updated 1/6/2014 10:53:58 AM ET 2014-01-06T15:53:58

POLITICS NATION
December 26, 2013

Guest:


REV. AL SHARPTON, POLITICS NATION HOST: Good. Joy, how are you? Good to
see you.

REID: Doing very well and hope you had a Merry Christmas.

SHARPTON: I did. We did. We spend out all day feeding the homeless and
the poor and seniors there in Harlem. So, I had a great Christmas. Good
to see you.

REID: Thank you.

SHARPTON: And thanks to you for tuning in. I`m live tonight from Miami.

Tonight`s lead, Republicans reveal their New Year`s resolution. Block all
economic solutions. In less than 48 hours, for unemployment benefits will
run out for over a million Americans. It`s been decade since Congress
refused to renew long-term jobless benefits when the unemployment rate was
this high. This is not politics as usual. It`s the result of a hot list,
mean-spirited party. And now, families across the country are about to
take a major hit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If our benefits aren`t extended, she said she won`t
have enough money to go to a job interview.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are crippling people that are already crippled
emotionally and financially.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m about to run out of my unemployment benefits, and
going onto unemployment is better than having no money, but my whole
situation has caused me to become homeless for an entire year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are we getting? Where are we at? I understand if
they have to reconcile the budget in Washington, but in the process of
hurting people who through no fault of their own lost their jobs in
ridiculous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: This pain can be avoided. It`s the result of a right wing
ideology that says if you`re out of work, you`re out of luck. That`s why
speaker Boehner`s Republican House went on holiday break without fixing
this. And it`s why tea party senator Rand Paul said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Does it make sense for a country to borrow
money from China to give it to the unemployed in America? That is
weakening us as a country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It`s weakening us as a country to extend unemployment benefits?
Not only is this cruel, it`s flat-out wrong. Extending long-term benefits
would create 200,000 jobs next year by boosting consumer demand. But guess
what. Guess what would weaken the economy, failing to extend benefits, the
very thing Senator Paul wants to do. It would cost the country 300,000
jobs.

This fight is just beginning. The today in Hawaii, President Obama signed
the new budget into law. It rolls back the worst GOP sequester spending
cuts and it helps avoid another Republican government shutdown. But it
doesn`t extend jobless benefits. President Obama says Congress must take
action in the first week of 2014.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because Congress didn`t act,
more than one million of their constituents will lose a vital economic life
line at Christmas time. Leaving a lot of job seekers without any source of
income at all. I think we`re a better country than that. We don`t abandon
each other when times are tough. When Congress comes back to work. Their
first order of business should be making this right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: We are a better country than that. The central battle of 2014
will be the fight for fairness. And it starts with unemployment benefits.

Joining me now former governor Ed Rendell and Goldie Taylor.

Thank you both for being here.

GOLDIE TAYLOR, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you, Reverend Sharpton.

ED RENDELL (D), FORMER GOVERNOR, PENNSYLVANIA: Our pleasure.

SHARPTON: Governor Rendell, less than two days away from over one million
losing benefits, you see the pain. You see what it will cause for
families. What will it take for Republicans to come around on this,
governor?

RENDELL: I think they have to be forced to vote on it, Rev. I think if we
can get a vote on the house floor, there are enough Republicans in swing
districts if the Democrats stay solid and I believe they will, to pass it
because it`s simple.

For all the reasons you say plus one other one, it`s very stimulative to
the economy. This money that goes into the unemployed`s hands, this money
is spent on rent, spent on food, spent on clothing. It`s not putting
savings. It goes right into the economy and stimulates the growth and
level of the economy. So it makes sense from -- you know, the Republicans
always talk about we got to do something to get the economy back on track.
Well, not only are you hurting people which is in my judgment is almost
criminal, but you`re hurting the economy as well. And we got to force them
to vote.

SHARPTON: Force them to vote.

Goldie, you know, Senator Rand Paul is standing behind his comments that
extending jobless benefits does a disservice to the workers. Listen to
this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: So really, when I said it`s a disservice, I mean this. I am worried
about the workers. Not that they become bad people by being unemployed
longer, but if the longer they are unemployed, they are less likely are
ever to get a job again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, Goldie, keep in mind in Senator Paul`s home state of
Kentucky, about 53,000 people will lose benefits if Congress fails to act.
But this is his position.

TAYLOR: Yes. I`ve got to agree with Governor Rendell here. You know, you
got to force them to vote. Because if they do have to vote, then it will
turn around to the people in their district. The people receiving SNAP
benefits they want to cut, the people receiving unemployment benefits they
refuse to extent. Now, the people who want to sign up for the affordable
care act when they refuse to create the exchanges.

You know, we need to force them to vote on not extending this unemployment
benefits packet so the 53,000 people of Kentucky who are going to lose
those benefits can see exactly where Rand Paul stands and all of the rest
of them. That what this is really about.

I heard Rand Paul say that he was using this as part of a mission to
attract more African-American voters. African-Americans have a higher
disproportionate rate of unemployment rate than the rest of the country.
And so, certainly, this is not the constituency you want to talk to about
cutting unemployment benefits that people aren`t who have lost their jobs
to no fault, clearly, of their own.

SHARPTON: Now Governor, you said let`s force them to vote. So let`s look
at the big picture here while we are trying to say they must vote and they
must vote right away. If you look at the big picture, this Saturday
December 28th, 1.3 million people will lose benefits. Over the next six
months through June, a total of 3.2 million would lose their benefits if
it`s not extended. And by this time next year in December 2014, 4.9
million people stand to lose benefits. Why would people that was given the
public trust by an elected and constituency base even flirt with these
kinds of numbers and these kind of disasters to American families?

RENDELL: It`s incomprehensible. And it`s the reason why I say let`s force
a vote. Let`s get a discharge petition. Because in the end, you can`t
back up this vote. You can`t justify this vote to people. Not only the
people you`re cutting off, but the good hearted Americans.

And we just came out of Christmas, Rev. And you know at Christmastime
everyone looks around and in December. We`re very generous and the
salvation army gets more than half of its money in December. And we have a
spirit of giving and taking care of each other. And it tears you apart
when you see a family that can`t buy toys for their kids. Well, think
about a family not being able to feed their kids.

I mean, not only they want to cut off unemployment benefits, they want to
take $40 billion out of the food stamps program. For what? For what
reason? Nobody -- I defy any of those congressmen to try to live on what
unemployment benefits give them, to try to live on that for a month. It`s
not welfare. It`s survival.

SHARPTON: Goldie, but not only have they come now to the brink of where
the benefits will run out and they`re talking about the $40 billion in cuts
with food stamps, it seems like it`s bad enough to be harmed but then to be
in many ways mocked. I mean, when you think of the way they blast people
that are not at work, that cannot find jobs and act as though they`re
dependent on government. I mean, listen to the kinds of things Republicans
in Congress say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: We don`t want to turn
this safety net into a hammock that allows able-bodied people to rely on
complacency.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: Self-reliance means if anyone will
not work, neither should he eat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We also eliminated skin in the game for most ordinary
everyday Americans. You know, folks mocked Mitt Romney for what he said
about 47 percent but he`s right.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: We need to make sure our government
programs encourage work, not dependence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, to act as though their dependents, as though they`re
beggars is almost as bad as not extending the benefits and trying to mess
with food stamps.

TAYLOR: You know, this is a party who almost single-handedly blew up this
economy. You know, it is as if they stock dynamite on the bridge, blew it
up and then dared people to cross to the other side of the canyon on their
own. And so, at the end of the day, this is going to hurt them in 2014.
It`s going to hurt them in 2016 because you don`t know who your next door
neighbor happens to be who might be receiving benefits from the department
of labor. You know, that`s not something that`s really public knowledge.

And so, those people go into the voting booth. When their families go into
the voting booth, they`re going to remember the people who voted to deny
them benefits they worked so hard for. If they were truly interested in
gaining full employment in this country, they`d be investing in job
training, they would be investing in young people to get their GEDs. They
would be investing in, you know, jobs out there that for the people who
want to stay in the workforce a bit longer, they`d be investing in
meaningful wages and jobs for real people. In fact, they tossed the
president`s jobs act right back at him and didn`t even let it up for a
vote.

SHARPTON: Well, you said may hurt them politically. I`m more concerned
about the people that it will hurt on Saturday and going forward. That`s
who I`m concerned about being hurt.

Governor Rendell and Goldie Taylor, thanks for time tonight.

TAYLOR: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, new on the "Duck Dynasty" star who used homophobic
and racially charged comments in a magazine article. Now Sarah Palin, one
of the leading defenders of the reality show star, admits she never even
read the article. What it reveals about the GOP`s rush to defend him.

Plus Chris Christie denies shutting down a bridge as political punishment.
But now we`re learning new stories of retribution and bullying.

And Karl Rove is taking on the tea party. The goal from one strategists
have no fools on our ticket. Well, good luck.

And a touching story. Beyonce sings and dances with a terminally ill fan
making her wish come true. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Karl Rove is on a mission to take down the tea party. Get the
popcorn. This one is going to be good. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The GOP created a monster and now they want to get rid of it.

For years now, the Republican party has fueled the tea part backed it with
big money in primaries, promoted its agenda on FOX News, encouraging its
far right ideology time after time. But now, one of their own is leading
the charge against the tea party. The "Wall Street Journal" reports Karl
Rove and his outside organization are part of a new effort to diminish the
clout of the far right. One strategist says, quote, "our number one focus
is to make sure that we have no loser candidates, no fools on our ticket.
Gee, who could they be talking about?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TODD AKIN, FORMER MISSOURI CONGRESSMAN: It seems to be first of all from
what I understand about doctors, that`s really rare. If it`s a legitimate
rape, the female body has a way of shutting that whole thing down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even when life begins in that horrible situation of
rape, that it is something god intended to happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Right.

Well, today`s news is just the latest strike against the tea party. A
group that Speaker Boehner is already fed up with.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Frankly, I think they`re
misleading their followers. I think they`re pushing our members in places
where they don`t want to be. And frankly, I just think that they`ve lost
all credibility. Are you kidding me?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So is the tea party fever finally breaking? Or does this mean
advances in the president`s agenda on the minimum wage and immigration
reform? One thing`s for sure, without the tea party, all of that would be
a heck of a lot easier.

Joining me now are Ryan Grim and James Peterson.

Thank you both for coming on the show tonight.

JAMES PETERSON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks for having me.

RYAN GRIM, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, HUFFINGTON POST/MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:
Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Ryan, let me start with you. You`ve covered Congress for years.
I see this effort to take down the tea party getting pretty messy. How do
you see this playing out?

GRIM: Well, you know, it is going to play out, you know, in the fund
raising circle primarily. And so, you know, Karl Rove has for the last
several months been trying to coax, you know, different moderate. You can
call them moderate but, you know, kind of business friendly non-tea party
candidates into different races. And in Iowa, Michigan, and some other
places where they think they have chances to pick somebody up. So,
recruitment is the key.

You know, they wanted Latham to run in Iowa. That`s not going to happen.
You know, if they had managed to do that, then that`s a sign that, OK, that
this chamber of commerce funded, Karl Rove funded, you know, quote-unquote
"moderate operations" is actually humming.

The second part of it, though, is to knock down tea party candidates. And
you know, a lot of them make it fairly easy. You know, they can do a lot
of opposition research on them. They can leak that to the media and they
can push those folks down, you know. So, it will be interesting to see,
for instance, who they can put up in Georgia against Michelle, whether they
can put their finger on the scale.

The primary has been the place where Republican politics has been fought
out and the tea party has won it n the last couple of cycles. But with
enough money, it looks like, you know, the establishment could take over
again.

SHARPTON: And they went in the cycles in the primaries, Ryan.

But James, it looks like the tea party is going to fight back against Rove.
"New York Times" reports and I`m quoting, "at least a dozen super PACs are
setting up back individual Republican candidates for the United States
Senate challenging the strategic financial dominance that Karl Rove
enjoyed."

The tea party and the far right, you know, attacked Karl Rove last time he
voiced his displeasure with the tea party, James. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: What the tea party people now
realize is that they got two political forces gunning for them. Obama and
the Democrats and the Republican establishment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Karl Rove`s name, I think his organization are
poison in conservative and Republican circles in many respects. Bring it
on, Karl, baby. Bring it on, dough boy. Bring on your little white board.
We`re ready.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So it seems we`re seeing a pending battle between the far right
and the Republican establishment symbolized in this case by Karl Rove.
Republican establishment I should say.

(CROSSTALK)

PETERSON: Right. This is a real surreal, Rev. I mean, they`re all far
right. But what they`re fighting over and the fissure around this battle
really started around the debt ceiling process and the talks about a
affordable care act. Remember, the debt ceiling and those looming -- as we
lurch from crisis to crisis, that`s terrible for the economy. So, the
business community does not want to go through that again.

And you might remember, we talked a lot about the medical device tax when
we were talking about the affordable care act and the tea party split with
conservative Republicans on that because they weren`t interested in
protecting the interests of businesses associated with the medical device
tax. And that was their split when they were suppose to have this united
front against the affordable care act.

So, this thing has been bubbling over for some time now. And one of the
consequences of this kind of battling back and forth is you are going to
see folk like Boehner, speaker of the House is already start to speak out
against the heritage act foundation and other conservative groups. And
now, Karl Rove who also has deep pockets, Rev. American crossroads is also
one of the most well resourced sort of political action committees out
there in the game.

And so, they are going to push back really hard in the interest of
business. This is less about politics and policy and more about making
sure that business is insulated from some of the political maneuverings
from the tea party.

SHARPTON: But Ryan, how does this affect the president`s agenda? How does
this affect the fact that already there`s huge support for initiatives
President Obama backs. Sixty-nine percent support raising the minimum
wage, 63 percent support a pathway to citizenship, 57 percent say increased
income inequality is bad. How does this civil war and the Republican
party, how could it effect or impact advancing President Obama`s agenda?

GRIM: Well, it certainly opens a window for the parts of his agenda that
kind of align with business interests. For instance, the chamber of
commerce which is an extremely partisan organization is a big proponent of
immigration reform. So, you know, if you can line up House speaker John
Boehner, the chamber, and Democrats against the tea party on immigration
reform, then you could actually at least see some life breathe back into
that.

And the same is true, perhaps with the minimum wage. You know, there could
be enough moderate Republicans who want to show that they`re breaking with
the tea party. That at least if it doesn`t pass it at least becomes live
enough in Washington for people to debate it and talk about it. And once
you start talking about it, those poll numbers you showed, you know, they
start pushing it forward by their own weight.

SHARPTON: Well, we will be watching and covering this very carefully as we
see this in-fighting going on in the -- on the far right. It will
certainly be something that I wouldn`t want to miss, not one bit.

James Peterson, thank you for your time tonight. And Ryan, we`ll see you a
little later on in the show.

GRIM: Looking forward to it.

SHARPTON: Coming up, Sarah Palin rushed to defend the reality TV star who
made anti-gay, racially charged comments in a magazine interview. But now
we learn she didn`t read the article.

Plus, did Chris Christie close lanes on a bridge to get back at a political
enemy? He says no. But today new stories of bullying and retribution are
emerging. So is a letter from three years ago.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Coming up, more on the "Duck Dynasty" disaster. Days after the
star of the show used anti-gay and racially charged remarks, another on the
right comes to his defense. This time it`s Sarah Palin. The only problem,
she admits she never even read what he said. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`ve heard Republicans give lots of reasons for defending the
star of "Duck Dynasty," Phil Robertson. He has been suspended from his
reality TV show for making anti-gay racially charged comments to a
magazine. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal stood up for him saying they`re
good friends.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: He is always going to be my friend.
He`ll be my friend after I`m governor, after his show is done. He`s a good
man. I know he`s got love in his heart. And he wants everybody to be
treated we equality and respect.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I guess we`ll have to take Governor Jindal`s word for it.
Senator shutdown Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee said attacks on Robertson are
attacks on free speech. But I think the most interesting defense came from
former Governor Sarah Palin. She was one of the first to stand-up for the
"Duck Dynasty" star. And was asked about the specific language he used
earlier this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: There are two ways to say different
things, and his -- in the article and I know he`s a graphic type guy, but
do you have any objection on the manners aspect, how he said it?

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: I haven`t read the article. I
don`t know exactly how he said it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: She went on TV to defend him but didn`t read what he said?
Here`s what Robertson said was sinful. Quote, "Start with homosexual
behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around, don`t
deceive yourself, it`s not right." There were other comments that are too
vulgar to repeat on TV. And he also said African-Americans were happy in
the Jim Crow south. Now, let me be very clear. Phil Robertson has the
right to say whatever he wants. And his TV channel has the right to take
action. But why are Republicans so eager to defend him? Especially if one
of their leaders doesn`t even know exactly what he said?

Joining me now is Victoria Soto and Joe Madison. Thank you both for being
here.

VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO SOTO, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you.

JOE MADISON, SIRIUS XM RADIO HOST: Good evening, Rev.

SHARPTON: Joe, we keep hearing that the Republican Party is changing. So
why are they defending the star of "Duck Dynasty"? I mean, do they really
not know what he said?

MADISON: Well, most of them probably don`t. In this 24-hour news cycle,
you know, the problem is that people want to be first especially to go
after folks they think are different or they don`t like. You know, one of
the things I appreciate and one of the reasons I come on your show so much
is that you have a staff that the first thing they will ask, have you read
it? Have you seen it? Have you heard it? And if you haven`t, they make
sure that I do get it in order to read it. The biggest problem we have,
and I think that creates the incivility that we`re seeing in the Republican
Party, is that we want to be first to insult. And I think there needs to
be more critical thinking. But imagine, you want it to be --

SHARPTON: But it`s not only the first to insult. I think it`s the first
to take a party line that is against certain segments in society.

MADISON: That you don`t like, right.

SHARPTON: That it`s just a knee jerk reaction. If that we are always
going to go against certain groups no matter what. And we don`t need the
facts, Victoria. Like, for example, just after Sarah Palin said she hadn`t
read "Duck Dynasty," the interview, listen to what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN: He has said over and over again -- he doesn`t hate the person
engaging in a lifestyle he disagrees with, but he -- in response he was
quoting the gospel. So people who are so insulted and offended by what he
said evidently are offended by what he was quoting in the gospel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And how can she say he was quoting the gospel if she doesn`t
even know what he said? And what chapter, Victoria, and verse says that
blacks were happy sitting in the back of the bus and not having the right
to vote? I mean, what is she talking about?

SOTO: You know, I don`t think Sarah Palin is a very avid reader, but I
would bet she read that. And what she`s doing here is she wants to have
her cake and eat it too. She wants to pump up the base and come to Phil
Robertson`s support. But at the same time she wants to walk it back and
not get that backlash that could come from his very derogatory comments.
It`s so interesting because I`m seeing glimmers of 2010 here remember the
role that Sarah Palin played in pumping up the base by saying racially
charged comments toward African-Americans, toward Latinos.

And are we going to see a replay of 2010? And that`s what I`m really
curious about. Is she going to be able to pump up that base and is it
going to be able to fight over those rove moderate establishment
Republicans? I don`t know. We`re going to know in about two months here.
But it`s classic Palin.

SHARPTON: Now, Joe, you know the "Duck Dynasty" family has been getting
more involved in politics. There was just a special election for
Congressional seat in Louisiana. In the October primary, candidate Vance
McAllister finished 14 points behind fellow Republicans Neil Riser. But
McAllister got a last minute endorsement from several members of the "Duck
Dynasty" family and ended up winning by 20 points. Now, we can`t say how
much of an impact the "Duck Dynasty" endorsement had, but could this be
part of reasons why Republicans wanted to be on the family`s good side? Do
they think that it`s good politics in their base voting?

MADISON: I don`t think it`s good politics. I think it`s the fact that
they`re very popular. And that`s what`s wrong with politics today. It`s a
popularity race. It`s not a matter of getting elected. And once you get
elected, the most difficult thing as you know is you have to govern. And
look how they`re governing. Your last segment, your previous segment.
Look, I bet you that in Louisiana right now there are literally hundreds of
thousands of people who are going to be suffering because they won`t have
food for their children. In Louisiana.

SHARPTON: Right.

MADISON: And so the question is you can get elected but then who do you
govern and who do you govern for? And so, here you have really
multimillionaires -- multimillionaires who are very popular but they`re
willing to kick poor Louisianans under the bus?

SHARPTON: Now, you know, Victoria, the RNC said earlier this year in their
autopsy report, quote, "We need to campaign among Hispanic, Black, Asian,
and gay Americans and demonstrate we care about them too." Now, if you
have all these big names that are rushing to defend this reality star, why
haven`t we heard more GOP leaders denouncing this kind of homophobia and
racially charged statement?

SOTO: They`re scared, Reverend. Because we have seen what`s happened in
the past two electoral cycles. The Tea Party base will get out there and
they will out-primarily the incumbent. They will out-primarily the
moderate Republican. Just today as you mentioned in the last segment, the
Wall Street journal had a piece saying that they want to recast their
message. OK. That`s fine. You can recast your message that you want to
be more moderate, you want to be more family friendly, but like you said,
are you going to play defense to these crazy folks who are espousing this
hateful rhetoric?

MADISON: Joe, it`s not going to go away easily, because even late night
comics are having a field day on Republicans over the story. Listen to
this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: This week we learned you can judge a book by its cover.
A large number of conservatives on Thursday criticized A&E for suspending
"Duck Dynasty`s" Phil Robertson for his anti-gay comments including Senator
Ted Cruz, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and Governor Bobby Jindal. Or as
they`re collectively known, dork dynasty.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So, I mean, with it now in the late night comedian cycle and
all, they`re identified with this and any outreach they thought they were
going to make has been set back because some of their leading stars have
decided to go out and defend this even when they haven`t read at the guy
said.

MADISON: Yes. And it`s indefensible. This goes back again to the
incivility of our -- of what they do. The reality is that I think in 2014
most of us who are consumers of 24-hour news have to demand that people be
more of a critical thinker instead of trying to be the first ballot at the
box. The first to insult people that you have differences with. And that
ought to be a New Year`s resolution to be quite honest. Because that`s
what -- you know, the reality is comedians are telling the truth. And
people catch on to that quickly. Will Rogers did it, Johnny Carson did it,
Mark Twain did it.

And that`s exactly what catches the people who live in Middle America.
They get it. And this is not going to be easy, and I think the Tea Party
quite honestly, they can primary whoever they want. The bottom line is
they`re a shrinking group of people. They don`t have the influence and all
the polls show that, that they had just what, three years ago.

SHARPTON: Yes. Well, Victoria, Joe sets a New Year`s resolution. I make
a New Year`s resolution that I`m going to read it first and then comment.

SOTO: That`s right. Read it first.

SHARPTON: Victoria Soto and Joe Madison, thank you both for being here and
have a great and very Happy New Year.

MADISON: Same to you, Rev.

SOTO: Thank you, Rev.

SHARPTON: Coming up, Chris Christie`s denied shutting down a bridge as a
political payback. But a scathing new report suggests he may have bullied
opponents before.

Plus Beyonce makes a dream come true for a terminally ill girl. It`s must
see. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: It`s not water under the bridge for Chris Christie. Nearly
three weeks after the story made national headlines, it`s still a Jersey
mystery. Why were two lanes on the busiest bridge in the world shut down
for four days in September? Was it as political punishment from Christie
against this democratic mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, for failing to
endorse Chris tees for re-election? Christie`s allies are the agency
controlling the bridge closed two lanes leading into the mayor`s town.
They said it was traffic study.

A claim denied by other agency officials. The closures created a huge
traffic jam that paralyzed the town for days. Both of Christie`s allies at
the agency have resigned saying they were a distraction. And today we
learned the Fort Lee mayor wrote to Bill Baroni, one of the allies resigned
in 2010 about the crippling traffic gridlock we experienced and the
extraordinary traffic burdens caused by the George Washington Bridge.
Earlier this week both allies submitted subpoenaed documents. But last
week the governor didn`t seem too concerned.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I know you guys are obsessed with
this. I`m not. I`m really not. It`s just -- it`s not that big a deal
just because press runs around and writes about it both here and
nationally, I know why that is and so do you. Let`s not pretend it`s
because of the gravity of the issue. It`s because I am a national figure
and anything like this will be written about right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Not that big a deal. But now we`re learning more about other
stories of petty retribution that add up to a bullying image. The governor
has mocked the suggestions as preposterous. But Democrats in New Jersey
and privately some Republicans too say it would hardly be out of character
for Mr. Christie. I`m not so sure this isn`t that big a deal.

Joining me now, New Jersey democratic assemblyman John Wisniewski, the
chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee. He`s heading the
investigation into what happened. And back with us, Ryan Grim, Washington
Bureau chief for the Huffington Post. Thank you both for joining me.

RYAN GRIM, HUFFINGTON POST: Thank you for having me.

STATE REP. JOHN WISNIEWSKI (D-MIDDLESEX), TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE
CHAIRMAN: Pleasure.

SHARPTON: Assemblyman, Governor Christie says, this story is not that a
big of a deal. What is your response?

WISNIEWSKI: Oh, it is a big deal. And it`s not a story about traffic
cones. I mean, that`s what the governor would like to make us about all
traffic cones were moved. And who cares. But it`s really a story about
reviews of power, it`s a story about his judgment. He after all appointed
these two men to a very high position to the port authority of New York and
New Jersey. And these men together orchestrated the closure of rains which
shutdown the borough of Fort Lee for days. And he continues to defend it.
Despite the fact that the executive director of the Port authority says,
there was never a traffic study, despite the fact that political fact
checking organizations have called into question the governor`s statements.

Despite the fact that even though the governor says there`s no record of
the mayor of Fort Lee calling to complain about lane closures, there`s
internal port authority e-mails that show one another talking to each other
saying who`s going to call the mayor back. He keeps calling about these
lane closures. And so you have to ask the question, if it`s not a big
deal, why does the governor keep misrepresenting the facts?

SHARPTON: Now, you received documents from two of the men who resigned.
What can you tell us about what you`ve seen?

WISNIEWSKI: I can`t tell you much yet because we`re still in the process
of reviewing them to make sure that they comply with the subpoenas we
issued, but what we see is a lot of volume of e-mail traffic. We see some
correspondents. But you know, quite frankly Al, we`ve got these documents
one of them at 8:30 on Monday night right before the Christmas holiday.
And so, it`s hard to ask staff to spend this Christmas holiday going
through these documents. We`re doing that today and we hope to have a
better idea tomorrow.

SHARPTON: Will you seek other documents?

WISNIEWSKI: We`re going to continue this investigation no matter where it
leads. This is really a story about an abuse of power and a failure to be
accountable. I think that`s important not just for the people in this area
who pay exuberant sums to travel across this bridge and sit in traffic for
the privilege. But it`s also important as the governor said, he is as a
national figure, well, that`s a national figure, people need to know what
his judgment is like. And in this case I think they have to call into
question his judgment, his rampant defense of people who the executive
director of the Port authority said he`d fire. People that have been
accused of breaking the law. It just doesn`t make sense. It doesn`t add
up.

SHARPTON: Now, this letter from 2010 that surfaced showed the mayor was
concerned about bridge traffic. Do you believe there`s any significance to
this?

WISNIEWSKI: Well, I think it shows that the story that Bill Baroni told
the Assembly Transportation Committee when he came and testified not under
oath was just not believable in any sense. Because it shows that in 2010
the mayor of Fort Lee said, we have a traffic problem before there were
lane closures. Before any of this took place that Fort Lee had an ongoing
problem. So, Bill Baroni very well knew that when those lanes were being
closed, it would only going to make a bad situation worse. Yet he
continued to insist that it wasn`t a problem, he continued to insist it was
a study when his own boss the executive director said there was no such
study.

And so what it does show is that the stories aren`t matching up with the
facts. When we have one person saying this was done for a traffic study to
see whether the lanes made sense, his boss saying the traffic study doesn`t
exist. We know that Bill Baroni knew the traffic was a problem, yet he
makes it worse. Like I said, this doesn`t add up. And I don`t understand
the full scale level of defense being waged for two people who have
resigned their posts because they did things improperly by this governor.

Clearly there`s more to the story than we know. And that`s why we`ll
continue to look at it. Because it is again about accountability, it`s
about an abuse of power. It`s about people paying very large sums of
money, $8 to $13 to cross this bridge and they sit in traffic for the
privilege. It`s just not right.

SHARPTON: You know, Ryan, "The New York Times" piece I mentioned in the
lead revealed stories of bullying from the governor. Bill Lavin, an
officer with state firefighters union says on radio, unions and the
governor needed to start talking to one another. A republican state
senator called Mr. Lavin with a message from the governor and then used an
obscene phrase to describe what the governor thought he should do. That
call was made by Bill Baroni, one of the appointees that resigned from the
bridge controversy. So, here we have Baroni reportedly making this call.
Could this factor into a hearing pattern here, Ryan?

GRIM: Yes. I think certainly because whether or not Chris Christie
actually picked up the phone, you know, and called these fellows and said,
hey, I want you to shut down this bridge so that it jams up traffic in this
town as retaliation, whether or not he actually did that, he created the
climate in which they thought that this was the kind of thing that Chris
Christie wanted done. And it`s sort of strange to hear him protest at this
point that there`s this image of him being projected as a bully when that`s
what launched him on to the national stage. This kind of blustering thing.
So, you know, where there`s smoke, there`s fire. In this case, a lot of a
smoke has been blown by Christie himself.

SHARPTON: But if we`re dealing Ryan with 2016, it`s one thing to have a
guy in your face that`s candid, that`s blunt. It`s another -- is it not,
that if you have a guy that you think would engage in retribution and
revenge using public funds and resources to pay back political enemies or
guys that won`t support you politically. Do you want that in a president?

GRIM: I don`t think people do. And I think in D.C. and in New York and
New Jersey, we kind of overestimate how much the rest of the country
appreciates this kind of, you know, tough guy, wise guy attitude towards
politics. I don`t think it actually plays as well in Iowa or in Minnesota
and places like that as we think it does. And look at the polling of
Christie in Iowa. He`s near the bottom.

SHARPTON: All right. Let`s hold it there. Assemblyman John Wisniewski
and Ryan Grim, thank you both for your time tonight. We`ll be watching
this one.

GRIM: Thank you very much.

WISNIEWSKI: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, we`ll tell you about this 10-year-old`s surprise
visit from President Obama in Hawaii.

And a story that will hit all of your emotions. Beyonce makes a terminally
ill fan`s wish come true. It was beautiful. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Beyonce made a dream come true this holiday season. In a video
posted to her YouTube page on Christmas Eve, Beyonce teamed up with the
Make a Wish Foundation. To help make a terminally ill girl`s wish come
true. Taylon who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor wanted to
dance with Beyonce.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: I found out that I was coming to this concert a couple
days ago, I believe. I am having so much fun. I can`t wait to see
Beyonce.

(BEYONCE PERFORMING)

SHARPTON: That special moment brought Taylon to tears. Tears of joy.
It`s a moment and a wish that Taylon and her family will never forget. All
thanks to Beyonce and the amazing work from the Make a Wish Foundation.
Our prays are with Taylon and her family.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Finally tonight, the first family`s Hawaiian vacation and a
surprise from the president. Ten-year-old Christian Lavelle was at a
Marine Corp Base when the president showed up for a morning workout. He
signed an autograph for her. The president wrote to Christian, dream big
dreams. Signed Barack Obama. Nice move, Mr. President, and what a memory
for Christian. 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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