updated 11/19/2012 11:46:06 AM ET 2012-11-19T16:46:06

POLITICS NATION
November 16, 2012

Guests: Michelle Cottle; Gary Ackerman; Margie Omero; Jim Wallis

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Thanks, Chris, and thanks to you
for tuning in. We are live from Washington, D.C.

Tonight`s lead, what winning looks like? President Obama ran on
fairness, and he`s about to deliver. We`re already seeing this president
standing strong on the key issues that won this election, fairness. I was
part of a group that met with him today at the White House. He is not
backing down. He knows that making this a more fair country, protecting
the middle class, is the central issue of our time. He will run on
fighting for a system that works for everyone where everyone gets a fair
shot at the American dream. Before our group of civic leaders met with the
president, he met with the Democratic and Republican leaders. They know he
has it the upper hand. They know he holds the cards in this fight. With
the threat of the fiscal cliff looming, that -- when that happens, you`re
going to see a winner and a winner who won the national election.

The Republican leaders even the Republican leaders seem to get that
today. Their words were such a change from what we`ve heard from them
before.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: To show our
seriousness, we`ve put revenue on table as long as it`s accompanied by
significant spending cuts.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: We`re prepared to put
revenue on the table provided we fix the real problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Revenue is on the table. This is progress. This is going
in the right direction. This is what winning looks like. When the
president said he would not budge on extending Bush tax cuts for the
wealthy. And challenged the Republicans to join him in allowing the
continuation of the tax cuts to the middle class and the working class and
took out his pen and said he would sign it right now, the Senate had passed
it, where is the house, I think he put the Republicans, some of whom have
to deal with their own constituents in 2014 in a position to where they had
to say how do I go home until my middle class and working class voters,
Republican or democrat, that I`m holding them hostage for the billionaires
and the millionaires. That might be why President Obama is the president
and won the election.

Joining me now is E.J. Dionne, columnist for the "Washington Post" and
an MSNBC contributor and Michelle Cottle, Washington correspondent for
"Newsweek" and "the Daily Beast."

First of all, thank you both for coming on the show tonight.

E.J. DIONNE, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Good to be with you.

MICHELLE COTTLE, WASHINGTON REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST, NEWSWEEK:
Thanks so much.

SHARPTON: E.J., let me start with you. Has the president won this
argument? I mean, I think that it was politically brilliant. I happen to
agree with it, but in terms of idea logically and politically, but to put
the Republicans in a position where they`re going to have to be responsible
for raising the taxes on their constituents or say we`re going to make your
taxes go up if we don`t save the rich, I think he put them between a rock
and a hard place.

DIONNE: Well, you know, it`s so ironic because when we are in this
position because the Republicans a long time ago under President Bush were
trying to stuff more tax cuts into a very limited number so they said aha,
if we say they expire, then we can actually pass for tax cuts.

Well now, that expiration date means the president has the upper hand.
And it`s clear from what they were saying today, the principle has been
won. Taxes are going up on the wealthy. What we are just fighting about
now is the price and the form of the tax increase.

Now, the formatters I think, and the president would simply like the
Clinton rates to come in to effect. The Republicans say we can get the
money we need from tax reform. I`m a little skeptical of that. And it
goes back to where you started. If he does nothing, the original Clinton
rates come back and they get blamed for raising middle class taxes. So, I
think the politics runs mostly one way which hasn`t happened often in
Washington over the last couple of years.

SHARPTON: But Michelle, that`s the political side of it. But on the
absolute everyday living side of it, why would they not want to just do
what the senators have already done, and that is to continue the tax cuts
for the middle class and the working class who need it and extending
unemployment for people that need it, the unemployment insurance? I mean,
what is so hard about that.

COTTLE: Well look, you`re talking about house members who got to
where they are on a message that just kind of relentlessly beat than
government`s too big, that taxation is theft, that you need to cut, cut,
cut, cut, cut. And now, they`re in a position where to get anything done,
they need to negotiate. But, this is not a house that has been very good
about compromise at all.

SHARPTON: They`re going to have a hard time explaining to their
constituents, we`re not talking now about what does Romney try to call it,
gifts. We`re talking about their constituents in Kentucky, Mr. McConnell,
your constituents are going to having to pail $3,000 more in taxes because
you want to protect Donald Trump? I don`t know how they sell that, E.J.

SHARPTON: No. It`s very hard to sell. That`s why the president
pulled out that pen, that picture you`re going to see a lot, which is why I
think they are eventually going to give way.

But, Michelle is absolutely right. There were a lot of Republicans
who just still don`t want to give the president anything. But I think the
signal was that John Boehner was re-elected as speaker by this Republican
conference, and they knew that Boehner was going to be a dealmaker with the
president. So even the hard liners may have read the election returns, and
I think even the hard liners don`t be responsible for a tax increase.

SHARPTON: But, not only Boehner, even McConnell. Let me show you
this, Michelle. McConnell and Boehner had a different kind of sound,
different tone today after the meeting. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Obviously the president won re-election.
The Republicans were basically unable to get any seats in the Senate. More
people voted for Democrats in the house than Republicans. Why do you have
any leverage whatsoever?

BOEHNER: There`s a Republican majority here in the House. The
American people re-elected the Republican majority.

MCCONNELL: It`s important to remember that in this case, the voters
also re-elected a Republican-controlled house last week. The fact is the
government is organized no differently today than it was after the
Republican wave of 2010.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, listen to what they had to say today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tomorrow is speaker
Boehner`s birthday. So for those of you who want --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I believe we`re getting that tape. I want to show --

DIONNE: Happy birthday, John Boehner.

SHARPTON: I`m going to go to that. But I want to show the difference
in the tone between then and now because today, you know, all of what you
saw right after the election was, you know, well, you know, they elected
both the president and us. Today they were talking about revenue`s on the
table. They were talking about, well, we think we can work this out. It
was a much different tone than we saw in those earlier statements that we
just showed.

DIONNE: Right. Well, I think they had to show some toughness for the
people in their caucus but they know what the underlying reality is. And I
think that helps explain the tone. And you know, there`s just nothing like
winning an election. It is a lot better than losing an election. And you
saw that, with all the Republicans running away from Mitt Romney who tried
to explain the 47 percent comment, you know, in these latest comments, they
just ran away and said that`s not us.

COTTLE: Yes. And you`ve had Republican leaders out there talking
about, do you really want to go to the mattresses over this issue? Do you
really want to lose the country because you want to fight for these really
high bracket tax breaks?

DIONNE: Yes.

SHARPTON: Even "the Wall Street Journal," they had an editorial. The
editorial board of "wall Street Journal" seems to indicate that the GOP
should take a deal now, "Wall Street Journal." Let me read you what they
said. Quote "if Republicans don`t blink and we go over the cliff, from the
president`s point of view, so what? Mr. Obama then has an excuse to blame
Republicans if there`s another recession."

Meanwhile, he pockets the higher tax rates that take effect on January
1st anyway. He can then negotiate a budget deal next year without having
to make any tax concessions. This is "the Wall Street Journal."

COTTLE: When you`ve lost "the Wall Street Journal," you`ve lost the
fight. I`m sorry.

DIONNE: The days of miracles and wonders a man sang awhile back.
It`s over. The "journal" is very high church conservatism, and they would
not budge unless they looked at the way this was set up. I mean, it`s just
very badly set up for the Republicans.

SHARPTON: And the president now has a 58 percent approval rating.
That`s the highest since July of 2009. At this point, it looks like be
there may be some serious change in the air in this country after this
election. And elections do have consequences.

DIONNE: They do. I mean, I think where you`re going to get into
something more difficult and more difficult for progressives is that the
president is going to make some cuts. And I think there are going to be
some real arguments possibly that among progressives themselves over how
much can -- is legitimate to cut particularly for Medicare, how is it cut?
Is it cut in a way that hurts benefits? Is it cut from providers but what
effect does that have? So I think there`s stuff down the road that`s more
difficult. But on this round, I think he`s --

SHARPTON: I think the spending cuts, you`re right. And Michelle, you
can weigh in on this, but the spending cuts, I think, that`s where their
debate is going to be even from those of us that call ourselves
progressives. But that`s why I think it`s too me easy for the Republicans
to meet on this about maintaining the tax cut for the middle class and the
working class because clearly, they`ve already voted for that in the
Senate. I mean, why would they make a fight over this is beyond me.

COTTLE: Yes, it`s not really in their best interests to stake their
claim in this way. But you know, progressives have made clear, and I was
talking to Congressman Keith Ellis son with the Progressive Caucus, and
doesn`t wants any benefits touch with entitlement and he wants the military
cut and things like this. These are going to be fights the president has
with his own side. S, it will be interesting to see how that goes.

SHARPTON: E.J. Dionne and Michelle Cottle, thanks for your time this
evening. And both of you, have a great weekend.

COTTLE: Thanks, Rev.

DIONNE: You too.

SHARPTON: Coming up, John McCain`s shameful rush to judgment on Libya
and how the facts are making him look even worse.

Plus, the drummed up Libya scandal is all part of a pattern. Coming
from the right, we`re exposing the evolution of the smear ahead.

And we all knew Mitt Romney was a loser, and now Republicans do, too.
This is only a small part of what Chris Christie said today about the gifts
comment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), GOVERNOR, NEW JERSEY: You can`t expect to be the
leader of all the people and be divisive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Have you joined the "Politics Nation" conversation on
Facebook yet? We`re still getting plenty of comments on our page about
Governor Christie and his criticism of Mitt Romney`s gifts comment.

Honey writes, finally a Republican who gets it.

Karen agreed, adding, I just hope House and Senate Republicans follow
his honorable lead.

And Jerry told us, Christie is like the rest of the country. He sees
Romney for what he is, a phony!

We`ll have much more on Christie backing away from Mitt Romney coming
up.

But first, we want to hear what you think. Please head over to
Facebook and search "Politics Nation" and like us to joint conversation
that keeps going long after the show ends.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: For weeks, John McCain has been slandering our ambassador
to the U.N., Susan Rice. Saying she didn`t tell the truth about the attack
on our consulate in Libya and even that she`s not that the bright.

But today, McCain came face to face with the facts. For the first
time, we saw the CIA talking points on which Ambassador Rice based her
comments on the Sunday talk shows. The CIA said quote "the currently
available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were
spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. embassy in Cairo and
evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi
and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists
participated in the violent demonstrations." And, of course, that`s
exactly what Ambassador Rice told the American people.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS: Our current assessment
is that what happened in Benghazi was in fact, initially a spontaneous
reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo. We believe
that it looks like extremist elements individuals joined in that -- in that
effort.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Ambassador Rice reported exactly what she was told by the
CIA. And testifying behind closed doors on Capitol Hill today, general
David Petraeus backed her up. Looks like maverick McCain`s flying solo
with his fake talk express.

Joining me now is Congressman Gary Ackerman, Democrat from the New
York, and senior member house foreign affairs committee and Ryan Grim,
Washington bureau chief of the "Huffington Post." He`s writing about John
McCain`s call for a committee to investigate the Benghazi attacks today.

Thank you both for being here tonight.

REP. GARY ACKERMAN (D), NEW YORK: Thank you.

RYAN GRIM, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, HUFFINGTON POST: Thank you,
Reverend.

SHARPTON: Congressman, let me start with you. In your view, what
happened today? Is that significant in the McCain smear of ambassador
rice?

ACKERMAN: Yes, I think it`s very significant. I mean, these people
are now being confronted with facts to put the lie to the whole program
that they`ve been embarked on, which has basically been a program to
discredit the president and the entire administration. They are continuing
the war of de-legitimizing him. They don`t understand that they`ve lost
the last two national elections and these crazy language things that
they`re using, their completely out of place. Beyond the pale kind of
tactics which are reprehensible, are not going to work with the American
people because the facts are going to be there and they`re going to
confront them.

SHARPTON: Now, even Republican congressman peter king confirmed that
the CIA came up with those talking points used by ambassador rice. Watch
this, Congressman.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: The process was completed, and they
said OK, go with those talking points. Again, I got impression about
seven, eight, nine different agencies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: But you said the CIA said OK to the
revised reports?

KING: Well, they said in that after it goes through the process, they
OK it to go. They said OK for it to go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: They said OK to go. So how can senator McCain say that
will Ambassador Rice misled the American people or knew anything different
when you even have Peter King, a Republican Peter King, saying yes, the CIA
told those are the talking points, go with that?

ACKERMAN: Well, evidently senator McCain has his own sense of reality
which is very much beyond the pale and not in the world of reality. He`s
still fighting the war that he`s been fighting against this president
trying to discredit him and to make him illegitimate.

Ambassador Rice is one of the brightest level headed, straight
shooting public servants that we very, bar none. They`re trying to get to
the president by discrediting her and trying to set and lay the groundwork
for defeating one of the president`s possible, nobody`s said it, but
possible appointees in the upcoming administration because her name has
been mentioned for secretary of state. So they`ve embarked on that from
the beginning.

She is well disciplined. She would not be off the program. If she
reported what the CIA intelligence was, you can bet and the Democrats
believe that from the very beginning that that was the word from the CIA.

But the real, real problem confronting America is the way these guys
are willing to slander the president and the administration by any means.
We certainly didn`t do that, the Democrats I`m talking about, during the
Bush administration. When we had a different secretary of state Colin
Powell, and he operated on what he said was the intelligence that he got.

SHARPTON: Yes.

ACKERMAN: Which was totally completely false, filled with lies,
absolutely absurd when the truth was actually known and we didn`t take
advantage of it because we are all supposed to act like Americans and
patriots. These guys are anything but.

What these guys have done is they`re willing to sack their own
quarterback in order to get themselves into the game. Those are not team
players. These guys are like people on Wall Street who go in and short a
stock which means you go and bet against it. You bet that the stock is
going to fall and the company`s going to lose money and you cheer for that
to happen. And because you`ve made that play, doesn`t mean that you`re a
fan of the company just because you`re getting in there. It`s a very
unpatriotic thing to do.

SHARPTON: Let me go to Ryan Grim here because I agree with you,
Congressman. We did not do it to Colin Powell or to Condoleezza Rice.

Ryan, you wrote in your piece in the "Huffington Post" today something
that may begin to explain what McCain is doing. In January, I`m reading
from your piece, the Arizona senator will lose his top-ranking committee
seat due to term limits. The only ranking Republican spot available to him
next session will be on Indian affairs committee, unless the Senate creates
a brand-new select committee with extensive authority to investigate the
Benghazi Libya attack and the U.S. government`s response."

Are you suggesting that he wants a committee because he really will
not be a major player come January?

GRIM: It`s impossible to know what`s exactly motivating him, but the
facts are these, that he -- his slide into irrelevance would be stemmed by
a new committee. You know, he`s behind Tom Coburn on homeland security.
He`s not on foreign relations. And as you said, he`s off his current
ranking seat on armed services.

He`s already done the Indian affairs committee. That`s the perch he
used to go after Jack Abramoff. So he couldn`t really do that again. So
yes, so if they create a new committee and he`s the top Republican on it
that allows him to going on Sunday shows and continuing to pontificate on.

SHARPTON: And you have breaking news on the position of that new
committee?

GRIM: That`s right. Harry Reid just send a letter back to him
saying, thanks for the suggestion, but no thanks. We are going to do this
through the normal channels. And he`s rejecting the --

SHARPTON: So the majority leader`s rejecting Mr. McCain`s request for
a special committee.

GRIM: Right.

SHARPTON: Congressman, the way Congress works, he has -- he in the
Senate, even though you`re in the house but he in the Senate has his work
cut out for him if the majority leader is denying that, wouldn`t you say?

ACKERMAN: There`s no work for him to do. He doesn`t have anything
cut out. The majority leader is the one who will make the decision. And
there`s no way that senator McCain can override that.

It seems that Ryan`s right. This is very, very possibly and we don`t
know what`s in McCain`s mind, but this is a fight to stay relevant on his
part. And what people try to stay relevant, sometimes they say the
wackiest darnedest, (INAUDIBLE) and wrong head kinds of things. And he is
off on that tangent right now.

SHARPTON: Representative Gary Ackerman and Ryan Grim, thank you both
for your time this evening. And both of you have a nice weekend.

GRIM: You, too.

ACKERMAN: Take care.

SHARPTON: Ahead, this Republican chairman in Maine is apologizing
after complaining about quote "dozens of black people" voting. But his
apology actually made it worse.

And say good-bye to be this friendship. Chris Christie speaks on Mitt
Romney`s gifts comment. You got to hear this. Stay with us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST LATE SHOW: Top ten Mitt Romney scapegoats.
Listen to this now, number ten, the ancient Sumarians who invented
arithmetic. I don`t get that.

And number four, this guy right here, that guy. There`s Paul Ryan.
Number three, fact checkers. I don`t get this one either. Number two, the
Republican Party for nominating him. Ouch. Oh.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: No matter how you slice it, a lot of Republicans just can`t
accept the president`s health care law is here to stay. Some dead Enders
on the right declared today papa John`s appreciation day, urging
conservatives to grab a slice of pizza because the company`s CEO slammed
the health care law.

This summer, he said quote "Obama care will cost 11 to 146 cents per
pizza. Mama Mia, the whole extra dime per pizza pie to get health care for
everyone in America, hey, Republicans, didn`t you get the memo? You lost
the election and the fight is over. Just ask John Boehner.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER: It`s pretty clear that the president was re-elected. Obama
care is the law of the land.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It`s happening and there`s nothing they can do about it.
Right now, states are deciding how to implement a key part of the law.
States can either set up exchanges for people to buy insurance or let the
federal government do it for them. You think that choice would be easy for
Republican governors, given how much they hate the federal government.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don`t like when the federal government comes
and shoves things down our throat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Sadly, the hardest part of my job
continues to be this federal government.

RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS GOVERNOR: I mean all the states are actually
under assault by this federal government. They are under assault by this
federal government.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So what do these governors decide? Rick Perry and his
buddies are letting the feds set up their exchanges. They don`t want the
federal government to have any control over health care. So now they`re
letting the federal government have more control over health care.

These Republican politicians have tied themselves into knots trying to
deal with the law of the land. And now they`re eating some humble pizza
pie. Nice try. But we got you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We all know Mitt Romney was a loser. But until this week,
we didn`t know Republicans thought so, too. And now, they just want him to
go away. Today, New Jersey governor Chris Christie became the most high
profile Republican so far to reject Romney`s claim that President Obama won
because he gave gifts to minorities.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Do you agree with Bobby Jindal, it was a
terrible thing to say and stayed terribly?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure.

CHRISTIE: You can`t expect to be leader of all the people and be
divisive, OK? You have to talk about themes, policies that unite people
and play to their aspirations and their goals and their hopes for their
family and their neighbors. And I always think this kind of scapegoating
(ph) after elections, I mean, when you lose, you lost. Someone asked me
the other day, why did Mitt Romney lose? Because he got less votes than
Barack Obama, that`s why.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Sure, it was terrible. You can`t be divisive. Republicans
have finally woken up and realized that is not good politics to insult half
the American people. They just want Romney to disappear.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST, MORNING JOE: Is it time for Mitt Romney
to move on and stop having conference calls?

CHRISTIE: That`s up to him. Mitt Romney is a friend of mine. I
understand he is very upset about having lost the election and very
disappointed. I`ve never run for president. We`ve lost elections. I`ve
lost elections but never for the presidency. I`m sure it stings terribly.

SCARBOROUGH: It`s not helpful, right.

CHRISTIE: Of course not, Joe. But he`s a good man and he will find
his level. And I think it`s still a little raw. So do I wish he hadn`t
said those things, of course not. But on the other hand, I`m not going to
bury the guy for it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I`m not going to bury the guy for it, but I sure am happy to go
on TV and talk about it. And late today, Romney`s former national co-
chairman Tim Pawlenty joined the chorus, kicking the former governor to the
curb.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM PAWLENTY, FORMER ROMNEY NATIONAL CO-CHAIRMAN: I don`t think it`s
a matter of people looking at the election and saying I`m going to vote
because of, you know gifts. I think they looked at it and said which one
of these candidates would they prefer because leadership considerations and
also can understand their needs the best. I don`t think it`s as simple as
saying the president gave out gifts. I just don`t think it`s that simple.
There`s a lot more to it than that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So now, of the biggest names in the GOP have condemned
Romney`s comments, including a bunch of his former pals and some folks who
may try to run for president in 2016. These Republicans have seen the
writing on the wall and are practically shoving Mitt Romney off the public
stage.

Joining me now is Melissa Harris-Perry host of the Melissa Harris-
Perry show here on MSNBC and Margie Omero, Democratic strategies.

Thank you both for joining me tonight.

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR, MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY SHOW:
Absolutely.

MARGIE OMERO, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Melissa, the Romney comments have managed to do what
nothing else has, unify the Republicans.

HARRIS-PERRY: Look, I guess I can say a couple of things. One, we
already knew before this general election that Republicans really did not
like Mitt Romney. That was not, you know, if we can go back and remember
the primaries, they seem so distanced now but those Republican primaries
were ugly and bruising in a circumstance where Mitt Romney really was
highly likely from the very beginning to be the nominee. So, you have to
ask sort of why wasn`t that ugly. And so, in a certain way, I think you`re
seeing that same thing show back up that we saw during the primaries.

But the second thing I would say and it goes back a little bit to the
conversation that you were having about the issue of our president,
President Obama and his foreign policy efforts. What we have seen from the
Republicans in terms of them quieting their own discord during the election
is that they are capable of being loyal when they feel like that loyalty is
fundamentally important for reaching their goal. In this case, it was the
goal of trying to defeat President Obama so they lined up behind a
candidate they didn`t actually like. But they`re unwilling to do it for
our president on the foreign policy stage because there`s still, despite
the fact we`re on the other side of the election, they`re still battling
this president.

SHARPTON: Now, Margie, it can seem that the Mr. Romney, the former
governor, is in denial. I mean, let me quote, give you a quote that he
said on the call to donors. He says "we are still having a hard time just
contemplating what could have been versus what is and it just doesn`t seem
real. We`re still in the stage of denial at my house. We still think the
campaign is going on." What do you make of that?

OMERO: I can appreciate that that call was a difficult call for him
to lead, undoubtedly. Nonetheless, the comment that he made, the gifts
comments is completely consistent with the 47 percent comment. It`s
consistent with Paul Ryan`s 30 percent comment. It`s consistent not just a
single comment here or there, the entire Republican Romney/Ryan platform,
the rhetoric, the makers versus takers language that we`ve seen from them.
And this is really a gift for Republicans, this gift line because it allows
them or gives them at least a first step to try and turn the page on the
campaign.

SHARPTON: Melissa, it`s not only former governor Romney that seems to
be in denial, some of the more renowned or influential Republicans are in
denial. When you look at the GOP chairman rather of Maine who worried
about voter fraud because dozens of black people voted, let me show you
what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLIE WEBSTER, MAINE GOP CHAIRMAN: In some parts of the state, for
example, in some parts of rural Maine, there were dozens, dozens of black
people who came and voted Election Day. Everybody has the right to vote.
But nobody in town knows anybody that`s black. How did it happen? I don`t
know. We`re going to find out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: I`m sorry.

SHARPTON: He then went ahead to explain why he said this. Watch his
explanation, professor.

He`s putting it up on screen. He says "I think we`re the whitest
state in the country. So if you go to the polls and see people who are
black, it`s unusual. There`s nothing about me that would be
discriminatory. I know black people. I played basketball every Sunday
with a black guy."

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, you have to wonder, Reverend Al like, where he
thinks this black guy.

SHARPTON: I`m not making this up. This is a quote.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. No, and you`ve got to wonder, where does he
think this black guy that he plays basketball came from? Like, does he
think he has a family and goes to church and has a barber and has friends
like? That dozens of black people who showed up, I mean, listen. That
kind of unawareness, I think, what you have done here is makes exactly the
connection that part of the denial that the Romney campaign is feeling.
And look, I get the human part of that. I get the as we heard Governor
Christie saying, it does sting to lose an election, especially one like the
U.S. presidency. But that denial, that belief that they could win and then
you know, hearing from Maine, we didn`t know that there were black people
who lived here basically.

SHARPTON: Other than the guy that plays basketball.

HARRIS-PERRY: Although, the guy plays basketball. But, in those
things being connected, I think, are really connected in that they`re part
of the GOP really failing to recognize what America is at this point. And
this kind of like determination, this refusal to live anywhere other than a
sort of 1950s version of what America used to be.

SHARPTON: Yes. Now, let me ask you. You are a political strategist,
Margie. Tell me the political cost of all of this denial. Because in the
middle of this, I mean, at one level it`s sad, another level it`s humorous.
But in the midst of all of this, if they don`t come to terms with the
reality that America has changed, will they not marginalize themselves and
eventually not be a major party?

OMERO: I think the denial piece, look, having a tough time the first
couple weeks after the election, I think that`s understandable. I don`t
know if there`s a long-term effect. But people expect politicians to argue
amongst themselves and call each other names. They really don`t want to
see elected officials really speak so divisively and derisively about the
electorate and say well, you know, these voters who cares about them. They
only want gifts. They only want that.

And the other thing, too, that I would point out, when you see people
say, this was really about minorities, is Obama won because minorities
turned out in record numbers and they all voted for Obama for whatever
reason, it`s almost as if they`re trying to invalidate the results. That`s
how it sounds to my ear. I think it sounds like that to a lot of other
people, too. And I think that in the long run isn`t going to help their
future goal of trying to woo some of those voters.

So, I think Chris Christie and his comments and others are right that
you need to ultimately be speaking to everybody in an inclusive way. And
that was why Obama was able to expand the electorate in 2008.

SHARPTON: Margie and Melissa, thanks so much for your time.

And be sure to catch Melissa Harris-Perry Saturdays and Sundays
starting at 10:00 a.m. eastern time.

Ahead, it was a privilege and honor to meet with the president today.
He ran on fairness and he`s about to deliver. Reverend Jim Wallis was
there with us. He joins me next.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How on earth did Mitt Romney find out about the
extraordinary bag of gifts that we got? Something for everybody in this.
Oh. What did Obama give us? Oh, bag of weed. That was nice, food stamp
cozy, contraception variety pack. How thoughtful on there. Pinata filled
with green cards.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: It was an interesting meeting at the White House today with
President Obama. I`ll talk about it with Reverend Jim Wallis, president of
Sojourners. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(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 that middle class taxes don`t go up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: President Obama vowed earlier this week to make sure taxes
don`t go up for 98 percent of Americans. And today at the White House, he
told the congressional leaders and others that he would hold firm on his
pledge. But he also said he`s open to new ideas that could help fix some
of the nation`s financial challenges.

I was at the White House today joined by a number of other activists
and civic leaders for a meeting with the president. It was a candid and
fruitful with a clear message that working people and middle class people
and poor people won`t get left behind.

Joining me now, Reverend Jim WALLIS, president and CEO of sojourners.
He was also in the meeting today.

Thanks for being here, Jim.

The president looked like he means business to us, 12 of us met with
him. He was very free with his time, seemed firm. What did you take away
from the meeting?

REVEREND JIM WALLIS, PRESIDENT, CEO, SOJOURNERS: It was a serious and
substantial conversation I thought.

Al, we`re not facing a battle over a fiscal cliff as they say as much
as a battle over the fiscal soul of this nation. We need a pathway to
financial sustainability, but will it include all of us or not? And so,
from the faith that means, it will include those whom Jesus called the
least of these, the poorest and vulnerable. And the issue of biblical
fairness is here, you know. Should we now really give a tax breaking to 98
percent of the American people, working families, especially low income
families and kids, doesn`t that make sense? Isn`t that fair and the
wealthy pay their fair share? So for us, this isn`t just a political
issue. There are religious issues involved here. And I raised those today
at the White House with the president.

SHARPTON: It`s a lot of drama back and forth outside, but the
president seemed real calm. He seemed firm. He listened to each one of
us. We went back and forth, agreements, disagreements. But he seemed very
calm and resolute that the 98 percent of America should not have to pay
higher taxes just to hold them hostage for two percent to continue to get
their tax cut. I think that`s one thread that we saw firm by the
president, a very calm but definite way.

WALLIS: And again, for many of us, this isn`t a partisan issue. It`s
a fairness issue. We`re talking about most of the American people needing
some help, some time to recover here. And the wealthy should pay their
fair share.

The bible is pretty clear about all this. The circle of protection,
which I`m a part of, includes the catholic bishops, the national
association of evangelicals, the Salvation Army. This is not a religious
left group or a partisan group. We`re saying that how we treat the poorest
and most are vulnerable is a fundamental principle for the health of our
nation. And the president made that clear today. He was going to protect
the poor and vulnerable and from the faith point of view, that`s a very
healthy thing to be committed to.

SHARPTON: Now, you mentioned evangelicals and the circle of
protection.

WALLIS: Right.

SHARPTON: Reverend Franklin Graham, who says he speaks for a lot of
evangelicals. Let me show you what he said on News Max TV.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REVEREND FRANKLIN GRAHAM, PRESIDENT, BILLY GRAHAM EVANGELISTIC
ASSOCIATION: In the last 40 years, we have taken our -- we`ve begun to
turn our backs on God. We`ve taken him out of the education system and
government and allowed ourselves to take God out of everything that we do.
And I believe God will judge our nation one day.

Maybe God will have to bring our nation down to our knees to where you
just have a complete economic collapse and maybe at that point, maybe
people will begin again to call upon the name of almighty God.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: What do you respond to that?

WALLIS: It`s very sad to see a religious leader using concerns that
Christians have for such partisan purposes which is what Franklin Graham is
doing. I want to bring God into the midst of this conversation about
fairness and justice and how we treat the vulnerable. But I think this
partisan manipulation of religion -- I`m an evangelical. And what`s clear
now is that evangelical will no longer mean white evangelical and Franklin
Graham has to get used to that.

The evangelical is Hispanic, African-Americans, Asians, didn`t vote
the way he did this time by a large majority. And so, we brought other
issues into the election like how we treat the poor, how we treat the
environment, how we welcome strangers. You in evangelicals last week
writing the president last week saying how we treat the immigrant
undocumented people is for us a biblical issue. We`re going to write them
again this week, the president and say who are serving the poor at
Christmastime and thanksgiving we`re involved in that. And those of us who
are doing that are going to say to our members of Congress don`t make
decisions that make the poor poorer and make our work harder. So you might
say we`re doing turkey baskets for the poor than baskets of letters to our
some of our turkeys who represent us in Congress.

SHARPTON: The moral majority for so longing had sway with partisan
sway. Do you think that their influence has waned? Is that over now?

WALLIS: Well, here`s the big change. The religious right for a long
time tried to control the meaning of the word evangelical and make it a
partisan political word. It`s not. It`s a theological term. It`s about
following Jesus Christ. It`s about taking the bible seriously. And the
issues there are one or two issues, doesn`t do that. So we`re talking
about evangelical now with a much broader meaning. Evangelical means good
news to the poor. And if it isn`t good news to poor people, it isn`t the
gospel of Jesus.

So, Franklin Graham needs to read his bible more carefully. He finds
2,000 verses in the bible about how treat poor people. And so, that`s what
it means to be evangelical. And his narrow view, I think, is coming to an
end.

SHARPTON: Reverend evangelist Jim Wallis. Thank you for your time
tonight. Have a great weekend.

WALLIS: Thank you, sir.

SHARPTON: Thank you for coming in.

Coming up, the evolution of a right wing smear. We`ve seen then movie
before. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Finally tonight, the crumbling of a lie. Today, as the
facts became public, John McCain`s smear of the president and Ambassador
Rice was exposed. But we`ve seen this movie before.

Remember there was that bogus ACORN scandal, the pimp, the edited
tapes? It was made up. And how about the Solyndra, another made-up
scandal, accusing the president of crony capitalism. Then there was the
Eric Holder witch hunt in the fast and furious joke investigation. All the
fake scandals developed the same way, from the right wing blogs to the
radio talkers to the party mouthpiece FOX News, then, to the halls of
congress.

But to see Senator John McCain out there leading the pack on this
made-up scandal is beneath a man who has such a distinguished political
career. We know what this is all about, the Republican scandal machine
looking to gin up a new scandal. It`s all a big joke. But I`m not
laughing.

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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