August 24, 2012
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Guests: Dana Milbank; Eugene Robinson, Brentin Mock, Joyce Beatty, Allison Samuels
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Thanks for tuning in.
Tonight`s lead, governor Romney`s birther humor. Mister Romney has
been subtle and not so subtle in his appeals to the far right of the
Republican Party. And today speaking at a rally in his home state of
Michigan, he ventured into the ugly fringe territory of the angry right.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I love being home in this
place where Ann and I were raised, where both of us were born. Ann was
born at Henry Ford hospital. I was born at Harper hospital. No one`s ever
asked to see my birth certificate. They know this is the place we were
born and raised.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: No one`s ever asked to see my birth certificate. The
Republican nominee lending his voice in jest or not to questioning if the
president of the United States is an American. Attempting to dance out of
it, Mister Romney`s senior adviser Kevin Madden said in a statement quote,
"the governor has always said he has repeatedly said he believes the
president was born here in the United States. He was only referencing that
Michigan where he is campaigning today is the state where he himself was
born and raised."
But that`s simply not true, Mister Madden. Mister Romney was not only
referencing Michigan. Nor has he been reluctant to paint the president
other on numerous other occasions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I just don`t think the president by his comments suggests an
understanding of what it is that makes America such a unique nation.
It`s a very strange and in some respects foreign to the American
experience type of philosophy.
Our president doesn`t have the same feeling about American
exceptionalism as we do.
That`s the right course for this country. His course is foreign.
I don`t think he understands why our economy is the most successful in
the world. I don`t think he understands America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: I don`t think he understands America. His course is
foreign. These are not so subtle nods to the fringe and it`s been building
for awhile. It`s a page straight out of Donald Trump`s playbook. Just
look at what he`s been saying about welfare.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: Going out and saying he is going to take the welfare, excuse
me, the work requirement out of welfare. How in the world could he not
understand the power of work, the dignity of work?
The president is taking the work requirement out of welfare. Yes. I
mean, we value work. We`re a society which celebrates hard work. We do
not look for a government that tries to find ways to provide for people who
are not willing to work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: This president doesn`t understand the dignity of work? He
doesn`t understand the power of work? What`s Mister Romney getting at?
And today he kept closer to the ugly voices of the far right.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN, CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: All we want to do is
see this birth certificate.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He has to prove it not with the piece of garbage
that Obama provided in the 2008 election.
REP. MIKE COFFMAN (R), COLORADO: I don`t know whether Barack Obama
was born in the United States or not. I don`t know that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I cannot in good faith report to you that these
documents are authentic.
TRUMP: You are not allowed to be president if you`re not born inside
country. He may not have been born in this country.
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: All the president has to do is
REP. CLIFFORD STEARNS (R), FLORIDA: All I can tell you that the
general consensus is he had produced a birth certificate. The question is,
is it legitimate?
TRUMP: Perhaps it`s going to say Hawaii. Perhaps he`s going to say
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: President Obama`s camp responded today. Spokeswoman Liz
Smith tweeted Mitt Romney keeping it substantive and classy a la Donald
Trump. Says that no one has ever asked to see his birth certificate.
Obama campaign press secretary Ben Labolt shot back quote, "it`s one
thing to give the stage in Tampa to Donald Trump, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and
Kris Kobach. But Governor Romney`s decision to directly enlist himself in
the birther movement should give pause to any rational voter across
And from the president`s official tweeter account, quote, "song of the
day, born in the U.S.A. with a link to Bruce Springsteen`s anthem."
So here it is, August 24th, 2012, 74 days to the election and a moment
that will stay with Mister Romney until November.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: No one`s ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know
that this is the place that we were born and raised.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: This is the GOP nominee. This is the face of the
Joining me now is Melissa Harris-Perry, host of the "Melissa Harris-
Perry" show here on MSNBC and Dana Milbank, columnist for "the Washington
Thank you both for being here tonight.
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST, MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY SHOW:
DANA MILBANK, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Happy birther
SHARPTON: Thank you. I would say the same to you, but I don`t
celebrate it, Dana.
SHARPTON: Melissa, it`s not so subtle or is it subtle? What do you
make of what Romney said today and what he`s been saying all along? What
is he up to?
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, a couple of things. The first is we should just
take that fact, no one`s asked to see my birth certificate and pause on
that, because I think he`s telling the truth. No one has ever asked to see
his birth certificate. And this is a man who has been running for
president for about eight years. And the very fact, that no one asked to
see his should make all of us pause and say, so why then the constant
unabated calls to see President Obama`s even after he`s --
SHARPTON: If you really want to go back there.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right, exactly. And I think that`s precisely where --
first we want to pause and say, you know, Romney has told us an awful lot
about the birther movement itself simply by making that statement.
I think the other thing we want to remember here is this wasn`t a
scripted moment. You know, we talk a lot about dog whistles and we talked
about playing to the base and that sort of thing. But in an unscripted
moment, a so-called making a joke, that`s not so much about a ploy or play,
that is a revelation to the degree about what the candidate themselves is
actually thinking. So I think both -- it reveals something to us more
insidious about Romney`s belief. It`s not just he`s playing to the right.
It`s that he, too, finds it kind of funny, amusing, enjoyable to realize
that we have taken the legitimate president of the United States and spent
four years questioning his American citizenship.
SHARPTON: And to question another candidate.
And Dana, the evidence of that that there is something my mother used
to say, whatever is in you comes out. There`s something inside of him that
would even think that was funny is that when we`ve heard people on the
campaign trail say some pretty outrageous things, Romney rarely if ever has
corrected them. Let me show you some examples.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because of what this monster has done to this
country. We have to have you as president.
ROMNEY: That`s not a term I would use.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a president right now that is operating
outside the structure of our constitution. He should be tried for treason.
But I want to know what you`re going to be able to do to help restore
balance between the three branches of government.
ROMNEY: As I`m sure you do, I happen to believe that the constitution
was not just brilliant but probably inspired.
I don`t agree with all the people who support me. My guess is they
don`t agree with everything I believe in. But I need to get 50.1 percent
or more. And I`m appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: But I need to get 50.1 percent, which in many ways, Dana,
is you know, I`ll accept whatever they want to say, whatever they want to
do. And even implicitly go along with the president not really American
because I have to get my 50.1 percent.
MILBANK: You know, Reverend. This has been a constant problem for
Mitt Romney. Sort of it`s his weakness that he feels like he can`t stand
up to the right wing of his party. And that`s why he`s constantly playing
the Donald Trump card and standing with that man.
I think this is something slightly different. And I don`t know if
this makes it better or not, but it seems purely that this was an accident
that he didn`t mean to say. There are many instances of this man`s mouth
working without coordination with his brain.
If you just look at it as a political matter, it does him no good. If
he wanted to be a birther, he should have done it during the primary when
it would helped him. You know, somebody who doesn`t think Barack Obama
wasn`t born in the United States, you know what, they pretty much made up
their mind who they are voting for in this election anyway.
What is he going to wine-up doing here is losing voters in the middle.
And I think that`s why you see his campaign running away from this so
quickly. So, this is definitely in the gaffe category. Now, as you guys
were saying, that doesn`t necessarily make it a better thing. But clearly,
it is not permitted.
SHARPTON: Well, it could be worse. Because it could say that this is
how he really feels. It could, in fact make it in even more problematic
thing it would have been.
Coupled with the fact, Melissa. That he has surrounded himself with
advisers that are closely aligned with him would allow his voices in the
birther movement. Donald Trump, Kansas` secretary of state Kris Kobach,
Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. So he`s not just saying something or letting
things go, he has put some of the most for sulfurous birthers around him.
HARRIS-PERRY: And what I love about this is it`s once again changing
the rules. Because the rule in a presidential election is in the primaries
you pander. You go pick up, you shore up your base. And then in the
general election you pivot.
This -- we are a few days from the start of the Republican national
convention in Tampa. This should be pivot time. This should be coming
back to the middle. This should be moderate time. This should be about
getting those independent swings, undecided voters. And they have decided
instead no, we go all in on pander. The next 74 days are going to be
pander, pander, pander. They have put forth a platform that is mean
spirited, that is small. That attacks women`s rights. You`ve got showing
up today saying I`m staying in. You got Romney going all in on birtherism.
They decided they`re going all in as far right as they possibly can.
SHARPTON: But Dana, whether he wanted to do this or not, is there a
political point here to be made? Will this rile up his base? Or will this
play to some of his far right base that is going to be there in Tampa with
MILBANK: It may bring out some of them in number. But they were
there with him anyway after the Paul Ryan choice. What this has done right
now is he has sacrificed any chance at having the high ground between now
and Election Day. His campaign has been pretty good at taking on board
saying Obama has been unfair and distorting and reaching new lows. OK,
he`s now questioned Obama`s legitimacy to hold the office of president,
questioning him his legitimacy as American. You can`t get lower than that.
So he`s lost the ability to take the high ground going forward.
SHARPTON: But Dana, in this campaign and I`m running out of time but
I have to ask this. In this campaign, with birtherism such a high profile
issue, what else could he have possibly been referring to when he said that
other than President Obama`s issue of a birth certificate? I mean, there
is no other -- it wouldn`t even have been a joke if we`re going to call it
a joke if we had not been dealing with this birther issue. Why would he
even bring it up?
MILBANK: Clearly, that`s what he was referring to, I`m just saying
his brain wasn`t working while doing it. There are birthers out there who
question whether he`s legitimate because his father was in Mexico.
SHARPTON: Well, I`ll leave it there.
Melissa Harris-Perry and Dana Milbank. Thanks for your time tonight.
And don`t forget to tune in to Melissa Harris-Perry on Saturdays and
Sundays at 10:00 a.m. right here on MSNBC.
Coming up, the secret money at the GOP convention is not what they
want to be talking about. And the Billionaires boys club getting together
in Tampa for their own convention. Secret money, secret meetings, and buy-
Plus, a tea party group is training operatives to intimidate you at
the polls. The reporter who went inside their training session joins us
And all of that plus Spiderman is hanging out in your summer break.
You`re watching "Politics Nation" only on MSNBC.
SHARPTON: Today we learned there`s a group of madmen working to
rebrand Governor Romney. Well, birther jugs just made their hard jobs even
more difficult. Oops. That`s next.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m so in love with
No one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate
matter to rest than the Donald. That`s because he can finally get back to
focusing on the issues that matter. Like did we fake the moon landing?
Jimmy, PODA stands for president of the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s the PODA with the most-a.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: President Obama`s always been able to connect with voters,
54 percent of Americans say he`s likable. But Governor Romney, well, just
31 percent say the same thing about him. That`s a 23 percent margin.
That`s a problem. And team Romney knows it.
We`re now learning of the plans, the secret plans at that, to pull out
all the stops to help America meet Mister Romney, the real Romney. To
really get to know him. Because even though he`s been running for
president for five years, I guess we don`t really know him. We don`t have
a sense of who he is.
"The Washington Post" reports that the Romney campaign is a symbol, a
team of madmen. Advertising hot shots to create ads that will sell him to
the nation. And the GOP convention will be used to quote, "sell the Mitt
Romney story in prime time."
How about that? But here`s something I bet won`t get mentioned. The
big money that will be behind the scenes in Tampa. Politico reports that
the real action will be with the Republican mega donors gathered in arena
sky boxes, closed hotel ballrooms and pricey restaurants around town.
Somehow I don`t think that will get brought up by the Romney folks.
Joining me now is Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist
for "the Washington Post" and an MSNBC political analyst.
Eugene, thanks for being here tonight.
EUGENE ROBINSON, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Great to be here,
SHARPTON: Now, we`ll get back to the big money at the convention in a
second. But, can the Romney team sell a candidate who hasn`t been able to
really connect with voters so far and he`s been running five years.
ROBINSON: That would seem to be a tall order. And that`s, I think,
an objective analysis given where Romney`s likability numbers are now given
the fact that the history of the primaries campaign tends to indicate that
the more voters get to know him, that number doesn`t necessarily go up.
And in fact, there was another piece in "the Wall Street Journal"
today in which in an interview in which Romney essentially said all but
acknowledged he`s not going to win on likability. So, I think they perhaps
would have a better chance of selling his program should he ever decide to
come out with a program.
ROBINSON: Or should he clarify those ideas? Should be clarify those
ideas rather than trying to sell the personality.
SHARPTON: Let me push you on that a bit. Because, isn`t that a real
dilemma for them? He won`t come out with specific programs. In fact, he`s
even say he`s not going to specify. And he and some of his key supporters
have conceded he`s not the most likable guy. So what are they going to
package in Tampa this week to sell us?
ROBINSON: Well, that`s why you get your advertising hot shots.
That`s why you get the cream of the crop to try to figure out how they`re
going to package and sell a guy who has said basically that he doesn`t want
to be sold like a product. He doesn`t buy into the likability thing. He
sees himself as a fix it, turn around guy. And that`s what he is. And
that`s what people ought to vote for.
Yet he won`t come out with the specific proposals that people can
evaluate beyond old fashioned trickle down economic theory that never
works. So -- and that`s not very popular. So how do you sell all of that?
I frankly don`t know. But maybe there`s genius on Madison Avenue who`s got
a better idea than I do.
SHARPTON: Well, one thing he does seem stuck on is the big money.
There`s a consistency there. And the big money guys will be in Tampa.
They will be given VIP access to bundlers who have raised $250,000 or more.
There`s an outside Super PAC party honoring billionaire David Koch.
There`ll be another lobbyist featuring billionaire Sheldon Adelson. And
there will be private meetings for mega donors held by Karl Rove super PAC
and Romney super PAC. So, it seems like the mega donors, the big rich guys
are clearly going to have a convention and an environment of their own.
ROBINSON: Right. I guess they say that the best parties are always
in the VIP rooms. And that seems to be the place to be at this convention.
But you know, the Republican national convention, let`s face it, is never a
display of populism and of kind of ordinary folk. I do believe from these
reports that this convention is going to be exceptionally weighted in the
other direction. And I don`t know how much of that we`ll get to see, but
we`ll be looking for it.
SHARPTON: Now, when you look at the fact just average people that we
have heard throughout this campaign, just seeing them constantly say he`s
out of touch with everyday Americans. And certainly this perception of the
big money events feed into that. Listen to ordinary Americans, Eugene.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: Corporations are people, my friend. We can raise taxes -- of
course they are. Every big corporation goes to people.
Well, maybe I should tell my story. I`m also unemployed. I`m running
for office for Pete`s sake.
Rick, I`ll tell you what. 10,000 bucks? $10,000 bet?
I`m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: So I mean as clear people have said Governor Romney is out
of touch. I`ve given a few examples of things he said that just reinforced
their feeling with average Americans.
ROBINSON: Yes. Actually, we missed one of the greatest hits. I like
being able to fire people.
ROBINSON: That`s the problem. I`m sure the Democrats are going to
play those clips over and over and over again as we get closer to the
election just to remind people that this is the guy they want you to vote
for. And to counteract that, he`s got to go one way or the other. Either
really work on that likability thing or he has got to come out with
proposals that are likable and specific.
SHARPTON: Well, respectfully I don`t know if they`re going to play
them over and over again if today`s any indication. He keeps giving them
ROBINSON: Well, that`s true.
SHARPTON: Eugene Robinson, thank you for your time tonight. Have a
ROBINSON: You, too, Al.
SHARPTON: Coming up, first lady Michelle Obama stepping up her role
in the campaign but her top priority is back in the White House. A behind
the scene look at the life of the first lady.
But first, a tea party group training operatives to intimidate voters
at the polls. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: Folks, have you checked us out on facebook? The "Politics
Nation" conversation is going all day long.
Today our facebook family couldn`t get enough of the first lady
Marla says she`s a great campaigner because she`s genuine and what you
see is what you get.
Pamela chocks those skills up to her beauty and brains.
Liz likes her because quote, "she`s real, relatable, and has been
where most of us are."
We`ve got a special behind the scenes interview with the first lady
coming up later in the show.
But first, we want to hear what you think. Please head over to
facebook and search "Politics Nation" and like us to join the conversation
that keeps going long after the show ends.
SHARPTON: We`ve been reporting on the right wing voter suppression
effort for months now. Everything from voter ID laws to voter purges. But
now we`re learning about a new effort to keep down the vote. A new report
chronicles the rise of something called true the vote. A Tea Party backed
effort to create a poll watcher network.
During the 2010 election, the officials at Houston received at least
12 complaints describing overzealous poll watchers intimidating workers and
voters and predominantly blocking Latino polling places. The Justice
Department began investigating claims that true the vote volunteers were
quote, "Hovering over voters, getting into election workers` faces, and
blocking or disrupting lines of voters."
This isn`t protecting voter integrity, it`s the exact opposite.
There`s no integrity in suppression. And now the effort is spreading.
This Texas-backed organization is holding special training sessions for
poll watchers in 17 states. And boasting they have trained poll watchers
in some 35 states.
Poll watchers? Maybe. But there`s no doubt that we must keep our eye
on them. And what they`re really doing at the polls. We must protect the
integrity of the vote.
Joining me now is Brentin Mock, the investigative reporter for
Colorlines.com who went inside true the vote events in his latest report.
And Joyce Beatty, former minority leader of the Ohio House of
Representatives and a current democratic nominee in the third Congressional
District in Ohio. Thank you both for joining me.
BRENTIN MOCK, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, COLORLINES.COM: Thanks for
having me on.
JOYCE BEATTY (D-OH), CANDIDATE FOR CONGRESS: Thank you so much.
SHARPTON: Brentin, let me start with you. You attended some true to
vote summits where they train these volunteer poll watchers. Tell us what
you found out.
MOCK: Well, at a lot of these sessions which you had were a lot of
far right wing speakers talking about, you know, the right agenda, a lot of
Obama bashing. But the main thing that they really talked about was
monitoring and watching. According to true the vote, people on both sides
of the voting booth are up to no good.
The people working the polls are subject to corruption and fraud. And
the people going up to vote are also subject to corruption and fraud. So,
they believe it`s their job to watch both sides to make sure that nothing
SHARPTON: But at these sessions there`s a lot of Obama bashing. So
this is not a non-partisan objective group from the sessions you`ve
MOCK: Oh, absolutely not. And it`s not been since their inception.
They helped set the Republican Party`s agenda in Texas and helped pass the
photo voter ID law there. And now, they`re working to help pass the photo
voter ID law nationally, get it spread out nationally.
SHARPTON: Now, Miss Beatty, from Brentin`s report on what true the
votes national elections Colorline said about, how poll watchers should do
their job. Let me read from the report. He says, "Bill Ouren declared
that his recruits` job is to chiefly make voters feel like they`re driving
and seeing the police following you. He aims to recruit one million poll
watchers around the country." What do you have in the summit in your
state? How do you feel about people being trained to do this?
BEATTY: Thank you, Al. We are obviously upset about this because
this is clearly voter suppression. They`re trying to intimidate voters.
And certainly as we know, many of those folks who are out there helping us
are African-American, their elderly, their students, and they`re trying to
intimidate them. One of the things we have to do is make sure that we
educate all of our voters as we get them registered. And elected officials
and Democrats need to stand up. Because we`re faced with a lot.
We have a Franklin County election chairperson who is saying we must
not accommodate urban, read it, African-American voter turnout machine.
And that`s because they are afraid that in Ohio we make presidents. They
are afraid that we will come out, we will turn out the vote, and we will
re-elect President Obama. So we have to do a better job of making sure we
get all of our folks to the polls.
We remind them of how hard we have fought to be able to have this
right and that`s what it is. And true the vote is rob the vote. And we
have to let them know that this is a very mean spirited, partisan machine
that`s working against us.
SHARPTON: Well, they`re going to be in Ohio this weekend. In fact,
they are hosting a summit to train poll watchers outside of Columbus.
Here`s how they describe the event. The time is now to gain the skills
necessary to protect election integrity in 2012 and beyond. Join true the
vote for a full day of training, networking, and inspiration from liberty
minded front line leaders. What happens at these sessions, Brentin?
MOCK: Well, again, I mean, they talk about how to train their
volunteers to do monitoring and watching of voters. And there`s nothing
wrong with that. Poll watching is not illegal, but we also know that
watching and monitoring are not race-neutral verbs especially with our
country`s racial history.
George Zimmerman was merely watching and monitoring the neighborhood
and following Trayvon Martin before that ended tragically. And now, I`m
not saying what true the vote is up to is going to lead to people being
killed, but we can see how this kind of watching and monitoring can lead to
completely unnecessary and completely avoidable confrontations.
SHARPTON: Yes. We`re not expecting violence, but -- go ahead. I`m
BEATTY: Yes. But they`re killing the vote. But what they`re trying
to do, if you use that analogy of Trayvon, they`re trying to kill the vote.
And I think through what you`re doing, Al Sharpton, and getting people on
Facebook. We have to send out the message and let our folks know that as
they are meeting, we need to also meet to let our folks not be intimidated
by what they`re doing.
SHARPTON: Now, I understand that the present Secretary of State Mr.
Husted, who himself has being questioned in some of what he`s doing in
terms of voting in Ohio, he`s going to be there. And the former Ohio
Secretary of State Ken Black well who had a questionable role in the 2004
elections as Secretary of State is going to be there. How do you feel
about their involvement in this kind of summit, Miss Beatty?
BEATTY: I am appalled that our former Secretary of State and our
current secretary of state would engage in such things as intimidation.
They are elected officials. Elected to serve all people. And just by the
virtue of the past history of true to vote, it is unacceptable. We are
angered by it. And we will go to Facebook. We will go to the other
elected officials and we will get the information out because we`re going
to do more than just be upset about it.
We are not going to turn out more votes. We have souls to the polls.
We are not going to let them stop us. We have been organizing with
churches in this community. We have been organizing with our mayor and
other elected officials. And the most important thing is not to allow them
to do what they think they can do. And that`s intimidate us. That`s to
keep us at home. We`re going to register. We`re going to educate. And
we`re going to turn out the vote.
SHARPTON: Brentin Mock, Joyce Beatty, thank you both for your time
MOCK: Thank you for having me on.
BEATTY: Thank you Al so much.
SHARPTON: Coming up, she`s the President`s secret weapon on the
campaign trail, but Michelle Obama says, her top priority is being a mom.
iVillage`s Kelly Wallace brings us an exclusive look at a day in the life
of the first lady.
SHARPTON: We`re back with a pause from political battles of the day.
A time to rest, relax, and recharge. That`s right. It`s time for the
POLITICS NATION summer break.
And we start with the heated roller skating race. The head of the
pack has opened a big league and he`s already celebrating. He thinks he
has it, but wait. The race isn`t over. It`s a photo finish. We need our
summer break super slow mo replay.
And look at this, the skater in the white jersey comes from behind to
win. Kids, never show boat. You see what happens. All those running for
office, take note. And we end the night with Spider-Man hanging out in
Poland. Those subway riders aren`t so amused. Spidey goofs around on the
escalator and even send some webs flying at a local officer. He`s having
some fun, but not everyone`s a fan.
Look at this guy on the train. He`s not amused. He doesn`t approve
of just hanging around. And that`s today`s summer break.
SHARPTON: We`re back on POLITICS NATION. By all accounts, this is
going to be a close election. And both campaigns are looking for any
advantage they can use to make their candidate more appealing and likable
Governor Mitt Romney`s wife Ann will be prominently featured at the
Republican National Convention. They`re hoping Mrs. Romney will have the
same impact the first lady has. Her presence is a big boost for her
husband. Because of her enormous popularity. More than two-thirds of
Americans view her favorably. She gave a personal look inside her life as
first lady in an exclusive interview with iVillage`s Kelly Wallace.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY WALLACE, IVILLAGE CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: In interviews you`ve
talked about this and everywhere about making sure the girls has as normal
a life as possible here. Do you feel like you`ve been able to do that? I
mean, have you seen any signs where you think, oh, would they be better off
MICHELLE OBAMA, U.S. FIRST LADY: Yes. They have handled themselves.
We are so proud of them. They are so poised and normal and decent and
loving and all that. But we`re their parents, so I think we think that
anyways. So, we`re always checking with people. I`ll check in with the
teacher, how are things going? How are they feeling? You know, anything
we need to know? Any signs that you see? I just try to keep an open
window of communication with teachers so that if they see something that we
might miss at school.
So, we definitely know that, you know, what happens at school is
really critical. But, you know, I think it`s working. I`m always knocking
on wood. You know, I won`t know until -- you know, until it`s over.
Whether this was good. But they seem like they`re OK.
WALLACE: Do you think women can have it all? Have we gotten better
about having it all? Is it what you define all to be?
OBAMA: I think it may be the latter. My experience has been I
haven`t been able to have it all at the same time.
OBAMA: As we create these false goals for ourselves that are not
based on what we need but what we think others think we should need and
we`ve got to get off of that pendulum, that little guinea pig wheel.
Because I think what we fought for and what we succeeded in getting are
choices. But if we don`t exercise the full breadth of those choices, I
think then we`re selling ourselves doubt, and if we`re not supporting each
other as women in those choices that we make, right? Because sometimes,
part of that.
OBAMA: .part of our problem is we`re judging each other.
OBAMA: We should be supporting and embracing all of those choices
however they come, because what I do know is that life is really
WALLACE: Did you have any conflicts at all about that balance when
you came to the White House about whether you were going to try to keep
some type of full-time in your profession that you were in and still try to
OBAMA: Well, I knew it would be difficult as first lady. I mean, we
just haven`t had that experience yet with a spouse, with a full-time. And
it`s just difficult.
OBAMA: Because there are too many potential conflicts. So, I knew
that I wasn`t going to have an outside career, so to speak. But I did knew
that there were issues that I cared about. I know that I wanted to make
the most out of this position as First Lady above and beyond being first
mom which is my first priority. But I knew that this is a rare platform.
And I sort of have a responsibility to use it to the best of its ability.
So that I knew. But I also knew that I -- like I`d learned before
coming here, that I have to create boundaries around even those goals so
that I protect myself, my kids, my personal development. That hasn`t
changed. It`s just this venue has changed. It`s still like work. I still
have to protect that time.
OBAMA: I have to carve it out. I`m still juggling a bunch of
different things. There are still times when I feel conflicted. That
doesn`t go away. But I have learned and continue to learn that I`ve got to
carve out the stuff that`s important for me first. You know? So my
message to women is be open. You know? Give yourself a break, you know?
Stop thinking that there is an answer to that question, can women have it
all. Stop trying to answer it, you know? Just live your life and figure
out what`s in your heart. What do you need? And that will change every
year. And you`ve got to be OK with that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Joining me now is Allison Samuels, an award winning senior
writer for Newsweek and The Daily Beast and author of the book, "What Would
Michelle Do?" Allison, thanks for being here.
ALLISON SAMUELS, AUTHOR, "WHAT WOULD MICHELLE DO?": Thank you for
SHARPTON: You wrote in your book that part of Michelle Obama`s appeal
is her authenticity. How has that changed people`s perception of the first
SAMUELS: I think because they can feel that she`s genuine. They hear
her, they see her. They know that she`s sincerely interested in their
lives and their issues and their problems. They know that that`s not
something she learned along the way. That`s who she is as a person. And I
think when people, you know, sort of see that in her, they understand this
is someone who cares, this is someone who`s probably married to someone who
cares as well. And I think people relate to that. And they respond to her
wherever she goes because, you know, they see her sincerity.
SHARPTON: Now, she`s campaigning for the President but she`s also
trying to be a mom to two young ladies.
SHARPTON: How hard is it to strike the balance?
SAMUELS: I think it`s hard, but I think, you know, she said that you
can`t have it all at one time. I think that`s very true. And I think
that`s another thing about Michelle, she`s very honest, she`s very
straightforward. I think she tells everyone that her children are her
first priority. So, I think she makes sure that they`re taken care of,
that they`re together and OK.
And then she goes out and supports President Obama. I think they`ve
done such a great job, you know, with the girls according to other people
that I know that know those young ladies. That, you know, she`s in a
position where she can do both. Because she laid that foundation for them
SHARPTON: Now, obviously she`s very popular. How will her presence
on the campaign trail shape people`s perception of her husband, the
SAMUELS: Well, I think, you know, as the first lady as his wife, she
humanizes him. You know, you see the kind of person that she is. You see
her kindness, her sincerity. And you sort of feel like, this is who he
chose to marry. So, something about her in her quality is resonated with
him. He found them important. And I think you get an idea of maybe who he
is by the person he`s married to. Someone that does seem loving and
And you feel like that`s the person probably brings that home. When
he gets home, he hears her concern. He hears the issues that she`s, you
know, interested in. And I think that has to shape in many ways the type
of president he is. So, I think you know, you get the great idea of who
the person is from who they`re married to.
SHARPTON: You say, she hears his concerns when he comes home causes
that she has stood for and forth as First Lady include childhood obesity
and helping veterans and military families. Are these issues that play
into the election as well?
SAMUELS: I think so. I think whenever you talk about veterans and
their families and their well being, I think whenever you talk about, you
know, the children of this country, their well being, I think those are
issues that, you know, resonate across political lines. I think that`s why
she is such a smart lady. She sort of understood, what issues do I need to
focus on that everyone can relate to, that no one can actually complain
about, that everyone has a stake in. And I think we all want our veterans
to sort of survive and do well. And we most certainly want our children to
sort of thrive and do well.
And so, I think those are issues, that`s why she chose them. Because
I think she knew that long-term, everyone cares about these two particular
things. And she`s been absolutely great at going out and sort of, you
know, getting support for them.
SHARPTON: Allison Samuels, thank you for your time tonight. Have a
SAMUELS: Thank you. You too.
SHARPTON: We`ll be right back.
SHARPTON: Six months ago this Sunday, a 17-year-old child left headed
home from a 7-Eleven where he bought some skittles and an iced tea.
Minutes later, that teenager, Trayvon Martin was dead. And it wasn`t long
before people all over the world knew of the story of Trayvon`s death.
With reverberations across our culture.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: You know, if I had a son, he`d
look like Trayvon.
OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: Black people, white people, brown
people, yellow people, all over this country and all over the world are
saying the same thing. It`s a tragedy and it`s a shame. And justice needs
to be served.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It could really happen to our sons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: At the BET awards this summer, academy award winner Jamie
Foxx sparked headlines when he arrived wearing a T-shirt with a picture of
Trayvon Martin. I asked him about it in a recent interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: You wore a T-shirt of Trayvon Martin.
JAMIE FOXX, ACTOR: Of course.
SHARPTON: Why did you do that?
FOXX: Of course. Because I think that what we should not forget is
our children. Trayvon Martin was a child. Trayvon Martin was 17-years-
old. He bought skittles and iced tea and he was on his way home. And
Trayvon Martin should have been allowed to go home. Whether Trayvon Martin
was black, white, green, red, brown, he is our child.
SHARPTON: And right is right and wrong is wrong.
FOXX: And right is right and wrong is wrong. And I feel like that
sometimes a big story will be -- it`s a good story for awhile then we lose
it. I just wanted to keep it on people`s minds that Trayvon Martin is our
child. Because I think what`s happening is we`re starting to -- the fabric
of our country is starting to tear loose. And then they took the Trayvon
Martin situation and they made it like we said, political, they made it all
black and white and all these people was -- and that was a black and white
FOXX: It`s about -- it is what the situation is. He is an African-
American kid and of course he was targeted because of that, but at the end
of the day, let`s not make it political. Let`s think about our children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: I remember like it was just yesterday when I first got a
call from his parents and Attorney Ben Crump. I had not heard of the case.
When I sat with them and found that it had been decided in the police
station in Sanford, Florida, there was no reason to bring this case in
front of a jury. We had one goal. And that was let a jury decide whether
there was guilt or innocence what happened.
You cannot have a policeman or group of policemen become the judge and
jury of a case that had not been litigated. So, we called rallies, we call
the first big rally in Sanford, Michael Baisden National Action Network,
all of us rallying, probably the largest gathering to this day, then we
help to make the case known. Here we are Sunday six months later after his
death, the world knows his name.
I will never forget standing on the stage at our National Action
Network Convention when the parents were told that after a special
prosecutor looked at evidence, an arrest would be made. And we will go
from there. There`s been no rally since then. It`s about justice, not
prejudgment. That`s what we fought against that night when the police
decided there was no probable cause.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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