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PoliticsNation, Tuesday, July 17, 2012

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Guests: Ryan Grim, Richard Wolffe, Ed Rendell, Peter Boyer

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

Tonight`s lead, an orchestrated smear. Today Willard Mitt Romney`s
campaign began an ugly coordinated assault on President Obama. They are
trying to change the subject from Mitt Romney`s financial secrets. One of
the campaign`s top surrogates, former New Hampshire governor John Sununu,
spearheaded the attack on a conference call with reporters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

The president clearly demonstrated that he has absolutely month idea
how the American economy functions. The men and women all over America who
have worked hard to build these businesses and their businesses, from the
ground up is how our economy became the envy of the world p it is the
American way. And I wish that this president would learn how to be an
American.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I wish this president would learn how to be an American.
Why would he have to learn? A few minutes later on a call in response to a
reporter`s question, Sununu clarified his remarks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUNUNU: What I thought I said, but I guess I didn`t say, is that the
president has to learn the American formula for creating business. The
American formula for creating business is not to have the government create
business. If I didn`t give all that detail, I apologize.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: An apology? Not for calling the president un-American but
for not giving details. OK, it was a mistake, a slip of the tongue, an
accident, right? Not so fast. Just a few minutes before that conference
call, John Sununu is speaking for Mitt Romney went on FOX News and said
this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUNUNU: He has no idea how the American system functions and we
shouldn`t be surprised about that. Because he spent house early years in
Hawaii smoking something, spent the next set of years in Indonesia, and
another set of years in Indonesia and, frankly, when he came to the U.S.,
he worked as a community organizer which is a socialized structure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The president, our president, has no idea how the American
system functions. Yes, except he`s in charge of it. But there`s more.
Sununu went after the president hours before that in a little noticed radio
interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUNUNU: He does not understand America. It`s not just that he
doesn`t understand the private sector. He doesn`t understand America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: President Obama doesn`t understand America. So three times
today, John Sununu went after the president of the United States for not
understanding America. Is it any doubt that this is a planned strategy by
the Romney campaign?

Listen to what the candidate himself said today at rally in
Pennsylvania.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Obama attacks
success and, therefore, under President Obama we have less success and I
will change that.

Encouraging entrepreneur, celebrating success instead of attacking it
and makes America strong. That`s the right course for this country. His
cost is extraordinarily foreign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: His cost is extraordinarily foreign. Now these attacks
aren`t coming out of nowhere. This agenda was set by Rush Limbaugh
yesterday when he said the president, quote, "hates this country." Today
is the GOP`s new talking point. And Rush admits the connection.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: So I think Sununu has been
appointed with the task of going out and performing the duties that I am
suggesting need to happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The Romney campaign performs the duties that Rush says
needs to happen. This is ugly politics. But the American people won`t be
fooled. They know what our president really stands for. And what he
really says about this country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will not be going
backwards. We will be going forwards. We will win this election. And we
will remind the world just why it is that the United States of America is
the greatest nation on earth. God bless you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now is Steve Kornacki, co-host of "the cycle"
here on MSNBC, and Joan Walsh, editor-at-large with salon.com and MSNBC
political analyst.

First let me thank you both for being here.

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: Sure.

JOAN WALSH, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, SALON.COM: Thank you, Reverend Al.

SHARPTON: Steve, this what the Romney camp does when it is in
trouble, take orders from Rush Limbaugh, and suggest the president of the
United States is not American?

KORNACKI: Yes. I think -- I think there are would points this are
illustrated by this. One is, we have seen this before during the campaign,
is the extent to which Romney really is kind of beholden. It`s broadly
speaking to sort of the Republican Party base. His credentials as a
conservative have been suspect from time he got into this race, he is
somebody who really doesn`t have much flexibility, much power to sort of be
himself and whatever that means as a candidate. He really has to cater to
the conservative base and give it what interest wants, whether that`s
rhetorical, whether that`s in terms of ideology and policy positions.
That`s something we have seen consistently.

The other thing that goes hand in hand with that, I think, is because
there`s so much suspicion about his credentials as a conservative among the
Republican Party base among the conservative base, there isn`t much
enthusiasm for Mitt Romney. What there is dash on the Republican base is
lot of resentment and resistance towards President Obama. What you see --
you want to get those people out to the polls. You are not going to tell
them to vote for Mitt Romney. Go vote against the socialist president.

SHARPTON: And Joan, the reason is it seems so coordinated, yesterday
Rush Limbaugh said President Obama hates America. You know, is the Romney
campaign taking the cue from Rush?

Listen to what Rush said yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIMBAUGH: I think that it can now be said without equivocation,
without equivocation, this man hates this country. This is what we have.
As a president, a radical ideology, ruthless politician who despises
December ices the country, and the way it was founded and the way in which
it became great.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, that was yesterday. Today I played in your intro
where he took credit for what Sununu said three times today. All three
were today.

WALSH: Right.

SHARPTON: Then you have the candidate himself talking about foreign.
So this is a concerted effort to either energize their base, as the
president is other than us, un-American, and to turn the page on the lack
of transparency from Mr. Willard Romney.

WALSH: Well, that in particular, Reverend Al. I mean, this has been
a terrible week for Mitt Romney. I think if he loses in November we are
going to look back and we are going to say this is the week he lost. He`s
being hit, Republicans are asking him to show his taxes. We have got this
Bain debate that he really started. He is the one that said I`m not part
of the outsourcing stuff. I left it in February of 1999 and forced
reporters to look at. Well, when did he leave and find all these
discrepancies.

So, this is the backdrop against which the horrible attacks come that
this man is desperate, as Steve said, base t base never liked him. And we
have sort of fast forwarded through the potentially inspiring part of the
campaign to get to the very end of the 2008 campaign when Sarah Palin
started her stuff about he`s palling around with terrorists, and he`s
foreign, he is not like us. He doesn`t love the America we love.

So, they skipped the whole we love Mitt Romney part and have gone
straight to we hate this extraordinarily foreign president. And it is ugly
and it is going to stay ugly until November.

SHARPTON: Now, and -- and, Steve, there`s some irony this concerted
effort because let`s look at the person who is speaking. John Sununu. He
was born in Cuba. He was the chief of staff of the first President Bush.
He spent $600,000 on a personal trip and trips and political junkets. Took
a government limo from D.C. to a rare stamp auction in New York and was
forced to resign in 1991. This is the guy talking about the president of
the, you know how the government works.

KORNACKI: Yes. And there`s something else that find interesting
about Sununu is this. He was the governor of New Hampshire from 1982 to
1988. He was the White House chief of staff from 1989 to `91. He really
has not been in politics since then. That is more than two decades. We
are talking 21 years now.

SHARPTON: Right.

KORNACKI: The guy is on his `70s. He really is from a different era
in politics. And yet, this is the guy the Romney campaign, he is one of
their top surrogate, one of his top public faces this year. And it strikes
me that -- that happened because of what I`m talking about where there`s
such little enthusiasm for Romney within the Republican Party. There were
so few people willing on speak up and vouch for him in the Republican
primaries that this guy, you know, sort of a holdover from two decades ago,
became his top surrogate and still is.

SHARPTON: And then when you go - this goes right along, because I
want you to understand I`m feeling -- I really feel this is a concerted
effort because here again, you have Romney repeated a favorite attack of
his own President Obama that he has apologized for America.

Watch this, Joan.

WALSH: Yes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: It is time for us to have a president that will not apologize
for success at home and will never apologize for America overseas.

Never again apologize for America abroad. And never again apologize
for America abroad.

I will never apologize for American greatness abroad. We will never
again apologize for America abroad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Apologize for America abroad. I don`t know what he did
there, un-American. I mean, Joan, what is the politics of this?

WALSH: He has never apologized for America abroad, domestically ever,
Reverend Al. And we all know that. And all reporters have to say that,
every single time he makes that allegation. But I think we know what the
charge is. There is a segment of the population that doesn`t like the
president, doesn`t trust him, has bought into this idea he is foreign, that
he not one of us. Some of it is skin color, some of it is eye. I don`t
know what it is. But clearly, some of it is race.

And he is basically going to be attacked this way for the rest of the
campaign because it is all they have. I think there`s something like 58
percent of Romney voters say they are voting against President Obama rather
than for Mitt Romney. It is -- I think it is exactly the opposite or close
to the opposite of when you are asked about President Obama where people
really support him. So, that is all they have and this is what they are
stuck with.

SHARPTON: Now Steve, in -- this is the candidate and direct
surrogates. Then when you get to others now that -- and the more extreme
right, there is a new cartoon making the rounds of right wing blogs showing
-- watch this, the president stabbing Uncle Sam in the back. This is what
they are floating around today on some of the right-wing blogs. And look
at this cartoon they are going around. At the same time you have right
wing radio host Michael Savidge calling the president evil.

KORNACKI: Yes.

SHARPTON: So, I think that there`s -- there`s this extreme - they are
caught with things that they can`t answer. They are -- can`t turn the page
so let`s get ugly. Let`s make him un-American. Let`s paint him as
everything but American so people -- I mean, it is not the president that
has done any of this. It is Romney who won`t answer the questions.

KORNACKI: Well yes. And I think, you know, you would like to think -
- the -- what you are showing there with the cartoon, that`s has been
constant for Obama`s presidency from the right. We have seen this sort of
reaction, resentment of him, really, from the moment he became president.
You would like to think a presidential candidate like Romney would make
sort of a bold stand and really repudiate and disavow that stuff and say I
don`t want to be associated with this in any way. But again, it gets back
to what we are talking about.

This is a significant portion of Mitt Romney`s sport comes from people
that have these very strong feelings of resentment towards Obama. He is
aware of that. It`s not match by passion for Romney and he is afraid to
stand up to.

SHARPTON: Well, Steve Kornacki, Joan Walsh, thank you so much for
your time.

Be sure to catch Steve and the gang on "the Cycle" every day at 3:00
p.m. right here on MSNBC.

Coming up, the calls for Mitt Romney to release his tax returns are
getting louder from his own party. A major Republicans play just went on
the record.

Plus, Republicans in Congress are in trouble. So you won`t believe
who they are turning to, Mr. 13 percent, Dick Cheney. You can`t make this
stuff up.

And call it a personal foul, President Obama drops the ball on the
kiss cam and hears it from the crowd.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama on the ever popular arena in-house
arena kiss cam.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He blew it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But he came back strong in the second half. We will show
you how this one ended.

You are watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Today, everyone seems to have an opinion on John Sununu saying he
wished the president would learn how to be an American.

Devora says quote, "that was rude. I would love to hear what they say
in a quiet room."

But Deondre says Sununu is a comedian. Quote, "where can I buy a
ticket to his show?"

And the other big talker was the president and the first lady`s kiss
cam moment.

Jamie says they looked sweet. Just like ordinary people.

And Carlos says it is great to see a couple who loves, this is real
family values.

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.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: If Mitt Romney thought making personal attacks on the
president would change the subject from the secrets of his tax returns,
he`s out of luck. Because the calls are only getting louder and it is his
own party doing the shouting.

Ron Paul is the latest to urge Romney to release his returns. And did
I mention all of these guys, too?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The costs of not releasing the returns are clear.
Therefore, he must have calculated there are higher costs --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was asked today that question, do you think that
Governor Romney should release his tax returns and I said I do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s obviously something there because if there
was nothing there, he would say have at it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He should release the tax returns tomorrow. It is
crazy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Mr. Kristol, it is crazy. And that`s the exact point the Obama
campaign makes in a new ad airing today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over the last two years, he has paid less than 15
percent in taxes on $43 million in income. Makes you wonder if some years
he paid any taxes at all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It certain makes me wonder. But Mr. Romney isn`t budging.
He tells the national review, quote, "I`m simply not enthusiastic about
giving the Obama campaign hundreds or thousands of more pages to pick
through, distort and lie about."

I don`t think Mr. Romney is worried about lies. I think he`s worried
about the truth in those documents. But the fact of the matter is who
needs his returns? After all, he has given us plenty of material himself.

At his fund-raiser yesterday where the tickets went up to $50,000,
Romney said, quote, "it`s tough being middle class in America right now.
The waiters and waitresses that come in and out of this room and offer us
refreshments, they are not having a good year."

Yes, governor, it is tough. But you are not providing real solutions
to help them.

Joining me now is Ezra Klein of "Washington Post" columnist and MSNBC
political analyst and Ryan Grim, Washington bureau of chief for the
"Huffington Post."

Thank you for being here.

EZRA KLEIN, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Thanks for having us.

SHARPTON: Ezra, why are the tax returns so threatening to Romney?

KLEIN: We don`t know. We don`t know until we get to 2009. What you
heard in the Obama campaign out there and something a lot of people have
begun talking about, is there`s some possibility that either in 2008 or
2009, Mitt Romney did not pay any effective federal taxes at all that he
had such heavy losses due to the financial crisis, you know, wiped out his
tax liability.

I asked a bunch of tax experts about that and said they don`t think
that is very likely because he has got a certain amount of income that
doesn`t get wiped out by loses. But it is entirely plausible, he paid one,
two, three, four, five percent or even just seven percent, a number that is
low enough that`s very problematic.

And the second, because it also plausible, is that he some level of
sheltering that when you actually put it down on paper, when you explain
what it is to people, it is just going to be deeply embarrassing and
problematic for his campaign.

And so, with all of that there, I do think the underlying question
here is why knowing he was going to run for president again and after he
turned in 26 years of taxes with John McCain so he knew taxes were an
issue, why did he not clean these up in 2008? Why was this, a problem at
all?

SHARPTON: Well Ryan, when he turned in all of these pages to the
McCain campaign, the top strategists for McCain, John Smith told the
"Huffington Post," that the tax returns were not what kept Romney from
being VP in 2008. He said, quote, "we never sat around having a discussion
about Mitt Romney`s taxes but wealth was an issue." He says, quote, "we
knew it would be a big liability that the presidential and vice
presidential candidates together own more than a dozen homes. It was
something like out of "Saturday night live" or "Saturday night live" skit.

But meanwhile, when talk of the vice presidential choices, reaching
fever pitch, I wonder, Ryan, is the Mr. Romney going to ask his vice
presidential candidate to give him his tax returns?

RYAN GRIM, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, HUFFINGTON POST: Well, "the New
York Times" reported that he is, in fact, asking for a tax returns from the
people that he`s vetting for vice president. And that`s the exact same
thing that he and the Senate will do of anybody that he wants to name to
any significant cabinet position, even significant -- insignificant cabinet
positions that have to go through the Senate. So, you know, there`s
certainly a lot bunch of different standards.

SHARPTON: But, wait a minute, Ryan. I don`t want to go through that
too quickly. He will not release his to the public but he`s asking for the
tax returns of those that he`s considering to be a vice presidential
candidate. So he`s asking for what he will not give the public.

GRIM: Right. There are a ton of things we don`t know here. And the
one thing that we don`t know is how many years of tax returns he`s asking
from his vice president at prospects. We can assume it is a lot of years
because, you know, anybody that will do a significant vet of somebody is
going want to see a lot of the number - a lot of the years, so. But until
he`s more forthright about what he`s asking for and what he is willing to
give, you know, we are all feeling in the dark here.

SHARPTON: Now Ezra, you mentioned his offshore accounts. And Romney
gave pretty weak defense about his offshore accounts today. He told the
national review, quote, "well, first of all, all of my investments are
managed in a blind trust by virtue that the decisions made by the trustee
are the decisions that determined where the investments are." And of
course, we already know one of the investments went to his son. I mean,
there are some pretty interesting investments that this trustee made that
just happens to be very close to Mr. Romney.

KLEIN: I think the underlying issue here for Romney is he looks at
this issue. He looks at these questions people are lobbying at him and he
says, I did nothing wrong here. I did nothing illegal. I did what all of
my friends did. I put my assets into a blind trust. I stayed within the
letter of the law. Nobody is saying I`m -- should go to jail over it. I
did nothing wrong.

And what -- I think a lot of voters are looking at and lot of people
looking at this issue are saying the rules you play by are not the rules
that normal people play by. And so, he`s sort of fitting into this larger
discussion going on to America and think about the rules the very rich end
up playing by this help them remain rich and help top the one percent pull
so far away from everyone else in recent years and it is not that these
things are illegal and not that they are even necessarily morally wrong.

We set up the tax code and my Romney`s accountants are paid to do a
job protecting his money from the tax code. That`s not crazy, but Mitt
Romney has become in a walking-talking embodiment of the set of advantages
that accrue to the top one percent.

And then, when you are adding his falsie platform, which is very large
tax cuts for the rich, paid for by very large cuts to social spending on
the poor, you have a double problem because it seems like he wants to make
the rules even more bias in favor of him and folks like him who have the
accountants figure out how to get your money offshore in order to get you
the best deal from the tax man.

SHARPTON: Yes. Well, it is like last night saying that the waiters
and waitresses that were serving his people -- people give up to $50,000,
are having a rough year. So in order to help them out he wants to give a
tax cuts to the guys that can write the $50,000 check and taxes hike up for
the waitresses and waiters or at least they don`t get a tax cut.

But Ryan, you have some interesting new details about the timeline of
Romney`s departure from Bain. Tell us about it.

GRIM: Right. This is another area where we have -- kind of been
feeling around in the dark because Romney won`t really release any
significant details about what specifically he did with Bain Capital
between 1999 and the end of 2002 when he was elected governor of
Massachusetts.

But, you know, he said that he retroactively retired and had nothing
to do with them in any way after February of 1999. But just a huge stack
of evidence has emerged that that is simply false. We have him testifying
in June 2002 that he was attending board meetings for companies affiliated
with Bain. We have six of his -- six documents with his signature and then
he filed with the sec.

And now Reverend, you remember had is 2001, 2002 when everybody was
thinking about Enron. No CEO at that time was signing any documents and
filing them with the SEC that he was than certain were accurate. So, you
know, the idea this he would just hey, here is an SEC document, quick sign
this and fax it back, that`s insane.


SHARPTON: In the middle of Enron, very good point.

KLEIN: in the Middle on Enron. That`s insane. So, either that he`s
crazy and reckless or, you know, he spent a lot of time going over the
documents like any other responsible CEO would do.

They were talking about real jail time for people and real fines for
people who signed documents that turned out to be false. And so, you know,
CEOs have come forward and said yes, especially during the Enron time.

I was making all of my employees who worked on those documents attest
to their accuracy, their validity. And it is just unfathomable it would
come to him and he would just dash off his signature and then go back to
organizing the Olympics.

SHARPTON: Very interesting. Well, I`m going to have to leave it
there. But, we will certainly going to keep watching this.

Ryan Grim and Ezra Klein, thank you for coming on the show tonight.

GRIM: Thank you.

KLEIN: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, Dick Cheney heads to Capitol Hill and picks a
fight over defense cuts. Only problem is Republicans voted for them.
Amazing.

Plus, does Willard Mitt Romney have a Sarah Palin problem? She has
been a thorn in his side from day one. Now, we are learning about a
possible convention snub. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We are back with a big homecoming on Capitol Hill.
Congress has a record low approval. And they needed a little guidance. So
today, they called in their white knight, their savior, their hero. A man
to fire up the base with big ideas, big solutions. They called in Dick
Cheney. That`s right.

The former vice president and accidental shooter went to Capitol Hill
today for a little republican pep talk. Meeting with House GOP leaders and
going to a Senate lunch. But let`s take a trip down memory lane, shall we?
Cheney helped turn a $236 billion surplus into an over $1 trillion deficit.
He watched the unemployment rate grow more than 3.5 percent. He has no
regrets about waterboarding. He left office with a 13 percent approval
rating.

Yet, this is who Republicans are calling in to rally the troops. And
he`s fighting today against defense cuts set to go into effect in January.
Saying they are unacceptable but how about this one? The Republicans voted
for these cuts. Hundred seventy four House Republicans voted for last
year`s budget deal. Amazing. You really can`t make this up.

Joining me now is former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell. Now an NBC
news political analyst. And Richard Wolffe, MSNBC political analyst. And
author of "Revival: The Struggle of Survival Inside the Obama White House."
Thank you both for being here tonight.

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Thanks, Reverend.

FMR. GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Governor Rendell, they are looking for leadership from Dick
Cheney? I mean, what`s the strategy here?

Well, it is like the song says, looking for love in all the wrong
places.

(LAUGHTER)

RENDELL: Yes. Dick Cheney was the guy who told us deficits didn`t
matter and now he`s coming in and telling us we can`t cut the defense
budget. Reverend, I think you are aware that we spent $700 billion a year
on defense.

SHARPTON: Right.

RENDELL: The second biggest spending country in the world is China at
$70 billion. And the next 14 countries combined with China spend less on
defense than the U.S. does. And republican hawk like Robert Gates, the
former defense secretary, said we could cut $80 billion a year from the
defense budget. So, Dick Cheney doesn`t have a clue about what he is
talking about.

SHARPTON: Now, I mean, Richard, do you feel that when you call in a
man like Dick Cheney.

WOLFFE: Right.

SHARPTON: What would be the possible motivation given how he left the
White House, his standing in the public, his standing in the polls, what
could possibly be the motive here?

WOLFFE: You set this up quite right this thing. He was -- rally the
troops. Remember that they need rallying right now. Things are not going
great for them. Their nominee is struggling. And these defense cuts that
we are talking about, they were meant to be unacceptable. They were meant
to be so painful that you would actually come up with a policy for doing
what Republicans say they want to do which is deal with the deficit.

They will never meant to go into effect. That`s why people voted for
them to force an agreement on Congress. So they are trying to wiggle out
of their own obligations here. Using Dick Cheney may make them feel good
but it is actually undermining what they say Republicans say will create
jobs and is what they stand for which is dealing with the deficit, they are
trying to get out of their first obligation and their biggest sales pitch
to the American people.

SHARPTON: Now, Governor, the -- fact that Mr. Cheney had a fund-
raiser, that raised $4 million for Mr. Romney but something very
interesting. They had headlines from Cheney`s -- Romney`s fund-raiser.
But there were no photos. A lot of coverage of the event, $4 million
Cheney helped Romney raise. But no pictures of the two.

How much distance is Romney trying to have to Cheney having both ways,
not be seen with him yet get the money and let him rally the troops on the
hill?

RENDELL: Well, exactly right. They don`t want a picture that could
be shown during the campaign. And that`s the reason I think that even
President Bush had that lukewarm endorsement of the Governor Romney. I
think as he was entering an elevator as the elevator door was closing.
This is bizarre. This is part of the comedic effect of this entire Romney
campaign.

But -- what`s serious about it is that with all of the mistakes and
all the errors, this is still a horse race. And one of the things I`m
interested in seeing Reverend is that after the bad about two, three weeks
that Governor Romney`s campaigns had, we are -- where will the polls stack
up after those three weeks?

SHARPTON: Now, Richard, he mentioned the -- Mr. Bush`s endorsed. Let
me show you this endorsement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH (R), UNITED STATES: Comical. You know, I`m
interested in politics. I`m -- I`m -- you know, I`m a supporter of Mitt
Romney. I hope he does well. But you know, he can do well without me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, this is today where they were asking Bush whether he
was going to appear on the campaign. He said, well, he can do well without
me. And even went further saying he`s doing best to stay out of politics.

WOLFFE: Right.

SHARPTON: Let me show you this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: I think it is bad for the presidency, former presidents,
bloviating, opining and telling people how it ought to be done. Eight
years was awesome. And you know, I was famous and I was powerful. But I
have no desire for fame and power anymore.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Richard, might have been awesome for him those eight years
but go ahead.

WOLFFE: Right. Well, that`s a whole lot of discussion. I might get
in trouble for saying this but I actually think President Bush has done a
dignified job of staying out of the public eye and not taking part in this.
If Republicans were honest, they would say we are following the Bush
agenda. We think that was great. We liked deregulation, we like
corporations doing what they want, we like the Bush tax cuts. They should
be asking him to go out and campaign for it.

I don`t think he`s got any calls to refuse because he`s not getting
the call. But let`s give him credit where it is due. He has dignified
presidents and ex-presidents by staying above and out of the fray at this
moment. But if Republicans were honest, they would say we love the guy, we
want to carry on where he left off.

SHARPTON: But Governor Rendell, the fact is that the President has
made it clear this is the Bush policies. And today, he made the case, and
while we don`t want to go back to the Bush policies. Watch this and give
me your reaction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: We spent almost a decade doing
what they prescribed. And how did it turn out? We didn`t see greater job
growth. We didn`t see middle class security. We saw the opposite. And it
all culminated in the worst financial crisis in our lifetimes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Governor? How do you respond? Here`s the President
connecting them to the policies of Bush and Cheney.

RENDELL: Well, I think that`s a fair comparison. And it is a fair
comparison not because he`s pointing to blame the prior administration.
But he`s saying that Romney/Ryan sort of budget and all of the views they
have, as Richard said, it is exactly the same. It says -- Yogi Bare (ph)
said, deja vu all over again.

But by the way, I want to echo what Richard said. I think President
Bush, George W. Bush, has been a fine ex-president and contrast the class
that he has shown with the lack of class that Vice President Cheney has
shown is pretty dramatic.

SHARPTON: Well, on that note, I will end it. Governor Ed Rendell
and Richard Wolffe, thanks for your time to be on the show tonight.

WOLFFE: Thank you.

RENDELL: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Coming up, is Sarah Palin going to crash the party in
Tampa? The mama grizzly is roaring. Mitt Romney has some decisions to
make. And what do David Hasselhoff and presidential kiss cam have in
common? The summer break is up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We are back with our summer break. It is time to take
break from the political battles of the day. A time to relax, rest, and to
recharge. We start with Alaska. With a small town of Takotna (ph).
Celebrating their mayor`s 15th year in office. Yes, mayor stubs is a cat.
Meet America`s only feline mayor. He was elected on a write-in ballot in
1997. And he keeps on winning. How does he do it?

A wineglass full of catnip daily. And how`s this for a segue? Happy
birthday, David Hasselhoff. The "Baywatch" icon turns 60 today. We all
know he likes burgers. But how about the world`s biggest cake? OK. He
will have to settle for South America`s. Bakers if Bolivia constructed the
biggest cake south of the equator.

OK. So, it is not the world`s biggest cake. But I guess that`s what
happens when you outsource. And back in Washington, the pressure was on
for the President and he had nothing to do with GOP opposition. He was
caught on kiss cam at team USA`s basketball game. And it didn`t go too
well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: President Obama on the ever popular arena in-house
arena kiss cam.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: He blew it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He blew it. But he came back strong in the second half.
They were caught on camera. There they are. This time daughter, Malia,
Vice President Biden and the coaches all encouraged them. And he delivered
with a slam dunk kiss. The fans went wild. Once again, the President
proves that he`s got game. And that`s your summer break for the day.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: With a little more than a month until the Republican
National Convention, there is a growing speculation over the role played by
Sarah Palin. Will she be invited to speak? Will she crash the party?
Will she overshadow Mitt Romney?

Last summer, Palin`s bus tour cruised into New Hampshire just as
Romney was announcing his candidacy and Palin was unapologetic about
stepping on his big day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: We are in the same territory at
the same time but good, more power to Mitt as he -- the campaign and --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: A few months later, Palin was open about who she favored in
the republican primary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN: Newt is whom I chose up here in Alaska to best represent ideas
that many Alaskans want to see as -- the preferred presidential candidate
in this area. That`s who I cast my vote for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And she`s been clear about what she thinks about Romney
himself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN: Bless his heart. I have respect for Mitt Romney but I do not
have respect for what he has done through this debt increased debate.

I am not convinced and I don`t think that the majority of GOP and
independent voters are convinced and that is why you don`t see Romney get
over that hump.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Seems he is nominee, are you happy with that?

PALIN: You know, anything is still possible. There can still be a
bit of a shake-up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now is Peter Boyer of special correspondent for
"Newsweek" and "Daily Beast." his new -- article is called Romney`s Palin
problem -- where`s her convention invite? Peter, thanks for coming on the
show tonight.

PETER BOYER, NEWSWEEK/THE DAILY BEAST: Hello, Reverend Sharpton. It
is good to see you.

SHARPTON: Good to see you. Peter, does Mitt Romney have a Palin
problem?

BOYER: Well, he -- he does with that cohort of republican
conservatives who believe that Sarah Palin, you know, embodies, in fact,
their philosophy and is a voice for their brand of conservatism. I mean, I
think he has a problem with them generally and I think the fact that he`s
considering not inviting the last vice presidential nominee to the
convention exacerbates that problem.

SHARPTON: Now, you just raised my next point. She is the last vice
presidential nominee of this party. So it is pretty much assumed she would
be invited to come to the next convention and to speak. But yet, you wrote
in your article yesterday, quote, "The Romney campaign prides itself on a
slavish adherence to script. Palin cannot be trusted to avoid the impulse
to go rogue. That is why perhaps the Romney campaign has not asked Palin
to speak at the convention."

BOYER: Yes. I think that`s true, Reverend Sharpton. I mean, I
don`t think we could expect that she would, you know, go off and, you know,
do something truly strange. I mean, I think she wants Romney to win. And
I think that she would give a pro-conservative, pro-republican message if
she were asked to speak. I think that she would have some difficulty
adhering strictly to script.

And, you know, she has a history that suggests to her and I would say
probably with some reason that listening to the establishment Republican
Party is not necessarily a good thing for Sarah Palin. And I think that
the Romney folks, many of whom, are, in fact, most of whom are the
establishment of the Republican Party would just as soon not take the
chance of whatever would come.

SHARPTON: All right. Well, Peter Boyer, we are going to watch and
see what happens. Thanks for your time tonight. We will be right back.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. This weekend, former
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin attempted to explain the party`s platform in a
way that even a child could understand.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN: We`re little tea pots and we`re getting steamed up, because
Obama is tipping us over, pouring out and draining the entrepreneurial
spirit from us, that which grew America into the most exceptional nation
ever known.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: A new take on a classic nursery rhyme. To score political
points? Well, I guess Governor Palin is going rogue again. You know, this
got me thinking. There`s a lot of other great nursery rhymes out there and
I would like to take this opportunity to share some of our favorite nursery
rhymes with you. I just happen to have my book here. So let`s start with
this classic.

Humpty-dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty-dumpty had a great fall. He
didn`t need help from all the king`s men because humpty could finally
afford health care again.

Good thing the affordable care act was upheld. Or humpty-dumpty would
be scrambled eggs. How about this one? Willard, Willard, quite contrary.
How does your money grow? With tax shelters offshore and blind trusts
galore, all shady deals in a row. Who doesn`t love a nursery rhyme about
hidden treasures? And finally, one of my personal favorites.

Speaker John Boehner sat in a corner eating his blueberry pie. But
when he was asked to compromise, he sat down and began to cry. Nobody
should ever cry over blueberry pie. I commend Governor Palin for her
creativity. But while her tea pots speech had rhyme, it definitely lacked
reason. Think of a good nursery rhyme. Get you through the heat of the
summer.

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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