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PoliticsNation, Friday, October 28, 2011

Read the transcript from the Friday show

Guests: Bob Shrum, Michael Steele, Karen Bass, Jim Moore, Joe Madison, Nia-
Malika Henderson, Erin McPike

REV. AL SHARPTON, HOST: Rick Perry decides to win ugly.


let`s see your grades and your birth certificate.

SHARPTON (voice-over): The Texas governor reaches deep into the
Republican dark arts playbook to attack the president.

PERRY: It`s fun.

SHARPTON: It`s really not. But who is having the real laugh this
week? You guessed it.


SHARPTON: As the GOP field goes up in smoke, President Obama fights
the Republican phony class warfare line.

Congress, who fought us tooth and nail to protect the status quo --

SHARPTON: Tonight, Bob Shrum and Michael Steele on who is really
fighting for the middle class.

Congresswoman Karen Bass on the myth of Obama`s shrinking base, and
she dishes on that L.A. dinner date.

And a birthday shout-out to Lady Liberty, but not from them.

double-walled fence.

immigrants --

hired an illegal --

SHARPTON: That`s not what she had in mind.

POLITICS NATION starts right now.


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

Tonight`s lead, do Republicans think Americans are dummies? Just
check out the latest fund-raising e-mail from the Republican National
Committee sent out by Congressman Paul Ryan.

It reads, "The safety net for the poor is coming apart at the seams,
and no one in Washington seems to care."

Are you kidding me? Paul Ryan suddenly cares about our safety net?
Ryan cares about the poor, the same wrong-way Ryan who pitched a budget
that would essentially end Medicare, the same Paul Ryan who leads the cut,
cut, cut chant?


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Of course we have to cut spending.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE SPEAKER: Significant cuts of spending
and changes to the way we spend the American people`s money.

Washington spending.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: We need real spending cuts.


SHARPTON: Cut, cut, cut. Now that`s the Paul Ryan I know.

A new report out today says those spending cuts probably eliminated
more than 370,000 jobs. Maybe that`s why I find his concern for the poor
so unconvincing.

This week we saw the president out promoting plans that help America`s


OBAMA: I want us to win the future. So, that means we should be
doing everything we can to put a college education within reach for every
American. That has never been more important.


SHARPTON: You hear that? A college education has never been more
important. But for the second day in a row, Paul Ryan`s party has slammed
the president`s initiative to help students.


BACHMANN: I think that it was unwise for the president to make the
suggestion that he did, and I believe it`s abuse of power from the

Governor Perry`s standards.


SHARPTON: A plan to help our nation`s students is a Ponzi scheme?

Mr. Ryan, we see right through your party. The only scheme is the one
you`re trying to pull off on the American people.

Joining me now is Bob Shrum, a Democratic strategist and NYU
professor, and Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National
Committee and MSNBC analyst.

Thank you both for coming on the show tonight.

Bob, let me start with you.

What do you make of Ryan`s fund-raising pitch, a sudden concern for
the safety net?

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, listen, on the Rev-o-Meter
it`s a full Blagojevich, because the Ryan plan -- and Republicans have
voted on it repeatedly -- would, as you said, shred the social safety net.

You mentioned Medicare. I mean, it would voucherize Medicare and it
would cost the average senior $6,000 more a year, all to give more tax cuts
to people at the top.

Now, the Republican argument here is that those tax cuts, somehow or
other, help, because you don`t want higher taxes on job creators. Well,
you know, under Bill Clinton, we had a higher tax rate on people at the
very top, and we created 22 million new jobs. Until George Bush, we
lowered those tax rates, and in eight years, we created not one net new

So, I think what`s going on here is they just want cover for the kind
of supply-side economics, which is, by the way, the real Ponzi scheme.
These tax cuts for the wealthy never pay for themselves. They leave a huge
gap. In fact, today`s deficit is much more the fault of what President
Bush did in terms of the tax cuts and the downturn than it is anything
President Obama has done.

So you just don`t take him seriously.

SHARPTON: Well, Michael, let`s look at the facts. Let`s look at the
facts, Michael.


SHARPTON: Under Bill Clinton, who did not have these cut the taxes
for the rich, we created 23.1 million jobs. We did the tax cuts to the
rich under George Bush, and there was only three million jobs.

We can have different opinions, Michael, but we can`t have different
facts. Those are the facts.

STEELE: Yes. Yes. But, again, you`re skewing the facts to make your
point, and you`re not taking into consideration that, yes, there were tax
cuts under Clinton, but you know what the differences is between the Bush
era and the Clinton era? Spending.

The spending was nowhere near what it is today, starting in the Bush
era and continuing through the Obama era. So when you cut taxes and you
continue to spend, that gap that you have there is the deficit. It is the
current pressure that we have on our economy that goes back to the Reagan

Even under Reagan, when he cut the taxes, but continued to spend, that
created -- accelerated the deficit. So you`ve got to put it all in the
proper context.

SHARPTON: Michael, people can`t spend if they don`t have money.

STEELE: Wait a minute. Come on, Al.

OK, Al. Economics 101.


STEELE: If I don`t -- if I take less from you, you have more to
spend. That`s how that -- that`s how that works.

SHARPTON: Well, you took less from the rich and we produced less
jobs. When you produce less jobs, there are less people with money to


STEELE: But wait a minute, Al. All of that goes to the spending that
created the bubble that we`re currently in, from housing and all the other
impacts on the economy. You just can`t isolate one aspect of this thing
and say this is the sole cause of this.

SHARPTON: No, I was addressing what you said.


But Bob, spending didn`t cause -- spending didn`t cause the bubble.

STEELE: Yes. Yes, all of that -- all of that spending.

Where did the money come from for the FHA and the housing folks to put
into the economy? Congress kept writing the check. Of course there was
spending, Al. Come on, man.

SHRUM: You know, come on. The FHA didn`t do this.

STEELE: Oh, ,of course not. Oh, of course not.

SHRUM: In fact, the CBO shows the single biggest contributors to the
deficit are, number one, the Bush tax cuts.


STEELE: Wrong.

SHRUM: And number two, two wars that were off budget and that are
going to ultimately cost several trillion dollars.

STEELE: Spending, that`s right.

SHRUM: The fact of the matter, Michael, is you just conceded
something very important when you gave your first answer.

SHARPTON: That`s why I was shocked.

SHRUM: You conceded that we had all of this job creation under the
Clinton administration with higher marginal tax rates on the wealthy, which
is what the president is asking for.

And by the way, Reverend --

STEELE: I didn`t concede anything.

SHRUM: -- you can only give Bush credit for three million new jobs if
you don`t count all of the jobs that were lost because of the Bush economic

STEELE: I`m not conceding a thing here. All I`m saying is you`ve got
to put -- look at the whole picture.

SHRUM: Well, you did, though. You already did.


STEELE: With a Republican Congress and Newt Gingrich in the House and
Clinton in the White House, they cut the spending and the government to
allow that --


SHRUM: The spending caps going up, but there were higher marginal tax

STEELE: They`re higher than today, but they --

SHRUM: The president increased tax rates in 1994.

STEELE: Excuse me --


SHRUM: Michael, they were higher than today.

SHARPTON: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Let Michael try to walk this back,
because he did make a --

STEELE: I`m not walking anything back. I`m not -- look, you guys can
live in your little fairytale land about the economy, the fact is, if you
continue to spend the way we`re spending, you`re going to have the
continued problems that we`re having. That is going to affect the poor,
that`s going to affect the middle class, that`s going to affect job growth.
That`s the fact.

You cannot spend your way into success here.

SHARPTON: All right. Let me show you why there is the problem with
the class warfare argument. And when you made the statement that you made,
a lot of that spending was on wars that were unnecessary that the
Republicans brought us in.

STEELE: Still spending.

SHARPTON: Of course it`s still spending, but let`s talk about -- it
wasn`t spent on the safety net for poor people.

STEELE: It was spending that was appropriated by Democrat Congresses.

SHARPTON: But look at this fact, Michael -- another fact.

Since 1979 -- the CBO came out with this, the Congressional Budget
Office -- since 1979, this is what has happened in this country. The
household income of the top one percent has gone up 275 percent. Middle
class Americans have only seen their income rise 40 percent. The bottom 20
percent have only seen an 18 percent jump.

When you see this kind of economic disparity, there`s real economic
warfare, real class warfare, and the rich are overwhelmingly winning.

Don`t you understand why people are upset?

STEELE: Totally. I absolutely understand it, Al. But I`d also like
to see, as you put up those numbers up there -- and I`d agree with what
those numbers say, but I`d also like to look at how many of those who were
part of each of those respective classes moved up in that same period of
time since 1973, those who were middle class who moved into the upper
middle class, into that top one percent.

The problem that we have here is that we`re not talking --


SHARPTON: What did you say? What did you say? You think a lot of
middle class people move into the top one percent?

STEELE: Al, you know people who were middle class one day, and over
the next 10, 15 years, moved into a higher income bracket.

SHARPTON: I don`t know a lot of people that moved into the top one
percent from the middle class.

STEELE: Including yourself, Al. Including yourself, Al.


SHARPTON: I am not in the top one percent. Do you know what the top
one percent is?

STEELE: Please, brother. Come on, man.

SHRUM: Reverend --

SHARPTON: Michael, calm down. You`re going to have a long weekend to

The top one percent is not inundated with a lot of people from the
middle class.

STEELE: It`s not static. It`s not a set number of people. You earn
your way into it.

SHRUM: Factually, Michael is jut wrong on issue after issue.

SHARPTON: There`s no doubt about it.

STEELE: Of course I am, because I`m not a liberal.

SHRUM: All of the statistics show that social mobility in this
country is way down.

Just a few minutes ago, he said the marginal top tax rate was the same
under Clinton that it was under Bush. It certainly was not. That was what
the Bush tax cut was about.

Finally, the spending here is not spending that helps people in need.
It`s spending on two wars --

SHARPTON: That`s right.

SHRUM: -- one of which we were lied into and which President Bush
refused to pay for, and there were Republican Congresses for much of that

STEELE: OK. You show me statistics going back to 1973. That`s what
I`m talking about. I want to talk about --

SHRUM: There`s less social mobility than there used to be in this

STEELE: Today.

SHRUM: There`s a wider gap.

STEELE: Today. I agree with that, but the point is that has not
always been the case. And when you`re looking at --


SHRUM: Right. And then we got Republican economic policies and it
became the case.

STEELE: Let`s deal with the fact that the person who was middle class
in 1973 may or may not be middle class today. They may have moved up.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you this -- they may or may not be millionaires,
but they`re not in the top one percent, Michael. Let`s be serious.

STEELE: How do you know?

SHARPTON: Well, OK. Fine. I`m sure there`s --

STEELE: Al, in the social circles you run in, you know nobody who has
moved into the top one percent?

SHARPTON: All right, fine. You and I both know that that`s not true.


SHARPTON: But anyway, let me ask you this: how do we solve it?

STEELE: Ignore the facts.

SHARPTON: How do we solve it?

STEELE: Now let`s talk about something.

SHARPTON: How do we solve it and not be fair by not taxing
millionaires? There`s no sacrifice. Millionaires ought to be glad they
can prosper in this country and pay their fair share.

STEELE: But Al, it`s not just about taxing. And that`s been the
central theme that the Republicans have been trying to focus on.

We`ve always led with taxing first. We always want to raise the tax
on anybody. I don`t care if it`s middle class or the rich.

We`re looking at a more comprehensive policy where we`re talking about
moving people from poverty into wealth. We`re trying to create a pathway
so people can access the entrepreneurial spirit.

SHARPTON: How? How? How? How? By taking away some of the safety
net that middle class and poor people --

STEELE: No, we`re not taking away safety nets. We`re trying to
strengthen those safety nets so you bounce off of them, not get trapped by

SHARPTON: Michael, we`re going to try and deal with taking away some
aspects of Medicare and Medicaid --

STEELE: Al, you act like these systems are --


SHARPTON: Let me finish. I`m going to make the point whether you
want me to or not. I`m going to make it anyway.

We`re going to take all of that away because that`s going to help them
do better?

STEELE: No. No one is saying that.

SHARPTON: What are you saying?

STEELE: No one is saying --

SHARPTON: You`re saying don`t tax the rich. So do what?


STEELE: We`re not saying do away with them. Let`s reform them so
that they are -- they`re there for the people who absolutely need to use

SHRUM: Wait a minute. Social Security ought to be there for
everybody, not just for --


STEELE: And no Republican is saying it shouldn`t be.

SHRUM: And Medicare ought to be there for everybody.

STEELE: And no Republican is saying it shouldn`t be.

SHRUM: You said reform it -- wait a minute.

STEELE: What we`re saying is --


SHARPTON: Gentlemen, I`m going to have to go.

Reform Medicaid, reform Medicare, reform Social Security, but don`t
reform rich people having to pay their fair share.

STEELE: No, it`s all a part of it.

SHARPTON: Let`s not touch them because they -- by some magic, the
middle class will just rise up and become billionaires.

Bob Shrum and Michael Steele, thank you for your time this evening.
And enjoy your weekend.

STEELE: You, too, Rev.

SHARPTON: Michael, you knocked it out of the park tonight.

STEELE: Thanks, Reverend.

SHRUM: See you, Michael.

STEELE: See you, guys.

Take care, Bob.

SHARPTON: Ahead, they block and block and block, but President Obama
is determined to fight for the middle class, and it`s working.

Rick Perry can`t pass Debate 101, but he`s asking for President
Obama`s transcripts? We`ll tell you what`s really behind it.

And do not adjust your TV. Don`t. This isn`t a repeat.

Willard just did it again. Another day, another flip-flop. You won`t
believe this one. Actually, yes, you will.

Stay with us.



OBAMA: We are going to make the dream that all Americans share real
once again. And that starts right now. It starts with you.


SHARPTON: Barack Obama is fighting tooth and nail to create jobs, and
everywhere you look, there are signs Americans are taking notice.

All of a sudden, his approval ratings are up, a four-point swing in
the last week, and in match-ups with Republican candidates, President Obama
is beating every single one of them.

At the same time, disapproval of Congress has soared. Since
Republicans took control of the House, it`s gone up 22 points.

Hey, GOP. Wondering what`s going on? Maybe Americans like what
they`re hearing from the president.


OBAMA: We`ve got to invest in new roads and bridges and airports and
wireless infrastructure and a smart grid.

Steps to help responsible homeowners refinance and take advantage of
low mortgage rates.

We should be doing everything we can to put a college education within
reach for every American.

It`s time to put country ahead of party. It`s time to put the next
generation ahead of the next election.


SHARPTON: Joining me now is Congresswoman Karen Bass, Democrat from
California. She was with the president when he visited Los Angeles this
week to talk jobs. She was also with the president when he stopped by
world famous Roscoe`s House of Chicken and Waffles in L.A.

I used to eat there before I got more disciplined.

Congresswoman, thank you for showing -- coming on the show tonight,
and say hello to everybody at Roscoe`s. I don`t do that anymore. I`m a
salad man. They have a little hot sauce too, there.

REP. KAREN BASS (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, thanks for having me on.

SHARPTON: You all got a little hot sauce on your chicken.

Congresswoman, the president, around the country and in L.A. this
week, showed what you and I and others have been saying all along, that
middle class voters, voters in his base communities, be it middle class, be
it black, Latino, haven`t gone anywhere.

BASS: Exactly.

SHARPTON: I think that a lot of the chatter has been more noise than
really reflecting of what`s going on.

Is that what you saw in his job swing through the West Coast this

BASS: Well, absolutely. I mean, let me just tell you that you know
he comes to Los Angeles quite often. And there`s always the controversy
over the traffic. But let me tell you, when he went through the African-
American and Latino community, when the motorcade went through, people were

Folks were literally jumping up and down. I guarantee you there were
no complaints about traffic on that day.

But aside from that, over the last few months I`ve been having
community meetings all over my district. And people are very angry, but
they`re very clear what the problem is, and they know it`s not the

SHARPTON: Well, even -- let me show you this graph. Even a Fox News
poll shows most Americans like President Obama`s economic ideas.

They blame the GOP to stopping them. Americans on Obama`s economic
policies, good idea, trouble getting them implemented, 52 percent. This is
a Fox poll, Congresswoman.

BASS: Well, you know, they said on the first day of session that
their number one goal was to make sure that he was a one-term president, so
even ideas that he has put forward, that originated with them, when he puts
them forward, they`re against him.

SHARPTON: Now, one of the things that you and I were talking about at
the Martin Luther, King dedication is that the strength he has in
communities of color, where they tried to say that it wasn`t there.

"The New York Times" did a story yesterday, "Black Voters` Support for
Obama is Steady and Strong." Well, they have a poll showing overwhelming
support among black voters. If there was a match-up between President
Obama and Governor Romney, 95 percent for Obama, 3 percent for Romney,
which is more than what he got against McCain if these numbers hold.

So I think whether it is -- what I`ve seen -- and when he came to our
group, National Action Network, where you and I were with him at
Congressional Black Caucus, I think it`s a lot of wishful thinking. I
think people are angry and want to see change and want to see things
delivered, but I also think they`re clear on what is going on in terms of
the obstructionist policies of the opposing party.

BASS: I think people are very clear. And as I was mentioning, every
weekend that I come home, I either attend community meetings, or I`m holing
town hall meetings or going to forums. And people across the board are
extremely upset, but they are upset with the Republicans, because they`re
very clear that the president has specific ideas.

And to tell you the truth, Reverend, I`m happy to see him issue the
executive orders. I think that`s a great idea. I think he should issue
them every week on any subject that he can, because it`s real clear that
the only way we`re going to get action out of do-nothing 112th Congress is
for the president to exercise his authority to the maximum.

So, this week it was mortgages, it was student loans. We need to keep
this going.

SHARPTON: Now, Paul Ryan says it`s petty for him to be doing
executive orders. You`re a member of Congress. How do you respond to Mr.
Ryan saying the president is being petty to take care of things like
student loans and mortgages on homes?

BASS: Well, you know, I think we`re getting ready do call Ryan the
warrior for the wealthy. I heard that a couple off hours ago, and I think
that`s a good description.

It might be petty for him, but given the percentage of people that are
under water because of their mortgages, and for folks who have been paying
their mortgage on times, now to be able to actually refinance, that`s what
the president did this week. Student loans, putting a cap on it, to say,
after so many years, the loans are forgiven, or you can`t pay more than 10
percent of your income on a loan, these are concrete steps that help people
that are out there suffering, that help the people that are occupying Wall
Street and occupying L.A.

SHARPTON: Well, I think you are right, and I think that there are
some of us that want to go in there and fight and get the job done. And
you have become a tremendous fighter not only for your district, but
nationwide. I`m very glad to have you on tonight.

And even though you`ve never taken me to Roscoe`s, you are still one
of my favorite members in Congress.

Congresswoman Karen Bass, thank you very much for joining me.

BASS: Well, thanks for having me on. And I`ll find a healthier
restaurant for you the next time you come to L.A.

SHARPTON: All right. That`s a bet.

Ahead, Lady Liberty celebrates 125 years with a huge party. I know
who`s not getting an invitation. You guessed it.

You`re watching POLITICS NATION on MSNBC.


SHARPTON: Welcome back to "Politics Nation." We`ve seen how Rick
Perry was so desperate to revive his campaign this week that he went
birther on us, but he also sent another coded message to the right wing,
calling for President Obama to release his college records.


grades. My grades ended up on the front page of the newspaper, so let`s
you know, if we`re going to show stuff, let`s show stuff.

It`s fun to poke at him a little bit and say, hey, how about, let`s
see your grades and your birth certificate. Let`s lay out the college
transcripts? Mine`s been on the front page.


SHARPTON: Perry was following in the footsteps of his buddy Donald
Trump, who did the same thing back in April.


DONALD TRUMP, BUSINESSMAN: The word is, according to what I`ve read,
that he was a terrible student when he went to Occidental. I heard that
Columbia, he wasn`t a very good student, but he gets to Harvard. How do
you get into Harvard if you`re not a good student? Now, maybe that`s right
or maybe it`s wrong, but I don`t know why he doesn`t release his records?
Why doesn`t he release his Occidental records?


SHARPTON: It doesn`t take a genius to figure out the subtext here.
The suggestion is that Barack Obama wasn`t smart enough on his own to get
into Columbia or Harvard. They don`t come out and say it, but the
implication is Obama got into these schools, because he got preferential
treatment. This whole phony issue is being pushed by the World Net Daily
Web site, the hub of the birther movement. These are the people who
promoted an AP story, an alleged AP article, claiming Obama attended
college as a, quote, "Foreign student." That article was later proven to
be an April Fool`s Day hoax. These birthers even question whether the
child in this kindergarten photo is really Barack Obama. Of course, it is,
and this whole issue is ridiculous.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Why won`t Barack Obama release his elementary
school report cards? We need to know if he played well with others. Did
he bring gum to class? And if so, did he bring enough for everyone? I
certainly hope not, because that would be socialism.



SHARPTON: Comedian Colbert is funny, but this is no laughing matter.
With this line of attack, Rick Perry is speaking in racially loaded
language that caters to the worst impulses of the far right fringe of his

Joining me now is Jim Moore, "Huffington Post" contributor and author
of the upcoming book, "Adios Mofo: Why Rick Perry Will Make America Miss
George W. Bush Perry?" And Joe Madison, talk show host and Sirius/XM
radio. Jim, you have covered Perry a long time. Does he know exactly what
he`s doing? He is a man now who`s never lost an election. I can`t believe
some of these are not calculated.

This is a dog whistle to the racist dogs out on the right edge of the
crack. Or I think it`s interesting though that Rick Perry is talking about
comparing grades with people. This is a guy who got a "C" in gym class at
Texas A&M. He apparently flown to jumping jack or something. So, it`s not
a comparison he should want to make, but the other part of there is,
there`s a suggestion here that, as you said, Al, that Barack Obama got in
because of affirmative action, preferential treatment, and the thing about
that -- that is so just insanely hypocritical about Rick Perry is
everything that has happened for him has been preferential.

His father and him, the federal government, which may or may not have
leveled the playing field for Barack Obama or anybody else who comes from
an ethnic background to level the playing field and get them into a
university of quality, Rick Perry`s been getting those favors all his life.
A hundred thousand dollars in crop supports from the federal government for
him and his father to maintain their farm and ranch. He`s been running a
corporate preferential treatment program down here in Texas using taxpayer
money to write checks to big corporations to help them out to come down
here. He`s got nothing to stand down here, he needs to let this go.

SHARPTON: Let me show this first. Not that it should be dignified,
but just so people understand the president`s background, his record of
achievement in terms of academics, at Columbia he earned a bachelor of
arts. He was the editor of "The Harvard Law Review." You don`t get that
on preferential treatment. He was the editor of the Law Review in Harvard.
And graduated Harvard magna cum laude. So, I mean, clearly, you`re talking
about someone who did it on merit and prove themselves every step of the
way. But then Rick Perry goes back Joe, this week every day except one on
bringing up the birther issue. Let`s look at Rick Perry and I want you to
respond to what Rick Perry is doing here, Joe Madison.


PERRY: I don`t have a clue about where the president and what this
birth certificate says, but it`s also a great distraction.

That is one of the biggest distractions that there is going. Somebody
wants to see my birth certificate, I`ll be happy to show it to them.

I don`t think I was expressing doubts. I was having some fun with
Donald Trump.

The president is the president. That`s a fact. So the issue of
whether or not -- I don`t think Americans see that as anything other than a


SHARPTON: Now, he keeps bringing it up as a distraction, and while he
distracts with it, but what he`s playing to, Joe, is if you look at the
poll in Iowa, 48 percent of the Republicans in Iowa still don`t believe the
President was born in the United States. Forty eight percent, almost
half, of the Republicans in Iowa. Joe, is Rick Perry really playing to a
base extreme right-wing vote that he knows is there?

JOE MADISON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Simple answer to that is, yes.
Let me make three quick points. He kept saying it. It`s a distraction.
So, I`m trying to distract you from the fact that I really shouldn`t be in
this race to begin with. Point number two, and that is, look, Rick Perry
needs to understand this, if he`s listening. President Obama is not
running for class president. He`s running for president of the United
States, you do not ask a 50-year-old grown man to show you his or a woman,
her transcripts. And point number three, there`s an old adage. It`s not
how you begin the race. It`s how you end. No professor, no university,
Donald Trump, has ever handed out an affirmative action exam. You get the
same damn exam everybody else gets and you have to get the same grades.
And no matter how he got in there, the point is he ended up at the top, end
of topic.

SHARPTON: And way at the top of debt. But let me go back to you last
Jim, here, I`m going to give you the last word. Look at the poll in Iowa.
Mr. Perry came in, blazing saddles. He was the cowboy from Texas, looking
up to him. Now he`s way down at the bottom, fighting for the basement of
the poll with Newt Gingrich. Is this why we`re seeing some desperate
tactics here?

MOORE: Yes. He`s got to do something Al, to motivate those people
who were crazy about him getting in the race in the first place. So, he`s
asking the classic question of when did you start beating your wife?
You`re guilty by implication when he brings up this birther thing. So,
he`s going to keep coming up with these kinds of things, things that
animate those people on the far right who turn out in big numbers, because
they`re angry, and those are his voters, the social values voters who are
against gay rights, against abortion, and these kinds of things. If he can
get those people excited again and have them reconsider Herman Cain and
say, wait a minute, he`s not really my guy, Rick Perry is my guy. He`ll
begin to show some movement. And remember, he`s up on TV in Iowa now with
nobody else up there against him. And he`s going to start driving some
numbers in Iowa with his TV advertising. So, it`s all part of a plan.

SHARPTON: Well, Joe, he may be up on TV, but he doesn`t have much to
say if this is all he`s got to offer.

MADISON: And he`s getting people to vote against their own interests,
because they are distracted with this foolishness.

SHARPTON: Well, Joe Madison, thank you.

MADISON: Thank you, Al.

SHARPTON: Jim did the -- three points in a close. Thanks both of
you. Have a great weekend.

Still ahead, we`ll talk about the losers and the bigger losers in a
rough week for the republican field. And celebrating lady liberty on her
125th birthday. Why the GOP seems to have forgotten that we are a nation
of immigrants. This is "Politics Nation" only on MSNBC.


SHARPTON: Newt Gingrich was talking education reform here in New
York, and he was in a mood to name drop.


Duncan on getting more charter schools around the country. And I actually
went around the country with Reverend Al Sharpton and Secretary Duncan in
what was truly a fairly unusual trio. We could automatically get press
coverage anywhere we went, just with the spectacle of everyone standing


SHARPTON: He`s right. He`s right. It was a spectacle, but it was
for a good cause. Look, at times we can`t agree on what day of the week it
is or his latest attack on President Obama`s student loan program, but in
2009 we teamed up to push for changes in public schools. Speaking at the
White House or going to schools across the country talking about education
reform. Congress, listen up. We came together on an issue that really
matters, and as for you, Newt, if you start agreeing with me about anything
else, I promise not to tell republican primary voters.


SHARPTON: What a week it`s been in the reality show known as the GOP
race. Folks, this party is officially off the rails. Joining me now for
the week in review, Nia-Malika Henderson, a political reporter for "The
Washington Post," and Erin McPike, a reporter for Real Clear Politics.
Thanks to both of you for coming in.



SHARPTON: OK. Let`s start with the big talker of the week. Herman
Cain`s incredible ad. In three days, it has a million hits on YouTube. I
can`t resist. I just can`t. Just roll it one more time.


candidate like Herman Cain. We need you to get involved. Because
together, we can do this. We can take this country back.



SHARPTON: Nia, this guy seems like a joke, but he`s gone viral. So
did Cain win the week?

HENDERSON: Well, you know, I can`t get that song stuck out of my
head. I mean, in that ad, if there have been a million hits, I probably
have watched it at least 500 times and contribute to that. But I mean, in
some ways, Cain, if you want to look at winners and losers from this week,
Cain may have won the week by the sheer absurdity of this ad, that people
are just watching, and laughing, parroting on all the talk shows and late-
night comedy shows. And he certainly has gotten a lot of attention, his
campaign manager has gotten a lot of attention, a lot of unwanted
attention. AP had a story out today which has looked at his very checkered
past, but in some ways, it`s like the more publicity be at good or bad that
Cain has gotten, it seems to you know, even boost him up higher in the
polls. I mean, this guy is like a Teflon candidate so far.

SHARPTON: Erin, let`s look at the polls. The FOX poll has Cain at
24, Romney 20, Gingrich 12, and on down. Across the board Cain`s number
one in Ohio, Iowa, South Carolina, national, I mean, what`s going on, Erin?
Is he going to run away with this?

MCPIKE: I don`t know if he`s going to run away with it? But
Republicans are obviously shocked. They think his 15 minutes of fame are
up, that he`s going to be coming down on the polls soon. And that hasn`t
happened. And when you talk to pollsters who are running focus group of
Republicans and some of these states, they`re finding that the reactions to
Cain are better than any of the other Republicans. And that is surprising
to them. As far as that ad, we`re talking about it, and we`re talking
about him more. And just last week on this show we were talking about how
Cain was maybe flip flopping on abortion. We`re not talking about that at
all today. We`re talking about this ad...

SHARPTON: And we`re not the only ones talking because late-night
guys, late night, comics don`t want Herman to go anywhere. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Herman, what do you want your campaign ad to look
like? You know what I think we do? I think we should get a guy that looks
like Alex Trebek to smoke a cigarette, and then I`ll stand in front of some
-- blinds and smile.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Herman Cain will create jobs, and those jobs will
feed our family and grow our economy.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I`m Sam Romano (ph). I do Herman Cain`s taxes.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Accept my challenge a slow smile context.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Here`s a little taste. Go.


SHARPTON: And now, if you think, Nia, that you hit 500 times on that
original ad by Cain, I`ve got something else for you for next week that
we`ll be talking about Friday. Look at the ad no one paid attention to.
Look at this add, yellow flowers, this is for you, Nia.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: What are you guys? Liberals?


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: In 2012, let`s get real for a change, people. Take
a real look at Herman Cain. I think you`ll like what you see. I stand
with Herman Cain, because Herman Cain stands with us.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Nice chicken, honey.


SHARPTON: Now, Erin, doesn`t that just make you want to give him the
keys to the free world and let him balance the budget? I mean, doesn`t
just say, he`s the guy that needs to be running everything?

MCPIKE: Again, we`re talking about it. And remember, about one year
ago we were talking about Christine O`Donnell and the I am a witch ad, and
then she became the republican nominee in the Delaware Senate race. So,
for some reason, this web videos are working, they`re getting chattered,
they`re getting people entertained.

SHARPTON: But what happened to Ms. O`Donnell?

MCPIKE: Oh, Christine O`Donnell, obviously lost.

SHARPTON: Well, that might be why I`m still talking about it. I did
study the O`Donnell thing in the long run would work sometimes to the
fringe doesn`t work in the general election. But let`s get to some serious

MCPIKE: No question.

SHARPTON: On the economy, there were more signs this week that the
republican candidates have fallen off the right wing. On Tuesday, Rick
Perry rolled out his 20 percent flat tax plan. The plan is a giveaway to
corporations and the rich and attacks the poor and the middle class. That
we know Herman Cain has his 9-9-9 plan, which does the same. And now we`re
learning Mitt Romney is set to roll out a flatter tax for his economic
plan. Erin, these kinds of plans were once the extreme. Now it`s the
standard. How did we get here?

MCPIKE: Well, if you remember, in 1996, in 2000, Steve Forbes ran on
a flat-tax plan. And he got a lot of prominents from that, but then he
ultimately didn`t win his primary. But now in this post Tea Party world,
you know, when the Tea Party came around in 2009, 2010, and they`re
bringing, spending in deficits, in tax cuts, and that kind of thing really
into the forefront, the flat tax is now very powerful, and it`s really
resonating with the republicans base. And so these contenders that have
been pulled far to the right have to come out and offer something like that
if they have any hopes of winning a republican primary.

SHARPTON: But Nia, everyone of this flat tax plan is flattening the
middle class and the poor, how can you win with this level of unemployment
offers something and they only helps the rich?

HENDERSON: It`s true. I actually talk to Steve Forbes on Tuesday.
He predicted this exactly, that more and more candidates would come out and
support this flat tax. The reality of the flat tax though as we all know,
is that it is a tax break for the rich, and Rick Perry has admitted as
much. And it hurts the middle class. But, you know, I think one of the
things they`re playing on is what is a frustration and real confusion, I

SHARPTON: But I don`t think they understand the frustration. They
are really making it worst. Nia-Malika Henderson and Erin McPike, thanks.
And you both have a great weekend, and stay off YouTube, Nia. We`ll be
right back.


SHARPTON: I want to give a birthday shout-out to the Statue of
Liberty. Today, Lady Liberty turns 125. In honor of the big day, a
naturalization ceremony was held here in New York City 125 immigrants from
46 countries. Lady Liberty has welcomed people into our country for more
than a century. Her famous lines say it all, "Give me your tired, your
poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." But 125 years later,
Republicans aren`t celebrating. Take a look at this. This year 16 states
proposed legislation attacking immigrants` rights. And six states have
anti-immigration laws in effect right now. Just listen to the republican


HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We`ll have a real fence, 20
feet high with barbed wire, electrified.


With a sign on the other side that says, it can kill you.

hired an illegal in my life. You put in place a magnet, you talked about
magnets, you`ve put in place to draw illegals into the state.

double-walled fence on America`s southern border.

immigrants for everything.

have a heart.


SHARPTON: I grew up in Brooklyn, New York. One of my first school
outings was the teachers took us as youngsters to see the Statue of
Liberty. We climbed up inside. She told us what that lady stood for, what
that torch was lit for. We believed it. I still believe it, even in
Alabama, I still believe it. Even in Arizona, I still believe it. Liberty
should be what this country stands for, for people around the world to see
that light in the darkness of their situation, and liberty, for those of us
at home, those of us that seek only the rights to earn a living like
anybody else at the top. Happy birthday, Lady Liberty. They`re trying to
dim your light. There are those of us that keep letting it shine and want
it to shine for another 125 years.

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


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