The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 09/25/12

Guests:
Bob Herbert, Jose Diaz-Balart
Transcript:

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thank you.

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.

Here`s the newest data that we`ve got on the state of the election, at
least in two of the swingiest of the swing states, in Ohio and Florida.
There`s new data out today. “The Washington Post” putting out new numbers
showing President Obama ahead by eight points in Iowa and ahead in four
points in Florida.

And while the swing state map is what everybody is watching the swing
states are the most important to keep an eye on because that`s where you
wrap up the votes that allow you to win the election, there`s also new
national polling now for what it`s worth. There`s new national polling now
every day.

The Republican-leaning Rasmussen poll was out with their new national
numbers today. Their national tracking poll right now putting President
Obama up by one point nationally. The Gallup tracking poll, which is also
skewing a little more Republican in most of their surveys this year, lesser
than Rasmussen, but still, slightly more Republican-leaning, Gallup`s daily
tracking putting President Obama up by three points today nationally.

That`s, of course, in big picture perspective of what`s going on in
the presidential race. For an even bigger picture perspective on those
national numbers, though, I should point out to you that of the last 20
national presidential polls, of the 20 national polls taken in the month of
September, every single one of those 20 polls shows President Obama winning
nationally. The range varies from one point, as we just saw with
Rasmussen, up to eight points in some other polls. But 20 straight
national polls showing President Obama ahead, that`s what you call a trend.

Now whether or not that trend is depressing to Republicans or whether
it fires them up to try to do better for their candidate, honestly, the
common wisdom is that one of the most consequential things that can happen
because of polling like this, one of the things that polling can cause, is
that it can have a fatal affect on fundraising.

It`s interesting. Politico.com had a big picture review of the Romney
campaign recent struggles. They ran through some of the times the campaign
has tried to relaunch itself and reintroduced their candidate even at this
late date. But the piece included this one devastating anecdote that has
really stuck with me ever since they published it.

The say, quote, “To get a flavor of the challenge before them, one top
donor said that after Mitt Romney spoke at a fundraising breakfast on
Friday, a will-Mitt win poll was taken at a table of 10 men, each of whom
had paid at least $2,500 to attend that fundraiser. And some of whom had
raised as much as $50,000 for the campaign. So at their table of 10 men,
they asked each other, will mitt win? Of the 10 men, not a single man said
yes.”

Of 10 active Mitt Romney supporters who were actively supporting him
at that moment with their money, zero said he will win. And they admit to
that at the fundraiser they paid 2,500 bucks to get into.
That is not a phenomenon that can last a super long time, right? That
sort of a moment. But you don`t get to sit around at $2,500 a plate
fundraisers talking about how your guy is going to lose for weeks and weeks
and weeks. Eventually you`re going to stop going to those fundraisers if
you believe it is a lost cause. I don`t care how rich you are, you will
stop throwing good money after bad.

Luckily for the Romney campaign, there is a solution to this potential
problem that can be caused by polling, this potential fundraising campaign
death spiral. There`s a way around it. A new argument emerged about the
polling that says that Mitt Romney is losing the race and losing badly in
the new polls, yes, but the new argument on the right is that the polls are
all wrong. Mathematically. All of them. They`re all wrong. Even the FOX
News poll. They are all unfairly skewed to make it look like Obama is
winning when, in fact, that`s not the case.

The new argument on the right is that if you reconfigure all of the
mainstream polls to unskewify them, to make them be less liberal, they
don`t look like this anymore with 20 straight polls for Obama. Instead
they look like this. Hey, yes, that`s way better.

Look, Mitt Romney is actually winning all of the recent polls that you
thought President Obama was winning.

The guy who did this it neat trick, the unskewing of the polling so
that Mitt Romney wins in every one instead of losing in every one, that guy
explained his methodology to the folks at “BuzzFeed” this week, saying he
created this new Romney-always-wins polling site, quote, “After reading an
ABC News/`Washington Post` poll that just didn`t look right. Noting that
the polling had sampled more Democrats than Republicans.”

Sampling more Democrats than Republicans. Hmm, that sounds like a
reasonable argument, right? Everybody might have reason to be suspicious
of the polls showing President Obama leading if, in fact, pollsters are
systemically oversampling Democrats when they are doing their polling.

It turns out, that is not what pollsters are doing. Pollsters are not
going out and looking for too many Democrats for their polls in order to
fill some Democratic quota so they can get the liberal result they want.
Pollsters polling the swing states are finding more people calling
themselves Democrats in those swing states because there are more people
calling themselves Democrats in the swing states.

It`s not a democratically biased look at the states. It is a look at
the states that show the states have a Democratic bias. That`s why
President Obama is winning there. Their electorates are leaning
Democratic, at least in the presidential race, which maybe an uncomfortable
thing for Republicans to face, but that is probably not enough to reason to
justify the creation of a whole new polling university just to flop
Republicans` feeling.

Just (INAUDIBLE) put it today at “Washington Monthly,” just to create
a whole new fantasy electorate to replace the real electorate because you
don`t like what the real electorate seems poised to do.

Trying to turn the polls themselves into a controversy, I was amazed
when this happened at the middle of the afternoon today. Today it moved on
from being a source of conservative psychological comfort at the places
like Drudge Report, right? It moved on today out of those corners of the
Internet to being the official line of the Romney campaign itself.

Mid-afternoon today, the Romney campaign started leaking news that
they say their internal polling data doesn`t really have them losing Ohio
at all. They say, yes, yes, the polls show them losing Ohio, but their
internal Romney polls show Mr. Romney specially tied in Ohio. At least
they show Romney inside the margin of error in Ohio.

But again, they are not releasing this magical internal polling data.
They are saying that`s what it says. Kind of like the summary of Mitt
Romney`s tax returns. If it`s true they have internal polling data doing
great in Ohio, just in the interest of their donors, shouldn`t they release
those numbers?

But, you know, this isn`t a magic thing, right? This isn`t a
hypothetical thing. In a real poll, which we can actually see the data
for, we can see not only that it in Ohio, President Obama is up by eight,
we can see why President Obama is up by eight in Ohio. That “Washington
Post” poll that`s out today has other data in it, including the fact that
36 percent of all Ohio voters say they have been contacted by the Obama
campaign. That contacted by the campaign number is seven points lower in
term of the Romney campaign.

The Obama campaign is doing it better. They are talking to more
voters in Ohio. That`s making a difference.

“The Hill” today reporting that it`s not just Ohio. The Obama
campaign has double the number of field staff as the Romney campaign and
the RNC and in a number of key swing state, the Obama folks have twice the
number of field offices. Interestingly, “The L.A. Times” looked at the
payroll numbers that have been disclosed why the campaigns as of August.
They find that the Obama campaign is employing twice the number of staff as
the Romney campaign last month at about the same cost.

There are twice as many people working on the Obama campaign. And
even if you exclude the more than $200,000 the Romney campaign paid out in
bonuses to its top campaign officials last month, the Romney`s campaign
overall payroll number was still roughly the same as President Obama`s even
though President Obama had double the number of boots on the ground. Just
fewer Romney staff e but they get paid a lot more.

There`s a reason President Obama is ahead in the last 20 national
polls. There`s a reason he`s up by eight in the latest “Washington Post”
poll in Ohio. And that is that his campaign is doing more, and whatever –
whichever way you squint at the data, frankly, President Obama right now is
winning his effort at reelection. And early voting starts a week from
today in Ohio.

And so, now is when you see the signs of desperation on the Republican
side. But, you know, there are two kinds of political desperation.
There`s the aboveground political desperation, say, inventing a whole new
world of polling methodology to replace all other polling methodology
whereby your guy suddenly wins all the time, instead of losing all the time
because even FOX News is in on the conspiracy to make it look like Obama is
winning, that`s aboveground desperation.

But at least it`s happening in the light of day where everybody can
see it.

Here`s what`s happening a little below the surface on the right. This
is what underground political desperation looks like 41 days before the
election when the Republican candidate is clearly losing.

This is a web ad just been released by a conservative outside group
accusing President Obama of being in bed with the Muslim Brotherhood, which
by the way, is trying to take over America. The responsible for this ad
says its part of a $7 million online ad buy. Seven million dollars?

We spoke with this group to try to confirm the number because we
couldn`t believe it was that high. They assured us. Yes, this ad was part
of a $7 million online ad buy. And that`s just in terms of online
distribution for this ad and a number of others like it.

It`s part of the $7 million overall ad buy in which they will target
voters online, whether it turns up on TV remains to be seen. They say TV
ads are yet not in the works, but they are talking to donors about that
possibility.

But honestly, we shall die as martyrs, why Mr. President? Why? Why
are trying to help the Muslim Brotherhood take over America?

This kind of stuff usually functions better in the shadows than it
does in the high-profile settings where it can be scrutinized more widely.
Another place for underground type conservative attacks associated with a
lot of money is from our old friend Ralph Reed. Remember him? He`s
climbing back into politics. His role as Jack Abramoff`s henchman during
that huge Republican lobbying scandal a few years back.

“The New York Times” reporting this week that Ralph Reed and his Faith
and Freedom coalition is set to pour $10 million to $12 million into their
campaign this year. Andy Kroll at “Mother Jones” today got his hands on a
Ralph Reed mailer, which is part of his strategy, part of what he was
spending his $10 million to $12 million on. It`s labeled as a 2012 voter
registration confirmation survey. Oh, a survey?

Well, here`s some of the question. Question number one: How do you
rate Barack Obama`s overall performance as president so far?

Here are your choices. Excellent, good, fair, poor, abysmal,
undecided, or I consider him an enemy of liberty and the values that built
our great nation. Oh, it`s a survey, I see.

For a couple of the questions, there`s an issue summary that you have
to read. It`s the statement of facts before you get to answer your
question. Here`s the issue summary, the statement of facts.

The anti-American communist dictator of Venezuela Hugo Chavez calls
Barack Obama comrade Obama and believes President Obama is to the left of
himself and Fidel Castro. So that`s the issue summary.

These are the facts. Now the question. When Fidel Castro hailed the
passage of Obamacare as a miracle, do you think this is because he is
honestly concerned with the well-being of Americans or is it more likely
that Castro sees Obamacare as the fastest, surest way to bring socialism or
worse to America? Just a question, what do you think, America?

How about this one? How much danger do you think liberty is in as a
result of President Obama`s policies, actions and agenda for America`s
future? It`s how much. So, you have to quantify this. You mark as many
answers as you think are appropriate. So, it`s how much. But it could be
all of these.

Ready? You`re choices are these – more serious than the threats we
faced in World War II from Nazi Germany and the Japanese because the attack
on liberty today is from our own government? That`s one choice. Or, more
serious than the threat we face from the Soviet Union during the Cold War?
Or more serious than the American Civil War? Or all of the above? Or
serious but not as serious as the threats to liberty listed above.

For all the communist fascist poll respondents, the last choices,
president is not an enemy of the liberty. That is one of the available
choices.

Near the end of the survey, you were asked if you will solemnly pledge
right now on this survey to vote on November 6th if you are physically able
to do so. You have to fill in the bubble saying you`re swearing to do it
and then you have to sign your name there to verify your pledge. And also
please send Ralph Reed some money.

The last question, you have to answer in the survey is, will you send
your best emergency freedom saving donation right now?

Ralph Reed is going to spend $12 million this election cycle, $10
million to $12 million. That`s a lot of postage for hilarious President
Obama is secretly a communist push polls. I`m sure Ralph Reed himself is
doing well in terms of the cut he`s taking for this great, totally above
board survey that he`s doing.

But $12 million even minus the considerable fee, that`s got to be a
lot of money. That`s a lot of comparing President Obama to Hitler and
please sign here if you understand it. And $7 million on the Obama is
inviting the Muslim Brotherhood to destroy America ad campaign? That`s a
lot of money.

But this is what the campaign is going to start to look like from here
on out. Because when the campaign gets tough, the campaigning gets weird
and nasty and sometimes it gets weirdly nasty.

Joining us is Bob Herbert. He`s a distinguished senior fellow at
Demos and a contributor at PolicyShop.Net.

Bob, thank you for being here. A difficult survey, right?

BOB HERBERT, DEMOS: That`s a great survey.

MADDOW: OK. My favorite part is your choices on how abysmal
President Obama is, his overall performance. After you get to abysmal,
there`s still lower choices for you.

I mean, so underground tactics like this. This isn`t quite the racist
campaign flier under the windshield wiper in the church parking lot, but
it`s the digital age version of that. How do you know whether or not this
stuff is going to work? How do you measure its effectiveness?

HERBERT: Well, the first thing you need to know about the GOP is this
is a party that needs professional counseling. They have gone of the –
they don`t believe in Evolution, they don`t believe in global warming.
They don`t believe the president was born in this country. They don`t
believe the polls, you know?

So now they are running these weird ads and stuff like that. But they
are tying – they are in fantasy land. So, they are going back to an era
when these kinds of ads could get some traction. And – but it`s the same
old thing.

It`s presenting the candidate, the Democratic candidate as the other.
They think it`s easier now because Barack Obama is African-American. So
they present him as the other, the friend of the Muslim Brotherhood, the
underlying here is that he`s black, you know? So that`s going to make the
whole thing easier.

But the country has changed. I mean, the country is just not the same
as it`s been as it was 30 or 40 years ago. That`s one problem that they
have. So they are out of touch with what`s going on in the country.

And the second problem they have is the demographic issue. The
country has changed in terms of the makeup of the population.

You know, we don`t know what`s going to happen with this election. It
could still go either way. But if the Republican Party doesn`t change its
message and its strategies and almost its whole raison d`etre, it`s doomed
because it can no longer function in what the United States has become.

MADDOW: That issue about the legitimacy of the president and trying
to otherize him, I found myself in reading the right-wing argumentation
about the polls today, it`s not just stuff from the blog world. I mean,
it`s definitely relatively respected Republican pollsters who are starting
to get on board.

And then the Romney campaign itself certainly got on board saying the
polls that show Obama ahead must be wrong. It made me start to think about
let`s say the election goes the way the polls say it`s going to go.

Let`s say President Obama wins, aren`t they just laying the groundwork
to say that he stole the election? That his election is illegitimate?
That whether or not you think he`s foreign, and therefore secretly not
president for his term, he couldn`t possibly be a legitimate president for
a second term?

HERBERT: They are never going to acknowledge he`s legitimately
president. He can serve the full eight years, and in year eight, they are
not going to acknowledge that he was legitimate.

But the question becomes, can it remain viable as a party? And the
real problem that the Republicans have – I mean, the polls come after the
fact. The polls are a reflection of what`s going on in the United States.
The real problem that the Republicans have in this campaign is, one, they
have a terrible candidate. Even Americans acknowledge that Mitt Romney is
not a good candidate.

But potentially even bigger problem is that the electorate does not
seem to be buying what the Republicans are offering. When Romney picked
Ryan as vice president, I said to my wife, you know, I think Romney may
have lost the election here. The reason I said that was because by picking
Paul Ryan, it opened up that argument of the Republican Party as extreme
and the Democrats just pounced on that as you would expect them to do.

And the country does not want those extreme aspects of the Republican
Party, those extreme right wing policies. They do realize that that`s what
got us into this trouble both overseas with the war in Iraq and also with
the economy.

And they are not going for it anymore. The republic no longer
believes that the way to help middle class and low-income families is to
give more money to the rich. So I thought that Mitt Romney would pivot to
the middle as traditionally would happen. He decided not to do that.

MADDOW: I feel like the country Republicans people in the middle and
on the left want a Republican Party that`s essentially giving a good fight.
That is giving a good argument about the issues that are important.

HERBERT: I couldn`t agree more.

MADDOW: So we can have a big hashed out discussion about how to fix
our problems. I`m going to be talking more about that later in the show
about something that`s been left out of the campaign. But I think even the
left is rooting for the Republican Party to get its act together, but what
we`ve got is, you know –

HERBERT: Because we don`t want one party. We want two viable
parties.

MADDOW: We want to benefit from somebody who is right winning a real
debate. We`re a long way off.

Bob Herbert, thank you for being here. It`s good to see you.

HERBERT: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: OK. Bob is distinguished senior fellow at Demos. He also is
a contributor at PolicyShop.net.

All right. Florida voters, I have something to tell you about your
particular role in the election this year. In order to vote this year,
you`re going to have to read a slim novel of terrifying power. It`s a
short book, but it`s book length. I will explain in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: The NFL team in Washington, D.C. has the nickname, right?
They are Washington, right? You know that team right? We all call that
team by its name all the time.

Do you ever think about that nickname for a second though? We don`t
need to relitigated the whole thing here. It`s been well-litigated.

But, honestly, what if the equivalent word for Jewish people or black
people or Chinese people or any just other ethnically-defined group of
people were used as a team`s nickname? A lot of colleges including
Syracuse and Stanford and Marquette and Miami of Ohio where Paul Ryan went
decided some time ago that they would stop using words that mean Native
American as their sports mascots? But not the Washington, D.C. pro
football team.

And so we just live with it. That`s just the way it is, which is
weird.

Also weird is the Republican race for Senate in the great state of
Massachusetts. We reported here last night on how the highest profile
Senate race in the country, the Massachusetts between Senator Scott Brown
and Elizabeth Warren has turned into a flat out racial campaign with the
Republican incumbent running against his Democratic challenger just
straight up on the basis of race.

Everybody has been reporting on this campaign as if that fact about it
is normal, but it`s really not normal. It`s not even normal in a country
where we still have Native American football mascots. It`s not normal.

The Brown campaign running on race got worse today. It`s hard to
believe, but it did. That story is ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: The reelection campaign of Republican Senator Scott Brown of
Massachusetts is not afraid of stunts. It`s like an Ann Coulter column, or
(INAUDIBLE) selective edited Planned Parenthood gotcha video, except it`s a
Senate campaign.

So for example, earlier this month on the anniversary of Occupy Wall
Street, Scott Brown`s staffers went to an Elizabeth Warren event and tried
to deliver this cake to her. Get it? Elizabeth Warren is like an Occupy
activist.

So on the anniversary of Occupy, she gets a cake from Scott Brown.
Their stunt was trying to deliver her this melting sheet cake. They failed
to do so, but they were so proud of it, they tweeted a picture of
themselves trying to pull off the stunt.

There`s a long history in this country of political operatives trying
to be provocative, right? Trying to provoke their opponents so that they
do something embarrassing or offensive or otherwise damaging. Or if they
could have that reaction while someone is filming, that would be great.

What I`m about to show you is not that. It`s not run-of-the-mill
provocative politics. It`s not delivering a low-fi, melting, unappealing
sheet cake to your opponent which you find hilarious.

This is different. Here`s the context. At last week`s debate between
Senator Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren, Senator Brown right out of the
gate, before anything was discussed at the first debate at all, first thing
Scott Brown attacked Elizabeth Warren for being Native American because he
says, she looks white to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SCOTT BROWN (R), MASSACHUSETTS: She checked the box claiming she
was a Native American. And, you know, clearly, she`s not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Scott Brown is not just a U.S. Senator. She`s also a one-man
racial litmus test. Why he can spot (INAUDIBLE) at 30 paces. Don`t know
if your great grandmother was Czech or Slovak? Ask Scott Brown. He can
tell.

You know that guy you thought was Russian Jewish, but really he was
black Irish, Scott Brown could tell right away.

He could count the number of white grandparents President Obama had
just by looking at his jaw line or his posture or something. I mean, what
he`s saying here is that`s not a Native American. I mean, come on, look at
her.

Oh, by the way, affirmative action, everybody freak out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: I don`t know and neither do the viewers know whether in fact
she got ahead as a result of that checking of the box.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: How would Senator Brown know if she got ahead by checking a
box? He`s an expert in her ethnic ancestry not on her career, right? That
was on Thursday in their first debate on television. I can`t understand
why it didn`t get more attention nationally. Especially when the Brown
campaign followed it up with an ad intentionally produced, not a gaffe or a
slip of a tongue, their next campaign ad repeated the same jerry-rigged
fake scandal, which is either that you should not vote for Elizabeth Warren
because she`s Native American or that Scott Brown thinks she looks too
white to be Native American. That`s the choice for what they are saying
what the scandal is, depending on how you take his point.

I know the Beltway press is incapable of giving Scott Brown attention
of any kind of any subject, but just in case the fact that he`s running a
race-based reelection campaign has not been clear enough, now it has to be
getting too clear to ignore.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)

MADDOW: In between the time that Scott Brown said in his debate that
Elizabeth Warren essentially looked too white to him to be a real Native
American, and the time he released a campaign ad attacking her for being
Native American, this happened. This is a Scott Brown rally on Saturday.

What you`re looking at and hearing and recoiling from is five Scott
Brown staffers and Republican Party operatives chanting fake war whoops
that are supposed to sound Native American-like. If you believe the
stereotype, right? They are doing the move called the tomahawk chop to
make fun of Native Americans.

The ABC affiliate in Boston identified the Scott Brown staffers as his
deputy chief of staff, his constituent services counsel, his state director
for Massachusetts, his special assistant and a Massachusetts state
Republican Party operative.

He`s got his Senate staff out there doing this. You pay their salary.
This footage was originally posted by the Blue Mass group liberal blog, but
it`s run throughout the Boston media now.

Scott Brown today was asked about the tape by reporters. After
turning down an offer to look at the footage himself, he says he doesn`t
condone this from his staff, but these are his Senate staffers and this is
his campaign for reelection. And this apparently is the 21st century.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: This is what voting looked like last time around in Florida.
Students waiting in line for three hours at the University of Tampa waiting
so long they sat down in the hallway with their homework and at least they
got to wait inside.

At other polling places, voters wait outside in the rain. This
picture here is from early voting. This is the last Sunday before the
election in 2008. People waited through lines that stretched for three
city blocks. Some people brought towels to help others dry off enough to
vote. They brought sandwiches and pizzas, anything to help people hold
out, to stick out, to do what to do what it`s going to take to brave those
long lines and vote. That was for early voting.

The lines were still long on Election Day. One guy showed up at 6:10
in the morning and found 48 people already ahead of him in line, waiting
for a ballot.

Good morning. It`s 10 minutes past 6:00. You`re number 50. Enjoy
the wait. That`s how it went in 2008 last time Florida voted.

This is what the ballot looked like in 2008 in Tampa, in Hillsborough
County, Florida. It`s four pages, two pieces of paper front and back. So,
when all those people were waiting in line, this is the ballot they were
waiting in line for the chance to fill out.

Do you want to see what the ballot looks like this year? Bigger and
it`s six pages on three pieces of paper. They call them cards for voting,
but it`s six pages. Three cards, front and back.

There are 15 referendum questions. They are printed in full. These
are not summaries. The ballot is more than 2,500 words long. That`s not
even counting the races where you vote for people, like say, Mitt Romney or
Barack Obama.

We`re talking 2,500 words plus of just the other ballot questions that
aren`t about candidates and who is running for president and senator and
all the rest. Look at this page. Can you find the ballot question on this
page? Yes, down there at the bottom. You`re supposed to mark here at the
end of the blubber rendering scene in Moby Dick.

And Tampa`s ballot, this ballot is actually quite short compared to
some of the other ones in Florida this year. Tampa voters get six pages to
wade through. The ballot in Miami-Dade this year is ten pages, 10 giant
pages filled with tiny type. It`s happening all over the state. The
election supervisor in Monroe County down in the Florida Keys calls the
ballot there, a monster.

In Pinellas County, the supervisor of elections says this is the
longest ballot I can remember. The voter who sees this ballot the first
time may need smelling salts.

These huge ballots take awhile to read. They take a while to fill
out. And then you have to stand there and scan it in, right? Page after
page.

And even before this year`s monster ballots, Florida knows they have a
problem with long lines to vote.

So, with these monster ballots definitely set to slow things down even
further this year, what is the state of Florida done to make sure everybody
can get through the lines in time? Well, they have cut early voting days
this year. To make sure the lines will be even longer. Yes.

In 2008, hundreds of thousands more Democrats than Republicans voted
early in Florida. Turn up in Florida went up by 800,000 people. And this
guy, the Democratic candidate for president, won Florida and won the
election.

Now that guy is on the ballot again this year. So they are not going
to make the same mistake. Yes, who knows if it`s connected, but Florida`s
Republican governor for this it election cut the days for early voting
almost in half.

Yesterday, a federal judge removed the last hurdle to Florida`s new
law. It`s true. Florida voters are going to have fewer days this year
when they can cast a ballot this big. Even though the ballot they have to
cast is totally, unprecedentedly giant.

A new poll today from “The Florida Times-Union” finds the president
with a slim lead of three points over Mitt Romney in Florida. The lead is
built on support from African-American voters and Hispanic voter who
apparently are going for Obama by 32 points.

A new report from the nonpartisan Advancement Project details legal
changes put in place by Republican state officials for this election.
Changes that it will make it harder to vote or to register to vote in those
states. Voter purges and curtailing early voting and making it harder to
register and requiring people to show documentation in order to vote that
you never had to show before, and that not all legal voters have, voting
changes in nearly 2,000 states have made voting harder in ways the
Advancement Project says could keep 10 million Latino citizens from signing
up to vote and voting.

In the swing states of Colorado, Florida, and Virginia, the new laws
affect more Hispanic voters than the entire margin of Democratic victory in
those states in 2008. Hold on, there`s more.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSE DIAZ-BALART, TELEMUNDO: Is it time to reconsider foreign aid to
countries where many of the people don`t want us around?

How would you as president manage the continuing issues of the Arab
Spring differently?

Would you consider the current Egyptian regime an ally of the United
States?

Should the Castro brothers or President Chavez of Venezuela worry
about a Romney presidency?

What would you tell Latino families looking at you asking for
reelection and say, well, what about us? What ware the plans for us?

What`s your plan to reach Latinos and why are you so far below
President Obama in preference?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: That was all Jose Diaz-Balart, news anchor and reporter for
Telemundo, living the dream I dream of, interviewing both President Obama
and Mitt Romney in public, on TV, instead of just on the back of my eyelids
at 3:00 in the morning, which is how I interviewed both of those gentlemen.

Mr. Diaz-Balart is also host of the Sunday morning public affairs show
“Enfoque,” and he joins us tonight for the interview here on THE RACHEL
MADDOW SHOW.

Mr. Diaz-Balart, welcome. It`s nice to have you here. Thank you.

DIAZ-BALART: Please call me Jose and I`m living a dream by being on
your show.

MADDOW: Flattery will get you everywhere.

All right. First, obviously, congratulations on those interviews. I
learned a lot from watching them.

In his conversation with you, President Obama predicted the Republican
Party would need to make some changes. They`d be forced to reevaluate
specifically their approach to immigration reform. And I think the cross-
country punditry is always suspect.

But do you think Republicans are going to come to agree with that?

DIAZ-BALART: They better. They better. Let`s talk about the
Hispanic community for a minute, 50.5 million living in the United States,
many as 20 million could be eligible to vote, maybe 12 million will vote
this next November 6th.

If a political party believes they can ignore, turn their back or not
even deal with some of the main issues, a large group of voters really
cares about, if really any political party believes they can just ignore
that issue, I was born in Fort Lauderdale, very close to the Everglades, I
have some land they can build high-rises on if they think they can ignore
that kind of population.

Rachel, let`s remember – every month in the United States of America,
50,000 Latino kids turn 18 years of age, 18 equals potential voters. And
you know what? They are watching and they are listening to what political
leaders are saying and doing and not doing.

So you know, this is an important issue that I think the president,
you know, spoke of it very specifically. They better realize – both
political parties better realize this is a force not going away and it`s
only going to get bigger, as big as 50,000 new potential voters every
month.

MADDOW: You know, I think the Democrats take comfort in the margins
that they have with Latino voters nationwide looking broadly at that
population. But every time you talk to Republicans about it, they say,
yes, but it`s a sleeping giant. There are, as you said, maybe 20 million
people, 21 million people eligible to vote, but we`re only expecting only
12 million of them to turn out at best and that`s the best case scenario
for the Democrat.

Is there a key to unlocking Latino voter enthusiasm and turn out in
registration?

DIAZ-BALART: Yes, ask Sharron Angle why she`s not a senator in
Nevada. Let`s talk about enthusiasm there and ask Harry Reid why he
continues to be the leader of the Senate in this country and who helped him
win reelection. And some say it wasn`t as much Harry Reid winning
reelection as Sharron Angle losing an election where immigration was center
of the discussion for many months.

I`ve got to tell you something, you know something? The big issue
that President Obama needs to worry about, and is worried about as far as
the Latino community is concerned, is that they will come out to vote. No
one doubts these numbers. The NBC/”Wall Street Journal” poll, Telemundo
poll, every month shows, as a matter of fact, the gap increasing. More
Latinos are supporting Obama than they are Romney month after month after
month.

But I am not convinced that they are all going to come out to vote for
a number of reasons this coming November.

MADDOW: I terms of what would move them? Do you think it`s policy or
something about the way the campaigns are trying to goose that turn out?

DIAZ-BALART: Well, you know, that`s a great question. I think policy
has a lot to do with it. I think the president`s deferred action, this
unilateral decision he took to help maybe 1.5 million young kids that know
no other country but this country that are willing to serve in the United
States armed forces and give their life for this country, know no other
country, don`t even speak the language from the country they were
originally brought from, with no decision on their part, their parents
brought them in.

Those kids, for example, are now being able to come out from under the
shadows of fear and darkness in this country. Even it`s a two-year period,
but it helps. That helps.

These are the issues that are going to have a lot to do with the
elections.

MADDOW: Jose Diaz-Balart, anchor-reporter for Telemundo – Jose, I
have been a long-time fan of yours. I hope that you will come back. I
hope you don`t mind being here. It was great to have you.

DIAZ-BALART: It`s a pleasure to be with you. Thank you.

MADDOW: Thank you. Appreciate it.

All right. President Obama addressed the United Nations General
Assembly here in New York today, which should have done something it did
not do in our politics. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here in the United
States, countless publications provoke offense. Like me, the majority of
Americans are Christian, and yet we do not ban blasphemy against our most
sacred beliefs. As president of our country and commander-in-chief of our
military, I accept people are going to call me awful things every day. And
I will always defend their right to do so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: President Obama speaking today at the U.N. here in New York.
One of the times on the campaign presidential trail when you get the
advantage of the incumbency thing, leading of the free world, standing at
the lectern at the U.N., with all the amazing green marbles, speaking as
head of state, addressing other state, getting to talk about yourself as
commander in chief.

And although the president was not campaigning at the U.N. today,
there`s nothing like those optics for the guys who are running to replace
him. Still, though, they`re doing what they ought to be doing. Mitt
Romney today working airport rope lines in Ohio. Paul Ryan also in Ohio
this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Here`s the killer.
President Obama just the other day, he said on TV that I can`t change
Washington from the inside. Why do we send presidents to the White House
in the first place? Isn`t that why we send presidents to Washington, to
change Washington?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: This is parentally the new thing that Mitt Romney and Paul
Ryan are trying to turn into a thing that President Obama said it`s hard to
change Washington from the inside. Mitt Romney is on record saying the
exact same thing on the presidential campaign trail, but apparently they
want it to be a scandal that President Obama said the exact thing that Mitt
Romney said, which of course is ridiculous.

But I highlight that speech from Paul Ryan in Ohio yesterday for the
reason other than the hypocrisy of the dumb change in Washington line. And
the reason I highlight it is because Paul Ryan new stump speech which is he
is airing out this week is now tentatively branching out into foreign
policy. Kind of.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN: I mean, turn on the TV and it remind you of 1979 Tehran, but
they`re burning our flags in capitals all around the world. They`re
storming our embassies. We`ve lost four of our diplomats and what is the
signal that our government is sending the rest of the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Remind you of 1979.

See, Paul Ryan wants to look like President Obama is like one-term
Democratic President Jimmy Carter and so, therefore in that little page,
Mitt Romney would be cast as Ronald Reagan, which is funny no matter how
you feel about Ronald Reagan.

But it`s notable that he`s even trying in a campaign that`s been
unwilling and sometimes unable to even engage basically on the issue of
America in the larger world. He`s finally trying to do it. I mean,
they`ve been willing to turn foreign calamities and anti-American incidents
into political fodder when they can.

But in terms of what they`re going to do, on even just say the issue
of war we`re in right now, they have really been unwilling to engage.
Maybe this means they`ll start. So far, I mean – famously, Mr. Romney
didn`t mention the war in Afghanistan at all. He explained in speeches
like that you don`t go through a laundry list. You go through things that
are important. The war wasn`t important to him.

But it`s not just specifically Afghanistan. I mean, here`s another
one. If you go to Mitt Romney`s official Web site right now, and you type
the word drones into the search box on the Web site because you want to
know his position. You will find three results. Three.

One result is Mr. Romney criticizing Mr. Obama after a drone crashed
in Iran. Then there`s a policy paper criticizing the Obama administration
for talking about drones to news outlets like “The New York Times” and you
have one of the is your gates for killing Osama bin Laden.

If you want to know what his policy is, by using flying killer robots
to do it, the answer is that he also thinks killing bin Laden was a good
idea. He wouldn`t talk to “The New York Times” about drones, and he
wouldn`t crash one in Iran. Those are apparently his big ideas on the
subject.

Any questions? It is days like this when you realize that however
important this presidential campaign is and however important this decision
is, that we as a country have to make between these two candidates, our
politics are essentially failing right now. Our politics are essentially
impotent now for vexing, moral strategic policy questions like this one.

Choosing between candidates is supposed to be the way we choose
between policies in important thing that affect or country, including
national security. But our politics have been allowed to shrink to the
point where if one side doesn`t want to talk about foreign policy and the
use of military force, while we are using it, then we`re just not going to
debate that as a country. Let people in Washington figure it out. We`re
not going to give any input.

A new report out today from researchers at Stanford and NYU says that
our secret drone policy, which we`ve been implementing for the better part
of a decade, may be radicalizing the residents of a nuclear country with a
very large population and a weak central government. We`re really not
going to debate that at all. That`s not a policy matter that`s worth some
national discussion. No competing ideas up for discussion on this about
maybe a change in course.

I mean, this is what the Democratic president is doing. The
Republican Party has no competing ideas on this at all? Nothing to say?

With this policy, due process that we afford people, who we kill
people using this particularly means of killing, the due process ultimately
consists of the president of the United States making the call, kill or
don`t kill. This is a remarkable thing that we are doing purely in the
president say so, but we are in process of picking who`s going to be the
next president and we`re not asking where these two men stand on that issue
or how they use that power, or if they think they should have that power,
whether that power should actually exist.

If we`re not going to ask these questions now, then when exactly are
we going to ask them? I mean, look at what`s going on right now this week.
You have President Obama at the U.N. today talking about the United States
policy on Afghanistan and Pakistan. You have Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton meeting the president of Pakistan on that same day that an
absolutely shocking report comes out about the consequences of what we are
doing in Pakistan with the drones?

You have the developing story of the brand new drone strike in
Pakistan yesterday that killed al Qaeda leader. But reports on these
things often change after the fact, who knows?

You have all this stuff happening all at once, and you have a
presidential campaign that`s red hot. But the conversation in the
presidential campaign when it comes to this stuff is he seems like Jimmy
Carter. I read that Jimmy Carter was a one-term president once. Really?

That`s all you`ve got? How about this? What would you do differently
if the answer is we`d be stronger – that`s not an answer. We deserve a
politics that is capable of giving us choices or at least setting up a
debate between competing reasonable ideas about how to handle the most
controversial things that our government does in our names.

Our politics show be about the hard issues, not the stupid now. I
know what the Obama administration`s position is on Afghanistan, because
he`s the president and it`s their policy. I have no idea what Mitt Romney
would do different in Afghanistan, if anything.

I know what the Obama`s administration`s position is on drones. I
frankly find that position hair-raising. I have not idea what Romney would
do differently on drones if anything.

I know what the Obama administration`s position is on Pakistan. I
know that Mitt Romney thinks Pakistan is very important. But is it
inconceivable somebody who can get an interview with Mitt Romney could ask
him why and how and what his plan would be when it comes to that nuclear-
armed country, how they feel about us right now?

Politics is really all engrossing and it can really fun. But it
should move us some distance tort debate and decision making on the hardest
problems that we face as a country. That is not what we`re getting from
our politics right now. If we`re not getting it now, when are we going to
get it?

Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O`Donnell.

Have a great night.

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

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