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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

I'm Michel Martin and this is Tell Me More from NPR News. It's time for our weekly visit to the Barbershop where the guys talk about what's in the news and what's on their minds. Sitting in the chairs for a shape-up this week are freelance writer Jimi Izrael, media executive Nick Charles, Professor Marc Lamont Hill and outreach Press Secretary for the RNC Sean Conner, Arsalan Iftikhar and Ruben Navarrette are evidently getting their shape-up somewhere else this week. I may jump in here or there, but for now, take it away Jimi.

JIMI IZRAEL: Thanks, Michel. Hey, yo, fellas. Welcome to the shop. How are we doing?

Mr. NICK CHARLES (Media Executive): Pretty good as always. How you doing?

Dr. MARC LAMONT HILL (Assistant Professor, Temple University): Good mate, things is good.

IZRAEL: Man - yo check this out. Robocalls and Republican mailers plaguing the electorate with political propaganda. Whoo, say that five times fast - as we take a final lap to Election Day. Now, both sides of crime filed in Minnesota, they might have even broken the law. We got tape of somebody's robocalls, yes?

MARTIN: Well, I don't know about that. Well, first of all, has anybody gotten a robocall?

IZRAEL: I have footage that's saying...

Dr. HILL: Now, they're all saying robocalls in my neighborhood.

MARTIN: No. No.

Dr. HILL: And the Republican people.

Mr. CONNER: I mean, really.

(Soundbite of laughter)

IZRAEL: Yeah, I mean, they can't get through all the bill collectors trying to call me. See I'd like to say that.

(Soundbite of laughter)

IZRAEL: We don't answer the call.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Dr. HILL: We see an unknown number, we don't pick that up, babe.

IZRAEL: Not exactly.

MARTIN: Well, Marc may be in a battleground state but he's not in a battleground neighborhood. So he's not getting any calls. I'm not getting any calls, but then again, they couldn't get through the screen.

IZRAEL: I'm in a battleground state, too, Michel. I'm in Ohio.

MARTIN: But as we mentioned, you have other issues with - typing up your phone.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Dr. HILL: Yeah, believe me.

MARTIN: Yes. We're kind of questioning whether your phone is still turned on at this...

Dr. HILL: Exactly.

MARTIN: But I think that's a personal issue. But anyway, I'm going to play you a clip from each one of - a robocall from the McCain campaign. Actually this generally last about 45 seconds. We're going to play about 20 seconds. So here's the John McCain call first.

(Soundbite of John McCain robocall)

Unidentified Man: I'm calling for John McCain in the RNC because you need to know that Barack Obama has worked closely with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers. His organization bombed the U.S. capital, the Pentagon, a judges home and killed Americans and Democrats will enact an extreme leftist agenda - they take control of Washington. Barack Obama and the Democratic allies lack the judgment to lead our country.

MARTIN: And then here's a portion of a - I guess you could call it a response robocall from the Obama campaign. Here's a short clip of that.

(Soundbite of Barack Obama's robocall)

Unidentified Woman: I live in Green Bay and like you, I've been getting sleazy phone calls and mail from John McCain and his supporters viciously and falsely attacking Barack Obama. I used to support John McCain because he honorably served our country. But this year, he's running a dishonorable campaign. We know McCain will continue many of Bush's policies and now he's using George Bush's divisive tactics.

IZRAEL: Wow.

MARTIN: Well there you have it.

IZRAEL: That's deep. Thanks, Michel.

MARTIN: You guys are welcome.

IZRAEL: S. Conner, Con man, welcome to the shop. How are you living?

Mr. SEAN CONNER (RNC, Press Secretary): I'm good. I'm good.

IZRAEL: What's up, man? What's up with your people calling all late at night, man and dropping these rhetorical bombs, what's wrong with you all, man? What's up with that?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CONNER: No, I'm sorry. I have to say it's a fair question. It's a fair question because unfortunately, Senator Obama's not talked about what his relationship with Mr. Ayers and then he's not talked about what his relationship with Mr. Resko has been. He's not talked about what his relationship with ACORN has been. I'm sorry. We got questions, and they need to be answered at this point.

IZRAEL: Wait, wait. Hold on, Con man. But we don't - we still don't, we still don't know what McCain's...

Mr. CHARLES: Con man is right.

IZRAEL: Relationship with the - we don't know about McCain's relationship with G. Gordon Liddy. What's up with that?

Mr. CONNER: I hear a comment on that, of course.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Dr. HILL: Oh, what's that? Why you ask say Michel.

Mr. CHARLES: Oh.

IZRAEL: Yo, hell man, yo.

Dr. HILL: Clearly you can't...

IZRAEL: Hill, Dr. Hill.

Dr. HILL: Con man is the perfect name, man. The reality here is that Barack Obama has very clearly and unequivocally addressed the Ayers question and the ACORN question at the debates, on various interviews. I mean, he's addressed the issue. The relationship between Bill Ayers and Barack Obama is very thin, and it's very - you know, there's just not much substance there. Everybody knows that and say - suggested dropping, dropping these rhetorical bombs as Jimi put it. Then people's phones going to somehow answer questions rather simply raise unrealistic and unreasonable fears and anxieties among people. It's ridiculous.

MARTIN: Wait a minute, Sean. Can I just ask...

Mr. CONNER: That's going to get you the truth.

MARTIN: Well, what answer do you want other than what he's already given which is to say, they served on a board together. And that their kids go to the same school. What other answer you're looking for?

Mr. CONNER: Well, a clear accounting of the relationship between Resko and the senator, between ACORN and the Senate. You definitely not answer the question about his relationship with ACORN who they've paid to do work for them, who he's been a lawyer for. I mean, there are lots of questions to be answered and with 11 days left till we decide who the next President of the United States they are fair questions.

Mr. CHARLES: Well, you know. That I think that's...

IZRAEL: Go ahead, Nick.

MARTIN: Go ahead, Nick.

CHARLES: I don't think it's a fair question. I think the problem with the robocalls and I don't have any problem with them as political tactics. You know, everything's going to get dirty, mud-slinging left and right, and that's just the nature of the beast. But I'd love to hear a robocall about what they want to do about the economy. I'd love to get a robocall...

IZRAEL: Right.

CHARLES: About exactly how we even get out of Iraq? I'd love to get a robocall about how they're going to handle immigration. I'd love to get a robocall about something that really matters. That's the part. I don't have a problem with robocall. I'll have problem with the technology or the process, I don't have a problem with the subjects on...

Mr. CONNER: Come on, now. As long as it's not all these and let's be clear went to the fires to - quote unquote, "negative ad out." Aren't the senators has been - the senator, Senator Obama's spent millions of dollars. I think it's upward of $27 million on negative ads against John McCain, trying to link him to being Mc-Same. Oh come on now, right? Let's be honest.

Dr. HILL: Yeah, but that's - that's not the same thing. That's not the same thing. There's a different between - there's a difference between asking critical questions...

Mr. CONNER: Name - naming calling in like yeah.

Dr. HILL: Right. It is politics, right.

Mr. CONNER: Come on, man.

Dr. HILL: Raising critical questions and being a bit aggressive is different than linking someone to domestic terrorism through unfounded acclaims. That's very different and very dangerous.

Mr. CONNER: What you're saying, that Bill Ayers was not a domestic terrorist?

CHARLES: No, I'm saying the link to...

IZRAEL: What about your G. Gordon Liddy, bro?

Mr. CONNER: Are you saying that Bill Ayer was not a domestic terrorist?

Dr. HILL: I'm saying - no, no, no. I'm saying the link between - I'm saying the link between Barack Obama and Bill Ayers is what's untrue. Not Bill Ayers' particular behavior in the 1960s which we could question as well. But that ain't the point. The point is the relationship between him and Obama is not what the Republican Party has suggested it is.

Mr. CHARLES: I think what we're seeing and I definitely want to say, is that Barack Obama is not a domestic Terrorist. Can you agree with me on that one?

Mr. CONNER: Then Barack Obama is not a domestic terrorist.

Dr. HILL: Do you agree?

Mr. CHARLES: Do you agree with that? Yes or no?

Mr. CONNER: I did, that Barack Obama is not a domestic terrorist.

Mr. CHARLES: Thank you. End of the story.

Dr. HILL: All right, then raising those questions does nothing but instill in people the fear that he could be.

Mr. CONNER: Raising the questions about judgment in relationships is not unfair.

Dr. HILL: Well, I guess my - they never finished the interview.

MARTIN: But - you know, another question I had those, Sean, do you think there's any question that - but one of the questions that I was curious about, is do you think that this, you know expands the party. I mean, if this is one thing, it's just to sort of get people angry who are already angry at Obama, that sort of fine. But what about the people who haven't already made up their minds? How does that help you?

Mr. CONNER: I think folks need as much information as they can get in these last couple of days. For example, Sarah Palin they - is talking about what she has done and what she will do for special needs children. We've been talking about the economy. The senator is in Colorado talking about issues facing folks out there. We're talking about the issues, but we also need to talk about judgment. We need to talk about judgment which is important and we need to talk about how Barack Obama's tax plan which said he's going to give 95 percent of Americans tax cuts when 40 percent of Americans don't pay taxes. We need to make sure that that jives, and we're not doing that. People are not asking him, how do you plan to cut taxes for 40 percent who don't pay them?

MARTIN: So, speaking of judgment, Sean, and folks palling around with folks turns out that Sarah Palin's been palling around with personal shoppers. Gee.

(Soundbite of whistle)

MARTIN: (Unintelligible) wardrobe.

CHARLES: Transition.

MARTIN: Sean, you're a sharp shop - you're a sharp dresser yourself, but do you think that showed good judgment?

Mr. CONNER: I think that I agree with the campaign. You don't talk about those kind of things and there are...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CHARLES: I agree with the campaign that we won't talk about you.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CONNER: I mean, word is...

MARTIN: Yeah, go ahead, Sean man.

Mr. CONNER: There are more important things to be talking about, about energy security, about where we're at in the international world, I've been, who spent alone about...

Mr. CHARLES: Don't forget flag pins.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Nick, Nick is in New York and he actually is, you know, in the - kind of with the fashion, entertainment world. He actually thinks that it's all - go ahead, Nick.

Mr. CHARLES: You know, Sean. Whether you guys talk about it or not, I don't think there's a big problem with it as long as the money came from the right place, meaning if the RNC paid for it, if John McCain paid for it, as long as taxpayer's dollars didn't pay for that. I've no problem with them dressing up Sarah Palin, coming from Alaska, not being a fashion plate, but have a certain look...

Mr. CONNER: Hey, hey, hey. I lived in Alaska, and I was still fashionable. Don't even - but...

Mr. CHARLES: I'm not talking about you. I'm not talking about - I'm talking about Sarah Palin.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CONNER: Always very clearly...

IZRAEL: Defensive much?

Mr. CHARLES: But I don't think, Sean...

Mr. CONNER: With it anyway.

CHARLES: Can I finish? I'm not saying...

Mr. CONNER: You're more than getting going like this.

Mr. CHARLES: I'm not saying - can I finish? What I'm trying to say is I don't have anything - problem with her spending 150 grand as long as the money came from the right place. Because you have to dress your candidate up.

Dr. HILL: I agree.

CHARLES: But the fact that you guys won't even talk about it...

Dr. HILL: I am mad. I am mad that John McCain upgraded. But here's my issue. My issues is it's like if she presents she's up with this modest hockey mom and suddenly she's rocking Dolce and Gabana and this and that and getting her hair tossed for 4 or 5 gees. That's a very different image that what she's projecting of modesty, of frugality, of fiscal responsibility. I'm just saying, there might be some contradiction there. And then when you talk about Barack Obama being, you know, the celebrity who spends all his money on suits and stuff. The reality is they all spend a lot of money on clothes. We shouldn'T single her out...

Mr. CONNER: Right.

CHARLES: Right.

IZRAEL: But you can't say you're a party of modesty and then you get - and you just start balling out of control like that.

Mr. CONNER: One of the things that this party...

IZRAEL: Yeah, Sean.

Mr. CONNER: The other thing is we're donating all of those clothes to, you know, to charity. So, let's talk about that. Let's talk about how this is not an issue. It's not an issue when the economy needs to be addressed, and we need to be talking about Joe the Plumber, Juanita the Hairdresser, Jack the...

IZRAEL: Joe the Plumber's relevant.

Mr. CONNER: And those kinds of folks.

CHARLES: Juanita the Hairdresser.

IZRAEL: Yo, I oh yo, Sean. Hold on, Sean. Sean, I got a question for you. And I've been aching to ask a Republican this question. Now I'm not in the tank for anybody, bro. I'm in the tank for Jimi. Check this out. Would we still be hearing about the Joe the Plumber if he was black?

Mr. CONNER: You would still be hearing about Joe the Plumber no matter who he is because Joe is the average American who is working the 50 hours a week trying to put food on the table, being a single dad? Come on, now. Come on.

Mr. CHARLES: Joe is a fraud.

Dr. HILL: Joe the exaggerater is what he is.

Mr. CONNER: No. (Unintelligible)

IZRAEL: Right.

Mr. CONNER: Because Joe represents so many folks on the grind trying to make money, trying to take care of themselves, and we need to be honest about...

IZRAEL: You see, that's the issue.

Mr. CONNER: We need to be honest about what Barack's tax plans will do to these folks.

MARTIN: I need to jump in. I'm sorry. I need to jump in just a minute to say, if you're just joining us, you're listening to Tell Me More from NPR News. I'm speaking with Jimi Izrael, Nick Charles, and Sean Conner in the Barbershop. Back to you, Jimi.

IZRAEL: Thanks, Michel. Yo, I'm sorry are you admitting those...

MARTIN: Can I just say, I point out Sean, Sean, Sean is a fly dresser, too I have to say.

IZRAEL: I don't doubt it. Yeah, and I've been known to rock a pair, you know? A couple of hundred dollar Jordan's man but dag, you know, $150.000, man?

Dr. HILL: Hundred fifty thou - right. That's a whole lot of Jordans, babe.

IZRAEL: That's a lot of Jordans, B and I guess the whole problem with that is you say it's not relevant. But it's like, you know, you try to prop up like you're a soccer mom and a soccer mom just don't be rockin prada, yo. Seriously...

Mr. CHARLES: Only in Westchester.

MARTIN: No. How do you know?

IZRAEL: I know soccer moms, trust me.

MARTIN: Wait a minute, how did you know?

IZRAEL: The soccer moms I know don't rock Prada. Thank you.

MARTIN: OK.

Mr. CHARLES: I'm moving to Scarsdale.

Dr. HILL: Or maybe they should, but we're talking about fiscal restraint with responsibility.

Mr. CONNER: But you know, it's really interesting. Did anybody see yesterday, the first lady of California, Maria Shriver came out said, this is not an issues and she definitely is not in the tank for Senator McCain and Governor Palin. It's a non-issue. This needs to be taken off the table so we can talk about the economy.

Dr. HILL: So we can talk about robocalls.

Dr. HILL: Well, we can talk about Joe the Plumber.

MARTIN: Well I think we need to talk about - we need to talk about the World Series, too.

IZRAEL: Oh, yeah. The Phillies are in the series against all conventional wisdom.

Mr. CHARLES: Yes, yes, yes.

IZRAEL: They got in the series and they made sort of big dance, but Nick, do you think that they're going to go the distance?

Mr. CHARLES: Look, you know, this is personal for me because I'm a Mets fan, one, and my brother-in-law has a store in Philly and sells these ugly t-shirts with the Met logo with the Phillies name over it. And so, he's not invited for Thanksgiving.

MARTIN: That's harsh.

Dr. HILL: That's a lot.

MARTIN: That's harsh.

Mr. CHARLES: So, all I got to say is this. Is that, you know, the Phillies - not my team of choice. I'm don't know, you know, a nickel in a dime about the American league anyway and you know, Tampa Bay has a great story. There's also a lot of great African - young African, young African-American players in a sport that seeing less and less great athletes go to play baseball. So I'm happy about that. I love Ryan Howard. I love Jimmy Rolands, but the Phillies can take a short walk off of a shorter pier.

IZRAEL: Dr. Hill, Dr. Hill, Dr. Hill.

Dr. HILL: OK, yeah. Marc Lamont Hill here has got to step in and first of all, Mets fans are the worst people on the planet when it comes to sports.

MARTIN: Oh, that hurtS.

Dr. HILL: You know what?

MARTIN: You see, like that hurtS.

IZRAEL: No, no, no. This is what it is.

MARTIN: Because you know.

IZRAEL: This is what it is. This is what it is.

Dr. HILL: The Yankees are like Beyonce and the Mets are like Solange, right? So you all have this little inferiority complex going on.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CONNER: You just took that to a whole 'nother level.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Dr. HILL: He said it.

MARTIN: Did he - did he take it right there? Didn't he?

Dr. HILL: I'm just saying, because we've been beating the Mets consistently for the last few years and there's always - Mets fans always have an excuse for why we're not better than them. You know, the Phillies are the losingest(ph) team in the history of professional sports. We have the longest, deepest tradition of suffering. So y'all should have some hope for us. We're in a city where there's violence, where there's people getting hurt every day. There's been no violence, the city is galvanized, and we're excited. We're about to win our first championship in 25 years, why don't y'all just jump on board and not hate this one time, Mets fans. Please.

Mr. CHARLES: Marc, I live in Brooklyn so (unintelligible).

MARTIN: Yeah, we're from...

IZRAEL: Yo, Sean.

MARTIN: Where's Sean, Sean, where are you on this?

Mr. CONNER: Let me tell you on that on this. It's really clear. I am from Oakland, California. I am Oakland A's all the way, so - whatever.

Mr. CHARLES: They still play baseball?

IZRAEL: Y'all still got a baseball team?

Mr. CONNER: Always got to say is this. You know, I have one of my best friends in the entire world lived in Philly. He's in law school, and so I kind of have a feel for that and then I got good friends who live in New York, and I was just there so I kind of understand. So my question is why we got to put the World Series on hold to see Barack talk?

(Soundbite of group exclamation and groans)

Mr. CHARLES: Oh.

Dr. HILL: Oh, no.

(Soundbite of laughter)

IZRAEL: You know something, Sean? Sean. I was with you almost up there to the last minute. Think about that. (Unintelligible)

MARTIN: But did you check how Marc now made it like a social responsibility to root for the Phillies. I mean, at first, it's just like a sports thing, and you know, we were just doing our thing and like now, it's like we have to be for the people. We have to go with Philly.

CHARLES: Right.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: I don't even know how to respond to that.

Mr. CONNER: Compelling argument.

Dr. HILL: If you like supporting the homeless and kittens, you've got to support the Phillies.

IZRAEL: That's it exactly.

MARTIN: Jimi, you're charge of - Jimi's kind of in charge of social irresponsibilities so maybe you could help us balance the scales here. I don't know.

IZRAEL: Here we go. Yo, I mean, I mean...

Dr. HILL: You ain't to leave for Cleveland though man.

IZRAEL: Hey, hey, hey, hey now, hey now. We got the Browns and we got the Indians which is a lot like that...

Mr. CHARLES: You got Lebron. You got Lebron. That's what you need.

IZRAEL: But yeah, right. But we got Lebron, that's really all we need. You know? But I mean.

Dr. HILL: You all better take some pictures of him because he won't be there long.

IZRAEL: Well, you know what? You might be right. You know, because I think that Jay-Z is trying to get him signed to the Nets and out of his contract though, so...

MARTIN: Sean, can you just for the people who don't know - could you just explain what you meant by that? By what we had to wait to hear Barack talk, could you just explain what you meant?

Mr. CONNER: Oh, I'm sorry. Just to circle back around, what is it? If we get to the seventh game, the night Senator Obama has bought up all this air time to chat with the American people, they're going to postpone the beginning of the game by what? 15 minutes or so to...

MARTIN: I'm sorry, didn't he say, bought air time. I think that's called, hating.

(Soundbite of laughter)

IZRAEL: Ah, right. Right.

Mr. CONNER: No, no, no.

MARTIN: He bought the airtime.

Mr. CONNER: I mean the problem is...

MARTIN: There's a $150,000, you all could have put in that kitty I think so that...

Mr. CHARLES: Exactly.

Mr. CONNER: Hold on. The problem is - no...

Dr. HILL: You know, y'all should have taken Sarah's Manolo fund.

Mr. CONNER: I want to talk about Pennsylvania and use it as a type, he needs to try to close the deal which he didn't do in Pennsylvania. So this is an attempt to try to close the deal. I don't know if it'll work. Don't think it will work but you know. He could spend the money he wants, the way he wants to because you know, he didn't take public financing and did not commit to - then, you know, didn't keep his promise to the American people to do so. So let's talk about that, and we'll talk about where all these money coming up and the fact that, you know there's tons if it unaccounted for and we got people like - there you have folks giving him money.

IZRAEL: OK, fellas. All right. Before we wrap up, guys. Before we - hold on. Before we wrap up, I think we'd be remiss if we didn't pour out a little liquor for the human tornado, the disco godfather, Dolemite himself died this week.

Mr. CHARLES: Oh yeah, right.

MARTIN: Yes. That's true.

IZRAEL: Here in Akron, Ohio so yeah. I just got throw deuces to my dude and wherever you at, man. I'm sure you're the baddest mo-fo there. Holla. Michel, back to you.

MARTIN: We'll translate that on the - on our website.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: A translation of exactly what you just said.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Jimi Izrael is a freelance journalist who writes for the root.com and TV1 online. He joined us from member station WCPN in Cleveland. Nick Charles is the managing editor of essence.com. He joined us from our bureau in New York. Dr. Marc Lamont Hill is an assistant professor of Urban Education and American Studies at Temple University. He joined us from Philadelphia. And Sean Conner is the Outreach Press Secretary for the Republican National Committee. He was kind enough to join us from his office in Washington. Gentlemen, thank you all so much.

Dr. HILL: Thanks, Michel.

Mr. CONNER: Glad we could do it.

IZRAEL: Yup yup!

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