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PoliticsNation, Thursday, December 1st, 2011

Read the transcript from the Thursday show

Guests: Jonathan Capehart, Robert Menendez, Nia-Malika Henderson, Erin
McPike, Will Crossley, Heather Smith

REV. AL SHARPTON, HOST: Newt Gingrich goes after poor people. The
Republicans` presidential front-runner blames poor children again. This
one`s a shocker, even for a heartless Republican Party.

Also, Republicans are waging an all-out war on your right to vote.
But tonight, a new effort by Democrats to fight back.

And right now on the Senate floor, GOP lawmakers are at it again,
protecting the rich and ignoring the middle class.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE SPEAKER: I`m not an economist, I
don`t know what impact it`s going to have on the economy.


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

Our lead tonight, a shocking statement about poor children in this
country from the man who now is the front-runner in the Republican
presidential race. When I saw this story late this afternoon that Newt
Gingrich had made big news, we had to change the show to make this our lead

Today, Gingrich was campaigning in Iowa, and was asked to defend his
comments from earlier this month that poor children could be janitors and
that child labor laws are "stupid." But instead of making things better,
he made them a whole lot worse.


really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around
them who works. So they literally have no habit of showing up on Monday.
They have no habit of staying all day. They have no habit of, I do this
and you give me cash, unless it`s illegal.


SHARPTON: I can`t believe that, even from Newt.

Let me get this right. Poor kids in poor neighborhoods have nobody
around them who works. They only understand cash for services when it`s

When it`s what, Newt? Drug dealing?

Gingrich went on to say that poor kids should be more like his


GINGRICH: My granddaughter Maggie, who is now 12, wrote an e-mail me
the other day, and she said, "I`m e-mailing you on my new iPad." And I e-
mailed back and I said, "How did you get an iPad?" And she said, "For the
last eight months I have saved all of my money," and I was pretty proud of

SHARPTON: The problem is, Newt, there are millions of poor kids who
could save for eight months or eight years and they still couldn`t afford
an iPad.

Not everybody`s lucky enough to be born in the Gingrich family. So,
after saying all of this, Newt finally got back to the original controversy
about child janitors, and then he doubled down.


GINGRICH: You have a very poor neighborhood. You have kids who are
required under law to go to school. They have no money. They have no
habit of work.

What if you paid them part time in the afternoon to sit at the cleric
(ph) office and greet people when they came? What if you paid them to work
as the assistant librarian? What if they became assistant janitors and
their job was to mop the floor and clean the bathroom, and you paid them?


SHARPTON: You got it. Newt`s solution to poverty is what the
Republicans` solution has been for decades -- tell poor kids mop the floor,
clean the bathroom.

There are 45 million working poor in this country. Notice the term
"working poor." Hear that? Twenty-two million are children.

There are 51 million that are working just above the poverty level.
One hundred million poor Americans are not poor because they don`t work.
They don`t come home with cash because they did something illegal. They
come home with too little cash because their wages are too low, because
their jobs are being outsourced, because they`re being laid off.

Yes, there`s illegal activity in poor communities, but most poor
people are working every day. I grew up in a poor neighborhood. People
worked every day. They got on subways every day.

Did they have poor people in our neighborhood that did things wrong?
Yes! But I didn`t meet the real crooks, Newt, until I got downtown.

Joining me now is Jonathan Capehart, opinion writer for "The
Washington Post" and an MSNBC contributor.

Jonathan, what`s your reaction to these comments that nobody works in
poor neighborhoods?

when I first saw the tweet -- originally it shout out to Charles Blow (ph),
who tweeted this -- and I thought this possibly couldn`t be from now, they
must have dug something up from many of Newt`s many speeches or
commentaries from the 1990s talking about this. But when I saw that it was
today, in Iowa, my jaw dropped.

The blanket condemnation of really poor children in really poor
neighborhoods who don`t have the habit of work or all the horrible things
that he said I found truly, truly astonishing. And this notion that his --
I think he said his 12-year-old granddaughter saving up money? Notice he
doesn`t say how she got the money.

Her grandfather is a multimillionaire who makes $60,000 a half hour
for a speech. That`s more money than most people make in a year. Most
people. And for him to look down his nose over and over and over again at
poor people, people who are not as fortunate as he is to be able to make
that much money, to go on fancy vacations, and to have all the great things
that he has is truly despicable.

And one last thing, Rev -- I`m sorry. This notion of having children
be janitors and working --

SHARPTON: I mean, that`s unbelievable.

CAPEHART: -- as assistant greeters and things, with what money? It`s
unbelievable. Unbelievable.

SHARPTON: First of all, they don`t want to pay the janitors --

CAPEHART: Right. They don`t want to pay them.

SHARPTON: -- and the people that are working in the schools. Now you
want to make children do the work that you don`t want to pay the people
that are doing the work. And of course the children are going home to
neighborhoods that everybody that has cash is doing something illegal.

I mean, this is worse than the welfare clean demonization. But
Jonathan, this is the front-runner of the Republican Party right now.


SHARPTON: And not one candidate that is running against him so far --
it is still a few hours after -- have come out and denounced this.


SHARPTON: He`s in Iowa, where unemployment and poverty also exist. I
mean, what are you talking about? This is totally insulting to a lot of
Americans, 100 million of them, to be exact.

CAPEHART: You know, Rev, this is the same -- and not to do a broad
brush of the Republican Party that Newt Gingrich did of really poor
children and really poor neighborhoods, but what we have seen throughout
the Republican primary process is a really uncomfortable, unfortunate, and
disgusting sort of demonstrations of intolerant views. This comes on the
heels, you know, many weeks ago at the Republican debate where a service
member who was in theater in Iraq was booed by members of the audience,
another debate where people cheered Rick Perry`s death penalty record. You
know, another debate where people said, "Let him die!" when there was a
hypothetical question about someone who didn`t have health insurance and
what should they do?

There`s a level of intolerance within the Republican Party, and again
I`m not broad-brushing the entire party, but I do believe that if the party
-- if the Republican Party wants to be perceived as a legitimate party, it
has got to get away from the fringes and the extreme and come back --

SHARPTON: No question.

CAPEHART: -- someplace close to the middle.

SHARPTON: Well, they`re attacking the working poor of their own


SHARPTON: I mean, when I was growing up in New York, you had people
like Jacob Javits, a Republican senator, Rockefeller, others we may have
disagreed with, but they talked about inspiring people. Now -- well, let
me show you what the Republicans are saying.

Now it`s beat the poor down. It`s bad enough they`re working and not
getting the right wages and some of them laid off, and you`re outsourcing
jobs. We`re going to beat you down on top of this.

Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No program in our government has surged out of
control more dramatically than food stamps. Lottery winners, multimillion-
dollar lottery winners are getting food stamps.



HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you don`t have a job and
you`re not rich, blame yourself.



BOEHNER: The top one percent pay 38 percent of the income taxes in
America. How much more do you want they to pay?



MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Corporations are people, my
friend. We can raise taxes -- of course they are. Everything corporations
earn ultimately goes to people.


SHARPTON: Now, I mean, it just enrages me to hear them make blanket
statements to blame people for their own social conditions that they had
nothing to do with creating. I need an intervention. I need a preacher.

Let me go to my favorite preacher, the chairman of the Congressional
Black Caucus, Democrat from Missouri, the esteemed congressman, Reverend
Emanuel Cleaver.

Put your hand on the screen and pray for me, Reverend. These people
are driving me to the point of fury. I mean, can you believe the kind of
things they`re saying?

REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D), MISSOURI: Well, you know, Reverend, this is
troublesome at a point that I`ve not experienced, at least in a short
period of time.

Look, you know, Mr. Gingrich obviously didn`t think about what he
said, and a lot of the other statements that people are making are not
conservative statements. They are mean-spirited statements.

SHARPTON: That`s right.

CLEAVER: I grew up poor. I grew up poor. I know poor people. There
are poor people who are in the Republican Party who don`t deserve to have
somebody say that the only thing they wanted to do is commit crimes.

And it would seem to me that if Mr. Gingrich is really interested in
trying to stop crime, he would try to work to get some charges filed
against the 25 top hedge fund managers who collectively earned $11.1
billion. But he`s going to attack poor people, and the hope of course is
that they won`t turn out to vote.

I don`t think that this is Republicanism, it is not conservatism. I
think this is Gingrichism, ,and that the public is going to eventually
catch on, and Mr. Gingrich will follow the people who also rose to the top
of the polls in the Republican Party.

SHARPTON: Well, let me show you this. Now, we know part of the
Republican plan is cutting food stamps. Let me show you something Newt
Gingrich said about food stamps and poor people.

Watch this, Congressman.


GINGRICH: More Americans today get food stamps, and we now give it
away as cash. You don`t get food stamps. You get a credit card, and the
credit card can be used for anything.

We`ve had people take their food stamp money and use it to go to
Hawaii. And they give food stamps now to millionaires.


SHARPTON: Now, you are more of a worldly traveler than me, but how do
you take $31, $32 a week and go to Hawaii? I mean, it`s just a blatant
demagoguing at the expense of poor people.

There`s nobody that can go to Hawaii on a food stamp. Millionaires
getting food stamps -- if millionaires are getting food stamps, that`s
fraud. I challenge Newt Gingrich to name one millionaire that he knows
that`s getting food stamps.

But this is all at the expense of poor people, Mr. Chairman.

CLEAVER: Well, what I think we need to do is send the video that you
just played for the nation over to the Justice Department, and we will
request a Justice Department investigation. The first stop, of course, the
FBI would interview Mr. Gingrich and ask for the names and addresses or
cell phone number of the millionaires who are getting food stamps.

And I`m going to join in with Mr. Gingrich, because I don`t think that
the Congressional Black Caucus or any Democrat or any individual in this
country of good will is going to want that to happen.

So, Mr. Gingrich, you have an ally. I`m going to join with you in
putting those millionaires in jail for getting food stamps.

SHARPTON: And please throw in that I`ll be at the airport, at the
booth waiting on the flights to Hawaii. And if I catch one person on their
way to Hawaii with a food stamp credit card paying for their ticket, I`ll
send them over to Justice, to you two.

This is amazing, this is disrespectful. It`s making a mockery of
working people, everyday working poor, that the numbers have gone up,
according to the U.S. Census. A hundred million people living below
poverty or right above poverty, most of them working every day.

CLEAVER: This is a sad, sad moment in American history that a person
who could actually go to the White House -- I don`t think he will, but at
least technically he could go to the White House -- has launched an attack
on poor people in this country, people who, in most cases, can`t defend
themselves. And that`s why I`m glad you`re on the air, and that`s why I`m
glad that the country now knows what Mr. Gingrich is saying about poor

And again, I think Eric Holder needs to be notified today that Mr.
Gingrich has information that millionaires are getting food stamps. And I
can assure you that I will take --

SHARPTON: I`ve got to take a break. Thank you, Congressman Emanuel

CLEAVER: Good to be with you.

SHARPTON: We`ll follow up on that.

And Jonathan Capehart, thank you so much --

CLEAVER: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: -- both of you -- for your time.

We`ll be right back.


SHARPTON: In just a few short hours, Senate Republicans are expected
to block a bill that would have put money into the pockets of everyday
American workers. Once again, they`ll show they don`t care about the
middle class.

You know what else they don`t care about? The facts.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would failure to pass a payroll tax extension and
unemployment benefits harm the economy, in your opinion?

BOEHNER: I don`t -- you know, I`m not an economist, I don`t know what
impact it`s going to have on the economy.


SHARPTON: You don`t know? Well, let me help you out, Speaker.

Failure to pass this legislation would mean one million jobs losses
next year. Gee. For a party that`s so concerned with job creation, you
don`t seem to mind putting people out of work.

The GOP`s payroll plan would cut 200,000 government jobs. And when
that plan isn`t laying off people, it`s restoring cheap gimmicks to pay for
the payroll tax cut.

Instead of taxing millionaires, Republicans suggest that we let them
voluntarily contribute. Really? That`s your plan?

I guess you didn`t realize the Treasury Department lets people do that
already on their Web site. Get serious and get your facts straight.

Joining me now is Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat from New Jersey
and member of the Senate Banking Committee. He`s also co-sponsored the
Democrats` payroll tax plan.

Senator, thanks for coming on the show tonight.

SEN. ROBERT MENDENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: Good to be with you, Reverend

SHARPTON: Will Republicans have the audacity to block your bill

MENENDEZ: I think they may stand lockstep in opposition. You know, I
heard the Speaker say he`s not an economist. It doesn`t take a rocket
scientist to understand giving 168 million American workers $1,500 more in
their pockets will have a robust effect in this economy, create likely
another million jobs by the ripple effect. And not doing it, not extending
the payroll tax, and as we view it, increasing it in terms of the benefit
to workers, Mark Zandi of Moody`s has said it could put us back into a

So, the reality is, we have a plan that puts, on average, $1,500 -- in
my home state of New Jersey, $2,000 for the average family -- back in their
pockets, money that they need, spend in this economy, create a demand for
other goods and services, create other jobs, grow our economy, and get
people back to work. I can`t believe that they`re going to stand lockstep
in opposition to that opportunity for middle class tax cuts.

SHARPTON: Now, Senator, so we`re clear -- because I want the people
to understand what we are talking about definitively -- your bill would
average $1,500 in the pockets of about 168 million Americans nationally.
In different states it would be different. The ripple effect of that,
because they`ll spend money and it will go into the economy, could be up to
a million new jobs.

And they`re blocking this, or threatening to block it, or we expect
they`re going to block it?

MENENDEZ: Absolutely. That`s what they`re saying right now.

And instead of giving 168 million Americans the opportunity to get up
to $1,500 more, and also we give a benefit to businesses. Ninety-eight
percent of all businesses would see a reduction in the payroll tax. That
gives them money to invest in their businesses, grow this economy. And for
those companies that are willing to hire more individuals, we give them a
total elimination of the payroll tax for the next year.

So this is an opportunity for our families to get more money in their
pockets, spend in the economy, create a demand for jobs. It`s also an
opportunity for businesses to be able to grow their employment base and
grow their businesses, and it`s fully paid for by saying those who make
over a million dollars, you`re going to pay a 3.2 percent surcharge. I
think that`s pretty fair.

SHARPTON: Now, Senator, there are at least three Republicans that are
beginning to start saying that -- Republicans in the Senate, this is --
that maybe a surtax on millionaires is something they could deal with. And
we see -- let me give you the list of those three: Mike Johanns, Senator
Susan Collins, Senator Pat Roberts.

Is this a break that you think that we can get more to move toward on
the Republican side if people in this country started understanding how
outrageous it is what they`re saying and doing, means to the American

MENENDEZ: Well, Reverend, we`ll see, first of all, tonight how they
cast their votes. I hope they will join us. And I hope more will join us.

We need at least seven Republicans to join us to make this happen. We
could pass this if it wasn`t for Republicans holding it up to a filibuster-
proof vote, which means we`d need a simple majority vote of 51 instead of
60. So, we could pass this tonight and be on the way to putting $1,500 in
the pockets of working families, and to give small businesses across the
spectrum -- not just small businesses -- a further tax break to help them
grow their businesses.

So, I hope that they will cast their votes, the three that you said,
that way. I hope others will join them. I hope that we have finally
broken this view that the only way to grow this economy is to put it on the
backs of cuts on middle class needs instead of ultimately taking it from
those who have made well over a million dollars and say, be part of the
sacrifice of helping us grow America back into prosperity.

SHARPTON: Before you go -- and I`m running a scroll underneath as we
talk of the jobs bills and the tax cuts and what the Republicans have done
per state. But let me say this, because people need to understand this.

At the end of this year, we`re looking at unemployment benefits
expiring -- at the end of this month is the end of this year. That would
lose -- if unemployment insurance expires, six million people lose their
benefits next year, 1.8 million will be cut off in a month.

I mean, we are really playing with the existence of millions of
American families` income, the only thing they have left. And we`ve
already outsourced a lot of their jobs or laid them off. Now we`re dealing
with you fighting tonight on payroll tax extension. We`re looking three
weeks from now of losing unemployment insurance for millions.

MENENDEZ: Absolutely. And JPMorgan has said if in fact we don`t
extend the unemployment insurance and the payroll tax cut, that what we
will see is a reduction of our economy by two percent. We need to grow
this economy, not have it been reduced by two percent, and that`s what`s at
stake here, starting tonight.

And I hope that our Republican colleagues will join us. It`s time to
put the politics aside. It`s time to put America first. It`s time to
money back in the hands of middle class working families.

SHARPTON: Senator Robert Menendez, thanks for coming on the show

MENENDEZ: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, Willard Romney is running scared. He is planning a
massive political attack. And the question Willard is asking, why doesn`t
anyone in the Republican Party like him? I`ll help him out with some

Stay with us.


SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. Make no mistake about it.
As outrageous as it may seem to some of us, Newt Gingrich is the new GOP`s
front-runner. A new poll just released shows Newt`s crushing Willard in
Florida, a whopping 50 percent to 19 percent. And nationally, Newt is up
38 to 17. And he`s sounding as cachous (ph) ever after just mocking Mitt
as the former front-runner and blasting him as a flip-flopper. He was back
on FOX rubbing it in.


thought originally, it was going to be Mitt and not-Mitt, it may turn out
to be Newt and not-Newt. And Politico more conservative candidate in any
rational standard.


SHARPTON: Politico reports team Romney is preparing to launch a full-
scale attack on Newt. They will paint Gingrich as a serial flip-flopper,
hammer Gingrich for being a career politician, play up Romney`s stable
family life and discredit Newt`s character. Willard is losing to the guy
Republicans wrote off months ago. As "Time" magazine points out, it`s
pretty clear, nobody likes Willard.

Joining me now, Nia-Malika Henderson, a national Political reporter
for "The Washington Post," and writer for their 2012 blog, and Erin McPike,
a reporter for Real Clear Politics. She`s writing about Gingrich`s
strategy, telling his team not to attack Romney. Thank you both for being
here. Nia, let me start with you. Can Mitt handle the pressure?

funny, if you saw that interview that he had with Bret Baier, he could
barely stand up to the question now from Bret Baier. Hard to see how he is
able to go toe to toe with Newt Gingrich who is a real warrior. He`s been
a steward in terms of lack of conservative issues. It does look like what
he`s going to try to do here is employ what could be called the pee-wee
Herman strategy of defense which we essentially say, I know you are but
what I am? What`s this charges of flip-flopping, that`s what it looks like
he`s going to do, but the question I think still going to be, who is Mitt

He wasn`t able to answer all these questions from Bret Baier in terms
of who he is, in terms of why the flip flops. He basically said, read my
book. And I think it`s going to be really interesting to see how he deals
with this, especially if Newt Gingrich holds true to what he said, which is
that he won`t go negative on any of these other republican candidates.
He`ll stick to the Reagan rule, stay positive and instead train his fire on
Barack Obama. That`s what he said, he might of course flip-flop on that
and change directions in the way that Jon Huntsman did, in terms of saying
he would be civil candidate, and then attacking Mitt Romney. But it`s
going to be really interesting, it`s going to be really tough test for Mitt
Romney, stuck as he is at 23, 25 percent of the polls to see how he comes
out of this.

SHARPTON: Erin, Gingrich seems to be really cocky. I mean, I want to
show you a statement that he made, taking credit for everything. I mean,
he just went off. Watch this.


GINGRICH: I helped Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp develop supply-side
economics. I helped lead the effort to defeat communism in the Congress.
I helped, as Speaker of the House balance the federal budget for four
straight years, reform welfare as an entitlement, the first tax cuts in 16
years, take whatever your list of conservatism is, there are places in my
career where I have done that stuff, and I`ve been consistent about it.


SHARPTON: He balanced the budget, helped defeat communism. I mean,
he forgot to say when President Obama sent him out on the education tour,
he walked on water. He forgot that one. But Erin, will he go negative or
will he just try to play on his exaggerated Newt Gingrich portfolio? Is
there a chance he will go negative against Willard?

ERIN MCPIKE, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Well, he`s saying right now that
he`s not going to go negative. He obviously instructed his staff this
morning not to attack Mitt Romney, so he thinks that strategy is going to
work. You know, as far as talking about his record is concerned, sure,
maybe it`s an exaggeration, but that`s what politicians do. But in talking
about his record, that`s a civil contrast with Mitt Romney right. Because
Mitt Romney hasn`t talked much about his record in government. He just
talks about how he spent most of his life in the private sector. He`s on
attack with Mitt Romney but he is drawing a contrast there, by trying to
list all of his accomplishments.

SHARPTON: Now, Nia-Malika, some people tweet me and get upset when I
keep calling Mr. Romney Willard. I wonder what I`m going to get when they
find hear tonight compare him to pee-wee Herman, but that`s another day.
Let me show you though, he is a little awkward. I mean, there are some
things that does caught people to kind of look. And Politico has dug up
footage of him campaigning for Senate in 1994. He was just as awkward 17
years ago. Look at this.


Have a good day.


ROMNEY: I need your help on November.


ROMNEY: Oh, you don`t vote. Oh, I can`t you register then. Tell me,
why don`t you vote?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I`ve never voted.

ROMNEY: Never voted?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: No, because if you want to know why, I don`t
believe anybody that`s a politician.

ROMNEY: Well, you should know one thing. Which is I have never run
for office before. That`s why I finally decided to do it. Good to see


ROMNEY: Don`t run away. I know, you haven`t got your makeup on,
right? You know you do. Good to see you. Oh, the lady of the house.


ROMNEY: Just a worker. That`s how we all are. How`s business?


ROMNEY: How are you doing? I`m Mitt Romney. Good to meet you.


SHARPTON: You notice how even 17 years ago he doesn`t seem to
connect. He kind of like walks up to people, he kind of like walk the
other way. There never seems to be a connection with him and people. And
that is the same awkwardness that people are kind of sensing today, as he
runs that I mean "Time" magazine cover, why don`t they like him? There`s
just something missing there, Nia-Malika.

HENDERSON: Yes. He has had a lot of trouble connecting with average
folks. And I think that video certainly shows that he`s going to be in New
Hampshire this weekend doing some door knocking, meeting average folks
there, but I think there is a difference between if you look at Barack
Obama who does look like a very modern president, he talks about, you know,
Jay-Z and you know, music that some of this in his iPod and his iPad using
that. And Mitt Romney does come across as a kind of 1950s ward cleaver-
type man. And I think that could damage him if people don`t feel like he`s
the kind of guy that you want to have a beer with. If he comes across as
this sort of Harvard elite type of guy, I think he`s going to have a real
problem connecting with those blue-collar voters that are so important in
Pennsylvania, in Ohio, in Michigan, in all of those swing states that you
really need to win if you`re going to make it to the White House.

SHARPTON: Now, Erin, one of the things that really is telling is over
at FOX, it kind of telegraphs where the conservatives are, because Nia-
Malika mentioned the other night Willard was on, and they kind of threw
hard questions at him, but then watch this. Newt Gingrich was on Hannity.
It was kind of like softball questions. In fact, Newt has been on 53 times
already this season, and more than anybody else running. Watch how him and
Hannity had a much different kind of conversation than the conversation
with Bret and Willard.


GINGRICH: I stop for a second. There`s a thing back to what the
period where I kept telling you Hillary is going to be nominated and you
kept telling me I was wrong and you were right, remember I called her at
one point and said, I think I have to eat crow.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST, "THE SEAN HANNITY SHOW": No, it wasn`t quite that


GINGRICH: I did and turns out, you were the most prescient analyst of

HANNITY: This interview is going great. If you get the nomination,
what would your line be about Obama?

GINGRICH: Can you really stand four more years of this?

HANNITY: Good line.


SHARPTON: I mean, that wasn`t exactly a hardball interview.

MCPIKE: No, but as you mentioned, Gingrich is already be on FOX about
53 times. So, Mitt Romney has been on FOX his share, too, but he hasn`t
done Bret Baier`s show all year. And not a problem when you`re not talking
to the press enough, you get stuck. And so, he does this one interview,
Romney that is, and then starts complaining about it. Remember, that was a
trap for Sarah Palin. To a certain extent, plenty of reasonable
Republicans think that the media is being too hard on Republicans and on
these candidates, but if you`re complaining about it to the degree that
Mitt Romney is, when Bret Baier is simply asking him tough questions and
doing his job, that doesn`t look very good.

SHARPTON: Nia-Malika Henderson and Erin McPike, thank you both for
your time tonight.

HENDERSON: Thank you.

MCPIKE: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, the fight against voter suppression just got a major
new player.

And they`re keeping the late-night comedians very happy these days.
We`re heading to the gaffe factory. Stay with us.


SHARPTON: The GOP full-court press to suppress the vote. A new plan
to fight back. That`s next.


SHARPTON: Republicans are determined to suppress the vote, but
Democrats are fighting back. The Democratic National Committee is
launching a new campaign to protect voting rights. And this just released
report shows these new restrictive laws were introduced in 40 states this
year, from registration barriers to voter I.D. requirements, these laws
could impact five million voters. Republicans say they prevent voter
fraud, but it`s baloney. A five-year Bush Justice Department probe led to
86 prosecutions out of 300 million votes cast. That`s 0.0003 percent.
They`re targeting democratic voters, suppressing minorities, the elderly
and the young. But we won`t stop fighting for our rights.

Joining me now is Will Crossley, director of Voter Protection for the
Democratic National Committee which just released its new report "A
Reversal in Progress: Restricting Voting Rights for Electoral Gain." And
Heather Smith, president of Rock the Vote, an organization dedicated to
encouraging young people to vote. Thank you both for joining me tonight.

Good to be here.

having me on, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Will, let me start with you, how are you and the DNC
fighting back?

CROSSLEY: Absolutely, Reverend Sharpton. Thanks again for having me
on. We`ve been fighting back on these laws all year long. Starting from
the beginning of this year, we have fought back legislatively. I think
it`s important to note that the five democratic governors who have received
a photo I.D. bill this year, all five of them vetoed those bills. We`ve
been fighting back that the grass-roots level. We`ve seen grass-roots
action in Maine, where 70,000 signatures were gathered to force the repeal
of Election Day registration onto the ballot last month. And when the
voters of Maine had an opportunity to speak on that question, they restored
Election Day registration that they had had in that state for some nearly
four decades. And we`ve seen almost 500,000 signatures collected in the
state of Ohio, where they tried to curb early vote.

And let me just say, there`s been a lot of focus on photo I.D., but we
also have to pay attention to the fact that they have tried to change the
rules on registration in Election Day registration as well as registration
drives. We know that students and minority voters twice as likely minority
voters to register through voter registration drives. And so, this has
just been a concerted effort. And in early voting in the state of Florida,
where they cut the Sunday before the election, that hugely impacts
minorities` opportunities to vote in Florida. And so, all across the
country we have been pushing back in different ways, using all the tools at
our disposal. We`re going to continue to do that. With this report that
we released today, it`s an opportunity to educate voters, Americans all
over this country about exactly what is going on where they live, about
exactly who is behind it and about exactly what we`ve been doing on it and
what they need to do to protect their own right to vote.

SHARPTON: Heather, it is quite a report. I`ve been on this issue as
National Action Network, I believe in August, but the DNC report is quite a
report. One of the things that you have focused on is youth votes, and
we`ve seen an increase in the youth vote over the last several elections.
Let me show you this. In 2000, 41 percent of young people voting, 2004,
went up to 48, 2008, it went up to 52 percent. Heather, do you think
there`s some kind of correlation between the Republicans going after these
means that kind of, in my judgment suppress the youth vote with the fact
that youth began voting more and more every national election?

at young people as they start to participate, efforts are starting to be
put in place to stop them from voting. You know, these young people today
if they ever say to me, I don`t think my vote matters, I`m not sure we
have much power, we say to them, well, why do you believe that they are
trying to make it harder for you to vote then? They are trying to take
away this power we have as voters, as we start to flex our muscles as young
people in the political process. And, you know, Republicans, Democrats,
this is an American issue for us. We should be fostering this increased
participation that it`s starting to happen, as opposed to making it harder
for these students to vote.

SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you, in terms of the report, Will, you
talked about how the registration, early voting, Sunday voting, I know that
especially around our churches and many minority communities, Florida,
Bishop Victor Curry and -- to the poll and others, they made the difference
in representation on who are they going to vote for. And this report
identifies how all of these kinds of things, along with voter I.D. impacts
people`s real voting rights.

CROSSLEY: Absolutely. I mean, one of the things, if you look at
representation of African-American voters, in 2008 in the electorate, they
made up a total of about 11 percent of the total electoral, but African-
Americans made up 31 percent of voters who voted on the final Sunday before
the election. And then if we look at Latino voters, Latino voters made up
again about 11, 12 percent of the entire electorate in the state of
Florida, but they made up 21 percent of voters who voted on the final
Sunday. And so when you pass a law that very carefully cuts that final
Sunday out of the voting process, that`s not a question about how we vote.
That`s a question about who is voting. We talked about students just a
moment ago, and the work that Heather and Rock the Vote is doing. In the
state of Texas, if you have a student I.D, you can no longer use that
student I.D. in order to vote. However, however, you can use a gun license
in order to vote in the state of Texas. And so, again, it`s a question not
so much about how we vote, but a question of who is voting.

SHARPTON: Heather, what message are we sending to young Americans,
when you can use a gun license as I.D., but not a college student`s I.D. as
I.D. to vote? What are we saying to young people in this country?

SMITH: I know, it`s unreal. Whether that`s in Texas or Wisconsin,
where they finally said, fine, you can use your student I.D. to vote, but
it has to meet this whole set of criteria, which as it turns out not a
single student I.D. in the state actually meets. We are telling young
people that once you`re in power you get to choose who your electorate is.
And so, it is rock the vote and what we`re trying to do is to flip that on
its head and say, they can`t stop us, they can`t decide who gets to vote in
this democracy, but in fact we will stand up and we will vote on election
day and we`ll make sure that all those who don`t have the I.D. they need
right now, which is 18 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds are getting that
identification. We`ll make sure they have the information they need on
Election Day, we`ll make sure that we continue to increase in participation
and show up at the polls. We can`t let those in power once they`re in
power get to pick their electorate. It`s the electorate that should be
choosing those who represent us.

SHARPTON: Well, Heather, well, this is extremely important. We, next
week Friday in 25 cities are mobilizing around this and around jobs, but
every night next week we`re doing part of the show on voter I.D. and voter
suppression. Will Crossley, Heather Smith, thank you both for your time

CROSSLEY: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: We`ll be back in a moment.


SHARPTON: Republicans say the darndest things. Just last week,
Michele Bachmann said she should be republican nominee, and you won`t
believe her reason.


looking at the candidate that is the most conservative and the most
consistent candidate, I`ve been that candidate. I haven`t had a gaffe or
something that I`ve done that has caused me to fall in the polls.


SHARPTON: Don`t make gaffes? Are we watching the same shows?
Michele Bachmann has made bloopers on every topic from Paul Revere to Elvis
Presley. In fact, here`s her latest one.


SHARPTON: We wouldn`t have an American embassy in Iran. I wouldn`t
allow that to be there.


SHARPTON: What Michele forgot to mention is there hasn`t been an
American embassy in Iran since we cut tie with them in 1980. But even
without Michele, there would be plenty of GOP oops moments to relive.


HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you asked me who`s the
president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan, I`m going to say, you know, I
don`t know.

will be 21 by
November the 12th, I ask for your support and your vote. Those of you who
won`t be, just work hard.

ROMNEY: You can`t have any illegals working on our property. I`m
running for office for Pete`s sake.

CAIN: I do not agree with the way he handles it for the following
weeks, no, that`s a different one.

PERRY: It`s three agencies of government when I get there that are
gone -- commerce, education, and the what`s the third one there? Let`s
see, I can`t. The third one, I can`t. Sorry.

CAIN: I have all this stuff twirling around in my head.

PERRY: Oops.


SHARPTON: If making gaffes is the thing that disqualifies candidates
from being the nominee, the Republican Party is in serious trouble. But
don`t laugh. Don`t get carried away with just the late-night guys making
fun of them. The last time I laughed, it was at George Bush, and we have
three years out of him and still trying to recover.

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


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