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Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Monday July 11, 2011

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Guest Host: Al Sharpton

Guests: Bernie Sanders, Pat Buchanan, Bill Press, Tom Graves, Michelle Bernard, David Drucker, Matt Lewis, Steve Kornacki, Perry Bacon

REV. AL SHARPTON, HOST:   No more Mr. Nice Guy.  President Obama bluntly tells the right, it‘s time to step up. 

Tonight, no more talk, no more games.  President Obama says now is the time to pull off the Band-Aid.  But do Republicans even want to deal? 

Speaker Boehner is still searching for some backbone.  He goes running back to the Tea Party.  A Tea Party freshman debates meet live tonight. 

Plus, Michele Bachmann‘s shameful slavery analogy and why it‘s not the first time she‘s gone there. 

And a smoking gun on racial profiling.  Sheriff Joe Arpaio‘s crusade against immigration, stopped dead in his tracks. 

Welcome to the show.  I‘m Al Sharpton. 

Tonight‘s lead, the Republican Party shows itself to be the party of no deal.  Not new deal, no deal. 

President Obama hauled Republicans back to the White House for budget talks today after calling them out for their lack of leadership. 


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We might as well do it now, pull off the Band-Aid, eat our peas.  Now is the time to do it.  If not now, when? 

I‘m prepared it take on significant heat from my party to get something done, and I expect the other side should be willing to do the same thing if they mean what they say, that this is important. 


SHARPTON:  The president also said Republicans will not get everything they want. 


OBAMA:  I do not see a path to a deal if they don‘t budge, period.  I mean, if the basic proposition is it‘s my way or the highway, then we‘re probably not going to get something done if in fact Mitch McConnell and John Boehner are sincere—and I believe they are—that they don‘t want to see the U.S. government default.  Then they‘re going to have to compromise just like Democrats are going to have to compromise. 


SHARPTON:  This weekend, House Speaker John Boehner backed out of a bigger deal proposed by the president that would have included up to a trillion dollars in new revenue.  It seems like Republicans talk a big game about solving the nation‘s problem, but they are really only interested in one thing—that‘s winning back the White House.  Mitch McConnell made that clear again yesterday on Fox News. 


BRET BAIER, “FOX NEWS SUNDAY”:  You said, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL ®, MINORITY LEADER:  Well, that is true.  That‘s my single most important political goal, along with every active Republican in the country. 


SHARPTON:  Joining me now is the independent senator from Vermont, Senator Bernie Sanders. 

Senator, thank you for being here tonight. 

How do you explain the Republicans‘ unwillingness to compromise to get the big deal that they said they wanted, to put everything on the table?  The president said fine.  Now they back down. 

How do you explain this?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT:  Well, what they say, Al, is they would like everything on the table, so long as it means cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the needs of our children, and the environment.  All of that is on the table.  But if you asked billionaires to start paying a little bit more in taxes, or if you do away with loopholes for large corporations that make billions and pay nothing in taxes, apparently that is not on the table. 

So I think there are two issues going on.  Number one, obviously, they are doing their best to protect the wealthy and the powerful.  Number two, if the economy tanks, and if more people lose their jobs, they see that as a positive thing for the Republicans. 

SHARPTON:  Now, let me ask you, Senator, are there structural things that could be reformed and improved in Social Security, Medicaid or Medicare?  Or the only thing that can be done is cutting what they do for people?  I mean, is it one or the other, or both? 

SANDERS:  Al, what bothers me about the Social Security debate is I think, as you know, Social Security hasn‘t contributed one nickel to our national debt.  It‘s funded by the payroll tax that has $2.6 trillion surplus, can pay out benefits for 25 years.  If you want to have a discussion about how we can extend Social Security benefits to 75 years, let‘s have that discussion. 

SHARPTON:  Right, because people have paid into that, that‘s what people have invested in. 

SANDERS:  Right, it has nothing to do with deficit reduction. 

SHARPTON:  Right. 

SANDERS:  In terms of Medicare, can we make that system more efficient without cutting benefits?  Yes, we can.  Can we do the same for Medicaid?  Yes. 

But I fear very much that what the Republicans have in mind is at a time when 50 million people have no health insurance, throwing millions more off of Medicaid.  And I ask you, Al, what happens to a child who can‘t get health insurance?  What happens to a family whose mother is in a nursing home and doesn‘t get Medicaid help for that?  What happens to those people? 

SHARPTON:  And the seniors with Social Security. 

See, I think that the real problem that I think is that we have not put the human face on it.  And Senator, I questioned, as I looked at this, because I was as concerned as you are when I‘m hearing Social Security and Medicare, Medicaid put on the table, was the president talking about affecting benefits or was he talking about structural?  We don‘t know because Boehner and them backed out. 

So I wonder if the president played a chess move while they were playing checkers. 

SANDERS:  Well, I don‘t know, Al.  I‘m not so sure about that. 

SHARPTON:  I don‘t know either. 

SANDERS:  When they talk about the so-called chained COLA, let me tell what you it means.  It means that for the average person, when you become 75, you‘re going to lose something about—something like $600 from what you otherwise would have received.  And when you‘re 85, that‘s about a thousand dollars. 

SHARPTON:  Which is a lot of money. 

SANDERS:  Which is a lot of money for somebody who is trying to get by on $14,000, $15,000 a year. 

So this can really hurt.  I‘m going to do everything I can to see that that does not happen. 

SHARPTON:  Do you think the voters that are concerned about seniors, that are concerned about working and poor people having Medicaid, do you think they understand that the Republicans are saying, you are up for discussion, but the rich guys and the corporate jets and all of that, let‘s not even talk about it, no deal if they have to be talked to? 

SANDERS:  The answer is I think that the people do.  Every single poll that I have seen, Al, says that the American people want to protect Social Security.  They want to protect Medicare. 

And you know what?  When asked their preferred choice for deficit reduction, it is to tax the wealthy.  That‘s what the American people want. 

If I were a Republican, I would not be happy going back to campaigning, back home, and say, yes, I‘m prepared to cut Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, but I am not going to ask the wealthiest people in this country to pay a nickel more in taxes.  I don‘t think that is a winning political hand. 

SHARPTON:  Thank you very much, Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent from Vermont.  Thank you for your time. 

Joining me now is MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan, and Bill Press, host of “The Bill Press Show” on Sirius Radio. 

Good evening, gentlemen. 



SHARPTON:  I woke up this morning and heard the voice of Pat Buchanan in my ear screaming on the station about how all of this was theatrics. 

Mr. Buchanan—

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

SHARPTON:  -- can‘t you at least concede that it looks as though the Tea Party is running the Republican Party, that Mr. Boehner probably said, yes, Mr. President, let me try to reach up to higher ground and talk a big bargain, and then he started getting beat up by his caucus, who are really afraid of the Tea Party people and he had to turn around and do a 180-degree turn? 

BUCHANAN:  Well, I don‘t know exactly what John Boehner did.  I‘ve read the reports that he was entertaining an idea of the big deal.  But, Al, let me tell you why the Republicans are behaving as they did. 

In 2010, they went to the American people and said, we made some mistakes in the last decade, President Bush did and we did.  And we give you our word if you elect us, we‘ll try to cut spending and we will not raise taxes.  We swear to you we will not raise taxes.    And now, here we are, six months later, and everybody‘s demanding that they break their word and get together and give us $1 trillion in revenue or $2 trillion if revenue. 

Let me ask you, Reverend Sharpton, isn‘t that why the American people detest politics and politicians?  People come in and pledge to do something, and then they get here to Washington and they say, well, the situation has changed and we had to tell you a lie.  And then they do exactly what they said they would not do. 

I admire the Republicans.  I agree with you, they are getting beat up real good.  But I admire them standing their ground, standing by their principles, standing by their pledge.

SHARPTON:  OK.  But let me ask you a question since you reversed it.  And Bill Press can help me with this.  The problem is you used the term “lie.” 

Why don‘t we tell them the truth, Bill?  And that is that we are not talking about raising taxes.  We are talking about stopping those cuts in taxes.  There is a difference.  We are not talking about raising taxes by $1. 

PRESS:  I know.  And the president—I was there today in the briefing room.  The president made that very clear today. 

Nobody has talked about raising $1 in taxes.  Not this year, not next year, not for the middle class, not for the wealthiest people at all.  It is getting rid of some of those tax subsidies.  But let me tell you something, Al. 

SHARPTON:  In fact, wait a minute, Bill.  I want Pat just for to you hear the president say that to you. 

I think he was talking to you, Pat. 

BUCHANAN:  He could have been. 


OBAMA:  Nobody has talked about increasing taxes now.  Nobody has talked about increases—increasing taxes next year.  I have bent over backwards to work with the Republicans to try to come up with a formulation that doesn‘t require them to vote sometime in the next month to increase taxes. 


SHARPTON:  Now, let me show you one thing and Bill‘s going to finish. 

But Pat—

PRESS:  Let me finish my point, Al, first. 

SHARPTON:  All right, go ahead.  I‘ll let you finish. 

PRESS:  All right.  Well, I was going to say, look, here‘s the deal.  The Republicans—here‘s the problem.  The Republicans can‘t take yes for an answer. 

They‘ve got a $4 trillion package, $3 trillion in cuts, $1 trillion only—that‘s a 3-1 ratio, right—in some tax adjustments and getting rid of those subsidies.  They can‘t take it because Boehner cannot make the deal.  He wants it make the deal, but the Tea Party won‘t let him. 

So, I‘ll tell you, Al, I think this is a dead end street.  I think Obama is wasting his time.

These guys—you said it at the top—they don‘t want a deal.  They just want to embarrass Obama publicly.  I think they ought to cancel any more talks and just leave.  Just use the 14th Amendment and do what he‘s got to do. 

SHARPTON:  Well, Pat, let me say this—let me tell you, Pat, why I think they‘re getting beat up.  Let‘s take an example. 

You know I lost a lot of weight, but I used to eat a lot of pie.  So let me use a pie as a graphic here. 

Put up my pie.  Look at this pie. 

If you look at the pie of the deficit, Bush tax cuts were $424 billion.  So when they‘re talking to the American people, and they are saying we didn‘t eat the pie, and all of the blueberry is around their mouths, we know they‘re lying, because we see the blueberry around their mouths from the pie, Pat. 


BUCHANAN:  All right.  Are you telling—Al, what you seem to be saying, let‘s raise the rates back to where they were when Bush came in. 

SHARPTON:  No, I‘m saying stop the cuts.  There‘s a difference. 

BUCHANAN:  That‘s a tax haven (ph). 

PRESS:  No, no, no.  But let me tell you something else.  Let‘s put this on the table.

BUCHANAN:  Let me agree with Bill for a second. 

Hold on, Bill.  You just talked, Bill.  Let me talk for a second. 

PRESS:  Oh, God.  Yes, you never get to talk, Pat. 

BUCHANAN:  I agree with Bill.  I agree with Bill to this extent—I think they ought to call off these talks at the White House. 

Mr. Boehner ought to get out of bed, come back to the House.  He ought to pass an increase in the debt ceiling.  He ought to cut $1 trillion or $2 trillion, however much he can get, talk to the Senate, get it through the Senate. 

Send it down to President Obama.  And if he says I‘ve got have revenues or whatever it is, I‘m going to veto this, let him veto it. 

SHARPTON:  Now, wait a minute.  You‘re telling me that Pat Buchanan just said the president should stop the talks. 

BUCHANAN:  No, Boehner should. 

SHARPTON:  The same—at first you were saying the president ought to get involved.  Now you‘re saying let‘s stop the talks, Boehner should go back. 

I mean, you were in the White House.  You were communications man with Mr. Reagan, Pat.

PRESS:  Hey, Al—

SHARPTON:  Can‘t you admit that the Republicans are losing on the message now? 

PRESS:  Hey, listen.  It‘s my turn now.  Wait a minute, Pat.


PRESS:  Pat, I‘m going to come back to you now.  Hey, Pat, I‘m coming back to you, Pat. 

I just want to point out, right, what the president is talking about, two years from now, yes, is taking those Bush tax cuts, going back to what they were under Bill Clinton.  We had the eight most prosperous years in our lifetime under Bill Clinton with those higher taxes.  So don‘t say that taxes are going to wreck the economy. 

And the second thing is—I‘ve got to point this out.  Here‘s where I think, again, the president is making a mistake. 

The American people don‘t give a rat‘s butt about debt reduction. 

They care about jobs. 

And Pat misread and misquoted what 2010 was all about.  I remember John Boehner saying, you put us in office and we‘re going to restore jobs, we‘re going to put jobs—nobody is talking about jobs anymore.  That‘s what the American people care about. 

SHARPTON:  Are they losing—Pat, you were a great spinner for Mr.  Ronald Reagan, the great communicator.  They ran on jobs.  They ran on building back the economy.  They didn‘t run saying we‘re going to protect corporate jets and loopholes for hedge funds. 

PRESS:  Exactly.

SHARPTON:  That was not what they ran on. 

PRESS:  They haven‘t done anything about jobs.

BUCHANAN:  Well, you‘re right, Reverend Sharpton.  Ronald Reagan created 20 million jobs.  How did he do it?  He cut taxes across the board, all the way down to 28 percent. 


PRESS:  Pat, get out of here.  He raised taxes, Pat, 11 times when he was in the White House.  He raised taxes seven out of eight years he was in the White House.

Pat, don‘t be Michele Bachmann.  Don‘t reinvent history. 

BUCHANAN:  How many jobs has Barack Obama created?  Minus five million.

SHARPTON:  There‘s been about 2.5 million since he got in.

PRESS:  About 2.5 million.

SHARPTON:  2.5 million since you asked. 

PRESS:  That‘s more than George Bush created in eight years.  Fact. 

BUCHANAN:  Why do we have a crisis if he has done so well? 

PRESS:  We‘ve got a long way to go.

SHARPTON:  Let me thank my MSNBC analyst and sparring partner, Pat Buchanan, radio host Bill Press. 

Thank you so much. 

PRESS:  Reverend Al.

SHARPTON:  I‘m smiling tonight, Pat, because you all are losing.

BUCHANAN:  I don‘t think so, Reverend.

SHARPTON:  Ahead, will the Tea Party take down John Boehner and the Republican Party?  We‘ll talk to a Tea Party member. 

And Michele Bachmann tries to distance herself from slavery references that she (INAUDIBLE).  What she is saying now isn‘t much better, really. 

Plus, the tour might be over, but Sarah Palin just used that bus of hers to run over the entire GOP field.  Will she run?

Stay with us.



OBAMA:  I think Speaker Boehner has been very sincere about trying to do something big.  The politics that swept him into the speakership were good for a midterm election, they‘re tough for governing. 


SHARPTON:  President Obama today saying that Speaker Boehner‘s hands have been tied by the far right of his base.  As if to prove that point, Boehner pushed back at all the reports that he had working on a package that included tax increases. 


BOEHNER:  There were no increases ever on the table.  There was never any agreement to allow tax rates to go up in any discussion I‘ve ever had with the White House.  Not once. 


SHARPTON:  Joining me now, Republican Congressman from Georgia, Representative Tom Graves. 

Congressman Graves, in that statement by Speaker Boehner, was he talking to the American public or trying to convince guys Tea Party guys like you that he wasn‘t talking to the president about ending the tax cuts from the Bush years? 

REP. TOM GRAVES ®, GEORGIA:  Well, I don‘t know at any time that he has spoken of raising taxes.  Republicans are against raising taxes.  And it isn‘t about the Tea Party, it‘s about America.  It‘s about preserving America‘s future. 

And the Tea Party, I‘m going to tell you, that is a group of Americans that just love our heritage, love what we stand for, love the foundation and the principles.  And they are willing to be very vocal about it right now in such an important time in our history.  It‘s certainly needed. 

SHARPTON:  But—and I think that‘s admirable, but do you also love seniors who need Social Security?  Do you love working people that need Medicaid and people that have paid into their Social Security? 

I mean, I appreciate you loving America, but do you love Americans that have to survive in America?

GRAVES:  Well, I don‘t imagine you‘ve ever been to a Tea Party rally, but there is a wide spectrum of Americans there, and I‘m sure many of them receive Social Security benefits, or Medicare, Medicaid.  It is America well represented. 

And if we are talking about preserving America, it is preserving all of America and not the Democratic talking points of always going back to Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid.  None of that is in jeopardy if the president would listen to some of the plans that are in place right now that the Republicans have put out there, common sense.  I mean, cut, cap and balance. 

How much more common sense is that than ending the deficit now? 

SHARPTON:  Well, let me ask you a question.  You want the president to sit and listen and talk to you and do what?  Try to work out some compromise?  But you are the guy that says this is no time for compromise.  No compromise, my way or the highway. 

Look at what you said.  This is you. 

You wrote on your Web site, “You know, when we hear the word ‘compromise‘”—this is Graves talking, you—“When we hear the word ‘compromise‘ on Capitol Hill, that‘s what‘s got us in this mess over the last several decades.  This is no time for compromise.”

That doesn‘t sound like somebody that loves America and wants the president to be reasonable. 

GRAVES:  This is no time to compromise.  Why are we compromising America‘s future and compromising spending cuts and getting our fiscal house in order?  Why do we have to say, well, let‘s do it over 10 or 12, 15 years? 

Let‘s deal with it today.  I mean, I have an 8-year-old daughter that


SHARPTON:  Yes, your way or no way.  Your way or the highway.

I mean, let me ask you, what would be so intolerable to the seniors that you say are in the Tea Party, to those that have Medicaid and Medicare in the Tea Party, to say we have got to put on the table talking about tax cuts for corporate jets?  I‘m sure you don‘t have a lot of corporate jet owners at your rallies. 

GRAVES:  Well, first of all, I will remind you that it was the president who brought up cutting Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid benefits.  He was the one that put that on the table.

SHARPTON:  I don‘t know that he ever said benefits.  I said I think he said he put it on the table for discussion. 

GRAVES:  He was the one that put it out there.

SHARPTON:  I don‘t know if he said benefits, but go ahead and try to get to my question.  We were talking about corporate jets. 

GRAVES:  Right.  We have talked about cutting the deficit, capping spending, and balancing the budget.  And that is going to take a lot of tough decisions. 

SHARPTON:  As long as we don‘t talk about ending the tax cuts from Bush.  As long as we don‘t talk about closing loopholes.  As long as we don‘t talk about corporate jets. 

GRAVES:  Well, let me address that.  Let me address that, Al.

SHARPTON:  So as long as we don‘t bother the rich, we can talk. 

GRAVES:  Well, let me address it, because I‘m one of just a few Republicans that voted against all the corporate welfare and loopholes that you are addressing.  I voted against it in December.  And your president, Barack Obama, signed it into law. 

So how can you stand there and be against what your president just signed into law when I actually voted against it? 

SHARPTON:  I can be against anything I disagree with.  And—

GRAVES:  But I voted against it.

SHARPTON:  -- well, if you voted against it, your party certainly didn‘t.  But then if you voted against it, then you can take this opportunity to tell your party right now, I voted against millionaires, oil companies, corporate jet owners, hedge fund managers, and that should be on the table with the president.  Go ahead.  I‘ll shut up and let you tell Boehner and them publicly, put it on the table because you voted against it. 

GRAVES:  Thank you. 

Well, my record is real clear how I voted.  But what I would like for you to share with the American people is, are you as opposed to balancing the budget as Barack Obama is?  Because that‘s all we stand for right now.  Can you answer that?

SHARPTON:  Balancing the budget.  Let‘s—

GRAVES:  That‘s it, very simple. 

SHARPTON:  Well, balancing the budget, it seems to me that a very prominent member of the Reagan administration talked about this balancing the budget amendment.  Are you aware of that?  Are you aware of what he said?

GRAVES:  Yes, help me out with that.

SHARPTON:  Let me show you so you will know exactly where the language that Bruce Bartlett, who was an aide to Ronald Reagan, said about balancing the budget amendment. 

“Quite possibly the stupidest constitutional amendment I think I‘ve ever seen.  It looks like it was drafted by a couple of interns on the back of a napkin.” 

That‘s what Mr. Bartlett—

GRAVES:  So, Barack Obama is following the advice of—


SHARPTON:  -- who worked for Ronald Reagan, not for President Obama. 

He said it was one of the stupidest things he ever said.

GRAVES:  So Barack Obama is following the advice of the Reagan administration now?  Is that what you‘re telling me?

SHARPTON:  No, no.

GRAVES:  That is the number one thing that we need to do right now in our nation.  Forty-nine of the 50 states have balanced budgets.

SHARPTON:  Hold.  Time out.  My name is Sharpton.  I put it up.  Mr.

Obama didn‘t put that up, I put it up. 

And I‘m asking you—you brought up balanced budget.  I‘m telling you what Mr. Bartlett said.

GRAVES:  Right.  Well, the president is opposed to it just as Mr.

Bartlett is.  So apparently they are working off the same sheet. 

I am for it.  The American people are for it.  Forty-nine of the 50 states have balanced budget amendments.  I think the federal government should have it as well. 

SHARPTON:  And you do not think again that even though you claim here tonight that you voted against corporate welfare, that corporate welfare should be part of the discussions with the president in these meetings on the deficit? 

GRAVES:  I‘m for cutting spending, capping the spending, and balancing the budget. 

SHARPTON:  But you‘re not for talking about it in these meetings?

GRAVES:  All of that is a part of it. 

SHARPTON:  Are you for talking about it in these meetings? 

GRAVES:  I‘m for cutting the deficit right now. 

SHARPTON:  Why vote against it and then take it off the table now, Congressman Graves? 

GRAVES:  Let‘s just put it in perspective.  You can cut all the loopholes out.  It‘s not going to—we‘re going to have $14 trillion in debt tomorrow still.  Let‘s deal with the bigger issue, Al.  Let‘s get off the Democrat talking points—

SHARPTON:  The bigger issue is what I can show you, which is—


SHARPTON:  If you let the Bush tax cuts run out, you a huge amount of money to work with. 

But again, it‘s not what you say.  There‘s the graph right there, $424 billion you cut into it if you let the tax cuts just expire. 

But Congressman, what I‘m saying is I‘m a preacher. 

GRAVES:  You‘re a preacher.

SHARPTON:  I know the difference between talking the talk, walking the walk.  You claimed you voted for it, but you don‘t want to walk with it because you have an opportunity right now on national TV to say to your party and to your Speaker, put it on the table.  I voted against it.  That‘s what I‘m telling everybody. 

GRAVES:  What I want on the table and what I made clear is, cut the deficit now, cap the spending, and balance the budget.  That‘s the answer to the deficit crisis and the debt crisis we have in this nation. 

If we‘re to preserve America and our future, it‘s going to take big, bold proposals.  That is big.  Compromise and deal, that is not big.  We need bold proposals. 

SHARPTON:  And also, we cannot ever talk about dealing with the rich and the corporate jets, but grandma and working people, you are expendable. 

Thank you, Congressman Tom Graves.

GRAVES:  As long as you‘re on the air there will be a lot of talk about it. 

Thank you, Al. 

SHARPTON:  Thank you for your time this evening. 

Ahead, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said his union-bashing was all about jobs.  But now we know the truth.  That‘s tonight‘s “Con Job.” 

Plus, Michele Bachmann surges.  But just wait until you hear what she is saying now about slavery and a right-wing pledge to all of us. 

Stick with us.  We‘ll be right back. 


SHARPTON:  Wisconsin‘s union buster Governor Scott Walker claimed his agenda was about jobs.  But so far, he is only getting prisoners to work.  That‘s our con job of the day. 

Wisconsin voters may be moving closer to kicking out six republican senators who backed Walker‘s union-bashing policies.  Tomorrow is the democratic primary for those races.  As the fight heats up, the real impact, of Walker‘s anti-union law, are being more clearly seen.  Here is what he said, the law would do when he signed it. 


GOV. SCOTT WALKER ®, WISCONSIN:  First off, these reforms, budget reforms, helped us protect middle class jobs, and middle class taxpayers. 


SHARPTON:  Now, Walker‘s law has been in effect for about two weeks and isn‘t protecting jobs.  Instead, Think Progress reports.  It has allowed officials in one county to have prisoners, start doing public work projects that used to be done by union workers.  A Racine County executives said, having prisoners do work will save money.  


UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  We‘ll going to have them pick up trash on the roads, so we can use some of the county personnel to do the more difficult tasks, which is you know, putting in a parking lot at the park. 


SHARPTON:  You heard it, so instead of creating jobs, Walker‘s law is helping local government get inmates to do the work for free.  Walker‘s argument is that he was protecting the middle class when he was really just pushing a radical right wing agenda, is our con job of the day.


SHARPTON:  Welcome back to the show.  Now to discuss some of the big stories of today I should say.  Political stories, we bring on our Power Panel. 

Joining me now, MSNBC political analyst Michelle Bernard.  David Druker, staff writer for Roll Call.  And Matt Lewis, a senior contributor for The Daily Caller. 

Our first question, is this the republican candidate?  Bachmann has got the momentum and now she is claiming a top spot in a new Iowa poll.  She has the support of 25 percent of Iowa voters with Mitt Romney dropping to 21 percent.  Tim Pawlenty and Herman Cain are way behind with nine percent each.  And among the most attentive voters, she is even stronger with 32 percent on her side.  Matt, is Bachmann a real threat.


SHARPTON: .to beat up Mitt Romney?

LEWIS:  Absolutely.  Mitt Romney is not going to win Iowa.  Michele Bachmann definitely could.  She is from Iowa but more importantly, she really fits into the sort of culture of Iowa.  I mean, Mike Huckabee won last time.  I could definitely see Michele Bachmann winning there.  I think, you know, the real question is, will Sarah Palin or Rick Perry get in?  But otherwise, I think, you know, Michele Bachmann can definitely win and much more likely than Mitt Romney. 

SHARPTON:  All right.  But Michelle Bernard, the striking thing about that, is that let‘s look at the primary calendar.  If Bachmann wins Iowa, loses New Hampshire, and then is she doing well in South Carolina, win South Carolina, it‘s the same kind of primary trajectory that President Obama had in the 2008 democratic primary calendar.  

MICHELLE BERNARD, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Absolutely.  I think it is really fascinating, particularly, you know, for several reasons.  Particularly if you think about back to 2008, you know the big question at that point in time, was will white voters vote for Barack Obama.  And you will never ever forget any of those very iconic images of all of those thousands of white Iowa caucus goers who voted for Barack Obama, cheered him on and led him in the way to the White House.  It is those very same people today who seem to be quite smitten with Michele Bachmann so the big question is, what happens in 2012?  Who will those voters sort of, you know, pin the head on the donkey on, coming around the corner?  And whether or not Michele Bachmann is going to do what we saw happen with Obama and when Iowa and then maybe going to New Hampshire and loss New Hampshire and just like you said, the big question is, then what happens in South Carolina.  

SHARPTON:  David, you have watched her in South Carolina.  What‘s the response there?  How is she being received?

DAVID DRUCKER, ROLL CALL:  Well, the response is very enthusiastic.  What I was impressed with Michele Bachmann is that she conducted herself like a front-runner who was trying to be inclusive of the conservative movement.  And what I heard most from her in different stamps, in different appearances with voters was that I am a social conservative, a fiscal conservative and a national security conservative.  She said, this was her term, the three-legged stool of the Republican Party, that‘s me.  And I think that for a lot of us who will follow Michele Bachmann on Capitol Hill, the question had been, can she conduct herself as a front-runner, can she run as a top tier candidate and so far, I think the answer is yes and that‘s what I saw in South Carolina. 

She definitely appeals because she knows how to talk about various issue, she‘s done a good job of translating her experience in the House.  However limited it is into something that sounds like she has like a repertoire and she is conversant on the issues and that has made her appealing along with her willingness to be combative and confront the president and she laced a lot of her remarks, you know, with different stories about, you know, how she will do things differently and why the president is wrong.  And that is what something conservatives really want to hear is how things are going to be different.  And beating Obama is a huge deal for them. 

SHARPTON:  All right.  But you are saying she can conduct herself as a top tier candidate.  The problem under that is, how does she reconcile signing this pledge, this allegiance to the right, that is anti-gay, apt eye choice, and until recently, suggested that African-American babies were better off under slavery.  Now a group behind the pledge dropped that language over the weekend.  And Bachmann distanced herself from the line.  But she raised eyebrows again with the press release that said, and this is, I‘m quoting her, quote, “beliefs that slavery is horrible and economic enslavement is also horrible.”  Economic enslavement also horrible?  I mean, Michele Bachmann is saying that economic slavery today is like slavery in the 19th century in this country. 

I mean, she‘s got this obsession with slavery.  She talked about healthcare reform once, what we have to do today is make a covenant to slit our wrist and be blood brothers on this thing.  This will not pass.  This is slavery.  This is her on the healthcare bill.  On debt.  It is slavery.  It is slavery that a bondage to debt and bondage to decline.  I mean, what is this with slavery.  In homosexuality, if you are involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle is bondage.  It is a personal bondage, personal despair, or personal slavery.  I mean, what‘s going on here, Matt?  Is this her limited vocabulary or she‘s got a hang-up with slavery?

LEWIS:  I don‘t know.  You know, there is this thing called Godwin‘s law which, you know, has been, sort of, doesn‘t really mean this, but it‘s come to mean that you should never talk about Hitler.  That‘s always a mistake to sort of compare somebody to Hitler.  I think there should be some law that sort of says, don‘t you know, usually a mistake to bring up slavery to inject that into a normal political discussion.  Look, I think that pledge was harmful.  Historically, inaccurate.  But I don‘t, you know, I think it is probably just a one day story to be honest with you.  I don‘t think it‘s going to plague Michele Bachmann.  I think it is a bump in the road.  I think it speaks to the fact that she has to be a little bit sharper.  She is under the spotlight now as a front-runner.  But I don‘t think it is the kind of thing that‘s going to plague her that much going forward.  

BERNARD:  I got to say on, if I could just interject here, Reverend Al, I think that this is going to plague her.  Reverend Wright plagued Barack Obama all throughout the 2008 election and we‘re going to see this with Michele Bachmann.  We talked about going to South Carolina little while ago.  This is going to be a huge problem.  Ever since the study, ever poll we have seen recently shows enormous numbers of African-Americans leaving big cities, and moving to the south. 


BERNARD:  But Barack Obama did phenomenal well in South Carolina.  If she gets that far, the Republican Party is not going to survive as a party of white males.  They have to find ways to reach out to African-Americans and others.  And this, this, the statements, the anti-gay statements that we‘ve heard. 

SHARPTON:  That‘s what I want to hear. 


BERNARD:  Let me finish my sentence.  It is a huge problem.  

SHARPTON:  David, when you hear the statements that she‘s made about gays.  About African-Americans, I mean, how will in a general election, if she gets there, or if she forces this party to have to reckon with her, how will she unveil with the general voting public would this kind of statement?  This is her talking now.  This is not someone connected to her. 

DRUCKER:  I think you‘re raising good point.  So, there‘s two questions that are going to be answered in the coming months.  First of all, can she handle the scrutiny of a top tier campaign with all of the spotlight that she is getting because she actually is resonating in the polls.  I want to know if she can put together the organization to actually Iowa, South Carolina, Florida and beyond.  Second of all, as she moves forward, and she begins to have success, if she does, the question is going to be, when does she start to transition from being simply a republican primary candidate and every candidate in a republican or democratic primary runs to right or the left, that‘s standard.  When does she start to translate and move to the center and can she do it? 


And that‘s something that—that‘s something that she will answer over time.  Either she can or she can‘t.  But it is far too early to decide that anything is going to plague her.  Look, I just point out that Reverend Wright plagued President Obama so horribly he actually won.  So, these things that happen in a primary campaign and even a little bit later on don‘t always mean anything, it is how the candidate handles it.  

SHARPTON:  I‘m going to keep asking.  Michelle, David and Matt. 

Thanks for a great panel.  

Coming up, all the talk of Bachmann has, her old friend Sarah Palin fuming.  Wait until you hear what she is saying now.  About 2012. 

And we caught Paul Ryan drinking $350 bottles of wine.  But wait until you hear who his drinking buddies are.  That‘s the real story.  Coming up next.               


SHARPTON:  They say a picture is worth a thousand words but this one is also worth $4 billion a year.  Take a look at this photo.  It shows republican Budget Chairman Paul Ryan with some pals drinking $350 bottles of wine.  Ryan told Talking Points Memo, he didn‘t pick up the tab and paid more than his share of the bill.  But what‘s disturbing isn‘t just how much Ryan and his pals spent on their wine, it‘s who he was wining and dining with.  Ryan was with Clifford Asness, a millionaire hedge fund manager and right wing economist. 

He also is someone who benefits directly from a tax break, Ryan and other Republicans are vigorously defending.  It‘s a loophole that allows hedge fund managers to pay only 15 percent tax rate instead of the normal 35 percent.  Closing that loophole could raise about $4 billion a year.  Just from the richest 25 hedge fund managers in the country alone.  But Republicans would rather balance the budget on the backs of the poor and middle class than ask their millionaire hedge fund executives to pay a little more.  And besides, they want to keep their drinking buddies happy. 



SARAH PALIN, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR:  You know, they say the difference between a hockey mom and a pit-bull?  Lipstick. 


SHARPTON:  She‘s back.  If she ever left.  Non-candidate Sarah Palin is out on the latest cover of news week declaring quote, “I can win the presidency.” 

Joining me now is Steve Kornacki, political columnist for 

And Perry Bacon, staff writer for The Washington Post.  Steve, can she win? 

She said she can win.  

STEVE KORNACKI, POLITICAL COLUMNIST:  Maybe if you define it the Charlie Sheen way.  His version of winning.  But I think this is a story, that when it comes to Sarah Palin, her presidency, I think the ship kind of sailed.  Maybe six months, maybe year, maybe more than that.  You know, a long time ago, she came out of the 2008 campaign with some real momentum on the republican side I think.  And she has just done a spectacularly good job of marginalizing herself.  Not just with the general public but specifically within the Republican Party.  You will find many allies there for her now.    

SHARPTON:  But Perry, I mean, CBS poll says, 66 percent don‘t want her to run.  Twenty five percent does.  I mean, her favorable are up to 30.7.  Unfavorable is 57.9.  How can you win with these kinds of numbers?  Is she just angry or jealous that Michele Bachmann now is coming out and kind of taking the spotlight from her?

PERRY BACON, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  I don‘t think it is that.  I think that she‘s generally wants to remain the political scene but doesn‘t believe she can win.  I mean, a good rule in life is watch people do and not what they say.  She says, she can win, she won‘t and now off the campaign and go to Iowa and New Hampshire and campaign for president telling me that she doesn‘t really believe what she is saying.  And the numbers show that a lot of Republicans, you know, don‘t want her to run either (INAUDIBLE) includes a lot of Republicans who don‘t want her to run.  Who thinks she‘s a positive force of the party but don‘t want her to run.  And I think that‘s a big barrier.  And I guess why she is not in Iowa or New Hampshire running for president right now.  

SHARPTON:  Steve, if there are Republicans that don‘t want her to run but think she is good for the party, does this come down to her possibly being a coveted endorsement for somebody?

KORNACKI:  Yes.  I think there‘s still some value to that.  Not nearly as much even as there would have been, you know, a year ago I think.  Yes.  I think she‘s done that much damage to her brand.  But sure, when you get close to the—like the Iowa caucuses for instance which are dominated more by the activist, more by sort of the hardcore base, the people who are most likely to like Sarah Palin, sure, at that point, she could come, I think with an endorsement.  But again, she‘d be taking a risk there.  We talked about the risk to her image from running and losing a campaign.  You go out there and you try to play the sort of the king maker rule or the queen maker rule in Iowa and if it back fires, that‘s not going to help her either.  

SHARPTON:  Well, that happens Perry to be the problem.  If she endorses and who she endorses loses Iowa, then does she devalue herself for the long run?  What happens then to the brand of Sarah Palin?

BACON:  I‘m not sure I even agree that if she won‘t endorse Mitt Romney tomorrow, would he say absolutely?  I‘m not sure.  I mean, I think her, she is very unpopular among independents.  Independents leaning Republicans and some Republicans in general.  I‘m not even sure that that, he would necessarily want that endorsement.  So, I think that she really has, as Steve has said, really devalued her brand over this last, with the kinds of things she said over the last year or so.  And I think for the general election, she would be even more sort of Kryptonite for Mitt Romney who would not want to be near her as my guess. 

SHARPTON:  How does she play with the more moderate candidates who may not want her endorsement and Steve, do you think anyone would possibly ever say publicly I‘m not seeking Sarah Palin‘s endorsement?  Doesn‘t that risk really marginalizing her?

KORNACKI:  You know, I kind of wondered.  We had an example over the weekend.  You talk about that pledge out in Iowa that‘s reading all these news.  Well, there is one republican candidate that‘s really been struggling to get attention.  Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico who actually came out and said, this is a horrible thing for the party, for anybody in the party that even be talking about signing on to this.  This is divisive.  This is terrible.  He got better press out of that.  And he‘s gotten for the last six months.  So, I wonder if there is an opening for a guy like Gary Johnson.  You know, maybe you take a shot at Sarah Palin or maybe even a guy like Jon Huntsman is a little more serious I think than Gary Johnson is really trying to define himself as sort of the maverick of John McCain way back was.  Maybe there‘s an opening there for him.  

SHARPTON:  Well, Perry, there‘s got to be something to the fact that she draws a lot of media.  I mean, how do you get angry at someone that likes to, you know, go hunting and eats pizza with a fork in New York with Donald Trump?  Nobody can bring that to the Republicans but Sarah Palin. 

BACON:  I agree.  Reverend, I agree.  I think she actually does have some strong of words.  I think is she ran, if she decided to actually ran in Iowa, she would do pretty well.  

SHARPTON:  All right.  Thank you very much, Steve and Perry.  And thank you both for joining us.  We will be right back.  



SHARPTON:  We cannot have a nation where based on your language or your race, determines your rights.  Your rights must be determined by the fact that we‘re all equal, one nation under God, with liberty and justice for everybody. 


SHARPTON:  Friday night, I signed off talking about state‘s rights and one of the things that I‘m really, really on, as you saw me speak on the state capitol steps in Atlanta, Georgia this past Saturday, is how each state is beginning to try and nullify federal immigration laws and go state by state with some very harsh immigration laws.  One is Georgia.  But let‘s look, they are going all through the country now.  Arizona, South Carolina, Indiana, Alabama, Utah and Georgia.  And the impact is coming out in the early facts. 

The impact in Georgia, 11,080 vacant jobs in state farms.  People are talking about they‘re taking people‘s jobs when there is 11,000 jobs right now, one billion dollars in crop losses.  But here is the point that concerns me.  Once you start having profiling laws, once police without any probable cause other than what  somebody looks like to them, becomes legal, it violate everybody‘s rights.  Well, Reverend Al, you‘re jumping the gun.  Oh, really?  Sheriff Arpaio in Phoenix, Arizona just had the civil, a racial profiling lawsuit on using immigration laws to violate racial profiling and pay $200,000 to the victims.  Thanks for watching. 

I‘m Al Sharpton.  “HARDBALL” starts right now.

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