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Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Monday, June 6, 2011

Read the transcript from the Monday 6 p.m. hour

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Guest Host: Al Sharpton

Guests: Jonathan Capehart, Ryan Grim, Azi Paybarah, Matt Lewis, Alex

Wagner, Ben Cardin, Pat Buchanan, Bill Press

REV. AL SHARPTON, HOST:  Good evening.  I‘m Reverend Al Sharpton, in tonight for Cenk Uygur. 

It‘s been an amazing day, to say the least, of breaking news in the Anthony Weiner story.  After new photos and explicit text messages appeared online today, the congressman held a news conference in a room packed with reporters here in New York. 

The congressman admitted he lied.  He lied last week about sending an explicit photo.  He apologized for his behavior, but he said he would not resign. 

And then he addressed the press. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK:  I would like to take this time to clear up some of the questions that have been raised over the past 10 days or so and take full responsibility for my actions. 

At the outset, I‘d like to make it clear that I have made terrible mistakes and have hurt the people I care about the most.  And I am deeply sorry.  I have not been honest with myself, my family, my constituents, my friends, and supporters and the media. 

Last Friday night, I tweeted a photograph of myself that I intended to send as a direct message as part of a joke to a woman in Seattle.  Once I realized I had posted it to Twitter, I panicked, I took it down, and said that I had been hacked.  I then continued with that story, to stick to that story, which was a hugely regrettable mistake. 

This woman was unwittingly dragged into this and bears absolutely no responsibility.  I am so sorry to have disrupted her life in this way. 

To be clear, the picture was of me, and I sent it.  I‘m deeply sorry for the pain this has caused my wife, Huma, and our family, and my constituents, my friends, supporters and staff.  In addition, over the past few years, I have engaged in several inappropriate conversations conducted over Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, and occasionally on the phone with women I have met online. 

I have exchanged messages and photos of an explicit nature with about six women over the last three years.  For the most part, these communications took place before my marriage, though some sadly took place after.  To be clear, I have never met any of these women or had physical relationships at any time. 

I haven‘t told the truth, and I‘ve done things I deeply regret.  I brought pain to people I care about the most, and the people who believed in me, and for that I‘m deeply sorry. 

I apologize to my wife and our families, as well as to our friends and supporters.  I am deeply ashamed of my terrible judgment and actions. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  Joining me now is Jonathan Capehart, MSNBC political analyst and editorial writer for “The Washington Post”; and Ryan Grim, congressional correspondent for “The Huffington Post.”

Good evening to both of you. 

Tell me—first, tell me, Jonathan—let me start with you—you did a lot of your career in New York.  What is the political fallout of this amazing story today in terms of the fact that many considered Congressman Weiner a leading candidate for mayor in ‘13?  He was a seven-term congressman. 

Give me the political fallout of this. 

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, I mean, you put your finger on it. 

Congressman Weiner was the one who everyone was looking to run to succeed Mayor Bloomberg when his term is up in 2013.  He is a leading liberal in the city.  Here in Washington, in the capital.  He was someone whose political star was bright.

You know, his marriage to Huma Abedin was also considered to be giving (ph) her closeness to then-Senator Clinton, now Secretary of State Clinton.  This is a really sort of shocking day I think for New York and New York politics, to see yet another bright light dim so quickly. 

But the one thing that‘s different here is that, you know, senator—

I‘m sorry, Congressman Weiner hasn‘t done anything illegal.  At least he‘s saying he hasn‘t done anything illegal, whereas some of the other things we have seen in the past, you know—I‘m sorry, Governor Spitzer and his valiances using prostitutes, and Senator David Vitter here from Louisiana also doing the same, this is quite different. 

SHARPTON:  But there‘s no criminal allegation as of yet. 

CAPEHART:  Right, no criminal allegations. 

SHARPTON:  Ryan Grim, let me ask you—you cover the Hill as well as anybody.  And what is the fallout in Congress?  A lot of his colleagues, a lot of those that he will—if we assume he stays in office, as he says he will, how will he be dealt with in the House? 

RYAN GRIM, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, “THE HUFFINGTON POST”:  Well, Nancy Pelosi came out with a statement just recently saying that she‘s calling for a full investigation into whether or not he broke any House rules. 

SHARPTON:  Well, I‘m going to play that statement.  She said—let me read the statement to you.  I‘m glad you brought it up, Ryan.

Ms. Pelosi says, “I am deeply disappointed and saddened about this situation, for Anthony‘s wife Huma, his family, his staff and his constituents.  I am calling for an ethics investigation to determine whether any official resources were used or any other violation of House rules occurred.”

Interesting statement, wouldn‘t you say, Ryan? 

GRIM:  Right.  And I think Nancy Pelosi is probably thinking about all of the pressure that she came under for years to launch an investigation into Charlie Rangel.  And she finally, finally did that, but it was only after holding out for months and months and months.  And so she‘s getting right out in front of this.  You can‘t demand that Pelosi call for an investigation, because she herself has already done this. 

Now, Weiner has said that he doesn‘t think that he used House resources for any of this stuff.  Now, obviously, he did break the House Ethics Rule that says your conduct has to reflect well on the House.  But I suppose, you know, your take on how well esteemed the House is would have something to do with whether or not he sullied its image. 

SHARPTON:  But wouldn‘t you have also to deal with the fact that the Ethics Committee is a majority Republican?  And you‘re not talking about those that may not decide to go several different ways with an ethics investigation now.  Even though it was called by Ms. Pelosi, the Republicans control the House now. 

GRIM:  Historically, you do have to give the House Ethics Committee a lot of respect for operating in a bipartisan way.  They often operate in a bipartisan way to protect both parties from any ethics scandals. 

And so, you know, that‘s one of the last bastions of bipartisanship where they‘re protecting themselves from real scrutiny.  So I would suspect that that panel will do a pretty fair investigation.  If he did use House resources for this, it probably is something that the tech team can determine fairly quickly.  It‘s kind of a cut-and-dry thing. 

CAPEHART:  Yes.

SHARPTON:  Jonathan, tell me about how this lines up the mayor‘s race.  Here was a guy who ran for mayor before, did above expectations in the primary, was considered a front-runner, if not the front-runner.  What does this do to New York City politics? 

CAPEHART:  Well, it certainly shakes up New York City politics.  Like you said, when he ran, I believe it was 2005, and then it was in a runoff with then Freddy Ferrer.  He backed out rather than go through the runoff, but everyone saw him as a very strong candidate setting himself up for a run next time. 

Some people think he should have done it when Mayor Bloomberg ran for a third term, and he didn‘t.  He decided to wait.

I think the only thing he could hope for, Congressman Weiner could hope for, is that when the election rolls around in 2013, that memories will have softened, he will have rehabilitated himself beyond this current scandal.  And people will be willing to give him a second look and be willing to entrust him with mayoralty of New York.  Right now that‘s a bit shaky.

Well, let me ask both of you this—is the problem the conduct, which he admitted was very bad, inappropriate, and all that you could think, or was it the cover-up, the lying?  What is it that the public would have to get over, the cover-up or the act? 

Let me ask Ryan first. 

GRIM:  Sure.  I mean, there are a few publics that he has to worry about here. 

I think if there were a pure level field, he might be fine.  This is something that most people in the public might be able to get over.  But how does he navigate his way to that?

You know, now he has to deal with the donor community.  If you‘re a donor, are you going to be jumping to write Anthony Weiner a check at this point?  So that‘s going to be a major concern of his.  And at the same time, there‘s going to be a lot of pressure on other New York Democrats to condemn him.

You know, Republicans, I think they‘re already calling for Schumer to condemn what he‘s done.  And so they‘re going to target—

SHARPTON:  Well, not to mention, he has got to deal with his congressional district.  He has to be reelected next year before you get to a mayor‘s race. 

GRIM:  That‘s right.

SHARPTON:  And Jonathan, what is the kind of district he‘s elected from?  Is it a conservative district?  I mean, what kind of district will he be facing in terms of his vote next year for Congress? 

CAPEHART:  Well, I mean, clearly, he‘s been elected—he was first elected in 1998, so he‘s been there for a while and has been able to build up alliances and allegiances among a very disparate district.  We will see as the weeks go on just how folks in his district feel about what he‘s done.  You know, you have all sorts of folks who get into ethical problems and be investigated—

(CROSSTALK)

SHARPTON:  Well, we‘re going to have to leave it there.

Thank you, Jonathan Capehart, Ryan Grim. 

CAPEHART:  All right.

SHARPTON:  Thank you very much.  We are going to have to leave it there.

GRIM:  Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON:  Coming up, though, more on Congressman Weiner‘s admission.  

Can he survive politically? 

And Sarah Palin is still proving she don‘t know much about history.  But she does know how to shake up the Republican presidential race.  Pat Buchanan and Bill Press will debate Palin ahead.  I might jump in that one, too. 

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON:  We‘re back with the breaking news from the Anthony Weiner scandal.  The congressman, admitting he sent lewd photos and text messages over the Internet. 

In the middle of today‘s news conference, he also talked about his wife. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WEINER:  My wife has known about some of these online relationships since before we were married.  And we spoke frankly about them because—well, we spoke frankly about them.  But she didn‘t know until this morning that I had not been telling the truth about whether I posted the Twitter posting last week. 

I‘ve never had sex outside my marriage, and I‘ve done these things, and I regret them, but I have never done anything that you described.  And I don‘t know where else to get (ph) it. 

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) 

WEINER:  I‘m not making any excuses for my behavior.  I don‘t do drugs.  I was not drinking.  That wasn‘t the cause of this.  This was me doing a dumb thing, and doing it repeatedly and then lying about it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  Weiner‘s wife works in the State Department and was not at the news conference today. 

Joining me now is Azi Paybarah, political reporter of “The New York Observer”; Alex Wagner, reporter for “The Huffington Post”; and Matt Lewis, senior contributor with “The Daily Caller.”

Let me start with you, Azi.  You were at the press conference today, and you have been blogging about this the entire time. 

Would this have been different if Congressman Weiner had come out quick, early, admitted wrong, said he did a dumb thing, and moved on? 

AZI PAYBARAH, POLITICAL REPORTER, “THE NEW YORK OBSERVER”:  Well, I think a lot of this would have been different.  He misled people, he misled reporters, he misled his own staff, he misled his own wife up until this morning.  So now that he‘s come clean and has admitted to a number of inappropriate conversations, the first thing he has to do is rebuild that trust with a number of people.  I think one of your earlier guests said he has to rebuild the trust with his own family, with the donor community, and at some point with voters.

SHARPTON:  Alex, how does he rebuild that, and how does he rebuild his credibility as a media star really in the Democratic Party?  I mean, here‘s a guy who is often interviewed, often taking on contentious congressional issues and other issues.  How does he now rebuild, if at all, his media celebrity? 

ALEX WAGNER, REPORTER, “HUFFINGTON POST”:  Well, we know from Eliot Spitzer‘s example that it‘s possible to rebuild your media credentials, but I think he has a tough climb ahead of him.  And one of the things that struck me about this whole thing was you look at his press gaggle last week, and he was so contentious.  I mean, he was almost verbally abusive to one CNN producer who was asking him what are now I think widely acknowledged to be legitimate questions. 

Weiner is definitely going to have some fences to mend.  I think his wife is going to have to be part of the equation.

And beyond that, I think, you know, he‘s at his best and has been at his best in this last week when he‘s taken more of a quieter, conciliatory tone.  And I think insofar as he could have been masterful in a press conference, he was quite good today.  He fessed up, he was honest, and he didn‘t try to cut any corners. 

SHARPTON:  Well, Matt, will the Republicans be putting out commercials tonight using Weiner now as the poster boy of the hypocrisy of the left?  I mean, what time do we see the commercials? 

MATT LEWIS, SR. CONTRIBUTOR, “THE DAILY CALLER”:  Well, I don‘t know if we‘ll see any tonight.  It might be unseemly, and there is a rule, a maxim, of course, in politics.  You don‘t interfere with your opponent when he‘s in the process of destroying himself.  But those ads will come. 

But I think there is another factor to bring up here.  I mean, we talked earlier about the question over whether or not he used federal—you know a computer or a BlackBerry.  I mean, I think it‘s probably likely at some point that he did.  That could bite him.

But the other thing we haven‘t brought up is the fact that Andrew Breitbart, it seems like, has some other much more graphic photos of Congressman Weiner that he doesn‘t deny are out there, and it makes me wonder sort of going forward how Representative Weiner is going to be willing to go on TV, knowing these other photos are out there. 

SHARPTON:  Well—go ahead.  I think you were getting ready to respond to that, Alex. 

WAGNER:  Yes.  Reverend, I think that the Breitbart question is actually really interesting. 

One of the things—it was one of those moments you never thought would happy, was Anthony Weiner apologizing to Andrew Breitbart.  And perhaps that was an effort to say, hey, maybe we can be on the same side here for at least five minutes?  If Breitbart has a cache of lewd photos, that‘s certainly going to give the story legs into next week.

And we‘re just finding out now that Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is calling for an ethics investigation of Anthony Weiner.  I mean, those are serious repercussions if we‘re talking about his legislative career. 

SHARPTON:  Now, Azi, doesn‘t he also have a problem in terms of his congressional district in that lines are being redrawn this year, and he really does not know where his congressional boundaries may be.  The district that elected him seven times may look a little different after the lines are redrawn this year.  I don‘t know if people around the country understand that.

PAYBARAH:  Well, that‘s a problem that a lot of New York congressional members are going to have.  Remember, New York is going to lose two seats.  And after the midterm elections, Republicans picked up a number of seats, and Democrats are sort of scratching their heads as to where those lines are going to be redrawn. 

Remember, Governor Cuomo wanted there to be an independent, nonpartisan redistricting effort.  And in previous years, lawmakers sort of picked their own voters and drew the lines themselves. 

What I think was very interesting about what Andrew Breitbart said today at a press conference, where he briefly hijacked it for a moment, was he said there‘s at least one more photograph he has, and out of decency for Anthony Weiner and his family, he will not release it. 

Now, Anthony Weiner did not deny that there‘s a number of images out there about him, and I think today‘s acknowledgement was the first I think in trying to put this behind him. 

SHARPTON:  Well, Alex, how much would become too much if they start putting out too many more photos?  You said today that Congressman Weiner did a good job in terms of the press conference.  He came, he admitted, he really said a lot of things that had to be extremely painful. 

If Breitbart continues to badger him, at what point does it become too much?  Or has Weiner destroyed himself to the point where it doesn‘t matter? 

WAGNER:  Well, I think Breitbart is occupying an interesting middle zone right now where he has some redemption.  This doesn‘t turn out to be to be a conservative conspiracy.  This was legit, Breitbart was legit in his claims all along.  I think the more he tries to make this—the more he‘s sort of unrelenting and tries to push any kind of agenda, he obviously loses credit. 

Now, there‘s also the question of censorship and what‘s appropriate to have on the air.  And depending on what these photos are, I don‘t think that he‘s going to be able to show that much more.  Certainly the Internet is its own domain, but I think right now the appetite for just knowing the extent of this—I mean, the public is asking to know, what are the ages of the women that Weiner was contacting?  I mean, there‘s a lot more to this that has yet to be revealed. 

SHARPTON:  Let me ask each of you—we‘ll start with Matt—does he survive this? 

LEWIS:  I think it depends on what the House Ethics Committee comes up with.  I think that he‘s in a fairly safe district, depending on how they redraw the lines.  But he could be censored.  I do think that he could be sort of forced out by the leadership if there‘s some ethics problems in terms of using federal resources.  Otherwise, I think he could ride this out. 

SHARPTON:  Azi? 

PAYBARAH:  He could survive.  It depends how quickly he gets ahead of this and how much news value reporters and editors find in the new photographs that might come out. 

SHARPTON:  Alex? 

WAGNER:  I think I‘m putting him at 50/50 right now.  Like I said, I think this thing is unfolding.  I think the Pelosi angle is disconcerting for his longer-term career. 

SHARPTON:  Now, in the long run, he could survive Congress and not run for mayor.  I mean, there are any number of scenarios. 

If you were advising him, Matt, what would you advise him to do in terms of focus? 

LEWIS:  If I were advising him, what I would have told him to say today was that, I have a drinking problem, and when I drink I do stupid things, and I‘m checking myself into rehab.  He didn‘t go that route.  I mean, I give him credit for apparently finally be honest after lying to Luke Russert on this network, after lying to Wolf Blitzer on CNN.  But if I were a political strategist, this morning I think I would have told him to go that route. 

SHARPTON:  Azi, this has been a news day.  We have the congressman admitting he lied, and we have Matt admitting he would have told him to lie. 

What would you have advised him to do?

PAYBARAH:  I don‘t give politicians advice.  I just write about them. 

SHARPTON:  Alex?

WAGNER:  Look, we have John Edwards getting indicted.  This is the season of men behaving badly.  I think it would be premature to say where the chips are going to end up falling. 

SHARPTON:  OK.  I‘m going to give you the last word after that shot at all men—or at least some men. 

Azi, Alex, Matt, thanks for your time.

PAYBARAH:  Thank you.

LEWIS:  Thank you.

WAGNER:  Thanks.

SHARPTON:  Paul Ryan‘s radical budget is under attack from Democrats and activists across the country who are vows to fight to safe Medicare.  Maryland‘s Ben Cardin is one of those senators, and he joins me next. 

And after letting Glenn Beck go, Fox News chief Roger Ailes is looking to hire—you won‘t believe who he‘s interested in. 

Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON:  Democrats in Congress have a sharp message for Republicans on the subject of Medicare—we will not give an inch.  And some are sending a similar message to the Obama administration. 

In a letter to Vice President Biden, five Democratic senators facing reelection next year write, “We wish to identify in advance one proposal that we cannot support in any form—the House-passed plan to dismantle Medicare.  For the good of the nation‘s seniors, it must remain off the table.”

But do they expect the Obama White House to listen.

Joining me now is Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland, one of the five senators to sign that letter to the vice president. 

Thank you for joining me, Senator Cardin. 

SEN. BEN CARDIN (D), MARYLAND:  My pleasure.

SHARPTON:  Tell me why you wrote this letter to the vice president.  I mean, what was the urgency of you and your colleagues writing the vice president about keep Medicare off the table in his conversations with Republicans? 

CARDIN:  Well, two major points.

First, it‘s clear to us that the Republicans that are negotiating the budget deal are trying to use the debt ceiling as a way to accomplish their extreme agenda.  And secondly, it‘s clear that their proposal that would privatize Medicare and allow our seniors to be subject to the whims of private insurance companies is clearly on the table during these negotiations. 

So our point was to make it clear to the vice president that we cannot allow our seniors to be put at risk by redoing the Medicare system and- having them pay a lot more for their health care. 

SHARPTON:  Now, the Republicans have begun to say that the problem is not the substance of the Ryan budget plan, but how they have laid it out.  I read Paul Krugman today in The Times saying that it‘s really vouchercare. 

Is it packaging or is I t really that the substance of what they‘re saying is really bad?

CARDIN:  No, it‘s the substance.  The Ryan budget would be devastating to our seniors.  It would put them at risk.  They would pay twice as much as they‘re currently paying for health care.  It does nothing to bring down health care costs.  All it does is transfer the costs over to our seniors, requiring them to go to private insurance companies.  We tried that before Medicare.  It didn‘t work.  So, no, this is a matter of a policy debate and, clearly, the Republicans are trying to—to change Medicare and using every way they can to get it done.

SHARPTON:  Now, some on the left fear that the Republicans may give up on Medicare with a lot of the seniors now showing at the polls in the 26th Congressional District and others they may lose a lot of votes there but they‘re going to try to find more success with Medicaid.  Would you have the same position on Medicaid, that that should be off the table and that there should be no giving any ground in terms of Medicaid cuts?

CARDIN: Well we could—I‘m clearly opposed to the block grant proposal of Medicaid.  That would not only hurt our seniors in long-term care but our children who are very vulnerable.  Look, we‘re all for bringing down healthcare costs.  Let‘s not transfer the problems to other peoples.  There are ways of reducing costs in Medicare and Medicaid by having better delivery systems.  We‘re in support of that.  We moved those proposals in the last Congress.  So, there are ways that we can save money.  But, we‘re absolutely against the way that they want to change Medicare and turn it into a voucher program or change Medicaid and basically tell the states they‘re on their own.

SHARPTON:  Now, that‘s an important point.  So, you are saying there

are ways to save money.  The Democratic position,  your position, has not -

does not need to be some ways to bring the cost down, you‘re talking about how we do it and how we protect those that are the beneficiaries of the programs and that need the programs.

           

CARDIN:  Absolutely.  As we‘ve said before, the way to reduce Medicare costs is to reduce health care costs.  We did that in the last Congress.  We instituted change that will bring down the growth rate of health care costs and save not only our seniors but taxpayers money.  We improved the benefits.  What the Republicans are doing is just shifting cost.  So,  yes, there is a way to do it right and we‘re prepared to work in that regard.

SHARPTON:  Whether shifting costs from seniors, shifting costs from

people that need this coverage and protecting whom, senator Cardin?  Why—

why do you feel that the Republicans can‘t see what it is—laying out the

laying—the way you‘ve laid it out tonight just seems like a common sense way of dealing with government.

           

CARDIN:  Well, there‘s no question that they are protecting their special interests.  They‘re protecting the very wealthy of this nation.  They‘re—they‘re saying that  we can‘t close loopholes where people are getting away who should be paying taxes.  That‘s the type of balanced approach that the Republican budget is not allowing us to get to.  So they‘d rather put the budget problems on the back of our seniors rather than having a fair program where everybody contributes.

SHARPTON:  We‘re going to have to leave it there.  Thank you Benjamin Cardin, Democratic Senator from Maryland.

CARDIN:  Thank you.

SHARPTON:  Thank you for joining us.  Coming up, Sarah Palin has a hard time with basic American history.  But one top Democrat thinks she can beat Obama.  We‘ll talk about the Palin effect with Pat Buchanan and Bill Press tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN, FORMER GOVERNOR, ALASKA, ®:  I think there‘s a curiosity factor there, still, that‘s in play.  I don‘t know but, I—you know—I—I—I apologize if I stepped on any—any of that PR that Mitt Romney needed or wanted that day.  I do sincerely apologize.  We didn‘t mean to step on anybody‘s toes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  Welcome back, I‘m Reverend Al Sharpton.  That was Sarah Palin apologizing for stepping all over Mitt Romney‘s official entry into the Presidential race last week.  Palin is still dominating headlines in the GOP‘s 2012 race leaving the rest of the candidates what it takes to get some notice.  Joining me now is Bill Press, host of the Bill Press Show on Sirius Radio and Pat Buchanan, MSNBC Political Analyst.

Last week Sarah Palin flubbed a history reference by saying Paul Revere was warning the British, not the Americans, on his famous midnight ride but she claims she had it right.  Take a look.

(VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You realize that you messed up about Paul Revere, don‘t you?

PALIN:  You know what, I didn‘t mess up about Paul Revere, part of his ride was to warn the British that were already there that, hey, you‘re not going to succeed, you‘re not going to take American arms, you are not going to beat our own well-armed persons, individual, private militia that we have.  He did warn the British and  in a shout out gotcha type of question that was asked of me, I answered candidly and I know my American history.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  Pat, is Sarah Palin incapable of admitting wrong?  I mean, every time she messes up she just says it‘s a gotcha question from the media, she didn‘t mean to step on the announcement of—of the former Governor Romney for his announcement, I mean, is everybody just picking on her?

PAT BUCHANAN, POLITICAL ANALYST, MSNBC:  No, well she, I mean, by picking on her, not everybody.  But, I will say, look, you saw a very gracious apology there to Mitt Romney and, frankly,  Al—Reverend Sharpton, I don‘t really think she did that deliberately.  She started out here with Rolling Thunder, went to Antietam, Fort McHenry, Liberty Bell, (INAUDIBLE).  She‘s on the coast in New Hampshire, Romney‘s up in the north.  How was she to know that the Manchester Union Leader is going to put her on the front page and put Mitt Romney inside?  I thought she was very gracious.

SHARPTON:  So, you—you don‘t feel that her campaign people or advisors had any idea that routing themselves that way they‘d run into Romney‘s well publicized, planned announcement that day?  Ok, Bill?

BUCHANAN:  Look—look, Reverend Sharpton, Reverend Sharpton, look.

SHARPTON:  Yes?

BUCHANAN:  .you can‘t go into New Hampshire without stepping on somebody these days.

SHARPTON:  Bill, I mean, what are we looking at here Bill?  She‘s apologizing and rewriting Paul Revere‘s intent.  What‘s happening here Bill?

BILL PRESS, BILL PRESS SHOW, SIRIUS RADIO, HOST:  All right, I‘ll tell you what‘s happening here.  I mean, look, Sarah Palin is this huge force.  I don‘t get it but she‘s this huge force but a destructive force in the Republican Party.  Al, she knows what she‘s doing.  Everybody involved in politics in this country knew that Mitt Romney was going to announce in New Hampshire on that day.  He had told the press two weeks ahead of time. It was a well-planned event.  I—don‘t believe her apology.  She went up there.  She doesn‘t want Mitt Romney at the top of the ticket. 

She and Rudy Giuliani and others are trying to knock him off.  That‘s what this is all about and, as far as the Paul Revere thing goes, she was just dead wrong.  She doesn‘t know her history.  It was not a gotcha question.  The gotcha question on an American History tour is, so, is one of Paul Revere one of your heroes?  And then she said, oh yeah, he warned the British, he was firing shots and he was ringing bells.  No he wasn‘t.  She doesn‘t know anything. 

SHARPTON:  Pat, children are watching. 

BUCHANAN:  He was crying “The British are coming.”

SHARPTON:  (INAUDIBLE) talking to the British are the Americans. 

Clear this up.

BUCHANAN:  He got—he got across that body of water and he said, “The British are coming, the British are coming,”  and the British weren‘t warned.  If they‘d been warned we wouldn‘t have had Paul Revere‘s silver much longer but let me say—let me say this.  Al Sharpton, the unemployment rate among African-Americans was over 16.2% last month.  Is that more important than Paul Revere‘s ride?

SHARPTON:  Oh, well, I think it is a lot more important but I think that if the person that we‘re talking about gets Paul Revere‘s ride wrong we might suspect she may not know how to deal with black unemployment.  But, since you brought it up, do you know what her plan is for black unemployment?

BUCHANAN:  Her plan for America is to get rid of Barack Obama, who has presided over a complete disaster in the American economy.

SHARPTON:  That‘s exactly what I thought her plan was for black unemployment, to avoid the question.  Howard Dean—Howard Dean has said, though, that she should be taken seriously.

BUCHANAN:  Well, she should.

SHARPTON:  And that she shouldn‘t be laughed at.  What do you say, Bill?

PRESS:  I‘ll tell you what—I‘ll tell you what I said.  First of all, I think what Howard Dean was saying was that Democrats have to be careful.  Look, there‘s all this disruption, all this confusion on the Republican side now and a lot of the Democrats are saying, oh man, we‘re just going to waltz in there.  What Howard Dean was saying is don‘t you get that attitude.  You‘ve got to take this seriously.  You‘ve got to be prepared to fight like hell to get the House back, to hold onto the Senate, and to get the White House. 

But, you know, there‘s a Rasmussen poll out today, Al, as you probably know.  49% of Americans say that Mitt Romney is qualified to be President.  We‘ve seen more of Sarah Palin than of any other of the candidates.  She gets all the publicity she wants.  She‘s always on FOX, 23% of Americans say she‘s qualified to be President.  I mean, this is a disaster for the Republican Party.

SHARPTON:  Do you think it‘s a disaster Pat?

BUCHANAN:  No, it‘s not a disaster.  She‘s—look, the enormous attention she‘s getting, Al Sharpton, when have you or I ever gotten attention like that.  Coming into Rolling Thunder.  Here, listen, and also take a look at Chris Wallace.  He said that was a boffo performance of her on Sunday.  I saw part of it.  The best she‘s ever done.  Has she made mistakes?  She got problems?  Is she considered too conservative by folks, yes.  So was Ronald Reagan in his time, Al.

PRESS:  Hey, let me tell you, Al, I tell you, our friend Pat, of all people, ought to know that getting the enthusiastic response of the extreme right-wing of a party does not equal getting the party nomination.  Oh, come on.

SHARPTON:  Well, let me ask you about the extreme right.  Rick Santorum, former Senator from Pennsylvania announced today he‘s certainly going to be shooting for that wing of the party.  How serious should we take him?

BUCHANAN:  All right, here‘s the thing, I think Rick Santorum, he was defeated in Pennsylvania by a pretty big margin, 18 points, for the Senate.  But I will say—I mean, he—and he‘s got a tough time because he‘s eclipsed by the enormous amount of power and attraction that Bachmann and Palin have and he‘s fighting for that social conservative wing of the party, the populous wing, the Tea Party wing and I know Bill Press disparages it but, Al, we picked up 63 House seats last fall with those folks and a united party and that can happen again in 2012 and don‘t let Bill Press whistle past the graveyard (INAUDIBLE).

PRESS:  No, no, no, hey—hey Pat, let me speak for myself.  Look, that is—that is a force in the Republican Party but I think Michelle Bachmann is going to get that force of the Republican Party and she‘s going to eclipse Rick Santorum as soon as she gets in.  But, Al, I want to come back to another point about Sarah Palin, which I think is really key and that is this.  Why is she still on FOX?  Why is she still a paid contributor?  They dumped Newt Gingrich.  They dumped Rick Santorum.  They forced Mike Huckabee to give up running for President if he wanted to keep his show and they‘re still paying her, I don‘t know, what, a million dollars a year. 

BUCHANAN:  What?

PRESS:  Every time she appears.

SHARPTON:  She (INAUDIBLE).

BUCHANAN:  Well, let me answer that, Bill.  She‘s a sensation. 

PRESS:  Every time she appears, Pat, that‘s a multi-million dollar campaign contribution from (INAUDIBLE).

SHARPTON:  Well, let me ask you a question, Pat.  Santorum today said that America was great before 1965 and is now—I mean, what is he talking about?  Was he talking about the Voting Rights Act?  That‘s what I remember happened in ‘65 from my (INAUDIBLE).

BUCHANAN:  Who are you talking about?   Eisenhower and Kennedy, this was a magnificent country, Al.

SHARPTON:  But why did he use the year ‘65?  What signal is he sending?

BUCHANAN:  What are you talking about?  Who used it? 

SHARPTON:  Rick Santorum has said America was great before ‘65.  What is the significance of ‘65?

BUCHANAN:  Before 1965?   I think ‘65, in twenty years we really got ourselves deeply involved in Vietnam.  The Democratic Party came apart.  It lost 47 seats (INAUDIBLE).

SHARPTON:  Oh, so Rick Santorum was attacking our involvement in Vietnam?

BUCHANAN: Well, I don‘t know what he was attacking but why would you pick out the Voting Rights Act?  You‘re hung up on that stuff, Al.

SHARPTON:  That‘s one of the great things that happened in ‘65 that he may have been referring to.  Bill?

PRESS:  Right.  Al Sharpton—Al Sharpton, you know better than anybody what it was like, particularly in the South of this country in 1965 but I think what it shows is what the Republicans mean when they say they want to take back America.  Yes, they want to take America back to 1965, if not to 1950 before Brown vs.  Board of Education.

BUCHANAN:  I tell you what, we‘d like to take it back at least to  Ronald Reagan.  If you take a look at what Obama‘s done to the American economy and the American worker and the  American  industry and the American people.

SHARPTON:  Yes, we look at the auto industry, we look at a few industries .

PRESS:  Exactly.

SHARPTON:  . at what Obama‘s done.  I think some people might disagree with you, Pat.

PRESS:  Some?  I think most Americans would.

(CROSSTALK).

PRESS:  Yes, Barack Obama—Barack Obama has created more new jobs in 2-1/2 years since George Bush in eight years, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  He didn‘t create any.

PRESS:  Give it up.  Give it up.

SHARPTON:  Well.

BUCHANAN:  I ran—Bill, you forget, I ran against George Bush for heaven‘s sakes.  I ran against Bush.

SHARPTON:  Well, let me—let me say something that I‘ve waited all of my career to say.  Pat, we‘re out of time.  Thank you.  Thank you Bill.

PRESS:  All right, Al, thank you.

BUCHANAN:  See you next time, Al.

PRESS:  See you later.

SHARPTON:  Thank you for your time.  Republicans hammer President Obama for high unemployment but who is really to blame.  Nancy Pelosi isn‘t afraid to blame Republicans.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON:  Democrats are calling out Republicans for failing to create jobs in  America.  We‘ll have more on that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON:  Welcome back to the show.  Now, to talk about some of today‘s biggest political stories is Jonathan Capeheart and MSNBC Contributor and an editorial writing for the Washington and Alex Wagner, reporter for the Huffington Post and also an MSNBC Analyst.  First question to you two.  What is the Republicans‘ job plans aside from cutting the budget.

You know, the GOP‘s been pointing fingers at the Obama administration and saying what the job reports has been, Friday‘s report on unemployment very disappointing.  But, David Axelrod came out and said today that where‘s the GOP‘s jobs agenda?  Where are we going here?  And Nancy Pelosi came out and said that their agenda is to blame. 

(VIDEO CLIP)

NANCY PELOSI, HOUSE DEMOCRATIC LEADER:  They set the agenda.  We have said every day that they‘re there another day goes by and there isn‘t a jobs agenda or a jobs bill that has come to the floor.

DAVID AXELROD:  All these Republicans that are out there this weekend yammering about this are going to be under pressure to come up with their alternative strategies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  Jonathan, Alex?

JONATHAN CAPEHEART, CONTRIBUTOR, MSNBC:   Well, Rev., I think, you know, what you—what we‘re seeing from Former Speaker Pelosi and David Axelrod is they‘re holding Speaker Boehner‘s feet to the fire.  All during the mid-term elections on Twitter, speaker Boehner would send out this Tweet, usually at the beginning of the day, that would say, “Mr. President, where are the jobs?” 

And the Republicans ran on a platform saying, you know, we‘re going to be about putting the American people back to work.  Well, they‘ve been in session now since January and, so far, there‘s been no—no jobs plan and I think that since that is the number one issue that the American people say they care about and with the unemployment numbers that came out that has been reinforced.  I think the Democrats are going to try to use this to their political advantage to push the Republicans in a corner.

ALEX WAGNER, REPORTER, HUFFINGTON POST:  Yes, I think I agree with Jonathan here.  I mean, it—every day it‘s like, “Mr. Speaker, where are the jobs?”  There‘s a real—the Republicans rode into office—or into the mid-term saying that they were going to—that this was going to be priority number one and, so far, all we‘ve seen is a lot of talk about cutting a budget, the cut and grow Congress, and reigning in the deficit.  There are—there has been, as of yet, no job creation plan and I thin this is where the Democrats actually have some legs.

Look, you know, you can take up—you can—you can contend that the stimulus wasn‘t big enough or that it was too big, but, at the end of the day, the Congressional Budget Office has numbers out saying that it created jobs.  You know, unemployment went down as a result of it.  There is no Congress—so far, the Republicans have offered nothing in the way of a concrete proposal, let alone any evidence that—that—that it would actually work or that it did work.

SHARPTON:  Well, how can they go into this election with no plan?  You have Former Speaker, Pelosi, saying that had not the President did what he did we‘d be at higher unemployment.  Where‘s their plan and it was their plan that‘s caused the problem.  How do they go on a no plan strategy?

CAPEHEART:  Well, Rev, I think it will be a little easier for the Republicans to do that because (1) President Obama is a Democrat and he is the one controlling the White House.  (2)  The White House has been saying consistently over the last—at least the last year, you know, the economy is coming back, all the indices are going in the right direction and it‘s just a matter of time before the American people feel it.

Well, last week with the—the bump up in unemployment and also those really bad housing numbers or foreclosure numbers that came out, it‘s showing that, you know, that economic recovery has yet to reach the American people and as long as the American people do not feel—feel the economic recovery that the administration is talking about, the—the less the GOP actually has to worry about actually putting forth their own plan.

SHARPTON:  But Alex, can the White House and the Obama campaign put that blame on the Republicans in terms of the House Majority, in terms of the filibusters?  Can they switch that blame?

WAGNER:  I think it‘s—I think it‘s much harder—I think it‘s much easier for Nancy Pelosi to shift the blame to Republicans in Congress because they‘re the ones that are supposed to be coming up with some kind of plan.

SHARPTON:  Let‘s—let‘s .

WAGNER:  .. but the White House, I—I—it‘s going to be very difficult for the President to sort of punt that to—to the Republicans and I think, you know, the 9.1% unemployment, the fact that only 54,000 jobs were created last month, that‘s a problem and you saw,  you know, Austan Goolsbee say, look, this.

SHARPTON:  Jonathan and Alex, one minute, let‘s—you stay with us, we‘ll be right back and finish that and talk about some other things right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We‘re back with one last topic for our political panel, Jonathan Capeheart and Alex Wagner.  The final question is, is President Obama returning to his 2008 form?  The President‘s approval rating is on the rise again, according to a new poll from the National Journal.  The poll shows Obama has a 51% approval rating, just 2 points shy of the number he won back in 2008 election.  Jonathan, Alex, is he returning back to form?

CAPEHEART:  Well, you know—go ahead Alex.

WAGNER:  I—I—I have to say I don‘t—I don‘t think we‘re going to see numbers like we did in 2008 just because the American public is far more seasoned.  You know, he came in writing a message of hope and change.  It‘s going to be very difficult for him to have the same sort of optimistic message in a time when unemployment is still high and gas is $4 at the pump. 

And, I think at the end of the day, you know, the American public is going to vote on what it feels and if it feels like the country is headed into the right direction in terms of, you know, gas prices, foreign policy, and fundamentally jobs and economic growth, then Obama is in good shape.  But, right now, a poll, you know, a year and a half out, I just don‘t think it‘s representative of what‘s going to happen closer to November.

SHARPTON: Jonathan?

CAPEHEART:  Yes.  Polls are snapshots in time and anyone who‘s trying to predict—predict boom or gloom for the Obama administration based on polls right now is doing everyone a disservice.

SHARPTON:  Well, I think we‘re going to have to wait and see what the public says.  Thank you very much Jonathan Capeheart and Alex Wagner.  Thanks for your time tonight.

CAPEHEART:  Thanks Rev.

WAGNER:  Thanks Rev.

SHARPTON:  Well, that‘s our show.  Thanks for watching.  Hardball starts right now.

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

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