PoliticsNation, Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

September 5, 2012

Guests: Michelle Cottle; Bev Perdue, Joe Madison, Krystal Ball, Ana Marie Cox, Dana Milbank

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

Tonight`s lead, Democrats ready for the fight. Day two of the
democratic national convention is underway in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The crowd is fired up and the speakers are ready to go.

This afternoon, President Obama arrived in Charlotte right in time for
a star studded night. The marquee speaker tonight, former president Bill
Clinton. The crowd will also hear from Elizabeth Warren running for the
Senate in Massachusetts. The speakers have been passionate at this
convention. Throwing punch after punch at Republicans and aggressively
affirming the strength of the president`s record. And it`s been great to
see. They talked about the auto bailout.


MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL (D), CHICAGO: The American auto industry is not
just surviving. It`s thriving. Where Mitt Romney was willing to turn his
back on Akron, Dayton, and Toledo, Ohio, the president said I`ve got your


SHARPTON: The president`s record on women`s issues.


mother is no longer a liability. And being a woman is no longer a pre-
existing condition. Now, that`s what change looks like.


SHARPTON: And we`ve heard the most sustained defense of the Obama
health care law and what it means to this country.


GOV. DEVAL PATRICK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: This is the president who
delivered the security of affordable health care to every single American
in every corner of this country after 90 years of trying.


SHARPTON: Last night, the first lady electrified the crowd reminding
voters that President Obama is on their side.


means to want something more for your kids and grand kids. Barack knows
the American dream because he`s lived it.

That`s the man I see in those quiet moments late at night. Hunched
over his desk, pouring over the letters people have sent him. I see the
concern in his eyes and I hear the determination in his voice as he tells
me you won`t believe what these folks are going through, Michelle, it`s not
right. We`ve got to keep working to fix this. We`ve got so much more to



SHARPTON: By just one measure, social media, that speech struck a
chord. Twenty eight thousands mentions on twitter every minute. By
contrast, Mitt Romney`s speech last week got about half as many mentions
during his speech, 14,000.

And that brings us to tonight. To and the president Bill Clinton.
Tonight he`ll make me case for why President Obama`s policies are working
and why Mitt Romney`s won`t.


his plan, is to go back to the Bush program, except on steroids. I happen
to think this auto industry package is the most important thing that was
initiated by President Obama in the administration. Every time I hear Mr.
Romney talk about this, I think his daddy must be turning over in his


SHARPTON: This convention is proving that Democrats are fired up and
ready to go and eager to go forward, not backwards.

Joining me now is Michelle Cottle, Washington correspondent for "News
Week, Daily Beast" and Steve Kornacki, co-host of "the Cycle" here on

Thanks for joining me tonight.


Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Michelle, what does President Clinton need to do tonight on
night two in his speech?

COTTLE: Well, Bill Clinton has become the rock star of the party once
more. He has kind a rehabilitated whatever with issues he had. He has got
to get out there and tell people that Barack Obama can take us back to the
time when like during the Clinton years we were all richer and happier and
safer. I mean, he`s got to make the claim against what the Republicans are
saying which is that Barack Obama is nothing like Clinton. Clinton is the
obvious person to combat that message.

SHARPTON: Now, Steve, we sometimes go by slang names with former
President Clinton. You know, Bubba, Elvis, but we forget the substantive
differences between Clinton and Bush. And I think that that is what is
going to be at the heart of tonight. Where with Clinton and Bush on taxes
and jobs. The President Clinton, the tax rate on the rich was 39.6,
private sector jobs he created 20 million. Under President Bush the tax
rate on the rich was 35 percent, private sector job loss was 663,000. So,
compares all the rock star stuff, there`s a substantive debate that former
President Clinton can present unlike anyone else.

KORNACKI: Yes. I think for two reasons Clinton really is the ideal
sort of advocate for Barack Obama right now. And one is as Michelle was
just saying look at his popularity right now. You know, part of that is a
product of how the Republicans have treated Bill and Hillary Clinton for
the past few years. Where, you know, they treated them for villains for 15
years. They basically lay down. And starting in 2008, they are saying,
no, Clinton was the good democrat. He was the good Democratic president
and Obama is the bad one.

Well, Bill Clinton gets up there and says, you know what, actually,
the policies that Barack Obama wants to implement right now on tax rates id
that 39.6 percent tax rate, that where Obama wants to go to. That what
Clinton enacted in 1993. Clinton can tell the story of hey, I did that.

Every single Republican in the house, every Republican in the Senate
in 1993 said exactly what every single Republican today is saying. And
look what happened in the 1990s. Look how the deficits came down. And
certainly, didn`t harm the economy to have those higher tax rates. And
that`s all that Barack Obama wants to go back to now.

And the other reason is simply there`s a contrast here, as you said,
between what happened under Bill Clinton and what happened under George W.
Bush. It`s a little hard for Barack Obama to be explicit about saying
that. Because when he starts invoking Bush, it`s easy for the Republicans
to say he`s blaming the other guy. He is blaming the predecessor. Those
respects just don`t apply to Bill Clinton. I think he can make that case
very explicitly.

SHARPTON: Michelle, he can talk about the tax rate and his creating
20 million jobs and the tax rate with Bush being much lower, losing
663,000. Doesn`t that speak to a core group white male voters that
President Obama is being outflanked by in a large measure by Mr. Romney
probably the area that he`s having the most difficulty with. Doesn`t Bill
Clinton and the jobs program on those jobs numbers, directly address that

COTTLE: Look. Bill Clinton had his own breed of Clinton Democrat.
And that is what Republicans talk about Obama having trouble with. So what
you want to do, nobody feels your pain to this day better than Bill
Clinton. You send him out there, you have him talk to those people from
the heart and you say we`re going to get back to that place where you had
security and you felt good about your future.

So yes, I think he is the perfect person to go back and get what we
like to call the Clinton Democrats.

SHARPTON: Steve, when you look at those that are arguing about the
deficit and budgets, when President Clinton left office he left with a $236
billion surplus. When Bush left office we had a $1.2 trillion deficit.

How a spokesman does the Republicans who are identified with Bush, a
spokesman for Romney said that he would be Bush-like, just more of it. How
do you argue against the man that walked out at the White House and handed
the keys to Bush and had the $236 billion surplus when he did it.

KORNACKI: You know, I mean honestly, they have never grappled with
this. They have never as a party grappled with what they said in the early
1990s when Bill Clinton proposed the rates for basically the top 1.5
percent of income earners and what ended up happening through the rest of
the decade. He enacted those. And can go back and you can look and every
single top Republican, Bob Dole, Newt Gingrich, John Casey. It is now the
time that said this is going to plunge us into a second recession. This is
going to do anything to bring the deficit down. This is going to kill
millions of jobs. And none of that happened. And they have never -- I`ve
never seen a Republican grapple with that. And the result is they are,
they truly are when it comes to taxes saying the same thing now that they
said in 1993 and they`re basically -- basically saying nice things about
Bill Clinton now and I guess hope people have forgotten.

SHARPTON: Michelle, last night was electric with the first lady and
you had on women speakers, African-Americans, Latinos, Mayor Castro doing a
great job as a keynoter. What do they have to do tonight?

I noticed that in the Republican national convention, they really had
a problem mentioning Mitt Romney`s name. And you didn`t see that at all
last night. They absolutely kept bringing and shouting out President Obama
and the DNC. Speakers mentioned the RNC over four nights Romney`s name 213
times. In one night, they mentioned President Obama`s name 250 times.
They`ve already done in one night what they didn`t do for the whole
convention of the Republican Party about their nominee. What do they have
to do tonight, Michelle?

COTTLE: Look, tonight they just have to keep drawing that
distinction. They need to drive home that message that this is about a
choice. And Clinton needs to make clear what he thinks is the right choice
and that what he thinks is the choice to take us forward. I mean, all of
the speakers that this. Every challenger wants to be a referendum on the
incumbent. What the Democrats are laboring to do is point out that no, no,
this is not an either Barack Obama or none of the above. There is a very
clear choice with different ideas about where we need to go.

SHARPTON: Now, the president will speak tomorrow night, Steve, and
after first lady`s electrifying speech and tonight with Bill Clinton, he`s
got his job cut out for him. But we were told he`s going to be specific on
the jobs plan Thursday. Does he have to give a bun burner or does he need
to give a mixture with specifics?

KORNACKI: Yes. No, I think if there`s one criticism here at least
coming out last night that Republicans tried to latch on to is, you know,
they kind acknowledged there was a lot of emotional power to the speeches
last night but are saying well, they weren`t specific mentions of jobs.
There were no prescriptions on jobs. And I think in the end that`s what
Romney is trying to sell. And what Romney campaign is trying to sell the
voters. You know, you may be impressed with the delivery and maybe
impressed with the style. But take a look at the economy and what are they
telling you they`re going to do about it?

So yes, I think they have to have more specifics in there. But like I
said, something else that I think will come up whether it`s in Obama`s
speech, whether it in Biden speech, maybe in Clinton speech, is also you
know, the idea that Obama has put out there besides the stimulus. He put
out the American jobs act last year. And there was absolutely no action on
that, but it was certainly a plan. And you know, Clinton talks about, you
know, let`s stick with his plan. I think that`s part of it.

SHARPTON: Imagine that, Mr. Romney wants specifics when he`s been
specifically unspecific.

Michelle Cottle and Steve Kornacki, thank you for your time tonight.

KORNACKI: You`re welcome.

SHARPTON: And catch Steve on "the Cycle" week days at 3:00 p.m.
Eastern right here on MSNBC.

Last week Republicans didn`t really want to talk about Mitt Romney.
But so far Democrats have no such problem.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney talks a lot about all the things he`s
fixed. I can tell you Massachusetts was not one of them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Mitt was Santa Claus, he would fire the
reindeer and outsource the elves.


SHARPTON: And tonight there will be a fresh new focus on his record
at Bain Capital.

Plus, big news today for the Obama campaign taking a firm stance for
voting rights in a key battle ground state.

And we`ll talk to the woman who has single handedly stood up to
extremism in North Carolina. The host of this great convention, Governor
Bev Perdue.

You`re watching a special edition of "Politics Nation" here on MSNBC.


SHARPTON: Folks, have you checked us out on facebook? The "Politics
Nation" conversation is going strong all day long. Since late last night,
our fans have been loving this photo of President Obama and the first
daughters watching the first lady speak from the White House.

Rita says the picture is priceless.

Renee says look at that pride on his face. She was amazing.

Sharon says what a beautiful family supporting their mom and wife.

We want to hear what you think too. Head over to facebook and search
"Politics Nation" and like us to join the conversation that keeps going
long after the show ends?


SHARPTON: This convention has been all about showcasing what
Democrats stand for. It`s a party that fights for which rights. Fights
for voting rights. Fights for economic fairness. North Carolina`s
governor Bev Perdue knows a little something about standing up for these

As head of this key battle ground state, she`s fought relentless
extremism from her Republican state legislature. She vetoed a record 19
bills to protect the people in her state. She vetoed new abortion
restrictions. She vetoed two strict voter ID bills. She vetoed two
budgets that slashed education funding and defunded Planned Parenthood.
Standing up for Democratic beliefs and standing against right wing
extremism. That`s what this convention and this party`s all about.

Joining me now is North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue who spoke to the
ruckus crowd last night.

Governor, Thank you for being here.

GOV. BEV PERDUE (D), NORTH CAROLINA: I`m delighted. But I`m going to
fight with you now because your body`s not in North Carolina. We`re having
a great party and we want you here all three days.

SHARPTON: I`ll be there in the morning. Don`t worry about it.

PERDUE: Terrific.

SHARPTON: But, let me ask you. Is the enthusiasm you`re seeing at
the convention enough to win this election?

PERDUE: It`s absolutely remarkable. I`ve never seen it. I talked to
delegates all day this morning. And they say that they were enthused
before they came out but now they`ve got it in their blood again just like
they did it in `08. They will take this back, all over America could ever
committed in every city. We`re energized. We are enthusiastic and we are
going to win in November.

SHARPTON: Now, early voting governor, begins tomorrow in North

PERDUE: It does.

SHARPTON: Yesterday, the elections board in your state opted to give
voters in the number of counties more locations in hours to vote early.
Explain that to me.

PERDUE: Well, there were those in the general assembly who, the
Republican led general assembly, I might add, who tried to do away with
early voting or tried to compress it so we couldn`t get people out to vote.

In America I believe we ought to work on getting more people to vote
to figure out the ways to make voting easier not just on Tuesday. And so,
the general assembly when I was in control of the Democrats we did that.
And the Republicans have pushed hard to rescind some of those rules.

Some of the counties I believe were influenced by the discussion in
rally and they backed away from a comprehensive of really voting program.
A lot of people of all the state and every county rose up and demanded as
(INAUDIBLE) for the board of elections to stand up yesterday and to allow
us to go ahead and vote very often in every county to make it easier for
Americans to exercise their most constitutional right. So, we do start
going to the polls tomorrow. It`s mighty exciting.

SHARPTON: Now, it`s very important what you`ve done in terms of
fighting suppressive moves and suppression moves as I would call it and
restrictive moves. Because President Obama in 2008 only won by a meager
14,000 votes this state of North Carolina. Any kind of impediment could
really turn that around and Mitt Romney needs to win this state -- it`s a
must-win state for him. And he`s pouring money in. His campaign and super
PACs have spent over $34 million in the state of North Carolina compared to
$22 million from President Obama and his supporters. And it`s not about
spends the most and who win, it is about winning fairly when you have
margins that close to interfere with the right of anyone to vote is just
not playing fairly.

PERDUE: Well, Al, we believe we would have lost the ability to get a
million and a quarter of our voters out to vote had they suppressed us with
a voter ID. A lot of our folks in our state are older. A lot of those
folks no longer have an official ID. They`re in nursing homes or
facilities. We have a lot of military here in and out throughout the
state. We have a lot of folks in the state legally who don`t have a formal
ID. It`s the wrong thing to do in America. It sends the wrong, wrong

And North Carolina worked very aggressively this session to keep the
voter ID bill tabled. We were afraid until the last couple of days in the
session that we see the baby resurrected itself in another way. That is
the major win for Democrats in North Carolina this year. I think it is a
major win for the president. It`s a major win for the Walter Dalton, the
Democratic candidate for governor.

SHARPTON: You know, a key part of your speech last night, governor,
was on education. But when we look at what the Republicans are saying, the
Ryan plan would cut education programs by 18 percent, cut Pell grants and
head start. All the while they`re increasing defense spending and giving
huge tax breaks to the wealthy.

PERDUE: It`s the first time, Al, I`ve ever known of a state like mine
to increase tuition rates. But to decrease the tuition assistance to poor
people, I think that`s right out of the Washington playbook right out of
the Romney/Ryan playbook. We really have to understand that education is
the equalizer for all of us. And there seems to be an antagonism against
public employees, public teachers, public school in general by Romney and
Ryan. I`ve not heard one word -- the first time in my life in a
presidential campaign that in October almost we have yet to hear the first
word about education from that party. The president understands it, raised
to the top. It has been fabulously successful in America and North

SHARPTON: Governor Bev Perdue, thank you for your time this evening.

PERDUE: We invite you down again. Look forward to seeing you
tomorrow. Thanks. Good to talk to you. Bye-bye.

SHARPTON: Good to talk to you.

Still ahead, Democrats united for Obama and against Romney. We will
look at what led to Bill Clinton`s historic speech at the convention

But first, Mitt Romney`s got a major problem with minority voters.
But wait until you hear how he`s trying to fix it.

Stay with us as we ramp up MSNBC`s special primetime coverage of the
democratic national convention.


SHARPTON: It`s no secret that Mitt Romney`s got a major problem with
minority voters. A recent poll shows his support among African-Americans
at zero percent. That`s not a typo. That`s goose eggs. So what do you do
when you`ve hit rock bottom? Well, if you`re team Romney, you outreach for
the stars.

Today the Romney campaign announced its black outreach council.
Outreach. That`ll fix zero percent. On Mr. Romney`s Web site their
mission statement says they want to quote, "help facilitate dialogue
between Mitt Romney and respected leaders on issues impacting black
American communities."

Dialogue is great. I love dialogue. It helps break down barriers and
mend fences. So, let`s meet the team.

The co-chair is congressmen Allen West and Tim Scott. Two freshmen
who were swept in during the tea party wave of 2010. So, how would Allen
West facilitate dialogue?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re creating this sense of economic dependence
which is a modern century 21st slavery.


SHARPTON: Comparing to safety net to slavery, that`s quite a
dialogue. What else have you got Congressman West?


REP. ALLEN WEST (R), FLORIDA: I`m here as the modern day Harriett
Tubman to kind a lead people on the underground well road away from the


SHARPTON: Comparing the Democratic Party to a plantation, that`ll win
over black voters for sure. Then there`s Congressman Scott. The first
bill he sponsored was to get rid of the president`s health care law. He
also refused to join the black caucus. So, how will he reach out to the
African-American community?


REP. TIM SCOTT (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: Let me close by giving President
Obama heartfelt message from the good people of South Carolina. Hit the
road, jack. And don`t you come back no more, no more, no more.


SHARPTON: Hit the road, jack? Really? This outreach team seems
totally out of touch. Nice try, Governor Romney, but we got you.



SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D), WASHINGTON: With a republican Congress sitting
shotgun, Mitt Romney will put the middle class on the roof and take us for
a long painful ride.



Democrats continue to make their case for President Obama`s re-election.
That`s the goal of this convention. A solid affirmation of the President`s
record. But Democrats have a second goal too. And that`s to clearly
define who Mitt Romney really is. And they started doing it last night by
launching a full-throated assault on Romney`s record.


GOV. DEVAL PATRICK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Mitt Romney talks a lot about
all the things he`s fixed. I can tell you Massachusetts was not one of

Mitt Romney never saw the point of building something when he could
profit but tearing it down. If Mitt was Santa Claus, he would fire the
reindeer and outsource the elves.


SHARPTON: And they pulled no punches going after Romney for his
secretive overseas investments.


FMR. GOV. TED STRICKLAND (D), OHIO: Mitt has so little economic
patriotism that even his money needs a passport. It summers on the beaches
of the Cayman Islands and winters on the slopes of the Swiss Alps.

GOV. MARTIN O`MALLEY (D), MARYLAND: Swiss Bank accounts never built
an American bridge. Swiss Bank accounts never put cops on the streets or
teachers in our classrooms. Swiss Bank accounts never created American


SHARPTON: And Democrats made it very clear just what Romney`s
policies would mean to America.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The Romney/Ryan budget doesn`t just cut public
education, cut Medicare, cut transportation, and cut job training. It
doesn`t just pummel the middle class, it dismantles it.

O`MALLEY: Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan now say they want to take America
back. And we have to ask back to what? Back to the failed policies that
drove us into this deep recession?


SHARPTON: Last week, Republicans were reluctant to talk too much
about their nominee. Democrats are more than happy to pick up that slack.

Joining me now in Charlotte is Joe Madison, nationally syndicated
radio host of "Mornings with Madison." And Krystal Ball, co-host of "The
Cycle" here on MSNBC. Thank you both for being here tonight.

JOE MADISON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Thank you, Reverend Sharpton.


SHARPTON: Joe, do Democrats have an opportunity to define Mitt Romney
this week?

MADISON: I think they`ve already started yesterday. I think Michelle
Obama defined Mitt Romney`s -- and what the policies will mean. Look.
It`s one thing to say, I feel your pain. It`s another thing to say I`ve
had your pain. Yesterday they made it very clear, look what governor,
former Governor of Ohio Strickland said about the closing of the plants if
Mitt Romney had been elected. I`m from Dayton, Ohio.

I know what those auto plants meant. Even though they didn`t make
automobiles in Dayton, they supplied parts. They supplied radios. They
supplied electronics. It wasn`t just General Motors and Chrysler. Even
Ford that didn`t take money Reverend Sharpton said, we would have probably
had to go out of business because we would not have been able to hang in
with the suppliers. There wouldn`t have been suppliers.

I think they made it very clear. And yes, and the reason African-
Americans are not feeling Mitt Romney is because jobs are extremely
important to us. Right now in Detroit, another said, I`ve lived in 20
years, African-Americans are going back to work because Barack Obama saved
the automotive industry. Not the level they`d like for them to go to, but
they certainly are going in the right direction.

SHARPTON: Krystal, you know, two of tonight`s featured speakers are
former Bain Capital employees Randy Johnson and Cindy Hewitt. They`ve both
have appeared on this show "POLITICS NATION" this year to talk about
Romney`s record. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: To me it`s just simple. It`s profits before
people. I don`t think he`s in touch with the reality of what it means to
be on the shop floor. He`s never been a manager on a shop floor. He`s not
even a manager of plant by itself, he`s produced anything but profits for
the rich.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I really, really find his claims that he created
jobs to be offensive. Because the jobs he created were entry-level service
and retail positions. They were not jobs that gave people a living wage
where they could support their families, send their kids to school. The
jobs he eliminated in our plant absolutely worth.


SHARPON: Now, these are two of the speakers tonight. Do you expect a
very harsh attack tonight on Mr. Romney when you see former employees of
Bain among the speakers tonight?

BALL: Well, I certainly think that they`re going to continue to talk
about what is private equity. Mitt Romney was not a job creator. That was
not his job at Bain Capital as someone in private equity. His job was to
maximize profit for himself and their partners and shareholders. Not to
create jobs in any respect. And in many times, that meant loading the
company up with debt, firing the employees, sending the jobs overseas. So,
I think the American people will see more of that tonight.

And I would also say, you know, Mitt Romney has been unwilling to talk
about his time at Bain, his time as governor of Massachusetts. What he
plans to do in the future. Certainly doesn`t want to talk about his own
financial situation. So, when he leaves all of those pieces of the puzzle
completely blank, the Democrats are certainly going to fill those in for
the American people.

Even the Wall Street Journal after the Republican Convention last week
was critical of Mitt Romney for that very reason. Saying since you didn`t
lay out your policy agenda, the Democrats are going to be happy to talk
about it and they`re going to define it and frame it in the way that they
want to. Which is the truthful way about how detrimental it would really
be to the middle class.

SHARPTON: Now, Joe, the polling shows that these Bain attacks have
actually worked. Especially with voters in key swing states when they were
asked how Romney`s business record affects their opinion of him. Eighteen
percent of swing state voters say it gives them a more positive opinion of
Romney. But 33 percent say, they have a more negative opinion based on his
business record. These attacks hurt and they`re not going to be helpful
tonight with Bain employees speaking from that platform.

MADISON: Of course, they`re not going to be helpful. Look, if you`re
going to be president of the United States and you`re going to sit here and
invest your money overseas and not invest it in the United States, what
kind of leader are you? You take care of the people who elect you. You
take care of the people who have faith in you. There is nothing about Bain
that we really ought to be applauding.

Look, yes. You know, sports authority and a few jobs and it was just
said most of these jobs didn`t even -- the wages didn`t even keep up with
inflation in this country. But, you know, what? Elderly people also
understand too. Because when these countries went bankrupt, in order for
him to make money, in order for Bain to make money, a lot of people`s
pensions went down the drain and their health care went with it.

People understand takeover. People understand corporate sharks.
People understand something that was said in that movie Wall Street. For a
lack of a better word, greed is good, and Romney has been greedy. Who in
their right mind runs a campaign on Labor Day and invites the press to show
you getting on a yacht?

SHARPTON: And sailing. But let me go back to you quickly, Krystal.
Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader hit Romney on his tax return last
night. And he said, we don`t know who Mitt Romney is.

BALL: Right. And he`s been so unwilling to volunteer anything about
himself, his record, his secret plans for the country. And I would say at
a fundamental level, you know, we heard a lot about the American dream last
night. And the First Lady and President Obama are the personification of
the American dream, the people who worked hard and pulled themselves up,
with some help mind you who are willing to talk about that. Mitt Romney
and Ann Romney in a lot of ways personify what we are afraid of what we`ve
become which is the rich and powerful becoming more rich and more powerful.
I think that`s kind of the core of all these messages we`re seeing.

Joe Madison and Krystal Ball, thanks for your time tonight.

BALL: Thank you, Reverend.

MADISON: Thank you, Reverend Sharpton.

SHARPTON: And don`t forget to catch Krystal on "The Cycle" week days
at 3:00 p.m. Eastern right here on MSNBC.

Coming up, the Clinton factor. The two presidents unite for a common
purpose. Defeating Mitt Romney. And also Democrats are now trying to
force an Ohio republican to follow the law. That`s ahead.


SHARPTON: Later this evening, former President Bill Clinton will take
the stage and make his case for why President Obama deserves another term.
It`s no secret the two have had a complicated relationship over the years.
But during these past few months they`ve reunited for one reason. And
that`s to re-elect President Obama and defeat Mitt Romney.


important to re-elect the President. I think it is essential to re-elect
the President if we want this country to have the kind of future that our
children and grandchildren deserve.


SHARPTON: The Obama campaign is also airing this TV ad featuring the
former president.


CLINTON: This is a clear choice. The republican plan is to cut more
taxes on upper income people and go back to deregulation. That`s what got
us in trouble in the first place. President Obama has a plan to rebuild
America from the ground up.


SHARPTON: Republicans have enough problems dealing with one
democratic president. Now they`ll have two.

Joining me now live now from Charlotte is Ana Marie Cox, Washington
correspondent for "The Guardian." And Dana Milbank columnist for "The
Washington Post." Thank you both for being here.



SHARPTON: Dana let me start with you. What does Bill Clinton bring
to this convention and to this campaign?

MILBANK: Well, look, he was practically invited here by Mitt Romney
and by Paul Ryan who is saying, this guy is the greatest thing since sliced
bread. He was a moderate guy who kept taxes low, did great things to the
economy. Well, that`s a perfect setup for him to walk on in here. And
say, yes, if you want more of that, give us more of President Obama.
They`re not going to be able to drive a wedge between these two guys the
way they did the last time around. Circumstances are very different now.
He`s the best possible advocate that Obama could have at this point.

SHARPTON: Now, Ana Marie, when you look at his polling, he`s very
high in favorable ratings. Ninety three percent of Democrats, 68 percent
of independents, 63 percent of whites. He`s got higher favorable even 43
percent of Republicans have a favorable view. So, he brings a lot of
political capital to that stage tonight.

COX: Yes, he does. Although I think it`s important to remember that
Bill Clinton is a brilliant campaigner always for Bill Clinton. I mean,
this is I think a little bit more about his legacy than it is about Barack
Obama. I think that has explained what you have referred to as a
complicated relationship. Clinton can`t let Obama fail. I mean, if Obama
loses, Bill Clinton would probably see that as a stain on his own record.
And of course, it doesn`t set things up that well for Hillary. The best
thing that could happen to the Clintons is for Barack Obama to win and have
a successful term.

And I also think as far as his positive ratings, he`s favorability
ratings, I think it`s important and best use for Obama, the Democrats is to
remind people that Democrats can run a country and things will be good if
they do.

SHARPTON: Dana, Maureen Dowd in "The New York Times," let`s go --
since Ana Marie did, she wrote on Bill Clinton and his help on President
Obama. She writes, quote, he needs -- talking about President Obama -- "He
needs Clinton to rev up the disillusioned faithful and donors and lure
independents and white working class men. Obama needs his democratic
predecessor to reassure jittery voters that the future can look like the
past. With a lower deficit, plenty of jobs, and two parties actually

MILBANK: Uh-huh.

SHARPTON: Yet there`s been tension between the two, is Ana Marie
right? Is this about them needing each other? Bill Clinton needing to
establish his legacy and possibly setting his wife up and President Obama
needing him to get some of the jittery voters that Maureen Dowd referred to
in "The New York Times" this morning?

MILBANK: Well, of course from Bill Clinton`s perspective, it`s
always about Bill Clinton. I mean, I think that goes without saying. But
in this case, their priorities are perfectly aligned here. They both --
each one needs the other as much and a victory for Obama works in both of
their interests. So, that`s why this whole idea of -- trying to drive a
wedge between the two of them as the Republicans done, I think backfires,
it backfires on the welfare argument, it backfires on the taxes argument,
it backfires on the economy argument. So, I think they`ve basically just
heated up. Will Clinton outshine Obama? Of course. Of course, he`s a
super nova. And he`ll outshine him tonight. But the glow is going to
benefit Obama on Election Day.

SHARPTON: There`s all this talk Ana Marie about, they don`t get a
lot, they don`t like each other. But isn`t politics about self-interest
and about what you want to do in terms of making your mark in history?

COX: Well, yes. I mean, I think Dana put it very well. Politics is
about finding where your self-interests overlap. The Venn diagram. You
know, the Romney campaign is not too certain about how the Venn diagram
works. But in this case, it`s almost a perfect circle when it comes to
what Obama wants and what Bill Clinton wants. It`s a perfect opportunity
for both of them. And I actually think it`s not so much that they don`t
get along with each other, it`s that they have dramatically different
styles. And I think that explains a lot. I don`t think they spend a lot
of time thinking about whether or not they like each other.

SHARPTON: You know, well, let me let Mr. President Bill Clinton speak
for himself. He spoke with Brian Williams and talked about very candidly
the relationship between President Obama and him. President Obama and him,
listen to this.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: How would you describe your
relationship with President Obama?

CLINTON: I think it`s quite good, actually. It`s candid. It`s open.
We haven`t been close friends for a long time or anything like that, but he
knows I support him. And I feel more -- you know, I keep reading all this
stuff about the enthusiasm gap and all that. I get that. The real work is
hard. It`s harder to do than to talk. But I`m actually more enthusiastic
about him than I was four years ago when I said I thought he was ready to
be president.

Because I`ve seen him dig in the dirt and fight for change. I`ve seen
him make things happen. I`ve seen him criticized, demonized, knocked down.
I`ve seen him deal with the facts that he`s dealing with things for the
first time he never dealt with before. Learn and keep coming. So, I
respect him, I think he should be re-elected. And I`m very grateful also
just as a person for the way he and Hillary have interacted. He`s treated
her with enormous respect.


SHARPTON: So, he mentions Hillary, Dana. He says, they haven`t been
very close friends for long. Not exactly warm and fuzzy. You know, if I
had musical accompaniment, I`d sing for you, "What`s Love Got to do With
It" by Janet Jackson.

MILBANK: No, I think that`s right. And saying he likes him more now
than four years ago is not exactly a high bar. Now, they`re not golfing
buddies. They did go golfing and they didn`t injure each other with their
golf clubs. But they don`t have to like each other. Clinton has something
that compensates for Obama`s weaknesses. And that is he`s able to create a
coherent message. He may be able to make a better narrative for Obama`s
policies than Obama himself has been able to do.

SHARPTON: Ana Marie, do you think at the end of the day that Bill
Clinton tonight could give a huge push to President Obama that cannot be
countered by the Republicans because they tried in so many ways to inject
his name as quote, "the good democrat?"

COX: Yes. I think that`s a real problem for the Republicans that
they did invoke Clinton so much. And let`s face it, the Republican Party
does not have anyone like Clinton. There used to be a time when they would
say that was a good thing. But they can`t say that now. Now, that they
deserve -- in their own way. And his star power is basically unequalled
right now in terms of like former presidents definitely. And I would say,
he`s only match in the -- party is probably Barack Obama and maybe Michelle

SHARPTON: Ana Marie Cox and Dana Milbank, thanks for your time
tonight. And by the way, Dana, that was Tina Turner, not Janet Jackson.

What`s love got to do with it? Up next, the Obama campaign takes a
strong stand in support of voting rights in a key battle ground state.
You`re watching a special edition of POLITICS NATION here on MSNBC.


SHARPTON: One of the most remarkable aspects of the Republican
Party`s rightward shift is this. The Republican Party is now the party
that openly as a matter of public policy wants fewer people to vote. Think
about that for a moment. A major political party that wants less voting?
And we`re seeing it from Ohio to Florida to North Carolina where early
voting begins tomorrow. Those are all swing states that Mitt Romney must
win to beat President Obama.

Funny, isn`t it? Actually, not funny at all. Today in Ohio, the
Obama campaign had to go to court to try to force the Ohio Republicans to
comply with a judge`s ruling restoring early voting in that state. This
comes after Ohio`s republican Secretary of State John Husted said, he would
defy the judge`s ruling. Husted is prohibiting local officials from
setting up more early voting. Which the judge said they should do.

It`s amazing. But it`s just the latest move he`s taken to suppress
the vote. Last week, Husted fired two local Democrats who tried to expand
weekend voting in their county. Here`s what they told me about why they
were willing to lose their jobs in order to fight for voting rights.


children. You know, I can get another job, but I can`t get another
conscience. And the right thing to do here is to have early voting.

people participate in early vote here in Montgomery County. And all we
were attempting to do was give the voters the right to vote.


SHARPTON: Meantime in North Carolina, the board of elections voted
this week to expand early voting in seven different counties. The three
Democrats voted to expand hours and surprise, surprise. The two
Republicans voted to restrict them. In Florida and Georgia, they`ve
already cut down early voting hours. We have to work every day from here
on out to make sure that every citizen wants to vote gets the chance to
exercise that right.

This is no joke. No matter who wins and who loses in the election in
November, the people cannot lose the sacred right to vote in this country.

Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. MSNBC special coverage of the
Democratic National Convention starts now.


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