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Friday, December 30, 2011

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Guests: Ed Rendell, Richard Wolffe, Nia-Malika Henderson, Perry Bacon, Steve Kornacki, Joe Madison, Maria Teresa Kumar

REV. AL SHARPTON, HOST: Time for Mitt Romney to eat his words.

Tonight, the quarter-billion dollar man has the gall to claim
President Obama is out of touch.

Willard, I think you`ve left your sense of irony back in one of those
many mansions you own.

And Newt breaks down on the campaign trail. Will it change how voters
view him just four days before the Iowa caucus?

Plus, our special predictions for 2012: the winners, the losers, and
all of the big surprises.

Buckle your seat belt. It`s going to be a wild year.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN AND PRESIDENT, THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION: I can`t
give up that possibility of running. I just feel I owe it to myself.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This president is going to
be a one-term president.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Who would offer
the best answer? And I think we have the best answer, and I think the
people will conclude that.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The American people are
going to have a good choice and it`s going to be a good debate.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

With just four days to go before Iowa caucus, Mitt Romney is trying to
win Republican votes by launching a whole new attack on President Obama.
And this attack takes the cake.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: The other day President Obama said, you know, "It could be
worse." That was his line, "It could be worse." Can you imagine hearing
that from a pessimistic president, "It could be worse"? That goes down
with Marie Antoinette, "Let them eat cake."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, in case you skipped that day in French class, Marie
Antoinette was the wealthy queen who supposedly told starving peasants they
should simply eat cake. Now, think about that. Mitt Romney, of all
people, is actually comparing Marie Antoinette to Barack Obama.

Mitt Romney -- his personal wealth is between $190 million and $250
million, yet somehow he thinks he`s part of the middle class.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: We`ve got to provide help to the people who have been hurt
most by the Obama economy. And that`s the middle class. It`s not those at
the very low end, it`s certainly not those at the very high end. It`s for
the great middle class, the 80 percent to 90 percent of us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: "Eighty percent to 90 percent of us"? Mitt, now that`s
rich.

We`re talking about a man who`s expanding the size of his $12 million
home in California. It`s too small for him. And who has this message for
people who could lose their homes --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Don`t try and stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its
course and hit the bottom.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: This is the man who says corporations are people and seems
to think that real people don`t count unless they`re rich.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Corporations are people, my friend.

CROWD: No, they`re not.

ROMNEY: Of course they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately
goes to people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: This is the man who got rich at Bain Capital laying off
workers and sending some of the companies into bankruptcy after he bought
the bankruptcy.

Barack Obama as Marie Antoinette? I don`t think so, Willard.

I think what you`re trying to do is play the whole game that is often
played of just smear, smear, smear, don`t get into content, don`t get into
real policy, just throw out names and hope that people will believe them,
because you`re going to repeat them, because you`ve been using this Marie
Antoinette line four, five times. I think that people understand the
difference between those that are trying to support working people and
those that are trying to fool them.

Joining me now is NBC News political analyst Ed Rendell, former DNC
chairman and Pennsylvania governor, and MSNBC analyst Richard Wolffe.

First, I want to make a note that NBC Universal and Bain Capital, the
company Romney cofounded, are each part owner of the Weather Channel, but
that obviously isn`t affecting how we report on Romney`s record.

Now, Governor Rendell, what`s your reaction to this Marie Antoinette
line from Romney?

ED RENDELL, NBC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it`s two things.

Number one, what President Obama said about it could be worse, it was
worse. When he took over as president, we were losing 750,000 jobs a
month. Now we`ve experienced over -- almost a straight year of job gain.

So not only could it be worse, it was worse. And we`re coming back.
Not as much as you would like, Al, or I would like, or the president would
like, but we are turning the corner. So, could it be worse? The president
is absolutely right.

But for Mitt Romney to use that analogy, it makes no sense. It`s, as
you say, easily deflatable when you consider his great personal wealth, the
fact that, at a time when people are losing their homes, he`s expanding
his. But more importantly, I think it`s just dumb politics. As you said,
it`s going to turn people off.

I thought when Mitt Romney earlier in the campaign said President
Obama`s a good man, he`s trying hard, he`s doing the best he can, I like
him, but he`s just not competent to do the job, I think that`s an argument
that people hear and say, well, yes, I like the president. And it doesn`t
seem like things are working, so that`s a good argument, but to call him
names and to compare him to Marie Antoinette, I think that`s
counterproductive and, in the long run, will cast Governor Romney in a bad
light.

By the way, things were worse, Governor Romney. They were a whole lot
worse.

SHARPTON: I think that it`s kind of an overreach, Richard, when,
first of all, if you look at the record, when President Bill Clinton passed
the baton, so to speak, the White House took George Bush, we were a surplus
economy. Look at where we were, how deep in the deficit, where that
deficit was, compared to the GDP, when Bush left the White House. And
rather than argue the policies of Bush and what happened, or defend it,
since he is one to be the standard-bearer of Bush`s party, to name-call is
just outright irresponsible, and the facts won`t bear that out, Richard.

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC ANALYST: Well, I suspect we`re going to hear
more of that kind of name-calling, but it`s a really curious twist from
someone like Mitt Romney.

For a start, I think he`s probably looking at the same kind of polls
everyone else is, which is that he rates very, very badly on whether he
understands and relates to people like you. He just doesn`t do empathy,
doesn`t really get what`s going on in the economy for the middle class, and
so he`s resorting to this play. But if you`re going to be a man of the
people, do you really want to quote an obscure wife of a French aristocrat?

I just don`t think that`s how you connect with middle America. And by
the way, for someone who speaks French as fluently as Mitt Romney, he has
got the whole story wrong.

The whole point of Marie Antoinette, at least in the mythologized this
version, is that she didn`t have any empathy for working folks. That`s not
what the president said.

Marie Antoinette didn`t say, you know, it`s only because of me that
there`s even cake out there. That might have been an analogy. It`s not a
good analogy, it shows actually how disconnected he is, and it starts to
fit into this character story about him -- why do oppose taxes on the super
wealthy? Well, you happen to be worth up to $250 million, and you seem to
think people understand about Marie Antoinette.

SHARPTON: Well, that is an assumption he`s obviously operating under.

But Governor, at the same time, let`s deal with the policy, because at
the end of the day, what we put into -- what we make as legislation is
what`s going to matter. He has come out and supported a Paul Ryan plan,
and that plan would cut $127 billion in food stamp funding.

I mean, if anyone is talking about "Let them eat cake" and is
insensitive to people, how do you endorse the Ryan plan and then say that
the president is acting like Marie Antoinette? I mean, hypocrisy in
capital letters might be due here.

RENDELL: Yes. I think that`s one of the big problems for not only
Governor Romney, but all the Republican candidates. The rhetoric is good,
but when they have to support it with facts, it falls woefully apart.

You know, it used to be, Al, that food stamps was something used only
by the very, very poor. Today, one out of 10 Pennsylvania families are
using food stamps. That`s shocking.

It`s your neighbor that`s using food stamps right now. And it`s a
very, very important program. And to eviscerate it at a time like this by
making those type of cuts is not only insensitive, but it`s also bad for
the economy, because food stamps is the single most stimulative thing for
the economy, because they have to be spent in the month that they`re
issued. So we know they`re spent.

SHARPTON: Well, let me ask you to pause right there, Governor. If
you think that was insensitive, how about while the president and others
dealt with saving the auto industry, Willard wrote in "The New York Times"
an op-ed -- this is his writing -- this is not even a quote -- he wrote the
op-ed entitled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt."

So, I mean, does he really want to get into this conversation about
who`s insensitive to working class and poor people? Cut food stamps, let
Detroit go bankrupt, but President Obama is Marie Antoinette.

RENDELL: And look, I think that`s one of the instances where
President Obama showed real political courage. It would have been easy to
make the auto companies the bad guys and beat up on them and let them go
bankrupt, but that wouldn`t have been good for the American worker, and not
just in the auto companies, but Al, there`s so many Pennsylvania companies
that are dependent on the auto industry because they make component parts.
And they would have been crushed as well if we let the American auto
industry go down.

And look what happened. The American automobile industry is back,
it`s back in full force. Ford just announced they`re going to be adding
1,200 jobs in Cleveland, Ohio, an area that really needs good-paying jobs.

SHARPTON: Richard, he even joked about being unemployed. Now, here`s
a man worth $190 million to $250 million. And look at what he said about
him and being unemployed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Well, maybe I should also tell my story. I`m also
unemployed.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That`s very funny if you have a job. It`s very funny if
you`re worth $190 million to $250 million. But if you`re part of the 8.6
percent of people unemployed, and if you`re with the party that was saying
let`s cut off the unemployment insurance benefits, it`s not funny, Richard.

WOLFFE: No, it`s not funny, and yes, we should all be unemployed like
him.

This is someone who -- you know, John Kerry was portrayed as being out
of touch because he liked to wear surfing shorts and go kite boarding.
Here is a man who is refusing -- you should see Andrea Mitchell`s interview
with him. He`s refusing to release his tax returns, saying he`s got
nothing to hide, by the way, even though he refuses to release those tax
returns, and yet, at the same time, is saying that a tax rise on the super
wealthy is unacceptable.

If he`s wealthy, that`s great. If he`s unemployed because he`s just
counting his money all day, that`s fine, it`s great for him. But his
policy is also shaped in a way that wants to put the burden on working
people, on those at the bottom end, on those people who are trying to
extend -- who need an extension of unemployment insurance.

So, are his policy positions skewed by his experience at Bain Capital
or by his personal wealth? You have to suspect that the answer is yes.

SHARPTON: But let me say this, Richard, and Governor, before I let
you guys go. With all this talk about Marie Antoinette, and with all of
this talk about French history, I think it`s important that we let people
understand that there is one guy who actually speaks French in this race.

Take a look back when Willard was working on the 2002 Olympics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: (SPEAKING FRENCH).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Willard, Marie Antoinette is not Barack Obama.

Ed Rendell, Richard Wolffe --

RENDELL: Happy New Year, Al.

SHARPTON: That was my New Year`s gift for you.

RENDELL: That was a great present.

SHARPTON: Thanks for your time tonight. Have a happy new year and
thank you for working with us this year.

RENDELL: Enjoyed it.

SHARPTON: Ahead -- whoa, Willard. With four days to go until Iowa,
Romney`s leading the polls. Can someone else finish up on top?

And it`s cold in Iowa, but I don`t think that`s what caused Rick
Perry`s latest brain freeze.

Plus, will the Tea Party end up losing big in 2012? And will
candidates like Elizabeth Warren bring home major victories?

Our 2012 predictions are coming up.

You`re watching POLITICS NATION live on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION.

A lot of folks still can`t believe it, but a brand new NBC poll is the
latest sign that Mitt Romney could actually win the Iowa caucus. Willard
is leading the pack with 23 percent of the GOP vote. Ron Paul is right
behind him at 21 percent. Rick Santorum, in third, with 15 percent, and
Newt Gingrich, he`s fallen behind Rick Perry to fifth place.

It`s been a tough few weeks for Newt, who`s been hammered by a wave of
brutal attack ads. And the strain may be showing.

Check out what happened today on the campaign trail.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What moment do you think of when you think of your
mom?

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I mean, first of
all, you`ll get me all teary-eyed.

My whole emphasis on brain science comes indirectly from dealing with
-- see? But dealing with the real problems of real people in my family.
And so it`s not a theory. It`s, in fact, you know, my mother.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It reminds many of us of another candidate who showed their
emotion on the campaign trail back in 2008.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I have
so many opportunities from this country. I just don`t want to see us fall
backwards. You know?

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That was the day before the New Hampshire primary, where
Clinton pulled off an upset victory.

Joining me now, live from Des Moines, is Nia-Malika Henderson, a
national reporter for "The Washington Post" who also follows the
presidential race in the post-2012 election blog, and Perry Bacon Jr., an
MSNBC contributor and politics editor for TheGrio.com.

Thanks to both of you for being here tonight.

Now, Nia, I`m not one that`s cynical at all, because I`ve been out
there, and you can get emotional. I`m very emotional about my mother, who
is sick. I certainly felt people were being harsh to Hillary in 2008.

But I`m interested in, does this humanize to the voters, Newt, who
comes off at this detached scholar type? How is it -- the reaction to
voters there in Iowa?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, NATIONAL REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": You
know, it absolutely does humanize him. And I think it`s hard to look at
that clip and not get emotional.

Here`s a man who is in the middle of this campaign, race, talking
about his late mom, so it definitely was an emotional and real moment. And
I think it`s hard to look at that cynically.

But I think one of the issues here is that Newt Gingrich doesn`t
necessarily have a problem with coming across as a feeling and humanized
figure. His main problem is that Mitt Romney has been hammering him with
ads on the air here, really casting him as a guy who can`t be trusted, and
really making this case that is essentially Mitt Romney versus the nutty
professor. That`s his issue.

And he, at this point, doesn`t have enough time necessarily to combat
that idea that is really uppermost in voters` minds. We`ve seen this slide
over the last days. He`s in fourth or fifth place in these polls, and you
see a candidate that is obviously very emotional and looking at these
polls.

Let`s remember, two or three weeks ago he was very brazenly saying
that he would likely be the GOP nominee. If you look at these polls now,
that`s not what`s looking like is going to be a reality for Newt Gingrich.

SHARPTON: Well, now, Perry, let me show you one of those ads. The
Romney PAC people succeeded in bringing Newt down with harsh attack ads
like these. Look at this ad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- has more baggage than the airlines. Freddie
Mac helped cause the economic collapse, but Gingrich cashed in. As
Speaker, Gingrich even supported taxpayer funding of some abortions.

Newt supports amnesty for illegal immigrants and teamed with Nancy
Pelosi and Al Gore on global warming. Gingrich was fined $300,000 by a
Republican Congress for ethics violations.

The Gingrich record? Thirty years in Washington, flip-flopping on
issues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, Perry, when you come and look at the graph, December
11th Newt was at 31 percent. He slides all the way down now to December
30th, 14 percent. These ads have been effective, Perry.

PERRY BACON, JOY-ANN REID, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely. They`ve
been effective. And you also have the other candidates have piled on
Gingrich as well.

And the difference between he and Hillary Clinton in `08 was Hillary
Clinton was in a race with Obama and she only had to pass one person.
Gingrich`s emotional moment, even if it worked, it`s hard to imagine he
would pass Santorum, Paul and Romney. I mean, he is way down now, and it
just may be, no matter what he shows, too little too late at this point.

SHARPTON: Now, again, I`m not saying that it was a political
strategy, but everything that happens, there`s voter reaction.

But Nia, let me ask you this -- let`s get to Willard, who everybody is
now saying may do something no one thought he would do. And that is he may
really win the Iowa caucus.

What is interesting to me about Willard -- we did a little research
here -- he is today at 22 percent in the polls. But in 2008, he actually
won 25 percent of the vote when he lost to Mike Huckabee.

He is polling today lower than he actually received in 2008, so there
is no real great enthusiasm. Even though he may win, it is not a win that
seems to be full with a lot of energy, Nia.

HENDERSON: Yes. If he wins, I don`t think it`s going to be a
resounding victory for him. And it probably won`t be a resounding victor
for anybody. It will probably be 25 percent, 22 percent to the next guy,
and 15, 16 percent to number three. And then you`ll have a bunch of the
real social conservatives down there, Bachmann, Perry, coming in fourth,
fifth, sixth and seventh.

And I think that`s how it`s going to look. But I think you have seen
a different Romney over these last couple of days.

He`s more open with the press. He`s been giving interviews to Real
Clear Politics and Huffington Post, something that he wasn`t doing a couple
of weeks ago. So he does seem to be out there enjoying himself even for
the first time and really sensing that his strategy of, in some ways,
downplaying Iowa for these last many weeks, and spending time on New
Hampshire, actually has paid off because of this very, very strategic and
swift blow against Newt Gingrich over these last weeks.

And this was a strategy that worked in part because he was able to do
this through super PACs, so his hands are clean in many ways. He`s not
going to get that taint of being the negative campaigner because he`s going
to be able to say, hey, look, it wasn`t me, it was my super PAC.

SHARPTON: Yes.

But, Perry, he can`t relax even if he pulls this off in Iowa, because
if you look at how the polling is, the anti-Romney conservative candidates
take nearly half of the Iowa voters. If this vote comes out this way,
Santorum is at 15; Rick Perry, 14; Gingrich, 13; Bachmann, 6. That`s 48
percent of the voters there. That`s almost half the voters.

If these numbers in any way hold up, he still has a major problem,
Willard does, with the far right of his party, which could spell problems
for him down the road, and certainly in enthusiasm in a general election,
if in fact he ends up being the nominee.

BACON: The big challenge for Romney next in terms of the primary, if
he won Iowa he`d probably win New Hampshire, too, because he used to be
governor of a state right now there. In South Carolina, the next place
that has lots of conservative voters, and if, like, a Perry and a Santorum
dropped out at that point, or some of the candidates dropped out, and the
conservatives rallied around one candidate in South Carolina, they really
could do well, but I don`t think that`s going to happen.

I think all these guys want to stay in the race, so I think Romney
ends up doing pretty well. And looking forward to the general election, I
agree with you, conservatives don`t really love Romney, but they really
don`t like President Obama. So I think he will fire them up enough. I
think Romney will probably be fine with conservatives if he wins the
nomination.

SHARPTON: All right.

Well, I want to thank you, Nia-Malika. And by the way, Nia, if you
run into Willard, since he`s doing interviews, tell him he can come on
POLITICS NATION any night he wants. I work holidays.

(LAUGHTER)

HENDERSON: I will extend that invitation.

SHARPTON: Nia-Malika Henderson, and Perry Bacon, Jr., thanks for your
time tonight.

BACON: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Happy New Year to both of you.

HENDERSON: Happy New Year to you, too, Rev.

BACON: Yes. Thanks.

SHARPTON: Up next, Perry has another brain freeze on the campaign
trail. Let`s see if I can jog his memory with a little fact check.

And here at POLITICS NATION we had a lot of reasons to laugh this
year, but more importantly, we drew attention to the issues that matter. A
look back, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: By Iowa standards, it`s really not that cold this week, but
Rick Perry still managed to have another very public brain freeze. At a
campaign events in Cedar Rapids, a voter asked Perry about his criticism of
Supreme Court case Lawrence versus Texas, the 2003 case brought the
landmark decision to strike down homophobic anti-so many my laws in Texas
and other states. But Perry didn`t remember that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK PERRY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I wish I could tell you I
knew every Supreme Court case. I don`t. We can sit here and, you know,
play I got you questions on what about this Supreme Court case or whatever,
but let me tell you, you and I know that the problem in this country is
spending in Washington, D.C., it`s not some Supreme Court case.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: A got you question? I don`t think so. Lawrence versus
Texas was a huge deal. It ended anti-gay laws that criminalized sex
between consenting adults, and Perry`s talked about it in the past. He
defended the law when the Supreme Court took the case in 2002. He also
wrote about the case in his book, which came out just last year. He said
that the decision was made by nine oligarchs in robes. And of course this
wasn`t the first time Perry forgot something on the trail.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERRY: Commerce, education and the -- what`s the third one there?
Let`s see.

Activist judges, whether it was -- um -- no, not the so...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Sotomayor.

PERRY: Sotomayor.

Those of you that will be 21 by November the 12th, I ask for your
support and your vote.

Sorry. Oops.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And since the oops moments began, Perry sunk in the polls.
He`s fallen 31 percent since August. Sorry, Rick, but I think we just saw
why the voters forgot you.

Still ahead, our predictions for 2012. What will the final head to
head look like and who will both parties look to as a vice presidential
nominee?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back to our final show of the year. Last week we
brought you the Review Awards for 2011.

Now we`re going to pull out our crystal ball in peer into the future
with some predictions for 2012. Make sure your DVR is rolling, folks.
Because you`ll want to remember all the things we got wrong this time next
year.

Joining me now in my fearless panel of fortune tellers, Joe Madison,
host of morning on Madison on Sirius XM radio. Maria Teresa Kumar,
executive director of Voto Latino and MSNBC contributor and with me here in
New York, Steve Kornacki, political columnist for Salon.com. Let`s get
started, fist to Iowa caucus. We`re just four days away and a lot of these
republican candidates sound optimistic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERRY: Frankly right here in Iowa, I`ve seen the kind of surgeon
enthusiasm, I need to have confidence, I`ll do pretty darn well here.

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will provide the spark.
There`s plenty of tinder on the ground that will start burning in these
other states.

MICHELE BACHMANN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Iowans are getting
that, they`re making that decision we`re going to do very well a caucus
night.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But who will it be? Who will win Iowa? Steve, let`s start
with you.

STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM: Well, you know, I`m always worried, these
people who likes to go for the long shot who maybe has some legs and I
would get Mitt Romney`s probably the favorite right now, but I would go
with the dark horse, I would say Rick Santorum. The theory being with the
support for Rick Perry, for Bachmann, for Gingrich kind of melt away in
these final few days. And the Christian rights really set this on Santorum
and I don`t 28, 29 percent. Maybe he wins with that. So that`s where I
would put my money right now.

SHARPTON: So, you would go with Rick Santorum with your prediction to
win Iowa next Tuesday, Joe?

JOE MADISON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Mitt Romney. And I think it`s not
necessarily because he`s the better candidate. Iowa has had losers who
can`t even make it to the nomination of the party. People have spent $10
million. Republicans, now look, they`ve got to have a winner sooner or
later, because the next presidential cycle, quite honestly what`s going to
happen, people will start ignoring Iowa. This is a caucus not a primary.
So, I think what`s happening is that the folks who are participating in the
caucus will start to cut deals and they`re going to look for a winner. And
that`s going to be Mitt Romney. Without that, I think the next
presidential cycle, it won`t make that, Iowa won`t be that big a deal, so
Mitt Romney?

SHARPTON: Mitt Romney, all right. That`s your prediction, Joe,
Maria?

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, VOTO LATINO: I feel a little underdressed this
time. Where are the tuxes, Al?

SHARPTON: That we do on the Revies. This is not in a war, this is
your predictions.

KUMAR: Yes, I understand.

SHARPTON: You predictions have to be right, so you can come back on
the Revies. I have a long memory.

KUMAR: No pressure there. Well, actually my prediction is with Mitt.
One of the things that Joe is saying, but also because I think Santorum,
he`s just been in the limelight a little too soon to actually be able to
gather all of the votes that he needs for the caucus-goers. In reality
what`s going to happen is that he`s splintering it, because the
evangelicals in Iowa can`t get their act together and coalesce under one
candidate. That said, I think it is telling the fact that Mitt is actually
underperforming from the last time he was there in 2008 and I think
something to watch it that Huntsman has yet to be in the limelight, and the
fact that he`s spending a lot of time in New Hampshire by passing Iowa, I
think that`s going to be a contest and the person to watch.

SHARPTON: All right. This time last year, who could have predicted
the rise of Herman Cain or the death of Bin Laden? So, what would be the
biggest surprises for 2012, Joe?

MADISON: It will be Hillary Clinton on the ticket with Barack Obama.

SHARPTON: As secretary of state?

MADISON: No, as vice president.

SHARPTON: Of the United States?

MADISON: I am going with what former Governor Doug Wilder has said.
We`ve talked about it, and matter of fact, I think that`s what`s going to
happen.

SHARPTON: Joe Biden has done a great job as vice president. Why
would they change?

MADISON: Well, because you want to won, groom the next vice president
for the next presidential cycle. She would be perfect too. Can you
imagine the reaction of women in this country to have her in that position?
That`s my prediction. And we can put a wager on it. I don`t have $10,000,
but I can take you to Ben`s Chili Bowl.

SHARPTON: All right. Let me bring in Maria. Maria, what do you
think will be a big surprise in 2012?

KUMAR: I think the big surprises that the American voter is waking up
and saying, you know, what? Washington is broken, but I`m definitely going
to start paying attention. I think Joe hit the nail on the head as far as
women saying, you know, what? You have to stop the assault on women`s
right. Latinos are saying we have to stop racial profiling, and then
you`re also going to see the average youth voter saying, you know what? I
can have a scene idea, I`m going to the polls. And basically, this is
nonsense with the voter ID laws. I think actually the American voters can
be the biggest surprise.

SHARPTON: All right. The year of the voters. Steve, what do you
think is the big surprise?

KORNACKI: Well, at the risk of going 0 for two in my first
predictions here, I`m going to say Ron Paul runs as a third-party candidate
in the general election, and the theory there is basically, you know, he`s
got a very loyal following. It`s not going to be enough to win the
republican nomination. Maybe he wins Iowa. You know, he can gobble up a
lot of delegates, but the party has really turned on him aggressively here.
I think that you resented a lot. He`s 76 years old, he`s already said,
he`s not going to run for reelection to the House. And this is sort of his
last run. And if you resent what the party`s done to him. If he doesn`t
feel like he belongs in the Republican Party, he has his army of, you know,
I don`t know, three, four million people, I think there`s a scenario there
where he goes and he does what he did in 1988, he goes to the libertarian
party and he says, I`ll be your general election candidate.

SHARPTON: Does that help the president?

KORNACKI: Yes, I know, I think it all comes from the republican side,
because there`s sort of a funky mix of people there who are behind Ron
Paul. But disproportionately that`s got to hurt the Republicans more than
hurts Barack Obama. And we`re talking about a very close election next
fall. You know, one two point if that`s the difference poll makes, that
could be the difference between winning and losing for Obama.

SHARPTON: I have to ask, what do you think about Joe`s prediction
about dropping Vice President Biden and replacing him with Hillary Clinton?

KORNACKI: Well, I don`t have $10,000, but I`ll bet $10,000 on that
not happening.

SHARPTON: What about you, Maria?

KUMAR: I think it`s attractive, but I think at the same time,
President Obama is still very much needs Joe Biden. He definitely needs
Pennsylvania, and he still makes a lot of folks that might be uncomfortable
with them accessible by having Biden on the ticket.

SHARPTON: I respect Mrs. Clinton, but if it`s not broke, why fix it?
Joe, Steve, Maria Teresa, I`d like you all to stay with me right there.
We`ll be right back, we have a lot more predictions ahead. Willard is most
likely to get the nomination, but who will be his running mate? And who
will win in November. We will peer little deeper into our crystal ball.
You`ll want to peer with me. Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Keep the DVR rolling folks. We`re not done making
predictions. Still to come, and the key to winning in November. That`s
next on "Politics Nation."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: I`m back for some more 2012 predictions with my panelists
Joe Madison. Maria Teresa Kumar and Steve Kornacki. So, everyone here
agrees Mitt Romney will probably be the GOP nominee, but the bigger
question is, who will be his running mate?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You can`t eliminate anybody
as a possible VP contender.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I don`t think there`s anybody,
you know, in America who would, you know, necessarily think my personality
is best suited to being number two.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Would you want to be a
presidential nominee with me as your vice presidential nominee?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So, who`s got the golden ticket for 2012, Steve?

KORNACKI: Well, I think what we`ll predict is that we`ll going to
hear an awful lot about Chris Christie being the VP, and it won`t by Chris
Christie at the end of the day. I think that would the red herring in this
thing because first of all, he had such a big personality. If you`re Mitt
Romney or anybody else, you don`t want to risk your VP overshadowing you, I
think the bigger thing though in these ties into the decision Romney is
going to have to make is that Christie is sort from the moderate northeast
wing of the party. That`s the knock on Romney if your republican. That`s
the reason he`s had such a weird 2011 because there`s so much suspicion, so
much resistance among conservatives, the idea that Romney really one of us.

So, I think the challenge and so is Mitt Romney, the challenge he`s
going to have and what`s going to make this complicated is he has to use
the VP pick to prove to the conservative base that he`s really one of them.

SHARPTON: So, who do you pick on the far right candidate that.

KORNACKI: So, the name that`s been out there for a long time is been
Marco Rubio, the senator from Florida, but there might be some baggage
there with sort of the way his talked about his family`s immigration
industry, financial stuff. A wild card name I`ve heard a little bit is the
governor of New Mexico, Suzanne Martinez, you know, maybe even a guy like
Paul Ryan, to put that out there, somebody who does instantly proves to the
conservative base, you know, this is one of ours, we don`t have to worry
about this guy at all, and this shows that Romney really is...

SHARPTON: Maria, what do you think about Martinez or Rubio? Who do
you think would be a likely pick of, let`s say if Willard is the nominee?

KUMAR: I think what he doesn`t want to do is that he doesn`t want to
go for someone who hasn`t been really tested tried and through. We also
what happened with McCain when he chose Palin, and both Suzanne Martinez,
she`s the first term governor, won to finish that race. And the same thing
goes for Marco Rubio, who is never held an executive position and his
basically fairly new. The only thing really going for them is that they
have a Latino surname. But that`s not enough to motivate Latinos to go to
the polls to vote for him or to stand on immigration. And we could go down
the line. The person that I think that he actually has a good shot with
him, he would actually mashed very well with, would be Mitch Daniels from
Indiana.

And he`s a Washington insider, in the sense that he was director of
OMB, so he understands the economic restructuring that the government
needs. But he`s also laid out on the very sensible policies in the book
that he recently released, in September talking about how everybody needs
to sacrifice, how we do need to change Social Security, how we do need to
change Medicare, how we do need to change the educational system, but it`s
not so extreme, so that when he actually goes on a platform toe to toe with
let`s say someone like Biden, he sounds reasonable moderate and he will
help galvanize the moderate base.

SHARPTON: Maria, that`s a sure sign he may be getting ready to run,
he`s got a book is out. Most candidates and the Republican Party, the book
is a sure sign. Joe, who`s going to be the one you think Mr. Willard
Romney might put on the ticket if he`s the nominee?

MADISON: I believe it is going to be a southern senator who is strong
in the evangelical bloc voting group. The biggest problem Mitt Romney`s
going to have is the south with that evangelical. That`s the 800-pound
gorilla in the room that nobody wants to talk about. They really have
problems with him, and I`ll say it, being a Mormon. And turning out that
base. And I think it`s going to be a southern senator. Who? Honestly, I
don`t know. Pick one, but it`s got to be somebody from the south who is
well-liked with evangelicals.

SHARPTON: All right. Let me do this last round real fast because
we`re running out of time. Our last prediction, the big one -- who will
win the election? My producers tell me all our panelists are on the same
page with this one. Maria?

KUMAR: I think it`s going to be Barack Obama, but he has some lot of
homework to do because he`s very close. One, Eric Holder has to go and
continue going after states with voter ID laws. I think that`s going to be
the largest one. His voter suppression. That`s the true voter fraud, but
also President Obama has to take his message local. He has to dominate
locally in the states, talking about the issues that Americans really care
about -- job creation, the health care reform that he did that`s gotten so
little steam but has actually is going to impact Americans bottom-line in
their purse. And then also talking about how is he going to continue
innovation in taking the United States into the next century and really
talking about the programs that he`s already done.

SHARPTON: Steve?

KORNACKI: Yes. I would agree that it`s Obama but I will just put the
disclaimer, that the first one of these I ever did was from my high school
newspaper in 1996, when I said Bob Dole was going to win the next election,
so take what I`m saying with a grain of salt. But I go with Obama right
now.

SHARPTON: Joe?

MADISON: It`s going to be very thin. It`s going to be Obama, there`s
no question about it, but very, very thin, and quite honestly the
Republicans cannot win on their message of I hate him, dislike him. That`s
not going to get it, quite honestly. And that`s basically what they`ve got
going for him now.

SHARPTON: Joe, Maria Teresa, and Steve, we all here have our
predictions, stored on our DVRs. We`ll see how you did it next year this
time. Thanks for coming on the show, have a happy and safe new years.

MADISON: God bless. Happy New Year to you, Reverend.

KUMAR: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, a look back on the year that was here at POLITICS
NATION.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back to the last POLITICS NATION of 2011. This has
been a year of change for a lot of people. For me, the biggest personal
change was getting the opportunity to host this show. I know I raised some
eyebrows when I launched the show back in late August. The critics took a
few shots at me. So did our friends upstairs at "Saturday Night Live."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KENAN THOMPSON, AS AL SHARPTON: Joining me tonight are Kelly
O`Donnell, an MSNBC analyst here in our studio.
KELLY O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANALYST: Nice to be here.
THOMPSON: And Jim VandeHeeHo of Poli-TICK-o period com.
JIM VANDEHEI, POLITICO.COM: Hello, Reverend. It`s VandeHei.
THOMPSON: And a big VandeHei. Back to you. Which one is it? The
red light? There`s red lights everywhere.
(LAUGHTER)
On the top? OK? So this one? Wait, you just switched it on me now.
That`s what I need to be asking you, have you ever been on TV before?
(LAUGHTER)
(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: We had some fun, but our focus has been the same since day
one -- justice. We marched in Georgia to protest the execution of Troy
Davis, a man who many agreed was not beyond the reasonable doubt. We
joined the crowds down at Occupy Wall Street, highlighting the struggle for
economic justice, and we rallied in Washington in honor of Dr. Martin
Luther King, Jr. and the fight for jobs and justice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: If you can`t stand up for the unemployed, we`re going to
vote to make sure you join the unemployed. Let`s demand our rights with
Dr. King`s children. With Coretta King`s children. We will not going to
bow down, we`re not going to bend. We`re not going to buckle. Stand up,
America! Stand up, America! Stand up, America!

I`ve talked to a lot of powerful politicians on the show, but the
interviews I most cared about the most were folks outside of Washington,
people like Dorothy Cooper, the 96-year-old who voted throughout the Jim
Crow era, but who struggled after Tennessee passed its new voter ID law.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DOROTHY COOPER, CAN`T HAVE PHOTO ID TO VOTE: I haven`t had any
problems at all up to this time. This is the only time that I`ve had
problems.

SHARPTON: Are you surprised that they would change and make these
kinds of strict requirements at this stage of the game?

COOPER: No, I never thought it would be like this, ever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Or when I spoke to Spike Dolomite Ward, a cancer patient
who spoke out to praise the President`s affordable care act, in spite of
all the criticism it`s gotten from the right.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPIKE DOLOMITE WARD, CANCER PATIENT: When I found out that this Obama
care`s program was going to literally save my life, I owed it to the
President to publicly apologize and to humbly admit that I had checked out,
and that`s wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: You see, I never spent a lot of time four months ago
answering a lot of critics, because I didn`t come to do the show to join
the political TV cable season. I came for a reason. We need to have
everyone in America heard, and we need to have people who may not fit the
normal of the past, but that have formed what we must deal with today and
in the future. Because the nation and the world has changed. The year of
the protester, from the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street, to our jobs
march. That shows that. And so many people are so used to the past, and
the past modes, that they`re missing what`s going on right now.

I want to show what`s going on right now on the ground for real. I
want us to really experience what is going on, not in reality TV, but real
TV. That is why this show I was committed to, and I`m committed to going
forward. Not raring back and being the polished know-it-all, but leaning
forward. I thought you all understood that from the beginning.

Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton, on behalf of everyone here at
POLITICS NATION. I hope you have a safe and Happy New Year.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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