'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Sunday, June 3, 2012
Read the transcript to the Sunday show
Guests: Douglas Wilder, Ari Melber, Marty Beil, Marc Morial, Jay Smooth, Lisa Graves
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
Before we begin, a couple of developments overnight to bring you up to
As protests in Egypt continue to react to yesterday`s verdict sentencing
Hosni Mubarak to life in prison, the associated press is now reporting that
a top prosecutor plans to appeal the verdict. Several of Mubarak`s aids
were acquitted at level four, president was charged with killing of
protestors in last year`s Arab Spring.
And, George Zimmerman is back in Florida and is expected to turn himself in
and return to jail within the next few hours. A judge revoked his bond on
Friday saying Zimmerman lied about his financial situation. And we are
going to bring you that live as it happens.
But, first, our top political story.
It was this day, four years ago, June 3rd, 2008, that Barack Obama clinched
the Democratic nomination after what seen like an endless primary. And
now, once again, it is game time. And the Obama for America 20 full
campaign has come out swinging. They have been getting their licks and
jams on Mitt Romney. Bam! They hit him on his Bain record. Bam! They
got him for embracing britherism for proponents, Donald Trump and they
punched him on his record as governor asthma Massachusetts.
More on Romney later because I want to do something different today. As
fun as this boxing match is to watch, it`s time for President Obama to make
the affirmative case for why we should re-elect him.
And as he might say, let me be clear. This is not about rewarding the
president for a completed job or because Mitt Romney is scary. I mean,
maybe a little bit on that last part.
But this is actually about convincing the nation to choose Obama`s vision
in 2012 and is did in 2008. And see, that 2008 vision was so successful
because what he conveyed to the American people is that it was not about
him. It was about us.
You remember 2006, fueled by powerful NT more sentiments, voters gave back
to Democrats. President Bush`s response to the sweeping disenchantment
with the Warner Rock, a true surge. It was as though the Bush
administration said, voters you just don`t matter. So, it`s no surprise
that so many were ready to embrace the message of, yes, we can which
translated into yes, you matter to you government.
Still, even on election night, President elect Obama who is honest that it
was not be easy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The road ahead will be long.
Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one
term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that
we will get there. I promise you. We as a people will get there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: He was honest but hopeful. And somebody say that the vision
of hope and change didn`t last long because in 2010 the tea party invasion
began. But, actually, I`d argue that the populism of the tea party was
unleashed by the 2008 campaign.
Now, I may not agree with its agenda but it does show the help of
participatory democracy. That was then. This is now.
President Obama in his campaign needs to go communicate his vision for
America to go forward. To stimulus and a renewed sense of cooperation.
And most importantly, by running on his record. Because there are actual
First, there`s the economy. Yes, you heard me. I said the economy.
Friday`s jobs numbers were not exactly on inspiring with unemployment
ticking up to 8.2 percent and only69,000 jobs created.
But, again, let`s be clear. President Obama didn`t create this recession.
He inherited it. Still, he was elected in part to fix it. And there`s
good evidence that the American recovery and re-investment act of 2009 and
the American jobs act of 2011, halted the economic decline and has this on
a pathway to recovery.
But even more importantly, the president has insisted that while we`re
still in an economic downturn, the government must do what it can to
protect the most vulnerable by extending unemployment benefit, cutting the
payroll, maintaining low taxes for middle class families and even extending
the social safety net to healthcare reform and through subsidies.
Second, there is this record on social civil equality. Prepare yourself
because I`m about to go in.
The first, the very first bill that President Obama signed into law was the
Lilly Ledbetter fair pay act that allows women, great to redress to get
equal pay. Then on December 22nd, 2010, President Obama signed the repeal
of don`t ask, don`t tell, which was officially done away with in September
For the first time, servicemen and women had the opportunity to serve
openly and freely as themselves. I got to tell you, I know we all
remember, the endorsement here around the world when the president came out
and support of same-sex marriage last month.
And of course, let us not forget the president`s accomplishment on foreign
policy and this international doctor. He has kept his promise and ended
combat operation in Iraq by August 31st, 2010 and removed all troops there
by the end of 2011.
And then, there is this accomplishment. Now, while death itself shouldn`t
be celebrated, the elimination of Osama bin Laden ended a nearly ten-year
man hunt for the person responsible for orchestrating the 9/11 attacks.
These three areas, the economy, social and civil equality, and foreign
policy show that although President Obama hasn`t accomplished everything,
he`s made bold attempt at change and has actually accomplished quite a bit.
His record is one that any incumbent should stand on. And it`s a record
that we, the people, should be proud of him, most importantly, he knows
that the job is not does but is determined to finish it.
Now, he`ll have to effectively communicate this case affirmatively, not
At the table with me is former DNC communications director, now, MSNBC`s
political analyst Karen Finney, Ari Melber, correspondent for "the Nation"
who is an MSNBC contributor and a former staffer on John Kerry`s
presidential campaign and I was doing a little dance earlier because also
at the table is former Virginia governor Doug Wilder.
DOUGLAS WILDER (D), FORMER VIRGINIA GOVERNOR: Good to be with you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Good to be with you. It is so nice to have you all here.
I want to start with you, governor, because when you were elected, governor
of Virginia, you knew from the day that you took office that you would not
run for re-election.
WILDER: I couldn`t.
HARRIS-PERRY: could not run for re-election because of term limits.
WILDER: That`s correct.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, does it actually make a difference when one is governing
towards re-election that I feel is a common theme that we hear what we can
expect from President Obama in the first term is different than the second
because he`s governing towards re-election?
WILDER: Well, you`re freed. Pretty much freed of having to worry about
being re-elected to that job. And there are some that served in that
position you wanted to be something else and then ought to be something
But you are absolutely right. I was struck with the need to do all that I
had to do within that four-year period of time and I think the Obama
administration to the contrary has to be realistic. And to understand that
you work with limited mean, you have to concern yourself with what goes on.
But I was very struck with what you said earlier in terms of saying that
the affirmative record, just to not be defensive about it and this was one
of the things that I always tried to -- this is where I stood. This is
where I stand. This is what inherited. But I didn`t spend that much time
talking about how bad it was other than to say, this is what it`s going to
be. I think one of the things that the president could do more
definitively would be to say, this is as tough of a job as you`ll ever
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. This was the onion headline right, on the day after
the election. The onion headline was something like, you know, African-
American gets worst job in the country because who wanted to be president
in November 2008? It was a - you black man given nation`s worst job.
WILDER: Or having said that, I had learned a great deal and this job in
doing what I`ve done for the past three years, I have learned more than I
knew before I came, obviously.
WILDER: And I`ve learned how to improve on what I`ve already done. These
are the things that I have done.
WILDER: And pick up what you have said, yes.
It`s funny because a couple weeks before the election we were looking at
each other at the DNC like, if we don`t lose this thing, I don`t know.
This is going to be a big mess.
KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, I agree. And I think the
president has tried to do that and it`s always a balance in a re-election
right, because any time you`re running for re-election, Democrat or
Republican, you`re on defense just by the virtue of the fact is that you
have a challenger whose job it is to say, this is why this guy shouldn`t
get re-elected so you have to defend your record and also the vice
president I think does a good job as part of that.
But you are right that president is also has to be firm. And I think that
is what he tried to do in the same union by talking about the blueprint.
And frankly, I think if you look back over the last three years, a lot of
what he`s talked about is our future, why we need to invest in education
for the future? Why we need to make investments in infrastructure for our
future? Because the truth is, that for eight years, we weren`t making
So, I think that balance is important. And then last thing I will say is,
unfortunately, I think the president has had to spend more time than he
probably should have to talking about what he inherited because so much of
the way the Republicans cast what is going on doesn`t acknowledge --
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. It feels like part of the conversation is about
bringing the middle and even conservatives or convincing them. But the
other piece of it, I mean, you and I both write for "the Nation," right, so
we know that there`s also sort of this group on the left whose anxiety with
the president has to do with feeling like it didn`t go far enough. So,
rather that he`s an as social who impose health care reform as you often
hear from the right, instead as he gave up a big insurance give away in the
health care reform.
Can we bring the leftover within affirmative case?
ARI MELBER, THE NATION CORRESPONDENT: I think he can. And I think part of
the issue that applies to left and the rest of the country because it`s an
issue for human beings is we all have short memories even those who care
about the subject there, politics or anything.
And so, the list is long of the accomplishments. You went through several.
There are many more. I mean people forget. During the 2008 campaign
President Obama ran on a $50 million stimulus. John McCain ran on zero
stimulus for the argument about tax cuts being stimulative. Obama got into
office and gave us not 100, not 200, but $700 billion stimulus.
T.A.R.P. was controversial but this administration wound down aspects of
within cooperation with the fed, at a net gain. Bailed out Detroit auto
with an $8.6 billion loan to Chrysler that has been fully repaid. Sold the
stake of that to fiat at a net gain.
So, when you look at -- this is the stuff and you contrast that to Romney
saying, does he know how to build a balance sheet, that`s bigger than a
balance -- does that mean that everyone has jobs? No.
And so, I think what happens with the administration and it is an argument
for progressives all well as everyone else is, we`ve done a lot of
tremendously successful things on the home front managing a crisis economy
and they don`t always lead with that. And I actually think they might.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, absolutely. So, when we come back, I want to not only
talk about the economic record because I think there are more to say on.
But also this question about whether or not he is doing the work of being a
champion for equality. There`s critique on both sides of that.
And later, we are going to take you live to England. Why? Because it`s
the queen`s jubilee. Don`t go away. She doesn`t have to worry about re-
HARRIS-PERRY: President Obama has supported many thesis of socially called
in civil right legislations during his presidency. Because of his support
for same-sex marriage, the president is out in front of the issue and it`s
possible that people are taking his lead.
On Thursday, the defense of marriage act was declared unconstitutional by a
Boston federal appeals court. The president`s record is clear. It shows a
desire to ensure that every American is treated fully and as a full
We are back with MSNBC political Karen Finney and Nations` Ari Melber and
former Virginia governor, Doug Wilder.
OK. Here`s my question for you, Karen, on this issue of social and civil
equality. Because you sent me an e-mail link to the piece by Fred Harris
saying that we are still waiting on our first African-American president
and this critique that the president has been insufficient on issues of
racial equality. And I`m thinking, wait a minute. We have (INAUDIBLE)
settlement for -- on African-American farmers. We`ve got the fair
sentencing act around reducing the crack and cocaine piece. We have real
sort of accomplishments here. Lilly Ledbetter has an impact on African-
American women who are more likely to be single family wage earns.
FINNEY: Health care reform.
HARRIS-PERRY: Health care reform.
FINNEY: I mean, sure.
HARRIS-PERRY: Has the president does none on race? I need you to breaks.
FINNEY: You know, obviously, this is a very controversial topic at this
point. You know, in that article, this is pointing out that some African-
American`s look at was half of the LGBT community and feel like, you know,
where is the agenda for black America?
And to me, you know what I see the president doing and I think I`ve said
this to you before, one of the pieces from the David (INAUDIBLE) book that
I think got the least amount of attention but I think was the most
important, was him talking about his own personal journey where he says,
I`ve got to embrace it all because of it makes heritage. And when you
listen to what he talks about, that`s how he talks about these issues of
I mean, again, they see health care. We were talking about it a lot
yesterday as a right for everyone. It talks about economic inequality.
He`s talking about everyone. So, I think in the language of the president,
he believes he`s trying to help everyone with, you know, we`re going to
lift all votes and perhaps not the, we need to do this sector, that sector,
that sector with some, you know, obvious exceptions.
So, I think that`s the balance that we have and as the first black
president is, how do you balance the expectations of a community at the
same time know that you`ve got to be the president of everybody? I think
you need to do more to communicate the impact on the African-American
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Yes.
And Governor Wilder, you faced exactly this question in many ways during
your tenure as the first African-American governor since reconstruction and
the question about whether or not you`re sort of, well at the times,
considered as relatively de-racialized way of thinking about governing the
state, whether or not it was doing enough for black folks in Virginia. Is
it a communications issue?
WILDER: Part of that. But more of the thing that I was also concerned was
it would a certain that while I was there, when I left there, you could see
that imprint. You could be certain to see people who looked like me, who
were a part of me in various positions that have never been there before.
Every board, every commission, women, African-Americans, minorities were
Now, was it a lot of noise made about it? Was it a lot of news made about
it? No. Because I was picking qualified people. And I think that`s one
of the things that could be done in terms of saying, yes, this is has been
on solemnly. You know that piece yesterday on your show relative to what
is going on with reference to the purging and people being put out. That
justice department headed by Eric Holder is doing a tremendous job now
making certain those things are not going to continue. And who was it
directed to? Minorities, African-Americans, black, brown people. And so,
if that doesn`t get corrected, we`re going to lose several million votes.
FINNEY: Right. And there was a period at the justice department under
Bush where they were not even pressed to going after affirmative action
cases and they were told to not talk about that.
WILDER: What`s wrong with him saying that, this is what we are doing here.
HARRIS-PERRY: Always, like the justice department one is the one that
we`re talking about, where is the agenda, where is the legislation? But,
the justice department was always threading that needle. I mean, the
voting rights act issue right now is you bring the voting rights act to
this Supreme Court?
I mean, it was like, I hear people saying, you need to be more aggressive.
And I`m thinking, trust me, you do not want it coming before this Supreme
MELBER: I think a large degree is a question of emphasis and it`s, who are
we talking about when we talk about black America?
Are we talking about Barack Obama, and Oprah, and Jay-Z. We are in an
exciting area where we`ve had a lot of progress or we are talking about
Trayvon Martin and African-American men under the wage of 25 in New York
City. There was tremendous statistics in New York City when you look at
the stop and frisk policy. There were more African-American males stopped
under the stop and frisk policy and the African-American males lived in New
So, that means they bring in the tourists and the other bureaus. And so,
you are -- in New York City it`s a diverse, wonderful place to live.
HARRIS-PERRY: With a fairly diverse police force.
MELBER: With a fairly diverse police and a lot of progress compared to
other period. But again, are we talking about this New York or that New
York for a lot of African-American males walking around New York. It is a
fundamentally different experience than for other people.
And so, when I think back to compare that to what was said about Trayvon
Martin, that it would look like his son, that was powerful and it was
meaningful. But it was played out on the scale on I would call an
individual case. It was not played out in the scale of criminal justice
HARRIS-PERRY: But, there has been sentence. I mean, the fair sentencing
act was one of the first thing post Lilly Ledbetter that the fair
sentencing which reduced the disparity between crack and powder cocaine
which is an important one on the federal level. But like, even the point
around sort of stop and frisk feels more local to me. And I wonder about
the ways that we are hoping for the president to also be behaving as the
mayor and as the governor.
MELBER: Well, just one more thing, what I mean about emphasis is, if you
look say at affirmative action policies, right, which has always been a
divisive issue but an important one. This administration has the right
position. This case is going to the Supreme Court.
MELBER: But, I don`t think you are going to the knowledgeable legal minds
while of this administration emphasis that because while they have the
right decision, the decision is going to be made by a conservative leanings
And so, their view is, we are doing what we can. We`ll see what happens.
But politically, we`re not going to tout something that might be a law.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Everybody wants a little more fight. That how we head
our MC like, you know, rough neck.
OK, when we come back, Karen.
But up next, we are electing a war president. We are at war when he became
president. We are still at war. How is the president`s foreign policy
legacy part of his story when we return.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yesterday, Syria`s violence had pour all over and supporters
and opponents of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad clashed in neighboring
Lebanon. According to Al Jazeera, the fighting left 13 people dead and 40
Now, remains to be seen how the Obama doctrine will play outgoing forward
in Syria and how it will affect the president`s legacy on foreign policy
At the table, MSNBC analyst, Karen Finney, former Rick Santorum`s
communication and current MSNBC contributor Robert Traynham because we have
to finally need to let a Republican speak and former Virginia governor,
Doug Wilder and, I`m so excited, the hip-hop D.J, Jay Smooth who is also a
radio host and video blogger whose blogs we listen to all the time in a
So, the foreign policy piece is undoubtedly part of what the president has
been touting. Connect that to the case for Obama.
FINNEY: OK. Well, a couple of things. Number one, he said he was going
to get Osama bin Laden no matter what and he did. And that`s important not
only because in conjunction with the other successes that they`ve had with
regard to al Qaeda, which I think has done a lot to destabilize al Qaeda,
which is important and part of our goal, you catch really where the war is.
It was - I think as we saw, it was an important mental victory for this
country in ways and as you said, maybe we shouldn`t be celebrating that.
It`s done. People needed to see some kind of milestone like that.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. And Robert, I want ask you this because when candidate
Romney was ask about a grade for the president. He gave the president
quite a poor grade and then he was asked about the Osama bin Laden - he
continued about the progress. Let`s take a quick listen as to what Mitt
Romney had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: What grade would you give President Obama?
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: An "F." No question about that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: All across the board?
ROMNEY: Across the board.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Even despite the killing of Osama bin Laden?
ROMNEY: Well, when I look at foreign policy and look at his decisions
across the board of foreign policy, I look at the fact that he was looking
to have a force of American troops staying in Iraq, securing what has been
so hard to win there with status of forces agreement be failed to achieve
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: He can`t even get a c-minus on Osama bin Laden?
As a professor, he great to what it occurred.
ROBERT TRAYNHAM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Let`s be honest about this. What he`s
doing is grading the president solely on Iraq and Afghanistan. That`s not
the entire picture. That`s not the entire globe. When you look at the
president`s foreign policy record for the benefit of hindsight. From a
conservative point of view, he`s done a very good job with Guantanamo. He
has done a very good job in managing Egypt. He has done a pretty good job
in terms of obviously killing Osama bin Laden which was something that he
said he was going to do and he promised that he was going to do.
So, at the benefit of hindsight, I would give this president probably a "b
minus" or perhaps a "c plus." However, Afghanistan and Iraq is a big, big
piece of that picture and unfortunately he has failed on that on a number
FINNEY: Wait. On Iraq? Can I explain a point because you know, the other
thing Romney says is, that president is an apologist. But the reason we
this sudden forced agreement in Iraq and part of the reason we said we are
pull our troops out, is because he - the Iraqis would not give the
president what he wanted to protect our troops.
So, he said, you know what, we`re out. If I can`t have a certain level of
protection, that`s not apologizing. That`s saying, I`m going to look out
for my guys and we are going to do if we can`t secure, if we can`t be
confident in our ability to secure our own people. I think that is an
WILDER: I think he said though, all the way through, I`m going to listen
to my generals. I`m going to listen to my advisers. He has done that. I
think more importantly, though, the biggest check in his armor, when he was
running in 2008, people were attacking him by saying he had absolutely no
foreign policy experience. He would be unfair. He would be less. He
would be that and out. No one is saying that they, even Robert, is saying
to b minus.
TRAYNHAM: Listen to me. Fast forward to now, I mean, what it would be
great to inform a foreign policy`s standpoint. How he handles this EU
situation with Greece and with France, with the whole austerity question.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Which is not foreign policy issue , but also an
economic issue, right, it is about a connection with the global economy.
TRAYNHAM: And I`m not sure most Americans understand how literally tied to
the hip we are from a financial standpoint.
WILDER: But as he said, continuously, we as Americans cannot do it alone.
We cannot do it by ourselves.
HARRIS-PERRY: And, Jay. That comes across that he is an apologist, right?
That he doesn`t understand that American is special and unique when he`s
like, we`re in a global economic web here.
JAY SMOOTH, HIP-HOP DISC JOCKEY: Right. I think it`s funny because in a
way it might be easier to critique him from the left than the right on the
foreign policy. I mean, as indicted in more lefty, I can`t use words.
There isn`t quite as much differentiation between this administration and
the Cheney administration as I would hope for.
But relative to the arguments to be made from the right, honestly, how you
deny that he has shown strength and his been strength with a combination of
restrain and pragmatism that even though there may be a dash of Cheney
that`s unsafe to me, it is clearly preferable to going the whole Cheney.
HARRIS-PERRY: Just a little dash of it, right?
TRAYNHAM: Conservatives whisper about, they don`t talk about it openly, is
that they believe that the president doesn`t believe in exceptionalism.
And I think to Karen`s point, her earlier point about the apologizing, the
whole nine yards is whether or not this president believes in American
exceptionalism. It is very troubling.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s odd to me because -- that`s actually been his platform.
You know, when we were talking earlier about this sort of question of
whether or not we have the first like president. Part of the sort of
impulse I always feel from President Obama is almost that immigrant impulse
about the sort of big -- this big story of America, right, and I can
remember in that race speech in Philadelphia when he`s talking about the
experiences of his former pastor, and he is saying, OK, here is part of my
- he is so pessimistic, but let me tell you my big story about why I`m so
TRAYNHAM: You know what`s interesting because he -- in many ways, a Ronald
Reagan was very simplistic about Americans exceptionalism and Americans
obviously got that. In many ways, President Obama over thinks it and in a
FINNEY: He says only --
SMOOTH: He got it in a good way.
HARRIS-PERRY: You think he got it in a good way here.
FINNEY: No. But I mean, Obama also says, only in America is my story
possible. That is as - you know, to me, that`s as cut, dry, clear, simple,
a beautiful statement as you can make about this country on an economic
level, if you consider his humble beginning from an economic standpoint,
from a racial standpoint. And I think there`s so many lines through which
you can view his life and say, that is a big American story and he says,
this is why America is great.
HARRIS-PERRY: And when we come back, we`re going to talk about the fact
that it`s not just the president running, he is running against his
opponent. And I can`t wait to hear Jay Smooth talk about it, Mitt Romney.
Later in the hour, Wisconsin and why this is really not a bellwether. Stay
HARRIS-PERRY: The affirmative case for why President Obama should be re-
elected. But, to be fair, this election is ultimately a choice between two
candidates. So, we can`t really ignore Mitt Romney especially since today
marks the one-year anniversary of Romney entering the campaign. Let`s take
a look at how one voter feels.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SMOOTH: Mitt Romney`s greatest strength is that he`s incapable of making a
strong impression. Whether you`re for him or against him intuitively the
strongest thing you can ever feel about him is mock. If mock was an option
in opinion polls, his approval rating would be like 98 percent mock.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: I`m back with Karen Finney, Robert Traynham, Governor Doug
Wilder and that one voter whose video we just feature, Jay Smooth.
So Jay, I mean, yes, it lose at it. So, he feels like ne. But, isn`t that
potentially bad for President Obama in that a really scary opponent can be
at least as important as a good strong affirmative case. Is there a way
for Mitt Romney more like than --
SMOOTH: Yes. I think in the funny way, there`s in sincerity might be his
greatest asset. Because he is so boring and insincere that he could lull
swing voters into a false sense of security where even if he is spouse in
positions that their opposed to. They tell themselves, well, he doesn`t
believe half the things he says and he probably won`t fight too hard for
So, I think it could when you`re choosing between two flavors of
alienation. If the dissolution with Obama but you are not sure if you
trust Romney, and the fact that he`s so wishy washy and almost like a
cipher, it might make you think it`s safe to vote for him.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. This for me, is impart the question for small
government folks. If you are a small govern ideolog, then what is your
affirm - what is your affirmative case for becoming president of a
government that you want to make as small as possible?
TRAYNHAM: Well, liberal. I mean, elections are all about choices. And
when you are in a company, one of your re-election is really all about you.
And so the question is, maybe OK.
You know, I look at it as Mitt Romney may be the standard package and
Barack Obama maybe the premium package, and there a lot of people just
saying, you know what, I`m trying to eat all these. I`m not sure I need to
pay your or to extend all of these other things to get the premium package.
And so, therefore, perhaps maybe my choice should be the standard package.
Mitt Romney is a not a charismatic guy. He doesn`t connect with me on all
the issues. But, you know what, maybe that is OK for the next four years.
HARRIS-PERRY: Let`s take a look quickly of the polls. We do have the
favorability ratings right now for the president. And again, if you are
running for re-election, it is truly about you. We have got President
Obama`s favorability rating at 52 percent. Romney is still lagging at 41.
This is not a likelihood of voting, this is favorability. But, clearly
right now President Obama still is more liked.
FINNEY: Yes. Although I wanted to say, Robert, I love you but I`ve got to
call you out on something. Part of the Republican talking point and
messaging that we are seeing is this, you were lulled by the rhetoric in
the celebrity, you know.
FINNEY: And part of that is about, to some degree, undermining his
character and undermining President Obama. And look, again, I think we all
had a lot of hope in 2008 and I think there were a lot of it was
But, I also think that within that - I mean, part of what they are trying
to do is say, it`s OK. You know, you were fooled that last time. It`s OK
if you don`t want to vote for him again. And I don`t want voters to be
taken off track that taxes are lower. He is reigning the deficit. I mean,
there`s a real record there that when we come down to a debate.
WILDER: Here`s what you said earlier which I completely agree with.
Romney, however he is raised in the polls, et cetera, et cetera, he doesn`t
come off as I go with water tank. He doesn`t come off threatening. He
doesn`t come off saying, I`m scared of him.
Just like you say, he might not be the premium but the real issue here is
the anti--Obama feeling is that going to be overcome by this playing
HARRIS-PERRY: And I`m wondering governor, if he can make an economic case
here and make the clarity, the scary part, not the Romney as a person.
Because he seems actually like a really nice person. Maybe mad but, you
But the question is, can he say OK, here you`ll get austerity and what I`m
going to provide you with a stimulus. And when we look in stimulus, you
can see that little bikini graph that everybody has been seeing right, that
actually shows --
WILDER: But what you have done is say exactly what the election is going
to be about money, going to be above the economy, and it is going to above
jobs and that is not going to change between now and November.
TRAYNHAM: And Melissa, the unfortunate tribute because we have 8.2
unemployment rating. No president won the re-election since FDR with those
numbers. GDP is at 1.2. Any president who won re-election should be at
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. But that said, that slide, I mean, sort of a massive
slide that happened around GDP. And the other thing is, when you look at
that 8.2 unemployment, you got to admit, it`s being driven by government,
by political -- the public sector shedding jobs. Private sectors making
them and Republican sectors are shedding jobs.
FINNEY: The case that Romney is making though, feels like, let`s go back
to things that we think most of us as Democrats, in terms of trickled down
and what I would say is, the critique on Obama is, the problem I have is
there`s no parallel fantasy universe where we can compare and say. If we
would have done these things we would have four percent unemployment. We
are where we are.
And so, I think you have to judge based on here`s where we started, here`s
where we are. Here`s what Romney is proposing and what do we know, what
data do we have, forget the emotion, what data do we have to suggest that
that will work when it has in the past?
HARRIS-PERRY: We will stay -- we will undoubtedly, over the course of this
campaign, have this conversation many times. As my last point, I will say
the president kept his very, very first campaign promise which was
immediately after being elected, he said I`m getting the girls a dog.
HARRIS-PERRY: Up next, if the thought of Mitt Romney as president makes
you nervous, how about some of the folks that he`s considering as his vice
president. You know, that`s actually there. We`re going to take a pop
quiz on vice presidential hopefuls when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right now Mitt Romney has one huge decision to make in what
is generally considered the first presidentish decision that the party`s
presumptive nominee will make the candidate must take his running mate,
which brings me to our current segment, pop quiz.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So today`s topic, is, of course, running mate of both
yesterday and today. And everyone at the table has a bell and I`m going to
just kind of give you a little question and then you guys will ring it if
you think you know the answer. OK.
So, Mitt Romney, this election is completely up to him, right. He is going
to the choice. But it was not always true. Used to be that when you ran
for president it was the person who got the second most Electoral College
votes who became your vice president. That changed in 1812 with the 12th
amendment. The party got to pick the vice president.
Who was the first president who got to pick his own vice president and who
did he pick? Yes, governor.
WILDER: I yield.
TRAYNHAM: I was going to say Woodrow Wilson.
HARRIS-PERRY: Good idea. It was FDR and it was in his third term in 1940
and his election was secretary of agriculture Henry A. Wallace because his
first VP didn`t want him to run for the third. He was like, you know what,
HARRIS-PERRY: And we are doing it. OK. Second question, are you in it,
All right. Which running mate had this classic zinger, but not actually a
singer, during a three-man vice presidential debate. He said, you know, I
didn`t have my hearing aid turned up. Please ask me again.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. You got it. Stockdale. Admiral James Stockdale.
WILDER: Why am I here?
HARRIS-PERRY: And you know, his middle name was Bond. We might have had a
vice president named James Bond. That would have been something. OK.
Coming a little more to the current moment, which potential Romney running
mate recently suggested that unmanned drones should police his state?
WILDER: I can`t believe it would be the governor of Virginia.
HARRIS-PERRY: You got it. Yes, my friend. That`s why I was looking at
WILDER: I got the hint.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Yes. Mr. Tran`s vaginal ultrasound is also Mr. Drone
guy. Thank you, Virginia governor.
FINNEY: I thought for having rang the bell. But I do not.
HARRIS-PERRY: I know. That`s why I heard the bell and then I jump in.
WILDER: She ignored.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. Which potential Romney pick learned to speak Spanish
from Mexican cowboys while working on a ranch? And he was recently with
Prime Minister Netanyahu as a hint. Yes?
FINNEY: Now his name went right out of my head.
HARRIS-PERRY: Give me the state.
FINNEY: Ohio? Rob Portman.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. Senator Rob Portman. By the way, he also has
a titanium collarbone of by biking accident and when his wife asked, he
builds her a chicken coup in the backyard.
OK. Last one. All right. This potential Romney running mate`s first name
is actually a nickname he gave himself when he was 4-years-old while
watching the Brady bunch.
WILDER: Marco Rubio?
HARRIS-PERRY: No. It`s my governor. Bobby Jindal. Yes.
FINNEY: So Bobby --
HARRIS-PERRY: This was fun. I love you guys.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. Coming up, the battle for America`s heartland is really
a battle for America. What two things this constant recall election means
for all of us. Joe, did you enjoy that? Is it fun?
HARRIS-PERRY: In two days, Wisconsin goes back to the polls in a rare
recall election of Republican governor Scott Walker.
Sixty months ago, despite began with the freshly lengthy Walker pushing
through legislation which strip collective bargaining right from most of
the state`s public employees, setting off a cascade of descent from
opponents and making Walker only the third governor in the nation to face a
Here with us now from Madison, Wisconsin is Lisa Graves, the executive
director of the center for media and democracy who has been tracking all of
the outside influence in this race so far.
So nice to see you, Lisa.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: GRAVES, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR
MEDIA AND DEMOCRACY: Thanks so much, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So with two days to go until the recall, Scott Walker
is leading. Tell me how you`re feeling on the ground about this.
GRAVES: Well, we`ve been covering this election and actually these issues
since last winter and it looks as though the polls are neck-and-neck. And
so, what we`re seeing is a huge battle on the ground to get the vote out.
The last poll we saw was in dead heat.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So in this case, we`ve been talking a little bit about
the president making an affirmative case for himself. And a recall,
obviously, is about Scott Walker but is there an affirmative case to be
made for Tom Barrett or is it just about sort of taking Scott Walker out?
GRAVES: Well, I`ve seen a lot of statements on behalf of Scott Walker
being made. I`ve seen a lot of statements being made on behalf of Tom
Barrett and his record. He made a showing in the debate talking about what
he would do if he will be governor to bring people to the table.
Scott Walker said that he basically stood by his statement about the divide
and concur approach that he took. And so it`s not just about Scott Walker.
I think in many ways, this election is about a lot more than what is
happening in Wisconsin. It`s about the influence of outside money.
And a long time ago in a far, far away, there was a real teat party that
resisted in having governors beholden to foreign powers and big money
interest by the king of England. And here in Wisconsin, you got a
situation in which the governor, through a loophole in Wisconsin election
law, has raised millions of dollars from out of state billionaires and
that`s certainly an issue in Wisconsin. A lot of people are talking about
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, actually. Let`s talk a little bit about that.
Because, you know, I`m going to make an argument a little bit later that I
think there is ways that this is not a bellwether. That, you know, even if
Scott Walker were to stay in office, that does not mean, for example, that
President Obama will lose in November.
But I do think that clearly this issue of money and the impact of outside
money in the election, is going to tell us something about what we`re
likely to see for the rest of the summer and the fall. So, just talk to me
about the fact that Scott Walker has outspent Tom Barrett 12 to 1.
GRAVES: Well, that is really astonishing. It is the most expensive race,
I think, in Wisconsin history. And certainly the governor who has received
the most money from out of state interests ever in the state of Wisconsin,
but you also -- that`s not just the whole story.
You also have money being spent by the millions by groups like Americans
for prosperity which is David Koch`s funded group. David Koch is the chair
of that group. He`s the billionaire that everyone has been talking about
and his group is crossing the state with a bus tour that he claims has
nothing to do with the election. It just like their ads he claims has
nothing to do with the election. That kind of money that outside influence
money is amazing.
And what`s also amazing is that another major network has a reporter
embedded in one of those buses and he says that they are getting 25 people
showing up in some of those bus tour events.
If we had 20 - if we have a national reporter covering every time there`s a
25 progressive here in town, or across the state, we have wall a wall-to-
wall coverage at every network in the country because there is a huge
grassroots movement in Wisconsin. And that`s also grassroots moving in the
GRAVES: Or the left, but the movement coming out for progressives has been
huge and we have been covering that since the beginning.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. And so - I mean, I find that really that really --
again, to me, as we were looking at sort of the Wisconsin numbers, I mean
boy, Wisconsin, you guys vote.
I mean, the turnout in Wisconsin short of traditionally is well up over 65,
well up over 70 percent in presidential elections, even in midterm
elections. So, this feels really does feel like Koch brothers and other
kind of outside money versus sort of the pure power of turnout and voting.
And I think in that sense, it does feels like maybe this is about what kind
of democracy we`re going to have going forward, even beyond the union
policies that are at stake.
GRAVES: Well, I think that`s right. I think what you`re going to see in
this election and in the next five months is an enormous amount of outside
influence. Karl Rove has said he`s going to spend a billion dollars.
That`s more than there are people in the country. A billion dollars
versus, you know, 300 hundred Americans. And outside money.
Then you`ve got these big super PACs that are raising money by the millions
through the changes and citizens united. And then you have proves like
Americans foe asperity that are running ad. You got the trade groups, like
American patrol institute and the U.S. chamber of commerce that are going
to be involved, you got the Republican association that has spent big in
Wisconsin so far.
And so, this is going to be the most expensive election in American
history. It is going to be a battle, I think, in many respects for whether
this country is a real democracy or whether the corporate powers and CEOs
are going to use so much money that they get to choose who wins.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you, Lisa graves. Thank you for letting us know what
is happening here.
GRAVES: Thank you, Melissa.
And up next, why the convention system allowed Wisconsin and what it means
for the country might be wrong. I will explain after the break.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back.
One of this year`s mostly hotly contested elections will be decided
on Tuesday, Wisconsin`s recall of Republican Governor Scott Walker. Many
have suggested that the state, which has voted for the Democratic candidate
in every presidential election since 1988 will become a predictor of this
year`s national fight.
I`m here to tell you that that part of the conventional wisdom about
this election is just wrong. Wisconsin`s recall may be a battleground for
the political fight over labor, but it is not a predictor for what is to
come in our presidential election.
If Walker does hold on to his seat this week, it will certainly be a
Republican talking point and provide a bit of short-lived momentum for the
right, but it certainly will not predict President Obama`s defeat in
November. Why? Because local elections, especially rare recalls like this
one are really different kinds of animals. And recall is not necessarily
about making an affirmative choice of candidate you believe in, but rather
about ousting the existing officeholder.
And a recall is a complicated, multistep process with the very
campaign for opponent, and that recall is not about coalition building and
broad political participation in the way that our national elections are,
even if it`s sort of happening in the local level.
OK. Back with me are MSNBC contributor and former MSNBC contributor
and former DNC communications director, Karen Finney; Ari Melber,
correspondent for "The Nation" magazine; former Virginia Governor Doug
Wilder; and Robert Traynham, MSNBC contributor and former Rick Santorum
In Madison, Wisconsin, Marty Beil, the executive director of
Wisconsin State Employees Union.
So, actually, I want to start with you, Governor Wilder. Is
recalling governors fair? Is this a reasonable way to conduct democracy?
DOUGLAS WILDER (D), FORMER VIRGINIA GOVENOR: As you pointed out,
only in the third time of the nation has this happened. And recalling is
OK if there are, what I consider, legitimate reasons. Disagreeing with
someone`s decision, in my judgment, someone is not necessarily the reason
that you would have a recall.
You get another good point that I like to, not all of you agree, but
when you and your previous guest that was in Wisconsin talk about the
amount of money, look at the irony of Russ Feingold who put in the bill to
control and to be in a position to eliminate some of this undue spending
that`s taking place. This is one of the things that I think the Obama
administration should be talking about. Who is going to be appointing
people to serve on the Supreme Court? When the Supreme Court struck that
down and allowed unlimited amount of the money --
WILDER: -- we have no idea what the importance is going to be.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s going to be.
WILDER: One thing it`s going to mean, people of ordinary means, I`m
not going to be able to run for office to be elected.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So, Marty, let me ask you about this,
there in Wisconsin, at this moment, at two days out from the election tell
me how sort of the pro-labor, pro-Barrett vote, how is it feeling?
I mean, again, this is a multiple level process. First you have to
get the signatures for the recall. Then you have to determine who was
going to run against your current governor and now you have folks back out
to vote. That level of organization seems to be a high bar to get over.
MARTY BEIL, WISCONSIN STATE EMPLOYEES UNION: Well, it`s not a high
bar. It`s an energy level, Melissa. When we spoke out about Scott Walker
and what they did for Wisconsin taxpayers and Wisconsin citizens. That
energy that was here 18 months ago, that energy is here continually through
the recall petitions.
And also now again, we don`t have to call people and ask them to come
out and do canvassing. People are showing up at centers. People are out
there doing what they have to do to claim the government back.
And this issue of money, yes, there`s a lot of money here at play in
Wisconsin, but there`s a lot of volunteers, there`s a lot of people, a lot
of boots in Wisconsin in here that kind of counterbalances the money.
We`ve got 35,000 volunteers that have been out there. Yesterday, we
did 400,000 knocks. We`re going to do 1.5 million by Tuesday. So, I mean,
the energy is there. The people are there.
And I think the Wisconsin citizens, you know, have embarked upon a
new way of political action, if you will. It`s not any one group. It`s
not labor alone. It`s not private/nonprofits alone. It`s not community
It`s a broad-based coalition. It`s a labor community coalition
that`s out there. It`s been developed for 18 months. It`s working and
there`s activity going on.
HARRIS-PERRY: Now, Ari, Marty says that it`s not just the labor
coalition. He`s certainly right about that. But these sorts of boots on
the ground and the level of participation is Wisconsin is in part because
of a highly unionized place, right? I mean, can you even have a Democratic
Party either in Wisconsin or nationally without strong labor unions?
ARI MELBER, THE NATION: Well, you won`t have as much of the door
knockers and the phone backs and a lot of the grids. I mean, it`s one
thing to follow politics and another thing to go three hours of call time.
MELBER: And so traditionally, under the structure of this modern
Democratic Party, the party has leaned incredibly strong on unions, both
for money in connection with elections, big money does exist on both sides.
I think it funnels in different ways. But also, you know, for those people
in the field.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, let`s -- Rob, I`m going to ask you about what Paul
Ryan has to say about this because I`m making this case, oh, yes, it`s
critically important, but it`s not determining the election in November.
But Paul Ryan has said, you know, this is the key. So, let`s take a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: This is an election that will send
shock waves throughout America. It is a momentum maker or a momentum
breaker. The stakes are as high as they ever could be, because you know
why, courage is on the ballot Tuesday.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT TRAYNHAM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: What he is saying, look, if we
can do this in Wisconsin, if we can bring the unions back in Wisconsin, we
can also do this in Ohio, we can also do this in Florida. So, this is a
battle ground test, if you will, nationwide for November. That`s number
Number two, this is also a good rhetorical talking point for the base
on the Republican Party to say, you know what, Governor Walker did the
right thing here. This is according to the Republican Party, by speaking
up and by standing up to the unions.
I totally agree with the governor. This is all about policy and
nothing really to do about politics. Look, at the end of the day, when you
take a look at state constitutions, the reasons why you have recalls in
some of those state constitutions is because the people get to decide, if
they so choose, to impeach their governor.
This is not about from a policy standpoint. So, this is really a lot
about anger that is rooted in the wrong way. It should be rooted at the
ballot two years from now when the governor is up for reelection.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, I`m not a fan -- on this, I agree I`m not a fan
of recalls. I mean, I feel like elections matter. We are in 2010.
TRAYNHAM: That`s right.
KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLTICAL ANALYST: There`s a couple of things
about this and this is why I actually am a fan of recall, and that is
people feel like he broke faith. People like you campaign instead. You`re
going to come in and it`s going to be about jobs and instead, you`re going
to after labor. You`re trying to break the back of labor and saying that
it has something to do with job creation.
But really, it seems like a lot of things you`re talking about will
help the Koch brothers and others who are giving you all that money. And
that`s what people I think got angry, because they felt like it`s not just
the outside money. It`s that the outside money is getting more of a
priority than the will and the needs of the people.
And I do think these levels of activism, I agree with Robert that I
think there are broader implications here and that is that the level of
activism says people can say, you know what, we will hold you accountable.
If you are going to campaign and say you`re going to do this, and you don`t
do it and we don`t like it, we are going to find other ways to hold you
HARRIS-PERRY: Marty, is that it? Is this about feeling that he
BEIL: This is -- you know, in a lot of ways, people vote for
television commercials and not for candidates. So, yes, Scott Walker
talking about all of these great things and the jobs he was going to
develop and ran his debate on that basis. It was a traditional bait and
switch. He gets elected, takes away bargaining rights, touch $2 billion
out of public education, increase the situation at our university systems,
starts cutting kids off of Medicaid and Medicare. People said, this isn`t
the guy I voted for. This isn`t what I saw in the commercials.
So, you know, we learned a valuable lesson here in Wisconsin, you
know, and into the future where you don`t make decisions about who you`re
going to vote for based on television commercials. You have to listen
carefully. You have to listen to the facts.
And I think what happened with Scott Walker and some of the other
Republican senators that are under the recall is exactly what is going on
HARRIS-PERRY: All right.
MELBER: I think there`s attention what is going on with what you`re
proposing, Melissa, which are two different sort of theories of democracy.
I think you`re speaking a very concern that people have about the permanent
campaign, about the idea that there`s constant assault. No matter what the
ideology is, we can`t expect incumbents to get anything done if they are
not only dealing with the campaigns and fundraising and campaigns put upon
them just for carrying out their own ideologies. Or whatever they are.
But I think what you`re talking about is something else, which is the
problem with the cruise control democracy, the problem with the idea that
you just flip it on and let it ride for two or four years, no matter what
happens. And on the national scale, you know, there are people who look
and see the Bush and saw a regime of torture and rendition and policies
that they felt went beyond ideological differences and they question how do
you rein that in through the rule of law or litigation because you don`t
have other mechanism than the electoral process.
And here, if the recall is on the books and it`s within the rule of
law, it`s saying, are these extraordinary circumstances? I think the
governor is saying, what are the extraordinary circumstances and do we have
a legitimate debate about that?
And the last thing I would say is that there is something really
unusual going on in the sense that we hear about the Republicans being the
party of the status quo. But what you have in Wisconsin and as Robert said
there may be a template for the whole country is a radical restructuring of
the status quo and the Democrats are there saying, we want to defend the
deals that were made with public employees and the radical Republicans that
have a whole different vision. That may meet the test.
HARRIS-PERRY: And speaking of the Democrats being there to defend
something, maybe they are not. So, don`t make that last thing that we all
have to say. We`ve got more on Wisconsin coming up because Tuesday is
really do or die for the Democratic Party and for labor unions. What could
the end of labor mean and is it really the end of labor?
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I can just hear it now.
Wednesday. All of these people who poured money into Wisconsin, if you
don`t show up and vote, will say, see, we`ve got them now. We`re finally
going to break every union in America. We`re going to break every
government in America.
We`re going to stop worrying about the middle class. We don`t give a
rift. We`ve got our now. We`ve got it all. Divide and conquer works.
You tell them no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was former President Bill Clinton on fire for
Democratic challenger Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and doing his part for
the Democratic cause in Wisconsin recall election, covering ground for the
current president, President Obama has not tread.
So, how is the Wisconsin recall election a proxy for this national
With me: Karen Finney, Ari Melber, former Virginia Doug Wilder,
Robert Traynham, and in Wisconsin still, Marty Beil.
So, Marty, were you guys hoping that President Obama, the White
House, the Obama administration, would show up and weigh in here?
BEIL: Well, whatever help we can get is fine but I have to say that
this fight here is a Wisconsin fight. It isn`t Barack Obama`s fight. It
isn`t the National Democratic Party fight.
This is our fight. This is Wisconsin`s fight. This is the heart and
soul of Wisconsin. We can`t depend on somebody else or an entity from the
outside. We have to do it ourselves.
So to say that we are disappointed in that, we`re not disappointed.
This is our fight. We`re going to do our own battle.
HARRIS-PERRY: Marty, that is why I love people in the Midwest. In
all the years that I live in Chicago like that, exactly that notion. Maybe
that`s part of what`s happening here.
But it does -- I do just wonder in terms of pure self-interest,
Karen, where the Democrats -- I`m surprised the Democratic Party isn`t on
the ground there.
FINNEY: I mean, look, I would have liked to see more engagement from
-- a public engagement from the Democratic Party. I mean, you saw Debbie
Wasserman Schultz and they did this fundraising.
Here`s the problem, I think. I think Marty is exactly right. This
si a Wisconsin fight and it`s a lot of important themes coming out of it.
Like Marty said, it`s not going to be just what the ads say but how people
are going to do what they are going to do.
At the same time, to Robert what just talking about with Paul Ryan,
no matter what, regardless of anything any of us says at this table, the
day after, the GOP is going to make this a story about Barack Obama,
period. Not going there does not change that fact.
So to me just the pragmatist says, be prepared for that argument.
Let`s make that case and have the counter argument for that case because
they are going to, whether we like it or not. Certainly as you said,
recall, lots of different steps, lots of different dynamics. But they are
going to use that as a narrative for places in Ohio and other places and
say, we can go after labor and win. Whatever those narratives are, they
are going to use it.
HARRIS-PERRY: Speaking of the fact it`s going to be used as a
narrative -- this is a Wisconsin story. As Marty said, this is a Wisconsin
battle. Is it possible that the reason we`re talking about this on the
national level, that`s dominating our conversations on cable news and all
of that, is in part because we have a 24-hour cycle that is devoted to
Usually, the summer before presidential election, it`s a little
sleepy, little drowsy.
TRAYNHAM: Let`s drink coffee.
It`s drama. It`s fight in-filled. There`s so many different stories
here. One local story is what Marty said a few moments ago that this is a
Wisconsinites are like New Hampshirites. They are very, very
motivated. They are very, very intelligent when it comes to an electoral
process. They know what they think and they know what they want. So, the
drama and intrigue is very interesting.
As you mentioned a few moments ago, only three governors have been
recalled. The last one was Gray Davis in California. So, it`s just a very
Another side story here is that the president, although a couple
months ago, he was vocally talking about this, they have been very quiet
about this. Nobody has been talking about this from the White House. And
the reason why --
HARRIS-PERRY: Let`s listen to Jay Carney. He was asked about this
and he was very quiet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Next Tuesday is the recall election in Wisconsin. Tom
Barrett, the Democratic candidate, against Governor Scott Walker.
Does the president endorse Tom Barrett? Does he plan to?
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You might ask the campaign.
I`m not -- I`ll have to take the question. Not that I`m aware of. But
I`ll take the question.
REPORTER: DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said that she felt that
they lost by Tom Barrett would not have any national impact of the
Democrats lost there. Do you know if the president shares that view?
CARNEY: You know, there are issues obviously unique to that state
and issues unique to the spending that`s happened in that particular matter
that would suggest that she`s right but I haven`t discussed it with the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Have you ever seen anybody more comfortable, Ari?
MELBER: Should I answer in Jay Carney`s voice? There issues with
what Jay Carney said that are unique to what Jay Carney I`m saying nothing.
MELBER: This does remind of the "Saturday Night Live" impression of
Nicholas Cage where they say there`s only two ways to talk and Nicolas
movie is either whispering or screaming, and there`s no other way to
I think during election season, the White House is like that. They
decided to scream about gay marriage, although many people rightly point
that their position was a shift and it was interesting and a strong and
important time to do it. But it wasn`t a giant policy pronouncement, but
they yelled it, nonetheless. And a lot of other things they whisper and
Robert Traynham I think has pointed out something that`s very true there.
I do think in the long run it is a mistake. Where do policies come
from, where do ideas came from? They came from the states. And when
ballot initiatives work or certain tactics work or breaking down unions
works, it will obviously spread.
So, I think it would be naive, whether the politics work for them, it
would be naive to think that this stops here.
HARRIS-PERRY: Marty, I`m going to give you the last word since
you`re on the ground there in Wisconsin. What is the national story we
should take from whatever this outcome is on Tuesday?
BEIL: I think the national story is that this is the middle class
season that is government-backed last from the right wing. I think that`s
the national story. Tuesday, we will see hardworking and middle class
workers and citizens and seniors and students across the state say, this
isn`t Wisconsin. We`re going to take our values back, we`re going to take
Wisconsin back and we`re going to move forward in the progressive,
traditional Wisconsin. That will be the national story.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you, Mary Beil. All eyes will be on you.
BEIL: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Up next, we`re going to take you to England because,
you know, we`re talking about the ruling class. Let`s go look at the
ruling class. Queen Elizabeth diamond jubilee, a historic milestone for
the monarchy. Again, she doesn`t have to run for re-election. Tough for
her to get recalled.
HARRIS-PERRY: This morning, across the pond, the main event. Today
is day two of the Queen Elizabeth`s diamond jubilee celebration in England
marks 60 years of the queen`s reign. And you`re looking at a live picture
of the River Thames in London where over 1,000 boats from around the globe
are taking part in a massive flotilla. We`ll have a lot of flotillas
around here, but it is one of the largest and most spectacular flotillas
every assembled, boats of all shapes and sizes.
It`s beautiful. And part of the sort of notion of royalty or these
images, he majesty, literally, the kind of images of it.
Back with this fun panel of Governor Doug Wilder and Karen Finney and
Ari Melber and Robert Traynham.
So as we were talking about doing this segment, Governor, I was
remembering as a little girl when you were elected as the first African-
American governor --
WILDER: You don`t have to make it sound --
HARRIS-PERRY: I`m sorry. You were also very young, very young. And
I was living in Virginia, south of Richmond at the time, and my parents
made sure that we watched the entire ceremony of your inauguration.
And I was thinking there is something about the ceremonial in
politics that helps tie us. So, even if it`s not a real thing. It somehow
ties us to the experience of our country.
WILDER: One of the things that I remember, she came to Richmond
during the centennial and this was when I was mayor. And I gave her the
key to the city.
And the prince was standing right behind me and he said, whatever it
is that you gave her, I said I gave her the key to the city. He said, my
dear, you must give it back to him. She said why? Because he may not be
able to get back in.
HARRIS-PERRY: I love it. I love it.
So Robert, you apparently know the age of -- when we were talking
before, the age of the queen`s mother, you corrected me right away. What
is your interest in the British monarchy?
TRAYNHAM: I don`t know. I don`t know why I`m so interested. I read
a lot about the queen and her family. It`s always fascinating.
But I guess to your question, to your point, there`s something to be
said about milestones, whether it`s a wedding anniversary, whether it`s a
birthday, whether it`s a death, or wedding or something like that, I mean,
stop and think about this for a moment. This woman has met with every
single United States president since Harry Truman.
TRAYNHAM: She has met every single first lady since Eleanor
Roosevelt. She has been in the world stage for 60 years. And you know,
obviously, she is the question. But she has a real job. I mean, she is
the head of state, obviously, of not only Great Britain but also 26 other
countries in the commonwealth.
So, there really is a working aspect to her job per se. She doesn`t
sit there and just wave. She actually does work as well.
HARRIS-PERRY: Although she does wave well.
TRAYNHAM: Yes, she does.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Robert Traynham and Art Melber.
HARRIS-PERRY: Congratulations, queen.
Up next, much more serious. Summer is around the corner, which is
for a lot of people a great thing. But in many of our nations, summer
means a time when violence and murders spike. We`re already getting an
early indication that it`s going to be a long summer of violence and many,
including me, are scared for our kids. That`s when we return.
HARRIS-PERRY: Last night, tragedy struck Toronto, when a gunman
opened fire in a shopping mall, killing one and injuring seven other
And in the U.S., all eyes were in Seattle this week where a lone
gunman killed five people before taking his own life. These are the type
of murders that make national news, random, tragic and caused by a single,
often mentally ill individual. But these are not the kinds of gun crimes
that take American lives on a daily basis.
In my city, people die every day -- literally every day. The murder
rate in New Orleans is one of the highest in the country. And the city
emerged from a Memorial Day weekend with four shootings and three deaths in
one day. Including a 33-year-old woman, a 5-year-old girl who were shot
and killed when shooting erupted outside on the 10-year-old`s birthday
party on Tuesday.
And in Chicago, another city where I love, 10 people were killed and
dozens were wounded in shootings during the holiday weekend. These
shootings aren`t random. They are part of a pattern of crime, violence and
death that have gripped these cities.
One of the surprising trends of the economic downturns that begin in
2008 is that most cities did not see a spike in violent crime at the same
Now, criminologists have linked to unemployment, housing displacement
and other economic factors. And those criminologists have been scratching
their heads over the past couple of years asking, where is the violence?
Well, cities like New Orleans and Chicago, both about to enter a
long, hot summer marked by youth unemployment and deep cuts in programs by
states are raising their hands to say, the violence is right here.
Virginia Governor Doug wilder is back and joining us is National
Urban League president and CEO, Marc Morial. He`s also a former mayor of
the city of New Orleans.
Thank you, gentlemen.
MARC MORIAL, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: Great to be with you.
HARRIS-PERRY: So both of you have been mayors. Marc, you of New
Orleans, and Governor Wilder, mayor of Richmond. What is the fundamental
issue when it comes to urban violence? Not the random violence but the
MORIAL: The fundamental issue, I believe, in thinking about how you
fix it, how you do something about it, is to recognize that policing a loan
will not do it. Youth programs alone will not do it. Restrictions on
guns alone will not do it. Drug interventions alone will not do it. Drug
interventions alone will not do it.
There must be a coordinated, comprehensive effort in order to
confront it. The jobs situation, I don`t care what anyone says, has
exacerbated the sense of alienation, the sense of people being locked out,
left out in urban communities, and is a significant contributing factor in
places like New Orleans and Chicago and many others.
HARRIS-PERRY: The feeling of being besieged is one that it goes so
far beyond just these individuals, the idea of a little girl`s birthday
party becoming a space where shootings and murders happen. I live in the
Seventh Ward and the idea that on our block, we have had shootings
happened. My daughter spent summers in Chicago with her dad.
It just literally that kind of gripping feeling of here. How do you
move citizens to a feeling of having a sense of empowerment in the context
WILDER: I agree with Marc in terms of no entity singly can handle
that. What we did when I was mayor and had an excellent police chief was
to make sure that we had sector policing. In other words, the people in
the community knew every policeman in that sector. The policeman knew that
So in other words, not just in crime but for any occasion. So, if
you want to report something, rather than pick up 911, call that sector
guide because he is there.
The other thing is --
HARRIS-PERRY: A kind of basic notion of community policing that
links to the police that is not this outside force that are imposing
something on you.
MORIAL: And visible at churches and community --
MORIAL: -- activities -and a sense of trust that`s built, not a
sense of distance.
WILDER: That`s correct.
HARRIS-PERRY: Let`s be real. Part of what makes that possible --
so, I hear you talk about the comprehensive plan. Part what makes that
possible is resources.
MORIAL: Money. Money counts.
HARRIS-PERRY: We were looking at your record as mayor, Marc, between
1994 and 1999, the murder rate in the city of New Orleans feel by 63
percent, assaults by 60 percent, armed robberies down to 39.
I like you. I think you are a great leader. But I got to say there
seems to have inputs here that made that possible.
MORIAL: The Clinton administration in a sense of community policing,
we had an aggressively tripling of youth recreation department programs and
dollars. We had a massive increase in summer youth employment. And you
had -- and I think this is something that is missing. You had community
leaders and elected officials who said, enough is enough, that we are going
to say that this is a problem and we`re not going to work on it and we`re
not going to take simplistic, rhetoric driven solutions.
We`re going to try to move the ball. In the `90s, the economy was a
MORIAL: Since that time, the nation has invested in wars, it`s
invested in homeland security. This issue has not been enough of a front
burner issue. More people have died due to gun violence in our cities than
overseas in the last decade.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. And, you know, as we come back, I want to figure
out this question because one of the things that I find most exciting about
an Obama presidency, is the idea that we`re going to have urban president,
right? Beyond the question of race or even being a Democrat was the idea
that he came from a city and maybe cities would be at the front of the
So, I want to talk and I`m going to bring other voices in, but I want
to talk about how do we get our cities on a national agenda. It`s an
election year. Let`s do some agenda-setting.
Coming up, why those budgets cuts can be quite dangerous and how
cutting social services dramatically affects the crime rate.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s true that in tough times, cities have to make
cuts in order to stay afloat. But cutting too much can lead to unintended
consequences. Last month, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a
budget that would cut the number of afterschool program sites from 454 to
261. Now, this is going to save the city $19 million, a fraction of the
$67 billion budget for the city, but it also leaves 26,000 children with
nowhere to go. And parents who have to choose between work and child care
and that`s a potential recipe for disaster.
At the table are Doug Wilder, Marc Morial, and back with us former
DNC communications director, Karen Finney, and hip-hop DJ, Jay Smooth.
Jay, really, kids out in the summer without programs sounds like,
let`s please have a crime rate.
JAY SMOOTH, HIP-HOP DJ: It definitely sounds disturbing and it shows
how skewed the priorities can be. Everything I have read says
criminologists are baffled about why crime hasn`t gone up across the board
in the past few years, so I think there are no simple answers to why the
trend is not popping up in certain areas, but I think while the situation
is challenging a lot of conventional wisdom, we should take it as
opportunity specifically to challenge the assumption that putting a bigger
and bigger percentage of our population in prison and specifically more and
more people of color feeding them into the prison industrial complex while
not giving them the access to education and thing that they need does not
good for anybody.
I mean, if you look up New Orleans, I`m sure you know these numbers
better me, but I think it`s up to one in seven black men is either in
prison or in parole and that number has skyrocketed, but New Orleans is one
of these cities where crime is increasing at a much steeper rate than other
HARRIS-PERRY: Other places.
But it feels to me also there is an economic component to this,
HARRIS-PERRY: So, we have Bloomberg saying, OK, you know, we`re
going to cut the budget. But if your city feels like a dangerous city, if
Chicago or New Orleans is a place that is crime-ridden, then you won`t get
economic investment. People won`t put their kids in school and build
Is it in the interest of a national of the U.S. Congress, of the
presidential administration to pour some money into our cities?
FINNEY: Absolutely. The political conversation has to make that
connection, right? It also means this is why jobs matters, the overall
economy matters. The remember that we`ve got with the stimulus, this
summer, a lot of that money is going to go away, which means it`s going to
mean more cuts in some of the state budgets, and to your point, more kids
on the street with nowhere to go and no programs.
So, yes, in the national picture when we`re thinking about this and
talking about this, I`m frankly surprised it hasn`t come up on the campaign
trail as an issue because it`s a big concern and not just in urban
MORIAL: You know, I want to hear candidates who run for office and
talk about cities, talk about urban, and recognize that urban America today
is not just New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.
MORIAL: It`s Akron. It`s Tallahassee. It`s Raleigh, North
Carolina. It`s not just New Orleans. It`s communities.
It`s also the metropolitan areas -- and I think that my thinking is
that it`s investing and that investing is going to have a positive rate of
return for the economy and society. And I just think that candidates who
run -- and I challenge them all, to talk about urban communities,
metropolitan communities, and talk about cities.
HARRIS-PERRY: And all of them, and it feels like we have best
practices. Obviously, you`re the head of the Urban League, which is all of
the candidates talking about the urban areas, I mean, some places do
actually work. Again, if we go back to these moments when we have falling
crime rates, we can certainly a building of a prison industrial complex,
but there were also --
MORIAL: Summer jobs work. After school programs work.
WILDER: The finest speech that I heard that Barack Obama made in the
`08 campaign was when he addressed the U.S. conference of mayors in Miami,
and he said that problems of the cities, of the metropolitan areas, rather,
the cities can be the solutions and I`m going to commit and the kinds of
things -- he promised and spoke of doing, I have been wanting to see more
of that because you`re absolutely right. If our cities are not held up --
HARRIS-PERRY: And, you know, Jay, part of what I hoped was that the
Trayvon Martin killing would not just be one off. But that would look at
Trayvon and say, OK, this is an unusual case of a young black man dying.
Young black men are dying every day. And so, let`s think carefully about
the value of their lives and create policy that will make their lives feel
like it`s valuable because we`re doing something about it.
SMOOTH: Right. Those sources of things should bring more attention
to this, especially in all of our cities. I think there`s a tendency for a
lot of us to take the election of President Obama as a step closer to the
dubious distinction of color blindness.
Color blindness have become making yourself willfully blind to these
persistent institutional inequities that make sure that hard times hit
people harder. I would wish that a case like Trayvon Martin could shed
more light on this.
MORIAL: But I want to make sure that the president in fact responded
to a meeting I participated in with him last year where we said, Mr.
President, in your jobs bill, do some things that are going to be of
benefit to urban communities and youth. He proposed a summer jobs
component. It`s been filibustered. It`s blocked.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s not the president. It`s Ryan. I want to go
shake Ryan on his one.
MORIAL: So, it`s clear. It gets lost in the conversation that there
are proposals pending in this do nothing Congress that could, in fact,
benefit the communities that we`re talking about today.
FINNEY: That`s the most important point because the level of
obstruction that the president has faced from the Republican Congress and
even you say, you controlled both houses when you came in. Again, the
obstruction that we faced, the filibuster, if you look it a lot like the
jobs -- again I wanted to go back to infrastructure or green jobs, a lot
of the things that he`s talked about would have created pools of money for
urban infrastructure, for urban -- for cities to have this kinds of
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re absolutely correct. >
FINNEY: And look at the community colleges.
HARRIS-PERRY: And I think part of what`s important part about that
is saying, yes, jobs matter but we`re not just talking about lives. We`re
talking about communities. We`re talking about whole communities.
MORIAL: Investments on people who have a rate of return, that yield
benefits for the society. We`ve got to get the terminology and the
understanding clear that we`re talking about things that make sense for
nations, that make sense for the economy. That this is not something that
just, quote, "is do goodism," although it`s the right thing to do. It`s
something that a country arising from a recession in a globally competitive
marketplace must do.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Marc, you just talked about the do nothing
Congress. I`ve got to tell you, there`s quite an intense rumor heading
around in New Orleans. The rumor is that Marc Morial is going to run for
the congressional district.
MORIAL: I love my job.
HARRIS-PERRY: Would you like to make news on MHP this morning?
MORIAL: I love my job.
HARRIS-PERRY: I will welcome you making a little news this morning.
MORIAL: I want Congressman Richmond to have nice long career.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. I`m with you. If you feel like -- we have about
90 more seconds in the segment. If you feel like you want to make news,
MORIAL: Governor sounds like a good job.
WILDER: Did you hear what I said?
HARRIS-PERRY: You`re going to run against Bobby Jindal? We`re going
to get Bobby on the V.P. position. There you go.
FINNEY: I`ve got news to make the point that thinking about to your
point when we waste these lives, what if that was the kid who was going to
find the cure of cancer. What if that was the kids who was going to have
the next breakthrough in technology.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right.
FINNEY: We don`t know. If we waste the talent of our young people,
black, brown, white, what color, where you are, impoverish, we`re wasting
opportunities for our country.
MORIAL: I want to confront this. Some people watching may say,
you`re all talking about spending at a time of deficits. This is what
we`re saying -- we`re saying, this should be the nation`s priority.
MORIAL: We`re going to get more from investing in this than in
investing in massive tax loopholes, continued military buildup at a time
when wars are throttling down. What this nation has to understand is that
these should be the priorities of the future: investing in young people so
they are going to be the citizens and workers in the future.
HARRIS-PERRY: Absolutely. And in just a moment, my footnote on one
woman`s final wish.
But, first, it`s a preview of WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT."
ALEX WITT, MSNBC ANCHOR: Hello to you, Melissa.
It`s an epic event underway right now. One Great Britain hailing its
weekend of 60 years. We will discuss the significance of this moment with
one person uniquely qualified on the topic.
The fight over jobs and the race for president took on a tougher tone
this morning from both sides. In today`s office politics, Matt Lauer tells
me about his former "Today" co-host and whether they really got along.
And it`s a developing story: George Zimmerman is back in Florida
today. We`re monitoring what is next for the shooter in the Trayvon Martin
And with that, I`ll send it back to you, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thanks, Alex. Appreciate it.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, coming up, a woman`s lifelong dream was to ride in
the first-class car. What`s behind that dream? My footnote is next.
HARRIS-PERRY: On the night he was elected president, Barack Obama
told the story of a 106-year-old African-American woman named Ann Nixon
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She was born a
generation past slavery, a time when there were no cars on the road or
planes in the sky, when someone like her couldn`t vote for two reasons,
because she was a woman, and because of the color of her skin. And
tonight, I think about all that she`s seen throughout her century in
America -- the heartache and the hope, the struggle and the progress. The
times we were told that we can`t, and the people who pressed on with that
American creed, yes, we can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Obama choose Cooper`s personal story as a lens to
reveal the arc of our nation`s history. It is rare when the powerful men
of America have sought to understand our collective journey through the
eyes of a black woman.
Let me follow the president`s lead and tell you the story of Dorothy
Flood. Flood is 75 years old and this week, she fulfilled the dream
through the nonprofit group, Wish of a Lifetime. Wish of a Lifetime is a
bit like the Make a Wish Foundation, but for senior citizens instead of
Dorothy Flood`s aspiration? To ride in the first-class dining car of
the train. It`s a modest request, but one that reveal as lot about our
national story. Mrs. Flood remembers a childhood shut out of the first-
class cars. She grew up in New Jersey, but each summer she traveled to
North Carolina with her grandmother. And when the train reached the Mason-
Dixon line in Baltimore, Dorothy and her grandmother, along with all the
other black passengers were forced to get up and move into segregated cars.
Segregating train cars begun after 1883 when the Supreme Court nullified
the civil rights act in 1875. That nullification allowed the shadow of Jim
Crow to descend.
As historian Blair Kelly to describe, in her fearless text, "Right to
Ride" black women bore the brunt of train segregation, because on the
trains, black women were allowed neither the comfort nor protection
normally afforded to ladies. Now, they resisted this second class
treatment. Kelly explains that the majority of state and federal court
cases were brought by black little litigants against the railroad in the
late 19th century, and those litigants were mostly women.
The most famous was Ida B. Wells. Wells went on to become a fearless
journalist and an anti-lynching advocate. But her activism began in 1883
when a train conductor forcibly ejected her from the ladies car even though
she paid the first-class fare. Wells held the seat, embraced her legs and
bit the conductor and resisted the indignity of being segregated. But when
she was rejected, well sued the Chesapeake, Ohio, and Southwestern
Railroads, she lost. Black communities kept losing.
In 1896, New Orleanian Homer Plessy challenged train segregation in
the landmark case Plessy v. Ferguson, and the Supreme Court handed down a
7-1 decision in that case, 116 years ago this week. The decision
established separate but equal as the law of the land, for more than 50
years. It was that decision which barred 6-year-old Dorothy Flood from the
first-class dining car.
So when at 75, she boarded the elegant white linen dining car of the
Royal Gorge Route Railroad this week, she closed more than a personal
circle. She reminded us that the distance we`ve traveled in our nation,
and how our ugly past is not distance, but still within living memory.
Reading her story, I, like when the president recounted Ann Cooper`s
story thought of my daughter. The president said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: America, we have come so far we have seen so much, but
there`s so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves, if our
children should live to see the next century, if my daughters should be so
lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what changes will they see?
What progress will we have made?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Progress has begun. But the struggle continues.
That`s our show for today. Thank you to Governor Doug Wilder, Marc
Morial, Karen Finney ran off to catch her own train, and Jay Smooth.
Thanks for sticking around.
And thanks to you at home watching. I`ll see you next week,
Saturday, 10:00 a.m.
Coming up, "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT."
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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