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PoliticsNation, Friday, April 27, 2012

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Guests: Richard Wolffe; Michael Steele; Michael Eric Dyson, Melissa Harris-Perry, E.J. Dionne, Bob Franken, Emily Heil

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

Tonight`s lead, Karl Rove is worried about the election, and his
billionaire backpack spending in all the wrong ways. Here is how he is
going after the president.


SHARPTON: I`m sorry, was that the Obama campaign add? I loved it.
We will get to their points on student and unemployment in a moment. But I
thought it was great. I never thought I would live to see to say these
words, but even Donald Trump agrees with me.


DONALD TRUMP, BUSINESSMAN: I thought it was a terrible ad. It made
him bigger than life. It made him to be the super celebrity which I don`t
happen to think he is. I think it was a terrible ad by the Republicans. I
think actually, if anything, in fact when I first saw it, I thought the
Democrats put it out.


SHARPTON: And today, the Romney campaign jumped on the band wagon,
quote saying "President Obama spent the week slow-jamming the news,
striking the Heisman pose, and trying to pick the fight over student loans
to help the one-in-two recent college graduates who are either jobless or
underemployed as result of his policies."

They`re trying to attack the president on one of his biggest strengths
-- popularity. Fifty six percent of Americans say the president is
likable. Only 27 percent feel the same way about Willard. We have seen
them try this before.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is the biggest celebrity in the world, but is
he ready to lead?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I`m John McCain and I approve this


SHARPTON: Well, we all know how that worked out. bottom line is Karl
Rove is growing concerned. His first projection of the 2012 race has
President Obama running way ahead with electoral votes.

As of this week Rove has President Obama likely getting 220 votes, and
Mitt Romney with 93 votes. He has millions to spend, but this ad was a
major swing and miss.

Joining me now is Richard Wolffe, an MSNBC political analyst. He is
also author of "Revival, the struggle for survival in the Obama White
House," and Michael Steele, an MSNBC analyst and former RNC chairman.

Thanks to both of you for being here tonight.


SHARPTON: Richard, let me ask you a question, did Rove`s attack on
the quo president backfire?

WOLFFE: Well, it didn`t work in 2008, and frankly, in 2008 they had a
much better prospect for that kind of ad because you`re talking about a
freshman senator, right? So, the idea that he was a light-weight and
didn`t have any experience, well, his resume for running for president was
pretty thin.

So what you have now though is a president first off they are all
famous. They do go on TV and they do have cool things like air force one.
But really questioning his ability to do the job has to come from
questioning his record. You cannot just say he is famous and therefore he
is not up to the job. It speaks to the, I think, their contempt for the
president, but it really doesn`t get to anything more than humanizing him.
Showing all his greatest hits of moments when he`s not stuck behind a
podium and trying to negotiate with congress who doesn`t want to listen to

SHARPTON: Michael, is this, a hit and miss? Is there something I`m
missing here?

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: I think it`s a good ad in the
sense that it starts a narrative that I think that crossroads and the
Romney campaign and the RNC are going to be engaging over the next few

This is setup. This is to say to - and remember the target of this ad
was not Richard, was not me, it`s not, you know, you, Reverend. It`s the
college campus student that has a cool persona about Obama. They wanted to
go after that. they want to say, look. OK, he is really cool. He is a
great pal. You know, you hang out with this guy. He has got the 3D
glasses on, but you don`t have a job. And you`re walking into an economy
where there is no job for you.

And so, it begins in narrative that they want to chip away at the
president`s armor ,if you will, with respect to the inroads he has with
young voters, the inroads he has with his popularity.

You showed the numbers, Reverend. Fifty six percent to 27 percent.
If you`re in that 27 percent, you have to bring down your opponents bigger
number. And so, you begin to chip away at that. and I think this is an
effective way to do that. It`s not that heady. It`s not supposed to be
highbrow. It`s supposed to be a very effective low cost, impact ad that
begins to start the narrative.

SHARPTON: But, let`s look at the fact all right. Let`s take what
you`re saying there, Michael. Let`s look at this, Richard.

Rove says in his ad the president being cool while there`s high
student debt -- let me play for you what Rove`s ad actually says in terms
of the issue.


SHARPTON: This is the president, let`s play this ad.


made a commitment to put a good education within the reach of everybody.
Everybody whose one of the work for, we got to make college more affordable
for you.

And I told Congress steer federal aid to those schools that keep
tuition affordable, and provide good value and serve their students well.
Helping more of our young people afford college should be at the forefront
of America`s agenda. It shouldn`t be a Democratic or Republican issue that
- think about it.


SHARPTON: While he is playing, Richard, that the president is just
cool and not dealing with your issues, you`re underemployed, or unemployed,
there is the president this week, actually out there fighting for the
actual things that they are saying he is not fighting for.

Doesn`t this backfire in the face of the fact, the president were on
college campuses this week, the president has been fighting these kind of
issues, and the facts just are not going to bear them out on this?

WOLFFE: Well, the president is out there definitely this week trying
to hit the messages about college students, about college loans interest
rates. But also, about investment in education. There was a nice counter
point today when Mitt Romney did a round table with a bunch of college
students, and most students were saying, you know, we need to invest in
education. And they are talking to a candidate Republican candidate who
said that he was going to close or consolidate things like the department
of education. And there is no way in his budget that he can invest in
education and bring down taxes across the board and raise investment in the
defense department.

So, you know, it`s a question of priorities and what you are talking
about. I have to disagree with Michael here because, you know, if you are
trying to reach college kids then a TV ads, is not going to do it. Mitt
Romney has to go in Jimmy Fallon show and make the case of Jon Stewart. He
has got to go where the people are, in this case, the college kids, they
are not going to listen to a Karl Rove ad on this one.

STEELE: Well, -- but who says he is not going to those things? And
you know, if that`s the case, Richard, then you don`t need ads at all. You
always just take your time and you go into the neighborhood of the
community where you try to reach those voters. You and I know that that`s
not the reality of politics. You do the ad, and you also do the other
things you`re talking about.

SHARPTON: Well. I`ll tell you what you might not want to do,
Michael, while the president is out there on one side appearing cool,
according t Rove. On one another side, fighting as we just saw in his
speeches about student loans.

Let me show you where Willard was today and advice he gave some
students about how to finance their college education if they were running
short on money. This is Willard today.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This attack of success is
very different than what we have seen in our country`s history. We always
encouraged young people take a shot, go for it, take a risk, get the
education, borrow money if you have to from your parents, start a business.


SHARPTON: How is that going to work out for you? Let`s close down
the department of education and go borrow some money from your parents.

STEELE: Yes. But, one, is not -- you`re making a false equivalency
there. The department of education has nothing to do --

SHARPTON: All right. Let`s take the department of education out of
it then Michael. How do you tell students that --

STEELE: They`re going to borrow money from their family if their
family has money or friends who have money if they are going to start their
own business. That is going to be part of the equation as well.

I think the broader question here is that, you know, he`s talking
about an economy in which those resources are available to you, that is not
just burgeoning the size of government blowing it up and making you go
through that turn style as supposed of having other options. It is great
to see that president out here talking about college education and the cost
of that education this week. Where were you in week 72 of your

Look. This issue on the cost of education didn`t just pop up this
week, Reverend. It`s been on the table from the very beginning of this
economic crisis, but it`s only now that this administration is starting to
deal with it because what? Elections are this fall, and the president
knows he needs a chunk of those voters to come back - those young voters to
come back to the program.

WOLFFE: He`s talking about it because interest rates are going to go
up on student loans.

STEELE: And why is that?

WOLFFE: And Congress needs to act.

SHARPTON: But, Michael, let`s be serious. You`re talking about he is
running against a guy that had forgotten to bring up student loans,
actually walked away with Rubio, and she came back and says, I forgot, I
support student loans too. I mean, come on. Let`s not act like you have
the champion.

STEELE: Is that the most damaging thing you have to say about Romney.
He forgot to mission student loans.

SHARPTON: No, no, no. You raised the point, I realize you have to
hold up your side --


SHARPTON: You said where was the president on the day 70-some? I`m
reminding you that your candidate just got on board, and almost forgot to
get on board the day before yesterday.

STEELE: You`re just wrong. You are just wrong about that. And I
think --

SHARPTON: Michael. Tell me where he got on board before that, I`ll
be quiet.

STEELE: Romney has been talking about this issue for quite some time,
but that`s not the point.

SHARPTON: He announced the day before yesterday his position.

STEELE: Reverend, I understand.

SHARPTON: He announced the day before yesterday, Michael.

STEELE: I understand. Fine. He could have announced it 15 minutes
ago, Obama`s for president has been --

SHARPTON: Because he has different stands, right?

STEELE: And it`s just this week, talking about this issue --

SHARPTON: He`s been running for president for five years, I think we
should have --

STEELE: You know what --

SHARPTON: Richard Wolffe, Michael Steele. Thank you for your time.

And Michael have a cool weekend, I wouldn`t put an ad out on you.


SHARPTON: Coming up. The Obama campaign releases a new ad on one of
the crowning achievements, the Osama bin Laden raid. So, why is the Romney
camp is still in the McCain crying foul?

Plus, John Boehner faces a choice between taxing big oil, and taking
money away from women`s health. Guess which one he goes with?


REP. JOHN BOEHNER, HOUSE SPEAKER: No, no, we`re going to have a fight
over women`s health. Give me a break.


SHARPTON: And gearing up for the biggest bash of the year, a chance
for the president and pundits to try their hand at stand up.


OBAMA: at the steak house, the men`s cooking team did not impress the
judges from Omaha house steaks. So ultimately, you didn`t blame little
John or meatloaf. You fire Gary Busey, and these are the kind of decisions
that would keep me up at night.


SHARPTON: We`ll look ahead to this weekend`s big White House
correspondence dinner.

You are watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.


SHARPTON: This time last year, President Obama made history by making
the call to go after Osama bin Laden. Now, he is reminding voters about
that gutsy decision, but the Romney folks and Senator John McCain have a
problem with that. We`ll talk about it next.



OBAMA: We will kill bin Laden, we will crush al Qaeda that has to be
our biggest national security priority.

Tonight I can report to the American people and to the word, that the
United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the
leader of al Qaeda.


SHARPTON: In just a few days, it will be one year since President
Obama ordered the mission to kill Osama bin Laden. Fulfilling a promise he
made to the American people. Today, the Obama campaign released a video
about that decision featuring former president bill Clinton.


seals went in there and it wasn`t bin Laden, supposed they could be
captured or killed. The downside would have been horrible for him. But he
reasoned. I cannot in good conscience and do nothing. He took the harder,
and the more honorable path.


SHARPTON: The ad also draws a contrast between what president did,
and what Mitt Romney might or might not have done to get bin Laden.


TEXT: Mitt Romney criticized Barack Obama for vowing to strike al
Qaeda targets inside Pakistan if necessary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not worth moving heaven and earth, spending
billions of dollars, just trying to catch one person. He was referring to
the hunt for Osama bin Laden.


SHARPTON: Right away, the Romney campaign cried foul, quote, "it`s
now sad to see the Obama campaign seek to use an event that united our
country to once again, divide us."

Let me get this straight. It was OK for Willard to attack the
president`s plan to get Osama bin Laden before that plan proved successful.
But, it`s not OK for the president to point out how wrong Willard turns out
to be.

Late today John McCain hammered president of the ad. Quote, "shame on
Barack Obama for diminishing the memory of September 11th and the killing
of Osama bin Laden by turning it into a cheap political attack add."

Let`s remember, the bin Laden mission was one just of a series of
foreign policy victories for the White House. The record also includes
ending the war in Iraq, establishing a two line - a timeline to withdraw
from Afghanistan and helping the top of the Gadhafi regime in Libya.

President praised the military role in all of that today when he
addressed 10,000 troops at Fort Stewart, Georgia.


OBAMA: You have performed heroically in some of the most dangerous
places on earth. You have done everything that has been asked of you and
more, and you have earned a special place in our nation`s history.


SHARPTON: Joining me now is Michael Eric Dyson, an MSNBC political
analyst and Georgetown University professor.

Thank you for coming on the show.


SHARPTON: Dr. Dyson, what do you think about the Romney campaign
calling this video about bin Laden divisive?

DYSON: I mean, you can`t win for losing. How ridiculous is it as you
were already bringing and pointed out. He took offense to President Obama
and his tactics and his methods, and strategies for killing Osama bin
Laden. And then now, he is attacking him for acknowledging that this deed
was done, a major act of foreign policy that was incapable, that is, the
previous administration was incapable of performing.

And so, even by Republican standards, Barack Obama has done something
extraordinary that George Bush could not do that they indicate was
necessary for them in order to be seen successfully. Now, that this
president has done so, Romney is not only arguing against Obama, he is
arguing against the moral trajectory of his own party.

SHARPTON: Well, call it as divisive, he is also arguing against some
of his own language and his own activity. Look at this recent attacks on
the president on foreign policy. Look at this.


ROMNEY: When we look around the world today, we see a muddled picture
of American`s foreign policy and our power.

Internationally, President Obama has adopted an appeasement strategy.
Appeasement portrays a lack of faith in America.

If you don`t want America to be the strongest nation on earth, I`m not
your president. You have that president today.


SHARPTON: Muddled, appeasement, not having faith in the United States
to be strong, and then when he answers, showing the strength he did
exercise, where he is showing that he is not in any way muddled, then all
of the sudden there is a cheap political attack? You can`t have it both
ways, Professor Dyson.

DYSON: You can`t, Reverend Sharpton. And you are right. Muddled?
Appeasing? I mean, this man was decisive. Her was clear, got him, stood
before the American people, indicated what had happened, was not engaging
in an extraordinary and extreme celebration of the death of Osama bin
Laden, but saw bin Laden as the person responsible for the terrorist acts
of 9/11 and acted with dispatch and presidential authority. As bill
Clinton said, he took a huge risk but he made that decision.

When George Bush said, I`m the decider, Barack Obama stepped into the
gap and said, I am the president. I am the commander in chief, made the
command decision and it turned out brilliantly. It`s sour grapes on the
part of Mitt Romney, now he is trying to make a wine from it. He keeps

SHARPTON: Well. You also have to put into the mix that 17 of his
advisors on foreign policy come from the Bush administration, and that`s
one of the things that I think we clearly have the right to graze as
voters. You have one president who is a defined foreign policy, with some
successes. You have another president who 17 of his foreign affair
advisors come from the president who failed to do some of the things you
just pointed out.

DYSON: I mean, it`s ridiculous. And look, there are those on the
left who even been critical of President Obama saying that look, you`ve
dallied too much with those on the other side, but the president came into
office saying he wanted bipartisanship. Robert Gates he kept on. He had a
strategic plan for his foreign policy, he executed it brilliantly. He did
not do what the Republican said doing an apology tour. He apologize for
American error, but he strengthened and reinforced Americans` strength in
the world without being brutal. And then he executed the plan with
brilliance. And with dispatch, they just won`t be quiet satisfied, as you
know, Reverend Sharpton, until he has put away, until Barack Obama is never
given the credit he deserves, until President Obama is not acknowledged as
what he is, a brilliant tactician in foreign policy and a man who is active
with extreme vision to secure our interest around the world.

SHARPTON: Michael Eric Dyson, thanks for your time tonight. Have a
great weekend.

DYSON: You too, my friend.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, John Boehner protects oil companies from
paying their fair share while claiming the war on women doesn`t exist.
Quite a day for the speaker.

We`re gearing up for one of the biggest events in Washington, the
night Hollywood parties with politicians. Stay with us.


SHARPTON: Today`s dose of political hypocrisy is brought to you by a
Georgian Republican Phil Gingrey. Congressman Gingrey went on a
(INAUDIBLE), this radio show to complain about the reelection group called
African-Americans for Obama.


REP. PHIL GINGREY (R), GEORGIA: They use it as a political tool to
get out the base. I think it`s sad. And to use it to try to create
divisiveness, or one race against oath. It`s not just that. It`s one
gender against another, male verses female, and I`m sick of all of that.


SHARPTON: Really, sick of this divisiveness. I wonder if Mr. Gingrey
thought it was divisive when John McCain launch the group of Hispanics for
McCain, or when George W. Bush invited supporters to join African-Americans
for Bush. Or when Bush and Chaney caught the Arab Americans back in 2000.
And I can`t help but wonder, if his wife, Billy, was trying to one gender
against another when she organized women for Gingrey back in 2007.

Congressman, you can claim President Obama is trying to divide the
country or with a record like this and rhetoric like yours, it`s pretty
clear the only one being divisive here is you.

Nice try, but we got you.


SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. Today, House Republicans
made it clear who they really care about in this country. Siding with oil
companies over everyday Americans. These priorities were revealed in a
vote to help students burdened by college loans. Instead of paying for it
by closing tax loopholes for big oil, Republicans settled on cuts to
women`s health. The bill they passed eliminates a preventative health care
program that covers hundreds of thousands of screenings for breast and
cervical health. It`s a warn women`s health. That`s obvious to everyone
but Speaker Boehner.


going to have a fight over women`s health -- give me a break.


You know, this is the latest blank in the so called war on women.
Entirely created -- entirely created by my colleagues across the aisle for
political game.


SHARPTON: No war on women, but you just voted to cut $6 billion on
services that help women, and then you have the nerve so say this.


BOEHNER: People want to politicize this because it`s an election
year, but my God, do we have to fight about everything?


SHARPTON: Fight about everything? That`s your entire agenda, and you
have been doing it literally since day one. A new book alleges that while
President Obama and his wife were dancing at the inaugural ball, republican
lawmakers were at a restaurant less than a mile away planning how to block
his policies and undermine his presidency. And boy, have you tried your
best. As a party you have threatened to shut down the government four
times, and you`re looking to do it again in the attempt to bleed more money
from food stamps. So the answer is no, we don`t have to fight over
everything, but it`s mighty hard to work with a party whose leader can`t
even say the word compromise.


LESLEY STAHL, CBS HOST, "60 MINUTES": So you did compromise?

BOEHNER: I -- we found common ground.

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

BOEHNER: I reject the word.


SHARPTON: Joining me now is Melissa Harris-Perry, host of MSNBC`s
"MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY". And E.J. Dionne, a columnist for the Washington
Post and MSNBC contributor. Thanks to both of you for your time this

Melissa, let me start with you on this vote today. Republicans siding
with big oil over women`s health, aren`t their priorities crystal clear to

like that. And look, the idea that they are continuing, in the context of
-- even as they`re trying to, you know, put forward a new violence against
women act, even though they are attempting to say, there is no war on
women, continuing to see women, and children, and poor people. Because
those are the folks most impacted by the budget decisions that they are
making and by the compromises -- the so called compromises they`re making.
The fact that the most vulnerable people are still the target rather than
those sort of with the most to give, like big oil.

SHARPTON: Now, E.J., let me ask you. When you look at Paul Ryan`s
budget, the plan that he has proposed cuts tremendously from the poor.
Sixty two percent of the cuts from programs amounting to about $3.3
trillion. He cuts from programs that include pell-grants, Medicaid, and
food stamps. And today, he went to Georgetown, a Catholic University to
defend this, I believe it was yesterday, watch this.


there are some Catholics who, for a long time, thought they had a monopoly
of sorts. Not exactly on heaven, but on the social teaching of our church.
Of course there can be differences among faithful Catholics on this.


SHARPTON: Now, the bishops had attack him. He is trying to defend
it, but no matter how he defends it, they`re cutting out trillions of
dollars from programs that poor Americans depend on.

E.J. DIONNE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right. And I should say in full
disclosure, I was one of the Georgetown professors, there were many who
signed the letter challenging Congressman Ryan`s interpretation of
Catholics social fought. And I think there is a very interesting passage
in that letter where, it`s a complicated word the church uses, subsidiary.
And the idea is that, where you can, you should try to solve problems as
close to the level of where people are as possible. And Congressman Ryan
had used that idea to say, see we really want to empty all this out of the
federal government. But the key part of the teaching is as close as

And we`ve established national programs like food stamps and Medicaid,
some of them administered through the states because they won`t work if
they`re done by a city or neighborhood, or a state. And so, his budget, to
take all of this stuff out from poor people`s programs, in order to finance
these really big tax cuts for the wealthy, it`s incomprehensible. And on
your earlier comment, I don`t know who is advising the Republicans, but why
they would want to take money out of screenings for women`s illnesses when
they already have this huge problem with women voters is just beyond me.
Just as a matter of politics, let alone is the matter of justice.

SHARPTON: And that`s the point. They already are suffering with
women voters. They are already suffering with young people. They clearly
have, when you look at the proposed tax cuts under Paul Ryan`s plan, it
completely favors the rich. Melissa, $265,011 for millionaires, $751 for
the middle class would benefit from this. No wonder Romney is trying to
pivot away from them and make himself a candidate of fairness, but he has
become their poster guy, how does he do this?

PERRY: Well, yes, I mean, I think if they just point out, this is
just bad politics, right? So, let`s take the policy, the ethics, morality,
Catholic Church teachings, social -- let`s put all of that on the side and
just ask, how do you win an election? And particularly when the Democrats
right or wrong have managed to really beautifully brand war on women, and
to be able to take all of these sets of policies that Republicans have put
forward, and say this looks like a concerted effort to actually reduce the
ability of women to gain access to legal, reasonable health care, and then
you make a choice that adds to that. And then take to the floor and say, I
can`t even believe we`re going to have a fight about this. Sure you can
believe that we`re going to have a fight about this, and Romney certainly
knows that they`re going to have a fight about it and does not going to
want to have to be the leader on a ticket of a party that is behaving this

SHARPTON: And when you look at Romney, when you look at what he
stands for, E.J., himself. Not only does he have to lead a ticket, he
supports huge tax cuts for the rich, cuts in the Department of Education,
supports ending Medicare as we know it, supports cuts to food stamps. So,
I mean, he has got his own baggage to carry as well as the baggage of his

DIONNE: No, I think that`s right, and I think the combination is
really tough. I mean, you`re seeing President Obama run a campaign, not
unlike the campaign that Bill Clinton ran when he ran for re-election, or
running against the republican Congress. But I think the one said issues
that Mitt Romney has not flipped flopped on are issues related to cutting
the size of government and cutting tax cuts. I think of it as believing in
a kind of magical capitalism where the markets going to solve or our
problems. We decided way back in the progressive era in the new deal that
the markets is going to solve all our problems and we decided way back then
that the market doesn`t solve all our problems. And we need governments to
do some things that I think a majority of Americans believe that too, and
Romney is going to have to defend that, and Obama is trying to force him

SHARPTON: Also, Melissa, you have to deal with the fact that you have
some of the most ridiculous examples of Republicans trying to block the
president`s work. Senate Republicans block the 9/11 first responder`s
bill. House Republicans demanded offset for disaster relief. Boehner
rejected President`s initial request to address Congress. Senate
Republicans filibustered the jobs bill and Senate Republicans filibustered
many of the judicial nominees. I mean, they have blocked, blocked,
blocked, blocked, blocked, and we find out now it started -- or at least
the plan started the night of the inaugural ball.

PERRY: Well, but here is how I think the strategy may be playing out
for them. And that is, I think we talked about this a couple times before.
If you don`t necessarily have better ideas, rather than trying to convince
people to choose you, you actually just reduce the number of people who
will be making a choice at all. And there`s two ways to do it, they
followed both. One is, you structurally reduce it through this voter ID
laws that actually reduced the size of the electorate. But the other thing
is, if people just feel like gosh, I don`t care who is in government,
nothing ever gets done, it`s all a big fight, I don`t believe anybody, then
you also reduce the number of people who are ever willing to pay attention
and show up. So, if they do it both in terms of structure and in terms of
strategy, I think the goal is to just shrink the electorate. Which means
that the Obama campaign on the other side, what the President is going to
need to do is to recreate that sense of enthusiasm, the belief that we can
do things collectively, and that he is the guy that lead them to do.

SHARPTON: And even if they don`t do it as a campaign, the American
public as a people need not shrink our participation in government. It`s
not right no matter who is going to vote for. Melissa Harris-Perry, E.J.
Dionne, thanks and both of you have a have a great weekend. Talking about
a great weekend. Don`t forget to catch "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY" from 10:00
a.m. to noon on Saturday and Sunday right here on MSNBC.

Up next, a year after President Obama released his long form birth
certificate, birtherism is still the rage on the right.


SHARPTON: Ahead, we are a day away from the White House
Correspondents dinner, also known as a roast. What will the President say
this year? That`s coming up.


SHARPTON: Folks, old conspiracies die hard. One year ago today,
President Obama surprised the media with an appearance in the briefing room
to release his long-form birth certificate.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: I know that there`s going to
be a segment of people for which no matter what we put out, this issue will
not be put to rest. But I`m speaking to the vast majority of the American
people and as well to the press. We do not have time for this kind of
silliness, we have better stuff to do.


SHARPTON: The White House made it available for download on their Web
site, and they even sold T-shirts and mugs with the certificate on them.
But one year later, some people apparently don`t have better stuff to do.
Like Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who recently held a press conference with
his Cold Case Posse to show results of their investigation into the
President`s online birth certificate.


JOE ARPAIO, ARIZONA SHERIFF: Upon close examination of the evidence,
we are prepared today to say that we believe probable cause exists
indicating that forgery and fraud may have been committed.


SHARPTON: And just this week, he said, he is planning another press
conference to release more evidence. But he is not the only one refusing
to hop off the bandwagon.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It goes back to what they did to those that, you
know, question the issue of his birth certificate. Look, I don`t about all
that but I would tell you this, it`s a legitimate issue.

REP. CLIFF STEARNS (R), FLORIDA: All I can tell you is that the
general consensus is that he has produced a birth certificate, the question
is, is it legitimate?

President Obama is hiding something on his citizenship.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I have a lot of doubts about that, I haven`t seen


SHARPTON: And then there is the King of all birthers, Donald Trump
who really fuel the birther fire. But he has been rather quiet lately. I
wonder if it had anything to do with something President Obama said this
time last year.


OBAMA: 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?



SHARPTON: That was a classic clip from the White House Correspondents
dinner. And coming up, we`ll see what the President has in store for this
year`s dinner, which is tomorrow night, that`s next.


SHARPTON: Tomorrow night is one of the biggest nights in D.C. The
night Hollywood parties with Washington. It`s the annual White House
Correspondents Dinner, it`s become a night for the President to have a
little fun. Take a couple good hearted shots at his detractors and those
who cover him. And in a way, this tells us something about our leaders,
sometimes their funny, sometimes their revealing, and this year will bring
out the A-Listers. George Clooney will join Defense Secretary Leon
Panetta, and the editors of Time. How about this? Kim Kardashian will be
there as a guest of FOX News, talk about made for Reality TV and it might
be the only event where you`ll see Lindsey Lohan in the same room as Harry
Reid. Jimmy Kimmel has the honor of host in the big event. He`s got a
tough job following the guy who delivered some memorable singles last year.


OBAMA: I even let down my key core constituency, movie stars, Matt
Damon said, he was disappointed in my performance. Well Matt, I just saw
The Adjustment Bureau. Right back atcha, buddy. Michele Bachmann is here
though I understand. And she is thinking about running for president,
which is weird because I hear she was born in Canada. Yes, Michele, this
is how it starts.


SHARPTON: Joining me now is Bob Franken, a King`s features syndicated
columnist, and Emily Heil, a staff writer for the Washington Post. Thank
you both for being here. Bob, how does the President top last year`s

BOB FRANKEN, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, I suspect he`s going to be
slow-jamming the speech this year. And it will be able to tell when it
starts because the Republicans will all be looking at each other and say,
what he`s doing? What`s he doing? But, you know, we`re talking about a
decidedly unhip audience here. This is Washington`s annual country come to
town dinner. And it sort of looks like the Oscars except the Oscars don`t
have as many movie stars in the audience. But President Obama certainly
will be telling jokes, the Republicans will immediately rush to the cameras
to express their disapproval, and then we`ll go to the next one.

SHARPTON: Die after party. Emily, what will be the President`s --
what material will he work with this year? What`s your guess?

EMILY HEIL, THE WASHINGTON POST: There is so much comedic fodder out
there this year, that I don`t think he will have any shortage, one thing I
was thinking of that he could use to his advantage, is just the way he did
in previous dinners talking about his birth certificate, he could trot out
the sort of off mic moment, he had where he was caught with a hot mic kind
of talking about how he`s going to have more flexibility after the
election. That seems like a perfect fodder for a great, you know, gag
where he thinks he`s off mic and he says things that he`s really thinking.
So, if I were a comedy writer, that is some material that I would go with.
But I think he will have no shortage with some of the republican candidates
out there. There seems to be a lot to be said there. He also needs to
take a few pot shots at himself too. I think that`s really something that
the President and also the MC kind of have to do just to be, you know, just
to be fair about things, you know? They have to dish it out and take it

SHARPTON: Now, I mentioned the nights can be revealing. Let`s watch
some of the more memorable skits.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: In good days and bad, in times of great confidence
or great controversy, I have actually shown up here for eight straight
years. Looking back, that was probably a mistake.

FMR. PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH (R), UNITED STATES: Those weapons of mass
destruction have got to be somewhere.

OBAMA: I`m very much looking forward to hearing Seth Meyers tonight.
He is a young, fresh face who can do no wrong in the eyes of his fans,
Seth, enjoy it while it lasts.


SHARPTON: When comedian Stephen Colbert hosted in 2006, there was a
controversy, watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I stand by this man. I stand by this man because
he stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on things. Things
like aircraft carriers, and rubble, and recently flooded city squares. And
that sends a strong message that no matter what happens to America, she
will always rebound with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world.


SHARPTON: Now, some -- that was a little over the line. What do you
expect to hear from Mr. Kimmel, Emily? Do you think he will be as
controversial or he`ll stay more within in the boundaries of what we expect
on a night like this?

HEIL: It`s so tough to know where that line is, and frankly, I think
we should grow a little bit of a thicker skin here in Washington and laugh
at these things a little bit more. But I think that the comedians who do
this gig, are very aware of that line, and have a tough time figuring out
where it is. Because honestly, a lot of really great stand up and a lot of
great comedy is really edgy. It`s offensive. And that doesn`t necessarily
play so well in this venue. So, I think they do have to be careful. I
mean, you look at someone like Wanda Sykes who made a joke about Rush
Limbaugh being a terrorist. You know, terrorists jokes maybe don`t go over
so great with these audience. And so, I think he`s going to have to know,
you know, where that line is, but frankly, I think we should all just have
some thicker skin and learn to laugh.

SHARPTON: Bob, what do you think Jimmy Kimmel is going to do?

FRANKEN: Well, I tell you what? I can tell you what he is doing
right now, he is sweating bullets. As Emily points out, Washington is not
known for a sense of humor. There`s the foddy-daddy (ph) factor. And it`s
very easy.

HEIL: Not you, Bob.

FRANKEN: Pardon? Not me, no. But there are certainly a few, Emily,
and I certainly would not include you either. But as I said, Washington is
not exactly known as a hip city, and it doesn`t have much of a sense of
humor. In Washington, people don`t like to laugh with somebody. They like
to laugh at people.


FRANKEN: So that`s going to be difficult, and as I said, I`m sure
that he is very nervous now. I have talked to some of the performers after
them who have gone to the after parties and they`ve all said that they were
happy just to survive the event.

SHARPTON: Well, here is Kimmel joking about politics on his show.


JIMMY KIMMEL, STAND-UP COMEDIAN: According to a new ABC Washington
Post poll, both Michelle Obama and Ann Romney are more popular than their
husbands. Although at this point as -- more popular than their husbands.
But well, only 56 percent of Americans have a positive view of the
President, 69 percent have a favorable view of Mrs. Obama. Do you think
they use these polls when they have a fight.

Well, excuse me, the last time I checked, 69 percent of everyone were
on my side, think about that while you go sleep on the couch.



SHARPTON: Do you think he`s going to be even? Do you think he`s
going to hit both sides in a bipartisan night?

FRANKEN: Well, I think it will be one of the first examples of
bipartisanships we`ve seen in a long time.

SHARPTON: Yes, Emily?

HEIL: There will be people counting though, everyone is going to be
either, they`ll have their -- out to see, you know, how many jokes does he
makes on one side and how many jokes does he make on the other side of the
aisle. So, that`s a key thing I think for comedians to keep in mind is
that you really do have to take equal shots on both sides here.

SHARPTON: Well, it`s going to be an interesting night, it always is,
Bob and Emily, great segment, thanks for coming on the show tonight, see
you both tomorrow, and tune in tomorrow night for full coverage of the
White House Correspondents Dinner. It starts here, 10 p.m. Eastern Time
right here on MSNBC.

Thanks for watching, I`m Al Sharpton, have a great weekend.
"HARDBALL" starts right now.


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