updated 1/6/2014 10:57:17 AM ET 2014-01-06T15:57:17

SharptonPOLITICS NATION
January 2, 2014

Guests: Jim McDermott, Gordon Johnson, Goldie Taylor, Ryan Grim, Patricia Murphy

REV. AL SHARPTON, HOST, POLITICS NATION: Good evening. Happy new year,
Ed, and thanks to you for tuning in.

Tonight`s Lead, happy new year to all and a healthy new year to millions
getting coverage for the first time despite more than 40 repeal votes by
House Republicans, despite hysterical Right Wing rhetoric, and despite
threats of impeachment.

6 million Americans are now receiving insurance coverage under the
President`s healthcare law.

Welcome to 2014.

On January 1st, coverage went into effect for 2.1 million people who
enrolled in private plans through the health exchanges. It took effect for
another 3.9 million covered through Medicaid expansion. This is a major
milestone. It`s a day the president looked towards when he signed the
affordable care act into law nearly four years ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`ll take four years to
implement fully many of these reforms because we need to implement them
responsibly. When this exchange is up and running, millions of people will
get tax breaks to help them afford coverage which represents the largest
middle class tax cut for health care in history. That`s what this reform`s
about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Six million Americans now covered. And millions more are
benefiting from other protections taking effect this month. Insurance
companies can no longer charge women more than men for the same coverage.
Insurance can no longer place limits on annual coverage leaving families to
foot the bill for outrageous cost. And they no longer deny coverage based
on pre-existing conditions, one of the most notorious abuses under the old
system.

This is real progress and a great way to start the New Year for millions of
families. And yet, the far right still doesn`t get it. Here`s what
senator shutdown, Ted Cruz, tweeted on New Year`s Eve. Quote, "re-tweet if
you hope 2014 brings a full repeal of Obamacare."

Congressman Eric Cantor said today that Republicans will start 2014 with
more house Votes taking aim at Obamacare. And a right wing group backed by
the Koch brothers is spending over $2 million in three states on TV attack
ads.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obamacare doesn`t work. New Hampshire families
deserve better.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell Kay Hagen Obamacare hurts North Carolina.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obamacare hurts Louisiana families.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It`s a New Year, but the same old message from Republicans. And
millions of Americans gaining care this week are sick of hearing it.

Joining me now Congressman Jim McDermott, Democrat of Washington and
MSNBC`s Krystal Ball.

Congressman, Happy New Year, first of all, to both of you.

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: Happy New Year, Rev.

REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D), WASHINGTON: Same to you.

SHARPTON: Congressman, let me ask you. More than 300,000 people in your
state are covered under Obamacare. About 65,000 through private plans.
About 230,000 through Medicaid expansion. Are your Republican colleagues
thinking about those people when they`re thinking and talking about
repealing Obamacare?

MCDERMOTT: Reverend, they`re really not thinking about any people.
They`re just talking about money and they`re talking about an ideology that
says that government should never do anything for anybody. So they can`t
look at the people who are getting insurance and are getting things taken
care of that they haven`t had before. And seriously say we don`t want you
to have coverage.

They just -- they close their eyes and say I don`t believe in government
and I don`t believe we should be doing all this stuff and we ought to
repeal it. I mean, they simply are not looking at the human beings
involved. Because the stories are -- they`re as long as my arm in my
office of all the stories of people calling in and saying, what is this has
done for them?

SHARPTON: Tell us some of what you`re hearing of, Congressman. Give us a
flavor of the people who are calling in.

MCDERMOTT: Well, people who have had things that they`ve been putting off
and they haven`t gone to the doctor. They found a lump and it wasn`t a
very big lump, so they decided they wouldn`t go and see about it. But now
they`re looking forward to being able to go, because they couldn`t figure
how to pay the money for $300 or $400 to go see a doctor about a lump.

Now, if you have insurance and you got a lump, you go see the doctor. And
the doctor looks after it. But if you don`t have insurance, you sit at
home and wait and pray that it`s not cancer. That`s the kind of thing.

SHARPTON: It`s very tough to take that away. Real people. In fact,
President Obama`s grassroots group organizing for America is out with a new
campaign highlighting stories from real people like this getting covered
under Obamacare. Listen to this and tell me how important it is to get the
real people`s story out there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In 2006, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Shortly
thereafter I lost my health care coverage. I`ve been waiting a long time
for January 1st, 2014.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I found a new plan on the exchange. And it`s
going to have a lot more coverage. I`m excited about that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To go from paying, you know, $15, $18 a year to pay in,
you know, less than $300 a month is unbelievable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The maternity services are covered. We`re thinking
about having another kid because we could afford it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Regular people on ads talking about the affordability, talking
about they can now get covered. The congressman talking about real people
facing real health threats. I mean, there`s nothing scarier than having a
health threat. How do the fact that we`re seeing people get this out
there, how is this on the politics of this on Capitol Hill?

BALL: It matters a huge amount. Because not only are these stories real,
not only are there millions of stories like this out there in the country,
but it`s something almost everyone can relate to. When you talk to people
about health care, it is such a personal thing. And everyone knows someone
who has struggled to get insurance, who was denied because of the
preexisting condition, who had a problem with their insurer whose
incentives were always align to try to provide them the least possible
care, and where costs were so high that millions of people have never been
able to afford health insurance.

It`s absolutely critical. And not only is it irresponsible for Republicans
to attack this law without providing another alternative solution. When
you look and listen to stories like those, it`s absolutely immoral. And I
don`t think that Republicans have ever thought through what they are going
to do when this law is a success. They`ve always just convinced themselves
it`s going to fail.

SHARPTON: Well, even beyond that, congressman, not only have they not
thought about what they`re going to do when the law`s a success, they don`t
know what they want to do as alternative to the law they want to repeal.
Many Republicans are still talking about repealing Obamacare even though
they have no backup plan.

Give you an example, Congressman. "The New York Times" asked a Republican
senator named Dan Coats about it. Quote "asked what should be done with
the millions of people getting health care through the law. Senator Coats
said, call the White House and ask them."

I mean, it`s unbelievable.

MCDERMOTT: Well, you know, I sit on the ways and means committee, Al. And
that`s the committee where we wrote the Obamacare or affordable care act.
And members on the other side who are voting again and again and again to
vote out these repeals, I`ve said repeatedly to them, look. If you have an
alternative, why don`t you bring it out here and put it on the table and
let us look at it and vote it up or down. They have no alternative. They
haven`t had one for three years. And yet, all they talk about is getting
rid of what the president has. It`s simply -- it`s mindless kind of
politics and it`s inhuman.

SHARPTON: And it is all of that. That was what I was going to say,
inhuman.

But, you know, Krystal, talking about the insensitivity of it, GOP
governors and lawmakers in 25 states have refused to expand Medicaid. It
denied insurance to nearly five million Americans. We`re not talking now
about posturing. They have refused to expand Medicaid impacting the lives
of five million Americans.

BALL: It is hard to believe that they looked at this situation and looked
at their own state`s resident residents, people who are counting on them as
their public servants to do the right thing and said sorry. My ideology,
my desire to hurt this president says you cannot have health insurance. It
is despicable and I think they will ultimately pay the price in terms of
their political careers.

SHARPTON: Congressman McDermott and Krystal Ball, thank you both for your
time tonight.

BALL: Thanks, Rev.

MCDERMOTT: It is good to see you again.

SHARPTON: And be sure nothing has changed in 2014. Catch Krystal on "the
cycle" week days at 3:00 p.m. right here on MSNBC.

Ahead, the fight to save unemployment benefits for over a million Americans
is on. And pressure is building on Republicans to act.

Plus, the progressive wave rolls into 2014 for New York to Congress to the
White House. Get ready for action on the fight for income equality.

And the mystery deepens in New Jersey. Did Chris Christie shut down a
bridge as a political payback? Big news from the lead investigator leaves
many more questions.

And the comedians get a big new year`s gift. A major announcement from
Toronto`s Mayor Rob Ford. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Have you joined the "Politics Nation" conversation on facebook
yet? We hope you will. This week our facebook audience has been sending a
lot of love to Internet sensation kid president.

Robby Novak made a huge splash last year with his inspirational videos. He
even got the meet the president. But on Monday he had to have surgery to
help with a recurring bone disease.

Carmen says I love this little guy. I`m sending him much love and positive
energy.

Mary says be strong and get well soon.

Hardy says he is what our future most needs. Light, energy, intelligence,
social awareness, and humanity.

Want to send kid president your well wishes? You can do so on our facebook
page. Please head over to facebook and search "Politics Nation" and like
us to join the conversation that keeps going long after the show ends.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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. I know a bipartisan group is working on a three-month
extension of this insurance. They should pass it. And I`ll sign it right
away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: We don`t abandon each other when things are tough. That was
President Obama fighting to save unemployment benefits which expired last
week. And Democrats are ready to follow his lead.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid will hold a vote Monday to extend jobless
benefits for three months saying, quote, "the rich are getting richer, the
poor are getting poorer. The middle class is getting squeezed. It`s just
not fair."

He`s right. It`s not fair. So far 1.3 million people have lost their
jobless benefits because Republicans refused to act. And already families
across the country are getting hit very hard.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m very scared. You know, I mean, you know, where am
I going to pay my mortgage? I love my home, but , you know, I`m afraid to
lose it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m going to have to either look for a temporary part-
time job doing menial labor or I`m going to have to consider giving up the
house.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s important especially when it`s the only income
that I had. I have to like really push my schooling off to the side for
the moment just to maintain some employment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wouldn`t be worried of how I was going to keep the
car or pay my mortgage. It`s not just me. I have three boys I have to
think of. They`re my first priority.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Real people in real pain. Those are the voices to Republicans
should be listening to.

Joining me now is Jared Bernstein, former chief economist for vice
president Biden.

Thanks for coming on the show, Jared.

JARED BERNSTEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: My pleasure, Rev.

SHARPTON: Why would Republicans let this happen when it hurts so many
people and it hurts the larger economy as well, Jared?

BERNSTEIN: It`s a good question. I think the misunderstanding among
Republicans is that the economy which is clearly improving is somehow back
to a place where any job seeker can find a job that will meet their
qualities, that will meet the kind of skills they bring to the labor
market. Now you and I and all those people you just talked to know that`s
not though case. They`re confusing an economy that`s on the mend with an
economy that`s healed. In fact, the share of long-term unemployment is
twice as high as it`s been in the past when Congress has extended emergency
benefits like this.

SHARPTON: You know, look at some of these that are the grinches on the
right who stole Christmas. That`s when this expired. In senator Rand
Paul`s state of Kentucky, 18,000 people have lost their jobless benefits.
Senator Chambliss let 54,000 lose their jobs in Georgia. And Senator Ted
Cruz allowed over 64,000 Texans to lose theirs. On Monday these senators
will vote on jobless benefits. I mean, how can they not extend them for
voters back home if nothing else, Jared?

BERNSTEIN: I mean, if you look across the states where many of these
Republican representatives hold office, Illinois, Ohio, you mentioned
Georgia, Mississippi, Florida. Many of these states have unemployment
rates that are above the national average. And by the way, I think the
unfortunate thing, as you said, they`re going to vote against it, this may
never come to a vote. They may employ a filibuster so that there is no
cloture, meaning that they don`t even allow the vote to come to the floor .

We`ll see that on Monday whether Harry Reid has the votes to at least get
this to a vote. If it does get to a vote one of the things that we hoped
is that over this recess, the kind of points you just made, the people you
shows in your introduction would move this in the right direction. I`m
afraid that may not of happened.

SHARPTON: But what this means for the economy as well, clearly it helps
people that are in pain and need it. People that worked and lost their
jobs and who are seeking employment. But the economy, what it means to the
economy and the health of the country`s economy, what does that mean,
Jared?

BERNSTEIN: Well, very important. Clearly, unemployed people go out and
spend their unemployment insurance benefits. They have to, to meet their
family budgets. And when they do so, they create more economic activity
throughout the economy. If they go and buy groceries, that means someone
has to restock those shelves and there`s another job. The congressional
budget office, nonpartisan analysts, tell us that by failing to extend
unemployment insurance benefits, we`re shaving two to four-tenths off of
GDP growth this year. That could be as much as two to 300,000 jobs.

SHARPTON: Jared Bernstein, thank you for your time tonight.

BERNSTEIN: You`re welcome.

SHARPTON: Coming up, did Governor Christie shut down a bridge for
political payback? The lead investigator is breaking news, and it puts
Christie on the hot seat.

Plus Florida Governor Rick Scott vowed to drug test people on welfare.
Tonight I vow to say we got you.

And think the Rob Ford reality show ended last year? Think again. News
today making comedians very happy. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Florida`s Republican Governor Rick Scott may be in for a rough
new year. He`s up for re-election with polls showing that just 23 percent
of voters say he`s doing a good or excellent job.

And now a federal judge has struck down one of his pet programs, drug
testing poor people. In 2011, Scott signed the law to drug test all
welfare applicants in Florida. And this is how the governor explained his
reasoning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: SCOTT, FLORIDA: Studies show people on welfare are
higher users of drugs than people not on welfare. Studies show that people
on welfare are using drugs much higher than the population.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I don`t know which studies governor Scott`s referring to, but
his math just doesn`t add up. In Florida only two percent of welfare
applicants failed Rick Scott`s drug test, two percent. But nationwide, the
percentage of Americans who use illegal drugs is nearly nine percent.

Scott also claimed his program would save money. But Florida lost money
when it had to reimburse everyone who didn`t test positive. Rick Scott`s
crusade to drug test poor people turned into a national joke even the daily
show poked fun at him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To take down this cartel, I had to get the kingpin.
Governor Rick Scott.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the money that went through the legislature were
not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, you benefit from hundreds of thousands of
taxpayer dollars every year. So would you be willing to pee in this cup to
prove to Florida`s taxpayers that you`re not on drugs? You are not using
money for drugs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have done it plenty of times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You would?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have done it plenty of times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you pass this forward to the governor. We can
all turn around. It`s fine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And guess who else thinks this law is a joke. The federal judge
who just struck it down as unconstitutional.

Governor Scott, did you think we wouldn`t notice your lame drug test had
failed miserably? Nice try, but you get an "f" because we got you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: For too long we had a problem in this country. The rich has
gotten richer while everyone else struggles to get by. Over the last 50
years, the top one percent have seen their income grow by 271 percent. But
the vast majority of Americans, they barely made any gains. That`s deeply
unfair.

But there`s a battle to change that. And it`s being led by progressives.
New York just swore in a new mayor who ran on a platform to change this.
This broken system that keeps perpetrating this kind of inequality.

After swearing in Bill De Blasio, former president Bill Clinton praised
this focus on fairness.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. PRES. BILL CLINTON, UNITED STATES: This inequality problem bedevils
the entire country. And I can tell you from my work, much of the world.
But it is not just a moral outrage, it is a horrible constraint on economic
growth and on giving people the security we need. We cannot go forward if
we don`t do it together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That focus on creating an economy built for everyone is being
felt all over the country. Thirteen states raised their minimum wage
yesterday. That means a pay raise for nearly 2.5 million low-income
Americans. And now the president and Democrats are ramping up pressure on
the issue as well. Making it a key focus of the 2014 election. In
Washington, strong progressives like Senator Elizabeth Warren are voicing
the concerns that Americans have felt for far too long.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: There is nobody in this country
who got rich on his own. Nobody.

We need a strong cop on the beat to make sure no one steals your purse on
Main Street or your pension on Wall Street. Wall Street CEOs, the same
ones who wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs still strut
around Congress no shame demanding favors and acting like we should thank
them. Does anyone here have a problem with that? Well, I do too. I do
too.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I have a problem with that too. But now from the White House to
the Congress to cities all across this country, people are looking to do
something about it.

Joining me now are Ryan Grim and Patricia Murphy. Happy New Years and
thank you both for coming on the show tonight.

RYAN GRIM, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Happy New Year, Reverend.

PATRICIA MURPHY, CITIZEN JANE POLITICS: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Patricia, Elizabeth Warren has made the issue of income
inequality an issue in the Senate.

MURPHY: Yes. Absolutely, she has. I think she is really filling the
shoes of somebody like Senator Paul Wellstone and Senator Ted Kennedy.
After those two senators died, we didn`t have a strong progressive voice in
the Senate to take up that battle. And she`s had a lot of success to doing
that. I do think however that Democrats are going to have to have either a
lot more senators like Elizabeth Warren or they`re going to need to start
to see challenges from the left in the way that the Tea Party conservatives
are challenging Republicans for the right in order to actually move
legislation through the Senate on its own. Otherwise they`re going to have
to keep doing deals with Republicans. So, Elizabeth Warren has shown what
is possible. But I think a lot more is going to have to change in the
makeup of the Senate in order to know what`s likely to happen.

SHARPTON: But Ryan, when you read today E.J. Dionne`s piece in the
"Washington Post," he makes an important point about the need for a strong
left. He writes, when politicians can ignore the questions posed by the
left and a push to focus almost exclusively on the right`s concerns, the
results is immoderate and ultimately impractical policy. To create a real
center, you need a real left. What do you think, Ryan?

GRIM: I think that`s right. And I think the additional consequence of it
is that the people in the center actually then start moving left. And just
take a look at Bill Clinton at De Blasio`s swearing in. Bill Clinton, you
know, comes out and says, look, you know, inequality is the driving force
of our time. And if we think back, the Clintons here, these are the
triangulating more centrist, you know, faction within the party. But
Hillary Clinton I think sees kind of the way the wind is blowing here. And
she has to kind of move closer to this populist wing. So not only do you
have, you know, a strong left creating a stronger center, but actually the
center can actually move towards the more populist wing.

But Patricia, doesn`t that begin to answer some of your point and concern
about the Senate? When you see Bill Clinton who brought the Democratic
Party to the center and many of us fell right of center in the `90s.
Triangulation as Ryan says. Dick Morris was a secret campaign adviser in
re-election. For Bill Clinton to now talk about income inequality and move
that far to the left, doesn`t it show the footsteps of voters are being
heard by more moderate Democrats?

MURPHY: I think it shows that the footsteps of 2016 are being heard by the
Clinton family.

SHARPTON: Oh, that too.

MURPHY: Well, just that too. That just too. Also, you know, they`re very
close with Bill de Blasio. He was Hillary Clinton`s 2000 campaign manager
when she was running for Senate. So they have a long standing relationship
with him. But if you do listen to the language of the way he was praising
Bill de Blasio, I think it`s so important because he was talking about
income inequality that has only become more acute in the more recent years.
And as we`ve seen the recession start to ease off in terms of the markets,
the housing market, the stock market, it has not just eased off for just
average Americans.

And that is where I think Democrats can start to really exploit this issue
or at least make it an issue that is not just about progressives, but it`s
about the American people, and it`s about the middle class. When you`re
not just talking about what is an issue that can be labeled as progressive
but instead, what is an issue like the minimum wage that 57 percent of
Republicans think should be raised. Seventy percent of moderates think
should be raised when they start to push this issue out. I think that`s
when they really going to start to get traction on these issues. And the
Clintons are smart enough to know that. And I think that we`re starting to
see when Bill Clinton starts to make those moves, many more Democrats are
going to start to listen to that and I think start to moving in same
direction.

SHARPTON: And many more Democrats Ryan are going to have to see the same
thing. Because the issues as Patricia says, 84 percent of Democrats would
like to see the minimum wage raised. So do 70 percent of moderates, 57
percent of Republicans. So this is not just a progressive issue. This is
an American issue. But despite that, the right wing continues to bash the
idea of raising the minimum wage. Listen to this, Ryan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Raising the minimum wage doesn`t have
one significant economic benefit.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), OHIO: When you raise the price of employment, guess
what happens. You get less of it.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: A minimum wage law is as good as it may sound in the
outset, it`s not the way to do it.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I don`t think raising minimum wage and history is very
clear about this, doesn`t actually accomplish those goals.

LIMBAUGH: The minimum wage is not about economics or standard of living.
It`s just a leftist prop.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So, Ryan, it`s just a leftist prop. In other thing, this
shooting is down. But the polls clearly show most Americans including 57
percent of Republicans want to see the raise of minimum wage. This income
inequality is real.

GRIM: You know -- right. And that`s an excellent point. And I think it
actually distinguishes Elizabeth Warren from Paul Wellstone and Ted Kennedy
that Patricia was mentioning earlier. You know, those were liberal lions
and they were champions in the Senate, but Elizabeth Warren is a slightly
different political figure. She`s more trans-partisan. She`s not exactly
a standard liberal. And that`s why people use the word populist a lot when
they`re referring to her. Kind of a left populist. Because her issues are
broadly popular. Like you said, the minimum wage is broadly popular among
Republicans. So is targeting Wall Street. No, you`re going to find huge
numbers of Republicans who think that Wall Street is out of control and has
too much power.

SHARPTON: Well, we`ll be tracking this issue all year. Ryan Grim and
Patricia Murphy, thanks for your time this evening.

MURPHY: Thank you.

GRIM: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, new questions for Chris Christie on the bridge
scandal. And things could get a lot worse. A whole lot worse.

Plus big news from Toronto. Mayor Rob Ford. We`ll tell you why he may be
adding to his blooper reel. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: It`s the New Jersey misery that just isn`t going away. We`ve
told you how two top aides to Governor Christie resigned in the face of
questions over wide two lanes on the busiest bridge in the world were shut
down for four days in September. They said the close, it was part of a
traffic study of the George Washington Bridge. But other officials said
that wasn`t true. And some believe it was political payback. Because the
closure caused huge traffic jams in the town of Fort Lee, New Jersey. And
Fort Lee`s democratic mayor didn`t endorse Governor Christie in his re-
election campaign.

But we may learn more next week. Because former Port authority official
David Wildstein has been ordered to testify at a New Jersey Assembly
hearing one week from today. He`s the one who ordered the lane closure and
later resigned. He`s also a high school friend of Governor Christie`s.
But the assemblyman leading the investigation says, the story`s bigger than
just one-eight. He told the local paper, the lane closures quote, "came
from a higher authority." And there are words that are used that would
imply an improper motive. Now, Governor Christie has not responded to this
latest news but has denied any involvement.

(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, I know why that is and
so do you. It is because I am a national figure and anything like this
will be written about a lot now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Not that big a deal? I think we`ll have to wait and see.
Joining me now are New Jersey Assemblyman Gordon Johnson who represents
Fort Lee, New Jersey, and MSNBC contributor Goldie Taylor. Thank you both
for your time and for being here.

STATE ASSEMBLYMAN GORDON JOHNSON (D), NEW JERSEY: Thanks for having me on.

GOLDIE TAYLOR, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Assemblyman, now, one of your colleagues now says the decision
comes from a higher authority. What`s your reaction to that?

JOHNSON: Well, you know, the transportation committee has received about
5,000 pages of subpoena documents.

SHARPTON: Right.

JOHNSON: Somewhere in there, John Wisniewski, the chair of the
Transportation Committee feels that there is something else that goes
beyond Mr. Baroni and Mr. Wildstein order this lane closures, so is now
thought that this order came from outside of the Port authority somewhere
in those pages. So, we have to I guess on January 10th when Mr. Wildstein
-- the Transportation Committee and testifies under oath, we`ll know
exactly what has sparked this comment from John Wisniewski.

SHARPTON: Now, Goldie, the reason that this is such a story is the
political implications of Chris Christie who`s a national figure now as he
says. But who is being widely proclaimed as a possible candidate for
president in 2016. And this would if, in fact, if at all implicates him
would show how he does politics or worse if he ends up being proven to be
involved at all.

TAYLOR: You know, I think the operative phrase here Reverend Sharpton is
as he says. A lot of us have propped up Chris Christie as a national
figure, someone who is able to attract, you know, people from both sides of
the aisle to a common solution. And that really just hasn`t proven to be
so. If you look at the economic record in the state of New Jersey. If you
look at Christie`s overall record. His animus towards school teachers and
unions for instance.

So I think that we have got a step back and take a really, really hard look
and how much coverage we give to somebody like Chris Christie. You know,
whether or not this pans out to be true remains to be seen. But if it is
true, it certainly caters to the narrative that Christie`s a bully. That
he is very hard on people who, you know, might disagree with him
politically for a very small slice of maybe some huge retribution. So, it
certainly plays into that narrative. We don`t elect presidents like that.
We don`t elect mean guys as presidents.

SHARPTON: And that`s the issue. The temperament and the way he does
politics if he`s offering himself -- if he were offering himself to be a
presidential candidate. If he is proven to be involved in any way in this
manner. Now, Assemblyman, one of the things that I think makes this issue
not go away other than the notoriety of the governor is that the
assemblyman that is leading the investigation says, he`d looked through all
of the e-mails, text messages and other documents that has found no traffic
related reason for the closure. He`s Quote, "I`ve gone through all 907
pages twice since Christmas and I`ve never seen any explanation." Now, do
you think this is part of the reason this won`t go away? They said this
was about a traffic study. Yet they can`t find any documentation or any
good explanation for what happened to you.

JOHNSON: There are two things to that. First, they said it was a traffic
study. In addition to that, they said it was a specific special entrance
for Fort Lee residents. Neither of them has found to be true. There is no
special entrance for Fort Lee residents. Goes all the entrance to the --
Fort Lee. There`s no signage that says there`s special entrance for the
Fort Lee residents. And this traffic study, this fictitious traffic study
has sound to me, nonexistent. Mr. Foi (ph), the executive director knew
nothing about a traffic study. And you think he would know about it if
there actually was one.

SHARPTON: You know, when we look at a recent new FOX News poll, Goldie, it
shows Christie leading the field in a potential Republican primaries in
2016. He got 16 percent compared to 12 percent for Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan,
and Jeb Bush. What effect will this kind of bridge story have on his
standing with the Republican Party voters nationally?

TAYLOR: Well, there`s a couple of things there, Reverend Al. You know,
the numbers today may not be the numbers tomorrow. I don`t think we know
the Chris Christie today that we`re going to know in 2016, number one.
Two, conservatives around the south. Conservatives across the old rust
belt, you know, these are the kinds of people who don`t get behind a Chris
Christie candidacy and really can`t on principle reasons. You know, a lot
of people want to compare Chris Christie to Mitt Romney saying well he was
a moderate too.

Well, Mitt Romney had something going for him. A very splintered GOP
primary and a war chest that really overwhelmed his competitors. And so
this issue to me is much like saying that you`re for pushing the economic
development when you`re really for shutting it down. Because that`s
shutting down. It`s as if he shut down the key bridge in D.C. or shutdown
the Bay Bridge in San Francisco to Oakland. You`re keeping people from
getting to work. I don`t think that`s the kind of president we`re looking
for.

SHARPTON: You represent Fort Lee. It really, really put a burden on the
people there. And one would hate to think this was politically motivated.
I mean, give us quickly a sense of what this did to your city.

JOHNSON: You had middle class people trying to get to work. You had first
responders trying to get to calls. The traffic chaos that it created by
its closures increased the respond time for a police and for EMS and for
the Fire Department. We had one incident where a person was having cardiac
arrest. The response time was increased because the ambulance couldn`t get
-- because it`s traffic there. There was a call of a missing child in Fort
Lee.

SHARPTON: Wow!

JOHNSON: The police couldn`t investigate thoroughly because of the traffic
chaos created by this closure.

SHARPTON: So this was serious. Well, I`m going to have to hold it there.
We`ll certainly be watching this hearing next week. Assemblyman Gordon
Johnson and Goldie Taylor, thank you to both for being on the show. Happy
New Year to you both.

TAYLOR: Happy New Year.

JOHNSON: Happy New Year to you Reverend Al and thank you for having me on.

SHARPTON: Up next, why 2014 may be a big year for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford
and for late night comedians everywhere. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Big news today from our neighbors to the north. Toronto Mayor
Rob Ford has officially filed to run for re-election. He was the first
candidate to show up at Toronto City Hall to register today. He tweeted
this photo writing just filed my paperwork for the 2014 election. And he
sounded confident.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR ROB FORD, TORONTO: I`ve got the strongest track record. I`ve been
the best mayor that this city`s ever had.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Well, the comedians in the United States agree, but there was
that whole smoking crack thing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Do you smoke crack cocaine?

FORD: Exactly. Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: When, sir?

FORD: But no -- do I? Am I an addict? No.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And of course he refused to resign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FORD: There is no need for me to take a leave of absence. I am not
leaving here. I`m going to sit here. I`m going to attend every meeting.
I`m not absolutely taking a leave of absence. Most definitely keeping this
job.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I guess that`s up to the people of Toronto to decide. After
all, they`ve seen this show up close.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FORD: I`m not going to continue this meeting until I get to move that
budget. Because this snitch should be back in his cage where he comes
from. You slithering snake.

(INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(bleep)

Holy Christ!

SHARPTON: So you thought the GOP primary was a reality show? Wait until
you see this one. Mayor Ford even announced today he`d like to have 200
debates in the upcoming election. And the late night comedians are dancing
like the man tonight. Better get the popcorn out, this is going to be fun.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Finally tonight, the power of forgiveness. Seventeen-year-old
Claire Davis was shot and killed last month by a classmate at her Colorado
High School. Yesterday her parents remembered her and honored her with
wonderful words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL DAVIS, CLAIRE DAVIS` FATHER: My wife and I forgive Karl Pierson
for what he did. Because he didn`t know what he was doing. We would ask
all of you here and all of you watching to search your hearts and also
forgive Karl Pierson. He didn`t know what he was doing. Karl is no longer
with us, so it`s no longer our responsibility to pass judgment. As each of
us will do one day, Karl has faced the infinite alone. Unchecked anger and
rage can lead to hatred and unchecked hatred can lead to blindness and a
loss of knowing, a loss of humanity.

The last thing Desiree and I would want is to perpetuate this anger and
rate and hatred in connection with Claire. Claire would also not want
this. As citizens of our community, the state of Colorado, our nation, and
the world, we must strive for kindness, compassion, peace, and love to
maintain our humanity. We can`t allow anger, range, or hatred to take root
now or ever. And as we all move forward with our lives, we would like to
ask you to join us and honor Claire by forever showing compassion and
forgiveness and using whatever is within your power to reach out to those
around you that might need the light of your love to help guide them
through the darkness.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Unchecked anger and rage. They did not want that associated
with their daughter. The strength to forgive, the power to rise above
their pain and use the legacy they wish for their daughter to be that of
love and forgiveness. Many of us have struggled over the last 24 hours on
New Year`s resolutions. Maybe we would not be strong enough to forgive
everything, but maybe we could be strong enough to take his advice and
leave unchecked anger and rage in 2013. And have a New Year committed to
higher ground.

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

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BE UPDATED.
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