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PoliticsNation, Wednesday, August 31, 2011

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Guests: Elijah Cummings, Bill Press, Matt Mackowiak, Richard Codey, Richard
Wolffe, Nia-Malika Henderson, Lisa Jackson

REV. AL SHARPTON, HOST: The president`s job plan is going prime time
and is shaping up to be an epic clash.

Tonight, President Obama asked to address the joint session of
Congress one week from today, and Speaker Boehner says, no.

Folks, this is about to get real interesting.

Plus, Eric Cantor demands cuts for hurricane relief money, but he
wasn`t always saying that. Unbelievable hypocrisy.

And Houston, we have a problem. It`s not just Romney. Now Rick Perry
has his own health care issue brewing.

And Rush Limbaugh takes his conspiracy theories to a new level. Wait
until you hear this one.

Welcome to POLITICS NATION. I`m Al Sharpton.

Tonight`s lead, a historic battle of wills. We`re seeing a dramatic
standoff in the jobs fight taking place between President Obama and Speaker
Boehner.

Today, the president threw the first punch, asking to address a joint
session of Congress on the same night as the GOP presidential debate. In a
letter to Speaker Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Reid, the president
wrote, "It is our responsibility to find bipartisan solutions to help grow
our economy. And if we are willing to put country before party, I am
confident we can do just that."

But Republicans have made it clear they are not willing to put country
before party. Speaker Boehner actually had the nerve to tell the president
of the United States to move his speech. He said, "It is my recommendation
that your address be held on the following evening, when we can ensure
there will be no parliamentary or logistical impediments that might detract
from your remarks."

Parliamentary or logistical impediments.

What are you all voting about that day, Speaker Boehner? Are you
voting about jobs?

You promised with your Tea Party freshmen candidates last year that it
was about jobs. You complained when the president went on vacation, even
though all of you were already gone, it was about jobs.

Now the president comes and says, I won`t just make a speech, I will
lay out a plan before the members of Congress, a Congress that has not come
up with one jobs bill since you`ve been Speaker. And you have the
audacity, the unmitigated gall, to say, oh, no, we`ve got business that day
and it may go too late for a sweep. You come tomorrow.

Are you trying to disrespect the presidency again? We have already
seen a Republican sit and disrupt the State of the Union Address. Now we
have looked. We can`t find any time there`s been a public moving after
president asking to come before the joint session, especially at a time
like this.

Enough is enough.

Joining me now is Representative Elijah Cummings, Democrat for
Maryland.

Congressman Cummings, what are you all doing a week from today so that
it could not be concluded in time to hear the president of the United
States talk about jobs in this country?

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: Well, I read Speaker Boehner`s
letter, and usually that is the first day we come back, and usually we vote
on one or two things, and then we`re out. We are literally out within
about a half an hour to 35 minutes.

Speaker Boehner could easily accommodate the president. He claims
that he doesn`t have enough time to do it.

He has the power to bring the Congress back in almost any time he
wants. He can bring us back, and as opposed to 6:30, he can bring us back
at 3:00. And there would be plenty notice to accomplish that.

Reverend, it`s clear that our people are in trouble. There are so
many people who don`t have jobs. Come on, 25 million people who are either
unemployed or underemployed, and this is an emergency circumstance, as you
were just saying.

This is a time that we need to act, and act swiftly. They constantly
tell the president, the Republicans do, put out your plan, put out your
plan. Give us your plan on jobs. Then, even before he gets the plan out,
they then complain about what it might say, and now they stand in the way
of him delivering his plan the way he wants to do it.

SHARPTON: But I think the thing that bothers me -- and we have heard
people say -- I had a discussion here last night -- people are complaining
about the president. Well, people are also complaining about Democrats in
the House.

Are the Democrats going to stand up and say something this time, and
say, wait a minute, we sat there quiet while Joe Wilson called the
president a liar during the State of the Union Address, now you are playing
games here. When will the Democrats do something other than just attack
the president?

CUMMINGS: I think clearly this is one where Democrats will stand up,
because all of us are feeling our constituents` pain. And, you know,
you`ve got to keep in mind, Reverend, that on the one hand, you have
Republicans who are, by the way, going into their districts, and their own
constituents are saying, look, you are talking about cutting Social
Security, you`re talking about cutting Medicare. But yet, still, you are
giving tax cuts to the rich. And they are complaining.

And so we`ve got -- we -- no doubt about it, this is the time for us
to act, and we will.

SHARPTON: The tax cuts to the rich, let me show you something,
Congressman Cummings.

CUMMINGS: Sure.

SHARPTON: The CEOs in this country, I want you to look at this graph
carefully and bring this with you when Congress convenes. Twenty-five of
the 100 highest paid CEOs earned more last year than their companies paid
in federal income tax. This is outrageous.

And as they are sitting there protecting the wealthy, as they are
sitting there, the average pay of these CEOs was $16.7 million. And we
have Speaker Boehner, when the president says I will come forth with a jobs
plan, he turns into a little Annie and starts singing, "Tomorrow, tomorrow,
I love you, tomorrow." And the Democrats that want to be unleashed on the
president, well, I`m unleashing you on Speaker Boehner.

CUMMINGS: Well, thank you, Reverend.

No, it`s clear that those CEOs have done extremely well. Those are
the very people that the Republicans have been supporting. And sometimes I
wonder whether or not they are actually -- they forget about their own
constituents who are out of work and who are looking for jobs.

And so, yes, we`ve got major issues here. On the one hand, you`ve got
these CEOs making all this money. And by the way, of those 25 companies,
Reverend, five of them paid no taxes. And then 18 of them got refunds from
the federal government.

And so, you know, the question is, the person on Madison Avenue and
the inner city of Baltimore who works hard, gets up early, pays his taxes,
does everything he is supposed to do, and then lose his house, loses his
job, I mean -- and yet, still, these CEOs are making big cash and making
big bonuses.

And so, this is -- without question, we`ve got a situation here where
we have a phenomenal transfer of wealth. Not only that, Reverend, you have
got Speaker Boehner talking about doing away and Cantor talking about doing
away with regulations.

SHARPTON: That`s right.

CUMMINGS: The very regulations, by the way, that keep our water
clean, our air fresh, and that protects our workers when they go to work.

SHARPTON: And talking about having to match cuts with emergency
relief. I mean, this is so -- this is so disrespectful and insulting, it`s
beyond belief.

Congressman Cummings, thank you though for your time this evening.
And we will all be watching over the next few days.

Thank you so much.

CUMMINGS: Thank you, Reverend Sharpton.

SHARPTON: Joining me now is Bill Press, host of "The Bill Press Show"
on Sirius XM Radio, and the only one I know probably equally as angry as I
am tonight.

BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: You got it.

SHARPTON: And Matt Mackowiak, a GOP consultant.

Let me start with this, Matt. Rush Limbaugh got on the radio and said
this before Mr. Boehner came with his logistical parliamentary reasoning
for the president not to be able to speak when he made the request.

Look at what Rush Limbaugh had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: You may not know this, but John
Boehner, the Speaker of the House, can reject this request. Boehner should
say, Mr. President, I`m not going to assist you in your political games.
We turned Clinton down, we turned Bush down. He would never have to turn
down Bush or Clinton because they have got enough class not to do something
like this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Enough class not to come before the Congress with a jobs
plan, a plan that the Republicans claim they wanted.

Is Rush Limbaugh calling the shots here? Did Rush go on radio and
Boehner respond? Or am I just being a conspiratorial as Mr. Limbaugh is?

MATT MACKOWIAK, GOP CONSULTANT: Reverend Sharpton, it`s good to be
with you.

Look, I worked on Capitol Hill for four years. And one of the things
that people don`t know is when the president gives a joint address to joint
session of Congress, there are tremendous security requirements that that
requires.

It requires literally shutting down the entire building. They have to
sweep the entire building. Staff aren`t allowed. Visitors aren`t allowed.
These kind of things need to be considered.

But look, bottom line, President Obama seemed willing to disrespect
former first lady Nancy Reagan, who`s hosting a debate that`s been
scheduled for at least six months at the Reagan Library that night. And
look, it`s not a coincidence. Do you honestly believe it`s a coincidence
that they scheduled it during a presidential debate?

SHARPTON: Wait a minute. Matt, you`re really not going to say this
to me now? You do realize you`re on POLITICS NATION?

First of all, that debate has already been changed a couple of times.
Second of all, the debate can start a little later. Third of all, you just
heard a member of Congress say that Mr. Boehner can call them back any time
he wants that day, and usually it`s about a half hour or so when they come
back in.

So, I mean, that is patently ridiculous, what you just said.

MACKOWIAK: Well --

SHARPTON: Bill, help him out.

PRESS: Hey, Al, yes, I just want to jump in here.

Look, one thing I learned, I think we all learned growing up, right,
is we respect the office of the presidency of the United States. It
doesn`t matter who is in it.

I`ve been around this political game a long time. I started talking
on the TV when Ronald Reagan was president. Ronald Reagan, George Bush, it
doesn`t matter. Any president requesting an attempt to address a joint
session of Congress on an issue of importance to the nation, they are
always accommodated.

This is the first time this has ever happened. It`s a direct slap in
the face at the president of the United States.

And Matt, to say that the Secret Service can`t clear the -- we are a
week away from this damn speech. They`ve got plenty of time to provide the
security.

And, by the way, the House has been already on vacation for six weeks.
What is one more day? They are talking 8:00 at night. They can come in at
8:00 in the morning, do their half an hour, and then get out of the way.

This is crazy and it`s disrespectful.

SHARPTON: Matt?

MACKOWIAK: Well, I think, Reverend Sharpton and Bill, I know you know
Mark Knoller, who works for another network, who has been a White House
correspondent for radio for many, many years. He put on Twitter earlier
today that these types of decisions are usually done behind the scenes in
terms of the timing, for when the president is invited. He has to be
invited to give a speech in front of a joint session of Congress.

But, look, ultimately, what we are talking about here is a jobs plan.
And it`s been 925 days since the stimulus passed, since the last jobs plan.
And so we are at a point now where people want to see action, they don`t
want to see another speech. You can`t score a speech. What`s the actual
plan?

PRESS: Wait a minute. It has been eight months since John --

SHARPTON: Well, they want to see action. And you are the ones that
are delaying the speech. What are you talking about?

PRESS: Exactly.

(CROSSTALK)

PRESS: It`s been eight months. Matt, if I can just point out, it`s
been eight months since John Boehner, who said, you give us control of
Congress and jobs is going to be our number one priority. Eight months,
not one job bill.

Yes, we want to see action. And it`s President Obama who is leading
the way for action, and John Boehner is trying to shut him down.

MACKOWIAK: OK. Hang on, Bill. The House Republican majority has
passed nine separate bills dealing with job creation, and not one of them
has moved through the Senate, which the Democrats control.

Look, these not opinions. These are actual facts. So, to say that
House Republicans haven`t taken on jobs is patently false. But ultimately
--

PRESS: No. You can call cutting the deficit and getting rid of all
these regulations jobs programs. You can call tax cuts for the rich jobs
programs. Yes, you can call a pig a goat, and it`s still a pig.

SHARPTON: And it will still go "Oink, oink," Matt, because when you
talk about job creation, you guys think tax cuts for the wealthy and
deregulation. That`s what you call job bills or job creation bills. They
don`t create jobs.

And you`ve challenged the president, you have said to the president,
where`s your plan? The president says, I will announce my plan after Labor
Day. Then he says, I`ll tell you what, I will do it even better. I will
come before the Congress, because you all are the ones that will have to
pass the legislation. I will lay it out to you guys.

And you say tomorrow. We can`t come in earlier. We`ve got other
concerns.

I mean, the American people know this is absolutely ridiculous. I
mean, I`m built a little different. My eyes are back here, my nose is
here. My mouth is here.

Something about this doesn`t taste right, when it gets here it doesn`t
smell right. And when I look at it, it doesn`t look right, Matt. You all
are playing a game of disrespect.

PRESS: Absolutely.

SHARPTON: And what`s so bad about it, you`re doing it with all of
these people unemployed.

MACKOWIAK: Well, that`s true. There`s a lot of people unemployed.
There`s 14 million unemployed and another 10 million who are either
underemployed, who have given up looking for work altogether.

SHARPTON: You have chronic unemployed.

MACKOWIAK: That`s right. We saw an announcement today by a company
out of Freemont, California. President Obama visited this solar energy
company a little over two years ago to tout them as a solar energy company
that received money through the stimulus.

Just today they announced they have to shut down. They`re shutting
their doors, they`re laying off 1,100 workers. Those people want to see
action. They don`t want to see a speech, they want to see action.

SHARPTON: And the best way to get action is the delay of a
presidential address on jobs before a joint session.

Thank you, Bill.

Thank you, Matt.

Thanks for your time this evening.

PRESS: All right.

MACKOWIAK: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, Eric Cantor was for disaster aid before he was
against it. Republican hypocrisy on this topic is growing.

Plus, Tea Party savior Rick Perry has some explaining to do. Wait
until you see the letter he sent Hillary Clinton.

And our exclusive interview with the head of the EPA. Lisa Jackson
will be here with me. Republicans say she`s a jobs killer, but we`ll get
the truth from her.

You`re watching POLITICS NATION on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: It turns out Eric Cantor was for disaster aid before he was
against it. Here`s what the Republican Majority Leader said earlier this
week, demanding spending cuts in exchange for hurricane relief.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R), MINORITY LEADER: -- federal role. Yes, we`re
going to find the money. We`re just going to need to make sure that there
are savings elsewhere.
Just like any family would operate when it`s struck with disaster, it finds
the money it needs to take care of a sick loved one or what have you, and
then goes without trying to buy a new car or put an addition on to the
house.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But that`s not what we heard from Cantor in 2004, when he
begged the Bush administration for federal money after Tropical Storm
Gaston ripped through Virginia.

He wrote, "The damage suffered by the Richmond area is beyond what the
commonwealth can handle. That is why I asked the president to make federal
funds available for the citizens effected by Gaston."

And just a few weeks later, Cantor wrote and voted against requiring
spending cuts to offset that emergency aid. This is the exact same policy
he is supporting and wrote about now.

So, the floodwaters, still affecting millions of people in the
Northeast right now, and another storm brewing in the Atlantic as we speak.
Is this really the time to play politics?

Even New Jersey`s Republican governor, Chris Christie, doesn`t think
so.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: We don`t have time to wait for
folks in Congress to figure out how they want to offset this stuff with
other budget cuts. Our people are suffering now and they need support now.

And they can all go down there and get back to work and figure out the
budget cuts later. But we need the support now here in New Jersey. And
that`s not a Republican or a Democratic issue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now, New Jersey State Senator Richard Codey, a
former Democratic governor of the state.

Governor, what`s your take on Eric Cantor?

RICHARD CODEY (D), NEW JERSEY STATE SENATOR: This is one of the rare
times I agree with Governor Christie. It`s time to put ideology aside and
help people.

And storm Katrina, when I was governor we went down there with our
state police, out (INAUDIBLE). We didn`t care about ideology, Republicans
or Democrats, black or white. We were helping our fellow Americans.

This is not the time for partisan politics. This is the time you come
together and you help each other. And he talked about families? Well, if
somebody in the family needs an operation, you find the money and then
worry about it later on, but you help them. That`s what`s first.

SHARPTON: And a lot of people are saying, well, the storm wasn`t as
bad. And thank God it wasn`t as bad in some places as we thought.

CODEY: Come to Jersey.

SHARPTON: But this is the fourth most costly emergency in American
history, "The New York Times." And if you come to your state of New
Jersey, I mean, it was very bad and is very bad.

CODEY: But what people don`t realize about New Jersey, they think
about the shore. Forget about the shore. It`s the rivers that have surge
beyond anything we have seen in a hundred years.

Paterson, New Jersey, an urban area, suburban areas, under water. You
can`t get to work. Your house is floating down the river.

Highways, crumbling. And we are talking about ideologies? Excuse me.
Where is your heart?

Do we need to do open heart surgery on these people to find out
whether or not they have a heart, Reverend? This is a time to help.

SHARPTON: Imagine if you`re sitting in one of these flooded areas.
Imagine if you are one of the 40 people -- families, who lost a loved one.
There are over 40 related deaths. And you see Mr. Cantor on television
even raising the prospect of, well, we have got to make sure we offset it
somewhere.

I mean, where do these people have any sensitivity? Why are you even
raising this at a time that we need to first deal with the urgency of the
situation?

CODEY: What he should be talking about is his sympathies to these
people and what he can do to prevent further deaths in our state. Vermont,
they`ve got 13 towns where they can`t even reach them.

SHARPTON: Right.

CODEY: Can`t even reach them. They were not on an island. They
can`t even reach these towns.

SHARPTON: It`s amazing.

CODEY: It`s incredible. It`s like we are going back to the debt
ceiling debate again? I`m sorry. Please, get on with it.

SHARPTON: And amazing to me when you find out that he operated the
exact opposite when we were -- I just read --

(CROSSTALK)

CODEY: Yes, what happened in his own area.

SHARPTON: When it happened in his own area and he voted. He voted.

CODEY: I know he did. He`s on record.

SHARPTON: And he is saying now that we have got to see where we`re
going to get the money. He voted the opposite way saying, no, let`s not
wait and see where we are going to get the money from, we need the
emergency relief now.

CODEY: Well, that record is like an e-mail. You can`t erase it. You
can`t take it back.

SHARPTON: Now, look at this graph. FEMA -- Congress has raised
FEMA`s budget 33 times without cuts. Thirty-three times.

And we`re not talking about some new twist here. This is not
something innovative that President Obama -- this has been done --

CODEY: I was saying, Republicans and Democrats did it, but all of a
sudden, it`s a big issue, raising the debt ceiling. Here, it is the same
thing, Reverend.

SHARPTON: The debt ceiling was automatic before. Now it`s not.

CODEY: Not.

SHARPTON: Raising FEMA, doing an emergency automatic, now it`s not.

CODEY: It was automatic and now it`s not.

SHARPTON: For some reason, things are changed.

CODEY: Well, things better change in Washington, because we`re one
country. We`re not divided by Republicans and Democrats. And they have to
understand that. In this time of need, show a heart, not an ideology.

SHARPTON: I think you`re right. And show some consistency.

Governor Codey, always good to see you. Thank you for joining me this
evening.

CODEY: My pleasure, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Just ahead, Rick Perry`s kind words for Hillary Clinton. I
wonder what his Tea Party friends think about this.

Also, Republican freshmen want to fix Washington, but it looks like
the fix is in.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Tea Party Republicans got elected vowing to change
Washington. But instead, it looks like they are doing business as usual.

"USA Today" reports several GOP freshmen are backing legislation that
just happens to help big campaign donors. Take Tennessee Congressman Steve
Fincher.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. STEPHEN FINCHER (R), TENNESSEE: I`m Stephen Fincher, and I
approved this message because my roots run deep in Tennessee, not politics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But Fincher`s roots seem to be thriving in Washington. He
had to do some bill to fast track approval for genetically modified crops.
And tensioned got more than $87,000 from the agricultural industry. Land
O`lakes even hosted a fundraiser for him. And there`s West Virginia David
McKinley who didn`t want to get comfortable in D.C.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We`re going to be working in Washington. I`m
planning to live here in West Virginia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But McKinley seems to be working the system after the EPA
stopped the cold project he supported. McKinley sponsored a bill to limit
the EPA`s authority. Now he`s gotten $176,000 from the mining industry.
And Wisconsin Sean Duffy, definitely didn`t want to be seen as your typical
politician.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. SEAN DUFFY (R), WISCONSIN: (INAUDIBLE) And we get America back
on track.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But Duffy`s outside the day seem far behind him. He
introduced a bill to weaken the consumer financial protection board. And
got nearly $70,000 from the insurance and banking industries. These
outsider Republicans claim they would fix Washington. Instead, it looks
like the fix is in. Nice try, guys. But we got you.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Rick Perry is riding a wave of Tea Party support and
surging. A third consecutive national poll puts him way ahead of Mitt
Romney. But the Tea Party star has some explaining to do. The Daily
Caller unearthed this letter written in 1993, by Rick Perry, to then First
Lady Hillary Clinton. He writes, quote, "I think your efforts in trying to
reform the nation`s healthcare systems are most commendable." Commendable.
Interesting, considering Clinton`s brand was to establish universal
healthcare. He`s singing a different tune these days.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK PERRY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What I`m going to do on the
first day, the first day when I walk into the White House, I`m going to
find an executive order and I`m going to sign it to do away with as much of
Obama-care as I can.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He wants to do away with the President`s healthcare law,
also known as Mitt Romney`s plan. Willard is doing everything he can to
run away from his past and pretend that he is in sync with the Tea Party.
This weekend, he will attend Jim DeMint`s forum and his first Tea Party
rally in New Hampshire. But freedom works the Tea Party groups plans on
protesting. Their Web site reads, we`ll be there to tell the real story
about Mitt Romney and to protest his record. Which represents everything
the Tea Party stands against. The irony in all of this, Mitt Romney might
need the Tea Party and Sarah Palin more than ever.

Joining me now is Richard Wolffe, an MSNBC analyst and Nia-Malika
Henderson, a political reporter for The Washington Post. Thanks to both of
you joining me. How much trouble is Perry in with this letter? I mean,
for example, let me show you -- this is what Hillary`s plan looks like.
This is really the points that she wanted, she wanted to guarantee basic
benefits for all-American citizens and residents. Aliens required to be
insured. Free plans for people under a set income. This is what she
wanted. Now, Mr. Perry`s book "Fed Up," this is what he said.

"Liberals are not stupid about healthcare. They are insidious. It is
a total outrage that the Federal government would tell American citizens
that he must buy anything especially something that concerns his health and
the health of his family." Now, "Fed Up" is less than a year ago, in `94
he wrote a letter commending Mrs. Clinton. Now, his office is saying,
well, this was an early stages he didn`t know. Everyone knew she was
talking about healthcare comprehensive for everyone. Does this hurt him
with the Tea Party?

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he may try and wiggle
out of this. He did it successfully in his Texas campaign when he was
running into a different kind of opponent. People who have -- in their own
right, had their own relationship to the Clintons. But there is a bigger
story line that is really threatening for Rick Perry. That he`s all had no
cattle. But this guy is out there saying, he is authentic, he`s sincere,
he believes his stuff, he`s anti-federal government. He was very happy to
take federal dollars on the stimulus on recovery act, on this kind of
thing. They just say, he wants his own piece of a pie. Either you are a
man of principle, and you hate the federal government, you want state
rights or you don`t. And in this case, he tried to have it both ways. He
consistently does this kind of thing, if that`s his record, then he`s going
to be like John Edwards in this race. He`s going to be all show. I don`t
mean any of the personal stuff. I mean that the fronts, the performance,
is all there is. And that authenticity, once it`s gone, it`s gone forever.
Ask John Edwards.

SHARPTON: Nia, help me out, Richard said, all hat, no cattle. I`m an
urban child, so I don`t know all of what that means. But I assume he means
that he doesn`t walk the walk, he just talks the talks.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think that`s the correct
urban translation of that phrase. And I think he`s right. There is this
narrative that is beginning to form around Perry that maybe he`s not as
authentic as he seems to be. And of course, that`s the edge that he had
over Romney who is being painted as a bit of a flip-flopper and sort of
wouldn`t in terms of his approach to the trail and a flip flopper in terms
of his approach to health care and some of the issues in Massachusetts.
So, you know, when it comes with the stimulus, when it comes to healthcare,
when it comes to the fact that for instance, he used to be a democrat. He
used to back Al Gore back in the late `80s.

SHARPTON: He ran Gore campaign in Texas.

HENDERSON: Exactly. So, he is going to have I think some explaining
to do. As this campaign goes forward. And it is just a matter of how he
is able to do it. Is he really able to maintain this sense that he
actually is authentic? In some polls, he is obviously leading a Romney.
But one of the more interesting now points in and looking at some of the
data, there is still a wide swath of folks who still don`t really know what
to make of him. Something like 55 percent weren`t able to, you know, have
enough information about them, about Perry, to form an actual opinion about
whether or not...

SHARPTON: Well, the Quinnipiac polls, which is the last one to come
out has him up 24 to 18 over Romney. But Romney, in a faceoff with
President Obama, according to Quinnipiac is tied.

HENDERSON: Right.

SHARPTON: That you see President Obama at 45 and you see Romney at
45. But Mr. Romney, Richard, may have a secret weapon. Because Sarah
Palin is talking about going to New Hampshire and Iowa this weekend. I
don`t know if she is just trying to keep her name in the game. I don`t
know if she is doing it for other reasons or if she is really still not
decided to stay out of this race. If she came in, wouldn`t that hurt Perry
much more than it would hurt Romney?

WOLFFE: You know, I`m convinced and having for a long time, she is
going to come into this race.

SHARPTON: You do think she is coming.

WOLFFE: I do believe she`s going to come into this race.

SHARPTON: Why?

WOLFFE: Because of everything she`s done. I mean, she`s taping adds
like she`s a candidate. She is traveling like a candidate. No one is
coming up with a convincing reason why she would not. They say, oh, well,
she would jeopardize the money. She made more than enough money to stay
out of the money-making business for a several months, and she would make
more money on the back end of it. By the way, Republicans now believe they
will going to win. So, why would you not want to come in at last possible
moment, ride the bump in the poll through the first vote. So, I think she
comes in but everyone seems, this is a sort of zero some game, this Tea
Party folks are cancel each other, I think it`s even harder for Romney to
get any oxygen with her in the race.

SHARPTON: Well, Nia, most of Republicans polled 64 percent are saying
that they like the field the way it is. So, is there really room for Sarah
Palin to come in, if you have over two thirds of the Republicans saying,
the field is fine.

HENDERSON: Well, I think one of the things in talking to, you know,
when I travel around the country, in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Iowa,
there isn`t a great clamoring for Sarah Palin to get in. In talking to
people with the Tea Party or republican women and men who obviously are
wanting a candidate that can win this thing, they say as of Sarah Palin
that they like her in terms of being a thorn in the side of liberals but
not necessarily someone who can, if presidential, and can actually run the
race and win this thing. So, I think, you know, she`s obviously been
flirting with running for many, many months now talking to her family
saying that, she could make a decision of next month by the end of next
month. But I think also, you know, Sarah Palin more than anything wants to
be relevant. So, whether or not she runs, I think in some ways, she will
be sort of a kingmaker when it comes to the Tea Party. You know, it will
be interesting if she doesn`t get in who she decides to throw her support
behind.

SHARPTON: Richard, the Freedom Works are saying that going to picket
or demonstrate or protest Mitt Romney.

WOLFFE: Yes.

SHARPTON: How much does that hurt him? Is the optic something that
could be very bad for him or does it moderate him?

WOLFFE: Well, it would help for general election if he gets that far.
But having -- by the way, these people are Republicans, and they are taking
sides and campaigning. At this point in the primaries, I thought the Tea
Party folks were across the republican parties that picking their winners
right now, it kind of blows a hole through this idea that they are all
Republicans in this together. I said before, this is a third party that
got co-opted into the republican side of it and they are still operating
like a third party. I don`t think that this is helpful for Romney in any
way shape or form. He`s got to mobilize people. If he seems unacceptable
to the folks who have shown up and vote at this point, bad news for him all
around. If he gets to a general election, he`ll be strong as Jon Huntsman
and people -- better than he is.

SHARPTON: Quickly, Nia, Sarah Palin, if she comes in, does it help or
hurt Mr. Romney? Do you agree with Richard that she is coming in but it
has no effect or what do you think, quickly?

HENDERSON: Yes, you know, I`m not sure if she will come in. I think
it probably, ultimately helps Romney. Makes him look like adventurous in
the race, the adult, the person that can most likely win independents. Win
suburban women, you know, across the country. And maybe even Latinos. So,
I think that`s what it does for the race if she gets into this thing.

SHARPTON: Well, I have a memo here saying run, Sarah, run. But why
is this on Romney for president stationary? Nia-Malika Henderson and
Richard Wolffe, thank you for joining me tonight.

HENDERSON: Thank you, Reverend, Sharpton.

SHARPTON: Ahead, the brilliant GOP plan deregulates everything. What
a great idea. They want to start with the EPA. Lisa Jackson, the
administrator of the EPA responds next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The EPA has become the Republicans favorite target in their
so-called jobs agenda. But it wasn`t always that way. A republican
President Richard Nixon created the agency back in 1970 to clean up our air
and water. He was motivated by scenes like this one, when the Ohio`s
Cuyahoga River was so polluted, it literally caught fire. But today,
Republicans are hell-bent on crippling the EPA. Their new jobs plan really
just recycled the tired old idea of deregulation. Limited EPA rules on
dangerous materials like greenhouse gasses and coal ash. GOP presidential
candidates have also bought into this toxic agenda.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: There is no other agency like
the EPA. It should be really be renamed the job-killing organization of
America.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I want to replace, not reform EPA because EPA is
made up of self selected bureaucrats who are anti-American jobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now, is Lisa Jackson, the administrator of the
Environmental Protection Agency. Who just today wrote her critics and
about her critics in Huffington Post. And she is with us tonight. Thank
you so much for joining us, Ms. Jackson. Let me start with some facts.
The job killing image that they are trying to put on, let`s look at this
graph. And I want you to respond to this. The Clear Air Act alone has
created $1.6 million jobs and generated $290 billion in revenue. How can
anyone say you`re a job killer?

LISA JACKSON, ADMINISTRATOR, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY: You
know, I don`t know, Reverend Sharpton. And thank you for having me on
tonight. You know, that graph doesn`t also include the health benefits of
the Clean Air Act. Two trillion dollars in healthcare costs avoided.
Because remember, when we talk about something like the Clean Air Act, we
are talking about stopping pollution that gets into your lungs that you
breath, that makes you sick or sends you to the hospital or in some cases,
kills you.

SHARPTON: Now, it would seem to me to be some place in American
politics, where partisan politics goes to the side. This ought to be one
of them. We are talking about literally cleaning the air and the waters
that in fact cause people death, illness, diseases. I mean, we are talking
about 205,000 premature deaths that have been avoided and on and on. Where
does partisan politics come in when we are talking about the lives of
American citizens?

JACKSON: Well, I`ll tell you what, the American people agree with
you. They don`t understand. Seventy one percent of the American people
said in a recent poll, they want the EPA to do their job. And that is
because Americans know without being told what the alternative is. The
alternative is big polluters, being able to put as much pollution into the
air and water and they feel they need to make a profit. It is not OK to
sacrifice our health for profit. We can make common sense rules that
protect jobs, that grow our economy, EPA has 40 years of doing that. And
as you noted, we started under a republican president.

SHARPTON: Now, exactly, Richard Nixon started it. Now, what is the
motive -- I mean, who gains from EPA being under attack or being replaced
as Newt Gingrich said, who benefits from it? Suddenly, the citizens also,
is it the big business guys that would be able to operate without
regulation? I mean, I`m trying to put my brain around who could possibly
think that this is a good thing?

JACKSON: Well, remember, EPA came to be because the American people
stood up and demanded their representatives almost unanimously put EPA in
place to protect their health. We`re the only agency in the federal
government whose job is to stand between pollution and our children, our
children`s health. So, it is not unusual to hear a lobbyist and special
interest and the talking heads inside the beltway, chatter about how we
need to get rid of regulations. But when I go out, I am mostly asked by
citizens to do more, to protect their health. To protect their homes and
their communities, the places where they live, because they know that we
are there to protect health and make their children and their families
healthier.

SHARPTON: When I look at the polls and we`ve check our own polls
here, and it seems like you are absolutely right, 77 percent say Congress
should let EPA do its job. Seventy seven percent. Sixty three percent,
EPA should do more to protect air and water. So, the American people
clearly are not saying what some of the republican leadership is saying
here. I do not understand for the life of me, why we would be playing with
this kind of stuff at this point when we needed more than ever, and the
American people seem to overwhelmingly support the work your agency is
doing.

JACKSON: That`s right. I sold this. I sold a little short. I said
71 percent. But if it is 77 percent, I`m not surprised because is seen by
Americans as an agency that works for the average American, the average
American can`t pay consultants to talk to big power plants who spewing
mercury or -- that came to the air. The average American can`t do much on
their own to take care of their water body, where they like to go and fish.
The average American expects its government to do that. And I really hope,
and I still am holding out hope, that our politicians go home and talk to
their constituents. Not special interests, but their constituents. Listen
to what they want. Because some here in Washington are starting to repeat
lines that were written by lobbyists who get paid to put forth that
information. But it`s not what the American people want. And it`s not
good for our country.

SHARPTON: Well, if they won`t go home and talk to them, people at
home need to make sure they are heard. EPA administrator Lisa Jackson,
thank you for joining me tonight.

JACKSON: Thank you for having me, Reverend Sharpton.

SHARPTON: Ahead, Rush Limbaugh has gone off the deep end with this
latest conspiracy theory. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: President Obama is focusing like never before in job
creation. But today, Rush Limbaugh found another conspiracy theory when it
comes to jobs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: This is not cynicism. I`m
telling you the truth. The last thing on Obama`s mind is creating jobs.
The only thing on his mind is reelection.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: This is one of the many theories we have been hearing
lately from Rush. Including this whopper about the President`s Midwest bus
tour.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIMBAUGH: Apparently, Obama only road the busses for a couple of
miles at a time. He spent the rest of the time flying. The whole thing
was a fraud. There was no bus tour.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: There was no bus tour. Really? Maybe the president has a
body double. That road around on that bus and gave all those speeches. Or
maybe Rush has just gone off the deep end about Mr. Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIMBAUGH: I`ll guarantee you, Obama was hoping this would be a
disaster as another excuse for his failing economy.

Barack himself has some chip on his shoulder about this country. You
know my theory about it. That he doesn`t think there is anything
particularly special or exceptional here. Now we know what Obama got for
his birthday. A downgrade of our credit rating. Probably exactly what he
wanted in his heart of hearts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: If that`s not bad enough, Rush even had a conspiracy theory
about me. Recently when I flubbed a line on this show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIMBAUGH: Somebody is sabotaging the Reverend Sharpton, via the
teleprompter. Even a racist teleprompter or whoever is preparing the
teleprompter is racist or somebody is sabotaging.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I`m so happy, so confident, so overjoyed, that Rush is
looking out for me. After all these years, I`ve been marching. I could
never get Rush to go after a racist, it is a shame when we finally got you
to look for one, they didn`t exist. Get some rest, Rush.

Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton, "HARDBALL" starts right now.

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

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