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PoliticsNation, Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Read the transcript from Thursday's show

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Guests: David Axelrod, Hilda Solis, Rick Lazio, Bob Shrum, Barry Scheck


REV. AL SHARPTON, HOST: Watch out, Republicans. The president`s got
a bridge to somewhere.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. Boehner, Mr.
McConnell, help us rebuild this bridge. Help us rebuild America.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: President Obama brings the jobs debate right to their back
yard. Is this new get tough approach here to stay?

David Axelrod, the key Obama strategist, joins me for an exclusive
interview.

Plus, there they go again. A new low for GOP hypocrisy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: Oh, my goodness. I didn`t know
that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Believe it, Darrell Issa. And you`re at the center of the
storm.

Also, Willard Mitt Romney. He`s just like you, if you eat fast food
and live in a McMansion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The great middle class, the
80 to 90 percent of us in this country --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And "I`m innocent," Troy Davis` final words. His death
reviving the debate over an unjust system of justice. Tonight I`ll talk
with Barry Scheck of The Innocence Project.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just so much doubt. If never occurred to me
that the government was going to go ahead and murder this man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Welcome to POLITICS NATION. I`m Al Sharpton.

Tonight`s lead, Republicans, get ready, because the president is just
getting warmed up.

Today, President Obama took his jobs fight to the home turf of two top
Republicans in Congress, and he challenged Speaker Boehner and Senator
Mitch McConnell to stand in the way of progress. He challenged them, stand
in the way of job growth, and he challenged them to pass his jobs bill so
the country can fix the crumbling infrastructure in their own back yards.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Behind us stands the Brent Spence Bridge. And it`s in such
poor condition, that it`s been labeled "functionally obsolete." Think
about that, "functionally obsolete." That doesn`t sound good, does it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s kind of like John Boehner.

OBAMA: It`s safe to drive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Republicans might like President Obama`s tough new tone,
but judging by the response in Ohio, Americans sure do.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: If you want construction workers rebuilding America, pass this
bill. If you want teachers back in the classroom, pass this bill. If you
want to cut taxes for middle class families, pass this bill.

AUDIENCE: Pass this bill!

OBAMA: If you want to help small businesses, what do you do?

AUDIENCE: Pass this bill!

OBAMA: If you want veterans to share in the opportunities of this
country, what should you do?

AUDIENCE: Pass this bill!

OBAMA: Now is the time to act.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now is David Axelrod, Obama campaign senior
strategist.

David, thanks for coming on the show.

DAVID AXELROD, CAMPAIGN SR. STRATEGIST FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA: Great to
be with you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Now, I want to talk to you. The Republicans are debating
tonight, and I want to get into you about your possible opponents. But
before I do that, a couple things are bothering me.

I`d like you to hear what some of the Republican leadership thought
about President Obama`s visit to Ohio today. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE SPEAKER: Now is not the time for the
president to go into campaign mode.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: The president has made a
decision that he`s going to go into full campaign mode now 14 months before
the election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: President Obama has
been traveling around the country trying to set a record for the number of
times he can say the words "Pass this bill right away." Forget the
political theater.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, David, we heard them say repeatedly earlier in the
year they wanted to know the president`s plan. He comes with a $447
billion plan. Now they call it political theater. Fourteen million people
are out of work, people are suffering, and they are now trying to act like
this is just campaign rhetoric?

AXELROD: Well, the truth is, Reverend, the president is campaigning.
He`s campaigning to get this bill passed, because we have serious economic
challenges, people are feeling them in their day-to-day lives, and it`s
time to act.

And I know that Senator McConnell was offended that the president was
out there doing that. It was Senator McConnell who said at the end of last
year that his goal for the next two years was to defeat the president.
Well, they ought to spend less time trying to tear the president down and
start working with him to build America up.

And that`s what the president`s point was today. He`s going to
continue saying it.

I understand it makes some feel uncomfortable, but they should feel
uncomfortable, because the American people don`t want politics now. They
want cooperation around this bill, big issues.

Let`s get America back working. Let`s start rebuilding our economy in
a way that provides broad opportunity. And that`s the project the
president is working on here.

SHARPTON: Now, maybe they`re using the political way out because they
really can`t control their own caucus. I mean, look at this.

When you see the contradictory statements and the timeline it was done
in, they seem to have no control over their own forces in Congress. So,
rather than say they`re in disarray, maybe that`s why they`re trying to act
like it`s the president.

Look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CANTOR: What you`ll see today is the CR that will pass the House
floor and go over to the Senate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The yays are 195, the nays are 230. The motion
is not adopted.

BOEHNER: I have no fear in allowing the House to work its will, and I
have long believed in it and I still continue to believe it. Does it make
my life a little more difficult? Yes, it does. But at the end of the day,
every member has an obligation to represent their constituents.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, it`s almost unbelievable. That`s why I wanted to
play it, so the people would not think I was reading it wrong.

Contradictory statements in and out. How do we get anything done when
they cannot seemingly get some agreement in their own caucus?

AXELROD: Well, the particular issue that you raised there was one
that is really fundamental, which is whether we`re going to provide the
disaster relief that communities need around the country when they are
under siege. That`s something that we`ve always done as a country, stand
by our neighbors when they`re in times of distress.

And now this has been thrown into doubt because of the Republicans in
the House. Some of these Tea Party Republicans simply don`t believe that
that`s an obligation of government, an obligation of our society. The
Senate did pass a bill that would cover these expenses, and the House won`t
go along with it, so it`s created a big problem.

And you -- someone used the phrase -- when the president said
"functionally obsolete," and someone shouted something from the crowd, I
mean, the question is whether the Congress and the Republicans in Congress
are becoming functionally obsolete in terms of dealing with the problems of
this country. People want action. They don`t want politics.

They are worn out on the politics, on the obstruction. They want
cooperation, and they want action on the fundamental issues facing us,
which are economic.

These members of Congress can do that. A lot of the ideas we
proposed, as we`ve said before, Reverend, are ideas that many of them have
embraced in the past. It is inconceivable to me how they could not pass,
for example, an extension of the payroll tax cut, but they defend to the
hilt tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, tax loopholes for the oil
companies.

So what is the principle there, that it`s not OK to raise taxes on the
people at the top, but it`s OK to raise taxes on 160 million working
Americans? I don`t understand the logic of that. And the only conclusion
you can come to is that it`s all about politics.

Whatever the president proposes, they`re going to oppose. That`s not
good enough for the American people.

SHARPTON: Well, let me ask you this: Is John Boehner up to the task?
Is he a strong enough leader to be able to get something done, or is he
following the crowd? Is the dog waving the tail or the tail waving the dog
here?

AXELROD: Well, it`s an interesting question. We don`t select their
leader. They select their leader. And I`m not going to interpose myself
there. But obviously it is stunning when the Speaker and the majority
leader put a piece of legislation on the floor.

And that piece of legislation, frankly, was inadequate. It didn`t
match what the Senate had done. It didn`t cover the range of disaster
relief that`s needed right now in the country, in communities around the
country, and they couldn`t even pass the scaled-down bill. So there`s a
level of problem there --

SHARPTON: Scary.

AXELROD: -- that is really concerning.

SHARPTON: Well, you say maybe they`re functionally obsolete. I think
you`re being kind to use the term "functionally."

But let me get into the politics of it.

Rick Perry had, in my opinion, the gall to come into New York while
the president was dealing with some delicate matters of global peace, the
Middle East, things that I think anyone would respect and take politics out
of. He came into the area and -- well, let me show you what he did. He
stood up and he made this statement about appeasement --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- the Obama
administration and their Middle East policy of appeasement that has
encouraged such an ominous act of bad faith. Simply put, we would not be
here today if the Obama policy in the Middle East wasn`t naive and
arrogant, misguided and dangerous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: In the middle of negotiating with Israel and Palestine in a
very delicate situation that we`re dealing with lives, is this over the
line? Is this inappropriate, for someone to come in and play a partisan
political game in the middle of this kind of delicate balance?

AXELROD: Well, it certainly was jarring that he did that, but more
so, it didn`t really reflect the reality of what was going on.

Here, the president is working diligently to head off this problem and
to give life to real negotiations that might lead to a lasting peace in the
Middle East, and peace and security for Israel, alongside a Palestinian
neighbor. And to throw that into the sort of political maelstrom in that
way was pretty shocking.

SHARPTON: Now, they debate tonight. They`ll all by up there tonight.
They`re down in Orlando, Florida, right down the block from Mickey Mouse
and Donald Duck.

(LAUGHTER)

AXELROD: And don`t forget Goofy.

SHARPTON: Well, that`s right. Goofy will be at Disneyland, too.

And what do we -- what do you think we should be looking for from
these candidates? You have Rick Perry, who`s the front-runner. Rick is
the cowboy, and he`s come in, and he`s protecting whatever it is of the Tea
Party.

Then you have my friend Willard Mitt Romney. He`s an everyday man.
He`s one of us, just a regular guy.

And Michele Bachmann.

How do you handicap your opposition? If you`re getting your fighter
ready to go into the ring against these people, what do you tell them?

AXELROD: Well, I mean, obviously, what they have decided to do is
cater to that Tea Party Republican faction, and what is clear after several
debates is, when it comes to economics, all of them are basically saying
the same thing, which is let`s go back and do the same thing that we did in
the last 10 years. Let`s give tax cuts to the people at the very top, tax
loopholes for big corporations. Let`s roll back -- the last time Mitt
Romney said, I`ll roll back on the rules on Wall Street, let`s unleash Wall
Street, which is of course where he made all of his fortune.

And that is their prescription. We`ve seen this movie before,
Reverend. We know how it ends.

It`s not good for America, it`s not good for the middle class. It`s
not good for people who are aspiring to become middle class.

So, you know, there was this -- you remember the whole to-do about
when we were going to have our speech to Congress on the jobs act, and some
people said to me, well, you`re trying to preempt the Republican debate.
Not at all.

I would like everybody in America to watch the Republican debate. I
think it`s really enlightening, because what you see is that they really
don`t have anything to offer but the same old kind of trickle-down
(INAUDIBLE) that got us into this mess in the first place.

We want policies that are going to reward hard work, reward
responsibility, make sure that everyone gets a fair shake, and everybody
does their fair share. That`s how we`re going to rebuild this economy, not
by repeating the same mistakes that got us into this mess before.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you quickly two last questions.

The president`s approval rating -- disapproval rating in Florida has
gone to 57 percent. The president has come out tougher. People have said
it seems like he has now become a different kind of president in terms of
his reelection than he was.

Was he trying to take the high road to see if he could appeal to the
best in the opposition and now he`s just giving up and saying let`s fight
it out? Or has he changed strategy, saying that won`t work, maybe I had
the wrong strategy, let me use this strategy?

What are we looking at, Mr. Axelrod?

AXELROD: Reverend, we`ve got serious problems and challenges in this
country. His job is to try and make progress on those challenges. If
there are people willing to work with him in whatever party, he`s going to
work with them. If they`re unwilling to work with him, and if they make a
strategic decision that they`re simply not going to cooperate on every
issue, then he has no choice but to take that case to the American people.
And that`s what he`s doing right now.

SHARPTON: Well, David Axelrod, I`m sure you`ll be watching tonight in
Orlando. A little hint from me. I`m nowhere near the strategist you are,
but if you want to hear a job creation plan, you better find Donald Duck
and you better find Goofy. I think they`re going to have the only plan
you`ll hear tonight in Orlando.

(LAUGHTER)

AXELROD: All right. Thank you.

SHARPTON: David Axelrod, senior strategist for the Obama campaign.

Thanks for joining me this evening.

AXELROD: Great to be with you. Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, Michele Bachmann in Florida today. You will not
believe the comments she made.

Plus, the controversial execution of Troy Davis and why the justice
system needs to change.

And Mitt "Corporations Are People" Romney says he`s just like us. You
have to hear this one.

You`re watching POLITICS NATION on MSNBC. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Today, Republicans hit new heights of hypocrisy, while
getting flat-out disrespectful to a member of President Obama`s cabinet.

It happened at a House committee hearing that Republicans called "How
Obama`s green energy agenda is killing jobs."

Congressman Connie Mack attacked Labor Secretary Hilda Solis as she
explained why jobs related to hybrid vehicles are classified as green.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. CONNIE MACK (R), FLORIDA: We have to get at whether or not the
information that you`re giving us is accurate. And I don`t think any --

HILDA SOLIS, LABOR SECRETARY: It is accurate.

MACK: No. Driving a bus, just because it`s hybrid, doesn`t make it a
green job.

SOLIS: Mr. Congressman, would you rather have that person unemployed
--

MACK: No. I would rather them work.

SOLIS: -- or the taxpayers would have to pay -- he`s now paying
taxes.

MACK: But I would rather you not try to smooth this thing over and
make it a green job when it`s a job.

SOLIS: It`s an industry that`s green.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The funny thing about Congressman Mack, when he`s not busy
bashing green jobs, he`s trying to bring jobs back home to his district.
This letter is from Connie Mack in 2009 to the Energy secretary. He`s
begging for federal funds that will help his district "implement new
energy-efficient technologies and reduce operating costs."

Sorry, Mack. We got it in writing, and your signature is on the page.

But joining me now is Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.

Secretary, welcome to the show.

What`s your reaction to getting attacked like this at this Republican
hearing today?

SOLIS: Well, we`ve known for a long time that the Republicans have
not agreed with the whole definition of green jobs and green technology,
and you saw how they defended the coal and oil companies. It`s OK to give
these subsidies, but you can`t give incentives to create new renewable
jobs.

You know, Reverend, this reminds me -- a couple years ago when we used
to carry those big cell phones, remember the big model that almost weighed
about two pounds? Well, now technology changes and we`re using these
iPads. We`re doing so many things because we have of innovation and
because we`ve made investments in these new industries.

Green renewable energy is the same thing, only we`re helping to clean
up the environment, we`re creating better wages. And through our
Department of Labor, I`m not saying I`m creating the jobs. I help people
train up for those jobs so we can meet the demands of those venture
capitalists and those inventors.

That`s what this department is doing. And I`ve only been able to
invest $500 million.

Do you know that the Chinese put in billions of dollars? And they
subsidize these kinds of industries.

It`s shameful that somehow, the Republicans believe that we are
wasting taxpayers` dollars, when in fact we are not. And the gentleman
that Connie Mack, Congressman Mack, called out, actually lost his job
because of the downsizing in the financial industry. He is thankful to
have that job.

SHARPTON: The guy that he called out actually lost his job?

SOLIS: Yes. The guy lost his job, got retooled, retrained in our
programs that we help support with public/private partnerships, is now in a
new renewable sector driving a fuel-efficient vehicle that was built in
California.

How many manufacturers are building efficient vehicles? This is once
in a lifetime. It`s wonderful.

The gentleman, I met him on the plant site in San Jose. And he told
me, "Secretary, you know what? I may not be making the same amount of
money that I was in the financial industry, but let me tell you something,
I`m able to keep my commitment to my son. I can now pay for his college.
And that`s my commitment to my family."

And I can`t tell you, Reverend, how proud I was to hear that story.

SHARPTON: Well, I`m sure you would be.

Let me say this -- we mentioned that Connie Mac, likes to attack green
energy programs while also seeking green energy funding, but 10 other
Republicans on the committee fit that same bill, including Chairman Darrell
Issa.

What do you think of that?

SOLIS: Well, you know, you and I know it was more of a circus that
was run during the day regarding this committee. And Darrell Issa, as you
know, actually supports the notion of green investments and green
technology.

And I know that he has to carry out his function and role on that
committee, because that`s a part of his leadership duties. But I can tell
you that the tone has changed dramatically since when I was in the Congress
just two-and-a-half years ago.

It is very polarized. And it`s unfortunate that people somehow
believe that we are cutting the spigot off, that we`re not creating jobs
and we`re actually hurting jobs, when, in fact, according to Brookings
Institute, and the statistics that I see, we have actually added 2.7
million jobs in the green sector.

SHARPTON: Well, I want to talk about that, but let me show you
something.

Here`s what Darrell Issa said about green jobs. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ISSA: Looking back on the Obama green energy record, three years and
billions of taxpayer dollars later, the American people have received very
little return on the president`s signature investment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He almost makes it sound like the green sector itself is a
myth, but look. More than two million establishing green goods, more than
two million Americans employed in the green economy.

This is no myth.

SOLIS: Right. And, you know, Reverend, I had the opportunity to
visit some of these plants out in Detroit, where they`re now making
investments in lithium batteries, a new type of battery.

In 2002, we only had two percent of that market. By the end of 2012,
we could corner possibly 40 percent of that market if we continue to make
these very strong and good investments.

And a lot of it is coming from the private sector, because they`re the
ones that are determining where the future growth of these jobs are going
to be. So I think Darrell Issa and others are misled, because they don`t
quite understand how the marketplace is working, and we are supporting what
the private sector is telling us where the growth needs to be.

SHARPTON: Secretary Solis, thanks for joining me this evening. Thank
you so much.

SOLIS: Thank you, Reverend. It`s a pleasure.

SHARPTON: Ahead, the Rick Perry makeover. He shot to Tea Party
stardom by talking about secession, but now he`s trying to scrub his record
clean.

But first, Republicans can`t handle what Warren Buffett is saying
about taxing the rich, so now they are getting personal.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The GOP candidates are heading to the land of make believe
tonight. They`ll be in Orlando right near Disney World for another
republican debate and another chance for them to make up facts. Front-
runner Rick Perry was warming up on FOX last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, HOST, "HANNITY": Some people said, once you used the
term secession. Is that something you believe?

GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: No, I never used that term at all. As a
matter of fact.

HANNITY: Why was it reported as such?

PERRY: I have no idea to be real honest with you. Because it was
never a factual bit of reporting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: OK, Rick, so you didn`t say the word secession, but you did
say this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERRY: When we came into the nation in 1845, we were a republic. We
were stand-alone nation. And one of the deal was, we can leave anything we
want. So, we`re kind of thinking about that again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Leave anytime you want, OK, Rick Perry? Meanwhile, Mitt
Romney strategy is to hammer Rick Perry for calling Social Security a Ponzi
scheme, but in his book, "No Apology" Romney writes, quote, "To put it in a
nutshell, the American people have been effectively defrauded out of their
Social Security. If someone in the private sector did a similar thing,
they would go to jail." When you look at these front-runners, suddenly
things look a lot better for President Obama. Mitch Daniels and Chris
Christie both critical of the field at times, were together for a political
discussion in New Jersey today. Christie said, quote, "Republican
presidential hopefuls are dancing around the issue." Who might be dancing
in the land of make believe? Next.

Joining me now, Bob Shrum, democratic strategist and professor at New
York University, and former republican Congressman Rick Lazio, thanks for
joining me.

There`s a lot of Republicans that are not satisfied with your feel of
contenders right now.

FMR. REP. RICK LAZIO (R), NEW YORK: Well, things have shifted quite a
bit since Perry`s been in the race. And now, if you look at the numbers,
the surveys, the intensity has gone up and the satisfaction has gone up. I
think this field is beginning to winnow out. It`s still a little bit
early, you know, you`re not going the real contest until January, February
but it looks like it`s Romney, Perry, and in my view, Romney right now
looks like the stronger general election candidate whether Republicans will
value that enough to make him the nominee I think is still up for grabs.

SHARPTON: But when you have Christie, let me show, quote from
Christie saying that "We`re not talking about on our side or any of the
folks, these things in a forthright way, they`re dancing around other stuff
and just trying to get four or five sound bites." This is the governor of
New Jersey talking about the field. You have Daniel saying over the
weekend in "The New York Times," somebody else could still -- competitive
chance they should campaign to govern, not just win in an election.

LAZIO: Yes.

SHARPTON: And then Sarah, "I`m not going anywhere" Palin, they
actually sent out a letter from her Pac, Sarah Pac to supporters saying,
send money in case she wants to go. Can you send your best one-time gift
to Sarah Pac today to help her elect more common-sense conservatives and
show her that we support her if she decides to run? Bob, it doesn`t sound
like to me everybody is happy as Mr. Lazio has tried to tell us.

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think Sarah Palin is
latched under a fund-raising device. She`s going to raise some money. I
think if she runs she`ll get crushed. She`ll get a huge amount of a media
attention. And then she`ll lost very badly in the republican process.
Look, right now, if he could stop him, and I`m not sure he can, Perry helps
Romney, because he makes him look relatively reasonable. I mean, this is a
guy who normally talk about secession, and by the way, we can leave anytime
we want is talking about secession.

SHARPTON: Well, no, it`s like me hitting you but I didn`t say
assault.

SHRUM: Right. But I mean, he`s called Social Security not just a
Ponzi scheme but unconstitutional and says, the states should take it over.
And Romney clearly sees Florida as his firewall with all the senior
citizens down there. And I think this debate tonight is going to be a
real, rock`em, sock`em, back and forth between these two guys. Because
there`s a lot on the line, if Perry can win Iowa, win South Carolina and
win Florida, he`s probably the nominee. Romney is going to try and stop
that in Florida.

SHARPTON: Rick, does Romney need a knockout in Florida and tonight
puts pressure on him to really impress the Floridians?

LAZIO: I think, first of all, Romney has been the most exceptional
performer in the republican candidates in the debates so far. He`s held
his own, he`s a frontrunner, took some heat, hasn`t been flustered, has had
a coherent point of view, and I think he`s going to push again in the state
of Florida where you have 40 percent I think of the voters in the last
presidential primaries were over 60. So, he`s going to be pressing on
these Social Security issue, pressing on maybe some of this foreign affairs
issues. He`s going to try and make Perry look as though he`s uninformed
and not ready to be president. Perry in my view will try and push back,
will try and make Romney look less than genuine and will try to hit him on
health care, and we`ll see. I think it`s much more important for Perry
than for Romney. I think Romney has already established, but his good on
his feet, he`s knowledgeable. I think Perry has.

SHRUM: I think it`s really important for Romney. I think he`s got,
if he doesn`t get this Social Security attack going, and if doesn`t hold in
Florida, I think you`ll have a very hard time winning the state when you
look what`s happening in republican primaries down there. He`s got one
other attack, by the way. He`s now accusing, Mitt Romney is now accusing
Rick Perry of being a flip-flopper, which is a little like me criticizing
someone for being bald. He says, he`s flip flopped, because he won`t own
up to the fact that he actually really wants to get rid of Social Security.
I mean, you could say it`s a good offense, because it`s a certain kind of
defense, but I think it`s transparent, and it`s stupid, and Romney should
never utter the word flip-flopper in this entire campaign.

LAZIO: One thing to watch here also is that Romney now has a seven-
point lead. If you look all the polls basically.

SHARPTON: Seven-point lead...

LAZIO: Over President Obama, and he`s got a significantly larger
lead, in fact Obama leads Perry on a head to head. So in Florida, which is
going to be another important swing state, it will be important for the
nomination, important for the general election. I think voters is going to
be looking very carefully not just who can turn this economy around, who`s
got the experience and the discipline and the background to get it done,
but who can win in the general election?

SHARPTON: Here`s your problem, Rick. You`ve got to get to who`s
going to run against -- let me show you some polls. In the GOP standing
right now, U.S.A Today Gallup poll, Perry`s at 31, Romney is at 24, he`s
among the Republicans. If you look at the poll in terms of Tea Partiers,
Perry 55, Romney 35. If you go to the poll men/women, more men -- this was
surprising, Perry 50 percent of the men and 36 percent of men, Perry to
Romney. So, Romney may in some polls beat President Obama, but he seemed
like he`s going to have a hard time beating Perry to get to President
Obama.

LAZIO: If you got to look at state by state base. The national polls
are interesting, but.

SHARPTON: But you just quoted a national poll against President
Obama.

LAZIO: I`m saying also.

SHARPTON: That`s very republican of you to try to switch...

LAZIO: I`m just saying it`s a fact here. I think Republicans who
want to win back the White House is going to look at who`s the strongest
candidate, who can attract independent voters. And again, that same poll
with Romney over Obama, he`s got a 10 percent lead over President Obama
among independents. I think that matters for some voters.

SHRUM: Look, there are a lot of polls out there. I saw one today
where Romney leads the president by two. I think the president is at the
bottom of this presidency. Actually, he`s going to come up. And Perry is
losing by five. Now, I`m not sure that those seven points is going to be
the electability difference that persuades Republicans. That they should
go to Romney not Perry. The republican establishment is entirely
persuaded. They`re in terror of Perry. They don`t want him to be the
nominee. Look, I went through this in 2004, if I can be analytical for a
moment. Democrats, and you know this, Reverend, because you were there.

Democrats in Iowa fell in love with Howard Dean, because Howard Dean
had been out there, he`s been banging the war, he was the anti-war
candidate, and about 30 days out, these Democrats all said, OK, what`s the
question? And they decided the question was -- who had a chance to beat
George W. Bush? And they just moved to Kerry. I mean, one of my close
friends who worked for Dean said, we got all of our ones that is our sure
voters to the caucuses. I went to a caucus and I watch half of our ones
walk across the room and vote for John Kerry. So, it really is a question
of whether or not Republicans see that and I think it`s about a seven-
point, six-point difference between how they run, the two of them, Perry
and Romney, against Obama, as significant enough to let them override
their suspicions of Romney and their attraction to Perry.

LAZIO: And don`t forget in some states like New Hampshire, you have
independent participating in the process.

SHARPTON: Yes. Which go vote in the republican primary.

LAZIO: Yes. Which in New Hampshire, the last poll I saw again,
they`re just polls, Romney had a 41 to eight lead.

SHRUM: That`s a disaster, by the way. That`s a disaster. His
expectations in New Hampshire are now so high, it seems like his own home
state, and there`s a bad thing happening underneath to him there which is
Jon Huntsman now has 10 percent.

SHARPTON: Yes.

SHRUM: And most of the votes Huntsman is going to take in New
Hampshire are votes that otherwise would have gone to Romney.

LAZIO: If he stays in.

SHRUM: Yes, if he stays in. But he`s going to stay in I think, but
Romney has to have a strategy. If he ducks Iowa, and he wins New
Hampshire, assuming he does. He`s got to have a South Carolina strategy.
He can`t come into Florida and say, well, I won New Hampshire.

LAZIO: And I think as you`ve seen, he`s actually bumped up in South
Carolina, it`s now within the margin of error, two, three points, so
whatever it is in South Carolina.

SHARPTON: Yes. But I think when you keep saying in terms of the
general election poll with President Obama, let`s not forget, Rick, that
like tonight, every debate these guys clobbering each other. All President
Obama has to do is sit back and wait, and after you guys beat each other
down, come in with a billion dollars and just take what`s left, because
you`re doing the work for them. Because I agree with you. I think you
guys are going to have a slug-fest tonight. I`ve already ordered the
popcorn, I`m watching it, and I just think you should have more debates.
The more you clobber each other, Palin should come in, I mean, come on.

LAZIO: Yes. But if you got look at again, using Florida as an
example, you have fragmented republican fields still unresolved who the
nominee will be, and still you have, in the case of Mitt Romney on the
latest polls, him significantly beating President Obama. That is not
really good news for the.

SHRUM: That`s one poll actually. There`s another poll that shows the
race basically a debt heat.

(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)

No, I actually think at this point in the political cycle with the
economy the way it is, and with people not knowing as much as they`re going
to know about Perry and Romney, it`s pretty good. But I think the polls
aren`t the question here at this point, unless Republicans decide that
electability is the issue.

LAZIO: I`ve got to end it. I just want to know, does Romney know how
many houses he has? Bob, Rick.

(LAUGHING)

SHRUM: Easy now, easy now, easy now.

SHARPTON: Coming up.

LAZIO: Two.

SHARPTON: Fallout from the controversial execution of Troy Davis. It
can and will happen again if we don`t deal with this now. How do we fix
it? That`s coming up, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Let me get something straight. Connie Mack is the Florida
congressman we talked about earlier in this show. He went after the labor
secretary. There he is. Press elect in 2004. But earlier, we showed a
picture of his father, the former Florida Senator Connie Mack III. Father
and son. Now we`ve shown the correct picture, who say, I don`t correct
myself. I wonder what the father thought about his son being so rude to
the labor secretary. We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: At 11:08 last night, we lost the battle to save Troy Davis.
Moments before he was injected with lethal drugs, he issued this final
statement, quote, "I am innocent. I ask my friends and family to continue
to fight this fight." Continue to fight this fight. That`s what we must
do. There was far too much doubt to execute Mr. Davis. He was found
guilty based largely on eyewitness testimonies, something that numerous
studies have proven to be unreliable. We need to learn. That this can and
will happen again if we don`t deal with this now.

Joining me now is Barry Scheck, co-director of The Innocence Project
who has pushed for states to examine the unreliability of eyewitness
accounts. Barry, you`ve been pushing this for a long time. In fact,
Innocence Project, you came out with this graph showing that of cases that
had been dealt with DNA studies, 75 percent of convictions overturned
through DNA, also involved witness misidentification.

BARRY SCHECK, THE INNOCENCE PROJECT: Yes, and Reverend Sharpton, we
have a whole program, New Jersey Supreme Court just issued a land mark
ruling a month ago laying out a new way for courts to examine eyewitness
identification procedures. We have police practices in place that can
reduce mistaken identifications, without reducing correct plans that we`re
beginning to get all across the country. I mean, we`ve got it in North
Carolina and Ohio. Red states, blue states. Many cities in Texas. So, we
have these reforms, videotaping interrogation, junk forensic Science, it
was bad ballistic that helped sealed Troy Davis` faith.

And I have to tell you, Reverend Sharpton, and I really thank you for
the leadership you have been showing in this fight. Troy Davis did not die
in vain. You know, as Joe Hill said, don`t mourn, organize. And we can
really see that capital punishment, opposition is no longer the third rail
of American politics.

SHARPTON: That`s right.

SCHECK: It was repealed in New Jersey.

SHARPTON: Yes. I want to show you something. Because you testified
in New Jersey, you are very instrumental there, as you were years ago, we
worked on Abner Louima, you helped change some policies there. But let me
show this, what happened in New Jersey, in a recent ruling, the New Jersey
Supreme Court issued the following guidelines, and again you were helpful
in making this happen. Police officers administering a lineup will not
know the actual suspect is. Police must show suspect photos to the
eyewitness one at a time. After they ID a suspect, the witness shall be
asked their level of certainty. All of this will be videotaped, so it can
be reviewed before a witness ever sets foot in a courtroom. That`s a very
important.

SCHECK: Not only that it helps the police, the police like this when
they implemented it because it not only protects the innocent, but it helps
the police go out and find the person who really committed the crime. So,
it`s really a win, win proposition, and we are working with police groups
all across the country. I have to tell you that one of the police officers
that we work with in Georgia tried his level best to get the Board of
Paroles and Pardons to spare troy Davis` life.

SHARPTON: Well, let me ask you this. National Action Network,
Amnesty International, all of us are going to keep fighting NAACP. In
fact, some of us are in Washington tomorrow with Justice Department dealing
with how we deal with some of these eyewitness laws. But there`s a
referendum in California that people can rally around, and I think this
Troy Davis case should inspire participation. Explain this referendum and
what it states there.

SCHECK: Right. Well, in the 2012, we`ve now raised money and we`re
going to get on the ballot a referendum to repeal capital punishment that
will also take the money and put it towards public safety. Now, the fact
is that in California, it takes 25 years from the time of a death sentence
to an execution. They have over 700 people on the row. It costs -- and
these are government estimates $184 million extra to have somebody on death
row per year than have them in general population. It`s going to cost them
another $400 million to build a new death row. So, by everybody`s
estimation, the California capital punishment system is totally broken, and
it needs to be repealed. And we have the votes, and if we get the money
together, we can tell from the public opinion polling, we have support from
Gil Garcetti, former L.A. prosecutor for many former proponents of capital
punishment in California, this can happen, Reverend Sharpton in 2012. And
if California goes, it`s going to end in our lifetime.

SHARPTON: Well, people should check out Innocence Project, found out
about this referendum. Barry Scheck, thank you for fighting on and we`ll
be right there fighting...

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Folks, Mitt Romney is just like us. That`s right. Just
listen to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We ought to provide help to
the people who have been hurt most by the Obama economy. And that`s the
middle class, it`s not those at the very low end, it`s certainly not those
at the very high end. It`s for the great middle class -- the 80 to 90
percent of us in this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Us? Eighty percent to 90 percent of us? Willard is right,
he`s just like us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Maybe I should also tell my story. I`m also unemployed.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He`s just like us. He eats fast food, tweeting this
picture eating at Carl`s Jr. That`s definitely something we all do. And
just like us, he talks about taking bargain flights on southwest, tweeting
his picture with the crew. Of course, we all take pictures on flights with
the crew. And just like us, he`s worth about $200 million. And just like
us, he`s doubling the size of his $12 million California home. And just
like us, he says, things like this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I was in Iowa the other day. And someone said, why you don`t
just raise taxes on corporations? And I said, because corporations are
people. Raising taxes on corporations is raising taxes on people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I tell you something, Mitt, I figured out what you should
do. Since you think corporations are people, why don`t you treat people
like they are corporations? And maybe we would get some jobs and some
health care and some help in this country. Just turn it around. Do it for
us.

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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