PoliticsNation, Thursday, May 17, 2012
Read the transcript from the Thursday show
Guests: Dana Milbank; Emanuel Cleaver; Brandon Schaffer, Steny Hoyer, Judith Browne-Dianis, Tamika Mallory, Steve Kornacki, Erin McPike
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Welcome to "Politics Nation." I`m
Tonight`s lead, fear and loathing from the campaign trail. For
decades, the Republican party has thrived on tearing down Democrats in
presidential elections. Today, the GOP may be writing an ugly new chapter
in their long history of fear and smear.
We start in 1988 with the attack add against Michael Dukakis. And we
saw it again in 2004 with the sweep voting of John Kerry. The party has
run entire campaigns on character assassination. But the latest effort,
it`s about more than just winning an election. It`s about dehumanizing
Today, the "New York times" reveals that some top Republican
strategist presented a 54-page proposal to conservative billionaire Joe
Rickets entitled quote, "the defeat of Barack Hussein Obama." It plans to
lead the president, once again, to Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and to quote,
"Do exactly what John McCain would not let us do in 2008." The plan
suggests hiring a quote, "extremely literate conservative Africa-American
to sell the message. The proposed who labeled the president as a Metro-
sexual black Abe Lincoln. It recommends hitting Barack right between the
eyes. It goes so far as the list of team of pirates who would qualify to
carry out the mission. It`s a shocking document exposed on the front page
of "the New York Time." Millions read the story in print and online or
heard about it on TV. Yet by 10:57 this morning, the GOP nominee didn`t
know anything about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Got to get going. Looks
like breakfast is served.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Yes. Hop in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Sir, have you seen the report in the
times this morning?
ROMNEY: Haven`t seen the papers this morning.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Governor, do you think Reverend Wright
is off limits in this campaign?
ROMNEY: I`ll be right back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Get a copy of the Times.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Then come back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: We have a copy you can borrow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Apparently someone got a copy of the paper too, Romney
because a few hours later he came out to say he condemned the attack plan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I read the article on the aircraft. As I read the article, I
want to make it clear I repudiate that effort. I think it`s the wrong
course for a pack or campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: You repudiate it? That`s interesting because just two
months ago you seemed happy to use exactly this kind of attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I think, again, that the president takes his philosophical
leanings in this regard, not from those who are believers in various
states, but instead from those that would like to see America more secular.
And I`m not sure which is worse, him listening to Reverend Wright or him in
saying that we must be a less Christian nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: How about that? Romney was asked about this seeming
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I`m actually, you know, I`m not familiar precisely with
exactly what I said, but I stand by what I said whatever it was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: He stands by what he said, whatever it was. This was
another test of leadership for the Republican nominee, and another failure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I`m not familiar precisely by what I said, but I stand by
what I said whatever it was. I stand by what I said whatever it was. I
stand by what I said whatever it was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Joining me is Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, Democrat from
Missouri and chairman of the congressional black caucus, and Dana Milbank,
opinion writer for the Washington Post.
Thank you both for joining me this evening.
REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D), MISSOURI: Good evening, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Congressman, let me start with you. What do you make of
Romney`s quote, "repudiation" of this proposal?
CLEAVER: Well, in one sense, I feel sorry for Mr. Romney. I think he
is probably a good and decent man who is just confused. He doesn`t know
who he is or quite what he believes.
But, the most dangerous thing about him saying that he stands by what
he said previously is, that it seems he could be setting up what could
happen down in the future. In another words, when this super PAC comes out
with this nasty protest TV ads, he can say well, you know, I condemned it
earlier, while at the same time getting the extreme side of his party, you
know, cheering it.
And I hope -- I have not pray on this, but I hope and I guess I should
pray that most Americans would like to smother their prejudices rather than
airing them. And Mr. Romney may think that going after Reverend Wright is
right, but I think many Americans are going to think it`s wrong and this
SHARPTON: Now Dana, I think the whole debate of Reverend Wright or
religion, I think we went through that four years ago, everyone knows where
the president stands. I think this was more geared trial to trying to
bring race and really dehumanize the president. I think the particulars
are not as important. And the proposal itself makes this seem like a much
However, I must say that Rickets has said he is not going to do it.
He turned it down. It`s merely a proposal that he rejects. But the fact
that these major strategists would go and try and bring this plan about
shows some very insidious political maneuvering that really wants to
dehumanize this president.
DANA MILBANK, OPINION WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, right,
Reverend. On the one hand, the race behaving aspect of it is outrageous.
But more than that, this is just politically a profoundly stupid idea.
Fred Davis, the guy that came up with this genius proposal was the guy
that wants Kristine O`Donnell, remember in O`Donnell senate race to say, to
do an ad saying I`m not a witch. We know exactly how of his wacky ideas
have worked out.
You see it blowing up today with Joe Rickets, the guy is going to bank
roll this, backing away from it. He doesn`t want - he is the owner of the
Chicago cats. He doesn`t want this kind of controversy. Romney doesn`t
want this kind of controversy.
SHARPTON: After he was told about it about noon, but go ahead.
MILBANK: Right. But, the reason -- leaving the race aside, they
don`t want this because it`s not going to work. It`s not as if Barack
Obama, somebody nobody has heard of. He is the incumbent president. They
tried this to some extent last time.
Everybody knows President Obama now. He has high favorable ratings.
He is personally popular. They are not going to be able to spend $10
million and redefine him in a way that they were able to last time.
So, they`re backing away from it because it`s explosive, because it
will have a backlash, and the potential for success here is so low because
Obama is already defined in the eyes of Americans.
SHARPTON: But, before we back away too quickly, Mr. Chairman. The
fact of the matter is the fact that it is even proposed. Means that Mr.
Romney may have a problem because there`s segment of his party, they wants
to play this, and I just played a tape where he, himself, Willard Mitt
Romney himself referred to Reverend Wright in the context of the president
just not long ago on a radio show.
So, before we give them all of this back away room, Romney has brought
up Wright himself.
CLEAVER: That`s absolutely correct. And I`m not backing away,
because I think they already achieved their objective, and that is they
have thrown race into this election already. You know, he can deny it all
he wants. The truth of the matter is it`s out there. And it is food for a
portion of his voting black that thinks this is OK.
Hopefully it`s a very small group. But, they have succeeded in doing
this. And it doesn`t take much paranoia to conclude this is intentional.
That there is great intentionality in saying I denounce it and then later
saying anything I said I support. It smells bad, and I think that think
that bringing race for president has already been done, this was it.
SHARPTON: Now, Dana, as much as they`re saying they are not going
with it, they denounce it, the proposal itself, according to page 46, seem
to give the perception they had preliminarily approved it. It says with
your prelim ensure approval at the New York meeting, we have discussed this
plan. We`re ready to jump into action upon plan approval. It sounds to me
like there was some kind of understanding in some New York meeting.
MILBANK: Well, Reverend, certainly the very nature of this indicates
this, you know, this lengthy glossy report indicates that it was more than
just come random brainstorm. And I think it is correct that this succeeded
in bringing race into the discussion right now. These guys were hoping to
blow up the democratic convention closer to the fall by distracting people
with this sudden burst.
So yes, they succeeded in injecting race into it right now, but not in
a way that they were hoping to, in a way that it is causing already, we can
see this sort of backlash. It may have riled up the more sinister elements
on the right, but it`s also rallying up a lot of Obama supporters. And it
is going to offend of independence who seen that people are even
considering a sort of that.
SHARPTON: Well, but Dana, do they really think they need to do this?
I mean, we have gone through the Willy Horton, with Dukakis, we have seen
John Kerry swift boated, I mean, is this the way that as element in any way
of the Republican party wants to run this race? Not about jobs, not about
the economy, not about health care, but this kind of ugliness to the
president of the United States?
MILBANK: There is an element in the party that is going to - that
wants to run every race in this particular way. But, you can`t run this
kind of race against an incumbent president. They could make a fair
comment on his record. That`s what Romney clearly wants to do, but this is
not a direction they want to be taking things in.
SHARPTON: Chairman Cleaver, the fact that these guys can get this
close to a preliminary understanding where people with big money, given the
way the rules have changed about money this year. Does this make us at
least have a need to stay on high alert on what can happen now? Because
we`re not playing with the same rules we used to play with. Any
billionaire can come with somebody`s kind of poison.
CLEAVER: Well, we thought that this kind of thing was in our distant
and dark past, you know, this country obviously. It`s not the people who
still carry some of these (INAUDIBLE) ideas with regard to race.
But, what I would say to the people of good will in the United States,
the majority of the people, be offended. Be offended. And be on the
lookout for subliminal injections of race, hence fort, until the convention
is over and maybe until the election is over. This is what a small group
of Americans are thinking about and we have got to squash it. And so,
everyone who is of good will, be offended, be very offended.
SHARPTON: Well, we`re going to be watching and I`m out of time.
I wanted to ask you Dana, what you thought of a presidential candidate
that had not seen the front page "New York times" by late morning show.
MILBANK: They will be watching it first.
SHARPTON: We will have some other time.
Congressman Emanuel Cleaver and Dana Milbank, thanks.
CLEAVER: Thanks, Reverend.
MILBANK: Good to be with you, Revered.
SHARPTON: The right-wing derangement over President Obama goes far
beyond his new plan of attack. We`ll tell you about a Republican member of
Congress who says the president is quote, "not an American."
Plus, Joe Biden is back on the road smacking down Willard`s claim that
he should get credit for saving the auto industry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He said quote, "I`ll
take a lot of credit for the fact that the industry has come back." And by
the way, I`ll take a lot of credit for a man having landed on the moon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: You are watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.
SHARPTON: A sitting member of Congress is now saying he misspoke
after being caught on tape saying President Obama is just not an American.
I don`t believe him. And I`m not misspeaking. That`s next.
SHARPTON: Welcome back.
Over the weekend, Republican Congressman Mike Coffman of Colorado was
at a fundraiser giving a speech when he unloaded this one about the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE COFFMAN (R), COLORADO: I don`t know whether Barack Obama
was born in the United States of America or not. I don`t know that. But I
do know this, that in his heart, he is not American. He is just not an
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: He is just not an American. That`s the direct quote. Five
days later, a recording wound up on a Denver news station, and all of a
sudden, he now says it was all just a big misunderstanding. Quote, "I
misspoke, and I apologize I have confident in President Obama`s citizenship
and legitimacy as president of the United States. However, I don`t believe
the president shares my belief in American exceptionalism."
The real translation, I`m sorry I got caught. But, as shocking as
this comment is, coming from a sitting member of congress, these kinds of
comments are not new.
MICHELE BACHMANN (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I absolutely --
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST, HARDBALL: You think Barack Obama has
Absolutely, I`m very concerned he may have anti-American views.
BACHMANN: Absolutely. I`m very concern that he may have an anti-
REP. CLIFF STEARNS (R), FLORIDA: I can tell you that the general
consensus is that he has produced a birth certificate, the question is, is
VICKY HATZLER (R), MISSOURI: I have a lot of doubts about all of
that, but I don`t know. I haven`t seen it.
BACHMANN: Our opponent seeing America as imperfect enough to paddle
around with terrorist.
REP. ALLEN WEST (R), FLORIDA: I`m sick and tired of this class
warfare, this Marxist demagogic rhetoric that is coming from the president
of the United States of America.
ROMNEY: The president doesn`t have the same feelings about American
exceptionalism that we do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: And now, we can add Congressman Coffman to the hall of
shame. This kind of talk is unacceptable. And where is the GOP leadership
to condemn it?
Joining me now is Colorado state senator Brandon Shaffer, whose
president of the Colorado state senate.
STATE SEN. BRANDON SHAFFER (D), COLORADO: State senator, thank you
for being here tonight.
Hey, thanks for having me on.
SHARPTON: What`s your take on the congressman`s comments?
SHAFFER: You know, Reverend, I`m offended. But unfortunately I`m not
surprised, you know. He was at an event with Congressman Gardener who
happens to be a gentleman I`m running against in the fourth congressional
district, and Congressman Gardener in 2010 made very similar comments
questioning the president`s patriotism and his citizenship. So it`s not
something that`s new.
Unfortunately on what you see id the Republican party pandering to the
tea party very extreme elements within the Republican party. And willing
to say one thing to that extreme element, but then, when they get caught,
as you said, they backtrack and they try to move back to the center.
What we need are representatives in Washington, D.C. who are willing
to stand up for what they believe in. Now unfortunately, I don`t think
that`s what we`re seeing with Representative Coffman or Representative
Gardener in this case.
SHARPTON: Now, just for people around the country to know Coffman`s
resume. He was elected to Congress in 2008. Supports the personhood
amendment, calls Social Security a Ponzi scheme, supports the Ryan plan and
wants English only ballots for voters.
Also, included in his apology, he said, quote, "President Obama`s
policies reflect a philosophy that America is but one nation among many
equals." The statement read as a marine, I believe America is unique and
based on a core center of principals that make it superior to other
So, clearly he talks way to the right. Moon walks back to the center
when he was caught, but this kind of shrill talking is the thing that
concerns many of us that we have going to go through a season of this going
into this reelection campaign.
Senator, is your fear in Colorado that people like Coffman are going
to get an audience? Tell me, do you share my fear that we`re going to have
an ugly season here?
SCHAFFER: Well, let me start out by noting that I`m also a Navy
veteran, and I don`t think this is the example of leadership that I would
like to portray for our armed forces. And certainly, not what we need out
of a sitting member of congress.
But secondly, what we have seen here is a trend in the Republican
party where are Republican representatives are catering to the extreme
fringe groups of their own party. And they are totally and completely out
of touch with moderate values.
Here in Colorado, the moderate values that we all hold dearly are not
being represented by Representative Coffman or Gardener in Washington dc.
They are part of the problem, not part of the solution and we need some -
some serious changes there.
SHARPTON: State senator Brandon Chaffer, thanks for your time
Still ahead --
SCHAFFER: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Still ahead, Democrats launch a strong new effort to
protect a basic right that is under assault in America today, the right to
Plus, on this day, in 1954, the Supreme Court took a huge step forward
for equal rights. We`ll talk about Brown verses the board of education and
the work that still is left to be done.
SHARPTON: Today, May 17th, is a May and a day in May to remember.
Fifty eight years ago today, the Supreme Court`s decision, Brown verses the
board of education, ended legal segregation in America`s public schools.
It began with 7-year-old Linda Brown, who in 1951 had to walk past the
school in her neighborhood, clear across down to the black school she was
forced to attend.
At the time, federal law mandated that schools be separate but equal.
Yet, school boards continually put fuel resources into the black schools.
The NAACP lead future Supreme Court Justice (INAUDIBLE) said enough and
took their case to the Supreme Court which ruled, on this day, that
separate but equal could never be equal.
Even after the Brown decision, it took nearly 30 years, protests and
more lawsuits, for some schools to be desegregated. Today, equal access to
education remains a key issue especially for people of color. Much more
needs to be done, but today, this day, we must remember how far we have
come, thanks to Linda Brown, the good marshal and the warriors that took a
stand against injustice.
SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION, in a democracy, there is
nothing more important than the right to vote. And it is certainly
precious to those segments of societies that have been denied the right to
vote. African-Americans, women, some that have come from other countries
and fought to get citizenship. So, as we saw a huge turnout in 2008, many
that are the product of those constituents and segments in this country,
were very happy to see the great turn out. But since then, there seems to
be a move to reverse that. Voter laws in 17 states changed since 2010.
They made voter ID laws saying that we need to stop fraud. But when we
look at the fact that in the national data, that we have been able to
achieve, voter ID and other forms of trying to suppress the vote, in my
judgment, is trying to find a problem. It is a solution looking for a
problem. Rather than a problem leading a solution.
Voter fraud convictions since 1997, 349 cases, or .00006 percent. So
what is the need for these strict voter ID laws to solve a fraud that is
not occurring? Now, am I just picking at little minor points? The fact is
that the Brennan Center has established that thanks to these efforts and
other suppression efforts more than five million Americans could be
disenfranchised. Five million. That can decide Congressional races, local
races, Senate races. It could decide the election of the president of the
United States. So, I couldn`t understand how we have come so far, and are
going to reverse our forward movement. I sat down even with Republicans
and said, explain this to me, there is no fraud. You`re risking millions
of voters, they could not answer, they could not give me a rationale,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, Representative Baxley, has there been widespread voter
fraud in Florida.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I don`t think we want to wait until voter fraud.
In the last three years, we`ve had three people convicted of voter fraud in
SHARPTON: Representative, you`re cracking jokes, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Not at all.
SHARPTON: Three people in three years. That`s one a year. How many
millions of people voted in those last two years?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Well, you know, I don`t know what the exact.
SHARPTON: How do you call that wide spread fraud?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Well, if you or the person who has been on the
receiving end of that fraud and it`s something very important.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: There has been voter fraud over the years in
SHARTPON: You just didn`t catch it.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Well, you don`t catch a lot of things happened.
SHARPTON: But to change the law, even though there is no.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Change the law another time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Joining me now is Representative Steny Hoyer, a democratic
whip from Maryland and one of the sponsors of the new voter empowerment act
unveiled today by House Democrats. Congressman, thanks for joining me
REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), MINORITY WHIP: Al, good to be with you.
Thank you very much.
SHARPTON: Last time, I saw you, two months ago, we were marching
across the bridge in Selma about voting rights and John Lewis and Mrs.
Kennedy. Today you did something about it. Tell me about this new bill
and what you`re introducing now.
HOYER: Well, as you know, John Lewis was our supporter, I mean, our
lead sponsor on this particular piece of legislation joined by an awful lot
of people on our side of the aisle representing majority groups and
representing majority groups. And what John Lewis and all of us is saying
is look, in America we ought to facilitate, encourage, and make easier
voting. Not doing what is happening in so many states, Al, trying to make
voting more difficult to do. We want to modernize registration, we want to
have a responsibility of the state and local subdivision to make sure that
voters on are the registration roles, make sure they are included. We want
to make sure that those with disabilities have access to the poles.
SHARPTON: You`ve also had with three million Americans were turned
away from the poles in the 2008 election. So this is a problem.
HOYER: It is an extraordinary problem. And one of the things we
deal with, as you know Al, I was the sponsor and drafter of the Help
America voter act in the 2008 election. And one of the things we did there
was to provide for provisional ballots. So that if somebody comes to the
polls, and the election officials, most of the home, you know, are
volunteers, good people trying to do their job, they`re volunteers and not
HOYER: And they may not be able to check on that particular day or
that particular hour, what we said is, OK, they will cast a provisional
ballot. That ballot will then be put aside, taken back to the election
office the next day or the day after and check. And if in fact that voter
is qualified, then that ballot needs to be counted.
SHARPTON: So, this sounds like it`s designed to really accommodate
making voting easier and more practical for people to exercise their vote
rather than to put up impediments to discourage people or make it so
complex that they just give up or they are in some way their voting rights
are interfered with.
HOYER: You know, Al. We`re very proud, you and I and all Americans,
very proud of this democracy. We`re proud of the fact that we`re the
world`s oldest constitutional democracy. And one of our responsibilities,
moral, ethical, legal, ought to be to make sure we facilitate, not impede,
a person`s ability to vote. Facilitate access, facilitate ease of
registration, facilitate getting on the roles and being able to cast their
vote. And America has a responsibility, as I said, moral, ethical, and
legal to make sure that every citizen can exercise that franchise.
SHARPTON: Congressman Steny Hoyer, the whip of the House Democrats,
thanks for your time this evening.
HOYER: You bet Al, thank you very much.
SHARPTON: Joining me now is Judith Browne-Dianis, co-director of the
Advancement Project, and Tamika Mallory, executive director of the National
Action Network, the civil rights organization. I founded more than 20
years ago. Thanks to both of you for being here.
TAMIKA MALLORY, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Judith, let me start with you. Your group was involved in
a non-citizen voter purge effort going on in Florida right now. Tell us
about this and how big of an impact could it have.
JUDITH BROWNE-DIANIS, CO-DIRECTOR, ADVANCEMENT PROJECT: That`s
right, thank you Reverend Sharpton. So, Florida is at its old tricks
again. This is dejavu. They have created a new list of people that they
plan to take off of the voter roles as a last minute scrub before the
election. What they did was that they matched driver`s license records to
the voter rolls to see who were the so-called non-citizens. But we know
that Florida has a history of doing this last minute before an election and
using lists that are flawed on so many different levels. So much so that
some of the election supervisors in Florida are refusing to do this. I
fought this in, you know, Advancement Project. We sued the state in 2000
for this same thing. For, you know, making up these flawed lists of so
called felons, and then in 2004, we had to do the same thing, go to the
Secretary of State and say, don`t use this bad list. And here we go again,
last minute efforts that are partisan efforts to get people of color off
the list before the election.
SHARPTON: Now, people are actually getting letters in the mail I
DIANIS: That`s right. It started off with about 1200. Now they`re
saying there are 180,000 people who are going to get letters that say, we
believe that you are not eligible to vote. And you have 30 days to respond
this letter or you are going to purge you from the roles. And again,
people have to come in and prove that they are citizens. This is all about
the last minute shenanigans that happen every four years, in the state of
Florida. And it`s going to spread, it looks like Michigan is looking at
doing the same thing.
SHARPTON: Tamika, it`s happening in Florida. Other states are
having different challenges with voter ID, other things that we feel is
really designed to suppress the vote. National Action Network, and I`m
going on a national tour around this. Why is happening and why is this
important to a civil rights move?
MALLORY: Well, it`s very important because first of all we need to
make sure that people are educated on the ground about these laws. They
need to know what do they have to have if they want to vote. When they
vote, they need to have certain things with them. The ID, they need to
know about early voting whether or not it has been limited or ended in
their state. So, National Action Network is going on a national tour in 20
plus cities across this country in the states where these laws are being
applied. We also started a 100,000 member drive. A campaign where the
resources from the drive will help us to deploy people into these states to
make sure that folks are educated on the ground. We need to make sure that
there are new voters being registered and that they have the information
that they need, so that there is no excuse for why they cannot be part of
the political process. We need to make sure that again people know exactly
what they have to have. How they can organize their own community to go
out and be, again, not disenfranchised. So, we need to make sure people
know what they need.
SHARPTON: Now, Judith, with your group on the ground in Florida,
what are people telling you as you go and deal with them? Are they
intimidated? Are they ready to fight? What is the mood of those that are
being targeted as alleged noncitizens?
DIANIS: People are ready to fight. We know that this particular was
just targeting Latino voters. And that, you know, basically the state is
saying that they`re suspicious of the fact that you might not be a citizen.
And people are fired up because we already found people who are actually
citizens who are on this list. So what we did, Advancement Project today
has urged the Department of Justice to get involved because the Department
of Justice can come in under the voting rights act, and make sure that the
state does not use this list. And so, people are fired up because they
know what this is about. It`s about this partisan effort, that it`s about
cutting off participation of those who turned out in record numbers in
2008, and that`s people of color, young people, and elderly voters.
SHARPTON: Now, Tamika, in National Action Network, a lot of the
leadership is young. You yourself is in your early 30s, there was a record
turnout of young voters in 2008, my fear is a lot of young voters will have
been taken off the books or don`t know the new requirements and will not be
able to vote this time. Is there going to be a concentration on this tour
and as you recruit new members to deal with young voters?
MALLORY: Absolutely, we`re going to colleges, even high school
students that are registered to vote. They need to know the laws, they
need to know what do you have to have, they need to have no excuse for why
they cannot go and be a part of the process. And while we are fighting the
laws in these states, at the same time you have to be educated, and so we
are going into this states and ensuring that people are organized and that
they are empowered.
SHARPTON: Judith Browne-Dianis and Tamika Mallory, thank you for
your time tonight and your work on this very important issue.
DIANIS: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Ahead, why is Willard Romney praising Bill Clinton on the
stump? I`m not sure it`s a winning strategy. And later, she went from
gospel choirs to the disco floors. We remember the legendary Donna
Summers, stay with us.
SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. Today, the Vice President
was at a Chevy auto factory in Ohio. Mocking Mitt Romney`s claim that he
of all people should get credit for the auto bailout.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VICE PRES. JOE BIDEN (D), UNITED STATES: Governor Romney seems to go
both ways now. He says, quote, "I`ll take a lot of credit for the fact
that the industry has come back." Whoa. I`ll -- by the way, I`ll take a
lot of credit for a man having landed on the moon, because although I was
in school, I rooted for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The Vice President also took aim at Romney`s record at Bain
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: That`s Romney economics. Two sets of rules, one for wealthy
investors, and the other for everybody else. If there`s a job, we create
wealth for the investors. If it creates jobs in the process, good. If it
cost all of the jobs in the process, OK. It`s to make sure their investors
get a return on their investment. But that`s not the job of a president of
the United States of America. The job is much bigger than that.
SHARPTON: Joining me now is Steve Kornacki, a political writer at
Salon.com, and an MSNBC contributor, and Erin McPike, reporter for Real
Clear Politics. Thank you both for being here.
ERIN MCPIKE, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Steve, the Vice President has hit Romney all week. They
must think this line of attack is effective especially in Rust Belt states.
STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM: Yes, I mean, all week and I think we`re
going to hear it all month and I think we`re going to hear it all the way
to November because I think the most essential thing for the Obama campaign
to do this year is to break sort of the instinctive mental association that
voters have between success in the business word and economic competence,
you know, in government. We have this tendency I think just sort of at
this people to look at somebody who has done well in the private sector and
say, well, they`ve got good business skills, they`ve got good leadership
skills, they understand how to make jobs. We could put that to work and,
you know, really get the economy going. You know from that stand point.
So, the job of the Obama campaign, you really see Biden may get there is to
say look, what he did in the business world, you cannot apply that to being
president of the United States, to setting economic policy for the country.
Because his job, you know, in business was to make money for a very select
group of people, and really the heck with everybody else.
SHARPTON: But Erin, also, isn`t it an added plus to the Obama people
to use Vice President Biden, especially in this Rust Belt states, because
he identifies and is really like a lot of the people that he is talking to
in those states, and they can look at themselves and him and see a guy that
comes out of their same kind of working class struggling background and
relate to what he is saying?
MCPIKE: That is certainly part of their strategy, to deploy Vice
President Biden throughout states like Ohio and Michigan and Wisconsin.
But the more important part is the message. And central to the Obama
campaign strategy in places like Ohio and Michigan is to talk about the
policy on the auto bailout, and how that did save jobs in places like upper
Ohio and throughout Michigan, where the general election will play out, and
where Mitt Romney thinks he could have an advantage by attracting some of
those working class voters. But this is the difference in the economic
message that we`re talking about. And by saying, with the auto bailout, we
saved part of the Ohio economy, the Obama campaign thinks that they have a
leg up on Mitt Romney.
SHARPTON: Now, talking about the message, Steve, the Vice President
today talked about how the economy works best, listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: We`re not anti-capitalist, it`s the system that built the
country. We hope investors do well. But you can`t build an economy,
economy of the future, and the only people that do well are the investors
and everybody else pays the price. You can`t do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Is that the message that`s going to resonate? We`re not
anti-capitalist, we`re not envious? Is really what he`s saying. But you
can`t have an economy where only the guys at the top are doing well.
KORNACKI: Right, and I think that`s sort of the fundamental point
they have to make here. Is that, you know, you can like rich people, you
can want people to get rich, you can`t want people to be millionaires, but
for people to become millionaires, for people to get rich, there needs to
be a middle class in this country, there needs to be a vibrant middle
class, you know a consumer class, people with purchasing power. People who
can spend money in the economy, and that helps everybody get ahead. And
they really have to kind of make that case. And I think that`s they`re
doing. And the other thing is, you know, look at the climate in which this
election is playing out. You know, this is post, you know, bailout, post-
2008 and not done America. And what we`re seeing widespread, you know,
pervasive pain in this country right now. Except there is that sort of a
super affluent elite that`s been insulated from it. That sort of investor
class that has made money and actually gotten richer while everybody else
is suffering. And so, that`s really the thing that the Obama team is
trying to do here is to connect Romney with that.
SHARPTON: Now, Erin, I notice something a little different. Willard
Romney on Wednesday, was actually invoking Bill Clinton, comparing him to
President Obama. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Almost a generation ago,
Bill Clinton announced that the era of big government was over. President
Obama tucked away the Clinton doctrine in his large drawer of discarded
ideas. Along with transparency and bipartisanship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: What`s the strategy there, Erin?
MCPIKE: Mitt Romney`s strategy is to attract lots of independents and
also centralist Democrats who may have been turned off by the President in
the last couple of years because, in large part, of how big the government
is. That`s not necessarily a fault of the Obama administration though,
because of course the government did grow under the Bush administration as
well. But President Clinton was seen as a very centralist democrat and
Mitt Romney needs some of those voters. Now, it is a gamble to invoke
President Clinton because obviously he supports the president and has been
campaigning for the president, and invoking President Clinton in a 2008
primary by what the Obama campaign did was a gamble as well because it sort
of unleashed the loose cannon part of Bill Clinton`s personality and
political persona, and Mitt Romney is sort of baiting that as well. So,
we`ll see how Bill Clinton responds to it, but I would imagine that Bill
Clinton would come out even more strongly for President Obama in the coming
SHARPTON: Well, maybe Steve, Romney didn`t read the paper that day,
that Bill Clinton was campaigning for President Obama. Erin McPike, Steve
Kornacki, thank you for your time.
MCPIKE: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Saying goodbye to the queen of disco, Donna Summer, that`s
SHARPTON: Donna Summer, the queen of disco whose songs became the
sound tracks to the `70s died today after a long struggle with cancer. She
was 63. She was born LaDonna Adrian Gaines in Dorchester, Massachusetts.
She went from the gospel choir to become the queen for disco floors
ushering in a new wave of music with her hit anthems racking up five
Grammies and a slew of chart toppers.
Her music was always on the radio, and she sold more than 100 million
records worldwide, but the multiplatinum selling artist didn`t have the
easiest life. She had struggles like many others, but she came out all
right, thanks to her faith. Her family remembered that today saying she
was quote, "A woman of many gifts, the greatest being her faith." We lost,
also, the godfather of go Go-Go Chuck Brown. As these artist go and get
their rest, let us not go through whatever their struggles may have been
personally. Let us thank them and God for the talents they used to give us
so many good times in our life. May they rest in peace.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton, "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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