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PoliticsNation, Monday, March 9th, 2015

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Show: POLITICS NATION
Date: March 9, 2015
Guest: Chris Coons, Gregory Meeks, Joan Walsh, Chelsea Davis, Brittani
Jackson, Dana Milbank, Jason Johnson, Mark Hannah

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

We start with developing news in the next fight for voting rights. This
weekend, tens of thousands of people gathered in Selma, Alabama, for the
50th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday" and the "Bloody Sunday" march. They
heard President Obama`s powerful call to fix the voting rights act.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The voting rights act was
one of the crowning achievements of our democracy, the result of Republican
and Democratic efforts. President Reagan signed its renewal when he was in
office. President George W. Bush signed its renewal when he was in office.
One hundred members of Congress have come here today to honor people who
are willing to die for the right to protect it. If we want to honor this
day, let that hundred go back to Washington and gather 400 more and
together pledge to make it their mission to restore that law this year.
That`s how we honor those on this bridge.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: You can see former President Bush applauding that statement
because supporting the voting rights act didn`t used to be a partisan
issue. Today, it`s a different story. Many of the GOP lawmakers who went
to Selma don`t want anything to do with actual legislation. Senator Jeff
Sessions claimed "I don`t think the Supreme Court ruling has damaged voting
rights in any real way." Senator Tim Scott thinks "voting rights and Selma
should be decoupled." And House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the
celebrations were only about history. Quote, "I think Saturday is
celebrating what those did before us to make this nation better, and that`s
what we`re all looking for."

But Selma`s more than about that. It`s about the fight ahead as well.
Like the struggle to get, Loretta Lynch confirmed as our first female
African-American attorney general. The Senate is considering a whole slew
of nominees today, but still hasn`t set a vote for Miss Lynch. It`s wrong.
They can do better. And we all need to keep the pressure on.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Selma shows us that America`s not the project of any one person.
Because the single-most powerful word in our democracy is the word "we."
We the people. We shall overcome. Yes, we can. That word is owned by no
one. It belongs to everyone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: We`ve come a long way, but we have a lot of work to do.

As Senator Chris Coons, Democrat from Delaware. Thank you for being here.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: Thank you, Reverend. How great to be with
you. It`s great to see you this weekend in Selma.

SHARPTON: Great to see you, Senator. And we were all there in different
capacities but you were in Selma this weekend carrying a copy of the bill
to renew voting rights and the voting rights act. Why did you carry that
with you?

COONS: Well, Reverend, I was carrying a copy of the bill as it was
introduced in the last Congress by Senator Leahy, Senator Durbin and
myself, to challenge my colleagues, Republicans in particular, to think
about coming on this bill when we introduce it here in the Senate coming up
likely in the next week or so. I was reminding them of the strong and
brave tradition of the Republican Party that President Obama specifically
cited. It was Republicans who helped lead the passage of the voting rights
act back in 1965. It was Republican President Reagan who signed it and it
was Republican president George W. Bush who signed it again.

Every previous time the voting rights act has been up for renewal or
reauthorization, there have been Republicans who also supported it because
they recognize voting rights are civil rights and are fundamental to our
democracy. But as you mentioned earlier, it`s been very disappointing,
frustrating that so far we`ve not found a single Republican Senator willing
to join us in this effort. There is one Republican House member,
Congressman Sensenbrenner, who joined the bill in the last Congress.
That`s a very pore showing for a party that was actually built on
opposition to racial oppression, opposition to slavery.

And so it`s my hope that we can find after this incredible and moving
weekend in Selma that we can still find some Republican colleagues. I was
carrying the bill with me so I could go up to them and say, will you join
me in this bill? Although I remain hopeful, so far not one.

SHARPTON: Not one Republican -- not one, not one Republican.

COONS: Not one.

SHARPTON: Because your Republican colleagues, Senator, Senator Rob
Portman, told "Politico" that after the Supreme Court gutted the voting
rights act, it`s, quote "Probably appropriate for us to take it up." But
he said he just heard about Congressman John Lewis` bill Saturday morning,
Saturday just passed, ahead of the ceremony. And he never read it or
learned the details so he couldn`t commit. I mean, do you think Senators
like Rob Portman could sign on to your bill, Senator Coons?

COONS: I have to remain hopeful. Some of the statements you just recited
are, of course, frustrating and discouraging. The idea that we have
colleagues who didn`t dig into it, didn`t really think about it is
upsetting. But the only way we can make progress is to be hopeful.

And look, 50 years ago, Reverend, the marchers who gathered in Brown Chapel
AME to head across the bridge had no earthly reason to believe they are
peaceful nonviolent protest would actually lead to a fundamental change in
the system of racial oppression in this country. It was only faith. It
was only hope that led them to that brave act and it`s striking how much
they were able to achieve, so we can`t give up on this. Without Republican
support, we can`t fix the hole in the voting rights act that the current
Supreme Court blew through it with the Shelby County decision.

It`s tempting to simply just shake our fist and denounce Republicans for
not joining in this, but it`s more appropriate in my role to keep at it, to
keep trying, to see if we can`t find some common ground and can`t find just
one who can help us move this bill forward.

SHARPTON: Absolutely. You know, Senator, you also have served on the
Judiciary Committee and a few weeks ago, you tweeted out this picture of
yourself with Loretta Lynch. It says "Loretta Lynch is eminently qualified
to be the attorney general. She deserves a vote. Confirm Lynch." Why is
this taking so long, Senator Coons?

COONS: There is no good explanation for the remarkable delay. It`s longer
than any comparable attorney general nomination. There was, I think, no
disagreement, significant disagreement from Republican members of the
committee during her eight-hour confirmation hearing. She was composed.
She was professional. She was diligent. The issue that they raised over
and over had to do with the president`s executive order on immigration.
Not her competency. Not her qualifications. I think she`ll be a terrific
attorney general. And I think if we keep up the pressure, we will
inevitably see her confirmed.

SHARPTON: Senator Chris Coons, thank you for your time tonight.

COONS: Thank you, great to be with you.

SHARPTON: Now let`s bring in Congressman Greg Meeks, Democrat of New York,
who was in Selma this weekend as well. And salon.com`s Joan Walsh. Thank
you, both, for being here.

REP. GREG MEEKS (D), NEW YORK: Good being with you, Rev.

SHARPTON: Congressman, a lot of your Republican colleagues who went to
Selma with all of us don`t want to work on voting rights. How do you
explain that?

MEEKS: Well, look, Reverend Al, what I`m hoping takes place here, and I
agree with what Senator Coons just said, is that I was talking to a number
of my Republican -- I`m glad they came, number one. But there was a number
of them who were relatively young. So I`m hoping that they really had not
studied and understood the real meaning of what the voting rights act stood
for and why it is intricately important for them to work on it.

So when I go back to Washington, D.C., I`m going to talk to them and say,
look, this is an American issue that`s not just for black folk but it`s for
all Americans and if we`re going to talk around the world about a
democracy, then we`ve got to make sure that democracy happens right here in
the United States. And appeal to them, they went around John Lewis and
talking and taking pictures with John Lewis, talking about what an
inspiration he is. They need to understand that they can do today.

SHARPTON: Well, I think you`ve got -- we`ve got to put the pressure on
from our various folks. But let me go to something else that really stuck
out like a sore throat to me all weekend in Selma, Joan. And that is
Loretta Lynch.

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

SHARPTON: And I brought this up yesterday. I preached at the Brown
Chapel. She was there.

WALSH: I saw.

SHARPTON: And they haven`t confirmed her. Attorney General Holder spoke
this weekend about the progress we`ve seen with an African-American woman
about to serve as our attorney general. But I want to play something else
he said. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: This is a cause for great optimism,
and it`s a sign of tremendous progress. But progress is not the ultimate
goal. Equality is still the prize. Still even now, it is clear that we
have more work to do, that our beloved community has not yet been formed
and that our society is not yet at a just peace.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: One hundred and twenty-one days, Joan.

WALSH: Yes.

SHARPTON: Nowhere we seen this long amount of time, this length of time,
in modern American history.

WALSH: It`s incredibly disrespectful to her and to the president in my
opinion, Reverend Al. Now, she will be confirmed. She was confirmed by
the committee. She`s incredibly qualified. There are Republicans who are
going to bat for her. But this just seems to me like another way for Mitch
McConnell to stick it in the eye of the president and not give him the
person that he has asked for and the person that his Republican colleagues
have said OK to on the committee. It`s really, again, another example of
disrespect and of treating this president in a way that other presidents
haven`t been treated.

SHARPTON: But isn`t it also, Congressman, some petty partisan politics?
Because none of the Republicans raised any objections to her. She was not
even questioned on any controversies, any stands. They basically came
after her about Eric Holder and their decisions with him, not that I saw
anything he did wrong. But they had nothing on her, and then they just
keep dragging this out, isn`t this their petty politics with the president
taking a shot at the president?

MEEKS: Absolutely. And it shows they are not ready to govern. You know,
when you look and put into perspective, the whole thing shutting down DHS,
coming close there, something that the president want to talked about. The
immigration and his executive orders. It is what McConnell said the very
day that the president was inaugurated in 2008 to try to block and make
this president`s presidency very difficult. It`s what he started out with
and he has been consistent over the last eight years. It is petty
politics. There is no way, I agree, that they could not confirm Loretta
Lynch. She is eminently qualified. And no one, not even the Republicans
playing their petty politics can challenge her credentials.

SHARPTON: You know, Joan, today we`re seeing big peaceful demonstrations
in Madison, Wisconsin, after the shooting of an unarmed black man by a
police officer. The incident is being investigated, but isn`t this the
spirit of some of the young people engaging in peaceful activism? I mean,
when you look at the fact that the president was asked about the state of
race relations this weekend, listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Why is there such a disparity in the way
blacks, whites see race relations?

OBAMA: Well, there`s been obviously a different experience of race
relations in this country. You know, the good news is that despite I think
a lot of people saying that the country is divided around these issues, the
truth is in the aftermath of Ferguson and what happened in New York, you`ve
seen a pretty constructive debate, a pretty constructive conversation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And isn`t that true whether it`s Madison today? Whether it`s
what many of us raised in Ferguson and then New York, that we`ve made the
country at least deal with this discussion of the continued racial
inequities?

WALSH: Absolutely. And to see those young people leave school and take
over the capitol, they`re in the capitol now, peacefully, again, peacefully
they`re being welcomed. They`re being treated well as far as I know the
last time I checked.

SHARPTON: Right.

WALSH: And they`re being respected because we`ve seen in Ferguson and
we`ve seen in New York, we`ve seen elsewhere that this is what young
people, and all of us, just not young people, need to do. I would point to
there`s been a little bit -- it`s a terrible thing any time an unarmed
young black teenager is killed by police. But in this case, the police
chief did come out and express condolences immediately. He released the
name of the officer. He told their account --

SHARPTON: He operated differently than Ferguson.

WALSH: He offered completely different than in Ferguson.

SHARPTON: But we`ll see what the results --

(CROSSTALK)

MEEKS: In Wisconsin has a different law in that an independent agency --

WALSH: Right. That`s right.

MEEKS: -- will do the investigation. So the police department is not
involved in the investigation, themselves. It`s an independent agency that
will be involved. I`m proud of those young people.

SHARPTON: Oh, yes.

MEEKS: That is definitely the spirit of Selma. In `65.

SHARPTON: And they`re doing it with dignity and nonviolence.

MEEKS: Absolutely.

SHARPTON: Congressman Gregory Meeks, Joan Walsh, thank you for your time
tonight.

WALSH: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Straight ahead, we will go live to Oklahoma after a shocking
fraternity video with racial slurs surfaces.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There will never be a n----- S-A-E. You can never hang
them from a tree, but they`ll never sign with me. There will never be a n-
----

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Plus, more disrespect of the president. Why on earth did Senate
Republicans send a letter to Iranian leaders? I have a lot to say on this
one.

And more of my reflections on the emotional weekend in Selma that inspired
all. Please stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody say -- amen

Everybody say -- amen.

Everybody say -- amen.

Amen - Amen - Amen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The spirit of Selma, a historic moment that I had the honor to
share with President Obama and tens of thousands of people. We`ll have a
wrap of the weekend`s big events later in the show.

But first, a disturbing story about a racist video and a frat shutdown in
Oklahoma. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Developing news tonight from the University of Oklahoma. A
fraternity chapter shut down after a racist video posted online. The video
shows members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, or SAE, chanting a racial slur and
referring to lynching.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There will never be a n----- S-A-E. You can never hang
them from a tree, but they`ll never sign with me. There will never be a n-
----

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That video came out on Sunday. Followed by another video taken
from a different angle. Apparently showing one member of the fraternity
trying to wave away the camera person. It`s short, so we looped it once.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can never hang them from a tree, but they`ll never
sign with me. There will never be a n-----

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I might get --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The incident triggered immediate protests. The fraternity`s
national headquarters closed the chapter. And the university president
warned the students could face expulsion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID L. BOREN, UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA PRESIDENT: I would say even up
through and including expulsion, which is the ultimate ban on all student
activities, it could be that some will voluntarily take themselves out of
the university. We don`t have room for racists and bigots at this
university. I`d be glad if they left.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The video was first posted online by "unheard" a black student
group at the university.

Joining me now, Chelsea Davis, co-director of "unheard" and Brittani
Jackson, a member of "unheard" executive committee. First, let me thank
both of you for being here.

CHELSEA DAVIS, UNHEARD CO-DIRECTOR: Thank you for having us.

BRITTANI JACKSON, UNHEARD EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEMBER: Thank you for having
us, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Chelsea, what was your reaction when you first saw this video?

DAVIS: Unfortunately, when I first saw the video, I wasn`t shocked.
However, I was absolutely disgusted. The things we saw and heard in that
video were not only unacceptable but offensive to every black student at
the University of Oklahoma. Not only should African-Americans be enraged
at what was said and the derogatory terms that were used against us, but
everybody in the nation should be inferiors with the activities that
happened on that video yesterday.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you, Chelsea, does the video point to larger issues
with the culture on campus? Or is it an isolated incident in your opinion?

DAVIS: Most definitely. This is a dynamic change that needs to happen at
the University of Oklahoma. And on even a larger scale, the nation as a
whole. This is a culture change that needs to happen. There is something
wrong with the way people are thinking and the fact that they think that
saying these terms and using these words are acceptable and OK, it`s
absolutely disgusting and I -- I just can`t believe that this is something
that we are facing even 50 years after Selma.

SHARPTON: Yes.

DAVIS: We as a people have come so far but we have yet so far to go.

SHARPTON: Chelsea, what is the mood on -- I mean, sorry, Brittani, what is
the mood on campus, Brittani? And is there fear? Is there anger? What is
the mood on campus?

JACKSON: It`s definitely all of the above right now on campus, and I know
a lot of people are focused on making sure we`re being peaceful and that`s
why "unheard" wanted to make sure we set the tone of being constructive in
the way we move. And we want to make sure people understand that it`s OK
to be angry about the situation. We as African-Americans are angry and
everyone else should be angry as well. But it`s not about being angry but
how we can be constructive to our university and making our university a
better place. So, one of our grievances that we are advocating for, for
the university is have a vice president`s office for diversity, for
diversity and inclusion which a lot of universities have, but we don`t.
That`s something that will really take our university to the next step.

SHARPTON: So you got a specific goal. Do you know, Brittani, do you all
know these people? Do any of you know some of the students in this tape?

JACKSON: No. We are not aware --

(CROSSTALK)

DAVIS: No. Nobody specifically on that tape. I do not.

SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you about the university`s response. Chelsea,
Brittani talked about having a vice president of diversity. Are you
satisfied with the university`s response? Or do you want more? What is
your reaction?

DAVIS: I commend the university thus far as to what they have done so far.
I commend President Boren in his speech and everything he has listed out
for us. I especially commended the National Organization for banning this
chapter at the university. However, that is not enough. That will not be
enough. It is not OK what they did. There is no -- there should be no
point in time where anybody thinks that that is OK. All students involved
should be expelled.

SHARPTON: Well, the president has said these people can be kicked out of
school. We`ll certainly be watching and we certainly are seeing the spirit
of Selma in you guys, constructive and angry at the same time. Brittani
Jackson, Chelsea Davis, thank you both for your time tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, does Senator McConnell think he`s the president?
He`s part of the GOP`s new attempt to undermine the commander in chief.

Also, President Obama`s powerful rebuke to those who say he doesn`t love
America.

But first, great moments in political censorship courtesy of Rick Scott
administration in Florida.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Have you all noticed that strange trend in the GOP climate
change? Governor Rick Scott was the trend setter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: What is your take on global warming, the
climate change?

GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: No. I`m not a scientist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: No, Governor, you are definitely are not, but you did start a
catchphrase.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I`m not a scientist. I`m not a scientist.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t know the science behind climate change.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If climate change is a problem, and do you believe it
is? Or not? Do you believe --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not a scientist.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, nonscientist Rick Scott`s denial is going further.
According to a new report, officials in Florida`s Department of
Environmental Protection were ordered not to use the term "climate change"
or global warming in any official communications, e-mails or reports. The
unwritten policy went into effect after Governor Rick Scott took office in
2011. So basically, in Rick Scott`s world of denial, climate change and
global warming are dirty words. We could see a new edition of Jimmy
Kimmel`s unnecessary censorship.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, listen. I`m not
going to -- I`m not qualified to debate the science [ bleep ].

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To instill the fear of [ bleep ] in the American
people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They haven`t yet said that love causes [ bleep ].

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They insist that the greatest threat to American
security is [ bleep ].

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When anyone dares question their computer modeled [
bleep ].

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our Democratic colleagues spent the night talking about
[ bleep ].

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Did Rick Scott think we wouldn`t notice his failed climate
denial experiment? Nice try, but we (bleep). Wait a second, is that thing
still on? Let`s try this again. Nice try, but no bleeps here, because we
gotcha.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Now to unprecedented disrespect from Senate Republicans. Forty
seven Senators led by Tom Cotton of Arkansas sent an open letter to Iranian
leaders warning any nuclear deal reached with the Obama administration
won`t last after President Obama leaves office. Writing "You may not fully
understand our constitutional system. President Obama will leave office in
January 2017, while most of us will remain in office well beyond then.
Maybe decades." Today, the President is firing back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I think it`s somewhat ironic to see some members of Congress
wanting to make common cause with the hardliners in Iran. It`s an unusual
coalition. I think what we`re going to focus on right now is actually
seeing whether we can get a deal or not. And once we do, then we`ll -- if
we do, then we`ll be able to make the case to the American people, and I`m
confident we`ll be able to implement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Whatever happened to the politics stopping at the water`s edge?
It`s another chapter of ugly disrespect from these Republicans in Congress.

Joining me now is Dana Milbank of The Washington Post. Thank you for being
here.

DANA MILBANK, THE WASHINGTON POST: Good evening, Reverend.

SHARPTON: You know, this is another example of the GOP taking
unprecedented steps, Dana, but this letter wasn`t just intended for Iran.
What point are they trying to make here?

MILBANK: You know, it really is like it`s no longer a Congress, it`s now
the breakaway state of Republicania conducting its own foreign policy.
Because first we had Speaker Boehner inviting Netanyahu without consulting
with the White House for the expressed purpose of having Netanyahu
criticize the administration over this same deal. And now we have the
Senate, not to be left out, taking its own foreign policy action here. So,
I mean, there are two things going on. The primary function is to disrupt
and try to prevent them from getting to a deal on -- a deal with Iran, and
the second is more generally to weaken and make the President ineffective
in this final year and a half of office.

SHARPTON: But Dana, this is offensive. I mean, did it used to be like
this? I mean, have you ever heard of anything like this under Bush?
Reagan?

MILBANK: No. Each time we sort of say, it couldn`t get any worse, and
we`ve never seen anything quite like this before, well, then you`re
surprised and you find out that there indeed could be something that goes
further than this. So, it is something that has not really been seen
before. I mean, you had in 1968 Richard Nixon as a candidate sort of
inserting himself into the Vietnam War, but this is extraordinary and it`s
also --

SHARPTON: But not writing people that are -- I mean, NBC`s "First Read"
has a good comparison saying, quote, "Imagine Democrats micromanaging the
start talks in the `80s by sending an open letter to Gorbachev." It just
wouldn`t have been viewed as an acceptable, except the political move while
the talks were still happening." I mean, can you imagine the backlash
Democrats would have had?

MILBANK: No, and you couldn`t imagine it even ten years ago with a
Democratic Senate making overtures to other countries opposed to our
actions in Iraq. So, no, certainly it`s without precedent. The other
interesting part here is this is most of the very, very nearly all of the
Republicans in the Senate. We`re not just talking about the ted Cruz, the
wacko birds as John McCain once called them. This is the Republican caucus
in the Senate.

SHARPTON: Now, you know, this is just one of the many signs of disrespect,
Dana, from Republicans toward the President. As he first took the oath of
office, a group met to talk about how to block his agenda. In his first
speech to Congress, Congressman Joe Wilson yelled "you lie" out loud.

MILBANK: Uh-huh.

SHARPTON: Donald Trump led the call for him to release his birth
certificate. Arizona former governor waved a finger in President Obama`s
face. Congressman Steve Stockman invited the rodeo clown with an Obama
mask to come to the State of the Union. And just recently Speaker Boehner
invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress
without asking the President. I mean, you`ve chronicled a lot of these,
Dana. Is there any denying this pattern of disrespect to this president?

MILBANK: No, and it gets worse and worse with each passing day. And now
we have the majority leader of the United States Senate suggesting that
states and businesses need a follow environmental regulations that are
promulgated by this administration, essentially urging them to do law
breaking. And now we have 47 Senators reaching out to what they describe
as a terrorist state to further their agenda of procuring more sanctions.

SHARPTON: Unbelievable. Dana Milbank, thank you for your time tonight.

MILBANK: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Straight ahead, President Obama`s Selma speech. Why Rudy
Giuliani should be listening?

Plus, why is the right wing media in a frenzy over former President George
W. Bush`s appearance at the march?

And a big day in the tech world. The Apple watch is here. Will it sell?

And we`ll tell you why this woman has social media erupting today.
"Conversation Nation" is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Time now for "Conversation Nation." Joining me tonight,
political analyst, Jason Johnson. MSNBC`s Krystal Ball. And Democratic
analyst Mark Hannah. Thank you all for being here this evening.

MARK HANNAH, DEMOCRATIC ANALYST: Thank you, Rev.

JASON JOHNSON, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR: Good to be here, Rev.

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

SHARPTON: I want to go back to President Obama`s stirring speech from
Selma this weekend. On the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. He
delivered one of the most powerful speeches of his presidency. Celebrating
what it means to be American.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: That`s what America is. Not stock photos or airbrushed history.
Or feeble attempts to define some of us as more American than others.
America`s not some fragile thing. We are large in the words. Containing
multitudes. We`re boisterous and diverse and full of energy, perpetually
young in spirit. For everywhere in this country, there are first steps to
be taken. There`s new ground to cover. There are more bridges to be
crossed. And it is you. The young and fearless at heart. The most
diverse and educated generation in our history who the nation is waiting to
follow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Jason, some thought this sounded like a rebuttal to Rudy
Giuliani and other Republicans who have accused the President of not loving
this country. Your reaction?

JOHNSON: No, I think this is just President Obama speaking from the heart.
Rudy Giuliani, he`s not even that important to President Obama. I don`t
think he would waste his time throwing shade at him.

SHARPTON: I agree with that.

JOHNSON: At such an important event. I think he really spoke from the
heart. This is one of the top four or five speeches I have heard President
Obama give. I have seen tons of them. I was there. He was moved by the
moment and he gave an answer to the cynics. I thought it was fantastic
when he said, "You can`t look at what happened in Ferguson today and say
we`ve made no progress in 50 years."

BALL: Yes.

JOHNSON: And he really explained that. I was impressed.

SHARPTON: Krystal?

JOHNSON: I totally agree with Jason. I mean, it was a spectacular speech.
It was moving. But I do think he had to in the back of his mind be
thinking about this whole conversation about whether or not he loved
America and what that means. I mean, to love this country is to want to
see it continually get better. And I loved also how he talked about not
airbrushing history, but actually looking at history, right? And
remembering the way that it really was at that moment. Not just a
sanitized view that we sometimes get in the media or that we sometimes look
back on history with. So, it was an exceptional moment.

SHARPTON: Mark?

HANNAH: Yes, no, I couldn`t agree more, Rev. Look, the President loves
this country enough to tell the truth about our history.

JOHNSON: Right.

HANNAH: And to tell the truth about our values and to, frankly, confront
some of the uglier parts of our nation`s history. So when people like Rudy
Giuliani go out there and say the President wasn`t, you know, raised the
same way he was, I mean, it`s a hideous thing for him to say, first of all,
but second of all, on some level, it`s true. The President had a
childhood, had an experience growing up that was different from Rudy
Giuliani`s because he`s a black American and he faced adversity that Rudy
Giuliani never had to. So I think the President sees where we are as a
country, sees the progress we`ve made. Loves us for the progress. And you
know what, loves us for the warts and all. Loves this country despite its
sort of --

SHARPTON: Yes, I mean, I think you`re right. I think that the President -
- I don`t think was thinking about Rudy or anyone in particular.

HANNAH: Right.

SHARPTON: I was think he was trying to really address the whole idea of
loving America, and not just himself, I think he was trying to interpret
that for a lot of people that raised questions that he was saying doesn`t
mean they don`t love the country, this is what the country was. I thought
it was an important part of a very, very good, very effective speech. But
now to a controversy over another president. George W. Bush who was in
Selma. The former president joined the march and it was good to see him
there. But some right-wing blogs were outraged over the weekend alleging
"The New York Times" intentionally cropped President Bush out of its front
page photograph. Here`s the picture as it appears in "The Times."

The newspaper pushed back saying there was no crop and explained that
President Bush was in the sunlight and difficult to see in this photo taken
by another news organization. Now, I might add, I`m in the beginning but I
was on the side where there was sun. I thought all of us -- there was a
small group in that delegation with the President and the former president.
Everyone was very courteous to President Bush. There was no pushback. We
wish more Republicans had been there.

Mark, rather than arguing over a photograph, shouldn`t they and all of us
be focusing on the fact that President Bush was there applauding voting
rights unlike many current leaders in the GOP?

HANNAH: Absolutely, Rev. Look, the -- I wish the "Daily Caller" and his
publications spent as much time talking about the President`s speech and
talking about and writing about the historic moment, itself. And they
don`t -- you know, conveniently forget to mention that "The New York Times"
did mention that President Bush was up there on the stage with him and some
of the accomplishments that the Bush administration made in terms of civil
rights. So it actually -- it just seems disingenuous. It seems so self-
absorbed from the right right now. It seems like it`s not about you,
frankly it`s not about the President. It`s about 50 years ago and about
John Lewis and about the people who have been advocating for civil rights,
yourself included, Rev. It was good to see you right behind the
President`s shoulder there.

BALL: I think it`s a sad symbol of how small the GOP and the conservative
movement has become that out of this great historical moment with an
incredible speech with, you know, with at least an incredible unifying
moment among former presidents, we`ve like, as you said, Rev, to see some
current Republican leadership there as well.

SHARPTON: I did see Kevin McCarthy, the majority leader, was there.

BALL: Yes. Thank you for pointing that out.

HANNAH: All the candidate thought, all the primary candidates who were out
in Iowa stumping.

BALL: This is what you choose to focus on is just sad, frankly. It`s
pathetic.

SHARPTON: Well, everybody stay with me. We`ll be right back with the
Apple watch. Are you going to get one?

And controversy over this woman. Does she look nearly nine months pregnant
to you?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back with our panel. Jason, Krystal, and Mark. You might
have heard there was a little tech event today. Yes, you probably heard
Apple unveiled their latest invention today. The much anticipated Apple
watch. And as the company`s CEO explained, it pretty much does everything.
For $10,000, you can have the gold Apple watch.

Krystal, will I see you online at the Apple store?

BALL: Absolutely not. As if I`m not distracted enough by my phone. I
mean, the whole premise here is that this is for people who are too lazy to
reach in their pocket and pull out their phone.

JOHNSON: Yes.

BALL: There`s no way I would be able to focus for more than 30 second
straight, if there was something on my wrist right here that had my e-mail
and my text messages and everything else. Forget it. No, I don`t want it.
But I do think it will do well.

SHARPTON: Jason, are we expecting to see you flashing an Apple watch?

JOHNSON: First off, no. You know, the only thing I`m waiting in line for
is the next "Star Wars" movie. I`m not waiting in line to get a brand new
watch. Doesn`t make any sense to me. In all honesty, until like the
watches like the Ben -- like inspector gadget where it`s a 3D image, I
don`t care. I can get all that stuff on my cell phone. I don`t need it on
my watch yet.

SHARPTON: Mark?

HANNAH: I`m waiting to see what this thing does.

BALL: It does everything apparently.

HANNAH: I don`t know. All I want from a watch is to tell time. This
thing is just fine for me. I don`t think you can improve upon perfection.

SHARPTON: But Krystal, this is the most innovative company in the world.
The whole world looks to Apple.

BALL: Yes. I mean, I think it`s cool. You can pay with it. You can get
your e-mail messages there. You can apparently do Facebook.

JOHNSON: I can do all that stuff now.

BALL: I mean, you can do it all now but have to reach all the way into
your pocket.

SHARPTON: All right. Let me rush to the next stop.

Finally tonight, oh, baby, meet the soon-to-be mom creating a firestorm on
social media. Model Sarah Stage is documenting her pregnancy on Instagram.
She`s eight-and-a-half months pregnant. Her tiny stomach and six-pack abs
have a lot of people wondering, is it healthy? One wrote, "Self-centered
and narcissistic. Just my opinion." Another wrote, "She needs to feed
that baby instead of worrying about how to keep her figure." Krystal,
you`re the mother to two. What`s your reaction? Is that narcissism?

BALL: My reaction is that we need to stop judging women for the way that
they look regardless of whether they`re too skinny or too fat or too this
or too that. If she`s healthy, and she feels good, there are lots of
different ways to look when you`re pregnant. I think she looks great. I
think lots of pregnant ladies look great in the body that they end up with.

SHARPTON: All right. Guys, Jason, Mark, which one of you want to get in
this one?

(LAUGHTER)

JOHNSON: It`s really simple. She`s a model. She can look however she
wants. This reverse body shaming. People need to let it go. Unless
you`re a pediatrician, you don`t really have to say anything about how this
woman looks.

SHARPTON: Mark?

HANNAH: All right. Frankly, you wouldn`t see me out there putting on
pictures on Instagram with my shirt off. Look, it`s her choice to put
herself --

SHARPTON: We wouldn`t see you pregnant.

HANNAH: Let`s hope not. But no, the question, the thing is, she`s putting
herself out there in the public eye and so she`s on some level --

BALL: Oh, she deserves to be shamed? Is that where you`re going?

HANNAH: By no means.

BALL: Okay.

HANNAH: But at the same time these are very private images that she has
decided to share with either her Twitter followers or Instagram followers.

BALL: Good for her. I wish more women felt that comfortable with their
bodies.

SHARPTON: We have to go. You know, Krystal said to me, what is my view on
this? Let me make some news. No comment.

(LAUGHTER)

Jason, Krystal and Mark, thank you for your time this even.

BALL: Thanks, Rev.

HANNAH: Thanks, Rev.

JOHNSON: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Be sure to catch Krystal on "THE CYCLE" weekdays at 3:00 p.m.
Eastern right here on MSNBC.

When we come back, the sights and sounds of a moving and emotional weekend
in Selma that I won`t ever forget.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: It was a historic moment that weekend in Selma with tens of
thousands to remember Bloody Sunday. People of all ages, all races, all
creeds, coming together to reflect on the struggles of the past and the
fights of the future.

POLITICS NATION producer Alex Presha (ph) was in Selma and caught the
sights and sounds.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: We went through the brutal tear gas and we went
through the horses, the dogs. All the sacrifice and all the brutality that
went on Bloody Sunday, just to get a right to vote.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I saw the massacre of the freedom riders and I said your
freedom ride is over. And they said, oh, no, as soon as we`re able to get
back on the bus. And I said, they`re going to kill you in Mississippi.
And they said, we know, we`ve written our wills.

SHARPTON: We`re not here to celebrate. We`re here to commemorate and then
continue. This is not just a commemoration. It`s a continuation.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Everybody say --

(crowd): Amen.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Everybody say --

(crowd): Amen.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Everybody say --

(crowd): Amen.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: As one who witnessed the civil rights demonstration in
the `60s and compared to now, it`s a different fight. Segregation is still
alive.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: This is a continuing struggle.

SHARPTON: Black and white died in this state to give us the right to vote.
Goodman, Chaney, Schwerner, Viola Leuzzi died in Alabama and died in
Mississippi to give us the right to vote. And we come back to Alabama to
let you know you`re not going to take that right back.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: There are a lot of people who are here who were not here
50 years ago. They didn`t have a chance to fight, but they have a chance
to fight now.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Years ago, we couldn`t even come together like this.
And to see this 50 years later in 2015, it`s amazing.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Selma is the history, Selma is also the future. Selma
is still a part of us.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Let`s get this.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

SHARPTON: We`ve got the need here today not talking about what we did, but
what we must do now.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: As we retrace the steps of a half century ago, I was too young.
I was 10 years old when they first came to Selma, though I`ve been going in
my adult years as they re-enact it. But what was special about this
weekend, as we walked with John Lewis and others that were beaten, as I
stood behind the President of the United States and holding the wheelchair
of Amelia Boykin, I thought about the sacrifices made and I thought about
what we must do to protect that vote now, and in protecting that vote, then
move to reform criminal justice and other things. I thought about those
older than me that paid a price, those younger than me that must continue
to fight. I left Selma more inspired and committed that it`s not about
just what we did, but what we must do. You and me.

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
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