PoliticsNation, Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Read the transcript from the Tuesday show
Guests: Kristen Crowell; Bernie Sanders; Chris Larson; David Obey, Kirsten
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST, POLITICS NATION: Welcome to
"Politics Nation." I`m Al Sharpton.
Tonight`s lead. Showdown in Wisconsin, a defining moment for
progressives fighting back against the GOP war on workers, 480 days ago
government Scott Walker unveiled his union bashing plan. Just three hours
from now, the polls on his historic recall election will close. And Scott
Walker`s political fate will be decided.
Wisconsinites have been lined up at the polls all day, and by all
reports, the turnout has been huge on both sides. And it could be decided
on the ground game. Political strategists say quote, "the only mission
left for both sides is to get their rabid supporters to the polls." And
NBC news exit poll just out confirms a whopping 88 percent of voters made
up their minds more than a month ago.
Scott Walker and challenger Tom Barrett began their day casting
ballots. They talked about their vision for Wisconsin`s future.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: If I have the honor of winning the
election today I will certainly talk about ways of bringing state together
this evening. But the most important thing we can do is not just talk
about it, but does it. I think tomorrow will be the first of many steps.
TOM BARRETT (D), MILWAUKEE MAYOR: Over the last 96 years, around the
state, the energy has been building and building and building which we
think is a very, very good sign. We are just glad to see so many people
hear about our democracy and hear about the future of the state, want a
governor who is going to work and represent the middle class of this state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: People care about the future of our democracy. They care
about the future of the state. And that`s why this election is so
important. It is a fight for the soul of Wisconsin. It is a fight for
fairness. It is a fight for the rights of working people. And it is a
fight we won`t back down from.
Joining me now from Milwaukee is Wisconsin state senator Chris Larson.
He`s been in this fight from the very beginning and in Madison, Wisconsin
is Kristen Crowell, executive director of Grass Roots Labor Coalition, we
are Wisconsin. The group engages and empowers resident to act on important
public policy issues.
Thank you both for being here tonight on this special night.
KRISTEN CROWELL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WE ARE WISCONSIN: Thank you for
having us, reverend.
SHARPTON: Let me start with you, State Senator. How are things
looking to you on the ground? How are things looking tonight on the ground
STATE SEN. CHRIS LARSON (D), WISCONSIN: Things are really exciting
here. I was just down in Racine where there is also state senate race
going on. We kicked off with over a hundred volunteers and Mayor Barrett
and the senate candidate just before noon. There are other places in the
state where we have run out of clip boards and all across the city of
Milwaukee we are getting word there are lines out the doors.
But we are not stopping, not slowing down yet. We are making sure
everybody and their friends are getting out to votes in this historical
SHARPTON: Now, Kristen, you`ve been involved in a lot of elections,
over 150, I`m told. What are you seeing out there?
CROWELL: Well, we`re just seeing massive enthusiasm. I`m here in
Madison. But what we`re seeing statewide is that, like everyone has
predicted, that this is a race to turn out. Our side is energized and
mobilized. Then we got, like you said, just under three hours to go until
the polls close. So we are out hitting the doors hard in this final
stretch. We are making the most of every moment and we are just seeing all
of the massive enthusiasm here.
SHARPTON: Senator, let me ask you a couple of polls that have come
out, exit polls. According to NBC exit polling, they are about evenly
split about changes in state law that limits collective bargaining by
Republican employee unions. Approve of it, 50 percent approve, disapprove,
48 percent, but when asked about the opinion overall about government
workers` unions, 52 percent favorable, 43 percent unfavorable.
Does any of this tell you where the vote may be going?
LARSON: Well, I mean, that`s a piece of it. But as much as some
people might think that it is just about collective bargaining, it is not
so much more than that. So yes, that is one piece. And that definitely
goes in Tom Barrett`s favor because he has come out in favor of collective
bargaining while Scott Walker has attacked it.
But it is about more than that. It is about education. This
government cut education more than history in our state. It is ethics
investigation that has been swirling around Governor Walker for two years
with three of his aides, already charges filed against and 13 given
immunity. And there is always a question of whether it is actually a
comeback on him.
He has spent $160,000. So it is about all of these things. There are
thousands of people coming out. I bet you would find thousands of
different reason why people are excited to reclaim the state of Wisconsin
for us today.
SHARPTON: Kristen, there`s also the money factor here. When we look
at the fact that the incumbent Walker, Governor Walker, raised $30.5
million, Barrett 3.9 million, 38 percent from Wisconsin for Walker, 74
percent of the donors for Barrett were from Wisconsin.
Kristen, what is that tells us, if anything, in terms of the gap on
money, but then also the gap on where the money came from.
CROWELL: Well, we have known from day one that we would not be able
to compete in the money game. And what we are seeing on the ground is not
unusual to what we are seeing across the country. And that is really, it
is coming down to people, power versus corporate power.
And corporate billionaires have been giving Scott Walker money since
day one. And he has been flying around the country spending more time
collecting checks out of state than he has been here on the ground helping
to solve problems here facing real working families.
So we`re not surprised by this. We knew going into this, this was
always going to be about our will of the people here in Wisconsin. And
frankly, no amount of money can buy the will of the working people. We are
proud, we are strong, and we are out in numbers today thousands of us on
the street fighting corporate power with a good old fashion shoe leather
and hard work.
SHARPTON: Now Senator, when you look at the fact we are hearing now
that some dirty poolers have been put in this game, Democrats in Wisconsin
are reporting that allies of Walker have launched a campaign of robo calls
to voters telling them quote, this is the call.
"If you sign the recall petition, your job is done and you don`t need
to vote on Tuesday."
I mean, if these calls are going out, they are clearly trying to
suppress the vote of those that may be inclined to support the recall if in
fact this is happening. And it is something that is not wrong but it is
LARSON: Right. Yes. Rev, I mean, this is just simply disgusting,
these tactics that we are seeing coming from Walker`s allies. It shows how
desperate they are. How much they know that Barrett`s been creeping up in
the polls and has been appealing to the working class and middle class all
across Wisconsin, that they have to try a tactic like this to try and trick
people into not coming out and voting.
So, it shows that, that you know, Tom Barrett set underdog but he is
catching up. And I think that people are getting out the message. Dave
Barrett`s campaign was able to hear about this early enough. That they
were able to raise money and make sure to hit each of those people who sign
the recall petition, make sure they get out to vote today and also make
sure that they know about this disgusting tactic and remind their friends
about that, to make sure they get out and vote too, because they don`t want
a governor who will stand behind something like that. They want somebody
who will bring our state together and put Wisconsin first.
SHARPTON: And we still have three hours before the polls close. For
the record, no matter who you vote for, the fact that you signed a petition
or not has nothing to do with it, come out and vote.
Let me ask you, before we have go. Let me go back to you, Kristen.
What, in the next three hours, do your people have to do? What is it that
has it happen in these three remaining hours on the ground in Wisconsin for
this recall to be successful?
CROWELL: Well, we know right now people are getting off of work and
we`ve got hundreds of folks going door to door, making sure we are getting
every last person, we want to make sure they know where to vote, how to
vote, and that we are mobilizing them.
We have seen today records of new voter registrations happening across
the state. We are very excited about the activity and enthusiasm and we`re
not letting up on the gas on these next three hours. We`ve got three hours
to catch people as they come home from work. And that`s exactly what we`re
going to do. Right up until 8:00 p.m. tonight.
SHARPTON: All right, State Senator Chris Larson and Kristen Crowell,
thank you both for your time tonight.
CROWELL: Thank you so much.
LARSON: Thank you, Rev.
SHARPTON: Joining me now is former Wisconsin congressman David Obey,
long time champion for worker`s right.
Congressman, thank you for joining me tonight.
DAVID OBEY (D), FORMER WISCONSIN REPRESENTATIVE: I`m glad to be here,
SHARPTON: Now you know voting in that state as well as anyone,
probably better than most. What is your sense of the election as you see
it transpire today?
OBEY: Well, I think we need to remember that Harry Truman said once,
that some people love the government of the United States so much they
would like it buy it. And today is an example of how hard the out of state
economic elite is trying to do just that. The only people who can stop
them are the voters of Wisconsin by exercising their ballot rights and I
think it is looking very good. The turnout is terrific. And any time you
have a high turnout, you know the average working people are getting to the
SHARPTON: Now, in 2010, the turnout was around 2.2 million. We are
forecasting that tonight the polls were closed and there would have been
somewhere between 2.6 and 2.8 million voters, which is 400 to 600,000 more
voters that you feel leans toward the working class and the union
supporters in your opinion.
OBEY: I think, yes, I think the more you can get voters to the polls
especially now after they`re done working, the better off that Tom Barrett
will be and the better off the state Senate challengers will be and better
off Wisconsin citizens will be when they wake up tomorrow morning and have
a governor who will try it heal the state rather than continue to divide it
on ideological ground.
SHARPTON: Now, one of the things concern me, Congressman, is the
money fight. I went through this with the -- a couple of people from
Wisconsin a few moments ago. But let me show you what bothers me.
When you look at the fact that 38 percent of Walker`s money comes from
out of state, 74 percent from Barrett`s instate, but 62 percent of out of
state donors, 26 percent from out of state donors were Barrett.
Are we looking at a trend of big money guys, billionaires that will go
all over this country and dump money in to try and bring about those that
they want, that are ideologically and politically aligned interest that
have nothing to do with the constituent in the indigenous states. Are we
at risk tonight of seeing a national pattern start if they`re successful?
OBEY: There`s no question about that. I mean, look at the stories
about, we see stories that the Koch brothers may be spending as much as
$400 million. We see that one very rich fellow from the west single
handedly kept Newt Gingrich on life support for months.
When I got elected in the legislature, a long time ago, I spent $1160.
Today, in that same state Senate district, you are seeing almost $500,000
spent on behalf of the Republican candidate.
It`s incredible. They are trying to turn elections into auctions.
And when you see that kind of money that`s come in, then you understand why
the top one percent of people in this country have more income than the
bottom 90 percent combined.
SHARPTON: Turn election into auctions. I think that hit it right on
Former Wisconsin congressman David Obey, thanks for your time on this
very important night.
OBEY: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Ahead, the GOP master plans to buy elections, they are
testing it in Wisconsin and it could spread like an out of control
wildfire. Why it`s only the beginning of the fight.
Plus, all of a sudden, Karl Rove is worried about the president`s
spending. Wait until you see where it all started.
And dynamic duo Bill Clinton comes out to campaign for the president.
And both were on fire.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The reason we`re here
today is because we`re not going back. We`re going forward. We have
worked too hard and too long to right the ship and move us in the right
direction. We`re not going backwards, we`re going forwards.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You`ve got to
have the right captain of the ship. And I am depending on you to take care
of future generations by making sure that that captain is President Barack
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Duo, Bill Clinton comes out campaign for the president,
both on fire, as I said.
You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.
SHARPTON: Folks, have you checked us out at "Politics Nation," fan
page on facebook? It is the place where the conversation is always going.
Today, facebook fans were buzzing about the Wisconsin recall.
Tracy says he saw quote, "real nice turn out at his polling place in
Wisconsin. But he was uneasy about all of the outside money." So is
Martha who says, "it works in Wisconsin, it will work everywhere."
We want you to join the "Politics Nation" community too. Head over to
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that keeps going long after the show ends. We can`t wait to see you there.
SHARPTON: We`re back with the serious threat to democracy.
As I mentioned, all eyes are on Wisconsin tonight. Less than three
hours to go in the recall election and already there are allegations of
voter suppression. A state anti-voter law will likely prevent thousands of
students from voting tonight because of stricter registration guidelines.
And we`ve had reports of some cause going out, telling people, they don`t
have to vote.
Folks, let`s be clear, this election is about money and power. Just
watch Walker talking to a billionaire donor about his plans last year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIANE HENDRICKS, BILLIONAIRE: Any chance we will ever get to be a
completely red state and work on these unions and become a right to work.
HENDRICKS: What can we do to help you?
WALKER: We`re going to start in a couple weeks with the budget
adjustment bill. But the first step is we going to deal with collective
bargaining for all public employees, because you -- divide and conquer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Divide and conquer. That attack on union was kick started,
that is what kick started this whole recall. And this is why Wisconsin
matters so much.
Since the 1960s union membership has declined and along with it the
middle class family income has plummeted and if you get rid of unions,
there is no one to make corporations pay workers their fair share.
So corporations are pouring millions into campaign coffers. How much?
Look at this.
Scott Walker has brought in over $30 million. That money isn`t coming
from voters. It is coming from corporations. Wisconsin is a test case for
the corporate agenda.
Folks, this is why Wisconsin matters. This anti-union agenda spread
from Wisconsin. Just look at the number of anti-union bills that were
passed last year across the country. This is not a state election. This
is a national plan attack on the middle class. It is backed by millions of
corporate dollars and is coming to a state near you. The fight is only
Joining me now is senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Thank you for joining me, sir.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: My pleasure.
SHARPTON: Senator, how big a deal will this be for corporate interest
groups if Scott Walker wins tonight?
SANDERS: Well, it`ll be huge, Al. As you`ve indicated, this is
really the tip of the iceberg. What is going on now, is class warfare to
an unprecedented degree is being waged against the middle class and working
families of this country. And what the disastrous Supreme Court citizen`s
united decision did is just open the door wide open, flood gate wide open,
for corporations and billionaires to take over our democracy to spend as
much money as they want without disclosure on campaigns throughout America
in order to elect right wing extremist who are going to protect the
interest of the one percent against the 99 percent.
SHARPTON: Now, Tim Phillips, head of the Koch funded conservative
group Americans for prosperity, he said, and I`m reading his quote, "the
Wisconsin approach to changing and making state government better is the
new model for the country. You are the model for the country."
What we are seeing tonight, if they are able to sustain Walker`s
governorship, they feel this model will work elsewhere, senator.
SANDERS: Well, it`s not working in Wisconsin, and it`s not going to
work anywhere else. We have seen that model on a national level in George
W. Bush`s trickle down economic theory.
The truth is, Al, when you give huge tax breaks to the richest people
in this country, when do you deregulation, yes, I guess it does work if you
are a millionaire or a billionaire. But the results nationally on the Bush
was that we lost 500,000 private sector jobs, median income for average
families went down and the gap between the rich and everybody else went
So all we are seeing again is replay of trickledown economics tax
breaks for the people on it up, suffering for the middle class, lower
SHARPTON: But, look at the fact that we are seeing the money guys
come together in an unusual way. GOP groups are planning a record $1
SHARPTON: $400 million from the Koch Brothers, $150 million from
Romney super PAC called Restore Our Future, $300 million from Karl Rove
super PAC, Chamber of commerce is kicking in $100 million, another $65
million from Bain and his friend. And then, there is another 800 million
from the RNC. Senator, that`s $1.8 billion.
SANDERS: This is unprecedented and it is the most savage attack
against the American democracy and concept of one person, one vote that we
have seen in our lifetime.
And what it is, is saying that if you are a billionaire, you can buy
elections, buy politicians and by the way, on the floor of the Senate, on
the floor of the house, can you intimidate members, because you will be
saying to them, if you are going to vote against wall street, or the
insurance companies or the military industrial complex, you just do that
and we will have millions of dollars and 30-second ad in your state this
So, this whole effort to put huge unprecedented, unbelievable amounts
of money into the political process is the top on percent saying, look,
we`re not content that the top one percent holds 40 percent of the wealth.
We want more. We want more. We want more. And we are going to buy the
political process to get what we want.
So, this is the worst assault on the basic democratic traditions which
have made our country great, than you and I have seen in our life times and
what it means, we have to overturn citizens united.
SANDERS: We have to pass a disclosed bill -- disclosure legislation
next month which at the very least forces the CEOs to get on television
when they do a negative ad and say, I approve this message.
SANDERS: And it forces us to know who is contributing.
SHARPTON: Senator Bernie Sanders, I`m going to have to hold it right
there. But thank you for your time tonight on this important issue.
SANDERS: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Polls close in 2 1/2 hours in Wisconsin. You must
understand the gravity of what is going on here. In 23 states, they are
limiting unions being able to organize their right to work states. We`re
talking about a real change in the ability of middle class and working
class Americans to defend themselves against big money. This is a very
Still ahead, Republicans showed they`re not quite ready for the 21st
century, blocking a plan to help women get paid the same as men. We`ll
talk with New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand about today`s vote and the
SHARPTON: We are back on "Politics Nation."
With an idea that is long overdue, women deserve equal pay for equal
work. But in the 21st century, there are still politicians who are
fighting to keep that from happening.
Today, senate Republicans filibuster the paycheck fairness act, a bill
that would have helped women fight for equal pay. Right now, women make
just 77 cents for every dollar made by man. Democrats say, today`s vote by
republican is helping to keep that status quo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: For goodness sakes, how can you
have a party to a person here that votes against equal pay for equal work?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: So I say, to the women here, to the good men who
support us, to the women out there in America, let`s keep this fight going.
Put on your lipstick. Square your shoulders. Suit up. And let`s fight
for this new American Revolution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: President Obama issued a statement saying quote, "It is
incredibly disappointing that in this make or break moment for the middle
class, Senate Republicans put partisan politics ahead of American women and
their families. Democrats are also calling out Mitt Romney for his silence
on this issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER: Even Mitt Romney has refused
to publicly oppose to this legislation.
He may oppose it, but he is afraid to say anything about it. Why?
Because it`s obvious why. He should show some leadership. In my opinion,
Governor Romney and tell us fellow Republicans that opposing fair pay for
all-Americans is shameful. Instead, no one knows where he stands.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Joining me now is Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, democrat from
New York, who has been a leader in fighting for this issue in the Senate.
Thanks for being here Senator.
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: Thank you, Reverend. How are
SHARPTON: Great. Let me ask you, what`s your reaction to this vote
today from Republicans?
GILLIBRAND: Well, it`s outrageous. This is about opportunity for
women to get equal pay for equal work that men do. And it`s about nearly
every American family. Most of our American families are two-income
families. And when one wage earner is not earning her fair share, it`s
going to hurt the family, and it`s going to hurt the children. So, this is
about fairness and about making sure that we really un-tap the economic
potential of women. If they are only and earning 78 cents on the dollar,
that is money that`s being taken away from that family for food, for
clothing, for everything that a child needs to grow.
SHARPTON: And I understand that every republican president voted
against the bill and even beyond that, republican Senator Dean Heller on
the Senate floor claimed that the paycheck fairness act is a job killer.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DEAN HELLER (R), NEVADA: This legislation opens the door to
frivolous lawsuits which already costs our economy billions of dollars
every year. In an economy already marked by uncertainty, this legislation
which surely means lost jobs, limitations on benefits, and pay cuts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: So let me get this right, we`ll get lawsuits, we will lose
jobs, so let`s keep women making 77 cents to a dollar for men. Is there a
logic in that anywhere to you Senator, from your republican colleague?
GILLIBRAND: No. I think that statement was absurd. In fact, if you
allow a women to earn a dollar on the dollar for equal work, you could raid
the U.S. GDP by up to nine percent. You want to talk about an economic
engine, pay women fairly for the work that they do. And what our bills
about is just giving women more access to information, so they can know if
they are being paid unfairly. It is really important for the U.S. economy
that women get paid for the work that they do.
SHARPTON: Now, the chair of the RNC Reince Priebus in April compared
war on women caterpillars. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: The Democrats said, we add war on
caterpillars in every mainstream media outlet talk about the fact that
Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we would have problems with
caterpillars. I mean, the fact of the matter is, it`s a fiction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: I mean, I don`t know if they`re going to have problems with
caterpillars, but will they going to have problems with women for their
attitudes? Is Mr. Romney going to suffer because of this, Senator?
GILLIBRAND: I believe he is. Because I think America`s women are
listening. They are listening to this debate. They are hearing that Mitt
Romney not only is anti-choice but he`s someone who hasn`t come out one way
or the other on equal pay. But he supports the governor of Wisconsin who
one of the first things he did was get rid of equal pay laws in that state.
He called him his hero. So, we are talking about two different visions of
America and two different views of equality and fairness for women. The
first bill that came out of this House of Representatives was to defund
title ten. Do you know what title ten pays for? It pays for pre-cancer
screenings. It pays for prenatal care. For at risk mothers. It a safety
net for healthcare for women. So you look at how they`ve started this
Congress, how they are ending this Congress. It is a constant attack on
basic rights and privileges. Basic safety nets, basic access to
SHARPTON: Now, let`s look at a minute about food stamps. Seventy
five percent of participants are families with children. And the fact that
food stamps has been used actually reduced poverty by eight percent in
2009. You`ve been trying to deal with this in a bill in the Senate and
trying to get your colleagues to understand the significance of this. This
also links to a lot of women who are single mothers like mine was, that had
to try and make it the best way they can. These are not people that are
misusing the system. They are actually helping the country and reducing
poverty in some cases.
GILLIBRAND: Yes. That`s true, Reverend. For every dollar? You
invest in food stamps, it creates an economic return of 1.71. So, it is
money that goes directly into the economy. Economists have said it is one
of the best investments you can make because every dollar is spent, and it
spent on nutrition, it`s spent largely for children and for seniors. If
you don`t feed a child and they go hungry at night and go hungry in the
morning, they can`t learn. They can`t reach their God-given potential.
So, it is so important that we fight for hungry kids. This bill has
slashed about $4.5 billion from the food stamps program. And I`m working
very hard to restore that money. In New York State alone, 300,000 families
will be affected. And what it translates to is $90 a month.
GILLIBRAND: So, that`s the whole, the last week of the month, a
family will be food insecure. They will have less access to whole foods,
fruits and vegetables and children will go hungry. Seniors will go hungry.
It is untenable to me, it`s unacceptable to me in this day and age that we
think it is acceptable to balance this budget on the back of the most at
risk, the poorest families, our children, our seniors when they did nothing
to hurt this economy.
SHARPTON: It is totally unacceptable. I want you to come back so we
can talk about that bill because people need to understand what is really
at stake there. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, thanks for your time tonight.
GILLIBRAND: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Coming up, Presidents Obama and Clinton team up to tell the
truth about the GOP.
And Mitt Romney`s extreme agenda. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: Folks, Karl Rove is trying to rewrite history when it comes
to President Obama and spending. Listen to the latest ad from his group.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Why isn`t the economy stronger? In the seconds it takes
to watch this, our national debt will increase 1.4 million. Now, he`s
adding 4 billion in debt every day. Borrowing from China for his spending.
Every second, growing our debt faster than our economy. Tell Obama, stop
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Funny, Rove didn`t stop the spending when President Bush
was in office. Under Bush, the national debt increased by 86 percent.
Now, I know the right wing may say, the national debt has gone up more
under President Obama than under Bush. But do you know what`s a huge part
of that? Bush`s policies. Check out this chart. Outlining the causes of
the national deficit. See the red part? Taking up most of the space is
this red part. Those are the Bush tax cuts. And another huge part of the
deficits come from the wars that Bush got us into. But if Rove is serious
about cutting spending, I`m sure he agreed to having the tax cuts go,
right? Wrong. On this Super PAC`s Web site, it says they support House
bills 206 and 86. Which would make the Bush tax cuts permanent. Karl Rove
and the rest of his right wing are perfectly happy to keep on spending
money as long as they`re the ones who get to do it. Didn`t he think we
would notice his hypocrisy in this? Nice try, but we got you.
SHARPTON: Four days ago, Republicans and their leader Mitt Romney
couldn`t stop talking about Bill Clinton. Well you should listen to him.
Something tells me they`re not saying that today. That`s next.
SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. Remember when Willard
Mitt Romney couldn`t stop praising Bill Clinton. You would have thought he
was running as a democrat. Well, somehow I don`t think he`s going to be
name dropping the former president any more. Not after Clinton`s
blistering attacks during a series of Obama fund-raisers last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FMR. PRES. BILL CLINTON, UNITED STATES: His opponent who says that
he`s got a better idea was a governor of a state that was 47th in the
country in job growth, and his plan, his plan, is to go back to the Bush
program. Except on steroids.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Former president didn`t stop there. He took the whole GOP
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: He`s had to get all this done while people as recently as
last week were still saying he wasn`t born in America. He`s had to get all
this done with a House of Representatives that had one of the Tea Party
members claim that 78 to 81 members of the democratic caucus were members
of the communist party and neither the presidential nominee nor any of the
leaders rebuked him for saying that. Nobody has seen a communist in over a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: And then President Obama came out to make it clear he`s not
going to stop fighting to move this country forward.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: I am more determined now than
I was in 2008. I am more inspired by America now than I even was then
because I`ve seen more of this country. I promise you, we will finish what
we started in 2008. We will not go backward. We will go forwards and we
will remind the entire world just why it is the United States of America is
the greatest nation on earth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, that`s some powerful one-two punch. But luckily for
Mitt, he`s got his own former president on his side. Let`s roll the tape
of his campaigning with George W. Bush. Guys, guys, I said roll the tape.
Oh, that`s right. The tape doesn`t exist. Romney and the rest of the GOP
are staying away from President Bush. They don`t want voters to remember
who got us into the mess in the first place.
Joining me now is democratic strategist Tad Devine, a senior adviser
for the Kerry and Gore campaigns and Steve Kornacki, political columnist
for Salon.com. And an MSNBC political analyst. Thank you both for being
STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM: Sure.
SHARPTON: Tad, how does President Clinton help Obama`s re-election
TAD DEVINE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, Reverend, he helped him in
so many ways, I mean, aside from raising $3.5 million in one night last
night in New York, it`s the way President Clinton frames the argument.
When President Clinton says, it would be calamitous for our country in the
world for Mitt Romney to be elected. He is able to put it in such powerful
terms and to explain the connection between Romney policies and the Bush
policies, when President Clinton is arguing effectively is that election of
Romney would be a third term for George W. Bush, and everybody in America
gets that, they understands the disastrous policies that almost bankrupted
this country. And so, when President Clinton is out making these arguments
about Romney and his policies, he`s connecting with swing voters, with
independents, with people who decide this election and energizing the base
of the Democratic Party as well. So, it`s a huge asset to the President.
SHARPTON: Now, Steve, last night, former President Clinton talked
about his own economic record, while he was praising President Obama. Let
me show you what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I care about the long-term debt of the country a lot.
Remember me, I`m the only guy that gave you four surplus budget out of
eight I sent.
So, I hope what I say to you will have some weight. I don`t think
it`s important to re-elect the president. I think it is essential to re-
elect the President if we want this country to have the kind of future that
our children and grandchildren deserve.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: How important is it to have connection with the President
with the economic record of Bill Clinton?
KORNACKI: Well, not just the economic record but I think the really
important thing and the thing that`s sort of been forgotten a little bit
over the years is how exactly those surpluses came about in the 1990s. And
what was at the heart of the Clinton program. Because this is really the
result of the 1993 budget. The first budget that Bill Clinton passed as
president. The main feature of that budget was a tax increase on the top
1.8 percent of wage earners in this country. Basically, people making
about $200,000 and above. Every single republican in the House in 1993,
every single republican in the Senate voted against that, said it would
plunge the country into recession. Say, it would cost millions of jobs and
basically a lost decade or another recession, you know, of the United
The end result was the economy boomed. I`m not saying the economy
boomed because of the budget but it certainly, the budget didn`t stop it
from that. And when the economy turned around with those new rates in
place, those higher rates, the money really came into the treasury. And
that`s how those deficits got wiped out at the end of the decade. And
that`s a very important lesson to keep in mind right now, I think we`re
dealing with even bigger deficits.
SHARPTON: Tad, the race is tight in about six battleground states.
In Ohio, Obama leads by six points. In Florida, president leads by four.
Virginia leads by four. Nevada, two. Colorado, he leads by one. And
Iowa, president is tied with Willard Romney. How could Bill Clinton help
in these six states?
DEVINE: Well, President Clinton first of all can go to every one of
those states and campaign everywhere in those states. He is someone who
enjoys tremendous popularity all across this country. Number two, the
argument that President Clinton can frame in those swing states that in
fact if Mitt Romney is elected the Bush policies will put back into place.
That in fact the policies that almost bankrupted America will be let into
law again. That is a resonating argument with people who will come out and
participate in the general election. These are states by the way that
President Clinton won when he ran for president with the exception of
Virginia. So, you know, these are states where he can have a huge impact.
They know him well there. He has a record. And he can remind people that
if Mitt Romney is elected the Bush policies will be back in place again and
that`s bad for America.
SHARPTON: Steve, when you look at former presidents, you look at the
favorable ratings of President Clinton, former President Clinton and former
President Bush, Clinton`s 67 percent favorable. Bush 42 percent. He`s
among independents. Clinton, 66. Bush, 43. The only area where Clinton
has been defeated by Bush is in unfavorability.
KORNACKI: Right. Well, and this is a potentially important role from
this standpoint too. It is important for the Obama campaign to remind
people of what he inherited. It is important to remember the melt down in
2008. To remember the spending, the exploding deficits and the spending
under Bush, what the tax cuts did. But there is a sense I think that if
Obama is out there directly making that case himself, it looks like, you
know, he is the guy blaming the predecessor, that can come across the wrong
way to people. But if you got Bill Clinton out there, I can`t think of a
better person, you know, he is basically as prominent as Barack Obama is,
and not only can he defend the Obama record, can he remind people about
Bush, but he`s also protecting his own legacy there to a certain point.
Because like he said in that clip, you know, when he left office this
country was on course to wipe out deficits and look where they ended up
eight years later.
SHARPTON: Well, that`s true, but Tad, just Bill Clinton walking out
on stage reminds people of the Clinton years and reminds them of what
happened between the Clinton years and now and most of that was under
George Bush. Also, he addressed Europe and the threats to the American
economy. Here is a man talking that was president eight years and brought
us through good times. So, it is kind of hard to dismiss and marginalize
what President Clinton says about any of these things.
DEVINE: Absolutely, Reverend. President Clinton has the unique
ability to frame complicated arguments in a very simple way. He has the
one thing that everybody who runs for public office wants to have, he
connects with people. And that connection is still powerful and vivid
right now, so -- him out there. And the fact that Mitt Romney has no wing
man. OK. There is no one like Clinton on the republican side. No one who
can stand up and verify on behalf of Romney the arguments. So, I think
this is a huge and powerful asset for President Obama and I hope President
Clinton spends a lot of time campaigning all across this country.
SHARPTON: Tad Devine and Steve Kornacki, thank you both for your time
DEVINE: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Just over two hours until polls close in Wisconsin. We`ll
be right back with some final words on unity in America.
SHARPTON: Whoever wins the Wisconsin recall tonight will be governor
of a deeply divided state within a deeply divided country. And a new fuel
survey shows that over the last 25 years, Americans have become more
polarized than ever and the bulk of that shift comes from Republicans. For
example, GOP support for the safety net helping people who can`t help
themselves have dropped 22 percent over the last quarter century. But
among Democrats, staying nearly level. And GOP support for environmental
laws, have dropped 39 percent. Yet democrat supporters stayed the same.
Republicans have been lurching further and further to the right. President
Obama tried to reach out to the other side. He tried to meet Republicans
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We`re always trying to deal with the compromises and the
accommodations that are required in a big messy democracy but the one thing
that I have great confidence is, the people have core decency. Most
people, I think, want to do the right thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: But Republicans won`t budge even when our country needs
help. Nearly a quarter of our kids are living in poverty. The jobless
rate is over eight percent. We can take action right now to stop this from
getting worse. Senate passed a bipartisan highway bill that would create
or save three million jobs. But House Republicans are blocking it. They
need to put aside their differences and pass it. This is not a time to
divide and conquer. It is time to come together. You and I must, in life,
decide whether we want to get things done or just stubbornly hold our
point. Sometimes we think it`s unprincipled to reach out. Sometimes when
people`s livelihood and lives are at stake, it`s unprincipled not to reach
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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