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PoliticsNation, Thursday, May 3, 2012

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Guests: Steve Kornacki, Erin McPike; Frank Schaeffer, Wesley Clark, David Corn, Charles
Broward, Ken Padowitz

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

Tonight`s lead, hay Republicans, you can try, but you can`t take it
back. Today, Michele Bachmann threw her support behind Willard Mitt
Romney. They were the model of party unit union united front. Let`s
listen to what she sad to say.


know what`s the truth. They`re interested chameleon. They are interested
in who is the true consistent core conservative.

In Mitt Romney`s case, he is the only governor in the United States
history to put into place socialized medicine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To Mitt Romney, can he beat Obama?

BACHMANN: No. He can`t beat Obama. He can`t have a candidate who
has given the blueprint for Obama care. It`s too identical. It is not
going to happen.


SHARPTON: I`m sorry. We must have cued the wrong tape. This was
what I meant to play. This was Michele Bachmann today.


BACHMANN: I am honored to be able to be here to lend my voice and my
endorsement to Mitt Romney has our president, to take the country back.

That something to get excited about, it`s why we must elect Mitt
Romney has the next president of the United States.

you. Thank you.


SHARPTON: Thanks congresswoman. It only took 119 days to come out
and support. But who is counting?

Tomorrow Romney will head to Pennsylvania to try to get the
endorsement of Rick Santorum, and the crucial sweater vest block. Yes,
more manufacturing GOP unity, togetherness, peace. I wonder if his
endorsement speech will sound anything like this.


Romney was around at the time we were drafting the constitution, he would
have taken it up.

Romney said was just factually incorrect.

SANTORUM: Well, if his record was so great as governor of
Massachusetts, why didn`t he run for reelection?

Mitt is someone who has - who doesn`t have a coy. He has been on both
sides of almost every single issue in the past ten years.


SHARPTON: I hope that Rick finds a way to burn this campaign add
after he ran this during the primaries. You remember this one? It
featured a gun wielding Romney look alike.

Folks, this is a pattern. Yesterday Newt Gingrich was the Republican
grudgingly falling into line throwing his support behind Willard, the same
Newt Gingrich who inspired this Obama campaign ad.


GINGRICH: As a man who wants to run for president of the United
States that can`t be honest with the American people. Why should we expect
him to level about anything if he is president?

I don`t any president that had a Swiss bank account. I will be glad
for you to explain us sort of thing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE ANCHOR: Are you calling Mitt Romney a liar?



SHARPTON: They`re trying to pretend everything is great, party unity,
one voice. But make no mistake, folks, this is a deeply fractured party.
And no matter how many photo ops they do, no matter how much they might be
smiling now, this is what Michele and the rest of the gang really think.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To Mitt Romney, can he beat Obama?

BACHMANN: No. He can`t beat Obama.


SHARPTON: Joining me now is Erin McPike, reporter for Real Clear
Politics and Steve Kornacki, political writer for and MSNBC

Thank you both for being here.


SHARPTON: Steve, let me start with you. Every primary battle is
bruising, but this one seems especially brutal. Does anyone believe these
endorse wants are heartfelt?

KORNACKI: No, I think you have two things here sort of going on here.
One is sort of, you know, what Romney represents to the conservative base
right now is a guy that they all sort of suspect is secretly not one of
them. He might sell a vice president. He has been a moderate in the past.
They have not really believed he is a conservative. So, that is reflected
in a lot of an animosity that came out in the primary season.

But I think there is something else too. We saw this in 2008 when he
first ran. We saw at this time too. He rubs the people who run against
him the wrong way personally. I think they may see, and my theory would
be, they seem whether it was McCain or Giuliani in a way, Bachmann,
Gingrich this time. They seem as unusually slippery in this ingenious.
They kind of can`t believe he is getting away with all that stuff. He is
getting away with in terms of changing his position.


KORNACKI: They didn`t really rub them wrong.

SHARPTON: Now, Erin. When you look at the fact that even his
surrogates, the people speaking on his behalf, the one that him and touts
the most, they don`t seem completely on board. Listen to this.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I think a lot of people Senator Rob
Portman would be phenomenal for vice president.

going to a surgeon, right. If I have a terrible cancer or something be
operated on, or when I had to operate for prostate cancer, I didn`t go to
the nicest doctor. I went to the best doctor.

to have problems politically until we get some sort of third party movement
or some alternative voice out there that can put forward new ideas.


SHARPTON: I mean, not exactly ringing endorsements.

endorsement that Mitt Romney has gotten have been tepid, that`s for sure.
And I do think of the field of Republican presidential candidates, with the
exception of Ron Paul, they have all withdrawn their candidacies at this
point. I`m pretty sure that only Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty are the
two that have so far campaigned with Mitt Romney. Tim Pawlenty of course
is potentially in the deep stake.

Now, maybe with Bachmann and Pawlenty, it has something to do with the
Minnesota nice aspect. But the other thing is, Al, I`m not sure that Mitt
Romney wants to appear with some of the members of this field because many
of them are seen as extremist and not popular with independents.

It`s a very fine line that Mitt Romney has to walk, and he needs the
support of many in his party in part because of states like Ohio. The Ohio
Republican party will tell you that the reason Obama beat McCain in Ohio in
2008 is because a lot of Republicans stayed home. They were not energized.
So, he does needs that support to energize.


SHARPTON: That`s what I was getting ready to say. He has got to have
the base, even some of the far right, and I mean, he is going to see
Santorum tomorrow, so how does he win?

I mean, you covered him. Does he have the skill, I mean the political
skill, to bring his party together from both sides and the middle of the
party, and still appeal to the independents? Does he have that kind of
political skill?

MCPIKE: Well, part of that is that it`s something that we`ll see as
he campaigns against the president throughout this campaign. I mean, a lot
of Republicans will tell you he is much better as a governor than he is as
a campaigner.

Can that get you through a general election? Well, I don`t know about
that. But if you think about what Newt Gingrich said just yesterday. He
said, is he better than Obama? Is he more conservative than Obama? Yes,
but Mitt Romney doesn`t want to talk so much about himself, or his own
record, or policies. He wants to keep this as a referendum on the

So far as all of these Republicans are saying, at least he is better
than Obama; that is in many ways what Mitt Romney wants. He didn`t want to
talk as much about himself.

SHARPTON: Steve, I know some conservatives would say yes, but the
Democrats have their battles too. And I remember in 2008, there was a
fierce battle between then Senator Obama and Senator Clinton. But, let me
show you how Hillary Clinton endorsed President Obama or now President


HILARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Today, as I suspend my campaign,
I congratulate him on the victory he has won and the extraordinary race he
has run. I endorsement him and throw my full support behind him. And ask
all of you, to join me in working as hard for Barack Obama as you have for


SHARPTON: Now, you compare that with Newt Gingrich yesterday talking
about Mitt Romney.


GINGRICH: You know this is not a choice between Mitt Romney and
Ronald Reagan. This is a choice between Mitt Romney and the most radical
leftist president in American history.


SHARPTON: So, you understand what I`m saying? And then, there were
shots, and a lot of personal attacks, and race was involved in all of that
in the Obama-Clinton race, but she was unequivocal. Newt and them, had a
bruising primary, and it was like if he wasn`t running against President
Obama, I wouldn`t be standing here. I mean, it was not an embrace.

KORNACKI: Well, yes. And not all primary battles are created equal.
I mean, you ran in 2004 and probably in one of the most harmonious we have
ever seen. You know, I think 2008 -

SHARPTON: I`m a harmonious guy.


KORNACKI: In 2008, I think was one that was long, epic in length.
But it wasn`t that vicious. I would suggest a different parallel, a
different Democratic race be kind of applies in more of this situation.
That`s he go all the way back to 1980 when it was Ted Kennedy against Jimmy
Carter. The iconic moment of that was the democratic convention of summer
of 1980, Carter went to latch hands with Kennedy would not shake his hand.

SHARPTON: And Carter lost.

KORNACKI: And Carter lost.

SHARPTON: Just like the Romney people are looking. It didn`t help
them a lot.

Let me bring this to you, Erin. He is really trying, going back to
your point about the conservatives. He doesn`t want to look to extreme but
he met with some of the conservative bloggers. It was reported the meeting
-- the Huffington Post wrote that in the meeting, Romney told attendees
that the campaign intended to work closely with their outlets and will help
conservative outlet`s writing about Obama with opposition research.

So, he is having meetings with this far right wing bloggers and even
promising to help provide them with research. So, in one hand you may say
he`s not trying to appeal with people, on the other hand, he is trying to
get right wing bloggers to really come on and do a number for them.

MCPIKE: He is. But, you know, I would point out to you this. The
Romney campaign and Mitt Romney, himself, have not granted much access to
the media. They don`t really trust the media. And he has been saying that
more and more recently.

But, in order to win a presidential race, especially against an
incumbent that`s popular, you do need to get your message out into the
media. They need some kind of outlet. And so, it`s more about figuring
out where they can do that, and if they don`t think the mainstream press
will treat them with fairness, and I would say that the main stream media
has have been very fair to Mitt Romney. But I don`t think the Romney
campaign sees it that way. They need to go somewhere and that`s where
their headed.

SHARPTON: How fresh that is, Steve?

KORNACKI: You know, I think at the end of the day they want to vote
out Barack Obama and, you know, Romney will be fine, but there are limits
to this. And we saw it this week with the gay advisor who basically
there`s a lot of discomfort there in the Romney party. We don`t want
within the base. And the one that I`m looking to is what will he does on
immigration? Doe he has going to have to --

SHARPTON: And who is going to be the vice presidential candidate.

KORNACKI: And that too.

SHARPTON: Erin McPike and Steve Kornacki. Thanks for joining me this


SHARPTON: Ahead, documents taken from inside bin Laden`s compound the
night he was killing emerge, the same day the king of hype, Karl Rove, rips
the president over hype. IS he kidding?

Plus, this openly gay Romney spokesperson forced out and anti-gay
conservatives are claiming victory. Folks, this is the new Republican

And George Zimmerman`s case shined a light on the controversial "Stand
Your Ground" law in America. Now there is a new case in Florida that`s
just as curious.

You are watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.


SHARPTON: The religious right celebrates an openly gay Romney advisor
stepping down after pressure. Folks, this ends the Republican Party. How
do we get here? That`s next.


SHARPTON: Welcome back to "Politics Nation."

Today, the "New York times" published new details about the
resignation of Mitt Romney`s openly gay foreign policy advisor, Richard
Grenell, an incident that`s re-ignited the debate about anti-gay views in
the GOP.

The Times says, the Romney campaign was acutely aware of the backlash
against Grenell from social conservatives. One Republican advisor told the
Times quote, "it`s not that the campaign cared whether Rick Grenell was
gay, but they didn`t want to confront the religious right." And now anti-
gay leaders on the right are celebrating.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a huge win for the pro-family community.
I will flat out guarantee you. He is not going to make this mistake again.
There is no way in the world that Mitt Romney is going to put a homosexual
activist in any position of importance in his campaign.


SHARPTON: The truth is anti-gay views have become increasingly
accepted in today`s GOP. This year, the conservative CPAC conference
banned a Republican gay rights group because of their support of marriage

But top Republicans like Mitt Romney, John Boehner and Mitch
McConnell, were all too happy to speak at the conference anyway no matter
who was excluded. We`re seeing the agenda at the state level too. In
North Carolina, Republicans are trying to rewrite the state constitution to
enshrine a ban on gay marriage. That`s already in the books.

The "New York Times" calls it bigotry on the ballot. We also saw the
GOP`s views on gay rights on full display in the presidential primary.


BACHMANN: My opinion is that marriage is between a man and a woman.
And I think that`s been my view.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: So a gay couple with kids is not
considered a family to you?

BACHMANN: You know, all of these kinds of questions really aren`t
about what people are concerned about right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: What would you do with same sex couples
that got married? Would you make them get divorce?

SANTORUM: Well, their marriage would be invalid.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Under your presidency, do you intend to circumvent
the progress made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military?


SHARPTON: Joining me now is Frank Schaeffer, a columnist from the
Huffington Post and author of "crazy for God." Thanks for joining me.


SHARPTON: Frank, does this episode with Romney advisor highlight the
power of the far right, social conservatives, and the GOP?

SCHAEFFER: Very much so, and it is part of a pattern. And that is
that the Republican Party used to have fringe activist like me when I was
in the religious right, which I write about in my book, "Crazy for God,"
why I got out of the religious right about 30 years ago now.

We used to be on the fringe, and we were activist, and we talk to
people in power. Now, the fringe has taken over the party. And when you
have someone like Mitt Romney who, either is or pretends to be more
moderate, whenever a conflict comes up with the folks who a anti-gay, anti-
immigrant, anti-African-American, they get the various types anti-woman.
He will throw his hat into the ring because he wants to hold on to the base

So, it`s not just anti-gay rhetoric, take the GOP war on women that
has been launched by the Roman Catholic bishops with the support of the
Pope. Now, here you have a Mormon candidate for the presidency cow toeing
to the conservative wing of the American bishops who are now beating up on
their own nuns because those nuns have been taken a harsh offline against
gay people and gay marriage. And when it comes to this instance, you have
Richard Grenell who is just tossed out like so much baggage, told to get on
a conference call and just keep his mouth shut so he will not embarrass
them. It isn`t just one issue. Its minorities and it`s anyone in a
position they can bully and they go after them.

SHARPTON: Now Frank, what is fascinating to me about you, you were
part of the right, the far right, in the Republican Party.

SCHAEFFER: That`s right.

SHARPTON: And you said that you were part of that, you were friends
on the outside. Now you`re saying they are the leadership of the party.
And you wrote this -- let me read what you wrote in the blog because it
really was interesting to me. It says, can you really picture Jesus
defining religious liberty as the right to deprive women and gay men and
women of their basic rights to employment, marriage equality, and family

That`s your statement.

SCHAEFFER: Yes. Well you know. When I heard this story breaking, I
took the opportunity of writing my Huff blog on the subject. And the fact
of the matter is, I`m a Christian. I will be in church next Sunday, but
I`m not a right wing fanatic. And I got out of the party because it has
been taken over by people who sadly believe what I believed wrongly and
sincerely 30 years ago and that I write about in "Crazy for God" why I got

But today, the difference is as I said before, and will say again,
people like me used to be on the outside knocking on the door of people
like Ronald Reagan that we met with and the first President Bush, Gerald
Ford who invited us to the White House. But we didn`t run anything.

Now, people who had our extreme right wing fundamentalist views are
either running the party or people like Mitt Romney are running so scared
because of these folks. And it`s strange symbiotic relationship.

Look. The people at the top like Karl Rove don`t believe any of these
social issues at all. They are just about power. But, they use people who
believe in anti-abortion rhetoric, anti-gay rhetoric, anti-black rhetoric,
anti-immigrant rhetoric and they get them to vote against their own
economic interests.

SHARPTON: So they can achieve power.

SCHAEFFER: So they can achieve power.

SHARPTON: To give you an example on what you are saying, you used to
knock on the door, now, you have Romney knocking on their door.


SHARPTON: Liberty University is where he will speak at the graduation
next week which banned the democratic club on campus for supporting same-
sex marriage and LGBT rights, withdrew from CPAC in 2010 to protest the
inclusion of a gay rights group. This week, he is going to speak.

SCHAEFFER: Well, look. He is going to have to be, you know, in very
deep water here. Because, the fact of the matter is, the majority of the
American people believe in gay rights. The majority of the gay people are
not trying to take contraceptives away from women as the Roman Catholics
bishops are in their institutions.


SCHAEFFER: And then, labeling as anti-religious civil liberties issue
and then going even further and lying about the first -- the president of
the United States and saying he is anti-religious because he won`t let them
deprive women who work for these million billion dollar corporations the
Catholics run on health care.

So, sooner or later, Romney is going to have to say I`m with the
people on these issues or I am going to allow this fringe run everything I
say. The Roman Catholic bishops, the fundamentalists, on the evangelical
side who just hate the gay people in this country, he is going to have to

But he has solo courage and conviction that I think Romney is such a
moral coward when it comes to saying anything meaningful about for
instance, a young woman called terrible names. He would not go against
Rush Limbaugh. And so, his moral --


SHARPTON: I`m definitely going to have you back, Frank.


SHARPTON: Thank you for being here tonight, next time let me know how
you really feel.

SCHAEFFER: Thank you, Reverend Sharpton. I appreciate what you do.

SHARPTON: Stay with us, ahead, still ahead, Karl Rove`s new claim
that President Obama is trying to quote "cheapen bin Laden`s death with
hype" really, Mr. Rove? The kind of hype that would put a mission
accomplished banner on an aircraft carrier, maybe that.

But first, some tough new questions about one of the GOP`s rising
stars, Marco Rubio. Many Republicans want to see him on the ticket, but he
brings some baggage too.


SHARPTON: Willard is giving up before the general election, so the
race is on to be his number two. One name that keeps popping up is
Florida`s senator, Marco Rubio. Rubio is from a swing state, he is Latino,
and he is a tea party favorite.

But, we now learned that last month the federal election commission
fined Senator Rubio $8,000 for accepting campaign contributions above the
legal limit and taking donations from corporate donors. And "Roll Call"
reports quote, "the FEC has also raised questions about irregular
contributions to his leadership PAC."

This is not the first time he ran into trouble with the books back
when the - he was in the Florida House as speaker. Rubio was charged
$100,000 to state Republican Party`s credit card. Some were personal
charges which he paid for. But officially expenses included minivan
repairs, purchases our of music equipments store and plane tickets for his
wife. Rubio says those were legitimate.


RUBIO: But, it`s important people understand, I did not bill personal
expenses to the Republican party of Florida. The Republican party of
Florida never paid my personal expenses, never. But look, you know, I
should not have done it that way. It was lesson learned.


SHARPTON: There are also questions about the company Rubio keeps his
friend in Miami, Congressman David Rivera, under investigation by the FBI
and IRS. He was previously investigated by other agencies for campaign
finance violation. Was not charged, but prosecutors said he was
essentially living off campaign contributions, but Rubio is sticking by his


UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: And you`re raising money for him.

RUBIO: Again, he is a friend. He asked me to attend a fundraiser.
He is accountable to the people of his district who elected him. And they
are going to have to reelect him.

AL SHARPTON, HOST, MSNBC LIVE: Yap, Willard will definitely be
keeping a close eye on Senator Rubio, and we will too.


SHARPTON: We`re back on POLITICS NATION with some amazing revelations
from the Bin Laden files. A newly released stash of Bin Laden`s secret
letters seized in the raid that ended his life one year ago this week. The
letters revealed that Bin Laden told his deputies to assassinate President
Obama and General David Petraeus because quote, "Utterly unprepared Vice
President Joe Biden would automatically assume the presidency, which would
cause the United States to enter into crisis mode and the killing of
Petraeus would have a serious impact on the course of the war." Another
letter shows that Bin Laden`s aids wanted to launch a media campaign in the
United States for the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. One
advice even suggested a special interview with Shaykh Osama with a U.S.
television network.

They would accept this so to get an exclusive press scoop. The first
press interview with Shaykh Osama since ten years ago. That`s a quote from
one of the aides of Osama Bin Laden. And we`re also learning that Bin
Laden was deeply frustrated with al-Qaeda`s operation. Government
officials write, quote, "Bin Laden was not as many thought the puppet
master pulling the strings far from being pleased with the actions of
regional Jihadi Groups claiming affiliation with al-Qaeda. Bin Laden was
burdened with what he saw as their incompetence." While Osama Bin Laden
was struggling with how to gain control over his terrorist network,
President Obama was giving the command to have him killed. He spoke to
NBC`s Brian Williams about making the decision to order the raid.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: I stayed up late and I woke up
early. You know, by the point though, I felt I had examined every aspect
of the operation. We had been preparing for months now. At that point you
have some serenity, in knowing that you made the best possible decision
that you can, and you know, in that situation you do some praying.


SHARPTON: Joining me now is retired General Wesley Clark, a former
NATO commander and now chairman and CEO of Wesley Clark and associates and
David Corn, Washington Bureau chief for Mother Jones and also MSNBC
political analyst. His new book is called "Showdown." He is also the
author of "Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of
the Iraq War." Thanks for being here tonight, both of you. General, I
might say, we ran against each other in 2004, got to know each other, and
you gave me all these scrutiny questions.

the guy that welcomed me into the race, I will never forget that.

SHARPTON: That`s right. Let me ask you first, General, you heard
what`s in these documents, what can you tell us, and what do you think they
tell us about Bin Laden`s life and hiding and how degraded al-Qaeda really

CLARK: Well, I think it shows that we were pretty effective in
disrupting their demand and control. But until you take out the top man,
you haven`t permanently disrupted it. And if there been any chink at
somewhere along the line, Osama would have been able to re-establish that
control, get the grit back on the organization and try to pose a threat.
So, I think it was a very wise decision for the administration to tell the
CIA in 2009, to get off your you know what, and get a plan and take him
out, and a tough call and a right call by the President to do so when we
have the intelligence two years later.

SHARPTON: Now, let me show you this. Many Republicans have said
that, they really said this week that any president would have made the
same decision, let me show you this.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Governor, would you have gone after Bin Laden?


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You would have given the order, Governor?

ROMNEY: Even Jimmy Carter would have given that order.

REP. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: To now take credit for something that
any President would do is indicative of the kind of campaign we`re under,
we`re seeing.

tough decision. I don`t think it was a tough decision to not make that
decision it seemed to me would just be dumbfounding. I can`t imagine any
President not making that decision.


SHARPTON: But Donald Rumsfeld, who we just heard saying that, it was
no big deal for President Obama to call for this raid actually call off a
similar raid in 2005 in Pakistan. "New York Times" reported quote, "The
target was a meeting of al-Qaeda leaders and Mr. Rumsfeld decided the
operation was cumbersome and put too many American lives at risk. He was
also concerned that it could cause a rift with Pakistan." David, how do
you respond to this?

DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: You know, we have been talking about this
all week long, Reverend. And, you know, the example you just gave there is
really the proof that these are hard decisions. Anyone, you know, I joked
about this, but Mitt Romney and the others should read chapter 10 of my
book because I go into all the details of the decision making of the
President engage and all of those meetings. And at the end of the day, the
last meeting before, when he was talking to Brian in that interview, that
meeting ended when he went home and thought about it overnight. But at
that meeting, Secretary of Defense Bob Gates and Vice President Joe Biden,
his two most senior national security advisors both told him don`t go yet,
get more intelligence, other people wanted a missile strike, but if he had
on missile strikes, which the President was opposed to because the --
damage, we would never have gotten this treasure-trove of documents that
we`re pouring over today. We`re just looking at 17 out of thousands of
documents. This was a difficult call, it was a test case in presidential
decision making. And it staggers me that Mitt Romney, who wants to be
president, doesn`t understand that.

SHARPTON: Well, it`s not only Donald Rumsfeld, General, you have Karl
Rove saying in the Wall Street Journal today in that editorial, quote,
"Someone forgot that too much hype cheapens the moment." I mean, you know
the decision as a military general and you know, because you have been in
politics. How do you deal with the toughness of the decision and whether,
is this too much hype?

CLARK: Well, you know, for three or four decades, the Republicans
thought they had a monopoly on being tough on National Security and they
thought Democrats were weak. President Obama is the first democratic
president with an opportunity to really change that dynamic, and the
Republicans would love to have the conventional dynamic. They`re the daddy
party, and the Democrats are the mama party and all that sort of thing,
they can`t do it now. This was a tough real call. So, sure they`re going
to rule out every kind of weak argument they can to try to undercut
President Obama`s claim to strong national leadership. But you know, what?
He made that decision. It was a right decision, it was a tough decision.
And he deserves the credit for it. And I promise you, if Karl Rove thought
he could get the credit for it, he would.

SHARPTON: Now, David, I hear you laughing but let me say in your book
"Hubris," Rove politicized 9/11 to help then President Bush. You say,
quote, "Ever since September 11, Rove had sought to divide the electorate
on the National Security issue and exploit the public`s fears for the
President`s benefit.

CORN: Yes, let me just say, I co-wrote that book with our Michael


CORN: Let`s give him some credit too. We`ve shown that book over and
over again. Examples of you know, how Rove use 9/11 and the war in Iraq.
In the 2002 election and 2004 election. And you know, there are two words
that are missing from Karl Rove`s Wall Street journal piece today, and
those are mission accomplished. I mean, talk about hype. Go ahead,
walk across the flight deck of the aircraft carrier in a flight suit,
and he is saying the President is hyping something. I mean, literally he
should be laughed off the newspaper, you know, pages for even suggesting
that he has the standing to accuse anybody else of hyping what is an
accomplishment when they hype something that wasn`t even an accomplishment.

SHARPTON: Now, General let me ask you before we run out of time, John
Boehner, he said the President did a good job. Let me show you this. He
said, he even did better than President Bush.


supportive of the President`s decision in Iraq and Afghanistan. When you
look at the prosecution of the war effort against the enemy in the
tribal areas, there`s clearly more been done under President Obama than it
was under President Bush.


CLARK: There you go. Pick it up, frame it, bottle it, and nail it on
a wall, and use it and use it and use it because it is true.

SHARPTON: General Clark, David Corn. Thank you both for joining me

CORN: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, the Trayvon Martin shooting put Florida`s
controversial stand your ground law in the spotlight. Now, we have a new
case worth looking at. And remembering my father figure, the Godfather of
soul. On what would have been his 79th birthday today, next.


SHARPTON: There`s a case in Florida that`s getting a lot of attention
and a lot of questions, a woman facing 20 years in prison for an incident
where no one was hurt. It`s curious and it`s next.


SHARPTON: The Trayvon Martin shooting has drawn a lot of attention to
Florida`s controversial stand your ground law. But there`s another
curious case right around the area that has many asking whether the law is
applied fairly. This is Marissa Alexander. This 31-year-old mother of
three is facing 20 years in prison after being convicted of aggravated
assault for firing a warning shot into the ceiling of the home she shared
with an abusive husband in August of 2010. Minutes before she fired that
shot, her husband flew into a jealous rage -- her in the bathroom and
saying to her, if I can`t have you, nobody is going to have you. He had
been put on probation for attacking her Alexander and sending her to the
hospital the prior year.

And the husband admitted to beating other women in his past. But the
judge rejected Alexander`s stand your ground defense saying there was
quote, "insufficient evidence she reasonably believed that deadly force was
needed." And today, a motion for retrial was denied. It`s a curious case
to say the least and we want to get to the bottom of it.

Joining me now from Jacksonville is Florida Times Union`s Charles
Broward, he has been covering the case. He is writing today about the
judge`s decision to deny re-trial. Also, with me Ken Padowitz, a former
homicide prosecutor from Florida. Thanks to both of you for being here.

Charles, take me through what we know about happened in this story,
why wasn`t this a stand your ground case?

CHARLES BROWARD, FLORIDA TIMES-UNION: Well, it`s not a stand your
ground case and you have to understand to the media here in Jacksonville
didn`t really get involved in this case until really after the Trayvon
Martin case. So, we`re all kind of playing catch up on this, too. We
weren`t in the trial. But I have taken a look at the stand your ground
ruling, and the judge in the stand your ground basically sited four
different reasons why she denied it. And first, it began with Marissa
first in her own testimony apparently admitted that she really wasn`t
injured in the incident. That Mr. Grey hit a door the door, the door hit
her in a leg, she didn`t sustain an injury. She also -- the judge was the
center feet, she also said that Alexander had the opportunity to stay out
of the house, but came back into the house armed with a gun. She
questioned whether or not the garage door that, you know, she went to the
garage or she questioned whether or not the garage door operated or not.

SHARPTON: OK. But wait a minute. Let me owe you right there. Let
me bring in Mr. Padowitz. Now, she came back into the house. I mean, you
know my position on stand your ground is I`m opposed to it, but I also feel
you can`t have different applications different times. Mr. Padowitz, how
is if she had been hospitalized a year before, he`s got a record, and he
just told her if he couldn`t have her, no one would, and she had just a
child nine days before, how does this not qualify for stand your ground as
much as I or others may question the law?

You`re correct in questioning on this case. This is a prime example of the
abomination of the stand your ground law. It relies upon the discretion of
a judge at a hearing to determine whether or not the law applies in this
particular case. And from the facts I have seen, not being in the
courtroom, but from the facts I`ve seen, she never left the house, she was
in the garage which is part of the house. The garage door is broken. She
couldn`t get out and so, she had to come back into the house in order to
exit through the front-door.

SHARPTON: But Ken, she`s facing 20 years, and no one was hurt. She
said she shot the ceiling, whatever happened, no one was hurt. How is
she facing 20 years in jail?

PADOWITZ: And that`s the injustice here, not only the stand your
ground law not being applied which many people would believe it should be
applied here, but now we have minimum mandatory sentencing laws here in
Florida and across the nation where the judge`s hands are tied. Once a
jury convicted her of aggravated assault and discharging that weapon,
there`s a minimum mandatory of 20 years in prison in Florida which to me
again is very unjust. It`s unfair and the prosecutor here -- even after
the conviction.

SHARPTON: So the discharge of the gun in Florida, Charles, a minimum
20 years. Now, she was offered a plea to be fair.

BROWARD: And that seems to be more of the issue here. Not so much of
whether it`s a stand your ground, whether she was guilty or not. I mean,
it is an issue. But I think the real issue is really the sentencing. You
know, there is two ways to have aggravated assault with a deadly weapon,
you can either get three years or 20 years. That`s a pretty big gap.
And I think that`s really what the controversy here is. And again, she had
an opportunity to take a plea deal that was offered to her up to three days
before the trial, on the Friday before the trial started on Tuesday, so a
few days before the trial. So, I think that`s really become the issue
here. The stand your ground is something that, you know, it`s a very
subjective process. Even today in court, the judge was unable to even

SHARPTON: But Ken, do you think a lawyer will be criticized for not
advising her to take the plea? I mean, how do you get around this
disparity from three years to 20?

PADOWITZ: Well, I`m certainly not in the shoes of that lawyer, don`t
know all of the facts, but from what I do know, there are some serious
questions for this lawyer. Did he not advise his client to take a plea
offer of three years? Did he not tell her explain her in detail the chance
that she was taking in Florida with this minimum mandatory sentencing laws
in 20 years that he was facing this case. So, there are some serious
questions with this lawyer as to whether or not he properly advise his
client and did the right thing. The prosecution should step up here
even after the conviction and get rid of the 20 year minimum mandatory. It
appears to be very unfair in an application.

SHARPTON: So, is the prosecutor`s discretion, I mean, it`s the law
you`re saying? It is the prosecutor`s discretion.

PADOWITZ: The prosecutor`s and minister of justice and this
prosecutor can look at the facts of this case and he can ask the judge to
come down, get rid of the 20 year minimum mandatory, and apply a sentence
that is fair in this case as oppose to the application in these 20

SHARPTON: Charles, this young lady will be sentenced on May 11th, she
faces 20 years as a record here of abuse record of her being in the
hospital, the husband threatened her. I`m sure there are thousands of
stand your ground conservatives that they are marching and rallying for
her, right?

BROWARD: Oh, yes, you know, that`s been almost every day. And that`s
really kind of withdrew the attention here in Jacksonville with some small

SHARPTON: I`m talking about the big stand your ground guys and
(INAUDIBLE), right? Yes, that`s what I thought. Charles, thank you so
much for your time tonight. Ken Padowitz, thank you both for being here

BROWARD: No, problem. Thank you, sir.

SHARPTON: We`ll be right back to celebrate the birth and legacy of my
mentor James Brown. Stay with us.


SHARPTON: The performance of the night on Monday`s episode of "The
Voice," Juliet Simms doing a cover of James Brown classic is "A Man`s
World." It just goes to show more than five years after his death, James
Brown and his works still resonate with millions of Americans. Mr. Brown
had at least 89 songs on the billboard top 100 helping to popularized
soul and funk in changing the face of music forever. Today is his
birthday. He would have been 79 years old. James Brown became like a
father to me over the years mentoring me from an early age. Back in 1974,
I had a chance and an honor to be with my mentor on soul train.


SHARPTON: We know that in the recording industry that they give a
gold record to those that achieve a million seller. But we view you all,
million seller paid back, a black record because it`s relevant and says
many of the things that young blacks have tried to say and cannot musically


SHARPTON: I would not be where I am today without the help and
guidance of James Brown. I wrote about my debt to him in my book saying,
James Brown taught me more than anyone in the civil rights movement about
how to stand up, not compromise, and be a man and push things as far as
they can go. He also taught generations of Americans how to get down.


SHARPTON: He thought me few of those moves, too. I show them off
when they appeared on Saturday Night Live in September and November of


JAMES BROWN (1933-2006), SINGER: You`re an old man. Not too old to
do this. Hit it.



SHARPTON: And that`s before I lost the weight. I would show you now,
but I don`t want to interfere with Chris Matthews getting on the good
foot in a few minutes. Happy Birthday to James Brown, I lost him, few
weeks ago I lost my mother. But it`s my father`s birthday today, something
they both wanted me to reconcile with my father. I learned the best way to
deal with losing those you love, is to live the life that they helped pay a
price for you to have an opportunity to do.

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


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