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PoliticsNation, Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Read the transcript from the Tuesday show

Guests: Bob Franken; Dana Milbank; Frank Schaeffer; Emmanuel Cleaver, Joan Walsh, Kaye Kory, Mark McKinnon

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

Tonight`s lead, Rick Santorum started something ugly when he
questioned the president`s religious beliefs and sadly, it`s just getting
uglier. This comment started it all.


president`s agenda -- it`s not about you, it`s about some phony ideal, some
phony theology.


SHARPTON: A phony theology? That`s appalling. But now, others are
questioning the president`s faith, including Franklin Graham, the son of
preacher Billy Graham. Why is that significant? Well because Billy Graham
is a major evangelical leader in this country. He has met with every U.S.
president since Harry Truman.

In 2010, he even met with and prayed with president Obama, yet today,
Graham`s son refused to call the president a Christian.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Do you by live that president Obama is a

to ask president Obama. He has said he is a Christian, so I just have to
assume that he is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: You stated in the past the president is a
Christian as much as he goes to church on Sunday but you don`t know if he
has accepted Jesus Christ. Do you still believe that?

GRAHAM: I mean, I don`t know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: So, therefore, by your definition, he is
not a Christian?

GRAHAM: Again, you have to ask him. I cannot answer that question
for anybody.

Franklin graham is not going to answer that question for anybody? Anybody.
Well, except for Rick Santorum.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Do you believe that Rick Santorum is

GRAHAM: I think so. I believe that he is. I think he is -- I think
he is no question. I believe is man of faith.


SHARPTON: So, Rick Santorum is a man of faith, but president Obama?
Well, we will have to take him at his word. I wonder how he feels about
Newt Gingrich.


GRAHAM: And I think -- I think Newt is a Christian.


SHARPTON: Newt`s a Christian, too, but president Obama? Well, Graham
has some questions about him.


GRAHAM: President Obama, the Muslims of the world, he seems to be
more concerned about them than the Christians that are being murdered in
the Muslim countries.


SHARPTON: The president more concerned about Muslims than Christians.
Questioning the president`s beliefs is divisive and sadly, Rick Santorum
keeps doing it, too.


SANTORUM: Went to reverend Wright`s church for 20 years. Now, you
can question what kind of theology reverend Wright has, but it`s a
Christian church. He says he is a Christian. He goes a Christian church
now. The prayer of accusation (inaudible). Look, I`m not going to
question the president -- what the president believes in.


SHARPTON: You say you`re not going to question what the president
believes in, so why do you keep questioning what the president believes in?
It`s about as ugly as politics gets.

Joining me now is Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver, democrat from Missouri
and chairman of the congressional black caucus and Frank Schaeffer, a best-
selling author who grew up in the evangelical movement but has since left
it. His latest book is "Sex, Mom and God."

Thank you both for coming on the show tonight.

REP. EMMANUEL CLEAVER (D), MISSOURI: Good to be with you.

SHARPTON: Congressman, let me start with you, you are a minister. Is
this a new low for people to question the president`s faith?

CLEAVER: You know, we are moving into one of the saddest eras during
my adult life because the only answer to a question that is raised about
somebody`s faith is section III, article -- section VI, article III of the
constitution, which will have no religious test.

We shouldn`t be asking about the president`s faith or frankly about
the faith of Mitt Romney, but it is -- it is so sick now that we are in
many ways trying to turn this presidential race into a bat of hypocrisy who
is the better person of faith? And most of us try to practice our faith
without presumption. In other words, we have enough trouble trying to
bring ourselves closer to God. We don`t have to go around with some kind
of divine search light looking at the theology of others.

And so, I am really saddened by reverend Franklin and all these
candidates who are trying now to theologies something that should simply be

SHARPTON: No you know, I think, Frank, when I listened to this when I
was a kid, just going to first, second grade. I heard the debate around
Catholicism with John Kennedy. I thought we were past all of this in terms
of judging people`s faith, judging people`s practice.

These people have brought out some very ugly, draconian kind of
dialogue. When you look today, even Mitt Romney attacked the president for
promoting, quote "a secular agenda" that fights against religion. Listen.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This religious freedom which
we enjoy in America, a unique privilege, and you expect the president of
the United States to be sensitive to that freedom and to protect it. And
unfortunately, perhaps because of the people the president hangs around
with and their agenda, a secular agenda, they have fought against religion.


SHARPTON: Frank, a secular agenda? Because I may practice my faith
and believe in things differently than you, all of a sudden, I`m not

FRANK SCHAEFFER, AUTHOR, SEX, MOM, & GOD: Well, you know, the period
of history we are in is not happening by accident, reverend Sharpton, and I
think we all know that. This is a well-orchestrated campaign by the
religious right that has infiltrated the Republican Party.

People like Charles Colson, people like Robert George from Princeton
have got together and they put together couple of years ago something
called the Manhattan declaration saying that if the president does anything
we don`t agree with, stem cell research, abortion, whatever it is, we don`t
have to obey what he is saying. And then they pulled the Roman Catholic
Bishops in, 150 evangelicals signed on. This is a well-laid trap. This
whole religious freedom cry, that is going on up now didn`t suddenly
happen. They have been on a fishing expedition trying to label this
president first as a Muslim, then as a communist, then as a Christian, then
a non-secularist. And now, all of a sudden, he is anti-religious because
he is telling people that have insurance policies in this country that they
have got to give women contraceptives.

So, let`s be clear, this is not just a few isolated voices. The fact
that all the Republican candidates are saying the same thing, the fact that
the roman catholic bishops have thrown their hat into the ring on this, the
fact that the religious right leaders have been doing things like Charles
Colson did when he wrote for the "Wall Street Journal" last week saying
this president is against religious freedom, this is a well-orchestrated,
far-right, religious right attack.

And so, that`s where it is coming from. It`s dirty politics
masquerading as concern for religion. They do not care about with what
religion. What they care about is defeating our first African-American
president. They have tried everything else and now they are going to see
if this sticks.

Well, good luck to them because there are a lot of evangelical
Christians for instance, who I know personally, I`m going to a conference
this summer called the wild goose festival all they be speaking at in June
that has gathered expressly to give another opinion, saying, look,
Christians can reach out to people of other faiths.

SHARPTON: That`s right.

SCHAEFFER: The same thing -- the same thing with a speaking tour I`m
on right now called theocracy or democracy. That`s tight that will I`m
going to be out there speaking about.

SHARPTON: Well, let me go back for chairman Cleaver a minute because
I want to ask you what you think about that, chairman Cleaver, as well as
the fact that we have seen the church become used by a lot of forces in the
past. People forget the famous historic letter from a Birmingham jail,
Martin Luther King wrote.

He wrote to clergymen who were saying to calm down and let segregation
take a slow process to its own eradication some this is not new that people
tried hide behind so-called religion to hide some very reactionary

CLEAVER: Well, what we are seeing right now is the hijacking of faith
by individuals who probably, I would imagine are good and decent people but
look, when you bring theological arrogance into the political arena, it
means that you are now willing and able to declare anybody who believes
differently as unworthy. And if they are unworthy, then you can label them
just about anything and Mr. Santorum is saying the president was, you know,
not a worthy person. And then he talked about his theology and then later
said it had something to do with his environmental policy, which nobody in
this country is going to believe.

But even if you consider that he misspoke, he has repeatedly gone to
the issue of faith. Look, we don`t need to hear about somebody`s faith.
We want to hear about their economic policies.


CLEAVER: We want to know what they are going to do to bring down
unemployment. And this is a travesty. I hope the American people become
angry at this. Section six of the constitution says we should have no
religious test.

SHARPTON: Now, let me go back to you, Frank, with one thing that`s --
that I really -- you coming out of the evangelical movement can help me
with this. Rick Santorum in 2008 said that, and I`m quoting, I`m going to
let you hear him. He said "Satan has his sights set on the United States
of America." listen.


SANTORUM: If you were Satan, who would you attack in this day and
age? There is no one else to go after, other than the United States. And
that`s been the case for now almost 200 years. The place where he was, in
my mind, the most successful and first successful was in academia. He
understood pride of smart people. We saw this domino effect. And of
course, we look at the shape of mainline Protestantism in this country and
it is in shambles it is gone, from the world of Christianity as see it.


SHARPTON: Mainline property Protestantism gone from the mainline of
Christianity. Academia Satan has attacked. I mean this is very extreme.
Is he playing politics or is this really who Rick Santorum is?

SCHAEFFER: This is really who he is and he is reflecting a trend that
goes back to some work that my father did that I talk about as a reason why
I left the evangelical movement in mid`80s that set out to first demonize
the United States government as an agent of evil because it allowed
abortion, gay rights and before that, it allowed integration, all these
white public school kids being pulled out of schools that were integrate,
all the Christian schools starting to serve a racist population and on and
on it goes. This is the latest manifestation.

These people believe this philosophically. And what they essentially
believe is that somehow, America is a city set on a hill, turns out it is a
city set on a hill that favors white people, not immigration, not people of
color, not gay people t is a very small city. And they have this sense of
American exceptionalism. We are special, we rule the roost.

And so, they see themselves as somehow toe-to-toe with the devil in a
fight for the heart and soul of this country. And as I said, this has
nothing to do with religion now, although Rick Santorum believes this he is
spouting you the evangelical religious right line that was cooked up by
people like Dr. Dobson, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and others. I was
involved in this movement, as I talk about in my book "Sex, Mom and God."

And as I said earlier, some of us have got out of it. So, these folks
who are asking me to come speak on this theocracy or democracy tour are
asking me to come set the record straight. There are a lot of
evangelicals. I just want to say, you can`t paint with too broad a brush
here. There are a lot of evangelicals who are progressive, who are
moderate, who are in the middle, the kind of people organizing the wild
goose festival.

I`m not a pessimist. I think Rick Santorum and the Republicans have
burnt off more than they can chew and they have lied about president Obama
through the tea party. He is not born in America, he is a communist, blah,
blah, blah, now like about him being anti-religious because he wants women
could have contraceptive cover with insurance.

SHARPTON: Ton lie, Frank. Let me go quickly back to you, chairman,
show you this very quickly, the response. Newt Gingrich even said the
president is dangerous to our national security. Now, I thought the
president was the one that went and got bin Laden and other things. Listen
to Mr. Gingrich.


deeply concerned about national security. Barack Obama is the most
dangerous president in history. The president wants to unliterary weaken
the United States. Defeating Barack Obama becomes in fact a duty of
national security because the fact is he is incapable of defending the
United States.


SHARPTON: Is that just demagoguery or is that delusional? I mean
what are we looking at here?

SCHAEFFER: Delusional.

CLEAVER: "Saturday night live," that`s skit out of "Saturday night
live." Look, it is so sick that we have come to this place. You run a
campaign on either two things. One, hope, or the other fear, and they have
chosen to run a campaign or fear. Painting president Obama as some kind of
other, something that we are not, the rest of the country is not.

And the one thing, reverend, that you know well, and I hope the
American public will do this those who are in the Judeo-Christian
tradition, in the gospel according to Matthew, 6th chapter, Jesus warns us
about this he says, when you pray, do not do as the Pharisees who stand in
public to pray so they can receive the attention of men. When you pray, go
to the upper room go to your closet. In other words --

SHARPTON: But Chairman Cleaver, you are doing something wrong. You
are quoting the bible that you understand, not just use.

CLEAVER: There I go again.

SHARPTON: Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver, Frank Schaeffer, thank you
both pore your time coming on the show tonight.

Frank, I`m with you, the Christian right needs to meet the right

Coming up, president Obama talks jobs as the economy hits a major
milestone. The recovery is in full swing, just as long as Congress doesn`t
muck it up.


OBAMA: Our recovery is gaining steam. Our economy is getting
stronger. Now my message to Congress is don`t stop here. Keep going.


SHARPTON: And Mitt Romney`s running low on cash. And Republicans are
starting to talk about other options. Could a Bush go back on the GOP

Plus, women rallied to protect their rights. New signs Republicans
could be backing down.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.


SHARPTON: A milestone day for the economy and another day president
Obama`s out fighting for the middle class. His message to congress, keep
going. That`s next.


SHARPTON: Welcome back to "Politics Nation." Today, we saw a major
mile step for the economic recovery of the country. The Dow Jones hit the
13,000-mark for the first time since May of 2008, the start of the
financial crisis.

For the first time in nearly four years, stocks are trading around
where they were before the Bush recession. In fact, since president Obama
was sworn into office, the Dow has gone up by more than 5,000 points.
That`s 63 percent. And jobs are rising, too. We have seen job growth for
23 straight months, 3.7 million jobs were created.

The president talked about the recovery today at the White House.


OBAMA: Our recovery is gaining steam. Our economy is getting
stronger. So we are headed in the right direction and the last thing we
should do is turn around and go back to the policies that weren`t working
in the first place. That`s why it`s so important for us to stay focused
and Congress to continue to do the things that the American people want to
see done in order to improve the economy.

My message to Congress is don`t stop here. Keep going.


SHARPTON: And the Obama administration just announced it would
release its new plan to reform the tax code tomorrow. It will include many
of the fairness ideas he outlined during his state of the union.

Joining me now, Dana Milbank, political columnist for the "Washington
Post," and a Bob Franken, a syndicated columnist for king features.

Thank you both for being here tonight.



SHARPTON: Now, Dana, Republicans say the president is bad for
business, but don`t the markets disagree?

MILBANK: Well, it would seem tonight case, reverend Al. You know,
this -- the jobs numbers that we have been talking about before this really
unprecedented rise over this period time in the stock market, all put the
president in a terrific position. We have to add the usual caveat that all
of this can change very quickly and we see with gas prices creeping up.

Now, the recovery is still very fragile. This can be sent back in the
other direction without too much effort whatsoever. So the president
doesn`t want to get up there and start thumping his chest over this. But
people are feeling a whole lot better and that`s you why see the
president`s numbers improving so much versus his prospective opponents and
why those prospective opponents are chewing each other so much - each other
so much on the campaign trail.

SHARPTON: Now, Bob. The president may not be thumping his chest and
maybe shouldn`t, but he is certainly hearing his opponents really try and
beat down any suggestion of progress. Look at how the Republican
candidates are painting the president as against people on jobs and
recovery. Watch this.


GINGRICH: His policy has been outrageously the entire American
energy. The high gas price of gasoline is directly the result of president

ROMNEY: He is the reason it has taken so long for the economy to show
its signs of getting together. He is the reason this has taken so long for
the economy to show its signs in getting better.

SANTORUM: The president is not on your side. This is president is
not for jobs.


SHARPTON: Now, would the trend, Bob, going where it is and right now
headed in the right direction, how do they seal these extreme pictures like
the president is doing nothing and anti the progress that is clearly
beginning to take forward?

FRANKEN: Well, first of all, when you are talking about the economy
it is really kind of difficult to really cover it in a sound bite. It is
really ripe for obfuscation and that is exactly what you are seeing the
Republicans doing. They are pretending that the progress hasn`t been made.
They shudder at the thought that people are going to start looking at their
401(k) s again and actually see they have increased in value. This has got
to be really, really something dangerous as far as the Republican
candidates are concerned.

I think it explains why they are focusing so much now on religion and
the various other social issues. They are beginning to sound as a matter
of fact sometimes like passive aggressive Taliban.

SHARPTON: Now, let me go back to you, Dana. The president was out
again today pushing, raise tax on millionaire, tax breaks for small
businesses, refinancing of home owners. That message resonates with
voters. If you look at any polling, that`s where the American people are.

MILBANK: Well, you are starting to sound a little bit like a
Republican, reverend Al, and that`s because -- because the Newt Gingrich,
Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney are all tied up having debates over birth
control and whatnot. They have left the center of the political spectrum
to the president. He can claim some of their issues.

Now, anybody who saw the Obama budget that came out last week would
not think the man has, you know, suddenly become a fiscal conservative or a
Republican by my means. But he is able to talk to those voters in the
middle right now while his would-be opponents are really tied up off on the

SHARPTON: And Bob, at the same time, the president is saying that and
he said this today, he is stressing that Congress should pass the Buffett
rule. Listen to this.


OBAMA: Congress needs to make the Buffett rule a reality. This is
common sense. If you make more than $1 million a year, make more than $1
million a year, you should pay a tax rate of at least 30 percent.


SHARPTON: Now, when the American people are polled about millionaires
taxing millionaires in order to reduce the deficit, 67 percent say yes, 67
percent. That`s over two-thirds. Yet, Eric Cantor on FOX News Sunday
defended the GOP`s stance of taxing of millionaires.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Aren`t they basically disagreeing with an
awful lot of the Republican agenda?

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: I think, Chris, underneath
that question is somehow that we don`t care about the people who are out
there working paycheck-to-paycheck trying to make t and somehow, it`s
unfair. What I would say, it is unfair that these individuals who want a
better life, who want more jobs and higher pay are not getting it.



FRANKEN: First of all, it is Buffett rule. I thought it was buffet
rule that always confused me.

But when Eric Cantor talks about there are out there who are working
for people who work paycheck to paycheck, I think he is talking about
people paychecks are like $10 million each time he gets one because that
seems to be the people that they representing. The one percenters or upper
one percenters. The people who don`t really want to see the economy really
prosper because that means they would have to share part of their wealth.
But they have got a real difficult problem, the Republicans do that is all
people get to vote. And if there is a demonstrable improvement in the
economy, the Republicans have a tough sell.

SHARPTON: Dana, isn`t it really probably the case that the
Republicans felt they could run against a bad economy, they were all ready
for that their talking points, their spin doctors, and the economy is
better than they thought and they really don`t know how to find a new theme
and a new justification for run?

MILBANK: Exactly t is fairly late in the game to retool as we now
hear Mitt Romney`s trying to do, because everything had been put in place
for this kind of a message. They have a very difficult sell now, just as
Obama was having trouble proving a negative, saying things would be a lot
worse if we hadn`t put all my policies in place.

Now, the Republicans are in a position of saying, well, things would
be even better if president Obama weren`t in power right now, very hard
argument to sell for the same reasons.

SHARPTON: Dana Milbank and Bob Franken, thanks for your time tonight.

FRANKEN: Thanks, Al.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, Mitt Romney is trying to spend his way to the
nomination, but voters respect buying it. New talk today of a brokered
convention and a Bush on the GOP ticket.


SHARPTON: The Supreme Court has announced it will hear a challenge
this fall to an affirmative action policy at the University of Texas. The
startling news has conservatives hoping the court will overturn its 2003
ruling that said public colleges and universities could consider race
during admissions. That case was decided five to four, but the court has
become more conservative in the last nine years and Liberal Justice Elena
Kagan has recused herself because she worked on the issue at the Justice
Department. The court may rule in October, possibly making the case an
issue in the presidential race. Back in 2003, when the court first
considered this, we marched outside the Supreme Court. We fought to make
sure all students had a shot at a good education and here`s my message
today. We`re ready to do it again.


SHARPTON: Welcome back. The radical republican war on women`s health
is reaching a fever pitch in Virginia. For the second straight day,
Republicans in the House of Delegates put off a bill requiring women
seeking abortions to undergo mandatory physically intrusive ultrasounds.
This comes after a day of massive protests, where over 1,000 people
surrounded the State Capitol. The House was expected to pass it, sending
the law to Governor Bob McDonnell, who said, he would sign it. But new
reports today say some lawmakers are hinting they may try to make changes
in the bill to soften it a bit. This is good news. When you fight back,
you might not win, but if you don`t fight back, you are guaranteed to lose.
The people of Virginia are speaking loud and clear.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It is a thinly veiled excuse to try to take
control of a woman`s body away from her and put it in the legislature, the
government where it does not belong.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: This is an underhand, slip and slide way to try
and come up with a way to undermine Roe V Wade, but in so doing so, it is
crashing women`s rights, it`s crashing women`s health.


SHARPTON: It is crashing women`s rights. They want to force women
into having intrusive ultrasounds. This is their idea of small

Joining me now from Richmond, Virginia, Virginia Delegate Kaye Kory,
democrat from Fairfax who has been fighting back against the bill. And in
San Francisco, Joan Walsh, editor at large at Great to have
both of you with us.

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: Thanks, Reverend Al.

DEL. KAYE KORY (D), VIRGINIA: Great to be here.

SHARPTON: Delegate Corey, let me start with you. This news today
that things might be changing is good news. What can you tell us? What
are you hearing?

KORY: Truthfully, I`m not hearing anything except that it will
probably go by for the day in hopes that the media will focus on something
else and I`m here to ask you not to stop focusing on this.

SHARPTON: Well, you don`t have to worry about that. Joan, how, in
your judgment, in 2012, are we talking about this kind of intrusive, and in
my opinion, biased, anti-woman kind of legislation passing any state
government less known in Virginia?

WALSH: You know, I think Reverend Al. They counted on us not paying
attention, us in the media and frankly, us as women a lot of these
ultrasound bills have passed in other states. Most of them are not quite
as intrusive, but a couple of them are and they are frankly, and I`m
ashamed to admit it hasn`t been the human cry that we`ve had in Virginia.
But I think, you know, I want to just thank Rick Santorum because I really
think that he woke women up, women and men, up to the fact that his agenda
doesn`t stop with abortion. It really does include birth control and it
really includes all of the decisions that we make as individuals and as
families about our health and women have a lot -- we have a lot of these
issues, it comes up a lot, contraception costs us a lot of money out of
pocket and these guys are laughing about it. And saying that it is cheap.
They are saying we can use aspirin between our knees. And I think, you
know, some of us feminist, some of us liberals have maybe sounded alarmists
over the years that we have warned about this way of thinking and this
desire to control women. And now we have got a guy like Santorum basically
telling us that is exactly what he wants to do.

SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you delegate Kory. The people of Virginia
according to polling, 55 percent of polls, the mandatory ultrasounds, 55
percent of Virginians, 52 percent oppose the personhood law.

KORY: Yes.

SHARPTON: So, if you`ve got the majority of the people in your state
opposed to these measures, what are your republican colleagues telling you
what are they thinking? I mean, why are they bent on doing such a thing?
There`s no political reason and clearly, they can`t be thinking that this
is something that is respectful of women`s rights.

KORY: It`s moral arrogance, it really is. And this is an attempt at
legislating -- a legislative chastity belt. This is punishment, this is
punishment. People have been holding back for a long time in Virginia and
now we are being flooded with anti-women rights bills.

SHARPTON: Now, while I`m talking to you about your colleagues, there
are other very conservative measures that they are deciding. This is just
the tip of the iceberg. You have got -- allow adoption agencies to
discriminate against gay couples, this is in front of the legislature there
in Virginia, repeal a law -- repeal it, now, limiting gun purchases to one
per month, voter ID requiring photo ID at polls, something we getting ready
to march about. So, it seems like they have a whole smorgasbord of right-
wing reactionary legislation that they are trying to push through in your

KORY: Oh, I agree with you. There are so many repressive measures
coming to the House of Delegates, it is very, very frightening. I think
people aren`t going to recognize Virginia come the end of this session if
they don`t start shouting and the protesting now.

SHARPTON: Now, Joan, let me ask you this. Are we seeing with social
issues, like the personhood law, which other states have proposed and it
was even defeated in Mississippi, that`s how bad it is.

WALSH: Right.

SHARPTON: And Mississippi is certainly not considered a progressive

WALSH: Not at all.

SHARPTON: When we see the social issues, we see religious issues now
being raised on the President, are we seeing a desperate move by the right
to try and ram down their version of morality and social issues down the
throat of Americans and this may end up being what defines politics 2012?

WALSH: You know, it may. And I think the President is going to do
his best and Democrats will do their best to keep this. To keep the focus
on economic issues and issues that really unite us rather than divide us.
But I also think that they have overreached, I don`t know what polls they
are looking at Reverend now. I don`t know who think that this is a winning
issue for them. But you know, Virginia, it is a purple state, you know,
the President carried it. There is a battle for the soul of Virginia right
now. And these people I believe have overreached and have awakened some
people, suburban women, for example, who maybe didn`t think any of this
pertained to them. And maybe didn`t think that it was a big deal whether
they voted or not. There was a lot of complacent in 2010. So, between the
economic improvement and this reactionary social legislation, I think they
are waking up the democratic base and they are waking up independents and
they are scaring the hell out of them. So, it`s good news for Democrats
and it`s good news for folks -- good folks in Virginia.

SHARPTON: Well, Delegate Kory, Joan is right because even the polling
of women, the President is now up against -- in a poll up against Willard
Mitt Romney talking to unmarried women, he`s up nine points since last
month. They are driving even more women to the President.

KORY: Joan is absolutely right and especially young women are
outraged. Young women, like my daughter, who is in her 20s, who never
thought that this would be an issue that she would have to fight in her
lifetime. It is about time that young women became motivated and political
and they are doing it now and they are getting ready for the presidential

SHARPTON: Well Delegate Kaye Kory, I promise we will going to stay on
this issue.

KORY: Good.

SHARPTON: Joan Walsh, thank you also for joining me tonight to both
of you.

WALSH: Thanks, Reverend Al.

KORY: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead from bad to worse, we got a real look behind the
curtain in the Romney campaign today and it is very telling.

And Franklin Graham is the latest to question the President`s
religion. My commentary on faith and politics is coming up. Stay with us.


SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. Mitt Romney`s
favorability is running low and so is his bank account balance. Last
month, Romney and his Super PAC took in $13.1 million in donations, but
they spent over double that amount, $32.7 million in January alone. A lot
of that cash was spent on attack ads.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Is this dude serious? Fiscal conservative?
Really? Mitt Romney`s negative attack machine is back on full throttle.
Romney`s trying to hide from his big government, Romney-care, and his
support for job-killing Cap and Trade.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Santorum pushed for billions and wasteful pork,
voting for the bridge to nowhere a teapot museum, even an indoor rain

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Mitt Romney`s ugly attacks are going to backfire.


SHARPTON: Now, these are samples of all of the candidates using
attack ads against each other. All told, the Republicans have already
spent six times more on attack ads than the candidates in 2008 election did
over the entire race. But despite all the money and all the attacks,
Willard Romney is still stock in second place in Michigan. A new poll
shows Rick Santorum holding a four-point lead.

Joining me now is Mark McKinnon, a republican media advisor, co-
founder of No Labels, and vice chair of Hillary Norton strategies. He is
writing in the Daily Beast today about the possibility of a broader
convention and a third party candidate. Mark, thanks for being here


SHARPTON: Now, with Romney`s troubles in Michigan and elsewhere, can
this all go away or can this stay around all the way to the convention and
if so, what happens then?

MCKINNON: Well, if Mitt Romney loses Michigan, I think the Al Gore
rule kicks in, which is if you can`t win your home state, then you
shouldn`t win the nomination, you can`t win the presidency. So if that
happens, it`s very unlikely, even if he wins barely, it`s looking
increasingly likely that neither Santorum nor Romney or Gingrich can get to
the convention with the needed 50 percent of the delegates.

So, you could see how it could become a floor fight getting to 50
percent. And if Romney loses Michigan, I guarantee you there is going to
be absolute panic in the Republican Party, because we have gone from six
months ago, where it looked like the GOP couldn`t lose and now, today, it
looks like there is no way we can win. So, you know, the gee-teen is
focusing the mind of the party to alternative strategies.

SHARPTON: Now, Mark, when you look at Romney earned 6.5 million spent
18.8. Gingrich earned 5.6 million, spent 5.9, Paul 4.5 million earned, 5.2
million. I mean, it`s not like these guys are not trying to get some
traction and not spending a whole lot of money, it is just not connecting.

MCKINNON: Well, that is a problem. Hasn`t been a resource problem
for anybody and that is largely because of the Super PACs that are being
funded by huge contributors, often undisclosed which is a much bigger
problem we could talk about for a long time and I think it`s a big problem
in our politics today. But yes, that`s a problem. They`d been getting our
message out in there, and the more they do it, the less traction they are
getting, less support they are getting and they`re losing support among
independents and he`s making it harder and harder for them to be attractive
candidates in the general election.

SHARPTON: But when you look at Mr. Romney`s running against the
President, if he is able to pull it out, President has raised 76 million,
Romney, 7.7 million. This is the cash on hand now, this is not total
raised. It seems that Romney is not well financed against -- in terms of
cashing in if he has to deal with the President, because he is spending so
much money trying to muddy up his opponents in the primaries.

MCKINNON: Well, true you and the part of the problem with this long
nomination process, is it`s bleeding down the resources with the republican
candidates. However, I will say that whoever is nominated on the
republican side and the President, they`re all going to have plenty of
money for the general election. But the real problem is, both sides raised
way too much money, waste too much money and we really need a different --
to reform the way we finance our campaigns. But again, that is another

SHARPTON: Now, Mark, you wrote something today in the "Daily Beast"
that really kind of caught my attention. I couldn`t wait for you to come
on tonight to ask you, are you serious? You said in today`s article, you,
Mark McKinnon, said Jeb Bush. Let me repeat that, Jeb Bush. For the third
time, Jeb Bush. I want folk at home to get that, would be the most likely
white knight candidate to get drafted into a brokered convention. He has
also always been the consensus favorite among Republican Party officials.
Are you telling me that this party may give us another Bush to run if this
goes all the way to the convention?

MCKINNON: Well, I`m telling you that if they could, they would
absolutely in a heartbeat. I mean, Jeb Bush is beloved across all
demographics for the Republican Party. Everybody think also he would be
great candidate. He didn`t run and hasn`t run for obvious issues, I think
he understands the legacy problems but if there were an absolute train
wreck, which is unlikely, but it`s possible, the first person that the
party would turn to is Jeb Bush.

SHARPTON: Now, do you think that Bush could really be competitive?
Do you think the legacy problem, as you call it, the memory of his brother,
that there`s been enough distance in just four years?

MCKINNON: You know, I think actually that there has been and I think
that given the environment that we are in today, that Jeb Bush could run
under this scene scenario and be a very competitive candidate in this

SHARPTON: What would be the basis of his candidacy? What could he
say to the American public that would make them think not only the war that
went awry for his brother, but the economy? What would make them feel that
they would be different, even though it`s not fair to say one brother`s
like the other, but he is named Bush, we have a whole lot to sell to

MCKINNON: Well, yes and I think he understands that, but that`s, you
know, he has been able to, as a very successful governor with a lot of
programs that people believe he did an excellent job as chief executive of
Florida, he is a real compassionate conservative, real compassionate
conservative. He has a great relation with Hispanics. He has been a
broker of moderation with a very conservative record reaching out across
the aisle.

SHARPTON: We are going to have to cut it there. Compassionate
conservative, I thought that was something in a republican museum. Mark
McKinnon, thanks for your time tonight. We will be right back.


SHARPTON: We have been hearing lot of talk about faith and religion
in recent days. This morning, Franklin Graham went on national television
to question President Obama`s Christian faith. And in Washington, we have
seen politicians using faith to attack women`s right to health care. The
fact is religion has always had the potential to divide us. Martin Luther
King, Jr. once said, "The most segregated hour of Christian America is
11:00 on Sunday morning." Instead of praying together, Americans often let
the belief that they have drive them apart, like the televangelist who
blamed September 11th on gay people or who linked Hurricane Katrina to
abortion debates. But it doesn`t have to be that way. Our religious views
can help us pull together, they can guide us toward justice, as Dr. King
said back in 1965.


MARTIN LUTHER KING (1929-1968): The bible tells us that the mighty
men of Joshua, men that walked about the walled city of Jericho, the
barriers to freedom came tumbling down and we can answer with creative
nonviolence, a call to higher ground, which the new directions of our
struggle summons us.


SHARPTON: I am a Christian but I don`t require everyone to believe
what I believe and share my faith. I believe in Jesus, I read and preached
him since I was a little boy, a Jesus that healed the sick, opened blind
eyes, open deaf ears, but he never asked anyone he healed what faith they
believed in and never told them they had to be with him in order to get
healed. Real Christians help heal people and help people. They don`t talk
about it. Their works speaks for themselves.

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


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