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PoliticsNation, Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Read the transcript from Wednesday's show

Guests: Ed Rendell, Richard Wolffe, Chris Hayes, Jamal Simmons, David Drucker, Erin McPike, William Willimon

REV. AL SHARPTON, HOST: Hey, Republicans. You wanted a fight? Now
you`ve got the warrior-in-chief.


as a badge of honor.

SHARPTON (voice-over): President Obama comes out swinging for his
jobs plan, and now he`s got proof this plan will work. Ed Rendell and
Richard Wolffe break down the numbers with me tonight.

And it`s been the worst week ever for Texas tough guy Rick Perry, so
who`s he going to call?

ANITA PERRY, RICK PERRY`S WIFE: I think when you have seven arrows
being shot at you, and you`re the one person in the middle, then 30
seconds` rebuttal doesn`t give you a lot of time.

SHARPTON: Mrs. Perry, that`s who. But can she stop the Christie

SARAH PALIN (R), FMR. ALASKA GOVERNOR: This is like a reality show.

SHARPTON: You`d know Governor Palin.

Plus, the state of Alabama wants to check school kids` immigration
status, and a federal court says it`s OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we intend to enforce it.

SHARPTON: Is this America? Is this justice? Not even close.

POLITICS NATION starts right now.


SHARPTON: Welcome to POLITICS NATION. I`m Al Sharpton.

Tonight`s lead, President Obama has been going after Republicans, and
he`s already knocked that smile off their faces.

Today, all the buzz is about how he`s proudly calling himself a
warrior for the working class and fighting for jobs on Main Street, not
Wall Street.


OBAMA: Republicans in Congress, they call this class warfare. You
know what? If asking a millionaire to pay the same tax rate as a plumber
makes me a class warrior, a warrior for the working class, I will accept
that. I will wear that charge as a badge of honor.


OBAMA: The only warfare I have seen is the battle that`s been waged
against middle class families in this country for a decade now.


SHARPTON: Bloomberg News asked the nation`s top economist about the
Obama jobs plan, and they say it would prevent a recession next year. And
Moody`s says it would create 1.9 million jobs.

Of course, Republicans can`t admit the president has the right plan.
They are still clinging to the same old ideas that got us in this mess.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He came out with this jobs
plan, for instance. I don`t believe it was a serious attempt to get the
economy going again. I think it was a campaign tactic. The people of
America recognize that what we need right now is not a stimulus.



package of all the failed policies that President Obama has already tried.


SHARPTON: The president`s plan is worth fighting for. It`s why
earlier today, I was with labor and civil rights leaders announcing a march
for jobs and justice next month in Washington. We`re united against the
extreme right-wing agenda.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right-wing politicians across this country seem
hell-bent on stripping away the rights we hold dear.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We see more poverty. We see less wealth. We
see a hollowing of the middle class.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will fight for the passage of the American Jobs

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Support President Obama`s bold plan to put
people back to work.


SHARPTON: At the end of the day, when all the partisan politics is
over, when all the posturing is over, when all the spinning and the sound
bites are over, people need jobs, people need to feed their families. And
everyone has been heard from but the people.

That`s why groups are coming together. That`s why we`re going to
Washington. That`s why every night I`m going to keep pounding, it`s about
the people working. Not the big guys at the top, but the people that
matter that`s on the ground.

Joining me now is NBC News political analyst Ed Rendell, former
Democratic governor in Pennsylvania, and MSNBC political analyst Richard

Good evening, gentlemen.



SHARPTON: Governor, I think -- you know, I was talking to some of the
co-organizers today in Washington. I really don`t think people understand
how big this is, what we`re talking about in terms of answering the problem
and what the jobs plan is.

Let me show you see what the president said today, because I think he
understands that a lot of people don`t understand, this is a huge deal,
this is a huge piece of business. This is not just passing some normal
piece of legislation.

Let`s look at what the president said.


OBAMA: This is not a small piece of business. It`s estimated that if
we pass the jobs bill, we would expand the gross domestic product by about
two percent, and you would see 1.9 million people potentially find jobs as
a consequence of this bill.


SHARPTON: 1.9 people, Governor Rendell. That is significant.

RENDELL: It`s enormously significant. To add nearly two million jobs
is exactly what the nation needs right now, plus a lot of capital

And Al, if any of your listeners out there or viewers think that that
doesn`t make sense, let me tell you, every economist and analyst has said
$1 billion of infrastructure spending creates 25,000 jobs.

There is $75 million of right up front infrastructure spending in
this. If you extrapolated that out, times 25,000, that alone is 1.77
million new jobs. And I know it works, because Pennsylvania, in the
original stimulus, got $1 billion for our roads and bridges, our work on
roads and bridges.

We tracked it, Al, and it created 24,800 jobs, just right under that
25,000 figure. So I am confident that this will produce nearly two million
jobs, some significant capital investment, and will also help us retain
jobs. It ought to be passed. The Republicans have approved of
infrastructure in the past, they`ve approved of these type of tax cuts, and
we ought to pass it and put the politics --

SHARPTON: But what are we arguing about? I mean, to me, when you`re
talking about -- it sounds like a lot of numbers, it`s data, it`s all of
that, but we`re talking about real live families, people that are watching
us right now that don`t know how they`re going to make ends meet. And
we`re arguing, we`re debating, when there`s really no real plans on the

When I was in Washington today, it`s the president`s plan on the
table. All of his critics on the left and the right, Governor, has not put
a plan on the table.

So what are we arguing about, a plan against no plan?

RENDELL: The only thing they say is let`s cut taxes and cut
regulations. Well, even assuming that works -- and our past history showed
that it doesn`t -- it`s going to take time to work.

But the president`s plan will bring immediate, in the next 12, 18
months, it will bring significant relief to the country. And when you
think of infrastructure jobs, Al, think of people working on those bridges
and roads, but also working back in the factories that produce the steel
and concrete and asphalt necessary to make that bridge and road work go.

SHARPTON: Richard, the American people -- look at this poll. The
American people seem to support overwhelmingly the kinds of things that the
president is advocating.

If we look at the poll, 85 percent support tax cuts for small
businesses. That`s not close -- 85 percent. Funds for the infrastructure,
72 percent. Unemployment benefit extension, 56 percent.

I mean, this is a no-brainer. I don`t understand what the argument is
even among so-called progressives who also have not put out a plan other
than a plan to keep arguing about the president.

What are we talking about? People are suffering. The overwhelming
majority of the American people are saying we agree with this. Why aren`t
we just rallying and moving this forward?

WOLFFE: Well, it`s politics, obviously. But, you know, watching
Republicans campaign against jobs right now reminds me of Democrats
campaigning against defense spending in 2004.

It may give you a lot of satisfaction, you don`t like the sitting
president. You can make a credible case against him on all sorts of
different things. There are numbers Republicans want to pick on when it
comes to the economy that give them justification for what they`re doing.

But it`s not where the country is right now. It`s not where the
country is politically.

After all, they all got elected in 2010, those Republicans saying they
were going to create jobs, and it`s not where the heart of the policy
debate really needs to go. So, you know, hearing Democrats in 2004 say
Bush made the country less safe; therefore, we need to go against the
troops, it didn`t work then. It`s not going to work for Republicans right
now, to say we have other ways of doing this; therefore, we`re going to
stop 1.9 million jobs being created.

You can put the policy reason to one side. I just don`t see the
politics working for them on this right now.

SHARPTON: Well, when you talk about politics -- I`m going to throw
this to you and Governor Rendell -- when you say it`s only politics, I`ll
tell you why I believe that you`re absolutely right, and I`ll give you the
evidence. Look at the fact that a lot of the elements in this, some of
president`s opponents actually supported -- Governor Romney himself
supported some things that now he doesn`t support because they`re in the
Obama plan.

So it`s almost like I will do whatever is right, as long as someone
that I`m opposed to doesn`t say it`s right. Let me show you what Romney
said out of his own mouth so I wouldn`t be accused of misquoting Willard.


ROMNEY: There`s no question that investment in infrastructure makes
enormous sense for our country.



ROMNEY: I like the idea saying, look, if you as a company hire
someone who`s been out of work for a long time, or somebody who`s in an
industry that`s really suffered and is not going to recover, if you hire
one of those people, and you`re about to train them, therefore, we`ll give
you a credit, a tax credit.



NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS: But would you be for what he`s advocating, at
least for now, an extension of the payroll tax cut?

ROMNEY: I`m all in favor of keeping taxes down and keeping burdens


SHARPTON: Now, that`s Willard Mitt Romney himself. That`s not me
quoting him, that`s not me reading him. That`s Willard live and in

But now he says something different. Playing politics while people
are unemployed like this?


WOLFFE: Yes. No, look, it`s not just him, though. I mean, you can
hear the words "flip-flop," you can see the ads being cut right now. You
don`t have to be a high-paid consultant to do that. But Rick Perry does
it, too.

Rick Perry, although he says he`s against everything in terms of the
stimulus, wanted those stimulus dollars in his state. Mitch McConnell, the
man who says he wants a one-term president, wanted those stimulus dollars.
You know, it was President Bush who had the green collar jobs loan program
for energy-efficient vehicles that Republicans are going against so hard
right now.

They are not consistent, they are not authentic. That is a major
problem for them as they try and present themselves as different kinds of
Republicans and politicians in this cycle.

SHARPTON: Governor Rendell?

RENDELL: I agree with Richard. I think the Republicans made a huge

The president did a masterful job in his speech pointing out to the
American public that every component of this has had significant Republican
support in the past. You saw Mitt Romney there talk about three crucial
parts of this program: infrastructure, payroll tax deduction, and tax
credits for hiring unemployed workers.

SHARPTON: Which he agreed with at that time.

RENDELL: Which he agreed with. So, now, if they say no, if they say
no to every single component of this, they`re running a huge political
risk. And I think even as sometimes as scared our incumbent Democrats are
in the House and Senate to campaign like Democrats, this is a time, if we
do it right, we can blow them out of the water.

SHARPTON: Well, Governor, let me show you a poll about raising taxes
on income above $250,000.

Sixty-seven percent, over two-thirds, approve. Only 30 percent
disapprove. The American people are clear.

Willard, come home, Willard. Come home, Willard. You know what`s
right. You said it yourself, Willard. There`s still room for you to come
home to the American people that need jobs.

RENDELL: Al, the tragic part of this is that the president is right
about another thing. This country and this economy can`t wait another 14
months for action to straighten it out. People are hurting, people are in
desperate shape.

We need to get people back to work now. For God`s sakes, I implore
the Republicans, put your politics aside for a couple of months, pass this
thing. If you want to modify it, modify it, but let`s get the country
moving again.

SHARPTON: That`s right. We can fight in January.

RENDELL: Absolutely.

SHARPTON: We`ll have the election. But let people go to work.

RENDELL: Absolutely.

SHARPTON: Ed Rendell, Richard Wolffe, thank you so much for your

WOLFFE: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, President Obama praising teachers today, saying
they work harder than just about anyone. So why are Republican schoolyard
bullies working so hard against them?

Plus, Rick Perry feeling the heat and making a major walk back.

And Alabama`s anti-immigration law gets the go-ahead. Why it`s a
giant leap backwards for civil rights. A story everyone needs to know

Stay with us.


SHARPTON: Today, President Obama delivered his annual back to school
address. Here`s how he talked about teachers in this country.


OBAMA: Teachers are the men and women who might be working harder
than just about anybody these days. They don`t do it for a fancy office.
They sure don`t do it for the big salary.

They do it for you. They do it because nothing gives them more
satisfaction than seeing you learn.


SHARPTON: OK. So that`s one way to talk about teachers. Here`s


RITA WILSON, TEACHER: You`re not compensating me for my education,
and you`re not compensating me for my experience.

CHRISTIE: Well, you know what? Then you don`t have to do it.



CHRISTIE: We need to take on the teachers` union once and for all,
and we need to decide, who is determining our children`s future, who is
running this place? Them or us? I say it`s us.



CHRISTIE: If you think that`s a confrontational tone, then, you know,
you should really see me when I`m pissed.


SHARPTON: Republican darling Chris Christie is no friend to
education. When it was time to balance New Jersey`s budget, Chris Christie
told the teachers to pay up. He tried to freeze their salaries and make
them pay more into their benefits.

When they said no, he said layoffs. Christie cut $820 million from
the education budget while saying no to a plan to raise taxes on
millionaires that could have provided another $637 million for education.

Now, Chris Christie is just another member of the gang of GOP
governors who like to balance their budgets by asking teachers and other
union members to pay first, like Scott Walker in Wisconsin and John Kasich
in Ohio, who have fought to restrict collective bargaining rights, cut
benefits, and lay off teachers, all without bothering to raise taxes on the

Teachers are people who help to raise our children, teaching them to
read, right and become responsible citizens. But Republicans seem to think
they`re enemy number one.

Joining me now, Chris Hayes, host of MSNBC`s "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES."
He`s also the editor-at-large at "The Nation."

You know, Chris, I don`t talk much about my personal religion on the
show, but you know I`m a preacher, I get up, I say my prayers in the
morning. I get up Sundays to preach and I say, "Lord, show me a sign." I
looked up, there you were on the TV.


CHRIS HAYES, HOST, "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES": We`re trying to answer
people`s prayers. We`re mission-focused enterprise.

Thank you for being with me tonight. And thank you for Saturday and
Sunday morning. Quite a show.

HAYES: I`m glad you`re liking it.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you this -- what does Chris Christie -- because
I think he`s been getting all this good puff (ph) from the media -- but
what does he have in common with Governor Walker of Wisconsin and Kasich of

HAYES: I think -- we`ll here`s what I would say. He has the same
vision in terms of how he thinks, first of all, what he wants to do in
terms of balancing the state`s budget as a kind of fiscal matter, but also
his vision and sort of vilification of the public sector unions as the
enemy of the citizens in the state.

I mean, he wants to go out there and create this kind of strange form
of class warfare in which he pits firemen and teachers and the police and
state workers against the other citizens of the state of New Jersey as if
the two of them are in a tug of war over every tax dollar. Right?


HAYES: So that`s very similar. What`s different, I think, in some
ways, the reason that he`s doing better politically than Walker and Kasich
is that he does not have one-party rule in New Jersey. And he has not been
able to pursue the most extreme parts of his agenda as they have in
Wisconsin and Ohio.

SHARPTON: Only because he can`t.

HAYES: Only because he can`t. But that has saved him from himself.

What you have seen in Wisconsin and Ohio was tremendous overreach,
right? They tried to pass these bills that not only made cuts to pensions
and cuts to pay and layoffs, but also changed the collective bargaining
rights. Because Christie doesn`t have the legislator on his side in New
Jersey, he has pared his ambitions a little bit, and that actually, I think
ironically, has helped him politically.

SHARPTON: Now, people get the misconception that teachers are just
running the economy in the ground. Let`s look at what the average teacher
makes, because the president made this point in his address today.

The average starting salary is $39,000. The average ending salary,
after 25 years, $67,000.

I mean, you`re not talking about people that go into this to get rich.

HAYES: No. And one of the things you see, you know, if you look
across the board, if you look at some of the countries that have the best
education systems and the best educational outcomes, A, they have teacher
workforces that are highly unionized, but they`re also very well

I mean, they pay for quality at a certain level. And there`s I think
-- there`s a misunderstanding here in the states of just how much we are
actually paying our teachers. If you compare us to the other leading
nations in the world, places like Finland and South Korea, we are not
paying them comparably.

SHARPTON: And then, when we get into this issue -- I remember when I
started talking about education, people want to know why I was in it. But
look at this.

When you look at teachers at schools that serve more Latino and
African-American students on an average, they make $2,500 less. I mean,
teachers that go in the areas that need the most get an average less, and
they are under-appreciated and under-applauded and given the kind of --

HAYES: And undercompensated.

SHARPTON: And undercompensated.

HAYES: And I think part of that has to do with this crazy way that we
fund schools in this country, which is that we do it through property taxes
for local school and tax districts. And that has a lot to do with the
legacy of segregation and racial animus that`s happened in this country.

But you also see something which is that you have this racial
disparity in the public school system, and people want to talk about the
teachers as the cause of that racial disparity. But they are dealing with
a system that is producing these racial disparities because of the war on
drugs, because of disparate levels of poverty, and we don`t talk about
those inputs anymore. All we talk about are teachers. We don`t talk about
what is producing the kind of disparities that put kids where they are.

SHARPTON: Well, Judge Peter Doyne said when they came with the
special master appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court, he said that
Christie`s cuts were unfair to poor students. This is something that a
founding -- a finding came forthwith. So we`re not just making this up.

And how they have demonized teaching and cut funds to those areas
where we need them the most is something that I don`t know how we`re
letting them get away with.

HAYES: Well, and the other thing is, that clip that went viral on
YouTube, where Chris Christie on the stage and the teacher is sort of
angrily complaining to him about his attacks on teachers. And he says,
well, you don`t have to do it.

And I always ask people this when we have this discussion about
teachers and breaking the back of the teachers` union: Is there some
oversupply of teachers waiting out there that aren`t teaching now that are
going to rush in? It`s not like there`s this line out the door.

You know, teaching is really hard. When I got out of college, I
probably had a dozen friends who went into teaching. And I can tell you,
10 years later, one of them is left.

It is a hard job. And that`s the fundamental reality of the
situation. You can talk about how they`re (INAUDIBLE) and everything, but
fine, you take them away, and who is going to come in and teach your kids?

SHARPTON: Well, Chris Hayes, thank you for your time tonight.

Please check out Chris Hayes` "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES," Saturday and
Sunday mornings. In fact, if you want a good weekend, you`ll get up both
days with Chris.

Thank you very much.

HAYES: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Ahead, Sarah Palin says the GOP race is a reality show, and
she`s the expert in that department. So who`s getting voted off next?

And Eric Cantor held FEMA hostage over cuts. So why was he saying,
show me the money?

We got you, Eric. That`s next.


SHARPTON: When it comes to disaster relief, House Majority Leader
Eric Cantor is, well, a disaster.

After an earthquake hit his district last month, Cantor said emergency
aid would only be paid for by cutting other programs.


REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: Those monies will be offset
with appropriate savings or cost-cutting elsewhere in order to meet the
priority of the federal government`s role in a situation like this.


SHARPTON: And Cantor didn`t budge from that position, even after
several states suffered devastation from Hurricane Irene.


CANTOR: Yes, there`s a federal role. Yes, we`re going to fund the
money. We`re just going to need to make sure that there are savings
elsewhere to continue to do so.


SHARPTON: In fact, Republican demands for budget cuts in exchange for
FEMA aid nearly led to a government shutdown just this week. But even
though FEMA was close to running out of the money because of the
Republicans` stubbornness, Cantor was clamoring for FEMA help. On Friday,
he held a conference call about an earthquake repair need in his own
district. "The Richmond Times-Dispatch" reports, quote, "Cantor asked FEMA
officials about the time line and process for determining whether the
agency would grant federal assistance." So, even though Cantor was playing
politics with FEMA funding, he didn`t think the agency was working fast
enough in his own district. Mr. Cantor, did you really think we wouldn`t
catch you on that? Nice try. But we got you.


SHARPTON: Welcome back. Did you guys catch the new hit reality show?
Sarah Palin did. It`s called the GOP 2012 race.


SARAH PALIN, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: This is like a reality show.
There are media outlets that kind of create this reality show, this
intrigue, and who`s going to be the next flavor of the week?


SHARPTON: I agree with have Governor Palin. This is one heck of a
reality show and the flavor of this week is Chris Christie. After his
speech last night at the Reagan Library, he never gave a flat-out no when a
supporter asked him to run. So, he continues flirting, but whatever he
decides, he`s already stealing everyone`s thunder, and deep-pocketed donors
are holding on to money waiting for a decision.

Meanwhile, half of Republicans, half, I said, want another candidate
in the race. Front-runner Rick Perry is feeling the heat today, some
damage control for calling his opponents heartless on immigration last


poor word to explain that. And I was -- you know, I was probably a bit
over passionate by using that word and it was inappropriate.


SHARPTON: You never know what`s going to happen next on this reality

Joining me now Jamal Simmons, a democratic communications consultant
and political analyst. David Drucker, a staff writer on "Roll Call" and
Erin McPike, national political reporter for Real Clear Politics. Thanks
to all of you for joining me tonight. Erin, half of Republicans want
another candidate in this race. What do you make of that?

ERIN MCPIKE, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: That they`re not satisfied with
this field yet. And I think they`re just beginning to see whether or not
they`re comfortable with some of the front-runners, like Rick Perry, like
Mitt Romney, and they`re not falling in-love yet. They may toward the end,
but they wanted another candidate in all along. So, that`s why you`re
still seeing this courting of Chris Christie, even though he`s still
unlikely to run.

SHARPTON: May not be falling in love, Jamal? They don`t even seem
like they want to date anyone of these guys. Fifty percent are saying,
bring me somebody else.

you remember the 2003, 2004 campaign, where you were involved and you were
running for president. It was like that for the Democrats. We had a hard
time trying to find a candidate that we like. Dean was up, and Lieberman
was up, my old boss Wesley Clark got into the race. He didn`t work out.
Everybody kept fishing around, and we ended up with the candidate that I
think everyone thought was a good candidate but maybe didn`t have the same
way to connect with voters as, you know, as George Bush did. And certainly
have the same to connect with voters as Barack Obama does. And so, I think
Republicans are on the verge of having that same issue with Mitt Romney.
They may just end up with a guy who`s the last one standing when they get
over other flirtations with everyone else.

SHARPTON: Well, I took care of Wesley Clark for you. But David, let
me ask you. When you see Anita Perry coming out, explaining her husband`s
poor debate performance, let me show you what she says.


ANITA PERRY, WIFE OF GOVERNOR PERRY: He has never had a debate class
nor debate coach in his life that I know of. He`s going to be better
prepared this time. He`s going to -- in fact, our son is 28, he said,
"Mom, when they do the debate prep for the next debate I want to be there."


SHARPTON: David, isn`t that a little strange. Guy comes out, tough
cowboy, reminds me of when I was growing up as a kid, "Rawhide" and now his
wife go to make excuses on why he can`t debate and his 20-year-old kid got
to come help prep him. I mean, doesn`t that look a little problematic?

really think it`s that make of the deal. It`s standard to trot the wife
out to try and humanize the candidate. I think the thing to remember with
the Rick Perry is that he hasn`t been in a race that long. He has never
been vetted at this level as a national candidate. And therefore, I don`t
think we know for sure if he`s going to end up maintaining his lead in this
race and secure the nomination he`s going to tank, because there`s so much
about him that we don`t know. And this is pretty standard. When you jump
into the presidential field, everything about you is picked apart. I think
one of the reasons that Mitt Romney is benefiting is because whatever we
know about him that we don`t like, there`s nothing else to learn. He`s in
the position he`s in and we know everything there is about him that we
could possibly need to know. Because he went through this four years ago.
And for Rick Perry, he gets another race late. And he finds out what it`s
really all about. And that`s why I`m not even sold that if any other
candidate got into this race that Republicans are pining for, five minutes
later, they wouldn`t be disappointed when their opponents picked apart
everything in their record we don`t yet know about.

SHARPTON: Well, that is true. But let me ask you this. Let me put
this on you Erin, don`t you have to wonder when Sarah Palin keeps being,
you know, the question being raised about being president, and she comes
back and explains the presidency like this?


PALIN: Does a title shackle a person, are they someone like me who`s
maverick. You know, I do go rogue, and I call it like I see it and I don`t
mind stirring it up. Is a title and is a campaign too shackling. Does
that prohibit me from being out there, out of a box?


SHARPTON: Now, isn`t being president a little more than just a title.
I mean, she acts as though, you know, it`s just a title change. I mean,
you`re talking about, would you have someone that thinks that being
president is just a title as oppose to being unshackle. Would you want her
answering the phone 3:00 in the morning with a world crisis?

MCPIKE: Right. It`s obviously a very big job. The nation`s top job.
But I think what you`re seeing from her is her foreshadowing her answer to
her supporters, which is that she`s probably not going to run. Now, plenty
of people have thought all year that she`s not going to run. She`s not
doing any of the things that candidates tend to do as they`re getting ready
to run for president. Now, she would be a nontraditional candidate, but
she seems to be telegraphing a message that she doesn`t want to do it.
Now, she`s preparing those supporters who are going to be disappointed, it
sounds like.

SHARPTON: Well, let`s look at the numbers, though. Not only do we
have a problem with Republicans. With unemployment as high as it is, with
the economy as bad as it is, let`s look at the numbers in Ohio, for
example, President Obama, head to head with Mitt Romney, when 44-42. Then
if you go President Obama against Rick Perry, 44 to 41. Pennsylvania,
Obama 45, Romney 43. Pennsylvania, Perry 46, Romney 40. So, even with all
of the problems the president is facing, with the economic problems clearly
high unemployment, in critical states, Jamal, the president is still ahead.
It`s tight, but ahead. You would think at the peak of all of these
republican debates, that these polls would not be nearly this close, even
giving the president the edge in these states.

SIMMONS: You know, you would think so, but what the president has in
his advantage is he`s got a united base, despite all the stories about the
conflict going on with different communities. He`s got a very united base.
He also -- he`s not facing a primary challenge. In every single president
to ride, in modern American history without insignificant primary
challenger has one reelection. It`s a huge benefit for the president. I
think you can`t count him out, but for the Republicans, they`ve got a
couple of problems. They`ve got the fact, they`re not so thrilled with the
front-runner and they`ve got this Tea Party fringe that`s going to cause
them a lot of trouble with the middle of the electorate.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you Erin, is Chris Christie going to run?

MCPIKE: I would say no. I mean, you know, there could be an 11th
hour decision. He could change his mind. He is still listening to people,
but if you take him at his word over the last year, it`s a no.

SHARPTON: David, is Chris Christie going to run?

DRUCKER: No, and no, and no.

SHARPTON: Well, Jamal, I need to have a good post, I know your
answer, but tell everybody else. Is Chris Christie going to run?

SIMMONS: I don`t think he`s going to run. I think it`s just too late
for anybody to get in this race who`s not already in. And at the end of
the day, there`s a bunch of stuff we talked about in the piece about why
it`s too late for him. I just don`t think he`s got the gut. I just don`t
think he`s got the fire in the belly to get up every day and go out there
and do the hustle that it takes to become president of the United States.

SHARPTON: Now, what are we going to see in terms of the fire in the
belly that he might show that he showed with firing teachers and changing
the budget? I mean, if he ran, wouldn`t he have to defend all of that? I
mean, here`s a guy who has shown no problem bullying teachers and bullying
people that raise questions. It would be an interesting debate to see him
on the stage screaming, and hollering and stomping. It would be the great
image for the Republican Party.

SIMMONS: All of that is really interesting before the campaign, but
when you`re in the middle of a presidential campaign, the one thing people
want from the president is solid temperament. They want somebody whose
finger can be on the button and they don`t have to worry about them getting
jumpy. And Chris Christie does not look like he`s got that level head that
people typically look for as president.

SHARPTON: Jamal, David and Erin, thank you for being here tonight.

DRUCKER: Thank you.

SIMMONS: Thank you.

MCPIKE: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, Alabama`s anti-immigration law. Why it`s a giant
leap backwards for civil rights. An important story, next.


SHARPTON: I`ve long been concerned about immigration in this country
and immigration rights. I led marches in Arizona around the issue. I even
have debated the Sheriff Arpaio who is a symbol of fighting for the right
wing version of immigration right here on this station. But if you think
Arizona is bad, I have heard now something that`s even, in my opinion
worse. The laws that they are trying to implement in the state of Alabama,
my mother`s home state. For the facts on this story, let`s bring in Mara
Schiavocampo who is an NBC News correspondent. Mara, I always practice
your name and always get it wrong.

every time, Rev.

SHARPTON: I`m trying. I`m trying. But what`s not getting better is
the immigration laws in Alabama. Give us the fact.

SCHIAVOCAMPO: Yes, very controversial story here. Today, a federal
judge tied up on what`s being called one of the strictest crackdowns on
illegal immigration the country has ever seen. U.S. District Judge Sharon
Blackburn appointed by the first President Bush rejected parts of a Justice
Department suit that claimed Alabama`s anti-immigration law was
unconstitutional, the judge ruling, the key parts of the law can stand.
Now, that includes measures that would allow police to check the
immigration status of anyone they stop, detain or arrest. Another part of
the law requires public schools to verify the citizenship status of
student, and report those statistics to the state. Now, supporters of the
law say, illegal immigrants would not be kicked out of public schools but
several right groups say, the law would create a sense of steer in the
community. Today Alabama Governor Robert Bentley defended this


GOV. ROBERT BENTLEY (R), ALABAMA: It would not have been necessary to
address this problem if the federal government would have done its job and
enforced the laws dealing with this problem. This law was never designed
to hurt fellow human beings.


SCHIAVOCAMPO: So, many groups are outraged by the tough measures.
The ACLU saying, quote, "This bill invites discrimination into every aspect
of the lives of people in Alabama in the Southern Poverty Law and their
contends that the law revisits the state`s painful racial past -- Rev.

SHARPTON: Now, Mara. When you say that people cannot deal with
people that are deemed to be here illegally, the thing that really caught
my attention is that some denominational leaders, clergyman came forward,
saying that they would not be able to minister to people, to feed people
that were hungry, or do anything out of fear that they could be prosecuted
if in fact they found that some of the people that they were given
religious service or humanitarian help to were in fact illegal immigrants.


SHARPTON: This is unbelievable.

SCHIAVOCAMPO: There are measures of the bill that the judge has
temporary blocked saying she needs more time to issue final ruling on them.
But if those measures were upheld, they would make it illegal for anyone to
transport, conceal, shield, harbor someone who is here illegally, and so
there are a lot of clergy members who are concerned that that would
infringe upon their ability to minister a certain parts of the community.

SHARPTON: And I mean, how do we advocate that we are a nation that
has certain humanitarian principles and do this? This is amazing to me.

SCHIAVOCAMPO: Well, you know, the supporters of the bill say that
it`s necessary to protect legal residents, but of course, there are many
who feel the way you do, and of course, they`re going to appealing the
judge`s ruling from today.

SHARPTON: Well, Mara, thank you for your reporting. Let me bring in
now, joining me is William Willimon, bishop of the North Alabama conference
of the United Methodist Church. He`s one of the four bishops who sued to
block this outrageous law. Bishop, thank you for joining me tonight.


SHARPTON: Tell me why you and other clergymen have sued to block this

WILLIMON: Well, we became greatly concerned that this law is an
unprecedented invasion into the practice of our faith, our Christian faith.
For instance, one of our churches immediately let me know that they had
some attorneys look into this law and found out that five of their
ministries that they were engaged in would be potentially criminalized by
this law. And so we felt, we bishops of Episcopal Methodist stand Catholic
churches, felt we had an obligation to our churches and the practice of our
faith to challenge this law, and we are thrilled by.

SHARPTON: Let me get this straight now. In the bible belt, in the
southern Christian State of Alabama, let me say, my mom was from Alabama.

WILLIMON: That`s great.

SHARPTON: You have Christian denominations that are saying this is an
infringement on their rights to practice religion? Is that the basic
argument that you`re raising?

WILLIMON: That is our claim. That is our claim. And it`s
particularly disheartening that many people who perpetrated this law are
Christians, but we`re trying to speak up to say, we had a wonderful vigil
right after this law was promulgated where people of all faiths, a couple
thousand others joined together in Birmingham for a silent prayer vigil
march related to the law. And though the law is bad, it`s been a wonderful
occasion for Christians and people of other faiths in Alabama to stand up
and say, this is a violation of our freedom to practice our faith.

SHARPTON: So other faiths -- and other people have come together.
So, even in this kind of bad law, there`s some unity and some goodness
coming out of this, you feel, in bringing people together to stand up for a
right cause?

WILLIMON: That has been one of the great aspects, been one of the
most amazing outpourings of ecumenical support. The law, I think, is so
severe, it is so beyond the pale of common sense that it has brought us
together. The law can be challenged on a number of grounds and has been by
law enforcement officials, by business people. We are challenging the law
on the freedom of exercise of religion grounds.

SHARPTON: Well, Bishop William Willimon, we will be following this
story. Thank you very much for your time this evening.

WILLIMON: Thank you. Good to be with you.

SHARPTON: We`ll be right back.


SHARPTON: There`s a story out of Los Angeles today that reminds us
how our justice system often fails. And living up to the name of justice.
The American Civil Liberties Union has released a 26-page report detailing
brutal assaults on inmates in two of L.A.`s jails. It includes 70 sworn
statements of abuse by county deputies this year alone. In one instance, a
while chair-bound inmate complained about jail conditions. And because of
that, guards kicked and kneed his ribs, back and neck, and shot pepper
spray in his face. A former volunteer tutor recalls an inmate`s head being
smashed into a wall with such force that he could, quote, "hear an audible
crack." This chaplain was ministering when he witnessed a beating.


deputies beating this person, an African-American, and -- I`m sorry -- he
just was saying stop, please stop, stop, I do nothing wrong.


SHARPTON: When we talk about flaws in the justice system, when we
raise contradictions in the case of a Troy Davis or talk about the abuse in
L.A. jails, we`re not being soft on criminals. But to be hard on
criminals, to reform criminals is not to become soft on human rights and to
be soft on human decency. To abuse power, to use in an unfair way the
power the state gives you makes us really pause and say we cannot have a
nation like that. When you use power wrong, when you abuse it, it tells us
more about the abuser than it does the abused.

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


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