PoliticsNation, Wednesday, January 30th, 2013
Read the transcript from the Wednesday show
January 30, 2013
Guests: Clarence Page; Lori Haas; Barbara Boxer; Barbara Mikulski, Bob Shrum, Cynthia Tucker, Susan Milligan, Jamal Simmons
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Thanks, Michael. And thanks to
you for tuning in.
Tonight`s lead, a moment of courage. Today, former representative
Gabby Giffords opened the first congressional hearing on gun violence since
the horrible shootings at Sandy Hook elementary. Ms. Gifford spoke with
the experience as a survivor of an assassin`s bullet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GABBY GIFFORDS (D), FORMER ARIZONA REPRESENTATIVE: Violence is a big
problem. Too many children are dying, too many children. We must do
something. The time is now. You must act. Be bold. Be courageous.
Americans are counting on you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Be bold. Be courageous. More than a month has passed
since twenty-first graders were gunned down at Sandy Hook. And the
violence is continuing daily.
This morning, while the hearing was under way, three people were shot
and wounded at an office complex in Arizona. State reports there has been
more than 1400 shootings, 1400 shooting deaths since the massacre at Sandy
Hook elementary school. That tally doesn`t include the heart wrenching
story of Hadiya Pendleton, the high school honor student and band member
from Chicago who performed at some of President Obama`s inaugural
festivities just last week, 15-years-old. She had her whole life in front
of her. But, yesterday, she was shot in the back while sitting in a park
near her school in the middle of the afternoon.
An innocent victim of the gun crisis in this country especially the
crisis in Chicago. This has to change. But the opponents of gun sanity
refuse to get it. At today`s hearing, the head of the NRA actually argued
we don`t need any new gun laws.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WAYNE LAPIERRE, CEO, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: Proposing more gun
laws while failing to enforce the thousands we already have? It`s not a
serious solution for reducing crime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Not a serious solution to reducing crime. We`ve heard
enough from the NRA. It`s time our elected leaders listen to Gabby
Giffords. It is time they follow some simple advice from her own statement
today. Be bold. Be courageous. We`ve heard enough and we`ve seen enough.
The time is now.
Joining me now is Lori Haas, whose daughter, Emily, survived being
shot in the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007 and Clarence Page, columnist for
the "Chicago tribune."
Lori, let me start with you. You were at the hearing today. Don`t
our elected leaders need to show the courage gabby showed today?
LORI HAAS, MOTHER OF VIRGINIA TECH SHOOTING VICTIM: Absolutely,
Reverend Sharpton. Thanks for having me on the show.
SHARPTON: Thank you for coming.
HAAS: We are hopeful and impressed with some of our leadership on the
hill. But frankly, we need leadership from all of our representatives.
And, you know, we demand courage from them. But, frankly, you know, it
shouldn`t take much courage to stand up to the NRA. It courage, you know,
facing down the barrel of a gun. And, you know, my daughter did that. And
there were 16 other injured students at Virginia tech who did that and who
stand with us in this area.
You know, in my opinion, the NRA should not even be at the table. You
know, I don`t see reports from them. I don`t see studies from them. I
don`t see activities from them. I don`t see policies from them that
contribute to the public safety debate. And I listen to law enforcement on
this issue. And they are clearly leading the charge to get background
checks on all gun buyers and policies that would save lives and keep our
neighborhood safe. Everyone deserves to live gun violence-free.
SHARPTON: Now, Clarence, you`ve been covering stories for a while.
The fact that Gabby Giffords came out herself showing that courage and
dramatically appealed to the Senate, here`s a former congresswoman that by
the Grace of god, survived with a point-blank attack, will that have impact
in your judgment with the Senate? And will that help sway public pressure
more to deal with some kind of gun sanity in this country?
CLARENCE PAGE, COLUMNIST, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Well, reverend, I`m
looking for signs of hope. And, yes, I do see some hope in the fact that
Gabby Giffords is still out there, still pushing this cause and that she`s
not alone. The horrific tragedies we have been through with Sandy Hook and
others have put a new momentum behind this movement and behind some kind of
action for gun reform. And that still seems to be alive. The fact that
Wayne Lapierre was at the table and had not budged in his position which is
much more of an adamant position he had back in the `90s when the NRA
supported the background checks. Now, they don`t like background checks
Now, I think considering the peculiar etiquette of Congress in capitol
hill, they see the handwriting on the wall. And now that`s going to be
background checks and other issues are going to be a bargaining chip, I
think, because we are going to see some kind of legislation moving along.
And I think NRA wants to try to push it back as hard as they can.
SHARPTON: No, I mean, it`s almost unthinkable that they would find
objection to background checks. Lori, you were at the hearing. And
Lapierre`s position even raised senator Durbin up. Let me play the
exchange because you were there. Let me play the exchange to get your
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAPIERRE: My problem with background checks is you`re never going to
get criminals to go through universal background checks.
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: Mr. Lapierre, that`s the point. The
criminals aren`t going to purchase the guns because there will be a
backseat ground check. We will stop them from the original purchase. You
missed that point completely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: I mean, does the NRA think we shouldn`t have a law just
because criminals would try to break the law? I mean, the fact is almost
everybody believes that we should do, including NRA members. Ninety two
percent, Lori, of Americans support background checks, 74 percent of the
NRA members support it. I mean, as you sat there listening to this today,
I mean, as one who has a daughter that survived, how did you feel?
HAAS: I found Mr. Lapierre`s, you know, arguments and reasoning
disingenuous and frankly, didn`t make any sense. You know, in my
situation, my daughter was shot twice in the back of the head, because of a
breakdown on the background checks system, chose mental health adjudication
records were not in the system.
We have to do a better job. We know. And law enforcement will tell
you, you know, background check is what they want. They want to stop the
criminals from getting the guns. In my home state of Virginia, we know
that background checks work. In gun shows, state police arrest numerous
individuals, you know, 60 summons in one year and 70 summons in another
year. They do work. And they can stop criminals and dangerous people from
I find it very, very telling that the commentary as always, you`re
targeting law-abiding citizens. No, we`re not law-abiding citizens. We`re
targeting criminals, dangerous individuals, felons, domestic abusers,
terrorists. We want to stop those individuals from getting a firearm and
harming our neighbors, our friends, our communities. You know, we need to
do a background check on all buyers, on all gun sales.
SHARPTON: And that seems pretty simple. But Clarence, every time I
think I heard it all, I hear something else. And Lindsey Graham gave me to
something else today.
During the hearing, Graham said that state budget cuts -- I`m trying
to say this as calmly as I can because this is that unbelievable. State
budget cuts were another reason to say no to gun laws. Listen to this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Because of the fiscal state
of affairs we have, there will be less police officers, not more over the
next decade. Response times are going to be less, not more. There can be
a situation where a mother runs out of bullets because of something we do
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: So let me get this right, Clarence. Republicans cut
budgets for police. And their solution is more guns to private citizens
taking the law into their own hands?
PAGE: Right. Well, again, id eve been covering this issue for so
long, that I actually find some hope in that grasping at straws there.
That`s what that sounds like. When you talk about gun control issues, the
longer you talk, the more these hypotheticals you hear like, but what about
a mother who runs out bullets, some blah, blah, blah.
Let`s face it. The public makes decisions for how much they want to
spend for police, how much they protect each other. We`re not talking
about taking people`s guns away. And thins debate, we`re not talking about
taking bullets away. So to go out on these extremes tells me that the side
that is trying to prevent any kind of new legislation is losing.
SHARPTON: Lori, I`m running out of time. But I have to ask you this.
You talked about your daughter very passionately here tonight. There
was a 15-year-old honor student in Chicago shot and killed, Hadiya
Pendleton, who was one of those that was in the festivities just last week
in the president`s inauguration. I want to play to you the statement her
mother and father made because you are among the few that could really
understand a mother`s pain. Thank God your daughter lived. Listen to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLEO COWLEY, HADIYA PENDLETON` MOTHER: I`m not worried about where
she`s going. I know who has her. I just miss her. My heart, there`s a
whole section in my heart that`s gone.
NATHANIEL PENDLETON, HADIYA PENDLETON`S FATHER: Get the guns out of
the hands of the people that don`t need to have them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: I mean, do you think you on the hill today, do you think
that our elected leaders understand? We`re talking about people`s
children. We`re talking about real life. These are not parts that we`re
just moving Arnold some chess board. This is for real. These are people`s
HAAS: I certainly hope that our elected leaders understand that and
will listen to, you know, mothers like the voice you just played and to
Gabby Giffords. I sat in the audience with survivors of gun violence.
Maya Rahaman (ph), his father was killed. Christian Jaime (ph), whose
mother was killed. (INAUDIBLE) whose father was killed.
You know, I talked on the phone with the mothers of Virginia tech
students who were killed. I`ve been to Newtown. I`ve been to Aurora.
I`ve been to Oak Creek. You know, these are children. These are
somebody`s child, somebody`s mother, somebody`s cousin, aunt, brother. You
know, these are happening to real people. They`re not just numbers. And
when you sit and talk to these survivors, two-a-one, they all want the same
thing. They want to prevent gun violence from visiting their pain, their
horror, their sorrow on another family. We can do a better job and we have
to protect Americans, children, teachers, you know, people in every walk of
life deserve to live in a gun violence-free neighborhood.
SHARPTON: And Clarence, Chicago has had over 500 shooting deaths last
year, 40 this year, and some of the strictest gun laws in the country. But
the rate of gun violence is still high. But the problem is, this is why we
need national legislation. "The New York Times" reports that in the last
year alone, Chicago police have traced illegal guns back to Illinois,
Indiana, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Mississippi, Georgia, Iowa, so it doesn`t
matter that the local laws are strict. These guns are coming in from other
places. Twenty percent, Clarence, come from a single gun shop in Illinois
outside the city limits, 20 percent.
PAGE: That`s right, Reverend. You know, Chicago does have tough gun
laws. But would will have a wall around the city, people can just go out
to the suburbs or go right to the next state. We do need national gun
laws. That`s part of the debate. We`re not even close to yet. I think is
the beginning, We talk just keeping guns out of the hands of the people
who shouldn`t have them. Even gun owners agree that background checks make
sense. I think it`s cases like this, Hadiya Pendleton, that is -- she
41st,just this month alone. That grabs people enough that we can perhaps
get some movement on this issue.
SHARPTON: Lori Haas and Clarence Page, thank you both for your time
HAAS: Thank you.
PAGE: Thank you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Coming up. They call him a king, a dictator, a socialist.
No, he`s just more popular than they are. New numbers tonight may surprise
Plus, Senator Mikulski and Boxer are here live on the fight for
women`s rights. It`s called paycheck fairness.
And who will take on Bill O`Reilly`s ID laws? Colin Powell will.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: If asking for an ID is trying to
restrict the vote, I mean, I`m sorry. You should be able to prove who you
before you cast a ballot.
RETIRED GEN. COLLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: No, you should
be able to prove who you are when you register to vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: I have more to say on Mr. O`Reilly. More show to come.
Keep it here.
SHARPTON: Have you joined the "Politics Nation" conversation on
facebook yet? We hope you will. Please head over to facebook and search
"Politics Nation" and like us to join the conversation that keeps going
long after the show ends.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My journey is not
complete until our wives, our mothers, our daughters can earn a living
equal to their efforts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Women`s rights, equal pay for equal work. It`s a key part
of the president`s agenda. And it`s also a personal issue for him. He
often talked about making sure his daughters have the same rights and the
same opportunities as any boy growing up in America.
But, right now, that`s not possible. Because if you`re a woman, you
make less than a man doing the exact same job. In fact, for every dollar a
man makes, a woman will earn only 77 cents. This holds true a nearly all
career fields. Whether you`re a CEO, a teacher, a police officer or a
janitor. It`s unfair. But Senate Democrats are working again to change
that law. They`re introducing the paycheck fairness act, a bill to help
women fight for equality.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: No woman in America today will
understand why. Anyone would filibuster such a bill, equal pay for equal
SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI (D), MARYLAND: We want to finish the job. We
want to finish the job that starting 50 years ago. Well, 50 years later,
we are still being redlined, sidelined, pink slipped because we fight for
equal pay for equal work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Equal pay for equal work. Women`s rights. Republicans
have been fighting against that. But it`s time for a change.
Joining me now are senator Barbara Mikulski from Maryland and senator
Barbara Boxer from California.
Thank you both for your time.
MIKULSKI: Hi, Al.
SHARPTON: Senator Mikulski, Republicans have blocked the paycheck
fairness act before. Can they be moved this time?
SHARPTON: Absolutely. We have the momentum of the American women
behind us. And guess what, we have, now, 20 women in the United States
Senate, 16 Democrats. We know we support it. We hope our Republican
colleagues do and there are good men like our president right here in the
Senate that will.
And we`re going to make our case that this is -- if we can pass
paycheck fairness which will deal with the two major issues.
Number one, when a woman asks either the guy next to her or her
personnel director what her pay is and the guy making it, she can be
harassed, she can be punished, she can even be fired. We want to stop
And second, there`s a loophole where they make up that because you`re
a woman, gender, that they can pay a guy more. But usually, we find those
are phony baloney reasons.
SHARPTON: Now, senator Boxer, this affects, literally, millions of
people. This is not a marginal issue at all. When you look at the fact
that -- look at families. Twelve million families with children rely
primarily on women`s earnings, 6.3 million families are headed by working
single mothers. I was raised by single mothers. So when they only get
three quarters, a little over three quarters of a dollar and they`re the
only earner, it is not only unfair and it impacts them, it impacts
BOXER: Without a doubt. And Reverend, if you take that difference,
77 cents for every dollar earned by a man and you program it out through
the career lifetime, it`s over 400$400,000. Imagine the difference it
would make to a family? And you know, I would argue really, this impacts
almost every family in America. Because today, whether it`s a single mom
raising or a dual household, the fact is, most women work today. Whether
they`re supporting their family on their own, supporting themselves,
sometimes they`re supporting a sick mom, a sister, the fact is married or
not, this impacts the family. It is so wrong.
And when we pass the Lily Ledbetter law, which, again, senator
Mikulski, our Dean, pushed forward, that was the first bill that President
Obama signed. And what it said was you cannot set an artificial timeline
from when a woman could sue when she finds out there`s been discrimination
because of the Lily Ledbetter law, she can then go to court and have her
day in court. But, still, it didn`t reach to this issue of equal pay for
The last thing is say, can you imagine if there was a law, Barbara,
where man senators earned more than women senators? That would be
ridiculous. We have the same job. We get paid the same thing. Well, this
is an example of what`s happening. We have examples all over the country
where women have the same exact resume as a husband. I have a specific
case, and she wound up getting $5,000 less from the get go.
SHARPTON: That`s an interesting senator Boxer. So if you would make
that argument to Republican senators, it would be interesting their
response. If they would have a situation where they would get paid more in
the Senate male to female, very interesting way you put that. It would be
hard pressed for them to be able to defend that.
MIKULSKI: But you know, your whole point on the family is exactly
what will be our main argument. That we want to change the law books so we
can change the family checkbook. Essentially, we`re going to pay women for
the work that they do and the work that they should be paid. When that
goes into the family checkbook, it will go right in to the economy which we
need right now. To buy shoes, to buy food, to do all the things that occur
in the real economy. So we think it`s great social policy, but we think
it`s an economic mandate.
SHARPTON: No. And senator Boxer, that is a fact because with $10,000
less a year, then they earned with men, women could buy, if they had that
money, 92 weeks of groceries or 13 months of rent or 39 months of family
health insurance premium. I mean, we`re talking food, housing, health
care. This isn`t just a little extra money. This is vital, especially for
BOXER: It is so critical. And it is, you know, what happens is we
have a consumer-driven economy. About 70 percent of our economy depends on
the consumer going out and spending. So when senator Mikulski describes
this, she`s exactly right. An when you take it to a further level, it`s
critical. It`s critical for the family. It`s critical for retirement.
It`s critical for the economy. So all of this means we`re going to have a
real strong push. And I think this year, maybe we`ll get it done.
MIKULSKI: We`re suited up. We`ve got our lipstick on and we`re ready
SHARPTON: All right now, while you`re suited up, let me bring this to
another little battle.
The Barbara bowl. You have a friendly bet on the super bowl between
your teams, San Francisco 49ers, senator Boxer and you have your jersey on,
and the Baltimore Ravens, senator Mikulski. The states are Napa valley
wine and cheese and or Maryland beer and crab cakes. Now, when we asked
our facebook fans about the outcome, and I`m sorry, senator Mikulski, but
67 percent say the 49ers have it in the bag.
MIKULSKI: That`s not fair, Al. They`ve got 38 million people that
can call into you. I`ve got 5.5 million. You do that call-in kind of
stuff, I`m at a disadvantage. But my advantage is not only I have Ray
Lewis, I have Ray Rice and I have the momentum behind this.
BOXER: Wait a minute. Time out here. Here`s the deal. You know
this is a real family feud. We`ve got the two coaches are brothers. And
here you have two sisters of the Senate.
SHARPTON: Two Barbara sisters.
BOXER: We`re two sisters over here. We agree on 95 percent of the
issues. Now we are torn as senator. I`ve got to tell you something. The
Ravens are wonderful, but they are going to fly away because we`re going to
win. That`s just the way it is.
MIKULSKI: The 49ers are going to come up like they did in the past.
They`re looking to pan for gold and they`re going to come up empty.
SHARPTON: Well, no matter who wins Sunday, I hope you win this battle
in the Senate.
Senator Boxer and senator Mikulski, thank you both for your time.
MIKULSKI: Forward together.
SHARPTON: And good luck to both of you on your teams this weekend.
But team back up and keep fighting in the Senate.
Thank you both.
BOXER: We will.
SHARPTON: Up next, the president surging ahead and some new polls
show it. It`s time for Republicans to get on board or get out of the way.
SHARPTON: Republicans keep saying he`s got it all wrong. Maybe
they`re just jealous the President is so much more popular than they are.
New numbers for President Obama and his agenda. That`s next.
SHARPTON: We`ve heard it for two weeks. President Obama is a king, a
dictator, a socialist. Or he`s just figured out what Americans really want
and that`s driving Republicans crazy.
Take a look at this. His latest favorability rating is at 60 percent.
That`s the highest number he`s had in four years. Must be all of those
liberals out there, right? Actually, not so much. Sixty eight percent of
moderates have a favorable view of him. Sixty percent of independents
agree. And even 34 percent of conservatives say they do.
So, President Obama has the American people behind him. What does
that mean for his big second term agenda? Let`s bring in Bob Shrum and
Cynthia Tucker. Thanks for being here tonight.
BOB SHRUM, COLUMNIST, "THE DAILY BEAST": Glad to be here.
CYNTHIA TUCKER, PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING COLUMNIST: Good to be here,
SHARPTON: Bob, I`m going to you first. He`s at 60 percent. What
will the Republicans come up with now?
SHRUM: Well, look, there`s a fundament political underway in this
country, I believe. And while Obama realigns, the Republicans are in
decline. And they really have three choices. One of which they`ve seen to
have already gotten rid of. They could just disenfranchise a bunch of the
voters by gerrymandering the Electoral College. Then most of the states
where that seem to be a real possibility is being pushed away.
Secondly, they can destabilize the economy. That`s what they tried to
do for years moving up toward the 2012 election. It didn`t work. But I
think they might try it again. Paul Ryan on Meet the Press last Sunday
sounded very interesting in letting the sequestration go into effect.
SHRUM: Which we saw today would have bad effects on the economy.
Third, in Lincoln`s phrase, they could disenthrall themselves. But when
you look at what happened to Marco Rubio in the last day after he joined in
this immigration reform, Senator David Vitter of Louisiana called him
amazingly naive. A lot of conservatives are very angry at him. I think
the Republican Party is trapped between what it has to do to succeed and
survive and its Tea Party elements which are going to demand purity.
SHARPTON: Now when you look at Cynthia, the fact that the American
people saying clearly by any number of post that they support the
President`s agenda, 53 percent support same-sex marriage, 62 percent
support a path to citizenship for immigrants. Eighty percent say, climate
change is a serious threat. Fifty eight percent want to see further gun
violence-free safety legislation. It seems like the Republicans are
painting themselves into a corner and if they go into this sequester fight,
it`s only going to get worse.
TUCKER: That`s absolutely right. They are painting themselves into
a corner. And let me just say that a lot of the reason that President
Obama`s favorability ratings have improved is not just that the American
people support his -- the policies that he supports, but it`s also true
that the President is exerting confident leadership.
TUCKER: And that is also what Americans want. They wanted to see a
President who was confident in his policies and would stand there and stand
his ground. And that`s what he`s doing. And Americans are more than
willing to follow. What are Republicans going to do in response? Well,
they`re in sheer and utter disarray. There`s a civil war going on in the
party. There are a handful of leading Republicans like Marco Rubio who
know that the old ways are not leading anywhere but toward defeat.
TUCKER: Unfortunately, many of them are still trapped in the old ways
and that`s partly because these are the believes that they have adhered to
for 30, 40, 50 years. If you`ve spent decades being hostile toward or
unfriendly toward people of color, it`s hard to turn around in a few weeks
and say oh, wait. We`ve changed our minds about that. FOX News, Eric
Erickson and others among the hard core saying wait a minute, not so fast.
SHARPTON: Well, but, Bob, let`s go where the rubber meets the road.
The President`s popularity is at 60 percent. He is re-elected. What can
he get done for the American people? What can he achieve using this
momentum? Because at the end of the day, he`s going to be fine. How does
he use this to service the people?
SHRUM: The Republicans have backed down on the fiscal cliff, they
backed down on the debt limit and I think they`re going to stay backed down
on that. The president is going to have to push very hard on
sequestration. I think the Republicans are bluffing. They don`t want it
to go into effect. But I think they will have the country with them.
I also think there`s a real chance to get immigration reform here.
Now, look, Marco Rubio, and it doesn`t help that Cynthia and I prison him.
It doesn`t help him in the Republican Party but Marco Rubio wants to run
for president in 2016. It will be very interesting to see whether he
stands his ground here or begins to back up, back up, back up. So, he can
cater to the Tea Party.
I also think there`s some encouraging signs on the whole issue of
guns. I mean, you have conservative senators negotiating with their
progressive counter parts for some kind of universal background check. I
think that might get through despite the fact that the NRA is going to,
actually, I think every time Wayne Lapierre opens his mouth, he helps the
cause of gun control.
SHARPTON: Cynthia, so the President, just as steadfast on his agenda
items and just holds the line given the popularity he has and does not in
any way, shape or form budge on key things like the guns, the gun
legislation as well as immigration, as well as voting rights. Then it puts
the Senate in a position to try and get some of the Republicans to move
over, that have other ambitions or that have faced states where they can`t
assume that there`s enough Tea Partiers to take them out?
TUCKER: Absolutely. I mean, I think that for the most part,
unfortunately, as a southerner, I say unfortunately, I think that the
southern Republicans and many of the western Republicans are going to
continue to hold their ground to be stubborn, to want a country that is
stuck in the 1950s or to go back to the 1950s.
TUCKER: But I think there will be many northeastern Republicans, many
Midwestern Republicans. And younger folk like Marco Rubio who do want --
who are ambitious, who want to win national office, perhaps, who see the
direction they have to go in.
TUCKER: And that is toward the sort of policies the president
(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)
Let me say, though, that I think the president is going to have to
stay out there.
TUCKER: He`s going to have to keep explaining why these things are
SHARPTON: All right. I`m going to have to leave it there. Bob Shrum
and Cynthia Tucker, thank you both for being here tonight.
SHRUM: Thank you, Reverend.
TUCKER: Good to be here.
SHARPTON: Coming up. For the first time ever, we`ll have two black
senators serving at the same time. How did it happen? That`s next.
And Colin Powell`s epic take down of Bill O`Reilly on voter ID. Don`t
miss that. It`s coming up.
SHARPTON: Up next, John Kerry says good-bye to the Senate. And the
match scrambled -- began. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: After 28 years, John Kerry bid good-bye to the United
States Senate today in an emotional look back on his career. He talked
about the importance of listening, not just to his fellow senators, but to
the people they represent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I came to the national mall, 1971
with fellow veterans who wanted only to talk to our leaders about the war.
President Nixon tried to kick us off the mall. But we knocked on door
after door of Capitol Hill and too often couldn`t get an audience and
representatives. A precious few, including Ted Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey
came to where we were camped out and heard what we have to say. I saw
firsthand that our political process works only when leaders are willing to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: He left the floor to a standing ovation capping off nearly
three decades of public service. And it set off a mad political scramble
to his Senate seat. Today, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick picked
Boston lawyer Mo Cowan as an interim replacement and a significant for the
first time in U.S. history, we`ll have two black U.S. senators serving at
the same time.
So who is Mr. Cowan? What does Senator Kerry`s exit mean? And is
Scott Brown gearing up for a comeback? This is going to be fun to watch.
Joining me now is Susan Milligan, contributing editor for U.S. News
and World Report, and also contributed to the "Last Lion: The Biography of
the Late Senator Ted Kennedy." And Jamal Simmons, democratic strategist.
Thank you both for coming on the show tonight.
JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Good to be with you. Thank
SUSAN MILLIGAN, U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT: Thank you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Susan, let me ask you something first. What did you make
of Senator Kerry`s farewell today?
MILLIGAN: I was pretty moved by it. I mean, I never thought that I
would see John Kerry, of all people, almost break down in tears to the
point where he had to drink a glass of water and it was genuine because he
really loves the institution of the Senate and I think he`s quite pained by
how the institution has changed and yet, still hopeful that he can be what
it used to be where members had genuine friendships and relationships
across the aisle. I mean, obviously he`s very excited about his new role
as secretary of state. But he loved the Senate. And I was very touched by
his speech, actually.
SHARPTON: Yes. I was a little surprised. I`ve gotten to know him
well, we worked after the 2004 election. And to see him emotional like
that is rare. But he also addressed the gridlock in the Senate Susan.
Look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We can`t ignore the fact that today, treaties that
only a few years ago would have passed 100 to nothing don`t pass at all.
People who want to vote for something that they believe in actually don`t
do so. For fear of retribution. If the Senate favors in action over
courage and gimmicks over common ground, the risk is not that we will fail
to move forward, it is that we will fall behind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Very, very true. And he uses his emotion also drive like a
warning and a message to his colleagues, Susan.
MILLIGAN: Yes, absolutely. I mean, look, Senator Kerry was there at
a time when we genuinely did have friendships across the island. They got
things done and it`s not just the roles, he pointed out something I think
very important where people think the rules need to be changed. The rules
have always been there. People didn`t abuse him before. The problem now
is not even just, you have people coming in with more extreme views
although that`s part of it.
It`s that they come in with an idea that they don`t have to give in.
They shouldn`t have to compromise. The thing that made Ted Kennedy such a
great senator is that he understood that as big and as important as he was
and was going to be around long after he was gone.
MILLIGAN: And Kerry has that attitude as well, it`s not so common
anymore, and the Senate I`m afraid.
SHARPTON: Well, you have had leaders I understand it`s more of above
them. Jamal, talking about leaders, we have the institution of the Senate
was going to be long around after he was gone. Kerry has that attitude as
well. It`s not so common anymore in the Senate, I`m afraid.
You have to have leaders that understand it`s more than about them.
Jamal, talking about leaders, we have a new one now in senator, the
appointee William Mo Cowan. Chosen by Governor Patrick. Most people
surprised. He`s former chief of staff to Governor Patrick. First time in
history now, we have two African-American senators who will serve at the
Senator Tim Scott, is in the Senate from South Carolina also
appointee. And Cowan now becomes the eight black senator in U.S. history.
In fact, it was a republican black that was appointed, that was elected
first since reconstruction in Massachusetts, Ed Brook. Tell us about
Cowan. You know him?
SIMMONS: I do. And he is a really good man. He`s a family man from
North Carolina, went to Duke, went to law school up in Massachusetts. And
he has served Governor Patrick. And I think it`s a real strong testament
to Governor Patrick that he chose to go with somebody. The political
establishment in Massachusetts. Well, they`re so excited about them. A
lot of people are just appointed that Barney Frank didn`t get the
SHARPTON: Yes, Barney Frank wanted it. He wanted it and he came out
publicly. And I think, it was a testament that the Governor Patrick that
he wouldn`t sort of get push in appointing someone because they wanted it.
He put the person that he wanted to be in that office. And I think it`s a
profound statement. I expect to see Mo Cowan be a champion for justice and
And really making sure that democratic progressive values of
Massachusetts citizens get representative there.
SHARPTON: Now, he will be there until June. He says he`s not
running. Tim Scott will probably run. But they would all that said that
Tim Scott, as a Tea Partier, an African-American was in a position to take
a lot of shots as the president. Does Cowan count a balance, Tim Scott now
SIMMONS: He does. And I think he gives African-Americans and all
Americans, truthfully. But African-Americans in particular who are looking
for people to have a voice for them in the Senate. Give them an
opportunity to have a couple of different choices. Let`s see if maybe they
can find a couple things to work on it together. It would be great. He
showed this in the previous segment.
It would be great if over the next six months, those two senators
would come up on something on voting that would keep people from having to
stand in line for hours and hours just to cast the vote. That would be one
thing, I think, they ought to be able to find some common ground on.
SHARPTON: Hopefully, Susan, let me ask about Scott Brown. You know
the state well. We are reading reports that he`s leaning strongly toward
running for Kerry`s seat. Even though many say if he waited to run for
governor in two years, it would be easier. It would be an easier race.
But he`s leading the run for Kerry`s seat, especially given the
competition. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SCOTT BROWN (R), MASSACHUSETTS: Victory and defeat is only
temporary depending on how you look at it. Absolutely.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: When you will be announcing for John Kerry`s seat,
BROWN: Well, I`ll tell you what, they`re making it awfully tempting,
you`ve got Ed Markey, does he still live here?
You`ve got to check the travel records, I`ve come back and forth every
weekend, almost for three years and I see, you know, most of the
delegation, I have never seen Ed on the airplane. Ever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: So, Susan, he`s taking shots at Mr. Markey who is the
likely democrat, he`ll face, that that mean he`s running for the Senate?
MILLIGAN: You know, I still don`t know, I mean, I know that Senator
Brown made comments about how Mr. Markey`s wife works down here. So that
Senator Brown`s wife. So, that`s going to be a tough one on the trail.
I`m also not sure if it`s a big plus if you`re going back to Massachusetts
all of the time. Because what`s so important is to develop relationships
down here, to get things done which certainly Markey is done. I think
Markey is a pretty formidable candidate.
And, in some ways, he`s a much stronger candidate than Elizabeth
Warren was. She`s a terrific mind and I`m sure she`d be a terrific
senator. But frankly, Massachusetts is not a very hospitable place for
female candidates. She is not had experience some politics, she was sort
of portrayed as a school -- elitist and she didn`t do much to counter that
and she still won.
MILLIGAN: So, I think that (INAUDIBLE) the problem for Brown is that
he runs and losses, I think he`s done in politics. And so, he`s got to
decide, if he run against Markey, and who we assume will get the nomination
MILLIGAN: And I don`t see how he gets -- how he can run for governor.
SHARPTON: Yes. I`m going to have to leave it there. Susan Milligan
and Jamal Simmons, thank you both for your time this evening.
SIMMONS: Thank you. Pleasure to be here.
MILLIGAN: Thank you, good to be on.
SHARPTON: Colin Powell versus Bill O`Reilly. Copow. That`s next.
SHARPTON: Colin Powell took Bill O`Reilly to school last night. Did
you catch it?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. COLIN POWELL (RET.), FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I think one of
the most terrible thing it happened in the past election season is that
when we had a number of states that are going out of their way claiming
there was an outright fraud. When there really wasn`t any fraud to be of
concern to us. But we were doing things to making it more difficult for
those people to vote.
BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I want to get very micro on this.
The voter ID. Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. The voter ID, you object to
showing an identification card when you vote?
POWELL: No. Of course not.
O`REILLY: Well, that`s all the Republican Party wants. That`s all
they want, just a voter ID.
POWELL: I object to putting in place additional levels of voter ID --
O`REILLY: One? Show one.
POWELL: Disenfranchise those of our fellow citizens. I want to see a
Republican Party that rather than trying to make it more difficult to vote
and restricting the number of days and hours you can vote, a Republican
Party that says we want everybody to vote and we`re going to give you a
reason to vote for us.
O`REILLY: All right. But I don`t know if asking for an ID is trying
to restrict the vote. I mean, I`m sorry. You should be able to prove who
you are before you cast the ballot.
POWELL: No, you should be able to prove who you are when you register
to vote. And when you make the proper registration, identify yourself, you
shouldn`t have to go some higher level which is --
O`REILLY: Surely you know how fraud is committed? I mean, Boston,
Chicago, you register and then you show up and it`s not you.
POWELL: I have not seen any study that says fraud is a problem of
such significance that these kinds of procedures were in place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Mr. O`Reilly and too many other Republicans still don`t get
it. At least eight GOP lead states right now even right now advancing
topper voter ID laws that could block thousands of voters than the poll.
It`s not about not presenting ID. It`s new ID. Let`s use the ID we
always had. Bill, shame on you. You know it`s not playing by the rules we
always played. It`s trying to suppress the vote. We`re glad the general
is on board. But let the army keep moving forward.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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