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PoliticsNation, Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Read the transcript from the Tuesday show

December 18, 2012

Guests: Diana DeGette; Richard Blumenthal, Steve Kornacki, Krystal Ball, Boise Kimber

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Thanks, Chris. And thanks to you
for tuning in.

Tonight`s lead, this time it`s different. We`ve watched senseless gun
violence for too long. And too many times we`ve watched things return to
the status quo again and again. But not this time. The White House says
the president is actively supportive of efforts to reinstate an assault
weapons ban. We learned today he`s also asking his cabinet members for
other proposals to curb gun violence. And the top democrat in the house
made it clear the time for action is now.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: I think there`s a better
chance to do that now than ever. Not that one child`s life is more
important than another person`s life, but the volume, the impact of this
that every child can feel vulnerable. The fact there`s been so many events
in close proximity and time wise to each other that this is almost a
tipping point.


SHARPTON: It is a tipping point. Democrats are looking to push a
bill this week that would ban high-capacity magazines. Like those used in
Newtown. It`s not just the White House. It`s not just congress. Today
there`s major news out of Michigan where the Republican governor Rick
Snyder has vetoed legislation that would allow concealed weapons in
churches and schools and day care centers.

New polls show support for stricter gun control is at a ten-year high.
The company that owns the gun maker that produced the rifle used in last
week`s massacre plans to sell it calling the shooting a quote, "water shed
event." And Dick sporting goods has suspend the sale of modern sporting
rifles in all of their change.

This is change. This is different. Yet the right wing is already
gearing up for a fight. FOX News reports that the NRA is expected to push
back soon. Today, they announced they will hold a news conference on
Friday. And Republican governors still aren`t convinced that guns are the
problem. Governor Jan Brewer says quote, "I`m not sure additional gun
control is something that needs to be addressed. I don`t know how we get
our arms around it."

Don`t know how to get your arms around it? How about disarming those
who shouldn`t have weapons? And Virginia governor Bob McDonnell seems to
think there are many solutions to be pursued, but gun control.


supporting a ban to limit the sale of assault rifles and clips to private

GOV. BOB MCDONNELL (R), VIRGINIA: Well, I think we ought to look at a
number of things --

TODD: Are you hoping?

MCDONNELL: I don`t think that`s the first place you look, Chuck,
because first of all, we don`t have all the facts.


SHARPTON: We don`t have all the facts. But we have the facts that
matter, 27 people are dead. And we should do everything we can to prevent
it from happening again.

Joining me now is Congresswoman Diana DeGette, Democrat from Colorado.
And former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell now an NBC political analyst.

Thank you both for joining me.


SHARPTON: Congresswoman DeGette, let me start with you. You put
forth the bill targeting high-capacity magazines. This already has 125 co-
sponsors, 16 of which signed up today. Is there momentum for real gun
control this time around?

DEGETTE: Well, there is momentum. Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy and
I from New York introduced this bill earlier this session after the
terrible shootings in Aurora which are right outside my congressional
district. We tried to push for this bill. It`s only a step of what we
need to do, but to be honest, you`re never going to stop some seriously
deranged person from trying to shoot again. But what you can do is stop
them from having these magazines that will kill 26 people in a ten-minute
period. And so we`re urging -- the bill`s ready. We signed up 16 people
in one hour this morning. We think that speaker Boehner could bring it to
the floor this week and show the country that we`re really making some
positive first steps to keeping these serious, serious weapons out of the
hands of people who are criminals or who are seriously mentally ill.

SHARPTON: So you think that it`s possible to bring this to the floor
of the house this week?

DEGETTE: We could do it. It`s been introduced. It`s ripe. We have
a number of co-sponsors. And then, the first of the year we`re going to
work with senator Feinstein and others to do a more comprehensive bill that
deals with the assault weapons themselves and a lot of other issues too.

But right now, Congresswoman McCarthy and I have this bill. It will
ban these assault clips which were used in this case and used in Aurora and
used in Arizona and so many other places. And it will give those victims a
fighting chance once the shooter stops shooting, to tackle them and to stop
so many more precious lives from being taken.

SHARPTON: Now Governor, there are signs the country`s changing. A
majority of Americans see the Newtown shooting as a sign of a broader
societal problem, not just an isolated act. That`s a complete reversal
that followed the shootings in Virginia tech and Tucson and Colorado.

Americans simply thought those shootings were isolated incidents. It
doesn`t seem to be the case this time. So when you hear Governors like
governor McDonnell and Brewer and others, it seems like the ground has
shifted much differently than it was before. Yet you still hear
Republicans seem to be talking as they did in the past.


But look. It is shifting and as usual the Republicans are out of
touch with what the American people are feeling. I have a question for
governor McConnell.

Regardless of -- and the congresswoman is absolutely right. Limiting
the number of high-capacity -- the number of bullets to be in a magazine or
a clip to ten doesn`t guarantee that a crazy person goes out and does
something like this again. But it sure as heck guarantees that they can`t
fire a hundred bullets in 60 seconds.


RENDELL: It means that after ten shots, they have to go into their
pocket -- they have to first take out the magazine, the clip that`s been
spent. Then they`ve got to put it in. I know from my days in the army
when you`re doing that and you`re under pressure, very often you jam it,
which is what happened to Loughner in Arizona. And you remember Loughner
was disarmed while he was trying to put another clip in. Can you imagine
if Lanza have do this eight or nine times. The chances of the kids running
away or someone disarming him would have been enormous.

And I want to ask governor McConnell is question. Give me one, one
reason why a law-abiding American citizen needs a magazine or clip with
more than ten bullets in it. Give me one reason why a law-abiding American
citizen needs an assault semi-automatic weapon, on e reason.

SHARPTON: Well, McDonnell says it is too early to tell gun control.
I certainly would love to hear, I`m asking you a question. Congresswoman,
the shooter in Newtown had 30 rounds per clip, 30.


SHARPTON: Your legislation would limit to ten. Thirty rounds per
clip. How does anyone make the case that you need 30-round clips in order
to protect yourself?

DEGETTE: Reverend, there`s no real case to be made for it. When I
ask people this question, they say well, we want it for target shooting.
And what my response is, the risk to innocent little children like the ones
who were killed in Connecticut is so much greater than the pleasure that
shooting at targets with a 30-clip would give to target shooters, really
it`s a no brainer to me.

And the shooter in the Aurora Theater had a clip with 100 rounds of
ammunition. That`s why he was able to shoot up that whole theater in two
or three minutes. And you know, there were military personnel in there.
If he had just been -- if he had had to stop, they could have tackled him.
They could have taken him out.

SHARPTON: The reason he didn`t have to stop, governor, is because he
had those hundred-round clips. And let`s not forget, governor, in Newtown
one of those kids had 11 bullets in him. I mean, we are talking about some
unbelievable things here.

RENDELL: Unbelievable evil. But, you`re absolutely right. And one
of the points the congresswoman made and we should remember this, is in
Aurora. Although the majority of the victims were adults, there were two
6-year-old and 7-year-old and there was one 6-month-old baby, 6-month-old
baby that got killed. So this isn`t the first time we`ve lost our kids.

DEGETTE: When does it end?

RENDELL: When does it stop?

SHARPTON: And when is the legislative response? One of the reason I
was happy to have you on tonight, congresswoman, is that we can`t just
shake our heads and say something`s got to change. Somebody has got to
move forward some legislation and take a roll call in the Congress on who
is going to stand up and who is not and who is not call the roll. Let`s
see where everybody stands, congresswoman.

DEGETTE: The moms and dads of America deserve to know where their
member of Congress stands. And that`s why we think the speaker could bring
this bill to the floor this week. The one banning the assault cartridges.
And then starting the first of the year we`re going to have a much more
comprehensive bill. But right now, right this week, let the American
public ask their member of Congress where they stand.

SHARPTON: Well, governor and congresswoman, I promise you we`ll run
the roll down. People ought to know all over this country who stands for
what when you have babies, 6-month-old babies killed in Aurora. You have
four to 10-year-olds killed in Connecticut. And people are talking about
we have to wait on the facts. Those are enough facts for many of us.

RENDELL: One thing we got to do, Rev, is keep the pressure on speaker
Boehner because he could deep six this and not bring it to a vote. He`s
the one person that could protect his members by not bringing it to a vote.
The American people need to know where everyone in Congress, every man and
woman in Congress stands on this issue. So Speaker Boehner, bring it to
the floor.

SHARPTON: Let`s take a count. Let`s call the roll.

Congresswoman Diana DeGette and Governor Ed Rendell, thanks for your
time this evening.

DEGETTE: Thank you.

RENDELL: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Coming up, Republicans are already plotting to block gun
control, but Democrats have a plan to fight back. We`ll talk with
Connecticut senator Richard Blumenthal.

Plus, the GOP`s got a great idea for rebooting the brand, more Bush.
Why? Because it worked so well the last time?

And Richard Engel`s dramatic escape from captivity in Syria in his own

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.


SHARPTON: Have you joined the "Politics Nation" conversation on
facebook yet? We hope you will.

This photo of a Newtown, Connecticut, student smiling on his way back
to school was inspiring a lot of folks today.

Mary says this shows how brave they are and how loved and secure they
feel. Good job, parents and community.

Buddy says that`s why we have to provide a world that keeps them safe.

We`ll have more on what`s being done to help keep them safe coming up
next. But first we wanted to hear what you think on this issue or anything
else. Please head over to facebook and search "Politics Nation" and like
us to join the conversation that keeps going long after the show ends.


SHARPTON: Right now, democratic lawmakers are mobilizing for the most
sustained and passionate push on gun control in a generation. They know
that after the Sandy Hook tragedy everything is different. But some on the
right can`t accept it. I told you yesterday how the NRA shut down its
facebook and twitter feeds after the massacre. But they continued their
propaganda with an online show called "NRA news" filled with guests calling
in to insist new gun laws won`t happen.


JOHN FUND, NATIONAL REVIEW COLUMNIST: Some people just want to turn
this into a political football. Most of them know that you`re not actually
going to pass gun control laws. It`s just not going to happen. So for
them to come right out of the box within hours sometimes or barely a day
after this and talk about new gun control legislation is frankly either
irrelevant or it`s frivolous.


SHARPTON: Stopping the massacre of innocent kids. How is that
irrelevant? How is that frivolous? The time for action is now. Before we
have to bury any more children.

Joining me now is Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat from
Connecticut. He`s the state`s former attorney general as well as a former
prosecutor and U.S. attorney.

Senator, thanks for being here tonight.


SHARPTON: Are you confident that Democrats will be able to pass
meaningful gun legislation?

BLUMENTHAL: I am never confident of anything when it comes to the
United States Congress or I should say overconfident. But I am confident
that we`re going to fight for it. Because we are at a critical turning
point. There is a kind of tectonic movement politically. The ground is
shifting on this issue of gun violence protection. This president spoke
very eloquently about it at the vigil Sunday night. And my colleagues
actually have been revisiting their past positions.

And I`m confident that we are in a different era when it comes to gun
violence prevention. And we`ve got a real chance of banning assault
weapons, stopping high-capacity magazines or clips. Mental health
intervention, all kinds of measures like that one.

SHARPTON: But on top of that and when we see the horrific scene that
has happened in your state and those that have been impacted in a rail way,
yet we see comments like Senator Shelby. Let me show a response of Senator
Shelby. He doesn`t look like he`s had a seismic change at all. Look at


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: With senator Feinstein reintroducing
the assault weapons --

SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R), ALABAMA: I would oppose those kind of
things. That`s not going to answer the question. It`s who -- you got to
find out who has access to those guns especially where people are
irrational deranged and so forth. How do you define assault weapon? It`s
very difficult.


SHARPTON: He opposes an assault weapon ban. How will the Democrats
be able to fight back and make sure there`s a difference this time?

BLUMENTHAL: No question, you are right. There will be opposition.
There always has been. But you know, this slaughter of children really of
babies was so brutal and so inhumane, horrible, unspeakable, unimaginable
until it occurred. And even now difficult for people to grasp that I think
it has elicited a different kind of response from the more moderate and
thoughtful of Republicans or Democrats.

You know, public safety shouldn`t be a partisan issue when the police
arrive at somebody`s door they don`t ask are you a Republican or Democrat.
This issue shouldn`t be about party differences. And colleagues of mine
like Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Mark Warner of Virginia and Harry Reid
the majority leader who have been talking about the changing perceptions of
this issue can help us reach across divisions, even illicit some of the
organizations that have been opposed in the past.

SHARPTON: Now, you also see the smoke screens, senator. Mike
Huckabee. He made a comment that has become notorious now on Friday night
saying that Sandy Hook happened because we removed god from our schools.
Let me play to you his sound bite.


in our schools, but we`ve systematically removed God from our schools.
Should we be so surprised that schools have become a place of carnage
because we`ve made it a place where we don`t want to talk about eternity,
life, what responsibility means, accountability.


SHARPTON: And this is nothing against God or those of us who believe
in God. You and I have been in churches together during campaigns. So, we
definitely know and believe in church and respect people`s religion. But
that`s avoiding this issue about semiautomatic and automatic weapons and
going off somewhere else that has nothing to do with the issues at hand
that has so impacted your state in the nation.

BLUMENTHAL: Our state is still grieving from an act of inhumane
slaughter committed with an assault weapon that was designed for military
purposes. We need to focus on the safety of our children. And avoid being
distracted from the potential ban on assault weapons, the ban on high
magazine -- high-capacity magazines that enabled this killer to kill so
many innocent children.

SHARPTON: You`ve been the state attorney general. You`ve been a
prosecutor. You know that state from one side to the other from Hartford
to Newtown from Stanford to new haven. And this is a problem that is urban
and suburban. If there`s one issue that could bring everybody together, I
think it`s everyone is living under siege now. And where it looked like an
urban problem before, it`s everywhere.

Don`t you think the fact now it is visited everywhere that we have a
tremendous opportunity to unite people around nothing should compromise us
from protecting our children. We`re talking about our babies now in
elementary school.

BLUMENTHAL: The president made this point very powerfully Sunday
night. We are failing our children. And it`s not just the children of one
community. And law enforcement knows very, very well how important this
issue is which is why they are the ones who are joining and saying to me
you need to do something. That is the mantra I`ve heard in Newtown, for
people there. From the citizens of communities across Connecticut. From
law enforcement and from guys who`ve spent their lives trying to make the
streets and neighborhoods safer. And they are the ones who say we are
often outgunned by people with assault weapons that can pierce our armor.

So the guards at schools who are supposedly according to this idea
that we`re going to have guards in every school, would be very much
endangered themselves and probably unable to stop a Bushmaster ar-15 of the
kind this individual had with rounds of 30 clips each ready to blast away
as he did at the entrance of that school building.

SHARPTON: Very good point, senator Blumenthal. And our thoughts and
prayers are with the people in their state. In fact, I`m joining a vigil
with them tonight. Thank you so much for your time.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you, sir.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, third time`s the charm? The GOP is looking to
yet another Bush to help reboot their brand. But first, the GOP`s
conspiracy theorists turned their attention to Hillary Clinton. That`s


SHARPTON: The right wing`s got a new motto. If at first you don`t
succeed at making up a scandal, try, try again. For months they`ve smeared
the Obama administration claiming U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice covered up
information about the attacks in Libya. Now these wing nuts are turning on
secretary of state Hillary Clinton. She was scheduled to testify this week
at a hearing about the Benghazi attacks. But while suffering from a
stomach virus, Secretary Clinton fainted, hit her head, and sustained a
concussion. Doctors told her to work from home this week. And her
deputies will testify in her place. She`s recuperating at her home which
means some righties smell a conspiracy.

"The New York Post" called the concussion a head fake. "Investors`
Business Daily" says it`s suspicious. No one`s seen a medical report.
"The Daily Caller" is picking up the drum beat with a headline where`s
Hillary Clinton`s medical report? The conspiracies even made it on to TV.


Foreign Service officer in every foreign ministry in the world knows the
phrase I`m about to use. When you don`t want to go to a meeting or concert
or event, you have a diplomatic illness. And this is a diplomatic illness
to beat the band.


SHARPTON: They`re accusing the secretary of state of playing hooky.
They seem to be forgetting that the house could still ask Clinton to
testify in the future. In fact, they probably will. The right wing has
gone from asking where`s the birth certificate to where`s the medical

Did they think we wouldn`t call them out for attacking our secretary
of state? Nice try head cases, but we got you.


SHARPTON: Poor Republicans. We`ve been watching their first
tentative stop/start steps to figure out just why they lost the election
and the popular vote in four of the last five elections. Today, we --
well, they took the first big step in giving an answer. We learned at
who`s speaking at next year`s conservative conference CPAC. The GOP`s big
chance to reintroduce itself to the American people. And it`s got
something for everyone. Jeb Bush is going to be there. The establishment
choice for 2016. Got it covered. Paul Ryan will be there. Fiscal
conservatives eat your heart out. And look at this.

Senator-elect Ted Cruz, Governor Susana Martinez, and Senator Marco
Rubio. Romney lost the Hispanic vote by almost 45 points. But they hope
these three will help. The man who will be South Carolina`s new Senator
Tim Scott will be there too. True diversity. A real change. Except when
it comes to policy. The new senator is same as the old senator. Tea Party
king maker Jim DeMint.


with the Heritage Action, he was 98, now closing in on an "A." I think
we`re on the same page. And hopefully we`ll continue to work together. I
look forward to hearing more from the senators as president of the Heritage


SHARPTON: On the same page? That`s a scary thought. Last year,
Congressman Scott said it would be an impeachable act if President Obama
raised the debt limit without Congressional approval. He sponsored a bill
to kick a family off food stamps if an adult in the family is on strike.
Nice job, scrooge. And as a state lawmaker, he sponsored a bill to create
a state monument to fetuses. Is he kidding? He`s not. Republicans got
crushed in the election. They know they have to do something about it.
But this isn`t it.

Joining me now, two co-hosts of "THE CYCLE" right here on MSNBC, Steve
Kornacki and Krystal Ball. Steve, am I missing something or is the new GOP
pretty much the same as the old GOP?

point you haven`t seen the kind of sort of substantive policy shift that
the party`s going to need to make on some of the biggest issues coming out
of 2012 election. I think to give them a bit of the benefit of the doubt
here if you want to, there`s three things that I would sort of look for in
the immediate future. The most pressing would be if there is a deal here
on the fiscal cliff. And it does involve raising the income tax rates on
high-income people.

Do Republicans go along with that deal or going to stick that old
absolutist anti-tax, anti-tax on the wealthy sort of posture they have for
22 years? The second would be guns in response to what`s in the news this
week. Will there be any kind of shift from Republicans in recognition of
where public opinion is on that on the recognition to where the party`s
been. Will there be a shift there? And the third is, I think coming a few
months will be immigration. And again, you talk about the Latino vote
there. I think there`s going to be big movement in Congress have
politically will be for there to be a big immigration bill next year. And
again, the question will be, do Republicans moderate themselves on that or
are we still stuck in 2006, 2007, 2008 where it`s just everything is
amnesty and it`s all off the table?

SHARPTON: But is it at the point, Krystal, when you look at the fact
that such attentively, we`re not hearing anything. Even when we see
Manchin and others that have moved on gun legislation or gun control.
These are Democrats that had a different position. We haven`t heard major
Republicans really come out and say much of anything. The same with
immigration. The same with what is going on in the fiscal cliff. So we`re
not really seeing a substantive recognition of why they lost.

KRYSTAL BALL, CO-HOST, "THE CYCLE": They`ve been very quiet. And to
your point in your intro, you know, throwing up a few diverse spaces as
they did at the RNC is not going to be nearly enough to cut it. And I
would say, not only do we have to wait and see how do they handle the
fiscal cliff, how do they handle the gun control debate, how do they handle
immigration. But then are those members of Congress punished in primaries
in the next election cycle? Because that`s the real problem here.

Only 15 members of the republican caucus are from districts that Obama
won. So, we`re talking about a group of people who are representing very
red districts and are more concerned about the primary challenge than they
are a general election challenge. So they`re always thinking more about
the maybe 30 percent of voters who are far to the right republican voters
going to show up in a primary. They`re thinking more about that group of
folks than the broad center of the country in the general election

SHARPTON: Steve, you know, a growing number of conservatives are
calling on lawmakers to block disaster and spending for hurricane Sandy.
Unless they`re offsetting spending cuts. Two most recent voices. The club
for growth and Heritage Action for America. Related to the Heritage
Foundation which Jim DeMint has taken over. Funny but I don`t remember
them asking for offsetting cuts when they funded the Iraq war.

KORNACKI: Right. And this is a classic example, I think, of what
went wrong for the Republican Party in the last couple years. In the 2012
election and the years leading up to it. This sort of -- when you apply
the purity that they have sort of embraced in, the sort of conservative
purity that they have embraced, on issue after issue, it puts them in a
very minority position relative to public opinion is. And this is what
really hampered Mitt Romney I think more than anything else as a nominee.

He had the capable, at least theoretically to be a moderate candidate
if he wanted to be. He could be anything. We knew that about Mitt Romney.
But because of where the party was, because of how this purity -- this sort
of purity mind-set had embedded itself in the party, Mitt Romney was
extremely limited in anything that he could say, in any position he could
take. And these are the sorts of positions that conservatives have been
demanding the Republicans take. And forcing us Krystal said with -- for
few years. And it`s got to change.

SHARPTON: You know, Krystal, they seem to not be able to get out of
their own way. The chairman of the GOP in Arizona, Tom Morrissey. He`s
the chairman as I said of the party out there and one of the state`s
official electors. He says, he`s still not sure the president is from this
country. Listen to this.


TOM MORRISSEY, ARIZONA GOP CHAIR: My issue is this. I`m not
convinced as an elector. As an elector I have a sacred trust. In my
opinion what I have seen from the president produced as a birth
certificate. He does not convince me it is a real document.


SHARPTON: I mean, you couldn`t make this up, Krystal.

BALL: It`s unbelievable. But, I mean, the problem is partly that
there`s always going to be a possibility of getting fame, getting
recognition for hating the President, for making outrageous statements.
And the other thing is the Republican Party during 2010 in particular, they
embrace this very short-term strategy of riding the Tea Party wave, telling
them they were right, that they were just. And giving people like that
gentleman a lot of credence and a lot of credibility by saying yes, your
views are justified. Yes, they are in the mainstream. Yes, we should be
talking about them. And now that they`re trying to turn the corner, it`s
hard to reign in folks that you`ve given basically a lot of power to in
your party.

STEVE: Now, Steve, Governor Snyder of Michigan did veto today this
new law that would have allowed people in Michigan to bring concealed
weapons into schools and churches and day care centers. But when you look
at this, this might be something that got his attention. He`s now has a 38
percent approval rating. It`s a 28-point net drop since last month. Now,
he signed the right to work law and dropped 28 points.


SHARPTON: I always say on this show you do unpopular things, you get
unpopular results.

KORNACKI: Yes. That`s exactly right. That is the -- this is a weird
situation because Snyder in Michigan is one of several examples of
Republicans -- the Republicans such a monster year in the 2010 midterms.
And all these governorship were up, all these state legislative seats were
up. It was just this monster, you know, tidal waves. What it meant was
there were a number of big blue states like Michigan where Republicans
suddenly found themselves in complete control of state government. You
have the potential at least, when you both have houses of the legislature
and you have the governorship, you want to do right to work, you have the
power to do it.

The only check that Democrats really have until the 2014 election, a
guy like Snyder is that reality. That every time you do something like
that, it`s going to generate a lot of noise, it`s going to generate a lot
of blowback. You`re still a republican governor in a blue state. You`re
still going to need to win over Democrats to get re-elected in 2014. And
you do one thing like this, well, look, you could see, it brings the
approval rating way down. So, that`s the one check Democrats have between
now and 2014. This state like Michigan. You know, confronted with another
right to work type piece of legislation. I think Snyder will probably
think twice before embracing it.

SHARPTON: Now, Krystal, I have to tell you this one. Nine news
organizations are challenging the Romney campaign to come together.
Because they want the Romney campaign to explain bills sent to their media
after the election. Look at what they`re charging these media for covering
them. Seven hundred forty five dollars per person for vice presidential
debate viewing party on October 11the. Per person. Eight hundred twelve
dollars for a meal and a hold on a press spot on October 12th. Three
hundred and forty five dollars for food and a hold on October 30th. This
is what they`re billing the media.

BALL: Wow. Well, it calls to mind for me those stories about how
right after the campaign ended, his staff were trying to take cabs home and
they found out that the credit cards had already been turned off. They had
to pony up for their last meal and the taxi home. I mean, the post-
election coverage has not been particularly kind to Mitt Romney. He hasn`t
done himself any favors. And this reinforces the narrative I think that
Americans already feel about Mitt Romney.

SHARPTON: Steve Kornacki and Krystal Ball, thanks for your time this

BALL: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: And be sure to catch both Steve and Krystal on "THE CYCLE"
week days at 3:00 p.m. right here on MSNBC.

Still ahead, Richard Engel`s amazing account of his captivity and
rescue in Syria. And then the culture of guns in America. We`ll have more
gun shops than McDonald`s in this country. It`s time for that to stop.


SHARPTON: We`re back with today`s great news about NBC`s chief
foreign correspondent Richard Engel who`s reported stories on this show
many times. Richard and members of his production crew were kidnapped in
Syria and held captive for five days. They were blindfolded and bound.
And only broke free when their kidnappers came into contact with the rebel
militia. Richard and his team made their way to safety in Turkey. And
there they told their story on the "Today" show.


in Syria, like about five days ago, in what we thought was a rebel-
controlled area. We were with some of the rebels. And as we were moving
down the road, a group of gunmen just literally jumped out of the trees and
bushes on the side of the road. There were probably 15 gunmen. They were
wearing ski masks. They were heavily armed. They dragged us out of the
car. They had a container truck positioned waiting by the side of the
road. They put us into that container truck. We were with some gunmen and
rebels who were escorting us. They executed one of them on the spot. Then
they took us to a series of safe houses and interrogation places. And they
kept us blindfolded, bound.

We weren`t physically beaten or tortured. It was a lot of
psychological torture. They made us choose which one of us would be shot
first. And when we refused there were mock shootings. They pretended to
shoot Ghazi several times when you`re blindfolded. Then they fired the gun
in the air. It can be very traumatic experience. We were told that they
wanted to exchange us for four Iranian agents and two Lebanese people who
were from the Ahmad (ph) movement. And others should be members who have
captured by the rebels. We weren`t allowed to speak, but if you sort of
look kind of peek underneath the blindfold, you can see if maybe there`s a
guard in the room or not. And we tried to joke a little bit back and forth
and keep our spirits up.

JOHN KOOISTRA, NBC NEWS CAMERAMAN: We prepared to die many times.
Moving was the hardest part. It was disconcerting to move blindfolded from
house to house.

ENGEL: And you think they`re taking you outside to execute you.

KOOISTRA: For five days.

ENGEL: We were being moved to yet another location late around 11:00
last night local time. And as we were moving along the road, the
kidnappers came across a rebel check point. Something that they hadn`t
expected. The kidnappers saw this check point, started a gun fight with
it, two of the kidnappers were killed. We climbed out of the vehicle. And
the rebels took us. We spent the night with them. It was a traumatic
experience. We`re very happy to be here. We`re in good health. We`re OK.
Everyone was great. And it was fantastic in forming our families and
keeping people up to date. Keeping the story quite.


SHARPTON: Right now journalists like Richard and his team are risking
their lives to cover important stories around the world. It`s a dangerous
job. But all of us here at MSNBC are happy they`re safe and unharmed.


SHARPTON: It was another difficult day in Newtown, Connecticut. Two
more of the youngest victims of the shooting. Six-year-old James Mattioli
and Jessica Rekos were laid to rest today. Funerals for five more children
are planned for tomorrow as well as the school`s principal and one of the
teachers killed in the shootings. But today, Newtown also took its first
steps toward moving past this tragedy. Thousands of Newtown children
returned to school for the first time since last Friday in an effort to
start healing. And begin moving forward.

It will be a long time before Newtown finds a sense of normalcy. But
this unspeakable tragedy has united the town, the state of Connecticut, and
the entire nation. Together we must work to ensure that tragedies like
these never happen again.

Joining me now is Reverend Boise Kimber, president of the Connecticut
State Missionary Baptist Convention and board member of the National Action
Network. He`ll be leading a vigil and prayer service for the victims in
Waterbury, Connecticut tonight. I will also be speaking at the vigil.
Reverend, thank you for joining me.

very much, Reverend Sharpton. It`s a delight to be here to share with you

SHARPTON: How can we turn the moral outrage of this tragedy into
political action? You lead the Baptist convention there. You work with
faith leaders from all kinds of religion. How do we turn the moral outrage
into political action that will address the laws that can help to lead to
solving situations like this?

KIMBER: I think Reverend Sharpton, we come here tonight in Newtown to
stand in solidarity with this community. We have reached out to the entire
state, to the entire community to say that we stand in solidarity with each
person here in Newtown.

SHARPTON: Now, Reverend, as we stand together, we`re going to have to
deal with some policy questions. Like banning assault weapons, like
semiautomatic weapons. You pastor New Haven. You have many pastors that
are in certain cities around Connecticut that have been watching kids be
killed for a long time. Gang banging and other things. How do we unite
the suburban and the urban cities in Connecticut and in the Chicagos and
New York around the country? Is this the idea that you`re trying to start

KIMBER: We come tonight to ask that communities all over this
country, let`s come together, stand together, and let`s begin to work with
Congress, Senate and let`s make sure that our representatives understand
what is happening within our communities.

SHARPTON: What do you say to a mother and a father as a pastor? How
do you give them comfort? How do you explain them burying a baby that you
have to get a minute to catch this was their future. This is what they
planned to carry on their bloodline, their legacy. Where do faith leaders
find the words to comfort them and not also try to give them a permanence
by changing some of the policies that help to lead what brought their
sorrow on in the first place?

KIMBER: This is one of the most painful things that any clergy or
individual can do. Is to try to explain to other little ones about the
death and the loss of a loved one. The only thing that we can say tonight
is that it is our faith that will allow us to get through this together.
It is the love that we have for each other. It is the kind, it is the
hope, it`s all of those things back up in this administrative season that
we come in at this point.

SHARPTON: Reverend Boise Kimber, thanks for your time tonight. We`ll
be seeing you shortly.

KIMBER: Thank you, Reverend Sharpton.

SHARPTON: It`s become clear that America`s gun culture has to change.
Between 2000 and 2008, more than 272,000 Americans were killed by guns.
That`s more than four times the number of American troops killed in the
wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan combined. And today it might
actually be easier to find a gun dealer than find a fast food store. There
are 14,000 McDonald`s restaurants in America. And 36,000 grocery stores.
But there are over 51,000 retail gun stores in the country today. It`s a
disturbing picture of America today.

So, this a photo from a gun range in Texas. Where a pose with Santa
and your guns. Is this photo session right that was billed a child-
friendly event? The only thing that is need, one rightist said for evil to
prevail, is for good people to do nothing. I`m going to Newtown and
elsewhere, Harlem, Chicago, to stand up for children. You decide how you
stand up. There are those that argue some wrongly that we have the right
to bear arms. Children also have the right to become adults. I`m going to
fight for their rights.

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


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