Guests: Bob Shrum, Chip Saltsman, Steve Kornacki, Dana Milbank, Karen Bass, Maria Teresa Kumar, Franky Carrillo, Samuel Gross
AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Welcome to Politics Nation. I`m Al
Tonight`s lead, a troubling decision by the Mitt Romney campaign for
Folks, the Romney campaign`s defense of his work at Bain Capital is
veering into unacceptable territory. It`s something we need to talk about
tonight. And I want to start with a simple question. What is a lie?
According to Webster`s Dictionary, to lie is, quote, "to make an untrue
statement with intent to deceit." "To create a false or misleading
Romney`s campaign is now saying that criticizing his work at Bain is
the same thing as attacking the free market. That criticizing Romney is
like attacking capitalism itself. President Obama is against capitalism.
Last night, Governor Romney issued a statement saying, quote,
"President Obama confirmed today that he will continue his attacks on the
free enterprise system," end of quote. And today, his campaign held a
conference called to repeat that message.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JOHN SUNUNU (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: I am amazed at listening to
President Obama and Vice President Biden attacking free enterprise in
general. And their specific attacks on Bain. When you attack free
enterprise, you`re attacking the American way of life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: And there`s one big problem with this new message from
Romney. It`s not true. Not true at all. At best, it`s a distortion. Or
is just false. Knowingly false.
Let`s look at what President Obama has actually said about free
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The free market is the
greatest force for economic progress in human history. It`s led to a
prosperity and a standard of living unmatched by the rest of the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Does that sound like an attack on free enterprise? What
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I believe the free market is the greatest force for economic
progress in human history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The greatest force. How is that an attack on free
enterprise? What about this?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: From our first days as a nation, we have put our faith in free
markets and free enterprise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: In point of fact, President Obama has been making one
specific point about Romney`s record at Bain. That it was great for his
investors, but not appropriate preparation for someone who wants to be
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: My view of private equity is that, it is -- it is set up to
maximize profits. And that`s a healthy part of the free market. When
you`re president, as opposed to the head of a private equity firm, then
your job is not simply to maximize profits. Your job is to figure out how
everybody in the country has a fair shot.
If your main argument for how to grow the economy is, I knew how to
make a lot of money for investors, then you`re missing what this job is
about. That doesn`t -- it doesn`t mean you weren`t good at private equity.
But that`s not what my job is as president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: So when the Romney campaign comes out and accuses the
president of attacking free enterprise, they`re not being straight with
you. They`re not being honest. This is not a matter of he said-he said.
It`s a matter of what he said. And what he said is misleading.
I think it`s important for voters and for journalists covering this
campaign to examine this attack carefully and decide. Is this just regular
campaign back and forth, or is this attack something more troubling? Is it
an out and out lie that should be called out for what it is?
Joining me now is Democrats strategist Bob Shrum, former senior
adviser to John Kerry`s campaign. His column for "The Week" magazine is
about Romney and Bain. And Chip Saltsman, Republican strategist and former
campaign manager for Mike Huckabee.
Thank you both for joining me.
BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Glad to be here.
CHIP SALTSMAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Good to be with you.
SHARPTON: Bob, let me start with you. Did I get anything wrong in
SHRUM: No. And as you were doing it, I was thinking about the fact
that I could, for example, criticize the executive at Goldman -- at
JPMorgan Chase who just lost $3 billion, and say, that`s a bad business
record. That doesn`t mean I`m attacking the free enterprise system or
SHRUM: There are good businesses and bad businesses. What happened
with Romney is he put this forward this business credential. I created
sometimes 10,000 jobs, sometimes 100,000 jobs. No one substantiated the
figure. And said, elect me president because of that. Then as we did in
1994 in the Kennedy campaign for the Senate against Romney, you went out
and you found these workers, you found these places where it wasn`t venture
capital, it was vulture capitalism.
Going in, taking the place over, loading it up with debt, taking
millions in fees, and then letting it go broke. That`s going to be an
issue all the way to November and it`s going to be the beginning of
narrative art that says this guy is a candidate of the few, by the few and
for the few.
SHARPTON: Now, Chip, but it seems like this is part of the talking
points that they are using against the president. Because let`s look at
Mitch McConnell, Senate minority leader, what he said about President Obama
today. He says, "The whole notion of earned success and capitalism seems
to be under attack by this administration across the board."
SALTSMAN: Well, I think what is important here is to not look at the
president`s words, but to look at his actions. And I think if you look at
his administration over the last couple of years, it`s been increased
regulation, it`s been increased taxes, it`s increasingly harder for a small
business or a big business to be successful because you`re constantly
fighting the federal government to get your job done. That is an attack on
SHARPTON: Yes, but --
SALTSMAN: So I think that`s fair game.
SHARPTON: -- you are doing that same time, Chip, have had record
profits. You`ve had a business grow in leaps and bounds. So you would
need more regulation. But explain to me -- explain to me --
SALTSMAN: Just because you have record profits doesn`t mean more
SHARPTON: All right. OK. But Chip, explain --
SALTSMAN: I disagree with you there.
SHARPTON: Let`s stay on the subject. Fine, we can disagree on that,
but let`s stay on the subject. Explain to me how having regulations and
having some kind of boundaries for corporation makes you anti-free
enterprise and anti-capitalism.
SALTSMAN: I think proper regulation is important, but we`re seeing
more and more regulation. More and more of this. If you`re a small
business and you have to deal with, let`s say, Obamacare, you`re now
spending most of your time dealing with federal paperwork as opposed to
worrying about selling your product or growing your business.
SHARPTON: How is that anti-capitalism?
SALTSMAN: I have talked to -- I have talked to those small
businesses. I`ve talked to those folks out there. It is -- it is a more
struggle to fight the federal government than to do their job and grow
SHARPTON: Chip, let me just ask you direct. Are you saying the
president is anti-free enterprise and anti-capitalism?
SALTSMAN: I think some of the actions the president is taking during
his first term certainly are.
SHARPTON: Well, Bob --
SHRUM: I mean this is ridiculous.
SHARPTON: Yes, well --
SHRUM: Because, A, he didn`t -- I like Chip, but he didn`t answer the
question. Maybe he understands that there isn`t a good defense for Romney
on a lot of this stuff. That having someone like John Sununu blabber on
about free enterprises is no counter to those workers, those people looking
in the camera directly, and talking the plain ordinary hard-working folks
and telling what happened to them.
But beyond that, you`re right, this economy has recovered from what
was the worst blow --
SHRUM: -- it had suffered since the Great Depression. We`re not all
the way back yet but companies are making record profits. It might suggest
that JPMorgan Chase example that I gave a short while ago where someone
went and gambled away at least $3 billion and maybe more, suggest that we
need some of that Wall Street regulation.
But to talk about healthcare in this context or health reform in this
context is simply ridiculous. The most onerous requirements on small
businesses and on businesses dealing with health insurance come from the
private health insurance industry. Obamacare, if it goes into effect, will
actually simplify that.
SHARPTON: But let me -- let me say -- all right, let`s look at this.
If you look at the -- how people are dealing with these issues, Chip,
unfairness and economic systems, 56 percent. Over regulation of free
market, 34 percent.
There are people in this country that have just come out of hard times
are much more concerned about unfairness than they are about regulation.
Are they anti-free enterprise? Are the people anti-capitalism?
SALTSMAN: Of course not. And that`s not my point. The point is
there is still a lot of small businesses and big business out there that
are struggling to get by. They are trying to help this economy recover.
And like I`ve said many times on the show, we all hope the economy gets
better. That`s not a Republican issue or a Democratic issue.
SHARPTON: That`s correct.
SALTSMAN: But some of the folks, and I think President Obama is one
of them, they think the answer is more government regulation to lead the
way. I believe it is the free enterprise. Get government out of the way
and let the people do what they do best which is grow jobs.
SHARPTON: But that`s a difference. That`s a fair difference. Why
does he have to be anti-free enterprise, anti-capitalism? Let me tell you
why I`m bringing this up, Chip.
SHARPTON: Because I really think it speaks to a wider strategy here
of trying to make the president un-American, maybe wasn`t born here. I
think this leads to this whole subliminal message that the Republicans are
trying to sell, that there is something un-American about this president.
And I`ll tell you why, because when you had people in your own primary
saying the same things about Romney, vulture capitalists and all, no one
said they were anti-capitalist or anti-free enterprise. Why all of a
sudden does the president have to be anti-American, anti-free capitalism,
when you did not say that about Rick Perry, you didn`t say that about Newt
Gingrich, you didn`t say that when you had Huntsman saying that Mr. Romney
like to fire -- I mean, yes Mr. Romney likes to fire people?
There`s a -- there`s a subliminal message here that I`m wondering, are
we trying to really sell the American people.
SALTSMAN: Well, I certainly hope not. Look, I disagree with
President Obama a lot. But I do think he`s an American and I think he
wants what`s best for this country. I just disagree with the path he`s
trying to take. Like I said we`re talking earlier, I think he`s a person
that believes more in government than the private sector.
I couldn`t disagree with that more. But I don`t think you win
elections by bashing the president for being un-American. You respect the
office but it`s OK to go beat the man. And that`s what makes this country
great. And that`s what we`re trying to do.
SHARPTON: Bob, I mean am I right or wrong? I think the broad
brushing the president, we can disagree on regulations but how does he
become un-American or anti-capitalism or anti-free enterprise?
SHRUM: Well, Chip isn`t suggesting that. But that is what the Romney
campaign is doing. It`s a whole Republican strategy, make the president
alien other different, and throughout the whole course of this
conversation, one of the most interesting things to me is that Chip doesn`t
come back and defend Romney`s business record. It may turn out that Romney
doesn`t have a good defense for his business record and that`s going to
lead us to a place where we say, the guy who took away people`s health
benefits is the guy who wants to end Medicare as we know it. The guy who
decimated jobs in the private sector was the governor who was 47th in job
SHRUM: There`s a narrative arch here that I think is pretty powerful.
SHARPTON: Well, let me ask a quick question then I have to go. Yes
or now, you ran against him in `94 when you ran Ted Kennedy`s campaign, you
ran on Bain, did he have an answer --
SHRUM: No, in fact he spent days evading the issue.
SHARPTON: Well, maybe that`s why we`re trying to change the subject
SHARPTON: Just maybe.
Bob Shrum, Chip Saltsman --
SHARPTON: Thank you both for your time tonight.
SHARPTON: Ahead, comparing attacks on Romney`s job killing pass to
the right-wing using Reverend Wright to attack the president. My thoughts
on Cory Booker`s backtracking and his damage control appearance. Coming
Plus the president of FOX News said, we still don`t know anything
about President Obama. Really? Now we know where the vetting talk is
And imagine being behind bars for 20 years for a crime you never
committed. We`ll meet a man freed after two decades in jail and show you a
new report on how broken our justice system is.
You`re watching POLITICS NATION on MSNBC.
SHARPTON: The GOP is still buzzing about Cory Booker`s Bain comments.
But the Bain bashing starting in their own party. Queue up those tapes.
SHARPTON: We`re back with the Republican Party still buzzing about
Cory Booker`s Bain comment. They`d like you to think that criticism from a
Democrat on "Meet the Press" can`t completely -- delegitimize the
president`s argument but they`re forgetting something. Republicans started
the Bain attacks. I`m serious. Here, watch for yourself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: We need to have more venture capitalism
going on in America, and less vulture capitalism.
RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do you really
believe this country want to elect a Wall Street financier as the president
of the United States? Do you think that`s the kind of experience we need?
Someone who`s going to take and look after, as he did, his friends on Wall
Street and bail them out at the expense of main street America?
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The fact is, he
still is not prepared to release any documents from Bain to prove anything.
So I think we have no idea what his net job creation was.
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Governor Romney has claimed
to have created 100,000 jobs at Bain and we -- you know, people are wanting
to know, is there proof of that claim?
PERRY: When people can point to where you`ve made a quick profit, and
kick people out of their jobs, that is an issue that`s got to be addressed.
GINGRICH: I`m just asking questions. And I`m shocked at how
defensive they are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: This is Romney`s biggest problem. The backbone of his
campaign is already been destroyed. By his own party.
Joining me now is Steve Kornacki, political writer for Salon.com and
an MSNBC contributor. He is writing about Cory Booker`s TV apology. And
Dana Milbank, political columnist for the "Washington Post."
Thanks to both of you for your time tonight.
STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM: Sure.
DANA MILBANK, THE WASHINGTON POST: Hi, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Steve, Republicans are using Booker to go after the
president but what will they say about all the Republicans attacking Romney
for all of the last few months?
KORNACKI: Well, it`s the same idea with George W. Bush. You pretend
it never happened. But -- I mean the reality is you look at those clips
from this year. You can look back at clips from every election basically
that Mitt Romney has ever run, from 1994 on, against Republicans and
against Democrats. His opponents always seem to recognize, whichever party
they`re from, that this is his chief vulnerability as a candidate.
You can look back to 2008. Mike Huckabee used to tell voters in Iowa
admit Romney reminded them of the guy who fired them. John McCain, you
know, invoked Bain in the run for the Florida primary. The critical
Florida primary in 2008.
I can only find one campaign that Mitt Romney has ever run where his
opponent haven`t really brought this up. It was his primary for the U.S.
Senate in 1994 when he was running against a venture capital guy. Other
than that, everybody brings it up.
SHARPTON: So, Dana, when we hear Romney defending himself, and he had
to defend himself against a big attack on this with Newt Gingrich, and let
me show you this, back in January. He was defending himself in a debate
against an attack by Newt Gingrich.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINGRICH: The specific cases where Bain Capital`s model, which was to
take over a company and dramatically leverage it, leave it with a great
deal of debt, made it less likely to survive. I think the governor ought
to explain -- it started because he cited his experience as a key part of
his preparation for being president.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We started a number of
businesses. Foreign particular. Created 120,000 jobs as of today. We
started them years ago. They`ve grown well beyond the time I was there, to
120,000 people, that have been employed by those enterprises.
There are others we`ve been with, some of which have last jobs. I`m
very proud of the fact that throughout my career I have worked to try and
build enterprises. Hopefully to return money to investors. There`s
nothing wrong with profit, by the way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now two things about that, Dana, that I want you to comment
on. One, he has a cute way of saying we had four businesses that have
grown now to 120,000. Never real saying how much they`ve grown while he
was still at Bain and under his leadership. That calls himself a job
creator. He says they`re building until now. Well, how many of them did
you create, since you`re calling yourself a creator?
The other thing is, that what is missing here, which is bothersome to
me, is they don`t attack other Republicans who`ve raised even more serious
and direct questions about Bain and his activity as anti-capitalism, anti-
free enterprise. Only the president. Are they trying to send a subliminal
anti-American message on the president, i.e., the birth strategy and other
things that they`ve done so far this year?
MILBANK: Well, certainly, Reverend, there has been a pattern for them
doing this sort of thing. In fairness, there was a little bit of push back
during the primaries when they said look, guys -- Republicans were saying
to fellow Republicans, look, you`re going to regret what you`re doing right
now in terms of suggesting that this was an anti-capitalist line.
So they did sort of lay that predicate out there right now. I think
what you`ve got here is this, you know, sort of seasoning on the Cory
Booker thing. It`s not quite parallel to, you know, being hit by Newt
Gingrich, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum. These are names Americans recognize.
When you hear Cory Booker, a lot -- he was an accomplished guy, but a lot
of Americans are going to say, who is that? But this is really the way --
it`s really the only card that Romney, that the Republicans can play, to go
at this vulnerability has -- ultimately it`s not going to be what Cory
Booker said or what Newt Gingrich, or anybody else said, it`s going to be
the merits of the subject at hand.
And Romney is his own worst enemy on this. Because he`s constantly
saying things like, I enjoy being able to fire people.
SHARPTON: Now, Steve, as Dana mentioned, Mayor Cory Booker, last
night on our network, Cory Booker complained about the GOP`s distortion of
his words and how this is the only issue they seem to want to stand with
him on. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR CORY BOOKER (D), NEWARK: They didn`t watch the entire "Meet the
Press", so not only was I defending Obama`s position on numerous issues but
I also talked about super PAC money and the negative campaigning and my
outrage and really my frustration was about the cynical negative
campaigning. The manipulating of the truth. And so here they are,
plucking sound bites out of that interview to be -- to manipulate them in a
cynical manner, to use them for their own -- for their own purposes.
And that slogan is really what had me and basically my entire staff
really fit to be tied. And if anybody listens to the entire "Meet the
Press" and they want to stand with me, they`ll see that I stand firmly with
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now in fairness to Mayor Booker, who I know and have worked
with him, and will continue to work with, but I did last night question,
what was he thinking saying this. He did -- if you look at the full
context of what he said -- let`s play what a said -- he was concerned about
more than Bain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOOKER: This kind of stuff is nauseating to me on both sides. It`s
nauseating to the American public. Enough is enough. Stop attacking
private equity. Stop attacking Jeremiah Wright. This stuff has got to
stop. Because what it does is it undermines to me what this country should
be focused on. It`s a distraction from the real issues. Is this going to
be a small campaign about this crap or it`s going to be a big campaign, in
my opinion, about the issues that American public cares about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: So Steve, I mean, you`ve covered Mayor Booker. But I think
he was concerned about more than Bain. But I absolutely disagree with him
that comparing Bain and whether or not Romney`s a job creator who he made
this the centerpiece of his campaign is the same thing as some outside
group bringing in Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
I think that he misspoke making that comparison in why he is
nauseated. Because you`re dealing with one guy, whose the centerpiece of
his campaign, is I was a job creator at Bain. And another guy when asked,
a billionaire to bring in on issue that was dealt with four years ago.
KORNACKI: Right. No, and he did -- I think he did cop to saying, I
made a false equivalency there. I shouldn`t have done that last night.
KORNACKI: What I have a problem with what he did last night is he
didn`t engage with the part of the "Meet the Press" interview where he
specifically and pointedly singled out Bain by name and talked about the
good things and how sort of the whole Bain had been a force for good.
That`s paraphrasing but that`s basically what he said on there.
So it wasn`t just about the tone. He singled out Bain. And I really
think it`s pretty clear to me, I -- you know, followed Booker going back 10
years now. What happened here? I mean this is a guy who just has a deep
and extensive sort of personal, fundraising history with sort of the
investor class, the Wall Street. They bankrolled his first can campaign.
They`re going to be key to any statewide campaigns if he runs in the
He`s very comfortable sort of talking their language. And I don`t
think he fully recognized before this week how much the meltdown in 2008
fundamentally changed the Democratic Party when it comes to having those
kind relationships with Wall Street. And I think he learned the hard way
and I think last night that was a guy doing damage control and I think it`s
a slippery to be honest with you.
SHARPTON: Now, so you`re saying that he was slippery and that he has
connections to the crowd, the Bain Capital --
KORNACKI: Absolutely. He represents --
KORNACKI: In way, he represent what the Democratic Party was sort of
the heart of the Democratic Party was in the Clinton years, you know,
Robert Ruben, Goldman Sachs, there`s sort of an alliance there that came up
during the Clinton years between the Democratic Party and Wall Street. And
Booker`s rise kind of came in the late `90s or early part of the last
decade. And he -- he`s very good at it.
But he cultivated those ties. He raised a lot of money from that,
even money from Bain, from people associated with Bain. And again, I think
the meltdown really changed where the heart of the Democratic Party is.
People do not like those ties. They are not comfortable with them any
more. And I don`t think Booker was fully prepared or fully realized that.
SHARPTON: Well, the issue of Bain and again the issue, Dana, was
brought up by Romney, who used Bain as his example of a -- his being a job
creator. When you, in a poll, when people were asked whether they believe
Romney`s -- what they believe his motivation was at Bain, 57 percent of the
people say profits, 12 percent say job creation, and only 25 percent say
Mr. Romney has never broken down, after all of these attacks by all of
his opponents during the Republican primary, and the subsequent attack
since then, he still has not broken down how he was a job creator at Bain.
Is that not fair game for the opponent, incoming president, and the public?
And if we`re going to be responsible in the media, for us to say, you need
to put up or shut up.
MILBANK: Well, Reverend, I think the whole subject is fair game. And
I`ve been, you know, preaching for a long time about how ugly our politics
are getting. But the parallel to Reverend Wright was to say, well, it
would be disgusting to go after Romney`s Mormon religion. I think that`s
the parallel there. This is a matter of substance that needs to be
litigated out there.
You know, the problem here -- I was at a hearing today on Capitol Hill
for JPMorgan. People were saying, is there going to be a new wave of
regulation? Forget it. Both parties in this town are largely controlled
by corporations. And when the president makes one small gesture and raises
a question about whether this particular company is doing something that`s
in the best interest of the company, well, that`s against the entire free
It`s just a very strange sort of argument.
SHARPTON: Very strange. Steve, you heard Dana say he`s been
preaching. And you thought I wouldn`t influence people.
Steve Kornacki and Dana Milbank, thanks for your time. Have a great
MILBANK: OK. Thanks, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Ahead, the president of FOX News says voters still don`t
know anything about Barack Obama. That`s just outrageous.
SHARPTON: There`s a new right wing effort to discredit President
Obama. At a college lecture last night, the President of another network
said, quote, "We still don`t know anything about Obama." In fact, this
myth that President Obama somehow was invented after an entire political
campaign is really being pushed hard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Barack Obama back in 2008 was an
empty vessel. The public did not know what or who filled this vessel in
order to create what has become a very, I think, confused and mission and
visionless leader for our country. Well, now, it`s not too late to change
course and this next go-around understand what has filled up that vessel.
Who are these people? Who are the radicals, the Marxist professors that he
said he would hang out with and some of his friends and associations and
even what his past voting record represent, how that filled up that vessel
and has led to this very confused country in so many respects.
KARL ROVE, PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR: I don`t
remember them, you know, examining some of, you know, Barack Obama`s lost
years of at Occidental or what he did as a community organizer or an in-
depth large story investigating, you know, his Reverend Wright`s comment.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: This President has successfully hid
for who he really was for entire last election cycle.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: So this is not surprising.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: He`s an empty vessel who wasn`t vetted in 2008? He hid who
he really was? The conservative red state blog writes quote, "It is most
important to know the organizations that Obama was and is associated with
because these organizations are some of the most corrupt and dangerous ones
of our times." And boo! At the Washington Times, the accusations are even
spookier. Quote, the President is not being honest about what his secret
plans are. Mr. Obama has dangerous ideas up his sleeve and won`t be
forthcoming about his true agenda.
Joining me now is Congresswoman Karen Bass, a democrat from
California. And Maria Teresa Kumar, executive director of Voto Latino and
MSNBC contributor. Thank you both for your time tonight.
REP. KAREN BASS (D), CALIFORNIA: Thanks for having us on.
MARIA TERESA KUMAR, DIRECTOR, VOTO LATINO: Thanks, Rev.
SHARPTON: Congresswoman, they are trying to scare the American
public. Let me ask you what is behind these conservatives and so-called
vetting of the President?
BASS: Well, I mean, I think you are exactly right, in terms of trying
to picture him as a scary leader. I think they need to buy his book. He
wrote a book that detailed his past. If we think for one minute that every
line in that book has not been researched, investigated, you know, it is
very much a laughable claim to think that we do not know who the President
of the United States is. And he has a record. He has been in office for
the last three and a half years. Who is President Barack Obama? President
Barack Obama is the president that saved 1.4 billion jobs by saving the
auto industry. That`s who Barack Obama is.
SHARPTON: Well, but, but let me go back to what you said. You said
he wrote a book. In fact he wrote two books.
SHARPTON: If you look at the fact that "The New York Times" vetted
President Obama as time as community organizer in 2008 election, at length.
It`s very lengthy article. Washington Post wrote extensively about
President Obama and Hillary Clinton`s, both their ties, Saul Alinsky. And
the President himself wrote two books. In his two books, "Audacity of
Hope" and "Dreams from My Father," the President has wrote 928 pages about
his life. And writes about his family history, his childhood work as a
community organizer, time in the Senate. So Maria, I mean, what do they
mean we don`t know anything, he hid his past. I don`t know very many
candidates that ran for President that wrote two books about their life.
KUMAR: Well, and that`s what it is. That the Super PACs are going
now on a fishing expedition with the hopes of finding a skeleton in
President Obama`s closet. But some people actually don`t have any. And I
think what changes the equation for this election in 2008, for 2012, is
that campaigns are no longer in control. The Super PACs are. So, what is
that mean? We haven`t seen the nastiest part of the campaigns yet. And I
think that both Mitt Romney and President Obama are going to be little
weary of what the Super PACs are going to come out with. Because it may
not have their fingerprints on it. But the American people will associate
it with their respective camps.
SHARPTON: Now, Congresswoman, let me say, we`ve got a glimpse of this
vetting plan. Or that they want to do with the President in the Ricketts`
proposal last week, which they proposed, this proposal to Ricketts is
quote, "They say our plan is to do exactly what John McCain would not let
us do." Another quote, "We recommend hitting Barack right between the
eyes." That speaks right to what Maria was talking about with these Super
BASS: And once again he has been president for the last three-and-a-
half-years. But if they`re going to talk about Reverend Wright, do you
know during the last campaign in `08, there were over 10,000 articles
written about Reverend Wright. What more is there to know?
SHARPTON: Well, Maria, I think that what we are trying to deal with
here is people that are not trying to really deal with what we know, they
are trying to use kind of subliminal messages insinuation and scare
tactics, they`re trying to really frighten people that there is something
un-American about our president and when you listen at Mr. Romney, let me
play you a statement he made about the President.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He doesn`t want to share his
real plans before the election. Either with the public or with the press.
By flexibility, he means that what the American public doesn`t know won`t
hurt him. His intent is on hiding. You and I are going to have to do the
seeking. He wants us to re-elect him so we can find out what he will
actually do. With all the challenges the nation faces, this is not the
time for President Obama`s hide and seek campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Hide and seek. Real agenda. Won`t tell us. And he was
talking there about nukes in Russia. But clearly going to your point,
Congresswoman, when have you a president that`s been in office three and a
half years and we`ve seen what he`s done in terms of the domestic policies,
all the way to foreign policies, I mean, clearly we have an idea of what
his agenda is.
BASS: Well, absolutely, he has a record to run on. But let me just
tell you this. What about what Mitt Romney wants to do? He has already
said that he is going to pass the Paul Ryan budget on day one. The budget
that seeks to change Medicare and turn it into a voucher. The budget that
is basically based on social Darwinism that says, there are the makers in
society and there are the takers. So, the one percent are the makers and
99 percent are the takers. Which is why we don`t need a safety net any
more. I think Paul Ryan`s budget, what Mitt Romney said he want to do in
the first few days of his administration. You want to talk about scary,
how about that?
SHARPTON: Well, I`ve got to go on that. Well, thank you
Representative Karen Bass and Maria Teresa Kumar, always glad to have you.
Thanks both of you for your time.
Ahead, fighting for justice, a new report showing 2,000 wrongful
convictions since 1989. We`ll talk it a man jailed for 20 years for a
murder he did not commit. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: Ahead, the fight for justice. Two thousand people have
been wrongfully convicted of crimes over the last 23 years. We`ll talk to
a man jailed for 20 years for a murder he did not commit. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: Welcome back. I want to talk to you about this. Imagine
going to prison for a crime you didn`t commit. Imagine being innocent and
locked away behind bars. It happened to our next guest. His name is
Franky Carrillo. In 1991, he was just 18 when he was convicted of murder.
Solely on witness testimony. During a time in their lives, most people, in
their lives, are going to college, building a career, or starting a family.
Franky was behind bars, desperately trying to prove his innocence. He took
20 years. But Frankie was finally released from prison after five
witnesses changed their stories.
He is just one of 2,000 people who, since 1989, have been wrongfully
convicted. Of those 101 were sentenced to death. For the first time, we
are learning their stories from a brand new data base of exonerated
prisoners. It is an important new tool in the fight for justice. More
than two million people are behind bars today. While most are guilty,
some, like Franky, are innocent. That`s why this data bank could be the
first step in a fight for justice.
Joining me now is Franky Carrillo, who, as I mentioned, spent two
decades in prison before his release last year. And University of Michigan
Professor Samuel Gross, a co-founder and editor of this new exoneration
registry. Thank you both for joining me tonight.
FRANKY CARRILLO, WRONGFULLY CONVICTED: Thank you for having us.
Thank you for having me.
SHARPTON: Franky. I want to start with you. Tell us your story.
How did this happen to you?
CARRILLO: Sure. So Reverend, although I was convicted at 18, I was
arrested at 16. So my story takes us back to, like you mentioned, 1991.
There was a drive-by shooting where overzealous police work led to the
sheriff`s department telling the witness who to pick out after photo line-
up. That sort of snowballed and rippled effect sort of kicked in after
that. And I was wrongly convicted.
SHARPTON: What was going through your mind? I mean, and how did you
deal with fighting this wrongful conviction? Were you angry? Did you feel
like giving up? How did you deal with this?
CARRILLO: Right, right. So, you know, 20 years is a lifetime. I had
a spectrum of different reactions. But mainly was, I just could not
believe that the system that I looked up to and admired, even as a young
boy had let me down. So there was many days of depression, and stress and
anxiety. And also just being in danger in that environment. You know,
being in prison is not an easy thing to do. But thank God, I persevered
and I didn`t give up.
SHARPTON: What has your life been like since you got out?
CARRILLO: Life has been great, Reverend. I`ve been accepted to
Loyola Marymount University here in Los Angeles, which is a great, great
honor for me. Not only for myself, but for my family and friends who are
very proud of me.
SHARPTON: Now, let me go to you Professor Gross. What`s the
importance of this registry?
I can`t hear the professor. Let`s try to work on his audio. While
I`m doing that, Franky, you still with me?
CARRILLO: I am.
SHARPTON: While we`re getting Professor Gross straight, let me ask
you this. What do you want the American people to learn from your story?
CARRILLO: You know, there`s many stories that can come from this.
But you know, most of all, Rev, I think that the overall lesson is that,
you know, the system has many, many flaws in it and, you know, a lot of us
know that but many don`t. And unfortunately, you know, people end up also
being not only convicted and sent away, but also been executed. And so, we
have to really take a look at the process of the photo lineup. Have to
really revise that and make sure these processes don`t send the wrong
person to prison as they sent me.
SHARPTON: I understand you`ve reconciled with your son after 20
CARRILLO: That`s true.
SHARPTON: What`s that been like?
CARRILLO: You know, it is a beautiful experience to be home and to
finally take on the responsibility of being a father. But it is not easy.
You know, my son is now 21 years old. And you know, there`s just, you
know, the small things of knowing how, you know, what to say, when to say
it. I`m sure a lot of fathers sort of struggle with that and I`m
definitely, you know, one of them.
SHARPTON: Now, you were convicted on witness testimony. They later
recanted. And I don`t think that many American people understand the
danger and how frightening that is. I fought with others the case of Troy
Davis, who was finally executed, who a lot of his witnesses recanted, he
lost his life. And we are not saying that everyone convicted that has been
convicted has been convicted wrongly. We are not even saying most.
SHARPTON: But the fact that any of this could happen like it happened
with you, and thank God for people like Professor Gross that could turn
that around. We don`t need one person going to death row or spending 20
years in jail for something they didn`t do. That`s the human side of this,
I think, people don`t understand.
CARRILLO: I agree. I agree. Here in California, in November, the
voters will have an opportunity to do away with the death penalty. And
replace that with life without the possibility of parole. You know, for
me, Reverend, I think that, you know, although it is a nameless person, I
don`t know who he or she is, there has to be someone on death row who is
innocent. And I would prefer that that person has the opportunity to live
out their lives and prove their innocence than to be executed. You know,
there are reports and the registry has proven that, that many people have
been, not only exonerated, but executed who`ve been falsely convicted and
we should stand for that.
SHARPTON: Well, let me say this. We don`t have Professor Gross`
audio. We will have him on another night. But one of the things that the
registry came out with reasons for false convictions are perjury, all false
accusation, misconduct by police or prosecutors. Mistaken eyewitness ID
and false confessions. These areas that they had said have led to wrongful
convictions. What is your plans? What are you going to do for the
immediate future, Franky, now that you are out and free and have been
CARRILLO: Right. So first of all, Rev, you know, being a student is
first and foremost what seems to be on my agenda. You know, but second of
all, just acclimating back into society. Just getting to know what it is
to be free again. You know, getting to know my son. You know, developing
and creating some experiences and memories that my life now that I`m now
able to sort of like be involved in. I`m also working for the campaign to
do away with the death penalty. That`s a big deal. But I think mainly,
you know, after being -- spending 20 years in prison, just being happy,
living my life.
SHARPTON: And you seem like you are not angry or not cynical. It is
CARRILLO: Thank you. And I`m not. You know, what? I think I`m
grateful that I found whatever mystery in life that I needed and I`m very,
you know, I`m grateful and I thank God that I was able to look beyond the
SHARPTON: All right. Thank you, Franky. We are going to stay with
this story. Thank you for sharing with us tonight. God bless you and your
son, too. We`ll be right back.
SHARPTON: I want to close the show tonight by setting the record
straight about poverty in America. The new spin on the right is that
people receiving public assistance aren`t quote, "Ashamed as they should
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: When you think of American dream, you certainly
don`t think about handouts but is that what we are becoming.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Shame used to be part of this. In other words,
people didn`t want to accept a handout because they were ashamed to do it.
And now, we look at it and we see the explosion of entitlement and the
sense of shame is gone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: So people have to pass a shame test in order to get
benefits? This kind of talk has become the norm on the right. And all
these talking point have been picked up and repeated by republican
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: No program in our government has surged out of
control more dramatically than food stamps.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: We didn`t want it turn the safety net
into hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and
ROMNEY: I`m not concern about the very poor, we have a safety net
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It is not safety net.
It is a spider web. It traps them in poverty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Thanks for your leadership but let`s look at the facts.
Because of the Bush recession, there are now 46 million people on food
stamps. Nearly half of them are children. Eight percent are seniors. And
41 percent of working families and get this, in 2009, food stamps were
responsible for bringing down the poverty rate by eight percent. I talked
to people everyday who are working hard to find work. Scrambling to make
ends meet. They have nothing to be ashamed of. Talking about a sense of
entitlement, there would be those that are rich and want to hold on to tax
cuts. While they look down on other people trying to find work. And say,
we don`t think you`re shamed enough. That`s a shame.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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