November 27, 2012
Guests: Dana Milbank; Adam Schiff; Nicholas Burns, Steve Kornacki, Krystal Ball, Jim Greer
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Thanks, Chris, and thanks to you
for tuning in.
Tonight`s lead, the McCain gang wants what it wants. Today U.N.
ambassador Susan Rice went to Capitol Hill to meet with the three
Republican senators who have been her harshest critics over what she said
on Sunday talk shows about the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi,
Libya. It was a meeting that Ambassador Rice requested to try and clear
the air. She went to the meetings with the acting CIA director. But the
Republican senators were not swayed, not in the least. In fact, it sounded
like they had settled on their talking points. Here`s what they said after
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We are significantly troubled by many
of the answers that we got and some that we didn`t get. It is clear that
the information that she gave the American people was incorrect.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Bottom line, I`m more
disturbed more than I was before. Here`s what I can tell you. The
American people got bad information on 16 September, they got bad
information from President Obama days after. It was unjustified to give
the scenario as presented by Ambassador Rice and President Obama three
weeks before an election.
SEN. KELLY AYOTTE (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: I`m more troubled today.
Clearly the impression that was given, of the information given to the
American people was wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Significantly troubled. More disturbed. Their harsh words
were somewhat surprising. But listening to McCain, you could get dizzy
because just two days ago he said he would welcome a meeting with Obama
Rice and seemed ready to mend fences.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Is there anything Ambassador Rice can do
to change your mind about it?
MCCAIN: Sure. She can give everyone the benefit of explaining their
position and the actions that they took and I`ll be glad to have the
opportunity to discuss these issues with her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Senator McCain promised he would give ambassador Rice the
chance to explain how her initial comments on the attack were based on
talking points provided by the intelligence community. But apparently they
still don`t like her answer.
Here`s what ambassador Rice had to say about what actually happened
today. She said, quote "we explained that the talking points provided by
the intelligence community were incorrect. The intelligence assessment has
evolved. We stressed that neither I nor anyone in the administration
intended to mislead the American people and the administration updated
Congress and the American people as our assessments evolved."
It`s is that simple. That`s the truth of what happened following the
attacks. But Republicans are trying to gin up a scandal and spin this
tragedy for their own political gain.
Joining me tonight is ambassador Nicholas Burns, former undersecretary
of state and ambassador to NATO. He is now professor of diplomacy and
international politics at the J.F. Kennedy School of law at Harvard, and
Congressman Adam Schiff, Democrat from California who is the senior member
of the House Intelligence committee.
First, let me thank you both for being here tonight.
NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE: You bet.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Ambassador Burns, let me start with you. You have been a
diplomat for a long time. What`s your reaction to what happened today?
BURNS: Well, first, I certainly think Congress has an obligation and
a right to ask questions. That`s their mandate. That`s their duty and
this was a great tragedy in Benghazi. But it think it is unfair to focus
on Ambassador Susan Rice. She was simply one of many administration
officials who are trying to put together an accurate portrait of what
happened after that terrible day in September. She didn`t speak on her own
initiative. Obviously, she was asked to go on these morning shows. She
said what any other administration would have said had they been in her
place that day. And I think it`s unfair to just single her out by any
She has been an effective purposeful and impressive ambassador of the
United Nations. She has many, many qualifications to serving higher
office. And I`ve been in both positions, serving in both Republican and
Democratic administrations in the past, of going out in public and
explaining views. And I know it`s always a collective effort to try to
determine what one says to explain a position. And so I just think that
that -- that the focus on her, the sole focus on her is not correct. I
think she deserves better treatment than this.
SHARPTON: Congressman, what is your response to today?
SCHIFF: I agree with Ambassador Burns completely. I think Susan Rice
has been an extraordinary ambassador to the United Nations. I think she is
smart, hard working, ethical, honest and just a superb candidate for
secretary of state, if the president makes that decision. I find it mind-
boggling that some of the GOP senators continue to go after her. It`s
completely unjustified. And I can only conclude that having failed to deny
the president a second term, they now want to deny him the cabinet of his
choice. But that is a terrible disservice to the country. It`s a terrible
disservice to a dedicated public servant like Ambassador Rice. And it
makes no sense whatsoever. I think they just refuse to take the facts for
And what is -- is so mind-boggling, really, is that what the
ambassador has said is exactly what the head of the national intelligence
agency, the DNI has said, James Clapper. It`s the same as general Petraeus
said. It`s the same as the acting director Morrell has said.
So, if they have an issue, their issue is with the intelligence agency
that provided that information to the ambassador, not with the ambassador.
But nonetheless, in the face of these quite clear facts, they continue to
pick this fight.
SHARPTON: Let me push you on that, congressman. So, you`re on the
intelligence committee, a senior member. What the ambassador`s saying to
members of Congress intention is exactly what everyone else in the
intelligence community has said. So then what is the basis of these
senators doubting what she`s saying, if there`s no one in intelligence that
has contradicted in any way conflicting what she`s saying?
SCHIFF: Well, there is no basis for it, which is why it`s so
inexplicable. Because what the intelligence community thought at the time,
and obviously they got this wrong, but they thought at time this began with
a protest. It did not give begin with a protest. But, had the ambassador
gone out to the public and said something different than what the
intelligence community put forward as its best estimate, then she should
have been, I think, subject to legitimate criticism. Why were you ignoring
what the intelligence community thought at the time?
So, I think she did what she had to do, which was take the best work
product. And as Ambassador Burns pointed out, it is an inter-agency
process to come up with that best work product, share that information with
the American people.
But to go after her, to go after the messenger, to smirch a dedicated
civil servant, is a disservice. And I had hope frankly, that this
political attack would have ended when the election came and went. But it
is, I think, really disturbing to see it continue.
SHARPTON: Ambassador, let me go back to you for a minute because let
me get this straight. You said you served in Republican and Democratic
administrations. Would Susan Rice have had any role in the Benghazi
attacks, aside from speaking on behalf of the White House and the
collective, as you say, in the aftermath, would she have had any direct
role or knowledge independent of what she was told?
BURNS: No. She really was not her duties, you know, pertain to a
very, very busy and demanding job at the United Nations. She`s not in
charge of our policy towards the Middle East. And so, you know, you know
how these things come about. There`s a conference call before any Sunday
show where the person going on is briefed by a lot of people from a lot of
different agencies. The administration determines there`s one set of, you
know, points they want to use. There`s one message we want to get out
publicly. So, you know, governments act collectively. This is a
collective office. And therefore, to singer her out is really a disservice
And you know, I find this very ironic because here we are at a complex
time for the United States. We`ve got the Afghan war, the global economic
crisis, the Iran nuclear threats, the situation in Gaza, the troubles in
Egypt. There`s so much that our senior officials have to focus on, these
are the real issues people should be asking Ambassador Rice about.
SHARPTON: Now, congressman, hearing the ambassador say that and
hearing you is very interesting because we hear senator graham and a Ayotte
say they`re going to put a hold on ambassador Rice if, in fact, she`s
nominated to be the secretary of state, they`re going to put a hold on her,
even though there`s no direct responsibility, direct knowledge, and no
accusation of direct knowledge by her on any of these matters, and she`s
saying what, in effect, she was told to say by the intelligence community.
Yet we`re told that Democrats are ready to fight. A democratic aide
tells NBC News, this is getting people`s back up. The general sense of
mood is this is ridiculous. She`s obviously qualified. No one on our side
thinks there`s any substance whatsoever to the Republican criticisms. The
aide also questioned whether Republicans, besides McCain, Graham and Ayotte
would think this was a smart fight to pick. After all, it would be a high-
profile fight with a qualified African-American woman.
SCHIFF: And she`s not just qualified. She is supremely well
qualified. She has tremendous experience. She`s been enormously
successful with her work at the U.N. We were able to marshal some of the
most significant sanctions on Iran for its pursuit of a nuclear program.
She helped work together the coalition that freed the Libyan people of
Moammar Gadhafi. So, she has an extraordinary track record. And so go
after her, to try to deny the president his choice for secretary of state,
if he makes that choice, is a terrible disservice to someone with an
extraordinary record, in a higher office, a great talent and simply makes
And I can only conclude because I appreciate the effort the U.N.
ambassador made in sitting down with these senators that they really had
their minds made up before they got together at her to fight this, for
whatever political purpose, but frankly, I think it is a losing purpose.
It was a losing argument during the presidential campaign. It`s even more
of a losing argument now. As Ambassador Burns said, we have a lot of
international issues we should be focusing on.
And if there is anything we should be focusing on with respect to
Benghazi, the question is, where are we in the hunt for those responsible,
not where are we in our efforts to attack Susan Rice. And I`m afraid this
has been an enormous distraction. I think it`s also been destructive in
terms of the intelligence community process because the intelligence
community is going to feel that they should never give us initial
assessments again. And that isn`t right either.
But to the degree that people have jumped down their throats, it will
make them more reluctant to provide us early information. And that, I
think, disserves us, so I think --
SHARPTON: I have to leave it there, congressman and ambassador. I
must say though, I must point that ambassador Rice also met with senator
Joe Lieberman who usually teams up with the Ms. Senator Ayotte as well as
senator Graham and he had a different reaction. Let me show this quickly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: To me, based on her public
record and her public service, barring some evidence to the contrary, I
think she`s answered the questions that I have about why she said the
things she did on Sunday morning talk shows.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: So, Joe Lieberman seems satisfied, unlike the others who he
is usually agreed with. Wonders never cease. I`m going to stay on this
Ambassador Burns and congressman Schiff, thank you for your time
BURNS: Thank you.
SCHIFF: Thank you.
SHARPTON: President Obama`s taking his fairness fight on the road.
Wait until you hear what install business leaders are saying about him.
Plus, something happened to Chris Christie today that might, I repeat,
might start a new trend in the GOP.
And these massively long voting lines in Florida didn`t happen by
accident. The former Florida GOP chairman is spilling all the secrets from
behind the curtain tonight.
And what in the world are these naked people doing in speaker
Boehner`s office today?
You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.
SHARPTON: President Obama won a mandate to help the middle class.
Now he`s hitting the road to make sure Republicans in Washington get
message. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`ve got one mandate.
I`ve got a mandate to help middle class families and families that are
working hard to try to get in the middle class. That`s my mandate. That`s
what the American people said. They said, work really hard to help us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: That is the president`s plan date whether Boehner and
company like it or not. And today at the White House, the president
continued to build his case. He met with small business owners to keep the
focus on letting the Bush tax cuts expire for the rich. It`s all part of a
campaign to get a fair deal done. Tomorrow, he will meet with a group of
middle class Americans who will explain how they`d be affected if
Republicans let their tax rates increase.
He will also have another meeting with CEOs. And on Friday, the
president is heading back on the road. He`ll visit a Pennsylvania toy
manufacturer that depends on middle class shoppers, especially during the
This president knows how to make the case for the middle class. But
will he be able to convince the rest of Washington to get on board?
Joining me now is Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, a fellow at the
University of Texas and NBC Latino contributor and Dana Milbank, columnist
for "the Washington Post."
Thank you for coming on the show tonight.
DANA MILBANK, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Hi, Reverend.
VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO, NBC LATINO CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Victoria, how important is this new campaign?
SOTO: It`s incredibly important. What we have seen is the president
and his team have learned from their mistake. So, the mistake of 2010 of
not capitalizing on the mobile outreach that they developed with the 2008
campaign and instead they ended up with a shellacking.
And the second mistake, was wasting time and energy early on in his
negotiation. And trying to negotiate with Republicans when there was a
So, having learned from these mistakes the president has bypassed the
stalemated Congress and literally taken it to the people. Here he was
relying on his electoral connection. And we saw a hint of this in his
election night speech where he said that the role of citizens in a
democracy does not end with voting. That you have to stay active in
pushing on the policies you need. So, we saw the hint, so we shouldn`t be
surprised he`s taking the show on the road.
SHARPTON: Now Dana, when we look at the fact, the American people
already support his proposals, 72 percent say the GOP should compromise, 67
percent on a mix of spending cuts and tax increases, 56 percent say we
should raise tax on the wealthy. Him going on the road is, what, to
energize this and not leave it in Washington like what was done before? Is
he learning from his mistakes of last time around?
MILBANK: Yes, I think that`s right. This is about learning. And
this is -- he`s basically undoing what he did wrong in the selling of Obama
care. He merely assumed that the policy would sell itself, leaving it up
to Congress to negotiate. And the Republicans in many respects ate his
lunch on that and really won the debate here. This is the way George W.
Bush ran his presidency. Whether you liked or didn`t like George W. Bush,
he was always out there being a salesman. And it`s unfortunate reality of
politics that we live in a time of the permanent campaign.
If the president is not out there using the (INAUDIBLE), to sell this
day after day, to bump up those poll numbers even further, he is not going
to win the debate. It is strictly the only way to do this business.
SHARPTON: Now, it would seem also, Victoria, that the president is in
a better position to really make his case. His approval rating is 52
percent. Congress` approval rating is only 18 percent. So with him on the
road with that kind of gap in who has the higher approval numbers, which is
no comparison, that`s got to put some pressure on members of congress.
SOTO: Absolutely. And, again, he`s coming off the wave of the
outreach wave of the 2012 campaign. And it is really important he sells
this policy, even though people indicate they support it, because at the
same time, even though Republicans are complaining that he`s going on the
road, Republicans themselves right now are organizing themselves, house
Republicans, to take their own show on the road. So, the president is
going to have pressure and competition from Republican house members. It
cannot sell itself, as Dana said, and especially with the pushback of
Republicans in congress.
SHARPTON: Now, Dana, when you look at the data out today, it shows
the economy heading in the right direction. Consumer confidence at a four-
year high. Home prices increased for six straight months. And then when
you hear some of the small business owners who met with the president
today, they were very vocal in their support of what he`s doing. And let
me show some of what was said after the meeting by some of the small
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS YURA, FOUNDER, SUSTAINU: I was very encouraged by the meeting.
I felt the president, you know, he really delivered a message of
DEB CAREY, NEW GLARUS BREWING COMPANY: I`m real enthusiastic about
President Obama and what he`s done.
LEWIS PRINCE, CO-FOUNDER, VINTAGE VINYL: Saying that tax breaks for
the rich drive consumers lower down to spend is like saying you can
jumpstart -- you can start your car by pouring gasoline on the hood.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, soon behind those speakers they`ll be negotiating in
the west wing. Does this work? Will this help the president at the
negotiating table with the opposition, the Republican leadership?
MILBANK: Well, the opposition responds only to strengths. So to the
extent it boosts his numbers for his policy in the polls, it will help
them. But I think so there`s something else going on here and that is a
bit of the blame game in advance. There`s more pessimism now that they
will be able to work something out by the deadline. If we go off the
fiscal cliff and all those good economic numbers turn south, the question
is who is going to be blamed for this? A lot of what the president`s doing
now is making sure that he`s not the one who`s going to be blamed, that it
will be the Republicans. And that, in turn, puts him in a better
SHARPTON: Now, Victoria, in 2004 President Bush, after his re-
election, said he earned political capital. But he wasn`t able to
accomplish some of his biggest second-term goals. Let me show you what Mr.
Bush had to say at that point.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me put it
to you this way. I earned capital in the campaign, political capital. And
now, I intend to spend it. It is my style. That`s what happened in after
the 2000 election. I earned some capital. I`ve earned capital in this
election and I`m going to spend it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: But he spent it but he didn`t get a lot of what he was
trying to push done. Is the president, by continuing to go out, continuing
a campaign after Election Day, sort of learning also, not from only what he
might not have done before, but what George Bush and other incumbent
presidents may not have done in their second term around thinks they wanted
to achieve by continuing to campaign and energizing the American people
around the policies that he wants to implement?
SOTO: Reverend, it`s good to earn from your own mistakes but even
better to learn from the mistakes of others. So, I definitely think that
the president and his team, in looking at how to keep the pressure on and
selling this message, is learning from George W. Bush`s mistakes. Where
George W. Bush said, I got elected, this is it, I can go out a little bit
but it`s actually a full court press. That is need. Because Republicans
are going to be recalcitrant. They say, why do we have to negotiate? We
are still two years away from re-elections. So, we have room to get beaten
up. So, the president knows this and this is why the pressure is on.
SHARPTON: Also, I think the difference, Dana, is that what the
president is pushing here, as I said earlier, showed the poll numbers, the
American public wants to see happen, they`re supportive. George Bush did
go out pushing on Social Security but it was unpopular. It wasn`t what the
American people wanted.
MILBANK: Well, not only was it unpopular, but sort of an elective
thing. It wasn`t something that needed to be taken care of urgently.
Obama is focusing on the economy now to the extent he didn`t focus
immediately on the economy in his first term. He is focusing on the
central issue and the key issue what will be the key issue of his
presidency. So, he`s in much stronger ground to defend his turf here than
Bush was in privatizing Social Security.
SHARPTON: Victoria DeFrancesco Soto and Dana Milbank, thanks for your
MILBANK: Thanks, Rev.
SHARPTON: Still ahead, Chris Christie worked with President Obama on
hurricane Sandy and voters are loving it. So why are Republicans ignoring
We`ll tell you why Mr. 47 percent really is Mr. 47 percent. You will
love this story.
Plus, speaker Boehner got a big surprise today. Why are naked people
in his office? Stay with us.
SHARPTON: Have you joined the POLITICS NATION conversation on
Facebook yet? Today`s hot topic was the latest republican attacks on
Ambassador Susan Rice. Theodore says, it didn`t matter what she said to
them. Their plan was to put her down regardless. Folks were also buzzing
about the activists who showed up in Speaker Boehner`s office today without
clothes on. They were protesting potential cuts to HIV/AIDS programs that
the Republicans are pushing.
Nancy says, she`d love to have been a fly on the wall just to see
Boehner`s reaction. Akeem says, this is something Boehner will definitely
turn red over. We want to know what you think of this unorthodox protest
or anything else on your mind. Please just head over to Facebook and
search POLITICS NATION and "like" us to join the conversation that keeps
going long after the show ends.
SHARPTON: Ever wonder where being divisive gets you? What happens
when you push people apart instead of bringing them together? Well, if
you`re Governor Romney, that sort of attitude, you get 47 percent of the
popular vote. It`s now official. Mr. four percent will go down in the
history books as getting 47 percent of the vote. How`s that for irony?
But you want to know what number you get when you compromise? Seventy two
percent. That`s the approval rating for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
after working across the aisle with President Obama to deal with Hurricane
Sandy. That`s the lesson of this election.
Americans are yearning for cooperation and bipartisanship. But most
Republicans, they don`t get the message. Speaker John Boehner is
threatening to take us to the brink again by refusing to raise the debt
ceiling unless he gets what he wants in the tax fight. He told the
President, quote, "it`s my leverage." He said, quote, "There`s a price for
everything." Over in the senate, GOP Leader Mitch McConnell is striking
the same tone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: Look, we already know
the President`s a very good campaigner. We congratulate him on his re-
election. What we don`t know is whether he has the leadership qualities
necessary to lead his party to a bipartisan agreement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Mr. one-term-president, McConnell is resorting to name-
calling. The GOP lost because of this attitude. And now they`re just
looking like a lost cause.
Joining me now is Steve Kornacki and Krystal Ball, co-host of "The
Cycle" here on MSNBC. Thank you both for joining me this evening.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC CO-HOST, "THE CYCLE": Thank you.
KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC CO-HOST, "THE CYCLE": Thanks for having us,
SHARPTON: Krystal, let me go to you first. Why doesn`t the GOP look
to Chris Christie assist a role model? I mean, he`s the most popular
person in their party right now?
BALL: Well, hopefully some in the GOP do. But you have to remember
that a lot of people, a lot of folks in the Republican Party were very
upset with Chris Christie for being so bipartisan, for compliment -- for
daring to compliment the President for his responsiveness in Hurricane
Sandy. So, there`s still some upset there over that. You know, I think
the other thing that this points out, you were mentioning, Chris Christie
underscoring how important bipartisanship and cooperation is to voters.
The other thing I think it underscores is how important effective
government is to voters.
BALL: I think people saw him doing a great job handling Hurricane
Sandy and Republicans for so long have been the party of obstructionism, of
doing everything they can to keep government from working. I think that`s
the other message here, is people to want see a government that actually
SHARPTON: And a government that deals together in crisis, when
something is above what is normal. Steve, I`m no fan of Chris Christie,
but I give him respect for what he did there. So, why don`t Republicans
understand that there`s some things that has to rise above partisan
KORNACKI: I think you have to look at sort of the incentives there at
work for these guys. If you look at Chris Christie, he is up for re-
election next year. If he`s going to win re-election in New Jersey, a
state Obama just carried by 17 points, he has to win a fair number of
voters who voted for Obama this year, get them to vote for him as a
republican next year. That`s toll task. When you look at the people, the
Republicans in Congress right now, most of the republican members of the
House hail from very safely conservative republican districts where their
victory margins were at least double digits this year, 10, 20, 30 point
So, these guys are much more responsive to threats from within their
own party. The idea of not being perceived as conservative enough, anti-
Obama enough, all the things that play in the republican universe. They
don`t have to worry about getting democratic votes to get elected. They
have to worry about protecting themselves from the republican primary. So,
they look at this, you know, the fiscal cliff, or whatever it is, and there
is still no incentive for these guys to cooperate, even for the broader
interest of their party, there is.
SHARPTON: But even if you live in one of those areas that were
impacted by this, no matter what party, you want to see cooperation and you
want to see people that will make government work, Krystal. And I don`t
care if Christie did it for facetious reasons or cynical reasons, he did
it, I`m drowning, you might drag me out of the water Krystal, to get me on
the front page of the paper, I don`t care as long as I`m out of the water.
SHARPTON: Well, and I think that`s a great point. I totally agree
with you on that, regardless of what Christie`s incentives are. But I will
say this is a big question for Republicans. You know, they have for so
long moved their party to the right to play to their base. And they`ve had
these organizations like club for growth and the Tea Party, that put
forward these far right ideologically pure right candidates against more
moderate-leaning Republicans in primary and it really has forced the entire
party and the country as a whole to the right.
They`ve forced the center to the right. So, interestingly, you know,
where the Democratic Party is today has also been moved to the right. I
think it`s part of the problem that Republicans have now coming back to the
center and still striking a sort of ideologically distinct place from the
centrist location of the Democratic Party is in today.
SHARPTON: Well, in all of this unity we saw with the President and
Mr. Christie, Boehner, the speaker and Majority Leader Cantor are actually
calling for health care to be part of the negotiations. Take a listen to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ERIC CANTOR (R), VIRGINIA: If the president is serious about
joining us and fixing the problem, he ought to be putting Obama-care on the
table. There`s no question in my mind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, why would he be putting Obama-care on the table? It`s
been signed into law. It was upheld by the Supreme Court. The ticket that
wanted to repeal it lost. And a majority of Americans oppose repealing it.
SHARPTON: So, other than being divisive, why would you even raise
this when you have all of those factors that have cemented this law?
KORNACKI: Well, remember, I think it was the interview with Diane
Sawyer that Boehner did just after the election where he basically took the
position of -- it`s not the law of the land. There was immediately, you
know, sort of an insurrection on the right. And that`s what I`m talking
about. All of these House Republicans, from safely republican districts,
some of them are just true believers. They absolutely believe all of the
sort of, you know, far right ideology. So, you have got that component in
their conference if you`re John Boehner.
The other components you have are Republicans who are just afraid of
getting primary challenges. They may not believe all this but they want to
keep their jobs. So, those two forces together kind of, you know, they tie
Boehner down. He can`t really make a deal, he can`t really wiggle, he
can`t really maneuver, because if he moves even a little bit in Obama`s
direction, he`s facing, you know, a revolt.
BALL: Yes. I think to that point, you know, the other thing for
Boehner, is they don`t have a very strong hand to play here. So, he has to
make it seem to his base like he`s really being tough with the President to
try to posture so that when they do have to give in on certain points,
maybe the base is a bit more appeased, more convinced that he really went
out and fought for them.
SHARPTON: Now, the base is of the Republicans, that is, they are
preparing their own pr campaign to sort of counter the president. Politico
is saying that -- let me read it. "House Republicans are hoping to counter
President Barack Obama`s bully pulpit with some public relations of their
own. GOP leadership will host small business owners in the capitol next
week." The President with small business owners today. So, they are
trying to do a counter pr campaign to the President`s bully pulpit.
KORNACKI: But what it really amounts to, and we`re just rerunning the
KORNACKI: Obama is giving the same message he gave, hey, you know,
income over $250,000, it`s time you play a little more. And Republicans
are trying to play the game, oh, no, that means small business.
KORNACKI: And we just spent a year doing that.
KORNACKI: And that`s why Obama has so much leverage here. It`s part
of the logistics of how this fiscal cliff, so-called cliff works. But it`s
also because there`s now a recognition among people that hey, you know,
what? We picked Obama in this election.
BALL: Yes. They don`t have a pr problem. They have a substance
SHARPTON: But there`s already backlash to a West Virginia republican
who`s announced a bid to the Senate. Representative Shelley Moore Capito,
is a seventh term congresswoman, she`s hugely popular, one reelection would
nearly 70 percent of the vote but she`s moderate, she`s pro-choice, voted
to extend unemployment benefits and supported the auto bailout among other
BALL: Right. Therein lies the problem. Key conservative groups are
already trying to derail her. On day one of her candidacy, Capito received
criticism from two conservative groups known for mounting primary
challenges against establishment back Republicans. The club for growth and
the Senate conservatives fund a group founded by Senator Jim DeMint.
BALL: Maybe they can get Todd Akin to move into West Virginia and
mount a campaign. He`s more conservative, more to their taste. I mean,
that`s the problem is through these primaries, they end up with candidates
like Sharron Angle, like Christine O`Donnell, like Todd Akin who are
unelectable and who also put a bad image on the entire party. And forces
as Steve was saying, more moderate members to try to move to the right to
avoid those sorts of challenge.
SHARPTON: And the moderates are scared of the threat, Steve.
KORNACKI: Because they lose their job in the primaries.
SHARPTON: And they keep electing Democrats. Steve Kornacki and
Krystal Ball, thank you both for your time this evening.
BALL: Thanks, Reverend.
SHARPTON: And be sure to catch them on "The Cycle" on weekdays at 3
p.m. right here on MSNBC.
Coming up, a secret republican plot to create long lines on Election
Day and suppress minority voters. We`ll talk live to former Republican
Party chairman of Florida, who`s blowing the whistle. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: Republicans have learned all the wrong lessons from this
election. And they`re still trying to suppress the vote. Here`s
Virginia`s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Obama lost every one of those states. He can`t
win in a state where photo I.D. is required, so clearly there`s something
going on out there.
KEN CUCCINELLI, ATTORNEY GENERAL, VIRGINIA: Your ton suggests you`re
little upset with me. You`re preaching to the choir. I`m with you
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: He agrees completely. Really? Cuccinelli`s office later
had to come out and say, he does, in fact, believe President Obama won the
election. And we`ve told you how Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker wants to
end same-day voter registration. Supposedly to relieve the burden on his
poor, overworked poll watchers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: States across the country that have
sent a registration have real problems because the vast majority of states
have poll workers who are wonderful volunteers who work 13-hour days, most
cases are retirees. It`s difficult for them to handle the kind of valiant
of folks who come at the last minute. It would be much better if
registration was done in advance of Election Day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Better for Walker maybe but not for those poll workers that
he`s talking about. A top official in the city clerk`s association says,
Walker`s proposal would quote, "Make it more burdensome, it would be a
logistical nightmare." And in Florida, the scandal over those long voting
lines continue to grow with a new report showing exactly why Republicans
passed a law last year scaling back early voting hours.
The Palm Beach Post says, the law was, quote, "Intentionally designed
by Florida GOP staff and consultants to inhibit democratic voters." The
poll says, the republican fraud concerns to advance only as subterfuge for
the law`s main purpose, GOP victory. Now all of Florida`s democratic
members of Congress have sent a letter to the U.S. commission on civil
rights demanding a federal investigation.
Joining me now is Jim Greer, former chair of the Florida Republican
Party. He`s been telling us for months about this voter suppression. And
he was a key source for "The Post" article. Jim, thanks for joining me.
JIM GREER, FORMER FLORIDA GOP CHAIRMAN: Good to be here again, Al.
SHARPTON: Are you pleased that more Republicans are admitting they
were deliberately trying to suppress the vote?
GREER: Well, I`m pleased that for the first time people have shown
courage by coming out and saying what Jim Greer has been saying as the
truth. Charlie Crist came out, our former governor, and even a republican
GOP consultant, who didn`t want to be named, he said what I`ve been saying
actually did occur.
SHARPTON: Now, we`ve got the Palm Beach Post actually quoted a
strategist from the 2008 early voting days. Wayne Bertsch who says, quote,
"When we started seeing the increase of turnout and the turnout operations
that the Democrats were doing early voting, it certainly sent chills down
GREER: Well, I`ve told you before, the Republican Party and the
strategists never liked early voting. Republicans, they believe don`t win
in early voting. So, what they have to do is decrease, if not eliminate
early voting as much as they could. And they did. And you saw what
happened this last election.
SHARPTON: Now, when you look at this unnamed GOP strategist, who says
this about souls to the polls, this is the Sunday before election, where
ministers would encourage their parishioners to go to the polls, and in
some cases march them to the polls, listen to what this strategist said.
"I know that cutting out the Sunday before Election Day was one of the
targets only because that`s a big day when the black churches organize
themselves." Here`s a direct, not only assault on a party, but on a race
and denial of voting rights.
I mean, there`s nothing more un-American, un-democratic than this.
And I`m talking about democratic in the terms of democracy, not in terms of
parties. Luckily some of the ministers like the bishop and others down in
-- Victor Curry and others down there turned that around the Sunday before.
But this was a direct strategy here, Mr. Greer.
GREER: Absolutely. I told you before Al that political consultants
and the strategists are the ones who put this type of legislation together.
They put it together to keep voters that typically won`t vote republican
from getting to the polls. You know, the Republican Party needs to change
the way it does business. It needs to embrace minority voters. It
shouldn`t give up on minority voters. And it should play by the election
rules. Not change the rules every couple of years to benefit the
SHARPTON: But even if.
GREER: The party --
SHARPTON: .they don`t want to embrace minority voters. You`ve been in
the room. You were the Florida chair. We`re talking about them denying
their right to vote. It`s one thing if you have a strategy you don`t want
to go after people. It`s another to deny them their rights.
GREER: Well, there`s no doubt about it. The way the Republican
Party in Florida, some of its current leaders, some of its past leaders,
and even in other states operates is to win at all costs. If we can`t win
on our public policy positions, let`s keep people from getting to the
polls, let`s keep them from registering. Let`s keep power at all costs.
And that`s what`s going on in Florida. If there ever needed to be a
federal investigation of the voting violations, the voting laws, it`s here
in Florida and in some other states.
SHARPTON: No doubt about it. Now, former Florida Governor Charlie
Crist was on my show just days before the election. Saying these long
lines were voter suppression. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLIE CRIST, FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: It`s hard to interpret it any
other way, Reverend Al. I think it is voter suppression. I think it`s
ridiculous and unfortunate. My heart bleeds for the people of Florida.
They ought to have the opportunity to exercise as I`ve said this cherished,
precious right to vote. We`ve got to remember, you know, a lot of people
fought very hard for people to have that right. Some died for it. We
ought to respect that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: And Rick Scott of course won`t even answer the question,
but former Governor Charlie Crist was right. Some died for it. And some
of us are not going to let people get away with it. Jim Greer, thank you
for your time tonight.
GREER: Thank you, Al. It was a pleasure to be here.
SHARPTON: We`ll be right back.
ANNOUNCER: It`s time for "Story Time with Rev. Al."
SHARPTON: That`s right. And we have a very special story tonight.
We learned today that Todd Akin is considering writing a book. You
remember Mr. Akin. He was a shoo-in for a Senate seat in Missouri until he
talked about legitimate rape and his candidacy legitimately sank like a
Well, we at POLITICS NATION imagine just what this -- might look like.
It`s called "Too Legit to Quit: How I Became a Household Name for The Wrong
Reasons." I like the title, Senator -- I mean, Mr. Akin. So, let`s get
right in to it. He opens strong. An area of true expertise. Chapter one,
titled "Biology by Akin," here`s a passage. So, now I guess I`m known as
the legitimate rape guy. And after thinking about it, I guess it`s not so
bad. In fact, I`ve kind of embraced it.
Now, everyone knows my name. And, hey, Science is overrated anyway.
Here`s my advice to kids. When in doubt, make stuff up. Incredible read
so far. So, let`s go on to chapter two. This one is titled "My Pal Paul."
During my 11 years in Congress, Paul Ryan was my comrade and my partner
against women`s rights. Paul, I`ll never forget our times together trying
to redefine rape. These were the days. And don`t worry, buddy, I got the
message. I`ll never again say out loud what we really think. Very candid,
Mr. Akin. And check it out, the book even comes with pictures. Here`s one
of the dynamic duo. What a nice trip down memory lane.
Well, let`s move on to chapter three. This one is titled, "You Can
Always Do Worse." Also, let`s move here, here`s how. After you`ve
alienated and offended an entire demographic, oh, let`s just say, oh, I
don`t know, let`s just say women. You can always get specific. Just
compare your opponent to a dog and tell her that she`s just not lady-like.
Brilliant, Mr. Akin. You can always, indeed, do worse. But I don`t think
this one is hitting any best sellers lists. We`ll see you next time for
"Story Time with Reverend Al."
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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