PoliticsNation, Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Read the transcript from the Tuesday show
Guests: Ken Padowitz; Russell Smith; Benjamin Crump; Catherine Crier; John
Burris, Bob Shrum, Donna Edwards, Maria Teresa Kumar
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Welcome to "Politics Nation." I`m
Breaking news tonight. George Zimmerman`s defense team quits.
Turning Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig met with the press moments ago, dropping
this bomb shell.
CRAIG SONNER, FORMER GEORGE ZIMMERMAN`S ATTORNEY: As of now, we are
withdrawing as counsel for Mr. Zimmerman. We lost contact with him. Up to
this point we`ve had contact every day. He`s gone on his own. I`m not
sure what he`s doing or who he`s talking to, but at this point, we`re
withdrawing as counsel.
As of, I believe, Sunday, and the last couple days, he has not
returned phone calls or text messages or e-mails, leading me to believe
that I can`t go forward speaking to the public about George Zimmerman in
this case, as help representing him because I`ve lost contact with him.
HAL UHRIG, FORMER GEORGE ZIMMERMAN`S ATTORNEY: As of Sunday we lost
contact with George and that he would return our calls, our calls. Our co-
process here is that we are professionals. Craig Sonner, Craig Sonner PA,
Hal Uhrig the defense group, we do this for a living. We try to do a good
job of it. But we are not putting ourselves out to the public as
continuing representatives of a client unless he makes it clear us to he
wants us to be his representatives.
SONNER: I can`t keep coming and talking with the media sane, yes, I
represent George Zimmerman when he has given me indications that I`m not
SHARPTON: This is a huge development, folks, so, huge development in
this story. His former lawyers lost contact with him. So where is he?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SONNER: I`m not going to say anything about where George Zimmerman is
-- his location. It`s been kept a secret from a lot of people. I`m not
going to reveal that now. Based on what I know of him to this point, he`s
not going to flee the country.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: What about the (INAUDIBLE) the
possibility of doing harm to himself?
SONNER: I don`t - I don`t believe so at this point. He is in hiding
and it was better for him to stay in hiding and stay safe.
UHRIG: You can stop looking in Florida. Look much further away from
that, which is also a reason why we didn`t meet with him, because it was
simply not reasonable. Our hands were busy, a, with the law practices that
we already have, and b, we are doing everything we could for his benefit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: George Zimmerman is not in Florida. But it doesn`t end
there. His legal team learned today, he made phone calls that disturbed
them, from TV hosts to get this, the special prosecutor`s office. He
called those prosecutors himself --.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UHRIG: We learned that he had called Sean Hannity of FOX News
directly, not through us, and we believed, I can`t confirm this, we believe
that he spoke directly with Sean, off the record.
Today we spoke with special prosecutor`s office out of Jacksonville.
We had been working over the weekend and diligently trying to set up a
meeting between Mr. Zimmerman and the special prosecutor`s office. We
heard today that George had contacted the prosecutor`s office directly.
One of the things every defense attorney tells his client is, don`t talk to
the prosecutor, don`t talk to the cops, don`t talk to anybody until we get
control of the situation, and do it through counsel.
We were a bit astonished. They told us what we expected was. We are
not going to talk to a criminal -- potential defendant or suspect or target
of an investigation without counsel. We`re just not going to do it. And
they told him that. He then called back after some conversation with us
and said that`s not a problem. I don`t really have any attorneys any more.
Those guys were just my legal advisors.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: His former defense team also said they had no idea, no
idea; Zimmerman was going to start his own defense Web site yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UHRIG: Mr. Sonner was accompanied to the bank by Mr. Zimmerman`s
father, for the purpose of setting up a Web site by which people might make
donations. We went to great lengths to make sure the Web site was set up
in way to which the PayPal account paid directly to an account on which for
his father has the control on the signature rights.
On Sunday, we lost track of George and that he would not return our
calls and we couldn`t get a hold of him. And we had no reason of that on,
we believe it was anything suspect, but on Monday we began fielding
questions about, did we know anything about the, I`m the real George
Zimmerman or George Zimmerman.com Web site. And our initial thought was
that is probably bogus. George hasn`t talked to us about that. We don`t
know about it. So we started inquiring and frankly confirmed that he
through friends or family had in fact set that site up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The lawyers also talked about Zimmerman`s state of mind.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UHRIG: This has been a terribly corrosive process. George Zimmerman,
in our opinion, and information to us, is not doing well emotionally,
probably suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome. We understand he
may have lost a lot of weight. Our concern is it for him to do this when
he has professionals out there working as hard as we were for his benefits,
to handle it this way, suggests that he may not be in complete control of
what is going on. We are concerned for his emotional and physical safety.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Big development. What does it mean?
Joining me now is Benjamin Crump, attorney for Trayvon Martin`s
Ben, thanks for being here.
BENJAMIN CRUMP, MARTIN FAMILY`S ATTORNEY: Thank you, Reverend Al.
SHARPTON: Zimmerman lawyers are out. Is that a surprising press
conference? And what do you make of this development?
CRUMP: It is very surprising, Reverend Sharpton. And it is a big
development because it causes great concern for the family of Trayvon
Martin. His mother, Sybrina Fulton, and his father, Tracy Martin, say does
this mean they don`t know where this guy is at? They`re concerned that
George Zimmerman, the man who killed their son, Reverend Sharpton, is
unaccounted for. His lawyers can`t account for his with whereabouts. He
won`t return their calls. And there were -- is he a flight risk? Will he
ever be brought it justice if and when he is charged for killing their son?
Those are some very serious questions that they have.
SHARPTON: Now, are you concerned about that? I mean, you now have a
guy who has no legal representation, has not an officer of the court in
touch with the prosecutor`s office that can claim responsibility for him.
CRUMP: Yes. Reverend Sharpton, what you just told America, through
the series of interviews with his lawyers, he`s not in the state of
Florida. Nobody knows where this guy`s at. He`s unaccounted for. The
killer of Trayvon Martin is unaccounted for. And that is terribly
troubling for his mother and father, who, simply have been asked that he be
brought it justice. Had he been arrested, from the first day when he
killed that unarmed teenager, then we will be dealing with this situation.
Now we are 43 days and counting, and no arrest. And we have all this we
have to deal with now.
SHARPTON: Now, the calls to the prosecutor, isn`t that unusual to
you? Have you ever heard of that before?
CRUMP: Well, the one thing I do agree with, his former lawyers, you
don`t have -- you don`t call -- talk to the prosecutors or police. You
have your lawyers do it. And so it`s very surprising that he would call
himself. But you know, we`ve said, George Zimmerman is loose cannon. Our
legal team was talking earlier. This is per all of the evidence he is a
loose cannon, Reverend Sharpton, and he is very unpredictable. So we are
very worried about him being a flight risk. Again, the killer of Trayvon
Martin is unaccountable for. Nobody knows where the killer of Trayvon
SHARPTON: Now, now -- and I might add, the prosecutor`s office told
them they are not going to talk it a potential defendant, suspect, wouldn`t
talk to him. But to think he called them and then called back again, and
the lawyers, as you said, stated very clearly, they`ve lost contact with
him. They don`t think he would leave the country, but they don`t know
where he is. They haven`t talked to him since Sunday. But he is far from
Florida, no quote them exactly.-
CRUMP: Yes. And Reverend Sharpton, as I understand it, they never
met him. So, how can they say they don`t think he will leave the country?
He it is troubling to think that person who killed your child is
unaccounted for and the question is, will he ever be brought to justice?
SHARPTON: Let me ask you, Mr. Crump, what does this do to what we
have heard about Mr. Zimmerman`s side of story for his father and his
lawyers. Here`s a guy that told different side of the story, who all of
the sudden just quits talking to his lawyers, starts calling prosecutors,
starts calling TV host, I mean, does that speak a lot to how his story may
or may not have a lot of credibility? I mean, wouldn`t the prosecutor have
to look at the value of his word now?
CRUMP: I think Reverend Sharpton, you are absolutely right. They
should look at everything. They should look at all of the 911 calls he
made before Trayvon Martin`s call, over 46 calls. And about 75 percent of
them were dealing with African-American males as being suspicious. Then
you take this unpredictable irrational conduct into play, and you want to
look at all of that when you look at the totality of the evidence.
And I keep going back to it Reverend Sharpton, because this
unpredictable person who killed Trayvon Martin is unaccounted for. It is
SHARPTON: We cannot lose sight of that. Ben Crump, stand by for one
I want it bring in Catherine Crier. She is a former district court
judge and a prosecutor in Texas and award winning journalist. She is also
a best-selling author with the new book, "patriot acts," one of America`s
most (INAUDIBLE) Republican. Also with us is John Burris, and experienced
criminal defense attorney.
Thank you both for being here tonight.
Let me start with you Catherine, how could this development affect the
CATHERINE CRIER, LEGAL EXPERT: Well, very dramatically certainly. If
either he were to literally disappear or represent himself, and certainly
if he is communicating with the prosecutor saying don`t worry about those
lawyers, I`m really sort of on my own, he seems to be asserting self
But I - I think the prosecution - I would be surprised if the
prosecutors investigators with law enforcement don`t know where he is.
First of all, the lawyers made it clear they knew he left the state. I
think they had an idea before losing contact on Sunday. Besides that,
between land lines, other means of keeping tabs on people, cell phones, I`m
sure law enforcement has a pretty good idea of where he is.
What my gut says, this sort of irrational behavior, you do wonder
about mental stability, which could mean danger to others or danger to
himself. That that could present a twist and possible outcome in this
case, which is not something anyone wants.
SHARPTON: John Burris, you`re a defense attorney. How does this
sound to you? Have you ever had this kind of experience or heard of this
kind of person that is being looked at in such a serious crime, and they
just go -- disappear on their defense attorneys?
JOHN BURRIS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, not so much disappear
but certainly bizarre behavior does happen. Sometimes defendants, you take
them as you find them, have all kind of sociopathic type issues. This is a
case where a guy appears to have real mental issues here, maybe post
traumatic, whatever. But it is not surprising given what he knew about him
at the outset and given what he said. I think could you expect to have
this kind of irrational behavior.
What I`m surprised to be is that the lawyers would quit at this stage.
Given that they have only add day or two, he made statements that are kind
SHARPTON: But they never left. I mean, the lawyers have never met
BURRIS: Well, even so.
SHARPTON: So, for whatever reasons, we don`t know how bizarre the
whole situation was. They were dealing with him by phone. I mean, maybe
they said this whole thing was too bizarre.
BURRIS: It is bizarre. But I understand the lawyers are dealing with
the parent. They are dealing with him, and unless he told them
definitively that he does not want it represent them, I think the lawyers
probably should have stayed around a little bit longer and not made such a
big announcement right now. Unless something dramatically has happened
that maybe even contradicts some of the information they have been talking
about. That is to say, he has told them one story, now he is telling them
SHARPTON: Yes and they don`t want to betray the confidence with the
contradiction of information.
BURRIS: That I could see.
CRIER: John, I haven`t seen you in a while. I agree with you
BURRIS: Yes. How you doing Catherine?
CRIER: When I was listening to the press conference, I thought, we`re
not getting the full story and probably not because the lawyers don`t want
to tell us, but because they are obviously limitations because they have
been representing this man. But something more had to occur because if
they lost contact about 36 hours ago, they are not going to walk away
unless he either fired them, which I think they would have told us, if
specifically and directly fired them, or if there wasn`t something else
going on. So I`m kind of --
SHARPTON: But he said that he told the prosecutor`s office, they were
just his legal advisors. They were not his lawyers.
CRIER: But that`s not the kind of dismissal you need to remove
yourself from the case. You need to talk to your client. You need to know
you are off the case. I wonder if something else that didn`t concern them,
about sort of the ethics grievance committee issues about representation,
about the Web site set up, something going on financially or something
between themselves and the client that is much more, you know, egregious
than what we have heard from them.
SHARPTON: John, could this affect the special prosecutors in terms of
expediting a decision on --
BURRIS: I think -- I think could. And probably should. Assuming she
has the evidence that she wants. I mean, obviously that is a strategic
question when is he going to do it. But the reason I think is important
now, if there is some reason to believe he is gone and you don`t
necessarily know where he is, you want to get be an arrest warrant, a
complaint, arrest warrant out and you want to get this person found as
quickly as you can.
On the other hand, if she waits, that might suggests she is not that
comfortable with the evidence. And maybe they do know where he is. But if
she doesn`t, I think she has it file this complaint very soon, get an
arrest warrant out and get this person found because he could hurt himself.
He could hurt someone else. And that`s real trouble, I think, that
everyone should be appreciative of the fact that this guy is bizarre and he
could do harm to himself or someone else.
SHARPTON: Let me go back to attorney Crump.
Attorney Crump, the special prosecutor said she was not going to go
through the grand jury. She dismissed that yesterday which took first
degree murder off the table in the state of Florida. But she can indict in
second degree murder all homicide negligent manslaughter. What do you feel
the options are now?
CRUMP: Well, a couple things about that Reverend Sharpton. She can
always modify those charges if there is evidence that comes to light that
weren`t a first degree murder charge. She has simply had the take it back
to the grand jury. That`s not unprecedented.
Furthermore, we thought that it was somewhat a positive thing that she
did not convene the grand jury because we understand the legal community
when you take a matter a grand jury, you really are taking it there to let
it die. And where the prosecutor can wash their and absolve themselves on
any liability for our failure to arrest and just put it on the jury. And
say this was a private proceeding. We presented everything. And they
said, there`s not enough evidence.
So, we always thought of that as passing the buck or cop out to go to
the grand jury, so we commend and applaud special prosecutor Angela Corey
for saying, I`m going to make the decision whether to arrest or not arrest.
It is going to be my decision. And we have always maintained, there is
enough evidence to make this decision to simply arrest him. Not to convict
him, but arrest him. The family only wants simple justice. They don`t
want anything else.
SHARPTON: And he could face second degree murder, which is 25 years
to life, manslaughter, five to 30 years, aggravated battery, with a
firearm, three years to 30. All of that, by her charge without a grand
jury even in the state of Florida.
My view has been, from the beginning, there needs to be an arrest,
can`t say there needs to be conviction. We don`t know the charge. We
don`t know the evidence. But there needs to be an arrest. I think it
needs to be an immediate arrest now.
A man sets up a bank account, and all of a sudden you can`t find him.
They may say they think he won`t flee, I don`t know that. I think he
should be arrested.
Martin family, Attorney Ben Crump, see you in Washington, D.C.
Catherine Crier and John Burris, thank you for your time tonight.
CRUMP: Thank you so much.
BURRIS: Thank you.
SHARPTON: We`re back with more on the breaking news today.
Zimmerman`s lawyers quit. So where is George Zimmerman? Stay with us.
SHARPTON: Bomb shell news today in the Trayvon Martin case. George
Zimmerman lawyers lost contact with their client and the attorney for
Trayvon`s family is worried he is a flight risk. We will have more on all
of these next.
SHARPTON: We`re back with the breaking news that George Zimmerman
defense team withdraws from the Trayvon Martin case. The lawyers made some
big news about a call Zimmerman made directly to Angela Corey, the special
prosecutor, currently investigating the shooting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UHRIG: Today we spoke with the special prosecutor`s office out of
Jacksonville. We have been working over the weekend and diligently trying
to set up a meeting between Mr. Zimmerman and the special prosecutor`s
office. We heard today that George contacted the prosecutor`s office
directly. One of the things every defense attorney tells his client is,
don`t talk to the prosecutors. Don`t talk to the cops. Frankly, don`t
talk to anybody until we get control of the situation and do it through
counsel. We were a bit astonished.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Angela Corey announced she is not going through a grand
jury. Meaning, the decision to charge George Zimmerman rests squarely on
Joining me now from Jacksonville, Florida is Russell Smith, the past
president for the Florida association of defense attorneys and friend of
Angela Corey, and from Fort Lauderdale, Ken Padowitz, a former prosecutor.
Thanks to both of you for joining me tonight.
Ken, let me start with you. Ken in your eyes, what is the biggest
development from this afternoon`s press conference with Zimmerman`s former
KEN PADOWITZ, FORMER PROSECUTOR: I`m amazed by the entire press
conference. I mean quite frankly, you have to hold me down and have me
stare wide-eye into the noon day sun before I make one of my clients look
bad on national television. And in essence, when these two attorneys got
on national television, they made their client or former client, Mr.
Zimmerman, look bad. They took away credibility. They chastise him in
public for calling the prosecutor.
And quite frankly, I`m amazed at this turn of developments. I don`t
think what they did was necessarily professional. There may be some
questions as to how they brought about this news conference. But clearly,
it casts some credibility issues on Mr. Zimmerman.
SHARPTON: Now, Russell Smith, you`ve been h a defense attorney and in
fact headed the association there in Jacksonville. Does this not really
impact the case and credibility of Mr. Zimmerman?
RUSSELL SMITH, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I think it certainly
causes people to wonder about his motives and his actions. Both of the
lawyers have good reputations rather in the central Florida area, as
defense lawyers. And this was a pretty unprecedented news conference. It
was very unusual. So you have to assume there, some significant reasons
why it happened.
SHARPTON: Now, you know Angela Corey, the special prosecutors. Of
course, I`m sure you don`t know her thoughts on this case, but just from
what you know of her, how do you think that someone like her would view
this? This has got to impact the -- how she conducts her investigation.
SMITH: Well I think she`s going to keep her eyes on the prize. I
think her -- her goal is going to be to gather as much information as she
can to make a charging decision. As far as the impact of what`s happened
today, I think that the most obvious down side to it is likely to be the
fact that in the event that Mr. Zimmerman is charged and arrested, the
prosecutor`s going to be looking for a higher bond or no bond at all
because now there are questions about whether or not he is, number one a
flight risk, and number two a danger to the community. And those questions
have probably always been there, but probably weren`t as pointed as they
SHARPTON: Now, let me go back to you a minute, Ken, I want to ask
Russell something about Ms. Corey.
But I want it ask you this, Ken. As he states that about if there`s
an arrest, the bond issue and all of that, wouldn`t you also say that part
of the concern now has to be, if the prosecutor`s office wanted to talk to
Mr. Zimmerman, Mr. Zimmerman has no lawyers. How do they do that?
PADOWITZ: Exactly. I mean, what these lawyers did today, whether
intentional or unintentional, is they cast serious doubts on whether or not
Mr. Zimmerman is acting, right now, in a reasonable matter. So clearly,
this prosecutor who is a very, very intelligent and seasoned homicide
prosecutor is going to take that into account. If in fact she finds the
evidence and charges Mr. Zimmerman, she is going to definitely be asking
for a bond that is going to prevent Mr. Zimmerman, if he is a flight risk.
And there should be definitely be questions raised by the two lawyers that
represented Mr. Zimmerman as to his reasonableness. As to whether or not
he is acting rational and whether or not he is in fact a flight risk.
SHARPTON: Now, let me go back to you about Mrs. Corey, the special
prosecutor, Attorney Smith.
We spoke with the defense attorney who knows Angela Corey`s record
well. He says this to us, quote, "Angela Cory always prosecuted
tenaciously cases involving shootings. We have the highest percentage of
cases on death row of any circuit in Florida. So I would be very surprised
if she does not charge George Zimmerman." Do you think that`s a fair
SMITH: I think well, it`s absolutely true that we have more people on
death row on the fourth judicial circuit than I believe any other circuit
in Florida and Angela a tenacious prosecutor. They seek the death penalty
frequently in cases where other prosecutors may have a different view of
the evidence, may choose to abandon the death penalty in favor after life
sentence. But she is a straight forward person. And she comes by that
dedication to prosecuting violent crime honestly. She`s a very, very
involved in the victim`s rights movement. And to her detriment in some
cases, some critics say that she loses sight of her obligation because she
is so determined to get justice for victims.
So, you know, that is her nature. And it`s never stopped her from
doing a good job or being a tenacious prosecutor. But some people do
believe that it causes problems in her perspective.
SHARPTON: Now, Ken, the most controversial case prior to the Trayvon
case was the case of Cristian Fernandez, a 12-year-old, Corey is charging
with first degree murder as an adult. When she explained how she deals
with victim`s first, prosecution style, listen to her.
I`ll read it to you. "Sometimes, this is her saying this. Sometimes
the people murdered aren`t innocent. Sometimes they`re drug dealers.
Sometimes they put themselves in harm`s way. And you know what? We fight
just as hard for them when we`re done with this, you`ll know what we could
do with what we had. You`ll have every answer you need."
This is how she explained her prosecution style. With that speak to
you saying, that she is one that even if someone tries to disparage the
victim, that has nothing to do with her going after the evidence and that
the person that killed them or shot them or assaulted them was in fact
guilty after crime? Ken?
PADOWITZ: Well, it sounds to me like she takes to heart what
prosecutors are supposed to be, which is minister of justice. They are
supposed to seek the truth, sometimes the truth warrants at someone is
charged with a crime and faces a very stiff sentence, and sometimes it
means that charges are not filed and the person hasn`t broken the law or
there is not sufficient evidence to charge that person and bring it to
So, it sounds to me that she can be tough and yet be fair. And I
think that`s what we want in prosecutors. We want justice to be served but
we want that toughness to be balanced with fairness.
SHARPTON: Russell Smith and Ken Padowitz. Thank you both for your
PADOWITZ: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Still ahead, switching gears, former President Bush rushes
out to defend his tax cuts and the people he calls the quote so-called
rich. We`ve got a different view on that today for President Obama. Stay
SHARPTON: The National Action Networks annual convention begins
tomorrow in Washington, D.C. at the convention center. Lasts through
Saturday. The opening speaker will be Attorney General Eric Holder. Over
the next few days, there will be many others in attendance, including the
family of Trayvon Martin. For more information, go to
SHARPTON: Welcome back to "POLITICS NATION." The President was on
the road today selling his economic vision. One built on having every
American pay their fair share. This is built on the principle of fairness.
But today former President Bush emerged to express a very different view.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE BUSH (R), FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I wish they
weren`t called the Bush tax cuts! If they were called somebody else`s tax
cuts, they are probably less likely to be raised. If you raise taxes, on
the so-called rich, you are really raising taxes on the job creators.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The so-called rich, the so-called rich got a lot of so-
called money during your so-called presidency. In fact, the Bush tax cuts
left the current president with $1.3 trillion deficit. Today President
Obama said, we don`t want to go back to those policies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: Here`s the news. We tried
this for eight years before I took office. At the beginning of the last
decade, the wealthiest Americans got two huge tax cuts. Financial
institutions, they were all allowed to write their own rules or find their
way around rules. We were told the same thing we`re being told now. This
is going to lead to faster job growth. This going to lead to greater
prosperity for everybody. Guess what? It didn`t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: But it did not work. But the Republicans keep pushing more
of the same. Is that any way to win an election?
Joining me now is Congresswoman Donna Edwards, democrat for Maryland
and Bob Shrum, democratic strategist. Thank you both for being here.
BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Glad to be here.
SHARPTON: Let me start with you Congresswoman. Republicans, let me
ask you about them. Can they win by repackaging George Bush`s failed
REP. DONNA EDWARDS (D), MARYLAND: Well, I have to tell you, I mean,
it seems extraordinary, but I don`t know what world George Bush lives in or
Mitt Romney for that matter, but there is no such thing as so-called rich.
And these people are rich. And if Republicans and Mitt Romney had their
way, millionaires would get another $250,000 while people who work every
day making $40,000 would have to pay more in their taxes. This isn`t about
so-called rich, this is about the wealthiest Americans getting huge tax
breaks over the last decades. Actually, not creating jobs but losing jobs
and tanking the economy. And it`s time to restore what the President said
which is fairness in our tax system.
SHARPTON: Now, Bob, you`re a political guru and have run many
campaigns. Paul Ryan, the money show`s today stoking the speculation that
he may be out for VP bid. But on the way, he slammed inequality. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: We`ve gotten kind of used to this sort
of verbal tantrums from the President. To me it is a little more petulance
than presidential. I think people think the Buffet Rule is sort of a
budget pixy dust that if we just do this, we`re going to fix our fiscal
problems. It is a huge tax increase on job creators.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Bob, is that smart politically? And given to where the
public -- when you look at the Washington Post poll, Americans think
unfairness is a bigger issue than overregulation. Fifty two percent say,
unfairness is an issue. Thirty seven percent say, overregulation. The
politics of this doesn`t seem to work, as I see it.
SHRUM: No, it doesn`t. And by the way, I think Paul Ryan would be a
great vice presidential choice for Mitt Romney. He would make it
absolutely clear where Romney stands and we could have this debate. You
know, these so-called job creator. We`ll going to talk about so-called,
these are so-called job creators. Under George W. Bush`s tax cuts. And
they do belong to him. And they should be gotten rid off. Under those tax
cuts, we had no net jobs creation for eight years.
SHRUM: Under Bill Clinton, we created 20 million jobs in eight years
with higher marginal tax rates. So, I think the President is doing the
right thing politically. He ought to ignore the charges about class
warfare. It`s the same kind of thing that was said about FDR, about Harry
Truman, about JFK when he stood up to this steel in 1962, it is what`s
always said when somebody goes out there and fights for ordinary people
against powerful vest of interests.
SHARPTON: Well, Congresswoman, let me tell you something very
interesting. The one president that they all claim to admire, Ronald
Reagan. Well, there`s a new video floating around this week giving another
instance of Reagan calling for the rich to pay their fair share. Look at
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He said, I am
legally able to take advantage of the present tax code, nothing dishonest,
doing what the law prescribes, and wind up paying a smaller salary than my
secretary gets. Or I mean, paying -- sorry, paying a smaller tax than my
secretary pays. And he wrote me the letter to tell me, he would like to
come to Washington and testify before Congress as to how that`s possible
for him to do and why it is wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, Congresswoman Edwards, this is not President Obama
talking about Warren Buffett. This is 1985, Ronald Reagan talking about an
executive wrote him saying that he did not think it was fair, he was paying
less tax rates than his secretary. Sounds familiar? So, if Ronald Reagan
was upset about it, how are we having tantrums from Barack Obama in the
words of Paul Ryan?
EDWARDS: Well, I think, you know, Paul Ryan may be a smart guy, but
he is completely off base. And the fact is that 98 percent of Americans
are making under that $250,000, they wouldn`t have to bear any of the brunt
of what the President talked about today and Ronald Reagan understood
fairness. And it is not fair for millionaires and billionaires to pay a
higher tax rate than firefighters and teachers. And the American public
actually really does understand this. This is a basic simple question of
fairness. Millionaires and billionaires should pay their fair share and
the rest of Americans should be able to go to work, have opportunity,
invest in our schools, invest in the 21st century. And we can`t do any of
that as long as the top two percent, the wealthiest two percent in this
country are not contributing their fair share. As Americans, we all
understand fairness and what the President laid out today, as he said, we
should have a vote on the Buffet Rule. You know, if Republicans really
believe that, if Paul Ryan really believes that, let`s vote on it when we
come back into session next week and I`m prepared to take that vote for
working people and for the American people, and let the rest of those guys
take the vote from millionaires and the billionaires.
SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you Bob, when you look at the economic
issues though, that`s the one area that President Obama and Willard Romney
are running head to head. If you deal with the polls that have just come
out that has the President way head with favorability, but on economic
issues, creating jobs. President Obama, 46. Romney, 43. Handing him
taxes, 45-42. Handling the economy, Romney actually comes out ahead, 47 to
43. And handling the deficit, Romney has a wider margin thereof 51-38.
How does the President deal with convincing the American people during
these tough times, he can handle the economy better than Romney and break
ahead as he is in other areas in the polling?
SHRUM: Well, it depends to some extent on events. He is in the
process of doing it. All of those numbers that you site are significant
improvements for him. It is actually remarkable for a democrat to be
better on tax policy. I think that`s because he`s beginning to win this
tax argument, people understand exactly what he is saying. What
Congresswoman Edwards just said, which is that he doesn`t want to raise
taxes on the middle class, he just wants the top two percent to pay their
fair share. Events are going to matter here but we have also seen a
primary season in which Mitt Romney has convinced people he doesn`t
understand their problems. He`s not on their side. You know, his
difficulty is not that he`s rich, it is that he comes across as someone who
would be a president for the rich, not the people. And that kind of stark
contrast is going to be driven, I think, all the way through this campaign
SHARPTON: Congresswoman Donna Edwards and Bob Strum, thank you both
for joining me.
SHRUM: Thank you.
EDWARDS: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Gone and not forgotten, he hopes. Rick Santorum is
suspending his campaign. But the damage is done for Willard and the rest
of the Republican Party. We`re talking about how this long primary has
hurt Romney for the general election.
SHARPTON: When it all comes down to it, who would you rather have a
drink with? Who do you like more? That`s next.
SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. Republicans have spent a
lot of time demonizing people who relied on food stamps to feed their
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: No program in our government has surged out of
control more dramatically than food stamps.
NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Obama is the
most effective food stamp president in American history. No president has
put more people on food stamps than Obama.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Multimillion dollar lottery winners are getting
HERMAN CAIN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you don`t have a job
and you`re not rich, blame yourself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: They also love attacking programs that help the poor. The
new Paul Ryan budget would cut food stamp funding by $133 billion over ten
years. But in this debate, facts matter. And I have some food for thought
for the GOP. Food stamps actually help reduce poverty. A new government
study shows that food stamps have lowered the poverty rate by nearly eight
percent in 2009. The most recent data in the study. The food stamp
program also lifted more than five million people including over two
million children above the poverty line in 2010. Facts matter Republicans.
Food stamps are helping people. I think it`s time Republicans stick a fork
in their attacks on food stamp. After all, the battles are over, it might
come down to this, who would you rather have a beer with? Some new poll
numbers on likability. That`s next.
SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. Today, Mitt Romney lost
his last serious rival. Rick Santorum announced that he was finally
suspending his campaign. But for Willard, the damage has been done. Back
in January, when Santorum won the Iowa caucus, Romney had an un-
favorability rating of 34 percent. But over this long bruising primary,
Romney`s un-favorability rating had skyrocketed up to 50 percent. Voters
now think President Obama is friendlier and more likeable than Willard by a
huge margin, of 39 points. Santorum`s success in the primary also helped
push Romney further and further to the right.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Planned Parenthood, we`ll
going to get rid of that.
I`m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Anyone who has questions about the distribution of
wealth and power in this country is envious, is it about jealousy or isn`t
ROMNEY: You know, I think it`s about envy. I think it`s about class
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Joining me now is Maria Teresa Kumar, executive director of
Voto Latino and an MSNBC contributor. Thank you for being here.
MARIA TERESA KUMAR, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks for having me.
SHARPTON: Let me ask you, does Santorum dropping out mean Willard
will break the etch-a-sketch and tone down its extreme rhetoric?
KUMAR: Well, I think that he`s going to try to pivot. The problem is
that the republican primary has taken so long, that instead of drying on
his strength which was suppose to be the narrative, of bringing in the
economy, creating jobs, being that business entrepreneur, he has actually
gone to the extreme right and unfortunately really not only disenfranchised
and turned off women voters, Latino voters, but also middle class
Americans. The Republican Party has never had a more unfavorable time than
today. But it`s because they got so nasty and so out of touch with what
middle class America is actually facing every day.
SHARPTON: Now, he also has a problem because people don`t feel he
understands it, when you look at the polls, it says that when voters were
asked, well who understands the economic problems more, President Obama 49
percent, 37 percent to Mitt Romney. And just un-favorability and who they
think more favorable of. President`s way up over Romney. I mean, even if
he says, well, let`s not debate women`s issue. Let`s debate who would you
rather go have a beer with, he would lose either way, it appears.
KUMAR: And not only does he lose either way, but not only do they
want to have a beer with President Obama. President Obama right now is
offering them solutions and opportunity. The fact that Mitt Romney is so
married himself to the Ryan plan, it could be problematic down the road.
Because it`s not entrepreneurial, it`s not innovative. It is hitting the
panic button and slashing the poor, I mean, and you know, and basically
hitting the panic button and sayings, you know what, we`re going to
basically give to the rich by slashing opportunity to the poor, ending
social contract that we have with America. Where as President Obama right
now is talking about opportunity, innovation, really hitting at the core of
what the American spirit is and saying, you know, what? It might be tough
now but we have increased job growth in the last three months and we are
SHARPTON: Now, Maria, part of the problem though is that Willard just
seems awkward on some things. I mean, let me give you some examples.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: Look at this in here. We`re all nice and wet and like a can
Last night, I was in Mississippi by the way, and I had catfish.
I`m learning to say y`all and I like grits and things are strange,
things are happening to me.
I love this state. Things go down the right pipe. I like see the
I drive a mustang and Chevy pickup truck. Ann drives a couple of
Let me see if I can get my arms around everybody. Come on, much
closer, much closer, oh, my goodness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Kind of weird, Maria.
KUMAR: Who drives a couple Cadillacs? And who would want to put that
in the forefront center when so many people are losing their homes and
their jobs. It clearly states that he is out of touch. And there is one
thing to be wealthy but another thing to be empathetic with the people that
you are trying to lead and represent and trying to address the issues that
they care about. And this are basic pocketbook issues and it demonstrates
that he doesn`t understand that. And I think that not only is a little
weird, it is a little disheartening that the presidential nominee can`t
basically sympathize in saying that when people are struggling that they
are envious. That has nothing do with it.
SHARPTON: And I think that the fact that now we don`t have others on
stage to show he is a little better than them, the fact he`s got to stage
by himself, maybe his undoing. Maria Teresa Kumar, thanks for your time
KUMAR: Thank you, Al.
SHARPTON: Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts
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