updated 8/24/2012 10:48:34 AM ET 2012-08-24T14:48:34

POLITICS NATION
August 23, 2012

Guests: Patricia Murphy, Ryan Grim, Alicia Menendez

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Tonight the storms of Tampa.

Weather forecasters say there`s a strong possibility that tropical
storm Isaac will hit Tampa or near Tampa on Monday. That`s just as the
Republican national convention is scheduled to begin. It`s a serious story
and we`ll be watching closely to see how it could impact this important
week for the Romney campaign.

But there`s another storm, a political storm that`s already landed and
blowing the Romney/Ryan effort off message. Four days after Todd Akin`s
legitimate rape comments matters only got worse today as the issue of
abortion continued to sidetrack a campaign that was supposed to be about
the economy.

Mike Huckabee turned on his party in defending Todd Akin. And we
learned the Romney campaign is telling reporters, do not ask the candidate
about this issue. Just what is going on with the Republicans?

Joining me now, Steve Kornacki, co-host of "the Cycle" right here on
MSNBC and Patricia Murphy, editor of "Citizen Jane Politics." Thank you
both for joining me.

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: Sure.

PATRICIA MURPHY, EDITOR, CITIZEN JANE POLITICS: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Steve, let me start with you.

Governor Huckabee is scheduled to speak on Monday night. How is that
going to go down? Here`s what this governor wrote, governor Huckabee to
support us today. And I`m reading the e-mail he sent, from the spotlight
of political offices and media perches, it may appear that the demand for
Akin`s head is universal in the party. I assure you, it is not. There is
a vast, but mostly quiet army of people who have an innate sense of
fairness and don`t like to see a fellow political pilgrim bullied. If Todd
Akin loses the Senate seat, I will not blame Todd Akin, he made a mistake.
He was man enough to admit it and apologize. I`m waiting for the apology
from whomever was the genius on the high pedestals of our party who thought
it wise not only to shoot our wounded but to run over him with tanks and
trucks and feed his body to the liberal wolves.

Strong, strong language. We must remember, now, this is not a blog or
commentator. This is the man that came in number two to the nominee.
Christopher cage four years ago, and who`s speaking on opening night.

KORNACKI: Right.

SHARPTON: How is that going to play out?

KORNACKI: Well, the back story here is, Todd Akin basically, nobody
in the quote/unquote "Republican establishment" backed Todd Akin in the
primary, except Mike Huckabee. Mike Huckabee was his biggest upside
supporter in this race. So, there`s personal loyalty there too.

There is also, you know, Mike Huckabee nurse a bit of a grudge about
how that 2008 campaign went. I think he believes he would have won that
primary, would have won that nomination if he had more money. He thought
that the big money in the Republican Party didn`t like him, lined up behind
McCain, so he has this resentment of sort of the big money class of the
Republican Party, and he sees them trying to intimidate the guy who he was
with in the primary. So, he`s now rallying to his defense.

But the significance of this is pretty huge I think because
Republicans are trying to basically - obviously, they`re trying to get in
the race. The way they`re trying to do it is to deny him money. The NRFC
said in the campaign committee, Karl Rove super PAC, they`re basically
trying to put the word out there, we`re not going to have financial support
for this guy if he stays in the race. With Huckabee lining up, you know,
really re-affirming his support like this, it opens up the possibility of
grassroots money not only coming out, but being there for him.

SHARPTON: Well, that was my question Patricia. With Huckabee coming
out, who is a major player in the party, are we seeing a major split in the
party just days before the Republican convention? And how do you deal with
Huckabee on the stage opening night?

MURPHY: We are absolutely starting to see a split here. It`s not
just Mike Huckabee, the Family Research Council has also come out and said
they`re supporting Todd Akin, the Susan B. Anthony list, a very, very
powerful player in pro-life politics also supporting Todd Akin. And a
split within the Republican Party is the story line that Mitt Romney has
wanted to avoid since he got into the race in the first place, and for the
chance that there is a story line of a divided fighting Republican Party.

They`re not even fighting about Mitt Romney, they`re fighting about
this other guy. They`re fighting about Todd Akin. For the fight to break
open on the Monday night of the convention is the worst case scenario for
Mitt Romney. What they`re going to have to do is get together with Mike
Huckabee before he goes on, because he`s a man who says what he wants.
He`s not beholden to anybody, most especially not Mitt Romney, he`s going
to say what he wants. The Romney campaign is going to have to get Mike
Huckabee under control. But that`s a very difficult thing to do, because
Mike Huckabee has no reason to become under control.

SHARPTON: Well, it`s not only Huckabee, Patricia, you`re starting to
see, Steve, a lot of the social conservatives starting to begin the rally
with Akin. We`re seeing a real split here.
MURPHY: Yes.

SHARPTON: And then at the same time, we`re now hearing Romney aides
at least telling reporters, don`t even raise the question. We saw today
that Mister Romney had banned reporters from asking him about abortion or
Akin. Denver reporter and political specialist Shaun Boyd explained this
today. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Shaun, you were one of only four local
reporters to get to talk to him. What did you ask?

SHAUN BOYD, DENVER REPORTER, POLITICAL SPECIALIST: You know, I had
about five mints with him, and we got through a fair amount of material
actually in that five minutes. The one stipulation in the interview was
that I not ask him about abortion or Todd Akin, he is the Missouri
Republican who created a firestorm after saying women`s bodies shut down in
a legitimate rape to prevent health care. I did ask him about health care,
the female vote and energy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So, we have Romney people telling reporters don`t ask the
question. We have the guy that came in number two in the primaries,
Republican primaries just the last election, splitting the party on this.
Not a good forecast four days before the convention start.

KORNACKI: No, and you know, the risk is they don`t want this spilling
over, you know, in to the convention, obviously. The thing that
Republicans always remember, the nightmare scenario, the convention of then
is what happened in 1992, when they gave a prime time speaking slot to Pat
Buchanan who would challenge towards Bush Senior in the primaries that your
-- that`s the speech where Pat Buchanan talked about how there is a culture
war in America, really turned off people, really alienated people. They
don`t want, you know, Mike Huckabee as a friendlier voice generally than
Pat Buchanan. But, they don`t want this - they don`t want Mike Huckabee or
anybody else in getting up there at the convention rallying up delegates
who would -- when you look at these delegates, they`re sort of far more
conservative.

SHARPTON: Right.

KORNACKI: The ring -- far more conservative than the image that
Republican strategists want to be painting for the rest of the country.
So, they don`t want anyone getting up to the podium who`s going to rile up
the delegates, and who is going to do anything and sort of brings back
memories or you know as related to what happened in 1992, because that
really scared off swing voters.

SHARPTON: But Patricia, help me here because I don`t want all of this
inside baseball.

We are talking about a candidate who needs to come up in the women`s
vote significantly. And we are talking about what Akin said is outrageous
to women, even Republican women. Doesn`t this at all play into some of
these conversations? I mean it`s almost as if they`re oblivious to the
insult that was stated by Mister Akin.

MURPHY: I think that they are not oblivious to the insult that Todd
Akin had for all women. And that is why the Romney campaign dumped him
overboard as soon as he said it. That`s why the NRSC dumb him overboard,
54 percent of the voters in Missouri in 2008 were women, 53 percent of the
voters nationwide were women. Barack Obama won that race.

So, you have to know that Republicans understand fully that you cannot
go in to a national election with a 15 point deficit among women and expect
to win the election. That`s why they`re trying everything they can to back
pedal from what has been stated publicly from Todd Akin.

But what many Republicans actually believe to be true in terms of
which cases you should not have an exception for when it comes to abortion.
So, this has always been the very tense underlying tension for the Romney
campaign and the grass root activist. This just happens to be the catalyst
that`s busting wide open. And listen. You`re not going to win this
election without winning much more of the women`s vote than Mitt Romney has
right now.

SHARPTON: But the back pedaling just got jammed with Huckabee
bringing this public, now they`re going to have to defend it or confront
Huckabee. They`re going into the convention with this and the Obama
campaign couldn`t be happier. I mean, you couldn`t have -- you couldn`t
have dreamed that this could happen. In fact, one official calls it
hurricane Todd today to reporters.

Let me read you what one of the officials of the Obama campaign said.
"I think hurricane Todd has already born down on Tampa, and the damage has
been done. It highlighted what is completely out of step, out of touch,
Republican Party when it comes to these issues, and I don`t think they can
put the genie back in the bottle, even if they put Akin off the ticket."

KORNACKI: Yes, you know, and I would respectfully disagree with
something Patricia just said. Because it`s true the Romney/Ryan ticket has
distanced itself from Todd Akin. I don`t think they really did
immediately, you know, this story has basically started on Sunday
afternoon. The initial response, the initial official response from the
Romney campaign was very tepid, it was very hesitant.

SHARPTON: Yes.

KORNACKI: What it was -- what it signaled to me was --

MURPHY: It was Sunday night.

KORNACKI: It wasn`t until Monday he gave the interview to the
National Review and he really weighed in. It signaled to me, the way I
looked at it was he was waiting for other conservative leaders, other
Republican leaders to take the first shot to make sure it was safe. That
indicates to me something we`ve seen a lot in this campaign, is how unsure
Mitt Romney is with his relationship with his own party`s base. He doesn`t
want to across them. He wants to make sure it`s safe before he says
anything. And that shows you what a sensitive issue this is potentially
with that base.

SHARPTON: It`s really, really going to be interesting. Patricia
Murphy, Steve Kornacki, thank you for your time tonight.

MURPHY: Thank you so much.

SHARPTON: And catch Steve on "the Cycle" week days at 3:00 p.m.
Eastern right here on MSNBC.

Coming up, Republicans have been longing for the good old days under
Bill Clinton. Well, be careful what you wish for. The new ads starring
Clinton should have the Romney team worried.

And, we all know Paul Ryan loves stimulus money. But who knew he also
had a thing for military stimulus.

All that, plus my exclusive interview with Oscar winner Jamie Foxx and
Ron Howard. Wait until you hear their take on the election.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Oscar winners Jamie Foxx and Ron Howard on politics, and
why there doesn`t seem to be any compromise any more. My interview with
these two Hollywood heavyweights coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back to "Politics Nation."

In just 75 days, voters head to the poll and one issue will be
paramount. Do we want to live in a country where the middle class thrives
or one way is driven to the brink by handout to the rich and special
interests. That`s what November sixth is going to be all about.

And today, during a speech on energy independence, we got a further
idea of whose side governor Romney is on.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Offshore drilling. We`re
going to add about two million barrels per day in offshore drilling. Type
oil. That`s oil that comes from places where you have to use fracking
technology to help get it out. Alaska, this is an war, another sources in
Alaska, that will add additional oil production in this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I wonder what shape that energy policy. Could it be the
$10 million Mister Romney rigged in from big oil over the past two days?
Or the fact that his chief energy adviser is an Oklahoma oil billionaire
who`s donated a million dollars to the Romney super pack? What about the
oil rich Koch brothers who vowed to spend $400 million this election.

These are the people Mister Romney is looking out for. His ticket
would give big oil over $2 billion in new tax breaks while raising taxes on
the middle class. How`s that for priorities.

This is what this election is all about. A new study out today says
this has been a lost decade for the middle class. The middle class has
shrunk. And on top of that, they`ve gotten poorer. Their net worth has
dropped by 28 percent. This isn`t time to give more to big oil or the time
to pump up the rich. It`s time to build up the middle class.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you look at the
history of this country, we didn`t grow through top down economics, we grew
through middle class out economics. We grew from bottom up economics, we
grew together where everybody got a fair shot, and everybody`s doing their
fair share. And everybody`s playing by the same set of rules. That`s the
choice in this election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: America, the choice is yours.

Joining me now is Joan Walsh, editor at large with salon.com and an
MSNBC political analyst and author of the new book "what`s the matter with
white people?" and Jonathan Capehart, an opinion writer of "the Washington
Post" and an MSNBC contributor.

Thank you both for being here this evening.

JOAN WALSH, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, SALON.COM: Thanks, Rev.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, OPINION WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Joan, let me start with you. In your new book, you write
extensively about the middle class. It seems that the Romney/Ryan ticket
makes your point. And that is that the GOP is really stuck in the past.

WALSH: Well, I love hearing the president talk about the way we built
the middle class from the top up, Reverend Al. We really made a lot of
decisions after the war, after the great depression to build that vast
middle class. We had government program that did that. We made unions
easier to organize. We gave people lots of help going to college. We gave
people help buying homes. And the president sees a way for us to do again.
And we know, have the evident in this Pew studies that the policies that
have been pursued under the Bush administration in that decade really took
money away from the middle class, and of every race, but particularly
blacks and Latinos, and really have -- are making everyone more pessimistic
about what the future`s going to hold for their children.

SHARPTON: Now, Jonathan, when you hear Joan talk about the pessimism,
you look at the polls, American people know the president would protect the
middle class while Romney would not. Who helps the poor? Obama 62
percent. Romney 33 percent. Who helps the middle class? Fifty two,
Obama, Romney 42. Who helps the wealthy? Thirty eight percent, Romney 71.
It`s real clear to the American people from these polls. It`s not even
close who`s on what side.

CAPEHART: Right. This gets at the heart of President Obama`s
campaign. He talked about how the middle class built this country. And
how he`s trying to get the country back on the right path. And the way to
do that is by strengthening the middle class.

It also plays into that ad that is out now from the campaign featuring
President Bill Clinton talking about what the president`s trying to do
about the middle class. And the great thing about that ad is that, yes,
you use probably the greatest asset that the Democratic Party has in the
former president, but also, he is a visual reminder of what times were like
when this country actually had a surplus. When the only limit on the
possibilities happening in America and for middle class families, not just
middle class families was the sky.

SHARPTON: Yes.

CAPEHART: And so you look back on the last ten years and see what
happened to that surplus, you know, deficits and wars, having Bill Clinton
out there to remind people that it is possible for the middle class in
particular to thrive in America. That it`s possible.

SHARPTON: Well, we`re talking about Bill Clinton later in the show.

But let me ask you this, Joan. When vice president Biden was at an
event yesterday, he did talk about how and all of the sudden for whatever
reason, the GOP now is coming out with some discussion in their ads about
middle class Americans. And he kind of mocked them saying, now they`ve
discovered the middle class. Listen to the vice president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ryan was elected to
the Congress in 1998 during a Democratic administration. We had a balanced
budget. And the middle class was thriving. The day we were sworn in on
January 20, 2009. We inherited a deficit a bill for $1 trillion before the
president sat behind his desk. And the middle class that was devastated.
And now -- and now, it`s amazing, they discovered the middle class, and
they care about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: They discovered they care about it. But to be fair, so
people don`t think it was just partisan, in an interview with time
magazine, Governor Romney had an interesting reason, because he challenged
on -- tell us what deductions you would make on taxes. What would do that
would be fair?

His answer was quote, "I know our Democrat friends would love to have
me specify one or two so they could amass a special interest to fight that
effort. So, the way you`re going to talk about your tax plan and fairness
and the middle class is to say, I`m not going to be specific because my
opponents would oppose it?

WALSH: I`m not going to be specific and we`re not going to talk about
abortion. And I`m not going to release my tax returns. This is a refrain
of the Romney campaign, Reverend Al. And you know, the media, it`s a
question whether the media will get away with it. But the thing that I
like about what the president and vice president Biden are doing. One of
the things that I really stress in my book, is that despite the fact that
government, that we together as the people built the middle class, a lot of
white people in my experience don`t quite see those programs as being
government helps. And what I think the president --

SHARPTON: What do you mean by -- see what program?

CAPEHART: Programs like the G.I. bill, programs like that they were -
- that mortgages were insured. The inner state highway let white people --
white America drive out to --

SHARPTON: All government money?

WALSH: All government money, government made that decision. We built
vast public universities which we no longer build. So, we made that
commitment, but people took it for granted and now kind of act as though,
we didn`t have any help, so why should other people have help. And I feel
like the president and vice president are finally -- to some extent maybe
blatantly, but just in time, talking about that legacy of what we all did
together that this is an American value. This isn`t something that they`re
inventing. This goes back to what our grandparents and great grandparents
did for us that we need to do for the future generation.

SHARPTON: And I think that is a very important point.

You know Jonathan, the governor didn`t stop without saying he wasn`t
going to lay out his specifics because of his opponents. He also said in
an interview, another interview, though. That fact checkers had Romney
debunked his welfare claims. Some Jones referred to.

Here`s what he said. Fact checkers on both sides of the aisle will
look in the way they think is most consistent with their own views. Now, I
mean -- I thought fact checkers check facts. And the idea of a fact
checker, we`re not talking about views. What is he talking about,
Jonathan?

CAPEHART: Well, he`s trying to get away with continuing to run an ad.
Now, two ads, maybe even three ads by now making a false claim about what
the president has done. And the Obama administration has done in terms of
welfare and the work requirements. He`s saying that the work requirement -
the administration has done away with them, and everyone under the sun from
here at "the Washington Post, The New York Times," everyone has said that
that is demonstrably false.

For Mitt Romney to cast doubt on an authority like that, fact checkers
is really kind of -- not kind of, I mean, it`s shameful, because if people
-- if there`s no authority for anyone to turn to say what is right or
wrong, then what you have is mayhem.

WALSH: Right.

SHARPTON: Exactly. Joan Walsh, Jonathan Capehart, I have to leave it
there. Thanks for your time tonight.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Joan, congratulations on your new book and best of luck
with it.

WALSH: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Coming up, the Clinton factor looms large over team Romney.
The ad everyone is talking about.

Plus, the Romney team has a Medicare problem. Here comes the scare
tactics, the facts are coming. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Have you joined us on facebook yet? The "Politics Nation"
conversation is going on all day long.

Today, our facebook family was buzzing about President Clinton and the
new ad he did for the Obama campaign.

Doug says that "President Clinton will be a big difference in this
election." And he`s quote, "glad to see him coming to the aid of his party
and speaking out on behalf of President Obama`s objective."

Barbara calls out, 40 second president, quote, "the best ally ever."

And Linda noticed that while President Obama can call on Bill, Romney
is running from Bush. We`ve got more on President Clinton`s impact on the
race coming up.

But we want to hear what you think first. 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: We`re back on POLITICS NATION. Bill Clinton`s career has
been so strong, that even Republicans have been trying to get a piece of
it. For months, Governor Romney has publicly held Bill Clinton out as the
shining example of a democrat. The praise just kept on coming.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Clinton, remember
he said the era of big government was over, President Obama brought it back
with a vengeance, President Clinton made efforts to reform welfare as we
know it. President Obama`s trying to tirelessly expand the welfare state.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Who knew Bill Clinton was a republican`s democrat. But Mr.
Romney`s real strategy was to drive a personal wedge between President
Clinton and President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: President Obama tucked away the Clinton doctrine in his large
drawer of discarded ideas. It`s enough to make you wonder it maybe, it was
a personal beef with the Clintons, but probably that -- it runs much deeper
than that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Personal beef with the Clintons, where does he come up with
this stuff? But make no mistake about it, they`ve had a complex
relationship over the years. But President Clinton is going to bat for
President Obama in a big way. He`ll have a speaking role at the
convention. And today, he`s featured in a new add.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: This election to me is about
which candidate is more likely to return us to full employment. This is a
clear choice. The republican plan is to cut more taxes on upper income
people and go back to deregulation. That`s what got us in trouble in the
first place. President Obama has a plan to rebuild America from the ground
up. It only works if there is a strong middle class. That`s what happened
when I was president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, that ad will run in eight key states, including six
that President Clinton won overwhelmingly 16 years ago.

So, here`s Reverend Al`s advice to the Republicans. Be careful what
you wish for.

Joining me now is Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief of The Huffington
Post. And Alicia Menendez, the host and producer at "HuffPost Live."
Thanks to both of you for being here tonight.

ALICIA MENENDEZ, HOST AND PRODUCER, "HUFFPOST LIVE": Hey, Rev.

SHARPTON: Melissa, did the Republicans make a mistake trying to make
Bill Clinton their own?

MENENDEZ: I think they made a mistake in underestimating the Obama`s
campaign`s ability to politically jujitsu this. They saw Clinton now has
almost 70 percent approval ratings. I think that came out in your recent
NBC poll. So, he`s really a huge political asset. I think that the
Republicans understatement Obama`s willingness to embrace Bill Clinton, to
bring him into the fold. To use him as really the perfect surrogate to
articulate the difference between the democratic vision for America and the
Republicans.

SHARPTON: Now, when you look at the fact that on that poll Ryan, that
she referred, to that Alicia referred to. Bill Clinton is probably the
most popular American politician around to date. Fifty seven percent of
Americans have a positive view of Clinton. More than any other American
politician on that poll.

RYAN GRIM, THE HUFFINGTON POST: He was extremely popular as a
president. And you know, as people get further away from their terms,
their popularity seems to rise. You know, it even happened to Nixon, and
it`s happening somewhat to George W. Bush. And I`m sure 10, 20 years,
he`ll probably get a little bit more benefit of that distance.

But, you know, when people look back at the 90s, real wages actually
rose somewhat for the first time in several decades. Things were pretty
good. I mean, there was a tech bubble that helped things along, and then -
- which then fed into a housing bubble which collapsed and blew everything
up, and people are reminded by this that things blew up on Bush`s watch.

So, you know, I think what they`re trying to do is create this
contrast without bringing up Bush, because the Obama campaign thinks they
can`t mention him specifically, because then they`ll get accused of trying
to pass off blame. So, Clinton is sort of a clever way of reminding people
what things were like five, ten years ago.

SHARPTON: But Alicia, not only a clever way, but a credible way
giving his popularity and a senior Obama official has told NBC News that
Clinton is key to the President`s re-election campaign. He says, we
believe he`s an important messenger and obviously he`s going to play a
significant role in our convention and beyond our convention because of his
credibility on the issues. Now, the President has also proven to be a
great campaigner for President Obama. Just listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: I care about the long term debt of the country a lot.
Remember me, I`m the only guy that gave you four surplus budgets out of the
eight I sent.

(APPLAUSE)

So, I hope what I say to you will have some weight. I don`t think
it`s important to re-elect the President. I think it is essential to re-
elect the President if we want this country to have the kind of future that
our children and grandchildren deserve.

You have to have the right captain of the ship. And I am depending on
you to take care of future generations. By making sure that that captain
is President Barack Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Quite effective campaign, don`t you think?

MENENDEZ: I love when Bill Clinton is fired up and ready to go.
Listen, if you want to be an incumbent, there`s only one way to do it, make
it a referendum on the incumbent. That`s what Republicans have been trying
to do since the primary and failing. By choosing Paul Ryan, the Romney
campaign made this an even clearer choice. And that`s the language that
you see in this ad. It`s a clear choice.

You can either choose Republicans, and I think they did a very
diplomatic laying out of republican policies, tax breaks for wealthy
Americans, less regulation, I think Republicans would agree with that
characterization, and then have you a democratic vision which has to do
with innovation, education and job training. And so, now it is no longer a
referendum, it`s a choice and there`s no better messenger to deliver that
choice than Bill Clinton.

SHARPTON: Now, Ryan, when we look at the fact that this ad by Bill
Clinton will be playing in some key swing states, including Florida where
the race is close. You have President Obama at 49 to 46. Pretty close.
The Clinton ad will also play in the state of Ohio, where the President is
leading a six point margin. This ad could be very effective in these key
states, swing states, wouldn`t you think?

GRIM: Sure. I mean, you know, Clinton brings out, you know, some of
the places where Obama is the weakest, which is, you know, the white
working class. You know, Clinton just has this pretty natural ability to
connect with voters, and he`s extremely good, probably better than any
other democrat alive today of making the case for democratic policies.

His -- you know, you know that his speech in Charlotte is going to be
a good one. He`s going to lay out -- he`s going to use his years like he
did there, and say, I had four years of surpluses, then we went into a
deficit. And he`s, you know, he`s just a tremendously effective
campaigner, there`s no question about it.

Now, you know, it`s interesting that he brought up deregulation,
because you know, as you remember, and you know, we were all critical of it
at the time, the Clinton administration deregulated Wall Street a lot, and
kind of moved the party towards Wall Street, you know, something that it
paid for over the next couple of years.

SHARPTON: Yes, we were critical. But the facts are facts, and when
Clinton left office, Alicia, there was a $236 billion budget surplus, when
George W. Bush left, his successor, there was a debt of $11.9 trillion.
Those are the facts.

MENENDEZ: Yes. And it`s easy to understand those facts, if you
understand basic math. You did not increase revenue. We spent money on
two wars, Republicans were reckless in their domestic spending and that is
how you blow a surplus and end up in debt. So, without even needing to
invoke the Bush name, I think he managed to hail back to those times and
help Americans remember how things were and how they can be again.

SHARPTON: Yes. Ryan Grim and Alicia Menendez, thank you both for
your time tonight.

MENENDEZ: Thank you.

GRIM: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, Oscar winners Jamie Foxx and Ron Howard on the
election and fairness. My interview with those two Hollywood heavyweights
coming up.

And who did we catch singing on our plaza this morning? The answer
is next in your summer break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back with a pause from the political battles of the
day. A time to rest, relax and recharge. That`s right. It`s time for the
POLITICS NATION summer break.

We start off with one pumped up baby. He flexes those little muscles
with some creative pull-ups. I love to see such healthy habits at a young
age. This little guy doesn`t need P90x.

And we close out today`s summer break on the plaza with the "Today"
show`s concert series, that`s Carly Rae Jepsen performing her run-away hit,
"Call me Maybe." But wait a second, look closely in that crowd. Who`s
that in the middle? It`s a POLITICS NATION regular Congressman Joe Crowley
of New York.

He even knows all the words. Crowley tweeted his kids are huge fans.
Looks like he is too. If you ask me, the Congressman has got to bring some
of that fun back to the house floor this fall. Speaker Boehner, do you
have that jobs plan ready? If so, call me, maybe. And that`s today`s
summer break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back now with my conversation with two Hollywood
heavyweights. Ron Howard and Jamie Foxx, they`re both creatively at the
top of their game, both Oscar winners, they produced and starred in
Hollywood`s biggest blockbusters.

In our wide ranging discussion, they shared views about same sex
marriage, presidential politics, and fairness. Both talked about what they
think the country and what`s going on in the country and why it`s so
divided. And told me what they think politicians can do to bring people
together. Listen to Jamie.

JAMIE FOXX, ACTOR: I think now, what we have to do is challenge our
politicians to sort of get beyond themselves and their own agenda. Because
at the top, no matter what happens, if people are still suffering, if the
lower class and the middle class are still suffering, we`re still in
trouble. Here`s the thing. We can`t survive with just the top.

We`re not able to do that, now we`re not America any more, we become
something else. So, you look at that farmer or when you look at that
person that works a regular job, we have to constantly think, we ask our
politicians to constantly think about the regular person. When I look at
America now, it`s that we seem to make those people that do regular things,
push them to the background.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RON HOWARD, FILM DIRECTOR: This meeting in the middle idea, I keep
thinking there ought to be something called the militant middle. Because
how do you get anything done without compromise? You know, you don`t build
anything, you don`t make a movie, without -- people arguing, having their
differences, but somehow saying, well, we need to get this done.

So, let`s not stand in our corners, and argue about it. Let`s build
something. And that`s -- that`s how you really make your mark. That`s how
you really make your mark. Not just staying in your little click, your
little world.

FOXX: Exactly.

HOWARD: President Clinton once said to me, when he was still in his
first term. I said, what, you know, what surprised you the most about
being president? And he said, is that the media won`t allow you to a
centrist idea. That in order to be heard and make noise and even get your
idea thought about, it forces you to move to one direction or the other.

And that`s not how problems get solved. So somehow we need our
politicians to get in the business of solving our problems. And if they`re
not doing that, then somehow they`re not doing their job.

SHARPTON: Well, I was teasing Obama, we went over -- and I said in
`08 when he was running, you had to explain me, now I got to explain you.

(LAUGHTER)

They made you the demon. That`s a huge controversy. It`s crazy. I
mean, it`s like -- it`s nuts.

HOWARD: Yes.

FOXX: You know what it is. It`s like -- what I`ve noticed is that
in politics, it doesn`t come down to main issues, it comes down to what
issue can I find that a group of people are passionate about, and then
drive the wedge. And so, therefore, if I keep driving that wedge, whether
it`s pro-choice or these gun laws, if I drive that wedge, then we can take
them off of what the real situation is.

SHARPTON: And get (INAUDIBLE), we`re with you on this thing because I
support same sex marriage. I say, people have a right to do what they want
to do, whether I agree or not. Let me ask you something, how many gays in
your church asked you to do the wedding? He said, none. I said, then what
are you even getting all this excited? I mean, what is the problem?

FOXX: I`ll take it a step further, my daughter was 13, she`s 18 now.
And same sex marriage came up five years ago. And I asked a group of 13-
year-olds in a limo on their way to some Justin Bieber -- whatever, I said
what do you think about it? My daughter goes, dad can we be honest? So,
what? Grown people are worried about that, we don`t care. We don`t think
about it. My friends are gay, some are girls, some are guys.

And I was, you know, she was teaching me, because I was like, eh? And
she says, we don`t care at all. She said, that`s why we don`t want to be
a part of politics, because we don`t feel that you guys are going to
listen, because you already have in your mind what it is. You`re just
asking questions.

SHARPTON: Exactly right.

FOXX: But you don`t want the real answers. We`re telling you that
this is how we feel. And so, sometimes I think it may be good to have
people that are 13 or 14 years old to just say, hey, you don`t need to trip
about that until we do get to a certain point in our age, and then all of a
sudden you have to go with the majority of the people that you`re with.

HOWARD: That`s a little disappointing about the baby boomer
generation to me. Because this was a bunch -- we were this bunch that was
supposed to have this vision, this belief, this sort of this -- this
progressive set of ideas. And for that same group to flip around and do a
kind of 180 out of -- especially when so much of this is inspired by or,
you know, really irrational kind of selfish thinking, and when you say that
-- when you make that point about, you know, choose an issue and drive it,
it seems to me that, you know, the people who are in the world of politics,
who are, you know, making all these decisions, they`re creating these sort
of campaign ideas, these strategies.

They must be just saying, we know that, you know, there`s a whole sea
of people who are just going to think this is crazy. But the people that
we`re going to solidify our base by driving this crazy idea open. And then
there`s this bunch of other people in the middle that are leaning our way,
and they`ll forgive us.

FOXX: Right.

HOWARD: They know better. But they`re going to forgive us.

FOXX: Exactly.

HOWARD: And I can`t -- I have to believe that these people are
thinking that -- in that cynical way.

SHARPTON: I think you`re right.

FOXX: For anybody out there that`s watching this program or anybody
that can hear our voices. Don`t get it twisted. This is the best country
to live in. We`ve all traveled. We`ve been all over the world. The
freedoms that we have here. Even the freedom to question at any point, I
can say, whatever about my President or about my mayor, my governor or
whatever it is, and not worry about someone coming and dragging me into the
street and doing whatever -- I got to be able to say, hey, there`s some
things that I agree with you on your side, some things you agree on our
side, and if we do this, we can get back to getting people jobs, and also,
I hate to take up too much time, but also bringing jobs back here.

HOWARD: Yes.

FOXX: So when we`re doing this, you know, we`re taking people`s
ideas. No politics or anything like that, we just want to see how you feel
and respect each person.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Thanks to Ron Howard and Jamie Foxx for coming on the show.
We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: As we see more and more of Congressman Paul Ryan, we`re
starting to get a measure of demand. And I`m not so sure he`s measuring
up. Mr. Ryan is criticizing the $600 billion in defense cuts. Set to go
into effect in January. OK, that`s fair. He claims to be a budget cutter.
But surprise, surprise, he says its President Obama`s fault.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Obama`s
reckless defense cuts that are hanging over our cloud, hanging over the
horizon.

Reckless, irresponsible defense cuts, a result of the President`s
failed leadership.

Defense spending is not half of all federal spending, but it`s half of
the cuts approximately in this sequester. We disagreed with that then, we
disagree with it now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Time out. When did these become the President`s defense
cuts? If Mr. Ryan is against the cuts, why did he vote for them? That`s
right, last August he voted for the budget deal that outlined these defense
cuts.

But now, Mr. Ryan doesn`t want to cut defense under any circumstance.
It`s almost like he thinks this government spending will stimulate the
economy. And I don`t think Mr. Ryan wants to be talking about stimulus
since this is what he said about it before.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN: The failed stimulus is unfortunately typical of Washington`s
destructive economic agenda. It is failed to create the jobs promised.

All this temporary booster shot stimulus, didn`t work in the stimulus
package.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But just last week, we found out Ryan repeatedly asked the
energy secretary for stimulus funds. If the stimulus didn`t work, why did
Congressman Ryan want it for his district? The money from the stimulus for
his district.

And even though Ryan rails against spending, he`s gotten quite the
reputation for spending money back home. I really hope Congressman Ryan
hasn`t forgotten his record since he became Mr. Romney`s running mate. But
if he doesn`t remember, we sure will.

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

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