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PoliticsNation, Monday, April 30, 2012

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Guests: Nia-Malika Henderson; Benjy Sarlin; Steve Clemens; Ted Strickland, Dana Milbank, Erin McPike, Robert Draper

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

Tonight`s lead, the GOP`s winner takes all mentality. From the
winning, Willard Mitt Romney has had trouble seconding with average
Americans, but Speaker Boehner says that`s really not a problem.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: American people don`t
want to vote for a loser. They don`t want to vote for someone that has not
been successful. I think Mitt Romney has an opportunity to show the
American people they too can succeed.


SHARPTON: The American people don`t want to vote for a loser. Think
about that for a second. If he is saying someone -- if they don`t have
money, they`re a loser. You`re a winner if you`re able to spit out lines
like this?


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I like being able to fire
people that provide services to me.

Corporations are people, my friend. We can race taxes at - of course
they are.

So, I drive a mustang, and a Chevy pickup truck. Ann drives a couple
Cadillacs, actually.

Rick, I tell you what, $10,000? $10,000 bet?


SHARPTON: According to the GOP, that`s winning. I want to be very
clear. I don`t have a problem with people who are successful. That`s part
of the American dream, part of what the country is all about.

But, I do have a problem with the Republican party that believe those
at the top should keep winning while everyone else is in John Boehner`s
word, a loser.

Today`s Republican party has completely bought into the Ryan budget
plan. A plan that literally pays for tax breaks for the wealthy by cutting
low income programs like Medicaid, and Pell grants, and food stamps. This
is a party that voted repeatedly against putting the middle class back to
work simply because they don`t want to raise taxes on one percent. is that
mentally, that out president has consistently pushed back against. And he
did it again today before a union group.


that would have put hundreds and thousands of construction workers back to
work, repairing our world, our bridges, schools, transit systems. Along
with saving the jobs of jobs, teachers, and firefighters, creating a new
tax cut for businesses, they said no. I went to the speaker`s hometown,
stood under a bridge that was crumbling. Everyone acknowledges that it
needs to be rebuilt.

Maybe he doesn`t drive anymore, maybe he doesn`t notice how messed up
it was. He still said no. But, we can`t afford to just wait for congress,
you can`t afford to wait. So where Congress won`t act, I will.


SHARPTON: Helping Americans, all American, in a fair way. That`s
what President Obama will base his campaign.


OBAMA: I believe this country succeeds when every gets a shot, and
every plays by the same rules.


SHARPTON: When everyone plays by the same rules, this country
succeeds, and everyone becomes a winner.

Joining me now is former governor Ohio Ted Strickland. He is now a
co-chair of the Obama reelection campaign. And Nia-Malika Henderson,
political reporter for "the Washington Post."

Thanks both of you for coming on the show tonight.

Let me start with you, governor, what do you make of Speaker Boehner`s
loser comments?

CAMPAIGN: Well, it shows out of touch he is. Mitt Romney is out of touch.
Speaker Boehner is out of touch, Mitch McConnell is out of touch. These
people simply do not understand what the life is like for the average
American. They live in a different world. They live in a bubble.

All of their needs are met. They don`t worry about their families
getting health care. They don`t worry about paying their mortgages. They
don`t worry about being able to have a decent car to drive.

They have simply so lost touch with the average person who is out
there today struggling, trying to make it today in these difficult economy.
They don`t represent the American people. I really don`t think Speaker
Boehner respects very many Ohioans quite frankly. Because Ohioans are
pretty common sense, middle of the road folks. And they understand when
someone is on their side. And President Obama is on our side, and I think
the people are coming to understand that increasingly as they learn more
and hear more from people like Speaker Boehner and Mitch McConnell and Mitt
Romney, quite frankly.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you Nia-Malika. When you hear the rhetoric of
Americans won`t vote for a loser framed around the wealth question of Mr.
Romney, and now Romney is how he addresses the question of poor people --
let me play you some sound on what governor Romney said about poor people.


ROMNEY: I`m in this race because I care about Americans. I`m not
concerns about the very poor. We have a safety net there.

We`re seeing a greater gap between those that have the most and those
with the least. The president`s focus I`m taking away from those that have
the least. I want to help everybody, particularly those that left - being
behind. I want to help the poor.


SHARPTON: Now. He wants to help the poor, but he wasn`t concerned
about the poor a little earlier in the campaign when he was in the
primaries. He is concerned about those left behind, yet he has embraced
the Ryan plan that cuts all of these programs and he has the speaker
sitting and talking about he is not a loser because of his wealth.

How do you support cutting Pell grants and food stamps, but you`re
concerned about the poor? Is this just politics that they haven`t got
their script together because Boehner seems to be off the same page with
him right now?

clearly, it`s politics. I mean, this is a season that we`re in, and so
like Romney is trying to pivot to the general election. And you saw some
of this on -- last week when he was speaking out for those wins he had last
week, those five states win, where he tried to sound a little bit more like
a kinder, gentler Mitt Romney, more moderate.

He very well knows that when it comes to closing this gap of he has
among women; that women actually want to hear about the social safety net.
They have grave concerns about the poor, paying their bills, so I think
that is certainly what`s going on here.

But, I do think at some point, you will see more of an on message John
Boehner. Last week, of course, he said that he had not really been talking
to Mitt Romney and Mitt Romney`s campaign. But at some point, they are
going to have more consistent and consolidated message so that they can
appear to be a united front against this president.

SHARPTON: Now. Governor, when you look at the Ryan plan that has
been endorsed by Mr. Romney. It not only slashes programs for the poor,
but it actually raises taxes on poor people. And it gives a huge tax break
to the rich.

Looking at that plan, those making less than $10,000, $112 a year,
those making more than a million you see a $265,000 tax break. So, we`re
not only just talk on politics, we are talking about policy, that if it
became in fact what we do, that would dramatically impact the people he is
now trying to say he is concerned about.

STRICKLAND: Well, Reverend Al, there is an inconsistency with what he
is saying and what he is proposing in terms of supporting the Ryan budget.
The Ryan budget would cut Pell grants as you noted. President Obama has
doubled investments in Pell grants to help students go to college.

The Ryan budget would cut Medicare severely. President Obama is
committed to keeping this social safety net that provide health care of our
children, takes care of disabled Americans and helps our senior citizens
who are in need of nursing home care.

I mean, there is a world of difference between President Obama and
Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney represents, truly, the one percent. And I
believe the president represents the rest of us who are regular people. We
don`t have great wealth, but we`re hard working. We play by the rules.
We, you know, we try to do what`s right for our communities.

SHARPTON: But governor we`re losers, the problem is we`re losers, and
they want people to forget how far we have come. You`re part of the Obama
campaign ad that just came out, really trying to remind people how far we
came back in the economy to where -- let me show you the ad and let`s talk
about it.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the day Barack Obama took office, America had
already lost 4.4 million jobs, an economic disaster; the worse in a
generation. Some said America`s best days were behind us. Like America,
he dug deep, fought back, and every lost faith in our possibility to meet
the challenge. But, instead of working together to lift America up,
Republicans were waging a campaign to tear the president down.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Republicans are getting a rap as the party of


SHARPTON: Governor, how important is it for the president`s campaign
to remind people how bad it was, how it was the worst we had seen in
generations, and how people get the best days of America were behind us,
and he was able to slowly turn that around? How important is it to remind
people of that for this election?

STRICKLAND: Well, it is hugely important. Seven hundred and fifty
thousand jobs were lost the very month that President Obama was sworn into
office. I mean, he came into office in the most difficult circumstances
facing any president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. And he kept the
country from sliding into a deep depression.

He passed a stimulus bill. He reformed Wall Street. He gave us a
health insurance bill that requires the insurance companies to no longer
deny care to pre-existing conditions the children may have. He cut the
payroll tax for 160 million Americans. He killed Osama bin Laden. He
ended the war in Iraq.

I mean, the president has done so much, but there`s so much more that
needs to be done, that`s why he deserves a second term. And these
naysayers that came along. By the way, Reverend Al, he also saved the auto
industry in for Ohio and many other states, that`s so hugely important. We
believe a million jobs were saved.

SHARPTON: That would be the same industry that Willard said let it go
bankrupt, you wouldn`t be referring to the same industry -- but let me go
back to Nia in a minute.

Nia-Malika, the president kicks off his reelection this weekend. With
the first lady, where are they going?

HENDERSON: Well, they are going in Ohio and Virginia, two key states
that aren`t necessarily must win, but they certainly want to keep in the
Democratic column. Virginia a state where Governor McDonald is there and
had issues around women`s issues again. So, we will see them kicked off.
And of course, they had this campaign ad that came out today where they
have a new slogan which is called forward.

They, of course, realize that national campaigns are often about the
future, referendum on the future, and they`re hoping to tie Mitt Romney to
the past and have cast him at a figure from the 1950s in some ways.

So this will be the official kick off coming up this weekend, and
certainly of a president - of Michelle Obama speaks to her power on the
stamp, she is widely regarded as a very popular first lady, her ratings
higher than this president. So, it will be interesting to see of this
kicked off this weekend.

SHARPTON: Former governor, Ted Strickland and Nia-Malika Henderson.
Thank you both for your time tonight.

STRICKLAND: Thank you, Reverend Al.

HENDERSON: Thank you, Rev.

SHARPTON: Ahead, we will talk about the GOP`s secret plan to take
down the Obama presidency, it started on day one. The author who cracked
the story joins us live.

Plus, the president touts, one of his crowning achievements, the bin
Laden raid, and now Republicans are calling foul. We will show you why it
at him, its hypocrisy at its finest.

And look out. Bill Clinton steps to the plate for president Obama.
We`ll tell you why it should have Republicans worried.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.


SHARPTON: It`s been one year since President Obama made perhaps his
gutsiest call. He sent a Navy SEAL team to kill Osama bin Laden. And now,
Mitt Romney thinks anyone would have made the same decision. Really? I
have a tape, that`s next.


SHARPTON: Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of the raid that
killed Osama bin Laden. It was a night never to be forgotten. All across
America, people reacted to the death of the world`s biggest terrorist, the
mastermind of 9/11. Even Republicans, everyone from Mitt Romney to Donald
Trump acknowledged President Obama`s role in the mission`s success.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This clearly shows that the president and his
team did a superb job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It takes a lot of courage to make a decision. I
admire his --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It took real courage to assume the many risks
associated with putting boots on the ground. And I strongly commend the
president for it.


SHARPTON: But, it didn`t take long for the honeymoon to end.
Republican went from congratulating the president to saying it was
President Bush that deserved the credit, to attacking the president for
quote, "spiking the football." Only days before bin Laden was killed,
Romney shared his own national security strategy, quote, "it`s not worth
moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch
one person." Well, today, he apparently feels differently.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Governor, would you have gone after bin

ROMNEY: Of course.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: You would have given the order, Governor?

ROMNEY: Of course. Even Jimmy Carter would have given that order.


SHARPTON: Really, is it that easy? I wonder what the president would
have to say about that.


OBAMA: I just recommend that everybody take a look at people`s
previous statements in terms of whether they thought it was appropriate to
go in Pakistan and take out bin Laden. I assume that people meant what
they said when they said it. That`s been at least my practice. I said
they would go after bin Laden if we had a clear shot at him, and I did.


SHARPTON: The GOP loves to diminish the president`s national security
record, but are they fighting a losing battle?

Joining me now is Benjy Sarlin, political reporter for "Talking Points
Memo" who has been following this story very closely in his column
"TPM2012," and Steve Clemens, Washington editor at large of "the Atlantic"
and senior fellow at the New America Foundation.

Thank you both for being here tonight.

STEVE CLEMONS, THE ATLANTIC: Good to be with you.

SHARPTON: Steve, let me start with you. Mitt Romney says anyone
would do it. Isn`t he drastically over simplifying this? This wasn`t like
do it or not do it. There was a lot of different strategies, planning,
things, at risk. This wasn`t a hit the button, not hit the button kind of

CLEMONS: I mean. I make to be quite to all of the commentators
involved. There were many people around President Obama in this White
House who opposed proceeding. And so, Mitt Romney`s view would have been
one of those that were sitting around the president, and the president as
commander and chief made a very gutsy call to go in.

And I also think something that has not really been talked about in
media much, is that the Bush Cheney administration kept talking about al
Qaeda, kept talking about bin Laden, but they essentially were at war with
other foes. And they used al Qaeda and bin Laden as way, as a threat to
hang out there when they needed to pump up the budget or when they try to
justify other things that were quite distant from the bin Laden threaten.
Truth be told, they diminish the resources and squeeze the resources down
and kind a closed down the hunt for the most part for bin Laden except for
a very small activity.

President Obama came in and made it one of his priorities. And I
think it`s not just killing bin Laden, it`s that but Obama reversed the
budgetary flow to catching and killing him and realized there was no way to
get out for the United States out of Afghanistan without getting bin Laden.

SHARPTON: But, let me push a little on that. Because, the fact that
you say, and rightfully so, there was some even in the president`s own
administration that was not sure or was opposed to the attack really is
what I`m addressing when Mitt Romney says today, any president, even Jimmy
Carter would do it.

Well, everyone even with this president wasn`t for it. So it`s really
to oversimplify what happened to act like this was an easy call. It was
not even a unanimous call in the Obama administration.

CLEMONS: It`s absolutely right. I think that it`s sloppy for Mitt
Romney to call this an easy call. Presidents sitting behind the oval
office desk are faced with complex challenges every day, and there are not
silver bullets to solve many of these problems. And so, when the president
went in, and he put boots on the ground and went into sovereign Pakistan
air space, and did something enormously controversial, had this failed, I
agree with Joe Biden that his presidency probably would have been over.

SHARPTON: Now, hold it right there because Benjy, I want to come to
you because I have been watching what you have been writing about all day,
the politics of it. If it had failed, he would have had a tremendous
problem if he could have recovered at all. The politics of this is that it
didn`t fail. Is that why the Republicans are trying to diminish the
importance of this? Give us the politics of this.

BENJY SARLIN, TALKING POINTS MEMO: Well, the politics of this is that
is completely scrambles the whole kind of national security politics we
always had. We are used to having a similar debate. But with Republicans
bullying Democrats on the saying Democrats won`t protect you against Osama
bin Laden, only we can. That was an important part of the President Bush`s
2004 strategy. McCain tried to some degree try to use it.

But now that is being used on the other side, this just throws
everything is haywire. So, they`re moving very quickly, the strongest
message from the Republicans right now seems to be - well, we really
shouldn`t be allowed to talk about this.

I mean, you know, it somehow diminishes the whole conversation to even
bring up this bin Laden thing for more than a minute. Congressman Peter
King today from New York, for example, said it`s something that should get
a passing mention in Obama`s campaign material and that`s it. You know, as
if there`s like a one minute rule that`s only now exists, that there`s a
democratic in charge. So the big thing seems to be saying, OK, this is
just an out of bounds topic.

SHARPTON: But, Steve. Haven`t we heard the Republicans, they clearly
talked about the war. I mean, this is not something that we have not seen
Republicans do, including some of the Republicans talking and criticizing
President Obama.

CLEMONS: Yes, I think they`re pondering around it looking for a way
to restore what they used to have. Its people used to trust the country
more with from Republicans in times of crisis than they did Democrats. And
what Barack Obama has done is stole that mantle from them.

I mean, I was joking around with someone, I was at White House
Correspondents` Dinner the other evening, I wonder what terrorist will go
down the next morning. Because when the president, you know, gives these
big speeches as he did a year ago, the next morning he did when he - his
state of the union address, the Navy SEAL team six went in after the
pirates and, you know, and succeeded there.

So, this is a national security team around the president that has
worked very hard to create both a decision making and a power deployment
machine that has been highly effective. And I think he has robbed from the
Republicans their ability to challenge him on really any national security

SHARPTON: And that becomes the real problem, Benjy, when you look at
the fact that they have always been able -- the Republicans, to use
national security, used the fact that they were tough in terms of foreign
policy, and now you got even "New York times" saying is he a hawk president
- I mean, how do you run against a Democratic president hold democratic
liberal who has a stronger military record in terms of being effective,
than the guys that he is running against.

SARLIN: Well, one thing you can do is just pretend that record
doesn`t exist. And this has been Romney`s big thing from the start. He
put out a book called "no apology" which basically was implicitly this idea
that Obama is this weak president, who is going around apologizing for
America, who leads from behind, and he never really adjusted that message
even after Libya, after bin Laden, after all of these examples of the
president really being pretty - having a pretty robust national security
strategy. He is pretty much stock to the same message.

Now, he is bullying him on a rand is the idea. He is too weak on the
rand. The Obama administration where respond. Well, they are in a lot of
difference in what Mitt Romney`s outlined to do about the situation, but he
still thinks there`s an opportunity to be that indicated Obama is somehow
still weak.

SHARPTON: Well, you are going to tell me which Mitt Romney before the
flip or after the flop.

But before we go, let me ask you, Steve, a year later is tomorrow`s
anniversary, where are we without al Qaeda? Where is al Qaeda now in terms
of strength and stand?

CLEMONS: Well, that`s another message the Republican had been saying
that makes no sense. That a lot of people saying al Qaeda is still out
there, of course it is. There have been groups that have been inspired in
Yemen, in Somalia and deeper Africa.

But, the bottom line is that the raid, not only killed bin Laden, it
took an enormous treasure-trove of intelligence. And for those who have
been paying attention over the last year, the department of defense and the
CIA have essentially rolled up the key lieutenants, the terror or masters,
the plotters, the - all of the folk that`s have been essentially the master
minds of al Qaeda`s core chair unit, and they used this intelligence to
basically obliterate what was al Qaeda. And I think they have done it very
effectively. When it happened the night after, in fact, on MSNBC, I said
if we didn`t see in six month that`s network rolled up. Then, even though
we killed bin Laden, it would be completely in effective and it would have
shown a weakness of the Obama administration. The real strength has been
taking up that intelligence and rolling up that network.

SHARPTON: Steve Clemons and Benjy Sarlin. Thanks to both of you for
your time.

CLEMONS: Thank you.

SARLIN: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, while the new president was celebrating his
inauguration, Republicans were literally plotting his defeat. We go in the
secret plan with the man who broke the story.

And joining forces, why Bill Clinton`s campaign for president Obama
should have Republicans feeling the heat. Stay with us.


SHARPTON: We`re back with tonight`s edition of why Willard Romney is
funny for all the wrong reasons. On October 19th, 2008, he wrote this now
infamous article in the "New York Times," let Detroit go bankrupt, it`s
pretty straight forward, let Detroit go bankrupt. Nearly four years later,
we know the story. President Obama bails Detroit out, the loan is paid
back in full and Detroit`s moves ahead, make a record profits with and one-
and-a-half million jobs saved. So, here is the hilarious part. The
hilarious Willard part I should say. In February right before the Michigan
primary, back when the trees were the right height, he wrote in a Detroit
news Op-Ed that without President Obama`s intervention, things there would
be better. If you thought that was funny, now he wants to take credit for
the auto bailout success. I`m serious, here is his top campaign advisor
over the weekend.


out was exactly what President Obama followed. I know it infuriates them
to hear that. The only economic success that President Obama has had is
because he followed Mitt Romney`s advice.


SHARPTON: The President followed Mitt Romney`s advice. How is
letting Detroit go bankrupt the same as not letting Detroit go bankrupt.
In November, here is what Willard said.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My view with regards to the
bailout was that whether by President Bush or by President Obama, it was
the wrong way to go.


SHARPTON: The wrong way to go? Yet, now his position on the bail-out
if exactly it was when President Obama followed it. Do you think we
wouldn`t catch the lemon you`re trying to sell us? Nice try Willard, but
we got you.


SHARPTON: We`re back on POLITICS NATION with the alliance that has
Republicans running for cover. Here comes President Clinton. He is
teaming up with President Obama stomping together for the first time. And
there he is out there. He is out there in a powerful ad praising the Bin
Laden raid.


FMR. PRES. BILL CLINTON (D), UNITED STATES: He took the harder, and
the more honorable path. And the one that produced, in my opinion, the
best result. You hire the President to make the calls when no one else can
do it.


SHARPTON: At the fundraiser last night, President Clinton stood
beside President Obama telling the crowd quote, "When you become President,
your job is to explain where we are, say where you think we should go, have
a strategy to get there, and execute it. By that standard, Barack Obama
deserves to be reelected President of the United States."


That scream I just heard is coming from the RNC headquarters, why?
Because the Washington Post reports Bill Clinton is quote, "The best
surrogate in the country and can be very effective and remain popular with
the broad range of voters who will the key swing groups come November."

Joining me now is Dana Milbank, political columnist for The Washington
Post. And Erin McPike, national reporter for Real Clear Politics. Thank
you both for being here tonight.


SHARPTON: Dana, let me start with you, how does President Clinton
change the game in this season?

MILBANK: Well, look, I mean, nobody is surprised that President
Clinton is behind President Obama`s reelection effort. But first of all,
he is a terrific campaigner and can be a surrogate for him around the
country raising great gobs of money. If somebody can do that as well as
Obama is, it`s Clinton. And also, rallying the democratic base and
appealing to those sorts of Middle America voters that Barack Obama has
traditionally had trouble with. So, last time around, yes, he came out
there and campaigned for Obama, but it was always a question of, is it for
us? Is there really still this swift here. Now that Hillary Clinton is
the Secretary of State, this can boost her 2016 prospects and you`re going
to see Bill Clinton much more visible in this cycle.

SHARPTON: But isn`t it also Erin that this is the President, I`m
talking about Clinton now, who was the president of triangulation, the
democrat that kind of moved the party to the center. That many of us
didn`t agree with, but he did that so he helps President Obama with a lot
of independents and a lot of centralist voters in the country?

ERIN MCPIKE, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Oh, sure. He helps with both the
base and with the center. And the reason that he helps with the center in
part is on the economy. He is a good foil to Mitt Romney, he was of course
very strong on the economy. And President Obama is going to have a tough
time on that issue against Mitt Romney. Polling shows that in many cases,
voters trust Mitt Romney on the economy more. So as a foil to Mitt Romney,
he is helpful. In the `90s, when he was president, he balanced the budget
and he created a surplus. So, President Clinton and President Obama of
course book-ended the Bush administration, and that is what the Obama
campaign wants to remind voters about. The Bush administration and the
problems with the economy then. And they want to say look, we had a very
productive time under President Clinton and President Obama is trying to
bring the country back to that.

SHARPTON: Now, Dana. When you look at the fact that President
Clinton even over a decade after leaving office, still has high
favorability, 67 percent. When you look at nine swing states, Nevada,
Pennsylvania, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin, in six of them, President
Clinton could be very effective in helping President Obama.

MILBANK: Yes, I think that`s right. I mean, you see this to some
extent with almost all former presidents even Bush to some extent, their
popularity swells, Clinton though has swelled more than most. Because he
has had such a successful ex-presidency with the Clinton global and issues.
And other things that he has been doing, and also because of Hillary
Clinton. So he has more clout than you would expect from your average
surrogate or even from your average former presidents. And there`s also,
Barack Obama does not have as good of a story to tell as he did last time
just because of the way the economy is working now. But in this area, he
really does. Clinton was the guy calling Obama a fairy tale last time
around, and now this fairy tale is for Clinton has a happy ending. You
know, the frog has turned into a handsome prince. And that at least is a
good story for Obama to be telling at a time when the economy is not
presenting such a good story.

SHARPTON: But maybe that going from the handsome prince, Erin, is why
Dana suddenly dropped in, some people are talking about Hillary for 2016.
She also had high favorability 65 percent and in a recent interview with
Luke Russert, President Clinton did say, the door is totally closed on his
wife running. Watch this.


CLINTON: She told you and everyone else that she thinks she`ll
probably never run for office again. But I have been here, I know what
happens when you go through this decompression after years of relentless
high pressure activity, and I just think she needs to rest up, do some
things she cares about, and whatever she decides to do, I`ll support her.


SHARPTON: Not exactly she`s not going to run, it`s over, Erin.

MCPIKE: No, and we`ve been talking about this for the past couple of
weeks. Her popularity is soaring. She of course cannot campaign for
President Obama this election cycle because she is Secretary of State. So,
in other words, President Clinton by campaigning for Obama is sort of
keeping her seat warm and reminding people about her as a political animal.
So, you know, I do think this has a lot to do with Hillary. He is keeping
good will in the party for her right now.

SHARPTON: Now, Dana. When you hear what President Clinton said last
night, whether it`s a plan later or not, he really went after Mitt Romney.
I mean, he`s really all in. He said last night about Romney, "He`s got an
opponent who basically wants to do what they did before on steroids, which
will get you the same consequences you got before, on steroids." So, if he
and President Obama the bookends of the Bush years, if you got both ends
talking about this, what we got in the middle of our presidencies, what
we`re going to with steroids, that`s pretty effective to a lot of voters.

MILBANK: Yes, I think that`s right, and you got to remember President
Clinton`s assets in terms of being a political strategist. It`s no
accident that he has been advising Obama campaign, don`t worry so much
about the Romney flip-flopping. Go after him as this extreme sort of
conservative. That`s exactly what they`ve been doing. Exactly. And
that`s how they bookend it. They say, look, here are two sensible
centralist presidents. In the middle of that with some radical
conservative experiment that we don`t want to go back to. So, that`s they
can hit him from both sides.

SHARPTON: Dana Milbank and Erin McPike. And Erin, I don`t know if
you can see Dana with that bow tie, but he actually has the nerve to call
me flamboyant after your time tonight.

MILBANK: I`m trying to keep up with you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Ahead, as President Obama was celebrating his first night
in office, Republicans were a mile away. Plotting revenge. We go inside
the secret plan to take down the Obama presidency. And 20 years after the
L.A. riot, how the Rodney King beating changed the country, and why peace
is always, always the best form of protest.


SHARPTON: We thought existed, now we know. Inside the secret GOP
plan to take down Obama that started on night one. The man who wrote the
book who got the story joins us live.


SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. Tonight, we have the
author who broke the inside story of the republican plan to take down the
Obama presidency. Robert Draper`s new book, "Do Not Ask What Good We Do."
Inside the U.S. House of Representatives, includes a shocking behind the
scenes look at republican secret meeting on inauguration night. Mr. Draper
discovered the guest list for the invitation only meeting, it was so
exclusive, this soon to be House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority
Leader Mitch McConnell weren`t even invited. And the book gives a stunning
detail on the plan of attack including united and unyielding opposition
to the President`s economic policies. Attacking vulnerable Democrats on
the air waves, and quote, "Win the spear point of the House in 2010," then
jab Obama relentlessly in 2011. And they`ve been sticking to the plan
since day one. Blocking the President at every turn.

Joining me now Robert Draper, author of, "Do Not Ask What Good We do,"
it`s great to have you with us tonight.

having me, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Now, the book begins with this secret GOP meeting at an
exclusive D.C. restaurant. One writing described it as something out of
the Godfather, how did this meeting come about?

DRAPER: Well, I know, it does sounds like something actually out of
the X-files where a couple of white men sort of meet in a secret place to
figure out the affairs of the word, but it actually was organized by the
republican pollster Frank Luntz. And it was really meant to be more of a
drown your sorrows kind of event. Anything else. A lot of the Republicans
who once invited had been at the inauguration and were really shell-shocked
by just the spectacle of the 1.8 million people out on the mall. So, they
got together the caucus of the -- which is the well known Washington stake
-- to just sort of a, you know, cry on each other`s shoulders. But after
talking for a while about what went wrong and sort of what to do, just the
sort of dealing with the visceral shock of what was now taking place. But
again, they talked about how to dig themselves out of a hole. And as you
were eluding to, they formulated a plan of Newt Gingrich, former speaker
was the guy who did a lot of the talking up front. But then.

SHARPTON: No, wait a minute. So after crying in their soup, they
started literally laying out a plan, that night, this is the night of the
inauguration, and Newt Gingrich was a key player in the meeting?

DRAPER: Yes, in fact, Gingrich had, Frank Luntz asked Gingrich to
speak first. Because Gingrich after all had led the Republicans out of the
wilderness, out of a much deeper hole in 1994 than they faced now. And so,
they thought it would be inspirational to have Gingrich do some of the
talking, and indeed, he sort of harked back to, you know, where the
Republicans had been in the `80s and early `90s before they orchestrated
their come back.

SHARPTON: Now, we`re going to put up on the screen list of the GOP
leaders who were at the meeting, but John Boehner and Mitch McConnell were
noticeably absent. Where were they?

DRAPER: Well, they were not invited and the reason they weren`t
invited was that Frank Luntz didn`t get along with Speaker Boehner. It`s
not clear to me exactly why McConnell wasn`t invited. Though I know that
what Luntz put a premium on in terms of the invitations were those who were
not necessarily, you know, old hams on Capitol Hill, but guys who were
strategic thinkers, guys who got messaging. That`s why like for example,
Kevin McCarthy, who at that point would served only one term in Congress
was there. And that`s why John Kyle, the senator from Arizona was there,
because Luntz valued him as a strategic thinker, the guy who understood

SHARPTON: Now, the strategy did work in part. Because the
Republicans won the House in 2010. Eighty seven new Republicans mostly
with Tea Party support and that`s when things started to fall apart for
Speaker Boehner, what was your take on that?

DRAPER: Well, you know, the first part of the plan worked perfectly,
and that part was to have a unified line of attack, unified opposition
against this new president. And indeed on the stimulus, for example,
Republicans unanimously voted no on that. The difference, Reverend
Sharpton, is it`s a lot easier to unify when you`re in the minority than it
is when you`re in charge. And what Boehner found out when he became
speaker, thanks in large part due to the Tea Party movement that ushered
these 87 freshmen was, a lot of these guys were very willful and they
were not interested in governing so much as rolling back the Obama
administration`s initiatives. And, you know, the reality is that it`s a
divided government. You`ve got a democratic controlled Senate, and Boehner
was cognizant of that, cognizant of that but the republican freshmen were
not all together impressed with that reality.

SHARPTON: Now, you talk about Gingrich and how be brought the party
back before, but what about this intense resentment of President Obama. It
seems to me that there is unparalleled resentment of President Obama. Have
you witnessed this, and where is this coming from? Why is this?

DRAPER: Sure. Well, of course, you know, you have been around long
enough as abide to recall, you know, the duration in terms of Slick Willy
and draft dodger and stuff and greeted President Clinton. But I do agree
with you that I think, there is a dimension, there is an extra depth of
contempt for this President that is really off the charts. And it`s -- I
interviewed a lot of Tea Party freshmen, spent a lot of time with them, and
I didn`t detect any kind of racial animus in any of them. However they
were after in on a movement, a Tea Party movement that does I think have a
certain, you know, there is a racial component to the depth of contempt
that they feel for this president. I don`t think again that that has
manifested in any of the legislative and issues that have come out of the
Republican Party, but I do think that the movement that keeps a watchful
eye over what the Republicans are doing does have that element.

SHARPTON: Robert Draper. Congratulations on the book, and thanks for
joining us tonight. "Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of

Ahead, 20 years after the L.A. riot, how it changed the country and
reminded me peaceful protest is always the answer. That`s next.


SHARPTON: Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of the start of the
Los Angeles riots. It began after four Los Angeles police officers who
were caught on tape brutally beating motorist Rodney King were found not
guilty on numerous charges. Within hours of the verdict, parts of Los
Angeles were on fire. The riots would become the worst in U.S. history, at
least 53 people died, billions of dollars were lost, as businesses all over
the city were -- all burned to the ground. The violence got so out of hand
that King himself made an emotional plea for peace.


RODNEY KING, POLICE BRUTALITY VICTIM: I just want to say, you know,
can we all get along? Can we get along? Can we stop making it horrible
for older people and the kids.


SHARPTON: Looking back on these events, it`s a reminder that peaceful
protest is always the answer. Yes, I was angry in `92, I`m angry now, but
I`m angry enough to seek justice, not make injustice works. Something I
have always promoted over the years, and spoke about yesterday while
marking the anniversary in Los Angeles.


SHARPTON: Violence is not an option in fighting violence. And to
protest a beating, with killing 55 people, is to continue the violence
rather than answer the violence.


SHARPTON: As I stood at the pulpit at first, with Reverend Hunter
(ph) and we talked about 20 years ago, it is important for us to understand
Gandhi said it best, we must become the change we want. We cannot be what
we`re claiming to fight. And I`ve learned, even your words cannot be
misconstrued and send the wrong signals. It`s not enough to just be for
not violence. You must say your word in conducts. Stand for non-violence.
Because at the end, we want to improve society, not just take sides and
raise the level of acrimony.

Thanks for watching tonight, I`m Al Sharpton, "HARDBALL" starts now.


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