updated 8/6/2013 10:02:40 AM ET 2013-08-06T14:02:40

POLITICS NATION
August 5, 2013
Guests: Jan Schakowsky; Patrick Murphy; Ryan Grim, Michelle Cottle, James
Peterson, Phillip Agnew


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

Tonight lead, the shut it down party. Republicans are back in their
home districts for a long vacation after basically doing nothing. For some
of the far right, that means drumming up support for shutting down the
government and killing the president`s health care law. Republican senator
Ted Cruz is leading the charge.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: There are some Democrat, some in the media,
even some Republicans who portray a shutdown as a horrible calamity. I
think the term shutdown is a misnomer. It`s actually a partial temporary
shutdown. What happened was nonessential government services were
temporarily suspended while the CR expired. Now, that happens every single
week on the weekend.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Sure, it happens every weekend. Who cares if soldiers
don`t get paid? In the GOP world, shutting down the government is like
going to the movies. It`s the kind of logic that claims a shutdown would
actually be good politics for the GOP.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: There are a great many Republicans who are haunted by the ghost
of shutdowns past. It is received wisdom in Washington that the 1995
government shutdown was a terrible loss for Republicans and we should never
go there again. I don`t believe the evidence supports that conclusion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The shutdown wasn`t a terrible loss for Republicans? It
turned Newt Gingrich into a national laughingstock. It cost him his job as
house speaker and sent President Clinton soaring to reelection.

But these GOP extremists don care. Take house majority leader Eric
Cantor. He wants even more spending cuts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: But the house really
is the only one who has consistently engaged in trying to address the
spending problem, all the while keeping our eye focused on trying to deal
with the ultimate problem, which is this growing deficit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The growing deficit? That`s just wrong. The deficit has
gone down by $800 million since the president took office. That the
fastest deficit reduction since world war II.

The GOP agenda literally doesn`t add up. That`s why their big
challenge now is not on the facts but on how to confuse voters.
Republicans are heading home armed with a media kit called, quote "fighting
Washington for all Americans.`

They suggest lawmakers write articles in newspapers saying, quote
"every day I serve in Congress, I work to fight Washington."

The GOP brain trust came up with tips like use a camera on a tripod
when you hold your You Tube roundtable. At town halls, make sure there is
room for cameras in the back. And don`t forget to talk about the negative
effects of Obama care.

That`s their big plan? Bring a tripod, smile, and make stuff up about
health care? Republicans are living in a fantasy world. But their
extremist agenda could make millions of Americans suffer in the real world.

Joining me now is Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, Democrat from
Illinois, and Joan Walsh, editor at-large for salon.com.

Thank you for coming on the show.

REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D), ILLINOIS: Thanks, Reverend Al.

SHARPTON: Congresswoman, do Republicans really think they can sell a
government shutdown to voters back at home?

SCHAKOWSKY: It`s hard for me to imagine. And the question is why.
Why do they want to shut down the government? Well, I guess the way they
manage the house right now, nothing is getting done. It`s kind of like a
government shutdown since it`s the least productive Congress that we`ve
had. But what, to get rid of Obama care? The majority of Americans
actually don`t want the repeal of Obama care.

And it`s so cynical. It`s really kind of a malpractice, political
malpractice that they`re going into. They`re going to be spending their
summer not only talking about how we should shut down the government, but
that we should repeal -- continue to repeal Obama care after 40 votes.

And you know, half of all adults have a preexisting condition that
will go away in terms of insurance coverage on January 1st. I mean, what a
blessing that is for sick Americans, for people who are walking around
uninsured or underinsured. It`s really not only sabotage, but really
malpractice.

SHARPTON: Now, you know, Joan, the former Senator Jim DeMint, who is
now heading the Heritage Foundation.

JOAN WALSH, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, SALON.COM: Yes.

SHARPTON: He says this is the last chance to stop Obama care. Watch
this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM DEMINT, PRESIDENT, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: This is a very
destructive law that is going to hurt our country. It`s going to hurt a
lot of people. This may be the last opportunity to stop it. We need to
fund the government. But we should not fund Obama care.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: We should not fund Obama care, Joan. We are talking about
real people, with preexisting conditions, real young people that are now
being covered up to 26 years old. On the ground, millions of people will
have opportunities for health insurance that would not have had it. And he
is talking about this is our last chance to stop it. And he is being
backed or at least supported by people like Senator Cruz that say shut the
government down as a way of stopping it.

WALSH: Well, right Reverend Al. I mean, I think that there is a
callousness, and there is also I think a fear that the more of the
provisions of Obama care that take effect, the more popular it`s going to
be. As these protections kick in and people see what, you know, a
complicated and sometimes confusing bill actually accomplishes, they`re
going to like it. And they already don`t want to have it taken away. They
think it`s a waste of time to continue to try to repeal it. But the
Republicans aren`t listening.

What I think was very interesting this weekend is I think we were
really on the verge of a kind of potential civil war within the Republican
Party, because even in that interview and the interview with Eric Cantor,
Chris Wallace is really pushing back.

Now, every once in a while he does that. He`s got a solid news
background. He is not just a propagandist. And every once in a while he
cannot go along with the garbage that he hears. He pushed back on Cantor.
He pushed back on DeMint. And I think he asked at one point are they going
to shoot the hostage, as in, you know, taking the economy hostage and the
government hostage.

SHARPTON: Yes.

WALSH: You have got the Republican governors also protesting this
notion that they`re going to shut down the government because they are
closer to ground and closer to the people who will be hurt. But they are
also really afraid of what this will do to their brand, because voters will
blame them.

So, I think you are starting to hear a lot more panic on the
Republican side about these daredevil a nihilists who are ready to do this.

SHARPTON: Congresswoman, let me go to you on this so-called potential
civil war in the Republican Party, Joan is talking about, because she is
right. Scott Walker, the Republican governor of Wisconsin, he says, quote
"I have some real concerns about potentially doing something that would
have a negative impact on the economy. I think there are other ways to
pursue this."

And even Paul Ryan said a shutdown is a bad way to try to repeal Obama
care. Listen to Ryan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: With the
government shutdown so to speak, we are talking about discretionary
spending, just government agency budgets. But it doesn`t affect
entitlements. Obama care is an entitlement. Rather than sort of swinging
for the defenses and trying to take this entire law out with discretionary
spending, I think there are more effective ways of achieving that goal. We
think that we can do better by delaying this law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So he wants to see the law delayed, but he rightly points
out that shutting down the government would not stop major parts of Obama
care anyway. And that they are kind of misfiring.

But isn`t this really all about a lot of them not caring about
Americans, but playing to some of their tea party bases, Congresswoman?
Because they really would not impact Obama care for the large part. Ryan
is right about that.

SCHAKOWSKY: No, they wouldn`t. And I think Joan is absolutely right
too that the -- one of the reasons they say this is their last chance is
because people are really going to see how great the Obama care is for
them, and they are going to appreciate it.

But in terms of the civil war within the Republican Party, I think the
more sensible Republicans absolutely would -- are appalled by the idea of
shutting down the government, because it hurts them. Not only hurts the
economy, but hurts the Republicans politically. And also, there is talk
about once again holding paying the bills of the United States of America
on debt ceiling, holding that hostage as well.

I think these are suicidal strategies for the Republicans. I think
people want, even people who don`t agree with Obama care or with the
president want to see Congress do something for them. These kinds of
processed things, shutting down the government and not paying the bills of
the United States, these are things that I think are a turnoff to people
across the board.

SHARPTON: And, you know, I think, Joan and the Congresswoman, aside
from the politics of it, at some point, I think Americans have the right,
no, have the obligation to expect that our members of Congress and the
Senate will be above politics when it comes to things like health care and
do what is for the good of the country. We don`t elect them to just be
partisan players. We elect them to do what is best for the country.

Congresswoman Joan Schakowsky and Joan Walsh, thank you for your time
tonight.

WALSH: Thanks, Rev.

SCHAKOWSKY: Thank you, Reverend Al.

SHARPTON: Ahead, the man who vowed to make Barack Obama a one-term
president is about to run into a tea party buzz saw.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I intend to run straight over the top of Mitch
McConnell and right into the U.S. Senate, be a man, stand up, and put your
money where your mouth is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Ouch.

Plus, Oprah Winfrey`s powerful and emotional words about the legacy of
Trayvon Martin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OPRAH WINFREY, TV HOST: It`s so easy during this time, Trayvon
Martin, Trayvon Martin parallel to Emmett Till, let me just tell you. In
my mind, the same thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And we have a report tonight from Florida on the new signs
of progress on the stopping the Stand Your Ground law.

And a milestone in the life of Nelson Mandela, while today is a day
for all of us to remember.

And "Reply Al." have a question or comment? E-mail me. Friend or
foe, I want to know. "Reply Al" is coming.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Tonight 19 U.S. embassies and consulates across the Mideast
and Africa remain closed on the orders of President Obama. They will be
closed for rest of the week in response to a potentially serious terror
threat.

NBC News reports that threat came from the man who succeed bin Laden
as head of al-Qaeda, who wanted to do something big. The president has
taken swift action to protect Americans.

This shouldn`t be a political issue. But for the right wing, the
threat is just an excuse to attack the Obama White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A year ago the president said al-Qaeda is on the
run, and now we seem to be on the run.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Al-Qaeda on the run? We`re on the run over there.

RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you are looking
at it from a terrorist perspective, you say well, here is an administration
that is pulling back, that is timid.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The perception of a lack of resolve of the United
States and a perception of weakness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Now, some have criticized the closings as
running and hiding when the U.S. should be standing its ground, prepared to
fight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Well, looks like everybody got the memo. This is just a
standard right-wing alternate universe, ignoring the facts to claim that
President Obama has made America weak and Al Qaeda strong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Al Qaeda, in many respects could, be bigger and
much worse than it was ten years ago today.

DEMINT: Al Qaeda may be more of a threat to us and they were before
9/11 now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Al Qaeda is in many ways stronger than they were
before 9/11.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Of course, these talking points ignore a few inconvenient
truths. Like killing bin Laden and decimating Al Qaeda`s core leadership.
Shamelessly politicizing national security. Now a right wing specialty.

Joining me now is former congressman, Democratic Congressman Patrick
Murphy, the first Iraq war vet to serve in the congress. And Ryan Grimm
from "the Huffington post."

Thank you both for joining me.

RYAN GRIM, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, HUFFINGTON POST: Thank you.

PATRICK MURPHY, FORMER PENNSYLVANIA CONGRESSMAN: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Congressman, how can these pundits and politicians
criticize the commander in chief for taking action to protect Americans?

MURPHY: Rev., it`s absolutely disgraceful what they`re trying to do.
Here you have a president almost one year from losing four Americans in
Benghazi, trying to do the right thing. And you know what? President
Obama is damned if he does, damned if he doesn`t. I mean, it is just
frustrating because you have these -- not all Republicans. The right-wing
Republicans who are criticizing him for trying to do what is right at these
19 embassies to keep those American workers and security apparatus safe.

SHARPTON: You know, Ryan, Congressman talks about Benghazi. It
shouldn`t take the right wingers long or to use the embassy closing as an
excuse to resurrect Benghazi. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After Benghazi, these Al Qaeda types are really on
steroids, thinking we`re weaker and they`re stronger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Is that the lesson of Benghazi instead of
closing down and hiding?

SANTORUM: So this is to me a direct consequence from what we saw in
Benghazi.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So they want it both ways, Ryan. If he closes it down, he
is making America look weak and Al Qaeda strong. If he doesn`t, it`s
Benghazi. I mean, it`s like a catch-22.

GRIM: I think, yes, the most charitable thing you could probably say
at this point is that these people are confused.

I mean, it was no secret that there are soft U.S. targets all across
the world. That if you wanted to attack some outpost somewhere with
overwhelming force, you could kill the civilian officials that were inside
that building. That was no secret. And I think they`re also confused in
that they seem to be sort of projecting the kind of strategy that a nation
state would take on to a terrorist organization.

You know, a nation state might care whether or another country is
stronger or weaker when they`re deciding whether or not they`re going to,
you know, go to war with that country or they`re going to attack that
country. That`s not how a terrorist organization thinks.

A terrorist organization wants to attack the strongest country that it
can find. That`s why they target the U.S. we`re the center of the empire,
so to speak. SO, the idea that if, say, Liz Cheney were president and she
said some very tough things that Al Qaeda would then say oh, well, she is
really tough. Let`s get into the business of segway tours for a while
until there is a weak president --. No, that`s not -- it doesn`t make any
sense.

SHARPTON: Congressman?

MURPHY: Reverend, let me just say, Ryan, and I think you`re being
charitable, because they`re definitely not confused. They are singing from
the same sheet of music, and they are playing politics with our national
security.

And Rev., the worst thing about this is 12 years ago when President
Bush was on that ranch for over a month, and he got the intelligence
briefing that Al Qaeda might be hijacking one of our airplanes and
attacking Americans on our soil, which happened a month later on 9/11, you
know, all these right-wingers at are now criticizing President Obama, they
never said anything. They never criticized what happened. But now it is
clear they`re playing politics with the national security and the safety of
our Americans serving our country overseas and it`s wrong.

SHARPTON: You know, Ryan, when you look at facts, the list of
closings under President Bush that was made out due to terror threats, when
you look at that -- I mean, did Republicans back in that time think these
closings showed weakness? Do you have any record of that?

GRIM: I certainly haven`t seen it. You know, it`s very hard to find
Republicans criticizing President Bush at all before, you know, the
midterms of 2006. You know, after the voters spoke, then everybody came
out and, you know, Bush was the worst president ever, according to them.
And now, you know, now, they distance themselves from Bush as much as
liberals do.

But you`re exactly right. At the time they didn`t criticize him for
that, f a very good reason. It`s not a bad decision. If you get a
credible threat that people are at risk, you should take action to protect
those people.

SHARPTON: Congressman, Mr. Bush was your commander in chief.

MURPHY: That`s right, Reverend. And exactly ten years ago in August
of 2003, I was in Baghdad. And let me tell you something. When I used to
have to lead these convoys up and down what we called ambush alley in 138
degree heat because August is the hottest month over there they call it
fire month. We used to change our tactics all the time. We didn`t go to
the courthouse. We didn`t go up to the palace when we had to run these
convoys the same exact route, the same exact time. You switch it up. It`s
being tough and smart. Obviously, the Republicans who never served, never
got that message.

SHARPTON: Congressman Murphy, Ryan Grim, thank you both for your time
tonight.

GRIM: Pleasure.

MURPHY: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Coming up, Oprah Winfrey`s passionate words about the death
of Trayvon Martin. Her thoughts and why there is a major sign of progress
tonight in Florida.

Plus, Mitch McConnell has a major problem with the tea party and with
zombies. I will explain, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Republicans were terrified leading up to the last election.
No, not because Mitt Romney was their candidate, though that was pretty
scary. No, the GOP was spooking itself up over this.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)

SHARPTON: That`s right, zombies, the walking dead. And the GOP was
sure that they would flock to the polls to vote for President Obama. Just
remember what FOX News said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come November, these two million dead people could
be considered a critical voting bloc.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We found out that there were over 900 people who
died and then subsequently voted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A disturbing new report revealing that tens of
thousands of dead people registered to vote right here in the state we are
sitting in, North Carolina.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Without photo ID, I mean, let`s be clear. I
don`t want dead people voting in the state of South Carolina.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Democrat machinery is very good at getting the
dead vote out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Actually, Democrats were good at getting the vote out in
2012, just not the dead vote. There was no zombie voter fraud, just
another breathless and made up GOP scandal.

But it turns out while the dead weren`t voting, they apparently were
donating. A group of supporting Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell
is raking in the big bucks. And on June 3rd, $100,000 came from GOP mega
donor Bob Perry. That was nearly two months after Mr. Perry`s death.

Oops. Officials at the super Pac say it was all a computer mistake,
and that the money came in the day before Perry died. But where is all the
right-wing outrage over all the dead money? Did they think we would let
their hypocrisy stay in the crypt? If so, they were dead wrong.

Nice try, ghouls. But we got you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Over the last four years, Senate Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell has had one simple goal in life, stopping President Obama.
Remember this sad little statement?

(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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Yes, Senator. We think you would think maybe you want to
create jobs or boost the economy, or get healthcare to people in need, even
back home in your home state of Kentucky. But, hey, why do that hard stuff
when you can just attack the President for kicks? But now, the Senator has
a problem. After riding the Tea Party anger, he now finds himself the
target of a very tough reelection challenge. Ready to meet the guy who
just might send Mitch McConnell to early retirement. This is Matt Bevin,
an up and coming Tea Partier, and here is what he had to say to big
political rally and barbecue this weekend in Kentucky.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT BEVIN (R-KY), SENATE CANDIDATE: The people of Kentucky have had
enough of the amnesty. They`ve had enough of the bailouts. They`ve had
enough of Wall Street banks being build out while small Kentucky businesses
and pharmacy got nothing. They`d had enough.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The other thing Matt Bevins had enough of, Mitch McConnell,
and he is using all of the Tea Party`s anti-Washington, anti-health care
talking points to show it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEVINS: We hear a lot of empty rhetoric from Mitch McConnell about
ending Obamacare. Obamacare is unpopular. Stop talking about yanking it
out root and branch and start voting in the U.S. Senate to kill it by
defunding it. Stand with Senator Mike Lee. Be a man, stand up, and put
your money where your mouth is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Be a man? Woo! I know it was a barbecue. But things are
getting messy in the bluegrass state.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEVIN: I don`t intend to run to the right of Mitch McConnell. I
don`t intend to run to the left of Mitch McConnell. I intend to run
straight over the top of Mitch McConnell and right into the U.S. Senate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Almost makes you feel bad for Senator McConnell, doesn`t
it? He may need a new priority, keeping his job. Joining me now is
Michelle Cottle and James Peterson. Thank you both for being here.

MICHELLE COTTLE, THE DAILY BEAST: Thanks, Rev.

JAMES PETERSON, LEHIGH UNIVERSITY: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Michelle, Senator McConnell rode the Tea Party movement,
and now a Tea Partier wants to kick him out of office.

COTTLE: Exactly. You have increasingly on the Senate side what
you`ve been seeing on the house side. You know, the party has taken the
Tea Party energy to gain some seats, but now their biggest concern is that
incumbents are going to face an attack from the right. So this is what
McConnell is reaping, and it`s going to be very interesting to see how he
walks this line, because at the same time, he`s got a democratic opponent
whose getting him on the left. So this is a very, you know, kind of very
fine line he`s got to walk in order to pull it out.

SHARPTON: Now, James, you know, Bevin, the Tea Partier challenging
Senator McConnell, he had some of the Tea Party`s favorite lines this
weekend. I want to play one more for you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEVIN: He talks about the money he has. He brags about his war
chest. Well, I`ll tell you this. Mitch McConnell or Addison Mitchell
McConnell II, as he might be known, there was another guy that had a war
chest. His name was King George William Frederick III. In 1776, he had a
war chest, and the people sent him packing. And we`re going to send you
packing.

SHARPTON: I mean, that`s like rig down the middle, James, to use King
George to right-wing Tea Party crowd. That`s almost not fair.

PETERSON: Look, that`s straight out of the Tea Party playbook, Rev.
And listen, he is running to the right of Mitch McConnell, and he is doing
it by the Tea Party playbook. You know, this is what is interesting. You
know, the Republicans love the energy of the Tea Party. Remember, they
also love some of the dollars that come into certain kinds of donors who
are interested in the policies and the politics of the Tea Party.

But at the end of the day, they can`t co-exist with them politically
because Mitch McConnell, even though he set out strictly to be against
President Obama, even though he has all this rhetoric against President
Obama`s policies, at the end of the day, in the Senate you actually have to
do something. And by virtue of the fact he tries to do anything, the Tea
Party is going to be able to politically outflank him on the right here.

SHARPTON: Now, you know, Michelle, the senator is not just getting
attacked from the right. I want you to take a look at and listen to his
likely democratic opponent.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALISON LUNDERGAN GRIMES (D-KY), SENATE CANDIDATE: If the doctors told
Senator McConnell that he had a kidney stone, he`d refuse to pass it.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That`s a great line there, Michelle.

COTTLE: It is. And it`s resonating pretty well in Kentucky. I mean,
Alison Grimes is polling pretty strongly. And you have to remember,
Kentucky is not say South Carolina, it has a lot of statewide Democrats in
office. Now, you know, that said, Mitch McConnell is not just any old
senator, he is the minority leader, and the party cannot afford to have
him go down in flames. And they`re going to throw all the money they need
to and all the resources they need to at this. But you know, as we`re
talking about, he`s got a very tough balancing act to do right now this
year.

SHARPTON: But James, what does it say about the Tea Party and the
Republicans? I mean, they seem to be all tangled up here.

PETERSON: Well, so the Tea Party doesn`t care so much about progress
and about policies that will actually impact the state of Kentucky.
Remember, the state of Kentucky is one of the states that actually receives
more from the federal government than it gives out in taxes. And so if
Mitch McConnell was trying to be representative of the state, he would
actually move a little bit more towards the middle. He would be supporting
the affordable health care act and those kinds of policies that support the
poor folk in the state of Kentucky.

But politics unfortunately and the money in politics sort of corrupts
this whole process. And that`s why you can have like a Tea Party group
that is small with a lot of money and a big voice shaping the outcome of
these kinds of elections in the way they have in 2010.

SHARPTON: Now, let me show you this, Michelle. Here is another
example of how far right the GOP`s become. A new poll found among all
voters, Chris Christie is considered the hottest politician in the country.
But among Republicans, he falls to number eight. So Christie is the top
republican in the country, but he probably couldn`t make it through a GOP
primary. How long will this last, Michelle?

COTTLE: Well, that`s the question we`re going to see whoever is going
to try for the next presidential nomination. I mean, Christie is extremely
popular as the republican governor of a very blue state. And he polls well
with moderates and independents. People like his independence and his, you
know, kind of reaching across the aisle on occasion like, you know, the
wake of Hurricane Sandy.

SHARPTON: Right.

COTTLE: But that is exactly what makes him kind of anathema to the
Republican Party which cannot abide any kind of compromise or
bipartisanship. And these days in the Republican Party trying to get past
that primary is a big hurdle.

SHARPTON: Now, you know, McConnell is not the only incumbent
republican facing a primary, James. When you look at Lindsey Graham in
South Carolina, I want to show you Nancy Mace, who is challenging him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NANCY MACE (R-SC), SENATE CANDIDATE: We cannot change Washington
until we change who we send to Washington. Our senator has a track record
of trusting this government.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Do these candidates, James, make it more and more
impossible to get something done in Washington because they force the
republican incumbents even further to the right, which also reinforces
gridlock?

PETERSON: That`s exactly right, Reverend. Remember, when it`s all
said and done, these Tea Party challengers are not necessarily going to be
so successful at gaining office. What they`re successful at doing is
polling and leading the Republican Party, at particularly these senators,
to the right. Now, if you look at the rhetoric of Senator McConnell, look
at the rhetoric of Senator Lindsey Graham, wherever possible they try
distant themselves from this President, they try to critique and antagonize
this President.

And that`s because they try to sort of prepare themselves for this
whole process of being outflanked by this Tea Party challengers. At the
end of the day, what has happened is the Republican Party has become less
and less representative because it`s sort of being controlled by a minority
that is very, very vocal and has big dollars behind them in a few of these
sort of insane challenges in some of these states.

SHARPTON: Michelle, does McConnell pull it out and win, or do you
think that we might be looking at the end of Mitch McConnell?

COTTLE: I`m going to go with McConnell just because I think
structurally and in terms of resources he has so many advantages. You
know, these days anything can happen.

SHARPTON: Michelle Cottle and James Peterson, thank you both for your
time tonight.

COTTLE: Thanks, Rev.

PETERSON: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, Oprah Winfrey speaks out about the legacy of
Trayvon Martin. You won`t want to miss her candid thoughts.

Plus, why today is a day to remember, not only for Nelson Mandela,
but for the world.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Fifty one years ago today, something happened that would
change one man`s life and in turn alter the course of history. On this
date in 1962, anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela was arrested by South
African authorities, charged with leaving the country without a permit and
inciting a strike. For the next 27 years, Mandela would be stripped of his
freedom. He`d spend nearly two decades in a seven by nine-foot cell on
Robben Island night after night were spent sleeping on a thin mat above a
stone floor.

He survived frigid nights and sweltering days. For many years his
only freedom from that cell was back-breaking labor on the island`s quarry.
On his release in 1990, he was greeted as a national hero. And despite the
years of pain that he endured, he spoke only of unity.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NELSON MANDELA, FORMER SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT: We need to unite the
people of our country. It`s as important a task now as it always has been.
Our march to freedom is irreversible. We must not allow fear to stand in
our way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The sacrifices of Mandela made change in South Africa
possible. Just weeks ago, President Obama visited his cell on Robben
Island, hugging his daughter Sasha in an emotional moment. Before he left,
he looked out the same window that Mandela did many times. The President
said, even when little sunlight shined into that Robben Island cell, he
could see a better future, one worthy of sacrifice. Today, we are all
grateful for the future Mandela saw and fought for after his 27 years in
prison.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back with a major development in the fight against
the stand your ground laws. A group known as the dream defenders have been
staging a dramatic sit-in at the Florida state capitol in Tallahassee for
the last 21 days. Florida is ground zero to the fight to repeal the stand
your ground laws. And these protesters are demanding the governor address
the controversial law immediately.

(PROTESTERS SINGING AND CHANTING)

Can`t you see, what the state has done to me.

They can try to break us out, now we`re marching into town.

We who believe in freedom cannot rest until its won.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Repeal stand your ground. Repeal SB 21. Repeal
zero tolerance policies.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

Because they matter. These kids here, they matter. To me, they
matter, to Florida and Governor Rick Scott, they matter to you.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

They may have won their first victory with Florida lawmakers agreeing
to hold hearings on the stand your ground law this fall.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now Oprah Winfrey is adding her voice to the conversation.
Speaking out about the legacy of Trayvon Martin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OPRAH WINFREY, TV TALK SHOW HOST: It`s so easy during this time,
Trayvon Martin, Trayvon Martin parallel to Emmett Till. Let me just tell
you. In my mind, same thing. But you can -- you can get stuck in that and
not allow yourself to move forward and to see how far we have come. Look
at how far we have come.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: She`s right. We`ve come far, but there is still a long way
to go. Twenty three states have stood your ground laws similar to
Florida`s. The time for change, the time for action is now.

Joining me now is Phillip Agnew, director of the Dream Defenders
protesting at the Florida Capitol. Thank you for being with us tonight.

PHILLIP AGNEW, DIRECTOR, DREAM DEFENDERS: Thank you for having me,
Reverend.

SHARPTON: Now this is day 21. Do you feel you`re making any
progress?

AGNEW: Absolutely. Every day we make progress. As you mentioned,
last week`s announcement that the House would take up a discussion and a
debate around stand your ground is a small victory along our path to
victory. We came here 21 days ago with a purpose of addressing stand your
ground, racial profiling and the school to prison pipeline. And I`d say
we`re about a third of the way there.

SHARPTON: Now the Republicans speak of Florida`s House of
Representatives Will Weatherford thinks stand your ground is a good law.
And I`m quoting him. He says history shows that strong self-defense laws
are important to protect the interests of minorities and victims of
domestic violence. How do you respond to that?

AGNEW: Um, I think no one in our organization or anyone in Florida
wants more for people to be safer, wants more for victims of domestic
violence to be safer. But history has also shown that folks make mistakes.
And I think stand your ground law is a mistake. It has a number of
unintended consequences, and we`re looking forward to the day when we can
present our case before our lawmakers.

SHARPTON: Now, republican Congressman Matt Gaetz, the criminal
justice subcommittee chair who will head the hearing we`re told, told the
Tampa Tribune, quote, "I don`t expect that the legislature`s going to move
one damn coma. If the members of the committee support changes, they will
be proposed, but nobody can count on my vote." How confident are you the
legislature will change this law?

AGNEW: Listen, we`re confident, and supremely confident even in our
argument. The political will around the country, the opinions around the
law have changed and shifted dramatically, so much so that the organization
that crafted the law eventually no longer will support it. And so I think
the shoddy legs that it once stood on and the house of cards that support
it are falling and crumbling around the law. We look for it, as I said
before, to having that opportunity to discuss it. And they may not change
the coma, but we`ll change a semi colon, a few periods, and hopefully erase
it.

SHARPTON: And the impact that it has. You know, Matt Gaetz, while
we`re talking about him, he also accepted your invitation to debate on
stand your ground.

AGNEW: Yes.

SHARPTON: Tell me about that.

AGNEW: I reached out to him on social media, and he responded this
morning in the affirmative. So I`m looking forward to it. We reached out
to his office. We`re looking forward to having a televised debate around
stand your ground. As I said before, we`re not afraid of any debate. The
young people the state of Florida are not afraid to speak up. We fought
for our seat at the table. We fought for this opportunity, and we`re
looking forward to speaking with Representative Gaetz about his views. We
both love Florida, and I think we`re going to come out of that discussion
with a better way forward.

SHARPTON: Now, Speaker Rutherford also had some choice words for
those calling for a special session, dismissing them, saying threats of
boycotts, union-sponsored protesters overtaking the governor`s office and
Hollywood elites disparaging our state and threatening the livelihood of
hardworking Floridians. That`s pretty harsh words. How do you respond to
an elected official dismissing the cause like that?

AGNEW: Listen, to be frank, young people, people of color are
dismissed daily by a number of people, both Democrats and Republicans. So
hearing that once again is no surprise. I know and I speak or our
organization and say we`ve received the support of many from both sides of
the aisle. And we`re smart. We`re diligent. We`re determined. We`re
disciplined. We came there with the purpose, and I think our record will
show that no matter what the issue, we`re going to show up and show out any
time the opportunity is presented.

SHARPTON: All right. Phillip Agnew, thank you for joining us. And
good luck on your debate. We`ll be watching.

AGNEW: OK, thank you.

SHARPTON: Up next, friend or foe? I want to know. "Reply Al" is
next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: It`s time for "Reply Al." Remember, friend or foe, I want
to know.

Doris writes, "I have a republican friend that said that Obama gave
out cell phones to all the poor people and is now giving them cars. She
heard this on FOX News. What`s the truth?"

Great question, Doris. The right-wing loves to hide this particular
untruth. There is no such thing as an Obama phone. There is, however, a
program to help low income people have access to basic telephone service.
It started under President Ronald Reagan. So, I guess it`s the Reagan
fault. And it was expanded under President George W. Bush. So I guess
it`s a Bush phone too. The same program also helps provide internet access
to rural areas and to schools and to libraries. It`s not funded by
taxpayers at all. It`s paid for by fees included in most phone bills.
Another republican fake scandal bites the dust.

Finally tonight, I want to pay tribute to civil rights lawyer Julius
Chambers, who died on Friday. Mr. Chambers was a brilliant legal mind and
an unsung hero in the fight for equality in education, 1971, his victory in
a crucial Supreme Court case led to the full integration of the school
system in Charlotte, North Carolina. Mr. Chambers` activism brought
danger. His home and car were bombed.

His law office and his father`s store were burned down, but he never
gave up. He argued eight cases on discrimination before the Supreme Court.
He won every one of them. Mr. Chambers was 76-years-old. We want to
answer your questions. E-mail me, askrev@msnbc.com. Remember, friend or
foe, I want to know.

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.
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