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PoliticsNation, Thursday, April 19, 2012

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Guests: Emanuel Cleaver; David Corn; Jack Rice; Elijah Cummings, Erin McPike, Lilly Ledbetter, Jackie Kucinich, Michael Eric Dyson


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

Tonight`s lead, times are tough, but have no fear, Republicans are
here for us. Yes, they have a plan.

Today house Republicans approved Eric Cantor`s plan $46 billion plan
to help small business owners hit hardest by this recession. What a
wonderful idea. Help out those moms and pops businesses, yet small
business owners like and Paris Hilton who has an entertainment company.
She is just barely scrapping by. Small businesses owners like Donald
Trump. He is just trying to keep food on the table. Small businesses like
Oprah Winfrey. You know, she`s to make ends meet.

That`s right, Oprah, have no fear, Eric Cantor and friends won`t let
you down. Canter and company are coming to the rescue. And I`m sure given
the fiscal hoax in the GOP. This bill is fully paid for.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: The president has had the opportunity
to change that path, but he made it worse. He has given us deficit and
debt.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: We can`t continue to spend
money we don`t have.

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Why stop spending money
we don`t have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Yes. That`s right. We can`t spend money we don`t have.
Wait a second, I`m getting late breaking word -- wait a minute, right, the
control room is telling me it`s not paid for? That`s right, this very
week, the house GOP pushed a plan to cut $33 billion from food stamps in
the name of fiscal responsibility, and yet, today, their looking to add $46
billion to the deficit. Forty six is still bigger than 33, right?

This isn`t right, and this is the kind of unfair policy that the
Republicans and Willard Romney want the American public to accept.

Joining me now is Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, a Democrat from
Missouri and David Corn, Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones. His new
book is "Showdown, the inside story of how Obama fought against Boehner,
Cantor and the Tea Party."

Thank you both for joining me.

REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D), MISSOURI: Good to be with you.

SHARPTON: Congressman, let me start to you. We will get to Romney,
but, what do you make of Cantor`s small business plan for Oprah, Paris, and
Donald Trump?

CLEAVER: Well, I voted against it because as did most of the
Democrats and one of the reasons we voted against it is because it is not a
mom and pop proposal. It is a small business bamboozle. And what we are
seeing is in one year, if this proposal makes it to the president`s desk,
and if he signs it, it would be $46 billion added to the deficit in one
year.

And on top of that, most of the money will go to the wealthiest
people, about $60,000 for millionaires will be the tax cut that would go
through this plan, would it be signed.

The president has already said that he was going to veto the plan.
So, this was nothing for something to put out there as a talking point.

SHARPTON: Now, the fact is that when you look at the plan, David,
it`s talking about employees -- companies with employees under 500?

DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: Yes, their definition of small business is
rather large, and there is even a policy argument that this plan, because
of the way it structures a tax cut, will leave employers to hire less
employees.

SHARPTON: Right.

CORN: So, there`s - the whole point there is saying this is going to
be sphere for employment, for hiring. But there`s a strong policy argument
that the way this works is the exact opposite.

Now, I have no doubt that the smart people in Eric Cantor`s staff and
John Boehner`s staff could come together and put together a bill that would
not benefit Oprah, Donald, and Paris, but to benefit mom and pop stores if
that was the point here. You can set a bolter to rules. I mean, the tax
code isn`t 20,000 pages long for nothing. But yet, they didn`t do this.
They slapped this together. It adds us $46 billion to the deficit, showing
that when they really talk about the deficit, they only use it as a sledge
hammer to go after low income programs, the middle income programs and they
don`t truly care about fiscal responsibility.

SHARPTON: Now, congressman. Paul Ryan was attacked by the Catholic
bishops and churchmen about his budget, and you dismissed as well chair in
the congressional black caucus. He just dismissed this today. Watch his
response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: The catholic bishops conference has
come out and said they don`t like what plan entails for cutting food stamps
and a child credit for illegal immigrants. What do you think about that?

RYAN: This is not all of the catholic bishops, and we disrespectfully
disagree. We think that quadrupling spending in this area has not
succeeded to get people out of poverty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Your response, Reverend Congressman Cleaver.

CLEAVER: Well, I tell you if there is some suggestion that cutting
food stamps, hurting the poor, is going to help them get out of poverty,
then we should just take their homes, and clothing, and food, and then they
would automatically rise to a level of affluence.

This is a sad moment, and I think the people of this country are going
to see through it that there is a rather bold attempt to lift up the
already up lifted, and to pull down those already down.

And if you look at the budget that the house passed, it`s clear, it`s
on paper, that the poor are the ones who are going to be victimized again.
They`re already victimized in the poverty, and they will be again should
the budget pass.

SHARPTON: Well, the fact is that nearly 75 percent, almost 75 percent
participants in food stands are families with children. And from a
government point of view, it is established that the poverty rate went down
eight percent in 2009. It was reduced largely because of food stamps. It
was in fact directly connected to food stamps.

Let me go back to you, David, the president made a statement today
that Willard didn`t seem to like and took personal. When the president in
talking about how Americans for everyone said something to the effect about
he didn`t grow up with a silver spoon in his mouth which most Americans
did. Let me show you what he said and what Willard`s response was.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I wasn`t born with a
silver spoon in my mouth. Michelle wasn`t, but somebody gave us a chance.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m not going to apologize
for my dad and his success in life. He was born poor. He worked his way
to become very successful despite the fact he didn`t have a college degree.
I`m not going to apologize for my dad`s success, but I know the president
likes to attack fellow Americans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That was Romney`s direct response to the president`s
statement. One, I didn`t pick up that the president was directly attacking
them. And in fact, I think he was trying to identify the need to help
average Americans, and he took it very personal, Mr. Romney, is he too thin
skinned or trying to make political points, David?

CORN: Well, I think any time the president refers to silver spoon
from now on until November, you know that some people will take that to
mean Mitt Romney and I mean justifiably. I mean, the issue here really is
Mitt Romney, not his legacy or his family money or the money he made
himself, but what his policies would do.

And you know, I think the one else wants to deep to look at Mitt
Romney and think of him as the monopoly man and not because he, himself, as
bags of money and elevators for cars and the like. But because his
policies would give tremendous tax breaks to the people who do play real
life monopoly and their often put their interest ahead of the interests of
America.

And I have to say, Mitt Romney is getting upset in saying that the
president attacks people, that`s what he does. I have a piece coming out
tomorrow which I know the many times that Mitt Romney has attacked the
president saying he doesn`t believe in America, he doesn`t understand
America, he doesn`t understand the American economy, he doesn`t believe in
American exceptionalism? You know, what is Romney`s campaign, except an
attack on President Obama.

SHARPTON: Yes.

CORN: I mean. He`s allowed to do that, but then he should not say,
my goodness, the president is attacking someone. And that`s the problem
here.

SHARPTON: Well, I think Reverend Congressman Cleaver, when you hear
David talk about the American people wants to deal with the economic
policy, I think the polls will show that even thought, on the monopoly sets
I used to play on and I never saw a house with elevators for cars, but not
withstanding that, Americans say 56 percent say spend more raise taxes.
Thirty seven percent say lower taxes cut spending. Then you go 67 percent,
government should do more to help middle class, 57 percent wealthy pay less
than their fair share, 52 percent government should do more to help housing
market, 51 percent cap gains should be taxed as ordinary income.

So it`s clear that on the policy questions, away from the personal
references and attacks, Congressman Cleaver, it seems the American people
are on the president`s side.

CLEAVER: Absolutely. If you look at Simpson Bowls, for example, they
suggest we have a revenue problem. Those people who watch in your show,
Reverend, can understand this if they are involved in the church.

If the board of trustees or the deacon comes to the pastor and say we
have a problem here. And so, we have to stop bible study on Wednesday
because we got to turn the lights out, we`re going to have to take a 10
percent cut in your salary and we are not going to be able buy Sunday
school books.

At some point, the pastor will say, wait a minute guys. You have to
tie it more. You have to put more in the plate. It`s not just a matter of
cuts. You have to add money to the plate so that we can do our ministers
and that`s what we are right now in this country.

We can`t just make cuts, we need to bring in new revenue, and the
reason that we need to do that is because some people are not paying their
fair share, and if they did, we would be in a much better space. $46
billion will drop out of the budget if this tax plan is approved.

SHARPTON: Well, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver. Thanks for being with
us tonight. And thank you for giving David Corn that crash on church
politics.

(LAUGHTER)

SHARPTON: David Corn. Thank you for coming on the show tonight.

CORN: As the one non-reverend on the panel here.

SHARPTON: Ahead. The woman claiming to be at the center of the
secret service sex scandal is speaking out and we are learning new details
of what happened inside the hotel that night in Columbia.

Plus, oops, he did it again. Willard Romney blames President Obama
for the devastating Bush policies. The ultimate gotcha is coming.

And out of control, Congressman Allen West comes to Ted Nugent`s
defense on the day he meets with the secret service. It`s time for
leadership to speak up.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The woman that claims to be at the center of the secret
service sex scandal is speaking. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back on "Politics Nation" with explosive new details
emerging in the secret service sex scandal.

The woman claiming to be at the heart of the scandal is sharing her
story with the "New York Times" on what she says happened a week ago
tonight in Columbia.

NBC News has not independently confirmed this. But the woman says she
says she and another woman were approached by a group of American men at
the club. Quote, "they never told me they were with Obama. They were very
discreet." And the entire scandal allegedly erupted over a disagreement
about her price. She would charge him $800, but quote, "the man told her
he had been drunk when they discussed the price. He countered with an
offer of 50,000 pesos, the equivalent of about $30."

The scandal was her has never scared and worried. Quote, "this is
something really big. This is the government of the United States. I have
nervous attacks. I cry all the time."

Meanwhile, the investigation is widening, agents are currently
canvassing the area around the hotel and are reportedly investigating past
trips. And three agents are no longer with the secret service, and that
number is expected to climb.

Joining me now is Congressman Elijah Cummings, a senior Democrat on
the House committee on oversight and government reform and Jack Rice, a
former CIA officer.

Thank you both, for being here tonight.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: It`s good to be with you.

SHARPTON: Congressman, as the ranking member on oversight committee,
will the woman`s account be used in this investigation?

CUMMINGS: I`m sure it will. Director Sullivan has told us that they
will leave no stone unturned, I so think they will be looking into every
single detail, talking to every single person that may have had any kind of
involvement with this incident.

SHARPTON: Now, will there be more people be let go?

CUMMINGS: I cording to the director and the word we got from his
office today, he does expect more people to be leaving one way or the other
within the next several days.

SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you, Jack, you`re formally with the CIA.
How bad is a blackmail possibility here? How bad of a problem is exposing
the possible blackmail in this situation?

JACK RICE, FORMER CIA OFFICER: That`s always the concern. Again,
what this is about is about access to the president of the United States.
And when you talk about teams like this, these are jump teams. These are
guys who go out in front of the president everywhere in the world, and they
don`t always just end up in Columbia. They can end up any place.

If you expose them in this way and then you can manipulate them, you
have the potential of getting to very serious people, in this case,
potentially the president. There is almost nothing worse than that.
That`s not left or right, that`s just reality.

SHARPTON: Now, Congressman Cummings. Congressman Peter King says he
expects more resignations imminent, and then Senator Jeff Sessions tried to
make the scandal a political issue today. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: GSI, secret service, Solyndra,
problem after problem. I believe that the president of the United States
is the chief executive officer for the entire governmental bureaucracy. I
don`t sense that this president is showing that kind of managerial
leadership at this point in history, my view is one of the most important
qualities in a president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, White House spokesman, Jay Carney responded. Let me
show that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: What`s your respond to Senator
Sessions?

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: That sounds very much like a
lawmakers attempting to politicize something that is not at all political.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Congressman Cummings, is that fair to blame this on the
president`s management skills?

CUMMINGS: I think it`s very unfair, and I think that Sessions was
wrong.

We have a situation here - then again, we don`t even have all of the
facts yet, it`s still being investigated. But we have a situation where we
have some officers who, in my opinion, use very poor judgment. And one of
the things that I said is I really think in this instance, we need to take
politics out of this and make sure this organization, which I consider one
of the most elite and outstanding organizations, security organizations in
the world, is all that it says it is. And I think it is, and I`m hoping
this is just an aberration.

But the fact is, is that I was telling Director Sullivan, I think one
of the reasons why the secret service is so effective, is because they have
a reputation as being the very, very best. And it would be almost
impossible to pierce their armor.

And I think when ever anybody thinks there may be a possibility; just
the appearance is something that I don`t want. An when I talk to members
of the secret service, both present and once who have been there in the
past, they tell me that they are very upset about this, and they don`t want
any bad apples in their mix.

SHARPTON: Jack, you have been in that world, now that we`re getting
more and more facts, give us a sense of people around the country of how
serious this is.

RICE: It is truly serious. Absolutely, and again I`m thinking about
this, not just as a former CIA officer, I`m a former prosecutor and a
criminal defense attorney. And so, I see this from different perspectives.

But I think the political aspect is critical one here too. You can`t
look at the secret service as a Republican or Democratic organization. I
mean, Sullivan has been at secret service since `83.

SHARPTON: That`s right.

RICE: He has been the director since 2006, and he was put in by
President Bush. And the thing is that doesn`t make him a Republican. This
is a systemic question. You have to look at not just the two, three or
five or six or ten guys. If there is a chain of events, and if there is a
leadership problem within the secret service, that in itself is not a left
or right question either.

To look at this, is to look more broadly now and say, don`t just look
at Columbia. If it was done in Columbia, was it done where else these jump
teams have been? That has to be looked at because it`s absolutely critical
too.

SHARPTON: And you`re dealing with a lot of agents, and you`re dealing
with some people that help key positions. Look at the three former
officers that have been dismissed or resigned. One is a supervisory
employee allowed to resign. One supervisory employee fired. One
nonsupervisory employee resigned.

You talked to the ahead of the secret service, Mr. Sullivan,
Congressman Cummings. Do you get a sense from him of embarrassment or
outrage? I mean, what is he communicating with you that you could share
with us?

CUMMINGS: He is, he is outraged, and I believe that just based on my
conversation with him which lasted for over an hour, I believe he would
have fired every one of these people immediately if he could have. But
certainly there are certain things that he has to do.

But I get the impression that he is embarrassed and very upset about
all of this with his agency. I believe that they will be harder on
themselves then the Congress could ever be, and we`re pretty rough as you
well know.

(CROSSTALK)

SHARPTON: Congressman, we have to leave it there.

Jack Rice, thank you for your time tonight.

RICE: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, Willard`s big flip-flop at a factory in Ohio.
He is trying to blame President Obama for the failures of the Bush era.

Plus, Ted Nugent`s speech with the secret service but refuses to
apologize his rants against the president.

And Lily Ledbetter is here live. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back, folks. Poor Willard, when he tries to
connect with regular people, he just can`t day cool. The latest episode of
awkward presidential candidate happened as he sat down at a campaign event
outside of Pittsburgh.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I`m not sure about these cookies, they don`t like -- did you
make them? Did you make these cookies? No, no, no. They came from the
local 7-11, bakery, or whatever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He thought the cookies were from 7-11. It`s not exactly a
compliment if to ask if a dessert that looks homemade came from the home of
slurpee. The cookies were actually donated by popular local baker. But
the bakery`s owner could dub his response for the one percent candidate. He
told the `Wall Street Journal," "let him eat cake next time."

This wasn`t Willard`s worst flow in the campaign trail this week.
That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION, Willard Mitt Romney`s
seems to have knack for bad photo-ops. In February, he was ridiculed for
giving a speech to tens of thousands of empty seats at Detroit`s Ford
Field. And today, he went to an empty dry wall factory in Lorain, Ohio to
attack President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We`re in a factory, this
factory is empty, it`s owned by National Gypsum. It was closed in 2008 at
the beginning of the economic downturn. Had President`s economic plans
worked, President Obama`s plans work that it would be open by now?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: This is ridiculous, even for Willard, that factory closed
down in 2008 George W. Bush was president. He closed down because of the
housing crisis which was caused by the Bush economic policies. So, how is
it President Obama`s fault, the Lorain City Council president says, quote,
"What are they going to blame him for next? The Titanic?" But Willard has
tried this phony blame game before. Last July, he stood before closed
factory in Allentown, Pennsylvania and blamed its failure on President
Obama. But the town`s mess at the record straight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ED PAWLOWSKI, MAYOR OF ALLENTOWN, PA: This particular plant hadn`t
close -- nothing to do with President Obama`s policies or even the economic
condition of the country. This was actually part of a venture capitalist
firm that bought this company, they were looking a consolidate, they
actually closed this plant to a number of other plants.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Willard clearly thinks this phony theatrics will help them
at the polls. And he needs the help. A brand new NBC News poll shows
President Obama winning a head-to-head matchup with Mitt Romney 49 to 43.
Joining me now are Erin McPike, reporter for Real Clear Politics and Jackie
Kucinich, national politics reporter for USA Today. Thanks to both of you
for joining me.

JACKIE KUCINICH, USA TODAY: Thanks, reverend.

SHARPTON: Erin, does Romney really think he can blame President Obama
for a factory that closed down under President Bush?

ERIN MCPIKE, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: The point that the Romney campaign
has been making is that under President Obama`s economic recovery plan, a
lot of these factories haven`t come back fast enough, and so this is about
Mitt Romney making a promise saying, if I am president, the economic
recovery will be faster and stronger we`ll see more of these factories that
have been shut or come back more quickly.

SHARPTON: So, that`s their response. But Jackie, do you really think
that given Mr. Romney`s record that he really wants to talk about factories
closing. Look at this, Bain Capital, which he was -- under them,
bankruptcies in Dade International close of factories, 1700 jobs lost,
American Pad and Paper bankruptcy, 358 jobs lost. GS Industries, 750 jobs
lost bankruptcy. I mean, I really wouldn`t bring up the factory closing if
I was Willard.

KUCINICH: Yes, I understand what you`re saying but I think that`s
right. That is part of a larger message if the Romney campaign is pushing.
And they have to be saying something like this because as the economy gets
better, what do you say? OK, well, it`s not growing fast enough if you`re
the Romney campaign, because otherwise what would they say? And so, this
is part of the larger messaging strategy that they`re putting out there.
And you know, he said with the record of Bane Capital, that, you know, some
things were successful, some things weren`t, that`s how the economy works.
So, he`s tried to spend it that way.

SHARPTON: Well, he can try, all right, let`s move on to the polls a
minute, I`m not too convinced it`s a good strategy for him, but it`s his
strategy. But let`s look at what people are thinking and saying in the
poles. President Obama and Mitt Romney in the new poll that just came out,
NBC News, Wall Street journal, easy going and likable, President Obama 54,
Romney 18. Caring about average people, President Obama 52 percent, Romney
22 percent.

Compassionate, understands average people, President Obama 52 percent,
Romney 23. Looking out for the middle class, President Obama 48 percent,
Romney 27 percent. Consistent, stands up for his believes, President Obama
41 percent, Romney, 30 percent. Not too good, wouldn`t you say, Erin?

MCPIKE: No, it`s not, and the republican primary certainly hurt Mitt
Romney in terms of a lot of those characteristics, a lot of people don`t
trust him. And so, the Obama campaign plans to make that push. But the
other thing I would point out, is that a lot of Americans don`t know Mitt
Romney very well at all, they don`t know much about his character because
he has not been very forth coming about it. But also, a lot of Americans
are not paying close attention to this election yet. And so, the honest is
going to be on Mitt Romney to reveal himself more and show a little bit
more of his character going into the summer and into the fall election, and
that is how the Romney campaign wants to try to make those numbers more
even.

SHARPTON: Now, Jackie, on other hand, when you look at the poll on
the American`s perception of the future, in terms of the economy, in 12
months they believe the economy will get better, 38 percent says, yes,
better, 19 percent says worse, 42 percent say, it will say about the same.
That`s not good for the President.

KUCINICH: No, the economy needs to continue to improve and that now
will help the President, otherwise, yes, if the economy worsens or even
get a little worse, it gives fuel to the Romney campaign`s message that,
you know, this isn`t getting better fast enough.

SHARPTON: In fact, the only thing that former Governor Romney is
ahead of the president is in terms of someone, the one or two questions on
the economy, and again going back, Erin, to his theme of change hasn`t
happen fast enough. Well, last night in Michigan, the President addressed
his record and change.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: Change is the decision we make
to rescue the American auto industry from collapse when some politicians
said, let Detroit go bankrupt. Change is health care reform that we passed
after a century of trying. Change is the promise we made in 2008 for the
first time in nine year there`s are no Americans fighting in Iraq, Osama
Bin Laden no longer walks the face of this earth -- that`s what change is.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Erin, can the President sell this change? This time of
gradual change that it may not have been as dramatic as some may have
unrealistically thought, but that in fact, he has begun to change.

MCPIKE: Quite possibly, and those messages are directed right at the
working class, blue collar voters in the Midwestern states like Ohio, like
Indiana, like Michigan. Some of these states where this election is going
to play out. And the point that he`s making, is that the government
programs that he has pushed as President are helping many of those voters
out there in Michigan with the auto bailout and the manufacturing sectors
of Ohio. And the point that he`s going to be making is that under Mitt
Romney and the plans that he supports like Paul Ryan`s budget, a lot of the
programs would be cut. And that would be a problem for a lot of those blue
collar voters. And so, it`s possible with that group up for grabs that
yes, they will believe that there has been enough change for them.

SHARPTON: Jackie, they of course will be the counter from the Romney
camp, but you can`t deny the auto industry bail-out, you can`t deny the
rest. Is this election going to come down to whether or not there has been
enough change to that in your opinion?

KUCINICH: I think it`s going to come down to the economy. I think if
the economy is growing and doing better come November, this could be
probably end up well for the President. And if it`s not, it`s going to be
Mitt Romney but, you know, anything can happen in six months. We`ve got
about six months in the election. And, you know, a day is an eternity,
what is six months?

SHARPTON: Erin McPike and Jackie Kucinich, thank you for your time
tonight.

KUCINICH: Thank you.

MCPIKE: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, equal pay for equal work. It was the first bill
signed by President Obama, but now the Lilly Ledbetter Act is a flash point
in a national debate about women and work. We`ll talk live with Lilly
Ledbetter herself. She joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: President made a speech last night at the Henry Ford Museum
in Dearborn, Michigan. After the speech, he toured the museum to see a
piece of history. Here he is sitting on the bus that Rosa Parks made
famous. When she refused to give up her seat is the very same bus that
Rosa Parks rode on December 1st, 1955. Her courage helped spark the civil
rights movement. Still inspirational nearly 60 years later, what a
powerful picture.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: Change is the first bill I
signed into law, Lilly Ledbetter. A law that says, women deserve an equal
days pay for an equal days work, our daughters should have the same
opportunities as our sons.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That was President Obama in Dearborn, Michigan last night
touting the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Named for a woman who protested
she was paid less than men for nearly 20 years at a tire factory. Our
daughters getting the same opportunities as our sons. A no brainer, right?
Apparently not. Two hundred eight Republicans voted against these three
years ago, and now their presumptive nominee won`t take a position. Here
is how a Romney economic advisor responded when a Huffington Post reporter
asked him about it last week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAM STEIN, HUFFINGTON POST REPORTER: Does Governor Romney supports
the Lilly Ledbetter Act?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Same, we`ll get back to you on that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Six seconds of silence, and then we`ll get back to you on
that. On equal pay, really? This week, he still refusing to say whether
or not he would have signed a law, quote, "I`m not going to go back and
look at all of the prior laws and say, had I been there which one I would
have supported." And the assault on fair pay is going on right now in
states. Romney`s buddy, Scott Walker just repealed Wisconsin`s equal pay
law. Do they not realize it`s 2012 not 1950?

Joining me now is Lilly Ledbetter herself. The woman who`s this law
was named after she spent 11 years fighting for equal pay from her
employer. Lilly, thank you so much for joining me tonight.

LILLY LEDBETTER, FOUGHT EMPLOYER FOR EQUAL PAY: Thank you, Reverend
Al, I am delighted to be here.

SHARPTON: What do you have to say to Republicans like Mitt Romney who
won`t support this law?

LEDBETTER: They need to wake up because this is what we need in this
country, and it`s not just for democratic people. This is for the
Republicans. It`s for everybody. It`s so common sense. It hurts me to
try to figure out what they`re thinking when you get six seconds of
silence, because this is a no brainer.

SHARPTON: Now, I mentioned Governor Scott Walker just repealed
Wisconsin`s equal pay. And let me show you what he is saying. He says, it
would clog up the legal system.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: In the past, lawyers can clog up
the legal system, instead the State Department work for his development,
gets to be the one that ultimately can put people back and get them up to
two years back to pay if there is a reason to believe there was
discrimination in the workplace.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Am I missing something? Equality would clog up the system?
I thought the system was supposed to make sure we had equality.

LEDBETTER: Exactly, exactly, that`s exactly what it should do. We
should have equality, and if the employers are treating their people
fairly, they have nothing to be concerned with, and this is not a lawyer`s
dream, because most people, Reverend Al, like the Lilly Ledbetter, the
person I am, I didn`t have money to afford an attorney for eight years to
support me and follow through the court system. I had to find one that
worked basically on a contagious and pro-bono. And that meant that if I
got any money, they would have gotten 50 percent. But we didn`t get
anything. And most lawyers today can`t afford to do this, so there`s not a
lot of cases, and a lot of people don`t want to be involved in a case for
eight or nine years.

SHARPTON: You have become the symbol of this equal pay movement that
has now become law, how do you feel where you sit in history as you look at
the Republicans during this season really trying to undermine the very
movement that you have become the symbol of it becoming legal?

LEDBETTER: Well, as you know, Reverend Al, this bill doesn`t mean
anything to Lilly Ledbetter except that I am in the history books. And I
take that very serious. And that`s why, I travel the country today talking
about my experience and what happened to me. Because this is detrimental
to the American family, and I am scared. To put it plain, I am very scared
right now for where the American family is going with the Republican Party,
because if we rescind the Ledbetter bill, that puts us back 50 years ago.
We can`t do this. And the Ledbetter bill didn`t had any more laws except
it only put the law back to where it was prior to the ruling in the
Ledbetter V. Goodyear case.

SHARPTON: And as you said, for all women, republican, democrat or
independent, Lilly Ledbetter is truly an honor to have you join us tonight.
Thank you for your time, it`s great to have you on the show.

LEDBETTER: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Congressman Allen West comes to Ted Nugent`s defense.
That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back on POLITICS NATION with developing news on
rocker Ted Nugent`s rant against the President. After meeting with the
Secret Service today, Nugent is unapologetic. His statement, reading in
part. "By no stretch of the imagination did I threaten anyone`s life or
hint at violence or mayhem. Metaphors need not be explained to educated
people." Let me show you Nugent`s comments again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TED NUGENT, MUSICIAN: I can tell you this right now, if Barack Obama
becomes the President in November again, I will either be dead or in jail
by this time next year. Our President, the Attorney General, our Vice
President, Hillary Clinton, they`re criminals.

We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in
November. Any questions?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Those so called metaphors were clear enough to get noticed
by the Secret Service. And today, he is telling a hunting magazine Mitt
Romney would be quote, "A vastly superiors President than the current
monsters." But it`s not just rockers like Nugent pushing the ugly
rhetoric, Florida Congressman Allen West is refusing to back down from his
over the top charge, progressives in Congress or communist.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CROSSTALK)

SOLEDAD O`BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Which are the members of Congress that
are --

I have it right here.

REP. ALLEN WEST (R), FLORIDA: The progressive caucus.

O`BRIEN: Progressive caucus members.

WEST: Soledad, you know something? Well, look, I`m just talking
about the fact that the ideologies --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: West is even supporting Nugent, saying he doesn`t think the
rocker bares any ill will toward the President. It`s one thing for Ted
Nugent to push the rhetoric over the top, but we hope the United States
Congress would be a little more reasonable.

Joining me now is Michael Eric Dyson, MSNBC political analyst and
Georgetown University professor. Professor Dyson, thank you for your time
tonight first of all.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Thank you, Reverend
Sharpton.

SHARPTON: The Secret Service tells NBC the matter is resolved, what
do you make of Ted Nugent`s statements today?

DYSON: I mean, I think they`re ridiculous, this is not obviously not
an apology but even his explanation wreaks of a kind of arrogance and a
kind of privilege that -- just don`t enjoy. You made certain inferences
and certain implications about the President. You didn`t even back up off
of those, you did not suggest that you were sorry for making such, you
know, extraordinary claims. You tried to explain away your exaggeration,
and you didn`t even say that we should be careful not to contribute to the
coarsening of the dialogue in America where people end up saying extreme
things as opposed to be reasonable in expressing their differences.

SHARPTON: Now, it seems that this is continues to go on, this ugly
over the line rhetoric, and Michele Bachmann, let me show you something she
said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: This isn`t just about waving a
tar baby in here and saying that something else is the problem. I have
never seen a more irresponsible President who is infantile in the way that
he continually blames everybody else for his failure, first to diagnose the
problem and second, to address the problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DYSON: Infantile, tar baby? You`re not only even old enough Michele
Bachmann to make the mistake of not understanding how racially charged the
notion of tar baby is number one. And then number two, to infantilize the
President of the United States of America? Reverend Sharpton, I saw you
disagree with George W. Bush, I saw you disagree with every major
republican presidents, I never heard you result to any kind of name calling
and personal assault, is this republican are doing this?

SHARPTON: And they do it with no push back. Including Ted Nugent,
from the leadership of the party or their concern. If I said something, I
said, you know what I shouldn`t have said that.

DYSON: Exactly.

SHARPTON: And others have had to do the same.

DYSON: Right.

SHARPTON: But these people have a consistent pattern, and no -- the
same people that can condemn us for a nonviolent rally, allow somebody to
say, I would be in jail or dead.

DYSON: I mean, not only that which is absolutely right. Think about
Hilary Rosen, the snafu over the mommy wars so to speak. Well, whether if
you agreed with her or not, or what you agreed of what the President or Jim
Messina or David Axelrod, they acted quickly with dispatch and they said,
look, this is wrong, they distance themselves.

SHARPTON: Absolutely.

DYSON: They don`t even on the other side in a far more egregious
example of assaulting the President even say, we distance ourselves from
that and this is wrong. And they`re just as wrong by being complicit
through silence as the man.

SHARPTON: Let me show you one more. Congresswoman from Missouri,
Congresswoman -- I`m sorry, from Missouri, also saying she has doubts about
the President`s birth certificates. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. VICKY HARTZLER (R), MISSOURI: I have a lot of doubts about all
that. But I don`t know, I haven`t seen it. I`m kind of, I`m just in the
same place as you are on that, and you read this and you read that. But I
don`t understand why he didn`t show that right away. I mean, if someone
asked for my birth certificate, I would say here it is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now she since backed off when questioned and said, well, I
was just responding to a constituent`s question, I`ll focus on the economy.
But again, there still, have in this atmosphere, this birther thing.

DYSON: The birther thing trying to imply that he -- other than what
he claims to be. Now, they`re making excuses, look, you and I are for
religious tolerance, Mitt Romney as a Mormon never has bothered us. We
believe in religious plurality the side that says, that it`s a cult and
they hate what that represents now, what rather embrace him, Danaman (ph)
who is explicitly a Christian, this is the kind of duplicity in the double
standard that they have, and the refusal to acknowledge this stuff is wrong
enough. Trying to suggest, he`s not really an American. We don`t know who
he is. All of these insinuations, these hints are trying to chip away at
the authority not only of Barack Obama as president, but the office of the
presidency of the United States of America.

SHARPTON: Professor Michael Eric Dyson, thank you for your time
tonight.

DYSON: Thank you, Reverend Sharpton.

SHARPTON: In the heat of social debate and political discourse,
people say a lot of things they don`t mean. I have. Say a lot of things
that offend. When you know they`re sincere, when they pointed out, they
either apologize or they clarify. But when they act like all they can do
is defend and justify, you`re only a left to conclude that they either
don`t care, or they meant what we thought we understood them saying. Let`s
not do that. Let`s all have a civil discussion.

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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