PoliticsNation, Monday, September 12, 2011
Read the transcript from Monday's show
Guests: Jan Schakowsky, Wayne Slater, Bob Franken, Michael Steele, Dana
Milbank, Bob Barr
AL SHARPTON, HOST: The "party of no" is back, but the president may
have an answer.
Tonight, President Obama sends his jobs bill to Congress. Can he get
it past the do-nothing Republicans?
Plus, Rick "Ponzi scheme" Perry spent the week perfecting a new dance,
the walk-back. But will Social Security send the cowboy packing?
Also, Tim Pawlenty becomes the new top mitten for Willard Mitt Romney.
And John McCain gets it wrong, really wrong, on America`s exit
strategy for Iraq.
SHARPTON: Welcome to POLITICS NATION. I am Al Sharpton.
Tonight`s lead, what a difference a weekend makes. Remember last
week? It seems that just maybe we had a chance to get something done on
jobs. Speaker Boehner was talking golf with Vice President Biden, and not
once but twice Boehner and Congressman Cantor said the president`s jobs
bill, quote, "merits consideration," unquote.
But that was then. This is now. Today, the president sent his jobs
bill to Congress, and called for more of the goodwill between the parties.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a bill that
will put people back to work all across the country. This is a bill that
will help our economy in a moment of national crisis. This is a bill that
is based on ideas from both Democrats and Republicans. And this is it is
bill that Congress needs to pass -- no games, no politics, no delays.
I`m sending this bill to Congress today, and they ought to pass it
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Shortly after that, Mr. "Merits Consideration" Cantor said,
quote, "I will tell you that over half, I think, of the total dollar amount
is so-called stimulus spending. We`ve been there, done that. It doesn`t
produce the promised result."
So, half the bill is dead in Cantor`s mind? No stimulus need with 9.1
percent unemployment? Who`s kidding?
And it didn`t stop there. Senator Rand Paul also said stimulus is a
waster of money and added, quote, "Much like Obamacare, which was rammed
down the throats of legislators, the president`s jobs plan has fuzzy math.
And a top Republican aide told "Politico," quote, "Obama is on the
ropes. Why do we appear ready to hand them a win?"
Iowa Republican Steve King went so far as to say, quote, "We can maybe
do some things together. Beyond that, I will tell you that it`s going to
be important just to hang on and get a new president and a new
configuration in Congress."
Republicans are just hanging in there, holding out on the economy
until they get a Republican in the White House?
Too bad. It`s at the expense of 14 million people desperate for work.
Joining me now is Congresswoman Janet Schakowsky, Democrat from
Illinois. Congresswoman, thanks for being here tonight.
REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D), ILLINOIS: Thank you, Reverend Sharpton.
SHARPTON: You introduced a bill, a jobs bill, focused on rebuilding
America`s schools. But already, Republicans like Congressman Cantor have
said they will not back any new stimulus spending. Can you accept Cantor`s
view of that part of the jobs bill being stimulus spending? I think we`re
talking about 35,000 schools that need immediate repair.
SCHAKOWSKY: Exactly. Well, it seems that the Republicans are willing
to consider all parts of the jobs bill, except the part that actually
creates jobs. And that`s what the American people, those 14 million
people, and all those worried about their jobs are listening for.
Are there going to be jobs? And they continue to repeat the same old
lie, which is that the stimulus program the last time didn`t create jobs.
Recent numbers by the Congressional Budget Office says as many as 2.9
million jobs were created by the stimulus program.
SCHAKOWSKY: We would be in a real depression, not just a real
recession, had it not been for the stimulus program. It worked and it
needs to work again. We need to put people on the job.
SHARPTON: Well, that`s what`s so, to me, puzzling and insensitive
because they`re speaking as if this didn`t work. Let`s look at your bill,
the FAST bill. Again, we`re looking at almost 15 million people needing
jobs. Your bill would provide 500,000 jobs immediately, as well as
Now, if we look at the effect of the stimulus on the GDP, we`re
looking at the fact that the third quarter of the 2008, the economy shrank
3.7 percent, fourth quarter 2008, the economy shrank 8.9 percent. 2009,
the economy grew by 1.9 percent, and added 2.9 million jobs.
So, the opposite is true of exactly what they`re projecting about
SCHAKOWSKY: Exactly. Had it not been for the actions that the
president took, we would have been in a deep depression. We would have
absolutely gone into the abyss. This president pulled us back, saved us,
but they give absolutely no credit to him and now are trying to obstruct
But, Al, Cantor said the American people don`t want this. He is
wrong. Almost 3:1 the American people are actually say they want job
creation. That is more important than deficit reduction right now, and
So, the Republicans at their peril are going to obstruct putting
people to work. I think that it`s going to cost them the election, they
think the opposite. I believe that we are right.
SHARPTON: Well, I think you are, and I agree with you. But I think
even more seriously, they are going to cost people jobs since they play
this political game and we can`t stand by and let that happened.
Congresswoman Schakowsky, thank you for your time this evening.
SCHAKOWSKY: Appreciate it.
SHARPTON: Joining me now is MSNBC contributor Melissa Harris-Perry.
She is a professor of political scientist at Tulane and columnist for "The
Nation." And Richard Wolffe, an MSNBC political analyst.
Thank you both for joining me.
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks.
SHARPTON: First of all, Melissa, let`s start with maybe the reason
the Republicans are really upset about the president`s jobs plan because
again they went from it merited consideration just a few days ago to now
it`s a stimulus plan that`s dead on arrival, is when we look at how the
president says he`s going to pay for it, because sometimes when you get
into the detail, you find out where people`s interests are. He says he
wants to end tax breaks on oil and gas companies, hedge fund managers,
individuals making over $250,000 a year and corporate jets.
So, it may be that because the president is talking about some of the
wealthy and corporate interests that the Republicans have of late then the
big representatives of since he`s saying they`re the ones who have to pay
for this job creation, that might be why they`ve got their backs up the
beginning of the week, which is not like talking golf with Vice President
Biden the other night.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, you know, Reverend Sharpton, I wish it were that,
because in a certainly way if it were that, at least it would be
substantive, at least it would be either a philosophical or a very real
political argument, that they look at how it was going to be paid for and
they are philosophically oppose to these kinds of tax increases, or that
they have political interests that align them with these individuals who
are going to see some increased tax burden.
But I don`t think it`s even that substantive. I think the speed with
which they turned on and said, no, actually this is just stimulus, we`re
going to stand against it, is actually indicative of what they`re most
irritated with was the president`s tone. In other words, what the
president said was as so many on the left have been asking for -- he said
this is the plan, this is very clear, these are the results it will have,
you should pass it now.
SHARPTON: So, act a little like he was in a more --
HARRIS-PERRY: A president.
SHARPTON: Yes. I mean, but he acted like he wasn`t president, but if
he was coming in some other tone, you think they could have accepted
better, so it doesn`t matter to them? Over 14 million Americans are
employed, they want the president to bow to them more than people go to
HARRIS-PERRY: Exactly. But that`s what you heard. They were saying
if he would only be nice the way that President Clinton was, and come up to
the Hill and talk to us. It`s bizarre, because, of course, this president
has done a great deal of work to try to create bipartisan consensus.
But at this moment, when we are facing an unemployment rate of 9.1
percent, the president said enough is enough. The fact is, what they do
not want to do going into this election year, is do not provide this
president with anything that looks like a win.
SHARPTON: Well, that`s political, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. And they`re willing to spite the
realities of this economic situation to hold the entire country and all of
these unemployed individuals hostage to this particular political set of
SHARPTON: Richard, can they do that politically? They`re getting
ready to debate again tonight, the Tea Party Express debate, I might add.
Tea Party has so much clout they get their own debate now.
So, everybody is running down the flounder (ph) on the Tea Party
Express. Can they get away with telling the American people what a 9.1
percent unemployment rate, hey, we don`t like the president`s tone, oh,
it`s just stimulus, oh, we have just not going to do it, it`s dead on
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you can get away with
it if your only concern about is safe Republican House district and you get
away with you if you think the economy is going to get better no matter
what Washington does. It doesn`t need any help because it`s going to get
better anyway, because if this economy ticks back into recession, it`s not
just President Obama who`s in trouble, it`s all of them.
They`ll be facing challenges from the right, they`ll be facing
challenges from the center, there will be third parties everywhere. The
Tea Party won`t even at issue on its own. This whole political system will
splinter apart. And so, no one will be safe, no one is sitting on a 13-
point approval rating in Congress.
So you`ve got to have either a very narrow view or a very optimistic
view. And, really, this is a political problem that the Republican
leadership has created for themselves because they have demonized this
president to such a degree that now it`s impossible for them to do
WOLFFE: That`s the problem.
SHARPTON: Richard, they`re in Florida, going to debate -- the
Republicans -- tonight in front of the Tea Party Express. What the
governor of Florida said he may turn down money from the jobs bill if it
were to pass. And he may not be bluffing. He`s turned down high-speed
But look at what it would do to the people in Florida. They would
lose out on $7.5 billion, with a B, dollars for schools, roads and other
projects. I mean, do they think people will sit by with these kinds of
numbers being taken away from them? I mean, it is absolutely political
insanity to me that they`re playing with even doing these kinds of things.
WOLFFE: Well, look, it is insane. The dynamic has become incredibly
volatile. The problem is that they actually do not care about the real
world impacts of what`s going on here. This jobs bill, never mind what
some senators say about fuzzy math from the administration. This jobs
bill, according to Wall Street economists, will create something like 1.9
million jobs, add two percentage points to growth.
If they -- at the moment, the rhetoric and the idea in the Republican
Party is they don`t want to own this economy, because that`s Obama`s
economy, but if this economy gets worse, they will own the double dip,
because they will have turned this down. And that`s the kind of dangerous
politics, especially with the president on the campaign trail, that should
keep them up at night.
SHARPTON: Now, Melissa, they have specifically come with any jobs
plan, they come mostly with a plan that will protect corporations and the
wealthy. How can they dangle? I mean, you`ve got 14 months to an election
to talk about wait on the president, I don`t think the American people can
stand even the thought of that.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, it`s a real chance, because on the one hand, they
have so effectively and repeatedly demonize this president that I think
they are hoping that that sort every characterization of him can simply
maintain throughout the rest of the presidential election cycle. But,
look, even as the president was announcing his jobs plan and discussing it
in Richmond on Friday, there was a chyron across the bottom of the screen
that was saying Bank of America is going to cut as we now know today 30,000
some odd jobs.
Now, look, it doesn`t take a lot to know that Bank of America is not
having a tax problem. Their issue is not being overtaxed by the federal
government. They are not paying taxes. Their problem were poor business
practices, which have led now to their own stability. And so, they`re
Anybody who is literally listening to the president that moment saying
we have got to create stable jobs and watching the BOA with tax cuts
supreme is unwilling to do it should be able see right away the math is not
fuzzy, it`s very clear. The government has got to get in there and create
stable, lasting jobs.
SHARPTON: And that ticker across the bottom saying laying off jobs,
that`s the tone I don`t like. I`m not worried about the president`s tone.
You know, you`re in Louisiana, Melissa. My mother is from Alabama.
She told me when I was growing up and used to drink tea, if you leave the
tea bag in the water too long, it bursts, and what was a good drink becomes
Melissa Harris-Perry and Richard Wolffe, thank you for coming on the
Coming up --
WOLFFE: Thank you.
SHARPTON: -- Rick Perry`s senior moment on Social Security seems like
he suddenly forgotten all about Ponzi schemes.
Plus -- you know Mitt Romney is in trouble when he`s hoping that T-Paw
will add some pep and pizzazz to his campaign.
Also, saving the life of an innocent man. Troy Davis is just nine
days away from execution, even though the case against him has completely
SHARPTON: Look, to me, it is very simple. Over 14 million in America
are unemployed, trying to feed their families. The choice is whether we
are going to be serious about creating jobs. We cannot do that without
spending money. The Republicans say, "Show us how we`re going to pay for
it," the president says that those who have gotten the most are going to
have to do their share. They say that`s nonsense, that`s stimulus.
What about when we stimulated the banks and bailed out the big
companies? It`s a choice. Do we want America to work for Americans or
just for the wealthy? We`ll talk about it.
SHARPTON: Rick Perry`s walk back tour continues today. He stops in
Florida where he`s doing everything he can to clean up the mess he made
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is monstrous lie.
It is a Ponzi scheme, a Ponzi scheme. It is. That is what it is. That is
just a lie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Really, Rick? The American people like that lie. A
whopping 87 percent say Social Security has been very good, or good for
Now, his Republican opponents are looking to pounds on it. Mitt
Romney sent this flyer to voters in sunny Florida over the weekend. It
reads, quote, "Rick Perry, how can we trust anyone who wants to kill Social
Security?" Meanwhile, Michele Bachmann`s advisor took a shot at Perry,
saying, quote, "Bernie Madoff deals with Ponzi schemes, not the
grandparents of America.`
Last Friday, we told you about Perry saying, quote, "It`s
misinformation to suggest he wants to abolish social security."
Today, he tried to have it both ways in a "USA Today" editorial
titled, "I`m going to be honest with the American people."
But, oddly enough, he left out his favorite Social Security buzz words
like "Ponzi scheme," "monstrous lie" and "failure." Hmm, I wonder why did
he do that? Or is it because he`s in Florida today, where nearly one out
of every five residents is a senior citizen?
Joining me now, Wayne Slater, senior political writer for "The Dallas
Morning News." And Bob Franken, "King Features," syndicated columnist.
Thank you for being here tonight.
Wayne, what is Perry up to with the Social Security position seemingly
moving a little back?
WAYNE SLATER, DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Yes. The real problem is that
Governor Perry published a book about nine months ago. And in the book, he
made it clear that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, that he thinks it`s a
failure, and suggests at least that it ought to be abolished. So, that`s
on the record, in print, black and white. And now, he has to deal with
SHARPTON: That`s only nine or 10 months ago. We`re not talking about
a book when he was a kid in college or 20 years ago.
SLATER: No, that`s absolutely -- look, that`s his position, he wrote
it, he`s got to live with it.
The question is what do you do about that on a political campaign
where, as you said correctly, Social Security is probably our most popular
entitlement program, especially for those folks in Florida. Not only there
are a lot of senior citizens in Florida, almost half, or perhaps a little
more than half of the registered voters in Florida are over 50 years.
After his last debate performance, the campaign was inundated by people who
said the sound byte that came out said you want to blow it up. And the
campaign knew they had to fix that.
SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you, Bob, he also suggested in the book it
was unconstitutional. Now, he`s saying, well, I meant you need to fix it.
If you consider something against what the country`s laws are about, you
don`t fix something that is illegal, you eliminate it. I mean, he can`t
have it both ways.
BOB FRANKEN, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, first of all, I think that
when Rick Perry believes that there`s only one amendment to the
Constitution, the Tenth Amendment which bestows powers in the states. So,
there is that. I think when he said Ponzi, he had just watch an episode of
"Happy Days," the old TV show, and meant to say Fonzie (ph) scheme or
something like that.
In other words, he really was just throwing words out there. And here
is a man, who his handlers are saying, you can`t just say this. Rick Perry
has a reputation for being a ready/fire/aim kind of a guy. In fact, I
oftentimes wonder how he hit that coyote that time. And now, he has to
sort of look more a little bit more presidential. He can`t get away with
the kind of game --
SHARPTON: But wait a minute, they`ve got to take orders from the
boss. Rush Limbaugh warned them today. I want you to hear what Rush
Limbaugh said because we all know that Rush carries a lot of weight, no pun
intended, in the Republican circles. Rush Limbaugh said this today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, I`m not endorsing anybody. This is not an
endorsement, but be very careful if you start attacking Rick Perry on
Social Security and Ponzi scheme. There are too many of you out there who
have already said that yourselves, Mitt Romney.
Mitt, you have already called it a Ponzi scheme and worse, and I`m
hearing that Michele Bachmann is preparing to lay into Rick Perry on his
comments about Social Security being a Ponzi scheme. And I would like to
warn everybody, be careful here because you`re pandering to the media.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, let me shock and amaze you. Rush happened to be right
this time. And you know it`s rare for me to agree with Rush, but a broke
clock is right twice a day because Michele Bachmann was once questioned
about Social Security, and the question was, was it a lie? Let me show you
what she said when she was asked directly the question about Social
Security being a lie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Social Security, I think it`s one of the biggest
frauds ever perpetrated on the American public.
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You`re right,
it`s a tremendous fraud. No company could get away with this. They`d be
thrown in jail if they ever tried to do what the federal government did
with people`s Social Security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: So, I mean, there you have it. Rush and Reverend Al agree
that Bachmann and Mr. Ponzi Scheme Perry are on the same side of this one.
You better not change your mind, Michele, because we`re going to have a
coalition of truth squad ready for you.
What do you think, Bob?
FRANKEN: Well, first of all, it`s going to be very interesting to
watch the debate tonight. We all know that everybody is going to be going
after Rick Perry for what he said and what he`s now saying he didn`t really
As a matter of fact, when we talk about the debate, I think the
strategy might be -- and, you know, you get a chance to tell me later in
the week, tell me if I was right or wrong, I think that Perry is going to
try and deflect this by remembering about the old adage that the best
defense is a good offense. Look for him to go after Mitt Romney for some
of the weaknesses that Romney us perceived to have.
SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you. Do you believe that, given these
numbers -- I just want to end on this, Wayne -- given these numbers of how
the public feels about Social Security, 57 percent when asked, should
Social Security be overhauled? Fifty-seven percent of Republicans, not
general, said no. How do you overcome that, Wayne?
SLATER: The only way for Rick Perry to overcome that is to attach to
this attack on Social Security the proviso that says, yes, I still -- I
want to save it, I don`t want to blow it up.
And Bob is exactly right. I`m looking for Rick Perry tonight to
continue to attack. There`s a saying here in Texas, and it`s that you
don`t have to worry about burning bridges behind you if you never retreat.
Rick Perry is not going to retreat.
He`s trying to nuance the Social Security position. He`s trying to
explain, and as Karl Rove used to say, if you`re explaining, you`re losing.
Look for him to attack tonight.
And, Reverend Sharpton, you basically have been a friend of Rush
Limbaugh tonight -- also Rick Perry, because look for Perry to say exactly
what you said tonight -- and that was you, Mitt Romney, haven`t you
questioned Social Security as fraudulent? And Michele Bachmann, haven`t
you done the same thing?
SHARPTON: Well, I agree with Rush. She can`t have it both ways. We
may agree for different reasons, but she can`t have it both ways.
And, Rick, straight ahead, the only thing in your way is grandma.
Don`t worry about it.
Wayne, Bob, thank you for your time this evening.
Also, Mitt Romney is hoping Tim Pawlenty will help energize his
campaign. Uh-oh, Willard is in even worse shape that I thought he was.
SHARPTON: If someone takes a life, they should face justice. If
someone kills a policeman, it is our duties to make sure they face justice,
but if they`re accused and there`s no physical evidence, no DNA, and they
are only convicted on eyewitnesses and seven of the nine of those recant.
You can`t take their life and say it was beyond reasonable doubt. This man
in nine days is scheduled to be executed in Georgia. No evidence, no DNA,
and seven of the nine witnesses that convicted him have said that they
recant. That`s next.
SHARPTON: Welcome back to the show. Tonight Rick Perry enters the
second presidential debate with the wind at his back and much of the
republican elite quaking in their penny loafers. A new poll shows 42
percent of republican voters think Perry has the best shot of beating
President Barack Obama. Romney has just 24 percent. And today Governor
Bobby Jindal of Louisiana endorsed Perry, but Romney supporters shouldn`t
worry. Today he got a big endorsement from an electrifying political
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FMR. GOV. MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have standing
right behind me here, the co-chair of my national effort. Tim Pawlenty is
going to be chairing my effort across the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Joining me now is Dana Milbank, national political reporter
for the Washington Post. And Michael Steele, former RNC chairman and now
an MSNBC analyst. Thank you both for being here. Michael, is a man who
thinks that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme the most electable republican
MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: Well, that will be something
that`s going to be left up to the individual voters in the various states.
I think as you have noted already and these others have noted, the governor
is walking that back a bit. The language was very strong and the reaction
to it was equally strong. And I think, when you have Michele Bachmann and
you have others within the party are saying, wait a minute, we draw a very
bright line here. The Perry campaign has some retooling to do on this
issue. And we`ll see what happens tonight on the debate, how he handles
that, whether he stays that course and stays strong or does he soften the
tone a bit, which I think the smarter move would be to soften the tone a
bit, put it in the context of making the changes that you think are
appropriate, as opposed to giving the impression if not the fact your point
as you want to destroy or remove Social Security from the books completely,
which I don`t think is the case.
SHARPTON: Dana, it looks like Perry is starting to show a little
staying power. What does Mitt Romney have to do tonight to start trying to
turn around this seemingly staying power image that Mr. Perry is getting,
and what does Michele Bachmann have to do to even get back in the game
DANA MILBANK, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, Tim Pawlenty who you just
flashed on the screen, after the fact that perhaps he should have had
sparks flying out of his butt and that might have gotten him a little bit
more attention. I don`t think that Romney is there. I think for Michele
Bachmann if she doesn`t have the proverbial pyrotechnics tonight it`s
probably curtains for her. She`s really not been able to sustain that
momentum she had. She really has to get back in the game. I don`t think
Romney has to do that. I think he just has to stay looking like he is the
The poll that you put up isn`t necessarily reflective of anything,
because they`re asking Republicans who the most electable is. It`s really
not up to them, it`s going to be up to those independent voters who are
going to be very frightened when they see the sorts of things that Rick
Perry has done. Rick Perry himself has said that, you know, he couldn`t
get elected dogcatcher in California. That is now probably also true in
Florida and a lot of other places. So, Mitt Romney needs to sit back.
Rick Perry will try to temper this a little bit, but I think he`s
constitutionally not able to do that. He`s just got this Texas-sized
mouth, and that`s who he is, and he`s going to keep doing it.
SHARPTON: Now, what needs to happen tonight, if you were advising
Rick Perry? You`re saying he ought to say what he`s going to do, as
opposed to looking like he`s going backwards? How does he deal with other
issues that have come up about him as governor, and taking care of friends
and perks, and all of that, ignore it? Take it head-on?
STEELE: I think to the extent that a specific question is asked, you
have to hit those things right out of the park head on. You can`t shuffle
on it, you can`t, you know, set it to the side, be upfront and direct about
those things, push it off the table. Because it`s not as important as
health care and Social Security and other issues. I think overall though,
what he needs to do is to show that yes, I have a lot of flash, but I also
have substance. That I have thought about these issues, not just calling
something a Ponzi scheme or making light of it in those terms, but hear
substantively what I want to do to fix what I believe is a broken system.
If he can make that argument, again to make that argument, that I think a
lot of the slippage that you see, at least or beginning to hear sort of
dissipates. If he can`t, I think it grows, and in a week`s time we`re
talking about probably another front-runner.
SHARPTON: Now, are we looking Dana at a two-person debate now, and a
two percent raise? Because look at this poll, where Bachmann now is down
to four percent under McCain. I mean, so what`s about a week ago before
the last debate, we were talking about a three-percent raise. Bachmann is
below Herman Cain. I said McCain (ph) because Herman Cain doesn`t even
ready (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for me yet. I mean, are we dealing with this is
really -- if Romney can`t stop him, this is a done deal?
MILBANK: It seems that way, Reverend, but these things can change.
And I think you have to realize that the audience here is not all of
America. It`s not Michael Steele and Reverend Al, it`s, you know who`s
going to decide is that a couple of thousand people in Iowa who really are
these Tea Party folks. That`s why you can`t rule out the Bachmann return.
You can`t -- I mean, you know, technically, you can`t even rule out Rick
Santorum. Although, I think they`re probably in a very safe area doing
that. But it`s so volatile because of this, so to the extent that Rick
Perry stumbles, then somebody goes into field of vacuum. But the people
that are going to decide this are not the people that are necessarily
worried about, you know, language about frauds and Ponzi schemes and
monstrous lies. It`s a very small group of people.
SHARPTON: But will the people that vote, Michael, will they vote
based on their anger? Or will they vote on who they think can defeat the
president? If you`re a republican, what are you going to vote on? Are you
going to vote on, I`m mad, I don`t like President Obama for whatever
reason? Or this is the person I think can win the general? And how does
one really feel, Rick Perry can win the general election.
STEELE: That I think is really the rub in terms of how they elected
the voting. Primary base will go out to the polls. Do they look that this
is a change to philosophically as well as on policy defeat the president,
or is this just sort of we`re, you know, angry, we`re pissed off right now.
And we`re not going to take it anymore, and this guy is the best one to go
and then make that point, has nothing to do with getting elected in
November of next year. It has everything to do with someone who`s going to
make the argument that we`re angry. I think the electorate, as we tried
when I was chairman of the RNC was to get beyond the anger and get to the
substance of what it is we want to accomplish. If the goal is to make
these policy goals attainable, then let`s shoot for that and put the best
person in place to do that.
SHARPTON: Well, Dana Milbank and Michael Steele, thank you for
joining me. And I think people should judge Mr. Perry objectively, listen
to him, in fact get fed up, read his book, go straight to the Ps, and the
index, look under "Ponzi," especially if you`re over 60.
Ahead, the fight to save Troy Davis, a man who is scheduled to be
executed next week. This not beyond a reasonable doubt.
Former republican Congressman Bob Barr supports the death penalty, but
he says the system has let us down in this case. It`s an important story.
And that`s next.
SHARPTON: Nine days from now, the state of Georgia is scheduled to
exercise the greatest power a government has by putting 42-year-old Troy
Davis to death by lethal injection. Davis was convicted of shooting an
off-duty Savannah police officer 22 years ago. There was no physical
evidence linking him to the shooting, no gun and no DNA. He was convicted
based largely on witness testimony. And now that`s fallen apart. Seven of
the nine witnesses have recanted or changed their stories, some of them
even say they were coerced and pressured by police to implicate Davis.
According to the affidavit, one witness said, quote, "They made it clear
that the only way I would leave and they would leave me alone is if I told
them what they wanted to hear. I told them that Troy told me he did it,
but it wasn`t true." And another witness said, quote, "I told the
detective that Troy Davis was the shooter, even though the truth was I
didn`t see who shot the officer." Think about that. He didn`t see who
shot the officer.
Nine people have come forward identifying this man, Sylvester Red
Coles as the murderer, the same man who first told cops that Davis was the
shooter. One of the nine said, quote, "Red once told me that he shot a
police officer and that a guy named Davis took the fall for it." And
quote, "I am positive that it was Red who shot the police officer." Davis`
life was spared three times already, but all of his appeals are exhausted,
and a fourth execution date has been set for next Wednesday. His last hope
lies with the Georgia board of pardons and paroles. Troy Davis is
desperately trying to prove his innocent. And that`s not how this system
should work. There`s too little evidence and too much doubt surrounding
his guilt. If he is executed, it would be a great miscarriage of justice.
Joining me now is former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr who supports the
death penalty, but has questioned this case. Thanks for coming on the
show. Congressman, you and I done television before. Usually fighting and
arguing on different sides. And though we don`t agree on the death
penalty, you`ve questioned this case of Troy Davis and questioned the
execution scheduled. Why?
FMR. REP. BOB BARR (R), GEORGIA: Well, for the same reason you do,
Reverend. And that is, we both agree and we both support true justice.
And true justice cannot be had where you have such very serious and
credible evidence that this man about to be executed did not commit the
crime. You know, some cases where you have a death penalty involved, the
evidence is overwhelming. You have physical evidence, you may have
eyewitness, you may have other sorts of circumstantial evidence, but in
this case, Reverend, as you already indicated, there was no physical
evidence. It`s primarily based on eyewitness testimony under very
difficult circumstances. It was night time, it was dark, it was a poorly
lit parking lot. And you add on top of that the fact that many of these
witnesses have, you know, not just sort of cavalierly said that they were
not sure or have recanted their testimony, but very, very credibly done.
This case, if this execution goes forward, really is a textbook example of
the sort of case in which the death penalty should not be applied.
SHARPTON: Now, as someone who supports the death penalty and a
republican of Georgia that`s a heavy statement for you to make, but I
think that we both agree that that`s the heaviest thing to do, when this
state takes a life, they have to be certain beyond any reasonable doubt. I
don`t agreed in. But you would, but I mean, you can`t redo this. You
can`t make this up?
BARR: No, you can`t. You know, there are no winners certainly in
this sort of situation, Reverend. You have a young police officer 22 years
ago who had his life snuffed out, very tragic. There are family of his out
there that want to see that justice is done certainly, but even though
there are no winners in the death penalty murder case like this, we can
limit the number of losers. And that would be taking the life of a man
against who there is very, very questionable evidence at best that he
committed this crime. And here in Georgia, of course, as you know, the
governor has no power at all to pardon somebody.
SHARPTON: What has to happened? What happened next? What is the
process now there?
BARR: Really, only way that there is hope here for Mr. Davis is for
the state board of pardons and paroles to grant clemency. The board of
pardons and paroles, is the last resort in Georgia, not the governor, but
the board of pardons and paroles. I wrote a letter to them. Many, many
other Republicans and Democrats alike have written letters. We`ll just
have to see if they understand what the courts thus far have not
understood, and that is that there is not sufficient evidence of
SHARPTON: And they will have their hearing on Monday. Let me be real
clear. I have supported Mr. Davis and his family at National Action
Network that identify would has -- have met with him on death row, but I
also say, and I`m sure you will agree with me Congressman, the family of
this policeman deserves justice, just like Mr. Davis does, but giving the
family of this policeman justice is not making the wrong person pay for the
killing of their loved one.
BARR: No, that`s simply makes a very bad and tragic situation even
more tragic, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Thank you, former Congressman Bob Barr. Thank you for your
time. And we`ll going to be staying on this story through next Monday. Up
next, John McCain`s exit strategy for Iraq -- stay longer and with more
troops. We`ll be right back.
SHARPTON: Senator John McCain has been proven wrong on foreign policy
over and over again. Now he says the U.S. should stay in Iraq longer and
with many more troops. McCain went on FOX News to criticize reports that
the Obama administration will keep only 3,000 troops in Iraq after the
official withdrawal at the end of the year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I tried to support the president as
much as I can. These are very important issues. There is no military
person that doesn`t believe we need a residual force in Iraq far in excess
of the size that apparently is being planned.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: So, McCain claims no military person supports this large
withdrawal? I guess that doesn`t include army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno,
as Think Progress points out, Odierno hasn`t said if 3,000 is the magic
number, but he said, quote, "When I was leaving Iraq a year ago, I always
felt we had to be careful about leaving too many people in Iraq. There
comes a time when U.S. becomes counterproductive." Of course, this isn`t
the first time McCain slipped up on foreign policy. In 2008, McCain said
Iran, a Shiite country, was training Sunni al-Qaeda operatives. And he was
only corrected by his own buddy Joe Lieberman when he pointed out the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: Al Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and
are coming back into Iraq from Iran. That`s well known, and it`s
I`m sorry. The Iranians are training extremists, not al-Qaeda. Not
al-Qaeda. I`m sorry.
SHARPTON: It`s a pretty being error for someone who ran for president
on his foreign policy credentials. McCain also criticized President Obama
on Libya and now Gadhafi is out of power. John McCain should get his own
facts straight before he criticizes the president.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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