PoliticsNation, Friday, November 18, 2011
Read the transcript from the Friday show
Guests: Barney Frank, Michael Steele, Ed Rendell, Gwen Moore, Bob Shrum, Nia-Malika Henderson, Jose Antonio Vargas
AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST, POLITICSNATION: Newt-ron bombshell -- Newt
Gingrich reportedly collected millions from health care industries while
campaigning against money-saving reforms for everyday people. Our
hypocrisy meter is tingling.
Total recall -- 50,000 signatures so far in an effort to kick
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker out of office. Hay, governor, see what
happens when you push unpopular policies? Voters might just give you the
Romney mystery -- why did his Massachusetts statehouse staff erase
official e-mails? Did Governor Romney have something to hide?
POLITICSNATION starts right now.
Welcome to POLITICSNATION. I`m Al Sharpton. Tonight`s lead, the
secrets of Newt Gingrich. Just coming out, a bombshell report from "The
Washington Post" shows over the last eight years Gingrich`s think tank has
taken $37 million from the health care industry. According to "The Post",
health care companies paid millions for, quote, "access to Newt Gingrich
and direct Newt interaction."
And get this. At the same time he was making $37 million off the
industry, he was saying things like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To have a 21st century
intelligent health system our goal has to be for 100 percent of the country
to be in the insurance system, including, I think, a requirement that if
you are above a certain level of income you have to either have insurance
or post a bond.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: A requirement to buy health insurance. It sounds like a
mandate, just like the one in the Obama health care law.
But check out Newt now when the money is already in the bank and he`s
running for president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINGRICH: I am completely opposed to the Obamacare mandate on
I am opposed to a federal mandate. I am opposed to Obamacare.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: When it comes to the money, it looks like to me he loses
all his old inconvenient convictions. Remember, all this comes just days
after we learned Gingrich, the so-called historian, got $1.6 million from
Freddie Mac while blasting others like President Obama for taking
contributions from them.
Joining me now is Congressman Barney Frank, Democrat from
Massachusetts. He is the stop Democrat on the House financial services
committee. Mr. Chairman, thanks for joining me this evening.
REP. BARNEY FRANK, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: I`m glad to, Al.
SHARPTON: We keep learning more and more about Newt, but you know him
well. What do you have to say about this latest revelation?
FRANK: Well, he apparently is on a crusade to make Mitt Romney look
principled. That`s a hard thing to do. You know, Mitt`s people had to
erase all those computer tapes because they had records of his old
positions on them. And since he had abandoned all of them, I guess he
didn`t want the record around.
But what Gingrich does is just breathtaking. The fact we now know he
was receiving money from Freddie Mac up to the moment when it was put into
conservator ship. By the way, Gingrich is one of those Republicans trying
to blame the Democrats, myself, Senator Dodd and others, for the failure to
regulate, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He helps us make clear what a big
lie that is.
In fact, from 1995 when Gingrich first became speaker and stayed there
for four years, through 2006 when the Republicans controlled both houses of
Congress, no bill was passed to rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It
wasn`t until, frankly, the Democrats took over, myself and Chris Dodd in
2007 and we worked with the Bush secretary of the treasury, a very honest
man named Hank Paulson, and we put the legislation into place. Paulson
then used that legislation in September of 2008, legislation he got from
SHARPTON: So you`re saying when Newt Gingrich was the speaker,
despite the fact that he has attacked you and others and said that you guys
should be gone after, when he was a speaker and had the gavel, he did
nothing about this?
FRANK: Absolutely not. He did nothing in `95, `96, `97, `98. And
then in the eight years after that when he was a major historian for
Freddie Mac, getting a lot of money, and the Congress and the House was
being run by people who were his allies or succeeded him, Hastert and
DeLay, they also did nothing.
So apparently the theory -- and I`m very regretful, because apparently
I did not realize this. I had some influence over Newt Gingrich and Tom
DeLay that I didn`t know I had, because they say it`s my fault they didn`t
pass legislation from 1995 to 2006 to regulate Freddie Mac.
So I wish I knew I had the influence, by I want to be honest. I
wouldn`t have used it primarily on Freddie Mac. I would have used it to
stop the impeachment of Bill Clinton. I would have used it to stay out of
the war in Iraq, and a year ago I would have told Tom Delay not to go on
the dance show.
SHARPTON: Well, I think that at least two of the three would have
helped the country. I don`t think it matters whether Tom DeLay showed he
But let me ask you this -- we`re not talking about money here, we`re
talking about the ultimate in hypocrisy. And when you look at this, where
this candidate right now, Newt Gingrich, who you know well, who I have
known in the education reform battle, is now leading in the polls. Look at
this last GOP poll according to FOX. He`s at 23 percent. Romney behind
him at 22, Cain down to 15. But yet here`s a guy who makes flip-flopping
look like a mild word if we just take the last two days.
FRANK: I think there is a difference between Romney and Gingrich.
Romney switches positions on fundamental issues for political convenience.
But Gingrich is more attached to his principles. You have to pay him to
get him to flip. Romney can be persuaded to switch if it`s a few
percentage points in the polls. But Gingrich, he requires serious money
before he does a complete reversal.
What`s interesting, though, is the lack of affection for Mitt Romney.
You know, Romney started out in first, but he can`t get above the low 20s.
At first it was going to be Michele Bachmann, then it was going to be Rick
Perry, then it was going to be Herman Cain, now it`s going to be Newt
Al, you remember this, when Joe Louis was so dominant in the boxing
era and they couldn`t find people that could stand up to him, they just
began showing up anybody to try to fight Joe Louis, and they called it the
"Bum of the Month Club." The difference was Joe always used to knock them
out. For Mitt Romney`s bum of the month club, they keep knocking
SHARPTON: Chairman Barney Frank, thank you. Have a great weekend.
FRANK: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Joining me now is Ed Rendell, former DNC chairman and
current NBC news political analyst, and Michael Steele, former RNC chairman
and now MSNBC news analyst. Thank you both for being here tonight.
ED RENDELL, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: Good evening, Al.
MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: Good to be with you, Al.
SHARPTON: Governor, let me start with you. Politicians can make
money when not in office. There`s nothing wrong with that. But shifting
policies is not so acceptable, am I right?
RENDELL: It`s absolutely right. I`ve been out of office since
January. I work for a law firm. I consult for a number of companies. But
I`ve made it clear that I won`t take a position and won`t advocate for
something I didn`t believe in while I was governor in my public career.
And I think that`s what all politicians should do. You can`t be hired
guns. You can`t start getting out there and talking about things that are
antithetical to what you tried to do when you were in office.
SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you, Chairman Steele, we`ve seen in the
Iowa poll we Cain, Paul, Romney, Gingrich all kind of ganged up together.
SHARPTON: Does this revelation yesterday about Freddie Mac and today
about the health care industry, does this bring Gingrich`s week or three or
four days as a resurged contender to an end? I mean, will we see him
deflated like we did Mr. Cain last week?
STEELE: I don`t think so for a number of reasons. One, I think a lot
of the information is being put out there about Newt has been baked into
the numbers. In other words, people know him, they know his history, what
I don`t know the specifics of what advice Newt Gingrich gave Freddie
or to the health care. I know what he`s done with his institutions that
he`s created, which has been pretty consistent with his message as leader
of the House and certainly in his private life.
But I think a lot of that, Al, has already been baked in. That`s why
the numbers are where they are. I think when you look at the Herman Cain
numbers in the slide there, that has more to do with that real kind of
personal side of sexual harassment and, you know, having another individual
so directly impacted that`s beyond political.
SHARPTON: So it`s probably difficult to have a debate on who flip-
flops the most between Romney and Newt.
STEELE: I know you would love to have that debate. But I listen to
Barney Frank, and he seems to have forgotten that in 1996 Republicans lost
the House and the Democrats were in control until about 2002 or so. And so
I understand the lapse of memory when it comes to trying to make a point,
but you can`t sandwich away or put to the side that both parties have had
their fingers all over this health care issue and Freddie/Fannie issue, and
now everyone is trying to sort it out. I think a number of folks will find
themselves getting caught. That`s not to excuse it, but I`m saying that`s
part of the political reality.
SHARPTON: And both parties will make their points, but I don`t know
if it`s a good week for Republicans to start talking about memory loss with
Rick Perry around, but I`ll give you a pass on that tonight.
Let me go to another issue here. "The Boston Globe" talks about how
found that no other administration, talking about Mitt Romney here, had
sold computers to employees. Stephen P. Crosby, who worked in the
administration offices of Romney, two predecessors told "The Globe" today
"It certainly wasn`t standard operating procedure anyway. It seems
inherently a bad idea."
You were a governor. Have you -- can you tell me, Governor Rendell,
why would someone want to erase the hard drive of their staff? No
preceding governor did it. Other than to make sure there`s no record that
could really attach you to a flip-flop, what would be the point?
RENDELL: It`s inconceivable, something that is really unheard of.
There are occasions when governments, both municipals and states will allow
them to buy desks for sentimental reason, but I`ve never heard of this with
But Al, I`d like to say one thing. First of all, Michael, on his last
response deserves "A" for effort, but what I think is harder to explain is
how Newt Gingrich when he was getting paid $37 million from the health care
industry could say he was absolutely for 100 percent of people being
mandated to carry insurance or pay to a fine, and then when he`s a
candidates say he`s against a mandate. It`s absolutely wrong, and that`s
where money is pernicious in influencing people`s views.
If it was good enough when you were getting paid for everyone to be
signed up with an insurance company, what`s the difference now? I think
he`s got some explaining to do.
SHARPTON: Michael, if you could respond.
STEELE: On two points. I know when I was in office as lieutenant
governor that various departments from time to time would, if they were
getting rid of old equipment would sell that older equipment to their -- to
the staff. So it`s not unheard of that computers could be sold to
employees at auction or in some other capacity, particularly if the
department or the agency was getting new computers. What you do with the
extra computers? You make a little money off of them, you get a resell
value, and you move on. So I don`t know if there`s some grand conspiracy
here trying to hide something. It is not unusual for state and local
governments to do that with excess, you know --
SHARPTON: Michael, before you go there, because I want you to get
back to Newt Gingrich to answer that direct point. I know you went to the
other one first so you would give yourself time to think of a Newt Gingrich
SHARPTON: I`m going to let you come with that because we gave you a
But on that particular point, let me show you this. A long-standing
directive for the Massachusetts governor`s office from 1985 to 2008, Terry
Dolan said it was clear that Romney staff only wanted their computers` hard
drives. We`re not talking about computers or selling computers. They
wanted the hard drives, according to the director of administration. Not
the keyboard, monitor, or anything else.
STEELE: That`s fine. I don`t know that there`s evidence that it was
clear that`s what they wanted other than folks saying give me the hard
drive. So what? What`s your point?
SHARPTON: My point is when you were the chairman of the RNC and was
leaving, your staff didn`t say we need to get the hard drives out of here.
STEELE: No, I just took off the hard dive what I wanted on to a disk,
so I didn`t need the hard drive then.
SHARPTON: Because maybe you didn`t have positions you were going to
take. But get back to Newt. I was waiting with bated breath for you to
explain how he made his 180-degree turn on mandates.
STEELE: I think on a number of fronts, if I understand where Newt has
come from on the mandate, it`s been more on a state-to-state basis, not at
the federal level. I know a lot of Republicans have a problem with the
federal government mandating that. I don`t know the specifics of what he`s
SHARPTON: Michael, I`m trying to interpret this --
STEELE: It`s not different. There`s a difference between a federal
mandate and state mandate.
SHARPTON: When he was representing the health industry he was for
state by state mandates, but when he becomes president he`s against
SHARPTON: Believe it or not, the insurance companies are much more
concerned about what state governments do than the federal government does
with respect to their insurance programs and policies. Trust me.
SHARPTON: Governor Rendell, you can give him an "A" for effort on
RENDELL: I`ll give him an "A-minus." He`s working with no facts and
he`s doing a good -- he should have been a great trial lawyer.
STEELE: I`m working with the same facts you guys are working with,
and you`re jumping to conclusions.
SHARPTON: We`re raising questions. Don`t get sensitive, Michael.
We`re raising questions.
STEELE: No, no, you`re raising allegations, you`re not raising
SHARPTON: We want to know why do you erase hard drives?
STEELE: Oh, lord.
SHARPTON: We don`t have the right to ask a question?
STEELE: No, you can ask the questions.
SHARPTON: I could have asked you about Libya and Cain. I was trying
to give you a nice weekend.
SHARPTON: Ed Rendell and Michael Steele --
RENDELL: Two responses -- a mandate by any other name is still a
mandate, number one. And number two, Newt Gingrich gymnastics makes Mary
Lou Retton look like a minor leaguer.
STEELE: That`s why I love you, man.
SHARPTON: You got to love it, because, let`s face it, your team gives
you a hard hand to deal with, Michael. You have a nice weekend, the both
of you. Thank you for coming on the show.
STEELE: Thank you, Al.
RENDELL: Thanks, Al.
SHARPTON: Ahead, President Obama`s approval is surging as he ramps up
the fight for the middle class. And something Republicans did today will
add more fuel to that fight.
Plus, fighting for his political life -- our first look at the wave of
action against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. It`s not good for him.
And the fight for civil rights is going on right now in America. The
harshest immigration law in the world is creating chaos in Alabama. We ask
for justice. You`re watching POLITICSNATION on MSNBC.
SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICSNATION. The progressive movement
and fight for fairness is on fire in America. And the message is working -
- do unpopular things and become you unpopular.
In Wisconsin we`re getting or first look at where Governor Walker`s
recall stands. Mr. Walker, you are in trouble. United Wisconsin, the
group leading the recall effort, says just two days into the 60-day recall
window they collected more than 50,000 signatures. To put this in
perspective, their goal was to collect 9,000 signatures a day. They more
than quadrupled that so far.
Meanwhile, the latest poll, Mr. Walker, shows a whopping 58 percent of
the voters want you out. And 24 percent of Republicans want him recalled.
It seems like the only person wondering what all the fuss is about is Scott
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SCOTT WALKER, (R) WISCONSIN: I think most people across America
are scratching their heads on the recall to begin with, because most states
have recalled and say misconduct in office some sort of thing like that
that triggers it, not just that I agree or disagree with a piece of
I say if you ask your neighbor on either side, they`d say what we
asked from public employees is pretty reasonable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Sorry, Scott, you`re own neighbors disagree. They`re
hosting their own petition drives in their own yards.
You and others like you don`t get it. You told the people one thing,
you got elected, and you went extremely the other way. That`s why they
have things called recall. If I call you and think I`m bet one thing, you
answer and I get another, I hit the "recall" button. And that`s what
they`re doing in Wisconsin, Mr. Walker.
Joining me now, Congresswoman Gwen Moore, Democrat from Wisconsin.
She has the distinction of having triumphed over Governor Walker in his
first public try for public office back in 1990 when he ran for her
Wisconsin state assembly seat. Congresswoman, what are you hearing back in
your district with the recall? I understand there`s yard signs, there`s
enthusiasm, there`s momentum. What`s going on on the ground in Wisconsin?
REP. GWEN MOORE, (D) WISCONSIN: Thank you, Reverend Sharpton. I
certainly drove through Governor Walker`s neighborhood, and I was stunned
to see recall yard signs any very neighborhood from where he hails.
Certainly there`s going to be a rally tomorrow in Madison to recall the
governor. And there`s plenty of calls of the 58 percent of Wisconsinites
to recall him.
There is barely a family in Milwaukee besides union families that are
not affected and adversely impacted by his policies. He`s taken $1.8
billion away from every kindergarten student, college technical student,
university student, $1 billion worth of medical assistance. There are
disabled folk on waiting lists because of the policies he`s trying to
implement, trying to get a waiver here on providing medical care for some
of our most frail and elderly and disabled in our communities. He`s turned
down $1 billion in economic development for our communities, including the
$800 million for the rail and so --
SHARPTON: And this is costing jobs and income to people. I
understand you have even lost 9,300 private sector jobs just this month.
MOORE: Absolutely. And not only that, we are going to suffer job
loss in perpetuity because of some of the decisions he`s made. He has
certainly been an enemy to clean water in our state, as he tries to destroy
environmental laws. So people are pretty ticked off with Scott Walker.
SHARPTON: Now, for people around the country, just to remind you,
this is the Scott Walker that when he came in he went after collective
bargaining, went after labor. Some of the state senators had to lead the
state and try to stop the vote. He maneuvered and got it through anyway.
He was also caught in a bogus phone call, figured he was talking to the
Koch brothers. Well, that has come up now in this recall campaign. Let me
play for you where Wisconsin Dems are invoking the Koch brothers in their
latest ad in support of the Walker recall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These billionaires have been buying up the
governors to make sure they never have to pay taxes again. And they`re
doing everything they can to crush the bottom.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wisconsin`s best days are yet to come.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Congresswoman, when Scott Walker came in and did this
extreme push and went after labor, went after collective bargaining, became
a willing ally of the Koch brothers, it sent a national message.
MOORE: Oh, absolutely.
SHARPTON: If you are successful. If the recall is successful, it
will send a chilling national message back.
MOORE: Absolutely, Reverend Sharpton. I mean, to crush the bottom,
Scott Walker has had a long history of trying to abide by Grover Norquist`s
adage that we ought to shrink government and disable it from helping
anybody in our state. This is the plot he wants to impose on once a very
progressive state, Wisconsin.
I think it`s important for people to remember that Wisconsin, along
with Illinois, is the state that won the eight-hour workday for American
workers. There was blood shed in this state. I want people to remember
that Wisconsin is the state that came up with the idea of civil service.
Wisconsin is the home of the very first unions in our country.
And we are badgers -- that`s our state animal. The badgers are
scrappy, fighting things.
I just want to point one other thing before you head out, reverend,
you had Michael Steele on earlier and he talked about the Democrats having
been in charge for 12 years from 1994 to 2006. That`s not true. We did
not -- nothing was done to stop Fannie and Freddie from defaulting during
those years that they were in charge, and in fact, when we took over in
2006. I`m on the financial services committee. We put Fannie and Freddie
SHARPTON: I thank you for correcting that and for the history of
Wisconsin. And I`ll tell you, people will remember that history if Scott
Walker is recalled. It will bring back to everyone the progressive history
of the state of Wisconsin, and it will have a real national impact.
Congresswoman Gwen Moore, the one that beat Scott Walker the first time
out, let`s do it again.
MOORE: Let`s do it again, reverend.
SHARPTON: Have a good weekend.
MOORE: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Hey, President Obama`s fight for the middle class got a
boost today thanks for the wrong-way Republicans. That`s coming up.
SHARPTON: We all know how unpopular this Congress is, but let me show
you just how unpopular. Richard Nixon`s approval rating during Watergate
was higher than of our current Congress.
Remember BP, the company responsible for the devastating oil spill in
the gulf? Well, even during the oil spill, Americans gave a higher rating
to BP that to this Congress. If you want someone whose approval rating is
on par with this Congress, then look no further than Hugo Chavez. Hugo
Chavez and our Congress share the same nine percent approval rating.
Folks, there is a reason this Congress is so unpopular. They keep doing
unpopular things. Today, 236 House Republicans voted for the balanced-
budget amendment. This extreme piece of republican mean-spiritedness could
have destroyed up to 15 million jobs and slashed social programs. Given
the fact that Republicans keep ignoring the will of the people, is it any
wonder that the president is taking his message to the streets.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: It`s time for folks running
around, spending all their time talking about what`s wrong with America, to
spend time rolling up their sleeves to help us make it right.
Somebody is fighting for them. Somebody is looking out for them,
somebody is rooting for them. We are going to make the dream that all
Americans share real once again, and that starts right now. It starts with
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Joining me now is Bob Shrum, democratic strategist and
professor at New York University. He recently wrote this -- about this in
an article for the week entitled "Populism is Obama`s path to victory."
And Nia-Malika Henderson, political reporter for "The Washington Post."
Bob, let me start with you.
First, thanks Colorado Senator Michael Bennet with coming up with that
poll comparison. Let mess ask you, given the numbers Bob, are Republicans
just making this easy for President Obama?
BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, it`s never going to be easy.
Because this is a difficult economic situation, but the Republicans wanted
to create -- turn this election into a referendum. The President is
turning it into a choice. They`re rooting for recession. He`s out there
fighting for jobs and economic justice. He`s got a coherent message, I`m
on your side, I`m fighting for you. And the Republicans are the flip side
of that. And they want to voucherize Medicare, they want to privatize
Social Security. They want tax cuts for the wealthy. They vote against
every jobs bill. They both for a so-called balanced-budget amendment,
which as you point out would shred Social Security, and by the way, be a
recipe for repeated recession, because the government couldn`t act when the
economy started to go down to counter it. You can override that with a
three-fifths vote. You know what that would do? Establish a filibuster in
the House of Representatives.
SHARPTON: That`s right.
SHRUM: We already have one in the Senate. We don`t need another one.
SHARPTON: Now, Nia-Malika, when you look at these polls that Bennet
has given this comparison that I gave tonight, and you see obviously such a
low, low rating of approval. Are these Congress members, republican
Congress members so ideological and so inflexible in their ideology that
they just don`t care? Or are they tone-deaf to where the American people`s
will and beliefs are?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, it seems like a
little of both. I mean, if you look at what`s going on in Congress now,
them trying to do this balanced-budget amendment in the house clearly sort
of an olive branch of the Tea Party there, and had no chance obviously of
getting over in this Senate or even nationwide. So, you do have that, and
then you have next week what looks like the deadline looming that they`re
not going to be able to meet with some of the compromises going on with
this Super Committee and deficit reduction, it`s just looks like there are
two parties that are ideologically are so far apart and unwilling to
I think there are some talk that the people on the hill want the
president to come in and move this thing forward a little bit. But he`s
been pretty clear all along that he wants some mix of cuts and tax hikes.
They talk about a balanced-budget amendment for instance, they didn`t need
a balanced-budget amendment when Bill Clinton was around. He was able to
balance the budget four times. And he was able to do it by raising taxes.
And that`s something that most Americans actually want. They want some
combination of tax hikes on the wealthy and some combination of cuts, but
you have a republican, a party there that aren`t willing to do that.
SHARPTON: Now, Bob, when she talks about the unwillingness to do
anything around taxes. Paul Ryan was one of four people, Republicans to
vote no even on the balanced budget, not because of potentially devastating
cuts, but because he was concerned taxes might be raised. I mean, that`s
how far they have gone with this.
SHRUM: Look, I think there are some Republicans, and John Boehner may
be one of them, who would actually like to see the Super Committee
succeed, but the freshmen Republicans and there are lot of them, and they
come from the Tea Party, they have held the whole party hostage. You can`t
get any kind of compromise, they`re not willing to move at all. And I
think Boehner sits there terrified of losing his speakership. That`s why
he walked away from a grand bargain with the President last year.
Now, as the president has moved up in the polls, going up I think six
points, and he`s bringing his message to the people, Nia-Malika, you have
Mark Penn, who was a strategist for former President Clinton, a Clinton
pollster in fact, saying the president should run as a populist. The quote
is, "The President has wandered into the thicket of class warfare that
would not only compound the difficulties before his climb to reelection."
Yet it seems that whatever he is doing is working.
HENDERSON: Yes, in some ways you`re right. He`s been going across
the country. Of course, he`s overseas now, but in the weeks prior, he was
going across the country talking about his jobs bill. And one of the
things he was also doing was using the bully pulpit and using his executive
office to make some changes around mortgages and around student loans. And
I think that`s something that liberals certainly want to see him do.
Because I think it makes a better argument. For him if he`s able to say,
he is able to get some things done, regardless of whether or not he`s able
to have the Congress go along with him. Oddly, you have Mark Penn making
this suggestion that Barack Obama shouldn`t run as a populist, shouldn`t
run on raising taxes, but let`s face it, that`s something that Clinton was
able to do, and that ushered in a record number of jobs. Clinton was able
to create 23 million jobs in eight years, and the unemployment rate until
Bill Clinton dropped from 6.8 percent to about 3.8 percent by the time he
was out of office.
SHARPTON: Now, Bob, Mark Penn`s point about not running as a
populist, would you advise that to the President? You`ve been a strategist
through several cycles of presidential campaign.
SHRUM: Nia-Malika is exactly right about what happened in the Clinton
years. And the truth is for some times since then Mark Penn has been
telling Democrats they should act like Republicans. They shouldn`t stand
up for the things that make us Democrats. There is class warfare in this
country, it`s been going on for ten years, it`s been going on against the
middle class which has seen its incomes go down. Look, I don`t think
President Obama is going to take any advice from someone who told Hillary
Clinton that the way to get the nomination for the Democratic Party in 2008
was to go out there, say she had a lot of experience and let him be the
candidate of change. He gave her bad advice then. He`s giving bad advice
to the president now, and the president is on the right track, because I
think he`s standing up for what he believes in. Standing up and fighting
for an ordinary hardworking Americans in the middle class.
SHARPTON: All right. Even with the gains, though, we see Nia-Malika
that the independents, we`ll see a poll where the independents has Romney
beating President Obama among independents by 12 points. Why? And what do
you think the president`s reelection campaign has to do to try to bring
more independents over?
HENDERSON: Well, as much as, you know, there`s a far right in this
country, the Tea Party, and then there`s the far left, a lot of folks who
are doing Occupy Wall Street. Those would be members of the far left. But
there is a grand silent center in this country, and Barack Obama does have
to appeal to those folks. And I think the way he does that is to appeal to
that sense that Americans really do want bipartisanship. They`d really do
want compromise. So, I think if he is able to continue to paint this
Congress as radical, as being really being beholding to the Tea Party, that
that gets him a long way. But I think Romney has actually done a pretty
good job in really holding the Tea Party at arm`s length. There`s an event
in Iowa this weekend with the religious right, he`s not going to be there.
So, he`s in a pretty good job as appearing to be this moderate independent
guy. So, Barack Obama has a challenge in getting those voters.
SHARPTON: Bob Shrum, Nia-Malika Henderson, thanks for coming on the
show tonight. Both of you have a great weekend.
SHRUM: You too, Reverend.
HENDERSON: Thank you, Rev.
SHARPTON: Ahead, the fight for civil rights hits Alabama. We`ll tell
you how un-American the immigration law is, and why we must fight back.
And we`ll tell you what prominent republican missed schoolhouse rock.
You don`t want to miss this.
SHARPTON: Dr. Martin Luther King began fighting for civil rights in
Alabama. Now, the new civil rights fighting going on there. Immigration
law is un-American. Democrats and activists are fighting back, next.
SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. It`s the civil rights
fight going on right now. The GOP crusade against immigration. In June,
Alabama took the anti-immigrant movement to the extreme with a new law that
is being labeled as the harshest in the nation. Children are being kept
out of school. People are living in fear of arrests, many are fleeing the
state. Today, Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO and Martin Luther King III
called it the new Jim Crow, but Democrats are fighting back. Arizona
lawmakers are going to Alabama on Monday to bring national attention to the
law. These anti-immigration laws are un-American. It`s time we stop it.
Joining me now is Jose Antonio Vargas, a former reporter of "The
Washington Post" and a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. At June 26, he
wrote an article for "The New York Times" magazine, called "My Life as an
Undocumented Alien," the first time he publicly admitted his immigration
status. Welcome Jose. Let me start by asking you, what made you finally
decide to come forward with your story?
JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS, PULITZER PRIZE WINNING JOURNALIST: Well, first
of all, thank you for having me.
SHARPTON: Thank you for coming.
VARGAS: It was just a little surreal. I mean, three years ago, I was
in Iowa, New Hampshire and North Carolina, you know, covering the primaries
for "The Washington Post."
VARGAS: And, you know it got to a point where I couldn`t do it
anymore. I mean, I couldn`t lie anymore. I couldn`t -- you know, I`ve
been in this country since I was 12. I`ve been here 18 years. And I can`t
even go to Mexico or Canada. I`ve been paying taxes all of these years,
because you know, undocumented people pay taxes, income taxes.
SHARPTON: Say that again.
VARGAS: A lot of people don`t know that.
SHARPTON: That`s right.
VARGAS: Thank you for playing that out. Undocumented people pay
income taxes in this country. A report from the migration policy center
said something along the lines of $400 million in state and federal taxes.
But again, these are the kind of facts that we need to get out there.
VARGAS: That we`re not hearing.
VARGAS: I was actually in Alabama a few weeks ago. I got there the
day after the injunction from the court happens, so it was no longer a
felony just for me to even be there. But to talk to people in Alabama,
they don`t even understand their own law.
VARGAS: I had to explain to people, you know.
SHARPTON: Well, explain how egregious this thing.
VARGAS: Oh, this is how egregious this is. It`s a felony for
undocumented person to get in any business transaction with the government.
Which means you have people worried about getting water in their houses,
getting trash collection. I mean, you have people who have...
SHARPTON: Anything like that is a felony.
VARGAS: It`s a felony. And by the way, mind you, in South Carolina
come January 1st, it would be a felony if you were driving me in South
Carolina. If you were driving me.
SHARPTON: A Pulitzer prizewinning tax-paying author, who is
undocumented, and I was driving you through.
VARGAS: Through Charleston, South Carolina.
SHARPTON: I could be charged with a felony?
VARGAS: Yes. It`s transporting an undocumented person.
SHARPTON: I read your article. I remember the -- came out, I was on
a plane reading your article on "New York Times" magazine. And I said,
this guy will be picked up by the end of the week. Why do you think they
haven`t picked you up?
VARGAS: That`s the question I`ve been asking -- I`ve been asking that
to myself and I`m sure people are...
SHARPTON: Well, maybe you don`t fit the stereotype they want.
SHARPTON: They want to show everybody that they don`t pay taxes.
VARGAS: They don`t speak English, they don`t love America.
SHARPTON: And here, you`re a Pulitzer Prize winning writer, you would
really flip to descript on them if you got a lot of attention.
VARGAS: I mean, that`s why I came out. I mean, at the end of the
day, you know, we are not exactly who you think we are. Last week, I was
just talking to a couple of girls Biology graduates from U.C. Berkley who
were waiting tables. Biology graduates waiting tables, they could be tax-
paying American citizens with jobs. Instead they`re waiting tables because
of the laws we have.
SHARPTON: Jose, you know, I`ve lead Marxist on this issue. And a lot
of people saying, this has nothing to do with civil rights, they`re taking
our jobs. How do you respond to that?
VARGAS: You know, this is why reading Martin Luther King III Op-Ed
today was really, you know, we need to start connecting the dots in this
issue. Mind you, the immigration rights act, the immigration nationality
act was passed in 1965, a year after the civil rights act, right?
VARGAS: Some dots need to be connected, and at the end of the day,
we`re talking about a population that you can`t ignore. Every 30 seconds
in this country, a Latino turns 18 years old.
VARGAS: I mean, does the Republican Party really want to -- every 30
seconds a Latino turns 18 years old.
SHARPTON: And this affects Haitians, this affects Trinidadians, this
VARGAS: Everybody. I`m Filipino.
VARGAS: Yes. This is not just a Hispanic-Latino issue. It is not.
SHARPTON: Well, Jose Antonio Vargas, thank you so much for coming in.
VARGAS: Thank you for having me. Thank you so much.
SHARPTON: God bless.
VARGAS: I appreciate it.
SHARPTON: We`ll be right back.
SHARPTON: Folks, you know I don`t tend to agree with right-wing
governors, but I think Florida`s Rick Scott is really living in an
alternative reality. The Palm Beach post asked Scott why he`s turned down
money to implement the federal health care law. He told them, quote, "it`s
not the law of the land." I don`t believe it will ever be the law of the
land. Not the law of the land? Governor Scott, I know you don`t like the
health care law, and I know Florida is challenging it in court, but I think
you need a refresher on what makes something a law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I`m just a bill yes, I`m only a bill and if they
vote for me on Capitol Hill well then I`m off to the White House where I`ll
wait in a line with a lot of other bills for the president to sign and if
he signs me then I`ll be a law, how I hope and pray that he will but today
I am still just a bill.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: He signed you, bill. Now you`re a law.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Oh, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Oh, yes, Governor. So, since President Obama signed the
affordable care act on March 23rd of last year, it`s a law.
Let`s get over this. Let`s steal with this one more time, so we make
it clear. If the Congress votes to pass a bill and then the president
signs it, it becomes -- say it with me -- a law. Governor Scott, I hope
you won`t get confused again just because you don`t like a law, just
remember, it`s still a law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED BOY: It`s not easy to become a law, is it?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: No. But how I hope and pray that I will but today
I am still just a bill
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: He signed you, bill. Now you`re a law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: A law. L-a-w. A law. You don`t even have to think of
three things, just one -- signed, President is a law. Next week, I`ll give
you a crash course on Libya. Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton.
"HARDBALL" starts right now.
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