January 18, 2013
Guests: Joe Carr; Margie Omero; Dana Milbank; Hilda Solis
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Thanks, Michael. And thanks to
you for tuning in.
Tonight`s lead, I`ll second that. We`re just three days away from
history. President Obama will be sworn in for the second time on the steps
of the capital. And he looks pretty happy about it. Take a look at his
official second term portrait released today. That`s a man who won a
decisive election. Who`s proud of his accomplishment.
Yes, he`s older than the man who appeared in that 2009 picture. But
with his new gray hairs comes real progress. He inherited a country on the
verge of economic collapse. And he responded by signing a sweeping
stimulus. The action was just beginning while the country was reeling from
the abuses of Wall Street. He passed the far reaching financial reform in
And then a defining moment saving the auto industry. Despite
criticism, he decided to give auto makers a loan. A loan that would pay
huge dividends. This picture would go down in the annals of American
history. The president`s gutsy call to carry out the bin Laden mission
that changed the world forever.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tonight, I can report
to the American people and to the world that the United States has
conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The people of Libya are liberated from Muammar Gadhafi`s
dictatorship. We have signed a nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia.
He even say to ship crew from Somali pirates. Our commander in chief has
brought the last troops out of Iraq for filling a promise we long to hear.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: A, I can say that our troops in Iraq will definitely be home
for the holidays.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Home from Iraq. And given a deadline for a withdrawal from
Afghanistan. President Obama has greatly improved benefits for our
veterans in the military. And he made sure that if you`re willing to fight
for this country, you should be allowed to serve openly in our military.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We are not a nation that says don`t ask, don`t tell. We are a
nation that says out of many, we are one. We are a nation that welcomes
the service of every patriot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: We are a nation that believes all men are created equal.
And that fight for equality has defined his presidency. He expanded the
federal hate crimes law. He became the first president to publicly support
On women`s rights, the first bill he signed into law, was the Lily
Ledbetter fair pay act. He`s appointed two women to the Supreme Court
including the first Latino Supreme Court justice.
On issue after issue, this president has fought for the average
American. On education, reforming the student loan program, improving Pell
grants for higher education and cracking down on bad for profit colleges.
He fought for speedy compensation for victims of the gulf oil spill and for
the victims of this economy. Extending long term unemployment benefits,
bringing about tax cuts for small businesses and the middle class.
And on issue after issue, he`s had the American`s people`s interest at
heart. And we were reminded of that again today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: If there is a step that we can take that will save even one
child from what happened in Newtown, we should take that step.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: That was earlier this week. In signing those executive
actions on gun control, we were reminded that President Obama doesn`t shy
away from a fight, no matter how difficult it may with. And there`s no
wonder, after all, this is a man who`s accomplished health care reform a
century in the making.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We are a nation that does what is hard, what is necessary,
what is right. We have now just enshrined, as soon as I sign this bill,
the core principle that everybody should have some basic security when it
comes to their health care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Our president did all of that while facing a party whose
number one goal was to defeat him with billionaires spending mountains of
money against him with being called a food stamp president, vicious
attacks, tea party attacks with people questioning the country of his
birth. He didn`t complain. He didn`t bark. He simply got it done.
Today, we got a sign that the GOP might have finally learned his
lesson about President Obama`s first term. They dropped a debt ceiling
hostage. They can`t. They can`t did. They give in. Maybe they`ve seen
the same president that I do. Someone who`s fought for the American people
for four years and who won`t take no for an answer in his second term. I
don`t know about you, but I`m kind of looking forward to part two.
Joining me now, Melissa Harris-Perry, host of "the Melissa Harris-
Perry" show here on MSNBC and E.J. Dionne, a "Washington Post" columnist
and an MSNBC contributor.
Thanks for joining me tonight.
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR, MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY SHOW:
E.J. DIONNE, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Good to be with you,
SHARPTON: Melissa, that is a long list of accomplishments.
HARRIS-PERRY: It is.
SHARPTON: And you know, you - I may not agree with everything that he
has done, but he has done a lot. And I think that as we end the first
term, and Monday start a new one, we need the list because the critics
don`t get a credit on a lot of things that he has done for average
Americans, working class, middle class, poor, if you`re black, if you`re
Latino, women, gays, across the board., concrete things, not rhetoric,
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, concrete things. And concrete things that I
think as you were just saying, there are critics. Now, there`s a set of
critics who were just saying that, you know, as you pointed out with the
GOP, on the other side of the aisle who simply say , we just want to defeat
the president. And those aren`t really critiques to be taken seriously.
I think there are serious critics on the left. But, part of the
problem there is what you often is that it hasn`t done far enough or it`s
not sufficiently radical or revolutionary in a way that makes sort of
But we have always been a country that moves incrementally towards
change. And when you look at the long list that you have provided, you
realize how not incremental this is. Like how much enormous progress this
But, let me say one other thing. Because, of course, we are
celebrating the anniversary of the birth of Martin Luther King and,
therefore, really celebrating the work of Martin Luther King, Jr. at the
same time that we are re-inaugurating President Obama. And I just want to
remind folks that king stood, he wrote the text where do we go from here.
He wrote it after the passage of the `64 civil rights act. He wrote it
after the passage of the 1965 voting rights act. The two acts that we
think of as the signature pieces of legislation within the civil rights
agenda, at that moment, king, himself, only felt that he was half way, or
maybe a third of the way towards the goal. So, of course, there is more
work to be done.
SHARPTON: No. There is more work and I think that there`s no
question about that, E.J. But, I mean, when you look at the fact that
there was record numbers of turn outs of voters. The people got it because
a lot of people had been out cast. And a lot of people that never had any
concrete addressing of their needs sought. I mean, when you deal with
unemployment insurance and you deal with Pell grants and you deal with
this, these are small things to the elites both from the right and the
left. But it meant a lot to people which is why people made sure they
reelected him, E.J.
DIONNE: Well, I think, there are two things. One is, just as you
say, the turnout was extraordinary. And you had a real test in this
solution. Because yes, President Obama was well-funded, but you had
enormous sums on the other side trying to beat him.
SHARPTON: No doubt.
DIONNE: And what this election showed is that even democracy, no
matter how poor you are, no matter where you from your vote counts equally
with a wealthy guy down the street. And the one thing that can beat big
money is numbers. And those numbers were produced on Election Day because
people did it spontaneously because they were fighting voter suppression
and because of campaign organize well.
But, something else happened which is I think President Obama learned
some things as his term went on. And I think after the debt ceiling fiasco
of the summer of 2011, he learned that he wasn`t going to able to get
anything done unless he was actually willing to go out there and fight
against first principles against the other side.
And I was disheartened by what he did on guns in particular, not just
because I agree with to what he proposed, but because it was a real change
from before. In the past, he often tried to compromise in advance and
tried to calculate what might I get through congress. This time, and I
think it may be a model for the next four years, he said, look, this is
what I want. This is the full program. Now, let`s talk about it and see
what we can get passed. And I think that has a lot more potential to get
more stuff done.
SHARPTON: No doubt about it.
And see, I think, when you look that the president`s campaign
announced today that it is become a nonprofit. It can raise unlimited
money but donations will be disclosed, it will be run by a small inner
circle of campaign advisors. IT will promote that president`s policies and
give our allies a way to rally behind an agenda.
And when you look at that, you know Melissa, it is interesting to me
that some of my friends on the left that, as you say, wanting to see more
radical and say why are you all supporting President Obama, maybe that is
why we support him in the first place. I mean, you usually support people
that you always support people that you always supported if they`re
fulfilling the things they said they were going to do.
And when you look at the issues that they raised, that the president
has raised, that is what he said he was going to do. He never told us he
was going to do a lot of things that he`s being painted without doing. You
should listen before you vote for somebody or endorse somebody.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, look. Let me make one more point about that 501c
for the nonprofit. Because there are two potentially very fascinating
things about that. I mean, there is a lot, but two has really caught my
One is, we are talking about the president who is still quite young.
So, I know you started with this sort of, you know, smiling Obama with, you
know, with the grayer hair that always comes with the presidency. But the
fact is, that both he and first lady Obama are quite young, they`re going
down a very long second act after the end of the second term. And so,
they`re already beginning to think about how to take the political brand
that is Obama. Because yes, there`s strategy and yes, there`s politics in
office here. But there`s a brand here. And how to turn that brand which
is organizing for America but always has the Obama for American underneath
it, and turn it to something that is sustainable. There have been very few
political leaders in the Democratic Party who have worked over the course
of the past four decades to take something that is sustainable and grow it.
We`ve seen it on the right. But to see this happening on the left is
The second thing I will say is the fact that Michelle Obama, the first
lady, was the voice of presenting it? That makes me very excited. Because
it makes me wonder, if we`re going to see a more fully engaged first lady
in the politics, that is just all the other way in the politics aside.
SHARPTON: I think you`re right. And you know what makes me excited,
Melissa and E.J., when Melissa says a man that is getting gray in his 50s
is still very young. That really excites me.
Melissa Harris-Perry and E.J. Dionne, thanks for joining us. Have a
great weekend to both of you.
DIONNE: And you, too.
SHARPTON: And catch Melissa`s show, weekends at 10:00 eastern time,
10:00 a.m. here on MSNBC.
Coming up, Republicans new old call of states` rights. We`ll talk
with a lawmaker who`s pushing a bill that claims he would make it illegal
to enforce federal gun laws.
Plus, back to school, Americans are taking a class on how to talk to
women and minorities. Well, folks, professor Sharpton has a few tips for
them. You definitely want to stick around.
And the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King as you`ve never heard him, a
previously unreleased interview, the great civil rights leader talking
about his work, his fears and his sacrifices in the struggle.
You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.
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Today, many people were talking about the president`s brand new White
Joy says I love his smile, he looks so confident.
We decided to do a poll to see which portrait our fans preferred. His
first or his new one. And the portrait won in a landslide was the new
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We want to hear from you. Come to our facebook page and cast your
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SHARPTON: Republicans are resorting to an old argument to fight a new
battle trying states` rights as they attack President Obama on gun control.
Lawmakers in at least six states have an introduce bills to make it illegal
to enforce the president`s new gun proposals. `
This kind of argument is being echoed by some local sheriffs, the very
people which supposed to uphold the law.
Joining me now is Tennessee state representative Joe Carr who
introduced a bill making it illegal to enforce any potential ban on assault
weapons. He said, and I`m quoting, "it`s our attempt to push back on the
federal government`s ever-increasing encroachment. Not only on our
personal liberties, but on our state sovereignty."
Representative Carr, first of all, thank you for joining me tonight.
JOE CARR (R), TENNESSEE STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Reverend Sharpton, I`m
glad to be here.
SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you. Do you really think your state bill
will trump federal law?
CARR: Well, that`s part of the point, Reverend Sharpton. What we`re
trying to illustrate here is that the federal government has,
systematically, over the years, been on full assault of the second
amendment. And when you assault the second amend, Reverend Sharpton, you
just don`t assault the second amendment, you assault the entire bill of
rights. And that`s the broader point that we`re trying to draw here is
that for years, the bill of rights have been under attack from the federal
government for no other reason than power and control. And we just - we
object to that withdrawing a line in the sand.
SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you a question. Where in the second
amendment does it give you the right to do the things that the president
announced the other day were executive orders. Because the president said
-- I was there -- that he supports the second amendment. He was not
talking about guns. He`s talking about magazines that shoot a hundred
rounds. He was talking about assault weapons. The second amendment
doesn`t give you that right?
CARR: The right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed,
Reverend Sharpton. And you know that, if not better than I do.
SHARPTON: So you`re saying the right to bear any arms they choose?
CARR: What I`m saying is that the second amendment was crafted by our
founding fathers just like the other nine amendments. It was in response
to King George III and tyranny, that King George was trying to leverage
against the colonists, which is why they declared their independence and
why they wrote this constitution. Our founding document is the bill of
rights. And all of those bill of rights, all ten amendments are predicated
on the notion of the declaration of independence that we`re endowed by our
SHARPTON: Now, where in there does it say you can bear whatever arms
you want? Why can`t I have a hand grenade? Why can`t I have rockets? I
mean, if you`re going to say arms and anyone can define what that means,
then why can`t I have what I want? A nuclear weapon under my bed.
CARR: Well, I think you`re drawing an inaccurate conclusion to what
we`re saying. It would be the same as walking into a theater and yelling
fire. The freedom of speech doesn`t give you authority to do that.
SHARPTON: Why? Isn`t that tyranny?
CARR: No, it`s not tyranny.
SHARPTON: Oh, so you mean that all of these rights are not unlimited.
CARR: No, nobody said they are unlimited. You said that.
I know. I`m trying to give you an explanation. What we are trying to
say her is that the bill of rights were constructed for the purposes of
maintaining civil liberties that our founding fathers thought works were
strangely important. And as everything is predicated on the notion of
personal responsibility and the sovereignty of the states, which is why we
had the tenth amendment. So when any federal or government assault the
second amendment or the first amendment or the third amendment, it is an
assault on all of the amendments in the bill of rights. And what we`re
saying is, is that this government`s assault on the second amendment is
inappropriate and it`s overreaching. And we think it is time --
SHARPTON: But if you agree, state representative Carr, that you have
to have limitations, you regulate it, I guess the real question is who
regulates it, the federal government or the state government? And we`ve
had that argument over segregation. We even had it over slavery. Who
decides where the rights end. And you`re saying, basically, the states
should have that right.
CARR: Well, you make a very important point: and I would concede that
Martin Luther King even understood this because he enacted the idea`s civil
disobedient to right a terrible wrong in this country in the 1950s ad in
the 1960s. So I would ask you, Reverend Sharpton, do the states, then,
have the same responsibility, right and obligation to exercise some sort of
civil disobedience when the federal government usurps the authority of the
Congress and the states to divest them of their sovereignty?
SHARPTON: I`m glad you asked that question. Because what Martin
Luther King did was he engaged in civil disobedience so the federal
government would protect them from unjust state laws. You were not engage
in the civil disobedience. You`re saying in your bill, you should read it,
that you want to have the right to arrest the federal government for
enacting their own laws. Dr. King didn`t arrest the state people, he was
arrested by them appealing to defense. You`re doing the opposite. You are
saying the feds are illegal and we want the right to arrest them. That is
CARR: Well, Reverend Sharpton, you`re sounding a little bit like
Piers Morgan now screaming at me.
SHARPTON: Oh, well, let me say it more silently. You`re sounding un-
king-life. King did the reverse of what you did. And I can call a lot of
things, Piers Morgan is not one of them.
CARR: It`s a new day as you said in your previous segment. But, the
point I`m trying to make is, is Martin Luther King understood, clearly,
that the state and the federal government and the ever-increasing authority
in the roles of the individual lies and that was unnecessary.
CARR: -- in the constitution and in the bill of rights. And what we
are saying is, is that state have a sovereign role her. And the sovereign
role is this, is that the president of the United States doesn`t get it by
filing executive order to empower himself when determining what the second
amendment says. The states have a role.
SHARPTON: Martin Luther King said that he was protesting in his
famous speech of 50 years ago that concluded with I have a dream, that he
was protesting to governors whose lips were drifting with the words of
nullification. So, I`m glad you`re using King as if model because it is
the antithesis for what you`re saying. Let me show you what Governor
Wallace said. Let me show what Governor Wallace said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE WALLACE, FORMER ALABAMA GOVERNOR: Unwelcomed, unwanted and
forcing seclusion upon the campus of the University of Alabama to live and
offer a rightful example on the oppression of the rights, privileges and
sovereignty of this state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: So, the governor said the sovereignty of this state. Very
similar language to you, Mr. Carr, the same words.
CARR: And Reverend Sharpton, those were misapplications of what we`re
talking about. So, you`re drawing parallel and say don`t exist.
SHARPTON: How is it different?
CARR: If you`ll let me explain, I`ll tell you.
We completely objected the notion of what Governor Wallace has said at
that time. And I take great of he has said. As a father of a bi-racial
little boy, I reject the notion of what you are telling me.
SHARPTON: What I am telling you is that you`re using sovereignty of
CARR: All you have to do is read the bill of rights and you will see
in the tenth amendments, it talks about the sovereignty of the states,
Reverend Sharpton. More over, and more importantly, we all know that
Washington is broken, horrible by broken. And here we have a president
leveraging blue children on stage for no other reason to gin up fear among
those people in those states to say that we`re going to come and take the
second amendment or what.
SHARPTON: No. I think you said he was going to take your assault
weapons and your magazine. I think you said that the federal government
does have the authority over states and I think that the sovereignty of the
states is something that many of us fought and we continue to fight. We
can just agree to disagree.
Thank you for coming on, Tennessee state representative Joe Carr. And
thank you for your time, we`ll be right back.
SHARPTON: Today, House Republicans are wrapping up their big, soul-
searching party retreat Williamsburg, Virginia. And what an educational
experience it`s been for the GOP. On day one, they got advice on how to
re-make their brand from the CEO of domino`s pizza, Deep dish or thin and
crispy. Which way will they go? Only time will tell.
On day two, they got advice on winning from the man who lost to
President Obama, Paul Ryan.
And, today, a seminar titled "a discussion on successful communication
with minorities and women." And who did they recruit to teach those House
Republicans all about the world of minorities and women? Three white men.
I`m serious. Half of the panel on how to talk to women and minorities was
made up of white men. You can`t make this stuff up. These Republicans
still don`t know how to talk to women? Seriously? What is this, a seventh
Listen. It`s the GOP`s theme song. It`s raining men. Come on, guys.
Talking to women isn`t so hard. Don`t be such a wall flower, speaker
Boehner. Don`t be afraid. Just give it a shot. Go out and ask for a
dance. You can do it. You do it majority leader Cantor. Go ask or spin
along the gymnasium.
Listen, folks, tips on how to talk to women and minorities aren`t
going to do to Republicans any good if they don`t change their policies.
They can`t just talk the talk, they`re going to have to walk the walk. And
until Republicans change their policies, they`ll keep striking out.
Joining me now is Dana Milbank, political columnist for "the
Washington Post" and Margie Omero, a Democratic strategist.
Thanks to both of you for being here tonight.
DANA MILBANK, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Hi, Reverend.
MARGIE OMERO, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Thank you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Margie, do Republicans think they can learn to sweet talk
women and minorities to win their support?
OMERO: Well, they certainly have a lot of ground to make up. I mean,
they tried this strategy there, talk about rape a lot strategy and it was
clearly unsuccessful. They lost a lot of seeds. It cost them a lot with
women voters. Mitt Romney lost -- he had a wider gap, gender gap even with
white women, obviously, had huge losses with men-only voters. So, I think
they should really look and you know, really bring some women to the table.
I mean, there are a lot of really great, Republican women who can lead the
way, who can say look, we can be for lower taxes, we can be for less
spending, at the same time, not sound hostile to women and minority voters.
It is possible. And, I don`t know if they can figure it out in one day,
but it is possible. That is something they really need to work out.
SHARPTON: Dana, when you look at the exit polling from November`s
election, Republicans lost African-Americans by 87 points. Lost Hispanics
by 44 points. Lost single women by 36 points. If you were in
Williamsburg, what would you tell them? How would you turn this around?
MILBANK: Well, here`s what I wouldn`t have done, Reverend Al, is they
had this session on reaching out to minorities and they held it in a room
named for a slave plantation which the only thing better than that would be
if they have the breakout sessions after that and the George Wallace salon
and then, all retired to lunch in the Bull Connor ballroom.
The tone-depth aspect of this was extraordinary. But the whole
concept here seems to be, if they`ll just change the message a little bit.
They will be able to sell the policies to women to Latinos, to African-
Americans. But, it`s not a matter of dressing it up and putting pretty
colors and a bow on it. It`s the policy that`s gotten them into trouble,
particularly in regards to immigration and Latinos. It is very obviously
the policy and it is having this problem that Republicans out there talking
about rape babies that is - and other items like that that is killing them
with women voters. So, it is not a matter of dressing it up. It`s a
matter of what the policies are.
SHARPTON: Now, you see, Margie, even the conservative women are
speaking out against their party. The right-wing independent women`s forum
held a panel this week about the GOP women problem, talking points, memo
report. Most women on the panel express exasperation that despite the 53
percent of voters in the last election, the Republican Party was failing to
reach out to women. They seemed to be in agreement that the problem was
more than just a few bad lemons who had ruined things for everyone else.
That`s interesting. Women in the party as you said. You said, there were
good women in the party. Even some of the women are complaining and the
policies are the war in women, not just the makeup of the appearance. It`s
OMERO: Right, absolutely. Look, I work in this business and other
women I know that are in this business, whether you`re Democrat or
Republican or some place in the middle. You can tell when you`re in a room
of people who really don`t understand women. And it`s not simply about how
many women are at the table. It is not simply a check list.
And by having, you know, lukewarm, not very low receipt rollout of
their new language about women just a week after you had, yet, another
Republican talk about rape in this incredibly offensive way. Someone who
said a Republican house doctors caucus of all things. I mean, they really,
you know, this couldn`t have come a moment too soon. I mean, they are
really, really struggling. And I don`t think that one session is really
enough because their policies and they are very - the very caucus that they
have now is just so far to the right.
SHARPTON: Dana, the Republicans have now backed down on this debt
ceiling fight and talking about extending three months. They blinked.
What happened, Dana?
MILBANK: Well, I wouldn`t bring out the champagne just yet, Reverend.
It`s basically retreating so they can live the fight another day. There is
a whole lot of strength in this Republican house majority for digging in on
the debt and having a real fight. They are just picking their battle here.
I think we are going to get this apocalyptic showdown. We just may be able
to relax for a couple months.
SHARPTON: Why delay in three months? Why the delay?
MILBANK: Well, look. They can look at the polls and know that the
president has the advantage here. It was probably a dumb fight to pick in
the first place. There are all other kinds of opportunities there, the
debt limits, whether it is the government shutdown. There are all kinds of
opportunities for them to gum up the works and I think you can count on
SHARPTON: Margie, do you think in the three-month delay, they`re
going to try to turn and put public opinion their way or they are going to
try to figure out to fight and bill a momentum?
OMERO: This is another situation where you have Republican really not
reading a sense of the country not reading public opinion well at all.
Most Americans want to see president and Congress come to the table and
work together. You see the president`s numbers rebounding and have gone up
since before the election continue to go up. There are as strong as he has
ever been. And you had Republicans now having terrible numbers and they
are just getting worse. They are certainly not getting better with all
these fights. And you have Republicans a few days ago saying well,
shutting down the government is something we need to get out of our system,
as if it`s bad food poisoning and saying that, you know, we want to show
voters that we`re fighting as if that`s what voters are climbing for. You
know what we want? We want more fighting. That is just the opposite
lesson to learn from this election.
SHARPTON: Dana, as people are heading into Washington this weekend
for the election, we`re hearing that it may not -- I mean for the
inauguration, not the election. We are hearing, it may not be the numbers
we saw before, but there seems to be a building up of excitement again.
MILBANK: Well, you can see everything getting prepared. The
reviewing stanza and the bleachers. There are people coming to town, but
you cannot compare this to that magical feeling of four years ago. I think
there is a lot of disillusionment ad you know, four years of rough economy,
Americans are not as optimist k as they had been. But, look, we can still
throw a pretty good party in this town. So, come on down.
SHARPTON: Dana Milbank and Margie Omero, Thanks for your time this
OMERO: Thank you.
MILBANK: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Ahead, it`s been a long, strange four years. We`ll tell
you why all the hot air from the right might have sent President Obama up,
up and up.
And a previously unreleased interview with Martin Luther King Jr. is
revealed the same day the president passionately speaks about being sworn
in using his body. You hear them both ahead.
You`re watching "Politics Nation" only on MSNBC.
SHARPTON: President Obama speaks candidly on how Martin Luther King,
Jr. paved the way for his presidency. On the same day, previously
unreleased video of MLK is revealed. That amazing story is coming up.
SHARPTON: Four years ago, we witnessed history. This was the scene,
January 20th, 2009. President Obama became the 44th president of the
United States. As he was dancing at an inaugural ball, Republicans were
just across town at a fancy restaurant plotting on how to destroy his
presidency. Part of the scheme, according to Robert (INAUDIBLE), was to
attack the president on the air waves. The talkers got that message. It
started from day one and it`s been ugly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Barack Obama does not have his hand on the bible.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he really president?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I still don`t know what the man is going to do.
He is not going to succeed. Socialism has failed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Deep-seeded hatred for white people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Obama`s America, the white kids get beat up
with the black kids cheering, yes, right on, right on, right on.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- to this Muslim terrorists, come would say,
instead of actually taking them on head on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amnesty for illegal aliens via a Hitler-like
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is religiously an enigma.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Radical, left-wing Marxism, socialism, fascism,
whatever you want to call it!
DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN, CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: If you are president
of the United States, you have to be born in this country.
MIKE GALLAGHER, RADIO HOST: People ought to be allowed to ask why
President Obama won`t produce his birth certificate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is not a traditional America anymore. And
there are 50 percent of the voting public who want stuff. They want
things. And who is going to give them things? President Obama.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Barack Obama is a socialist. He believes in
socialism in redistributing wealth in confiscating hard-earned dollars.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Four years of that garbage plastering the air waves. And
what did they get for it? Four more years of President Barack Obama.
Joining me now, secretary of labor, Hilda Solis. No stranger to
right-wing attacks, even before she was on the job,
Thanks for coming on the show tonight, secretary.
HILDA SOLIS, U.S. SECRETARY OF LABOR: Thank you, Reverend. Good to
SHARPTON: Now, you`re stepping down and you`ve seen this right wing
machine up close. Are you going to miss this group?
SOLIS: You know what, I`m going to fight even harder back home and
where ever I am, I`m going to be there to support the president`s agenda
whether it`s immigration reform or economic development in our poor
communities, helping folks in (INAUDIBLE), coal miners that are suffering
and especially folks out there in the middle class that have been the
target of the tea party and the Republican right that doesn`t seem to
notice that people pay taxes. No matter what, everyone here should be
paying their fair share.
And you know, I don`t know why these folks want to defend the very
wealthy who haven`t paid their fair share and really been stunned by this
recession that we came out. We need fairness. We need a balance. And
that`s what this is about. I`m so happy the president got re-elected and
I`m happy that more voices are going to be heard now.
SHARPTON: Now, I must ask you this. In October, right before the
election, the right was - they really came out hard and said that you and
the White House was cooking the books on unemployment numbers.
Jack Welch tweeted, unbelievable job numbers. These Chicago guys
would do anything. Can`t debate some change numbers.
FOX News web site headline was, is it real? Right wing talk Laura
Ingraham said job numbers from labor secretary Hilda Solis, a total pro-
Obama propaganda. Labor forced participation rate at a 30-year low.
Secretary, let`s make some news tonight before you leave. Where is
your kitchen? Where do you cook the numbers?
SOLIS: You know what, I have no idea what those folks are talking
about. And I`ve said it before and I`ll say it again. Those accusations
are ludicrous. The people that work for the bureau of labor statistics are
very competent, very trusted credentials, scientific people. They`ve been
working on this for years. We haven`t changed any methodology. It remains
the same. It has been in practice for many, many decades. And I salute
those employees that work at the BLS because they are premier federal
And you know what, numbers don`t lie. The unemployment figures came
down from two years ago, from 10 percent all the way to 7.8 They said it
couldn`t be done and this president put back 5.8 million private sector
jobs across the board. This last report indicated that we see growth in
construction, manufacturing, tourism, transportation and even the retail
Now, number don`t lie. All I do, as a part of my job, is report what
the bureau of labor statistics gives me.
SHARPTON: Now, one of the things I`ve most noted about you, and that
is just like the president, no matter how vicious and bizarre the attack,
you never seem to let them get you down. You seemed to stay focus, never
too low, never too high in going to get the job. How do you maintain this
SOLIS: You know, I`ve been very fortunate that my parents raised me
in the matter that they did. They said don`t get ahead of yourself. And
when people try to throw you off, you pick yourself up, you dust yourself
off and you keep walking. And you always hold your head up high. Have
respected for people. And make sure that whatever you leave behind, that
you make sure that people have a good sense of what your work ethic has
been. And that is the American way.
So, I`m no different from millions and millions of other Americans who
have done the hard work. And I expect to continue that. And I know the
president will, too. And I`m going to be on the outside, maybe not here in
the bubble in Washington, but I`ll be back home in California doing the
work that I believe in. And that is fighting for justice, civil rights,
equal treatment under this constitution for everyone.
SHARPTON: Well, we hope we will be seeing a lot more of you, and I`m
sure we will.
Secretary of labor, Hilda Solis, thanks for your time. And this
evening, you and I commit, we are going to keep talking.
SHARPTON: Thank you for all the hard work you`ve done for this
country in this past four years.
SOLIS: God bless you, too, Reverend, and let`s keep moving forward.
Thank you so much.
SHARPTON: All right.
Coming up, Martin Luther King, Jr., President Obama and the cross
roads of history. A powerful story is next.
SHARPTON: Monday will be a day of history. President Obama will be
inaugurated on Martin Luther King Day, a day that comes 50 years after the
march on Washington. And 150 years after the emancipation proclamation.
The president talked about that legacy in a new video released by the White
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Two figures that I admire more than anybody in history are Dr.
King and President Lincoln. So, for me to have the opportunity to being
sworn in with the bibles of these two men that I admire so deeply, on the
150th anniversary of the emancipation of proclamation, 50th march on
Washington is, I think, fitting because their actions, the movements they
represent, are the only reason that it`s possible for me to be inaugurated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: As the president said, the actions of Lincoln and King made
this moment possible. And, today, we heard a new side of Dr. King. New
York public radio added a previously unreleased interview from 1961 with
Dr. King talking about his work and his fears. Here he is talking about
how his mother talked to him about racism at an early age.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN LUTHER KING, ACTIVIST: It seems to me that the only thing the
mother can do is to try from the beginning to instill in the child the
sense of somebody-ness. This is what my mother tried to do. She made it
very clear that in spite of these conditions, you are as good as anybody
else and you must not feel that you are not. And this was her way of
saying you should not have an inferiority complex.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: He continued for a cause he knew was right. That`s the
lesson of Lincoln, of Dr. King and President Obama. Dr. Reverend Wyatt Tee
Walker, who was executive director to Dr. King and later chair the National
Action Network Board for me.
He has always remind me of his favorite quote from Dr. King. He would
say you measure not a man by the way he is stands in time of convenience,
but where he stands in the times of controversy.
The president, now Dr. King and even Lincoln before. They stood in
the most controversial and perilous times. And that`s how we can measure
people that show leadership and stability and vision and commitment when
it`s the most difficult of times. Anyone can shine when everything is
going well. But it`s when it is the darkest that we can see those that
really bear the brightest lights.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "Hardball" starts right now.
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