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Monday, January 2, 2012

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Guests: David Yepsen, Dana Milbank, Joe Madison, Keith Ellison, Ed Rendell, Mark McKinnon, John Payton

REV. AL SHARPTON, HOST: It`s a race to the bottom in Iowa.

Tonight, Rick Santorum says he doesn`t want to give black people
somebody else`s money. An ugly line from a season of ugly campaigning.

The year of the court. The election is on the front page, but the
real political story of 2012 may well be the Supreme Court`s huge rulings
on everything from health care to immigration.

And win one for the tax hiker. Republicans just can`t seem to accept
the truth about their hero, Ronald Reagan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LESLEY STAHL, "60 MINUTES": Your idol, as I`ve read, any way, was
Ronald Reagan. And he compromised.

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R), MAJORITY LEADER: He never compromised his
principles.

STAHL: Well, he raised taxes when it was one of his principles not to
raise taxes.

CANTOR: Well, he also cut taxes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Welcome to POLITICS NATION and Happy New year. I`m Al
Sharpton.

Tonight`s lead: playing ugly in Iowa. Just a day from the first
voting of 2012, and the candidates` appeals just getting uglier.

Rick Santorum, the GOP`s newest flavor of the month, is surging, but
his words on government and African-American are offensive to watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What President Obama wants
to do, his economic plan is to make more people dependent upon the
government, to grow the government to make sure that we have more food
stamps and more SSI and more Medicaid. Four in 10 children now are on
government-provided health care.

It just keeps expanding. They are just pushing harder and harder to
get more and more of you dependent upon them so they can get your vote.
That`s what the bottom line is.

I don`t want to make people`s lives better by giving them somebody
else`s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the
money and provide for themselves and their families.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The opportunity to earn their own money? Wow. What a
concept.

Are black people the only ones to receive federal aid, Mr. Santorum?

There`s so many things wrong with what Santorum said, starting with
the facts. Most Americans on food stamps, 34 percent, are white. Twenty-
two percent of food stamp recipients are black and 17 percent are Hispanic.

Ron Paul is also getting into the hateful act. The libertarian says
he would not have voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which outlawed
discrimination against women and blacks, including segregation.

Paul says it didn`t help fight racism, it destroyed the principles of
private property and private choices.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s the government
that causes so much of the racial tensions when you look at anything from
slavery on down to segregation in the military and the Jim Crow laws. You
don`t ever want to undermine the principle of private property and private
choices in order to solve some of these problems.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Let me get this straight. Government causes racial
segregation and slavery, but if government then does something to get rid
of segregation it`s destructive? That just flies in the face of logic, Mr.
Paul.

And then there`s the face of the war on the poor. Newton Leroy
Gingrich, here he is in Des Moines last month.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Really poor children in
really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around
them who works. So they literally have no habit of showing up on Monday.
They have no habit of staying all day. They have no habit of "I do this
and you give me cash" unless it`s illegal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: This is just the beginning. And make no mistake --
everything Americans have fought for, a century of progress and civil
rights, is up for grabs with these candidates.

Do we need laws? We needed laws, Mr. Paul. We needed laws, Mr.
Santorum. We needed laws, candidates, because there were laws in place
that discriminated.

The Civil Rights Act answered the laws in the books on segregation in
certain states, the laws against women in certain states. The reason why
government became necessary to correct situations is government had laws on
the state level that caused the situations.

You want to return to the days when there`s no protection, maybe
because you never needed any.

Joining me now from Iowa is David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon
Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University. He was the chief
political writer and editor at "The Des Moines Register" for 34 years.

Also in Iowa is Dana Milbank, political columnist for "The Washington
Post." And in Washington, Joe Madison, host of "Mornings With Madison" on
Sirius XM Radio.

Thanks to all of you for joining me tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Let me start with you, David.

You are there. You`ve covered Iowa for 34 years.

Who are these candidates playing to? Do they feel that the Republican
candidate -- the Republican voters -- let me put it this way -- or caucus
attendees are so right, they are anti-women rights, anti-civil rights? I
mean, who are they appealing to with these outrageous statements coming
close to the caucus day?

DAVID YEPSEN, DIRECTOR, PAUL SIMON PUBLIC POLICY INST.: Well, the
likely caucus-goers are pretty conservative. And so some of the rhetoric
gets a little hot and sometimes it gets over the top.

And I think one of the concerns that Republican presidential
candidates have to be careful about is there`s a general election campaign
yet that comes. And if in the course of winning this nomination, the
Republican Party alienates people, minorities, women, it`s going to lose in
battleground states in November. So they`re after the hard-core
conservative vote. You know, there`s a danger they will blow it in
November if they keep it up.

SHARPTON: Now, Dana, it is not only just the candidates we quoted,
Willard Mitt Romney, the front-runner, has said he`d vote for Ron Paul. He
didn`t make any conditions. He didn`t say he`d denounce Paul`s
newsletters, he couldn`t vote for him on those levels, or he would vote for
him despite disagreeing with him on the Civil Rights Act. He said he would
vote for him.

What is this saying about how these candidates are playing to the far
right and those that are divisive in this country to try to win this caucus
tomorrow night?

DANA MILBANK, "THE WASHINGTON POST": There are many surprising
things, many beyond what you have been even mentioning tonight, Reverend
Al. I was out with Rick Santorum today. He was talking about Obamacare
and he said, I`m just not going to enforce that law if I`m the president,
this notion that the laws are there to enforce the ones that we favor and
not to enforce the ones that we don`t favor.

SHARPTON: Wait a minute. Say that again slow, Dana. I want to make
sure we got it.

He said what? This is Rick Santorum talking.

MILBANK: He just said, "I will not enforce that law." That was his
statement on Obamacare.

SHARPTON: Is this Santorum or Rick Perry? This is Rick Perry?

MILBANK: That is Santorum who I was talking with today. But it`s all
a case of sort of mixing and matching, you know, choose the law you want.

Now, on matters of race, look, the first two, the caucus state here in
Iowa, and the primary state in New Hampshire, are much wider than the rest
of the nation. So it`s not surprising, particularly in a Republican
primary, which has very few African-American voters to begin with, that
that`s what they would be do doing. The problem is when you get out into
the rest of the country and when you get into a general election. These
sort of exotic stands that they are taking right now are going to hold up
about as well as a water lily in the Iowa winter.

SHARPTON: Yes.

But, Joe Madison, when you talk about the Civil Rights Act, yes,
you`re talking about blacks, but you`re also talking about women. You`re
also talking about the disabilities act that came out of there. You`re
talking about the disabled. You`re talking about Latinos, and they are
going to those states.

This is not just race. This is gender. This is disabled. These are
all Americans that needed protection of their civil rights which, by law,
was being in many ways interrupted.

JOE MADISON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, you know, you no longer have
to use the n-word, whistle "Dixie" or salute the confederate flag to be a
racist. And the new racism is those who claim that racism doesn`t exist.

You know what`s ironic? I don`t know how the Republicans think they
can have it both ways. They`ve got a presidential candidate who said he
wouldn`t have voted for the civil rights bill, but yet when you talk to any
black Republican or any white Republican, what`s the one thing they always
brag about? I`ll try to remind Democrats that they were the ones that
supported the civil rights bill.

So now here we are, 2012, and we`ve got a candidate for the Republican
Party who said, I wouldn`t support the bill that I -- my Party claims that
they were responsible. They are -- you know, this is the Party who
obviously would drive Lincoln out of office.

SHARPTON: Well, they claim to be the Party of Lincoln.

But, Dana, let me show you what Willard Mitt Romney said over the
weekend about the Dream Act.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: If I were elected, and Congress were to pass the Dream Act,
would I veto it? And the answer is yes. For those that come here
illegally, the idea of giving them in-state tuition credits or other
special benefits I find to be contrary to the idea of a nations of laws.

SHARPTON: So, Dana, let me get this right. If you were president,
Willard says he would veto the Dream Act. The runner up -- because we`re
in a tight race there -- Ron Paul, says that we must respect private
property in terms of segregation laws. And if we respect it and government
did not protect us from private property, private ownership, Rosa Parks
would still be in the back of the bus.

I mean, this is the Republican Party of 2012?

MILBANK: Well, right. And they may not live to be the Republican
Party of 2016 if they do that.

Now, this is not going to hurt Mitt Romney or anybody else here in
Iowa, or in the Republican caucuses, generally. In fact, it`s perhaps a
necessary position for him to take right now if he wants to stay in the
mix.

But in the general election, and going forward, you know, Latino
voters aren`t very important in a Republican caucus in Iowa. It`s the most
important voting bloc in this nation right now, and only getting more
important. And these guys have all done a pretty good job of alienating
that bloc.

YEPSEN: Reverend Al, if I could add --

SHARPTON: Go ahead, David.

MADISON: If I could just add to that, this is going to have -- what
Dana just described is going to have implications long into the future.
The Republican Party in the course of the last few years is driving Latino
Americans into the Democratic Party, and those attitudes and views will
last for generations.

I mean, the Republican Party managed to drive the Irish-Americans into
the Democratic Party. And history is repeating itself here with Americans
of Latino ancestry, and that`s going to have ramifications for politics for
years to come.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you this, David -- and I was saying and women.
But let`s look at the polling.

Right as we are a day away now, Santorum is at 20 percent; Michele
Bachmann, 20 percent; Ron Paul, 20 percent; Perry, 13; Mitt Romney, 10.
This is who is best relating to the ordinary Iowans. So many of them,
particularly Santorum and Paul, that are saying the most offensive stuff,
are the ones that are considered the best ones relating as far as the
average Iowan is concerned.

You`re on the ground and you`ve covered this longer and at a better
perch than most. How are you sensing it? Is this Willard`s to lose, as
unbelievable as that might have seemed three or four months ago?

YEPSEN: No, I think it`s very much up in the air. It`s very fluid.
And Republican caucus-goers have not decided what they want to do here.

They will wait until they go into the caucus site and have a chance to
talk to their neighbors before they make up their decision. Activists are
a little bit different than ordinary voters in both parties. They pay
attention to these issues and they weigh the candidates carefully, and so
it`s very fluid. And I think that that poll that you just showed
illustrates that.

SHARPTON: Joe, tomorrow night one of these will come out ahead. And,
again, this is a caucus. There will be activists working, there will be
moving and pushing.

When they come out of Iowa and head to New Hampshire, what message
have they sent in this first of the voting in this whole season? What have
they sent to the states and to the nation that comes behind Iowa?

MADISON: It depends on who comes out ahead. Now, if Romney comes out
ahead, I think the message that they are sending is, we`re glad we`re
first, we think we have a winner. As was mentioned, the activists in Iowa
know that in the past presidential cycles, they really haven`t had --
particularly among the Republicans -- they really haven`t had a winner.

And when you start spending, as I mentioned earlier, $10 million or
more in a state, and you can`t even get a person nominated in your Party,
then the next cycle of people start wondering, should we even bother with
Iowa, as opposed to New Hampshire or South Carolina? But, you know, you`ve
got to remember, the Republican Party is the place in our lifetime where
the Dixiecrats found refuge, and that`s who they are appealing to. It`s
just another name. That`s all it is.

SHARPTON: And what is the appeal, is the question.

(CROSSTALK)

SHARPTON: Joe Madison, David Yepsen, Dana Milbank, we`ll have to go.
Thank you for joining us tonight.

Ahead, they blocked him every step of the way. Now President Obama
has a plan to hit back against Republicans in Congress. And they are
worried.

Plus, Eric Cantor`s epic fail on national TV, why his press secretary
tried to save him but only made it worse.

And 2012 is a defining year for the Supreme Court. Health care and
immigration take the spotlight.

And it`s scary to think who wants to be in charge of the future.

You`re watching POLITICS NATION only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Just one day before the first voting in Iowa, one of the
scariest things about the extreme presidential candidates that are running
are they want to have the power to nominate justices for the Supreme Court,
the men and women who make decisions affecting literally every American.

Just check out what Rick Perry said on MSNBC earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m going to put
people on the Supreme Court that are strict constructionists, and they`re
going to look in there and they`re not going to find abortion anywhere.
Those things will flow back to the states until we can pass a
constitutional amendment that protects life in this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Strict constructionists. Women rights, civil rights,
immigrant rights, they are all threatened by Republicans and their allies
on the Supreme Court. And this year -- this year -- the court will rule
on President Obama`s health care law despite troubling conflicts of
interest from Clarence Thomas. Justice Thomas is under fire because he
faired to disclose that his wife had a financial interest in the issue,
earning money from conservative groups opposing the health care law.

Just check out what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINNI THOMAS, WIFE OF JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS: Washington is broken.
It`s addicted to spending. It`s addicted to power.

America`s at risk, and I didn`t know how far left President Obama and
the leadership was going to take us. Maybe we did get President Obama so
that we can wake this country up.

And you guys are the political first responders, and I love the Tea
Party movement.

The clear focus is to stop the Obama agenda.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Stop the Obama agenda is what Thomas and his wife talk
about at the dinner table?

Now Chief Justice Roberts is defending Thomas` decision not to recuse
himself from the case. In his year end report on the court, Roberts said,
"I have complete confidence in the capability of my colleagues to determine
what recusal is warranted. They are jurors of exceptional integrity and
experience."

Well, this is what is at stake when the vote starts in Iowa and
throughout the process, who may be in position to appoint Supreme Court
judges.

Joining me now, Congressman Keith Ellison, Democrat from Minnesota,
who wrote a letter to Justice Thomas demanding he recuse himself from the
health care case.

Congressman, thanks for being here tonight.

REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA: You bet, Rev. How you doing?

SHARPTON: I`m fine.

Now, you wrote a letter to Justice Thomas, and you`ve heard what
Justice Roberts said, coming to the defense of his colleagues. Now, there
are those that raised questions on the side of Ms. Kagan, but there`s no
financial conflict there.

We`re not talking policy here. We`re talking about a failure to
disclose a financial interest with Clarence Thomas, which is not alleged
with anyone else on the court.

Am I correct?

ELLISON: You`re right about that. And it`s a deeply disturbing
connection.

The fact is, Clarence Thomas has a financial stake in an issue that is
coming before the Supreme Court. This is a clear violation of his duty to
recuse himself in the case of a conflict, and he has refused to do so.

And this is something I think all Americans need to know more about.
I think Americans should raise their voices, and we have ways to do that.
You can go to keithellison.org if you want to, but the fact is that people
need to raise this thing, and we need to get more public attention on how
dangerous this particular conflict is for all Americans.

SHARPTON: Well, particularly on the eve of the Iowa caucus, when in
the Republican debates, many of the candidates named Thomas as among the
jurors that they admire and they think is a model juror. So, one, they
don`t seem to have a problem with these issues that`s been raised. And
two, they would appoint judges that are like him. Let me show you what
they said. Don`t take my word for it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And it`s Thomas.

PERRY: Alito, Roberts or Thomas.

ROMNEY: Roberts, Thomas, Alito and Scalia.

GINGRICHH: Scalia is probably the most intellectual of the four.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`d put Antonin
Scalia at the top of the list. I would also include Clarence Thomas and
John Roberts and Alito.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So, across the board, Thomas is an example of the type that
they respect and admire and would appoint.

On the eve of the first voting, I think Americans need to know this.

ELLISON: Well, I think you`re right. In this particular Supreme
Court, it`s clearly on the side of free market fundamentalism.

This is the court that brought us Citizens United. They believe that
corporations are people, too. In fact, I believe Mitt Romney said exactly
that.

And this Citizens United is one of the greatest threats to the body
politic in a generation, because we`re going to see a flood of money from
undisclosed sources coming into our TV stations and all over throughout our
lives because this Supreme Court believes that there should be no or very
minimal restrictions in terms of regulating corporate activity. So this is
a big deal and it`s reminiscent of 100 years ago.

SHARPTON: Congressman, this March, this court will hear this argument
on the Affordable Care Act, and it deals with 24 million people got free
physical screenings, 2.65 million seniors saved $1.5 billion on
prescriptions, one million fewer kids without health care insurance since
2008. They are going to decide on the constitutionality of this in March,
this court.

ELLISON: Yes.

SHARPTON: So we`re looking at a possible reversal of this act which
gets federal government out of being able to give health care to citizens.
We`re looking later in the year of immigration rights. We`re looking about
the redistricting in Texas. All on the books.

So, the vote that starts tomorrow is much more than a horse race.
This is about whether we`re going to roll back 100 years of progress in
this country.

ELLISON: Well, Reverend Al, anyone who sits back and says elections
don`t matter, there`s no difference between the candidates, they could not
be more wrong, particularly when it comes to the Supreme Court. As a
matter of fact, what if this Supreme Court would have been on the bench
when the 1964 Civil Rights Act came up for constitutional review? You
would have some people on that court saying, well, this violates private
property rights.

The fact is, we need a Supreme Court who is going to balance the
equities based on constitutional principles and to try to make sure that
all Americans can live under equal protection of the law and have due
process. This Supreme Court is a free market fundamentalist Supreme Court,
and they`ve already demonstrated that, and I`m very worried about what they
are going to do to the Affordable Care Act. Thirty-two million people
looking for health care have their interests in the balance.

SHARPTON: Well, Congressman Ellison, thank you for your time tonight.
We`re going to stay on this issue and we`re going to be there outside the
court in March when they argue this. But I hope people in Iowa consider
this in their caucus.

ELLISON: I`ll be with you there.

SHARPTON: Coming up, Eric Cantor and his minions try to pretend
Ronald Reagan didn`t raise taxes.

Sorry, Congressman. The facts are inconvenient but they are facts.

And it`s getting so bad for Newt Gingrich, guess who he`s talking
about on the campaign trail? That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: How desperate is Newt Gingrich? You`ll never guess who
he`s talking about now on the campaign trail today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I did something last year
that some people thought was very daring and some of my opponents would say
was zany. But I went with the Reverend Al Sharpton and we went around
talking about charter schools. The biggest civil rights issue is the 21st
century is every child`s right to be in a room that is safe learning from a
teacher who is competent with their parents involved and we have to solve
this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That is right, Newt. We did tour together. You forgot to
tell them that President Obama, who you now call a food stamp president, is
the one who sent us out there. But you had some good ideas then. Now you
want to break child labor laws and put the kids we saw to work. But we can
agree on one thing. If you`re using me to make political points with
Republicans in Iowa, you`re in even bigger trouble than I thought.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. When President Obama
comes back to Washington tonight, he will walk straight into the battle of
2012. With just 311 days until the election, Republicans already have
their plan of attack.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When he was just new elected
president, he went on the "Today" show and he said, if I can`t get this
economy turned around in three years, I`ll be looking at a one-term
preposition. I`m here to collect. All right?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The Washington Post reports Romney seems to be taking his
line of attack straight from the new GOP playbook written by a 28-year-old
former Romney campaign aid. The book attempts to paint the President as a
promise breaker. But as The New York Times` report, the President`s plan
to hit back by running against Republicans and Congress. A congress that
managed to pass just six jobs bills last year, but passed ten laws naming
Newt post offices. A congress with an approval rating and all-time lows.

Joining me now is NBC News political analyst Ed Rendell and Mark
McKinnon, co-founder of No Labels and former advisor to George W. Bush and
John McCain. Ed, let me start with you, Governor. What do you make of the
President`s intention of running against Congress?

ED RENDELL, NBC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it`s a good
idea, Harry Truman with tremendous success and his numbers were far worse
than the President`s were this time. And he just pounded the Congress,
pounded the Congress, pounded the Congress. But also I think the
President`s got to fight back when he`s attack. And he promised to turn
the economy around and I think he made a case that he did. When he talk
over, we were losing 750,000 jobs a month. And we`ve had over a year of 12
straight months of job gain. So, I think the President has fulfill that
promise. Look, it`s not where we want to be, it`s not where he wants to
be. But as he turn the economy around, sure. Did he turn the auto
industry around? Sure. Did he turn the financial services industry
around? Sure he did by taking gutsy stands and doing the right thing. And
if the Republicans and Congress would let him, let him provide for this
nation`s infrastructure and create well paying jobs, we could turn the
economy around at even a faster rate.

SHARPTON: Now, Mark. On that point, the middle class, when we look
at the polling and we were asking American citizens who do you trust to
protect the middle class, the results were Obama 50 percent Republicans,
only 38 percent. So if Mr. Romney`s plan is to run against promises not
kept, it seems that people believed the President has fought for the middle
class, they trusted more, and many of the things the governor just said
seem to resonate. If you were running Mr. Romney`s campaign and you
involved with both Mr. Bush and Mr. McCain, would you use this promises not
kept?

MARK MCKINNON, CO-FOUNDER "NO LABELS": Well, I think there`s a danger
in over allying on that because you pointed out the important number there,
which is who cares about the middle class and cares about the people like
me or average Americans out there and we`ve seen a significant shift in
that towards the end of this last year. Six months ago, I would have said
that it may not have mattered who the republican nominee was, the wins were
so bad economically that it could have been like 2008. I mean, John McCain
could have run a perfect campaign and lost by five or six. I thought maybe
that`s what it might like next year, I`ve changed my attitude on that now,
I think could very well just be a jump ball 50/50 election for a couple of
reasons.

One, the President Obama has I think effectively focused on a middle
class squeeze message, which I think is very effective right now. So, it`s
focused more on who cares about you than on the issues of jobs and trying
to get jobs for people like that but it`s really focusing more on who is
being hurt and why? And then I also think the Republicans did a pretty
good job acquiring their way to the bottom at the end of the year by
throwing away the issue of the payroll tax credit and you know, I actually
right now, Obama has trusted more on taxes than the Republicans are. And
Republicans are going to figure out a way to get that back. But I think
ultimately, Mitt Romney is going to have to do something in his messaging,
the Republicans do to make sure that Americans think that they care about
the broad mill of America and that is where this election may be won or
lost.

SHARPTON: Now, Governor, hearing what Mark just said, if you`re a
voter in Iowa tonight that`s going to attend one of the caucuses or if New
Hampshire or South Carolina getting ready to vote, do you go in with, in
mind, who can battle the President for the trust of the American voter and
the middle class or do you go in by saying who`s the most far right guy
that believes in some of the more extreme views that I may emotionally
have? What do you think the voters are going to do and why?

RENDELL: Well, we`ll know in about 26, 27 hours, Al. I think the
answer is that most Iowans by now have concluded that Mitt Romney is a safe
enough choice. You know, he`s not quite as conservative in his lineage as
the others but he`s close enough and he`s the one who has a chance to win.
I think that`s the reason he`s going to win the Iowa caucuses. But,
remember, he`s going to win with 27, 28 percent tops, that means seven out
of every ten republican voters voted against him. But then he goes on to
New Hampshire which is his base and scores a big victory and then there
will be one or two less republican conservatives standing to fight in South
Carolina and then the fight goes on.

But nobody has the resources that Mitt Romney has and nobody has his
Trump card. His Trump card is he doesn`t scare anybody. Almost all of the
other republican candidates in one way or the other, something about them
scares the voters so they could vote not for President Obama but against
the Republicans. Mitt Romney is a perfect candidate to take all of the
anti-Obama votes because he didn`t scare anybody. People don`t think he`s
going to be a whacko or do anything strange.

SHARPTON: Now, Mark, what confuses me and I`m probably confused about
most republican politics, but you were involved with McCain. Wasn`t
Santorum and a lot of the conservatives at that time supporting Willard
because they said he was the conservative against McCain? Now they are
saying he`s not conservative. I mean, or has the party moved so far to the
extreme that yesterday`s conservative is today`s moderate because Santorum
supported Willard in the 2008 primaries against McCain saying that Willard
was the real conservative.

MCKINNON: Yes, it has shifted, Reverend. And that`s part of the
reason why it`s getting lonelier and lonelier for progressive Republicans,
Republican Party.

SHARPTON: Progressive Republicans? That`s almost an oxymoron in
today`s climate but go ahead.

MCKINNON: Get tougher and tougher.

RENDELL: We`ll take you and the Governor Huntsman any time you want
to come over.

MCKINNON: It`s a lonely caucus but we`re going to keep strapped in.
Yes, you`re right about Santorum and that`s a reflection of how the party
has shifted. I think by the way, I wouldn`t be surprised to see Santorum
finish first in the caucuses. I mean, it`s really about passion and who is
moving at the last minute. So, he can pull a real surprise, I think, given
what we`re seeing. The Romney campaign I hear the actual headquarters are
pretty lonely at night. So, don`t be surprised to see a very strong
Santorum finish here.

SHARPTON: What happens if Santorum comes in one and upsets everybody
night, Governor?

RENDELL: Well, the question then is, can Rick raise enough money
quickly to compete in New Hampshire and South Carolina. Because the reason
he may win and Mark`s right. He may win in Iowa because he did 370 town
meetings. He`s spend a year-and-a-half campaigning in Iowa, he`s got a
week in New Hampshire and three weeks in South Carolina and that means he`s
got to raise a ton of money quickly. If he`s got to bounce and can raise
money quickly, maybe he can compete. Maybe it`s winds up being Romney
versus Santorum but I`m not sure he can raise the money.

SHARPTON: Governor Rendell, Mark McKinnon, thank you both for your
time tonight. Happy New Year.

RENDELL: Happy New Year to you, Al. Thank you. It`s a good win.

SHARPTON: Ahead, the GOP fight to suppress the vote. A top
republican has the nerve to claim that Democrats are the ones trying to
steal the elections. And Eric Cantor`s in denial about how his idol,
Ronald Reagan, raised taxes. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: It`s a new year but same ole same ole for the republican
assault for our voter rights. Tennessee, Texas, Rhode Island, and Kansas,
joined Georgia and Indiana with radical voter ID laws taking effect. And
next month, Wisconsin joins the pact. Which means 42 million Americans
have to produce voter ID in order to exercise their constitutional right to
vote. But we vow to fight back. We vow to march. We vow to repress, to
reverse the wall of suppression and now Republicans are responding. RNC
Chairman Reince Priebus is out with an Op-ed title, voter ID laws are
commonsense. He`s complaining that there`s, quote, "At least one
documented case of fraud in each of 46 states over the last decade."
That`s true, but the same data which comes directly from Republicans also
shows a total of 311 cases. That`s 311 cases out of 593 million votes
cast. It`s a fraud rate of 0.00005 per vote. And Newt Gingrich took it
even further in Iowa over the weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: Why is Attorney General Holder so determined not to
identify whether people illegally eligible to vote? Why is it that they
are desperate to retain the ability to steal elections? I think it`s going
to become a bigger issue, frankly, because you find places where the level
of fraud is so great that it clearly changes the election outcome and you
have people who are elected fraudulently.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: They are scared. They are nowhere fighting back and we
won`t stop. Joining me now is John Payton, president and director and
counselor of the NAACP legal defense found a major force in effort to
protect the right to vote across the country. Thank you for being here
tonight.

JOHN PAYTON, NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE FUND: Thank you for having me.

SHARPTON: Now, when we hear Newt Gingrich says that there`s so much
fraud. We hear the previous RNC chairman say, one in every state. They
are really trying to spread 311 cases over 500 something million votes
since `97. I mean, there`s really -- you`re talking about a fraud, it`s
the most ridiculous attempt to distort facts that I`ve seen.

PAYTON: It`s a very, very small number of cases that they are
pointing to. You know, we`ve won elections in this country about 200 years
without any, any real concern about what they call in-person voter ID
fraud. If we`ve had it for 200 years, that fraud, we would have seen these
things come about a long time ago. What caused this was the election in
2008 when we saw a dramatic increase in participation across racial and
ethnic lines, a tremendous election for this country but it seems to have
caused some other people to be afraid of what happens when democracy really
works. There`s no real instance of in-person voter fraud that is
undermining our democracy in any way. The concern we ought to have is to
make sure that everyone who is eligible gets to vote and these efforts are
going to deny people who are eligible, who have voted for year after year
after year from being able to vote in an election for their
representatives, for their congressman, for their president.

SHARPTON: Now, the Pew Center says, five million voters will be
affected by this. But, John, let me say this. If people think you and I
and we`ve been out front on this issue are wrong, if they are so afraid of
fraud, why don`t they have state voter ID at the Iowa caucus tomorrow
night? You can walk up and register the republican at the caucus? You
don`t have to resent state voter ID. Why isn`t Gingrich and all of them
concerned about voter ID in their own caucus tomorrow night?

PAYTON: Or in New Hampshire where there`s a new election coming up,
where there`s not going to be voter ID either.

SHARPTON: Oh, I get it. Do as I say, don`t do as I do?

PAYTON: This is just a false issue. I think this is just a false
issue. There hasn`t been, you know, when the report said that there`s been
at least one instance of voter fraud in each of 46 states over the last ten
years, that`s nothing, that`s just nothing. So, I think this is a fault
issue. The real issue is to make sure that everyone who is entitled to
vote can vote and has a chance to vote and these efforts are run to keep
people who can otherwise vote from voting. The change in the rules affects
people disproportionately. When you say you have to come with an ID and
you didn`t have an ID the last time you had to vote, that`s a new
requirement for you and you now have to comply with it and it`s not as easy
as it sounds to go get the required ID. It costs money. You have to go
get records. You may have to get a birth certificate. You may not have a
birth certificate.

SHARPTON: Seniors.

PAYTON: And in southern states, there may not be a birth certificate.
May not have been recorded that way. These are impediments that keep
people who are eligible, registered voters, from voting in their democracy.

SHARPTON: Well, let me show you how ridiculous it is, John, and the
time I have left. If you look at how much voter fraud is so unusual, it is
easier for Americans to be struck with lightning. There`s more cases of
that in the last decade than voter fraud for each American to win an
academy award. You are more likely than voter fraud, giving birth to
quintuplets. It`s crazy.

PAYTON: It`s a false issue. You know, Reverend, last show I was on,
you had a representative from Florida come on and talking about voter fraud
in Florida. This is what Florida did. They not only want IDs, they also
reduce the early voting period, and the reduced the Sunday before the
Tuesday election as part of the early voting period. That`s when African-
Americans take advantage of early voting. There is no claim whatsoever
that there was fraud on early voting on the Sunday before the Tuesday
that`s Election Day.

SHARPTON: John, thanks for your time tonight and we`re going to stay
on this. We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: It`s a new year but it`s the same old baloney from the
republican leadership. Here`s Eric Cantor talking about his idol Ronald
Reagan on "60 Minutes."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LESLEY STAHL, HOST, "60 MINUTES": You know, your idol, as I`ve read,
any way, was Ronald Reagan and he compromised.

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R), VIRGINIA: He never compromised his principles.

STAHL: Well, he raised taxes and it was one of his principles not to
raise taxes.

CANTOR: Well, he also cut taxes.

STAHL: But he did compromise.

CANTOR: Well, that`s true.

STAHL: And at that point Cantor`s press secretary interrupted yelling
from off camera that what I was saying wasn`t true.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But what she said was true. Ronald did Reagan raised
taxes. In fact, he raised taxes 11 times. But the reason over paying
Reagan`s did won`t fit in today`s GOP.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, UNITED STATES: We`re going to close the
unproductive tax loopholes that allowed some of the truly wealthy to avoid
paying their fair share. In theory, some of those loopholes were
understandable but in practice they sometimes made it possible for
millionaires to pay it nothing but a bus driver is paying 10 percent of
their salary and that`s crazy. Do you think the millionaire ought to pay
more in taxes than the bus driver or less?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Yap, you wouldn`t hear those words coming from Eric Cantor
but besides ignoring Reagan record on taxes, can`t also won`t admit the
power of compromise. Someone else would, though.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REAGAN: Make no mistake about it, this whole package is a compromise.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: These guys claim to love what Ronald Reagan stands for but
they`ll throw a temper tantrum before admitting he raised taxes and was
willing to compromise. We must realize that those that are running this
party now are not even in the tradition of their own party. Thanks for
watching. I`m Al Sharpton. But, first, "HARDBALL" starts right now.

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

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