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PoliticsNation, Friday, June 8, 2012

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Guests: Sander Levin; Ana Marie Cox, Melissa Harris-Perry, Thomas Mann, Norman Ornstein


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

Tonight`s lead, President Obama wants action on jobs. Today he threw
down the gauntlet to Republicans in congress, demanding they put politics
aside and actually do something to create jobs. He accused them of failing
to act and of putting the economy at risk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Last September I sent
Congress a details jobs plan, full of the kind of bipartisan ideas that
would have put more Americans back to work. If Congress had passed it in
full, we`d be on track to have a million more Americans working this year.
The unemployment rate would be lower. Our economy would be stronger. Of
course, Congress refused to pass this jobs plan in full.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Among other things, the plan would have created or saved
400,000 education jobs. It would have done the same for thousands of
police and firefighter jobs, and it would have jumpstarted new
infrastructure projects across the country.

When it was introduced, John McCain`s former economist said it would
create 1.9 million new jobs and reduce the unemployment rate by one
percent, and the American people loved it. Seventy five percent supported
investing in teacher and police and firefighter jobs, 72 percent liked
investing in the infrastructure. And 72 percent thought we should help pay
for it by raising taxes on millionaires. And yet Republicans have voted
against it over and over again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: There`s no excuse for not passing these ideas. We know they
can work. Now, if Congress decides, despite all that, that they aren`t
going to do anything about this simply because it`s an election year, then
they should explain to the American people why.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The question now is with Republicans having to face the
voters, will they still dare to block jobs for people who are in this
country really struggling?

Joining me now is Congressman Sander Levin, democrat from Michigan,
and Jared Bernstein, MSNBC contributor and the former chief economist for
vice president Joe Biden.

Congressman, let me start with you. The president talked today about
his jobs plan. There`s also a highway build that house Republicans are
blocking. It would create or save three million jobs. It passed the
Senate with bipartisan support. Is there any legitimate explanation for
Republicans in the house just blocking these?

REP. SANDER LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: None. There`s only one explanation.
It goes back to what Mitch McConnell said 20 months ago, that the single
most important thing they want to achieve is the president is not re-
elected, and they are carrying that out.

What President Obama said today is exactly right, except when he said
congress, it`s the Republicans in Congress who don`t want anything to
happen, and they`re blocking the highway bill. They`re blocking the other
provisions mentioned by the president today.

I sent a letter last Friday to the chairman of the ways and means
committee. I`m the ranking member, and I listed six bills that would help
create jobs. They`ve been sitting on them, and the answer to my letter has
been silence.

SHARPTON: Wow.

LEVIN: November 6th is what the Republicans have in mind. We need to
throw down the gauntlet and get this economy moving even better.

SHARPTON: Now, Willard Mitt Romney today really attacked the
president and said, Congressman, that we really don`t need to worry about,
in effect, policemen and firefighters. Let me show you what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He wants another stimulus.
He wants to hire more government workers. He says we need more firemen,
more policemen, more teachers. It`s time for us to cut back on government
and help the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: We don`t need to hire more firefighters and policemen and
teachers. We don`t need stimulus. What is he talking about, congressman?

LEVIN: I think you need to ask governor Romney. You know, the public
sector has been losing jobs. Here in Michigan, firefighters have been laid
off. Policemen have been laid off. We don`t need them?

I think governor Romney is really talking much too politically, and he
needs to go back and talk to the people. Have him come back here in
Michigan, and we`ll let him know whether we need more policemen and more
firefighters.

SHARPTON: Now, I hear that.

Jared, let me ask you. Stimulus? How do you recover without some
stimulus, without some government investment? You know, I was reading Paul
Krugman this morning. He talked about a big spending president. Very
interesting.

He says, if you look at their records, three years into their terms,
you`ll see that under one president, real per capita government spending at
that point was about -- was 14.4 percent higher than four years previously
under the other. Less than half as much, just 6.4 percent. Reagan, not
Obama, was the big spender.

Now, these are the people at the party that raised up Ronald Reagan as
the great role model and as the father of conservatism. Reagan spent
money, and he wasn`t even dealing with near the economic problems that
President Obama faced.

JARED BERNSTEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Ronald Reagan would last about 30
seconds in today`s Republican party despite their rhetoric. He also raised
taxes 11 times.

Look, you asked a question about stimulus at a time like this. Here`s
the way to think of it.

Look at all the economies throughout the globe who are unfortunately
engaged in this pretty terrible natural experiment, when you see what
happens when you impose austerity, that is fiscal contraction, on economies
that are still demand constrained. That`s a fancy way of saying they`re
not creating enough jobs on their own.

Now, this needs to be temporary, but it needs to happen now. It
actually should have happened a year ago, as the president said when he
proposed his jobs act, because the private sector is not yet back up,
recovered, fully recovered from the depths of the great recession, and
that`s why these kinds of temporary measures are need.

And the counter example, you look at how the fiscal contraction,
Republican by all plans are working across the globe, they`re taking
economies, and they`re just wrenching the growth out of them. Unemployment
is 11 percent in the Euro zone. Is that what we want here? I don`t think
so.

SHARPTON: So you have used austerity, which has not worked, and, in
essence, trying to use the same kind of economic philosophy here, Jared?

BERNSTEIN: That`s correct.

SHARPTON: Congressman, let me --

LEVIN: Jared, I think -- let me just mention, Reverend Sharpton.
There was a hearing, I think, yesterday, the day before, and a very, very
neutral observer was challenged by the Republicans about the stimulus
package, and he indicated almost every economist said it worked. Not
perfectly, but it helped to create jobs. That`s the truth. What the
Republicans have to be told is the truth and get off their duff.

BERNSTEIN: Ben Bernanke said he same thing yesterday and I don`t
think he is some kind of wild odd liberals, so you`re right, sir.

SHARPTON: No. Not, last time I checked.

Congressman, let me play something to you that I heard a wise man say
about what Republicans may really be doing with this jobs bill, and I want
your opinion on what this wise man said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A deliberate effort now increasingly undisguised
to close the door on action to engender job creation and economic growth
before the election. That is not only cynical, It is indecent pernicious.
We owe it to the American people to blow the whistle on this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, we`re not going to debate the guy`s line, but what he
said I thought was very heavy. Would you care to elaborate on that,
Congressman.

LEVIN: Well, you did at the beginning. We need job creation. The
Republicans are being irresponsible. I said yesterday pernicious, and I
meant it. And the president was right today to throw down the gauntlet,
and the American people now need to respond, and all of us need to go out
to the American people.

I think the president needs to be kind of like Harry Truman and go out
and talk about why it is pernicious for the Republicans to refuse to act on
jobs bills because it might hurt them on November 6th. We need to help the
American people who need jobs. The government doesn`t create them. But,
we can help stimulate private sector growth, and we need to do that with
proposals that the president has been presenting, Reverend Sharpton.

It`s really that clear. And a few days ago the majority leader in the
house said all they`re going to do between now and November 6th is to
signal. No, we need action. We need action.

SHARPTON: I couldn`t agree with you more.

Congressman Sander Levin and Jared Bernstein, thanks to you both for
joining me tonight.

BERNSTEIN: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up.

LEVIN: Thank you for having me.

SHARPTON: Coming up, Mitt Romney is playing fast and loose with the
facts, but is claiming he is going to be the candidate of truth.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I will not be that president of doubt and deception. I will
lead us to a better place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Well, tonight we`re going to debut our Willard meter to
rate his deceptions.

Plus, an offensive ad featuring an assault rifle because a big story
in a race to replace Gabby Giffords. But the story and the outrage goes
much deeper. And we will talk to some experts who think the Republicans
are the problem in Washington and have the facts to back them up.

You are watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We all know that campaign sometime in the truth, but Mitt
Romney`s campaign is taking defending into a new level. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I will not be that president of doubt and deception. I will
lead us to a better place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Well, how about that? Willard Mitt Romney says he won`t be
a president of deception. That`s an odd statement from a man who plays
loose with the facts day in and day out, a man who has made twisting the
truth the benchmark of his campaign.

So I`ve decided to break out the Willard meter. We`re going to judge
Romney`s statements on a scale of 0 to 4 Willards. Zero means he`s telling
the truth. Four means, well, he`s really, really not telling the truth.
And we`re ready to try it.

Let`s start with governor Romney`s speech today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: If I`m the president of the United States, we`re going to
stop this out of control spending, this prairie fire of debt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That`s a two Willard. Sure, you might help the debt fire,
but it would be hard when you`re pouring gasoline on it. Your tax cuts
would add over $2.5 trillion to the deficit.

Let`s try another.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: 3 1/2 years in as president with America in crisis, with 23
million people out of work or stopped looking for work, he hasn`t put
forward a plan to get us working again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Well done. Four out of 4 Willards. Really, the president
doesn`t have a job plan? Tell that to the 31 million Americans who watched
him pitch the American jobs act to congress.

But let`s be honest. Romney`s been pushing the Willard meter to the
limit since his very first ad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA" We need to provide relief for homeowners. It`s going to take
a new direction. If we keep talking about the economy, we`re going to
lose, lose, lose.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Willard, that one broke my machine. That ad took the
president completely out of context, and what`s worse, your campaign still
has it posted on you tube. Here`s a reminder of what Obama actually said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Senator McCain`s campaign actually said, and I quote, "if we
keep talking about the economy, we`re going to lose."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now is Steve Kornacki, political columnist for
salon.com and MSNBC political analyst. He`s writing about Mitt`s empty
jobs boast today. And Anna Marie Cox, correspondent for "the Guardian."

Thank you both, for being here this evening.

Steve, all campaign have been true but, it seems different this time
around, don`t you think?

STEVE KORNACKI, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, SALON.COM: It really does
because, you know, what Romney is trying to do is basically give voters
rationalizations. The assumption of the Romney campaign is, look, if the
anxiety of the average voter is high enough because of where the economy
is, they`re going to look for reasons to take it out in the incumbent
president looking for reasons to vote against him.

And I think what the Romney campaign has basically decided is to start
level here is, we don`t need to deal in facts to give them
rationalizations. If they`re operating from an emotional place, let`s give
them arguments that feed the emotion, even if they`re not necessarily
rational.

And so, you know, you see - I mean, saying that Obama doesn`t have a
plan on jobs, that can come from no other place but a strategy that`s
designed to feed on emotion like that.

SHARPTON: So Anna Marie, facts don`t matter. I mean, let me show you
this.

Romney had two events this morning that were within an hour of each
other. But I want you to watch. Look how he takes on - has held his take
on Congress change depending on who he was speaking before. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: You also hope that Congress would look from time to time at
how an act is being implemented and how it`s being use d as Congress gives
a bit of a blank check, if you will, in terms of their authority.

He`s looking around. He is trying to find someone to blame. He`s
trying to blame Congress. He had his way with Congress, and what he did
didn`t produce the results we were looking for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Looks like different setting, different take on Congress,
Anna Marie?

ANA MARIE COX, CORRESPONDENT, THE GUARDIAN: It`s true, but that`s not
a surprise coming from Romney. I mean, he tailors his remarks to audiences
pretty much all the time. About the only time he`s caught at it -- or I
should say it`s more obvious when he`s tailoring his remarks to various
constituencies he doesn`t understand, like when he`s going to farm places
or to Detroit.

But he also does it with policy, and that`s true. I think that Steve
has a really good point that I think the Romney campaign feels like they
can do this because they are depending on the fear and anxiety of the
American people. And if that fear and anxiety is amped up enough, they`re
not going to notice that they are just being told what they want to hear.

SHARPTON: Steve, he has a new ad out as well. Romney does defending
his 10-year as the governor of Massachusetts. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Romney reduced unemployment to just 4.7 percent.
He balanced every budget without raising taxes. He did it by bringing
parties together to cut through gridlock.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, when you look at that ad, you have to laugh, Steve.
It`s Friday night. But I mean, it`s a little loose on the facts. Yes,
unemployment fell under Romney. But it was still higher than the national
average when he left office.

Romney didn`t raise taxes per se, but he raised $500 million in new
fees. Yes, he balanced the budget, but that`s required in Massachusetts.
I mean, it`s really, really deceptive, is that the word you use?

KORNACKI: Or we could say slippery. But, I mean, there`s a balanced
budget is a perfect example because he paints that in his ad as this great
coming together, bipartisan effect that he had as Massachusetts governor.

Well, the reality is in Massachusetts the legislature is
overwhelmingly democratic in both houses. So, if you have a Republican
governor and you have a democratic legislature, for Romney to fulfill his
constitutional duties as governor, he`s going to have to work with the
Democrats, and they`re going to have to pass a balanced budget.

You know, we look at it in the context right now, people hear about a
$16 trillion national debt, we think, wow, a balanced budget, great
achievement. But again, you know, every governor in Massachusetts does
this and every governor in most states do this because most states have
balanced budget amendments to their constitutions.

SHARPTON: Now, Anna Marie, John McCain, if nothing else, was a pretty
straight kind of -- straightforward kind of a guy. Here you have a very
different candidate in Willard Mitt Romney. I mean, will the Republicans
stick with this kind of guy who obviously has a different kind of answer,
depending on where he is and plays fast and furious with the facts?

COX: Well, I guess it`s going to depend on if he wins or not. I
mean, the case is - I mean, that the fact is that he has a very good chance
of winning in the fall, and I think it`s actually in part because he`s such
a slippery character. I think there are a lot of people in the middle who
think, you know what, he doesn`t say what he means. That maybe that means
he`ll do the pragmatic thing once he`s in office. Because that kind of is
what he did when he was in Massachusetts.

I really like what Steve pointed out, like he had to do those things
that he boasts about. That actually reminds me a little bit of what
Clinton was saying about the threshold of qualification which I thought the
thing about that Clinton quote was that he seemed to define down very low
what the qualifications to be president are, and indeed Romney does meet
those very low qualifications. He meets the very low qualifications for
having to be a successful governor as well, if by governor you mean fulfill
the constitutional duties that were assigned to him.

SHARPTON: Now, you have to deal also with not only Romney`s
falsehoods, Steve, you have to deal with the fact that the president`s
campaign is also going to have to compete with dishonest ads from right
wing super PACs.

Let me show you, "Nation magazine" wrote this. "Right wing groups are
planning to spend $1 billion on the election. Most will go to
advertisements. And what will the advertisements consist of?
Intellectually dishonest attacks on Obama`s record."

And a lot of people are beginning to feel, particularly after
Wisconsin, what`s going to define this year is big money that is pushing
out big lies.

KORNACKI: I`ll tell you, to be honest, I have a contrarian view on
the effect that money is going to have on this race. Because there`s going
to be a record massive amount spent on the presidential race.

SHARPTON: Correct.

KORNACKI: I think Presidential general election races are different
than every other political race we have in the country. There`s almost
every other race we had. Yes, the money is going to be a decisive factor.

In presidential general elections, everybody is talking about it.
There`s the news media, the entertainment media. There`s enough
information out there for sort of swing voters, the ads do not play the
same sort of decisive role that they will like in a congressional race, the
mayoral race, something like that.

So, I think if Obama has the money to run the campaign he wants, even
if he gets outspent, there`s a real diminishing return on the tens of
millions of dollars.

SHARPTON: But, Ana Marie, do we really know that? Because this is
the first time we have an election after the Supreme Court decision that
takes the lid off of money.

So, conventional wisdom may hold this year, and it may not, given the
kind of unlimited access to money, super PACs and outside groups can have
without even disclosing, in some cases, where it`s coming from.

COX: That`s right. It`s funny because I`ve talked to some political
scientists. I talked to political scientists fairly often actually, and
they tend to disagree with us on cable news about how much importance cable
news has and how much important those ads have. Most people make up their
minds pretty close to the election. Most people make up their minds pretty
soberly thinking about what would be best for the country.

But everyone they talked to, also says, but you know what, we`ve never
seen an election like this before. We`ve never seen this kind of money
before. We have never seen this kind of targeted voting before. This
amount of money going into this kind of targeted advertising. I`m sorry.

So, yes. No one really knows what`s going to happen in terms of this
massive amount of money that`s being poured in. And I want to point out,
it doesn`t go just to ads. I mean, it goes to all sorts of things. And
those things can make a difference as well when it comes to organizing,
door knocking, spreading rumors, who knows?

SHARPTON: All kinds of things.

Steve Kornacki and Ana Marie Cox, thank you for coming on the show
tonight.

Both of you have a great weekend.

COX: You too.

SHARPTON: Ahead, Republicans on the masters of gridlock. Tonight
we`ll try to figure out how extreme they`ve become and if there`s a way for
the president to break through.

And days away from the election for Gabby Giffords` seat, a major
controversy is brewing. Why is the Republican challenger holding a rifle?
Some big questions about his supporters. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL CREAK)

SHARPTON: Folks, have you checked us out on facebook? The
conversation is going all day long.

Today our facebook fans are still hot on the Florida voter purchase.

Judy says "the GOP should be ashamed of themselves."

Richard says, "that Florida got away with stealing the election in
2000. They think they can do it again."

But Irene`s looking to the future, urging us to quote, "keep this
issue alive and don`t let people forget this come voting day."

Don`t worry, Irene. We`ll definitely be staying on this story. Much
more on that next week.

We want to hear what you think too. Head over to facebook and search
"Politics Nation" and like us to join the conversation that keeps going
long after the show ends. We hope to see you there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back on POLITICS NATION with a story that needs
attention. Less than a year and a half ago, this was the scene in the
aftermath of one of the worst shooting sprees in American history, the
massacre outside a supermarket in Tucson, Arizona, where Congresswoman
Gabby Giffords was holding a constituents meeting. Vigils were held all
over the City of Tucson and all over the country. It was January 8th,
2011. Nineteen people were shot, and six lost their lives that morning.
It left a nation mourning and in shock. Congresswoman Giffords was shot in
the head at point blank range. She miraculously survived and continues a
long road back today. Ron Barber, Congresswoman Giffords` district
director, was shot in the face and the leg. He spent over a month in the
hospital but survived.

And now he`s running as a democrat to take his former boss` seat in
Congress. The special election is this Tuesday. He`ll be facing this man,
Jesse Kelly. Kelly ran and lost against Giffords in 2010`s Congressional
race. He`s a member of the Tea Party, a former marine, who served in the
Iraq war. In 2010, he called liberalism an infectious disease and also
called Congresswoman Giffords useless and a hero of nothing. In 2010, he
held a campaign gun event calling supporters to get on target for victory
in November. Help remove Giffords from office and to shoot a fully
automatic M16 with Kelly at the event. That was before the tragedy, and it
had nothing to do with it, but it`s still unacceptable for. And that
brings us to the present day. Check out this campaign ad e-mailed by a PAC
supporting Kelly put out. Quote, "Jesse Kelly for Congress."

What do you see? You see Kelly holding an assault rifle. He`s
running again for Gabby Giffords` seat, against a man shot in the tragedy,
and this is how the PAC wants to portray him? But there`s more reason to
be concerned. His links to the Americans for legal immigration PAC. In
2010, Kelly received an endorsement from this group also known as Ali-PAC.
It claims to be one of America`s top immigration enforcement and border
security advocacy groups. But the anti-defamation league directly links
Ali-PAC to several white supremacist groups, including the Vinlanders
Social Club who are pictured on the Southern Poverty Law Center website.
The ADL calls it, quote, "hard-core racist skinhead group." And the ADL
links Ali-PAC to the national socialist movement, the largest neo-Nazi
group in the country. In 2010, when John McCain was running against an
Ali-PAC endorsed challenger, his campaign slammed the group calling them an
extreme fringe group linked to white supremacist neo-Nazis and anti-
Semites who condone racism. Last month, Kelly sat down for an interview on
a local Arizona TV and was asked about it. Watch what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JENNIFER WADDELL, KGUN9 NEWS ANCHOR: We have something from one of
our viewers again. This is Joe Evano, he said, recently you accepted the
endorsement of the Americans for legal immigration group. Senator John
McCain and the anti-defamation league have denounced...

JOHN ELLINWOOD, JESSE KELLY SPOKESPERSON: I have to stop you. That`s
false. I did not accept it. That`s false. That was from 2010. So, would
you please read correct some answers.

WADDELL: This is not an answer. This is something...

ELLINWOOD: That`s not recent.

WADDELL: Hang on one second. Do you want to come into the shot?

JESSE KELLY, CANDIDATE FOR ARIZONA`S 8TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: You
can ask it again.

WADDELL: I`ll ask the question, and then you can address it how you
choose. So Joe Evano says, recently you had accepted the endorsement of
the Americans for Legal Immigration Group. He`s saying this was in 2010.
Senator John McCain and the anti-defamation league have denounced the group
for being backed by white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and anti-Semites. Why
then did you accept that endorsement and this is from Joe Evano?

KELLY: That was in 2010. This election`s about jobs in the economy
and lower gas prices. Frankly, that`s completely out of bounds.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It was 2010. It`s completely out of bounds. But on May
18th of this year, Ali-PAC put out this press release, renewing
endorsements for Jesse Kelly, who is running in Arizona`s 8th Congressional
district. So, is Jess Kelly rejecting this endorsement, rejecting the
group, as John McCain did? Here`s what he`s saying about this new
endorsement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you plan on accepting that endorsement this
time?

KELLY: Our campaign is going to stay focused on lower gas prices,
using American energy, lower taxes, and creating jobs.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you plan on accepting that endorsement?

KELLY: Our campaign is going to stay focused on lower taxes, lowering
gas prices using American energy, and creating jobs.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is that a yes or a no?

KELLY: Our campaign is going to stay focused on lowering gas prices,
creating jobs, and lowering gas prices using American energy.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: All right. So no comment?

KELLY: Our campaign is going to stay focused on lowering gas prices,
creating jobs, and lowering taxes.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: All right. Thanks, Jesse.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Focused on taxes and jobs. Seems to be a theme there. He
refuses to denounce this group as an endorser. Now just four days away
from the special election for Gabby Giffords` seat, here`s what his
spokesman had to say about that PAC and their PAC ad with the gun. "We are
focused on lowering taxes, growing the economy, and lowering gas prices
using American energy." Once again, refusing to denounce the ad this PAC
put out. Folks, this is as insensitive as it gets in politics.

Joining me now is Melissa Harris Perry, host of MSNBC`s "Melissa
Harris Perry" show. Melissa, what do you make of Kelly not denouncing this
ad?

MELISSA HARRIS PERRY, HOST, "MELISSA HARRIS PERRY": You know,
watching that was comical and painful in that, you know, clearly local
candidates are trained to stay on message, right? And so the idea, when
someone asks you a question, particularly a media person asks you a
question you don`t want to answer, you deflect, you know, get back on
message.

SHARPTON: Sometimes you use different words.

PERRY: That`s right. Mitt Romney is actually very good at it, but
watching this particular sort of all I can say are these words because I
have no capacity to account for this deeply troubling relationship between
this candidate and this PAC, I think for me that his unwillingness to in
any way address that problematic relationship should raise red flags for
every voter in that district.

SHARPTON: And there seems to be a problem around the state, though
because there`s a campaign ad running today for Arizona State Senator Ron
Gould, who`s also running for Congress, and it shows him blasting President
Obama`s health care reform with a pump action shotgun. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RON GOULD (R), ARIZONA: Government run health care, we don`t
want it, we don`t need it, we can`t afford it. This is what I`d do to that
law. Pull. (GUNSHOT) I`m Ron Gould, and I approve this message because
Washington needs a straight shooter. Pull.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, this is -- this is a state where we saw one of the
worst shooting sprees we`ve ever seen, and yet a year later, little over a
year later, we have all these political ads and little groups that are
running around that are openly using violent kinds of ads, violent
connections to hate groups. I mean, what`s going on?

PERRY: OK. So, let me say this. I live in Louisiana. We are the
sportsmen`s paradise. We love our guns in that state. There is no
question that across partisanship, across any logical divides, people have
attachments to their guns and often see guns as simply a part of culture
but not an actual indication of for example an attempt at violence. So, I
want to be clear that second ad, as troubling as it might be as irritating,
especially for folks who are living on the East Coast and aren`t part of
gun culture and might find that really shocking. I see that as very
distinct from those first set of concerns, where you have someone actually
running in Gabby Giffords` seat, and given that he himself is a military
veteran, is someone who understands what it means to be on the front lines
for your country, I mean, whatever else Gabby Giffords` former employee,
who`s now running in that seat, is, he`s a courageous American. He`s
someone who, despite the violence against himself and against Miss Giffords
--

SHARPTON: And watched people die.

PERRY: That`s right. I am willing to stand up for my country, stand
up for the things I believe in, at a minimum n that race, you have to
acknowledge, especially if you are a veteran who has been in war, you
acknowledge that this is a front line effort and that, even if you have
deep partisan disagreements, that you can agree that everybody in this
scenario can be a hero.

SHARPTON: But don`t you also expect that someone who has fought in
the war, someone that is a veteran, and I would guess would say he`s a
patriot, would deal with the sensitivity that this is a special election.

PERRY: Exactly.

SHARPTON: Because the fact that the incumbent Congresswoman had to
step aside because she was shot. He`s running against someone that was
shot. So even if you were dealing on a normal circumstance, you clearly
want to denounce extremist groups, hate groups, skinhead groups who may be
supporting you, and be very sensitive to any innuendo around violence.

PERRY: Absolutely.

SHARPTON: I mean, this is a special election for special reasons.

PERRY: That`s right. You don`t allow the gun in that picture, and
you are very clear that you do not support supremacy. I mean, his
inability to do that, his unwillingness to do that. I think is an
indication of much more than sort of wanting to win the election and it`s
much more than just insensitivity, it` s an unwillingness to recognize how
that kind of violence impacts us as a country, and I think that makes him
in that sense unfit.

SHARPTON: Well, and how that kind of violence is the only reason
they`re having a special election at all.

PERRY: Election at all. That`s right.

SHARPTON: Well, the election is Tuesday. Ms. Harris-Perry, thank you
for your time tonight. Have a great weekend. And don`t forget, catch
Melissa Harris-Perry weekends from 10:00 to noon right here on MSNBC.

Coming up, new evidence on how extreme the Republicans have become and
new ideas about how President Obama can break through.

And then Willard`s looking for a new buddy for the campaign trail, but
he`s not finding many takers. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Earlier in this show, one of my guests said President
Reagan wouldn`t last 30 seconds in today`s GOP. It`s undeniable, the
Republican Party is becoming more extreme by the day and is hurting the
country. President Obama made that point back in April.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: The positions I`m taking now
on the budget and a host of other issues, if we had been having this
discussion 20 years ago or even 15 years ago, would have been considered
squarely centrist positions. What`s changed is the center of the
Republican Party.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: A new pew survey shows that Republicans have become far
more extreme in their views than Democrats have over the last 25 years.
For example, republican support for the safety net has dropped 22 percent,
but among Democrats, it stayed basically the same. And while republican
support for environmental laws have dropped 39 percent, support among
Democrats hasn`t changed. The party`s lurch to the right has also infected
Congress, where the GOP`s extreme views have led to gridlock. In fact, a
recent Washington Post Op-ed said, quote, "The Republicans are the
problem."

Joining me now are the men who wrote that Op-ed and who literally
wrote the book on this. Thomas Mann, who is a senior fellow at Brookings
Institute, and Norman Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American
Enterprise Institute. Their new book is called "It`s Even Worse Than It
Looks." And they say, quote, "The Republican Party has become an insurgent
outlier, ideologically extreme, scornful of compromise, un-persuaded by
conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and Science." Thank you
both for being here tonight.

NORMAN ORNSTEIN, AUTHOR, "IT`S EVEN WORSE THAN IT LOOKS": Thank you.

THOMAS MANN, AUTHOR, "IT`S EVEN WORSE THAN IT LOOKS": Happy to be
with you.

SHARPTON: Thomas Mann, those are strong words. Tell us what you
found in your research.

MANN: They are strong words, and words we`re not accustomed to using
in our descriptions and writing on Congress and the American political
system, but the more we experience the last several years and reviewed the
scholarly research, the conclusion was inevitable that, while both parties
had been subject to this polarization, the Republican Party has really run
off the tracks. And now with the democratic president, they had decided
that their objective, their end of getting him out of office justifies any
means whatsoever, including threatening the full faith and credit of the
United States.

SHARPTON: Now, Norman Ornstein, let me show you this graph of the
rise in filibusters in the Senate over the past 45 years. Now, in your
book, an excerpt of your book on the rise of filibusters in the Senate, you
say especially since Obama`s inauguration in 2009, the filibuster is more
often a stealth weapon, which minority Republicans use not to highlight an
important national issue but to delay and obstruct quietly. This
persuasive use of the filibuster has never before happened in the history -
- no. This pervasive use of the filibuster has never happened before in
the history of the Senate.

ORNSTEIN: It`s pervasive and persuasive, Al. You know, this really
is different. And you can be extreme in ideology, but what`s happened as
well is an extremity in terms of tactics that are used. The filibuster,
the rule hasn`t changed since 1975, but the last few years, it`s used not
to represent a minority feeling intensely about an issue of great national
significance, but regularly on nominations and on bills as a pure tool of
obstruction. And, you know, I say that with reference to nominations and
bills that ultimately passed unanimously. They`re using filibusters to
stretch things out, to use up the precious commodity of time, and it`s only
one of a number of tactics that are different. And of course, Tom referred
to the debt limit. This the first time ever, and now we`re about to have
the second time where you have the full faith and credit of the United
States taken hostage. This is a different set of tactics that we`ve seen,
it goes beyond the usual hardball politics.

SHARPTON: And it stops the process of government. When you look at
it, Tom, district court judge confirmations. Let me pick that one. After
three years in office, George Bush had 91 percent confirmations. Barack
Obama, 73 percent. Confirmations of civilian nominees under democratic
controlled Senates. George Bush, 75 percent. Barack Obama, 57 percent. I
mean, they`re actually stopping appointments, stopping the process of
government.

MANN: Well, that`s right. Now, to be fair, in previous years,
Democrats would use opposition to republican nominees to the courts as, you
know, as a way of way of expressing their difference, but now it`s gone so
much further than that. We see, for example, a bill being enacted into law
over republican opposition. They fail to stop it, but then they use a
filibuster to prevent the nominee for the person to direct the agency to
carry out the law.

SHARPTON: I`m going to have to hold you there, Thomas. And we`re
going to have you back. And I want to thank you guys for pointing out the
problem. And we`re going to talk a lot about how we break through and
solve it. Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, thank you very much for being
here and good luck on the book. We`ll be right back.

ORNSTEIN: Thank you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Folks, it was news to me, but it turns out today is an
important day of celebration in this country. It`s national best friend`s
day, a chance to meet up with old friends or try to make new ones, and we
know at least one man who`s on the hunt for a new BFF. Willard "Mitt"
Romney is looking for the perfect person to campaign with this fall, but
he`s having a tough time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I`m not going to do it, and I`m not going to be
asked, and it`s not going to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It`s not an office I want to hold, expect to hold,
have any plans to hold. If I thought that call was coming, I`d disconnect
the phone.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I`m not going to be vice president.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The answer is, I`m not going to be considering
that, and I`ve taken myself off the list.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: This is just a no? You`re not interested?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: That`s right. That`s right. How many ways can I
say it? Not me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Doesn`t sound like too many folks are interested in the
gig. Fortunately, they`re at least willing to help put other people`s
names out there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Paul Ryan. I`d probably suggest he put him on the
ticket.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I think a lot of Senator Rob Horton would be a
phenomenal choice.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Rodney Portman, does that have a ring to it?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I think Rubio has got of a better ring to it.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: OK. Senator Rubio, Senator Portman in Ohio.
He`s got a lot of great choices.

FMR. GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: Among many great candidates for vice
president, Marco is probably the best.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: That`s very nice of Jeb. I hope he`ll say yes if
future President Romney asks him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Willard, I know it`s not easy to find a best friend.
Sometimes it works out pretty well, and other times, well, it`s a bit more
complicated. There`s an old saying that, if you need a friend in
Washington, you should get a dog. Unfortunately for Willard, the dogs
might know better. Well, since I found out what today is, I`d better check
on my friends. I have some friends in these states. I`d better check on
their voter I.D. I`ve got a friend in Florida. I hope they aren`t purged.

Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.

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

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