PoliticsNation, Friday, February 6th, 2015
Read the transcript from the Friday show
Show: POLITICS NATION
Date: February 6, 2015
Guest: Hardin Lang, Michael Sheehan, Jonathan Capehart, Jared Bernstein,
Eric Guster, Seema Iyer, Alyona Minkovski, Liz Plank, Shira Center, Reggie
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Thanks to you for tuning in.
We start with breaking news.
An ISIS claiming an American hostage was killed in Syria. They`re saying
she died in a Jordanian airstrike, buried underneath the rubble of a
building. But the U.S. has not been able to confirm any of this
information. There is zero proof.
A Jordanian official calling it quote "illogical and highly skeptical."
Earlier today the hostage`s family released her name and these photos of
her. Kayla Mueller is a 26-year-old aid worker from Arizona. She
dedicates her life to others. ISIS kidnapped her in 2013 while she worked
at a doctors without borders hospital in Syria.
One senior defense official telling NBC News the entire intelligence
community is working to gather the facts. U.N. ambassador Susan Rice says
the U.S. is obviously concerned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN RICE, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: We do not at the present have
any evidence to corroborate ISIL`s claims but obviously will keep reviewing
the information at hand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Joining me now is Michael Sheehan, and -- joining me now is Keir
Let`s go now to NBC News foreign correspondent Keir Simmons in Amman,
Keir, a Jordanian official called this a PR stunt. And another called it
illogical. We know they are masters of propaganda. What are you hearing?
KIER SIMMONS, NBC NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Reporter: That`s right.
Al, in fact, they call it criminal propaganda and they are saying, the
basic thing they are saying, they don`t know whether this ISIS claim is
true or not. After all, we are talking about Raqqa, a stronghold of ISIS
in Syria. Really difficult to authenticate it.
But what the Jordanians are saying is why would you trust a group that
beheads innocent people on camera, that execute a Jordanian pilot by
setting him on fire alive? Why would you trust them when to claim that she
had been killed, it seems, very convenient for them to be able to claim
that with no one able to say whether it`s true or not.
SHARPTON: Now, this comes after a Jordanian pilot was burned to death by
is, as you mentioned.
SHARPTON: The Jordanian sing said they will fight until they run out of
fuel and bullets. How does that play into this situation?
SIMMONS: That`s absolutely right. King Abdullah saying they will go after
ISIS wherever they are, and it is an incredible turn of events before the
news tonight. Because what we saw today before that was thousands of
Jordanians on the streets supporting this offensive against ISIS, and that
was just a few days since the father of that pilot had questioned why
Jordan was involved in this fight, saying it isn`t this country`s fight to
So what happened with the pilot appears to have swung public opinion here
in Jordan, at least for the time being, and in a really important way and
changed the dynamics. Again, though, ISIS with this announcement appears
to be trying to shift public opinion once again, both in this region and
perhaps even in the U.S.
SHARPTON: Well, great reporting. Thank you so much, Keir Simmons. Thank
you for your reporting this evening.
SIMMONS: You bet.
SHARPTON: Joining me now are Michael Sheehan, former head of special
operations at the Pentagon, and Hardin Lang, an ISIS expert from the center
of American progress. Thank you both for being here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good to be here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My pleasure.
SHARPTON: Michael, there`s no proof either way here. How do we verify
this? I mean what can they do?
MICHAEL SHEEHAN, COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Well, it`s going to be
difficult for us to verify it. But the history of ISIS normally when they
verify someone`s dead they`ll show the body or the killing. And I think
this -- I`m very skeptical in this case that they`ve actually, that this
bombing run killed this woman. She may be already dead as was the case
with the Jordanian pilot. They were negotiating when he was already dead
or perhaps still holding her. But I`m very, very skeptical, this very
convenient claim that this Jordanian bombing raid killed this very innocent
young aid work.
SHARPTON: Why so skeptical, Michael? Why?
SHEEHAN: Very skeptical.
SHEEHAN: Because it`s just convenient. They`re trying to blame the
Jordanians for killing of this young woman they had kidnapped over a year
and a half, who was an innocent aid worker, trying to shift the blame to
this Jordanian bombing and it`s just -- it`s just not working. That type
of propaganda just not working. And even if they did kill her by this
bombing raid, they`re still responsible for holding her hostage, an
innocent aid worker. So I`m just got not buying it.
SHARPTON: Hardin, what intelligence did we have about the hostage?
HARDIN LANG, CENTER OF AMERICAN PROGRESS: We have been pretty thin so far
in terms of what kind of information is out there in the open source. The
type of intelligence we`ve got about the hostage.
So I think at this stage it`s probably better not to speculate on what kind
of Intel we did or did not have, but only to note that the U.S. and Jordan
would have been sharing whatever they did have up to the minute before,
during, after the bombing raid.
So I don`t think that`s the issue there. But I would like to underscore
what Mike just said. I mean, to me, this feels very much like a Hail Marry
on the part of ISIS to try to create a bit of tension between the U.S. and
Jordan after the major misstep of burning the Jordanian pilot alive and the
kind of impact does hurt on their credibility on the streets of Jordan. So
my sense here is they`re stumbling.
SHARPTON: Will other nations become defiant like King Abdullah has in
Jordan in your opinion, Hardin?
LANG: What they`ve done in Jordan no doubt will reverberate beyond the
borders of Jordan. This pushes back very against the narrative that ISIS
putting out there, that they`re sort of fighting on the behalf of Sunni,
and burning a Jordanian Sunni Arab pilot to death isn`t playing well
anywhere in the region.
SHARPTON: What do you think, Michael? Will other nations become defiant
like King Abdullah has?
SHEEHAN: Well, unfortunately, we have seen a few kind of back away a
little bit worrying that they may get some of their pilots captured.
But I can tell you this, Reverend Al. The U.S. air force is going to
continue bombing, and bombing the crap out of ISIS. And this, although,
they cannot win with an air campaign as everyone has spoken. ISIS will
suffer. If they try to master troops, we will be bomb them. IF they try
to conduct training areas, we will bomb them. If they have safe areas, we
bomb them. If they communicate, we`ll hear them and bomb them. No, we
can`t defeat them with an air campaign, but we can really damage them and
make them pay.
SHARPTON: Let me ask you this, Hardin. How badly are these bombings
LANG: Well, we`ve seen a pretty big impact on the Iraqi side of the
border. Michael`s right again here that when this bombing has maximum
impact. When it`s paired with partners on the ground. So what we began to
see is a bit of rollback on the Iraqi side where we are working with the
Kurdish Peshmerga. And there was some Iraqis security forces which is
slowly being stood back up after the summer`s offensive.
So the combination of air and land in Iraq there has made a big difference.
On the Syrian side of the border, air power alone really -- I mean, it`s
disruptive and it keeps them off balance. But it`s not changing the
strategic or tactical momentum.
SHARPTON: Michael, you mentioned about Kayla, the hostage here that
allegedly has been killed according to ISIS. She started working for aid
group in the border of Turkey and Syria in 2012. In August of 2013, she
was taken captive in Syria, leaving a doctors without borders hospital and
May 2014 was the first time her family was contacted to prove Kayla was
alive. What kind of intelligence did we have about her before today?
SHEEHAN: Well, at one point it seems now we`re hearing reporting we did
think we knew where he location was, Reverend Al, and a special operations
forces launched an attack to try to rescue her. But it appears we arrived
a little late and she`d been moved to another location.
It`s very difficult to find someone like this. They`re probably moving her
from place to place. And right now, we`re not even sure she`s alive.
Although at the time we launched that attack a while back, we did have
evidence she was alive. Hopefully she still is alive and we`ll be able to
bring her to safety but it`s going to be very difficult.
SHARPTON: Hardin, the information that is unfolding, we have U.N.
ambassador Susan Rice discuss the U.S. plan ton handling is today. Listen?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICE: To degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL, we`ve assembled a broad
coalition that is confronting this scourge from all angles, from training
Iraqi security forces and supporting the moderate Syrian opposition to
encourage in political reforms in Iraq that foster greater inclusion.
With the world united in condemnation of its horrific executions, ISIL
should know their barbarism only fortifies the world`s collective resolve.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Where is this fight going, Hardin? I mean, are we getting
closer to troops on the ground?
LANG: I hope we`re not. I think the sense is here, and I think it pretty
much cuts against the DNA of this administration to look at putting troops
into a combat role here. Obviously, that doesn`t apply to special
operators. Because we are going to hear a lot about what they`re doing or
not doing. But the senses here, I mean in Iraq, again, we`re beginning to
make some progress. I think the national security adviser made a really
good point, though, about needing to keep pace, having the politics keep
pace with what we`re doing on the ground militarily. The Sunni outreach in
Iraq needs to continue beyond just a bit of appointment of the new
secretary of defense over there in Sunni.
SHARPTON: Michael Sheehan and Hardin Lang, thank you both for your time
SHEEHAN: Thank you.
LANG: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Straight ahead, President Obama on the road touting a big day
for jobs and the economy.
Plus, jurors in the Aaron Hernandez murder trial tour his home, and hear a
bizarre joke in court today. Please, stay with us.
SHARPTON: Republicans say President Obama is a job killer. But the facts
say he`s overseen the best run of job growth in American history. Who do
the American people trust on this? That`s next.
SHARPTON: Now to developing economic news, and the immense pressure on
Republicans to finally abandon some tired talking points. Today a strong
new jobs report extending the historic record of success under President
Obama. We`ve now had 59 straight months of private sector job growth. The
longest streak on record.
2014 was the best year for job growth in 15 years. The last three months
have been the best run in 17 years, and the country has added over 200,000
jobs in each of the last 12 months. The best run in 20 years.
It`s great news for American families, and bad news for Republicans stuck
on false talking points about how the president`s policies are supposedly
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- and all of these job-killing regulations that have
become prolific in this administration.
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: The Dodd-Frank bill is the jobs and
housing destruction act.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The stimulus has only made our economy worse.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Why would you want to
increase the cost energy and kill more American jobs?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Job-killing and expensive rules through the
environmental protection agency.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obamacare which has become such a job killer in our
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: They`ve been repeating these claims for year, and it`s time to
retire them once and for all.
Today President Obama was in Indiana where he talked about the country`s
recovery from the devastating Bush recession, and the need to move forward.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The reason we`ve gotten out
of this recession over the last six years, is in part, I`m going to brag a
little bit. We made some good decisions. We have made the decision to
save the auto industry. We made the decision to stabilize the financial
We made a bunch of decisions to do infrastructure spending.
America is poised for another good year. Indianapolis is poised for
another good year, as long as Washington works to keep this progress going.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Joining me now are Jared Bernstein and Jonathan Capehart. Thank
you both for being here.
JARED BERNSTEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you, Rev.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, OPINION WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Thank, Rev.
SHARPTON: Jared, on this specific idea the president is pushing right now
that can continue and expand this economic progress.
BERNSTEIN: Right. Well, I was listening to your introduction, I was
reminded of that old movie where has someone said, paraphrasing, that word
"job killer" I don`t think it means what you think it means. Right?
The president is recognizing that in part because of policies that he has
his fingerprints all over. The Federal Reserve has been helpful, of
course, that we`ve achieved a steady GDP growth and that economic recovery
has reliably and clearly reached the job market.
Over the past three months, we created over 300,000 jobs. You go back a
year, that same metric would be 200,000. So not only we are creating jobs,
we are doing so at a faster pace. If you look at the recent policy agenda
that the president is talking about in his budget, whether it is
infrastructure, whether it is help with child care, second earned
deduction, expanding the earned income credit, these are ideas that are
designed to help more of that growth reach more people. And that`s a
critical piece of this that he would like to work on.
It is very important as he suggested that Congress not screw up the
momentum we have, but I also would like to see them aspire to do more on
this reconnection front.
SHARPTON: Well, and it`s been done basically create jobs in the private
sector, not the public sector. If the Congress would pass public sector
legislation in terms of infrastructure or something, we would see even more
jobs and in areas that still have double-digit unemployment, like African-
Americans and the like?
BERNSTEIN: Yes, certainly. And I think that`s, again, you`re thinking
about it the same way the president is and I am, which is, we definitely
have a recovery that`s reaching the job market. I think that`s
unquestionable at this point. So now we have to start looking at
outstanding problems. Things that still need work. The inequality story.
The fact that certain groups still face high unemployment rates. Wages
aren`t growing quickly. Those kind of things.
SHARPTON: Jonathan, what`s harder for the GOP? To concede the president
was right on the economy or keep straight face while attack the economic
record he has?
CAPEHART: It`s harder for them to concede.
Look, no matter how good the news is, there are certain folks in the
Republican caucus who are so irrational, that they can`t conceivably give
the president any kind of credit for what he`s been able to accomplish, and
the good jobs numbers that came out today.
You know, I recall when President Bush was president, every time there was
a good jobs report, every time there was a good piece of economic news, it
was proof that president`s policies were working.
Well, if that`s the case under President George W. Bush, then it certainly
should be the case under President Obama, especially since when we came
into office the economic hell he inherited and had to stave off to save the
national economy, but the global economy at the same -- also. And now here
we are six years later having the best economic recovery we`ve had in a
very long time, great jobs numbers. Gas prices are still -- they`re
inching back up, but still low. Unemployment ticked back up. But Jared
can correct me, it could be that more people are getting into the job
markets looking for jobs and they`ll find them.
SHARPTON: Well, also in addition to that, Jared, one of the headlines from
today`s jobs report that I struck -- struck my eye was the average hourly
wages are up a half a cent -- a half of a percent, rather. It`s the
biggest monthly gain for hourly wages in six years. How do we keep wages
going that way?
BERNSTEIN: Well, I think the answer that that question is that we stay on
this accelerated track in terms of improved job growth. People coming back
into the labor market and finding more work.
Now, if you look year over year, which is the way I like to measure these
wage trends, wages are up 2.2 percent. That`s kind of around where they`ve
been. But as Jonathan mentioned, inflation now and because of this energy
price spike, it`s the (INAUDIBLE) inflation has been growing at less than
one percent. So we now have achieved real hourly wage growth.
In order for this recovery to reach some of the folks we talking about
before, who had really, it really hasn`t reached enough yet, we have to
remain steady at the helm. Congress can`t get into -- I mean, this fiscal
cliff or debt default deals or highway trust fund screw-ups. We`ve got to
keep tightening the job market because we`re not at full employment yet but
moving in that direction.
SHARPTON: But Jonathan, isn`t that part of the real story that with all of
the obstruction, the president has been able to deliver every month over
and over and over again to where now he`s set a record, and he`s done this
facing a head wind not a back wind that is pushing it along?
CAPEHART: Right. It speaks to the president`s skill. I remember for the
last six years we`ve been talking about, or at least here in the Washington
bubble, all of this talk about how the president is hapless. How the
president can`t seem to work with Congress. How the president isn`t
getting anything done. How the president is being thwarted in every
direction to do anything about the economy. Why won`t he focus on jobs?
Why won`t he focus on the financial health of the American people?
Well, we`re now seeing that once again we have a president who is a long-
ball player and doesn`t get distracted by the cacophony of the everyday
news cycle. He is focused on achieving the goal and the goal is being
SHARPTON: Jared Bernstein and Jonathan Capehart, thank you for your time.
Have a good weekend.
BERNSTEIN: You too, Rev.
CAPEHART: Thanks, Rev. You, too.
SHARPTON: Still ahead a bizarre joke in the Aaron Hernandez murder trial.
The judge was -- not amused.
Also, our special interview with the president`s former body man, Reggie
But first -- what do Rand Paul, Pete Carroll and Left Shaw have in common?
They are coming up in Rev. Al`s report card, next.
ANNOUNCER: It`s time now for Reserved Al`s weekly report card.
SHARPTON: Let`s get to it. It was a huge controversy in the midst of a
measles outbreak, Senator Rand Paul questioned vaccines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I`ve heard of many tragic cases of walking,
talking, normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after
vaccines. I`m not arguing vaccines are a bad idea. I think they`re a good
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Then came the damage control, saying he`s not sure if he`s
different from the president on vaccines, and tweeting a picture getting a
booster shot. Senator Paul gets a double F for flip-flop for his double-
talk on vaccines.
Next up, super bowl grades. I struggled how degrades Seahawks coach Pete
Carroll thought would be a WCE, for worst call ever, but then this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you allowed yourself to have that one moment lying
in bed where the tears flowed, where you`re smiling at me, but I mean it.
Has there been that moment?
PETER CARROLL, SEAHAWKS HEAD COACH: That happened at that 4:05 mark.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tuesday morning?
CARROLL: Yes. That`s what I do as a break where I allowed, you know,
allowed all of the rush of it to hit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, he should have run the ball. But he gets an A for
admirable for speaking up and admitting he cried.
But the highest grade of the week, it goes to this guy. Katy Perry`s
dancing left shark. He may not have had the moves right at the super bowl,
but he sure danced into our hearts. The left shark gets an A-plus for a
Thanks to all of my students tonight. Class dismissed.
ANNOUNCER: That`s tonight`s edition of Reverend Al`s weekly report card.
AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST, "POLITICS NATION": Time for the "Justice Files."
Joining me now our legal analyst Eric Guster and Seema Iyer. Thank you
both for being here.
SEEMA IYER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Thanks, Rev.
ERIC GUSTER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Thanks for having us.
SHARPTON: We start with the Aaron Hernandez murder trial. The former
football star had plead not guilty in the death of Odin Lloyd who was
dating the sister of his fiancee. Today, jurors toured Hernandez home
where the defense was ordered to remove religious images and sports
memorabilia. From the days that he was with the Patriots, prosecutors say
these were added after the crime. And what they claim was an attempt to
sway the jury.
Seem, would jurors really view Hernandez better because they see football
jerseys or religious images? I mean, does that sort of thing work?
IYER: Rev, wouldn`t you? Seeing him at the football hero that he was.
Seeing pictures of Jesus and Mary just appropriately placed. That`s going
to give him more of an heir of likability and of course it`s going to sway
the jurors. The jurors need to see Aaron Hernandez as someone`s son, as
someone`s teammate, as someone that they can fall in love with.
GUSTER: Yes. And someone who wouldn`t hurt anyone. And that`s why a lot
of defendants, you see them carry bibles into the courtroom trying to
influence the jury and judge.
IYER: Well, that`s because the defense tells them to.
GUSTER: No, absolutely not.
SHARPTON: Well, let me ask you this, Eric. This week we also saw the
judge warn the victim`s mother not to cry on the witness stand while
looking at photos of her dead son. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: To retain control of your emotions and not to cry
while you`re looking at any photo that may be shown to you. Do you
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Yes, ma`am.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: I mean, telling a grieving mother, Eric, that she can`t show
emotion on the stand. Is that a reasonable request?
GUSTER: It`s a tough request. Because what the judge is trying to do is
make sure that any emotional reference does not influence the jury.
Because sometimes people get very emotional which this is an emotional
case. Her son is --
SHARPTON: You`re looking at pictures of your son.
GUSTER: Yes. And it`s a very emotional case. And that`s why the judge is
trying to make sure that Aaron Hernandez gets a fair trial and doesn`t have
any room for appeal.
IYER: However, Eric and I were fighting about this in the make-up room
because that infringes upon testimony, that is the judge telling a witness
how to testify. Crying on the stand, Rev, is equivalent a certain type of
testimony. For instance, in the transcript, if a witness can`t enunciate
their words, the reporter would say, sobbing or crying and --
GUSTER: But judge would tell them to eliminate any emotional reference.
IYER: Oh, come on! And it works?
GUSTER: Yes. You cannot allow emotion to taint your verdict.
SHARPTON: Now I see what all that screaming I was hearing in the makeup
room. Let me ask you something else, Seema. Yesterday while examining a
witness Hernandez`s lawyer actually made a joke in court about the deflate-
gate football scandal. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: One of the things you receive specialized training in is
tire deflation, tire deflation devices. Right?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: A certain kind of tire deflation device, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Okay. Did you ever receive training in football
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPON: I mean, the judge later reprimanded the lawyer and he apologized
but what was he thinking?
IYER: No, Rev. I think it`s completely appropriate to bring some levity
even in the most serious cases. I cannot stand judges whose don`t let me
make jokes. Rev, you know I like to make jokes, you know, I`m very funny
and you know I like to do my shtick in front of the jury.
GUSTER: But Rev, as a defense lawyer, you`re dealing with the murder
trial, you`re trying to lighten the mood as much as you can because it`s so
somber. You have a mother crying and --
SHARPTON: So that`s part of an attorney`s strategy?
GUSTER: Absolutely. It`s a very serious case. Everyone knows that, but
you want to lighten the mood as much as can you, because the matter is so
serious about a man being killed and you want the jury to have a lighter
sense of what`s going on, and to pay attention to the testimony, not all
SHARPTON: All right. Let me switch gears here. The 15 minutes of fame
for a left shark may be coming to a close. At least if Katy Perry`s
lawyers have anything to say about it. Left shark rose to instant internet
fame during the Super Bowl half time show for being out of sync and at
times creating his own choreography during the Katy Perry performance. Now
someone, not the guy inside the shark suit, has made a 3D printable left
shark figurine, and Katy`s lawyers are not happy. They sent a letter to
the sculptor demanding he cease and desist, claiming they own the rights to
left shark. Now the sculptor has launch ad GoFundMe page to raise legal
funds to fight the case. Seema, can Katy Perry really claim the copyright
to left shark?
IYER: No. She cannot. And this is bullying. And there`s no other way to
say it. The man who`s making these 3D objects, he doesn`t know, or maybe
doesn`t have the money to hire a lawyer to tell them that he`s not
violating any copyright infringement laws?
SHARPTON: You agree, Eric?
GUSTER: I totally agree. This is a big law firm trying to pick on the
little guy. Shame on them for doing that. And they should be sanctioned
for that because they didn`t have a copyright to this. So, how can you
tell someone to cease and desist if you don`t have the copyright to this
IYER: Because it`s not part of the artist`s work. Right? The work is
actually the --
GUSTER: The music and the --
IYER: The music and the show that she put on. But it`s like a costume. A
costume is not able to be copyrighted.
SHARPTON: And certainly what the shark did, left shark did they didn`t
even know they were going to do. That wasn`t choreographed.
IYER: Right. They`re not copyrightable either.
GUSTER: Yes, they didn`t know. It became famous by mistake and now
they`re trying to, Katy Perry and her folks trying to take advantage of it.
IYER: I think she`s jealous.
GUSTER: Left shark and Missy Elliot.
SHARPTON: All right. I`m going to have to leave it there. Eric Guster
and Seema Iyer, thank you both for your time and have a good weekend.
IYER: Thanks, Rev.
GUSTER: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Be sure to watch Seema on "The Docket" on shift by MSNBC.
Coming up, Mike Huckabee`s footloose past. How he turned his old
opposition to dancing into a new attack on the president.
And the so-called chief of stuff. Reggie Love was by the President`s side
for five years. Tonight he tells all from the President`s trash talk to a
Jay-Z encounter at the White House. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: Time now for "Conversation Nation." Joining us tonight,
HuffPost Live host Alyona Minkovski. Senior editor of Mic.com Liz Plank
and political editor for "Roll Call" Shira Center. Thank you all for being
ALYONA MINKOVSKI, HUFFPOST LIVE HOST: Thanks, Rev.
LIZ PLANK, MIC.COM SENIOR EDITOR: Thank you, Rev.
SHARPTON: First up, Mike Huckabee is getting a lot of 2016 attention, and
BuzzFeed dug up this blast from the past in high school. Huckabee wrote in
a newspaper column, quote, "I strongly recommend that Christian teens stay
away from dancing." No dancing? Where do I know that from?
So people thought it was a little corny, but not really a story. But
Huckabee responded by saying, other candidates use drugs as teenagers, and
he couldn`t resist throwing this in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE HUCKABEE, FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: I mean I just had to say, is this
really controversial? I`d much rather defend this than I had to say, yes,
I used to regularly be part of the choom gang. Just bizarre.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The choom gang is what President Obama and his friends called
themselves in high school when they smoked marijuana. Shira, is this how
Republicans get traction? They go after the President?
SHIRA CENTER, POLITICAL EDITOR "ROLL CALL": I do think that is generally
how republicans running in the primary for president are getting traction
these days. But it`s pretty clear Mike Huckabee is not angling for any
kind of youth vote here or really any vote under the age of 65. He is
solely trying to compete for the old white votes, Christian vote in the
south and if that`s his m.o., you know, that`s what he`ll going to do.
More power to him.
PLANK: Well, I think what this shows is that Mike Huckabee is, I mean,
profoundly uncool, and you know, to your point, he`s not going to be
reaching the youth vote. He`s not going to be reaching millennials. But
millennials are profoundly important to the future of the Republican Party.
They`re going to be an important demographic to reach for the 2016 race.
So this is not only not reaching -- I think even donors who are looking at
him talking about Beyonce or bacon or dance parties, he`s going to have to
talk about issue, policies. What is he going to be doing in 2016 if he`s
running other than banning everything that`s like cool?
SHARPTON: And this is after the Beyonce fiasco as well, Alyona?
MINKOVSKI: That`s right. I think Mike Huckabee has a little bit of foot
and mouth disease, not only this flat shame Beyonce but as Liz pointed out
there, he compared gay marriage to cussing, and then said that it was like
making Jews serve up bacon-wrapped shrimp. So, clearly he`s just trying to
deflect at this point, right? Because he`s just getting a bad wrap or
things that he said in the past. But I personally don`t think what we need
to focus on, things that people wrote or said or thought or believed in
high school so much. We all go through phases, we all change our minds.
Mike Huckabee`s beliefs and his beliefs that are anti-woman and anti-
reproductive health and anti-LGBT community are what`s much more damaging
SHARPTON: I agree with that. Now to Harvard University. Banning
professors for having sexual or romantic relationships with undergraduates.
Several of the schools including Yale and the University of Connecticut are
doing the same. Liz, it`s 2015. Why are we only seeing this ban now?
PLANK: Look, I think a lot of people thought that this ban already
PLANK: I`m very glad that it`s being implemented. Directly and
officially. But as a person who has spent time in academia I can tell you
-- I mean, I don`t know a single woman who hasn`t been or experienced some
form of sexual harassment. Some form of, these romantic relationships are
not always consensual and there`s a lot of power dynamics happening, right?
When you`re under and working under a supervisor it`s very difficult for
you to maybe refuse these advances that make you uncomfortable. And
actually, seven out of ten women who have worked in academia have
experienced some form of it. And it`s often coming from supervisors. It`s
often coming from people who are in position of power. So we really need
to address this power dynamic, especially with undergraduate students.
SHARPTON: Let me go to you, Alyona.
MINKOVSKI: I disagree more just that a ban is the right way to go about
things. It`s kind of like putting an band-aid on an issue or just trying
to sweep it under the rug. If the problem is sexual harassments and the
way that you have people trying to exploit their power and use it over
younger people, or those that are, you know, they are professor or two,
then you should actually address the culture. You should talk about that
instead of just banning it. Not to mention, you know, who knows what might
happen on college campuses? These are also people who are adults. Not
everybody who`s an undergraduate is 17 or 18 years old and they should be
able to make their own choices about consensual relationships.
SHARPTON: But that bringing the question Shira, does it have to be a
CENTER: Well, does it have to be a policy? I think it probably should be
written down, at least for the university`s own protection, right? That
this is not something they condone or that should be in any cases
committed. But look, if I remember correctly in undergraduate years, you
know, professors are one case but I think the ban also addresses
relationships between teaching assistants and graduate assistants with
students and those people really work much more closely with students on
the whole. And I think that protection is probably more important in the
SHARPTON: Yes, but I think the point is that it`s only now a policy and
we`ve seen so much down through the years. All right. Let me leave it
there, Alyona and Liz and Shira. Thank you for joining "Conversation
Nation" tonight. Have a great weekend.
MINKOVSKI: You, too Rev.
PLANK: Thank you.
SHARPTON: We`ll be right back with President Obama`s former body man,
SHARPTON: For years Reggie Love was President Obama`s body man. Perhaps
the only person in history whose basketball skills were mocked in the Rose
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: I play with Reggie now, and when
he`s on my team, I say to Reggie, was playing coach said, "don`t shoot."
And when he`s on my team I say to Reggie, "don`t shoot." So things haven`t
changed that much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: I talked to Reggie about his years at the President`s side,
SHARPTON: They call him the body man, the person closest to the President.
The President`s personal aide is a witness to history in the making. And
for five years Reggie Love had the privilege of being one of the closest
people to the president. Every single day. From Senator Obama`s 2008
campaign to his first years in the White House. The self-described chief
of stuff said he was the President`s deejay, travel agent, messenger,
punching bag, alarm clock, vending machine and his surrogate son.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: There are times where I`m not so calm. Reggie Love knows. My wife
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You`re actually kind of like your assistant, your right-
OBAMA: He is the guy who makes sure I`m in the right place at the right
time. He hands me stuff right before I need it because otherwise I lose
it. Yes. He is all-around great guy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: New memoir titled "Power Forward: My Presidential Education."
He`s giving us a glimpse and to what it`s like to be one of the few to
serve a president so closely.
Joining me now is Reggie Love. Reggie, thank you for being here.
REGGIE LOVE, AUTHOR, "POWER FORWARD": Reverend Sharpton, thank you for
having me and thank you for that very generous introduction. I really
SHARPTON: Well, you`ve had quite an amazing journey. When you became his
body man there was no training for the job. How did you keep up with the
President in those early days?
LOVE: You know, I`ve got to tell you, it was pretty tough, but it was also
inspiring to see a guy who`s more than half my age, you know, work as
tirelessly and as on as few hours of sleep as he did, but you know, I write
in the book, I definitely made a lot of mistakes. I tried not to make the
same mistakes twice, and he -- he was -- and he was good with me as I was
sort of going through those learning curves. He would always say that you
know, in 2007, we were -- we were building the plane, while it was speeding
down the runway. Ready for takeoff.
SHARPTON: Wow. Now, you and the President form a bond over basketball.
How did that start?
LOVE: I remember the first time, you know, I got an e-mail from the
senator, and it was about four months into the campaign, and it was -- it
was late at night. I look at it, and it`s -- it`s Tony Parker`s stat line.
And I -- you know, I have a huge grin and I kind of write back quickly, you
know, that`s pretty good, but I insert Chris Paul Staten line which was a
little bit better that night. It was the first interaction I was really
kind of, you know, not related to sort of the daily grind of the campaign.
And you know, he`s an avid basketball player. So we also played a little
SHARPTON: When you play, do you let the President win?
LOVE: No, man. You cannot -- I mean, the guy, he talks so much trash.
LOVE: I mean, if he does win, or when he does win, it is -- it`s a long
week. You`ve got -- you`re itching to get back out there to try to, to get
another game in.
SHARPTON: Wow. You know, I obviously have seen you on many occasions, and
in my visits to the President on my civil rights work. Did you ever -- I`d
see you in a lot of these things that were historic. Did you ever pinch
yourself to say, am I really here? Am I really a part of this?
LOVE: I mean, every day. You know, I remember one day, you know -- I got
to meet, like, great people all the time. Like yourself, Reverend Jesse
Jackson. You know, I met Kofi Annan walking into the west wing. I really
was just -- an endless amount of amazing experiences that were able to
shape me and to grow me and to be totally honest, it`s quite humbling to
see all of these great men and all of the things that they`ve been able to
achieve and all the value that they`ve been able to create for their
communities. You know, it made me and continues to make me want to stay
engaged and active in the political process.
LOVE: And you know, and to figure out how to, you know, to continue to
create value for as many people as possible.
SHARPTON: Reggie, let`s do some rapid fire questions.
SHARPTON: Best working at the White House?
LOVE: Air Force One.
SHARPTON: Best food at the White House.
LOVE: The 44 burger and the waffle fries.
SHARPTON: Ah. Coolest place you went with the President?
LOVE: Oh, man. Such a -- the pyramids in Cairo.
SHARPTON: Favorite celebrity you met.
LOVE: Now, that`s a no-brainer. That`s Jay-Z.
SHARPTON: Finally, the biggest lesson you learned from working with
LOVE: That`s a hard one. I learned a lot of them, but I think the thing
that I will always take away from him is his ability to empathize with
other people. You know, I told -- I told the story about how he had given
-- he`d written an anonymous check a couple of times to people who are just
like down on their luck that he`d met throughout the campaign and never
made a story of it. You know, and there were points in times where it
wasn`t even sure if he was going to be the nominee let alone president and
you know, even at that early stage in the game, you know, he was really
focused on how he could you know, make things a little better for people
who have it a little worse off than he did.
SHARPTON: Wow. Reggie Love, thank you for your time this evening. Again
the book is called "Power Forward: My Presidential Education."
LOVE: Well, thank you for having me. You`re a good man. And I appreciate
all of your hard work and service, man.
SHARPTON: Thank you, Reggie. Thank you so much.
LOVE: All right. Take care.
SHARPTON: And I appreciate the humble as well as even spread of Reggie
Love. It reminds me of the President himself and a lot of his team. Not
getting too hot. Not getting too cold. Good days don`t make them too
intoxicated with glory and bad days does not make them too depressed. If
you have people like Reggie Love by your side, that can keep their head,
they can grow. Take someone under your wing. Help them grow like Reggie
Love did under the President.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. Have a good weekend. "HARDBALL"
starts right now.
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