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PoliticsNation, Thursday, January 12, 2012

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Guests: Ed Rendell, Jonathan Capehart, Joan Walsh, Jackie Kucinich, Bob Shrum, Perry Bacon, Paul Bergeron

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT LAUER, CO-HOST, "TODAY": Are there no fair questions about the
distribution of wealth without it being seen as envy, though?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I think it`s fine
to talk about those things in quiet rooms. Talk about those things in
quiet rooms. In quiet rooms. In quiet rooms.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AL SHARPTON, HOST: Welcome to POLITICS NATION. I`m Al Sharpton.
Tonight, I`m coming to you live from a quiet room. Since Willard spoke, I
decided to come see what these quiet rooms are really like. So this is
where the Willard Mitt Romney says we can talk about inequality. Amazing.

It turns out this is where you are supposed to talk about injustice,
not out in public. You are not supposed to raise uncomfortable topics out
there. You need to save that for quiet rooms like this.

You`re not supposed to talk about huge income gaps in this country.
No, siree. You save that for the quiet room. Well, you know what? I had
enough of quiet rooms. Turn the lights on. Get rid of this backdrop.

Folks, this country doesn`t need to be quiet. This country needs to
ma some noise. I`m done with quiet conversations. When 66 percent of
Americans say there`s a conflict between the rich and poor, we shouldn`t be
whispering. We should be shouting.

When one in two Americans are poor or struggling, we shouldn`t be
speaking in hush tones. We should say it loud. When the 400 richest
Americans have a greater combined wealth than the bottom 150 million, we
need to speak out. We need to get loud.

Willard, we`re done with quiet rooms. But I can see why you like them
so much. We know to expect this talk from someone who casually makes
$10,000 bets, from someone who says this to 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: Let things run their course. That`s what you say in the
quiet room. That`s heartless. But it`s consistent with someone who has
trouble identifying real people.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Corporations are people, my friend. We can raise taxes on --
of course they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to
people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Can you hear me now, Willard? Can you? Joining me now
with their loud voices are former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, now an
NBC News political analyst; and Joan Walsh, editor-at-large for salon.com.

Thank you both for being on the show tonight.

ED RENDELL, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Our pleasure.

JOAN WALSH, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, SALON.COM: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Governor Rendell, is this a conversation Mitt Willard
Romney and the Republicans are hoping not to have this year about income
equality?

RENDELL: Sure, but that`s a false hope. There`s no way we can`t
discuss that issue when more Americans than ever are in poverty, when in my
home state, Al, one out of every 10 people is on food stamps.

I never thought I`d live to see that. With statistics like that, with
hurt and pain like that, it`s got to be the number one discussion during
this entire election year. And if Mitt Romney believes that he`s got a way
to put people back to work and to raise incomes, then let`s hear it.

But don`t say we`re going to talk about it in quiet rooms. You know
what that means, we`ll talk about it after the election is over.

SHARPTON: That`s exactly right.

Joan, when you -- today, Mitt Romney went even further. He started
trying to show a different, soft, kinder, gentler Willard. Let me show you
what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I think any time a job is lost is a tragedy. For the family,
for the individual that loses the job, it`s just devastating. And every
time that we invested in the business it was to try and encourage that
business to have ongoing life.

The idea of making a short-term profit actually doesn`t really exist
in business because no one wants to buy something or buy stock in a company
that`s just going to be a short-term success.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So he said that losing a job is a tragedy. This from the
guy who wrote an op-ed piece in The New York Times saying let Detroit go
bankrupt. This from a guy who bought chopped companies. I mean, do you
think that he is beginning to understand how much his track record and the
bringing it out is hurting him?

WALSH: I think, obviously, he is, Reverend Al. I mean, Mitt Romney
is the face of the top 1 percent. He is Mr. 1 percent. And he`s providing
us with an opportunity. And this primary is providing us with an
opportunity to really have a national conversation about income inequality.

You know, Occupy Wall Street did a great job opening the doors and
starting that conversation. And now you have got a candidate who is tailor
made to -- to help people really understand how the very, very wealthy make
their money off making money and literally don`t care if they throw people
out of jobs.

They are after efficiency. They are after a profit. That`s the
bottom line. So, you know, Mitt Romney is in a position now of having to
defend that record. And it`s not very much fun for him.

SHARPTON: Now, Governor, when you look at, it`s not just Occupy Wall
Street now. I think Joan is right. They helped to change the
conversation. Look at this graph of where all Americans are on this
question from different parties, from different backgrounds.

You have Republicans, 55 percent say class conflict between the rich
and poor is real. You have independents, 68 percent. Democrats, 73
percent. How would these figures -- you`ve governed. How would these
figures -- do you tell people, let`s be quiet about it?

I mean, you`ve had to deal with people, I`m sure, that were adverse to
whatever decisions you make.

RENDELL: Sure.

SHARPTON: The most insulting thing to tell people in pain is to be
quiet about it. Suffer but suffer in silence.

RENDELL: Right. What Mitt Romney`s got to do and he has got to do
it, I think, fairly quickly -- even though for the Republican base, none of
this has hurt him so far. But what he`s got to do fairly quickly is he has
got to say to people, OK, look, the president cares very deeply about
people in pain and people who have gone into poverty, but he hasn`t been
able to do anything about it because he just doesn`t know how to run an
economy, how to get an economy started, I`m going to tell you how we can
put these people back to work.

So he`s got to change the conversation from, let`s not talk about it,
to, yes, let`s talk about it, it`s the central issue facing America today,
and I have got a better plan, he`s failed, I have a plan that`s going to
work.

If he doesn`t quickly move to that dynamic, I think he`s sunk.

SHARPTON: Joan, when you look at the reality, the reality is that
Willard lives in quiet rooms. I mean, he has the co-chair of the private
equity firm Blackstone Group doing fund-raising -- two fund-raisers this
week. I think he`s in West Palm Beach tonight at a fund-raiser. So I
guess quiet rooms is where they do their business.

But this is a guy who called proposed a tax increase on private equity
partners a war and I`m quoting him, "like when Hitler invaded Poland in
1939." Now he later, to be fair, apologized for saying that, but he said
it. I mean, this is outrageous.

WALSH: But he said it. It is outrageous. I think that one of the
reasons Mitt Romney doesn`t want to release his tax returns, Reverend Al,
is not so much that it shows he`s wealthy, because we all know he`s very
rich. But because it probably shows that he pays a rather low tax rate
given that all of his income comes -- most of his income -- I guess all of
it, comes from investments.

And those tax rates are very, very different than the tax rates that
the rest of us pay on our income. And so, you know, he -- my jaw dropped
last week when Andrea Mitchell asked him, would you release them if you
become president? And he wouldn`t say yes.

Every president in history has released his income tax returns. I
mean, that is the height of arrogance. That combined with the quiet rooms
comment just shows a sort of elitism and a fear of democracy and what
people will really do and think if they knew the truth.

SHARPTON: Now, Governor, when The Washington Post today called on him
to release his tax returns, I know even when you run for president if you
do public finance you have to disclose everything.

So, I mean, this is unprecedented that you are not disclosing things
if you are a candidate for the highest office in the land.

RENDELL: Al, in the 34 years that I`ve run for office, in the last
20, for my two races for mayor and two races for governor, of course, I
released my tax returns. There wasn`t any question or doubt about it.

And, Joan, I`d also like to see Bain Capital`s tax return.

WALSH: Right.

RENDELL: That would be very interesting. Now Republicans are always
complaining the corporate tax rate is too high. It`s 35 percent. Well,
you saw the Forbes study out. The top 200 corporations paid 17 percent, 17
percent. So I`d love to see what Bain Capital paid.

WALSH: Yes.

SHARPTON: Well, maybe that`s what they are doing in them quiet rooms.

(LAUGHTER)

SHARPTON: Joan, I think the other thing that is very disturbing is
that when you now are looking at 50 percent of the country -- I think the
exact number is 49 percent, that are at poverty level or near it, we`re not
talking about just sections of the country now, we`re talking about almost
half the country really have an insecurity about where the future lays for
them and their children.

And I think the governor is right. If you are not saying this is my
plan to restore the economy, to give jobs, to protect you, if all you can
say, as he said better than most nights, but he still only said the
criticisms of the president, really, what are you saying?

He made a better speech than I`ve heard him make lately the other
night when he won New Hampshire, but it was all on attacking President
Obama. I still have no idea what is Willard`s jobs plan.

WALSH: Well, that`s -- I really don`t think he has one. He talks
about, oh, that it`s hundreds of pages. But, really, there`s nothing that
he can articulate because it comes down to the same Republican policies of
reduced taxes.

And so, you know, you made a really excellent point right after that
speech when he came up with the line, "the bitter politics of envy," that,
really, it`s not about jealousy. It`s about justice. We`re not envious.
We just want fairness.

So all he can do is insult people who raise the question and insult
the president who, by the way, has created more private sector jobs, I
believe, than the Bush administration did in eight years, and has -- and
even the stimulus.

They say the stimulus didn`t work. The stimulus worked. It was just
too small. While we had the stimulus, employment was rising. So the
president knows what to do. The president has a jobs plan, but Mitt Romney
doesn`t have a jobs plan.

SHARPTON: Governor Rendell and Joan Walsh, thank you both for being
with us tonight.

Ahead, the Republican establishment is desperate to stop him. But
Newt doubled down. He`s hammering Mitt`s record at Bain Capital, and it`s
about to get way worse.

Plus, we marched, we fought, and we vowed to recall Scott Walker. Now
we`re days away from defining the moment in the war against the middle
class. Big news tonight.

And wait until you see the skeleton Newt found in Willard`s closet.
It involves Mitt, his dog, and the roof of a car. You need to see this
one. You are watching POLITICS NATION, live on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The GOP establishment is desperately trying to put the Bain
genie back in the bottle. But it`s about to get worse.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: What the hell are you
doing, Newt?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Newt`s on a mission to take down Romney. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. It`s taken many months,
but Republican elites have finally found a reason to rally around Mitt
Romney. They are in a panic over attacks on Willard`s record at Bain from
Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry, petrified that it`s laying the groundwork for
President Obama`s re-election. Their message, don`t talk about Bain
Capital in public. Save it for the quiet room.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIULIANI: What the hell are you doing, Newt? I`m outraged about what
he and Rick -- who is a very close friend of mine, I`m shocked what they
are doing. I`m going to say, it`s ignorant. Dumb.

SEN. JIM DEMINT r, SOUTH CAROLINA: Now that Newt and others do not
appear to be in the game, to damage a front-runner makes no sense to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Rudy Giuliani and Jim DeMint join Rush Limbaugh, Sean
Hannity, and The Wall Street Journal in defending Romney. But Newt is
still not backing off. His PAC released this ad in South Carolina today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A group of corporate raiders led by Mitt Romney,
the company was Bain Capital. More ruthless than Wall Street.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pulled the rug out from under our plant.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody was fired.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They fire people. They cut benefits. They sell
assets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney and them guys, they don`t care who I
am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel that is a man that destroyed us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And it looks like some other Republicans didn`t get the
memo about being nice to Mitt and are going rogue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Governor Romney has claimed
to have created 100,000 jobs at Bain, and, you know, people are wanting to
know, is there proof of that claim? That`s not negative campaigning.
That`s fair to get a candidate to be held accountable to what`s being
claimed.

We`ll vet within our own party and we`ll allow that most prepared
candidate to rise to the top. So it`s tough. It`s rough and tumble, but
this is the way that you hear claims absolutely that are being made today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now, Jonathan Capehart, opinion writer for The
Washington Post, and an MSNBC contributor; and Jackie Kucinich, national
politics reporter for USA Today. Thanks to both of you for being here
tonight.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Hey, Rev.

JACKIE KUCINICH, USA TODAY: Thanks for having me.

SHARPTON: Jonathan, are there a lot of Sarah Palins left in the GOP
who think the Bain attacks are fair game?

CAPEHART: I`m actually not surprised -- well, I`m surprised she`s
revealed herself after many months of being away. But I`m not surprised
and actually kind of heartened at her consistency of holding politicians
accountable after months and months and months of hurling brickbats at
President Obama and holding him accountable for every utterance.

She`s now doing that to Mitt Romney. And I think that Republicans who
are trying to stop fellow Republicans from asking serious and real
questions of Mitt Romney are more focused on the brand of the GOP than they
are about Mitt Romney, if you ask me.

SHARPTON: Now, Jackie, would you say that all of this back and forth
with the establishment and some of the more popular named establishment
Republicans trying to tell people, don`t talk about it, and then you have
people like Sarah Palin coming out -- today let me show you both Rick Perry
and Newt coming out. Watch this, those attacks today, as I finish this
question. But I want to put it in context.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m saying for a guy to
run for president, use his record as the basis for running, and then tell
us we`re not allowed to even ask about his record?

I`m just asking questions and I`m shocked at how defensive they are.

GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This process is about
winnowing out individuals who -- and testing whether or not they are a
flawed candidate or not. And I will tell you that when people can point to
where you`ve made a quick profit and kicked people out of their jobs, that
is an issue that`s got to be addressed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So the context I`m trying to raise, Jackie, is when you
have people, especially with the tea party having shown some strength in
South Carolina, when you have people like Palin coming out saying it`s fair
game, and Perry and Gingrich and others acting as if they are almost trying
to silence them to hide something, couldn`t this backfire on the
established Republican people that are speaking?

KUCINICH: You know, I don`t know that it`s just establishment
Republicans. Ron Paul came out and said this wasn`t a good line of attack.
I don`t think anyone would call Ron Paul establishment.

I think at the end of the day, the root of this, this might actually
help Mitt Romney at the end of the day if he becomes the nominee. Because
think about it, the Obama administration was going to go after this anyway,
so right now, we`re getting some of that vetting over with already.

And while all voters aren`t paying attention right now, a lot of them
are. And they`ll have heard this attack before. Much like Seamus the dog,
which you mentioned earlier.

SHARPTON: This could help him? How could this help him, Jackie?

KUCINICH: I think because he`s developing an answer to this issue
now. They are striking back in South Carolina now on this, and they are
getting people together who had jobs because of Bain Capital.

So I`m just saying it`s giving them practice as far as for the general
election, if they get that far. Whether this could backfire on the
establishment, I don`t know because you also have people like Jim DeMint
who South Carolinians will listen to saying this is a bad call.

SHARPTON: Jonathan, the Democrats have certainly, it seems like,
they`re not exactly weeping for Willard. Look at this where David Axelrod,
President Obama`s senior strategist, tells The New York Times, they will
likely just open the floodgates.

And an unnamed campaign strategist for the president tells Talking
Points Memo having the Republicans eat their own actually makes the Bain
story more potent than we ever could have.

CAPEHART: Well, sure. And the reason is because, could you imagine
if you had these kinds of attacks coming from the president`s re-election
campaign or a pro-Obama super PAC? People could automatically discount it
as, oh, it`s just the Democrats beating up on the Republican.

What you have now are Republicans focusing in like a laser beam on a
fellow Republican and using arguments and lines that are just tailor made
for a general election and tailor -- you just put them out there.

You don`t even have to -- the president doesn`t have to say a word.
He can let Newt Gingrich do the talking. He can let Rick Perry do the
talking. He can let or any of the other Republicans do the talking for
them.

You know, there are a couple of things that Jackie was saying that I
wanted to pick up on. One, yes, this helps Romney in that he gets to
develop his arguments that he`s going to have to use come September,
assuming he`s the nominee.

But it could also lay the groundwork for things that the Obama
campaign might have, you know, waiting once Romney is officially nominee.
So they could have some things that no one knows about right now that when
it comes out could lay on top of things on an already established record.

And then in speaking of the establishment, people keep wondering why
Newt Gingrich is doing what he`s doing when the establishment is trying to
get him to stop. One of the things I think folks should keep in mind,
could it be that Newt Gingrich views himself as the establishment?
Remember.

SHARPTON: Well, he was.

CAPEHART: Right, exactly. The 1994 revolution.

SHARPTON: Or maybe he sees these guys as kids that are -- when he was
the guy and that they are not going to teach the teacher.

CAPEHART: Right. Who are you to tell me what to do?

KUCINICH: Newt Gingrich is also the guy who said the super PAC ads
were unfair and then now that he has his own super PAC, which I might add,
I think it was tonight that Sheldon Adelson, who has written the biggest
checks for Gingrich, is backing away from this ad, saying that, no -- there
was a source I think in a Las Vegas paper that said that he is saying, oh,
no, he loves capitalism, no one would say that he doesn`t love capitalism,
and is kind of slinking away from this ad as well.

So even the people that are backing Gingrich, who has marketed himself
as the outsider`s insider outsider, somewhere along the line.

SHARPTON: Well, I think the problem you have got here is that you
have got Gingrich, who was against super PACs, now using one. And you have
Willard, who used all of these tactics against Gingrich in Iowa, now
complaining about their using it in South Carolina.

So it`s almost a question of who is the most consistent here or the
most inconsistent. But the real question, Jackie, around this whole Bain
thing is this really a question of character?

KUCINICH: That`s what they are trying to make it. It certainly
doesn`t help -- the picture they are trying to paint of Romney is that as
this kind of cold, calculating businessman, right? I mean, that`s what`s
behind all of these tactics.

So what the Romney campaign, I think, has been trying to do more is
getting his family out there, getting his wife out there, trying to
humanize this person who they are -- his opponents, be it Democrats or
Republicans, are trying to paint as this cold, calculating, Gordon Gekko, I
think, kind of figure.

And so that`s going to be a huge challenge for them to humanize him
for the general election, if he ends up the nominee.

SHARPTON: Now, Jonathan, with all of this, the South Carolina poll
says Romney is at 37 percent, Santorum 19, Gingrich 18, Paul 12, Perry 5,
Huntsman 1. If that holds, and Willard wins and wins with this kind of
margin, it would be just about a lock, don`t you think, on the nomination?

CAPEHART: Yes. I think Governor Romney would be well on his way to
becoming the nominee. But let`s keep in mind, the South Carolina Primary
is not until the 21st. Look what happened to Rick Santorum between Iowa
and New Hampshire, which was seven days. A lot can happen between now and
when folks go to the polls on Saturday the 21st.

KUCINICH: Yes, I agree with that because it is -- we watched the
polls tighten in Iowa right at the end. Everything does kind of tighten
up, especially with all these ads running and just South Carolina politics
in general. I agree, they`ll tighten.

CAPEHART: Right. South Carolina is one nasty pit when it comes to
electoral politics.

SHARPTON: Which reminds me why Willard started fighting back today
with his super PAC attacking Gingrich. So we are seeing that the fireworks
are just getting started. We have seven days to go. It`s going to be very
interesting.

Jonathan Capehart and Jackie Kucinich, thanks both of you for your
time tonight.

KUCINICH: Thank you.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, how President Obama`s case for fairness in
jobs is laying the groundwork for his re-election.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No matter who you are,
where you come from, there`s a place where you can make it if you try.
That`s at stake in this election.

I promise you change will come. If you stick with me, we`re going to
finish what we started in 2008.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Jeb Bush for president? Wait until you hear which top
Republican wanted him to run.

But first, five days to go and the Scott Walker recall petitions are
rolling in by the thousands. But the real fight is just starting. That`s
next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Now it`s time for an update from our Scott Walker has got
to go files. Just five days until recall petitions are due, and they are
reportedly rolling in by the thousands. Wisconsin Democrats announcing
today they`ll submit the petition signatures this Tuesday with a massive
drop-off of boxes at the election agency. A Democratic Party spokesperson
saying today, "We fully anticipate that we will be able to succeed in
triggering the recall." But the fight is just beginning. Walker`s team is
spending millions on TV ads and state Republicans are planning to rally
behind him next week. But we won`t stop working. We won`t stop fighting.
We won`t stop marching until we finish what we started last year. That`s
why this segment comes from the Scott Walker has got to go files.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: They`ll fight with their last
breath to protect tax cuts for the most fortunate of Americans. But
they`ll play political games with tax cuts for the middle class. It`s time
when we`re talking about reducing the deficit to also ask people like me to
pay our fair share in taxes. We can do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. That`s President Obama
last night in Chicago making the case for fairness. On a noisy public
stage, not in some quiet room. It`s becoming more clear every day that
economic justice will be the central theme of his campaign. Inequality is
the issue. And pointing that out is the perfect argument against a one
percent candidate like Mitt Romney.

Joining me now is Bob Shrum, democratic strategist and a professor at
NYU. And Perry Bacon, the politics editor of the Grio.com and an MSNBC
contributor. Thanks to both of you for being here tonight.

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Glad to be here.

PERRY BACON, POLITICS EDITOR, GRIO.COM: Thanks, al.

SHARPTON: Bob, is the Obama team right to think they`ve found a
winning message?

SHRUM: Oh, absolutely. And all you had to do was listening to the
President in that speech. He`s gained his voice. Look, for some time he`s
been determined not to let this just be a referendum on him or the economy,
although it`s getting better and that`s not a good sign for the
Republicans. He wants to make this a choice, draw dividing lines. Ask the
questions, who stands up for you? Who stands up for the middle class? Who
is on your side? And you know, what? Romney is not the answer. Not the
guy who has been pushed far to the right in the primaries, wants to
privatize Medicare, wants massive tax cuts for the wealthy. Wants to
deregulate Wall Street. Was arguably a job destroyer in the private sector
and his party is rooting for recession. You know, he is the candidate of
the one percent. That`s going to become clear and then it`s going to be
hard to get 50 percent of the vote.

SHARPTON: Now Perry, we hear Romney and the leading Republicans
telling people, deal in quiet rooms, really acting like if you question the
inequality in the country that you are some kind of socialist, that you are
unpatriotic and you contrast this with the president. Let me show you what
he said last night about social inequality.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We cannot go back to this brand of you`re on your own
economics. We believe that everybody has a stake in each other and that if
we attract an outstanding teacher to the profession by giving her the pay
and training and support that she needs, she`ll go out and educate the next
Steve Jobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now when you look at the percentage of Republicans, 55
percent saying, there`s a problem between the classes, and on and on, I
don`t see how they are trying to tell people to be quiet, Perry, or telling
people they are socialist is going to work against that kind of argument
that speaks right to where the American -- majority of Americans poll,
including Republicans are saying their concerns lay.

BACON: I think, yes, Al, what we`re seeing is Mitt Romney is kind of
an unforced error again the last couple of days with the comment about
inequality in quiet rooms. Rick Santorum who is a republican in the same
primary has talked about inequality himself. It`s not as if Republicans as
you noted in the poll, don`t see inequality. So, I`m not sure what Romney
is thinking about saying that. And the President sounds like he did in
2008 like the latest September and October after the Wall Street crash.
This is a message that won from him before. Just something he`s familiar
with talking about and argument his pretty good at making as well. So,
this is a good week for him and not as good a week for Romney the way he`s
speaking about the economy right now.

SHARPTON: Now, when I look, Bob, at the fact that this is not only
working so far to be good politics, it happens also to be good policy.
Look at the President`s top economic adviser Alan Krueger what he had to
say about how equality actually will improve the economy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ALAN KRUEGER, CHAIR, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: The evidence
suggests that a growing middle class is good for the economy. And that a
more fair distribution of income would hasten economic growth. We should
also end unnecessary tax cuts for the wealthy and return the estate tax to
what it was in 2009.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now when you look at that and contrast that with Romney`s
tax plan, which is really a complete handout to the top one percent, in his
plan, the bottom 20 percent would only get a one percent tax cut while the
top one percent would only -- would get a 38 percent tax cut. One percent
for the bottom 20 percent, 38 percent for the top. I mean, when you
contrast what both of them are saying and proposing, it`s almost impossible
for me to understand how Willard Romney could think he would get to 50
percent, as you said.

SHRUM: Well, look. You`ve got to take the other. You`re right about
that. You`ve got to take the book end of that because if you pass that
kind of tax cut with these massive giveaways to the wealthy, who is going
to pay for it? Well, the Romney plan tells you who is going to pay for it.
He`s endorsed Paul Ryan`s Medicare proposal which means seniors would be
paying $6,000 more a year. He wants to shred a whole set of social
programs, cap federal spending, make the government incapable of dealing
with recession and responding to recession. So this is somebody who would
take us back to the economic inequality that we saw in this country before
Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, even Ronald Reagan,
by the way, who never challenged the major parts of the new deal. He would
take us back to the days when the few did very, very well and the rest of
us did not do very well. But I`ll tell you something. It is absolutely
right that if you get greater income equality, you get greater prosperity.
You know, look at the Clinton years. We had higher marginal tax rates. We
created millions of additional jobs. We had full employment. And we had a
surplus. So I think that argument is pretty sound on policy grounds and
political grounds.

SHARPTON: Bob, you ran the candidate against Romney in `94, Senator
Kennedy. You beat him in `94. How would you beat him now?

SHRUM: Well, first of all, I had an extraordinary candidate, and I
think Barack Obama is an extraordinary candidate, too. Two things happened
in that race. One, the Bain capital issue emerged. People found out about
what Romney had really done. In those days by the way, Al, he was saying
he had created 10,000 jobs. That suddenly ballooned to 100,000 jobs.

SHARPTON: So Bain is not new?

SHRUM: No. Bain is not new.

SHARPTON: Just the figures are new since we`re running 50 states,
we`ve tried to inflate the figures a little bit.

SHRUM: Yes, he`s just raised the figures. But we had five ads where
workers got on and they ran in rotation and told what he had done to them
when he`d taken over the company. The other thing that happened, and I
think Romney has to worry about this because while he`s programmed for
these debates, he`s stiff. He went into that debate which he demanded in
1994 against Senator Kennedy and Senator Kennedy annihilated him in the
debate. There were points at which Romney was almost spluttering. So I
think that we`ve seen this election before. Romney, by the way, had been
ahead in that campaign in `94 and ultimately Senator Kennedy won by 18
points.

SHARPTON: Now, Perry, I read you guys at the Grio.com. But I heard
some news today that I didn`t even get off you guys and you guys keep me up
to speed. Did you know that a leading republican wanted Jeb Bush to run
this year? And that they felt this was the year he should go for it? Let
me show you. On our screen. Laura Bush said that we wanted him to run
this time. Quoted by the "Sarasota Herald-Tribune." I think that`s very
interesting.

BACON: I`m not surprised by that. I mean, if you look at the
candidates we`ve seen this year if you could run Jeb Bush, Michele
Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, this has not been a stellar group of
candidates from the republican side. So, I think Jeb Bush would have been
up there. I don`t know if he would have won the election -- won the
primary. He has a very big last name problem, of course. But I do agree
he would have been among the stronger candidates for the republican field.
So, I`m not surprised to hear that actually.

SHARPTON: Bob Shrum, Perry Bacon Jr., thanks for your time tonight.

BACON: Thanks for having me on.

SHARPTON: Ahead, the right wingers are going undercover and possibly
breaking all kinds of laws trying to show voter fraud exists. It`s a phony
publicity stunt, and we`re setting the record straight tonight.

And a dog is a man`s best friend unless you are Willard`s dog. Newt`s
blowing the lid off of this one. Trust me. You`ll want to hear this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The right wing. The fraudulent campaign they are waging.
You won`t believe. They`re making up voter fraud. It could be a joke,
except they may have broken the law. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Right wingers are so desperate to justify their radical
voter suppression agenda, they`ll do anything. Even if it means possibly
committing voter fraud themselves. You may remember this guy. He`s the
professional smear artist who was behind the fake Acorn scandal. Now he
sent his cohorts out to fraudulently collect primary ballots in New
Hampshire using names of voters who recently died. Federal law says, it`s
illegal to get ballots, quote, "that are known by the person to be
materially false, fictitious or fraudulent." Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: There you go.

(INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: OK. Thank you for that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

This sure looks like they are getting ballots to me. Also, New
Hampshire law requires all parties to agree when they are being recorded.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Hello.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Do you have a Robert Bailey on your list?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: A what?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Robert Bailey.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Do you have a Thomas McCarron?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Spell your last name.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I don`t see consent there. But no matter what games this
guy or anyone else tries, it`s baloney. Voter fraud does not exist on a
major scale, period. The right wingers are trying to fool the public and
games and tricks are their strategy. In this New Hampshire scheme, the
conservative provocateur claims he got his hand on more than a dozen
ballots. But if these radical voter ID laws were passed nationwide, 21
million voters would no longer be able to vote. Is that anyway to justify
these radical laws? They have one goal, stop blacks Latinos, elderly and
the poor from voting.

Joining me now from Manchester, New Hampshire, is Paul Bergeron. He
is from Nashua, New Hampshire. He`s city clerk in Nashua and has been in
charge of overseeing elections in Nashua for 12 years. Paul, thanks for
joining me tonight.

PAUL BERGERON, NASHUA, NEW HAMPSHIRE CITY CLERK: Thank you for having
me. Glad to be here.

SHARPTON: Did these guys break New Hampshire law in trying to record
getting some voter ballots with dead men`s names that they knew were dead?

BERGERON: Well, in my belief they did and certainly I know the
attorney general`s office is investigating the matter. These people went
up to the checklist table and presented themselves as being people that
they were not. And our election laws state that anyone who poses as a
different individual as to the qualifications as a voter has committed a
crime in our election laws and is subject to a civil penalty of up to
$5,000. They took physical possession of the ballots. And that, to me,
shows that they were acting in illegal manner.

SHARPTON: Now, Paul, according to what we`ve been able to get,
including some of the information from Republicans, there`s been a case of
one case of voter fraud in the last several years in New Hampshire. Just
one in the whole state.

BERGERON: I`m only aware of one. It happened on the sea coast area
and was a young man who used his father`s name to obtain a ballot. And he
went to court and was found guilty and sentenced to community service.

SHARPTON: One out of three million votes. Just one. So if, in fact,
this man Akit (ph) collected more than a dozen ballots during this film, he
actually increased fraud in the state by 1200 percent to try to prove there
was a problem that didn`t exist.

BERGERON: Yes, you don`t prove that there`s been voter fraud by
committing it yourself. He`s establishing an activity that creates a voter
fraud situation and it`s his own activity that should be looked at and
prosecuted.

SHARPTON: So, Paul, you are there. You are the city clerk in Nashua.
Do you feel there is a problem of voter fraud in the state?

BERGERON: No, I do not. I have not seen enough instances of any
voter fraud in the state. I know the attorney general`s office
investigates any claims of voter fraud and have not found any to be of
substance.

SHARPTON: Now, the estimates from -- that we`ve been able to get from
the secretary of state in New Hampshire estimates that 50,000 to 75,000 New
Hampshire residents don`t have photo ID. The fact is that if you put photo
ID laws in, you are actually disenfranchising legitimate voters and you`re
not stopping massive voter fraud because there is no massive voter fraud.

BERGERON: Yes. Let`s not forget that it`s also possible to
counterfeit IDs as well. So if someone were to decide that they wanted to
commit fraud in a state that has voter ID laws, that can still be done.
We`re not changing or limiting voter fraud by putting up obstacles to get
to the ballot box.

SHARPTON: Very interesting. So if you are saying that even if you
have photo ID, if one was really trying to play a fraudulent game, they
could just play phony voter IDs. So this investigation really would amount
to much of nothing anyway.

BERGERON: Absolutely.

SHARPTON: It`s amazing. Have you in your experience, and I`ve got to
let you go, I know, but in your experience, have you ever had a concern
raised about massive voter fraud? I know you said it is not there, but I`m
trying to find out where this came from giving them all the benefit of the
doubt that maybe I`m wrong, that it`s not geared for a certain demographic.
But has people come up to you saying they are worried about voter fraud?

BERGERON: No, I don`t get a lot of complaints about that.
Occasionally in an election, someone will complain that a car without a
state plates or a bus with out of state plates are bringing people from
across the border. But there are some out there who believe there are
conspiracies in every action that government is involved in. And I haven`t
seen any instances of voter fraud up until this particular election in my
city or the city that I worked in previously.

SHARPTON: Well, it`s up 1200 percent. Now you got 13. Paul
Bergeron, thanks for joining us tonight.

BERGERON: You`re welcome. Thank you.

SHARPTON: Up next, the dog story that`s hounding Mitt Romney on the
campaign trail. Would you put your pet on top of your car on the highway?
Willard did. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: They say if you want a friend in Washington, you should get
a dog. And lots of politicians have taken that advice. Willard Romney has
a dog story of his very own. On a trip in the `80s, Mitt Romney strapped
the family`s Irish setter Seamus to the roof of his car for a 12-hour
drive. The story has been hounding Willard ever since. A Seamus look
alike has popped up on the campaign trail. And Newt Gingrich is reminding
voters about the story in his latest ad from this dog eat dog republican
primary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He climbed up there
regularly, enjoyed himself. He was in a kennel at home a great deal of
time as well. We love the dog. It was where he was comfortable. We had
five kids inside the car. My guess is he liked it a lot better in his
kennel than he would have inside.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Romney isn`t the first politician to take heat for his
pooch. President Johnson took a lot of heat for this picture showing him
holding his beagle up by the ears. But politicians have hidden behind
their pets, too. When Richard Nixon was accused of accepting improper
donations in 1952, he won back public opinion by talking about his getting
his dog checkers from a supporter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. PRES. RICHARD NIXON, UNITED STATES: And you know, the kids, like
all kids, love the dog. And I just want to say this right now that
regardless of what they say about it, we`re going to keep him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Mitt can`t score those kinds of points off Seamus. It`s
for voters to decide what if he did to that dog tells us a whole lot about
him. Willard, corporations are people. Dogs like being strapped down on
the roof of the car for 12 hours. People that want to save their jobs and
get their benefits are just envious. I`m a little concerned about how you
see the world, Willard. Thanks for watching.

I`m Al Sharpton. "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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