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PoliticsNation, Thursday, August 16, 2012

August 16, 2012

Guests: Margie Omero; Rebecca Wilkins, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Nia-Malika Henderson, Terry O`Neill

"Politics Nation." I`m Al Sharpton.

Tonight`s lead, governor Romney breaks his silence on taxes. He`s
been under fire for months for refusing to release more than two years of
his tax return. The pressure has been building from both sides. From the
press and from Harry Reid.

And today speaking to reporters at south Carolina at an impromptu news
conference, he went there.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Given the challenges that
America faces, 23 million people out of work, Iran about to become nuclear,
one out of six Americans in poverty. The fascination with taxes I paid I
find to be very small minded compared to the broad issues that we face.
But I did go back and look at my taxes. And over the past ten years I
never paid less than 13 percent. I think the most recent year is 13.6
percent or something like that.

So, I`ve paid taxes every year. Harry Reid`s charge is totally false.
But every year I`ve paid at least 13 percent. And if you add in addition
the amount that goes to charity, well, the number gets well above 20


SHARPTON: This is a big development. But we won`t be seeing any more

In an interview to air tonight on NBC`s "Rock Center," Ann Romney said
there`ll be no more tax returns.


ANN ROMNEY, ROMNEY`S WIFE: The more we release, the more we get
attacked. The more we get questioned, the more we get pushed. And so, we
have done what`s legally required and there`s going to be no more tax


SHARPTON: And senator Harry Reid`s camp responded today telling buzz
feed quote, "we`ll believe it when we see it. Until Mitt Romney releases
his tax returns, Americans will continue to wonder what he`s hiding." So
how will all this play out?

Joining me now is MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe. He`s the
author of "revival: the struggle for survival inside the Obama White House"
and Rebecca Wilkins senior council for Citizens for Tax Justice.

Thanks to you both for being here tonight.


SHARPTON: Richard, let me start with you. What do you make of the
announcement today?

WOLFFE: Well, he knows how to drag this out right? He is making this
is so much more painful that it needs to be. If indeed he has nothing to
hide and that he`s been paying taxes at a respectable albeit low rate for
the last ten years, then he should put the returns out there.

But the cost politically to him is considerable. It looks like he`s
still hiding something. It looks like he`s doing it from a position of
privilege. I know something, you don`t need to know it. And by the way,
he`s wasting his wife`s political capital. She, as the candidate spouse,
shouldn`t be talking in this way about this kind of subject. She should be
reaching out to voters that her husband cannot reach. So, honestly
politically it`s a waste. And it`s head puzzlingly scratchingly awkward
and curious as to why they`re doing this.

SHARPTON: Awkward and curious, head scratching. Do you think this
was calculated or it was spontaneous? Because it was an impromptu press

WOLFFE: You think he us a spontaneous candidate? I don`t think
anything that came out of his mouth today wasn`t rehearsed five, ten times
in front of his advisers. That was very careful language.

SHARPTON: But why now? Why didn`t he do this before and shut this

WOLFFE: Exactly. Why now? His big message with the white board was
about Medicare and about his VP pick and about this bigger issues. Why
now? That could be the bumper sticker on this whole campaign.

SHARPTON: Let me go to you, Rebecca. He says he paid at least 13
percent in taxes over the past ten years. If that percentage is correct,
is that fair? I mean, when you look at the fact that he`s worth an
estimated $250 million, if he paid 13.9 percent in 2010. But a worker who
earned $60,000 a year pays 29.9 percent in taxes on average. So given the
percentage he said today he did over the last ten years, is it fair?

Al. And it`s a perfect illustration of what`s wrong with our tax system.
The primary reason that Romney`s paying such a low rate is that most of his
income is from capital gains and dividends. And we tax income from wealth
at a much lower rate than we talk income from work.

If you work for a living, you`re going to pay about twice as much
federal income tax as somebody with the same amount of income from wealth.
And it doesn`t matter how much you make. Whether it`s 60,000 or 60
million, you`ll pay twice as much federal income if your income is from
work. And then you will pay payroll taxes on top of that.

SHARPTON: So, what he says is he paid 13 -- over 13 percent, does
that mean that there could be other income that was not taxable like these
offshore allegations or the fact we know he did have offshore companies.

I mean, what does that -- could there be a way around this with
various tax shelters and other things that really don`t reveal totally what
the income and what was taxed and what was not?

WILKINS: Well, there`s a lot of types of income that aren`t taxable
but don`t show up on your income tax returns. Income earned by an
individual retirement account, for one, and we know from his financial
disclosure forms that his IRA has at least 20 million and maybe as much as
$102 million in it. And all of the earnings on that is not being taxed.

I`m also noted when he talks about it, he doesn`t say federal income
taxes. He says he paid taxes of 13 percent. Is he throwing in sales taxes
and property taxes and all other kinds of taxes? Is he including his state
income taxes? Because Massachusetts has about a five percent tax rate? So
I think the language that he`s using is intentionally vague.

And again, I agree with Richard that we really won`t know until he
shows the tax returns.

SHARPTON: Where does this go politically, Richard? I mean, it`s been
back and forth, back and forth. Where does it go? Does it stop here?
Does it exacerbate? What happens?

WOLFFE: No, it does not stop here, because he keeps dribbling out
information. But actually, I think the debate moves on from the specifics
of his returns to his policies now. Because under - now, we`re talking
about budgets. Now we`re talking about his budget proposals versus Paul
Ryan`s budget proposals. Under both men`s budget proposals he`d be paying
even less. And so, the question here now comes into play of does his
personal position, his personal approach to taxes affect his judgment about
what taxes should be for the whole country?

And it should be a forward looking debate here. What is the right
level? Is 30 percent actually too much for someone as wealthy as Mitt
Romney? That`s where the debate I think should go and I think will go.
But along the way he is still going to face daily, weekly pressure from
reporters and everyone else, put out your tax returns.

SHARPTON: What do you think about Harry Reid? Is he going to get
involved in this again? He`s the one who had made the statement that he
had someone who had been connected to Bain that said he paid no taxes.

WOLFFE: Harry Reid an expert wrestler. He is not going to release
the hold he has got right now. But remember that Harry Reid, you know, I
said earlier this was a respectable but low rate. That`s probably because
Harry Reid set the bar so low at zero that anything above zero looks
respectable. So anything Harry Reid in some ways had him a favor. If he
thinks he has paid some taxes that he can justified again, put it out. But
Harry Reid isn`t going to give this up. He has just set the bar very, very
low for Mitt Romney to clear.

SHARPTON: Now, Rebecca, Mr. Romney said today that fascination with
his taxes is small minded. Yet 63 percent of people polled say he should
release more returns, 36 percent say he shouldn`t release more returns.

Is it small minded if you`re dealing with tax policy and you, in fact,
stating things that would affect people`s taxes in terms of the percentage
and you yourself may be paying what many would say is a low percentage?

WILKINS: I don`t think it`s small minded at all. I mean, it does
implicate what his decisions would be in terms of where our tax policy
goes. But it also goes back to the bigger question that he raised at the
beginning of his statement. And that is that we have all of these issues
to deal with. Well, the government has to have revenues to deal with those
issues. If a government can`t tax effectively, it can`t really do much of
anything else.

SHARPTON: Now, Richard, in this back and forth on taxes, this is more
about the percentage and the rate that Americans are going to be taxed and
the rate that he and Mr. Ryan are proposing more than dollar figures. I
don`t think this is about begrudging his wealth trying to find out numbers.
This is about a question of fairness.

WOLFFE: Right. Well, I think yes. Absolutely. Fairness is a big
part of this. But we`re also talking about two people, Mitt Romney and
Paul Ryan, who say we are the ones who can manage a budget responsibly.
We`re the ones who are going to bring down the deficit and balance the
budget. If you just did spending cuts; that might be true. But what they
also proposed is massive tax cuts across the board.

If you`re serious about balancing the budget, you cannot do both in
any reasonable time frame. That`s why it takes Paul Ryan three decades to
balance the budget. If you or I would say I`m serious about balancing the
budget. It`s going to take me 30 years to do it, everyone would laugh.

And so, that`s the question here. If you think tax cuts are the most
important thing even for people like Mitt Romney how can you sell yourself
as being fiscally responsible, someone who cares passionately about getting
the budget together? It`s a very hard thing to put together.

SHARPTON: Richard Wolffe and Rebecca Wilkins, thank you both for your
time tonight.

WOLFFE: Thank you.

WILKINS: Thanks.

SHARPTON: Ahead, the other big news out of Mr. Romney`s press
conference today. Him trying to explain his Medicare plan with a marker
and a white board. Well, I`m breaking out my own board tonight with
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Plus, Paul Ryan may be the darling of the right wing, but he`s
certainly not helping with the female vote.

All that plus the wide world of sports. I`ll introduce you to catfish
noodling and one of its biggest fans.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.


SHARPTON: Still ahead, looks like the big Ryan rollout didn`t quite
go as well as the Romney folks expected. So they`re trying to change the
conversation. Why it`s not working. Next.


SHARPTON: Welcome back to "Politics Nation."

Let`s be honest, folks. Ever since governor Romney`s big announcement
on Saturday, things haven`t been going well for the campaign. Suddenly
Paul Ryan`s budget is all anyone wants to talk about. So surprise,
surprise. They`re changing the conversation. As The New York Times points
out, the campaign is shifting focus. Forget jobs. Forget the economy.
This is the ticket`s new talking point.


ROMNEY: The president`s campaign is all about division and attack and
hatred. I think unhinged would have to characterize what we`ve seen from
the president`s campaign. It`s designed to bring a sense of jealousy and

Mr. President, take your campaign of division and anger and hate back
to Chicago and let us get about rebuilding and reuniting America.

Personal attacks and the kind of divisiveness that`s unbecoming.

partisan divisive climate we`ve had.


SHARPTON: Divisive? Anger and hate? They`re trying to drag the
president`s lack of ability down. But he`s not falling for it.


country talking about, how do we put people back to work. I don`t think
you or anybody who`s been watching the campaign would suggest that in any
way we have tried to divide the country. We`ve always tried to bring the
country together.


SHARPTON: Now, this new strategy from the Romney team is going to be
a tough sell.

Joining me now is Jonathan Capehart, opinion writer for "the
Washington Post" and an MSNBC contributor, and Margie Omero, Democratic

Thank you both for being here tonight.



SHARPTON: Let`s go to you first, Jonathan. I thought this was
supposed to be about jobs and the economy. How did things get so ugly?

CAPEHART: Things got ugly because Mitt Romney chose Congressman Paul
Ryan to be his running mate. At first, we`re all talking about how it was
a bold move, but after you say it was a bold move, you had to focus on why
it was a bold move. And it was because Paul Ryan is the author of the Ryan
plan. Two budgets that have been passed by the house since he became house
budget committee chairman, a plan that he has had on paper since January
2010 when he wrote a road map for America`s future as an op-ed in the wall
street journal. He put his ideas out there crystal clear. And it`s
provided a big target for Democrats and for critics to aim at. And we know
that the Ryan budget is a liability. Because we saw what happened in the
special election in New York in district 26 when Kathy Hochul was able to
beat a Republican in what was deemed a Republican safe seat because she ran
against the Ryan budget. Explicitly against the Ryan budget.

SHARPTON: She ran on that budget. You know in today`s "New York
Times," I was reading about a shift in the campaign`s tone. It says and
I`m reading from the article, "Romney is now running a campaign more
focused on energizing an anti-Obama coalition than on trying to expand the
universe of Romney voters with an argument that he is the most qualified
economic steward." Kind of a bit of a shift here.

OMERO: Yes, it makes a lot of sense. You have few undecided, you
have a lot of people who say they made up their minds and Mitt Romney has
been unfavorable. And that unfavorable for months now. So, as people have
gotten to know him, they have continued to not warm up to him. And so, it
makes sense for them I guess, from their perspective to try to muddy the
waters by saying well, the president`s unlikable also. But, it`s not
really going to work. I mean, people don`t really buy that about the
president. And when they learn more about the Ryan plan, they may
appreciate that he has a plan. That doesn`t mean they`re going to like the
actual plan. And they`re going to find that that`s really -- the Ryan
plan`s a campaign of hatred in its own right. It`s a campaign of
divisiveness and encourages people to turn on one another.

Well, in that last statement where she was talking about -- when
Margie was talking about their campaign being divisive, Jonathan, if you
look at the fact that they have had rhetoric throughout the late as a few
days ago, statements that were divisive. Listen to this.


called place of birth. I`d like to see what it said. Perhaps it`s going
to say Hawaii. Perhaps it`s going to say Kenya.

to punch us we`re going to punch back with brass knuckles. If anyone in
this debate has blood on their hands in regard to Medicare, it`s Barack

would learn how to be an American.


SHARPTON: Now, these are all Romney surrogates. One the chairman of
the party, the others spokespeople for him, others are supporter of his.
Then you contrast that with the fact that the president and the vice
president in terms of personal assessments have been positive about Mr.
Romney and Ryan. Look at this.


OBAMA: I know him. I welcome him to the race. Congressman Ryan is a
decent man. He is a family man.

he`s a good guy. He`s a decent guy.

OBAMA: Mr. Romney`s a patriotic American. He`s got a beautiful

BIDEN: He`s a decent man. And as is Romney. And I mean that

OBAMA: Congressman Ryan -- no, no, no. Congressman Ryan, I know him.
He`s a good man, beautiful family.


SHARPTON: So now, Jonathan, we know about the vice president`s chains
statement, but when talk about their opponents personally, very
complimentary. Their surrogates, their attacks very personal on the
president. Who`s been divisive here?

CAPEHART: Well, clearly by the setup of your question, yes, the
Romney campaign is being divisive. And they`re being divisive for the
reasons that you started talking about at the top of this segment. It`s
because it`s to divert attention away from the overall conversation about
the Ryan plan, Ryan`s plans for Medicare. And also, the disconnect between
what Ryan wants to do and what Mitt Romney wants to do. And quite frankly,
we don`t know exactly what he wants to do in terms of the specificity as
much as Paul Ryan wants to do.

But, look. When you listen to what the president and vice presidents
say about Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney talking about them personally, they`re
decent men, family men. They`re trying to make it clear to the people who
are listening and to the American people that their disagreements with
those two men are not personal. They are on policy.

And so, you know, when you`ve got Ryan and Romney doing what they`re
doing and saying what they`re saying, they`re ginning up their base, but
they are ginning up a base that is so angry with this president on a deep,
personal level that they`re hoping that will be, you know, the few more
people that they can squeeze out to vote on those lines will be what will
push them in the White House.

SHARPTON: Yes. In 2004 they called it swift boating.

Marge, let me ask you. The facts - the politics over the facts speak
for themselves. Look at the weekend`s announcement. Before the
announcement over the weekend, President Obama in the polls was at 45, Mitt
Romney at 46. After the weekend, President Obama`s at 45, Mitt Romney`s at
47. With all that bold deciding, a one point increase, I don`t think Mr.
Ryan came in with the great lift that everyone thought he would.

OMERO: Yes. I mean, I think here in Washington we want to have
immediate gratification. We want to see immediately what the results are
and what the impact of the Ryan pick will be. I think it`s going to be
awhile. But it certainly in terms of an immediate jolt, I don`t know if
it`s having an immediate jolt overall. I think it is exciting for the
base. And I think Ryan has some warmth that Romney lacks.

But I think by the tone of the ads they have up and the other
sideshows of calling Obama team a hateful campaign, they`re stepping on
their own rollout. I think that`s a mistake. I mean, ultimately this
should be around trying to sell the Ryan plan as it is. But I guess, maybe
they`ve seen polling that shows that`s really unpopular and so, they
decided to take this other strategy.

SHARPTON: Jonathan Capehart, Margie Omero, thank you both for your

OMERO: Thank you.

CAPEHART: Thanks, rev.

SHARPTON: Coming up, is it a campaign or is it a classroom?


ROMNEY: Excuse me. Well, let`s see. There we go.


SHARPTON: We`ll tell you why Mr. Romney`s Medicare class was not

And the right doubles down on its effort to block the vote. We`re not
going to let that happen.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.


SHARPTON: Folks, have you checked us out on facebook? The "Politics
Nation" conversation is going all day long.

Today the battle over Medicare was the big talker especially Mitt
Romney`s big white board lesson.

Lorna says our memory isn`t like an easily cleaned dry erase board.

Daniel calls the white board etch a sketch on steroids.

Glenda reminds us that writing it down doesn`t make it so.

We`ll delve into the details on this board game next with
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

But 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. We hope to see you there.


SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. Folks, Governor Romney is
getting desperate in the fight to define Medicare. So desperate he`s,
well, playing fast and loose with the facts. Today he spouted falsehoods
during a little board game he played with the press.


those are people who are today 55 years of age and older. Today`s seniors,
if you will. My plan presents no change. Plan stays the same. No
adjustments, no changes.


SHARPTON: No changes? Really, Mr. Romney? You want to repeal the
affordable care act and gut Medicaid. That would mean rising drug costs
and more expensive preventative care for seniors. But Mr. Romney`s
creativity with the facts didn`t end there.


ROMNEY: The President`s plan cuts Medicare by $716 billion. Cut.


SHARPTON: But Mr. Romney forgot to mention that those cuts are not
directed at beneficiaries. That`s money saved by targeting waste and
fraud. It affects things like drug companies, insurers, and yet he kept


ROMNEY: Now, there`s another topic which is I`ll call it the next
generation, the generation after today`s seniors, generation after today`s
seniors. And on the President`s plan, this goes bankrupt. Under the plan
that I proposed, it is solvent.


SHARPTON: What? As the Associated Press points out, Romney would
move the programs insolvency closer. While President Obama extended the
life of Medicare`s giant trust fund. Governor Romney, you`ve sullied the
white board code of honor. But don`t worry. I`ve got my own board. And
here`s what Reverend Al says about your claims.

Not true.

Joining me now is Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman
of the Democratic National Committee. Congresswoman, thank you for joining
me tonight. And I hope you like my white board.

Al. That was classic. Thank you so much. Thanks for having me too.

SHARPTON: So Mr. Romney keeps pointing his finger at the President
for robbing Medicare. What do you say about that?

SCHULTZ: Well, that just blows the facts up when it comes to Mitt
Romney`s full embrace of the Ryan plan. I mean, he said as recently as
last night in a local TV interview in Wisconsin that his Medicare plan is
nearly identical to the Ryan plan. The Ryan plan -- the first version of
it turns Medicare into a voucher program, ends the guarantee that Medicare
provides now, shreds the health care safety net for seniors, and takes away
the promise that we made more than 50 years ago to seniors in America that
there was a floor through which we were not going to allow you to fall
through so that you and your family would not have to face medical

Which before Medicare, too many seniors did. We had to make sure that
we took health care and keeping seniors healthy off the table so that they
could make sure they weren`t having to choose between medicine and meals.
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan turn Medicare into a voucher program and then add
insult to injury and repeal the Affordable Care Act which takes away the
preventive benefits.


SCHULTZ: Without they are available, without the deductible or a co-
pay that actually open the doughnut hole again and increase prescription
drug costs. So, it actually cuts benefits for seniors while President
Obama enhances benefits for seniors.

SHARPTON: And at the end of the day, Romney still doesn`t seem to
know if he backs Ryan on Medicare plan. He`s all over the place. Listen
to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Some people are saying, you are making it a
referendum on Paul Ryan`s budget plan.

ROMNEY: Well, I have my budget plan as you know that I`ve put out.
And that`s the budget plan that we`re going to run on.

I`m sure there are places that my budget is different than his, but
we`re on the same page as I said before.

I mean, there are some differences but they`re very similar. Paul
Ryan and my plan for Medicare, I think is the same, if not identical it`s
probably close to identical.


SHARPTON: You know, Congresswoman, maybe he`s just scared to admit
that he backs these proponents in Ryan`s plan. It would make seniors pay
$6400 more for health care, gives millionaires a $265,000 new tax cut. I
mean, I could see why he would want to be reluctant to say this especially
in your home state of Florida which has a lot of seniors voting and he
needs that state in the general election.

SCHULTZ: Right. There`s no surprise that Mitt Romney while running
for president is doing everything he can to confuse seniors on where he
really is on Medicare, because his plan guts Medicare. His plan ends
Medicare as we know it. The plan he`s embraced, turns it into a voucher
program. Ends the guarantee.

And actually the budget plan he`s embraced and that he`s offered
increases taxes on the middle class to pay for tax cuts for millionaires
and billionaires and increases the premiums for seniors in Medicare to pay
for that same tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires as well.

The Obama plan, the one that`s law, Obamacare actually in the last two
years has saved more than $4.1 billion in Medicare fraud. And prosecutions
on Medicare fraud are up 75 percent since Obamacare became law. That`s
where that $716 billion in savings has gone to make sure we crack down on
waste, fraud, and abuse. And we saved almost $10 billion in Medicare fraud
payments because of Obamacare in the last three years.

SHARPTON: But Paul Ryan says today that he wants the conversation.
He wants to have it. Listen.


about Medicare yesterday. I`m excited about this. This is a debate we
want to have. This is a debate we need to have. And this is a debate
we`re going to win.


SHARPTON: It`s a debate he wants to have. You`re the chair president
of the Democratic National Committee, what do you say?

SCHULTZ: OK. We`re going to have it. And I really welcome Paul Ryan
to come down to my home state of Florida here and talk to our seniors about
his plan. And I sit on the budget committee, Reverend Al. I`ve had a
front row seat to Paul Ryan`s plans to end Medicare as we know it, to
increase the premiums for seniors when you turn it into a voucher program
by $6300. To use the savings that he gets in ending Medicare as we know
it, to pay for the tax breaks that he`s proposed for millionaires and

That is not the direction that seniors want Medicare to go. Obama
care saved eight years of solvency in Medicare, added eight years of
solvency in Medicare. The Romney/Ryan plan would actually either leave it
right where it is or roll back the solvency of Medicare. And that`s
unacceptable. We need no work together.

We need to shore up Medicare over the long-term, but we don`t need to
cut benefits in Medicare and we certainly don`t need to turn it into a
voucher program and end the Medicare guarantee which is what Romney and
Ryan both have proposed.

SHARPTON: Well, in fact the --

SCHULTZ: We`ll see what happens during that debate.

SHARPTON: Well, in fact, it seems as the Democrats are taking
advantage of the GOP`s embrace of this radical plan. Today, the Democratic
Congressional Campaign Committee released its first ad of the general
election season targeting a Michigan congressman for his vote on the Ryan
plan. Democrats are also launching automated phone calls that would
highlight 50 Republicans voting for the Ryan plan. So it seems that he
wants the conversation, it`s fitting into the strategy of your party.

SCHULTZ: Absolutely. Because the Republicans in the Congress that
voted for the Ryan plan voted to end Medicare as we know it, turned into a
voucher program, voted to repeal Obamacare 31 different times. Which means
that the wellness visit for seniors that Obamacare provides without a co-
pay or deductible would be gone.

The seniors that now save on their prescription drugs. And Reverend
Al, in South Florida, I have stood behind so many seniors in line at
drugstores who when five or six prescriptions come to the counter, they
have to leave two or three of them behind because they can`t afford to pay
them all home because of that doughnut hole. Obamacare closes the doughnut

The Romney/Ryan plan would reopen it. The preventive care that`s
available to seniors would be gone. The one that makes sure that they
don`t have to pay a co-pay or deductible. Essentially the Obamacare plan
changes our health care system to a wellness and prevention system to keep
the seniors healthy and catch illness early. And Romney and Ryan change it
to a voucher plan so that they can pay for the tax breaks that they provide
to millionaires and billionaires. There is a very stark contrast. And we
don`t just welcome this debate on the future of Medicare, we relish it.

SHARPTON: All right. Any new information my white board is always

SCHULTZ: I`m looking forward to borrowing it.

SHARPTON: Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, thank you for your
time tonight.

SCHULTZ: You`re welcome.

SHARPTON: Coming up, Paul Ryan`s known as the policy guy, the walk.
But something happened today that shows he`s actually the extreme guy on
women`s health.

And the sport of noodling. Catching fish with your bare hands.
There`s a very famous noodler. We`ll introduce you to him in our summer
break. Next.


SHARPTON: We`re back with a pause from the political battles of the
day. A time to rest, relax, and recharge. That`s right. It`s time for
the POLITICS NATION summer break. We start tonight with the sport of
noodling. What`s noodling, you ask? There it is.

It`s hand fishing. Take a look at this. These pros just dangle their
arms in the water to catch catfish. They pull them out with their bare
hands. And why are we showing you all of this? Because today we
discovered a famous noodler.


RYAN: They come up on your hands and you squeeze wherever you are on
that fish and pull it up. I know it sounds a little crazy, but it`s really


SHARPTON: Who knew? I wonder if noodling was part of the VP vetting
process. Let`s get out of the lake and on to the dance floor.

Check out this guy`s incredible limbo skills. Can he make it under
the pole inch by inch? He does the seemingly impossible. Wow. He twists
and flips and flops. You could take the joke from here, everyone. And
that`s today`s summer break.


SHARPTON: We`re back on POLITICS NATION with a closer look at Paul
Ryan`s record. On Saturday, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell introduced
Governor Romney at the event where he announced Ryan as his vice
presidential nominee. Now, McDonnell was floated as a potential VP pick
and was known to campaign with Mr. Romney regularly.

But McDonnell was the governor who pushed forward ultrasounds on women
before they could get an abortion. It was met with a severe backlash. And
with that, he became political kryptonite. So he wasn`t picked to run.
But today, we learned McDonnell will speak at the Republican National

So, what about Paul Ryan? Sure he`s mostly famous for his budget, but
what about his views on women`s rights? He opposes abortion even in rape
and incest. He`s against abortion even if the woman`s life is threatened.
He supports personhood bills that would criminalize some forms of birth
control. And he`s voted to defund Planned Parenthood several times. And
he sponsored a national ultrasound bill.

That`s his name right there. So we know him as the budget policy guy.
But when it comes to women, his policies are as extreme as they come.

Joining me now is Nia-Malika Henderson, national political reporter
for The Washington Post. Thank you for joining me tonight, Nia.


SHARPTON: Are Paul Ryan`s positions going to hurt him with women

HENDERSON: Well, I think the Democrats certainly hope so. They are
starting a campaign to really highlight some of these issues and points of
view that you just laid out. They had an Op-ed by Sandra Fluke, the woman
who was -- testified before Congress. So yes, I think they`ve already laid
this out in some ways with Mitt Romney.

And now they can double down on it with the choice of Paul Ryan. We
know that women will be about 53 percent of the vote come November. And
also women are often the organizers in these communities in terms of
grassroots and organizing and making sure folks get out to vote. So,
you`ll going to see a really strong push from Democrats certainly to get
women out there. Because women typically vote democratic.

There was a bit of an evening of the percentage of women who voted for
Democrats and Republicans in 2010. And in some ways, the fact that they
switch women to Republicans in 2010 handed the Congress over to Republicans
on the House side. And so Democrats are obviously trying to keep this lead
that they have. I think it`s what? Fifteen or 20 points versus Mitt
Romney in the latest polls.

SHARPTON: Now, let`s bring in Terry O`Neill, president of the
National Organization of Women. Terry, thank you for coming tonight. Let
me ask you how dangerous are Paul Ryan`s policies for women?

it`s just remarkable. He is across the board dangerous for women. He is a
upon sponsor of the Fetal Personhood Bill, that life begins at conception
which would criminalize all abortion without any exceptions whatsoever.
And criminalize many forms of birth control. But he is also the sponsor of
a mandatory ultrasound bill whose purpose really is just to demean and
humiliate women.

It doesn`t stop any woman from having an abortion, but it does make
the process more demeaning and humiliating for her. And then his Medicare
turning it into a voucher system, in the retirement years for women, their
ability to get those mammograms, the cervical cancer screenings, other
preventive health care and health care for issues that they have, that goes
away under the Romney/Ryan plan. The Paul Ryan is no matter what aspect of
woman`s life you look at, he seems to want to restrict her.

SHARPTON: And the ultrasound bill he`s proposed nationally was the
exact bill that McDonnell got in trouble for in Virginia, Terry.

O`NEILL: That`s right. That`s right. There are a number of states
around the country that have these bills. And in fact, the Virginia bill
actually required a transvaginal ultrasound. That`s technically rape.


O`NEILL: That is penetration however slight without consent. That`s
rape. The federal bill that Paul Ryan is sponsoring does not go quite that
far, but there is another bill authored by Michele Bachmann and who knows
if Ryan would support it. He hasn`t come across to cosponsor it, but it
clearly requires it.


SHARPTON: But let me bring something to you Terry before I go back to
Nia Malika, during his 1998 campaign for Congress, the Journal Sentinel
reported that Ryan quote, "Ryan would let states decide what criminal,
criminal now penalties would be attached to abortions. Ryan said, he has
never specifically advocated jailing women who have abortions or doctors
who perform them, but added if it`s illegal, it`s illegal."

O`NEILL: Yes. You know, Paul Ryan is adamantly in favor of federal
laws. Never mind state. It doesn`t matter what`s going on at the state
level. All women in this country would find abortion care criminalized if
Paul Ryan has his way. And for him to say that he thinks it should be
state by state, we know that that`s clearly false. His name is on this

SHARPTON: Nia-Malika, he`s not shying away from any of this. He says
back in 2010 when questioned by the Weekly Standard, he says, quote, "I`m
as pro-life as a person gets. You`re not going to have a truce. Judges
are going to come up. Issues come up. They`re unavoidable, and I`m never
going to not vote pro-life."

HENDERSON: That`s right. And you -- I actually was traveling with
Vice President Biden yesterday. And he brought this up. The whole idea of
imagining what a Supreme Court would look like under a Romney/Ryan
administration. Obviously, to the crowd, it`s not something they would
like. And partly, it`s an issue of Roe V. Wade. Is this something that`s
going to be repeal, it`s something that Romney had said that he would like
to see repealed?

Or I think you will certainly see Democrats talk about this over and
over again. You did have a sense, I think, from some Republicans. I
believe it was Mitch Daniels saying that let`s have a truce on social
issues. And I think in some ways, Romney had hoped that he would be able
to in some ways veer away from social issues in some ways. But by the
choice of Ryan, he energizes evangelicals. But I think he`s also going to
really also energize liberals as well.

SHARPTON: Terry O`Neill and Nia-Malika Henderson, thank you both for
your time.

HENDERSON: Thank you, Rev.

O`NEILL: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: We`ll be right back.


SHARPTON: I want to close the night with an important issue. The
coordinated right wing effort to suppress the vote. It`s a fight playing
out in Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania. Where the ACLU is planning to
appeal a Pennsylvania judge`s decision to stop -- not to stop his state`s
strict voter ID law from going into effect. The law could keep as many as
1.5 million voters from casting a ballot.

In Florida, Secretary of State Ken Detzner says, he`s planning to
restart his state`s voter purge program. Election officials announced
today they will use an immigration data base to screen voters. In the
first round of purging, 87 percent were minorities.

In Ohio, we`re still waiting to hear a judge`s decision on the Obama
administration`s lawsuit against early voting restrictions for non-military
voters. Pop quiz.

What do all these states have in common? They`re all swing states.
Coincidence? I think not. You know, in March of this year, we marched. I
helped to lead the retracing of the steps of the march from Selma to
Montgomery. And we showed it on this program every night. Where whites
and blacks, Latinos, Asians, all kinds of people marched to give us the
right to vote.

Those that were denied, some lost their lives leaving Selma. Some
went to jail. Some had homes bombed. But they fought, and we got the
right to vote. Just like we retraced their steps in March, we recommit
ourselves to protect their vote now.

No matter where it goes, no matter what state stands up. We`re going
to fight. Because this is bigger than an election. This is bigger than
who wins. This is about American people having their civil and voter

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


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