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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 08/24/12

Guests: Chris Hayes

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Hi. Happy Friday. Thank for your staying with us for the next hour. It`s been kind of an exciting day. It`s actually, I have to say, been sort of a weird day for us at our offices here at THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW. If you go to our blog right now at, you`ll see that we have posted video that the bass player from Nirvana sent us. It is video of him throwing our Swedish, horrible-tasting licorice candy to his pet goats. It`s fine for them. And they like it, kind of. Krist Novoselic from Nirvana sent this video to us today because that`s how awesome it is to work here. Frankly, the whole staff has kind of been diverted for months now into an investigation of ammonium chloride, which is what is in that horrible- tasting candy. We have been investigating. We worked with a chemist to look at ammonium chloride`s effects on clear calcium deposits from the urethras of goats. It`s very distracting. And, frankly, we might have abandoned this investigation earlier had the bassist from Nirvana not been helping us with our scientific experimentation on it. Here he is eating some of the candy before he gave it to his goats. We are such fans of Krist Novoselic and of Nirvana that honestly this thing is going to go on forever for us. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KRIST NOVOSELIC, NIRVANA BAND: He`s sniffing. He`s chewing. He`s eating Lakrisal. This is good for you. Good medicine. This is Apollo. Apollo, eat the Lakrisal. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: And there`s more. All of the details are at right now if you want them. Honestly, more detail than you ever wanted on the subject of Lakrisal aluminum chloride and Krist Novoselic`s goats. You know, in life, you get guitar heroes, right? Music is important to us as humans. Depending on what kind of music you like and who was popular at formative times in your life, it can be an emotional touchstone for you, right? You follow these folks to the end of the earth or the rolling hills outside of Seattle where the goats are. I mean, as humans, we are wired to have a powerful emotional connection to music. Not everybody has it but most of us have it. I certainly have it. When you try to use that connection, people`s emotional connection to certain bands, for some other purpose like for a political purpose, say, like maybe you want a specific band to be playing your private gala for your highest dollar donors at your political convention, well, let`s say you want to do that. The question of which band do you pick for that kind of role is a hard thing to calibrate, right? This is an emotional thing. You have to count on your donors being into that band, knowing who they are, knowing what they sound like, having a positive emotional reaction to it, liking them, not finding it cheesy. The Romney folks have picked a band for their convention party that they`re setting up for their biggest donors. It`s a band, honestly, that I like very much and have my whole life. Their biggest hit was in 1981. So from the Romney campaign`s perspective, they picked 1981, honestly, as the emotional target for when people might have bonded with this particular band`s music. If that`s the target year they`re picking for some reason, I mean, 1981 must have been a hard choice because 1981 was a spectacular year for American music. (MUSIC) MADDOW: Kool & the Gang "Celebration," also known in our way too young office as the bar mitzvah song. Kool & the Gang "Celebration", that was 1981. Also -- (MUSIC) MADDOW: "Crazy Train," Ozzy Osbourne. Best intro to a song ever. That was in 1981. Also -- (MUSIC) MADDOW: "Super Freak" by Rick James. How did this all happen in one year in one country, we`re the greatest country on earth? How about this? (MUSIC) MADDOW: "Stray Cat Strut". I`m a lady`s cat. That was 1981. God, I love that. Or this one? (MUSIC) MADDOW: Just can`t get enough by Depeche Mode. Were you a new waver? More people in 1981 learned that intro on the piano than one finger intro on the piano than learned chopsticks, I swear. 1981 also -- (MUSIC) MADDOW: Devo, "Whip it" good. 1981 was a great year in American music. It was also the "Back in Black" year from AC/DC, right? 1981 was kind of a breakthrough year, in particular in the United States for alternative and new wave and punk music. A lot of the stuff we were listening to was British, but a lot of stuff we are listening was American. I mean, that was the year the Dead Kennedys did "Nazi Punks blank Off". (MUSIC) MADDOW: Which must to my parents` chagrin, I learned every word to. Even the words I was not allowed to say at the time I learned that song. 1981 was a spectacular year for music, and the Mitt Romney for president campaign has decided that for their high dollar donors, for the people who are committed to raising more than a quarter of a million dollars to elect Mitt Romney president this year, they have decided to reward these donors with a special VIP, closed to the press event. For the talent for that event, they have reached deep into the deep well of amazing music that came out in 1981 and they found this. (MUSIC VIDEO CLIP PLAYS) MADDOW: Who does not like the Oak Ridge Boys? Who among us does not love the Oak Ridge Boys? Come on. This song, "Elvira," was their biggest hit in 1981. That`s going to be who is playing the Mitt Romney bundlers-only, closed to the press, private reception at the VIP lounge they have set up just for their bundlers on the fifth floor of the Tampa Bay Times forum arena in downtown Tampa for the duration of the Republican convention. The Romney campaign has also reserved two bundler specific hotels for their high dollar donors. The Westin Tampa Harbor Island Hotel, and another one nearby in St. Petersburg. What`s awkward here, of course, is that the Romney campaign is the first presidential campaign in modern American history to not disclose who their bundlers are. But they are nevertheless setting up a special VIP room for the bundlers at the convention site and they`re setting up special hotels for the bundlers. So, even though it`s secret who they are, presumably, if you stake out those spots next week in Tampa, you will be able to start to put together a list of who the secret Romney bundlers are. Even if they don`t disclose them. You`ll just know, because they`re going in the VIP room, right? As we get closer to the launch of this convention, a lot of Republicans are already in Tampa. But we`re starting to learn more, sort of hour by hour, including from good reporters like Michael Isikoff -- he`s going to join us in just a moment -- we`re starting to learn more and more about what is going to happen at the convention and what places in downtown Tampa are key to the sort of movement of power and influence around the Republican nomination for president. And so, physically here, the one that`s marked farthest from the right, that is the Miriam Adelson Pavilion in Tampa next week. Remember when Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan`s PAC, the Young Guns? Remember when the Young Guns decided they were going to paint themselves pink and call themselves women-friendly during the whole war on women kerfuffle? The Young Guns decided the way they`re womaning up for the Republican convention is that they`re naming a pavilion at the convention, at the RNC, for Sheldon Adelson`s wife. Yes. And over here, here`s an important spot. This is Jackson`s Bistro Restaurant. Quoting from the "Tampa Tribune," this is kind of remarkable. "Perhaps no restaurant in Tampa is as big or will enjoy as big a view of the RNC as Jackson`s Bistro on Harbor Island. The pastoral terraces overlook the convention center and the forum where the convention will take place. Anyone hoping to enjoy that view during the RNC however will need an invitation and a very exclusive invitation at that. Listen to this -- the massive restaurant will close to the public for the whole week of the Republican National Convention. The owners say they will be serving a single customer, one unnamed lobbyist from Washington who will host breakfasts, lunches, and dinners throughout the week for hundreds of VIPs. The whole restaurant the whole week? Yes. Also, just around the corner from where Mr. Romney will be accepting the Republican nomination for president, on the same day, in fact, there will be a gala reception for zillionaire donor David Koch of the Koch brothers. The right-wing, corporate-funded, astroturfy group Americans for Prosperity will be hosting a celebration in honor of their benefactor, David Koch, along with fellow Republican zillionaire donor Art Pope. The event is being called "A salute to entrepreneurs building America." A salute to entrepreneurs. It should, at this point, be noted that both David Koch and Art Pope, who are the two men being saluted at this entrepreneur event, both of them became fabulously wealthy by inheriting companies from their fathers. Neither of these guys founded a company or invented something. They both were born very, very, very wealthy and then inherited dad`s business. Those are the entrepreneurs we`re saluting for building America, Republicans whose inherited wealth, who inherited wealth and then used it to build political influence for themselves. We`re saluting them at the convention, incidentally, that will nominate the son of Michigan`s governor who was also the head of American Motors who is a second generation presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, who is still refusing to disclose his tax returns. After declaring not just his tax returns but also his business record off limits for the campaign, during an interview with NBC`s Chuck Todd that you`ll be able to see tonight here on MSNBC right after this program, we`re showing that documentary, Mitt Romney is now saying his business record is back. He wrote an op-ed for "The Wall Street Journal" today that was titled "What I learned at Bain Capital." We have not had a businessman as president since Herbert Hoover. But Mitt Romney is now making the argument that I have the skills to run the country, because look, I ran a company called Bain. What I learned from running this company is what I will apply to running the country. And that argument is the reason that Mr. Romney`s tax returns still end up being a germane and key question for the campaign, even this late in the game, even heading into their convention. Because what we have seen about what Mr. Romney learned at Bain, it is about obviously how to accumulate tons of money but also specifically how to shield it from American taxation. And that definitely worked well toward the project of making him a very, very, very rich person. Avoiding taxes and regulation can be a strategy for one guy or one company to get rich in America. But of course, how do you extrapolate that to being president? I mean, avoiding taxes can`t be America`s strategy for getting rich as a country. What are we going to do? Evade ourselves? What is striking about this Republican National Convention as we get more information about what exactly is going to be happening day by day next week is how high profile all of the Adelson, Koch brothers, Karl Rove, high dollar donor stuff is and how comparatively low profile the Republican Party is. At the last Republican convention, when we had a Republican president and a Republican vice president who I should note were very deeply disliked in the country, the Republicans at least were able to say that the reason that President Bush and Vice President Cheney couldn`t be there was because of tropical storm Gustav. This year, they`re not counting on tropical storm Isaac or anything else to keep their political history away from the RNC. We knew even before we knew the storm track of Isaac, the storm track of anything, that George W. Bush would not be there, Dick Cheney would not be there. Even the last vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin would not be there. The last presidential nominee, John McCain, he will be there, but he`s getting an undercard speaking slot right between Mitch McConnell and a former MSNBC legal analyst who is now the state attorney general in Florida, a woman named Pam Bondi. McCain is between McConnell and Bondi. Former Republican presidents and Republicans with major political accomplishments do not seem to be the stars of this event. The big stuff, the big show offy stuff, the whole point of the event, the people for whom the really good talent is being saved -- it`s the zillionaires. (MUSIC) MADDOW: It`s really the money that is the star of the show, "Elvira". Joining us now is NBC news national investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff. Mike, it`s nice to see you. Thank you for being here. MICHAEL ISIKOFF, NBC NEWS NATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Great to be with you, Rachel. MADDOW: I know you`re not pursuing this line of inquiry because you are interested in sneaking in to see the Oak Ridge Boys. But I have to ask if most of these events that you`ve been able to report on, that are happening at the event, around these big donors, whether most of them are open to the press or whether most of them are going to be closed doors. ISIKOFF: Well, actually, funny you should ask, because most of them are closed doors. I learned about many of these by getting the schedules from GOP fund-raisers and consultants who`ve been getting these invitations, but one of the most prominent ones which you mentioned, the salute to David Koch, oddly enough, is a public one. And I actually went on the Americans for Prosperity Web site today, registered for the event. It appears I can bring a guest, so I know you have some anchoring responsibilities, but if you would like to salute David Koch, you`re more than welcome to join me. MADDOW: Well, if I held a lottery for that privilege on the staff, I would be trampled by the people trying to participate in it, so I might have to defer. Mike, the conventions are always sort of slurries of cash. They`re always sort of slurries of lobbying events. It happens on both sides. Certainly, the Democrats pet their donors in the same way that the Republicans do historically. But is there something different about the scale or the relative emphasis that`s happening at the RNC this year. As I said in the intro, it feels to me like the highest profile events and the highest profile positions at the RNC are really about these donors. ISIKOFF: Well, first of all, this is the year of the mega donor. Post-Citizens United and we`re seeing these astounding sums being poured into the race, $30 million so far by Sheldon Adelson and predictions that he may go up to $100 million. The Americans for Prosperity has put out it`s going to spend as much as $150 million, much of that is believed to be Koch brothers money. So we`re seeing the sorts of sums that we have not seen for quite some time. And so in some respects, this is a coming out party for the mega donors like David Koch and Sheldon Adelson, and they`re being much more public than they have before. But also it is a big noteworthy because Congress back in 2007 after the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal imposed new ethics rules that were supposed to put very tight curbs on these types of events. In fact, lobbying entities were barred from throwing parties for a member of Congress. But sure enough, clever lawyering and some interesting ethics rulings, interpretations of that, have sort of thrown open the bar so we`re basically back where we started. Instead of honoring individual members of Congress, the lobbyists are honoring groups of members of Congress. The Congressional Yacht Caucus, the Oklahoma delegation -- I brought a whole bunch of these with me. And you know, so that`s one sort of way they`re skirting the rules. I did talk to Jack Abramoff today about all this who said absolutely nothing has changed. Jack Abramoff will be there, by the way, as a commentator for "Inside Edition." And he`s saying basically of the old games that were in play that led to these congressional lobbying restrictions are back in play in a very big way at this convention. MADDOW: I`m just imagining all of these lobbyists wearing those tool belts they wear to make change at the ballpark whey you buy a beer, just like cashing out right there at the restaurant, cashing out right there at the VIP rooms. It`s going to be quite a sight. Michael Isikoff, NBC News national investigative correspondent -- Mike, thanks very much. Happy Tampa. ISIKOFF: Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: All right. Chris Hayes is going to be joining us just ahead. The last time we talked to Chris Hayes on a Friday night, remember what happened? Like moments after we talked to Chris, the whole news cycle blew open with a Friday night leak about who the vice presidential nominee was going to be. That`s what happens the last time we talked to Chris on a Friday night. Let`s see what happens this time. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: When it comes to rape and when it comes to the issue of should it be legal for a woman to be able to get an abortion -- REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So, I`m very proud of my pro-life record and I have always adopted the idea, the position that the method of conception doesn`t change the definition of life. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Now, when Paul Ryan said the method of conception, what he`s talking about is rape. That`s what he`s talking about in terms of policy. That rape victims should be forced by the government to bear the child of the rapist. In terms of politics, the reason the presumptive vice presidential nominee of the Republican Party is giving news interviews about rape in the final days before the Republican National Convention is, of course, because of this guy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. TODD AKIN (R), MISSOURI: I may not be the favorite candidate of some people within the Republican establishment. But the voters made a decision. REPORTER: Is there anyone or anything that could make you change your mind? AKIN: Claire McCaskill would withdraw and give the election to me, that might be a consideration. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: You know what? Claire McCaskill is not going to withdraw and give the election to you. In fact, Claire McCaskill is going to beat you. Before last week, Todd Akin was ahead in the Missouri Senate race because Missouri as a state is trending pretty red. But Todd Akin is not ahead in that race anymore. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) AKIN: If it`s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Yes, that guy is no longer ahead. I know it`s shocking. Since then, it seems like it took about a day or so for Missouri to digest what had just happened with Todd Akin. There was a pop-up poll done immediately after his remarks, and it did not show a big change in the race. Mr. Akin was still ahead of Claire McCaskill by a point, but then as soon as people absorbed he really had said that thing about legitimate rape in describing his view that rape victims should be forced by the government to bear the child of their rapist, the polls started to look like this. This one taken on Wednesday, three days after his now famous remarks, Mr. Akin is losing by 10 points to Claire McCaskill. And so, yes, the Republican Party does not want Todd Akin to stay in the race against McCaskill. But the Republican Party would very much like Todd Akin to disappear. Short of that, they would like him to stay as far away from the news cycle as possible, because when Mr. Akin is in the news, the fact that Paul Ryan agrees with Todd Akin on forcing rape victims to bear the child of their rapists, that fact is also in the news. So, needless to say, Republican U.S. Senate nominee Todd Akin is totally not invited to the RNC. He is specifically and publicly not invited to the party`s national convention. Today, though, Democratic groups are pointing out that the RNC has invited to the convention the guy who has become perhaps Todd Akin`s biggest defender and advocate, not to mention a fellow force rape victims to bear the child of their rapist policy enthusiast. I`m talking, of course, about Mike Huckabee. He has a primetime headline speaking assignment, and Mike Huckabee has not only rushing to Todd Akin`s defense this week, he`s trying to help Todd Akin raise money. Mr. Huckabee sent a blast e-mail to his fans and supporters yesterday, saying, quote, "Is this what the party really thinks of principled pro-life advocates? I`m waiting from the apology from whoever the genius was on the high pedestals of our party who thought it wise to not only shoot our wounded but run over him with tanks and trucks and then feed his body to the liberal wolves. I will join Todd as often as I can in his fight for our party`s pro-life policies. If the National Republican Senatorial Committee and RNC and the money rich PACs wouldn`t help Todd Akin get to the majority, then we`ll do it without them." So, Todd Akin who has basically been expunged from the party while trying to justify his policy position that pregnant, rape victim should be forced against their will to bear the rapist child, statement, he cannot come to the Republican National Convention. But Mike Huckabee who believes the same thing in terms of policy and who is inveighing against the Republican Party for being so mean to Akin, he is a primetime Republican national convention headliner. The Republican Party`s problem on this issue is that Todd Akin problem specifically. Their problem is that Todd Akin`s vision for women`s rights and a crackdown on rape victims and invest victims is a common position among elected Republican leaders and candidates right now. It is, in fact, the position of their brand new vice presidential nominee. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: When it comes to rape and the issue of should it be legal for a woman to be able to get an abortion if she`s -- RYAN: I`m very proud of my pro-life record. And I have always adopted the idea, the position that the method of conception doesn`t change the definition of life. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Rape doesn`t change what we`re going to force this woman to do. Paul Ryan, just like Todd Akin wants the government to have the power to regulate the pregnancies of rape victims and incest victims to insure the government`s chosen outcome even if it`s against your will, even if it`s against your doctor`s will. But don`t worry, the argument goes, he`s only going to be vice president. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RYAN: But let`s remember, I`m joining the Romney/Ryan ticket. And the president makes policy. The president in this case, the future president, Mitt Romney, has exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother, which is a vast improvement of where we are right now. Mitt Romney is going to be president and the president sets policy. His policy for exceptions for rape, incest, and life of mother. I`m comfortable with it because it`s a good step in the right direction. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Good step in the right direction. Vast improvement. What he`s saying is that overturning Roe versus Wade and criminalizing abortion except in cases of rape, incest or the risk of a woman`s death, that would be a step in there right direction. A step in the right direction toward what he actually wants, what Paul Ryan would do with a hypothetical Paul Ryan presidency, what he has been trying to do in Congress, which is criminalize abortion for everybody, including rape victims and incest victims. And so, on the Friday before the Republican convention, rape policy and the split down the Republican ticket over who is more of a hard-liner against rape victims -- not rapists, but against rape victims, is what the country is talking about with regard to the Republicans` presidential ticket. This is the conversation heading into their nominating convention which Todd Akin or no Todd Akin is not a situation they want to be in. This is not what they wanted all their local TV interviews to be about at that point. That`s probably something they should have thought about when they picked Paul Ryan to be their vice presidential nominee, because the Democrats are now counting even people who might otherwise be OK with Republicans, even people who are themselves Republicans not being OK with this stuff. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPO) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was a Republican most of my life. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am still registered Republican. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was raised in a very Republican, conservative family. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of the things that makes me really upset about it is the attitude toward birth control, contraceptives and abortion. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you truly believe in a small government, that government shouldn`t be deciding what I can and can`t do with my own body. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m very concerned about Mitt Romney`s policies concerning women`s rights. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He wants to reverse Roe v. Wade. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t even want to think about them having control. As a woman, I don`t. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you`re a conservative woman and you believe in small government, then Barack Obama is your candidate because he`s keeping the government out of the decisions that should remain between you and God and you and your own conscience. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The Obama/Biden campaign has posted that today. Todd Akin did not create this problem for the Republicans, but he did bring this problem they have right out into the open, and the Democrats are pressing their advantage on it, and because of that, we are now about to see how big a problem it is for the whole country with the whole country paying attention to this when the Republicans least want them to be doing that. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Hey, tonight, the schedule for the Republican National Convention changed. You might have heard, you might have been planning on the fact that Ann Romney was going to be speaking on Monday night. That`s the night of the convention that is most in the crosshairs of tropical storm Isaac. But even regardless of Isaac, the Republicans seems to have realized that Monday night will be covered by cable news, like us, but it will not be covered by the networks. And so, they have decided to move Ann Romney out of Monday night. They`re not going to put Ann Romney on Monday night anymore. They will get a chance to get covered her on network TV by moving her to another day. And more important, they will get a chance now to move something else into Monday. Something else into Monday that maybe they wanted to bury, maybe they didn`t want at all to be on network TV. What`s that? That`s coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The man we`re about to show on the screen is not President Obama. But he would like to play President Obama on TV or at your next party, perhaps. He works for a living as a Barack Obama impersonator. On his Web site, he says he will perform at a 30-person party for $300 plus travel. He will work a trade show for $800, again, plus travel. Last week, he posted a picture of him with, I think, the real Donald Trump. Maybe the real Trump, looks like the real Donald Trump. The caption reads, quote, be sure to watch the Republican National Convention, with a little winky face emoticon. The picture was picked up by the Mediate, and I think this screen grab on the screen might be the only copy of it still around. Right around the time of that photo, Donald Trump was busy teasing the public about rumors of what he might do, what kind of role he might play at the Republican convention next week. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, TRUMP ORGANIZATION (via telephone): I`m doing something. I have been asking to speak, but I am doing something that is going to be, I think, really amazing. It`s going to be great, and we`ll see what happens. I mean, we`ll how it`s received, but it will be pretty wild. And I think it will be potent. We`ll see. DON IMUS, RADIO HOST: They have asked you to speak at the convention? TRUMP: Yes, they have. They asked me to speak. I may do, but I don`t think you can do both. You`ll understand when you see what I`m doing. IMUS: Oh, OK. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Oh, OK. The smart kids on the Internet machine are betting he will be showing up at the convention with the Barack Obama impersonator guy he took a picture with, and then he`s going to fire the impersonator, you`re fired. Tada! There was a time with Donald Trump where he was going to run for president himself, remember? He polled great. Last spring, just behind Romney even with Huckabee. Donald Trump`s platform when he was running for president or seemed to be consisted of a single gigantic plank. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: I would like to have him show his birth certificate. Why doesn`t he show his birth certificate? Either he wasn`t born in the country or he doesn`t have a birth certificate. People have birth certificates. He doesn`t have a birth certificate. He doesn`t have a birth certificate or he hasn`t provided it. He`s given us a certificate of life birth. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: He wasn`t born here. He can`t prove it. He won`t give us the longer than long form birth certificate. He`s not a person. Vote for me, fire him. After President Obama did in fact release a long form birth certificate in April 2011, making much fun of Donald Trump in the process, after that, Donald Trump did kind of go away for a while. It seemed like maybe the election had seen the last of him, but then he came back like a hand out of fresh dirt over a grave. He endorsed Governor Romney in February in Las Vegas and he started raising money for him at lots and lots of fund-raisers after he started publicly beating the birther drum again. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: I think if you look at the birth certificate, take a look and you tell me really, you analyze the birth certificate. There are many people that don`t agree with that birth certificate. They don`t think it`s authentic. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Right after Donald Trump said that, Mitt Romney appeared with Donald Trump at a fund-raiser in Las Vegas, right alongside him, both there in person. Yes. Asked how he could be doing a fund-raiser with this guy pushing the birth certificate thing, which Mr. Romney said is totally nothing he believes in, Mr. Romney offered a explanation of why he was doing the fund- raiser. It was a mathematical explanation. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t agree with all of the people who support me and my guess is they don`t believe everything I believe in, but I need to get 50.1 percent or more, and I`m appreciative to get the help of a lot of good people. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That`s why he was doing the Trump thing with the birther thing. Mitt Romney had done the math. It`s not very hard math, but he had done it. He needs 50.1 percent of the vote. The new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll as you have heard this week shows Mitt Romney with zero percent of the African-American electorate. The Romney/Ryan ticket trails there by what I`m not sure you can even characterize as a margin, 94 percent to zero percent. Mr. Romney is losing badly among Latino voters as well. He`s losing Latino voters by a 35-point margin, which is almost exactly the margin by which McCain and Palin lost the Latino vote when they lost to Barack Obama in part because of the low proportion of the Latino vote. Mitt Romney is running out of ways to meet his own low mathematical expectations. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: But I need to get 50.1 percent or more. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: He`s right. He does need 50.1 percent. From this distance, he can`t get there by winning over African-American voters. He`s also really not getting anywhere with Latino voters. A national papers please flank in the Republican platform, really? Mitt Romney`s only hope now is to win over white voters by a very large margin. Today in his home state of Michigan, in the city of Commerce, Michigan, on the eve of the Republican Convention, he said this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: I love being home in this place where Ann and I were raised, where both of us were born. Ann was born at Henry Ford Hospital. I was born in Harper Hospital. No one`s ever asked to see by birth certificate. They know this was the place we were born and raised. (CHEERS) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Nobody`s ever asked to see my birth certificate. Want to know why? Nobody is suspicious of -- over the next few days, you`re going to hear and see and read those words a lot. Almost as soon as he said them, Mr. Romney was asked to defend making these birther comments, this birther joke in Michigan. He did say, hey, it was just a joke. Under the #futureMittjokes, the great Oliver Willis tweeted today, quote, "Nobody wonders if I`m an absentee father." Then he tweeted, quote, "Every assumes if I have a gun, it`s really just for hunting." Future Mitt jokes, 50.1 percent. Every vote counts. The ones you have written off and the ones you might get if it looks like you are willing to write-off certain others. Why would he make a birther joke on the way to the Republican National Convention? Does the Romney campaign think there is an upside here? Do they think it helps them if they somehow reward and comfort and proverbially clap on the shoulder anyone who is the kind of person who still holds a deep seeded feeling that this man should not be an American president? That there`s something illegitimate and un- American about this man being in charge of the government. What will they do to reach that 50.1 percent and what really does help them to get it? Joining us now is Chris Hayes, host of the MSNBC weekend morning show "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES." He`s the author of "Twilight of the Elites: America after Meritocracy." Mr. Hayes, thank you for being here. CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Wonderful to be here. MADDOW: Let me ask you about my overall thesis about the math, which is if you`re performing at the same level as the losing ticket did with Latinos and performing even worse with African-Americans, mathematically, the way you make it up is by winning a larger portion of white vote and potentially by suppressing African-Americans and Latinos who might vote against you. Do -- is this a way to stoke some of the white vote? HAYES: I think there are two things happening here. One, I don`t think the math works out in terms of who are the marginal voters on the fence about voting for Mitt Romney who are going to be persuaded to move into the column to push him over to 50.1 percent who are going to be persuaded by these kind of like sub textual racial appeals? MADDOW: Even people who don`t like President Obama because of racial prejudice but don`t have an interest in the campaign, if they`re being told here, you know what? If you don`t like Obama because of his race, take comfort in our side, we`re with you. Let me make this joke, make you feel better about it? HAYES: Yes. The idea that there`s some -- I think there are number of those voters who might be off line who might be brought online. There`s no one who could be persuaded from one to the other, I think. MADDOW: OK. HAYES: So there`s some group of voters and I think the place the math, 50.1 percent I think is a crucial number because it`s going to be a really close race. Everyone understands that. And this race looks a lot more like 2004 than it looks like 2008. 2004 was a real base election. It was a real base mobilization election. It was the legendary election of the gay marriage amendments that Karl Rove used to motivate folks and evangelical churches getting out to vote. It was really about that battle about mobilizing the base, and I think that is increasingly dawning actually on both sides, but Romney particularly. The other thing I think Romney is doing here -- and Dave Weigel had a smart piece way back when Romney first was locking up the nomination. They started this idiotic troll war over Barack Obama eating dog in his biography. There was this stupid back and forth about you`re going to make Seamus jokes and we`re going to make jokes about you eating dog. And what Dave said something makes conservatives like you more than liberals hating you. MADDOW: Yes. HAYES: And so, what this is, it`s a ricochet strategy. You`re never going to love Mitt Romney, but if liberals hate Mitt Romney enough, maybe conservatives will like him enough. MADDOW: This is what I feel like it is. I feel like this is bait. I feel like this is, hey liberals, complain -- in particular, complain about racism. HAYES: Right. MADDOW: Because if you are complaining about racism, your flaming liberal outrage by the light of your flaming liberal outrage, I look better. HAYES: Yes, I think that`s right, and I think there is resentment in -- there`s a very complicated psychological experience of how people think about race in the Obama era. Something we`re going to talk about in the show tomorrow. But particularly, I think there`s a hair trigger resentment among a certain cohort of white voters to be accused of racism or to feel anyone who doesn`t like Barack Obama and is white is therefore racist and if those charges come out, that creates a solidarity with Mitt Romney who is, of course, a victim of the great political correctness machine. MADDOW: Do you think that is also motivated the welfare attacks? So, we`ve got five ads on welfare in two and a half weeks when essentially accused President Obama on a totally nonfactual basis of being the president of lazy welfare recipients who don`t want to work but want your money? HAYES: Now, the hilarious thing is that in the meta moment, I am now going to take the bait. Because I`m now sitting on THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW on MSNBC being like, those ads are super racists, but no. I mean, it is very difficult when you look at the history of attacks on redistribution, attacks on redistribution, particularly around welfare, have had a very loaded racial subtext forever. You`ll note in the Romney ads, there`s not a single African-American that appears in one. MADDOW: There`s the back of one guy`s head. HAYES: Back of one guy -- everyone else, it`s a multiracial look of the American worker or the people on welfare. None of them are black. They understand what the history of the racial subtext is, but they also understand how that appeal and that charge that that person is taking your tax dollars and giving it to someone else, how it resonates in the Obama era in which you do not have to state the race of who that recipient is. MADDOW: It`s stoking economic resentment, the racial underlying of economic insecurity turns into racial resentment, but it`s also baiting liberals to complain about them being racist on this subject, which makes them look good by the fact they`re defending themselves from racism charges, right? HAYES: Yes. Right. That`s complicated. You`re giving them a lot of credit. I also think Mitt Romney just like wanted the crowd to like him today. And he said something -- MADDOW: I thought that until I saw the tape. I think it was totally planned. Anyway, I don`t live inside his head. Thank Christ. Thank you, Chris Hayes -- the host of "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES," weekends on MSNBC. The new book from Chris is called "Twilight of the Elites." OK. We`re going to be right back. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: When the Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney sits down for television interviews, there are generally few surprises. He has been campaigning for the president practically nonstop for about six years. And in that time, he has answered every conceivable question. But to weeks ago, MSNBC`s Chuck Todd sat down with Mr. Romney and the candidate said something completely unsuspected. You can see this in its full context tonight in the Mitt Romney documentary that`s airing right after this show. But in this particular part of the interview, after telling voters for years to elect him because of his past experience particularly in business, Mr. Romney said he would actually now like to see his past taken off the table for the campaign. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: Our campaign would be helped immensely if we had an agreement between both campaigns that we were only going to talk about issues and that attacks based upon business or family or taxes or things of that nature -- that this is just -- this is diversion. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So after years of vote for me, I was successful in business as of now, his background in business is just a diversion or at least as of when he tapes this interview with Chuck Todd. Today, however, Mr. Romney attempted to pull off a sort of hard to execute rarely seen flip-flop on this subject. He published an opinion piece on "The Wall Street Journal", putting the spotlight back on the business experience that he`s describing in this interview as just a diversion. "Mitt Romney: what I learned at Bain Capital." Mr. Romney bolstered the op-ed with a fluffy interview with the same paper how he intends to sell himself and his candidacy at the Republican National Convention next week. He said, quote, "When appearing before crowds at stops, Mr. Romney says he does not think, `What can I do to portray myself in a way to appeal to the public?` People who hired me in the past have been pleased that they did," Mr. Romney said, referring to his roles as chief executive of Bain Capital, governor of Massachusetts and the head of the `02 Winter Olympics. And so, he says, "I describe my views and issues and concerns, but I don`t have a plan to take everybody to my childhood home and say, `Here`s where I rode my bicycle.`" "People have hired me in the past have been pleased that they did." So on one page of the "Wall Street Journal" today, he`s relaunching his time as CEO of the private equity firm Bain Capital as his relevant for being president of the United States. On another page of the same paper, he is bringing back his Massachusetts governor record, saying people who hired him, meaning elected him for that job, were pleased that they did so. The people of Massachusetts were not pleased that they hired Mitt Romney actually it turns out. The director of Suffolk University`s political research center looked into how Massachusetts residents liked Mitt Romney once they elected him governor. And the conclusion is that Mr. Romney`s favorability was basically a straight line down from his honeymoon. Mr. Romney came into office with a 61 percent approval rating. After two years in office, that dropped from 61 percent to 47 percent. By the time people were electing his successor, his approval rating had dropped from 61 percent to 47 percent to 36 percent. And then Massachusetts replaced him with a Democrat. Before Mitt Romney Republican governors -- Mitt Romney Republican governor, the Massachusetts governor was a Republican. And before that, the Republican governor was a Republican. And before that Republican governor, the governor before that was a Republican. Massachusetts wasn`t against Republican governors. We had four in a row. But then after Mitt Romney, Massachusetts went Democratic. And Mitt Romney left office with an approval rating so bad it`s basically George W. Bush territory. Now he`s saying people who hired me in the past have been pleased that they did. That is not true at all of the last time Mitt Romney held public office. See, this is why it`s going to be so awesome to watch the Republican convention next week. How are you going to explain (a), why you didn`t run for re-election and, (b) how Massachusetts thought of you at the time and how they think of you now? If the "Wall Street Journal" won`t call him on it when he says the people were happy to have hired him, will the press covering the RNC call him on that stuff when they make that case before that arena full of people next week? I can`t wait. It`s going to be a lot of fun. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This is Ben Ginsburg, Republican lobbyist and lawyer. He was once on a list of Washington`s most powerful but least famous people because he`s a behind the scenes kind of guy, the top lawyer for the George W. Bush presidential campaigns, including in the Florida recount in 2000. Here`s the actor Bob Balaban playing Ben Ginsburg in the HBO movie about the recount in Florida. Ben Ginsburg worked for Minnesota Republican Norm Coleman when Coleman unsuccessfully challenged his loss to Senator Al Franken. Then, Ginsburg worked for the RNC and the Republican Senate Committee and the Republican Congressional Committee. He advised the swift boat guys in 2004. And now, of course, Ben Ginsburg is the lawyer for the Mitt Romney campaign. So, Ben Ginsburg is one of those guys for whom you still might want to set a Google alert. It`s like selig (ph) in an elephant suit. When big important things are going on in the Republican Party, he`s usually there on the ground. Where is Ben Ginsburg today? Today, he was at a rules committee meeting in Tampa, pry trying to prevent the Republican Party from ever again having the Ron Paul problem they had earlier this year. This year, even though Ron Paul did not win any state primaries or caucuses, Paul supporters used the party political process to win delegates from multiple states for Ron Paul anyway. There are almost 200 Ron Paul delegates at the convention because of that even though he didn`t win any states. But, yes, that is probably never happening again, because Ben Ginsburg just pushed through a new rule that basically says, when a candidates wins a Republican Party primary or caucus, they get the corresponding number of delegates, period, full stop, end of story. Republicans also moved up the day Romney will technically be crowned the Republican nominee at the roll call that was supposed to happen on Wednesday when it would have been broadcast on the networks live. They`ve moved it to Monday instead when there will be no live network coverage, which takes care of one optics problem they were worried they might have. As the "New York Times" put it, "Some supporters is of Mr. Paul have been pushing to make their voices heard during the roll call vote. Several supporters signaled their interest in making their admiration for Ron Paul known on the convention floor." Well, now, after these changes, they can get those ya-yas (ph) out on the convention floor but not when the network TV cameras are there to show it. Thanks for playing, Ron Paul supporters, the Republican Party is still trying to wish you out of existence. Even if the networks aren`t there on Monday, we will be. That does it for tonight, we will see you again tomorrow night. And now, it is time for the premiere of "Mitt Romney: The Making of a Candidate." Have a great time not being in prison tonight. Stay tuned for this. Good night. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END