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PoliticsNation, Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

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POLITICS NATION
April 2, 2013

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

Guests: Angela Rye; Nia-Malika Henderson; Amanda Terkel, Krystal Ball, Abby Huntsman, A.R. Bernard


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

Tonight`s lead, a Eureka moment for the GOP. The cat came out of the
bag today courtesy of Republican senator Lindsey Graham from South
Carolina. He said in an interview, quote "any time you challenge the
president, President Obama, is good politics."

Good politics? And that`s why it`s so hard to get things done in
Washington. Republicans have been blocking the president on everything, on
gun control, on immigration, on gay marriage, on a fair budget. They even
opposed him on policies they used to support.

In the process, the GOP has made the choice to hurt real Americans.
All in the name of so-called good politics. If he`s for it, they`re
against it. And the president knows it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They have said no to
just about every idea I`ve proposed, every policy I`ve proposed. Even
ideas they have traditionally agreed with.

No, I`m not exaggerating. I mean, we had situations where they would
sponsor bills, I`d say OK, and then they would say, oh, well if you`re OK
with it we must be against it. It happened a bunch of times. It`s true.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Yes, it`s true. And thanks to Senator Graham, we know why
and from the first day he took office we have been seeing the blocking, the
ugly attacks, the smears. And the manufactured crisis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: Some have said it was
indelicate of me to suggest that our top political priority over the next
two years should be to deny president Obama a second term.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: So you did compromise?

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I -- we found common
ground.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Why won`t you say -- you`re afraid of
the word.

BOEHNER: I reject the word.

OBAMA: The reforms I`m proposing would not apply to those who are
here illegally.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You lie!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama, quit lying.

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Frankly, he`s -- he`s
in over his head as to what to do about this economy.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: He`s distorting
the truth. He`s dividing the country.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: This president and this administration
has either been guilty of colossal incompetence or engaged in a cover up.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: This is an in your face
nomination by the president.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I`m afraid that President Obama may have
this king complex sort of developing. And we are going to make sure that
it doesn`t happen.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: This is a lifestyle that is one
of excess.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I think President Obama is the most radical
president we have ever seen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that the Congress as a whole may need to
say hell no to Barack Obama a little bit more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: This is good politics? Really? Last I checked, President
Obama won the election by five million votes. And Congress`s approval
rating is at an all-time low.

So listen up, Republicans. Here`s a tip from Reverend Al. Stop the
senseless attacks. Stop the brinksmanship. And maybe that would be good
politics.

Joining me now, Richard Wolffe and Angela Rye.

Thanks to both of you for being here tonight.

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Thanks, Reverend.

ANGELA RYE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND GENERAL COUNSEL TO THE
CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS: Thank you, Rev.

SHARPTON: Richard, this is a huge admission from Lindsey Graham. How
has the president done fighting all this nonsense?

WOLFFE: Well, it`s not been easy. And I honestly think that there
are times when he`s struggled. Because let`s face it, they are only in
Washington, all of them, presidents, senators, members of the house are
only there for a temporary period of time. If you waste that time in this
kind of politics it may be good politics within the Republican Party, but
it`s not good politics if you`re an elected official who wants to get stuff
done. I think that`s been deeply frustrating for this president. I think
it`s been frustrating for regular voters. That`s why people --

SHARPTON: That`s what I was going to say. It`s not good for regular
Americans. How about that? Beyond the politics.

WOLFFE: Right. And that`s what makes it bad politics in the end.
That`s why they failed in their number one priority. Because it looks like
they`re just playing politics as opposed to trying to get policy through.

SHARPTON: And Angela, when you look at the record, I mean,
Republicans did used to support a lot of things prior to President Obama
that now they don`t support. They backed health insurance mandates, they
backed the dream act, infrastructure spending. They had no problem with
deficit spending under President Bush. And they were for cap and trade.
Now, all of a sudden, they`re against all of that because he`s for it.

RYE: Yes, Rev., they are. And here we are, you know, partially into
the 113th congress, fresh off of a Congress that was the most inactive
almost in history, and you would think at that point just off of sheer
pride and competition, the spirit of competition, you`d want to move some
things along.

But here we are in 2013 still playing hike and seek, cat and mouse, or
any other childhood game, tag, you`re it, with lives, the lives of the
American people and our economy and our future competitiveness.

At this point, not only can the Republicans not afford to do it, the
lives that they are impacting can`t afford the impact.

SHARPTON: But, I have to ask you this, Angela. You`ve spent a lot of
time on the hill.

I think the story here is not what they`re doing, it`s that Lindsey
Graham actually said it. I mean, for him to actually come out and say it,
is he that clumsy or that arrogant? I mean, are you surprised that someone
that has been around as long as Lindsey Graham would be politically naive
enough to think the public wouldn`t be out raged to hear him say this is
good politics?

RYE: Well, Rev., here`s the problem, right? There are people in the
Republican Party who wholeheartedly support that. There are people who
read that this morning and stood up and cheered.

You know, so it`s not that he`s not reaching a certain segment of
society. He really is. Mitch McConnell said that he was hoping to make
the president a one-term president. You just played a clip earlier with
Boehner saying he rejects the word compromise. So this is not a concept
that`s lost upon -- certainly not the Republican Party here in D.C. inside
the beltway, but definitely not some of the right wing far extreme parts of
their base.

SHARPTON: Richard, you know, when you look at the fact that, you
know, let me raise this -- put it this way. Media matters. Media matters
has a Pulitzer Prize winning Robert Caro about the right wing media
coverage of President Obama compared to how other presidents have been
covered. This is what Caro said.

I think today is something different. The venom, the absolute venom,
whatever we think is really underneath it all, it is something quite
horrible. You realize the depth of the anti-Obama feeling.

WOLFFE: Right. And this is someone who wrote about the civil rights
era. You know, and we all know how hot passions were in that period. You
know, let`s just -- even if we don`t go back that far, let`s look at
President Bush, right? Because Republicans listening to our conversation
will say, well, you guys hated President Bush. You demonized him. Well,
right. But what happened to Ted Kennedy?

Ted Kennedy had this long tradition not just being an incredible
liberal senator, but of getting things done. The big domestic achievement
for President Bush, no child left behind. All the criticism of it, Ted
Kennedy stood with him at the signing. Pushed the legislation through.
That`s how you get things done.

SHARPTON: But, let me give you the contrast. The Republicans have
blocked the American jobs act, blocked the dream act, blocked health care
for 9/11 first responders act. Refused to raise the debt ceiling twice, in
2011 and 2013, refused deal on automatic budget cuts, tried to block key
cabinet appointees, held up appointment of 47 judicial nominees.

I mean, I would be in hardball time if I kept talking about what they
blocked. None of that was done with Bush if it was something good for the
country even though a lot of us were adamantly opposed to Bush. People
like Ted Kennedy said we have to work for the good of the American public.

WOLFFE: Right. And look, even if you drop the rhetoric about what`s
good for the American people, they know, Republicans know, that this
president, just take health care reform which they adamantly opposed. This
president was giving them their policy proposal back on a plate. That`s
not rhetoric. This was a Republican plan for health care reform.

When you talk about entitlement reforms, when they talk about
entitlement reforms, this president has put them on the table. They should
take a good offer when they see it. That`s what`s perplexing about the
Republican strategy. It`s all short term and not saying what can we get
out of this president that maybe we wouldn`t get out of another democrat or
maybe we can`t wait for a Republican to add to get what they can now, they
drop that and said we are just going to take what we can, smash and grab
and see what happens in the next election cycle.

SHARPTON: In fact, Angela, you know from working the hill and running
the congressional black caucus, the president was putting things on the
table that many of us were outraged. Were angry.

RYE: That`s right.

SHARPTON: And no matter what he did, they turn it down till we
stopped getting angry at him because they weren`t going to take it anyway.
I mean, they would have probably weakened him had they accepted some of the
things because many of us were saying, no, don`t give them that. It didn`t
matter what he offered them. They wouldn`t take it.

RYE: That`s absolutely right. And now, here we are in a situation, a
couple of years later, where their governors are taking it. They`re
welcoming the help from Obama care, right?

And so, here`s the fact, Rev. You know, modus operandi that
Republicans are now utilizing is highly problematic. It is not getting us
anywhere closer where we need to be. In 2008, the electorate
overwhelmingly responded to change we can believe in because it seemed like
this president had exactly what it took to make compromises happen, to
ensure that he met people where they were, whether they were Republican,
Democrat or somewhere in between. And they are rejecting it hands down.
It just doesn`t make any sense. It doesn`t make good. It`s not good
politics.

I would ask Senator Graham to define good politics, but this may not
be criminal obstruction of justice, but it certainly is political
obstruction and it has to stop.

SHARPTON: Richard Wolffe and Angela Rye, thank you for your time
tonight.

WOLFFE: Thanks, Reverend.

RYE: Thank you, Rev.

SHARPTON: Ahead, O`Reilly versus Rush. The fight is on. And the big
loser may just be the Republican Party.

Plus, a wakeup call to Washington. Why this combat veteran now wants
to go back to war. A real face to the budget cuts.

And honoring an American hero. The first lady gets emotional talking
about Jackie Robinson`s legacy and his widow`s fight for equality.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: For us to be able to
sit in the same room as Rachel Robinson -- do you all understand, we are
here with Rachel Robinson.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Big show ahead. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Today, our facebook fans were talking about the first lady`s emotional
tribute to Rachel Robinson, widow of the legendary baseball player Jackie
Robinson.

Carl says Rachel Robinson is a class act and a superstar in her own
right, standing by her man and effectively managing and promoting his
legacy.

Lauraette says she is so amazing. God bless her.

Marlon says Jackie had to confront the blatant racism of America head
on. He is a hero.

Yes, Marlon, he is.

Coming up, we`ll show you what the first lady Michelle Obama had to
say about the Robinsons today. It`s powerful.

But first, we want you to join the "Politics Nation" facebook family.
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: Meet Jeff Marriet (ph). He`s a 39-year-old army reserve
and combat veteran. He served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The Web site
Buzzfeed revealed his story today, and it`s sickening.

Automatic budget cuts meant his paycheck has been slashed by nearly 27
percent. He was forced to get a job delivering pizzas. And when that
wasn`t enough, he came up with a new plan. Quote, "he would like to go
back to war." He can`t afford a forced pay cut. So he wants to go back to
war?

How is this happening in America right now? And it`s only one of
hundreds of stories we`re learning about today. "The Huffington Post"
revealed 100 stories featuring layoffs, slashed funding and school
closings. Right now, kids are losing their places in head start programs,
airport towers are shutting down, Medicare patients are being turned away
from hospitals. This is crazy. Why? Because it`s politics. Republicans
wanted these cuts. They fought for them. But they should see what`s
really happening across the nation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Nearly 200 kids will be dropped from head
start. About 20 different teachers will lose their jobs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you take away from our kids, and we have to
decide which kid gets educated, we don`t think that`s fair.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Control towers have helped to reduce the accident
rate significantly over the last five years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now since they`re getting rid of control towers
you`re going to see aviation accidents start to climb.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: The building behind me, last week it was
a food pantry that served 1,000 people each month. Today it`s an empty
building.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: The city community school board is
looking at ways to deal with the $300,000 cut in federal funds to their
school district following sequestration. As many as 30 staff members could
lose their job.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Military aircraft won`t be a part of
this year`s thunder over Louisville.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Economic impact on the city is sun
substantial. Over the three-day weekend Cleveland`s economy takes in more
than $7 million.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Military families, budget cuts and
possible furloughs only compound the stress of service.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I never thought I would be sitting on my couch
today trying that I have to sit here and fight for my kids` education.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Far away from the Washington beltway, this pain is real.
Washington, are you listening now?

Joining me now, an Amanda Terkel, a "Huffington Post" reporter who co-
wrote the report we just mentioned and "Washington Post" Nia-Malika
Henderson. Thank you both for your time.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Great
to be here.

AMANDA TERKEL, REPORTER, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Thank you.

SHARPTON: First, I want everyone watching to see the impact of these
cuts. We are scrolling the 100 local stories feeling the impact right now
on the screen.

Amanda, great report. What really stood out to you in your research?

TERKEL: Well, just that these are affecting places everywhere around
the country from Hawaii to rural Alaska to inner cities to the Marshall
Islands. These are everywhere. And everyone is talking about it. You are
hearing it in the local paper, on local TV stations. Where you`re hearing
the least about it is right in Washington, D.C., where people could
actually do something about these cuts.

SHARPTON: And, see, that is the real point that I want people to get.
Everywhere you go, you can hear it. You can see it. I travel. I see it.
People feel it. You get to Washington, it`s like there`s nothing going on.
When you`re around the beltway, in fact, you thought the research would
take a while. But you said, and I`m quoting you, what seemed like a
daunting task was completed in hours. Locally the cuts are getting a lot
of attention. Is this or should this be a wakeup call for Washington where
it`s seemingly not a priority at all?

TERKEL: In Washington, it`s treated as sort of a political game.
Who`s winning the sequestration game? Who is this going to benefit in the
next election season? But around the country, that`s not how it`s being
talked about. It`s being talked about, will I have a job tomorrow? Will
my kid be able to go to head start? Will I be able to get the unemployment
benefits that I was promised? Will my kids be able to go to a school for a
five-day week instead of a four-day week as Fort Bragg in North Carolina is
considering.

So, around the country this is very real. The people I talked to were
just confused why Washington isn`t addressing these cuts and why they seem
to be the new normal.

SHARPTON: You know, Nia-Malika, you are one of the few Washington
reporters that don`t live in some bubble that understand what`s going on.
And let me bring this to you. Head start programs in Indiana is an
example. They`re actually using random drawings to decide which low income
preschoolers will get kicked out.

Watch this, Nia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Head start has made a big difference in
4-year-old sage. How he plays with other kids. How he`s advanced
academically.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m very proud of him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: But Alice just learned her son soon has
to stay home. He`s being cut from the program as the result of federal
budget cuts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was heartbroken because he loves school.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Earlier this week staff put all the
kids` names in a fish bowl. Names picked get to stay. The rest have to
leave the program.

What happened?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His name didn`t get picked.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Sage`s last day is March 15th. He and
16 other children in Columbus will be placed on a waiting list for next
year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t know how I`m going to tell him he`s not
going back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Families now losing their child`s head
start.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Nia-Malika, we are looking at children, not Republicans,
not Democrats, not conservatives, not liberals, children. And a mother
standing there with tears in her eyes relieved that he wasn`t picked this
time. I mean, how do we do this to children, Nia-Malika?

HENDERSON: Well, you know, I think one of the things we`re going to
see happen this week is that Senators and Congress folks are back in their
home districts. They are likely going to see these local reports on their
local news stations and in their local papers and likely here from folks
who are struggling with a lot of these cuts that have trickled down over
these last weeks.

That was that was the point. You know, the president came out
initially and some might say maybe he overhyped what the effects would be,
750,000 jobs being cut in all of these furloughs. But now, we are finally
seeing the effects and their real world impacts of that people are having -
people are experiencing across the country. So perhaps this will be a real
week and a real opportunity for senators and congressmen to hear from folks
back home. And perhaps they will come back to Washington and try to
reverse some of these cuts.

SHARPTON: You know, Amanda, it`s real people that you talk to that we
hope will impact because of your report and others like this lady we just
showed that was talking about how she`s going to have to explain to her son
that he can`t go back. I said he was. His name was not picked, so he
can`t go back into head start.

When you look at Jeff Marriet (ph) who we mentioned, the veteran that
we mentioned in our intro, here`s what he had to say about his situation.
I`m quoting him now. "It`s a kick in the teeth. I`m 40 years old and
after working, what, 14 hours, I`m mopping the bathroom in the back of a
Papa John`s. And my car smells like failure."

He served in Iraq. He served in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Egypt. Won a
bronze star in Baghdad. And this is what he has to come to. Amanda, this
is not right.

TERKEL: Well, I mean, we hear a lot of Republican politicians say
that everyone has to tighten their belt a little bit because this a time of
tough economic uncertainty. But these are already people who have
tightened their belt. People who have gone to war. People who already
aren`t making much which is why they need a little bit of help from the
federal government, whether it`s through head start or through food
pantries.

So, these people already don`t have much to give up. So, when you`re
cutting their pay, when you`re furloughing them for several weeks, or when
they`re completely losing their job, that social safety net that the
country has been so essential to the country is now gone.

SHARPTON: And you know, the cuts don`t affect the lawmakers`
salaries, Nia-Malika.

HENDERSON: That`s right.

SHARPTON: They haven`t touched their salaries. The quote is they had
to reduce office budgets and some members have said they`d have to lay off
staff. But lawmakers themselves won`t take a pay cut because member pay is
completely exempted from the sequester. So while they`re eating a hot
fudge sundae, they`re putting the rest of us on a diet.

HENDERSON: There was some debate about whether or not they should
take a pay cut. And obviously, that didn`t happen. So they are in some
ways not affected by this in the way that most people are. And one of the
things I think you`re going to see in a lot of these states is they`re
going to get their unemployment numbers back. You know, in the next couple
of weeks. They`re going to see a real impact.

The less money that people have in their pockets, the less money they
have to spend and that effects of the economy. We have now a very fragile
recovery going on in this country. And when you suck that much money out
of the economy, it does real damage.

Republicans, they claim that they wanted this to happen while
acknowledging the real pain it would cause. So it`ll be interesting to see
if going forward if Republicans and Democrats can work something out around
these cuts as people start to face real problems going into the summer
months, especially.

SHARPTON: As you said, try to work something out. Let us not forget,
the president offered a balanced approach to avoid this. And Republicans
said no. They didn`t want any kind of approach, balanced or, in my
opinion, some of it was over the line in their favor, didn`t want to do it.

Amanda Terkel and Nia-Malika Henderson, thank you both for your time.

HENDERSON: Thank you.

TERKEL: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, a war has erupted. It`s Bill O`Reilly against Rush
Limbaugh. And it`s revealing what`s really going on in the Republican
Party.

And a massive oil spill floods one residential neighborhood. You will
not believe what a FOX contributor is saying.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: If Republicans had their way, private companies would run
just about everything in the country. And I mean everything.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STUART VARNEY, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK: However, you`re not going to say
that it would be appropriate for, say, Exxon Mobil to sponsor Yellowstone
National Park.

MONICA CROWLEY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, why not?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Sure. Why not? Just have an oil company sponsor one of
our nation`s most beautiful national parks. Listen, I can tell you when
someone`s joking around. And that`s clearly what FOX contributor Monica
Crowley was doing there. Right?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Why not? Now, there are certain things --

VARNEY: Wait. Yellowstone? Brought to you by Exxon Mobil. Come on,
come on, answer the question. Yellowstone brought to you by Exxon Mobil.

CROWLEY: Where in the constitution does it say federal government has
to pay for X, Y and Z?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Yes. Why not? Sounds like a great idea. Except there`s
this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The smell is unbelievable. I mean, look.
Incredible. And that is oil.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Yep. That is oil. That is oil that spilled from an Exxon
pipeline in Arkansas just this week. The company says it`s already removed
at least 12,000 barrels of oil and water from the Arkansas spill. It`s not
a scene we`d like to see repeated anywhere. Much less in a national park.
But back to my pal at FOX. She`d have no problem with an Exxon sign going
up in Yellowstone?

She doesn`t think it`s worth it for the federal government to protect
national treasures like old faithful. And she wouldn`t mind seeing this
kind of park ranger? Do our friends on the Right think any corporate
sponsorship would go too far?

CROWLEY: Free market solves everything, Stuart.

VARNEY: Meat inspections brought to you by the makers of spam.

CROWLEY: Well, that may be a bit too far.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Glad to know they draw the line somewhere. But did they
think we wouldn`t point out the problem with their slick logic? Nice try.
But we got you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The Right is at war. The Tea Party against the
establishment. Karl Rove taking on Sarah Palin. But the biggest fight
right now in the party is between its two biggest media stars. Bill
O`Reilly and Rush Limbaugh. And their feud shows just how divided the GOP
is on issue after issue. They`re not on the same page. It`s the case on
gay marriage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: The compelling argument is on the
side of homosexuals.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Mm-hmm.

O`REILLY: That`s where the compelling argument is. We`re Americans.
We just want to be treated like everybody else. And the other side hasn`t
been able to do anything but thump the bible.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: You were -- you were sort of
marginalized on the factor as not having a compelling argument and just
being a bunch of bible thumpers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Wow. Seems like Limbaugh took O`Reilly`s comments
personally. It`s the same thing on gun control.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O`REILLY: There has to be some kind of middle ground. Does anybody
need an AR-15? Do we need that?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It is a compelling argument. Right, Mr. Limbaugh?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIMBAUGH: Blaming guns for murder is like blaming forks for obesity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Huh? Well, maybe they`ll be on the same page when it comes
to immigration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O`REILLY: There`s got to be some kind of policy that`s fair and
doesn`t punish innocent people whose parents dragged them here or something
like that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He`s not exactly an immigration advocate but sure a lot
more open minded than this guy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIMBAUGH: Has the CDC ever published a story about the dangers of
catching diseases when you sleep with illegal aliens? Some people would
say we`re already under attack by aliens. Not space aliens, but illegal
aliens.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: On issue after issue, these two are at odds. But their
feud is just another example of a party whose message is all over the
place.

Joining me now, Krystal Ball and Abby Huntsman. Thank you both for
being on the show.

ABBY HUNTSMAN, HOST, HUFFPOST LIVE: Thanks for having us, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Krystal, there`s a serious point here. This split is part
of the civil war going on in the GOP right now. Do you agree?

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC "THE CYCLE" CO-HOST: I absolutely agree. I
mean, think O`Reilly and Limbaugh are interesting proxies for the debate --
at large that is going on with the Republican Party. And for Limbaugh,
it`s no surprise that he`s sort of trying to hold on to those old
positions. Not only does he, as he always does, see his market
opportunity, this is his niche, this is who he needs to play to.

But in large part when the Republican Party is talking about a
rebranding, they are talking about rebranding themselves away from thinkers
like Rush Limbaugh. I mean, he has been mentioned specifically in some
instances, particularly the kind of offensive language that he`s used
towards women. So, of course, he is not on board with any sort of
Republican Party rebranding. Because that erodes his power that he`s held
for decades now.

SHARPTON: Abby, you know this crowd pretty well. The Daily Beast
wrote about this particular split in the party, Rush against O`Reilly. The
article says Limbaugh and O`Reilly both see themselves as four star
generals in the American culture wars. The difference is that Limbaugh
launches kamikaze missions. O`Reilly never yells charge unless he has the
infantry masked on his side. Is that an accurate description to you?

HUNTSMAN: That`s a pretty accurate description. I mean, Krystal, you
bring up a good point. And that Rush Limbaugh really has no reason to
change his tune. This guy has 15 million listeners a week. He gets paid,
you know, he`s on a $400 million contract. So, even if he recognize who
knows what Rush Limbaugh actually thinks at the end of the day. It`s all
business for the guy. Even if he recognized the party does need to evolve,
he`s not going to change his tune. Because he doesn`t have a reason to.

He doesn`t need to. I mean, he is making the big bucks at the end of
the day. O`Reilly though, he`s an intellectual. I mean, don`t forget, he
has his Harvard masters degree. This is a guy that really, I would argue
he is a libertarian more than anything else. And actually that`s -- he
represents the sweet spot of where the Republican Party needs to be
ultimately to actually be competitive again.

SHARPTON: Yes. But whether or not Limbaugh is an entertainer or
O`Reilly is whatever, the fact is that they impact a lot of the republican
voters. And, therefore, help guide the party. Doesn`t matter if they are
sincere. They`re playing to people that sincerely are infected by them and
do what really they inspire and incite them to do, Krystal. I mean, time
and again, folks like Limbaugh argue that the party doesn`t need change,
for example. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIMBAUGH: The Republicans are just totally bamboozled right now. And
they are entirely lacking in confidence, which is what happens to every
political party after an election in which they think they got shellacked.
They think they got landslided, and they didn`t. The Republican Party lost
because it`s not conservative.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: They think they got shellacked. Five million votes not a
shellac. It is just something they thought. It`s illusions. But Bill
O`Reilly proved that some in the ring wing echo chamber just can`t handle
the truth -- Krystal.

BALL: That`s absolutely right. I mean, for Limbaugh, a couple of
things. Going back to his whole piece of -- as being an entertainer, he
falls back on that when he says something particularly obnoxious and people
go after him. But the truth is, he does wield a lot of power within the
party.

HUNTSMAN: Yes, 15 million listeners a week. And this is the reality
of it.

BALL: And people believe even if he isn`t sincere, and even if he
sees himself as a showman, who knows how he really sees himself? His
viewers, his listeners rather believe that he is telling them the truth.
So, no, he doesn`t think the party needs to change. Frankly he doesn`t
care about the party. He cares about himself.

HUNTSMAN: I think he`s actually in a way you could argue he wants the
party to lose because that`s when he gets the biggest following. When he
actually has material to use.

BALL: Right.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you this, Abby, your father talked about there`s
a thin line between the right wing media and the GOP primary process after
the election. He said, I`m quoting him here, "I look down the debate stage
and half of them were probably on FOX contracts at one point in their
career. You do that, you write some books, you go out and you sell some
more. You get a radio gig or TV gig out of it or something. And it`s like
you say to yourself, the barriers of entry to this game are pretty damn
low." I`m quoting your father.

HUNTSMAN: He`s a good man, my father. And not too far off from what
we`ve all witnessed, though. But you have to give O`Reilly a bit of credit
here. Because we`ve seen him stand up for -- that`s why I call him an
independent thinker. He`s standing up for what he thinks is right, where
he thinks the party needs to go. And you know, as my dad said, I mean,
that was lacking I think in the last election.

SHARPTON: Well, you have to say, Krystal, that O`Reilly has evolved.
I don`t know if he`s all that Abby says. But when you look at what he says
now about gay marriage and -- and what I played earlier, and the fact of
what he used to say, he used to claim that gay marriage would lead to
plural marriages. To people marrying goats or marrying ducks or turtles or
dolphins. He even argued it would cause the abolition of marriage. So
he`s come a long way.

BALL: Yes. And I think he`s interesting as a weathervane. You know,
he is not leading the charge on these issues. He`s following where public
opinion has gone. He is following behind the curve so as not to fall
behind himself.

HUNTSMAN: But he`s a businessman as well. And he knows that he has
to do that.

BALL: I mean, he`s a politician in a way. You know, he`s testing --
testing the breeze and seeing where he should be on any given day. I think
that`s where his evolution comes from.

SHARPTON: But let me ask you this ad, you know, Senator Mark Kirk
came out today, second republican, come out to back gay marriage. Now it`s
50 senators that`s backing gay marriage. Why aren`t some of the talkers
evolving on this issue like Bill O`reilly seems to be evolving?

HUNTSMAN: We talk about this a lot, Reverend, on your show. Rush
Limbaugh, for example, he represents the religious right. And the
religious right, I mean, no matter how much the country evolves on gay
marriage, we`re seeing more of the country`s evolving it seems every day,
they`re not going to budge. Because it`s really difficult to separate your
religious views with your political views.

To say, you know, you`re go to church on Sunday, you say, you know, we
don`t believe in gay marriage. How can I actually say that I support gay
marriage politically? It`s a really hard thing to separate. The party
right now we`re seeing is struggling with that right now.

SHARPTON: Well, but going to church on Sunday, I go to church and
preach on Sundays. That does not mean I think the church ought to run the
state.

HUNTSMAN: No, it goes back to separation of church and state.

SHARPTON: I think they don`t get the message American people sent in
the last election. But anyway, I`m going to have to leave it there.
Krystal Ball and Abby Huntsman, thanks for your time this evening.

And don`t forget, catch Krystal on "The Cycle" weekdays at 3:00 p.m.
Right here on MSNBC.

Ahead, news today on the GOP`s outreach for minority voters. Is it
for real?

And First Lady Michelle Obama honors the American hero known as Jackie
Robinson who changed the country forever. She`s getting emotional about
Jackie Robinson`s enduring legacy. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The Republican Party has a problem with black voters. Only
six percent of African-Americans voted republican in 2012 in the
presidential election. Elections have consequences. So Republican Party
chair Reince Priebus has a plan to make a change. He`s spending $10
million to outreach to Blacks, Hispanics and Asians. The 24-year-old son
of FOX News contributor -- of a FOX News contributor has been hired as a
deputy press secretary.

His job includes reaching out to African-Americans and young people.
It`s all on the heels of a nationwide listening tour of African-American
communities where Priebus traveled the country asking Black Republicans how
to diversify the party. On his final stop, he went to the Christian
cultural center in Brooklyn. Largest congregation in the city of New York.
And he spoke about his plan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Today`s
about listening. Today`s a start. I`m not coming here with all the
answers. But I am coming here with an open heart or an open mind. I also
think that we`ve got a marketing problem as a party that we need to address
as well. We can`t be totally obsessed with math and arithmetic. That we
have to -- we have to go for people`s hearts. Only time will tell if this
is just talk. But all I can tell you is what`s in my heart and what our
desire is as a party.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Open hearts, open minds, we`ll see if it`s real.

Joining me now is Reverend A.R. Bernard, founder and pastor of
Brooklyn`s Christian Cultural Center where the RNC chairman recently
visited. Reverend Bernard, first of all, thank you for your time.

REVEREND A.R. BERNARD, CHRISTIAN CULTURAL CENTER: My pleasure.

SHARPTON: Now, it seems that you and others feel this is a sincere
and real effort.

BERNARD: Well, I can say that having met and spoken with Reince
Priebus, that he`s sincere. Ed Cox, the state chairman, I think there`s
great sincerity there. But like you said, it`s going to take time. That
may not translate into Washington. And the leaders in the Republican
Party. I don`t know. And change is not an event. It`s a process. And
we`re not going to know whether this is effective immediately.

SHARPTON: Why do you think that most blacks have rejected the
Republican Party in the first place, and are they willing to address those
concerns?

BERNARD: Well, let me say that both parties, Democrats and
Republicans, have a checkered past when it comes to.

SHARPTON: All right.

BERNARD: .dealing with issues of African-Americans.

SHARPTON: All right.

BERNARD: All right? But there were key shifts that took place where
blacks left the Republican Party and went to the Democrats. And then there
were issues within the Democratic Party. I think the Republican Party has
to think more than just rebranding. It has to rethink its message and its
policies. You take, for instance, the fact that there`s a changing
demographic in the United States. People are less and less rural and more
and more suburban and urban.

Which means that they are in concentrated areas where government plays
a greater role in terms of services and taxation experience. Republican
Party has to understand that that`s an opportunity to bring the message of
lower taxes to individuals who are going to experience high tax situations.

SHARPTON: But what about tax fairness? What about the fact that when
you talk about lower taxes, you can`t lower it on the very wealthy and have
those that are in the middle class and poor pay such a higher percentage.
The imbalance just isn`t fair.

BERNARD: Well, you`re talking to someone who believes in fairness
across the boards. Now, I don`t know if that means a different tax
structure for those who are wealthy and compared to those who are middle
class and lower. But I think that the levying -- the playing field has to
be level and fair.

SHARPTON: When you look at the RNC outreach support, the
recommendations for outreach to African-Americans include hire African-
American communication directors, engage historically black colleges and
universities, reach out to the NAACP and other black organizations, hire
and promote more African-American staffers, recruit African-American
candidates. But they really don`t say anything about the policies you
mentioned.

BERNARD: Well, that`s the issue. They have to rethink the message
and the policies. You take immigration and what took place with George
Bush. Bush tried to pass a comprehensive immigration reform. It was known
as the McCain/Kennedy bill. Democrats were for it. They were supporting
it. But the Republican Party went against it and it died. Ever since
then, Latino voters have fallen away from the Republican Party in
significant numbers. They have to rethink that.

SHARPTON: Now, you spent time meeting with the RNC Chair Priebus.
What are your impressions? I mean, tell us why and what you think he is
really doing. What is this really all about?

BERNARD: I think he`s sincere in listening. But I don`t know if
that`s going to translate into the kind of action that can be measurable
immediately. I mean, you`re talking about spending $10 million. That`s
not a lot of money when you`re considering the need for a long-term
strategy to deal with the issue of the relationship between African-
Americans and the Republican Party. It`s going to take more than that.

SHARPTON: There`s a lot of debate, and you have agreed you`re going
to appear at our National Action Network convention this weekend and you`ll
debate some of the issues. And I thank you for being here tonight. I tell
people you`re the only one that I know that could have Reince Priebus and
me at your church within a 24 hour period. And you are very open about
your political affiliation. But we have always respected each other. A
lot to debate. We`re going to see where it goes.

BERNARD: And I think that`s what it`s about. I mean, Boehner said he
doesn`t like the word compromise. But let`s call it negotiation. Whatever
you want to call it let`s sit at the table and be reasonable and rational.

SHARPTON: Reverend A.R. Bernard, thank you for being here.

Ahead, the First Lady gets emotional talking about Jackie Robinson`s
enduring legacy. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed the cast of the Jackie
Robinson movie "42" to the White House today. The movie is a biography on
the Jackie Robinson story. On April 15th, 1947, he put on a Brooklyn
dodgers uniform and broke the color line in America`s pastime. Today, the
First Lady praised his fight and honored Robinson`s widow, 90-year-old
Rachel Robinson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, UNITED STATES FIRST LADY: I want to pay special
thanks to a woman that I am totally in awe of. And I`m not going to get
emotional. I`m going to say that now. Because, you know, I can tend to
get emotional. We have with us Mrs. Rachel Robinson.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And the First Lady wondered how the Robinson family endured
all that they faced.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: How did they do it? How did they endure the taunts and the
bigotry for all of that time? Jackie and Rachel Robinson`s story reminds
us how much -- how much hard work it takes to move a country forward. It
reminds us how much struggle is required to make real progress and change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Real progress and real change is hard to accomplish. We
have come a long way in this nation. Our first black president. First
African-American attorney general. But there`s a lot of work to be done.
Jackie`s story inspires us all. And reminds us.

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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