Guests: Dana Milbank; Mark Potok, Frederica Wilson, Victor Curry, Spike
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST, POLITICS NATION: Welcome to
"Politics Nation." I`m Al Sharpton live tonight from Miami.
We begin tonight with a question. Where`s Sarah Palin? The GOP lined
up lots of speakers important the Republican national convention. Today
Rick Santorum was added do the list. And so was tea party favorite senator
Rand Paul. Both come on the heels of yesterday`s big get governor Rick "36
percent approval" Scott. Huh? But still no word on if Sarah Palin will
Could it be that governor Romney just doesn`t like her all that much,
that story ahead.
But there is someone else that hasn`t made the speaker`s list yet,
someone who could be tapped as Mr. Romney`s VP. I`m talking about
Congressman Paul Ryan. The man who embodies unfairness and his budget
literally take from the poor and middle class to give to the rich.
Mr. Romney has fully signed on to that fair logic and President Obama
slammed that thinking last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He asked the middle
class to pay more in taxes so he could give another $250,000 tax cut to
people making more than $3 million a year. It is like Robin Hood in
reverse. It is Romney-hood.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Romney-hood. Nothing embodies Romney hood more than Ryan`s
plan. To pay for massive tax breaks, it plunders our seniors, turns
Medicare into voucher programs, raises the eligibility age to 67, and makes
seniors pay $6400 more for their coverage. This is Romney hood. This is
what the election is going to boil down to.
The main Obama super PAC is going to the Ryan budget, a central
discussion in this election. And Republicans wanted it to be central, too,
really? Don`t ask me. Ask them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Endorsed the Ryan plan. All the Republicans in
the house and Senate voted for it. I prefer to have Paul Ryan defending
that plan and go on the offensive and have Mitt Romney say damn right
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Damn right. You want to defend gutting our seniors to pay
for the rich? Maybe they do. Mr. Romney certainly loves Congressman
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I applaud it. It is an
excellent piece of work and -- very much need.
I spent a good deal of time with Congressman Ryan when his plan came
out I applauded it as a very important step.
This is a guy that`s willing to stand for something.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: What Paul Ryan stands for is a system where the top one
percent thrives at the expense of everyone else at the expense of the poor
and the expense of our seniors. That sort of topped down economics is a
tough sell. And President Obama made that point last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: If this sounds like an idea that`s difficult to explain or
sell to the American people, you would be right. So there are all kinds of
different gymnastics being perfect formed by the Romney campaign last week.
They have tried to sell us this trickle-down tax fairy dust before. And
guess what, it does not work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Don`t be fooled by the fairy dust because what Mr. Romney
and Mr. Ryan are selling is a might mayor.
Joining me now is Joan Walsh, editor-at-large with salon.com and
political analyst for MSNBC, and Dana Milbank, columnist for "the
Thank you both, for being here this evening.
DANA MILBANK, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Hello,
JOAN WALSH, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, SALON.COM: Thanks Reverend Al.
SHARPTON: Joan, let me start with you. There is a lot of talk about Bain
and offshoring. But ultimately, ultimately, do you think that this election
will come down to the Ryan/Romney plan and fairness?
WALSH: I think it will be very significant, Reverend Al. And I think
that, you know, the idea that Paul Ryan would make a good vice president,
bring it on. I would love to see those two campaigning side-by-side. They
are two of the most robotic, uncharismatic and unsympathetic Americans I
SHARPTON: You said acrobatic. Did you say acrobatic?
WALSH: No. Uncharismatic and robotic.
SHARPTON: All right.
WALSH: Charles Pierce of the "Esquire" call Paul Ryan the zombie eye
that granny sober. Now, that`s mean. I didn`t say that.
WALSH: But Paul Ryan is really a zealot. He really thinks he can
sell this budget. He doesn`t think seniors are going to pick up on how
much t cost them. He really wants to make the election about the so-called
takers versus the makers, not realizing that a lot of the Republican base
is actually on the takers` side.
And so, I say, bring it on. If everything that is in his budget, the
expense in the Ryan budget is exactly what Mitt Romney does want to do.
You know, he told us. We are going to talk about his budget in quiet
rooms. He`s not going to make the mistake of telling us what he would cut.
But Paul Ryan does tell us what he would cut. So this is a terrific
blueprint for a political debate around fairness and I think it is a debate
President Obama wins.
SHARPTON: Fairness. We are talking about the politics of fairness.
Let me ask you, Dana, today the Romney campaign and Mr. Romney
launched an offensive against President Obama on the issue of welfare. He
launched an ad and he also talked about it repeatedly today. Take a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: His perspective is that more and more people ought to have
the capacity to be part of the welfare system and they shouldn`t have to
have the work requirement president Clinton or Republicans put in place
some years ago.
That is wrong and if I`m president I will put work back in welfare.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, Dana, I`m confused because it just doesn`t add up.
Because Romney - well, the Obama administration, let me show you what he
says. The Obama administration did not remove requirements, simply allowed
states more flexibility and administering their programs. This is what
President Obama has said that they want to have.
The reason that`s confusing, even more so, is that in 2005, he, Mr.
Romney, was one of 29 GOP governors who signed a letter asking for the same
waiver program he`s now criticizing. The letter said increased waiver
authority and the ability to coordinate state programs all important
aspects of moving aspects of moving recipients from welfare to work. So he
is slamming the president forgiving states waivers or dealing with states
needing waivers when he in fact joined 28 other governors in requesting the
exact same thing in 2005.
MILBANK: You know, Reverend, I don`t think that Mitt Romney needs to
run with Paul Ryan to earn the Romney hood label. I mean, think about it.
Obama says this last night. What do we have? We have Romney in Chicago
today saying let`s crack down on welfare, more -- you know, make sure those
are really stiff work requirements. Then he turns around and goes to two
The first people pitting up to $50,000 to get into and second one
people are paying up to $75,000 to get into. So, he`s basically
illustrated the point from right there. So, I don`t think you need Paul
Ryan himself to be on the ticket to illustrate that stark difference
between the two candidates here. That would, as Joan said, I think, help
people clarify things in a very easy way. But it is an awfully stark
choice to begin with.
SHARPTON: Joan, on the contrast of attacking welfare and going to
these huge fund-raisers, that`s certainly the op-ed are clearly badly
advised. But aside from optics which we are all noted Mr. Romney has not
mastered -- plenty of hypocrisy here. I mean the consistent flip-flopping.
Is this not another form of blatant hypocrisy to come out and blast
President Obama on something that you yourself signed and requested as
governor of Massachusetts in 2005?
WALSH: Well, there he goes again, Reverend Al. You know, the thing
is, he`s -- we talked about this. He is in the Mitt-ness protection
program. He was never governor of Massachusetts. It did not happen.
So everything that you try to blame on him for his tenure there, like
Obamney care, like the individual mandate like the penalty if you don`t
pay, et cetera, he didn`t do it because he wasn`t governor.
So once again, we have a situation where he`s just refusing to run on
his record as governor and he`s -- he`s also slurring and sliming this
president and really in traditional Republican ways. I mean, let`s just
say it. Welfare is a code for some other words.
And, again, it is back to the makers versus the takers. We had Newt
Gingrich calling President Obama the food stamp president. We know what
those words mean. We know that -- they are trying to gin up the notion
that this president is the guy who is giving handouts to parasites. When,
in fact, Mitt Romney is the one that wants to give handouts to well
parasites and give them more of a share of our nation`s wealth.
But it`s just -- it is shocking but it is not shocking. How many
times can we sit here and be outraged by Mitt Romney running against
something he did in Massachusetts? He will not own it.
SHARPTON: But now it is getting down to it, Dana, because I think
Joan just touched it. Giving out welfare to pair sites, food stamp
president while, in fact, you really hurt in the middle class and giving
out subsidies to the rich or tax breaks to be the rich.
Isn`t what this campaign really coming down to in term of fairness
that we are going to give the rich a break while we demonize the poor and
we charge it to the middle class? Isn`t this really what we are looking
MILBANK: Yes, Reverend. I don`t think you have to be the sheriff of
Nottingham to figure out exactly what is going on here. And that`s why in
that sense, Mitt Romney would be doing everybody a favor by making it
official and having Paul Ryan on the ticket. He doesn`t need to do that.
By doing that, he`s -- tied himself more closely than he already has
to those policies and I think that would give the sort of choice that both
sides are talking about. But I think Bill Kristol in asking for that is
exactly right. That would clarify things for everybody and let people make
SHARPTON: Joan Walsh and Dana Milbank, thank you both for your time
MILBANK: Thanks, Rev.
WALSH: Thanks, Rev.
SHARPTON: Ahead, NRA is raising funds on gun violence with a
fantasyland threat that President Obama is taking your guns away.
Plus, remember Florida? Who can forget the hanging Chad? But what`s
going on here in Florida right now is worse than before because it is
And this round goes to Sarah Palin. Dick Cheney blinks after calling
the Palin pick a mistake. Is she about to make life harder for Mitt
And Spike Lee joins us live to talk politics, movies and more.
You are watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.
SHARPTON: Folks, have you checked us out on facebook yet? The
conversation is going all day long. Today our community was all over the
president`s Romney hood comment.
Bruce says it is not just reverse Robin Hood quote, "the entire
Republican party is in reverse. I mean, it is rob-me-hood."
This new photo of Gabby Douglas competing in London is a big topic,
Marla says, even if she doesn`t win another medal in London, she has
already had some great achievements. I so admire how she is handling all
of this pressure and scrutiny. Go, Gabby!
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.
SHARPTON: This afternoon in Tucson, Arizona, Jared Lee Loughner pled
guilty to killing six people and shooting 13 others, including
congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
And in Colorado, Aurora schools reopened today. Two and a half weeks
after a gunman opened fire in a movie theater there leaving 12 people dead
and wounding 58 others.
Meantime and we are learning much more about the white supremacist who
walked into a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and shot six people dead two days
ago. These are the stories dominating the headlines this latest shooting
in Wisconsin has raised, again, the issue of home-grown terrorists. It
isn`t a new phenomenon.
In April of 2009, the department of homeland security released this
report on right-wing extremism which warned, quote, "the economic downturn
and the election of the first African-American president present unique
drivers for right-wing radicalization and recruitment." Republicans
eviscerated the department and Secretary Janet Napolitano claiming right
wing extremism was a bunch of liberal bigotry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Disagree with that liberal path
President Obama has taken down. You may soon catch the attention of the
department of homeland security.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is just nonsense. Find real bad guys. You
don`t need to make them up!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a radical, irresponsible condemnation of
legitimate political dissent which is terrifying.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of this stuff they talk about regarding these
right-wing groups has never come to fruition. There`s no real threat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Joining me now is Mark Potok, senior fellow at the southern
poverty law center. He is an expert on home-grown terrorists.
Mark, these mass killings by home-grown terrorists are becoming way
too common. What do you attribute them to?
MARK POTOK, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: Well, I think that the 2009
DHS report you referred to was really accurate. In fact it, although,
research completely independently very much mirrored our own findings. You
know, what`s going on out there is the country is changing racially, whites
are losing their majority, and that, of course is very much represented in
the person of Barack Obama.
So that combined with the very bad economy since the fall of 2008 has
resulted, you know in just an explosive growth of groups on the radical
right. And I think that very obviously a real growth in domestic terrorism
as well, the attack on the Sikh temple near Milwaukee being the only latest
So, you know, that report was dead-on accurate. It was renounced by
Janet Napolitano in what I view as just a cowardly cave-in of you knows, to
the political right. You know. It is astounding. Some of those comments
that were made about the DHS report are absolutely false. It is as if
these people never actually read the report. It certainly did not portray
all conservatives as potential Timothy McVeigh as the political right
SHARPTON: Well, let`s go into what some of what the FBI said.
Here is how they described, let`s start here, right wing extremism.
2004 and these are -- this is all in the report. 2004, it sounds a lot
like the Sikh temple shooting. Quote, "right wing extremists adhere to a
variety of ideologies but commonly espoused some form of anti-government
sentiment and/or racist philosophies. Right wing terrorist poses
significant threat due to their propensity for violence. Many groups
increased their rhetoric and recruitment efforts since September 11." This
In the report in 2007, the FBI reported the danger of lone individuals
carrying out acts of suicide terrorism. Quote, "it says, the threat of
suicide terrorism derives less from groups engages in coordinated well-
orchestrated campaigns of violence and more from individuals acting alone
upon the messages of hate espoused by these groups. And that`s beginning
to look like what we are seeing in Wisconsin.
POTOK: I think that`s absolutely what we are seeing in response in
You know, it is class pick lone-Wolf terrorism. And that is the
reason why it is so very difficult to stop these kinds of attacks. The
reality is that`s what we see from the domestic radical right these days.
You know, these are not plots that are cooked up in the large rooms with
filled with lots of white men. These are typically acts that are
undertaken by a single individual on their own volition.
So, you know, the sad part of this whole story or one of the sad parts
of the story is I just don`t think there is anything that law enforcement
might have done to stop this shooter in Milwaukee.
When a person on their own decides to attack a group of people and
doesn`t say anything about it to anyone it is almost impossible for law
enforcement or for groups like the southern poverty law center to pick up
that kind of a plot.
SHARPTON: But Mark, let me go to the southern poverty law center.
Your study says that these hate groups have grown every year. We are
dealing with the fact that there are clearly individuals that are
operating, there are groups and according to the southern poverty law
center, you guys are reporting they have grown.
In 2000 there were 602 hate groups and in 2011 there will be 1018. Is
it these conditions and the election of President Obama that is helping to
grow these groups in your opinion?
POTOK: Yes. It is. The short answer is yes. It is not only hate
groups, it is also and this is where we are seeing the most explosive
growth. It is the growth of militias. The groups we saw so many of back
in the 1990s. And there the growth has been unbelievable.
And in 2008, there were 149 of these groups. Then Barack Obama
appeared on the scene and that November was elected. In 2009, all of a
sudden we had 512 of these groups. 2008, 824 - I`m sorry, 2010. And then
last year, 1274.
So we are seeing just enormous expansion of these groups, you know, at
a rate we simply have never seen in the past before.
SHARPTON: Mark Potok. Thanks for your time tonight.
One note, we are learning today that the National Rifle Association is
trying to raise money off the shootings in Colorado.
Bloomberg is reporting that NRA executive vice president Wayne
Lapierre sent a fund-raising letter to NRA supporters, just three days
after the shooting in Colorado. The letter doesn`t mention the Colorado
shootings but Lapierre wrote supporters quote, "the future of your second
amendment rights will be at stake and nothing less than the future of our
country and our freedom will be at stake."
And the letter reportedly says that President Obama`s re-election
would result in the confiscation of our firearms and potentially ban on
Lapierre told supporters that if they contributed, quote, "the money
will be used for hundreds of thousands of TV and radio ads. And especially
in hand full of key swing states.
Now, that simply is amazing and totally, totally outrageous. Three
days after the Colorado shooting. We will be right back.
SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. Live tonight from Miami.
We have been reporting on the republican effort to block the vote. An
effort that`s in full force here in this crucial swing state. And in the
last two years, 19 states passed voter suppression laws. But Florida may
be the most crucial.
Republican Governor Rick Scott`s requiring photo IDs and purging voter
rolls. Last year he signed a controversial elections bill. It cut early
voting from 14 days to eight. Forced voters who have moved from county to
county to cash provisional ballots and it placed restrictions on voter
registration. A judge temporarily blocked those restrictions in May.
Folks, this is happening in Florida. The same Florida that gave us
hanging chads in 2000. And today, Florida`s election process is once again
in the national spotlight for all of the wrong reasons. So, I have come
here today with my organization National Action Network to inform voters
and engage volunteers about the laws. We must --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON -- Even if you win in court. There`s not of a question of do
we get the I.D. It`s not who we get the I.D. and fight. We know what they
are trying to do. The question is how we are going to rise to combat it.
And we cannot do it without coalescing and building together. We are
trying to configure the legacy of freedom fighters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: We must, we must start pushing back on these suppression
Joining me now is Congresswoman Frederica Wilson. Democrat from
Florida who attended the voting engagement tour and the bishop Victor
Curry, pastor of New Birth Baptist Church and president of National Action
Network Miami-Dade, here in Miami.
He is also with us tonight. I want to thank both of you for joining
me. Let me start with you, Congresswoman Wilson. What is going on in
Florida? It is so brazen, as I see it. What are you hearing from your
REP. FREDERICA WILSON (D), FLORIDA: Well, Reverend Al, this is truly
a crucial time in the history of Florida. Where 47 years after the voting
rights act has been passed, it passed yesterday. And here we are still
addressing the same issues. It is such a crucial time because we are
disenfranchising so many people. We are disenfranchising seniors,
students, poor people, and the elderly.
And as, we are so happy that you came to Miami to stand with Bishop
Curry and Bishop Curry, we are so happy that you took the torch to
establish the National Action Network in Miami. And we will be there with
you because we have got to come together to fight these voter suppression
laws that are causing people so much trauma and they are turning them away
from the polls. Because they do not have the appropriate identification.
SHARPTON: Now, Bishop Curry, you have one of the largest
congregations in the country. Certainly in Florida. And I heard you talk
about how they are targeting African-American seniors, list that the
congresswoman just gave. In fact, early voting in 2008 general election,
54 percent of African-Americans voted early. Now they are limiting voting
early. It is this you think -- directed at African-American?
BISHOP VICTOR CURRY, NEW BIRTH BAPTIST CHURCH: Of course. And as you
just mentioned, we have a mantra, souls to the polls. And it would be on
Sundays that after worship service, thousands of people would go and vote.
Well, the Governor has cut that in half. And Reverend Sharpton to everyone
else until we can win this on another level, we have to beat them at their
own game. If you give us eight days, they`ll going to take advantage of
the eight days and we`ll going to get souls to the polls.
We are not going to let this deter us, we`re not going to let this
dissuade us and sure we`ll not going to let this discourage us. Too many
people have suffered, bled and died for this right for us. So, we have got
to take advantage. Whatever they give us, played a hand that you have been
dealt. You give us eight days, we will make it work in eight days.
SHARPTON: Congresswoman, you have said to people to vote absentee, we
are going to fight on to turn the laws around. But at the same time, we
have to go get people their ID or get them to vote absentee. So, it would-
WILSON: Absolutely. You can either have a voter identification card
or an absentee ballot. Take your choice. We must make sure that everyone
goes to the polls and votes. Those are the choices in Florida. Florida
happens to be one of the easiest places to vote absentee. That came about
after they -- the Republicans found out that that is the way Republicans
like to vote. The Democrats have to get onboard.
So, we can either vote absentee or we can get the appropriate
identification from the appropriate sources. You must have one or the
other. You do not have an excuse. You do not have the luxury to stay
home. You have got to vote!
SHARPTON: Bishop Curry, people around the country need to know when
you make this charge about African-Americans, it was stunning to read a
deposition from former Florida Republican Chairman Jim Greer who said under
oath, quote, "Political consultants and staff were talking about voter
suppression and keeping blacks from voting." This is the former republican
chair of this state.
SHARPTON: Saying exactly what you are accusing them of have been
CURRY: Exactly. And I think what we need to do, again, we got to
beat them at their own game. We know what their tactics are. Bottom line
is, we are playing flag football while they are playing full contact. The
Democratic Party, the African-American churches, everyone, people who just
love this country. I think it is really anti-American to try to suppress
legitimate people from voting. There`s something seems to be wrong with
And every time, I see these people there, they have the American flag
behind them but their practices don`t speak the same way that they are --
that -- that their voices are speaking. I`m hoping and praying that people
of good will, Black, White, Latinos, people of good will, would see through
this facade and just said to the Republican Party, why don`t you win the
elections fair and square?
SHARPTON: Congresswoman, even some Republicans have expressed some
doubt about this. Former Florida Governor Charlie Kris on "Andrea
Mitchell`s" show two weeks ago said this about voter suppression. He says,
in Florida, we have a history of having some pretty close election.
I think everybody remembers 2000 how close that was, so every single
voters that it matters and the notion and idea of making it more difficult
to exercise this precious right that so many people have fought and died
for, for our fellow Americans and my fellow Floridians is just
unconscionable to me. This is a former republican governor questioning
WILSON: Well, this is -- this shows you how deep this. I grew up
during the civil rights movement. I know how hard it was. My daddy do --
grew up during the depression and he told us about the poll tax and how
when you went to the polls they would ask you how many bubbles are in a bar
of soap. Crazy questions like that. So, we have come full circle back to
the same kind of crucial points in our history.
And we have got to overcome that. We`ve got to make sure that we
vote. We have a president who needs a second term. Someone who is
fighting for the working class and the middle class. Someone who is making
sure that everyone has health care. I call it Obamacares. He cares about
all of us. He cares about me. He cares about you. Republicans,
Democrats, Independents. Vote.
SHARPTON: Bishop Curry, I have got to go but I think that you made
it clear to your congregation and others working with you, even if you
don`t vote for people we may choose, we have to protect the vote.
CURRY: That is our goal and objective. Protect the vote.
SHARPTON: All right. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, Bishop Victor
Curry, thanks for your time tonight to both of you. Ahead --
WILSON: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Sarah Palin makes Dick Cheney blink. So why is Mitt
Romney ignoring her?
All that, plus Spike Lee joins us live to talk politics, movies, and
more. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: We are back with a pause from the political battles of the
day. A time to rest. Relax. Recharge. That`s right. It is time for the
POLITICS NATION summer break.
We start tonight in India where things aren`t all they are cracked up
to be. This man is trying to break the world record on how many eggs he
can crack in a minute with his chin. Look at him go. He makes it look
over easy. He`s got egg on his face. Literally. He smashed his way into
the record books breaking one in 50 eggs in 60 seconds.
Now, over to Pakistan for a jaw-dropping political debate on live TV.
Check out the man in the middle. He was so busy chewing out the other guy,
that his teeth came out. He was really champing at the bit. But the last
move left him with a toothless argument. All bark and no bite. I guess
that`s what you get for mouthing off.
And finally to the Far East, to China, an innovative way to chop a
salad or fruit with playing cards. They are attempting a world record for
slicing cucumbers here. This real-life fruit ninja has deadly aim. Look
at them attack that watermelon. He slices, he dices. I bet Governor
Romney`s campaign ad editors are just green with envy. Wonder if Justice
Scalia can get his broccoli cut with cards.
And that`s today`s summer break.
SHARPTON: Welcome back. It has been 26 years since Director Spike
Lee burst on to the filmmaking scene with his comedy, "She`s Got to Have
It." He has been stirring things up ever since with his latest film "Red
Hook Summer" opening this month, Lee is back in Brooklyn with another slice
of life from the place where he grew up and whose story he continues to
Joining me now is director extraordinaire, Spike Lee. Spike, it`s
good to see you. Thanks for being here tonight.
SPIKE LEE, DIRECTOR, "RED HOOK SUMMER": Thank you. And I know why
you have to be in Florida. So, keep it up, baby.
SHARPTON: Yes, well let me ask you about that. I want to talk to
you about the film. But I`m down here in Florida to fight this voter
suppression efforts you have been watching and -- and helping to get
fairness. How do you assess where we are when we see voting laws changing
all of a sudden?
LEE: I have a few words for it, Rev. It`s skullduggery. It is the
okey-doke. You know, they are trying -- pull the bamboozle. The leaders
are astray. You know, you want to run amok. It is -- it is the okey-doke.
And you knew what happened the last time in Florida. So, there`s more
SHARPTON: All right. Now, let me ask you, you were there at the
convention in 2008. You and Grant Parker Mite (ph).
LEE: I was right there with you, baby.
SHARPTON: Yes. And you were -- the president even came to your
house. Did a fund-raiser recently earlier this year. Where do you think
the President is now in this election? You have been quoted as saying, it
is going to be tight, do you think people are going to come out, do you
think the President`s going to be successful? How do you handicap the race
LEE: Well, I think it is going to be tight because you see -- the
other guy is going to pull all type of tactics. And, you know, when you
start talking, using cold words like welfare and -- you know, Nixon`s call
out Willie Horton`s brother. You know, people get desperate. You know,
they are going to do whatever they want to do to win.
SHARPTON: Now, you -- I read somewhere that you met Mitt Romney once.
What do you think of him?
LEE: At the moment we met, he was not running for the president of
the United States of America. I was in Reagan Airport in Washington, D.C.
I was in line to buy something. He was -- I was like two, three people in
front of him in line. And we turned around and say hello, shook hands, and
that was it.
SHARPTON: Do you think that the base of voters enthused yet or
there`s going to need to be more done to get them enthused?
LEE: No. I think that stuff is really not going to pick up, Rev.
In my opinion, until school starts. When the summer is over, that`s when
people are going to -- who have been asleep are going to wake up and say
you know what, I got -- I got to do this, I got to help. I think it is
going to -- it is going to be a -- a late arriving crowd.
SHARPTON: All right. That`s fair. Let me ask you, you are probably
one of the top filmmakers in American history.
LEE: Well, that`s debatable but go ahead, Rev.
SHARPTON: And you --
LEE: And thank you for that Brooklyn love.
SHARPTON: Yes, well, but it is true. You have done some sensational
movies, some classics. Now you are going back to Brooklyn.
LEE: Yes, sir.
SHARPTON: And I have seen the film that you have coming out later
this month --
LEE: Opens Friday, Friday, Friday.
SHARPTON: It`s coming out this Friday.
LEE: In New York.
SHARPTON: Tell me why you are going back to Brooklyn and what you
are trying to communicate with this film.
LEE: Well, Rev, I wouldn`t say I`m going back to Brooklyn because I
feel I have never left. Brooklyn, I was not born in Brooklyn. I was born
in Atlanta, Georgia. I moved to Brooklyn when I was a year old. And it is
a place I love. I think Brooklyn -- if you look at the history of Brooklyn
and all the people that have come from there, there`s no other place like
it in the world.
So -- what "Red Hook Summer," what I call -- it started with "She`s
Got to Have It" in 1986. That was Fort Greene "Do The Right Thing" with
Bed-Stuy. Crooklyn was Bed-Stuy. "He Got Game," Coney Island. "Clockers"
was Born Hill. So, this is -- and "Red Hook" is one of the most unique
neighborhoods. I mean, it is really strange -- I mean, you got -- go out
to get -- out of your way to get there.
LEE: And also, Carmelo, people -- you know, he grew up in Baltimore.
Carmelo Anthony was born in Brooklyn and raised in the Red Hook Project.
SHARPTON: Yes. You make that point in the film.
SHARPTON: I was reading a review in "The Huffington Post" and says,
the film, "It feels like his most theatrical work in a decade or so, "Red
Hook Summer" is a solid and often fascinating return to a very specific
form from one of our most interesting filmmaker, warts and all. It`s a
LEE: I saw how you left out that warts and all line.
SHARPTON: I brought it back. I brought it back. And I understand
you paid for it yourself, shot it in 19 days.
SHARPTON: Your first film was "She`s Got to Have It," shot in 12
days, also shot in Brooklyn.
SHARPTON: Are you returning to his film making roots here?
LEE: No, Reverend. I think that some people got it this kind of
twisted as "Red Hook Summer" might decorate and saying, I no longer work in
Hollywood. That is not the case. For me to tell this film, I had to
finance it myself. It was not going to be made any other way. That`s what
it came down to.
SHARPTON: What`s changed in the film industry in the last two
decades? Is it harder or easier for people to get films done? Is it
harder for African-Americans, is it harder for new talent? What is
LEE: What is changed, Reverend, is it is harder for everybody.
Because when we are growing up, the big blockbuster films came out for
Memorial Day to Labor Day. Now big blockbuster films come out 12 months a
year. And so -- for a lot of studios, they are only looking to make films
and going to make -- gazillion dollars. And they don`t feel it is worth
their time to make films that are -- full profit and so, therefore, it`s
really hurt the diversity of the films being made and the subject matter,
SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you this. As this film is opening this
Friday, and I have already seen it and I am sure people that are -- know
your work anticipating another Spike Lee joint and you never moved your
offices out of Brooklyn. But I need to ask you about something else.
Aside from Brooklyn both you and I share, Michael Jackson, in fact, you and
I sat together at Michael`s memorial where I spoke --
LEE: Yes. At the Staple Center.
SHARPTON: Yes. At the Staple Center. I understand that you are
coming out with a documentary on Michael.
LEE: Yes, that is true, Rev. I was -- contacted by Sony Records and
the Michael Jackson estate to do a documentary about the making of the
"Bad" album. So it is done, the world premiere is going to be in the
Venice Film Festival August 31st in Italy. And the thing about this Rev is
that I had full access to Michael`s archives. So there is stuff from his
documentary that has never been seen before. Never heard before. And it
Even if I made -- I`m still saying, it is great. And you don`t have
to be a Michael Jackson fan to really love this documentary. Because it
really shows you a genius Michael was and also the hard work he put into
his art. He just would wake up and do this. He worked hard to perfect his
LEE: So often, as you know, we just see -- we just see Michael Jordan
doing the great thing. We didn`t see him in the gym, in the weight room,
running. I mean, this documentary we see the work Michael Jackson put in.
SHARPTON: Well, that`s going to be exciting. And nobody works
harder and does more things than you do, Spike Lee.
LEE: What about your man -- I have to take the mantle from your man,
Godfather of Soul, Rev. James Brown. Hardest working man.
SHARPTON: You know, I wasn`t going to interrupt you closing on that.
Spike Lee, "Red Hook Summer" opens Friday in New York and elsewhere. We
will be seeing it all over the country this month. Later this month.
Opening around the country. Spike, good luck with your film and thank you
for coming in tonight live. Spike Lee.
LEE: Keep doing that great job down there in Florida. Because
that`s when Shenanigans down there, baby. Shenanigans.
SHARPTON: Thank you, Spike. We will be right back with the final
world from Miami.
SHARPTON: Here`s a question. Where in the world is Sarah Palin? It
is a big question in GOP politics. Because the Republican National
Committee is rolling out its plans for the convention. Releasing names of
who will get coveted speaking slots later this month in Tampa. And so far,
the former vice presidential nominee is not on the list. Could it be her
less than warm and fuzzy history with Governor Romney?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Oh, no, you don`t!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Oh, yes, we do. Last summer, Palin`s bus tour cruised into
New Hampshire just as Romney announced his candidacy. Ouch. Big footed by
big wheels. And she`s been no kinder in talking about Romney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: And bless his heart, I have respect for Mitt Romney but do I
not have respect for what he has done through this debt increased debate.
MATT LAUER, NBC HOST, "TODAY SHOW": It seems he is the nominee. Are
you happy with that?
PALIN: You know, anything is still possible. There can still a bit
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Team Romney may not like to have missed anything as
possible at the convention. But she does bring star power.
Look at her track record on backing winners. In 2010, she supported
Nikki Haley in South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire. They both
won. This year, so did Richard Murdoch and Ted Cruz in the Senate primary
races after Palin campaigned for them.
Tonight, we will find out if Sarah Steelman, her pick in Missouri wins
the Senate primary. No doubt. The far right loves her. So, Mitt Romney
will pretend he does, too. See you at the convention, Miss Palin.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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