Skip navigation

PoliticsNation, Monday, July 23, 2012

Read the transcript from the Monday show

  Most Popular
Most viewed

Guests: Dave Cullen; Earl Blumenauer; Clint Van Zandt, Elizabeth Warren, David Corn, Jon Soltz


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

Tonight`s lead, portrait of an accused killer. Tonight the suspected
gunman in Colorado`s shooting has made his first courtroom appearance since
the horrific tragedy that left 12 people dead and 58 others injured.

James Holmes had dyed orange/red hair and seemed dazed and glassy
eyed. Sometimes closing his eyes as the hearing proceeded. He didn`t say
anything in court and seemed disconnected even when the judge talked about
the victims.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE JUDGE: For protection order if you`d hand a copy to
Mr. Holmes. Shall not possess or control a firearm or other weapon, shall
not consume alcoholic beverages and controlled substances, is to further
order court you are not to commit any new offenses.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Investigators are now looking at his computer and other
items found in his apartment trying to piece together who he is and why he
allegedly walked into a movie theater and started shooting innocent people.

Holmes reportedly began struggling at school this past semester doing
poorly on exams. Police say it was during this time he began buying a huge
amount of ammunition online. Around that time, sometime in May, he began
buying guns from local shops. In early June, he suddenly dropped out of
the Ph.D. program. And a few weeks later, he applied to join a gun club
leaving such a bizarre phone message that the club`s owner gave his
employees a warning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told the staff this guy`s not scheduled, but if
he shows up today or if he`s around, he goes no place. Nothing happens
until I meet him and talk to him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: On July 2nd, Holmes ordered a bulletproof vest, knife, and
other gear online. Police say it looks like Holmes was planning this for
months, adding to the shock for people in Aurora, Colorado. Thousands
attended a vigil for the victims on Sunday.

President Obama met with their families last night and today he talked
about the victims who served in the military during a speech to the
veterans of foreign wars.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These young patrons
were willing to serve in faraway lands yet they were taken from us here at
home. And yesterday I conveyed to their families a message on behalf of
all Americans.

We honor your loved ones. We salute their service. And as you summon
the strength to carry on, we stand with you as one united American family.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now is Clint Van Zandt, a former FBI profiler
now an NBC news analyst. And Dave Cullen, author of "columbine." It`s the
definitive book about the shootings at columbine high school in 1999. His
judgment an article for the "New York Times" about this new tragedy.

Thanks, to both of you for being here tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks for having me.

SHARPTON: Clint, let me start with you.

CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Sure.

SHARPTON: What struck you about James Holmes` appearance in court
today?

VAN ZANDT: You know, notwithstanding anybody who comes into court
with a jump suit looks like they`re guilty of something, they`re a criminal
anyway. But, Al, it was that flat, emotional affect, that unemotional
look. That his eyes if they were focused they were looking down, they were
blinking. It was like he really wasn`t -- it was like he wasn`t involved.
It was like he was in this dream world and there was somebody else seated
there where, maybe part of him was somewhere else.

Now, we look at that red hair, Al, and you and I say, what you know,
anybody who does that, you know, they`re trying to send a message. Well,
if he was a joker, he should have had green hair, not red hair. So what
does that mean?

And if you look at, you know, the pictures, you see his eyes. And Al,
the one time I saw him really seem to track what the judge was saying was
when the judge started talking about the media and is the media going to be
allowed to sit in on those proceedings. All of a sudden you get this rapid
eye action and he appears to look up again. So, that was like the one time
his attention was caught.

So the question is, did his attorneys say there`s going to be family
members of the victims, whatever you do, don`t act up. Be calm. Or was he
medicated by the jail? Or is this his real demeanor or Al, is he faking
something? These are four different choices that the authorities, that the
judge, the jury eventually is going to have to consider.

SHARPTON: Now, Clint, James Holmes is in his early 30s. Now, could
that be important in terms of what`s going on him. He`s in his early 20s.

VAN ZANDT: Yes. He`s in his early 20s, you`re right. What`s
important I guess is, you know, people think he`s a sociopath, psychopath.
No, no, no. I really don`t think so. I think what we`re dealing with
here, Al, if in fact what we see, things associated with him, statements,
actions are all true, we may find someone with a significant mental health
issue.

Now, your point is valid in that between -- let`s take schizophrenia.
Between about 15 and 25 that start to -- you can start to see the symptoms
of schizophrenia in someone. And Al, when a person with schizophrenia gets
under stress it can be exacerbated. The condition can really get rise to.

Now, very quickly, even though six percent of the people in the United
States citizens have a predisposition to schizophrenia, 99.5 percent of
people in this country with any mental health issue do not take a terrible
action like this. I`m not laying this off on the mental health community.
But I` saying, if we have to explain the unexplainable, schizophrenia may
well be a way to look at why his behavior is. And Al, that`s probably
going to be part of his defense.

SHARPTON: All right. Before we go too far with schizophrenia, Dave
Cullen, you studied columbine. You studied the killers of Columbine. What
did you see today?

DAVE CULLEN, AUTHOR, COLUMBINE: Today I don`t know. You know, Clint
is much more of an expert than I am. That sounds like a reasonable
analysis to me. I just think the important thing is to do what he did is
he gave us a lot of different possibilities for the explanation of this
really strange behavior. I mean I think we can all agree that I found it
very odd watching him. But there are lots of different explanations about
that.

Another one is just; maybe he has been under tremendous stress and
hasn`t slept in the last three days.

VAN ZANDT: Yes.

CULLEN: And you know, you act weirdly, you know. If I had been up
for two or three days, I would be acting it. So, we don`t know. And so,
as long as we`ve got to keep an open mind and you know, say here are
different possibilities. And as evidence accumulates over time, we get
more ideas that point to one direction. You know, schizophrenia is
definitely a possibility. And we just need to keep our minds open to other
possibilities as well.

SHARPTON: Now, Dave, you wrote an article in "The New York Times"
over the weekend. And you warned that it is -- it is a mistake to rush to
conclusions. And in your article about initial wrong reporting in
Columbine, you said I spent ten year study of columbine. And we all know
what happened there, right? Two outcast loners, exacted revenge against
the jocks for relentlessly bullying them. Not one bit of that turned out
to be true but the news media jumped to those conclusions in the first 24
hours. So, they are accepted by many people today as fact. The real story
is a lot more disturbing and instructed. Are you warning us not to make
that mistake on this occasion?

CULLEN: I am. I am. That`s what I`m afraid of. You know, in this
situation, we`ve got a little bit of a different situation. Because
typically when the person is alive which usually doesn`t happen, we are
going to find out more. And if we really botch the story again this time,
there will be time to correct that because during the trial it will come
out.

I think the bigger danger in a situation like this is that if the
media collectively comes to a certain conclusion and it`s wrong, the jury
pool of Americans are going to come from the same group of Americans who
have also, you know, believed to those conclusions. And so if we get those
wrong, we`ve really sort of messed with the jury, a year from now or
whenever that takes place.

SHARPTON: No, but Dave. You made one statement in the article that
jumped out at me. Let me read the quote there that got to me. You said
and I`m quoting from the article. "Of the tiny fraction of people who
commit mass murder, most are not psychopaths. Far more often they are
suicidal and deeply depressed. The killer is rarely who he seems."

CULLEN: Yes, exactly. And, you know, psychopaths, there are
basically four types of these killers. They are deeply depressed, they are
psychopaths in a clinical sense, people with no empathy, they are
terrorists, and there are people who are deeply mentally ill out of touch
with reality.

Most of those are fairly rare. It`s mostly "the depresses" in most of
those cases. And this may be one of the exceptions. Virginia attack was
an exception where he was deeply mentally ill. But that`s the rare case.

You know, we don`t know this case. But -- at columbine, we had two.
We had a psychopath and we had somebody who was extremely depressed, you
know. And the depressed people, they don`t always present completely that
way. You know, Dillen was a very, very loving person but also an angry
person and very conflicted and complex. And that`s more often the profile.
There`s no -- definitely no one single profile, but that`s the more common
version of the killer who seems like a nice guy because he kind of is.

SHARPTON: Now, Clint, you did for the FBI profiling. When you look
at what we know already in terms of the suspect`s Batman obsession that you
referred to. And he had dyed hair, called himself the joker during the
arrest. He had a Batman poster and mask and other items in his apartment.
As you put these things together, how does the accumulating profile, how
does that become important toward the prosecution and really toward
unraveling what may have happened here?

VAN ZANDT: Well, the prosecution has got a ton of evidence, as you
know, Al. The question is not who did it. The question seems to be to all
of us, why did he do it? And of course you and your audience are sitting
there with not only the benefit of 20/20 hindsight by watching this, but
also we`re all reasonably sound, mentally sound and we`re looking at the
actions and say that`s got to be a madman. And my answer is not
necessarily so.

I mean, this guy, number one, he`s very bright. Number two, he had
the ability, I believe, to copy the actions of that terrible situation just
a year ago yesterday in Norway where we had a diversionary explosive device
set by the killer and then he moved to another location and committed a
mass murder. I think, I think we find that guy follow that kind of a
record book or follow that diagram how to do it.

But again, he knew what he was doing. He took months to assemble the
implements to put it together. People saw him out and about town and said,
you know, he is some guy ran into him at a bar and said he looked OK. So
just because someone has some mental, emotional challenge doesn`t mean
they`re crazy. Doesn`t mean they can`t put together what to me, Al, is one
of the most complex mass murder situations we`ve seen in this country.

SHARPTON: Yes. You`re right. Well, Clint Van Zandt and Dave Cullen,
thank you for your time.

VAN ZANDT: Thank you very much.

CULLEN: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, the heroes of this tragedy. We heard one
dramatic story from the president last night, and there are many, many
more.

But first, one lawmaker is calling out political bullies who are
trying to silence a debate this country desperately needs to have.

And our one-on-one live interview with Elizabeth Warren. She`s
fighting for the middle class and helping to make fairness the issue in
this election.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Folks, have you checked us out on Facebook? The "Politics
Nation" conversation is going all day long. Our Facebook community has
lots of interest in the Colorado tragedy.

Samantha says quote, "for something that`s supposed to keep us safe,
firearms sure are used to kill a lot of innocent people."

And Mace praise the president`s handling of the shooting, quote, "even
in tragedy, he can make people feel a little better."

We`ll have much more on the issue of gun control ahead. But the other
topic getting attention on our page is a new report showing poverty is on
the rise.

Diane says "too many people feel it`s an honorable thing to help poor
people around the world, but it is socialism to help them in your own
country."

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

We hope to see you there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Police say James Holmes was able to head into a packed
movie theater with an assault rifle, two handguns, and a shotgun. Holmes
was allegedly able to go online and stockpile 3,000 rounds of handgun
ammunition, 3,000 rounds for an assault rifle, 350 shells for a 12 gauge
shotgun, and a magazine capable of firing 50 to 60 rounds a minute. He did
all of this with a click on the internet without any sort of background
check.

More restrictive laws may have allegedly stopped Holmes from allegedly
killing 12 people. But what is certain is the statistics on fatalities
aren`t budging. The number of mass shootings in the United States
averaging 20 per year has remained relatively stable over decades.

And according to the FBI, the number of annual gun homicides since
2002, has stayed about the same, about 10,000. Would new gun legislation
help bring these numbers down and why isn`t Congress doing anything to
enforce new laws. One congressman voiced his worry today on the house
floor today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. EARL BLUMENAUER (D), OREGON: What is as appalling as the loss of
life is the fact that we not only refuse to do anything about it but we
allow political bullies to intimidate us from even researching if the fact.
I find it appalling that we as citizens have enabled Congress to act in a
spineless fashion to be taken over by the NRA. That we refuse to deal with
something that has law enforcement implications so that we alone in the
developed world are most at risk for random gun violence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now is that congressman, Earl Blumenauer,
Democrat from Oregon.

Congressman first of all, thanks for being here tonight.

BLUMENAUER: My pleasure.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you, what would stop these mass killings from
happening again in your view?

BLUMENAUER: Well, as you stated, Al, we`ve had a series of these that
have gone on year after year. But the point is we don`t do anything to
make it harder. We`ve had legislation in the aftermath of events in the
past that president Kennedy`s assassination. We`ve had an assault weapon
ban. But basically over the past 20 years, we`ve basically given up. And
I think that`s unfortunate.

It`s reached the point where the NRA has actually colluded with some
of its allies in Congress that it`s illegal for the federal government to
collect the information to be able to analyst it, to study it. We have
these people actually arguing that we ought to keep people who are on the
terrorist list that we don`t want them to fly, that they can purchase
handguns legally. It`s absurd and ultimately we`re going to have to face
it if we`re ever going to change it.

SHARPTON: Now, you used strong language today, political bullies,
spineless. And you went after the NRA. When we look at the NRA and
they`ve poured millions of dollars into lobbying efforts since 1999. In
1999 they spent $1.6 million in lobbying all the way to last year, 2011
they spend $2,905,000 in lobbying.

Is it the lobbying dollars and the amount of money they put in? Is it
their leverage over grading members of congress? What is it you feel the
NRA is doing that has such influence?

BLUMENAUER: The lobbying is just the tip of the iceberg. They spend
millions of dollars targeted on campaigns and they are very effective at
just making stuff up. You heard one of the leaders of the NRA recently
proclaiming that President Obama has a secret plan to take away America`s
guns in a second term. It`s absolutely hogwash.

But they have the big lie. They focus campaign contradictions. They
do lobbying. And it`s reached a point where it is paralytic in terms of
begin able to move things forward. It`s -- from my vantage point, however,
what`s important is that they are so extreme they`re out of touch with the
majority of their own members.

And one of the things I said on the floor, the majority of their
members do not agree, for example, with allowing people on the terrorist no
fly zone -- no fly list to be able to purchase handguns. A majority of gun
owners support closing the gun show loophole.

Things like -- you mentioned that his gentleman, the alleged shooter,
had a magazine that would hold 100 rounds of ammunition for this
essentially machine gun. If it hadn`t jammed, we`d probably be looking at
far more carnage.

Cop killer bullets. Most NRA members as well as most Americans don`t
think that those ought to be freely available to buy like tic-tacs. We are
although, I think in this together, Americans I`m afraid have gotten a
little numb to this. And after a week or two we sort of move on. And all
of us have a stake in making sure we deal with this realistically.

SHARPTON: But why does Congress move on? How do we break this? How
do we end this cycle of just reacting for a couple of weeks and then moving
on. And even the Congress moves on.

BLUMENAUER: Yes. Well, part of the problem is that because of the
collapse of the legislative process in the Senate where you can`t even
enact simple things anymore without 60 votes, it`s essentially impossible
at this point to go forward. And I don`t blame the president for not
talking about gun safety legislation at this point. We ought to be focused
on the victims. We ought to be making sure we try to heal from this
tragedy. But I will tell you that if people launched somehow in areas of
gun safety, there would have been an avalanche of advertising of bitter
rhetoric that would have drowned out this.

I think it`s something that we all need to be focusing on as an order
of priority. Deal with it in part as a public safety and health issue. Do
the research. Deal with the simple common sense things like the cop killer
bullets, the gun show loophole. Start a little progression of progress and
maybe, just maybe, other pieces will fall in place.

But, it`s not acceptable I think to ignore it, to walk away. And God
forbid that we accept this as the established order of things because this
doesn`t happen in any other civilized country.

SHARPTON: Congressman Blumenauer, first of all, let me thank you for
speaking up on this and give you your props. We are thinking of having a
segment on "Politics Nation" giving you props. You would win this today
for speaking out.

Thanks for your time tonight.

BLUMENAUER: My pleasure. Thanks for talking about it.

SHARPTON: Ahead, coming up, Elizabeth Warren on taking on Scott Brown
and the big banks. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back on POLITICS NATION with important birthday news.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau turned one over the weekend.
Happy birthday to you, baby agency that looks out for all of us. The
federal agency was set up after the market crashed to promote fairness and
transparency by reining in Wall Street banks and protecting consumers.

Harvard Professor Elizabeth Warren came up with the idea and setting
it up made her a star in the fight against Wall Street greed and speeches
like this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS SENATE CANDIDATE: There is nobody
in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory and
it turned into something terrific or a great idea. God bless. Keep a big
hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk
of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Those words put Elizabeth Warren at the front in the
fairness fight for fairness in this country. But the Romney campaign is
using those words in a deceitful, highly edited ad. The ad has been
repeatedly debunked as an unoriginal Obama quote taken out of context. But
now Senator Scott Brown in a race against Warren has released his own
version. Pairing Elizabeth Warren with President Obama and painting her as
an enemy of free enterprise.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: Because if you`ve got a
business, you didn`t build that. Somebody else made that happen.

WARREN: There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own.
Nobody.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I will never demonize you as business leaders and
business owners. That work you do were the opportunities that you create.
Because I think we should not be blaming you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now is Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth
Warren. Thanks so much for coming on the show today.

WARREN: Thank you for having me. It`s always good to be here.

SHARPTON: Now, how do you respond to this new ad from Senator Brown?

WARREN: You know, this is just one more attempt not to talk about the
central issues. But the way I look at this, I love little businesses. My
daughter started a small business. My brother started a small business.
My Aunt Alice started a small business. I worked in it when I was a
teenager. This is really about a basic question of fairness. And that is
when big businesses really make it big, should they get the special tax
breaks so that they don`t have to make the contributions to help support
all of the basic infrastructure?

You know, the roads, and the bridges, and the schools and all those
pieces. The basic infrastructure that lets the next kid make it big and
the next kid after that and the next kid after that. You know, the way I
see this, this is really about a basic question of how we build our future.
The Republicans have given their vision of how you build your future.
They`ve said, I got mine. The rest, now you`re on your own. Our vision of
how you build a future is that you make the investments forward so every
kid has a chance. That`s what this is really about.

SHARPTON: Now, since this is the first birthday of the Consumer
Protection Bureau, let`s look at your opponent, let`s look at some of his
top donors. Fidelity Investments gave $168,225 to his campaign. Goldman
Sachs $74,000. JP Morgan and Chase, over 60,000. Barclays over 40,000.
What does this say about Senator Brown`s campaign to you, Ms. Warren?

WARREN: Well, you know, let`s be clear. Senator Brown has already
been named one of Wall Street`s favorite senators. And there`s a reason
for that. It`s because he`s been out there delivering for Wall Street.
You know, he`s the one. He`s delivered for big oil. Protecting subsidies
for some of the richest companies in the country. He`s been out there
saying in terms of taxes that those who make it big billionaires should be
taxed at a rate lower than their secretaries.

You know, this really is a question as I see it as whose side you
stand on. And Senator Brown has made it clear. He stands with Wall
Street, he stands with big oil. He stands with some of the richest
corporations in the country. Me? I figure they`ve already got enough
representation of Washington. What I`m doing is out there fighting for
families, fighting for regular folks every day.

I don`t want to see them get tricked on credit cards and mortgages. I
want to see education available to all our kids. I want to see the
investments that we make in roads and bridges and schools so that everybody
has an opportunity going forward. It`s just two very different visions of
the kind of future and what we think that government is there to help us
build.

SHARPTON: Now, it`s not only Wall Street money and I might note here
that we have invited Senator Brown to come on many times and we`re very
open to him at any point accepting to come on here. But also let`s look at
his PAC contributions for the 2012 cycle and this race in Massachusetts.
Scott Brown has received a little under $2 million, $1.9 million. While
you`ve received about 440,000 or maybe a little over 440,000.

Now, Senator Brown`s PACs have raised four and a half times what you
have. But then let`s take a look at this. If you look at the PACs, four-
and-a-half times more than you. But then let`s look at contributions under
$200. In that area, Scott Brown has received $13.9 million from
individuals. You`ve received more than $23.8 million.

And 56 percent of your individual donations have come from households
that have given less than $250. Lot of this is coming from states other
than Massachusetts. Why is this race energizing people in other states to
send money to you? And why are you far outdistancing him with small
contributions?

WARREN: Well, I think it`s because of this question of whose side you
stand on. And people get this. You know, there are lots of folks who are
willing to go to Washington including Scott Brown to stand up for the
special interest, to stand up for those who`ve already made it.

For me, I`m not a lifetime politician. As you know, Reverend Al, I
got into this because I really am driven to keep working on what I`ve been
working on which is out there for families, for individuals, for the people
who`ve been drawing the short end of the stick time after time after time.
They`ve got to have more voices in Washington. And all they`re really
asking for is a level playing field. Just a real chance to get out there
and show what they can do.

But they can`t do it when the game is rigged against them. So for me,
that`s why I`m in this race and how I see it is lots and lots of people
here in the commonwealth of Massachusetts and across the country have said,
I want to be part of that. I want to join that. You know, I will say
right here in Massachusetts, Reverend Al, we`ve had more than 40,000 people
who`ve said I want to make a contribution.

They`ve made contributions on average of more than half. Twenty five
dollars or less. These are folks who don`t have a lot of money but they`re
part of this race. And that`s what really matters. This isn`t my
campaign. This is our campaign. This is a campaign of a lot of people
working together saying, we`re going to take back our government.

SHARPTON: Let me -- before I let you go, I must raise this question.
A new survey by the Associated Press showed that based on the 2011 census,
the United States poverty level is at 15.7 percent. The highest level
since 1965. Now, is this the time for us to talk about eliminating the
safety net or moving back the safety net that a lot of the GOP platform is
running on this year?

WARREN: Reverend Al, it is not the time to be doing that. In fact,
let`s just talk for one minute about the question in this race. This is
about how we build a future, what our vision is of how we build a future.
And, you know, I take a lot of my lessons from back during the great
depression. Really hard time for America. And how did we build a future?
We`ve decided to make the investments in ourselves and in our children and
in our grandchildren. We invested in education.

We invested in roads and bridges and power and created all the
conditions to have opportunities for our kids. And for 50 years that`s
what we did. And we were doing better. We were pulling people out of
poverty. And now the Republicans have been driving us in a different
direction. They`ve said no. The job of government is to protect those
who`ve already made it. Not help us make investments for the future.
We`ve got to stop that, Reverend Al. That`s not the direction this country
should go.

SHARPTON: I`m going to have to leave it there. Massachusetts Senate
candidate Elizabeth Warren. Thank you for your time and good luck in your
race.

WARREN: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, new focus on Mitt Romney`s vision for America in
the world. Is he following the Bush/Cheney model of foreign policy?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Today, President Obama had some tough words for Mitt
Romney`s foreign policy. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back with President Obama making a big push to win
over America`s veterans today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: And with a million more troops rejoining civilian life in the
years ahead and looking for work, we`ve got to step up our game at every
stage of the careers. So, today, I`m announcing a major overhaul of our
transition assistance program. We`ll going to set up a kind of reverse
boot camp.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The President`s speech comes as Mitt Romney gets ready for
his first overseas trip since clinching the nomination. Romney`s itinerary
includes a stop at the London Olympics, Israel, and Poland. Romney seems
to be taking his foreign policy approach straight from the George Bush
playbook. Seventeen out of 24 of his foreign policy advisers are Bush era
throwbacks.

Joining me now is MSNBC political analyst David Corn. He`s the
Washington Bureau Chief for "Mother Jones" and author of "Showdown." And
Jon Soltz, an Iraq war veteran and chairman of vote Vets.org. Thanks to
both of you for being with me tonight.

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure thing.

SHARPTON: David, no doubt that foreign policy is not to hide but an
issue of the campaign like the economy or jobs. But he sure seems that
Romney would like to repeat a lot of Bush era policies.

CORN: Yes. I have to say, I`m a little puzzled by this. As you know
most of his advisers come out of these Bush years. Lot of them are sort of
the extreme neocons of the Bush/Cheney years. People like John Bolton.
These are the guys who`ve got us to war in Iraq without really figuring
what to do afterwards. And got us there under false pretenses. They
neglected the effort in Afghanistan.

And by the way, I think most Americans looking back at the W years, I
should say the Bush/Cheney years do not have fond memories of the foreign
policy of those days. And here we have this campaign where there are about
five or six percent undecided voters. So, I don`t understand why Mitt
Romney thinks playing to the far neoconnist famous wing of the Republican
Party gets him a lot of votes.

Only then he`s trying to be the anti-Obama. If Obama in s in favor of
bringing troops home from Iraq, he`s against it. If he`s in-favor of
winding down the war on Afghanistan, Romney is against it. And that seems
to be the basis of his foreign policy which he won`t outline in details.

SHARPTON: Now Jon, you`re a veteran. Today, the President was really
tough on Romney`s foreign policy approach. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I pledged to end the war in Iraq honorably. And that`s what
we`ve done. And some said that bringing our troops home last year was a
mistake. They would have kept tens of thousands of our forces in Iraq
indefinitely without a clear mission. Well, when your commander in chief,
you owe the troops a plan. You owe the country a plan. And that includes
recognizing not just when to begin wars but also how to end them. Today,
there are no Americans fighting in Iraq and we are proud of all the
Americans who served there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Jon, as a veteran we need a plan he`s saying for Mr.
Romney. How do you react to what the President is saying?

JON SOLTZ, CHAIRMAN, VOTEVETS.ORG: In regards to the Iraq piece,
obviously, I like the comment on that considering I was there last year.
And I was an adviser and I was there at the very end. And it was a real
debate on the ground. I mean, it`s true that Governor Romney has Bush
supporters and Bush senior foreign policy people in his campaign. He was
very, very unsupportive of the concept of us getting out of Iraq despite
the fact that we didn`t have diplomatic immunity.

So, I think it`s fair to say under the Romney plan that they were
willing to keep U.S. troops in Iraq that didn`t enjoy diplomatic immunity.
Essentially, U.S. troops could have been tried by Iraqi courts. And I
think that the President has a right to hammer Governor Romney on that. I
mean, do we really want to see American troops being prosecuted by Iraqis?
Subject to Iraqi law? I think, that`s really the fallout that happened
between the Iraqi government. And our President said, you know, what?
We`re not going to leave our troops there being more commended in the peace
and prosperity of the foreign country without immunity.

I think in regards to Afghanistan, I just don`t know why he`s not
going there. I mean, he`s going to be the commander in chief. There are
100,000 U.S. troops on the ground. There`s actually a lot of political
space for Romney to sort of support a, you know, an older form of
conservative foreign policy. I mean, the President has a timeline in
Afghanistan to pull troops out. But really that`s not going to be to the
end of 2014.

This country is overwhelmingly against the counterinsurgency strategy
we have in Afghanistan. And rather than Governor Romney going off of the
Dwight Eisenhower classic conservatism republican foreign policy, he`s
chosen the neocon form of George Bush which is let`s kill all the Taliban
and defeat them militarily and even our -- on the ground don`t think that`s
doable.

SHARPTON: Well, Jon, help me out here. Why do you think he`s not
going to Iraq or Afghanistan in this trip?

SOLTZ: Yes. I don`t know. I mean, I think he should. I think, you
know, the people around him, he wants to go to Poland and drum up this
missile defense stuff. I mean, that`s where the contracts are at. They
love to talk about this high-end weapon systems that cost a lot of money.
I can`t answer why he`s not going to Afghanistan. It makes no fundamental
understanding to me.

CORN: But there is a good reason why he`s not going to Afghanistan.
That is because he doesn`t have --

SHARPTON: All right. David, give me your reason.

CORN: He doesn`t have a clear position on it. And he`d be asked what
your position is. You know, the war is very unpopular. You know, the
President is trying to, you know, basically wind it down, slower than I
think that American public opinion would like, certainly slower than a lot
of people in the Democratic Party would like to see. And, you know, Romney
is there, yes, he`s said five different things about this over the last
year.

But his current position seems to be to stay in there as long as it
takes without defining what the "it" is. And so, listen, this guy doesn`t
talk very convincingly about foreign policy. If he was asked again and
again and again what your policy is in Afghanistan, I think the trip would
be a failure. So, he`s avoiding it for an obvious reason.

SOLTZ: And the neoconservative position that Romney is pushing in
Afghanistan which is, no timeline and actually add troops to what the
President`s sports package is, is less popular than the President`s. And I
guess, my argument is, the classic conservative, you know, throughout the
years before the neocons -- over the Republican Party was less
intervention, was not nation building. These were the arguments that were
made against Al Gore in 2000 by George W. Bush when he ran for president.

I was in Cosmo (ph) at the time, we had one combat.

SHARPTON: Right.

SOLTZ: .in the ground. And, you know, George Bush said our military
was overextended and spread too thin. So, the neocons have hijacked the
Republican Party and made it the intervention as nation building party that
spends tremendous amount of tax dollars overseas. And it`s unfortunate I
guess for the true conservatives out there because there is actually a
space on the President`s left here to take a position that we should have a
more rapid withdrawal of Afghanistan than what the President is proposing.

SHARPTON: I`m going to have to leave it there, Jon. Thank you Jon
Soltz, David Corn. Certainly, we`ll be watching the trip and watching for
the "it."

Up next, answering the call in the midst of tragedy.

SOLTZ: Excellent.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Finally tonight, the courageous acts of the first
responders in Colorado shootings. Aurora police officers and firefighters
were on hand within 90 seconds of the first emergency calls. Ninety
seconds. And the heroic acts prevented this nightmare from becoming even
worse. But maybe the best way to understand the brave actions is to listen
to some of the incredible and heart breaking work they did that night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DISPATCHER: We just are having units get to the scene now. There may
still be somebody actively shooting.

OFFICER: I got people running out of the theater that are shot.

OFFICER: Do we have gas masks available?

OFFICER: I need at least three or four ambulances brought in here.

OFFICER: The suspect in a gas mask.

OFFICER: I have three parties shot over here.

OFFICER: Set up a perimeter around the entire mall.

OFFICER: We need to start putting them in cars and shuttling them
out.

OFFICER: We need rescue inside the auditorium. Multiple victims.

OFFICER: I need many ambulances as we can do the Dillard`s lot.

OFFICER: I got seven down in theater nine.

OFFICER: One of the shooters might be wearing a white and blue plaid
shirt.

OFFICER: I`ve got a child victim, I need rescue to the back door of
theater nine now.

OFFICER: We`re going to evacuate all we can out of nine to the East
Side.

OFFICER: We have a magazine down inside. So, we need to watch out
for the assault rifle.

OFFICER: I got a whole bunch of people shot out here.

OFFICER: Just notify all the hospitals. We got people coming in.

OFFICER: If they are mobile, get them outside. We have a few that
are not mobile. We need a rescue crew in here right away.

OFFICER: Cruiser six is taking two more victims.

OFFICER: Come back for more. I got two here that need treated right
away.

DISPATCHER: We do have more ambulances from outside the city coming
in too.

OFFICER: Suspect is going to be male. Unknown race, black camo-type
outfit.

OFFICER: I want no cars leaving this lot.

OFFICER: We`re in a mass casualty situation at this time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: These people are true heroes. I love our government
workers. When an individual government worker or policeman does wrong, I
call them out. But I love the fact that they`re the heroes. They`re the
ones we all depend on. And in this political year, let us not have first
responders sacrificed on the altar of political expediency from either side
of the aisle in any one of us.

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

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

<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2012 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Transcription Copyright 2012 ASC LLC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is
granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not
reproduce or redistribute the material except for user`s personal or
internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall
user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may
infringe upon MSNBC and ASC LLC`s copyright or other proprietary rights or
interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of
litigation.>




Sponsored links

Resource guide