November 3, 2014
Guest: Clarence Page; Lee Saunders, Bill Richardson, E.J. Dionne, Krystal
Ball, Chuck Nice, Maria Teresa Kumar
ED SCHULTZ, MSNBC ANCHOR, THE ED SHOW: I`m reporting, of course, reporting
from the Charlie Crist headquarters down here in Florida. That`s my
assignment, looking forward to it. It is going to be a very close.
That`s "the Ed Show." I`m Ed Schultz. "Politics Nation" with Reverend Al
Sharpton starts right now.
Good evening, Rev.
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Ed. And thanks to you
for tuning in. I`m live tonight in Miami.
Tonight`s lead, one day to go. We`re just hours away from polls opening
all across the country. And in the last 24 hours, we`ve seen the biggest
names in the Democratic Party, hitting the campaign trail, stumping for
candidates in crucial Senate and governor`s races and pushing the point
that every voter could make a difference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Reach everybody, through the
phone, the doors, email, whatever it takes.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This whole thing`s
coming down to turn-out.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Take your people, your
friends, your neighbors, to the polls.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Things are still looking tough for Democrats. But new polls in
some key states show they could hold on to the Senate.
In North Carolina, a new poll shows Senator Kay Hagan up two points.
New Hampshire, senator Jeanne Shaheen is beating former senator Scott Brown
by a hair. A new poll has her with a one-point lead.
In Iowa, candidate Bruce Braley and Joni Ernst are neck and neck.
And in Colorado, a new poll has Republican Cory Gardner up by only two
percent. Still within the margin of error.
Most pollsters say Republicans have a good chance of taking the Senate, but
there`s still a clear path for Democrats to hang on. And one thing
everyone agrees on, it could all come down to turnout.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: This is straightforward. I got a simple message. We got to vote.
Four years ago, Democrats lost. Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Democrats have lots of reason to get their voters to the polls
starting with the Supreme Court. Should Republicans control who gets
confirmed? And the health care law, should the GOP get another shot at
repeal? Also, the minimum wage, fair pay, immigration reform. And the
last two years of the Obama presidency. The stakes are too high to stay at
Joining me now are MSNBC host Steve Kornacki, MSNBC political correspondent
Kasie Hunt, and Clarence Page of the "Chicago Tribune." Thank you all for
KASIE HUNT, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Nice to see you, Rev.
CLARENCE PAGE, COLUMNIST, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Thank you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Steve, you`re up at the campaign boards for us. How can
Democrats survive tomorrow night?
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST, UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI: Sure, yes. Well,
let`s take a look at the big board as you say. And yes, the Republicans
are sort of considered the favorites heading into tomorrow night. But
there are definitely multiple path ways for the Democrats, a, to retain
control of the Senate, and b, just to survive tomorrow night and live to
fight another day.
Let me show you what I mean by that. So we have two different columns who
we can assign the battleground states into two. Remember Republicans,
their magic number is 51. That`s what they need for Senate control.
Democrats only I think need to have up to 50, because Joe Biden as the vice
president would break the tie.
So let`s take a look at the battleground state. Republicans are looking
very good in Kentucky for Mitch McConnell to retain that. Let`s move that
over to the Republican category. Mark Pryor, the Democratic incumbent is
in grave danger in Arkansas. We`ll move that one over. And that push the
Republicans at 47.
Now you get to sort what the fire wall is for Democrats. They look at two
states here. They look at North Carolina. This is an absolute must-win.
If they get Kay Hagan across the finish line. She`s been leading by a
small margin. If she gets across the finish line, put that in the
democratic category, same for Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire. Puts them
up at 45. And remember, they already have two independents who caucus with
them, so add two to that 45. They`re at 47. Keep that in mind as we look
to the remaining states in here.
You look at Kansas. Now, there`s no Democrat in the race, but Greg Orman,
the independent slight lead over Pat Roberts in the poll. He could go with
either party if he wins. We will see. He could surprise everybody. But
Republicans fear and Democrats hope that he`ll be going with them. For
right now, let`s say Greg Orman were to do that, were to win tomorrow and
caucus with the Democrats. That would leave you with a battleground of
five states. Democrats are two away, remember adding those two
independent, Republicans three away. So the Democrats would then just need
two of these five states.
The bad news for them, in polls in all five of these states, they`re
running behind. The good news, none of them are out of reach right now.
The important thing to keep in mind with these five states is the Georgia
and Louisiana. These two states are runoff states. A runoff almost
guaranteed in Louisiana. And a runoff is very possible in Georgia.
So you look at these three states here, Colorado, Iowa, Alaska. You have
Democratic incumbents in Alaska and Colorado struggling to hang on. Iowa,
this Tom Harkin seat. Democrats running a little but behind but think they
can win it all to win that race.
But here`s the thing, if everything goes wrong for Democrats tomorrow
night, if they lose Colorado, if they lose Iowa and if they then lose
Alaska tomorrow night, take a look at this. That still leaves the
Republicans at 50, if these two states go to runoffs. So this is the bare
minimum. The Democrats need to do to survive tomorrow night and live to
fight another day. They need to win New Hampshire, win North Carolina,
have Greg Orman win in Kansas and then have these two states, Georgia and
Louisiana, go to runoffs. If that happens and the Democrats then could win
the runoffs, that`s two more, plus 46 is 48, and plus those two other
independents, is 50. That`s the bare minimum they need to get out of
SHARPTON: Now, let`s go back to Louisiana in a minute, Steve. What is
Mary Landrieu`s path to victory there?
KORNACKI: Right. So let`s take a look. What we have called up here, this
is the "Real Clear Politics" polling average right now in Louisiana. It
looks funny because you don`t see this in many states. Louisiana is a
jungle primary state. Every candidate from every party runs in the same
ballot. If nobody gets 50 percent, they go to the runoff. So this is why
we are saying, a runoff is so basically certain in Louisiana. Nobody
getting close to 50 here. The reason why people think the Republicans
might be a little favored in that runoff, where we can show you, when you
poll them head-to-head, when you poll Cassidy and Landrieu in a runoff,
Cassidy. Republican, who is most likely to face her running ahead.
Now, the things that Democrats will remind you about Louisiana, those Mary
Landrieu has been in this situation before. She won a runoff to get the
seat in 1996 and she defied all the experts in 2002. Remember 2002 was a
very good year for Republicans nationally. Mary Landrieu was forced into a
runoff that year and she survived it. And she survived it in particular
because of New Orleans, because of Orleans parish where there was a huge
turn-out, bigger than anybody expected of the African-American voters in
that runoff. The last time Mary Landrieu needed a runoff, republicans was
supposed to win. She got a huge turnout out of New Orleans. She upset the
expectations and she survived.
SHARPTON: Now, what -- Steve, what is my path to victory for Michelle Nunn
in Georgia then?
KORNACKI: Right. So Georgia, the other state with a possible runoff and
we can take a look at that as well. Again, right now, this is the average.
Michelle Nunn, David Perdue, the Republican. The key here in Georgia is
there`s also a libertarian running in the race who is getting about three,
four percent in the polls.
The libertarian does well enough, she will keep either of these two major
party candidates from getting 50 and then there would be a separate
election which wouldn`t be held for some technical reasons. It wouldn`t
actually be held until next January between Perdue and Nunn, just the two
of them on the ballot.
And again, the key here for Nunn and for the Democrats, be right around the
Atlanta area, the Atlanta metro area, the sort of the demographic space of
Georgia has been changing dramatically in the last 15 years or so. It is
getting a lot more diverse, growing African-American and Latino population
in and around Atlanta.
So the key in any runoff -- well, first of all, the key to get to a runoff
for Michelle Nunn is get as high as you can turnout in that area, as high
as she can with African-American voters in particular. And then to win the
runoff, it would be the same thing. So that is sort of the heart of the
Democratic Georgia right there. A lot of population growth right there.
The question is, can you get those voters out?
SHARPTON: Let me go to you, Kasie. You`ve seen a lot of elections.
What`s going to be the story tomorrow night as you see it, based on these
night-before predictions and polls?
HUNT: I think at this point, Reverend, it`s really a question of whether
or not Republicans have succeed in nationalizing this election. That`s
been their goal from day one. They`ve always said that they want to make
this about President Obama. And it looks like in the final weeks, they`re
having some success.
I mean, you know, many of the Democrats I`m talking to are saying that
particularly in this last two weeks, the environment has really changed,
and the president has come more to the forefront and become more of an
issue for them.
Now, that`s not to say they`re expecting necessarily a GOP wave. As Steve
was just sort of outlining, so many of these races are so, so close. And
it`s entirely possible we could spend the night going from one surprise to
another, you know.
That said, we`re going to get some early indications in New Hampshire.
Their polls close relatively early. I think if you watch that, if senator
Jeanne Shaheen keeps that edge over Scott Brown, that we`ve seen in most
polls for her, then Democrats are probably in for a night that`s going to
be OK. If she loses badly to Scott Brown, or if she`s trailing him when
the polls close, I think Democrats are in for a pretty rough evening.
SHARPTON: Kasie, I want to go to Clarence, but I want to push a little on
what you said. Because one thing we`ve seen a lot of in the cycle is
Democrats trying to distance themselves from the president. Which you said
the president has become more of a factor.
Now, when you interviewed Alison Lundergan Grimes and Mark Pryor, they both
did that. I want to play you part of those interviews.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: I want to ask you about President Barack Obama, would you want him
to come down and campaign for you?
ALISON LUNDERGAN GRIMES (D-KY), SENATE CANDIDATE: This race is one that is
about putting the people of this state first. And I speak for myself and
don`t need any other surrogate to do that.
HUNT: Do you think that the Obama administration has done an appropriate
job handling the Ebola crisis?
SEN. MARK PRYOR (D), ARKANSAS: I would say that it`s hard to know, because
I haven`t heard the latest briefing on that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Kasie, was this a good strategy for them?
HUNT: Well, in particular in the south, Democrats have really struggled to
answer these questions. And take Alison Lundergan Grimes, for example, you
know. If she`s going to hope to win, and it`s looking less and less like
she will, but you know, it`s been a close race all the way along. You
know, she and other Democrats in similar positions have to walk a careful
line. You know, the president is pretty unpopular, especially among rural
white voters. Whereas his popularity is very high among African-American
voters and these candidates really need them to turn out to the polls for
So they`ve all found themselves caught in a difficult position, between
having to, you know, distance themselves from the president without saying
anything that`s too over the top. And I think that you saw Alison Grimes
and Mark Pryor both sort of stuck in that situation.
SHARPTON: Clarence, two big years for Republicans were 1994 and 2010. But
in 1994, 41 percent of the Americans had a positive view of the GOP. In
2010, 34 percent did. This year, only 29 percent of Americans have a
positive view of the Republican party. Can the GOP expect a wave election
when only 29 percent have a positive view of them?
PAGE: I rather doubt it, Reverend. And I think so do Republican leaders.
But at the same time, a win is a win, if they indeed do win. The question
of whether it`s a wave or not becomes academic. But at the same time,
though, it is significant that Republican approvals -- disapprovals are so
high, and that`s partly because they have not been offering much in the way
of a positive agenda.
I mean, Newt Gingrich in 1994 offered a contract with America, you
remember. A ten-point agenda which, by the way, they pretty much violated
within a few years, all ten points, just about. But it didn`t matter.
They were standing for something positive in the tradition of Ronald
Reagan. And had a lot of swing voters react positively to that, the Reagan
This year, we see the Republicans are offering a lot of negativity, trying
to repeal Obamacare. They don`t say what they want to replace it with.
They`re of course attacking Obama himself even though he`s not on the
ballot. And Democrats, unfortunately, in many cases have gotten count by
this, that`s why you see Alison Lundergan grimes among others who really
doesn`t want to say in public and they voted for Obama. Which I think that
hurts them both with their base and with swing voters, because it shows a
lack of character, frankly.
SHARPTON: Now if Republicans do win the Senate, they could have some big
issues, Senator Ted Cruz told "the Washington Post" Republicans should,
quote, "pursue every means possible to repeal Obamacare." He also wouldn`t
pledge to back senator McConnell for leader. Is the GOP facing a civil war
coming if they win, Clarence?
PAGE: They already have a civil war. And it`s becoming more apparent.
What was interesting to me, you know, over the weekend, Ted Cruz, for
example, gave interviews in which he kind of came out of the wood work.
He`s been keeping a low profile in recent months as have other, shall we
say, problematic, far-right Republicans, because they don`t want to go and
scare swing voters like they did in 2012 and hurt Mitt Romney.
This year, they`ve been keeping a low profile and you haven`t seen a lot of
guests hurting the Republican side. But, you know, Ted Cruz was talking
about what he wants to do after the Republicans win the Senate if they do.
And he wants to have more votes to repeal Obamacare, more hearings into
Benghazi and every other scandal they can dig up.
And you know, where the positive agenda? He doesn`t care. He wants to run
for president, so he`s firing up the base. That`s where the civil war is.
SHARPTON: Let me ask quickly, one word answer from each of you, what state
will you be watching tomorrow night to give us an indication of what kind
of night we`ll have.
Let me go to you first, Steve. What state?
KORNACKI: New Hampshire. One of the first reporting. Like Kasie said,
that`s going to tell you, you know, how the night`s going to go if
Democrats are not winning New Hampshire, very bad night.
SHARPTON: All right, Kasie.
HUNT: Since Steve took New Hampshire, Colorado, which is really going to
be not just about whether for tonight, but nationally in 2016.
SHARPTON: Clarence Page?
PAGE: And since Steve and Kasie took New Hampshire and Colorado, I`ll take
North Carolina, because I think that`s a testing ground for the Democrats
get out the vote effort, their ground game. If they can pull it off, that
will show they can pull off those last-minute victories. If they don`t,
it`s going to be a sad night for Democrats nationally, I think.
SHARPTON: Well, one thing I see is nobody could give me a one-word answer.
PAGE: Sorry about that.
SHARPTON: Steve Kornacki, Kasie Hunt, and Clarence Page, thanks for being
PAGE: Thank you, Rev.
SHARPTON: And be sure to watch "Up with Steve Kornacki" weekends at 8:00
a.m. eastern right here on MSNBC.
Still ahead, what voters are telling me down here in Florida, the issues
that really matter to them, and how they`re fighting back against voter
Plus, is Scott Walker about to lose his job? There may be payback tomorrow
for the GOP governor who trashed the union. We`ll explain.
Road rage, the NASCAR brawl that rattled the racing world. What would it
take for you to walk a tight rope from one skyscraper to another,
blindfolded? That`s ahead in "conversation nation."
SHARPTON: Coming up, one day to go and a voting record broken right here
in Florida. That`s next.
SHARPTON: With races in key states too close to call, it`s never been more
important to get out and vote. This weekend, I was here in Florida helping
to rally people to get out and vote early. In fact, we saw record-breaking
souls to the polls turnouts yesterday in south Florida. Vice president Joe
Biden was also here this weekend, stressing how important it is to vote.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ladies and gentlemen, go
out and vote. Vote, vote, vote, vote.
We get out the vote. We win. People stay home, we lose.
Now is the time to deal the middle class back in. This is the moment. We
can`t afford to miss this opportunity.
So go out and vote. Get people out to vote. This is a big election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: This is a big election. And Democrats are getting more and more
engaged. Our new NBC News poll shows voter interest among Democrats has
spiked in the past two weeks, up 10 percent since mid-October. While
Republican interest in the elections have leveled off. Some on the right
want you to think this election is over before it`s begun. But make no
mistake, every single vote will count tomorrow.
Joining me now is Lee Saunders, president of AFSCME, the nation`s largest
public employee union.
Lee, thank you for being here.
LEE SAUNDERS, PRESIDENT, AFSCME: Glad to be here.
SHARPTON: You know, we worked souls to the polls yesterday together.
You`ve been working to get people out to vote around the country. What`s
motivating and engaging voters in these final hours?
SAUNDERS: Well, I think people get it now. I think people understand that
there`s going to be a true difference between the extremists in the state
Houses and in Washington, D.C. who want to take this country back, versus
those who want to have working people in the front lines who want to
support voting rights, who want to support women`s rights, who wants to
support an increase in the minimum wage, help working families all across
Folks are getting it. We saw it yesterday. We saw the excitement at the
polls that we visited all day yesterday. We saw the excitement at the
churches that we attended yesterday. Folks are involved in this election
and they`re coming out to vote.
SHARPTON: You know, Democrats have closed the gap in key Senate
battlegrounds across the country. The NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll shows
in August, Republicans held an eight percent lead over Democrats in ten
Senate battleground elections among likely voters, but now Democrats have
closed that lead, bringing those races neck and neck. This just shows how
important every vote will be tomorrow, Lee.
SAUNDERS: And that`s what we`ve been preaching all along. If we get our
vote out, not only individual votes, but if we ask those voters to bring
their family members, to bring their friends, bring their co-workers, bring
their communities, get out to vote, then we can win these elections in
state after state and in Senate race after Senate race.
SHARPTON: You know, Democrats have the edge with several key economic
issues for voters, something dear to your heart, 70 percent of voters
support raising the federal minimum wage, 68 percent of voters support
equal pay for equal work, 59 percent of voters want their Social Security
benefits protected as they are now. In the next 24 hours, how can
Democrats push these issues to the voters?
SAUNDERS: Just got to continue to push it, you got to mobilize, organize,
and educate our communities. There is a true and real difference between
these extremists, again, who want to not support -- they don`t want to
support minimum wage, they want to take away voting rights, they want to
take away women`s rights, they want to take away labor rights. There`s a
clear difference. We just got to have to convince our folks that you get
out there and vote. If they vote, we win.
SHARPTON: I want to ask you this, because you were discussing this as we
rode around during souls to the polls with bishop Curry (ph) and others
yesterday. What will it do to unions, to labor, that if we end up with a
Republican majority in the Senate?
SAUNDERS: Well, I tell you, if it looks like there`s going to be a
Republican Senate, then that means that we are going to be playing defense
all the time. President Obama is going to have to play defense. And they
could come after our rights in state after state after state. The same if
we lose the governors elections.
We know what happened when Scott Walker took collective bargaining away in
the state of Wisconsin. He took collective bargaining away, we can`t sit
at the table. We don`t have a seat at the table right now. That`s what
they want. They don`t want us to have power. This is a power play, pure
and simple. They have a lot of wealth, a lot of power. They want more
wealth and power at the expense of the majority who want to play by the
rules every single day.
SHARPTON: Well, you`ve been out here working in southern Florida. And you
haven`t been to the beach, that`s for sure.
Lee Saunders, thanks so much for your time this evening.
SAUNDERS: Thanks for having me, Al.
SHARPTON: Coming up, would Democrats be in a better position running on
President Obama`s policies and achievements?
Plus, some of the biggest Republican governors in the country are fighting
for their political lives.
And this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two steps, another step.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Nik Wallenda does the unthinkable high above Chicago. What`s he
planning to do next? Stay with us.
SHARPTON: It could be the most underreported story in this election. Big
name GOP governors who are in big trouble at the polls. Scott Walker tried
to gut public unions in Wisconsin. Rick Scott was drug test in people on
wealth in Florida. And Tom Corbett signed that infamous voter I.D. law in
Pennsylvania. Now they have to answer to voters. We`ll talk about that
SHARPTON: Now to a big story in the midterms, the high profile republican
governors who are in serious trouble. Starting with the conservative hero
and possible White House contender. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. His
move to gut labor unions set off a 2012 recall vote. This time, he`s
making headlines for dismissing the minimum wage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: I was paid the minimum wage when I
worked at McDonald`s as a kid. I used that to save up for money in
college, I didn`t expect that that was going to be my lifetime`s work.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: What is your position on the minimum wage, should we
WALKER: Well, I`m not going to repeal it. But I don`t think it serves a
purpose because we`re debating then about what the lowest levels are at.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, Walker is at risk of losing. Leading democrat Mary Burke
by just two points in polling averages. He`s winning only by two points.
In Florida, GOP Governor Rick Scott is even worse off. He`s drug testing
its welfare recipients was notorious. Now he`s trying to beat democrat
Charlie Crist, with GOP campaign ads attacking Crist for hugging President
Obama in 2009 back when Crist was governor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I was proud to embrace him and his plan.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: And he still does. If you liked the last six years of
Barack Obama, you`d love the next four years of Charlie Crist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Four years of Crist is exactly what Florida might get. He`s
ahead of Rick Scott by a point. In Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Corbett is
fighting for his political life. In 2012, he signed one of the strictest
voter I.D. laws in the country. Signed it into law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We are ensuring the integrity of the elections.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: But was there a question about the integrity?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We`re ensuring the integrity of the elections.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I mean, when was the last time there was a question,
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: There have been questions that had been raised here in
this city of Philadelphia about why the Department of Justice didn`t follow
up on voter intimidation in the past.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: That`s a different issue.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It doesn`t matter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The court struck that down. Now voters could strike down
Corbett`s career. He`s losing by over 10 points to democrat Tom Wolf.
Some of the biggest republican names in the states are on the ropes.
Joining me now, former Governor Bill Richardson, he also served as
ambassador to the U.N. And E.J. Dionne of "The Washington Post." Thank
you both for being here.
E.J. DIONNE, THE WASHINGTON POST: Good to be with you, rev.
FMR. GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Governor Richardson, you were chairman of the Democratic
Governors Association. What`s your take on this trend of high profile
republican governors fighting for their political lives?
RICHARDSON: Well, my main point here is that governors -- the governors`
races have been a bit overlooked in favor of the Senate races and governors
are the ones that are setting policy in this country because of this
dysfunction in Washington. Plus, if you`re looking at 2016, governors
control the political organizations that are going to be determining a
president. And so I expect that the democrats, it`s 29-21 right now,
republican to democrat. I bet you we narrow the gap, Reverend. I see
potential upsets in Arizona, a neighboring state. Fred Duvall hasn`t been
covered that much. I think if Georgia, you`re seeing the Carter era moving
RICHARDSON: I think Scott Walker`s in trouble. I think Florida`s a huge
battleground state and I think Charlie Crist is going to pull it off. So
that`s critically important. I also think, Reverend, that democrats have
made a basic mistake in separating themselves from the President. Not
necessarily recognizing that a president is not going to be popular in an
off-year election, a midterm election, but from his policies. You know, to
try to separate themselves so much is going to affect the turn-out of
voters that the democrats need, young voters, Hispanics, native Americans,
African-Americans, those voters that we need to turn out to win.
SHARPTON: You know, E.J., why is it that the republicans seem to think
they can win the Senate, yet they`re in such trouble in key states in the
RICHARDSON: Well, I think there`s a structural thing and a substantive
thing. The structural thing, and this is Professor Sam Wang of Princeton
who made this point. You`re talking about two anti-waves here. Democrats,
even if they hold the Senate are going to lose some seats. There senators
were elected in 2008, a big democratic year. On the governors` side, all
these guys were elected in a huge republican landslide in 2010. This isn`t
going to be that kind of republican year. But you also have a backlash
against policy. The two races that interest me most, I think, above all,
because I think they`re real referenda on the whole Tea Party, supply-side
program, are, yes, Scott Walker in Wisconsin, which is hugely important,
but also there`s a fascinating governor`s race in Kansas that I think the
democrats are going to win.
RICHARDSON: Governor Sam Brownback has pursued and he said he wants to
turn his state into a kind of red state laboratory, an experiment, he
called it. People, including a lot of moderate and conservative
republicans don`t like the impact of those tax cuts, which have led to
education cuts. So democrat Paul Davis has been running ahead. So you`ve
got some really important philosophical issues being joined at the state
level in a way you don`t always see in the Senate races.
SHARPTON: You know, Governor, in five republican governor -- in five
republican races, races that we find republicans in close contest, they`re
all blocking Medicaid expansion to some degree. If they all lose, over two
million people would gain health coverage. How big a deal is this in the
RICHARDSON: Well, it`s an important issue. And this is why I think some
of the President`s policies, raising the minimum wage, equity pay for
women, ObamaCare is starting to cover more people, and health care is
costing less. I think the fact that we have over 60 allies in this fight
against ISIS. That he`s gotten us out of Iraq and Afghanistan, I think
these are issues that democrats -- voter I.D. should have been running on
in a positive way. The American people like strong, tactical candidates.
They don`t like candidates running away. Oh, I`m not going to tell you who
I voted for. Oh, I don`t want the President to campaign for me. Right
now, we need the democratic base that President Obama is still very strong
with. African-Americans, Hispanics, labor, coalitions of women, young
people. That`s my worry, that they won`t turn out, because my party, our
party, has kind of been turning away from those issues and the President
that has championed them.
SHARPTON: No, you`ve got to turn people on to turn them out. E.J., you
recently wrote about Kansas, Governor Brownback`s re-election problems.
And you just mentioned him tonight, I want to go to what you wrote. You
said the results of the Tea Party rebellion four years ago have led this
civic-minded, middle of the road Kansas to a quiet but fierce determination
to take their state back from those who once talked incessantly about
taking their country back. Now, right now, Brownback is trailing democrat
Paul Davis by over two points. Is this a lesson for republicans about the
risk of overreaching an office?
DIONNE: That`s exactly the lesson. And you know, you mentioned Medicaid,
I was in Southeast Kansas and Paul Davis was campaigning down there, and he
was very strong about saying how important Medicaid was, not just to
individuals, which was important, but also to local hospitals down there
that were in a lot of trouble. So that`s an issue that is working for
democrats. And I ran into a lot of people who were republicans, who were
voting against Brownback. Because they`re pretty conservative, but they
believe in basic public services. They believe in strong public schools.
They believe in investing in highways and other public good. So I think
that`s why I think a focus on Kansas is so important. Because, you know,
there aren`t a lot of liberals in Kansas. Republicans outnumber democrats
and registered voters by two-to-one. If that state flips, that sends a
real message. And I think that`s true of a number of other states,
SHARPTON: All right. Well, that`s another big story line that we`ll be
watching tomorrow night, the governors` races. Former Governor Bill
Richardson and E.J. Dionne, thank you both for your time tonight.
DIONNE: Thank you.
RICHARDSON: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Still ahead, did some democrats make a mistake by running away
from President Obama in this election? Lots of fierce debate on that today
on both sides.
Also, what do you do for an encore once you`ve done a blindfold tight rope
walk? Is a head stand really the next step?
And the ugly brawl that`s given NASCAR a black eye. It`s all part of
"Conversation Nation," next.
SHARPTON: We`re back with "Conversation Nation."
Joining us tonight, MSNBC`s Krystal Ball, comedian Chuck Nice and Voto
Latino`s Maria Teresa Kumar. We start with election eve and a question.
Would democrats be in a better position running on President Obama`s
policies and achievements? It`s been a point of conflict with democrats,
and the President recently said his policies are on the ballot. But
Krystal, should democrats have run more on President Obama`s policies and
not him personally?
KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST, "THE CYCLE": I mean, I absolutely think they
should. In particular, the piece of not being able to say whether or not
you voted for him and really trying to blatantly distance yourself from
him. Voters see through that. I mean, they know that you`re a democrat.
He`s the leader of the party. And moreover, in a midterm election, you got
to get your own folks excited and out to the polls. So by distancing
yourself from him, from policies like the Affordable Care Act, that have
been successful, you`re also depressing turn-out among the very people that
you need to come out to the polls.
SHARPTON: Chuck, you know Governor Richardson just said that the voters
they need most in some of these close states, African-Americans, Latinos,
young voters, are the voters that really still strongly support President
Obama. Is it wise to distance yourself from him?
CHUCK NICE, COMEDIAN: No, it`s not. Especially with those voters, because
quite frankly, the republicans all along --
SHARPTON: Wait a minute. I don`t hear you. Somebody`s playing a joke on
NICE: Are you hearing me now?
SHARPTON: I hear you now.
NICE: Okay. Fantastic. So, I think it`s a mistake because especially
with those voters, because republicans all along have been running on Obama
cooties. That has been the entire campaign. They`ve got Obama cooties.
And the truth of the matter is, it`s a very juvenile position to take,
because when you say the next four years you`ll love with Charlie Crist if
you liked the last six with Obama. Let`s look at the last six years where
we started with Obama, when the country and the world was on the brink of
financial distraction, when we had unemployment rate of 10 percent, that`s
now down to 5.5 percent. When we had all kinds of problems that were
besieging this country, and now that we have slowly made our way out, the
real argument republicans are making right now is that Obama didn`t clean
things up fast enough. So that`s really the issue here.
SHARPTON: Maria, should they have run on the President`s policies and
achievements even if they didn`t want to embrace him personally, or bring
him in personally?
MARIA TERESA KUMAR, VOTO LATINO: Well, I think it`s absolutely true that
in order for a voter to like you, you have to be authentic. And if you`re
saying that you`re not with the president and you`re a democrat and you`re
running, you`ve got to run afoul of where you want to take your voter. So,
if you start talking about issues that voters care about, especially
Latinos and African-Americans and single women, you want to embrace what
President Obama`s been promoting. He wants to make sure that there`s pay
equity, he wants to raise minimum wage, where he`s wins. He`s passed the
health care act. He`s been able to grant the Pell grants for folks with
low income. But more importantly the Dow jones has never been higher.
It`s skyrocketed at 17,000 percent. When was the last time we heard that?
SHARPTON: Yes. All right, let me move on, now to that heart-stopping
death-defying walk high above Chicago. Professional tight rope walker Nik
Wallenda made history again last night walking between two Chicago
skyscrapers 50 stories up, with no safety harness and no net.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: What`s the view like?
NIK WALLENDA, TIGHT ROPE WALKER: It`s unbelievable. Absolutely stunning.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: There are a lot of people down there Nik, cheering for
you. I know you can hear it.
WALLENDA: Oh, yeah, I can. It`s amazing to hear that roar. It`s pretty
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: But his second walk was blind-folded, relying only on the voice
of his father to guide him. A Guinness World record for the highest
blindfold tight rope walk. So what`s next?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALLENDA: I`m working on re-creating my great grandfather`s greatest walk
which was over to Tallulah Gorge, Georgia, 600 feet high, a thousand feet
long. He did two head stands on the wire. I`ve never done a head stand in
the wire in public and I`m training for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Head stand? Chuck, how far is too far?
NICE: I think head stand might be it, to be honest. My hat`s off to this
guy, I look down from his stool and I get a little squeezy, to be honest.
So I don`t really know what drives him. But, you know, I wish him all the
luck in the world. He`s trying to repeat the success of his grandfather,
and you know, I just hope that he is. Because he`s not working with a net.
KUMAR: It`s crazy.
SHARPTON: Maria, what do you think?
KUMAR: I mean, talk about taking literally bearing the weight of your
elders on to you. I think we sort of trust him. I don`t think he needs to
do it in public. I have a sense that if he sets his mind to it, he can do
it. I don`t think I could bear to watch though.
SHARPTON: All right. Let me go to the next one, Krystal, with you. On to
that all-out NASCAR brawl. Down the stretch, Brad Keselowski bumps Jeff
Gordon on the track, and it spins Gordon out of the race. After the race,
a furious Jeff Gordon stops to confront him and this happens.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: There`s Gordon confronting Keselowski.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The drivers and crew members in a melee. NASCAR will issue
penalties this week. Brad Keselowski had blood on his mouth. And Gordon
was left with a cut on his lip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: He`s just a dip (bleep). You know, I mean, the way he
races, I don`t know how he`s ever won a championship. And I`m just sick
and tired of him. That`s why everybody`s fighting him and running him
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Krystal, there are kids watching this. Does NASCAR need to ban
BALL: Yes, I mean, this is not acceptable behavior in any sport. And as
you point out, there are a lot of kids watching NASCAR. There are a lot of
people watching NASCAR. These men are role models and they are heroes.
And so yes, I hope there`s a very stiff penalty here. There needs to be
real repercussions. Because this is not the way that you solve this, I
understand emotions are very high, this is very intense, crazy amounts of
adrenaline, but still, you`re grown men. This is not the way that you
NICE: I don`t know. I may have to disagree. For the first time ever, I`m
actually thinking about watching NASCAR. Because I never would have
watched it before.
BALL: You`re part of the problem, Chuck.
NICE: I`m part of the problem here.
I didn`t know if I was watching --
SHARPTON: I`m going to have to leave it there with Chuck`s admonition now
that -- well, it wasn`t exactly an admonition --
SHARPTON: Krystal Ball, Chuck Nice, and Maria Teresa Kumar, thank you for
your time tonight.
BALL: Thanks, Rev.
KUMAR: Thank you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Coming up, a record-breaking souls to the polls turn-out here in
South Florida yesterday. And why we must fight voter suppression all over
the country by voting.
SHARPTON: Open for business, it`s been more than 13 years since the
terrorist attacks on 9/11 brought down the Twin Towers and claimed
thousands of lives. But today the first workers are moving into one World
Trade Center, eight years after construction began. Publishing giant Condi
Nast is paving the way and setting a powerful example for the thousands of
workers still to come. Today we celebrate the strength and determination
to rebuild a gleaming tower to light up the Lower Manhattan skyline and the
country once more.
SHARPTON: In just a few hours, polls will start to open across the country
and once again, we`ll have a chance to make our voices heard. Martin
Luther King, Jr. once said, a voteless people is a powerless people. He
said this in the height of Jim Crow when too many Americans were denied
their basic rights as citizens. We`re still facing challenges today, but
this weekend in Florida, I saw huge turnouts for early voting. I hope the
rest of the country follows suit, because the only way to keep making
progress is to keep voting. No one has argued more than me against ending
early voting days and voter I.D. laws and other things that are
impediments. But those impediments really don`t come anywhere near the
battle fought to give us the right to vote in the first place. People
died. People lost their lives. People went to jail. All we have to do is
get up and get in line. And do some things maybe that are inconvenient.
But we must vote. Remember as I stand on line tomorrow, and I hope there
are long lines, there was a time some of us no lines would accept, vote
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. There`s no POLITICS NATION
tomorrow, but I`ll be here with Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews and the rest
of the MSNBC team for live election coverage starting at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.
But first, "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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