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PoliticsNation, Friday, May 25, 2012

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Guests: Jared Bernstein; Ed Rendell; E.J. Dionne, Barbara Lee, Bob Franken, Erin McPike, Nia-Malika Henderson, Brian Banks, Justin Brooks


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

Tonight`s lead, President Obama is raising the intensity of his
campaign to a whole new level and going into full attack mode, making his
most direct case yet for re-election and calling out Willard Mitt Romney by
name. Not once, not twice, but over and over and over in a speech in Iowa.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The world view that
governor Romney gained from his experience as a financial sales explained
something. It explained why the last time he visited these very same
fairgrounds, he famously declared that corporations are people.

Human beings, my friends, that`s what he said.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The president also questioned why Romney`s career as a
businessman qualifies him for the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: See, the job of a president is to lay the foundation for
strong and sustainable growth. Not one where a small group speculators are
cashing in on short term gains. It`s to make sure everybody in this
country gets a share shake. Everybody gets a fair shot. Everybody is
playing by the same set of rules.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And then the president used some colorful language that`s
getting all kinds of attention.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I know governor Romney came to Des Moines last week, warned
about a prairie fire debt. That`s what he said, prairie fire. But he left
out some facts. You know, his speech was more like a cow pie of
distortion.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Cow pie of distortion. Maybe the president was thinking of
statements from Romney like this one --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There`s no question that he
is attacking capitalism, and in part I think because he doesn`t understand
how the free economy works.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Attacking capitalism. Apparently Romney didn`t hear the
president praising Willard`s own chosen field of private equity.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: There`s an important creative role forward in the free market.
Their main goal is to create wealth for them and their investors.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Now, that`s part of the American way, that`s fine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And apparently, Willard doesn`t realize that under the
president, the private sector has added jobs for 26 straight months.

A memo to Romney, his fellow one percenters are doing pretty well
themselves. A new report shows that CEO pay is up six percent this year.
The second straight year of increases.

Joining me now is former Pennsylvania governor, Ed Rendell, now an NBC
news political analyst. And Jared Bernstein, MSNBC contributor and a
former chief economist for vice president Joe Biden.

Thanks to both of you for joining me tonight.

JARED BERNSTEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Sure.

ED RENDELL, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You are welcome, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Governor Rendell, the president is on fire here, really
going on the attack. What do you make of this strategy?

RENDELL: Well, I think what the president is trying to do in his
campaign strategy is really define governor Romney for the American people
before the campaign really gets into full swing and he is choosing what I
think is a great weakness for Governor Romney. The idea that he represents
and cares about people of wealth more than he cares about ordinary working
Americans.

And obviously, that quote "that corporations are people" may be taken
a little out of context, but it shows the mind-set of the governor.
Corporations are not people. Profits may go back to shareholders but
they`re certainly not people.

And the president has every right to question the value system of Bain
Capital. And I`m all for private equity - private equity did a good job
for us here in Pennsylvania.

But Reverend Sharpton, you have to look at the amped case, 350 people
lost their jobs. Maybe that was inevitable. But, they took $100 million
out of the company in profits and most of those workers had their pension
benefits either eliminated or significantly reduced.

Couldn`t someone have said let`s take $80 million out and let`s use
$20 million to preserve pensions? That`s the value system that I think
most investors and most ordinary Americans would favor.

SHARPTON: Yes. Well, Jared, let me ask you this. The president was
not only calling out Romney by name is Iowa. He has done it recently in
speeches all over the place, let me show you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: When you`re president as opposed to the head of a private
equity firm, your job is not simply to maximize profits.

Those of us that spend time in the real world know that the problem is
not that the American people are not productive enough.

Why is he pedaling the same bad ideas that brought our economy to the
brink of collapse. That was tried, remember? The last guy did all of
this. He famously declared corporations were people.

That speech was more like a cow pie of distortion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, the "New York Times" has an article today with the
headline, Obama takes early leap into campaign fray.

Here is the quote. "Some veterans of past campaigns, particularly
Republicans, questioned whether it would take some of the sheen of Mr.
Obama`s stature as president rather than appearing above the fray. Mr.
Obama may look like just another office seeker."

How do you respond to that, Jared?

BERNSTEIN: Well, the guy can`t catch a break, if he doesn`t get in
passion and spirited he`s too cool, but when he starts to kind of put up
the steam like we have seen in some of the recent talks, now he is coming
on too strong.

I think all of that is just noise. I think what really matters from
the perspective of economic policy which is what I bring to this, is these
- are these substantive questions that have been raised. I`m very glad
frankly, that private equity is getting the look it`s getting. Not because
it`s evil or vulture capitalism neither it is the savior of America that
some would portray it as.

But what is really important about it, are two things that the
president has stressed. First of all, job creation is an accidental
outcome of private equity. Sometimes you are going to get jobs, and
sometimes you are going to lay people off.

Private equity firm does not have job creation as one of their
criterion for success. And profitability, maximizing profits, even if it
means layoffs, shipping jobs aboard, as the governor mentioned, slashing
pensions, maximizing profits is the top of the criterion.

And I think the president is absolutely right to bring those into the
debate when his opponent is saying this is how I trained for economic
management.

SHARPTON: Now. Governor Rendell, isn`t that really the point that
the reason private equity and in particular, Bain, is a part of this
campaign, is because governor Romney is the one that said, this is what I
did that qualifies me for job creation?

RENDELL: Sure. Reverend, you might remember that before I was
governor, I was a district attorney. And in court cases, we have a ruling
the judge makes and he says, counselor, you opened the door, now the other
side can cross examine.

And Governor Romney opened the door by using Bain as one of the main
rationales for why he should be elected because he knows how to create
jobs. If he said he knows how to create wealth, I don`t think anybody
would argue with him. But create jobs, We are still waiting to see the
statistics from Bain whether there was a net job creation or net job loss.

But in any event, as Jared said, that`s never been the job of private
equity to create jobs. Their job is to create wealth for their investors,
and that`s not what a president does or the president has to do.

SHARPTON: Now, Jared. New numbers from the "Washington Post" show
that voters believe Romney is the candidate of the one percent while
President Obama is the candidate of the middle class. I mean, the numbers
are clear.

How do you think Romney can counter this? And at the same time,
project his business experience. Or is this a problem that is
insurmountable?

BERNSTEIN: I think the only way for governor Romney to do that is to
somehow convince middle class voters that his plan will help them. And the
problem there is the one that the president raised in one of the clips you
played.

If you actually look - again, let`s go to the policies. If you
actually look at what governor Romney is proposing, it just looks a whole
lot like the playbook that George W. Bush followed. Big tax cuts for those
at the very top of the scale based on this idea that wealth will trickle
down.

So, it is again, trickle down, supply - economics of deregulatory
agenda. He wants to pull back on financial reform, get rid of health care
reform. If you can somehow convince the middle class that miraculously
after all of the experiments where it failed, trickle down deregulatory
supplies, I will finally work, then maybe you have an angle.

Otherwise, I think you just going to be looking at. A lot of folks
are going to say, looks like that agenda helps the very folks like you, the
folks at the very top.

RENDELL: If I can jump in, Rev. It`s even worse than that, the
economic plan that governor Romney offered, the budget he offered, would
had $3 trillion to the debt.

SHARPTON: Right.

RENDELL: You know, he is talking about a prairie fire of debt, his
very economic plan because it cuts some added taxes on the rich, adds $3
trillion to the deficit.

SHARPTON: Now, when you look at all of that, then explain to me,
governor, how the president turns this around, because the same Washington
poll found that Romney couldn`t dos hold a big lead among white, middle
class voters, who are struggling financially given the economic policies,
sounded like Bush, given that he adds to the debt three trillion, how does
the president breakthrough to the white, working class voters?

RENDELL: Well, I think he does it two ways. He talks about the jobs
bill that Republicans in Congress and governor Romney rejected. That jobs
bill would have created a lot of middle class jobs particularly in
infrastructure growth. And he says, what`s the other side is saying? They
are saying trickle down.

Well, even if trickle works, and we know it doesn`t, it is four or
five years down the road. That`s number one.

Number two, he says that those same voters - take a look at what they
want to do. They want to cut taxes on people who are doing extraordinarily
well. They actually raise taxes on a lot of working folks. That doesn`t
make sense, it`s not fair, and there`s no way that will help the economy
grow.

You guys out there, you have to listen to what`s going on. Listen to
the policies and make a judgment based on that. I think if we can get
white working class voters to pay attention to what`s being offered by each
side, I think President Obama has a chance to win a lot of them back.

SHARPTON: Governor Rendell. Jared Bernstein. Thank you both and
have a great memorial day weekend.

BERNSTEIN: You too, Reverend.

RENDELL: You too, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Ahead, how many times has the GOP asked this question?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: American people are still
asking the question, where are the jobs?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Americans want to know, where are the jobs?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are asking where the jobs are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But, Eric Cantor`s agenda has other ideas. Wait till you
see the memo he put out today to Republicans.

And Romney says this campaign gaffe still haunts him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: It means if you don`t like what they do, you can fire them.
I like being able to fire people that provide services to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: OK, so he regrets it. But we are watching what he does,
not what he says.

And in an interview out today, Donald Trump fans the birther flames
again claiming the president was born in Kenya. That`s right. And he will
be fundraising with Mitt Romney next week. Will Romney go ahead with the
plan?

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Up next, Congressman Cantor sent out a memo to house
Republicans today outlining the summer agenda. We have our hands on it.
You won`t believe what they`re plans are. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back on "Politics Nation" with a look at what
Republicans have planned this summer.

Today, Eric Cantor sent around a memo to house Republicans outlining
their summer agenda in this memo. And here are a few highlights from their
master plan.

They want to extend the Bush tax cuts. Cantor is planning a vote by
August. Repeal Obama care, increase domestic energy production and reform
the U.S. postal service plan.

Wait a second. What about job creation? What about the job
legislation? There is nothing here about job creation. I thought Eric
Cantor made it clear that getting Americans back to work was his top
priority.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Either we are going to
get serious about the number one issue which is the creation of jobs, or
not.

Our members are going to be hyper focused on how we go about creating
small business jobs. There`s just not enough jobs being created for people
to get back to work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Get back to work, yet this summer is the summer of tax
cuts, expanding the Keystone Pipeline, and repealing Obama care. But the
president`s summer agenda is pretty clear.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: There are things we can do right now to help create jobs.
We`re also putting thousands of Americans back to work. Create jobbed.

We`re going to put more Americans back to work.

Put more Americans back to work.

Create more jobs right here in the United States of America. That`s
the choice --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now is Congresswoman Barbara Lee, a Democrat
from California, and E.J. Dionne, "Washington Post" columnist, senior
fellow at the Brooklyn Institution and author of "our divided political
heart the battle for the American idea in the age of discontent."

Thank you both, for being here tonight.

REP. BARBARA LEE (D), CALIFORNIA: Happy to be here.

E.J. DIONNE, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: Good to be with you.

SHARPTON: Congresswoman, what do you think of the GOP summer agenda?

LEE: Well, once again, their rhetoric doesn`t meet the reality of
what their summer agenda is. They talk about jobs, yet their summer
agenda, really, is about the same thing they have always been about, and
that the is ensuring that tax cuts remain for the very wealthy, they are
attempting to dismantle the public sector and they`re not talking about how
to create one job.

They will not even allow us to pass the president`s American recovery
act that would create thousands of thousands of jobs. And so, they are not
about creating jobs. I think their agenda for the summer is an ideological
agenda of the Republican tea party. It`s a campaign year, and they`re
trying to campaign, unfortunately, by hurting the American people and
putting out this very backwards agenda.

SHARPTON: Now, Congresswoman. In the memo, Cantor writes.
Republicans - he writes to Republicans that he wants them to help him plan
vote on Bush tax cuts by August. I`m quoting the memo, "before we leave
for August, I expect to schedule a vote on legislation preventing the
largest tax increase history.

Is that durable? Do they have the votes to bring this to a vote? And
what do Democrats do?

LEE: Well, Democrats always stood for middle class tax. Tax cuts
that would help low income individuals and the working poor. The
Republican tea party want to make sure that the Bush tax cuts are extended
so that the very wealthy, the millionaires and the billionaires can
continue to receive the benefits that they have received while continuing
to increase our deficit, and make sure that we don`t have an ability to
create jobs.

That`s what the tea party Republicans agenda is all about. We want to
create jobs by investing in infrastructure, making sure our health care
sector moves forward, and really creating jobs that would really re-ignite
the American dream for all.

SHARPTON: Now, E.J. In your latest book, you write and I`m quoting
from the book, "if everything that matters is at stake, then take enormous
risks with the country`s well-being as the house Republicans did in the
debt ceiling battle is no longer out of bounds. Rather than pushing to the
limits and beyond become a form of patriotism. When your adversary`s goals
are deemed to be dishonorable, it`s better to win the fight and pick up the
pieces later."

Interesting kind of statement E.J.

DIONNE: It sure seems to be what happened on the debt ceiling fight,
and I think you have a different kind of Republican party and a different
kind of conservatism that rejects a lot of things that all conservatism and
certainly liberal Republicans used to support.

I talk about people about people like (INAUDIBLE) who remind how
liberal Republican from your state, New York, who used to remind
Republicans that their party was for national action to end slavery and to
promote civil rights and to build land grant colleges or at great state
universities. Now they have rejected that. But old time conservatives
used to be in favor of basic government action.

At this point, conservatives either seem to reject ideas they once
held either because President Obama proposes them or because the only thing
they`re interested in is tax cuts.

Now, I just have to add one quick point from Steve Bennon (ph), the
great blogger on Maddow (ph) blog. They`re not even consistent on this, he
notes that Mr. Cantor and other conservatives say we can`t cut defense,
because that will hurt the economy. But we can cut everything outs and
that`s good for the economy. I mean, if that`s economics I`ll an NBA super
star. My son might do it. He know how to play the game, but not me.

SHARPTON: But, it seems like their inextricably linked to tax cuts.
I mean, let me show you this one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER: Tax hikes destroy jobs, especially in increase in the
magnitude that set for the first two year.

REP. RYAN PAUL (R), WISCONSIN: Permanent tax increases on job
creators does not help grow the economy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How hoes raising taxes help create jobs? That`s
the question I think most Americans are asking.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, it seems like job creation to them is based on tax
cuts, Congresswoman?

DIONNE: Go ahead, Congresswoman.

LEE: When we look at the Bush era in terms of the tax cuts in the
Bush administration, you saw an increase in the deficit and you saw a job
loss. And you saw that these economic policies put us on the brink of a
depression. There is no way we should go back to the Bush era tax cuts.
What we must do is create jobs. Creating jobs helps reduce the deficit,
but also it helps allow for the American dream for all that has turned,
quite frankly, into a nightmare for so many.

SHARPTON: But E.J., when you look at what they`ve done in 112
congress, they passed protect live act, often referred to as let women die
act, bans federal funds to cover any cost of any health care plan that
covers abortion. Small business tax cut act. Mark Twain commemorative
coin act, permanent electronic duck stamp act of 2012. I mean, none of
these seem like a job creating in any way near it.

DIONNE: The Mark Twain and duck seen the most constructive of that
list.

You know, there is somebody who can answer that question when did tax
increases create jobs? And his name is Bill Clinton. And we raised taxes.
Democrats in congress raised taxes in 1993 so we could balance the budget
and so government could have enough money to do what we government to do.
And we have the best economy we have had in a very, very long time. And it
was one of the few periods toward the end of the Clinton years where rich
people were getting richer but people at the bottom were coming up too.

So, it`s a myth that tax increases another create jobs and it is a
myth that tax increases - tax cuts always create jobs. Because as you
pointed out, the congresswoman pointed out, the tax cuts of the Bush era
did not create such a great economy.

SHARPTON: Congresswoman Barbara Lee and E.J. Dionne, thank you both
for your time tonight. and have a great holiday weekend.

LEE: Thank you. You too, Reverend.

DIONNE: And you too, Reverend. Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, they could not stop ripping President Obama for high
gas prices, so where is the credit now that they`re falling? We could be
waiting a long time.

Plus, the story of the day, ten years after being falsely accused of
rape, a former high school football star is cleared of charges. He will
join me live to tell his incredible story.

And Trump hops back on the birther bandwagon, days before he set a
fund race for Romney. Will mitt be forced to distance himself?

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back, folks.

I want to take a quick trip down memory lane. Do you remember early
this year when all the right could talk about was high gas prices and how
it was President Obama`s fault? Because we weren`t drilling enough, the
argument then, but it was ridiculous.

U.S. oil production is at an eight-year high. The number of drilling
rigs has quadrupled under President Obama and the U.S. now exports more oil
than it imports, but the GOP could not stop pinning the blame on President
Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There`s no question but when
he ran for office he said he wanted to see gasoline prices go up.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Let`s give the President credit for one domestic
policy that we`re at. He wanted higher gas prices and he got them.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The administration`s policies are actually designed
on purpose to bring about higher gas prices.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The high price of
gasoline is a direct result of Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Blaming the President for high gas prices was a good
political move, it just wasn`t true. And now gas prices are going down,
just in time for Memorial Day. That`s right. As millions of people head
to the beaches and barbecues this weekend, they won`t have to pay as much
at the pump. Gas prices has fallen nearly 30 cents since April. A gallon
of gas cost an average of $3.67 today, about 14 cents less than last
Memorial Day. So if it was the President`s fault when gas prices went up,
I guess Republicans are ready to give him credit now they`re down. So
guys, what do you have to say? No? Nothing? Anybody? Any one of you?
I`ve been hearing a lot of those crickets lately. Did the GOP think we
would not point out their empty logic? Nice try but we got you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back with birther claims from Donald Trump that could
pose major problems for Willard Romney. In a new interview, Trump says,
quote, "A book publisher came out three days ago and said that in his
written synopsis of his book, he said he was born in Kenya, raised in
Indonesia, his mother never spent a day in the hospital." Is it any
surprise that Trump has facts wrong? President Obama`s former literary
agent says, the misidentified, his birthplace was done while promoting his
book decades ago. What`s more? The editor who let the mistake go by has
since taken blame for the mishap.

She is saying, quote, "This was nothing more than a fact checking
error by me. There was never any information given to us by Obama in any
of his correspondence or other communications suggesting in any way that he
was worn in Kenya and not Hawaii." End of quote. But the Donald is not
buying it telling the Daily Beast, quote, "He didn`t know he was running
for president so he told the truth. The literary agent wrote down what he
said, he said he was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia. Now, they`re
saying it was a mistake." That`s outrageous. But this Tuesday, Trump is
hosting a Las Vegas fundraiser for Romney and Mitt is expected to be there.
What will he do?

Joining me now, Bob Franken, a syndicated columnist with King
Features. Erin McPike, national political reporter for Real Clear
Politics, and Nia-Malika Henderson, national political reporter for The
Washington Post. Thanks to all of you for being here tonight.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Thank you.

SHARPTON: Erin, let me start with you, what do you make of this?
Will showing up hurt Romney?

ERIN MCPIKE, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: The Romney campaign is not talking
about it. I talked to them earlier today. One of the spokesmen said,
we`ve already dealt with this issue, we do not think the President was born
in Kenya, so they`re not going to be talking about it again, but Donald
Trump is a very effective fundraiser for Mitt Romney. He`s highly
respected in the business community. Larger than life in fact in Las
Vegas. And so, he helps them with their fundraising activity which is what
they really want him for. But they`re not going to be talking about the
birther issue anymore.

SHARPTON: Well, Bob, wouldn`t the fact that he is standing there with
Mitt Romney put the birther issue front and center since Donald Trump,
rather, Mitt is standing there with Donald Trump has trap today is throwing
this out there again. Doesn`t this make this an issue whether they claim
they dealt with it or not? It`s a new issue and they`re standing there
with the guy that`s espousing it.

BOB FRANKEN, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, as a matter of fact, if
they`re going to continue to raise questions about where Barack Obama was
born, perhaps it would be valid to question where Mitt Romney was
manufactured. The fact of the matter is that you have Donald Trump out
there being sort of the enforcer for Mitt Romney. If you think that Mitt
Romney is in any sort of quandary over this, I don`t think that you really
have the experience in politics that you should have. There is always a
bad guy out there, an enforcer in hockey is what they call it, and the
other possibility that I think we have to continue is that really, this is
some sort of vice president audition. See, the problem how it`s going to
be would be whether Mitt Romney would accept number two on the ticket.

HENDERSON: That`s a little hard to believe.

SHARPTON: You are crying or laughing, I couldn`t tell. I mean,
Donald Trump is in the vice presidential sweep stakes?

HENDERSON: I can`t see that primarily, I don`t think Trump would want
to be anybody`s number two. He`s obviously a man who has ginormous ego.

FRANKEN: That`s what I said, yes.

HENDERSON: You know, that`s part of why he does these certain things,
he floats these ideas because he knows it`s going to get him ink. But I
think one of the interesting things about this is I do wonder how much Mitt
Romney is actually going to rely on Donald Trump going forward. We do
understand that they see Donald Trump as a cash cow, he certainly is that.
But I don`t see that he has going to have any real sort of farragoes he
rule for Mitt Romney or out there for instance on the Sunday shows talking
about Mitt Romney`s approach to the economy.

SHARPTON: But will it hurt him to stand there with Donald Trump when
his campaign -- well, let me show you. Earlier today, one of the Romney`s
spokespeople and adviser to be exact was asked about Trump`s latest birther
line talking to Andrea Mitchell, let me show you the sound on that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: He`s made it very clear that he disagrees with
that.

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: So, he`ll stand up next to Donald
Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: He will stand up next to Donald Trump and he`ll
talk about why he wants to be president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But how do you stand next to the king of birthers, of the
birther talk anyway, and not be questioned about it right in front of him.

HENDERSON: Well, I think we`re going to see that on Tuesday. One of
the things about fundraisers is the press is kind of kept at bay at those
fundraisers and I don`t know if we will necessarily get the chance to shout
those sorts of questions out to him. Whether or not, he`ll do press out
there. Perhaps he`ll get that sort of question from a local reporter. But
I do think he`s got to walk a fine line here. But I also think that this
whole issue of surrogates gone wild and being off script from whatever each
of the candidates wants these surrogates -- they have been a recurring
theme in this campaign and I think Mitt Romney has got to be careful a bit
here.

SHARPTON: All right. Well, Erin, I`m depending on you to get into
the fundraiser and raise the question.
OK. Let me get to another story. I want to ask you about Romney
speaking out about his gaffes. An interview with Wall Street Journal, he
says, quote, "I have a couple of those during the campaign which have
haunted me a little bit and I`m sure before this is over will haunt me a
lot." When he was asked about specifics, he mentioned this classic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Nia-Malika, you followed the Romney campaign, what do you
make of this comment?

HENDERSON: Well, I mean, I think he`s very honest. He has been very
gaffe prone throughout this campaign specifically in the primary when he
was raised back was really up against the wall. I think he was in very
much a situation he had not anticipated. Now that he`s rapped up this
nomination, he has been, I fell like over the last couple of weeks, on
message, pretty disciplined, hasn`t made many gaffes but listen, he knows
very well these gaffes are going to haunt him, you see some ads already
that Democrats are putting out that replay these gaffes. You have the
President out there, you know, pushing back against one of those gaffes he
made about corporations being people. So, Democrats aren`t going to let
him forget even if he, you know, wants to sort of apologize and say he made
mistakes.

SHARPTON: Bob?

FRANKEN: First of all, we can call them gaffes, I`m probably going to
end up calling them cow pies. That seems to be a much more apt
description. But the gaffes, seriously, often times reflect somebody who
seems to be out of touch with common concerns and all that kind of thing.
In fact, one can only speculate that maybe the reason that he has Donald
Trump on the stuff is to be some sort of a sensitively counselor or
something.

SHARPTON: Yes. Erin?

MCPIKE: You know, four years ago when Mitt Romney was campaigning for
the presidency, he was not this gaffe prone. And in part, it was because
he talked to the press every single day and spoke a lot more about what he
thought and what he wanted to do as president, should he had been elected
in 2008? In this campaign, his campaign staff has hidden him a lot more
from the press, and they don`t want him talking all that much, and it`s
made him more gun-shy and yes more gaffe-prone. So, he has been a little
bit rusty. In the last couple of weeks though, we have seen him do many
more interviews. So, some part of this campaign knows that they has to
start having him out there more and speaking his mind. Because otherwise,
we`re going to just continue to call him a gaffe prone campaigner and
that`s not what they need going forward.

SHARPTON: Erin, Nia-Malika and Bob. Great panel, thanks for coming
on tonight, have a great holiday weekend. Thank you, guys.

MCPIKE: Take care.

SHARPTON: Ahead, Brian Banks spent five years in prison after being
falsely accused of rape. Now the former high school football star has been
cleared of all charges and he joins me live to tell his emotional story.
Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Up next, ten years after being falsely accused of rape,
Brian Banks finally has his good name back. The former high school
football star has big plans for the future, and he joins me next live.
Next to talk about that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back on POLITICS NATION with what I think is the
story of the day. At 16, Brian Banks was a high school football star with
a college scholarship and a promising future, then a childhood friend
falsely accused him of kidnap and rape and he lost everything. He struck a
plea deal landing him in jail. But yesterday, in a California courtroom,
he took the first step toward getting his life back. He broke down and
cried as his decade long ordeal finally ended after more than five years in
prison, followed by probation, and an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet,
he was cleared of all charges, his accuser now admitting in a secretly
recorded video tape that she lied about everything.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WANETTA GIBSON, BRIAN BANKS` ACCUSER: He did not do it.

INVESTIGATOR: Did he rape you?

GIBSON: No.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: For Brian Banks, the justice system finally worked but it
took ten pain for years. He is one of 2,000 people we`re now learning
about who since 1989 have been locked up for crimes they did not commit.
Like Brian Banks, 129 of those people were convicted of crimes that never
even happened. Folks, the system does work, but we`re getting more proof
that it is also flawed. And that`s why we continue to stand up for
justice.

Joining me now, Brian Banks and his Attorney Justin Brooks, thank you
both for being here tonight. First, congratulations on finally being --

BRIAN BANKS, CLEARED OF RAPE CONVICTION: Thank you for having me.

SHARPTON: First, let me thank you for being here and congratulations
on clearing your name. Did you think this day would ever come, Brian?

BANKS: You know, within the last few weeks that we have been fighting
this case and this appeal, it became more clear that freedom was on the
way, and it`s here today, and I`m just overwhelmed.

SHARPTON: Tell me how this happened.

BANKS: Well, you know, I was blessed to have received a Facebook
contact and request from the alleged victim who in her words wanted to let
bygones be bygones. I wanted to make the best opportunity if possible to
try and get the truth out about what really happened on July of 2002. And
my objective was to have her meet me at a private investigation office
where we could record our conversation and she recanted her complete
statements that were made against me and that got the ball rolling to my
freedom today.

SHARPTON: Now, let me ask the attorney, she refused to come forward
to authorities, but this secret tape is what led to his now clearing his
name, and the California Innocence Project that you and others worked with
needed new evidence to come in and help him, is that correct?

JUSTIN BROOKS, ATTORNEY FOR BRIAN BANKS: Yes. The California
Innocence Project, the California Western School of Law has never taken on
a case in its history where a guy has been released from prison. You know,
we have very limited resources and we got so many lifers and people in
death row in California that we focus on those cases. But when I met with
Brian and I saw that videotape and Brian talked to me about because he was
a convicted sex offender, he really did have a life sentence, we decided to
take it on. You know, last night we were able to finally cut this monitor
off Brian`s ankle, and he`s the guy who`s training to get into the NFL, and
he lifts weights every day but he told me, you know, this is the heaviest
weight that he carried around. So, he really, when you`re a convicted sex
offender, it`s a life sentence.

SHARPTON: Tell me about the moment in caught yesterday Brian when
you were finally cleared? What would you thinking? What went through your
head?

BANKS: So many thoughts? I was reminded of all of the pain and
suffering that I`ve endured these last ten years, but also relieved that
I`m finally a free man and the truth is actually out today. So, it was
just nothing short of a blessing, I`m just, I`m glad to be free. I`m just
very happy.

SHARPTON: Now, you had never been in trouble before. You knew you
were innocent, but you plead guilty, why?

BANKS: Well, it wasn`t necessarily a choice I wanted to make, rather
a choice that I was pretty much forced into taking. I was told that I had
either one or two options. I could face 41 years to life in prison, or I
could plea to one count of rape, and go on a 90 day observation in Chino
State Prison and there it would be determined that I received a got
probation three years or six years. Well, the lawyer that I had at the
time had promised me that in any event if I took this plea bargain, she
could guarantee that I would receive no more than three years. I had
already served a year of time served. And so, I would remain of 18 months
left on that sense and she said, I`d be young and still be able to play
football and live life and, or, I could face 41 years to life, going into
this courtroom and be viewed as a big black teenager and automatically be
viewed as guilty.

SHARPTON: She said that, the lawyer said that.

BROOKS: That`s a moral to the story in this case, you know?

BANKS: Yes.

BROOKS: And that`s what this case is really about, you know, and what
we need to talk about. Plea bargains have become the 95 percent solution.
And you take a 17-year-old kid and he`s sitting here and has to make the
decision between going to trial and rolling the dice and maybe dying in
prison or taking this plea offer, and we know that innocent people
sometimes plead guilty and that`s a real problem in our system.

SHARPTON: How do we address that, attorney?

BROOKS: Well, we`re really the only country in the world that uses
this process to the excess that we do. We need to take a look at our
sentencing policies and we can`t have them to be such a point where you
don`t want to risk going to trial even if you`re innocent. We also need to
give more resources to the defense, so investigations are done prior to
plea bargains. The Supreme Court recently said in the decision that plea
bargains have become almost the entire criminal justice system. You know,
that what we see on TV with trials only happens in five percent of cases.
So, we need to have those resources early on and we can`t have kids making
these decisions without really good counseling.

SHARPTON: Brian, let me ask you quickly. What`s next for you? What
are your dreams?

BANKS: My dreams are to play football. I have been training hard
since October of last year in preparation for this day. And now, it`s
here, I`m ready to take on some tryouts in the NFL.

SHARPTON: All right. Brian, incredible story, good luck to you,
incredible, incredible, incredible.

BANKS: Thank you so much.

SHARPTON: We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The holiday weekend is here. Get ready for the barbecues,
beach, and some relaxation. I hope everyone has a great time hanging with
family and friends. But let`s not forget what Memorial Day is all about.
It`s a national day of remembrance, the way to honor the more than one
million men and women who have lost their lives fighting for the liberties
we don`t enjoy elsewhere but enjoy here. On Monday, President Obama and
the first lady will visit Arlington National Cemetery and place a wreath on
the tomb of the unknowns. They will then join the Vice President and Dr.
Biden at the Vietnam Veteran`s Memorial. Where they will officially kick
off a 13-year program where the federal government will partner with local
governments and business to honor Vietnam War veterans.

But today, following a tradition of President since 1950, President
Obama issued a proclamation calling on Americans to unite in prayer for
permanent peace this Monday. Whatever your politics are, what we can all
agree on is our love for our troops fighting oversees and for those who
never made it home. Through the years, different troops came back to
different circumstances. Some came back and did not have the same rights
as those that they fought for as we were reminded this year in the movie
red tails. Some women came back to unequal pay, some could not speak well
the English language and were told to take tests when they came home. But
all of them fought regardless of inequality. They equally sacrificed and
many gave their life.

Let`s remember the greatest tribute to them is to make a country that
makes what they fought for fair and equal for everybody. They fought for
united and equal America. We should remember them and then we should go
make that America happen.

Thanks for watching, I`m Al Sharpton, have a great holiday weekend.
"HARDBALL" starts right now.

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