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PoliticsNation, Thursday, June 14, 2012

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Guest: Ryan Grim, Kirsten Gillibrand, John Lewis


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

Tonight`s lead, a defining moment. Today, President Obama went to
Ohio and delivered a major speech laying out his vision for the country,
his argument for fairness, his critique of Mitt Romney and the GOP, his
case for re-election. He made the case for the next five months until the
election before a ruckus crowd in Cleveland. He president presented the
choice facing the country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Governor Romney and his
allies in Congress believe deeply in the theory that we tried during the
last decade. The theory that the best way to grow the economy is from the
top down.

So, they maintain that if we eliminate most regulations, if we cut
taxes by trillions of dollars, if we strip down government to national
security and a few other basic functions, then the power of business is to
create jobs and prosperity will be unleashed and that will automatically
benefit us all. That`s what they believe.

If you agree with the approach I just described, if you want to give
the policies of the last decade another try, then you should vote for Mr.
Romney. I`ve got a different vision for America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The president`s vision is about fairness. It`s about
inclusion. It`s about reaching out to the people suffering in this
country. And pulling them up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: This has to be our north star. An economy that`s built not
from the top down but from a growing middle class.

I see a future where we pay down our deficit in a way that is
balanced. Not by placing the entire burden on the middle class and the
poor, but by cutting out programs we can`t afford and asking the wealthiest
of Americans to contribute their fair share.

Through government we should do together what we cannot do as well for
ourselves. That`s how we built this country. Together it`s this vision
that Democrats and Republicans used to share that Mr. Romney and the
current Republican Congress have rejected. In favor of a no holds barred
were government is the enemy, market is everything approach.

And it is this shared vision I intend to carry forward in this century
as president. Because it is a vision that has worked for the American
middle class and everybody who are striving to get into the middle class.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It`s about working together. It doesn`t matter if you`re
Democrat or Republican. The message is that we have to work as one. And
the president says it`s a message that will resonate around the world.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: This November, you can remind the world how a strong economy
is built. Not from the top down, but from a growing, thriving middle
class. This November you can remind the world how it is that we`ve
traveled this far as a country. Not by telling everybody to fend for
themselves. But by coming together as one American family all of us
pitching in, all of us pulling our own weight.

This November you can provide a mandate for the change we need right
now. You can move this nation forward and you can remind the world once
again why the United States of America is still the greatest nation on
earth. Thank you. God bless you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now is Jared Bernstein, MSNBC contributor and a
former chief economist for vice president Joe Biden, and Melissa Harris-
Perry, host of MSNBC`s "Melissa Harris-Perry."

Thank you both for being here tonight.

Melissa, what did this speech mean for the president`s campaign moving
forward?

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST, MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: Well, he went
to the number one issue that is going to define the campaign and he defined
his position there. And it was really, I think, what the president needed
to do more than any other thing. This is not to play defense on this issue
of the economy and sort of where our economic indicators are right now.
And he`s been in a bit of a defensive position since the so-called gaffe
about the private business. But we came out and in a clear way said there
are two visions. Here is mine. If you like that road, travel down it. We
know where that road ends. It ends on what happened in 2008 with the crash
of the economy. Or we can move down this road which is a vision of
collective efforts working together through government. But government
isn`t some other thing. Government is all of us. We are the government.
We are the people.

SHARPTON: Right. And Jared, he also kind of hit on the fact that,
you know, they keep saying well, has he done this has he done that. And
not deal with the fact they have tried to block him from the very night he
was inaugurated. And he really alluded to that kind of obstructionism
talking about the stalemate in Washington. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: What`s holding us back is a stalemate in Washington between
two fundamentally different views of which direction America should take.
And this election is your chance to break that stalemate. It`s the reason
the jobs bill that would put one million people back to work has been voted
down time and time again. It`s the biggest source of gridlock in
Washington today. And the only thing that can break the stalemate is you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, Jared, he also talked about his jobs act. He said
they will not -- they refused, his words he used, to accept the jobs act.
And Mark Sandy even said - Mark Sandy is the former McCain economist, said
it would boost the economic growth by two percent and two million jobs.
And reduce unemployment by a whole percentage point.

They will not move on this. We`re caught in the stalemate. President
challenged the crowd and voters today. Break the stalemate.

JARED BERNSTEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right. Exactly, Reverend. And,
you know, I heard some Republican operative complain about the speech. And
said, the president didn`t offer anything new. That`s nuts. That`s like
Lucy saying come on Charlie Brown, come kick the football.

What he offered was something much more fundamental. And you just
played the clip. He said if you want to get from here to there, if you
want to get an economy where the middle class has a fair shot where we
achieve fiscal stability through fairness, not a system where billionaires
pay a tax rate that`s half that of the middle class, you have to
fundamentally change the political system that`s dysfunctional. You have
to fundamentally change the political system that is blocking you. And the
only way we`re going to get there is to have precisely the debate we`re
having.

I thought the president laid out clearly, a vision in which he said
government is a thing we get together to do things we didn`t do for
ourselves. It is very much of we`re in this together versus that you`re on
your own. Here`s a fat tax cut, Mr. Rich guy and voucher go out, good
luck, middle class fend for yourself, as opposed to we`re in this together.
I think the contract is quite salient.

SHARPTON: Now Melissa, with the whole idea now of the moneys and the
super PAC. And because of the Supreme Court decision opening up unlimited
money almost in terms of the process, I was very struck when the president
warned that they`re going to come after him with ads that are going to be
negative. Let me show that particular statement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The other side will spend over a billion dollars on ads to
tell you the economy is bad, that it`s all my fault, that I can`t fix it
because I think government is always the answer or because I didn`t make a
lot of money in the private sector and don`t understand it, or because I`m
in over my head or because I think everything and everybody is doing just
fine.

That`s what the scary voice in the ads will say. That`s what Mr.
Romney will say. That`s what the Republicans in Congress will say. Well,
you know, that may be their plan to win the election, but it`s not a plan
to create jobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The scary voice in the ads. I mean, warning people what`s
coming after citizens united, they`re going to buy a lot of ads for them to
campaign and from these other groups. And he said but at the end, might
win an election, won`t win jobs. Is that the right tone and the right
warning to be giving?

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, if even more settle and beautiful as a leadership
strategy than that, what the president is talking about when he says you
have to break the gridlock in Washington.

SHARPTON: Right.

HARRIS-PERRY: That`s not putting President Obama back in the White
House. That certainly is that. But he`s also making a claim on the
Democratic majority in the House and Senate. A similar thing happens when
he makes the claim about the super PACs.

The fact is at the presidential level, we get so much information, so
much ads, we know this two candidates are. It`ll make a marginal
difference, but that`s going to be the key. But, in congressional races,
in Senate races, in gubernatorial races, these kinds of citizens` united
money could make an enormous difference.

SHARPTON: No question.

HARRIS-PERRY: Especially the scary voices. So, part of what he`s
doing here is laying out his decision. But the other part of what he is
doing is serving as party leader and saying, yes me, back in the White
House. But also you`ve got to give me people that I can work with in your
statehouses and in the Congress.

SHARPTON: And I think, Jared, that that`s going to be the question of
can he win and also his party, will otherwise, you may face the same
stalemate same gridlock. Who knows. But is it enough time to show some
promise, show some progress in the economy between now and November?

BERNSTEIN: There`s definitely enough time. I mean, there are lots of
economic, we call them head winds, issues out there that could make it
tougher for us to get momentum.

But here I think it`s important for the president to remind people as
he did today where things were and where they are now. It is absolutely
the case we`re not growing fast enough, but we`re growing. And, you know,
people say the American electorate have amnesia, they can`t remember. No.

People remember the Bush economy and people remember the nightmare of
the great recession just how cataclysmic I was. I mean, when I was working
for the administration in the beginning of the term back January of 2009,
we lost over two million jobs in the first three months of the year. Now
we`ve added back more than four million over the past 27 months. That`s
not fast enough, but it is growth. And the president`s policy, and some of
those of the Federal Reserve, their fingerprints are on that growth. And
it is really important for him to remind people.

SHARPTON: Melissa Harris-Perry and Jared Bernstein. Thank you both
for your time tonight.

And don`t forget. You can catch Melissa Harris-Perry weekends from
10:00 a.m. to noon right here on MSNBC.

Coming up, more on President Obama`s speech in Ohio today. He went
right after Romney`s policies and where we`ve seen this before.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: This is their vision. There is nothing new. Just what Bill
Clinton has called the same ideas they`ve tried before except on steroids.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The right wing machine is attacking attorney general Eric
Holder with a vision smear campaign designed to destroy him and undermine
justice in this country. It`s time for this to stop.

And he`s been beaten, bloodied and jailed, but he`s still here. And
guess what? He`s optimistic. He`s Congressman John Lewis, an American
hero. And he`s here to tell us why.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: President Obama laid out a clear choice for America. His
vision or a vision we`ve seen before. Why Romney is Bush on steroids.
Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: If you want to close the deficit left by the Bush tax cuts,
we`d have to make deeper cuts or raise middle class taxes even more. This
is not spin. This is not my opinion. These are facts. This is what
they`re presenting as their plan. This is their vision. There is nothing
new. Just what Bill Clinton has called the same ideas they`ve tried before
except on steroids.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: President Obama today hitting a familiar theme that the
Romney agenda is simply Bush on steroids. The president says Romney`s
agenda would recycle the same policies that led to the Bush recession. And
the American people do not want that.

Sixty eight percent of all Americans still blame President Bush for
the economy. That includes 49 percent of Republicans. Half of all
Republicans think the last Republican president is the blame for the
economy.

Despite all this, Romney has stacked his economic team with leftovers
from the Bush era. Including the key architect of the Bush tax cuts for
the rich. It all fits with Romney`s vision for the economy. He wants to
give massive breaks to corporations and the rich. But he opposes President
Obama`s support for more working class jobs like teachers and firefighters.

(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: In fact, the Ryan budget that Romney and virtually all
other Republicans endorse would give $265,000 in tax cuts to millionaires
like Willard himself. But middle class Americans like teachers and
firefighters would get just $750 tax cuts. Today the president said this
is not the right path forward for our economy. He said we need to give
teachers more help, not less.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: But look. If we want our country to be a magnet for middle
class jobs in the 21st century, we also have to invest more in education
and training. I want to recruit an army of new teachers. And pay teachers
better. And train more of them in areas like math and science.

I have a plan to give two million more Americans the chance to go to
community colleges just like this one and learn the skills that businesses
are looking for right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now is David Corn, Washington bureau chief and
MSNBC political analyst. And author of "showdown," and Ryan Grim,
Washington bureau chief for "the "Huffington Post."

Let me start with you, David. Did the president hit effective points
in his critique of Romney economics?

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think so. And as you,
Reverend, from talking about the book that I wrote, for the last year and a
half, the president has wanted to create this stark contrast between his
vision of government, governmental policy, and of the future basically in
terms of investments and tax cuts with whoever the Republican nominee was
going to be, he kind of bet big and he bet correctly that Republican
nominee would embrace and be able to be defined by the Ryan budget which
he, you know, has been blasting now for over a year in all its various
iteration.

So, I think he again and again has made the case that, you know, it`s
not just a matter of policy, but it really reflects a difference -- a
profound difference in vision on how people think about the country and its
government when you look at Romney and the Ryan budget versus what he
proposes in terms of not giving such big tax breaks to the rich and using
money to invest in infrastructure, education, research, all the things
we`ll be talking about for over a year. And he made that case again today.
I think he was affected in a professorial way.

And I think as we get closer to November, he is going have to wait -
he has got to find a way to put some more emotional punch to that speech.
And I just got to be election seminar which is very effective to a certain
extent. He has engaged, I think, at a more guttural level with Mitt Romney
when it comes to the vision war.

SHARPTON: Now, Ryan, if you hear them talking about Bush with
steroids, let`s look at the Bush legacy.

National debt up $4.9 trillion. Median income level down 4.2 percent.
People in poverty up 8.2 million. I mean, when you look at that legacy and
talk about we`ll get that on steroids, that`s kind of frightening to a lot
of people, don`t you think?

RYAN GRIM, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, HUFFINGTON POST: It is. And to
me the most offensive element of the extension of the Bush policies came
when he started talking about energy policy.

You know, we`re now 12 years removed from when Bush first took office.
And the science is just that more complete. That we`re headed on a course
that could be cataclysmic for the earth. And he`s saying today I love
natural gas. I love oil. He said he would drill the Keystone Pipeline
himself. And you don`t drill a pipeline, but whatever. And I`d love to
see Romney do that.

But he just wants doubles down. And it is offensive and it is cynical
because he, himself, in the past has recognized the dangers of climate
change. He has five sons. He has grandchildren. And just to have so
little regard for the future generations, you know, to not be even
interested it seems like in leaving a planet that is going to be as good as
the one he inherited, you know, doesn`t strike me as the kind, you know, of
family values he`s espousing, so.

And the idea that`s going to grow -- that that`s the problem, that we
don`t drill enough here? I don`t think that connects either.

SHARPTON: Now, David, in hearing Ryan say that, I was very struck by
the fact the president in this long, as you say, professorial type speech
today sought to define the race. What he stood for, what his opponent
stood for. What you get with his philosophy of what it is to govern as
opposed to his opponent. In fact, he talked about the Romney GOP agenda.
Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: So if they win the election, their agenda will be simple and
straightforward. They promised it out. They promised to roll back
regulations on banks and polluters, on insurance companies and oil
companies. They will rollback regulations design to protect consumers and
workers. They promise to not only keep all of the Bush tax cuts in place,
but add another $5 trillion in tax cuts on top of that.

Now, your next question may be how do you spend $5 trillion on a tax
cut and still bring down the deficit?

Well, they tell us they`ll start by cutting nearly a trillion dollars
from the part of our budget that includes everything from education and job
training to medical research and clean energy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, as he defines that, David, I think that clearly it
becomes a whole different kind of race that just sound bites back and
forth.

CORN: Well, this is what the president`s trying to do. He wants to
define the race as a choice between two sets of policies that have
tremendously different implications for the future of our nation. Have
different set of priorities, different sets of assumptions.

He wants voters to say hey, we have a choice here. We`re going to sit
down and make a rational decision between this path and that path. That`s
what he`d like to see voters do in November.

Mitt Romney wants voters to go to the polls just mad and venting at
the president. The economy isn`t as good as it should be. HE hasn`t done
as much as he should have. And I`m just going to vote the bum out. And
Romney`s there to take over.

So they`re each asking for a very different process to be completed by
voters by November. And that`s going to be the big part of the debate in
the campaign who can define what Election Day is really going to be about.

SHARPTON: Ryan, and as he attempts to define this, how important is
that and does it complicate the Republican side because you have some
governors and others in the Republican party that don`t want to go for this
doom and gloom Romney strategy.

GRIM: Sure. It`s the most important thing. Because David`s right,
if people go into the voting booth and it`s a straight referendum on how
they`re feeling about the direction of the economy and the direction of the
country, then it`s not going to turn out well for the president. Not with
unemployment at the rate it is.

If they go in and say OK, I`m not happy with the way the country`s
going. I`m angry about where we are, but I don`t think this guy`s going to
make it better. And they stick with Obama, that`s really his only path to
victory in an economy like this.

SHARPTON: David Corn and Ryan Grim. Thanks for your time tonight.

CORN: Sure thing.

SHARPTON: Ahead, Republicans love to talk about their faith. But
then wage war on the poor. You can`t do both. Senator Gillibrand joins me
live to respond.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back on POLITICS NATION with new developments in the
GOP`s crusade against Attorney General Eric Holder. In the so-called "Fast
and Furious," gun walking program. Today, Holder sent a letter to the
politician who`s done most to stir up this story. Republican Congressman
Darrell Issa. Asking for a meeting by Monday to talk about it saying he`s
prepared to turn over more documents about the case. This is in addition
to the thousands of pages Holder has already turned over. If Republicans
were really interested in "Fast and Furious" investigations, they would be
more concerned with how the so-called gun walking program actually began.

Under President Bush and his Attorney General Michael Mukasey. The
Bush administration agents let low level crooks buy guns, smother them into
Mexico. In hope, they`re tracking them big leaders of the drug cartels.
In 2006, 450 guns were bought and smuggled into Mexico. In 2007, there
were more than 200 guns. And in 2008, more than 100 guns. The program
continued under the Obama administration. Under the name "Fast and
Furious." But it was the tragic death of border patrol agent Brian Terry
in December of 2010 that sparked an investigation. It began as a normal
Capitol Hill inquiry. But the right wing attack machine quickly poured gas
on the flames. Rush Limbaugh said the whole thing was an attack on gun
rights.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The real reason for operation
gun runner or "Fast and Furious," whatever they want to call it now, the
purpose of this was so that Obama and the rest of the Democrats can scream
bloody murder about the lack of gun control in the U.S. which is causing
all the murders in Mexico. This was a setup from the get go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Anchors and pundits at FOX News went even further.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Is this treason? What`s the definition?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Well, I think we`re trying to get all the facts on
this, bill, to make sure that we have the details to go forward. But I
think it`s very obvious that the Attorney General needs to resign.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Is it incompetence or is there something sinister
going on at justice?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: There`s something sinister going on.

KATIE PAVLICH, AUTHOR, "FAST AND FURIOUS": The political agenda
behind this entire thing was to blame American gun shops for cartel
violence in America in order to push an anti-second amendment, more
regulations on these gunshots.

JUDSON PHILLIPS, TEA PARTY NATION FOUNDER: This was purely a
political operation. You send the guns down to Mexico. Therefore you
support the political narrative that the Obama administration wanted
supported. That all these American guns are flooding Mexico, they`re the
cause of the violence in Mexico. And therefore, we need draconian gun
control laws here in America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It`s gotten so low that republican senators now just make
personal insults about the Attorney General.

LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO HOST: Do you think he`s smart? Holder?

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: I have not been impressed with his
intelligence, no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Questioning the intelligence of the Attorney General.
That`s absurd and is over the line. Last year, Attorney General Holder
talked to "The New York Times" about what he thought was really behind the
attacks. He said quote, "this is a way to get at the president." Because
of the way I can be identified with him, both due to the nature of our
relationship and the fact that we`re both African-American." The right
wing is determined to bring down this nation`s top law enforcement
official. But we`re not going to let it happen.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: Treating others as you want to
be treated, requiring much from those who`ve been given so much, living by
the principle that we are our brother`s keeper caring for the poor and
those in need.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That was President Obama back in February talking about
what faith means to him. Caring for the poor. Being your brother`s
keeper. Makes sense, right? Well apparently not to the right. Look at
this website. It`s promoting a petition to stop Obama`s war on religion.
Here`s what`s interesting. It`s being run by the Christian conservative
faith & freedom coalition. President Obama, apparently he hates religion.
But Republicans, they love it. Just listen to the speakers at today`s
faith & freedom conference.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: There are a lot of people of faith who pray every
day.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We`ve also relied on something else as a country.
And that`s prayer and faith.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: As Americans, our freedoms are deeply engrained in
our faith.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The GOP loves to flaunt religion, but their actions don`t
match their words. Paul Ryan says, Catholicism guided his budget. A
budget that cuts trillions from low income programs. And yesterday during
a debate on the farm bill, Senator Jeff Sessions argued against food
stamps. Why? Because of morality.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: It`s a moral issue. Is it our
natural goal to place as many people on welfare and food stamp support as
we can possibly put on that program? Is that our goal? Is that a moral
vision for the United States of America? Just to see how many people we
can place in a situation where they`re dependent on the federal government
for their food?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Religion is important. Religion is powerful. But how do
you wrap yourself in it and then attack the poorest among us?

Joining me now is Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, democrat from New York.
She`s been leading the fight in the Senate against food stamp cuts. She`s
looking to offer an amendment to the farm bill that would restore $4.5
billion in aid for the hungry. Senator, thank you very much for joining us
this evening.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: Thank you, Reverend. And
thank you for shining such an important light on this issue. I find this
debate to be fascinating. Just as you led in with this focus on religion,
there`s no one who knows the bible better than you. But we know Matthew
25, the first question Christ asks on judgment day, is did you feed the
poor? It`s the first question.

SHARPTON: That`s right.

GILLIBRAND: And so, I think you`re quite right that this -- it`s
unacceptable that we have republican advocates who are saying that immoral
to support food stamps. And to be clear, we`re not adding to food stamps.
We`re just trying to restore the $4.5 billion of cuts that have been made.
And, you know, in real terms Reverend, what this means is it`s $90 a month
less food going into the mouths of our children, and our families, our
seniors, and our veterans. This is basically, it`s the last week of the
month that a family is not getting money to feed their kids. And we have
to do better.

SHARPTON: And let me say this, Senator. I do not believe in
theocracy. I`m a firm believer in my faith. But I don`t think we ought to
use it to govern. But I do think if you`re going to quote and use faith,
you ought to at least reflect what you`re quoting. But let me ask you.
You talked about what the impact of these cuts mean. Why do you think
you`re getting so much pushback against your amendment to restore this
money?

GILLIBRAND: Well, as you know, Reverend, Washington`s broken. And
anything worth fighting for is not easy here. But so far, we do have some
support. We`ve got 14 bipartisan co-sponsors. And we`re beginning to get
momentum around this amendment. I think, you know, unfortunately for the
most poor and needy and at risk among us, they don`t have the big special
interests lobbying groups that seem to give sway often in debates here.
So, what we want to do is restored these cuts, we want to make sure our
kids are not going hungry at night. I`m worried about our seniors. About
17 percent of our seniors are actually on food stamps. And these are food
stamps that they`re receiving now that they`re trying to take away in a
tough economy when it`s difficult for families to make ends meet. And I`m
particularly worried about our vets. Veterans are now using food stamps on
a greater level than before. And it`s not the time to take food away from
hungry families.

SHARPTON: You know, the average assistance that a person receives
from food stamps is incredibly small. I mean, people act like people are
getting rich off it. You`re talking about $130 monthly benefit. A dollar
fifty cents a meal. If you cut that little amount, you`re talking about
crippling people. And Senator Jeff Sessions actually mocked your effort to
save cuts from food stamps. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SESSIONS: The junior senator of New York proposes to increase food
stamp spending even more than the current growth that we`ve seen
explaining, quote, "Food stamps are an extraordinary investment because
every dollar that you put into this snap program, food stamp program, you
get out $1.71." Under this reasoning, we ought to just increase the food
stamp program ten times. Why not? Why don`t we just pay for your clothes?
Pay for your shoes. Pay for your housing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: We`re talking about $1.50 cents a meal. And I mean, this
is outrageous.

GILLIBRAND: Well, the Senator`s wrong on a couple of measures.
First, we`re not adding to the program. We`re just keeping it where it is.
We`re trying to restore cuts that have already been made. And second, if
he doesn`t understand what a return on investment means, maybe we can spend
time explaining it to him. But it has an economic impact. Economists like
Mark Zandi (ph) have said, when you put a dollar into food stamps, it has
the economic impact of $1.71. So, this is not a program, that`s right for
fraud, there`s less than one percent of fraud in food stamps. That`s a
penny on every dollar. This is money that`s literally going to feed
children. And I don`t know if he`s ever heard a young child say to him,
I`m still hungry. But I can tell you, any mother who hears those words and
it`s not able to give her child some food is unacceptable. Unacceptable in
a country as rich as ours to not be able to provide those families with the
food they need.

SHARPTON: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, thanks as always for your time.
And thank you for the fight you`re waging.

GILLIBRAND: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, he`s been beaten near to death for fighting for
civil rights. And today he`s hopeful for a brighter future. It`s an honor
to be joined by Congressman John Lewis. Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Folks, I want to address a controversy going on with the
very popular and graphic HBO show "Game of Thrones." In an episode last
season, President George W. Bush`s head appeared in a couple of beheading
scenes. They used a prop that looked like Bush`s head mounted on a stick.
Just came to light because the show`s creators pointed it out in a DVD
commentary. HBO issued an apology saying, quote, "We were deeply dismayed
to see this and find it unacceptable, disrespectful, and in very bad taste.
We are sorry this happened and will have it removed from any future DVD
production." Yes, they`re right. This is wrong. This is callous. This
is not only disrespectful to the office that Mr. Bush held, it`s
disrespectful to any human being to be projected in any way, shape, or form
like that. We must be consistent. We can disagree without being ugly.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. Out of our darkest days
in our great country came inspiring leaders. Like Georgia Congressman John
Lewis. A man in the forefront in the struggle for civil rights. He was
attacked and almost beaten to death marching for voting rights in 1965. It
was a turning point for civil rights in America. He was trying to close
the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Alabama and he stayed true to the movement.
After more than 50 years on the front lines, this courageous foot soldier
for fairness is still fighting for justice. His new book is called "Across
that Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change." In it he lays out for
a new generation the lessons of an incredible journey.

Joining me now, civil rights icon, founding member of the Student
Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Georgia democrat Congressman John Lewis.
Congressman Lewis, it`s an honor to have you with us here tonight.

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: Well, thank you very much, Al. I`m
delighted and very happy and very pleased to be with you tonight.

SHARPTON: One of the things that you want to cross that bridge in
1965 for was voting rights. And now we see with the voter ID laws and
other methods and Florida purging voters that they`re trying to chip away
and you`ve instructed those of us younger to keep fighting on this. I saw
where Senator John Cornyn attacked the Attorney General Holder and said he
ought to resign not only for the "Fast and Furious" investigation, but he
actually stated that he wanted his resignation in part of because of what
he was doing around the voting ID laws in his words, stopping them for
finding fraud. Let me show you what Senator Cornyn said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CORNYN: 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 combat voter
fraud. You leave me no alternative but to join those that call upon you to
resign your office.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, the senator said blocking fraud, but we can`t even
find fraud. You from the floor of the House all the way around this
country have raised questions about this claim of voter fraud. How do you
react to Senator Cornyn?

LEWIS: I`m surprised and really dismayed that a senator, any member
of Congress, but a senator from Texas of all places. Texas was one of the
11 southern states from Virginia to Texas that tries to prevent and keep
people from participating in the democratic process. The voting rights act
of 1965 wanted to make it simple and convenient for all of our citizens to
become participants. And I`m sick. I`ll tell you, Al. I`m sick and tired
of people lecturing to us, those that were never ever denied the right to
register to vote. Those who never, ever had to pass a so-called literacy
test or (INAUDIBLE) the number of jelly beans in a jar. To tell us that we
don`t know what we`re talking about. If the state government around our
country fails to do what is right and just, it is the responsibility of the
federal government, for the Attorney General to enforce, dispirit -- of the
voting right acts as 1965. There`s no such thing as wholesale fraud taking
place in America. Voter fraud.

SHARPTON: Congressman, your book is very, very inspiring. I want to
read you a quote from the final chapter that really kind of summed up your
vision for future activists. You said, we can be way showers, light
bearers and mentors of the light who encourage others to flourish, create,
manifest and glow. As each person turns on the illumination of the spirit
revealing gifts talents and visions for the future we can blend our majesty
in a glorious concert of communion. I mean, those are beautiful words.
The reason you wrote this book was, what is the purpose you hope people
walk away from this book having fulfilled?

LEWIS: Well, it is my hope and my prayer that when people read this
book, they will be inspired. They will come together and move together the
same way we did during the `60s. With faith, with hope, with love, peach,
and non-violence. To create a non-violent revolution. A revolution of
ideas, a revolution of values. Where people will be able to say, this is
what we need, this is what we want, and this is what we`re going to get in
a democratic society.

SHARPTON: Well, really, I have always admired and respected you. I
hope that those of us that come behind you can somehow internalize
somewhere the optimism and discipline and strength you have shown. And
maybe if we all read this book, we could get a little closer to being the
example you`ve set. Congressman Lewis, the book is, "Across That Bridge."
It`s an inspiration. We always appreciate having you here. And thank you
for your time tonight.

LEWIS: Well, thank you very much, Al.

SHARPTON: We`re celebrating two big birthdays today. Or are we?
I`ll explain this one, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Today, may be a very important day in this nation`s
history. Or maybe not. It was on this date in 1900 that Hawaii was
organized into a U.S. territory. Making all residents U.S. citizens. And
who is one of Hawaii`s most famous sons? President Obama, of course. He
hails from the Aloha State. So, it`s pretty incredible that on the same
day as this anniversary, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio still claims the
President wasn`t born here. He`s sending his cold case posse to Hawaii to
investigate the President`s birth certificate. But how`s this for a twist?
It`s the sheriff`s birthday. Yes, that`s right. Sheriff Arpaio is 80
today. The same day Hawaii was organized into U.S. territory. Happy
birthday, Joe. But there`s also the other birther king. Don`t forget
Donald Trump. And I`m not making this up. It is also Donald Trump`s
birthday today. The same day, Hawaii was organized into a U.S. territory.
More confetti. Happy Birthday, Donald. How ironic is this? Two birthday
kings born on the same day. And all the time they`re still saying stuff
like this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: My investigators believe that the long form birth
certificate was manufactured electronically.

DONALD TRUMP, ENTREPRENEUR: Perhaps it`s going to say Hawaii.
Perhaps it`s going to say Kenya.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So, I guess you could call it birther day today. Or can
you? We`ve never actually seen their long form birth certificates. We
might have to send our POLITICS NATION posse out to get to the bottom of
this. But maybe next year gentleman, I`ll throw a birthday party for both
of you. Let`s have a combined birthday for the sheriff in Arizona and the
billionaire in Manhattan. Why don`t we do it together? Why don`t we do it
in Hawaii?

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.
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