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PoliticsNation, Tuesday, February 7, 2012

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Guests: Martin O`Malley; Bob Shrum; Laura Bassett; Joan Walsh, Bob Franken, Maria Theresa Kumar, Bill Press

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

More blowback from the Komen decision to defund Planned Parenthood.
And the new pressures put on Mitt Romney.

The big news today, shake up at Komen foundation. Today, the woman at
the center of this fire storm, Karen Handel, the vice president of public
policy for Komen, has resigned. The resignation comes after learning she
ran for governor on an anti-abortion platform saying she was, quote, "a
pro-life Christian who did not support the mission of Planned Parenthood."

The "Huffington Post" reports that Handel drove the decision to defund
Planned Parenthood. Once, saw it said, quote, "Karen Handel was the prime
instigator of this effort and she herself personally came up with the
investigation criteria."

Today, she is blaming Planned Parenthood.


FOUNDATION: For Komen, for myself, the mission was always foremost in
everyone`s minds, the mission and the women that we serve and for anyone --
the only group here who has made this issue political has been Planned


SHARPTON: Meanwhile, Mitt Romney, desperate to appeal to right-wing
voters, has plunged into this issue.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Should Susan G. Komen`s plan for the
cure, in your view, continue to fund in any way Planned Parenthood?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t think so I also feel
that the government should cut off funding to Planned Parenthood. Look,
the idea that we are subsidizing an institution which is providing abortion
in my view, is wrong. Planned Parenthood ought to stand on its own feet
and should not get government subsidy. I am a pro-life individual. I was
the pro-life governor.


SHARPTON: So, after all the backlash, he wants to completely defund
Planned Parenthood and he was a pro-life governor? Willard, 2012, let me
introduce you to Willard 22.


ROMNEY: I will preserve and protect a woman`s right to choose and am
devoted and dedicated to honoring my word in that regard.

I think people recognize that I`m not a partisan Republican, I`m
someone who is moderate and my views are progressive.

I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. I
believe that since Roe V. Wade has been the law for 20 years, that we
should sustain and support it.


SHARPTON: Timeout. Wait. Let`s hear that again.


ROMNEY: I will preserve and protect a woman`s right to choose and am
devoted and dedicated to honoring my word in that regard.


SHARPTON: Absolutely amazing. Those were all the 2002 statements
from Willard. He didn`t just like Roe versus Wade. He used to like
Planned Parenthood, too. Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts telling us,
quote, "ten years ago, Mitt Romney sought the endorsement of Planned
Parenthood advocacy fund. Mitt Romney has no credibility when it comes to
women`s health and reproductive rights." And he even said he supported Roe
versus Wade on their questionnaire. There`s his signature. And Romney`s
wife donated to Planned Parenthood in 1994.

But Willard`s conservative credibility is getting hammered every day
and it is forcing him to move further and further to the right. Will he be
able to get back to the middle for the general election? Will anyone
believe anything he says at that point?

Joining me now is Laura Bassett, reporter for the "Huffington Post."
She has been all over the story from the start and broke the story about
Karen Handel`s role in the controversy. Bob Shrum is the Democratic
strategist and professor at NYU and Joan Walsh is the editor at large at Thanks to all of you for coming on the show tonight.


SHARPTON: Laura, let me start with you. What is behind Karen
Handel`s resignation? Is there more to come out on politics behind the
initial decision?

called me that there was a lot of internal pressure within the
organization, starting at earliest last Tuesday, when the huge backlash
happened against Komen. A lot of people were upset knowing Karen Handel
had driven the decision and come up with the whole PR strategy to try to
make it look like it was non-political.

And after the story came out that she had actually driven the
decision. I think that there`s a lot of external pressure. There were
tons of petitions that were circulating. Hundreds of thousands of people
signed petitions demanding that she be fired or that she resign. So, I
think she was caving to all that pressure.

SHARPTON: Now, Joan. You saw where I played Karen Handel is blaming
everything on Planned Parenthood and saying they brought politics in. Let
me show you Nancy Brinker, who is the CEO of Komen, her statement today.

I will read it to you. It says "we have made mistakes in how we have
handled recent decision and take full accountability for what has resulted
but we cannot take our eye off the ball when it comes to our mission. To
do this effectively, we must learn from what we have done right, what we
have done wrong and achieve our goal for the millions of women who rely on

Your reaction to that?

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: You know, I think Nancy Brinker is still in a
lot of trouble here for a couple of reason, reverend Al. First of all,
when Karen Handel released this resignation letter, she made clear. She
basically called Nancy Brinker, a liar. Because Nancy had gone on here and
talked with Andrea Mitchell about Karen Handel had nothing to do with this,
there was no politics involved. She basically said I did this and I`m
proud of it and I don`t like the way the foundation is portraying it.

So she called her boss a liar. She declined a severance package which
often comes along with a kind of gag order, let`s not disparage one
another. I think she set herself up kind of wonderfully to be this pro-
life martyr.

And Komen basically deserves it, because I believe they hired her
because they knew -- she wasn`t hiding that she was endorsed by Sarah Palin
and that she was pro-life. She never hid that. So, for them to sort of
deny politics played a role, bring her in then back away, I think there is
a lot of cowardice going on.

SHARPTON: Kind of hard to hide Sarah Palin.

WALSH: Right.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you, Bob. Now, Willard has gotten in it. A new
Reuter`s poll last month shows his number views gone down one percent. So
the results are despite all of his money, his organization, his advantages,
he is still being doubted by members in the party.

The poll says that, suggest that Romney, despite his vast advantages
in organization, fund raising and momentum after victories New Hampshire,
Florida and Nevada still has many doubters among Republicans nationwide.

Is this why he is going all the way to the right and to the point
where he seems to hope we forget things he said On the Record, on video,
and has done 180-degree turn? I mean, he is making flip-flopping seem mild
on this.

SHRUM: Yes, look. There`s no right-wing box he won`t check. There`s
no position he has held in the past that he doesn`t believe he can abandon.
There`s no hypocrisy he won`t engage in. But this is costing him a very
big price. Take the decision you talked about on Planned Parenthood. Is
he going to argue that it was OK to be pro Planned Parenthood at the state
level, as he is pro-Romney care but not pro-Planned Parenthood at the
federal level?

The result of this has been it is going to be the most reluctant
nomination of any major party in a very long time. He has a very hard time
rising in the polls and convincing conservatives. I think he is going to
be in trouble tonight in a couple of these states against Rick Santorum,
won`t stop him long term.

The other thing that`s happened is his favorable/unfavorables are now
upside down. In the "Washington Post" poll, he is now running six points
behind President Obama and the most devastating statistic, people say the
more they hear about him by a margin of 2-1 the less they like about him
that is not a way to get elected president.

SHARPTON: And Joan, it seems that Santorum is pushing him, Bob is
right, way to the right. Santorum seems to be, in some polls, really
having risen in some of the states that are up tonight.

WALSH: Right.

SHARPTON: And it seems that Romney, he can`t talk about just
statewide Planned Parenthood. He talked about Roe vs. Wade.

WALSH: Right.

SHARPTON: Which is clearly not a state decision.

WALSH: Right.

SHARPTON: How does he think he is going to be able to answer all of

WALSH: I don`t know. And you know, he has gone one better than this,
reverend Al, because he has come out, he is relentlessly attacking the
president on this decision to require that all employers, including you the
catholic church, pay for contraception and insurance and Romney care did
the same thing. Romney care included family planning services. The state
of Massachusetts, with 27 other states requires that, he didn`t say a peep
about it. There are so many ways in which he is caught in his own history
and own background and, you know it is starting to look like a certain kind
of hypocrisy.

SHARPTON: Now, Laura. Let go back to you a second. There seems to
be almost an obsession in the house Republican caucus about Planned
Parenthood, voted twice last year to defund the group, once in February.

So for viewers to understand the move by Karen Handel, this is
something in line with the far right of the Republican Party that she was
in lockstep with and as suggested here by Joan, had to be to the knowledge
of Komen when they hired her and possibly hired her for those reasons.

BASSETT: Yes. I would go beyond saying that they knew it when they
hired her and saying it is part of the reason that they did hire her. I
think that there were some pro-life people already in leadership that are
on the board at Komen. And I think that Planned Parenthood they saw as a
problem and they hired her to sort of deal with the Planned Parenthood
problem. And the solution that she came up with was to come one the
criteria, make it look like a routine change in the criteria for who gets

SHARPTON: Based on investigations, which is an allegation that no
evidence that a real investigation was really moving forward.

BASSETT: Right. So, they are pretending like it is not political
knowing very well all along that it was about abortion, which is sad
because none of the money that Komen gave to Planned Parenthood was used
for abortion. It was used for cancer screenings for low-income women and
abortion was kind a just dragged in to this.

SHARPTON: You see. I think, Laura that that is the most egregious of
the whole situation, when you broke this, is that that we are not even
really talking about abortion here in terms of the Komen money. This money
was for breast cancer screening for low-income women.

BASSETT: Absolutely.

SHARPTON: So, these people were willing to risk the actual lives of
people just to make their political point against something that this
agency dealt with differently. It had nothing to do with the dollars in
question. I mean, and these people call themselves moralists and call
themselves Christian? I mean this is amazing here.

BASSETT: It`s funny to use the word pro-life regarding something like
this because cancer screenings save lives and that what they are preventing
Planned Parenthood from being able to do. So, I think is there a little
bit of hypocrisy apparent in that.

SHARPTON: Joan, can these house Republicans drag Romney down? I
mean, with Romney going all the way over there now saying Planned
Parenthood should be defunded, obviously playing to this far right, will
they drag him down?

WALSH: Well, they are dragging him all the way to the right and if he
does get into the general election with President Obama he is now saddled
with really, really unpopular position. He has no claim on independents.
They are turning against him. As you said, the more they see the less they
like. So, they are certainly hurting him because every time he goes far
right to get their support, he alienates more independents and even
moderate Republicans.

SHARPTON: Bob, you have handled presidential campaigns and other
campaigns. Give us some kind of scenario how you could possibly, possibly
explain away such obvious documented film of changes of mind. I mean, I
sense Paul on the road to Damascus in the bible, I have never seen such
major conversions on issues.

SHRUM: Well, look. If I had a way out for Romney, I wouldn`t give it
to you, not because I object to giving it to you but because I don`t want
him to win and I wouldn`t want to give it to him.

Every presidential candidate, even the best candidate, makes a
mistake, makes a gaffe, says something they shouldn`t say, change a
position. That is usually an episode. With this guy, it is an epidemic.
He is coming across as inauthentic, callous, someone who is out of touch,
an empty suit who maybe smart about how to make money but doesn`t seem to
be any inner core convictions at all.

SHARPTON: Now, I must ask this, Joan. You have 28 states that have
laws requiring employers to cover birth control. And eight states that
have no exemption at all, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Montana, New Hampshire,
Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin. This is now become an issue as we look at
the map of those states that do not have exemptions, religious exemptions.
This is now become an issue with the president, with the administration
making their decision and now Romney`s on the other side of that.

WALSH: Right. And the president has bent over backwards and created
an exemption in federal law for the church itself, and catholic employees.
And they don`t have to provide coverage that includes contra accepts. So,
you have Georgia, Newt Gingrich`s state of Georgia doesn`t create that

So, there are again, there`s so much hypocrisy there. You look at
those states. Some of them like Wisconsin are swing states and supposedly
Catholics are going to be up in arms about it. I think, I said it often.
I think Catholics need to speak out. Ninety eight percent of us use
contraception against the teachings of the bishop. So, for us to expect
that the president listen to teachings that we don`t obey, where is the
separation of church and state? There`s something off here.

SHARPTON: And where is the consistency here on even church theology?
Because why only abortion? Why not divorces, why not adultery? I mean, if
we are going to stop funding for one thing that the church may consider a
sin, who decides which sin rises to the level of not receiving your

WALSH: That is why we would kind of like to keep the church out of
most of these things what we have done for a long, long time. It shouldn`t

SHARPTON: Now Laura. But David Axelrod said today, and let he play
it to you. That they may and he said that on this station early this
morning, they may be open to talking about how to work this out. Look at
this and give me your reaction.


certainly don`t want to abridge anyone`s religious freedom. So, we are
going to look for a way to move forward that both guarantees women that
basic preventive care that they need and respects -- respects the
prerogatives of religious institutions. The president and the
administration move forward, but with a Grace period or a time period in
order to work this thing through. We want to resolve it in an appropriate



BASSETT: I know that the administration doesn`t want to upset the
bishops. The catholic bishops have an extremely powerful lobby, especially
on this birth control issue. And of course, they don`t want to alienate
catholic voters. It is true that 98 percent of catholic voters use
contraception and I think the way that they dealt with it the first time,
which is to say churches and houses of worship don`t have to cover birth
control for their employees, everyone else does. And the bishops are
lobbying to broaden this exemption. I don`t see the Obama administration
caving on that.

SHARPTON: All right, Laura Bassett and Bob Shrum and Joan Walsh,
thanks to all three of you for joining me this evening.

WALSH: Good night, reverend.

SHRUM: Good night, rev.

SHARPTON: Coming up, President Obama is fighting fire with fire. His
campaign is not about to let billionaires and corporations literally buy
this election for the GOP.

Plus, more bad news for Mr. Economy, Willard Romney, you won`t believe
what a senator said today.

And Clint Eastwood responds to Republicans who say promoting American
workers is political paid back. It`s the super bowl ad everyone is still
talking about.

You are watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.


SHARPTON: The fight for marriage equality, big news today from
California and maybe big news for Maryland. We will talk to Governor
Martin O`Malley of Maryland on that, next.


SHARPTON: Welcome back to "Politics Nation." A resounding ruling for
progress and equality was delivered today in California. Four years ago,
California voters cast their ballots on a proposition eight, a
conservative-backed initiative to ban same-sex marriage by changing the
state constitution to only recognize marriage between a man and a woman.
It sparked national outrage and a debate raging across the country, with
many calling it a violation of the civil rights of gays and lesbians.

Today, in a 2-1 vote, the ninth circuit federal court of appeals
declared California`s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, saying,
quote, "proposition eight serves no purpose and has no effect, other than
to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California."
The plaintiffs opposing prop eight celebrated today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ninth circuit`s decision today affirms we are
all born equally and we all deserve equal rights, because, in the end, the
truth wins.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Finally, we will be able to stand before our
family and our friends and make the one promise we have all longed for.


SHARPTON: More Americans than ever before are standing behind same-
sex marriage. Six states and the District of Columbia have legalized it
and legislation is pending in six other state, including Maryland. I
recently joined that fight to legalize same-sex marriage there.


SHARPTON: As a Baptist minister, I don`t have the right to impose my
beliefs on anyone else. So, if committed gay and lesbian couples want to
marry, that`s their business. None of us should stand in their way.


SHARPTON: Joining me now is Maryland governor Martin O`Malley, who is
leading the fight for marriage equality in his state.

Governor, thank you for your time tonight.

MARTIN O`MALLEY (D), GOVERNOR, MARYLAND: Hey, thank you, reverend
Sharpton. Thank you for joining our campaign for marriage equality.

SHARPTON: Now, do you think the proposition eight`s decision will
affect your fight for legalizing marriage -- marriage equal knit your

O`MALLEY: Well, I hope so and I hope it does in a positive way. I
think it is the latest evidence this current of our nation`s history always
moves forward to greater protection of the freedom of individuals and that
was what was at stake in that division.

Now granted, that was in California but it interpreted a constitution
that all of us live under and that all believe is important for the
protection of the rights of individuals. So I hope that will have a
persuasive influence on those delegates who are still open-minded and in
order to persuade them to vote for our bill.

Our bill protects religious freedom and it also protects individual
liberty, in this case, the right of any individual to marry whomever they
should choose.

SHARPTON: Now, when you say protect religious freedom, you mean that
it does not force those religious institutions, churches, to do anything
they don`t believe in, but it just means they cannot impose their believes
on others that are not a part of their giving congregations or belief?

O`MALLEY: Reverend, what we did, we looked the all those states that
have managed to strike this balance and pass bills that protect religious
freedom and the rights of individuals equally. And we, in essence, dialed
up and put much more explicit language in Maryland`s bill this year that
makes it very, very clear that nothing in this law requires that any faith,
any church has to check with the state or should be influenced by the state
by any means in terms of how they define their own teachings, their own
beliefs, their own definitions of what is and is not a sacrament.

So, we made those protections and religious freedom very, very
explicit in this bill. And for that reason, I think we have partly for
that reason and partly because of the evolution of understanding around
this issue, we have a broad-based coalition that has grown in Maryland
since last year that includes clergy, includes members of faith-based
organizations and citizens throughout our state, including civil rights
advocates and others, who understand that we can protect the equal civil
marriage rights of all individuals and also protect religious freedom at
the same time.

SHARPTON: You know I have been impressed with that. I know, like
Reverend Delman Coates and others who have very firm and fundamental
religious views but feel that people should have the right to deal with
their own civil arrangements and it has grown around the country.

Let me show you how the attitude on this issue has change as people
understand it is not imposing anything on them. In 1996, 27 percent of
Americans supported same-sex marriage. 2001, it went to 35 percent; 2006,
35 percent; 2011, 46 percent.

So, it seems that if you look at the Pew poll, more favor legalizing
it, 46 percent to opposing 44 percent, it has actually, according to this
pork the majority of Americans supporting it.

O`MALLEY: Right. The-I think the source of our all of our divisions
is always fear. Fear that somehow other people are going to threaten my
belief systems fear that others people may threaten my family. If others
have right, I will have lesser rights.

But, the way forward within our country where people of different
religions find a way to get along is always towards equal and greater
respect for the freedom of all. And I think increasingly, that`s what more
and more people are realizing, even those that in the past might have
described themselves as opposed to equal civil marriage rights have now
come around to the truth this is not a threat to anyone`s belief system or
individual choices as to how they shall lead their life or how she shall
worship or what they believe in.

SHARPTON: Before we let you go, governor. I have to ask you about
another governor, governor Chris Christie, recently said would veto gay
marriage, call for a referendum of New Jersey voters to cast their ballot
on whether they support it or not. Let me show you what he said.


institution of marriage, as is traditionally known is between one man and
one woman and it should stay that way in New Jersey. Rather than having
stalemate and deadlock on this issue, which is inevitably where it will
lead if they pass the legislation and send it to me, because I will not
sign it, it will be vetoed, let`s the people of New Jersey decide what is
right for the state. Let`s put the question of same-sex marriage on the
ballot this fall in the hands of the people.


SHARPTON: Now, he did something totally different than you. He kind
of said I would veto it, but then he washed his hands and threw it into a
referendum so that it would really not put him on the spot if the
legislature had went ahead and passed it, we have to make a move or not.

You have, at some political risk, had the courage to say let`s deal
with it in the legislature, put on my desk, I will sign it. What is your
thinking of your colleague as governor of New Jersey?

O`MALLEY: I don`t know. The -- a lot of these important issues and
expanding rights of individuals and greater freedom for all get worked out
between that interplay between the ballot box and the courts and the
legislature. I think the legislature is the best place to work these
things out. I think governor Christie sounds like he wants to have his
cake and eat it, too.

In the case of Maryland, I mean our ballot - I mean, our legislative
action might well go to the ballot. Might be petitioned there, but I
believe the better way to deal with this is straight up in the legislature
we very close to passing this last year in Maryland. And with the growing
coalition, I believe we can and with will pass it in Maryland.

SHARPTON: Governor Martin O`Malley, thank you for your time tonight.

O`MALLEY: Thank you, reverend Sharpton.

SHARPTON: Ahead, Clint Eastwood says his ad had nothing to do with
politics or President Obama but it actually makes his case better.

And Willard Romney`s entire campaign is based on fixing the economy.
So, what happens now that it`s improving? One very prominent senator said
that we will all -- he said what we will all think.

Stay with us.


SHARPTON: How do you run against a president who is fixing the
economy and leading by nine points in the polls? If you`re the GOP, you go
back to your old reliable big money. It`s estimated that the Koch Brothers
and Karl Rove will commit half a billion towards defeating President Obama
in this election. Today, the President`s campaign responded. He is
telling top donors to support the Obama Super PAC, priorities USA, saying,
quote, "The stakes are too important to play by two different sets of
rules." Make no mistake, this is not how the President wants to fight. He
recently spoke against the flood of money into politics and two years ago,
he criticized Citizens United ruling which opened the flood gates to big
money in politics.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: With all due deference to
separation of powers, last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of
law that I believe will open the flood gates for special interests,
including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our election.


SHARPTON: Now, that`s Justice Samuel Alito telling the President it`s
not true, but we all know that it`s true. And Republicans are using
unlimited secret campaign money as their primary weapon. They know it may
be their only hope.

Joining me now is Bob Franken, King Features syndicated columnist and
Maria Theresa Kumar, executive director of Voto Latino and an MSNBC
contributor. Thank you both for being here.



KUMAR: Thank you for having us.

SHARPTON: Bob, let me start with you. What do you make of the
President`s decision?

FRANKEN: Well, I think we have to put this in the my mama didn`t
raise no fool category. This is a fairly obvious one. And just as
obviously, the Republicans are going to be criticizing him for it. They
are criticizing just about anything these days. The next thing we will
hear is that they are criticizing Clint Eastwood, but obviously, they are
going to try and make something of it, but it is absurd. Money is what
dominates politics now. I think the big problem is going to be how they
are going to spend all the money. I just don`t think that there are enough
TV stations in the country to use all the campaign commercials that this
money would buy, so maybe I have a thought here and maybe we can come up
with a special channel that is devoted to nothing but campaign commercials.
What do you think?

SHARPTON: Well, not my decision. I will think about it though. But
let me ask you, Maria, when you look at the difference in monies raised,
does the President really have a choice? Let me give you the facts. The
Obama Super PAC, priorities USA action, raised just $4.1 million in
itemized donations in 2011. When you contrast that with restore our
future, with support republican candidate Willard Romney.

They raised more than 30 million. Republican Super PAC American
crossroads run by Karl Rove, former adviser to President George W. Bush,
raised over 50 million. So, if they didn`t start raising super PAC money
and you have rove it over 50 million, over 30 million people with
supporting Romney doing negative ads, they would have -- with 4.4 million
only raised so far, I mean, they would have been given an almost
unprecedented advantage to the opposition, even though they disagree with
the ruling, the ruling is standing right now.

KUMAR: That`s absolutely right, Reverend. And what I think what the
-- Barack Obama`s campaign doing is absolutely right. So, it`s basically
God helps those who helps themselves. God didn`t, you know, he wasn`t
raised by a fool, as Bob said. And I think what more importantly though is
that the very reason that the Super PACs are in existence is so that they
can go negative on someone and to do it without fingerprints and without
responsibility. And I actually cautioned the candidates to think that they
are thinking, they are doing politics as usual, because what is really
happening is that there could potentially be a backlash against these Super
PACs and negative ads on social media. Let`s not forget what happened
recently with Komen.

The Komen Foundation thought they were going to defund Planned
Parenthood in the cone of silence, and what happens is that the internet
not only announced them for being insincere and outright lying but at the
same time, made sure that the President just recently stepped down. That
is what is going to happen this year. While 2008 was the year of internet
and money being infused by, you know, by individual donors, this you`ll
going to see is basically keeping them honest and you are going to see it
because twitter was at its nascent stages, now it has over 100 million and
Facebook is seven times more than it was in 2008. So, the social media,
where someone is looking at a Super PAC, takes that information, digests it
and basically starts spreading the truths among those ads among social
networks that is going to be the most powerful.

SHARPTON: Now, no surprise to you or I, Bob, the spokesman for Karl
Rove`s Super PAC had the audacity to say this was a cynical move. I mean,
they raised over 50 billion, the President raises four and they call this a
brazenly cynical move. Wow. But before we react to him, let me show you
the fact is that President Obama`s campaign still brings in way, way more
small donors than Romney. If you look at donations at $200 or less, 60
percent of campaign donations, or 58.5 million, 60 percent again of
President Obama`s money comes from small donors $200 or left, only nine
percent of small donors, 200 dollars or less go to Willard. So clearly,
even though they don`t want to have two sets of rules, it is clear an
overwhelming majority of their money is coming from the people.

FRANKEN: Well, first of all, as far as Romney is concerned, he
doesn`t need the small donors when he has his hedge fund buddies to sort of
sustain his campaign. As for that Karl Rove statement on behalf of Karl
Rove, I wonder if they know the word chutzpah. I mean, that is pretty
brazen. But that is the way that it is played. You and I talked about
this before, about the Casablanca response, which is I`m shocked, shocked.

SHARPTON: Now, yes, we did, I remember that conversation. Let me go
back to you a minute, Maria. The fact of the campaign monies, the Super
PAC monies, the Super PAC monies I should say, is spent on negative ads,
and one thing we can see from the republican primary caucus process,
negative ads can be affected. If you look at the fact, 96 percent of what
the groups have spent to date has been on attack ads. That`s about 18
million dollars. So, and I`m talking just Willard`s Super PAC, 96 percent.
So, I mean, to not be able to answer this when you can see how they just
took Newt out with negative ads, did they really just think the President
was supposed to just stand there and let them just come after him with all
of this money and he not be able to have at least an even playing field for
his re-election?

KUMAR: I think they wish it had, they definitely weren`t holding
their breath. I think the bigger picture though is again, the facts that
the folks said, who are the primary voters in the Republican Party? For
the most part, they are older voters who are constantly inundated by
watching television. They haven`t even started looking at who are the
other voters they are going about to jump in, African-American, Latino and
youth are very much very active online and they are the ones that are
going to be dispelling these dis-truths.

So, again, I would caution the candidates on going after harshly and
basically saying, look, at the end of the day you can go ahead and do a
negative ad. But one, you can turn off voting base because they are not
going to -- the independent voters are not going to be interested, what you
are going to do is you`re going to have a polarizing, either extreme
liberal or extreme republican coming out on November 6th, or you`re also
going to basically say, you have to keep them honest because at the end of
the day, the negative ads aren`t going to work and the internet is going to
be the one that is going to dispel those truths.

SHARPTON: Well, the internet, we`ll going to have to get a lot of
young people online in line.

KUMAR: That`s right.

SHARPTON: Bob Franken and Maria Theresa Kumar, thanks for joining me

FRANKEN: Al, thank you.

KUMAR: Thank you, Al.

SHARPTON: Ahead, the improving economy is bad news for Republicans.
Now some very prominent Democrats are saying, what we are all thinking?

And some big news on voting rights from the republican who thought he
saw zombies at the polls. Really? That`s next.


SHARPTON: The republican effort to suppress the voters is in full
swing. How can we stop it? That`s next.


SHARPTON: Republicans are ramping up their efforts to stop voters
from going to the polls. Today, South Carolina filed a lawsuit against the
federal government for blocking the state`s voter ID law. Republican
Attorney General Alan Wilson claimed the law, quote, "Will not
disenfranchise any potential South Carolina voter." What about the 240,000
voters without photo IDs and what about the fact that Associated Press
found this law would disproportionately affect voters in black districts?
I guess the attorney general isn`t afraid of denying people the right to
vote but he is afraid of one thing, zombies. Wilson thinks zombies are
running to the polls. He says nearly 1,000 dead people voted in the recent
elections. That`s scary. But it`s not true.

The South Carolina Election Commission looked into it and they got the
names of six supposedly dead voters, five of them were alive, and the sixth
one had died after casting an absentee ballot. No fraud case and no
zombies to be found. These efforts to suppress voters not going away.
Today, I announced plans for a march against voting suppression to take
place next month from March 4th through the 9th. We will retrace the route
of the historic 1965 voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery. That
March in `65 brought international attention to the struggle for civil
rights. At the end of the march, Dr. King said those famous words about
how long the fight would take.


Because all of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.


SHARPTON: That march pushed Congress to pass the voting rights act of
1965, the same act that South Carolina`s fighting against today. We are
marching, now, to make sure that work is not undone and not one vote is


SHARPTON: Clint Eastwood is hitting back against Republicans who
ripped his Super Bowl ad for being political. Eastwood said, quote, "There
is no spin in that ad. I`m certainly not politically affiliated with Mr.
Obama. It was meant to be a message about job growth and the spirit of
America. I think all politicians will agree with it. He`s right. When
did optimism and faith in America become a partisan issue? Once upon a
time, Republicans liked to talk about how the best days were ahead of us.
Remember this Ronald Reagan ad?


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It`s morning again in America and under the
leadership of President Reagan, our country is prouder and stronger and


SHARPTON: So, what`s happened since then? Obama campaign adviser
David Axelrod was wondering the same thing on "Morning Joe" today.


DAVID AXELROD, OBAMA CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I knew nothing about the ad
until I saw it honestly, I don`t understand why every American doesn`t feel
good about the fact that the American auto industry is coming back.


SHARPTON: Joining me now is Bill Press, syndicated radio host and
author of "The Obama Hate Machine: The Lies, Distortions, and Personal
Attacks on the President and Who Is Behind Them." Bill, thanks for being

BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Reverend Al, good to see you.

SHARPTON: Now, Republicans are constantly wrapping themselves in the
mantle of Ronald Reagan but they seem all doom and gloom. What happened?

PRESS: You know, this is unbelievable. I mean, I saw that ad, too
and I felt good about it. I felt -- that was an inspiring ad about what
America is all about. All right. Two things, number one, Clint Eastwood
is a republican. I know the man. He is one of the few Republicans in
Hollywood and people complained all the time. They always said, well, you
have got Clint Eastwood, right? But the other thing is Karl Rove said he
found this appalling, right? Outrageous. Does he remember, the auto
bailout was started not by President Obama, it was started by George Bush
when Karl Rove was in the White House. So talk about hypocrisy. But you
know what? It is, Reverend Al, they don`t want Detroit to succeed because
Detroit succeeds, America succeeds and President Obama succeeds.

SHARPTON: Well, let me show you this. Not only did Karl Rove say, it
was appalling, Rush Limbaugh even had the audacity to suggest that Clint
Eastwood, nobody`s fool, was scammed. Look at this. Listen to this.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I think Eastwood got scammed. I
think he got scammed, roped into doing something he thought was patriotic
and ended up being played.


SHARPTON: I mean, it was patriotic.

PRESS: Look, Clint Eastwood ain`t nobody`s fool, OK? And I think
Rush had better, he`s better be careful messing with dirty Harry here, you
know? But again, it represents the best of America, that when we are down,
we don`t stay down, we get up and we fight again another day and we come
back stronger than ever. And you know, when Clint Eastwood said and the
world is going to hear our engines roaring, you know, you want to applaud.
And if you believe in America, you want to applaud. I think these
Republicans, you know the reason they don`t like that ad? Because it shows
that they want America to fail and Mitt Romney was against the bailout and
he is on the wrong side of this issue.

SHARPTON: Now, Senator Durbin said today that Republicans really are
rooting against the recovery. The unemployment rate is going down. People
are getting back to work. There are some Republicans that don`t think that
really works with their strategy of defeating President Obama. I mean,
have we become so cynical in politics that we don`t care if families can`t
make it, as long as our candidate loses or wins based on whatever party
you`re in?

PRESS: I think that`s where the Republicans are today. Let`s go back
to Rush Limbaugh, before President Obama was even sworn into office, I want
him to fail.


PRESS: Rush Limbaugh said. Mitch McConnell, day one, our number one
goal is to deny Obama a second term. They have voted against everything
President Obama is for because they don`t want him to succeed in any way.
I really do believe, it is worse than wanting President Obama to fail, they
want America to fail because if America fails, President Obama fails.
That`s where it is.

SHARPTON: I think you`re right. I think it`s a sad day when we
become so cynical that even when you are dealing with the lives of people
whether it is Komen on breast cancer screenings, whether it is recovery of
families in Detroit, it is all weighed by, I want President Obama to lose
or I want my guy to win.

PRESS: What`s not to celebrate? Detroit is back. Leading the world
and producing better cars, and our factories are open and people are
getting back to work. God Bless America.

SHARPTON: I have got to let it go there I never was an Eastwood fan,
but I went and bought a pack of his DVDs, I got to get home and watch them.
Bill Press, author of "The Obama Hate Machine." Thank you for joining us

And thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right


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