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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 09/24/12

Guests: Sherrod Brown

ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: That`s THE ED SHOW. I`m Ed Schultz. THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel. RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thanks, my friend. And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. This is the logo of the China National Offshore Oil Corporation. It`s kind of cool, right? I like to call this CNOOC. The businesspeople the businesspeople call it CNOOC -- I think CNOOC is better. It`s sort of cuter. But as you can tell, the CNOOC logo is kind of a pictograph, explaining what they do. The first big arch of the capital N I think it`s supposed to look like an oil derrick and the big C is the platform that the NOOC it`s sitting on. The whole thing is in blue water because they are an offshore oil company. So, it`s oil and water, right? CNOOC, this Chinese company is a huge company. It`s almost entirely owned by the Chinese government. And in 2005, CNOOC tried to take over an oil company based in California. So big Chinese, state-run company trying to take over a California oil company. Because these are oil companies we`re talking about, and because this is the Chinese government, a big business deal like that actually does have national security implications for us as a country. So, that is the kind of international business deal that`s subject to review by something called the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States. It`s a big inter-agency committee and it reviews this stuff. The treasury secretary heads it up. It exists under every president. When that committee was reviewing this deal, with CNOOC trying to buy this California company, Congress went absolutely nuts over it. And in the end, that deal did not go through. It didn`t happen. That was in 2005. China was not allowed to come in and buy that company. Well, now, CNOOC is trying good. They are in the process of trying to buy a Canadian oil company. But again, the Committee on Foreign Investments in the U.S. has some jurisdiction here because the Canadian company does a lot of business in the Gulf of Mexico, our Gulf of Mexico. So, this is again a Chinese government-owned giant oil company trying to buy up a chunk of American oil infrastructure. Think the deal is going to go through this time? It`s a $15 billion oil deal. You think it`s going to go through? It didn`t go through in 2005, how about this new version? Well, since the last time the United States said no to CNOOC, CNOOC has s also made itself famous for going into business with Iran. They are in the process of developing a huge Iranian natural gas field. I know it`s China and China doesn`t follow the same rules as everybody else, but why would they get into bed with the international rogue state that is Iran? Apparently, they did it specifically to annoy us, as described in the "Financial Times" today. The Chinese government told CNOOC to go ahead with their big Iran deal, quote, "immediately after the U.S. agreed to sell arms to Taiwan." So we agreed to sell arms to Taiwan. We did something that annoyed China. And China then responded by saying, fine, we`ll have our giant state-owned oil company hook Iran up then. How do you like us now? Well, since then, t chairman of this giant oil corporation has started talking about that company`s deepwater oil drilling rights that they bought up all over the world. He started talking about the rights as, quote, "mobile national territory." It`s also described as a strategic weapon. That`s how they get criticized. That`s how they talk about themselves. So if you believe them, China is sort of essentially weaponizing its oil industry. At least this part of it. That`s the way they talk about it. And they are doing business with Iran, in a giant one-fingered salute to the rest of the civilized world. And, by the way, they would still like permission to buy this Canadian oil firm that has a lot of interest in the United States. Is that going to be OK with the United States? It`s probably not going to be OK with the United States. I mean, it`s a $15 billion deal. So, who knows, right? But everybody would understand that this is not going to be OK. If that kind of thing doesn`t get the green light from the United States, given this company and their history and their intentions here. And the only people who would not understand that not going through, the only people who wouldn`t understand about that being kyboshed by the U.S. government for obvious national security reasons would probably be the people who are invested in CNOOC, right? People who are invested in this Chinese oil company that calls itself a weapon. One of the investors in CNOOC happens to be running for president of the United States. Guess who it is? If you guessed Gary Johnson, no. Also, It`s not Virgil Goode. Actually, it would be Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney is an investor in this Chinese state-owned oil company. Or at least he was, as recently as a year ago. Mr. Romney`s tax returns that were just released late on Friday showed that seven months after it was widely reported that this company was doing this huge deal with Iran, nobody is supposed to be doing energy deals with Iran, right? Seven months after that was reported, it was not a secret, seven months after Mitt Romney invested in that Chinese oil company that was doing business with Iran. And then he invested some more with then. Then went back a third time and invested some more again. Then it was roughly this time last year when he was well on his way of securing the Republican nomination for president of the United States that Mr. Romney finally sold those shares. He sold his shares the day before he appeared at this Republican debate in Iowa. I don`t know if he thought he would get asked about them or what. Now all of the reporting on Mr. Romney being invested in this Chinese firm notes that he`s not necessarily personally making the call on these individual investments. All of his money is kept in a blind trust. That said, the idea you don`t have to answer for investments made through a blind trust has been debunked on American politics, right? I thought this guy`s argument was the most convincing on that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The blind trust is an age- old ruse, if you will, which is to say you can tell the blind trust what it can and cannot do. You give a blind trust rules. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: And those rules apparently include go ahead and invest my Mitt Romney bucks in the Chinese oil company that calls itself a weapon and that does business with Iran just to spite us -- while you`re running for president, do that. You know, the election has already started. Almost half the states in the country, people can already get access to a ballot and vote by mail if they want to. You can already do in-person early voting in Idaho, in South Dakota and in Vermont. Early in person voting also starts on Thursday of this week in Wyoming and in Iowa. And what that means, beyond just the convenience of voting of those states where you can vote early, what it means for this campaign is that every day is potentially decisive now. If you`re talking about, for example, who is going to win in Iowa, without early voting, we`d be looking at the way this poll out of Iowa and saying, hmm, this latest poll, Obama is up by seven in Iowa. I wonder if he`ll hold on to that lead until Election Day. But, now, with early voting, you look at the polling in Iowa and you say Obama, huh, is up by 7 in Iowa and people are voting in Iowa as of this week. With early voting, every day from now until November 6th is Election Day. That not only saps some of the value out of the debates, which start next week, it also undercuts the potential potency of any October surprise, right? In the "Associated Press" write up of this early voting phenomenon this year, the write up they did about it today, they quote a George Mason University professor who is an expert on election statistics. And he says, quote, "If you`ve got the game changer, you`ve got to do that soon. If you wait until the weekend prior to the election to release your stink bomb, you`ve lost Coloradans," and he`s right. Colorado is one of the fiercely contested battleground states where most ballots are expected to be cast early. By Election Day, Colorado will already be mostly decided. So if you`re losing today, if you`re losing at this point in the campaign, hurry up and fix it. Mitt Romney`s senior campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom back in March, remember, the etch-a-sketch thing. He said, once the general election starts, that`s essentially an opportunity to re-launch the whole campaign. Remember that? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ERIC FEHRNSTROM, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN: I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign and everything changes. It`s almost like an etch-a- sketch, you can kind of shake it up and restart all over again. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: It turns out the etch-a-sketch thing and the reset button is not a one-time deal for the Romney campaign, as they try to catch up really, really, really late in the game now. I think they think of the reset button as like when you`re really bad at an Atari game, right? Or like a Nintendo game and you just keep hitting reset until you get that opening sequence just right. It`s not like you only get to hit the reset button once, and then the button blows up. For the Romney folks, the reset button is like a video game. It`s always there. You can hit as many times as you want. And that appears to be the Romney campaign`s philosophy, as they continually try to reinvent themselves as time just slips away from them. I mean, look at just the past month. Those Republican convention, we`re going to be treated to Romney 2.0. This was the reinvention where they were going to humanize him. Remember that? Then eight days later, it was Romney retooled. That was when they were going to be make him very patriotic and talk about God a lot. Nine days after that, we got the Romney reboot. That`s when they said, no, no, forget the humanizing thing and forget the God and patriotism thing. Now, we`re going to get specific. That`s our new thing. We`re going to be specific. That reboot was also alternatively called not just a reboot but a reset, and then today it got called a reboot again. "Romney Plans Full Slate in Latest Reboot". That was the headline of today`s "Wall Street Journal." Here`s the headline in "The Hill" newspaper: "Romney campaign to change message." Romney campaign is now saying, no, no, no. Forget all the earlier incarnations. Today, we`re changing our message again. What`s the new message for -- I mean, if it was 2.0, I think we`re now at Romney 5.0 now. The new Mitt Romney 5.0 campaign message just since the last day of August, the new campaign message they have decided to launch immediately after disclosing the candidate`s tax returns which showed that he did not care that he was invested in a company doing business with Iran, he wanted to make himself some money investing with that Chinese oil company. He didn`t care about the Iran thing. What`s today`s new message right after they released that information? The new message is: he`s getting tough on China. The new strategy will involve a renewed focus on China. So, the line is that Barack Obama won`t stand up to China, but Mitt Romney will. At least we know he can go to the shareholders` meetings. Or he could have as late as last year. The Obama campaign is hitting Mitt Romney for not releasing his tax returns from before 2010. And that`s true. He`s not released those returns, before 2010, other than that a summary of what he might have paid as his bottom line. But the fact that he hasn`t released before 2010, and we`ve got these two returns from 2011 and 2010, that just makes it all the more amazing that the stuff that is in his returns is so recent. Right? I mean the stuff we know about, including investing in the Chinese oil firm that was doing business with Iran, this is stuff that he was doing while he knew he was running for president again. The guy who says, you can always tell your blind trust what to do. You can always tell them what things they can do and what things they can`t do. One of the things he apparently conveyed that it was OK to do in Mitt Romney`s name with Mitt Romney`s money while he was running for president was to invest in a Chinese oil company doing business with Iran, really, in 2011? And now, Mitt Romney wants to launch himself as the guy who`s tough on China? Apparently. And specifically, he wants to be the tough on China guy while he`s in Ohio. Mr. Romney is launching this Romney 5.0/I`m tough on China now thing with a bus tour. A bus tour that his vice presidential nominee started today and that he will start tomorrow in the great swing state of Ohio, where the last six head to head polls show President Obama winning that state. Ohio is a perennial battleground and both campaigns have been absolutely carpet bombing the state with ads. But ad spending alone does not seem to be moving Ohio voters this year. The other marquee race in Ohio is the Senate race, where the last count, $18 million in outside basically untraceable money has been dumped into the Republican effort to defeat Democratic incumbent Senator Sherrod Brown. It`s unprecedented spending for a Senate race in Ohio and it is unprecedented frankly to have an incumbent outspent by this much money. Let alone by this much dark money. But you know what? In Ohio, the money does not seem to be working in that Senate race. At least not the way it`s supposed to. A new poll out today from Ohio newspaper shows Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown now leading his Republican challenger by seven points, despite being outspent hand over first. Joining us is the Democratic senator from Ohio, Sherrod Brown. Senator Brown, I should say, is the lead sponsor of legislation addressing the China currency issue, a bill that, surprise, is currently stalled in Congress. Senator Brown, thank you for being here. SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: Thanks. Good to be back. MADDOW: The Romney campaign is hitting this reset button for the fifth time now. It doesn`t go away. You get to hit it a lot I guess. But they are resetting by going to Ohio and talking about China. Why are they picking Ohio to talk about China? BROWN: They are picking Ohio because we lost between 2000 and 2010, Ohio -- the nation lost 5 millions manufacturing jobs. And many of them were in Ohio. We`re a manufacturing state, number three in the country. What they are not talking about is how we have gained 500,000 manufacturing jobs back across the country, a number of them in Ohio. It`s about the automobile rescue in part. It`s about enforcing of trade law. There`s a new steel mill in Youngstown. There are new steel jobs because of enforcement of trade laws by the administration and by those of us that pushed the International Trade Commission, steel jobs in Lawrence, steel jobs in Cleveland, tire jobs in Finley, aluminum jobs in Heath (ph) and Sidney, Ohio. So, we`re seeing Ohio come back and it`s really because of the Recovery Act. It`s because of the auto rescue. It`s because we`re enforcing trade law and Mitt Romney could help us by writing a letter to Speaker Boehner and tell him to pass the legislation you mentioned. We passed our bipartisan trade bill, China trade bill, the currency leveling, level the playing field jobs bill overwhelmingly, bipartisanly in the Senate, including the other Republican senator from Ohio. We`re asking the House to move on it. Governor Romney could call John Boehner and say, when he`s in Ohio, and say schedule this bill for a vote, send it to the president to sign it. MADDOW: On trade and manufacturing and China specifically, I thought that this campaign would be fought on totally different ground on that subject, because in his book, the book "No Apologies," and his previous sort of punditry early on in the Obama administration, Mr. Romney was essentially arguing for not getting tough with China, was essentially arguing against efforts by the previous administration and by the Obama administration to confront China on trade issues. Now, he`s saying, no, no, this is a door mat. I`m the one who will be tough. BROWN: That was Romney 2.0. That`s clear that`s the case. One of the specific cases that Romney criticized the president on was the Chinese tire dumping case, which has resulted in jobs in Cooper tire in Finley, Ohio. Mitt Romney just senses an opportunity here. There`s no real -- there`s been no real interest in his career in standing up to China. The president is doing the right thing. I want him to be more aggressive. I urged him to be a bit more aggressive. He`s doing the right thing on China. He needs to move more aggressively on currency. This legislation would matter. I mean, there`s no question. The president recently came to Ohio to announce an auto parts trade action. We went from a billion-dollar trade deficit in auto parts with China, bilateral trade deficit, to $10 billion over the last 10 years. That`s a lot of job loss and a lot of jobs we could start to regain when we enforce these rules that China clearly is cheating. They subsidize capital and energy and land and water. They don`t play fair on currency. We stand up to them, it will mean jobs, good paying industrial jobs to create a middle class in Ohio. MADDOW: In your own campaign in Ohio, reelection campaign in Ohio, as I mentioned in the introduction, you`ve raised money for your own campaign. Your opponent has raised not dissimilar amounts of money for his own campaign. The big difference is the amount of outside money that`s coming in on his behalf. You`re being outspent 3 to 1, 4 to 1, depending on how you look at the numbers, at least as far as I can tell today. Why are these groups from outside your state so interested in seeing you lose, (a), and (b), why do it in Ohio when there`s a premium on the ad dollars because the presidential campaign is spending so much money? BROWN: Their money may be unlimited. I mean, almost as unlimited as it ever in politics, and, you know, they are going after me because it`s dark money. We don`t know for sure who it is. We think it`s the oil industry because of my efforts to try to take on the oil companies and the subsidies they get. We think it`s Chinese interests, corporations, American corporations that outsource to China because of the China currency bill. We think it`s Wall Street because of my legislation to break up the six largest banks. So, it`s not surprising this money is being put in. The amount $18 million is more than any other place in the country. That maybe a bit surprising that it`s that level, but that`s what they are doing this year. And I expected it, in some measure, and we`re fighting back with a really good grassroots effort and that`s how we blunt the spending in many ways. MADDOW: When you say grassroots, you mean shoe leather, you mean door to door? BROWN: It means door to door. We have organizers on the ground, paid organizers. The Obama campaign is very well organized in Ohio. It will make a difference. People have come to my Web site,, signed up to help us. Those efforts nationally and in Ohio have mattered and we expect to win this election, being outspent three, 3 1/2, maybe four to one. We expect to win by out-organizing them, talking about the auto rescue, talking about trade enforcement, talking about the middle class, talking about what we have done with health care. And I feel optimistic about it because our message is strong and our organization is good. MADDOW: A man staring down the face of $18 million against him feeling optimistic, you are a silver lining in a dark cloud. Thank you for being here. BROWN: Thank you, Rachel, always. MADDOW: I should mention, Senator Brown`s opponent is named Josh Mandel. Since Senator Brown just gave you the address for his campaign Web site, which is fine, I also just as a matter of fairness have to tell that Mr. Mandel`s Web site is It`s M-A-N-D-E-L. BROWN: You didn`t spell my name Rachel. MADDOW: Brown? BROWN: Sherrod, I don`t know. MADDOW: Sherrod, two R`s. Next time, I`ll come up with signage. All right. Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown is stuck on a subject about his Senate opponent, Elizabeth Warren, in a way that has been making me crazy. I`m going to try to figure it out and get more articulate about it tonight, because all I`ve been doing in covering it for the last few weeks now has been screaming at the wall. Tonight, I`m going to try to put words to my feelings. That`s ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: During a presidential campaign, during any modern campaign, it is hard to know when it happens. When words captured on video in front of an audience are going to stick, when footage is going to be a turning point in the election. It`s going to be a defining thing that everybody always remembers about that candidate. It`s not always easy to tell when it happens, but ultimately, something always sticks. Well, today, for instance, we got this bit of Mitt Romney talking about the emergency landing last week of a plane that at the time was carrying his wife, Ann Romney. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I appreciate the fact that she is on the ground, safe and sound. I don`t think she knows how worried some of us were. When you have a fire in an aircraft, there`s no place to go exactly. There`s no -- and you can`t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don`t open, I don`t know why they don`t do that. But it`s a real problem. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: It`s a real problem that the windows don`t roll down on airplanes? Is it also a problem that guns don`t shoot backwards through the barrel this way? Or the diving boards are only ever really mounted over very deep water? Why don`t the windows roll down? I don`t think he was joking because he couldn`t possibly be joking about his wife almost being in a plane crash. You can`t joke about that, especially with her standing right there. So did he -- I mean, has he never seen gold finger? (VIDEO CLIP PLAYS) MADDOW: Right? Maybe Mr. Romney was joking when he said it was a real problem that he couldn`t get the windows to roll down in airplanes, in which case he was joking about something very scary involving his wife. You wouldn`t think a guy would joke about. Maybe he meant the window should roll down only on planes flying at low altitudes or something? We don`t know. But regardless of what he meant and how strange that moment was on the campaign trail this weekend, frankly, the roll down the windows moment is unlikely to rock the presidential campaign. It`s unlikely to stick the way Mr. Romney`s remarks did on the issue of the 47 percent of the country he considers to be victims and dependent on the government and not worthy of his attention as a president or a presidential candidate. Well, tonight, there`s new news on that it tape exclusively here, specifically new tape. It`s coming up right at the end of the story -- right at the end of the show. Stay with us. And leave the windows where they are in the meantime. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: All right. Ready for the snapshot? Here`s a look at where the campaign is as of today in the all-important swing states. In the polls that are out today, President Obama is up by four in North Carolina, Obama up by five in Florida, Obama up by eight in President Obama, Obama up by 12 in Wisconsin, Obama up by six in Colorado, Obama up by seven in Nevada, and Obama up by four in Iowa. That`s what the campaign is looking like today. Polls out today in the states where the campaign most matters at this point. These are swing state polls that we got fresh. Now, here is the opposite of the swing states. These are the states where polling is still being done, in some cases, recently. Even though the margins are always hilarious. Like, say, Oklahoma where as of last month, Mitt Romney was up by 29 points. Or Texas where he was up by 15 points a couple weeks ago, or Georgia where Mitt Romney was up by 21 points last week. Or Utah where polling done over the summer found, surprise, Mitt Romney ahead by 42 points. And the same is true on the other side as well. In California, for example, President Obama is leading by 24. He`s up by 17 in Washington state. He`s up in New York by 28 points. The president is also winning Mitt Romney`s blue home state of Massachusetts by 28 points. So these states are obviously something of an after-thought for the presidential race, right? You can raise money there, but campaigning there. It turns out they are important in this year`s campaign. These huge presidential margins show you which way the state leans. But Lord help the down party guys, right? Lord help the opposite politician who survives in these states. Not only facing that hostility in their state, but on the same ballot as the presidential race where his or her party is going to lose that top of the ticket race by 20 or 30 or, jeez, 40 points. The Republican poster child for that problem in this election is Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts. Now, Scott Brown is a very good campaigner. Interestingly, I have spoken with Republican professionals from all different points on the ideological number line in terms of how conservative they are as Republicans and they all describe Scott Brown as one of the most talented Republican campaigners they have ever seen, ever. Until this month, Scott Brown had been running mostly ahead in the Massachusetts polls against his Democratic challenge Elizabeth Warren. But now, he`s slipping behind. In four of the five most recent polls in the Senate race, Elizabeth Warren is now beating Scott Brown. And it is in that context that we got their first debate last week, and it is in that context that Scott Brown decided what he was going to make that debate all about, what he was going to bring up unprompted repeatedly, what he`s decided to make his United States Senate campaign mostly about now is his judgment on Elizabeth Warren`s racial heritage, her family heritage, her race. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. SCOTT BROWN (R), MASSACHUSETTS: Professor Warren claimed that she was a Native American, a person of color. As you can see, she`s not. That being said, she checked the box and she had an opportunity, actually, to make a decision throughout her career when she applied to Penn and Harvard. She checked the box claiming she was a Native American. And, you know, clearly, she`s not. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Scott Brown has tried to make Elizabeth Warren`s heritage part of the campaign before. Remember back in May? Got a lot of national press. He started with a line of attack that he, Scott Brown, should be considered the authority on Elizabeth Warren`s family tree. And he got tons of national attention for doing that. He gets tons of national attention for doing anything. But his argument, Scott Brown running against Elizabeth Warren`s Native American heritage may have gotten him a lot of press, but it ultimately did not play with voters in Massachusetts. A Suffolk University poll taken in the thick of the controversy back in May found that 69 percent of likely voters thought that it Warren`s Native American heritage was not a significant story and the polls did not much move one way or the other and the whole thing sort of fizzled out. But now, he`s behind in this whole wrap of polls. Now that he`s behind, this is what Scott Brown wants his campaign to be about now. It was not just the debate on Thursday night where he brought up Elizabeth Warren`s racial heritage unprompted. Scott Brown unveiled his post-debate campaign ad today and you guessed it, once again, it attacks Elizabeth Warren for claiming her own Native American heritage. This is the new Scott Brown for Senate campaign. This is what it is about. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: She checked the box claiming she was a Native American. And, you know, clearly, she`s not. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Clearly, look at her. This is an amazing thing for Scott Brown to be pinning a U.S. Senate election on. First of all, he`s declaring himself the authority on Elizabeth Warren`s heritage based on how white she looks to him. Scott Brown is confident just asserting that Elizabeth Warren is not Native American. He can tell. What, can you smell it? But there`s another thing going on here. There`s a reason that Scott Brown wants to make his campaign about who is the authentically white person. (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: Oh, getting ahead. Right, resenting affirmative action. That never gets old with white voters. Remember Mitt Romney joking to his $50,000 a plate donors about how much easier he`d have it if only he were Mexican? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: My dad, as you probably know, was the governor of Michigan and was the head of a car company but he was born in Mexico. And had he been born of Mexican parents, I`d have a better shot of winning this. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Mitt Romney joking to a room full of super rich people in Florida about how easy the Latinos have it. Everything is handed to you if your parents are born in Mexico. Am I right? Right? I mean, at its essence, it`s a slightly-more subtle version used in the famous Jesse Helms ad that we always use to illustrate this point, right? The Jesse Helms campaign ad against Harvey Gant. Jesse Helms is a white Republican senator running against a black Democratic challenger in 1990 and this ad was called the hands ad. It shows white working man`s hands angrily crumpling up a rejection notice, while the narrator intoned that the white guy lost his job because of handouts to black people. This always comes out differently in different campaigns. It depends on how comfortable the candidate is and how comfortable they think their state it might be with overt racial claims. But it`s a political art that survives the generations, right? It`s the art of stoking and particularly working class white voters if you can, a sense that something is being taken away from them by minorities. And in this Massachusetts case now with Scott Brown, maybe it`s Warren herself passing herself off. Scott Brown`s new ad attacking Elizabeth Warren on how white she looks to him was out early today. Before the day was over, the Elizabeth Warren campaign was out with a response ad. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: As a kid, I never asked my mom for documentation when she talked about our Native American heritage. What kid would? But I knew my father`s family didn`t like that she was part Cherokee and part Delaware. So, my parents head to elope. Let me be clear -- I never asked for and never got any benefit because of my heritage. The people who hired me have all said they didn`t even know about it. I`m Elizabeth Warren and I approve this message. Scott Brown can continue attacking my family, but I`m going to keep fighting for yours. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Melissa Harris-Perry joins us next. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: Professor Warren claimed that she was a Native American, a person of color. And as you can see, she is not. She checked the box claiming she was a Native American. And, you know, clearly, she`s not. WARREN: As a kid, I never asked my mom for documentation when she talked about our Native American heritage. What kid would? But I knew my father`s family didn`t like that she was part Cherokee and part Delaware. So, my parents head to elope. Let me be clear -- I never asked for and never got any benefit because of my heritage. The people who hired me have all said they didn`t even know about it. I`m Elizabeth Warren and I approve this message. Scott Brown can continue attacking my family, but I`m going to keep fighting for yours. (END VDIEO CLIPS) MADDOW: As weird as it is to see a Senate candidate having to do a political ad explaining what their ethnic background is, how much weirder is it that that`s because all of the attacks on her in this campaign are about her race? I don`t understand why this isn`t a national scandal. Scott Brown campaigned against Elizabeth Warren is on the basis of her race. I find it to be astonishing that it`s not more upsetting to more people. It`s just weird. Joining us now to help me get smarter about this story instead of just getting increasingly flabbergasted by it the more I learn about it is the host of MSNBC`s weekend morning show, Melissa Harris-Perry. Melissa, it is good to see you. I feel relieved seeing you alone, because I know that you will help me get smarter about this. Thank you for being here. MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: Absolutely. I`m happy to do it. MADDOW: When Scott Brown points to Elizabeth Warren`s appearance essentially saying she looks too white to have any Native American heritage, he seems to be saying he can judge her heritage based on her looks. Where does this come from? And what do you think it means? HARRIS-PERRY: So, on this particular aspect of it, there are two really important issues that are certainly at play here in Massachusetts, but much more broadly. The first is about race and what race is. A lot of times when we say we need a national conversation on race, what we think we need is we need a national conversation about race about relations and whether or not white folks tolerate other people. But I actually think that what we need in part is a conversation about what race is. Race is a social construct, not a biological reality. So, you know, when we think about blackness, which is the one most can put their finger on, yes, most Americans think they can tell a black person when they see one based on hair texture or how broad your nose is, or how brown your skin is. But in fact, there`s no clear distinct line that makes one black or outside of black or inside of indigenous identity or outside of it. It`s not our blood that makes us those things. It`s our social constructs. In other words, whether or not those laws would influence you. In this country, if you had one enslaved parents, you could be enslaved. If you have 1/16 of or actually they called one drop of black blood, you would be Jim Crowed. And in the case of indigenous people, there are actually laws, state laws, federal laws based on how far you have to trace back your ancestry to be able to call one`s self part of an indigenous community. And the second thing, I just want to point this out. This is part of a political angst where everybody is going to have to show their papers. Because race is socially constructed, the fact it`s very fluid, it changes across time and space, what`s black today may not be black tomorrow. I live in New Orleans where there`s a whole community of people who are creoles of color that don`t fit in the normal racial hierarchy of the U.S. but if you show your papers, the president of the United States has to demonstrate he`s an American. If you`re going to show up to vote, you`re going to have to prove without any doubt in many states sort of precisely who you are and show multiple forms of ID. And obviously, as you`ve been talking about, this entire election season, the paper please laws around immigration and those who are going to be profiled racially based on how they look about whether or not they have a legal status or undocumented status. All of this is part of a growing American anxiety about who we are as a people. MADDOW: You know, the way that Scott Brown is using -- the way that he`s problematizing race in this case, right, the way that he is using it is to make this argument that Elizabeth Warren might have used her Native American heritage to get ahead through affirmative action. What do you think that he`s getting at there and how connected that is to other claims about essentially stoking resentment on this issue? HARRIS-PERRY: You know, it`s quirky, because you know, to the extent that should be the claim, it ought to be sort of people of color would feel irritation about it, the idea that someone who is socially constructed by most people who look at her as white. And this idea that, wait a minute, to the extent it`s about redressing historic wrongs based on discrimination, it should be black communities, Latinos, and indigenous peoples who would say, wait a minute, we don`t want someone who appears to have the visual image of whiteness to take advantage of things that were meant to redress historic wrongs. So, it`s a weird kind of claim because it`s like she`s so white, you should be mad she claims she`s brown? The problem is that he`s talking about faculty hiring at elite universities and as much as he sort of mocks her with this professor title, the fact that if he knew something about it, he would know that hiring at these kinds of universities does not happen on a paper and pencil application. Everyone does visits and they get to know you and they talk with you and they look you in your face. So if race is some kind of neat, biological box, he need not worry because American universities, especially those in the caliber where she is taught, have already figured out how to bring you to campus and decide whether or not you`re, you know, really a person of color or not. MADDOW: In the precise way that Scott Brown can divine it because he`s a human dousing rod for racial heritage. He can tell. Look at her, look at her. It`s amazing to me. Melissa Harris-Perry, host of the weekend morning show, "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY" here on MSNBC -- Melissa, thank you so much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it. HARRIS-PERRY: Thanks, Rachel. MADDOW: All right. Still ahead, a new development on the hidden camera Romney fundraiser tape that turned this presidential campaign upside down. That`s coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Milestone, we have elected a president in this country 56 times before this year. But this year, congratulations, America, with 43 days yet to go before Election Day, we have broken the all time American record. The record for political giving by a single human in a single political contest. The old record for one person`s spending on a single election has been broken this year, obviously by that Vegas casino zillionaire Sheldon Adelson. Did you know he broke the old record by a factor of three? He tripled it. And there`s still more than 40 days left. Between Mr. Adelson`s donations to Mitt Romney and all the anti-Obama super PAC money he`s given this year, Sheldon Adelson is now officially the biggest campaign bankroller of all time, $70 million from him alone and counting. At least he is putting his name out there. Although he is the guy spending the most money, he`s not the only one. The only thing that`s new the major fund raisers on one side are secret. It is an unprecedented thing this years that the Romney campaign is refusing to reveal its bundlers, the people collecting donations from lots of people, usually half a million dollars worth or more, and then bundling those donations together before passing them on to the Romney campaign. The law does not Mitt Romney or any other candidate to reveal their bundlers, reveal who these high power fundraisers are. But all modern presidential candidates in both parties have revealed those names before Mitt Romney. He will not do it. Check this out, last week, last Tuesday, Mr. Romney held a fund raiser in Orange County, California, and after that, he flew to another fund raiser in Salt Like City. That`s swing state Mitt for you. As he got on his plane to fly from California to Utah, Governor Romney was greeted at the plane by six people. The campaign described these six people as finance greeters. And then the campaign gave reporters the names of these finance greeters that the reporters would be able to see greeting Mr. Romney. Look at this. This is what they said their names were. Stephanie B., Brian F., Bernice F., Erin K., Amy M., Ron M. Reporters are not allowed to know their names. Just first names and last initials. Maybe they`re in the witness protection program? Maybe reporters should have only been allowed to see them in silhouette. Maybe those are disguises. Why is this information being kept secret? This is Mitt Romney`s top energy adviser. You see the name there, Harold Hamm. He`s a billionaire oil executive. The same month that he was named Mitt Romney`s top energy adviser, Mr. Hamm also gave just under a million bucks to main pro-Mitt Romney super PAC. Are all of Mitt Romney`s energy advisers, people who gave him a million bucks to get the gig? Or at least who are unafraid of the appearance that they gave him a million bucks to get that gig? Again, here we don`t know. It`s secret. Not only Will Mitt Romney not disclose who most of his big donors are. He will not disclose who his energy advisers are. Who`s advising him on energy? Will they tell us? There`s Harold Hamm. He doesn`t mind having his name out there. Just like Sheldon Adelson, he`s happy for it to be known. Harold Hamm, OK. But then that`s it. No other names. Mr. Hamm chairs a group that advises Mr. Romney on energy. But we`re not allowed to know who is in that group that he chairs. We asked the Romney campaign this summer who else is on their energy policy advisory group. They told us they will not be releasing those names. They told us they would sure keep us posted if and when they do. But so far, bupkis. So, now that we know how much Sheldon Adelson is giving, we know we have hit a milestone. We know that no one in any previous election year has ever spent as much money as Sheldon Adelson is spending right now to buy this American election. But all we know for sure is that he has beaten the previous record for previous elections. We don`t know if he holds the current record. Think about it. Does Sheldon Adelson have competition? If someone else was spending even more man than Sheldon Adelson to win the election this, how would we know? (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: OK. The secret Mitt Romney fundraiser video that kicked off Mitt Romney`s very bad week last week is everywhere in the campaign now, and features in the new 30-second TV ad, the Obama campaign is airing in Ohio starting today. It`s also in the ad by a pro-Obama super PAC. It`s also the subject of two Obama campaign web videos. Now, our reporting on this video has been different than everybody else`s, because we were a small part of the story of how this came into the public eye in the first place. Late last month, a piece of the video was posted to a YouTube account that was made to look like it was mine, even though it wasn`t. Because of that, we have been pretty keenly aware of the key that the quality of this tape has evolved over time. This is a little bit of a geeky, technical issue but it`s also connected to the video`s political impact, because the quality of the video directly affects the ability to authenticate it, to report on it, to circulate it and to have people understand what it is. All the reasons and the ways that it functions in politics. So, check this out. After the fake Maddow account with the original Romney clip was removed from YouTube, the same person posted other clips from the secret Romney tape to another account. One of the reasons we could not authenticate the tape back in August was because the video and audio quality were poor enough that you could tell that it sort of sounded like Mitt Romney, but you could not tell for certain whether it even looked like him. The audio itself could have just been the guy with the Mitt Romney-ish accent. But then, when "Mother Jones" published clips from the secret video last week, they published it with a focus specific shadow on Mitt Romney`s face. You see that? Keeping a sharp focus around Mr. Romney and blurring everything else. They said they did that initially to protect the source of the video. In a second release from "Mother Jones," they removed that blurring of everything around Mr. Romney. So from its earlier incarnations as the quality and resolution of the video evolved through each of these changes, each of these changes affected the video`s potential utility as political source material. And now, as this video and these comments become a central defining element of Mr. Romney`s campaign, there has been yet further evolution of the tape. We have now obtained an audio enhancement of the video. The words themselves have not been altered, you can compare it word by word with the transcript. But through some kind of audio file tech wizardry, the words are much more clear. OK. So when the video was anonymously posted in August, here`s what it looked and sounded like it. That will be the one in the left, there was video at all, just audio. This was the initial. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: Who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has responsibility to care for them. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That`s what was posted online in August when no one knew what it was. OK, now, here is what the video looked and sounded like when "Mother Jones" first posted last week. This is the middle video. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: Who believe they are victims, who believe the government has responsibility to care for them. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was the "Mother Jones" version posted last month. Now here`s what the video looks and sounds like now without "Mother Jones" initially blurring effect and with the new enhanced audio. It`s the one on the right. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Believe that they are victims, who believe the government has responsibility to care for them. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: As more and more from the tape continues to be released and clarified, eventually at this rate, somebody is going to produce a hologram of Mitt Romney calling half the country victims, in your living room. When that happens that hologram, along with this enhanced audio clips that we obtained today will be posted and cataloged for posterity at our Web site, at Those three clips from the fundraiser tape with this newly enhanced quality are posted there now if you want to check them out, 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