PoliticsNation, Tuesday, January 8th, 2013
Read the transcript from the Tuesday show
January 8, 2013
Guests: Jared Bernstein, Jackie Kucinich, Pam Simon, Clarence Page, Margie Omero
REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Thanks, Chris. And thanks to you for
Tonight`s lead, Republicans get ready to crumble. For weeks they`ve been
threatening to shut down the government and drive us into default,
threatening to hold the economy hostage by demanding massive cuts to the
The ransom? An ax to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. They want
to shred and destroy programs Americans need to survive. But the president
is standing up to the bullies. And he`s already winning. He`s already
winning this fight just like he won the election. Just like he won the
debate over raising taxes on the rich.
And the American people are behind him. A new poll shows 52 percent
approve of the president`s handling of the fiscal cliff deal that raised
taxes on the wealthy, just 31 percent supports Speaker Boehner. Fifty-
seven percent say President Obama got more of what he wanted. Just 20
percent say that about the GOP.
Republicans may not be good at a lot of things, but I do think they can
read the poll numbers. They know their approach isn`t working which is why
GOP leaders have begun to waffle on the party`s threat not to raise the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: We have to use whatever
leverage we have. And there are some examples of leverage coming along.
The debt ceiling is one of them. That hopefully would get the president
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Hopefully? Whatever leverage we have? Doesn`t sound like a guy
who`s confident to me.
And John Boehner`s in the same tight spot. The "Wall Street Journal" says
that Boehner thinks that that bill is just one point of leverage. The
"Journal" says he hedges by noting it is not the ultimate leverage.
Folks, when a politician talks like that, you know he has a weak hand.
Right now they`re trying to bluff the president and bluff the American
people. But it won`t work. Voters are behind President Obama and his
Joining me now is Jared Bernstein, former chief economist for Vice
President Biden. Now an MSNBC contributor. And Joan Walsh, editor-at-
large for Salon.com and an MSNBC political analyst. She just wrote an
article about the president`s role in protecting the great society built by
Thank you both for joining me.
JARED BERNSTEIN, CENTER ON BUDGET AND POLICY PRIORITIES: Thank you, Rev.
JOAN WALSH, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Thanks, Reverend Al.
SHARPTON: Joan, President Obama has been firmed from the start on this.
Where do you think the Republican leadership is today?
WALSH: I think you`re right, Reverend Al. There are signs that they are
starting to crumble and, you know, Jared and I, we`ve all talked several
times about what it means when the president is having to play chicken with
people who are crazy and are willing to default on our debts. And that was
a situation he was in in 2011. And it was very painful.
And as the adults in the room and the responsible person, he did not want
to be responsible for -- or even partly responsible. He never was
responsible. For throwing us into default. Now it`s a different situation
where you do hear John Boehner and you do hear Mitch McConnell. McConnell
wouldn`t take the debt ceiling off the table, but he wouldn`t commit to
doing it. And when you have Boehner saying it`s a better point of leverage
to use sequester, well, he`s just politically wrong about that.
Because I think the president -- sequester is terrible, terrible program
cuts. But it`s a lot less horrible than the debt ceiling. So any time
you`re thinking that you`re having to bargain over that, you can actually
bargain around that and the president can stand firmer on that than he
could, I think, on the debt ceiling crisis. So I think his strategy of
saying, I`m not going to negotiate with you on that is paying off.
SHARPTON: Now, Jared, it was interesting to me when Newt Gingrich, who did
close government in the `90s, Newt Gingrich predicted that the Republicans
were (INAUDIBLE) on a cable on this. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: Everybody is now talking about
OK, now 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 in to Washington by television and say,
oh my god, this will be a gigantic heart attack. The entire economy, the
world will collapse. You guys can`t be responsible. And they`ll cave.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: When you have Newt Gingrich saying they`ll cave and Newt
Gingrich did this, I mean, you really, really have to question how the
Republicans even took this long to start equivocating on what they`re going
BERNSTEIN: I think everything that you`ve played so far and Joan`s
comments are convincing that the leadership is wavering. And when
politicians begin to waver, you`re right, Al, that usually means they`re
not holding nearly as firm as they suggest.
But I will say this. There`s not one monolithic Republican out there.
There`s really two. There`s the leadership that`s been shown when pushed
against the wall, particularly by some of their financial sponsors, if you
will, to compromise. And then there`s this base of radicals who I think
probably would default if they -- if they believed it gave them the
leverage to start hacking away at things like the social safety net or the
social insurance programs.
Remember, these are folks whose goal is to very aggressively redistribute
income upward. They`re the ones who wouldn`t vote for a tax increase on
people above $1 million. Yet we`re very happy in the Paul Ryan budget to
cut trillions of dollars out of the safety net and social insurance.
So if the leadership is willing to compromise to maybe take a vote that
uses a lot of Democrats to get over this -- over this deadline, then I --
then I could see us coming out of it in a much better place. But let`s not
forget about the renegades as well.
SHARPTON: Now, Joan, isn`t that really the problem that the leadership may
do what is more politically sensible and they may not be in charge as we
have seen in the last several confrontations where Boehner would try to
make a move that at least appeared more rational, not rational but appeared
that way. And he couldn`t even get that done because of, as Jared talks
about, the radicals that he has in his own caucus.
WALSH: Oh, yes. Jared`s absolutely right. And we shouldn`t act like this
danger is passed. Because, you know, John Boehner can`t do whatever he
wants. He lives in fear of his far right. He sacrificed a lot to get a
solution to the -- to the fiscal cliff problem.
Clearly that vote, Reverend Al, did show us that there is a potential.
There are numbers in the House, if you use most Democrats, to do sensible
things. And the question is always, can the speaker bring around -- could
he bring 85 people back to the table the way he did on the fiscal cliff
WALSH: To vote with Nancy Pelosi and move us forward? I don`t know that
he can. And so Jared is right, we shouldn`t act like this is over. But it
is significant when you`ve got Boehner and you`ve got Mitch McConnell and
even Newt Gingrich saying the debt ceiling is a loser. Because it is.
It`s a loser for the economy and it`s a loser for them politically.
SHARPTON: Because the point is you wrote yourself, the GOP can`t be
trusted on the safety net in Salon.com. Let me read your words to Jared
and get his reaction.
"You need a partner to negotiate smart changes and today`s Republicans
aren`t trying to fix the two programs. Many are trying to kill it."
SHARPTON: "Turn Medicare into voucher care and privatize Social Security."
BERNSTEIN: You know, the Republicans have two goals when it comes to
fiscal policy. One is to insulate their wealthy donor class from any tax
increases and the other is to cut away at the functions of government that
protect economically vulnerable people. Particularly the social insurance
BERNSTEIN: And one of the things they`ve done, and it`s been quite
Machiavellian and it`s been very effective and a lot of Democrats have
bought into it, is to create deficit and debt crises where none really
exist in order to convince people that the only way forward is deep
We can`t afford social insurance. We can`t afford safety net. We can`t
afford big tax cuts for -- the wealthiest. And it`s very, very important
to block those kinds of ideas.
SHARPTON: Yes. Joan, because of these kinds of things, they`ve really
lost a lot of trust and faith and popularity with the public. For example,
a poll that has come out finds that Congress -- listen to this, Joan -- is
less popular than root canals, replacement refs, cockroaches, and Donald
But be of good cheer. They are a little more popular than lobbyists, North
Korea, and the Kardashians.
WALSH: And you`re not going to go for gonorrhea. They`re more popular
than gonorrhea, Rev. So give -- you know, you`ve got to give them their
due. But yes, that sounds pretty right to me. And they`ve got to be
looking at that. Now that says Congress, which includes some Democrats,
but it really is about the face of the Congress, John Boehner, and it`s
about the crazy Tea Party people. So that is on the president`s side.
I would add, you know, to what Jared said. The third goal of the
Republicans is privatizing these programs and putting that money back in
the hands of the insurance companies in the case of Medicare and investment
companies in the case of Social Security. So they really have three goals
here. And they play us all against each other to get those goals
accomplished for their wealthy benefactors.
WALSH: But I`m starting to think that it -- it might not work this time.
SHARPTON: Well, we`ll be -- we`ll stay tuned and watch this one out.
Jared Bernstein, Joan Walsh, thank you both for your time tonight.
BERNSTEIN: You`re welcome, Reverend.
WALSH: Thanks, Reverend Al.
SHARPTON: Ahead, President Obama charges into his second term with a big
agenda and surging confidence. So what can he get done? And we have a big
announcement about his inauguration plans.
Plus, politicians who do unpopular things become unpopular. But Speaker
Boehner is hitting records in this department. Wait until you hear just
how low Boehner can go. The American people have a surprise for him.
Taking control on the two-year anniversary of Gabby Giffords` shooting.
There`s important news about a meeting Vice President Biden is having with
the head of the National Rifle Association. I hope they`re starting to get
the message that we need change.
You`re watching POLITICS NATION on MSNBC.
SHARPTON: Have you joined the POLITICS NATION conversation on Facebook
yet? We hope you will.
Today folks were cheering on the announcement of Gabby Giffords` new group
launched to counter big money of the gun lobby.
Kelly says this is exactly what is needed. Fight money with bigger money.
Joyce says, it takes one person to start something, and Gabby is the right
person. Laura says, I`m right there with you, Gabby. Let`s do this.
We`ve got more on the gun control fight ahead including details on a
meeting Vice President Biden is having with the NRA chief.
We want to hear what you think, too. Please head over to Facebook and
search POLITICS NATION and like us to join the conversation that keeps
going long after the show ends.
SHARPTON: Republicans have a big problem. They`ve been hijacked by the
extreme wing of their party. The GOP needs real leaders to stand up to
these radical Tea Party conservatives. Unfortunately John Boehner and
Mitch McConnell aren`t up to the challenge.
But don`t worry, Republicans, we have just the thing you need.
Welcome to the "POLITICS NATION Guide to Leadership."
Yes, Speaker Boehner, this one`s for you. Our comprehensive guide will
guide you all the tools you need to deal with your mean right wing.
Lesson one. Don`t be afraid to stand up to bullies. After all, he`s
working for the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will not have another
debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills
that they have already racked up through the laws that they passed.
Let me repeat. We can`t not pay bills that we`ve already incurred.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Lesson two. Some things are bigger than politics. It`s not
always about keeping score.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: We as a state have waited 72 days,
seven times longer than the victims of Hurricane Katrina waited. And one
thing I hope everyone in America now clearly understands, New Jersey both
Republicans and Democrats will never stand silent when our citizens are
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: And if the right-wingers still don`t get it, force them to spend
some quality time with "The Daily Show."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON STEWART, HOST, "DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": House Republicans
somehow neglected to vote for $60 billion in hurricane aid. A move so
ridonkulous (sic) even their own members were going after them.
This is just a simple, down the middle, black and white, cut and dry, warm
cup of what would Jesus or any other human being that isn`t an (EXPLETIVE
DELETED) hole do.
And you blew it. You blew it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: This isn`t us versus them. It`s about everyone working
together. The GOP must get its act together. It`s what`s best for their
party and for the country.
Joining me now, David Corn, Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones" and
an MSNBC political analyst. And Jacqui Kucinich, national reporter for
Thanks to both of you for joining me.
DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure thing.
JACKIE KUCINICH, USA TODAY: Thank you.
SHARPTON: David, let me start with you. Does John Boehner have the will
or the way to rein in these Tea Party radicals?
CORN: Well, first my question is to you, Reverend. Why are you trying to
SHARPTON: Well, I think it`s for the good of the country. You know, it`s
CORN: Well, that -- that`s it.
SHARPTON: -- to have a fight that nobody`s really there to fight on the
other side. They`re in their own corner fighting each other.
CORN: Well, it`s very noble of you. And the answer to your question is
no, in the sense that we`ve seen this going on for a year and a half. John
Boehner does not have control of his own caucus. He couldn`t convince his
fellow leaders that -- Eric Cantor and McCarthy to vote with him on the tax
cut deal on New Year`s.
So it`s weak -- it`s weak leadership and a very strong -- headstrong
caucus. And you`ve got -- I don`t know, 30, 40, 50, 60 guys and gals in
the Tea Party caucus in the House. You know, they don`t want to just take
the debt ceiling hostage. They want to blow up the bank. They don`t want
the money. They want the destruction.
SHARPTON: Well --
CORN: It`s like 60 Jokers from the Batman movie in there. And with that
sort of dynamic, unless he`s willing to do again and again and again what
happened a week and a half ago and let Nancy Pelosi bring more Democrats to
the table while he brings the non crazy Republicans to the table which
might be a minority, we`re in for a lot of trouble. And yet he -- you
know, Newt Gingrich and others say they shouldn`t blow up the -- the nation
over the debt ceiling.
I don`t know if he can control that, and if he doesn`t do that, I think
he`s still heading straight to a cliff with the government shutdown.
SHARPTON: Yes. Well, that`s going to be the question. Can he control
Well, Jackie, I mean, what baffles me is how this party, the Tea Party
types, who`ve lost so much of their traction and their popularity still can
wield this kind of influence over Speaker Boehner. When you look at the
fact that membership is in single digits. Member of the Tea Party 2010, 24
percent said yes. Now only 8 percent. If you look at the Tea Party`s
popularity it`s at a record low.
Favorable views of the Tea Party in 2009. It was 51 percent. Today it`s
only 30. And even New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who has an approval
rating of 73 percent has what is working with President Obama through the
hurricane openly defied them and he seemingly only got stronger because of
KUCINICH: Well, right. I mean, it`s true that, you know, their poll
numbers have diminished. But we also are coming off an election where
there wasn`t a Tea Party candidate in the driver`s seat. You admit Romney
who wasn`t really a Tea Party candidate. So there wasn`t that fueling that
you saw even with Sarah Palin and with the -- and with the midterm
elections. So there`s that.
The other thing is, I mean what we were talking about before, the Democrats
had a lot of trouble. Well, remember, when they were in charge. I mean
the climate change bill died in the Senate because they didn`t have the
votes. And that`s when Democrats had both houses. So I mean, really it --
leading is hard. Being in charge is hard. And we`re seeing it right now
with the Republican party. There`s a lot of fractures. When you look at
the ABC/"Washington Post" poll today. Forty-odd percent approved of the
Boehner bill, 40 odd percent didn`t approve of the fiscal cliff deal at the
end of the day.
So we`re looking at a very divided party. And yes, it`s going to be a
tough road for John Boehner going forward. But I also wouldn`t count him
out. Because he`s gone through a lot before with this party. And you
know, we`ve seen them come back so you never know.
SHARPTON: Yes, but Jackie --
KUCINICH: That`s politics.
SHARPTON: You didn`t have a Tea Party candidate at the top of the ticket
per se. But maybe the two parties --
KUCINICH: Per se. I mean, Mitt Romney was not a Tea Party candidate.
SHARPTON: OK. But let me finish my point. Major Tea Party candidates
lost. Alan West. Senate candidates. Those that were very much identified
as Tea Party candidates went down. Whereas in 2010 they surged. They lost
very key players in this last election.
KUCINICH: Well, I mean, Tea Party lost seats -- lost candidates in the
last election too. I mean, it`s not just this year. Sharon Engel comes to
mind in -- back in Colorado. So it`s not necessarily maybe this is
bolstering your point, but it`s not necessarily the past year. But there
are also --
KUCINICH: But you had Ted Cruise as well. He won. So there`s both sides
CORN: It`s also quite clear that after the 2010 loss, the president set
out to change the political narrative. The one that had been so successful
for the Republicans and the Tea Party in the midterm elections. And he
largely succeed in doing that while pushing progressive values and
attacking Mitt Romney. But also attacking the essence of the Tea Party
Whether it was there -- what they wanted to do with Medicare. What he
wanted to do with, you know, taxes. And he`s kind of won the argument, you
know, overall. Now it`s not a 70/30 split. He won the election by, you
know, by four or five points, whatever it was. So it`s still a country
that`s narrowly divided somewhat on these big issues.
But he has the impetus. The Tea Party, you know, has caused an operational
split if not an ideological split within the Republican Party, and John
Boehner to date has not shown himself to be crafty enough to deal with that
very difficult situation.
SHARPTON: And I think also, Jackie, on some things that are really beyond
what some people would say -- think I among them is beyond politics. Like
when you look at getting relief for Hurricane Sandy areas. On this station
over the weekend Democratic New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone blamed the
Tea Party for slowing down the vote on the Sandy relief. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. FRANK PALLONE (D), NEW JERSEY: The Tea Party people are mostly from
the south and the west. And if this had been Alabama or Louisiana or
Kansas, they wouldn`t have held this up. They would have the vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now when you look at that, look at Mississippi Republicans
Congressman Steve Palazzo who I`ve talked about here last night. He pushed
for storm relief in his district after Katrina, Hurricane Katrina, and
Isaac. He voted no for Sandy relief because, quote, "We have a financial
disaster that is looming in the country that I believe personally in my
heart is going to be greater than any natural disaster that has ever hit
Now today the paper ripped into Palazzo. His own hometown paper. For his
vote against Sandy relief. Quote, "Seldom has a single vote in Congress
appeared as cold-blooded and hard headed as the one cast by representative
Steven Palazzo last week. That Palazzo would rather make a political, a
philosophical point than help put Families back together, rebuild
communities, as he himself once put it is both shameful and offensive.
This is an example of this kind of Tea Party ideology that just seems that
people are not as important as the ideology even when they didn`t feel that
way under different circumstances, Jackie.
KUCINICH: Again, like we talked about the divide in the Republican Party,
we saw a lot of east coast -- the Republicans whose districts were effected
by that really get very upset about that. So again --
SHARPTON: Peter King and others, yes.
KUCINICH: Yes, exactly. And I think this just illustrates, again, the
divide within the Republican Party.
SHARPTON: That bolsters my point that they are losing steam, but they seem
to be able to check Mr. Boehner.
CORN: Well, also -- and don`t forget. The one reason they`ve been able to
maintain the majority and the Tea Party people maintain their hold within
the party is that after redistricting, a lot of these districts
SHARPTON: Gerrymandered, yes.
CORN: So that they`re so far to the right that a lot of the Tea Party guys
feel they`re going to be primary from the right unless they are far right.
And that makes it very hard. Particularly if Boehner doesn`t have the
ability to give earmarks anymore.
CORN: To have any sort of interparty discipline. And Boehner doesn`t have
the powers of persuasion it seems even to win over his own fellow leaders
so it really puts him in charge --
SHARPTON: No, you know --
CORN: -- of a caucus that`s bracket.
SHARPTON: Persuasion is not one thing we accuse Mr. Boehner of.
CORN: Not yet.
SHARPTON: David and Jackie, thank you for your time tonight. Have a good
CORN: Sure thing.
KUCINICH: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Still ahead, a new team and a new vision for President Obama`s
second term. Big news on the president`s inauguration today.
But first, Joe Biden is facing off against the NRA. It`s a showdown over
gun control. And the vice president is getting a big assist from Gabby
You`re watching POLITICS NATION right here on MSNBC.
SHARPTON: The election and re-election of President Obama have been
historic moment for America. Moments that happen because of the struggle
and sacrifices of others. Today, there`s a big surprise about that legacy,
and it will be a big moment at the inauguration in just a couple of weeks.
SHARPTON: Today in Arizona, a solemn reminder about the gun tragedy that
happened in Tucson on this day two years ago. A gunman opening fire on a
crowd at a Tucson shopping center at a Congress on your corner event. Six
people were killed including a nine-year-old girl. Thirteen others were
injured. One of the victims was the host of the event, Congresswoman Gabby
Giffords. She was shot in the head at close range and rushed to the
hospital. Miraculously she survived.
Her incredible comeback story has been an inspiration to many across
America. Since that terrible day despite national outrage and calls for
gun control reform, nothing has happened. There were many other shootings
including the outrageous murders in the city of Chicago. But it took
another mass shooting tragedy, a rampage in Newtown, Connecticut, that
killed 20 children for a real movement for change to begin to take hold.
This time there`s momentum behind the outrage.
The big news today, Vice President Biden who is in charge of a task force
on gun control will be meeting with the National Rifle Association on
Thursday. This is big. There have been 11 mass shootings since the
tragedy in Tucson two years ago today. And there are killings daily all
over the country. Chicago is the worst situation in our cities. The
question is will this time be different?
Joining me now is Pam Simon, Gabby Giffords` Congressional aide who was
shot in the chest during the Tucson shooting and Clarence Page, columnist
for the Chicago Tribune. Thank you both for your time.
PAM SIMON, TUCSON SHOOTING VICTIM: Thank you.
CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Pam, you were working for Congresswoman Giffords. You were shot
yourself two years ago today. Today, how do you feel two years later?
SIMON: Two years later the emotional healing is beginning to happen I
think for myself as well as the other survivors. The physical wounds have
healed. But I`m outraged. I`m outraged that it`s been two years and
Congress has done absolutely nothing to make any changes in the gun
violence in our country.
SHARPTON: Now, here you had Congresswoman Giffords who you worked for and
both of you wounded that day and she`s a member of Congress. Yet it didn`t
make her fellow Congress persons, colleagues, move forward. That`s got to
be disheartening for you who now you`re an advocate in this matter of gun
control. I mean, did it have to take all of this, for children, to start
moving her colleagues?
SIMON: You know, that question`s been asked over and over and over. And
it`s of course an unmitigated tragedy what happened in Connecticut. The
important thing is, we cannot let this conversation drop. Finally at least
people are beginning to talk about this and some movement is happening. I
am so excited that President Biden and the commission will be talking to
NRA leadership. Because until we start coming together, we are never going
to find a solution. And I believe that this time perhaps we have the
momentum. Certainly, I know that the average citizen is behind it.
I`m sure you`ve seen the polls that 84 percent of gun owners believed that
all guns should go through a background check. That is absolutely only
common sense. I was a teacher of middle school and high school for over 20
years. And I can see how firearms and gun violence can cause such havoc in
young lives. Especially the 33 on average a day that are killed are
usually young and usually people of color and usually poor. And this is an
outrage. This needs to change.
SHARPTON: Clarence, on that note because she`s absolutely right about the
proportion of people of color and poor that are being shot and killed,
Chicago Police Department records that there are 506 deaths in 2012 in
Chicago. Sixteen percent increase from the year before. A total of 11
people have been killed in gun violence in Chicago so far this year. This
is an epidemic. The problem isn`t just guns, Clarence.
PAGE: I`m glad you used the word epidemic, Reverend, because I think
that`s critically important. I just used that as a theme for my column
tomorrow in fact. Because I think we have a mistake when we use military
language, you know, a war on guns or a war on crime. Things have changed
since the -- I know you remember as well as me the days of the super gangs
in Chicago, Stone Nation disciples, Vice Lords, Latin Kings. Today, those
gangs have been broken up a lot like Tony Soprano`s mafia. You know, the
federal Rico laws and all that. But what we`ve got is hundreds of small
cliques as they call themselves. Really just gangs hanging out on the
They`re not organized. There`s not a hierarchy, even there`s lots of guns
out there. And we`ve had a lot of changes with Chicago`s population
particularly with the tearing down of the high-rise public housing
developments. Thousands of families have been moved into the very
neighborhoods where almost all of this violence is taking place. And it`s
important to note that these are a few neighborhoods where most of this
violence is taking place. The rest of the city people are going about
their lives, and they only see it in the media. And that`s why we`ve got
to break the cycle of violence. Getting some gun safety would be number
one. But the Illinois legislature today went into lame duck session
without taking any action on the gun measures that the governor and the
mayor of Chicago have both been pushing for.
SHARPTON: Now, you`ve seen us get to this moment before. Do you think
when you see Biden meeting with the NRA, you heard Pam speaking so
hopefully about it, do you think there will be some difference this time,
PAGE: No, it`s a real scandal that it took the killing of school children
five, six, seven years old in order to get people to move. But this is an
important moment. Absolutely right about that. That there is an impetus
out there. We`re starting to see Democrats for the first time since 2000
when Al Gore lost in West Virginia, most -- of the NRA. We`re starting to
see some action and a push. That`s a question of whether they`ll keep the
momentum going. The NRA, you know, its membership is mostly gun owners but
the money is mostly from the gun industry.
SHARPTON: There lies the question.
Yes. That`s the question. Pam, let me ask you this quickly. When you see
the Washington Post reporting that this task force is coming back, they
will be proposing things like universal background checks which you
mentioned for gun violence. National weapons tracking data base, stronger
mental health clinics, tougher penalties for people who bring guns close to
school, and tougher penalties for giving them to minors. Is this a step in
the right direction in your opinion?
SIMON: It`s absolutely a step in the right direction. On top of that,
it`s so common sense you can figure out why we didn`t we do it before?
There are many more steps you have to go through to own and license a car
than a gun.
SIMON: And so, obviously this is the right step. I am working with
survivors across the country on an online petition called demand a
plan.org. We`ve been working with mayors against illegal guns. And we
have almost 900,000 people have signed on. And what we want to do is give
the -- a political will to the members of Congress to know that there are a
lot of folks out there that want to see change. And we need to start with
these common sense things. Let`s just start with having every gun go
through a background check. Compare that to getting on a plane. Would you
get on the plane where half the people had not gone through metal
SHARPTON: No. Not at all.
SIMON: Of course not. So, let`s be the -- I encourage people to go to
demand a plan.org, sign on, and help us move the Congress in the direction
they need to move.
SHARPTON: I`m going to have to leave it there. Demand a plan.org.
Clarence Page, thank you. And Pam Simon, thank you for joining us. And
our hearts and prayers are with you and the others for their continued
SIMON: Thank you very much, Reverend Sharpton.
PAGE: Thank you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Coming up, President Obama`s big plans for his second
inauguration and his second term. He`s putting a very personal stamp on
his team. This is POLITICS NATION only on MSNBC.
SHARPTON: The preps for President Obama`s inauguration underway. And
today, big news on who is taking part in the ceremony. A civil rights
legacy lives on. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: In less than two weeks, chief justice John Roberts will swear in
President Obama for his second term in office. As many as 800,000 visitors
will be in Washington for the inauguration. And crews are hard at work for
the inaugural platform outside the capitol. It`s a big day and the
president set a big agenda to match it. He plans to tackle immigration,
gun control, climate change, and tax reform in his second term. And with
four years in office under his belt, this president knows what he wants and
he`s confident he`ll get it.
Joining me now is democratic strategist Margie Omero and Victoria
DeFrancesco Soto, a fellow at the University of Texas and an MSNBC
contributor. Thank you both for joining me tonight.
MARGIE OMERO, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Good evening, Reverend.
VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO SOTO, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Rev.
SHARPTON: Victoria, how does the president keep the momentum from his re-
election going into the second term?
SOTO: He keeps the momentum going by focusing on the big picture and in
particular the big global picture. So we know that in 2012 and 2008, he
got elected to foresee change. And in particular change from the Bush era
policies of U.S. involvement in the Middle East. So, we saw that that he`s
building his dream team. Bringing on Hagel and Kerry in trying to affect
that change, to make good on that promise that he put forward in 2008 to
scale down the U.S. involvement. The American public wants it, and he`s
going to deliver in the second term.
SHARPTON: Now, Margie, what is interesting about the two appointments that
Victoria just mentioned, Hagel and Brennan are both people the president
has worked with. That he seems to trust the allies. It`s not what we
heard in the first term of Lincoln`s model of term of rivals. These are
not rivals. These people close to the president. Change in strategy here?
OMERO: No, I don`t think so. I mean, I think the President has had people
who have different points of view from himself and from each other. I
mean, we saw that in the case with Secretary Gates and Vice President Biden
who recommended it against making the call on Osama bin Laden. But the
president made it anyway. So, I think this is consistent with his strategy
so far. I also think it`s important to look at how the president keeps the
momentum in terms of bringing everyone together.
His style in terms of bringing people together both in his administration
and across the aisle and voters. I mean, voters -- they selected Obama,
they voted for Obama in 2008. They believed in him and they believed in
change. And this last time around, they voted for him because they really
believe in his policies and the vision he had going forward.
SHARPTON: That`s the point, Victoria. And that they believe in what he`s
doing and believe in him going forward. Fifty seven percent say, he won
the fiscal cliff fight. In the last century only four presidents have won
two elections with more than 50 percent of the vote. President Obama,
Reagan, Eisenhower, and President Franklin Roosevelt. The question is, can
he use this momentum, can he use this support to get his agenda done?
That`s his challenge.
SOTO: Well, and the challenge is getting it done within the next two
years. Because come 2014, the midterm elections, we don`t know what`s
going to happen. We don`t know if there`s going to be another republican
surge, so the president has to get that list, that list of foreign policy
demands, the list of immigration, and the list of gun control done in the
next 18 months. Not even two years. And I think immigration is going to
be another one of the big issues. Gun control. But one caution that I
have with gun control is gun control is also very much controlled at the
state level. So while we may see an assault weapons ban, at the end of the
day, it`s the capitals like Austin or Phoenix, or Tallahassee that really
oversees what happens with guns.
SHARPTON: Now, Margie, when you look at second terms, it`s generally
pretty hard to get things done, but it can happen. I mean, Ronald Reagan
dealt with tax reform. Bill Clinton balanced the budget. George Bush
tried to privatize Social Security, wasn`t successful. Some of us are glad
about it. So it`s a tricky thing. You can get things done in the second
term, but it also is difficult.
OMERO: Yes. I think the president is in a good position. He has -- right
now he has 53 percent approval rating, his approval rating has been going
up since the election. You have Republicans continuing to have really low
ratings, the majority disapprove of how Boehner handled the fiscal cliff
negotiations incredibly low ratings for Congress. You have about three-
quarters of the electorate who say that politics right now is doing some
serious harm. While at the same time they give the president strong
So, they`re really taking aim at Congress. And I think all of that leads
to a situation where voters have really had it now with Congress. And they
want to see everyone come to the table. And that gives the president a
SHARPTON: You know, Victoria, let me ask you this quickly. That we`ve
seen after four years in office that this president, we see more and more
of him as a person. One moment that sticks out is his emotional speech to
his team after his win. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: What you guys have done, I`m really proud of that. I`m really
proud of all of you. And --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: We`re seeing the emotions that we didn`t see before as we go
into the second term, Victoria.
SOTO: You know, and as voters, we act with both our hearts and our minds.
And I think what Obama does is he puts forward that combination that you
can agree with his policies. You see the ideological vision. But behind
that ideological vision is a person, is someone who has empathy for those
of us who are not in leadership positions and that`s the winning
combination that we see.
SHARPTON: Victoria DeFrancesco Soto and Margie Omero, thank you so much
for your time tonight.
OMERO: Thank you.
SOTO: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Ahead, civil rights activist Medgar Evers was gunned down at the
age of 37. But today big news about a special honor from President Obama.
SHARPTON: Finally tonight, the march toward justice takes a big step
forward today. At the heart of Barack Obama`s presidency is a commitment
to civil rights. He often quotes Dr. Martin Luther King`s iconic phrase.
The arc of the Martin universe is long but it bends toward justice. News
today about civil rights activist Medgar Evers proves that point. Evers
emerged as a premiere fighter against segregation at the University of
Mississippi in the `50s and `60s. He was the NAACP`s first field secretary
for the state of Mississippi. A tireless fighter for equality and a father
to a daughter and a son.
In 1963, a water shed year for civil rights and the civil rights movement,
President Kennedy delivered his famous civil rights speech from the Oval
Office. But just hours later on June 12th, 1963, Medgar Evers was
assassinated in the driveway of his own home in Jackson, Mississippi, by a
white supremacist. Today, we learned that legacy continues to live on and
in a powerful way. Evers` widow Myrlie, a civil rights force in her own
right, will deliver the invocation at the swearing in ceremony for
The President said today in a statement, he is honored that she`ll
participate. She says she`s humbled at the honor. Just 16 hours after her
husband was murdered, Myrlie had the courage to tell a crowd of hundreds in
Jackson, Mississippi, that she was determined to make sure her husband`s
death would not be in vain. Fifty years later after a life devoted to
civil rights, she`ll deliver the invocation at the inauguration of our
country`s first African-American president.
Myrlie, you kept your word. Your husband did not shed his blood in vain.
Had it not been for him and the good man that it (INAUDIBLE) and others, we
would not be celebrating what we will celebrate at inauguration day. I`m
glad that Medgar and others will see that you kept the faith and the nation
has grown. This is what America is about. Making those that shed their
blood not having shed it in vain.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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