Guests: Michelle Cottle; Patricia Murphy, Dana Milbank, Terry O`Neill, Jim Greer
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST, POLITICS NATION: Welcome to
"Politics Nation." I`m Al Sharpton live from Los Angeles.
Tonight`s lead, on the attack. President Obama stepped up his
critique of Mitt Romney today drawing sharp contrast on everything from
health care to immigration to taxes. In particular, he slammed Mr. Romney
for his tax plan that would literally take money from the poor and give it
to the rich.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. Romney, his friends
in congress, they believe -- they`ve got two ideas. One, tax cuts for the
wealthiest Americans. Two, they want to get rid of regulations that help
keep our air and water clean. Regulations that protect our consumers.
Regulations that makes sure that wall street doesn`t do the same kinds of
things that created the financial crisis.
The center piece of Mr. Romney`s entire economic plan is a new $5
trillion tax cut. A lot of it is going to the wealthiest Americans, but
last week we found out he expects the middle class to pick up the tab to
pay for it.
They have tried to sell us this trickle down tax cut fairy dust
before. It did not work. It did not work then. It is not going to work
now. It is not a plan to create jobs. It is not a plan to cut the
deficit. It`s not a plan to move our economy forward.
We do not need -- I do not need a tax cut. We don`t need tax cuts for
folks who are doing really, really, really well. We need to keep taxes low
for working Americans like you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Since the day he took office, the president has made sure
taxes stayed low for the middle class. Working class families have
received $3600 in tax cuts and small businesses have seen their taxes cut
18 separate times. Of course, Mr. Romney doesn`t talk about all that. He
also doesn`t talk about how he wants to take health care away from millions
of Americans. But in the crucial state of Colorado, the president hit that
point very hard today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Mr. Romney wants to reverse the affordable care act, Obama
care. Let me tell you something. Right now 6.5 million young people can
stay on their parents` plan because of the health care law I passed.
Millions of seniors are seeing lower prescription drug costs. We are going
to make sure that if you`ve got a pre-existing condition, you can now get
We`re not going backwards. We`re not going to take that away. And
we`re certainly not going to follow Mr. Romney`s lead and go back to the
days when women didn`t have control of their own health care choices.
Women can make their own decisions. We don`t need politicians doing it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The president wants our mothers, daughters, and sisters to
make their own choices about health care. Mr. Romney calls that a war on
religion. The president calls it fairness. And the American people are
A brand new CNN poll shows President Obama leading Mr. Romney by seven
points, 52 to 45 percent. And the public predicts the president will be
re-elected. Sixty three percent think he will win in November, just 33
percent think Mr. Romney will win.
Folks, that`s big. Very big. In late summer polls of past elections,
the public accurately predicted the winner in 1996, 2000, and 2008. And in
2004, they called the race a tie when it turned out to be a razor thin
election. All of this is bad news for Mr. Romney. And good news for the
Joining me now is Michelle Cottle correspondent for "News Week, Daily
Beast" and Patricia Murphy, editor of "Citizen Jane Politics."
Thank you both for joining me.
SHARPTON: Michelle, let me start with you. The president has focused
on fairness and Romney`s record. And it seemed to be pulling off in the
polls. Is that the message that is resonating in 2012?
MICHELLE COTTLE, CORRESPONDENT, NEWSWEEK: The polls are telling us
that people are increasingly thinking that Romney cares about the rich and
that they`re not convinced that if he were president he could do a better
job with this economy. And that`s a disaster for him because his entire
message has been I could do a better job with this economy. So, I think
the drip, drip, drip has done its work in some way and is eroding the
thought that he would be a better steward.
SHARPTON: Now, Patricia, following up Michelle`s point, in this CNN
poll, 64 percent says that they feel Mitt Romney favors the rich, 29
percent say he favors middle class and poor. Same poll says 18 percent
feel the president favors the rich, 76 percent says he favors the middle
class and the poor. So, this whole issue of fairness and who is about
working class, working poor, and the middle class seems to be making the
difference for the president.
PATRICIA MURPHY, EDITOR, CITIZEN JANE POLITICS: It`s making a huge
difference. And I think that really Mitt Romney has made just a series of
unforced errors throughout the summer that occurred to him on this very
issue. I think his refusal to release his tax returns doesn`t have a whole
lot to do with the middle class but it shows somebody who is so wealthy who
has so much going on in the tax returns, most Americans can`t even relate
to that. it has just no - that no relationship to somebody who has such
complicated tax returns overseas tax havens and things he doesn`t want to
talk about. I think that has been a big problem for him.
There`s also as a very important report released last week from the
tax policy center about Mitt Romney`s economic plans, his plans for the
country. And they said that his tax cut really would hurt middle class
taxpayers. And listen, if you`re just doing it by the numbers, middle
class taxpayers are the majority of voters. They`re the ones making the
decision in this race. And I think that that report coupled with a sense
from Mitt Romney that he doesn`t relate well to middle class voters and his
misdemeanor that he comes off as an uptight rich guy.
You know, he has not done a whole lot to go after middle class voters.
To look relaxed around middle class people. I think it`s all compounding
what should be a more - a better election for Republicans. The president
does not have a great economic record going into this election. He should
be more vulnerable. Mitt Romney has not taken advantage of that.
SHARPTON: Well, when you look at the fact Michelle, that Romney`s tax
plan raises taxes on middle class families by $2,000 gives $87,000 worth of
tax breaks to millionaires. And when you see the president talking about
the middle class and workers and women`s rights.
Yesterday he had Sandra Fluke introduced him. Today we find that a
delegate, get this, a delegate, a Romney delegate to the Republican
national convention is David Koch. David Koch whose net worth is $25
billion. He`s the co-founder of Americans for prosperity. And he`s
committed $25 million for ads against the president this month alone.
So, if you`ve got one hanging out with middle class women and those
that want to see women`s rights to choose protected. Those that want to
see middle class get tax breaks. Those that want to stand up in the gap.
And another having billionaires as their delegates to their convention.
It`s no wonder you get these poll results.
COTTLE: Yes. I think the Romney campaign doesn`t still grasp that
optics matter. I mean, in addition to kind of whatever policy issues there
are when you run a presidential campaign, people pay excruciatingly close
attention to get up who`s hanging out with you. Who you have stood up with
you at events. And every day they`d come up with new stories related to
Romney`s own wealth issues.
You know, the Obama campaign has jumped on this story that`s out there
about how when he was on Marriott`s board, Romney helped Marriott do some
funky tax accounting to get breaks that were not exactly above board. And
people are going to take these things and run with them. And they all
start adding up to a narrative that Romney cannot afford.
SHARPTON: Now, when you say funky, you mean negative because some
places where I go funky is a good thing.
COTTLE: Yes. This is not the good funky. This is the ethically
legally questionable funky.
SHARPTON: Just checking. But, talking about funky, other than the
economic issues, the president also dealt with some of the issues that
concerns, a lot of Americans and he came out very strong talking about gay
rights and immigration. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Mr. Romney thinks, don`t ask don`t tell was a good idea. I
think anybody who loves this country should be able to serve this country.
That was the right thing to do.
Mr. Romney believes in something called self-deportation. Thinks
Arizona`s a model for immigration laws across the country. I think -- I
think we did the right thing to say a young person who comes to America, is
brought here, is raised here, is friends with your kids, is going to school
with our kids is American in every single way except for a piece of paper.
Should have a chance to be a part of the American family. That was the
right thing to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, Patricia, when the president comes after Mitt Romney
on these positions. I was reading even in the "New York Times" today, some
Republicans that are young are having a problem with some of these issues
and are in favor of some of the women`s right to choose and same-sex
marriage. I mean, is Romney out of touch with where a lot of people in the
country are in 2012?
MURPHY: Well, he`s especially out of touch with young voters. And I
think you really put your finger on it. A young Republican is very
different from an old 65, 75-year-old Republican. A young Republican in
America is probably for gay rights. It`s just a much more progressive
segment of that party. And that is an area where the president has an
opening where he can go in there and pull out some of these young
independents or even young Republicans who may agree with Mitt Romney on
the economic issues but just don`t agree with him on gay marriage or gay
And again, when you look at demographics, Hispanics are the fastest
growing demographic in the country. If Republicans don`t get right with
Hispanics on immigration issue, they`re not going to be a majority party.
I think that`s something Democrats are well aware. But it is also just
something the Democrats are more naturally aligned with the Hispanics on in
terms of their immigration position.
So, these are really going to be the issues of the future. I think
the election will be decided on the economy. But if it`s a close election
and we know it will be, it will also come down to just a few points. And
it could be voters who are voting on other issues in addition to the
economy. Immigration and gay rights are absolutely key points for small
but key pieces of that demographic.
SHARPTON: Michelle Cottle, Patricia Murphy. Thanks so much for your
time to both of you.
MURPHY: Thank you. Appreciate it.
SHARPTON: Coming up, the former top Republican in Florida says voter
suppression was openly discussed. It`s shocking. And he`s here live
tonight to talk about it.
Plus, governor Romney wants a culture war. His new ad says President
Obama declared war on religion. Wait. I thought he was the jobs guy?
And folks, take a look at this one. We`ve got a kangaroo boxing in
your summer break. Tonight, look at him go. Nice moves.
You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.
SHARPTON: Folks, have you checked us out on facebook? The
conversation is going all day long. Today, Republican efforts to suppress
the vote, is a hot issue.
Connie said more people need to speak out against it. Voting is a
right for all Americans, no exception.
Jennifer wonders, why are we refighting rights we fought for in the
`60s? Why is this country moving backwards?
Folks are also buzzing today about the first lady and her style.
Don says Michelle brings true class and Grace to the White House.
Couldn`t agree more. 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
SHARPTON: Welcome back to "Politics Nation."
Folks, remember this picture? There`s the big money man, Mr. Romney.
Hanging out with his Bain Capital buddies. Dollar bills literally falling
out of his pockets. Now for the first time, he`s trying to explain what in
the world is going on here. What was he thinking?
In an interview with Bloomberg business week, he explains quote, "that
was a moment of humor. We had a great group of people, each of whom I
think of fondly."
A moment of humor? Yes. Ha-ha-ha. I can`t contain myself. Here`s
the point. This election comes down to a question of fairness. And this
picture only fuels the image of someone out of touch with Americans.
From the very beginning he`s had a problem connecting even with his
own party. Since he became the nominee, there`s been no excitement, no
buzz, nothing to energize the far right base.
Enter young gun congressman Paul Ryan. Mr. End Medicare as we know
it. Chairman of the House budget committee. The darling of the right
wing. Conservatives are already so excited at the idea of Ryan as vice
president, they can hardly contain themselves.
But this pick would be a big risk. If Paul Ryan gets on the ticket,
the fight is on. And America has a serious choice to make.
Joining me now is Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist
for "the Washington Post" and an MSNBC political analyst.
Eugene, first, thanks for being on tonight.
EUGENE ROBINSON, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Great to be here,
SHARPTON: Now, a lot of conservatives are in lather about Ryan. Is
it a smart move?
ROBINSON: To put him on the ticket? Well, I think it`s a risky move.
And the risk is that if you put Ryan on the ticket, you own the Ryan
budget. You own the transformation of Medicare into a voucher program.
You own the cuts to Social Security and essentially the - basically the
elimination of Medicaid since you turn into some sort of black re-program.
You owned the whole thing. And if you want to run on that, fine. But
SHARPTON: Well, the Medicare plan of Ryan is to pay for massive tax
breaks, it plunders-I have seen in frankly and turn Medicare into a voucher
program. It rises the eligibility age of 67 to make seniors pay $67 to
make seniors pay $6400 more for their coverage. So, when you think of the
vowed to senior vote, why would you risk it?
But Eugene, the present nominee, Mr. Romney, has had a problem
exciting his base, has a problem of getting turnout. Does he have to take
a hail Mary pass and put someone like Ryan on who can at least energize the
far right base to come out in big numbers?
ROBINSON: Well, it is true Al, that if the conservative base doesn`t
come out, there`s no way he can win the election. But it`s also true that
he needs more than the conservative base to come out. If it`s just the
Republican base that votes for Mitt Romney, he loses the election. And he
loses it big time. You`ve got to fight for those independents who are in
the middle, who swing back and forth. They`re a larger and larger share of
And so, you got to get them. And the question is how do you get them
with Paul Ryan budget? How do you get them by promising to end Medicare as
we know it? I think that`s a -- you know, if you can do it, fine because
you do energize the base. But that`s a tall order.
SHARPTON: No. But he seems to be reaching for straws. He comes out
with this whole attack on President Obama and welfare reform saying that
the president is taking work out of the welfare reform bill. Something
that is blatantly untrue. A clear distortion. But it seems like he`s
trying to reach for things to energize that far right base and to really
get them excited and angered and ready to come out.
ROBINSON: Well, Al, to tell you the truth, I`m not exactly sure what
the Romney campaign is trying to accomplish right now. In the last few
days we`ve seen them bring Bill Clinton into the campaign on this welfare
stuff which does not seem to me to be a great idea. Because after all, he
just refutes what they said.
ROBINSON: And it gives him more incentive to play a big role in the
campaign. They have embraced Romney care which was the model for Obama
care. And thus alienating the conservatives. I don`t know exactly what
they`re trying to do. So my prediction is that their vice presidential
pick will probably be somebody I don`t predict and someone whose choice I
might not immediately understand. I`m trying to get inside their heads and
it escapes me right now.
SHARPTON: Well, right now. Of the list that is voted around includes
Chris Christie, Tim Pawlenty, Rob Portman of Ohio, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio.
Which of those if it`s one of those, we have no way of knowing, but let`s
say it`s one of those. Which of those gives him the most assets
politically if you put him on the ticket in your opinion?
ROBINSON: In my opinion, if you want to go big risk, big potential
gain, you go with either Marco Rubio who may make inroads with Latinos
where Romney is getting creamed otherwise and who is a charismatic young
good looking young guy, completely untested on a national stage so, who
knows. It could be another Palin situation.
Chris Christie has a certain macho appeal. Certain, a good
campaigner, I think. But I`m not sure that Romney would want to pick
somebody who would threaten to sort of overshadow him on the campaign
trail. And I think Christie would do that.
If you want to go with a safe choice, I think you probably go with
Pawlenty who is a pretty good campaigner, who`s not going to strike out on
his own, who has a bit of a populous touch.
SHARPTON: And he will not overshadow.
Thank you so much for your time tonight. Eugene Robinson, Washington
Ahead, funny things are happening over at the Romney campaign.
They`re going back to the culture wars? Didn`t they see how it ended last
And move over Herman Cain, there`s a new right wing pizza man in town.
The CEO of Papa John`s is complaining that the health care law costs 14
cents per pizza.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe every human being has a fundamental
right to affordable health care. But at what price? There has to be a
line we do not cross. And it`s 14 cents.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.
SHARPTON: Folks, we`ve heard some pretty cheesy attacks on the
president`s health care law. But a new one takes the pie.
John Schnatter, the CEO of pizza chain Papa John`s slammed the law
saying quote, "our best estimate is that the Obama care will cost 11 to 14
cents per pizza."
Wow. 14 cents. Their workers get health care. And that`s a problem?
Is he joking? Who knows. But this guy is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: I believe every human being has a
fundamental right to affordable health care. But at what price? There has
to be a line we do not cross. And it`s 14 cents.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: And it`s not just comedians laughing. Customers have
bombarded Papa John`s facebook page to say they`ll gladly eat the cost.
Adam writes, a dime per pie seems like a reasonable price to pay for
health care for your employees.
Susan says I lose more than that in a week under my sofa cushion.
And Lauren writes if you have enough money to throw lavish fund
raisers at your mansion for Mitt Romney, you have enough money to provide
basic health care to your employees.
That`s right. Mr. Schnatter held a fund raiser at his Kentucky estate
earlier this year. The candidate topped the event off with this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What a home this is. What
grounds these are. The pool, the golf course. You know, if a democrat
were here, he`d look around and say, no one should live like this. You
Republicans come here and say everyone should live like this, right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Democrats want everyone to have nice houses too. But they
also want them to get health care. Next time, hold the right wing rhetoric
and the anchovies. Papa John, by the way, did you think we wouldn`t notice
your cheesy argument? Nice try, but we got you.
SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. Mitt Romney says, this
election is all about the economy. He boasts he`s the great job creator
and promises that he`ll restore hard work, innovation, and free enterprise
to this country if he`s elected president. Today, he announced how he`s
going to do it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Who shares your values? President Obama used his health
care plan to declare war on religion. Forcing religious institutions to go
against their faith. Mitt Romney believes that`s wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: War on religion? What does a war on religion have to do
with job creation? Absolutely nothing. He`s declaring a culture war
because he`s in a jam. Mr. Romney is struggling to win the support of
social conservatives. And comments like this one from his spokesman
yesterday aren`t helping his cause.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: If people had been in Massachusetts under
Governor Romney`s health care plan, they would have had health care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: That comment stirred outrage from the right that we haven`t
seen in this cycle before. And that`s why Romney`s waging a culture war.
It`s the only chance he has to win over the staunchest social
conservatives. Like the right wing Republicans in Colorado who were trying
to get a personhood amendment back on this state ballot for the third time.
And social conservatives who think the affordable care act birth control
mandate is a war on religion.
But I wonder if they know about Romney`s own war on religion when he
was governor. It was called Romney-care. Romney care provided access to
publicly financed birth control. And expanded access to family planning
services. And prescription contraceptives for the people of Massachusetts.
And get this, in 2005 Mr. Romney signed a bill that increased access to the
morning after pill. He even wanted to require Catholic hospitals to issue
the morning after pill to rape victims.
And now he`s saying the President is waging a war on religion? Mr.
Romney`s all tied in pretzels. And he`s struggling to figure out which way
to bend next.
Joining me now is Dana Milbank, columnist for The Washington Post and
Terry O`Neill, president for the National Organization of Women. Thanks to
both of you for being with us tonight.
DANA MILBANK, THE WASHINGTON POST: Good evening, Reverend.
TERRY O`NEILL, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ORGANIZATION OF WOMEN: Great to
see you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Dana, back to the culture wars, I mean, wasn`t he the jobs
guy? I mean, where`s the Romney campaign at right now?
MILBANK: Well, it`s actually, this is happening a little early this
year, Reverend because it`s an election year. Usually, we have the war on
religion comes out about Christmas time. And Bill O`Reilly gets all
excited about the banishment of Christianity. But it is coming a little
early this year because of the election right now. And, you know, I think
it`s a difficult thing for Romney to do for the reason that you stated that
this was supposed to be about economics, about the economy. And also
because every time he tries to venture anywhere near Obama-care, it winds
up hitting him because of Romney-care. And we`ve seen a double dose of
that these last couple of days.
SHARPTON: Now, Terry, you head NOW National Organization of Women.
The President is trouncing, literally trouncing Romney with the women`s
vote. Fifty eight percent to 36 percent. Is this in your opinion because
of Romney`s positions on women`s issues?
O`NEILL: Absolutely, Reverend. Mitt Romney is waging a war on women.
He has thrown his lot in 100 percent with the likes of Paul Ryan whose
economic plans for women will devastate women`s economic security. Mitt
Romney has repeatedly said he would, quote, "Get rid of planned
parenthood." Mitt Romney is all in for zero funding family planning
clinics in this country.
Which by the way not only affects whole family`s economic security but
is a serious public health risk. This is a war on women that women
understand. And the gender gap -- I predict that the gender gap will only
increase as more and more women begin to pay attention and begin to see
what Mitt Romney really has in store for us.
SHARPTON: But Dana, look at these figures. Fifty eight to 36.
That`s 22 points. Can`t they see these numbers? I mean, what is he
thinking about politically?
MILBANK: Well, look, to some extent there is always something of a
gender gap that`s going to benefit the Democrats in terms of the women`s
vote here. I think what Romney is doing right now is he`s less concerned
about the gender gap and he`s more concerned about is he turning out his
base enough? That`s why we`re seeing what he`s been doing with the culture
wars, what he`s been doing in trying to revive the welfare reform debate.
His numbers evidently internally are telling him that he is not generating
the enthusiasm that he needs to among the hard right to get them out. And
unfortunately that fairly honest statements on the Romney-care by his
spokeswoman is not going to help things.
SHARPTON: Yes. Well, talking about that statement, Terry,
Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn co-chair Women for Mitt, the Women for Mitt
Coalition was asked to respond to Romney`s spokesperson`s comments on
Romney-care. Let me play you what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: I didn`t hear the full
interview. And I haven`t seen the tweet. But I can tell you what I know
about the Obamacare plan. I know that it is already doubled in cost.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: But you bring up the fact that he could
have gone to Massachusetts and he would have been covered with insurance
under Governor Romney`s plan. She brings up Romney-care.
BLACKBURN: President Obama`s -- President Obama`s plan is going to
limit access to health care delivery.
BALDWIN: But we`re talking about Mitt Romney here.
BLACKBURN: It`s going to increase --
BALDWIN: With all due respect Congresswoman, we`re talking about Mitt
Romney. We`re talking about a Mitt Romney spokesperson -- I`m specifically
asking you to react to her comment. We played the sound bite where she
basically is saying, had this man had gone to Massachusetts where he would
have had health care, perhaps that would have prevented his wife`s death.
This has nothing to do with Obamacare.
BLACKBURN: The point remains Obamacare is what is on the table.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Yes. Having a little problem with the talking points, it
looks like on this one. Because they`re trying to get around what Romney
did and put it all on the President. And it`s just not seeming to work too
O`NEILL: It really doesn`t work well at all for her. But let`s
actually look at what`s on the table. Let`s look at Obamacare as she calls
it. Fourteen million more women are going to be covered by health
insurance because of Obamacare. And that`s just one part of Obamacare.
That`s just the expansion of Medicaid coverage. There is tens of millions
more women will be covered because of the subsidies that are provided under
And really tens of millions of women have told pollsters that they
would have health insurance if only they could afford it. The affordable
care act does that. So, it`s an incredibly important legislation for women
and it in fact will expand women`s access to health care. And every single
woman who is covered by insurance now has preventive care, birth control,
mammogram, cervical cancer screenings and so forth. It`s really important
SHARPTON: Dana Milbank, Terry O`Neill, thanks for your time tonight.
MILBANK: Thanks, Rev.
O`NEILL: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Still ahead, the former chairman of Florida GOP has made
some shocking claims about the effort to suppress the black vote in that
state. I`ll talk to him live.
And up next, here`s a kicker. A boxing kangaroo and a whole lot more
coming up on your summer break.
SHARPTON: We`re back with a pause from the political battles of the
day. A time to rest, relax, recharge. That`s right. It`s time for the
POLITICS NATION summer break. We begin with your daily ration traffic
report. Traffic seems to be moving smoothly. Heading to St. Petersburg
this morning. But wait.
What`s that merging into HOV lane? That`s a man taking his shopping
cart out for a joyride. I think you need to update your wheels, comrade.
Just take it from this man. Look at rims on his cart. That guy knows how
to hit the local shop and save and stop.
From sweet rides to sweet moves, these robots are getting down.
They`re getting funky to Beyonce`s "Single Ladies"
Let`s get real. They`ve been taking pointers from Hillary Clinton.
And I have no idea how to segue to this. So here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: A boxing kangaroo is attracting a lot of attention
at a Virginia County Fair.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: A boxing kangaroo? That`s right, folks. Don`t adjust your
TV. Things are getting hairy in the boxing ring. Jack the marsupial has
moves like rocky. He bobs, he weaves. Wow. I haven`t seen a fight like
that since the debt ceiling debacle. And that`s today`s summer break.
SHARPTON: Republicans are using an all of the above strategy when it
comes to suppressing the vote in this election. Voter ID making all the
headlines. But GOP efforts to limit voting rights are a lot broader than
that. In the last two years, nine states have tried to pass laws that
limit early voting. Five of them succeeded. And now voter purges are
suddenly re-emerging in more than a dozen states including crucial battle
grounds. Both President Obama and Governor Romney know how important the
swing states are to winning the election.
That`s why this week, both campaigns are spending the bulk of their TV
ad money in just four states. Colorado, Ohio, Virginia and Iowa. Crucial
states where voting rights are under attack. Most Republicans insist it`s
all about preventing voter fraud. But once in a while we hear someone tell
the truth about what`s really behind these attacks on voting rights.
SHARPTON: Joining me now is Jim Greer, former chairman of the
Republican Party of Florida. Mr. Greer, thanks for being on the show
JIM GREER, FORMER CHAIR, FLORIDA GOP: It`s a pleasure to be here, Al.
SHARPTON: Now, you recently made some stunning claims in court
documents about Florida`s GOP`s new voting laws. Take us into the meetings
that you were at and what was said about suppression.
GREER: Well, I think first of all, you have to realize that most
reasonable Republicans and Americans as a whole. If they knew what went on
behind the political curtain, they`d not only be disgusted, they`d demand
that it stop. As chairman of Florida`s GOP and a member of the RNC rules
committee, I sat in on many meetings where it was discussed of how to make
sure that what happened in 2008 when President Obama brought out the
college age voters, the minority voters, never happened again.
And, you know, the Republican Party believes that minority voters in
general are not ever going to vote republican. So discussions centered
around, how do we make sure that what happened in `08 never happens again.
And part of those discussions dealt with changing the election laws in
And how to ensure that the Republican Party doesn`t have to deal with
what it dealt with in `08. And some of those changes dealt with reducing
GREER: Because people know or statistics show that early voters are
not generally leaning republican.
SHARPTON: Well, let me stop you right there. We had the data. Fifty
four percent of African-Americans voted early in 2008. So you`re right.
The data is very clear that early voting was certainly used and you had
soul to the polls where it searches using early voting. Go ahead.
GREER: So, you know, they talked about reducing early voting.
Because that wasn`t helping us win the Republican Party win. They talked
about making voter registration much more difficult for third party
organizations. Organizations like the legal women voters who have been
doing this for many, many years. There were a lot of discussions of what
could the Republican Party do led by the political campaign strategists to
ensure that Republicans win in 2012.
And it`s very sad what`s going on in the Republican Party. It`s very
sad that the Republican Party doesn`t want to win votes by talking about
what it stands for. It wants to ensure that some people can`t get to the
polls, can`t register to vote. You know, the political strategists of the
GOP can`t control what voters do in the voting booth, but they can
certainly try and control them ever getting to the voting booth. And
that`s what`s happened in Florida.
SHARPTON: So you were chair of the party. You were on the RNC rules
committee, and you were in the room -- and you said this in sworn
deposition -- when the discussion was not about fraud or any of the things
but really how we affect who will be able to vote and particularly
minorities and young people because they felt that gave the edge to
President Obama. You`re stating this, that that was the discussion in the
GREER: Absolutely. And three and a half years as chairman of
Florida, I never had one meeting where voter fraud was discussed as a real
issue effecting elections. Never one time. Voter fraud --
SHARPTON: Never one time? Fraud was never a major issue in any of
your discussions in three and a half years as the state chair of Florida?
GREER: Never one time did we have any discussions where voter fraud
was a real issue. It`s simply been created as a marketing tool here in
Florida for the right wing that is running state government now to convince
voters that what they`re doing is right. It`s a marketing tool. That`s
clearly what it is. There`s no validity to it. We never had issues with
it. The main purpose behind it is to make sure that what happened in `08
never happens again. And if that includes keeping voters from voting,
keeping voters from registering. That`s what the GOP-led government here
in Florida is going to do.
SHARPTON: Now, you said in your deposition that political consultants
and staff were talking about voter suppression and keeping blacks from
voting. They talked about not letting blacks vote, and minority outreach
programs was not fit for the Republican Party. Now, you`ve been facing
legal difficulties, you`re under an indictment, some are saying, you just
saying this to get even, some payback. How do you respond to that?
GREER: Well, first of all, you know, it`s sad. The Republican Party
particularly the political strategists are very good at discrediting
somebody who knows the truth. They do this for a living and they`ve done
everything they can. The right wing people took over the Republican Party
here in Florida. They forced me out as chairman. They hated Charlie
Crist. Governor Crist and I were considered moderates. I like to refer to
us as reasonable Republicans.
But, you know, they`ve tried to discredit me. They forced me out as
chairman of the party because they wanted someone who fit their views
better. They were successful at that. The Republican Party right now in
Florida and unfortunately a lot of parts of this country is being run by
pitch fork, torch bearing mobs looking for Frankenstein. And anyone who
gets in their way or any law that gets in their way to winning elections,
they`re going to try to push it aside. And that`s not what America is
SHARPTON: Jim, I know we had one segment, but I`m going to break rank
here. Stay with me. I want you to stay with me. We`ll be right back with
more from you right after this. Jim Greer on POLITICS NATION with Al
Sharpton. We`ll be right back.
SHARPTON: We`re back with more of my conversation with Jim Greer,
former chairman of the Florida Republican Party. Jim, let me ask you this.
I was in Miami earlier this week with National Action Network, the
president down there, Bishop Victor Curry and Congresswoman Wilson and
others rallying around these new laws. But you were in the room. You were
the chairman of the party. You`re still a republican. You disagree with a
lot of what we believe in politics.
But is there any doubt in your mind that what you`ve heard in the room
and what you`ve stated was designed because of what happened in 2008 and
these laws and these things are not being done around fraud but done really
to limit voters from certain particular demographics, minorities and youth,
because they want to try to limit the people who will vote in this
GREER: Yes. There`s no doubt that what the republican-led
legislature in Florida and Governor Scott are trying to do is make sure
that the Republican Party has an advantage in this upcoming election. By
reducing early voting, putting road blocks up for potential voters.
Latinos, African-Americans to register on them, to exercise their right to
vote. There is no doubt, I was in the room. It`s part of the strategy.
You know, the one thing Al, the people don`t realize is winning
elections now has become a multi-million dollar business. There are
political consultants that get hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses
if they win elections. And if they`ve got to change a few voter laws and
make it more difficult for minority voters to get to the polls, well, then
they`re going to do it.
Because the Republican Party has given up on minority voters. I did
it when I was chairman. I believe that we needed to reach out. We needed
to talk about our message. I did a lot of outreach within the party. They
didn`t like it, they opposed it from day one. It was just -- it`s just not
what the Republican Party --
SHARPTON: Jim, we`re going to have to go.
SHARPTON: We went over time. We`ll certainly have you back. Thank
you for coming on.
SHARPTON: And thank you for your time tonight.
Let me say that if you`re a republican, a democrat, or an independent
and heard what you just heard, this is about people`s rights. This is not
even about who wins this election. This is about who and what this nation
is and is going to stand for.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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