Guests: Ryan Grim; David Bernstein; Catherine Crier; Josh Green, Barney
Frank, Karen Finney, Wes Moore
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Welcome to "Politics Nation." I`m
Tonight`s lead, the GOP divided over Willard Mitt Romney`s tax
returns. Today Rush Limbaugh launched a scathing attack on a growing list
of Republicans calling on Governor Romney to release his taxes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I saw practically the entire
Republican establishment thinks he should. What an asinine thing to
suggest I don`t think Romney ought to release his tax returns. I hope
Romney is keeping track of who on our side is caving to Obama`s demands. I
hope he understands it`s the tea party sticking by him and not the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: But the whispers in the GOP have turned into a deafening
chorus. More and more, Republicans are calling for Romney to release his
tax returns. "The Washington Post" says the debate is now causing some
divisions inside his campaign. But Romney is still shrugging it off.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think people in my party
just say, look. This is a nonissue. Release the returns and they`ll go
away. My experience is the Democratic Party has approached taxes in a
different way than in the past. Their opposition people look for anything
they can find to distort, twist, and try to make negative.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: This is a conversation Republican leaders in Washington
definitely don`t want to have.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Democrats are calling on Mitt Romney to
release his tax returns in the name of transparency. Do you think he
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-W), BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I`ll refer you to
the Romney campaign on those things.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The American people
are asking, where are the jobs? Not where in the hell the tax returns are.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Not only Democrats are asking. A lot
of Republicans are --
BOEHNER: It is not about the tax returns. It`s about the economy.
The American people vote with their wallet. Bye.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: And with that, Speaker Boehner walked out. He didn`t want
to answer any more questions about Romney`s tax returns. The issue is
getting more and more curious by the day.
Today, more bad news for the Romney campaign. This afternoon the
"Huffington Post" wrote that there are now questions about the tax returns
for 2011. The only year Romney has made public. The post says quote,
"Mitt Romney has not released his full tax records from 2010 including key
documentation connected to his Swiss bank account. People who own foreign
bank accounts are required to file a separate document with the IRS.
Romney has not released that form to the public," end of quote.
Now, this documentation could shed light on the mysterious $3 million
Swiss bank account that Mr. Romney shut down after 2010. We do know from
what he has released that the bank account was housed in the Swiss town of
Alton, picture tourist right in the center of the country. The account was
kept here in a bank called Swiss Prime Site.
But that`s about all we know about it. And Romney seems determined to
make sure no one finds out anything more. It all leads to one simple
Joining me now is Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for "the
Huffington Post" who wrote that news report on Romney`s Swiss bank account,
Catherine Crier, award winning journalist, lawyer and former judge, and
Josh Green, senior political editor for Bloomberg Business Week who`s been
reporting on Romney`s finances.
Thank you all for joining me.
Let me start with you, Ryan. The 2010 tax returns were not complete,
is that what you`re saying? What would -- what could we have learned if
they`d been completed? And what does this have to do with him running for
RYAN GRIM, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, HUFFINGTON POST: This is the
story Zach Carter and I wrote today. And what we are referring to is a
document that is known as an f-bar. And it`s just gives more detailed
information about those particular accounts. And you know, and it`s hard
to know exactly what we would learn until we see it. But it`s critical
that if he`s going to say look, all I`m giving you is 2010, then at least
he give all of 2010.
Because what we found is -- and as "the L.A. Times" reported, his 2010
taxes don`t actually match up with his presidential financial disclosure
form. There are tons of accounts and investments that are listed on his
tax return that simply do not appear on his presidential disclosure form.
And, you know, he has yet to explain why that is, that whether it was a
host of clerical errors that just conveniently left off these kinds of
damning investments from his disclosure form, or if there`s something else
So, you know, it goes -- you know, this is something that people are
asking, and I think they`re going to ask it up until Election Day.
SHARPTON: Now, Josh, I mean, the question begs to be raised why he
won`t release them. And there`s all kind of possibilities. Maybe he
didn`t pay taxes at all in 2009. He took the Swiss bank account amnesty
form the IRS offered in 2009. Details of a $100 million IRA account. Had
more offshore accounts we didn`t know. It could be any number of reasons,
Josh. What do you think?
JOSHUA GREEN, BLOOMBERG BUSINESS WEEK: Well, I`ve spoken to private
equity executives and tax planners this week. And the most interesting
theory I heard that I wrote about on "Business Week`s" Web site this week
was that, Romney along with a lot of other rich investors, might have
experienced a big capital loss during the market crash in 2008 that he was
able to carry forward to 2009 and coupled with some of the off-shore tax
havens. Zero out his tax bill for 2009. Now, that`s nothing but
speculation, but if it were true --
SHARPTON: If that`s true, Josh, is that allowable? Is that
allowable? Let me ask that right on that point. Is that allowable if in
fact that`s true? And I realized the speculation, but, is that allowable?
GREEN: Well, sure. Legally it could be allowable, and in terms of
the IRS, it can conceivably be allowable, but there`s also the political
problem of, you know, if it turned out that you paid no taxes, then, you
know, explaining that in the context of a presidential race when you`re
being painted as a rich, out of touch politician playing by a different set
of rules, it is going to be especially difficult. But it is worth pointing
out that the campaign did come out late this afternoon and said that it was
not true that he paid no taxes in 2009, although we can`t know for sure
because they didn`t they still won`t release that tax return.
SHARPTON: Now, Catherine, when you look at the fact that all of these
questions come about looking at Bain Capital, looking at his investments,
he really invited us to look at his tenure as the CEO of Bain and therefore
opened the door to this saying look, how I conducted business. I`m a job
creator. Look what I did in the private sector. Then when people started
looking, he started saying no, don`t go this far. Only look at what I want
to show you.
CATHERINE CRIER, FORMER JUDGE: Well, when he ran against Senator
Kennedy, when he ran for governor he did not disclose his tax returns
despite the precedent his father set. He has not believed he would have
to. And it`s really quite extraordinary because when John Boehner says
this is all about jobs, all about the economy, absolutely.
And when we laud him as a job creator, a man who turns businesses
around in this country, it`s fair to look at his businesses and say what
tax breaks, loopholes, offshore accounts. You know questionable, not
necessarily illegal, but questionable dealings that he engaged in, to
accumulate the wealth. Not that he is rich, but how did he go about and
does he demonstrate a rigged system that is not constructed to create jobs
and boost the broad domestic economy, absolutely fair game. He is going to
have to release. And if he doesn`t, I actually read a piece today
speculating could this man literally withdraw before the convention? I
think things are going to get more interesting.
SHARPTON: Wow. You think he could have to withdraw? You think it`s
CRIER: Yes. If he doesn`t, one of the moments of speculation, and
Josh, I sort of thought you mentioned this, is because of a ruling that the
Swiss banks were having to reveal investors, no investors ever thought that
they would be an open book, then there was an amnesty created in 2009.
A lot of very wealthy Americans with offshore accounts used that to go
back to the IRS and amend. It may be in fact that he participated, don`t
know, but then he participated in the amnesty program which is saying I
didn`t declare my tax because I didn`t think anyone would ever pierce that
veil. And now, I`ve utilized the amnesty program, all of which calling to
question his assertion that his business acumen is right to drive the
economy of the United States.
SHARPTON: Now, all of these scenarios that we`re speculating -- this
is all speculation, we don`t know. But, Ryan, I heard you trying to get in
there, but answer that. Do you think they ever thought they`d have to
release the details of the Swiss account?
GRIM: No. Actually, Abby Huntsman and I reported today that three
Bain executives we spoke to say that he never thought over the last ten
years he would ever have to release these tax returns. It`s basically a
high principle for him. He genuinely doesn`t believe that people have the
right to this, what he considers private financial information.
And, you know, he`s insulted at having to deal with the question. And
you can almost see that come through in a really fascinating and wide
ranging interview that he gave to Bob Costa of the national review
And what I was trying to cut in on was during that interview he also
talked about the Cayman Islands and he said look, there`s nothing wrong
with the Cayman Islands account. What happens is that we set up an account
at Cayman Islands and that lets foreign companies invest in a U.S. company
without having to pay U.S. taxes. And so, that`s good for the U.S. because
then we get the foreign investment.
And what I guess he doesn`t understand the politics of what he`s
saying. He outright admitted that the reason and Zach Carter wrote this up
today on our site, that you know, pulled it from Costa`s interview. That
the reason they set up those Cayman Islands entities was so that foreign
corporations could evade U.S. taxes. He outright said that.
SHARPTON: Wouldn`t have to pay American taxes.
GRIM: And a lot of U.S. taxpayers, and we know this for a fact, a lot
of U.S. taxpayers pretend to be foreign companies when they go to the
Cayman Islands and get out of taxes that way. Did that happens in this, we
SHARPTON: Josh, if he said that, we don`t know what happened but we
know he said that, if he said that, that could be a nice commercial for the
president`s campaign. But it also could lead to why a lot of Republicans
are coming out saying release them and have appeared to change on him or
turned on defending him in this because he`s advocating principles that
politically could hurt him and the ticket.
GREEN: That`s right. And the other thing we saw in Congress two
Democratic senators, Durbin and Levin, as well (INAUDIBLE) and the House of
Representatives, both introduced legislation or announced they were going
to introduce legislation that would force presidential candidates to
disclose tax returns, details of offshore tax havens, details of IRAs and
401(k)s, All the stuff out there.
Now, in the house that`s probably not going to go far because
Republicans are in control. But in the Senate, this could force Republican
senators who are no great fans of Mitt Romney to have to take a vote. And
either defend these offshore tax havens or throw their own presidential
candidate under the bus. And that`s not any position that any Republican
senator wants to find themselves in. So, they are getting angry of Romney.
CRIER: And Reverend, just -- any of your viewers, just need to Google
offshore accounts and whether it`s Citibank chase, Barclays, all of the
leading banks. They have all their websites and pop up immediately. Why
do you do this? Secrecy, tax avoidance, legal tax avoidance. You don`t
find anything in there, here`s a gray legal common reason why every good
American should utilize this service.
SHARPTON: I`m confused, Catherine. I thought it would say job
creator, but I`ve got to go.
Ryan Grim, Catherine Crier, and Josh Green, thank you all for your
Coming up, new information about an investment in Bermuda, that
exclusive story is next.
Plus Rush Limbaugh`s ridiculous Batman Bain conspiracy theory takes
bizarre a turn today.
And Chris Christie could be the keynote speaker at the convention in
Tampa, but he might not be Willard`s number two. Is this already causing a
rift in the GOP?
You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.
SHARPTON: It`s the story of a company that took advantage of the
post-9/11 insurance market. It was headquartered in Bermuda. And can you
guess who has ties to this company? Yes. Things just went from bad to
worse for Willard. That`s next.
SHARPTON: There`s still a lot we don`t know about Mitt Romney. But
thanks to some shoe leather reporting, we`re beginning to learn some
stunning information about Romney`s financial maneuvers.
Today "the Boston Phoenix" broke the story of Romney`s multimillion
dollar ties to a Bermuda based insurance company set up in the weeks
following September 11th that hasn`t had to pay U.S. taxes since they
opened their doors.
Endurance Specialty was created to take advantage of the post-9/11
insurance market, which was surging with customers wanting to buy more
property coverage after the terrorist attacks. Reports say Endurance was
able to charge 300 percent to 400 percent higher rates on policies than
before September 11th. Critics call profiteering. And although it was a
company founded by and run by Americans, Endurance Specialty was able to
avoid paying U.S. income taxes by setting up shop in Bermuda. This new
report cracks open the windows of Romney`s past financial history.
Joining me now is David Bernstein, political reporter for "the Boston
Phoenix." He broke the news about Romney`s ties to endurance specialty
David, thanks for being here.
DAVID BERNSTEIN, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE BOSTON PHOENIX: Thanks for
having me on.
SHARPTON: Now, you write that Romney invested in a company called
Golden Gate Capital. Tell us how they figure into this story with the
company in Bermuda.
BERNSTEIN: Yes. Golden gate was an investment firm created by former
Bain Capital people. And this was during the time Romney was at the
Olympics. They left Bain Capital and formed the Golden Gate. And they
opened their first investment fund in early 2001. Bain capital was a major
investor in that fund and Romney personally invested money in that fund.
Now, presumably if we believe Romney had nothing to do with what was
going on at Bain Capital, presumably that happened through separate paths
and not, you know, the same path. They were both invested in Golden Gate.
And Golden Gate was going to do -- the idea was they were going to invest
mostly in sort of high-tech California. They were located in San
Francisco. But this opportunity, like you say, came along right after 9/11
there was this attempt to form -- there were a number of these companies
that tried to spring up. Endurance Specialty was one of them. First
organizational meeting started right after 9/11 in September, formally
opened its doors in Bermuda in December. And so Romney through Golden Gate
was an investor.
Now, Romney -- and I spoke with someone with the Romney campaign that
said well, you know, he invested in the fund and then to people managing
the fund decided to invest in that company, so, that was not his decision.
But it`s worth pointing out that Romney continued to invest in Golden
Gate on and on and, in fact, as of his last form, disclosure form filed
last year 2011 showed he was invested in, I believe, five different Golden
Gate investment vehicles with more than $2 million altogether. And so
clearly he wasn`t bothered by --
SHARPTON: Let me see if --
BERNSTEIN: -- more of his money. It shows approval at the very
SHARPTON: All right. So, David, so he -- he and Bain, we presumed
separately, but invest in Golden Gate who are guys who came out of Bain.
They invest in this insurance company after 9/11 that makes a killing in
laymen`s term, after 9/11 based on the rising rates. And he continues
investing in this firm even though he claims he didn`t approve their
investments. He continued to invest and the last disclosure we have, it
was $2 million in his 2011 disclosures.
BERNSTEIN: Yes. And the point you make about the taxes, it`s
important to note that a lot of these casualty insurance companies set up
in Bermuda at the time and still to avoid taxes. And particularly, Bermuda
not only has no corporate tax, it has no capital gains tax. And for
company like that, a casual insurance companies, the way they work is they
take in premiums from customers and invest it because they only have to pay
out money every once in awhile. It`s not like a health insurance company
who are constantly paying out claims.
They`re collecting premiums, investing it, making money through
investments and then every once in awhile when a hurricane hits or
something like that, that`s when they have to pull a lot of that money out.
So just to be clear, Romney was paying taxes on his -- he was paying
capital gains taxes presumably on his gains in value through Golden Gate.
But the reason he was making gains is because the company they invested in
was avoiding all of those taxes and able to make a lot of profit because
they were not paying taxes.
SHARPTON: So they made more money because the company did not have to
pay the taxes.
BERNSTEIN: And of course the United States was not collecting those
taxes. So it was not gaining from that financially as a country.
SHARPTON: And again, it`s all right, fine, and legal to make the
money. But when you`re running for president, we need to know how and what
you did and what your values were.
Thank you, David Bernstein, from "Boston Phoenix, " great reporting.
Thanks for your time.
BERNSTEIN: My pleasure.
SHARPTON: Coming up, Chris Christie`s tough talk made him a
Republican rock star. But did it cost him the job he really wanted? Big
And a day after Dick Cheney`s pep talk against defense cuts, more GOP
hypocrisy in Washington. Barney Franks is here live. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: Folks, have you checked us out on facebook? The "Politics
Nation" conversation is going all day long.
Today, our page was filled with birthday wishes for Nelson Mandela,
the living legend who turned 94 today.
Koleman says quote, "your sacrifices for human rights for all people
can never be repaid."
Phyllis celebrated by sharing a famous Mandela quote. "No one is born
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And Doug says "I only wish we had more people like you in this world."
We want to hear what you think too. Head over to facebook and search
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long after the show ends. We hope to see you there.
And I want to personally wish the great Nelson Mandela is happy 94th
birthday. He is a man, I think, that shows that with sacrifice and
discipline and forgiveness can do. Many men in the 20th and 21st century
were famous. Few are great. Nelson Mandela became one of the greatest.
SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. Republicans love to talk
about out of control spending. Food stamps, out of control. Health care,
beyond reason. But spending on the military? They have no problem with
that. Take a look at this graphic. Last year, the United States spent
$739 billion on defense. China, the country with the next largest military
spending spends just under $90 billion.
Look at that. Seven hundred and thirty nine billion compared to
China`s $90 billion. In fact, we spend more than the other top ten
countries combined by a long shot. So why is that important? The
government is set up to automatically make defense cuts as part of last
year`s bipartisan budget agreement. And now the GOP is getting worried.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: The cuts of this magnitude will put
our nation`s national security at risk.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), OHIO: The defense portion of the sequester in
my view would clearly hollow our military.
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: We`re finding the capability to address
that threat`s reduced.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: There is no doubt we will have the smallest Navy
and Air Force in history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: National security risk? Hollowed military? Threats? Does
this sound familiar? Oh, yes, it does. And they were in the mood for a
little nostalgia bringing Dick 13 percent Cheney in yesterday to get them
ginned up for the fight against these cuts. Wait. I`m sorry did I say the
GOP is against spending cuts? What about all this talk?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOEHNER: And the spending spree in Washington.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Focus on trying to get the fiscal house in order.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Washington has not got its fiscal house in order.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: That`s more like it. We need to get our fiscal house in
order by cutting health care, by cutting the safety net. But apparently
that $739 billion on military spending, that`s just okey-dokey artichokey.
Joining me now is Congressman Barney Frank, democrat from
Massachusetts. Mr. Chairman, thank you for joining me.
REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Thank you, Al.
SHARPTON: You`ve been a leader in the fight against the ballooning
military budget for years. They`ll cut health care, they`ll cut social
programs, food stamps. Why is military spending off limits?
FRANK: Well, it`s part of an ideology -- let`s be clear. When you
have the Tea Party types in power, when you have these right wingers in
power, they`re not just cutting Medicare because they need to reduce the
deficit. They were against Medicare when it started. These are people who
do not understand that we need a private sector that is vigorous but a
public sector that is also well funded and active.
They`re opposed to the notion of governance. They don`t understand
it. As to the military, they have this ideology that says America somehow
has this mission. Some of them say it`s God`s idea. A terrible thing to
blame God for, it seems to me. It`s God`s idea that America has to bring
peace and order to the whole world. Well, for one thing, we simply
physically and even more culturally can`t do it.
You know, the military is very good. We have a superb military. They
are good at what a military can do. They can stop bad things from
happening. But the best trained, best armed 30-year-old Americans can`t
make democracy happen in Iraq. They can`t make corruption go away in
Afghanistan. They cannot bring cohesion to a society that doesn`t have it.
But we spend tens and hundreds of billions trying.
And in particular -- you nailed it very well, Al. When you talk about
laying off teachers, when you talk about reducing police officers, when you
talk about not building highways, when you talk about not having housing
for the elderly, they say that`s a good thing. Because they say when the
government spends money, it hurts the economy. It detracts from the
They think John Maynard Keynes who said sometimes government spending
is necessary to get out of an economic slope, that`s wrong. But when it
comes to the military, it`s a mysterious thing to me. Apparently
everything they believe about government spending flips. And they are
worried they`ll have a recession if we cut the military. By the way, I
want to cut the military in some places where it didn`t going to cause us a
We continue 65 years after World War II, 67 years to be the main
defense budget for France, for Germany, for England, for Italy. You know,
we did that under Harry Truman when the communists were threatening...
FRANK: .poor weak nation in Western Europe. We`re still doing it.
So, in France they`re proposing to lower the retirement age from some
people from 62 to 60 while these Republicans want to raise our retirement
age to 70. And of course, the reason the French can afford it is, we`re
subsidizing their military.
SHARPTON: Under this budget. And when you raise about what they`re
doing in terms of the budget and the priorities, Republicans have bought
wholehearted into this Ryan budget. And it`s devastating to the poor.
Remember, 62 percent of the cuts target low-income programs. That`s $3.3
trillion in cuts. Yet the budget boosts defense spending. It increases it
by $6.2 trillion in this decade.
FRANK: Yes, Al. Let me.
SHARPTON: It`s amazing what they`re proposing.
FRANK: I don`t like the sequester. That`s not the right way to do
it. I don`t want to cut the -- I want to cut essentially the thermonuclear
weapons we still have stockpiled, so we can win this thermonuclear war with
the Soviet Union which we don`t have to worry about anymore. We don`t need
to be defending Western Europe. Yes, I worry about Iran. I worry about
some other things.
I want America to be the strongest nation in the world mainly because
Denmark can`t handle it and I`d rather it be us than China. But we can be
the strongest nation in the world about 75 percent of what we`re now
spending. And of course, it`s a zero some gain, if you`re going to reduce
the deficit, if you don`t cut medical care, and you`re right about what it
does to the most vulnerable. But let`s not forget, it whacks the middle
class pretty good too.
It cuts back on roads, it cuts back on firefighters, it cuts back on
environmental protection. All of the things we do together which is what
government does to improve the quality of our lives here gets cut savagely
so we continue to waste money in Afghanistan, subsidize Western Europe and
be prepared for a thermonuclear war with the Soviet Union.
SHARPTON: So, I`m glad you made that clear. So, you`re talking about
the Western Europe subsidies. You`re talking about Afghanistan. You`re
talking about things that will not at all lead to any risk for American
FRANK: No risk for American citizens. And most cases, very little
economic negatives for Americans. I don`t see how if -- we still have
marines on Okinawa. I think most people thought when John Wayne died, the
marines -- though he would never act himself in the military. If we were
to take those thousands of marines off Okinawa which the Okinawans would
like us to do, it would help the American economy, not hurt it.
SHARPTON: Mr. Chairman, let me ask you about Mitt Romney. You`ve
represented Massachusetts since the `80s. So, you know Mr. Romney pretty
well. Why won`t he release his tax returns?
FRANK: Oh, for a good reason. He`s embarrassed about what they would
show. They would show that this is a man who took advantage of every
loophole, of everything that`s unpopular about the tax code who had no
regard for the American economy but to the extent that he could outsource,
you know, the President says, he`s outsourcing jobs. Well, he`s
consistent. He outsourced his own income production. Clearly he would be
embarrassed by the extent to which he had -- not just all the money, that`s
not the issue, it is where we had it in these tax havens. In places that
any American president ought to want to try to change.
SHARPTON: Do you think with the growing chorus that we`re hearing
from members of his own party that he may have to defer and release more
information or from what you know of him, do you think he`s going to hold
FRANK: I don`t see -- well, first of all when you say hold the line,
if Romney holds the line on this, it would be the first time in the man`s
life that he holds the line on anything. There is nothing more dangerous
than to be between Mitt Romney and the position he used to have and the
position that is politically more advantageous. You would get run over by
one of his wife`s two Cadillacs.
The fact is, that this is a man who is the most flexible guy, and yes
he`s embarrassed. It`s a purely political calculation. I don`t see how
you can sustain money for president while hiding the thing that he did
again. It`s not an attack on the wealthy. It`s an attack on someone first
of all who clearly misleading about his role with Bain. I was struck by
(INAUDIBLE) I was around when it did.
FRANK: Where by coincidence Romney and Bain have been making the same
parallel investment at a time when he had nothing to do with Bain. That`s
a heck of coincidence.
SHARPTON: Chairman, I`ve got to go.
FRANK: And this is a man who`s got a lot to hide and he`s hiding it.
SHARPTON: Well, Chairman, I`ve got to go. Chairman Barney Frank,
thanks as always. Great guest. Thank you for coming.
Coming up, big news about Chris Christie in 2012. But not the kind
his fans had been hoping for. It left us wondering if there`s a new rift
in the GOP.
Plus Rush Limbaugh responds to critics of his wacky Batman-Bain
And beer cans, boats, sharks, and tattoos. Your summer break is
SHARPTON: It`s time for quick pause from the political battles of the
day. It`s time to rest, relax, and recharge. That`s right, folks. It`s
time for the summer break. We start down under in Darwin, Australia, where
they brought recycling to a whole new level. It`s the annual beer can
regatta. That`s right. All boats are made out of beer cans. They`ve got
crab boats, hammer boats. The biggest one even has a second floor. No
sign of Mitt Romney on his jet ski down there yet.
Back in Florida, this guy fishing wish he`d stayed in his boat. He
jumped in to see what he caught and came face to face with this great white
shark. Is this how President Obama feels when he goes to Capitol Hill?
Just kidding, Speaker Boehner. Just kidding. And that`s today`s summer
SHARPTON: We`re back with a big talker today. Is Chris Christie
going prime time? NBC News reports the New Jersey governor has been tapped
for the keynote speech at next month`s Republican National Convention.
Conservatives love his brashness, his tough talk, and his take no prisoners
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I`m not going to the Nets game.
My message to the Nets is good-bye.
You`ve maximized your tan. Get off the beach. It`s like the hotel
California. You know? You can check in any time you like but you can
never leave. All right?
If what you want to do is put on a show and giggle every time I talk,
well then I have no interest in answering your question. I got sent here
to do a job. I didn`t get sent here to be elected prom king.
You don`t want to stay, we don`t want you. Let me cut them. Get me
out of the cage and let me go. So, New Jersey, whether you like it or not,
you`re stuck with me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: "The New York Times" writes today that Christie`s brashness
blunts his hope to run with Romney. Quote, "Republicans close to Mr.
Romney`s campaign say that the Governor`s continued hostile encounters have
augmented fears that he`s too unpredictable and too contentious turning
what was once viewed as a key strength into a drawback." Is Christie just
too mean for Mitt Romney?
Joining me now is Karen Finney, MSNBC political analyst and former
communications director for the Democratic National Committee. And Wes
Moore, a retired captain in the U.S. army and best-selling author of "The
Other Wes Moore." Thank you both for joining us.
WES MOORE, AUTHOR, "THE OTHER WES MOORE": Thanks, Rev.
SHARPTON: Karen, so Romney won`t pick Chris Christie as his running
mate. Why is he afraid?
KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, I think as the
piece that you read from indicated, he can be a little bit off the cuff and
a little bit too far astray. He can be a little bit brash. And while
that`s something that you may want on the campaign trail as your attack dog
going after your opponent, that may not quite be what you want in your vice
presidential candidate. So, giving him a speech at the convention is
perfect actually because it is very scripted. You know, in the
teleprompter. You get the best of both worlds.
SHARPTON: Now, I don`t know about that. I`ve been known not to
follow it out. But anyway, Wes, let me ask you. You know, the fact that
Chris Christie was one of the loyal supporters of Romney. Came out early
for Romney. But in January he did call for Romney to release his taxes.
Let me play you this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: Let`s get all the facts out there, see what the tax returns
say, and then I think everybody will know that the story is really probably
much ado about nothing. But that`s the way I conducted myself in public
over time. And if I were asked by Governor Romney, that`s what I would
urge him to do as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Do you think there may be a little fear that he has the
tendency to go a little off script sometime, Wes?
MOORE: Well, to be quite honest, I don`t think that Governor Christie
regrets that comment. I think if you asked him to comment, he would say
the same thing again. But I think this is also playing any assumption that
Governor Christie wanted to be asked. I think Governor Christie has been
very clear throughout this entire process that he`s not a good number two.
That he wouldn`t be the right person to stay and be a vice president for
And in addition to that, he knows his history. He knows the fact that
the last vice president that has actually ascended to the presidency was
George H.W. Bush. And he knows the last person to what be a vice
presidential nominee who then losing vice presidential nominee, who then
later on ended up winning the presidency was FDR.
So, I think he knows that having a chance to be the keynote at the
Republican National Convention and not necessarily be the vice president
for Mitt Romney might be the best seat for him for his future prospects.
SHARPTON: Now, Karen, he raises a point. Because a keynote is a big
deal and he`s a big player in the Republican Party. For example, in 2004
the keynote at the democratic convention was Barack Obama. And it really
helped to launch him all the way to the White House. So this is no putting
him to the side. This is a major role.
FINNEY: It`s a very big deal. It`s the kind of thing at this point,
at this phase in the campaign, the RNC and the Romney campaign team, you
know, they make that decision together. And it`s a coveted spot. It
absolutely puts that person front and center and says this is somebody who
we think represents our party. Clearly they`re trying to make a statement.
He`s an up and comer regards of what we think about him. He`s very popular
with the base of the party. He`s an up and comer.
So, that`s part of their narrative. He is also someone, I think, you
know, now that the Republican Party has actually learned or learning how to
talk about the middle class, we haven`t heard that much from them in the
last several years. We only heard it from Democrats. Now, we`ve got Mitt
Romney talking about the people, you know, serving at fund raisers and
acknowledging that poor people and middle class people, we have to be
concerned about them. This governor actually also speaks to that kind of
blue collar middle class worker. So, part of this is perhaps a shift with
the Republican Party to saying, oh, maybe we should talk about the middle
class. Maybe that will get us some votes.
SHARPTON: Now, Christie -- Wes, Christie once admits that he wouldn`t
make a good running mate back in January. You said not a good number two
guy. Let me play you something he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: I don`t expect to be asked. I`ve said this over and over
again. I don`t think I`m the type of personality who is going to be asked
to be vice president by anybody. I mean, they`d have to hire a food
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Wes? That was your point.
MOORE: That was the point. But I think, you know, another important
point to remember about all this, is you know, you could make a very real
argument that there really have been only three elections in modern history
where the vice presidential selection or lack of vice presidential
selection have actually mattered. When you look at, you know, the
selection of Lyndon B. Johnson by John F. Kennedy.
You could argue that Al Gore not selecting Bob Graham in Florida when
he was the most popular politician by far in Florida, you know, back in
2000 really could have helped eliminate all the controversy Romney in the
2000 election. And then the selection that John McCain made of picking
Sarah Palin particularly after the financial crisis.
MOORE: And so, we`re really talking about three elections in modern
history where this has probably made a very big deal in terms of the
determining the election. And that`s something that Mitt Romney is also
keeping in mind as he`s thinking about his selection on this.
SHARPTON: Karen, Wes, thank you for your time tonight.
MOORE: Thank you.
FINNEY: Thanks, Rev.
SHARPTON: Up next, we`ll follow Rush Limbaugh`s Batman conspiracy
theory to its illogical conclusion. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: By now you`ve probably heard about Rush Limbaugh`s big
conspiracy about the Batman movie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The villain in "The Dark Knight
Rises" is named Bane. Do you think that it is accidental that the name of
the really vicious, fire breathing, four-eyed whatever it is villain in
this movie is named Bane?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: He`s hilarious. And today, FOX Business picked up that
ball and ran with it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Is it mere coincidence that the name of the villain
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Incredible. I guess these comic book writers have been
working on this conspiracy for a long time. Bane appeared in his first
Batman comic book in 1993. It`s so absurd that Rush started backtracking
to date. Well, sort of.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIMBAUGH: I wasn`t talking about the comic book creators. I was
talking about Hollywood. I read stories two nights ago about how this was
a plan the Democrats had was an attempt to link the character in the movie
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Oh, yeah. Good point. It`s the Hollywood conspiracy
against Mitt Romney. Anti-Romney movies have been out there for decades.
Like the 2003 film "Willard." What a coincidence that it`s a horror film.
And of course "The Pirates of the Caribbean." Movie must have been all
about his offshore accounts. Even the classic "Wizard of Oz" sings against
Mitt. With all this talk of shout sourcing jobs, why does Glenda keep
hopping on home?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: And think to yourself there`s no place like home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Hope those ruby slippers weren`t made in China, Dorothy.
But don`t worry, Willard. In November, we`ll be the ones that pull back
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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