PoliticsNation, Thursday, May 24, 2012
Read the transcript from the Thursday show
Guests: Joan Walsh, David Bernstein; Dana Milbank; Cynthia Tucker, Kyle Clark, Meghan McCain, Maria Teresa Kumar, Deborah Davis
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Welcome to "Politics Nation." I`m
Tonight`s lead, dramatic news in the race for president. "Politics
Nation" can confirm this evening, rumors about Mitt Romney. Folks, he was,
indeed, the governor of Massachusetts. Something he doesn`t like to talk
about. Something his supporters try to ignore, but we hunted down through
our archived and found the proof. Check it out.
Here is Romney getting sworn in back in 2003. Here he is signing the
state`s universal health care law, and here he is admiring the state`s
official portrait of himself.
Folks, most governors who run for president play up that experience.
It`s their main qualification for the job. But Romney is playing it down.
In fact, one article today calls his four years at governor to quote, "the
lost years of Mitt Romney." And when Romney does bring it up on the
campaign trail, it`s often as a punch line.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That skill, that skill
learning the private sector, and practiced for four years in Massachusetts
were by the way, I sure have been government but I didn`t inhale.
I did not spend my life in government, only four years as governor, I
I didn`t inhale. I didn`t inhale. I didn`t inhale. I promised. I
I spent four years as governor, I didn`t inhale.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: OK. Last month when he gave a speech billed as his pivot
to the general election, Romney didn`t mention Massachusetts by name even
once. He literally didn`t even say the word. And the only time he said
the word governor was to talk about his dad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: Only in America could a man like my dad become governor of a
state where he once sold paint from the trunk of his car.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, Romney talks about his dad`s time as governor but not
his own. I wonder why.
Joining me is Joan Walsh, editor-at-large for salon.com and an MSNBC
political analyst, and David Bernstein, political reporter for the Boston
Thank you both, for joining me tonight.
JOAN WALSH, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, SALON.COM: Thanks, Reverend Al.
SHARPTON: David. Let me start with you.
Let`s look at his record up there. Under governor Romney,
Massachusetts ranked 47 out of 50 in job creation. Two hundred and twenty
thousand people fled the state to find work elsewhere, and the debt
increased by more than 16 percent leaving Massachusetts with the highest
per capita debt in the nation.
So, David, given all of that, are you surprise he doesn`t talk much
about his record as governor?
DAVID BERNSTEIN, BOSTON PHOENIX: No, and in fact that could replay a
lot of what he said when he was running for governor in 2001, 2002, to what
he is talking about now. He said, you know, my experience as the head of
Bain Capital and business will translate into improving the economy here in
Massachusetts. He said I`m going to talk to CEOs and get them to relocate
their businesses here. I`m going to improve the economic conditions, and
so forth because I have that expertise. And then, of course, it didn`t
really play out that way and that didn`t happen, and Massachusetts really
was one of the slowest growing states economically for that next several
So, he is making the same exact case now, of course, on the higher
stage as president. But, it`s very similar to the case he made then that
didn`t come through.
SHARPTON: So he used his experience as CEO of Bain Capital when he
was running for governor, and promised that he knew how to bring in
business and how to grow the economy of the state that he is using now to
run all 50 states?
BERNSTEIN: That`s exactly what he did. And he also talked about how
he knew he was going to solve the state`s deficit problems because he knew
how to get there and find the waste and abuse and so forth. It was very
much the same kind of arguments.
And like you mentioned at the top that, you know, he came in. He was
not the kind of governor that he wants to talk about the last few years
when he was addressing Republican primary voters. He had a lot of agenda
items on environment and education, housing and so forth, most f which he
didn`t ultimately accomplish in large part because he realized he was going
to be running as a conservative and didn`t want to run on that record.
SHARPTON: Now., let me go to Joan. But David, let me ask, you did
cover him when he was governor, right?
BERNSTEIN: The whole time and since.
SHARPTON: So you can confirm he was governor?
BERNSTEIN: Yes. I can confirm absolutely. We could see him there.
SHARPTON: I want to make sure I connect all the dots.
Joan, let me show you the present governor, Deval Patrick, on Romney`s
time as governor. This is what Governor Patrick, the present governor of
Massachusetts had to say.
It says, "it`s weird for him to talk about what he wants to do in
government and not make reference to what he actually did in government.
He was more interested in having the job than doing the job. He, Mr. Fix
it, didn`t fix it."
Very interesting comments, wouldn`t you say, Joan?
WALSH: Very interesting comments, Reverend Al. I also want to
congratulate you for the scoop and getting to the bottom of this mystery.
SHARPTON: Thank you, Joan. We worked hard to get it.
WALSH: I know. I know, Reverend Al. Thank you for doing it.
You know, Mitt Romney acts like a guy who has been in a witness
protection program, you know. He tries to run on Bain, but then, he is
uncomfortable when people look at what Bain actually did. And he is very
uncomfortable with his record as governor.
I just want to go back to what you played the times he joked I didn`t
inhale. You know, for the younger people in our audience, Reverend Al,
that`s a reference to Bill Clinton said admitted that he smoked marijuana
but he quote "didn`t I inhale."
WALSH: It become - it is a big punch line. Now, Mitt Romney is
comparing using illegal drugs, to being - I don`t think it should be
illegal, let me say that. But, to be the governor of one of our greatest
states. The cradle of American democracy. That is the disrespect that he
shows to the people of Massachusetts and to the role of government. And
now he wants to lead the entire country? What is he going to say about
being president God forbid if he became president. I didn`t inhale then
either? I mean, the man just doesn`t take this with the seriousness it
ROMNEY: And it`s not even a funny line, Joan.
WALSH: It`s not funny anymore.
SHARPTON: Let me go back to you a minute, David. When he was running
in 2002 for governor, you mentioned about how -- because he is running now,
he doesn`t want to show a lot of what he did as governor because he`s
trying to run as a conservative.
Well, let`s look at what he was saying when he was running in 2002
when he wasn`t a conservative.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I think people recognize that I`m not a partisan Republican.
That I`m someone who is moderate, and that my views are progressive.
It`s a burden for people to run with an "R" after their name. It`s
very clear I think to people across the commonwealth that my "R" doesn`t
stands so much for Republican as it does for reform.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: So, he was not running as Republican but a reformist. He
was progressive. I mean, what is he, a chameleon? He ran as progressive
and reformer for government of Massachusetts. Now, he is running for
president and all of a sudden, he wasn`t governor of Massachusetts, and he
is the toast of the far right.
BERNSTEIN: Yes, and when he says it`s tough as a Republican, that`s
not even really true. We had a series of Republican governors elected
here, him being the last one. No, he definitely ran as a moderate, and I
think he began to governor as a moderate. I think that really would happen
was after 2004 as he started looking toward his presidential aspirations
and really thinking he would be up against John McCain and Rudy Giuliani,
who he thought were not conservative favorites. He saw an opening on the
right to run as a conservative, so he needs a more conservative record.
And all of a sudden, he was opposed to gay marriage. He was suddenly had a
u-turn on abortion rights, and abandon a number of other falsely
initiatives and environment policy initiatives that he started and then
swore off of.
And all of that is sort of forgotten lore, you know, that you`re
uncovering as you say, it`s forgotten lore as far as any biographical
information. I think that he really intended to have a checklist of items
of what he did with government that he now ignores.
SHARPTON: Joan, I mean, who is this guy? I mean, when you can see
someone that can make such a drastic turn around. We are not talking about
someone who has grown or mature that seen the error of his ways. We are
talking about a guy that has made a complete flip.
WALSH: Even in the four years since he last ran for president, so he
is capable of changing his tune, you know, in a very short span of time.
But, there`s one thing that I would really like to point to you in his
record as governor, Reverend Al, that I think is so relevant to the issues
that we`re talking about here today, and that`s -- he cut, he dramatically
cut higher education funding so that fees and tuition for the public
university system in Massachusetts, they went up 63 percent during his four
years as governor.
SHARPTON: Wait a minute. So, under governor Romney when he was
governor of Massachusetts, he cut funding to education and fees went up 63
WALSH: In those four years.
SHARPTON: That`s the same governor Romney that spoke about education
as a civil right.
WALSH: It`s a civil right. It`s a top priority, and you can just
borrow money from your parents if you can`t afford it. And if a slashed
your higher education funding. So he joined, you know, a slew of
Republican governors that crew that public commitment to higher education
that distinguished this country in the `50, and `60s, and `70s. he is
really part of a terrible trend. And I think Democrats are going to do a
lot of talking about that part of his record.
SHARPTON: You know, David. Let me show you this before we go. We
are running out of time. But here is the official portrait of Romney as
governor. And if you look closely at the lower right corner, you`ll see a
folder with a medical symbol on its cover, symbolizing his universal health
care law. He was so proud of it, he put it on his official portrait. Now,
he tries to act s though, he never did it at all. Maybe it`s part of this
redo, rebirth of trying to becoming a conservative. I just want you to
know how well we do when go on our archives.
Thank you, David Bernstein.
BERNSTEIN: We like to joke the guards are in the state house to keep
his people from coming in and painting over that folder.
SHARPTON: Thank you, David Bernstein. Thank you, Joan. Thanks to
both of you for being with me tonight.
Ahead, Willard has done it again. He is saying the president is
attacking capitalism, but we all know it`s not true, right Mr. President?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We believe in the free
market. We believe in risk taking and innovation. You don`t make America
stronger just by shipping jobs and profits overseas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The lawmaker who said President Obama was not an American
was asked to explain himself on camera, and all he could say was this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE COFFMAN (R), COLORADO: I stand by my statement, they
misspoke and I apologize. I stand by my statement, that I wrote, I
misspoke, and I apologize.
I stand by my statement, I misspoke, and I apologize.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: And picture perfect, why this picture of a 5-year-old
touching President Obama`s head hangs in the west wing three years later,
and why it`s inspiring and uplifting to millions of Americans.
You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.
SHARPTON: Is Mitt Romney being honest with the American people? He
was at it again today, early in the morning. That`s next.
SHARPTON: Willard Mitt Romney can`t help himself. He is out at it
again today saying something that isn`t true, and for some reason the media
is not calling him on it. Take a look at his latest attack on Barack
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: There`s no question but he is attacking capitalism. In part
I think because he doesn`t understand how the free economy works. All the
president wants to do is talk about the failures why he is misrepresenting
the nature of free enterprise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, Willard`s campaign also blessed with a press release
today touting President Obama`s supposed attacks on free enterprise.
Romney wants to convince voters President Obama doesn`t believe in
capitalism. Because if the president doesn`t believe in capitalism, he
must believe in something else, like socialism, Marxism, maybe even
communism. It`s a nice coded message. But it`s not true.
Here is what president actually says about the free market.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We believe in the free market. We believe in risk taking and
What governor Romney and my opponents don`t seem to understand is
that, that a healthy economy doesn`t just mean maximizing the profits of
some. That`s important, that`s part of our free market, but not if it`s
purchased at the cost of massive layoffs, or you`re busting unions. You
don`t make America stronger by shipping jobs and profits overseas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: How is that possibly an attack on capitalism? Do you think
Willard would be willing to put a $10,000 bet on that?
Joining me now is Dana Milbank, political columnist for `the
Washington Post" and Cynthia Tucker, Pulitzer Prize winning syndicated
columnist and now a visiting professor of journalism at the University of
Let me start with you, Cynthia. This Romney attack is just not true
first of all, shouldn`t that matter?
CYNTHIA TUCKER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, during this political
season we`re going to hear a lot of things that are not true. And it is
convenient and useful for Mitt Romney to accuse President Obama of not
believing in capitalism because that`s been the conservative argument
against him for the last three and a half years.
He is a socialist, you know. He is trying to take this country in the
direction of western Europe, for heaven`s sake. He is a socialist. It`s
not an outlook right communist, sometimes it factious. I can`t keep up
with all the various names.
But, if he doesn`t support capitalism, tell that to the stock market.
The stock market it is booming.
TUCKER: Companies are holding billions of dollars in cash, and rich
people are doing just fine. So, if Obama doesn`t like capitalism, the
stock markets have not gotten the message.
SHARPTON: Now Dana, when you take Cynthia`s last statement, let`s
look at the facts.
Dow is up 58 percent since President Obama took office, 58 percent.
Fortune 500 companies record $824 billion profit in 2011. Private sector
job growth for 26 straight months. Clearly good for business and
So, what is Romney doing here? There`s more at stake than what he`s
saying. It`s like he needs a different narrative to try and really take
this president down.
DANA MILBANK, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, I think
that`s right, Reverend. I mean, the debate that President Obama has
initiated here regarding Bain is one that has been going on for a long
time. I wrote about this, more than 20 years ago when I was at the "Wall
Street Journal" which is not an anti-capitalist publication about whether
is measure of consulted firms and Bain is an option to that, are actually
adding value or whether they are not earning the huge fees they g or
whether in fact, they are causing harm by making short-term decisions they
sacrifice as long term decisions. That`s very serious argument within the
capitalist system. But, if there`s a weakness to that argument, and that`s
why Romney is pushing back in this way.
SHARPTON: Now Cynthia, President Obama yesterday say Romney wants to
bring back failed Bush policies, let me show you what he said first.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Governor Romney is saying, well you know, my 25 years in the
private sector gives me a special understanding how our economy works.
Well if that`s true, why is he pedaling the same bad ideas that brought our
economy to the brink of collapse? Most good business people I know, if
something doesn`t work, they do something different. So, he must either
think that there is going to be a different result, or he is hoping you
don`t remember what happened the last time we tried it his way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Cynthia, is part of the motive of Willard Romney and his
campaign to make this about the president being anti-capitalist is because
he can`t run an advocate what he is doing without reminding people about
the Bush tax cuts and what happened under Bush? So he has to try to put
this in another narrative as I said today?
TUCKER: I haven`t heard a thing from governor Romney that suggests he
has a plan that is any different from what George Bush did for eight years.
He says he is absolutely not going to raise taxes and he also said that he
is going to increase military spending significantly. That`s the same
voodoo economics that got us into an incredible deficit hole. In fact, it
just makes me crazy that conservatives blame President Obama for the
The whopping deficit started under George W. Bush with the very same
policies. You remember in the Clinton years, the end of the Clinton years,
the budget was balanced, we were building surpluses. George Bush came in
and instituted tax cuts that benefited mostly rich people and kept spending
money. Two mores that were on borrowed money and a big Medicare
prescription drug plan. That`s what helped get us in the hole we`re in
now, and Mitt Romney has not said anything any different from that. He
claims he is going to rein in spending, but he didn`t say where. So until
he says where, I think he will keep the same policies George W. Bush had.
SHARPTON: There`s a great plan he said.
Dana, let me show you the actual fact is that, President Obama`s
policies have actually had the slowest increase in federal spending since
any president since Eisenhower was in office. And there is no comparison
to Reagan and George W. Bush. I mean, the irony is that the reverse is
happening under Obama.
MILBANK: Right. Well, and actually, that one of the slower growth
rate of the federal workforce and some of the lowest taxes overall since
the 1950s. So, you have that record on the one hand. Now, the Romney
record we don`t know exactly what his policies would be. But you can see
why he wants to push back in a way against the Bain record because there we
do have something, and he said spotted the statistics today saying, 80
percent of the companies they invested in those 350 companies had growth in
revenue. That was, first of all, coming from Bain itself.
It did not say, they had growth in employment in those companies.
MILBANK: And it also didn`t say what happened after Bain got rid of
those companies. So it`s possible they goosed up the revenues in the short
term, dumped the company, and then lost jobs. That doesn`t actually refute
the argument that Obama has been making.
SHARPTON: All right. Well, thank you, Dana and Cynthia.
Cynthia, in fact, I learned something today. You know, I was a boy
preacher. I didn`t know that Dana was writing for the "Wall Street
Journal" when he was 6-years-old.
MILBANK: Back when you were a boy.
SHARPTON: Thank you for being with me tonight.
Ahead. The cost of going extreme. Why some moderate Republicans are
feeding the pot.
And the congressman who said the president is not an American is
caught on camera and it doesn`t help us cause. You have to see this, next.
SHARPTON: We`re back with a story out of Colorado getting big
Nearly two weeks ago, Republican congressman Mike Coffman of Colorado
was speaking at his fundraiser when he unloaded this one about the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COFFMAN: I don`t know whether Barack Obama was born in the United
States or not. I don`t know. But I do know this. That in his heart, he
is not an American. He is just not an American.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: That outrageous comment made it on to the local news five
days later. Only then did Congressman Coffman issue a statement saying "I
misspoke and I apologize." I misspoke and I apologize.
But, it gets better. A reporter from NBC station in Denver caught up
with the congressman. Tuesday passed and to ask him about this and asked
him about why he had made the statement in the first place. Here is what
congressman had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KYLE CLARK, REPORTER, 9 NEWS, DENVER: After your comments about the
President, do you feel that voters are owed a better explanation than just
REP. MIKE COFFMAN (R), COLORADO: I think that as I stand by my
statement, that I misspoke, and I apologize.
CLARK: OK, and who are you apologizing to?
COFFMAN: You know, I stand by my statement, that I misspoke and I
CLARK: I apologize. We talk to you all of the time, you`re very
forth coming guy. Who is telling you not to talk and to handle it like
COFFMAN: I stand by my statement that I wrote, that you have, and I
misspoke and I apologize.
CLARK: Was it that you thought it would go over well in Albert County
where folks are very conservative and you would never say something like
that in the suburbs?
COFFMAN: I stand by my statement that I misspoke and I apologize.
CLARK: Is there anything that I can ask you that you will answer
COFFMAN: You know, I stand by my statement that I misspoke and I
CLARK: Thank you, Congressman.
COFFMAN: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AL SHARPTON, HOST, MSNBC LIVE: Joining me now is that intrepid
reporter Kyle Clark from KUSA in Denver. Kyle, thanks for joining me.
CLARK: Al, thanks for having me.
SHARPTON: Your interview with Congressman Coffman has gotten a big
reaction in Colorado. In a Denver post Op-ed out today, Congressman
Coffman is calling his comment boneheaded. Tell us the story, how did you
found him? How did this happen what we just saw?
CLARK: Well, his comments were actually tape recorded by a supporter.
Someone who came to the fundraise to donate, and then posted online because
that person was excited that he had talked about this birther issue and
those comments were posted on YouTube and Facebook, that`s where they were
spotted by some Democrats who brought them to our attention and we put them
SHARPTON: But how did you catch up with him? I understand you had,
for days, tried to get a comment from him. You wanted to interview him,
and then we just saw a tape, you finally tracked him down, how did that
CLARK: Well, we don`t ambush people, it`s not what we do, we schedule
interviews, we sit down, we have a civilized discussion. So, for five days
we talked to the Coffman campaign and said he needs to clear the air on
this, he needs to talk to us, we can either do a scheduled interview which
is our preference or we can have an unscheduled interview. They didn`t
return our calls, so we had an un-scheduled interview outside of a closed
SHARPTON: So, that`s how he kept going with almost this robotic
response, how surprised were you at his like of response?
CLARK: I was very surprised. You have to keep in mind that while
Congressman Coffman might not be well known nationwide, he is essentially
is the face of the Republican Party in Colorado. Whenever President Obama
comes to town, it`s Congressman Coffman who delivers the republican
response. Of course, President Obama was in Denver yesterday and you
couldn`t find Congressman Coffman with a pack of --
SHARPTON: Wow! In response to your interview, as been you, in Denver
post columnist tweeted, quote, "Has there ever been a worse interview
performance than Mike Coffman`s birther interview with 9News Kyle Clark?"
I`m curious, have you ever had a more awkward interview than this?
CLARK: Well, I had a city councilman wants get in my face and shout
the F-word at me, so that was pretty spectacular, but this one was
SHARPTON: What are people in your area saying about the misspoke
CLARK: Well, it`s interesting, at first things kind of divided down
along partisan lines, Congressman Coffman is very popular. And a lot of
folks rallied to his defense, but you hear a lot of Republicans even some
folks on republican talk radio saying, listen, what he said was pretty
dumb, but I understand what he was getting at. The Congressman says, he
was talking about the President`s views on American exceptionalism. And
that obviously where he`s trying to pivot the conversation. The
Congressman still won`t talk to us and answer our questions, but today, he
is going on conservative talk radio where I suppose he thinks he will have
a more friendly audience.
SHARPTON: What do you think he was doing? Just trying to stay to the
talking point? I mean, no matter what you threat him. I`m trying to
figure out what he was doing. Just trying to stay to his line?
CLARK: Well, the Congressman said that he doesn`t think that the
President is an American at heart. I don`t have the kind of skill to
discern what someone believes in their heart. So, I don`t know what the
Congressman actually believes. All I know is what he`s done. Which is
that, in public, in front of our cameras, he`s generally considered to be a
pretty moderate republican. He`ll talk at length on any issue basically
unprompted. And here we have him behind the scenes talking to donors
SHARPTON: All right.
CLARK: .extreme language than we hear in public.
SHARPTON: KUSA`s Kyle Clark. Great work. Thank you for your time
tonight. We`ll be right back.
SHARPTON: Thanks for having me, Al.
SHARPTON: We`re back with some rumblings of discontent from within
the GOP. Republicans who are tired of extremism from some in their party.
The latest break with the party comes from conservative columnist Michael
Fumento who worked for President Reagan and wrote for the National Review.
Today, he writes, quote, "I`m horrified that these people have co-opted the
name conservative to scream their messages of hate and anger." And former
Secretary of State Colin Powell says, he is uncomfortable with the tone of
some of the attacks on President Obama dating all the way back to the 2008
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I felt that the Republican
Party at that time was conveying an impression of harshness. It was a
certain ugliness to some of the things that were being said about President
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: And former republican Senator Chuck Hagel says, quote,
"Reagan would not identify with this party. There is a streak of
intolerance in the Republican Party today that scares people."
Joining me now is Meghan McCain, daughter of U.S. Senator John McCain,
and an MSNBC contributor. And Maria Teresa Kumar. President and CEO of
Voto Latino and MSNBC contributor.
Thank you both for your time tonight. Meghan, let there be light,
first of all. You face some criticism from some of the far right in your
party. So, has Colin Powell, right?
MEGHAN MCCAIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes.
SHARPTON: And it`s basically, not that you`re not alone a republican,
it`s just some of the extreme point of views you feel doesn`t represent
your views and main street Republicans.
MCCAIN: Yes. I`m a proud moderate republican, but using the word
moderate in the Republican Party today is considered a dirty word. Many
people in the Republican Party treat me like I`m a freak, like there`s
something wrong with me, and I`m a mutant and from the original design.
And I`m not an extreme conservative, specifically when it comes to my
support for gay marriage. The line that is drawn between extreme
conservatives and moderates, there is -- going on. There isn`t a lot of
room for moderate Republicans. My father is a famous senator, I have an
amazing -- and I`m blessed to have this ability to talk about more moderate
issues. But from most people, if you`re a moderate by many pundits and
many politicians, you`re not considered a real Republicans.
SHARPTON: Let me be clear. You support gay marriage, but you`re pro-
life, you believe in many of the same values they do. But because on a
couple of things you have a different view, you`re considered a freak by
them or treated like that?
MCCAIN: I am treated by a lot of people. I mean, I work for this
network for a reason. I`m treated by a lot of people, you know, if you`re
not an extreme right-wing conservative in today`s Republican Party you`re
given no respect.
SHARPTON: Wow! Maria Teresa Kumar, let me ask you. How do you
respond when you hear that? I mean, it`s almost like you`re dealing with
people that are as intolerant of fellow Republicans that disagree with
them, as they may be of you and I were in another party.
MARIA TERESA KUMAR, VOTO LATINO: Right, well, I think what Meghan is
describing is exactly what the Republican Party, a lot of the leadership
actually fears. Is that they`re going to cannibalize their supporters to
that become so extreme that Republican Party, it doesn`t change it course.
It`s going to be a sun-setting party. Because individuals such as Meghan
McCain are going to become either independent or they`re going to look
elsewhere for support. And what is that mean, it means that the Republican
Party will be the losing party. Because when you start looking at the new
majority of voters, they`re women, single women, they`re people of color,
and they`re young people. So, they want to go to a place that is going to
listen to them, pay attention to their values, but more importantly provide
solutions. And it`s not providing a screaming match where no one has any
opportunity or solutions for their vote.
SHARPTON: Well, if you look at the polls, that the reason NBC Wall
Street Journal poll, it shows the President is leading with all but two
groups. Those two groups are whites and men. African-Americans he`s up,
18 to 34-year-olds he is up, women, he is up, independents he is up. So
Meghan, unless they can talk more to a broader base of people, how can they
hope to be competitive for the White House?
MCCAIN: I keep saying, unless we start becoming a bigger party.
We`re going to continue losing elections. And isn`t the point to win
elections? But I would just like to say, this extremism is happening in
both parties. I mean, there is not a lot of room for moderate Democrats in
today`s, you know, political climate as well. So, this is something that`s
going on. It`s really an epidemic that we have really seen grown in the
past eight years.
SHARPTON: Where do you think this epidemic came from? What caused it
in the last eight years?
MCCAIN: You know, I hate to say this, but really ever since President
Bush. I mean, even President Clinton was sort of a president that would,
you know, act bipartisanly, and really ever since President Bush in the
eyes of, you know, hate politics, I wish I knew more where it came from,
because I don`t understand the popularity of, you know, people like
Michelle Malkin and Andrew Breitbart and people that sort of exacerbate
SHARPTON: These are bloggers.
MCCAIN: And pundits, yes.
SHARPTON: Now, Maria Teresa. When you look at the Latino vote which
is critical, it may even in close election decide the winner or either way
will have impact, the President is leading 61 to 27 for Willard Romney.
Mr. Romney addressed the Latino -- on yesterday. Why is he so far behind
in the Latino community?
KUMAR: Well, he`s turned them off the Latino community with his
stance on immigration and the tone that he`s talked to them. The idea of
self-deportation, the idea of not supporting a dream act, I mean, the list
goes on. But a little bit back to, I think it makes really the difference
between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, is that the
Democratic Party absolutely has their differences but they don`t eat their
young and they basically create an atmosphere with their still debate.
Whereas the Republican Party unfortunately, they are trying to eat their
young and they say that it`s our way or the highway at the extreme right
allowing for a lot of moderate Republicans to defect and become more
SHARPTON: Well, in a couple races of late, they eat their own, too.
SHARPTON: Because we just saw one big lion of the Republican Party
defeated by a Tea Party candidate. Is that progress or not, Meghan?
MCCAIN: I think, she`s exactly right. I mean, the problem that`s
going on in the Republican Party is that if you don`t adhere to everything
their ideal they don`t want you. But I always stand here and say, you
can`t actually kick me out of the Republican Party. Like you can`t
actually do it. There`s no one that I, you know, prefer too. But it`s a
really scary time. I talk to young people all the time that feel like
there is no place for them in the Republican Party, and I still think there
can be hope, I just think, it`s going to take the right leader.
SHARPTON: And when you talk about the hate politics during the Bush
term, you and I referring to Bush, you`re referring to the bloggers and all
that came out in that time?
MCCAIN: Yes, yes. It`s sort of the rise of the hate movement. You
know, and the rise of the internet. I mean, your show is too short to go
into what exactly has happened.
SHARPTON: You`re already going to get the bloggers calling you a
freak for being on saying that with me, at least we don`t need Mr. Bush to
MCCAIN: Oh, no. I`m sorry Mr. Blogger.
SHARPTON: Meghan McCain, Maria-Teresa Kumar. Thanks for your time
MCCAIN: Thank you.
KUMAR: Thank you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Ahead, President Obama`s inauguration is a watershed moment
in the history of United States. Our first black president sworn in, but
111 years ago, a famous dinner at the white House paved the way. Why this
picture taken three years ago still hangs in the west wing? Why it touches
so many Americans? Next.
SHARPTON: Coming up, the power of a photograph. Why this one of the
president and a five-year-old boy is inspirational and proves to millions
that anything is possible. That`s coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: All are equal, all are free,
and all deserve the chance to pursue to full measure of happiness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: President Obama in his inauguration as the first black
president of the nation, whatever your politics, January 21st, 2009, is a
watershed moment in the history of the United States. It was a long time
coming, a long difficult pass from the freedom riots. To Montgomery bus
boycott, freedom summer. Then the march from Selma to Montgomery,
thousands of people standing up to demand a seat at the table for Americans
of all races. But before any of that, there was a dinner in 1901.
President Theodore Roosevelt invited well-known African-American educator
Booker T. Washington to the White House for friendly dinner. It was the
first time and African-American had ever been invited to the White House
for dinner and it shocked the national. And the world for that matter,
creating an international scandal that lasted for years. But it also
Joining me now is Deborah Davis. Her new book is "Guest of Honor"
Booker T. Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, and the White House dinner that
shocked the nation.
Thank you for joining me tonight and thank you for the book. How did
this dinner come about it and why was it so important?
DEBORAH DAVIS, AUTHOR, "GUEST OF HONOR": Well, it`s unbelievable
Reverend to us today that a dinner could have such an impact on the world,
but this particular dinner started out very innocently. Theodore Roosevelt
was consulting Booker T. Washington on matters in the south, and they had
an office meeting schedule, and at the last minute, Roosevelt decided that
he would extend the invitation to dinner. And he hesitated, for one minute
and then thought, no, I wasn`t brought up that way, I have to send this
invitation out regardless of the consequences.
SHARPTON: So, Roosevelt actually hesitated before he sent it out?
DAVIS: He did, he hesitated. And Booker T. Washington hesitated for
a moment before he accepted the invitation knowing full well that there
would be tremendous consequences.
SHARPTON: Now, one thing that was very interesting to me in the book,
is President Roosevelt talked to Mark Twain about this.
DAVIS: He did, and he consulted Mark Twain because there was such a
fire storm of publicity, negative publicity, about this action, that
Roosevelt started to get little worried that I do the right thing. And he
asked Mark Twain, what do you think? Mark Twain said, you should have
thought twice. That was not a good idea. And the reason for that was that
many people believe that the President had no business expressing his
personal feelings about race in the White House.
SHARPTON: Now, Twain said that despite the fact that Twain himself
had been, one that praised Washington and said that Theodore Roosevelt
couldn`t tie Booker T. Washington`s shoes.
DAVIS: Well, actually, he said he wasn`t fit to untie his shoe laces
which is even better.
SHARPTON: Abraham Lincoln met Frederick Douglas at the White House.
But Roosevelt crossed the line. The line was inviting him to dinner.
DAVIS: Exactly. There had been several blacks who had office
appointments at the White House, and blacks built the White House, they
worked at the White House, but never in the history of the country had an
African-American been invited to sit at the President`s table.
SHARPTON: Now, there was a lot of outrage in the south, what about
DAVIS: The north was a little better, I mean, nothing like the south,
but there was still outrage there that the President, too had crossed a
SHARPTON: How did you learn about this?
DAVIS: Very funny where it came from. I was listening to John
McCain`s concession speech on election night, and he mentioned this
historic dinner and the scandal that it had caused. And I had never heard
of it and frankly most Americans haven`t heard of it. It`s one of those
great unexplored moment in history.
SHARPTON: Now, also in the book, you have about how African-Americans
criticize Booker T. Washington over this.
DAVIS: They did, many of them did because they were scared. They
knew that there would be tremendous consequences for what he had done. And
there were, I mean...
SHARPTON: There was a threat even made about we have to kill 1,000 of
them so they know they have place?
DAVIS: Well, this particular quote came from of all places, a U.S.
SHARPTON: A U.S. senator said that we`ve got to kill 1,000 blacks.
DAVIS: We will have to kill a thousand -- he didn`t say blacks.
SHARPTON: Yes, he used the n-word.
DAVIS: He used the n-word. Before they will know their place again.
So, his name appropriately was pitchfork Ben Tillman from South Carolina
but this was a common response.
SHARPTON: Wow! It`s amazing, but it also shows how far we come from
a Booker T. Washington as a huge controversy having dinner in the White
House to now, every night a black president and his family has dinner in
the White House.
DAVIS: And not only do they have dinner, he`s the host.
SHARPTON: And he invites who he wants. Deborah Davis, this is the
book, "Guest of Honor," it`s a book that I wish you a lot of luck with and
I hope people will read it. It`s a time in American history we should
really know about. We`ll be right back.
DAVIS: Thank you.
DAVIS: And finally tonight, the power of a photograph. Take a look
at this picture, it was snapped three years ago inside the Oval Office and
it shows five-year-old Jacob Philadelphia, the son of a former White House
staffer, touching President Obama`s head. After three years, this picture
until hangs in the west wing while others come and go. So how did this
moment become stuck in time? The "New York Times" says, Jacob quietly told
President Obama, "I want to know if my hair is just like yours." The
President told Jacob, why don`t you touch it and see for yourself. When
Jacob hesitated, the President gave him a nudge, "touch it dude."
"Yes, it does feel the same," Jacob said. We talk about the
importance of President Obama breaking barriers and stereo tapes by
becoming the country`s first black president and those are important. But
we must keep breaking those barriers. Not only for African-Americans but
women, gays, everybody. Every barrier we break down, we make the country
bigger, better, we make it live up to its creed. It`s about breaking
barriers and it`s about making every child, no matter who they are, no
matter what their background, know that they can reach the top, the most
powerful position in the world, because somebody just like them has
achieved that. I`m a boy that grew up without a father at home. I looked
up to others to try to be like them. They were the ones that in many ways,
was like me. If you can conceive it, you can achieve it. If you can see
if, you can be it. And every time we make that clear to our young people
in America, we make the country bigger, we make the country better because
we make our young people know that their dreams can become a reality.
Thanks for watching, I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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