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updated 11/1/2012 11:19:33 AM ET 2012-11-01T15:19:33

THE ED SHOW with ED SCHULTZ
October 31, 2012

Guests: Robert Menendez, Bob Shrum, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Bob Shrum

ED SCHULTZ, HOST: Good evening, Americans. Welcome to THE ED SHOW
from New York.

Six days until the 2012 election. President Obama is showing Mitt
Romney and the rest of the world what real leadership looks like during a
time of crisis.

This is THE ED SHOW -- let`s get to work.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The federal government
will be working as closely as possible with the state and local officials,
and we will not quit until this is done.

SCHULTZ (voice-over): Big government makes a big impact in New
Jersey, where the president tours the state with Chris Christie.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: It`s been a great working
relationship to make sure that we`re doing the jobs that people have asked
us to do.

SCHULTZ: New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez was with the president today
and he joins me live tonight.

Plus, Jonathan Alter on why good governance is good politics.

E.J. Dionne on Mitt Romney`s troubling post-hurricane trouble.

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Mitt Romney`s disappearing act.

And Bob Shrum is here tonight with a brand-new electoral map that will
put a smile on Democrats` faces.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHULTZ: Good to have you with us tonight, folks. Thanks for
watching.

Washington, pay attention. It has taken a life-altering disaster to
show the country how our elected officials can work together, regardless of
party affiliation. Now, they`re officials, they`re not leaders until they
work together, and this is what we`re seeing.

President Obama arrived in New Jersey today, to get a closer look at
the damage from hurricane Sandy. He was greeted by Governor Chris
Christie. And the two men just continued to work on this partnership that
they got going when it comes to recovering from this storm. In fact,
they`ve been doing it before the storm hit.

Now, these were the sites the president saw as he flew over the Jersey
coastline. Image after image of flooded homes, destroyed boardwalks, and
washed out roads dominated the president`s trip.

On the ground, President Obama and Governor Christie visited relief
shelters throughout the area. The governor offered this assessment of the
president to storm victims. "He means what he says. It`s important that
he is here."

Christie had more praise later on.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: We spent a significant afternoon together, surveying the
damage up and down the New Jersey coastline. We were on Marine One
together, to be able to show the president that personally, had an
opportunity to see it and discuss it at length, and going over to the
shelter here, being able to meet with folks and see the president and his
concern, the concern all of us have for making sure that things get back to
normal as quickly as possible.

I discussed all those issues today with the president, and I`m pleased
to report that he has sprung into action immediately, to help get us those
things, while we were in the car riding together.

So I want to thank him for that. He has worked incredibly closely
with me, since before the storm hit. I think this is our sixth
conversation since the weekend, and it`s been a great working relationship
to make sure that we`re doing the jobs that people elected us to do.

And I cannot thank the president enough for his personal concern and
compassion for our state and for the people of our state. And I heard it
in the phone conversations with him and I was able to witness it today,
personally.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: I mean, wow! Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, did you see or
did you hear that today?

President Obama returned the compliments when he took the podium.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Governor Christie, throughout this process, has been
responsive. He`s been aggressive in making sure that the state got out in
front of this incredible storm, and I think the people of New Jersey
recognize that he has put his heart and soul into making sure that the
people of New Jersey bounce back, even stronger than before. So I just
want to thank him for his extraordinary leadership and partnership.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: So is the country moving forward? The White House released
this photo of the president and the governor of New Jersey in conversation,
aboard Marine One.

President Obama left no doubt, the federal government will see the
cleanup throughout to the end.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We are here for you. And we will not forget, we will follow-
up, to make sure that you get all the help that you need, until you`ve
rebuilt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: And, of course, the rebuilding will be extensive. Entire
sections of the New Jersey coastline need to be refigured. Governor Chris
Christie already requested attention from the Army Corps of Engineers, to
help reinforce the shoreline. The National Guard was called in to several
states to assist with the recovery.

In Hoboken, New Jersey, troops helped the rescue efforts in a city
where as many as 20,000 people were stuck in their homes.

The key for many areas is to reduce the flooding in order to restore
services. In Hoboken, the floodwaters are contaminated with sewage, making
cleanup more difficult.

It will still be days before New York City`s subway system is
completely drained. Stations at Lower Manhattan are still filled with
water and are not able to be inspected. Today, Mayor Bloomberg announced
limited service is going to be restored tomorrow.

Many city residents still do not have power. Utility companies
estimate about 6 million households on the East Coast still remain without
power.

Electricity isn`t the only thing in short supply. These cars, you`re
looking at, are not parked. They are waiting in line, stretching for miles
on a New Jersey highway. Drivers are desperate to fill their tanks with
gasoline, which is now in short supply. Gas stations in New York City and
Long Island have also reported shortages.

In the midst of all of this, the presidential election is just days
away. Mitt Romney was back on the stump in Florida today. The candidate
is still staying quiet on his commitment to FEMA.

But a campaign spokesperson released this statement, so good that we
can hear from the campaign on this and not the candidate, right? "A
Romney/Ryan administration will always ensure that disaster funding is
there for those in need, period." Period?

Vice President Joe Biden was campaigning also in the sunshine state
today. President Obama returns to the campaign trail tomorrow. He plans
to barnstorm seven battleground states over the next several days.

But today, we did not see politics in action. What we saw was
government in action. People with authority to make decisions.

Chris Christie is not the first person, I think, that you would think
of when you come to the, you know, arena of bipartisan cooperation. He is
a Mitt Romney supporter and a fierce opponent of many Democratic issues.
For whatever reason, we saw a different Chris Christie with President Obama
today.

This is what cooperation looks like. When the American people need
government to work, these two elected officials became leaders, and are in
lockstep with each other. About time, isn`t it? Things are getting done.

So many politicians run for office saying that they are going to reach
across the aisle when they get to Washington, and they`re going to get
things done when they get elected. Most of them never deliver.

Now, in defense of President Obama, I just want to remind the country
tonight that he has had to put up with a record number of filibusters and
has gotten no help from the Republicans on anything -- on anything, when it
comes to jobs, and the economy is the most important thing.

Guess what? In New Jersey, the economy just got a hell of a lot
tougher. And it`s all about leadership right now. And I hope that
President Obama and Chris Christie are really by display giving an example
to lawmakers who said that they were going to Washington to work on behalf
of constituents, because I think that we are seeing some real leadership
right now, and I think that they can have an impact.

And I think it would be good for constituents around the country now
to ask the questions of those who are running for office, can you do what
those two guys are doing?

Get your cell phones out. I want to know what you think. Tonight`s
question: Do you approve of the federal government`s response following
hurricane Sandy? Text "A" for yes, text "B" for no to 622639. You can
always go to our blog at Ed.MSNBC.com. We`ll bring you the results later
on in the show.

Joining me tonight, New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez. He, of
course, was with President Obama and Governor Chris Christie today.

Senator, great to have you with us.

You were right in the middle of all of those discussions today and
getting up close as to what is happening. I understand that you`re going
through some pretty tough times as a resident of New Jersey as well. So
you know first hand what the heck is going on.

But I want to focus, if I can, Senator, on the climate that`s in
Washington, and what we`re seeing play out in your state. Clearly, there
is a difference when it comes to cooperation. How effective is it?

SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: Well, it`s been very effective,
Ed. You know, these aren`t Republican communities or Democratic
communities. They`re American communities.

And today, we saw the best of that, in terms of the president, along
with the governor, and other elected officials from the federal government,
myself, Senator Lautenberg, Congressman LoBiondo from that section of the
state.

SCHULTZ: Sure.

MENENDEZ: And all the way down.

So the bottom line is this is about taking caring all we were sworn to
take care of. The president is every American, the government is every New
Jerseyian, and myself representing the state. So that`s what we`re out
there doing and I`m thrilled to see the response we`re getting from the
federal government here with FEMA, with the Army Corps of Engineers, with
National Guard doing some tremendous work in places like Hoboken.

SCHULTZ: How emotional is this for the residents, Senator?

MENENDEZ: You know, Ed, I`ve hugged a lot of people over the last
couple of days. You know, when you lose everything -- I was in
Pleasantville, which is a small community right outside of Atlantic city,
and the mayor there said, I`ve got to show you this one section. I was in
a shelter, and he goes, I`ve got to show you this one section.

And he showed me by the bay a row of homes who had the back of their
hopeless totally ripped out. It looks like a doll house. You can see the
home inside.

And, you know, people who were inside. And, you know, shocked,
obviously, from what they`re going through or, you know? And then you see
people like the mayor of Moonachie, who said to me yesterday, Senator, I
lost my police department, lost most of my fire department, city hall`s
underwater, and about 80 percent of my residents are underwater.

And he`s out there trying to make the best of it.

SCHULTZ: Yes.

MENENDEZ: So -- and I`ve also seen some of the great aspects, Ed.
One of the things I want to say, the better angels in people. It`s amazing
how you can see New Jerseyians come together.

A young woman from Hoboken, whose basement apartment is flooded, has
no idea what tomorrow brings. She`s in a shelter helping other people, not
even thinking about what tomorrow is for her. Just one of when example.

SCHULTZ: Senator, what can your residents expect? This is going to
be a long road back, isn`t it?

MENENDEZ: It`s going to be a slog. And just in Hoboken, you`re
pumping 500 million gallons of water out so you can get, you know, the
wires recovered and then, ultimately, hopefully get the electricity back
on.

So this is going to be a slog. You know, we have substations,
generating stations that got flooded. Those, when we get those back
online, something I asked the president, with the Energy Department, to
help us, any resources they have to be able to do that. He talked about
national utility companies, sending people to New Jersey and airlifting
them to C-130s and military transport, that`s all great.

SCHULTZ: Yes.

MENENDEZ: Because the sooner we can get those substations going,
we`re going to be able to open up electricity for large numbers of people.
And that begins to improve quality of life, get people back on the street.
You know, into work, get their kids in school, get businesses started up
again.

SCHULTZ: And, finally, Senator, are we going to go through a real
tough fight on how to pay for all of this? It`s upwards of $50 billion
right now. Are we going to have the fight in Washington, about offsets,
when it comes to this?

Is this -- are these victims along the shoreline, hey, you were in the
wrong place at the wrong time? Because when the president says, we`re in
this for the long haul, and we`re going to be there, what does that mean?

MENENDEZ: Well, that means recovery. You showed pictures of Seaside
Heights. That`s just some of the tremendous devastation I`ve seen
throughout the state.

The reality is, this is a long-term recovery. And, you know, at the
end of the day, we need the federal government to be part of that.

And I would just say to any one of my colleagues in the country,
remember, you know, it was Joplin, today it`s New Jersey, tomorrow it could
be you. It could be a tornado. It could be a hurricane of different
proportions.

SCHULTZ: Yes.

MENENDEZ: You know, the country is here to take care of its citizens.
And, you know, they don`t ask about offsets at that time. We can figure
that out later.

SCHULTZ: All right. New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, great to
have you with us tonight on THE ED SHOW. Appreciate it so much, all the
best.

Remember to answer tonight`s question there at the bottom of the
screen. Share your thoughts on Twitter @EdShow and on Facebook. We always
want to know what you think.

Coming up, the Romney storm relief event was even more staged than we
already knew. E.J. Dionne joins me for the discussion.

Stay tuned. You`re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: Coming up, Mitt Romney`s so-called "relief event" in Ohio
turned out to be a photo op. I mean, he`s got all kinds of problems in
Ohio. We`ll have the details and visit with E.J. Dionne next.

Then the Romney campaign tries to spin the polls, but the road to 270
is rapidly narrowing for the candidate. Bob Shrum of "The Daily Beast"
thinks it`s over. He`ll weigh in on the state of the presidential race.

And later, as we talked about, Governor Christie and President Obama
took politics aside to help New Jersey towns the devastated by Sandy.
Jonathan Alter joins me to discuss why good governance is also good
politics and timing is everything.

Share your thoughts with us on Facebook and on Twitter using #EdShow.

We`re coming right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

Mitt Romney`s storm relief event in Dayton, Ohio, was more than it
seemed. It turns out the Romney campaign, they bought $5,000 worth of
supplies the night before, to make sure that, you know, this whole thing
just kind of came off OK and looked good.

Well, the idea was to collect goods for the Red Cross. Very noble.
Even though the Red Cross would always prefer cash donations for logistical
reasons. The campaign was worried that there might not be enough donations
since the event was changed at the last minute.

So the night before the event, according to "BuzzFeed", campaign aides
went to a local Walmart and spent $5,000 on granola bars, canned foods,
diapers, and put on display, while they waited for donations to come in.

According to one staffer, the campaign confirmed to "BuzzFeed", it did
donate supplies to the relief effort, but would not specify just how much
it spent. "BuzzFeed" also reported the that empty-handed supporters were
told to grab something going in.

This should really come as no surprise. Mitt Romney has to
manufacture a real connection to real people event, because, it just
doesn`t exist with this guy.

The latest Ohio poll shows Romney trailing President Obama badly on
whether the candidate cares about the needs of people like you. President
Obama also leads on who is better at helping the middle class. President
Obama also leads Romney by five points in Ohio, in large part because
Romney`s 47 percent problems just continue to haunt him.

It is Halloween, isn`t it?

Let`s bring in MSNBC contributor, E.J. Dionne, who is also a
"Washington Post" columnist and author of the book, "Our Divided Political
Heart."

You know, this storm, as devastating as it is, E.J., it seems to have
created some real problems for the Romney campaign. It`s almost as if you
see them, and they are thing, and you can see them thinking out loud, oh,
no, now what do we do?

Staging events -- I mean, how low does it get? Your thoughts?

E.J. DIONNE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of all, I would like to
send my love out to my wife`s family in Rockaway Queens, the neighborhood
right on the ocean that got hammered. It`s a great area and those folks
are having a tough time right now.

And I think this storm presented Romney with a slew of problems, and
that`s how they got themselves into this botched photo op. I mean, first,
of necessity, the president is in the center of the story. And he looks
pretty good out there. And it looks like the federal relief efforts are on
track.

Second, even worse for Romney, you just showed it, Chris Christie, out
there with the president, not only that, but saying the president`s doing a
good job. Chris Christie was one of Romney`s earliest endorsers, the
keynoter at the Republican convention. That is a kind of nightmare.

And the third is, Romney had once said that it would be a good idea to
cut back on federal disaster relief, maybe leave it to the states more,
that doesn`t look good now.

So with all that on the table, he had to do something. And if he had
simply encouraged donations, preferably cash donations, to charities that
are doing good work, that would have been fine. That would have been a
good thing to do. But the Romney campaign always seems to have to push it
one or two steps farther, and that`s what they did here, and that`s how
they get themselves not exactly the story on your shore or other shows that
they would like.

SCHULTZ: Well, sending aides over to a store to buy a bunch of stuff
and handing them supporters as they go in and calling it a relief effort, I
really think, is a serious stretch.

DIONNE: Yes.

SCHULTZ: But he`s had problems with the truth throughout all of this.
Now, at the same event, he wouldn`t answer questions about FEMA, but today
a spokesperson assures everybody that Romney is not interested in getting
rid of FEMA. Do you buy it?

DIONNE: No, not necessarily. Again, the problem with Romney is, we
don`t know which position, from which time is actually his position. There
have certainly been cuts in the Republican Congress to relief efforts.

And I think this story really does remind us that the federal
government has a role to play. The federal government can play a positive
role in our lives. One of the reasons Katrina was such a big scandal is
for years, particularly under Clinton, who really did a good job of
reforming FEMA, we said, yes, this is one of the things the federal
government does well.

And when states get into trouble like this, yes, they can do things
for themselves and they do a lot of stuff for themselves. But they`ve got
to have the fed. So I think right now, he has no choice but to say, well,
whatever I said before, I`m going to keep FEMA.

SCHULTZ: E.J. Dionne, are we going to be lacking on this campaign, if
Romney loses, saying, it was the 47 percent tsunami? That it really was
that that set the table for a lot of other problems that he just couldn`t
overcome throughout this campaign?

DIONNE: Well, I think that the -- whatever momentum Romney had from
the first debate stopped. And my reading of the polls is the last week had
already been going at least slightly in Obama`s direction. And at least on
the first couple of days, from the reaction to what the president did, from
the difficulties Romney has --

SCHULTZ: Yes.

DIONNE: -- this appears to be helping Obama some more. And as long
as polling stations can open up in places like Philadelphia and in northern
Virginia, then the storm, I think, because he responded well, will end up
helping Obama more than it hurts him.

SCHULTZ: E.J. Dionne, always good to have you with us on THE ED SHOW
-- thanks so much.

The Romney camp says they`ll win next Tuesday. The latest poll
numbers, folks, they tell just a different story. Bob Shrum weighs in
next.

Later, it`s been three weeks -- count `em -- three weeks since Mitt
Romney the candidate actually took a question from reporters? And
hurricane Sandy is highlighting his transparency problems. DNC Chair
Debbie Wasserman Schultz is here with reaction tonight. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: Thanks for joining us tonight.

Now, to hear the Romney campaign tell the story, they`re preparing for
certain victory on Election Day.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

NEIL NEWHOUSE, ROMNEY POLLSTER: Obama has a political environment
problem, he`s got an intensity problem, he`s got an image problem and he`s
got a ballot problem. And they all add up to a challenging Tuesday next
week.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Image problem? That`s a new one.

Romney campaign senior advisers are out and about, making bold
statements to reporters, yet providing little evidence.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

RICH BEESON, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: The firewall that I
think they talked about was Iowa, Wisconsin, and Ohio. And right now,
their firewall is burning.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Well, but the polling tells a much different story. It`s
not looking pretty for Mitt Romney if Ohio. The president has a sizable
lead back in Wisconsin. And he`s up in Virginia by five points. The
president even has a narrow lead in Florida.

Today, Mitt Romney campaigned in Florida, to try to make up some
ground. But it may be too late. NBC affiliate WTTV obtained a memo from a
worried GOP adviser in West Palm Beach.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: We obtained an internal memo from a GOP campaign adviser
that says early and absentee turnout is starting to look troubling. The
memo`s conclusion? That "the Democratic turnout machine is cleaning our
clock."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: In the meantime, Romney`s campaign is making a last-ditch
effort to expand the electoral map. Team Romney is looking to make a dent
in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota, that were previously
not in play? The Obama camp is calling out those efforts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID AXELROD, OBAMA CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISOR: I will save off my
mustache of 40 years if we lose any of those three states.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: As for the president, he will resume campaigning while
monitoring Sandy relief efforts. He will embark on a whirlwind swing state
tour this weekend, going to Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Virginia, New Hampshire,
Florida, and Colorado -- everything that really matters in this race.

I`m joined by Bob Shrum tonight, professor of public policy at NYU and
contributor to "The Daily Beast".

Is it over? What do you think?

BOB SHRUM, NYU PUBLIC POLICY PROFESSOR: Well, you know, it`s not over
until they count the votes. But if you look at the structure of the race,
the president has so many more ways to 270 than Romney does. Romney`s
momentum, if it ever existed, and, you know, he was led into the race by
the first debate, slowed after the second debate, stopped, and now when you
go through these polls, it looks like it`s reversing again.

You know what? David Axelrod says he`ll shave his mustache if they
carry those three states, I`ll grow one if they carry those three states.
And I`ll tell you why. Pennsylvania is always fool`s gold for the
Republicans. Wisconsin, that new poll you showed, president`s eight points
ahead. That represents a big comeback. Michigan, they`re not going to win
Michigan. I mean, there`s a new poll out from Epic MRI tonight, which had
been showing Romney doing fairly well, which shows, nope, it`s gone back
the other way. The reason is the auto bailout.

You know what I would say to Neil Newhouse, who was the first person
you quoted with all those problems that the president has? Romney has a
poll problem. He`s behind. He`s behind in almost every single one of the
battleground states. If he loses Ohio, he has to win everything else
virtually.

SCHULTZ: So he`s dropping -- the campaigns -- and of course the Super
PACs are dropping a bunch of money in the states that you mentioned. Five
days can be an eternity with that kind of money.

SHRUM: The reason they`re spending the money there is because they
can`t spend anymore in the other states. All the time is bought. They
have more money than runway. Look, we`ve seen this before. In 2000, Karl
Rove said George W. Bush was going to win California. They spent millions
and millions of dollars on advertising there. They sent Bush out there,
precious time, near the end of the campaign.

I said, Tad Devine, Carter Eskiew, those of us involved in that
campaign said we`re not spending one dime in California, and gore won the
state by 1.3 million votes. The wish can`t become father to the reality,
which is what`s going on here.

SCHULTZ: Like a team trying to talk their way to a championship
instead of playing the game, so to speak. Shouldn`t Romney have Florida
wrapped up?

SHRUM: He should. He has got a lot of -- there, he has structural
advantages because he`s got the governor and he`s got virtually all the
statewide officials. But I think the Medicare issue, which the Republicans
like to say, oh, we`ve countered it with this lie about a 716 billion
dollar cut under Obamacare, when in fact there is no such cut. There`s no
cut in benefits.

I think that seniors have figured out two things. One, Romney wants
to replace Medicare with voucher care. They don`t like it.

SCHULTZ: But isn`t it the Latino and the African-American turnout in
southern Florida that`s going to do it for President Obama? Isn`t that
really the key?

SHRUM: If he carries Florida, it will be the Latino turnout. It will
be the African-American turnout. And it will be a reduced margin among
seniors.

SCHULTZ: OK. Bob, the storm. The polls were taken before Sandy hit,
78 percent approve of the president`s handling of the storm. Does this
change things at all? I mean, here`s the president doing his job, doing
what he is supposed to do, and apparently doing such a good job, one of his
arch rivals in the political world, Chris Christie is just showering the
president with compliments. Does this have an effect?

SHRUM: You know, I give Chris Christie some praise --

SCHULTZ: You think he`s real?

SHRUM: I think he`s on the level about this. I think he cares about
his state. And I think the president responded and did everything that
Christie asked. Look, you live here in New York and you go through this,
and the first thing you think about is all these folks, not the political
impact and what`s happening to them.

But beyond that, I think you will see early voting will slow down in
some parts of Virginia. You may have some people who don`t vote in New
Jersey or can`t vote in New Jersey or New York. But the president`s going
to carry both of those states.

SCHULTZ: Bob Shrum, great to have you with us. Thanks so much.

There`s a lot more coming up in the next half hour of THE ED SHOW.
Stay right with us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, you`ve been asked 14 times today what
would you do with FEMA? What`s your response? Why won`t you answer any
questions on it?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Mitt Romney can`t get his story straight. So he isn`t
saying anything. Up next, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz on the
silence of Mitt Romney.

Michele Bachmann is a Minnesota laughing stock.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: That`s one thing I do not do.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Find out why she was dropping my name at her debate last
night.

And President Obama and Chris Christie are doing the right thing in
New Jersey. Tonight, Jonathan Alter on why good governance is good
politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: And we are back. Throughout Mitt Romney`s entire campaign,
he`s had serious problems with transparency. NBC News campaign embedded
reporter, Garrett Haake, Tweeted today, "it`s been three weeks since Romney
last took a question from reporters?"

Three weeks? Three weeks! Meanwhile, Hurricane Sandy and the issue
of disaster relief is bringing Romney`s transparency problem front and
center. Romney refused to answer questions on what he would do with FEMA.
At least 14 times on Tuesday he was asked that.

However, earlier today, a Romney campaign spokeswoman said that the
emergency management response would include help from the federal
government and FEMA. Her response is a world away from the debate where
Mitt Romney said FEMA should be privatized.

Romney has a long history of flip-flopping and dodging questions on a
number of important issues. He`s refused to, let`s see, give specifics on
his budget and tax plan. He`s refused to say if he supports the Lily
Ledbetter Fair Pay Act for women. He`s refused to say if he would enter
one-on-one nuclear talks with the Iranians.

He`s refused to answer questions relating to Richard Mourdock`s rape
comments. And finally, Mitt Romney has actually refused to go on
Nickelodeon and answer questions from children.

Now, if Mitt Romney can`t answer questions from five-year-old kids,
how do you think that`s going to play with the national press corps? And
isn`t it interesting that Fox News can`t even get an interview with Mitt
Romney right now?

For more, let`s turn to Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of
Florida. She`s the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.
Congresswoman, good to have you with us tonight. It`s a very strange
strategy being played out by Mitt Romney. What do you make of it?

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Well, I think what this
boils down to is a matter of who do you trust? I mean, we know that there
is a very stark contrast and a clear choice in terms of the two directions
that we could go. But, I mean, time and again now, we have examples of
Mitt Romney either being blatantly dishonest, like with the Jeep ad and the
welfare ad, that, by the way, you know, weren`t announced -- I mean, maybe
Mitt Romney thinks that only voters are watching and not fact checkers,
but, you know, the fact that he has refused to answer where he is on all of
these issues, the fact that during the debates, he essentially hid his true
positions -- for example, he also is denying that he would turn Medicare
into a voucher system.

He denies that he has a five trillion dollar tax cut plan, skewed
towards the wealthy, that would increase taxes on the middle class. It
comes down to who do you trust?

SCHULTZ: Well, he just won`t answer any --

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: And President Obama has consistently been there.

SCHULTZ: No doubt. Now, with this storm, and the aftermath, you
think voters will react to Romney`s FEMA flip-flop? Is this a major issue
for him right now, where it would affect voters?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, you know, I think there`s a very clear
example here where you have the president, you know, making sure that we
put first things first, you lay politics aside, and both as the storm was
approaching and in the aftermath of the storm, that as commander in chief,
he`s protecting the Americans who are in harm`s way, and making sure that
we can get things cleaned up and get them -- their needs taken care of --

SCHULTZ: But, I mean, Mitt Romney has talking about privatizing this
part of the government. This has been his philosophy.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Yes. And as a Floridian, that`s very disturbing.
I can tell you that because six months of the year in Florida, we are in
harm`s way, potentially, during Hurricane Season, you know, that idea that
Mitt Romney, during the primaries, in answer to a point-blank question from
John King about whether or not we should get rid of -- rid of FEMA and send
its responsibilities to the states, he said, yes; and then even better, you
could go further and privatize it.

I mean, the aftermath of a storm is one in which it needs a
coordinated effort between state, federal, and local government, which
President Obama and Governor Christie and Governor Malloy and the other
elected officials in the region affected have been doing yeoman`s work. I
shudder to think about what we would do down here in Florida in the
aftermath of a storm if we didn`t have FEMA to coordinate everything.

SCHULTZ: The Koch Brothers` super PAC -- the Koch Brothers` super
PAC, Americans for Prosperity said today that they`re going to spend three
million dollars on anti-Obama advertising in Pennsylvania and Michigan all
the way up to election day. Now, six days, five days -- you know, a lot of
impact there. What`s your take on this? I mean, is this going to have an
impact? Are we going to see the full throat of Citizens United down the
stretch?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I`m sure that they`re going to go swimming in the
kitchen sink at this point. I mean, what they can`t get away from is that
we have been executing our ground game, that we built for almost two years
now. Actually, in some states, we never left, like North Carolina, like
Florida, where our organization has been there since the beginning of the
last campaign. And we`ve been executing. We`ve run circles around the
Republicans when it comes to early vote.

Just to give you an idea, Ed, there`s four or five counties here, Lee
County, Escambia (ph) County, Bregard County, Seminole County, that have
almost double digit or double-digit Republican registration advantages, and
there are many Democrats that have turned out to early vote than
Republicans. And that -- we`ve eclipsed them in early voting. We`ve run
circles around them in the ground game.

So let them swimming in the kitchen sink. And we`re going to keep
turning out voters. That`s what`s going to re-elect President Obama as
president of the United States.

SCHULTZ: So does President Obama win Florida?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: President Obama is going to win Florida, I am
confident.

SCHULTZ: Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz with us tonight.
Thanks so much.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you.

SCHULTZ: Coming up, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann faced Democratic
challenger Jim Graves in their first debate last night. I`ll show you the
Bachmann claim that had the whole audience in stitches, laughing. Stay
tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: And my favorite story of the night. Yesterday,
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann faced Democratic challenger Jim Graves in
the first of three debates leading up to election day. The two clashed
over bridges, health care, taxes and entitlements. But the most memorable
moment was this one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM GRAVES (D), CANDIDATE FOR CONGRESS: Theresa, you just heard some
political speak there, huh? I mean, again, Michele doesn`t say what she`s
for. She says what she`s against.

BACHMANN: It`s insulting to say that these are political speech
because that`s one thing I do not do, is political --

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re going to switch gears, because I think we
need to move on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Yes, switch gears quickly there. She doesn`t engage in
political speech. You know, if she loses her House seat, I think she
should give stand-up comedy a shot. What do you think?

See, Michele Bachmann`s entire Tea Party-approved career is dependent
on her reckless political rhetoric. Nobody would know her name if it
wasn`t for moments like these.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BACHMANN: Now we`ve moved into the realm of gangster government. We
have gangster government, when the federal government has set up a new
cartel.

I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of energy
tax, because we need to fight back.

I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the Swine Flu
broke out then, under another Democrat president, Jimmy Carter. And I`m
not blaming this on President Obama, I just think it`s an interesting
coincidence.

This is it for freedom. If you believe in liberty, and if you don`t
want -- if you`re rejecting tyranny, this is it.

Referrals to follow up for specialty care, is that abortion? Does
that mean that someone`s 13-year-old daughter could walk into a sex clinic,
have a pregnancy test be done, be taken away to the local Planned
Parenthood abortion clinic, have their abortion, be back, and go home on
the school bus that night? Mom and dad are never the wiser.

We have to today make a covenant, slit our wrists, be blood brothers
on this thing. This will not pass. We will do whatever it takes to make
sure this does not pass.

We now have an imperial presidency, where the president has appointed
various guards.

Thank you very much.

MARCUS BACHMANN, HUSBAND OF REP. MICHELE BACHMANN: Thank you for
allowing me --

BACHMANN: Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Ah, the highlight reel. The people of Minnesota`s sixth
district have a real choice to make, and it`s really no longer a laughing
matter.

Tonight in our survey, I asked you, do you approve of the federal
government`s response following Hurricane Sandy? Ninety nine percent of
you say yes; one percent of you say no.

Coming up, good policy is good politics. And today was a major
example. Jonathan Alter joins me next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We are here for you. And we will not forget. We will follow
up to make sure that you get all the help that you need, until you`ve
rebuilt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: So, is this going to be big government or small government
doing this? Welcome back to THE ED SHOW, the big finish tonight. That was
President Obama, obviously, summing up the purpose of his visit to New
Jersey and the meeting with Governor Chris Christie today. "We are here
for you."

Good. It`s a strong, positive statement of good government at its
best. President Obama also showed how effectively he is as a leader.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: And the directive that I`ve given -- and I said this year, but
I will repeat. And I think Craig and others who are working with me right
now know I mean it. We are not going to tolerate red tape. We`re not
going to tolerate bureaucracy.

And you know, I`ve instituted a 15-minute rule, essentially, on my
team. You return everybody`s phone calls in 15 minutes, whether it`s the
mayor`s, the governor`s, the county officials. If they need something, we
figure out a way to say yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: In the highlight, the president described neighbors coming
together in the spirit of this country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: When you see neighbors helping neighbors, then you`re reminded
about what America is all about. We go through tough times, but we bounce
back. And the reason we bounce back is because we look out for one
another. And we don`t leave anybody behind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: There`s probably no question that the political careers of
both Governor Christie and President Obama have been helped by the way they
have been working together. Both leaders were doing their job, and trying
their best to marshal the resources of the federal and state government.
It`s the recovery that is going to take very long and a great deal of
patience.

But no doubt, it`s off to a great start.

Joining me tonight, Jonathan Alter, MSNBC political analyst and
columnist for "Bloomberg View." I mean, we have had --

JONATHAN ALTER, "BLOOMBERG VIEW": Hi, Ed.

SCHULTZ: -- one of the real nemesis of the Obama administration --
Chris Christie rejected the stimulus package that would have connected
Manhattan with his state, which was big commerce. He fired 6,000 teachers.
He attacked public unions. He vilifies workers all the time if they`re on
a wage and looking for something more. And now here he is, cozying up to
the president in a time of crisis. Explain it.

ALTER: Well, you can use all sorts of political explanations, like,
you know, it would be easier for him to run for president at the end of an
Obama second term than it would be at the end of a Romney second term, or
that this helps him to get re-elected as governor of New Jersey. But I
choose to see it in a more sincere fashion. This is a government whose
state is in deep trouble, my state.

There are a lot of people hurting. And so this really isn`t about
politics. It`s about trying to use government for its -- really its
highest purpose, which is to help people when they`re in trouble. And as a
northeastern Republican, who understands, as Mitt Romney did when he was
governor of Massachusetts, that this, you know, extreme conservatism, this
severe conservative thinking, as Romney described himself, it just doesn`t
cut it when people are hurting.

SCHULTZ: Well, having covered storms and devastation in small towns
in the middle of the country, when people lose their homes, they feel like
they have lost absolutely everything and they don`t know where to turn
next. And it does change your attitude. It affects your emotions on how
you view the role of government.

Do you think Chris Christie is seeing a different role of government,
having seen what he has seen the last few days in his state?

ALTER: No, I think he`s always been pretty sophisticated about this
kind of thing. But he knows that he needs to have a great relationship
with the Obama administration to get the help that he needs. You could see
him in that picture that we just saw nodding his head vigorously when the
president said that every phone call would be returned within 15 minutes.
He needs a responsive federal government.

But what this does, Ed, what this whole scene today does is it
reinforces one of the most important themes of this election. Do Americans
believe in government? Because the conservative wing of the Republican
party, which dominates that political party, believes the answer is no.
And as you heard earlier in the broadcast, Mitt Romney actually was ready
to privatize FEMA.

Now, imagine what would happen to the people of New York or New Jersey
or Connecticut if FEMA was privatized, or if it were filled with hacks like
Brownie -- remember him?

SCHULTZ: Oh yes.

ALTER: Instead, we have a great manager, a Republican, who Obama
promoted from Florida, Craig Fugate. And they are getting it done.

SCHULTZ: They purport this theory that the federal government has no
role, a limited role. New Jersey`s been run over with disaster. They
don`t have the state resources to recover at least within the next decade.
I mean, the insurance claims alone, I mean, the push on public services,
the rebuilding of the schools and people`s economies, I mean, it`s -- the
federal government has to play a role.

So doesn`t this shoot down Romney`s argument, across the board, in
many respects in this campaign season?

ALTER: I think it shoots it down in three ways. On the role of
government, you know, if his idea of privatizing FEMA is not a big issue
this weekend, the last weekend of the campaign, I would be very surprised.
The second is on infrastructure, you know the president had a jobs bill
that had a lot of infrastructure in it. One of the reason that things went
badly in New York were poor infrastructure investments.

The Republicans have voted against this. Abraham Lincoln was the
original infrastructure man. It`s Looney Toons that the Republicans have
abandoned that.

And then the third is climate change. The Republicans denied -- they
are full -- the party is full of climate change deniers. So we haven`t had
hurricanes in the New York area in the past. This is clearly a product of
big changes in our climate. So the next president is going to have to deal
with that.

And if you elect Romney, he`s going to be heading a political party
that doesn`t believe it`s a problem.

SCHULTZ: Jonathan Alter, great to have you on THE ED SHOW. Thanks so
much for joining us tonight.

That is THE ED SHOW, I`m Ed Schultz, "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts
right now. Good evening, Rachel.

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

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