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PoliticsNation, Friday, January 20, 2012

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Guests: E.J. Dionne; Melissa Harris-Perry; Chris Hayes, Dick Harpootlian, Jeff Johnson, Maria Teresa Kumar, Anthony Hemingway, Roscoe Brown, Nate Parker

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Welcome to "Politics Nation." I`m Al
Sharpton. South Carolina`s showdown, Willard is back on his heels, and
Newt is surging again. He just may win tomorrow`s primary. We`ll cover
all of it. But we begin tonight with a debate comment that really stuck
with me because it cuts at the heart of this campaign and this country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am going to be able to talk to
President Obama in a way nobody else can that`s in this race now about how
the free economy works, how to put Americans back to work and this
divisiveness dividing Americans between 99 percent and one percent is
dangerous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Dividing Americans between 99 and one is dangerous? No, Mr.
Romney, it`s not talking about the huge divide in this country. That`s the
problem. Because that divide is reality. And Willard Romney`s
unwillingness and the Republican Party`s unwillingness to address it is
what are really divisive.

Just take a look at these facts. In the past 30 years, the top one percent
has seen their incomes skyrocket by 275 percent while the poor has remained
stagnant. The land of opportunity is now a land where one in two Americans
is poor or low income. And yet we know that the top 400 families have more
wealth than the next 150 million Americans combined.

We are now less economically mobile than Canada and most of Western Europe.
And at a time when 66 percent of Americans say there`s class conflict
between the rich and the poor, this is what Republicans want to talk about?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Let`s not have the federal government continue to extend its
tentacles into everything that goes on in this country.

RON PAUL (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would like to see massive
reduction of regulations.

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This president is putting a
burden on manufacturers and business. It`s the reason they`re not -- we`re
not making things here. I`ll repeal every single one of those regulations
on day one.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Under Ronald Reagan we had the
right job, the right laws, the right leadership.

ROMNEY: We spoke about the fact that regulation is overwhelming us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Regulation, that`s the answer to what we`re facing with so many
families hurting? Americans are taking to the streets in outrage. And
you`re worried about regulations? Millions are struggling, and that`s your
answer? This won`t work. Not for this time and a front-runner who is so
out of touch with what a desperate country needs to hear, well, he won`t be
a front-runner for very long, much less a president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: The country already has a leader who divides us with the bitter
politics of envy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are there no fair questions about the distribution of
wealth without it being seen as envy, though?

ROMNEY: You know, I think its fine to talk about those things in quiet
rooms.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What will you do to support the 99 percent seeing as
you are part of the one percent?

ROMNEY: Let me tell you something. America is a great nation. You know
what? America`s right and you`re wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now is E.J. Dionne, columnist for "the Washington
Post." and MSNBC contributor. And Professor Melissa Harris Perry, also an
MSNBC contributor and columnist for "the Nation." thank you both for being
here tonight.

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks.

E.J. DIONNE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Good to be in your quiet room, reverend.

SHARPTON: Well, we`re going to make a little noise in the quiet room
tonight because I couldn`t get over that comment last night dividing
America like America`s not divided. We`re trying to end the division.

Let me start with you. How can Republicans succeed when they don`t want to
talk about the defining issue of our time and that is the economic
disparity in this country?

DIONNE: Well, I think it`s a really interesting tactic that they are
pursuing. I mean, it`s OK to divide us between the real America and the
rest of the country which presumably lives in some other place. It`s OK to
divide us between pro-European socialists or something like that against
people who uphold traditional American ideas. But it`s not OK to describe
a real problem which is growing inequality over the last 30 years.

I think this kind of rhetoric they are using is indication that they know
that this new discussion is very problematic for them. Because it`s a
discussion of how their tax policies ended up favoring wealthy people. And
it`s a discussion over how developments in the economy have led to a
greater concentration of wealth and income. So I don`t think they`re going
to get around this discussion, but I don`t think it`s a discussion that
they are eager to have.

SHARPTON: Now Professor Perry, the country is divided, the tax laws, those
with capital gains and don`t have to pay like its income. The rich and the
poor, the gap is wider than it`s ever been. The rich, as I showed, have
increased their income by 275 percent while working poor has been about
stagnant. But I missed it because I probably was at a rally or March.
All, that is, just happened in the last 2 1/2, 3 years, under President
Obama. He divided America. None of this was there when he got there.

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, he divided America and then handed out food stamps.
Right after he divided. Look, I actually think there`s a strategy here.
And I think that it`s not a completely wrong-headed strategy if you are
thinking just purely, how I get voters on my side.

The story you told is about a long history. It`s about complicated policy.
It`s about structures that work to benefit one group but not another. If
the story I tell isn`t complicated, it`s just, look. Some people work
hard. Other people don`t. If you work hard, don`t worry. Pretty soon
you`ll get your rewards. Then I tap into that kind of easy story. And, in
fact, what I can say is not only if you work hard you`ll eventually get
your rewards, but if you`re not getting them, it`s not your fault and it`s
not the fault of a long history or deeply embedded structures of
inequality. It`s president Obama`s fault.

And when we take those political stories and instead of trying to bring
solutions to the real issues of inequality we say you can work hard and as
soon as we get this bad guy out of office, then your hard work will pay
off. Well, that`s the kind of thing that, for many voters it just feels
better to think that the world is like that rather than think it`s
complicated.

SHARPTON: Now E.J., it`s funny that professor went there because Charles
Krauthammer today, a conservative columnist. He even admits this guy,
Willard Mitt Romney, fits into the democratic narrative. He will be a
liability if he keeps where he is now. Let me read what he says. He says,
"But the beauty of this strategy is its adaptability. While its first
target was the do nothing protect the rich congress, it is perfectly
tailored to fit the liabilities of Republican front-runner Mitt Romney,
plutocrat, capitalist, one percenter. This is no mainstream media
conspiracy. This is the GOP maneuvering itself right on to Obama terrain."

DIONNE: You know, when my friend Charles gets worried like that, it`s
reassuring to me. Because I think he really identified the Republicans`
problem right now. That Mitt Romney has just had a terrible problem
talking about wealth. Talking about his taxes and when he`s going to
release them. That now famous statement they didn`t make much from
speeches and it turned out to be $370,000 a year or something on that
order.

And so for the last week, he has been playing right into the core
democratic argument about inequality. And it was interesting. Paul
Krugman had a column in "The New York Times" today pointing out, alright,
let`s forget about Mitt Romney. Let`s just talk about what`s wrong with
the tax system that allows somebody like him to pay only 15 percent. So
everything he`s been doing in the last week has just as Charles Krauthammer
said, been playing into the democratic narrative.

SHARPTON: Now, Professor Perry, when you look at what the GOP candidates
for president are saying that they want to do, this is their policies for
the one percent. Tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. New tax cuts for
corporations, support ending Medicare, as we know it. Support cutting
Social Security. Oppose the Buffett rule. I mean, this is going to unite
Americans? This is going to really make everyone have an even playing
field? We don`t expect equal results, but we expect fairness and an even
playing field and equal opportunity.

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, look. Here was the fantasy world that Mitt Romney was
living in last night when he was suggesting that these kinds of policies,
deregulation tax cuts. What he said is when companies are more profitable
then they will create jobs. They will hire. That is the main myth that
keeps being perpetrated by the Republicans. If there are fewer
regulations, less tax burden, corporations will create jobs.

But corporate profits are skyrocketing. Corporate profits are just fine.
Corporate profits are at an all-time high and they are not hiring. And the
fact that they can make these profits without laborers is exactly why they
won`t hire more. It is exactly the opposite of what is likely to happen.

SHARPTON: E.J., I have to go but I need to ask you this. The charge that
the president is anti-capitalism and anti-business from the author of the
"New York times" op-ed, Willard, who wrote "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,"
President Obama did such anti-capitalist things like saving general motors
and the auto industry which was the main bedrock of American capitalism. I
mean, do you think they are going to get away with this?

DIONNE: Well, I mean if President Obama hates rich people and is a
socialist, why are there so many rich people in the country making quite a
lot of money right now. If anything some of his supporters are a little
frustrated then he hasn`t been more aggressive against Wall Street and the
like.

So, I don`t know. It will work with the people who vote Republican on a
regular basis. I just find it hard to believe it`s going to be broadly
persuasive to the rest of the country.

SHARPTON: E.J. Dionne and Melissa Harris-Perry, thanks for coming on the
show tonight.

DIONNE: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead. Willard`s sinking. He`s feeling the heat big time. And
he`s not handling it well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Now it`s my turn. Why don`t I finish and then you can ask the
other question.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Whoa. This is the guy they want leading?

Plus, as they go at it, President Obama produces real results. Big news
tonight on some very positive signs for the Obama camp.

And from James Brown to Michael Jackson, the world`s famous Apollo
Theater`s known for legendary acts. And they can add another one to the
list.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I so in love with you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Not bad, Mr. President. I`ll have more to say about this one.
You`re watching "Politics Nation" only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: You want to see the look of a man sinking? Here it is.
Willard`s refusal to release his tax returns has him wilting in the South
Carolina sunshine. And Newt is surging. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: What does it look like when things are slipping? Well, it looks
like this. Here`s Willard looking angry for having to answer a question on
fairness. And it looks like this today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: You were booed and jeered --

ROMNEY: Well, we have some people of other campaigns, of course that are
in the audience and so different campaigns --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: But your concerned that --

ROMNEY: Cheer and boo people based upon the interests of their campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: If I can finish my question.

ROMNEY: Yes, certainly --

ROMNEY: Now it`s my turn. Why don`t I finish and then you can ask the
other question. I can`t possibly tell you that everything I do in the
campaign is perfect.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That`s for sure, Willard. This growing call to release his
taxes is really getting to him. And he`s not helping himself on the big
stage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: When they are completed this year in April, I`ll release my
returns in April and probably for other years as well. I pay a lot of
taxes. I`ve been very successful. And when I have our taxes ready for
this year, I`ll release them. You know, I don`t know how many years I`ll
release. I`ll take a look at what the -- what our documents are -- and
I`ll release multiple years. I don`t know how many years, but I`ll be
happy to do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Wow. And how can he be that woefully unprepared for the
question on taxes everyone knows is coming. And while Mitt sinks, Newt is
surging. Four new polls out in South Carolina have Newt leading by as much
as six points. And nationally, Willard dropped seven points this week
while Newt raised six. Willard`s not connecting. But Newt is hard wired
to the heart of the GOP.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: I am tired of the elite media protecting Barack Obama by
attacking Republicans.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: One day to go. This is going to get to be fun.

Joining me now from Columbia, South Carolina, is Dick Harpootlian, chairman
of the South Carolina Democratic Party and Chris Hayes, host of "up with
Chris Hayes" here on MSNBC. Thanks for you both being here tonight.

Dick, is Newt`s surge real and as strong as it is appearing?

DICK HARPOOTLIAN, CHAIRMAN, SOUTH CAROLINA DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Around the
state today because I had the same question. Is this something we in the
sort of political commentary class see or is it real? Less than two hours
ago, he had a rally in Orangeburg, not 50 miles from where I`m sitting,
1200 people showed up. Romney`s lucky to get 20 to show up. There is
something going on out there. And it`s a visceral reaction to Newt that he
is, as you know, in the south, these politicians bombastic that excite you
that point fingers and make strong points. They excite people. And he`s a
throwback to that. And he has caught fire here whereas Willard or Mitt,
whatever you want to call him is a guy with a glass jaw. He won`t answer
the questions.

You know, this is a guy who continues to tell us he got where he was
because of his hard work and good luck. What his hard work and good luck.
It was his good luck to be born to a daddy who worked hard. And it`s
becoming clear he`s Richie rich. That won`t -- he`s got money in the
Caymans. What does that mean? The only people I ever hear about with
money in the Caymans are doing something illegal. They are smuggling drugs
or sheltering money they ought to be paying taxes on.

So the image out there with the average South Carolinian, now the average
South Carolinian makes $30,000 a year. Mitt Romney said he made an
inconsequential amount giving speeches, $400,000. That`s not resonating
with those folks. He`s a Richie rich guy.

SHARPTON: He acted like that was not a large sum of money. And it was
more than ten times what the average South Carolinian makes annually.

HARPOOTLIAN: Absolutely.

SHARPTON: He acted like it was nothing.

Let me ask you, Chris, when you look at this whole issue with the tax
returns and full disclosure, Romney said today his financial report is much
more telling than his tax returns. Last night, Gingrich at last night`s
debate said Romney shouldn`t be holding back handing over his returns. And
then Willard comes back today telling Mr. Gingrich to release his ethics
report. I mean, these guys are just going at it like --

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, UP WITH CHRIS HAYES: Someone said today the brand
fight the Republican Party does not want to have is you release your tax
returns. No you release your ethics report. What I think it`s about --

SHARPTON: I think it`s wonderful.

HAYES: Well, sure, from the perspective of the Democrats. They couldn`t
hope for anything more. What`s interesting about Romney, aside from the
awkwardness and aside from his sort of, you know, manifest malpractice last
night in not having a better answer prepared for the obvious question about
his tax returns and how much he`s going to release and how many years he`s
going to release is the fact he seems to have embraced this identity as Mr.
one percent.

SHARPTON: Right.

HAYES: Because I think he thinks in the Republican field, his way of
connecting with Republican voters is to hold himself up as the heroic
capitalist as the job creator who the Democrats want to bring down with
their politics of envy. That`s the way he thinks he can viscerally connect
with Republican voters.

And I think Newt has a better way are connecting with Republican primary
voters which is bashing the elite media, which is, you know, showing
himself as a victim of the elite media. And he has an instinctual
connection to the rhetoric of right wing reaction in a way that Romney just
doesn`t.

SHARPTON: Well, I think part of the instinct, and I want you to elaborate
a minute and I`m going back to Dick. But elaborate a minute on that whole
how no matter what he does, Willard seems to personify that one percent and
he can`t break out of that.

And I think instinctively, not only does Newt not know how to relate to it.
Newt looks and acts angry and whether it`s on the tea party on the right or
the Occupy or civil rights on the left, everybody is angry. At least Newt
is acting like he`s mad. Willard is like almost saying, what is everybody
upset about?

HAYES: That`s the real -- I think that`s a great way of putting it. I
mean, I think -- and the tenor of the times, the mood of the country is one
of intense, unease, disquiet and anger. I mean, that`s true across the
political - -

SHARPTON: Right.

HAYES: Because we have incredibly high unemployment, stagnant minimum
wages, huge amount to personal bankruptcy for closure and people feel the
country is on the wrong trackers. It`s not going thing around going very
well.

And so, the question is how do you speak to that? Newt has a much more
intuitive sense. I think it`s very funny. The most telling thing about
Romney`s reaction is the smile he keeps giving. And it`s almost like the
Romney-bot software is saying smile but the Romney-bot hardware is a
grimace. You know something get lost in the connection. You supposed to
smile but it`s just so, so absolutely filled with content.

SHARPTON: I think both waters are getting jammed. They are like
countering each other.

Dick, let me say to you, "The New York Times" calculated the odds of each
candidate winning South Carolina where you are. And their money is on
Newt. I mean, they are saying that the chances of winning 64 percent for
Gingrich, 36 percent for Romney. We are less than, what, 12 hours, 14
hours before the polls open down there. I mean, no one would have thought
a week ago this was possible.

HARPOOTLIAN: You know, none of us, again, thought it was going to turn out
like this. But beginning on Monday, there`s been a constant shift. I`ve
got to tell you. I don`t know whether it`s because of Mitt or really
because of Newt or the comparison between the two. But the shift is huge.
And I think it`s going to be -- I think as we say down here that Newt is
going to open a can of whoop ass tomorrow afternoon.

SHARPTON: Well, I thought he was working on his second can last night, but
let me ask you, what does this mean going forward, Chris?

HAYES: You know it`s funny. We were having an editorial meeting with my
staff a few days ago and I was saying. You know, I think this is wrapped
up. And, you know, I think if Gingrich -- here`s the thing. Gingrich is
the first candidate, the first Romney alternative to survive one of these
peaks and valleys, right? Everyone else had their turn from Bachmann to
Cain to Donald Trump, all these people.

The only one that`s survived the bubble bursting and come back to be
competitive and actually win something, if, in fact, Gingrich wins is
Gingrich. That makes him a genuine credible competitor to Romney going
forward. I mean, that is -- it really genuinely is a race. The question
after that is, can he raise the money and put in place the kind of long
game persistence he`s going to need.

SHARPTON: I`ve got an idea on that at the end of this.

But Dick, let me ask you before I wrap this up. You are there in South
Carolina. You know politics well. If, in fact, Gingrich upsets Romney and
wins tomorrow night or even comes close, going into Florida, he`s a harder
guy to deal with, and going forward, it can go up and down.

Do you think then the establishment of the Republican Party will try to go
for brokered convention and bring in somebody else like a Daniels from
Indiana who just by some logic we don`t know yet is giving the answer to
the president`s state of the union address on Tuesday night?

HARPOOTLIAN: I think that would be a tough thing to do. I do think that
as we - I mean, what`s going on here is some of the most brutal campaigning
I`ve ever seen, very negative ads, under the radar stuff.

But remember this now. The Republicans here claim and tout the fact that
everyone that`s won this primary since 1980 has gone on to win the
nomination. So this is, if Newt wins tomorrow, he`s preordained to be the
nominee based on that logic.

SHARPTON: Dick Harpootlian and Chris Hayes, thanks for being here tonight.

Let me say this. Many people said when Rick Perry came out of the race
yesterday he was only at four, five, maybe six percent among voters in
South Carolina. He didn`t have a lot of votes to give to Newt Gingrich who
he endorsed. And that may or may not be true, depending on how close the
race is, if he can deliver a lot of that four, five percent in a close
race, it would be substantial.

But what I want to offer tonight is there`s something else we better watch
with Rick Perry. He raised a lot of money. And if he can deliver his
money guys over to Newt Gingrich, he answers what Chris Hayes brought up.
Newt can then get the noun go all the way and match Romney. Let`s not
forget that Mr. Perry made $17.2 million in the first quarter of his
candidacy, $17.2 million. He left the race with six percent in Carolina,
five percent nationally.

If he can get the big money guys and ladies that supported him to now
support Newt, then we will be able to see Newt say, financially, he can go
for the long run. And that might make Willard keep screaming at reporters.

One year from today, someone will be inaugurated president, the president
with more results to sell. Big news tonight.

And it was a story made for Hollywood. The legendary Tuskegee air men
fought for country and fought for equality. Now it`s on the big screen.
We`ll talk to a true American hero. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Today we lost a legend. One of the greatest voices of all time.
Etta James passed away this morning from leukemia. She was 73 years old.
Today Aretha Franklin remembered her, quote, "Etta James was one of the
great soul singers of our generation, an American original. I loved
"Pushover," "At Last" and almost any and everything she recorded," said
Aretha Franklin. When Etta sung, you heard it. James was probably best
known for the song "At Last." The president and first lady danced to that
song at the inaugural ball.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: Let it be said by our children`s
children that when we were tested, we refused to let this journey end. And
with eyes fixed on the horizon and God`s grace upon us, we carried forth
that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Welcome back. That was inauguration day three years ago today.
And exactly one year from today, it will be inauguration day again.
Between now and then, the republican game plan will be simple. Blame
everything on the President. Never mind the facts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This president is the biggest
impediment to job growth in this country.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Why is President Obama for
young people being allowed to stay on their parents` insurance until 26?
Because he can`t get any jobs for them to go out and buy their own
insurance.

(APPLAUSE)

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Because you have the Democratic
Party and Barack Obama and all he wants to do is make them more dependent.
Give them more food stamps. Give them more Medicaid.

ROMNEY: Frankly, any one of them would be a better president than the one
we`ve got.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Really? You mean, the President who got us out of Iraq. Took
down Bin Laden, saved the auto industry and helped avoid a depression? You
mean that president? But despite all the real results and accomplishments,
this is shaping up to be a tough year head. The President`s job approval
has averaged 44 percent this month. Among the all-important independent
voter, Mitt Romney is actually ahead of President Obama, polling 50 to 38
percent. How will it play out? And what does he need to do to sell his
many accomplishments?

Joining me now is Jeff Johnson, a contributor to MSNBC and Maria Teresa
Kumar, executive director ofVoto Latino and an MSNBC contributor. Jeff, do
you think the Obama record of success is getting lost out there?

JEFF JOHNSON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think that it is -- it has gotten lost
from the standpoint that the campaign, the administration and the
Democratic Party, for that matter, has not done a good job of talking about
it. At the end of the day, the Republicans have controlled the
conversation. They`ve controlled what the issues are. But I don`t -- I
really want to see the administration and really the campaign talk about
the auto industry, talk about the bills that got passed from `08 to `10.
Talk about the fact that people are now able with pre-existing condition to
be able to get health insurance. Talk about young people that are able to
get Pell Grants and go to school. These are all wins that the Obama
administration made happen. I just don`t hear them shouting it from the
rooftops so those independent voters have something else to make a decision
based upon.

SHARPTON: Now, aside from being one of the more known commentators in the
country. I know you to be a great youth organizer. Let me show you this.
In 2008, President Obama in -- among voters 18 to 29 beat John McCain, 66
percent of that vote to 32 percent. Will he be able to do those same
precedent-setting numbers with the youth vote this time? And if not, how
can he try to correct that?

JOHNSON: I think it`s going to be challenging for those record-setting
numbers to happen again just because people were so interested in making
history. But I think that the system that this campaign has in place under
Messina I think is poised to be able to engage them in a way that above and
beyond whatever happened in 2008. So, I think the apparatus is in place.
If they are able to get that message to those young people, I think that
they can energize them. But that is yet to happen.

SHARPTON: Now, Maria, you are pretty good at organizing young people
yourself. What do you say about those youth numbers? How do they get
close to that again?

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, VOTO LATINO: Well, the Obama campaign has already
started organizing since January. We`ve never seen such historic -- any
presidential campaign organizing now for November. He understands the gap
that he needs to do. So, not only is he going to the key states that he
cares about but he`s moving into Florida no later than April. He`s already
identified field organizers in Arizona where he believes is at play and in
Texas. All areas that you just need to tilt the youth vote a little bit
and get them excited. He really has to carry that message to young people
as Jeff was saying though about not only about health care but about Pell
Grants, also continuing education. Small business loans. There`s
definitely different things that he`s done but he has to close the gap. My
concern with him, though is that they`ve been very timid about sharing
their message. And while right now with independents they might like Mitt
Romney, they don`t like flip-floppers. So, the more Mitt Romney keeps
talking out two of sides of his mouth, the more difficult he`s going to be
to convince independent voters that he`s actually the one for them.

SHARPTON: Now, Maria. When you look at the Latino vote, five potential
swing states where the Latino vote could make the difference. Virginia,
Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and Florida. Where is the Latino vote now, and
what does the president need to do, if anything, to intensify his support
because if those swing states are close, the Latino vote could be the
deciding factor.

KUMAR: The Latino vote is absolutely going to be the deciding factor.
There`s a reason why he`s going into Arizona early. He sees that he can
flip it from a republican stronghold. That`s why he`s going into Colorado.
He sees that opportunity. It`s not surprising that why you have Mitt
Romney and you have Gingrich right now fighting for Florida because it`s
going to be crucial and critical. It`s not the traditional Latino voters
in Florida. You see a lot of Puerto Ricans who are already U.S. citizens
who have a history of voting from the island that has have to come out.
What he needs to do is actually close that enthusiasm gap. Remind them on
what the step that he`s done on not just the most recently on immigration.
On reunification programs that he`s done. But also talk about education,
increasing the job market and talking about people trying to -- the
policies that he`s done to ensure that foreclosures that people are facing
it, that they stay in their homes. Because Latinos has proportionately
with African-Americans have lost their homes. So, he has to carry that
message. And I also encourage him to identify very strong surrogates so
that they can carry that message. Last time he focused on individuals that
hadn`t been as seasoned. He needs really to go back into the community and
have those folks come out and carry that message for him.

SHARPTON: Well, aside Maria, from strong surrogates and the Latino
community, those surrogates has a real added help from another speaker.
Let me show you what Willard said about the Dream Act.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I`ve indicated I would veto the dream act if provisions included
in that act to say that people who are here illegally if they go to school
here long enough, get a degree here that they can become permanent
residents. I think that`s a mistake.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Does that not energize a lot of voters in the Latino community,
Maria?

KUMAR: I don`t know who is advising Mitt Romney. It`s as if he`s actually
working with the same consultants that advised Meg Whitman. He`s taking a
playbook from her very similar to what she said. She was very supportive
of Latinos but not with the Dream Act. All of a sudden he`s bringing in
Kris Kobach, you know, the author of anti-immigration language but at the
same time, speaking to Latinos in Spanish. And we speak both languages.
So, he`s speaking from both sides of his mouth. And Latinos most of all
believe that not only is the Dream Act important for the American economy
but why are you going to stifle kids for everything from actually
contributing to America when they feel American. And I think that`s where
he doesn`t quite understand the pulse of one of the few issues that unifies
Latinos regardless of background and of political party.

SHARPTON: Jeff, food stamps has become almost synonymous with black people
by name overtly. This is not even inferred. And will this energize a
turnout that may not have been as energized and angry if they keep hearing
it in the African-American community and other communities of color, this
almost making us synonymous with food stamps and people that need
assistance.

JOHNSON: A handout.

SHARPTON: A handout.

JOHNSON: I mean, I think at the end of the day, the food stamp piece is
just one of them. I`m hoping that if the campaign doesn`t hit back hard as
it ramps back up that there are some Super PACs and some messaging C-4s
that hit back hard on really what is one end insensitive to racist
undertones that we`ve heard through an entire GOP primary season. And if
that doesn`t happen, I think there`s a missed opportunity because there are
a lot of Americans, not just those that are black or disenfranchised that
don`t want to hear somebody that`s going to be running for president using
that kind of racist language to represent any citizen of the United States.

SHARPTON: Absolutely. And the fact that most people on food stamps are
white. And many of them work every day. Jeff Johnson and Maria Teresa
Kumar. We`ll have to let it hold right there. Thank you both for being
with me tonight.

KUMAR: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Ahead, the inspiring story of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen hits
the big screen tonight. We`ll hear from one of those heroes tonight. And
my take on President Obama like you`ve never seen him before.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Today the nation laid a hero to rest at Arlington. National
Cemetery. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Luke Weathers Jr. He was a
Tuskegee Airmen. One of the African-American pilots who served during
World War II at a time when the country`s military was segregated. So,
it`s only fitting that a movie celebrating the achievements of the Tuskegee
Airmen opens today. It`s called "Red Tails." And I had an opportunity to
sit with some of the people involved in the movie.

Joining me now to talk about that is Anthony Hemingway, director of "Red
Tails," Nate Parker, the lead actor, and in the film, it`s an honor for me
to bring on our show. We are joined by Dr. Roscoe Brown, one of the
Tuskegee Airmen who served as the squadron commander during World War II,
and a man I`ve had the pleasure of knowing since I was 16. Helped raise me
in the civil rights movement. Thank you gentlemen for joining me tonight.

DR. ROSCOE BROWN, ONE OF THE TUSKEGEE AIRMEN: Pleasure.

SHARPTON: Mr. Brown, you grew up in the 1930s, and you loved airplanes.
But segregation kept preventing you from flying for the military. And then
that all changed. Tell us about it.

BROWN: It changed largely because of the efforts of the NAACP and the
black press because in 1925, the military had issued a study that said that
blacks didn`t have the coordination, the intelligence or the leadership
ability to be pilots. When World War II came about, they wanted blacks to
support it. So the black press and NAACP said, look, we want people in the
best branches of the service, the most glamorous flying. So as a result,
they created this program at Tuskegee which started in 1941 and eventually
trained 1,000 pilots.

SHARPTON: Now, it`s almost incomprehensible, Anthony, to even my age and
you all are younger than me, that blacks couldn`t serve and defend the
country. They actually had to fight the enemy abroad and fight the
segregation in the ranks of the military. That`s almost inconceivable
today.

ANTHONY HEMINGWAY, DIRECTOR, "RED TAILS": They were ready when they had to
go do it, so I had to be ready when I got the opportunity to go direct this
film.

SHARPTON: Let me show you a clip from the movie addressing racism in the
military.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We`ve done it. Every lowdown dirty job you`ve handed
us. You have not assigned us a single forward mission.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You`re just going to have to suffer a failure.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We have a right to fight for our country the same as
every other American. So you shut us down or you let us fly.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Eight German fighters, it still doesn`t change what I
think of you when you`re boys.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We don`t care.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Nate, that`s of course, Terrance Howard playing that role. How
did you deal with the fact that you had to act in a part of history that
you knew nothing about, but at the same time, you were respecting the fact
that this was part of the history of your country and your community?

NATE PARKER, ACTOR, "RED TAILS": Well, you know, a lot of it came from the
research we did. The literature that was provided. A lot of it came from
being able to sit with Dr. Roscoe Brown and Lee Arching and Bill Holloman,
and really ask them how their experiences were shaped by these times and
really asked them how did they fly, they take off? How did they land? How
did they deal with the fact that there were certain places they couldn`t
go? And how they felt about it.

SHARPTON: Nate, let me show you a clip that you are in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Like a brother, Joe.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Disobey my orders again I`ll have to write you up.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Why, for being right? I told you those guns were there.
You almost.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: No, I followed protocol. You went for the glory,
there`s a difference.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And you`re amazing how you guys did that. The scenes flying.
The whole question of warfare in the air. You know, I fly a lot and I
complain about turbulence. These guys were doing stuff that was
unbelievable. And you caught it.

HEMINGWAY: It`s a challenge. You know, I think the biggest challenges for
the actor is when they have to sit in this fake airplane against a green
screen or blue screen or however you are camping it and to be able to
connect what they are flying against or what they are relating to and also
listening to me give them direction in the plane and knowing what they need
to connect with. That`s part of the challenge.

SHARPTON: Dr. Brown, how does it feel for you, having gone in there just
because you had a passion to fly, wanted to serve your country, never
thinking you`d live to see the day, Hollywood would do a movie on you. You
see the commander in chief of the U.S. military, an African-American. It
must give you a lot of hope, a lot of us that don`t understand how far the
country has gone. It must give you a lot of hope to say, no, we can make
this country all that we want it to be because you`ve seen tremendous
change.

BROWN: I certainly have but the fact is when I grew up, everyone in the
black community wanted to do better. We felt if we were excellent,
segregation would leave. My father was in Roosevelt`s black cabinet
working through hell. I went to a college where I was one of the first
blacks. All of us in the Tuskegee Airmen, young, handsome, smart men knew
that we were going to break some barriers. So, therefore, I`m glad that it
happened. But I`m really not surprised.

SHARPTON: So, you prepared -- you all felt that the way to be able to
break barriers, the way to be able to make a difference was to be
excellent?

BROWN: That`s right. And one of the things I like to say about this
movie, excellence overcomes prejudice. Excellence overcomes obstacles.
I`d like to say to the youth, it`s cool to be smart. Tuskegee Airmen were
cool and we sure were smart.

SHARPTON: Dr. Brown, you are a walking history that should not be taken
for granted. Anthony Hemingway, Nate Parker and Dr. Roscoe Brown, Tuskegee
Airmen. Thank you for joining me this evening. And I hope everyone goes
and sees this movie.

The movie is not a documentary. It`s really an action movie, but it tells
a story. A story that gives many of us hope that things can change if
we`re committed. We cannot just complain. We`ve got to know things can
change.

Ahead, America has a new star. President Obama goes show time at the
Apollo. You need to hear this one, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem has produced many
legendary performances for more than 70 years. The Apollo has been the
place to go for young, mostly black entertainers, trying to make it in show
business. From Michael Jackson to Ella Fitzgerald, Tina Turner to Quincy
Jones and Richard Pryor. My mentor and father figure James Brown. Brought
the house down many a night. And he packed the house one last time right
after he died. I`ve been known to bust a move at the Apollo stage myself.
But now there`s a new name to add to the legendary list.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Reverend Al Green was here. I so in love with you.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The President has skills. That was pretty good. Al Green,
president did it good. It inspired me. You know what, Newt Gingrich, if
you`re watching, I`m rehearsing on election night, I am going to sing, if
you are the nominee for the Republican Party, I`m going to sing a song for
you. It`s an old Gladys Knight here, it`s called "Midnight Train to
Georgia." So, you win the primaries and I promise, I`ll do Gladys Knight
for you. I`ll even do the footsteps. I`m practicing. Me and you, Newt.
You do your job and I`ll do mine.

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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