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PoliticsNation, Wednesday, March 14, 2012

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Guests: Jared Bernstein, Laura Bassett; Jess Mcintosh; Jim McDermott, Steve Kornacki, Tad
Devine, Michael Tomasky, E.J. Dionne

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

Tonight`s lead, Republicans are focused on who is up, who is down, who
should drop out. But if they really want to lead, they have to start
talking about what`s really important to the American people, jobs.

Mitt Romney`s talking about birth control. Rick Santorum is talking
about socialism. And Newt Gingrich is talking about himself. But the fact
is most Americans are desperate for another conversation. Fifty one
percent say the economy and jobs matter most to them. No other issue gets
more than five percent.

Getting jobs for the people is what voters want to talk about. Those
are the policies people want to hear debated. Not side issues.
Republicans may be sidetracked, but President Obama is not.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is not just
another political debate. This is the defining issue of our times. This
is a make-or-break moment for middle class families that everybody who`s
trying to get into the middle class. We can fight for an economy that`s
built to last, and that`s what we`ve been talking about for the last three
years, the values that always made this country great, hard work and fair
play, and shared responsibility, everybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Getting people back to work through hard work and fair
play. That`s what matters. Look at this. In the past 30 years, the
income gap between the rich and the poor has become shocking and troubling.
Fixing this gap is what matters. The rich have got richer, but the poor
have seen few gains. This president is working to change that. But
Republicans, they don`t have an answer. Mostly, they just deny the
president credit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He, of course, wants to put
as positive a shine on it as he can, but the reality is this is going to be
a tough battle. He`s got a terrible record. He`s got a lot of explaining
to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: No, Governor Romney, you and the other Republican
candidates who want to replace President Obama have a lot of explaining to
do. This country is desperate for a real debate about how we create jobs,
not petty stuff, not side issues. The Republicans who want to lead this
country won`t have a chance at that unless they lead, and that means having
a real conversation about people.

This is not about inside baseball. This is about how we lead the
American people. So that they can return to where their families and they
can comfortably earn and take care of their futures.

Joining me now is Congressman Jim McDermott, democrat from Washington,
and Jared Bernstein, an MSNBC contributor, and former chief economist for
vice president Joe Biden.

Thank you both for joining me tonight.

JARED BERNSTEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you.

REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D), WASHINGTON: Good to be here.

SHARPTON: Congressman, do you think one reason why Republicans are
not connecting with voters is because they don`t seem to have any real
answers about the jobs situation?

MCDERMOTT: Well, it`s very clear, reverend, that they simply don`t
even want to talk about it. Because they know if there are jobs available,
the president will look good. And they don`t want him to look good. You
always have to remember, number one, they don`t want him to be re-elected.
And if things get better or seem to be getting better, it`s bad for them,
from their point of view. So they`re doing everything they can to prevent
him.

The fact that we can`t pass a transportation bill that would bill
highways and roads and transit systems and all those sorts of things and
provide real jobs is because they don`t want to get that done and make the
president look good. And every indicator that`s going up, they say, oh, my
God, well, it`s only going up a little, you can`t believe it yet. They
don`t want anybody to think things are getting better. But they are.

SHARPTON: Now, Jared, when you look at the fact that Americans are on
the side of fairness, how can the GOP keep running against this issue? Let
me show you the support for the Buffett rule, which deals with a fairer
income tax and fairer taxes in terms of rich and middle class and working
poor. Seventy six percent of Democrats support the Buffett rule, 64
percent of all voters, even 49 percent of Republicans. How do they
continue to run against the will of the American people on such an issue as
this?

BERNSTEIN: Largely by invoking the kind of supply-side trickle-down
theories that really got us into this mess, including that inequality
problem you talked about earlier. First of all, let me give a quick shout-
out to Congressman Jim McDermott, who`s been fighting for working people
ever since I met him more than a decade ago.

Look, I was on a debate the other day about these issues. I was
actually debating Senator Ron Johnson. And the economy, I think it was on
the jobs day or right around there, and he attributed the improving economy
to the policies of Ronald Reagan, OK? They just hadn`t quite kicked in
yet.

Now, yesterday I read some Republican commentator saying that the
reason the market went up yesterday was because the forward-looking market
predicts that a Republican will win in 2012. So, you know if you`re
looking backwards or if you`re looking forwards, it has nothing to do with
the president. It`s all somebody else, and that somebody else tends to be
a conservative. I mean, this is a spin cycle that is as divorced from the
facts as you can get.

MCDERMOTT: Now, let me ask you, congressman, the candidate Mitt
Romney said today that he won`t apologize for his wealth. Let me let you
hear it first before I ask you my question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I made a lot of money. I`ve been very successful. I`m not
going to apologize for that. I know the DNC tries to push this out and
they get it on the mainstream media networks and that`s where you guys see
it and everybody laughs about it, because in this country, we want someone
who can help other people become successful. This is a nation which is not
going to choose our president based on these little innuendoes and personal
attacks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, doesn`t he understand, no one begrudges him or
anyone else being successful, congressman. This is about an inequality,
where it seems like the rich are getting advantages and the working class
and the middle class are getting disadvantages. I mean, statements like
that make me feel like he doesn`t even understand what the debate is about.

MCDERMOTT: He really doesn`t. He doesn`t understand that when he
says in Michigan that he would have let the auto companies go in the tank,
he`s saying to thousands and thousands of auto workers, I don`t care about
you, and the fact that you lose your job.

The president went out on a limb, against a lot of people, and said,
I`m going to save those auto companies, and he did it, and Romney still, in
the face of that, still talks about the fact that he`d let them go in the
tank.

He doesn`t understand working people at all. I don`t begrudge him
money. You know, some people got more and some people got less. It
doesn`t make any difference. But everybody wants enough to take care of
their family, keep their house, and educate their children, and have health
care when they need it. And the president did that for the people in
Michigan, and this guy who was born and bred there, he says, walks away
from all the people who says, I don`t care what happened to you.

SHARPTON: Jared, it seems to me that Mitt Romney`s not the only one
that doesn`t get it. Look at the fact the GOP governors recently many of
them talked about they`re optimistic about the economy, but there`s a bit
of a messaging problem here. Let me show you.

Governor Kasich says, "We`re alive again. We`re out of the ditch."

Then Governor Brian Sandoval, "Nevada is on the move again!"

Governor Rick Scott, "Florida got to work."

I mean, what are they talking about? Either the president is helping
or he`s not. It seems like they`ve got one talking point here and then
reality here and denial here. What`s going on here, Jared?

BERNSTEIN: Here`s another experience I have that relates to that. I
sometimes go on these market shows and I`m sitting there waiting for my
segment to start, and all the market analysts on a day like yesterday when
the markets are up are saying, this is a great stock market, the financials
are coming back, the banks are doing better, the corporate profits -- you
know, this economy is really picking up. Then they get to my segment,
Jared, Obama`s killing the economy!

So, they can`t both be right. I agree with you, reverend. It`s a
very tough call when you`re trying to say, the economy`s doing better
because I`m governor, not because he`s president. All of this really comes
down to I think what I was trying to say earlier, and what the
congressman`s been emphasizing. There`s momentum, we`re moving in the
right direction, we`re not there yet.

On the policy side, the last thing you`d want to do, and I think this
is key to the president`s message, is to go back to the policy agenda to
sing from that same songbook that got us into that mess, the trickle-down,
the favorable tax rates for income from capital gains and from hedge funds
and all that, to go back to the very policies that got us the deregulation,
all of that. It really does ripple through, whatever candidate you want,
through the Republican side. And to do that when we`re actually finally
climbing out of this hole would be a very tragic economic mistake.

SHARPTON: Congress Dick Mars have even says you can`t give a
president credit. He says, "Obama`s entire claim that the economy is
reviving is based on phony numbers and rigged statistics."

But a lot of Americans are saying, enough already! Lead. Tell me how
we`re going to get jobs. We`re in over, what, 20 primaries and caucuses in
the Republican move to get a nominee. And we still don`t know what their
jobs plans are. There`s no one that has risen above the minutia and said,
let`s deal with jobs. People are hurting out there. I mean, can we
challenge them to lead and compete with the president on leadership rather
than political trivia?

MCDERMOTT: We have tried, Al. We have tried very hard. And I think
the American people are going to take care of that in this election. You
cannot be, as the Republican Party has been, the party of no. That we`re
going to stop everything. Their whole program when they get to election is
going to be, I voted no. I voted against everything the president wanted.

And the people don`t want that. We have tried again and again to push
legislation that would get jobs out there, and the Republicans kill it. I
think that they simply don`t understand that the middle class in this
country is getting crushed.

I talked to people today. Foreclosures are up now in the state of
Washington. They should be going down, but they are continuing to crush
people`s ability to hold on to their homes and hold on to their families
and what`s going on in these society. We need jobs.

SHARPTON: That`s right. And they`re talking about the party of no.
I`m talking about the people of no jobs.

Congressman Jim McDermott and Jared Bernstein, thanks for your time
tonight.

MCDERMOTT: Thank you.

BERNSTEIN: See you again.

SHARPTON: Ahead, the backlash over the war on women is raging all
over the country. But Willard Romney is getting right in the middle of it.
We`ll show you his plan to get rid of Planned Parenthood.

Plus, video posted by Congressman Peter King on an arrest raid in New
York is raising serious questions he may have broken the law. Why was he
editing footage? And should the homeland security chairman even be doing
this? .

And it`s that time again. President Obama makes his march madness
picks. And one of them will surprise you.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The Republican attack on Planned Parenthood continues. And
a formerly pro-choice politician is leading the way. For Willard Romney,
what a long, strange trip it`s been. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The GOP war on women`s health and a fever pitch across the
country. We`ve seen protests all over the country. And Republicans from
Virginia to Alabama are doing anything they can to instance themselves from
it. But here, Willard is stepping right into the fire.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: We also should cut out spending for title 10. That`s Planned
Parenthood. Planned Parenthood, we`re going to get rid of that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Get rid of Planned Parenthood? Why would he bring that up?
He didn`t always feel that way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I will preserve and protect a woman`s right to choose and am
dedicated to honoring my word in that regard.

I think people recognize that I`m not a partisan Republican. That I`m
someone who is moderate and my views are progressive.

I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. I
believe that since roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years, that we
should sustain and support it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He even attended a Planned Parenthood fund-raiser back in
1994. See! There he is. But what`s surprising is he`s talking about
defunding Planned Parenthood now, right smack in the middle of this
backlash raging across the country. Sixty nine percent of Americans don`t
want to defund Planned Parenthood. And I guess he hasn`t seen the huge
protests in Texas, where women are protesting Governor Rick Perry`s plan to
defund Planned Parenthood, going into effect today.

Governor Romney, it`s a flip-flop. And it`s caught on tape.

Joining me now is Laura Bassett, reporter for the "Huffington Post."
She`s writing today about Romney`s latest attack on Planned Parenthood, and
Jess Mcintosh, spokesperson for Emily`s list, which helps elect democratic
pro-choice women to office.

Great to have both of you with us.

JESS MCINTOSH, SPOKESPERSON, EMILY`S LIST: Thanks for having me.

SHARPTON: Laura, let me start with you. How devastating for Romney
could these comments be for him?

LAURA BASSETT, REPORTER, HUFFINGTON POST: It`s a really bad idea
politically for Romney to bring up Planned Parenthood at all. Because it
just reminds people back in 2002, not only did he seek Planned Parenthood`s
endorsement, he attended Planned Parenthood fund-raisers, he said on a
survey that he supports state-sponsored abortions and this is a pretty wild
flip-flop for him to come now and say, not only that he wants Planned
Parenthood to be de-funded on the federal level, but the words that he
chose, let`s just get rid of Planned Parenthood. It was so flippant and a
lot of people rely on Planned Parenthood for basic health care that has
nothing to do with abortion. So, I think this is going to be an issue for
him politically.

SHARPTON: Now Laura, I think that`s critical. That a lot of women
depend on Planned Parenthood for health issues that have nothing to do with
abortion or anything connected to that. But the other thing that I think
that`s very interesting, to emphasize what he said, he didn`t just say he
was pro-choice back then in his Massachusetts moderate days, he also
supported Planned Parenthood, Jess. So, I mean, this is a major flip-flop.
This is something that is totally the opposite of his views in the past.

MCINTOSH: I can only assume that he`s trying to distract from his
terrible record of coddling billionaires at the expense of the middle
class. But it`s a lousy strategy since he`s now wrong on the social issues
too. I mean, at Emily`s list, we polled key battleground state voters and
found that 63 percent, that`s a really overwhelming number, oppose any
efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. So you can see the whole results at
Emilyslist.org. But to take away, it`s this issue is a major loser for
Republican aside for being terrible policy.

SHARPTON: Now, she is absolutely right. If you look at the polls, 77
percent say birth control shouldn`t even be part of the debate. So, not
only do you have people who want to see the continuation of Planned
Parenthood. They don`t have want to see this debate that they`ve raised
now about contraception, Laura. So it seems like they are raising
arguments and coming out with convictions that clearly run antithetical to
the will of the American people.

BASSETT: Exactly. The women`s vote is going to be a huge factor in
the 2012 elections. And unfortunately, 99 percent of sexually active women
have used birth control at some point in their lives. And so to take up
this contraception argument and to be on the wrong side of it is a really
bad idea going into the election.

SHARPTON: Now, Jess, can you explain to me, have you seen a change
since you work on electing pro-choice democratic women. Has this energized
the base? Has this, rally people up? Has there been any tangible backlash
to these kinds of views?

MCINTOSH: Absolutely. Absolutely. Since the GOP won in 2010,
Emily`s list membership has doubled, which is just incredible growth for a
non-election year. I think a lot of people, rightfully thought, that the
culture wars and this debate over birth control, was long over. And now
that they know that even in 2012, it is not, they are absolutely getting
involved and getting engaged in this election.

We need to replace these guys with pro-choice democratic women, who
are going to have their priorities straight. Because you`re right, women
want to be talking about jobs. Nobody wants to be having a debate over
birth control. One in five women has been to a planned parenthood. You
can`t demonize an institution women know that well. It`s -- we`re smarter
than that.

SHARPTON: Now, Laura, it is interesting to me that a new poll shows
that Americans see the debate over the president for various mandates as a
health issue, not a religious issue. And I think that this is another
thing that a lot of the right-wing and Republicans are missing. Is that
most Americans don`t see this as a religious issue, which is how they`re
trying to debate it. They see it as a health issue, and therefore are
taking positions against what people may need for their health.

BASSETT: Exactly. Even if you frame it as a religious liberty issue,
the consequence is that it affects women`s health. So there`s really no
way to argue that this is not about contraception, this is not about
women`s health. If the effect is that an employer can deny woman
contraception coverage, and therefore she can`t afford it, maybe she needs
it for endometriosis, maybe she needs for polycystic ovarian diseases, or
maybe just wants to prevent a pregnancy; maybe she can`t afford a child.
It doesn`t really matter, it affects her health no matter what, and it`s
financially beneficial to the insurer to cover contraception.

So to say that this, you know, has nothing to do with contraception,
which is what Republicans are saying, it`s a little bit absurd.

SHARPTON: Laura Bassett and Jess Mcintosh, thank you both for your
time tonight.

BASSETT: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, U.S. marshals are investigating a video showing
Congressman Peter King, the head of homeland security committee, raiding a
fugitive in New York. Why was he deleting the video from you tube?

And tanking it? The economy is heading in the right direction. But
does the GOP have a secret plan to stop it? Our special guest tonight says
yes! Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. So, the republican race
goes on. And what we`ve learned last night and over the past many months
is the party may be heading right off a cliff. Why would I say that? Just
listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t want to make
people`s lives better by giving them somebody else`s money. I want to give
them the opportunity to go out and earn the money and provide for
themselves and their families.

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

SANTORUM: President Obama once said, he wants everybody in America to
go to college. What a snob.

GINGRICH: It is tragic what we do in the poorest neighborhoods, in
trapping children, first of all, in child laws, which are truly stupid.

SANTORUM: I don`t believe in an America where the separation of
church and state is absolute. So say that people of faith have no role in
the public square, you bet that makes you throw up.

GINGRICH: If you were judges who were so radically in to American,
that they thought one nation under God was wrong, they shouldn`t be on the
court.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And it`s this kind of talk that`s dragging the one so-
called moderate off the cliff as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: (INAUDIBLE) In doing several
projects, you don`t have to give the work to unions. We`ve just got to
stop illegal immigration. It is bringing in people who in some cases can
be terrorists. In other cases they become a burden on our society.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The proposition that welfare recipients should be
drug tested. How do you feel about that?

ROMNEY: My own view is it`s a great idea. People who are receiving
welfare benefits, government benefits, we should make sure that they`re not
using those benefits to pay for drugs.

Planned Parenthood. We`re going to get rid of that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Folks, the entire group is extreme. Where did this party
go? They all support personhood laws that would ban abortion under any
circumstances. They want to end Medicare/Social Security, give tax cuts to
the richest Americans, and they want to defund Planned Parenthood. Make no
mistake, this year`s election is going to be about two Americas. The
America of the republican candidates or the America built on fairness,
equality, and Americans working together.

Joining me now is Steve Kornacki, political columnist for Salon.com.
And now an MSNBC political analyst. And democratic strategist, Tad Devine,
a senior adviser for the Perry and Gore campaign. Thanks to both of you
for being here.

Steve, let me start with you, it used to be Mitt Romney and the
others. Now they`re all to the right. No division, it seems. How bad is
this for Romney in the long run?

STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM: Well, yes, I think the worst thing for
Romney in the long run, it`s not just that he`s been pulled to the right so
far in this process. It`s what happened in Alabama and Mississippi last
night. Because what that did was it basically insured that this republican
process now is going to go through June, at least, and maybe even into the
summer months. And as long as this republican process is going along, he
has absolutely no wiggle room, absolutely no latitude to sort of move to
the center, sort of distance himself in the base, do the things that a
general election republican candidate really has to do to have a chance
against Obama. And so he`s delayed in his time, you know, in terms of
doing that. It`s also, in that time, he`s going to rack up sort of a paper
clip. It`s going to be all sorts of quotes, all sorts of clips that will
be fresh on people`s minds and can be recycled in the fall, he`s got a
couple more months of that now to look forward to, because of what happened
last night.

SHARPTON: Tad, I`m not as interested in who`s up, who`s down in the
horse race for politics, as I am about what is happening in the general
debate and the body of politics. But I have to imagine if you were running
the Obama campaign, you`d be licking your lips at how extreme these guys
are in terms of where the American public is. I mean, how would you run
against this extreme?

TAD DEVINE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think you have to showcase
it, Reverend. And I think the people in Chicago running the President`s
campaign have to be very happy about what they`re seeing. I mean, the
truth is that the Tea Party tail is wagging the Republican Party dog right
now. And that dog, it seems, is in a cage above a station wagon being
driven by Mitt Romney, OK? And they`re prepared to drive that station
wagon right off a cliff. An issue after issue like immigration with the
largest growing minority group in America. They have taken radical
policies and braced the Arizona immigration law, for example, and braced
people who have been confrontational on this issue for many years, rejected
the dream act. On the economic policies, they promised to return to the
Bush economic policies, which practically bankrupted this country, led it
into enormous deficits and cratered our economy. So, an issue after issue.
The right wing of the Republican Party is forcing them into a position
which is indefensible in the context of the general election.

SHARPTON: And Steve, it seems that if Romney is not even connecting
with all of these moving over. Look at the exit polling in Alabama last
night. It showed Romney only won with one group of voters last night,
high-income voters. Every other area, he lost. In Mississippi, Romney
lost to the more conservative candidates too. Other than high-income
voters. So with all of this moving over, he`s not even winning the support
of the conservative base.

KORNACKI: Right. And what`s really interesting to me about those
findings there is the case can be made, Romney`s people will say this, and
I think there`s validity to it that hey, if he wins the nomination, all of
those sort of you know, very conservative sectors of the Republican Party,
they may be suspicious of Romney, but they really don`t like Obama, they`ll
be there for Romney in the fall. But that one about the income -- that
jumps out of me where he gets the high income voters and he losses
everybody else. That might speak to something that`s broader than just,
you know, within the Republican Party. That might transcend ideological
and partisan lines. And if that speaks to basically an inability to
connect with blue-collar, middle class voters on Romney`s part, that has a
huge consequence for the Republicans in the fall if Romney is the
candidate.

Because, you know, Tad talked about, you know, the problems
Republicans have increasingly with Hispanic voters, now because of the
contraception thing, with women, specifically single women voters. They
really need, if they`re going to be hurt with those groups, they really
need a big turnout and big support from the sort of white working class
voters who swung hard to the Republicans in the 2010 midterms. They`re
really going to need at this fall. And those exit polls last night, what
we`ve seen this whole primary process, say to me that there`s a potential
that Romney will not be able to capitalize on those voters the way
Republicans need to in the fall.

SHARPTON: Tad, that`s what I wanted to really talk, Tad, because does
what we`re seeing now change is really the political landscape to where
the Republican Party and the Democratic Party really are becoming defined a
lot differently than we`ve seen in the past and Republicans more extreme.
The poll`s even saying, if you look at it, President Obama beats Romney 54
to 42. Beats Santorum, 57 to 39. But aside from the politics, it seems
that the President has been able to be more mainstream party, which once
was perceived when I was a kid as being headed to extreme left. And the
Republicans, with Romney submitting to the right, seems to be have gone all
the way to the extreme right with the most extreme positions. This could
really change the political landscape for some time.

DEVINE: I think you`re right, Reverend. I think what`s happening
right now is the Republican Party is defining itself out of the great
center of American politics. They are pushing themselves so hard to the
right, and if you even look at the exit polls from last night, 50 percent
of the people in Alabama and 50 percent of the voters in -- 52 percent of
the voters in Mississippi said that Mitt Romney is not conservative enough.
I mean, you know, half of the voters in his own primary don`t feel he`s
conservative enough. And I think it`s forcing them to the far right. The
President, I think, has very adroitly begun to occupy the center of
American politics on a broad range of issues, standing up for women`s
health, running foreign policy, the defense policy, which I think people
see as not one which is warmongering, which is what Romney is advocating,
but instead, a very reasonable and responsible course. So, I think the
President is occupying that space, and the more he occupies it, the tougher
will be for Romney or anyone else to move towards it.

SHARPTON: But, Steve, when you hear people say, in exit polls, Romney
is not conservative enough. But then when you see, let me show you some of
the reactions at the debate. When you see how to the right, how extreme
this party is, you can almost understand exit polls, because it`s
unbelievable, like, off the scale. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC ANCHOR: Your state has executed 234 death row
inmates, more than any other governor in modern times.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: You will face the ultimate justice in the state of Texas.
And that is, you will be executed.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

STEPHEN HILL, IRAQ SOLDIER: In 2010, when I was deployed to Iraq, I
had to lie about who I was, because I`m a gay soldier, and I didn`t want to
lose my job. Do you intend to circumvent the progress they`ve made for gay
and lesbian soldiers in the military?

(AUDIENCE BOOS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: When you see cheering death penalty, cheering executions,
booing gay soldiers, I mean, the landscape, I keep saying, has changed in
American politics from tolerance and growing to where we`re going off the
deep end.

KORNACKI: Yes, well, I think what`s happened here is two forces have
sort of merged in this 2012 election. One`s very long-term. That`s
demographic and cultural evolution of the Republican Party. It`s become a
party dominated, it`s centered in the south, dominated by religious
conservatives. And then you have what when Barack Obama became president,
that base sort of became radicalized. And you`re seeing the effects of
that Romney`s candidates in this race.

SHARPTON: Well, that`s what this race is going to be about, it seems.
Steve Kornacki and Tad Devine, thank you both for your time tonight.

DEVINE: Good to be with you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, this video showing Congressman Peter King with U.S.
marshals as they raided a home in search of a fugitive. It`s raising
serious questions, why was he deleting footage? And did he break the law?

And later, it`s that time again. President Obama makes his march
madness picks. And one in particular will surprise you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: This week, Congressman Peter King, the chairman of Homeland
Security Committee, best known for his anti-Muslim rhetoric, decided to try
his hand as reality TV. He went along on a raid with U.S. marshals for the
A&E show "Manhunters."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: It`s Monday morning, about 7:30, we`re
in the Bronx. Working today with the U.S. marshals fugitive task force and
they`ve already taken down two people in the Bronx. I`ve been able to go
with them. Now we`re leaving for Brooklyn. There`s a fugitive they`re
after.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: King was so proud of getting to wear a marshals` jacket and
badge that he promptly posted the video on his YouTube Channel. Talking
points memo reports some of the video was recorded inside the suspect`s
home, a potential violation of privacy. King`s office has since edited
that part out. But here`s the original video.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OFFICER: Kick the door!

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Right over here!

OFFICER: Or somebody came and locked the door behind us. You were in
that room?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: How are you? Good show?

KING: I got them.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yes.

OFFICER: As we was coming up, I just kicked him down and he went
right through the back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The congressman defended himself today on WCBS radio.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: I`m not aware there`s any concern with the U.S. marshals. And
nobody in the marshals at all has raised any objections with me, then or
since.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But the marshals apparently do have objections. In fact,
they`ve launched an investigation. And we`ll keep watching this story.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: Our top political priority over
the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Welcome back, folks. I think Mitch McConnell is a man of
his word. Even though the economy`s getting better, Republicans have stuck
to their plan. They`re doing everything they can to stall the recovery and
hurt the President. Top Democrats have been saying this for months now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Republicans aren`t just opposing the President
anymore. They are opposing the economic recovery itself.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: They believe that a weak economy is their best
chance of winning the next election.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: So you have to ask a question. Are they willing to
tear down the economy in order to build -- in order to tear down the
President?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Republicans are trying, but it`s not working. The
President has built 24 straight months of private sector job growth, with
nearly four million jobs created across the country. And since the market
hit rock bottom during the worst of the recession, the Dow Jones has gone
up more than 6,700 points. That`s 105 percent.

Joining me now is Michael Tomasky, special correspondent to "Newsweek"
and the Daily Beast. His article outlines the quote, "GOP plans to sink
the economy." And E.J. Dionne, Washington polls columnist and MSNBC
contributor, who`s also written extensively about the GOP and the economy.
Thanks for joining me tonight.

MICHAEL TOMASKY, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, "NEWSWEEK AND DAILY BEAST":
Good to be with you, Reverend.

E.J. DIONNE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Nice to be here.

SHARPTON: Michael, let me start with you.

TOMASKY: Sure.

SHARPTON: What`s the evidence that Republicans are deliberately
trying to tank the economy?

TOMASKY: Well, look at what they do in Congress, Al. Look at what
they`ve been doing, basically, since Obama took office. But especially
since they took control of the House of Representatives. Look, there`s no
question that as they seek, for example, these drastic budget cuts, cuts to
the domestic budget, there`s no question that they believe that
ideologically, and so that they`re simply for that. I don`t doubt that.
But they`re not stupid. They know, and they understand that when you make
these drastic cuts to the domestic discretionary budget, which is actually
a very small chunk of the federal budget, and you reduce dramatically the
amount of money that Washington is sending out to states and municipalities
and local governments, they know that those states and local governments
are laying people off. And they`ve laid off half a million people, half a
million public sector workers in the last who years, have been laid off.
That, in turn, as the Republicans well known, affects the unemployment
rate.

SHARPTON: Now, let me -- E.J., let me read you a quote from Michael
Tomasky`s article. He says, "The GOP is starting to run out of time to
think of up new ways to ruin the economy so that Barack Obama doesn`t get
re-elected. The party has more invested in economic failure than any out-
party I can remember in my lifetime." What`s your response to that, E.J.?

DIONNE: Well, first of all, I`m a big fan of Michael`s, and I think
that if you really wanted to move this economy quickly, they could have
picked some stuff out of the President`s job plans, which after all is a
pretty mainstream, middle of the road set of proposals, and you look at how
hard the President had to fight just to get the payroll tax holiday
extended. I mean, tax cuts are supposed to be what Republicans are for.
And they resisted that for a long time. I think the key number in Mike`s
piece is that public sector job loss number. You know, if President Obama
is a socialist, it`s a pretty weird kind of socialism. Because public
sector employment has gone down, private sector employment has gone up. If
we hadn`t lost all of those private sector jobs, we wouldn`t be in so much
trouble. The stimulus, the much-derided stimulus prevented a lot of
layoffs in the local and state governments. With that receding, they have
been under a lot of pressure to lay off a lot of cops and teachers and
firefighters and others. And that keeps the recovery from being really
robust.

SHARPTON: Now, Michael, let me read to you something E.J. wrote last
summer and get your response to his writings. He says, quote, "Republicans
have no interest in moving the nation`s debate toward investments in job
creation. It`s a brute fact that Republicans benefit if the economy stays
sluggish." Is he basically saying the same thing you`re saying here?

TOMASKY: Yes. I`m going to shock you and say, A, I`m also a big fan
of E.J.`s, and B, I agree with that statement. And, look, you know, this
has been going on for a long, long time. And you can take it back to 2009
and 2010 and threats to filibuster, you know, small jobs programs,
unemployment compensation relief, things like that, that have happened in
the Senate back then. E.J. knows this history. And it`s happening today.
And it`s happening, maybe, next week. And it`s something that people
should keep an eye on. There`s a transportation bill coming up.

SHARPTON: Right.

TOMASKY: That actually did manage to pass the Senate on pretty
bipartisan terms. Chuck Schumer, who we saw in the clip there, at the
start of this segment, has said that this bill might be worth three million
jobs. Now, the House is going to come back into session next Monday and
we`re going to have a chance to see what the House is going to do about
this. It`s interesting that Boehner has made some vaguely friendly noises
towards this bill, but yes, I just wonder, can he really keep in-line his
caucus in support of a bill that Chuck Schumer says is going to bring three
million jobs?

SHARPTON: That is going to be a true test. You know, when I
summarize and look at your points, Michael, it seems that -- well, I`d
break it down to three points. One, they attack the job market. This is
how I feel the GOP`s plans are to sink the economy, coming out of your
article. One, attack the job market, two, slash budgets, and then three,
blame President Obama for higher gas prices.

TOMASKY: Yes. And on the third point, we should mention that
quickly, because that`s part of this too. You know, gas prices haven`t
soared because supply is short in a way, for the reason that things usually
soar. Gas prices soared because there`s a lot of speculation on the
markets. And there`s a lot of speculation on the oil markets, because
there`s a lot of fear about war with Iran.

SHARPTON: Right.

TOMASKY: So every time a republican -- and they know this too. They
know everything. Every time a republican politician opens his mouth and
says, we have to go attack Iran, again, I`m sure they`re saying it because
they believe it, but they understand that they have this little side
benefit that it keeps the speculation in the oil markets high and it helps
keep gas prices high.

SHARPTON: E.J., how does the President make it clear to the American
people it`s the speculators and not him that`s responsible for rising gas
prices? Quickly.

DIONNE: I think if he runs a lot of footage from FOX News when
President Bush was president, when all the FOX News commentators said, hey,
rising gas prices cannot be blamed on the President. And I do think that
we have to look into the role of speculation in driving up prices higher
than they have to be. But I think this focus, I think the other thing is,
we really should look back on what`s happening at the state and local
level. There is a great republican program called revenue sharing. It was
pioneered by Richard Nixon. In ever we needed revenue sharing to help our
state and local governments, it was in this period. And I just wish you
had Republicans who remembered that they used to be for some constructive
things in this country.

SHARPTON: It`s a different party, for sure. Michael Tomasky, E.J.
Dionne, thanks for your time tonight.

DIONNE: Thank you.

SHARPTON: We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Finally tonight, as a pastime as American as apple pie,
march madness. Tomorrow is the start of the tournament to decide the
college basketball champion. President Obama is already in the spirit,
taking Prime Minister David Cameron to a game in Ohio last night. Here`s
what he said today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: When it came to sports on this visit, I thought it would be
better if we just watched. That said, I`m still trying to get David to
fill out his bracket.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Filling out a bracket has become a regular event for the
president. Today, he unveiled this year`s picks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I`m big on momentum, especially in a tournament like this
one. I like teams with good point guards. Other than that, it`s all
throwing darts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He made his first-round picks with no trouble.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Let`s start with the potential Kentucky/Iowa state
matchup.

OBAMA: You`ve got to go with Kentucky. Indiana`s too tough. I like
Baylor. Duke over Baylor. Mizzou looks very good to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But one pick might surprise you.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You had Vanderbilt knocking off Harvard. This is
the first time Harvard`s in since 1946.

OBAMA: I know. Listen --

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You`ve got a degree from Harvard.

OBAMA: I`ve got a degree from Harvard. Arne Duncan, my Secretary of
Education played in Harvard. I`ll be rooting for Harvard, but it`s too
much of a stretch.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So who do you think will take it all, Mr. President?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: National title game is going to be Kentucky versus tar heels.
I am going with North Carolina. They`re an older team, more experienced
team, and since they won it for me the last time I picked them, hopefully
I`ll be able to get a little redemption for the last two years. I was
doing great through the first round. And it was all downhill from there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: We`ll see how you do, Mr. President. You won`t have to
compete against Willard Romney, who says he`s too busy to keep up with the
games. Well, come to think of it, maybe it`s just because it`s the college
games, and there are no team owners for him to know.

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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