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PoliticsNation, Monday, January 14th, 2013

Read the transcript from the Monday show

January 14, 2013

Guests: Chaka Fattah; Ryan Grim; Larry Ward

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

Tonight`s lead, taking control. It`s been exactly one month since 20
first graders were shot and killed in their classrooms at the Sandy Hook
elementary school. And that one month had radically up ended the gun
debate in this country.

We were reminded of that today listening to parents who lost their
children, five and 6-year-olds in the Sandy Hook shooting. Some of them
bravely spoke out on the need for change trying to turn their private
tragedy into the public good.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On Friday, December 14th, I put two children on
the bus and only one came home. I pray that no mother, father, grand
parent or care giver of children ever have to go through this pain.

myself reaching for Dilen`s hand to walk through a parking lot or expecting
him to crawl into bed beside me for early morning cuddles before we get
ready for school. It`s so hard to believe he`s gone.

honor our beautiful Aviel and all the others who have fallen to such
senseless violence.


SHARPTON: That cuts through everything. Through all the Washington
talk and all of the NRA propaganda and that`s what made the president`s
comments on gun control so important today.

At a news conference, he announced he was meeting with vice president
Biden to discuss his proposals and said by the end of this week, he will
announce his plans to the American people.


not to worry about the politics. My starting point is to focus on what
makes sense, what works. What should we be doing to make sure that our
children are safe and that we`re reducing the incidence of gun violence?
If there`s a step we can take that will save even one child from what
happened in Newtown, we should take that step.


SHARPTON: We should take that step. And, already, steps are being
made. Today, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg`s group released an ad
pleading for more guns safety. New York governor Andrew Cuomo is on the
verge of sweeping legislation at the state level. And Maryland governor,
Martin O`Malley, is pushing for legislation of his own.

Change is happening. Change will happen. And no one, not the NRA,
not gun lobbyists, no one should substantial doubt in the way.


OBAMA: Those who oppose any common sense gun control or gun safety
measures have a pretty effective way of ginning up fear on the part of gun
owners that, somehow, the federal government`s about to take all of your
guns away. And, now, that there is a probably an economic elements to
them. It, obviously, as good for business.


SHARPTON: Gun groups have been good at ginning up fear. They`ve been
good at coming up with reasons why we can`t act.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: What`s wrong with universal background

it`s a false security to think that somehow we`re going to spot problems
when there`s really no way to spot these problems. We`re wasting our time
going in that direction when we should be talking about doing away with a
gun-free zone.


SHARPTON: Wasting our time. We`re wasting our time. Tell that to
the Sandy Hook parents. Tell them that this discussion is a waste even
when they found the courage to continue on.


HOCKLEY: Our hearts are broken. Our spirit is not. This is our
promise, the Sandy Hook promise.


SHARPTON: These parents made a promise. A promise to fight for their
children`s memory. The least we can do is to promise to stand alongside
them. Now is not the time to get tired, not the time to give in. It`s the
time to get involved, the time to act, to keep up the demand for change.

Joining me now is Congressman Chaka Fattah, a Democrat from
Pennsylvania. He is vice chair of the Gun Violence Prevention task force
and Ryan Grim, Washington Bureau chief for "the Huffington Post."

Congressman Fattah, let me start with you. Will those powerful words
from the Sandy Hook parents help keep the pressure from the new gun laws,
new gun safety laws?

REP. CHAKA FATTAH (D), PENNSYLVANIA: I believe that we`re going to
see real success. The vice president is going to offer full of package
that I think every measure is going to be reasonable and effective. The
notion around universal background checks, very important. Almost 40
percent of the people who buy guns in our country or guns are transferred
to them have no background check. Ninety percent of the public believes
that everyone gets a background check. And even NRA members agree that you
should have a background check in order to buy guns. So, we can, I think,
have success there.

An assault weapons ban, we had one in police station before. We`re
going to get a new one put in place. We need to make sure that is even
more effective. But I think there`s more that we can do. The parent of
the young man in Newtown, supposedly, had these guns to do target practice

This is where the NRA and his voice clubs can come in. Let`s have gun
safety lockers at the target practice range rather than have these assault
weapons in people`s home. We need to ban any future sale and we need to
try to work so that those who do own them, if they`re not for home
protection, let`s have them in a safe place so that we don`t have a repeat
of this instance.

SHARPTON: Let me ask this. You mentioned the assault weapons.

Ryan, let me come to you on this. You know the Congress. And there
are those that are saying that they are not going to do anything in terms
of gun reform. Some of the Democrats and the Senate sent a letter to the
president suggesting to leaving executive action, if necessary over the

Then, you have a freshman congressman Steve Stockman who`s from Texas.
He`s threatening impeachment if the president uses executive action on gun
control. In a statement quote, "I will seek to thwart executive action by
any means necessary including but not limited to eliminating funding for
implementation, defunding the White House, and even filing articles of

Now, that`s extreme, particularly when you look in history and find
out in 1989, Ryan, president George H. W. Bush used exactly that, executive
action to declare a permanent ban on all foreign-made semiautomatic assault
rifles. So here, we are seeing as partisan kind of hysteria where in fact,
a Republican president used the executive action. If it becomes necessary
here, I would hope that we would rise above the bipartisan -- I mean the
partisan bickering. I hope it`s not even necessary to deal with executive
action when we see these parents coming forward today from Newtown.

elements, I think there will have to be executive action, though, because,
you know, the conventional wisdom, at least, is that there`s a ton of
members of Congress who simply aren`t going to go along. And then you have
the extreme members, like the one you mentioned.

And I think part of the White House strategy is to kind of -- it`s not
hard for them to do it. But they want to smoke out the gun nuts. Like
when people like him say that, you know, people who might have been
sympathetic to the NRA become even less sympathetic because they become
embarrassed to be associated with lunacy like that.

So, you know, the more they can kind of bring that element up to the
floor, the NRA folks, then, end up losing capital on capitol hill. And
they`re trying to kind of split - they want, on one side, you want total
extreme gun nuts and the gun manufacturers on one side and then you want
everybody else, gun owners and people who back gun control on the other

SHARPTON: Congressman Fattah, but, it seems like the public,
according to all of the polls that I`ve seen, are squarely on the side of
some gun control measures, 85 percent support background checks for private
and gun show sales, 80 percent support preventing people with mental
illness for buying guns, 67 percent support a federal data base to track
gun sales. That`s new poll today. So, I mean, it seems like the public is
certainly with you.

FATTAH: Well, not only is the public with us. We`re going to do the
right thing. And you know, this is the same crew that were saying they
would never see taxes go up. Oh, we don`t need every member in a
Republican party. We need 218 votes in the house for a reasonable package.

And, you know, you have to watch for people to do, not just what they
say. In the U.S. capitol, you can`t walk in here with a gun. You can`t
walk in here with an assault weapon. Over in the Supreme Court which says
you have this unlimited right to have a gun, you can`t walk in there with a
gun. Why should people walk into our schools or movie theaters? That
Congress should provide the protection to the American public that they
assumed for themselves.

And well, we know that guns can be dangerous in the wrong hands.
That`s why we have all of the rules and regulations and the security
protections here. And we need to make sure that in our day care centers
and our communities, we provide a better safety environment for our

SHARPTON: Now, Ryan, it does, though, seems like some Republicans,
and I noticed the congressman said we don`t need them all, some Republicans
do sound like they are more open to possible gun legislation more than some
of the far right. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should we look at improving our background check
system? I`m willing to listen to what proposals come forward on that is

REP. PHIL GRINGREY (R), GEORGIA: There are some problems. And maybe
these huge magazines even for someone who says, look, I just use an ar-15
for target practice. But, do you really need to be shooting a silhouette?
A shot a second or even quicker with that weapon? For what purpose?


SHARPTON: Now, when you see a guy like Gingrey, who is from Georgia,
who by the way last week was defending Todd Akin, and when he`s talking
about, do you really need a lot of the magazines that have the ability to
shoot a lot of rounds, I mean, you`re starting to c see some cracks in the
armor of the far right extremists here.

GRIM: Right. I mean, you just simply do not need that. And that`s
the problem that these -- that these gun rights advocates have is that,
when he asked that question, what do you need that for? You don` you don`t
need it for anything. There`s no justification for owning a military-style
assault weapon and having it in your home. There just simply is none.

And you know, and if they want to compromise, you know, having it
locked up at some shooting range, you know, maybe that`s something that
Democrats could go for.

SHARPTON: All right, Congressman --

FATTAH: I think we could get it done and I think that we`re going to
get it done, notwithstanding the naysayers. Let`s have some votes on some
of these things and see how these members actually vote rather than willing
to protect their constituents and take care of their responsibility to make
this a safer country.

SHARPTON: Well, I think we need to call the roll because I think the
people in this country are tired of this.

Congressman Chaka Fattah and Ryan Grim, we`ll be watching. Thanks for
your time this evening.

FATTAH: And thank you.

GRIM: I`m glad to be here.

SHARPTON: Coming up. My interview with the man organizing a Gun
Appreciation Day and who`s made some controversial comments about slavery
and Dr. Martin Luther King. He`s here tonight live. You definitely don`t
want to miss this.

Plus, Colin Powell says what needs to be said. Telling some hard
truth about today`s Republican Party.


-- a dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party. What do I mean
by that? What I mean by that is they still sort of look down on


SHARPTON: But an ugly GOP backlash is already under way. President
Obama calls out some deadbeat Republicans who don`t want to pay the
nation`s bills. A big fight is brewing, but the GOP is cracking up.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.


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

Today, everyone was talking about the strong words President Obama had
for Republicans threatening the whole of the U.S. economy hostage.

Andrea says, how can you claim to be physically responsible and not
pay your bill?

Reginald says, they would rather see this country crash and burn than
to work with President Obama.

Richie predicts, the GOP will take quote "their bark is worse than
their bite.

We got more on the debt ceiling that it is coming in the show. Fist,
we want to hear what you think, too. Please head over to facebook and
search "Politics Nation" and like to join the conversation that keeps going
long after the show ends.


SHARPTON: In the months since a gunman killed 20 children at Sandy
Hook elementary, millions of Americans have been engaged in a serious
conversation about gun safety. But, we are hearing something else from the
other side.

A group of gun supporters is organizing a Gun Appreciation Day for
this Saturday. They want people to bring their copies of the constitution
to gun stores, firing ranges and gun shows all across the country.
Organizers say they modeled the campaign after the chick-fil-a appreciation
day last summer. Of course; on that day, people bought chicken. So, what
are they supposed to do on Gun Appreciation Day? Shoot guns? Buy guns?
Buy ammo?

The Sandy Hook tragedy affected every American in different ways. But
we need to move forward together to keep a tragedy like this from happening

Joining me now is Larry Ward, chairman of Gun Appreciation Day

Thanks for coming on the show tonight.

having me, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Now, so often in this debate, it seems like gun control
advocates and opponents don`t talk to one another. So, I`m kind of looking
forward to our conversation.

WARD: Me, too.

SHARPTON: I want to read something you said about why we need Gun
Appreciation Day. You said quote, "we decided that the politicians have
forgotten out Americans feel about their guns and it`s time to remind them.

How have politicians forgotten how people feel about their guns,

WARD: Well, you know, there`s a lot of talk about gun control. You
know, we -- this Gun Appreciation Day, just so we`re clear, is not in
reaction to the shooting in Newtown. It`s in reaction to the reactions in
terms of the legislation that`s being introduced into c congress. Senator
Feinstein`s bill and President Obama and Joe Biden`s comments that they
guaranteed sweeping gun control legislation by the end of the month.

SHARPTON: But you can appreciate guns without appreciating magazines
that shoot a hundred rounds ad appreciating automatic weapons and
semiautomatic weapons. You`re talking about legislation that clearly talks
about person types of weapons, certain types of magazines, not all guns.
Let`s not distort what the legislation is saying.

WARD: Well, in Diane Feinstein`s bill, in the summary that I read,
you know, she lists handguns as, you know, as handguns that are
semiautomatic, which are the majority of handguns that are sold in this
country in her proposed legislation. So, you know, we are talking about,
you know, the guns that people use on a regular and everyday basis to
defend their homes and defend their families.

SHARPTON: Well, it hasn`t been introduced yet. We don`t know what
the final bill will say. But, let`s just cut to the chase. Are you
supporting on Saturday, on Gun Appreciation Day, automatic weapons and
magazines that go with 30-100 rounds? Is that part of appreciation day?

WARD: Well, you know what? I believe that right now, any ban on a
semiautomatic weapon would not have, you know, changed the outcome of what
happened in Newtown. It would not have changed the outcome of what
happened in Aurora. We have so many laws in the books on gun control. We
have, I think, close to 20,000 laws in the country. In those 20,000 laws,
they failed in Aurora, they failed in Newtown and they failed, quite
frankly in --

SHARPTON: We don`t have laws banning the semiautomatic weapons and
the magazines. I`m asking you again. Will you be supporting that on
Saturday on Gun Appreciation Day?

WARD: Absolutely. It`s part of the second amendment. And here`s --

SHARPTON: It`s not part of the second amendment. The second
amendment gave you the right to bear arms. There were no magazines
shooting a hundred rounds. And there were no automatic weapons when the
second amendment was written.

WARD: Well, the second amendment in is clear. They founding fathers,
you know, wrote a lot about this and wrote that the second amendment is for
three purposes. To defend one`s self and one`s property, to defend the
country in case of foreign invasion and to defend, you know, against the
potential government that would turn on its people.

SHARPTON: Yes, but you - I mean, well, you could say that I should
have the right to have a nuclear weapon. If you want to just leave it open
there. The second amendment didn`t address the specifics of what we`re
dealing with today. But let me ask you something --

WARD: Let me address that real quick. Here`s how I feel about that
argument. Because quite frankly, the last few times I`ve been on MSNBC,
I`ve been flooded that question, I had to think to about it quite a bit.

I believe that the issue of, you know, rocket launchers, should we
have nuclear bombs, should we have this. I believe that any weapon that
the United States government engages its citizens with should be open for
the citizens to be able to buy and protect themselves from?

SHARPTON: Including rockets and nuclear bomb?

WARD: Well, they don`t - you know, we don`t engage -- the United
States doesn`t engage its citizens with rockets and nuclear bombs. They
engage them with weapons, assault rifles --

SHARPTON: And if they decide not to engage with assault weapons or
magazines, it would be the same as not engaging in these nuclear bombs?


SHARPTON: But let me ask you something else. We`re going to run out
of time.

WARD: Sure.

SHARPTON: You`ve got a lot of attention for something you said Friday
on CNN. When you were asked about holding Gun Appreciation Day the weekend
before Dr. Martin Luther King day, let`s listen to what you said.


WARD: I believe that Gun Appreciation Day honors the legacy of Dr.
King. I think martin Luther King would agree with me, if we were lives
today, that if African-Americans had been given the right to keep and bear
arms from day one of the country`s founding, perhaps slavery might not have
been a chapter in our history.


SHARPTON: Now, first of all, Larry, you do realize Martin Luther King
was killed by a gun. And that he preached all of his life against the use
of any weapons and preached turn the other cheek. So you do realize what
you said was a total anti-thesis of Dr. King. I don`t know how much you
know about Dr. King.

WARD: Of course, I do. I know quite a bit.

SHARPTON: So why did you say you think he would support you?

WARD: Well, you know, I`m not only do I stand by my statement that
Martin Luther King would, you know, Gun Appreciation Day honors lacy Martin
Luther King, but also, entire civil rights movement. You know, we have,
you know, the great (INAUDIBLE) said a Winchester rifle should be at a
place of honor in every black home.

SHARPTON: No, wait a minute. We`re talking about Martin Luther King
weekend. You said that he would be supportive. You just admitted that you
know he was against violence. He preached turn the other chick. Cheek.
He was killed by. How came the story back to King?

WARD: He also went for a gun permit and was turned down --

SHARPTON: And he also said that he`s glad he was and that he never
would carry a gun again and refused to carry a pistol. Finish the story.

WARD: Sure. Sure. Well, here`s what I believe. I believe that Dr.
King, you know, fought for equal opportunity. And we look at cities like
Chicago and New York that have a majority of minorities. And those cities,
themselves, do not grant the same access, the same equal opportunity that
perhaps somebody in Texas would have to defend themselves.

SHARPTON: But Dr. King was against violence. Do you understand how
despicable it would be to members of his family that saw their father
killed by gunfire to say that you are in some way continuing his legacy on
King weekend by doing Gun Appreciation Day when he preached against that
and died from a bullet wound? And then to say that there wouldn`t have
been slavery if slaves had the right -- slaves didn`t have any rights.

WARD: That`s exactly right.

SHARPTON: They didn`t have the right to marry. They didn`t have the
right to name their children. After that, why would they have a right to
guns? And in fact, when there were insurrections, and there were many, let
me show you, there were insurrections and they were all put down violently.
Are you aware of 1811 rebellion in two parishes in New Orleans, 1816,
rebellion in Fort Blount in Florida, 1831, rebellion led by Nat Turner in

There was slave rebellions all of them out down. But the fact that
Africans were brought here against their will and made slaves, it was not
like they had an option of any right, including wages. So I mean, either
you don`t know the history of slavery and understand the nuances or you
were just dealing in some hype -- I mean answer why you would even think to
bring up Dr. King and slavery in the context of your position. You have
the right to your position, but we have the right to different opinions.
But we don`t have the right to change facts.

WARD: Look, the fact is that gun ownership is a civil right. It`s a
civil right for every American to be able to defend themselves. And,
currently, you know, I believe that the civil right is not being equally,
you know, equally treated amongst everyone in America. The people in
Chicago, the people in New York, the people in Washington, D.C., they don`t
have the same rights as granted by the constitution as other people in the

SHARPTON: So why do we give them all equal rights of having gun
control? We all have the right to ride the front of the bus, it doesn`t
mean I can go on the bus and drive the bus. The right to bear arms doesn`t
mean you have the right to bear any arm and to bear magazines.

WARD: You made a point earlier, if the United States, in my opinion,
this is just me, if the United States wanted to ban assault weapons, well,
the government should go first. And turn in all of their assault weapons
and that they engage the American people with.

SHARPTON: So, citizens should have the rights that the government has
for military?

WARD: I didn`t say for military. I said what they engage people in
the United States.

SHARPTON: So, but, you`re saying the government should go first. The
government should disarm automatic weapons before they do it from the

WARD: Before they ask the citizens to disarm, yes.

SHARPTON: They should do it first. The government.

WARD: Yes.

SHARPTON: All right. You`re going to preach that Saturday for Gun
Appreciation Day. I just wanted to make sure I was clear because I might
miss your speech Saturday. I`ll be working on Dr. King stuff.

Larry Ward, thanks for your time tonight. We`ll be right back.

WARD: Thanks, Reverend.


SHARPTON: For decades, Republicans praised General Colin Powell as a
model of public service. He was President Reagan`s national security
advisor. He was chairman of the joint chiefs under the first President
Bush. He served as secretary of state for the second President Bush.
After getting a ruckus welcome at the GOP convention in 2000.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Please join me in welcoming General Colin Powell.


Republicans cheered him back then. They waved signs saying we love
Colin Powell. But they`re not cheering him now.

In fact, some Republicans are turning on General Powell with some
ugly, vile language. All simply because he told the truth about
intolerance in their party. We`ll have a big conversation about that
coming up.


SHARPTON: The President is starting off the New Year ready to fight.
First he pushes the GOP compromise on a last minute deal on the fiscal

And now, he`s taking on Republicans who are threatening to let the
government default on his loans. The President`s message to Republicans at
a news conference today was simple. Do not hold the nation hostage.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: The issue here is whether or
not America pays its bills. We are not a deadbeat nation.

This is not a complicated concept. You don`t go out to dinner and
then, you know, eat all you want and then leave without paying the check.


SHARPTON: What`s the GOP solution? A government shutdown. One top
republican leadership advisor tells Politico today that conservatives
quote, "May need a shutdown just to get it out of their system," saying
quote, "We might need to do that for member management purposes so they can
have an end game and can show their constituents their fighting."

It`s clear that Republicans do have a problem with the far right wing
of their party. But the rest of the country shouldn`t have to pay for it.

Joining me now is former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, former DNC
chairman and now an NBC political analyst. And Michael Steele, MSNBC
analyst and former chairman of the RNC. Thank you both for being here



SHARPTON: Michael, let me go to you first. Can John Boehner and
Mitch McConnell handle the split within their party?

STEELE: They`re going to have to, Reverend. There`s no doubt about
that. And I think it`s a serious split and a deep split, it`s fundamental,
it`s philosophical and it goes to whether or not, you know, we`re going to
draw a bright line in the sand and say enough is enough. I get the
president`s point about going out to dinner and spending money on the
credit card are not paying the bill, but you don`t go out to dinner when
you don`t have any money left to spend on that credit card in the first

SHARPTON: But they`ve already went to dinner. They`ve already eaten,

STEELE: No, but it`s not just about they`ve already gone to dinner as
over the last four years, we`ve seen six trillion dollars added to our
nation`s debt. So the question is the spending hasn`t stopped. And at
what point do we stop the spending? And that`s a legitimate question that
within the rank of the Republican Party, in the Congress in particular,
they`re now assessing how do we make the argument, make the case to the
president and the country that enough is enough is enough.

SHARPTON: But Governor Rendell, we knew the debt when we went out to
dinner and we ordered and we ate anyway. So I mean, it looks to me like a
little disingenuous in their argument there. And, again, give the weight,
you were chief executive in Pennsylvania, give the weight of what happens
if we breech the debt ceiling?

Social Security checks will be late, veterans benefits delayed, troops
won`t get paid, tax returns held up, interest rates could spike, markets
could go haywire. It could dip into the recession. Deficit would go up.
I mean, we`re talking about a very punishing thing that will affect
American people who had nothing to do with what they`re trying to object to
or deal with.

RENDELL: Well, you`re absolutely right, Reverend. And Michael made a
very skilled argument but the weakness is, as you said, it`s Congress who
spent that money. They`re the once who have the spending authority and
they spent it. Whether they liked it or not, they were the ones who spent
it. But it`s more important than that. It`s what you point out.

The stakes here are really high for the Republican Party. Far be it
from you to advise the Republican Party. But if I did, I would say stay
away from shutting the government down. Stay away from letting the debt
ceiling not be raised because those are things that the American people
will hate. They`ll hate us defaulting on our obligations and they`ll blame
you for it. They`ll hate us shutting the government down and they blame
you for it.

If you want to make a stand, make it on the sequester. The sequester
has a lot of things that are painful to the Democrats, painful to the
president. That`s the place to make the stand. And, look, everyone
agrees, every rational person agrees with Michael. You`ve got a spending
person as well as a revenue problem. And we`ve got to cut spending.

But if you`re Republicans, make it under sequester and that`s the
battlefield that you can play on. If you shut the government down or if
you don`t allow the debt ceiling to be raised and America defaults on its
debts, whoa is you. There are a lot of suburban republican congressmen who
are absolutely signing their death warrant if they do that, Michael.

SHARPTON: Well, Michael, how about that? Why not make the point on
the sequester? Why go to this extreme of a government shutdown?

STEELE: Well, I`d actually agree with the governor on that point. I
think that that is a better spot to hold some ground. Quite honestly,
because those cuts are already in play. Everybody knows they`re there.
They`re across the board on the entitlement side as well as the defense
side. And I think as the governor rightly pointed out that there is
balanced pain. So there is some value to making a point there.

But I think also leading up to that, the argument wants to be made and
needs to be made by Republicans in the Congress and around the country that
to the governor`s point, we do have a broad-based spending problem that is
intractable at this point. And that it involves, yes, you know, the debt,
the nation`s credit card. It involves the size and the growth of
government and how big it should or should not with.

And so, having that conversation can be good as long as on the outside
of it, that there are some definable directions that we can take to cut the
government spending, to bring this thing back and then to control. And
that leads us to the point the government just made on sequester.

SHARPTON: But Governor Rendell, Congresswoman Marshall Blackburn for
example of Tennessee, she says government shutdown is an option. Listen to


REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: I think that there is a way to
avoid default if it requires shutting down certain portions of the
government. Let`s look at that. Let`s put these options on the table. Be
very thoughtful but get this spending pattern broken.


SHARPTON: What is thoughtful, Governor Rendell, about a shutdown of
government in total or in part? What is thoughtful about that? If you`re
really trying to deal with spending. It would only exacerbate the problem
if you have government shutdowns.

RENDELL: Sure. And, in fact it`s defaulting on our debts and
obligations. I mean, it makes no sense at all. And the people will turn
on the Republicans, just as they did when Newt Gingrich shut the government
down and Bill Clinton was president. Bill Clinton won that going away
hands down. And look, the one thing that I think that Michael and I agree
on and the people in the campaign to fix the debt and Simpson Bowles, is
we`re not going to fix our problem, Rev, by who wins political battles.

If the Republican Party wants to eat itself alive, sure it will make
the conservatives happy but you`ll lose those suburban republican moderates
in Cleveland, in suburban Cleveland, suburban Philadelphia, suburban St.
Louis and places like that. They`re going to go down. And what could this
do to the Republican Party if the base is happy, but they lose control of
the house in 2014? It seems to me to be a death wish.

SHARPTON: Well, Michael, you were chair of the Republican Party and
clearly this is politically damaging if, in fact, they go through with it.
Congress under republican control, is now less popular than root canals,
replacement refs, cockroaches and Donald Trump. I mean, as a chairman of a
party, you chaired it when they had the great midterm election. Can you
now come back to a party that is less popular than cockroaches, and root
canal and tell them you really don`t want to do this?


STEELE: Yes, Reverend. I mean, look, the party has got a -- not just
a branding problem, he`s got big political problem that has been -- around
for now two years. And it`s about how we`ve communicate those very ideas
and principles and values and how we`ve talked about the economy and how
we`ve talked about involving everybody in the rehabilitation of this
economy. That laundry list that you gave earlier Reverend is so true.
You`re absolutely right.

All of those things happen if the government shuts down. But all of
those things happen, also, if we continue to spend the way we spend because
whether it`s today or tomorrow, the bill will come due. And the
Republicans I think have an opportunity here to principle and argument to
make the case of the American people for some of the ideas that touch on
less spending, that touch on a better management of our government and
touch on creating the types of incentives in the economy so that we rely
less on government spending and government programs and more on the private

SHARPTON: Well, I think we`re going to have to go, but I think, you
know, that the spending is not the question that any of us are saying is
not a question that we`re going to have to deal with. But I say, in the
words of the president, you knew that when you walked in the restaurant and
ordered, sat down and ate -- and then said you`re not going to pay the

STEELE: But so did he.

RENDELL: Hey, Rev.

SHARPTON: He didn`t spend the money.


He didn`t spend the money, Michael. Michael, we were trying to get
passed our first interview of the year without fighting and you`re messing
it up. I made a New Year`s resolution.

STEELE: He was on a date with the Congress.

SHARPTON: He was on the date with the Congress and they said that we
will pick up the tab. It was their date and now they`re stiffing the
restaurant and the date. Ed Rendell, Michael Steele, thank you for your
time tonight.

Coming up, Republicans attack Colin Powell for telling some hard
truths about diversity and their party. And, folks, it`s getting ugly.


SHARPTON: Still ahead, Colin Powell blasting the Republican Party for
its intolerance. How does the GOP respond? Well, by attacking the
message. That`s next.


SHARPTON: Former Secretary of State Colin Powell has given his party
a lot to think about and they don`t like it. On "Meet the Press," Powell
slammed the GOP`s intolerance.


vein of intolerance in some parts of the party. What do I mean by that? I
mean by that is they still sort of look down on minorities.


SHARPTON: Conservatives pounced calling Powell venomous and a back
stabbing lout. It`s amazing. GOP politicians have called President Obama
all kinds of names. And not one prominent party leader has denounced them.
But less than 24 hours after getting called out by one of their own,
Republicans are tearing Colin Powell apart.

Joining me now is Richard Wolffe, vice president and executive editor
of He covered then-Secretary of State Colin Powell in the run
up to the war on Iraq. And Maria Teresa Kumar, president and CEO of Voto
Latino and an MSNBC contributor. Let me thank both of you for your time.



SHARPTON: Richard, let me come to your first. Is this a case of the
truth hurts for the GOP?

WOLFFE: Well, you know, Colin Powell has incredible bona fide aids
with the Republican Party. He served successive republican presidents, he
chooses his words very carefully. He does not go out on these Sunday shows
unless he has something to say. And so, this is someone who has watched
this unfold and says things as he intends them to be.

And, you know, I understand why some people would be upset about
having to look in the mirror. But he is trying to get Republicans out of
good faith to look in the mirror and say we have messed up. We need to
change. This kind of reaction that he`s been getting only proves his

SHARPTON: Now, Maria, when you see the reaction, the hostility, I
mean, he`s called by Breitbart on Shapiro vile, Rubin, venomous. Laura
Ingraham says, he sounds more like Sharpton than Reagan. I mean, it`s not
like they`re getting the point when in reality, what he`s saying is to try
to get them to really clean up their act if their ebony said this in the
context. If they`re ever going to win a national election again. Why
would you get angry at somebody trying to help you overcome something that
is defeating you?

KUMAR: And why get angry at someone that is so well respected in the
country and who is trying to shepherd your party into a new era. President
Obama won with a new majority. He won among women, he won among Asians, he
won about Blacks, Latinos, he won among young people. And what he -- Colin
Powell is trying to shepherd the Republican Party and saying, you know, you
can`t dress it up. You can`t put four or five people of color in front of
the camera and call yourself diverse.

Not only does the Republican Party right now have a problem with
diversity, they also have an authenticity problem. That even if they were
to break someone`s Ford right now, people would scratch their head and say,
are you being sincere and that changes? And Colin Powell is trying to
basically lead that way and say, this is -- it hurts but it`s true. And
he`s not the only one within the Republican Party.

Look at Jeb Bush, Jeb Bush is doing the same thing trying to be that -
- with immigration, saying, you need to change. And there`s plenty of
women that are elected to Congress right now that are basically republican
women trying to do the same thing that you have to change and modernize
with the reflection of the American public.

SHARPTON: Richard, I looked all day for a leading moderate republican
to come out and defend General Powell. Why are they so quiet?

WOLFFE: You know, I think there`s a lot of fear in the Republican
Party right now. By the way, Colin Powell didn`t just say that one line.
He said it in the context that you cannot go out and try to suppress the
minority vote. You`ve got to recognize the changing demographics in this
country. And what you hand up with is this people attacking him say, well,
hang on a second.

We`ve nominated Colin Powell in the first place. So, people like
Colin is a race. So we have immunity to this kind of thing. I`m sorry,
there is no immunity just because you have one or two or three or four. It
doesn`t matter how many.


KUMAR: Right. Exactly right, Reverend. Would they be elevated to
their party today?


KUMAR: Condi Rice and Colin Powell. I doubt it. And I don`t think
that Colin Powell and Condi Rice up today, they wouldn`t identify what the
Republican Party.

SHARPTON: Well, let me just also say that I took note that Senator
Marco Rubio defended the party. Let me show you what he said.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I think the bottom line is that the
Republican Party is the party that`s placed two Hispanics in the U.S.
Senate and number of Hispanics around the country. And the African
American senator in the United States Senate and I never once felt that the
Republican Party has been unwelcoming to me because of my heritage or my

I know that that`s become kind of a popular thing to say in terms of
the mass media and their coverage of the Republican Party. But I disagree
with the General Powell`s assessment of the Republican Party today. We
have work to do on a number of issues. But I don`t think that has anything
to do with intolerance per se.


SHARPTON: Maria, give me a quick response.

KUMAR: I think basically what he -- Rubio wants to be president in
2016. So he has to make sure that he`s pacifying the leadership because
otherwise he won`t have a shot at it.

SHARPTON: Richard, does Rubio help themselves doing this? I heard
him say, in terms of bringing in people that need to brought in if he`s got
a shot of any things.

WOLFFE: This is the problem Mitt Romney had. You might get through
the primaries. How are you going to get through a general election? You
know, is this the party that he`s really for immigration reform? He`s
going to find out pretty soon.

SHARPTON: Richard, Maria, I think this is -- I think if anything,
Colin Powell has began a debate and a discussion that`s going to not end
over night or bring us into the midterm elections and I`m glad he did.
Richard, Maria, thank you for your time tonight.

WOLFFE: Thank you.

KUMAR: Thank you.

SHARPTON: And I thank all of you for watching. I`m Al Sharpton.
"HARDBALL" starts right now.


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