PoliticsNation, Friday, December 9, 2011
Read the transcript from the Friday show
Guests: Nia-Malika Henderson, Robert Menendez, Richard Abelson, Victoria Del Francesco Soto, Robert Brady, Alicia Morgan, Maria Teresa Kumar, Richard Wolffe, John Lewis, Lee Saunders
AL SHARPTON, HOST: Welcome to POLITICSNATION. I`ll Al Sharpton. We
have a special show tonight about the fight for fairness. From what is
going on in Washington to the movement in cities and towns across this
country, it`s a battle that will define the 2012 election. It`s important,
because every day we`re reminded how much this country has suffered.
A new report from the Federal Reserve says the net worth of American
households dropped by $2 trillion in the last quarter, $2 trillion. That`s
the biggest drop in nearly three years. Americans are suffering.
But instead of helping, Republicans are inflicting more pain. Today,
House Republicans formally unveiled their plan for the payroll tax cut. It
reduces unemployment insurance by 40 weeks. It cuts funding to the
president`s health care bill. And it freezes the pay for federal workers.
That`s there`s solution to a country in need. That`s their priorities.
But Democrats won`t stand for it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY PELOSI, (D-CA) HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Being aware of the
public`s interest in this payroll tax being cut have said OK, we`ll put
forth a payroll tax cut but we`ll put so many poison pills on it that it
couldn`t possibly survive. It`s about the extremism of the Republicans in
the House of Representatives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: This is a poison pill, and this extremism is a slap in the
face to a country that wants relief. That`s why we are rallying in cities
across the country today as I speak. The need for jobs and justice has
never been more important.
Right now as I speak in 25 cities, National Action Network along with
allies like the AFSCME union and many others are joining us in jobs for
justice rallies. Why? Because we must stay organized, we must stay
visible, we must force this Congress to bring jobs back.
And we must put the voter I.D. and voter suppression bills that are
spreading this country front and center as a denial to our voting rights.
Joining me now, Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat from New Jersey and
member of the Senate banking committee. Senator, thanks for coming on the
SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ, (D) NEW JERSEY: Good to be with you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Let me ask you, what do you think about the plan that we
saw today from the Republicans in the house?
MENENDEZ: Well, that is an exercise in pacifying some of their
members and what their ideological views are, but it is not a plan to come
to a common ground to achieve help for families in this country, help in
the payroll tax cut that we want to continue to extend, help for those who
are working hard to try to find a job but still haven`t been able to do so
and have unemployment benefits.
We simply seek to maintain those benefits. Republicans want to cut
them as we move into next year. And some of the provisions that they have,
reverend, just won`t sell in the Senate. So the bottom line is, it`s not a
serious proposal to help families get back on their feet.
SHARPTON: Let me show you this graph. They are actually proposing,
in light of all of the pain that we are dealing with, people are marching
right now as I speak, marching tomorrow, people out with Occupy Wall
Street, people that have never marched are sitting at home wondering how
they are going to survive through the holidays, and this is their answer.
You want a payroll tax cut extension? We`re going to reduce the benefits
of unemployment from 99 weeks to 40 weeks. We`re going to cut funding to
the health care law. We`re going to freeze pay for federal workers.
I mean, this is like pouring salt in the wound, senator. I think
nothing short of a continued, prolonged active battle from the streets to
you guys in the Congress and the Senate is going to make these people
understand Americans are not going to stand for this.
MENENDEZ: Well, their position is actually worse. If we don`t act
upon the unemployment insurance just to maintain present benefits in
January of this coming year, just weeks away, it will go down in 26 weeks.
And that will knock over a million Americans looking for a job but can`t
find it when there`s four applicants for every job that is out there off of
their benefits. So that`s just fundamentally wrong.
And when you add that to what we as Democrats want to do to extend the
payroll tax cut for employees, most economists have said from mark Zandi at
Moody`s and JP Morgan and others have said, if you don`t do these two
things, maintain the unemployment insurance and extend the payroll tax cut,
that we will see the gross domestic product fall by two percent when we
need it to grow.
MENENDEZ: And so the economics of this as well as the human element
is incredibly important.
SHARPTON: And that`s important, because we`re not saying this is not
good economics, that is just good politics or even good morality. It
happens to be all three.
And we`re hearing some very, I would say, unfounded claims by the
other side. They say we must protect the job seekers. Well, let me show
you this. NPR went in search of the millionaire job creators that they are
protecting, these GOP keeps talking about, we`ve got to protect the job
creators. Well, NPR requested help from numerous Republican Congressional
officers including House and Senate leadership. They were unable to
produce a single millionaire job creator for them to interview. It`s
amazing. When you call a hand on it, they can`t come through.
MENENDEZ: Well, I think the Republican motto right now is anybody but
the middle class, anybody but working families. That`s who they`ll
protect. We saw it this week with the vote on the person we wanted to head
the consumer protection bureau to stand up for consumers in this country so
they don`t get ripped off. And they voted no.
They are against the unemployment insurance maintaining the benefits
level until we get this economy to further and get back to work. They have
a problem with continuing the payroll tax cut, but when we talk about tax
cuts to millionaires and billionaires, they have no problem as it relates
to those customers and they don`t seek for those to be paid for. So it`s
clearly a double standard, and it seems like it`s anybody but the middle
SHARPTON: Well, Senator Menendez, you mentioned they blocked Richard
Cordray and they`ve also blocked 223 of the 1,132 executives and judicial
appointees. They keep doing it, but we`re going to keep fighting. Thank
you for coming on the show tonight.
MENENDEZ: Thank you.
SHARPTON: From the halls of Washington to the streets of cities
across America, people are fighting for fairness, especially in Wisconsin
where they are rallying today, right now, for jobs and justice, trying to
roll back Governor Scott Walker`s radical anti-union agenda.
Joining us now from the National Action Network rally in Milwaukee
is Richard Abelson, executive director of AFSCME Council 48. Rich, thank
you for joining me by phone. What`s the mood in Wisconsin today?
RICHARD ABELSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AFSCME COUNCIL 48: Reverend Al,
the Wisconsin struggle continues. The energy level is as strong now as it
was when Walker began his union busting attacks in February.
SHARPTON: People all over the country, other unions joining National
Action Network, the public workers are being laid off many have been laid
off and not rehired and unemployment has gone up in Wisconsin, not down.
We have got to confront the economic problem. When we look at the
unemployment rate going one way, the Wisconsin rate has gone quite the
other. We cannot let this fight go.
ABELSON: I couldn`t agree with you more, reverend. The Wisconsin
people are suffering from Walker`s programs and anti-worker, union busting,
and anti-middle class policies, and we`ve got to find a way to stop it.
SHARPTON: Yes. And let me say this. I think that it is important
that we see these coalitions across racial lines, class lines, labor and
civil rights coming together. But we must also make those in the Congress
that claim to be Democrats, progressives, stand up. This cannot just be a
fight for those that are no courage and afraid to be attacked by the other
ABELSON: That`s absolutely true, reverend. And in Wisconsin we have
another struggle going on. The recall efforts to recall Governor Walker
are in full swing and are going very well. Workers and unions, the faith
community, and citizens across Wisconsin are energized and engaged. People
in all walks of life are fighting to take back our state from Governor
Walker, his puppet masters the Koch brothers, and the rest of the right
wing ultra conservatives cronies of his.
SHARPTON: Rich Abelson, thank you for your time tonight. Good luck
as you work together in Milwaukee tonight. We`re going to be checking in
with others around the country. Thank you.
ABELSON: Thank you for having me.
SHARPTON: Ahead, the fight for jobs and justice. We`re in 25 cities
tonight rallying for fairness. Lee Sangers of AFSCME joins me on the fight
for the middle class.
Plus, Willard wants to destroy Medicare. Newt wants poor kids to be
janitors. How will President Obama run against the extreme?
And Trump gets dumped. And now he`s on the attack. You won`t believe
what he said about Michele Bachmann today. You`re watching POLITICSNATION
SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICSNATION. The Newt Gingrich surge is
driving Mitt Romney to the extreme right, all the way into the arms of Paul
Ryan, the man who wanted to end Medicare as we know it. Once upon a time
Newt thought the Ryan plan was a bad idea, and Willard is now slamming him
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Speaker Gingrich and I have
a very different view, for instance, with regard to Paul Ryan`s plan and
the need to fundamentally transform Medicare version 2.0.
This is a place where speaker Gingrich and I disagree. He calls this
a right-wing social engineering.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Folks, the Ryan budget was the most unpopular Republican
idea of the year. They must be smiling over at the White House. Joining
me now is Nia-Malika Henderson, "Washington Post" national reporter who
also writes for their election 2012 blog, and Victoria Del Francesco Soto,
visiting scholar at the University of Texas, Austin. Nia-Malika, isn`t the
Obama campaign thrilled that Willard is embracing the Ryan plan?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, "WASHINGTON POST": I imagine that they are
because this thing has already been put to the test. In New York, this
election back in May, New York 26 congressional district, and you saw the
Democrat trounce the Republican. This was a red district. They ran a
campaign all about the Ryan budget, all about his plans to turn Medicare
over into a voucher program, to turn Medicaid over into a block grant
system to the states. And they came out on the losing end, Republicans
did. So I think that Democrats --
SHARPTON: And they were expected to win that race.
HENDERSON: Exactly. Exactly.
SHARPTON: Victoria, it seems as though Willard is not thinking
general. He`s now desperately trying to deal with beating Newt Gingrich
now. Look at this ad that he has put out where he is really saying that
said that Newt is going to the far left of the Republican Party. I never
knew there was a far left or even a near left to the Republican Party. But
look at this ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t think right wing
social engineering is any more desirable than left wing social engineering.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is on the left wing of the Republican party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, if you look at the numbers, 65 percent of Americans
oppose changing Medicare. So even though it appears that Willard is trying
to go to the far right here, he really is making himself even less
electable if he is the nominee. And he`s using Mr. Pat Buchanan in
commercials. I understand in Iowa he`s using Ann Coulter. I mean, this
couldn`t get better if I wrote the script myself.
VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO SOTO, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS: And they are smiling
at the White House. I think they are giving themselves high-fives.
Looking at the primaries, since there`s no front-runner, we`re going to see
a very long and drawn out primary election, which means that all of the
candidates are going to keep moving right.
So what we`re seeing now is just the beginning because primary voters
are your more extreme voters, your party activists, and in order to get the
nomination, that`s who they need to cater to. But that`s going to hurt
them in the general.
SHARPTON: Now, one of the arguments Nia-Malika, that the Romney
people have made, is that he`s the one that`s electable. But if you look
at these new polls that say that if you look at the polls that are out to
date, Barack Obama, 49 percent, Newt Gingrich 40 percent. So he wins and
this poll was taken between November 14th and 20th. Obama beats him nine
percent. Gingrich, 45 -- I mean, I`m sorry, Romney, 45-44 during the same
period. So the argument that Mitt has been making is that I can tie the
president up better than Newt can. Does he hurt that? Does he erode that
by starting to take these extreme positions like the Ryan plan and
Americans understanding what the Ryan plan is in terms of changing Medicare
and other things?
HENDERSON: I think he does, because, again, senior citizens are among
the most reliable voters. And they are very protective of Medicare and I
think you are seeing him obviously make that move to the right. He`s
trying to get to the right of Newt Gingrich, which is really hard to do.
But that`s certainly it`s something that he`s trying to do. Not only on
Medicare have we seen that but also on immigration we`ve seen that with
But, again, if you look at this general election campaign, it`s
going to be about seniors turning out, about Latinos turning out. And the
more he tries to make this play for the far right of his party in Iowa and
try to make some noise there, we see him dumping millions of dollars in ads
over there. His super PAC is doing that. I think it does make him -- it
damages him for this general election campaign.
But I also think that this idea that he is the most electable
candidate against Barack Obama, it becomes less and less believable every
day as you see him stuck at 23 percent. If you can`t get out of the
primaries, then how do you win in the general?
SHARPTON: Now, Victoria, the president himself seems to have said,
OK, I`ve tried to work with these guys in a bipartisan way. It looks like
they will not come around. So if they want to start the election, let`s do
that. And he said this about what he is up against, how he`s trying to be
fair but this is what he`s facing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Their philosophy is
simple. We are better off when everybody is off to fend for themselves and
play by their own rules. I am here to say they are wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: That is the message that is going to resonate with the
people of this country.
SOTO: And people are scared. We have been weathering an economic
storm for the past three years. We are finally starting to clear it, and
we don`t want to see the boat rock. And I think that`s going to happen
with those more moderate Republicans and Democrats when they go to the
voting booth and say we don`t know what`s going to happen if we vote
And they`ve gone so to the extreme in these primaries, so I think this
is what is really going to help Obama is that people get nervous and they
don`t want the vote to tip.
SHARPTON: Victoria, Nia-Malika, thank you for your time tonight.
Have a great weekend.
HENDERSON: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Still ahead, our interview with the living legend of the
civil rights movement, Congressman John Lewis. We`ll talk about GOP
attempts to suppress the vote and set back the cause he fought and almost
lost his life for.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: It`s time for us to Occupy Wall Street, occupy Washington,
occupy Alabama. We just are getting started. We getting ready to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: At our jobs rally in October, we said we were just getting
started. Now we`re following up on that promise by taking the fight across
the country. Right now National Action Network and labor groups are
rallying in 25 cities calling for job and justice. We`re talking about
getting people back to work in the conversation we need to have.
Joining me now by phone, Congressman Robert Brady, Democrat of
Pennsylvania and a member of both the carpenters and teachers union.
Congressman Brady is about to speak at the rally on Philadelphia. Also on
the phone, Georgia state Representative Alicia Thomas Morgan, Democrat from
Atlanta. She`s at the rally in Atlanta.
Congressman Brady, let me start with you. You`re fighting for jobs
but Republicans back in Washington don`t seem to join you at any level in
fighting for the -- against the rich.
REP. ROBERT BRADY, (D) PENNSYLVANIA (via telephone): You know,
reverend, I can`t understand it. If they don`t like the jobs bill, what do
they like? They don`t want to put teachers back to work, they don`t want
to put fireman to work to protect us 24/7, their houses and emergency
workers back to work? What do they want? I can never understand what they
want. If they don`t like the bill and parts of the bill, what parts don`t
They want to sink the whole ship, the whole United States of America
to sink the captain. They`re doing everything they can to try to make
Barack Obama a one term president, and that`s not going to happen because
the people are going to rally around it. They understand the one percent
and 99 percent.
And what is the problem with the one percent? If I was in the one
percent, I wouldn`t mind paying my taxes. It`s America. Share. That`s
what we`re supposed to do, pay your fair share.
SHARPTON: People around the country ought to know right in your home
district, right there in Philadelphia, the average medium income, household
income is $28,261. That`s the average, median income to a household where
the national is $50,221. And they want to know why you are out there
rallying with labor and National Action Network tonight? Look at your
BRADY: That`s exactly why I`m rallying. We`re losing the middle
class and they must be the nonworking class and it`s crazy. I can`t
understand what they are thinking. They don`t want to give the penalty for
the employees. I don`t know what they want and they don`t know what they
SHARPTON: Well, we know what we want and we`re going to fight for it.
Thank you, and I`m going to let you go to speak to the rally. Give our
regards for all of the people in Philadelphia.
BRADY: I will.
SHARPTON: Let me go to Atlanta quickly. We have on our phone line
Representative Alicia Morgan. Alicia, thank you for joining us. I know
you have the rally in Atlanta. You have fought in the legislature there
around the question of unemployment and poverty. Let me show this to
people around the country -- 1.83 million people living below the poverty
line, one in four are children in the state of Georgia. In 2011, this is
unbelievable, Representative Morgan.
STATE REP. ALICIA THOMAS MORGAN, (D) GEORGIA (via telephone): It is
and it ought to make everybody in Georgia mad because you`re right,
Reverend Al, we have the highest poverty since 1983 in the state of
Georgia. We also have an unemployment rate at 10.2 when the rest of the
country is at 9.0. And so tonight, there`s a lot of work to do. And it`s
not just about. It`s about people struggling, don`t know how they are
going to eat, don`t know how they are going to pay the light Bill. This is
SHARPTON: Now, one of the things that we have to do is have sustained
struggles. People around the country need to mobilize but they also need
to be prepared to vote. The second part of the night is the justice issue,
voter I.D. You`re a young elected official, one of the most leading and
promising figures in your generation. How important is it for us to
protect the right to vote and not have those that are trying to change the
voting laws doing that without trying to back them up?
MORGAN: Listen, if we`re going to do anything about unemployment and
poverty, we have to have the right kind of people in office and I think
there is no better time than now than for people to understand the
connection between voting and the issues that affect our daily lives. And
I`m not a conspiracy theorist but it is by no accident that it started in
Georgia with voter I.D. where they tried to restrict and they were
successful in restricting the kind of I.D. that we could vote with and now
it`s happening all over the country. And Republicans are very clear. They
know they are wrong on policy. They know they`re wrong when it comes to
doing what`s right for working families. And so, how do they do it? They
try to restrict the access to the ballot. And so, we cannot allow that to
happen. You know, I`m in the home of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And we
will not stand by and let our voting rights be taken away from us and we
are not going back.
SHARPTON: State Representative Morgan, thanks so much for your time
tonight. And good luck in the rally in Atlanta.
MORGAN: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Up next, Willard`s mission to destroy Newt is in full
effect. But will he do it face-to-face? That`s next.
SHARPTON: It`s day two of Willard Romney`s mission to tear down from
runner Newt Gingrich. Another day, another national poll has Newt surging
but team Willard is going nasty. This ad from a pro-Romney pac is about to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Newt has a ton of baggage, like the fact that
Gingrich was fined $300,000 for ethics violations or that he took at least
$1.6 million from Freddie Mac just before it helps caused the economic
meltdown. Then there`s the $37 million Gingrich took from health care and
industry groups. And on the issues, Newt`s been on all sides.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Can Newt handle the heat? Joining me now, MSNBC analyst Richard
MSNBC contributor Maria Teresa Kumar, she`s the executive director of Voto
Latino. Thanks both of you for being here.
MARIA TERESA KUMAR, VOTO LATINO: Hi, Al.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC ANALYST: Thanks, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Richard, can Newt handle the heat?
WOLFFE: Sure he can. You know, politics in the `90s. I think he
probably remember it. So, it wasn`t exactly a game of t-ball. I mean, you
know, he`s used to the rough and tumble and he could punch just as hard, in
fact he already took punch Florida than your friend Mitt Romney. Because
Romney isn`t doing any of these attacks himself. He`s got his surrogates
out there. He`s trying to still be the nice guy. He could even say no in
person to Donald Trump. He had to say it was a scheduling problem. So,
until Romney defines himself and goes out and does the dirty work for
himself, people are going to question whether he has the spine to go up
against the President.
SHARPTON: Now, Maria, Newt reiterated in an interview today he`s
still going to have his campaign stay positive, while insinuating that an
attack on him will backfire. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My only observation is,
every time these guys have attacked each other, they have gone down. So, I
don`t know that being the attack dog in the voting party is necessarily,
you know, a big asset. That`s not a game I`m going to play. Mr. Romney
goes on the attack which is his problem. I really should the campaign with
(INAUDIBLE). My answers will be positive.
SHARPTON: Maria, Mr. Gingrich talking about attack dogs?
KUMAR: That was what I found most amusing is that if I think all of
us on this federal right remember when he was the attack dog. He knows how
to do it quite well. What I find interesting though is that he may be
reading the American public, specifically the Iowa caucus goers, how
basically they say, you know, what? We`re tired of dirty politics and Mitt
Romney really needs to walk a fine line that they are not saying, well,
wait a second, a couple of the things that you`re accusing them of,
especially the Medicare mandates and all of that, you supported that
legislation yourself, Mitt. So, why are you flip-flopping and accusing
Mitt to do so. I think that it`s also curious that both the Iowa caucuses
and the South Carolina primaries, over 60 percent of those that cast a
ballot were Christian. And I think that is something that is -- whether
that`s going -- you know, and I think that`s one of the reasons why they
are increasingly resonating with Newt and why all of a sudden, he`s
fighting his religion once again.
SHARPTON: Well, Richard, as we look at this, the GOP is the
establishment anyway seems to be quite disturbed with being hit by this
Newt surge. How are they going to handle it? Karl Rove is on the attack.
Romney has been caught with some of his supporters having a collective
strategy yet it seems like Newt keep`s surging. In some ways, the more
anti-establishment he looks, the more popular he becomes with some elements
of that party.
WOLFFE: Somehow they are managing to turn him into John McCain.
With, you know, McCain had been there for years, of course but he had
always poked the eye of the establishment. Newt was the establishment and
they are trying to make him out as if he`s not one of them. That only
plays into the idea that he`s some sort of truth teller who`s always been
against the power structure of Washington as opposed to the guy who
actually set up the modern Republican Party. I don`t know how this is
going to help him. I don`t know what constituency they think that bring to
him. Who does Karl Rove bring to the table here apart from the Koch
SHARPTON: Now, another one of the figures of the year, the Donald,
Mr. Trump. He first was a leading contender, then he was a leading power
broker but maybe he just kept it going too far. Because then he was going
to be the great convener. Moderate the debate. But now it looks like
nobody wants to come. He`s left with Newt Gingrich, Santorum, all of his
friends that came and quote, "kissed the ring" won`t come and let him
moderate a debate and really culminated with his great Donald endorsement.
And he seems to uncharacteristically be having second thoughts. Look at
this quote today on FOX Business. Today, when he was asked about hosting
just a two candidate debate. He said, I`ll have to look into it. Doesn`t
sound too affirmative for the vociferous, very definite Donald Trump that
we all know. What`s going on here? Do you think he`s getting cold feet or
that he`s been turned down cold as the problem, Maria?
KUMAR: Well, I think this is the closest that we`ve ever seen Donald
Trump to being sort of humble, Reverend and I think that`s amusing but
really I think he`s realizing that the American people, when politicians
just jump into the reality of the TV race, we all know how that turns out.
Palin had a flop. Everybody expected her, we all do wish to her to do so
for well, it was a flop. And unfortunately, he`s seen as the reality TV
king and at the end of the day, when American people, they appreciate their
-- they appreciate sensational television but they really want to
understand their politicians as leaders and I think that`s what he`s
understanding, that there is a clear demarcation between the fluff and when
people really want something that is substantive from the people that they
are going to be elected as their next leader.
SHARPTON: Richard, he seemed precisely violated when Michele Bachmann
turned him down. Let me quickly show you this. His answered a question on
FOX this morning. This is Mr. Trump talking about how he felt about
Michele Bachmann`s rejection.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, BUSINESSMAN: You know who I`m very disappointed,
Michele Bachmann, she come up to see me four times, four times, she`d call
me, she`s ask me for advice. She said I should be her vice presidential --
you know, if she wins, she would like to think about me for the vice
DON IMUS, HOST, "IMUS IN THE MORNING": That would work.
TRUMP: And then after all of that, she just announced she`s not going
to do the debate. It`s unbelievable.
IMUS: I`m surprised you like.
TRUMP: It`s actually called loyalty. How do you do that? I mean,
it`s amazing to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Loyalty in politics. Republican politics.
WOLFFE: After four visits, what kind of friendship did this man have?
And he is so rude about people who say no. Didn`t anyone teach him any
SHARPTON: Maria Teresa Kumar. Richard Wolffe. Thanks for your time.
Have a great weekend.
KUMAR: Thank you.
WOLFFE: Thanks, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Ahead, we wrap up our block to vote week with a very
special interview with Congressman John Lewis who nearly died marching for
voter rights in 1965.
Also, a group of republican lawyers prove my point about voter
SHARPTON: All this week, block the voters focus on coordinated right
wing efforts to suppress the vote. But we are not going to stand by and
let that happen. We`re fighting back. Because others before us were
beaten and killed while standing up for all Americans rights to equal
access to the polls. The turning point in the struggle happened on March
7th, 1965. Six hundred voting rights protesters attempted to march across
the Edmund Pettus Bridge from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. They were
confronted by police at the foot of the bridge. Georgia Congressman John
Lewis is a key leader in the civil rights movement. He was one of the men
leading the March that day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: Major Clow (ph) said, troopers advance.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: What happened next horrified the nation watching on
LEWIS: They came toward us beating us with night sticks, bull hips,
trampling us with horses, releasing the tear gas. I was hit in the head by
state trooper. I thought I was going to die.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: If you`re looking for the turning point in the
struggle for equality, this was it. The spectacle back known as bloody
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Joining me now is Congressman Lewis. Thank you for joining
me tonight, Congressman.
LEWIS: Well, thank you, Reverend Al. Thank you for all that you are
doing for all that you do. I`m delighted to be with you tonight.
SHARPTON: How do you feel today when we see the vote under assault
after you went through what you went through in `65 and thought you were
going to die, now you`re a member of Congress and they are trying to erode
these rights again?
LEWIS: Well, I feel very sad and distress that after all of the
struggle, after many of my colleagues and so many of my friends gave a
little blood on that bridge and others died in Alabama and Mississippi,
beaten in other parts of the country and all these years later, after the
signing of the voter rights by President Johnson, that still people around
all over America are trying to depress, take that voter away. The vote is
precious. It is almost sacred and to be able to participate in a
democratic process, to be able to cast a vote should be very simple, almost
like getting a glass of water.
SHARPTON: You and the movement of that time marched and got things
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEWIS: We`re marching today to dramatize to nation, dramatize to the
world that hundreds and thousands of Negro citizens of Alabama particularly
here in the Blight Gader (ph) denied the right to vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Right after you were beaten bloody on bloody Sunday, a week
later you sat with Dr. King I believed and watched President Lyndon Johnson
speak and deliver a voter`s speech to a Joint Session of Congress, we are
now sitting voter rights legislation to the Congress. You said Dr. King
cried that day?
LEWIS: Well, we all cried as we listened to Lyndon Johnson deliver
that speech to the nation and before Joint Session of Congress. And he got
to that point after presenting the voter rights act. He said, and we shall
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FMR. PRES. LYNDON JOHNSON, UNITED STATES: Really, it`s all of us who
must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice and we shall
LEWIS: That was the first time hearing an American president using
the theme song of the movement. I looked at Dr. King, tears came down his
face, and we all cried a little and Dr. King said, we will make it from
Selma to Montgomery and the Voter Rights Act will be passed. And he was
right. The Congress debated the act, passed it act, and it was signed into
law on August 6th, 1965, almost 47 years later. There are people who want
to subvert that act, make it almost impossible for people all across
America to cast a vote. One person, one vote. That is part of our
democratic process. It`s part of our democracy. And now people want to
make it hard, want to make it difficult with photo IDs in and early voting.
We cannot go back.
SHARPTON: You were the last of the active of the big six leaders of
the `60s of the voter rights movement. It must really gall you to see
people come back now with impediments, you have five states coming with
different laws, 34 states totally trying to do different things. We can`t
let you, Dr. King, Jimily Jackson (ph) who died and others down that fought
and gave their life. People need to understand, this was not automatic.
People died. People were beaten, you were beaten to a pulp to get us the
right to vote. This is serious.
LEWIS: Well, it is very serious and I think it`s important for
American people and especially the young people were not even a dream to
understand that people suffered. People bled, people died.
SHARPTON: These were all Americans that went to the deep South to
fight, is going to take all Americans to stand together today in the
tradition of Dr. King and John Lewis to fight the James Crow juniors who
are the children of the Jim Crow who fought 47 years ago.
LEWIS: We must continue to stand and stand together. We are one
people. We are one family. We are one house. We all live in an American
house. And if we`re going to hold American house together, all of our
citizen, it doesn`t matter whether we`re black or white, Latino, Asian
America, Native American, we all must be able to participate in a
SHARPTON: Congressman John Lewis, thank you so much for your words
tonight and for joining us tonight. Congressman Lewis.
LEWIS: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Next, some Republicans think they can prove voter fraud but
they actually proved voter suppression. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: All week we`ve been playing out how the GOP claims of voter
fraud are ridiculous but the Republican Lawyer`s Association is trying to
prove us wrong. Counting every conviction of prosecution across the
country since 1997. So, what do they come up with? Three hundred eleven
cases. Yap, only 311 cases. But we saw more than 593 million votes cast
in that same period. That`s a fraud rate? That`s a fraud rate of 0.00005
percent. That`s the lowest rate we`ve seen on this show. So, thanks
Republicans, for proving our point for us.
Joining me now, Lee Saunders, secretary of treasury of the American
Federation State County Municipal Employees. The nation`s largest union
for public service workers and Lee co-chaired the jobs is justice march in
October in Washington. He`s in Washington tonight. He`s co-chairing these
25 cities tonight. Lee, we spoke with a couple of cities as they are
gathering. I`m going to Harlem when I get off to join the gathering there.
You`re in Washington. But the justice side of this, the voter ID, you
heard this very moving conversation I had with Congressman Lewis. The last
of the six who was beaten to get this right to vote. We`re not talking now
about guys argue on who want to vote. We`re talking about people trying to
overhaul the whole system of how we vote. And this clearly is a threat to
the working class people that you and your union represent.
LEE SAUNDERS, SECRETARY-TREASURER, AFSCME: Well, Al, it`s treat to
working families but it`s their agenda and their agenda is very clear.
Their agenda is to rob us of our freedoms, to rob us of our voices, whether
it`s taking collective bargaining away from us and from the State of
Wisconsin, or on the State of Ohio, or whether it`s taking voting rights
away from us. And that`s why it`s so important that`s in these cities
where we`re having these rallies today, those 25 cities, we`ve got to grow
the number of those cities where we have these kinds of rallies. I believe
the American people get it. They understand now that there is a clear
Those who want to support, the one percent, the billionaires, the
millionaires who continue to get those tax increases, who continue to see
that they are moving, they`re trying to move this country in their
direction or they are going to support the 99 percent of folks who are
trying to play by the rules every single day who were trying to make ends
meet, the support working families moving through the middle class. And I
think that that distinction is very clear and people are understanding the
difference and we`ve got to continue that momentum.
SHARPTON: Now, Lee, as we look at the facts, unemployment, jobs in
this country, let me show you the unemployment data for November. African-
Americans are 15.5 percent unemployed nationally, according to the
Department of -- the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Hispanics, 11.4.
National rate, 8.6. African-Americans almost double the rate. When we
look at that climate, 8.6 is an improvement but it`s clearly high. We look
at that climate, the next battle is unemployment insurance. How costly
would it be if benefits ran out? Six million people lose benefits next
year. 1.8 million cut off within a month. That`s why we`re rallying
tonight. This is incredible.
SAUNDERS: We`ve got to fight to extend unemployment insurance
benefits. We`ve got to fight to make sure that that payroll tax cut
remains in effect. I mean, it`s just unbelievable to me that you have
these conservatives on Capitol Hill who are continuing to provide these tax
breaks to billionaires, yet they will not provide $1500 a year to the
middle class and to working class who need those kinds of breaks. This is
a clear distinction that we must understand and I think people are getting
SHARPTON: You know, people think we just marching rally for nothing.
But look at Ohio. They made a law, you made the call, all of us. I went
in three times with you. AFSCME were on the ground. People turned that
law around. We won that in November. If you fight, you can win and we`re
going to continue to fight, Mr. Saunders.
SAUNDERS: We sure will, Al. And we`re going to be walking hand in
hand with you.
SHARPTON: Lee Saunders, thank you for your time tonight. Thank you
all for watching to all of you. Have a great weekend. I`m Al Sharpton.
"HARDBALL" starts right now.
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