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PoliticsNation, Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Read the transcript from the Tuesday show

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Guests: Steve Kornacki, Erin McPike; Chaka Fattah, Tad Devine, Michael Steele, Ben
Thompson, Walter Shapiro


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

Tonight`s lead, Willard Mitt Romney, you can`t handle the youth.
Young voters have always been the queue winning the White House. But it
was President Obama who showed us just how important this group was.

He got a new generation excited about politics. And in return, young
voters went for him by an overwhelming margin. They were keys to his
success. And he`s aiming for repeat performance.

President leads Romney by 26 points with young voters. But enthusiasm
is not what it was this 2008. Back then, 63 percent of young voters add
big interest in the election. This time around, 45 percent have the same
interest.

President Obama is looking to reenergize that base. So today he did
what he does best. He spoke to students about the message of fairness that
has defined his presidency.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just want everybody
here to understand that this is not -- I didn`t just read about this. I
didn`t just get a policy briefing on this. Michelle and I, we`ve been in
your shoes. Like I said, we didn`t come from wealthy families. So when we
graduated from college and law school, we had a mountain of debt. When we
married, we got poor together. Check this out, all right? I`m the
president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: We only finished paying off our student loans about eight
years ago.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Our president was paying off loans until eight years ago.
He didn`t learn about student debt in a policy briefing? But maybe this
guy did.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: One thing I want it mention,
I just -- by the way, there`s one thing I wanted to mention, that I forgot
to mention at the very beginning, I fully support the effort to extend the
low interest rate on student loans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now here`s the translation of that. I forgot mention that
I need young voters. Looks like I better support them now even though I
was saying, this just last month.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: It would be popular for me to stand up and say, I`m going to
give you government money to make sure to pay for your college, but I`m not
going to promise that. My best advice is find the greatest institution of
higher learning, find one that has the right price, shop around. Don`t
just go to one that has the highest price. Go to one that has a little
lower price where you can get a good education. And hopefully, you will
find that and don`t take on too much debt. And don`t expect the government
forgive the debt that you take on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Wow, way back six weeks ago, you said you couldn`t promise
any help. But now, suddenly, your campaign is spinning, you, as a man of
the youth.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HANK BROWN (R), FORMER SENATOR, COLORADO: My guess is you`ll see a
dramatic difference in the youth vote to this time, part of it is have you
a younger more dynamic Republican candidate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That was 72-year-old former senator Hank Brown selling
Romney as a dynamic candidate for young voters. Dynamic with the youth.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: But I see mistakes. I find a little humor. In this case,
Lucy at the chocolate factory is such a classic scene. Those of us that
have gotten a little behind can identify with poor Lucy.

I like silly stuff, too. I mean, I like the twilight series. I
thought that was fun.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: You like vampires.

ROMNEY: I don`t like vampires personally, I don`t know any.

As George Costanza would say when they are applauding, stop.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I stopped taking pointers from the man who drop by Jimmy
Fallon today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the 44th president of the
United States of America, Barack Obama.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know Mitt Romney?

OBAMA: I`ve met him. But we`re not friends.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now is Steve Kornacki, political writer for
salon.com, an MSNBC contributor and Erin McPike, a reporter for "Real Clear
Politics."

Thank you both for coming on the show tonight.

STEVE KORNACKI, POLITICAL WRITER, SALON.COM: Sure.

ERIN MCPIKE, REPORTER, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Steve, let me start with you. How will young voters react
towards Romney after the great pivot?

KORNACKI: Well, it`s an interesting question. Because Romney`s goal
here, let`s be honest to that, is not to win the youth vote. And really,
it`s not to come even that close to winning the youth vote. But it is to
keep the margin somewhat respectable.

What happened in 2008, when it was Obama versus McCain, you know
McCain is 72-year-old nominee sunning a very (INAUDIBLE) party the that
time, lost by about 40 points.

SHARPTON: Right.

KORNACKI: Among young voters. For Romney`s sake, if he can keep
that, you know, right now, we are seeing in the high 20s in the polls. You
know, if Romney can cut that in half, you know, 20, 25 points even, that
could be enough, you know, given the advantages he will have elsewhere,
that could be enough.

So, you look at this message today and it is almost like, you fine,
look, he`s not going to be able to go on Jimmy Fallon and do what Obama
did.

But if young voters, if some young voters look at the economy and say
they want to punish the guy in charge, they want to throw the guy in charge
out, Romney`s kind of delivering a message here is, look, I`m not going to
pick a fight on this issue that is going to make them turn against me.
Anyone who wants to go against Obama, I`m not going to give them a reason,
you know, to look at me and say no. So, that`s what he is going for here.

SHARPTON: Erin, in some ways, if you look at his policy, he has
picked a fight. Because his record said he doesn`t speak to the youth. He
support cut in the department of education. He supports slashing PELL
grants. He supports eliminating the affordable care act cutting coverage
to millions of people age 18 to 25, among other things. So in many ways,
policy wise, he has picked a little fight with the young voters.

MCPIKE: Well, you know, I think the Obama campaign is aware of that
and that`s why you`re seeing a big push by the president right now to talk
about his programs for student loans. But this isn`t a new thing for the
White House. President Obama has had lots of events on college campuses
since he took office in 2009. He goes to a lots of college campuses around
the country to announce new program. And I think they will be reminding
voters over the next few months that some of the policies that he has
enacted.

One thing we didn`t hear much, about the time when it was enacted in
early 2010, was credit card reform. That is a very popular kind of policy
for the youth vote. And they didn`t really push that in mid terms. But
that`s one of those things that we`ll be hearing a lot more from the Obama
campaign going forward.

SHARPTON: Now Steve, when you look at the key demographics, President
Obama among young voters, beating Romney 63-45. Latino voters, 67-27,
Women voters, 53-40. I mean, he has challenges he, being Willard Mitt
Romney in very key demographics if he is going to be competitive in this
race.

KORNACKI: Right. What you are seeing there, in a numbers, especially
like Latino voters, that`s about consistent with what we saw in 2008.
Again, Obama absolutely blew McCain out among Latino voters.

SHARPTON: Right.

KORNACKI: In 2008, there was more of an overall buffer for Barack
Obama when you looked at the election results. He got 53 percent
nationally and most popular votes highs, sharing the popular vote for any
votes since LBJ. It was just a kind of year when the tide turned against
Republicans, so Obama over performed in a lot of groups.

If you look it now, there are some specific groups also where Obama
has lost ground probably the one that comes to my most resort of white men
without college education. Blue collar --

SHARPTON: And the economy.

KORNACKI: Right. I think the economy is probably re-driving that.
His numbers are way down with that group. So, when you look at that, it
becomes that much more important for Obama that the groups he performed
with really well in 2008, he performed just as well in 2012.

As what I`m saying, if Romney can make inroad without winning groups
but just cut the margin. That can go a long way given the other
advantages.

SHARPTON: So Erin, strategically, if you`re if the Obama camp, you
have to deal with the fact that economy is the problem even among young
voters. So, you`ve also got o to deal with the fact that you need to push
in Congress some of the votes that Republicans will oppose and give Romney
a problem. Like student loan rate extension, violence against women,
paycheck fairness, Schumer`s legislative push to undo the Arizona
immigration law. I mean, because some of these issues, whether Republicans
in Congress have one view, they politically could be very bad for candidate
Mitt Romney with young voters.

MCPIKE: They actually could. But I would also point out that concern
there for Democrats is that now that Mitt Romney is on the verge of locking
up the nomination and actually getting close to the 1,144 delegates that he
needs. But right now we know he will be the nominee. He doesn`t have to
do as much to shore up the Republican base any more. So, he can separate
himself from congressional Republicans by saying, yes, I support some of
these reforms that Democrats and president support so that there`s no light
between President Obama and Mitt Romney on that. He could say look, we are
the same so vote for me because I got x, y and z other plans on the
economy. So, that`s a little bit of a dangerous stretch for Democrats to
push that now.

SHARPTON: Now Steve, the president has got a little aggressive today.
He slammed North Carolina Republicans Virginia Foxx for dismissing student
complaint about the debt loan. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: She said student who rank up student loan debt are just
sitting on their butts, having opportunity dumped in your lap. I`m reading
it here. So I didn`t make this up.

Those of you who have had to take out student loans, you didn`t do it
because you`re lazy. You didn`t do it lightly. You dent like debt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Is this party affiliation people saying this kind of stuff
in the Republican Party does this hurt Romney even though he doesn`t the
one saying it? These are people in his party and he is naturally
affiliated as the twitch may have head of the party?

KORNACKI: No, I think absolutely. I mean, you talk about brand
poisoning of the Republican Party. The Republican Party is popularity
right now, basically as when as it`s been since the Clinton impeachment in
the `90s and it was terrible.

And I think a lot of that was rub off upon Romney, you can rub off on
him here because, sure, it is kind of easy for him to come out and say,
yes, you know, I would -- I`m OK with the student loan interest rates
staying where they are. But let`s see, what do the house Republicans do.
Are they going to pass that? And if he becomes president and this comes up
for extension again, you know, and they say, we don`t want it, would he
fight them on that?

And look at the youthful. I think one of the things to remember here,
when you look at how well Obama does and how poorly Romney does, it`s the
cultural issue. The culture issues particularly with young voters, there
is such in a virgin to the culture war politics the Republican Party
practices. That`s one of those things that is so engrained with young
voters; I don`t know how Romney gets around that.

SHARPTON: And Erin, when you look at the fact that president won 18
to 19-year-old vote far more than any other president, I mean, 96 Clinton
won 53-34 against Dole. 2000, Gore, 48-46 to Bush. 2004, Kerrey, 54-45 to
Bush. Obama, 66-32. I mean, it`s an enormous gap. And if he holds
anywhere near that, it is going to have a lot to stay about the outcome of
this election.

Steve and Erin, thank you both for coming on the show tonight.

KORNACKI: Sure.

MCPIKE: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, breaking news in the secret service sex scandal.
Three more agents forced out as President Obama comments on the quote
"knuckle heads" in the agency who made it all happen.

Plus, John Boehner is hedging his bets on November election. Maybe he
is finally realizing what happens to extreme people, with unpopular ideas.

Also, the job nobody wants. Mitt Romney`s running mate. While some
of the biggest names in the party do not want to hop on Willard`s
bandwagon.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back with some breaking news in the secret service
sex scandal.

NBC news reports three more agents are being forced out of the agency
today. Two are resigning and a third is losing his security clearance
which will force him out. Two of the agents will be cleared of any serious
misconduct. But will face administrative action.

President Obama talked about secret service today during a taping of
"Late Night with Jimmy Fallon." The president said quote, "these guys are
incredible. They protect me, they protect Michelle, they protect the
girls. They protect our officials all around the world. A couple of
knuckle heads shouldn`t detract from what they do. What these guys were
thinking, I don`t know. That`s why they`re not there anymore."

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back to "Politics Nation."

The GOP`s extremism has had a clear effect on the party`s image and
popularity. And it may hurt them in November even house speaker John
Boehner seems a bit worried.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP, JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: There`s a two and three chance
that we win control of the house again. But there`s a one in three chance
we could lose. And I`m being, myself, frank. We have a big challenge and
we`ve got work to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: One in three chances that his party could lose control of
the house. So far cry from January when he "Politico", quote, "Republican
will hold the house next year and for the next decade."

Democrats say Republicans should be blaming their deeming prospects on
the party`s merge to the right.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, DNC CHAIRWOMAN: I think it is entirely
reasonable for the speaker to expect that they could lose the house because
they very well could. John Boehner allowed the tea party to take over his
conference. The Republicans fully embraced extremism.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: She`s right. Republicans in the Congress have taken
extremism it a whole new level. Just last week, house Republicans voted to
cut $33 billion from food stamp programs. "The New York Times" calls it a
callous choice saying quote "they will take tens of billions out of
programs for the poorest Americans particularly food stamps along with
health care for the middle class."

Under the proposal, two million people would lose all benefits. Forty
four million people would see reduction in their benefits and 280,000 kids
would lose their free lunch meals.

So, no wonder President Obama keeps pushing the fairness message.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: In America, we admire success. We aspire to it. I want
everybody to be rich. But America is not just about a few people doing
well. America is about giving everybody a chance to do well. Everybody!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now is Congressman Chaka Fattah, Democrat from
Pennsylvania. Thanks for being here tonight, Congressman.

REP. CHAKA FATTAH (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Thank you for having me again.

SHARPTON: Now. I don`t know if you`re a betting man, congressman,
but what do you think about Boehner`s one in three odds of keeping the
House?

FATTAH: Well, look, I look at it almost like a one-two punch. You
know, Jon Huntsman said on your network today that he compared the GOP to a
communist party empower in China. And that they were locking people out
who had moderate or contemporary ideas. They`ve been trying to push the
country back to another century, I think. You know, they want it get rid
of -- Newt says, let`s get rid of child labor laws, Santorum wants to do
away with birth control. They want to cut away at union and collective
bargaining rights. And you point out that they think $35 for food stamps
to get through a week is being overly generous to those who have lost their
job by no fault of their own.

So you know, I think that the reason why the Republican Party, the
brand, is polling as poorly as it does during the Clinton impeachment era
is because they don`t seem to be relevant in the daily lives of American
citizens.

SHARPTON: No.

FATTAH: Facing real challenges.

SHARPTON: It is really, when you look at father Thomas Reese. He
wrote a letter. Father Reese did to Representative Paul Ryan, slamming his
budget, signed by 90 Georgetown Faculty. He writes, quote, "He claims his
budget is based on catholic social teaching. This is nonsense. His budget
has a devastating impact on programs for the poor."

And when you look at Ryan`s plan, how it deals with the poor, and
hurts the poor, 3.3 trillion, congressman, in cuts to low income programs.
Medicaid, SNAP, PELL grants, job training and they wonder why they got a
bad image.

FATTAH: Well, look. We got a conservative who is the leader of
Britain, he comes out today and says look, he want to invest on a smart
group. He wants to do light rail and a high speed rail as a way to create
jobs. They tried cutting in their economy went in the hole.

President Obama is right. We need to continue to invest. That`s why
our GDP is up. That`s why we got 35 consecutive months of private sector
job growth.

We are headed in the right direction. Unemployment continues to drop
and those people who are unemployed, they are not going to vote for the
party who want to cut their benefits, cut access to food stamps, cut job
training. The idea that Republicans are trying to help those who are
unemployed is nonsense.

And I think on this Election Day, those who have a job can credit the
administration for stabilizing our economy and those who don`t know that
this administration is trying to put them to work.

SHARPTON: Now, you coupled the proposals and the policies with some
of the most extreme comments we heard in recent political history. Let me
just show you a montage of statements by leading Republicans just in the
last few weeks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ALLEN WEST (R), FLORIDA: Believe that there is about 78 to 81
members of the Democratic Party that are members of the communist party.

MICHELE BACHMANN (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The president
already has every tool at his disposal to deal with speculators. This is
just about waving a tar baby in the air.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No program in our government has surged out of
control more dramatically than food stamps.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He asked me what I think about Obama`s birth
certificate being a forgery. You know, I have a lot of doubts about all
that. But I don`t o know. I haven`t seen it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Congressman, doesn`t this array of extreme statements by
leading Republicans really start to marginalize more and more, the party in
the mind of American voters?

FATTAH: Look, I think when you have Mitt Romney say that Ron Paul and
his budget proposals will be better than Barack Obama that shows you that
he is willing to say almost anything to try to win votes.

When have you a party that is only trying to win power, no principles,
it is just a conspiracy to grab power. The Democratic Party is the party
that is trying to educate more Americans, provide healthcare for more
Americans. They bring in our young people home from Iraq. We have every
single one of our young people out of Iraq. He has ended this war and is
trying to put the country on right footing.

Now, we are the wealthiest country in the world. We have the lowest
tax rates we`ve had in 60 years. There`s no reason for us to be in debt.
The problem is we have a Republican party that doesn`t want to be
responsible, and have an ability for people who have done well to be able
to contribute so we can pay down this debt.

SHARPTON: Congressman Chaka Fattah, thank you for your time tonight.

FATTAH: Thank you, Rev. And for those in Pennsylvania, who is still
voting, come out and vote. We have a great young guy, a rough urban,
veteran, running for attorney general, Patrick Murphy. Give him a run.
Thank you.

SHARPTON: All right. Thanks you, congressman.

And ahead, Willard has no pressure this primary night. But Jon
Stewart explains why there is no champagne popping inside the grand old
party. You have to see this.

And Scott Walker`s attack on workers is it working? Some new job
numbers show why he may be unemployed after this upcoming recall.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back. Folks, Scott Walker is facing the fight of
his political fight this spring and he is not letting facts get in the way
of his reelection pitch. But let`s take the governor on a little stroll
down memory lane and remind him how he want office back in 2010.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV, SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: Two hundred fifty thousand new
jobs. That`s my goal, 250,000 new jobs by the end of our first term in
office.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Two hundred fifty thousand jobs in four years. And how did
Walker set out to create all those jobs? He turned public opinion against
him by attacking public workers. He cut collective bargaining rights and
he slashed funding for schools and universities.

And those moves certainly aren`t helping to create jobs. Wisconsin
lost 4500 jobs last month. The states nearly lost 24,000 jobs in the last
year. And Wisconsin`s record is the worst in the country. The U.S. labor
department says Wisconsin was the only state to show us statistically
significant decreased unemployment in the last year.

So I guess it`s time for the governor Walker to admit he was wrong,
right?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALKER: We`ve made it work this Wisconsin. We lowered our overall
tax burden. We ultimately saw a net increase in jobs this year.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: An increase in jobs this year? Governor, we just showed
you the numbers. You lost jobs in the state this year.

Here they are again. Wisconsin lost 4500 jobs in the last month and
nearly 24,000 jobs since March of 2011. When you lose jobs, that`s a
decrease, not an increase, governor. How did that collective bargaining
work out for you?

Nice try. But we got you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. It`s another big primary
night and Mitt Romney is facing his toughest opponent yet, nobody.
Republicans in five states are voting in primaries today. But most, the
most delegate that are up since Super Tuesday are at stake. But while
Romney`s all but crisp GOP nomination, many Republicans still aren`t sold
on him. Forty one percent of GOP voters say, they have reservations about
Romney, and only 33 percent of Americans see him in a positive light
compared to 48 percent who see President Obama positively. Worst yet,
Willard`s potential running mates all seem to be running away from him.
Jon Stewart poke, funded Willard -- last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: If he asked you to be vice president?

GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I would say no.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: That`s the absolute no.

HALEY: I would say thank you, but no.

JON STEWART, STAND-UP COMEDIAN: OK. All right. That`s fine. She`s
a seated governor. What about Pawlenty?

FMR. GOV. TIM PAWLENTY (R), MINNESOTA: The answer is, I`m not going
to consider that and I`ve taken myself off the list.

STEWART: OK, all right. Fine. You don`t need to be on the list.
You know, what? They don`t want you. They will go old school.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: How many ways can I say
it? Not me.

STEWART: Marco Rubio says, Rob Portman`s your guy. Let`s see what
he has it say about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Romney/Portman, does very a ring to it?

SEN. ROBERT PORTMAN (R), OHIO: I think Rubio has a better ring.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Here comes the peer pressure.

FMR. GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: I think Marco would be among many
great candidates for vice president, I think Marco is probably the best.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Rubio passes to Portman. Portman passes back to
Rubio. Bush also passes back to Rubio. Rubio in the main. He`s driving.
He`s standing next to the basket. And --

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: That`s very nice Jeb, I hope he will say yes if
future President Romney asks him.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I think he will be a fantastic vice president.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Passes back it Bush.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now is democratic strategist Tad Devine, a
senior adviser for Kerry and Gore campaigns. And Michael Steele, an MSNBC
analyst and former RNC chairman. Thanks to both of you for being here
tonight. Michael, Michael, Michael.

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC ANALYST: Good to see you.

SHARPTON: How can Romney convince republican voters and party leaders
to drop the reservations they seem to have about him. What does he do here
Michael?

STEELE: Well, I think the reservations are still a legitimate part
of the narrative here regardless of where we are with the delegate count.
And it`s obvious that Romney is the nominee of the party. I think there is
still some fence mending and some grass roots building that has to go on
and is going on quite frankly, Reverend. I think we`ve got a little bit of
time still, not much though, for that to conclude itself. You`ve already
started the -- state conversation. That`s not going to go on for the next
three months. I think that will die down in short order because Romney
will send appropriate signals that`s not going to be a part of his public
discussion.

And so he can get back to the party building and the conversation he
wants to have about the president`s leadership and administration of the
affairs of the country. But you`re right, I think there is still some
fence mending that has to be done here. You still have Newt and Ron Paul
swinging out there off in the rafters a bit. That`s got to be brought to
some level of closure over the next week or so. So there`s a still a lot
for the Romney campaign to have to take only legitimately before we get
into conversation about the Vice President and all of that.

SHARPTON: Now Tad, part of the problem is that, it seems that if
polling is correct, many people that are supporting Romney are voting
against -- I`m talking Republicans now, are voting against the President
rather than for Romney. When you look at polling, 35 percent say, I`m
voting for Romney, 63 percent say, I`m voting against Obama. Now when you
talk to the President supporters, 76 percent of voting for the President,
33 percent are voting against Romney. So you have like this lopsided where
many people say, well, I`m not really in the Romney Republicans. I just
don`t want the President. The President seems to have solid pro-Obama
support and not just depending on anti-Romney flavor. Big difference, Ted.

TAD DEVINE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It is a big difference, Reverend.
And I think it`s a big problem for Governor Romney. I don`t think he can
win this election by just being negative. He won the nomination of the
Republican Party by running a viciously negative campaign. But that`s not
going to be enough for him to win general election of the president of
United States. He has got to outline a vision for the future. He has to
lay forth plans so that people knows where he wants to take the country.
And he`s got to instill some confidence in his own leadership. And
frankly, this nominating process which is been brutal in terms of the
attacks he took from his opponents and also, the mistakes that Romney made
time and time again, the words that came out of his own mouth which hurt
his candidacy, I think that is really set him back. And if he doesn`t do
something to repair his own image, I think he is going to be in big trouble
when it comes to the fall.

SHARPTON: Now, Michael, when do we going to start getting details?
He is out of the growling primaries, he`s out of the negative ads. When do
we start hearing details on his education programs, his economic policies.
I mean, when do we start hearing what Romney is really all about rather
than the flip-flop back and forward on just like the slogan issues?

STEELE: Well, I think Reverend in all sincerity, I think that will
come at end of this primary process more so than anything that he`s going
to put on the table in the month of May, for example, or even the beginning
of June. And I think after Utah at the end of the month of June, you`ve
got that 60-day window in preparation for the convention. You`ve already
seen the Romney team kind of do rebuttal when he was in North Carolina
recently in anticipation of the president being there in September for his
convention. So, I think you will begin to see that step up sometime in
July after the holidays. Or maybe over the course of the 4th of July
holiday. You will start to hear the framing and that defining of what will
become the core message that Romney is going to send. Again, I don`t know
exactly what their actual timetable is going to be. But I think they want
to get through this primary process first. Secure the 1144 delegates that
they need to get this nomination on the first ballot. That`s going to be a
primary focus. And then I think you will hear those themes roll out as you
have requested.

SHARPTON: But Ted, you can`t ignore the republican leadership has
been less than enthusiastic about Romney. I mean, look at just two months
ago, Rudy Giuliani was saying, Romney was a flawed candidate but yesterday,
he endorsed him. But he did it tepidly. Look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI (R), NEW YORK CITY: He has changed his
position on virtually everything. He was a traditional moderate
republican. Strong on fiscal matters. Conservative. Strong on foreign
policy. But basically socially moderate. And he changed all that. All
those changes in position give me pause.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I think that Mitt has won fair and square. I mean,
he has proven he`s most effective republican. This reminds me of, you
know, going to a surgeon, right? If I`ve got a terrible cancer or
something to be operated on, if I have to be operated on prostate cancer, I
didn`t go to the nicest doctor, I went to the best doctor. The guy can
have a great personality and tell great jokes, he put the knife in the
wrong way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, not exactly ringing endorsement to go from saying
that, you know, what he said in February to yesterday saying, well, you
want the guy that if you are about to have a real surgery on prostate
cancer that will do it right. I mean, that doesn`t exactly have you
storming the barricades saying vote for Willard.

DEVINE: No, it doesn`t, Reverend Al. I tell you, the guy who is
sticking the knife in yesterday was Rudy Giuliani. He was sticking in
Romney. I mean, listen, those kind of endorsements, they don`t help, they
hurt. And unfortunately, it is not just Giuliani. It`s a lot of other
people in the Republican Party who basically say, OK, they resigned to the
fact that Romney has won the nomination. They are willing to support him
in public but I think you`ll going to see the Republican Party really
holding back and not coming forward. And enthusiastically supporting him.
And if they can`t muster that enthusiasm for him in the weeks and months
ahead, I think it is going to be very difficult for Romney to put together
enough votes to defeat the President?

SHARPTON: Now, Michael, we are hearing this bitterness in the Romney
camp about Santorum who has still not endorsed today`s the Pennsylvania
primary. We`ve heard tonight that they`ll going to meet in a week but
there is still no immediate endorsement expected. And as late as last
week, one full week after Santorum dropped out of the race, mail up here,
mailbox in Iowa from Santorum`s camp that says it truly frightens know
think what will happen if Mitt Romney is the nominee. So he is still
seeming to have problems even pulling his opponent together even after they
drop out of race.

STEELE: Yes, I think there`s a little bit of truth to that Reverend.
I think that mail piece is probably almost plan, pieces that is kind of in
the hopper that kind of goes out automatically and someone forgot to pull
it, you know, pull it. But I think that the reality of it is there is no
love lost these between campaigns. And I think that.

SHARPTON: Does he need Santorum? Can he do this.

STEELE: I think he does. No, I think without a doubt he does. I
think, you know, having Rick Santorum eventually come to the table in
partnership with his effort to become the next president is going to be
very important. Because Santorum represents a legitimate and sizable voice
within the party out that he`s got to bring. Again, to your first point
the way you opened the segment, getting those conservatives who still on
the fence, that lackluster desire for his campaign. He`s got to begin to
mitigate that in some way and the way you begin to do that is to have
someone like a Rick Santorum come to your table. You just can`t expect the
Romney team just because Rick Santorum walked off the field. You have to
go to him and give him a reason to do so in a forthright way. Which you
why, you`re seeing these lightweight endorsements.

SHARPTON: Well, let me, we are out of time. But you saw Rubio said
no, you saw Bush said no. Michael Steele, would you be the running mate of
Willard Mitt Romney?

(LAUGHTER)

STEELE: Well, Reverend, that`s a foul call, I do not expect to come
on to appear on my phone. No.

SHARPTON: Wow, Willard can`t even get Michael Steele. Tad Devine and
Michael Steele. Thanks for your time tonight.

STEELE: All right, Rev.

SHARPTON: Ahead, high drama in North Carolina courtroom. Day two of
the John Edwards trial. So, his former aid on the stand with some
explosive claims. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Folks, I want to take a minute to correct the record about
something I said on the show last night. We were talking about President
Bush`s economic policies. And I said the public debt grew $5 billion when
he was in office. That`s not quite right. And it wasn`t quite fair to
President Bush. I left off a few zeroes. The debt actually exploded by
nearly $5 trillion during the Bush presidency. Trillion with the T. So
you see, President Bush deserves way more credit for destroying the
economy. And let`s give credit where credit is due.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Today, John Edwards watched his former aid Andrew Young
take the stand as the prosecution`s star witness in the trial that`s
already exposed in his sins, if not any actual crimes. Four years ago
young tried to save his boss by falsely claiming paternity for the child
Edwards had secretly fathered with Rielle Hunter. Today Young testified
that Edwards told him to give money to Rielle Hunter in May, 2007 after she
threatened to expose the affair. This contradicts claims from Edward`s
lawyers who says, he didn`t know about the donations.

Eventually, wealthy supporter Rachel "Bunny" Mellon became the funding
source, sending hundreds of thousands of dollars through Young. Young also
testified, he and his wife worried they were breaking the law but Edward
reassured him all would be fine. He said quote, "We felt extremely uneasy
about it. We felt the smell was wrong. But in the end we decided he knew
more about the law than we did."

Joining me from outside the courthouse in Greensboro, North Carolina,
he`s Ben Thompson reporter for NBC`s, WCNC, affiliate in Charlotte. Also
with me is Walter Shapiro, special correspondent for the new republic and
columnist for Yahoo! News who covered Edwards and myself.

WALTER SHAPIRO, THE NEW REPUBLIC: Definitely.

SHARPTON: During the 2004 presidential campaign. Thanks to both of
you for joining me tonight. Ben, you were in the courtroom again today.
Let me start with you. Andrew Young had some pretty tough testimony. What
was the reaction in the courtroom?

BEN THOMPSON, WCNC REPORTER: Well, interesting you say that.
Because most of the reaction that you`ve seen so far from Edwards actually
came today. He actually showed a face of disbelief that times. He winced
a few times would rub his head. At one point, he turned to one of his
attorneys and actually said to her, this is the craziest thing I`ve ever
heard. I`m paraphrasing there, but that`s the basic gist of it. And was
basically frustrated with some of the things he was hearing on stand.

SHARPTON: So, there was reaction from Edwards today. And now, do
you think Edward and I`m sure -- I`m asking something you could now know
for certain but was it like he was playing to the jury or does he look like
he may have been possibly really stunned by some of the things he heard
coming out of the young`s mouth?

THOMPSON: From my vantage point, that was maybe, you know, ten feet
behind him, it actually seemed genuine, that even he was trying to contain
some of it. When some of the things were coming out about the affair and
some of the details, some of the phone calls and voice mails. And e-mails
going back and forth. He seemed genuinely frustrated by some of the things
he was hearing and then he was trying to guard and stop himself.

SHARPTON: Now, Walter, this is not about sin. This is not about
infidelity, this is about whether he broke the law. So when have you
Andrew Young testifying a lot about Bunny Mellon, who is one of the sources
of the -- the major source here, he says, quote, "I told Mellon that we had
a non-campaign expense that would benefit Mr. Edwards and we needed her
help." Also he said he did not tell her the money was to cover up an
affair. On legal terms, does that help or harm Edwards?

SHAPIRO: I think it hurts him. But again, I`m not a lawyer. I don`t
even play one on TV.

SHARPTON: Right, OK.

SHAPIRO: But that said, what is really important, up to now everyone
has thought that both Bunny Mellon and the other funding, funder, the late
Dallas lawyer Fred Baron.

SHARPTON: Who was friendly with it.

SHAPIRO: Who was one of Edwards best friends, the whole explanation
was, they were giving this money to cover up an fair and it was a personal
contribution keeping it from his wife, Elizabeth, it had nothing to do with
politics. Now, it is coming out. I think we will learn more as the trial
goes on that Bunny Mellon had no idea that John Edwards was having an
affair. She thought this money was for campaign purposes. Maybe a little
round robin, little off the books but for campaign purposes.

SHARPTON: Now, you wrote yesterday and I`m reading you to you, the
trial will raise the strong possibility that the then 97-year-old socialite
was ignorant of the existence of Rielle Hunter. She apparently thought she
was donating in some round robin fashion to the Edwards campaign, not
covering up an affair. Which is basically what you saying here. Now, if
that is true, though it may look like she was going around some campaign
laws herself. It really destroys the premise of Edwards` defense.

SHAPIRO: Right. That this is all about sex. This is all about
covering up an affair. Suddenly, you have what seems to me one of two
possibilities. Either Edwards was soliciting an illegal contribution
through Rielle Hunter, through Andrew Young, or Andrew Young acting on his
own going rogue, even before Sarah Palin went rogue, was getting the money
on his own and saying he was acting for John Edwards. But that`s a lot
different than the way it was portrayed before the trial started.

SHARPTON: Now, we also heard today, Ben, that Rielle Hunter had a
lavish lifestyle out of this. That money helped her rent her house, buy a
new BMW, and there was some nasty references that I don`t want it use the
term on television, about how Mr. Edwards referred to her when he was told
she was pregnant. But it`s all coming to a very ugly picture. What
happens, next?

THOMPSON: Well at this point we know that Mr. Young will actually
take the stand again tomorrow and we are expecting that he will be cross-
examined by the defense tomorrow afternoon. And to your point, you`re
right, Rielle Hunter did not come across looking good today. She came
across looking high maintenance and demanding, that she always wanted
upgrades to hotels, that she expected to go shopping at Neiman Marcus all
the time. She didn`t come across looking much better than John Edwards or
Andrew Young himself.

SHARPTON: Ben Thompson and Walter Shapiro. Thank you both for your
time tonight.

Ahead, the GOP war on teachers got a big wakeup call today. That`s
next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back on POLITICS NATION with a cause I`m very
passionate about, education. Today, President Obama honored the 2012
national teacher of the year. A 7th grade teacher from Burbank, saying she
is quote, "the definition of above and beyond." And you he talked about
how important all teachers are.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: A lot of important people
visit the White House. But to young people in classrooms around the
country, nobody`s more important than the men and women that we honor here
today. These are the kind of teachers who change lives forever. I
wouldn`t be here today if it were not for teachers like these who
challenged me and pushed me and put up with me. Teachers matter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Teachers matter. He`s so right. They don`t get the
credit. But they are the real heroes, the future of our country depends on
them, and it depends on all of us making an effort improving our education
system. It is something both sides should agree on. That`s why it upsets
me when I see Chris Christie slashing teachers` pay and Mitt Romney wanting
to gut the Department of Education and Rick Santorum wanting to abolish
public education. This isn`t good for America. Our children are in crisis
in our school. There are a lot of pain out there and we need results.
Newt Gingrich and I don`t agree on anything. But three years ago we came
together on this issue. President Obama asked us to bring light to this
problem. And our education system. We toured the country. Talking the
importance of a strong education.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: We may not agree on certain specific issues but there must
be a commitment in this country four equal education for all-American young
people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Speaking of which, hey, Newt. Rumors say, you may be
getting out of the race soon. Just wanted you to know, my phone is always
on. As they say in show business, we can always get the band back together
and do something for education. I remember my teachers in Brooklyn -- Ms.
Brown. They made a difference for me. They matter. And teachers matter
for kids today. And we should remember whether they were teacher of the
year or not. They are always be the teachers every year I live, that I
remember.

I`m Al Sharpton. Thanks for watching. "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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