updated 1/23/2013 10:45:41 AM ET 2013-01-23T15:45:41

POLITICS NATION
January 22, 2013

Guests: Diane Derzis; Jackie Speier, Jamal Simmons Michelle Cottle, Kelly Wallace, Teresa Wiltz


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

Tonight`s lead. Taking the fight to the GOP. The president spent the
morning at his final inaugural event. A prayer service at the national
cathedral. Meantime, Republicans spent the morning complaining.
Complaining that his inaugural address was too tough, too strong, not
enough olive branches. Apparently their feelings were hurt.

Senator McCain says quote, "I would have liked to have seen some more
outreach."

Senator Thune says he wasn`t doing the kind of outreach he needs to
do.

Senator Collins says I had hoped his speech would be a little less
Partisan.

Senator Portman says he missed an opportunity to talk about where we
can find common ground.

Common ground, senator? Republicans spent four years not
compromising. And not wanting to be on any ground, common or not, with
this president. And now they accuse him of not compromising?

President Obama has learned the lessons of four years of power
politics and how to make Republicans ideologues sit up straight and listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Medicare and Medicaid
and Social Security, these thing do not zap our initiative, they strengthen
us. They do not make us a nation of takers. They free us to take the
risks that make this country great.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: You got that, tea partiers? The president went right after
the cynical Romney/Ryan Republican view of the world, makers versus takers,
calling out the extremists who refuse to listen to the American people.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We cannot mistake absolutism for principle or substitute
spectacle for politics or treat name calling as reasoned debate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: This was a big speech of real vision. And the president
made it clear he`s ready to fight at their own game because the people are
worth fighting for.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed
when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. We
are true to our creed when a little girl born into bleakest poverty knows
that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else because she is an
American. She is free. And she is equal, not just in the eyes of God, but
also in our own.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now, Steve Kornacki and Krystal Ball, co-hosts
of "the Cycle" right here on MSNBC. Thanks for joining me.

Thank you both for joining me.

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: Thank you for having us,
Revered.

SHARPTON: Krystal, the man once talked about ending the partisan
divide accepted that Republicans in Washington seem to respond better to
power politics, it seems.

BALL: Well, there are some things you cannot change. And I think
that`s one of the things that we learned is in the first four years
Republicans decided their only goal really was to obstruct and oppose him.
And if you don`t have a willing partner on the other side of a negotiating
table, it doesn`t matter how many olive branches you extend. It doesn`t
matter how far you reached your hand down, if there`s not a hand willing to
reach back, then it`s not going to be helpful. Nothing good is going to
come out of it. And I think he also realized the power of taking the case
to the American people.

SHARPTON: Right.

BALL: You know, this speech was boldly progressive. It outlined a
bold progressive vision for the country. But, when you think about the
individual elements that eluding to immigration reform, voting rights, LBGT
equality, all of these things individually are not only progressive,
they`re also extremely popular and quite mainstream now.

SHARPTON: And Steve, it`s what he was able to galvanize his vote
around last year. When you look at gender equality and the vote he got
with women. When you look at voter suppression and you talked about the
lines which were mostly in African-American communities. And when you look
at immigration. Those were the pieces of the coalition that really gave
him the election so he was saying in many ways he`s going to stand up for
the things, the very things he ran on and that led to his success.

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: Well, the things he ran on,
the things he won on, and I think when you look at sort of the victory
model, the formula that went into the 2012 victory for Obama, that`s the
future of the Democratic Party. That s also the future of America. If the
Republican Party wants to succeed again at the national level, they are
going to have to make inroads with the groups who are at the core of Obama
support in 2012. And here`s President Obama starting his second term
basically saying look, not only did I campaign on the images of these
groups but now it`s time for me to deliver for these groups. And there is
a challenge there if the Republican Party, long term, that they don`t meet
that challenge, begin to meet that challenge in some way, all of these
groups could be lost to them permanently.

SHARPTON: Now, last night on the show, I talked about how there was
good reviews, but I didn`t think it would last. And before I could get out
of the studio good, they started, the Republicans, taking shots.

Let me show you where respective Paul Ryan responded to the
president`s takers comment at the inaugural address. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No one is
suggesting that our earned entitlements, entitlements you pay for, you
know, like payroll taxes for Medicare and Social Security are putting you
in a taker category. When the president does kind of a switcheroo like
that, what he`s trying to do is we are maligning these programs. So it`s
kind of a convenient twist of terms to try and shadow box a straw man in
order to win by default.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Steve, interpret that for common people like me. Because
there`s a lot of double talk there that I didn`t hear him explain it that
way when he said it originally. And it doesn`t make much sense to me now
that he has said this.

KORNACKI: No. And the entire message of the last few years as for
the Obama air message of the Republican Party whether it`s makers versus
takers, whether it`s the 47 percent theme. They talked about the 47
percent who supposedly, you know, don`t pay taxes. They`re really talking
about federal income tax. They are not talking about state taxes, estate
taxes, local taxes, all these sorts of things. That the Republican Party
ran into this big problem in 2012 where that message alienated people. I
think people started to realize --

SHARPTON: Well, let me tell you why they alienated. Let me show you
what he said in 2005 about Social Security. Now he`s talking about how
people paid in and it`s earned. But he said -- let me quote it. It says -
- this is a quote. "Social Security right now is a collectivist system.
It`s a welfare transfer system." This is Paul Ryan.

So, if Ryan called it a welfare transfer system, now, all of a sudden,
no we weren`t calling them takers. And the president, Krystal, stepped
right in and attacked that. Now, in my opinion that wasn`t Partisan. It
was his vision of America. As Lyndon Johnson had a vision of the great
society. It wasn`t anti-Republican. It was his vision.

John Kennedy, the new frontier. I think the president from the way I
was taking it was saying I think b this is the vision America needs to go
in. But it wasn`t for just four years. In fact, he said we`re not talking
four months, four years, or 400 years.

BALL: That`s exactly right. And you played the clip in the intro of
the president talking about how the social safety net, it allows us to take
risks and not fear that failure and other countries don`t have that. I
spent a lot of time in India where there was such a fear of taking on new
initiatives of being entrepreneurial because there wasn`t that same safety
net in place. And that is the progressive vision.

And let`s be real. I mean, Paul Ryan, here`s a guy who supports
privatizing Social Security, voucherizing Medicare. So the president is
not putting up a straw man argument. These are exactly the principles that
Republicans support. And also, Republicans have never been comfortable
with Social Security and Medicare. They use deficits and debt reduction as
an excuse to chip away at it. But it really is not about deficits and
debt. It`s about their discomfort with the programs themselves.

SHARPTON: And it`s about dealing with the challenges right now. Let
me show you this, Steve. One of the most compelling parts of the speech as
I sat there listening and watching was when he said with all of the
arguments, we must act now because every generation is just it. Listen to
this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates
about the role of government for all time. But it does require us to act
in our time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Act in our time. And not just get in these long unending
debates. Martin Luther King used to call it the paralysis of analysis.

KORNACKI: Well, and we may will be coming to the end of one of this
debate is really define in the last two years. We are talking about with
the social safety net here with Medicare, with Social Security, with
Medicaid. And what was so striking to me about the speech yesterday was
that Obama -- the lack of an olive branch to Republicans that we`ve heard
from him before. When you talk about the summer of 2011, he was talking
openly about willing potentially to have a deal that included some
modifications to Medicare. There was supposedly talked of raising the
Medicare eligibility age would be on the table. There was this change CPI
thing with Social Security. Didn`t hear anything about that yesterday.
And it raises the question of has he now reached a point where no, I`m not
going to cut a deal like that anymore with Republicans. That`s the past.

SHARPTON: For whatever, Krystal, Steve, thank you for your time
tonight.

BALL: Thanks, reverend.

Be sure to catch Krystal and Steve on "the Cycle" weekdays at 3:00
p.m. eastern, right here on MSNBC.

Ahead, 40 years after Roe Versus Wade, abortion rights are under
assault in the states. That`s next.

They`re the best political duo going, Obama/Biden. What`s next for
them?

And everyone is talking about those winning first children. Much more
on them a little later.

And as we go to break, a special moment at an inaugural ball last
night. Alicia Keys on fire, tribute to the president.

(ALICIA KEYS PERFORMING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Have you joined the "Politics Nation" conversation on
facebook yet? We hope you will.

Yesterday`s glimpses of Malia and Sasha Obama got our facebook page
going with comments and well wishes.

Mary says they`re not the same little girls that they were four years
ago.

Michael says I`m sure we`re going to see great things from them in the
future.

They even inspired folks on the other side of the aisle.

Lisa says while Obama wasn`t my choice, I can`t argue how sweet these
girls are.

More on the first daughters coming up later. But first, 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.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: It`s a day to remember for women`s rights. Forty years ago
today, the Supreme Court`s landmark decision, Roe Versus Wade, established
a woman`s constitutional right to an abortion. And today growing support
for that right. Seventy percent say Roe Versus Wade should not be
overturned. It`s the highest percentage ever.

And for the first time a majority of Americans say abortion should be
legal in all or most cases. But guess what, those numbers may not even
matter. Anti-abortion activists are busy targeting women in the states.
There are now only 724 abortion clinics in the country. Five states have
only one clinic left. These attacks are creating a situation where
abortion is legal in America and in some places impossible to get. So
today is a day to mark the landmark decision of roe, but the fight
continues.

Joining me now is Congresswoman Jackie Spear, Democrat from
California. And Diane Derzis, the owner of the only Mississippi abortion
clinic which is fighting to keep its doors open after restrictive abortion
law passed.

Thank you both for joining me.

(CROSSTALK)

SHARPTON: Congresswoman Speier, let me start with you. It`s a big
day. It`s a big anniversary. Big strides have been made. But, let`s put
this graphic up again. Five states only have one abortion clinic left.
It`s a protected right. What`s going on in these states though?

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, there`s been a systemic
effort by the anti-choice community to go into the states and get laws
passed to restrict access to abortion. And last year and the year before
were the worst two years in terms of the more restrictions that were placed
on abortion opportunities for women. A hundred and thirty five laws were
passed in over 30 states restricting a woman`s right to choose.

SHARPTON: Now, Deborah -- Diane, I`m sorry. Diane, when we talk
about Mississippi, we see that a lot of states and governors are really
leading the charge. Let me show you how some of the governors around the
country are talking about women`s right to choose and abortion rights.
Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To be clear, my goal and the goal of many of those
joining me here today is to make abortion at any stage a thing of the past.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re going to continue to try to work to end
abortion in Mississippi.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I applaud the committee`s work in affirming our
respect for human life. Well done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So when you have governors saying this, Diane, including
your governor, the way they deal with it is by different restrictive
legislation and other ways to get around women`s rights. If you have a
right that you can`t exercise, it`s like not having the right at all.

DIANE DERZIS, OWNER, JACKSON`S WOMEN HEALTH ORGANIZATION: Absolutely
correct. The war is definitely on the state level now. We`re seeing women
in Mississippi being impacted. This law that we cannot comply with would
in effect close this clinic. So while Roe V. Wade is still the law of the
land, it is totally inaccessible in the state of Mississippi.

SHARPTON: Now, tell me your story. Tell me about the law. What happened
to you, Diane, so people around the country and I can really understand how
this works on the ground.

DERZIS: Each year they have introduced legislation which we have been
able to comply with. So we have a transfer agreement with a local
hospital. We have a backup physician who has admitting privileges.

Last year they passed a law that would require each physician who
worked in the clinic to have admitting privileges. That was not to --
every hospital turned us down. You know, we already have admitting
privileges. In fact, just see that hospitals are now going towards
hospitalists. This is something that only applies to abortion clinics.
The state knew that the hospitals wouldn`t give them. And of course when
they didn`t, we are now not in compliance with the law.

SHARPTON: So they set up situations, congresswoman, at a state level
that they know would be very difficult if not impossible for the clinics to
meet. So in effect they have null and voided the constitutional right of
women to choose at a state level.

SPEIER: That`s correct. And as you pointed out, Reverend Al, it is
at a time when Americans recognize that this campaign on the other side to
unravel the rights and obligations that exist under the law for women in
this country are being played with in a manner that is really very
dangerous.

You know, the first bill that was introduced in the last Congress was
hr-1. And that was a bill to take $300 million away from Planned
Parenthood. And that bill and many others were introduced over and over
again in the last Congress. I think the American people get it now, and
they don`t want this going on. This is a decision that should be made
between a woman and her doctor. It should be safe, effective, and rare.
But that`s where it should end.

SHARPTON: The polls say the American people has it. But how do you
fight it? They`ve got their ducks lined up this year. Nineteen states
have both Republican state legislatures with an anti-choice governor. How
do we fight all of this politically on the ground in different states,
Congress woman?

SPEIER: Well, it actually has to be fought by women and men who
recognize that there is a serious threat to their right to make this
decision on a private matter. I mean, this is just another example of some
of my colleagues wanting to get into our collective bedrooms where they
have no business whatsoever. It can`t be fought here in Washington right
now. But it certainly can be fought on the ground in states across this
country.

SHARPTON: Well, you`re one of those states, Diane, in Mississippi.
Certainly there`s a collective threat there. What`s your next step? What
is your strategy? How do you fight this and mobilize people around this in
Mississippi?

DERZIS: Well, we`re definitely in the courts, but I think as the
congresswoman pointed out, that is not where we need to be. The women and
men in these states need to be calling and demanding that their
representatives and their legislators leave this business alone. And get
back to taking care of the economic situation in this country, get out of
our bedrooms. She`s absolutely right. And the next election is absolutely
crucial. The fact that thank goodness we`ve re-elected President Obama.
But that doesn`t help us on a state level right now.

SHARPTON: Well, I`m going to have to leave it there, but the fight
continues.

Congresswoman Jackie Speier and Diane Derzis, thank you both for your
time.

Diane, good luck to you and your clinic.

DERZIS: Thank you, Reverend, for having me on.

SHARPTON: Thank you again.

Coming up, inside the Obama/Biden relationship. They are quite a
team.

And the right wingers and science don`t mix. We`re going to do the
"Politics Nation" science lab. You don`t want to miss this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Thank you, thank you. And welcome to the "Politics Nation"
science lab.

We`ve got a lot of experiments cooking tonight. But I don`t need
these beakers to give one very special lesson. It`s for all of my
Republican friends who struggle with science. And wow, it`s a growing
list. First there was this member of the house science committee.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL BROUN (R), GEORGIA: All that stuff I was taught about
evolution, and embryology and the big bang theory and all that is lies
straight from the pit of hell.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Evolution is alive. And then there was Todd Akin. Yes, he
missed biology 101.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TODD AKIN (R), MISSOURI: If it`s a legitimate rape, the female
body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Well, he got shut down. But that brings me to the issue of
climate change. President Obama is confronting the mad scientists head on.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We will respond to the threat of climate change knowing that
the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He went on to hit the climate deniers for ignoring the fact
that extreme weather is happening before our eyes. So guess what the right
wing talkers did this morning. Deny, deny, deny.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hardly think it settled scientific collective
thought that the world is a victim of climate change due to
industrialization.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You heard the speech. The direct quote was that
the science proves --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it doesn`t.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know, but I`m just saying that`s what he said.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: There`s no collective thought that climate change is due to
humans? Here`s an idea. Let`s find out what real scientists think about
it. A study by the U.N.`s intergovernmental panel on climate change found
a 90 percent probability that the humans are the main cause of global
warming. And more than 97 percent of climate researchers, yes, real
researchers, surveyed by the U.S. academy of science, thinks humans are
causing climate change.

Folks, unlike the "Politics Nation" science lab, this issue is real.
Climate change needs to be addressed. The results of today`s experiments
are in. Republicans and facts don`t mix.

This has been a special edition of the "Politics Nation" science lab.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Folks, unlike the POLITICS NATION Science Lab, this issue
is real. Climate change needs to be addressed. The results of today`s
experiments are in. Republicans and facts don`t mix. This has been a
special edition of the POLITICS NATION Science Lab.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: You and I as citizens have the
power to set this country`s course. You and I as citizens have the
obligation to shape the debates of our time not only with the votes we cast
but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and
enduring ideas.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: You and I, President Obama`s inaugural speech was a call to
action for all Americans. But as he`s been appealing to those outside of
the beltway, his vice president has been working the inside game. Playing
the role of the ultimate Washington politician has been a strategy and a
relationship that`s worked on winding down the war in Iraq, on dealing with
the fiscal cliff, on pushing for gun legislation. And it`s one the
president praised yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: To my vice president who has not only been an extraordinary
partner but an extraordinary friend.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That`s the mutual admiration and respect that`s been years
in the making. Whatever they`re doing is working for them and for the
country.

Joining me now is Jamal Simmons, democratic strategist and Michelle
Cottle, Washington correspondent for The Daily Beast. She wrote an
article, "Joe Biden the Listener" for The Daily Beast. Thank you both for
joining me tonight.

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Good to be here.

MICHELLE COTTLE, THE DAILY BEAST: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Michelle, let me go to you first. What about this
relationship works so well?

COTTLE: Well, you know, very early on it was kind of established so
that makes a great compliment for Obama in a lot of different ways, both
kinds in terms of experience but also persona. He`s kind of warmer and
more emotional than the president who`s seen as cool and cerebral. He has
a lot of inside the beltway experience especially when it comes to dealing
with Capitol Hill which Obama does not like to go up there and hand a lot.

And despite his kind of shoot from the -- let it all hang out their
persona, he plays a mean kind of inside game with careful negotiations, you
know, whether it`s the fiscal cliff or dealing with Iraq or any number of
diplomatic issues like dealing with the incoming Chinese president. He`s
called on to handle these assignments. And it`s worked out pretty well for
the Obama administration in a lot of different areas.

SHARPTON: Now, Jamal, a good manager knows how to deal with his
team. And you know the president`s team well. Well, he goes to different
people to do different things. What is the key to Joe Biden`s role and how
it plays to the overall Obama team and the Obama administration?

SIMMONS: That`s exactly right. I look at the president as the
quarterback of his team and he`s the hub and everybody else is the spokes
on this wheel. And so, Time Geithner still in Wall Street. Valerie
Jarrett is reaching out to other business CEOs. And Rob Nabors is also
dealing with Congress. But I think Vice President Biden plays a very key
role inside the administration.

One, he`s an old hand who understands how the town works. Two, like
Michelle was saying he`s gregarious, and you know, hugs people and grabs
them by the shoulders and looks them straight in the eye, all that sort of
stuff. But he also is the guy who the president has an extraordinary
amount of confidence in. He has gravitas. He could go in any room and
speak on behalf of the administration. And people know, he`s not as
blowing smoke. He`s actually carrying a message the president wants
delivered. That`s an invaluable resource for the White House.

SHARPTON: Now, Michelle, Vice President Biden spoke this week about
why he and the President work so well together. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VICE PRES. JOE BIDEN (D), UNITED STATES: We made a deal early on.
When either one of us are dissatisfied, we just flat tell the other person.
When he`s not like something I`ve done, he`s just flat tells me.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: He says, Joe you shouldn`t have done that?

BIDEN: No, he says Joe, look, you know, I don`t agree with the way
you did that. You know, why did you do "a," "b," "c" or "d." Or he will
say, I will say, hey, look, man, I don`t like the way this is going. This
is what we, you know, so there`s complete openness.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: What do you think, Michelle? The complete openness? The
candor? That comes when you have a lot of trust and can talk to each other
like that, I would imagine.

COTTLE: Well, look. One of the things you hear from Biden`s fans and
detractors alike is you never have to worry about him not telling you what
is on his mind. He is going to tell you what he thinks. And, you know, he
talked to David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett and people Obama-land, they
will tell you. You know, his strength is his weakness. People talk about
how he`ll say what`s on his mind but this comes in handy when you`re the
president and you need to know kind of the full story on things.

So, the deal they made was Biden would be the last guy in the room and
he would give his two cents on whether or not it got listened to or not or
acted on. He would have had his say. And the President would trust him to
kind of tell him the straight story.

SIMMONS: Rev, you know how this works that aren`t that many people,
we have president of the United States. Not that many people are giving
you bad news every day. So, I think if you got somebody around who`s got
the gravitas of Joe Biden and some of the other senior members of the team
who could sit down with the president, close the door and say, listen, I
think this isn`t going so well.

Here`s what we ought to be doing instead. I think you`ve got to value
that. My experience has been the politicians who value the ones who tell
the truth to your face are usually the ones who are more successful in
life.

SHARPTON: Now, Jamal, there`s a lot of talk about 2016 even now. And
Vice President Biden`s name is among much of the discussion. And we`re
seeing him courting groups that could be key in 2016. He spoke with the
Iowa state inaugural ball on Saturday. He attended the Latino inaugural
celebration on Sunday. He invited the New Hampshire governor to his
private swearing in.

He selected Justice Sonia Sotomayor to administer his oath. The first
Latino in history to be involved in an inauguration at that level. And we
had to look -- we couldn`t help it -- at how he kept breaking from the
parade last night and clapping a little harder for the Iowa floats. What
do you think?

SIMMONS: First of all, that was great to watch yesterday. It was
like a -- he was a parade all of his own out there. Float all of his own.
I think he`s thinking about it. And, you know, we`re Democrats. So we
don`t anoint anybody the next nominee, but I will tell you, the name on the
lips of most Democrats in the country is Hillary Clinton.

And Secretary Clinton is going to have probably the first fight or
refusal here to decide what she wants to do. And if Vice President Biden
decides to go, he`s going to go with a lot of wind in his face. But I
think if anybody can take -- it would be him, I`m just not sure that`s the
kind of fight the most Democrats want to have.

SHARPTON: Michelle, if Biden goes, and Hillary Clinton does not, does
the President seem obligated to support him? Or does the President stay
out of it and Biden just by the president and he`d being close by the
assumption is he`s the President`s voice.

COTTLE: Well, I think it depends on who else is going with him, it`s
going to become an every hand on deck next time if Hillary doesn`t run.
But you know, you can`t count Biden out as much as his moment may have
passed in the eyes of some. These guys wake up every morning hearing hail
to the chief until the moment they drop dead. So you just never know.

SHARPTON: Jamal Simmons and Michelle Cottle, we`ll leave it on that
one. Thank you for your time this evening.

SIMMONS: Thank you.

COTTLE: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, as the president was taking the oath of
office, some Republicans were sinking to a brand new low. And the amazing
first children have everyone talking today. Keep it right here on POLITICS
NATION.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: At the commander in chief ball last night, President Obama
brought out his special guest.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I said today at the lunch over at the Congress that some may
dispute the quality of our president, but nobody disputes the quality of
our first lady. Ladies and gentlemen, my better half and my dance partner,
Michelle Obama.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So what was their first song? Any guesses? We know the
president likes this one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I so in love with you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: We all remember the president singing Al Green`s classic,
"Let`s Stay Together" at a followed theater fund raiser last year. So
really, was there a better choice? Jennifer Hudson straight from their
hometown of Chicago did the honors.

(JENNIFER HUDSON PERFORMANCE)

SHARPTON: The first family and their amazing kids. That`s next.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Everyone is talking about the first children Malia and
Sasha Obama. Cameras caught them having a blast with their parents
watching the parade. It was a very real look into their world. And it was
fun to see. Right there in the reviewing stand, Sasha took pictures of her
parents kissing. Fourteen-year-old Malia making funny faces and clowning
around for some friends. And on Sunday, 11-year-old Sasha had the line of
the day after her father took the oath of office.

SASHA OBAMA, DAUGHTER OF BARACK OBAMA: Good job, dad.

OBAMA: I did it.

SASHA OBAMA: You didn`t mess up.

OBAMA: All right. Thank you, everybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Yes. Good job, dad. We`ve all watched the Obama children
grow before our eyes, but we rarely see them like we did yesterday. And no
matter what your politics, you have to be so very proud of our first
daughters.

Joining me now is Kelly Wallace, chief correspondent of iVillage.
Last summer, the First Lady gave Kelly a personal look inside her life in
an exclusive interview for iVillage. And Teresa Wiltz, deputy editor of
"Essence" magazine. The magazine recently published a special issue salute
to the First Lady, "Essence" magazine. Thank you both for being here.

KELLY WALLACE, IVILLAGE CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Great to be here.

TERESA WILTZ, ESSENCE MAGAZINE: Thanks for having me.

SHARPTON: Kelly, these children seem very grounded. You spent time
with the first lady. How does she do it?

WALLACE: Part of it is she treats them and tries to give them as
normal a life as possible. You know, they have to do their laundry, Rev.
They have to clean their bathrooms. They have to do chores around the
house. And then she makes time for sleepovers, for homecoming, for all the
effort going to the movies. All the average things kids do. She even
calls up friends and she says, are they OK? Are they the same? She wants
to make sure that this White House experience isn`t changing them in
anyway. And all her friends say, Michelle, they`re the same, they`re the
same great girls.

SHARPTON: Now, Teresa, when you look at this picture of the President
and his daughters watching the First Lady giving her speech at the
Democratic Convention, this is another one of those look behind the
curtains. You find the Obamas seem to have a genuinely close relationship
and it`s something that seems authentic that is not staged.

WILTZ: Definitely. I mean, there`s a warmth with them. I mean, I
think watching the girls yesterday, it was like, you know, our 21st century
Obama moment except that they were real. And, you know, they`re just
normal preteen, teenage girls. They remind me a lot of my own 12-year-old
niece. I talked to her about them and asked what she thought.

And she said, they`re really pretty, they seem very down to earth, and
they`re funny. So, I mean, I think they`re just kids that we can relate
to. And I think to see, you know, young black girls who are so poised and
obviously like each other and are comfortable with each other and there`s
this real warmth in the family. I think it was great to see.

SHARPTON: And like their parents. But Kelly, in your exclusive
interview with the First Lady last summer, you asked how the family
maintains a normal life for the girls. Let`s take a look at what she said.

WALLACE: OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, U.S. FIRST LADY: They have handled themselves -- we
are so proud of them. They are so poised and normal and decent and loving
and all that. But we`re they`re parents. So, I think we think that
anyway. So we`re always checking with people. I`ll check in with their
teacher. How are things going? How are they feeling? You know, anything
we need to know, any signs that you see. I just try to keep an open window
of communication with teachers so that if they see something that we might
miss at school.

So we definitely know that, you know, what happens at school is really
critical. But, you know, I think it`s working. I`m always knocking on
wood. You know, I won`t know until -- you know, until it`s over. Whether
this was good. But they seem like they`re OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I was caught by that line she said to you there. Check
with other people and see what they`re saying. Teachers and others. Very
interesting.

WALLACE: It is. Because like she said in that piece there. She
said, you know, mom and dad, we think we`re doing OK. And she keeps doing
it still. I mean, they`ve been in the White House now for four years.

SHARPTON: Right.

WALLACE: I think she wants to make sure -- and something else, Rev.
You know, the kids, we saw them with the phones. They have conversations
about things like, how everybody has a cell phone now. And someone could
capture a picture of Sasha or Malia.

SHARPTON: That`s right.

WALLACE: .acting out and it could define them forever. So, they have
conversation about how these growths are growing up in the age of social
media and how they really have to uphold this public image.

SHARPTON: So, they have these conversations warning them given the
technology of today there`s not a moment that they`re not under some kind
of scrutiny.

WALLACE: Not a moment, they have the conversation. And the girls
are aware of this. They are accurately aware that they have this public
image to uphold. And it`s pretty daunting if you`re a twin or teen. But
they`re aware of it.

SHARPTON: Teresa, let me go to you. The president recently talked
about how his daughters are getting older. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Now that my girls are getting older, they don`t want to spend
that much time with me anyway. So I`ll be probably calling around looking
for somebody to play cards with me or something. Because I`m getting kind
of lonely in this big house.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Teresa, I don`t know if he`s getting lonely or not, but it
is natural as young ladies get older, they tend to want to spend more time
doing other things than being under their parents.

WILTZ: Absolutely. And, you know, one thing is they`re so
fascinating to watch. I mean, I think we`d all like to be able to watch
them grow up and see what they`re up there doing as they become young
women. But part of being the first family is insuring that these kids have
some protection from the public eye. Like, you know, they`re not being
scrutinized every second.

SHARPTON: Kelly, the politics of this, though I`m sure this is not
planned from a political vantage point, but it`s got to be helpful to be
such a wholesome family the way it has appeared at least this first term to
the country, it has to be an asset.

WALLACE: Absolutely. I mean, we saw it Rev during the campaign. I
mean, any time you sort of see them as a family, when you hear the first
lady talking about how the president is with the girls and how he likes to
spend, you know, they have dinner together. It humanizes the President, it
humanizes the First Lady. But it`s real. You know, they`re not making it
up.

SHARPTON: Right.

WALLACE: Mrs. Obama says the next four years mom in chief is still
going to be her first order of business. This is very important to them.
But I do think it humanizes them. And, you know, most people even if you
don`t agree with them politically, you have to think they`re doing a good
job in the parenting department.

SHARPTON: Teresa, let me ask you quickly before we go, "Essence" did
this big journal on the First Lady. She is the symbol of being a mother,
of being a first lady, and of a black woman of high profile. Lot of
pressure on her, Teresa?

WILTZ: Oh, absolutely. I mean, she`s the first, she`s the First
Lady. She`s the first black first lady. And, you know, there`s a lot of
scrutiny. She`s being watched all the time. Everything that she does is
being picked apart and examined. But she handles it with an incredible
amount of grace. Our readers can`t get enough of her. And, you know --

SHARPTON: I think you`re right that she handles it and your readers
can`t get enough of her. I`m one of your readers. Kelly, Teresa, thank
you both for your time. Have a great night.

WILTZ: Thank you for having me.

SHARPTON: While we were all watching the president, some Republicans
were playing some very dirty tricks. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: While millions of Americans were honoring Martin Luther
King and celebrating President Obama`s inaugurations -- inauguration,
Republicans in Virginia were trying to pull a fast one. Yesterday, the
Virginia State Senate rammed through a bill to redraw district in favor of
Republicans. It was a shameless power grab made worse because the state
Senate is evenly split.

Republicans don`t normally have the votes. They only got the bill
passed because democratic state Senator Henry Marsh, a longtime civil
rights lawyer, was away attending the president`s inauguration. Now,
that`s insulting enough. But it gets worse. After the vote, the Virginia
Senate closed its session quote, in memory of General Stonewall Jackson.
Republicans honoring a confederate general who literally died defending on
Martin Luther King Day. This is what we`re dealing with. Republicans
still don`t get it. This morning, NPR interviewed a GOP official in Texas
who had this reaction to the inauguration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANN TEAGUE, TEXAS GOP PRECINCT CHAIRWOMAN: We never saw a birth
certificate. We never met any of the professors who went to school with
our president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The President`s been inaugurated twice, but Republicans are
still sticking to this garbage. That`s why the president was so tough in
his address. He knows he`ll need to fight past obstruction and ugliness
and dirty tricks. And that`s why, he said, we the people. We must
continue to fight. We had a great day yesterday. It was celebratory, but
the celebration must lead to our further determination to fight until the
battle for equality and fairness is won.

Not a good round or two. Not a great celebration. But a victory for
all of the American people. If you think I`m wrong, think about what they
did in Virginia. Think about Stonewall Jackson on Martin Luther King Day.

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

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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