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PoliticsNation, Thursday, April 26, 2012

Read the transcript from the Thursday show

Guests: David Corn, Alan Grayson; Rodney King, Joe Madison, Dana Milbank, Steve
Kornacki, Erin McPike, Mark Ridley-Thomas

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

Do you recognize this face? Look closely, because it should ring a
bell. How about now? That`s right, folks, Willard Mitt Romney and George
W. Bush are one in the same. Romney`s whole campaign is built on returning
us to the same broken down policies of the Bush presidency. He just is
betting on American people to have short-term memory.

But vice president Biden was out reminding us today --


think, is counting on collective amnesia of the American people. Americans
know -- Americans know, that we can`t go back to the future. Back to a
foreign policy that would have America go it alone. Shout to the world
you`re with us or against us. Lash out first and ask questions the hard


SHARPTON: Lash out first, ask the hard questions later? That was the
basis of the Bush foreign policy. Lash out first. Wage and entire war on
the basis of weapons of mass destruction that don`t exist, then, ask the
hard questions later. We all know how it all turned out.

And today, nine years later, Willard is trying to take America back to
those days. Seventeen of Romney`s foreign policy advisors are from the
Bush administration, 17. And today, he proudly touted the endorsement of

Bush national security advisor Steven Hadley. But here are the thing
folks we have to watch. It`s not just foreign policy. That`s a reply of
all those Bush`s years. It`s also of the economy that is a reply too,


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s led government spending. It is lowering
taxes so small businesses can grow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: How different is that concept from what
was, what were the policies of the Bush administration?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it`s that program just up dated.


SHARPTON: The Bush policy updated. What could possibly go wrong?

The same policy that caused debt to explodes by $5 trillion. That led
to stock index to collapse 40 percent. The one that cost us 4.4 million
jobs in Bushes last year in office. I don`t think America can afford the
same failed policies, and this is the message he is up against.


BIDEN: I said before thanks to president Obama, bin Laden is dead and
General Motors is alive. You have to ask yourself, if Governor Romney was
president, could he have used the same slogan in reverse?


SHARPTON: Joining me now, former congressman Alan Grayson, Democratic
from Florida, and David Corn, Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones"
and MSNBC political analyst. His new book is "Showdown." the inside story
how Obama fought back against Boehner, Canter and the tea party.

Thank you both for coming on the show.

SHARPTON: Congressman, let me start with you. The similarities are
striking. How is he going to be able to run on this?

FORMER REP. ALAN GRAYSON (D), FLORIDA: Well, first of all, I think
America doesn`t need another president who simply trying to one up his
daddy. It seems like Romney`s main motivation that he wants to be
president because he father couldn`t make it. And I think America is just
had a bad experienced with people who run for office because they want to
be something, instead of people who run for all because they want to do

But there`s an additional problem here. The additional problem is
that he was born with some silver spoon in his orifice and he never was not
able to get it out. And he acts like one of those out of touch rich people
who are no way to relate to America`s suffering.

And there are a lot of people in America who are suffering. If
America consists entirely of millionaires and billionaires, he might be the
ideal president. But that`s not where America is for today, and for the
rest of us, he is a horror.

SHARPTON: Now David, let`s dig a little deeper in this because this
is not just sloganeering. When you look at Romney`s foreign policy
advisors, you are dealing with a real throw back here. I mean, let me give
you some examples.

Black, oversaw enhanced interrogation and (INAUDIBLE) techniques for
the CIA. Hayden, designed Bush`s domestic spying programs from the NSA.
Kagan, rallied neo conservatives to support the Iraq invasion.

I mean, these are specific, clear persons who played key roles in the
foreign policy of Bush administration.

if you ask Americans where the foreign policy for the Bush administration
and George W. Bush`s administration was a success, it may hard press to get
more than two out to ten, three out of ten Americans who would say yes.
Mainly because of Iraq, but also because we didn`t finish the job in

What did Bush do, you know, about North Korea and Iran, the things
that the Romney clam complains about now about President Barack Obama. So
it is exactly the same crowd, but more importantly if you look at the
various foreign policy speeches, and I almost hesitate to call them
speeches, than more like a collection of cliches that Romney has offered
over the last year, you don`t see anything of substance, you don`t even see
anything in consistency.

Do you remember the time when he was asked about what he would do in
Libya when the president was o the verge of launching a military action
there? He ran away from reports. The Romney doctrine was to run away and
not talk, you know, honestly about what options were.

So, I think if you talk about his inability to talk cogently about
foreign policy, other than to make the false claim that Obama apologize
this for America. You look at the record of the people around him, who
blew the biggest foreign policy call of the year of the last few decades
with Iraq, and it was not just issue was not just invading Iraq, it was
they had no idea what to do once they got there because they have no plans
before they invade it.

SHARPTON: That`s the point, congressman. It`s basically been a
campaign so far just attacking President Obama, and really not playing out
a plan, and involve in some of the same players that brought us into a
foreign policy that was disastrous.

But there`s also on the economic side, congressman, let me show you
this. If you look at the facts, Romney is further right than George Bush.
Let me show you on the economy side, Bush passed a huge tax cut. Romney is
proposing to cut four times larger. Bush enacted Medicaid expansion,
Romney wanted to end Medicare as we know it. Bush signed increase to
minimum wage, Romney opposes increasing minimum wage. Bush says global
warming is caused by humans. Romney says we don`t know what causes global
warming. I mean, this guy is to the right of George Bush which many of us
thought was politically impossible.

GRAYSON: Like George Bush, he thinks the only problem facing America
today is that rich people don`t have enough money. And he is bent on
solving that problem with his tax cuts and tax giveaways for the rich and
for multinational corporations at the expense of everyone else. So that
the war against the poor continues, the war against the middle class
continues, the war against women continues. It`s like that old headlines
in the Washington - in the New York post. We are going to see it again.
You remember the headline, for to New York, drop dead. Well, we will see
the headline Romney to America, drop dead. And he will be happy we can
strap us to the top of his car.

SHARPTON: Well, he already had one headline in "New York Times." He
told Detroit let it go bankrupt, so that`s on the way for the same headline
for the rest of the country.

But, let me ask you this, David. How does he then pivot and try to
erase all of that? How does he act like these proposals, all of these
advisors that were just primary stuff. I`m not that guy. Forget that.
I`m really more of a centralist. I`m more appealing to independent voters.
I mean, does he think he can pivot and get away with this?

CORN: Well, he has flip-flopped a lot of times in his political
career and it has not hurt him and has served him well. So, maybe he
thinks he can, you know. On the foreign policy front, Reverend, he is not,
you know, moving to the center. Actually, he is consolidating the Bush
influence over his foreign policy staff. You know, in that case, trying to
think that being a hawk -- there was a conference call today with a Romney
advisors talking about the soviets, not the Russians and Czechoslovakia,
not the Czech Republic. You know, his experts talking as if they`re still
trapped in the 1980s. If he thinks that having ht sort of retro, you know,
blast the soviets view of foreign policy, and attacking Obama after Libya,
Egypt, and bin Laden for being weak and feckless still works as a foreign
policy, you know, political strategy. Well, you know, let him give it a
try, I just don`t think - I think its stale and it show that he doesn`t
have much veer on his own.

SHARPTON: Now. One of the things that are interesting, congressman
is that, when you look at the fact that many prominent members of the Bush
family, but not George W. Bush has endorsed him, Mr. Romney. George H. W.
Bush has endorsed. Barbara Bush has endorsed. Jeb Bush has endorsed. No
George W. Bush yet.

But, "Rolling Stone" uncovered this out of Bush endorsing Romney for
governor back in 2002, so George W. Bush has supported Romney. Let`s
listen to this.


stand with Mitt Romney because I believe he is the best person for the job
of governor of Massachusetts. He`s got a record. He`s done things in
life. He started his own businesses. He`s an entrepreneur.


SHARPTON: I wonder if you`re going to hear echoes of that soon since
he is using all of his advisors and some of his policies, and even though
he is going to the right, maybe we will hear that voice resonating again,
telling us about Mr. Romney`s record and how Willard knows what to do with

GRAYSON: I don`t know. But I will tell you this. According to polls
that I have seen, George W. Bush is no more popular than venereal disease
at this point. Maybe we will see him attack Romney because attacking him -
- Bush attacking somebody would probably make him popular than Bush
endorsing him.

SHARPTON: Former congressman Alan Grayson and David Corn. Thank you
for coming on the show tonight.

Coming up, Republicans kick off the silly season by attacking
President Obama`s travel expenses. How worried were they when George W.
Bush was in the White House?

Plus, the GOP plan to take down the president is real. And guess
what, it started on day one. We`ll tell you what they were plotting on the
very night of his inauguration.

Twenty years later, the L.A. riots, we will talk about how the Rodney
King beating changed the country and how things have changed since then.
Rodney King joins me live, next.


SHARPTON: I`m in Los Angeles where 20 years ago, this city burns in
the worst violence of American history around the case of Rodney King. I
will be talking to him live, next.


SHARPTON: Welcome back to "Politics Nation," live from Los Angeles
with a story that changed the city and this country. Four Los Angeles
police officers were caught on camera, brutally beating motorist Rodney
King following what started out as a routine traffic stop. King was
reportedly hit more than 50 part-times with a baton, and kicked six times
by the officers. He suffered permanent (INAUDIBLE) including kidney
damage. He says his right cheek is still numb. And to this day, he still
gets headaches.

The video spot national outrage and caused for justice from all
corners of the globe. And on April 29th, 1992, the world was shocked again
when the four police officers who beat King were found not guilty on
numerous charges including excessive force.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The jury (INAUDIBLE) find the defendant not guilty.


SHARPTON: Within hours of the verdict, Los Angeles was on fire. The
riots would become the worse in U.S. history.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s a fire here is a truck auto supply store,
and a thrifty drugstore, two businesses, lots of jobs just going up in

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m probably going to lose this store to fire. We
hire about 350 employees.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People eluded everything from drugstore to
supermarkets to donut shops to video arcades.


SHARPTON: At least 53 people died and billions lost scores of
businesses that were eluded and burn to the ground. One chilling incident
viewers saw told truck driver Reginald Denney (ph) pulled from his rig and
nearly beating to death on live TV.

At the height of the violence though, Rodney King, himself, made an
urgent appeal to the city.


RODNEY KING, AUTHOR, THE RIOT WITHIN: I just want to say, you know,
can`t we all get along? Can we get along? Can we stop making it horrible
for older people and the kids?


SHARPTON: Joining me now, Rodney King, his book, "the Riot Within,"
my journey from rebellion to redemption. It`s in bookstore this week.

Thank you for your time tonight, Rodney.

KING: Yes. Thanks for having me.

SHARPTON: Now. It`s been 20 years, and you have, from day one, said
you did not want to see any violence. You only wanted justice, and 20
years later, the country has grown, has changed, yet we still have a lot of

In your book, "the riot within," that people can get now at bookstore
bookstores, you said I don`t want to be remembered as the person who
started the riots. I`d like to be remembered for the person who threw
water on the whole thing, part of the solution. You know, I want to be
remembered as the person who tried to keep peace in this country, that I
did my part. What do you mean by that, Rodney?

KING: You know. I would prefer to be remembered as a pat - a person
who was part of a resolution. You know, not a part of the problem.
Because, you now, we have a younger generation that`s growing every year,
you know. There are a new adult people coming into this country, and kids
being born in this country. And we have to leave a legacy for them,
something for them so it will be easier for them to deal with problems and
issues that come up, you know, just like civil rights leaders, you know,
white, black colors. You name people that have made a movement towards
piece and nonviolence all the way up to this point, you know. It`s
important that we keep that going, and I intend to do my part.

SHARPTON: Now. You have written this book and talked about your
journey, and what you have gone through. And you have emphasized that it
was never about black and white to you, it was right and wrong. In fact,
it was a white who videotaped the beating of you, and had that white not
videotaped that and put it out, most of America and many of us may never
have known you were telling the truth that night. Because you were, in
fact, arrested and charged by those police until that video came out.

KING: Yes. That`s correct. It was a hurt and lonely feeling, you
know, to think that no one cared and I wouldn`t be able to tell anyone.
And you know, I could just imagine how many people are dead and locked up
in jail involved in, you know, the same type of situation, you know. No
one believes them. It`s a horrible feeling. It`s a horrible feeling, you
know, to be at home in your own country and have to feel like that.

SHARPTON: Now. I`m in Los Angeles tonight where community leaders
are doing a series of days of saying we have to grow, we have to make sure
-- yes we still have challenges, but we cannot resolve them with violence
because with all of that violence, it really didn`t make matters better.
In many ways it burned down the can communities of the people that were

And we must really try to build, rather than burn, and change the
things that are wrong in society, not succumb and act in a way that you
said was wrong. One of the things that we faced with the Trayvon Martin
case, his family, his parents are here tonight that all called for peace,
no matter what the outcome of their case and they`re trying to encourage
young people of conflict resolution.

But when you were on my radio show yesterday - the day before
yesterday, you said to me, you knew the pain. You heard the 911 tape with
Mr. Trayvon Martin and Mr. Zimmerman, and you, you really stunned me when
you said you knew that cry, and you would hope that cry is something that
America understands in terms of victims and in terms of trying to make the
system better, explain what you meant.

KING: You know, as I heard that same scream that Trayvon Martin
screamed on that videotape, it`s all too familiar. I can remember 20 years
ago, I was screaming at the top of my lungs because I was that close inches
from death. And so, I know that -- I know that scary empty lonely feeling
when that baby boy was screaming like that. And I`m pretty sure that
anyone that has been in the war, the Vietnam vets, you know, they know that
scream and feeling just before you`re about to die also. Also, some of the
ones that went through tragedy and got so close to death but made it back.
It`s a cry for help. It`s a cry just before you`re about to die.

SHARPTON: What would you say to young people outraged about cases
today, whether it`s Trayvon, whether it`s other case around the country,
and they`re involved, they are getting active, they may not have been born
when your case happened, what council can you give them as we --?

KING: I`m sorry, my, I can`t hear you -- I can`t hear anything right
now, but I`m going to take it from there --

SHARPTON: Let me say it again. What would you say to young people
around the country, you talking to a new generation as we tell them to
build and change the laws and change society and not just burn and be
violent? What would you say as one of the most famous victims in America?

KING: Let`s go about it differently. It`s a lot of people that still
walking that`s alive that was coming up during the early civil rights
movement, and went through that type of violence, and they saw
communications and to be able to get to know a person again after the
violence. It`s really difficult to be loved and for people to respect you.

And so, what I would say is just be patient because the justice system
works, it`s a slow process, but it did work in my case. I finally received

And another thing is that, you know. Now, its new modern days, you
know. We can get more, you know, by coming together and figuring out how
to go about these issues rather than burning up our own cities or rather
than looking at different races like, you know, we`re holding a grudge and
we don`t even know why we`re holding that grudge. You know, a lot of work
went in over the years, you know. And you, yourself, Reverend, know that
it`s been a long road to get to this point in life. You know, as a human
being. It`s no need to think that violence is going to get us anywhere.
Because we`re -- we should be more civilized than that and come together
and make things happen, and be patient with the justice system.

I`m not saying that because I received my justice, I`m saying that
because I experienced it. And when I went to - what I went to, I was so
lonely. I just thought time was moving so slow for me to receive my
justice. And I finally got it and was embraced by the world.

And especially here in the United States, I was embraced. It was a
wonderful feeling, you know. And I was saying to myself, I wish I had not
been -- I wish I could see things like I see them now, you know? And so I

SHARPTON: Well, you have written them down so everybody with see
them. The author of the book "the Riot Within," Rodney King.

Thank you for joining me, Rodney.

KING: Thanks for having me.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, while the new president was celebrating his
nomination, Republicans were literally plotting his defeat. We go inside
the secret plan.


SHARPTON: We thought it existed. Now, we know for sure, there was a
secret GOP plan to destroy the Obama presidency, and it started on day one.
That`s next.


SHARPTON: We thought it existed, now we know for sure, there was a
secret GOP plan to destroy the Obama presidency, and it started on day one.
It was Tuesday, January 20 of 2009. Barack Obama was sworn in as the 43rd
President of the United States. According to Robert Draper`s new book
titled quote, "Don`t Ask What Good We Do: Inside The U.S. House of
Representatives" as the new president and his wife were dancing at the
inaugural ball, republican lawmakers were less than a mile away dining
together at this Ritzy (ph) Washington Restaurant and plotting revenge.

Seven members of Congress, including Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarty, and
Paul Ryan were there. Five senators including Jim DeMint, Jon Kyl and Tom
Coburn as well as Newt Gingrich and republican spin-master Frank Luntz.
After four hours, they came up with this plan of attack. Go after Timothy
Geithner who was in the midst of Senate confirmation hearings, show united
and unyielding opposition to the President`s economic policies. Begin
attacking vulnerable Democrats on the air waves, and quote, "win the spear
point of the House in 2010." Jab Obama relentlessly in 2011 win the White
House and the Senate in 2012. Newt Gingrich boasted, quote, "You will
remember this day. You will remember this as the day the seeds of 2012
were sown." And we have seen them carry out the plan since day one
blocking and opposing everything. The question is, will it work? Or did it
tarnish their brand forever.

Joining me now is Joe Madison host of "The Power" on Sirius XM radio.
And Dana Milbank, political columnist for "The Washington Post," thanks for
both of you being here tonight.



SHARPTON: Joe, you`re taking -- give me what you feel about exposing
this secret plan. Let`s put it that way. How do you feel about this?

MADISON: Well, let me, first of all, you`re right, there`s no
surprise. I think there are some things that the average person should
have seen as signs. First of all, you have the Senate minority leader who
almost day one of the Senate said, his number one goal, number one goal,
was to make sure that he did not get reelected. Number two, remember the
interviews, on "60 Minutes" where the Speaker of the House would not use
the word compromise, and I wanted to add a third component, and I want to
make a note on this. There is, what I would refer to as the evil trinity
that took place. Congress, birthers, and Tea Party. All of this is part
of this grand plan that`s been played out in front of us.

SHARPTON: But I think Dana that if we were to go to Draper`s book,
the night of the inauguration, we have to remember now while the President
and the first lady were dancing in the Washington Convention Center, seven
tenths of a mile away, they were having this meeting. There was no Tea
Party yet, there was no birther yet, so all of this grew out of a
commitment from day one to undermine this President. And as stated in the
book, they were going to start by going after Timothy Geithner. And let me
show you, Jon Kyl who was in the meeting did this during the Senate
confirmation hearings on Geithner, let me show you this.


SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: What you`re saying is, you didn`t think
about it until it was brought to your attention in connection with your
nomination, is that correct?

looking back on it, did not think about it carefully enough, did not ask
enough questions, and I regret not having done that. I did what I thought
was the right thing to do that time which is the IRS told me what I owed.

KYL: I`m sorry to take extra time here, but would you answer my
question rather than dancing around it, please.


SHARPTON: So really, what I`m going at Dana is not the specifics or
how it unraveled, but the fact that there was an intentional plot, no
matter what the facts would have been. Their intention was before the
inaugural ball is over, we will going to undermine this President.

MILBANK: Right, Reverend. Well, look, if this was a secret plan, it
was the worst kept secret in Washington because it was very clear from
beginning exactly what was going on. What`s interesting about Robert
Drapers report, is it puts some meat on the bones here, and we actually see
it opposed to just forming of its own volition, it was actually a concerted
plan to start with. Joe, slightly off on that, Mitch McConnell didn`t
actually come out until almost the 2010 election and blurt this out in
public saying his top priority was making President Obama a one-term
president. But we see now, this is almost two years before that, and it
was a very concerted effort. In truth, they didn`t have a whole lot to be
pushing on here, because people were inclined to do this anyway. There was
a lot of bitterness, there was a lot of hostility, and we saw that break
down. I was in the room that day during the treasury secretary`s
confirmation hearing. We saw it immediately with the stimulus package.
The Republicans in the Senate weren`t quite on board with the scorched
earth plan here. But very clearly in the House, this was going to be the -
- beginning.

SHARPTON: But Joe, as we are now getting into the election season,
the general election season, as voters here that there was a plot from day
one, before any real moves had been done by this President, he was just
President a couple hours, a few hours when this happened, doesn`t it really
take some credibility away from some of the republican attacks if they know
that it was their intention to unseat him no matter what they did. And
even if they agreed with him, it didn`t matter, they were determined to
take the Congress and defeat this President. Doesn`t that change the tone
in some independents minds that are looking at this objectively?

MADISON: Absolutely. Because what it does, it means that in January
of 2009, they had made a decision that they were kicking all of us, the
country, under the bus. They were kicking all of us under the bus. They
understood politics. These are season elected officials. And look at the
states that they also come from, too. But they understood we`re not going
to do anything. We`re going to hold this President, we`re going to hold
this country hostage, and therefore we`re going to hold the policies that
might pull the country forward. So we`re going to oppose anything he does
for the automotive industry. We`ll going to oppose anything he does for
the average person out there, the middle class people and so I`m glad that
was corrected that it took another year before the Senate minority leader
spoke, but what point I`m making is that this plan was hatched, this plan
was hatched at that restaurant, and then they broadened it out among the
contacts and relationships. And let`s include in that, the business we`re
in Reverend Sharpton, talk radio, using right-wing conservative talk radio
to push this almost like an echo chamber. So, I hope everybody reads the

SHARPTON: Dana, have they gone too far though? Have they become such
obstructionist? Have they become such opponents to everything? Do they
may have gone after the President but hurt their brand beyond their ability
to win?

MILBANK: Right. That`s the problem here, Reverend. It wasn`t just a
matter of saying, we want to defeat the President in four years, naturally
the opposition party wants to do that. But we were saying, we`re not going
to let any of this guy`s agenda to get through. Rather just having the
competition in the market place of ideas, they were saying, we`re just not
going to let anything happen in this country in order to bring this guy
down. That`s where it hurts the republican brand and made them appear to
be obstructionists.

SHARPTON: Dana Milbank and Joe Madison, thanks for your time. And
talking about corrections, I`m surprised either one of you corrected me,
Barack Obama was elected 44th president, not 43rd, you didn`t correct me, I
tested you and both of you let me go.


SHARPTON: Still ahead, Speaker Boehner comes to Romney`s defense and
he starts by asking for the President to pay for his trips on Air Force
one. Oh, oh, sounds desperate to me. That`s next.


SHARPTON: We`re back on POLITICS NATION, with the right`s latest and
lamest attack on the President, Republicans are claiming to be outraged
over his trips on Air Force One to promote new legislation for student
loans, just listen to House Speaker John Boehner.


be reimbursing the Treasury for the cost of this trip. This one does not
pass the straight face test. You know it and I know it. It`s time for the
Obama campaign to pony up and reimburse the Treasury.


SHARPTON: I`m surprised Boehner can say that with a straight face.
This is just classic cynical politics. Democrats cried foul on this issue
during the Bush presidency, Republicans did it during the Clinton years,
but what`s really interesting is that this came from john Boehner himself,
who was ramped up his attacks on President Obama since he formerly endorsed
Mitt Romney. He`s asked about this today.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: When was the last time you spoke to anyone
associated with the Romney campaign?

BOEHNER: It`s been awhile. I made a habit not to talk to the
candidates or their campaigns during this process.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: There`s no coordination though, with your recent
attacks refuting the President. It`s almost like you`re doing Romney`s
bidding to a degree.

BOEHNER: I`m doing my own.


SHARPTON: Joining me now is Steve Kornacki, political writer for, and MSNBC contributor. And Erin McPike, reporter for Real Clear
Politics, thank you both for coming on the show tonight.

Steve, let`s start with you. This flap about the President`s trip
isn`t it much to do about nothing?

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I mean, I see something like
this and I can`t help but think back to one of my first political memories.
I was in sixth grade in my class, I got invited to be part of the official
welcoming sort of delegation for the President. Air Force One flew in to
the town, you know, next to us, we watch the President come off, and right
behind him was the candidate for the governor of our state. And his
party`s candidate for the Senate in our state. And that President was
George H. W. Bush. That was the first Bush. He was doing that 20 years
ago, Barack Obama flying around in Air Force One. Now, sort of mixing
politics and government. I mean, it`s the nature of the job. It`s a
government job. It`s a politics job. It really is impossible to draw that
line. I guess it`s sort of, you know, obligatory that when you`re on the
opposition party, you get mad at the President for doing this, and then you
don`t say anything when your President does it. So, you know, move on,
next issue.

SHARPTON: But Erin, what is the politics of this? Is this kind of
thing considered by voters nitpicking, or is it just, you want to keep
hitting on something? Is it effective? Is it ineffective? I mean, what
is the politics of this in terms of the voters?

ERIN MCPIKE, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: It`s not very effective. In so
much as the Republicans are simply saying that the President is doing
political work on the taxpayers dime, and he needs to reimburse, but the
campaign will begin to start reimbursing the government for some of these
travels. But I would say to you that the White House is sort of covering
themselves, or rather be the Obama campaign is, because they just announced
last night that the President and first lady are going to have two campaign
rallies in Virginia and Ohio in just one week, and so they`re announcing
that the general election has started and they`re moving into that phase.
So, it`s kind of covering that just a little bit. Because it is pretty
political, but a lot of what the President does is political.

SHARPTON: Well, that`s true, but you would have to also Steve deal
with the fact, Steve, that Boehner is ramping up his attacks, that`s
political too. I mean, is there not the politics though were getting down
to general election season? We`re not far from summer, then the
conventions, then we`re down in the main event.

KORNACKI: Well, right, I mean, there is an old saying, I guess it`s a
cliche now, but you know, good government makes for good politics. Obama
is out there this week, and he`s talking about the student loan issue, and
you could point to all of the electoral implications in what he`s saying.
This could help with the youth vote, this could help with the enthusiasm of
young voters, this could help with independents, and you look at the states
his doing and then, you know, he`s in North Carolina, Iowa, Colorado, we
all sort of acknowledge that these are swing states, so you can clearly
identify the political implications, you know, of doing this. But at the
same time, there is a clear and explicit, you know, link to governing the
country. I mean, this is a real issue.

You have these interest rates and these loans there expiring. There
was a real question, there`s still as a matter of fact, a real question
about whether they`re going to be extended, how they`re going to be
extended, and he went out, you know, to make the case and to explain that
issue to the country. So, I guess, it`s really impossible to draw that
line. You can clearly, there is an aspect of this that wreaks of campaign
your politics, but there is also an aspect of this that wreaks of just
being, you know, President of the United States and you really, sometimes
you can`t separate them. President is a political job.

SHARPTON: Erin, when you hear the question being raised to Speaker
Boehner about has he talked to the Romney people, is he ratcheting any of
this up for political reasons, the encouragement, and then you look at how
Mitt Romney says, one day he supports student loan bill, and then Boehner
suddenly magically produced this legislation to match. Let me show you


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I fully support the effort
to extend lower interest rates on student loans.

BOEHNER: Today, I`m pleased to announce that on Friday, the House
will vote on a bill to extend the current interest rate on federal student
loans for one year.


SHARPTON: I mean, are they talking Erin, or is it like live Stevie
Wonder saying, is it magic?

MCPIKE: He has to back up the party standard barrier which is Mitt
Romney, but whether they`re talking or not, they are at least correlating
on messaging in terms of watching each other. And I would point out to you
this, just the other day, the Romney campaign put out a big document saying
how under President Obama, the economy has failed for young Americans. And
later that same day, Mitch McConnell`s office, the Senate minority leader
and John Boehner`s office put out very similar documents trumping some of
those same statistics and talking points. So, they`re trying to back each
other up at least on parallel messaging.

SHARPTON: Steve Kornacki, Erin McPike, thank you for your time.


SHARPTON: Ahead, 20 years after the l.A. riots, we`ll talk to
somebody who called for calm and look back now how it changed the country.
That`s next.


SHARPTON: We`re back now on POLITICS NATION with more on the legacy
of the Los Angeles riots following up our earlier interview with Rodney
King. Joining me now is L.A. county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. In
1992, he was a freshman city councilman who joined then May Bradley (ph) in
an appeal for calm.


the kind of stuff that knocks you to your knees.

This struggle is not every yet. We`re a people of purpose, a people
of dignity.


SHARPTON: Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Thank you for joining me
tonight. It`s been 20 years, the beard is gone, but you`re still out here
this weekend telling people we need to finish the journey for justice, but
we need to do it peacefully, your days of dialogue, what have we learned in
the last 20 years, and has there been progress?

THOMAS: I think we have learned quite a bit. And I have to tell you
that I`m absolutely pleased to be here tonight, and you`re just on the
case, and it`s a clear sign of inspiration from Trayvon Martin, to the
witness for reconciliation and justice. And I think that`s what we`ve
learned. We`ve learned that we can be stand up in our convictions and do
it with the kind of imagination that leads to constructive consequences.
That`s the big lesson, and we need to teach that, preach that, and practice

SHARPTON: Now, when you were speaking in that footage, and May
Bradley was there, you did not know at that time that the city was already
starting having riots and burnings at that time.

THOMAS: I did not know at that time. One of the newsman held a
monitor up and said, "The city is on fire." And it got our attention, and
the mayor and several other religious leaders, Dr. Thomas Kilgore (ph), the
Reverend Jian Losy Jr. (ph), Dr. Seso Lochip Mary (ph). We were at the
first African Methodist Episcopal Church for huge rally because we wanted
people to understand that we had to seize the moment. Not in reaction to
the beating of Rodney King, we had already experienced all of the
convulsions in our own spirit about that, but it was in response to a
verdict that essentially compounded the injustice that we already felt.

SHARPTON: Now, U.S. County supervisor now have worked with police,
and tried to really deal with -- and we still have a lot of police
community issues, tensions that we`re dealing with all over the country.

THOMAS: That`s right.

SHARPTON: But you`ve tried to create a level of how we create
dialogue and real change.

THOMAS: That`s exactly right, and we have neutral space and we have
direct conversation with deputy sheriffs, with police officers, person to
person, no matter if it`s a matter of police misconduct. A shooting. And
we`ve had all of that. And this is a powerful way for people to recognize
that police officers are human, that can be held accountable on the basis
of our being accountable as well.

SHARPTON: Earlier tonight, I talked to Rodney King, he said this
about Trayvon Martin`s scream, he believes it`s him in the tape and his own
screaming. Listen to this.


RODNEY KING, AUTHOR, "THE RIOT WITHIN": I heard that same scream that
Trayvon Martin screamed on that videotape. It`s all too familiar. I can
remember 20 years ago, I was screaming from the top of my lungs because I
was that close, inches from death. And so, I know that -- I know that
scary empty lonely feeling when that baby boy was screaming like that.


SHARPTON: Difficulty for activist, people like you and I to come out
of a movement. How you communicate that pain without inciting more pain.
That`s the thin line you`ve got to try to walk.

THOMAS: It`s the essence of leadership. And I think your
credibility, sense of integrity has to guide you. But that scream, that
yell, is almost anthropological in the sense that it is primordial, it
comes from death of one being and it speaks to a whole group of people.

SHARPTON: Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, thank you for your time tonight.
All I can say is that we must never become the violent and insensitive
people that we challenge. Rodney said, we must become the change we seek.
I hope we never incite violence, but I hope we never give death to the
screams of those in pain. We have to hear those screams and correct
society. But we cannot destroy society in the name of that correction.

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


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