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PoliticsNation, Monday, October 3rd 2011

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Guests: Richard Wolffe, Erin McPike, Justin Elliott, Newt Gingrich, Jennifer Granholm, Harrison Schultz, Alex Wagner, Nia Malika Henderson

REV. AL SHARPTON, HOST: Yes, Chris. Great show. And I really like your
sermonette, "Let Me Finish." So let me get started so I can also watch
7:00, when you come back live.

MATTHEWS: Great.

SHARPTON: Tonight on this show, hey, Republicans, do you have a Texas-
sized problem?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m a governor. I don`t
have the pleasure of standing on the stage and criticizing. I have to deal
with these issues.

SHARPTON (voice-over): Day two of silence from Rick Perry on the racial
slur and his Texas hunting lodge. His campaign says it`s been painted
over.

But you can`t keep this one covered up for long, Governor Perry.

Tonight, Rick Perry hits rock bottom. Nia Malika Henderson and Alex Wagner
on the new ugly in the Republican Party.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We have the deepest bench in the Republican
Party now.

SHARPTON: Some bench, Senator.

Chris Christie, still feeling his way along.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I`m listening to every word of it and
feeling it, too.

SHARPTON: Richard Wolffe and Erin McPike on the GOP`s slim picking.

Plus, they want you to believe they`re as American as apple pie, but the
Republicans` biggest bank rollers are hiding a sinister secret.

And as the president demands action --

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Pass it, get it to my desk.

SHARPTON: -- the Occupy Wall Street protest spreads to other cities.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: The people, united!

SHARPTON: Is this the protest movement to make big business do the right
thing?

POLITICS NATION starts right now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

Tonight`s lead, the president made his move. But how will the Republicans
respond?

Another White House battle cry as President Obama calls on Congress to pass
his jobs bill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: It`s been several weeks now since I set up the American Jobs Act,
and as I`ve been saying on the road, I want it back. I`m ready to sign it.

I will be continuing to put as much pressure as I can bring to bear on my
administration and our agencies to do everything we can without Congress`
help, but ultimately they`ve got to do the right thing for the American
people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Do the right thing, pass the American jobs bill and put 1.9
million back to work. Seems simple enough. Right? Wrong. Apparently,
congressional Republicans are not up for the challenge.

Today, Majority Leader Eric Cantor said the president`s jobs bill is dead
in the House. In fact, he called the president`s plan to pass the package
as "unacceptable."

What`s unacceptable, Congressman? What`s unacceptable, Mr. Cantor? Is 9.1
percent unemployment? And that is what`s more unacceptable. And more
unacceptable than that is your party`s refusal to fix it while people are
clamoring for change.

This weekend, 700 protesters from the Occupy Wall Street movement were
arrested, fed up with the economy and this country`s social inequality.
And even though this movement started just a few weeks ago with a handful
of people, it`s already spreading, and the protests are already taking
shape around the country.

Several hundred rallied in Los Angeles, in Boston. Protesters took the
steps of the Massachusetts statehouse today. And similar scene in
Chicago`s financial district.

People are saying, jobs. The economic order must be straightened. The big
people at the top, the rich, cannot keep having the comfort while the poor
and working class are given the discomfort.

Civil rights groups, labor groups joining all of us on the 16th of October.
And the 15th of October is the big march for jobs and justice in
Washington. The 16th, dedicating the King Memorial. People are
mobilizing, organizing, and going forward. We need change now.

Joining me now is former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm. Governor
Granholm is the author of "A Governor`s Story: The Fight for Jobs and
America`s Economic Future."

Thanks for coming on the show tonight, Governor.

JENNIFER GRANHOLM (D), FMR. MICHIGAN GOVERNOR: Reverend Al, so glad to be
on.

SHARPTON: Governor, the fight for jobs, there`s a lot going on, and I`m
going to talk about tonight Governor Perry and all the politics. But there
is nothing more important than the fight for jobs.

You had that fight as governor. You see now what is happening in your
state. They`re laying people off of food stamps and off of welfare rolls.
People -- children may suffer.

Where are we and what do we need to do?

GRANHOLM: I think everybody recognizes that this long, persistent
unemployment suggests that there`s something else going on and our economy
that hasn`t been present before. And what that is, Reverend Al, and what
we learned in Michigan, is that the structure of our nation`s economy has
changed because of globalization, because we`ve seen 42,000 factories close
in the United States this past decade. Just since 2008, over eight million
jobs lost in the manufacturing sector.

So what`s going on is that globalization has made it easy for capital, for
jobs to flow to other countries. And we aren`t doing anything about it as
a nation.

We are not standing up to create a good business case for those businesses
to remain in the United States. We`re not taking them on, taking other
countries on at the World Trade Organization to fight to keep jobs in
America. We`re not playing offense or defense in partnership.

SHARPTON: But we`re also seeing, Governor, that the right wing, the
Republican crowd, are more extreme and inflexible than we`ve ever seen.
Let me show you something that is a little surprising to me.

I want to show you a president of this United States that says let`s be
fair to working people and make the wealthy pay their share. Let me show
you what this president had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`re going to close the
unproductive tax loopholes that allow some of the truly wealthy to avoid
paying their fair share. In theory, some of those loopholes were
understandable, but in practice they sometimes made it possible for
millionaires to pay nothing while a bus driver was paying 10 percent of his
salary. And that`s crazy.

Do you think the millionaire ought to pay more in taxes than the bus driver
or less?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRANHOLM: That`s beautiful.

SHARPTON: Do you think the millionaire should pay more or less than the
bus driver? What is the difference between Ronald Reagan saying that in
1985 and in President Obama saying today, should Warren Buffett be paying
less taxes percentage-wise than his secretary? It`s the same thing.

GRANHOLM: It is the same thing. There is no difference between the two
except for the person who is delivering the remarks.

The difference is, of course, now that the Republican Party has been
hijacked, frankly, by the Tea Party and those on the far right, the
Republican Party of Ronald Reagan, who they claim to revere, would not be
as extreme as this current Republican Party is. And frankly, you know, the
president has put forward suggestions and proposals in the Jobs Act that
have been proposed by Republicans in the past, supported by many who are
still in Congress.

And yet, because he`s articulating it, they are saying, no. It`s not
rational, what they are doing. And frankly, the solutions that they`re
proposing, Reverend Al, the same old trickle-down, laissez faire solutions.

They didn`t work under President Bush. They are still not working. And
yet, those are the solutions that they continue to put forward.

We need to look at throwing out the old theories and adopting a uniquely
American policy that saves manufacturing jobs, that puts people to work in
this country. And it means an active -- not a big government, but an
active government on our side.

SHARPTON: But they`re not talking about big government. They`re talking
about no government. They`re talking about letting the wealthy call the
shots.

I never agreed politically with Ronald Reagan, but they are more anti-
Reagan than you and I could ever be when you listen to what Reagan said.
What they`re doing is a mockery to what Ronald Reagan stood for.

The American people -- look at this poll of how American people feel about
taxing the rich. The NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll, 56 percent says
raise taxes on the wealthy, 66 percent on the Gallop poll. Pew poll, 67
percent.

Ronald Reagan, who they use his name in memory, said, do you think a rich
guy should be paying less taxes than a working class mailman? What are we
talking about? These people are extremists for the rich.

GRANHOLM: And what`s happening, Reverend Al, is when you continue to put -
- what they say is you don`t want to raise taxes on job providers.
Everybody understands that. But they`re not providing jobs in America.

A lot of the jobs that are being created, especially by the multinational
corporations, are frankly those who are investing to be able to get the
benefit of capital gains. Where are they investing? They`re investing in
a global market.

Where are the multinational corporations maximizing their shareholder
return? It`s in the global marketplace. They`re not investing in the U.S.

We have got to tie tax policy to job creation in the U.S. And when the
president puts that in his Jobs Act, saying that you get a tax credit for
hiring people in the United States, saying that we`re going to invest in
infrastructure, which will hire American nurses, American construction
workers --

SHARPTON: Right.

GRANHOLM: -- American teachers, those are jobs in America, both public
sector and private sector.

SHARPTON: When you talk about getting jobs for America and protecting
Americans, that`s patriotic, isn`t it?

Thank you, Governor Granholm.

GRANHOLM: It sounds good, doesn`t it?

SHARPTON: Thank you.

GRANHOLM: You bet.

SHARPTON: Thank you for coming on the show.

GRANHOLM: Hey, Happy Birthday, Reverend Al. I hear today`s your birthday.

SHARPTON: Thank you so much. And my birthday gift was that Ronald Reagan
tape where Ronald Reagan -- that was the birthday gift our researchers gave
me, and I loved it. I`ll be rolling it over and over and over again.

GRANHOLM: All right.

SHARPTON: Joining me now from lower Manhattan near Wall Street is Harrison
Schultz, one of the organizers of the Occupy Wall Street.

Harrison, thank you for coming on the show.

HARRISON SCHULTZ, "OCCUPY WALL STREET" ORGANIZER: Thank you for having me,
Reverend. Happy Birthday.

SHARPTON: Thank you.

Tell us a little about the movement that`s going on in Wall Street.

SCHULTZ: The movement down here is incredibly exciting. It`s incredibly
exhilarating. And honestly, in my opinion as a professional sociologist, I
think that this is the beginning of a revolution in this country.

SHARPTON: A revolution going toward what? What are the goals?

I`ve seen an excitement. I really love the way that there`s been
discipline and nonviolence, except on the other side. But what are the
goals? When you say a revolution, where are you taking this?

SCHULTZ: The fact that we don`t have a coherent set of goals is what the
media has been blasting us the most for, but the fact of the matter is that
the problems in this country, that this country is going through, are very
complicated. And so the discussion that we`re having isn`t simple, it`s a
very complicated discussion as well.

Democracy takes time. And the conversations that we`re having are the
conversations that leaders and politics and economics and in the media
should be having but really aren`t. So we have to do it ourselves.

SHARPTON: So, really, you`re showing the discontent and trying to force
the conversation to have a realistic dialogue about what ought to be the
real priorities and the real solutions in this country.

SCHULTZ: Yes. The best way to look at "Occupy Wall Street," in my
opinion, is to think of it as a conversation, a big conversation that needs
to be had, that the media and our leaders just aren`t having. And we`re
getting into trouble for having these conversations with the NYPD.

SHARPTON: Now, I notice you have people from all walks of life, all racial
backgrounds. But do all of the elements there that are involved from
different parts of society, do they all want the same thing? Do they want
different things? It`s about having a conversation so everyone can discuss
what it is they want?

SCHULTZ: The thing that we all want, the thing that we all agree on, in my
opinion -- and I can only speak from my perspective --

SHARPTON: Yes, I understand.

SCHULTZ: -- is we`re all here for change. We all want something
different. We all want something better.

As far as the specifics, as far as how we go about doing that, we don`t
know yet. Part of the problem -- I think part of the issue is that a lot
of the people that are here are in fact anarchists, are in fact
revolutionaries. And putting a revolution, putting a revolutionary change
into political terms, is very difficult to do, because we`re trying to get
away from all of the problems.

Again, we don`t really want to fix them. It`s revolution, not reform.

SHARPTON: Harrison Schultz of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement.

Thanks for coming on the show tonight. And we`ll be seeing you.

Let me say this to a lot of people that have watched this. It`s easy to
dismiss movements. It`s easy to say, I don`t understand the purpose, I
don`t understand the point.

The point is, there`s a lot of discontent. Even if people don`t know, as
he says, what their formula is to make things right, they do know things
are wrong.

There is something wrong when we see rampant unemployment, yet we want to
protect tax loopholes for the rich, when we see people being put off of
rolls that are children, when we see poverty higher than it`s been. There
are those that will respond in different ways.

We`re marching in Washington on October 15th. They are all over the
country with "Occupy Wall Street." Labor is moving.

The real point is that change must come. And the only thing that is clear
is sitting down, doing nothing has gotten us where we are. We cannot have,
as Martin Luther King said, the paralysis of analysis. We must move.

Ahead, Chris Christie`s decision could be any day now. But the skeletons
are already flying out of the closet.

And Rick Perry`s race controversy. An explosive report on a camp he leased
could spell more trouble.

And why the coordinated effort by the right to suppress the vote is more
widespread than anyone could have imagined.

You`re watching POLITICS NATION on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Rick Perry`s campaign has hit a rock, as in rock bottom. An
explosive "Washington Post" report claims Perry leased a west Texas hunting
camp with the N-word in its name.

According to the report, the offensive name was painted on a rock on the
property for decades. Perry`s camp quickly responded, saying, "Perry`s
father painted over offensive language on a rock soon after leasing the
1,000-acre parcel in the early 1980s."

Regardless of what was painted on the rock, we`ve learned the name may have
been well known in that area. "The New York Times" caught up with Perry`s
old scout master`s son who says the hunting camp had always been known by
that name. "It`s just what it was called from day one. I personally am
not offended by the name, and I don`t like that word. That`s just what
people call it."

Meanwhile, we still haven`t heard any response from Perry himself on this
issue. It would seem to me that one is not trying to say Mr. Perry is or
is not a racist. It`s whether he would tolerate racial language and
whether he would tolerate the use of direct offensive language if he`s
running for the president of the United States. And it would seem to me he
would have showed up today and at least explained himself.

Talking through spokesmen either means, one, you can`t explain yourself, or
you may have something that`s unexplainable that we haven`t heard yet.

What is it, Governor Perry? Inquiring minds want to know.

Joining me now, Nia Malika Henderson, political reporter for "The
Washington Post," and Alex Wagner, an MSNBC analyst.

Thank you both for joining me tonight.

Let me start with you, Alex.

I heard the story yesterday. My immediate reaction, of course, was I was
offended by this place being called that. Then they start digging into the
weeds when it was called and all, but nobody has denied it was called that.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC ANALYST: Yes.

SHARPTON: Nobody has denied that the rock was there that named it. And no
one has said affirmatively that Rick Perry never saw it and what he said
about it. There is all a sort of decoy around the edges.

WAGNER: Yes.

SHARPTON: So I just knew Rick Perry, you know, the swinging cowboy who
shoots at everything, was coming out guns blazing today. Nothing.

WAGNER: Yes. I think it`s really called -- I mean, there`s been a
narrative thus far about, is Rick Perry ready for prime time? And this I
think really furthers that line of questioning.

We are talking about the office of the president of the United States here.
There are 40 million African-Americans in this country. They make up 13
percent of the population.

It seems like Perry doesn`t have a sense or a grasp of what that word
means. And I think at this time, almost more so than any time in history,
we really need not only a leader, but someone who can unite the country.
And he just seems to be completely absent from the conversation.

SHARPTON: Now, Nia, Herman Cain, on ABC yesterday, he had this response
himself --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That is very insensitive. And
since Governor Perry has been going there for years to hunt, I think it
shows a lack of sensitivity for a long time of not taking that word off of
that rock and renaming the place. It`s just a basic case of insensitivity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, if you`ve got everybody from Herman Cain to Al Sharpton
calling it insensitive, that doesn`t give you a whole lot of room, Nia.

NIA MALIKA HENDERSON, POLITICAL REPORTER, "WASHINGTON POST": Yes. And you
heard Michael Steele come out today and basically say that, and ask a
question that is on a lot of people`s minds also, which is, why didn`t he
have the rock removed? I mean, there is one thing to sort of paint over
it, but why not, you know, just move it off the property?

I think one of the things that this raises is, the underlying question
about this story is, what did Rick Perry do when faced with intolerance?
And according to the story, he sort of painted it over rather than really
confronting it, moving that rock away. And I think that`s what the
troubling issue is for a lot of people, not this whole idea of whether or
not he`s a racist.

You have African-Americans in Texas coming out and saying that they don`t
think he is a racist. And, in fact, the Rick Perry campaign, their sort of
offense on this story is in one way to sort of try to poke holes in the
reporting. And, of course, "The Washington Post" stands by the reporter
and the reporting in this story.

But now they`re saying that Rick Perry (AUDIO GAP) record in terms of
hiring African-Americans over the course of his 10-year tenure. He hired
about nine percent African-Americans out of the 5,000 or so people he put
in positions.

SHARPTON: Did he see the rock and did he do anything about the rock? No
one is saying he didn`t have a record with blacks. No one is saying that
he was a racist.

The question is, did he, in facing something that is as biased as this,
just allow it? You can tolerate stuff without saying that that`s your
feelings. But if you tolerate it, then should you be leading the state,
let alone the country?

That`s the issue, Alex.

WAGNER: And especially given the history of race in the South in
particular, and on the heels of Haley Barbour and his comments. This is a
time when Rick Perry should really, I think, be pivoting and sort of coming
out saying this is what I think, this is what I know.

Given his history, given his background, he has an incredible biography,
and he can speak to hardship. And this is a time to put that all in
context. And yet, he has seemingly punted to having his spokespeople go
through the tick-tock of when the rock was painted and when it was moved
and so forth, which, as you said, is (INAUDIBLE) the main issue, which is,
what is going on here with racism and intolerance in this country, in this
society, and in that part of the country?

SHARPTON: Well, we saw, Nia, George Allen, in his race with the line that
was derogatory when he used the term -- well, let me show you him using the
term and what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. GEORGE ALLEN (R), VIRGINIA: So welcome. Let`s give a welcome to
Macaca here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, this is a 2006 race, Senate. He used the term, said he
didn`t know what the term meant. Then find out that he comes from a
background where it is likely they did, and he ended up having -- that kind
of sunk his race that time.

I mean, come on. We`re not raising questions on Perry that hasn`t been
raised before. And I think that the insult that is being added to the
injury here is he won`t even come forward himself and say anything.

HENDERSON: Right, that`s true. And I think, you know, all eyes are on
this debate that`s coming up next Tuesday that "The Washington Post" is
sponsoring. It`ll certainly come up there.

I mean, maybe it won`t come up directly from the questioners, because it is
a debate about the economy. But you wonder if one of those folks on stage
will bring it up.

One of the things that I thought of in reading this story is not only this
incident that you raise with George Allen, but with Mitt Romney himself.
He faced questions when he ran before about his affiliation with the Mormon
Church.

SHARPTON: Right.

HENDERSON: And of course we know that the Mormon Church, until 1978,
denied blacks the priesthood and being able to go to temple ceremonies,
because there was an idea on the part of their doctrine that they were
inferior.

SHARPTON: Well, see, that`s where I`m saying there is a double standard,
Alex, because we questioned Romney because of the history of the church he
was a member of --

WAGNER: Sure.

SHARPTON: -- which he dealt with. We questioned the "Macaca" statement.
They questioned President Obama -- then Senator Obama -- about a church he
was a member of about sermons they didn`t know whether he heard or not.

There was no sign on the door of the church that was offensive, there was
no rock as you go in. Here is a rock on property that you lease that is
the sign entering it.

WAGNER: Right.

SHARPTON: And people are acting like we`re picking on Perry? We`re not
talking about a conversation a preacher may have had in the lodge that he
may or may not have been there. This is where he is leasing and this is
the sign.

WAGNER: And, fundamentally, acceptance by the community that this is just
the way it is, so we`re OK with it. Rick Perry was privy to that, he was
part of that community. He leased a house there. You know, he brought
people there.

Explain -- he needs to explain his role and his understanding of why that`s
accepted, what the dynamics there were. I mean, I think that this is a
moment where he needs to come out and address this thing.

SHARPTON: Stand up, Governor Perry. Address the issue.

If you go -- imagine making this man president. If he can`t explain a rock
in the driveway of his ranch, of his hunting lodge, imagine if he had to
deal with a world crisis. Is this the man you want to have to deal with
that?

I`m waiting, Governor Perry. I`m still waiting.

Nia Malika and Alex, thank you for your time.

WAGNER: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: I`m still waiting.

HENDERSON: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, Michele Bachmann. Ms. Bachmann`s meat locker press
conference just got a whole lot more interesting. What was she missing to
be there?

And Chris Christie has some explaining to do, why his past might come back
to haunt him.

You`re watching POLITICS NATION on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

AL SHARPTON, HOST, MSNBC LIVE: Michele Bachmann wants to run the
country but maybe she should first do the job she has in Congress. "Roll
Call" reports Bachmann`s attendance has been spotty since she began her
presidential campaign in June. The congresswoman has missed 150 votes in
that time including missing every vote in September. Sixty votes. And
while candidate Ron Paul has made 84 percent of votes since he first began
his run for president, Bachmann has only made 54 percent. Only three
representatives voted less than Bachmann this summer. Speaker Boehner,
Arizona`s Gabrielle Giffords and Maurice Hinchey of New York have all cast
fewer votes than Bachmann.

But speakers don`t typically vote. Giffords of course is recovering
from a gunman`s attack and Hinchey had surgery. Bachmann`s spokeswoman
told a Minnesota radio station that Bachmann serves many Americans by
criticizing the president`s policy. For instance, on a day Bachmann toured
this Iowa meat packing plant last month, she missed three house votes. One
to fund veterans health care centers. One required states to report on
prisoner deaths. And another made rules for the U.S. parole commission.
They`re more important than getting your picture taken next to a slab of
meat, congresswoman. Did you think no one would notice that while you`re
campaigning, your stick constituents lose their voice in Washington? Nice
try, congresswoman. But we got you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back to the show. Chris Christie`s big decision
could come any day now. Various reports say, Thursday is the big day. NBC
News has not confirmed this but sources tell Politico, it could come down
to him and his wife. Whatever he does the Christie effect is already in
progress. Big money donors are waiting on the sidelines. And he sucked up
all the oxygen in the room. But can a guy who supports civil unions,
believes in global warming, and once says it`s not a crime to be in the
United States illegally really win over the Tea Party fueled Republican
Party?

And he`ll have to answer some big time baggage. A scandal he`s
dogged for years and which he was quote, "accused of crony capitalism, big
spending, and using the government title to get himself out of legal
trouble."

Joining me now is Richard Wolffe, an MSNBC political analyst and Erin
McPike, national political reporter for "Real Clear Politics." Richard,
how big an impact is Christie having on the race?

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, happy
birthday, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Thank you, Richard.

WOLFFE: How big an impact is he having? What we`re seeing in this
republican race is a sort of wandering eye of the party. The more they
look for someone better than the current crop, the worse it gets for the
guy left standing at the altar who is in this case Mitt Romney really.
That`s what this whole search is about. We`ve seen people rise up, get a
lot of hype, and then fall back down again. Remember, four years ago there
was a guy who was also a former prosecutor. Everyone thought he was great
because he could win in democratic states. He was supposed to have become
conservative. His name you may know is Rudolph Giuliani.

SHARPTON: I`ve heard of him.

WOLFFE: And he did not fare well. So Chris Christie, the idea of
him may well be better for this party than the reality.

SHARPTON: Now, Erin, it seems that there is a problem in the
republican lineup from some of our perspective. You have the real problems
now with Rick Perry, his debate performance now, he`s involved in a race
flat. You`ve got Mitt Romney. Let me show you an excerpt from an article
in this morning`s "New York Times" which might give him a problem with some
conservatives because it seems as though that where Romney is now this big,
let`s deal with taxes and dealing with workers one way, according to this
article in the "New York Times" this morning, quote, just a few months
after Mr. Romney took office in 2003, what he delivered seemed anything but
friendly to the CEO crowd. A bill to financial firms for what they saw as
a $110 million in new corporate taxes and a promise of more to come. This
plays into this flip flop image of Romney as governor did one thing.
Romney as candidate for president saying something else. I mean, it seems
like the Republicans doesn`t have a strong cast of candidates right now.


ERIN MCPIKE, "REAL CLEAR POLITICS": Well, as far as Romney is
concerned, and let me add happy birthday as well.

SHARPTON: Thank you, Erin.

MCPIKE: You`re welcome. But as far as Romney goes, with his
gubernatorial record, it`s not something that he talks about at all. In
fact, he likes to play up his own business credentials. But what you`re
referring to with raising those corporate taxes in Massachusetts, what he
actually did in doing that was he brought a deficit in the state of
Massachusetts to a surplus by the end of his term as governor. That is
actually a pretty good credential for him to be talking about but he
doesn`t do it and he doesn`t do it because he did raise taxes. So yes. He
has a little bit of an issue there.

SHARPTON: Well, he may not do it because it`s hard to do that and
bring the deficit to a surplus and then say but let`s not do that
nationally. It`s hard to say that President Obama shouldn`t close
corporate loopholes to deal with the deficit but I did it in Massachusetts.
Richard, it might be even for the pretzel like campaigning of twisting and
turning of Mitt Romney a little hard to sell that.

WOLFFE: Well, hard to sell for Romney but harder this time generally
because what voters say time and time again is they don`t like politicians.
They don`t like the off authentic. Remember way back when when people
thought everything Barack Obama said was authentic and sincere? Looked
like he was trying to answer the question? Well, we are in the situation
where even more so people don`t like current politicians. They don`t like
the slippery notes, the changing of positions. That is why the idea of
Chris Christie, not the reality but the idea of Chris Christie is so
appealing to conservatives right now. So, yes there is a flip-flopping
residue but also in this time it would be hard any time but in this time it
really doesn`t work for voters across the spectrum.

SHARPTON: Well, let me see if I can poke a little hole in that and
blow a little air out, Erin because I wouldn`t want you to just think I was
against my friend Willard. But Mr. Christie has some issues that he is
wavering on that conservatives may question him on if he jumps in the race.
He is wavering on abortion, immigration, gun rights, judiciary power. I
mean, we`ve heard Christie on both sides of these issues that he is going
to have to deal with some flip-flopping too. And that doesn`t come off
authentic as defined by brother Richard over there.

MCPIKE: Well, I think the biggest one that you mentioned is abortion.
Because really, he has the same problem that Mitt Romney does. I believe
it was 1993 when Chris Christie said he was pro-choice and he has since
switched that. That`s about the same time that Mitt Romney had that issue
too in his 1994 Senate race against Ted Kennedy. He was pro-choice at the
time. And he has since slept. So, yes, and I agree with Richard. I think
once Chris Christie comes under scrutiny if he does run which I don`t think
that he is going to, if he does, though, he is going to face these same
issues. Right now, people like him because yes he is a blank slate in some
respects but also because he`s on the right side of the issue of the day
for the Tea Party and that is spending. And he`s all about cutting
spending and he stood up to the teachers unions and conservatives love his
style. But right now that`s what it is. It`s mostly style. And they`re
looking for someone with style.

SHARPTON: But can`t style last all the way through the primaries,
Richard? As you said, Rudy Giuliani was the same kind of in your face,
kind of go get your no nonsense guy and he melted in the primaries. Can
style alone bring Christie through these and other very serious questions
that he would have to answer once he says, amen, then they go we`re at you?

WOLFFE: No. I think style is going to work for him running for VP.
OK, this is a guy who he is pretty good at punching other people on the
nose rhetorically and, you know, that is the role of a VP candidate. And
so, maybe that`s what this is all about. I have no insight into his
thinking. So, that is just a bit of supposition. But think about where
those states are that you`ve really got to seal this race -- Iowa, South
Carolina which is going to be pivotal. Once the other candidates are in
competition with him on who is the true Christian conservative here, he is
going to be fried in those places. So, I don`t see this working in reality
but if he is running for that second spot on the ticket, maybe this works.

SHARPTON: Now, let me ask this question. Erin, how much damage has
Rick Perry suffered over the weekend with this flap about his ranch and him
not coming forward to deal with this directly? Let`s not even deal with
just the allegation which clearly disturbs me and may not disturb others as
much. But the fact that he can`t even come forward himself and deal with
this head on, don`t you think this hurts him?

MCPIKE: For now, it certainly does. I don`t think that we yet are
able to tell how much damage it is going to do. Because we haven`t heard
from him directly yet. And that will be a pivotal moment for his campaign
if he does come out and say something in person. He gave those written
statements to "The Washington Post" and then his communications director
put out another written statement. I think right now they are probably are
doing a little bit of damage control to see what they need to do. But we
don`t know a lot of what else happened. I mean, you brought up George
Allen in his 2006 Senate race earlier. Ryan Lizza, when he was working for
The New Yorker`s -- for The New Republic, there was a big story about
George Allen`s past and there were a lot of other allegations in that that
were bad for George Allen. We don`t know if Rick Perry has the same thing
in his background yet. So, it`s too early to tell. But how he deals with
it in person will say a lot about his candidacy going forward.

SHARPTON: Well, I think that we will be watching. I`m watching my
clock. Richard Wolffe and Erin McPike, thank both of you for joining me
tonight.

Coming up, billionaire Koch Brothers. Bank world Tea Party groups and
push conservative causes. But you won`t believe who else they have been
working with. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The billionaire Koch Brothers are under fire. An
investigation by Bloomberg finds troubling information about the Koch
conglomerate. A foreign subsidiary sold millions of dollars of petro
chemical equipment to Iran. American companies can`t legally do business
with Iran because we declared them a threat to National Security. But
according to Bloomberg, the Koch Brothers were able to dodge that no trade
rule. Today, Koch responded to the allegations denying any wrongdoing.
Koch industries General Counsel Mark Holden told "The Washington Post" the
company, quote, "Over a nine or ten-year period had sales of oil refining
processed equipment that had no military weapons or nuclear application
whatsoever. At the time this was legal. And he went on to say, many U.S.
companies did the exact same thing. They`re right. GE which owns 49
percent of this network, Exxon Mobil, Hewlett-Packard, and Caterpillar are
among those companies that did business with Iran in those years.

Joining me now is Justin Elliott, reporter for Salon.com. Justin has
been following the Koch Brothers story closely. Justin, thank you for
joining me tonight.

JUSTIN ELLIOTT, REPORTER, SALON.COM: Thank you.

SHARPTON: It is true that other companies have dealt with Iran during
this time but isn`t this a political problem since the Koch Brothers have
been the ones that have been driving and financing the conservative
movement and has practiced a more direct, extreme politics than the other
companies that have been doing business with Iran?

ELLIOTT: Right. And I think it`s interesting and also news worthy
for a couple reasons. First of all, as you say, as you, as to make you all
know, the Kochs have been involved in seating the Tea Party, fines in the
Tea Party getting millions of dollars republican politicians in order to
promote less regulation. And so, I think what the Bloomberg story shows
including the episode that they`re dealings with Iran is that they`re sort
of anti-regulation ideology has spilled over into how they run their
business, which Koch industries, it`s one of the world`s largest, privately
held companies. A lot of people don`t know very much about it. So, I
think this story did a good job sort of shining the light on Koch
industry`s business.

SHARPTON: Well, I think that becomes the point of not bringing this
story up because if you look at what Charles Koch, let me show you a quote
from Charles Koch, himself, that deals with something you said. He says,
quote, "We were caught unprepared by the rapid increase in regulation,
while business was becoming increasingly regulated, we`ve kept thinking and
acting as if we lived in a pure market economy." So that regulation word
is a little problem for the pure Koch Brothers.

ELLIOTT: Right. I mean, I think the Bloomberg story establishes
these sales to Iran which we should say were technically legal because Koch
industries sold these, I believe it`s petro chemical equipment to Iran
through a foreign subsidiary. So, essentially I would say violating the
spirit of the law but not actually the letter of the law. Because into it,
they were careful to separate it from their American business. However,
the Bloomberg story really establishes that this was a pattern of flattened
regulations, including environmental regulations in some cases violating
the law and other cases, circumventing regulations which again I think is a
sort of an interesting parallel to their political world here which they
have spent millions of dollars promoting through political donations.

SHARPTON: What about bribery? What is this I`m hearing about
bribery?

ELLIOTT: Yes. The main case of bribery involved a French subsidiary
of Koch industries, which the company actually I believe acknowledged in a
letter to a French court a few years ago did violate criminal law by paying
bribes to various foreign governments and foreign companies or to win
contracts.

SHARPTON: So a subsidiary of Koch admitted to bribery.

ELLIOTT: The company itself according to a letter I believe was first
reported in this Bloomberg market magazine story, the company itself
acknowledged in a French court, to a French court in the letter that these
bribes that were paid to win contracts in various parts of the world
violated criminal law. So, I mean, I don`t think Koch is even disputing
that.

SHARPTON: So, we now, and again, we`re not talking about in the
overall beginning of the story. We`re not talking about them technically
violating the law. This is about an inconsistency and a probably ignoring
or at least not operating within the spirit of the law but the political
inconsistency because here are the people that are helping to finance the
Tea Party, pro-America, all of this, yet their business seems to be doing
something differently.

ELLIOTT: Right. And I also think it`s interesting the reception of
this story among conservatives has been pretty muted.

SHARPTON: Yes.

ELLIOTT: I mean, you would think conservatives are people, many of
whom are people who are most hawkish of Iran, want war with Iran. That
sort of thing.

(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)

SHARPTON: Well, I want to see how they want to talk about this and I
will give them a mic if they want to talk right here. Justin Elliott of
Salon.com, thank you for your time tonight.

ELLIOTT: Thank you.

SHARPTON: I`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back. My producers are telling me we have a
special guest, a mystery guest on the phone. Hello?

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (on the phone): Hey,
Reverend, this is Newt Gingrich. How are you?

SHARPTON: Newt Gingrich. Well, this is a surprise.

GINGRICH: Well, I figured I would be the least likely phone call
you`ll get tonight.

SHARPTON: You got that right. So, am I to believe that Newt
Gingrich, who is the polar opposite of me in politics called to wish me a
happy birthday?

GINGRICH: Absolutely. I had such a great time going around America
with you on behalf of children who deserve better schools and talking about
charter schools and trying to help pass, get local communities to
understand that taking care of children was the whole focus of schools,
that I will never forget it the rest of my life. You were tremendous on
those trips and while we may disagree about 99 things, on that one thing we
were so much on the same team that it really was remarkable. And I just
want to report that, you know, as a citizen I think you did a lot of good
for a lot of children on those trips.

SHARPTON: Well, let me say this, Newt. President Obama did ask you
and I to go with Education Secretary Duncan on that tour. We went. You
and I didn`t even agree what date of the week it was but we did raise the
issue of education and I think it was the right thing to do then, and I
think it`s the right thing to do now. I appreciate you calling me on my
birthday. I got one gift you can give me for my birthday.

GINGRICH: Yes?

SHARPTON: I want you to ask Governor Perry about a rock in front of
his hunting lodge. You know I had to give you one while I had you, Newt.
I wouldn`t let you get away without one. Just asking about the rock. Say
you did it for me.

GINGRICH: Listen, Herman Cain did a pretty good job on that without
me being in the middle of it yesterday. I won`t ask you to do anything to
the president. You can`t ask me to do anything to the Republicans. But I
will say this because I want everybody who is watching to know this. I was
in rooms where Newt Gingrich had no influence and people were mildly amazed
I was there.

SHARPTON: Well, you`re right. I have to go.

GINGRICH: I watched you speak up with courage and with toughness on
behalf of children in a way that all my life I will remember and I will
honor you.

SHARPTON: Thank you for that.

GINGRICH: For the degree to which you were willing to take on
interests in behalf of children.

SHARPTON: Well, thank you. And I appreciate you saying that. Thank
you all for watching. Thank you all for a nice birthday. But don`t go
anywhere because "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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