Guests: Newt Gingrich, Joan Walsh, Jared Bernstein, Elijah Cummings
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST, POLITICS NATION: Welcome to
"Politics Nation." I`m Al Sharpton.
Tonight`s lead, one-on-one with Speaker Newt Gingrich. Newt Gingrich
and I have known each other for a few years. We`ve worked together and
we`ve gone head-to-head.
We are very happy to have him here on POLITICS NATION tonight.
Let`s go back to January 4th, 1995, when Mr. Gingrich became speaker
of the House after the 1994 mid-term election. It was historic. He was
the first GOP speaker in 40 years.
Gingrich and his fellow Republicans took back power because they stood
for something. They had a plan.
It was called the Contract With America.
Now, I disagreed with every page of it, but it was a plan. And the
American people did respond.
Now, let`s fast forward to today.
What`s Willard Mitt Romney`s economic strategy?
Sure, he wants to bring unemployment down, he says, but he`s pretty
vague on details.
He thinks tax cuts are the solution. That`s fine. But he`s not
telling us how he plans to pay for them.
We know he`s against the president`s solution, but what exactly is he
Where is his plan?
Joining me now is the former Speaker of the House and recent
Republican presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for being here tonight.
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I -- I have to tell
you, we haven`t been together recently and I am so impressed with your
discipline and the way you`ve lost weight that I`m just in admiration of
you. I`m -- I want you to know, I`m starting this show a little bit
awestruck. You`ve shown enormous discipline and you`re a role model for
those of us who need to follow in your culinary footsteps.
SHARPTON: Well, good. I hope after we`re finished, I`ll still be a
Let`s say this, let me ask you this, given the economic times we`re in
right now, what makes you feel Romney is qualified to be president in this
GINGRICH: Well, I -- look, I think that that`s a -- the central
question, in a way, of where we are. And you and I, of course, have a
fundamental disagreement about this.
I think that a -- red tape is killing the economy. I think taxes are
killing the economy. I think if you go out and you talk to the actual
small businesses owners who create jobs and who hire people and who get
things done, they tell you that they`re scared to death. They`re scared
about what ObamaCare is going to do to their costs. They`re scared about
what`s going to happen with taxes in January. And every time they turn
around, there are new regulations.
I think there have been 12,000 pages of regulations issued just as it
relates to ObamaCare alone.
So, what Romney represents is a fundamentally different approach. I
mean you philosophically would disagree with it, but it`s an approach that
says on day one -- and he uses this phrase and talks about it very
seriously. On day one, there would be a lot less regulation. He would
repeal a lot of stuff.
On day one, small businesses would know they`re not going to be
crushed with health insurance costs they can`t pay.
On day one, they would know they have somebody who wants to reduce
taxes, not raise them.
So I do think, in that sense, that -- that if you -- we can argue
about philosophy, but if you measure, as a practical matter, how do you
create jobs, I think that the Romney approach of relying on small business
is more likely to succeed than the Obama approach of relying on big
SHARPTON: Well, but -- but what is his plan?
We -- we have seen this president have to deal with the worst economy
since the Depression, yet we`ve been able, in the private sector, to see,
on a monthly basis, Speaker, him be able to produce private sector jobs.
If you look at this graph, the job growth under President Obama, after
all of the jobs lost under Bush, every month he`s been able to produce
Show me where Mr. Romney produced a job anyway. He was 47th out of 50
governors in job creation. He doesn`t want us to talk about Bain. I`m
showing you where President Obama produced a job.
Show me where Mr. Romney, you claim, will produce jobs.
Where has he ever produced a job?
GINGRICH: Well, look, let`s take the case you used in Massachusetts.
He actually brought Massachusetts up from 49th to 47th in job creation.
They were at 4.7 percent unemployment when he left office. If we were at
4.7 percent unemployment right now, there would be about five-and-a-half
million more Americans at work than there are today. That`s a pretty big
And I think you`d have to concede that if we had 4.7 percent
unemployment, the president would be getting reelected by a big margin,
people would be happy. So...
SHARPTON: Well, if -- if we didn`t have...
GINGRICH: -- so...
SHARPTON: -- if we didn`t have a lot of Republicans blocking jobs in
the public sector, according to "The Wall Street Journal," we would be --
we would not be at 8.2 percent unemployment. And that`s a fact. We might
be like at 7.1 coming from the worst recession we`ve seen since the
And you`re asking Americans, Mr. Speaker, to vote for a man that
brought his state from being second to last to being third from last,
that`s his job creation resume?
GINGRICH: No, I`m asking Americans to ask -- ask themselves a very
simple question -- can they afford four more years?
You know, I campaigned in 1984 with President Reagan.
GINGRICH: Excuse me.
And President Reagan`s policy -- he -- he inherited a bad economy from
Jimmy Carter. He inherited high inflation. He inherited high
But by 1984, the recovery was so big, we didn`t talk about Carter. We
didn`t talk about the problems.
We talked about leadership that was working. We talked about moving
You know, one of the challenges for the president, this is just a very
tough business. I -- having run for office and not made it, I can tell
you, this is a very tough business. And, of course, you`ve run before, so
you know how tough it is.
What the public wants in their leader is delivery. And the great
challenge for President Obama is, that with all due respect for all the
problems the Republicans gave him in the Congress and that`s -- they did,
with the challenges he inherited from George W. Bush, and they were real --
by the time you`ve been there three-and-a-half years, people want a sense
not of why you couldn`t do it, but of the fact that you are getting it
And I think this is a big burden he`s going to carry into the fall.
SHARPTON: But I -- I think you`re -- Mr. Speaker, when I talk about
job creation and the private sector, when you talk about health insurance
and -- and health care, when you have people a pre-existing conditions, he
clearly has a record. And -- and what I keep hearing -- and we`ve been
talking a few minutes now -- is that Mr. Romney really doesn`t have a plan,
that you`re running on just attacking Mr. Obama`s plan.
Now, you mentioned Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan did more than stop
talking about Jimmy Carter. He raised taxes 11 times.
You`re talking about cutting taxes on the small businessman. Eleven
times Ronald Reagan raised taxes.
So what -- where do you use Reagan and then come with this tax cut
kind of mantra over and over again, as if Reagan...
SHARPTON: -- did not raise taxes when it was necessary?
GINGRICH: Well, in the first place, in 1981, Reagan passed what was,
at that time, by a big margin, the largest tax cut in American history.
Remember, when Reagan was sworn into office, the top marginal rate was 70
percent. So the tax cuts Reagan put in, ultimately, by the time he left
office, I think the top rate was 39. So that was a huge drop in tax rates.
And -- and all of the small tax increases you`re talking about were
tiny compared to the 1981 tax cut.
And so in that sense, I think it`s fair to say that Reagan was
committed to a supply side approach of lower taxes and more job creation.
SHARPTON: But he raised the taxes...
GINGRICH: But I -- but let me...
SHARPTON: -- 11 times, Mr. Speaker. He did.
GINGRICH: Yes, but most of those were...
SHARPTON: That`s a fact.
GINGRICH: -- most of those were very small tax increases.
But let me give you an example that -- I was in Atlanta yesterday and
I was out at the Cobb Galleria. And a woman walked up to me. And she had
her teenaged son with her and introduced him and we got a picture.
And she said to me, you know, she said the -- the jobs situation is so
bad that when I went to see a friend of mine who runs one of these fast
food places to try to get my son a job for this summer, he said to me,
we`re hiring adults because, frankly, there are so many adults out of work,
we don`t have space to hire teenagers.
Now, you know that this is a major, major problem for America. My
only case is that the president has had three-and-a-half years to solve it.
The first two years, he had a Democratic House, a Democratic Senate. He`s
had a Democratic Senate for all four years.
I think people thought it would get done better, that we`d be more
robustly getting to full employment. And instead, they see an economy
where, the last poll I saw, three out of four Americans think we`re still
in a recession.
And that`s why I think when the president said last Friday that the
private sector was doing just fine, a lot of people thought that was a
disconnect from reality...
SHARPTON: Well, I think a lot of people...
GINGRICH: -- (INAUDIBLE) when you go to the private sector...
SHARPTON: I think the president clearly made clear what he was
Well, let -- let`s say this. You -- you talk about what he had in
Congress. Every step of the way, Congress has blocked his jobs bill,
blocked even serious talks about the deficits. In fact, let`s go to a book
that Mr. Draper wrote about the night of the inauguration. There was a
meeting at a hotel near the inaugural ball, about a mile away, in which,
that night, there was a -- a group of Republicans, you among them, that was
committed to the defeat of President Obama. This is before any of this.
He writes about that night the plan was to show united and unyielding
opposition to the president`s economic policies, begin attacking vulnerable
Democrats on the air waves, win the spear point of the House in 2010, jab
Obama relentlessly in 2011, win the White House and the Senate.
And Draper writes that you told the group -- you, Newt Gingrich, "You
will remember this day...you will remember this day the seeds of 2012 were
Now, you called the president and Democrats divisive. You said he
hasn`t done anything.
If there was a commitment from day one, before he ever took a seat
behind the desk of the Oval Office, that everyone was going to obstruct
him, then what he`s done has been almost unbelievable, against those kind
of odds, Speaker Gingrich.
GINGRICH: Well, look, I mean there -- there are three different
things in this, Al, or Reverend Sharpton, if we`re going to be on formal
names. I -- I`m happy to be Newt, but Reverend Sharpton.
The first is, it was an important meeting and I was glad and honored
to be part of it.
SHARPTON: I`m glad you admit you had it.
GINGRICH: And -- and...
SHARPTON: But go ahead.
GINGRICH: And look -- but look, it`s obvious.
I mean don`t you think that in 2001, when George W. Bush was being
inaugurated, a group of Democrats got together and said, how do we get the
And in 2005, they got together and said how do we get the White House.
In fact (INAUDIBLE)...
SHARPTON: No, but there -- there`s a qualitative difference in how do
we get the White House and that we are committed tonight to block
everything he does, that we are going to be relentless and really care
nothing about the fact that he was inheriting...
GINGRICH: Well j
SHARPTON: -- the worst economy since the Depression by a member of
GINGRICH: Look, I -- I said, at the time, that if he had stuck with -
- there were three speeches President Obama gave that were truly historic
an enormous opportunity for him -- the Manasa speech the last weekend
before the election, the Grant Park speech election night, and his
inaugural on -- and which was -- which I said to Callista when we left the
wall -- because we were at the Capitol for the inaugural.
As we left, I said, you know, if he sticks to the kind of moderation
and bipartisanship he`s been describing, he will split the Republican
Party. He`ll govern like Eisenhower and he`ll get reelected. Now this is
-- this is the inaugural day.
The reason we were able to unify the party is he basically cut a deal
with Harry Reid, the Democratic Senate majority leader, and Speaker Nancy
Pelosi, and they rammed through a -- an $800 billion stimulus package with
no Republican really being involved. And, in fact, no elected official
even read the bill before it was voted on in the House.
And I think that was the decisive mistake of the presidency, because
he was choosing...
SHARPTON: But Speaker Gingrich, that night...
GINGRICH: -- (INAUDIBLE)...
SHARPTON: -- you were quoted as saying, "This begins the seeds of
2012. We`re going to block them."
Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, said his one commitment
was to stop the reelection of this president.
If you were so blown away by those three speeches, you certainly had
sobered up by the time you got to that meeting that night.
GINGRICH: No, look, I...
SHARPTON: And he had just done the inaugural address.
GINGRICH: Look, I -- I thought -- and I still think, in retrospect,
he had an opportunity to outmaneuver us by being deliberately bipartisan
and deliberately open. You know, this happened with -- with Bill Clinton.
Bill Clinton is faced with a choice, after I become speaker, as you pointed
out at the beginning of this show. Bill Clinton is faced with the choice
of working with us in welfare reform, working with us on balancing the
budget or fighting us every inch of the way.
And he says, you know, if I work with them, I will be in the middle.
I`ll be seen as reasonable. I`ll get reelected.
Now, you could make an argument that he helped reelect the House
Republicans by working with us, but he also helped reelect himself.
And you always have -- a president always has a choice.
This president could have chosen to be more open, more bipartisan. He
wouldn`t have gotten as much done. I mean from a -- from the standpoint of
a hard line liberal, you`d never get ObamaCare through if it -- if he had
cooperated with Republicans. You`d never get the size of the stimulus
through if he had cooperated with Republicans.
So he -- he took a gamble. The gamble was to drive through enormous
change, and that he is an historic president, whether he gets reelected or
not. The scale of what he achieved, on his terms, was very large.
He dramatically expanded government. He dramatically broke through on
health care. We`ll find out in a week or two if the Supreme Court reverses
SHARPTON: Yes, but we`re getting off...
SHARPTON: -- we`re getting off the point, though, because the point
is, Speaker Gingrich, that this president reached out more than you can
remember, to the chagrin of many of us that supported him. And John
Boehner would make a deal, would make an agreement, go back to his caucus,
have to come back and rescind.
I mean how can you sit and say that he should have reached out?
He reached out so that he had his own party angered with him. You
couldn`t reach out any more than he reached out.
GINGRICH: Well, sure you could.
SHARPTON: The difference is that you didn`t have anyone on the other
side reaching back.
GINGRICH: Look, I mean of course you had. Fir -- first of all, as I
said on the stimulus, no Republican knew what was in the bill. I mean
you`re going to -- you`re going to spend $800 billion and not a single
Republican knows what`s in the bill and you expect the Republicans to go
along with you?
On ObamaCare, he had a clear signal from the people of Massachusetts,
when -- when you lost Teddy Kennedy`s seat on health care to a Republican,
that`s a pretty big signal that maybe you`ve gone too fast, too far and...
SHARPTON: Well, what does that have to do with...
GINGRICH: -- you ought to slow down.
SHARPTON: -- the Republicans reaching back?
We`re going to Massachusetts voters. Let -- let me -- let me bring
you to another area.
GINGRICH: All right.
SHARPTON: Finance, in terms of campaign financing. You, in Florida,
spent about $3 million, I think.
SHARPTON: And heading into the primary, you were going, doing very
well, riding high off a major victory in South Carolina. And then the
Romney campaign massively outspent you. With all of these new laws, they
could raise money. Romney and his super PAC spent $16 million on ads.
Your campaign only had $3 million.
On top of that, the Romney team went negative. You talk about what
united your party, you guys were fighting like schoolyard classmates in a
Ninety-nine percent of the ads that he ran against you were negative.
You would have won that if he didn`t have the money and didn`t go negative,
wouldn`t you, Newt...
SHARPTON: So can you say -- I can call you Newt?
You`d have won that.
SHARPTON: He went negative and it was money. And that`s the way he
GINGRICH: Actually, you know, the Georgia phrase would have been we
were fighting like junkyard dogs, which I -- I think Florida got to be...
SHARPTON: Well, I didn`t...
GINGRICH: -- pretty hard and pretty tough.
SHARPTON: -- I didn`t want the right-wing bloggers to say I called
you a junkyard dog.
GINGRICH: No, they`ll...
SHARPTON: But go ahead.
GINGRICH: -- they`ll come after me for it. But it`s all right.
No, look, I -- I believe that two to one, I -- I would have won the
primary, but it took five to one to beat me. I think the election laws
ought to be reformed.
But I`m going to surprise you. I think they ought to be reformed by
saying any American can give any amount of after tax personal income to the
candidate as long as they report it every night on the Internet. If you
had that kind of a system, you`d have less negative attack ads, because the
candidates just simply wouldn`t do it. You`d have more accountability.
And middle class candidates could balance off rich candidates.
It`s very difficult in America today, if you like, for example, at New
York, where Mayor Bloomberg spent an extraordinary amount of personal money
to buy the mayor`s office for the third time. It`s very hard to compete
with a billionaire if -- if they get to spend all the money they want and
the middle class candidate is raising money in $2,500 units.
So I think the current system is rigged, frankly, in favor of the
SHARPTON: Well, I think that the economic system is rigged in favor
of the wealthy when we`re sitting around giving them tax cuts.
But Speaker Gingrich -- Newt, please stay with me.
We`ll continue the conversation.
GINGRICH: All right.
SHARPTON: I have a few more things I want to go over with you.
We`ll be right back.
SHARPTON: Newt Gingrich on Election 2012 and more. Our exclusive
interview continues next.
SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION.
Continuing now with our live interview with Newt Gingrich, former
speaker of the House and recent candidate for the Republican presidential
Mr. Gingrich, during the campaign, you said some questionable things
about poor people in this country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM JANUARY 17TH, COURTESY FOX NEWS CHANNEL)
GINGRICH: The fact is that more people have been put on food stamps
by Barack Obama than any president in American history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM JANUARY 5TH, COURTESY POLITICS NATION)
GINGRICH: If the NAACP invites me, I`ll go to their convention and
talk about why the African-American community should demand paychecks and
not be satisfied with food stamps.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) FROM DECEMBER 5, 2001)
GINGRICH: We really want to create a pathway to work for people --
when you have 43 percent black teenage unemployment, there`s a very, very
serious challenge of making sure that people get the work habit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM DECEMBER 5, 2011)
GINGRICH: If you look at the largest urban housing projects, you`ll
find areas that have remarkably few people who -- who have work experience.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now Mr. Gingrich, you know you should have known better.
And I think you do know better, because we traveled together at the
suggestion of President Obama.
And so I have to ask you, is this kind of talk, this kind of language
you use, just playing to the right-wing, you`re playing to the far right,
as David Gregory asked you, with racially tinged language?
Do you still defend now what you said?
GINGRICH: Well, let me start with my surprise that having a
conservative Republican who actually cares that there`s 43 percent black
teenage unemployment, I would think, is a good thing. Having a
conservative Republican who`s eager to go to the NAACP and meet with them
and talk about real issues, I would think, is a good thing.
I -- look, I would say the same thing about La Raza and my concern for
Latinos who are -- who are unemployed. It is a fact in America, as you
know and as you`ve talked about, that when you have hard times, they`re
harder for ethnic minorities than they are for whites.
We need a greater level of concern. Surely, I mean...
SHARPTON: Well, I -- I don`t agree with -- with any of that about if
you had a conservative that was concerned. What I disagree with is when we
have facts that are not correct.
Let`s deal with the facts.
GINGRICH: All right.
SHARPTON: The facts are there are more whites on food stamps than
blacks -- 49 percent of the people...
GINGRICH: I agree.
SHARPTON: -- on food stamps in -- in 2010 were white, only 26 percent
black, 20 percent Hispanic.
You didn`t go to the -- to a -- a white convention or say you would go
there and tell them to go for paychecks, not food stamps.
SHARPTON: And to call the president a food stamp president, I mean
it`s like this racial line...
GINGRICH: Wait a second.
SHARPTON: -- to say that people don`t have people that are role
models, you and I went to South Philly. You saw parents that take their
kids to school.
SHARPTON: You saw black teachers.
What do you mean they don`t have role models and all...
GINGRICH: No, wait a minute...
SHARPTON: -- they see is criminals?
GINGRICH: Now, wait a second. Hold on.
Fir -- first of all, on the question of who gets the most food stamps,
you just made the point I made to David Gregory on "Meet The Press." David
Gregory said to me, "Isn`t it racist to talk about food stamps?"
And I said, "David, a majority of the people getting food stamps are
white, they`re not black. So if I`m talking about food stamps, it`s not an
inherently racial comment."
SHARPTON: It is...
GINGRICH: It`s a fact (INAUDIBLE)...
SHARPTON: -- if you say...
GINGRICH: -- it`s a poverty (INAUDIBLE).
SHARPTON: -- you will go the NAACP and tell them that they should get
paychecks, not food stamps. You didn`t say you would go to the NAACP and
say help you get whites off food stamps for paychecks.
GINGRICH: Well, first of all, I think -- I think from the standpoint
of -- of the NAACP, their number one legitimate priority is black teenage
GINGRICH: I think -- I think -- and -- and I -- it`s -- it`s not
suburban white kids who are reasonably well off who can`t find a job this
SHARPTON: But this became...
GINGRICH: It is, in fact, kids who are (INAUDIBLE)...
SHARPTON: -- an ongoing theme throughout your campaign...
SHARPTON: -- food stamp president, people get paychecks. I mean you
and I know the subtleties and the subliminal message there.
SHARPTON: Does a Republican candidate, even if they know better, are
they forced to play to this extreme right-wing that wants to see this
SHARPTON: -- of language?
GINGRICH: No. I`m -- I`m not -- I`m trying to make a point about the
ac -- the outcome of certain economic policies.
But I also want to challenge you head-on for a second about your
Are you seriously suggesting that there are not public housing
projects that -- that, in fact, have a very substantial number of people
with no really healthy role models?
And -- and I agree with you. We went to a school in Philadelphia
together. It was a great trip. And I wish every American could have been
with us on that trip. They would have learned a great deal, as I did, and
-- and watching you have the great courage in that community and the way
you took people on was -- was very impressive.
But that was also a school that had changed dramatically in three
years. I mean I have never forgotten the one young man who said to us, who
was a junior in high school, that in the old school, people expected him to
fight, so he did. In the new charter school, people said if you fight,
we`ll kick you out, so he refused to fight, because he didn`t want to ever
get kicked out. It was a great success story.
SHARPTON: That`s right. And you know who turned that school around?
Not criminals in that neighborhood. Those same black teachers, black
principal that you met, the same role models I`m talking about.
SHARPTON: I know housing developments where people get up early...
SHARPTON: -- get on public transit, risk life and limb in some high
crime areas and they`re the majority of the housing developments, trying to
go out and work and make ends meet. And for them to be miscast in this
way, I think, is humiliating and it`s incorrect.
GINGRICH: But -- but I wasn`t miscasting people who get up early and
work hard. I had relatives who didn`t get out of high school. I had
relatives -- I had an aunt, one -- my favorite aunt, who helped raise me,
my Aunt Loma, who worked every day of her life into her 90s. She grew up
very poor on a -- on a farm. She did maid work in her -- in her 70s and
early 80s. She sewed. And she felt that it was an inherent dignity in
GINGRICH: Now, so I`m -- I`m -- so I -- I think I have an identity.
I -- you know, I have relatives who are steelworkers in Steelton,
Pennsylvania, who belong to the local union. I mean I -- blue collar
workers who got out of high school but never went to college.
So I`m -- I`m -- I`m just saying, we need to have a policy -- and I
would think you`d actually agree with this. We need to have a policy that
no neighborhood in America should be left out, no community should be left
out. And it`s clear today that we have policies and institutions that are
And, frankly, I thought part of the reason you and I went around
talking about charter schools was in an effort to get communities to
realize that there`s an opportunity for real change and they have to make
that change if, in fact, their children are going to have the kind of
SHARPTON: Absolutely. And we went with...
GINGRICH: -- we want them to have.
SHARPTON: -- we went with Secretary Duncan of this administration.
SHARPTON: This president has put forth bills around education and
jobs that I think is consistent with that. Which is why I do not
understand how in any way, shape or form, we can talk about relatively few,
very few people in these places unen -- are employed. They have few role
I think that the greatest role models are in the poorest communities
where people have shown that no matter what their circumstances, their
children should strive and struggle and pick themselves up and not make
And that happens every day in some of those communities that you`re
talking about. And they should not be in any way confused with some of
those that are irresponsible.
All of us are against that. But that`s not the picture of those of us
that are in those communities, work in those communities or labor for those
And I think that there`s a base that you -- that you`re playing to
that has this misperception...
SHARPTON: -- that clearly was being played to in these primaries.
GINGRICH: But look, I`ve -- I`ve -- I may not be saying it exactly
right and -- and I`m not going to claim, as a guy, you know, as a -- as a
college teacher, a white Republican, that I get all this in exactly the
But I will tell you, when -- when I look at the collapse of Detroit
over the last 40 years, when I look at entire neighborhoods where half the
houses have nobody living in them, when I look at places where the kids
don`t have good role models and -- and surely -- and I`ll be glad to go
with you someday and we`ll take a trip together. I`ll find three or four
neighborhoods, if you`ll go with me, that...
SHARPTON: Oh, I...
GINGRICH: -- fit what I`m describing.
SHARPTON: -- I will...
GINGRICH: And I...
SHARPTON: -- I will...
GINGRICH: You know...
SHARPTON: -- I will take you to housing developments that will show
you why we need not to be caught in the safety net, because these people
need us to deal with affordable housing.
GINGRICH: I agree.
SHARPTON: They work every day and try to make things work and they
try and educate their children.
We`re going to run out of time.
I need to ask you a question that...
GINGRICH: All right.
SHARPTON: -- occurred today. And -- and we`re going to continue this
GINGRICH: I look forward to it.
SHARPTON: -- because I think we really need to straighten this out.
Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn today called on Attorney General
Eric Holder to resign.
Do you support that position?
GINGRICH: Well, I think that the attorney general either has the
comply with the white -- with the House contempt citation or he has to
resign. I mean there -- it`s clear that the House is going to vote
contempt unless he turns over documents and answers questions. And I think
this is -- this has nothing to do with -- with him as a person.
This is a serious constitutional...
SHARPTON: But he said he wants to keep talking.
GINGRICH: -- question.
SHARPTON: He says he wants to keep talking to the House.
GINGRICH: Well, I think in that context, I think that he ought to sit
down with them in the next couple of days. I don`t think this is a six
month process. They ought to work it out.
But I do think that what Senator Cornyn is pointing out is in the
absence of them finding a solution, once -- if he has a contempt citation
voted against him, his position will become impossible to sustain, just as
a practical matter, trying to be attorney general.
So I would hope, if he`s going to sit down, he does it in the next 48
or 72 hours and works something out, because I think it`s unhealthy for the
country to have that level of tension between the Congress and the attorney
SHARPTON: Well, Speaker Gingrich, we`re out of time.
I appreciate your time tonight.
We`re going to continue this discussion.
GINGRICH: All right.
SHARPTON: And these are the kind of debates we had traveling
I also want you, next time we talk, bring me one job, just one, that
Mitt Romney produced.
GINGRICH: All right.
All right, I`ll do it.
SHARPTON: Please come back again.
SHARPTON: To be continued.
Stay with us.
SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. Folks, it happened again.
Mitt Romney opened his mouth. And the truth fell out. His latest truth
saying, we don`t need more firefighters, cops and teachers. Today, he
wants to pretend it never happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP))
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Do you think your comments about firefighters and
cops were taken out of context?
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m sorry?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Do you think your comments about firefighters and
cops were taken out of context?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Ignore the media. Great plan. Earlier in the day, he told
FOX News it was, quote, "Absurd to say he supported fewer teachers and
firefighters." Even though his own words showed the opposite.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: He wants another stimulus, he wants to hire more government
workers. He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. It
is time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: These views are absurd and frankly immoral. Because the
middle class is hurting more than ever. Today we learned that the Bush
recession caused the median wealth of the American family to fall 39
percent between 2007 and 2010.
Joining me now is Joan Walsh, editor-at-large of Salon.com. And Jared
Bernstein, MSNBC contributor, and former chief economist for Vice President
Joe Biden. Joan, let me start with you. Is all this a simple
misunderstanding? Or did Willard come out with the truth of how he feels
and admits he wants fewer firefighters, fewer cops, fewer teachers?
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: He told the truth. And then he got rebuked
even by Scott Walker, Reverend Al. And then he decided to hold up the etch
a sketch and shake it and hope he could change the -- history. And hope he
could get rid of those tapes that you keep playing and it is not going to
work. I mean, it is so -- it is ignorant on one level. Because he says
well, the federal government doesn`t hire cops and firefighters. Actually
the federal government provides a lot -- millions and millions of dollars
that actually do help hire cops and firefighters and teachers. That`s one
SHARPTON: But he was the one that brought up the President and
firefighters and cops and teachers. So, how can he turn around and talk
about what the federal government does? He related the President and the
federal government to that.
WALSH: Absolutely. And he also -- he is resisting, you know, he is
resisting the jobs act which would have kept -- which would have provided
more federal money to keep those cops and firefighters and teachers on the
job. And without that money, more states and cities are going to have to
let those middle class workers go. So, you know, it is all -- it is sort
of like it doesn`t matter to Mitt what he says. He can shrug it off, he
can shake the etch-a-sketch. He`s not really talking about the real world
of middle class families losing jobs and as we are talking about losing
that net worth in such an incredible tragic fashion. That`s not where his
head is at.
SHARPTON: Now, Jared. When you look at the report from the Federal
Reserve, it shows how badly the Bush recession hurt most Americans, the
median wealth of American families fell 38 percent in just three years.
Matching the level not seen since 1992, 2001 to 2004, went up one percent,
2004 to 2007, went up 17.9 percent. In 2007 to 2010, went down 38.8
JARED BERNSTEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely. I mean, you are
talking here about net worth which is just a family`s assets, minus their
debts or their liabilities. And when you are talking about the median
family, middle class households, what`s their most valuable asset? These
are not folks who are clipping bond coupons or trading stocks and equity
markets. Their most valuable asset is their home. And three-quarters of
that almost 40 percent decline in their real net worth from `07 to 2010 was
a loss in the value of their home. Now, some of that was inflated in the
way up. No question it. But the damage done by this housing bubble
inflated by the kind of stuff we know is going on in financial markets is
incredibly clear in this report. It also helps explain why the recovery
has been such a slog when families lose that much of their net worth, it is
going to take them a while to start getting back on their feet.
SHARPTON: And it`s going to take a lot longer for them to spend and
the economy to pick up that way as well as these are the same policies that
Mr. Romney is saying we have played over and over on this show where one of
his folks people talk about we are going to do what Bush did but at the
same time, though, that we are seeing this decline with the middle class,
Joan, the rich actually went up. Reports showed the middle class brought
the brunt of the economic hit with the middle class 60 percent of the
country seeing the greatest losses. The top 10 percent actually saw their
net worth increase. And as we look at this chart, except for the top 10
percent, it actually went up. Everyone else went down. And we are being
told to continue giving them tax cuts, continue giving them more, it will
trickle down to us by and by when the morning comes, Joan.
WALSH: When the morning comes. When the sun comes up. I don`t know
when, Reverend Al. But right, that is what we are being told. And it is
really tragic because as Jerrod says, mainly we are talking about homes.
And Mitt Romney is the man who said, we should let the foreclosure process
work faster and just give those homes back to the banks. So, you know,
there is a part of people`s hearts that are in their homes but there is
also, you know, these are people who are now not able to afford college
education. These of them are, some of them are not able to afford basics.
SHARPTON: And that`s why I`m raising it and I let you finish because
that`s why this statement he is make about firefighters and teachers and
cops is so important because they are the middle class. That`s who we are
WALSH: Right. Right. We are cutting their jobs. We are cutting
those jobs. At the same time as those are probably the same people who
have seen their security diminish because their houses are worth so much
less. So, you know, they are being come at in both directions. And it is
really hard to watch.
BERNSTEIN: Let me just amplify part of what you and Joan are talking
about here. Because I think it does, I think it does explain a lot about
the way Governor Romney views the economy. What you don`t hear in any of
his rhetoric or what you don`t see and any of his plans and I have combed
through them and I`ve talked to his economists is any recognition of the
largest market failure since the great depression. You know, the idea the
government doesn`t hire cops and firefighters you and Joan were just
talking about that, that is patently false in the context of recession.
One of the most effective parts of the recovery act was fiscal relief to
the states that enabled them to retain hundreds of thousands of jobs.
So, when Governor Romney says that, it is suggesting he really doesn`t
understand, A, the magnitude of the market failure, what it has done to our
families and our communities. And B, government as a tool to offset that
kind of contraction while it is ongoing. Now, the President continues to
try to promote this idea. Not big government, not government should always
be in the business of creating these jobs. But looking at the reality of
the residual from the great recession and trying to do something about it.
What we hear Mitt Romney say seems deeply out of touch with that reality.
SHARPTON: Joan Walsh and Jared Bernstein, thank you both for your
BERNSTEIN: Thank you.
WALSH: Thank you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Still ahead, breaking news in the Florida voter purge. The
Justice Department files a lawsuit to block that state`s illegal attack on
SHARPTON: Breaking news on voting. The Justice Department files a
lawsuit against the State of Florida for under the circumstances voter
purging. That`s next.
SHARPTON: We are back with breaking news. Late this afternoon, the
Justice Department filed this lawsuit. Saying that Florida`s voting purge
violates federal law. The Justice Department says, the purgeness is based
on, quote, "outdated and inaccurate data." The purge is resulting in,
quote, "Erroneously identified numerous registered voters in Florida who
are U.S. citizens." And potentially could be deprived of their right to
vote, including decorated combat veterans who served in the armed forces.
Today, Attorney General Eric Holder talked about the lawsuit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: We have done all that we can in
trying to reason with people in Florida through the provision of these
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The Attorney General has been strong in his defensive
voting rights. But today a republican senator actually claimed that was
one of the reasons holder should resign. We will talk about that outrage
with Congressman Elijah Cummings, democrat from Maryland, next.
SHARPTON: Today is an important day in the civil rights history of
this country. On June 12, 1963, civil rights activist Medgar Evers was
assassinated by a white supremacists to post to its fight against
segregation in the South. The killer went unpunished for three decades but
the -- to galvanize civil rights activists across the country. And on this
day in 1967, a loving Virginia, the Supreme Court struck down laws banning
interracial marriage. Finally declaring that couples like Mildred and
Richard Loving could marry. A great step forward for civil rights. But
today on Capitol Hill, we saw another scene altogether.
The nation`s first African-American Attorney General Eric Holder went
before a Senate panel and endured yet another series of disrespectful,
dishonest attack by republican lawmakers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: You won`t cooperate with the legitimate
Congressional investigation. And you won`t hold anyone, including
yourself, accountable. Your department blocks states from implementing
attempts to comeback voter fraud. You leave me no alternative but to join
those that call upon you to resign your office.
HOLDER: With all due respect, Senator, there`s so much factually
wrong with the premises that you started your statement with. You know, it
is almost breathtaking in its inaccuracies. So, I don`t have any intention
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: And next week, House Republicans will launch an effort to
hold the Attorney General in contempt of Congress.
Joining me now is democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings, ranking
member on the Oversight Committee where Republicans are attempting to hold
Attorney General in contempt. Earlier this year, he issued a report
debunking the GOP talking points on the so-called "Fast and Furious"
program. Congressman, thanks for joining me.
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: Good to be with you.
SHARPTON: What`s your response to these new republican calls for
Attorney General Holder`s resignation?
CUMMINGS: I think that basically what we have is a witch-hunt and
Reverend Al, it is clear that they are trying to ask -- asking the Attorney
General to turn over information that is either illegal to turn over or
information that would jeopardize witnesses, innocent people, innocent
informants, or would do harm to the prosecution of cases.
SHARPTON: No, let me stop you right there. Because I want people to
understand, the Justice Department`s cooperation on "Fast and Furious" has
already turned over 140,000 documents that have been reviewed. Seventy six
hundred pages turned over. Eight hearings before Congress. All of this
has already happened. You are talking about some of the sensitive things
that they are raising questions about. But it is not like they have not
cooperated and turned over a lot of things in this area.
CUMMINGS: Oh, they have cooperated tremendously. I mean, they have
gone through, I think, over a million e-mails and they have appeared, of
course the Attorney General has appeared before Congress nine times,
Reverend, in 16 months. And I think it is -- cooperation has been
tremendous. And not only that, he`s also said that he -- wants to sit down
and try to resolve issues over those sensitive documents. But I don`t
blame the Attorney General. If -- there are certain documents like a
wiretap affidavit where if he were to release it, it would be a criminal
violation. And he could go to jail for five years.
SHARPTON: Well, let me play what he said he is willing to sit down
and work with them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLDER: I am prepared to make a compromises with regard to the
documents that can be made available. I want to make it very clear that I
am offering to sit down, I myself, I`m offering to sit down with the
speaker, with the chairman, with you, whoever, to try to work our way
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, you are saying that some of the stuff is sensitive but
he says, I will sit down and work our way through it. But I also heard the
Senator attack him for dealing with voting rights. Saying they were trying
to deal with fraud. The Justice Department investigating whether there is
CUMMINGS: When I heard that, Reverend, I mean, that showed me that
what we have is an election year witch-hunt. Calling for the highest law
enforcement officer in the country to resign because he`s basically trying
to enforce the law.
SHARPTON: The voting rights act. This is an outrage.
CUMMINGS: Absolutely right. I hope the voters can see this and
understand what we are dealing with here. It has gotten -- I mean, it is
ridiculous. And it is indeed a witch-hunt and very unfair to this Attorney
SHARPTON: Well, I think it is very unfair. I think it is an outrage
to this country to say that as people have asked this government, this
administration, this Attorney General, to protect that their right to vote,
when you have war veterans being purged in Florida, when you have people
that have voted -- had people on this show, Congressman that voted for
decades, that now with voter ID laws, their vote is being taken away and
that could be used as point two of this, Senator, saying he wants the
Attorney General to resign, I think it is an outrage. I think it is
something that we all as Americans need to stand up and say wait a minute,
we are not going backwards and we are not going to allow this kind of
witch-hunt to go forward. Congressman Elijah Cummings, thanks for your
CUMMINGS: Thank you.
SHARPTON: And thank you for fighting against the contempt of Congress
business. Thank you, again, for being here.
CUMMINGS: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not
reproduce or redistribute the material except for user`s personal or
internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall
user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may
infringe upon MSNBC and ASC LLC`s copyright or other proprietary rights or
interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of