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PoliticsNation, Monday, April 23, 2012

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Guests: Ben Thompson, Michelle Cottle; Dana Milbank; Maria Teresa Kumar, David Corn, Ryan
Grim, Jared Bernstein


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

Tonight`s lead, Willard Mitt Romney has a severe problem heading in to
this general election, and Democrats are not going to let him forget about
it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I fought against long odds
in a deep blue state, but I was a severely conservative Republican
governor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: We don`t agree on too much, Willard. But I will give it to
you there. You are severely conservative all right. You support the
severely conservative Ryan budget, you`re severely conservative on women`s
rights and perhaps most of all you are severely conservative on
immigration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: With regards to illegal immigration, of course we build a
fence, and of course we do not give instate tuition credits to people who
have come here illegally. That only attracts people that people come here
and take advantage of America`s great benefices.

If I was elected and congress would have the dream act, would I veto
it? And the answer is yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: If you don`t deport them, how do you send
them home?

ROMNEY: Well, the answer is self deportation, which is, people decide
they can do better by going home because they can`t find work here.

ROMNEY: I think you see a model here in Arizona.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Of course we build a fence. The answer is self-
deportation, Arizona immigration is a model. If Congress passed the dream
act I would veto it. That`s severely conservative, all right, but it`s
also severely different from what you said today while campaigning with
Senator Marco Rubio.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: He and I have spoken about his thinking on his version of a
different act than the dream act that`s been proposed in the Senate. I`m
looking at it his proposals, it has many features to commend it, but it`s
something that we`re studying.

I anticipate before the November election we`ll be laying out a whole
series of policies that relate to immigration, how we adjust our visa
program to make it fit the needs of our country is something I will be
speaking about down the road.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: You`re studying a dream act proposal. You have a plan down
the road, what happened to the big fence you were building? Romney is no
longer trying to win a far-right Republican primary. He`s trying to win a
general election, and now he needs everyone else including Hispanics.

The only problem, he has alienated them. He trailed President Obama
by 40 percent in that demographic. He is eliminating them by associating
with people like this guy, Kris Kobach. He is the architect of the Alabama
and Arizona anti-immigration laws.

Three months ago back when Willard was trying to win the far right, he
held him as a member of the Romney team. Someone he looked forward to
working with.

But early last week, he was just being referred to as a supporter.
Romney knows he is in trouble, and he is doing everything he can to play
etch-a-sketch with his record. But I agree with him when he says this --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I was a severely conservative Republican governor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now is Dana Milbank, columnist for the
"Washington Post," and Maria Teresa Kumar, executive director of Voto
Latino and an MSNBC contributor.

Thanks to both for being with me tonight.

Maria, let me start with you, how is the Latino community reacting to
the new Romney?

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, VOTO LATINO: Well, I think that Romney really
needs to be careful, because he`s going to run into is this all a gimmick.
It is the fact that he is cozying up to Rubio because he react that needs
the Latino vote and that is going to be a gimmick. When he says that wants
- that he is quickly and quietly assessing the Rubio plan, Rubio doesn`t
have anything on paper. He has been talking about it but there is nothing
on paper.

SHARPTON: What is the Rubio plan?

KUMAR: I think everybody in the community would like to see the Rubio
plan. Basically the biggest change in the Rubio plan that he is talking
about is that there is no pathway for citizen right away. And basically
you don`t get a green card either. You just are allowed to be, as a
student, who is undocumented. You`re allowed to get a driver`s license and
continue your studies. That`s very limiting.

And I think that what Rubio needs to be careful with too, is that he`s
not providing a gimmick to the Latino community. The idea that we need
comprehensive immigration reform is very real. And majority of Americans,
moderate, independent, conservatives, and liberals all believe so. And the
fact the Romney and even Rubio now, just facing, and they want to provide
Band-Aid effects is not going to fix the problem. And I think that the
voters at the end of the day, is going to look at if it is a gimmick or you
for real.

SHARPTON: Now Dana, it was reported today in "Politico" that former
president Bill Clinton is pushing the Obama campaign is focusing less on
Romney as a flip-flopper, and more on him as far to the right. It says,
according to this, A more effective strategy Clinton has told anyone who
would listen, would be to focus on the description of Romney`s description
of himself as a severe conservative."

Clearly, that`s the way I open the show tonight. But, is that a sound
strategy to you for the Democrats?

DANA MILBANK, WASHINGTON POST: Well, Reverend. The answer is of
course you need to do some of each and at different points in time. During
the primary process, he was mostly being hit with the flip-flopping thing
for obvious reasons. And I think it does pivot now towards highlighting
his all the conservative positions he took during the primary campaign.

Now, of course, he is shaking the etch-a-sketch so vigorously, the
knobs are come off here. So, while looking at his - highlighting his
conservative record, you are going to see him tax toward more to the
middle, so he creates a problem for himself as he has done on immigration
and as he is going to continue to do on immigration this coming week.

SHARPTON: Now, let me come back to you, Maria. Now, Romney`s
campaign has been trying to redo some of its movement to the right on
immigration, and things that would offend a large part of the Hispanic
community voters, including the ties to Kris Kobach who is architect behind
the Arizona and Alabama immigration laws, some of the most right wing in
the country.

On January 11th, a Romney press released says that Kobach is quote,
"on the team, I look forward to working with him."

Last week on April 17th, the Romney spokesperson says he is a
supporter. Then three days later on April 20th, Kobach says he considers
himself a quote, "informal adviser" and the Romney campaign agrees.

So, all of this could re-posturing could end up backfire and your
people are offended that you are just playing with us, and really have no
real core beliefs or co-stand with anything, is that not right?

KUMAR: No. It`s absolutely you are who your friends are. And that
is exactly the Latino community is looking for. And unfortunately, not
only does he have Kris Kobach at a strange bed fellow, but he also
appointed Pete Wilson, national co-chair in California for his Republican
campaign.

Pete Wilson is a dirty word among Latinos in California. So, the fact
that you are constantly going up to people not only that are have been
considered anti-Latino, but also anti-American by this decisive device of
laws that tear families apart, that basically encariticial (ph) profiling
and trying to cozy up by speaking to them in Spanish in Florida like he did
during the primaries. Latinos speak both. And he - well, he has to
understand is that he has to have a clear direction. And when he says he`s
not anti-immigrant, it`s really hard when he has his own words play against
him.

But do you a thing is absolutely right. He has been demonstrated -
again, not just on immigration, but also on women`s issues, even on health
care, that he is severely conservative. And so, unless he starts changing
his tactic, and saying look, this is actually what I mean, no one is really
going to believe him.

SHARPTON: You know what, Dana. He has got a record of far right
positions in his campaign, not only immigration. When you look at the
fact, he supported Ohio`s anti anti-collective bargaining law, supported
defunding Planned Parenthood, supports personhood amendments, support drug
testing on welfare recipients, called the Buffett rule a gimmick. I mean,
its kind a hard to walk back on all of this.

MILBANK: Well, if one man can do it, it`s this man because he is so
practiced at doing it over the last two decades. But, this is the price
now that he has to penny for winning that primary. Each of those positions
are positions he had to take to get himself to this point knowing it would
create this problem and it is not just going to go away. Tomorrow, Russell
Pierce who actually wrote the Arizona law as president of the state senate
is sitting before the committee. He says his immigration policy is
identical to Romney`s. So, which of this man is telling the truth here?
This is not going to go away. This is going to be repeated over and over
again.

SHARPTON: Now, even Jon Huntsman, Maria, is saying that the party is
very extreme Republican Party that is, and said this weekend quote, "Ronald
Reagan would likely not be able to win the GOP nomination nationally in
this political climate. That`s quite a dive stating blow from a candidate
for the nomination this year to say that about the party this year.

KUMAR: Well, there`s a reason why not only Huntsman is saying that,
but there`s a reason why the Republican Party knows that deep down that
they needs the Latino vote. That`s why you had Bush who was advocating for
comprehensive immigration reform. John McCain before re ran for president,
who was advocating comprehensive immigration reform.

There is no way that a Republican or Democratic presidential candidate
can win the White House unless they at least 40 percent of the Latino vote.
And that`s because all of the sudden, there are presence is not just
important in California and Florida, but it`s important in Virginia, it is
important in Pennsylvania, it`s important in North Carolina, Indiana, even
Ohio. All swing states.

SHARPTON: Now Dana, when you look at the fact that Mr. Romney has hit
the president over and over again with that saying he`s inexperienced. But
look at this. When he was asked today about Marco Rubio, if he had him as
VP, kind a -- he was a little dodgy in his answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Governor, you have talked at some length
about how the president is a nice guy, but you have said he is over his
head. Is t first term senator experienced enough to become your number
two?

ROMNEY: I don`t think I have any comments on qualifications for
individuals to serve in various positions in government at this stage.
That is something we are going to be considering down the road as we
consider various potential vice presidential nominees.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So, we are going to consider down the road, Dana, whether
or not first term senator Rubio has enough experience, when he has been
completely lambasting President Obama saying he didn`t have experience as a
one-term senator to be president. Strange!

ROMNEY: Well, Reverend. It`s deja vu all over again. Because if you
think about the last time around, John McCain was running on his
experience, then defeated that argument by bringing in Sarah Palin.

Now, Romney is going to face the same dilemma here. Does he go for
this year`s equivalent of the game change to try to shake it up? The
question in August will be does he feel so far behind that he rolls the
dice and go with a Rubio to try to change the composition of the race. He
doesn`t want to have to take that chance unless he really has to.

SHARPTON: Well, we will see what he does. I won`t be betting you
$10,000 on whether he rolls the dice.

Dana Milbank and Maria Teresa Kumar, thank you for joining me tonight.

KUMAR: Thank you, Reverend.

MILBANK: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Ahead, high drama in North Carolina. The John Edwards
trial begins. Did he use campaign funds to cover up his affair? We are
live in Greensboro.

Plus, George Zimmerman released from jail on the same day we get some
big news about the police chief in Sanford.

And late night with President Obama, the president is paying Jimmy
Fallon a visit. We will tell you why low late night fun goes a long way
with young voters.

You are watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: It was the scandal that rocked the country, the John
Edwards affair. But did he use campaign money to cover it up? The trial
began today, that`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back on "Politics Nation" with a new chapter in the
stunning fall from Grace with John Edwards.

The man who once was the vice presidential nominee of his party was in
court today for the start of his trial, accused of braking campaign
financing laws. Prosecutors claim he Edwards funded nearly a million
dollars in campaign cash during the 2008 election to cover up an affair
with then pregnant campaign videographer, Rielle Hunter. The defense is
arguing the money was not campaign money to begin with, but gives from
friends looking to protect his wife, Elizabeth. And it his always claim,
he broke no laws.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN EDWARDS (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is no question
they have done wrong, and I take full responsibility for having done wrong.
And I will regret for the rest of my life, the pain and the harm that I
have caused to others.

But I did not break the law, and I never, ever, thought I was breaking
the law. Thank you all very much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Today, the prosecutor argued otherwise saying, quote, "it
wasn`t just a marriage on the line if the affair went public. It would
destroy his chance of becoming president, and he knew it. He made a choice
to break the law."

But the defense lawyer county that saying, quote, "John Edwards is a
man who committed many sins, but no crimes. We aren`t going to judge John
Edwards for his sins." End of quote.

The case could hinge on former aide Andrew Young. He was the man who
initially said he was the father of Hunter`s baby before falling out with
Edwards and writing a tell-all book about the campaign.

Joining me now from outside the courthouse in Greensboro, North
Carolina is Ben Thompson, a reporter for NBC`s WCNC affiliate in charlotte.
Also with me is Michelle Cottle, reporter for "the Daily Beast," who has
covered John Edwards for years.

Thanks to both of you for joining me tonight.

Let me start with you Ben. When you were in the courtroom today, how
did Edwards react to the start of this trial?

BEN THOMPSON, REPORTER, WCNC: Well, John Edwards as himself was quite
composed and looking fairly up beat as compared to say a weak and a half
ago during jury selection when he looked more down prawn. Today he was
much more upbeat.

This afternoon, of course as you mention, Andrew Young took the stand.
The two men never seemed to make any sort of eye contact. Young was on the
stand for, I say, about an hour and a half basically laying the foundation
of what kind of friendship they had, and how close they were, and how they
gone back to 1999.

SHARPTON: So they did not get into the meat of Andrew Young`s
accusations as of yet?

THOMPSON: Well, just like a good cliff hanger, they started to about
five minutes to the end of the day, and that`s when the judge let the jury
go home. At the end to today, they started talking about how Young first
met Rielle Hunter, and probably the one clinch worthy moment of today,
Reverend, was when the first cringe worthy moment is when Young talked
about how he first knew that there was an affair going on. And he
described how they were at Dallas airport, outside of Washington D.C. and
he was asked to carry Rielle`s bags. He says this was notable because he
said never been asked to do that for Elizabeth Edwards even when she was
sick from cancer.

SHARPTON: Now Michelle. You have been covering John Edwards awhile.
You know his career. He was one of the rising stars in the party. In
2004, I was in the primaries with him. Then he went on 2008, became the
vice presidential nominee in 2004, ran in 2008 and then this tremendous
fall.

But, the fact is, he is facing serious legal questions here. This is
nothing to do with his political fall. He is facing six felony charges of
violating campaign finance laws, which means he could face up to 30 years
in prison, and a $1.5 million fine.

Is the challenge here for the defense that they have to separate the
gossip, the personal stuff, and the political fall from whether or not he
committed a crime? Because we`re talking about he could have been the
worst guy in the world, but did he commit a crime? Is that the assignment
they have here?

MICHELLE COTTLE, THE DAILY BEAST: That is absolutely the assignment.
You know, super defender Abby Lowell is on this case, and I think they are
going to really hammer home the difference between doing wrong and
committing a crime. Because the challenge for them is no matter what you
tell people this is about. You know, this is about, you know, campaign
finance laws and a misappropriation of campaign funds. What is the public
view of this is John Edwards a scumbag or not.

And so, I think it is the defense`s main challenge to say yes OK, he
is a scumbag, but that`s not what you`re here to decide.

SHARPTON: Now. We learned today that Andrew Young, the former aid
and key prosecution witness called three other witnesses in the last two
weeks, which the judge said could be characterized as improper contact, but
not witness tampering.

Isn`t that a little unusual for a witness to be calling other
witnesses trying to find out what they`re going to say?

COTTLE: Now, look. Everyone in this -- that comes anywhere close to
this case winds up looking a little questionable. I mean, from the start,
Andrew Young has been just a little too icily involve in this, and he wrote
this book. And he is clearly very bitter, and there has been so much back
and forth that everybody lined. Nobody looks good in this. And so, there
will be a lot of questions about kind of what he`s done and is it
appropriate. It`s not surprising.

SHARPTON: Now, Ben. How was the reaction in court when this came out
about he was contacting other witnesses? And will the prosecution have to
overcome whether or not Andrew Young`s credibility may be questioned by
members of the jury since he has books and he has told two or different
stories throughout the whole scenario leading up to the case.

THOMPSON: Reverend. I would say given the limited testimony that
happened today, that was actually the one bomb shell that happened during
the opening statements when we found out about the fact that Young had
contacted these three defense witnesses.

As far as where to go from here, we really don`t know what is going to
be done about it. You know, the prosecution they said themselves in the
opening statements today. They said to the jury, listen, you probably
aren`t going to like this guy, Andrew Young, He`s not a very likable guy,
but that`s not what it comes down to.

So you actually have both sides talking about Mr. Edwards and Mr.
Young himself, and both sides admitting that neither one is stretching
likable person, it`s just whether or not that they are believable or
whether or not either one committed a crime.

SHARPTON: Now Michelle, one thing we don`t know is where this jury
will go as this trial goes forward. But it looks like the public opinion
jury is already in. A new poll shows that only three percent of Americans
have a favorable view of Edwards, while 41 percent have an unfavorable
view.

So, clearly, his political career appears to be beyond redemption no
matter what happens.

COTTLE: Yes. I think at this point, his best would be to try and get
out of this with a law license intact and maybe do some pro bono work to
try and just get people to stop hating him quite so much.

I mean, for a long time, he was almost a prisoner his home down in
North Carolina because, you know, he would go out and people would be all
over him, and the media will be all over him, and people down there are
really bitter about kind of how the hometown boy wound up being an object
of national disgrace.

SHARPTON: Yes.

Ben Thompson and Michelle Cottle, thank you both for your time
tonight.

COTTLE: Thanks.

THOMPSON: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, David Axelrod says radical Republicans have
created a reign of terror in Washington. We will talk about what it`s
doing to the party and to Mitt Romney.

But first, it turns out Willard is not the only Republican with an
etch-a-sketch. His potential running mate, Bob McDonald is trying to clean
up his record as well. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Folks, Willard is looking for a number two, and Virginia
governor Bob McDonald is doing his best to snag the spot. You all remember
Governor McDonald, right? He is he governor that became a national
lightning rod pushing a radical ultrasound bill forcing women to have
mandatory invasive ultrasounds before an abortion. Some called it states
sponsored rape.

After public gone crying and shaming, he eventually signed a less
invasive bill into law. Well, two months later, and now he is working
overtime to clean up his image plus the beep stakes. He is planning ads
touting his record even though he is not eligible for reelection, and he is
even back pedaling his opposition to abortion.

For years, he opposed abortions. Accepted women`s lives were
endangered.

But now, his spokesman says he supports, quote, "exceptions for rape,
incest, and life of the mother." Now that McDonald is trying to appeal to
a national audience, he suddenly thinks women should be able to get
abortions in the case of rape and incest. What interesting timing.

His spokesman told the polls the governor`s position has been
misunderstood over the past two decades. So, it took 20 years to correct
the record? Does he think we`re stupid? And it doesn`t explain this
questionnaire that McDonald filled out about his political position in
1999. He did not agree with the statement that abortions should be legal
with pregnancy resulting from incest or rape.

Governor, do you think would notice you borrowed Willard`s etch-a-
sketch? You can`t shake this one. Nice try, but we got you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION, I`ve been saying for a
long time that the GOP has become too extreme. But it`s gotten so bad, now
we`re even hearing it from Republicans. Yesterday, former presidential
candidate Jon Huntsman was in New York City talking about being uninvited
to a Republican National Committee fundraiser after he publicly called for
a third party.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON HUNTSMAN (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My first thought
was, you know, this is what they do in China on party matters, they punish
you if you say something that is off script.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That`s communist China he is talking about, and he should
know, Huntsman was the U.S. ambassador to China. Huntsman tried to reel
back his comment today on "Morning Joe" but ended up right back where he
started.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HUNTSMAN: I said, you know, if you`re not on script and you get
knocked out of an event like that, the parties are supposed to be big tent,
you`re supposed to bring in all ideas. And I said, I thought for a moment
about what they do in China, if you`re off script for the party, they knock
you out. We should not be doing that here. We should be accommodating all
voices.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Sounds like a man not too happy with the direction of his
party. And listen to what President Obama`s top campaign advisor, David
Axelrod says about GOP extremism in Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID AXELROD, ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think a lot of
Republicans in Congress want to cooperate, no better, but they`re in the
throes of this reign of terror from the far right that has drag the party
to the right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: A key factor in this reign of terror was the election of
the Tea Party Republicans in 2010 who repeatedly pressured GOP leaders to
drift farther and farther to the right. A new book quotes one of this Tea
Party freshman, North Carolina Renee Ellmers is telling GOP leaders, quote,
"You`ve created a monster."

Joining me now is David Corn, a Washington bureau chief for Mother
Jones and an MSNBC political analyst, his new book is "Showdown: The Inside
Story of How Obama Fought Back Against Boehner, Cantor, and the Tea Party.
" Also, joining me from Washington is Ryan Grim, Washington Bureau chief
for the Huffington Post. Thank you both for joining me tonight.

DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: Good evening.

SHARPTON: David, let me start with you. How bad has it become when
Republicans start comparing their own party to communist China.

CORN: Well, we`ll see if he gets send to a -- or to a chamber. And
then we`ll know how bad it is. I mean, you know, the old saying in
Washington is a gaffe is when you speak the truth, and it wasn`t just that
he was talking about him calling for a third party. I think more
importantly when Jon Huntsman was talking last night, he also said, listen,
I got out of the party for saying I believe in Science. So, he is really
going to the core there. I mean, you know, and draper`s new book and my
book, we show instances again and again when this very extreme wing of the
Tea Party has really grabbed John Boehner by the sensitive parts, and has
taken control of not just him but just ruined the prospects for
negotiation, the compromise for progress, here in Washington quite -- when
they think hostages not to cut deals, but to shoot the hostages, that`s
what they want to do.

SHARPTON: Now, Ryan, when you look at the fact that buzz feed reports
Jon Huntsman speaking yesterday about Ronald Reagan`s chances of winning,
current GOP nomination. And he`s saying, quote, "Ronald Reagan would
likely not be able to win the GOP nomination nationally in this political
climate." And then President Obama also talked about Reagan`s chances of
surviving a primary today, listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: Ronald Reagan, who as I recall
is not accused of being a tax and spend socialist, understood repeatedly
that when the deficits started to get out of control, that for him to make
a deal, he would have to propose both spending cuts and tax increases. He
did it multiple times. He could not get through a republican primary
today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, if Ronald Reagan Ryan is considered the father of
modern conservativism, and having shifted the country back toward the
right, and the projection by even members, leaders in the party is that
even he couldn`t win a GOP primary now, a GOP nomination race, does that
now push them way beyond being a feasible competitor for the White House
this year?

RYAN GRIM, "THE HUFFINGTON POST": Sure, we`ll see, I mean, the point
that Huntsman and Obama are making is an interesting rhetorical one, but I
think there is a little more at work here. And you know, because Mitt
Romney is to the left of what Reagan would have been, or at least his
record previously was, so what Republicans are showing today is that you
don`t necessarily have to have a consistent conservative attitude, but as
long as you espouse, you know, extreme conservative views during the
primary, then if you`re the establishment candidate you can get through.
So, if Ronald Reagan would have just distanced himself from everything he
did as California governor and his first term in the White House, then he
probably actually would have been able to get through a republican primary
which tells you something a little bit more about it than just saying that
it`s extremely conservative. Because that means that it`s not necessarily
what your politics are, if you have big money behind you, and you can kind
of share your politics and you rhetoric around that and you can still end
up winning the primary.

SHARPTON: Yes. But David, there has been some extreme comments made
by republican leaders this time around. I mean, let me let you hear some
of our choice far right-wing comments by the republican leadership of
today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The administration`s policies are actually designed
on purpose to bring about higher gas prices.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m not concerned about the
very poor, we have a safety net there.

RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Obama
once said, he wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Barack Obama is the most
dangerous president in modern American history.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: So you did compromise?

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), OHIO: We found common ground.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Why won`t you say -- you`re afraid of the word.

BOEHNER: I reject the word.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I believe that there are about 78 to 81 members of
the Democratic Party that are members of the communist party.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, David, when you put all of this together from worst
most dangerous president, to communist, these guys are painting a picture
that`s hard for independents and people in the middle, who may even
disagree with some of the President`s policies, to want to identify with
them.

CORN: And you left out Ted Nugent in that example of extreme remarks.
I mean, we talked about this suddenly last week, Rev. We talked about Mitt
Romney getting out there and saying again and again, I wrote a piece about
this, that Barack Obama doesn`t understand America, doesn`t get America,
basically that he`s anti-American. Which is what a lot of those comments
are driving at. There is something odd, there is something different about
him, and we won`t deal with him, we won`t compromise with him because the
Tea Party people want to smash things, not cut deals. And I think we saw
with the primary, Mitt Romney standing amongst independents fell
precipitously because he was associated with all of these remarks whether
he made them or not. We now see him maybe gaining some ground, and we see
David Axelrod in the Obama campaign coming out rather strongly and saying
no, no, no, no, no, we`re not going to let you forget what you have been
saying for the last sixth months because this is what you say you want to
be. So, this is the struggle in the next few months, for Romney try to
escape, the gravitational poll of republican extremism are craziness and
the Obama campaign trying to say, no, you know, let`s play the video tape
again, and again and again.

SHARPTON: But, Ryan, it`s taking its toll even on Republicans because
"Washington Post" is reporting that Speaker John Boehner is worried about
the House majority after the elections. In an interview with FOX, he says,
quote, "There`s a one in three chance that we could lose. We`ve got a big
challenge and we`ve got work to do." So now even Boehner, the Speaker of
the House, concerned that maybe they`ve gone way too far and creating an
image that could put his majority in danger.

GRIM: You know, I think he is concerned, I think he also wants to
remind republican donors that the house is not perfectly safe. So that
they`ll spend money there and not just on the presidential or Super PACs or
with the Senate. But absolutely, I mean, you know, House freshman, you
know, behave like complete radical revolutionaries, many of them, over the
last year. And people I think are generally worried about, you know, like
you said earlier, about the possible shooting of the hostage. Because when
you start taking that metaphor to its conclusion, what is this hostage that
you`re talking about?

You know, when they were talking about that particular hostage, they
meant defaulting on government debt, which you know, a government shutdown
is one thing where you can`t, you know, federal workers can`t go to work
for a few days, the parks are shut down, but a default that could possibly
trigger some -- global financial crisis, you know, that`s serious stuff,
and no Congress had ever really talked in a serious way about defaulting on
the government debt, and there is just something kind of contemptuous about
the institution and about the very notion of paying back your debt to say
that you`re just simply not going to pay it back.

SHARPTON: David Corn and Ryan Grim, thank you for your time tonight.
And David, congratulations once again on your book.

CORN: Thank you, Rev.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, why the new GOP plan for Romney president goes
back to George W`s play book. What could go wrong? Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: New development in the State of Florida versus George
Zimmerman. Zimmerman walked out of the Seminole County jail early this
morning set free on $150,000 bond. His lawyers says, he`s now in hiding
while awaiting his second-degree murder trial. And later today, the
Sanford City Commission voted to reject police Chief Bill Lee`s offer to
resign permanently. This means, Lee remains under job at least for now.
In the weeks after Trayvon Martin`s death, Lee temporarily stepped down
after his department declined to arrest Zimmerman, and handed its
investigation over to the state attorney. In a heated commission meeting,
at least commissioners objectively ousted. But the mayor and city manager
argued it`s the right thing to do for the city to move forward.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. Well, folks, if you like
the economy under George W. Bush, you`ll going to love the economy under
Willard Mitt Romney. That`s right. Here is an RNC press secretary
describing the republican economic platform for 2012.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEXANDRA FRANCESCHI, RNC PRESS SECRETARY: It`s less government
spending, it`s lowering taxes so small businesses can grow and they can
employ more people. Because we understand that the private sector is the
engine of the economy. It`s not the government.

FERNANDO ESPUELAS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Now, how different is that
concept from what was -- what were the policies of the Bush administration.

FRANCESCHI: I think it`s that program, just updated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The Bush policies updated, what could go wrong? Well, we
all know the answer. Under Bush, debt exploded by $5 billion. The stock
index collapsed 40 percent, and 4.4 million jobs were lost in Bush`s last
year in office alone. Check out this chart showing the bleeding jobs and
the turnaround under President Obama. The red bars show job loss under
Bush. The blue bars show job growth under President Obama. But the
republican plan just wants to update those plans, Mr. President, what`s
your take?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Here is the news, we tried this for eight years before I took
office. At the beginning of the last decade, the wealthiest Americans got
new tax cuts. Financial institutions, they were all able 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, is going
to lead the greater prosperity for everybody. Guess what? It didn`t.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now is Jared Bernstein, an MSNBC contributor,
and a former chief economist for Vice President Joe Biden, Jared, thanks
for being here tonight.

JARED BERNSTEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks for inviting me, Rev.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you, how similar do you think Willard`s plan
would be to Bushes?

BERNSTEIN: Well, I think you nailed it and you maybe even come up
with a new bumper sticker of Bush, 2.0, what could go wrong? Look, I would
argue that at least from the perspective of tax cuts, Governor Romney
doubles down on Bush. He has endorsed Paul Ryan`s plan, Paul Ryan`s budget
plan, this is a plan that makes the Bush tax cuts permanent and then adds
another $4.5 trillion on top of that. Now, the trickle down part you
stressed so far is a big part of Bush economics. But there is another
part. And to me, it`s equally essential and it`s part of Governor Romney`s
plan. Deregulation of inherently unstable financial markets. Remember,
that`s what got us into this mess, the under pricing of risk, the inflating
of the housing bubble, this was something that was very much part of the
deregulatory zeal under the Bush years.

SHARPTON: Now, we don`t hear a lot about that. The deregulation
opened in the real --

BERNSTEIN: Right.

SHARPTON: Because it opens the doors to a lot of things that`s lead
to a lot of the problem and the bloom bursting sort to speak.

BERNSTEIN: And remember, Governor Romney has run on a platform that
repeals financial reform, that also repeals of course, the affordable care
act. Both key parts of added security, in one case the financial markets
and in another, the health care markets.

SHARPTON: Now, how alike are Romney and Bush on economic policy?
Because both were and are for tax cuts for millionaires, cut tax on
dividends, limit federal spending, banking deregulation, I mean, there are
similar economic policies.

BERNSTEIN: Look, I think I find a pretty hard time finding difference
there. I mean, you heard Governor Romney spokesman saying, it`s an updated
version. I mean, again, if you look at the Ryan budget endorsed by
Governor Romney, it`s up dating in a doubling down sense. That is
shrinking government, asking government to go, really, almost to the
function of, you know, defending the coast, paying back the debt, and
cutting back on the entitlements. There is just nothing there for the kind
of investment agenda that the President has stressed. And one more point
on this, Reverend, it`s not enough for President Obama to just say, I`m not
the other guy. He does have to get out there and explain his positive
agenda as well.

SHARPTON: Yes. That was an RNC spokesman, not a Romney spokesman --

BERNSTEIN: OK. All right.

SHARPTON: How do you explain given these policies while according to
polls, the only place Romney is getting higher poll numbers than the
President is in the economy? Who has the good ideas to change the economy?
Romney is ahead 40 to 34. How?

BERNSTEIN: I think that`s because the President has yet to really get
out there and start doing what it is, I kind of suggested there, which is
to say, you know, it`s not just that we can`t run by the same play book
that got us into this mess, he has been very strong on that point. He`s
got continued to amplify an alternative vision. Now, he does that very
well when he talks about the American jobs act and the State of the Union,
but that`s months ago now, and that`s where he has attacked to I think
pretty aggressively.

SHARPTON: So, the President has to be more aggressive on his plan and
his policies as opposed to what Willard Romney and the Republicans
opposing.

BERNSTEIN: The President has a deep agenda involving investment,
involving clean energy, involving creating a level playing field for
taxpayers, involving getting the budget deficit under control. It`s a very
smart agenda, but if you don`t get out there and tell people about it, it`s
not going to flow.

SHARPTON: Jared Bernstein, thanks for your time tonight.

BERNSTEIN: My pleasure.

SHARPTON: It`s become a must stop for presidential candidate. Late
night TV, now President Obama is paying Jimmy Fallon a visit. Why it
matters, that`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: President Obama is making a strong push for the youth vote
this week. Young voters turned out in record numbers during the 2008
election preferring then candidate Obama over John McCain by a two to one
margin. So, how is he planning to get them back this time around? For
starters, he will pay Jimmy Fallon a visit on "Late Night." Presidential
candidates have made the "Late Night" round for years. From Bill Clinton,
to George W. Bush and John McCain, they`ve all made appearances. In fact,
President Obama has sat down with Leno and Letterman in the past. All with
the hope of connecting the younger voters. Leno thinks that connection
comes when you can laugh at yourself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY LENO, COMEDIAN: Democrats and Republicans are interesting.
Because Republicans really laugh at themselves more, like when Bush came
on, it was -- we want to do a skit, we kind of making fun.

Yes, go ahead. We went up to Al Gore, can we do this skit? Hang on,
and there was a focus group, and then media people came in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: No doubts. Some candidates definitely fair better than
others. Fortunately the President, the pressure wasn`t so great when I
stopped by Fallon`s last year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE NIGHT": Did you think it was a good idea to
do SNL or what?

SHARPTON: They really tried to stop me, and then they did the one
thing to stop me, they called James Brown. It`s one of few times that I
defied James Brown. They turn on the TV in the living room and I came out
and did the James Brown, he snuck out and looked and saw me doing the
imitation, and he says, "The boys a genius, I told them."

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Mr. President, I would give advice for tomorrow night, but
when it comes to comedy, I think you have it covered.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Donald Trump is here tonight.

(APPLAUSE)

No one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate
matter to rest than the Donald. And that`s because he can finally get back
to focusing on the issues that matter. Like did we fake the moon landing?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But I agree with Leno, learn how to laugh with yourself.
Usually people don`t take you as seriously as you take yourself. Make them
take your ideas seriously, don`t take yourself too seriously. I`ll be on
Fallon Wednesday night, the night after the President. We can laugh at all
of us. I`ve learned if you laugh at yourself, people take what you say
more seriously. And not your ego as your block for them realizing it`s not
about you, it`s about what you stand for.

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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