updated 11/15/2012 10:10:25 AM ET 2012-11-15T15:10:25

POLITICS NATION
November 14, 2012

Guests: Patrick Murphy; Chaka Fattah; Abby Huntsman; Nia-Malika Henderson; James Peterson


REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Thanks, Chris, and thanks to you
for tuning in.

Tonight`s lead, prepared to fight. President Obama took a strong
stand today at his news conference on taxes, on deficits, on immigration.
We will talk about all that later in the show.

But we begin with the big story of President Obama`s smack down of
Republicans who have been playing politics with the tragic killings at our
consulate in Libya.

Senators like John McCain and others on the right wing have been
trying to jig up have a scandal with the tax against the president`s
ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice. And today, the president called and he
said, I have had enough.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me say specifically
about Susan Rice. She`s done exemplary work. She has represented the
United States and our interests in the United Nations with skill and
professionalism and toughness and grace.

As I have said before, she made an appearance at the request of the
White House in which she gave her best understanding of the intelligence
that had been provided to her. If senator McCain and Senator Graham and
others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. And I`m happy
to have that discussion with them.

But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador who had nothing to do
with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence
she had received and to besmirch her reputation, is outrageous. And I
don`t think there is any debate in this country when you have four
Americans killed, that`s a problem. And we have got to get to the bottom
of it. And there needs to be accountability. We`ve got to bring those who
carried it out to justice. They won`t get any debate from me on that.

But, when they go after the U.N. ambassador, apparently because they
think she`s an easy target then they`ve got a problem with me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The president is right. These Republican accusations are
outrageous. The truth is this. Ambassador Rice went on the Sunday shows
after the tragedy, and said the attacks began as protests and they were
hijacked by extremists. She said this because that`s what the CIA
believed. That`s what the CIA told her with an intelligence briefing given
to her that very day. Yet, John McCain and other Republicans have launched
a campaign to smear her and stop her from possibly becoming secretary of
state.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We will do whatever is necessary to
block the nomination that`s within our power as far as Susan Rice is
concerned.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I don`t trust her. And the
reason I don`t trust her is because I think she knew better and if she
didn`t know better she shouldn`t be the voice of America. I don`t think
she deserves to be promoted.

SEN. KELLY AYOTTE (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: How could we, where we are
right now, be able to place our trust in her?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, the question is how can the American people put their
trust in lawmakers like these? The Republicans are desperate to create a
blame game here. So desperate that they are actually invoking some of the
great GO scandals of the past.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: Somebody the other day said to me, this is as bad as
Watergate. Nobody died in Watergate.

RUDY GUILIANI (R), FORMER NEW YORK MAYOR: This is an administration
that`s now practicing serial deception. It`s like Watergate.

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: That just doesn`t add up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To get to the bottom of it like we did on
Watergate and Iran contra.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Watergate? Iran contra? Please.

The real scandal here is how Republicans are trying to create a
scandal and exploit tragedy for political gain. Today, the president let
them know he will fight them every step of the way.

Joining me now is former congressman Patrick Murphy, Democrat from
Pennsylvania. He was the first veteran of the Iraq war to serve in
Congress. And former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, now an NBC news
political analyst.

Thanks to both of you for being here tonight.

PATRICK MURPHY (D), FORMER PENNSYLVANIA CONGRESSMAN: Thanks,
Reverend.

ED RENDELL (D), FORMER GOVERNOR, PENNSYLVANIA: Pleasure.

SHARPTON: Congressman, you have worn the uniform of this nation.
What`s your reaction to McCain and his followers on the Libya attacks?

MURPHY: I`m just disgusted. Governor Rendell and I are both army
veterans. And to see the obstructionism and the attacks that they kind of
make, and it is not just on Susan Rice, by the way. It also against John
Kerry.

Sean Hannity last night on FOX News said John Kerry needs to be
vetted. That John Kerry needed to be vetted? He served on a foreign --
the Senate foreign affairs committee for 28 years. He got vetted when he
got the bronze star in Vietnam. He got vetted when he got the Silver Star
in Vietnam. He got vetted when he got three purple hearts. (INAUDIBLE)
that wore the uniform?

And now, they are attacking Susan Rice, who is a Stanford Grad, a
Rhode scholar, served in the Clinton administration as assistant secretary
of defense and served as a U.N. ambassador. Get over it, guys. You lost
last week. It is time for America to come together. It is a disgrace that
they are playing politics with our foreign policy.

SHARPTON: Now, governor, the senator McCain last month, he said --
well, let me let you hear what he said. This is amazing to me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: It`s very clear this was a colossal failure that cost the
lives of four brave young Americans. There has not been an intelligence
fail like this in my lifetime and I have been around for a long time.


(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: There has not been an intelligence fail like this in his
lifetime? What about 9/11? What about the Iraq war with weapons of mass
destruction where 3,000 Americans died? What`s he talking about?

RENDELL: Yes. I mean, four Americans are obviously four too many.
But because our intelligence system broke down, we went to war in Iraq and
over 3,000 Americans died. How can he dare contrast those two?

The thing that really bugs me about this, Rev., is look, there was a
potential screw-up. We didn`t have the right security in place in
Benghazi. But Susan Rice had nothing to do with it. She wasn`t in the
chain of command. She didn`t have any responsibility at all.

All she did was go on television and, as you said, give the report
that the CIA had given to her. How can they pick on Susan Rice? Why not
wait until they find where the breakdown occurred? But, don`t make Susan
Rice the scapegoat. She served, as the president said, honorably, well and
with grace and dignity.

SHARPTON: You were the first Iraqi war veteran to serve in Congress.
When you hear McCain and others talk about this and they are saying they
want to block Susan Rice who had absolutely nothing to do with anything
other than she was briefed, as governor Rendell said, and repeating what
she was briefed. If they, if in fact, because we have no way of knowing
she`s nominated to be secretary of state, something the president clearly
said he`s not decided. But if she is and they raise the questions to Susan
Rice, how do they justify then that they voted to confirm Condoleezza Rice
who purported all over the world weapons of mass destruction that you went
to Iraq and fought for?

MURPHY: That`s right. And lost 19 men in my unit (INAUDIBLE),
Reverend. And let me tell you, that`s why people hate politics out there
in America. They thought the campaign was over, that we`d come together.
And they see time and time again. And it is not just the destruction when
it comes to our foreign policy.

The governor used to be the D.A. of Philadelphia and I was a military
prosecutor. There are hundreds of federal judges that are obstructing the
last four years that haven`t been confirmed by the Senate. It is time and
time again.

Gentlemen, ladies in the Senate, let`s get over it. Let`s come together as
Americans, not as Democrats or Republicans because what they are doing with
Susan Rice -- and, you know, I have a lot of respect for John McCain. You
know, he was a POW (ph) in Vietnam. He served his country. I really do.

But to see what he`s turning into, it`s like a character of himself.
And it breaks my heart. And I don`t know if it`s because he lost four
years ago to President Obama or what. But, it just breaks your heart as an
American to see this.

SHARPTON: The other thing that bothers me is when you hear these
conspiracy theories about Libya and the timing of the Petraeus resignation.
Let me show you since the congressman here raised Mr. Hannity. Let me show
you the conversation with Mr. Hannity.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Why now? Petraeus was supposed to
testify this week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. It`s so suspicious. It is not a coincidence
to me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The sword was lowered on Election Day. As soon as
the election is over, as soon as he can be dispensed with, the sword drops
and he`s destroyed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were dishonest with the American people.
Flat out lied about what happened.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So, this was all to stop Petraeus from testifying about
Benghazi. But he`s testifying tomorrow.

RENDELL: Sure.

SHARPTON: Are they going to be on the air tonight apologizing for
misleading people with their conspiracy theories?

RENDELL: They knew they could subpoena him as a civilian.

SHARPTON: Absolutely.

RENDELL: That`s ridiculous. But, what`s worse about this, Rev., is
that Eric Cantor, a Republican leader knew about it a month in advance.
So, if they wanted to bring it to light, Eric Cantor could have brought it
to light. There was no cover-up on the part of the administration. Eric
Cantor knew about it. He could have brought it to light.

Again, what Patrick said is absolutely right. The American people are
sick of this crap. They want us to concentrate on real things.

SHARPTON: Now, wouldn`t it be a logical question since it has been
stated and confirmed, as you just said, governor, that Eric Cantor was told
about this Petraeus situation. Wouldn`t it be logical to ask did Mr.
Cantor call the White House and say, "what are you going to do about this,
are you aware of this"? I mean, why are they pointing at everybody but the
one congressman that we know knew - that knew something, their fellow
colleague Mr. Cantor.

RENDELL: You couldn`t be more right. And the Republican head of the
house intelligence committee, Congressman Rogers, he didn`t know, that he
should have some words with Eric Cantor. Why didn`t Eric Cantor tell the
Republican head of the intelligence committee in the house.

MURPHY: And I served on the intelligence committee, Rev., and for
four years in Congress. And this is what gets my Irish up here. There was
a knucklehead who did this video that dishonored the prophet Mohamed.

SHARPTON: Right.

MURPHY: OK? There were protests all over the world in Egypt, in
Libya, in Tripoli and may or may not happen 400 miles away in Benghazi
regardless. But that`s what Susan Rice was saying. There were protests
but this was a terrorist act. Now, there may or may not been protesters,
was misinformation. We don`t know. But to turn that around when four
Americans died, even Ambassador Stevens` father -- parents said, please
stop politicizing the death of my son. And that they have no shame.

SHARPTON: And none of us should walk over the feelings of the
families that lost these four American lives.

MURPHY: That`s right.

SHARPTON: Congressman Murphy. Governor Rendell. Thank you so much
for your time.

RENDELL: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Coming up, are you sure you want to fight this guy?
President Obama`s very tough and very blunt talk on taxes today. What are
Republicans saying behind closed doors tonight?

Plus, the former GOP king maker is making all kinds of excuses. Wait
until you hear who Karl Rove is blaming his epic fail on.

And breaking tonight for the first time we are hearing what Mitt
Romney thinks about why he lost. It was a conference call with his
national finance committee and it was explosive. He`s talking about
African-Americans and women. You will definitely want to hear this one.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on the place for politics, MSNBC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, LATE SHOW: Top ten things going through his
mind while he was getting that lovely Romney/Ryan tattoo. Number ten,
worst mistake since my Herman Cain tattoo. Number three, does Obama care
cover tattoo removal? And the number one thought going through this guy`s
mind, Romney can still win, right? Right?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: He won`t back down. Today, the president took a tough
stand against Republicans on taxes. Yes, he has a mandate. A mandate for
the middle class and he made clear he`s going to fight for it. That`s
next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: President Obama had a blunt message for Republicans today.
He`s the boss and he is not budging. He is standing strong for fairness.
Say good-bye to those Bush tax cuts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: What I have told leaders privately as well as publicly is that
we cannot afford to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. What we can
do is make sure middle class taxes don`t go up. When it comes to the top
two percent what I`m not going to do is to extend further a tax cut for
folks who don`t need it which would cost close to a trillion dollars. We
should not hold the middle class hostage while we debate tax cuts for the
wealthy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Hold the middle class hostage. Make no mistake about it,
he means business. But Republicans are already digging in their heels.
Speaker Boehner, senator minority leader Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan. All
of them saying they will fight the president on taxes. All of them saying
the president doesn`t have a mandate. But President Obama has something to
say about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I have one mandate. I have a mandate to help middle class
families and families that are working hard to try to get into the middle
class. That`s my mandate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: This is a clear message. It`s what Americans voted for a
week ago. Are you sure you want this fight, Republicans?

Congressman Chaka Fattah is a Democrat from Pennsylvania and Ezra
Klein is a "Washington Post" columnist and MSNBC policy analyst. He`s
writing about the fight over taxes today and the piece is called "the big
question: how, not whether, to raise taxes."

Thank you both for joining me tonight.

EZRA KLEIN, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Thank you.

REP. CHAKA FATTAH (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Good to be here.

SHARPTON: Congressman, let me ask you. Do you think Republicans will
make a deal or is this 2010 with the tea party all over again?

FATTAH: Well, what the public needs to understand is the income tax
system that we have now is not fair to them. There is a report done by the
Congress each year by the joint committee on taxation shows thousands of
Americans who filed income taxes who made over a million dollars who paid
zero in federal income taxes.

Our corporate tax rates are unfair to certain businesses. Two-thirds
of American corporations pay nothing in terms of corporate taxes. So, we
need to reform the system. But, what the president is saying is that we
are not going to have a system in which the middle class bears the bulk of
the burden. And I know Ezra has seen it. But, perfectly legal which is a
book written by the leading Pulitzer prize-winning tax reporter on this
subject, Jay Clay shows if you make over $500,000 a year, you pay a much
lower share in taxes than if you make $70,000 or $80,000 a year.

And we have the changes and the president is going to hold to his
position. And he has one thing working in his favor which is this tax
cuts, this fail on taxes that`s been around for ten years, the Bush tax
cuts, expire by law on December 31. And everyone know ifs they go out of
existence, they are never coming back.

SHARPTON: But Congressman, Mr. Ryan says the president doesn`t have a
mandate. Let me let you hear for yourself what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Does Barack Obama now have a mandate?

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t think
so. Because they also re-elected the house of Republicans. So, whether
people intended or not we`ve got divided government.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Does your colleagues on the other side of the aisle feel
that they have the mandate on taxes, not the president, and they will not
make a deal or do you think ultimately Mr. Boehner, Mr. Ryan and others
will make a deal with the president around this issue?

FATTAH: I think before people sit down for holiday dinners this
December there will be a deal. It will be essentially on the president`s
terms because the leverage really rests with the president. The Congress
has to present a bill that he`s prepared to sign or all of the tax cuts go
out of existence. And when we come back in next year and the Senate passes
a tax cut bill for the middle class, it will pass in the house. It will
not have any of the tax cuts in existence for higher income people.

SHARPTON: Now Ezra, let`s look at the breakdown of the national debt
through 2019. You are the man that knows the charts better than anyone.
You can see the light blue area at the bottom shows various recovery
measures like the stimulus. The darker blue area is the impact of the
recession. That`s the second biggest driver. The red area that`s the wars
in Iraq and Afghanistan. And then, the orange area. The orange area is
the Bush-era tax cuts, by far, the largest piece of the mountain of debt.
Nothing else is close. This is the largest piece of the mountain of debt.
How can you seriously deal with the national debt, Ezra, without dealing
with the Bush tax cuts?

KLEIN: You can`t and we are not going to.

What I thought was fascinating about the way the discussion has moved
in the past week or two is you have seen in a clear way what it means to
win an election. So, two months ago the question in American politics was
will we raise taxes as part of the fiscal deal? Now the only question in
American politics at least on the budget is how will we raise taxes as part
of the fiscal deal? Are Republicans want to do it by some version of tax
reforms that keeps the top rate unchanged to other. That doesn`t believe
that revenue will actually come through. They don`t trust it. And today,
they say they are not going to leave the top rate unchanged. They are
going to let the Bush tax cuts for the top income expire. And if after
they expire and they have banked the trillion dollars in revenue
Republicans want to come through with tax reform, and we find another way
to get that revenue, fine. But this discussion is completely different
than it used to be. The fact that we will have new revenues is now a
completely fore gone conclusion.

SHARPTON: And Congressman, the president talked about it today. Let
me show you his statement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: This shouldn`t be a surprise to anybody. This was -- if there
was one thing that everybody understood was a big difference between myself
and Mr. Romney, it was when it comes to how we reduce our deficit, I argued
for a balanced responsible approach and part of that included making sure
that the wealthiest Americans pay a little bit more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Congressman, the president seemed clear to me. I think the
question is how does your colleagues deal with the tea party and far right
element in their caucus? Do they have enough votes?

If you look at the breakdown in Congress now, Congressman and Ezra, I
would like your response to this. You have 233 Republicans, 196 Democrats,
six are still undecided. Are there enough Republicans that will vote with
the Democrats on a compromise on the president`s term in your opinion,
congressman?

FATTAH: I believe there will be enough votes because the deal they
get in December will be a much better deal than they will get it in
January. So, it`s a matter of time. But, we have had billionaires and
millionaires who -- have been just too used to getting free stuff. And
that`s to have the most powerful country in the world to call home, the
best military and not have to pay their fair share. They have to pay their
fair share and the president said so. The president has said so today in
the clock works to his advantage, because if nothing happens, then all of
the tax cuts go out of existence.

SHARPTON: Right.

FATTAH: If nothing happens automatic spending reductions take place
and the deficit drops to half of what it is now which is I think is what
the president promised that he wanted to get the deficit to cut it by half.
Now, he`s saying do it my way or we will do it the way that Congress voted
to do it which is through a hatchet. And they are going to have to make a
choice to do this deal in December or live with the consequences in
January.

SHARPTON: Ezra, let me go back to you quickly. Put away the charts
and take out the crystal ball and tell me what will happen.

KLEIN: There is going to be - there is going to eventually be some
kind of a deal before we hit the cliff or after. Because as to congressman
says, if we go over the deal, we will have is five to one tax increases to
spending cuts, five to one because of the Bush tax cuts expiring. That`s a
much, much, much worse deal than what Barack Obama or President Obama is
offering the Republicans.

At some point, and I don`t know how much we have to damage the economy
before that, at some point, Republicans will do something they haven`t done
in many years now and vote for a tax increase.

SHARPTON: Congressman Chaka Fattah. Ezra Klein. Thank you both.

KLEIN: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, the fallout from Karl Rove`s $300 million fail
is actually getting humorous. Wait until you hear the new plan.

And breaking tonight for the first time we are hearing what Mitt
Romney really thinks about why he lost. You will not believe who he`s
blaming. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: House majority leader Nancy Pelosi announced today she will
remain in Congress. She made her announcement standing with most of the 61
female members of the house.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: I had made the decision
that some of you may have some interest in order to continue work on
empowering women to making sure our affordable care act is enforced in a
way that no longer being a woman would be a pre-existing medical condition.
I have made a decision to submit my name to my colleagues to once again
serve as the house democratic leader.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Despite being attacked relentlessly by right wingers,
congresswoman Pelosi made it clear she has work to do. Got that,
Republicans?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Poor Karl Rove. He was the $300 million man. Bush`s
brain, the architect, the GOP kingmaker. The man Democrats feared. And
now, he has a new title -- excuse maker. It started with his on-air
meltdown right after the election was called. Now a week later, listen to
him respond to the backlash.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KARL ROVE, AMERICAN CONSULTANT AND POLICY ADVISOR: It`s a nice badge
of honor that "The New York Times" and "Liberal Pundits" and Democratic
Party apparatchiks were out there kicking me around. It`s a sign of how
effective they know crossroads was in 2010 and what a vital role it played
in keeping the race close this year.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So he`s getting slammed because he was effective two years
ago. And only liberals are kicking him around. That`s an interesting read
on the situation. What else you got?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROVE: It looks to me like a large number of voters, particularly
whites in the industrial Midwest, industrial Midwest working class white
voters said, you know what, I can`t vote for Obama. But at the end I just
can`t bring myself to vote for Romney.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Wait. What about that (INAUDIBLE). Way to kick a man when
he`s down. But, surely you deserve some blame. No?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROVE: I hate to say it. But, we need to copy what Howard Dean did
and that is make our ground game in all 50 states. We need to have a
better ground game in all 50 states.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Imagine that. A ground game in all states. Novel idea.
But, what about your role?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROVE: We need to move the convention back to June or July so our
nominee gets picked. Then can begin raising money for the general election
and doesn`t get outspent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Outspent? This coming from a man who dropped $300 million?
OK, OK. But what about the conservative media coverage that falsely hyped
up Romney?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROVE: The number of debates we had was jaw-dropping. And most of the
time we had some liberal media figure whose intention was to depict the
Republican Party and conservatives as some kind of nut fringe group.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That`s the ticket. When in doubt, blame the liberal media.
But, if I lost $300 million, I guess I would come up with excuses, too.

Joining me now is Abby Huntsman, host and producer of "Huff Post Live"
and Nia-Malika Henderson, national political reporter for the "Washington
Post."

Thank you both for being here this evening.

ABBY HUNTSMAN, HOST, PRODUCER, HUFF POST LIVE: Thank you very much.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Great
to be here.

SHARPTON: Abby, let me start with you. Is rove just making excuses?

HUNTSMAN: He said it. I mean, we lost because of the date of the
convention. Can you believe it? I mean, it`s like we are watching this
mental breakdown on national television with Karl Rove which is a little
bit crazy.

Look, he`s right. The ground game is important. I think what we are
seeing now is the blame game being played out. But that, I don`t think the
ground game is what the problem was. The problem was they didn`t -- Romney
and his team didn`t have a message. They didn`t have ideas. So, you could
have the best ground game in the world, but if you don`t interest the voter
to actually have something to be excited about, how are they going to vote
for you?

So, that`s really the problem at hand. And then, I think what we are
seeing play out with Republicans right now is a little bit like what we saw
in 1984 with Mondale when he lost. The Democrats, they kind went out to
the weeds for a while. They didn`t know where to go. They were a little
bit lost. And then Clinton came back, and he brought the party back with
ideas. So, I hope this is a lesson for Republicans. And I have hope that
we can come out of this at some point.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you, Nia-Malika. We are seeing Rove`s super PAC
record and is ramping up efforts to blocking Democratic legislation or the
legislative efforts of Democrats. So he`s blaming, making excuses and at
the same time switching now to go after some of the legislation that the
Democrats are planning in this coming legislative session.

HENDERSON: That`s right. You know, I mean, he`s essentially doubling
down on what you heard from conservatives that night when Obama lost which
is that it`s not their fault. It`s somebody else`s fault.

I think Karl Rove, in some ways, is becoming a man without a party.
He has said for instance that it`s the liberal media going after him. But,
if you talked privately to Republicans, you talk to conservatives, they
feel like he didn`t do the party much good this go around, $300 million.
He`s probably going to have his hand out again to some of these donors.
But, he has got to tell them something to convince them to keep giving to a
cause that has so far failed in this last election.

I think you have heard from other Republicans, people like Bobby
Jindal, people like Marco Rubio, that the party does needs to do some soul
searching, does needs to look at not just the ground game but the sort of
message of the party, the way they can be more inclusive in terms of
African-Americans, in terms of Latinos.

I think he is, in many ways, talking like a man who`s far outside of
the main stream of his party. And far outside of the kind of circles where
things are really going to get done. On Capitol Hill, at the Republican
governors association. So, I think he`s trying to make himself relevant
again when this election proved that he is diminishing in terms of his
credibility in the party.

SHARPTON: But Abby, is not only Rubio or Jindal, even McCain is
saying different than Rove. Let me show you what John McCain said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: It`s obvious they were using the wrong model. And they -- we
questioned that model from things we were hearing on the ground as we
traveled for two months without a day off around the country campaigning
for our candidates and for Mitt Romney. And we were hearing things on the
ground that contradicted these pollsters. But, you know, one of the first
things I would say is maybe some of those pollsters should give them money
back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, he slammed some of Romney`s pollsters, but in using
the same pollster that is McCain used. I mean, --

HUNTSMAN: A little ironic, right?

SHARPTON: A little.

HUNTSMAN: I mean, there is so much blame game being play out right
now. But, I just keep going back to the message. And I`m speaking as a
millennial, coming from my generation where. I don`t remember Romney
speaking at a lot of college campuses. I can`t really remember that
happening.

So, you have to say, you know, why did we lose? You can blame the
ground game, you can blame the pollsters, you can blame everything else
around you as Karl Rove is doing. But, when it comes down to it, it really
is because of the messaging.

I mean, President Obama offered the status quo. We offered, you know,
more of the same on the track that`s working. What we saw from Romney and
Paul Ryan was not a message. They didn`t provide any specifics. They
didn`t provide an alternative path forward that was better for the key
groups.

So, I think there was wiggle room for women, for Latinos who were used
to say, you know what, I`m curious. I at least want to hear what you have
to say. And they didn`t offer that. So, that was the main problem.

SHARPTON: Nia-Malika, Sean Hannity came up with a different scenario.
He says that Mr. Romney lost because of voter fraud, especially in
Philadelphia. Look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: There is now speculation that voter fraud took place in
multiple cities after returns showed the president got 100 percent of the
vote in certain districts. Is that possible?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it`s possible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think it`s possible?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it`s not unprecedented.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think the odds are this is truthful?
I mean, the odds t that this possible Zero.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not zero.

HANNITY: I don`t believe it. I think this is fraud.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, his own guests told him, Nia-Malika, it is possible
and it has happened before. That at some district for Jon McCain, by the
way. But he, oh, no, no, it`s voter fraud.

HENDERSON: That`s right. You know, I think you have Hannity there
acting like speculation is actually proof of anything. One thing I think
happened in terms of voter turnout from Democrats, from a lot of voters,
African-Americans, Latinos, that a lot of this conversation around voter
I.D. laws actually energized the base. There was a sense that they were
not going to be denied from casting ballots.

So, this consistent talk about voter fraud ultimately, I think,
backfires on Republicans. And a lot of conversations whether or not you
have it on FOX News, whether or not you have on other conservative blogs.
It hasn`t done the party much good because it has allowed Democrats to
essentially paint the entire Republican Party as Sean Hannity, as Rush
Limbaugh.

And so, I think at some point, Republicans really need to sit down
with themselves. And you know, there is talk of seceding from the country.
I mean, they need to secede in some ways from these conservative outlets
that have just not served the interest of their parties.

HUNTSMAN: I do think though, and I`m speaking from the younger
generation, that in a way it`s he will they in the Republicans lost this
last time. I think it gives them a chance to sit back, to re-evaluate.
They were not effective. So, what does their message going to be going
forward? And I`m hopeful as a younger Republican that they can get back on
their feet and they can stop playing this blame game at a certain point and
start talking about some ideas, talking about things that we can get
excited about as a party. I hope that happens.

SHARPTON: Abby Huntsman, thanks for your time this evening. Nia-
Malika, please stick around.

We have breaking news tonight. Mitt Romney`s first comments on why he
lost the election. You want to hear what he says about African-Americans
and women. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We have heard nothing from Mitt Romney since he lost the race
Republicans thought he should have won. The governor has been silent since
he walked off the stage in Boston a week ago in defeat.

Today, we finally heard from him. But I guess we wish we hadn`t.
"The New York Times" reports on a 20-minute conference call he held today
with his national finance committee. During the call, he blamed the loss
on President Obama`s gifts to minorities and young voters. The times says,
quote, "Mr. Romney said the president had followed the old playbook of
wooing specific interest groups, especially the African-American community,
the Hispanic community, and young people."

Mr. Romney explained, with targeted gifts and initiatives. In each
case they were very generous in what they gave to those groups, Mr. Romney
said. Our strategy worked well with many people. But for those who were
given a specific gift, if you will, our strategy did not work terribly
well. He thinks he lost because of so-called gifts? This shows just how
clueless he is.

Joining me now is Dr. James Peterson, professor at Lehigh University
and a contributor to the grio.com. And let`s bring back in Nia-Malika
Henderson of the "Washington Post."

Thank you both for joining me.

JAMES PETERSON, PROFESSOR, LEHIGH UNIVERSITY: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: I want to hear what you think about this, starting with
you, James, what do you make of the comments?

PETERSON: Well, these - well, I`m not surprised that Mr. Romney made
the comments. I think we should just try to clarify what he`s referring to
as gift-giving and really explain it for what it actually is. The things
he`s talking about are the reformation of different interest rates and
different policies that we have used for a long time in terms of
privatizing student loans for college students. That`s not a gift to
college students, by the way. That`s us having a better understanding of
the ways we should not be privatizing loans for college students. So, we
have to think about the economic impact to some of these things are and
think more seriously about what he`s referring to as gifts. He talks about
free contraceptives to young women. Remember, not only do contraceptives
help to diminish abortions, but it also -- they are used for different
health issues for women. It`s not just about contraception. So, putting
that as a part of health care is very, very important.

Young people being able to stay on their parents` health care is not a
gift to young people. That`s a gift to parents and to our economy on the
whole. As health care costs increase our economy becomes much more
strained by young people trying to find entry level jobs and trying to
sustain themselves. And that moment in a young person`s life it is very,
very important to have as much support as possible as they become more
career progresses.

So, the kind of things he`s referring to as gifts that is a very
pejorative term when you really think about it and look at them in their
proper context. These are things that are actually helped young people
again, sort of access to opportunity is success that they deserve after
college.

SHARPTON: Now Nia-Malika, he actually talks about the president`s
health plan, saying in health with the African-American vote. Quote, "you
can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being
told you`re now going to get free health care particularly if you don`t --
worth $10,000 per family in perpetuity. I mean, this is huge."

HENDERSON: Well, you know, I mean, I think Mitt Romney, it isn`t
surprising. This is a re-prize of what he said in the 47 percent video.

PETERSON: That`s right.

HENDERSON: I think, again, it`s a misreading of what happened. You
don`t win Massachusetts because of the black vote. You don`t win Wisconsin
because of the black vote or the Latino voter, Iowa or any of these states.

SHARPTON: Or women. He mentioned contraceptives, so women are a part
of it. Free contraceptives as part of what he said. I`m quoting, James,
refer to it free contraceptives were very big with young college-aged
women.

HENDERSON: Right. I mean, I think here, Mitt Romney is proving that
his time on the national stage is over. He`s talking to donor there is,
making excuses about why he blew millions of dollars that they donated to
him over the amounts when he had his hand out at mini fund-raisers.

But again, he`s off message in terms of where the Republican Party
needs to be and where many folks in the party say they want to be. But
here again, I guess it is no surprise that he`s talking this way about
this. I mean, there are times when you listen to Mitt Romney and it`s
clear that he`s in some ways getting his talking points from the
conservative blogosphere. And I think this is one of those cases. This
whole idea that there are more takers in this country than makers. And
supposedly, the takers are the ones who voted for Obama. It`s incredibly
offensive. It doesn`t help the Republican Party when he says things like
that. And I`m sure many of them are glad that this is, you know, his final
round in terms of interviews.

At some point it seems like President Obama may sit down with him to
get ideas around the economy. I doubt any of these conversations about
Obamacare and contraception are going to come up.

PETERSON: -- are going to help.

SHARPTON: But James, you know, the thing that`s so disturbing to me,
when you have people that say, don`t give any raising of taxes or don`t
stop tax cuts to the rich it help it is economy. It helps -- they almost
deserve it. A sense of entitlement.

But, if you give anything to people that are working every day and
making the country work it`s a gift to them. They are entitled to nothing.
You are giving them a gift. Americans aren`t entitled to health care.
Students aren`t entitled to being aided along with college education.

PETERSON: Exactly.

SHARPTON: They are given gifts, but the rich are entitled to stuff.
There is a real difference in how we judge people`s humanity and when you
look at those kinds of economic policies.

PETERSON: That`s right, Reverend Al. And exactly what Nia said as
well which is, it is offensive and it is also wrong. I mean, these people
pay taxes as well. You know, the kind of ways in which we force this
distinction between taxpayers and our government, and the people in the
government is a really false distinction. It does serve those who are sort
of subsidized by the government invisibly like the kind of corporate tax
breaks that oil companies receive or any of the ways of which those of the
rich who can use and manipulate the tax code to keep more of their
resources. They are takers as well.

But, at the end of the day, with the people that Mr. Romney is talking
about on this call, they are also taxpayers. They work. They pay taxes.
These young people we are talking about coming out of college, these are
the people of the future. These are people who are going to do the
research, and do the sort of work that we need to transform out economy to
a 21st century economy. For us to demonize them or to somehow think that
the government is giving them gifts doesn`t make sense. It`s not only
wrong-headed but it is actually inaccurate. These will pay taxes as well.
These are part of our economy. And the specific policy that Mr. Romney is
talking about -- affordable health care, reformation of the student loan
processes, those are things that help our economy long-term.

SHARPTON: And these are policies that have been advocated for
decades. I think that clearly FDR and others were not giving out gifts 60
years in advance for President Obama.

PETERSON: Exactly.

SHARPTON: James Peterson. Nia-Malika Henderson. Thank you for your
time tonight to both of you.

PETERSON: Thanks, Rev.

HENDERSON: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, President Obama was tough today. He`s also said
that dirty word that Republicans just hate -- compromise. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: As we reported President Obama stood strong on taxes and
the budget. He was open to deal-making in other areas like climate change
and immigration reform. Again and again, he let Republicans know he`s open
to the ideas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Both parties can work together. There is only one way to
solve these challenges. That`s to do it together. I`m open to compromise
and new ideas. We have to work together and put our differences aside.
We`re going to have to compromise.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: We are going to compromise. That`s what Americans voted
for last week. Today, the president made it clear. He got the message.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: You know, Michelle and I were talking last night about, you
know, what an incredible honor and privilege it is to be put in this
position. And there are people all across the country, millions of folks
who worked so hard to help us get elected. But there are also millions of
people who may not have voted for us but are also counting on us. And you
know, we take that responsibility very seriously. I take that
responsibility very seriously. And I hope and intend to be an even better
president in the second term than I was in the first.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Hoping and depending on the president, hoping and depending
that people will be firm in what they believe but secure enough to come to
the table and give and take to make America move forward and take care of
its people.

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.
END

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