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PoliticsNation, Friday, April 12th, 2013

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POLITICS NATION
April 12, 2013

Guests: Lauren Ashburn; Dana Milbank; Nancy Giles; Joe Madison; Terry
O`Neill; Laura Bassett

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

Tonight`s lead, Hollywood squares, the Republican national committee
has invaded Tinsel Town to reboot the party. But, they are out to lunch in
la-la land, just as clueless as ever about why they lost in 2012.

Late today, RNC members unanimously voted to oppose gay marriage.
They are doubling down on prejudice. Isn`t that exactly what the head of
the RNC said they needed to stop doing when he announced the party`s
autopsy last month?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Focus groups
described our party as narrow minded, out of touch, and, quote "stuffy, old
men."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Narrow minded, stuffy old men, that`s a big problem. And
you know who the RNC is asking for help on that? A narrow-minded stuffy
old man, Dick Cheney. He was one of the headliners at this RNC meeting,
talking to them about how to rebrand their image.

Now, that`s funny. But the minority outreach, it`s a complete joke.
Yesterday the RNC held a workshop called "Growing the party, Working with
Minority." Working with minority. I mean, who talks like that? And let`s
meet another RNC guest speaker. Conservative columnist David Horowitz. He
wrote the book, "Hating Whitey and Other Progressive Causes." Nothing says
outreach like the author of "Hating Whitey." But, we shouldn`t be
surprised. This is the same party that let Kentucky senator Rand Paul
actually lecture students at Howard University about black history.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: If I would have said, who do you think
the founders of NAACP, do you think the Republicans or Democrats, would
everybody in here know that they are all Republicans?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

PAUL: All right, all right. You know more than I know. OK. And
that I don`t mean that to be insulting. I don`t know what you know and you
know, I mean, I`m trying to find out what the connection is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The GOP is trying to find out what the connection is. OK.
But they need to try a little harder.

Joining me now is Melissa Harris-Perry, also Lauren Ashburn.

Thank you both for coming on the show tonight.

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR, MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY SHOW:
Absolutely.

LAUREN ASHBURN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, DAILY-DOWNLOAD.COM: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Tonight, Melissa, let me ask you. Did Republicans flunk
those classes they took earlier on how to talk to women and minorities? I
mean, minority.

HARRIS-PERRY: Minority. You know, it`s funny. It`s like, you know,
I was listening to the Rand Paul lecture very closely. And it`s almost as
though, they have been reading the books and they were kind of excited
about the fact that there was this moment in American history when
Republicans were, in fact, the party of progressive, racial change. Right?

And so, they are thinking, OK, all I`ve got to do is remind people
that this label Republican used to be on the people who were for
integration or at least for full human equality against slavery, that sort
of thing. The problem is, we already read the books. We already know that
history and we already know the ways in which it shifted. So, the party
now is going to have to make a claim about the party that it is today, not
the party that it was in the 19th century.

SHARPTON: Well, you know, Lauren, not only read the books. I mean,
we talked to our parents, our grandparents, my mother, father, and bishop
were Republicans and I remember when they turned Democratic and why. So
when Rand Paul, let me show you how Jon Stewart did a stake on that. Rand
Paul talks to young black students. They know the history in their own
family but listen to Jon Stewart.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: We see horrible Jim Crow and horrible racism that happens in
the `30s, `40, `50s, it was all Democrats. It wasn`t Republicans.

JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: Right. But for the most part, the bigoted
Democrats in the `30s, `40, and `50s became Republicans post the modern
civil rights era because of it. So, you can`t just yada, yada, yada the
last 50 Republican years. Republicans freed the slaves, gave black people
the vote, yada, yada, yada, and now all blacks vote Democratic. I mean,
what the hell.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, you know, Lauren, in the `40s, the Democrats that were
fighting for segregation were dixiecrats led by (INAUDIBLE) and who were
later found out the term in family-owned my families. So, I mean, we are
all in the mingle and we know the history, Mr. Senator Paul. I think the
problem is that they don`t understand the history. The policies changed so
people changed part of their affiliation.

ASHBURN: I think the problem is, Rev, that they don`t understand
their party right now. They don`t know what to do. They are a party
without a soul. On the one hand, you have the Republicans, the Republican
national committee that wants to hold their bylaws, basically, down and
say, we are against this, we are against this, and then they have the
congressmen who have to run on these issues and say, wait a minute. We
need these independent voters. We need the vote of women. We need the
vote of African-Americans and so we start to see here in Washington a
little crack, you know. You have got Republicans now or Rob Portman
endorsing gay marriage. You have some movement on immigration. You have
some movement by Republicans on gun control. And what they are trying to
do is change their image but they don`t quite know how to do it.

SHARPTON: But Melissa, what happened to the autopsy? They just did
the autopsy and here they are less than 30 days later at the big RNC
meeting and they have forgotten all of the lessons of the autopsy?

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, look. I think part of the problem is it was
about style and not substance.

SHARPTON: Right.

HARRIS-PERRY: And so, you know, interestingly enough, if we look at
senator Rand`s speech and try to take it seriously, then, what it tells us
is that when policy changed, voters, particularly black voters, changed
along with that policy change, right? So, they supported the party that
supported their interest and when that party no longer supported their
interest, they supported a new party.

The story of that isn`t go back and now tell me who you used to be.
It`s about change or policies. It is about, if you in fact, went to
outreach, that`s not a style question. It`s a substance question. It`s
about asking whether or not the Republican party is substance that they are
prepared to govern for all people, not just for a narrow slice, not just
for the one percent.

SHARPTON: And it also makes people even more outraged when you look
at this kind of cosmetic attempt without substance, Lauren. It reminds me
my Auntie Rita (ph) used to tell my cousin, you can`t put on deodorant
until you bathe. It only makes you smell worse. You got to do the real
stuff before you put on the make-up.

And when you see the chairman of the Republican party, he`s against
compromise with the president after the RNC meeting. This is the one that
did the autopsy. Let`s look at what Priebus says. He says, when it comes
to compromise, I think our party has done its fair share and it doesn`t
seem like we get a lot in return. It doesn`t sound like a gentler kind of
GOP chair to me.

ASHBURN: Well, it all comes down to whether you`re going to get a
different pizza or just change the box, right? And it seems to me that
that`s the big argument in the party right now. This reminds me of the era
before president Clinton when the Democrats have really lost their way.
They lost three elections and Bill Clinton had to come in and center in
order to govern the country. And what the Republican party needs right now
is not just a new pizza box, but it needs a new kind of leader and someone
and someone who can make sure that those policies are reflecting the
changing times of our court.

SHARPTON: Melissa?

HARRIS-PERRY: I would say that the problem is that there`s an
institutional change that has made it tough to get those people there and
that`s the redistricting that they did in 2010.

SHARPTON: Gerrymandering?

HARRIS-PERRY: The gerrymandering that happened in 2010. So, what
happens is at the national level, you need a party that can be a big tent.
But, in these individual districts, they have stacked and packed. In fact,
congressional representatives who are running for re-election again right
now, they can pull pretty far to the right. They can say things that sound
outrageous because they are in these gerrymandering districts.

And so, I think part of the problem there is the institutional
structural reason why it becomes tough for them to do the work of coming
back to the center.

SHARPTON: Well, I`m going to leave it there.

Melissa Harris-Perry and Lauren Ashburn, thank you for your time.

Don`t forget to watch "Melissa Harris Perry" at 10:00 a.m. on
Saturday and Sundays.

And I think the Republicans meeting in L.A. is symbolic. Most people
that act, they try to make it in Hollywood. The problem is, they don`t
always do well with the public when the box office call comes in.

Ahead, a sitting congressman rolled out this bumper sticker today. If
babies had guns, they wouldn`t be aborted. Speaker Boehner, you`ve got a
problem.

Elizabeth Warren is hammering regulators for protecting big banks.
But what is Scott brown doing?

And something new happened to Michelle Obama this week and it has some
wondering about her political future.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Today, people couldn`t believe Paul Ryan`s comments that he wants a
country where abortion isn`t even considered.

Craig says, I want a country where extreme people are not in control
or in government.

Jamie says that rebranding the GOP has to come from, has to come from
the inside, from the soul of a person.

And Neil writes, I only wish the GOP cared about jobs, infrastructure,
the environment, and poverty as much as abortion. We will have much more
ahead.

But first, we want of hear what you think. Please head over to
facebook and search "Politics Nation" and like to join the conversation
that keeps going long after the show ends.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: It`s one of the most important and underreported political
stories of the year. A massive, coordinated attack on women`s rights.
It`s happening in the halls of Congress and in state capitols all across
the country. Last night, one of the party`s superstars, congressman Paul
Ryan, revealed exactly what Republicans want to do.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: We don`t want a
country where abortion is simply outlawed. We want a country where it`s
simply not even considered. That`s the kind of country we want.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Paul Ryan doesn`t want to strictly strip away women`s
rights, he wants to stop women from thinking about those rights. That`s
how extreme he is. Remember the first thing Ryan did in the new Congress
was co-sponsored a so-called personhood bill banning all abortions and
giving legal rights to a singles cells human embryo. These attacks on
women`s rights are essential to Paul Ryan`s world view and to the GOP
agenda all across this country.

Joining me now is Terry O`Neill, president of the national
organization for women and Laura Bassett from "the Huffington Post."

Thank you both for your time.

LAURA BASSETT, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Thank you.

TERRY O`NEILL, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN: Great to
be here.

SHARPTON: Terry, Paul Ryan with was clear about the GOP`s ultimate
goal last night. They want to take away all abortion rights, correct?

O`NEILL: Absolutely. And this is a man who, during the 2012 election
cycle said that he thought that rape should not be a reason to, and there
should be no exception for a woman having an abortion because he didn`t
think it would matter what the type of -- what the means of conception was.
As long as we have rape in this country, I think that taking a woman`s
abortion rights away is completely outrageous.

SHARPTON: So, he is saying no matter what the means of conception?

O`NEILL: Yes.

SHARPTON: So that, as you say, couldn`t cool for anything, that is
just another means of conceptions.

O`NEILL: Yes. He was specifically asked, don`t you think there
should be an exception if you are going to criminalize abortion? Should
there be an exception for rape? And he said it doesn`t matter the means of
conception.

SHARPTON: Now Laura, He said something when he was speaking about if
Republicans drop the tax on women`s health rights, his response was weird
to me. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN: That would only demoralized our voters. It`s an odd strategy,
I think. One that`s a cynical ploy which would be surely followed by a
thumping defeat.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: A thumping defeat, wasn`t that what happened in 2012?

BASSETT: That`s exactly what happened in 2012. I mean, look at who
voted? Women came out more than men. There was a 10-point gender gap.
Women clearly rejected the Romney-Ryan agenda.

What is interesting to me, you hear all these talks from Paul Ryan
about wanting eliminating abortion in this country and you never hear him
talk about eliminating the need for abortion. The U.S. has one of the
highest unplanned pregnancy rates in the developed world but they want to
eliminate the title 10 family program, and the GOP is defunding sex-ad
programs in high schools around the country. So, what are they doing to
eliminate the need for abortion? Because banning abortion isn`t going to
make it stop.

SHARPTON: So we are going to defund sex education. We are going to
pull back contraception and we don`t want any form of abortion at the same
time. It doesn`t really ad up.

And then, when you look at the fact, Terry, and you and the activist
groups like now having to deal with these attacks on women`s right, I mean,
look at what you are dealing with so far this year. States have introduced
326 proposals to restrict access to abortion. Ninety three approved by at
least one legislative body. In only three months Republicans have
introduced 326 proposals. They think this is a winning strategy?

O`NEILL: You know, they do, Reverend. You`re exactly right. It`s a
massive, coordinated attack on women`s rights. In fact, most of these
anti-abortion laws are not coming up sort of from the ground. They are
being parachuted into these states by the sister of ALEC. ALEC being the
American Legislative Exchange Council, the little sister of ALEC is the
Americans United for Life which has sort of stepped in and taking then
anti-women provisions from ALEC and is creating these cookie cutter
measures. It`s in state after state after state after state.

Right now, Virginia and other states are dealing with trap laws, the
targeted restriction on abortion providers. We have got criminalization of
abortion at 20 weeks, clearly a violation of Roe versus Wade in state after
state after state. So, it`s absolutely coordinated and it`s being done
because of the tsunami of right wing legislators being swept into office.

SHARPTON: And that is what is frightening, Laura. You talk about the
significant vote that women gave the president. But let`s not forget there
are 21 states with anti-choice governors and Republican state legislators.
They have a significant presence on the state level and they are using that
presence.

BASSETT: Yes, absolutely. And if you look at the way that the
districts are drawn in a lot of the states, a lot of these states where
there are anti-abortion majorities in the house and the Senate and the
governor, these people are a lot more worried about the Republican that is
going to primary them than they are about losing to a Democrat in a general
election because of the way the districts are drawn. And so, it pushes
them further out to the right. And I think that`s what we are seeing in
the states right now. They don`t give up on restricting abortion because
they don`t have to.

SHARPTON: Now, you know, when you look at this, Terry, just looking
at the laws that are attacking women`s health rights in 2013, Virginia
requires abortion clinics meet strict hospital building codes. Alabama
requires admitting privileges for doctors. Arkansas, 12-week abortion ban.
North Dakota, six-week abortion ban. Strictest law in the nation. Kansas,
the GOP governor, is about to sign a personhood bill in the law that would
criminalize abortion stem cell research and even forms of contraception. I
mean, Republicans claim there`s no war on women but GOP lawmakers are
trying to roll back abortion rights all over the country. And if this is
not a war, I don`t know what it is.

O`NEILL: You`re absolutely right, Reverend. If it`s not a war, I
don`t know what it is. And it`s completely out of step with the
preferences of the voters. You know, what we found in 2011 and especially
in 2012, the more that the right wing and Republican party went after birth
control, the more we saw support for abortion rights increase. In fact,
exit polling in 2012 shows that 77 percent of voters do not want Roe versus
Wade to be overturned. And even plurality, some 35 percent of pro-life
voters do not want Roe versus Wade to be overturned.

SHARPTON: Wow.

O`NEILL: Yes.

SHARPTON: Yet we know that some in the party, Republican party,
really want to see if they can push this all the way to the Supreme Court
and test Roe versus Wade and many of us are afraid of what would happen,
given this court.

O`NEILL: I`m very much afraid of what would happen. We know at least
four justices are eager to overturn roe versus wade and really hinges on
justice Kennedy.

Terry O`Neill and Laura Bassett, thank you both for your time tonight.

BASSETT: Thanks, Rev.

O`NEILL: Thank you for having me.

SHARPTON: Ahead, the first lady`s pivotal role, new role in the
president`s agenda. You won`t believe what Rush Limbaugh is saying about
her now.

And new fighting words from Elizabeth Warren. She`s standing up for
the little guy and speaking out against the big banks.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Remember Scott Brown? He was that former Massachusetts
senator who pretended to be a regular guy and like riding around in his
pickup truck. Forbes magazine named him one of Wall Street`s favorite
senators. Now, he is toying with running for senate from New Hampshire and
he`s giving a speech next month called from Washington to Wall Street, the
impact on over-regulation on hedge funds. And the speech is being put on
by an investment firm. That`s funny. Giving a speech on regulation to a
bunch of Wall Streeters. It makes you wonder what his old opponent is up
to in Washington. Let`s just say those federal regulators are sweating.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I just want to make sure
I`ve got this straight. Families get pennies on the dollar in this
settlement for having been the victims of illegal activities or mistakes in
the bank`s activities.

You let the banks and you now know individual cases where the banks
violated the law and you are not going to tell the homeowners, or at least
it`s not clear whether or not you`re going to do that. People want to know
that their regulators are watching out for the American public, not for the
banks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Wow. Those regulators are probably wishing they were
riding shotgun in Scott Brown`s pickup truck instead of getting grilled by
Elizabeth Warren.

Did you think we wouldn`t notice Elizabeth Warren making a difference
in Washington?

Nice try but Scot Brown`s brink banking buddies, but she got you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back to "Politics Nation." I`m Al Sharpton.

And yes, we are in black and white. We are going back in time to a
Republican vision of America where John Wayne is riding the range. I love
Lucy is the hit show and Frank Sinatra is topping the charts. Welcome to
the GOP`s world on guns, on immigration, on same-sex marriage, on women`s
rights. They are living in the past but, of course, it`s not the 1950s.

The country is changing. President Obama is working to move the
country forward on guns, on immigration, on same-sex marriage, on women`s
rights, and today, encouraging signs that it`s working.

In 1999, just 29 percent of Americas said our society`s top goal
should be encouraging greater tolerance. Today, that number is 44 percent.
The Republicans went from 18 percent in 1999 to 16 percent today. They are
more concerned with traditional values with encouraging tolerance.
Tolerance you can`t even find that word in the modern right wing dictionary
and the result is that the loudest voices in the party are those of
ugliness, viciousness, and intolerance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: There is a gay mafia that has
inflicted just a fear of death, political death in the Republican party,
for example.

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: It`s kind of like marriage when you
say it`s not a man and a woman anymore, then why not have three men and one
woman or four women and one man or why not somebody has a love for an
animal.

DOCTOR BEN CARSON, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: Marriage is between a
man and a woman. No group, be the gays, be the nambla, be the people who
believe in bestiality, it doesn`t matter what they are, they don`t get to
change the definition. So it`s not something that`s against gays.

REP. DON YOUNG (R), ALASKA: My father had a ranch. We used to hire
50 to 60 wetbacks and to pick tomatoes. You know, it takes two people to
get same metal star. It`s all done by machine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Well, we just went back to that Republican whirl of the
past. I`ve got to get out of here.

Joining me you now in this Republican world, Joe Madison and Dana
Milbank.

Thanks for being here tonight.

OK, enough. Get back to reality.

Joe, there is a shift to a tolerance, so why is it bringing out this
ugliness in the right?

JOE MADISON, HOST, MORNINGS WITH MADISON: Well, because they are just
unenlightened. Most enlightened societies throughout history become more
tolerant. I mean, we know that. People went from the dark ages to an
enlightened age and they became tolerant of change that is inevitable. But
the real reason, and people will ask, well, why do they have such a large
mega phone?

A lot of it has to do with the elimination of the fairness doctrine
that was in place from 1949 to, I think, the Reagan administration and
deregulating the ownership of radio stations and other media outlets. And
so, if you end up disagreeing, wanting to present the opposite side, the
reality is, you don`t have access.

SHARPTON: Right.

MADISON: And that, in essence, becomes propaganda. And that`s what
we`re dealing with.

SHARPTON: And it is the opposite of enlighten and the opposite of
tolerance and growth in the country.

Dana, when you look at the fact that today, today, congressman Steve
Stockman sent out a tweet and it reads, our campaign bumper sticker is, if
babies had guns, they wouldn`t be aborted. And the tweet even includes a
picture of his fantasy baby sticker.

I mean, Dana, you can`t make this stuff up.

DANA MILBANK, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Steve
Stockman is a very special individual. He was kicked out of Congress by
the voters after he was elected in 1994. But today`s Republican party
welcomes this sort of thing, Reverend. And I think the polls sort of get
to that. The country has moved on, but the Republican party is
increasingly becoming defined by this core of conservatism.

So, I don`t think it`s surprising that radio or television hosts are
going off in that direction because they are preaching to that same segment
of the culture that hasn`t changed with everybody else. So you`re seeing
things occur on tolerance towards gay marriage, towards immigration. But
you`re not seeing that segment. I think the Republicans, by embracing that
pure conservatism, not allowing the more tolerant element into the party,
are sort of heading for a marginalization.

SHARPTON: But doesn`t that really politically, Joe, help the
president and help progressives that the more shrill they become in terms
of their tolerance only makes more Americans understand how they can
identify with them?

I mean, Dana was talking about radio and TV people. Glenn Beck is
comparing the president to a French monarch and wanting that he could start
decapitating America. I mean, listen. Don`t believe me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLEN BECK, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I have a feeling we are headed for a
monarchy. Maybe in this time, maybe in Marie Antoinette (ph) and King
Louie keep their heads while all of their subjects lose theirs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, this is some way-out stuff, Joe.

MADISON: Let me speak to the bumper sticker. I`ve got a fantasy
bumper sticker, too. If men got pregnant, they`d have abortions in barber
shops. Make that a bumper sticker. Glenn Beck clearly, along with others
like Rush Limbaugh, have actually lecturing to black people about why they
are misled and should be members of the Republican party and the list goes
on and on and on. Look, the reality is that these are low-hanging fruit
people.

SHARPTON: Right.

MADISON: They are not enlightened. They are propaganda and the
reality is that Glenn Beck knows darn well that the basis of the foundation
of this country is life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and our laws
allow us to pursue that and in an equitable fashion.

So, if somebody wants to marry somebody of a different color, then,
that`s their right. Our same sex, that`s their right, and our laws protect
individual rights. But I find it fascinating how a man like President
Obama, who got actually more white votes than he did black votes,
numerically speaking.

And for Glenn Beck, let me tell you something. I think quite
honestly, and I will just say it. It`s a question of white supremacy.
It`s a question of they are worried about this change that`s coming to
America and they can`t handle it.

SHARPTON: You know, but I think, again, when you look at Beck, Dana,
comparing the president to a French monarch and is on every issue, race
issues, but gender issues, and gay and lesbian issues, I mean, I think it`s
a question of intolerance. And they have also fallen out of steps with
Americans on these issues.

Gun sale laws, 61 percent of Americans support the principle but only
37 percent of Republicans support them. Path to citizenship, 57 percent of
Americans support it, only 35 percent of Republicans. Same-sex marriage,
53 percent of Americans support it, only 27 percent of Republicans. So,
across the board, they are out of step with where the majority of Americans
are.

MADISON: That`s right.

MILBANK: Well, Reverend, Glenn Beck is correct about what he said
about people losing their heads and he is, of course, exhibit A for that
case. But, I think what you have got happening here is this sort of echo
chamber effect. This conservative core that has taken over the Republican
party excludes other people, it becomes a cyclical effect. The party
continues to shrink and then you`ve got people like Limbaugh and Beck who
are just preaching to the choir while the rest of the country is moving on.

SHARPTON: But the choir is out of tune, Dana.

MILBANK: They have their own choir. They are living in a parallel
universe where things are still in black and white instead of that
brilliant purple that you have on your neck today.

SHARPTON: But -- thank you for that.

But, Joe, I think the reality is, that you, it is the old thing that
you put a clean glass next to a dirty glass, people chose a clean glass.
The more they begin to cloud their own glass, the more people are saying,
Americans that may not agree on everything are saying, I don`t want to be
part of this kind of intolerance. I think that`s my real point.

MADISON: And your real point is well made and not lost, particularly
on their children. And I keep pointing this out. This younger generation,
you saw it at Howard university, you see it even among those who don`t go
to universities.

SHARPTON: Correct.

MADISON: These young people, your children, my children, they have
competed with folks of different genders, different races, different
backgrounds and, guess what, the country is still standing. We are still a
great country. And the reason we are great is because, unlike France,
unlike those European countries, we are a multiplicity of racists and
cultures and background and everyone has a chance to aspire to be what they
want to be.

SHARPTON: And we are learning to respect each other.

MADISON: Each other. That`s absolutely right.

SHARPTON: Joe Madison, Dana Milbank, thank you both for your time
tonight.

MADISON: Thank you.

MILBANK: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Ahead, first lady Michelle Obama gets political this week.
So what happens? They come out hammering her. But we are about to set the
record straight. My response is coming.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: It`s the final days of tax season and today the Obamas
release released their 2012 returns. The first family paid over $112,000
in taxes last year. That`s a rate of 18.4 percent. We know the
president`s all about fairness. His tax plan would raise taxes on high-
income earners, including himself.

These returns also give us insight into the first family`s charitable
donations. In total, the first family gave over $150,000 to 33 charities.
They donated $3,000 to the American red cross, an organization still
responding to the victims of hurricane Sandy, $5,000 to a Florida county
police fund for this officer, Bruce St. Laurent. He was killed in
September while serving in the president`s motorcade and gave over $301,000
to the fisher house foundation, a group the first lady visited just last
month. It provides homes for military families while their injured
veterans are in recovery.

Fairness and charity. The proof is in the tax returns for the first
family.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: This week, something new happened to first lady Michelle
Obama. She made a turn to politics and policy when they went to her
hometown of Chicago to deliver a speech on violence, calling for
commonsense reforms.

It was Michelle Obama, the activist. She was emotional and powerful
talking about 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton who lost her life to gun
violence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: As I visited with
the Pendleton family at Hadiya`s funeral, I couldn`t get over how familiar
they felt to me. Because what I realized is Hadiya`s family was just like
my family. Hadiya Pendleton was me and I was her. The story of Hadiya`s
life and death we read it over and over in this city and country this
country.

So, I`m not talking about something that`s happening in a war zone
halfway around the world. I am talking about what`s happening in the city
that we call home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So what happens? This happens.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIMBAUGH: This is sort of a distorted attempt at empathy. If she
goes to Chicago and she`s I`m just like you except a bullet missed. And
now I`m first lady and you`re getting gunned down. And somehow my
husband`s working on it. She`s trying to show them she cares. She`s
trying to show them that she`s not far removed from their roots but that`s
not true. And I just this is all about them. This is all about Michelle
going in a calculated way to exploit this circumstance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Another attack on the first lady from Rush Limbaugh. I
mean, does he even know how pathetic he sounds?

Joining me now is commentator and humorous Nancy Giles.

Thanks for being here tonight.

NANCY GILES, COMMENTATOR: It`s my honor, Rev.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you. Did you think this speech was more of an
active role for the first lady?

GILES: Well, here`s what`s interesting. I love listening to her and
I watched her during the first campaign. I watched a lot of her speeches
on c-span. And she`s always been so down to earth and real, I always felt
like there was an activist kind of flavor. I think this is ramped up
definitely. And what make this is so poignant and so emotional, unlike
what Rush Limbaugh said, is that she has a real connection to Hadiya. It`s
a real, palpable connection.

SHARPTON: You know, that`s what I question because obviously I`ve met
with her and talked with her a lot over the last few years. I`m not sure
that she is stepping out of her more laid back role in terms of being
expansive but she wasn`t as much policy driven as much as it really touched
her personally what happened to Hadiya in her home town, what happened in
Newtown, and maybe she says, I feel personally about this, I`m going to do
this.

GILES: I think you`re right. I mean, when you just think about the
fact that this is a girl that grew up very similarly to the way Michelle
grew up and she says it in a speech and I cried when I heard her say that
the difference between she and Hadiya was that, you know, she got to grow
up. I mean, that`s deep. And it`s so random these acts of violence that
happened. These senseless gun violence that happens. And I think as a
mother, as a human being, as a feeling person, a mother of two daughters
that she wants to see grow up --

SHARPTON: And see, that is key because I think some things are not
politics.

GILES: Absolutely.

SHARPTON: If you`re raising two daughters, that if you weren`t the
first lady, if your husband wasn`t the president, might be one of those
kids in Chicago.

GILES: Hey, man. Yes.

SHARPTON: I mean, you sleep at night and think about that, it may
make you get up and going to Chicago and make a speech like that.

GILES: Don`t you think? I mean, I think Hadiya`s school was a mile
away from Obama`s house. So yes, it can happen. Violence happens
everywhere. That`s another thing I really loved about the way -- I mean,
it`s a tragic situation, but it`s an opportunity to connect the kind of
senseless violence that happens unmasked, you know, in columbine, in
Newtown, Virginia Tech, with what happens every day in cities all around
the country. And it`s all death. It`s all senseless gun death.

SHARPTON: And the reality is that all of those were somebody`s
daughters and somebody`s sons.

GILES: Absolutely.

SHARPTON: Now, the politics of it is "the Washington Post" writes
about speaking more on controversial issues like gun violence could affect
the first lady. It says, and I`m reading their quote, "by speaking out
now, Michelle Obama risks being seen as leveraging her widespread
popularity to advance her husband`s legislative agenda. That would be an
unusual move for any first lady but technically so for Obama who has
appeared careful to preserve her broad nonpartisan appeal.: But maybe
something moved her.

GILES: I believe it did.

SHARPTON: That said, put caution to the wind if that`s what you call
caution, somebody needs to stand up and deal with this kind of problem.

GILES: I totally agree. And you know what, first ladies, they like
to call the things that they are involved with pet projects as suppose to
anything that is legislative. But, if you look at her work with military
families, hey, that`s actually about the economy and that`s about
unemployment and that`s about labor unions because a lot of our veterans
end up working for the post office.

And if you look at childhood obesity and her project with that, that
has to do with nutrition for young kids, kids being more attentive in
school. So, they are everything is connected to everything else.

SHARPTON: Well, I think that you`re right and I`ve really enjoyed
having you with us tonight.

Nancy Giles, thank you for your time tonight.

And let me say, Nancy is right. They attack this first lady no matter
what. Rush Limbaugh and that crowd, I mean, didn`t they become offended
that she told the kids to eat healthy when they came to the White House for
the Easter egg roll? I mean, that`s real controversial.

Still ahead, the far right freak out over the families of gun victims
making a difference in Washington. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: When families of Newtown victims came to Capitol Hill this
week to fight for change, they demanded face-to-face meetings with key
lawmakers. They staged an all-night vigil where they read the names of
every person killed since the Sandy Hook shooting. They were joined by
members of the clergy who filled the national mall with 3300 crosses and
stars of David representing the lives lost. All their efforts got results
with the key vote to move to the gun bill forward to a debate in the
Senate. But now, the right wingers are claiming they are just political
palms.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: It`s naked exploitation of dead
children and grieving families. It`s play acting. It`s feel goodism.

LIMBAUGH: The Newtown parents are human shields, in a sense. The
Newtown parents are out there to protect the Democrats from any criticism
to shut it down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Is it exploitation, senator, of the
Democrats of the horrific deaths of children?

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I think it is certainly taking advantage of
a terrible tragedy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The right wing is missing the point. This isn`t about
politics. This is about people. This debate is about 6-year-old Ben
Wheeler who was murdered at Sandy Hook elementary. His mother talked about
her commitment to the cause.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re just -- we`re not going anywhere. We`re
here. And we`re going to be here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: She will speak out again tomorrow when she gives the
president`s weekly address in his place. The debate is about Hadiya
Pendleton whose mother appeared and spoke out just days after her
daughter`s murder. The debate is about Carolyn Murray whose son was killed
in November. Her pain clearly evident when she attended the state of the
union.

These parents have the power to change the country. This week, their
meetings with lawmakers were raw, frank, emotional. Senator Joe Manchin
visibly shaken, was barely able to answer reporters` questions about how
the families affected the debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: I`m a parent. I`m a
grandparent. I just can`t imagine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: They have an impact and they moved the debate forward. No
one was manipulating them. They live on Main Street where people still
love their children. They live on Martin Luther King boulevard where they
still dream their kids will have a better life. They are not in the
beltway calculating what impact and effect will happen. All they want is a
better world for other people`s children since they`ve lost their own. And
that is what motivated them and had them motivate a nation.

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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