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PoliticsNation, Friday, March 16, 2012

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Guests: Melissa Harris-Perry; Dana Milbank; David Ignatius, Nia-Malika Henderson, Jonathan
Capehart, Bob Franken

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

Tonight`s lead, the president goes on the road with a message for
Republicans who want to replace him. Get ready. It`s game on. No doubt
the president is in campaign mode. His campaign has released a 17-minute
documentary on his accomplishments. And today, the president went to sweet
home Chicago to take Republicans to task.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My message to all of
the candidates is welcome to the land of Lincoln because I`m thinking maybe
some Lincoln will rub off on them while they are here. I hope they also
take some time to reflect on this great man, the first Republican. Of
course, you may not feel confident that will happen. You may be watching
some of this avalanche of attack ads and think this is not appealing to the
better angels of our nature by hopes, spring a turn.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Wishful thinking, Mr. President. I don`t think we can
change them even if change has been a specialty of yours.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Change is the decision we made rescue the American auto
industry from collapse even when some would say and let`s let Detroit go
bankrupt. We have a million jobs on the line. The entire economy of the
Midwest and the country at stake so, I wasn`t about to let that happen.
With more than 200,000 new jobs created in the last 2 1/2 years, the auto
industry in America is back. That`s change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That`s change is what this race is going to be about. The
change in an auto industry booming again, the change in jobs creation, the
change in an economy back from the brink, but the leading front-runner on
the other side built his whole campaign running against this fact.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When he took office, the
economy was in recession and he made it worse and he made it last longer.

He didn`t create the recession but he made it worse and longer.

He did not cause this recession but he made it worse.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: How can you continue to say that things
are worse when they really aren`t worse?

ROMNEY: I didn`t say things are worse.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Except you did, Willard. That`s been the backbone of your
campaign and you tried to deny it but the jig is up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I believe we`re in a recovery mode finally.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You really think so?

ROMNEY: Well, it`s hard to know. No one can predict precisely what`s
going to happen in the economy but it think it is likely things to get
better.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Things will get better. We are in recovery mode let`s
giving a pat on the back to President Obama, right? Wrong?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: This president is a lightweight. Now, it`s not because he`s
not smart, it`s because he never work in the free economy. He has never
had a job in the free economy. I understand the - how the economy works.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That logic it pretty lightweight with no motivation left
for your candidacy, good luck running against this man.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: You hear a lot of politicians talk about values in election
years and I`m sure some of the ads that have been talking about that here
in Illinois. Let me tell you about values. Hard work is a value. Looking
out for one another, that`s a value. The idea we`re all in this together,
that I`m my brother`s sisters and my sister`s keeper, that`s a value.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me is Melissa Harris-Perry, host of "Melissa
Harris-Perry" and Dana Milbank, columnist for the Washington Post. Thank
you both for being here.

DANA MILBANK, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: Hi, reverend.

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST, MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: Hi.

SHARPTON: Melissa, let me start with you. The president is not
waiting for the Republicans to have a nominee. Are you surprised at all by
that?

HARRIS-PERRY: No. Because the president, as you can see, loves
campaigning. And it`s interesting because in many ways I think a lot of
the criticism about President Obama over the course of his administration
has been that while he was governing, he wasn`t communicating enough about
what his accomplishments were with the administration. But particularly
maybe this is in part being at home, in the Chicago crowd, you can see the
feeling he`s having in front of that crowd, the sense that, I have
something substantive to run on, I have something to say.

And as he sort of begins to warm up for this campaign and it`s going
to be a relatively long one here, I`m not at all surprised he`s going to
start it now. He is going to keep taking it wherever the Republicans are
in their primary mode, he`s going to go and remind voters that there is
another alternative.

SHARPTON: Now, Dana, I heard the president referring to the avalanche
of negative ads. Do you think that is one of the reasons that they are
starting early is that they may assume that there is going to be an
avalanche of negative ads as we`ve seen Willard Romney do against his
Republican opponents?

MILBANK: Well, of course there will be. I mean, that goes without
saying what will happen later in the cycle. I think what you see happening
right now is really a smart move in politics and that is to take advantage
of a situation whenever you can. And, you know, as your clips were
illustrating there, Romney and the others were beating up on the president
when it appeared for a long period of time that things weren`t getting
better.

Unfortunately, for Romney, that became the campaign message and he now
has to sort of retool this thing right now and just as it was hard earlier
for President Obama to say things would have been worse if we hadn`t done
what I said. Now, Romney`s in a position of saying, well, things would be
better if the president weren`t there. But it`s a very hard argument to
make. So, I think you need to be feeling bad for Willard and praying for
him, reverend.

SHARPTON: Yes, I definitely do that. And I`m serious, Melissa, let
me say this. When he says it`s difficult for them, the fact that the
approval rating around the signature achievements of the president are
pretty high in many areas. Let me show you.

Raid that killed bin Laden, 86 percent. Withdraw from Iraq, 78
percent. Financial reform, 65 percent. Auto bailout, 56 percent. Health
care law, 47 percent. 37 percent for stimulus. I mean, with high numbers
on your signature achievements, that he`s going to be running on and that
is what we saw in this documentary last night, many of these things
mentioned, that`s a hard mountain to climb for whoever the nominee is.

HARRIS-PERRY: It`s particularly hard if you`re making the mountain
out of a house of cards, which is what we keep seeing the Republican
candidates do. So, let`s look at their two signature things they have
managed go to. Now that we are in economic recovery and they can`t keep
talking about how bad the economy is, they try to do two things. One is
gas prices. So now they are claiming that the president is responsible for
the high gas prices. But here`s the crazy part about that. Gas prices are
set by a market and these are folks who --

SHARPTON: Speculators --

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. These are people who keep saying the market is
more powerful than the government. But now, they want to say the
government somehow causes even though it`s market-driven.

The other piece of what they are trying to do is revive these culture
wars that are in some cases 50 or 60 years old, not just a decade and they
are going to lose on those issues as well. In part because their statement
is government out of our lives and then they keep putting the government
directly between the lives of citizens and their doctors. And so, they are
building a mountain out of - out of ideological card doesn`t work.

SHARPTON: It seems strange to me, they want government out of your
accounts office but put them in your bedroom.

Dana, the documentary by President Obama and his campaign last night
emphasized health care. Do you think that is the smart move?

MILBANK: Well, it`s a surprising move given that we would not have
expected this a long period of time ago. I think underlying that is an
assumption that many of us share that even though it looks really ugly for
Romney right now, it`s hard to imagine anybody else becoming the nominee.
He`s a much weaker nominee to run against Obama on the issue of health care
because he`s been supportive of something very much like Obamacare itself.
And I think you`re also seeing more of a contrast now. I was at an event
when four prominent Republicans came out with their plan which was to ended
Medicare immediately even for people currently on the program. So now that
Obama has a real contrast to make and suddenly what seemed scary about
Obamacare is not as scary as immediately ending Medicare even for current
beneficiaries.

SHARPTON: Well, I think whatever the feeling we`re trying to get,
they took it out with these culture war arguments, contraception.

Let me show you two things, Melissa, because I really, really want
your take on this. Let me show you what they say about health care and
then I want to show you what Willard said about the documentary. Let me
show you health care.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I regularly told them, look, you don`t have to
spill this much political blood. You won`t get the healthcare
accomplishment you are seeking but you`ll have something.

TOM HANKS, ACTOR: But he knew from experience the cost of waiting.

OBAMA: When my mom got cancer, she wasn`t a wealthy woman and it
pretty much drained all of her resources.

HANKS: And he remembered the millions of families like his who feel
the pressure of rising costs and the fear of being denied or dropped from
coverage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, I thought that was well done where he talked about his
own experiences, his own mother, and I think that that brings everyone to
their own personal experience with health and situations that they may face
in their life. But, of course, Mr. Romney saw the documentary differently.
Look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I found it interesting this morning to hear that the
Guggenheim so-called documentary about President Obama is now on the
Internet, and you can take a look at it. It`s about 17 or 18 minutes.

Mr. Guggenheim said that he could find nothing wrong with the
president, nothing negative to say in this documentary. It`s obviously an
infomercial. And I thought well, I`ll give you some help, Mr. Guggenheim.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Can you interpret for me what is Willard talking about?

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, it sounds like Romney is angry that the president
has put out a campaign commercial. And, you know, it is a documentary that
is about the president`s accomplishments.

SHARPTON: Right.

HARRIS-PERRY: And therefore it is positive. It is a positive
assessment of the president. And additionally, as you pointed out in this
sort of comment about the health care, when I heard that the first time, he
understood the problem with waiting, I thought they were going to be
talking about the Clinton health care plan and how if you don`t wait, it`s
bad for the whole country.

But instead, they went to that personal narrative, the experience of
his mother and her battle with cancer and that kind of connection where
American voters say, that`s right. This isn`t some scary bureaucrat. This
is personal. And this is about my life and about how the president can see
what my life is like.

SHARPTON: Dana, the reason why I said to Melissa, it seems like they
go to these talking points rather than ever addressing the issue. If
you`re going to address the documentary, why doesn`t he say where health
care wasn`t done right and what he would have done wrong differently? Why
go through a whole commentary on who did the documentary? Anybody`s
documentary is going to be positive. He never really addresses the point.

MILBANK: Yes. I love this notion that a campaign video should have
the integrity of "dateline" or "60 minutes" or something. Of course it`s
supposed to be favorable. But in a way, you know that very clip you played
with Rahm Emanuel saying well, you know, they could have done this in
different way and shed less blood. That was a very serious debate and a
lot of people still think they could have done it a very different way.

Look, I mean, Romney will engage surely on the specifics of these
issues. He`s got a lot of other things to worry about starting right
there.

SHARPTON: Yes, including coming up with a documentary that tells us
what he does wrong. I`m waiting on that one, Willard.

Melissa Harris-Perry and Dana Milbank, thanks for your time tonight.
Both of you have a great weekend.

And you can catch Melissa Harris-Perry on weekends from 10:00 to 12:00
on Saturdays and Sundays.

Ahead, the shocking report out today on bin Laden`s plan to go after
President Obama. Our guest got an exclusive look at documents taken from
the bin Laden compound.

Plus, Willard saying he won`t apologize for his wealth. So why is he
hiding it? You won`t believe what he`s doing with the basement in one of
those mini mansions.

And Sarah Palin still wants to be a player in the political cycle. So
she`s attacking president Obama. It`s ugly and it`s actually ironic.
We`ll explain.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: An exclusive look at documents inside the bin Laden
compound reveal what he was plotting. The reporters who saw those
documents join me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Tonight, I can remember to report to the American people and
the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed
Osama bin Laden.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It`s been ten months since President Obama announced the
death of the brutal terrorist behind 9/11 and the death of thousands of
people around the world. But today we learned something new.

While the president was watching the raid from the White House
situation room, Osama bin Laden had been plotting an attack of his own.
The terrorist was hoping to get America again by killing President Obama
and U.S. General David Petraeus. The plot was outlined in letters bin
Laden wrote to his aides taken from his compound by U.S. forces the night
he was killed and then classified as top secret.

Joining me now is David Ignatius, opinion writer for the "Washington
Post." He revealed this plot today after being given exclusive access to
documents written by the al Qaeda leader.

Thanks for being here.

DAVID IGNATIUS, OPINION WRITER, WASHINGTON POST: Great to be with
you, Reverend Sharpton.

SHARPTON: Now, David, how was bin Laden planning to do this?

IGNATIUS: Bin laden talked, in one of the messages that I was able to
read about a plot he had set in motion through Pakistani member of al Qaeda
named Elias Kashmiri (ph) in which he had instructed Kashmiri to organize
cells in Afghanistan and Pakistan with the express purpose of trying to
kill President Obama and General Petraeus in their aircraft as they were
traveling, presumably the idea was to find anti-aircraft missiles of some
kind.

I`m told by White House administration officials that this plot was
never a serious threat. They didn`t have the ability to carry it off.
But, the fact that bin Laden was still trying for this kind of terrorist
spectacular shows us how dangerous he remained until the day he died.

SHARPTON: So you are the only one in the media, the only one that has
really seen these documents and these were documents taken from bin Laden`s
compound, letters that he wrote to his aides?

IGNATIUS: These are documents -- I`ve seen both the Arabic originals
and the translations that have been prepared by the agencies that have been
reviewing them. They have been declassified. I should make clear. I
wasn`t looking at classified documents.

SHARPTON: Right.

IGNATIUS: But they have been declassified and I think they are going
to be put out widely to the American public and the world so people can
read, as I have been able to, what bin Laden was thinking and I think it`s
going to be really fascinating when millions of people are able to read
these documents. What they are going to see is a man who, as I said, was
plotting to the very end to try to do damage to the United States, but
also, a man who was deeply worried that Al Qaeda, his organization, had so
badly hurt its image that as he said in one of the documents, it ought to
think about changing his name.

SHARPTON: Yes. I want to get to that. But let me just push along
the point of the assassination plot on the president and on General
Petraeus. According to what you put out, these words that bin Laden said,
quote, "Obama is the head of infidelity and killing him automatically will
make Biden take over the presidency. Biden is totally unprepared for that
post which will lead the U.S. into a crisis. As for Petraeus, killing him
would alter the war`s path in Afghanistan."

Now, notwithstanding the politics and his assessment of anyone, what I
think people -- what a lot of people have said, OK, got bin Laden, but he
was hiding. But even in hiding bin Laden was still actively, whether he
had the wherewithal or not, planning to do something to the president of
the United States and the general that was over the forces there in
Afghanistan. So this was not a man who was somewhere hiding just trying
not to get caught. He was still actively pursuing a strategy of terrorism,
according to these documents.

IGNATIUS: He was, Reverend Sharpton, trying to run his organization
from in hiding. But you can see in these documents, how difficult it was,
how pin down he was. It would take as long as three months for him to get
answers to these messages he was sending off by couriers to his key
contacts. So in that way, some of this planning was really fanciful. The
organization was on the run and had trouble even communicating with itself
let alone figuring out a ways to organize these plots.

It`s fascinating in the excerpts that you quoted to see how in one
sense how connected he was. He obviously spent a lot of every day watching
the television news.

SHARPTON: Right.

IGNATIUS: But how disconnected he was. Vice president Biden has had
a lot more experience on the foreign affairs committee in truth than the
president did. So to say that he was totally unprepared was surprising.
But Obama was a kind of special focus for bin Laden.

SHARPTON: Right.

IGNATIUS: Bin laden felt that Obama had really turned the tables on
him. He notes in one of these documents that Obama has stopped talking
about the war on terror, which was Bush`s phrase, and then instead was
talking about the war on al Qaeda and bin Laden felt very threatened by
that and I think saw himself kind of toe to toe with Obama and I think that
was why he was focused on trying to kill him.

SHARPTON: Now, quickly, the brand is something you never think a
terrorist would be concerned about. But he actually was concerned about
the brand name of Al Qaeda had been tainted and that was considering
changing the name. Tell us quickly what that was all about.

IGNATIUS: Well, it`s as if he saw himself as a CEO of this terrorist
organization. He does talk about branding, almost as if he was a branding
consultant. He says the problem is that our name has been shortened and
it`s really Qaeda al Jihad but they just called us al Qaeda and has this
negative connotation and they listed ten alternative names. He wants his
associates to think about. In another message, he talks about how we need
to have a deputy Amirs and acting Amirs and the Amirs they just send annual
reports. It`s like he`s trying to run a corporation, again, in hiding, in
desperate straits with his associates out there, ducking for predator
missile strikes.

SHARPTON: David Ignatius from the "Washington Post," great reporting.

IGNATIUS: Thank you, reverend.

SHARPTON: And thank you for sharing it with us tonight.

IGNATIUS: Yes, sir. Pleasure.

SHARPTON: Sarah Palin, she`s back. She`s a force in the GOP. But
what does she want? That`s coming up.

And George Clooney arrested in Washington today. He`s pointing a
celebrity to a worthy cause. We`ll talk about it. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Folks, you remember the Ryan plan. Last year, Congressman
Paul Ryan, the young gun chairman of the budget House committee released
his budget blueprint. It was disastrous for working people. "The Wall
Street Journal" said, quote, "the plan would essentially end Medicare and
nearly two-thirds of Ryan`s budget cuts came from programs like Medicaid
and food stamp that give direct help to millions of people.

The plan was so unpopular that many Republicans ran away from it. But
a year later Paul Ryan is back. Ahead of the new budget introduced next
week, Ryan is out with an unintentional video where he recalls the past,
warns of a coming debt crisis, and blames it all on the Democrats.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN PAUL, (R-WIS), HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: What if your
president, your senator, your congressman knew it was coming? What if they
knew? What they needed to do to stop it from happening and had the time to
stop it but chose to do nothing about it? What would you do about that
person? Be a moral. This is why we`re acting. This is why we`re leading.
This is why we`re proposing and passing the house budget to fix this
problem. So we can save our country for ourselves and for our children`s
future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I got to hand it to Mr. Ryan, great acting. Well done.
Give the man an Oscar. I mean, he fails at budgets but wins when it comes
to videos. In fact, I was so inspired by it, I made one of my own. Take a
look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: What if Paul Ryan knew his plan would kill Medicare? What
if he knew it would hurt seniors? What if he knew when he was walking down
that hallway, he stumbled and tripped a little would not be kind of -- this
budget is a disaster in the making. This is why we`re fighting. This is
why we`re organizing. This is why we`re filming this with all of this very
dramatic music. So we could all have a laugh. Because if we didn`t, we`d
all be crying.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Reverend Sharpton, blueberry pie?

SHARPTON: Thank you. I know just who to send this too.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. With three elections in
the next four days, the republican presidential race is getting really
nasty and team Obama must be enjoying every minute of it. Rick Santorum
says, nominating Mitt Romney would, quote, "be malpractice, that Willard`s
literally the worst person that could possibly want to be the nominee for
2012."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: On so many fronts, there
could be no person in this country we can nominate who would be any worse
on taking on Barack Obama on the most important issue of the day, Obama-
care, than Governor Romney. And it is -- the equivalent of malpractice to
nominate someone who gives away the most important issue in this race.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Malpractice. Couldn`t be anyone worse. Wow. For his
part, Governor Romney is running a new ad in Illinois that accuses Santorum
of, quote, "economic illiteracy."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Santorum`s real weakness is the economy. He`s never run a
business or a state. His plan, economic illiteracy, inexcusable. The
worst idea of any GOP candidate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But you know, Willard, they`re saying the real problem is
you. His real problem is himself. The Atlantic talked to some of the
nation`s top republican strategist about how Romney has failed to
communicate any narrative about why he should be the president. One calls
it, quote, "a clumsy campaign that lacks a message." Another says, their
messaging is a head-scratcher and yet another says, Joe six pack doesn`t
give a damn about delegate counts.

Joining me now is Nia-Malika Henderson, a political reporter from "The
Washington Post" who has been covering the republican presidential race.
Nia, let me ask you, does Romney have a convincing answer to why he wants
to be president?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, "THE WASHINGTON POST": You know, I don`t think
he does yet. And conservatives certainly don`t think he does and some top
Republicans, you have somebody like George F. Will, a prominent
conservative columnist who says that the GOP should essentially give up on
Mitt Romney or whoever the GOP nominee would be and focus instead on
Congress, on swallowing the ranks in the House and on the Senate. So, I
think he has had a problem in convincing Republicans that he is the one to
lead them to victory in November. One of the issues, of course, is that he
has this nominating fight that has gone on much longer than I think his
team realizes and this is the team that is very good at opposition research
and really leveling his opponents but haven`t been so great at messaging.

SHARPTON: Now, because the reason I`m asking is not only the experts
I quoted but if you look at the polls and compare Mitt Romney now when we
asked about his enthusiastic support is that 35 percent but John McCain at
the same point four years ago was at 47 percent. So he`s really not
generating the enthusiasm of John McCain and John McCain wasn`t exactly
filling stadiums.

HENDERSON: That`s exactly right and John McCain of course had to turn
to Sarah Palin to start to fill those stadiums. And even if you talk to
Republicans now, they say that John McCain, they essentially have to hold
their noses and vote for John McCain in 2008. It`s obviously a really big
problem for Romney. How is he going to generate enthusiasm? Now, his
selling point is that he`s got this great campaign infrastructure, he`s got
a lot of money but I think in many ways, he`s got a campaign that is like a
luxury car without an engine. Santorum is the one with the engine, the one
with a lot of momentum on his side.

You go to those campaign rallies and people are really expressing a
real affection, a real connection as well with Rick Santorum. I think the
problem is, Mitt Romney has been running for office, some office, whether
it be senator or governor or president for the last 20 years and I think in
some ways, it`s unrealistic to think that he`s going to become a better
candidate, some of those things that are really fundamental in terms of
running for president, feeling your pain, connecting with people, and some
of the things you have to do like give speeches that inspires have yet to
really do that.

SHARPTON: You know, it`s funny you mention engines because I was
looking at Bob Shrum wrote an article about Romney has the GOP strapped to
the roof of his car. You remember the whole story about Seamus` dog was
strapped to his car when the family was going on vacation? Well, Bob Shrum
says, quote, "Republican voters are the Seamus of 2010, he`s sputtering
toward the nomination as the roof-bound electorate periodically poops on
his parade." And he`s saying, every time we think he`s there, he gets a
setback, they are pooping on his parade. Kind of a little funny comparison
here to the story of Seamus but it does seem like he can`t close the deal.

HENDERSON: Yes, he can`t close the deal and one of the things that
you see the campaign doing is they keep setting the bar. This is the
hurdle that as they finally pass it, then this thing will all be over and
they have done that now in Illinois. We`ve got a primary coming up there
and you see Santorum really edging closer in some of those polls and you`ve
got Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum saying, they are going to be in this
thing through the long haul. They want to deny Mitt Romney this
nomination. They want to take it to a broke it or open convention in Tampa
and he just hasn`t been able to put this away. Leading Republicans to say,
well, if this guy has so much problems, so many problems putting away
Santorum and Newt Gingrich, then what sort of candidate would he make in
the general election against Barack Obama?

SHARPTON: Now, you know, Nia, it`s interesting. "The Wall Street
Journal" had an Article about wealthy people building subterranean mansions
which means they`re building underground, so it won`t be obvious over
ground and Willard Mitt Romney is one of these people doing that. His old
mansion was 3,000 square feet. The new basement, just the basement, is
3600 square feet. And when they were questioning his architect, of course
the architect says, the clients want to be discrete about the scale of
their home and one way to do this is by pushing things underground. Now,
when you bring up things like, 3600 square feet basements and his mansions,
Willard says, like he did this week about, he`s not going to apologize for
being wealthy. Let me show you his statement on that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`ve made a lot of money.
I`ve been very successful. I`m not going to apologize for that. In this
country, we want someone who can help other people become successful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And you know, Nia, I`m not questioning his wealth, I`m not
questioning his huge basement. I just think it`s interesting that maybe
even he knows he needs a bigger House because he`s not going to the White
House.

(LAUGHING)

HENDERSON: Well, that`s really one way of looking at it. Listen, I
think this, again, goes to the tone-deafness that we`ve seen for Mitt
Romney and his inability to really talk about his wealth in a way where he
seems comfortable. I think they are rooting around for an answer here.
This one is probably a little bit better when he says, he won`t apologize
for his wealth and that he wants other people to share the American dream
and to be, you know, live the American dream in the way that he has had to
and he has been able to. And so, that`s a bit better but we will see.

SHARPTON: Well, I think you`re right and I don`t think anyone wants
him to apologize for his wealth. I think he should quit asking Americans
to apologize for being middle class or poor, though. Nia-Malika Henderson,
thanks for being with us tonight.

HENDERSON: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, Sarah Palin is going back to her old playbook of
attacking President Obama.

And George Clooney was arrested in Washington today. I`ll tell you
why I respect him more than ever.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We have a breaking news update from Orlando, Florida, on
the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. We had planned to
interview his parents on our show tonight but in this hour, we`ve learned
that they are headed to the Police Department to listen to the 911 tapes
the night their son was shot and killed by a volunteer neighborhood watch
leader. Three weeks after the shooting, George Zimmerman who claims self-
defense has not been arrested, and Trayvon`s parents are demanding justice.
We plan to talk with the parents soon. We`re also going to Florida next
week to get more answers about this troubling case.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`ve seen superstar George Clooney in many different
roles. He`s been -- an arrogant soldier and most recently a despondent dad
in the descendents. But today, another role. The humanitarian and
activist was arrested along with his father during a protest at the
Sudanese embassy in Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King III, NAACP
President Ben Jealous and several members of Congress were also lead away
in handcuffs. But it was Clooney who led the fight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR: I`m standing here together, me with my father
and at one moment in time when people ask you, where were you? Where did
you stand? I want to say I was standing on the right side of history.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I`ve met and rallied with George Clooney on this issue.
We`ve talked about his activism in the Sudan. I even went to Sudan. A
cause that he`s been passionate about for years. He co-founded this Sudan
Sentinel Project to tell the world about human rights abuses there. And
he`s traveled to the region many times. I fully support what George did
and Dick Gregory and others today and I respect them ever the more for it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: It used to make me sad but now in a political argument
because I know personally, growing up in a military family, the sacrifice
that is made on a daily basis. The troops aren`t red and blue. They are
not black and white. They are not male and female. They are Americans.
When they put their uniforms on, they are Americans and that`s a fact.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back. Sarah Palin is doing anything she can to
stay relevant in the republican race. That means dusting off the old
playbook and going after President Obama. In an editorial posted today,
Palin argues that four years ago the media, quote, "refused to vet Barack
Obama." Then she called for the vetting to begin. Let me repeat, Sarah
Palin is asking the sitting president to get a full background check. Yes,
she is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: So thank you, gentlemen who are
running down the GOP ticket, staying in there, allowing yourselves to be
vetted by the media because they didn`t do it when Barack Obama ran.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Folks, this is not Saturday Night Live. This is the real
thing. And this defines ironic. Sarah Palin is the least vetted vice
presidential candidate in the history of the United States and she`s saying
this now, days after the game change movie showed us just how bad it was.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I`m not sure how much she knows about foreign
policy. She didn`t know why north and South Korea were different
countries.

PALIN: I think the United States has always maintained a great
relationship with the queen.

STEVE SCHMIDT, FORMER SENIOR STRATEGIST FOR SEN. JOHN MCCAIN:
Governor, the queen is not the head of government in England. She`s the
head of the state.

PALIN: Well, then who`s the head of government?

SCHMIDT: The Prime Minister. Do you know what the Fed is?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And yet that person wants to challenge the President to a
debate. Yet, she`s calling for it on her Facebook page. Now, there`s an
idea that would be must-see TV.

Joining me now is Bob Franken, a syndicated columnist with King
Features and Jonathan Capehart, opinion writer for the Washington Post and
an MSNBC contributor. He wrote an article about Palin`s new line of attack
on the President. Thank you both for joining me tonight.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Hi, Rev.

SHARPTON: Let me start with you, Bob. What is Sarah Palin trying to
do saying she wants the President vetted?

BOB FRANKEN, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, first of all, somebody gave
that to her as her word of the day. Up until this point she thought it had
something to do with animal doctors or something like that. But she is
trying to stay in the spotlight. I think that she is giving every
appearance that she is hoping for, some sort of brokered convention that
would, in fact, choose her. She would come out as the candidate and she
would be able to follow her usual pattern, he`s not doing the kind of hard
work, but getting the rewards. Of course, if that occurred, it wouldn`t be
a brokered convention. It would be a shattered convention.

SHARPTON: Now, Jonathan, this week, former McCain campaigns staffers
admitted HBO who had this game change movie that I showed clips of, they
admitted that HBO got it right, Palin was not vetted. Look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHMIDT: I think it showed a process of vetting that was debilitated
by secrecy, that was compartmentalized, that failed, that led to result
that was reckless for the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, Jonathan, you said that one of your all-time favorite
Sarah Palin moments from 2008 was an example of vetting, or a got you
moment. You be the judge. But it was the interview with Katie Couric when
Miss Palin kind of -- well, let me just show it to you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATIE COURIC, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: When it comes to establishing
your world view, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you
regularly read before you were tapped for this to stay informed and --

PALIN: I read most of them, again, with a great appreciation for the
press, for the media.

COURIC: But what specifically, I`m curious?

PALIN: All of them. Any of them that have been in front of me
overall these years.

COURIC: Can you name them?

PALIN: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, any of them, they put in-front of me, I have a vast
amount of sources, Jonathan.

CAPEHART: Yes, you know, one woman`s vetting is that same woman`s
gotcha question when it`s applied to her and that particular interview she
described as a gotcha moment on behalf of Katie Couric but this is a
question that anybody should be able to answer let alone the vice
presidential nominee of a major American political party who stands -- who
stood a chance of being a heartbeat away from the presidency. It was just
that moment among many others, one of many outrageous moments of Sarah
Palin`s short-lived vice presidential career.

SHARPTON: But with all of the joking aside and all the sarcasm aside
that I was using, Bob, how much respect do you have for the American people
if you can even risk putting someone like that or potentially a heartbeat
away from being the head of the free world? I mean, this is serious and
for Americans to see that they were that careless has to say something.

FRANKEN: Well, I can`t be sarcastic? Come on. The truth of the
matter is that she is a product of, unfortunately, I have to say it, it`s
the television age, where you`re able to pretend that you`ve covered a
particular subject with a sound-bites, some little brief cute -- little
eight seconds or nine seconds where you`ve convinced people that you know
what you`re talking about. I can just see in the debate right now, and by
the way, there`s absolutely no reason to have a debate, where the ground
rules would be first of all, no Katie Couric as a moderator, but beyond
that, the ground rules would be, no big words and no complicated questions.

SHARPTON: Now, Jonathan, Palin told CNN, she would be, quote, "open
to a floor nomination at the 2012 GOP convention." She says, "Anything is
possible. I don`t close any doors that perhaps would be opened out there.
So, no, I wouldn`t close that door and my plan is to be at that
convention." Is she doing all of this to stay relevant?

CAPEHART: Of course she is. Of course she is. She used the game
change premier a couple weeks before as a way to get back, thrust herself
back into the national conversation. The game change has been out now for
at least a week and we`re still talking about her, which is her ultimate
goal. Of course she`s going to go to Tampa. There`s no denying that she
is at least visibly a leader within the Republican Party. But the problem
that she has, especially if she has visions of being the, you know, the
person who takes the nomination away from the people who are actually
running, the problem she has is two-fold.

One, she only talks about what she believes and what she thinks and
what she feels about things in the confines of Facebook, twitter, and FOX
News. You`re not getting tough questions. You`re not being challenged.
The vetting that she`s saying, the media should do and President Obama, she
has not been willing to subject herself to. And the second thing that gets
in the way up or whatever vision she might have of the presidency is that
her disapproval rating is in the high 50s, just below 60 percent. Last I
checked, it was about 58 percent. You cannot run for president of the
United States in either party with a disapproval rating like that.

SHARPTON: But, Bob, you know, I think that Jonathan is a little
annoyed. But what is he talking about she doesn`t take serious questions.
She couldn`t take what magazines do you read? That was some serious for
her. She`s still relevant Bob, because she`s relevant to night time
comments. Look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN: You know, it reminds me of a joke we tell in Alaska. What`s
the difference between a hockey mom and a bimbo?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Lipstick. Lipstick.

PALIN: There you go.

Oh, and for those Joe six packs out there playing a drinking game at
home, Maverick.

(LAUGHTER)

I can see Russia from my house.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Oh, yes. People keep asking me, what does Sarah
Palin think of this new game change movie? And I say, I don`t know.
Alaska.

(LAUGHTER)

SHARPTON: As long as people like to laugh at late-night comedy, you
will always be around, Miss Palin. Don`t worry. You don`t have to think
of things on your Facebook. Just turn on SNL. Bob Franken, Jonathan
Capehart, thank you. Have a great weekend.

FRANKEN: Thank you, Reverend.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: And to all of you, have a great weekend. 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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