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PoliticsNation, Thursday, January 9th, 2014

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January 9, 2014

Guests: Margie Omero; Marlene Caride, Bob Ingle, Mark Hannah, Donna Edwards, Jonathan Mason

Schultz. "Politics Nation" with Reverend Al Sharpton starts right now.

Good evening, Rev.

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Ed. And thanks to you
for tuning in.

Well, tonight`s lead, stonewall. Silence today from David Wildstein. He
is the former Christie appointee at the center of the bridge scandal. He
was called to testify in front of a New Jersey legislative committee, but
said nothing.


council, I respectfully assert my right to remain silent under the United
States and New Jersey constitutions.


SHARPTON: And at the same time, this amazing scene was playing out,
another amazing scene was finishing up in Trenton, New Jersey. Governor
Christie broke his silence in an extraordinary press conference. He spoke
for an hour and 48 minutes, apologizing to New Jersey residents and taking
the blame.

He announced he fired his deputy chief of staff, the woman who e-mailed Mr.
Wildstein. Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee is what her e-mail
said. And he announced his former campaign manager won`t be taking over as
the head of the New Jersey Republican party as planned. But the governor`s
bottom line, he had nothing to do with the scandal.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I am embarrassed and humiliated by
the conduct of some of the people on my team. I had no knowledge or
involvement in this issue in its planning or its execution, and I am
stunned by the abject stupidity that was shown here. I was blindsided
yesterday morning. We have nothing to hide. This administration has
nothing to hide.


SHARPTON: And over and over the governor talked about how sad he was about
the whole situation.


CHRISTIE: I`m sad. I`m sad. That`s the predominant emotion I feel right
now, is sadness. I am heartbroken that someone who I permitted to be in
that circle of trust for the last five years betrayed my trust. I`m
incredibly disappointed. I don`t think I`ve gotten to the angry stage yet,
but I`m sure I`ll get there. I`m sad. I`m a sad guy standing here today
and very disappointed.


SHARPTON: A full performance from this governor. But it came at the same
time Christie`s former appointee, a man who could give answers, was
stonewalling. It came as we learned from an EMS coordinator for Fort Lee
said the traffic affected, quote, "the response times and delay of care and
treatment to medical and traumatic injury patients within the borough of
Fort Lee and potentially out of town emergencies.

And the governor`s press conference came as the U.S. attorney`s office
announced it has opened an inquiry. Other investigations are looming.
This afternoon, Governor Christie met with the mayor of Fort Lee, Mayor
Mark Sokolich, who accepted Christie`s apologize. Christie saying it was a
very warm, very productive meeting. But they`re there are still so many
questions left unanswered.

Joining me now are MSNBC`s Steve Kornacki and Krystal Ball.

Thank you both for being here.

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: Thanks for having us, Rev.

SHARPTON: Now, the question everyone is talking about, let`s cut to the
chase, do you believe Governor Christie?

Steve, you covered New Jersey politics for years. Was the governor
believable today?

a heck of a performance to go on that long, to be that emphatic the whole
time. I mean, my instinct tells me there is an in between, between the
idea that he hatched the scheme, was in on it from the beginning and knew
all about it, and the idea that he was totally blindsided, didn`t have any
inkling, anything could have possibly, you know, been amiss, until
yesterday. And I think that gray area you basically call willful
ignorance. That`s what my instinct tells me that Christie probably put two
and two together some time ago. In my mind, you can`t, as the governor, in
the face of all the press reports that were out there, all you`re getting
from the New York side and the port authority, you know, what people in
your own administration, resignations from within your own team in the port
authority, you cannot be suspicious.

SHARPTON: But then, that`s the point I want to ask you, Krystal. You have
two resignations in December.

BALL: Right.

SHARPTON: So if you didn`t know anything before then, two of your

BALL: Right.

SHARPTON: One you have known since school resigned. Don`t you find out
then what is going on? Don`t you start really digging down then? Don`t
you go to Fort Lee then and see the mayor? I mean, why didn`t he dig down
then? Why did he wait until the e-mails were disclosed or leaked on

BALL: Right. And I think that`s the part that really strains the realm of
the plausible, right? We knew authority officials had testified that there
was no traffic study, right? This thing was invented. So even though he
still relied on that crutch today, we know there was no traffic study.

So Christie, the former prosecutor, the tough no nonsense guy, he is not
going to get to the bottom of this? He is not going to root out the facts
in every way that he can? That`s the part that really strains

I agree with Steve. We don`t know if he was directly connected. That part
I can believe. But it seems pretty clear from the e-mails and the text
messages that were released that the people who were acting on his behalf,
even if they didn`t have direction directly from him thought that this was
appropriate. There was a culture that had been created where they thought
this was the thing that they should be doing, and that it was an acceptable
thing for them to do given the culture that had obviously created it.

SHARPTON: Let`s go into the next question. Let`s dig a little deeper in

They say it`s the deputy chief of staff, Bridget Ann Kelly. The question
is did she act alone? Did Governor Christie`s former deputy chief of staff
do all this by herself? Now, Kelly worked for the governor since 2010.

Steve, what do you make of this?

KORNACKI: Knowing her going back more than ten years, really 12 years is
when I met her when she was working for an assemblyman from Bergen County,
I have a very hard time believing that she is the one, this originated with
her, that she is the one who gave the order, that she is the mastermind
behind this. I think what is interesting --

SHARPTON: So wait a minute. You`re saying as one who actually knows her.


SHARPTON: And you`ve known her 10 or 12 years.

KORNACKI: And I got to say, when you think of like the stereotypes of New
Jersey political culture, and she, to me, she did not fit them at all and
not just me. If you talk to anybody, I think who knew her before her Chris
Christie days, who knew her as an aide to assemblyman Dave Russo from
Bergen County, they would tell you if you had gone back in time in 2005 and
said this is where Bridget Kelly is going to be in 2014, they would say
that`s crazy?


KORNACKI: And to me -- it totally does not fit the type of a political
payback artist. You know, as a very intelligent woman, very smart woman,
but not a kind of person who is going to think this viciously who can think
up a cutthroat scheme like this and execute it and carry it out. It does
not seem in keeping with the woman I knew at all.

SHARPTON: Is that credible to you, Krystal? I mean, because Congressman
Pascrell said the same thing that Steve is saying. He knew her when she
worked for this assemblyman. And he said she was not the kind of woman he
felt got up in the morning and said let`s do some political retribution by
jamming traffic.

BALL: Yes. Well, and I don`t know her personally. I certainly trust
Steve`s judgment on this. But that`s the other piece of this that Christie
seems not to want to ask, OK. So if it wasn`t her, where did this
direction come from? If it`s not something that she thought up on her own,
then where did it come from, who was directing her to do this?

SHARPTON: But I`m even asking you a different question, because I
understand that Steve knows her. I`m asking you as one that does not know
her, is it believable to you that a deputy chief of staff would on their
own cook this up.


SHARPTON: And have the ability to order two appointees in the port
authority to execute an independent plan of hers?

BALL: Right. Well, no, a. But b, if we were to believe that that was the
case, I mean, that`s a whole other issue that the deputy chief of staff can
order lane closures and go about this whole project on her own with no
oversight whatsoever.

SHARPTON: I don`t know how she does that.

BALL: Right. That does not make any kind of sense.

SHARPTON: And Steve, you would have to ask yourself, if she picks up the
phone, let`s take out as we`re getting from the governor and she calls her,
she e-mails this around, by what authority do the appointees on the port
authority take orders from her unless they felt she was speaking for a
higher authority?

KORNACKI: Right. I mean, that`s why -- this is just speaking. If you
talk to people in New Jersey politics, you`ll pick up a lot of suspicion
around the name Bill Steppian (ph). He was the campaign manager.


KORNACKI: All we have in the e-mails that came out is there is no proof of
Steppian (ph) being part of the plan. But he does pop up in the e-mails
ridiculing the mayor of Fort Lee. He is connected to the e-mails enough
for Christie to basically toss him aside today.

Bill Steppian`s former job, he is a long-time political operative in New
Jersey. His job before he was Chris Christie`s campaign manager in 2013
was he was like the local enforcer for the governor`s office. His job is
the job that Bridget Kelly has right now. Where his job is to look around
the state, and hey, this guy is out of line. We got to get this mayor back
in line. In a perfect world this is done ethically, but that sort of his
job. So, he was sort of operating in that world to begin with where he is
looking around the state like people at the mayor of Fort Lee.

SHARPTON: Yes. But that brings me to the question is puzzling to me all
day. Why do it?

BALL: Right.

SHARPTON: Governor Christie says he wasn`t expecting this mayor`s
endorsement. This mayor is a Democrat. He claims the guy wasn`t even on
his radar. And the mayor said yesterday he was never asked for the
endorsement. So could this be about something else? I mean, why do this
about a mayor of an opposing party? I mean, why would you have retribution
against him?

BALL: Well, and I think that`s the piece of this that is so puzzling
because Christie won in such a landslide anyway. He won Fort Lee, as
Stevie pointed out earlier today.

SHARPTON: Fort Lee wasn`t exactly the decider of this election.

BALL: Right. Well, and it seems so petty, so petty, so small. And
especially Chris Christie, his whole brand is I`m above the fray. I`m a
leader. I cut through all the nonsense and get to the point. And it makes
him seem very, very small and vindictive, even if his fingerprints are not
directly on this. I think it`s obvious he has created that culture.

SHARPTON: What is the standout question?

KORNACKI: What I think is if you talk to -- if you give a Republican in
New Jersey truth serum, they will tell you that this administration, the
Christie administration has been uniquely hands-on relative at a local
level relative to previous governorships. This includes the governor
himself. You can talk to Republicans who are pretty far down the totem
pole politically. We are talking about like mayors here and members of
Congress, people expectedly call on the governor. People dealing with very
sort of microscopic municipal matters, political matters that decoded, I
mean, these sorts of things, will have stories. I`ve heard this over and
over, of getting personal calls from the governor.

BALL: Right.

KORNACKI: Right. So, Republican -- Republican, I talked to Republicans
today who said I`m surprised about this because I thought Christie was
politically smart and I haven`t known what to make of it. He said at the
same time I`m not surprised by it because this is an administration, this
is a team in many ways that has defined itself by political payback.

SHARPTON: Steve Kornacki and Krystal Ball, thank you both for your time.

BALL: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: And watch what`s "Up with Steve Kornacki" weekends at 8:00 a.m.
eastern and Krystal on "the Cycle" weekdays at 3:00 p.m. eastern. Both are
right here on MSNBC.

Coming up, where does this investigation go? What happens next? And will
Chris Christie testify?

Plus, the guy who shut down the lanes pleads the fifth today. Could his
silence speak volumes? That`s next.


SHARPTON: Why did the man at the center of the bridge scandal refuse to
talk today? That`s next.


SHARPTON: Will silence speak volumes? Today, the man responsible for
closing the lanes was called to testify in front New Jersey state
lawmakers. But he took the fifth refusing to answer questions.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most recently, where were you employed?

WILDSTEIN: On the advice of my council, I respectfully assert my right to
remain silent under the United States and New Jersey constitutions.

On the advice of counsel, I again, assert my right to remain silent.

On the advice of counsel, I assert my right to remain silent.

Mr. Chairman, on the advice of counsel, I assert my right to remain silent.


SHARPTON: So why won`t he talk? And would he answer questions if granted

Joining me now are, New Jersey Democrat Assemblywoman Marlene Caride. She
is on the state committee that is investigating what happened. She was
there in that hearing today and Marjorie Omero.

Thanks for being on the show.


very much, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you, what were you hoping to learn from David
Wildstein today?

CARIDE: The truth, to be honest with you. We`ve been hearing so many
stories. And in light of the e-mails that were given to us that were by
way of the subpoena, the truth would have been nice. But unfortunately,
that was not the case.

SHARPTON: Here is what Governor Christie said today about reports that he
and David Wildstein had been friends since high school. Listen to this.


CHRISTIE: Let me just clear something up, OK, about my childhood friend
David Wildstein. It is true that I met David in 1977 in high school. He
is a year older than me. David and I were not friends in high school. We
were not even acquaintances in high school. I think some of the stories
were written impute like an emotional relationship and closeness between me
and David that doesn`t exist.


SHARPTON: Assemblywoman, does it matter how long he has known Wildstein,
or does it matter what they did? And are you sold by what the governor
said today? Do you find him believable?

CARIDE: Reverend, with regards to Mr. Wildstein and how long he and the
governor have been friends or not friends, I think that the governor`s
actions this morning where he was disassociating himself is really
irrelevant, because in the end, he did appoint Wildstein to the port
authority. So there is some connection between Mr. Wildstein and the

Was I impressed with the governor`s press conference this morning? To be
honest with you, I could not see all of it. I was in committee. I did see
portions of it. The bottom line here, it`s not poor governor Christie. It
is poor residents of Fort Lee and the surrounding residence who for four
days were stuck in two and three-hour traffic with no explanation.

The apologies, you know, I know that the governor went up to apologize, but
it was four months too late.

SHARPTON: Now let me ask you, Margie, the guy taking the fifth, Wildstein,
is that what you think the governor wanted? Does that help or heart the
gorge`s claims?

OMERO: Well, I think for today the governor probably wanted his press
conference where people -- he stood up there and took questions for a long
time. He probably wanted that to be the news story than whatever his
childhood friend, not childhood friend David Wildstein was going to say.

I think going forward, it almost doesn`t matter who says what, who points
the finger at whom, whether everyone`s stories are straight. The damage is
done. What we know is there was a huge deliberate abuse of power that is
not a one-off. It`s consistent with years of bullying behavior. And it`s
consistent what we know about Chris Christie is that he yells at voters.

And I`m from New Jersey. We may like bravado. But the contempt that the
governor shows to regular voters and that his staff showed in those e-mails
and through this action to voters, to regular people is a disgrace. And it
doesn`t fly in New Jersey, you know. It`s not going to fly in Iowa. And
it`s something that is completely appropriate subject of investigation.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you, Assemblywoman Caride, right now as the story is
being told, the deputy chief of staff, she`s the one that we`re being told
did this all on her own. She is responsible. She did this. Do you buy
that? Do you believe that story?

CARIDE: No, I don`t. I don`t believe that this woman woke up on August
13th and e-mailed Mr. Wildstein and said let`s cause a traffic jam in Fort
Lee. I believe that this had been coming down from a higher -- from
someone else who we hope to find out. But I don`t believe that she alone
came up with this idea or that she and Mr. Wildstein came up with this idea
to wreak havoc in Bergen County in Fort Lee, disregard the safety of the
citizens of Fort Lee and the surrounding towns, and be flipped about it.

I think that this is something that there is much more to this story. And
hopefully, we will be able to find out. But no, I don`t believe that she
came up with this alone. However, she did have a hand on it. And her
hands are not clean. She is accountable. And she should be held
accountable, I should say.

SHARPTON: Do you -- is your committee intend to call other people, and if
so who will you subpoena, the governor?

CARIDE: Well, as our chairman today, after the committee hearing stated,
we are interested in subpoenaing the individuals that were mentioned in the
e-mails and in the text messages and the documents that were supplied to us
of which Ms. Kelly is one. There is mention of Mr. Steppian (ph). There
is also mention of Michael Druniak (ph) as well, who is the governor`s
press release go-to guy who he is spoken of throughout the e-mails as well.

So for the time being, those are the individuals that we`re looking at.
But pending on being able to get more documents, especially un-redacted
documents, is very possible that the committee may issue a subpoena to the

In his conference today, he did say that he wants to hold the folks
accountable. And those folks are coming out of his inner circle in the
governor`s office.

SHARPTON: Well, Margie, with that it seems the governor today wanted to
end this. It seems as though after hearing the assemblywoman, this is far
from over.

OMERO: Yes. I mean, you know, he gave his staff an hour to look into this
before, before the last couple of days. But it`s clear that he didn`t
really want to know the answer. So whether he was involved or he didn`t
want to know the answer, he waited until it really blew up and he had no
choice but to deal with it, and then talks about how sad he is.

I mean, it doesn`t ring true for voters, in part because it`s so consistent
with what we know about Chris Christie. And this is not going to go away.
There is no silver bullet fix to stop this story. He could hold a press
conference every day and it would not solve this. It`s going to be a
problem for a long time.

SHARPTON: Assemblywoman Marlene Caride and Margie Omero, thank you both
for your time tonight.

OMERO: Thank you.

CARIDE: Thank you for having me.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, Chris Christie says he is not a bully. But does
his record back that up?

And President Obama`s powerful and personal statement about being raised by
a single mom.

Stay with us.


SHARPTON: New Jersey`s biggest newspaper had some tough words for Chris
Christie after his epic press conference today. "The Star-Ledger"
editorial says, quote, "Christie`s insistence that he found out about this
for the first time at 8:50 yesterday morning, after he had finished his
workout and got a call from his communications director stretches the
bounds of belief." That`s from a paper that endorsed Christie in November.

They also say that despite today`s nearly two-hour briefing, we need a full
accounting from the governor himself.

They are right. We still need a full accounting from to Governor Christie.
We need to know if this was part of a pattern of intimidation in his
administration. Is he a bully? Despite claims to the contrary, that`s


SHARPTON: Within the past hour Governor Christie and Fort Lee Mayor
Sokolich completed what they called a productive meeting. Earlier Governor
Christie made something very clear, he is not a bully. Here is what he
said today when asked if the bridge scandal reveals that he is a bully.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: No, I`m not. Listen, Kelly, politics
ain`t beanbag. OK. And everybody in the country who engages in politics
knows that. On the other hand, that`s very, very different than saying
that, you know, someone is a bully, because I am what I am, but I am not a


SHARPTON: Not a bully. Of course he is. That`s the brand he has created.
The no-nonsense tough guy who doesn`t take anything from anybody. We`ve
seen him show it time and time again.


CHRISTIE: And you know what? And you know what? And you know what? Let
me tell you this. You know what? It`s people who raise their voices and
yell and scream like you that are dividing this country.

You know what, first off, it`s none of your business. I don`t ask you
where you send your kids to school. Don`t bother me about where I send

Did I stay on topic. Are you stupid? On topic. On topic. Thank you all
very much and I`m sorry for the idiot over there.

Let me tell you something, after you graduate from law school, you can
tuck yourself like that in a courtroom, your rear end is going to get
thrown in jail, idiot.


SHARPTON: Christie has gotten to be the way he is by portraying himself as
a guy who is not afraid to throw some sharp elbows. But his political
opponents say there is a darker side to it, a pattern of vindictiveness and
petty politics. For example, back in 2011, Governor Christie accused State
Senator Richard Codey of being quote, "combative and difficult in blocking
two nominees." Codey denied that claim. Three days later Codey was
stripped of the state trooper who accompanied him to public events. And
that same day his cousin who had been appointed to the Port Authority was

Codey says it was the Christie administration, quote, "sending a message."
The governor`s critics say he uses his position to intimidate and control
those around him. And that`s why this new scandal is reviving some serious
questions about Christie`s character and judgment.

Joining me now is Bob Ingle, he`s author of "Chris Christie: The Inside
Story of his Rise to Power." And Mark Hannah, democratic political
analyst. Thank you both for being here.



SHARPTON: Bob, let me start with you. Is the bridge part of a scandal

INGLE: Well, it`s a part of a pattern of stupid political tricks that
aren`t the domain of Chris Christie. I`ve seen it during my whole career.
This one was a little more serious in that there could have been people who
were hurt. But, I don`t know, he is a rough and tough politician. But he
is a New Jerseyan. And a lot of New Jersey people are in your face.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you, Mark, when you look at Christie, today he said
the bridge scandal was an isolated incident. Watch this.


CHRISTIE: This is the exception. It is not the rule of what has happened
over the last four queers in this administration.


SHARPTON: How important is that nationally for him to be true? Because
the reason it is a big story is that he on some polls the front-runner for
the Republican nomination for president of the United States.


SHARPTON: If that is in fact is his ambition, how important is it for him
to act like this is isolated and get this out of the way?

HANNAH: Well, it`s incredibly important for him to act that way, Reverend.
The question is it the case that this is an isolated incident? There is no
question that people like a rough and tumble politician, that people like a
politician who is candid, who speaks, you know, truth to power as
unvarnished. If you can mix that with a real strong sense of ethics, a
real strong sense of virtue in the way you conduct your business, that`s a
powerful recipe.

What is problematic here, this confirms many Republicans` worst fears about
a Christie candidacy. He is perceived as a bully. He is perceived as
somebody who is a little bit of a loose cannon. And this adds validation
to that perception. And I think it`s going to be really tricky for him to
win over donors, early supporters in a primary, in a Republican primary.
So this is a real challenge. He is going to have to get past this. It`s
unclear how that happens when there is a federal investigation that is
about to happen. The inspector general at the Port Authority is
investigating this. I think new stuff is going to come to light. And it
will be interesting to see what we`re talking about on this front in the
days and weeks to come.

SHARPTON: Bob, last month, the director of the George Washington Bridge
gave some revealing testimony about the order to close the bridge. Watch


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: My question to you, is the reason you chose not to
exercise that discretion is because you feared for your employment?

I was concerned about what Mr. Wildstein`s reaction would be if I did not
follow his directive.


SHARPTON: Now, doesn`t that response, doesn`t that response speak volumes
to the possible climate and intimidation in the Christie administration,

INGLE: Well, it certainly says something about the climate and the job
that he was in. He obviously thought that he had to follow orders no
matter what or he would lose his job. At least that`s what I read out of
it. I don`t know that if you went into every agency in state government
there would be the same reaction. But obviously this man felt that he had
to do what he was told to do or else.

SHARPTON: Now, when you look, Mark, at a "New York Times" story about
Christie`s bullying, 2010 Republican State Senator Sean Kean tells a
reporter Christie made a, quote, "mistake not calling earner for an state
emergency after a snowstorm." The governor staff called Mr. Kean and
warned him not to show up at a news conference in his district. His seat
was eliminated in redistricting the following year, and an anonymous
administration official said, quote, "Mr. Kean got what he deserved."

HANNAH: Right.

SHARPTON: That`s a little heavy-handed, don`t you think?

HANNAH: Absolutely. And listen, I was listening to Steve on your show
earlier. He knows this deputy chief of staff who was canned by Christie.
I know a couple of people in the Christie administration. I`m a democratic
analyst, so I`m on the other side of it. They`re good people. They`re not
this kind of bare knuckles New Jersey politicians that you think of. So
when they start acting this way, when they start intimidating local elected
officials, when they start, you know, throwing slurs back and forth with
reporters, you have to wonder where this behavior is encouraged or at the
very least approved by the very, very top.

SHARPTON: Now, Bob, we don`t know what the governor knew if anything when
he knew it. But you wrote the book on his rise.

INGLE: Yes, I did.

SHARPTON: Is this kind of thing in your mind something that is possible or
something totally out of character to the Chris Christie you study? Is
this something that he -- we have no idea whether he was involved or not,
but in your assessment of the person you studied, is he capable of at least
knowing this and tacitly approving this?

INGLE: Well, the thing about this that surprised me, it`s so darned
stupid. And the Chris Christie that I`ve covered for well over a decade is
not a stupid person. I`ve turned this over and over in my mind. Could he
possibly have had a hand in this, because this is so stupid. And he had to
know this was going to happen sooner or later. I guess anybody is capable
of doing that. I guess maybe sometimes when you`re going to win by
overwhelming numbers, you may become a little more arrogant than you
should. As you said, we have no proof either way.


INGLE: I was surprised by it. And it was incredibly stupid.

HANNAH: And I think Christie has been, you know, very candid with calling
voters or asking them whether they`re stupid. I think in the day`s press
conference, he said, you know, called Bridget Kelly`s abject stupidity. So
he is very capable of calling other people stupid. It will be interesting
to see whether he has a sort of self-reflective, kind of self-critical
ability to call himself stupid if in fact it comes to light that there was
some evidence that he knew or should have known that this -- this has been
investigated for two months now, and they said it`s a traffic study. He`s
let`s not forget in charge of the Port authority as well. So conceivably,
he should have known what the nature of this traffic study is. At the very
least, it`s potentially negligent for him not to have known if it`s not

SHARPTON: I`m going to have to leave it there. Bob Ingle and Mark Hannah,
thank you both for your time.

HANNAH: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Ahead, President Obama makes a powerful statement about his
personal commitment to fighting inequality. Also, Republicans know who is
really to blame for poverty in America, single moms. So much for the GOP
trying to show they care about the poor. Stay with us.


SHARPTON: Today President Obama announced a new part of his anti-poverty
agenda, a program to create jobs and expand education in five poor
communities across the country. And he talked about it in very personal
terms. He referenced one of the students on stage, a young man named
roger, who had overcome poverty to become the first in his family to attend


PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: If you want to know why I care
about this stuff so much, it`s because I`m not that different from Roger.
There was a period of time in my life where I was goofing off. I was
raised by a single mom. I didn`t know my dad. The only difference between
me and Roger was my environment was more forgiving than his. If Roger can
make it, and if I can make it, if Kiara can make it, every kid in this
country can make it. But we`ve got to believe in that. We can`t just give
lip service to it.


SHARPTON: This isn`t about politics. It`s about people. It`s personal.
And while this president is speaking passionately about being raised by a
single mom, Republicans are blaming single mothers for poverty in America.
Just yesterday, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann released a statement saying
when government has policies that induce people to either not get married
or to bear a child out of wedlock, poverty persists. She`s not the only
one spouting this nonsense.


REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: Heard this story over and over and over.
How as a young girl in high school she was bored with high school and
someone suggested, well, why don`t you just drop out of high school and
have a baby. And then the government will send you a check, and they`ll
send you a check for every baby you have out of wedlock.


SHARPTON: Single moms don`t deserve to be demonized. And if the GOP is
serious about fixing poverty, they need to change their rhetoric and get
their facts straight.

Joining me now is Congresswoman Donna Edwards, democrat of Maryland.
Thanks for coming on the show tonight.

REP. DONNA EDWARDS (D), MARYLAND: Thank you, Reverend Al. I have to tell
you, listening to that, listening to my colleagues, I`m really disgusted,
especially as a woman who is a single mom who has raised an amazing young
man, not just on my own, but with a lot of help. And I just think that
those folks have no idea what they`re talking about.

SHARPTON: Well, I was raised by a single mom. And she could give lessons
on family values. They don`t know what they`re talking about. But, you
know, RNC Chairman Priebus claims that Democrats don`t actually want the
anti-poverty measures they`re fighting for. Listen to this, Congresswoman.


REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: They don`t want this to pass, Lars. What
they want to do is they want to talk about these things. They want to talk
about minimum wage and what they want to do ultimately is create a campaign
issue, this sort of rich versus poor, the same old thing that they can do
and avoid ObamaCare. That`s what they want.


SHARPTON: So we really don`t care about inequality. We don`t care about
poverty and hunger and food stamps and minimum wage. We just don`t want to
talk about ObamaCare is what he is saying about those on the other side of
this debate.

EDWARDS: Well, you know, first of all, Reverend al, the fact is that the
last time a minimum wage hike passed, it was Democrats who did it. And
this time raising the minimum wage from $7.25 cents an hour to $10.10 cents
an hour is what will lift millions of people out of poverty. And what they
clearly don`t understand is many of us, I am proud of what we did with the
Affordable Care Act, because we delivered health care to millions of
people, because we know that three million young people up to age 26 can
stay on their parents` health plan. I`m proud of what we did.

We`ve slowed the growth of Medicare in all of our health care in this
country for the fourth year in a row. And so we`re not running away from
that. But what we`re saying is that the American people also deserve a
fair shot to move into the middle class, to have wages that allow them to
take care of themselves and their families. And that government and the
federal government has something to do with helping to provide that floor
so that people can reach their highest capacity.

SHARPTON: You know, congresswoman, we learned today that for the first
time in history, most Congressional lawmakers are millionaires. Now, we
don`t begrudge success. But is this why some of your colleagues can`t
understand the importance of things like unemployment benefits or minimum
wage that is not in their reality personally?

EDWARDS: I think it certainly contributes to that I mean, I know for
example because I`ve collected an unemployment check that I did that, and I
had to show up and prove that I was looking for work, and in fact that I
wanted to find work, but unemployment was what tided me over. And I think
that what the president demonstrated today, and it`s why it was so
incredibly powerful is he understands from where he came and he understands
what is facing so many young people, so many of our families all across
the country. And I heard that in him today, he demonstrated that. And it
is why we need to do these things from a government perspective that really
does provide an opportunity for everybody to move into the middle class and
be successful.

SHARPTON: Yes. And you know what is so insensitive to me, Congresswoman,
is even if you want to make some kind of value judgment or moral judgment
on a parent, and I don`t think you have the right to do that, why do you
penalize the child? And I think that that is, I mean, children born
shouldn`t be suffering for the judgment or non-judgment of their parents.
And I don`t think you should even be judging their parents. But
Congresswoman Donna Edwards, thank you for your time this evening.

EDWARDS: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, Gaby Giffords inspired us again. Stay with us.


SHARPTON: Congresswoman Gabby Giffords has taken a giant leap forward in
her recovery. She went sky diving in Arizona yesterday. Three years after
being shot in the head at a Tucson shopping center. She tweeted this
photo. Getting a call from Vice President Biden.


VICE PRES. JOE BIDEN (D), UNITED STATES: I tell you what, you`ve got more
spunk, as my mother would say, than the ten best people I know.


BIDEN: She`s still inspiring us and staying positive in her fight for gun
control. Saying we`re not daunted, and we must stay determined. As I
remember Gabby Giffords` fight, it`s our fight too.



SHARPTON: Finally tonight, Happy 100th Birthday to Phi Beta Sigma, one of
the nation`s top black fraternities. It was founded at Howard University,
and its members include civil rights icons Congressman John Lewis and A.
Philip Randolph, groundbreaking scientist George Washington Carver, and the
first African-American Rhodes scholar, Dr. Alain Leroy Locke. It`s an
organization with a storied past, and the work they do now is just as

Joining me now is Jonathan Mason, the international president of Phi Beta
Sigma fraternity. Congratulations on this big anniversary. Tell the
listeners and viewers why Phi Beta Sigma has such staying power over the
years, 100 years.

it`s truly an exciting day for us. It`s our birthday, our 100th birthday.
And the seed that our founders planted on the campus of Howard University
on January 9th, 1914 is still bearing sweet fruit today. Here is what a
lot of people don`t know. These organizations were founded at the same
time as the urban league, the NAACP, and other civil rights organizations.
And they were founded for the very purpose of social justice, equal rights,
and freedom for all people. So that`s what we`ve been doing for 100 years.
Our motto says it. Culture for service, and service for humanity.

SHARPTON: What about the countless numbers of young black men that have
given to streetlight, that have given to negative behavior have in many
ways fed into the stereotype that many have had. How do you reach them?
How do we deal with them? How do we save them?

MASON: You know, what? That is a major issue for us. We have invested
our dollars. We send our members out into the community to serve as
mentors, to serve as life coaches, to serve as counselors. And the success
stories that we have of finding young men, mentoring them, and moving them
through the ranks of high school and college, it`s countless. We give over
seven figures a year in scholarship. And here is the thing, Reverend.
It`s not just about getting them in college, but lot of those students
encounter challenges when they`re in school. So we also give money to them
when they`re in school to make sure they can finish that degree.

SHARPTON: It`s a big celebration and a big continuation. Happy Birthday.
Jonathan Mason, thank you for your time tonight. And congratulations again
on the big anniversary.

MASON: Thank you so much, Reverend Sharpton. And we did want to present
you with something if you`ve got two seconds. Since you`re our honorary
member, you didn`t mention your name. We had a jacket made for you that we
want to give to you. And I believe it`s in your size. We need you to
sport this on MSNBC.

SHARPTON: All right. Well, I will -- if it`s in my size, it`s leather

MASON: Yes, sir. Thank you so much, Reverend.

SHARPTON: All right.

MASON: Thank you so much.

SHARPTON: Congrats again to Phi Beta Sigma celebrating 100 years of
service, and here is to 100 more. There is a saying what will it matter
100 years from now? Well, those men and founders answer that question. A
hundred years later, they`re still giving service. A hundred years from
now, will the things we`re involved in continue to matter? Let`s hope so.
Let`s think about it. Let`s be committed to it.

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


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