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PoliticsNation, Friday, December 21st, 2012

Read the transcript from the Friday show

December 21, 2012

Guests: Steve Cohen, Maria-Teresa Kumar, Ryan Grim, Bob Shrum

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Thanks, Michael. And thanks to
you for tuning in. I`m live tonight from Atlanta.

Tonight`s lead, breaking news. President Obama issues a stern warning
to Republicans. Do your jobs for the good of the American people. Just
moments ago, he held a press conference and said lawmakers can stop tax
hikes on lower and middle class Americans.


Boehner and I also met with Senator Reid. In the next few days, I`ve asked
leaders of Congress to work towards a package that prevents a tax hike on
middle class Americans, protects unemployment insurance for two million
Americans and lays the ground work for further work on both growth and
deficit reduction. That`s an achievable goal. That can get done in ten

Once this legislation is agreed to, I expect Democrats and Republicans
to get back to Washington and have it pass both chambers. And I will
immediately sign that legislation into law before January 1st of next year.
It`s that simple.


SHARPTON: It`s that simple. He urged Congress to think of the
American people this holiday season.


OBAMA: I hope it gives everybody some perspective. Everybody can
cool off. Everybody can drink some eggnog, have some Christmas cookies,
sing some Christmas carols, enjoy the company of loved ones. And then I`d
ask every member of Congress while they`re at home to think about that.
Think about the obligations to the people who sent us here.


SHARPTON: Today`s news comes after the right wing handed speaker
Boehner a crushing defeat last night. They refused to support his plan B
because it wasn`t extreme enough. So what was his plan C? Let everyone go
on Christmas vacation. And as for that that deal on taxes? The speaker
doesn`t have a clue.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: What are we going to do now?

solving the major problems that face our country. How we get there, god
only knows.


SHARPTON: God only knows? We don`t need divine intervention. We
need leadership. We need a speaker who can get his party in line. Twice,
GOP leaders can assure everyone they had the votes for a deal. Speaker
Boehner even filled the plan with goodies for the far right. Cuts to food
stamps, cuts to health care, cuts to Medicaid and, still, the far right
refused. They`d rather raise taxes on everyone than raise taxes on
millionaires. Yet, who`s the GOP blaming for this mess? The speaker, the
extremists in the party? Nope.


SEN. HARRY REID (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER: This isn`t John Boehner`s
problem to solve. I`ve said it many times before. We simply cannot solve
the problems we face unless and until the president of the United States
either finds the will or develops the ability, the ability, to lead.


SHARPTON: It`s the president`s fault? That your own party is in
shambles? That he`s ignoring the will of the people? It`s no wonder 53
percent of the GOP is unconcerned with the welfare of the people,
particularly those in the lower and middle income levels. Folks tend to
get that impression when you hold 98 percent of Americans hostage to the
interest of the rich. The Republican Party is a mockery at this point.
But what they`re doing to the country is far from funny.

Joining me now is E.J. Dionne is columnist for the "Washington Post"
and an MSNBC contributor and Jared Bernstein, senior fellow at the Center
on budget and policy priorities. He is also an MSNBC contributor and
former chief economist for vice president Joe Biden.

Thank you both for being here this evening.



SHARPTON: E.J., we just heard from the president. What`s your take?

DIONNE: Well, my take is that the Republican Party in the House in
particular does not seem to be interested in governing or at least about
30-60 members of that caucus aren`t. Because when you look at what
happened here, President Obama moved very far toward the Republicans in his
proposal. There`s a lot of stuff in that proposal that his owned
supporters don`t like very much. There was very little distance, really,
between the president`s proposal and where Boehner said he was. But the
Republicans just are not interested in compromising.

And I think the only way out of this is going to be a deal if Boehner
would allow it, where you`re going to need a lot of Democratic votes united
to those Republicans who know we`ve got to solve this problem. But, I
think it`s a real crisis in the government if we keep going like this.

SHARPTON: Now, when you look at this, Jared, the president said
something that was key. He said that he had just spoken to speaker
Boehner. He also said this can be done in the last ten days. He came out
himself. He didn`t send out a statement. He did something bold. He came
out, addressed the public, laid to challenge out himself. He said he had
spoken to both speaker and Harry Reid. Does this mean that the president
feels this deal can be done? And what do you think, Jared?

BERNSTEIN: I`m skeptical on both counts, I`m afraid to say. I mean,
perhaps eggnog and the company of loved ones and a few Christmas carols
will help, but I don`t think so. The president was essentially offering
the Senate bill legislation that`s been on the table for a long time. It
very much implies that the upper-income Bush tax cuts expire, which, as
we`ve talked about many times, was initially very much part of this

And, as E.J. pointed out, he`s actually already compromised on that by
lifting the income threshold from 250,000 up to 400,000. So, I don`t know
why that would repeal to particularly House republicans who have blocked
now a plan that is far, far, far less acceptable to Senate Democrats sort
of president than that one. So, I don`t want to be negative and maybe
things could change. But, unless John Boehner is willing to get that kind
of deal over the transom with largely democratic support, I think we may
well be headed over the cliff.

SHARPTON: But, E.J., the politics of this is crushing. And maybe the
target her of the president is not those Republicans. It might be what you
started out talking about, and that is whether Boehner will decide to go
with a minority of the majority. He just spoke with Boehner. Boehner has
been brutally attacked for what happened last night by conservatives.

Look at this. Washington Post conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin
called the fiasco a stunning miscalculation. Ed Morrissey said Boehner
lost control of the caucus and with it, any juice he might have.

I mean, the Washington examiner says Boehner is now useless. If I`m
John Boehner and they`ve already given me this humiliating defeat, what do
I have to lose to come back and deal with a minority of the majority if, in
fact, it will save the American people of this kind from going over the
cliff and the repercussions that go with it.

DIONNE: Well, I do think he has kind of a moment of conscious over
this holiday and a moment of decision. It`s worth noting Jennifer Rubin`s
piece also went after the Republicans in the House for giving everybody the
sense that they can govern. She`s a conservative saying that. A lot of
conservatives are saying that.

And if there`s any hope that we get some kind of resolution or at
least partial resolution to keep us from going over the cliff. I think
it`s, A, Boehner decides that no matter what the house is going to do in
terms of electing him speaker, the right thing to do and the way to look
better in history and to Americans is to try to make a deal.

But, I also think you`re seeing an awful lot of criticism in the
Republican house again, not just from Liberals. I don`t care much about
that. But I think from Republicans themselves who say wait a minute, we
cannot present to the country this image of being incapable of reaching
basic decisions. And we can`t be held accountable for throwing this over
the cliff. So I think there is some possible t possibility Jared`s
pessimism is probably well-taken, but I think there is some possibility
that they`re going to have second thoughts about where this has left them
as a party.

SHARPTON: Go ahead, Jared.

BERNSTEIN: Can I comment on that, Rev?


BERNSTEIN: I mean, imagine that they pass something like the
president just offered sometime in very late December, you know, 28th,
29th. Literally, a few days later, they could pass the same thing. And
even though it sounds very silly, Republicans would score it as a massive
tax cut because it would be off a new law baseline that includes the higher
tax rates.

Now, I get that this is very silly, but, if you`re a Republican who
doesn`t want to ever be on record as voting for a tax increase, then, you
just wait a few days. And you reverse this thing if you really won`t make
a difference to the economy if we sort of do a bungee jump as opposed to a
cliff dive. So, it`s not necessarily a terrible outcome, but it might be
more real than some people`s political, you know, outlooks.

DIONNE: I wish Jared were wrong, but he might well be right about

SHARPTON: But, when you look -- Jared, let me ask you this. When you
look at they voted against, I mean the deal that they would have voted with
Boehner, would have raised taxes on just 0.3 percent, 0.3 percent of


SHARPTON: A plan that Grover Norquist even said did not violate the
tax pledge. And it also includes cuts to food stamps, Medicaid and
healthcare. So I understand there are some Republicans that want to be
able to always say to their constituents they never voted for a tax hike.
But, I mean, this is the reason why E.J. is saying, they may be slammed by
conservatives, it`s like they won`t take yes for an answer.

BERNSTEIN: Look. This plan B was a complete nightmare. I mean,
you`re absolutely right. By the way, I was saying it`s 0.3 percent. But
Boehner said it`s 0.2 percent. And even narrower group than that by his
measure. And you know, if you look at the tax benefits because you would
be -- you would be holding the rates where they are for people between 250
and a million relative to what the president is talking about, it`s
actually a tax cut of about 110,000 per year for millionaire families. And
then, how are you making up the losses of that revenue, by cutting the heck
out of food stamps and Medicaid and kids` insurance and meals on wheels. I
mean, this is the stuff we were arguing with Ryan and Mitt Romney about.

SHARPTON: Well, let me ask quickly. E.J., will we go over the cliff
or will this be solved by the end of the year in the next ten days?

DIONNE: My head mostly says we`re going to go over. I just have this
feeling that we`re not done with this. That this was a very bad 24 hours
for the Republicans and they may have second thoughts. By the way, where
is General Ryan? He didn`t come out at all today.


BERNSTEIN: Yes. I know. I fear we`re probably going over, I hope
E.J. is right in that I hope if we go over, it`s a bungee jump, not a cliff

SHARPTON: Thank you for your time this evening. Both of you have a
great weekend.

DIONNE: Merry Christmas, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Merry Christmas to you, too.

Still ahead, President Obama makes a big announcement about his
security team. But why are Republicans still going after Susan Rice?

Plus, the tea party`s "dear John" letter to Boehner. Do Republicans
created musk? Can Democrats take them out before they take down the

Also, the NRA comes face-to-face with reality. The American people
say guns are part of the problem. Not part of the solution.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: NRA has blood on its hands. The NRA has blood
on its hands. Shame on the NRA. Ban assault weapons now.


SHARPTON: You won`t believe what the NRA wants to do to our schools.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.


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

Today`s biggest reaction came from the protest that broke out at the
NRA press conference.

Fred says interesting that the NRA is talking about security while
being unable to secure its own press conference.

Jodi asked will the NRA never admit that assault weapons are not
necessary and kill countless people.

Our fans also love this photo of the president observing a moment of
silence for Sandy Hook this morning.

Derold said quote "I prayed that we can learn how to resolve problems
without the use of guns.

We want to hear what you think, too. Please, head over to facebook
and search "Politics Nation" and like us to join the conversation that
keeps going long after the show ends.



OBAMA: Call me a hopeless optimist, but I actually still think we can
get it done. And, with that, I want to wish every American a merry
Christmas and, you know, because we didn`t get this done, I will see you
next week.


SHARPTON: President Obama, just moments ago, re-affirming his
commitment to getting a deal on taxes before the fiscal cliff on New
Year`s. The president made the point that this is a real-world issue with
real world consequences. It`s not just some game for politicians to play
inside the beltway.


OBAMA: Nobody can get a hundred percent of what they want. And this
is not simply a contest between parties in terms of who looks good and who
doesn`t. They`re real world consequences to what we do here. And I want
next year to be a year of strong economic growth. I want next year to be a
year in which more jobs are created and more businesses are started. And
we`re making progress on all of the challenges that we have out there.


SHARPTON: There`s too much going on, too much at stake for
Republicans to hold the economy hostage just because they want to protect
the rich. This is a question of fairness. And we must continue to fight
for it.

Joining me now is Congressman Steve Cohen, Democrat from Tennessee and
former Pennsylvania governor, Ed Rendell, now an NBC News political

Thanks to both of you for being here tonight.


REP. STEVE COHEN (D), TENNESSEE: Nice to be with you.

SHARPTON: Congressman, let me start with you. The president said
nobody can get a hundred percent of what they want. But you`ve seen the
right wing Republicans in the house. They don`t seem to get that.

COHEN: No, they don`t. They`re an immature group, politically. Many
of them were new to politics in 2010 and they came with the idea of no
revenues and no taxes at all. And they -- you think you can see what the
president has had to deal with for the last two years, people have
questioned the president and his working across bipartisan ways. He`s
tried to be bipartisan, but this group is rigid, immature, inexperienced
and looking at for their political good.

You know, Mitch McConnell wanted to beat the president. Now, the
president can`t be beaten. But these folks are not concern about re-
election. They came to Washington to change Washington, but their main
concern is reelection and they don`t want anybody saying you raised taxes
or you tax anybody, even the uber rich.

SHARPTON: But congressman, I want to be clear here because people
listed plan B and may not understand. We`re talking about them protecting
the rich and cutting food stamps, cutting Medicaid, cutting Medicare. I
mean, hurting middle class people, hurting poor people. And they act like
this is some badge of honor?

COHEN: Well, Al, you know, the sad thing is their main concern was
defense. And while it`s important we pay our soldiers and we take care of
our veterans, there`s a lot of defense equipment that is unnecessary and
expensive and really done for their contractors. That, they protected in
their bill. But they didn`t care of human beings and they really never
have. They don`t care about the safety net. In fact, they want to shred
the safety net.

Their main thing is millionaires. Bush attended some function up in
New York and said that is he base. That is the base of the Republican
Party, the uber wealthy, the Koch brothers and all of those people that
fall in that one - two-tenths of one percent upper echelon. They`re
getting a tax cut already with the president when he`s given in and raised
it to 400,000. The wealthy will pay the old rate rates on their first
$400,000 of income. And if there was a billion they would be paying the
old rates on the first million dollars of income.

This whole thing of millionaires is absurd. And the president went
far enough to 400,000. The idea was that the wealthy should sacrifice
some, too. That people who depend on government services would have
sacrificed through the sequester, but the people who benefited the most,
the wealthy, should pay something. When you get into 400,000, you`re
talking about the d, wealthy, even by the York in California standard and
to go to a million is ridiculous. That`s (INAUDIBLE) to a net level.

SHARPTON: Governor Rendell, the repercussions are already apparent
when you see Dow Jones closed down nearly 121 points today after the plan B
failure. The ramifications of this will only get worse if we go over the
cliff. You have governed in Pennsylvania. You have been known to sit
people down and make deals and make people come together. Can a deal be
made here? Can this be saved?

RENDELL: Well, it can be, Rev, but it`s not going to be easy. The
president has a very difficult task because as Congressman Cohen said. The
other side is incredibly immature and you know, the president said it could
have been taken right from the rolling stones song. You can`t always get
what you want. And that`s the truth. And the president should deliver a
stern message that if we go over the cliff; it`s not going to be 400,000 or
500,000. We`re going to do all the way up to the limit and it`s going to
be at 250,000, which the original tax rates are at.

He should make it clear, that this is their one chance to get that bit
of a bargain if they want it. But it`s very difficult when the other side
is in chaos. You want someone from across the table from you to make a
deal, someone strong enough that you can reach out your hand and shake the
hand and have a deal. Because then, you can reach a terrible compromise.
Right now, I doubt we have the ability to do that.

SHARPTON: Isn`t that the problem, though, governor, that we don`t
have real leadership on the other side that can deliver? I`ll give you an
example, something that struck me. National review reported on the closed
door conference meeting that Boehner held and it says, I`m reading from the
national review.

One Republican told a magazine that when they realized Boehner didn`t
have the votes quote, "my buddies and I said the same thing to each other."
We looked at each other, rolled our eyes and just groaned this is a
disaster. It is a disaster if you`re working with a guy that can`t deliver
his side of the deal, governor.

RENDELL: There`s no question. It makes it very hard for the
president and, worse, it makes it very hard for the country. Look, there
has to be revenue. Let`s say that a thousand times in a row so maybe we
can get through some of these guys. There has to be a trillion dollars in
revenue. We have more than a trillion. We have a serious problem. As
representative Cohen said, there has to be cuts in the defense department

Secretary Gates, A Republican, a hawk, had said, you could cut $80
billion a year from the defense budget and not hurt it. I think the
president has proposed he not only $10 billion a year in cuts from the
defense budget. But we have got to be mature about this. And in our side,
Rev, there`s going to be some pain for some of the people that we would
love to protect because we`ve got to give the other side something if we
want them to come along. So we`ve got to be mature about it, too.

I think in the end, And I would to hear Representative Cohen this, I
think in the end, most of our men and women will. But it`s going to be
tough on both sides. The president`s got to lead, and I thought his
statement today was terrific.

SHARPTON: Representative Cohen, you can give us your take on what the
governor just said. We`ve got to go, but, please, respond about we`re
going to have to take a little pain on our side?

COHEN: I think there will have to be some. And we do support our
president and speaker Pelosi is a great leader in getting us to support
what`s important for the country and a fair bargain and the president will
insist on a fair bargain. Hopefully, and governor Rendell has been such a
leader on infrastructure, hopefully, there will be something about
infrastructure because we need to improve our economy and put America
forward that put people to work. That`s the way to create these jobs and
infrastructure to get us off of this fiscal cliff - fiscal incline in the

SHARPTON: No doubt. We need jobs. Congressman Steve Cohen,
Governor Ed Rendell, thanks you for your time tonight.

RENDELL: Thanks, Rev.

COHEN: Reverend Sharpton, always good to be with you.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, the tea party built John Boehner up. And,
now, they`re tearing him down. How should Democrats respond to the mess?
The right wing has created.

But, first, we`re saying good-bye to the so-called war on Christmas.
We found a Republican lawmaker who actually takes this stuff serious. Stay
with us.


SHARPTON: With Christmas just days away, I wanted to update you on
one of my favorite holiday traditions. The right wing war on Christmas.
They`ve really gotten into the spirit this season.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We are pretty much the only ones covering the so-
called war on Christmas.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Let`s talk about the war on Christmas.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We`re not nuts, are we? There is a war on


SHARPTON: Are they nuts? I won`t answer that. But they`ve certainly
convinced people that this war is real. Including at least one elected
official. Texas state lawmaker Dwayne Bohac is introducing legislation he
calls the Merry Christmas bill. Bohac thinks teachers are afraid to say
Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah in schools.

And he doesn`t want anyone to be force to say holiday tree. Oh, the
horror. In fact, he told FOX News, quote, "if I hear it referred one more
time as a holiday tree or holiday party, I`m going to throw up." Please
don`t get sick, representative. This war on Christmas is complete baloney.
But folks on the right are getting desperate.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Santa if you will, I understand you don`t like to
say happy holidays. Why?

SAL LIZARD, AUTHOR, "BEING SANTA CLAUS": I can`t find any reference
where Santa has ever said anything other than Merry Christmas.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: What do you make of the political correctness
part of our culture?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You have got the biggest belt buckle I`ve ever

LIZARD: I`d like to say that the elves got the idea from Elvis.


SHARPTON: That certainly was a big belt buckle. But did they really
need a fake Santa to prove their war on Christmas is real? We don`t need
to ask Santa, Rudolph or Frosty to know this is a joke. Nice try, but we
got you. And oh, yes, happy holidays.


SHARPTON: What we`ve seen with the GOP in the last 24 hours is a
classic case of you reap what you sow. Republicans created a monster with
the Tea Party. And now, the monster has turned against them. The
spokesman for the conservative American majority action says, quote,
"Speaker Boehner needs to resign. He has no support among the American
people." Conservative Hugh Hewitt says, "Negotiating in secret and losing
in public is a bad combo. Good argument for a new speaker." Erick
Erickson, one of the first on the right to call for Boehner to be fired is
celebrating Boehner`s plan B defeat. Quote, "Victory for now." House goes
home. And here`s what conservative radio show host Mark Levin said just
hours before Boehner admitted he didn`t have the votes for plan B.


being told Boehner was dealt a bad hand. He was forced against the wall.
If the man`s not up to the job, get the hell out of the way. We delivered
him to the House of Representatives. He`s speaker and all he whines about
is "I`m only half of one third -- get the hell off the stage, Boehner."


SHARPTON: Get off the stage. And he`s a republican? Ouch. But,
look, Speaker Boehner rode the Tea Party wave as long as he could. Now,
it`s coming back to haunt him and his party. When the dust settles, what
will it mean for the rest of us?

Joining me now, Maria-Teresa Kumar, president and CEO of Voto Latino
and an MSNBC contributor and Ryan Grim, Washington Bureau chief for The
Huffington Post.

Ryan, let me go to you first. From the start, Republicans took an
extremist stand against President Obama. Now, with just 11 days until the
fiscal cliff, it seems the Tea Party is leading the GOP into chaos. Is
there a way out?

RYAN GRIM, THE HUFFINGTON POST: No, not for them. They seem to be
operating as if they have some type of leverage. As if, you know, January
1st, we hit default, we hit a debt ceiling and there`s some type of crisis
that everybody has to respond to. But that`s not at all the case. What
happens January 1st is taxes go up on a lot of people, Pentagon spending
gets slashed. So, they don`t have the hand but, you know, a lot of them
don`t care. What they`re worried about is the Tea Party in their own
districts. So, you know, they don`t want to vote to raise taxes. You
know, they`d rather just see what Harry Reid and Obama can do and let
Boehner just kind of twist in the wind here.

SHARPTON: You know, Maria, you did that impression because when
Boehner`s conference meeting was over and when he admitted that he didn`t
have the votes, it stunned the GOP. I`m looking at a note where republican
Congressman Mike Coffman told The Hill quote, "I`ve never seen anything
like it where leadership just completely backed down." It is stunning,

what Ryan says is absolutely right. The problem right now with the GOP is
it`s basically eating itself. And there`s no place for them to go. And
not only do they not have leverage, but all of the sudden, today, when the
president came out and communicated to the American people say, we are
trying to basically make sure that we don`t go over the fiscal cliff, we
are trying to make sure that you have a job the next day, come January 1
and that we`re not slashing defense spending and you could go down the

But also what the President is doing, he`s also making sure that he`s
banking on some political capitol. Because even with the stuff gap measure
that he presented today, he recognizes that that`s just a Band-Aid. But
the real issue that`s going to go -- coming up in the horizon is going to
be the debt ceiling where as the fiscal cliff actually causes a recession
internally here at home. The debt ceiling actually can cause a global
repercussion back then we`re going to be in much more difficult problems.

SHARPTON: But in this disarray. Does this not Maria present an
opportunity for the President?

KUMAR: It absolutely does. Again, it gets him political capitol with
the American people saying, not only did you overwhelmingly vote for me
basically to come and fix government, but I`m also being able to
demonstrate to you that Washington is broken and you`re going to have to
work very closely with your representatives. It gives him an opening with
his mass globalization. Everybody keeps saying, what is he going to do
with the 60 million people that he has in his data base. He`s going to
basically direct him to go call the members of Congress and say, you better
change it because we`re on the President`s side on this.

SHARPTON: Now, Ryan, the President clearly has made the appeal, the
compromise. The American public has shown an opposed. They think the
Republican Party is extreme and inflexible. But let`s remember in 2010,
John Boehner did everything he could to appeal to the Tea Party and not
deal at all with compromise. Listen to John Boehner when he famously had
troubles even saying the word compromise back then.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: But governing means compromising.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It also means compromising.

BOEHNER: It means finding common ground. When you say the word
compromise, a lot of Americans look up and go oh, they`re going to sell me

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: So you did compromise?

BOEHNER: We found common ground.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Why won`t you say -- you`re afraid of the word.

BOEHNER: I reject the word.


SHARPTON: That was, Ryan, two years ago this month. Now he`s saying
let`s compromise. And the Tea Party Republicans are saying exactly that.
You`re selling us out. Has the chickens come home to roost for the

GRIM: Well, they sure have. You know, and he knew from the very
beginning that this was going to be an awfully tough caucus for him to try
to rule. And, you know, he did a couple things this week that while he`s
being publicly humiliated, do help him to keep his job. And one is that,
he was able to bring anybody who would replace him into this fight with
him. You know, so McCarthy, Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor, they all kind of have
blood on their hands. You know, there were all tried to win votes. They
all endorsed Boehner`s strategy to try to push this through. And so, when
it failed, it`s not like there was anybody who could say, look, I was
telling you guys not to do this the entire time.

And the other thing he did is that he didn`t force the vote. You
know, he pulled it back, which is what the Tea Party wanted. So, in a
sense, he obeyed the will of the Tea Party and gave them what they want,
which is not to vote on this. If he had pushed it forward, forced the vote
and it would have gone down, then it would have been tough for him to get
reelected as speaker on the third of January. But because he followed
their will, then what more does the Tea Party want? They control him
rather than the other way around. So, as far as they`re concerned, he`s a
perfect speaker.

SHARPTON: But Maria, when you look at the political cost to this so
far, I mean, when you look at President Obama won reelection by a margin of
five million votes. Democrats had a net gain in the Senate of two seats.
Now, host of 55 to 45 majority. Democrats had a net gain of eight House
seats. And they won the house popular vote by 1.2 million votes. The fact
is, their brand of politics is extreme politics of the Tea Party has
backfired big time on them.

KUMAR: That`s absolutely correct, Reverend. What the difference
between the Boehner of 2010 and Boehner of today is basically he recognized
that unless the Tea Party loses its voice, there`s no way that a republican
majority is ever going to hit even though with the Senate or the White
House. He sees the big picture. And the problem is, how does he bring the
Tea Party with him? And that, the likelihood of that is unlikely.

SHARPTON: Maria-Teresa Kumar and Ryan Grim, thanks for your time this

KUMAR: Thank you, Reverend.

GRIM: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, the President makes a big move in his cabinet.
But Republicans are still on the attack. And still going after Susan Rice.

Plus, America stands up to the NRA. The gun lobby unveils a shocking
proposal for our schools. That`s next.


SHARPTON: President Obama made a big move today, nominating
Massachusetts Senator John Kerry to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of
state. Senator Kerry has been a powerful ally to the president, working as
a special envoy on special missions in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He`s a
veteran of the Vietnam War and back in 1971, he gave this courageous
testimony about ending the war to the Foreign Relations Committee. The
panel he`d oversee decades later.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in
Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?


SHARPTON: A warrior and statesman who knows the cost of war. That`s
who President Obama named to be the new face of America`s foreign policy.

Joining me now is Bob Shrum, senior advisor to John Kerry`s
presidential campaign and now a professor at NYU. Bob, you`ve known
Senator Kerry for a long time. What`s your reaction to today`s
announcement first of all?

BOB SHRUM, NYU PROFESSOR: Well, I think the President had the right
line. He`s the perfect choice. He`s the perfect choice for three reasons.
First, Hillary Clinton and her service in that role has changed the nature
of it. People around the world have come to expect a very large, a very
senior figure as secretary of state. And John Kerry fulfills that. I
think people around the world look at him and they say, he was almost
president of the United States. They know him. They take him very

Secondly, Reverend, as you know because you were in all of those
debates with him, he has an extraordinary mastery of foreign policy. He
really understands it. He also understands how to move things. He moved
that Arms Control Treaties through the Senate. And, third, he has a
remarkable coolness under pressure. I saw this in the fall of 2003. When
everybody wrote us off, he said he had no chance for the nomination. And
we just kept going, going up to New Hampshire, had no press following us.
Never once did I see him lose his temper. I mean, he knew what he was
doing. And he knew he was going to stick to his course and he never, ever
got pushed off. And I think that`s a really important quality to have in
America`s chief diplomat.

SHARPTON: Well, I concur. I mean, I don`t know him as well as you
did, but having run against him in the primaries and then worked with him
around his election, I can agree with all that you`ve said about him
personally. But let me ask you on a policy level, how will this change
America`s foreign policy?

SHRUM: Oh, I don`t think the foreign policy is going to
fundamentally change. I think the president is the principle foreign
policy officer in this government. But I think John Kerry will be there.
He will be giving advice. He`s a very good negotiator. I think Hillary
Clinton has done a brilliant job. I think we`re going to end up with two
brilliant secretaries of state in a row. And I think that`s good for the
country. What`s really happened in the last four years aside from all the
headlines about Osama bin Laden, the drone strikes, the fact that we`re
ending Iraq and Afghanistan as wars is that we`ve been restoring respect
for America around the world. And I think Kerry will make a huge
contribution to that.

SHARPTON: Now, believe it or not, just moments before the President
was announcing his nomination of Kerry, Republicans were on the hill
attacking Susan Rice over Benghazi this afternoon. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The story she told on 16, September was completely
out of line with reality on the ground. I just thought she was very eager
to tell a story that did not make a lot of sense. I believe to suggest
this thing was anything other than a terrorist attack fit a political


SHARPTON: I mean, it`s just -- it`s unbelievable. They keep going
after Susan Rice. Now, we have a new nominee. How do you think they will
handle the nomination of Senator Kerry?

SHRUM: Well, I think Senator Kerry will be confirmed. I don`t think
there will be a huge dust up about this. There may be no dust up at all.
People in the Senate know him. Republicans have said how much they respect
him. But I want to say a word about Susan Rice. Because I know her and
I`ve worked with her. She`s a person of enormous talent and enormous
integrity. And you listen to the stuff we just heard. You`re tempted to
borrow a line from history and say, "Senator, have you no sense of decency
left at all? At long last, "have you know sense of decency left?

I mean, to suggest that this person who has given a lot to this
country, somehow or other, was intentionally misleading Americans is wrong.
And I have some news for them if they don`t like her. Guess what, she`s
going to be around for the next few years as the United States ambassador
to the United Nations and a member of the cabinet.

SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you quickly this. Mr. Kerry`s nomination
and you predict confirmation opens up the Senate seat in Massachusetts.
And a lot of names are being flown around. But a poll says that if Scott
Brown who was just defeated by democrat Elizabeth Warren, if he runs, 47
percent would vote for Brown, 39 percent would vote for a generic democrat.
The Democrats stand a chance to lose that seat and Scott Brown returned to
the Senate.

SHRUM: Well, there are two other polls up there. One of which shows
him winning against various Democrats, the other that shows most of the
Democrats beating him. I think the fundamental structure of that race
favors the Democrats assuming they get a strong nominee. Scott Brown is
sitting there even in that poll of 47 percent, not a 50 percent. I think
as we go through the next months and we talk about guns, we talk about
immigration, we talk about tax fairness and the fiscal cliff. That`s going
to be tough for Scott Brown. Because people in Massachusetts are not going
to want to elect someone who goes down there and votes with these cookie

SHARPTON: Bob Shrum, thanks for your time tonight.

SHRUM: Happy holiday.

SHARPTON: Same to you. Happy holiday. Today, the NRA made a
stunning proposal for what it wants to do in America`s schools. That`s


SHARPTON: At 9:30 this morning, people all across the country
observed a moment of silence marking the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary
school one week ago today.

The silence spoke much louder than words, especially the words we
heard just a short time later. When the NRA held his first press
conference since the tragedy.


stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. We need to have every
single school in America immediately deploy a protection program proven to
work. And, by that, I mean armed security.


The NRA thinks the only way to solve gun violence is to call for more
guns? And to blame politicians, video games, movies, music videos and, of
course, the media? Anybody and anything except guns. We`ve heard this
kind of talk for years. It`s not a solution to the gun violence we see. I
was in Chicago yesterday. A city in the midst of a killing epidemic. Take
a look at this map.

The yellow dots mark all the shootings that have taken place in
Chicago this year. The red dots are all the fatal shootings. It is not
just in Chicago or Newtown. Across America since 1979, more than 116,000
children and teenagers have been killed by guns. We can`t listen to
anymore of this nonsense from the NRA. The time for their talk is over.
Now is the time for action and real change. On gun control. The way to
meet a bad guy with a gun and stop him is to make sure he doesn`t have a
gun. And good people don`t need guns. They need protection from bad
people having access to them.

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


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