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PoliticsNation, Monday, February 20, 2012

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Guests: Richard Wolffe; Ed Rendell, Erin McPike; Michael Tate, Nia-Malika Henderson, Chip Saltsman,
Monica Alonzo

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

Tonight`s lead, Rick Santorum thinks he`s been getting away with
something. But tonight, we`re exposing who he really is and what he really
thinks. Santorum has become a serious threat to Mitt Romney. He`s leading
him in the Michigan primary, and he`s beating him by ten points nationally.
Santorum wants to be taken seriously which means we`re going to take him
seriously when he makes statements like this about the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is what the
president`s agenda -- it`s not about you. It`s about some phony ideal,
some phony theology. Not a theology based on the bible, a different
theology, but no less a theology.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: A different theology, a phony theology? What exactly do
you mean by that, Rick?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Do you believe he`s less of a Christian
than say, someone like you?

SANTORUM: I`m not suggesting that. I`m just saying he`s imposing his
values on the church. And I think that`s wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: But he says he`s a Christian. Are your
arguing with that?

SANTORUM: If the president says he`s a Christian, he`s a Christian.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: If he says he`s a Christian, really? The Santorum camp has
spent the last 48 hours trying to spin that comment. But they did help
their cause today when his press secretary accidentally talked about the
president`s Islamic policies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALICE STEWART, SANTORUM PRESS SECRETARY: He wasn`t questioning the
president`s character. He wasn`t questioning the president`s religion. He
was talking about radical environmentalists. He was talking about -- there
is a type of theological secularism when it comes to the global warmish in
this country. That`s what he was referring to. He`s referring to the
president`s policies in terms of the radical Islamic policies the president
has.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Santorum`s adviser said she meant to say environmental
policies, not Islamic policies. It was a mistake. But it`s harder to
believe Mr. Santorum made a mistake when he invoked Hitler while talking
about the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM: Your country needs you. It`s not as clear a challenge.
Obviously, World War II was pretty obvious. At some point, they knew. We
think, well, you know it will get better. Yes, he`s -- I mean, he`s a nice
guy. I mean, it won`t be near as bad as what we think. I mean, you know,
this will be OK. I mean, oh, yes, maybe he`s not the best guy after awhile
you found out some things about this guy over in Europe and he`s not so
good of a guy after all. But you know what? Why do we need to be
involved?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now is former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell,
an NBC news political analyst and former DNC chair. And Erin McPike,
reporter for "Real Clear Politics."

Thank you both for coming on the show.

Governor, let me start with you. Is Santorum doing so well in the GOP
race in spite of the rhetoric that he can get away with making such extreme
statements clearly comparing the president to Hitler? I mean, is he
getting away with this rhetoric because he`s doing so well or is he doing
so well because of this rhetoric?

ED RENDELL, NBC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: First of all, let me just
say, having been exposed to Rick Santorum in all those races in
Pennsylvania, even this surprises me. I mean, he`s gotten carried away.
He`s playing to this base. Can he get away with it in with the base? Yes,
with the face, he can get away with it. And in some instances it might
make the base support even stronger, as sick as that is.

But, there are still moderate Republicans out there. There are still
independents who, as you know rev, can vote in the Michigan primary. It`s
not a close primary. And I think there are women out there and we didn`t
even get into his position on the women`s issues. No prenatal health which
they`ve tried to -- no money for prenatal health which is a ridiculously
bad idea because all it does is run up the bill after a baby is born with
birth defects, but they`ve tried to walk that back.

But, all of these things if you are a woman, how can you consider
voting for Rick Santorum? If you are a Jew and you hear the reference to
Hitler, I mean, that`s nuts. I mean, I think he will pay the price in the
Michigan primary. And where it possible that he became the Republican
nominee, he will pay the price big time for this, absolutely big time.

SHARPTON: Now Erin, the governor mentioned his prenatal testing
position. Let me let you hear what Mr. Santorum said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM: One of the things you don`t know about Obama care and one
of the mandates is they require free prenatal testing. Why, because it
saves money in health care. Why? Because free prenatal testing ends up in
more abortions and, therefore, less care that has to be done because we
call the ranks of the disabled in our society.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Free natal testing causes more abortions, Erin? Hitler,
phony theology, prenatal care causes more abortions so you have women, you
have Christians, you have Jews with Hitler. I mean, this guy has no
boundaries, it seems.

ERIN MCPIKE, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Yes, well, you know, right now he
is playing the role of social conservative. And he is trying to appeal to
that base in Michigan and beyond. And really this delegate map and the way
that the delegates are apportioned skews to more conservative and more
southern states and he`s playing for that -- those voters right now.

SHARPTON: But is this a role or is this the real Rick Santorum?

MCPIKE: Yes. OK. So, here`s the other thing about all of these
comments, Al. For the longest time, the media has been kind of upset
because we`re not getting into more of Mitt Romney`s head and we don`t hear
enough about what he`s saying and what, you know, what he`s thinking. With
Rick Santorum, at least we are getting more into his head and know what the
guy is thinking. I think that`s important. We need to at least applaud
the fact that we`re -- he`s being very honest about what he thinks.

SHARPTON: Governor, when you look at the polls though, 67 percent
among the very conservatives like him. But among independents, as you
refer to independents, 35 percent. And even among moderates, only 26
percent. So he can win the battle of conservatives very far right
conservatives and still lose the war in terms of trying to defeat the
president if that is, in fact, his goal.

RENDELL: Sure. And one thing that`s important rev, is electability.
Santorum has been negating the fact that Romney is the most electable
candidate. But if you are someone who cares about electability and you
hear these bizarre comments, you say, we can`t put that guy up in the
general election. I think that will hurt him now.

And by the way, on prenatal care, we had a program early on, 20 years
ago called healthy start. It proved if you give a child prenatal care,
while the child is in the womb it will avoid $6 in post-birth defect
spending for Medicaid for every $1 you spend on prenatal care. So the
Obama administration is right. It saves money big time.

SHARPTON: And it is healthier for the child and the mother.

RENDELL: No question.

SHARPTON: So you save money and you preserve health, if this is not
all about politics.

But Erin, let me show you he`s not finished yet. Since Mr. Santorum,
you like to encourage me to get in his head. Listen to what he said about
income inequality which is probably the campaign issue of at least this
season.

He`s in Detroit. He praised income inequality. Let me show you the
quote. This is in Detroit. "There is income inequality and hopefully, and
I do say that, there always will be".

Now, he says this in a city where the poverty rate is above 37
percent, Median income of household of less than $29,000 a year. It`s also
a city with 90,000 abandoned or vacant homes.

In this environment, he praises income inequality and says I hope it
always will be. Is he tone deaf or is he trying to be confrontational to
play to an extreme far right that may applaud this kind of insensitivity?

MCPIKE: Well, I`m not sure what the goal was, Al, but I would tell
you that, that particular comment, in my mind, was more damaging than any
of the other comments he`s made recently for two reasons.

One, as far as Mitt Romney is concerned it undercuts Rick Santorum
because Mitt Romney had made the comment, as you remember, about not being
concerned about the very poor because they have a safety net. And this
comment by Santorum I think undercuts anything he can do in throwing that
back at Mitt Romney.

The other thing is being intellectually consistent as a conservative,
and he`s talking about essentially championing a merit-based society where
some people rise and some people fall.

SHARPTON: Right.

MCPIKE: But as you remember, he also made the comment about how, you
know, the blanket statement about how maybe women shouldn`t be serving in
combat roles. Well, again if you`re going to champion a merit-based
society if there some are able-bodied women who can -- who want to serve in
combat, than in a merit-based society, a true merit-based society, maybe
you should let those women serve. So, you know, I think in several ways
for Santorum, that was the most damaging comment he`s made.

SHARPTON: Well, governor, we still have -- it gets worse or better,
depending on your opinion. He says that he wanted to get rid of -- well,
let me let him speak for himself. This is his views on public education,
public schools.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM: The idea that the federal government should be running
schools, frankly, much less that the state government should be running
schools, is anachronistic. So we build equal factories called public
schools. And while those factories as we all know in Ohio and Pennsylvania
have fundamentally changed, the factory school has not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Governor, schools are factories? Governments shouldn`t be
involved with schools, with running schools? Then who is supposed to be
doing it and why is he running to be the head of government, if government
is not supposed to be doing anything?

RENDELL: It is stunning. He talked about home schooling. Home
schooling works if there`s a parent at home, but in today`s families, a lot
of parents are single parents or if they are two parents, they both work.
It`s impossible to home school. And public schools a but a lot of them
does a very fine job in educating people and a lot of tremendous people
came out of the public school system.

But you know this is like a smorgasbord, rev. You`re asking people to
determine, which are the statements that are going to damage Rick Santorum
the most? He`s made a whole myriad of them. But I think the one that is
the worst that we haven`t even talked about is when he said contraception
should be illegal.

SHARPTON: Yes.

RENDELL: Ninety eight percent of women in this country use
contraception and we have a guy running for president of the United States
who said it should be illegal. I hate to argue with Erin about which is
the most damaging statement, but if I`m a woman, boy, you`re going to have
to go long and hard to persuade me to vote for Rick Santorum.

SHARPTON: And what`s scary is as he said all of these things, he`s
going up in the polls, meaning there is an extreme right in that party that
supports that. That`s scary.

Governor Rendell, Erin McPike, thank you both for coming on the show
tonight.

RENDELL: Thanks Al.

MCPIKE: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, Scott Walker is fighting for his political life.
And now we know just how scared he is. The money bomb coming his way is
scary. And it needs to be dealt with.

Plus, a wild story developing in Arizona. This sheriff, a rising star
in the Republican Party, quits Romney`s campaign after explosive
allegations from his boyfriend.

And as the president fights for fairness, the Republican Party is
broken and looking for answers. You won`t believe how they are scrambling
today.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: President Obama`s getting stronger. Mitt Romney`s getting
weaker. And the Republicans are getting scared. It`s panic time in the
GOP. That`s ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOVERNOR SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: If we fail, I think this sets
aside any courageous act in American politics for at least a decade if not
a generation. That is why we must not fail.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Scott Walker is worried about failing. He`s fighting for
his political life and now we know just how scared he is.

A year ago, the people of Wisconsin vowed to fight back against
Walker`s radical anti-union agenda. Today he`s up for recall after what`s
considered the most successful petition drive in the history of the United
States. But this one has national consequences. Walker is the face, the
symbol of the war against workers. He`s tried to block the recall and now
his buddies are doing everything they can to save him.

Billionaire David Koch revealed the plan over the weekend saying,
quote, "we`re helping him as we should. We`ve gotten pretty good at this
over the years. We`ve spent a lot of money in Wisconsin. We`re going to
spend more."

This isn`t just any rich guy. This is the guy fueling anti-union
agendas, the guy fueling the tea party movement. A year ago, Walker was
franked by a guy pretending to be Koch but it revealed the relationship
they have.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, FAKE DAVID KOCH: Well, I`ll tell you what, Scott.
Once you crush these bastards I`ll fly you out to Cali and really show you
a good time.

WALKER: All right. That would be outstanding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, FAKE DAVID KOCH: Absolutely. And you know we have
a little bit of vested interest as well.

WALKER: Thanks a million.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He just might get that million from the Kochs. So he`s
going all in on this union bashing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALKER: The facts are clear fundamentally so. Collective bargaining
is not a right. Collective bargaining in the public sector --

(APPLAUSE)

WALKER: Collective bargaining is not a right. In the public sector,
collective bargaining is an expensive entitlement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Scott Walker is the tent pole holding up the war against
workers. We`ve seen the blowback in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Arizona.
It`s time to fight fire with fire.

Joining me now from Madison, Wisconsin, is Mike Tate, the Wisconsin
Democratic Party chair, and in Washington, MSNBC analyst Richard Wolffe.

Great to have both of you with us tonight.

MIKE TATE, CHAIRMAN, WISCONSIN DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Thanks, reverend.

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC ANALYST: Thanks, reverend Al.

SHARPTON: Mike, let me start with you as chairman of the party in
Wisconsin, you are responsible for fund-raising and competing with the Koch
brothers. They`ve already dropped $700,000 on ads and more is coming. How
are you going to keep up with this?

TATE: Well, you know, reverend Al, they spend $700,000 on television
last week. I believe they`ve already spent close to two million in just
the last, you know, 2 1/2 months on television. You know, and, obviously,
we can`t pretend that we`re going to be able to raise that type of money.
I don`t have somebody that can write me a $700,000 check or $500,000 check
like Scott Walker does.

But we have the people on our side. You know, millions and millions
of dollars have been spent in the last few months trying to promote Scott
Walker and what`s happened? We had over a million people signed a recall
petition against him. We`ve seen his numbers in the poll stay the same or
get worse. We haven`t spent anything on television yet. And I feel really
good that this may be one of those rare instances where big money does not
win the day and the people of Wisconsin, their voice will be heard.

SHARPTON: Now Richard, when we look at what David Koch said about
union bashing, this is a quote from David Koch. He says what Scott Walker
is doing with the public unions in Wisconsin is critically important. He`s
an impressive guy and he`s very courageous. If the unions win the recall,
there will be no stopping union power.

So in many ways, as I said earlier, there`s a lot of national
implications to this because the reverse is true if the recall is not
successful and particularly due to money, they will then feel that any
governor can come in with a very blatant, aggressive anti-union stand and
not have to be held accountable and this will spread like wildfire all over
the country.

WOLFFE: Well, that may be what they believe. Look. The Koch
brothers, I know they are getting on a bit. I don`t know what era they
think they`re in when they think that public sector unions somehow have the
stranglehold on this country.

But, if they want to bank roll every unpopular governor in this
country who wants to take this on, then they`re going to find their pockets
pretty empty pretty quickly. Because you have to find a number of really
suicides -- politically suicidal governors out there, who want to follow
Scott Walker`s path.

Only last week, governor Walker had to cozy up to president Obama
because he knows he`s now on the wrong side, not just of the unions, not
just of the working folks in Wisconsin but of public opinion in Wisconsin.
He`s going into a presidential election year when he`s got a recall
election. Normally, remember, he`s in the off-year cycle. He is in the
midterm cycle, which is much better for him. But he`s now in a
presidential election year and everything is running against him.

I don`t know if the Koch brothers have enough money to win this fight
in every place where an unpopular governor takes on a fight like this.

SHARPTON: Now, Mike, taking off of what Richard said, president Obama
was in Wisconsin last week, and he was touting unions and firing up the
crowd. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITE STATES: Today, for the first
time in 15 years, this plant is running at full capacity. And that`s an
example of what happens when unions and employers work together to create
good jobs.

Our job as a nation is to do everything we can to make the decision to
in source more attractive for more companies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So you couldn`t have a clearer contrast, Mike, the
president very openly pro-union, pro-union and corporate leaders working
together. The other side trying to just outright bust unions and demonize
collective bargaining. How is this going to play out in your state?

TATE: Well, and that trip that the president took to Milwaukee last
week, it is dead on. And it`s, you know, Richard is right. The governor
did say hello to the president at the airport but then claimed he had the
flu and went home. And it`s too bad because he would have heard from
before the president spoke the UAW president and then a CEO say they
couldn`t have brought these 100 jobs from Mexico back to Milwaukee without
working together, without bargaining together.

The president clearly has the upper hand here. And I think it was a
good lesson that, unfortunately, Scott Walker didn`t learn is that, you
know, labor and management can work together to create a great working
environment for jobs.

SHARPTON: Now wait a minute. You are saying that the head of the UAW
and the head of the CEO of the corporation stood together and said working
together they actually brought jobs into Wisconsin?

TATE: They did. The UAW president spoke first and was very eloquent
and praised the CEO for coming to him saying, how do we get this done? How
do we bring jobs back to Wisconsin? And then the CEO got up next and he
said I want to thank the UAW. I want to thank this union for working with
me for finding the right balance for making sure we could create good jobs
that ten years ago they sent to Mexico. Now ten years later, they`re
bringing back and it`s because of the partnership between the CEO and the
union we`re able to get this done. It`s a tremendous success story.

SHARPTON: Now, Richard, isn`t that the end of the day, isn`t that the
problem that with all this union bashing they`ve not shown where that will
provide any jobs or any help for the average citizen. And on the other
side if you have unions and corporate CEOs standing together showing people
they`re going to give them what they need and showing results, isn`t it
kind of an empty way to run against them with just a lot of slogans and
throwing money on the television ads?

WOLFFE: Well, Scott Walker has not helped his cause or the Koch
brothers cause, right? He did not, in fact, prove a link between
unemployment and public sector unions and collective bargaining.

But more than that, you know, the chamber of commerce, the big
business interest in this country had run a pretty successful campaign for
a couple of years. The first half of the Obama administration, two to
frustrate the union agenda particular things like car check on making
unionizing easier in the workplace. So they blocked that.

What Scott Walker did was not just fail in his argument about the
public finances, but he failed in the argument he turned around the
argument that unions were too strong. He made them look like the victims.
And in overreaching, in looking like mean-spirited bully and taking on
these public sector workers, what he did was he overturned all of the work
of big businesses have been doing to stop unions for the last couple of
years.

SHARPTON: Mike Tate and Richard Wolffe, thank you both for joining
me.

TATE: Thank you.

WOLFFE: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, the Republican nightmare is becoming a
reality. The economy is proving the president`s surging. Now some are
admitting Mitt Romney is not, or at least may be not the answer.

But first, "SNL" takes on the GOP`s all boys club and their attacks on
women`s rights.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Republicans are still defending their attack on women`s
rights. Last week, they held hearings on birth control and didn`t put any
women on their first panel. But they just won`t admit they`re on the wrong
side of this issue. Take a look at what Michele Bachmann says about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: There is no anti-woman move
whatsoever. The Republican Party is extremely pro-woman.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Really? The GOP is trying to limit women`s access to birth
control. How is that pro-woman? It`s such a joke that the folks at
"Saturday Night Live" took it on.

AMY POEHLER, HOST, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Really? Really, Congress?
You held a Congressional committee on reproductive rights and you did not
invite any women? Really? That would be like not inviting any men to a
Congressional Committee debating the Maxim Top 100. Mike Huckabee joined
the fight against President Obama`s mandate saying, we`re all Catholics
now. Really? You know who is not all Catholic now? All Catholics now.

(LAUGHTER)

Ninety eight percent of Catholic women say, they`ve used birth control
and the other two percent are always the ones trying to get the church to
start a softball team.

(APPLAUSE)

Really? Don`t tell me what to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Amy said it best. Republicans don`t tell women what they
really must do. Really.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: In the last few decades,
haven`t been easy for manufacturing in this country. In America there`s
always something we can do to create new jobs and new manufacturing and new
security for the middle class. In America, we don`t give up. Over the
past 23 months, businesses have created 3.7 million new jobs. And
manufacturers are hiring for the first time since the 1990s.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: President Obama talking about the comeback in manufacturing
jobs in his weekly video address. Since the day he was sworn in, the
President has been fighting to turn the economy around. And it`s working.
This chart from talking points memo shows the nation`s jobs picture now
trending in the right direction. The lines show three main indicators.
The unemployment rate, long-term unemployment and new jobless claims are
all going down. The biggest drop to happen in just the last few months.
And as more people went back to work, it helped build confidence in the
economy. Just look at the rise in consumer spending. People are spending
again on things like cars and homes. But Republicans just can`t handle it
when things are going well. Listen to them scramble when faced with the
fact that President Obama`s policies are working.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This President is not the
reason the economy is showing signs of getting better. He`s the reason
it`s taken so long for the economy to show its signs it`s of getting
better.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Let`s not kid ourselves. This is the worst
recovery ever from a serious recession.

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Republicans can deny all they want. But they can`t run
away from the facts. I`m joined by Nia-Malika Henderson, national reporter
for "The Washington Post" and Chip Saltsman, a republican strategist who
was Mike Huckabee`s campaign manager in 2008. First, thanks to both of you
for joining me tonight.

CHIP SALTSMAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Good to be with you.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Good to be here.

SHARPTON: Let me start with you, Nia. Is it time for a new set of
GOP talking points on the economy?

HENDERSON: In some ways, it probably is. I think there is a sense
that there needs to be sort of an expansion in terms of what they are
arguing about. What they are arguing for. How they are positioning their
candidacies to make a reasonable argument that they should replace the
President. I think this idea that, you know, that the economy would have
been better had the President not taken certain steps is a hard argument to
make. You see that Mitt Romney is trying to make a similar argument around
GM. He says that he could have done a better job if there wasn`t this
infusion of $80 billion cash. But so far it looks like GM is doing quite
well having had just record profits on their -- over the last 103 years.
Something like $9.6 billion which a record for that company. So it`s a
very hard argument that they are trying to make. You have seen some
movement for instance by Santorum to expand this fight along social issues.
But even with that, you`ve seen him get in some trouble. We`ll see Mitt
Romney give a pretty big speech this week Thursday in Michigan. And so, I
think we`ll have to see what he does in terms of broadening his case for
his candidacy.

SHARPTON: Now, Chip if you were advising any of the candidates that
are running, you ran Huckabee`s 2008 campaign. What would you be telling
them to say in terms of the economy? Would you be tweaking what they are
saying now, or would you take a whole new strategy?

SALTSMAN: Well, first of all in 2008, we lost so they probably won`t
be listening to my strategy. But, anyway, I think you have to say first,
this is good news. And that`s OK to say it`s good news. Look. A better
economy is not just good for Barack Obama. It`s good for the whole
country.

SHARPTON: Right.

SALTSMAN: I think what you can do, though is take the next level and
say, what can we be doing better. Talking to the manufacturing plants,
what can we do to make sure you`ll hire more people? That`s less
regulation. And that`s when you talk about EPA and OSHA but I think Barack
Obama and this administration has let them get out of control. It`s lower
taxes. We have one of the most highest effective tax rates for businesses.
Lower those tax rates, less regulation and then let`s really get this
economy booming. And last, but not least is focus on another thing that
could be a big road block for this recovery is energy prices. With what
Iran has done today with Great Britain and other European countries is cut
off the oil, we can see $5 gas and these energy prices could slow down this
growth. So, I think if I was advising the republican camp, I would say,
talk about those things that we can make the economy grow faster, better.
But celebrate the good news because this is good for all Americans.
Democrats, Republicans and even independents.

SHARPTON: Well, I agree about celebrate the good news. I almost
totally disagree with everything else you said but it.

SALTSMAN: Shocking.

SHARPTON: .makes more sense than anything that they are saying. And
so much so that we are now hearing people openly talk about maybe Romney
can`t do it. Maybe Santorum is too far right. We`re starting to hear open
discussion about a brokered convention. Let me show you a few headlines.
Politico says, worry over Romney sparks talk of Tampa. National Review
quotes a South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint saying, a contested convention
is possible. Jim DeMint of South Carolina saying that. And an anonymous
republican Senator told ABC News, quote, "If Romney loses Michigan, we need
a new candidate." What`s all of this indicating, Nia?

HENDERSON: Well, it`s indicating that Romney, to a lot of
Republicans, is still a fragile front-runner. He looked like he gained
some momentum coming out of Florida and then wrapped up Nevada. Then he
ran into Santorum`s three-state streak. And of course now, he`s running
into problems in Michigan. I think even if he wins Michigan, it`s probably
going to be a close race no matter what. I was campaigning with Santorum
last week in Idaho. And he was saying that he expects to come in second
which would actually be pretty good for his candidacy. It`s a proportional
balloting. But I think this talk of a brokered convention really just
reflects his general sense that Romney just hasn`t been able to close the
deal among conservatives. And he`s seeming like a weak candidate.

He`s not very good on the stump when it comes to the sort of feel your
pain aspect that a lot of presidential candidates have to master. And he`s
not necessarily good at giving speeches. He makes a lot of gaffes. So, I
think people are very concerned. I think the likelihood still of a
brokered convention is not very likely. It hasn`t happened in the last 50
years in terms of the Republican Party. And I think we`re in an era in
terms of politics where there are not a lot of party big wigs. Who are the
party leaders that would actually broker this convention and what would
Santorum actually ask for? And is there a space if Romney actually comes
up with these delegates, you know, does Santorum go in there and say, I
want a vice presidential slot. It`s hard to imagine that given that he
himself has said that a victory for Romney would, in fact, be a hollow
victory.

SHARPTON: Now, Chip, let me show you some polls and then show you
some reactions. If you look at the polls, 44 percent are not satisfied.
One poll has with the current field. This is republican voters. "USA
Today" Gallup poll says, 29 percent want a new nominee from a brokered
convention. Then on the Sunday shows, there was open discussion across the
board in Sunday shows with some leading Republicans discussing whether a
late entry from some unknown candidate could work. Let me show you what
some of them were saying on the Sunday shows.

SALTSMAN: Sure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: I have a hard time seeing how somebody
could get in at this late date.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I think it`s about as remote as life on Pluto. You
know, and it could happen, sure. You can make up all kinds of scenarios.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I do think that on the republican side, there may
be more demand than there is supply in terms of the candidates but that`s
the nature of the process.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So, the polls are saying that the party membership or party
voters either want someone else or are confused. The guys that have been
in key positions in the part of kind of poo-pooing it. Where`s the
disconnect? Are the polls wrong?

SALTSMAN: Well, no, I think the leadership is saying exactly right.
A brokered convention possible, not probable. I think the polls reflect
something that we all know that this is a very tough primary season right
now for Republicans. We`re really fighting it out in the trenches. And
that`s not pretty. And if you are not in those trenches and you`re kind of
looking from the outside looking in, it`s not very attractive. And even
some of the folks in the trenches are looking out saying maybe this is not
the best way. But look. We have been through some tough primaries.
You`ve been through some tough primaries and you tend to work themselves
out and then a month or two after the primary, we look back and go, what
was all the fuss about? It wasn`t that bad?

I think Governor Romney, if he`s going to be the nominee, he`s got to
win Michigan, he`s got to set himself as the standard bearer for a lot of
different reasons. Santorum is the same way. He`s had a bad couple of
days in the press. He`s going to have to say, look, I`m passionate about
these issues. This is why I should believe in, this is why to be the
nomination. It`s not going to get any prettier over the next couple of
weeks. But once I think it`s all said and done, Republicans will come
together just like we always do and put together a strong nominee to beat
Barack Obama in November, not unlike the primary you went through in 2004.
That was a pretty rock and tough primary where there`s a lot of people in
the Democrat Party that were not happy with any of the candidates, except
maybe for you and then they eventually got behind their nominee John Kerry
although he won enough votes you would think to win but it was a close
election.

SHARPTON: Yes. But Chip, it was a different kind of fight but I`ll
have to let it go there. And you`re right. Any time you are in a storm,
you can always say the storm will pass. The problem is if you get wet you
may catch a cold and it takes longer than that to get over a cold. It
might be past November. Nia-Malika, Chip, thank you both for joining me
tonight.

HENDERSON: Thank you, Reverend.

SALTSMAN: Good to be with you.

SHARPTON: Still ahead -- a scandal erupts around a rising republican
star in a critical swing state. A key ally for both Mitt Romney and John
McCain. We`re talking to the reporter that broke the story.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. A shocking sex scandal
out of Arizona this weekend. Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu, a rising star in
the Republican Party, who was co-chair of Mitt Romney`s campaign in Arizona
and a hard-liner in the fight against illegal immigration was hit with
allegations he threatened to deport his secret gay lover. That man who is
going by the name Jose, to protect his identity, released photos of himself
and Babeu together. And compromising pictures of the sheriff, including a
snapshot of Babeu`s profile on a gay dating site. It`s a stunning twist of
fate for the Arizona sheriff who became the face of immigration reform in
Arizona working with top-ranking Republicans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL BABEU, ARIZONA SHERIFF: We`re outmanned with all the illegals in
America. More than half come through Arizona. You bring, troops, state,
county and local law enforcement together.

And complete the dang fence.

It will work this time.

Senator, you`re one of us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Babeu has stepped down from his job as co-chair of Mitt
Romney`s Arizona campaign in the wake of the scandal. But continues to
insist that he`s innocent.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BABEU: All these allegations that were in one of these newspapers are
absolutely completely false except for the issues that refer to me as being
gay because that`s the truth. I am gay. At no time did I or anyone who
represents me ever threaten deportation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But the sheriff`s ex-lover Jose swears Babeu threatened to
send him back to Mexico.

Joining me now, Monica Alonzo, reporter from the "Phoenix New Times."
The story exploded after she broke the story. Monica, thanks for being
here tonight.

MONICA ALONZO, REPORTER, "PHOENIX NEW TIMES": Thank you very much for
the invitation.

SHARPTON: Monica, how did you get the story?

ALONZO: Well, Jose approached us because he wanted to share his
story. We started sitting down and talking with him and going through the
documents that he had and, you know, trying to, you know, validate his
story. And after we got done doing all that, then we reached out to the
sheriff`s camp for comment. So he approached us. I think that the reason
he approached us is because not only he was afraid and he felt like the
best way to deal with this was just to stand up and the other thing that he
had mentioned to me was he thinks that there should be some accountability
here. And reaching out to the media was the way that he thought that would
happen.

SHARPTON: Now, what really caught my attention here is not the story
of their relationship. People have their own personal lives.

ALONZO: Right.

SHARPTON: That`s their business. But threatening to deport him,
here`s a guy who, as we showed, we`re talking about building the fence and
was a main advocate against immigration, and he was using the threat of
deportation on this young man. That is an abuse of his office, and that is
also hypocritical to his position. Now was Jose -- is Jose here illegally?

ALONZO: No, he`s not. He`s made it clear, as has his attorney, and
even on Saturday during Paul Babeu`s press conference, he backed off that
allegation that there were any problems with Jose`s visa. So, no, Jose is
here legally.

SHARPTON: So him threatening to get him deported is really saying he
was going to distort or misstate the facts of Jose`s status?

ALONZO: Right. And that`s definitely what Jose alleges. And, you
know, the allegation here is that they were questioning his visa. And I
know that Paul Babeu and his camp are saying, they never raised those
allegations. But some of the letters that Jose provided to us during our
interviews and while we were having different discussions clearly show that
the issue was raised at some point. I`ve got letters here that he provided
to us, and if I can read just directly really briefly, the letter here from
Jose`s attorney to Paul Babeu`s attorney says, your claim that Jose does
not have legal status in this country is simply not true.

However, if your client Mr. Babeu wishes to make these allegations, my
client will prevail against these claims. So clearly, even though he says
that that issue was never brought up, but clearly at some point it was
otherwise, why would there be this correspondence from the attorneys. The
other point, too, that`s interesting here is that reference the threats.
Paul Babeu has already said that he doesn`t deny the veracity of the text
messages or the photographs that we`ve included in our story in the Phoenix
"New Times." And one of those text messages, Paul Babeu sends to Jose
says, you`ll never have business again and that goes on to say, he`s going
to cause harm not only to himself but to his family.

SHARPTON: Wow.

ALONZO: And I think what happens here, and I talked to several
immigration attorneys who see this all the time is, when you are an
immigrant, whether you are here legally or not, you don`t always fully
understand how the process works. And when you are in a relationship with
somebody as high-profile and powerful as Paul Babeu, you might tend to
believe, you know, OK. They`re questioning my Visa. Maybe I do need to be
careful here.

SHARPTON: No, that`s understandable. Let me ask you, what is the
impact that this is going to have on the Republican Party in Arizona? And
on -- will there be impact on the Romney team in Arizona?

ALONZO: Well, different political pundits are definitely suggesting
that it`s going to have some impact. As we know, we`re trying to be more
conservative than the next guy. But it just remains to be seen in Paul
Babeu`s Congressional run in -- Congressional District 4 here in Arizona,
it`s a very conservative district. Heavily republican. So ultimately,
it`s going to be up to the voters to decide whether they are OK with Babeu
being gay and more importantly because that`s really not what the story is
about here.

SHARPTON: I`m going to have to there go here. But we`ll be following
this story. Monica Alonzo.

ALONZO: All right. Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: I`m sorry for cutting you off. Thank you for being with us
tonight.

ALONZO: Thank you.

SHARPTON: We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Today is a day for celebrating the contributions of our
nation`s presidents. And while we might not agree always with the
commander in chief, we should always respect the office. But from the
moment President Obama was sworn in, he`s been painted by some on the right
as the other and not one of us. We saw it this weekend when Rick Santorum
talked about the President`s phony theology. We saw it last month with
that photo of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer waving her finger in the
President of the United States` face as if she was scolding a child. All
presidents get rough treatment. It comes with the job. But this time
around, it`s different. It`s more personal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

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

OBAMA: That`s not true.

DONALD TRUMP, ENTREPRENEUR: Why doesn`t he show his birth
certificate? There`s something on that birth certificate that he doesn`t
like.

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And at every single turn,
the President has appeased those who would do us harm.

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

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This President is attacking
religion and is putting in place a secular agenda that our fore-founders
would not recognize.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Even when you disagree with the President, there`s a level
of respect that he is due because of the office. I didn`t see eye to eye
with President George W. Bush. We disagreed on most everything. But I
went to the White House to help celebrate black history month with him back
in 2008. When you deal with policy, then you are on the grounds where you
respect the office and disagree with the office holder. But when you deal
with the person that holds the office, it says more about the person doing
the attacking than it says about the president that`s being attacked.

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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