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PoliticsNation, Wednesday, May 16, 2012

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Guests: Ed Rendell, Marcy Kaptur; Jim McDermott, Jamal Simmons, Maria Teresa Kumar, Dana Milbank, Joseph Lowery

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

Tonight`s lead, Bain of his existence. The Obama campaign is going right
at what they must see as a major weakness in Mitt Romney`s appearance to
voters. His time at Bain Capital, and they`re taking that into the heart
of the country.

Today, vice president Joe Biden went to a manufacturing plant in
Youngstown, Ohio today and unloaded.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I resent the fact that I
think we are talking about envy, job envy, wealth envy. That we don`t
dream. My mother believed and my father believed that if I want today be
president of the United States I could be, I could be vice president. They
dreamed as much as any rich guy dreams.

(APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: They don`t get us. They don`t get who we are.

This election is going to be a choice between two fundamentally different
philosophies. That choice is about whether or not we`re going to rebuild
the middle class, or continue to help those at the top and hope everything
works out well.

Romney made sure the guys at the top got to play by a separate set of
rules. He ran up mass of debts in the Middle class laws. And folks, he
thinks that experience is going to help our economy?

Let`s take a look. Look, with these guys, past is prologue, man. So, I
want you to think about what he will do as president. Laying on debt,
laying off workers, doing what could for those at the top while every else
spends for themselves. We can`t afford that in the valley. We cannot
afford that in a nation.

Things really are starting to come back. There are signs of life, and
hope, and heart in the heartland. Jobs are starting to come back. And the
ones coming back are the kind of jobs you can build a middle class family
on.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHARPTON: The kinds of jobs you can build a middle class family on.
They`re taking the fight to places that build this country. Pennsylvania,
Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio. Places where millions of
Americans have been hit hard by the economic downturn.

Millions of Americans lost their jobs while Governor Romney and his pals at
Bain Capital made off with millions of dollars in profits. This week the
president hit Romney with an ad featuring workers from a steel mill in
Kansas city that Bain Capital shut down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You get up on national TV and brag about making jobs,
when he has destroyed thousands of people`s careers, lifetimes, just
destroying people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And today we learned of another company that Bain shut down in
Florida. Dade Behring, which, saddled with debt, wound up shuttering two
medical technology facilities in Miami. Some 850 jobs were lost. While
Bain walked away with $242 million. And 800 percent return on its
investment.

But for some reason, Willard continues to pretend he is a great job
creator. He will have to fool hard hit workers in places like Ohio where
vice president Biden spoke today, and where the president`s policies have
already helped millions of Americans.

In 2010, 10.6 percent of the state was unemployed, but unemployment has now
dropped to 7.5 percent today. It`s no wonder President Obama officially
kicked off his campaign in Ohio, and went right after Willard`s time at
Bain Capital.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He`s one large financial
firm. And I think he has drawn the wrong lessons from those experiences.
He sincerely believes that`s if CEO and wealthy investors like him make
money, the rest of us will prosper as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Mitt Romney may have a credible response to this line of attack, but if so,
we haven`t heard it yet.

Joining me now is Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur from Ohio, and former
Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, now an MSNBC political news analyst.

Thanks to both of you for being here tonight.

REP. MARCY KAPTUR (D), OHIO: Thank you, Rev.

ED RENDELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: My pleasure.

SHARPTON: Congresswoman, you`re up for reelection in Ohio, does the attack
on Romney`s time at Bain resonate with voter in your state?

KAPTUR: It resonates. Our people understand what corporate radars are.
We have seen them coming to our areas, suck our community dries of equity,
shutdown plants, get very rich in the process to put thousands of thousands
of workers put out of work. Even Governor Rick Perry of Texas called Mitt
Romney a vulture capitalist. Books are written about barbarian of the gate
and those that run the Hedge funds and company that`s come in and just suck
the equity out throwing thousands and thousands and thousands of people out
of work. Our people have experienced this firsthand.

SHARPTON: Now, Governor Rendell, Mr. Romney has accused the president of
trying to divide the country with class warfare, let me show you his
statement this year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I think it`s about
envy. I think it is about class warfare. I think when you have a
president encouraging the idea of dividing America based on 99 percent
versus one percent and those people who have been most successful will be
in the one percent. You open a new wave of approach in this country which
entirely inconsistent with concept of one nation under God.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: No. In the heartland, where you were governor of Pennsylvania,
where people have suffered and absolutely have felt the pain of the
economic downturn, will the class warfare argument by Romney resonate?

RENDELL: No, I think as the campaign moves on, people are going to see
that what the president wants to do is really help create jobs for the
middle class. And he wants to do it by getting our economy back on track
and that means balancing the budget, and that means that the wealthiest
Americans should pay more.

But, you know, one thing people should understand, Reverend, is the
president is not saying we should go back to the days when people in the
top one percent paid 70 percent or 50 percent of their income on taxes.

He is saying they should go back to the days of bill Clinton when they paid
not 35 percent they pay, but 39 percent. And think about that, under Bill
Clinton, we created 23.5 million new jobs, and those rich people, even
though they feel a little more taxes, they got really rich during that same
time.

SHARPTON: Now, it`s not just his history then, but his policies now. What
he is saying now, he is a pro-Ryan plan, $2.9 trillion in cuts to low
income programs. Wants tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Would
repeal affordable care act, would slash Social Security and Medicare.

Congresswoman, we`re not just talking about Romney of yesteryear, we are
talking about what he is advocating today as a candidate for president.

KAPTUR: That is correct. He and all of his friends like Congressman Ryan
as the budget committee, Senator Portman, even my opponent, Joe the
plumber, they all favor helping the one percent, and I think - and what
about the other 99 percent? What about the middle class?

If you look at hedge fund managers and hedge fund executives, they pay 15
percent. It would be great if all the Bain Capital executives including
Governor Romney would pay the same thing as my neighbors pay. Let them pay
as they raise as the middle class pays tax. That isn`t happening. So they
sheltered income in a thousand ways, and they made huge amounts of fortune
off of raiding companying, and they`re not playing by the same rules. So
they`re protecting the super class that has done so much to damage this
economy.

SHARPTON: So, let me get this right, Congresswoman. In your district, the
ticket is Willard Romney and Joe the plumber.

KAPTUR: That is correct.

SHARPTON: And Mr. the Plumber, or Joe the plumber, how I should refer to
him, is supporting Willard and the Ryan plan I assume.

KAPTUR: He certainly is. I can`t understand, of course, you know Joe,
that`s not his name and he`s not a plumber actually. I don`t know why he
would be supporting those policies. He should be fighting for the middle
class, not the super rich.

SHARPTON: Now Governor Rendell, Congresswoman says Plumber is not a
plumber, Mr. Romney says he`s a job creator, but he has a hard time
explaining how he is a job creator. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP0

ROMNEY: In some businesses shrunk, we tried to turn them around, sometimes
successfully, sometimes not. But let`s not forget, this is the free
enterprises that capitalism works. Free enterprise works. You never want
to see an enterprise go bankrupt. And those that have been documented to
have lost jobs lost about 10,000 jobs.

I`m someone who believes in free enterprise. Free enterprise with all of
this different dimensions and plays makes America the strongest economic
nation in the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now that`s him responding in debates in a Republican primary for
being attacked for his service as CEO of Bain, and where he has touted this
as his record as a job creator, and he is trying to justify Bain.

Therefore, is it not legitimate, Governor Rendell, that the opponents, of
course the incumbent president and his team, raise questions about his
behavior and what happened under his tenure at Bain.

RENDELL: Absolutely. And you know, Governor Romney keep saying that they
created a whole lot more jobs than they closed down. Well, he should open
the books at Bain, tell Bain to open the books so the press can look at
that and do an accurate computation.

But, Reverend, I think there is one other factor that (INAUDIBLE).
Governmental experience matters too. But, Governor Romney saying that as
president, he will know what to do to create jobs where he was essentially
the president of a state. The governor is a president of the state, the
state of Massachusetts. And while he was governor of Massachusetts for
four years, Massachusetts ranked 47th out of 50 states in job creation, 47
out of 50 states.

And remember, Massachusetts had has all of the new hightech.com businesses
and they still ranked only 47th in job creation during his term as
governor. That to me is even more telling than Bain.

SHARPTON: And two of those that were underneath him, in the 47th percent
were hit by Katrina that year. So, let`s not forget that.

And thank you for being on, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur and Governor Ed
Rendell.

KAPTUR: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Congresswoman, tell Joe the plumber, if he wants equal time,
call Al the preacher. But, I`m really a preacher.

Ahead, hours after W elevator endorsement, Willard can`t seem to remember
Bush`s name. Funny how that happens? And why Sarah Palin`s latest move
has Republicans talking, a big story could be developing behind closed
doors.

And the political beer test. Why President Obama`s likeability might be
the answer to all of that GOP money.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: You know. You have a bunch of people around who are always
laughing at your jokes and thinking you`re funny, and all the stuffs.
Michelle is like, this guy? And I will tell you, when she does it in front
of my team, they love it, they`ll crack up. And the, I`ll look at them and
then.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Nothing beats the summer time, days at the beach, cookouts with
friends, and of course John Boehner making threats to hold the economy
hostage. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: It`s hard to believe, but summer is just around the corner. Get
ready for the barbeques, the beach days, and of course, Speaker John
Boehner bringing the economy to the edge of collapse. Yes, Boehner is
already at it again, restarting last summer`s drag out fight to raise the
debt limit. But he says it`s no threat.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Speaker Boehner, why are threatening default
on the debt limit in May of 2012?

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I am not threatening default.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Boehner and other leaders met behind closed doors at the White
House today, and guess how that went? Leader Pelosi tells us about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP0

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: I haven`t heard Kumbaya
(ph) in so long I would not recognize it. I`m glad Speaker enjoyed the
sandwiches. I think the - was it frank, but cordial conversation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I don`t think we will be hearing Kumbaya (ph) this summer.

Joining me now is Congressman Jim McDermott, Democrat of Washington.

Congressman, this was a huge failure last summer, why would Speaker Boehner
threaten to do this again?

REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D), WASHINGTON: Well, Reverend, if I didn`t know
better, I would think John Boehner was a slow learner. When he went
through all that stuff he went through last year and brought the country to
all that chaos, you would think he would not want to do that get in an
election year. Except for the fact that they decided that the best way to
beat the president is to create chaos, don`t solve any problems, makes a
mess everywhere you can, throw everybody under the bus you can get a hold
of, anything that will prevent Barack Obama from being re-elected.

John Boehner does not care about the people of the United States. If he
did, he would never be talking about threatening him again, and threatening
the recovery that`s going on in this country.

SHARPTON: Now, the fact that the congressional approval rating fell to a
then record low after the last debt ceiling fight. Only 13 percent
approved of congress last August. So, I mean, he is not even doing well
for his own colleagues.

MCDERMOTT: No, you know if you think about it, he is going into an
election where he has to elect some of these folks that he has drug back
and forth through the mud on his own side for these silly vote that don`t
go anywhere and make them look bad. There a tax on women and a tax on all
kinds of things, on science, where ever you look, he dragged them through
this, and now he is going to say go out and get yourself reelected. He has
been no help whatsoever to them. And I think he is going to wind up asking
Mrs. Pelosi, would she please take the gavel from the next January.

SHARPTON: Now, he is not by himself because Paul Ryan was on CNBC
yesterday. And he was asked about whether he compromised. And this is
what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE ANCHOR: You got to give up something, you can`t have a
deal just by saying this is my position.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: So look, I`m not interested in negotiating
with myself on television, that futile in my opinion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, we see that the speaker, has said, after the meeting,
President Obama spokesman says he doesn`t want a replay of last summer`s
fight, but Boehner`s office had a much different take. He says, the
speaker told the president quote, "as long as I`m here - as long as I`m
around here, I`m not going to allow a debit ceiling increase without doing
something serious about the debt."

But, at the same Congressman, Boehner could be trying to use a debt limit
as a bargaining tool because on January 1st, the Bush tax cuts expire and
$500 billion in defense cuts will start to go into effect. Is that what
they`re after trying to raise some kind of bargaining chip on this?

MCDERMOTT: My feeling is, Al, they have created the perfect storm. They
have all of those tax cuts. They got all of those cuts in the military.
They got all of the discretionary cuts in the budget, all coming due along
with this debt crisis at the same time right around the election.

And I believe they really have no interest in anything but capturing the
White House. Boehner became the chief spokesman for the Romney team to get
Romney elected. He simply has given up dealing with what`s best for the
American people.

SHARPTON: Can you fight them? Can something be done to stop this?

MCDERMOTT: We`ll keep talking about it, and let the people - the people
will make the decision ultimately. I trust the American people to look at
this and say why is he creating chaos again this year, the same as he did
last year?

You know, the definition of mental illness is doing the same thing over and
over and expecting a different result. He expects he is going to get some
different result this time, and he is not. He is going to have chaos.

SHARPTON: Congressman Jim McDermott, thanks for your time tonight.

MCDERMOTT: You`re welcome.

SHARPTON: Ahead, Sarah Palin has been a little quiet recently, but what
she is doing behind the scenes has her party on alert.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back to "Politics Nation."

Mitt Romney loves a lot of things. He loves his money. He loves his
family, and he loves his presidents.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Bill Clinton announced that the era of big government was over.

Even Jimmy Carter would have given that order.

Ronald Reagan`s famous word --

One of Missouri`s greatest sons Harry Truman --.

That we have since Hoover.

Abraham Lincoln --

Teddy Roosevelt --

Dwight Eisenhower --

John Adams, JFK and FDR, they even link --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Yes, the great LBJ, and don`t forget Harry Truman. You give him
hair, Harry. He even got John Adams in there. But, he just can`t seem to
remember the guy who came before President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I find it incomprehensible that a president can come to office and
call his predecessor`s record irresponsible and unpatriotic. And then, do
almost nothing to fix it.

You see, he was very critical of his predecessor for the debts the
predecessor put in place. He was very critical of his predecessor because
the predecessor put together $4 trillion of debt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Predecessor -- his name is George W. Bush. Folks, isn`t that
weird? Well, not so much. After all, Bush did have the highest
disapproval rating of any president in Gallup history, higher than Nixon.
Yes, that Nixon, the one who resigned in disgrace.

Well, I guess that makes sense, he did get us into two wars that were not
paid for. He left us with all of that massive debt because on the Bush tax
cut, the same debt that Willard won`t stop talking about.

But let`s not feel bad for George W. Bush. This summer, he plans to
publish a book, outlining strategies for economic growth. That`s right.
Coming soon, you too can soak in all of Bush`s economic knowledge. You can
buy the secrets to his economics strategy.

I wonder if Willard will buy the book.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

AL SHARPTON, HOST, MSNBC LIVE: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION, we have a
lot of balls in the air today when it comes to politics, we`re looking at
the likeability and endorsements, and even the aliens. That`s right,
aliens.

Joining me now to go through it all, is Jamal Simmons, democratic
strategist and national democratic editor for GoVote.com. And Maria Teresa
Kumar, executive director of Voto Latino and an MSNBC contributor. Thanks
for joining me tonight.

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, VOTO LATINO: Thank you for having me, Reverend.

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Thanks for having me.

SHARPTON: Let`s get started with our first topic. Voting for Mr.
Popularity. How much will likeability matter in deciding the election?
President Obama showed off his ability to connect yesterday on "The View,"
taking a pop culture quiz from Joy Behar.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOY BEHAR, HOST, "THE VIEW": Let`s see what you have been reading.
Number one, which Kardashian was married for only 72 days?

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: Now, it would be Kim.

BEHAR: Very good.

(APPLAUSE)

OK. OK. Now, this one you may not know. I`m hoping that you don`t
as a matter of fact. What`s the controversial sex book that`s on million
of women`s bedside tables.

OBAMA: I don`t know that one.

BEHAR: Good, OK, next.

OBAMA: But I`ll ask Michelle when I get home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: A new Gallup poll shows the President has a two to one
margin over Mitt Romney when it comes to likability. But Jamal, does that
matter or will it just bow down to the economy and jobs? I mean, we`ve
seen it. Clinton was more likeable than his opponent and Dole. And Bush
seems to be more likable than Kerry. Does this really matter or will it
come down to the economy and jobs?

SIMMONS: You know, Reverend. It also helps when the President has
somebody like Michelle Obama that he can drop in the mix because she`s more
powerful than all of them. But, you know, likeability is important. But
really the issue is about trust. Likeability is a part of that. People
want to know that the President is sitting in a room with nobody else
around watching them. He`s going to make a decision for their families
that they can trust what that decision is going to be. And the reason why
Bush was able to beat Kerry was because people at the end were not quite
sure what John Kerry was going to do. That was the flip-flop thing. And
we`re seeing that right now with our current republican nominee because
people just don`t have a bid on this guy. They don`t know where it is and
wants to do.

SHARPTON: So, do you think the beer test is really over estimated in
terms of how voters will react Teresa, or is it about as Jamal says, trust,
or is it about the economy and jobs.

KUMAR: Well, I think it`s definitely likeability. I think you do
want to pass the beer test. And I say that because when you start talking
about presidents and whether pop culture matters at all, what you want is a
president that also understands your values. Something that always comes
to mind is when George senior went into the super market and didn`t know
what a scanner was. What is that meant, that basically signal to voters
that he didn`t understand basic issues that voters were actually
encountering. So, the more that Obama could play into the pop-culture in
the accessibility and the more Mitt keeps up his guard, it is actually a
win for Obama. And the Obama campaign, what I would actually encourage
them to do is to continue basically playing up Mitt Romney as a tycoon who
is simply out of touch and just use a lot of his words against him.
Because right now, Mitt is having a hard time identifying with everyday
folks.

SHARPTON: All right. Let`s go to the next topic. The Godfather
makes an endorsement that Mitt Romney can`t refuse. Remember Herman Cain,
we remember Cain mostly for his singing and other notable phrases during
the campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HERMAN CAIN (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Imagine there`s no
pizza.

When they ask me who is the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-stan-stan,
I`m going to say, you know, I don`t know.

First of all, 9- 9-9.

We`re putting in 9-9-9.

Nine-nine-nine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now today, Cain attended a Tea Party conference in
Washington and finally publicly joined team Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HERMAN: Today, I want to formally endorse Governor Mitt Romney for
president of the United States of America. My endorsement evolved.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And it sure has evolved. Back in January, Cain made his
first endorsement throwing his support to quote, "the people." A week
later he endorsed Newt Gingrich. Now he settled on Willard. Maria, I wish
he would sing it. First, I was the people, then -- I mean, it would be
better. But anyway, Maria, is this what party unity looks like?

KUMAR: I don`t know. I mean, first -- her citizenship. You have
newly basically talks about moon colonies, and then you have Herman Cain
with all his -- endorsing Mitt Romney. I don`t know if he wants, if he
wants these endorsements in the first place. I think if anything, it
demonstrates that Mitt Romney is the presidential nominee for the
Republican Party because they rejected everybody else in the game. And
what Mitt Romney really needs to do is figure out, how does he coalesce the
Tea Party who he doesn`t have as a base? And a lot of the other GOP come
with a convention. And what`s happening is that, because the Tea Party is
going to vive for a voice at the convention, he might unify the Republican
Party way too late for him and that`s a danger that he definitely has.

SHARPTON: Well, Jamal, is the message unity, because I don`t know if
any of these guys really bring a lot of votes with them at this point.

SIMMONS: Well, the message has got to be unity. And Rev, I know I`m
going to my class reunion down in Warehouse (ph) this weekend, speak at the
Baccalaureate Service. So, I have to be a little bit careful because we
probably will see Mr. Herman Cain down there this weekend, but I think his
endorsement has about as much weight as a thin crust pizza, I don`t think
it matters very much at all in this campaign.

SHARPTON: For the last topic, let`s go to space now. Let`s go to
our last topic in outer space, what about the aliens, that`s what Will
Smith`s son Jaden asked the President when they visited the White House
recently. Smith talked about it on a British radio show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILL SMITH, ACTOR: The night before Jada had said to me, dad, I got
to ask the President about the aliens. You know, I was like, dude, no, no,
it`s not cool. Jada says, excuse me, Mr. President -- and Barack Obama
says, don`t tell me in perfect form like this is why he is the President,
he stopped and looked at Jada and said, the aliens, right? And he said,
OK, I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of extraterrestrials but I
can tell you, if there had been a top secret meeting and if there would
have had would been a discussion it, it would have taken place in this
room.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Jamal, if you were a little kid, would you ask the
President about aliens?

SIMMONS: Absolutely. Absolutely. What other chance do you have to
signify the President of the United States and ask him one of the most
burning questions Americans want to know, are there aliens?

SHARPTON: But Maria-Teresa, the real answer is how did the President
know what he was going to ask. Maybe aliens talked to the President and
the President didn`t deny it? What is that mean?

KUMAR: I think that he and the aliens and maybe his kids are very
attuned to what young people want and what to hear. And the fact that he
was had so much fun with Will`s son and would able to communicate say, hey,
you know, what? It`s kind of like there might be a center or not, but he
doesn`t ruin the dream by being so direct, but just keeping that kind of
window of a cloud over the issue, I think that makes it fun.

SHARPTON: That`s why I like having you on, you go right back to where
we started, likeability. Jamal Simmons, Maria Teresa Kumar, thank you both
for your time tonight.

KUMAR: Thank you so much, Reverend.

SIMMONS: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, Sarah Palin`s been a little quiet recently. But
what she has been doing behind the scenes has her party on alert, that`s
next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Still ahead he marched for justice with Dr. King, and more
than 50 years later he is still on the front lines of the civil rights
movement, my conversation with Reverend Dr. Joseph Lowery, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back on POLITICS NATION with a simple question. Who
actually runs the Republican Party? This is actually a serious question.
I know that Mitt Romney is going to be the nominee, and I know that John
Boehner is the speaker, but who actually has the power? Could it be the
Mama Grizzly? Last night Sarah Palin`s pick for the Nebraska Senate
primary, a total long shot candidate beat GOP candidate backed by the -- of
Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, and Jim DeMint. Palin and a last minute
flood of outside money gave a win to a dark horse candidate, and it`s not
Palin`s only victory this season. Her pick in Indiana`s GOP Senate primary
manage to oust the sixth term republican incumbent. Despite the backing of
GOP heavy hitters like Mitch Daniels and John McCain and Harley Barbour.
Again, Palin`s candidate beat the establishment. Palin may not be running
for president, but she is still picking winners and losers. And it is
exactly what she said she would do when she decided not to run.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: I believe I can be an
effective voice in a real decisive role in helping get true public servants
elected to office, not just in the President seat, but we have 33 Senate
seats coming up. You don`t need a title to make a difference in this
country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So, she`s wielding power by avoiding actually
responsibilities. Maybe that`s what she wanted all along.

Joining me now is Dana Milbank, columnist for The Washington Post.
Thanks for joining me tonight.

DANA MILBANK, THE WASHINGTON POST: Good evening, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Dana, is Sarah Palin still a force to be reckoned within
the Republican Party?

MILBANK: Well, she is a forth to be reckoned with in Reverend in the
Tea Party which he has basically taken over at the Republican Party. So, I
think that`s a fair thing to say. Particularly in states like Nebraska.
You have to realize you`re dealing with a very small slice of the elector
rate in these republican primaries. But she was very clever about this.
She saw this candidate rising, came in there at the last minute, pushed her
over the top, and now she is getting josanas from Al Sharpton.

SHARPTON: Well, she`s getting recognition, I`m a little more careful
with my josanas. But let me say this. You`re right about the Tea Party
angle, because in 2010, her endorsement skewed towards anti-establishment
types. She backed 4 1 Tea Party Republicans but only 23 establishment
Republicans. So clearly, they have to be concerned about her with the Tea
Party. But at the same time, as a power player, she is still very
unpopular nationally. Charts show that she started out in 2008 with a
decent favorability number. She saw a big drop leading up to a 2008
election, and steadily watched her un-favorability rise and favorability
drop. The most recent polls put at 58 percent unfavorable, 28 percent
favorable. So, I guess the establishment has to deal with Tea Party
popularity but in a general election has to worry about, she comes with a
double edge.

MILBANK: I think that`s right, Reverend. I mean, we still talk about
republican establishment here in Washington. Basically, the Tea Party has
hijacked the establishment in much of this country. The three candidates
in this race were all Tea Party candidates at some extent even the ones who
stayed office holders. So,really the establishment is the Tea Party in
places like this. That`s where Sarah Palin is strong, and that`s why she
is smart to say rather than run for elective office, she`s certainly not
going to win on the national level with numbers like that, she can
influence the party and shape it to her liking, then she has a whole lot of
credits built up with people in the Senate, people in the House with
Governors, and she can wield this power in a quiet way without, you know,
having to rely on the majority support of the country.

SHARPTON: But doesn`t she have a point though. I mean, she is
picking winners and people do come out for her and she is helping with
turnout, so you can`t just dismiss her.

MILBANK: No, I think you would be crazy to dismiss her. I would
dismiss her as a plausible national election candidate. But look, she is
obviously a rainmaker within the party and within that move, and she is
able to do what she wants, give speeches, be a commentator, and yet have
the trappings of power without having to answer for it. It`s really, you
know, it`s a pretty good work if you can get it.

SHARPTON: Now, do you think she will work for Romney? Let me frame
while I`m asking you that. At CPAC this year, she talked about how the
republican nominee needed to be instinctively conservative in nature.
Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN: Our nominee must be ready, strong, fortified, passionate, a
fighter for American ideals. Our candidate must be someone who can
instinctively turn right to constitutional conservative principals. It`s
too late in the game to teach it or to spin it at this point. It`s either
there or it isn`t.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: She`s listed a lot of qualities, and then she got Willard.
Will she go for Romney? And is she a plus or minus for him if she does.

MILBANK: Yes, Reverend. I wonder which candidate she was talking
about there. Look, I don`t think you`re going to expect the full Grizzly
roar from Sarah Palin for Mitt Romney, but she wants to be in a position of
looking like, that she`s not dooming his candidacy. She doesn`t want to be
blame for if he losses. But she also wants to be in a position say, I told
you so, we got to go with a more conservative next time. So, I don`t think
you`ll going to hear that kind of outride opposition but the support will
be rather top it.

SHARPTON: Dana Milbank, thanks for your time tonight.

MILBANK: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Coming up, nearly 50 years after marching with Dr. King,
he`s still on the front lines of the civil rights movement. I talked to
the Dean, Reverend Dr. Joseph Lowery. Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REV. DR. JOSEPH LOWERY, FOUNDER, SCLC: We ask you to help with --
when blacks will not be asked to get back. When brown can stick around.
When yellow will be mellow. When the red man can get ahead, man. And when
white will embrace what is right. Let all of those who do justice and love
mercy say amen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That`s the Reverend Dr. Joseph Lowery giving the
benediction at the historic inauguration of Barack Obama. Reverend Lowery
is known as the dean of the civil rights movement, a founding member of the
Southern Christian leadership conference with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Reverend Dr. Lowery has led someone the most important events in civil
rights history. The 1963 march on Washington, freedom rides challenging
laws across the Jim Crowe south, and the 1965 march for voting rights. And
at 90 years old, he is still making an impact. This year, he joined us as
we kicked off from his rally. His annual event commemorating the voting
rights march as we marched and reenacted the steps in Selma in Montgomery
this year, aimed at new voter suppression.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LOWERY: One of the things we cannot ever been in this crowd, and not
understand, is holy ground. And we are here understanding that we are sent
on a holy mission.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And just this week, he and I joined other civil rights
leaders in supporting brother President Obama`s stand on same sex marriage
with other brothers and sisters into the movement. Sixty years into the
struggle, he is still on the frontlines fighting for rights for the
powerless. Giving a voice to the voiceless. And standing not for one, but
for all.

Joining me now, Reverend Dr. Joseph Lowery, it`s really an honor to
have you with us tonight, Dr. Lowery.

LOWERY: It`s my honor, I`m happy to be here with you.

SHARPTON: Why do you take a position supporting the president on this
issue of same-sex marriage? Certainly you have every honor that one can
have, and yet you still step out in the forefront with issues that you know
will raise controversy and questions.

LOWERY: Well, frankly, I couldn`t imagine myself denying a right to
my neighbor, my fellow citizen, that I enjoy myself. So, I don`t think you
can say we believe in equal rights for some people, but not for others. I
think that`s what they call an oxymoron. I think we have, if you believe
in equal rights, you help grant them to all of the people. I`d simply
could not imagine myself saying to someone, I have a right, but I would not
permit you to enjoy. I have to give it to everybody if I give it to
anybody. That`s what Dr. King meant when he said, injustice anywhere
breeds injustice everywhere.

SHARPTON: Now, you know many church leaders have taken a different
position on this issue, particularly even in the black church but you see
this as a civil rights issue.

LOWERY: I do. I think basically it`s a civil rights issue. It`s
under the law that we have the right to affect a union, a covenant, a
relationship, a marriage if you will. Between two consenting people.

SHARPTON: Now, we also are dealing with the threat of voter rights
with the voter ID laws. Every year, Mrs. Evelyn Lowery and you convene us
at Edmund Pettus Bridge where you among other leaders lead the original 65
march. This year, voter ID, we left your gathering and reenacted as you
done many times the walk from Selma to Montgomery around voter ID, voter
suppression. As one of those that walked shoulder to shoulder and shared
the board for Dr. King of SCLC, how do you view these threats to voter
rights and view voter suppression in 2012?

LOWERY: Well, I do want to inject politics here. But they became
popular, these ID laws and regulations under the republican
administrations. And they insist on that raising the question about fraud,
voter fraud, and I guess their suggesting that people vote twice, or vote
more than once. And I tell you, I wish I could find some African-Americans
who are guilty of voting twice. We have a devil of a time every year,
every election getting them to vote once, let alone twice. So, I think the
issue of voter fraud is a smoke screen to give the people who are in power
increased opportunity to remain there.

SHARPTON: You walked hand in hand with Dr. Martin Luther King, did
the inaugural benediction for President Barack Obama. You received the
highest citizen`s award in this country, just celebrated your 90th
birthday, what is your proudest moment Dr. Lowery?

LOWERY: Well, you mean other than my family, I guess joining Barack
Obama on the stage there in January of `09. It has to rate way up there
with anything that happened to me, in-spite of the fact that I can go back
through the voting right marches through the time, that my wife was shot
into the car -- in Alabama when we were trying to defend a young retarded
man who could not ride a bike and yet they were accusing him of driving a
car, and committing a rape. I could go back to -- people would have come
to, I was passing through the airport and now saw last year. And a young
man came up to me and said, hey, you don`t know me, but I`m in law school
because of you and something you did that inspired me.

Those are precious moments, but I think I have to say that it`s
hardly anything that could surpass standing on the capitol steps and
looking across the mall and seeing the Lincoln memorial, and Washington
monument and being reminded that I was there to celebrate the inauguration
of the first African-American president. I just -- it just seems like
yesterday when 1965, and Martin asked me to take the demands of the Selma
to Montgomery march to Governor Wallace. He seems just like yesterday that
I was saying, hear our demands. We demand the right to vote, and then we
raise a question. Will we ever see a black president? And most of us said
there will be one, but we probably won`t see it. And there I was on the
steps not only witnessing the inauguration of the first African-American
president, but participating in the process. So that it would be hard to
top that. It`s hard to top that.

SHARPTON: Well, Dr. Joseph Lowery. We thank you for your time
tonight. And God knows we thank you for your services down through the
years.

LOWERY: Well, thank you for having me, and thank you for what you
do. I`m proud of your work that keeps this country abreast of the
struggles and the history of the movement, and the future that we still
have to build for ourselves and this country. And I`m hoping that God will
continue to bless you as you carry on that work.

SHARPTON: Thank you Dr. Lowery.

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

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
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