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PoliticsNation, Monday, December 10th, 2012

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POLITICS NATION
December 10, 2012

Guests: Gretchen Whitmore; Robert Reich; Julian Castro, Michelle Cottle, Dana Milbank, Kerry Kennedy, Harry Belafonte

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

Tonight`s lead, battleground Michigan. President Obama went to
Michigan today to confront a crisis that began there. But that matters to
every state in the country. Republicans in Michigan, despite losing to
state by three million votes to President Obama have launched an extreme
attack on core democratic policies. They are now pushing a far right
agenda to go take down union rights and women`s rights. We`ve seen this in
Wisconsin and Ohio and Virginia. Now, it`s in Michigan. President Obama
went to an auto-plan where he ripped the GOP plan and crippled the state`s
labor unions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What we shouldn`t be
doing is taking away your rights to bargain for better wages.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: You know, these so called right to work laws, they don`t have
to do with economics, they have everything to do 6&with politics. What
they`re really talking about is giving you the right to work for less
money. You only have to look to Michigan where workers were instrumental
in reviving the auto industry to see how unions have helped build not just
the stronger middle class, but a stronger America.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The president is right. It`s not about economics. It is
about politics. The state`s Republican governor Rick Snyder says, he will
sign the right to work bill into law even though he opposed this kind of
anti-union push earlier this year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK SNYDER (R), MICHIGAN: Right to work is an issue that`s a
very divisive issue. People feel very strongly about it. So right to work
is an issue that might have its time and place but I don`t believe it`s
appropriate in Michigan during 2012.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: How do you go from divisive and not appropriate to sure,
I`ll sign it, just give me a pen? Snyder has simply misled voters in
Michigan waiting until after the election to make this move. This weekend,
the "Detroit Free Press," a paper that endorsed Snyder two years ago, read
an editorial blasting his quote "failure of leadership" saying he betrayed
voters and calling him dishonest and grotesquely disingenuous. What`s
going on here? Who`s behind all of this? Turns out its some familiar
faces. The Koch brothers are up to their old tricks. These billionaires
conservatives are helping to fuel the anti-union drive in Michigan. The
same way they did in Wisconsin for Governor Scott Walker. Their goal now
is the same as it was then. Cripple unions in order to pad their corporate
profits and take down a key source of support for the Democratic Party.

In this election, conservative groups dominated outside spending. Of
the top 15, 11 were Republican, just four were democratic. And two of
those were unions. Folks, this is their strategy. They need to weaken
unions. Since then, the democratic only bulwark against the billionaires
who can pour money into campaigns. They`re attacking unions, attacking
American workers for political gain. It`s cynical. It`s reprehensible,
and it has to stop.

Joining me now is Democratic leader in the Michigan state senate
Gretchen Whitmore and former labor secretary Robert Reich, now an economics
professor at the University of California. His latest book is called
"Beyond Outrage."

Thank you both for joining me for joining me tonight.

STATE SEN. GRETCHEN WHITMORE (D-M), DEMOCRATIC LEADER: Thanks.

ROBERT REICH, FORMER LABOR SECRETARY: Thanks, Al.

SHARPTON: Senator, Whitmore, there will be final votes and a big
protest on this plan tomorrow. What`s going to happen?

WHITMORE: Well, that`s right. We are expecting thousands of people
here at the capitol because people are angry. You know, this governor, if
the 11th hour under cover of dark in a lame duck session came out and did
an about face on an issue that he said was too divisive for Michigan. Now,
they`re trying to ram it through without any hearings.

Last week, they locked people out of the capitol. And so, people are
angry. And they`re going to show up tomorrow and let their voices be heard
because this bill is anti-family. Its anti-union, its anti-woman and the
way they are going about it is anti-America.

SHARPTON: Now, Secretary Reich, when you look at this, it was
attempted in Wisconsin and in Virginia and in Ohio. The bigger picture
here is they`re using legislation to really cripple their political
opponents all over the country and enhance corporate profits without having
really any way for redress from the American workers. So this is not just
a Michigan issue or Wisconsin issue or Ohio issue. This is really a
national strategy by the right wing.

REICH: It is a national strategy by the right wing, Al. It`s also a
new form of class warfare. The Republicans and the Koch brothers and other
billionaires have declared war on American unions. But American unions are
the representatives of the middle class, the working class. They are the
means by which most Americans, even today, in many industries, have the
bargaining power they need to get at least decent wages. You take away
unions and there`s really nothing left.

And this is actually worse. What`s happening in Michigan is worse
than what happened in Wisconsin because in Wisconsin, you had Scott Walker,
Governor Scott Walker going after public employee unions and now even all
public employee unions.

SHARPTON: Right.

REICH: Here, in Michigan, you`ve got a blank check. You`re basically
saying we are declaring war on all unions.

SHARPTON: Now, when you look at this, Senator Whitmore, first of all,
when we talk about how the corporate supporters of the right wing are
behind this, let`s look at the fact that the Michigan and the Koch
brothers. Americans for prosperity recruited 300 supporters to demonstrate
in front for this bill in favor of the bill. Key bill sponsors are members
of the Koch-funded ally. This is according to Detroit Free Press. So
there`s a direct connection in here. And they waited until after the
Election Day.

The governor said that this was inappropriate. That he wasn`t for it.
And, all of the sudden, after the Election Day, before the new legislature
is sworn in January, where they lost some seats without any notice they`re
ramming this through.

WHITMORE: That`s right. I mean, let`s look at what`s happening in
the election. Here, in Michigan, Mitt Romney`s home state, or one of his
home states, President Obama just trounced him. Debbie Stabenow did
extremely well. I mean, these are pro-worker, pro-women`s rights
candidates. And somehow, the Republicans looked at that and said we`re not
extreme enough?

I mean, we are all scratching our heads. How on earth do they come
back to Lansing and say that we haven`t driven an agenda that`s anti-woman
and anti-worker enough? I mean, I`m scratching my head, the same as you
are. We are wondering, how on earth can they draw that conclusion? We`ve
rejected the anti-woman agenda of the Republicans in this last election and
here they go again.

SHARPTON: Now, when you look at the question of women, the headlines
showing Michigan trying to pass anti-choice, anti-women bills in this lame
duck session, Secretary Reich. So we have them going after the Democratic
Party. Going at labor unions who have been the main resources for them.
Going at people`s -- the middle class, as you said, who need unions to
protect their livelihood. And, while we`re at it, let`s take a shot at
women`s rights.

REICH: Yes. They`re going after all of this, Al. And this really is
the legacy of citizens united in 2010. Because you see, all of this money,
what the Supreme Court did, and it did it knowing full well what would
happen. And it`s not just the federal level. It is more insidious at the
state level, at the local level. That`s where a lot of these right wing
groups are actually making the most headway with the money that`s coming
from the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson and others that are anti-union,
anti-women, anti-gay.

And what they are doing is trying to use, at the local and state
levels, their kind of very virulent politics against average, working
people. Against women. Against minorities and this is really under the
radar screen of most of the media because most of the media are focusing on
Washington and on the budget deficit and on the fiscal cliff negotiations.
But, this is where the rubber meets the road. This is where it`s actually
happening at the state level, at the local level. This is where all of
that money that was released into the political system by citizens united
is actually now paying off.

SHARPTON: Yes, and that is what`s frightening nationwide because
citizen`s united opens the door everywhere. And we`re seeing them
searching for a model on how to do this. That is why even the Detroit Free
Press, in an editorial, and, again, this is a paper that had endorsed
Governor Snyder two years ago. It says the real motive of Michigan`s right
to work champions, the determination to emasculate once and for all the
Democratic parties most reliable source of financial and organizational
support.

Now, senator, let me say this to you. If they can get away with it in
Michigan, Michigan has 671,000 union members, 17.5 percent of the work
force, fifth highest in the nation. If they can get away with it in
Michigan, they feel they can just steam roll all over the country.

WHITMORE: I think everyone should be worried what happens in Michigan
tomorrow and in the coming months, you know. I mean, they are talking
about unions. But, we know that unions are people. We`re talking about
people. We`re talking about our nurses and our teachers and our social
workers, our first responders, our corrections officers. We`re talking
about people. This is the middle class. These are families that are going
to be impacted by this. For what? This is about politics and nothing
more. These guys want to spin it that it`s about something bigger. And
it`s just not true. This is about people`s lives. And, you know, we can`t
afford to let this happen. And if it happens in Michigan, it could happen
anywhere.

SHARPTON: Senator Whitmore and Secretary Reich, thanks so much for
your time. We`re going to be watching this closely and hope to have both
of you back on.

REICH: Thanks very much.

WHITMORE: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, Mitt Romney spotted in Vegas watching a boxing
knockout. Kind of fitting for a party searching for a leader, mayor of San
Antonio, Julian Castro, the rising star I the Democratic Party joins us
live.

Plus, RNC chair Reince Priebus is ready for that political autopsy.
You got to see the list of people he has tapped to help. We have checked
it and it`s not a hoax. And the living legend, Harry Belafonte, one of the
great entertainers` activists of our time joins us with activist Kerry
Kennedy. They`re teaming up for civil rights. Don`t miss this.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Typical middle class family of four will see an income tax
hike of around $2200. How many of you can afford to pay another $2200 in
taxes? Not you? No, I didn`t think so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Have you joined the politics nation conversation on
facebook yet? We hope you will. Today, everyone loved the photo of the
Obama`s posing with some adorable little elves.

Connie says the first daughters are growing up to be beautiful young
ladies.

Jeanie says what an adorable photo. Those elves will have an amazing
memory of their time with our first family.

And Angela says beautiful. But who are the elves?

Thanks for asking, Angela. We`ll tell you later in the show who those
elves are. You don`t want to miss it.

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

(COMMERCIAL BEAK)

SHARPTON: Republicans still don`t get it. They`re still saying they
lost the election because they had the wrong tone. They were atonal. OK.
Now I get it. Dig army, one of the Koch brother guys.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had a lot of candidates, quite frankly, that
did dumb things out there. We had at least two candidates that should have
won that, frankly, lost because they said some stupid things on the subject
that their party`s leader should have schooled them to stay away from in
the first place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Saying stupid things. It`s all about the message, not the
policies. And we`ve heard it before. Texas senator elect Ted Cruz said
this quote. "You want to know why Obama won 71 percent of the Hispanic
vote. Tone on immigration contributed. But I think far more important was
the 47 percent."

That`s what the word tone comes in again. I`m sure self deportation
had nothing to do with it. And then there`s Karl-on-the-air-meltdown Rove
who said what splinters the Republican Party is intolerant and judgmental
language and unwillingness to acknowledge differences.

Judgmental language? This tone thing is catching on with them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: They also don`t need to be saying
stupid things. We had candidates in Indiana and Missouri that said
offensive things that not only hurt themselves but also hurt the Republican
Party.

GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: For anyone who wants to live their
piece of the American dream, we have to show that they`re serious about
reaching out and helping everyone. Not just a group here or there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: They have to show they`re serious. Then start changing the
policies, not the message. America is waiting.

Joining me now is a rising star in the Democratic Party, San Antonio
mayor Julian Castro.

Mr. Mayor, it`s a pleasure, first of all, having you on the show.

MAYOR JULIAN CASTRO (D), SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS: Great to be with you,
Reverend.

SHARPTON: Why isn`t the GOP getting the message?

CASTRO: Well, that`s a good question. And you had a couple of clips
there that are so indicative of where the party is right now. After the
November 6th election, they recognize that there`s a problem. And
particularly because anywhere from 71-75 percent of the Latino community
voted for President Obama. A high water mark since Bill Clinton`s re-
election against Bob Dole in `96. They just don`t know what to make of it.
And the first thing they gravitate toward is this old line of having to
change the tone or the message. What they`re not getting is it`s not just
about changing the tone. It`s not just about, not talking about
electrified fences and not being uncivil, it`s also about fundamentally
changing the policies that they embrace.

Being more willing to engage in conversations and discussions and
actually get comprehensive immigration reform done, get the dream act done.
Think about and include the Latino community as part of the fabric, the
family of the United States, which it clearly is and always has been, when
they think about the Latino community, you can tell that both in tone and
in policy, they think of it as something foreign. And that`s not the case
at all. So they need to improve both the tone, but, more importantly, they
need to change the policy behind the party.

SHARPTON: Talking about policy, the president is poised to make a
push for immigration reform after the New Year. The Los Angeles times
reports, and I`m quoting, "as soon as the confrontation over the fiscal
policy winds down, the Obama administration will begin an all-out drive for
comprehensive immigration reform, including seeking a path to citizenship
for 11 million illegal immigrants. We will see then where the Republicans
are. What do you hope to see in the immigration reform if it is real and
meaningful to bring us toward a better place in the country, Mr. Mayor?

CASTRO: My hope is that comprehensive immigration reform will be just
that. It`s going to be comprehensive. It`s going to include, of course,
additional measures to ensure that we secure our borders. It`s going to
include ways to work with employers so that we ensure that fewer employers
hire folks who are here undocumented. And, third it`s going to include a
pathway to citizenship, to full citizenship, for the 11 or 12 million folks
who are here who are undocumented, illegal, whatever term folks want to
use. Who I believe should be addressed. And we`ve heard in the last
couple of weeks, some heartburn among Republicans who are now just starting
to consider the idea of comprehensive immigration reform as to whether they
want to actually allow folks to become full-pledge citizens. And right
now, that seems to be the fault line.

My hope is that enough Republicans will see that they ought to allow a
path to citizenship. Find people. Make sure they learn English. Put them
at the back of the line but ensure that there is a path to citizenship.

SHARPTON: Now, 6 2 percent of Americans polled support that illegal
immigrants can earn citizenship. This is the Politico George Washington
University poll. And even since the election, we`re seeing Republicans
have sounded far more pro-immigration than before. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to have what is good economic policy for
America on immigration because we do need labor. We need skilled workers
and unskilled workers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to be firm and fair. Self-deportation is not
going to work.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Obviously, we have to do immigration
reform.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think the
comprehensive approach is long overdue. And I`m confident that the
president, myself, others can find the common ground to take care of this
issue once and for all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, when you hear what they were saying before the
election, when you look back, Mr. Mayor, at the last couple of years with
some very, very, in my opinion almost unpardonable legislation and
immigration. Now, we marched in Arizona and other places where immigration
was really profiling. Why do you think all of the sudden we`re hearing a
new tone? Is it that the Latino community used a ballot to really strike
back at those that seemingly was striking at them and other immigrants?

CASTRO: Yes. It was a very important moment for the Latino community
because, for the first time, on a major issue, the Latino community could
see that the fact that it came out, that it turned out in the presidential
election made a huge difference. It could make a huge difference in terms
of the policy direction of this country, specifically on immigration
reform. And it`s night and day. I mean, you play their clips before the
election and after the election. And, as folks say, elections have
consequences. And one of the consequences is, and the Republican Party
recognizes, is that they need to support comprehensive immigration reform.
Now, what the details on that are hopefully, they can work that out.

SHARPTON: One of the things that I think you brought home during the
democratic convention is the personal investment that many Latino citizens
have and those that want to be in trying to attain the American dream.
This is not something anti-American. This is pro-American by people that
are citizens here and want to see their families get what Americans have
promised the world.

CASTRO: Yes, you know, so many times during these last couple of
years for this immigration debate has been raging. I`ve listened to
Americans talk about immigrants, in particular, Latinos as though they`re
foreign and bring different values to the country. And I represent San
Antonio. And San Antonio is 63 percent Latino.

And you know, we have Latinos who have been here for generations.
Been serving in the military. Been getting good education, they`re
professionals. They bring the same faith, the same values, the same work
ethic that have made America great. In fact, they have been part of making
America great.

So, during this debate that we have in congress, I hope that folks
will recognize that this community that they`re talking about is a
community that has been contributing greatly to the success of the United
States. It`s not a Johnny-come-lately community.

SHARPTON: Mayor Julian Castro, thank you for your time tonight.

CASTRO: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, Newt Gingrich on a Hillary Clinton run in 2016. Why
he has his own party fuming today.

Glen Beck is back. He may be joining forces with Jim "I quit the
Senate" DeMint. What a pair. Stay with us for that one.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Republicans have assembled their own dream team to figure
out why they lost the election. Wait until you hear who`s on this team.
They must still be dreaming. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Republicans say they want to get to the bottom of why they
got crushed in the 2012 election. They`re serious about it. Really
serious. OK? Senate Republican National Committee has launched an
official review of the 2012 election. And they put their best minds on it.
Wow. Here comes a blue ribbon panel. Turns out, two of the five people
appointed to crack the code were poll deniers.

One of them, former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer told the daily
caller before the election, quote, "If the president wins, he`s going to
win very narrowly because I still think the polls are over-estimating
Democrats. Huh? How did that work out? Then there`s republican committee
man Henry Barbour. Before the election, he tweeted either it`s going to be
a historic Dem turnout or the polls are too waited for the Democrats.

Another read, keep celebrating prematurely. America does not want to
vote for Obama. Hmm, I hope this review goes better than the election
predictions.

Joining me now is Michelle Cottle, Washington correspondent for
Newsweek and The Daily Beast. And Dana Milbank, columnist for the
Washington Post. Thank you both for being here.

DANA MILBANK, WASHINGTON POST: Hi, Reverend.

MICHELLE COTTLE, THE DAILY BEAST: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Michelle, so the Republicans have a blue ribbon panel. But
do you think they are ready to learn the lessons of this election?

COTTLE: I think that you can disregard everything these guys said
leading up to the election because they talk a good game and they have to
have the, you know, bravado and whatnot. Now, they really want to be back
in power. And they`ve got to sit down and hammer out what`s going to get
them there. The problem is, the party can`t decide. Half of them think
it`s because Mitt Romney was too liberal and wasn`t enough of, you know,
kind of distinction from Obama and half of them think he was just a lousy
candidate for other reasons and maybe they should have gone with -- I don`t
know. Who should they`ve gone with? Jeb Bush? So, part of that challenge
here is that the party itself can`t decide what it wants to be. So, before
they can get down to the nitty-gritty, they have to solve this identity
crisis on some level.

SHARPTON: Now, you know, Dana, Bill Crystal has an Op-Ed in the
weekly stand in. Very interesting, he quotes here that, "They`re in deep
disarray, the conservative movement. And he says one is reminded of Eric
Hoffer`s remark." And he quotes it, "Every great cause begins as a
movement becomes a business and eventually degenerates into a racket. It
may be that major parts of the American conservatism has become such a
racket that a kind of re-founding of the movement as a cause is necessary."
Quite an indictment. But he`s really saying that what the conservative
movement that we saw from the days of William F. Buckley, Jr., the Reagan
has gone to business and is now becoming a racket and can they turn it back
into a movement?

MILBANK: Well, I mean u it`s a powerful analysis, particularly,
because Bill Crystal was part of this movement that brought them to this
point. It doesn`t seem even controversial if you look at it objectively,
what he`s saying. I love this notion that they`ve got to put together a
panel and investigate what went wrong in the election as if it`s some weird
kind of -- formula. But I think Michelle, and you, Reverend, and I, can
save them all of this money and tell them right now what happened here.
They don`t have to have this commission. They are becoming a party of
conservative, white males from the south in a country that doesn`t look
like that. That`s it. Full stop. They don`t need to waste their precious
party dollars on anymore studies of this.

But, Michelle, you see some interesting things developing for Senator
Jim DeMint, about to be former Senator Jim DeMint. Was on Glenn Beck
talking about how the two of them can work together. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JIM DEMINT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: You can be a huge help because I
think you`ve -- you`ve kind of brought a softer touch to what we`re talking
about. Communication, which you`re a big part of, is going to be key. So,
we`re going to have to partner with people in the media.

GLENN BECK, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Jim, I -- go ahead. I would love
to sit down with you ASAP.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, I mean, this kind of personalities, like Glenn Beck
and them, aren`t they part of what drove them all the way to the far right?

COTTLE: Well, look, Jim DeMint has always been one of the biggest
champions of the most conservative wing of the party in the Senate. Now,
he`s headed out of there and there`s much debate about whether he did it
because he was kind of tired of not getting his way in the Senate or
whether he`ll make a huge difference now that he`s gone to the heritage
foundation where he can kind of run this think tank and push those ideas
and fund candidates through the committee over there. But these two are
quite the cozy pair. And I think they`re just kind of ideologically
simpatico anyway. And they have to get there kind of push the party in the
direction.

SHARPTON: Now, on "Meet the Press" yesterday, Dana, Newt Gingrich
argued that Hillary Clinton is nearly impossible for the current GOP to
beat in 2016. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: She`s very formidable, as
a person. And is a very competent person. She is married to the most
popular democrat in the country. Every republican should be focused on
what we just talked about. I mean, if their competitor in 16 is going to
be Hillary Clinton supported by Bill Clinton and presumably a still --
popular President Barack Obama, trying to (audio gap) the Super Bowl. And
the Republican Party today is incapable of competing at that level.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Dana?

MILBANK: Newt Gingrich`s crystal ball has had some difficulties
before because he predicted that this year we would have President Newt
Gingrich, which didn`t turn out exactly as he`s anticipated. But he makes
a very valid point here about Hillary. And he has been actually
collaborating with Hillary on and off over the years. So, it`s not that
surprising. But also, and I think we`ve discussed this before, it seemed
very likely that the party that won in 2012 would be in a formidable
position in 2016 because of where the economy is likely to be compared to
where it was in 2012. So the incumbent party, the Democrats in this case,
are going to be in a very strong position. And if Hillary is the nominee,
obviously, she`s going to be the beneficiary of that.

SHARPTON: Michelle?

COTTLE: I just love a world where after being Bill Clinton`s bet in
war for much of the Clinton presidency, now Gingrich is one of the great
Clinton champions.

SHARPTON: Yes.

COTTLE: Along with much of the Republican Party. It has been
fascinating to see the Republicans embrace of Hillary Clinton, in
particular.

SHARPTON: He also doesn`t know how popular President Obama is even
though he just decisively won re-election. But I`m going to have to leave
it there. I was going to talk about Governor Romney was at the fight the
other night where the losers who he visited. But maybe we`ll wait and get
a blue ribbon panel on what Pacquiao lost the fight, Dana. Michelle Cottle
and Dana Milbank, thanks for your time tonight.

MILBANK: Thanks, Rev.

COTTLE: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Ahead, the fat-free world comes to a screeching halt on
national TV. Wait until you see my colleague, Lawrence O`Donnell, and what
he did with Newt Gingrich onset.

And two of the world`s biggest ambassadors for activism. Kerry
Kennedy and Harry Belafonte are here to talk about their latest civil
rights fight. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Republicans in Congress may be channeling Ebenezer Scrooge
in their fiscal cliff fighting. But that as a stop the first family from
getting the Christmas spirit. Last night, they even got to meet some of
Santa`s little helpers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: Release the elves. Come on
down. Hey, elves. What`s your name? Give me a hug. Oh, good to see you.
Everybody look up and say cheese.

Cheese.

Cheese.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY, UNITED STATES: And let`s say Merry
Christmas.

Merry Christmas.

OBAMA: Ho, ho, ho.

Ho, ho, ho.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The Obamas met the elves while attending a benefit concert
for the National Medical Children`s Center that featured stars like Conan
O`Brien and Diana Ross. The little elves were all former patients at the
hospital. President Obama emphasized the importance of helping other kids
just like them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: That`s really what Christmas is all about. Each of us is
incredibly blessed in so many ways. But those blessings aren`t just meant
to be enjoyed. They`re meant to be used and shared with those who have
left.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He`s right. Let`s hope everyone in Washington can find a
little Christmas spirit of their own.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back with the changing tides in American politics.
Republicans trying to figure out who they want to be when they grow up.
President Obama trying to set the agenda in the second term. For political
activists, it`s time to keep focused. There`s a lot of work to do. I
spoke recently with two of the country`s leading activists. Believe me.
Their to-do list is jam-packed.

Joining me now, Kerry Kennedy, daughter of Robert and Ethel Kennedy.
And president of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.
And entertainer, singer, activist, extraordinary, the legend himself, the
one and only Harry Belafonte who is also on the board of the RFK Center.
Thank you both for coming on the show tonight.

KERRY KENNEDY, PRESIDENT, RFK CENTER FOR JUSTICE: Great to be here.

HARRY BELAFONTE, SINGER AND ACTIVIST: Thanks for having us.

SHARPTON: Kerry, you have a lot going on with the RFK Center and
we`ll talk about that in a moment. But, first, let`s talk about where we
are in politics right now. After the election, you grew up in a political
family. Do you think the President is in a strong position to get a budget
deal that`s asking for a little bit more from the rich in this country with
wealthy Americans?

KENNEDY: Absolutely. I think that that was the endorsement of the
election. And I think he should fight hard for it. Why should the -- why
should our financial troubles be put on the backs of the people who are
least able to afford it, the poor in this country. That`s who we need to
have compassion for. And that`s who we need to lift up. And the rich
should pay more.

SHARPTON: Mr. Belafonte, you have fought for decades --

BELAFONTE: You used to call me Harry?

SHARPTON: All right, Harry. You fought for decades for some of the
quote, "entitlements" that the right wing wants to try and balance this
budget, balance the deficit off of. As you look at this, Medicaid,
Medicare, Social Security, you`re been an activist leader from Roosevelt,
Eleanor Roosevelt through Doctor King, through Mandela, to Obama. How do
you view this and what is the challenge for those that are on the field
today?

BELAFONTE: What I think has most attracted me through this whole
process is watching the political maturity of the American people. There
was a great question during the first election as to whether or not Barack
would even be elected. And after the turnout show emphatically, would put
him in the presidency, it`s interesting to watch the second term. When
everybody read it, didn`t quite know what the game would be. Well, the
American people, in their maturity, declared themselves fully. We want
what Barack Obama is talking about.

We want the country to go in that direction. And what fascinates me,
is that the face of billions of Americans expressing their desire. The
whole political establishment defining its game, that there should be this
lingering infestation of really corrupt people who sit trying to dismantle
the wishes of the people, the mandate that has been given to Barack Obama.
And I don`t know what more they want. The only thing left for Barack Obama
to do is to work like a third-world dictator and just put all of these guys
in jail. You`re violating the American desire.

SHARPTON: That leads me into my next question. You`re both big
supporters of human rights. And Republicans are hurting that fight.
We`ve seen right wing Republicans like you in 3D, in the Senate. It would
have ban discrimination against people with disabilities, it models itself
after the Americans with the disability act. It was first signed by
President George W. Bush. How can we get things done with this kind of
obstructionism is the U.S. Senate?

KENNEDY: Well, it`s a challenge. And I think that, you know, one of
the things that my uncle Ted Kennedy was so great at is bringing people
together. And trying to create personal relationships, which made people
want to compromise and want to come to some sort of understanding with one
another. I think that we need more of that, in general u with the Tea
Party. I think it just can`t be done. Because those are people who came
to Washington saying we want to destroy it. And that`s what they`re there
for. So it`s very, very hard to get any kind of movement.

SHARPTON: Is there a way to move this Harry in a way back toward
trying to put the people and human rights of people back as a priority
rather than see the obstructionists just block everything?

BELAFONTE: Yes, I think as a matter of fact, we`re very much on that
path and we should not be deterred or distracted by what the right wing
does. But I just have to also make an observation that the work that the
RFK Center does, in its work for instance in Uganda, which is going to be
part of African policy right now in Uganda, we`re helping to support bills
in the Uganda legislation to make homosexuality punishable by death. And
they`re getting ready in a few days --

KENNEDY: That`s right.

SHARPTON: Explain that, Kerry. Because I think, had it not been for
the RFK Center, many of us that call ourselves active wouldn`t know about
this. They`re actually having legislation to sentence people to death for
being gay in the nation of Uganda.

KENNEDY: That`s right. And it`s winded its way through the spirit of
political process and the speaker of the house has promised that she would
pass it as a Christmas present to the Ugandan people.

BELAFONTE: It is an irony that they should be saying that this is a
Christmas present, the celebration of Christ, the generosity of giving
love, the brother, the family. For these people to be pushing this bill
through that says homosexuality is punishable by death. And they have
already begun to destroy lives.

SHARPTON: I want to ask you. I know this is an important year for
the RFK Center. You`re holding an auction with many interesting items,
including dinner with Harry Belafonte.

KENNEDY: How about that?

SHARPTON: Tell us about the auction and tell us what you`re doing
with this.

KENNEDY: So there are -- there`s something for everyone in this
auction. So you can come right here to the MSNBC studios. You can go to
the "Morning Joe Show" or Chris Hayes or Thomas Roberts. And you can have
a meet and greet. You can -- if you like music, Mary J. Blige is giving a
meet and greet and great tickets to her shows. Taylor Swift has given us a
signed guitar. And then, if you like sports, there`s lots of sports fans,
opportunities. If you need to pay for all of this, you can go fly fishing
with Paul Volcker and he`ll give you --

SHARPTON: Wow, there`s a lot of stuff.

BELAFONTE: (INAUDIBLE).

(LAUGHTER)

SHARPTON: Now, how do people get in touch --

KENNEDY: That`s, again, www.rfkcenter.org. And go there, you can
come up to Hiana (ph) Sport, go sailing with my mother and Teddy, my cousin
Teddy. Harry has done that before. And it`s a lot of fun.

BELAFONTE: I`ll gladly do it again.

SHARPTON: Well, we`re excited about the work at the RFK Center.

KENNEDY: Thank you.

SHARPTON: And whoever wins to go to dinner with Harry Belafonte, that
night, they can come to POLITICS NATION and watch us do the show.

KENNEDY: How about that? That`s pretty great.

SHARPTON: Kerry Kennedy and Harry Belafonte, thank you both so much
for your time tonight.

BELAFONTE: Thank you, Dr. Sharpton.

KENNEDY: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, if it`s Sunday, it`s Newt Gingrich showing he
can`t handle the truth. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Finally tonight, for too long, Republicans have been living
in a fact-free universe. The polls are tainted, the President is not
American, he cooked the books on the job numbers. And too often, they`ve
gotten away with it. With stuff like this, too.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Raising tax rates
will slow down our ability to create the jobs that everyone says they want.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Oh, an oldie and a goodie. Higher tax raise cost jobs.
But every now and again, their luck runs out. And then it`s really fun to
watch. We had one of those moments yesterday, thanks to my colleague,
Lawrence O`Donnell.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST, "THE LAST WORD": Who said this? The
tax increase will kill jobs and lead to a recession and the recession will
force people out of work and onto unemployment and actually increase the
deficit. That`s Newt Gingrich in 1993 on the Clinton tax increase. And
those of us who were working on the other side of that tax increase, Newt,
have been waiting for your apology for 20 years for being completely wrong
about that.

GINGRICH: I still don`t agree with you.

O`DONNELL: But the economy soared. No one lost a job because of that
tax increase.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It`s baloney, baloney, baloney. The center for American
Progress said, Republicans were proven wrong in spectacular fashion with
the longest period of economic growth in U.S. history. Increased business
investment. Twenty three million jobs added. And, of course, budget
surpluses. So, let`s recap. New meets the fact and his only response to
it is baloney. And then there`s this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: There was no recession. You said there would be a
recession. There was no recession.

GINGRICH: The fact is, if you look at all of the indicators the day I
was elected speaker, virtually all of the economic growth occurs after
Republicans take control, all the increasing stock, in fact all the
increasing stock markets is after Republicans take control.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: From baloney to taking full credit. All of that economic
growth? Yep, we did it. But there was nowhere to run.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: When we balanced the budget.

O`DONNELL: You said the Rights would cause a recession.

GINGRICH: When we balanced the budget, we balance the budget with a
tax cut, four consecutive balance budgets with a tax cut, not a tax
increase.

O`DONNELL: A tiny tax cut compared to the biggest tax increase in
history, which is what Bill Clinton did.

(CROSSTALK)

SHARPTON: Republicans think they can just say things that aren`t true
and get away with it. But as Lawrence showed, facts matter, even 20 years
later. And that`s no baloney.

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.
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