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PoliticsNation, Monday, December 5, 2011

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Guests: Dana Milbank, Charles Blow, Ben Jealous, George Gresham, Nia-Malika Henderson, Kasie Hunt, Alan Grayson

REV. AL SHARPTON, HOST: Poverty is not a reality show. Newt meets
"The Donald" at the Trump Tower. And wait until you hear how these one
percenters plan to help poor kids. It`s unbelievable.

Block the vote. Republicans launch a full-scale attack on voting
rights across the country, but the countering attack is gaining momentum.

No surrender. President Obama steps up the fight for the middle

Hey, Republicans. Does it seem you`re starting to sweat?

How can you fight tooth and nail to protect high-end tax breaks for
the wealthiest Americans and yet barely lift a finger to prevent taxes
going up for 160 million Americans who really need the help?

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

People across America are demanding that Newt Gingrich apologize for
the insulting way he spoke about poor children in this nation by saying
they and their parents don`t know what it`s like to work. But instead of
reaching out to the poor, Newt met with a billionaire.

This afternoon, Newt and Donald Trump met at the Trump Tower here in
Manhattan. Newt asked Trump, of all people, for help in addressing


of the poorer schools in New York and basically offer at least 10
apprenticeships to kids from the school to get them into the world of work.

was a great idea. We call it an apprenticeship. And we all know about
"The Apprentice."

And so we`re going to be doing it. We`re going to be picking 10 young
wonderful children, and we`re going to make them apprenti. We`re going to
have a little fun with it.


SHARPTON: You`re going to have a little fun with it? Ten kids in a
program named after a reality show? That`s your solution to 15 million
kids living in poverty?

Today, Newt also said there are a few people in housing projects, very
few, that he claims work at all.


GINGRICH: I`ve been talking about the importance of work,
particularly as it relates to people who are in areas where there are
public housing, et cetera, where there are relatively few people who go to
work. If you look at the largest urban housing projects, you`ll find areas
that have remarkably few people who have work experience.


SHARPTON: And late last week, Newt suggested that poor kids had just
two career paths -- become a janitor or become a pimp or prostitute.


GINGRICH: What if they cleaned out the bathrooms, and what if they
mopped the floors? What if they, in that process, were actually learning
to work, learning to earn money? They didn`t have to become a pimp or a
prostitute or a drug dealer.


SHARPTON: Newt`s attack on the poor has become his path to the


GINGRICH: It is tragic what we do in the poorest neighborhoods in
trapping children -- first of all, in child laws which are truly stupid.
Most of these schools ought to get rid of the unionized janitors, have one
master janitors, and pay local students to take care of the school.


SHARPTON: GOP voters could have punished Newt for saying something so
outrageous. Instead, they`ve come to like him more, not less. His average
poll rating has shot up five points since he said poor kids could be

Let me say, Friday night, when I address this had issue, I got a lot
of you on tweet that were saying I got emotional. I got emotional because
many of us have struggled to talk about what is going on with working poor
people in this country, and to try to give hope to those kids who, like me,
came out of that poverty to know we can make it and be something. For
someone seeking the presidency to try to dash those hopes and to try and
stereotype a whole section of this country whose jobs have been outsourced,
who`s been laid off, who get up and work every day, who work sometimes two
and three jobs, is unpardonable.

You`re not running for an Emmy, Newt, you`re running for the
president. This is not a reality show. It`s about reality.

Joining me is Dana Milbank, political reporter for "The Washington
Post," and "New York Times" columnist Charles Blow. He wrote on article
this weekend called "Newt`s War on Poor Children."

Thank you both for being with me.


SHARPTON: Charles is one of my favorite columnists. I tell him I
read his columns on Saturday mornings and get my message for my Saturday
morning rally.

But you were off the chain, as they say, this Saturday.

What is Newt saying? Is this what the base of the GOP wants to hear?

BLOW: I don`t know if it`s what they want to hear, but they do
respond to this sort of demonization of the poor. And what he`s saying --
I mean, you can only take him at what he says. You can`t say, well, what
he meant was --


BLOW: Because I don`t know what that means. I can only analyze what
the man says. And he`s saying that these very poor kids don`t have anyone
around them who works. That is not true.

SHARPTON: Hold on one minute. Let me quote "Blow to Blow," a little
Blowism here.

You wrote accurately, three out of four people living below the
poverty line have a job. This is in your column.

BLOW: Absolutely.

SHARPTON: And I quoted some data on Friday night, but I was glad that
you put it in "The New York Times" on Saturday, because most -- I mean, not
most, but a lot of people don`t understand that people that are poor are
not necessarily people that don`t work.

BLOW: Absolutely. And what Newt was saying was, they don`t have a
habit of getting up and going to work on Monday and staying all day.
That`s probably true because they have a habit of getting up at night and
working all night and working on the weekends, because a 9:00 to 5:00
Monday to Friday is actually a luxury for people who are actually working
jobs that don`t pay enough to get you out of poverty.

So, everything about that comment was degrading, because a lot of it
was absolutely false. And even if you say -- if you look at the absolute
poorest kids in the absolute poorest areas -- we looked at areas where 30
percent of the households are poor or more, even among that group, a third
work and in the poorest areas, 66 percent of kids in that area live with a
parent who works.

So even if the parent that you`re living with is not working, you see
people constantly coming and going back and forth to work. This idea that
nobody in these neighborhoods is working is just outrageous.

SHARPTON: What I said on Friday night, if Newt came to any urban
center, come to New York, Chicago, wherever, go to a housing project early
in the morning, you see floods of people rushing to the subways or to the
public transportation to go to work. What is he talking about, young kids
in those areas don`t understand a work ethic?

But, Dana, the politics of this is that Newt is going up in the polls,
which is even more alarming to me.

Reverend. I suspect one may not be related to the other, because --

SHARPTON: I hope not.

MILBANK: -- if you take a step back here, it`s not just Newt going
back to 1995, 1996 and the welfare debate. He`s going back to the Gilded
Age and the robber barons here.

Donald Trump and Newt Gingrich are members of the same country club
here. And now they`re getting together and talking about, we`re going to
repeal the child labor laws here and have child janitors.

As the father of a 7-year-old, trying to get her to clean her room, I
suggest to you the idea of a child janitor program is not going to go
anywhere. But Newt Gingrich just has a way of spouting out whatever is in
his professorial brain the moment. Sometimes it`s quite smart, often it`s
quite zany. And the problem is, when you get this kind of spotlight over
and over again, the public is gradually going to see that the guy is a
little bit erratic once you see him all the time.

SHARPTON: Well, let me say this, though. He`s not alone.

Look at this -- it seems like the whole cast of Republican candidates
-- and I say cast since they`re going into the reality show business now --
have declared a war on the poor. Look at this.


SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: Continuing to pay people unemployment
compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Accountability in welfare and accountability in
unemployment benefits is going to be a prime thing that we focus on in this
election. I so want drug testing. I so want it.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have been putting so much entitlement into
our government, that we really have spoiled our citizenry and said, you
don`t want the jobs that are available.



HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you don`t have a job and
you`re not rich, blame yourself.


SHARPTON: I mean, and those are not all candidates other than --
well, even the last one is no longer a candidate.

But this is like what we`re hearing, Charles. And the thing that
bothers me, as you know, President Obama had Newt Gingrich and I go out
with Education Secretary Duncan in `09 visiting schools. Newt knows better
because we went to inner city schools.

He saw kids that absolutely were striving for educational excellence
and came from families, some with single parents, who worked every day. He
knows better. They`re feeding into this kind of welfare -- as Dana said,
1994-1995 politics, and that is what is so disturbing.

BLOW: This is why I don`t mind taking him to the woodshed, is because
Newt knows better. Newt knows that child labor laws are meant to protect
children from being exploited, not to prevent them from working.

In New York State, if you`re 14 years old, you can get a job. But
they want to make sure you`re healthy, that you don`t work so many hours
that you can`t do your homework. He knows better.

He`s basically playing to a stereotype. That is wrong and he knows

Sometimes he spouts off, but he`s had this before him -- three or four
days, come back at it several times. Has yet to apologize, has yet to make
it right. So he should be taken to the woodshed on this.

SHARPTON: And he showed his repentance that he wanted to show himself
to be accountable by going to Donald Trump, that`s how you really
straighten out your position on poverty.

But, Dana, he`s managed to do one thing. If you think President Obama
did something getting Newt and I together for a minute, he got Whoopi and
Elisabeth Hasselbeck together today.

Look at this.


WHOOPI GOLDBERG, "THE VIEW": I`m as offended as I`ve been, I think,
for a long time, because to paint all children who are not lucky enough to
be wealthy as potential pimps and prostitutes, you`re talking about
dignity? You didn`t give them any dignity when you made this statement.

ELISABETH HASSELBECK, "THE VIEW": But you know, that won`t work.
It`s distant. There`s no heart in it. I don`t understand how he even
could defend those statements again.


SHARPTON: I couldn`t believe it, Dana. Elisabeth and Whoopi and Rev
Al on the same page.


MILBANK: I mean, it`s not as good as seeing you and Newt together
there in the White House driveway, but I`ll give you that it`s a close

The politics here can be dangerous, not in the Republican primary,
which is what he`s fighting now, but when you go for the Independent,
centrist voters, they`re OK with you picking on people living off the
public dole on welfare. But it`s different when you`re talking about kids.


MILBANK: It`s different when you`re going after unemployment
insurance available to 15 million Americans. It`s different when you go
after Medicare, which tens of millions of Americans are relying on.

These aren`t really classic welfare programs. These are broadly
accepted programs, and talking about our children.

SHARPTON: Dana Milbank, Charles Blow, thanks for coming in.

BLOW: Absolutely.

MILBANK: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Thank you both for your time.

Ahead, the fight to keep money in the pockets of 160 million Americans
continues, but Republicans are fighting against it.

Plus, Nancy Pelosi says she might spill the secrets of Newt. We`re
talking about thousands of pages of secrets.

And we`re exposing the GOP effort to suppress minority votes in our
special series, "Block the Vote," starting tonight.

You`re watching POLITICS NATION on MSNBC.


SHARPTON: As we`ve been reporting, the Republican campaign is
reaching a fever pitch. But behind the scenes, there`s a quieter campaign.
Republicans don`t talk much about it. It is there, it is widespread, and
it is a real threat to the Democrats` chances in the election.

I`m talking about the full-on GOP effort to change voting laws that
could have a dramatic effect next year. Twenty-five voter suppression laws
have passed in 14 states this year alone. They`re aimed at everything from
shrinking early voting periods and passing photo I.D. requirements to
restricting voter registration.

It`s a full-court press to restrict voting, which is fundamental civil
right. Republicans justify these laws by harping on about voter fraud, but
a five-year study by the Bush Justice Department found only 86 cases of
fraud out of more than three million votes cast. That`s 0.00003 percent,
an imaginary problem with a very threatening solution.

Joining me now, two champions for voters everywhere, Ben Jealous,
president of the NAACP, and -- they`re out with a new report today,
"Blocking the Vote: Why the Struggle to Secure Equal Voting Rights for
People of Color Continues in the Eve of the 2012 Elections," and labor
giant George Gresham, president of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East,
an advocate for voter rights who marched with me for jobs and justice in
October, and we talked about that issue there, he did in his speech.

And we`re all coming together this Saturday. Friday, we`ve been
talking about the 25 cities. Saturday, we`re all in one city, New York,
marching from the Koch brothers` officer, who is helping to finance this to
the United Nations.

Thanks both of you for joining me tonight.



SHARPTON: George, this is a civil right. Whether you`re a Democrat,
Republican, the reason that the labor and civil rights groups, along with
you and SEIU, and NAACP, and National Action Network, all of us, all coming
together, is because this really undermines the voting right movement in
this country.

GRESHAM: Absolutely. What`s happening right now in this country, it
seems that the powers that they want to take away, what we`ve worked years
and years for -- you know, I grew up in the South, in segregation, and
watched the civil rights movement achieve what working people need
together. And just when we came together in 2008, working people all
around the country, to vote for hope, to stand up for something for working
people, they`re changing the rules now and they`re bringing it back to the
bad old days, talking about voter fraud. The only fraud is the idea that
there is voter fraud as a way to suppress the vote in the country.

SHARPTON: Ben, one of the things they`re using is photo I.D. In the
report, the NAACP and the Legal Defense Fund has come out with, you outline
many of those areas.

I was in Florida over the weekend. They are stopping Sunday voting in
states like Florida, where you had Soul to the Poles. And you`ve come out
in the report, in photo I.D., African-Americans, 25 percent; Latino
Americans, 16 percent; white Americans, 8 percent.

This is skewed in a way that directly affects minorities at a higher
impact, which really will flip a lot of those districts.

JEALOUS: That`s right. And as you said, it`s really a series of
attacks going on across the country.

The state of Wisconsin, we know fully one-half of blacks and fully
one-half of Latinos in Wisconsin do not have a valid driver`s license or
I.D., one where the address matches up with where they vote. And that`s
quite simply because -- two things.

One, if you`re too poor to have a car, you tend not to have a driver`s
license in the first place. Secondly, if you rent, and you move frequently
-- and there`s a whole group of renters in this country who move, like,
every six months -- when you show up to vote, you may have lived one place,
but your I.D. still has some other place on it.

Then you go down to the state of Texas. In Texas, they say, look, you
can vote with your gun license, but you can`t vote with your student I.D.


JEALOUS: Well, you know, when you look into what`s -- ground zero for
student voting rights in Texas has often been out at Prairie View. And
this is a black college where there have been wars fought in that town
trying to make it possible for black students to get to the polling places.
There`s just all sorts of battles over the years. It`s very much targeted
at disenfranchising students, and especially black students.

Then you shift over to Georgia, where they have this law that says if
you don`t have a Xeroxed copy of your I.D. attached to your voting form, it
won`t be processed.

SHARPTON: A Xeroxed copy attached? I mean, because I think people
need to understand how this is crazy. The stuff they`re saying doesn`t
even make sense.

JEALOUS: I mean, look, you and I have been involved in voter
registration our entire lives. And we`ve been through countless voter
registration drives. Never once have we been able to pull one of those off
while pushing a Xerox machine down the street.

I mean, it`s clearly designed to kill basic voter registration. In
the state of Florida, we have even seen the League of Women Voters, a
nonpartisan organization, probably, if you will, sort of the most kind of -

SHARPTON: Yes. They`ll be on one night this week, because I`m doing
a series on this every night. You`re right.

JEALOUS: Yes. Right. And they have said, look, we`re not going to
register voters in Florida so long as these rules stay in place.

SHARPTON: George, let me say this, though. You and I -- Ben and I,
all our lives, have been in voter registration. But you and I have been in
the trenches in a lot of these legal battles.

GRESHAM: Absolutely.

SHARPTON: Though Ben has, but he`s officially nonpartisan.

Karl Rove has made no bones about there`s a political strategy to
this. And I think people need to understand that.

Let me show you -- Karl Rove openly wrote about targeting black voter
turnout in "The Wall Street Journal," an op-ed that he wrote,. "Why Obama
is Likely to Lose in 2012." He writes, "Even a small drop in the share of
black voters would wipe out his winning margin in North Carolina."

So, if you look at the states that Ben is talking about, and that we
all are raising, and you bring down a percentage just based on voter I.D.
or any of the other things, you wipe out the margin of victory in some
critical states for the Democrats.

GRESHAM: Absolutely. And what they can`t deal with is they can`t win
with the issues.

They know that working people in this country are starting to get fed
up when you see the 99 percent movement, when you see working people of all
stripes standing up together in 2008. There was something that many of us
thought that we would never see, that people stood up for hope, that people
in this country said, despite the fact of color, we`re going to go for
people that work for us, that we can afford no longer to be stuck on the
issue of race.

We need to be stuck on the issue of class, of working class. So they
can`t beat us with the issues.

So now they change the games. They changed the game. They changed
the rules.

But I can tell you right now, all they`re doing in this country is
waking up working people. They`re not going to get away with it.

We`re going to arm our people to make sure that they have what it
takes to get votes. But we need the public to stand up.

We need the public to stand up and say, we`re not going back to those
old days again. We`re not going back to the days when people were stopped
from voting in the South, whether there was poll tax or whether there were
education tests that people had to do. Similar things are happening now.

They`re just trying to do it in a different, more intelligent way, and
under the disguise that they`re trying to protect working people. That`s
as phony as when you have a right-to-work state that makes it hard for
people to organize and saying that you`re doing it for working people.
It`s a sham.

SHARPTON: Ben, we have to go, but we`re doing a house call, or office
call. We`re going to deliver room service to the Koch brothers Saturday.

Tell us quickly how people can get the information.

JEALOUS: Sure. They can text "STAND" to 62227. That`s text "STAND"
to 62227. Or you can go to

SHARPTON: So, Friday, we`re in 25 cities. We`ve been talking about
it. Go to

Then, Saturday, we`re all coming together with the NAACP, SEIU, all of
us, from the Koch brothers to the U.N.

Ben Jealous, George Gresham, thanks, both of you, for your time.
We`ll be dealing with this every night this week.

JEALOUS: Thank you.

GRESHAM: Thank you for having us.

SHARPTON: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: And this entire week, we`ll continue to focus on the issue
of the effort to suppress the vote.

Ahead, President Obama won`t stop fighting for the middle class. He
challenged Republicans big-time today.

Stay with us.


SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. The Newt Gingrich surge
is erupting. Nearly four weeks from the Iowa caucus, he`s blowing away the
competition. A new NBC poll has Newt leading Willard, Romney, in Iowa by
eight points. Another has Newt trouncing Willard in Iowa by nine points.
Newt is the frontrunner. And like all the frontrunners before him, he paid
a visit to the king-maker today. Right here in New York City, the latest
candidate to praise the birther king, Donald Trump, as a true American


elect to the peanut farmer to the presidency, and elected an actor who made
two movies with a chimpanzee to the presidency. This is a country of
enormously wide open challenge. You know, Donald Trump is a great showman,
it`s also a great businessman.


SHARPTON: Trump is back in the spotlight moderating a GOP debate this
morning. But has created a serious family feud within the party.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: What the heck are the republican candidates doing
showing up at a debate with a guy who says, I may run for president next
year as an independent. I mean, I think the republican national chairman
ought to step in and say, we strongly discourage every candidate from
appearing in a debate moderated by somebody who`s going to run for
president. It doesn`t help the country. I mean, if you got to be a
candidate, be a candidate.

DONALD TRUMP, BUSINESSMAN: Karl Rove gave us George Bush and George
Bush crashed and burned. The Republicans, they have to get rid of the Karl
Rove and they need fresh blood because Karl Rove is going to lead them into


SHARPTON: Just one more drama in the never-ending reality show that
is the GOP race. Joining me now, Nia-Malika Henderson, a political
reporter for The Washington Post, and writer for the 2012 blog. And Kasie
Hunt, national political reporter for the Associated Press. Thanks to both
of you for being here tonight.


SHARPTON: Casey, newt is surging. Why do you really think he`s
catching on?

HUNT: Well, I think it`s something that you`ve seen throughout this
entire primary process. You`ve seen people get excited about Michele
Bachmann. Then you saw people get excited about, you know, one after the
other of these republican alternatives. They`re just searching for
somebody who isn`t Mitt Romney. What makes Newt different of course is
that he has a national identity. People know who he is, from back in 1994
when he was the speaker of the house. And so, we`re going to have to see
whether or not that means that he has more staying power than those who
have risen and fallen before him.

SHARPTON: Now, Nia-Malika, if you look at the Gingrich surge, let me
give you a line graph of Newt`s surge, from February, was at 10.6, then
down to 10.1. Then up to 11.3. Then in May, all the way down to eight and
then down in June to 7.3. July, 5. August, 4.8. September, 4.5. Then
October, he shoots back up to 9.2. November, 11 and in December, 26. I
mean, you talk about a roller-coaster ride, he`s been on it. But if you
compare that to Willard, his poll has been very obvious, flat. He`s barely
moved at all. He`s stayed from 18.9 in February to 20.4 here. I mean,
it`s just Willard just can`t get the majority of his party to come behind
him, it appears.

even get close to the majority of his party to give him any love, to give
him any attention in these polls. I think one of the things about Newt is
he`s just had really great timing. We`re a couple of weeks ahead of the
Iowa caucuses and he is surging at the right time. Obviously, we`ve got to
look to see what sort of ground game he has there in some of these early
states, Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Apparently, it`s not so
great as of yet, the campaign is having to catch up with his surge. I know
there`s some talk in the Gingrich campaign that they`ll actually merge some
operations, some ground game with the Cain campaign. Again, the Cain
campaign, also not very well-structured in some of these early states. So,
hard to see how that helps. I think what`s going to be interesting to
watch over this next couple days is again, how Romney confronts Gingrich,
whether or not he comes out strong against him. He`s been using this
career politician tag against him, hard to see how that`s going to be
effective given that Mitt Romney himself hasn`t had a job for a number of
years, unless you count running for president as a job.

SHARPTON: Now, Kasie, if you look at E.J. Dionne wrote, I think that
this kind of puts this in focus. He wrote this weekend that the Tea Party
has turned the GOP race into a reality show. Quote, "A party that lived by
the tea crowd in 2010 is being severely hobbled by it now. Is this the
problem that the Tea Party has driven the GOP party so far to the right
that you`ve got to play way to the right of Willard and way to the right of
a lot of the moderate Republicans and the established Republicans like Karl
Rove to try and win the nomination and you may not be able to get back?

HUNT: Well, I mean, I think that you`ve seen a recognition on the
part of some of these candidates on the right that for whatever reason,
Donald Trump really tapped into some element of anger on the right. And
something that he`s saying in his bombastic reality, apprentice show type
of way actually did resonate somehow with a piece of that republican
electorate. Now, whether clips of Gingrich calling him an American icon
are going to come back to haunt him where he actually to become the GOP
nominee, I think that it`s distinctly possible that could end up being used
against him. But we`re just going to have to see how this all shakes out.

SHARPTON: Well, Kasie, I`ll be honest with you and Nia-Malika, I
thought it was a little funny when you call a guy an American icon but you
compare him to presidents that were peanut farmers and one that acted with
the chimpanzees. I was trying to figure out if he was building Trump up or
letting him down. But that`s what another show. Mitt had been swiping
Nia-Malika and Gingrich saying that Newt is a career politician. But if
you look at Willard`s resume, he looks like a career politician. Ninety
four ran for U.S. Senate. Two thousand two, governor of Massachusetts.
Two thousand four, formed his first PAC. Two thousand six, chair of the
Republican Governors Association. Two thousand seven, launched his
campaign. Two thousand eight, form a new PAC. Two thousand ten, campaign
for midterm candidates. Two thousand eleven, launched his second campaign.
That`s not exactly a resume of an outsider.

HENDERSON: Right, exactly. And this is something that the Democratic
National Committee is trying to highlight. And one of the things those
dates highlight also is that he hasn`t been a very successful career
politician. He`s only won one race in his life, the race for Senate there
in 2002. But yes, this is obviously -- he`s trying to tag Newt Gingrich as
an establishment figure. Newt Gingrich of course, very well known in
Washington, very well known in the beltway. Was here in Washington for 20
years. And so that`s what he`s trying to do, he`s trying to tap into this
fervor among especially Tea Party folks for someone who is different. But
the problem again is that Mitt Romney seems like he was built to be a
politician. So it`s a very hard argument for him to make when on his
resume are so many races for government positions.

SHARPTON: Now, I`ve got to ask you about this, Kasie, Nancy Pelosi
reported -- it was reported today -- told some people at Talking Points,
Talking Points Memo, that she has maybe a little dirt to spill on Newt.
She told them, quote, "one of these days we`ll have a conversation about
Newt Gingrich, I know a lot of about him. I served on the investigative
committee that investigated him, four of us locked in a room in an
undisclosed location for a year. A thousand pages of his stuff, that`s a
little eyebrow raising, don`t you think, Kasie?

HUNT: Well, that`s the danger that Newt faces. I mean, when you have
a record as long as his, like, yes, you can run on it, yes, you can say,
I`ve actually balanced the budget. I`m actually done all these things.
But on the flip side, you know, Newt didn`t exactly leave the House of
Representatives in Washington with a parade of fans and followers. And
there`s a lot that he`s left behind that is probably not going to reflect
favorably on him.

SHARPTON: But Nia-Malika, Newt didn`t respond professorial to that.
Let me show you quickly what he said when he heard about what Miss Pelosi


GINGRICH: I want to thank Speaker Pelosi for what I regard as an
early Christmas gift. She suggests and she`s going to use material that
she developed when she was in the Ethics Committee that is a fundamental
violation of the rule of the House and I would hope that member would
immediately file charges against her the second he does it. I would hope
the House would immediately condemn her if she uses any material that was
gathered while she was on the Ethics Committee. That would be a total

SHARPTON: Nia-Malika, he seemed a little disturbed.

HENDERSON: Yes, he`s a little disturbed. I mean, two things here.
One of which is, this actually helps Newt Gingrich because he`s, of course,
had those commercials where he was sitting on the couch with Nancy Pelosi.
So, any way that he can seem to be in a kind of a combat with her is
actually good for him. But in some ways, I think he does have a point,
this idea that Nancy Pelosi is going to leak information on Newt Gingrich,
I think the Democratic National Committee and folks -- Democrats in the
House probably aren`t very satisfied with the way she`s talking about this
and threatening, really, to release this information gathered in her role
on this ethics investigation. So I think in some ways, he`s got a point
here. And I`m sure that in some ways over the next couple of days, you`re
going to see Democrats walk away from this idea that Nancy Pelosi is going
to be leaking information on Newt Gingrich.

SHARPTON: Well, four weeks to Iowa, we`ll be watching. And Nia-
Malika, don`t be too hard on Newt for sitting on the couch with Nancy
Pelosi. Al Gore had all of us doing that with opposites. I sat on that
couch with Pat Robertson. We just argued about who was going to walk on
the water first. Nia and Kasie, thank you both for your time tonight.

HENDERSON: Thank you.

HUNT: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, President Obama puts the Republicans on the ropes,
ramping up his fight to protect the middle class.

And the latest right wing attack against the Muppets, no joke. Stay
with us.


SHARPTON: Republicans finally found a tax cut they don`t like. Of
course, it`s for the middle class. And the President is hammering them for
it. Alan Grayson on that next.


SHARPTON: Today, President Obama launched a new bid to shame
Republicans into extending the payroll tax cut and keep money in the
pockets of 160 million Americans.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: How could it be that the only
time there`s a catch is when it comes to raising taxes on middle class
families? How can you fight tooth and nail to protect high-end tax breaks
for the wealthiest Americans and yet barely lift a finger to prevent taxes
going up for 160 million Americans who really need the help? It doesn`t
make sense.


SHARPTON: It doesn`t make sense. And the American people know it.
This summer, Congress`s job approval rating stood at 20 percent. But look
at how that number has plummeted as Republicans have blocked each portion
of the president`s jobs bill. They said "no" to teachers and firefighters.
They said "no" to infrastructure jobs. They said "no" to payroll tax cut.
Their approval rating has dropped 11 points since June. President Obama
knows that fighting for fairness is the right move. When will Republicans
come around?

Joining me now, former Congressman Alan Grayson, democrat from
Florida, now running again for office. Congressman, thanks for being here.


SHARPTON: Are Republicans now seeing what happens when you ignore the
will of the people?

GRAYSON: Not yet, but I`m pretty sure they will. It is interesting
that you have to shame them into doing something that they ought to be
willing to do themselves. But it seems that they have no shame. Let`s
think about this. This payroll tax for people who work, the millions and
millions of people in this country who actually earn a living, not through
derivatives or anything like that, but people who actually work. Those
people are going to have to face a tax increase because of the Republicans.

SHARPTON: Yes. Let`s explain that, Alan. Because people need to
understand, when we talk in these terms, what it means that an average
American worker, if they do not extend the payroll tax cut, what does it
mean to me sitting at home watching?

GRAYSON: It means that every worker in this country suddenly has two
percent less in their paycheck every single week.

SHARPTON: So, the Republicans.


GRAYSON: And you`re making $490 a week, thanks to the Republicans.

SHARPTON: So, the Republicans that keep fighting to protect the tax
cuts of the rich are saying to the average American, middle class worker,
you will pay two percent more because I`m playing partisan politics with
the President.

GRAYSON: That`s right. But it`s even worse than that. Because the
people who get this tax cut not only are people who need the money and
people but there are also people who spend the money. They`re not like the
wealthy who you give them a tax cut and they just put in their pockets and
nothing ever happens to that money. These are ordinary working Americans
who then spend their money. They spend their money on their rent and the
landlord spends that money on a haircut and then the hairdresser spends
that money at a restaurant and the money goes around and around and revives
the American economy. That`s what actually happens.

SHARPTON: Let me show you what the President said when he dealt with
the Bush tax cuts as opposed to this. Let me show you President Obama


OBAMA: Some Republicans who have pushed back against the idea of
extending this payroll tax cut have said that we`ve got to pay for these
tax cuts. And I just point out that they haven`t always felt that way.
Over the last decade, they didn`t feel the need to pay for massive tax cuts
for the wealthiest Americans, which is one of the reasons that we face such
large deficits.


SHARPTON: So, congressman, not only are they for the first time not
supporting a tax cut, now they even want to say, how are we going to pay
for this tax cut when we gave the richest Americans tax cuts? We went into
wars in Iraq and other places, we never heard the Republicans say, how are
we going to pay for these things? But when it comes to main-street
Americans getting a tax cut, now we`ve got to have all of these things in
place. Interesting.

GRAYSON: Yes, and we`re still paying for the tax cuts for the rich.
In fact, if you simply ended the Bush tax breaks for the rich, that alone
by itself would be almost enough to pay for this entire bill for tax breaks
for the middle class.

SHARPTON: What do you feel will be the result of the President? He
is out there now really not holding back, as you saw the language today.
He`s going tomorrow back on the road where Teddy Roosevelt spoke. Do you
think the president and those groups that are out there now can generate
enough public opinion that will back the Republicans down?

GRAYSON: Listen, the only basic question in politics that matters is,
whose side are you on? And right now, America is watching. America sees
that the President is on the side of the middle class, the people in this
country who actually work, and that the Republicans are on the other side.
They`re on the side of the multinational corporations, they`re on the side
of the one percent, they`re on the side of the filthy rich. And that`s
becoming more and more obvious every single day.

SHARPTON: And what also is very interesting is even when Senator
McConnell, the republican leader in the Senate, came forward with his
payroll tax cut plan, 26 Republicans voted against their own leader.
Twenty six Republicans said no to him. These people are just outright
saying, it`s our way or the highway to the average American and the

GRAYSON: Yes, it won`t be long before you see more rats trying to
leave that sinking ship called the right wing Tea Party, Republican Party.

SHARPTON: Well, Congressman, I think we`ve got to keep on fighting
for the average American and we`ve got to keep informing them what the
fight is all about. Thank you for your time tonight.

GRAYSON: Thank you for having me.

SHARPTON: Ahead, the conservative plan to take down the Muppets.
Hey, tough guys, why don`t you pick on someone your own size. That`s next.


SHARPTON: There`s a new right wing conspiracy coming to a theater
near you. That`s right, parents, listen up. Movies are turning your kids
into a democrat. The "New York Post" Karl Smith (ph) says, flicks like
"Happy Feet 2" taking the Box Office because they promote a liberal agenda.
He calls the movie, quote, "Kiddie Karl Marx," says it talks about global
warming, feminism and vegetarianism, conservative Web sites are also
hitting "Cars 2" for attacking the oil industry. And "Monsters versus
Aliens" for standing against torture. Now, FOX Business is calling out the
Muppets for, get this, being anti-business.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Give the anti-corporate message.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Is liberal Hollywood using class warfare to kind of
brainwash our kids?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yes, absolutely.


SHARPTON: Thanks for tipping us off, conservatives. But with so many
holiday movies playing right now, I need to warn parents about other film
that might indoctrinate kids. Be careful of "It`s a wonderful life."
George Bailey helping people become homeowners is anti-capitalist.
"Trading Places" is one big kiss to the 99 percent. And watch out for
"Home Alone." Kevin doesn`t work hard enough to protect his house from
those robbers. He should have taken lessons from his school janitor,
right, Newt? My mother always told me, desperate people will do desperate
things. They`re getting out of control trying to monitor what you watch.
Next they`ll tell you to quit watching balanced and fair things like
POLITICS NATION with Al Sharpton.

Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.


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