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PoliticsNation, Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

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POLITICS NATION
March 13, 2013

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

Guests: Ed Rendell, Celinda Lake, Joy Reid, Dana Milbank, Ben Labolt


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

We start tonight with news, the mystery is over. We have a new Pope.
Jorge Borgoglio will be called Francis. More on that coming up.

But, there is another mystery about to be solved. The man behind Mitt
Romney`s infamous 47 percent tape will be revealed tonight. It was his
secretly recorded tape that exposed who Mitt Romney really was at his core.
He was speaking off the cuff at a fund-raiser inside of this Florida
mansion and he had no idea his life and his campaign was about to change
forever.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are 47 percent of
the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right,
there are 47 percent who are with him who are dependent upon government,
who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a
responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to
health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. And so my job is not to
worry about those people. I`ll never convince them that they should take
personal responsibility and care for their lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Forty seven percent of Americans were victims who believe that
government has a responsibility to take care of them. He wasn`t going to
worry about them. The damage control started right away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Good evening. I understand that there`s a video that`s been on
the Internet for a few weeks that has attracted some attention and I
thought I`d make some comments about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: You`re not stepping away from anything you
said in this video, you`re not backing away from anything, and do you worry
you`ve offended this 47 percent who you mentioned?

ROMNEY: Well, you know, it`s not elegantly stated, let me put it that way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: This became what the campaign was all about. It`s Mitt Romney,
the 47 percent guy, against President Obama, the family guy. We all know
how it ended. But to this day we don`t know who was behind that tape. A
new chapter in American political history is about to be written.

The man who recorded those 47 percent comments reveals himself to Ed
Schultz in two hours right here on MSNBC. Here`s part of the interview
when Ed asked why he did it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I simply wanted his words to go out. And everybody
could make a judgment based on his words and his words alone. The guy was
running for the presidency. And these were his core beliefs. And I think,
you know, everybody can judge whether, you know, that`s appropriate or not,
or they believe the same things he does. But I felt that an obligation to
expose the things that he was saying.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now is my colleague, Ed Schultz, host of "The Ed
Show" here on MSNBC.

Ed, thanks for doing this. And first of all, congratulations on this
interview.

ED SCHULTZ, MSNBC ANCHOR, THE ED SHOW: Thank you, Rev. It`s good to be
here.

SHARPTON: Tell us about him. Who is he and why did he come forward?

SCHULTZ: Well, he didn`t do this with the intention of injecting himself
into the political process or becoming such a big factor in an important
election. He`s a worker, he is a wage earner, he is a guy that, you know,
worked parties, and you, he was a bartender. And he was going to be there
and he knew it. And he was going to see one of two people who was going to
be president of the United States.

And so, he wanted a souvenir, so he had a little camera that he got and put
it on there and started recording it just to have it as somewhat of a
souvenir. But as the night went on and as the conversation went on, he
realized what he had. And he couldn`t believe what he was hearing. He
talks about that tonight in the interview. He talks about really what
tripped his trigger as to what he thought, you know, the American people
had to hear because they weren`t hearing this side of Mitt Romney out on
the campaign trail. And he knew instantly he had a story to tell.

SHARPTON: And so, he didn`t go there as a guy who disliked Romney?

SCHULTZ: No, this was not a get moment. This was not, hey, I`m going to
sneak this camera in here. I mean, there were other cameras in the room,
there were other people recording. But obviously, they were, you know, for
Romney, because, you know, this is a $50,000 dinner fund-raiser plate.

But, he talks about Romney`s personality. He talks about what was said
that, you know, was not getting any exposure. Now, we all focus in, the
media has on the 47 percent comment. But there was another story that was
told that did get some attention by the media. And that is the story about
the sweatshop in China. And about how Mitt Romney went over to China to
purchase this when he was with Bain. And this gentleman will tell the
story how that hit him and how he thought that that just had to get out.
He just didn`t get the tape, you know, fall into and it say, hey, I`m going
to be somebody. And he talks about why he released it now.

SHARPTON: Now I know you`re not here to give us the name.

SCHULTZ: Sure.

SHARPTON: But, tell us about the guy. What can you tell us about the
profile of the guy that this resonated with the guy?

SCHULTZ: I would -- he comes from Blue Collar Roots. He comes from --
he`s a wage earner his whole life. To my knowledge he is not a union
member. And he is a guy that is trying to make a living. He`s a guy that
works hard, that believes in America. He tells me that he`s a registered
independent. That he`s never really been a big politico. I mean, he
obviously follows the news and it was an election year and he was paying
some attention to it.

This is a guy, in my opinion, from what I could see, from the two hours
that I spent with him to do this interview, and there`s a lot that`s going
to hit the cutting room floor. It`s a very interesting story. Our team
has been working out hard. This is a guy that could have gone to "60
minutes." he could have gone to the biggest platform out there.

But it wasn`t about him. And it wasn`t about making a dollar. And he
turned down a lot of offers. And he decided to go where workers are
advocated for, which I`m honored. As our network should be honored. And
he talks about that decision. He talks about what his life has been like.
How he really struggled with what he was going to do with the tape. But
you know, Rev, and you`re in the business of managing big things in the
public eye. No one has managed this man. This has all been his instincts.
No PR firm, no media consultant, no one that says, hey, you`ve got to do
this, or this isn`t going to happen. I mean, this is really amazing.

SHARPTON: And by not having that management, he talked to you about the
risks that he took to get the tape out. Let me play that part.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Has this been any time where you feared for your life?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was up against the most powerful, richest people in
the country. And, you know, it was certainly -- the stakes were pretty
high. And I knew that you know, you never know what could happen whether
there`s nuts out there. You know, you just didn`t know. I`ve certainly
had threats.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So, I mean, this guy`s not being handled by anyone, which means
he has nobody promising him any protection.

SCHULTZ: No.

SHARPTON: So he is a courageous guy on top of it.

SCHULTZ: Very courageous. He has got tremendous character. He is very
courageous. I think that comes across in the interview. I think he is
very genuine. He wanted people to know the real Mitt Romney. That`s what
this was all about.

SHARPTON: You also asked about how hard of a decision was it to put the
tape out. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: How big a decision was it for you to release the tape and to go
through all of this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was -- it was -- it was tough. I debated fare d for
a little while. And you know, but in the end, I really felt like it had to
be put out. I felt I owed it to the people that couldn`t afford to be
there themselves to hear what he really thought.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now let me show you, Ed, what Mitt Romney said just a couple of
weeks ago about the 47 percent comment. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: It was a very unfortunate statement that I made. It`s not what I
meant. I didn`t express myself as I wished I would have. It was very
harmful. What I said is not what I believe. That hurt, there`s no
question that hurt, and did real damage to my campaign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So even Romney admits it hurt. It did tremendous damage to his
campaign, even though he tries to act like he just misspoke. There`s no
question what this guy did was of real impact in the race last year.

SCHULTZ: That interview right there on March 3rd just 10 days ago was the
trigger. That was the deciding point for this gentleman.

SHARPTON: Oh, really?

SCHULTZ: I`m going to come forward, I`m going to speak out. And when he
found out that Mitt Romney was going to speak at CPAC, when he found and he
saw that interview on FOX, in denial Mitt Romney was, and what he was still
saying, that`s when he made the decision that he was going to take a risk,
and it is a risk, for him to come out and speak to everything that he is --
everything that he`s been through. And he talks about the anguish of after
the recording. And how tough it was for him to come out.

He knew what he had. But he didn`t want to make a mistake and he didn`t
want to draw attention to himself. If he wanted to draw attention to
himself, he could have been on every news show within 48 hours.

SHARPTON: Yes. No doubt.

SCHULTZ: He could have been anywhere. But it wasn`t about him. And
that`s what`s so genuine about this. And I do think that this is going to
be a revolutionary moment in how to handle campaigns.

There`s never going to be a fund-raiser again without it being completely
controlled or the candidate understanding what you say behind closed doors
is what you`re going to have to be held accountable for.

SHARPTON: Or at least you should say what you mean and mean what you say.

SCHULTZ: Well, and that too. On March 3rd was some discrepancy in what
Mitt Romney was saying there which I think was the impetus is to why he
came out.

SHARPTON: And stand by one more minute. I want to bring in Ben Labolt who
is a former national press secretary for the Obama campaign.

Ben, you were inside the campaign when this tape came out. What was the
reaction inside the campaign?

BEN LABOLT, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY OF OBAMA CAMPAIGN: Well, we knew
immediately how damaging this tape was. It`s rare that you have a gift
that`s this potent handed to you at such a critical time in the campaign.
And the reason it was so damaging was because it played into Americans`
worst fears of who Mitt Romney was. Here he was, writing off half of the
American people when he was trying to lead them. And I remember huddling
meal with David Axelrod and Stephanie Cutter and trying to calibrate our
response. And when we took a look at the tape, we decided the most
important thing for to us do was to get out of the way, let the American
people hear Mitt Romney, talk about the 47 percent in his own words. And
that`s what we did in battleground markets across the country. We put that
tape up on the air for all Americans to hear.

SHARPTON: No. And I think that was wise that you got out of the way.
Didn`t stand in the way of the story. It spoke for itself. There was
nothing else to do.

LABOLT: That`s right. And ultimately, it became a critical contrast in
the campaign. The president`s campaign was all about strengthening the
middle class. And here you had Mitt Romney going down a list of 47 percent
of Americans, retirees who would work their entire life paying into Social
Security, paying into Medicare, so that they could have a secure
retirement. Veterans.

These were the faces of Mitt Romney`s 47 percent. And those folks went out
there and spoke about their thoughts on that tape for the rest of the
campaign and really put a human face on what Mitt Romney was talking about
and what he got deeply wrong.

SHARPTON: And I think, Ed, and you`ve got the great interview. We are
under two hours before we can see it. I think that it showed a lot of
American people the meanness of this guy. And I think it was wise of the
Obama camp not to get in the way.

My mother used to tell me, if you see a guy going over a cliff, give him
room, don`t turn a suicide into a homicide.

SCHULTZ: Well, another thing that`s genuine about this gentleman is that
he didn`t take it to the Obama camp. He took it to the social media.

SHARPTON: Very smart.

SCHULTZ: And he knew what he had. But he used the social networking
platform to make sure this was going to get out. So he was not politically
bent in any way. He wanted the story to get to the American people because
he thought the American people need to know it.

SHARPTON: Well, we`ll be watching. Ben Labolt, now a Democratic
strategist, thank you for joining us.

LABOLT: Thank you, reverend.

SHARPTON: Ed, we`ll all be looking forward to this one.

Do not miss "the Ed Show" exclusive. The man who shot the 47 percent video
with Ed Schultz for the full hour, 8:00 p.m. eastern, right here on MSNBC.
With Ed, the scoopster.

(LAUGHER)

SHARPTON: Ahead. The mittster and the scoopster.

Ahead, inside the president`s meeting with the house Republicans and why
the only thing they respond to is force.

Plus, selling the business. The grassroots movement that helped President
Obama win reelection is getting back to work. We will see the president
live tonight.

And the Republican Party is a mess and so is their actual party. You will
not believe what we`re learning on the eve of the big conference.

Big show ahead, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Our facebook family had a lot to say about President Obama`s big charm
offensive on Capitol Hill today.

Tonya says, I pray they can work together and do what has to be done to
move our country forward.

Dawn says, stay strong, President Obama.

Juanita says, he always has been willing to work with the Republicans.

You`re right, Juanita.

But will the Republicans be willing to work with him? We`ll talk about
that next.

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: There is a lot of talk these days about a certain charm
offensive in Washington. To me, it`s basically this. President Obama has
the charm, Republicans are just offensive.

Today, the president continued his outreach to house Republicans with a
visit to Capitol Hill. It was described as a tense meeting. Gee, I would
wonder why. After all, the GOP has been so welcoming.

Just take the GOP conference chairwoman. She told her colleagues that they
should not take pictures of the president or ask him for his autograph.
Don`t get too close, he might bite.

And then, there`s Congressman Ryan. Just listen to his reaction to the
president`s so have called charm offensive.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: It didn`t come across
as terribly charming to me. The question is, is he going to go out on the
campaign trail and start campaigning against us again like he has been
since the election? You know, was the so-called charm offensive a
temporary, you know, poll-driven political calculation or was it a sincere
conversion to try and bring became together?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Suddenly Mr. let`s repeal health care is the authority on
sincerity. How about that. Just listen to what Congressman McCarthy has
to say about the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MCCARTHY (R), CALIFORNIA: I`ll bet you this. I bet you he spends
more time filling out his March madness brackets than he does writing a
budget.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Wow. With news views like that no wonder the meeting was tense.
The truth is the GOP`s real policemen with the president isn`t his
outreach, it`s that he won`t cave on his principles.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Paul Ryan today put forward his budget and he
says he`s challenging you to come forward with a budget that also reaches
balance. Are you going to do that?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No. My goal is not to chase
a balanced budget just for the sake of balance. It`s not balance on the
backs of the poor, the elderly, students who need student loans, families
who have got disabled kids.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That`s the GOP`s real problem. Don`t let them fool you.

Joining me now is E.J. Dionne.

E.J., let me ask you, is the real problem here what I`m saying? What is
the real problem, in your opinion? And does the GOP expect the president
to cave in on his principles?

E.J. DIONNE, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, the real problem is a
huge philosophical gulf about the way forward. I was really glad that the
president very explicitly said, there`s nothing magical about balancing the
budget in ten years. If we balance the budget too quickly and especially
if we make a lot of cuts early, we`re going to potentially wreck this
economy. That`s number one.

Number two, if you look at Paul Ryan`s budget, there are incredible cuts in
there to the poorest people in the country. And also to people in the
middle class. The center on budget and policy priorities estimates that it
would knock 40 million to 50 million people out of health coverage. The
president cannot support that.

And I think it`s a real challenge for people who are moderates. So, are
they going to acknowledge how radical Paul Ryan`s budget is? So it`s not
surprising that the meeting was testy. There`s just such a huge gulf right
now between the president and house Republicans.

SHARPTON: Well, huge gulf. Let me show you what the GOP leaders said and
how they stressed how far apart they were after the meeting, how far apart
they were from the president on key issues. Let me show you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Republicans want to solve
our long-term debt problem. The president doesn`t. We want to unlock our
energy resources to put more Americans back to work. The president
doesn`t. But having said that, today was a good start.

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Again, if the president
wants to let our unwillingness to raise taxes get in the way, then we`re
not going to be able to set differences aside.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So they are trying to act inflexible and it seems that the
president has held on to his guns.

DIONNE: Right, and two of those statements, the two statements John
Boehner made, aren`t exactly true, to be very charitable about it. The
president does care about fiscal balance. He has put a deal on the table.
He just doesn`t we think we need to get there as quickly as the Republicans
claim we get there.

And in terms of unlocking our energy, we are closer to energy independence
than we`ve ever been. They may want to drill in places the president
doesn`t. But we`re making a lot of progress on energy. I think Eric
Cantor`s statement put his finger on it. The Republicans in the house in
particular, and we`re going to see how Republicans in the Senate do, that
the Republicans in the house are simply not willing to raise another penny
in taxes from well-off people as part of the effort to balance the budget.
In fact, the Ryan budget cuts the top income tax rate from 39.6 percent to
25 percent without explaining all the middle class tax benefits they`re
going to have to get rid of to do that.

SHARPTON: But are they coming to the table honest brokers? Are they
really being serious? Or do you think they`re just playing to their base?

DIONNE: They are definitely playing to their base. And I think Paul Ryan
actually believes what`s in that budget of his. I just think he is
terribly, terribly wrong, particularly about government`s role in lifting
up the least among us.

And, you know, so that in terms of negotiation, what they`re saying is, we
will negotiate with the president if he agrees with us.

SHARPTON: Which is no negotiation at all.

DIONNE: Right. That he`s saying, if he drops taxes, then we`ll talk to
him. But the president says, central to his position is that we need both
some more revenue, some more taxes, through tax reform in the president`s
case, along with spending cuts. You can`t negotiate if you`re saying no to
the half the president is asking you to move on.

SHARPTON: Yes. All right, E.J. Dionne. Great to have you on tonight.

DIONNE: Great pleasure to be with you. Thanks.

SHARPTON: Ahead, Chris Christie fires a big warning shot at the GOP. They
are about to hold a big party and he wasn`t invited.

Plus, President Obama is firing up the base. And telling supporters how
they can turn a campaign into a movement. We will see him live in just a
few moments.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back with news tonight from Washington.

President Obama is set to speak at the Founders Summit of organizing for
action. It as a group that grew out of what many consider the greatest
political campaign in American history. And it`s now focused on rallying
support for his second-term agenda. That grassroots movement of millions
of Americans helped get the president reelected in November, and now he`s
counting on those same supporters to help push his priorities forward, to
create pressure for change from outside the beltway, one issue at a time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON CARSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: We are here
to get immigration reform done. We are here to move forward on taking
action against climate change, to taking action against gun violence.

JIM MESSINA, NATIONAL CHAIRMAN, DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: The NRA is
running ads today against commonsense gun safety measures which 90 percent
of Americans support. You know, shady groups with unnamed backers are
already advocating against immigration reform. And rest assured, we`re not
going to just shrug this off.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: They`re not going to just shrug it off. They`re going to fight
the NRA, Karl Rove, and all those billionaire donors in the GOP and
Republicans in Congress who don`t want change. This new group is
empowering Americans to fight for what`s important to them. And to help
realize what they voted for in November.

Joining me now is former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and pollster
Celinda Lake from Lake Research Partners. Thank you both for being here
tonight.

ED RENDELL, FORMER PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR: Our pleasure.

CELINDA LAKE, LAKE RESEARCH PARTNERS: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Governor, this group is definitely still a work in progress but
how might it help the President`s second-term agenda?

RENDELL: Well, it`s interesting, Rev. It will help but it will help in
targeted areas. For example, in Pennsylvania, most of the congressmen, the
republican congressmen, are in areas that the president didn`t carry and
that OFA didn`t have that much of an impact done. They had a huge impact
in Philadelphia but of course the Philadelphia congressmen are all on board
anyway. Where they`ll help is in moderate republican districts, probably
one out of the four republican congressmen, and in blue dog districts and
in blue dog democrat senator states.

They`ll be very impactful there. Because they do a great job and they can
easily convert it to an issue or in a group. And I think those blue dog
Democrats and the moderate Republicans that are left are going to hear a
ton from constituents, because of OFA, the new OFA. And I think that might
really make a difference.

SHARPTON: Now, Celinda, organizing for action could be key to the
President getting his agenda enacted. At "The Atlantic," this is what they
write, "If he pulls it off he could revolutionize lawmaking the way he`s
already revolutionized campaigns. No president has ever commanded a
standing army of organized supporters who could be summoned at a moment`s
notice to put pressure on Washington at his command." How do you respond
to that, Melinda -- Celinda?

LAKE: I think they couldn`t have gotten it better. I think they`ve got it
exactly right. And, you know, it`s particularly important now. Because on
the one hand, we have fewer organized groups. It`s not like the churches,
the labor unions, the women`s groups, the environmental groups can still
mobile the way that they once did. And yet we have at just the flick of a
couple of keys or an iPhone the ability to connect thousands and thousands
and tens of thousands of people. I think this is perfect. I think it
meets the moment. As they said, he revolutionized politics, now he`ll
revolutionize representation. It couldn`t be better, in my mind.

SHARPTON: Now, the numbers are impressive, Governor. The organize for
action was established just seven weeks ago. But already they`ve been
bringing Americans together. Already they`ve had 10,000 neighborhood team
captains signed up, helped organize 100 day of action for gun control
events, nationally 100 events. Organized 1,200 watch parties for the state
of the union 1.1 million people have already done at least one volunteer
action for the organization. Impressive numbers in seven weeks.

RENDELL: Nothing that any of us have ever seen matches it. It is
incredible. And of course, most of those people that are in organizing for
action came from Obama for America. So they were built in, they`re
trained, they`re battle tested, they`re experienced, they know how to
organize. It`s a powerful political force, Reverend, a powerful political
force.

SHARPTON: Celinda, you`ve been out in the country, all over the country,
in the belly of the country as one would say, polling, doing focus groups,
talking to American people. What are you getting from the American people?

LAKE: The American people, their top two emotions are frustration and
anxiety. They feel incredibly frustrated with Washington. And I think it
is so smart that the President has found his voice and his vehicle. It`s
not going to happen in the beltway. The beltway is broken and stuck. He`s
taking his message out to the people. People are incredibly frustrated
that they voted for Barack Obama and now a few Republicans in the Senate
and the Republicans in Congress will not let him have his way.

They lost the election. Give us a shot. Let`s try something. Let`s move
forward. And this is the way for the people to have their say. And I
think that the other thing that organizing for America can do, and for
action, can do, which is to the governor`s point, they can call their
friends and family. They may live in very democratic areas but they can e-
mail and call friends and family and co-workers in other areas and say,
enough is enough. Let`s move forward. Who in this country thinks that
profitable corporations don`t pay enough in taxes? Not the voters.

SHARPTON: So they can be the breakthrough to get through this whole
resistance that`s been blocking the President from getting all of the
things through that he wants to get through, in your opinion?

LAKE: I do. And I think also, if you get organizing for action taking
these stands, then I think we`re going to see a lot more participation and
a lot more accountability in the 2014 elections. Because if you have
written your congressman three times and told him to be voting a different
way and he hasn`t done it, you`re going to show up at the polls and you`re
going to be voting for change.

SHARPTON: Now, Governor, you`ve been in office. You`ve been a governor.
How does that work? When you have constituents contacting you with this
kind of pressure coming, as one that has sat in the seat of power, how
effective is that? How does it work?

RENDELL: Well, it doesn`t always win the day. There are some times, if
you believe in something strongly, you have to stay by it. But let`s take
Pat Toomey, the senator from Pennsylvania who I actually like as a person
and who`s shown some willingness to cooperate with the president on budget
issues. If you`re Pat Toomey and you know that 90 percent of
Pennsylvanians are for universal background checks, are you when the time
comes to get that vote, are you going to put up a no vote on universal
background checks? You do so at your own peril. No ifs, ands, buts about
it.

SHARPTON: Do you think, Governor that a well-mobilized army like this that
is strategically used could be the beginning of others learning how to do
this and set a whole new pattern in American politics?

RENDELL: Well, it could, Reverend. But understand, a lot of these people
are deeply committed to the President. It`s the President`s leadership.
The big test of whether he`s changed politics, and you hit it right on the
head, is after the President is out of office. Will OFA still exist? Will
it help the next president if the next president is a progressive? Will it
stay in operation? Or was it just wedded towards this one very
charismatic, remarkable man?

SHARPTON: All right, Governor Ed Rendell and Celinda Lake, great to have
you both with us. Thanks for your time.

LAKE: Thank you.

RENDELL: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Ahead, the GOP isn`t just lost. They`re cracking up. Some big
news about a party conference tomorrow that will have you scratching your
head.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: On the eve of a major republican conference, we`re hearing about
a dress code. A republican dress code, sure, that will fix things. As for
Chris Christie, he has nothing to worry about. He wasn`t invited. He was
snubbed so he can stay in his fleece all week long. But other Republicans
have more than their clothes to worry about. Christie`s talking about
working with President Obama and has a strong message to the party.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: My job is to work for the people who
elected me. And not to work for my political party first. My first job is
for New Jersey. Regardless of what party I belong to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The GOP at war with Christie? What could possibly go wrong?
That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: For the last year I`ve talked about how voter ID laws are
designed to intimidate minorities from voting. Now, we have hard new
numbers to back it up. A new study shows 73 percent of young black voters
and 61 percent of young Latino voters were asked to show photo ID. That`s
compared to just 51 percent of young white voters. This is what happens
when you put up threatening billboards in minority neighborhoods trying to
scare people about voter fraud. This is what happens when right-wing poll
watchers compare themselves to the police.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL OUREN, "TRUE THE VOTE" PRESIDENT: For any of you that have seen
qualified, capable poll observers in action, it`s kind of like driving
down the road and looking up in that rear-view mirror and seeing that
there`s an officer of the law following you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Voters shouldn`t have to feel like the police are following
them. They shouldn`t feel like their rights are under attack. This year,
nine more states are moving forward with new voter ID laws, claiming
they`re needed to stop fraud. As we`ve reported, widespread voter fraud is
a myth. But voter intimidation is all too real. It`s why we need to
fight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Get ready. It`s that time again. Time for the conservative
party of the year. The annual political conference CPAC. It kicks off
tomorrow with appearances by the party`s best and brightest. Everyone will
be gossiping about the straw poll. There`s a Ronald Reagan award and a
Charlton Heston courage under fire award. Anyone who`s anyone will be
there. It`s a big deal. Which brings me to the most pressing question of
the night. What will they wear? Or, more importantly, what should they
not wear?

A conservative publicist and blogger has created a helpful do`s and don`ts
guide for the big party. Here`s what`s off-limits. Sorry, Mitch
McConnell, no halter tops. Sarah Palin, better leave those ugg boats at
home. And Paul Ryan, no dressy shorts, I don`t care how much you want to
show off that P-90x. So, maybe the conference could use a makeover. But
the problem isn`t their dress code. It`s their lineup. Who`s getting more
air time than the GOP stars? Like, save your Marco Rubio or budget wonder
boy Paul Ryan?

Are you ready for this? None other than Sarah Palin and Donald Trump.
Yes. This is actually really happening. Conservatives can`t get enough.
I know what the real problem is. It`s a party all dressed up with nowhere
to go.

Joining me now is Joy Reid and Dana Milbank. Thank you both for being here
tonight.

JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM MANAGING EDITOR: Good to be here.

DANA MILBANK, THE WASHINGTON POST: Hi, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Thank you both for following the POLITICS NATION dress code too.
Joy, Palin and Trump, what`s the message here?

REID: Well, what do you wear to a circus? I mean, it`s kind of difficult
to dress for it, right? You know, I think it`s another instance of the
Republican Party focusing on the wrong things. And I actually think the
only thing wrong with CPAC is the fact that I don`t get to go because this
sounds like the biggest party and the most fun ever, watching Sarah Palin
talk about the war on Christmas which I`m sure she will bring up, because
that`s the subject of her new book and she`s about making money, right?
That`s what Sarah Palin does.

They don`t have Chris Christie who is probably their most viable person.
But they do have Donald Trump, who is a birther. So, I think this tells
you that the Republican Party doesn`t feel that they have a problem with
who they are, they feel, yes, we got some marketing problems but they like
who they are. They like being the party of the John Birch Society because
they`re invited. They don`t want to -- they don`t want to reach out to gay
and lesbian people, because they`re not invited. This is the pear being
itself without the handlers telling them what to do.

SHARPTON: Now, Dana, when I looked at the time break-down, because I do --
Congress is not too many conservative ones. So you kind of look at these
things. And this is very interesting because it shows the mess they`re in.
Rick Santorum gets seven minutes. Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio get 11 minutes
apiece. Bobby Jindal and Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Scott Walker all get 13
minutes apiece.

How about this, Donald Trump gets 14 minutes. And Sarah Palin, yes, Sarah
Palin, gets 16 minutes. The keynote speaker, Senator Ted Cruz, for 33
minutes. And Chris Christie, the most popular republican in the country,
not even invited. I mean, this is unbelievable. Sarah Palin got kicked
off of FOX news. She practically got kicked out of the party. And the
reality show birther king Donald Trump, and they get more time than Rubio
and Ryan, Dana?

MILBANK: Well, Reverend, I will be there tomorrow. Wearing my shorts and
with a stopwatch to keep very close track of all this. I particularly love
that they`re allocating minute by minute. Because they`re fighting over
this increasingly irrelevant share of the electorate here. As CPAC becomes
less and less relevant, as the movement shrinks, it seems that all these
actors from the past want a bit of it.

But I think we should have some sympathy for the movement at this time. If
you look at the agenda, what they`ve got going here, it`s like November
2012, an autopsy, should we shoot all the consultants? What the other side
has learned and we haven`t. These are the kinds of topics for discussion
this week. So, I think we should speak in hushed tones and realize that
this is a sick party and a sick movement that needs our sympathy.

SHARPTON: Joy, what is the time allotments tell you?

REID: Well, first of all, it tells me that I`m not sure Marco Rubio is
going to have enough time to do all 16 bars of the rap song that I`m sure
he`s composed now that he`s our preeminent hip-hop fan in politics.

SHARPTON: Right.

REID: I think it tells you who is more popular. This directly, you can
see that Sarah Palin is exactly twice as popular as Rick Santorum, someone
who actually ran for president and had a shot. You have someone like Paul
Ryan, who`s writing their Ayn Rand budget, but he`s about half as popular
as Donald Trump. I don`t know that they`re irrelevant. Because I really
do think at the base of the Republican Party, of the conservative movement,
this is where the energy, it`s with Rand Paul, it`s with the Paulite
movement, it`s with the Palinites.

They are the energy but the smart people in the party, the political people
have always manage to get these folks to go along with them at election
time with their Mitt Romneys and their John McCains but they then want to
stuff them back in a closet after the election. These people no longer
want to be in the closet, they want to be out front.

SHARPTON: Now, let me show you, Dana, what`s going to be -- let me give
you a sample of what you and your short pants are going to see tomorrow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, ENTREPRENEUR: All I want to do is see this guy`s birth
certificate.

Perhaps it`s going to say Hawaii. Perhaps it`s going to say Kenya.

SARAH PALIN, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: It doesn`t matter if that person has
national-level experience or not, they`re going to get clobbered by the
lame stream media who does not like the conservative message.

RICK SANTORUM, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t want to make light -
- people`s lives better by giving them somebody else`s money.

GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: Leave free or die, victory or death, bring it.
Sorry. Oops.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: There you go, Dana.

MILBANK: It`s enough, Reverend, to make me pull off my halter top and
throw it at the stage. It`s going to be quite a show and I look forward to
reporting back.

SHARPTON: Now, Joy, in all sincerity, you know, we mentioned Senator Ted
Cruz, the keynote speaker. And he`s been getting a lot of attention for
being a political bomb-thrower.

REID: Right.

SHARPTON: In fact, he`s called the president radical. Just today he
called for Obamacare to be repealed. And later, at a press conference, he
even threatened a government shut-down. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I think it`s the right position for Republicans
to be taking. And I think it would be exactly the right decision to then
send it back to Harry Reid and President Obama and ask if Harry Reid and
President Obama are willing to try to shut the government down in order to
insist that Obamacare be fully funded now, even though it could well push
us into a recession.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, this is the keynote speaker. And still wanting to get rid
of Obamacare.

REID: Yes, and it would seem insane that Ted Cruz is fighting for the
path. He is the guy who is in the path, he`s trying to bring back the
McCarthy era in his general ramblings on Capitol Hill. But that would seem
crazy. If Paul Ryan, the tea budget writer supposedly the most serious men
in Washington who all the belt take seriously, wasn`t doing the exact same
thing in his budget, trying to get rid of the affordable health care act,
which is now signed off on by Supreme Court.

This is the party that is stuck in the past, they aren`t able to accept the
results of the last election. And you know who would love it if they tried
to shut the government down over this? Democrats. They are digging this
party`s grave and I don`t even think they know it.

SHARPTON: Well, I`m going to have to leave it there. Joy Reid and Dana
Milbank, special politics nation correspondent at CPAC, thank you both for
your time.

REID: Thank you.

MILBANK: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: It`s a historic day at the Vatican. We have a new pope from a
new part of the world. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: That was the moment today when the eyes of the world were on the
Vatican. When Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio from Argentina walked out on to the
balcony as Pope Francis I, leading the world`s one billion Catholics. Late
today, President Obama released a statement saying, quote, "Michelle and I
offer our warm wishes to his holiness Pope Francis. As a champion of the
poor and the most vulnerable among us he carries forth the message of love
and compassion that has inspired the world for more than 2,000 years."

Vice President Biden will lead the U.S. delegation to the Vatican for the
formal ceremony making the Pope`s installation. Pope Francis is the first
pope from the Americas. He`s the first to take his papal name from St.
Francis. The friar who more than 800 years ago took a vow of poverty and
devoted his life to helping the poor and the sick. In fact, Pope Francis
is known as a humble man of simple habits.

The AP says, he often rode the public bus to work, cooked his own meals,
and often visited poor neighborhoods. Francis is also the first pope to
come from the Jesuit order, an order with a long tradition of work and
civil rights in this country. This new pope has a unique ability to focus
the world`s attention on the sick and the poor. The wrongs we inflict on
each other and the rights we hold as human beings. Let us pray for his
success.

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

END

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