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PoliticsNation, Monday, February 27, 2012

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Guests: Marcia Williams; Tyler Perry; Joe Madison; Ted Strickland, Bill
Ballenger, Erin McPike, Clarence Page, Janet Schakowsky

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

Tonight`s lead, watch what they do, not what they say. Republicans claim
this election would be all about the economy, but instead they are trying
to refight the culture wars. Rick Santorum has spent the last few days
attacking a core American idea, the separation of church and state.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t believe in an America
with a separation of church and state is absolute. To say that people of
faith have no role in the public square. You bet that makes you throw up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The separation of church and state makes him want to throw up?
How extreme can you get? Today Santorum tried to clarify those remarks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM: I`m for separation of church and state. The state has no
business telling what the church to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But this just isn`t about keeping the state out of the church.
It`s also about keeping the church out of the state. President John F.
Kennedy understood this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The constitution
is very clear in the separation of church and state. And I have been very
clear and precise in my commitments to that constitution.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: President Ronald Reagan understood this, too.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is no religion
in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we
ever. Church and state are and must remain separate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The founding fathers understood it, too. In 1802, Thomas
Jefferson wrote that the first amendment was, quote, "building a wall of
separation between church and state." And Rick Santorum seems to be
questioning this?

This weekend, he also made headlines with another attack on a core American
value, the dream of a better future for our children. He`s actually
criticizing the president for wanting more people to go to college.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM: President Obama once said he wants everybody in America to go to
college. What a snob. Well, I understand why he wants you to go to
college. He wants to remake you in his image.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: A snob? Really, Mr. Santorum? Ninety four percent of all
parents hope and expect their kids will go to college some day. Are they
snobs, too? This isn`t snobbery. It`s the American dream. President
Obama made that point today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can`t allow hire
education to be a luxury in this country. It`s an economic imperative that
every family in America has to be able to afford. And, frankly, I don`t
think any of this should be a partisan issue. All of us should be about
giving every American who wants a chance to succeed that chance.

(APPLAUSE)

SHARPTON: Joining me now, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, democrat from
Illinois, also is joining me, Clarence Page, a Pulitzer prize-winning
columnist for the "Chicago Tribune."

Thanks to both of you for being here.

REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D), ILLINOIS: Thank you.

CLARENCE PAGE, COLUMNIST, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Now let me start with you, congresswoman. Separating church and
state has worked for the past 200 years. Why is it such an issue in the
GOP primary now?

SCHAKOWSKY: Well, I don`t know what Rick Santorum is thinking about
because clearly he is out of the mainstream. He is hypocritical and he`s
also just plain wrong when it comes to his facts when he talks about
college, for example.

But, you know if he wants to talk about religion, Al, let`s talk about the
values in every major religion in the world. Things like, love thy
neighbor and feed the hungry because he`s also taken off after food stamps.
Aren`t these the kinds of things that ought to embody a religious person`s
view of the role of our society? So I`m just completely confused.

And besides that, let me -- we just heard from President Obama. But let me
quote Senator Rick Santorum in 2006 saying, quote, "He was committed to
ensuring every Pennsylvanian has access to higher education." That was
just a few years ago.

SHARPTON: Let me -- and I want to get to this education thing because it
really bothers me. But Clarence, let me ask you a question.

You recently wrote that you thought the economy was going to be what this
election was about. So did I. Now we`re arguing culture wars. And it`s
not just Rick Santorum. Let`s be clear. Both Romney and Newt Gingrich
have talked about the secular left and this war of religion. Let me let
you listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The forces of the secular left
believe passionately and deeply and with, frankly, a religious fervor in
their world view. Their version of truth is to have a totally neutral
government that has no meaning.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Fortunately, perhaps because of
the people the president hangs around with and their agenda, a secular
agenda, they have fought against religion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Clarence, how did we get from job creation, expanding economic
opportunities, dealing with the bad economy to where we`re arguing about
religion, secularism? I mean, what is this all about?

PAGE: Well, I`ll try to be short. It`s been a long road here, but it
started with the contraception issue which popped up, you know, about two,
three weeks ago and would have blown over except the Republican candidates
picked up on it, along with these other culture war issues. And I think
they are playing to their base, reverend, pure and simple. Coming from
Chicago, I look at things through a vote counting lens.

And you know, look where Rick Santorum`s votes have come from in his Iowa
victory and others. Look at where Newt Gingrich`s votes came from in
Georgia where, in spite of his three marriages, his biggest turnout came in
the heavily Christian conservative districts and the Republicans, of
course, have a lot of Christian conservatives in their base. They are
active. They turn out to vote. And I think Rick Santorum in particular
here in recent days, has gone all out for that constituency, even as he
contradicts, as the Congresswoman Schakowsky mentioned, contradicts his own
past platforms in so far as college education is concerned. It`s a rather
cynical appeal to anti-intellectualism. A pitch to take cheap shots at
President Obama calling him a snob and making him out like -- well, he went
to college. He thinks blue collar people aren`t worth anything.

He`s deliberately misquoting president Obama. He knows he`s misquoting him
and he`s going ahead and doing it. And he doubled down on Sunday with
George Stephanopoulos over these same points. So, I think it`s a rather
crass appeal to votes. And, believe me, it`s upsetting moderate
Republicans because they see him and Gingrich in particular pushing the
party farther to the right and making it harder to win in November.

SHARPTON: Now congresswoman, the politics of this is also questionable. I
mean, what are they looking at? When you are looking at the American
people, I agree that Clarence Page is right. They may be playing to a
narrow base in the Republican Party that brings them through some caucuses
or primaries.

But look at what the American people are focused on. The culture war is
the wrong message. Fifty six percent of people say the economy is
overwhelmingly the most important issue in this election, 15 percent say
the deficit, 14 percent, health care, 5 percent immigration, 3 percent
abortion. If they are talking about running in the general election, what
they are talking about is not the concern of the overwhelming majority of
American people that they would have to convince if they want to really try
to have a shot at unseating this president.

SCHAKOWSKY: This is a severe miscalculation politically on the part of
Rick Santorum and the other Republican candidates that want to focus on
culture. But even within that, for example, Santorum`s attack and Newt
Gingrich, too, on food stamps, for example, 78 percent of Americans think
that we should either spend more or at least the same on food stamps and
only 12 percent think less. The American people believe that we should
feed the poor.

When it comes to what he says about college, he`s just wrong. The study
that he cites actually shows that students that go to college are more
inclined to be more religious rather than people who don`t attend college.
It`s exactly the opposite of what he said. Not to mention the hypocritical
statements he`s made. And so, he`s just wrong on every front.

And I think that it is such a losing strategy on their part to appeal to a
very, very narrow base. Women, I mean, I don`t understand how they expect
to get votes from women when there`s an overwhelming opposition to their
war on women and every respect including contraception where 100 percent
almost of women use contraception in their lives.

SHARPTON: Well Clarence, not only do people that go to college tend to
maybe even be more religious. They earn more money. When we look at the
fact the unemployment rate of those with no college diploma is 13.1
percent, those with a bachelor`s degree higher, 4.2.

When you look at the fact that many people wanted to dream for their
children what they didn`t have. My mother dropped out of school when she
was in secondary school. She was so proud when I went to college. I
didn`t finish but I was proud to send my daughters. That`s not a question
of snobbery. That`s a question of advancing.

And here we are preaching to kids don`t bully. Don`t treat those that are
learned and trying to be something like they are nerds. He`s sending the
exact opposite message saying to those that are potentially bullies,
they`re snobs. I mean, this is the wrong message, Clarence.

PAGE: Right. That`s what really touches me here, reverend. Because I
feel like, well, you know, this is reverse snobbery. It`s saying that the
noble blue collar is better than the college folks. Obama didn`t say that.
And I don`t know anybody that really believes that. But it`s kind of a
victim narrative that some conservatives play when they are being rather
cynical. I think that`s what we`re seeing here.

Now reverend, Santorum has touched on a real problem which is the
deindustrialization of America. You know, I worked in the steel mill in
the summers to earn tuition to go to college in the winter. And kids now
coming from my hometown can`t do that. The jobs aren`t there. The jobs
have moved overseas.

SHARPTON: Right.

PAGE: The tuition is ten times higher than it was back when I was in
college. The American dream now, we are falling down behind industrial
countries of Western Europe --

SHARPTON: No question about it.

PAGE: -- as far as upward mobility goes. And Santorum needs to address
that directly, like he did when he was running back for the Senate instead
of playing --

SHARPTON: I`m going to have to let it stay there, but you`re absolutely
right.

Congresswoman Janet Schakowsky, always a pleasure to have you.

SCHAKOWSKY: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Clarence Page, thank you for joining me tonight as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE ANNOUNCER: Time now for Reverend Al`s mystery solved.

SHARPTON: Thank you, Mr. Announcer. It is indeed time for Reverend Al`s
mystery solved. The case tonight, Mitt Romney`s obsession with the trees
in Michigan. Here it is one more time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I was born and raised here. I love this state. It seems right
here. Trees are the right height. I like seeing the lakes.

The great lakes, but also all the little inland lakes that dot the parts of
Michigan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The trees are the right height. I don`t even know what that
means. But I thought maybe I had heard it before. Fortunately, the folks
at buzz feed solved the puzzle. It has to do with Ernest Hemingway.
Listen to these lines from one of Hemingway`s short stories set in
Michigan.

"The trunks of the trees went straight up or slanted toward each other.
The trunks were straight and brown without branches. Leaving in the sun
this bare space they had once covered with shadow. Coincidence? I think
not. I think this case is finally closed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE ANNOUNCER: This has been Reverend Al`s mystery solved.

SHARPTON: Ahead, Willard Romney`s pit stop in Daytona is a complete wreck.
He tried to connect with the NASCAR fans but wait until you hear what he
said.

Plus, the economy is getting stronger and so is President Obama`s approval.

And this ugly campaign continues to crush the Republican brand. Right,
Billy?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILLY CRYSTAL, COMEDIAN: A dark night, an American psycho, a charismatic
crack addicts, you`ll get to choose one on Super Tuesday.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And Scott Walker is complaining about his recall again today.
But it`s one more step closer to reality.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Willard`s got a major connection problem. And it has the GOP on
edge. Could a Romney loss tomorrow send the party into chaos? That`s
next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back to "Politics Nation." We`re one day away from what
could be Armageddon for the GOP. The pressure is mounting on Willard
Romney in his home state of Michigan. Just one day before the primary,
it`s a dead heat. In two polls out today, Romney leads Santorum by two
points. But both are within the margin of error.

Since 1972, no presidential hopeful has lost their home state primary. A
loss tomorrow would put the GOP establishment in a tailspin. But Willard`s
finding ways to make it harder on himself.

Over the weekend, he went to Daytona to mix with the regular folks trying
to connect with
NASCAR fans. Here`s what he had to say when asked if he was a fan himself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Not as closely as some of the most ardent fans, but I have some
great friends that are NASCAR team owners.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Friends who are NASCAR team owners. Instead of relating to
average Joe, he`s talking about his millionaire buddies who own the teams.
Meanwhile, the president is connecting with people, fighting for fairness.
But no matter how hard he tries, Willard just can`t shake that one percent
image. Just ask his wife.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANN ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY`S WIFE: Maybe I should just do all the talking and
let him just stand here and watch me. I`ve also -- I`ve also decided no
more debates. If we`re going to do another debate, he`s going to sit in
the audience and watch me, and that will be it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Probably a smart move. Must be nice, Willard, having friends
who own NASCAR teams and drivers driving around in your numerous Cadillacs.
But let`s see if it will hurt you in your home state.

Joining me now from Lansing, Michigan is Bill Ballenger, editor and
publisher of "Inside Michigan Politics" and Erin McPike. Erin is, of
course, a national political reporter for "Real Clear Choices, Real Clear
Politics," I`m sorry.

Great to have both of you with us.

I`ve got to ask you both. How does a guy who spent his adult life running
for president make so many mistakes? Let me start with you, Bill.

BILL BALLENGER, INSIDE MICHIGAN POLITICS: Well, he`s making a gaffe a day
right now. It wasn`t that way so much earlier on. I think the problem for
him right now is these gaffes are feeding into an overall impression he`s
leaving with the voters tomorrow in Michigan that he is an overwhelm league
wealthy guy who simply cannot relate or connect with the common man or the
common voter. And for everybody who thinks that the Republicans are a
party of country club rich elitists, they`re not.

SHARPTON: Well, let me ask you this, Bill. Let`s take a look at where
Romney stands in Michigan. He`s doing well in southern -- southeastern
Michigan, around Detroit, Oakland County, Wayne County, Macomb County.

In 2008, that`s where 35 percent of the Republican vote in Michigan came
from. Rick Santorum is doing well in the southwest by Grand Rapids, Kent,
Ottawa counties and in the Upper Peninsula, those two areas accounted for
40 percent of the Republican vote in 2008. So that leaves the rest of the
state, a huge area, for them to fight over in the next 24 hours. How do
you see this ending? Can Willard win that chunk of Michigan in the next
day?

BALLENGER: He can win it, but it`s going to be a cliffhanger, reverend. I
think it`s going to be a real nail biter right to the finish. And I would
not be shocked if Santorum didn`t pull off a shocking upset.

SHARPTON: Now Erin, when you hear that, and you look at the fact that
there is some strange campaigning going on in Michigan, there`s a Robo call
out that is calling on Democrats in Michigan to vote tomorrow. And at the
end it says paid for by Rick Santorum. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE ANNOUNCER: On Tuesday, join Democrats who are going to
send a loud message to Massachusetts Mitt Romney by voting for Rick
Santorum for president. This call is supported by hard-working democratic
men and women and paid for by Rick Santorum for president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now this is a little duplicitous, Erin, wouldn`t you say?

ERIN MCPIKE, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: It is, but there`s always cross-party
mischief making in some of these states. And so the Democrats desperately
want Rick Santorum to win Michigan. So, it elongates this primary, gives
Mitt Romney a harder go of things going into Super Tuesday and beyond.

It doesn`t often work, but because this primary is so tight if they can get
just a small percentage of Democrats to come out and support Rick Santorum,
who knows. All of the Republicans I`m talking to have been saying they
think Mitt Romney might be able to eke out a victory but they`re not sure
and maybe Rick Santorum can come back after some of the gaffes that Mitt
Romney has had this weekend. But it`s going to be a nail biter. So, it
might just work.

SHARPTON: Bill in fact, you got one of these calls, I`m sure, and it kind
of surprised you.

BALLENGER: Yes, it did, really. It sounds like it`s coming from
solidarity house or the UAW or maybe the Obama election committee. And you
have to wait until the very end to hear that tag line that you just played
and that is, this ad paid for by the Rick Santorum for president committee.

So it`s disingenuous. It`s hypocritical because he has exactly the same
position, opposing the auto bailout as Mitt Romney. But, look, whatever it
takes to get a victory tomorrow, that`s what he`s trying for and he`s
pulling out all the stops.

SHARPTON: All fill. But, no, we certainly the man that`s so self-
righteous and pious wouldn`t do anything. I`m sure he`ll be on tonight
denouncing this kind of duplicity. But let me say this while, Bill, one of
Romney`s chief supporters have said he`d be in real trouble if he doesn`t
win Michigan. And that it could cause some -- it could upset the whole
process.

Let me let you hear what governor Chris Christie had to say about a
potential loss for Willard in Michigan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS CHRISTIE, GOVERNOR, NEW JERSEY: Is there a possibility if Governor
Romney were to lose Michigan for a contested election? Contested
convention? Sure. That`s a possibility.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He also had a high-ranking senator speaking on the condition of
anonymity saying that if Romney loses Michigan, it`s over. Quote, "if
Romney cannot win Michigan, we need a new candidate. He`d be too damaged.
If he can`t even win in Michigan, where his family is from, where he grew
up."

Wouldn`t that be the consensus that if he loses Michigan, it`s game over
for him being taken seriously?

BALLENGER: I don`t think it would be the consensus. It wouldn`t be
unanimous. But he would be very badly damaged and especially if he does
not do well on Super Tuesday on March 6th, yes. He could be out, sidelined
or the party leaders or the super PACs or whoever the powers that be might
be.

Reince Priebus, the national Republican chairman can say, look. There`s
got to be somebody new. We`ve got to get in this race. Or there`s Jeb
Bush, Chris Christie, Mitch Daniels, whoever, because it`s too dangerous
for us as a party to go forward with Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich as our
nominee. They are too deeply flawed, too divisive. And they would get
creamed by Barack Obama in November.

SHARPTON: Bill Ballenger and Erin McPike. Thank you both for your time
tonight.

BALLENGER: Thank you, reverend Al.

SHARPTON: Ahead, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker was up early this morning
to complain about the recall. But it`s full steam ahead. Big news out of
Wisconsin tonight.

And the economy is getting stronger and so is the president`s approval.
Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Big news out of Wisconsin today. The recall against union
busting governor Scott Walker is another step closer to reality. Walker
won`t challenge any of the names on the recall petitions. This means the
recall process will move forward without any bogus complaints about the
signatures. More than a million people signed petitions to put Walker on
the ballot. Now the state just has to finish reviewing the signatures
before they set a date for the election. But Walker`s sticking to the same
old talking points. Here he was on this network this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT WALKER, GOVERNOR, WISCONSIN: It`s a huge distraction, not just for
me, for the legislature. I mean its $9 million of taxpayer`s money just to
run this. Think about the number of kids we could help. Think about the
number of seniors we could help with $9 million that we didn`t have to
waste on this frivolous recall election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Really, governor? This recall is a distraction? You know all
the distractions your last campaign was all about distracting, distracting
voters from your real goal of attacking public employees. But that wasn`t
all Walker had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALKER: After a year of being attacked by out of state special interests,
the tens of millions of dollars that were poured in, the fact that we`re
ahead any of the Democrats in the race, I think bodes well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The governor is almost funny that you would whine about out of
state money. Sixty one percent of the money you`ve raised during the
recall has come from out of state. One million dollars came from just four
people. And let`s not forget one big name in Walker`s corner. Billionaire
David Koch who said, quote, "We`re helping Walker as we should. We spent a
lot of money in Wisconsin, and we`re going to spend more."

Last time I checked, David Koch doesn`t live in Wisconsin, governor. Did
you really think you could distract us from out of state money that`s
bankrolling your campaign? Nice try, governor. But we got you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back to the show. While the Republican presidential
candidates are busy fighting each other and refighting the culture wars,
President Obama has stayed focused on jobs. And American people are taking
note.

A new Politico poll shows 53 percent of Americans approve of his job
performance. That`s up nine percent since November. In the same poll, the
president is leading Mitt Romney 53 percent to 43 percent. A ten-point
spread. And he leads Rick Santorum by 11 points, 53 percent to 42 percent.
A lot can happen before November, but right now it`s clear. The Republican
candidates do not have a credible answer to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Over the last two years,
American businesses have created 3.7 million new jobs. Manufacturers are
hiring for the first time since the 1990s. The auto industry is back. Our
recovery is gaining speed, and the economy is getting stronger. And we`ve
got to do everything we can to make sure that we sustain this progress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now is Ted Strickland, former Ohio governor and co-
chair of President Obama`s re-election campaign. And Joe Madison, host of
"Mornings with Madison" on Sirius XM radio.

Thanks to both of you for coming on the show tonight.

TED STRICKLAND, FORMER GOVERNOR, CO-CHAIRMAN OF PRESIDENT OBAMA`S RE-
ELECTION CAMPAIGN: Thank you, Reverend Al.

JOE MADISON, HOST, MORNINGS WITH MADISON, SIRIUS XM: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Governor, let me start with you. The unemployment rate in Ohio
is still 8.1 percent. Do voters there want to talk about birth control or
the separation of church and state?

STRICKLAND: They want to talk about jobs and opportunity. They want to
talk about their kids` education. They want to talk about being able to
own a home and pay their mortgage. They want to support their churches and
their communities.

And the people of Ohio are common sense folk. You know, we don`t like
extremes. We don`t like radical ideas. And to talk about contraception
when so many people are facing so many challenges is just almost beyond
belief.

Reverend Al, I don`t know how the Republican Party could have assembled
four candidates that are less qualified to lead this country than the
candidates that have been left standing. Paul, Gingrich, Santorum and
Romney. I mean, surely the Republican Party could have given this country
a greater choice than they`ve given us.

SHARPTON: Yes, and you would think so, Joe, because when you look at these
polls that Governor Strickland is referring to, Politico/George Washington
university poll shows President Obama lead with independent voters,
independent voters. President Obama, 49 percent, Mitt Romney, 27 percent.

NBC news map shows former toss-up states in November are now leaning
democrat. And then in Ohio, a poll of Ohio voters, and you grew up in
Dayton, Ohio, has President Obama at 46 percent, Mitt Romney at 44 percent.

So politically, it`s clear that all of these culture wars and other issues
they are raising, the voters are not in any way gravitating toward that
message.

MADISON: I grew up in Dayton, Ohio. And when I was in school, you could
graduate. You could work at Inland. You could work at Delco. You could
work at national. Cash register, Dayton tire and rubber. Those jobs are
not there. And people on the west side of Dayton and around that area,
they are suffering. They are trying to survive.

And so, here they are looking for jobs and opportunities and you are
calling the president a snob because he`s trying to encourage people to
have an opportunity to go to college. The governor is right. I think
what`s happening is people are very pragmatic. And right now the main
issue is jobs. And the sad thing is you have not heard one solution from
any of the four.

I made a point this morning on my show, and I can`t -- you`re a reverend,
so you`ll have to forgive me. If these four guys were wine, they`d be
boons farm. This is the bottom of the barrel, and the Republicans, you
know, governor, growing up in Ohio, we used to know Republicans that we
worked with and that we were relatively proud of.

SHARPTON: The governor doesn`t know anything about boons farm, though.

(LAUGHTER)

SHARPTON: Let me ask you this, governor. When -- on Joe Madison`s point,
Maureen Dowd said in "The New York Times" that -- and this is her criticism
of the Republican field, that they are tripping over one another trying to
be the most radical, unreasonable and insane candidate they can be.
Republicans are getting queasy at the gruesome sight of their party eating
itself alive, savaging the brand in ways that will long resonate. I mean,
that`s a blistering attack.

STRICKLAND: Well, I think the Republican Party needs to return to its
roots. I have Republican friends who are appalled at what these candidates
are saying and what they are proposing. They are embarrassed. We`re
talking about contraception?

SHARPTON: Right.

STRICKLAND: I mean, that is almost -- it`s so unreasonable that it`s
almost difficult to believe. It`s like a caricature, a "Saturday Night
Live" skit. You watch these guys and, quite frankly, my Republican friends
are embarrassed by them.

And Mitt Romney at one time I thought, well, at least he`s an adult. He`ll
be a strong candidate if he`s the nominee. And he has become -- I don`t
know. Sometimes I feel sorry for him. He is so trying to connect with
people that he comes across sometimes as almost silly. And then there`s
Santorum and he is so far out, so radical. And he`s, you know, to call the
president a snob simply because he wants our kids to be able to go to
college? Of course not every kid needs to go to college. We have trade
schools. We need - you know, we need to get beyond the name calling and we
need to get serious about governing this country. And that`s what the
president is doing.

MADISON: But the president said he wanted every young person to have an
opportunity.

SHARPTON: Opportunity. That`s what --

MADISON: That`s what he really said. But the other thing is I think what
the Republicans haven`t recognized with this contraception is that they`ve
awakened the younger women.

SHARPTON: Right.

MADISON: That`s really -- these are people who said, wait a minute. We`ve
lived with this all our lives, and now --

SHARPTON: They don`t know any other way.

MADISON: And they don`t know any other way, in terms of it being available
to them.

STRICKLAND: Well, and some younger men have been awakened as well because
they may not want to be fathers.

MADISON: That`s right.

SHARPTON: This has always been something that was in their lives as being
possible, whether they use it or not is another story.

Governor Strickland, Joe Madison, thank you both for your time.

STRICKLAND: Thank you, reverend Al.

MADISON: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, a Hollywood heavyweight is using his star power to
fight for justice. My exclusive interview with Tyler Perry.

And walking in the footsteps of heroes. News about our march to protect
the right to vote from those who want to roll back the clock. Stay with
us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: President Obama hosted the national governors association dinner
last night. But a few governors were missing including Arizona governor
Jan Brewer. So why did you miss it, governor?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAN BREWER, GOVERNOR, ARIZONA: I would not disrespect the president of the
United States. I have other commitments and I`m going to be at the White
House on Monday morning. I said that, you know, this event was a social
thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: She would not disrespect the president of the United States. Of
course she wouldn`t. She would never do anything like that. I mean, it`s
the office of the president. No way would you ever think of crossing that
line to be disrespectful of though office of president. This is all just a
big understanding.

Governor Brewer, you sure you want to debate this one?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Activists and actor Tyler Perry is calling for justice for two
Florida men who mysteriously vanished under similar circumstances, 27-year-
old Terrance Williams disappeared eight years ago.

According to police and news reports, he was last seen in the back seat of
a patrol car driven by local sheriff deputy Steven Calkins. Under
questioning from investigators, the deputy said he left Terrance at a
convenience store. But as Terrance`s family asks more questions, the
officer`s story started to unravel.

Terrance`s mother learned also disturbing facts about the officer`s past.
Three months earlier, police reports say another man, Felipe Santos, had
also disappeared after being driven away in Officer Calkins` patrol car.
Calkins told investigators he left Santos at a nearby convenience store as
well.

After an internal investigation, Officer Calkins was cleared of any
wrongdoing in the Santos disappearance. The case was recently featured on
"Investigation Discovery`s Disappeared."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three months after Terrance went missing. Police
issued the deputy Calkins another polygraph.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was found to be totally deceptive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The polygraph results begged the question, did Steve
Calkins see Terrance again after allegedly dropping him off at the Circle
K. And if so, why isn`t he coming clean? Calkins insists his interaction
with both Terrance and Felipe ended at the Circle K and that he had nothing
to do with either man going missing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now is actor, entertainer and activist Tyler Perry.

Tyler, thanks so much for being here.

TYLER PERRY, ACTOR, ENTERTAINER, ACTIVIST: Listen. I wish it was under
different circumstances, but I had to be here.

SHARPTON: How did you hear about this story and what made you get
involved?

PERRY: I was just watching. I never watch television for some - you know,
I`m always busy but I was watching this story on Investigation Discovery,
and I was blown away because this -- the last person to see him alive is
this deputy Steve Calkins from what I understand.

And as I`m watching the show, then as the story goes on there was another
man who disappeared, Felipe Santos who disappeared a few months before
Terrance did. Last person to see him alive is this same sheriff. There
are a lot of conflicting stories. I`m just trying to help this mother find
some justice.

SHARPTON: Now this same officer had been involved in two missing cases.

PERRY: Yes.

SHARPTON: Let me bring in Terrance`s mother. Marcia Williams joins us
from Florida.

Thank you for your time tonight.

MARCIA WILLIAMS, TERRANCE WILLIAMS` MOTHER: Thank you.

SHARPTON: When did you realize your son was missing?

WILLIAMS: His friend, his roommate was trying to find him, and he
couldn`t. And once I didn`t hear from him, I knew that something was not
right. It was just wrong.

SHARPTON: When they played the tape between Calkins, the policeman, and
the dispatcher, let me play for our listeners around the country, our
viewers to listen and see what`s being said here.

(AUDIO CLIP PLAYING)

SHARPTON: Now this officer said he didn`t know what they were talking
about at first. He didn`t Terrance Williams. But the dispatcher and he
discussed this Cadillac and also clearly there was some engagement.

PERRY: Yes, he told his mother because she was relentless in calling
trying to find out where her child was because she thought he was arrested.
There were people at the funeral home who told her he was arrested. And
she could not find any proof of that so she kept calling the police. And
they finally called him at home and said do you remember this, the tow in
Cadillac? There`s audiotape of him saying, I don`t know what you`re
talking about. And then they find this audiotape of him actually talking
to the dispatcher.

SHARPTON: Now Ms. Williams, Felipe Santos disappeared three months before
Terrance. Same officer involved. You had no way of knowing that when you
started pursuing what happened to Terrance. I mean, why has there not been
outrage about this? Why have we not seen since 2004 people in Florida and
others rallying?

WILLIAMS: I can`t understand it. I just can`t. I`m looking for answers.
I just can`t understand it.

SHARPTON: You are looking for answers. Did you ever talk to the officer?
Did you ever speak with Calkins?

WILLIAMS: I left -- I had a detective in the beginning. He said that he
would put Terrance`s picture in Deputy Calkins` mailbox. And I said please
have him to contact me because I want to know what happened.

SHARPTON: Right.

WILLIAMS: Never, never contacted at all.

SHARPTON: How did you feel when Tyler Perry, the biggest star in Hollywood
now, according to all records, contacted you out of nowhere and just
decided he wanted to help bring this case to the national spotlight?

WILLIAMS: I just looked at it and accepted it as an angel that God had
sent my way. And I cannot thank him enough.

SHARPTON: Tyler, you`ve already gone on national radio. You are doing
this show. And you have encouraged all of us saying, look, this is not
what I do, but it touched my heart that this would happen and this lady
deserves some justice. Why is it so personal?

PERRY: We all should be outraged. This is the kind of stuff that would
happen in the `60s and earlier where black people would just disappear and
be disregarded. And they never heard of them again. And there`s somebody
who knows something.

And the problem with it, and I`ve spoken to people about it in trying to
help her get national attention and what I`m being told by a lot of
mainstream media is that, he`s not sympathetic because of his history of he
has children with different women or he spent some time in prison so he`s
not sympathetic.

But I believe that that is what is, in my opinion. That this deputy was
thinking. That nobody would care. But this is -- he has children that
miss him. This is his mother. She misses and loves him.

You know, Felipe Santos, he had family. You know, he`s from Mexico and an
immigrant. You know, and I think it`s just unfair. And I just want to see
justice be done and be served here. We`ve got to do something to help her.

SHARPTON: Now when do people have to qualify to have justice? It doesn`t
matter what his background is. You don`t have the right --

PERRY: In America. That`s right.

SHARPTON: And I think, you know, Mrs. Williams, I told Tyler Perry when he
called us on it that we`re coming down there. We`re going to have a
national rally. We are going help Tyler Perry put a spotlight on this
because your son represents a lot of people that have been marginalized.
That people assume nobody cares about. And we can`t have a country that
people are only matter base on their pedigree or their criminal record or
their family lifestyle. Human beings matter.

PERRY: Not in this America. You`re right.

SHARPTON: And Tyler is not going to stand by himself. If he cares, well
all he has to do - I mean, it`s embarrassing, he has to wake the ministers
up to do our job. But we`re coming to Naples with Tyler Perry in March and
we`re going to try to put a lot of spotlight on this.

WILLIAMS: Thank you. Thank you.

SHARPTON: Tyler, Marcia, we`re going to rally and we`re going to keep this
out there on the show. Thank you for your time tonight to both of you.
Thank you, Tyler.

PERRY: God bless.

WILLIAMS: Thank you. God bless you.

SHARPTON: The collier county sheriff`s office fired Deputy Calkins in
October 2004 citing untruthful statements and conduct unbecoming an officer
in the Terrance Williams case.

Today, we spoke with the detective Kevin O`Neil who told us Calkins remains
a person of interest. He also said he continues to track down any new tips
in the missing person cases of Terrance Williams and Felipe Santos.

We`re back with the fight against voter suppression. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Finally tonight, our continued fight against voter suppression.

Today, the Virginia legislature passed a voter I.D. bill making it the 31st
state to have a voter I.D. law on the books. Without a state-issued I.D.,
you can`t vote. I call that a poll tax.

In Omaha, Nebraska, they are closing 166 polling stations. The state is
shutting sites in one of its poorest districts which also happen to be a
majority black and Latino community. The Republican appointed election
commissioner says it will save taxpayer money. He says it will take five
minutes to drive to another polling station. But that doesn`t help the
nearly 20 percent of those in northern Omaha who are residents who don`t
have a car. Republicans across the country are pushing these laws without
any proof of fraud. In fact, I asked Florida`s representative Dennis
Baxley about it right here on this show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DENNIS BAXLEY, FLORIDA: Absolutely.

SHARPTON: How are you giving an improved way of voting when there was
nothing wrong? You secured --

BAXLEY: Because we have --

SHARPTON: There was no fraud.

BAXLEY: We have accountability. We`re not going to wait for fraud.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Wait for fraud. This is why we won`t stop fighting back. Forty
seven years after the 1965 voting rights march, we are facing new
roadblocks to the voting booth.

I`ll be in Alabama next week where we`ll retrace the route of the historic
march from Selma to Montgomery. We`re marching to make sure our voting
rights are protected now and for the next generation.

It is not enough to memorialize and extol Martin Luther King and Goodman,
Cheney, Schwerner and Viola Louisa and then allow what they gave their
lives for to die. We must recommit whatever your party affiliation,
whatever you believe, we all must have the right to vote. People died to
give it to us, and we must live to affirm and keep it.

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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