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PoliticsNation, Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Read the transcript from the Wednesday show

Guests: Alex Wagner; Ed Rendell, Sheldon Whitehouse, Joe Madison, Alex Wagner, Jackie Speier

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Welcome to "Politics Nation. I`m
Al Sharpton.

Fresh off his win in Florida, Mitt Romney had this to say.


care about Americans. I`m not concerned about the very poor. We have a
safety net there. If it needs repair, I`ll fix it. I`m not concerned
about the very rich. They are doing just fine.


SHARPTON: Not concerned about the very poor. Folks, this bruising
primary battle, has done one thing, it`s exposed the GOP candidates and the
brutal way Romney and Gingrich are attacking each other is just making it
worse, whoever wins the Republican nomination.

In 2008, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama also had a long and grueling
battle. But it was about policy. Mostly it was not personal. This
Republican face-off is personal. And as the result, Willard`s losing even
as he moves toward the nomination.

Last night, 38 percent of Republican voters still wanted someone else
to run. And, get this, 38 percent of those who voted for Romney also
wanted someone else to get in.

Meanwhile, Romney`s negativity rating among independents has shot up
13 points since December. He`s shaping up to be one weak front-runner, and
his mistakes keep piling up. You`ll be hearing plenty of this heading into
Saturday`s caucus in Nevada where the housing crisis is a top issue.


ROMNEY: Don`t try and stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its
course and hit the bottom.


SHARPTON: Wonder if President Obama had that speech in mind when he
said this today.


to suggest that the only option for struggling, responsible homeowners is
to sit and wait for the housing market to hit bottom.


OBAMA: I refuse to accept that and so do the American people.


SHARPTON: With their flaws on full display, Willard and Newt should
be worried voters will refuse to accept either one of them come November.

Joining me now, former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, now an NBC
news political analyst and Alex Wagner, host of "Now with Alex Wagner" here
on MSNBC. Thank you both for coming in tonight.

Governor, let me start with you. Has this process strengthened Romney
or weakened him?

weakened him. And, reverend, you put your finger right on it. When
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama had a very bitter in some ways and very
long and drawn out battle, there was always about policy. It was always
about differences, always about electability. There was none of this
negative stuff.

This has been brutal already, and I believe Newt Gingrich, if he gets
the money to continue on, is going to bring this all the way to the
convention. He can`t be the nominee, but he can continue to just really
rip Mitt Romney. And it`s going to be very hard for Romney to recover.

You and I talked about the fact that there`s sort of a reset after the
conventions. But it`s going to be a reset but it`s going to be digging out
from such a deep hole that it`s going to be very difficult for them.

SHARPTON: Now, Alex, you know. He`s had a bumpy road. Willard here
and there got defeated in Iowa ultimately by a few votes after he thought
he won by a few. Then he was killed in South Carolina politically. He got
a great night last night. And I`m saying, OK. Willard looks like he`s
going to make it. And then I see him say this statement about poor people.
I`m looking at the TV saying, what is wrong with you? I mean, he manages
to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory.

day that Mitt Romney wants to be talking about his comments on poor people.
It`s weird because it wasn`t as if he was baited into saying that. He was
just saying that on television.

I think Mitt Romney has had a sort of benign, up until now, case of
foot and mouth disease. He said I like firing people. Today`s comments
about poor people are certainly more incendiary.

The issue, I think, is that the Romney camp has battled back saying
context is important, context is important. Well, really? Then maybe they
shouldn`t be running ads that take President Obama`s comments about
joblessness and the economy completely out of context.

SHARPTON: Well, let me first, and I agree with you. Let`s first say
his opponent Newt Gingrich jumped all over it. Watch what Newt Leroy had
to say about Willard`s comments on poor people.


politicians in either party dividing Americans against each other.
Founding fathers wrote we are endowed by our creator with certain
unalienable rights. Among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of

Let me shock the Wall Street groups. The founding fathers actually
meant what they call the one percent which I call Americans. Let me shock
governor Romney, the founding fathers meant the very poor who they called


SHARPTON: Now Mitt Romney, in fairness, said this to say that he was
being taken out of context.


ROMNEY: You`ve got to take the whole sentence, all right, as opposed
to saying and then change it just a little bit because then it sounds very
different. I have said throughout the campaign, my focus, my concern, my
energy is going to be devoted to helping middle income people.


SHARPTON: So he says it was taken out of context, he and in whole
sentence. But even in the whole sentence, he is saying that very poor
people have a safety net there.

WAGNER: Which coincidentally, the Republicans are trying to
dismantle. The other thing is he completely gives to the Democrats the
idea they are the ones fighting for the poor people. It was not a
politically astute comment to make.


WAGNER: I think also taken in total with everything Mitt Romney has
said about jobs and like, general sort of sympathy for the plight of the
working and the poor, it doesn`t add up to someone who has a particular
amount of empathy or like the contention that Mitt Romney is not connected
to his own humanity and the American people and their humanity. I think
it`s now called the --

SHARPTON: Well, governor, here`s a man that says the poor, let`s take
him at face value. So he misspoke. You take the whole sentence. The very
poor have a safety net that he`s endorsed the Ryan plan that will eliminate
it and he`s telling everyone we`ve got stop giving the poor entitlement
programs. So, I mean, what is he talking about?

RENDELL: Well, the trouble with Mitt Romney, in addition to what Alex
said, and she was right on, but the trouble is he`s a little tone deaf
about his expressions. Like when he said I enjoy firing people. What he
was really saying is he enjoyed firing a health insurance company that
didn`t provide good care for his employees. If he had said I enjoy firing
health insurance companies, every American would have stood up and cheered,
right? But he said I enjoy firing people.

And here if you listen to the whole sentence, he said I`m not worried
about the very poor. They have a safety net. And if it`s broke, I`ll fix
it. That was a positive statement. But, you`re right. The actions of his
party to say that he endorses the Ryan budget which rips asunder a lot of
that safety net as Alex pointed out, it`s just totally inconsistent.

They`ve got to get him focused as a candidate. It`s the same group
that didn`t answer the tax question right for the first ten weeks of the
campaign. And they knew it was coming and they never had an answer for it.
So I think he`s a flawed candidate, even if he wins the nomination.

SHARPTON: So you think, Alex, the governor is right, that he just is
tone deaf? I mean, I think he really connected with poor people and middle
class people when he had the $10,000 bet don`t you?

WAGNER: Well, look. I mean, shouldn`t he be worried about the very
poor. OR should he be concern at one and two Americans lives at or near
the poverty level. I mean, I think the idea there; you guys have social
and safety net programs so I`m not worried about you. Shouldn`t we be
concerned with pulling the very poor out of poverty? I mean, maybe that`s
just --

RENDELL: It`s opportunity, right. It`s opportunity.

SHARPTON: You are running for president of all the people.

WAGNER: Shouldn`t you care about everybody`s plight.

RENDELL: Right. What we should do for the very poor, Al, is not only
protect the safety net but give them the opportunity to grow so they don`t
need that safety net. That`s what poor people want. They don`t want a
safety net.

SHARPTON: What he implies in the whole sentence is he says that even
if there was a safety net there that they weren`t trying to remove, let
them rest in the safety net. Not let`s try to uplift them. Leave them

I mean, so even at his best, its offensive. But let me offend you
even further, governor and Alex. He said this on the day that we find out
all of these big money guys are supporting him. He raised, his super PAC,
second half of 2011, comes out today, raised about $18 million from 200
donors. So while you are saying you don`t care about the very poor, in
whatever context, all of your big super millionaires have given $18 million
to your campaign in the last six months.

WAGNER: Absolutely. I mean, you look at money and politics. It`s
not just Mitt Romney. Newt Gingrich has Sheldon Adelson, a casino magnate.
He`s under federal investigation giving him $10 million, effectively
floating his campaign as going around saying it`s about people power
trumping money power which is hugely ironic.

Now, I will say the Democrats have lots of money in their coffers.
But if you look at the president`s numbers in the fourth quarter, he had
500,000 donors. The average donation was $117, which is very different
than a few -- some have called them oligarchs financing Romney`s campaign.

SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you something, governor before I have to go
and you can put your comment and did you get any (inaudible) if this
answers well.

What does it say -- you are one of the most practiced, seasoned and
efficient politicians I know, that the vote in Florida last night was 15
percent lower than 2008 in terms of the Florida Republican primary, 280,000
fewer people went to the polls. What does that say?

RENDELL: Well, it shows that this idea that Republican voters are
fired up because they want to get rid of President Obama and they are going
to be a huge turnout of Republican voters. That just isn`t the case.
There`s no evidence to support that at all, absolutely no evidence.

But before we go, Al, I think we should fix the blame for these
million-dollar and multi-million dollar contributions where it belongs.
Not so much on Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich because they are playing by the
rules. But on the Supreme Court of the United States who should be
embarrassed about citizens united and that decision. They should be

SHARPTON: Well, I agree with you. Let`s hold it right there,
Governor Ed Rendell and Alex Wagner. Thank you both for coming on the show

Governor you know what my clock in my office does around noon every
day? It yells, now! Now! Now! Remember to catch "Now with Alex Wagner"
weekdays at noon eastern right here on MSNBC.

WAGNER: Thank you, rev.

SHARPTON: Coming up, President Obama wants millionaires to pay their
fair share. We`ll talk with the democratic senator who is fighting to turn
the Buffett rule into reality.

Plus, more from my debate on race and politics with the Newt Gingrich
supporter played out live on national TV.


abort their babies. So I -- that`s their position. I`m not going to
defend that.

SHARPTON: Why would we vote for people that call our parents
criminals that says you can`t even admit you were wrong on the facts on
food stamps.


SHARPTON: What their rhetoric says about today`s GOP. And the tragic
death of soul train legend, Don Cornelius. I`ve known him since I appeared
on his show as a teenager. My thoughts on his life and his legacy.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.


SHARPTON: Should billionaires pay less in taxes than their secretaries?
Most Americans don`t think so. And so does our next guest. He`s trying to
do something about it. That`s next.



OBAMA: Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his
secretary. Do we want to keep these tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans?


SHARPTON: President Obama in his state of the union calling for
fairness in the tax code and making one simple point. A billionaire
shouldn`t pay less in taxes than his secretary. Warren Buffett says he
pays 17.4 percent in taxes while his secretary pays more than double that.
It`s not fair. It`s not right. But it`s how the system is rigged right

But how Mitt Romney was able to pay less than 14 percent in taxes in
2010 even though he made $21 million that year? But today, democratic
senator Sheldon Whitehouse introduced a bill to make the so-called Buffett
rule a new law.


SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D), RHODE ISLAND: So we`ll bring fairness as
well as common sense to our tax system. It really makes no sense for
somebody earning $80,000 or $100,000 or $120,000 a year to be paying a
substantially higher tax rate than somebody earning $250 million a year.


SHARPTON: Joining me now is Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat from
Rhode Island. Senator, first of all, thank you for your time tonight.

WHITEHOUSE: Thank you, reverend. Good to be with you.

SHARPTON: Good to have you. Now most Americans support your bill.
The president wants it. So will it become a new law right away?

WHITEHOUSE: I don`t think it will become a new law right away. I
think there`s pretty strong opposition on the other side of the aisle. But
it`s the kind of thing that if the American public expressed their view,
that it can begin to change the opinion here in Washington. And one way
the American people can express their view is to go to
Buffett rule bill with two f`s and two t`s, and sign up. Let people know.
We`re keeping count and we want the American people to be heard in this.
It`s not just about Washington insiders.


WHITEHOUSE:, yes sir.

SHARPTON:, two f`s and two t`s. Now what common
sense argument can the opposition make against this bill? Let me show you
why I raised this.

If you look at the highlights of your paying a fair share act that you
introduce, it requires a tax rate of at least 30 percent for millionaires.
It affects 94,500 taxpayers. But it creates $50 billion a year in revenue.
They claim that they want to bring down the deficit. They claim they want
to stop this spiraling down in terms of the American economy. Here`s a way
where billionaires and millionaires will pay the same percentage their
employees do that will bring about $50 billion a year. And you are telling
me they oppose this?

WHITEHOUSE: It`s a little hard to justify, but the status quo always
has its defenders. But if you go back and look at the boom years of the
Clinton presidency, the high end income earners were paying 39 percent-

In theory, high end taxpayers are now paying 35 percent. And many do.
There are lot of hard working, high-earning, really great folks out there
who are doing well and who are paying the full 35 percent.


WHITEHOUSE: But there`s a group that`s been able to take advantage of
a loophole so that they only pay 15 percent or in some cases, less. If you
take a look at the Helmsley building in New York City on Park Avenue, it`s
so big that it reports all of its info together in one zip code to the IRS.
And they`ve broken out the information. And the people who live in that
building pay about 14.7 percent all in federal taxes, according to the IRS.
And the people who work in that building, according to the department of
labor, the janitors, the doorman, the security folks, they are paying about
24 percent.

So the folks working there doing the cleaning are paying much higher
federal income tax rates than the people actually in the building. And
it`s not just the Helmsley building. It`s the top 400 income earners in
the country also reported by the IRS as a group also paying the same below
average rates. So we need to fix it. It`s simple fairness. It`s common

SHARPTON: Now one of the things, if we were having a public court
hearing, we even could say against the charge that they are rising against
you and the president and those of White House advocating class warfare.
We could call some of the billionaires themselves who are saying that it`s
not fair.

Let me show you this. I would call to the stand Warren Buffett, and I
would also call out as a witness Mr. Bill Gates. Let me let you hear part
of what they want to testify to, senator.


side has had the nuclear bomb. I mean, we`ve got K Street and lobbyists.
We`ve got money on our side in terms of contributions.

BILL GATES, CO-FOUNDER, MICROSOFT: The United States has a huge
budget deficit. Taxes are going to have to go up. And I certainly agree
they should go up on the rich than anyone else. That`s just justice.
Right now, you know, I don`t feel like people like myself are paying as
much as we should.


SHARPTON: You were a prosecutor, senator? Did I come up with the
right witnesses?

WHITEHOUSE: You came up with good witnesses, reverend. It really
makes no sense to claim that it`s class warfare when all you are trying to
do is bring up the rates of a group of people, many of whom are earning as
much as a quarter of a billion dollars a year to the same rates that their
drivers, their secretaries, the guy who comes in and fixes the plumbing on
their sink are all already paying. That`s just bringing it even and doing
what the tax code is intended to do. It`s the opposite of class warfare.
It`s just simple fairness.

SHARPTON: Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, let me say this. This class
warfare charge is really bogus. It`s not about the rich against the poor.
The only class warfare is those with class and those with no class that
don`t think that the rich ought to be paying their share.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, thank you for your time tonight.

WHITEHOUSE: Thanks, reverend.

SHARPTON: Ahead, new GOP union bastion. The Republican flavor of the
month Mitch Daniels is trying to cripple unions in Indiana. But the people
are taking to the streets to protest.

And Chris Christie speaks out again on his controversial comments
about the civil rights movement. This one might surprise you. We`ll be
right back.


SHARPTON: Working people in Indiana took to the streets today to
protest a union-busting law signed by Governor Mitch Daniels.
Demonstrators marched from the statehouse to the site of this Sunday`s
super bowl, driving home the point that the NFL players association has
come out against the law as well. The people of Indiana are fighting back
against Governor Daniels` attack on workers. But the GOP`s golden boy
doesn`t get it.

I guess we shouldn`t be surprised. Republicans love Daniels so much.
They tapped him to give the rebuttal to President Obama`s state of the
union. He served as George Bush`s budget director turning a billion dollar
surplus into a deficit. He grossly underestimated the cost of the Iraq
war. He helped put together the Bush tax cuts.

To say Daniels is out of touch is an understatement. His union-
busting law will reduce wages by $1500 a year, and it will make it harder
for workers to get health care and pensions.

But Indian`s fought this fight before. The state passed a right to
work law in 1957 only to repeal it seven years later. The working people
of Indiana want to overturn this law again. We`re paying attention to what
the people want.

Governor Daniels, why aren`t you?


SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. We`ve been following the
ugly talk that`s been a regular part of this republican presidential race
this year led by Newt Gingrich. Last night, Rachel Maddow began
questioning Rick Tyler, the head of Gingrich`s Super PAC on some of Newt`s
language. Then it was my turn. And no matter how many times I pressed it,
Tyler refused to answer one simple request. If the Republican Party is
fighting for the black community, prove it.


African-Americans vote democrat, OK? And what have they gotten for it?
They`ve gotten poor schools, poor neighborhoods, crime-ridden
neighborhoods, a destruction of the family and the Democrats want to abort
their babies. So, you know, I -- that`s their position. I`m not going to
defend that. That`s not the republican position. That`s the democrat


SHARPTON: Black people vote democrat because the civil rights act,
voting rights act and many of their members of Congress -- when you ask a
question, you`ll get an answer.


TYLER: Which more Republicans as a percentage voted for them

SHARPTON: Republicans were the Abe Lincoln Party and was the party of
little rock. We voted republican like anybody else in America, sir.

TYLER: Right. Right.

SHARPTON: We vote our interests. Republican or not. Why would we
vote for people that call our parents criminals, that says that you can`t
even admit you were wrong on the fact on food stamps. We`re not sadists or

TYLER: We just showed this movie "Red Tails" across the state in
Jacksonville. And you know who showed up? Military families. You know,
what color they were? They were African-American. You know who they
brought? Their kids. You know, why? Because finally Hollywood made a
movie that had patriotic African-Americans who were part of American
history that they could say, these are my role models. You know why they
showed up because they don`t have any. That`s why, Al.

SHARPTON: No, they showed. No, they have many. They have doctors,
they`re lawyers. We have many role models.

TYLER: Sure they do. Your policies fail and our policies work.

SHARPTON: What is this policy? I mean, reprimanding them saying that
they don`t have role models in their community is a policy? Saying the
only things they see is crime is a policy?

TYLER: Let me tell you a story.

SHARPTON: Saying that they give more food stamps when they don`t is
a policy? What is this policy?

TYLER: Why not just try freedom and free enterprise? That everybody
in America -- we have a common culture.

SHARPTON: You have the White House eight years under Reagan. You had
another four under Bush Sr. and eight more under Bush Jr. So you didn`t
have an opportunity to have a program?

TYLER: And people prospered in those years, if you remember, Al.
People prospered in those years including -- people prospered...

SHARPTON: African-Americans disproportionately suffered under every
one of them. African-Americans were doubly unemployed under every one of
them. Show us the program that you had that you claim worked.


SHARPTON: I`m still waiting on that answer and that plan.

Joining me now is Joe Madison, host of "Mornings with Madison" on
Sirius XM radio. And back with us, Alex Wagner, host of "Now with Alex
Wagner." Thanks for being here tonight.


SHARPTON: Joe, it amazes me that the Republicans engage in this. Let
us underline that Newt Gingrich was the first one to bring up race. You
didn`t. I didn`t. Nobody. He started by saying what he wanted to tell
black people at the NAACP, and they used to infer things. They just say
outright by name now. And then when you challenge them, they can`t even go
back the last century. They have to go the century before last year and
get Abe Lincoln. He couldn`t think of a 20th century republican to tell me
that had been on the side of the African-American community. I mean, do
people get this?

MADISON: No, and that`s why they can get away with it because most
people don`t get the modern history. As you were talking and going through
the gyrations with him, I kept thinking, you know, you really don`t need
this guy to validate what you were saying. For example, we know it`s not
the same Republican Party that participated in the 1964 civil rights
movement because there was something called the southern strategy.
Remember that. Remember Strom Thurmond and all the Dixiecrats were very
much opposed to the civil rights movement, the civil rights bill. And
where did they find comfort? In the Republican Party. And we know what
Johnson said. We may have done the right thing in passing the `65 voting
rights act, but we`ll lose the South because it`s going to go republican.
But he didn`t bring that up as far as the history.

SHARPTON: No, the Dixiecrats left the Democratic Party. There were
racists in the Democratic Party.

MADISON: That`s right.

SHARPTON: But they went and found refuge in the Republican Party.
But then let me ask you this, Alex. This whole food stamp thing that they
are using -- well, let me show you the exchange Tyler and I had on the food
stamp question. Because I want to raise something with you.


TYLER: More people are on food stamps today because of Barack Obama.
SHARPTON: It is a patent untruth that President Obama has more people
on food stamp. More people went on food stamps, new food stamps recipients
under George Bush than under President Obama. Would you call him a food
stamp president?

TYLER: Well, we`re not running towards Bush. We`re running it
against Barack Obama and his failed policy.

SHARPTON: Answer the fact. If more people went on food stamps under
George Bush as you just said, than Obama had more. That is factually


SHARPTON: So, he says that more people was under President Obama.
That`s why they called him that. When I raised that President Bush
actually brought more new food stamp recipients than Obama. The excuse is
not that well, I just said something inaccurate. We`re not running against
him. So, you fix the facts, who you running against? But let me show the
people that are watching before you respond. Who gets food stamps in
America? Thirty six percent of them are white. Twenty two percent
African-American. But let`s go to the numbers between Bush and President
Obama. Under George Bush, there were an additional 14.7 million new food
stamp recipients. Under President Obama, there`s 500,000 less, 14.2. So,
clearly not only are they trying to make this inference, like blacks are
synonymous with food stamps when it`s not true and this president is
synonymous. It`s not even true. George Bush brought far more people on as
new food stamp recipients than President Obama has.

ALEX WAGNER, HOST, "NOW WITH ALEX WAGNER": Reverend, you are tied to
facts. And what are facts really when you are a republican. This is a
party that has also said taxes have gone up under President Obama which is
patently false. It`s an effort to paint Obama with the same sort of
vitriolic brush -- this is a party that says -- that has given quarter to
conspiracy theories that the president was not born here. That he is
Muslim. That he is not one of us. These are theories that have been
floated in republican audiences as recently as last week and the republican
field has remained mum. You have Rick Tyler talking to you, Al Sharpton,
about the lack of black role models. Look at who is running for the office
of the president on the republican side. It`s all white males at this
point. And look who is the first black commander in chief. He`s a
democrat. The contention that somehow the Republican Party has been
sensitive and reached out to the African-American community and has its ear
to the ground as far as what the African-American community needs, is
patently false.

MADISON: It is absolutely.

SHARPTON: Now, Joe. You knew good black Republicans in your time. I
remember when I was young, there was Arthur Fletcher, James Farmer. These
are no longer the kinds of people that are even welcomed in the party. I
can`t think of any of the Republicans that have come out and even embraced
a lot of the black Republicans that have tried to be progressive.

MADISON: Moderate white Republicans aren`t welcome in the Republican
Party. You are absolutely 100 percent right. And they just say anything.
Like for example, Jan Brewer. Last time we talked about the finger
pointing thing. Do you know she told an Arizona reporter that after she
was criticized, someone said she was Nazi-like because of her immigration
policy, that her father -- she was insulted because her father died
fighting in World War II and we found out that he died ten years after
World War II in 1955 of cancer. Look.


MADISON: Anybody who would lie about how their father died in order
to make a political point, they will lie to you, they will lie to me. Role
models, are you kidding me? I wake up every morning at 4:00 in the
morning. And when I step out of my place, who do I see on the busses? Who
do I see what`s going to work? It`s the working poor that Mitt Romney said
today he didn`t care about. And he better be careful because I seem to
remember a sermon where the rich man went to hell and the poor man went to
heaven, not because he was rich. I`m not trying to step on your job there,

SHARPTON: No, go ahead.

MADISON: Not because he was rich, but because he was more concerned
about how he looked, about him than he was about the poor man. So, Mitt
Romney --

SHARPTON: But you are acting like an evangelical now quoting the
bible. But let me ask you something.


I need to go but I need to ask you this. Because the thing that I did
not get to challenge last night, this notion that the Democrats want to
abort black babies. Did I miss something here? I thought women`s right to
choose was for everybody and I thought that this was not a racial decision.
To accuse the Democrats of wanting to conspire against black babies, why
aren`t the Democrats out there today screaming. That was the most
outrageous thing he said last night.

WAGNER: To conflate a woman`s reproductive rights with a fear-
mongering race-baiting theory of racial eugenics is so widely
irresponsible. And one can only hope that those listening to the program,
African-Americans, women, Americans in general look at that and scoff.

MADISON: And we know the code. We know the code.

SHARPTON: Alex and Joe Madison, thank you both for joining us.

MADISON: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Now, I want to give an update on the story we told you
about earlier this week. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made national
news when he said this at a hearing on same-sex marriage last week.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: The fact of the matter is, that
I think people would have been happy to have a referendum, you know, on
civil rights rather than fighting and dying in the streets in the south.


SHARPTON: Earlier in this week, he backtracked on those comments
saying he meant civil rights activists wanted another option but the
political climate wouldn`t allow it. But I wasn`t buying it. And last
night, he apologized.


CHRISTIE: Obviously, when I was talking last week at the town hall
meeting about the civil rights movement in the south, I wasn`t clear
enough. I just wasn`t. The fact that I wasn`t clear about the analogy I
was trying to make and left it ambiguous and it allowed people to
misinterpret it. Anybody who was offended by what I said if you are
listening out there tonight, I apologize for that.


SHARPTON: Ahead, the GOP`s war on women took an appalling turn today.
That`s next.


SHARPTON: The nation`s first lady sat down with Jay Leno and
explained how she`s getting ready for the election.


MICHELLE OBAMA, U.S. FIRST LADY: Our motto is, you know, we try to do
the best job that we can do every single day. And the hope is that that
will speak for itself.


SHARPTON: It`s going to be tough for Republicans to top that. But
even if they try, there`s one thing they can`t prepare for.


MICHELLE OBAMA: He does have a beautiful voice, and he sings to me
all the time.


MICHELLE OBAMA: Yes. When people said he sang, I said, I bet he sang
Al Green, and that -- I, he does that all the time.

LENO: Did you hear Mitt Romney sing? What did you think?

MICHELLE OBAMA: I saw it in the Greenroom. It`s beautiful.

LENO: Beautiful?


SHARPTON: Republicans have a tough road ahead. Now they have to
contend with the first lady`s charm. Good luck.


SHARPTON: Welcome back. The GOP`s ugly war on women took an
appalling turn today. In a shocking decision, the leading breast cancer
charity group, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure will stop funding Planned
Parenthood for breast cancer exams and other breast health services.
Charity refuses to fund any organization under government investigation.
Who is investigating Planned Parenthood? Florida republican Congressman
Cliff Stearns. He says, he wants to find out if Planned Parenthood uses
public money to fund abortions for that purpose. Komen pulled its funds.
You are now seeing exactly how dangerous the GOP war on women is.

Politics is now putting people`s lives at risk. In the last year,
we`ve seen an unprecedented attack on women`s reproductive rights and
reproductive health. Republican controlled House passed laws to allow
hospitals to turn away women seeking abortions even in life-threatening
situations. Passed laws to redefine rape to limit abortion funding. And
passed laws to block federal funding to Planned Parenthood. That battle
over Planned Parenthood funding inspired one of the most passionate and
emotional moments when Congresswoman Jackie Speier took to the floor.


REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: That procedure that you just talk
about was a procedure that I endured. I lost a baby. But for you to stand
on this floor and to suggest, as you have, that somehow this is a procedure
that is either welcomed or done cavalierly or done without any thought is
preposterous. There is a vendetta against Planned Parenthood, and it was
played out in this room tonight.


SHARPTON: Joining me now is Congresswoman Jackie Speier, democrat
from California who is a tireless crusader for women`s health.
Congresswoman, thank you for your time tonight.

SPEIER: My pleasure, Reverend.

SHARPTON: What do you make of this decision by Komen to defund
Planned Parenthood?

SPEIER: Well, it`s shocking, I think, for all of us who have been
great supporters of the Susan G. Komen race for the cure. I`ve walked in
the races. I`ve run in the races. I`ve emceed their events. And for them
now to politicize breast cancer is absolutely jarring. And I think that
women across this country are rising up and they have seen a huge blowback
today. And organizations like Planned Parenthood have received enormous
support as a result. But the fact is that they are a non-profit. If they
want to be a political organization, then they should change their
identification and become a 501c4. They have given to Planned Parenthood
over the last five years enough money for 170,000 women to get breast
exams. Of the four million breast exams that Planned Parenthood does over
the course of that time. Where are those women going to turn to now?
These are poor women. These are women without health insurance. These are
college women. Planned Parenthood provides health care to women in this

SHARPTON: Now Congresswoman, Susan G. Komen for the Cure released a
statement this afternoon saying that they are dismayed, extremely
disappointed, that actions have been taken to strengthen our granting
process have been widely mischaracterized. Komen has implemented more
stringent eligibility standards to safeguard donor dollars. And on to say,
how they regret that these new policies have impacted some longstanding
grantees such as Planned Parenthood, but want to be absolutely clear that
our grant-making decisions are not about politics. But it`s about, if
anyone is under federal review and the only federal review is a congressman
who is calling on Planned Parenthood to be reviewed for basic political

SPEIER: And that request was made back in September when Mr. Stearns
sent a list of interrogatories to Planned Parenthood to respond to within a
short period of time. He`s been sitting on that. If there was any
legitimacy to an investigation, he should have held a hearing already. And
where Susan G. Komen is going is really a very slippery slope because, for
instance, NIH is called to the Congress often to explain certain things.
There are investigations done. Well, Komen gives $1 million to the NIH.
Are they going to cut back that funding? Are they going to cut back -- are
they not going to accept funding from pharmaceutical companies when we call
a pharmaceutical company to the House floor or to a committee hearing to
talk about tainted medicine? So there`s nowhere for them to go here.
Planned Parenthood is audited like no other federal grantee in the entire
country. They are.

SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you this, Congresswoman, and we invited by
the way Komen to come on tonight, a representative, and they respond. But
let me ask this. On a broader pitch, there`s been this real war on women
by the right wing. Is this but another example and another casualty of
this war on women and war on women`s right to choose and decide what to do
with their lives and their bodies?

SPEIER: I hate using the term war on women because, you know, women
are strong. We`re capable. We`re able to take care of ourselves. But
we`re not going to allow for the diminution of rights and benefits to women
and poor women and young women and women without health insurance who are
unemployed should not become the target of this kind of action.

SHARPTON: Now, people ought to know Planned Parenthood, what it
actually does, 97 percent of its services includes cancer screenings, birth
control, STD treatments, sexual health education, et cetera. It`s not just
about the abortion question. And I think that to have their funding at
risk on a -- what appears to be a political announcement more than a real
investigation and certainly an investigation doesn`t mean that something is
being done wrongly. I think it`s really shameless when you look at the
services that are being interfered with here.

SPEIER: Well, and it`s important to point out that normally in this
country, we are presumed innocent until proven guilty. If there was an
investigation by the U.S. attorney, by the local district attorney, maybe
then you could say, well, maybe we should pause here. But none of that is
going on. This is, you know, the political sandbox of Congress and you
have one congressman who is pursued by anti-choice people to pursue this
investigation. Now if there is an investigation, let`s bring that hearing
forward because he`s had that information since last September.

SHARPTON: Congresswoman, thank you for your time this evening.

SPEIER: My pleasure.

SHARPTON: Ahead -- saying good-bye to a legend. Soul train creator
Don Cornelius. A legacy that will last forever.


SHARPTON: Today, we lost a legend. Soul Train creator producer and
one of the coolest hippest hosts on TV Don Cornelius passed today. Don
Cornelius was 75 years old. The televised dance party known at "Soul
Train" went on the air in Chicago in 1970. And the party lasted for 35
years. When it started, there weren`t many black people on TV. But Don
changed that in a major way. The show launched the careers of a generation
of amazing black performers. Just watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Everybody watched "Soul Train."

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Soul Train, the hippest trip in America. I`ve got

DON CORNELIUS, SOUL TRAIN CREATOR: It was overnight hot. Almost in
minutes, every black person in town knew about it. Not because it was such
a wonderful show, but because it was theirs.

The very gifted and talented Gladys Knight.


CORNELIUS: Right now we`d like to do the Soul Train line.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: You never did know what those kids were going to
do when they came down that line. You just knew the next one should be
better than the last one.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It`s inspired, you know, generations of performers.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Don`s legacy is the tapestry of mediums and
platforms by which we can see.

CORNELIUS: I`m Don Cornelius. And as always, in parting, I wish you
love, peace and -- soul!


SHARPTON: I was on "Soul Train" in 1974 to honor my surrogate father
and mentor James Brown when I was 19 years old.


SHARPTON: I know in the recording industry that they give a gold
record to those that achieve a million seller. But we view your million
seller payback as a black record because it is relevant and says many of
the things that young blacks have tried to see.


SHARPTON: Don Cornelius gave me an opportunity like he gave so many
others. I talked to his son Tony today to say his father was a father to
all of us. Whatever the circumstance, however it ended, wherever you are,
Don, I wish you love. Peace and soul.

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


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