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PoliticsNation, Monday, July 30, 2012

Read the transcript from the Monday show

Guests: Alicia Menendez, Chrystia Freeland, Jim McDermott, Christopher
Broach; Rod Smith

Nation." I`m Al Sharpton.

Tonight`s lead, 99 days until the election. It`s exciting. Election Day
is just around the corner. It`s when we start to hear the fancy music.

I love elections. I love voting. And no matter who you plan to vote for,
the fact that millions of Americans are voting is a victory for our
democracy. Except this year is a different year. There`s a shadow over
this election.

Since 2010, 19 states have been enacted laws designed to make it harder to
vote. The vast majority of these were driven by Republican governors and
Republican lawmakers. Even as many of them admit there is little or no
evidence of voter fraud at all. And some of their actions, some of their
justifications are getting desperate and downright weird.

In South Carolina, attorney general Alan Wilson is defending his voter ID
law by pointing out it would not stop voter fraud.


ALAN WILSON, ATTORNEY GENERAL: If Alan Wilson goes in and uses a
fraudulent voter ID card in the name John Smith and then I vote under John
Smith`s name and then I leave the polling place. You cannot go back in
time and prove the negative. It is impossible.


SHARPTON: I think he`d like to go back in time and make that answer make
sense. I mean, what`s he saying? That we need voter ID laws to stop fraud
even though voter ID laws wouldn`t stop fraud? This is the same guy who
insisted that hundreds of dead people were voting in South Carolina. Of
course, the state election commission later said all those folks were in
fact alive.

Today there`s a growing -- also a growing concern about Florida. The state
that made hanging chards household phrase. Republicans have had their slew
of bills designed to limit voter turnout and participation. A movement
even the state`s former GOP governor Charlie Crist criticizes.


CHARLIE CRIST (I), FORMER GOVERNOR, FLORIDA: In Florida, we have a history
of having some pretty close elections. I think everybody remembers 2000
and how close that was. And so every single vote really matters. And the
notion and the idea of making it more difficult to exercise this precious
right that so many people have fought and died for, for our fellow
Americans and my fellow Floridians is unconscionable to me.


SHARPTON: And now the former chairman of Florida`s Republican Party is
saying that officials held meetings to talk about suppressing the black
vote. More on that in a minute.

But perhaps the most blatant attack on voting rights is in Pennsylvania.
Where right now Governor Tom Corbett`s voter ID law is literally on trial.
Accused of violating the state constitution for that trial which is now in
its fourth day, state officials have made a stunning admission.

They acknowledged quote, "there have been no investigations or prosecutions
of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania. Respondents will not offer any
evidence or argument that in person voter fraud is likely to occur in
November 2012 in the absence of the photo ID law.

Folks, voter fraud is the entire rationale. If there is no fraud, there is
no reason for the law. So, why are they doing it? Well, we don`t have to
guess. There`s one top Republican in Pennsylvania who accidentally let the
truth slip out.


allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.


SHARPTON: Joining me now is Christopher Broach, an election inspector in
Colwyn, Pennsylvania who says he`ll refuse to ask voters to take their ID -
- or had he will refuse to get this ID at the voting polling place even if
the ID law sand up and caught upheld in this court sessions. Also with me
is Rod Smith, chairman of the Florida Democratic Party.

Thank you both for joining me tonight to talk about this important issue.


Reverend Sharpton.

SHARPTON: Chris, let me start with you. Why are you taking such a firm
stand against this law?

BROACH: Reverend, Sharpton, this goes to my core beliefs in values that if
a government can ask citizens to violate a law which is a civil rights act
in order to enforce a law, then that law is no good.

SHARPTON: So you see this as a law that is really a law you have to stand
up against because it violates voter rights and civil rights?

BROACH: Absolutely.

SHARPTON: Now, what is interesting to me is that when you look at the fact
that the governor of your state in March claimed that voter ID laws would
not interfere with people`s right to vote -- let me play to you what he


GOV. TOM CORBETT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Contrary to some claims, this bill
does not interfere with anyone`s legal right to vote. It prevents people
from cheating in our election. Some have argued that there is no evidence
of voter fraud. I don`t necessarily agree with that. This is a law of
prevention. It is to prevent voter fraud.


SHARPTON: Now, it`s a law of prevention, he`s saying, which is conceding
there has not been widespread voter fraud. We can`t find any. But now in
court they`re saying they don`t expect voter fraud in November. So what
are they preventing?

And when he says it doesn`t prevent people from voting, we have as a fact
that 758,939 voters in Pennsylvania don`t have the voter ID that they have
this voter fraud, so-called voter fraud or ID law for. That would impact
9.2 percent of the voters that voted in the state.

That is, to me, amazing, Chris.

BROACH: Well, it`s actually more amazing to me, Reverend Sharpton, that
this same governor who can make all the statements that you just mentioned
actually did not know himself what forms of ID were required to go vote.
So, how could he make a claim this is going to protect voter rights and
protect voter fraud when he himself didn`t even know if he had the right
kind of ID to be able to go vote?

SHARPTON: So let me show the country what you`re talking about. When the
governor was questioned about the initial claims of voter ID fraud being no
big deal. He said quote, "studies show that 99 percent of Pennsylvania`s
eligible voters already have acceptable photo IDs when the fact is as we
just showed you, it`s 9.2 percent who don`t which going to you as a chair
in Florida. When you look at that figure 9.2 percent of the voters in
Pennsylvania don`t have the ID, not one percent as the present governor
said, when you look at it and find out 758,939 people don`t have the ID in
a very key and critical swing state, this could make a big difference in
the presidential election in November.

And then when we come down to your state of Florida where we see the same
kinds of problems, this could be decisive and undermining the democratic
process in this election.

SMITH: Absolutely. The numbers are going to be close in the number
states. Florida being one of them. It is always close in Florida. If you
can move the numbers just that much and that`s what the Republicans have
plan to do. They`ve been planning to do. That`s what they`re trying to
do. Then they could make the difference in - decisive difference to the
election and ultimately who becomes president of the United States. But
obviously we`re trying to prevent that as quickly as possible and using
some tactics that I think will work and strategies that should work.

SHARPTON: Now, I know of a lot of those strategies. I`ve been on the
ground in Florida. I`m coming back this week. Let me tell you something
that really caught my eye.

Former Florida GOP governor Jim Greer. In a deposition that has gone
public, he says and I`m quoting from the deposition that he stated under
oath, "political consultants and staff were talking about voter suppression
and keeping blacks from voting." He further states, "they talked about not
letting blacks vote and minority outreach programs were not fit for the
Republican Party."

This is a very significant statement for a former state chair Republican
Party of Florida to make under oath. Now, I understand there`s questions
he`s facing legal questions and all. But to say it`s under oath is
extremely troubling, wouldn`t you think so?

SMITH: Well, it`s troubling. Most troubling thing is it`s consistent with
what`s actually happened. There has been -- this chairman was there at a
time when he observed people making those kinds of statements. We know
that`s likely to have been the case. Because since 2010 there`s been a
consistent effort in Florida to suppress the vote particularly aimed at the
groups he`s believed at the time were being discussed and says were being

So, if you see the results and they`re consistent with what he said
occurred, I think it is easy to put together on that. I find it highly
credible and troubling. Troubling in the sense that anybody would sit down
as a party and talk about ways in which they could suppress votes or
eliminate people who were otherwise qualified voters. That`s a sad
commentary on politics.

SHARPTON: You know, Chris and Rod, we watched the Olympics all day here
today. So, let`s go to the data because everything is down to numbers.

In your state of Florida, Rod, out of 37 million votes cast, 178
allegations. That`s 0.0005 percent. And in your state, Chris, we have 13
cases out of 31 million votes cast. That`s 0.004 percent.

So, we have a solution looking for problem. We have some real attempts to
undermine in my opinion the democratic rights of all voters. White, Black,
Asian, Latino in those states. And I think it has to be resisted.

BROACH: Well, I absolutely agree with you, Reverend Sharpton. In fact,
one of the things nobody has been talking about that I`d like to bring some
attention to is the fact that no one`s questioning how one is to submit an
absentee ballot. And myself, I served six years in the United States
military and I`ve got a son right now just came back from Afghanistan.
He`s stationed in Colorado. He`ll be voting absentee ballot this year.
How`s he going to do that without identification? So I`m wondering if
there is a subliminal message that says if they`re going to get away with
this, are they going to get rid of absentee ballots also.

SHARPTON: Well, it`s a good question. So, I don`t understand if they are
so concern about voter fraud, why didn`t they have ID laws in the
Republican primaries and we just had a couple months ago in their own
primaries. Oh, but there was no fraud.

Christopher Broach and Rod Smith, thank you thank you for your time

BROACH: Thank you, too, Reverend Sharpton.

SHARPTON: Coming up, big news about Bill Clinton`s role at the democratic
convention and why policies matter.

Plus happy birthday, Medicare. A big day for nearly 50 million Americans.
But the programs under the greatest assault we`ve seen since Reagan.

And we`ve got the gold medal feud going on inside the Republican Party.
Dick Cheney says picking Sarah Palin was a mistake. Oh, yes. This is
about to get good.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.


SHARPTON: Folks, have you joined our community on facebook yet? The
conversation is going all day long.

Today, we were all celebrating Medicare`s 47th birthday.

Tina says "I`m very thankful to our government for giving this small bit of
security when we really need it."

Elsie had a warning for 234e program saying quote, "run from the GOP,
Medicare. Run as fast as you can or you`ll be chopped.

And Lashonda says "I promise it will be here for more years to come. There
are many who need this to stay healthy."

We want to hear what you think too. Head over to facebook and search
"Politics Nation" and like us to join the conversation that keeps going
long after the show ends. You`ll be glad you did.


SHARPTON: We`re back on "Politics Nation" with Mitt Romney`s big trip.
No, not his trip around the world. I`m talking about his latest trip over
his own tongue.

Romney has ignited another international controversy with a speech in
Jerusalem, talking about the economic differences between the Israelis and
the Palestinians. He said quote, "you notice such a dramatically stark
difference in economic vitality." And then he began citing a theory about
-- a theory about how culture defines economic success. Saying quote,
"culture makes all the difference. And as I come here and I look out over
this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I
recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things."

Romney`s comments came just hours after he met with the Palestinian prime
minister. So as you might guess, the Palestinians were not happy about it.
A top official said quote, "today he referred to us as an inferior culture.
I`ve never heard such a racist statement from any Israeli. This man needs
a lot of education. This man managed today to harm American interests more
than anything I`ve witnessed in the last three years."

But this wasn`t Romney`s only fumble over the weekend. He was actually
caught off guard when asked about his tax rate.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Was there ever any year when you paid lower
than the 13.9 percent?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I haven`t calculated that. I`m
happy to go back and look, but my view is I have paid all the taxes
required by law. I haven`t looked at the tax rate paid year by year. I
know that I pay a substantial amount of taxes in every year since the
beginning of my career so far as I can recall.


SHARPTON: Joining me now is former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, now
an NBC News political analyst. And Michael Steele, MSNBC analyst and
former chairman of the RNC.

Thank you both for coming on the show.

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC ANALYST: Good to see you, rev.

SHARPTON: Governor, let me start with you. How`s the Romney overseas`
trip going so far to you?

gift that keeps on giving. President Obama doesn`t have to do very much.
Just sit there quietly and listen to the governor.

Look, the problem with what the governor said is that the American
president has to take a lead role in trying to negotiate an eventual
settlement with the Palestinians. And as an American Jew I want to see
that crisis settled. Israel can`t go on forever in a state of alert and
state of war. They`ve got to get some stability and security. And that
means keeping your lines of communication open with both sides. Appearing
to be an honest broker with both sides. That`s what made president carter
so successful and President Clinton almost pull off the feat that would
have been a near miracle.

And Governor Romney has with that statement, and I don`t know if he thought
it out or meant it, cast so many aspersions on the Palestinian culture that
it`s going to be tough to recoup. Again, if he gets elected president can
he try to walk these things back and make it up? Maybe, but he`s starting
out in a deep hole.

SHARPTON: Michael Steele --


SHARPTON: How you doing tonight?

STEELE: I`m good, Reverend. It`s good to see you again.

SHARPTON: You still with Romney?

STEELE: Oh, yes. That`s my man. Absolutely.

SHARPTON: Would you explain to me --

STEELE: We`ll fight through it --

SHARPTON: Would you explain to me what he was thinking when he said today
about the culture difference. That`s your man. Explain it to me.

STEELE: No, no. I understand the point, and I would agree with the
governor`s assessment at this point. I mean, it makes it very difficult.

I mean, look. Even the campaign, Andrea herself did not go into
explanation of what the governor meant and why he said what he said. And I
think that again, those types of trip ups make it more difficult in the
longer scheme of things to really approach coherency. And sort of showing
the consistency or even a departure from this administration`s, you know,
foreign policy if you will, even though that foreign policy has been fairly
consistent with what Republicans are going back to George Bush have tried
to accomplish there.

I think overall, whenever you give them these topics, you want to stay or
you just met with the prime minister. You want to stay as broadly as
possible. Don`t do the analysis. Don`t do the analysis and try to tie
into other things. Because that`s where it becomes a greater slippery
slope. As we even saw on the Olympics last week. So, I can`t really
offer, to be very honest, any assessment because I wasn`t there, don`t know
what the thinking was. Because even the campaign at this point have not
given that clarification.

SHARPTON: But let me ask you Michael. I understand you don`t know what
the thinking was, but do you think he owes the Palestinian people an

STEELE: I don`t know -- yes. I think you need to clarify. I mean, you
know, if there was - certainly when anyone takes your remarks as an
aspersion against them, I thought the aide to the president was very, very
clear about how they felt about those remarks particularly on the heels of
after meeting with Mr. Romney.

So, you need to come back and you need to put either give it context or an
outright apology just so that you don`t want to start off your presidency
should you be elected with that kind of unnecessary tension. There`s
enough tension in the Middle East. You don`t need to create or give great
excuse for newer tensions when you come to office.

So yes, I think that there should be some kind of walking back, some
clarification there. You were not attacking the culture. You were not
saying that you were less capable --

SHARPTON: Even though you were.

STEELE: Again, without the context, Rev, I can`t really say. I don`t

SHARPTON: All right. I understand. We don`t have the context, but we
have the words.

But governor, with the Olympics it was this. With the culture it`s this
now, not knowing about his taxes whether it was 13 percent or whatever.

I mean, how is he doing on the big stage? This was supposed to be the trip
to show the American voters he could handle the big stage. He could handle
international diplomacy. How did he do, Governor?

RENDELL: He graded President Obama once earlier in the campaign. He gave
them all F`s. If there is a grade this is F-minus.

But look, you and I discussed this, Rev, last Thursday. And I said, these
gaffes individually aren`t crushers, they`re not game changers. But I said
on Friday that eventually they start to add up and it almost becomes a
caricature of who you are. It becomes what people know about you. And I
said on Friday that Governor Romney is coming close to reaching the
saturation point. If I were Governor Romney, I`d pray you wake up tomorrow
and it would be the conventions. He gives his speech, the debates. All of
those things where he has a chance to do something in the significant
arenas. Because in these day to day things, he`s just terrible.

And I say that with someone from someone who knew him when he was governor.
Had respect for what he did including his terrific health care plan. And
it`s getting to the point again, my colleague said, and I heard it say that
these things aren`t lasting and they aren`t game changers and that`s true.
But the cumulative weight of them, it`s going to finally put in America`s
mind, these guys not ready for primetime. That`s a difficult hole to dig
out of.

SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you this, Michael.


SHARPTON: An easier one because I know you weren`t over there and couldn`t
possibly explain that one.

He also told ABC news last night that he`d been audited by the IRS. Quote,
"from time to time I`ve been audited that I think happens I think to other
citizens as well." And clearly millions of us are audited. But then he
also told them that he was careful. Let me let him say it and you explain
to me what this means.

STEELE: All right.


ROMNEY: I don`t pay more than I legally do. And frankly if I had paid
more than are legally due, I don`t think I`d be qualified to become
president. I think people would want me to follow the law and pay only
what the tax code requires.


SHARPTON: So he doesn`t pay more taxes than he legally should because
people wouldn`t think he`d be qualified if he paid more. So he tries to
pay less.

STEELE: Well, he pays what he`s required and legally obligated to pay. I
mean, that`s the --

SHARPTON: But he won`t release them for us to see.

STEELE: Well again, that`s a legitimate question that a number of people
have asked yourself included and me included. I think at this stage of the
game, you know, the politics of this is so overwhelmed the facts here that
you just release the things and move on for goodness sake.

So, you know, again, this dancing on the pinhead to the governor`s point is
like the death of a thousand cuts. It`s just one more self-inflicted
wound, one more reason to talk about the taxes. One more reason to cast
doubt on his efforts. And I think the campaign starting with this trip
last week was hoping for a fresh start. This has now become more muddled
and more complicated than it should have been and unnecessarily so, I mean,
in respects.

So hopefully, you know, the conversation as it comes to the tail end of
this thing will turn and revert another thing. But answering questions
like that without the evidence and the proof to show your point meaning the
tax returns, just makes it much more of a talking point for others to talk

SHARPTON: We`ll see what he does before he gets home, Michael.

Thank you governor Ed Rendell and Michael Steele.

And Michael I was hoping you`d be in the New York studio tonight because
you`re one of my favorite Republicans. And today I felt you needed a hug.


STEELE: Thank you, Rev.

SHARPTON: Coming up, bill Clinton`s big role at the democratic convention.
Who better to hype up a crowd than a former president? Meanwhile on the
Republican side, George Bush is sitting this one out.

And look out below. It`s the Mitt Romney gaffe protection squad. Actually
not. Your summer break is ahead.


some Olympic fever. And an amazing thing happened at Friday`s opening
ceremony. A whole section of the program was dedicated to one of Britain`s
great achievements. Universal health care. Hundreds of real nurses joined
in paying tribute to a system that provides care for all citizens.

Folks, it`s safe to say that program was not choreographed by
Republicans. What do I mean? Well, 47 years ago today, President Johnson
signed Medicare into law. And even before that bill made it to his desk,
Republicans tried to tear it down. Just ask Ronald Reagan.


RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Behind it will come other
federal programs that will invade every area of freedom as we have known it
in this country. Until one day as Norman Thomas said, we will awake to
find that we have socialism. One of these days, you and I are going to
spend our sunset years telling our children and our children`s children
what it once was like in America when men were free.


SHARPTON: LBJ`s opponent in the 1964 election, Senator Barry
Goldwater, said quote, "having given our pensioners their medical care in
kind, why not food baskets? Why not vacation roadway resorts? Why not a
ration of cigarettes?" Funny, Senator, I still don`t see the government
handing out cigarettes.

Come 1996, Newt Gingrich said, we believe Medicare is going to wither
on the vine. Forty seven years later, it`s still under attack.
Congressman Paul Ryan has put forth a budget that would turn Medicare into
a voucher program, raise the eligibility age to 67, and force seniors to
pay $6,400 more for coverage. It`s that same Mr. Ryan who spent the
weekend campaigning for his man, Mitt Romney. And boy is that feeling
mutual. Willard loves the congressman and his plan for Medicare.


excellent piece of work and very much needed. I spent a good deal of time
with Congressman Ryan. When his plan came out, I applauded it as a very
important step. This is guy willing to stand for something.


SHARPTON: Well, here`s what Ryan stands for. He wants to radically
change the program that serves nearly 50 million Americans. One that has
already saved seniors almost $4 billion in prescription drug costs. He
stands for altering something that President Johnson heralded 47 years ago


Americans be denied the healing miracle of modern medicine. No longer will
illness crush and destroy the savings that they have so carefully put away
over a lifetime so that they might enjoy dignity in their later years. And
no longer will this nation refuse the hand of justice, to those who have
given a lifetime of service and wisdom and labor to the progress of this
progressive country.


SHARPTON: Joining me now is Congressman Jim McDermott, democrat from
Washington. Congressman McDermott, first, thank you for your time this

REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D), WASHINGTON: It`s good to be here, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you this. It`s been 47 years and yet
Republicans are hammering away against Medicare. Why are they going
against 50 million Americans?

MCDERMOTT: They recognize Reverend that the people need and want the
security of knowing if they`re sick or injured they`ll be taken care of.
And they know that the government that gives that to the American people
will be returned to office again and again and again. They have no concern
about the people or their security. They just want to have control.

And they have been trying to stop Medicare and then repeal it. I was
in medical school when this law went on and Ronald Reagan was running
around the country talking about communism and scaring people out of their
wits. And they`ve been doing it and they`re still doing it today because
they know Barack Obama started health care for everybody in this country.

And if what they did for Medicare for old people, it`s done for the
rest of the people, well, the Republicans will never get re-elected.
People should be listening. Because they`re telling you exactly what
they`re going to do after this election. If Romney were to win, they would
repeal Medicare as we know it and they would repeal the affordable care
act. They simply do not want to give people any security. They want to
keep them on edge all the time.

SHARPTON: Yes, but Congressman, but they keep talking a lot about
protecting our seniors. Protecting our seniors. Listen to this.


ROMNEY: We will protect America`s seniors and America`s young

our budget will protect seniors.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: My mom relies on Medicare. We owe
her and all of our seniors a better program, one that they could actually
count on.


SHARPTON: But when you look at the Ryan plan, it would put a huge
burden on the seniors that they`re trying to protect. All the while
they`re helping the wealthy. It would force seniors to pay $6,400 more for
Medicare while giving millionaires an average tax cut of nearly $265,000.
I mean, this is absolutely the most blatant contradiction you could see
when it comes to taking care of our seniors.

MCDERMOTT: You`re very kind, Reverend, in calling it a blatant
contradiction. It is misleading in the worst sort of way. They simply are
not bothered by the truth. The numbers you`ve given are the absolute
correct ones. But they continue to say whatever they think will convince
people to vote for them. And that they give this blanket we`re not going
to hurt anybody. Nonsense.

They are intending to shift the cost on to seniors and their families
and not make it a national issue, but make it your individual
responsibility again like it was before Medicare in 1965. It is awful what
they plan to do if they get re-elected.

SHARPTON: Now, what is also confusing to me, even if they don`t want
to deal with the fact that we certainly owe our seniors a lot and they`ve
invested in what they`re getting, the politics of it doesn`t make sense,
Congressman. I mean, when you look at the fact older Americans are a key
part of the electorate, isn`t the GOP hurting themselves by attacking

I mean, just look at citizens voting in 2010. Sixty one percent of
citizens age 65 and older voted in the 2010 midterms. Just 21 percent of
those ages 18 to 24 turned out. So, they`re really opposing and harming a
major voting bloc in this country.

MCDERMOTT: Any senior in this country, Reverend, who votes for the
Republicans really is not paying attention to their own best interest.
They are being told straight out what they`re going to do. And when they
do this, when they push off health care on to the families, it will be like
it was when I was a kid and my grandmother came to live with us before
Medicare. And there was -- my folks had to figure out how to pay my
grandmother`s bill.


MCDERMOTT: That`s the only way she got health care.

SHARPTON: Well, Congressman, I notice also that you have a birthday
cake to Medicare on your Facebook page and the caption says, like and share
if you believe we should protect the successful program that provides
health coverage for virtually every American senior. Thank you for that,
Congressman McDermott. And thank you for your time this evening.

MCDERMOTT: You`re welcome. It`s good to be here.

SHARPTON: Coming up, Bill Clinton`s big moment. Why Republicans
should be very worried. About the case he`ll make on the economy at the
democratic convention.

And we`ve got an Olympic sized fight brewing in the Republican Party.
Dick Cheney goes after Sarah Palin. This is getting fun. Stay with us.


SHARPTON: We`re back with a political pause from the battles of the
day. A time to relax, rest, relax and recharge. That`s right. It`s time
for the POLITICS NATION summer break. And we start in Japan where they`re
beating the heat with smoking hats. It`s a 400-year-old ritual where they
set fire to the ground of leaves and put them on their heads. Hundreds of
people took part in the tradition.

I wonder if Congressman Joe Walsh could use a hat to cool off. And
now to London. And the new Olympic sport of golf court long jumping. Just
kidding. But if this were an actual Olympic event, this guy wouldn`t have
made the cut. He starts off strong, but instead of sticking the landing,
the landing sticks him.

And now to Moscow. An 88 women free falling out of a plane. The
Russian sky diving team jumped out of four planes at the altitude of 20,000
feet setting new world record for women`s parachuting. I think we found a
new home for witness protection program. And that`s today`s summer break.


SHARPTON: Welcome back. The "New York Times" reports that former
President Bill Clinton will play a leading role at this summer`s democratic
convention. He`ll give a primetime speech. In 2008, Clinton got a rock
star greeting at the democratic convention. And why not? He left office
with a $236 billion budget surplus. President Bush and the Republicans
quickly turned that into an $11 trillion budget deficit.

Clinton offered a balanced approach that included raising taxes in
1993. That compared to the seven Bush/Cheney tax cuts. Twenty three
million jobs were created during Clinton years compared to a paltry three
million for Bush/Cheney. Policy matters. Results matter. Fairness

Joining me now is Alicia Menendez, a host of "HuffPost Live." And
Chrystia Freeland, editor of Thomson Reuters Digital. Great to have you
with us.

Alicia, let me start with you. This is a big deal. What do you make
of the decision?

ALICIA MENENDEZ, HOST, "HUFFPOST LIVE": I think this shows that
they`re trying to make a big argument -- Democrats are trying to make a big
argument that this isn`t just about the last four years. This is about
fundamental concepts of fairness, policies that support the middle class.
No one better able to articulate that and say listen, this is something
that Democrats have been committed to for one time.


MENENDEZ: These are policies that we`ve seen work before. When we
had eight years to implement these policies, we saw some of the numbers
that you brought up earlier in the segment. I think it also shows that
Chicago believes that a unified democratic base truly fired up going up to
November is absolutely critical for a win.

SHARPTON: Chrystia, what do you expect to hear from Bill Clinton`s
keynote address?

going to hear a lot about the middle class.

SHARPTON: Or his primetime. I don`t want to miscast it is.

FREELAND: I think we`ll going to hear a lot about the middle class.
So, I think one way to characterize what this is election is about is, who
is going to be better for the American middle class. And the sad reality
of the past three decades, three decades, that`s a long time, is overall
middle class have stagnated.


FREELAND: For one exception is when Bill Clinton was president. So,
I think he has a lot of credentials to say, you know what? The middle
class doesn`t have to fall behind. When I was President, that`s the one
period in most of our, you know, adult lifetime that the middle class was
doing better. And I think that`s what he`s going to focus on.

SHARPTON: Alicia, you talked about unity. But the Republicans will
not have their former president or vice president there. And whatever the
differences and there were a lot of differences and bickering, and bad
feelings including some expressed by me, they`re putting them aside at the
Democratic Party. But meantime, two of the biggest names in the GOP won`t
be at their party`s convention. Dick Cheney`s skipping his party`s
convention to go fishing. Amazing.

And George W. Bush won`t be there either. Remember his off-camera
endorsement of Romney from behind a pair of closing elevator doors? Well,
this is no surprise. The Bush/Cheney years left a smoldering mess.

Alicia and Chrystia, let me just ask you quickly. What do you think
about Bush and Cheney not showing up contrasting with Clinton giving the
primetime speech?

MENENDEZ: So, very quickly. It means the toxicity has not worn off,
in four years, it means they know they are bad for the republican brand.
They are staying away as much for themselves as for the party.

SHARPTON: Chrystia?

FREELAND: You know, I think it also shows something quite surprising
for me about the top Republicans. And we saw this in the Cheney/Palin
fight that broke out. They are known for being the well organized, unified
team. And I`ve been surprised at the level of public bickering that we`ve
seen going into the campaign. This should be an election that`s easy for
the Republicans to win. The economy after all is incredibly weak.

SHARPTON: Now, the fact that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama is going
to give this picture of unity and Bush and Cheney cannot do that, clearly
gives an advantage to the President. But do you also think the fact that
there`s been such statements made in the last day or so about Cheney with
Palin divides the party than more of the cost --

MENENDEZ: Cheney saying that Palin was a mistake?


MENENDEZ: First of all, I was surprised.


SHARPTON: But she does have a constituency in the Republican Party.

MENENDEZ: I agree and that`s my point. Which is I don`t understand
what the value add of his coming out and saying that now -- yes.

FREELAND: Yes. I think that`s a mistake by Cheney. And I do think,
you know, if you think about who Mitt Romney tactically should be going
after right now, it is the white working class. And that`s the
constituency that Sarah Palin appeals to. So, why this their heroin right
now? That is kind of mystifying to me.

SHARPTON: Alicia Menendez and Chrystia Freeland. Thank you both for
joining us tonight. And as Dick Cheney goes fishing, I hope the fish are
the only one biting the bait. We`ll be right back.


SHARPTON: I want to introduce you to two-year-old Ariana Prince
(ph). She`s recovering after a bullet grazed her leg yesterday during a
suspected drive by shooting here in New York. Five-year-old Nisel George
(ph) was killed by a stray bullet on June 26th as he slept on his
grandmother`s couch in Minneapolis. One day later, seven-year-old Heaven
Sutton was killed by a stray bullet as she sold candy with her mother in
front of the family home in Chicago. And last Sunday, four-year-old Lloyd
Morgan, Jr. was killed by a stray bullet after watching a basketball
tournament in a New York playground.

I`ll deliver his eulogy on Wednesday night. Those are some of the
victims of gun violence in America. Each year 10,000 people in America die
from gun violence. Ten thousand people. Year after year. Year after
year. When did this become acceptable?

Earlier today, the suspect in the Colorado Theater shooting was
charged with 24 counts of murder and 116 counts of attempted murder. There
is now some talk of new legislation. Two democratic senators are pushing a
bill to limit online sale of ammunition and a recent poll found that even
gun owners favor some gun control. Eighty two percent support criminal
background checks. Seventy six percent say, conceal weapon permits
shouldn`t be given to those who have committed violent crimes. And 85
percent say, gun rights should go hand in hand with public safety.

As we are burying babies, literally children caught in the crossfire
of people that are reckless and shameless and have little value of human
life, let us not continue to have the country in a crossfire of partisan
brinkmanship that put who wins the fight over the fact that the fight is
for the preservation of the American people. And that our children can
grow up and live productive lives. This is what`s at stake when we start
burying adolescents.

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


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