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PoliticsNation, Friday, January 27, 2012

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Guests: Chris Matthews; Michael Steele, Ed Rendell; Nia-Malika Henderson; Rod Smith, Richard Wolffe, Perry
Bacon Jr.

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

Tonight`s lead, the GOP race is turning into a demolition derby. And
while the candidates on the right run each other over, President Obama is
able to focus on his message -- fairness.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`re going to push
hard for the Buffett rule. We`re going to push hard to make sure
millionaires -- somebody making over a million dollars a year isn`t getting
tax breaks and subsidies that they don`t need. Not out of envy but out of
a sense of fairness and a sense of mutual responsibility and a sense of
commitment to this country`s future. That`s what we`re fighting for. And
the American people understand that.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That`s one vision. And last night, we saw the other side`s
vision during the debate in Florida. If you trust the headlines, Willard
Mitt Romney won that latest battle. But I`ll tell you what. He could be
setting himself up to lose the war, the general election. He`s gone to the
far right on immigration and he`s being forced to defend it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Is he still the most anti-immigrant
candidate?

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think of the four of us,
yes.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mr. Speaker, I`m not anti-
immigrant. My father was born in Mexico. My wife`s father was born in
Wales. They came to this country. The idea that I`m anti--immigrant is
repulsive. Don`t use a term like that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The man who brought us self-deportation doesn`t want to be
called anti-immigrant? Good luck on that one. And he`s been exposed as
the last guy who can criticize the president on health care.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What governor Romney just
said is the government-run top-down medicine is working pretty well in
Massachusetts and he supports it. Now think about --

ROMNEY: That`s not what I said.

SANTORUM: Think about what that means going up against Barack Obama
who we`re going to claim that top-down medical the federal level doesn`t
work and we should repeal and he`s going to say, wait a minute governor,
you just said top-down government run medicine in Massachusetts works well.

Folks, we can`t give this issue away in this election.

ROMNEY: It`s not worth getting angry about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I`m not angry, Willard. But the country will be angry when
they learn you`re against a health care law that`s already helping so many
people and that`s not all you have to squirm about.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: I don`t know any of American presidents who have had a
Swiss bank account. I`d be glad for you to explain that sort of thing.

ROMNEY: I have a trustee that manages my investments in a blind
trust. Let`s put behind this idea of attacking me because of my
investments or my money and let`s get Republicans to say, you know what,
what you`ve accomplished in your life shouldn`t be seen as a detriment. It
should be seen as an asset to help America.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Mitt Romney may thank his Swiss account doesn`t matter and
that it`s an asset that Americans will like that kind of experience. But
it`s like that on that issue alone that we raise the question of, is he out
of touch? The GOP primary has pushed the Republicans way over to the
right.

Joining me now is Ed Rendell, NBC news political analyst and former
DNC chairman and Michael Steele, MSNBC analyst and former RNC chairman.
Thanks to the both of you for coming on tonight.

Let`s start with you, Ed. Is nominating -- is the nominating process
helping or hurting Republicans` chances in November?

ED RENDELL, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: There`s no question it`s hurting.
They brutalized each other. Whoever emerges out of this process is going
to be damaged goods. And there`s no question that`s a big hurdle for them
to get over, rev.

But understand, after the conventions, in some ways, it`s a brand new
ball game. So we can`t be too cocky and too confident. Say, the president
has found his voice. He`s been doing great. That`s true. Romney and
Gingrich have been battered. But it all starts again in late August, early
September. We`re in great position, better than I ever thought we`d be.
But it`s not a slam dunk.

SHARPTON: Michael, last night it seems by all accounts that Willard
did very well. But in doing well, we still find him stumbling on some
things that don`t appear to be pretty accurate like he said about his Swiss
account was in a secret trust, ends up not being the case.

I mean, the stumbles still make him vulnerable even if he pulls out of
Florida and makes him vulnerable in a general election. Won`t you admit
that?

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: I would. And I think that`s a
very fair point and one that should be taken to heart by the Romney
campaign is that, yes, while it`s great to go mano-a-mano with Newt and
score and do well, you still are exposing your own vulnerabilities in how
you answer questions. The degree to which you are moving yourself out of
position to go as governor Rendell mentioned into the new ball game which
is the general election.

So, I think that they need to be careful about that because you don`t
want to overexpose any flank, your right or you left in these. And you
want to try to hit as many balls out of the park as you can, but also
reserve a few that you may need a little later on. And Newt seems to be
not reserving so much as exposing those balls to be taken by the Obama team
and others to use against him later on.

SHARPTON: I think also this whole question of when people raise the
question, governor, of fairness and he always seems to interpret the
question of fairness to that you are envious or you are jealous or I`m
successful. I think it offends people because it`s almost like don`t
question my wealth. No one is questioning your wealth. They are
questioning whether we have a fair tax code that is in some ways leaning
toward the rich and whether you revealed everything.

I mean, for people to say how come you didn`t put out that you had
these Swiss accounts, which are required is not based on envy. That`s
based on you are supposed to say that is the case.

RENDELL: Sure. And I think they`ll have to come up with a better
explanation because when President Obama gave his speech, the dial index
which shows the focus groups how good they think of it, when he said taxes
millionaires at 30 percent it`s not class warfare, it`s just common sense.
Increase by 90 percent among all the people who were watching, 70 percent
among Republicans.

Look. The American people get it. It`s not class warfare. We`re not
saying we don`t want successful people. You can be mighty successful and
pay 30 percent. We`re not saying that. We`re saying we want everyone to
pay their fair share. If Warren Buffett`s secretary pays 30 percent,
Warren Buffett should.

And Mitt`s biggest problem and, you know, I told you, I think he was a
good governor. But his biggest problem is he`s got a tin ear for him to
say I made $378,000 in speeches but that`s just pocket change. Pocket
change in this economy to the average working American?

SHARPTON: And you said he was a good governor. Whether I agree with
that or not, he`s not running as governor. He`s running as a businessman.

RENDELL: He`s running away from what he did as governor.

SHARPTON: Exactly.

And Michael, you had John McCain out stumping for him today trying to
use the Bain experience in a positive light. Watch this and tell me
whether or not you think this is wise.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I think rather than be embarrassed in
any way about the record of Bain capital, we should be glad that there are
people and companies and groups that will go out and buy companies that are
ailing and fix them up and make them job creators again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Michael, they`ve also bought companies and fired or laid
off a lot of the workers. I mean --

STEELE: Yes, but, reverend, I mean, you know. That`s part of that
business when you do turn around work is that you take a struggling or
dying company and you do your best to resuscitate it. And there`s a track
record of success and failure with that. And that`s just part of the
process. It`s no different than when two law firms merge at some point in
that process. Partners are going to be laid off. Staffs are going to be
laid off as they consolidate and coalesce around a different kind of
entity.

So, I mean, I think we need to understand, you know, fundamentally
it`s part of the economics of that kind of work that there is that risk of
some folks being laid off, downsizing as you try to get to a stronger,
better company to create work. I mean, that`s just the nature of it. No
one goes into this looking to fire people and to get rid of them. It`s
just part of trying to, you know, make the company, the ongoing concern
that it is, last longer than it currently is.

SHARPTON: I agree with that as the function of a Bain, and I think
that you explained it correctly. What you don`t do, though, is act like he
did this for job creation. He did it because he was building a successful
business.

STEELE: Well, that`s a fair point.

SHARPTON: I let you finish. And what John McCain is trying to act
like is this was some virtuous job creation scheme. It was for him to make
money, which is fine and legitimate. But don`t act like we ought to be
applauding you as the job creator of the year when you admit sometimes
people lost their jobs in the process.

STEELE: That is a fair point, reverend, but there is a job creating
component of when you are downsizing and restructuring a company. Not only
to try to save jobs but to make that company stronger on a stronger footing
so that it can go about creating jobs. There is that side of it. But, I
get your point. In absolute terms, you are absolutely right. You can`t
make it seem like that`s the only thing that you were doing in that
particular regard. It is a combination of things that I think make those
types of transactions successful for those who take over the company and
the ongoing concern itself.

SHARPTON: Governor, Mitt Romney admitted in an interview that the
economy has gotten better. Let me play you this sound.

(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?

ROMNEY: Well, of course it`s getting better. The economy always gets
better after a recession. There`s always a recovery.

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

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It just happens to be the truth. So you are running
against a guy saying that he has made it worse but you admit things are
getting better. How do you turn that around?

RENDELL: It`s very hard. And it really exposes the biggest problem
here. It`s not that Mitt Romney has gone to the right, and he has. That`s
going to be a problem for him. Second biggest problem is he`s exposed
himself as a very inept candidate, inept.

He did OK in the debates. But, when he`s out there in interviews like
that, he`s inept. The answer is, yes, the economy is improving bug it`s
not improving nearly fast enough. We`ve got all these people unemployed.
We should be out there doing more and this president has failed because
there are too many people still unemployed. That`s the answer. I`m not
saying that`s the right answer but that`s the answer. He can`t do that,
Al. If he can`t do that now, how is he going to do it against the most
skilled campaigner I`ve ever seen?

SHARPTON: Michael, how does he turn around his own quote?

STEELE: I am sorry. I have to laugh at that because you walked right
into that. I think, you know, the governor hit it right out of the park.
That`s the answer is that, yes, things are turning around. But look at the
lagging indicators here of unemployment in the African-American community.
Look at what we`re doing to secure the future in terms of education.

There are whole so many other ways you can reframe that argument to
make the point that this administration has failed on the fundamentals when
it comes to providing for a sound economy going forward.

And in answering Laura`s point, not only was it a missed opportunity,
but I think it showed a weakness that could come back to haunt in the fall.

SHARPTON: You know, Michael, it`s going to be a good weekend because
I`ve agreed and you`ve agreed with me on all three points tonight. But I
would still -- one thing different. He didn`t knock it out of the park.
He made a touchdown. He just went across our goal line and scored for us.

Ed Rendell, Michael Steele, thank you for coming on the show tonight.
Have a good weekend to both of you.

Coming up, the brutal Gingrich attack ad. Will it make the
difference? We`ll be live in Florida.

Plus, while Republicans hammer each other, President Obama is
hammering his message on fairness. Willard, remember that auto industry
bailout you opposed?

And the truth about Jan Brewer`s tarmac incident. Her story is now
being contradicted.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: A wounded Newt is a dangerous Newt. We`ll go live to
Florida to see how Gingrich is trying to drag Romney back down, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I thought it was a delightful debate. I love it. You were
an energetic and enthusiastic part of that debate. I want to thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Willard today, riding high after last night`s Republican
debate. Just a week and a half ago, Romney had a commanding 25-point lead
over Newt Gingrich in the sunshine state. But just six days later, after
his win in South Carolina, Gingrich surged into first place. Now it looks
like Newt`s momentum has stalled. Romney has retaken the lead polling nine
points ahead of Gingrich, just four days before the Florida primary. But
Newt`s hitting back, airing a new ad today targeting Romney`s statements in
the debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If a man is dishonest to obtain a job, he`ll be
dishonest on the job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE NARRATOR: What kind of man would mislead, distort
and deceive just to win an election? This man would, Mitt Romney. Romney
said he has always voted Republican when he had the opportunity. Romney
denied seeing a false ad his campaign used to attack Newt Gingrich. If we
can`t trust what --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The question now is will Florida Republicans trust Willard
with their vote. Joining me now is Rod Smith, chairman of the Florida
Democratic Party and Nia-Malika Henderson, national political reporter for
"the Washington Post." Thank you, both, for your time and for being here
tonight.

ROD SMITH, CHAIRMAN, FLORIDA DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Good to be here.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON
POST: Good to be here, Al.

SHARPTON: Rod. Let me start with you. You know the Florida better
than anyone. Do you think Republicans in your state trust Mitt Romney?

SMITH: No. I mean, I think it`s not going to matter of trust as much
as been said from the beginning. I think he has a connection problem. I
don`t think he connects, particularly in some parts of the state. Whether
or not he wins this thing, it`s kind of like "American idol" appears last
night that Gingrich can`t cha-cha so the scores go down.

But the truth is, over the long haul he still -- Romney still suffers
from a lack of connection with Florida voters. I think they worry about
whether or not he understands their circumstances. They worry about
whether or not he`s been consistent in terms of where he says he`s been on
various issues and whether he`s told the truth to the voters. I think that
-- I keep telling you if it were to up to me I wish we had a debate
tomorrow night. Because the more these guys keep talking to Floridians in
the way they do and to one another in the way they do in front of
Floridians, the better the message looks and his message sounds.

SHARPTON: Nia, Romney responded today to the ad I just played today.
Let me show you what he said.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)

SHARPTON: It says it`s laughable to see the lectures honestly coming
from a paid influenced peddler who suffered an unprecedented ethics
reprimand. Was forced to pay $300,000 in penalties and resign in disgrace
at the hands of the party. This is what the spokesman for Romney said.

Now Nia, they are talking very confident after last night`s debate.
Is it game over, or could Newton make a comeback in these four days?

HENDERSON: You know, I think it`s still early. You have three full
days of campaigning left. I think Newt Gingrich has proven that he can be
a nimble campaigner n that he has been Lazarus-like in his ability to claw
his way back to the top.

No, he doesn`t have any more debates, and yes, a Mitt Romney is a
much-improved candidate. We saw that last night. And he`s certainly
confident and bordering on cocky out there on the stump today saying he won
that debate that it was delightful. But again, I think Newt Gingrich still
has a message, he still has an audience. He`s been drawing really large
crowds down there. Thousands of people --

SHARPTON: You`ve been down there covering it in Florida. Tell us
about the contrast if there is any, between the Gingrich gatherings and the
gatherings for Willard.

HENDERSON: Well, there are certainly different types of crowds.
Newt`s crowds are more blue collars, working class folks, I mean,
evangelicals. And Mitt Romney`s crowds are much more well-healed crowds,
wealthier, upper middle class folks.

And I think there is a difference, too in terms of passion. Lot of
passion at Newt`s crowds, a lot of people there. Lots of chanting of USA,
USA. So, a lot of enthusiasm for this candidate and they definitely
connect with him. They feel like he`s the one to carry their message,
carry their message in an angry way because they are so angry at the state
of this country, angry at this president and they have very much connected
with him.

The question though is. We`ve got Mitt Romney out there with $15
million worth of ads dumping on Newt Gingrich`s head. Newt Gingrich did
come out with that ad that we saw today that leads with Mike Huckabee.
Mike Huckabee has come out to say that`s an unauthorized use of his image
in that sound bite. So that ad might come down.

SHARPTON: Now, Rod, you talked about how the voter is not connecting.
Whether it works for next Tuesday or not, Willard made some mistakes last
night. Like when he was caught last night`s debate lying about an ad
running on Florida radio. Let me let show you this or let me hear you
this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF: You`ve had an ad running saying that speaker Gingrich calls
Spanish, quote, "the language of the ghetto." What do you mean by that?

ROMNEY: I haven`t seen the ad. So I`m sorry, I don`t get to see all
the TV ads. I doubt that my ad but we`ll take a look and find out.

WOLF: We just double check; it was one of your ads. It`s running
here in Florida. And on the radio and at the end you say I`m Mitt Romney
and I approved of this ad. So it is here.

ROMNEY: Let me ask you a question.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So he`s caught red-handed there, his voice on there. And
then he also had a strange answer about his reversal on immigration and he
says, well, my parents were born in Mexico. Yes, but they were natural
Americans born in Mexico. It has absolutely nothing to do with
immigration. I mean, so, even in his best night, he still is stumbling.

SMITH: Well, I think the first instance is I am an old prosecutor.
And when you see a guy on the -- when he denies something and you hit him
with it, it`s that magic moment that happens to you when he`s absolutely
been caught and either you don`t believe him. Either he didn`t know what
he was doing and he`s not controlling his campaign or the answer was he
absolutely was misrepresenting what he knew to be the facts. And in either
instance, he looks bad.

I think the -- I thought the immigration thing was an interesting
answer because when he tried to make that connection, I think that`s a sign
that Gingrich was off last night. Because that was such an obvious
comeback, the one you just shared with us, so. But again, I have to tell
you from the perspective I sit in, I love the fact that they are still
engaging in this kind of brutal --

SHARPTON: I do, too. Let me ask you something before we run out of
time, voting. You were on to something today. You know that`s dear to my
heart and we have been dealing with on the show and the civilized
community. Voter I.D., voting suppression, tell us what you are doing in
Florida.

SMITH: Well, we had a great rally today and then a hearing that
senator Durbin was down for. Bill Nelson was involved in setting it up.
And we had a great turnout at the courthouse. And we went to the hearing
to really talk about what`s going on in Florida and other states. That is
really not in generations have we seen people design something so -- as
Tallahassee Republicans and this governor has gotten behind and that`s
designed to do nothing more than to drive down the vote. And n matter what
party you are in, we believe very strongly that win or lose, America`s
richer, Florida`s richer. Democracy is richer by participation, the wrong
thing.

SHARPTON: We agree with that, Rod. We agree with that. We`re going
to be doing a lot throughout this, the winter and spring, and we`ll sure be
involving each other. Everybody, no matter what your party, the right to
vote must be protected.

Rod Smith and Nia-Malika Henderson, thanks for your time tonight.

HENDERSON: Thank you, rev.

SHARPTON: Ahead, we`re learning much more about what really happened
between Jan Brewer and the president.

Plus, before the state of the union and his big fairness tour,
President Obama was wooing them at the Apollo.

(OBAMA SINGING)

SHARPTON: We`ll tell you how that performance is helping the economy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re learning more about what actually happened when
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer disrespectfully pointed her finger at President
Obama. Brewer claims the president came off the plane unhappy with how she
described their meeting two years ago. She says their conversation was
tense and that she felt threatened, really, governor? This was what the
president says.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: What I discovered is that I think it`s always good publicity
for a Republican if they are in an argument with me. But this was really
not a big deal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But now we`re learning what really happened on that tarmac.
Take a look at this picture. On the left of Brewer is Phoenix Mayor Greg
Stanton. On the right of Brewer is Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, a republican.
Stanton says, the president wasn`t tense at all. Smith, the republican,
says it was an animated discussion and, quote, "it revolved around the
presentation of the letter." As I said this last night, if you show up to
greet the president with a letter, you are looking for a confrontation. I
met with presidents I didn`t agree with. But I showed them respect. I
respected the office. Brewer didn`t. But the incident might backfire on
Brewer. Renewing the debate about her harsh immigration law. One Arizona
lawmaker says, quote, "for the incident alone, 85 percent more Latin people
will gravitate toward the President." So Governor Brewer, in a year that
Hispanic vote is more important than ever, thanks for that letter. We`ll
see you in November.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. After wrapping up his
five-state tour today, President Obama headed back east to Maryland where
he talked to democratic lawmakers about what they`ve accomplished together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We righted the ship. We did not tip into a great depression.
The auto industry was saved. And over the last 22 months, we have seen
three million jobs created. The most jobs last year since 2005. More jobs
in manufacturing than we`ve seen since the `90s. And now they are
thinking, GM`s number one again. And Chrysler is on the move again. And
Ford is investing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That`s right. The economy is doing better. The economy
grew by 2.8 percent at the end of 2011. The fastest growth in nearly two
years. Hundred and ninety six thousand manufacturing jobs were created
last year. Many of them in the auto industry he saved. Overall, the
economy added 850,000 jobs in 2011. But the President knows there`s still
work to be done.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We`ve got to first of all make sure that American
manufacturing is strong. And that means that we`re out there creating a
tax code that doesn`t provide tax breaks for companies that are shipping
jobs overseas. We are focusing on companies that are investing right here
in the United States because we believe that when you make it in America,
everybody benefits. Everybody does well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That`s what the President is fighting for in this election.
An America where everyone has a fair chance and everyone pays their fair
share.

Joining me now is MSNBC analyst Richard Wolffe. He`s author of
"Revival: The Struggle for Survival Inside the Obama White House." And
Perry Bacon Jr., politics editor for the Grio.com. Thank you both for
being here tonight.

PERRY BACON JR., POLITICS EDITOR, GRIO.COM: Thanks, Reverend.

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Richard, let me with you. Is the President`s focus on
fairness resonating around the country?

WOLFFE: Well, he`s on the right side of the public opinion when it
comes to some of the core issues at the heart of fairness. Specifically,
you know, the big challenge in Washington is clearly about not just jobs
but the deficit. You have to deal with both. You have to sequence it
right. But when it comes down to the difficult decisions, who pays for the
cuts that we`ve got to see? Is it just spending? Is it taxes included?
Public opinion is with him when it comes to sharing the pain. You know,
when Republicans hear about fairness, they think it`s some sort of creeping
socialism. But, really, there are tough decisions to be made. And who can
take the burden of balancing the budget? The answer is the wealthiest can
take more of a burden than the people at the lower end of the scale.
People looking for jobs who everyone says they care about.

SHARPTON: Now, Perry, let me ask you a question. The argument of
fairness, the theme of the State of the Union, the theme of this five-state
tour is what the President is going on. The Republicans seem to not even
want to get in on that discussion. I had a republican congressman on this
week. I couldn`t get him to say the word fairness. This week they`re
going to have the Buffett rule introduced that will really deal with the
paying of fair share act. It will mean, millionaires paying at least 30
percent in taxes, introduced by Senator Whitehouse. Will this resonate if
we see the continuing contrast between a president talking about fairness
and the Republicans running away from it and in some cases saying that you
all are just envious and jealous? That`s not the issue that we ought to be
dealing with.

BACON: I think this can resonate if the President makes this case.
Polling shows, you just said that most Americans agree with the idea of the
Buffett rule. They agree with the idea of some of the wealthy should pay
more. I think the bigger thing for Obama this week, for President Obama
this week was the numbers -- NBC show poll showing this week that people
think the economy is doing better. His approval rating on the economy is
going up. His rating overall is going up. I think the case of president`s
making them anyways, it`s not just about fairness but things are getting
better in America. You know, the policies might actually work and there`s
some signs that people are beginning to sink in, believe that finally.

SHARPTON: Now Richard, on this Buffett rule, let me play you
something that Eric Cantor said that`s a little strange to me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R), VIRGINIA: The answer is not to make sure that
Washington taxes people more, and this notion that somehow the income that
Warren Buffett makes is the same as a wage income for a secretary. We know
that`s not the same either.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, what does he mean because Warren Buffett is a
billionaire, it`s not the same as his secretary. So, I guess the
assumption is that they`re going to argue that these billionaires are these
mystical job creators so, therefore, they should get a different break, yet
there`s nothing requiring them to supply one job.

WOLFFE: Right. Look. At least he`s being honest here, OK. His
argument is that investors who make money deserve to keep more of it as a
proportion than people who work for their money. Now, you know, you`ve got
to think where the Republican Party is right now.

SHARPTON: Right.

WOLFFE: For many decades, we`ve all agreed on the left and the right,
in this system of progressive taxation. The idea that not only do rich
people pay more in dollars but they pay a higher percentage. That`s across
the board. Margaret Thatcher thought that was OK. Ronald Reagan thought
that was good. You know, that`s not the issue for this Republican Party.
They now think as part of the mainstream that a flat rate is the correct
way to go. And by the way, the deficits didn`t really exist before this
president. If you go to Mitt Romney`s Web site today, you would see him
saying that taxes were adequate for the size of the government before
President Obama. That`s plainly not true but if you have that world view,
then, yes, sure. Warren Buffett is paying the right amount of tax and
everyone should pay less tax and, you know, it`s all because Obama that
there are deficits in the first place.

SHARPTON: Well, if you live in that billionaire world in the real
world where people are not billionaires, which is the overwhelming part of
this country, that`s not the world we live in. Let me ask you, Perry,
though, both Gingrich and Santorum`s rhetoric paints the President as pro-
poverty which is a real stretch. How do you go from fairness to pro-
poverty? But let me show you what they say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We know that President
Obama is the best food stamp president in American history.

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He`s doing his best to
destroy this economy to create jobs and make more people dependent so they
can stay out of poverty by being on the government. And depending on him
and, therefore, a very reliable vote come election time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, I don`t understand how saying you want fairness,
that you want the wealthy to pay a higher taxes that you are pro poverty.
And second part of that, Perry, what do they think poor people that do get
government assistance, many of them working, what do they think they get?
I don`t know one person that gets assistance that think they are living a
good life and that actually can relax and be comfortable with that. It`s
meager money.

BACON: It`s a very odd argument. I`m not sure, I mean, I know they
are trying to appeal to a certain view among Republicans and I heard this
in South Carolina, that there are a lot of people who are unemployed who
don`t want to work who are there and think who are just there like
collecting checks. That`s what they are trying to appeal to. But it`s not
as if, I mean, most Americans want to vote for someone speaking in a more
aspirational way. So, I think that this is not a smart argument than they
keep talking about the country is bad. Obama is trying to, you know, turn
us into socialism. It`s smart to approach it in terms of idealistic way
about trying to create more jobs and talking about how they would build the
middle class.

SHARPTON: Richard, Perry, thanks to both of you. Have a great
weekend.

WOLFFE: Thanks, Reverend.

BACON: Thanks, Reverend. You, too.

SHARPTON: Still ahead -- made in America. Once again, we`ll talk to
the businessman who is hiring folks to make TVs right here in the U.S. for
the first time in nearly 20 years. It`s part of our special series, "Here
are the Jobs."

And the President`s Apollo routine is doing wonders for Al Green`s
record sales. We`ll revisit that and some other great moments from the
Apollo.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: There are two things that I suggest voters look out for.
Fairness and who can do concrete things. The debate in this election
should be about fairness and how we see fairness, not one side acting as if
fairness is not an issue. And we need to see people that are getting
things done. We have a man that actually is bringing back manufacturing
TVs to the country and starting off with providing jobs. We need concrete
things. We need fairness. We need people that will help us look up and
lift up the country, not people that will beat us down and act as if
fairness is not part of what the fabric of this country should be all
about. It`s about what we can do together and we can do on an even and
fair playing field. It`s about having hope that is realistic and concrete
rather than beating people down that`s already been pushed to the ground.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Back now with our "Here are the Jobs." Our ongoing series
where we show where the jobs are and how to get hired. This week,
President Obama has been on the road making a special push for
manufacturing jobs. He`s also promoting his plan to bring jobs back to
America. It`s called in-sourcing. Made in America is something we don`t
hear often enough these days. For example, the last American-made
television rolled off the assembly line almost 20 years ago. But now a
company called element electronics is trying to reverse that trend. The
Minnesota-based company built its brand selling Chinese TVs. But in March,
it will open a new television assembly plant outside Detroit to actually
build TVs right here in America. It will be the only one of its kind in
the country. The company is starting with one assembly line and will have
100 jobs to fill. The owner Michael O`Shaughnessy says, he hopes to add
many more. I spoke with him this week and asked him about his plan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL O`SHAUGHNESSY, OWNER, ELEMENT ELECTRONICS: We have been
working on the project for a while. We`ve been talking to our customers
about it for 18 to 24 months getting them ready. We`re starting with one
assembly line. Our plans are over time, face two, we got two, three, four,
five. As our output increases against the demand.

SHARPTON: So, you hope to get up to 500 jobs but you are going to
start with 100.

O`SHAUGHNESSY: Frankly, you know, I don`t know what the limit really
is. Yes. The idea is to get started small, you know, one step at a time.
First plateau is 100. Phase two, as we attract people to the business,
specifically domestic suppliers that can supply this new business in the
United States, I really don`t know what the potential is. The thing we
have influence over, I believe there`s an opportunity for a couple hundred
jobs or several hundred jobs over time. That might be multiple years. But
as we attract a supply base to the area and to the business, you know, at
this point it could be exponential.

SHARPTON: Now, you are part of a trend of people bringing jobs,
bringing manufacturing back in the country. The President mentioned it in
his State of the Union Address. Do you see that trend growing? Are you
hearing anything to that effect?

O`SHAUGHNESSY: I do believe it`s a long-term trend. I think we`re
maybe at the tip of the arrow, right, as it`s just getting started.
Potentially, you know, a trend-setters in this space. But the economics
are real, right? The costs are going up. The different things that we
talked about. They are real. So it makes sense for companies. If they
aren`t doing it, it makes sense for companies to begin to look at doing it.

SHARPTON: Now you`ve said this is emotional. This is personal for
you. Why?

O`SHAUGHNESSY: I lived in Warren, Ohio. If you go to Warren, Ohio,
now, it`s not much different than it was in 1985. The factories shut down.
The jobs went away. Of course, there`s still work there. But those people
are suffering. Warren, Ohio is probably indicative of many places as
industrial left the Midwest. Other parts of the country. So, I remember
that. That had a material impact on the family and friends I had on my own
family. So, there is an emotional part of this to bring jobs back, right?
To be able to potentially make a difference in communities with people and
families that are different than the people that I grew up with.

SHARPTON: Now, the President talked about incentives for bringing
jobs back. Reassuring as they call it. Have you been able to see any
tangible incentives and any of these incentives helping you to do this?

O`SHAUGHNESSY: So, I watched the President`s speech, and I thought it
was right on the money with respect to his ideas. For me, as a small
business owner who is trying to grow his business, those words are
encouraging. At the same time, for somebody like me, it`s -- we are rarely
not educated in that space as an entrepreneur. We are encouraged to go out
and to build our business, right? If there are government programs that we
can tap into or learn about and get educated about, then, obviously, that`s
in our best interest. Our accountants at some point in time will tell us
if there`s tax incentives or otherwise. And frankly, even, you know,
having conversations like this may open those doors. So, it`s encouraging
to hear. I think it`s an important part of helping businesses retrench
back in the U.S. and make these things happen. I hope those things happen.

SHARPTON: I am sure some of our viewers are wondering how can you
open a plant outside of Detroit and sell televisions at a reasonable price
that is high quality to compete with TVs made in China.

O`SHAUGHNESSY: I`ve got the answer for them right. In the end, it
won`t just be a reasonable price. It will be an exceptional price. We are
being very strategic in how we do this. We`ll not do it on 32-inch TVs and
smaller 40-inch TVs. We`re talking about the 46-inch TVs and above because
the cost of building a TV, if you take the total cost, at this point if we
make the adjustments for the labor advantage that we had over time against
the increased costs on the other side of the business, we can produce these
TVs for about the same cost, Apples to Apples, features to features, size
for size. We can produce these TVs in this factory just outside of Detroit
for essentially the same cost. The quality is exceptional. I would argue
that our TV, the element branded TV will be as good a quality TV as
consumer can buy anywhere, any brand.

SHARPTON: What do you need to know? What kind of background do I
need a background in electronics? What do I need to know, what background
are you looking for, for me to apply?

O`SHAUGHNESSY: That`s a great question. So, there`s going to be a
number of different things that we`re going to do in the facility. We`re
actually moving right now, our service and repair work there. We`ll going
to put a call center there. It was not just assembly work.

SHARPTON: Immediately, we`re looking at 100 jobs and who knows where
it goes as you try to brand and sell element in the marketplace.

O`SHAUGHNESSY: That`s our story, yes.

SHARPTON: All right. Michael, thank you so much and keep us posted.

O`SHAUGHNESSY: Pleasure to be here. And thank you so much.

SHARPTON: All right. Good luck.

O`SHAUGHNESSY: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: In March, Element will start accepting applications for
those 100 jobs. To find out more, just go to their Web site,
elementelectronics.com/careers. Our Web site, politicsnation.msnbc.com,
has the latest information on the companies we are featuring. We also have
updates on the status of their jobs. Just click on "Here are the Jobs."
We`re looking forward to hearing from you.

We`ll be right back. President Obama`s latest success. This one in
the music industry.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: It`s been a busy week for the president. He had the State
of the Union on Tuesday and he`s been traveling around the country trying
to rally support for his economic plans. But last week, he was right here
in New York at the legendary Apollo Theater, delighting the crowd with a
little singing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Reverend Al Green was here.

(APPLAUSE)

I, so in love with you.

(APPLAUSE)

Those guys didn`t think I would do it. I told you I was going to do
it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That video went viral and had everyone talking. Since that
performance, sales for Al Green`s songs shot up 490 percent. That`s the
best sales week for that song since they began tracking downloads nine
years ago. The President sings, boosts classic songs and helps the
economy. Hey, Republicans, you sure you are ready to face him in the
election? Of course, President Obama sang, the Apollo, the site of many
legendary performances.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I, so in love with you -- whatever you want to do is all right
with me hey, I feel good.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: James Brown. I mean, that`s was -- he was like
amazing on the Apollo.

JAMES BROWN, SINGER: I threw it out at the Apollo Theater and they
threw it back at me.

Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson.

JAMIE FOXX, ACTOR: I got booed at the Apollo.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: What?

FOXX: Yes, I got booed on out the game.

OBAMA: I told you I was going to do it. The sand man did not come
out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So he did it and helped sales. And I hope we listen to Al
Green`s "Let`s Stay Together" or we`ll all be back at the Apollo after
November singing the blues. 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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