PoliticsNation, Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Read the transcript from the Wednesday show
Guests: Terry O`Neill; John Wilson; Steve Cohen, Tad Devine, Chip Saltsman,
Kerry Rich, Lee Saunders
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Welcome to a special edition of
"Politics Nation." I`m Al Sharpton live tonight from near the state capitol
in Montgomery, Alabama.
Today was day four of our march retracing the route of the historic
1965 march from Selma to Montgomery. The fight continues. And tonight
I`ll talk to the Republican who sponsored the state`s voter I.D. law. Stay
tuned for that. You are going to want to watch that.
Also tonight, new details on the federal judge who sent the racist e-
mail about President Obama. We talked to a member of Congress on what we
can do. And Willard`s rocky road, it`s all good news for the Obama
But we begin with the outcry over Rush Limbaugh. One week after his
ugly comments about a law student, the story is not going away. As of
tonight, at least 41 advertisers have dropped their support of his show.
You can see the names scrolling below me. Some companies are calling
rush`s comments unsettling and inexcusable and saying, Rush doesn`t align
with their values.
And for the first time, one advertising agency has pulled all of its
clients` ads from the show. Page One Advertising in Youngstown, Ohio,
said, quote, "no woman, including Ms. Fluke, should ever be subject to the
type of insults and vitriol broadcasting during the Rush Limbaugh show last
week. And no individual or business should wish to be associated with this
type of irresponsible behavior."
He`s also been dropped by two radio stations. The fire is red hot
under Rush. But he pretended today like everything was cool.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO SHOW HOST: No, we have not lost 28 sponsors.
Well, how can they say it? Because they lie. Folks, we have three brand
new sponsors that will be starting in the next two weeks.
Now, obviously, I`m not going to tell you who they are today. That`s
like losing a couple of French fries in the container when it`s delivered
to you at the drive-through. You don`t even notice it. If we lose 28 of
those sponsors, the majority of them being in one city or another, that`s a
sad occurrence. But, folks, I would venture to say that this happens every
day anyway in the course of doing business.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: You know, what I keep trying to tell Mr. Limbaugh, all of
us have said things out of emotion or just being off the cuff that we
regretted. You say you`re wrong. You say you`re sorry. You don`t double
down for three days and you don`t act like sponsors who don`t want to be
associated with you are foolishness is just like a couple of French fries.
Arrogance is not the answer. Contrition when you`re wrong, Rush,
contrition. Everyday business and he`s comparing this to losing a couple
of French fries? Don`t buy it.
Meanwhile, we`re still waiting on the Republican leadership to speak
up. Here`s Speaker Boehner dodging the question again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LUKE RUSSERT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: George Will, conservative
commentator said about your response to Rush Limbaugh, quote, "John Boehner
comes out and says Rush`s language was inappropriate using the salad fork
for your entry. That`s inappropriate. Not this stuff. And it was
depressing because what it indicates is that the Republican leaders are
afraid of rush Limbaugh." Do you have any response?
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: And the point is? I
thought what Rush said was inappropriate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: And last night, Willard Romney had the chance to show some
leadership and failed again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m not going to weigh in on
that particular controversy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Of course, Sarah Palin is defending him. She`s weighed in
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: The definition of hypocrisy
is for Rush Limbaugh to have been called out, forced to apologize and
retract what it is that he said in exercising his first amendment rights
and never is that the same applied to the leftist radicals who say such
horrible things about the handicapped, about women, about the defenseless.
So, I think that`s the definition of hypocrisy, and that`s my two cents
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: This is a stunning failure of leadership from Republicans.
They are scared of Rush Limbaugh. It`s frankly appalling. Rush was back
on the air again today attacking women.
Joining me now is Terry O`Neill, president of the national
organization of women. She and the group are calling for clear channel to
pull the plug on Limbaugh.
Also, with us, John Wilson, he`s the author of "the most dangerous man
in America," Rush Limbaugh`s assault on reason. Thank you for being on the
Terry, how do we keep the pressure on?
TERRY O`NEILL, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ORGANIZATION OF WOMEN: We need to
keep the pressure on the advertisers to continue leaving. Rush Limbaugh is
absolutely wrong in saying that he can withstand all these advertising --
advertisers leaving. He can`t. And then we need to turn to the stations.
He brags he has 600 stations that`s cover him. Those stations need to
start dropping him. Two have dropped him already. We need to see more
stations dropping him.
Look. Rush Limbaugh clearly has a first amendment right to say what
he thinks. But he doesn`t have a first amendment right to have a radio
station or to be paid by clear channel. That`s not his first amendment
SHARPTON: Well. I think, John, that no one denies his first
amendment right. But we also have the right to say that we`re not going to
buy from people that would finance people calling Georgetown students sluts
because they disagree with them on policy before congress.
So, no one is limiting his rights but consumers have rights as well to
say that what they are going to support and what they`re not going to
support. And advertisers and advertising agencies have rights as well to
say what they want to be associated with. Everyone has rights in this,
JOHN WILSON, AUTHOR, THE MOST DANGEROUS MAN IN AMERICA: Absolutely.
Rush has the right to speak. People have the right to disagree with him.
And everyone has to decide that for themselves if they are going to
continue to support Rush Limbaugh as a listener or as an advertiser, as a
radio station or as clear channel which is owned by Mitt Romney`s former
company, Bain capital. Everyone has a right to speak in this and to
express what they want to say.
And what I think is most important is to make sure that Republican
politicians who embrace Rush Limbaugh are held to account. Are asked
questions about what Rush Limbaugh thinks. Not only about these comments
but about all of the other many offensive comments I document in my book
that he`s made for years and years.
SHARPTON: Now, you have documented a lot in your book, and I`ve done
through the years caught a lot of what he said including when he was going
after the NFL. But, I want to stay on this because I think what is
particularly and uniquely offensive about this is here is a young lady
before Congress expressing a point of view. And because of that, she was
disparaged in the most sexist and the most misogynist way.
We`re not talking here about a person running for office. We`re not
talking here about a person who he may have a policy disagreement with
because they sit in a position over an organization or who have a platform.
This is a student who he doesn`t know that he calls the worst names you can
call a woman because she has the audacity to do what, go before Congress
and express herself? I think that`s what has caused such an outrage and
people like me are saying enough is enough and joining you, Terry, and
N.O.W. in saying this is way over the line.
O`NEILL: Well. You know, reverend, it was way over the line. And
Rush apologized for using two words, but he never apologized for over a
period of three days, nine hours on his radio show, repeatedly talking
about this young woman`s sexual activities, inventing sexual activities
that he accused her of engaging in and then demanding to see videotape of
those sexual activities. It was really depraved is the best way to
describe what he was doing. And he has not apologized for that.
And that`s why it makes it so astonishing that Mitt Romney and Sarah
Palin and Rick Santorum and John Boehner have not condemned him in the
strongest possible terms. You know the idea that they are really afraid of
him, that they are really afraid of Rush Limbaugh. You got to believe that
that`s true because they are soft pedaling it in a situation that clearly
cries out for a robust condemnation.
SHARPTON: Now, John, you wrote a book about Rush, "the most dangerous
man in America. Are the Republican leaders afraid of him? Are they scared
of him? Is that part of why you argue he`s so dangerous? I mean, even
today, let me show you this. The women veterans, votevets.org, call on
armed forces network to drop rush Limbaugh from their programming saying,
quote, "our military depends on troops respecting each other, women and
men. There simply can be no place on the military air waves for sentiments
that would undermine that respect. It isn`t just disrespectful to our
women serving our country but its language that goes it against everything
that makes our military work."
If you have women in the military saying he ought not to be on
military radio, why wouldn`t the Republican leadership, why wouldn`t
conservative candidates that are running in the Republican primary have the
courage to stand up with patriots and women veterans?
WILSON: Well, part of it is certainly that they are afraid of Rush
Limbaugh. They are afraid of alienating him. He`s the most powerful voice
in the conservative movement today.
But it`s also because they embrace a lot of what he believes in. You
have to remember, this is someone in 1992, President George Herbert Walker
Bush carried his bag up to the Lincoln bedroom in 2009. George W. Bush
gave him a birthday cake and sang happy birthday to him in the White House.
These Republicans have embraced what he believes and what he stands
for. And until they are willing to come out and criticize him and say we
don`t believe in what Rush Limbaugh stands for. You have to believe that
there`s that clear consensus between what the Republican politicians are
saying and what Rush Limbaugh says on a daily basis.
Rush Limbaugh may be more than willing to say the controversial things
that Republicans are afraid to say but it appears they really agree with
what Rush Limbaugh thinks.
SHARPTON: Terry O`Neill, John Wilson, thank you both for your time
O`NEILL: Thank you reverend.
SHARPTON: Ahead, this federal judge is back at work a week after his
appalling racist and anti-Obama e-mail surfaces. We`ll talk to a member of
Congress demanding action.
Plus, the big winner on Super Tuesday wasn`t Willard. It was
President Obama. And Mitt`s road ahead isn`t going to get any easier.
And 47 years ago, they marched for the right to vote. They marched
for equality. All this week, we`re here in Alabama marching again for
those voter rights that are under attack again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are one! We are united! We are one nation!
And we are going to keep moving America forward!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: A federal judge in Montana sends a racist e-mail about the
president from his judicial chambers on his official e-mail. It`s
outrageous. How can he be judging others?
We`ll investigate with a member of Congress who wants to get something
done. That`s next.
SHARPTON: Welcome back to this special edition of "Politics Nation"
live from Montgomery, Alabama.
This afternoon in Billings, Montana, federal judge Richard Cebull had
the gall to go back to work sitting in judgment of others, despite growing
calls from across the country for him to resign.
Cebull is the judge who e-mailed a joke suggesting the president`s
late mother had sex with a dog and then tried to explain it by admitting he
was, quote, "anti-Obama". It`s outrageous. The judge tries to spin a
racist e-mail by admitting his political bias?
By our count, Cebull has violated all five rules in the judicial code
of conduct. He failed to uphold personal standards of conduct. He has
failed to promote the integrity of the bench. He`s failed to disqualify
himself amid questions about impartiality. He`s failed to promote the
dignity of the office. And he`s failed to avoid publicly supporting or
opposing a political candidate.
This is a stunning record, and the controversy is growing. 2400
people now have signed an online petition in Montana demanding Cebull
resign. "The New York Times," the "Billings Gazette: and a host of legal
and public interest groups are joining numerous elected officials in saying
Cebull has to go.
I said it the day it broke. I say it again. This judge cannot sit in
his chambers using federal e-mail and send out such ugly, vile things at
public expense. We need to not only have his resignation. We need to find
out who has stood before him and who may have been victimized by his
obvious bias and discrimination.
Let me bring on now joining me is Congressman Steve Cohen, Democrat
from Tennessee who serves on the Judiciary Committee in the house.
Congressman, thank you for being here tonight. Let me get try to it.
Shouldn`t his behavior be investigated by congress?
REP. STEVE COHEN (D-TN), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Chairman Conyers,
former judicial chairman and I, and I`m the ranking member on the courts
committee have asked Chairman Smith to have hearings. Indeed the
definition issue about his continuing on the bench and the effect it will
have on the judiciary. We think hearings should be held and we`re awaiting
chairman smith`s response.
SHARPTON: Now, Chairman Smith is the chairman of the house judiciary.
You and John Conyers have asked for hearings. Assuming that you get
hearings, this judge would then come before the house committee to explain
how he used federal property to distribute these vile and racist e-mails?
COHEN: Well, we certainly could ask him to attend. I don`t think he
would be required to attend. There`s a separation of powers. But I think
if there were hearings, I think he would - I think he`d want to attend and
I think he`d want to give any defense he might have. It certainly looks
indefensible. It`s certainly racist. It`s disgusting. And it doesn`t
reflect well on the bench. And I think that the judge should welcome the
opportunity to clear his name if he can. Otherwise, there`s a stain on his
name as well as the judiciary.
And when you are a judge, you are supposed to be like Caesar`s wife
and be beyond reproach. That`s why the canons exist. And it does seem
like, as you mentioned, he`s violated several of the canons.
SHARPTON: Now congressman, what could be the possible reasoning or
logic that Chairman Smith would not have hearings given the gravity of what
this judge has done?
COHEN: Well, that`s a decision for Chairman Smith to make, and it may
be whatever the agenda is. We don`t have that much of an agenda right now.
Some of the time we have in congress right now, other than having Senator
McConnell`s mission of defeating President Obama, that`s kind of stalled
because they`ve realized that`s hurt the Republicans and they tried to
become more collegial and working with us a little more because it`s hurt
So, I don`t know what Chairman Smith`s position would be. He`s a
gentleman, and I hope that he will do what I think is the best thing for
the judiciary and that`s to have a hearing.
SHARPTON: Now this judge was a Bush appointee and presidents appoint
federal judges. Therefore, is it not fair that we question those running
for president, their opinion of what this judge did to the sitting
president of the United States and said about his late mother?
COHEN: I think it would be an appropriate question indeed. It`s
disrespectful of the office. It`s disrespectful of the constitution. It`s
disrespectful of African-Americans. And it`s disrespectful of women.
Beyond that, there`s not a whole lot left he hasn`t disrespected. But I
think it`s a germane question to any of the Republican candidates who are
running for the opportunity to be on the ballot next fall.
SHARPTON: Congressman Cohen, let me raise this. If you were to get
hearings and had this judge sitting in front of you and you are the ranking
democrat on judiciary in the house, what would you ask Judge Cebull if you
had him sitting in the Judiciary Committee in front of you?
COHEN: I would like to ask him about other incidents that might have
occurred. I`d like to see his other e-mails. He says he -- rarely did he
send the jokes along but this one seems to touch him in a special way.
I mean it was sick when I read the fact he said he was touched and
wanted other people to be touched as he was. I`d like to know what other
e-mails he`s -- jokes he might have e-mailed. What else he uses his e-mail
for and what`s his positions been in the past on civil rights cases, his
record on civil rights cases. His records when and even in Montana I
presume he`s had a diverse group of defendants before him in criminal cases
and how he`s ruled. There`s been any distinction in how he`s judged
African-Americans or Latinos or other minorities before him in criminal
cases to distinguish from Caucasians.
SHARPTON: Now, let me say this to you, congressman, so this might
even help your Chairman Smith understand. There are people across the
political spectrum that has raised this. I have gone to dinner once or
twice with a guy who doesn`t agree with me on anything who to my surprise
came out very publicly and agreed on this. Look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEW HOST: Is this judge fit to serve? See if I
were the judge, Judge Cebull and this is with all due respect, I would
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At least he did try to make some --
O`REILLY: No, no, you can`t do that. You can`t do that. Some things
you just can`t come back from.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Bill O`Reilly has said the judge should resign. Some
things you can`t walk back from. Even Bill O`Reilly can be right on some
issues. But as I always say, congressman, a broke clock is right twice a
Congressman Cohen, thanks so much.
COHEN: Reverend, I just want you to know, I think you look great.
And I think that Rush Limbaugh has been eating too many French fries. Not
many of them slip away from his throat.
SHARPTON: Thank you congressman. At least thank you for my part of
Ahead, Willard Romney squeaks it out again, but can`t close the deal.
He said something today that might surprise you.
Plus, President Obama like you had never seen him before from 21 years
ago, must-see video that surfaced today.
You are watching a special edition of "Politics Nation" live from
Montgomery, Alabama. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: We`re back with a new video of President Obama in law
school days that have popped up, days after we have seen other things
surface. Today online, buzz feed unearth this amazing clip of a 29-year-
old future president speaking at a rally for diversity on the Harvard law
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One of the persons who
spoke at that orientation was Professor Bell. And I remember him going up
to the front and not giving us a lecture but engaging us in a conversation.
And speaking the truth and telling us that he -- to learn at this
place that I carried with me since. He hasn`t done it simply because of
the excellence of his scholarship, although his scholarship has opened up
new visit as and new horizons and changed the standard for what it`s about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The hair and the clothes have changed, but that`s basically
the same speaking style we hear from the president today. But where we see
a blast from the past, the right sees a conspiracy.
Some right wing bloggers claim there`s been some sort of sinister
entity in the video. Yes, right. Nice try, guys. The Republicans should
worry less about the Obama of 1991 and more about the Obama of 2012,
especially after last night`s primaries.
We`ll talk about that next.
SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. Live tonight from near
the statehouse in Montgomery, Alabama. There`s big news about Ohio`s Super
Tuesday results. Forget everything you`ve heard. The real winner in Ohio
was President Barack Obama. That`s right. Steve Bennett from Maddow blog
points out the President received more votes in yesterday`s election than
any of the GOP candidates. That`s thanks to Democrats voting in statewide
elections. Among the Republicans Willard Mitt Romney just barely pulled it
out squeaking by Rick Santorum in a race that left him just as damaged as
The National Review calls him the candidate of eh. The right wing
blog says, Willard is underwhelming. The red state says simply, what a
mess. It`s not going to get any easier for him. He`s about to enter
hostile territory. Over the next week, the GOP race heads to Kansas,
Mississippi and right here to Alabama. Some of the most conservative
states in the country. So while the Republicans duke it out, last night`s
real winner continues to drive home his message as he did today in North
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: We decide what that next
chapter is going to be. And I`m confident working with folks like you, we
can pull together and remind everybody around the world just why it is that
the United States of America is the greatest nation on earth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Joining me now is democratic strategist Tad Devine and
senior advisor for the Kerry and Gore campaigns. And Chip Saltsman, a
republican strategist who was Mike Huckabee`s presidential campaign manager
in 2008. Great to have both of you with us tonight. Let me start with
you, Chip. Should we just name President Obama the winner of the GOP
primary right here and now?
CHIP SALTSMAN, FORMER HUCKABEE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Not so quick. And
again it shocked me that you thought President Obama was the big winner
last night. Look. I would agree. It was maybe not so Super Tuesday
yesterday. It was just OK Tuesday. This is still a tough primary. It is
republican on republican action which I know you guys love to watch. But
at the end of the day, I still think this is going to be a stronger, better
nominee for having gone through this. But you all enjoy it now.
SHARPTON: But Chip, I mean, the President did get more votes in Ohio
than the Republicans did. I realize that some Republicans, the most votes
don`t count, but he literally got more votes yesterday in Ohio.
SALTSMAN: Not you add up all the candidates. He just got more votes
than one of the candidates if you take that. All the other votes, more
republican votes yesterday than Barack Obama did. And if you want to talk
about that, we can go to Oklahoma. We actually lost a delegate it looks
like in Oklahoma. So, he`s not going to get all the delegates in the
democratic convention now.
SHARPTON: Oh, OK. I`m sure we`ll be scared that somebody.
SALTSMAN: You never know.
SHARPTON: .will be voting that delegate somewhere. Let`s be real
straight up. Isn`t Mitt Romney weakened after yesterday? He can`t close
the deal, Chip.
SALTSMAN: Well --
SHARPTON: Let`s go to Tad on this.
SHARPTON: Tad, let me ask you first before going back -- Tad, he
can`t close the deal. I mean, is he damaged or what?
TAD DEVINE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Reverend, I think he`s very
damaged. I mean, I think Romney is losing more than he`s winning. The
longer this process goes on, the more he falls with voters. And it`s
measured by every empirical data available to us. He`s behind with
independent voters now. Now, his favorable is 18 points lower than his
unfavorable with independent voters. He`s losing ground with women. He`s
losing ground with Latinos because he`s taken stances on immigration.
That`s why he`s only 14 percent with Latinos in a poll that came out
recently. The longer this goes on and the Republicans ironically designed
this nominating process to go on for a long time. What they`ve done is
they`ve designed a process to hurt Romney, to hurt the others and to make
it easier for President Obama to win re-election.
SHARPTON: Now, Chip, when you look at the fact that if you look at
favorable image ratings for recent presidential nominees, McCain was a plus
20. Kerry plus 12. Bush was a plus 11, Romney is a negative 11. He spent
all of this money, four to one in Ohio and had to stay up all night to
squeak by Santorum who he did every ad you could think of. The man just
cannot energize the party and can`t seem to get the conservative base of
the party with him.
SALTSMAN: Well, no, look. There is no doubt that that is going to be
a challenge for Mitt Romney. And if you are looking for me to say that I
think Mitt Romney is the perfect candidate, I`m not going to say that. If
you are looking for me to say, he`s going to wrap up this nomination next
week, he`s not. I mean, he`s still got a long way to go. He`s still got a
long way to go to be a better candidate. Like I said, I think this process
will help him be a better candidate. He`s going to have a tough couple of
weeks coming up in March. I`m going to call it March madness for Mitt
because this is not a good map for him over the next couple of weeks.
SHARPTON: Well, now let me ask you, Tad, if you were dealing with
this campaign right now, what could he possibly do that would assure him
this nomination without a real fight at the convention? Because if it
keeps going the way it is, he will not reach the number necessary, though
he may be ahead. Is that enough to go into the convention and say I`m
ahead, therefore, I should have the nomination or does he have to really
pick up some momentum and hit the magic number of delegates?
DEVINE: Well, I think what Romney is going to find out is, if you
don`t get a big lead, many more delegates, and 50 percent of the delegates,
you are in big trouble. And it`s not just the lead that the first place
candidate has on the second place candidate in this process. If you don`t
command a nominating majority at a convention and all of your opponents
together have, as many or more delegates than you, you cannot control that
convention, you will not be able to put your stamp on it, you will not be
able to get your message out. And, remember, George McGovern who gave his
acceptance speech at 2:30 in the morning when he was nominated in 1972 for
the Democratic Party. When you lose control of the convention, you lose
control of your message and you`ll going to lose control of the campaign.
That`s what`s happening to Romney today.
SHARPTON: Chip, is it too late for somebody else to step in? If it
looks as though you can`t put Mr. Romney back together again, can somebody
come out of nowhere and become a very strong challenge to Mr. Romney for
SALTSMAN: Yes, I don`t think that will happen just because all the
primaries have already locked up when you can sign up for them. And I
think he will get to the 1144 to win the nomination. That is my sense.
It`s not going to be pretty. It`s not going to be fun for us. But
ultimately, I think he gets there. Now, do we put humpty-dumpty back
together if he`s too damaged? I don`t know. But like I said, I believe
that this process will ultimately make him a better candidate. Today it
doesn`t look like that necessarily, but I think ultimately it will.
SHARPTON: But Tad, how long do Republicans feel ultimately is on the
calendar? I heard a year ago ultimately he`d be better. I heard through
the first primaries ultimately we`re in March. I mean, when is it going to
get better? I listened to him last night and he didn`t sound much better
DEVINE: Yes, I agree with you, Reverend. I mean, the truth is, I
agree with Charles Krauthammer who last night said, Romney is getting
weaker and weaker every week. I mean, you know, that`s the problem. And
this process, when you win, and when your party starts to get behind you,
you are supposed to get stronger, you`re supposed to get bigger. Romney
seems to think winning the nomination is like going out and gathering fruit
in a field, putting it in a basket and then bringing it to market. It`s
not like that. You got to inspire people. You get them to follow you.
They have to believe in you. And he`s doing none of that. People are not
-- he`s not connecting with people. In fact, very conservative voters.
The base of his party are supporting him in lower numbers now than they did
at the beginning of the process. So, there`s nothing but trouble ahead for
Romney I think as long as he keeps on a course of a very negative campaign
with no positive message and no vision for the future.
SHARPTON: Well, Tad Devine and Chip Saltsman, thanks for your time
tonight. By the way, Chip, I`m here in Alabama until Friday for the March.
Send me a Romney button. Maybe I`ll go in a few conservative areas and see
if I can help you guys out.
SALTSMAN: I`ll send you the list.
SHARPTON: No, send me a button. I`ll wear it on my lapel. I`ve got
a few places I can go to breakfast. I`m sure it will help somebody out.
Forty seven years ago in Alabama, people were beaten with Billy clubs,
attacked with teargas and murdered for fighting for the right to vote.
Today, we find ourselves under attack again. Voter I.D. laws are
suppressing voters, including right here in Alabama. That`s why we`re
marching again all week. I have some questions for the local
representative who introduced the voter I.D. bill here, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., 1929-1968: This will be the day when all of
God`s children will be able to sing with new meaning, "My Country `tis of
thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
(crowd singing) No more crying, we are going to see the king, no more
crying there, we are going to see the king. Hallelujah. Hallelujah.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Welcome back to a special edition of POLITICS NATION live
from Montgomery, Alabama which on Tuesday will be the next battleground in
the GOP presidential race. It`s already on the front lines of a battle
over voting rights. Last year, Alabama was among 34 states pushing voter
I.D. laws. Republicans managed to get it passed in June. This year, 31
other states will try to follow Alabama`s example and put voter I.D. laws
on the books. This is why we`re marching all week from Selma to
Montgomery. We want to honor those who fought for voting rights in 1965.
And highlight the fight today against a new wave of laws that suppress the
Joining me now is Alabama State Representative Kerry Rich who
sponsored the voter I.D. law that passed last year. Thanks for being here.
STATE REP. KERRY RICH (R-AL), SPONSORED VOTER LAW: Good to be here
SHARPTON: Can you really say that there`s been major voter fraud and
it`s a major issue here in Alabama when there`s only been three cases in
the last three years?
RICH: Well, that was three cases in the last few years, but over the
years, there`s been a lot of situations of voter fraud in Alabama. In
various parts of the state.
SHARPTON: All right. But in 2003, you made a voter I.D. law that
would have dealt with all of that. Since 2003, you`ve only had three
cases. Now the difference, the reason why we`re questioning this, in 2003,
you passed a voter I.D. law that said you could use your utility bill, bank
statement, hunting, fishing license, Medicaid/Medicare, college I.D.,
military I.D., employer I.D., Social Security card, passport or birth
certificate. That was the law. Since then you`ve only had three cases.
So, why do you now eliminate all of this and say you`ve got to have.
RICH: Well, you`ve had only three cases but you`ve had areas where
there`s been discussion. For instance, the Justice Department, they sent
monitors into Alabama to monitor the election in 2008 based on possible
voter fraud. You had.
SHARPTON: They might have sent it on possible other things, too. You
had three cases. They could have sent them in saying that there was all
kinds of stuff, right?
RICH: Well, let me just quote Artur Davis. That`s the former black
congressman from Alabama. He represented Selma, represented a portion of
Montgomery and a good man. But, anyway, he said I have changed my mind on
voter I.D. laws. He said, I think Alabama did the right thing passing one.
He went on to say he said when I was congressman, I took the path of least
resistance on this subject. And without any evidence to back it up. What
this is about is it`s about protecting people`s vote. If you look at our
law, our law is patterned almost identical to the Georgia law. The Georgia
law has already been approved by the U.S. Justice Department. There`s also
been laws in Indiana and also in Rhode Island. Southern states are not the
only states that are passing these laws.
SHARPTON: But this is not the Southern thing I agree with you and
neither does Artur Davis changing his mind. He was running for governor
and lost pretty sizable, even though I agree --
RICH: Well, he wrote this after that.
SHARPTON: Yes, I understand. But what I`m saying to you is
notwithstanding. You are -- without a problem. You had a voter I.D. law
in 2003 that let you use all of this. Since then you`ve had three cases.
You still haven`t shown me where the widespread fraud. It`s like me saying
my nose is running and you give me surgery. There is no problem of voter
RICH: Well, there has been voter fraud over the years in Alabama.
SHARPTON: You just didn`t catch it?
RICH: Well, you don`t catch a lot of things that happen as far as.
SHARPTON: But you change the law even though there`s no fraud.
RICH: Change the law to make it tighter.
SHARPTON: Let me give you another thing that`s curious to me,
Representative Rich. The three cases, none of them had anything to do with
voter fraud at the polls in terms of I.D. one was a guy that was convicted
of buying votes. Another was an absentee ballot fraud and the last was an
absentee ballot fraud. None of it had anything to do with somebody going
to the polls trying to be somebody else. So, where does your law address
even these cases?
RICH: Let me tell you what, Artur Davis said again. He said voting
the names of dead and the nonexistence and the too mentally impaired to
function canceled out the votes of citizens who are exercising their
SHARPTON: That`s right.
RICH: That`s suppression by any light. If you doubt it exists, I
don`t, he says. I`ve heard the peddlers of these ballots brag about it.
I`ve been asked to provide the funds for it, and I am confident it has
changed at least a few close local elections.
SHARPTON: Well, let me tell you.
RICH: Nothing`s happened.
SHARPTON: Let me tell you that nine million people have voted in this
state. You have come up with three cases. And if Artur Davis was asked by
somebody to provide money for fraud, he should have turned them in.
RICH: If you believe --
SHARPTON: But since no one was turned in and the three cases that we
did had nothing to do with I.D., the only thing that someone could suspect
is that it was done to disenfranchise people. Do you realize five million
people may not be able to vote because nationwide these laws are going to
RICH: I just totally disagree with you. First of all --
SHARPTON: We`re talking facts.
RICH: No, you`re not talking facts at all.
SHARPTON: There are more than three cases. Is that a fact or not?
RICH: Well, there has been more than three cases.
SHARPTON: Well, then that`s a fact.
RICH: But you aren`t disenfranchising five million people.
SHARPTON: The Brennan study has done this study, with people that
don`t have the I.D. will number five million. The fact is nine million
have voted in this state. You admitted that there`s only three. You`ve
RICH: Have you looked at the facts of what this bill really does?
SHARPTON: Again, it`s like really showing me the facts of surgery
when I have a nose run. The bill is answering a problem that doesn`t
exist. It`s about voter I.D. You already have a voter I.D. law.
RICH: Well, I can tell you --
SHARPTON: What`s wrong with the utility bills and those that you put
through in 2003?
RICH: It doesn`t have a photo. When a person goes into the polls and
they vote, the person standing behind the counter looking at the voter
registration list should know that that`s the person that they say they
are. And the only way -- and the only way you can be certain of that is to
have a photo to make sure that that`s the person.
SHARPTON: You don`t have a lot of people coming to you saying the
wrong person did it. You have all of these ways to establish I.D. The
only reason you`d want to change it is too many people are voting.
RICH: No, that`s not true at all. It is to -- do you believe that
Artur Davis, that he wants to disenfranchise people?
SHARPTON: I don`t know. I`m not talking to Artur Davis. I`m talking
SHARPTON: And you can only come up with three cases out of 9 million.
I`ll tell you what, keep trying. We`re talking about the time. State
Representative Kerry Rich, thank you for the time tonight. I really
appreciate you coming on.
RICH: Thank you.
SHARPTON: We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: Welcome back to Montgomery, Alabama.
Joining me now is Lee Saunders, secretary treasurer of the American
Federation of State County and Municipal Employees. The nation`s largest
union for public service workers. Thank you for joining me, Lee.
LEE SAUNDERS, SECRETARY TREASURER, AFSCME: Good evening, Al. Good
SHARPTON: Now, today has been the emphasis is on labor. The
secretary of labor speaking at the rally tonight and this march against
voter suppression and immigration rights. The labor movement has really
been the only organized force to help defend a lot of people in the country
that is under assault from well-financed right wing operations. The Koch
Brothers and others. Is this why they`ve targeted to try to break the
unions around the country in your opinion?
SAUNDERS: Well, there`s no question about that. And they are doing
it in a very coordinated fashion, whether it`s been in Wisconsin or Ohio or
Indiana or Florida. They know that we have some resources. They also know
that we are able to organize on the ground. So they believe that we`re
standing in their way. To take over this country essentially. And we`ve
got stop them. But what`s important, Al, and you and I have talked about
this before is that we`ve got to grow our movement. We`ve got to develop
and grow a Main Street movement in this country that not only consists of
labor unions but community activists and civil rights activist and a faith-
based community. We`ve got to fight back and make our voices heard like
never before. The 99 percent has got to be heard.
SHARPTON: Now, Charles Koch, at Secret of Fundraising Meeting, a
strategist seminar last year where he compared President Obama to Saddam
Hussein in soliciting donations from hundreds of wealthy guests. Let me
let you hear what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES KOCH, CHAIRMAN, KOCH INDUSTRIES: We have Saddam Hussein.
This is the mother of all wars we`ve got in the next 18 months. For the
life or death of this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: He called this election the mother of all wars. And the
labor movement is about the only force on this side of the political
spectrum that seems to have the infrastructure and resources to fight back.
SAUNDERS: We`re going to be engaged. We`re going to be spending
resources, we`re going to be mobilizing and educating our members all over
the country. But we`re also going to be organizing communities all over
the country. I mean, this is too important. And this election for 2012.
Not only the presidential election but the elections that are taking place
at the state and local government levels are extremely important. You`ve
got Koch, you`ve got Karl Rove. They`re willing to spend millions and
millions and millions of dollars. And we can`t match that but we can match
it with people power.
SHARPTON: Why is the fight for voter rights in this month, this week
that your union has partnered with all of us in civil rights, why is that
so important and why are you also concerned about the immigration rights
problem here in the south?
SAUNDERS: It`s all the same thing. Whether it`s the fight for civil
rights, whether it`s the fight for voting rights, whether it`s the fight
for immigrant rights, whether it`s the fight for collective bargaining
rights. These folks are trying to take our freedoms away from us. Steal
our voices away from us. And that`s why it`s so important that we educate.
Remember that old saying during slavery days. Each one, teach one. We`ve
got to -- those who were able to read in the slavery times, they were --
their charge was to teach another how to read. We`ve got to do the same
kind of thing. Only we`ve got to teach 20 and 30 and 40. We`ve got to
mobilize our communities. We`ve got to talk to our folks because this is
too important for us not to be involved.
SHARPTON: Now, you went into Ohio and I and others supported you.
Sb-5. So, you are saying to a lot of the governors that came in,
Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana that you are -- the labor movement is alive and
well. You actually are beating back a lot of the right wingers that came
in and went directly after the labor movement.
SAUNDERS: We are alive and well. And we won in Ohio, we just won in
Florida where they are trying to privatize public services. We beat back
the governors` attempts there. We`re organizing like never before. And
I`ve traveled all over the country. Sometimes with you. And we see that
there`s a new spirit to organize. People are listening to us. And they
want to be involved. They want to be engaged because they believe that
this is such a serious fight.
SHARPTON: Well, Lee Saunders, thank you and thank AFSCME for standing
up and being with us all this week and for all that you do and ask me does
with other unions.
SAUNDERS: Thanks for having me.
SHARPTON: Thank you for watching. Tonight we`re going forward all
week. And stay tuned. We have a lot for you the rest of the week. Thanks
for watching tonight, though.
I`m Al Sharpton. Please join us back here in Alabama from Alabama
tomorrow night. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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