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PoliticsNation, Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Read the transcript from Thursday's show

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Guests: Donna Edwards, Alex Wagner, Bob Franken, Elijah Cummings, Mark
McKinnon, Tom Parker


REV. AL SHARPTON, HOST: Hey, Republicans. The people are speaking.
Isn`t it about time you started listening?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Lower taxes.

GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Lower the taxes.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: You need to lower tax rates.

SHARPTON (voice-over): Republicans are still singing the same old
tune. They want you to pay up while fat cats on Wall Street sit on piles
of cash.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s time for Congress
to act.

SHARPTON: Tonight, I`ll talk about the fairness divide with
Congresswoman Donna Edwards.

President Obama`s speech to the Congressional Black Caucus is still
getting a lot of attention.

OBAMA: Stop complaining --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How does he get away with saying this --

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: Just curious.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you imagine him saying that to Wall Street
people?

SHARPTON: But is he being held to a higher standard? Congressman
Elijah Cummings joins me live.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are no gangs in the Sheriff`s Department.

SHARPTON: Shocking reports of brutality in L.A. County jails, but the
sheriff says there`s nothing to see here.

And GOP commitment-phobes may finally be warming up to Willard Mitt
Romney.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When the facts change, I
change too, Madam.

SHARPTON: Now if they could only get their party`s most famous flip-
flopper to stick to his own position.

POLITICS NATION starts right now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

Tonight`s lead: Let them eat cake. That`s the chilling message
Republicans are sending to millions of Americans worried about putting food
on the table every night, even as President Obama calls for economic
fairness.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: One of the reasons that I ran for president was that wages,
incomes had flat-lined at the same time, that costs were going up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: In contrast, the calls from conservatives to reduce taxes
for the rich even got louder. Anti-tax guru Grover Norquist responded to
Warren Buffett`s idea that the wealthy pay more of their fair share. He
responded with sarcasm.

He wrote a letter to Buffett saying, "You can open many your checkbook
right now, write a check payable to the United States Treasury, drop it in
the nearest mailbox, or just hand it to your secretary. Problem solved."

And Rick Perry`s wife Anita bragged that her husband created a lot of
jobs in Texas even if those jobs pay peanuts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANITA PERRY, RICK PERRY`S WIFE: I`m not going to tell you they`re all
high-paying jobs, but they are jobs, even if they are minimum wage jobs.
And that`s what people are hungry for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Mrs. Perry didn`t know how right she was. Texas has more
people working at minimum wage than any other state, and yet Rick Perry`s
answer continues to be lower taxes for the rich. So he fits right in with
today`s GOP.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: Very powerful job creation model based on lower taxes, less
regulation.

PERRY: Lower the taxes and the regulatory impact on these job
creators.

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Eliminate all taxation
from the standpoint of corporation tax, strip all the old regulations out,
rewrite them.

RYAN: You need to lower tax rates in America --

ROMNEY: Lower taxes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now is Congresswoman Donna Edwards, Democrat
from Maryland.

Congresswoman, is taxing millionaires a fake way to talk about the
economy, like Rick Perry says?

REP. DONNA EDWARDS (D), MARYLAND: Well, you know, I have to tell you,
I don`t know what America these guys are living in, because in the America
that I visited out in my congressional district today, small business
owners are struggling, working Americans aren`t making as much as they used
to a decade ago. People are unemployed.

That`s a different kind of America. And I think that I`m right with
the president. We really need to get a grip on fairness here and making
sure that the wealthiest two percent pay their fair share.

SHARPTON: Now, when we hear them talk about class warfare, it`s
interesting to me. When we talk about rich people getting a break, and
rich people are being allowed to have loopholes, it`s fine. When we talk
about middle class people and poor people being treated in a fair way, all
of a sudden it`s class warfare. But the good news, Congresswoman -- look
at this poll -- is that American people are basically not agreeing with
this class warfare charge.

When a recent poll says that President Obama`s reelection strategy is
designed to bring people together, 56 percent say it brings people
together, 32 percent say it drives people apart. So most people don`t feel
that it`s practicing class warfare.

EDWARDS: Well, they don`t. And what they really know is their own
pocketbooks.

I mean, they know that their wages aren`t going nearly as far as they
used to. They know that their children, who have done all that they need
to go to college, are coming out and don`t have jobs. They know that our
small businesses are struggling.

And so the Republican Party really needs to do a reality check. And
most people agree with the president, that we have to create jobs, that the
government plays a role in doing that, that we have to rebuild our
infrastructure, that we need to make sure that the fairness burden is
shared all throughout the economy and all throughout the workforce.

And right now the American people, your average worker knows that
they`re bearing a greater part of the burden than those at the highest
income levels. And it just -- you know, you just have to go to the grocery
store to know that.

SHARPTON: Now, the polling doesn`t stop there, Congresswoman Edwards,
because look at this polling on whether or not the rich should be taxed
more. Now, this is across-the-board polls.

NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll says 56 percent of people say, yes,
more taxes are on the wealthy. Pew poll, 67 percent. Gallup poll, 66
percent.

So, across the board, any number of polls are getting the same
results. So, really, it`s not the Republican or the right wing or Norquist
crowd against President Obama. It`s them against the clear majority of the
American people being polled.

EDWARDS: Well, that`s exactly right. And when you see a circumstance
where median incomes have slipped below $50,000 for the first time in a
decade, when you see a circumstance where we have more unemployed than ever
before, where people are struggling to keep their mortgages, people are
really smart. And they`re not going to be fooled against by this trickle-
down economics theory that didn`t work 30 years ago and isn`t going to work
today.

SHARPTON: Now, in the Congress, how do you and others of like mind to
you intend to get legislation passed that will help those seeking jobs and
help those that are seeking to put food on the table? Labor leaders and I
met yesterday in Washington. We`re coming to march. We want to put
pressure on.

But what is happening in the Congress that will lead to some relief?
What is the strategy that you can share with us?

EDWARDS: Well, I think the best strategy is actually to use the
voices of the American public. I mean, today, for example, I was out at
small businesses all throughout my congressional district, and I heard from
them.

They`re struggling for capital. And so I talked to them about the
American Jobs Act. I talked to them about credits that might be available
for small business owners like themselves to hire people who have been
long-term unemployed. And they want to do this.

And so, when the Republicans get out there and they say that they`re
speaking for small business, and that they`re speaking for the American
people, we can say they`re dead wrong, because I`m bringing the voices of
the small businesses and of workers in my community to the United States
Congress. And we`re going to push the American Jobs Act.

And we need you and our labor leaders and everybody out there pushing,
too, to make these members of Congress who don`t come from my congressional
district do what they need to do for the American people. And so I`ve been
out there, we`ll be out there on Capitol Hill. And we need to join forces
with the grassroots American people to say we`ve got to create jobs in this
country.

SHARPTON: All right. Thank you, Congresswoman Donna Edwards. Thank
you for joining us.

Joining me now is Alex Wagner, MSNBC analyst, and Bob Franken, "King
Features" syndicated columnist.

Thank you both for coming on the show tonight.

Now, let me start with you, Alex. Joe Biden today, on the economy --
well, let me play for you what he said.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Even though 50-
some percent of the American people think the economy tanked because of the
last administration, that`s not relevant. What`s relevant is we`re in
charge.

And right now we are the ones in charge, and it`s gotten better, but
it hasn`t gotten good enough. So I don`t blame them for being mad. We`re
in charge.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SHARPTON: What do you take from that, Alex? Did he run off the
railways, or is he saying we are in charge now, we`re going to take
ownership and get something done?

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC ANALYST: Well, a couple of things.

One, Joe Biden running off the rails, I think that`s par for the
course. Right?

But two, look, I think that there has been some -- the administration
has come under some fire for punting back to the Bush administration, even
though, look, this recession took years to get in and it`s going to take a
while to get out of.

I think it`s good for Biden to be saying this, as Obama is sort of
laying out a job strategy, laying out a deficit strategy. It`s a very
proactive stance to take, and I think it`s not necessarily owning the
recession, but it is saying, look, we understand, we share the burden, and
we are going to get us out of this. We are going to move the ball forward.

SHARPTON: Now, do you think, Bob, that by doing the legislation and
now going on the road to campaign around getting this jobs act, constantly
going in places and leading the chant himself, the president, "Pass this
bill," is that the way that they can move this ball forward?

BOB FRANKEN, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, anything else hasn`t worked.
When Biden says we`re in charge, I think the criticism against the
administration has been that, up until now, the Democrats, the president,
and this administration haven`t really taken charge. So this is an effort
to try and at least change that perception and to really clarify the
issues. The issue being, should people pay a fair share of what they have
prospered in the United States with to help support all the societal needs
that the country has?

SHARPTON: Now, let me show you another graph here, Alex and Bob, to
show you how bad this is.

We are looking at haves, the administration, as opposed to the GOP in
Congress. Who is doing more to help? The Obama administration, 15 percent
thinks that the Obama administration is helping the haves. Forty-seven
percent think that the GOP is helping the haves.

Twenty-nine percent think the Obama administration is doing more to
help the have-nots. Only seven percent think the GOP is.

So, clearly, according to the Pew poll, most Americans think that the
Republicans are doing more for the haves than the have-nots.

WAGNER: Sure. I mean, this comes, look, on the heels of them balking
at a payroll tax cut. This is the party of tax cuts, and yet, payroll
taxes, there`s a question mark over it?

I think, also, look, we`ve had 30 years of low tax rates -- not 30
years, but we`ve seen the income tax go down. In the 1950s and `60s,
you`re talking about a top income tax rate of near 90 percent. And you
look at that, and you look at the capital gains tax, where the bulk of
people`s wealth is, in the haves category, that`s taxed at 15 percent.

So I think the fact that the Republicans are forwarding this idea that
we need to have continued, incredibly low tax rates to help the rest of the
country has some holes in it.

SHARPTON: Well, Bob, when it really shows me the level of where it
seems like there`s no boundaries, look at what has happened in the United
States, children living in poverty. Look at this graph.

Thirty-nine percent of black children living in poverty. Thirty-five
percent of Hispanic. Twelve percent of white children. These are
children.

So when you`re looking at this level of children -- this is past
Republican, Democratic, Independent, Tea Party, children living in poverty,
and they are still holding this tax cut for the rich, don`t spend any money
to create jobs, I mean, this is beyond, to me, the boundaries of even
making sense.

FRANKEN: And then they have this knee-jerk reaction always which is
that anybody who suggests that maybe the wealthy should pay more are
engaging in class warfare. And the statistics that you were displaying
right here are just another illustration about who has been waging class
war against whom.

That is to say, that the wealthy, for the longest time, with the
Republican enablers, have been the ones who have been sort of the Hood
Robins, taking money from the poor to supply the rich. And what you get
then is sarcasm from some of the Republican enablers like Grover Norquist
suggesting voluntary payments to the Treasury on the part of Warren
Buffett, and the other wealthy.

Well, the last time I looked at the 16th Amendment, you won`t find the
word "voluntary" in it.

SHARPTON: Well, Alex, if you look at the fact -- to bring Bob`s point
even more graphically home, look at this screen here, the rich getting
richer.

In 2010, CEOs` income went up 27 percent, whereas the workers in the
private sector only went up two percent. CEOs, 27 percent hike. Workers,
only two percent. And we`re acting like we`re being unfair to them?

WAGNER: It`s absolutely right. "The Washington Post" had a great
series on this. I mean, in the last 30 years, CEO corporate and executive
pay has just skyrocketed.

SHARPTON: Right, including perks and everything else.

WAGNER: Everything else. The expectations of what you get at the top
of the corporate ladder so far exceed even those of a generation behind.
And then, you know, concurrent to that is almost an attack on the American
worker.

Their wages have stagnated. We see what`s happening with labor
unions. I mean, there`s been a real, I think, change in American attitudes
towards wealth versus the top and the middle of the spectrum.

SHARPTON: Now, I think the real question is going to be whether or
not they continue to galvanize and move forward, and galvanize this country
around the Jobs Act, or whether or not at some point there is some retreat.

And I think that, clearly, the way the American people are being polled,
Bob, and the way people in the base are saying is they don`t want to see a
retreat. We`ve got to go all the way this time.

FRANKEN: Well, the thing that you have to watch for is the fact that
the wealthy, who are the ones who are not paying the taxes, are paying a
little bit out there to run their propaganda. And I use that word on
purpose, although I`m sure it`s going to be controversial.

They are the ones who will spend huge amounts of money to put
television commercials on the air and the like that really confuse things.
It`s very, very Orwellian, and Orwellian as in the statement from "1984"
that "Ignorance is strength." They really put all this kind of confusion
out there, and so people are divided. And as a result, nobody can
effectively come up with ways to counter the fact that the wealthy aren`t
paying their fair share.

SHARPTON: Alex Wagner, Bob Franken, thank you very much for your time
tonight.

WAGNER: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Coming up, is President Obama being held to a higher
standard? We`ll talk about it with Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings.

Plus, now Mitt Romney is flip-flopping on whether he is a flip-
flopper.

Folks, you can`t make this up.

And the outrageous abuse of power in one of our nation`s busiest
jails. We`ll hear from a former FBI agent who calls it the worst thing he
has ever seen.

You`re watching POLITICS NATION on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: President Obama`s speech to the Congressional Black Caucus
last Saturday has been getting a lot of attention, especially among some
African-American critics who claim the president only gets tough when he`s
talking to people in the black community.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How does he get away with saying this to black
folk when he would never form his lips to ever say that to any other
constituency?

WATER: I found that language a bit curious. I don`t know who he was
talking to, because we`re certainly not complaining. We`re working.

WEST: When you look at the speech that he gave at the Congressional
Black Caucus, you know, offensive, condescending. Oh, my God. Can you
imagine him saying that to the Wall Street people, saying that to the
Catholics, saying that to gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, saying that
to the Jewish brothers and sisters?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: In an interview with BET this week, the president pushed
back, saying this particular criticism is nothing new. In fact, the same
people who were criticizing him now were doing the same during his
candidacy for president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The other thing I want to make sure that you don`t just kind
of slip in there is this notion that African-American leaders of late have
been critical. There have been a handful of African-American leaders who
have been critical. They were critical when I was running for president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now is Representative Elijah Cummings, Democrat
from Maryland. He`s also a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Congressman Cummings, thanks for coming on the show tonight.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: It`s good to be with you.

SHARPTON: Now, let me ask a question, because I want to get into jobs
and the real concerns. But all of this back and forward, the fact of the
matter is, I don`t know people know that you hosted that morning a
roundtable of leaders. I was one of them, where we debated that many of us
have a different point of view.

Most people are very supportive of the president, others have been
critical. But at the end of the day, I think that we`ve got to be
consistent.

What is something that bothers me, let me show you this graph. If I
were to show -- and this is something on not only black leadership, but
liberals that has been written about by a colleague of mine.

If I were to show you that there was a president that pushed a
controversial crime bill that hurt blacks, oversaw the execution of a
brain-damaged man who is African-American, signed welfare reform, hired a
GOP consultant, would we hold him accountable? Would we be calling him
names?

And the answer would probably be yes. Well, let me show you who that
person was -- Bill Clinton. And most of the people criticizing President
Obama endorsed him, supported him, and some of them called him the black
president.

So, whereas I think there is legitimate critique of President Obama,
what I don`t understand is how people could give such a pass to President
Clinton for some acts that I feel were egregious, and call President Obama
names like "mascot," "puppet" and other things, when in fact they just wish
he would do more. And as far as saying that he talked to them harshly at
the speech -- you and I were at the speech -- first of all, I think that
when he talked to John Boehner, when he went to the press room and jumped
on John Boehner about not returning his call on the debt ceiling, I`ve seen
and you`ve seen him get tough.

But was he supposed to come out and coddle people and ask people to
release us on you? Was he supposed to come and beg them to -- I mean, I
don`t understand why we`re getting in these distracted fights when we`ve
never done that to any other Democratic president.

CUMMINGS: Well, Reverend, I`ll tell you, I see all of that as a
distraction. I think this president has done a remarkable job, actually,
and I think that -- and the other night, when he spoke before the
Congressional Black Caucus and our guests, I did not get the impression --
I didn`t feel insulted at all.

As a matter of fact, I felt that this was a leader who was standing up
and who was saying, you know, we`ve accomplished a lot, and we`ve got a lot
of people in pain, but we have got to finish the job, and I`m rallying you,
and asking you to just stick with me keep so that we can finish the job.
And that`s the impression I got.

Keep in mind, Reverend, 99 percent of the people -- and when I looked
around -- gave him a standing ovation after he said what he had to say.
And so I just think that we -- I want to make sure that we don`t get
distracted and forget what the alternative is with regard to the
Republicans.

SHARPTON: Well, I think you`re right. But I think -- and let me say
this, then I want to move on to the Republicans.

I was there, you were right, and 99 percent of the audience was
standing up, clapping. And it seemed like you and I were not offended.
But I`m saying people have the right to disagree.

CUMMINGS: Yes.

SHARPTON: What they don`t have the right to do is have a double
standard and us not call them. What I want to know is how the same people
supported someone like -- that I`ve outlined and hold this standard. And
they can come on any night they want to explain that to me, because I have
the videos of them saying it.

Now, let`s move on -- and any night you want. Just call it, and I
will make room for you. But I have videos on the black president and their
support, and all that, so I want people to be consistent.

Now, Mr. Herman Cain, who is running on the Republican side, he also
has had some unkind words. He says that we are brainwashed, that most
blacks are brainwashed. And his exact quote is, "Many African-American
have been brainwashed into not being open-minded, not even considering a
conservative point of view. I have received some of the same vitriol
simply because I`m running for the Republican nomination as a
conservative."

What do you make of --

EDWARDS: I think that`s a very unfortunate statement. African-
American people are not brainwashed.

Reverend, I live in the neighborhood, and I have lived there for 30
years, where "The Wire" is filmed. And my constituents are very clear that
this president is doing everything in his power to help them get jobs,
doing everything in his power to help them have health care, to get their
kids educated.

And they see him as a person who is going against just a phenomenal
force. Every single thing that he does, they realize the Republicans are
not -- they don`t care about bipartisanship. So, when Mr. Cain makes those
kind of comments, I mean, it`s clear that African-American people
understand what`s going on.

Now, I think where we get a little bit confused sometimes, Reverend,
is people do get frustrated, because the jobless rate is high and they`re
going through difficulties. But they`re sticking with this president. And
I guarantee you, once this nominee, the Republican nominee is declared, I
think people will then focus in and understand that there is no comparison
between President Obama and whoever that nominee might be.

SHARPTON: Well, no, people are frustrated, they have a right to be.
In fact, they should be. They should be outraged.

CUMMINGS: Yes.

SHARPTON: Look at the unemployment numbers, period, 9.1 percent. In
African-American communities, almost 20 percent.

We should be outraged, but there`s a difference between people
expressing it and people exploiting it. And when people are taking
positions they didn`t take before, I`ve got to say, wait a minute, don`t
play with us, let us come together to solve this, because you`re really not
saying what you`ve always said.

CUMMINGS: And no doubt about it. And what I want this president to
do, President Obama to do, is to concentrate on what he`s been
concentrating on.

Go forward. And I want him to continue to fight for those jobs, fight
for better health care, fight for our children to be able to go to schools.

I mean, and if you look at his record, it has been a very good record
with regard to African-Americans and folks who have been often left out.
So, is there more to do? Yes, there`s more to do.

SHARPTON: A lot more to do.

CUMMINGS: Yes, a lot more to do.

SHARPTON: And we`ve got to bring jobs, we`ve got to bring things back
in our community, but we`ve got to be consistent. We can`t have different
things based on who we like or based on who did us favors. When we are
doing that, then I think we lose the moral authority.

And then, Congressman, we`re like a James Brown record. It`s just a
dull knife, it just won`t cut it. You`re just talking loud and saying
nothing.

(LAUGHTER)

SHARPTON: Congressman Elijah Cummings, thank you for your time this
evening.

CUMMINGS: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Coming up, Mitt Romney responds to criticism that he`s a
flip-flopper. But flip-flopping Republicans, are you getting tired of your
new front-runner yet?

But first, tainted cantaloupes are scaring folks across the country.
But guess who is fighting against food safety? Yes, the GOP. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Republicans are always complaining about the so-called job-
killing regulations, but you would think they wouldn`t have a beef with
rules to keep our food safe. Well, think again. This month an outbreak of
listeria in cantaloupes has killed up to 16 people and made dozens more
sick. Meanwhile, a recent E. coli outbreak in ground beef has sickened
four kids in Ohio, but in the face of these very real examples of the need
for food safety rules, Republicans are still moving ahead with their cuts
in food safety programs. Earlier this year, House Republicans voted to cut
around $250 million from the USDA and FDA. Among other things, those cuts
would mean less stringent testing of meat products, and there`s at least
one GOP presidential candidate who wants it to go even further. After
touring a meat-packing plant in Iowa, last week Michele Bachmann turned her
war on food regulations into a stump speech.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: That`s part of the promise, the
overkill it seems they have. Now the federal government is coming in and
making it far more complicated. When they make it complicated, they make
it expensive. And so then, you can`t no longer stay in business.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Did Bachmann and other House Republicans think we would
ignore how they`re putting ideology ahead of food safety? Nice try guys,
but we got you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: It looks like Willard Mitt Romney has reason to celebrate
today. The tortoise is finally beating the hair. A new FOX poll shows
Romney is taking back the lead from Rick Perry for the first time since
Perry jumped into the race. Romney clearly thinks slow and steady will win
him the nomination. "The New York Times" says today that Romney strategy,
quote, "has evolved into being the last choice, and eat your vegetables
candidate who may only be seen as more appealing when he`s matched up
alongside his rivals." Even Willard himself says his strategy is to fly
below the radar screen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR: Keep your head down,
talk about the issues you care about, hope the other guys stumble.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, that`s what I call leadership. It`s been a while
since Romney has been in the spotlight. And my friends in the GOP might
have forgotten why they passed on him the last time around. So, in case
they forgotten, here`s a quick refresh of course on the many sides of
Willard Mitt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this
country.

I will preserve and protect a woman`s right to choose and devoted and
dedicated to honoring my word in that regard.

The right next step in the fight to preserve the sanctity of life is
to see Roe v. Wade overturned.

I`m pro-life. I believe in the sanctity in the very beginning until
the very end.

Massachusetts is a model for getting everybody insured in a way that
doesn`t break the bank.

There are certain aspects of it that I think would work across the
country.

Obama-care intends to put someone between you and your position. It
must be repealed. That law is bad, it`s unconstitutional, it shall not
stand.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Mitt even flip-flops on whether he`s a flip-flopper.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: They can tell when people are being phony. And our pandering
to an audience. You`re not going to see them on my campaign. I`ve laid
out what I believe. I will continue to do so, and the positions that I
believe in are the positions you hear about.

One thing I will tell you, however, is that it`s not that every single
issue I have looked at in my entire life, I`ve never changed my view on.
So, as Winston Churchill said, when the facts change, I change too, madam.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So, how are the Tea Party folks going to react to this kind
of talk? And how are republican king makers handling the flavor of the
month contests? We`re seeing in the GOP primary.

Joining me now is a man who`s made history from the inside, Mark
McKinnon, former advisor of the George W. Bush, and John McCain, he`s now a
Daily Beast contributor, and cofounder of No Labels. Mark, you know the
power brokers in the GOP, what are they saying about this race right now?

MARK MCKINNON, COFOUNDER, "NO LABELS": Well, Romney has done well.
He`s hung in there, he`s been very consistent, he`s been through the drill
before, and he`s built his campaign to sustain and to last over time. He
knows, it`s a marathon, he knows the physics of this race. But, you know, a
week ago the press was calling this a two-man race, this week they`re
calling it a one-man race, but there are enormous physics that have yet to
set in. And, you know, I think that Iowa is still wide open. You could
have Rick Santorum, you could have Herman Cain, you could have Michele
Bachmann, Rick Perry or even Romney really pop out there. And it`s all an
expectations game. So, people want to end this race now. But it`s still
the first act of a three act plan. There`s still a lot of things that can
happen between now and then.

SHARPTON: Well, how do you deal with the fact that Romney, if he ends
up being candidate has flip flopped on so many issue. If we just, let me
show you this. Screen of Romney versus Romney, if he beats everybody else,
how he`s going to beat himself when he`s taken both sides of health care
mandates, Social Security, bank bailouts, stimulus, auto bailout, abortion
rights. At the end of the day, the guy that may beat Romney is Romney.

MCKINNON: Well, I think that the one thing that Romney has done well
this time, unlike last time, is he really genuflected and kissed the rings
of the social conservatives last time. He`s really resisted doing that.
And stayed truer to who I think he really is, which is a private sector
jobs creator as a governor, and that`s where he`s kept his message focus.
So, and then in the end, what`s going to matter is to voters is the economy
and jobs. And the extent to which Romney has shown competence in that
area. And increasingly, the dynamic of this election could be competence
on jobs, proceed income but it`s on the economy. And that what`s going to
be important to voters.

SHARPTON: Now that he`s back up in the polls and now that he`s trying
to get around some of his flip-flopper, will his fund-raising improve? We
just saw in a Boston Globe reporting that his fund-raising went down 50
percent, since April to June quarter, his fundraising went down. Will he
now be able to race more money? What does this mean?

MCKINNON: I think he will. Money always follows momentum. And
follows a proceed winner. There are lots of people sitting on a fence
during a time which he was unclear -- Perry versus Romney for a period of
time and that shifting. But also, I noted today that Rick Perry has seven
different committees and super-pacs that are raising money independently of
his campaign. And I think that Rick Perry prior dragged a pretty good sack
of money over the last month or two while he was riding a top of those
polls. So, I suspect that Perry will show a pretty good fundraising core.
And, by the way, getting back to the physics to the press, the press love
to right about how a campaign melts down, but they also love to right how a
campaign resurrect itself. Just remember John McCain`s campaign last time.
So, don`t write him Rick Perry yet.

SHARPTON: Oh, the reporters love a good crucifixion and they also
love a resurrection. There`s no question about it. You just better make
sure when you`re being crucified that you can resurrect yourself. Talking
about going down and losing momentum, Rick Perry seems to have had the ergo
out of the ball and in fact he`s starting to walk back on his calling some
of his opponents heartless on the question of immigration, looking at the
statement that he made, trying to walk back his heartless statement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: I probably chose a poor word to explain
that. And, you know, I was probably a bit over passionate by using that
word, and it was inappropriate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Is Rick Perry`s surge finished? Or can he regroup and come
back?

MCKINNON: He`s got substantial resources as I mention. There are
seven different committees that are raising money on his behalf. They`re
going to go out there and spend it. And I think it was a good move for
Perry to walk that back a bit, although I completely agree with his
position on that issue. But I don`t think his intent was right in
attacking the people who happened to oppose his view on that issue. But
I`m glad to see him taking that issue and bringing it on. Because I would
think a more compassionate conservative position on immigration and paying
that tuition for children of immigrants is a great idea, and Republicans
need to do more that if they expect to get Hispanic votes back, which they
need to do in order to win. We`re not going to win the general election
unless we do substantially better with Hispanic voters. So, I`m glad to
see Perry do that. And it concerns me that I see Republicans giving so
much blowback on what I think a noble position on immigration.

SHARPTON: Mark McKinnon, thanks for joining me this evening.

MCKINNON: Good to be with you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, there are reports of heinous prison abuse coming out
of Los Angeles, but the sheriff in charge says the claims are just designed
to win a quick headline. We`ll call him out, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back to talk about those shocking allegations of
abuse in L.A. County jails, that outline in a new ACLU report. And that we
first told you about on yesterday. Now, Sheriff Lee Baca, the man in
charge of the largest jail system in the world doesn`t seem too worried.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHERIFF LEE BACA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY: The great thing about this
story is that I have more allegations than the ACLU does that I`m
investigating now. There`s nothing new about allegations. What`s most
important is provable allegations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He`s not worried about those 70 sworn statements of abuse
by deputies. He`s dismissing the allegations as hyperbole, even though
they come out not just only from inmates, but from chaplains and
volunteers, too? Would you call this hyperbole?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORDON GRBAVAC, ALLEGED VICTIM OF ABUSE IN L.A. JAILS: They
handcuffed me and took me to a back room and they slammed my head into a
glass wall over half a dozen times. There was blood on the glass. There
was blood on the cement floor, and there was blood on one, on one pew over
also.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me is Tom Parker, former FBI official who led the
agency`s Los Angeles office and who oversaw investigations into charges of
corruption in the LAPD. He was also involved in the ACLU`s investigation
of jails. Tom, thanks for coming on the show tonight.

TOM PARKER, FORMER FBI OFFICIAL: Well, thank you very much for asking
me.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you, have you ever seen anything this bad
before?

PARKER: You know, Reverend in my career, I`ve probably been in 40
different jails and prisons all over the world. And this one is by far the
worst situation of institutionalized violence that I`ve ever seen.

SHARPTON: One of the things that was stunning to me, and I`ve been
involved in a lot of civil rights cases, and cases where people are
complaining about law enforcement. But when I saw this taped statement,
let me play this, where a man talks about how he was forced to change a
statement and confess to something, look at this tape.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRBAVAC: The white deputy told me to change my story or I`m going to
be in big trouble. I felt threatened. And when the supervisor came back
with the camera, they made me change my story to say that I had did this to
myself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So, this man was beaten by officers, and then was told to
change the story and say he did it to himself. I mean, this is amazing.

PARKER: It absolutely is, Reverend. I`m very familiar with that
gentleman`s story. It was a part of my investigation. And that is, by
far, one of the most horrible stories coming out of the investigation in
terms of a man who is certainly deemed to be innocent. He had not been to
court yet, and certainly had not been convicted of any crime.

SHARPTON: Now, let me show some quotes from the report to our
viewers. One talks about the current system often consists of attacking
deputies, supervises interviewing the inmate victims sometimes with one or
more assaulting deputy president. I mean, so you interview the victim with
the deputy standing there. That`s a real way of trying to get to the
bottom of what`s true or not, when you have your assailant looking at you
and you`ve got to live under their supervision. Another one, in many
cases, deputies continuously yell stop fighting or stop resisting while
they are beating the non-resisting inmate in an apparent attempt to falsely
blame the inmates for their attacks. I mean, this is appalling.

PARKER: This is a very serious problem. And I can tell you,
Reverend, from a perspective of a life-long law enforcement officer and
criminal justice consultant, this is a very serious, a very tragic wrong
that needs to be made right. And it`s a very painful experience for me to
have to have been involved in this. I am certainly not one that thinks
that all law enforcement is totally professional and totally truthful, but
the vast majority are. And the obfuscation, the unprofessional
investigations, the intimidation that was involved in these situations over
the last 10, 20 years is just absolutely abysmal.

SHARPTON: What can we do about it?

PARKER: Well, I think that the only way this can be handled, and it`s
based on the fact that I just don`t believe that the sheriff`s department
is capable of investigating itself. The record, the history certainly
shows that, and I think the only answer for that is for the U.S. Department
of Justice, for my former colleagues and the FBI to come forward, and
really conduct an in-depth, a very thorough, a very penetrating
investigation, and then let the courts issue the orders that needs to be
issued to right this wrong.

SHARPTON: Tom, thanks for coming on the show tonight.

PARKER: My pleasure. Thank you very much.

SHARPTON: We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PARKER: Today, a federal judge allowed Alabama Republicans to begin
their crackdown on what they say is an influx of illegal immigrants taking
jobs from law-abiding citizens. Many are protesting the new law. The
toughest in the nation, because it allows police to stop anyone they
suspect is in the country illegally, and demand proof of citizenship. Even
public school students aren`t safe, but of course the state lawmaker who
sponsored the law says they aren`t targeting Hispanics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Anytime someone disagrees, they`re called racism.
This is not about racism. Because if you`re in Alabama or in the country
illegally, whether you`re from Canada, Europe, Africa, wherever, the law
will apply to you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Nothing to do with race, huh? Well, another lawmaker begs
to differ.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STATE REP. ALVIN HOLMES (D), ALABAMA: The state of Alabama is
dripping with racism. They look at blacks as second-class citizens. They
look at Hispanic people as second-class citizens, and they`re going to do
everything they can to make Hispanic people feel uncomfortable and try to
get them out of the state.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I told you last night I have family, my mother, from
Alabama. You heard the sponsors say if they`re from Canada or Africa --
well, suppose if I bring an African with me to visit my mom or someone from
Trinidad or someone from Haiti, it gives them the right based on what they
think, to treat them different from other people that visit that state.
That`s wrong. That`s a violation of civil rights. That`s profiling based
on what people look like, not based on who they are. That should be
resisted.

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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