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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 10/15/12

Guests: Robert Gibbs, Rosie Perez

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: All Right, thanks man. And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next pretty, pretty hour. Election day is 22 days away. Three weeks from tomorrow. But today was Election Day for at least one resident of the great state of Illinois. First lady Michelle Obama today posing with her absentee ballot which she mailed in to the state of Illinois today. Shortly before posting this photo, the first lady tweeted, hey Barack Obama, I just dropped my absentee ballot in the mail, I couldn`t wait for Election Day, love you, mo. What Michelle Obama is doing here, mailing in her absentee ballot is a form of voting that`s typically more popular among Republicans. For example, in Florida in 2008, Republicans enjoyed a 17-point edge among people who chose to vote by mail with an absentee ballot, 17 points. This year one of the early signs in this election that Democrats are excited about is at least in Florida Democrats seem to be closing the gap with absentee ballot mail-in voters. Democrats were still able to win, remember, in 2008 in Florida, even though they lost absentee ballot voters by 17 points. But this year in Florida, Democrats have slunk down the Republican advantage on absentee ballot voters. They shrunk it down from 17 points to just four points. And remember, they were still able to win with the 17- point gap last time around. So this has Democrats very excited. And it has the first lady doing her big voter photo-op today. Now, the other way to vote ahead of Election Day is not to mail in your absentee ballot, but rather to vote early in person. And while Michelle Obama announced today that she was voting by mail, President Obama announced today that he is going to be voting early and in person. President Obama is going to be voting on October 25th, which would be next Thursday. That form of voting in person early voting has traditionally leaned more democratic. And this year, it appears to be following that trend again, only with an exclamation point. Look at this headline from yesterday. Obama grabs wide lead among those who have already voted. But the numbers are amazing. Because Reuters poll finds that President Obama leads Mitt Romney by 28 points among early voters. Now, it should be noted that ever since this poll came out yesterday, the Romney campaign has been complaining about it and trying to discredit it. Today Mitt Romney`s political director released a heron fire memo attacking the methodology of this Reuters poll of early voters, calling it flawed and untrue. And you know, I mean, nobody complains about the methodology when they are ahead, right? The Romney folks have only recently stopped complaining about the methodology of all of the polling being done. Their complaining only stopped once Mr. Romney started doing better in all of those polls a couple weeks ago. In terms of the swing states, here`s how things look right now in the race. In Pennsylvania, it is President Obama now with a four-point lead. The president down three points in that poll in just the span of a couple weeks. In Ohio President Obama up by five points in a poll released over the weekend. In Florida it`s Mitt Romney up by one point. In North Carolina, it`s Mitt Romney by two points. And in Virginia, Mr. Romney leading by one point. In Iowa, the latest poll in Iowa shows the race to be tied. A new "USA Today" Gallup poll of just the swing states that was released tonight, shows Mitt Romney with an overall four-point lead in the swing states combined. And just as the Romney campaign is complaining about the methodology of the poll of early voters that shows President Obama with a nearly 30-point margin among early voters, now it`s the Obama campaign`s turn to complain for the first time about the methodology in this new swing state poll. The Obama campaign`s chief pollster releasing a memo earlier tonight attacking this "USA Today" Gallup poll as unsound. And whatever you think about the methodology, you can see why the Obama campaign would be worried about a poll like this. I mean, if other polls bare out this kind of margin in swing states specifically, that would imply there`s been a change in the race in Mr. Romney`s favor. Right now, though, that poll does sort of stick out. It`s sort of an outlier in terms of being more favorable to Romney than everything else with polls like this at the national level and at combined state level. All of the national polls released today show the race is essentially a dead heat. Gallup daily tracking shows Mr. Romney up by two. The right leaning Rasmussen poll has Romney up by one. Investor`s Business Daily has the race at a tie. A new Politico George Washington University poll has President Obama up by one. And the new ABC News "Washington Post" poll shows Mr. Obama up by three. And here`s where it gets interesting. We got a ton of polling stuff every day now, right? You can look at swing states, you can look at national numbers, you can look trans. Every day there`s at least one super interesting and eliminating thing in the polling. And right now the thing most important, I think most intriguing in the data out of all the snapshots of the race you can do right now is this. This right here is probably the most interesting thing. It is when ABC News and "Washington Post" polled voters, they didn`t just ask who do, they like in terms of who they are going to vote for. They asked which candidate would be better on a series of issues. And here`s what they found. On the issue of dealing with the economy, it`s President Obama by four. Dealing with taxes, President Obama by five. Handling health care, Obama by six. Handling international affairs, Obama by 10. Handling an unexpected major crisis, Obama by 12. Handling Medicare, Obama by 15. The only issue in the ABC News "Washington Post" poll where the president loses is this one. The issue of dealing with the deficit where it`s Mitt Romney holding a three-point led over President Obama. The president leading on every other issue except the deficit. Why is that the one issue in which Mitt Romney has seen as being better than President Obama? It`s because of the thing that lost President Obama the first presidential debate two weeks ago which was him trying to explain how Mitt Romney can`t be trusted on the deficit by trying to do the math for everyone live on TV. Saying something that sounded in translation essentially like you have a large number with a trillion in it and then some smaller amalgamation of other trillions that when you add them up, they subtract them from the $5 trillion and get a number that`s in appropriately negative -- positive. Do you follow me? President Obama during that first debate was trying to do the math over and over and over again as a way of explaining that what Mr. Romney is proposing economically would be a recipe for massive deficits. And really, there is no way mathematically that you can do the things Mr. Romney says he`s going to do without running up massive deficits. But instead of making up punchy memorable arguments that made him the more likeable and effective of the two debaters, President Obama instead tried to prove that thing about the math. President Obama tried in that debate setting to explain what`s so wrong with thinking that Mitt Romney is a guy who should be taken seriously on the deficit. He was trying to explain that without a white board, without a sound track, without a narrative way to make it into a story people would remember. You just listed these very large numbers over and over assuming that people could do the arithmetic and get the punch line. And Mitt Romney did not do that. Mitt Romney instead of trying to rebut President Obama point by point simply made the reasonable sounding assertion that, well, never mind all your numbers, I got six studies that back me up. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will not under any circumstances raise taxes on middle income families. I will lower taxes on middle income families. Now, you cite a study, there`s six other studies that looked at the study you described and say it is completely wrong. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I have six studies that say, actually I`m great on the deficit issue. No worries. All these mumbo jumbo giant numbers stuff that are getting from this president guy, doesn`t make any sense to me either. Look. Here`s a small number, six. I have six studies that say I`m fine. Those six studies for the record are not actually studies. Two are blog posts by a conservative think tank. One is a report by a conservative think tank. One is paper by former George W. Bush`s adviser, and the fifth and sixth are a blog post and a "Wall Street Journal" op-ed by a Mitt Romney adviser. Calling those things studies is like calling me the homecoming queen. It`s very flattering, but come on. Come on. The Romney campaign has been trying to wish away the math with this six studies magical incantation. They have been trying to use this six studies thing for so long that even the Sunday morning show on FOX is calling bull puck on it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ED GILLESPIE, SENIOR ADVISER TO MITT ROMNEY: Six studies have said -- CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Those are very questionable. Some of them are blogs. Some of them are from the AEI. Some are from an independent group. GILLESPIE: These are very credible sources. WALLACE: One is from a blog from a guy who was a top adviser to George W. Bush. This is hardly nonpartisan status. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: See why Ed Gillespie doesn`t look worried there? He`s like waiting for Chris for the interviewer to stop talking, right? He`s just kind of waiting. I`m just going to go back to my talking points as soon as you are done. But there`s a certain happy-go-luckiness by the Republicans when they are talking about this issue. They don`t get too stressed out of this issue because they know that politically, it really doesn`t matter what they say. They trust that no matter what they are proposing and how it gets debunked or fact check or whatever, they know politically they will just seem like they are going to be good on the deficit no matter what they propose. This is the most persistent myth in the modern politics in American money. This idea that Republicans - Republican presidents in particular are good on the deficit. When, in fact, the exact opposite is our modern history. On Friday, we learned, for example, that the U.S. budget deficit topped a trillion dollars for the fourth year in a row. And while that is ginormous (ph) number, here`s the context for that. Here`s our budget deficit in 2012. Just over a trillion dollars. And here`s what it was last year. President Obama actually cut the deficit by more than $200 billion from the year before. Here`s the budget deficit that President Obama was handed when he walked in the door. Your eyes are not deceiving you. You keep hearing the Republicans talk about how much President Obama increased the deficit? President Obama has cut the deficit during the four years in office. The great Steve (INAUDIBLE) put this graph was put together at Maddow Blog today going through the raw data. And as Steve notes today, quote "over the last four decades, only two presidents have reduced the deficit that much this quickly. And those two presidents are Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, now what do they have in common? Both Democrats. Historically, the Democratic Party has actually been the better of the two parties when it comes to the deficit. Over the last 40 years, its democratic presidents who have been the most fiscally responsible when it comes to the deficit. And its Republican presidents have been the most fiscally reckless. Somehow, in the face of this persistent history, Republicans have successfully cultivated this myth that they are the ones they should trust if you`re worried about the debt and the deficit. And so, even though voters trust Barack Obama on every other issue, they still inexplicably trust Mitt Romney more when it comes to the deficit. They have great faith in Mitt Romney`s deficit hawkishness. Even if all his six studies are just stuff written on a bathroom wall. And it is hilarious. I mean, it`s factually hilarious given that Mitt Romney is proposing this in terms of what we spend on the military. These are current levels of military spending. Our biggest discretionary spending. That`s what Mitt Romney is proposing to do to our biggest file of discretionary spending. He is proposing adding $2 trillion extra in spending just on the military and he`s proposing bringing in $5 trillion fewer in revenue in order to pay for that. Barack Obama is right. The math does not work. The math might be boring, but the math doesn`t work. This is like if you`re living paycheck to paycheck right now and you decide you are going to quit your job and then buy a new car at the same time. So you have less money coming in and lots more money going out. What does that make you? It makes you psyched because you got a new car and you don`t have to work so you have time to drive it around until it runs out of gas and then what? But a decision like this, less money coming in and lots more money going out, a decision like that puts you in deep, deep, deep debt. And if you do that at the national level, you are a lot of things but you are not good on the deficit. Except apparently people think that you`re great on the deficit. And that distance in perception, distance between the perception and reality of Mitt Romney is a political problem. If you`re that bad on an issue like this and people think you`re great on the issue that means something in our politics isn`t working right. Someone is not doing their political job at making people understand the reality here and making you place for political consequences worth. Why is that? Obama campaign senior adviser Robert Gibbs joins us next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The Obama campaign senior adviser Robert Gibbs joins us live here in just a moment. And Rosy Perez joins us a bit later on tonight. Big shift. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: The president said he would cut the deficit in half. Unfortunately he doubled it. Trillion dollar deficits for the last four years. The president has put in place as much debt held by the public as all prior presidents combined. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Not at all true. At the first presidential debate this year Mitt Romney played pin the deficit on the Democrat and he totally got away with it. Even though it`s not true. The red bar is the deficit President Obama inherited. The deficit this year will be over $200 billion smaller than it was last year when the deficit was already smaller than the one the president inherited. As president`s goal, Barack Obama turns out to be a standout reducer of the deficit. But he gets zero credit for this in the press or turns out with voters. Joining us is the man who was supposed to stop problems like that from happening for the Democrat. Obama campaign`s senior adviser Robert Gibbs. Mr. Gibbs, thank you for being here tonight. ROBERT GIBBS, PRESIDENT OBAMA CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISOR: Thank you for having me e. MADDOW: Am I blaming you unfairly for this political problem? GIBBS: I think that was quite an intro, quite a settle. No, look. I do think you make a series of great points. I mean, we forget that before Barack Obama ever walked into the oval office, President Bush had spent a trillion dollars that year. And again, they want to blame -- it`s funny. You listen to them talk about it and you forget that that was all under their watch. And so many of the policies that we`re trying to unwind right now, we ended the war in Afghanistan. We had to put more troops in Afghanistan, now we`re in the process of bringing more troops home. The Bush tax cuts a lot of things that we`re having to continue to pay for that are really the result of horrible economic and policy decisions made four or eight years ago. MADDOW: Then, why does Mitt Romney get credit for being the guy who would be better in handling the deficit? That`s the thing that goes my mind because I get the mathematical point of the president was trying to make in that first debate. $5 trillion tax cuts, $2 trillion next to military spending. No way to spend it. No way to account for it. That`s a ton over red ink. I get the math. Nobody else, Romney speaking, in the country is getting that math. People really think that the Republicans will do better on this. So, what`s the distance between what they are trying to do and what people believe about what they are trying to do? GIBBS: Well, look. Rachel, I think this is one of the things -- you mentioned the president mentioning this in the debate. I think this is something you will hear the president mention tomorrow. I think it is something we have to talk about as a party and as the president`s party every single day before this election. Because you went through some of the math. You went through Ed Gillespie trying to go through the math. And you know, there`s $4.8 trillion tax cut that no study that actually looks at the real number can come up with a way to pay for it without raising taxes on middle class families. And on to that a trillion dollars in extending the Bush tax cuts for the upper end. $2 trillion dollars for Pentagon spending. And that`s how they want to start their deficit reduction conversation. I mean, this is all a big ruse for how do we cut taxes for the very upper end and hope that it trickles down for the middle class to lift our votes. It`s never worked. It didn`t work under George Bush. It won`t work under Mitt Romney. We have to do something much here. With the president`s plan to cut $4 trillion over ten years in a balanced way, yet still have enough money to make the needed investments in things like education and infrastructure that we know will grow the economy. MADDOW: At the risk of fighting for you about math, which I know is the world`s most boring thing in the world, when you guys say does - what Mitt Romney is proposing doesn`t work without raising taxes on the middle class. Mitt Romney (INAUDIBLE) said I`m not going to raise taxes on the middle class and there`s no way to fight about what he will or won`t do unless you are speaking from the future. So, the point is that it won`t work to balance the budget without raising the taxes on the middle class. He can say that he is not going to do it. But what we know he`s going to, is blow up the deficit Reagan styli. And so, why not make the argument on the basis of what he`s going to do to the debt rather than asserting that feel have to raise taxes on the middle class and how we got there? GIBBS: Well, look. I think whichever way you do it, you understand it doesn`t add up. And the one thing I think again, we have to make sure people understand is, you know, he will not enumerate the loopholes that he`s going to close. He won`t talk about the deductions and extensions. But look, we know that the most credible study, the tax policy centered it. If you take all the deductions and all the exclusions for the upper end, for the very wealthy and you take all those away and then you add in the great dynamic scoring, which you`re talking about, the magical mixer of if you cut taxes, you`ll have a skyrocketing great economy. MADDOW: The unicorns through all the production. GIBBS: Right, exactly. Ask yourself as an American voter, did that happen when we cut taxes in a huge way twice in 2001 and 2003? The answer is no. Months and months and months of negative job growth right after the 2001 tax cut. But when you start doing all of that, when you take away all those deductions, the math still doesn`t work. MADDOW: And you end up with a giant debt. But, you`re not making the argument to fiscally conservative voters about Mitt Romney equals giant debt. GIBBS: Well, I think you know, if you watch the president, and I know, certainly I do it when I talk about this, when you get to the fact that you can`t fill a $4.8 trillion revenue hole in these tax cuts, there`s one of two things that has to happen, right? Either, as what we talk about a lot those deductions are going to end up impacting middle class families for things like their home mortgage. The other thing is, you could end up, as you said, you can end up skyrocketing the debt just to pay for a tax cut for people that are as rich as Mitt Romney who, as you know, Rachel, haven`t had a bad day in this economy, right? They are not making decision about whether or not to do certain things. They can still do everything they want to do. And look, you are right. It is either -- they are either going to explode the deficit or they are going to raise taxes on middle class families. None of which we know will do anything to provide real growth in this economy. We are only going to do it if we build this economy from the middle out. If we make those important education investments, important investments in manufacturing, bring jobs from overseas. Sell more of our products overseas. If we do things like this, we can grow the economy. MADDOW: I think that you will convince people, you will get rid of the Mitt Romney advantage on the issue of handling the deficit if you start talking about the Republican presidential record in modern history about running up the debt in a way Democrats never have. But what do I know? I`m just a TV person. Robert Gibbs, it is great to have you here. Thank you for taking time. GIBBS: Thank you for having me. MADDOW: I know you are busy as possibly be for you. Thanks. MADDOW: All right, actor Rosy Perez is going to be her shortly and that would be awesome all by itself. But the reason she is here, it turns out, is very, very funny. That is coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANN ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY`S WIFE: It really is a message that would resonate well if they could just get past some of their biases that have been there from the democratic machines that have made us look like we don`t care about this community. And that is not true. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: And that is not true. The wife of Mitt Romney making the case this past summer that the reason her husband has trailed President Obama this year among Latino voters by 40, 50, even sometimes approaching 60 points is because Latino voters have bias, bias from the democratic machines. They can`t get past their bias. Pay no attention to that whole self-deportation thing. Stop being so biased. The great Rosie Perez has a very, very funny rejoinder to the Romney campaign tonight on these issues. Hold on, that is coming. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: It still amazes me every time, but I guess I should get used to it. Donald Trump really is a major part of the Mitt Romney for president campaign. That is amazing. Tonight right now just across town in New York City, Mr. Trump is doing a fundraising event for the Romney campaign with Paul Ryan. The Republican Party has put its vice presidential nominee three weeks before the election at a closed-door fundraiser in New York City tonight with Donald Trump. "The New York Times" tonight printed a letter from a man who was the campaign strategist for Mitt Romney`s father for three campaigns back when George Romney was governor of Michigan. The man`s name is Walter De Vries. He is harshly critical of Mitt Romney and now -- and how Mr. Romney is running his campaign. Quote -- Mr. De Vries says he was annoyed by Mr. Romney`s repeated references recently to his father as inspiration and influence on him. Quote, "I just don`t see it," he said. "Where is it? Is it on issues? No? On the way he campaigns? No. George would never have been seen with the likes of Sheldon Adelson or Donald Trump." But regardless of the spit-take it causes from your father`s old friends as you try to wrap yourself in the mantle of your father`s integrity while also fundraising with that guy, the fact is funds must be raised and today the Romney campaign excitedly announced that just last month in September they raised $170 million, which is a lot but is still $10 million less than the Obama campaign raised in the same period. Campaign to campaign and what they call hard money, the two campaigns are very closely matched with what they`re raising, where the President Obama`s campaign actually slightly ahead. Where the president and the Democrats are getting swamped is by the money spent by outside groups. The dark money. Money spent outside the campaign. Since Labor Day the spending on the presidential election by outside groups, the proportion of that spending that has been pro-Romney and anti- Obama is almost three quarters. A huge majority of the dark money spending in the race is Republican money. And that`s what`s swamping the Democrats. And what the money is being spent on is, of course, TV ads. By the middle of August this time around, by the middle of August this year, we had already seen the same amount of spending on TV and radio ads as we saw in the entire election cycle in 2008. With all this dark money now, the only limit to the number of political ads that can be launched onto swing state airwaves is, frankly, the number of hours in a day. But these days, you know, people watch screens other than their television screens. And one of the things that has happened this year is that outside groups that don`t usually have a role in election year politics and grassroots groups, and just random people who are supporters of one candidate or the other, regular folks and freelancers are making ads themselves and putting them up online outside the campaigns. And yes, there are some of these that are pro-Romney and anti-Obama like this gentleman singing about how the president is secretly gay, but mostly this freelance political video outbreak is a lefty phenomenon. There`s a group, for example, putting up pro-Obama videos that`s called "We Approve This Message." They don`t say who they are, they just call themselves a group of independent Americans who have volunteered their time, but their videos are very professional and very good. One of the most recent ones is about women`s rights. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I am voting for Obama. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m a 28-year-old American. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Romney doesn`t want insurance to cover your birth control? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Paul Ryan actually sponsored a bill that would force me to have vaginal probes. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Vaginal probes. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Romney doesn`t support legislation that would make sure I get paid the same as a man. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Doing the same job that I do. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m a 60-year-old woman. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m voting for Obama. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I`m voting Democrat. President, Senate, Congress, and I approve this message. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I approve this message. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I approve this message. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We all -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We all -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We all approve this message. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That`s We Approve This Message. They are obviously for President Obama and the Democrats, whoever they are. They are anonymous. This one is not anonymous. This is just a one-man job by University of Chicago professor who writes on health policy and who personally has a disabled brother-in-law who relies on Medicaid. The professor went out just on his own and made his own campaign ad about how important Medicaid and Medicare are. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t have a super Pac. No one approved this commercial. It`s just me. About eight years ago my wife Veronica and I faced the task of taking care of her brother Vincent after my mother-in-law died suddenly. Vincent is developmentally disabled and he has a number of other medical problems, too. Now if you`re like me, you probably never set foot into a building like the one behind me. Right over there. That`s a social service agency. My wife Veronica has spent many hours in buildings just like that one with a little shoebox filled with Vincent`s Medicaid and Medicare forms. I`m flabbergasted by proposals to cut Medicaid by more than a trillion dollars over the next decade. And along the way to deprive tens of millions of people the opportunity to get health insurance. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That`s one of the just-a-regular-freelance campaign videos that`s out there this year. John Kerry`s daughter, Alexandra, launched a Web site and PAC today to get regular people, all sorts of regular people, to contribute pro-Obama, anti-Romney videos at a Web site called Ad spelled A-D. The best one, they say, as judged by their celebrity judges, will win $10,000. But there are also celebrity campaign ads that are being produced independently of the campaigns. The Center for Reproductive Rights is a legal group that`s never done this sort of thing before but the Center for Reproductive Rights got a -- put together a big celebrity freelance ad that`s about Republican anti-abortion politics this year. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KEVIN BACON, ACTOR: This lawmaker in Georgia is calling women farm animals. KYRA SEDGWICK, ACTRESS: You`ve got to be kidding me. BACON: No. And there`s this other guy that says this whole contraception thing wouldn`t be a problem. LISA KUDROW, ACTRESS: Farm animals? That`s not a joke. Is that a joke? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no, no, no, no, no. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean animals have more sense than these people. TEA LEONI, ACTRESS: Holy mother of (EXPLETIVE DELETED). MERYL STREEP, ACTRESS: Of course, I`ll sign it. Yes. I`ll sign it right away. What are you waiting for? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That`s from the Center for Reproductive Rights getting people to sign on to a sort of petition they`ve got as a reproductive bill of rights. And today we got the first in what is promising to be a series of comedian and celebrity videos from the Jewish Council for Education and Research, which is doing essentially what they say are fact-check videos about Mitt Romney. They`re doing them in conjunction with a Democratic- leaning PAC. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: My dad, you probably know, was the governor of Michigan and 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. ROSIE PEREZ, ACTRESS AND POLITICAL ACTIVIST: Actually, Mitt, that is so true. The advantage is obvious. Think of all of our Hispanic-American presidents from George Washington to George Bush. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That is part of the first video from which stars the great Rosie Perez. That spot and Rosie Perez herself are next. Hold on. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: At, a group of comedians and celebrities is doing essentially a profane fact-check series about Mitt Romney`s presidential campaign. Here`s the first one. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: My dad, 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. But he was -- and I say that jokingly, but it would be helpful to be Latino. PEREZ: Actually, Mitt, that is so true. All you have to do is look at the statistics and Mitt`s point becomes crystal clear. Hispanics represent 17 percent of the population and account for less than 2 percent of all elected and appointed officials. The advantage is obvious. Think of all of our Hispanic American presidents. From George Washington to George Bush, and who can forget Presidente Jimmy Smits. I mean all Mitt needs is a little (speaking in foreign language). But just a little bit. I mean, didn`t really need to go full John Boehner on the spray tan. (LAUGHTER) PEREZ: God. But a clean-cut Hispanic American like Julian Castro or Ricky Martin, oh my goodness, what if you were just a little bit gay, Mitt? Think of all the advantages that would provide. No, wait for it, what if you had a vagina? If you were a gay Latina this election would be in the bag for you. Unfortunately for you, Mitt, you were cursed with the hard knock life of growing up as the son of a wealthy governor and auto executive. And when your father paid your way through private law school, Harvard, Harvard Law, and bought your first house? I just can`t imagine how difficult that must have been for you. But the truth is, the reason why Latinos aren`t voting for you is because your policies suck. Being Latino wouldn`t win you the election. But saying jokingly that you wish you were might actually lose it for you. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That video is part of a series called "Actually," which is an effort to use comedians and entertainers to fact-check Mitt Romney. The series is done by the American Bridge PAC which is a Democratic-leaning PAC and the Jewish Council for Education and Research. Joining us now tonight for "The Interview" is Academy Award-nominated actress is Rosie Perez. Thank you for being here. PEREZ: It is my pleasure. I love your show. MADDOW: Thank you. The punch line of this, which you deliver very dead hand to the camera, is Latinos are not voting for you because your policies suck. Do you -- do you think that people attribute Mitt Romney not having support from Latinos to something other than his policies? Is that why you made it, like, the point of the video? PEREZ: I think it`s -- I think it`s really just about his policies. And I think that the icing on the cake was that video of him jokingly saying that if he was Latino, he would have the election in the bag. So what are you saying, Mitt? You know, it`s just ridiculous. Are you implying that things -- you know, I got into college because I`m Latin. It`s just that easy. You know, spray tan and things will magically happen for you. It`s ridiculous and it`s insulting and that`s the reason why I participated in it. You know, I have a charity called Urban Arts Partnership, and each year we give out a scholarship of $40,000 and we have numerous students come in and apply. We had this one girl. She brought me tears. She actually bought our entire board to tears. She was here illegally because her parents brought her here. She was a little girl when she came here. She graduated high school with straight A`s. Got accepted on a partial scholarship to John J. Criminal College. MADDOW: Wow. PEREZ: An exemplary civic servant for our charity. And her biggest fear was that she was going to get deported. Her second biggest fear was that she wasn`t going to be a lawyer. MADDOW: Wow. PEREZ: And it just broke your heart. You know? And so that is -- he does not believe in the Dream Act. If he is president, that girl is going back. So what does that say? The choice is very clear for me. And the choice is very clear for a majority of Latinos here in America. And you know -- and I had to do this video because sometimes when the message gets heavy-handed, as it is right now, people don`t want to listen to you. But if you fought hysterical like yours truly -- (LAUGHTER) You know, people listen. MADDOW: Yes. PEREZ: They listen. I mean I had a Twitter account just for a month, oh my god. The things -- what are they called? The tweeties? Whatever they`re called. MADDOW: The tweets. Yes. PEREZ: Yes, the tweets. I mean, just were blowing up today. MADDOW: Yes. PEREZ: And, you know, and it was just -- it was just because I was making people laugh. But I was also making a clear point. Like you`ve said at the end, I got very, very serious because I wanted the point to be strong. MADDOW: You know -- you`re talking about the Dream Act there. One of the things that I have found really interesting in Republican politics, I grew up in California during the fight over Prop 187. Very, very anti- immigrant governor there, Pete Wilson. Prop 187 is this draconian anti- immigrant thing. And it split the Republican Party. And you had George W. Bush leading the sort of pro-immigration, relatively pro-immigrant wing of the Republican Party. He got a lot Latino support when he got elected. And he did a lot of other things but George W. Bush had his compassionate conservatism thing was a lot about the issue of immigration and being compassionate to people. You saw Rick Perry try to make the case for being compassionate toward people in terms of going to college and Dream Act kids and the way they need to be treated respectfully and that it`s good for -- and Mitt Romney played the sort of Pete Wilson role there. Mitt Romney was the hard liner and said, you don`t have a brain. It`s not about having a heart, you don`t have a brain if you`re going to do that for these kids. I wonder how you feel about the Republicans fighting amongst themselves on this issue. It seems like they really haven`t figured out which direction they`re going to go. PEREZ: They haven`t and it`s -- it`s sad. It really is sad because it`s just -- where is the heart in the matter of this all? These are innocent children. They didn`t ask to be brought here, but they`re here. So what do you want to do? Take away the American dream from them? Take away the American dream from a straight A student who is living in a two- room apartment with -- I don`t know, eight to 10 people, and still believes that America could change her life? You want to send that girl back? Are you kidding me? And I really think that there are a lot of Republicans that just do not have the courage to step forward and say, you know what, I do believe in the Dream Act. I do want to -- you know, stand by this young girl and many like her. And for them to not just have the courage to do that, that`s what`s sad to me. MADDOW: Rosie Perez, Academy Award-nominated actress, the chair of the Urban Arts Partnerships, artistic (INAUDIBLE) what you described here and I`m really glad that you did. Rosie, thank you for being here. I know you had a lot of other places to be tonight. Thank you for being here. PEREZ: Thank you and I love your show, like I said. MADDOW: Thank you. Thank you so much. You know you were at a restaurant once on Bleecker Street and I walked past and I saw you sitting in the window, and I was going to go in there, but I was so star struck by you that I went to a different restaurant. And now I confess to you that I was too nervous to be in the same room with you and here you are. PEREZ: My goodness. MADDOW: But anyway. PEREZ: I love it. MADDOW: We will get certificates. I`m sorry. I`ve just cost them -- (LAUGHTER) MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back and I`m all done. Sorry. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The term "hot seat" is one of those American idioms for which nobody really knows the origin. I think the most plausible case for where the idea of hot seat came from is maybe the idea of an interrogation under bright lights so the lights would be not just bright on you and in your face but also they`d be hot and so you`d be uncomfortably warm while answering incessant questions from your interrogators. Maybe. I don`t know if that`s where being in the hot seat came from. But that idea of a hot seat being a literal thing, a chair that is too warm, that is something you have to be comfortable with in your mind. You have to be able to put aside the literal weirdness of that image and not be distracted when that literal thing is the visual that is streaming behind this amazing interview. This amazing interview that I`m about to show you from the local FOX station in Fargo, North Dakota. Just to prep you here so you`re not distracted, these are the stills from the tape that you`re about to see. And yes, that is a chair on fire in the moderator behind each of these men`s head. It is meant to convey the hot seat idea. OK? Other than that it is an immaterial piece of context. OK. Go. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn`t anticipate I would be answering this question when the campaign started but seeing how it became an issue in Missouri, I know on the abortion issue, you`re pro-life. Would you allow any exceptions where an abortion would be able to take place? RICK BERG (R), NORTH DAKOTA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, yes, my position is pretty clear. I am, you know, pro-life. I`m concerned about the unborn and the people that can`t take care of themselves and so I`m pro-life. I would make an exception for the life of the mother. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You would not make an exception for rape? BERG: No. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why would you force a woman who has been raped to have to have that baby? BERG: You know, like I said, Jim, I mean my position is pro-life. And, you know, I care about the unborn. And I feel, you know, that`s really where we should be in our policy. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would the appropriate sentence be if abortion was illegal and a woman did have an abortion? BERG: I`ll leave that up to others to, you know, come up with that. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should we put her in jail? Should we fine her? I mean, do you have any thoughts on that at all? BERG: You know, I`m -- those are things that need to be worked out through the -- you know, through the legislative process. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: And that is why the Democrats really might hold on to Kent Conrad`s Democratic U.S. Senate seat in North Dakota. When Kent Conrad decided to retire, at first the seat looked like a shoe-in for a Republican pickup this year but now the guy the Republicans are running in that race finds himself in front of a video loop of a burning chair squirming and biting his cheek while not explaining why he thinks it is the role of his beloved small government to intervene after a woman has been forcibly impregnated by a rapist. And the government should force that woman to bear the rapist`s child against her will. In any political campaign it is a sure sign that you`re not on your strongest ground when you are dodging questions about what your preferred jail sentence is for pregnant rape victims. Although the punishing rape victims, punishing incest victims, line is an unpopular stance, even for races where there isn`t anti-abortion electorates, it is possible to hold that stance and get elected. It has been done. It is in fact the record on which Paul Ryan ran during his first congressional election in 1998. Here`s some color on that from the "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" at the time, quote, "He favors overturning the Supreme Court`s landmark Roe versus Wade decision that made most abortions legal," Ryan said. Ryan said he`s never specifically advocated jailing women who have abortions or doctors who perform them but he added if it`s illegal, it`s illegal. That`s what Paul Ryan said about abortion rights to his hometown paper when he was first running for Congress in 1998. Not only did he get elected, now he is right there at the top of the national Republican presidential ticket. And that is as sure a sign as any that the Republican Party is trying to make this previously very radical position the new normal. I mean there`s Paul Ryan running for vice president who would have the government step in to force a rape victim against her will to bear the rapist`s child. So would Rick Berg who`s the Republican candidate for Senate in North Dakota who we just saw in front of the burning chair. So -- so would Josh Mandel who`s the Republican candidate for Senate in Ohio. So would Michael Baumgartner, who`s the Republican candidate for Senate in Washington state. So would Pete Hoekstra who`s the Republican candidate for Senate in Michigan. So would Tom Smith who was the Republican Senate candidate in Pennsylvania, and so would everyone`s favorite, what, rape pundit? The gentleman from Missouri. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. TODD AKIN (R), MISSOURI SENATE CANDIDATE: If it`s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Todd Akin the Republican candidate for Senate in Missouri like the Republican Senate candidates from North Dakota and Ohio and Washington and Michigan and Pennsylvania this year, and like the Republican vice presidential nominee this year, they all have the same position on what they want the government to force rape victims to do against their will, which raises the question of what counts as being too creepy about rape now. What counts as an unacceptable level of creepiness when it comes to rape ideas from Republican politicians? And that question, that unanswered question set up a big new question mark for Thursday night`s debate between Paul Ryan and Joe Biden. How would Paul Ryan hold to that position on a national stage? As Mr. Ryan and Mr. Romney try to make themselves over, and to seeming more moderate, would this issue be part of their turn to the center? No. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT: In the past he has argued that there was - - there`s rape and forcible rape. He`s argued that in the case of rape or incest, it would still -- it would be a crime to engage in having an abortion. I just fundamentally disagree with my friend. MARTHA RADDATZ, MODERATOR: Congressman Ryan? RYAN: All I`m saying is if you believe that life begins at conception, that therefore doesn`t change the definition of life. That`s a principle. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: He went on to say that Mitt Romney didn`t necessarily agree with him on that, but in effect, yes, if you`re a victim of rape and you get pregnant, Paul Ryan, as vice president and if he ever becomes president, will try to shape federal policy to have the government force you against your will to bear the rapist`s child. This is not new for him. He had previously referred to rape as just another method of conception. Paul Ryan cosponsored 38 different anti- abortion measures in Congress including just this past year co-sponsoring a bill with Todd Akin to turn Todd Akin`s cockamamie ideas about rape into federal law. To give rape a new narrower definition so women would stop getting away with stuff like having access to abortion by virtue of being raped but rape in the way that Paul Ryan and Todd Akin thought was forcible enough to justify that kind of special treatment. Paul Ryan has always believed in forcing rape victims to give birth if they get pregnant. But now we know that that would be his national policy and we know that after last week`s debate as clearly as we know that the policy of this entire ticket, his and Mitt Romney`s position, would be to overturn Roe vs. Wade and make abortion illegal. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RADDATZ: If the Romney-Ryan ticket is elected, should those who believe that abortion should remain legal be worried? RYAN: We don`t think that unelected judges should make this decision, that people, through their elected representatives in reaching a consensus in society for the Democratic process should make this determination. BIDEN: The court -- the next president will get one or two Supreme Court nominees. That`s how close Roe v. Wade is. Just ask yourself. With Robert Bork being the chief adviser on the court for Mr. Romney, who do you think he`s likely to appoint? Do you think he`s likely to appoint someone like Scalia? Or someone else on the court far right that would outlaw Planned Parenthood, excuse me, outlaw abortion? I suspect that would happen. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: What emerged from the vice presidential debate on Thursday more clearly than was ever said on a national stage, with the Obama-Biden campaigns been putting an exclamation point on ever since, is that if you believe abortion should remain legal in this country, that fundamental right hinges on this election more than ever. Now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END