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PoliticsNation, Thursday, September 8, 2011

Guests: Dana Milbank, Ryan Grim, John Garamendi, Michael Steele, Ed
Rendell, Patricia Gonzales

AL SHARPTON, HOST: Hey, Republicans, you sure you want to go after
this president`s leadership?


We will be deliberate. We will be relentless.


SHARPTON: Relentless against al Qaeda. But back home, Republicans
keep blocking the relentless focus on jobs with their old refrain.




SHARPTON: Leadership. Tonight, Dana Milbank on why Republicans just
won`t follow a leader.

And Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas says he and his wife share
everything. Then why didn`t he share information with the court, as he`s
supposed to? Congressman John Garamendi on why Justice Thomas` conflict of
interest should be investigated.

And everybody is talking about Governor Chris Christie.


WHOOPI GOLDBERG, ACTRESS/TV HOST: Can you see him as president?


SHARPTON: Republicans might get their wish, but it could be a dream
come true for Democrats, too.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We slaughter him with the quotes from himself
saying he`s not ready to be president.


SHARPTON: Banks gone wild, which means my pet Banksie is on the loose

POLITICS NATION starts right now.


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

Tonight`s lead: Republicans still playing follow the leader.


OBAMA: Earlier this morning, Anwar al-Awlaki, leader of al Qaeda in
the Arabian Peninsula, was killed in Yemen. The death of Awlaki is a major
blow to al Qaeda`s most active operational affiliate.


SHARPTON: The drone strike was yet another major blow to al Qaeda.
It took out the man behind the Fort Hood massacre and the botched Christmas
Day bombing. And his death comes just five months after the death of Osama
bin Laden. It may drive Republicans crazy, probably does.

But, folks, this is leadership. And it makes comments like these
downright laughable.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: We watch a president who once
talked about his courage of convictions, but still has yet found the
courage to lead.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: We don`t need a good politician. We
need a strong leader.

need leadership the most, we got it the least.

BOEHNER: It`s pretty clear the president has decided to forget hits
role as president and leader of our nation.


SHARPTON: Forgot how to lead? Speaker Boehner, I think it`s your
party that`s forgotten how to lead, especially when it comes to the

Following the financial collapse, this country begged for reform. The
financial reform bill passed with the support of just three House
Republicans. Three, out of 237.

During the debt debate, it was your political brinksmanship that led
to America`s first-ever downgrade. And now with millions of Americans out
of work, the president calling for a balanced approach to get this economy
back on track -- and this is all you can muster?


BOEHNER: I don`t think I would describe class warfare as leadership.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: When you pick one area of
the economy and say we`re going to tax those people, because most people
are not those people, that`s class warfare.

RYAN: Class warfare, Chris, may make for really good politics, but it
makes for rotten economics.


SHARPTON: Republicans shouting class warfare is not leadership. We
have a leader, and if you would lend an ounce, even an ounce of compromise,
we`d see as many domestic successes as foreign policy ones.

Joining me now is Dana Milbank, columnist for "The Washington Post,"
and Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for "The Huffington Post."

Thanks both of you for showing and coming this evening.

Dana, let me start with you. Can Republicans continue to hit Obama on
failing to lead?

DANA MILBANK, WASHINGTON POST: You know, it`s funny, Reverend Al,
because for the first year or so, they were saying that President Obama was
a dictator, a tyrant, that was ramming through all these reforms in an
undemocratic way. This sort of pivoted now to the president is a weak
leader. They were so much more successful in making that argument because
of virtually in action in the Capitol in doing anything.

I think the president has finally tan things in the direction of
putting legislation out there that he knows the Republicans are going to
object to, forcing them to knock it down. So, he`s going to force them to
take the votes. So, he`s putting himself back in the position of strong

He`s lost a lot of numbers in the polls in terms of the impression
that he`s a strong leader. But he`s doing what he needs to do to get that

SHARPTON: Well, in the foreign policy area, and those of us that are
progressive that may question some of this, but let`s listen to what some
of the Republicans have been saying about his leadership and strength in
the foreign policy area.

Let`s take a look at this.


the world is in peril. Not only because disastrous economic policies, but
from the incoherent muddle that they call foreign policy.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We can`t lead the world by
hoping our enemies will hate us less.

has laid the table for an Arab spring, by demonstrating weakness from the
United States of America.


SHARPTON: Now, Ryan Grim, whatever the feeling of those of us on the
left, does actions like today get the attention of Republicans on the Hill,
making it more different to make those statements that we just heard?

RYAN GRIM, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Yes, it certainly does get their
attention, because, you know, this is the kind of thing that they do
consider to be global leadership -- you know, going out and killing bad

Like you said, there are a lot of people, and I put myself among them,
this isn`t leadership, to show real moral leadership, you try to follow
international law instead of carries out the extra-judicial killing of an
American citizen, you know, without bringing charges, you know, without
bringing an indictment, you know, without getting a conviction, that sort
of thing. But from the consumer perspective --

SHARPTON: You won`t get the debate on the right. That`s my point.

GRIM: You`re exactly right, you won`t. And so, that`s why you saw
earlier today, you know, Rick Perry puts out a statement congratulating
President Obama --


GRIM: -- for killing -- for killing al-Awlaki, who the president
called the leader of al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula. That`s not true.
Nobody thinks that he`s the leader, what he connection is, is in dispute,
but he`s certainly wasn`t the leader.

But that`s beside the point. It brings up this awkward situation of
people like Rick Perry, you know, congratulating President Obama. The way
he did it, you know, was a little sideways. He said, you know, "I thank
the president for continuing President Bush`s policies and, you know, not
reneging on them." So, it`s kind of a backhanded comment.

But it still forces Rick Perry to compliment Obama, and that does put
them in a weird situation.

SHARPTON: And it complicates the statements he made. And again,
notwithstanding how some of us may disagree with it, they clearly can argue
on the points that we would.

GRIM: Sure thing.

SHARPTON: But let me ask you, let me go back to you, Dana, the
president made a statement that got a lot of buzz today about the country
going soft. Let me show you the statement.


OBAMA: This is a great, great country that had gotten a little soft
and, you know, we didn`t have that same competitive edge that we needed
over the last couple of decades we need to get back on track. But, you
know, I still wouldn`t trade our position can anyone country`s on earth.
You know, we still have the best universities, the best scientists and best
workers in the world. We still have the most dynamic economic system in
the world. So, we just need to bring all those things together.


SHARPTON: Now, two-part question on that, Dana. One, will that also
lead toward him showing more strength by saying we`re getting a little too
soft, and he`s calling for the country to be more competitive and more
hardened, if you would? And second, he`s crystallizing that we needing to
more competitive in education and other areas?

So, is the president really building toward the stronger more decisive
leadership image, in your judgment?

MILBANK: Well, I think that`s what he`s trying to do, Reverend Al.

To tell you the truth, I`m a little concerned about that sort of
remark, because you can picture it being spliced in a way without the bit
he said at the end, and just say, well, America is getting soft, sort of
like the Jimmy Carter malaise speech.


MILBANK: And people will use that to say, on here`s this president
who doesn`t believe in American exceptionalism. Here his goes again, you
know, putting down the nation. You know, accepting the inevitability of
American decline.

So, I think that sort of statement can be used against him.

You know, having said that, he has -- as we were decision earlier --
moved his leadership in a stronger direction, in the economic area with the
jobs bill, and also in the foreign policy area. Remember, we see it in
these Republican debates now, Republicans falling all over each other to
say, you know, who`s strongest in terms of getting out of Afghanistan,
really to the left of the president on this. So, he`s -- in foreign
policy, he`s got himself with today`s news as well as the Afghanistan
position in a pretty strong national security position.

SHARPTON: Now, Ryan, let me ask you something. We are very concerned
about jobs. I don`t care who we are in this country.

Did Durbin today said that there is a -- we don`t have the votes to
get a jobs bill through. Now, this Congress and the Senate has failed to
bring about a lot of things. In fact, the Republicans` concentration has
been other than that. First, let me show what you would -- what Dick
Durbin set about the vote.


HOST: Do you think you have 60 votes for it?

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: Not at the moment, I don`t think we
do. But we can work on it, we should. The oil-producing-state senators
don`t like reducing or eliminating the subsidy for oil companies. You
know, that`s an example. There are some senators who are up for election
who said, "I`m never going to vote for a tax increase while I`m up for
election, even on the wealthiest people." So, we`re not going to have 100
percent of Democratic senators. That`s why it needs to be bipartisan.


SHARPTON: Now, you know, a lot of people say to me why are unions and
civil rights movement like I was marching. I think Durbin saying even
among Democrats is telling. What is your count? No one is plugged on the
Hill better than you are. Is this true in are we in trouble of getting
this through the Senate with the Democratic majority?

GRIM: Oh, for sure. You know, they`re definitely struggling for the
entire package. It`s such an irony that Democrats have finally figured out
the foreign policy question, when nobody cares anymore, when people care
about jobs. That`s the Democratic issue, is jobs, and all of a sudden,
they finally won the foreign policy game. You know, they`re fighting the
2004 election all over again.

But Dick Durbin is right. You have a large number of Democrats who
are up for election in swing states or red states in 2012, and getting
someone by Ben Nelson to vote for a tax increase on anybody this cycle is
going to be impossible.

SHARPTON: Well, if you look at the fact that Republicans, their
priority, let me show you this very quickly, I have to go, they have gotten
zero jobs bills through, but they put through -- put future up in the House
nine abortion bills -- showing you the priorities. Nine bills on abortion
the Republicans have put up in the House, not on one on jobs -- it shows
you where they`re all.

And when Democrats are kind of fluctuating in the Senate, maybe that`s
why the president said we need to be marching again. Maybe that`s what he
was saying about I`m not being comfortable.

I don`t know, but I`m going to do it anyway.

Dana and Ryan, thank you for your time tonight.

Ahead, the Tea Part is trying to get school kids to read the U.S.
Constitution. Great. But why do they include plugs for a Glenn Beck
political group? Is he a Founding Father?

And as health care laws heads to the Supreme Court, lawmakers are
calling for an investigation into Clarence Thomas`, quote, "suspicious
actions." Does Justice Thomas have a serious conflict of interest on
health care decision? It`s a hot one, and it`s next.

You`re watching POLITICS NATION on MSNBC.


SHARPTON: Up next, did Clarence Thomas violate ethics rules?
Democrats are calling for an investigation. We`ll talk to one, next.


SHARPTON: Should Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas recuse himself
from the decision on Obama health care law? Does he have a conflict of
interest that compromises any claim of judicial impartiality?

Those questions are gaining force, as the high court starts its new
session Monday. The Obama administration has formally asked the court to
review the Affordable Care Act, making it certain a ruling will come in the
middle of next year`s election.

In a statement, the Justice Department placed a health care law in
line with other historic legislative achievements. Quote, "Throughout
history, there have been similar challenges to other landmark legislation,
such as Social Security Act, the Civil Right Act, the Voting Rights Act,
and all of those challenges failed. We believe the challenges to the
Affordable Care Act will also ultimately fail and that the Supreme Court
will uphold the law," end of quote.

The coming frenzy over health care is only heightened by questions
swirling around Thomas. As we reported this week, Justice Thomas failed to
disclose a five-year period nearly $700,000 in that that five years his
wife Ginni earned from the Heritage Foundation, which opposed the health
care law.

Thomas also attended events funded by right-wing conservative Koch
brothers -- Koch brothers, according to documents released by a Common
Cause. Now, 20 Democratic lawmakers are asking for a federal
investigation, noting that with high-profile cases on the horizon, quote,
"It is vital that the judicial conference actively pursue any suspicious
actions by Supreme Court justices."

Joining me now is Congressman John Garamendi, a Democrat from
California. He is one of the lawmakers who signed this letter asking for a
federal investigation of Justice Thomas.

Congressman, thank you for being here today.

REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D), CALIFORNIA: It`s good to be with you.

SHARPTON: Do you question Justice Thomas` ability to rule impartially
on this case?

GARAMENDI: Well, we need to understand that this nation has been so
successful because we have the rule of law. We operate under laws, and
those laws are interpreted into the constitutionality and appropriateness
by the Supreme Court. So, ultimately, the Supreme Court is the final
arbiter, and we must have confidence in the Supreme Court`s decisions if
we`re going to have a sane and rational economy and society.

Justice Thomas has raised some very, very serious questions about his
ability to be impartial in this situation. You said it so very clearly,
for four or five years, he noted that there was no income from his wife,
when, in fact, she received some $700,000 in income from the Heritage
Foundation, an organization that`s clearly opposed to the Affordable Care
Act, and many other things for that matter, and that various visits he`s
had and speaking opportunities and the like, really calling into question
his impartiality.

And so, for me and for the other 19 members of Congress, who are
saying, wait, wait, wait, we have to have an impartial panel looking at one
of the most important laws that`s come down in many, many years, the
Affordable Care Act. Is it constitutional? Yes or no? Only to be
determined by the Supreme Court, and, hopefully, a Supreme Court that does
have at least one of its members with a very serious question to whether
they are or are not impartial.

SHARPTON: Now, Congressman, in fact, on the disclosure form, he did
not just leave it blank. He wrote none, in terms of the question of
whether his wife had received income. He wrote "none."

Now, the disturbing fact there is not the disclosure among some
circles, but that they are suspecting -- and only a suspicion, that maybe
he wrote none because he knew it would raise a red flags if, in fact, he
reported where her income had come from.

GARAMENDI: Well, that`s a question that really needs to be taken up
by the attorney general and the judicial council. That`s their question.
We`ve asked them to do that. We asked them to take a look at this.

It`s not just a four-year period. Apparently, it`s well over a decade
in which he simply put down the word "none." That`s -- that raises
questions. Certainly, as a Supreme Court justice, he`s aware of the rir789
to disclose income and potential conflicts. And in this particular case,
he chose to write "none" when in fact there were at least $700,000 in
income in this case from the Heritage Foundation. That`s a question that
needs to be reviewed.

And just on the face of it, it`s caused me to believe that there is a
conflict of interest, and that he should recuse himself from an extremely
important question of constitutionality and the appropriateness of the
Affordable Care Act.

SHARPTON: Well, that`s why we raised it the other night. And let`s
be clear that Mrs. Thomas is not just someone making income from this
foundation. She`s a lobbyist, in fact. She`s lobbied -- we played footage
of her actually speaking out against this act.

And when you look at U.S. Code Title 28, Part 1, Chapter 21 -- so that
people understand the basis of what you`re requesting the inquiry on, it
reads -- he shall -- talking about a member of the judicial -- "He shall
also disqualify himself if he knows he or his spouse has a financial
interest in the subject matter in controversy or in a party to the
proceeding, or in any other interest that could be substantially affected
by the outcome of the proceeding."

So, this is not some of us just seeking some partisan kind of
posturing here. There are concerns when she, in fact, lobbied and
campaigned against this act that is now going to be in front of him and she
had financial gains, which is clearly talked about in the code of that
being the case of a spouse, Congressman.

GARAMENDI: Well, the law is clear about recusal. You read the entire
section. It`s perfectly clear. I don`t think you need a Supreme Court
decision to interpret that particular clause.

I think recusal is clearly appropriate in this case. As to whether
there`s other violations that`s for the judicial council and the attorney
general to decide. But, clearly, there`s a lot of smoke here, and there`s
knowledge that there was a period of time in which he improperly disclosed
and now we know that she did receive substantial income. That income is
available to him as well as to her, and I think that`s another issue that
needs to be taken into account here.

SHARPTON: Congressman, thank you for your time. Have a great

GARAMENDI: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, next, the Tea Party is playing fast and loose
with American history. Folks, this is historical fiction at its best.

Plus, Chris Christie is seriously considering a run for president. Is
he the GOP hero or just another zero?


SHARPTON: Across the country, Tea Party groups are pressuring public
schools to teach their version of constitutional history. It`s not the
first time. This summer, one Tea Party group started Tea Party camp, where
kids learned about the gold standard, and the dangers of socialism --
almost as much fun as roasting marshmallows.

Now, "Mother Jones" reports the effort to indoctrinate schools is in
full swing. In western California, Tea Party patriots asked schools for
approval of lesson plans. They suggested materials and threatened to go to
the media if schools didn`t do lessons on the Constitution.

The meddling didn`t end there. A chapter of Glenn Beck`s 9/12 group
donated thousands of copies of the Constitution to two Florida school
districts. But the booklet excluded some extras, including the Beck`s
group 9/12 Web site address, references to religious groups, and quotes
like this: "Unless Americans remember and preserve our rich heritage of
liberty, a new dark age of tyranny could lock the majority of mankind into
the harsh chains of totalitarian slavery."

Dark ages of tyranny for kids? C`mon, Tea Party.

Those Florida districts decided not to distribute the books. Schools
would be better off getting money for teachers and supplies than getting an
extra helping hand from right-wing ideologues. Did the Tea Party groups
think no one would notice the indoctrination effort? Nice try, folks, but
we got you.


SHARPTON: Welcome back to the show. It`s looking a bit more like
Republicans may get their wish after all. The "North Star Ledger" reports
that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is now seriously rethinking his now
"I`m not running" stand. Of course, the GOP couldn`t be happier with the
news. And why wouldn`t they? Christie is their darling. He has vetoed a
tax increase for millionaires, cut $819 million in state aid to education
and laid off 3,000 teachers. What a record. No wonder he`s the
Republicans` republican.

No wonder the Republicans love him, but seriously, can someone with
that record actually be a serious national contender? Or does the Christie
fever say more about how dissatisfied republican faithful are with their

Joining me now is Ed Rendell, former DNC chairman and current NBC News
political analyst. And Michael Steele, former RNC Chairman and now an
MSNBC analyst. Michael, with this record of getting rid of teachers, is
Christie really the Republicans` best hope to take on President Obama?

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: Well, I don`t know if he`s the
best hope to take on the president. I think that`s a decision he`s
grappling with right now and a number of Republicans are trying to come to
some conclusion on, but I think in terms of his record, like every other
governor out around the country, has had to make some tough decisions in a
state that had a huge tax burden on the backs of their citizens. One of
the reasons why they fired the last governor and hired Christie.

And I think he`s made the tough choices, which has endeared him to a
lot of folks around the country, not just Republicans and conservatives,
but independent voters as well. So, I think, you know, certainly the
record is going to get the kind of scrutiny that you referred to, Al, but I
think ultimately it`s going to boil down to whether or not Christie
believes he can get into this race at this stage of the game and be an
effective campaigner and effective challenger to Romney for the nomination.

SHARPTON: That`s going to be the question, Michael. And Governor
Rendell, let me just say this, he`s right. Can he be effective? Is he
ready? Let me give you an expert, Governor Rendell, on Christie, on
whether Christie is ready.


SHARPTON: Governor Christie himself. Look at what he said.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: You`ve got to believe in your
heart that you are ready, to walk into the Oval Office and to lead the
nation. And I don`t feel I am ready.

I don`t feel ready in my heart to be president.

I don`t feel like I`m ready to be president.

I simply do not have the desire to do it nor do I think I`m ready.


SHARPTON: Now, there`s a difference between playing hard to get and
just saying I`m not ready. So, Governor Rendell, how does he -- if he
decides to come out, how does he reconcile his own assessment that he`s not
ready with a change of heart so quickly?

RENDELL: Well, it`s interesting, Governor Christie. And I don`t
agree with obviously everything he`s done, but I admire him for his honesty
and I admire him for his courage. But his honestly is going -- if he tries
to run for president, it`s going to kill him. Even in the republican
primary. He won`t have to wait until the general election. Because he
said what felt, and he always says what he felt. And he honestly felt that
he didn`t have enough experience, being governor of New Jersey for a short
period of time. He`s not ready to be president of the United States. He
said that over and over again.

And if you`re Mitt Romney or you know, Rick Perry, you just run that
ad over and over and over again. And it`s not like saying I`m not running
for president, because my family and I, we decided, we don`t want to do it.
Because then you can change your mind and say, well, my family came to me
and they said, look, we`ve seen the field and we believe you`re the best
hope for America, so they gave me the green light. That explanation
washes, but how do you explain not being ready in August and all of a
sudden deciding to run in September. There couldn`t have been an
immaculate education period of four weeks. So, I think he`s in deep
trouble if he tries to run.

SHARPTON: But Michael, let me say this. If he was the president, why
don`t you just go with me down, you know, dreamland here? He`s president.
Imagine showing President Christie`s handling of anger management? Look at
this with him on a teacher.


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.

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, and we`ve got to go fight to do it now.

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


SHARPTON: Now, that wasn`t a confrontational tone and he gets worse
than that. Can you really sell this to the American public?

STEELE: Well, that`s a good question, Reverend. I mean, I think a
lot of the spunk and the vinegar that Christie brings to the conversation
is appealing to people right now. He`s very plain spoken. He`s very
direct. I think that`s what makes Herman Cain more attractive at the stage
of the primary process. So, you know, I`m not going to take away from that
particular side of his personality. I mean, I can identify with that a
little bit myself.

SHARPTON: You know, I notice you never said that about my spunk or
vinegar. I won`t take it personal.

STEELE: No, I`ve never given you grief of spunk and vinegar.

SHARPTON: You didn`t give me a vote, either. But anyway.

STEELE: Well, yes.

SHARPTON: There`s another issue that we talked about earlier this
morning on "Morning Joe," Eugene Robinson brought up about the governor`s
weight. As a former fat guy, I`m qualified to talk about it. Mr. Robinson
says, "Whether or not he lets himself be persuaded to run for president,
Chris Christie needs to find some way to lose weight."

RENDELL: I disagree.

SHARPTON: But after Mr. Steele and I discussed it, and I might add
Mika Brzezinski was upset with Eugene about the column, "The View" picked
it up. Watch what the ladies on "The View" said.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Can you see him as president?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Can I say -- you say no? OK. Why not?


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Because he`s hefty, but different word.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: He`s not healthy. I don`t want to have to worry
on my president dying from a heart attack, because he`s overweight.


SHARPTON: Now, I think the issue before you weigh in pun intended
Governor Rendell and Michael Steele, the issue to me is not the fat guy
jokes. I grew up with them and I lost a lot of weight to get rid of them,
but the issue is that health is a legitimate issue in every campaign. They
talked about McCain`s health problems. They talked about President Obama`s
smoking, so from a health point of view, not the fat guy jokes, is it
legitimate if he becomes a candidate to say is his health going to be
impacted by him being overweight?

RENDELL: Look, Al, the health of a candidate is always a legitimate
issue, but Governor Christie gets fairly good checkups. Of course his
doctors say he`s overweight, but fairly good checkups on other things. And
look, I think the bigness is a little bit part of the mystique. He`s a big
brash, tough talking, plain talking, honest-talking guy. I think that`s
almost part of -- I hate to use the word shtick, but it`s almost part of
the shtick, that makes Chris Christie attractive to so many people. So,
we`ve had overweight presidents before, William Howard Taft, and a number
of others. I don`t think.

SHARPTON: We haven`t had any since television and YouTube, but go

RENDELL: Well, yes, but you know the campaign that Jon Corzine waged
against him. Every Corzine ad that pictured Governor Christie, pictured
him as even huger than he might be. And that didn`t seem to affect the
voters in New Jersey, and New Jersey is a pretty -- involvement state. I
don`t that`s his biggest problem. But I think out when you say, you are
not ready to be president, you cannot change your mind 30, or 60 or 90 days

SHARPTON: No, Michael, today Florida moved its primary date up. Now,
this could be a problem, you were chair of the Republican Party and
certainly Governor Rendell is the chair of DNC, I ran a democratic primary,
and I know that when you start moving these primary dates up, this means
that Mr. Christie if he jumps in, would have to quickly put together a
campaign operation that can run in five states at one time. Perry and
Romney have the money and organizations in place, this could be a very
serious obstacle for Christie to come in if you start seeing states like
Florida which will be essential for him to do well in moving the dates up.

STEELE: Well, you`re absolutely right, Reverend. In fact, in my
administration, we put in place the current rule that sort of extended the
process to allow candidates the flexibility to get in. So, they didn`t
have to worry so much about money. So, we didn`t have the Super Tuesday
with, you know, vote was decided effectively on the first Tuesday in March.
We wanted this to extend itself or February, extend itself a little bit. I
think for Christie, yes, because of the move by Florida to January 31st,
you`re now going to see Iowa, Nevada, South Carolina and New Hampshire,
moved their primary caucus dates up, probably as early as the first week of
January, and potentially depending on what other states do, into December,
which means that in terms of getting in on the ballots in those days and as
well as the other states, that clock has ticked itself out at this point.

SHARPTON: Well, thank you Ed Rendell, Michael Steele, thanks for
coming on the show tonight. Both of you have a great weekend.

RENDELL: You to, Al.

STEELE: You too, Al.

SHARPTON: Up next, oil companies in Texas are cashing in while school
districts suffer. This is Rick Perry`s vision of America? And Bank of
America is planning on charging customers to use their debit cards. Sounds
like my pet banksie is on the loose.


SHARPTON: The republican campaign to block the vote is still going
strong. This time the secretary of state in Maine is trying to scare
college students into dropping their legal voter registrations. Last week
he sent a letter to more than 200 out of state students suggesting they
could be investigated for violating voter election laws. What the letter
didn`t mention is that 30 years ago, the Supreme Court said it`s OK for
college students to vote in the state where they attend school. It has
some students thinking about dropping their registrations.

Meanwhile, a win in Ohio, where a law that would have severely
restricted early voting has been blocked. Democratic volunteers collected
318,000 signatures to put the law on hold, and it would now be on the
ballot in the fall. Republicans seem willing to do almost anything to
suppress the vote. It`s why we have to keep fighting back.


SHARPTON: Presidential candidate Rick Perry is very proud of his
record in Texas, but there are some things he would rather not discuss,
like his record on schools. Texas schools SAT scores are almost at rock
bottom. And the state places last in the percentage of people with high
school diplomas. Now, Texas had a major budget shortfall this year, $27
million. So to compensate, Perry slashed cool school budgets by $4
billion. Despite that, we`re learning Texas may give several oil
refineries a hefty tax break to the tune of $135 million. The oil
refineries, the oil companies claim, equipment that stems emissions of
harmful gases should be tax-exempt and the state owes their money.

The three board members of the Texas Commission on Environmental
Quality are all appointed by Rick Perry. They previously denied the refund
request, but Valero, one of the oil companies, appealed the decision. And
according to the Associate Press, commissioners are thinking about changing
their minds. Quote, Shaw said, "The legislature probably intended a
broader interpretation of the law. He instructed his staff to research
whether they could award partial exemptions to Valero." So, where is the
money coming from? Texas public schools, of course.

If Rick Perry`s minutes have their way, Texas public schools are going
to have to fork over almost $63 million to underfunded oil refineries.
Valero made almost $100 billion in revenue in the last 12 months, $100
billion. And they want $135 million from Texas public schools? This is
Rick Perry`s America.

Joining me now is Patricia Gonzales, a Texas mom and president of a
Parent/Teacher Organization, which was created this past summer after
budget cuts left her children`s school without basic supplies, such as
pencils and paper towels. Welcome, Patricia.

having me.

SHARPTON: Patricia, what do you think of this whole idea of public
school money being used to offset what the oil companies are asking for in
the state?

GONZALES: I think that it`s appalling that they would even think that
they should be allowed these tax revenues. It`s not -- every company,
every people, they pay taxes. The small businesses pay taxes. Why do big
corporations feel that they can get away with any type of loophole or any
type of application that they could file to try to get a tax break? It`s
not right. It should be fair across the board. It`s affecting our
children, and I will not stand for it. Parents in our community will not
stand for it. Enough is enough. We need to unite, we need to get the
community involved, and we have done that, through or PTO at Parker
intermediate in Pasadena, forming this PTO this year, we have moved forward
and said enough is enough. We are working with the superintendents of the
school, they`re behind us, they know we`re moving forward to get the
revenue that we need. We have already been hurt already by $4 billion that
Governor Perry had already took out.

SHARPTON: That`s what I want to ask you about. Governor Perry, the
country needs to know -- you`re a parent there in Texas. He is running for
president. What can you tell us, as a parent of school children in his
state about Governor Perry`s commitment to education? What do we need to
know about him?

GONZALES: I think that the commitment is not there. He`s already
shown that. And by doing the budget cuts that he did over the spring. I
went and advocated and fought for this in the spring in Austin. We had
parents from Pasadena, parents from Houston ISD. We all rallied, and we
had buses going up to Austin, you know, letting the governor and the
legislators know, we cannot allow this to happen. We need to have the
funds that we need for our children to succeed in school, and everyone
should have the equality to be able to go to college. That`s what we want
from the governor. He needs to put children first, not big oil companies.

SHARPTON: Now, when we look at the oil companies, look at this graph
quickly, Patricia, they are making a lot of money. Exxon Mobil is up 50
percent. Chevron and ConocoPhillips is up 33 percent. We`re not talking
about these companies are suffering.

GONZALES: Exactly, sir. They are not suffering. And if anything,
the main question should be not them applying for these tax breaks, but
saying let me see what we can go for the community. Because half of the
people that work in those corporations, in those companies, those
refineries in Pasadena and in Houston are people that live in the
communities that work in those refine requires. They are hurting the same
children that they`re employing. So, that`s appalling within itself, that
they would even allow something like that to happen.

So, I would want and other parents want there in the community, and
other leaders that have also been behind me and other organizations that
that have been helping me to this process, in making sure that we neat to
get the word out, not only to the parents, but community leaders, and also
the community to know, even if you don`t have a child in your school, but
get involved, let your voice be heard. And that`s what you`re giving us an
opportunity, sir, and we appreciate that you`re giving us a time to get the
word out.

SHARPTON: We`re going to stay on this story and we`ll going to get
the word out, Patricia. Thank you very much for joining me. And good luck
in your fight for teachers. Thank you.

GONZALES: Thank you.

SHARPTON: We`ll be right back.


SHARPTON: It`s time for another edition of our ongoing tragic-comedy
on banksie, "The Adventures of Banksie," my pet bank. In today`s story,
banksie and her pals are at it again. Bank of America has infuriated
customers by announcing a charge of $5 monthly fee for debit card
purchases. Why are they charging their customers for something that used
to be for free? Banks used to be able to charge merchants for processing
debit card transactions, a charge that brought in $19 billion of revenue
for banks in 2009, but the financial reform bill, which goes into effect
tomorrow caps those fees.

Now banks are losing that money, so they figured out the way to get it
is from all of us. No word yet how much money this will rake in, but other
banks are also considering the new debit card charges. Bank of America
made $4.4 billion in profit last year, but just last week it announced it
might cut as many as 10,000 jobs. With all this news, my pet banksie is in
a pretty good mood. He just keeps getting richer and richer.

So, tonight he`s taking me out for lobster, then we go into a show on
Broadway. He`s really excited about seeing "how to succeed in business
without really trying." And afterwards, we may get you a post-dinner right
on a cruise ship. Banksie is so happy, wagging her tail, doing everything
you would want. The only time banksie gets upset is when I go to the
mailbox. He stops barking, growling. He doesn`t want me to see my bank

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


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