updated 12/13/2012 10:23:11 AM ET 2012-12-13T15:23:11

POLITICS NATION
December 12, 2012

Guests: Tim Huelskamp; Nia-Malika Henderson; Ana Marie Cox, Margie Omero, Alicia Menendez, Mark Schauer, Joy Reid


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

Tonight`s lead, Republicans are picking a fight they can`t win. New
evidence today that President Obama is in a strong position in this
nation`s fight for fairness and Republicans are on the losing end of this
fight.

Now, new polls show 65 percent of Americans believe the president does
have a mandate to raise taxes on the wealthy. Sixty two percent say he`s
got a mandate to protect Medicare and 64 percent says he`s got a mandate to
protect Social Security. That is a winning hand. The president has it and
he knows it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m pretty confident
that Republicans would not hold middle class taxes hostage to try to
protect tax cuts for high income individuals.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And get this, 160 CEOs from America`s biggest companies are
also now saying it`s time to raise taxes on the rich. But, speaker John
Boehner is sticking to his talking points; at least publicly. He`s
refusing to budge.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The longer the White
House slow walks this discussion, the par closer we get to this year`s
fiscal close and the more American jobs are placed in jeopardy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Boehner can blame the president all he wants. The reality
is Americans want to compromise. A new NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll
shows 65 percent want both sides to come together and make a deal. But
that`s not what`s been happening in these talks.

President Obama made his opening offer, the Republicans responded.
The president then came back with a counter offer that included some
concessions, so far so good. That`s how negotiations work. But, then,
Republicans went the other way. They came back with an offer that was even
more out of bounds than the first one.

NBC News reports Boehner now wants to make the Bush tax cuts for the
rich permanent. What`s he thinking? We`re going in the wrong direction in
this country when it comes to economic fairness.

Incomes for the top 20 percent in this country are now eight times
greater than the incomes for the bottom 20 percent. This inequality has
been getting worse, growing by the year. This is not a Democratic issue.
It is not a Republican issue. It`s a basic American issue that touches all
of us. It is for the good of the country. And it`s time for speaker
Boehner and the rest of the GOP to step up.

Joining me now, Ana Marie Cox, Washington correspondent for "the
Guardian" and Nia-Malika Henderson, national political reporter for "the
Washington Post."

Thank you both for being here this evening.

ANA MARIE COX, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE GUARDIAN: It`s great to
be here.

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

SHARPTON: Nia-Malika, let me start with you. The Republicans realize
they`re on the wrong side of public opinion here or do they care?

HENDERSON: Well, you know, I think you definitely see from Democrats,
from the president using the power of the bully pulpit really underscoring
the fact that he won the election. You had Pelosi out today saying
essentially that where Republicans are isolated from the public in terms of
their stance from the tax hike. I think you have seen the president
continue a campaign that he started in 2008, really, a campaign against
extending these tax cuts. And now, he`s able to go to not only the
American people, but businesses in Wall Street. And in that way, I think
he`s giving cover to some Republicans who have been so staunchly opposed to
these tax hikes.

I think one of the things that`s really interesting is that f this
report that`s out from NBC that shows that speaker Boehner is holding the
line, in terms of the Bush tax cut. In some ways, he doesn`t even need to
because you have so many Republicans, even tea party Republicans come out
and say, basically concede that they would be willing to see these tax
hikes if there are cuts on the other side in terms of spending.

Now, And Marie, you`re not in the beltway, you`re not in Washington.
And the way that I`m seeing the polls and in my own travels, people around
the country just don`t seem happy with how Boehner is handling this. One
poll has, if Boehner is handling up the fiscal talks approve, 24 percent,
disapprove, 54 percent. This is a "Washington Post" poll. What is the
feel you are getting out there, Ana Marie?

COX: Well, you know, I mean, it`s all anecdotal. The polls are
probably more reliable. But, you know, from my experience living out here
in the Midwest, the American people are pretty common sensible. In the way
they look at the politics, you know, whether they are right or not to have
this view, is that they -- people should behave like you would in any other
negotiating situation. If you were sitting down with your boss or sitting
down, you know, by your house or something. And when they bring that logic
to what is going on in Washington right now, what Boehner is doing makes no
sense at all. The fact that he is protecting these tax cuts for the very
wealthy, it`s so blatantly unpopular. It goes against logic. It`s such a
thing that you could -- it seems like a very common sense thing to put on
the table in order to reach, you know, a compromise. I think that`s what
people are reacting to.

Now, we know it`s more complicated than that for some, you know, for
Boehner. He has to lead a coalition that has some complicated stuff going
on. But it`s true. He`s just going to get more unpopular the closer we
get to this cliff, the more it looks like he`s stepping on the gas to go
into it.

SHARPTON: Well Nia-Malika, even almost half for the Republicans are
saying the president has a mandate to raise taxes on the rich. When they
were questioned in a poll, Obama mandate raise among Republicans, 45
percent said yes, 53 percent said no, that`s high for Republicans.

But going to Anna Marie`s point, when you look at the hand that Mr.
Boehner is playing from his own party, when you asked Democrats whether
they approve or how the president is handling the talks, 79 percent of
Democrats think the president is handling it well. Only 39 percent of
Republicans approve of Boehner`s handling of it. So it`s not like he has
the wind to his back.

HENDERSON: That`s right. I think that speaks to, really, this is a
fractious party without a real leader in some way. If course, Boehner`s is
the leader of this house faction, but I think the Republican Party is very
split nationwide and those polls suggest. And I do think, also, that we`re
seeing a lot in the public play out. But there`s all sorts of private
talks going on that we just don`t know about. You heard from Pelosi today
about talks that she had or with the president, very moment in terms of
what her impressions of where this deal actually is. You heard from Jay
Carney the same thing. That they don`t want to play this out in public.
They don`t want to play it out in that way because it might jeopardize a
deal later on.

But, I think on the one hand, you have Boehner engaged in a sort of
advance, so public (INAUDIBLE) theater that may not actually be in keeping
with what is actually going on behind closed doors. I think both of these
men are ultimately going to have to get a deal done. And both of them are
thinking about their legacy. They`re also thinking about what it`s going
to mean next year to govern and push for some other bigger issues around
entitlement reform and in terms of immigration reform in some big ticket
items that they`re going to have to come together and work through.

SHARPTON: Now, Ana Marie, it`s difficult being a speaker. But today,
he got a little free advice from none other than majority leader Nancy
Pelosi. Listen to her advice to Mr. Boehner.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: I had to do to speak -- do
you know what it was like for me to bring a bill to Florida to fund the war
in Iraq? So, it`s tough, but you have to do it. So is the point that you
don`t want to put your members on the spot? Figure it out. We did.
Figure it out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Figure it out. Sound advice.

COX: We did.

(LAUGHTER)

COX: It`s true. I mean, I think that you know, Pelosi, that example,
is a really vivid one, if nothing else, considering the opposition that,
you know, Democrats had an Iraq war and why he had to do with the
compromise that she had to make. And as Nia said, there are compromises
going on that we don`t know about. A lot of what Boehner is doing is
posturing in order to appeal to those very conservative people on the base
and to donors. He needs to look like he fought the good fight. In public,
it needs to look like he`s really standing up for conservative principles,
however confused those may be. And, in private, he may be making deals.
He`s known to be a man who is good at that kind of politics.

This is sort of the thing where it is interesting to see that the
Republicans are making a bet that this posturing will not count against
them later. If they do, they are going to basically have to make a
compromise at some point. But they`re hoping that this posturing that
they`re doing, this fighting against the president is going to help them
with the base moving forward, even if they make a compromise now.

SHARPTON: Ana Marie Cox and Nia-Malika Henderson, thank you for your
time tonight.

HENDERSON: Thank you, Rev.

COX: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, a tea party Republican blasts speaker Boehner`s
leadership after being fired from his committee seat. That congressman is
here tonight.

And Chris Christie 2016 rumors are already flying. So are the tough
questions, they`re flying, too.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: OK, governor. I feel very
uncomfortable asking this question when I`m sitting opposite you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Plus, fighting the poll gram in Michigan. The plan to
fight for democracy, the right wing media distracts with this.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)

SHARPTON: We`ll tell you what`s really happening and why they have it
all wrong.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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Today, everyone was weighing in on the biggest lie of the year which
came from Mitt Romney and his team.

Nixon says Romney had to be the winner.

Peter says Mitt Romney had too many lies to pick from.

But which of the whoppers won him the prize? We`ll tell you later in
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(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Republicans may not be on the same page as the American
people. But now it looks like they`re not even on the same page as other
Republicans.

Last week, speaker John Boehner stripped 14 Republican parties of
their committee seats, apparently for refusing to told the party line.
Many conservatives were outraged. Some even started a movement to fire
Boehner from his leadership post. Now Boehner is trying to calm the storm
with a letter to the lawmakers in the so-called tea party purge. But at
least one of them isn`t buying.

Kansas Congressman Tim Huelskamp says quote "with this letter, speaker
Boehner has confirmed a secret score card was used to punish conservative
Republican congressman. This decision by GOP leadership in a closed door,
back room session confirms the worst fears of American people that promises
transparency was simply an election year Republican ploy." This is a real
fight within the Republican Party.

Joining me now, Congressman Tim Huelskamp, Republican from Kansas who
was stripped from his party assignment.

First of all congressman, thank you for being here tonight.

REP. TIM HUELSKAMP (R), KANSAS: Reverend, thank you for allowing me
to be on.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you this. Do you standby those pretty harsh
words against speaker Boehner?

HUELSKAMP: Not only do I standby them, I think it`s very clear. By
numerous sources, there was a secret score card. And what outraged me, I
must inform the outrageous my constituents is, if you don`t vote a certain
way, whether you`re a Republican or Democrat, you get punished in
Washington, D.C. You know, we`re sitting here looking for solutions to big
problems. The last thing we need to be doing is punishing people for
petty, vindictive things. And I think that is what is going on. I have no
explanation from our leadership. They won`t tell us why they keep us off
committees other than this rumor. Looks like a pretty clear rumor that
there is secret scorecard if you didn`t vote the way. I`m a conservative.
That`s what my consistence who wanted to me to vote. They wanted me to do
that in Washington. You and I disagree, but I`ve got to answer to folks
back home, not anybody here in Washington D.C.

SHARPTON: Now, could you see yourself supporting Mr. Boehner for
speaker?

HUELSKAMP: Well, I tell people we`ve got major decisions before the
end of the year. And here, the is a lot of media attention, but the real
attention should be on this massive, $60.3 trillion debt, this fiscal
cliff. But, most importantly, this debt crisis next year. So, I`m not
talking about what`s going to happen in February or what is going to happen
in January. What I want to talk about is how do we solve this problem?
How do we get the speaker? And the president actually opened up that back
door. I mean, they`re sitting there making back room deals. Open it up
and let the American people let you see what`s going on. I want to see
what`s going on. They won`t tell either side what the deal-making is going
on. And at the end of the day, I don`t think that`s the way to make
policy. And that is not the way to build up trust to American people.

SHARPTON: Now, as you said, you and I may not agree. We`ve debated
on this show, though you`ve always come on. Are you saying that as you
learn to try an stand up for your conscience, to stand up for what you
believe even if others disagree, that speaker Boehner has a score card and
is punishing you and three others for standing up and voting for what you
believe to be right?

HUELSKAMP: That is apparently the case. Again, we wrote a letter,
the three conservative freshmen that were removed. We wrote a letter to
the speaker. And I think if you read the language of the letter, you walk
through all of the Washington and you see oh, yes, there was a score card
and we were graded a certain way, graded down because we wanted to balance
the budget. And frankly, again, I can disagree with the speaker. But my
folks are very clear. We`ve got to solve this problem now in this spending
problem, and I`m shouldn`t be punished because I vote the way people want
me to vote back in Kansas.

SHARPTON: Now, when you say that the president and the speaker need
to come and solve the problem, not in a back room, the American people are
saying 65 p percent of American people that are polled say they want
compromise. The Congress should make a compromise for the deal. Do you
agree with that?

I don`t like to use the word compromise very often. I think we work
together. But there are principles that I hold that I can`t compromise
giving up those principles, but we can meet in the middle.

We can say hey, we`ve got a problem in the future. We`ve got to look
at reforming entitlements. The president has agreed to that. Both sides
have agreed to that. Hopefully, we can come to a deal before the end of
the year. But I`m not very optimistic! I think --

SHARPTON: But, I mean, what`s wrong with a compromise? You don`t
like to use the word compromise? If you`re talking about coming to the
middle, that means some would have to give and some are going to have to
take.

HUELSKAMP: Well, there are folks that say we have to raise taxes.
The president believes if we raise taxes, that`s going to solve our
problem. And I disagree. I think most economists disagree. And the study
shows, if we raise taxes the way the president would like to have as raised
taxes, it is going to cause the - were from 200,000 to 700,000 Americans to
their jobs. I don`t think that`s a solution. That`s what I say. I don`t
believe that`s the right solution.

SHARPTON: But I think what the president is saying is that we have to
raise taxes on people that are making $250,000 or more. He`s not talking
about raising taxes on middle class people.

HUELSKAMP: I think he`s willing to raise taxes on the middle class
and the poor folks if he is not given his increase on the folks making
$200,000 or more a year. That`s what worries me. That he`s willing to tax
everyone.

SHARPTON: Why would you or I want to risk the middle class and the
poor on behalf of the rich people. Why don`t we just give them that?

HUELSKAMP: Because I don`t want to lose jobs. We need to create
jobs. We need to grow the economy. And every study that I`ve seen is that
raising taxes, on small businessmen, that`s what I have in my district.
It`s not big corporation. It is a small businessmen and women, raising
taxes on them doesn`t create anymore jobs. And two years ago, that`s what
the president said. You don`t raise taxes in the middle of an economic
downturn. We are still on that economic downturn. And that`s where I
think we can come together and realize we want to get some jobs.

SHARPTON: That`s what we need, is jobs and coming together.

So, let me give you another studies since you brought a study. When
you look at under President Clinton, there was a net growth of 23 million
jobs with no tax cuts to the rich. In fact, he raised taxes. Under
President Bush, the net growth was just three million with the tax cuts to
the rich. So, clearly, you don`t need to give a tax cut to the rich to
create jobs when there`s a 20 million jobs swing between Clinton and Bush
and total different tax policies.

HUELSKAMP: Yes, there has been growth in the economy despite what`s
going on in Washington. But, what one constituent told to me is if you
want to return to Clinton-era tax rates, why don`t we return to Clinton-era
spending?. We got spending problem. Trillion dollars in debt and tax
increase as the president is talking about raising anywhere from $60-80
billion. That`s not a lot of money but in Washington D.C. that is about
one week of spending. The problem is we`ve got 51 weeks of over-spending.
And so, we can talk about raising taxes, but we`ve got to you grow the
economy. Now, what is if you raise taxes on small businesses, you raise
taxes on farmers and ranchers in my district with this debt tax for
example, that`s going to cripple small businesses. I`m not worried about
GE.

I mean, they`ve got a seat at the table at the White House. I`m
worried about the small guy that`s going to get hammered that don`t have a
lesion of tax attorneys. So I believe we need a fundamental tax reform. I
think the president agrees with that, as well.

SHARPTON: But, if you`re worried about the debt, and I think we have
to deal with the debt, according to the congressional budget office, you`d
pick up $950 billion over 10 years by just letting the tax cuts for the
rich or those making over 250 a year ago for 10 years, you have 9$950
billion covered right there. That`s a huge step towards the deficit.

HUELSKAMP: Well, when you have a trillion dollars of excess spending
in one year, what are we going to do for the other nine years? It`s a
spending problem. We`re spending too much money. And the deficit has shot
up since the president took office for a number of reasons. Like I said,
let`s go back to Clinton era spending. If we went back to those rates,
when we had a Republican house and Republican Senate and Democratic
president, they got along.

SHARPTON: But, I think the president has put spending on the table
and some are concerned about where that goes. But are you willing to start
with the tax cut for people over 250? There`s 950 billionaires. Let`s
start there. And then let`s go from there talk about spending or whatever
else you want. Are you willing to at least engage in that?

HUELSKAMP: No, I am not willing to let the president hold 98 percent
of the population hostage. By saying hey, unless you raise taxes on the
two percent, like demonize in the campaign, he`s holding up middle class
tax relief. Just get the two percent --

SHARPTON: I think what he said, congressman, is let`s agree on giving
them the 98 percent their tax cuts now and we can argue later about the
rich or let`s have the rich pay their taxes or have their tax cuts
increased. He is saying, let`s free them right now. He is willing right
now for you and him and the Congress to cut that deal. Right now, that`s
is not holding them hostage, that is freeing them. I think it is the other
side saying, no, we are not going to free them until you give us what we
want for the rich.

HUELSKAMP: No, I agree with the president from two years ago. Two
years ago, al, he said don`t raise taxes on anybody. He said that. And I
agree with him. It`s not the time to raise taxes. We can argue back and
whenever the economy starts growing again. Then we can talk about it. But
we`ve got a spending problem. The president has not put any spending cuts
on the table. No specifics. And many times, our side hasn`t done that,
either. Show us how you`re going to balance the budget because the debt is
a problem. It`s a spending problem.

SHARPTON: Well, I think the debt is the problem. And that`s why I
put out what I did. The figures that not me, the congressional budget all
for that.

I`ve got to leave it there. But I think if we just had an election on
that, the president ran on it and won on it. But --

HUELSKAMP: I won, too, Al. I won as did majority Republicans in the
house and we have a mandate as well and we have a mandate not to raise
taxes. But, we have a mandate to cut spending and solve this debt problem.

SHARPTON: I think that that is something that we`re going to have to
deal with if we`re going to solve the debt problem. And I think you ought
to tell the speaker you have a mandate. Don`t let them push you around,
congressman. I`m on your side with that one.

HUELSKAMP: We will continue to do that. My constituents are saying
the same thing. He will skip with it. He didn`t send me to Washington to
vote for anyone else. You`re supposed to vote for folks in Kansas, not
folks in Washington, D.C.

SHARPTON: And the middle class Kansas that don`t make $250,000 a
year.

Tim Huelskamp. Thank you for your time tonight.

HUELSKAMP: Agree with you. Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, Allen West said he lost because his opponent
cheated. But tea party Richard Mourdock has an even better excuse. Wait
until you hear this one.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: It is beginning to look alike like Christmas. Crowds are
gathering outside to see the Rockefeller Center tree. Kids are telling
Santa they did nice all year. And the first family led the country in
carols. But one yearly tradition might be in danger. Newsweek magazine
says, Bill O`Reilly`s war on Christmas is over. But Bill isn`t convinced.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: The Newsweek Magazine says, war on
Christmas is over and we`ve won. But there are still situations that are
totally crazy, like Rhode Island where the governor will not call the state
Christmas tree a Christmas tree.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: A governor is calling the state house tree a holiday tree.
In an effort to be inclusive. Bah humbug. But Rhode Island`s governor
isn`t the only person saying holiday instead of Christmas. And some of
those people might be too close to Mr. O`Reilly for comfort.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: The holiday season is here, which means it`s time
for your office holiday party are just coming up soon.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Holiday party.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Bring your wife to your holiday party.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Hey, Wilson, got any tips about your holiday party?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Holiday party?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Stand around there awkwardly and that`s a holiday
party.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: A "holiday party"? Do these fox holes know about the war
on Christmas? Or are they fighting for the wrong side? Sure looks like
it. They called their segment holiday party pointers. They were giving
holiday party tips for office holiday party etiquette. An entire FOX show
has gone rogue. They need a refresher on the FOX talking points.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: We`re not nuts, are we? There is a war on
Christmas.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: No.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: If there is a war on Christmas, it`s coming from inside
FOX. Did the Christmas warriors think we wouldn`t notice their own
colleagues think this war is made up? Nice try. But ho, ho, ho, we`ve got
you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We knew the GOP brand was in shambles, but now we have
proof. A just released NBC News Wall Street Journal poll shows the party`s
favorability ratings is at 30 percent. Close to a 10-year low. Well, I`ve
got to say it`s no wonder, the GOP is in full denial. The RNC chairman
who`s been leading down with spiral says, quote, "The debate calendar is
something we`re going to look at when it comes to fixing what went wrong on
this election." The debate calendar? What about policy?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: This is not a committee to recommend policy changes
to the leadership in the legislature. We have a platform. But I do think
that messaging plays a role. And I think, you know, candidate recruitment,
what to say and how to say it and I think we can inspire with love.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: All we need is love. Forget policy. But failed Senate
candidate Richard Mourdock really takes the cake. Remember him? He argued
that pregnancy from rape is something God intended to have. Yet, he`s
blaming his loss on false accusation, Democrats and the liberal media
churned up to distract voters. Oh, yes. Nothing at all to do with those
rape comments. The GOP`s problem is learning that the road to recovery
only begins with the first step of admitting you have a problem. We`re
still waiting for that problem.

Joining me now is Margie Omero, democratic strategist. And Alicia
Menendez, host and producer for HuffPost Live. Thank you both for coming
on the show tonight.

MARGIE OMERO, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Thank you, reverend.

ALICIA MENENDEZ, HOST AND PRODUCER, HUFFPOST LIVE: Good evening,
Reverend.

SHARPTON: Alicia, let me start with you. Do the Republicans
understand why their brand is in free fall?

MENENDEZ: I mean, apparently not. They`re talking about messaging
and what they really need to do is talk about policies. Talk about the
fact that in Washington, right now, they`re sticking to this not lowering
the tax rate for the wealthiest Americans. And then across the country, we
see a variety of mishap in policies. In Ohio going after Planned
Parenthood. In Pennsylvania, just today, you have the governor saying that
he won`t set up an Obama-care exchange in his state. In Michigan, we see
the republican legislator passing two different right-to-work laws. I
mean, all across the country, we are seeing that they`re sticking to the
policies that delivered these numbers in the first place.

SHARPTON: You know, Margie, you`re a strategist. And branding is
also how people get in their head certain images. And in the new NBC poll
collected, the most popular word or phrase used to describe each party was
as follows. For the Republican Party, the most popular three word, "bad,
weak, negative." For the Democrats, they were, "for the people and working
class." That`s very, very indicative of image and branding and how people
relate to just the image of each party.

OMERO: Absolutely. I mean, at this rate, you`re going to have the
Republican Party approach Watergate levels in terms of their brands. And
it`s a brand that`s going to the dogs. And that`s really an insult to dogs
because Seamus and Checkers would have made them more popular ticket this
time around. I think it`s important for a lot of these candidates to think
about how do they learn from these experiences?

How do they learn from these defeats rather than simply blame voters,
blame their opponents, blame the media. Really look inward. And if
they`re not doing that, then they are learning really the absolute wrong
lesson from this election. Because voters are looking for policies that
they agree with. They`re also looking for candidates who are fighting for
them, not fighting each other.

SHARPTON: Yes. And Alicia, they`re facing all of this with the
President doing extremely well. He`s sitting on a 53 percent approval
rating. His highest in three years. He also has the first positive
economic job rating since October, 2009. And it`s like they can`t figure
it out. The Koch Brothers who pledged $100 million to defeat Obama are now
postponing their annual post-election meeting, writing, "We are working
hard to understand the election results. And based on that analysis to re-
examine our vision and strategies and capabilities required for success.
Although some of the needy changes are already evident, it will be several
months before the state data necessary are to complete this analysis is
available." Several months?

MENENDEZ: Yes, I mean, it`s not state data, it`s demographic data.
We know who came out and voted for President Obama, and we know who came
out and voted for Democrats and we know that the Republicans` message right
now does not resonate with this new body of voters. And so, they need to
be looking at that. They need to be changing their policies on everything
from tax policy to immigration. And we still have yet to see whether or
not they`re willing to do that. And I think the message for Democrats,
because, you know, those numbers sort of show you this is how Democrats got
their groups back. Is that when you lean into progressive policies like
Obamacare, you can run and win. And that`s just as important for Democrats
to take away as it is for Republicans.

SHARPTON: And then Margie, as Democrats are leaning, as Alicia says
to a progressive ideas and politics, the outrage continues on the other
side. Lindsey Graham, Senator Lindsey Graham actually compared marriage
equality and the marriage equality debate to the civil war. Listen to
this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Slavery was outlawed by a constitutional amendment.
Go watch "Lincoln," great movie. The people decided. The question for us
is who should decide these things? Should be a handful of judges? Or
should it be the people themselves? And I come out on the side of the
people themselves. Different people will look at it. Differently. But
slavery was outlawed by a constitutional amendment. If you want to propose
a constitutional amendment, legalizing same-sex marriage and it passes,
that`s the law of the land.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, do they know these kinds of statements only move
them further and further to the fringe?

OMERO: There are a lot of different examples like this. I mean,
whether it`s gay marriage, whether it`s more salient right at this moment,
the fiscal cliff where they`re talking about digging their heels in for --
to protect the one percent? I mean, talk about their brand. Their brand
now is defending tax cuts for the top, very top, of our country. And,
also, digging our heels in on things like gay marriage where people are now
moving to the Left. Or on comprehensive immigration reform.

SHARPTON: Yes.

OMERO: People are moving far to the Left. Or even on things like
birth control that 99 percent of the electorate of women have used. I
mean, it doesn`t really matter what issue you`re looking at. Republicans
are now finding themselves being pulled far to the right. And part of that
is whether you have folks who may challenge Speaker Boehner for the
speakership. You also have folks that are going to primary centers around
the country.

SHARPTON: It`s going all over the place. But let me ask this before
I run out of time, Alicia. One of the rising stars at the republican
convention and being tallied for 2016 is Chris Christie, governor of New
Jersey. He sat down with Barbara Walters who began asking the hard
questions he may face in 2016. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARBARA WALTERS, HOST: There are people who say that you couldn`t be
president because you`re so heavy. What do you say to that?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: That`s ridiculous. I mean,
that`s ridiculous. I mean, I don`t know what the basis is?

WALTERS: I think they`re worried about your health.

CHRISTIE: Well, I have done this job pretty well. And I think people
watched me for the last number of weeks in Hurricane Sandy doing 18 hour
days and getting up the next day and still being just as effective in the
jobs. So, I don`t really think that would be a problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MENENDEZ: Having struggled with my weight myself, I am sympathetic
too. What the governor saying at the same time, I think it`s very
legitimate for voters to worry about itself. I`ve talked to big Chris
Christie fans in New Jersey who said, I can`t vote for him for President
because I`m really voting for the VP. I`m worried about him going into
office having a heart attack and someone else becoming president. So, I do
think it`s a legitimate question. But right now, you`re right. He`s
having his sweetheart moment. And everything changes the minute this is an
actual primary. And he has to talk about policy instead of talking about,
you know.

SHARPTON: Well, I`ve been heavy and I`ve been lighter. Now, I`m
lighter, but I was heavier a lot longer than I was lighter. So, I won`t
pick on the governor on this one. Policy, though, Governor, you and I
could fight about. Margie Omero and Alicia Menendez, thank you for your
time tonight.

OMERO: Thanks, Rev.

MENENDEZ: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead. Ahead, if you are in the right wing bubble, this is
all you know about the power grab in Michigan. It`s a distraction.
There`s a real threat to democracy going on. We`ll talk with the former
congressman who was pepper sprayed in the protest, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back. Now, you and I may think the big story in
the Michigan union fight is that more than 12,000 people turned out in the
freezing cold to peacefully protest the republican power gram taking away
worker`s rights. But the folks over at FOX News have a different version.
To them, the real story is that one guy took a swing at another guy.
Here`s the video they`ve had on a loop in the last 24 hours. Apparently,
showing a protest to hitting a man who turned out to be a FOX News
contributor.

(INAUDIBLE)

Now, there is no excuse for violence. But there are some important
things to know about this. One, the video has been edited and we don`t
know exactly what happened before the incident. Two, it happened at a tent
set up by the Koch Brothers, Americans for prosperity. Why did an anti-
union group set up a tent in the middle of a pro-union rally? We don`t
know. But we do know that over on FOX News, they went crazy using this to
cover up the real story.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, HOST, "HANNITY": Now, Crowder, you can see on the
screen left is a FOX News contributor. And he was in Lansing today. He
was viciously assaulted by a union member. A punch in the face.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: A punch in the face.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Repeatedly punched in the face.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Violent pro-union protest punched in the face --

HANNITY: Including that assault by union thugs.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: The guy there punched in Michigan. He`s going to
join us here, next.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Don`t be distracted. And don`t think for a minute this
fight is over. The battle, the peaceful battle for workers` rights has
just begun.

Joining me now is former U.S. Congressman Mark Schauer, democrat from
Michigan and a member of laborer`s local 355. He was pepper sprayed by
police during those peaceful demonstrations right outside the state
capital. Also with me, Joy Reid, managing editor of the Grio.com and an
MSNBC contributor. Thank you both for joining me.

FMR. REP. MARK SCHAUER (D), MICHIGAN: Thank you, Reverend Al.

JOY REID, MANAGING EDITOR, GRIO.COM: Good to be here.

SHARPTON: Congressman, what happened to you yesterday?

SCHAUER: Well, I was proud to help lead a demonstration outside of
the State House of Representatives, you know. I worked in that building
for 12 years. And I knew the best place to stand to give ourselves an
opportunity to express to the House of Representatives the voice of
Michigan. So, there were hundreds of us there. We were loud. We were
expressing our displeasure with this terrible legislation. Expressing the
frustration that we`ve been completely shut out of the process. And,
initially, mounted sheriff`s deputies lined up to create a barrier from the
building, which was fine. And then state troopers lined up to create
another barrier.

And then they began to push us. And I tried to negotiate with the
state trooper. And said, look, I used to work there on the former state
legislator. What`s your objective? And they said to protect the building.
And I said, let`s just draw a line here that we won`t cross. And at that
point, after the answer was no, I was hit with pepper spray in the side of
my face in my left eye. Others got it much worse than I did. It was
unnecessary.

SHARPTON: But the fact of the matter is whether this incident,
whether it was clearly, as you say, should be dealt with and the
altercation that FOX is running, they were not representative of the day.
The most of the day, 99 percent of the day was peaceful, you would say,
right?

SCHAUER: Reverend Al, I`ll tell you, I couldn`t be prouder of the
conduct, the behavior, the messages of over 12,000 men and women from
organized labor and beyond. There were, you know, pro-choice people,
social justice people, faith community, environmentalist, there telling the
legislature that right to work is bad for Michigan, will hurt our families
and hurt our state.

SHARPTON: Now, Joy, the fight ahead, because I wanted to establish
there was incidents, but it was mostly peaceful. And the fight ahead must
be peaceful. Michigan`s GOP and the union laws subject now to legal
challenges recalls ballot initiatives, 2014 election. Where does the fight
ahead lead?

REID: Well, you know, I think that the unions are obviously squaring
for a fight. If I could just say real quick, Rev, it is ironic to me that
FOX News, which was the network that claim the Tea Party was
mischaracterized because people showed racist signs that were actually
there is now trying to sort of refrain this entire fight to fit their old
narrative of unions being political thugs. But that aside, I think what
unions are going to have to do now is use the infrastructure that they
built for the 2012 election.

And, more effectively, deploy that infrastructure in a midterm.
That`s been one of the failings, really, of Democrats, typically. But even
with the labor union movement which forms a backbone a lot of times of
democratic elections. In midterms, that tends to fall off. The activity
tends to fall off. Not this time. It looks like in Michigan, you`re going
to have unions organizing to, number one, combat the way the law was pushed
through. Which went around the normal conventions on the way you do law.
But, also, to go after those politicians that voted for it.

SHARPTON: Congressman, not only in Michigan, this year, you saw a lot
of people despite some very clear voter suppression strategies come out
even though they cut some of the early voting in half, even some states had
photo ID, came out anyway, stood in line and turned it around. Some
nonpartisan groups did the same and had people make their own choice. Will
we see this happen around the country with the midterm elections now
becomes now a new point of organizing and people come out in a surprising
number?

Because you have in 2014, of course, Governor Snyder in Michigan, what
you have in Governor Walker Wisconsin, Kasich in Ohio, Corbett in
Pennsylvania and, and Scott in Florida. It could be a very decisive year
if people do what they don`t always do. And that`s come out during the
midterm election year.

SCHAUER: Absolutely. I mean, we`ve seen the right wing`s play book.
I mean, that`s exactly what this was. We`ve seen Governor Snyder`s true
colors and what this legislature would do and tend to continue to do. I
warned -- I predicted to organize labor that if we failed to amend our
constitution, to protect for right to work and other attacks on labor,
that the legislature would quickly enact this anti-worker legislation.
They did. I was right. We are energized. I`m ready to go. You know, I
know my brothers and sisters are ready to go and hold those who -- and
activists, accountable. And it will be a broad coalition. It will be a
people`s movement. And we will work until this is undone.

SHARPTON: All right, Congressman Schauer. Joy Reid, I`m going to
have to leave it there. Thank you both for your time tonight.

SCHAUER: Thank you, Reverend Al.

REID: Up next, the biggest political lie of the year. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: It was a rough year for the truth out on the campaign
trail. And we called out many of the, um, untruths. But, now, PolitiFact
has named the top lie of the year. Drum roll, please. And the political
lie of the year is, the Romney campaign ad that said President Obama`s
policies meant jeeps were now being made in China. They called it brazenly
false. Let`s play it one more time. I`m feeling nostalgic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Obama took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy and sold
Chrysler to Italians who are going to build jeeps in China.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That, of course, gets four Pinocchio from the Washington
Post. PolitiFact gave it up pants on fire. We will be sending some Costco
shirts as a price. We`re having some fun here. But let`s hope we can play
the game inside the lines from now on. We can all have our different
opinions, but we can`t have different facts. The truth is the truth. Is
the truth.

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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