERRY: We`re cutting the taxes at the top will undoubtedly increase
the deficit.

COATES: We`re running different kinds of debt together, we`ve got
federal debt, we`ve got international debt and we`ve got personal debt.
Personal debt built up in the Reagan years because people -- their wages
didn`t rise except for the late `90s. So people might sell that credit
cards, that hangs like a low now on this economy and we can`t get out of
it. And actually we`ve got massive international debt as well.

PERRY: And up next, I want to talk about one other issue, and that
was how Mitt Romney, in presenting himself, dealt with the faith factor on
Thursday night. We`re going to dissect the "M" word in just a bit.



ROMNEY: We are Mormons, and growing up in Michigan, that might have
seemed unusual or out of place, but I really don`t remember it that way.
My friends cared more about what sports teams we followed than what church
we went to.


PERRY: And there you have it. That was the one and only "M" word
dropped by the newly minted republican nominee for president. And the
speech was anticipated to be a Mormon coming-out story, that was, in fact,
all there was.

Still with us is, Nancy Giles from "CBS Sunday Morning," and joining
us is Ronald Scott, author of "Mitt Romney: An Inside Look at the Man and
his Politics."

All right. We`ve talked about Latter-day Saints and Mormons on the
show before. And I do think certain things are off limits. I think making
fun of magic underwear or odd beliefs, or I mean, religion is quirky. So,
let`s put that aside. Here`s what does feel like it`s on the table to me,
tax returns and Romney saying that he doesn`t want his church donations to
be clear.

Attitudes towards gender equality and the way they might have been
impacted by his religious beliefs. And ultimately how his religious
beliefs might influence how he wants to govern. Are those things that are
on the table that are allowable for us to ask and talk about in terms of
the Mormon identity of Mitt Romney?


PERRY: OK. And so --

SCOTT: In a word, sure.

PERRY: Yes. All right. And so do, you buy the tax return story? Is
that why he doesn`t want to release tax returns?

SCOTT: No, that`s now why he`s reluctant to release his taxes. It`s
a nice tap dance, but that`s not what`s behind his resistance on the taxes.

PERRY: What`s behind it?

SCOTT: I think -- I think it`s because the tax returns will give the
opposition lots of things to shoot at. There`s nothing illegal there, I`m


SCOTT: Because he`s had too much help. He knows he`s going to run
for president for quite some time. He sanitized everything. Everything`s
done correctly. But what it will present, what those returns will present
will be some opportunities for Democrats to take pot shots and make him out
to be a rich guy.

PERRY: So, let me ask about the other sort of Mormon piece that keeps
coming up, and that is about gender equality, which is not the same thing
as whether or not Mitt Romney likes women or likes his wife or likes his
mama or any of that, but it does feel to me like the stories that we hear
about his role as bishop in the church and the things that he said to women
in tough circumstances about their reproductive choices is relevant. Does
that feel relevant to you, Nancy?

GILES: It definitely does. It seems very paternalistic. And the
shame of the whole thing on Thursday night was apparently part of that film
that was shown before the networks rolled.


SCOTT: It showed a lot of his interest, his love of the Mormon
Church, his connections and relationships with people in that community.
And from what I saw, it`s very touching. I`m not a fan of his, but you had
to be moved by all of that. That never made it on air. So it`s still this
kind of mystery. And I have the same questions that you do. I have them
about his ideas about race as well because the Mormon Church had definite
ideas about race until the `80s. You know? This is part of how he grew

PERRY: So, do you think it`s time for him to actively engage this, or
is this just -- is this just sort of stoking the fires of resentment?

SCOTT: What we know only of two situations with women when he was
leader of the Mormon Church. One was in my book. We chronicled it in
detail. It was a woman that was pregnant and wanted to keep her child, he
counseled her to give the child up for adoption which is policy in the
Mormon Church to encourage people to do that. The incorrect information
about that was that she was actually threatened with church discipline.


SCOTT: That doesn`t -- didn`t make sense to me when I read it.
Doesn`t make sense to me now.

PERRY: But the threatening of ex-communication --

SCOTT: I don`t think he did.

PERRY: OK. Because that does --

SCOTT: That`s what she heard him say, possibly.

PERRY: All right. Because it does happen. I mean, I just want to be
really clear. As the African-American child born out of wedlock of a
former Mormon mother, the casting into outer darkness and the notion that
one could be ex-communicated from one`s reproductive choices does happen,
which is why for me it resonated. It sounded like it could be true, but
that doesn`t mean that it is.

SCOTT: Well, I think you could be -- you could get church discipline
for having sex outside of marriage.

PERRY: Right.

SCOTT: But you wouldn`t get church discipline for keeping a child
that was conceived that way.

PERRY: Yes. OK. You know, unfortunately, we have to go. And
there`s so, so, so much more.

GILES: It`s just surprising. You know, I just feel like these
choices are so private. They have no place in politics.

PERRY: And exactly this issue of discipline, I think, is part of what
I want to know is whether or not that notion of a kind of religious
discipline around personal choices will also convey into a sense of
government having the right to discipline.

SCOTT: I think not. I think there`s evidence -- when he ran for the
Senate in `94, he made a fairly dramatic change on his position on abortion
where he favored Roe V. Wade and said even though I`m personally opposed to
abortion, I can support Roe V. Wade and a woman`s right to choose. And I
think that is -- says to us how he`s going to govern, that his religious
beliefs are not going to impact how he governs.

GILES: And it`s flipped again. It`s changed again.


SCOTT: He`s flipped again, but I think that he will uphold the law,
and he will be a representative of the people that elected him.

PERRY: Ronald, I appreciate you being here, and we are going to go to
exactly this issue next as we ask about this issue of is this an all-boys
club, or is there room for the rest of us in the republican America? More
after the break.


PERRY: All year long we`ve been discussing what`s been dubbed the
GOP`s war on women. Especially when it comes to reproductive rights. But
say what you will about the Republicans and their gender gap with women.
This week`s convention was not an all-boys club. Did I just say that? No,
in fact, she just said that. And by "She," I mean the women that filled
the Republican Convention`s schedule this week. On Tuesday, the woman who
may have gotten the most bang for her buck had only a few minutes to speak,
but she managed to electrify the crowd. Take a look.


to tell you the American people are awake, and we`re not buying what you`re
selling in 2012.


PERRY: But people were apparently buying what Saratoga Springs, Utah
Mayor Mia Love was selling. Since her speech on Tuesday, the candidate for
U.S. Congress has raised more than $200,000. And then there was South
Carolina Governor Nikki Haley who got the crowd going about voter ID laws.


GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We said in South Carolina that
if you have to show a picture ID to buy Sudafed, if you have to show a
picture ID to set foot on an airplane, then you should have to show picture
ID to protect one of the most valuable, most sensual, sacred rights and
blessed America, the right to vote.



PERRY: So, apparently in South Carolina voting should be harder than
buying decongestant. Because the voter ID laws are stricter than pharmacy
ID laws even though the manufacturing of methamphetamine is actually far
more prevalent than voter fraud. But OK. At least we`re clear about where
she stands. There was also the most anticipated speech on Tuesday night.
The woman who could be the next First Lady, Ann Romney.


ANN ROMNEY: We`re the mothers. We are the wives. We`re the
grandmothers. We`re the big sisters. We`re the little sisters, and we are
the daughters. You know it`s true, don`t you?


I love you women!



PERRY: At the end there, I thought Oprah had taken over Ann Romney`s
body. I love you women! You get a car! You get a car! I`m sorry, I
couldn`t help myself. So Tuesday didn`t end with the parade of women
speakers at the republican convention. Oh, no. If you that Ann Romney was
the pinnacle, think again. They brought out the big guns Wednesday.
Condoleezza Rice, anyone?


RICE: My fellow Americans, we do not have a choice. We cannot be
reluctant to lead, and you cannot lead from behind.


You heard what sister Condi was saying, right? President Obama isn`t
leading when it comes to international affairs. Bin Laden. And to show
that the GOP is down not only with women but also with Latinos, New Mexico
Governor Susana Martinez spoke right before vice presidential candidate,
Congressman Paul Ryan.


GOV. SUSANA MARTINEZ (R), NEW MEXICO: And at 18, I guarded the
parking lot at the Catholic Church bingos.


Now, my dad made sure I could take care of myself. I carried a Smith
& Wesson .357 magnum.


PERRY: Whoa! For bingo? I am not messing with her. No, ma`am. As
we get closer to the election, it will be interesting to see if what these
women said was actually what women voters wanted to hear. And more
importantly, if it was enough to move the GOP standard bearers` ten-point
gender gap with the President.

Coming up, our panel will tackle just that.



FMR. GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE (R), ARKANSAS: But the only hitch in an
otherwise perfect week was the awful noise coming from the hotel room next
door to mine. Turns out it was just Debbie Wassermann Schultz practicing
her speech for the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte next week.
Bless her heart.


PERRY: That was former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee at the
Republican National Convention on Wednesday. And there`s not much I can
say about that except ladies, what in the world was he thinking?

Right now, we are awaiting former Governor Mitt Romney at a campaign
event in Cincinnati, Ohio. But in the meantime at my table, Irin Carmon,
staff writer for Nancy Giles, writer and social commentator,
Rebecca Traister, author of "Big Girls Don`t Cry," and Monica Mehta, author
of "The Entrepreneurial Instinct." Go.


much that especially they love the vision of, you know, a loud, mouthy,
powerful woman, Jewish woman --

GILES: Breast cancer survivor.

TRAISTER: Debbie Wassermann Schultz making an awful noise in a hotel
room. And the other comment like that that I really notice, was, when they
all cheered Clint Eastwood`s mention of Oprah crying.

IRIN CARMON, SALON.COM: Yes. There was a laugh line -

TRAISTER: They all thought it was hilarious, the idea of Oprah


TRAISTER: So, this is a kind of, you know, despite Ann Romney`s
claims that, you know, women, I love you!

MEHTA: We`re more complex than this, though. Like there`s so much
more to what matters to women than just the talking points that we hear all
the time. There are plenty of conservative women who are concerned about
the fact that 41 percent of single mothers live below the poverty line.
And that they are five times as likely to be in that situation today.

GILES: Many of the women that you`re talking about, though, are
really going to be affected by women`s health choices being, you know,
compromised by no funding for Planned Parenthood.

MEHTA: And I totally agree with you, but the economy still matters
more to me.

GILES: What part of the economy?


PERRY: I think the idea that women`s reproductive rights are
divorced from economic concerns --

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: They are economic issues.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: They are grabs more than any other things.


MEHTA: They are economic issues like whether I`m getting a value
meal at Wendy`s isn`t an economic issue. Like there are far greater



GILES: How do you participate in the workplace?

MEHTA: Can I call you guys sisters? Like it`s jobs and the
workplace. Like that`s what matters.


TRAISTER: -- is you can`t control your reproductive life. Earn your
money. How do you care for your children if you can`t afford health care
or child care, if you don`t have a good educational, I mean --

MEHTA: Ladies, ladies, we all know that all we do in life is make a
lot of choices. And the choice that I would make first is to live in an
economy that`s healthy and then argue with my leadership over my
reproductive rights. It`s just the choice I would make.

GILES: I don`t think you`re speaking in the way that most people
think. I mean, it`s not a matter of --


GILES: I know. And I consider you a sister, OK. But I mean, the
idea that women`s reproductive rights have nothing to do with the economy.
It doesn`t track. It doesn`t make sense.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It`s not what drives the economy.


PERRY: It does particularly for women. I mean, when we look just as
sort of at the world economy, when women live in nations where they control
their reproduction, when they have access to affordable and reasonable
birth control, that is the same places where we see women receiving
educations. It`s where we see women not stuck in marriages that have
domestic violence. It`s where we see women having longer life spans. All
of those things are fundamentally connected to the ability to control one`s
reproductive rights. Irin.

CARMON: I did a piece on republican women. So you obviously have
politicians making a lot of things up. I`ve spent this week at the RNC and
I went around and I talked to women about why they disagree with this war
on women thing. And like you, they don`t see reproductive rights -- first
of all, they don`t see it as reproductive rights. Second of all, they
don`t see it as a war on women.

And I thought that overall, there was this real failure to have
structural interconnected thinking, whether or not about reproductive
rights or about discrimination against women, vulnerable people, Medicare
and Medicaid, all of these things have to do with women`s participation in
public life. So when you say we`re all sisters, that`s a pretty hollow
thing to me, and that`s what we heard all week at the Republican Party.
What we heard is just being female is some sort of kinship, as if there`s
no interconnected series of things that affect us differently because we`re

MEHTA: Because lack of respect for the different views that make up
what is important to women is also hollow. It`s not that we as women all
feel the same way about everything.


When they talk about reproductive rights, they lose me completely. I
am with you. I don`t want to see that. But I`m not going to vote that

CARMON: What we`re talking about is how -- why is it that we have so
few women in public life? What are the structural barriers? And to me it
felt like they were so happy to see women on stage, but they weren`t asking
why are there so few women on stage? What is holding women back? Why are
there so many women living in poverty?

PERRY: And we are not done. Up next with the 2012 Republican Party
platform says about the rights of women and their unborn.


PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry in New York. And the
Republican Convention put on quite a show this past week. But regardless
of the optics where we saw a prominent women like South Carolina Governor
Nikki Haley, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and New Mexico`s
Governor Susana Martinez, there`s still the matter of the 2012 Republican
Party platform.

What`s that, you may ask? That`s the written document, the one that
details the party`s collective views and plan of action on various issues
like the economy and health care and oh, yes, abortion.

On the issue of abortion and the rights of so-called unborn children,
the following is written. Quote, "Faithful to the self-evident truths
enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of
human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual
right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment
to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear the Fourteenth
Amendment`s protections apply to unborn children."

That is the party`s platform on your reproductive rights. And it`s
right here. You can read it.

So while the RNC gave good face with the women that spoke, the
written word simply does not lie about their position on reproductive
rights. It`s definitely in the GOP site.

At the table, Irin Carmon, staff writer for, Nancy Giles,
writer and social commentator, Rebecca Traister, author of "Big Girls Don`t
Cry," and Monica Mehta, author of "The Entrepreneurial Instinct."

there in writing.


TRAISTER: And there were optics as well as language, the "I love you
women" language that was trying obviously to make unsettled inroads telling
American women how much we love them. But if you listen to the other
language, I think you`re going to hear language that matches that which is
a way that a lot of the speakers were talking about women, take Ann
Romney`s "I love women" speech, take the sound bite that you showed earlier
-- we are the mothers, the sisters, the daughters, the grandmothers,
nieces. Did you notice -- we`re not bankers.

HARRIS-PERRY: Absolutely.

TRAISTER: We don`t have jobs. We women who Ann Romney loves exist
only defined by our domestic relationships within a family. This was the
emphasis -- her vision of motherhood, the put-upon, long-suffering,
martyred, you know, ladies, we all just sigh a little bit louder than the

That is not just cutesy gender essentialism for men are from Mars,
women are from Venus. That is a very retro -- it`s a vision of long-
entrenched gender inequities that kept women, especially privileged white
women who might by their privilege have had more access to public power
than their less privileged sisters.


TRAISTER: This is the cult of, you know, Republican motherhood, the
cult of domesticity that`s been around 200 years to keep those women
confined in the house falsely elevating their role, you know, in the
democracy and role in the home so that it makes it more difficult for them
to participate in public life. We were listening to, like, 100-year-old
rhetoric about who women are. And that matches that platform.


HARRIS-PERRY: I want to show this, because, Monica, you made the
point that not all women think alike. I agree, having a uterus or
fallopian tubes does not make one a Democrat. But I do want to show this
lifetime poll. This is a new poll just out yesterday. I just want to look
first at the base of support for President Obama with women. And certainly
part of it is, in fact, racialized, as you`ve just pointed out, right?

I mean, you know, his support among black women, among Democrats,
Latinas, Northeast, under 40, young women, college grads, unmarried, all --
I mean, just enormous numbers.

And then let`s look at the same poll about Romney`s support. Now,
yes, he has the support of Republican women, 85 percent of Republican women
are saying they support Mitt Romney. But even among white women where in
every poll I`ve seen previous to this, he was at least at 50 percent. He
is now even among white women, among women over 50 and among married women
well under that 50 percent rate.

And so, again, overall you end up with this enormous gap between
Obama and Romney.

IRIN CARMON, SALON.COM: I want to add to Rebecca`s point about the
idea of the women sigh a little harder. I mean, this week when we heard so
many lies, there was a defense that said, well, we`re talking about a
fundamental disagreement about the role of government. So here`s something
that was not based on a lie but is based on a misconception.

This idea when she says we sigh a little harder, it`s this idea that
women are always going to have it harder, as if you acknowledge disparity,
that that`s enough, OK, the women are like, I`m with you. If you say that
things are harder, then that`s enough as opposed to a serious set of policy
prescriptions or acknowledging that previous sets of policy prescriptions
are one of the reasons that we have women standing up there in the first

And so, I was talking to these women at the convention this week.
And they would say to me, well, you`ve ate the apple. Pam Bondi, she spoke
at the convention, I saw her give a speech later at the pro-life women.
She said there`s no such thing as a glass ceiling. A minute later, she
felt that she had been singled out for sexism when sued over Obamacare.

I came up to her later. I said, I`m curious, you were subjected to
sexism. You said there`s a double standard but no glass ceiling. Oh, no,
there`s no glass ceiling, young women just have to believe in yourself and
we`ll all be OK -- as if believing in ourselves and it will be OK as
opposed to policy is what made those women stand on stage.

also, from a personal point of view, the single woman, I felt completely
ignored by this crew, and completely devalued because I don`t have children
and haven`t had children.

It was a very insulting thing. And like I was saying before, it
comes back to single women and their choices reproductively which should be
private. It`s no one`s business.

HARRIS-PERRY: Let me go to this privacy because there was this
moment that I found extremely compelling. And it wasn`t during the
convention. It was Ann Romney on CBS talking about the issue of
miscarriage. And I found it very compelling.

Let`s listen to it for just a moment.


ANN ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY`S WIFE: I knew I was losing the baby, and it
was about 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning. I decided I wasn`t going to wake
Mitt up. I was going to be OK. I waited until about 6:00 in the morning.
I said, Mitt, you`ve got to take me to the hospital right now.


HARRIS-PERRY: OK. No person watching that can feel anything other
than the pain of that loss, the agony of that loss. She goes on to talk
more about it.

But I also thought to myself, that`s why privacy matters, because she
was making a choice in that moment. Her choice was, I`m going to wait
three hours before I tell my husband. That`s a choice that makes sense
within the context of our marriage. It`s a choice that makes sense based
on my knowledge of my body.

medical care.

HARRISPPERRY: She was incredibly -- I just feel like I want
everybody to have that same privacy.

MEHTA: That`s cynical because the way we`re talking about Ann
Romney, I look at Nikki Haley, and I felt so much pride because her story
is so much like mine. I`m the daughter of self-made immigrants. They came
here with very little. They did very well for themselves.

And now she`s governor. And I look at her and I think wow, that`s
fantastic. And it may be because our skin`s kind of close in shade.

HARRIS-PERRY: Sure, sure.

MEHTA: You know what? I should have the right to feel that pride.
I look at Condoleezza Rice. And she is such an example of American

I mean, she`s not sitting there talking about how difficult it was
for her and how we should feel bad for her. She found her way. And to a
certain extent, I respect that. So I don`t look at these women and think
about, like wallflowers.

HARRIS-PERRY: She found her way through the world because policy had

GILES: Civil rights made a huge difference.

HARRIS-PERRY: She didn`t find her way by herself.

GILES: Nikki Haley has a government job. I mean, you can`t exclude
those things.

TRAISTER: Nikki Haley is celebrating limiting a vote. Nikki Haley
was celebrating the limited ability of people to vote by having to show
their IDs. This is voting rights with one of the biggest entryways to
participation in public political civic life for people who had different
skin colors and different genders.

MEHTA: I thought they were fantastic role models. I looked at them
and thought --

TRAISTER: Nobody`s saying they`re not fantastic role models. They


HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, Condi grew up in the South and can play the
piano and speak multiple languages, and secretary of state. That`s hot.
I`m with you.

TRAISTER: It doesn`t mean we can`t take apart what they`re saying.
We can both appreciate their American stories and the progress they
represent at the same time we`re critical of the policy they`re espousing
and words they`re using.

MEHTA: I`m trying to say -- yeah, I guess what I`m trying to say is
that not all women feel exactly the same way. And feel something of


CARMON: It`s Ann Romney saying we all sigh harder.

TRAISTER: It`s not us saying that. We`re actually -- I think I`m
critiquing that idea. You know, it`s Ann Romney who -- and many other of
the speakers who were saying come on, we all know that the female
experience is one of maternity, domesticity.

GILES: Not necessarily.

TRAISTER: Role within a domestic life. And that`s not represented.
That`s what Nancy`s saying. It doesn`t represent her experience or many

GILES: It doesn`t. I don`t deny her having that experience or deny
the women that do.

CARMON: There`s a variety of experiences represented.

GILES: We`re saying the same thing except that --

CARMON: I think the problem is that you`re acting as if the very
fact that they have inspiring personal stories is enough for women. Just
the fact that they`re women is not enough for me personally. What do they
offer the other women who don`t have the privileges that they haven`t had,
the success that they`ve had?

HARRIS-PERRY: Irin, I think -- but I think, though, that question of
substantive representation is key in a democracy, right? It would not be
OK to have a democracy where it was all heterosexual white men who all
shared my policy views, right? That would also be an inadequate democracy,

So, it`s not simply the policy. Certainly the bodies that
embodiments matter. For me what felt so, I guess, obscene in a certain way
was the ways in which these women`s bodies were being used just as their

So that when you have Condi Rice giving that speech about, you no he,
I came up and I stood up by my own bootstraps -- I felt like that was such
an ahistorical stereotype. That story does not tell what the whole -- you
did not build that by yourself. You know, there was a whole movement that
built that along with you. Like you just -- I`m sorry, you didn`t do that
by yourself. We do that together.

GILES: It felt like a complete denial of the facts of how you got
there. I mean, when we look at President Obama, one of the first things
that he did -- I think it was the first thing he did was sign the Lilly
Ledbetter, you know --


GILES: Thank you, Equal Pay Act. And how any woman could not be for
that, for instance.

I`m stunned by that. I don`t understand how anyone could not want
equal pay for equal work. I don`t get it.

TRAISTER: A part of what I saw going on this week, and I wrote about
this in "Salon", and it`s been going through on the war on women. People
are saying what are we in 1964 talking about birth control? Yes. Part of
what the right is attempting to do right now, and you could see it in Tampa
is actually use a time machine. To take us back before the social ruptures
of the mid-20th century that allowed women and people of color to have more
access to political and economic power --

MEHTA: I thought we watch a different convention, because I thought
they were very much on task on jobs and the economy. That was the first


TRAISTER: The greatest generation, my grandfather --

HARRIS-PERRY: There`s just no way to get a job if you`re constantly

Thank you, Irin and Rebecca. The rest of you are back for more a
little later.

But, next, we`re actually going to head to the Gulf Coast. Last
week, I brought you a tour of the house that my husband, James, and I
recently brought right across the street from where we currently live in
New Orleans, and the plan was to take the property, still blighted from
Katrina, and restore it into a place where our family could live and grow.

But Isaac had other plans. The storm`s force uprooted a tree in the
yard which collapsed our dream home, and now we`re left with this. I know,
it looks horrible, but we are still planning to build that.

And here`s the other thing. As big as the loss is, we are very, very
clear about how lucky we are. Our family is completely alive and safe and
well. We have another home. Others in the Gulf Coast fared much worse in
hurricane Isaac, and we`re going to go there, next.


HARRIS-PERRY: Residents in the Gulf Coast are still picking up the
pieces after hurricane Isaac made landfall Tuesday. At least seven deaths
in Louisiana and Mississippi are now connected to the storm. While many
more in hard-hit areas like Plaquemines Parish and Slidell, Louisiana, saw
their property devastated by flooding. And for some, the damage was worse
than hurricane Katrina`s wrath seven years ago.

President Obama called local officials yesterday and will survey the
worst of the damage on a trip to New Orleans Monday.

Joining me now from New Orleans is Louisiana State Senator Karen
Carter Peterson.

Good morning, Karen. Nice to see you.

Melissa. How are you?

HARRIS-PERRY: Do you have power back yet, Karen?

PETERSON: I do, thank goodness. In fact, we were lucky. We live
downtown, so we were very lucky.

HARRIS-PERRY: I`m happy to see you and glad to know you`re doing
well. How bad is the flooding in the hardest-hit areas this morning?

PETERSON: It`s pretty bad, Melissa. As we saw in Katrina in New
Orleans, many of the outlying parishes are experiencing the same level of
devastation by the hundreds and the thousands. For example, in St. John
the Baptist Parish, there was an experience of tidal surge that`s
unprecedented in the last 15, 20 years and areas that hadn`t floods in all
of those years flooded for the first time, many, many subdivisions, as well
as the Braithwaite subdivision in Plaquemines that`s been nationally
televised and some areas of St. Tammany Parish in Slidell.

So, there`s significant devastation. In New Orleans and Jefferson
Parish, the metro area, is really experiencing an issue of power.


PETERSON: Entergy is getting a bit of grief right now for not having
power restored.

HARRIS-PERRY: Sure. And I know -- you know, this is one of the
challenges that we were facing as a family in terms of trying to get
grandparents evacuated and folks in other areas evacuated because every
single storm is different. And so people who said oh, we did fine in
Katrina. Sometimes didn`t want to leave in this case.

PETERSON: That`s right. And so, they found themselves in harm`s
way, but the good thing is that there were emergency personnel that were
ready. The National Guard and other -- fire department and police folks --
I mean, and just average citizens put their own lives at risk to go and
rescue folks. And so, most people are out of harm`s way, but there`s great

And thank goodness that President Obama signed the emergency
declaration. We`re very thankful for that, as well as U.S. Senator Mary
Landrieu who made sure that there was money available for the recovery with
the disaster relief fund.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, and this is not a small point. So I just -- you
know, there`s the very real human damage and property loss and all of that,
you know, that I`m feeling very personally myself, but there is also a
political story here because levees are a matter of politics. They have to
be paid for. And the question of what you do after storms.

Talk to me a little about why this is doing better despite as bad as
things are.

PETERSON: Well, you know, I think despite how bad things are, I
mean, it`s important for us to have disaster relief funding, and I
appreciate the efforts of Senator Mary Landrieu against oftentimes, like
you said, politics is sometimes involved. Oftentimes the Republicans are
not willing to fund things like disaster recovery or the level of funding
that`s needed for the Army Corps of Engineers.

We need -- we`ve had billions of dollars invested, and we`re thankful
that the federal government has returned some of the investment that
Louisiana has sent to Washington`s coffers.

However, there`s more that`s needed. And certainly we`ve had lots of
federal levees built, but we`ve also seen in Plaquemines Parish and
Terrebonne Parish, and St. John Parish, there are other flood protection
initiatives that need to be funded that have not yet been funded.

And so, I appreciate Senator Landrieu`s efforts, but she`s up against
a Romney/Ryan budget. OK? That`s the fact. And that budget does not take
care of the folks here on the ground.

A disaster affects every citizen, Melissa, as you know. You know,
probably folks are surprised to see oh, wow, somebody we know nationally, a
celebrity, is impacted in the same way that so many average citizens.

But you know, you were talking about women a second ago. Women are
disproportionately affected in storms like this.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right -- and the elderly.

Karen, I appreciate you joining us, State Senator Karen Carter

And the point, of course, is it doesn`t -- the storm does not ask if
you are Republican or Democrat. Billy Nungesser, who`s a Republican, Bobby
Jindal, our governor, who`s a Republican, have been on the ground doing
that work, right? But we need the resources. It is a moment where our
partisanship should hopefully not have anything to do with our identity as

So thank you for your continued work, Karen. And --

PETERSON: Thank you.

HARRIS-PERRY: I`m coming home soon.

Up next, Mitt Romney`s intentional distortions, race-baiting and the
fear of the dangerous black man.


HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back.

Right now, I want to go live to Cincinnati, Ohio, where Mitt Romney
is on stage for a campaign rally. Let`s take a listen.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I think you gave them the
answer this morning. Thank you!


I brought with me a very special person who lit up the convention and
who`s going to light up America, my sweetheart, Ann Romney!


ANN ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY`S WIFE: Wow! That is an unbelievable
reception. We are so grateful for all of you coming out.

And I know why you`re doing it. It`s not just for us. You`re doing
it for the country.


You all have figured it out. And you know this is an important
election. We`ve been across this country, and we have seen so many
families and individuals that are hurting, that are looking for hope and
are looking for help.

Well, guess what? Help is on the way.


I had a chance to talk a little bit about this guy that I love at the
convention, and I wanted to talk from my heart. I hope that you all felt
that it was so much from my heart.


I believe in America, and I believe in this man. And I know he can
get it right for us. So thank you all very much.


M. ROMNEY: Now, getting ready -- getting ready for my convention
speech, I read some speeches from some other people who`d spoken at
conventions. I actually also read the inaugural speech of some of our
great presidents and heroes in my life.

One of the speeches I read was the convention speech of Barack Obama.
He was not one of the ones that I wanted to draw from, except I could not
resist a couple of things he said, because he made a lot of promises. And
I noted that he didn`t keep a lot of promises.

One of the promises he made was he was going to create more jobs.
And today 23 million people are out of work or stopped looking for work or
underemployed. Let me tell you, if you have a coach that`s zero and 23
million, you say it`s time to get a new coach.


It`s time for America to see a winning season again, and we`re going
to bring it to them.


Now, he`s famously said that he was going to slow the rise of the
oceans. And he was going to heal the planet.

And our promise to you is this: We are going to help the American
people and help the families of America.


HARRIS-PERRY: That is Republican candidate for president Mitt
Romney, campaigning in the battleground state of Ohio just two days after
accepting the nomination of his party. And once again, making the -- he
just got back from New Orleans. And he once again made the rising of the
rivers joke.

I`ve got to say, it was interesting. Obviously they put Ann Romney
up initially. We heard Governor Romney, his wife, Mrs. Romney, spoke
first. Clearly they think she helps to humanize him, to make him more

We heard him say that he thinks Barack Obama broke his promise for
more jobs. But of course, there are --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are more jobs.

HARRIS-PERRY: There are, of course, millions more jobs now. And the
oceans joke again. I am a little baffled, I must say.

agenda against the jobs agenda. We recognize some of the most important
jobs we can create are new environmentally sensitive jobs, jobs to help us
control the environment. In the middle of a hurricane season, this level
of insensitivity speaks to the nature of the Republican base. I think this
no-nothing, anti-science culture is built up there.

So, what they think of as a legitimate thing to say, the rest of us
go what? He just said that? How bizarre.

BOB FRANKEN, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, let`s talk about his coach
analogy. We`re going to hear him referred to as coach Mitt. He said if
you`re zero in 23, then time --

GILES: Twenty-three million.

FRANKEN: Twenty-three million, it`s time to get a new coach. First
of all, the problem is, would you want to get a coach who has the same game
plan as the people who put us into that situation where we had 23 million
under or unemployed people? And what he is espousing, according to his
opponents in the Democratic Party, is a return to the failed policies, the
failed game plan of the previous Republican administration.

That is what is so audacious about the campaign that the Republicans
are running. They are talking about going right back to the problems that
brought us down to our knees anyway. And that was just another piece of
his image.

HARRIS-PERRY: But it simply is true that under President Obama, we
have added jobs every single quarter. Now, we could certainly debate,
there is certainly room to suggest that it`s insufficiently robust, that
there`s more that could have happened.

But the idea -- you know, sort of that phrase that occurs, he didn`t
actually lie. He said he lost 23 million jobs. But when he puts it on the
zero in 23 million, it sounds like 23 million jobs were lost under
President Obama. And that`s false.

We have added every single -- in every single monthly report, there
are more jobs.

MEHTA: There`s one very important thing we`ve added, which is more
people to the rolls of long-term unemployment. We used to have 2.3 million
people who were out of work for a six-month period of time or more. And
now, today, that number is 5.8 million people.

We`re spending a lot of money. We`re not spending it well. I think
that`s the problem like conservatives like me have.

HARRIS-PERRY: We`re actually not spending a lot of money. I mean, I
think that`s what the angst of many progressives.

MEHTA: We`re spending a lot more than we have, and that`s why we
have a deficit that continues to grow year after year after year.

HARRIS-PERRY: It`s more than what we have is because of the bush tax
cuts. It`s actually not a lot of money.

MEHTA: Bush tax cuts are a drop in the bucket, $700 billion. That`s
what you get.

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, you`re right, compared to the war in Iraq,
you`re right. Compared to the war in Iraq, they are a drop in the bucket.
But that is where that deficit emerged. It was off-the-books war spending,
the Bush tax cuts.

MEHTA: It`s bad spending. I mean, I even sat down and did the math.
We spent $830 billion on the first bailout. If we had given that money to
the 15 million people who needed jobs --

HARRIS-PERRY: The bailout occurred --

MEHTA: -- a $15,000 check for of single person.


HARRIS-PERRY: Unfortunately we`ve got to go, but I`ve got to tell
you, the bailout occurred under George W. Bush. There was a stimulus
package that occurred under President Obama.

Up next, Mitt Romney`s potential distortions on race. I`m not going
to let that one go. We`re coming back on that.


HARRIS-PERRY: Did you hear that? Still no?

Well, that`s because it`s a dog whistle. So unless you`re a dog, you
can`t hear it.

In the past few weeks, we`ve heard a lot about racial dog whistles.
I actually think it`s a pretty bad analogy. The Romney camp`s intentional
distortion of President Obama`s position on welfare isn`t a dog whistle, it
is an invisible and inaudible, it`s more like racial bait -- clearly
visible, very smelly, and obviously there for one reason, to reel in voters
with lingering racial bias.

And it`s nothing new. We have seen it all before. Seriously, we
have been seeing and smelling this kind of race baiting for more than 20

In the vault this week, we found a report from NBC`s Lisa Myers in
1991 chronicling the race-baiting techniques that have plagued presidential
politics for decades.


writing that the only reason Governor Wallace has any support is just
because he says what people want to hear.

LISA MYERS, NBC NEWS (voice-over): In 1968, George Wallace showed
how powerful the mixture of race and working-class resentment could be.
Since then, every Republican presidential candidate has run on some issue
that raised racial overtones. Richard Nixon preached law and order in the
wake of the Watts riots.

RICHARD NIXON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: If we could only have enough
law enforcement, we`ll have no problem in the cities. That just keeps the
lid on it.

MYERS: Ronald Reagan told the story of the welfare queen.

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: In Chicago, a couple of years
back, a young woman was getting checks under 127 different names.

MYERS: George Bush was accused of playing racial politics when he
made a figure of this Massachusetts convict.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: A man named Willie Horton
who was furloughed and goes out and rapes and tortures and -- before he was
captured again.


HARRIS-PERRY: And now, history will add the Romney campaign to that
list. This may be practical political strategy -- fear of the dangerous
black man, resentment for the mythical welfare queen -- it has worked
before. But it will not work much longer, because it`s not a dog whistle.
We can hear you. And we`re calling you on it.


HARRIS-PERRY: Come with me to Nerdland for a little book discussion.
The author: Princeton Professor Martin Gilens. The title: "Why Americans
Hate Welfare." The data: more than a decade of public opinion surveys
conducted by nonpartisan academic researchers.

The results: Americans supports spending for the social good,
including Social Security, education and assistance for the poor. At the
same time, they oppose often vehemently, the same kind of spending when
it`s called welfare.

The puzzle -- why do Americans support helping the poor but oppose
welfare, which is the primary vehicle of spending to help the poor? The
answer: according to Gilens, is that it`s not due to individualism. It`s
not due to economic self-interest.

Nope. It turns out that Americans hate welfare because media, at the
behest of conservative politicians, have relentlessly linked welfare with
black people, and have hammered home the idea that welfare recipients are

And here`s the kicker: Gilens did this analysis on data collected 20
years ago.

So when Gingrich, Ryan and Romney stoked the fires of racial
resentment with their welfare misinformation campaign, it is nothing new.

Joining me again are: syndicated columnist Bob Franken, comedian and
CBS "Sunday Morning" contributor Nancy Giles, Wake Forest professor David
Coates, and business finance expert Monica Mehta.

It`s lovely again to have you guys here. I`ve got to tell you, when
I hear them do the lies about welfare -- and this is not true about welfare
-- it just looks to me like the 20 years of race baiting that`s been going
on around it.

COATES: The audience in the convention, I was intrigued when people
got excited when clapped and when they didn`t. When Jeb Bush got up and
talked about funding education for minorities, it was relatively quiet.
When you got up there and had that young teacher saying we need more money,
very quiet.

As soon as he mentioned and bashing teacher unions, and also when he
said let`s have choice, the place erupted because choice means getting
away, leaving the poor behind. And I think that`s the philosophical debate
we need to have about how you solve probably by raising everybody or by
escaping from people. And I think this party wants to escape it.

FRANKEN: You make such a good point. I think this is really under
an umbrella of efforts to discredit a constituency that probably isn`t
going to vote for the Republican Party. To me, the most contemptible is
what they`re trying to do to voter rights. In states like Texas and all
this kind of stuff, they are getting to the heart. They are talking about
disenfranchising Americans who would not have the one man or in today one
person, one vote availability. That goes to the heart of democracy.

So you have a Republican Party, or at least many representatives of
it, who are not just anti-Democrat, they are anti-democracy. There is no
other way to put it.

GILES: And to jump to your point, I think what`s so weird is that
the only kind of voter mischief, if you want to call it, that had occurred,
because there`s statistically not a reason to be going after voter fraud in
my opinion was the 2000 election, when all those votes were purged from
Florida, and all those people -- and the votes that weren`t counted. And
that ended up in a happy result for a Republican president.

And voting is just such a basic human right to have that taken away
is horrifying.

MEHTA: Coming back to the issue of welfare, I think the problem I
have with a lot of things that are being said here is that it`s suggesting
that the people who want to see a level of reform hate people that need
welfare or require assistance. And I think to a certain extent, every
civilized society should help the people that need the help. I think the
question is just how much and for how long.


HARRIS-PERRY: Wait, wait. I want to be completely clear about this
because I do think that as an African-American in this position, I pretty
frequently get called a race-baiter and told that I am saying that other
people hate someone. I am in no way saying anything about what people feel
in their hearts about some individual. What I`m suggesting is that on a
matter of policy, if we say assistance for the poor, that Americans have
generally been big-hearted people who would like to help poor people.

But when we say welfare, after 20 years of linking the word "welfare"
with a group of people who we consider not only black but also black and
undeserving, and the kinds of narratives that have been created with that,
there was reform in the system -- reform that was so powerfully problematic
that we didn`t get enough money to poor people during this. And they are
not telling the truth about President Obama. They`re not.


COATES: Ronald Reagan said that we fought the war on poverty and
poverty won. We didn`t. When we fought the war on poverty, poverty went
down. They started war on power. That was a crucial shift.


MEHTA: There are people out there who are taking welfare and, you
know, they need it. And then there`s other people out there who are taking
welfare and could easily turn it away. There`s all sorts of people in the
world, and I think the problem is that we have limited resources. And
we`re trying to figure out how to make the best of those. That`s the
actual debate.


GILES: It`s a weird assumption that people that take public
assistance really want it. You know, they`re lazy. Most people --

MEHTA: I`m not suggesting they want it. But it can`t be limitless.

HARRIS-PERRY: Limitless? The limits currently -- let me be really
clear, were established under Bill Clinton under a Democratic president --

GILES: That`s right.

HARRIS-PERRY: -- are appalling.


MEHTA: -- every time we make an entitlement, we come up with reasons
why we can`t get rid of that.


HARRIS-PERRY: I`m sorry, I`m sorry.

FRANKEN: Speaking to Monica`s point early that you have to have
reform of welfare, you need to have it tightened up, guess who was the last
person to do that? Barack Obama. When the very programs that Republicans
are now attacking were really an effort to go to the governors and say, you
need to, in fact, increase things by 20 percent, that was the reform
tightening up of the kind that you`re talking about here.

GILES: They`re twisting.

FRANKEN: Now they`re twisting it, we get back to the ministry of

COATES: It can be fed to the entitlement culture. There is an
entitlement culture in this society, and it`s at the top. People get very
angry if they don`t get tax breaks, but they get angry people at the bottom
who get a little bit of help. It`s this double standard.

You give money to people who have already got more money than they
know what to do with, and that would generate good things. People get so
angry about that.

GILES: And this is when I get so confused. How is it people aren`t
more angry about that and want to pile on the people that are the most


MEHTA: Five percent of taxpayers pay 40 percent of taxes. That`s so
unfair? That`s what we`re getting upset about?

HARRIS-PERRY: I want to listen to a moment about Mitt Romney who did
make this interesting point about what people deserve because I want to
play this. Let`s listen to Mitt Romney at the convention.


ROMNEY: Now is the moment when we can stand up and say, I`m an
American. I make my destiny. We deserve better. My children deserve
better. My family deserves better. My country deserves better!


HARRIS-PERRY: So he goes right to your point of deservedness. And
just before that, he had done this whole rift on people who work multiple
jobs and college kids.

COATES: There`s this reversal. What he does, he says that if we
start to talk about progressive taxation, we are setting Americans against
Americans. What sets Americans against Americans is massive income
inequality. We are actually pulling them together.

He`s pulling this classic thing, (INAUDIBLE) be turned into the cause
of their own suffering. The people who do cause their suffering be let off
scot-free. It`s quite clear that there are people at the convention
understood the importance of class, they kept demonstrating how they left
it behind. It was like that Monty Python sketch saying I lived in a hole
in the ground kind of thing.

So, they understand the sense of class and deprivation stop people
from doing things. If we point out and suggest maybe this is social
engineering, market-based engineering, we are accused of reviving America -


HARRIS-PERRY: It feels to me what was caught, it does feel to me as
part of the American story is class mobility. If there is no class
mobility, we are not America, right? I mean, so I feel like both
conservatives and progressives --


HARRIS-PERRY: And I was going to say, and the data now shows that in
our current moment, class mobility is very low. And this notion of saying
I deserve it, what do I deserve? I just feel like from the bottom, you
have to be able to serve I deserve the ability for class mobility.

GILES: Which is funded by public education, by health care --

MEHTA: It`s enabled by taking risks, and that was the big thing
missing --

HARRIS-PERRY: What is riskier than living poor in America?
Seriously! What in the world is riskier than being a poor person in

I live in a neighborhood where people are shot on my street corner.
I live in a neighborhood where people have to figure out how to get their
kid into school because maybe it will be a good school and maybe it won`t.

I am sick of the idea that being wealthy is risky. No. There is a
huge safety net that whenever you fail will catch you and catch you and
catch you. Being poor is what is risky. We have to create a safety net
for poor people. And when we won`t, because they happen to look different
from us, it is the pervasive ugliness.

COATES: It is.

HARRIS-PERRY: You can not do that.

COATES: There`s the other side that small businesses do take risks,
of course, and --

MEHTA: That`s actually what makes entrepreneurs different from other
smart hardworking people. And my point was that was what`s missing from
the speech.

FRANKEN: Entrepreneurs who built things all by themselves?


MEHTA: That all of us have access to, that the teachers have access
to, but some of us go to dairy queen and some of us start businesses.

GILES: I`m sorry, but you know, the whole notion of job creators,
consumers are job creators. We`re the ones who help make business and who
help make industry. And it`s very hurtful.

I so agree with what you just said. There was a picture on the front
page of "The New York Times" this Tuesday that really irked me. It was a
black man that was in a shelter in New Orleans. And it showed empty beds
around him, and he was laying back with his feet crossed.

And there was something about that picture to me that just looked
like, this is an example of some lazy person sponging off the largess of
people. There are pervasive things out there. There just are.

FRANKEN: Your premise, correct me if you disagree. Your premise is
that the person must be able to have all the wealth he can accumulate, all
the wealth he can accumulate as a reward for taking risks. And I guess my
question is how many vacation homes do you need? How many private jets do
you need?

I suspect that if people were to give a little bit back to the
government, that would enable them, that they would, in fact, still want to
take those risks.

MEHTA: I don`t think that`s the thought process of the small
business owner that makes $250,000 a year. We`ve lost 220,000 small
businesses in the last 10 years. We`re mixing apples and oranges. We`re
talking about people that are super wealthy and putting the policies that
should affect them on real people who are trying.

HARRIS-PERRY: You`re right, small business is different than Bain
Capital, but I`ll also say 10 years President Obama has been president less
than four.

In just a moment, I`m going to take a breath, but first, it`s time

ALEX WITT, MSNBC ANCHOR: Here`s what`s really good about that --
anybody just waking up on the West Coast, man, you are up. That`s all I
have to say.

But it was a great discussion. I love your passion.

Let`s get to all this, everyone. It is a swing state extravaganza
today, the president and Mitt Romney hitting battlegrounds. We`re going to
take you to Middle America live and tell you about some new polls. Did
Mitt Romney get a bounce?

The road back from scandal begins in a very important way within the
next hour for Penn State University.

There is a warning off the coast of Massachusetts. Why are officials
concerned with sharks?

And it is a rare event, the likes of which we will not see for a
number of years again that brought some unique light to the whole world.
It was beautiful. I saw it.

Melissa, back to you. We`ll show it.

HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you, Alex.


HARRIS-PERRY: Up next, what two men did this week to save more than
a hundred lives. It`s our foot soldiers.


HARRIS-PERRY: It`s been a hard week for those of us who live on the
Gulf Coast. And apologize for losing my temper earlier. Maybe that`s part
of that hard week because, you see, exactly seven years after the
devastation unleashed by the catastrophic levee break of Katrina, hurricane
Isaac had us asking, is this all happening again?

But this week`s foot soldiers are two men who faced that fear head-
on. Our foot soldiers this week are Jesse Shaffer and his son who shares
the same name.

The Shaffer patrolled Plaquemines Parish in fishing boats. They
saved nearly 120 neighbors. On Wednesday, Jesse Jr. was asked by our own
Tamron Hall why he was out there rescuing people. And this is what he had
to say.


JESSE SHAFFER, HELPED WITH RESCUES: I used to live on the northern
side of the wall, the floodgates between the Terrebonne Parish and
Plaquemines Parish. So I was watching the waters all day yesterday. So,
finally, we got the surge at 1:00, 1:30 last night. So I sat at the gate
on the other side until it was time to go in and start rescuing. We hooked
up to the boat and started immediately.


HARRIS-PERRY: Did you catch that? You see, Tamron asked him why he
did it. His response is, basically, because I live there.

Our usual foot soldiers are seemingly ordinary people who tackle
enduring structural problems. Today`s foot soldiers are no different. It
might seem today they were just responding to the emergency situation
caused by Isaac, but look again, the Shaffers are soldiers against one of
our greatest structural problems, our disconnection from one another.

We`re in the season of party conventions when labels take center
stage. But when the Shaffers show up, they don`t ask if you`re a
Republican or a Democrat. They don`t ask you what your religious
affiliation is. They don`t ask you whether you support single payer health
care or the right to bear arms.

They just ask, do you need help? And if you do, they take you out of
the water. Disasters will come to everyone. Levees will break for

Sometimes it`s hurricanes and water. Sometimes it`s illness or
divorce or war or rape. And when the disasters come and when the levees
break, our labels do not matter. What matters is our community. We need
each other.

We need our block and our city and our state and, yes, our national
will community as represented in our government. The Shaffers remind us
that we are at our best when we do what we can to help those who need us.

When you live in a community, if your neighbor`s house is on fire,
you rush over with water. When your neighbor`s house is under water, you
bring a boat. For acting and for rescuing and for understanding that we`re
all in this together, Jesse Shaffer and his son and all the others like
them are our foot soldiers this week.

And that is our show for today. Thank you to Bob Franken, and Nancy
Giles and David Coates and Monica Mehta. And thanks to those of you at
home for watching. I`m going to see you tomorrow morning, 10:00 a.m.
Eastern, with the essential guide to next week`s Democratic National



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