IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

PoliticsNation, Friday, May 11, 2012

Read the transcript from the Friday show

Guests: Richard Wolffe, Bob Franken; Mahlon Mitchell; Robert Burns; Chris Larson, Erin McPike, Steve Kornacki, Corrine Brown

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

Tonight`s lead, a question of character. We begin with a simple question,
who is Mitt Romney? He is asking millions of people to vote for him, and
learning the answer to that is essential for voters.

It all comes down to character. We`re learning he is apparently someone
that says he doesn`t remember a high school bullying incident that five
witnesses do remember. As reported by "the Washington Post," Romney is
allegedly to have held down a screaming classmate and cut off his hair with
scissors. Again, today, Romney apologized for something he says he doesn`t
remember doing.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was one who did stupid things
in high school. And if anyone feels that they were offended by that, I
certainly apologize for that.


SHARPTON: But a very different reaction comes from someone else involved
in the incident. Phillip Maxwell, a classmate who held the victim`s arms
and legs tells ABC News quote, "it`s a haunting memory when you see
somebody who is simply different taken down that way, and is terrified and
you see that look in their eye, you never forget it." Maxwell said he held
the boy`s arms and legs describing he and his friends as a pack of dogs.

A haunting for some, but for Romney it`s a PR headache and a political
campaign. This week we also saw Mitt Romney fail to rise to the occasion
on President Obama`s historic endorsement of marriage equality.

Back in 1994, Romney said he would be better than Ted Kennedy for gay
rights. But, tomorrow Romney will speak at Liberty University, a school
that bans gay students. Earlier this week, we also heard Romney took
credit for the auto bailout.


ROMNEY: The auto companies needed to go through bankruptcy before
government help, and frankly, that`s finally what president did, so I`ll
take a lot of credit for the fact that this industry has come back.


SHARPTON: Does the same Mitt Romney, who in 2008 thought we should let
Detroit go bankrupt, really think he deserves credit for saving the auto
industry? For all of these things it`s a question of character. And I`m
not the only one who is amazed by Willard. Journalist Joe Cline who
covered many elections says quote, "Romney has a near perfect record of
cowardice, obfuscation and downright lies. It shows enormous disrespect
for the intelligence of the public."

Joining me now is Richard Wolffe, an MSNBC political analyst. He is also
the author of revival, a struggle for survival inside the Obama White
House, and also joining me is Bob Franken, a syndicated columnist for
King`s Features.

Thank you both for joining us tonight.

Let me start with you, Richard. Richard, do you see a pattern in how
Romney responds to events this week?

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it`s been a terrible week
for him. There is a pattern right now in his non-apologies. The whole
construction, if anyone was offended, then I`m sorry. It`s really not
facing up to what should be a relatively easy story for him to dispatch

If he had a convincing life story to recount, he could butt that 17 or 18-
year-old period into some context, say he found himself out some purpose,
got serious with his life, but this stories are troubling and they do need
to be put into a biggest story line for this candidate which is failing to
do right now. It wasn`t just the kid he pinned down, what about the blind
teacher that he walked into a closed door. You know, abuse of someone who
is visually impaired is not hygiene, is not a prank as he tried to describe
it in these non-apologies. So, he has got to come up with a better account
for that period in his life and the rest of his life because biography is

SHARPTON: Now Bob, I think that`s the problem here. All of us could say
why go back to someone 18 years old, what they did in life, but the
reaction, his response, is like I don`t remember, even when graphic details
are described by others that were there. I think that`s the character
question people are saying is wait a minute, you don`t remember? I`m sorry
if I offended someone. I mean, I think that`s the question that we`re
dealing with.

BOB FRANKEN, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, first of all, the claim that he
doesn`t remember could feed the impression that many people have, that he
is either a liar or a deceiver. And I think that is a matter of degree
just a little bit. This is not the first instance where his credibility
has been questioned. As a matter of fact, it`s not even the first instance
since in the last week.

But beyond that, to dismiss as Richard said, all of this as a prank or a
hygiene - some sort of hygiene which for some reason going to be the word
come to mind, but to dismiss into something like this, when we`re talking
about what was arguably criminal assault and arguably something that if he
did remember, there should not just be an apology but some sort of
expression of shame. I mean, he should be ashamed of himself id these
stories are true. Somebody who is a bully as we now know can possibly have
a negative influence on a person`s whole life. It is a matter of fact the
victim of this assault is somebody who drifted through the rest of life and
died of liver cancer. You know, you would almost think that somebody who
assault guilty of bullying should carry a scarlet b on his head until he
meaningfully apologizes.

SHARPTON: Well, I think that what was interesting to me was again, not
just going back to the 18-year-old, what caught my attention is when he was
questioned, the seriousness of this as outlined in "the Washington Post,"
let me show you yesterday his first reaction.

Now, mind you, this was on the front page of "the Washington Post," with
his other classmates as eye witnesses and here was his reaction when he was
asked on radio about this?


ROMNEY: You know I don`t remember that incident, and I`ll tell you, I
certainly don`t believe that I, and I can`t speak for other people of
course, thought the fellow was homosexual. But as to the teasing and the
taunts that go on in high school, that`s a long time ago. For me it`s
about 48 years ago. So I, again if I there`s anything I said that was
offensive to someone, I`m certainly am sorry about that.


SHARPTON: So Richard, he is laughing through it. He is dismissing it, and
saying if anything I said -- when he is looking at the front page of the
Washington Post saying he assaulted a guy, led a blind teacher into a door,
what he talking about if there is something I said, you`re directly being
told this by four or five eye witnesses who went to school with you. Not
the kind of response you expect out of a leader.

WOLFFE: No. It`s surely thrown out his name. Remember all of this is
happening while at a time when his campaign had been actively trying to
knock down their story. So it`s not like they didn`t know this was coming.

You know, the bigger problem for Mitt Romney is not just telling his life
story because there are all of these holes in it. And it`s what he takes
from it. And you know if people connect these pieces of story to his
position, if people start to say well, now I understand why he thinks
corporations are people, because maybe people aren`t really people for him.
You know, that`s the real problem. It`s the narrative of his values this

SHARPTON: Now, let me go back to you, Bob, on another big story this week.
I think it`s much bigger story. The president came out and said that he
agrees, you know, with marriage equality, same sex marriage. And in the
past, Willard Mitt Romney has said, when he was running for the senate,
I`ll be bet tore gays than Ted Kennedy, who he was running against.

But tomorrow, he is speaking at an anti-gay university, Liberty University
which forbids openly gay students, and even banned a democratic club for
supporting same sex marriage and LBGT rights. You couldn`t have a more
contrasting point of view, and withdrew from a CPAC in 2010 to protest
inclusion of a gay rights group.

How do you read this contrast and give me the politics of it, Bob?

FRANKEN: Well, he seems to be going to the friendly confines of a
university noted for its gay hatred. There`s no other word to describe it.
And obviously, he has more than once now groveled in before the social
conservative which is a polite description with their hatred of gays. And
of course there is an obvious connection, when people say hey, that was 48
years ago. There seems to be a pattern that he is still really following
some of the same impulses he had in school, that is to say the relationship
with homosexuals.

SHARPTON: Now. Let me go to you Richard.


SHARPTON: And it`s -- I just want to ask you quickly, we show you this
pole. When you look at all of these character questions and positions,
look at how people view the president in terms of likeability all around in
comparison to Willard Mitt Romney. Easy going and likable, President Obama
54-18 for Mr. Romney, caring about average people, 52 percent to 22,
compassion and understands average people, 52 to 23. Consistent, stands up
for beliefs, 41 to 30. This is an NBC wall street journal poll April 13th
showing how people look at both of them.

Your response given all of this week, it may be much worse if we called it

WOLFFE: Look, this election is going to be decided on the economy. So
there are other things that trump all of those issues. But, voters are
being asked to vote for president on character issues because that`s the
best guts that judgment and likeability gets, not the most important thing
out there, but you have to live with these people them in your living room
for four years. They got to represent your idea of what this country
stands for. If you`re failing on those measures, no matter what your
economic policy is, you are going to be in trouble.

SHARPTON: Richard Wolffe and Bob Franken. Thank you both for your time
tonight, have a great weekend.

WOLFFE: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, President Obama hits the road and offers up some
tough love for Willard and his fellow Republicans.


same bad ideas will lead to different results than then did the last time.
We remember, we`re not going back there, we`re moving this country forward.
We`re moving forward.


SHARPTON: Plus, it`s the video everyone is talking about. A newly elected
Scott Walker caught on tape telling a billionaire donor his secret plan to
quote, "divide and conquer" unions. We`re live in Wisconsin.

And a powerful defense of voting rights in America from a living legend in
congress. It`s a must see.

You are watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.


SHARPTON: Sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a gun where no one
got hurt. It happened in Florida today. It`s outrageous. We will have
this story coming up.


SHARPTON: We`re back with the video that just might sink Governor Scott
Walker in Wisconsin. The video was shot by a documentary filmmaker showing
a newly elected Governor Walker in January of last year talking to a
billionaire supporter right before revealing his union busting budget plan


DIANE HENDRICKS, ENTREPRENEUR: Any chance we`ll get to be a completely red
state, get rid of the unions, be right to work? What can we do to help

GOV. SCOTT WALKER, WISCONSIN: We`re going to start in a couple weeks with
our budget adjustments. Well, the first step is we are going to deal with
collective bargaining for all public employees, divide and conquer.


SHARPTON: Amazing, can we see that again?


WALKER: We are going to deal with collective bargaining for all public
employees, divide and conquer.


SHARPTON: Divide and conquer. It`s doesn`t give more clear. We always
thought the talk of stripping unions solely to balance the budget and
create jobs was a joke. Now, we know for sure his plan to destroy unions.

Joining me now from Milwaukee is a Democratic state senator, Chris Larson,
and Mahlon Mitchell, president of the profession firefighters of Wisconsin
and a democratic candidate for lieutenant governor.

Thanks to both of you for joining me tonight.

State Senator Larson, let me start with you. What`s your response to this

STATE SEN. CHRIS LARSON (D), WISCONSIN: Well, it`s not surprising for most
of us that worked across from Scott Walker for a few years. That he has
always tried to divide, his always continue to try and divide. In this
case, you know, trying to divide public sector workers against themselves,
dividing public sector workers from private sector workers. And dividing
the middle class against itself. It`s no surprise that Walker is trying to
divide us, it`s a matter of whether to the people of Wisconsin, whether we
will be conquered or not or we want to be conquered.

SHARPTON: But it may not be a surprise, but let me push you a little on
this senator. But, he publicly said this was about the budget, this was
about other things, and he`s not playing at any of these angles as he has
to divide and conquer. So he has been very cynically saying to
Billionaires one thing, and the public that this was about fiscal
responsibility --

LARSON: Right. No, it`s shocking, again, that we have to find out the
truth about what Scott Walker really thinks by a conversation with a
billionaire because he says these things to the regular - to citizens of
Wisconsin and he is really thinking, he only tells to these elite group of
people. And again, he is caught red-handed.

As we try to address this with Walker, he continues to skirt the issue. He
still hasn`t answer to that basic question, is it for right to work
legislation with past and hit his desk if he would sign it or veto it. He
continues to try and back away from this question.

But, you are right. This is truly revealing of Scott Walker`s true
intentions to divide the state.

SHARPTON: Now, Mr. Mitchell, when he was confronted about the video today,
his response was quote, "it`s interesting to me that our opponents want to
rehash, replay the debate. I think the vast majority, myself included,
want to move on, move forward."

Move on, move forward. He is in the middle of a political battle about
this very debate.

to move forward in our state, but not with him. And if you go back to
January of last year and up on February, after the PACers won the super
bowl, our governor used the rhetoric like drop the bomb on the unions. We
are going to do it tomorrow.

And now, we see he talked about divide and conquer. Well, he is dividing
our state. He is breaking up our state. And we saw this last year`s fire
fighters when he made us exempt from budget to budget repair bill.

And we saw right away -- I`ve been saying the word divide and conquer for
the last year and a half and now we see it`s true. He won divide and
conquer as the firefighters and police officers stood strong with labor and
the middle class citizens of our state and we continue to do so.

I`m a firefighter by trade, Al. I`m a firefighter -- we bring people
together. We respond to people in emergencies and we compromise. And
that`s what we need in our state right now, and that`s why I`m running for
lieutenant governor for the state of Wisconsin.

SHARPTON: Now. Let me go back to the video, because let`s identify who
this lady is in the video. The woman he was speaking to in the video is a
big business Republican investor, a roofing entrepreneur worth $2.8
billion. Her name is Diane Hendricks. She donated $200,000 to Republicans
since 2008 including Tommy Thompson, John Boehner, and Paul Ryan, and
donated $510,000 to Walker`s campaign.

So this is the lady, Senator Larson, that he`s telling about his plans to
divide and conquer the unions. A lady that gave him about a half million
dollars and he is giving over $200,000 to other leading Republicans.

LARSON: Right. I mean, and this is his base. These are the people that
he`s going to try to appeal to. He`s continued to ignore the regular
citizens of Wisconsin even when they were showing up in groups of tens of

But to just be heard by apparently the only people he wants to talk to are
people like this, someone who is a multi-billionaire, someone who, you
know, who can write a check and fund his entire campaign.

I mean, the only credit I can give him for this is at least she was one of
the rich people who were in the state of Wisconsin. Over two thirds of his
money came from other places across the country. That`s his consistency
that he thinks he is trying to appeal to. He is trying to be this right
wing rock star, and that`s not what Wisconsin wants. Wisconsin wants
somebody that will bring us together. Listen to everybody. There is a
great picture going around, Al, of Mayor Barrett who is running against him
for governor going up to the protestors at his events, Scott Walker`s
supporters going up and shaking their hands and talking to them. That`s
what we need in a governor, not somebody who is looking for ways to divide

SHARPTON: Let me quickly go to you, Mr. Mitchell. The associated press
caught him on something that appears to be he has a little problem with the
truth. The Walker administration projected a budget surplus for the coming
year. But the associated press reported from yesterday points out that the
nonpartisan legislative fiscal bureau estimated in February the state would
finish the two-year budget period that ends June 30th of 2013 with $143
million deficit."

He is trying to put on a rosy picture for the election or what here?

MITCHELL: There`s no doubt about it. He is trying to get the department
of workforce development which is under his control, to fudge the numbers.
Again, our legislature fiscal bureau has estimated that over next ten
years, there will be $2.3 billion in mass of tax cuts to corporations and
top local investors in our state. But then, he balances is on the budgets
on the backs of middle class citizens of our state. Teachers, nurses,
firefighters, janitors. And he says we`re the problem.

And he has created this divisiveness, this divide and conquers, of the
haves and has notes. And we have to stop believing that senseless rhetoric
and realize that our governor has been going around national attention,
seeking national attention to get all of this money. He has raised $25
million since January.

So, we see who he is beholden to. He is beholden to massive mass of
corporation money. And we have to get him out of there. That`s why this
recall is so important because this is an investment for our future and
this is an investment for our state.

SHARPTON: All right. Thank you for your time. I have to go.

But, Mahlon, don`t worry. He is going to get a lot of national attention
right here on "Politics Nation."

MITCHELL: I like that.

SHARPTON: State Senator Larson and Mahlon Mitchell; thank both of you for
your time tonight. Have a good weekend.

MITCHELL: Thank you, Reverend.

LARSON: Thank you, Rev.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, President Obama hits the trail and offers Mitt
Romney a lesson in economics.


OBAMA: What governor Romney does not seem to get is that a healthy economy
doesn`t just mean maximizing your own profits through layoffs and unions.
You don`t make America stronger by shipping jobs or profits overseas.


SHARPTON: And today, a woman was sentenced to 20 years in prison is
raising more questions about how a justice Stand Your Ground laws are.

Stay with us.


SHARPTON: We`re back with our ongoing series here are the jobs.

Over the last five months, we featured more than 5,000 job openings. And
tonight, we`re happy to report that more than 1,000 people have been hired.
That includes 100 jobs TV maker element electronics, a company we first
featured in January. Element is bringing jobs back to America, giving new
hope to people who have been out of work for a long time.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s been hard on this, but we`re going to make it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: And TVs will be the beginning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely, everyone needs a TV.


SHARPTON: There is growth in manufacturing jobs driven mostly by resurging
car companies. Since last year, auto makers and parts suppliers have added
51,000 jobs, 12,000 of those jobs were added in the last three months.

Hyundai USA is part of the trend. The company is looking to feel more than
900 jobs this summer.

Joining me now from Montgomery, Alabama is Robert Burns, senior manager of
public relations at Hyundai.

on the show tonight.

Good evening, Al.

SHARPTON: Hyundai, I was getting ready to give your opening question to
you. Hyundai is adding 877 jobs right now in Montgomery, right?

BURNS: That`s correct, 877 jobs are going to be filled by this September,
and it`s an exciting time right here in Montgomery, Alabama.

SHARPTON: Now. Tell us about the job, what`s the pay scale and what type
of experience is needed?

BURNS: Well it`s going to be production jobs and maintenance jobs. So,
the production jobs have starting salary be $16.25 an hour, for the
maintenance jobs will be $22 an hour, so, between 33 and $45,000 a year
with great benefits to boost.

SHARPTON: Are these jobs calls backs of furloughed employees or new jobs?

BURNS: These are all new jobs. So, we have been running two shifts, 10
hours a day, five days a week, to keep up with demand for our Alabama built
(INAUDIBLE), and we needed to add this third shift to keep up with future
demand because yes, the automotive industry is rebounding right now.

SHARPTON: Now, yes. Because I see this plant is already running over
capacity. You`re selling cars faster than you can make them.

BURNS: Yes, that`s true. Our stated capacity for the plant was 300,000
vehicles a year. And with this additional shift we`ll go up to 345,000 for
the year 2012 to keep up with demand.

SHARPTON: Now, we have seen reports that Hyundai sales are up 10
percent, and Bloomberg reports that this is could be the best year for auto
sales since 2007. What`s driving this growth in your opinion?

BURNS: I think when you look at the overall industry, there`s some
pent up demand where consumers were holding off purchasing of vehicle to
the economy recovered. So, that`s part of the equation. Certainly, the
idea that we need to replace vehicles. But I think overall, the industry
is in a situation where they`re offering fuel economy, efficient vehicles
that will certainly drive the sales in the future.

SHARPTON: All right. If I`m watching and want to apply for one of
these jobs, how can I apply?

BURNS: Well, fortunately we work with AIDT, an organization through
the two year college systems, so they go to to apply. And they`ll
go to re-screening process. In fact, that`s screening process will begin
at the end of this month and continue through June. So, we really want to
fill those nearly 900 jobs in our facility again by September. There will
also be an opportunity when you look at the overall supplier base, they
will be adding jobs too. So there will be probably another 1,000 jobs
associated suppliers that feed parts to our facility.

SHARPTON: All right. Robert Burns, thank you for your time. Up
next, the President fires up the base during this West Coast swing, and a
man he`ll face in November throws down a challenge for the President. It
involves water skiing. You can`t make this stuff up.


SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. The President made huge
news this week with his historic announcements supporting same sex
marriage. But he is not losing sight of his chief priority, helping the
country recover from the economic crisis. At a fundraiser last night, he
defended his record and launched some tough attacks on Mitt Romney and the


PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: A crisis this deep didn`t
happen overnight, and we understand it won`t be solved overnight. We`ve
got more work to do. The last thing we can afford is a return to the
policies that got us here in the first place. Not now.


Not with so much at stake. We have come too far to abandon the
changes we have fought for these past few years. We have to move forward
to the future that we imagined in 2008 where everybody gets a fair shot,
and everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody plays by the same
rules. That`s the choice in this election, and Seattle, that`s why I`m
running for a second term as President of the United States of America.
What Governor Romney does not seem to get is that a healthy economy doesn`t
just mean maximizing your own profits through massive lay-offs or busting
unions. When you propose cutting your own taxes while raising them on 18
million families, that`s not a recipe for economic growth. It`s the same
agenda that they have been pushing for years. It`s the same agenda that
they implemented when they were last in charge of the White House. We
remember, we`re not going back there, we`re moving this country forward.
We`re moving forward. We`re moving forward.


SHARPTON: Joining me now is Erin McPike, a reporter for Real Clear
Politics. And Steve Kornacki, political writer for and MSNBC
contributor. Thanks to both of you for being here tonight.


SHARPTON: Steve, how does the President`s message on the economy we
just heard contrast with Mitt Romney`s vision?

STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM: Well, he is really all about it -- to sort
of, we look down to one word. I would say, it`s context. What Obama sort
of is relying on here is that he can convince voters to understand the
context of his presidency. What Romney is going for is basically, look at
the present day, the economy is not in the good place, look who the
president is, vote him out if you don`t like where the economy is. What
Obama is relying on here is, remember what it was like when I walked in.
Remember who was in-charge before me and remember what I inherited.

And it`s really kind of interesting to me because, you know, the --
of rule in politics is, you know, when the economy is really bad, the
incumbent gets blamed and that sort of thing. But we really don`t have a
modern example of a President who came to office inheriting an economy that
was in crisis the way this one was. And you know, the other general rule
in political science too is the longer a party has been in power, the more
the appetite builds to throw that party out. So, you know, you had a bad
economy with George Bush, Sr. with president. That was 12 years of
republican rule, people were really eager. It`s only been four years at
this point. So, we really have not tested a situation like this before and
I really don`t know where it`s going to go.

SHARPTON: Erin, today, Willard was in North Carolina and he gave his
supporters a good look at what his priorities would be as president. Watch
this and give your reaction.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: One of the first things he
did when he signed the stimulus was to say that all of the federal projects
have to be done by union labor, all right? And we believe in freedom in
letting people choose whether or not they will be part of unions. If I
will become president, I`m going to cut federal spending, I`m going to take
some programs and get rid of them, I`m going to take a number of them like
Medicaid, and housing vouchers, and food stamps and workforce training
programs, and take those dollars and give them back to the states. One
thing I knew those liberals old schools liberal would love as a dream come
true as Obama-care. And if I`m president, we`re going to get rid of it.


SHARPTON: Those are his clear and in my opinion pointed priorities,

MCPIKE: They are, but look. Mitt Romney`s biggest selling point in
this campaign in the current environment that we`re having this election
in, is that he is a budget cutter. He was a budget cutter when he was
running the Olympics, when he was in the private sector, and again, as
governor. Now, a lot of people don`t want their programs to be cut.
People in general don`t like big bloated government in theory but they like
the individual programs that they have. In one way, I mean, good for Mitt
Romney that he is being a little bit more honest about the programs he
wants to cut if he is president, but the people that benefit from some of
those programs might not want to vote for him after hearing that. It`s
unlikely that they would anyway, but we do know that he wants to cut

SHARPTON: What about Erin, the booing when he talked about the

MCPIKE: Right, I mean that -- that is a very partisan divided kind of
issue. And of course, unions tend to come out for Democrats in large form
on Election Day, and unions will be out for the president in a big way this

SHARPTON: Now, we got a little news today that could be something
that would make people remember what you were talking about, Steve, about
how we got in a crisis. The banking news today from JP Morgan Chase, JP
Morgan Chase lost $2 billion in six weeks. We don`t know other than it
affecting of course JP Morgan and some of the stock, but it also reminds us
when we start to hear about these companies that were infallible, how they
started dropping. How do you think this news plays out politically?

KORNACKI: Well, I think it brings up two things, one it reminds you
of how we got in this mess, but the other thing that brings up is what
Obama did to try to avert situation from happening again. And that`s Dodd-
Frank bank reform bill that he passed. And that Mitt Romney says, he will
repeal as president. That is a good sort of, you know, talking point,
that`s been a good talking point for Romney because he`s sort of outlines
these broad themes that are going to see well when the economy is bad.
I`ll do away with Obama-care. I`ll do away with Dodd-Frank. You know,
that sort of thing. It broadly sort of conceptually that works. The enemy
for Romney is specificity. And what this story with JP Morgan Chase does
is introduces specificity into this. OK, Romney, you`re against Dodd-
Frank, you`ll do away with it, you think people be angry at it. But, you
know, what?

Dodd-Frank calls for the implementation of the Volcker rule which
they`re sort of -- the Volcker rule. Now, the Volcker rule, if implemented
would probably have prevented what we just saw. The news we`re just seeing
from JP Morgan Chase. So, OK, Mitt Romney, you won`t repeal it. If you
repeal, you`re doing away with something that we have prevented this, what
will you replaced it with. He has not, whether it`s healthcare, whether
it`s bank reform, he is only relying on people going to get rid of things
when he has to start being constructive, he`s going to get us in trouble.

SHARPTON: Erin, when we look at how Americans feel about the
President`s economic policies, the auto bailout, 49 percent approved. The
44 percent disapprove. Financial reform, 48 percent approved. Forty five
percent disapproved. Stimulus, 47, 49. It seems that there is an economic
challenge for the President to get his message across. Yet when you hear
Steve talk about the news today with JP Morgan Chase, with Romney talking
about he would repeal Dodd-Frank, and not really saying why he would not
have the Volcker rule, which may have avoided this, does this maybe start
tipping the President`s way?

MCPIKE: I think that`s why we`re seeing the President talk about
certain economic policies in certain places. When he goes to Ohio and when
he goes to Michigan, he`s going to be talking about the auto bailout. It
has saved jobs in both of those states. We`ll hear about different reforms
in different places. And that can tip the President`s way, that`s true.
Mitt Romney is talking in a broader context, and that can help him with
national polls, but when you start drilling down in some of these
battleground states and individual polls, then the President does a little
bit better.

SHARPTON: Erin McPike and Steve Kornacki, thanks and both of you have
a great weekend.

KORNACKI: Thank you.

MCPIKE: You too.

SHARPTON: Ahead, sentenced to 20 years and President for firing a
gun when no one got hurt, it happened today in Florida, it`s outrageous.
Congresswoman Brown confronted the prosecutor about it today. She joins us
next. Stay with us.


SHARPTON: There`s a shocking case in Florida that I want you all to
know about. It`s raising yet again troubling questions about the state`s
criminal justice system. Thirty-one-year-old mother, Marissa Alexander was
sentenced today to 20 years in prison after an incident involving her
abusive husband. Alexander says, her husband tried to strangle her after a
fight in 2010. She says, she got a gun and fired a warning shot into the
ceiling. Prosecutors say she aimed lower. But no one was in it.
Alexander`s lawyer say, she was in fear for her life and tried to use the
controversial stand your ground law in her defense.

But a judge rejected that defense saying he didn`t think it met the
standards of the state`s stand your ground law. But that`s the problem
with this law. The standards are so vague and open to interpretation that
it can be rejected for a case like this but accepted for others. The end
result is that this young mother of three children, who was married to a
man with a history of violence against her, will spend 20 years behind
bars. Florida Congresswoman Corrine Brown was at the sentencing today and
she was outraged after she confronted the prosecutor about this case.


REP. CORRINE BROWN (D), FLORIDA: I found out about this case in
Washington. Reporters came to me about this case, and they compared it to
what was going on in Sanford. And yes, and the fact is, if there was a
stand your ground case, it`s this one. Wait a minute.


BROWN: And the judge denies stand your ground in the case. In this
case, that`s right. But my feeling is, that your office initially
overcharged her in this case. This is my feeling. This is my feeling.
Let me -- but we can`t try it here.


SHARPTON: This case was about justice, can anyone today honestly say
that justice has been done?

Joining me now is Congresswoman Corrine Brown who you just saw in
that video. Congresswoman, this was a stunning day to say the least.

BROWN: I tell you what, you know, I think I`m a pretty tough lady,
and I cried the whole time. Here is a woman with a master`s degree, never
been in any trouble whatsoever. Convicted 20 years, no one got hurt. This
is unbelievable. And yet, Friday, in this same area, Jacksonville,
Florida, someone convicted of murder got 15 years.

SHARPTON: And she got 20 years.

BROWN: Twenty years and no one was hurt.

SHARPTON: Now, let me just, and we did this story a few days ago,
but let me just, for those that may not have watched, Alexander`s husband,
the young lady`s husband, admitted that he was abusive when he did his
deposition in 2010. This is what he said. This is Alexander`s husband.
Quote, "I`ve got five baby mamas, and I put my hands on every last one of
them except for one. I physically abused them, physically, emotionally.
They never knew what I was thinking, what I would say, or what I might do."
The night that she fired these two warning shots, he had told her that if I
can`t have you, nobody will. How is this not standing your ground,

BROWN: Well, first of all, it was one shot that was fired. And at
the time of that one shot, there was a restraining order against him. So
you tell me how this is not -- and she had a baby and the baby was nine
days old. I mean, this is the worst case I have ever experienced in my
entire life. And the problem is, the judge had no discretion. All of the
discretion is what the prosecutor, that`s the problem and itself.

SHARPTON: Now you have the Florida 10-20 law mandated that the judge
had to give a harsh sentence once she was convicted. The state mandates a
minimum 20 year prison term when a firearm is discharged in the cause of a
felony. That`s the law. Now, you`ve got this 2010 law combined with the
stand your ground law, this is amazingly unfair as it appears to me on the

BROWN: Listen, this is what`s wrong with the criminal justice
system. You count on mercy and fairness, and it did not exist today. It
did not exist.

SHARPTON: Now, Congresswoman, we, I said in the intro, that we dealt
with Florida, you and I, on the case of having the arrest of George
Zimmerman, something that we felt was justified. You put out a statement
today, let me read it. Says the Florida Justice System has sent two clear
messages today. One that if women, if women who are victims of domestic
violence try to protect themselves. The stand your ground law will not
apply to them. Just minutes before the incident, Marissa`s husband said to
her, if I can`t have you, nobody is going to have you. Millions of abused
women have heard these words. The second message is that, if you`re black,
the system will treat you differently. Tell me why you feel that this is a
message to women and a message about race.

BROWN: Well, I asked for a comprehensive study, and the caucus is
working on that. Because basically in talking to the attorneys, there is
nowhere that they we can find that stand your ground works if you are
African-American or black in Florida. And so, we want to find out if it
works anywhere. I think 20 other states have it. So, basically this
message is that stand your ground is not for African-Americans, that`s the
first thing. And second, where was the mercy. Here you have a person, and
a lot of times we talk about cases that you have been in trouble. And that
you`ve been involved in the criminal justice system. This young lady has a
master`s degree, never been in any trouble, but what was real said is the
number of women that came and testified, that how they were abused, and
kept coming back to the abuse. This young lady had a baby 9-days-old when
this transpired. This is unheard of. When you look at it, you got to
feel, it`s got to be more choice.

SHARPTON: Florida Congresswoman Corrine Brown, thank you for joining
us tonight. I`m sure that all of the stand your ground supporters were
there rallying around Ms. Alexander. Where was the NRA? Where was ALEC?
Where were all of the people that screamed to us that people had the right
to defend themselves. This woman doesn`t qualify for your support? That`s
why I`m against this law but I`m even more against when you have double
standards and how you apply laws that are vague and that lock people down.


SHARPTON: We`ve talked a lot about republican efforts to suppress
the vote in this election. This week GOP Congressman Paul Brown of Georgia
introduced an amendment to gut funding to enforce the voting rights act.
Specifically the portion of the law that protects minority voters. But
then Congressman John Lewis, an icon of the civil rights movement rolls to
the house floor and offered this powerful emotional critique of the


REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: It`s shameful that you would come here
tonight and said to the Department of Justice that you must not use one
penny, one cent, one dime, one dollar to carry out the mandate. People
died for the right to vote. Friends of mine, colleagues of mine.


SHARPTON: Following that speech, Brown withdrew his amendment. When
I heard about it this week, and saw Congressman John Lewis, God bless him
stand-up. I thought about Sunday is Mother`s Day, and when Brown withdrew
it, that was a Mother`s Day gift to -- Luisa (ph) who lost her life
fighting for voter`s rights. A Mother`s Day gift to Coretta Scott King --
and others have fought and marched for it. I thought about as we
celebrated Mother`s Day this Sunday, it will be the first Mother`s Day I
lost my mother a few weeks ago. And she taught me to stand up and fight
for civil rights. All right.

Blacks, Latinos, whites, gays, lesbians, everybody deserves those
rights. I also thought about Sybrina Fulton, it will be the first Mother`s
Day she won`t have her son Trayvon. If you have a mother, treat her well,
and wish her a Happy Mother`s Day from us. If you don`t, do what I will do
if your mother is gone. Make her proud. Do something especially this
weekend that will show the world how great your mother was by looking at
her product, you and I.

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


Transcription Copyright 2012 ASC LLC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is
granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not
reproduce or redistribute the material except for user`s personal or
internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall
user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may
infringe upon MSNBC and ASC LLC`s copyright or other proprietary rights or
interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of