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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript


Location: Unknown


Thank you, Senator.

I have always looked at you as a perfect fit for Ohio. You seem like an Ohio Democrat. I can`t believe you`re getting challenged, but I guess everybody has to worry about these self-financers that come along with a lot of big bucks to try to buy it at the last minute. What does this race look like right now for your reelection?

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: Well, if you talk to -- any reporter would tell you off the record, not for attribution, that this wouldn`t be a race it weren`t for the $17 million.

Outside groups, sort of directed -- the band is directed by Karl Rove -- have spent literally $17 million in attack ads. We figure it`s Wall Street, we figure it`s oil companies, we figure it`s Chinese interests, some offshore companies that outsource and sell back into the U.S. We don`t know. We just pretty much guess that, because it`s $17 million attacking a guy who stood up to them.

So, we expect that, but we`re fighting back and we`re fighting back with a good grassroots effort.

MATTHEWS: When you vote on these issues, whether they have to deal with jobs or development or trade or whatever, can you tell when you cast that vote in the Senate, when you put your hand up and say aye, do you know at the time the enemies you`re making?

BROWN: I think so.

I think that the issue is, you don`t start calculating, well, if I vote this way, they will spend this many millions of dollars, when you really need to look at politics through the prism of, getting up every day, how do I fight for jobs in Ohio, whose side are you on?

And when it comes to the auto rescue, I know whose side I`m on. When it comes to NAFTA, I know which side I`m on. When it comes to jobs issues and health care issues, you know you`re on the side of the middle class.

You wake up and you think, how do I help families that are struggling in my
state, families that want to send their kids to college? And then it`s much clearer.

You don`t want to think about this little bird on your shoulder saying, hey, if you vote this way, Karl Rove`s going to come in with the oil industry and come in with the Wall Street banks and spend $10 million.

MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at the presidential race.

Matt Bai of "The New York Times" wrote this weekend about the credit being taken for the economic turnaround in Ohio and other swing states performing better than the national average -- quote -- "Republican governors are saying that unemployment rates have plummeted because of their pro-business policies. The president is saying that the hard decisions he made earlier in his term were finally starting to pay off."

And then there`s Mitt Romney, a congenial optimist who finds himself in the uncomfortable position of having to be a total downer, arguing that there really isn`t a recovery at all. "Trust me, you`re still miserable," could be Romney`s bumper sticker in Ohio.

You know, it seems to me watching it from outside of Ohio that the auto industry is everything there. You`re talking now not just Detroit, but Ohio, something -- what percentage of your workers, men and women, owe their jobs directly or indirectly to the success of the American auto industry?

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: The Center for Automotive Research out
of Detroit said 850,000 jobs in a state of 11 million people, Ohio, 850,000
jobs are connected directly or indirectly with autos. It`s not just the plant that makes the Chevy Cruze in Youngstown or the plant that assembles the Jeep Wrangler in Liberty, in Toledo, it`s all the supply chain, it`s all the auto dealers, it`s the machinists and people that fix cars, it`s the people that drive the trucks that move the car parts and the cars around. It`s a zillion car parts manufacturers.

And the Chevy Cruze, for example, much of is made in Ohio from the glass -- or from the transmission to the wheels to the steel, one thing after another.

It`s clear that when we fought for the auto rescue, that that was all about jobs in Ohio.

That`s really Governor Romney and my opponent`s problem is they oppose the auto rescue. They don`t quite know how to back off that. The other thing --

MATTHEWS: Well, where is -- the guy up against you, Mandel, he was against the auto bailout, the auto rescue, right?

BROWN: Well, he called me un-American for supporting it, so I guess you would come to that conclusion, yeah.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s take a look at an ad. I think you`ll like this ad, Senator. The president`s (INAUDIBLE) have been trying to portray Romney as perhaps successfully a businessman who cares more about the bottom line than the average man or woman out there working. Well, this Priorities USA ad was played in Ohio and other swing states earlier this year. Let`s look at this ad.


MIKE EARNEST: Out of the blue one day, we were told to build a 30- foot stage. Gathered the guys and we built that 30-foot stage. Not knowing what it was for.

Just days later all three shifts were told to assemble in the warehouse, a group of people walked out on that stage and told us that the plant is now closed and all of you are fired. I looked both ways. I looked at the crowd. And we all just lost our jobs. We don`t have an income.

Mitt Romney made over $100 million by shutting down our plant and devastated our lives. It turns out that when we built that stage, it was like building my own coffin. And it just made me sick.


MATTHEWS: Translate that ad to what you know about your state and the job situation in Ohio.

BROWN: Well, I translate it this way. From 2000 to 2010 our country lost a third of manufacturing jobs, 5 million jobs, 60,000 plants in the U.S. shut down. Since 2010, once the auto rescue and the Recovery Act started to take hold, we`ve gained nationally 500,000 manufacturing jobs.

Our unemployment rate in Ohio went from over 10.5 percent to under 7.5 percent. Not good enough, far too many people out of work.

But people in Ohio, we make things. We`re the third leading
manufacturing state in the country. We`re coming back. We`re making --
we`re big in aerospace. We`re good -- big in solar energy. We`re obviously big in auto and chemicals and cement and biotech and a lot of medical devices and all of that.

And there`s a real manufacturing strategy now in this country that we`re working on together, that`s really going to make a big difference in Ohio.

MATTHEWS: You`re my kind of Democrat. Senator Sherrod Brown, good luck in this race. I don`t mind saying it. I haven`t said it to many guys, I want to you win.

BROWN: Thanks.


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