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PoliticsNation, Friday, January 4th, 2013

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January 4, 2013

Guests: Bob Shrum, Maria Teresa Kumar, Abby Huntsman, Joe Madison, Alicia Reece

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Thanks, Michael. Thanks to you
for tuning in.

Tonight`s lead, GOP is ready to hold the economy hostage. And they`re
doing it at a time when we`re starting to make real progress.

Today, we learned the private sector added jobs for the 34th straight
month. Just look at all of those blue lines. That`s nearly six million
jobs in less than three years. But the Republicans are ready to play
politics with the American people again. A growing list of party leaders
are now threatening to throw the economy into free fall demanding massive
cuts to Social Security and Medicare and if they don`t get their way,
they`ll shut the government down and refuse to pay the country`s bills.
Behind closed doors, speaker Boehner told Republicans that he plans to use
the debt limit as a chance to force President Obama to cut spending. The
man behind the GOP`s destructive middle class budget just loves the idea.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: And that brings us to the debt ceiling,
Congressman Ryan. Will you vote to raise that unless there are serious
spending reforms?

the whole point. That`s what we`re all working on strike that jazzing.
How do we get the most of spending cuts and reforms. We have very few
pieces of leverage that we can use being the minority of divided
government. This is one of the obvious ones.


SHARPTON: Obvious? They`re trying to gut the social safety net. And
daring President Obama with threats to default on bills the country has
already racked up. Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn says a partial
government shutdown may be needed to restore fiscal sanity.

Restore fiscal sanity? What`s saying about ruining our economy?
Since when is this the way politicians negotiate? Since now, apparently.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I think we have to be prepared to go so far
as to shut the government down.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Save your powder for the
debt ceiling fight. Work with me and others never to raise the debt
ceiling again unless we address while we`re in so much debt.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I think there`s going to be an all-new
field of battle when the debt ceiling rolls around.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our opportunity here is on the debt ceiling. This
is where we have leverage.


SHARPTON: Leverage? This is a battle about real people, real
Americans. The GOP`s willing to take this country hostage. And for
ransom, they want massive cuts to programs Americans need to survive,
threatening to take the economy is not leverage. It`s stupidity.

Joining me now is Chris Hayes, host of "up with Chris Hayes" here on
MSNBC and Melissa Harris-Perry, host of "Melissa Harris-Perry."

Thank you both for being here this evening.

Melissa, here we go again. The GOP has a strategy to hold the economy
hostage. Does that make any political sense?

does for them. I mean look, we heard it from Ryan directly which is we are
without real political power, right? They`ve got a majority in the House,
but exclusive there, right? There are three branches of government, they
are one house and three branches, they are minority overall in the

So, what they have to deal with are not real chips. What they have
are these sort of moments, these opportunities that emerge. And, so, for
them, political, the idea is, OK, debt ceiling should be a no-brainer. It
should be easy to do. The we are going to use an opportunity to get what
we want because there isn`t any capacity to deal real governing.

SHARPTON: Now, Chris, even Newt Gingrich who was the author of the
strategy in the `90s, he said this morning it`s a dead loser for the GOP.
Take a listen.


find, in the house, a totally new strategy.

Nobody`s talking about, OK, here comes the debt ceiling. I think
that`s, frankly, a dead loser. Because in the end, you know it`s going to
happen. The whole national financial system is going to come into
Washington by television and say oh, my God, this will be a gigantic heart
attack. The entire economy will collapse. You guys can`t be responsible
and OK.


SHARPTON: I mean, this is Gingrich who shut government down in the
`90s. Everyone "the Wall Street Journal" said this morning and I`m quoting
them "you can`t take a hostage you aren`t prepared to shoot."

there`s two things here. One is I think Newt Gingrich might be
underestimating just how intent House Republicans are, first of all.

Second of all, it really worries me, the Republicans themselves don`t
seem to actually understand what they`re proposing. John Cornyn said you
must shut the government down. They are not proposing the government shut
down. What they are proposing is defaulting on debts already incurred
which is to say, there`s a whole bunch of people that the U.S. owes money
to, right? People who purchase treasuries, contractors we have to pay, the
salaries of U.S. senators. And what they`re saying is some small subset of
those, on a certain day, you should stop paying.

SHARPTON: Partial.

HAYES: What the heck does that even mean? And what exactly if you`re
worried about arbitrary government power, are you saying the executive
should exercise the arbitrary power and authority to decide who gets paid
and who doesn`t? Could they pay the salaries of Democratic senators and
not Republican senators, right? This is what they are proposing.

SHARPTON: And who decides that?

HAYES: Exactly. It should be very clear to everyone watching and
everyone following this debate, they don`t seem to even understand what
they are proposing.

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, because they actively, under Eric Cantor`s
leadership, Cantor basically bust up to John Boehner and was like, you know
what, you`re not going to teach us. You`re not going to teach -- we`ve got
all of these freshmen in, you are not going to them the rules of the game.
We`re going to actively not play by any of the rules of the congressional
game. We are not going to learn from our elders here. We are going to
hold up the debt ceiling initially, right?

So, this was a kind of strategic point on the part of Eric Cantor,
initially. So, I think it`s completely possible that there are, in fact, a
lot of Republicans who do not understand, even at this point, what the debt
ceiling is doing.

SHARPTON: No, and there`s no question they don`t understand. But
back to your point, Chris, I think they are so committed to blocking this
president and to causing some kind of drama that it`s like I`m going to be
actor without a script. I`m not doing a play, I`m just stage acting.

HAYES: Well, and there`s also - I mean, there`s a certain amount of
rational pursuit here in so far as the last time they do this, it was
effective. I mean, what came out of the last debt ceiling fight was the
budget control. And the budget control act does actually massively reduce
spending. It has succeeded in opposing austerity.

SHARPTON: You`re talking about in `11?

HAYES: Yes, in 11,right? So, the last time they went through this,
they got the budget control act, president of the United State, signed to
under control act, budget control act reduces spending. Now, Democrats
succeeded in both creating this whole sequester mechanism and also keeping
Social Security and Medicare largely out of that, right? They are not
coming back for a second bite of the apple. But it`s not crazy thinking on
their part.

SHARPTON: No, it`s not. But isn`t the fact that the president is in
a different position now, Melissa, and it`s certified today he won with 51
percent. He doesn`t have another election. It`s a different political
fight today in 13 than it was 11?

HARRIS-PERRY: It undoubtedly is. Except that, in this one sense, the
president is still primarily bound by a weak executive office, right? I
mean, not that he personally is weak, but that the American presidency
can`t just sort of force this to happen. Unless he is prepared to play
this game all the way out and go back to that 14th amendment route which
came up as a conversational topic in 2011, this idea that the president, as
the leader of the station actually has the capacity, constitutionally, to
say these are already incurred debts. We have to in fact pay our debts and
to actually go on the 14th amendment route.

Now, if that happened, then we are looking at the president, not only
changing the game by being reelected, but says I`m going to go all the way
to the fullest extent of my constitutional power.

SHARPTON: But, Chris, he said he wasn`t going to negotiate and is
Cornyn and overtly helped him get to the 14th amendment by saying partial
shutdown, meaning the president therefore has to make the decisions on
what`s going to be paid or not. He does it under the 14th amendment, pay

HAYES: Right. I mean, I think what ends up happening in this sort of
set up, it really comes down to a question of credibility. And, in some
ways, it`s who is more credibly reckless. And so, right now, the problem,
the president stays in these negotiations and House Republican caucus has
always been more credibly reckless.


HAYES: They`ve always been the side more willing to throw up
precedent. The president is very small see conservative. Has been
throughout his entire political career and certainly as the president of
the United States in terms of not wanting to throw out the norms that have
governed the way business has always done in the past. But I think we`re
headed towards a situation in which it will be required where he very
seriously considered throwing those norms away.

SHARPTON: Well, I think that they`re putting it between, what the old
folk used to say, a rock and a hard place in the context of where they are
saying we`re going to default even if it`s in part. We`re insisting only
negotiating things that absolutely would be held hostage. So what does he

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. I mean, all he needs is for the American people
to make it very clear if, in fact, the American people felt this way,
right? So if they felt, after an argument, you know what, we want the
president to use the power provided to him under the 14th amendment. And
if that became very clear, if there was a sort of clarion call, this is
what the American people want. That is where the president would then
ultimately have the power in this game. And then they either have to fold,
which is what Newt Gingrich is concerned about, if it`s sort of dead on

Or if they don`t fold and they turn out to be, in fact, completely
reckless, then, in fact, it is those Republicans who are up for re-election
in 2014, not the president.

SHARPTON: And which goes back to the "Wall Street Journal" saying
don`t take a hostage you`re not going to shoot.

HARRIS-PERRY: Or you just don`t take hostage.

SHARPTON: The fact is they might find out who they`re shooting is not
President Obama, but the American people.

HAYES: Yes. Or the brand of the Republican Party.


SHARPTON: Yes, that`s called a boom rang and the bullet hits you.

Chris and Melissa, thanks. Have a great weekend. Happy new year to
both of you.

Be sure to catch "Up with Chris Hayes" Saturdays and Sundays at 8:00
a.m. followed by Melissa Harris-Perry at 10:00 a.m.

Coming up, Republican smack down. It`s Chris Christie versus Paul
Ryan facing off over Sandy relief. And putting ideology over people. And
nothing is certain except death, taxes and right-wing outrage at President
Obama`s family vacation. We`re breaking out our video tape tonight.

Plus, President Obama`s not so secret political weapon. Joe Biden,
he`s sealing deals and having a whole lot of fun on the hill. The tape
everyone is talking about is coming up.




BIDEN: How are you? I`m Joe Biden. Come on, mom. Take a chance.
Ruin your reputation here.



SHARPTON: You`re watching politics nation on MSNBC.


SHARPTON: Have you joined the politics nation conversation on
facebook yet? We hope you will.

Today, our fans had a lot of love for vice president Joe Biden,
especially this moment from yesterday where he swore in Connecticut senator
Joe Murphy. The senator`s one-year-old son wanted to be sworn into office,

Janelle says what a cutie pie, and so is Joe Biden.

Josh said Biden was so nice to everybody during the swearing in
ceremony, he seemed like an overall great guy.

Coming up, more of Joe Biden being Joe Biden and why he`s the
president`s not-so-secret weapon.

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.
It keeps going long after the show ends.



GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: There`s only one group to blame
for the continued suffering of these innocent victims. The house majority
and their speaker, John Boehner.


SHARPTON: Some Republicans only do the right thing if they`re shamed
into it by other Republicans, like Chris Christie. And even then, they
have to be dragged into it, kicking and screaming. There`s what happened
today with the vote on disaster aid after hurricane Sandy. House
Republicans refuse to hold a vote on the floor aid package. Instead, they
broke it up into pieces, planning three separate votes over several weeks.

But even on the one aid bill up for a vote today, a third of all house
Republicans voted against it, 67 voted against helping storm victims. That
included party leaders like Paul Ryan, Jim Jordan and Tom Price. These
Republicans are so opposed to government spending, that they refuse to help
people hurt by the storm.

Once again, Republicans are putting ideology over compassion, policy
over people. We`ve seen it again and again. On issues rising from women`s
health to equal rights to equal pay and it has to stop.

Joining me now is E.J. Dionne, columnist for "the Washington Post" and
an MSNBC contributor. He recently wrote about the need to become a kinder,
gentler nation after hurricane sandy and the shootings at sandy hook

E.J., thanks for joining me.

Happy New Year, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Happy new year to you, E.J.

How can these Republicans vote against Sandy relief and they continue
to put ideology before people in need. How did they do this?

DIONNE: Well, I don`t exactly know. I think it is worth noting that
that kinder, gentler phrase came from George H. W. Bush. It was a
Republican sentiment once upon time. And you know, just it is too relied,
is something we have done through the federal government going all the way
back to the beginning of our republic. If there was ever any problem where
we really had that great sentiment there but for the Grace of God go I, it
was on a storm or a natural disaster where it didn`t matter whether you
lived in New Orleans or New York or anywhere else in the country, you knew
that could happen to you.

And I think the Republicans, these right wing Republicans, I`ll give
them credit, most of them still voted the right way, but these very
conservative Republicans think were even disaster relief has to be offset
by other cuts or some of them actually question the federal government`s
role here. And I think they`re starting to learn that this has a real
cause. A lot of them mostly worried about a backlash in the primaries from
their tea party. But, when you have people like Chris Christie and
Congressman Pete King in New York speak out and say, wait a minute, why are
northeasterners, you know, supporting the Republicans here? I think you
may start seeing a change; at least I hope so.

SHARPTON: Well, you`ve seen a fact that Christie`s state, as
governor, was devastated. Peter King`s district, and they have to stand up
for their constituency. But when you look at the fact that speaker Boehner
was afraid to even call the vote the other night because of the ideology of
some of these right wing Republicans, he felt they wouldn`t have got the
majority of the Republican vote, he did get the day even though a third of
his caucus still voted against it.

When you read one of the lawmakers, Representative Howell Rogers of
Kentucky, he told "the New York Times," it`s a little -- he`s talking about
Boehner`s role here. It`s a little bit like being the head caretaker of a
cemetery. There`s a lot of people under you, but nobody listens.

DIONNE: I loved that quote this morning. My mother-in-law who lives
in Rockaway, is living with us now because she was displaced by Sandy
Rockaway in New York City. And I just saw that and I waited her to allow
her to meet (INAUDIBLE).

But you know, speaker Boehner is stuck in a contradiction. On the one
hand, he is basically a conservative, deal-making pragmatic guy who got
into the speaker ship because of these -- this right wing tea party
rebellion. It reminds me of one of my favorite John Kennedy quotes.
Kennedy said those who foolishly ride to power on the back of the tiger
usually end up inside.

And the tea party tiger is constantly threatening to gobble up speaker
Boehner and the Republican Party. It hurt them in the Senate races in 2010
and 2012 and it`s creating a terrible situation for Boehner. And I think,
now that he`s re-elected, and I think that`s why he postponed the voting
initially because he didn`t want to force his vote on the right wing of his

Now, that he has reelected, he can either spend the next two years
worrying about his right wing or he can try to govern and be willing to
pass some things with Democrats. And I am hoping he makes the choice to
govern. But it is a very difficult situation he is in.

SHARPTON: And we`re not naive about politics, but there ought to be
some things beyond partisan ideology and victims of natural disasters ought
to be one of them.

E.J., thanks for your time, have a great weekend.

DIONNE: Good to be with you, Reverend. Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, the day President Obama`s election win becomes
official. We`re learning new details about the inauguration including a
first. You`ll want to hear this.


SHARPTON: Karl Rove is making predictions for 2013. Is this amazing?
Last year, he predicted the GOP would win the Senate. He said Harry Reid
or Nancy Pelosi would lose their leadership jobs. And he said President
Obama would lose. Wrong, wrong and very wrong. So, check out the big
predictions this year.

Governor Christie, Chris Christie will win re-election handedly and
Hillary Clinton will be the front runner among 2016 presidential hopefuls.

Wow, way to go out on a limb there, Karl. You must have nearly
cracked your crystal ball with those predictions.

But, folks, you don`t need to see into the future to know Republicans
will blame any and everything in this New Year on President Obama. That`s
ahead. Stay with us.


SHARPTON: Well, it`s finally official. President Obama has been re-
elected for a second term. Today, in a formal count mandated by the
constitution, Congress tallied the election results. Vice President Joe
Biden presided over the ceremony. A group of Senate pages carried two
mahogany boxes holding certificates of vote mailed in from around the
country. They found President Obama won the election with 332 electoral

It`s the first time since Eisenhower that a president won 51 percent
of the popular vote twice. And we`re learning more about the inauguration.
Chief Justice Ron Roberts will swear the president in just like he did the
first time around. But let`s remember who will be right there next to the
president, Vice President Joe Biden. He will be sworn in by Supreme Court
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic person to administer an
inaugural oath of office. But yesterday, it was Joe during the sworn in at
the Senate ceremony. It was Joe being Joe. Classic Biden. And I loved
every minute of it.




BIDEN: How are you? Good to see you. I`m Joe Biden.

KING: Who do I look at?

BIDEN: Whoever you want. I`d rather you look at me but you can look
at him.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Drop your hands to your sides. Just like that.

BIDEN: Spread your legs, you`re going to be frisked, drop your hands.
You say that to somebody in North Dakota, they think it`s a frisk.

You are so pretty. God love you, holy mackerel.


Did you have a really big fence around the house? With machine guns?


How old are you, four?


BIDEN: Four.


You need any help on your pace, let me know. Look at that guy.

Anybody else want to be sworn in as a senator today?


SHARPTON: I could watch that all day. But let`s face it. Joe Biden
is a great politician. He`s likable. He`s loyal. He`s tough. And, most
importantly, he knows how to get things done in Washington.

Joining me now is Bob Shrum, senior advisor to John Kerry`s
presidential campaign and now a professor at NYU. And Maria Teresa Kumar,
a president and the CEO of Voto Latino and an MSNBC contributor. Thank you
for both for your time.

BOB SHRUM, NYU PROFESSOR: Glad to be here, Reverend.


SHARPTON: Bob, let me start with you, what can you say about this
tape? Classic Joe Biden yesterday. What do you make of him?

SHRUM: Oh, listen. He`s real. Authentic. Comfortable with himself.
And, combined with that, he`s extraordinarily effective. I think he`s
arguably the most effective vice president in American history. It`s not
just what he did on the fiscal cliff deal. It`s what he did at the end of
2010 in terms of extending the tax cuts and getting unemployment
compensation through and the payroll tax through. It`s the influence he`s
had on Afghanistan policy and Iraq policy where we`re getting out of those
wars. It`s the way he campaigned and the way he related to people in the
last election.

I think that, you know, look, Hillary Clinton is a formidable obstacle
to anyone else in the Democratic Party running for president. But the
other really formidable force is Joe Biden. And I think sometimes people
forget history, no incumbent vice president who has sought the presidency
has been denied the nomination of his party since 1952.

SHARPTON: Wow, well let me ask you following up on that, Maria, do
you think Biden is seriously thinking about running? Let me show you what
he said on Election Day since Bob went there, let me go there with him. On
Election Day, it kind of raised a few eyebrows. Watch what happened in an
exchange Joe Biden had.

KUMAR: Um-hmm. I remember, yep, yep.


BIDEN: This is the eighth time that I`ve run statewide in the State
of Delaware. And it`s always a kick. And it really is to see people out
here and to hope everybody exercises their right to vote. It`s a great

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The last time you`re going to vote for
yourself, do you think?

BIDEN: No, I don`t think so.


SHARPTON: I don`t think so that it`s the last time he`s going to vote
for himself. What was he saying? Is he running, Maria? And if he were to
run, is he as formidable, in your opinion, as our friend Bob here thinks he

KUMAR: What`s so charming about Vice President Biden is that he`s so
coy with his words. And I think that that that`s what makes you -- the
media keeps eating him up. The fact that he`d basically left it open, I
absolutely do think that is the case. That, you know, he is trying to
figure out should he run for president in 2016. But, also, what`s
interesting is his choice of the swearing of his -- he`s going to swore him
in. It`s no chance that it`s Sotomayor. It`s no chance that it`s Justice

He has become incredibly close to Latino community. Has incredible
group of advisors. Secretary Solis has really coached him on how not to
connect with the Latino community, but also how to talk about their
immigrant experience. Every time he has closed session with Latino leaders
which I`ve had -- to be president, he talks about the importance of
immigrant -- and the importance of this country and you recognize that he
actually sees himself often times in the Latino struggle and I think that`s
something that actually makes something that`s very special and that will
actually, if he does choose to run for office in 2016, well, actually, he`s
something that the Latino community, I think, will really be charmed by.

SHARPTON: And I`ve seen them do, I`ve been in many meetings with him
and African-American leaders, progressive leaders, he knows how to talk.
Let me show you a clip of him talking to Latinos, members of Congress last
night Bob, and get your reaction.


BIDEN: Have you ever seen a time when the Republicans have had a more
rapid epiphany about immigration than they had this last election? The way
they make the mark to make sure there is no going back and only going
forward. It`s for the Hispanic community step up and step out and let the
world know and let the Republicans know and let others know that in your
state, if you ignore the needs and concerns of the Hispanic people, you
will not win. You will not win.



SHARPTON: That`s last night speaking to Hispanic members of Congress,
Bob. I just said he`s going to have Justice Sotomayor first, Hispanic in
history to do an inaugural swearing in. If he`s running in 2016, with the
vote of the Latino community being crucial, clearly, they`re coming out of
the 2012 election, seems like he`s on deck early if, in fact, that`s what
he has in mind in terms of being on deck to say, I`m in this race.

SHRUM: I think there will be a major presence in the push for
immigration reform. I think one of the things that`s most intriguing here
is that the Republicans now say, well, we`ve got to do something on
immigration reform. But then they want to break it up into little pieces
where they`ll probably vote for the punitive stuff and not vote, for
example, for things like a path to citizenship. But if you watch that clip
of Biden, you see what an extraordinary public speaker he is.

He`s been that way since I first knew him back in 1972. He has the
capacity to really touch people and to really move them. He`s an effective
campaigner, and in addition to this extraordinary record as vice president,
he has great strengths in Iowa, New Hampshire, Florida and the critical
states of Pennsylvania and Ohio. So, I think this whole press stereotype
about him is being confounded by events and has been sharply confounded by
the events of the last week.

SHARPTON: He`s an effective orator when you really hear him speak.


SHARPTON: But he also get things done, Maria. Look at his record.
He wrote the crime bill that included the federal assault weapons banned.
He drafted the original violence against women act, he played a key role in
bipartisan deals that resolve the 2010 taxation deadlock, the 2011 debt
ceiling crisis and, most recently, the 2012 fiscal cliff. So you can`t say
it`s all that he knows how to work a room or that he knows how to give a
passionate speech. He gets things done.

KUMAR: He`s an incredibly astute politician. He understands the
importance of connecting with folks in front of the camera. But more
importantly, he knows how to bring people together. As you mentioned, most
recently with the fiscal cliff. But let`s not forget, he also helps broker
Obama-care. I think that it`s important to recognize that he does
understand and he loves -- I really think that he loves the idea of going
in one-on-one, toe-to-toe and negotiating with folks.

And Bob, I hope, I sure hope that you`re right. I hope that the
president basically has him, you know, hand over immigration reform because
you`re absolutely right. We can`t do piecemeal. We have to do
comprehensive. And you know, what? It`s actually in the Republicans` best
interest to do comprehensive immigration reform. Because if they choose to
do piecemeal by piecemeal, that`s just going to continue dividing their
party and there`s no way that they`re going to get the Latino community on
board with them. But if they are able to pass a comprehensive piece of
legislation, all of a sudden, they can focus on the real issues at hand.

SHARPTON: Bob Shrum and Maria Teresa Kumar. Thanks both of you for
your time tonight.

KUMAR: Happy New Year.

SHRUM: Have a great weekend, Rev.

SHARPTON: You, too.

Coming up, who knew the righties loved to recycle? They`re bringing
back their tired older tax on the president for taking a vacation.


SHARPTON: President Obama has been enjoying his few vacation days in
Hawaii over the past year. And if anyone deserves some R&R, it`s him. But
some right wingers just won`t give him a break.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Obama went back to Hawaii to
finish the vacation. That`s another slap in the face, by the way. Gets
back on Air Force One. Didn`t even say, you know what, Obama used the
autopen in the White House to sign the legislation. He didn`t personally
sign it.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The president of the United States is back on
vacation in Hawaii. Meanwhile, just miles from where we`re sitting, there
are tens of thousands of people whose houses were destroyed by Sandy.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Aloha and Mahalo, right?

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Our commander in chief has since
returned to his wonderful vacation in Hawaii once again showing us all that
he simply does not have your best interest in mind.


SHARPTON: This is ridiculous. Conservatives don`t like what he does
when he`s working. But they also don`t like what he does when he`s not
working. They don`t like the fiscal cliff bill, but they also don`t like
how he signs the bill. After the big loss in the election, the GOP should
be trying to move ahead. Instead, they`re being distracted by birthers,
right wingers and TV talkers. It would be funny if it weren`t so sad.

Joining me now is Abby Huntsman, host and producer of HuffPost Live
and Joe Madison, nationally syndicated radio host and Sirius XM`s The
Power. Thanks to both of you for being here tonight.


SHARPTON: Happy New Year to both of you.

Abby, why are so some on the right so desperate to attack the
President that they leave and go after his vacation time?

ABBY HUNTSMAN, HUFFPOST LIVE: You know what they would have said if
he didn`t take a vacation, they probably would have said, he`s not
Christian enough. He`s not celebrating Christ worth or he`s not a family
guy. He`s not with his family. So, this is all political rhetoric. And,
frankly, the Republicans don`t have a lot of merit on this argument because
if you look at George W. Bush, he took the most vacation. He took --

SHARPTON: Let me show you the numbers. You`re absolutely right.
President Obama has taken 84 days of vacation from the day he took office
in January until today. Eighty four. During a shorter period of time,
George W. Bush from January, 2001 when he took office through August of
2003, that`s not even the end of his third year, President Bush had taken
250 days off. I don`t remember seeing the right wingers hollering and
screaming about that. And to even make it worse, let me show you one of
the memorable moments of President Bush on vacation. Watch this, Abby and


BIDEN: We must stop the terror. I call upon all nations to do
everything they can to stop these terrorist killers. Thank you. Now watch
this drive.

All right.


SHARPTON: Now, can you imagine, Joe Madison, President Obama talking
about something as serious as terrorism and then almost appear to be
mocking it by saying, watch this basketball shot?

MADISON: Man, you and your staff are good. I mean, that`s one I

HUNTSMAN: You can`t make that up. You can`t make that up.

MADISON: You cannot make that up. But let me put this in context
and I`ll use Nancy Reagan. And I saw this quote. Nancy Reagan said,
presidents don`t get vacations. They just get a change of scenery. The
job goes with them. All the pressure and everything. Every Republican
knows that. And to Rush Limbaugh, I just have two words. Jack squat. I
mean, that`s as simple as that. And the same thing with the folks over at
the other network. They know that. And you hit it -- look, Eisenhower,
nobody played golf more than Eisenhower did.

HUNTSMAN: Well, you`re exactly right. And, you know, Reagan --

MADISON: And Reagan was like 400 --

HUNTSMAN: Right. Reagan used to go to his ranch in California all of
the time. He`s getting a lot of travel. And people forget that presidents
back in the day would take the entire summers off. They would take the
train. That was the only way of transportation. They didn`t have


MADISON: All right. I`m going to say this, I`m going to say it --
because maybe I`m the one that will say it. Here`s what I think the
problem is. They don`t have a problem showing Bush, Kennedy going to where
ever he went off every weekend. I`m going to tell you what the problem is
with President Obama. That`s it. That`s the problem. And that`s the
problem they have. And they might as well admit. They can`t stand the
site of seeing this African-American president in Hawaii. And for them to
sit up there and talk about the people back home?

SHARPTON: They`re not too crazy about seeing him in Washington

MADISON: That`s true.

HUNTSMAN: Well, I think it`s obviously a ridiculous statement. I can
make same point than Joe is and I`m sure he`s working most of the time he`s
in Hawaii.

MADISON: Of course he is.

HUNTSMAN: But you know, I hope he is taking a little bit of time with
his family and time off. Because the next few months are going to be
really serious and difficult for the president. I mean, it`s really easy
to find ways to pay, you know, raising taxes. But finding ways to cut is
going to be very difficult. And the President is going to be in a position
where he has not only communicate with Congress and lead but communicate
with the American people and articulate how he`s going to make these
necessary cuts that are essential to move forward.

SHARPTON: Yes. But you`re also making one presumption that the
Congress will be there. Because the Republicans attack President Obama for
taking a vacation, but look at the 2013 Congressional work schedule that
was released this week. This year, Congress will spend only 126 days in
session. They`ll be gone almost three times more than they`ll be there
themselves. So, I mean, what are we talking about here?

HUNTSMAN: I think I`m going to run for office. I mean, it sounds
like quite the gig. But as we were saying -- go ahead.

MADISON: You`re better off running -- you`re actually better off
running for vacation. I mean, that`s what it boils down to. But for them
to bring up the people in New Jersey, excuse me, they were in office and
they still had 50,000 plus people who are without homes.


MADISON: And they couldn`t even come up with legislation to save
those people. While they were at work.

HUNTSMAN: It`s about getting the state of affairs done. It`s about
getting the work of the people done. And, frankly, Congress hasn`t done
that. So, I don`t care where they`re going, what vacations they`re taking.
It`s about getting things done. And the president, in the next two months
is going to be in a top position but I think that he is -- he can`t lead
and like we said, Congress isn`t doing it, so it`s up to him. So, I hope
he is taking that time off right now.

MADISON: And when you see what he`s done from health care to a Wall
Street reform, the fiscal cliff, the debt relief, on and on and on. If
he`s getting the job done, I hope whatever he needs to continue to get it
done, he does. And a few days here and there, particularly when it`s way
less than his predecessors --

HUNTSMAN: He could be gone for the next three years and I think
he`ll still do better than --

MADISON: Presidents don`t take vacation.

SHARPTON: Well, didn`t President Bush used to go a bit early? I
mean, about the time I come on TV.

MADISON: Ronald Reagan used to take naps.

SHARPTON: Abby Huntsman and Joe Madison, I`ll leave it on that one,
Joe. Thanks for your time tonight.

MADISON: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, Ohio was Ground Zero for voter suppression last
year. And guess what? They`re at it again. Big news on the right wing
secretary of state, next.


SHARPTON: Finally tonight, a New Year and a renewed fight for voting
rights. Republicans all over the country are, once again, pushing voter ID
laws. South Carolina, Alaska, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and West Virginia
all ready to take it up. But we must keep our eye on ground zero and the
fight for voter rights. Ohio.

Joining me now, Ohio State Representative Alicia Reece, president
elect of the Ohio legislative black caucus. She helped get this voter
intimidation billboards taken down. And she`s taking on John Houston,
Ohio`s partisan republican, secretary of state who did everything he could
to suppress voters. Thank you for being here tonight.

STATE REP. ALICIA REECE (D), OHIO: Thank you, Reverend Sharpton.
Thanks for having me in. As you know, this is nothing new. I grew up in
the movement and marched with you several times all the way back to my days
at Grambling State University when we took on David Duke.

SHARPTON: Now, how are you planning on taking on Houston and what are
your plans? What`s the strategy?

REECE: Well, the strategy is, number one, you know, we have had some
victories -- on policies. I think that`s important. You know, we`ve had
eight lawsuits, we`ve won a majority of them. He tried to stop early
voting on the biggest day of voting on the weekends. We won that fight.
And we had thousands that the largest number ever to vote on that weekend.
So we`ve won in the courts when the billboards went up. We said we`re
going to take voter intimidation and make it to voter motivation. And we
had even a black man vote march where thousands of black men marched from
the billboards to the polls.

So, we`ve had some victories. But as we approach 2013, there are a
couple of things that we`ve got to do. One, we`ve got to make sure that
the victories that we had are put permanently in place and I will be re-
introducing bills for voter reform in Ohio. Secondly, we`ve got to be able
to fight for our rights. You know, when President Obama gets sworn in this
time, it`s on Dr. King`s holiday. We go from I have a dream to the dream
is real. Now we`ve got a fight for that dream. And we`ve got to make sure
these things become permanent. So we cannot stop, Reverend Sharpton. The
keyword is action. There will be an election for that position of
secretary of state.

SHARPTON: Is Houston going to run again for that position?

REECE: He is going to run. He`s announced that he is going to run.
But I`ll tell you that the Democratic Party, we`re going to have a tough
candidate that we`re going to put up. But most importantly that we cannot
be just, like you said, at the inauguration and we`re celebrating. Well,
while we`re celebrating, they are organizing, the Republican Party is
organizing and getting the movement going.

We are going to be going all over across the state of Ohio, to keep
the infrastructure in place to make sure that we do have a secretary of
state in place that is going to have a right type of policies. And as you
know, Reverend Jackson -- I mean Reverend Sharpton, I have went out and
gotten the U.S. attorney general to come in to Ohio and we`re going to ask
him to come back into Ohio. It needs to be investigated.

SHARPTON: Now you`re asking him to come into Ohio and investigate

REECE: Investigate provisional ballots, for example. We`ve had races
in Ohio where provisional ballots haven`t been counted, where people`s vote
have been thrown away. We`ve had the monitors come in. We`re going to ask
to come back here to Ohio to investigate our policies and make sure that
there are no civil rights violations.

SHARPTON: All right, let me ask you. And you say voter reform,
you`re proposing legislation. Quickly tell me in a sentence or two what`s
going to be in the crux of the legislation you`re proposing, Representative

REECE: Well, early voting needs to be permanent. It was a solution
to the problems we had in 2000 and needs to be permanent. That needs to be
a permanent law to make it more sensible for people to vote. Number two,
when the person goes into a polling location and goes to the wrong table,
their votes should not be thrown away. So, we want to make provisional
ballots be something that is counted. And I want to say, Reverend
Sharpton, I want to thank you. You`re going to be in Cincinnati starting a
National Action Network chapter. We`re going to be working with you
throughout the state of Ohio.

SHARPTON: Yes, I`ll be there tomorrow evening to kick that chapter
off and make sure we protect people`s voting rights. Ohio State
Representative Alicia Reece, thank you for your time tonight. And have a
great weekend. As we --

REECE: Thank you, I`ll see you tomorrow.

SHARPTON: See you tomorrow. As we embark on a new year, we must have
a renewed fight for many of the things we fought for last year. Because
voting rights and women rights and the rights of people against
discrimination, whether they`re African-American, Latino, whether they are
lesbian and gay must be protected. This is not something that you can
fight one battle and think you`ve won it all. You win some battles, you
lose some battles. You fight a deal until we win the war. Until we have a
nation that is really living up to the creed in one nation, indivisible
with liberty and justice for all. Not all of one kind, not all of one
thing, but all. And as long as we need to pursue that, some of us will
pursue it.

Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.


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