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PoliticsNation, Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

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POLITICS NATION
February 6, 2013

Guests: Perry Bacon; Hogan Gidley; Nia-Malika Henderson; Carolyn Maloney, Joy Reid, Ryan Grim, Maria Teresa Kumar


REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Thanks, Chris. And thanks to you
for tuning in. I`m live in Washington, D.C.

Tonight`s lead, moving forward on gun safety. The president pressed
ahead again today. He pressed ahead on guns. He has led a full court
press to get the country energized about the gun crisis to move Congress to
make up and do something. And there`s growing evidence that he`s making
progress and things are beginning to change.

Toda today, his spokesman kept up pressure bluntly saying there should
be a vote to ban assault weapons.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president firmly
supports reinstatement of the assault weapons ban. He has long supported
that. As for the assault weapons ban in particular, I think he said it on
Sunday. And I know he believes that this needs to come to a vote. The
American people actually, by most, full support passage of the assault
weapons ban. The president certainly does and he believes it should come
to a vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Also, today, a bipartisan gun trafficking bill is gaining
more Republican support. Three Republicans join three Democrats getting
behind the already-bipartisan gun trafficking act. The gun makes it
illegal to buy a gun and transfer it to someone who can`t pass a background
check. Democrats and Republicans working together on gun safety. This is
progress.

Also today, more signs of fighting the NRA, the gun lobby, not the
other way around. A group of celebrity activists coming to Capitol Hill,
calling for Congress to act now. They`re part of the group and this is a
demand they continued to make as part of the plank.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNA DEAVERE SMITH, ACTRESS: Congress must now act on a sensible plan
to keep assault weapons out of our neighborhoods, out of our schools and
guns out of the hands of dangerous and compromised people.

AMANDA PEET, ACTRESS: Doing nothing has failed. To people who
questioned the potential effectiveness and or practicality and to people
who say we won`t catch everybody, I say doing nothing has failed.

TONY BENNETT, SINGER: I would like assault weapons eliminated.
Assault weapons, they were invented for war. They shouldn`t be on our
streets here.

CHRIS ROCK, COMEDIAN: I`m just here to support the president of the
United States. The president of the United States is, you know, our boss
who is also, you know. The president and the first lady are kind like the
mom and the dad of the country. And when your dad says something, you
listen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: We are seeing a real urgency for tougher gun control
legislation. The gun issue is at the top of the president`s agenda and
look at how far we`ve come. In 2012, 43 percent of Americans wanted
stricter gun control laws. That number went to 58 percent by the end of
last year. That`s a 15 percent spike. This is no longer an issue no one
is talking about. No longer an issue, politicians are afraid to talk
about. The president has figured out how to unlock a locked issue. Will
people around the country continue to join his call?

Joining me now is Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Democrat from New
York. She is a co-sponsor of the bipartisan gun trafficking bill, and Nia-
Malika Henderson, reporter for "the Washington Post."

Let me go to you first, congresswoman. Let me ask you, do you have a
feeling that there`s a different sense in this debate now?

REP. CAROLYN MALONEY (D), NEW YORK: Absolutely. There`s growing
momentum. We introduced our bill with two Republicans. It`s bipartisan.
I introduced it in the last Congress and no Republican will go on it. That
is a big change. Today, we picked up three more Republicans and we`re
going to pass this bill. It`s a common sense measure that everyone can get
behind. It will take guns out of the hands of criminals and stop the flow
of guns to criminals.

SHARPTON: Now, you had proposed this last year and couldn`t get any
Republicans. And now you`re adding Republicans?

MALONEY: There is a change. And very important, Reverend, there is
no effect whatsoever on law-abiding gun ownership or gun owners. So, it
doesn`t affect the second amendment. There`s no reason why every NRA
member isn`t supporting this bill. In fact, one of the Republicans
supporting it was an active NRA member and talked about how everyone should
be supporting this bill and stop gun trafficking. Most people find it
unbelievable that it`s not a felony already.

SHARPTON: But Nia-Malika, how can someone not say that their right to
not have allowed someone to pass a gun onto someone that can`t pass a
background check. I mean, it`s hard for any member of Congress to co-
sponsor that?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well,
I think over the last couple of years, you see a very powerful NRA. But,
Sandy Hook changed everything. I think you see some cleavages with the
Republicans being such a knee-jerk react - knee-jerk supporters of the NRA
as well as Democrat.

So, I think it is surprising that we`re still having this
conversation. It`s certainly a testament to the president getting out
there, taking it to the public. There is widespread support for many of
these issues, the assault weapons ban as well as closing the loopholes. I
think where the rubber meets the road, however, will be the assault weapons
ban. You see, I think, the movement in Congress around the individual and
initiatives like gun trafficking, like the background checks. But still, I
think the assault weapons ban is going to be --

SHARPTON: Congresswoman, are you hearing off the record, not
divulging any names, but off the record, are you hearing any conversations
among some of your Republican colleagues that are encouraging? All of that
is shifting from where it was?

MALONEY: Absolutely. I think Eric Cantor`s statements were very
encouraging that he consider background checks and there`s a new sense of
urgency. The American people have been very clear that they want to stop
the threat of gun violence across America for our children. And they want
to see something get done. They want to see us to come together, to
compromise and make their lives better. And the president is totally
behind this and he`s making a difference.

SHARPTON: Now, the polls, Nia-Malika say that clearly, the American
people are there. When you look at the fact that if you ask about
requiring criminal background checks, 91 percent ban assault weapons, 60
percent limit ammunition sales, 54 percent. Those are very high number, 91
percent on background checks.

HENDERSON: That`s right. And even with NRA members, you see the
majority of those folks also thinking that background checks are a place to
go in terms of eliminating the flow of guns to criminals.

But I do think the assault weapons, ban, even if that doesn`t
necessarily have a chance, if you look at the amount of killings that go on
every year, 11,000, 12,00 or so killed every year by guns, the majority of
those, the vast majority, 95 percent are killed by handguns, not assault
weapons, not rifles, only five percent.

So if they are able to pass some of these measures around gun
trafficking, that would do, I think, to a lot in terms of stemming the flow
of crime to some of these areas.

SHARPTON: Congresswoman, you don`t have the big lobbyist on the other
side. But this seems to be a showdown between the big guy and a common
American. Is that how it`s being felt and played out to the colleagues?

MALONEY: The American people are making themselves heard. They want
change. Sandy Hook elementary massacre was a wake-up call to all
Americans. We have to do something. We can`t continue as we are. We will
just have more murders.

Another thing that the bill does is that it makes the straw
purchasers, it gives them real penalties. Now they just get a slap on the
hand. We need to give law enforcement the tools to make our streets safer.
And they literally came and testified before Congress and asked for the
trafficking and guns to be made a felony and for stricter penalties for
straw purchasers, those who purchase the guns for criminals or for other
people who could not pass a background check.

And remember what happened in Webster, New York, on Christmas eve, ten
days after Sandy Hook massacre, he killed two firefighters and I doubt that
his neighbor would be buying a gun for him, a convicted felon, if she knew
she could be facing 20 years for doing such an action.

So, we need tougher enforcement and we need tougher laws on the books.
And these bills do that.

SHARPTON: You know, we have two sobering kind of reminders today,
Nia-Malika, what this is all about. First, the White House announced that
it will honor the people that died protecting the students at Sandy Hook
elementary school, the principal, the school psychologist, and four
teachers who were killed in the December 14th massacre. It will be among
the recipients of the 2012 president citizens` medal according to a White
House official. These are people that put themselves in harm`s way and was
killed protecting these young babies, these young students that were
killed.

And then you have celebrities, and you were there, congresswoman, that
went to the hill. I talked to Martin Luther King III today, and he and
Kerry Kennedy, who both of them dealt with the violence, the killing of
their father`s firsthand. And they joined other celebrities to speak out.
And it was powerful. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARTIN LUTHER KING III, ACTIVIST: We live in a nation that creates a
culture of violence. And that is what we`ve accepted. But when Americans
come together and stand up and say enough is enough and we`re not going to
take it anymore and we`re going to act in a civil way, then this
legislation perhaps is the first thing that needs to occur.

KERRY KENNEDY, ACTIVIST: I was four years old when my uncle,
president Kennedy, was killed by a man with a gun. And I was 8-years-old
when my father, too, was gunned down. We passed the gun control act of
1968 for my father, my uncle, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Surely, we
can passed a gun control act of 2013 --

SHARPTON: We passed the gun control act in `68 after the killing of
Dr. King and Robert Kennedy and Malcolm X. Certainly, we can do it now.
Quite a challenge from Kerry Kennedy.

HENDERSON: Indeed. I mean, the king and the Kennedys, these were
Americans. These were America`s first family. And to have them speak out,
I think, will resonate with many people.

Again, I think the folks who are on the gun control side of this
debate have really turned a corner. It used to be that the gun lobby had
all the energy and the passion. But in the wake of Sandy Hook, you`ve seen
a real seat change. And I think going forward, we are going to see some
bipartisan movement as we have already seen with a lot of these bills
coming out at Congress.

SHARPTON: Well, it`s encouraging and certainly, congresswoman Carolyn
Maloney, who we know is a real fighter in getting Republicans on your side
is progress.

Nia-Malika Henderson, thank both you for coming.

I know we`ve been dealing with a well-financed gun lobby, but when you
see babies being buried, sometimes your money can`t be spent against the
atrocities that people are facing. People just don`t want to hear it
anymore. I believe.

MALONEY: I agree.

SHARPTON: Thank you both for your time tonight.

On his birthday, Republicans are breaking Reagan`s 11th commandment,
thou shall not speak ill of fellow Republicans.

Plus, President Obama winning on issue after issue, even the right
wing propaganda machine is changing.

And FOX News back pedals from an ugly Hillary Clinton smear. We have
the tape.

Big show tonight, live from Washington. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Today, our fans were talking about the celebrities coming out to push
for new gun control. We asked folks to predict whether folks will pass an
assault weapons ban.

Esther says I believe if enough make their voices heard, something
positive will get done.

Rhea says I sure hope so. It just makes sense.

Laura is optimistic, too. Rock on, Chris Rock. No backing down to
the NRA bullies.

We want to hear what you think. 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: Republicans are divided on just about everything these days.
But there`s one thing they still all agree on. They think Ronald Reagan
was great, just great.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN, CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: Well, I really liked
to know Ronald Reagan a little bit. And I really liked him.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am in fact the
legitimate heir of the Reagan movement.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Mitt Romney understands, like Ronald
Reagan did.

JON HUNTSMAN (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ronald Reagan flew
this plane.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, there`s so much
manure around here, there`s got to be a pony someplace.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Today, would have been his 102nd birthday. But Republicans
aren`t rolling out the birthday cake. Instead, they`re spending the day
ignoring his famous 11th commandment, thou shall not speak ill of any
fellow Republican. That`s right, they`re at each other`s throats.

Karl Rove and the GOP elites are trying to take down the tea party.
And the other side is fighting back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KARL ROVE, AMERICAN CONSULTANT AND POLICY ADVISOR: Our object is not
to be for the establishment. It`s to be for the most conservative
candidate that can win. This is not tea party versus establishment.

MARK LEVIN, RADIO HOST, THE MARK LEVIN SHOW: Our biggest problem is
Barack Obama and we`re being stabbed in the back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Looks like Karl`s filled the void. I mean,
somebody`s got to be, to some extent, a gate keeper keeping morons from
running from office.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: So what the tea party people is
now they`ve got two political forces gunning for them, Obama and the
Democrats and the Republican establishment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: These folks may say they follow the first ten commandments,
but they`re having some trouble with number 11.

Joining me now is Perry Bacon, political editor for "the Grio" and
Hogan Gidley, Republican strategist.


HOGAN GIDLEY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Thank you both for coming on the show
tonight.
Good to see you.

PERRY BACON, POLITICAL EDITOR, THE GRIO: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Hogan, let me start with you. What happened to Reagan`s
11th commandment?

GIDLEY: Well, first of all, I love Republicans who quote that. And
it`s a good commandment to have. The problem is Reagan was up about 60
points when he made that comment. So, of course, he doesn`t want anyone
talking bad about him when he`s that high up in the polls.

Look. There is going to be some inviting after an election like this
last one. Obviously, Republicans took it on the chin, up and down the
ticket. Obviously, the White House did not go our way. So, right now,
we`re trying to jockey that position.

I think the issue, to me seems to be, we don`t need to have
Republicans be less conservative, we need to have Republicans be more
practical about where this country needs to go and how they get their
message across. And, right now, what you have is Karl Rove war with
factions with the teat part. You have people like Rush Limbaugh out there,
may put his two cents in his wealth.

And the fact of the matter is at the end of the day, you have to
govern something. You have to move the ball forward. You have to get
people on your side. And you can`t do that by throwing bombs. You can`t
do that be mean, nasty, yelling rhetoric.

A lot of candidates on a daily basis go out there and they pound the
podium and say they`re going to do this and going to do that. The problem
is, it is not even under the purview of the office, most of the time. And
the other part of it is it`s a dictatorship.

SHARPTON: Isn`t a lot of what they`re representing, because, to say
it civilly doesn`t mean it`s still in the interest of the American people.
So to have better manners but still bad policy, how is that going to work
out for you?

GIDLEY: Well, look, look at Obama with Obama care. I think the issue
was polling said it was vastly unpopular. But, he didn`t come back to the
table and say you know what, I`m going to pull back on that. He pressed
for it and got the people on his side.

I don`t think it`s an issue on the Republican side of wild ideas or
messed up policy. It`s the fact that we did a horrible job of explaining
why the economy and the states with the Republican governors are doing
better than the economy on the states with the Democrat governors. We
haven`t done a good job explaining our side.

But let me be very clear. There are some people on the extreme right
side who are not practical about moving government forward. They would
rather dig their heels in, make their statements, their rhetorical bomb-
throwing and not want to come to the table with the president or anybody
even within the party, who says look, we can`t get all that we want, but
let`s just get some. It`s like all or nothing with some people. I just
don`t think you can govern that way.

SHARPTON: But Perry, how do you explain better that we`re not going
to give any tax increases to the rich, but we`re going to let the middle
class and the poor pay more. We`re going to let unemployment insurance run
out on people that can`t find work. We are going to give every tax
loophole in the world, we`re going to leave it in place, but we are going
to start examining things that seniors need. I mean, how do you explain
that better?

BACON: I don`t think Hogan is correct about this. The core of it is
Republican lost two seats in the Senate, the Indiana and Missouri, because
their camp has talked about how, Reagan, you know, were trying to talk
about rape and abortion. That was a conservative view.

And you look right now, Marco Rubio is trying to tell the Republicans
either you move to the left in immigration, let`s take immigration deal on
that. And the Republican tea party is saying no, that is not possible,
it`s amnesty. You`re wrong, Marco Rubio.

I don`t think this is purely about tone. The Republican party has to
move to the left. Karl Rove thinks that, Marco Rubio thinks that. But,
the tea partiers don`t think that the national core problem, it is not
about smiling and nice about issues like you just said.

SHARPTON: When you look at, Hogan, the war on women, when you look at
the legislation they passed in certain states against women`s right to
choose, it wasn`t that women were objecting to the tone, they were
objecting to the policy. When you look at they`re closing planned
parenthood, let`s go to a judge. You are talking about tone. Let`s deal
with the fact that you have a man named Paul Brown who announced today his
bid for the Georgia Senate. This is a guy who calls evolution and the big
bang theory live straight from the pit of health. He questioned Obama
citizenship, he suggested the president abide by the soviet constitution
and he has called Snooki, Snooki more substantive than the president of the
United States.

I mean, he might say it with a better tone, but how do you take this
out there and act like this is something that the American public can even
entertain having to represent them in a Senate or any of the office.

GIDLEY: Well, it`s not. But those aren`t the tenants of the
Republican party. This is an out liar out there trying to throw bombs, as
I mentioned, and refusing to get down there and actually roll up his
sleeves and say how do we get the ball rolling forward and get a few things
accomplished that we want to have happened.

The other guest just mentioned, he is right. Marco Rubio, a great
example. Let`s move to the left on immigration. But Marco Rubio is also a
tea party member. He is a very conservative man, but he`s also very
practical. He understands you can`t take these hard lines. People talk
about Reagan all of the time. And you know, I`m prone to invoke Huckabee.
But he has had a conversation at one time and said listen, Sean, would you
be for amnesty? He said, no. Would you be for taxes? He said, no. He
said then Republican Ronald Reagan would never have been someone you would
have voted for because there`s this purity test that Republicans have now
for some reason. And there is this revisionist history of what Ronald
Reagan was and who he was. He came to the table and got things
accomplished. Not everything he wanted, he didn`t have to give up some of
his conservative believes and values. But he still came to table, worked
with Democrat. He gave a little to get a little. And that`s what is
missing in Washington, in my opinion, on both sides.

SHARPTON: I think that on the Republican side, we heard people say
they don`t even want to think about compromise. I remember Boehner did an
interview where he was afraid to even use the word compromise. So, Hogan
probably needs to advise some colleagues on the Republican party about the
word.

BACON: One thing to notice is, if you notice the Democratic Party,
most Democrats are moderates. They don`t think of themselves as liberal.
So, it`s easy to compromise if you are Barack Obama because your party is
full of moderates.

Most Republican voters think of themselves as conservatives. So,
immediately, you have in place where you can`t reach a deal if you are
Republican in the Congress. John Boehner can`t lead the Republican caucus
because so many was there don`t view any - you compromise the dirty word on
some level and that`s the big challenge that Hogan talked about.

SHARPTON: Hogan Gidley and Perry Bacon, thank you both for your time
tonight.

And we will keep watching the Republicans doing what they`re doing.

You want change? Wait until you see who`s now supporting a major part
of the president`s agenda.

But, first, FOX News smears Hillary Clinton and goes into damage
control. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: It`s no surprise Hillary Clinton has everyone wondering
about a possible 2016 run. And just days after becoming a private citizen,
this has everyone talking. It`s a new web site called
HillaryClintonoffice.com. Her 2008 campaign Web site actually redirects
people here. No question, it`s something to talk about. But this is what
they`re focusing on over at FOX this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Is this the face of presidential ambition? Days
after retiring as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, somebody has launched
a new web site for her showing off this glamorous new face. Facelift,
perhaps?

Well, that`s fuelling rumors about a run for president in 2016. But
her aides say it`s simply a way for fans, and media to reach her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Facelift? Really? Within one hour, host Steve Doocy went
into damage control mode tweeting a clarification. Quote, "Saw some lefty
blogs thought I said Hillary had a facelift, nope, I was saying that
Hillary website had a new pic, a facelift for the site."

A facelift for the site? Really?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Showing off this glamorous new face. Facelift,
perhaps?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That doesn`t sound like a facelift for the web site to me.
Especially when you`re showing a split screen of Hillary`s face from the
new site compared to a photo of her label two weeks ago. I think it`s time
to send out a new tweet. The only appearance they should be worrying about
at FOX is their own.

Did they think we wouldn`t say their sexist about face? Nice try,
nice try. But face this fact. We got you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Six days until the State of the Union and we are seeing
real progress. On immigration, a brand new poll shows, a career-high for
President Obama`s handling of immigration. Up 11 points since last July.
On guns, there`s progress. As I reported earlier, 91 percent now support
his proposal for universal background checks on health care.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder announced today he`s supporting the
President`s medicaid expansion. He joins five other GOP governors who have
agreed to adopt the provision. That list includes Arizona Governor Jan
Brewer. Remember her? Yes. That Jan Brewer is now on board.

Things are changing. So, is the right wing propaganda machine, it
seems to be changing, too.

Romney landslide victory prediction, political analyst Dick Morris is
out at FOX News. He follows Sarah Palin out the door at FOX News. This is
slow. Sometimes halting change. But it`s adding up to real, measurable
progress.

Joining me now is Joy Reid and Ryan Grim. Thanks for your time.

JOY REID, THE GRIO.COM MANAGING EDITOR: Great to be here.

SHARPTON: Joy, is it me or are you sensing a shift here?

REID: Well, you know what, Rev, I think what`s happening is, and I`ve
always had the experience, the Republican Party is really three parties.
Right? It`s the business party. It`s the evangelical party. And it`s
sort of the Joe the Plumber party. The kind of angry, you know, I hate to
say it, the guy for Archie Bunker sort of party. Put it that way.

And for the last four years, the Archie Bunker wing of the party has
been ascended because it was their kind of visceral reaction to Barack
Obama that drove things and the business wing was content to let them and
the evangelicals kind of run in front of them in order to pick up
Congressional seats.

Now, I think what you`re seeing is not so much progress ideologically
as you`re seeing the business wing of the party assert itself. They want
immigration reform because big agro and other big businesses want those
immigration laws fixed. And they want sort of these educational reforms
that are more market oriented. So the things that you`re starting to see
the Republican Party move on really are friendly things the business wing
wants.

SHARPTON: But when you look at the fact, Ryan, that is in just the
public conversation, that this split in the Republican Party, Joy breaks
them to three parts of the party. But clearly, there are split between the
far right. And those that are considered more establishment. They say
things that offend a lot of people that they need if they`re ever going to
be competitive.

Let me give you an example. San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, he`s a
democrat but he was questioned yesterday at a hearing on immigration.
Listen to this exchange.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. BOB GOODLATTE (R), VIRGINIA: Are there options that we should
consider between the extremes of mass deportation and a pathway to
citizenship for those not lawfully present in the United States.

MAYOR JULIAN CASTRO (D), SAN ANTONIO: Well, let me say that I do
believe that a pathway to citizenship should be the option that the
Congress selects. I don`t see that as an extreme option.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The GOP still sees a path way to citizen ship as an extreme
option? I mean, even though a majority of Americans support it. But at
least they seem open to different ideas, is this a sign of progress on the
right? Am I just looking into it and being to hopeful in my view?

RYAN GRIM, THE HUFFINGTON POST: I guess it depends on where you start
from the progress. If it`s from 2010, then, yes, absolutely, that`s
progress. But from ten years ago, 20 years ago, no, it`s not quite
progress. Because that`s not a compromise. They don`t seem to understand,
or else they`re being cute about it, what we mean here by comprehensive
immigration reform.

The chip that Democrats will put on table say, we want legalization
for these 12 million people and in exchange for that, you get some of these
other things you want. These enforcement provisions, the race-based future
flow system, whatever else you want and whatever else the business
community wants, they want cheaper engineers to be able to get in from
India and from South Asia is to keep, you know, to keep costs down here in
the United States.

You can have that. We want this. That`s how the compromise, it`s
not, there are two extremes here, will either deport everybody or legalized
people, that doesn`t make any sense.

SHARPTON: Now, Joy, the President met with Senate Democrats today to
talk policy. And one reports says that President Obama spoke briefly, took
questions from ten of the senators assembled, and then spent an hour
chatting with them in smaller groups.

Obama`s Spokesman Jay Carney said, the session was focused on
coordinating with democratic senators or dealing with the administration`s
own efforts to support President Obama`s priorities. How critical, Joy, is
party unity to the president`s second term agenda?

REID: Well, I mean, absolutely critical. Because Harry Reid decided
not to do full-on filibuster reform. The President still has to get all of
his policies through the Senate and through potential filibuster they need
60 votes. So, you`ve got to hold the entire democratic coalition together.
And on the house side, obviously, the same thing applies.

Now that John Boehner has broken the house rule, but he`s willing to
move bills through with Democrats as well as Republicans, he still have to
hold together enough Democrats, so you don`t see them walk away from some
of these ideas. But look, the main thing that the President has going for
him is not so much the party unity, sort of a unanimity across the country.

There are broad sort of issues upon which most Americans agree. All
of the extreme right of the Republican Party who again are almost sort of
left out in the cold within the Republican Party because the establishment
is pushing them back. They no longer have an interest in them because
there is no election imminent. They want them to sit down and be quite
because they`re embarrassing them frankly.

SHARPTON: Five days before the State of the Union address and the
President seems to have done well pushing forward on his agenda. Got
passed the fiscal cliff. Immigration front and center. Gun control
legislation out and even some bipartisan group members of Congress coming
together on that.

It looks as though he`s been able to, in some ways, get them to soften
on some of their hard positions in terms of the economic questions that,
around New Year`s, we thought we`d never get beyond. Progress or they`re
just so weak the President is just moving ahead.

GRIM: Well, it`s progress. And it`s surprising to people who thought
that the political system was completely broken. That this election
actually did have consequences, some consequences. You know, it is clear
that people made arguments, you know, politicians made arguments before the
American public. They went, they voted. And as a director result of that,
you see movement in the political process.

And you know, to people who were becoming overly cynical about the
amount of money that was in politics and how broken Washington, clearly,
it`s distressed.

SHARPTON: Right.

GRIM: No doubt about that. But it`s not entirely bankrupt. It is
still somewhat able to respond to the will of the people.

SHARPTON: Joy, the fact is that elections do have consequences. And
the fact that the Republicans were roundly defeated by the presidential
level. And did not do that well in the House, in fact, lost some seats.
Do you think that some of this moving back to the center and talking about
funding more moderate Republicans is a result of the fact that they
understand that if 2012 didn`t work out for them, 2014 could be even more
devastating for at least some members of the House?

REID: You know, absolutely, Rev. I mean, look, what`s broken right
now in the system really in a lot of ways is the right wing of the
Republican Party. They were the ascended part of the party from 2010 on.
That Tea Party wing. They`re the one who lost the most House seats as well
as any Tea Party who was in a swing district. Think about Joe Walsh, think
about Allen West.

And so now that you have sort of the business wing or the Republican
Party reasserting itself, it`s always been the wing of the Republican Party
that could do business with Democrats. It did business with Bill Clinton.
He`s willing to do this. I mean, think about this, getting Republicans to
vote for a tax increase, just think about how huge that was, what a huge,
bitter pill that was to swallow for the Republican Party.

The Right at the moment, they`re defeated, they`re angry, they are
disoriented, they are losing power quickly because the country just isn`t
with them. And I think that Karl Rove wing is taking advantage and trying
to take the party back.

SHARPTON: Well, Joy Reid, Ryan Grim, I`m going to have to leave it
there. Thanks for your time this evening.

REID: Thank you.

GRIM: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, meet the GOP`s answer to President Obama. They
think Marco Rubio is their guy for the State of the Union.

And the new clip Christie smack down, he`s going toe to toe with the
big name doctor who talked about his weight. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Last night, we told you about Governor Christie having some
fun with his weight on "Letterman." He pulled out a donut and he made a
few self depreciating cracks about diet. But then a former White House
doctor went on TV and she had this to say to Governor Christie.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONNIE MARIANO, WHITE HOUSE DOCTOR: I`m a republican. So, I like
Chris Christie, a lot. I want him to run. I just want him to lose weight.
I`m a physician more than a democrat or republican. And I worry about this
man dying in office.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Today, it was no laughing matter for the governor. Her
responded, quote, "She`s just another hack looking for her five minutes."
And went onto say, "She should shut up."

He even personally called the doctor today to complain about her
armchair diagnosis. But the doctor shot back with in a statement. Quote,
"It`s unfortunate to hear that the Governor Christie`s reaction. It
doesn`t take a physician to look at him and observe he`s overweight."
Governor, the ball is in your court.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Republicans announce today that Florida Senator Marco Rubio
will give the GOP response to President Obama`s State of the Union on
Tuesday. Rubio is a rising star. Karl Rove calls him the greatest
communicator since Ronald Reagan. Here`s what he was communicating at an
event yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I think the two parts of the -- are
more insightful, in my opinion, with all apologies to the Biggie fans.
There`s actually two parts on that mentions Bob Dole.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I didn`t know that.

MARCO: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

The thing about Armando, his real name, pit-bull is that his music, I
can tell his real name, right?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Marco Rubio. Rock in the might. Mr. Hip hop. Who knew?
But what does Rubio know about some other big topics? Like the Supreme
Court`s ruling on gay marriage. Will it affect the immigration debate?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARCO: I really don`t know. I don`t know. And I just don`t know the
answer to that. These haven`t really gone in-depth to the legal arguments
that are being made.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He doesn`t know. Well, what about discrimination against
gays? Should there be a law to stop it?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (INAUDIBLE).

MARCO: Yes. I mean, I don`t have it in front of me. So, I`d have to
look at it and tell you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: OK. Can we get your take on climate change?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARCO: The climate is always changing. That`s not the fundamental
question. The fundamental question is whether manmade activity is what`s
contributing most to it. And I understand people are saying, there`s a
significant scientific census on that issue. But I`ve actually seen
reasonable debate on that principle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Another non-answer answer. Senator Rubio may know how to
bust a rhyme, but is he ready to bust out as the guy answering President
Obama on the biggest political night of the year?

Joining me now is Maria Teresa Kumar. Maria, you`ve watched Senator
Rubio for a long time. This will be a big moment for him. What do you
think?

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, VOTO LATINO: Well, he`s absolutely right. He`s
basically introduced once again to the American people and one of the
things he has to be cautious of is not to be going down Bobby Jindal`s
path. Bobby Jindal was the one that basically a few years ago respond to
President Obama. He was the shining star, the one that the rising star of
the Republican Party. And all of a sudden, he has the possibility of
becoming president in the 2012 election all of the sudden diminished.

SHARPTON: Yes.

KUMAR: He came out of the gate too soon. And that could be Rubio`s
promise that he may be going out of the gate a little too soon for himself.

SHARPTON: Do you think from what you`ve known and seen of him,
because those non-answers on some very serious questions disturbing to put
it best. But do you think that he`s ready for, as we would say, prime time
or not?

KUMAR: Well, I think these were serious questions, that there were
also questions that people debate on the kitchen table every day, so they
weren`t asking for -- there weren`t hard questions to ask here. And I
think what he`s trying to do is that he doesn`t want to slip up. And he
doesn`t want to make a mistake. But if he can`t answer simple questions,
the American people are going to start scratching their head, they`re
figuring out, is he ready for that prime time?

Again, he doesn`t want to go down both Bobby Jindal, definitely he
doesn`t want to go down to Palin`s path. And let`s not forget, Rubio was
the darling of the Tea Party, it`s now how he actually rose his candidacy.

SHARPTON: But the reason that I suspect, and I`m talking personally,
that they`re using him is because of the Latino vote. I mean, he is not
the great communicator since Reagan, he is a Latino. And 71 percent of
Latino`s voter for President Obama only 27 percent voted for Mitt Romney.
And the GOP has been losing Latino support.

President Bush got 40 percent of the Latino vote in 2004. John McCain
got 31 percent. Romney only got 27 percent. I suspect that Rubio is not
only being used for his talents but because of his origins and they`re
trying to fill that demographics.

KUMAR: I think the Republicans are trying to rebrand in this. Rubio,
I think definitely 15 to that rebranding. But let`s look at Rubio`s
numbers. Rubio, among the Latinos in Florida, he overwhelmingly won the
Cuban vote. But he didn`t win overwhelmingly the rest of the Latino vote
when he ran for Senate. So, when you start looking at his history and
where he actually looks at, he attacks, for example, for privatization of
education.

He attacks against, he believes in English only language. He only
brings immigrant roots when it suits him. I think, he has to be cautious
that the more he start digging into Marco Rubio, he has to have substance
in order to wins up that Latino vote. And I think that`s why you`re seeing
on immigration. He was talking about.

SHARPTON: Yes.

KUMAR: He basically talking about, no path for citizenship. He had
conversations with John McCain. And all of a sudden, now he`s with the
path through citizenship. And I think again, that`s the only way you`re
going to win the Latino vote is to start talking to them straight.

SHARPTON: Is he a leading contender for 2016? And does this further
embellish image that he is a leading contender if not the frontrunner he
does well on Tuesday night?

KUMAR: I think absolutely. I think again, they`re reintroducing the
republican brand, and Rubio is the headliner for that. But he has to be,
he has to be careful. He can`t backtrack like he did so quickly on
immigration.

For example, if he`s for a path to legalization, he`s going to have to
keep that. He can`t --

SHARPTON: So, on legalization, on climate change, on a lot of things,
he`s all over the place.

KUMAR: Yes. He basically has to identify who he is, but that`s I
think right now is the problem with the Republican Party. And I also, you
know, I also encourage him to start talking a little bit about he keeps
saying that he doesn`t believe in government entitlement programs.

SHARPTON: Yes.

KUMAR: And all of that. Well, unfortunately, right now, the American
people are actually -- they are using entitlement programs.

SHARPTON: You can always keep quoting Biggie and see how that all do
for him. Maria Teresa Kumar, thanks for your time tonight.

KUMAR: Thank you.

SHARPTON: We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The President`s State of the Union address is next week.
But some Republicans are already freaking out. It`s starting with GOP
Congressman Steve Pearce. He has decided to skip the State of the Union.
What`s the reason? This guy. The lesser prairie chicken of New Mexico.
That`s right. Congressman Pearce is going to the birds. Literally.

He tweeted that he`s staying home in New Mexico because, quote, "A
public hearing on the chicken is the same day as the State of the Union."
No disrespect to the chicken, even if he is the lesser chicken. But the
State of the Union is pretty important too.

Congressman, it`s time for all of us to come together as a union. As
Americans. And showing up at the State of the Union speech is one way to
show it.

We`re facing some serious economic time. We`re facing serious
decisions on gun legislation. We`re facing serious questions about how we
sustain Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. I know your party didn`t
do well last year, but, Congressman, don`t be chicken.

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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