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PoliticsNation, Thursday, January 26, 2012

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Guests: Chris Matthews; Jared Bernstein, Jackie Kucinich; Bob Franken; Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Bill
Schneider, Bob Shrum, Joe Madison

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Welcome to "Politics Nation." I`m
al Sharpton.

Willard and Newt will face off tonight in another huge debate in
Florida. It comes after a day of intense and personal attacks. We`ll
cover all the drama live from Jacksonville. We begin with this.

All of this Republican in fight may not matter much. Really? Not if
this economy picks up steam. And, folks, it looks like it is. The belief
that this economy will get better has jumped 16 points since October. It`s
now at its highest point in a year, and the president`s handling of the
economy, well, he`s seen a net swing of 13 points since just last month.
It makes sense. His message connects.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We do not begrudge
success in America. We aspire to it. We want everybody to succeed. Just
yesterday, Bill Gates said he agrees with me that most -- that Americans
who can`t afford it should pay their fair share. I promise you, Bill Gate
does not envy the rich. He doesn`t envy wealthy people. This has nothing
to do with envy. It has everything to do with math.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And the math is simple. Things are adding up. For the
president, he has a winning message. Plus, an economy that`s moving in the
right direction. This is the year for fairness whether the GOP likes it or
not.

Joining me now is Florida congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz,
chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. Congresswoman, great to
have you with us tonight.

DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE:
Reverend Al, it`s always great to be with you. Thank you so much.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you, madam chairlady. Will this election be won
or lost on the economy? What`s the strongest message the Democrats have?

SCHULTZ: I think this election, reverend Al, will be won by Barack
Obama because he has taken our economy and focused on making sure that
everyone in America has an opportunity to be successful. That we can set
up the economy to be built to last. Taking us from bleeding 750,000 jobs a
month when he first took office to now three years later, we`ve had 22
straight months of job growth in the private sector, a resurgent
manufacturing industry created more jobs there since 1997. And we`re
pushing hard to make sure that when it comes to tax policy, there`s no
incentive for companies like there is now to offshore jobs to other
countries. That we can manufacture things and create jobs here in America
and make it in America.

Unlike Republicans, the whole field tonight that you will hear
continue to try to outright wing each other, continue to try to focus on
millionaires and billionaires and give people who are already doing well an
opportunity to do even better. And, you know, there`s nothing wrong with
that. But when you only care about people who are already doing well,
that`s a pretty dramatic contrast between the directions of President Obama
wants to take this country and the Republicans.

SHARPTON: There`s no doubt about it. But let me be very candid with
you, congresswoman. As chair lady of the Democratic Party, I expect you to
say that. So do our viewers. Let me play you something we wouldn`t expect
to hear, Mr. Willard Mitt Romney. Let me let you hear what he said about
the economy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAURA INGRAHAM, HOST, THE LAURA INGRAHAM SHOW: How do you answer the
president`s argument that the economy is getting better in a general
election campaign if you yourself are saying that it`s getting better?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, of course it`s getting
better. The economy always gets better after a recession. There`s always
a recovery.

INGRAHAM: Isn`t that a hard argument to make if you are saying like,
OK, he inherited this recession and took a bunch of steps to try to turn
the economy around. Now we`re seeing some more jobs but vote against him
anyway? Isn`t that a hard argument to make? Is that stark enough
contrast?

ROMNEY: Have you got a better one, Laura? It just happens to be the
truth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It happens to be the truth. Willard said the economy is
getting better. Now I`m sure Willard may not say that tonight on the
stage. But I didn`t give anything for Christmas, congresswoman. I`ll give
you this tape. Willard said it himself.

(LAUGHTER)

SCHULTZ: Well, I so appreciate you showing me that Mitt Romney has
acknowledged the economy is doing better and that`s just the truth. This
way, when we catch him saying the opposite as he has on the stage, on the
previous 18 debates that we can call him on it.

But I think the American people see that things are getting better.
Barack Obama knows we have a long way to go, that we`ve got to continue to
fight hard to create more jobs. And help make sure that people have an
opportunity to do even better.

But, you know, we need to work together on that. President Obama has
focused on trying to bring people together. Unfortunately, the Republicans
continue to only be focused on one job, his, and we`re focused on trying,
as he mentioned in the state of the union to give everybody in America an
opportunity to live the American dream. It`s critical. And that is going
to be the contrast.

SHARPTON: Let me show you Newton Leroy Gingrich, the other leading
contender. Today, he was hitting Mr. Romney on foreclosures. What he`s
essentially hitting Romney on is how he`s unfair in this regard and all of
that. Let me let you hear what Newton had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Here`s a guy who owns
Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae stock. He owns a Goldman Sachs subsidiary which
is foreclosing on Floridians. He wants to run a campaign where he drowns
me in mud with money he raises from people who are foreclosing Floridians.
I think somebody who owns stock in a place that for closes on Floridians
has a lot of goal to start raising the issue. And I think we ought to find
out, so how much money has he made over the years foreclosing on
Floridians.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now aside from the personal attacks and I`m sure we`ll hear
enough of that in the debate, hasn`t the president really changed the
conversation? Because now we have them talking about foreclosures. We
have them talking about the economy. Hasn`t the president really begun
making them come back to what the American people are really concerned
about?

SCHULTZ: Well, there`s not a lot of times I`d say I`d agree with Newt
Gingrich but this would definitely one of them. He is absolutely right.
Newt Gingrich, I mean, Mitt Romney does have a lot of nerve talking about
foreclosures. Not only because he invested $500,000 in Fannie and Freddie,
but because a few months ago, remember, reverend Al, he said that he didn`t
think we should do anything to help people remain in their homes. We
should just let the housing crisis hit rock bottom and let investors come
in and scoop up the properties and sell them for a profit.

I mean, that -- the other day here in Florida, he suggested to
homeowners who were struggling to be able to remain in their homes that
maybe they could buy each other`s houses and swap. I mean, that`s how
dramatically out of touch he is. And then, today, we learned that when it
comes to his finances, he didn`t include a Swiss bank account in his
financial disclosure when he filed for president. I mean, you want to talk
about an "oops" moment? I`ve been in office 19 years, reverend Al. And I
will tell you, I wouldn`t think that it was OK or that I didn`t need to
include a Swiss bank account on my financial disclosure. It`s clear that
Mitt Romney has something to hide.
SHARPTON: Don`t make a big deal --

SCHULTZ: And we need to know what it is.

SHARPTON: Don`t make a big deal out of that, madam congresswoman. I
bet you $10,000 he just forgot it. Hold on one second. Let`s stand by one
second. I want to bring in Jared Bernstein, an MSNBC Contributor and the
former chief economist for vice president Biden. Jared, thanks for coming
on the show tonight.

JARED BERNSTEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: My pleasure, reverend Al.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you as an economist. In your view, how strong
is the economic recovery?

BERNSTEIN: The economic recovery has something it hasn`t had before
and that`s a little bit of momentum. Some of the problems that were
holding the economy back have gotten better. They`re not all better by any
stretch of the imagination. Housing appears to have carved out a bottom.
It`s not getting better. It`s not getting a lot worse. The job market
now, remember, the unemployment rate peaked at 10 percent back in late
2009. So now we`re talking about a trend. And whether its unemployment,
GDP, job growth itself, basically, the trend is your friend on these
measures. We`re not anywhere back, to where we need to be but we have some
momentum moving in the right direction.

SHARPTON: Now, and the fact is if you look at polls, a clear majority
of American people think the richest aren`t pair their fair share. How can
the Republican s, Jared, run on protecting this unfairness and ignoring the
fact that most Americans feel that it`s unfair?

BERNSTEIN: It`s a critical question, reverend Al. Throughout this
discussion so far, you`ve talked about the economy and you`ve talked about
fairness. The two do not naturally go together. And this is a point I
really want to make right here.

You can have economic growth year in, year out. You can have strong
productivity growth. You can have the unemployment rate coming down. We
saw this in the 2000s and the middle class fell behind. It`s not just that
they didn`t get ahead fast enough. They actually lost ground in real
terms. The poverty rates went up in those years as the economy was
expanding. So it`s not enough. You can`t rest your roles on economic
growth. You have to think about the way that growth is shared. Is the
prosperity broadly shared or narrowly concentrated at the top of the income
scale.

And that`s why the Mitt Romney debate is so important right now
because not saying anything about the candidate himself. He embodies so
many of the very trends that have led to this level of income
concentration, this disconnect between growth and fairness.

SHARPTON: Congresswoman, let me ask you before we have to go. One of
the things that I think sticks out in this campaign that has bothered me
more than anything is that when you raise the question of unfairness, you
accused of being envious. And I really think that it is beyond to say that
just because people want fairness, that`s all, that they are somehow
jealous or somehow envious.

Are the Democrats running, not only the president but for Congress and
Senate, are they going to yield any ground on this fight for fairness this
year?

SCHULTZ: Absolutely not. Reverend Al, as someone on the ballot later
this year myself and represents a district here in Florida, in south
Florida, we as Democrats are going to continue to fight to make sure that
the tax code is fair for everybody. That everybody has an opportunity to
be successful. Small business owners benefit from the 17 different tax
breaks that Barack Obama pushed through and that Congress passed under our
leadership.

It`s incredibly important that we make sure that when it comes to
success, it`s not envy. It`s just that we need to make sure that everybody
has an opportunity to live the American dream. And that trickledown
economics which has never worked, it`s been proven time and again to fail,
not be given a foothold again and will leave the middle class and working
families out in the cold. That`s the contrast that will be set up once the
general election really ensues.

SHARPTON: DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Jared Bernstein.
Thank you both for joining me.

BERNSTEIN: Thank you.

SCHULTZ: Thank you so much.

SHARPTON: Ahead, Willard and Newt face off tonight after a day of
slinging mud. We`ll go there live.

Plus, Chris Christie under fire for making some outrageous comments
about civil rights.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW YORK: The fact of the matter is that I
think people would have been happy to have a referendum on, you know, on
civil rights rather than fighting and dying in the streets.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I`m responding tonight.

And more disrespect for President Obama, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer
pointing at the president from birthers to yelling. There`s an ugly
pattern here. We`ll talk about it.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The Republican machine is officially in "destroy Newt"
mode. And he is punching back. Will there be anyone or anything left to
face President Obama in the fall? You all got to keep at it. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: What does the most feared man in the GOP look like? Like
Newton Leroy Gingrich.

The Republican establishment is flipping out over Newt`s recent surge.
As politico reports today, panicked conservatives like Ann Coulter, Tom
DeLay, Matt Drudge and even Bob Dole are coming out to hammer Gingrich
before it`s too late. They are ready to bring him down.

And Newt`s getting mad. Today he came out swinging harder at Romney
than ever before, preparing for the showdown in tonight`s Florida debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: We`re not going to beat Barack Obama with some guy that has
Swiss bank accounts, Cayman Islands accounts, owns some share at Goldman
Sachs who are for closures in Florida and is himself a stockholder in
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac while he tries to think the rest of us are too
stupid to put the dots together and understand what this is all about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And more bad news today for Willard. With those Swiss bank
accounts. As we just heard, Romney failed to report more than half dozen
offshore holdings in his federal ethics filing. He also failed to disclose
income from a multimillion-dollar Swiss bank account. He is now revising
those ethics forms but is yet another big flub and Gingrich is ready to
pounce.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: That`s how much he thinks we`re stupid. We`re not stupid.
The message we should give Mitt Romney is, you know, we aren`t that stupid
and you aren`t that clever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now, Bob Franken, a kings feature syndicated
columnist and Jackie Kucinich, national politics reporter for "USA Today."
She`s in Jacksonville, Florida, tonight. Thank you both for being here.

BOB FRANKEN, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Good evening.

JACKIE KUCINICH, REPORTER, USA TODAY: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Jackie, you are in Jacksonville. What are people saying
about Newt`s explosive comments today?

KUCINICH: You know, I think people who like Newt love it. I mean,
they love seeing Gingrich with the fire in the belly. They want to see him
-- I was talking to voters today who want to see him take Romney out for
whole tens of purposes. I mean, they really want him to keep hammering on
Romney. So for the people that love him best, they couldn`t be happier
that Newt is back to being aggressive Newt again.

SHARPTON: Now let me ask you this, Bob. You`ve covered Newt a long
time. But just today, just at events today, Newt has called Willard
grotesquely hypocritical, a liar, shameful, dishonest, fundamentally
abusive. You think that pledge of being all positive is over?

FRANKEN: Well, as somebody who has covered Newt for quite awhile, I
am a little bit worried about him. He may be a little tired. Obviously,
he was having a down day with his adjectives. But I would say that this is
probably maybe a standard day. But he really doesn`t need to do that. It
seems that Mitt Romney is going out of his way to hand this to him.

I mean. This disclosure about the Swiss bank accounts. Swiss bank
account raises a red flag with anybody for good reason. I mean, everybody
believes that this is the kind of thing that`s associated with organized
crime figures and the like. And while there`s no indication that`s the
case with the Romneys`, their apparently, their purpose for doing it,
according to the spokesman was to have some holdings, millions of dollars
of holdings, in international currency. That`s the kind of thing that
corporations do. So, now we know what he means when he says corporations
are people. He`s the corporation.

SHARPTON: Now Jackie, you are down there. We know with the
established Republican machine is saying. What are you hearing from the
average people? This is all going to come down to how Floridians,
Republicans that are Floridians, are going to vote next Tuesday. What are
you hearing on the ground in Florida?

KUCINICH: I mean, who among us haven`t forgotten a Swiss bank account
or two. It just happens. No, I`m kidding, obviously, but I think it
depends on who you talk to really. I mean, different events. You`ll talk
to different people. I was at a Romney event today. And the people --
most of the people there were decided. They were Romney supporters and
they were saying this guy is solid. He is someone who can lead the country
like business and really get things done.

You go to Gingrich events and you are hearing the same thing from them
saying he`s got passion. He`ll beat Obama. He will defeat him. You hear
that from Gingrich people about them wanting Gingrich to take the president
to task in a debate. And I think that`s one of the things driving his
popularity. I think people are really excited about that possibility.

In addition to, you know, they think he`s a really smart guy. And so
again, it depends on who you talk to as to whether Mitt or Newt, but it
seems to be coming down to those two.

SHARPTON: Now who is drawing the best crowds, by the way?

KUCINICH: Gingrich. I mean, well, I haven`t been to all of Romney`s
events. But I have been to a couple of Gingrich`s and we`re thousands of
people. I was at one yesterday in Cocoa Beach. And he just -- he is
pulling tons and tons of people.

But, you know, who knows if that will translate into votes. I mean,
Santorum had huge crowds in New Hampshire and we saw how that worked out.
So it -- all those people doesn`t necessarily translate into votes.
There`s a lot of interest in Newt Gingrich right now.

SHARPTON: Bob, you`ve seen debates come and go. But tonight is
critical because it could really decide if the polls are right, as close as
this is, it could decide who tips toward having the momentum into Tuesday.
What does Willard have to do tonight, particularly in light of the Swiss
accounts that he did not disclose coming out? What does Newt have to do
tonight?

FRANKEN: Well, I think what Mr. Romney has to do is to have it
translated into the various languages of Switzerland, for one thing. All
that Gingrich parentally has to do is say things certain things like Swiss
bank accounts and all this type of thing. We haven`t even gotten to the
immigration debate.

But really, right now, Newt probably just has to play defensive judo.
It looks like, you know, when someone is mauling themselves, you just stand
back. And that seems to be what`s happening. And Jackie, a moment ago,
brought up crystallized pretty much the Romney argument which is that the
campaign -- the country needs somebody who has business experience. He
certainly does have business experience with the disclosures about where
his money has gone in foreign countries. The business is one like those
that are outsourcing all the time.

SHARPTON: Now, I think that that`s going to come to harm him, clearly
saying the business experience. But then you don`t disclose everything
doesn`t -- if that`s your calling card, doesn`t look well.

Let me ask you this, Jackie. How much and how important is the Latino
vote in Florida, and who seems to be faring better in that community?

KUCINICH: Romney right now is faring better among Cubans. But the
Hispanic vote isn`t as big of a deal in the primary as it is the general.
It`s important that make no mistake. But it`s not as pivotal as it will
be.

And, you know, Romney`s had some issues. Immigration isn`t
necessarily the most important issue to Hispanics. But it`s -- I read
today, if someone said it sets a tone and that`s one of the reasons Jeb
Bush wouldn`t endorse Romney because of his immigration stand.

And so, I think going forward, there needs -- Romney needs to figure
out a way to talk about that in a way that isn`t offensive or doesn`t seem
abrasive to the Hispanic community.

SHARPTON: Bob, let me ask you this quickly. A lot of these primaries
so far and caucus has been driven by the anger, the apparent anger of the
Republican voter, the tea party-type voter.

Does the fact that the establishment is going after Newt help him or
hurt him?

FRANKEN: Right now, he certainly is turning it to his advantage.
But, I think we have to be fair here and point out that the politics of
resentment that everybody talks about is universal this year. Everybody is
running a campaign of resentment, including Barack Obama who is appealing
to those who resent those who believe that the wealthy are abusing the
system.

SHARPTON: Bob Franken and Jackie Kucinich, thank you both for joining
us.

KUCINICH: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, a big boost for President Obama. The brand new
NBC poll, straight ahead.

Plus, new outrage over a man`s ridiculous response to charges of
racial profiling and harassment in his town. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: For years Hispanics in the town of East Haven, Connecticut,
have been complaining about police harassment and racial profiling. A
justice department report last month found a pattern of bias against
Latinos.

And this week, four of the town`s police officers were charged with
civil rights violations and obstruction of justice, the town`s mayor`s
response, outrageous.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: What are you doing for the Latino
community today?

JOSEPH A. MATURO JR., MAYOR, EAST HAVEN, CONNECTICUT: I might have
tacos when I go home. I`m not quite sure yet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I might have tacos. These four officers are accused of
beating handcuffed suspects, arresting people on false pretenses and trying
to cover up their actions. And in response, you might have tacos?

The mayor has since apologized, but is still facing major criticism.
A hard for newspaper publishing editorial entitled, "the mayor is an idiot"
and an immigration group is bringing 500 tacos to the mayor`s office.

But, the main thing here is, the mayor revealed exactly the kind of
bias that Hispanic residents have been complaining about for years. The
justice department is investigating 16 other law enforcement agencies for
racial bias across the country.

I hope officials in those towns have a more appropriate response.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: Do we want to keep these tax
cuts for the wealthiest Americans or do we want to keep investing in
everything else? Like education, like clean energy, like a strong
military, like caring for our veterans who are coming home from Iraq and
Afghanistan. We can`t do both. We can`t do both.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: President Obama rallied the crowd in Las Vegas earlier
today and his message appears to be working. The just released NBC
News/"Wall Street Journal" poll has the President`s favorability jumping
five points up in the last month. In the head-to-head matchups, he leads
Mitt Romney by six points. Tripling his lead from a month ago. And
against Newt Gingrich, he`s in command with an 18-point margin. Fifty five
to 37. But there`s a long way to go, and President Obama`s ready to make
his message and take it out of Washington and to the people.

Joining me now is Bob Shrum, democratic strategist and a professor at
NYU. And Bill Schneider, a resident scholar at third way and an opinion
contributor for Politico. He`s writing about President Obama`s State of
the Union rallying his troops. Thank you both for joining me tonight.

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Happy to be here, Al.

BILL SCHNEIDER, POLITICAL OPINION CONTRIBUTOR: Good to be here.

SHARPTON: Now, Bob, let me start with you. Does the President have
the momentum to carry him to November?

SHRUM: Well, he`s beginning to get that momentum. I think people
aren`t convinced yet. But they think that the economy is getting better.
That`s reflected in the numbers. I think in the State of the Union
message, he not only set out an argument about what we ought to do in terms
of a vision for the future, but he also drew some dividing lines and set a
basic question for this election. Who is going to fight for the middle
class? Who is going to fight for ordinary hard working Americans? And I
think you`re seeing that reflected in these poll numbers. At the same
time, Romney has taken on a lot of water during this process. His
favorable/unfavorables are now upside down. And I think the President is
on a -- not on a glide path. It`s going to be a bumpy road but he`s on the
path who I think what`s going to be a real victory in November.

SHARPTON: Now, Bill, let me show you this. The President if you deal
with his positive ratings, they`re 11 points above his negative ratings,
whereas Romney`s negative ratings are five points above his positive.
Gingrich has negative ratings that are 22 points above his positive. The
President`s positive and negative ratings in detail. Now, he`s at 50
percent. Negative 39 percent. Just last month, he was only at 45,
negative 42. So this looks good. But tell me you know this better than
most in the analysis world. Where are the dangers? What should we be
careful of, those of us that are favorable to the President?

SCHNEIDER: Well, the biggest danger is that we`ve seen this happen
before. It happened at the beginning of 2010 and 2011. People were
becoming more optimistic. Americans always want to be optimistic. They
see hope out there. But then those hopes were dashed usually by some
dramatic event like the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the economy
began to take a tumble and people lost faith. We hope that doesn`t happen
again this year. Certainly Obama hopes that. But we`ve seen the ratings
rise and then fall again at the beginning of the last two years.

SHARPTON: Now Bob, independent of any unforeseen problem, one of the
things that we`re seeing is the President has a much different message, and
a much different orientation to the American public and voter than the
Republicans. And today, he talked about his positive version of America as
compared to the Republicans. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Whether it`s Mr. Romney or Mr. Gingrich or Mr. Santorum or
whoever else they might decide to select, they represent a fundamentally
different vision of America. And it`s not the bold, generous, forward
looking optimistic America that I think built this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Is the different view of America, the optimism that the
President so dramatically displayed in the State of the Union, is that
contrast part of what`s helping to drive a more favorable view of the
President?

SHRUM: Sure. Especially when combined with what bill calls the sense
of well-being that people are beginning to feel and Bill is right, there
could be some exogenous event, a Eurozone crisis for example that put the
economy back in the wrong place instead of on this kind of path to
recovery. But I think what the President has done and he`s done it very
well, starting in that speech in Kansas, is he`s identifying with
mainstream America, with ordinary middle class Americans, with people who
have gone through some tough times in the last few years. And he`s
campaigning for fairness. I think that is a powerful argument, especially
this year. I think when you look at the reaction to Romney`s release of
his tax returns and how people are reacting to the Swiss Bank accounts, you
have this whole sense that there`s this huge pent-up desire there for
people who play by the rules, people who do their part, people who
contribute and that includes the wealthy. And the president is speaking to
that and I think he`s speaking to it very effectively.

SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you, Bill. When you look at the numbers of
-- on the national level of the republican candidates, you have Gingrich at
37, Romney 28, Santorum 18, Paul 12 percent. So, it appears that Gingrich
in the national poll has a comfortable lead. Why do you think that`s the
case?

SCHNEIDER: Because he shows fight. That`s what partisans want to
see. Democrats want to see it, too. They want a candidate who shows
fight. Nominations are controlled by partisans. Gingrich showed a lot of
fight when he picked a fight with the press in every debate and mostly in
the recent debate with FOX News and with CNN. They love that. And they
want to see Gingrich stand up to Obama. They dream about a debate between
Newt Gingrich and Barack Obama because Newt Gingrich will get in Obama`s
face. What do they worry about? The numbers you just showed, that Newt
Gingrich would lose badly to President Obama. But if the polls shows that
Romney would lose to Obama, too, then Gingrich would say, I`m losing,
fellow? You`re losing, too. So, why don`t we go with the candidate who
shows more fight.

SHARPTON: Now, Bob, when you see the poll between Romney and
Gingrich, Newt`s lead is even bigger. With that reality in the debate
tonight and the Swiss accounts, if Newt wins in Florida, you`ve run a lot
of campaigns. How does Romney turn it around? Can this establishment stop
him if Newt gets away in Florida next Tuesday?

SHRUM: Well, I haven`t seen the republican establishment in this much
of a ladder since Barry Goldwater was headed for the nomination in 1964.
They are going to do everything they can. Their assumption is that even if
he loses Florida and by the way, right now Romney in most of the polls in
Florida, has polled ahead. And looking at these national numbers he better
pray that he wins Florida. They are going to depend if he loses on money,
on organization, on the notion that they can just wear Gingrich down over a
long period of time. I think there is something happening inside this
republican primary. It may get short circuited by Florida. But these
voters want someone who, as bill said, expresses fight. I would put it
someone who expresses their anger. Someone who is going to carry their
case. And almost apocalyptic terms. And if you watch this debate tonight,
I don`t think you`ll going to see a laid back Newt Gingrich. I think
you`ll going to see a fast and furious Newt Gingrich and maybe going to the
same thing from Mitt Romney.

SHARPTON: Bill, for whatever reasons, Mr. Romney decided not to run
on his record as governor. He ran as a businessman. And now he seems to
be fumbling as a businessman in terms of forgetting to make disclosures.
It doesn`t smell right. It just doesn`t fit right when you say I know how
to run a business, oh, I forgot to make disclosures. What has to happen
tonight for him to try to make this a one-day story? What does he do if
Bob is right and Newt comes hunting for bears, as they say, tonight?

SCHNEIDER: Well, he`s got to be able to defend himself in simple
direct terms that will connect with people. He has a lot of trouble doing
that. You know how many business executives we`ve elected president? Just
two. And both of them were named Bush. We don`t normally elect business
executives. Mitt Romney`s job is head of Bain Capital was not to create
jobs, which is what he likes to argue. It was to create wealth. Now
sometimes that helps create jobs but often it doesn`t help create jobs. So
his special expertise, particularly if he did not play by the rules.
That`s what President Obama talked about in his State of the Union. He
targeted China. He targeted Wall Street. He said the fairness issue is
about playing by the rules. And if there`s increasing evidence that Mitt
Romney doesn`t play by the same rules as everybody else, he`ll be in very
big trouble.

SHARPTON: Bob, Bill, thanks to both of you for your time tonight.

Coming up, Chris Christie has become such a darling of the GOP. But
now he thinks he`s an expert on the civil rights movement. I`ll respond.

And next, Jan Brewer disrespects the President. And why it`s part of
an ugly pattern.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told State Department
employees today, she plans to leave her post once President Obama is
elected to a second term.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I think after 20 years, and it
will be 20 years, of being on the high wire of American politics and all of
the challenges that come with that, it would be probably a good idea to
just find out how tired I am.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And there`s one part of the public life that Secretary
Clinton is already skipping.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: It`s a little odd for me to be totally out of an election
season since, as Secretary of State, I cannot participate. But, you know,
I didn`t watch any of those debates.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Isn`t that funny. She doesn`t seem to miss hearing what
Republicans have to say. Madam Secretary, I can understand that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Let`s get to the picture everyone is talking about. This
picture. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer pointing her finger right at the
President of the United States, President Obama just moments after he
landed in Arizona yesterday. Their heated exchange was reportedly centered
around her portrayal of the President in a meeting two years ago as
condescending. According to reports, they were talking at the same time
over each other. I don`t care what differences you have. The pointing is
unacceptable. It`s flat out disrespectful. But she`s not apologizing.

(BGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: He`s very thin skinned. I thought that
he was very thin skinned. He walked away. I was in the middle of a
sentence and he walked away. I wasn`t angry at all. I felt a little bit
threatened, if you will, in the attitude that he had because I was there to
welcome him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Thin skinned? You felt threatened? What does that even
mean you felt threatened? By the President of the United States? This is
yet another example of disrespect and delegitimatizing this president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The reforms I`m proposing would not apply to those who are
here illegally.

REP. JOE WILSON (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: You lie!

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: He is an avowed Muslim and he has no legal right to
be calling himself president.

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I`m doing my best to
try to get him out of the country.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I just don`t think that
President Obama understands America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: This kind of casually ugly talk is rare against a
president. As for Governor Brewer, there is a history here. In June of
2010, she met with the president at the White House to discuss the Arizona
immigration law. Here`s how she described the meeting immediately
afterwards to the press.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BREWER: It was a very cordial discussion.

REPORTER: What was the tone like?

BREWER: A very cordial. Very, very cordial. I feel that it was a
successful meeting. I`m encouraged by that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: A very cordial and successful meeting. But then in
November, she released her book "Scorpions for Breakfast" and described the
meeting in a different light. Quote, "after a few minutes, the President`s
tone got serious and condescending. He proceeded to lecture me about
everything he was doing." So, Governor Brewer, when were you telling the
truth? When you just walked out of the meeting and told the press in
front of the White House with a smile on your face how it was cordial and
how the tone was very good, positive, or when you wrote a book saying, it
was condescending and he was lecturing you? What you`re trying to sell?
Books or were you acting in front of the White House?

And then let me ask this. You showed up yesterday at the plane with a
letter to give the President. And you wanted to hand it to him. Here`s a
lady that had written a book attacking the President. A lady that is
fighting the President on immigration who the Justice Department has hit
her state on racial profiling. You showed up with a letter. I met with
the left three presidents, one I marched on. In fact two of them. Clinton
and Bush. But I`ve never showed up with a letter because if you show up
with a letter, you are looking for a confrontation. You are a governor.
If you want to invite the President somewhere, you are talking to him. The
only reason you bring a letter is to dramatize and confront.

Joining me now is Joe Madison, host of the "Mornings with Madison" on
Sirius XM radio. Joe, what do you make of Brewer`s disrespect?

JOE MADISON, HOST, "MORNINGS WITH MADISON": One, you know, I guess
both of us have been in some of those marches. I`ve been with you.
Presidents, republican and democrat. You know that we both have been at
the White House to discuss all kinds of things and sometimes we`ve
disagreed without pointing our fingers at the President. Look. Let me
tell you what my audience said today, and it was a hot topic. I had people
say everything from he should have bent the finger to the secret service,
should have had her face down on the tarmac because of pointing a finger is
a threatening gesture. But here`s what is so sad. Right wing radio and
the other network are praising the governor for, what, ill-mannered
behavior. Ill-mannered behavior.

We all have been taught, your mama taught you, my mama taught me you
never point your finger at people and put it in their face. And I give the
president of the United States credit for doing what? Walking away. And I
think that he proved himself a decent role model for when you do have
confrontation with unreasonable people, the best thing to do is not argue
with them. And I`ll close by saying, my grandmother taught me that, Joe,
sometimes when you argue with a fool, people begin to wonder who`s the
fool. He did the right thing, and he`s the one that should be the role
model.

SHARPTON: Well, your grandmother must have known my mother. She told
me the same thing. But the thing that I want to also point out in my radio
show today, three hours I had the same thing people -- said. But the other
thing that I think we`ve got to deal with is the pattern. That`s why I`ve
showed others that have disrespected this President. There`s a pattern of
disrespect. There`s a pattern of trying to act like he`s not really the
president. And we definitely should deal with Brewer but we should deal
with all of them. And I think if we just act like Brewer is an isolation,
then we are not being honest about this whole climate of disrespecting this
President.

MADISON: You were 100 percent right. And let`s add two more to your
list. And that might be the thing to do on our shows, Reverend Sharpton is
that just start listing these things. For example if you noticed, yes,
Newt Gingrich never refers to him as President Obama. You never have the
Rush Limbaughs, the Sean Hannitys. They won`t do it. They won`t do it and
they are doing that deliberately. Here`s the other thing. I was on a
debate show the other day debating somebody who there`s another list to add
to your list. Brought up his grades. And that was Donald Trump who
started that foolishness. Excuse me. What 50-year-old-plus man has to
provide his grades. What, getting elected as the president of the Harvard
Review is not enough? Graduating from your college with honors? This is
nothing more, and I`ll just say it straight up. There are some people, not
all, in this country who cannot stand the fact that this is an African-
American who is now one of the most powerful individuals on the planet.
And there are those who cannot consciously and subconsciously handle it. I
know people don`t want to hear that, but that`s the truth.

SHARPTON: Well, you know you`re not going to get a debate.

MADISON: And so, you`re delegitimizing.

SHARPTON: You know, you`re not going to get a debate from me. They
brought race in. They put a race deck on the table. If you pull a card,
it`s a race card because they set the deck. I`m talking about those on the
other side of this argument. Joe Madison, thank you for joining us
tonight.

MADISON: Thank you Rev. for having me.

SHARPTON: We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back with some great news about a friend of the show.
Today we learned Congressman Barney Frank and his longtime partner Jim
Ready will get married in Massachusetts. A state where gay marriage has
been legal since 2004. It`s another sign of progress we`re making toward
equal rights in the country. But some people just don`t get it. This
week, New Jersey`s republican Governor Chris Christie vowed to veto a gay
marriage bill and said, it should become a voter referendum instead. He
then said this about civil rights.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: The fact of the matter is that I
think people would have been happy to have a referendum, you know, on civil
rights, rather than fighting and dying in the streets in the south.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: You need a history lesson, Governor. In early 1964, just
20 percent of white voters in the south approved of the civil rights act
being debated in Congress. And later that year, 57 percent of all
Americans said racial integration was happening, quote, "too fast." So
Governor Christie, do you really think civil rights should have been
decided by referendums in the states? You said people would have been
happy to have a referendum. I`m sure they would have because blacks
couldn`t vote in those states during the civil rights movement. So not
only did the majority of whites oppose civil rights, they would have been
the only ones that could vote. You either need a lesson in history or are
you trying to tell us how you really feel about civil rights and the
achievements of those bills? I think you need to think about what you say
and correct it, or leave it as it is and maybe we`ll understand what you
said is what you meant.

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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