Guests: Ed Rendell, Tracie McMillan; Alexandra Petri; Karen Bass, Nia-Malika Henderson,
Dana Milbank, Richard Cohen, Tyrese Gibson, Arlene Holt Baker
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: You are looking at live pictures
from the civil rights memorial center in Montgomery, Alabama, a monument to
the heroes who lost their lives in the struggle for equality in this
Welcome to a special edition of "Politics Nation." I`m Al Sharpton.
All this week, we`re retracing the route of the historic 1965 march
from Selma to Montgomery, a watershed moment in the civil rights movement.
Tonight, we`ll have new details about the rise of hate groups in
America and the effort to roll back voting rights. We`ll also have an
exclusive interview with the actor and singer, Tyrese, who has been
marching with us down here in Alabama. And we`ll have some politics for
President Obama released a new campaign video today that has
Republicans quaking in their boots. But we start tonight with the GOP war
on women`s health.
Today is international women`s day. And Rush Limbaugh celebrated by
going back on the air and making sexist remarks about yet another woman
today. But his initial slut comment really came from a war on women`s
health, raging in statehouses all across this country and in Washington.
Today, Republicans in Congress celebrated women`s day by debating a
bill to roll back abortion rights.
Also today, we`re learning we`re on a track for another record year
for abortion restrictions. A spokesman for the Guttmacher says, quote, "we
are looking at about 430 abortion restrictions that have been introduced
into state legislatures this year which is pretty much in the same ballpark
And 2011 was already a record-setting year for the anti-choice laws.
We saw 92 laws passed in 24 states. It`s a huge jump from what we saw
passed in 2010 and far more than we`ve ever seen in one year since the
`80s. But the fight is on.
In Virginia, Governor McDonnell just signed a mandatory ultrasound
bill into law. Ignoring those more than 1,000 protesters came out to
oppose that law over the last month.
Right here in Alabama, protesters came out today in opposition to a
similar law making its way through the statehouse. And last night,
lawmakers in Georgia walked out of the state Senate as Republicans passed a
law saying employees of religious institutions can`t have access to birth
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NON ORROCK (D), STATE SENATOR, GEORGIA: Here come the right wing
shock troops marching, marching, marching, and women are on the bull`s-eye
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: And day after day, Rush Limbaugh is fanning the flames.
Today, he launched yet another sexist attack accusing a "Washington Post"
reporter of not getting her facts straight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO SHOW HOST: Today is a worldwide holiday. Well,
I don`t know holiday. But it`s international women`s day. Alexandra
Petri, "Washington Post," has got the snarky, lying, full of holes so-
called report today.
Miss Petri, I don`t know who feeds you your information. I have a
pretty good guess, but you might want to double check here because you`ve
written something that`s patently false. It`s an out and out lie complete
with your b-i itchy opinion in it and it is untrue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: It`s now been over a week since he first called a law
student a slut. At last count, at least 50 advertisers have pulled their
ads. Today the American heart association and home depot have joined the
list. And over a week later, we haven`t seen one candidate, not one, step
up and truly repudiate these attacks.
Inappropriate isn`t good enough, Speaker Boehner. Not the language
I`d use doesn`t come close, Willard. Where is the outrage? Where is the
leadership in the Republican Party? Where is the leadership from the
Republican candidates who want to lead this country?
Joining me now is Congresswoman Karen Bass, Democrat from California.
And Alexandra Petri, "the Washington Post" editorial writer who Rush
attacked today. And, Tracie McMillan, author of the American war of
eating. She was also attacked by Rush this week. Thanks to all of you for
joining me tonight.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks for having us on.
SHARPTON: Let me start with you, Congressman Bass. Congressman Bass,
what do you say about the GOP leadership refusing to denounce Rush
REP. KAREN BASS (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, I think it`s absolutely
inappropriate and absurd. They need to be on the floor. They need to be
holding press conferences. They need to say that this type of speech which
in my opinion is hate speech needs to stop or he needs to be off the air.
I think that this is the type of thing that leads to violence against
women. This is international women`s day. And so the way he acknowledges
it is by using the "b" word in reference to a woman? What I`m very glad
about, though, is that there are 50 sponsors that have pulled out. I think
there needs to be triple that. And I think the stations need to begin to
throw him off the air. That is the only solution to Rush Limbaugh because
he`s clearly out of control.
SHARPTON: Alexandra, he used the "b" word in referring to your work
calling it snarky and, I mean, how do you feel on international women`s day
being called and your work being referred to in such a manner by Rush
ALEXANDRA PETRI, REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: I mean, well, it`s a
weird thing on international women`s day. I would say it`s a weird thing
to be referred to that on a Thursday. It`s not usually how I spend my
days. But it`s -- you know there are some monosyllables that really pack a
push. I think the "b" word is one of them. I think the other comment that
he used is also - that`s a tough one. And you know you don`t like being
called that. It`s not a civil way of discussing things. If he had issues
with the piece, he could have said that without going ahead and, you know,
using the ad homonym attacks against me. I offered him a sandwich. I re-
iterate that offer on the air. I think if we get to know people personally
as opposed to using rude words to describe them, maybe things will get
SHARPTON: Now, Tracie, he attacked you a little more -- less profane,
but an attack nonetheless. You are an authorette (ph). Let me let you
listen to the attack Mr. Limbaugh put on you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIMBAUGH: Now, who is the "Suzy authorette"? It doesn`t matter. Now
we have a book by a woman named Tracy McMillan, "the American way of
eating" which has, according to "The New York Times," as its premise, that
only the fancy and the snobs get good food. What is it with all of these
young single white women, overeducated, doesn`t mean intelligent. For
example, Tracie McMillan, the author of this book --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: These are white women, young, single, overeducated. I
mean, what -- this whole misogynist, this whole using profanity or other
characteristics. I mean, I`m more interested and more disturbed and,
frankly, outraged by this sort of anti-woman having their own mind and
ability to express themselves attitude that he is openly propagating that
legislators are using that climate to legislate in.
TRACIE MCMILLAN, AUTHOR, THE AMERICAN WAY OF EATING: Right. Well, I
think what we`re seeing here isn`t so much an engagement with the ideas of
my book because Limbaugh clearly didn`t read it, but I think he`s really
intimidated by the idea that there are women out there who go put
themselves through school, get an education and work hard and go out and do
their job, right? So, I did a book where I reported by talking to American
families about food in class so it sort of Michael Palm and Barbara Erin
write in one book. And I did my job. And I don`t know why Rush or anybody
else would actually really have a problem with the idea that a woman works
hard and gets a college education, unless they just don`t think that women
are supposed to do those things.
SHARPTON: Now Congresswoman Bass, Senator Patty Murray took on the
Republicans for waging a war against women`s health in congress, too. And
I think that what is real troubling as I just stated is that this whole
limelight of misogyny is really being demonstrated in statehouses across
the country. Let me show you what Senator Murray said.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D), WASHINGTON: Now they campaigned across the
country in the last campaign across the country in the last election on a
platform of jobs and the economy. But the first three bills they
introduced when they got here were direct attacks on women`s health.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: How do you respond to that, and how democratic lawmakers
around the country, including your colleagues in the house going to deal
with these record-setting attacks on women`s right to choose, women`s right
to decide and women`s right to really act as intelligent human beings?
BASS: Well, you should certainly know that the Democrats in the house
have been very active, speaking out, holding forums and town hall meetings
in their community, getting on the air because this is really a frightening
And then from a simple political side of it, you know, who do you
think the majority of the voters in this country are? So I think it`s
really outrageous. And for a party that talks about small government and
not government intervention, how can you tell a doctor that they are
supposed to do a very specific type of exam on a woman? So, now the
government is telling doctors what they are supposed to do? It`s really
It`s as though they want to roll back the clock to the 1930s. They
want women to be at home bare foot and pregnant, I suppose. But we know
that this is a consistent ideological theme. It`s consistent with them
trying to attack voting rights. It`s consistent with the attacks on the
environment. So to attack women, I think this is all part of a right wing
ideological agenda that starts here in the house and goes throughout our
country. It`s very frightening.
But one thing I`m very clear about, we need 25 seats to take back the
house in November and they better be sure that we`re going to make sure the
women voters understand what`s been taking place here in Washington, D.C.
SHARPTON: Alexandra, as these flames are being fanned by Rush and
others, is it going to help the Republicans lose those 25 seats? Is there
going to be a backlash by women that are not going, to as Congresswoman
Bass said go back to the `30s and be treated as less than intelligent human
beings that can make their own decisions, that they aren`t created to be
barefoot and pregnant as she said?
PETRI: Well, I don`t know about that whole thing. I think certainly
if you quoted anyone on the street and said, hey, would you like to go back
to the 1930s and wander around barefoot and pregnant or the 1880s or
whatever time period, most people tend to be opposed to that sort of
retrograde time travel, especially when it comes to sort of sticking
strange implements into them.
But I don`t know. I think one of the things with this whole war on
women is that women do come from all kinds of political backgrounds and
just because I happen to be, you know, equipped with a double x chrome zone
rather than an x and a y doesn`t necessarily predict my voting habits.
But when you go in and you start, you know, jabbing strange things and
reverting to other time periods, it makes it seem as though that`s really
the only issue happening? There are all kinds of stuff going on. There`s
the economy. There`s - you know, I`m sure if we look out. There are many
more issues that women care about. I think Ann Romney said what women care
about is jobs. Then instead, we`re being forced to look at our, you know,
uteri. It seems very odd.
SHARPTON: Tracie, is this unhealthy to try and demonize and denigrate
educated women that may be pursuing their own life careers? I mean, are we
setting a climate here that is really unhealthy for young women in this
country to grow in -- up in and to find their own self definition in life?
MCMILLAN: Well, I think it`s unhealthy for anyone, not just young
women right? Like I feel like education is a real American value. So it`s
pretty un-American to say that half the population shouldn`t bother getting
educated. And it would be just as damaging if we said that about men.
And, you know, particularly if we`re thinking about Americans, like
being able to compete in a global economy right? Like low-wage jobs are
really hard and don`t usually pay well. The easiest way to get out of a
low-wage job is to get more education and training whether that`s
vocational or going to college. So I think anyone calling for less
education, that`s a huge problem.
SHARPTON: Congresswoman Karen Bass, Alexandra Petri and Tracie
McMillan, thanks to all of you for your time tonight. And thanks for
BASS: Thank you for your work.
MCMILLAN: Thank you so much.
PETRI: Thank you so much.
SHARPTON: Ahead, they hope Americans forget that President Obama
saved this economy from falling off the cliff. We`ll have a first look at
a new Obama campaign video that show exactly how the president is going to
run for re-election.
Plus, the right wing`s new conspiracy theory about some old Obama
video, they say the president was a radical years ago. Nice try, guys.
And 47 years ago, people were killed here in Alabama fighting for the
right to vote. Today, we continued marching here in Alabama to make sure
everyone gets a fair shake.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like so many people come to me and say, we are
standing on your shoulders because of what you have done. But you know, we
laid the foundation, but what we need is not for them to stand --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: You are watching a special edition of "Politics Nation"
live from Montgomery.
SHARPTON: We`re live in Montgomery, Alabama, tonight, talking about
voting rights, talking about justice. And we`ll talk live with actor and
entertainer Tyrese who is here marching with us to protect our voting
SHARPTON: We`re back on "Politics Nation" with the Republican
presidential race which is going south, literally, the candidates spent the
day in Mississippi and here in Alabama courting some of the country`s most
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now you have presidential
candidates traipsing through Alabama. Everybody wanted to have a little
piece of your ear in Alabama which is, you know, the heart of the south.
The conservative, greatest part of this country that understands what made
this country great.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: In fact, Santorum is going so far right that today he
actually called in to a notorious anti-gay radio host who once suggested
that homosexuality caused the holocaust.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANTORUM: The president doesn`t believe that the constitution means
what it`s printed to say. What it means whatever the president wants it to
mean. Again, I go back to the difference between, you know, a free people
and a king or an emperor trying to dictate. And we have a president who
believes he`s more of an emperor than a president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The president is more like an emperor than a president?
These candidates are willing to say anything to reach the extreme base.
And it`s crippling the Republicans for November. Even Mitt Romney`s
advisers realize it. They say Santorum and Gingrich should get out of the
race because, quote, "the only person`s odds of winning they are increasing
are President Barack Obama`s."
Joining me now is former Pennsylvania governor, Ed Rendell, now an NBC
News political analyst. Governor, thanks for coming on tonight.
ED RENDELL, NBC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, reverend.
SHARPTON: I want to show you something Karl Rove wrote in today`s
"Wall Street Journal." He says, quote, "Every Republican running for
president got something on super Tuesday making it likely the GOP race goes
on for months, not weeks."
Could Republicans give president Obama any greater gift than a race
drawn out for months, governor?
RENDELL: Well, Reverend, let me say this. This is a rare moment, but
I absolutely agree with Karl Rove. This is -- the president couldn`t ask
for anything more. And for this race to go on into May and June, and in to
Pennsylvania, California, New Jersey, that would be great because the
candidates continue to chop themselves up, number one. And number two,
they continue to make stupid statements. And the more stupid statements
they make the more baggage they`ll have when the fall campaign starts.
SHARPTON: Now, Romney`s camp is actively arguing no other candidate
can win the nomination like to a political. The nomination is
impossibility for Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich. These guys, it`s going
to take some part of it, but it`s going to take some act of God to get
whether w where they need to be on the nomination prize. So is it that
these guys don`t believe that or is it they are driven by something else?
Why do you think they won`t get out of the race, or do you think eventually
RENDELL: Well, two reasons. Number one, Newt Gingrich uses this as a
way to feed his ego whether he has a chance or not, he still wants the
attention. Number two, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich know they may not
be able to get the necessary votes to be nominated but they think that
together they might be able to deny Mitt Romney 50 percent.
And then if Mitt Romney doesn`t have 50 percent going into Tampa at
the convention, then it`s very likely all heck, could break loose and who
knows who winds up as the nominee. That`s their strategy.
Can Santorum or Gingrich get the 1140 they need in delegates? No.
But can they keep Romney from being at 1140, possibly. It depends on what
happens in the primaries in the next several weeks.
SHARPTON: Now isn`t it also so that the more they fight and the more
they continue attacking Romney, this continues to tear him down and erode
some of his support for the general election if, in fact, he`s successful?
Listen to how Santorum keeps swinging back at Romney. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANTORUM: What won`t they resort to, to try to bully their way
through this race? You know if the governor thinks he`s now ordained by
God to win, then, let`s just have it out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: I mean this can`t be helpful taking shots. The governor
thinks he`s ordained by God. The later and later we help hearing this, the
more they lessen the time period that Romney is going to have to try to
refute some of this negative stuff.
RENDELL: I think that`s a very good point, Al. Let`s assume Super
Tuesday had ended it. Then all of the attacks on Romney, all of the
beatings he`s taken, a lot of it self-inflicted, there would be time for
that to sort of erode and fade into the background. And if he gave a good
speech at the convention, he could start off the fall campaign, maybe even
close to even with the president.
The longer this stretches out. And, remember, we`ve got primaries in
New Jersey and California in June. The longer this stretches out, the
worse it is because there`s less recovery time. It`s like an athlete with
an ACL. You want to give that athlete the maximum recovery time.
Governor Romney if this goes into California, New Jersey, is not going
to have that recovery time. It`s going to be less than two months and Lord
knows he`s got terrible battering so far. And he`s, of course, given a
terrible battering as well. So I think it will do damage. And, look.
There`s no sign that this is going to let up. There is no sign that
Senator Santorum or speaker Gingrich is going to get out of the race,
SHARPTON: Governor Ed Rendell. Thanks for your time tonight.
RENDELL: Thanks, Al. Have a good night.
SHARPTON: Still ahead, we`re here in Alabama marching from Selma to
Montgomery to try to protect gains of the civil rights movement. Actor and
singer Tyrese has been marching with us. He joins me live.
And a special preview of President Obama`s plan to beat Republicans in
November. And he`ll talk about the economy and Osama bin Laden.
You`re watching a special edition of "Politics Nation." live from
SHARPTON: We`re live here at the civil rights memorial center in
Montgomery, Alabama, a monument to the sacrifices of the heroes in the
civil rights movement. This week, we are retracing the 1965 historic march
from Selma to Montgomery to honor and protect their legacy. March resumed
today at mile marker 120 along highway 80, a public effort to re-focus the
nation`s attention on the fight for civil rights.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m here to make history to fight for my
forefathers. Just like my heroes. Just like my mom and dad who marched
with Dr. King.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: This country is still headed in the wrong
direction. I`m going to do whatever I can to make sure that`s not lost in
all this madness.
(Protesters) They say get back. We say fight back. They say get
back. We say fight back. They say get back. We say fight back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: We marched today for voter rights against voter I.D. laws
and against some of the worst immigration laws in the country that has now
been passed by the Alabama legislature. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis joined
us as we marched today with many anti-immigration groups. We`re fighting
for civil rights for everybody. You can`t have civil rights for anyone
unless you have it for everyone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The stock market plunges. The worst single day
drop ever. The Dow dropped another 678 points today. This was the worst
week ever for the market.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Remember those days in 2008 when Barack Obama took office?
A few months later the country was on the verge of economic catastrophe.
Republicans are doing everything they can to make you forget it. And pin
all the economic blame on President Obama. But the President is setting
the record straight with a new documentary narrated by Tom Hanks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: How do we understand this President and his time in
office? Do we look at the day`s headlines or do we remember what we as a
country have been through?
AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: The president-elect is
here in Chicago and he`s named the members of the economic team and they
all fly in for the first big briefing on the economy.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: What was described in that meeting was an economic
crisis beyond anything anybody had imagined.
PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: Our time of standing pat, of
protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions, that time
has surely passed.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: If we don`t do this now, it will be a generation
before 30 million people have health insurance.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: If the auto industry goes down, what happens to
America`s manufacturing base? What happens to jobs in America? What
happens to the whole Midwest?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Joining me now, Nia-Malika Henderson, national reporter for
"The Washington Post." And Dana Milbank, political columnist for "The
Washington Post." Nia-Malika, let me start with you. The Republicans want
Americans to forget just how bad things were. I mean, don`t they?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, "THE WASHINGTON POST": In some ways they do.
And then that`s the point this documentary seems to make. And make pretty
effectively in a very dramatic, slick Hollywood-type production. That
things were very, very bad when this President took office. The nation was
losing something like 700,000 jobs a month when Obama took office. We`ll
get some new job numbers tomorrow. But I think this is a very effective
way that the President can really argue his case and argue the case for his
re-election. We`ve seen I think in some ways that the White House had seen
a lot of the narrative to Republicans. But again, I think we see the
President here really giving his base a reason to get fired up and get
ready to go for this election.
SHARPTON: Dana, he also, unlike when he ran in 2008, will have a
record that he can run on and taking the Bikini shot 23 straight months of
private sector job growths. Chart saying, weekly job claims have been
steadily falling since the start of the stimulus. Full screen here is
really, we can call it the achiever in chief. Affordable care act. Ended
"Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell." Stopped depending -- defending domain court,
Dodd/Frank financial reform, Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Consumer
Financial Protection Bureau. Ended the war in Iraq. Bin Laden mission.
It goes on and on. So is it the Republicans kind of over-jumping the
runway when they act as though he did nothing when he can specifically list
categorically some achievements, whether you agree with the policy or not.
They have, in fact, been achieved?
DANA MILBANK, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, of course, Reverend. But,
you know, what are the Republicans going to do? They`ve got to play the
hand that they`ve been dealt. And now that the economy is beginning to
move up, they have a very difficult time of it. I think what you are
seeing in this video is the beginning of a morning in America campaign that
things have turned a corner. That things are getting better. He can make
that case. It`s difficult to make the case to say, hey, things would have
been worse if we hadn`t done this because that`s more hypothetical. But
this is only half of the campaign here. You know, this is the morning in
America. And you`ll going to see some other videos down the road that are
going to look more like Freddy Krueger. And those are going to be the
videos about Mitt Romney or whoever else is lucky enough to be the
republican nominee because that`s really the other half of this. And
they`ll just have to make that guy look a whole lot worse than President
SHARPTON: Now, Nia-Malika in line with that, the Republicans and the
right wing have taken a peculiar thing of just trying to find anything to
make an issue. Let me show you. Sean Hannity treated a video of a young
Barack Obama hugging a so-called controversial black professor like it was
a big deal. Let me show you this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Let`s watch this.
OBAMA: Open up your hearts and your minds to the words of Professor
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
HANNITY: Now that hug and the President`s association with the
radical professor like Bell is no doubt going to become a hot topic in
coming days. What are we to gain from this? Looking at a controversial
professor, he is a little younger here, is it more controversial that he
hung out with Ayers and Dohrn later in life or Jeremiah Wright or is this
just a bigger picture, a broader pattern?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: But front line Nia-Malika had this tape four years ago and
the professor we`re talking about, I mean, is it radical? I mean, I don`t
get it. Is Hannity reaching for straws here? Or have egg on his face?
Derrick Bell is a radical?
HENDERSON: Yes. And Derrick Bell, of course, died a couple of years
ago. But I think what you are seeing Republicans try to do is really
revive these arguments that were made in 2008. These arguments that Obama
palled around with terrorists. That he sat in Jeremiah Wright`s church for
years and years and listened to him say anti-American things which, of
course, just ended up not being true. And I think you really see a
Republican Party that is desperate to find something. To find a smoking
gun. I think they would be well advised to really follow Haley Barbour`s
advice and that is to keep the main thing the main thing. And the main
thing in this campaign is going to be the economy. And of course, you have
seen from Mitt Romney a real focus on this. But I think with these videos
you see some Republicans at least preaching to the choir. But they haven`t
made many gains in terms of going out into the congregation and converting
souls to their side.
SHARPTON: Dana, they tried it in 2008 and from my recollection, they
lost that election. It didn`t work then. Why will it work now?
Especially when you are coming up with phantoms.
MILBANK: Well, you know, I think it`s fun to have Reverend Wright
back in a debate here four years later. It`s -- I think it`s important to
point out this is Sean Hannity. And, you know, he`s made more out of less
in the past. And I don`t think the Republican Party and the candidates are
actually going to get behind this simply because it`s so flimsy. And if
that`s the worst thing they came up with, his time in schooling, I had a
lot worse film to see when I was in school.
SHARPTON: Well, I tell you, Dana, Nia-Malika, one thing you need for
a smoking gun is a bullet. Something`s got to make the smoke. Nia-Malika
Henderson and Dana Milbank, thank you both.
MILBANK: Thanks, Reverend.
HENDERSON: Thank you.
HANNITY: Rising, rising, rising hate. A disturbing new report from
the Southern Poverty Law Center right here in Montgomery shows the rise of
hate groups in America. And some breaking news from here in Alabama.
Another blow to the nation`s most extreme anti-immigration bill. Big news.
You are watching MSNBC`s special coverage of the march from Selma to
Montgomery, walking in the footsteps of heroes to protect the gains of the
civil rights era.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN JEALOUS, PRESIDENT, NAACP: The fight is now. We are freedom
fighters. We were raised for moments like this. That we will not let them
take our vote away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: We`re back on POLITICS NATION with a disturbing new study
from the Southern Poverty Law Center on hate in America. It shows the
number of hate groups is on the rise, up 69 percent since 2000. Since
2008, militia anti-government patriotic groups have skyrocketed. A
staggering 755 percent increase, 2008, that just happens to be the same
year the first African-American was elected president.
Joining me now is Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law
Center, an organization that`s been at the forefront of exposing injustice
in America. Richard, thank you for coming on the show with this important
report. It`s staggering. What is motivating this rise in these hate
RICHARD COHEN, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: You know, Reverend
Sharpton, you talked about it as a coincidence, but, of course, it`s no
coincidence at all that it`s happening around the time that President Obama
was elected. Really if we go back to the year 2000 and come forward, what
we`re seeing as kind of a response, a backlash to the changing demographics
in our nation. You know, kind of the 1970, one in less than one in five
persons in our country was nonwhite. Today that figure is double. And for
some people, they aren`t happy about that. They see the kind of Latino
immigration as a threat. And that`s driving the main increase. The
patriot groups say, you talked about, that`s really been exploding since
President Obama has been elected.
SHARPTON: And these are militia patriot groups.
COHEN: A number of them. About one-third of them are militia patriot
groups. And, you know, they see the President as a Kenyan born, secret
Muslim, someone who is denying kind of America`s great and the country is
going downhill to China. It`s all the President`s fault. It`s all
President Obama`s fault. That`s the way they see it. That`s why we`ve had
this astonishing increase.
SHARPTON: The immigration bill in Alabama, we marched about that
today. It will be part of our big rally tomorrow. And you have a huge
banner out in front of the center about that bill.
SHARPTON: But it got somewhat of a blow in the courts today.
COHEN: It happens. We got great news. And I think it`s because you
came to town.
SHARPTON: I`m taking credit.
COHEN: The 11th circuit enjoined two more important sections of the
bill. One having to do with prohibiting, you know, undocumented persons
from entering contracts. And the more important provision that they
enjoined was this provision that prevented people from engaging in business
transactions with the state. It was a mean-spirited provision that stopped
people from getting water service, electrical service, death certificates.
We had a client who said he couldn`t make a call to his lawyer from a jail
because they said using the phone at the jail was a business transaction.
COHEN: That`s unbelievable. It`s horrible. I`m so glad the 11th
circuit came and had that ruling today.
SHARPTON: Now the bases of a lot of these immigration bills is
certainly not sound economically because they come spend a lot of money and
taxes into the country by purchasing things. And it`s certainly something
that you could not pay the cost of sending all of the undocumented
immigrants back. So a lot of it is motivated by just bias and hate.
COHEN: I think that`s exactly right. You know, Alabama is suffering
economically, terribly. One person at the University of Alabama estimated
that the state was going to lose $11 billion of economic activity each year
up to a million dollars in state and local taxes each year because of the
blow to our economy from this bill. It`s a disaster on the economic front.
A disaster of human proportions. It ought to be repealed.
SHARPTON: We are here 47 years later marching. We saw 47 years ago
those in the generation ahead of us face danger, threats, homes being
bombed, assassinations. We don`t have that kind of danger but there`s
institutional inequality and racism that is real today.
COHEN: Very, very real. Very, very real. Really across the country.
It`s not just in Alabama.
COHEN: It`s not just in the south. You know that better than most.
And, you know, hopefully the strength and inspiration that the marchers
draw here will be an example for people all over the country.
SHARPTON: Richard Cohen, thanks for your time tonight.
COHEN: Thank you.
SHARPTON: We will stay on this issue until there`s justice for
We`ll be right back with actor and entertainer Tyrese who has been
marching with us here in Alabama.
SHARPTON: Welcome back to a special edition of POLITICS NATION live
in Montgomery, Alabama. We`ve been marching all week to shed light on the
wave of radical immigration and voting laws in the country. Just last
night, both New Hampshire and Pennsylvania senates passed bills that would
require people to show photo I.D. in order to vote. They are among 31
states pushing voter I.D. laws this year.
Joining me now is Arlene Holt Baker, the executive vice president of
the AFL-CIO, coalition of unions representing more than 12 million workers.
She and her union members have been marching with us all week. We`re doing
this together. Civil rights groups, National Action Network, AFL-CIO and
unions. And Tyrese Gibson, multi-Grammy nominated singer and actor who has
been in movies like "Transformers," one of my own favorites "Baby Boy."
And he`s out here in Alabama for another reason. Like Harry Belafonte and
other entertainers who marched for civil rights, Tyrese is also lending his
time to the struggle here. Thank you both for being here tonight.
Arlene, let me start with you. Why has labor groups joined in this
fight against immigration and voter I.D. laws this weekend put so much into
ARLENE HOLT BAKER, EXECUTIVE V.P., AFL-CIO: Reverend Sharpton, the
truth is that we`re all connected. And when we look at what`s happening
across this country, workers, immigrants and those who believe we should
have our right to vote. We have a common enemy. Workers in this country
have been under attack, particularly in the last year. They`ve tried to
take away their right to have a voice in the workplace. To strip them of
collective bargaining. The same people who are pushing the anti-worker
legislation and trying to prevent workers from having a voice in the
workplace are the very same people that are trying to stop the poor,
people of color, the elderly and the youth from being able to have a voice
in the voting booth. And they are the very same who are ones pushing this
draconian anti-immigration legislation instead of trying to work for real
comprehensive immigration reform. They are trying to go after immigrants
in a way that we just can`t stand for.
SHARPTON: The day before yesterday we`ve marched several miles. I
got a call early yesterday morning. Tyrese is in Selma. And I talked to
you. You ran into Martin Luther King III. You said, you felt that you
just had to come when you heard about what we were doing. I remember Harry
Belafonte and others were here 47 years ago when I was 9 and you as an
entertainer come why? What compelled you?
TYRESE GIBSON, SINGER AND ACTOR: Well, I`m just not really happy with
a lot that`s been going on. I`m not the most politically well versed
person out there, but I do represent the voice, and I know who I am. I`m
aware of my light and the gift that God has blessed me with to have a stage
of influence. But it has no value if I`m not going to lose my influence to
try and make a difference. And so I think of all of the people right now
that are looking at this show. How do you feel? You are just at home
right now on your couch in your living room relaxing, complaining about
everything that has to do with our America. But what are you doing? What
are you doing? I don`t care what`s your worth, what you`re driving in,
what type of comforts you`ve been blessed with.
There`s a lot of people out here right now who have a problem and they
can`t do anything about it. And so tomorrow`s rally and this march
represents that struggle. And there`s a lot of people out here talking,
but I`m out here walking. And I`m walking with everybody else who has
their position and has their feeling because there are powers in numbers.
They like to say that only the old folks is out here marching. Only the
folks from back in the day believe in marches and marches are old school.
I`m out here. My feet is burning. I got blisters. Like everybody else.
I got a problem --
SHARPTON: I think the other guys don`t get blisters.
GIBSON: Oh, man, listen. The thing is, I had on a.
No, I went and took that off because I wanted to re-enact and really
get into the spirit of the --
SHARPTON: You went over to the encampment with the people, Arlene.
And doesn`t it warm your heart to hear such a star with young people talk?
BAKER: I am so warmed and touched by it. But what even touches me
more and Tyrese you know this. When you go through that line and you talk
to the quite frankly at this point today, over 1,000, that march, when you
look at it, it is reflective of who we are as Americans. We`ve got black
and white, Latino, Asian, young and old. But so many young people. And
when you have a young Latina from Idaho walking with a building trades
brother from Pennsylvania and talking about the common struggle, then
something is happening.
SHARPTON: And seeing people -- running out in camp to get your
autograph and you telling them about voting.
GIBSON: There are certain things going on in Alabama that one could
argue has nothing to do with me because I`m from L.A.
GIBSON: I have a problem with these laws. I have a problem with
these I.D. thing that`s going on with voter registration. But the real
problem that I have are people that are watching this show right now that
have never registered to vote.
GIBSON: And we`re not saying vote for President Obama because we`re
all sitting here black. We`re saying this is our America and there`s white
people, black people and various other nationalities that literally have
died and shed blood just to register to vote. And you all are sitting at
home thinking because you aren`t a Democrat or Republican or whatever your
views are that you are just not going to do anything. And so for me, I`m
here because that`s the voice that I represent. I have a problem. If you
have got a problem with this world, step up and do something about it.
SHARPTON: Arlene, unions are stepping up, the entertainers are
stepping up, you helped to start a thing this week, and Tyrese, you really
brought it home for us.
GIBSON: Can I send my PSA out before I close out?
SHARPTON: Do that.
GIBSON: So all of the entertainers, rappers, singers, actors,
athletes, if you`re at the house and you are watching this right now, we`re
going to be - where are we going to be tomorrow?
SHARPTON: We`re going to be at the state capitol.
BAKER: State capitol.
GIBSON: State capitol in Montgomery, Alabama. Jump on your private
planes the way you did for all-star week and come out here and get some of
this real work.
BAKER: I`d say, Reverend Sharpton, that if you love democracy - and
this is really what it`s about, making sure we preserve our democracy - be
at the state capitol in Alabama. This is not just about Alabama, it`s
about the nation.
SHARPTON: Arlene Holt Baker, the one and only Tyrese, thank you both
for your time tonight. And thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. We`ll
be back here in Montgomery tomorrow night after the big rally. "HARDBALL"
starts right now.
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