Skip navigation

PoliticsNation, Friday, February 3, 2012

Read the transcript from the Friday show

  Most Popular
Most viewed

Guests: Melissa Harris-Perry, Celinda Lake; Jeanne Shaheen, Michael Steele, Ed Rendell, Steve Kornacki, Erin McPike, Mark Stout

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

Tonight`s lead, a victory in stopping the GOP`s war against women.
The Susan G. Komen foundation, the nation`s leading breast cancer charity,
bowed to huge pressure today and reversed its decision to cut funds to
Planned Parenthood. Komen`s founder and CEO issued a stunning apology.

Quote, "We want to apologize to the American public for recent
decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving
women`s lives. We do not want our mission marred or affected by politics -
- anyone`s politics."

Planned Parenthood responded, quote, "The outpouring of support for
women in need of life-saving breast cancer screening this week has been
astonishing and is a testament to our nation`s compassion and sincerity."

Minority leader Nancy Pelosi celebrated a victory for women.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: The decision by the Susan
G. Komen foundation to reverse their decision about Planned Parenthood just
goes to show you when women speak out, women win. And women`s health has a
big victory this morning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Conservatives hammered the decision. One congresswoman
says, quote, "their sudden reversal today appears hollow and weak." And
typically, Rush Limbaugh went over the line.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: The Planned Parenthood heard about it and
they went ballistic and they went nuclear because nobody, particularly a
female oriented charity like Komen is going to stop or interrupt the money
flow to the pro-abortion mill industry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now, Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat from New
Hampshire. He`s one of the 26 senators who signed a letter urging Komen to
reverse their original decision.

Senator, thanks for joining me tonight.

SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN (D), MEW HAMPSHIRE: Well, it`s good news today
for women across this country who, need that preventive health care in
order to be able to detect breast cancer. So I applaud the Susan G. Komen
foundation for reversing their decision and for continuing to work with
Planned Parenthood in the interest of women`s health.

SHARPTON: Let`s be clear to the public that the funds that we`re
talking about were going to be used for breast cancer screening. Had
nothing to do with abortions, but they were trying to say because planned
parenthood, I think three percent of it does that, and somebody wanted it
investigated, that would justify stopping the funds. So this is not even
directly related, which is why it was so egregious.

SHAHEEN: That`s absolutely right. You know most of the work of
Planned Parenthood deals with breast cancer screenings, with cervical
cancer screenings, with preventive care for sexually transmitted diseases
and it has nothing to do with abortion. And for thousands of women,
literally thousands in New Hampshire, that`s where they get their health
care. And if Planned Parenthood is not able to provide health care, then
we`re going to have many more women who are going to get breast cancer, who
are going to get other diseases and so, again, this was a good decision for
women`s health.

SHARPTON: Senator, aren`t we seeing a climate by the right wing of
really a war on women and women`s right to choose? Let me tell you what
expressed it best.

Michael Keegan, president of people for American way wrote today,
angry at Komen, you should be furious at Mitt Romney and the GOP. And let
me read part of what he wrote.

"Republicans in Congress and GOP leaders consistently make the same
choices involving many times more money and many times more women`s lives.
The shock of the revelation of Komen`s new policies only highlighted how
numb many of us have become to the larger, unrelenting attacks on women`s
health by right wing elected officials."

Isn`t there a larger picture here that this really is just an example
of, that we`ve seen this general assault on women`s rights?

SHAHEEN: Well, we have seen an assault on women and women`s health
care. And it`s been going on really since we began working on the health
care reform act. And, you know, one thing I would hope all of us could
agree on, despite our ideological differences is that we should make
decisions about health care for women and men based on what the best
scientific evidence is.

And we ought to all be able to agree that that`s in the best interest,
not only of the women of this country but of the future of this country,
and families. So I`m -- I would hope that we could all put politics aside
and make sure that we support decisions that promote the best health care
we can provide for women?

SHARPTON: I agree with you. But the reality is that our desire to
put politics aside, notwithstanding we have to identify those that are
really going over the line.

In 2011, senator, the house passed bills allowing hospitals to turn
away women for seeking abortion, even in life-threatening situations. Want
to redefine rape to limit abortion funding. Block federal funding to
Planned Parenthood. I think that we need a bipartisan all-American
commitment, but a commitment to fairness and those that are unfair. I
think we have to call it like we see it.

SHAHEEN: I totally agree. We need to make sure that women have the
same access to care that everyone else has.

SHARPTON: Senator, thank you very much for being with us. And thank
you for your time tonight.

SHAHEEN: Thanks.

SHARPTON: The stunning reversal came after relentless pressure and
activism from all over the country. Hours after the initial decision, the
Komen Web site was hacked with this message. Quote, "help us run over poor
women on our way to the bank." Also, Planned Parenthood has taken in more
than $3 million, six times more than Komen gave to Planned Parenthood last
year. This is activism at its best.

Joining me now is MSNBC contributor Melissa Harris-Perry, a professor
of political science at Tulane, columnist for "the Nation" and soon to be
host of her own show here on MSNBC. Thanks for being here tonight.

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely.

SHARPTON: This is activism, and it has also incited a real right wing
kind of hostility. The last two nights I`ve been covering this on the
show. I can tell from some of my favorite right wing twitter folks
tweeting me all kind of outrageous stuff. This has hit a nerve.

And I don`t think people understand how vile towards women`s right to
choose, women`s right to deal with their own options that the right wing
has become in this day.

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, look. This was a bit of a masterful strategy had
it worked, right? Because what it did was to separate out good girls from
bad girls, which has always been an effective way to limit some women from
having the same freedoms and opportunities, right?

So if breast cancer is separated out completely from Planned
Parenthood, if Planned Parenthood can`t provide breast cancer screenings,
cervical cancer screenings. If all they are doing is providing
reproductive choice opportunities like birth control and pregnancy
terminations, then you can go after them because those are the bad girls.
Those are the people who have done bad things.

But see, when it becomes clear that, no, what they are is a primary
health care provider for so many women who do not have doctors, then so
many reasons they don`t have doctors is because of this whole system
stacked against poor and working class women from having those kinds of
doctors. Then the mastery of the strategy actually gets turned back the
other way.

SHARPTON: And see, I think that`s the point because some people have
even said to me over the last couple of days that whether I`m pro choice,
pro life, how do you use some bogus investigation to stop people from
breast cancer screening and contraception - I mean, all kinds of things
that are provided. Three percent of which of the services is abortion. I
mean, this is not only -- should be illegal. It`s immoral.

HARRIS-PERRY: Look. This is -- it is in part indicative of how
successful Komen has been. Thirty years ago, and I know you and I know
this, that women didn`t say they had breast cancer. It was shameful to say
breast, to talk about breast self-exams, to talk about mammograms, to cover
those kinds of things. Women were dying because there was so much shame
surrounding it.

So, part of what Komen and others did was to take that shame away.
Now people are saying how could you not cover breast cancer screenings,
right? Of course you`d cover breast cancer screenings. In fact, if Komen
won`t, we will. People from all sides of the spectrum sending their money,
putting their money on the position of, listen, we`re going to stand with
women`s right to access to health care. Not abortion, health care.

SHARPTON: But the religious right is going crazy over the reversal.
They`ve come out with, quote, "they`ve chosen death over life," quote,
"Mafia shakedown tactics." Susan G. Komen for the cure should recognize
that abortion is not a cure for anything.

One, we`re not talking about abortion. We`re talking about cancer
breast free. None of this would go to abortion. But second, you know, why
is it always a shakedown? You know, we hear that civil rights all the
time. As long as the rich are getting theirs, as long as those are getting
theirs, that`s fine. If you merely ask for some kind of equity and parity,
it`s a shakedown. There`s difference between a shakedown and a shake up.

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, in the middle of a shakedown, if the response
was, all right if you don`t want to pay I will.

SHARPTON: Right.

HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, like maybe it`s time to have a moment about how
the Mafia actually works but that is not how it works. So, if does not
work that if you don`t want to give, don`t worry, I will because that`s
what happened in this case.

SHARPTON: Well, that`s why I say it`s a shake-up. You are shaking up
the way they deal with things. Will it stop the right wing?

HARRIS-PERRY: No, no, not at all. And, in fact, particularly it will
not stop their attack on women as though our problems with unemployment, as
though our problems with a global economic crisis have anything to do with
the choices that women make with their breasts, with their uterus.

But, no, it`s not going to stop them. It`s such an easy sort of lane
for them to go in. They will continue to go on that way.

SHARPTON: Well, I hope people stand up. And again, whether I agree
with a person`s choice, they have a right to it. Someone twitted me, a
professor, and said why are you in this. You`re not a woman.

I have two daughters and I might want to throw out there, my mother
was a woman. Melissa Harris-Perry, host of the new MSNBC show, we try to
come up with a name so we just call it "Melissa Harris-Perry" debuting on
February 18th, joining us tonight. And we`re looking forward to your show
with a whole lot of excitement.

Coming up from Planned Parenthood to the Walker recall, how
progressives are rolling back the GOP`s radical agenda.

Plus, huge, huge job numbers out today. You won`t believe what
Republicans are saying now.

But President Obama is on message.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Don`t muck it up.
Keeps it moving in the right direction.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And Mitt Romney says he misspoke on those poor comments.
No, you didn`t, Willard. We`ll show you.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
SHARPTON: Progressives are fighting back. The economy is getting better
and Mitt Romney can`t spin away those revealing comments about the poor.
We`ll be talking about all that ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it`s awful that they canceled their
funding for Planned Parenthood. It`s disgusting. It`s really awful. They
should be ashamed of themselves.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was appalled. My, you know, personal
philosophy aside, I am pro life. I just feel that they should be free
breast screening for all women.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Those are the voice of the people, people who spoke out and
forced a change for the good. Komen`s stunning reversal on funding Planned
Parenthood caps a year of progressive action that is rolling back the far
right agenda.

In Wisconsin, tens of thousands protested the GOP war on unions and
forced a recall vote of the governor.

In Ohio, overwhelming majority mobilized to vote down that state`s
anti-union bill. Occupy Wall Street brought new focus to fairness and
economic equality. I`ve seen it firsthand at national action network`s
rallies where thousands have come to fight for jobs and justice.

Folks, we have been putting the brakes on a lot of right wing
extremism. Now we`ve got to hit the gas.

Joining me now is one of the nation`s top pollsters. Celinda Lake
from Lake Research fund of Solyndra. How are you this evening? Thank you
for joining me.

CELINDA LAKE, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Thank you. I can`t imagine a
better show to be on to celebrate this tonight than with you.

SHARPTON: Well, thank you for saying that.

We saw a tea party surge in the 2010 election. But isn`t it clear now
that the momentum has swung the other way?

LAKE: It sure has. And, really, even the tea party surge originally
was a voter frustration, a vote for change. But now voters are really
galvanizing around taking back this agenda, speaking up for the people and
it`s occurring across the world really. And I think the other thing that`s
really happening is that people are standing up to big corporate
organizations whether they are corporate charities or corporate Wall
Street.

SHARPTON: Now, let me show you a couple of polls. Your -- this is
your area. One poll has where the unfavorable view of the tea party has
gone up 27 percent since January of 2010. Another poll on the Congress has
it as the worst Congress ever, plummeting to an historical low in a Gallup
poll. Does this reflect your research as well, Celinda?

LAKE: Absolutely. Americans are extremely frustrated with divisive
politics and zero sum politics and the idea, as you said it earlier in your
program, that a charity would discontinue cancer screenings in this economy
for affordable health care for women because three percent of services are
abortions paid for by totally different funding when they are need for
women`s health.

It`s just appalling to the public, and the public has said enough.
And they are frustrated with big institutions like congress. They are
frustrated with politics. They are frustrated with Wall Street.

But now they are taking things into their own hands and turning it
around. I think the most amazing thing is 10,000 people spoke out and
donated $3 million, six times the amount of grants, for Planned Parenthood
in three days.

SHARPTON: Now Celinda, I think the Republicans have tried to play the
blame game so long that it is also run out. Let me show you on election
night, 2010, what John Boehner said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We must remember,
it`s the president who sets the agenda for our government. The American
people have sent an unmistakable message to him tonight and that message
is, change course.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now that`s how he talked election night 2010 when the tea
party and Republicans had a huge win. But here we are now a little over a
year later where all of the polls say it is the Congress who has the lowest
favorability ratings and the highest unfavorability ratings in the history
of Gallup.

So I think that slowly the American public started understanding
there`s a difference between the president`s intention and being -- dealing
with obstructionists in the congress.

LAKE: Well, and the other thing is that the voters feel
overwhelmingly that, first of all, there`s good change and bad change. And
what the Republicans in Congress represent is bad change. And then they
are trying to stop the president doing everything constructive, whether
it`s trying to get this economy going or cracking down on Wall Street or
trying to get funding for education. They are trying to deflect attention
with doing ridiculous things like saying, let`s not fund Planned
Parenthood. Let`s discontinue that funding at the height of a recession.

And voters have said enough. They are rejecting not just Congress but
they are really rejecting the Republicans in congress. Their numbers have
plummeted, and my favorite statistic is even a majority of poor Republicans
don`t like the Republican Party anymore.

SHARPTON: Well, Celinda Lake, thank you for taking your time tonight.

LAKE: Thanks for having me.

SHARPTON: Thank you.

Still ahead, good for economy, bad for GOP. You won`t believe how
they are spinning the great job numbers today. It`s so sad. You have to
laugh.

And Willard Mitt Romney says he misspoke when he says he`s, quote, not
concerned about the very poor. You thought it would be that easy? Think
again.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Positive news today. The unemployment rate is down to 8.3
percent. The president is creating jobs. And the Republicans are running
out of ideas and excuses.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, this recovery has been
slower than it should have been. The president deserves the blame.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president`s policies have failed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We could do a lot better.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It`s got to make you laugh. These Republicans just can`t
handle the truth because the truth is. There is good news about the
economy. Republican congressman Alan West has been reduced to conspiracy
theories saying, quote, "there is something suspicious about the job
numbers released today. Americans need truth, not these number games."

Folks, now Republicans won`t even believe the numbers. Really? You
can`t make it up. The GOP`s state of denial on the economy, they just
can`t handle the truth. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The economy is growing stronger. The recovery is speeding up.
And we`ve got to do everything in our power to keep it going. So, I want
to send a clear message to congress. Do not slow down the recovery that
we`re on. Don`t muck it up. Keeps it moving in the right direction.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: How do you react when you learn that unemployment is down
to its lowest level in three years? Positively, right? Well, not if you
are a republican.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I know the President
didn`t cause this downturn. This recession. But he didn`t make it better
either. He made it worse.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: What I am suggesting
to you today is that we can do better. Now the American people are still
asking a question. Where are the jobs?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Where are the jobs? The jobs are in the 23 straight months
of private sector job growth. All those blue lines represent 3.7 million
jobs. That`s where the jobs are. You think the president hasn`t helped?
Well, how do you respond to ten straight quarters of economic growth? And
you like the market? So, here`s a little something for you, Willard. It`s
gone up almost 5,000 points under President Obama. If that looks worse to
you, you should get your eyes checked. How have Republicans thought about
this? You should think about getting glasses.

Joining me now, former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell. Now an NBC
News political analyst and Michael Steele, MSNBC analyst and former
chairman of the RNC. Thank you both for coming on the show tonight.

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC ANALYST: Good to be with you, Rev.

SHARPTON: Governor, let me start with you. Are Republicans in denial
about the economy?

ED RENDELL, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: Well, sure they are. And they
should recognize what are facts. The fact is that the recovery is
continuing. I think this month, job numbers were probably twice what was
expected. I think there was growth expected around the 120,000 mark.
Private sector growth. This growth was almost double that. So that is
good news no matter how you slice it. And, you know, if you are going to
hold President Obama responsible when the news is bad, he certainly
deserves credit when the news is good. And what`s particularly good in
these numbers, Reverend, is manufacturing gains continued. Month after
month of gains in manufacturing. It`s the best sustained growth in
manufacturing jobs that we`ve seen in almost a half decade. So the economy
is headed in the right direction. If we got together and stopped this
political gamesmanship and passed a good jobs bill with infrastructure, $60
billion, $70 billion of infrastructure spending, we`d even push these job
numbers through the roof.

SHARPTON: Mr. Steele, Michael, I`m going to be very gentle tonight
because you got.

STEELE: No, no.

SHARPTON: .a bad week. You had a bad week. The Republicans had a bad
week. I know you need a Super Bowl to change the story. But let me show
you the montage of Willard`s flips on the economy. Let me just show you
this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: When he took office, the economy was in recession and he made
it worse. And he made it last longer.

He didn`t create the recession, but he made it worse and longer.

He did not cause this recession but he made it worse.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: How can you continue to say that things are worse
when they really aren`t worse?

ROMNEY: I didn`t say things are worse.

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

LAURA INGRAHAM, HOST, "THE LAURA INGRAHAM SHOW": 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.

And I know the President didn`t cause this downturn to. This
recession. But he didn`t make it better either. He made it worse.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Michael --

STEELE: Yes.

SHARPTON: It seems that Mr. Romney was all over the place today. The
numbers speak for themselves. More manufacturing jobs, it`s going better.
Have a long way to go. By no means are we satisfied but it seems like it`s
going in the right direction, Michael, don`t you think, Michael?

STEELE: Yes. I agree with you, Reverend. And I think the republican
conversation on this should be, first off, to congratulate those folks who
got jobs last month, over the last few months. Congratulate the employers
who are taking the risk to get back into creating those jobs. But then to
begin to lay out the point that you just touched on which is we still have
a ways to go. We still have a great deal of underemployment folks, under
employed folks out there who gave up looking. So, now we`ve got to figure
out, how do we get them back into that search, that hunt for jobs and what
that means for the economy overall. Manufacturing sector is a strong
sector for us. Clearly, folks want to invest their creating incentives
which Republicans should be arguing about to lower the barriers so
companies can come back to the U.S. repatriate those profits if you will.

SHARPTON: Yes. As President Obama has been talking about. But let
me ask you this, Michael Steele.

STEELE: Yes.

SHARPTON: How can Willard Mitt Romney run against the President where
he`s flip flopped? One minute the President didn`t do anything. Next
minute he`s doing better. I mean, wouldn`t his position be better, one if
it was consistent and, two if he did what you did, congratulate people that
are working, congratulate the President going the right direction, but we
need more and here are my ideas. But by taking both sides of a position
and acting like when genuine progress happens it`s nothing, doesn`t it make
it even more disingenuous to voters?

STEELE: I think it`s a harder argument, which was the point that
Laura Ingraham was raising in that interview was, you know, you`ve set
yourself in such a position that when there is good news, you are forced
to, you know, do what you saw today. I think that people need to stop and
Republicans need to focus on what their agenda is going to be for full
recovery, sustainable recovery into the future and not fall into the trap
of trying to say, well, you know, he didn`t cause the, you know, the
difficulties, but not necessarily recognize when there is good news, like
the governor said. You got to give props where props are due. But at the
same time I still think that Republicans can make the argument to the
American people of why what the President has done has not been as
successful as it could have been but short of that you`re going to look a
little bit off balance, if you will.

SHARPTON: Now, Governor, we`re in a good report but, of course, we
know that this is just one report. We have no idea where it`s going to go.
And I think the President is clear. We`re in political season, getting
ready for battle. He laid out the -- how he`s drawing the lines, getting
ready to face, probably, Willard Mitt Romney. Look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Don`t try and stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its
course and hit the bottom.

OBAMA: It is wrong for anybody to suggest that the only option for
struggling, responsible homeowners is to sit and wait for the housing
market to hit bottom.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Former republican presidential candidate Mitt
Romney is making the case that the best thing for the big three is to let
them go into bankruptcy.

OBAMA: The U.S. auto industry is back. That`s good to remember the
fact that there were some folks willing to let this industry die.

ROMNEY: I`m not concerned about the very poor.

OBAMA: We`re caring for the poor and those in need.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Isn`t the contrast between the two on economic issues,
isn`t the contrast between what they are projecting to the public going to
really be what this race is all about or at least it appears that that`s
the strategy of President Obama, Governor Rendell?

RENDELL: Yes, I think that`s the strategy. And right now, it`s a
winning strategy. But the Republicans should clearly do what Chairman
Steele suggested that they do. They`ve got to come up with concrete ideas.
And they can`t give us the same cut taxes, eliminate regulations. That
argument has been in place for a long time and it`s pretty clear that that
in and of itself doesn`t work. But take an idea that Michael had.
Repatriate all that money that`s overseas and take it. Let`s bring it back
home and let`s put it to work by funding infrastructure repair, creating
well-paying jobs for Americans. Those are the type of ideas. I think what
this election is going to come down to is the economy. And it`s not going
to be necessarily what the unemployment or employment numbers are. It`s
going to be what ideas the candidates have for making it better. And
that`s where the Republicans still have a chance. But right now, President
Obama is wiping the floor with him.

SHARPTON: Michael Steele, the Congress, republican members of the
house, are going to have to deal with extension of unemployment. They`re
going to have to deal with the continued issues on the table. With these
numbers and the continual, gradual as it may be progress of the economy,
are they going to have a harder time arguing that they`re not cooperating
with the President because the President`s methods are not working? How do
they now make an argument against cooperating with the President when it
seems like the President`s ideas are beginning to work?

STEELE: Well, I think it goes back to my point that I made before,
and that is acknowledge where the President can get some credit in terms
of where the economy is moving towards. But then make the case through
legislation and policy that there are other things, other attributes of the
president`s policy, particularly health care, costs that are going to come
online beginning January of 2013. Taxes that will go up next year. Those
types of arguments, reforming the tax codes are the arguments and policy
discussions that I think Republicans can make very clearly and very
succinctly to draw those distinctions between the direction the President
wants to go, where the government is kind of having their hands on the till
versus the private sector which is the direction Republicans have argued,
freeing up those opportunities for them. I think the argument can be made,
and it can be made successfully.

SHARPTON: Well, we`ll see. Governor Ed Rendell and Michael Steele.
Thanks so much. Have a great weekend.

RENDELL: You, too, Al.

SHARPTON: Up next -- poor, poor Willard. Just wait until you hear
how he`s trying to spin his "I`m not concerned about the poor" comment.
We`ll talk to Erin McPike and Steve Kornacki about Willard`s bad week.
Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. Mitt Romney should have
been enjoying his big win this week in Florida. But unfortunately, his
mouth got in the way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I`m in this race because I care about Americans. I`m not
concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs
despair, I`ll fix it. I`m not concerned about the very rich. They`re
doing just fine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Romney said it was taken out of context. But now he says
he regrets it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I misspoke. I wish I wouldn`t have said it that way. You
know when you do I don`t know how many thousands of interviews, now and
then you may get it wrong, and I misspoke, plain and simple.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: You misspoke? No, Willard, your own policies show you
meant it. You back the Ryan plan which would slash income programs by $2.9
trillion. Your own tax plan hurts the poor and helps the wealthy. And you
want to repeal the health care law.

Joining me now is Erin McPike from Real Clear Politics and Steve
Kornacki, political columnist for Salon.com. He`s writing about Mitt`s
flip-flops and major gaffes today. Thank you both for being here tonight.

STEVE KORNACKI, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, SALON.COM: Sure.

SHARPTON: Steve, Romney won Florida this week. But did his comments
about the poor overshadow everything that he should have gained from a big
win in Florida?

KORNACKI: Yes, well, I mean, I think in his defense he had a good
seven hours to celebrate his victory in Florida. Then he opened his mouth
on CNN and that`s pretty much all we`ve been talking about since then.
And, you know, I mean, to me, it`s sort of -- we could talk about how this
might hurt him in the primary season. It might extend the primary season.
It might -- Republicans. I don`t think in the end it`s going to threaten
that position at all. But I think this is just part of a broader story
line where we`re seeing a lot of vulnerabilities. A lot of general
election vulnerabilities from Mitt Romney that have been opened up in the
primary season and they are going to sort of segue seamlessly into the
general election where Obama can sort of pick up where the primary season
left off. You know, these are not republican issues he`s tripping himself
up. These are general election issues.

SHARPTON: Well, Erin, you can`t remake people. And I think that what
was disturbing to me, we all in public life have had our gaffes and
whatever. But the pattern here, and then you come out of a big victory.
You make a statement that clearly is insensitive, at best, even though they
line up with your policies, you try to get around them. And then you go
and stand in Las Vegas with the king of bling, the personification of being
super rich and taking an endorsement less than 24 hours after you said
that. This kind of thinking makes me say, it doesn`t matter whether it`s
October or not. This is not a political strategist in any sense of having
his hand on the pulse of the American people.

ERIN MCPIKE, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Right. I think the Trump
endorsement the next day was certainly tone deaf. But generally speaking,
Mitt Romney was kind of a man without a country on this because Republicans
are upset with what he said, too, because if you go further into his
explanation of that comment, even when he said I misspoke, he said my
campaign is focused on the middle class. Well, Republicans in Washington
are upset about that, too, because it undermines their message. When they
are going after President Obama for inciting class warfare as they say.
They say Mitt Romney is doing the same thing here.

SHARPTON: Well, he said that he`s going for the middle class. He
doesn`t care about the very rich. They`re all right. He doesn`t care
about the poor. They have a safety net. But I thought the Republicans
were against the poor having a safety net. So you are talking class
warfare. You are saying that the safety net -- you are implying that it`s
all right to stay there. Maybe that`s why Republicans are responding the
way they are. Let me show you what some of his Republicans are saying.
John McCormack, Weekly Standard called it, "The most idiotic thing a
politician has ever said," end of quote. Jonah Goldberg of National Review
writes, "What is wrong with this guy?" Krauthammer says, "This is bad." I
mean, these are Republicans. We won`t even get to the Democrats and the
independents. How does he -- how do you become the nominee, which most
people feel he will be, and you`ve got this kind of open guessing of you
and your statements and your strategy, Steve.

KORNACKI: Well, I think, you know, what Erin is saying is true. You
know, he`s got the Republicans upset because, you know, they like to play -
- they like to bash the Democrats for class warfare. The reason why Romney
got himself into this, this week and why this is sort of been an ongoing
problem for him is, he has been aware and his campaign has been aware from
the very beginning, that running as the nominee of the Republican Party,
which you know, no matter who the Republicans nominate, the Democrats will
paint the Republicans as the servants of the top one percent. For Romney
to have that roll, his campaign has been aware for a long time. He`s
particularly vulnerable that charge because he is so closely associated
with the top one percent. He`s sort of exudes top one percent. So, he`s
come up with this platform where I`m not going to call it moderate
platform. But he`s broken with the Republicans where he feels he can on a
lot of these economic issues. Like, you know, Gingrich wants to eliminate
the capital gains tax. Romney says, don`t cut it for the rich. Seems like
that. He`s irked them a little bit by not completely going along with the
party line because he`s aware of how much it will hurt him in the fall.
And then when he steps in it like this, especially they don`t like hearing
that.

MCPIKE: If I can add, you know, Karl Rove as we all know, a dean of
the Republican Party, wrote just this week in "The Wall Street Journal"
that Mitt Romney has been too focused on his biography and not focused
enough on policy. Now, the Romney campaign has done that because he goes
around and says, I spent my life in the private sector. And they think
everyone wants to hear that which may be true that he hasn`t been
Washington insider. But by focusing on his biography so much, he
underscores the facts that he is such a wealthy guy and is a one percenter.

SHARPTON: Now, Erin, you`ve been around Willard. You`ve been around
him on the trail. Is it that he`s tone deaf, that he`s in a bubble, or is
there some ingenious strategy that we are -- none of us will figure out
until late November headed into the general election if in fact he`s the
republican nominee?

MCPIKE: I think there`s a little bit of everything you said. There
was a strategy to keep him sort of boxed away for a long time and not out
in the press. So, he didn`t make some of these gaffes and so that the
campaign could drive the message that they wanted. But also remember, Mitt
Romney has said he made his own money, which is true. But he did grow up
with wealth as well which set him up to then make his own money. And, you
know I just think he in a way has been in his own bubble for a long time.
And he really hasn`t been around poor people his whole life. So, I think
he is not really used to a lot of what America is.

SHARPTON: Now, you know, late night comedians love Romney winning. I
mean, Republicans may be saying, oh, my God, but late night comedians say,
wow, we can have this for next seven months. Watch what they`re doing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: He`s trying to act like a regular guy, this Mitt.
He was at a Laundromat doing his laundry. Did you see that phonied up
picture? Trying to get the cognac stains out of his smoking jacket.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Romney is the only guy that says you`re fired more
than Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: If two Ivy League educated successful business
tycoons from wealth families can find common ground, even when one is a
billionaire and the other only a multi, multi, multimillionaire, maybe
there`s hope this country isn`t so divided after all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Erin McPike and Steve Kornacki, thanks for your time. Have
a great weekend.

KORNACKI: You too.

MCPIKE: You, too.

SHARPTON: Up next, our "Here are the jobs" series. We`ll talk to an
automaker hiring hundreds of people right now, right here in the USA.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Now to our ongoing series, "Here are the jobs." Today`s
jobs report shows things are picking up. And it`s the manufacturing sector
fuelling the comeback. Boosting jobs in other sectors. Like the auto
industry. With sales surging up 11 percent in January from last year,
President Obama visited the Washington, D.C., auto show this week touting
the comeback. Detroit`s big three are planning to hire 15,000 people this
year. The Japanese automaker Nissan is also hiring right here in America.
Nissan`s looking to fill over 1200 jobs.

Joining me now, Mark Stout, Nissan`s vice president of Human
Resources. Thank you for coming on the show tonight.

MARK STOUT, VP OF HUMAN RESOURCES, NISSAN: Good to be here.

SHARPTON: Now, we saw good news in today`s jobs report about
manufacturing jobs. A lot of that being driven by the surge in the auto
industry. Nissan has jobs. First, tell me what kind of jobs.

STOUT: And we`ve got jobs across the board. Mainly in our
manufacturing facilities in Tennessee and Mississippi. We`ve got
production supervisors. We`ve got maintenance technician, our skilled
labor. We`ve got manufacturing engineers and quality engineers and mainly
assembly line workers. Our production technicians who build the products
every day. Those are the opportunities. Not only there, though. We`ve
got opportunities at our headquarters where we have marketing positions and
sales positions. So, we`ve got opportunities at Nissan.

SHARPTON: Now how many jobs do you have, and where are they?

STOUT: The jobs are across the board, Tennessee. We have them in
Mississippi. We have those positions in Farmington Hills, Michigan. We
have an R&D Center. Our research and development center in Michigan.
We`ve got opportunities there for R&D engineers, component engineers, power
train engineers. So, mainly in Tennessee, Michigan, also in Dallas, Texas.
We have our sales finance location there and we have opportunities in
Dallas, Texas. So, the opportunities are good at Nissan these days.

SHARPTON: Now, your CEO said that 2012 was going to be a record year.
That`s quite a statement given that the auto industry was on the brink of
bankruptcy. What`s fueling this growth?

STOUT: What I think, Al, is Nissan in 2011 -- 2010 -- 2011, I`m
sorry, had a great year. 14.7 percent growth. And I think what`s fueling
that is the customers are back. I think the customers are ready to buy
cars, buy trucks. I think they are coming out of the crisis. They need to
get back, buy new vehicles. Replace those they have in the past. And I
think new product introductions. Nissan has new products. The pathfinder.
We just recently launched a new versa. So, we`re excited about that. And
I think the customer is responding.

SHARPTON: Now, you -- Nissan has always made an investment in
electric cars which would provide jobs a year and going forward into the
future. Is that right?

STOUT: That`s absolutely true. In Tennessee, for example, we`re
building a new plant to build our 100 percent electric Nissan Leaf. And
that`s exciting. And that`s another opportunity for people in Tennessee to
have jobs. So, it`s exciting to have that and we`re moving it forward.

SHARPTON: Thirteen hundred fifty jobs, Tennessee, Mississippi,
Michigan. If I want to apply, how do I do it?

STOUT: Nissan jobs. Nissan.jobs. That`s where you go. That`s where
the opportunities are. And we welcome anyone to take advantage of that Web
site and see what`s there for you.

SHARPTON: Now, the cars that are made here in America are also sold
here?

STOUT: Yes, sir. Yes, sir, they are.

SHARPTON: And you are glad to have these opportunities available, but
you`re not as glad as we are. Now, let me ask you something, last year was
a tough year for Nissan with the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. How did
things turn around?

STOUT: I think what we`ve done, Al, is we`ve been very resolute in
our strategy. It was a tough year in Japan. But we came back strong. We
focused on our supply chain. We were very aggressive. We had a focus on
what we had to do to serve our customer and we responded. And that`s what
it`s about. And Nissan worked as a team globally, and we were able to
achieve that. So, I think it`s a step by step process when you have a
disaster like that. We came back strong. We`re very proud of where we are
today.

SHARPTON: Mark Stout, thanks again. And that`s 1200 jobs in
Tennessee and 150 in Canton, Mississippi. Two apply go to Nissan.jobs.
Our Web site, politicsnation.msnbc.com has the latest information on the
companies we`re featuring. We also have updates on the status of their
jobs. Click on "Here are the jobs." We`re looking forward to hearing from
you.

Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. Have a great weekend.
"HARDBALL" starts right now.

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

<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2012 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Transcription Copyright 2012 ASC LLC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is
granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not
reproduce or redistribute the material except for user`s personal or
internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall
user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may
infringe upon MSNBC and ASC LLC`s copyright or other proprietary rights or
interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of
litigation.>





Sponsored links

Resource guide