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PoliticsNation, Monday, December 23rd, 2013

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December 23, 2013

Guests: Clarence Page, Ryan Grim, Joan Walsh, Joe Madison, James Peterson, Joshua Dubois

REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: And thanks to you for tuning in.

Tonight`s lead, Republican`s grinches launching fist full of coal.
This week, as families gab that dinner tables around the country. Many are
facing extreme economic anxiety that could have been prevented is due to
Republican`s stinginess on key economic issues.

More than one million Americans face loosing their unemployment
benefits in just five days. For them, these are urgent times and it`s
shouldn`t be happening. Republicans in Congress are blocking an extension
of benefits even though they don`t even have support from Republican

New polling show voters in five GOP congressional districts support
extending jobless benefits despite what republican leaders say. That
includes voters and Speaker John Boehner`s own district in Ohio. Voters
know this isn`t a partisan issue. They know the well being of real
families is at stake.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s going to be tough without unemployment. It
takes money to get out there and go on interviews. You still have to
provide for your family.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it`s really easy to condemn people when
you`re not in their shoes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s going to mean that basically other people
will have to feed me and my family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s too big of a thing for me to pay attention.
Whenever I`m doubt, well, I know I`m broke again.


SHARPTON: Real people are hurting and the pain goes beyond extending
jobless benefits. Americans overwhelmingly support raising the minimum
wage. Ninety-one percent of Democrats, 76 percent of independents, and
even 58 percent of Republicans. It`s hard to get 58 percent of Republicans
to agree on anything with this president. But they back him on this issue.
And yet congressional Republicans won`t take action. This is why the
president is fighting to reclaim the American dream, a dream of economic


inequality and lack of upward mobility that has jeopardizes middle class
America`s basic bargain. That if you work hard you have a chance to get
ahead. I believe this is the defining challenge of our time.


SHARPTON: The defining challenge of our time, restoring opportunity
giving everyone a fair shot. That`s the f ahead in 2014.

Joining me now are Joan Walsh and Ryan Grim.

First, thanks to both of you for being with me tonight.


Pleasure, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Joan, you wrote an article today called the GOP`s sad
scrooge agenda. And I`m quoting from the article, "Will Republicans pay
for letting long-term unemployment benefits lapse? Only if Democrats play
tough." What to Democrats need to do on this issue, Joan?

WALSH: Well, I was saddened to see this not become a bigger fight
during the budget battle, but they didn`t think they had the votes,
Reverend Al. And so, we`ve sadly moved on and we have sadly moved on into
January. There are people who are sitting down to Christmas dinner trying
to shop for their kids and they`re going to lose their benefits three day
after Christmas. So, it`s very sad that it`s gotten to this point.

On the other hand, as you referenced, there`s increasing polling data
that show people support an extension of unemployment. And the Democrats
are on the offensive on this. Harry Reid has said he`s going to bring it
up. It`s going to be the top of his agenda in January. And I think
there`s a real shot to make that happen.

I think for a long time, you and I have talked about this, you know,
Democratic Party has been a little bit on the defensive when it comes to
poverty. Maybe that war doesn`t cross them of our lips very much. There`s
a sense we have to kind of stealthily help the poor. We can`t be up front
about it.

And I feel there`s a real difference lately. There`s certainly a lot
more support for economic populism in journal, but there is also a
willingness to say we can`t do this to poor people any longer. We can`t
make people`s lives that much more miserable. And I see a real --

SHARPTON: Joan, that`s the real point that I`m making.

And, you know, Ryan. Some people, some Democrats are being up front
about it. In fact, Democratic groups are planning to launch a major
messaging push into American lives rooms with TV ads over the Christmas
break about the unemployment benefits. Look at this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know who had a merry Christmas? The richest
one percent? Republicans in Congress made sure of that protecting billions
in taxpayer giveaways. And those facing tough times, Republicans stripped
1.3 million Americans of jobless benefits, folks who want to work but
cannot find the job.


SHARPTON: And Ryan, here`s what a new poll that looked at the five
Republican congressional districts found. Five key critical congressional
districts, Republican. If these lawmakers cut off unemployment benefits, a
majority of independents in each district say they would bless likely to
vote for that lawmaker and more likely to vote for someone else. That
includes Speaker Boehner`s district, Ryan.

GRIM: And that`s great, but you know, where were these liberal groups
during the budget fight when this could have mattered? You know, Congress
has left town at this point. And so, you`re going to have unemployment
benefits lapse. You know, if in the middle of the budget crisis you had
these liberal groups on the air saying this is the moment to save
unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless. Why aren`t Democrats
making a bigger deal of it like Joan was saying? Then maybe we wouldn`t
even be going through this.

Now, it`s terrific that they`re maybe such a big deal about it now.
And when they come back in January, it does look like there`s a decent
chance they`re going to be able to get it done. And hopefully it can be
done retroactively for people. But you know, you`re putting these people
through unneeded stress by putting them on the benefits, off the benefits,
back on the benefits. And then they have to file for all these back
benefits, you know, but --.

SHARPTON: It`s not only unneeded stress, but it`s also an unneeded
lapse in income because even if they get it back later, you`re dealing with
people that live in many cases check-to-check from these benefits. And if
they miss a check or two and get it later, that doesn`t help during the gap

You heard that man say we`re talking about people may have to feed me.
Literally this is what people are facing. When you look at the fact, Joan,
that minimum wage is also a huge issue. Two Democrats in Congress have
introduced a bill that would raise the federal minimum wage. It would
raise the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2015. And in the years after 2016, it
would index the wage to the cost of living. This is something Americans
support by wide margin, 66 percent support an increase in the minimum wage,

WALSH: Well, it`s long overdue, Reverend Al, and you know that. And
it`s got to be indexed as well. We`ve really seen the purchasing power of
low wage workers decline. And, you know, Democrats haven`t been blameless
on this one either. You know, I think it`s great that we have pushed for
expanded food stamp eligibility and expanded Medicaid for low wage workers
to help keep them out of poverty or out of the depths of poverty. Some of
them are still poor even with that help, but there`s been a lag for pushing
for economic rights and there has been a log in pushing for the minimum
wage and in pushing for expanded union rights which is really the way we
built the middle class in the 40s and 50s and 60s was that we had strong
unions that actually brought us wages. Even for people who are in the

So, there`s a way in which our good intentions in terms of creating a
better safety net, still not enough but better. Has had created this
situation where one in four workers now makes so little that they are
eligible for welfare. So, our ideas about the welfare poor versus the
working poor, often they`re the same thing.

SHARPTON: And what we`re talking about when you put all this
together, Ryan, is when the president was talking about when he called
income inequality the defining challenge of our time. And here`s the kind
of thing he means.

Since 1960, the bottom of the 90 percent of earners have seen their
increase by 22 percent. In the same period of time, the top one percent
has had an income increase of 271 percent, Ryan. This kind of gap, top one
percent increase of 271 percent since 1960, bottom 90 percent only increase
of 22 percent. This uneven gap, this uneven growth is all part of the
challenge of our time.

And as Joan said when you look at labor, when you look at what`s going
o on with minimum wage, unemployment extension of unemployment benefits,
all of this compounds this inequality.

GRIM: Yes. And that`s why I think you`re finally seeing this bubble
up. Because it reaches so many people that it`s now undeniable. So many
people lost good jobs in 2008 and 2009 and the years after because of the
financial crisis. And almost all of the jobs created since then have been
very low wage jobs. And you`ve seen this pressure to push people off
unemployment insurance so they get more and more desperate. So they`re
willing to take this $8, $9 an hour job. These are people in their late
50s who all their lives have made upper middle class salaries and are now
in desperation.

And so, you know, these people, you know, are looking at new kind of
politics all of the sudden.

SHARPTON: I`m going to have to hold it there.

Joan Walsh and Ryan Grim, let me thank you for your time and wish you
a Merry Christmas.

But let me also say that it will be a Christmas of anxiety for too
many Americans because we are not taking seriously the fight for economic
fairness in this country. And if there`s anything we must do as a nation
over all of our religious, racial, and geographical differences is we must
seize this time to fight for economic fairness and economic equality.
That`s the agenda for the new year.

Coming up, developing news on that "Duck Dynasty" disaster. My
question is why are so many on the right doing a duck defense?

Plus a key senator says President Obama needs to be friendlier to
Republicans then things would get done in Washington. Has he met the
birthers? You better believe I`m responding to him tonight.

And a homecoming 63 years in the making, an incredible love story that
you just need to see.


SHARPTON: Republicans have spent months whining about how they have
to rebrand their party if they have any hope of winning another national
election. They say change is in the air to reach out to minorities and
young people, women, and gays.

So who`s their latest hero? Phil Robertson, the star of "Duck
Dynasty." He`s been suspended from his show after making anti-gay,
racially charged comments t a magazine. This weekend Mr. Robertson to do
by his statement saying quote, "I am a lover of humanity, not a hater. I
will not give or back off from my path."

What`s strange is that the Republican party, that party that says it
wants to change has been rushing to his defense. Here`s Louisiana Governor
Bobby Jindal.


GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: The bigger issue is not what he
said or how he said it. The bigger issue here it is about religious
liberty, it is about the first amendment and the right to speak up and say
what you believe.


SHARPTON: Yes, yes, he had the right to say what he believes. But
the company that signs his paycheck had the right not to subsidize it.
Louisiana`s lieutenant governor went even further saying if things don`t
work out, he`ll use his influence with the film industry to look for other


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I certainly want to see this show continue. It`s
clearly increased our tourism in the northern part of the state. And
that`s what I like to see happen.


SHARPTON: And former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee went back
to the usual GOP red meat, blaming political correctness.


point of view that is traditional that holds to steadfast old fashion
biblical Christian values, which are also by is the way values of
traditional Judaism and even Islam, then somehow you`re supposed to just
shut up and keep that to yourself.


SHARPTON: This isn`t about silences Christian values. And here`s why
this really matters. "Duck Dynasty" is one of the most popular shows on TV
and Phil is right at the center of it.


PHIL ROBERTSON, STAR, DUCK DYNASTY: My idea of happiness is killing
things boom boom bow bow boom. The first prerequisite for a man and a
woman, can she cook.

If you are on the (INAUDIBLE), you got one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Men are cooking too. It`s not just going to be

ROBERTSON: No shoes, no socks, no problem. Everybody happy, happy,


SHARPTON: Of course, he has the right to say what he wants on the
show or off of it. But that doesn`t make it right. And my question is,
why are Republicans so eager to defend hurtful comments?

Joining me now is Clarence Page. Thank you for being here.


SHARPTON: Clarence, if the Republican party is interested in change,
why are they defending this kind of talk?

PAGE: Well, I think I have some special insight here Reverend,
because I happen to be a "Duck Dynasty" fan. Unlike most of my friends,
neighbors, family, they all --


PAGE: Thank you. They all ask how can you enjoy that show. I say
well, for one thing, it`s funny. It`s a really well produced show. I
normally don`t watch reality TV shows. I turned this one on a few months
ago out of curiosity, and it`s well done. And the characters, and I say
characters because nobody`s really real in reality television. But I`d
rather watch this than watch the Kardashians. And I think the Republicans
recognized that this strikes at their cultural base. This is a cultural
war we are seeing going on here, Reverend. They see that this is something
that by defending Phil Robertson, they can up here to be defending a way of
life that hits right at the cultural heart of the Republican base.

SHARPTON: What about the rebranding? What about the autopsy? If
this is where they feel as their base, then they`re not trying to rebrand,
they are not trying to expand.

PAGE: Well, this kind of reminds me of sister soldier in reverse.
What do I mean by that? I mean, this is a kind of a wedge issue, "Duck
Dynasty," that Republicans can use to appeal to their base without doing
that much damage in their view to the crossover votes they`re trying to
get. Because, you know, for that matter, as I mentioned, most of my fellow
(INAUDIBLE) drinking liberals, they don`t want the show that much. I mean,
it wouldn`t mean that much to them compared to the real emotional fervor
that has arisen on the part of the "Duck Dynasty" viewership which I
understand is around 14 million.

SHARPTON: But Clarence, wait a minute. I want to remind everyone
what "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson said about growing up in Louisiana,
for example, during the Jim Crow era. He said quote, "I never with my eyes
saw the mistreatment of any black person. I hoed cotton with them. I`m
with the blacks because we`re white trash. We`re going across the field.
They`re singing and happy. Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say. Were
they happy? They were godly. They were happy."

I mean, I can understand and deal with you wanting to watch them
rather than the Kardashians, but if the Kardashians were saying things that
were against gays and talking about bestiality, talking about people happy
and gay under Jim Crow, I think many of us would have the same reaction and
their sponsors have the same right these sponsors have to say you have the
right to say it but we have the right not to subsidize it.

PAGE: That`s right. I fairly agree with that. I, sorry, disagree on
all counts with Phil Robertson on all this. In fact, I wish that he would
sit down with Bill Russell who also comes from Monroe, Louisiana. He`d
give a different view about how black folks really felt back in those days
which I can remember too. I`m the same age as Robertson, in fact.

But the fact is like I mentioned about the Republican wedge issue,
Democrats haven`t been rallying on this. And they`re not like I to rally
against "Duck Dynasty." We got more -- Democrats have more important fish
to fry, frankly. And at the same time though, you know, what he said
certainly is divisive in terms of both black folks and gay folks.

SHARPTON: Now, this is really just politics. Is that why they`re not
talking about the specifics of what he`s talking about? Because I notice
they are defending his right, but they`re not getting into what he actually
said, Clarence.

PAGE: That`s right. Because they know once they get on that, then
they have to defend anti-gay bashing, if you will, and racism or racial
indifference which can be just as bad. But they`re not going to defend
that. They`re going to constantly talk about freedom of speech and
religious freedom. Even though as you mention, first amendment doesn`t
apply here. First amendment only applies to government suppression. And
frankly, if you offend your boss by something you say, you`re on your own.

SHARPTON: But you don`t have a right to have a sponsor. You don`t
have a right to have people put money behind it.

But let me show you how the Republicans are lining up supporting this
and what they are saying and what they`re not saying. Listen to this.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Who is being discriminated
against here except Phil Robertson? Who just lost a job because of his
religious beliefs? Phil Robertson.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: What he expressed here was probably
more old fashioned traditional Christian sentiment and value, whether you
like it or not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We like you at the blaze. We`re not ashamed. We
won`t fold. "Duck Dynasty," we would be proud to have you.


SHARPTON: I mean, are we now in a culture where people are saying
that you can say whatever you want and people have to support it and
subsidize it with their money with continuing to sponsor you on TV? They
don`t have the right to listen to their own concerns and their customers`

PAGE: Well, let`s call this out for what it is. The narrative of
conservative victimization. You don`t hear Glenn Beck and Limbaugh talking
about Alec Baldwin, Isaiah Washington, and other liberals who lost their
jobs over statements that were insensitive to gays, lesbians, or African-
Americans or other minorities. They only talk about the Republicans who
want into trouble.

SHARPTON: Clarence, are you trying to suggest two days before
Christmas there`s some hypocrisy here?

PAGE: I know you`re shocked to hear this, Reverend.

SHARPTON: It will take the holidays for me to get over you even
suggesting that.

Clarence Page, I will have to leave it there. Thank you for your time
tonight and have a merry Christmas.

PAGE: You too, Reverend. Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, Speaker Boehner has got company. The biggest name
has signed up for health coverage. I`ll tell you who next.

Plus, a member of Congress says the president needs to be pals with
the GOP. Wait a second. The president should be friends with the
impeachment crowd? Yes. I have an opinion about that.

Plus, will President Obama be teaching his daughters how to drive?
You`re going to want to see his answer.


SHARPTON: From signing the law to signing up. Over the weekend,
President Obama joined nearly one million Americans who have signed up for
health insurance under the new exchanges. That means the president is
covered. Lots of Republicans have successfully signed up for the new
health coverage. There`s Senator Lindsey Graham. He`s covered. And so is
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. And you are, too, Senator Marco Rubio. And
even house Speaker Boehner signed up. They`re all covered. And now so is
the president. It`s not a, I got you, he`s covered.


SHARPTON: There`s a notion that if the president only schmoozed with
Republicans more, then magically we`d start to see real progress in
Washington. Suddenly the GOP would love health care. They`d start
blocking immigration reform. They`d magically support the increasing of
the minimum wage. And Speaker John Boehner would even sing Kumbaya on the
steps of the White House. Isn`t that right, Senator Joe Manchin?


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: It`s hard to say no to a friend.
When you build that relationship and that friendship, you`re looking for
ways to try to work things out and find a compromise. And that friendship
means an awful lot. When you don`t build those personal relationships,
it`s pretty easy for a person to say, well, let me think about it.


SHARPTON: Personal relationships. I see. So it`s the president`s
fault. Does Senator Manchin know that on the night of the president`s
first inauguration, top Republicans were plotting to stall his presidency?
Or that the top Republican in the Senate made his top priority perfectly


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: Our top political priority over
the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term.


SHARPTON: So if the president just had a cup of tea with Senator
McConnell, things would be better? Wrong. The GOP isn`t interested in
working with the president. They`re obsessed. Not with getting along with
him, but with getting rid of him.


REP. STEVE STOCKMAN (R) TEXAS: We want all tools available to use
including that, the impeachment.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: If he continues, could that build up to make a case
for possible impeachment?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: All options should be on the table.

REP. BLAKE FARENTHOLD (R), TEXAS: If we were to impeach the president
tomorrow, you could probably get all the votes in the House of
Representatives to do it.

SEN. JIM INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: People maybe starting to use the I-
word before too long.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: OK, I-word, meaning impeachment?


REP. KERRY BENTIVOLIO (R), MICHIGAN: Tell me how I can impeach the
president of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You have to establish a criteria that would qualify
for proceedings against the president. And that`s called impeachment.


SHARPTON: That`s what this president is up against. And that doesn`t
even include the deep enders who think he wasn`t even born here.


REP. CLIFF STEARNS (R), FLORIDA: All I can tell you is that the
general consensus is that he has produced a birth certificate. The
question is, is it legitimate?

REP. VICKY HARTZLER (R), MISSOURI: I mean, if someone asked for my
birth certificate, I`d go get it out and say here it is.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: All the president has to do is
show it.


SHARPTON: Yes. Hear that? All he has to do is show his birth
certificate. Then we can all be friends. Sure. Don`t bet on it.

Joining me now are Joe Madison and James Peterson. Thank you both for
coming on the show.



SHARPTON: Joe, let me start with you. So that`s the key to all of
this. The president just has to be nice to the Republicans. That`s all.

MADISON: Yes. And they take kindness for weakness. That`s exactly
what this is about. You left out one thing. Remember, they called him a
liar from the floor of the House of Representatives. Let`s add that.
Look, let`s be quite candid. These folks have resented the fact that
President Barack Obama got the power that he has. In Washington, personal
relationships are based on mutual interests. The only interests that the
Republican Party and the Tea Party has is ideological. And that`s what
their friendship and their power is based on. This is about power.

Now, here`s the solution. You let the House of Representatives be
overtaken by Democrats. Let those seats turn into a Democratic majority.
And you see how personal relationships will be when they want something for
a president that has the White House, the United States Senate, and the
House of Representatives.

SHARPTON: Yes. But, you know, James, I think that people
underestimate how far out a lot of this is. For example, just recently a
sitting Republican agreed that the president might be a secret Muslim.
Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The situation of Barack Obama`s religion is much
vexed and very murky. Probably intentionally so. Whatever his personal
beliefs are, certainly if he were a secret Muslim, he wouldn`t be acting
any differently than he is right now.


SHARPTON: So, I mean, this kind of extreme views James is not missing
a cup of tea or hanging out for dinner in the residence that he owes this
kind of deep kind of feelings that has been demonstrated here.

PETERSON: You`re absolutely right, Rev. And just to be clear, in
this country, it`s OK to be Muslim. There are plenty of Muslim-Americans,
you know, this is a country where there`s freedom of religion. And so
people can practice whatever religion they choose to practice. And part of
the distaste about those kinds of comments and maybe why the president
doesn`t want to associate and hang around with people like that, because if
you`re that ignorant that you`re trying to essentially demonize an entire
religion, then who, you know, whoever you associate with, that`s an
evaluation of them.

But let`s also be clear, Rev, that this president has invited
Republicans to the White House to private screenings for Hollywood films.
He`s paid for meals for them. He`s invited them to dinners. He`s played
golf with them. They were invited to the march on Washington. And many of
those invitations got a resounding no. Zero, as in no Republicans showed
up for those.

SHARPTON: I think that`s the real point, Joe. And absolutely James
is right about, there`s nothing wrong with being a Muslim. Even in saying
one has to be a secret Muslim infers that they don`t believe in freedom of
religion. I don`t know why someone has to be a secret. But when you look
at the president and how he has tried to reach out to the GOP, they`ve just
refused his invitations. Speaker Boehner chose not to be photographed with
President Obama at last year`s Christmas Party.

Boehner has also refused invitations to five state dinners. GOP
leaders refused to attend the screening of "Lincoln" at the White House.
Not only wouldn`t they come to the march on Washington ceremony. They
wouldn`t go to a screening of Lincoln who by the way was a Republican.
Multiple house freshmen refused to come to welcoming reception held by the
president. So, he has reached out over and over and over again.

MADISON: Personal relationships are mutual. Personal relationships
are mutual. But I`m just going to say it. If nobody else will say it.
They never dreamed that this African-American would be president of the
United States, ideologically opposed to everything they believed in. They
couldn`t beat him the first time. They couldn`t beat him the second time.
They`ve tried to delegitimatize even his very existence as a citizen of the
United States and quite honestly, they resent it.

And that`s exactly what`s going on. And they`re attempting to bring
this country down. And most Americans aren`t going for it. They`re
speaking to a very small group of people. And most people -- and I think
including the younger generation and their children think they`re
absolutely crazy.

SHARPTON: Well, I think that when you look at the toxic culture that
has come from a lot of the right wing media that has poisoned the
atmosphere James, let me give you an example.


GLENN BECK, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: This president I think has exposed
himself as a guy over and over and over again who has a deep seeded hatred
for white people.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: In Obama`s America, the white
kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering yay, right on, right on,
right on, right on.

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: It`s not a traditional America anymore.
And there are 50 percent of the voting public who want stuff, they want
things. And who is going to give them things? President Obama.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: He is the president of a country that
clearly I`m beginning to wonder if he even likes.

LIMBAUGH: This man hates this country.


SHARPTON: So in this kind of toxic environment, James, these
politicians operating and none of the leadership has called any of these
guys to talk about it saying wait a minute. That`s too far, that`s too
extreme, that`s not true.

PETERSON: That`s right. Well, Rev, Joe points out the primary
problem with the Republican Party not is that their base is shrinking. But
the influence of a minority within that minority party has, you know, loves
this racialized rhetoric and it speaks to them in certain ways. And so,
that`s kind of where they live and breathe. But another huge problem is
what you`re pointing out in that segment which is the entertainment complex
of the right wing. Drives a lot of their policy thinking and a lot of
their political maneuvers.

And they also speak to that same sort of minority within the minority
party of the Republican Party. That`s invested in these racialized
discourses. The president really does not have time for that and really
doesn`t want anything to do with that. It`s not progressive but it`s not
productive. Right? We could spend all day talking about the Rush
Limbaughs and Glenn Becks of the world, but at the end of the day they`re
not making any policy.

SHARPTON: They have influence on a lot of guys that are blocking
policy. And that`s why we can`t ignore them. Joe Madison, James Peterson,
both of you have a Merry Christmas and thanks for your time this evening.

PETERSON: Thank you Reverend Sharpton.

MADISON: Merry Christmas to you too Reverend.

SHARPTON: Coming up, a rare behind the scenes look inside the Obama
White House at this holiday time. How has the president`s faith guided

Plus, a homecoming 63 years in the making. One couple`s incredible
love story. It`s one you won`t want to miss.



PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: I want to say quick word about
a close friend of mine and yours, Joshua Dubois. Every morning he sends me
via e-mail a daily meditation. Snippet of scripture for me to reflect on.
And it has meant the world to me.


SHARPTON: President Obama speaking at the White House prayer
breakfast earlier this year talking about how his faith keeps him going.
In the toughest job in the world, that faith is the subject of a new book.
The president`s devotional. Written by the man that "Time" magazine called
the president`s pastor in chief.

The former head of the White House faith-based and neighborhood
partnerships, Joshua Dubois. I`m pleased to welcome Josh to the show here
tonight. Josh, thanks for being here.

Reverend, it`s my pleasure. Thanks for having me on.

SHARPTON: Thank you again. The president you know, says, the
scripture e-mails you send to him every morning mean the world to him. How
did this start?

DUBOIS: You know, I was not intending to be the spiritual adviser to
the president of the United States when this got started. I was a young
staffer on the 2008 presidential campaign. I had known then-Senator Obama
for a couple years. And my job was to reach out for the faith community
and I looked at him and I saw someone who had tremendous supports around
him. He had policy advisers and political support, but I was wondering,
you know, whose thinking about his spirit? Who`s thinking about his soul?

I decided to put together an e-mail for him. It was based on the 23rd
Psalm and about how to get restoration in tough times. And got his e-mail
address and just sent it. Didn`t know if I was going to get fired. He
wrote me back in a few minutes and said, you know what, Joshua? This is
exactly what I`ve been waiting for.

SHARPTON: So do you think by him starting his day with these e-mails,
it helps him get through all of the worldly challenges and problems of the

DUBOIS: I think so. You know, there`s something about starting with
the words of scripture and with wisdom, something that`s disconnected from
politics, disconnected from whatever is happening in Congress. But really
reminding yourself of God`s love for you and of the love that he expects
you to have for other people. And I think it does get his day started in
the right point.

SHARPTON: You were with the president when he traveled to Newtown,
Connecticut, to speak at the prayer vigil as you recall, for victims of
that very terrible tragedy. Here`s part of what he said about the little
children who were murdered. Look at this.


OBAMA: But the little children come to me, Jesus said. And do not
hinder them. For as such belongs the kingdom of heaven. God has called
them all home. For those of us who remain, let us find the strength to
carry on and make our country worthy of their memory.


SHARPTON: When there`s a national tragedy like that, the president
draws on his faith to bring him and the country through that. Is that

DUBOIS: Absolutely. You know, I was with the president in Newtown.
I got a call the Saturday after that horrible Friday that he wanted me to
join him while he sat with those families and tried to comfort them.

SHARPTON: You were there with him.

DUBOIS: I was there with him, absolutely. And I`ve never experienced
anything like that. Just the depth of sorrow when a father has to hold a
picture of their son or daughter that they just saw a couple days ago and
now they`re no longer there. And the president has to comfort them. And
in that moment he absolutely relied on his faith and then talked about how
the verse in Corinthians got him through. And he invoke that in the speech
to the nation about outwardly we`re wasting away but inwardly we can be
renewed day by day.

SHARPTON: You know, at the prayer breakfast the president talked in
very personal terms about his faith. Listen.


OBAMA: Sometimes I search scripture to determine how best to balance
life as a president and as a husband and as a father. I often search for
scripture to figure out how I can be a better man as well as a better


SHARPTON: How important is his faith in guiding his decisions?

DUBOIS: You know, his faith is a central part of his life. These
devotionals that are in the president`s devotionals, start his day every
day. And he spends time and prayer with fascism in the Oval Office, he has
a prayer call every year on his birthday to bless him for the years to
come. But it`s not something he wears on his sleeve. You know, he`d
rather live out his faith than talk about his faith.

SHARPTON: Have you seen his faith kick in in the middle of the
politics of the moment?

DUBOIS: I think so. I see it in the way that he connect with some
folks across -- on the other side of the aisle. That he may not agree with
on every issue but he still finds a ways to come together with them. He
and Senator Tom Coburn for example have a great relationship. But it`s not
necessarily bases in policy agreement. They`ve spent moments in prayer
together. They`ve spent serious conversations together. And so I see his
faith in the way that he tries to extend a presumption of good will to
people who disagree with them as much as he can.

SHARPTON: The way he related to you and I`ve observed that in prayer
breakfasts and other gatherings and other younger members of the staff,
it`s almost a big brother, young father kind of thing that I don`t think is
seen through the press. Because he seemed to be, you know, not the touchy
kind of guy. But in his own way, he seems to have built this kind of
relationship with younger staff members.

DUBOIS: You know, he really believes in empowering young people and
being there for them. I tell a story in the book about how he helped
through the moment when my father passed away and how we really walked
through that together. And he set a culture of mentorship in the White
House. You know, folks like Valerie Jarrett and others. They are quick to
give young staff responsibility. Whether it`s Jon Favreau, one of the
youngest speechwriters at presidential history. Heather Foster who you
know Rev is a young woman leading African-American outreach. This White
House and this president are believing in empowering young people to do
important work.

SHARPTON: Well, Josh Dubois, I`m going to have to leave it there.
Author of "The President`s Devotional." Great book. I`m following it
myself. Thanks for coming on the show tonight and congratulations on the

DUBOIS: Thank you, Reverend. I appreciate it.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, a powerful reunion. Sixty years in the
making. That`s next.


SHARPTON: Nearly 70 years ago Clara Gantt met the love of her life on
a train heading to California. He was a young soldier named Joseph. After
that chance meeting, he repeatedly asked Clara to marry him. Over and over
again, she refused. That is, until the day she said yes. Vowing in her
words to remain his wife until the lord called her home. But just a few
years later and 63-years-ago, her young husband went off to war in Korea
never to return again. His wife now 95-years-old never gave up hope that
he`d come home to her. This past weekend, he did.


CLARA GANTT, WIFE OF JOSEPH GANTT: I`m so happy it`s a closure. And
he is coming home.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Clara Gantt has been waiting for this day for 63
years. It`s the day her husband`s remains are returning home.

GANTT: He was in two wars. He was in World War II, got out in `46,
entered the Korean War.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: As the Los Angeles Airport honor guard saluted
the plane carrying the remains of Army Sergeant First Class Joseph Gantt
arrived at L.A.X. In the predawn darkness, his 95-year-old widow stood on
a cool tarmac and told reporters she made plans six decades ago for his
return from the war.

GANTT: I got a gardener and then I bought a home. So when he came
home he wouldn`t have to do nothing but go fishing, whatever he wanted to
do. I bought a home for him. And I am in that home now.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: As passengers watched from inside, Gantt`s casket
was lowered from the plane.

GANTT: He told me if anything happened to him he wanted me to
remarry. And I told him, no, no.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Their love, she said, was more than enough for
one lifetime.

GANTT: I always did love my husband. Was two of one kind. We loved
each other.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: That love was evident as she slowly walked to the
flag draped casket grateful that she lived long enough to witness this

GANTT: And I am so happy that I was living to accept him.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: As she stood next to the casket, tears rolled
down her face as she both welcomed her husband home and prepared to lay him
to rest.


SHARPTON: That`s a love that anyone would be fortunate to find.


SHARPTON: On Friday the president sat down with talk show host Steve
Harvey. And he talked candidly about his daughters and driving.


OBAMA: Malia is 15. She`ll be 16 in July. And Sasha is 12. Will be
13 in June. They`re doing great. But they grow up so fast.

STEVE HARVEY, TALK SHOW HOST: Is she talking about driving?

OBAMA: Oh, yes. Now, the good news is that although in Chicago you
can get your permit when you`re 15, in D.C. It`s 16. But this shows that
she may have potential as a lawyer some time. She said, you know, aren`t
we technically still residents of Illinois.


SHARPTON: But if you think the commander in chief is going to
actually be teaching his daughters to drive, think again.


HARVEY: Are you going to teach them to drive?

OBAMA: Probably not. You know, I have seen enough parents try to
teach their kids to drive. And the combination of anxiety and hollering
and, you know, both sides just leaving the car unhappy after the fact, I
figure it is better to, you know, give it to a profession.


SHARPTON: Something tells me minus the driving lessons, President
Obama will have enough things to keep himself busy in the coming months.
Let me wish you all a Merry Christmas. Love to your family and don`t
forget fellow Americans who also will be serving and wishing for a better
Christmas and better Christmases to come.

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


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