updated 12/7/2012 9:41:48 AM ET 2012-12-07T14:41:48

POLITICS NATION
December 6, 2012

Guests: Joe Madison; Tom Perriello, Dana Milbank, Cynthia Tucker, Virg
Bernero


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

Tonight`s lead, over and out. There was a crumbling in Washington
today. No, it didn`t come from the White house. It didn`t come from
Democrats. It came from Senator Jim DeMint. The tea party hero who
famously made this vow with the president`s health care law.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JIM DEMINT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: If we`re able to stop Obama on
this, it will be his waterloo. It will break him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Guess what, it wasn`t the president`s waterloo. But today,
senator DeMint is facing his own waterloo. He announced today, he`s
leaving the Senate to run a conservative think tank. And just like that,
gone is a man who represented all of the obstruction, the man who defined
gridlock and was the face of ugliness in the tea party movement.

The night of the president`s inauguration, he met with other
Republicans to plot against the president. He threatened to single
handedly shut down the Senate in 2010 and stood strong with congressman
Todd Akin after his legitimate rape comments.

Today`s announcement is another line in the tea party obit. It`s
another nail in the tea party coffin. A movement that vowed to change
Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The tea party movement is alive and well. It`s
going to continue to redefine the political landscape in 2012.

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This November
we`re going to take back the Senate and fortify the house. Be aware,
Washington. Tea party patriots are alive and well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Didn`t exactly work out that way, now, did it? This
election sent tea party stars packing. Joe Walsh, gone. Allen West, gone.
Richard Mourdock, gone. Todd Akin, gone. And it`s not just the election
losses. The cracks are springing up all over the tea party kettle.

This week, we learned that Dick Armey, the head of the major tea party
group, freedom works, is out. One by one, GOP lawmakers have distanced
themselves from the tea party`s once sacred anti-tax pledge, 44 and
counting. And the American people are rejecting the entire movement. The
group`s disapproval rating has jumped 24 point since 2010. So the tea
party`s monster looks like it`s on its last leg. All I can say is, good
riddance.

Joining me now is former governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell, now an
NBC political analyst. And Joan Walsh, editor at large for salon.com and
an MSNBC political analyst.

Thank you both for your time tonight.

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

ED RENDELL (D), FORMER GOVERNOR, PENNSYLVANIA: My pleasure.

SHARPTON: Joan, let me start with you. Senator DeMint is out. How
important is that?

WALSH: I think it`s huge, are Reverend Al. I really do. I mean,
this is the man who said health care would be the president`s waterloo
while the president is getting ready to be inaugurated for a second time
and Jim DeMint is packing up his Senate office.

Now, this is also a man who he could be serving in a majority if he
hadn`t backed such crackpot losers. The Republicans really would have
taken it back the senate if it wasn`t for Christine O`Donnell and Sharron
Angle and Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock and his ill. So, he is going off.
He is going to make a lot more money, you know, like Dick Armey, he did
leave his post, Reverend Al, but he got an $8 million payday. They always
get more pay, so they will make more money. But his influence is going to
severely diminish and it`s great to see somebody like that actually having
to leave the Senate.

SHARPTON: He was one of the faces of the tea party movement,
governor. With him stepping down today, what was that mean, in your
opinion, for the future of the tea party whose already lost some major
characters and major players in the Congress so far? thurT

RENDELL: Well first, Rev., I want to go on record and say that I`ll
miss these guys because they were so wacko in everything they got on
television. They drove more people away from the Republican party to
become independents or Democrats. But the whacko fashion isn`t gone
entirely. And all we have to do is look at what the senate did in not
ratifying the treaty and disability. Because of some idea that the U.N.
was going to come in and take over home schooling, they are nuts. And they
are still nuts enough around to make trouble for the Republican party.

You`re right. Sensible Republicans are moving away in droves. What
is it? Forty four Republicans have already said they are not going to
honor the no tax pledge? That`s good news for the country. It`s good news
for us, you know, and will able to get some things done in Washington, D.C.

But, I think, it is premature to say that the tea party is done when
you look at what happened in the Senate, with Bob Dole on the floor, the
most honored Republican to serve in the Senate in a long time, a war hero
begging them to confirm that treaty, to ratify that treaty, 38 Republicans
voted no on some whacked out idea.

SHARPTON: No. That`s the danger, governor, of being dismissive. And
I think you`re right. Yes, they come as wacko stuff. But the ugliness
combined with their powerful moment, I mean, they are talking about
breaking the president, this was DeMint`s word, I`ll break them. And to
stand up and see them vote in 2012 against disability with the former
standard bearer of their party sitting there asking them, the ugliness of
this is absolutely unimaginable.

RENDELL: Horrible.

SHARPTON: Joan?

RENDELL: It really was a low moment and almost unpredictable. Every
time I think they can`t surprise me, they surprise me again, Reverend Al.
So governor Rendell is right. It`s way too early for us to crow. It is
way too early to say that the fever is broken. But, I think this is a sign
that Jim DeMint thinks that he`s going to go outside the senate and have
power there and also strips the Patina (ph) absolutely off the heritage
foundation. They like to congratulate themselves that in some sort of
intellectual think tank, think tank. They are really a talking point tank.
But now it shows that they are way more about ideology than they about
intellect because Jim DeMint has not had an original deep idea in his
entire life. He`s all about platitudes. And it is all about extreme right
wing platitudes.

SHARPTON: Governor, President Obama predicted this election would be
a turning point dealing with the Republicans. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Either way, my
expectation is, my hope is that that`s no longer their number one priority.
And I`m hoping that once the election season is over that that spirit of
cooperation comes for to the fore.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Are we seeing a change? Are we moving in that direction,
in your opinion, governor?

RENDELL: We`re clearly moving in that direction, Reverend, whether it
can go all the way that the country needs -- I don`t know. And it`s really
going to be incumbent on the president. As the movement start, the
president has got to take hold and say to these Republicans, OK, let`s talk
seriously. What do you need to make this deal work? What do you need to
get this deal in a position that we`ll get this country back on track and
causing our economy to take off? And then, the good news, if we can do a
deal on the budget by compromising and by coming together, then we can go
after immigration. We can go after infrastructure. We can go after
energy. We can go after education. The things that are still on the
agenda that is crucial to moving this country forward.

You know, as important as the debt bill is, it still isn`t going to
create jobs in the short term. You`ve got to do energy. We`ve got to do
infrastructure. We`ve certainly got to do immigration. We owe that to the
American people and to those children. So, there`s so many things that
we`ve got to do that if we can do this successfully and get it done and see
the economy take off and an investment come into this country, then we go
after the other four challenges and if we can do all those, he`ll be an
incredibly successful president and I think congress` approval rating will
begin to rise again.

SHARPTON: Joan, it still seems that some of the tea party types,
including senator DeMint are in denial. Because DeMint said that he still
thinks it was the messaging, not the substance that was wrong why they lost
the election. Listen to what senator DeMint said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEMINT: And Republicans, were not doing a good job of convincing
Americans that we care about every one of them and that our policies are
going to make them better. I`m a conservative first. And I believe that
if we do a better job of helping Americans understands what we`re trying to
do, to showcase every place in the country that our ideas are working at
the state level, that that will help those at the federal level who want to
carry those policies. And, frankly, if independents and Democrats want to
work with us on conservative ideas, I can do that, better in heritage than
as a partisan inside (INAUDIBLE).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So he`s saying that it was not the message, it was the
messaging, the substance. And they are touting, among others, but one that
is getting a lot of buzz is very conservative congressman Tim Scott as a
possible successor. He`s DeMint`s hand-picked successor. He`s backed by
conservatives like red state`s Erick Erickson, he would be the first black
senator from the GOP since Ed Brooke in 1979. And Ed Brooke was very
moderate Republican. He was not nowhere tea party Republican. And I
believe he was elected in `68.

WALSH: He would be a Democrat today. I don`t want to speak for the
man but seriously in the way that his tea party has moved to the right, I
don`t think that Tim Scott can change that. It is not African-Americans
don`t vote Democratic, Reverend Al, because of pigmentation. It`s about
policy. So, they are going to try that. And Paul Ryan is trying - they
all want to say that they care about the poor and that they really have a
message for the poor, but they don`t have a single policy that works to let
people out of poverty and into the middle class or out of the working class
and into the middle class. They don`t have those policies or else they
would have tried them and we`d be in a different position. They`ve had
power for a long time.

SHARPTON: Well, I`ve got to leave it there. Ed Rendell and Joan
Walsh, thank you for your time tonight.

RENDELL: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Coming up, it`s all out war inside the Republican party.
Wait until you hear what Jim DeMint told rush Limbaugh today about speaker
Boehner.

Plus, Michigan police pepper spray protesters after governor Schneider
calls for a right to work bill that strips union power. President Obama
just responded to this. We`re live in Michigan tonight.

And it`s a political battle for the ages. We`ll tell you why first
lady Michelle Obama and former president bill Clinton are going head to
head.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, LATE SHOW: Certainly, where they spotted Mitt
Romney at Costco again. Oh, my God. Why are you at Costco? Go ahead and
return that oval rug you ordered.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Have you joined it the "Politics Nation" conversation on
facebook yet? We hope you will. Today everyone was speculating about what
Jim DeMint`s resignation means with the tea party.

Omi says, they are definitely weak tea.

Susan thinks they will attempt to re-brand themselves for 2014 and
2016.

And Margaret says, this tea party thing has got to end sooner or
later. Let`s hope it`s soon.

We`ve got more on the civil warning inside the party coming up next.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The resignation tea party de-facto leader Senator Jim
DeMint could mark the beginning of a new civil war within the GOP. Today,
DeMint called him into the show Rush Limbaugh, host, and made a very pointy
joke after being asked if he was forced out of the Senate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I can it`s safe to say that
Boehner is not forcing either of you out?

DEMINT: That is true. It might work a little bit the other way.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It might work the other way? Senator DeMint might have
been laughing, but I know a threat when I hear one, and so does John
Boehner. The speaker was already unedifying from the right for his so-
called tea party purge stripping for lawmakers of their committee
assignments. Now, he`s facing a new threat from the tea party.

Today, DeMint also said that Democrats weren`t the problem. The
problem was actually with Republicans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEMINT: The problem is now Harry Reid. I think the problem is as
conservatives, we have not taken enough control of our message and our
ideas.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Senator DeMint wants to control the GOP`s message and idea.
Now, that`s a scary thought.

Joining me now is former Congressman Tom Perriello, a Democrat from
Virginia and Joe Madison, nationally syndicated radio host of Sirius XM`s "
The Power."

Thank you both for being here tonight.

JOE MADISON, HOST, MORNINGS WITH MADISON: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Congressman, let me start with you. Senator DeMint talks
about firing speaker Boehner on Rush Limbaugh show. Where is this war
going?

TOM PERRIELLO (D), FORMER CONGRESSMAN: Well, you do see a real split
on the conservative and Republican side right now between the tea party and
say more establishment figures.

But let`s be clear, the power still sits with the tea party more than
with the establishment. You`ve seen this in the picking of Ken Cuccinelli
in Virginia to the next gubernatorial candidate. You see where the
activist faces on the conservative side. And so, it`s a small number of
people who are trying to move away from that ideology. But, you also see
the institutional shift. Something like the heritage foundation that used
to be a real generator of ideas here, taking one of the flat-earthers out
of the Senate to try to come in and be the face of that is not moving in a
direction. This is a senator who stood with Todd Akin after his remarks.

SHARPTON: Right.

PERRIELLO: So, there are those n the Republican Party that obviously
tried - wants to try to have a new face. You saw JC Watt (ph) put his name
out there and that`s largely been, you know, pushed down by the base of the
party and of the movement.

SHARPTON: Now, Joe, when you see senator DeMint tweeting statements
that really ripped speaker Boehner`s debt talks, he tweeted this, speaker
Boehner`s offer of an $800 billion tax hike will destroy jobs and allow
politicians in Washington to spend even more. He was part of those on the
far right that was putting a lot of heat on Boehner for entertaining any
movement at all towards some kind of resolution of this situation with the
cliff, the fiscal cliff.

MADISON: Absolutely. And I think the other thing you need to
understand about this 800 billion is that as former President Clinton said,
the arithmetic is there. It still doesn`t add up. And I think this is the
problem that DeMint is going to have and the heritage foundation.

I`m not a fan of the heritage foundation. They are a conservative
group. They do primarily more research than they do anything else. And
what they have done is chosen a man who has very limited research
experience. They clearly, have decided to politicize the heritage
foundation more so than it`s ever been politicized before. And then
secondly, Boehner has this problem. Eric Cantor. He is in the same
position Caesar was in. And that is, knives are pointed at his back every
time he turns around.

SHARPTON: Yes. But, congressman, the point that I think is so
interesting, most Americans is here was a guy, Senator Jim DeMint that said
I`m going to break President Obama. They started plotting the night of the
inauguration. They started meeting. They said they were going to block
everything. They were going to bring him down. And he`s the one leaving
Washington today and going to a private think tank in Washington, leaving
Capitol Hill and staying in Washington.

So I think the big picture here is the guy that really said he was
going to break this president, watched him be reelected with a larger
margin that George Bush and he`s leaving the U.S. Senate.

PERRIELLO: Well, there are winner and losers in election. And I
think Jim DeMint was eager to not just get a majority Republicans in the
U.S. Senate. But, was willing to back some of the most extreme and
unelectable Republicans in primaries and thereafter and many more
establishment Republicans feel like he may have cost them the majority.

So, and yet, he still wants to be committed to this 100 percent
commitment of ideology of getting thing done because we really need the
Senate to get things done. And I think in a way, there is appropriate for
him to say, well, I want to do that from the outside because we really need
the senate to start getting things done. We need problem solvers there who
are more willing to come together, to handle issues like the deficit and
job crisis that we continue to want to tackle.

So I think you do see him saying, hey, I have this idea. We`re going
to take it by the storm. It didn`t work. The president is still standing
and moving forward. And I think there`s some in his party who are eager to
try to get a balanced approach and prevent us from going off this cliff
which would be a very serious thing and we`re right up against it.

SHARPTON: Don`t they have, Joe, a real civil war going on in the
Republican party when you have on one hand Sarah Palin open fending the tea
party`s role saying on facebook, for all this new talk about how the GOP
needs a populous movement, it would do them good to remember they already
have them. It`s called a tea party movement and it won for them the
majority they now enjoy in the house. This is Palin.

But on the other side, the "New York Times" says today that Boehner
has consolidated his grip on Republicans in the house. "The Times" says
many house Republicans appear to view Mr. Boehner with the same sort of
respect that a dark children award their parents for the sage counsel they
ignored in their younger days. Many members realize they have little
choice left but to support him. So, between no, that a consolidating
around Boehner and that Palin are referring to, there`s a collision course
here in the Republican party.

MADISON: That`s right. And part of that reason is because they can
count. They can count and they also have -- they can count into the
future. They have 18 months. And 18 months is not a long way off. And
people have spoken in significant numbers that if you have the same
ideology, the same extremists, and that`s the other thing that we should
watch, who replaces DeMint in South Carolina? It will be interesting to
see if it will be someone as extreme as DeMint was or someone as little bit
more moderate. That would say a lot.

But you are 100 percent right. There is a civil war going on among
the leadership. Remember, the leader used to brag about they didn`t have
leaders and what happened was they were hijacked by big money. That`s what
happened to the tea party. They are not the same tea party that you and I
-- remember in that march when we walked past the demonstration on the
Lincoln memorial? That`s not the same tea party that evolved.

SHARPTON: Former congressman Joe Perriello and Joe Madison, thank you
both for coming on tonight.

MADISON: Thank you.

PERRIELLO: Thanks for having us.

SHARPTON: Ahead, protests pepper sprayed in Michigan at the
Republican in the state rage war on worker. The president just responded.
Big story tonight.

And a memo to the GOP, when you`ve lost Ann Coulter on taxes, you know
you`re in trouble. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`ve told you how papa John`s CEO has eaten his words
after criticizing the health care law. But he`s not the only one.
Darden`s restaurant which owns olive garden and red lobster and other
chains said last month it would cut some full-time workers hours so they
wouldn`t have to give them what was health insurance.

But, customers want more than unlimited bread sticks. They want
service treated right and Darden`s anti-health care crab fest hurt the
bottom line. The company`s CEO lowered expectation for next year based, in
part, on the quote "recent negative media coverage that focused on Darden
and how we might accommodate health care reform."

Fallen revenues linked to the rhetoric. And what do you know, the
company`s changing its tune. It now says no current workers will lose
full-time status. And in 2014, hourly employees will be able to get the
same insurance as executives. The tide is turning on the health care law.
Forty nine percent of the country wants to keep or expand the law while,
only 33 percent support repeal. That`s the lowest support for repeal since
the law was passed in March 2010.

Did Red Lobster think they could ignore that this is the claw of the
land? Nice try, but we got you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back with President Obama`s push to shows the
personal side of the political debate in Washington. The President took
his campaign for a debt deal to Virginia. We sat down with a middle class
family that would be hit with a $4,000 tax hike if Republicans refused to
budge.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: I`m not going to sign any
package that somehow prevents that top rate from going up to the folks at
the top two percent but I do remain optimistic that we can get something
done that is good for families like this ones and that is good for the
American economy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It`s no wonder the President is optimistic. All signs say
Republicans are getting ready to cave. "The Washington Post" reports more
and more GOP lawmakers are urging party leaders to back tax hikes for the
rich. Quote, "Republicans are growing alarmed that they could be blamed if
Washington is unable to resolve the fiscal stalemate." Even the
President`s most outspoken critics are saying, "it`s time to give in."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANN COULTER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: If the Bush tax cuts are repealed
and everyone`s taxes go up, I promise you Republicans will blamed for it.
Doesn`t mean you cave on everything --

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: So are you saying, then, for pr
purposes that they should give into Obama on the tax rate?

COULTER: Not exactly. Well, yes, I guess I am. But I`m saying --

HANNITY: You`re saying that capitulate to Obama who is -- we don`t
have a revenue problem, Ann.

COULTER: We lost the election, Sean.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I can`t believe I`m saying this, but Ann Coulter is right.
They lost. The question now may be when, not if, the Republicans will cave
on taxes.

Joining me now is Dana Milbank, columnist for "The Washington Post."
He`s writing about Republicans waving the white flag over tax hikes today.
And Cynthia Tucker, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist and visiting professor
of journalism at the University of Georgia. Thanks to both of you for
being here tonight.

DANA MILBANK, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Hi, Reverend.

CYNTHIA TUCKER, PULITZER PRIZE WINNING COLUMNIST: Good to be here,
Reverend.

SHARPTON: Dana, are Republicans really ready to cave?

MILBANK: Well, Reverend, first of all, terrific to see you and Ann
Coulter on the same page or anything could actually happen at this point.
I think they already to caved. But that doesn`t mean we avoid the fiscal
cliff. Basically, they have caved already, the House Republicans with Paul
Ryan`s signature, with John Boehner signature, and all the other leadership
and said, we`re going to agree to an $800 billion tax increase. It`s just
how they do it.

Nobody in the caucus is really objecting to it. And it`s entirely
possible they are going to wait for us to go off the cliff any way. So, it
doesn`t mean that a deal is imminent. But they`ve basically surrendered.
They used to say, they wouldn`t even, you know, give a dime of tax increase
for a dollar of spending cuts. Now they are saying, OK, let`s go and do it
if we can get $3 of spending cuts for a dollar of tax increase.

SHARPTON: So, Cynthia, what we`re looking at is possibly the choice
may be down to, do they make the deal before the deadline or do they let it
go over the cliff and then come back and vote the tax cuts for the medical
class, so it doesn`t look like they voted for the top two percent to have
to have a tax increase. That maybe somewhere between those two?

TUCKER: I think that`s absolutely right. And there are some
important details to still be worked out here. Dana mentioned that the
Republicans have signed on to 800 billion but let`s remember that the
President has asked for about twice that much in revenues. So, I still
think the president is going to seek at least a trillion, maybe more. And
that has yet to be worked out. So, yes, Republicans will give in. They
have made a huge move after two decades when, you know, Grover Norquist
enforced very strictly this pledge that said no tax increases ever. You
know, over my dead body.

Republicans have made a very significant move that says, OK. We will
accept some tax increases. But let`s remember, there are some very
important details to be worked out. How much and when. Will they just
say, OK, we will stand aside while Democrats pass this tax cut for the
middle class and then let the tax cuts for the wealthy expire? That could
happen. But does it happen before the end of the year? Does it happen
after the end of the year?

SHARPTON: Now, Dana, on that point, a lot of this is that they seem
to have already lost the American public. In a new series of polls.
Quinnipiac shows that most Americans share views that are very similar to
the president. Sixty five percent say, raise taxes on $250,000 plus.
Eighty five percent of polls GOP pledged against raising taxes. That`s 85
percent. Fifty one percent think the GOP is negotiating in bad faith.
Fifty three percent trust President Obama more in the debt talks. So, the
public seems to be gone from their cause, the republican cause.

MILBANK: Right. And by two to one in virtually all of these polls
we are seeing that they are likely to blame the Republicans if the fiscal
cliff is reached. And I think you`ve seen President Obama going around the
country, as with that family, the clips you just showed.

SHARPTON: Right.

MILBANK: And to try to use the bully pulpit to rally that number even
more to his side. Now of course, if we actually go off the fiscal cliff.
Yes, the political advantage may benefit to Obama but certainly the
economic disadvantage is going to hurt all of us. So, he doesn`t want to
push it too far. But it`s another reason why there`s -- we still have a
few weeks to probably go to watch this play out. Neither side can really
be seen as cutting a deal with any days to spare. And it looks at least at
this point like it has to be one of these last minute deals.

SHARPTON: Cynthia, the President said he was glad to hear Republicans
are coming around on this. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I`m encouraged to see that there has been some discussion on
the part of Republicans, acknowledging the need for additional revenue. As
I`ve indicated, the only way to get the kind of revenue for a balanced
deficit reduction plan is to make sure that we`re also modestly increasing
rates for people who can afford it. Folks like me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But Cynthia, at the same time, not everyone is happy about
the GOP talking about some form of compromise on tax hike. Listen to Rush
Limbaugh.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The Republicans have just given
in. They have compromised, what have you, on the premise that raising
taxes on the rich will fix the problem. It was weak. The Republicans have
conceded the language.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Ultimately, Cynthia, will the Republicans have to
eventually take on these guys like Limbaugh? Will this come down to
whether or not they are going to stand up to the far right elements who
have swayed so much influence over their base in the past?

TUCKER: Well, Reverend Al, you`ve been talking earlier on the show
about the civil war going on within the Republican Party and that`s what
we`re seeing play out right now. Now, one of the differences between now
and last year was that John Boehner seems to have his house republican
caucus fully behind them.

SHARPTON: Right.

TUCKER: He did not have that when he was trying to negotiate with the
President to get that grand bargain. Every time he looked up, Eric Cantor
or somebody was stabbing him in the back. That doesn`t appear to be
happening this time. He seems to enjoy the support of the Republicans in
Congress in his caucus. However, outside Congress, right wingers are
having a field day attacking Boehner. It`s not just Rush Limbaugh. Erick
Erickson of red state here in Georgia, they are nuts that he -- that
Boehner is talking about some kind of compromise and I think we`re going to
see this not just overtaxes, tax rates, and cuts of various sorts, but all
sorts of things, over social issues, over immigration playing out for at
least the next four years. There are some Republicans who have gotten
realistic about the fact that the party lost but there are some Republicans
who clearly haven`t gotten the message yet. So, I think it`s going to be
messy for them for at least the next four years.

SHARPTON: Dana Milbank and Cynthia Tucker, thanks to both of you for
your time tonight.

MILBANK: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Straight ahead, a developing story. Massive protests in
Michigan after Governor Rick Schneider declares war on workers. Police
were seen pepper spraying the protesters. We are live in Michigan.

And what our First Lady Michelle Obama and former President Bill
Clinton fighting for? Is it republican is a good thing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Scott Walker has come under fire after endorsing a plan to
end same-day voter registration in Wisconsin two weeks ago. But now he`s
trying to calm the rumors and convince everyone, it`s not a big priority
for him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: This is a ridiculous issue. My
priority is about jobs, creating jobs, I answered a simple question. It`s
not a part of my legislative priorities. It hasn`t been something I`ve
talked about, it`s something I merely answered a question on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Just something he talked about? A ridiculous issue?
Sorry, I`m not buying that one. Because on the same day Walker called this
a ridiculous issue, two of his republican buddies in the state house were
actively signing up co-sponsors for the bill that would end Election Day
registration. So he can say it`s not number one priority but let`s be
clear, if it gets through the state Senate, he will sign it. So he`s
saying one thing and doing another. Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan is
doing the same thing today and a join protests that reminds us of what
happened in Wisconsin. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Breaking news tonight. Michigan Republicans have declared
war on workers and workers are fighting back. Hundreds of protesters
filled the state capitol today to protests Governor Rick Snyder and the GOP
lawmakers who are trying to ram through a so-called right to work law. It
would essentially gut the state`s labor movement, including the historic
auto unions. It`s a stunning power grab. Republicans introduced the plan
just hours ago, bending the rules that require bills to sit for five days
to allow public comment. House Republicans passed the plan late today
after Democrats walked out in protests.

As we speak, the bill is being debated in the Senate. Police even
used pepper spray on some of the Demonstrators inside of the capitol.
Eight people were arrested. Why are Governor Snyder and the Republicans
doing this now? Because it`s their last chance. They lost seats in this
election. They may not have the votes in the new session that meets next
month. So, Republicans are trying to ram it through now. It`s a page
straight out of the Scott Walker playbook.

Moments ago, President Obama issued a statement saying, he opposes
this new bill. This plan is an outrage. And we can`t let it happen.

Joining me now is Virg Bernero democratic mayor of Lansing, Michigan.
He ran against Governor Snyder in 2010. Mayor, first, thanks for joining
us tonight.

MAYOR VIRG BERNERO (D), LANSING, MICHIGAN: My pleasure, Al. But I
got to tell you, it`s a sad, sad day in Michigan. And if anybody doesn`t
think that this is an attack on democracy, this is the only second time
I`ve ever seen the state capitol on the locked down. People locked out of
their own state capitol and both times by the Snyder administration. In my
30 years in politics, I`ve never seen it. This is an attack on working
people, this is an attack on all working people.

So, it`s not just an attack on unions, if you enjoy a five-day
workweek, if you enjoy it, there`s no child labor, if you enjoy having a
few benefits with your job, you can thank the labor movement whether or not
you`re in a union. So, this is an attack on all working people. And an
attack on democracy. These labor unions are the most democratic
institutions there are.

SHARPTON: Right. Now, when you listen to Governor Snyder today, let
me tell you what he says about this law and how people are criticize it,
calling it a right to work law but he thinks it`s a much better
description. Let me let them speak for himself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK SNYDER (R), MICHIGAN: People call it right to work but I
think it`s a much better description to say this is about fairness in the
workplace, and a quality in the workplace.

I do not view this as something against the unions. I support the
unions in many regards.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: How is stripping unions of collective bargaining -- and
stripping people of a union that can stand up for them, how is that
supporting unions and helping working class people?

BERNERO: I mean, please, come on. Come on. That`s not believable on
its face. Please. This is an absolute attack on unions and the notion
that it`s fair, what it is, it`s the right to work for less. We know that
six out of the top ten states in unemployment are right to work states.
But beyond that Reverend Al, consider just the issue of basic fairness. He
brings up fairness. And I hear this issue of choice. Workers should have
a choice. They have a choice. It`s called democratic rule, it`s called
majority vote.

You know, people vote to have a union, and there may not be unanimity.
Not every person might want to have a union but that`s the way our
democracy works. You know, when George Bush was president, I disagree with
a lot of the way my money was spent. But the federal government still got
my money. You don`t get to withhold your dues sort to speak, withhold your
tax dollars, because you don`t agree with the leadership, you vote and you
leave with the results. And so, these unions, the notion that everybody
should be able to get the benefits of the union without paying dues to the
union, this is absolute nonsense, it`s against the democratic way. The
democratic way is majority rules.

SHARPTON: Now, you have states all over the country that already has
the so-called right to work laws and if you compare those states to states
that you have the right to organize workers with unions, the average income
and right to work state laws is $1500 less a year. The workplace death
rate is 53 percent higher. Nine of the 12 states with worst jobless rates
are right to work laws. So there is a substantive difference in key areas
between states that have these laws and states that allow people to
organize and unionize.

BERNERO: Absolutely, Reverend Al. When it comes to economic
development, what we`re concerned about is jobs and economic growth. Then
right to work is not the way to go. And by the way, look at the
distraction. Look at what is going on at the capitol. Here we are in a
tough economy when we should have a governor who`s out busy attracting jobs
and bringing jobs and economic development to our state, and instead we`re
going to have this massive destruction.

We are going to go to war over this nonsensical ridiculous issue. I
am appalled that the governor and the republican majority has brought this
issue to the floor as though this is what we should be spending our time on
in this tough economy when people need jobs and economic growth. If
anything, this is going to repel people from coming because nobody wants to
be a part of this circus.

SHARPTON: Well, we`re going to be following this story very closely.
Virg Bernero, mayor of Lansing, Michigan, thank you for joining us.

BERNERO: Thanks so much, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Coming up, President Obama is singing again. He`s having
fun with some Christmas carols tonight. We`ll have that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: All year, we`ve seen rock stars and politicians share the
same stage. We saw Bruce Springsteen out on the stump for President Obama
and we learned about that famous call he had with Governor Christie. Rap
superstar Jay-Z came out to support President Obama as well. Rocker kid
rock introduced Paul Ryan and rallied the crowd. And who can forget
meatloaf`s incredible version of "America the Beautiful" while standing
next to Mitt Romney. So, 2012 was a year music and political wars
collided. Election Day is the moment to celebrate the winners in politics.
But for musicians, the big night is the Grammys. Last night, we learned
who was nominated, the list includes familiar stars like Kanye West, Adele
and Maroon 5.

But there`s one category that really caught my eye. It`s the one for
best spoken word album, which includes audio books as well. Check out the
nominees. First Lady Michelle Obama. She`s nominated for her book,
"American Grown." But look at her competition. It`s former President Bill
Clinton. He`s nominated for his book "Back to Work." Wow! What a
showdown for that Grammy. But we`re not done. Because my colleague and
friend, MSNBC`s own Rachel Maddow was nominated for her book "Drift."
Incredible. But I have to admit, I`m disappointed. There`s some serious
snubs this year. I mean, how did this fellow performer not make the list?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HERMAN CAIN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Imagine there`s no pizza,
I couldn`t if I try.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That deserved something. And Mitt Romney`s tough year just
got tougher. Look at this snub.

FMR. GOV. MITT ROMNEY (R), MASSACHUSETTS: Oh beautiful for spacious
skies, for amber waves of grain, for purple mountains majesty, above the
fruited plain.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHRPTON: And perhaps the biggest snub of all, not Justin Bieber. I`m
talking about this one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I am so in love with you

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And he`s at it again tonight. After lighting the national
Christmas tree, he had some fun caroling.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

You better watch out, you better not cry, you better watch out I`m
telling you why, Santa Claus is coming to town.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So he won`t win the Grammy but he did won the big one on
election night and that`s what counts to a lot of us in America.

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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