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PoliticsNation, Friday, February 17, 2012

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Guests: E.J. Dionne; Melissa Harris-Perry, Kirsten Gillibrand, Bob Franken, Karen Finney, Judith Brown-Dianis

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

Tonight`s lead, outrage. There`s growing anger from women and men at
the right wing`s attack on women`s rights. All ignited by one sided
hearing that featured no one speaking on behalf of women, and a careless
joke by Rick Santorum`s billionaire supporter. Throughout the day today,
women senators took to the floor of the Senate to demand their voices be
heard.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: Ninety nine percent of all of
America`s women have used contraception at some time in their lifetime.
When will they get this simple non-debatable fact?

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: A Republican house of
representative that is so hostile to women`s health that they didn`t even
think about having a person on there who was a female.

SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D), WASHINGTON: One of the chief financial backers
for Rick Santorum suggested that contraception was once as simple as a
woman putting aspirin between her knees. Really? Shocking. Appalling.
An insult.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Senator Murray is right. Foster Friess is the Rick
Santorum supporter whose comment has now been seen by millions. And it`s
appalling each time you hear it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER FRIESS, SANTORUM`S DONOR: And this contraceptive thing, my
God, it`s so - it`s such an expensive. Back in my days, they used Bayer
aspirin for contraception. The gals put it between their knees and it
wasn`t that costly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now Friess has since apologized for his, quote, "joke," as
he should have. But it forced Rick Santorum, the man leading the charge
against birth control to respond.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (r), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When you quote a supporter
of mine who tells a bad off-color joke and somehow I`m responsible for
that, that`s gotcha.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Mr. Santorum can accuse the media of asking gotcha
questions. But why did he defend himself by saying this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM: This is what you guys do. I mean, you don`t do this with
President Obama. In fact, with President Obama, what you did was you went
out and defended him against someone who he sat in a church for, for 20
years and defended him that, he can`t possibly believe what he listened to
for 20 years. That was a double standard. This is what you are pulling
off, and I am going to call you on it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: No, Mr. Santorum, I`m going to call you on it. This isn`t
a double standard. Friess was saying what you all think. This
contraception battle isn`t about religion. It`s about women`s rights.
It`s about one party arguing that by allowing access to contraception, our
president is somehow a dictator.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KARL ROVE, FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: This
sounds like some third world country governed by colonels and issuing
dictates that I the supreme leader dictate that somebody will be provided
free when we know the cost of that is going to have to be borne by
everybody else in society who is not getting the free good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Our president is dictating? Well, Karl Rove, what you make
of a GOP party that thinks it`s OK to undermine women`s rights without
fairly representing women? I call that unfair. And it`s got to stop.

Joining me now is Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, democrat from New York.

Senator. Thank you for coming on the show tonight.

GILLIBRAND: Hi, reverend. How are you?

SHARPTON: Good. Good. Let me ask you, what do you think -- what do
you make of Mr. Friess` comments and are they indicative of a larger
problem that the right has with women`s rights?

GILLIBRAND: Well, my concern all along has been that there`s been a
complete disregard of women`s rights and women`s health care. And this
debate in Washington and particularly coming out of the house Republicans
is outrageous. To now having a debate about whether or not bosses should
decide what medicines an employee is eligible for is outrageous.

SHARPTON: And I think that what also kind of heightened a lot of
outrage this week is when congressman Issa has a hearing, women are mostly
not heard from. One student Sandra Fluke, he decided a Georgetown student,
and not appropriate. So we`re going to have mostly men, two women later
who, obviously, have already taken the other side. Not even having a real
open dialogue in a congressional hearing with the people that are directly
involved, women.

GILLIBRAND: Again, it`s a blatant disregard for women`s voices. And
what we want to see, reverend is we want women`s voices to be heard all
across America. And I think that when they fully see what`s coming out of
this Republican leadership, they will see that their voices are not being
listened to. Their priorities are not being considered and that, in fact,
that there`s been a complete disregard of their health and well-being.

SHARPTON: Now, one of the things that are striking to me, senator, is
that when they get to the argument of contraception, or birth control, 99
percent of all women, 98 percent of catholic women have used contraception.
They are talking about almost all of the women. How do you just disregard
women, period?

GILLIBRAND: You are making my point perfectly, actually. Yes, I
think the president really struck the right respectful balance. He
excluded over 300,000 institutions from the ruling. He made sure that
institutions that were larger serving the public, like universities and
hospitals that they can`t pick and choose which laws they are actually
going to apply and abide by. And again, back to this basic point. No boss
should decide what medicines his or her employees should be available to
take. It`s ludicrous.

And so, given the fact that 98 percent of catholic women, 99 percent
of women across America have used birth control at some point in their
lives, it is basic health care. It`s basic medicine.

SHARPTON: Now it`s not only the president`s decision, here the HHS
ruling, but the personhood of vote in various states, and the Congress
voting against funding Planned Parenthood. It seems just like if you look
at it big picture, that they dug in their heels to take on women`s rights
to make basic decisions on their own lives across the board.

GILLIBRAND: You know, that`s why, reverend, I think we need a call to
action. We need a call to action to America`s women to be heard. To make
sure their voices are being heard at the voting box. Making sure their
voices are heard through advocacy and getting more women to run for office
because at the end of the day, women`s voices aren`t being heard. We still
only 17 percent women in congress. We only have six governors. Even in
corporate America, we have 3 percent women on fortune 500 CEOs. We only
have about 16 percent of women on these fortune 500 boards.

And so, when you are talking about the decision-making fabric of America,
whether it`s politics or corporate America, women`s voices are largely not
heard on the level that, frankly, they should be. And at the end of the
day, reverend if we had 50 percent of women in congress, do you think we`d
be having a debate about basic rights to birth control? Do you think we`d
be having a debate about hr-3 which is to defund all of title 10 which is
prenatal care and cancer screenings? You wouldn`t be having it.

And so, I am hoping that we can have a Rosie the riveter moment for
our generation asking women that their voices are so important. And if you
remember in World War II, she was a call to action to ask women to enter
the workforce because we needed women in the war industries because men
were fighting.

SHARPTON: Right.

GILLIBRAND: Six million women entered the workforce because of that
campaign. So we need a campaign that six million women are going to come
out and vote their priorities, vote their values. Vote the things
important to them to hold these representatives accountable. A lot of
these representatives, reverend, got elected in 2010 because they were
talking about the economy. Do you think they spend much time talking about
the economy? No. They`ve talked -- they`ve been spending their time
taking away basic fundamental rights for women.

SHARPTON: Well, senator, let me ask you this quickly. The politics
of it, they don`t get it? They don`t understand what they are doing to
themselves politically when they have this front on women in this country?

GILLIBRAND: I don`t know reverend. I don`t know if they don`t get it
or they don`t care. But it is a blatant disregard for the health and well-
being of America`s women. And I believe that if women are hurt on this
issue, and are really focused on holding their congressional members
accountable for that blatant disregard; we will have a landslide change in
congress.

And I think the president reached the exact right result. I think he
was very respectful in his approach and balance. And I think as women are
watching this debate, reverend, I think when they are heard on this issue
it will be very clear that our president and certainly the democratic women
in the Senate and our democratic allies in the Senate are standing with
America`s women.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Thanks for coming on the show tonight.

GILLIBRAND: Thanks, reverend.

SHARPTON: Ahead, more on the GOP war on birth control and some new
signs that this issue is a huge loser for them.

Plus, Darrell Issa`s bogus hearing just got worse. Now he`s comparing
the attack on birth control to Dr. Martin Luther King`s fight for civil
rights.

And President Obama is celebrating a major anniversary today by
touting jobs. He`s fired up and ready to go.

You`re watching "Politics Nation." on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: This week, we mourn the death of music legend Whitney
Houston. Tomorrow`s her funeral when we`ll celebrate her life and her
legacy. The service will be private. But it will be streamed online
giving Houston`s fans a chance to say good-bye.

The funeral will be at new hope Baptist church in Newark, New Jersey,
where Whitney sang as a child in the choir, in the church choir. Aretha
Franklin and Stevie Wonder will sing at the service. Celebrities including
Tyler Perry, Alicia Keys, Dionne Warwick and all of us that worked with her
will attend tomorrow. We`ll remember all of the lives Whitney`s voice
touched and our thoughts will be with her family. MSNBC will have full
coverage beginning at 11:00 a.m.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back with a question. How on earth did birth control
become a controversial issue in 2012? And it appears others are thinking
the same thing. Take a look at this poll on unmarried women.

Last month, President Obama had a 26-point advantage over Romney. Now
he`s up by 35 points. That`s a nine-point swing in just the last month.
So what`s happened in the last month? The GOP`s nonstop war against
women`s rights, that`s one. For weeks, they are accusing the president of
waging a war on religion and threatening to reverse the law requiring
employers to provide it for free, even though 77 percent of Americans agree
that birth control should be covered by insurance. Well, 99 percent of
American women use birth control. Do you`d think they`d reverse cause?
But instead, they`re going even more extreme, pushing radical personhood
laws in 13 states just this year. These laws define that life begins at
conception banning all abortions, including those resulting from rape or
incest and bans all hormonal birth control.

Just in the last week, it`s come up in Virginia, Oklahoma and in
Mississippi and is not just extreme in these states. All four candidates
support it. Think about that for a second. All four agree with this. Can
you oppose something this popular and still get elected?

Well, joining me now is Melissa Harris-Perry, soon to be host of
MSNBC`s "Melissa Harris-Perry." debuting tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m.
She`s also professor of political science at Tulane.

And also joining me is E.J. Dionne, columnist for "the Washington
Post" and MSNBC contributor. Melissa and E.J., thanks for joining me
tonight.

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST, MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: Absolutely.

E.J. DIONNE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Happy President`s Day.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right.

SHARPTON: Now, do Republicans really think that this war on birth
control is politically smart, E.J.?

DIONNE: Well, I don`t know if they think it`s politically smart. I
think it`s basically about a war on the affordable care act. And an effort
to make an argument that big, bad government can do anything it wants. I
just have to go back to that clip you showed from Rick Santorum at the
beginning of this show which really bothered me because he said the press
didn`t make anything of Jeremiah Wright. My word, the press broke the
Jeremiah Wright story. That went on and on.

SHARPTON: And stayed with the story.

DIONNE: I`m sorry?

SHARPTON: And stayed on the story for a long time.

DIONNE: Correct. Correct. Then senator Obama had to give a big
speech which was very successful to put that story to bed. Now Santorum
might help himself with a Republican base which loves press bashing. He`s
learning that from Newt but that just wasn`t true.

But on this issue as I say, I think it`s about attacking the
affordable care act. And I think president Obama, by making an
accommodation to the religious institutions. I don`t think we`d be here if
he hadn`t made that accommodation.

Now that he has, I think he has sort of grabbed the high ground. The
last quick point, Republicans should be sued for political malpractice at
that hearing. There are plenty of conservative women who agreed with them.
Why didn`t they put a woman on that opening panel? They played right into
the hands of their critics.

SHARPTON: Political malpractice. Well, Melissa, let me just show you
what Santorum said on CBS morning that E.J. is referring to.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM: When you quote a supporter of mine who tells a bad off-
color joke and somehow I`m responsible for that, that`s gotcha. This is
what you guys do. I mean, you don`t do this with president Obama. In
fact, with president Obama, what you did was you went out and defended him
against someone who he sat in a church for, for 20 years and defended him
that, oh, he can`t possibly believe what he listened to for 20 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was --

SANTORUM: It`s a double standard. This is what you are pulling off
and I`m going to call you on it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Well, but before you respond, let`s look at the montage of
stuff that Santorum has said about the birth control over the years because
I think what he`s ducking here is that this supporter, who is a huge
financial supporter of him, was in line with his own statements. Let`s
watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM: Many in the Christian faith have said, well, that`s OK.
Contraception is OK. It`s not OK. It`s a license to do things of a sexual
-- in the sexual realm.

SANTORUM: I`m not a believer in birth control. I think it`s harmful
to women. I think it`s harmful to our society.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whether or not a state has a right to make a law
against a married couple using contraceptives, it that something you are
all concerned about?

SANTORUM: The state has a right to do that. I`ve never questioned a
state has a right to do that. It`s not a constitutional right. The state
has the law, has the try to pass whatever statutes they have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So when his billionaire supporter joked about women and his
day would put an aspirin between their knees, he is bellying the whole
concept of contraception which the candidate has consistently opposed.
Unlike the controversy with reverend Wright where what reverend Wright was
saying, whether one agrees or not was incongruous with what president Obama
was representing.

HARRIS-PERRY: Exactly. I mean, that`s precisely the point. First of
all, I missed the big media rally to support reverend Wright. Like, I
don`t know. I must have been on vacation when that happened. So that did
not --

SHARPTON: For about two whole months.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So, that has not happened. So, I think the
other thing we can say here is at this moment, candidate Santorum is simply
telling things that are not true. So for example in the sound we just
listened to he said contraceptive is not effective. It doesn`t work.

SHARPTON: Right.

HARRIS-PERRY: Excuse me. That is an opinion. That`s an empirical
fact. Contraception is extremely capable of doing precisely what it needs
to do. And that`s part of they want to remove it because it does work.

And then the second thing is when he says that a state has a right to
do whatever it wants around a married couples and contraception there is no
constitutional right. Excuse me. There is case law that determines a
right to privacy. It`s case law that is more than 100 years old in this
country. We do have a right to privacy. It has been determined by our
Supreme Court. So it would be unconstitutional.

SHARPTON: But you forgot we`re back in the states rights. You must
have been on vacation then, too.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right.

SHARPTON: E.J., let me ask you the politics of this. Can a candidate
really think they can be elected opposing contraception and birth control
in 2012 America?

DIONNE: Well, maybe if unemployment hit 20 percent or something like
that. I mean, I think it`s just -- first of all, I suppose I give Santorum
credit for having the guts to take an unbelievably unpopular position and
sticking with it.

But it`s just -- this has not been an issue on ballots in elections
for years and years and years. Really since the Griswold V. Connecticut
decision I guess in the late `40s or early `50s, late `40s I think. And
so, the answer is no.

And all I can think of about what the Republicans are doing generally
is what I said about the affordable care act is that they are trying to
sort of go from this to say that there were all kinds of powers we`re
giving the federal government through the affordable care act and you don`t
want to do that. And a lot of their language is designed to undercut other
regulatory parts of that. But I think if you are against contraception,
it`s not a political winner anymore.

SHARPTON: One thing, Melissa, I have to bring to you before we run
out of time. Darrell Issa said today. He referenced Martin Luther King in
a tweet and he -- quote. This is Issa quoting. "We heard from religious
leaders whose positions might not be popular like MLK`s position was not so
long ago. And including a photo of King with a quote, that comes a time
when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic or popular,
but because our conscience is telling us one it is right."

Now, I had to go back into my king upbringing because Martin Luther
King it turns out said this about birth control in government. Quote, "I
have often publicly and privately advocated the wider use of birth control
methods in order to reduce the illegitimacy rates and the consequences. It
is my hope that state governments will begin to appropriate large sums to
educate people in the need of such devices."

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. I`m going to say this as clearly as I can so
Republicans listening can hear it. They can have the catholic bishops, if
they want to make a moral ethical religious argument, they may take the
catholic bishops with them. They are not allowed to have Martin Luther
King Jr. Full stop. Full stop.

DIONNE: Can I just say something?

HARRIS-PERRY: They`re not allowed to have him. And let`s be really
clear. The reason this is all happening is all president Obama`s fault.
Let me explain why it`s president Obama`s fault. He`s a strong incumbent.
They are concerned that they cannot win so they have people running who are
not strong folks. And secondly, the policies are actually making a dent in
the economy and so because they now cannot run on jobs, they are now
running on birth control.

SHARPTON: Well, I think you`re right. And I think I`m glad you are
starting in the morning because you`ve been on vacation because you missed
-- he`s a third world dictator with shades. Who would have believed it?

Melissa Harris-Perry and E.J. Dionne, thanks for joining me. And
Melissa, we`re all excited.

DIONNE: Good luck.

SHARPTON: We`re really thrilled for your debut, your new show it
premieres tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. here on MSNBC.

HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you. Thank you, E.J.
SHARPTON: Still ahead, while Republicans are talking about birth control,
president Obama is talking about jobs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARAK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can restore an
economy where everybody gets a fair shot and everybody does their fair
share and everybody plays by the same set of rules from Washington to wall
street to main street. Everybody is doing their part.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Plus, you thought you heard it all. Now Republicans are
blaming spam. Yes, spam for a voting mess in Maine. It reveals the truth
about the GOP effort to suppress the vote. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back with good news on our "here are the jobs"
series.

Since we began our series two months ago, the response has been
overwhelming. And tonight, we`ve got exciting updates. Our series kicked
off with 885 jobs at service master. So far, 470 people have been hired.
And 415 jobs are still available with thousands more coming. Service
master expects to hire 6,700 people by June of this year.

We also told you about Agero`s 500 job openings. We`re happy to
report that 2800 candidates have now applied. Then, there`s the 100 TV
assembly jobs at element electronics. They are reporting a surge of
interest in hiring begins next month.

And finally, we featured 980 jobs at Phillips USA. Today we`re happy
to report 115 people have been hired. Hundreds more positions are
available. This is great news. We`ve already highlighted 5315 jobs. Our
momentum is growing and we`re stepping up the hunt for jobs. And leads to
even more jobs.

For more on these companies and our series, check out our Web site,
politicsnation.msnbc.com and click on "Here are the jobs." Things are
moving in the right direction. And we won`t stop fighting to get you back
to work.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. While Republicans are
refighting the culture wars, President Obama is fighting for jobs. Today
he took his message to a Boeing factory just outside of Seattle.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: The tide is beginning to turn
our way. Over the last 23 months, businesses have created 3.7 million new
jobs, and American manufacturers are hiring for the first time since 1990,
and the American auto industry is back. And our economy is getting
stronger. And that`s why we can look towards a promising future. And
above all, we`ve got to renew the values that have always made this country
great. Hard work, fair play, shared responsibility. These are not
democratic values or republican values. These are American values.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Yes, the economic tide is turning, and we know when it
started to turn. Three years ago today, President Obama signed the
stimulus into law investing $787 billion into growth and recovery. At the
time, the economy was in free-fall. This chart shows jobless claims in the
weeks and months leading up to the stimulus. We were about to fall off the
cliff. Since then, it`s been a whole different story with jobless claims
steadily falling. Our economy is growing. The unemployment rate is
getting better. And today, the President won a big victory in Congress
with lawmakers voting to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment
benefits. Despite all of this, Republicans are still in denial. Just
listen to Mitt Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: His $787 billion stimulus
bill of government`s spending, that did not trickle down to the private
sector creating jobs.

Your stimulus did not work, Mr. Obama. That stimulus did not create
private sector jobs like it should have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now is Bob Franken, the Kings featured
syndicated columnist and Karen Finney, an MSNBC political analyst and
columnist for "The Hill." Bob, let me start with you. With the economy
improving, don`t Republicans need to shift their rhetoric or risk losing
credibility with voters all together?

BOB FRANKEN, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, they have. They`ve shifted
it to contraception. But what they do, every time they come on against the
stimulus and forget an awful lot of important facts like how it stopped the
bottom from falling out, what they are doing is that they are raising what
I like to call the red menace scare. That is to say some sort of socialism
that saved these companies because of government involvement and you know
how we hate government involvement. When he says that this did not trickle
down to the private sector and jobs, he`s half right. It did trickle down
to the private sector. That is to say, the people at the very top of the
private sector. But they kept the money as opposed to creating the jobs
that they were supposed to. That was supposed to be part of the bargain.

SHARPTON: Now, Karen, let me show you this, which is interesting when
Bob talks about it going down to the people and helping people because
Republicans have done a whole thing about handouts and people getting
government assistance. You know, Paul Krugman wrote this morning in "The
Times" that the regions in which government programs account for the
largest share of personal income are precisely the regions electing those
severe conservatives. Play on the words of Mitt Romney. He`s a severe
conservative. Let me show you this graph, Karen. Of the ten most
conservative states, 21.2 percent of those people in those states get some
form of government assistance. While in liberal states, it`s only 17.1
percent. So in the most conservative parts of this country, they are
actually getting more support from government programs than in the most
liberal parts of the country.

KAREN FINNEY, COLUMNIST, "THE HILL": Well, that`s right. But there`s
another part of this game that they`re trying to play, Rev. I mean, the
truth is that while so many of these republican members of Congress on the
national stage have bashed the President and bashed government on
everything they can to undermine Americans` confidence in government, at
home, they are perfectly happy to show up for those ribbon cuttings for
those facilities that got stimulus money or they are perfectly happy to put
out press releases to try to get some credit for the stimulus money. So,
you know, they are trying to have it both ways. And as you just laid out
and the President laid out, I mean, the facts bear out a very different
case. Here`s another one I`ll throw at you. In March of 2008, George Bush
actually did a press conference where he went out and said because of my
administration and some things we`ve got in the pocket, it`s all going to
be OK by the summer. We know that turned out to not be the case.

SHARPTON: He didn`t say which summer.

FINNEY: Well, maybe that`s it. Maybe we`re just waiting for some
other summer.

SHARPTON: Bob, let me ask you this. What Karen was saying about and
we were discussing about those states and conservatives states getting a
lot of government support. I found another interesting graph that showed
maybe some of the reason that happens. In terms of why these states vote
conservative and they get more than liberal states. When you go through
the percentage of government aid recipients who said that they do not use a
government program, 44 percent have used Social Security, 43 percent
unemployment benefits. Forty percent Medicare. What occurs to me looking
at this graph, I don`t think these people are intentionally lying. I think
people don`t understand that these are government programs and these are
what the Republicans and the conservatives are attacking. They`ve put this
picture of what government programs are and acted like they`re not talking
about them. They`re talking about them.

FRANKEN: Well, it`s sort of the opposite of that old saying,
ignorance is bliss. In this particular case, it`s ignorance is anger. And
they`re not talking about the benefits that they receive. They`re talking
about whatever hard feelings they have against those who receive benefits
in their mind who are the shiftless ones. And I realize that is a very
loaded word but I`m using it intentionally.

SHARPTON: That`s right.

FRANKEN: You know what I mean by that and I think that that is at the
heart of what the -- what this contradiction is about.

SHARPTON: Well, that, Karen, is why they try to paint the picture of
the welfare queen and the food stamp president because they`re trying to
say to conservative Middle America, we`re not talking about you, but they
are because if their policy goes through it cuts the things that they are
getting aid for.

FINNEY: But that`s why we have to listen at the language that they
are using, Rev. I wrote about this several weeks ago in "The Hill" and Bob
is exactly right. The -- studies have shown that most people believe that
when you talk about welfare queens or welfare programs or these kinds of
government programs, they are thinking of that as poor African-Americans.
They don`t think of that as white Americans. And studies have also shown
that people tend to think that white Americans on these programs are
somehow more deserving. So, I think their language is this sort of dog
whistle politics that we`ve been seeing all along that tries to send the
message that it`s OK for you guys because you know, you`re not those
people.

SHARPTON: Now, Bob, despite all that, if you go to FOX News, FOX News
poll has President Obama winning in ten swing states right now. And they
broke it in three regions. In the Rust Belt tier, President Obama, 42 to
41. Rocky Mountain tier, 47 to 40. Dixie Belt tier, 51 to 37. So, while
they`ve tried to switch to the moral culture wars, moral values wars, the
fact that the President stayed on the economy seems to be resonating around
very important critical states.

FRANKEN: Well, I don`t know why you would cite FOX News. I mean, you
know how pro-Obama FOX News is. So this is obviously suspect. And
speaking of FOX News, you have Sarah Palin going on the air and saying
these that latest employment figures are being distorted by the media.

SHARPTON: Right.

FRANKEN: And it reminds me of that old lawyers dictum about if you
can`t argue the law, argue the facts. And if you can`t argue the facts,
attack the plaintiff. In the case of people like Sarah Palin if you can`t
argue the facts, attack the media.

SHARPTON: Well now, and Karen, the fact is that as they argued these
culture wars, they are really not coming up with an economic plan. I think
they were so bent on the economy would be bad, they could just beat up on
the president that now that the economy is heading in the right direction,
they have no plan to say, this is what I would do better.

FINNEY: Well, that`s exactly right, Reverend. And what`s worse, you
know, Rick Santorum in his book attacked the idea of women who work outside
of the home as being, you know, somehow selfish. He tried to throw his
wife under the bus on that but he wrote that piece and he campaigned on it.
But here`s the thing. Over the last several years, it is the woman`s
income that has actually helped to keep some families in the middle class
and it is in some instances, it`s the woman`s income that`s been the only
income that these families have had. So, not only are they totally out of
touch with how they are fighting these culture wars on like contraception,
for God`s sakes of all things. But they`re also now attacking working
women? I mean, that`s just -- they are living in a parallel universe.

SHARPTON: Bob, there are culture wars in their mind but it`s really
an anti-women`s right move that they are making as perceived by many.

FRANKEN: Well, you know, it`s interesting how some of the Republicans
can resonate when they talk about Barack Obama waging a war against
religion. I think it`s fair to say and there`s nothing particularly
profound about this, many of them are waging a war against women. The
problem is of course that women and they probably regret this, too, women
were given the right to vote some time back.

FINNEY: And we will remember.

SHARPTON: I`m going to have -- stay right there. Karen, have the
last word because this is a pro-women`s rights program. Bob Franken and
Karen Finney, thank you and have a great weekend to both of you.

Up next -- how the election mess in Maine reveals the real GOP
priorities. They don`t care anything about voting integrity. They care
about voter suppression.

Plus, a slam dunk success story. How Jeremy Lin is inspiring and
uniting America.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We learned today that "New York Times" foreign
correspondent Anthony Shadid died of an apparent asthma attack while
covering the uprising in Syria. It`s a devastating loss for his family,
for journalism and for anyone wanting to be more informed about our world.
Mr. Shadid, who was just 43, won two Pulitzer Prizes and wrote three books.
For nearly 20 years, Mr. Shadid, a Lebanese American, brought stories of
the Middle East, its complex politics and especially its people back home
to Americans. His reporting always enriched our understanding of the
Middle East. And he will be greatly missed. Mr. Shadid leaves behind a
wife and two children. His parents and two siblings. Our thoughts and
prayers go out to all of them.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Oh, I`m sorry. I didn`t realize we were back already.
I`ve been going through my spam folder to make sure I haven`t missed any
important e-mails. I learned that lesson from the Republicans. Charlie
Webster, chairman of the Maine GOP is now blaming a spam folder for caucus
night debacle that could take the state away from Willard Mitt Romney.
Politico reports today, quote, "The state party has numerous clerical
errors. Even omitting some votes because e-mail reporting tallies went to
spam in an e-mail account." Spam? You may have named the wrong winner
because of spam folders? This is a total mess.

But it`s just par for the course in the GOP presidential race for a
party that just loves to talk about voter fraud. In Iowa, a recount
revealed that Rick Santorum actually won the caucus, not Willard as
originally thought. And in Nevada, it took two extra days to get the final
results amid charges of fraud and conspiracies. Republicans can`t get
their own house in order, but they still think they have the right to force
voter ID laws on the rest of us. Clearly these laws are about voter
suppression, not voter integrity.

Joining me now, Judith Brown-Dianis, co-director of the Advancement
Project, a civil rights group focused on issues of democracy and race.
Thank you for joining me tonight, Judith.

JUDITH BROWN-DIANIS, CO-DIRECTOR, ADVANCEMENT PROJECT: Thank you for
having me, Reverend Sharpton.

SHARPTON: If Republicans can`t get voting in their own elections
straight, why should anyone listen to their views about voter ID laws?

DIANIS: I mean, this shows, you know, a lot of hypocrisy on their
part and really what they are doing is that they talk about they want
election integrity, and they talk about how they don`t want voter fraud.
But in fact, they are ready to suppress the vote of even their own party
members by not counting their votes, by saying they fell into a spam
folder. But, really, and what is at the heart of this is that they have
decided who should participate and whose vote should be counted. This
isn`t the first time we saw it. We saw it in 2000, right?

SHARPTON: Right.

DIANIS: Let`s not count all the votes. So we need to understand at
the heart of what is happening with voter ID is about who gets to vote, who
doesn`t get to vote and whose votes at the end of the day should be
counted.

SHARPTON: Now, Judith, and what is interesting is these voter ID laws
that you have been dealing with that we`re getting ready to march on have
nothing to do with the things that we`re talking about here and don`t solve
any of the problems they have themselves. For example, caucuses will take
place in three counties in Maine tomorrow according to the Boston Globe.
Washington county where bad weather closed the polls. Hancock County where
they planned over a year to have staggered caucuses and one in Kennebunk
County. But let me let you hear what Charlie Webster had to say about
tomorrow`s caucuses shouldn`t count.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLIE WEBSTER, MAINE GOP CHAIRMAN: Caucuses, do we want to you
know, add that number to the total? I mean, at this point, what difference
does it make what the total is?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Can you imagine the state chairman of a party having a state caucus
saying, what difference does the total mean? The difference is who won the
caucus?

DIANIS: I mean, this is the real voter fraud, right? It`s like let`s
not count every vote. This is no different from what the Governor
Ehrlich`s campaign person did in Maryland when he called -- they did a
robocall to tell people, stay home because O`Malley already won when in
fact he hadn`t. It`s about suppressing the vote.

SHARPTON: Right.

DIANIS: And it seems like they just decided, we know who won so we
don`t need to count your votes any longer. That`s voter fraud.

SHARPTON: Now, you must also remember, Judith, Webster, the state
chairman in Maine that just said the total doesn`t matter, he`s also the
one that tried to disenfranchise college students from voting. Listen to
this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WEBSTER: Today, I will be hand delivering the names of 206 -- 206
individuals that have committed, I believe, have been committed voter fraud
here in Maine. Several of these out of state students -- sometimes at
home, sometimes in Maine. These actions are simply wrong and I believe,
illegal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now he wants to stereotype, broad-brush all of the college
students to disenfranchise them. Well, it`s interesting. They don`t want
an Iowa caucus and any of these other caucuses or primaries. They`re not
asking for voter ID for their primaries or caucuses. They are asking them
for the general. I wonder what`s the difference.

DIANIS: That`s right. Oh, we know what the difference is Reverend
Sharpton. It`s that 11 percent of Americans don`t have it. Twenty five
percent of African-Americans do not have state-issued photo identification.
In Wisconsin, 78 percent of African-American males between 18 and 24 don`t
have state-issued photo identification. So, you know, they know.

SHARPTON: So that`s the difference?

DIANIS: .who they`re targeting.

SHARPTON: Thank you, Judith. You have a great weekend.

DIANIS: Thank you.

SHARPTON: We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: We`ve been waiting for movements like this for decades.
Americans have hope again. And there`s real change in the air. It`s got
people from Wall Street to Maine Street looking for their own diamond in
the rock. It`s about looking past the surface beyond the stereotypes in
giving unlikely people a chance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Did you guys catch that? Put it up again. Get it? Lin
forward. Yep. We have the Linsanity right here at MSNBC. And so does the
entire country. Tonight, he goes for eight in a row. And the Linsanity is
hotter than ever. But this story of an Asian-American Harvard educated
point guard rising from nowhere in just two weeks is truly an only in
America story. His parents came to the states in the `70s with barely
anything. He was dismissed by everyone and was on the verge of being cut.
We all know President Obama is a fan. But he`s even managed to have both
sides agree on this one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Are you a fan of him?

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Oh, huge. Of course. What
an American story. It`s great.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It`s a great American story, correct?

PALIN: It`s uplifting, positive. It unifies our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I can`t believe I`m saying this, but Sarah Palin is right.
It is a great American story. The President talks about it all the time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: An America where everybody has a shot. That everybody if they
work hard if they take care of their responsibilities, they can get their
piece of the American dream.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That is what America is all about. And that is what the
story of Lin is all about. That is why some of us keep fighting, some of
us keep marching, protesting. Not to bring America down but to fulfill
America. So that everyone that`s determined, everyone that`s disciplined,
everyone that believes in themselves will have the same shot at the
American dream, not just those at the top but those all the way through the
American fabric.

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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