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PoliticsNation, Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

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POLITICS NATION
March 5, 2013

Guests: James Peterson; Richard Blumenthal, Ed Rendell, Richard Wolffe, Virginia Messick, Attorney Susan Burke


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

Tonight`s lead. Race to the top. Big news today from Wall Street as
the stock market hit an all-time high. It`s big news for business. But
the middle class and poor are getting hammered. We will talk about that in
a moment. First, the market`s big jump today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Moments ago on the floor of the New York stock
exchange, the Dow Jones industrial average closed at an all-time high.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Dow ballooned past its previous record high
hit before the financial crisis back in October of `07.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: March of 2009, Maria, 6,547 on the Dow Jones
industrial average. And from there it`s been almost straight up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: As you can see, these past few years have been great for
Wall Street. On the left, you see the financial crash under President Bush
in late 2008. Since then it`s pretty much been up, up, up since early 2009
when President Obama came into office.

But too many Republicans refuse to accept that success. To them the
president remains anti-business or anti-American. Some sort of socialist.
They buy socialist Obama t-shirts, socialist Obama hats, socialist Obama
tote bags. But worst of all, their so-called political leaders just can`t
get enough of calling him, calling the president a socialist.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Barack Obama is a
socialist. He believes in socialism in redistributing wealth in
confiscating hard-earned dollars.

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a president
who wants to turn America into another European style social welfare state.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: This might be the last election
to turn the nation around before we go down the road to socialism.
President Obama and his socialist policies must be stopped.

RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS GOVERNOR: Obama`s socialist policies are
bankrupting America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Socialism. Does that really ring true to you?

I have a news flash for Republicans. We don`t need to worry about
Wall Street. They`re doing just fine. We care about Main Street. We care
about jobs. We care about the safety net. And we definitely care when
Republicans try to roll back the clock.

Today, we`re learning that congressman Paul Ryan may be doubling down
on his plan to end Medicare as we know it. Politico reports Ryan is about
to introduce a new budget that might allow privatizing Medicare for people
older than 55. Breaking a promise he made with Mitt Romney when he was
Mitt Romney`s running mate.

One top Republican already saying Ryan is heading in the wrong
direction. Telling the Washington Post quote, "I know a number of people
who have real concerns about where this is going."

This is crazy. At a time when business is doing well, record profits
with a record stock market, Republicans want more sacrifices from regular
people? They want more budget cuts on top of the ones they already got?
Not a chance. We settled this during the debate and during the
presidential campaign. Paul Ryan should know he lost.

Joining me now is Krystal Ball and James Peterson. Thank you both for
coming on the show.

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: Thanks for having us, Reverend.

JAMES PETERSON, LEHIGH UNIVERSITY: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: You know, Krystal, Wall Street is booming while Republicans
target the safety net. Isn`t this why Americans think that Republicans is
really the party of the rich?

BALL: It is. And it is also because they have no message what they
are for. The only thing we know, that we see is them fighting with all
their being to protect tax cuts for people who really don`t need tax cuts.

So, when you have no other message, when that`s all that you see and
then you see new budget plans coming out that are going to be felt the
hardest by the people who need the most help who were already suffering in
this economy, that just underscores the message that they really have
nothing to offer anyone but the most privileged members of our society.

SHARPTON: Now, James, Paul Ryan when you think of him now apparently
changing his commitment on Medicare, let me show you first what he said
last year about the safety net. This is Paul Ryan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: We don`t want to
turn this safety net into a hammock that allows able-bodied people on
dependency and complacency. We need to have that dynamic economy returned.
You do that by growing the economy, and getting people a hand up not a hand
out. Teach a man how to fish, he can feed himself for a life. Don`t
simply feed fish.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Don`t simply feed fish. The quote, Paul, is teach a man
how to fish -- don`t give a man a fish, teach a man to fish and he eats
forever. But this is a guy, James that they`re going to make the point man
on Medicare and the safety net?

PETERSON: Well, listen. First of all, we need to teach corporate
America how to fish, right? Because what we have is kind of a corporate
socialism that through tax loopholes and tax breaks allows Wall Street to
be able to excel. And listen, President Obama has been great for business
in both terms thus far considering the global market forces at work here.
The stock market does well, Main Street not so well. But, the interesting
thing about Ryan`s proposed new budget, and you will see this more when it
comes out, two things here. One, it relies on the $700 billion in cuts
that the president proposed in order to sort of make Medicare more
efficient and more solvent. Not to privatize it but make it more efficient
and solvent.

And it also, this budget they have, this ten-year sort of balancing
the budget plan doesn`t even work without the $600 billion in revenue that
the president fought for to get from that tax increase that we just
recently had. So, at the end of the day, it seems clear that if
Republicans will work with the president, we could actually approach these
things in a balanced way. But these kind of draconian measures where Wall
Street can reach all-time highs and poorest folks in this country have to
worry about the contract that we made with then, they need, this is absurd.

SHARPTON: Well, all-time high, crystal. Look at the fact. $1.75
trillion, this is an all-time high. Up 18.6 percent from a prior quarter.
Look at the fact that CEOs versus workers` pay, CEOs` pay has gone up 725
percent, 725 percent increase in CEO pay. Average worker pay has only gone
up 5.7 percent.

So, why are Republicans worried about Wall Street and corporate
America when we have 12 million-plus people out of work who read about Wall
Street and they are wrecking in these kinds of profits have been this kind
of increase in CEO salaries?

BALL: That`s exactly right. And why are we having a conversation
about what to cut right now when we need to focus on getting people back to
work first and foremost and look at the long-term trajectory of how we
change these programs to make them sustainable for the long-term. But
Republicans` first interest, they`re not happy with the cuts to defense.
But they`re perfectly happy with the cuts hitting the least among us who
need the most help.

And this, I think this problem with wall street at all-time highs
while the middle class and working class people and certainly the poor
suffer, I think it underscores exactly why the Republican party is becoming
increasingly irrelevant. Because they have nothing, nothing, nothing to
say about that problem. No solution to offer. They don`t even know where
to start. The only thing that they know how to say right now is cut taxes
and cut spending. That`s it.

SHARPTON: This is something else they say, James, and I`m throwing it
to you. Let me put this on. The other thing they`re saying instead of cut
is they`re protecting the loopholes for these guys. The loopholes on their
private jets, yachts. Whether or not they end the loopholes whether you
make over $1 million a year. So, in this climate of a booming Wall Street,
booming corporate salaries, they`re protecting the people that need the
protection the least, cutting the people that can afford the least of being
the victims or the results of cuts.

PETERSON: That`s right. We need no review all corporate subsidies.
We need to review all the loopholes for the wealthiest among us. And to
close some of those loopholes would get us closer to a balanced budget.

But, here`s what I don`t understand, Rev. (INAUDIBLE) as well. The
Wall Street numbers indicate for us the sort of wealth and the growth of
the job creators. Those on the right tell us they reflect the job
creators. So, if they are at an all-time high, where are the jobs?

SHARPTON: Right. And why haven`t we seen the unemployment numbers go
down? Because they`re booming and we`re getting banged.

PETERSON: That`s right.

SHARPTON: Krystal, I want to show you something that amazes me.
Eighty nine percent of Republicans are concerned President Obama will move
the country toward socialism. This is a FOX News poll, 89 percent of
Republicans are concerned the president will move the country towards
socialism. Wall Street boom, Corporate America record highs. He`s the
most failed socialist that ever was, if he was a socialist.

BALL: He`s a terrible socialist.

SHARPTON: This is incredible.

BALL: It is incredible. And it`s really a disservice that`s been
done to Republicans by conservative media outlets. They`re living in
another world. It`s part of why Mitt Romney lost the election. I mean, we
saw the interview with Mitt Romney and Ann Romney over the weekend where
Ann Romney was quick to blame the media. Well, I think blame the
conservative media because they fed this perception among the Republicans
that, you know, a toaster oven could beat the president. That he was hated
in the country. They created this caricature of him that doesn`t have a
resemblance to the pragmatic person that he actually is. And you can`t run
against a caricature and win. You have to run against the real person and
engage with the real person most of the country knows.

SHARPTON: When you talk about the practical side, Krystal, let me
show you, James, Senator Lindsey Graham. What he said today about
President Obama and how the president is still reaching out and we know all
of the things graham has said. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: He just called me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He did?

GRAHAM: Yes. I`m very encouraged about what I see from the president
in terms of substance and tone. He`s calling people. This is how you
solve hard problems. Maybe because of sequestration and frustration with
the public, the time is right to act. He wants to do the big deal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So the president wants to do the big deal. He`s doing the
right thing according to Lindsey Graham. I mean, does this mean that
there`s a possibility that the president can work out a big bargain here or
something? Some kind of adjustment of compromise, James?

PETERSON: Well, listen. The president is always and he`s shown
himself to be willing and able to compromise. In fact, those of us on the
left have been disturbed by some of the compromises that he has made. So
he`s always moving towards consensus. I think he`s always demonstrated
that he is willing to work with folk in Congress.

At the end of the day, and listen, this Ryan budget is not a
compromise. This Ryan budget that we will see is not the kind of
compromise that the president will be able to buy into because essentially
it changes the terms of the contract for Medicare and that`s a deal breaker
for him.

But at the end of the day of course he`s ready to compromise. He`s
already shown that. We just haven`t seen that from the other side, Rev.

SHARPTON: Well, you say those of us on the left. The question is
what`s left after they meet?

Krystal Ball and James Peterson, thanks for your time this evening.

BALL: Thanks, Reverend.

PETERSON: Thank you, Rev.

SHARPTON: And don`t forget to catch Krystal week days on "the Cycle"
at 3:00 p.m. right here on MSNBC.

Ahead, Jeb Bush today, meet Jeb Bush last year. It is 2016 media
blitz kicks off with a flip-flop that would make Willard Romney blush.

And going momentum on gun control, but Senator Tom Corbin might be
making it harder on background check. Connecticut Senator Richard
Blumenthal on progress and the fight ahead.

And an unbelievable story. Republicans want to defund something that
doesn`t even exist. Look out, Bigfoot, you might be next.

Big show coming. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Today, folks had a lot to say about Gabby Giffords` latest gun safety
ad praising her determination.

Leslie says such important works she is doing.

Bet says the grace she`s shown is an inspiration.

Susan says she is one courageous lady. Praying that she can make a
difference.

Looks like we might be on the verge of a major breakthrough in
Congress. We will tell you more coming up.

But first, 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: The fight for gun legislation in this country has been long
and hard, but now for the first time in a long time, we are on the brink of
a major breakthrough. A group of senators have reached an agreement on a
bipartisan bill that would make gun trafficking a federal crime for the
first time. Their proposal would crack down on straw purchases, people who
buy firearms for individuals barred from owning one. It would also punish
sellers who have reason to believe the gun would be used in a crime.

This is progress. It`s vitally important, but it`s just one piece of
the puzzle in dealing with the gun problem in this country.

Joining me now is Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat from
Connecticut. He is one of the co-sponsors of this important legislation.

Senator, first, thanks for coming on the show tonight.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: Thank you so much.

SHARPTON: Tell us why this bill in particular is so important.

BLUMENTHAL: This bill is critically important, because illegal gun
trafficking respects no state borders. The traffic in stolen weapons, in
illegal guns is porous across state borders. That poison is the cause of
2000 deaths by gun violence since Newtown. So, Newtown was a call to
action, but children and other innocent people are killed every day by gun
violence in illegally trafficked guns.

And here is a really incredible point. There is no federal law now
that prohibits illegal trafficking. And this measure would impose for the
first time terms of 20 to 30 years in prison and I know that the efficacy
of that kind because I prosecuted these crimes when I was United States
attorney for Connecticut, helped when I was the attorney general and to
provide these kinds of law enforcement tools is absolutely critical which
is why we have a bipartisan group of senators cosponsoring them. Senator
Collins and Senator Kirk, both Republicans of Maine and Illinois
respectively. Senator Leahy is leading us. Senator Kirsten and myself
from the northeast also involved as the original, the leading cosponsors.
So, I think we are on the cusp of a major breakthrough if we can move this
bill out of committee and through the United States Senate.

SHARPTON: It is amazing it has not been a federal crime than as
before. And I know firsthand you have been passionate about this. Not
only are you a senator from the state where Newtown happened, but where you
have been on this concern a long time as a prosecutor and then as a
senator. In fact, I have been in black churches with you in your state
where you addressed this question of violence.

But the question also is background checks. When we look now, the
progress is being made of trafficking but aimed at universal background
checks might be in peril. Senator Tom Coburn and Chuck Schumer have been
negotiating on background checks, but Coburn says that they have failed a
reach an agreement on his top concern. And that is that no permanent
recordkeeping on gun purchases be made a result of background checks. Now,
this is a key portion of President Obama`s gun control agenda. In your
opinion, senator, will it make it?

BLUMENTHAL: I believe that it will. You made the point absolutely
correctly earlier that there`s no single solution. It has to be a strategy
that includes background checks for all firearm purchases. Not just the 60
percent that are done by licensed gun deals. But also, the private sales,
the gun shows sales that are right now are exempted under the loophole.

You`re right that Senator Schumer has been negotiating very patiently
and persistently with Senator Coburn and some others. I have tried to help
in those kinds of talks. And I have my own proposal for background checks
on ammunition purchases.

But remember, again, the basic common sense point here is that right
now under our law, there is a prohibition against fugitives, felons, drug
addicts, all criminals, and seriously mentally ill and domestic abusers
from buying -- buying those firearms and buying ammunition. This measure
is a law enforcement tool. It makes imminent common sense and I hope we
can surmount the resistance to recordkeeping. Because on my personal view,
again as a prosecutor based on my experience, some kind of records of those
transactions is necessary in case that gun is used in a criminal act and it
can be followed afterwards.

SHARPTON: As well as we see 40 percent of all gun sales are made by
sellers who aren`t required to conduct a background check. And clearly
that`s why this universal background check is so popular, 92 percent of
people polled want to see it. But where the rubber meets the road is the
victims, the people that you have to deal with as constituents. One of
them the father of a young boy killed in Newtown spoke before Congress last
week. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEIL HESLIN, FATHER OF NEWTOWN VICTIM: Jesse was the love of my
life. He was the only family I have left. It`s hard for me to be here
today to talk about my deceased son. There are many changes that have to
happen. Mental health issues, better background checks. Bans on these
weapons, bans on high capacity magazines. They all have to come together
and they all have to work effectively.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: At the end of the day, senator, isn`t that what it`s really
all about? You defending and standing up for victims, innocent victims in
your home state that you served as both a prosecutor and a senator that is
in pain for no good reason? And we must made change so we do not keep
having victims and fathers of victims like this.

BLUMENTHAL: Listening to Neil Heslin who just spoke, talking to the
families of victims, the 20 beautiful babies and the 6 heroic educators who
tried to save them throwing their bodies in front of those bullets and
perishing as a result.

You know, Newtown has changed me. I think it has changed many of us
in Connecticut. Seeing the absolutely horrific, unspeakable violence that
are caused by these assault weapons and the high capacity magazines. Some
of those children, maybe all of them would be alive today. But for those
assault weapons and the high capacity magazines if there had been this kind
of ban.

So, Neil Heslin is right when he says it all has to come together.
And we have to come together as a nation. It`s not enough just to talk
about it as I have been and thankfully leaders like yourself have been.
But organizing overcoming the opponents like the NRA which have lost a lot
of their political heft but they still can command resistance and we need
to do it for those victims. You were absolutely right.

SHARPTON: We are going to leave it there. Thank you so much Senator
Blumenthal for your time and for all that you do.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, Jeb Bush might have more than his last name to
battle in 2016. Jeb versus Hillary, who would win? And why in the world
are house Republicans trying to defund something that doesn`t exist? Go
Nessie go. Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We are back with big developing news. House Republicans
will not set aside money for Bigfoot this year. I repeat. Bigfoot will
have to get through without federal subsidies. Sorry, big guy, there`s no
funds for the loch-ness monster either. Better luck next year, Nessie.
And it the same story with the aliens. The truth may be out there but
federal money isn`t. Now, you and I know these things don`t actually
exist. So of course Congress wouldn`t give them money. And of course
Congress wouldn`t feel the need to announce that, right? Well, in the
House, GOP`s latest budget bill, they made sure to say no federal money
would be distributed to ACORN.

The only problem, the community organizing group ACORN folded in 2010.
It doesn`t exist. The group closed after a right wing smear artist
released doctored videos claiming ACORN workers advised people on how to
break the law. A report by an independent investigator found nothing
illegal, but the right wing relentlessly kept up the attack until ACORN was
defunded by Republicans in Congress and closed.

And even now the right refuses to believe that ACORN`s gone away. A
recent poll found that 49 percent of Republicans believe ACORN stole the
2012 election for President Obama. And now, House Republicans are bravely
trying to defund something that doesn`t even exist. Did the right wing
think we wouldn`t notice they`re still going nutty over ACORN? Nice try,
but we got you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Today`s GOP has turned into some kind of reality show.
Who`s got the stage presence for 2016? Who`s got the right voice for the
party? It`s turned into republican idol. And the first contestant was
this guy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Oh beautiful for
spacious skies for amber waves of grain.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: OK. Mitt Romney hasn`t -- he wasn`t the big wonderful
republican. So they thought this guy was their savior.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Nothing has frustrated me more than
false choices like the one the president laid out tonight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So, Marco Rubio is not the best choice either. But look
out Republicans, there`s a new candidate for the job. Jeb Bush. Yes, the
son and brother of former President Bush is the latest republican to say
he`d consider a run for the White House. But is he conservative enough to
win over the far right? Last year, he said he`d support a pathway to
citizenship for illegal immigrants.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You can`t ignore it. And so either a path to
citizenship which I would support and that does put me probably out of the
mainstream of most conservatives. Or a path to legalization. A path to
residency of some kind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, that was last June. But now he`s flipped. In his new
book Jeb opposes a pathway to citizenship. He writes, it is absolutely
vital to the integrity of our immigration system that actions have
consequences. In this case, that those who have violated the laws can
remain but cannot obtain the cherished fruits of citizenship. OK. So now
Jeb opposes a pathway to citizenship. Right? Wrong. Here`s what he had
to say just today. He`s flipped back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: If you can craft that in law where you can have a
path to citizenship where there isn`t an incentive for people to come
illegally, I`m for it. I don`t have a problem with that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Oh, I see. So now he`s on a book tour to say his book is
wrong. Or he wrote his book to say he was wrong before. And he`s wrong
again today. You got to hand it to the Republicans, they really know how
to pick a winner.

Joining me now are former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and Richard
Wolffe. Thank you both for being here tonight.

RICHARD WOLFFE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, MSNBC.COM: Thanks for having us.

FMR. GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA: How are you?

SHARPTON: Now, Governor, let me go to you first. Jeb Bush has
flipped and flopped back on immigration. What does that say about him and
what does it say about his party?

RENDELL: Well, it shows that the right wing is still such a dominant
factor in the Republican Party that is moderate -- a moderate conservative
like Jeb Bush has to worry about the right. Has to tailor some others
remarks that are in some ways are against what he believes in. Look in the
end, President Jeb Bush if that ever would happen would be for a pathway to
citizenship that if it was necessary, to resolve this problem.

I think it`s going to be resolved before then, but Jeb Bush probably
has the props and the stature to be a very effective republican candidate.
He -- if it wasn`t for his last name which is somewhat of a drawback,
probably less as years go on, he might be the leading contender. He has
the stature, demeanor, the temperament, all those things. But Jeb Bush
should learn from Mitt Romney, you can`t get there just by appeasing the
right wing. That might get you the nomination but it sure served as a
prescription for disaster in the general election.

SHARPTON: And Richard, it makes people feel less than comfortable
about you at least being a solid person that has convictions. I mean, Bush
tried to explain today that the timing of what he wrote his new book
affected what he wrote about and the pathway to citizenship. Listen to
this explanation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: We wrote this book last year, not
this year. And we proposed a path to legalization. Remember, this is a
proposal that we attempted to put out prior to the election to create a
consensus for conservatives to actually get in the game. Because in
November prior to the election we weren`t even in the game.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So, I mean, if the book had been written after the Senate
Republicans embraced reform, he would have written something else? I
mean, can you believe this stuff?

WOLFFE: I have no idea what his position is, right? You know, people
always said he wasn`t like his brother.

SHARPTON: Right.

WOLFFE: They said he was the smart guy. But, you know, at least you
know who he stood with his brother.

SHARPTON: Right.

WOLFFE: He may have said some strange things and done some even
stranger things, but he ran a campaign, his brother did, against a guy who
was for it before he was against it. I don`t know if he`s for or against
what. And the idea that this is a book -- a book called "immigration
wars." About immigration, it`s not a side comment that he made and --

SHARPTON: This is what the whole book is about.

WOLFFE: It`s not a side comment in a debate because, you know, he`s
got people on the right pushing him. So, Even Mitt Romney did better than
this. I mean, I cannot believe that Jeb Bush, the famed smarter, wiser
brother of George W. Bush is this unready for primetime.

SHARPTON: Now, Governor, you had mentioned his name may be all right
or better over time. And you know, the Bush name does have supporters and
it does have detractors. USA Today writes today, in national politics, the
Bush name looms as both a blessing and a curse for Jeb Bush. For some
skeptical conservatives, he is shadowed by his father`s decision to break
his no-new-taxes pledge and his brother`s expansion of the federal
government and the budget deficit.

So even before you get to the general voting public, they may have
other reasons to not like the Bush name. The conservatives even have
problems with his father and brother. You think over time two or three
years down the road that will start to dissipate a little?

RENDELL: I think a little bit. And again, I think the Republicans
and particularly the conservative wing are going to be so intent on winning
back the White House that they may forgive some of those things. Look, in
the end they forgave those things for Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney dominated
the people who consider themselves strongly conservative.

So, I think they would forgive the sins of bushes past and look at Jeb
Bush as a strong candidate. Look, there`s no doubt about it as a loyal
democrat, he`s the person I`d least like to see on the ballot in 2016.

SHARPTON: Well, let me say on the other side of that, Richard. He
appears to have a lot of support. When you look at a recent PPP poll in
Florida, just Florida voters. When they were asked who they`d vote for in
a hypothetical heads up, Hillary Clinton got 49 percent. Jeb Bush, 44.
Hillary Clinton, 50 percent. Marco Rubio 46. So, he`s not that far behind
Hillary Clinton or Marco Rubio, could he be a serious candidate?

WOLFFE: Oh, he`s a serious candidate and would have access to money.
There is a -- question the party that we cannot ignore here. You know,
right now, they`re looking at the saying deficit first. That party knows
that his brother blew up the deficit. Whether they think it was because of
wars or prescription drug benefits.

SHARPTON: Yes.

WOLFFE: But he is going to be dogged all the way through his campaign
by the questions of do you support your brother`s policies or not? Those
were the kinds of questions that actually tripped up Hillary Clinton as
well. Do you support where your husband is on not? If you have to answer
for your own candidacy and someone in your family, it becomes two things
you have to carry. And it`s very tricky in a high-pressure campaign.

SHARPTON: Governor, quickly it looks like the Bush family is trying
to make a comeback period, I mean, look at the re-emergence. You have Jeb
Bush`s book on "Immigration Wars" released today. You have George H.W.
Bush`s book "All the Best," George Bush was released today including a new
passage where he stands up to the criticism of his son George W. received
during his presidency. And talking about his son, George W., his
presidential library dedication ceremony will take place on April 25th.
So, it looks like they`re back.

RENDELL: Sure. They`re back. And I think Richard properly assessed
some of the problems that Jeb`s going to have. But I think again, the
desire to win will be the driving force in 2016 just like it was the
driving force in 2012 among conservative and republican primary voters.
So, we`ll see. And I personally believe that if Hillary Clinton chooses to
run, Rev, that no one even Jeb Bush will beat her. But that`s a long way
off. None of us know what Hillary is going to decide.

SHARPTON: Well, I don`t know who runs. I don`t know who`s what
nominee. I do know one thing, Governor, when I was growing up in Brooklyn,
my mother used to tell me when she let me go outside to play to stay out
the bushes. Governor Ed Rendell and Richard Wolffe, thanks for your time
tonight.

Coming up, an Air Force sexual assault investigation at a base in San
Antonio. Virginia Messick, the first victim at the base to speak publicly
shares her story, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The first victim to speak publicly about the sexual assault
scandal at the Lackland Air Force Base joins us, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Now to an important story about our military. The sexual
assault investigations at Laughlin Air Force Base in San Antonio. The base
is home to the Air Force where every American airman and airwoman reports
for basic training. He`s also the scene of a massive sexual assault
investigation. Sixty two trainees have been identified as victims of
sexual assault. At least 32 instructors are involved.

Seven instructors have already been court-martialed. One of the
instructors staff Sergeant Luis Walker was sentenced to 20 years in prison
for crimes involving ten women including Virginia Messer. She was a 19-
year-old recruit in April of 2011 when Sergeant Walker lured her into an
empty room in the dorm and raped her. It`s been difficult. A difficult
journey. But now she`s telling her story. She`s the first victim to speak
publicly about the scandal at Lackland Air Force Base.

Virginia Messick and her Attorney Susan Burke join me now. First, let
me thank both of you for being here.

VIRGINIA MESSICK, SEXUALLY ASSAULTED BY AIR FORCE TRAINER: Thank you.

SUSAN BURKE, MESSICK`S ATTORNEY: Thank you. Thank you for having us.

SHARPTON: Virginia, take me through the story. I mean, what happened
and how did it happen?

MESSICK: When I was in basic training, my instructor had actually
started letting me use Facebook and e-mail because I had a friend in
Afghanistan who he wanted me to say that in a professional way that
everybody need a friend while they were overseas. So over those types of
weeks, he would let me use his private computer to let me proceed with
doing that.

And then it started to where he would make sexual comments to me and
he would try and grope me. And at first I was just trying to get away from
it and told him don`t come near me. And one day, I was actually on laundry
crew assistant which is where I did laundry for all females during basic
training at all times. And he pulled me out from my job and told me to
meet him upstairs because there were some detail towels I need to go and
get from the upstairs dorm which was empty at the time because a new flight
was coming in.

And when he told me to come up, he told me to wait five minutes for
the cameras. And I followed him up to the dorm and that`s when he pulled
me into the dorm room and I walked inside of a door and he closed it behind
me. And that`s when he proceeded to rape me.

SHARPTON: Now, when -- and I know this is painful, but I admire your
courage for coming out publicly so this can stop this from happening to
others. When investigators first asked you about the attack, you down
played it. And this happens often with victims. Why did you do that?

MESSICK: When the investigators came to speak with me, I had no idea
what they were there for. They walked right into my base and they dragged
me into a room and they said they had already knew everything. That I
needed to tell them what happened. And I basically sat there for two and a
half hours and didn`t tell them anything. I wouldn`t talk to them. So one
of the investigators got very hostile with me.

And he threw a piece of paper and pen down and told me that if I wrote
a statement that he would leave me alone. I don`t understand where at any
point if since my rape do I ever want to express what happened to me to two
complete strangers especially now a male investigator who`s being hostile
towards me.

SHARPTON: Right.

MESSICK: There`s no way I`m going to want to talk to them.

SHARPTON: Now, you face your attacker at a court-martial last year.
What was going through your mind when he was testifying?

MESSICK: Anger. It was just complete and pure anger. And at one
point when I did testify, I completely just let it go. I`ve got angry. I
yelled and screamed and did whatever I needed to do. Because I was not --
I`m not afraid of him. That was my main mind thought when I was going in
through the court was because I wasn`t supposed to be scared of him.

It`s my turn for him to be scared of me. And afterwards, even though
I still have so much pent up anger due just from PTSD, period, I went ahead
and did what I needed to do. I was in court and for that being the first
time that I`m facing him, let him know how I felt and what he did to me.
And I walked out.

SHARPTON: Wow! Now, Susan, the Air Force have said they have taken
preventive steps. And the Generals say, no reports of misconduct in the
last seven months. Is the problem solves? "The New York Times" story says
quote, "Air Force commanders say they have taken preventive actions in
Lackland. There wasn`t much supervision said Major General Leonard A.
Patrick who is in-charge of the Air Force enlisted training. But now we
want to put more leadership into the equation and more accountability. Is
the problem solved?

BURKE: No, Reverend, not at all. You and I are both old enough to
remember tail hook back in 1991. What we have is a series of rape and
sexual assault scandals that once in awhile rise to public attention. And
we much appreciate you covering the issue, but there`s a structural
problem. There`s significant underreporting. Most men and women do not
report being raped because they know it will not be treated seriously. And
the way the structure is set up, a single person in the chain of command, a
single individual, has the power, unsettled power to simply wipe away a
conviction of a jury.

This happens time and time again and so predators know that they`re
able to get away with it. The victims know that there is no justice. And
so we really as a nation, we need to ask ourselves why are we letting this
problem go on decade after decade? We`ve got to step forward and Congress
has to act.

SHARPTON: Well, we`re going to stay on it. Virginia, thank you so
much for standing up in your courage and sharing your story. And Susan, we
thank you as well. And we will continue to follow developments as they
unfold.

BURKE: Thank you so much.

MESSICK: Thank you for letting me share my story.

SHARPTON: God bless you. We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: What are we going to do with these Republicans? Three
months after a landslide loss, they haven`t learned a thing. We tell you
how Paul Ryan is back with an even more radical plan how to gut Medicare.
And Jeb Bush comes out with a flip-flop flip on a path to citizenship. But
if you want to talk about not learning a thing, just look at who`s heading
to the big conservative shin dig.

Yes, this is actually happening. Donald Trump, the birther king
himself got an invitation today. This is all you have to know about the
Republican Party. I mean, are they serious with this? They call this
rebranding? Come on, Republicans. We need a strong GOP. We need a
vibrant party to challenge Democrats. A party to push out some good ideas
where with can debate, even fight on issues and both on them. And
sometimes dare I say it, even compromise. What we don`t need is the
Donald.

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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