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Public Statements

MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript

Interview

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Did you ever think about that, who he`s -- I`m sure you have. He`s attacking basic bread-and-butter people in this country who worked their whole lives and are living on Social Security as somehow bums.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: Well, he`s attacking people on Social Security. He`s attacking people who are veterans. And you know who else
he was attacking? If you watch that video, you see the wait staff walking back and forth in front of the camera. And in some sense, he was attacking them, who have just their first names on their shirts...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

BROWN: ... and you know, they`re not paid much attention to, and they`re probably eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit. They`re probably working harder than most people do in this society, frankly, because they`re struggling and working two jobs. And he`s talking about them as they`re waiting on his friends. And it was pretty interesting, but I -- you know, when...

MATTHEWS: By the way, that`s probably -- that`s probably one reason why one of them put that little camera up on the chair, to get even with that SOB!

(LAUGHTER)

BROWN: We don`t know who that was, yes. But you`re right about that. But I think the issue here is that, you know, when you run for office and you serve in elective office, you raise your right hand and you represent everybody, including people that might not like you and might vote against you and might contribute to your opponent. You still represent them because I want everybody in my state to do better.

My focus is on people that -- in the middle class and people that are looking for opportunity, Pell Grants and, you know, getting ahead, sending their kids to school, going to Lorain Community College or Sinclair or whatever, and having that opportunity of the American dream.

But I respect everybody, and all of us should, from the president on down, as you know.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the president on down.

In Ohio, do you have a sense of the zest, the excitement, the noise of the campaign yet? Do you see the lawn signs? Do you see -- apparently he`s got -- Barack Obama`s operation has 120 offices up there in your state and 600 people working there.

BROWN: Yes.

We have -- he has hundreds of people in the field, as my campaign has 65 full-time organizers. No campaigns in the country -- I don`t think any Senate candidate in the country has that kind of field operation that we do. We have had that in place since March because we know with this onslaught of $19 million, the way to fight back is grassroots, online at SherrodBrown.com, or in the field like that.

We`re working closely with the president on registration persuasion, get-out-the-vote. Tonight, there`s people camping out at the Board of Elections in anticipation tomorrow morning, where I`m going to join them.

Early vote starts tomorrow. We`re ready, we`re organized, and that`s how
you win with this -- in the face of this onslaught of money.

MATTHEWS: It used to be that rich people who traveled a lot out of country, whether they were businesspeople or just people wealthy enough to travel out of the country were the ones who used absentee ballot.

Now everybody use it. I use it because I have to be in New York sometimes or I can`t vote at home. But how does early voting affect you?

Does it lean Republican or is it even-steven now, the people who vote early?

BROWN: No, I think it`s -- I think it`s flipped.

It used to be you had to give a reason for early voting. You had to be disabled. You had to be over 65 or you had to be out of -- you originally just -- you had to be on travel.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

BROWN: And that would mean people in -- wealthy people in Florida or businesspeople, more likely Republicans.

Now it`s all about organizing and getting people there early. In Ohio, we have what`s called the golden week. And this was interestingly written by a Republican legislature, the law was, several years ago, where for one week registration is still open so you can register at the Cuyahoga County or Franklin County or Richland County Board of Elections.

You can register this week to vote and you can vote in your same trip to the Board of Elections. It`s really Election Day registration for a week.

MATTHEWS: I like that.

BROWN: It really makes sense. And we`re urging people to come in this week, people particularly who are least likely to be registered, and that`s people on college campuses that are coming back to school, more low-income people, and people that might have moved for business reasons, whatever, and need to update their registrations.

MATTHEWS: OK.

Here is the battle going on in the air. You are talking the ground game. Here`s the air game. The Obama campaign is running this ad in Ohio to attract voters in coal country. Let`s take a look at this one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)

NARRATOR: Seen these new ads where Mitt Romney says he`s a friend of coal country? This is the guy who wants to keep tax breaks for companies that ship American jobs overseas, the same guy who had a Swiss bank account and millions in tax havens like Bermuda and the Caymans.

And on coal, well, here is what he said as governor outside a coal-fired power plant.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will not create jobs or hold jobs that kill people. And that plant -- that plant kills people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, this is a tricky business because you have a coal situation and environment and all those concerns. How do you win on that argument in your state and how is Mandel running that case? He seems like he`s stuck with the Romney idea.

BROWN: Yes, he is.

And I think you win on that by, you know -- you know, we have talked enough on this show, Chris, and you get this better than almost anybody, that it`s not liberal, conservative, left or right. It`s whose side are you on.

And when I go to Belmont County and I go to Zanesville and Cambridge and Woodsfield and these communities in Appalachia, and they know I want to keep programs strong for veterans. They know in putting them back to work -- veterans, as you know, have a higher unemployment rate than the general
population.

We`re always working on helping with manufacturing. There`s a lot of small manufacturers in these small communities. And I want to make sure that these workers get an opportunity to send their kids to school. We have more -- we have coal mine jobs today in Ohio than we did four years ago.

It`s not a huge number anymore, but it matters in our state, and we`re seeing those -- those -- I think those miners come around and support the president in the end in pretty large numbers because they know he fights for them on taxes, he fights for them on issues of opportunity for their kids, for all of that.

MATTHEWS: Yes. I hope they don`t go for those race-baiting terrible ads on welfare, which are nothing more than a cheap ploy to get people to vote with their resentments.

Anyway, thank you, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio.

BROWN: Glad to be back. thanks, Chris.

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