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PoliticsNation, Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Read the transcript from the Wednesday show

January 23, 2013

Guests: Ryan Grim; Barbara Boxer, Douglas Brinkley, Jonathan Capehart, Bob Shrum, Maria Teresa Kumar

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

Tonight`s lead, secretary Clinton standing strong. Republicans in
Congress showed their true colors today when the secretary of state
testified about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. She was
serious. She spoke from the heart and stood aground when Republicans tried
to score some cheap political points, like during this heated exchange with
GOP senator Ron Johnson who accused her of not knowing enough about the


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: That was a piece of information that
could have been easily, easily obtained.

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, but, senator, again.
Senator, I, you know, when you`re in these positions, the last thing you
want to do is interfere with any other process going on.

JOHNSON: I realize that. I realize that`s a good excuse --


CLINTON: Well, no, it`s a fact.

JOHNSON: We were misled that there were supposedly protests and
something sprang out of that. And that was easily ascertained that that
was not the fact. And the American people could have known that within
days and they didn`t know that.

CLINTON: And with all due respect, the fact is we had four dead
Americans. Was it because of a protest? Or was it because of guys out for
a walk one night that decided to go kill some Americans? What difference,
at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and
do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, senator.


SHARPTON: Protecting Americans. Stopping another tragedy. That was
secretary Clinton`s focus.


CLINTON: As I have said many times, I take responsibility. And
nobody is more committed to getting this right. I am determined to leave
the state department and our country safer, stronger and more secure.


SHARPTON: Secretary Clinton knows that preventing another terrorist
attack should be our focus, not scoring political points. And she showed
that again and again today. They didn`t lay a glove on her.

Joining me now, senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat from California. She
took part in the hearing today.

Senator, thank you for being here tonight, first of all.


SHARPTON: I want to ask you about that exchange between senator
Clinton and Senator Johnson. After the hearing, Johnson accused senator
Clinton of evading him by getting emotional. What do you make of this kind
of discourse from Republicans?

BOXER: Well, it looked to me like there was a concerted attempt to
attack secretary Clinton who, by the way, has handled this so well. And
let me explain why. That`s not just rhetoric, it`s a fact.

As soon as this happened, she ordered an independent review and said
to those non-partisan leaders who led that review, let the chips fall where
they may. Tell us what happened. Tell us what we did wrong. Tell us how
we can avoid this in the future. And she has put in place policies so that
we have a much better system now already in place to make sure that when we
are asked for more security, there`s a very direct route to that request
and it gets handled.

If the Republicans will allow the state department to transfer some
moneys, not add new moneys right now, just transfer some moneys so they can
beef up security. She handled him. She was actually very rude to her.

And to say that a person is emotional after she lost a really good
friend in the ambassador and she had to, as she explained, meet their
families of the ambassador plus the other three people. I mean, I don`t
know what these Republicans are thinking. But they are hurting themselves
again. They`re making this political and it`s not political.

SHARPTON: Well, let me ask you this, senator.


SHARPTON: Let me ask you this. Because, already, the right wingers
out there in full force saying that she said it doesn`t matter. Now, you
were there. You were at the hearing. From my watching it, she said it
didn`t matter at that point of how they were classifying it. They wanted
to find out what happened. She was not saying it didn`t matter how they
ultimately came out with a conclusion of what happened. Am I -- did I hear
this wrong? Or are they right? Or am I hearing it correctly?

BOXER: No, of course -- the secretary ordered an independent review
and made sure that the vast majority of it is unclassified so that people
can actually see and get a handle on what happened. She`s one of the most
transparent secretaries of state we`ve ever had. Her point is, is it more
important to make sure this never happens again? Or is it more important
to climb into the heads of those killer terrorists and figure out what
their motivation was?


BOXER: We want to catch them. And we want to make sure this never
happens again. She was cleared. But I think what this showed is, you
know, how these Republicans will resort to anything. I want to make a
point here. They went after Susan Rice. Susan Rice, if you look at what
she said, was very clear when she reiterated talking points she was giving
from the administration, including intelligence officials, and she said we
think it may have occurred because of the demonstrations, but we`re not
sure. Compare that to 500 television interviews given by the Bush
administration saying that Saddam Hussein had weapons of war and they
started a war which led to the deaths not of four people, but 4,000 plus
American soldiers.

SHARPTON: We`re not only 500 interviews, the Bush administration went
in front of the U.N. with pictures. And for these guys, now, all of the
sudden, to question intelligence in a 24-48 hour period when this went on
for months and years with their failed intelligence is ludicrous.

But let me go to another attack. Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky.
Listen to his attack.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I think that ultimately, with your
leaving, you accept the culpability for the worst tragedy since 9/11. And
I really mean that. Had I been president at the time and I found that you
did not read the cables from Benghazi, you did not read the cables from
Ambassador Stevens, I would have relieved you of your post. I think it`s


SHARPTON: Aside from it appearing another political cheap shot, why
would he assume that secretary Clinton would have served him as secretary
of state if he were the commander in chief? I think that`s a presumption
he`s making there. But aside from that, how did you read that attack?

BOXER: Well, Reverend, I wanted you to know something. When I heard
him say those words, I walked out of the hearing room and listened to him
from behind the stage because I was so infuriated at what that man said.
To suggest that she is retiring from this post, after traveling a million
miles and being one of the greatest secretaries of state because of
Benghazi is unbelievable. And for him to say that Benghazi, which was a
tragedy, was the worst tragedy since 9/11? Where was he during the Iraq
war, which we went into on false pretense which killed more than 4,000 of
our brave men and women and injured tens of thousands and their lives will
never be the same and they`re committing suicide in record numbers.

This is a shocking lack of information. And to speak to secretary
Clinton that way, it says more about him than it does about her. And I can
only say they have not changed since the election. They`re making --
playing politics with this. When we have a secretary of state who took
full responsibility, who ordered an independent review and will not rest
until we get to the bottom of this. So I think at the end of the day,
secretary Clinton showed just what a strong and courageous leader she is.
She is not going to back down --

SHARPTON: But they`re not playing politics --

BOXER: Yes, they`re playing politics.

SHARPTON: They`re playing politics with not only secretary Clinton,
they`re playing politics with people`s lives. We`re talking 4,000 in Iraq
that he just ignored. That was not a major catastrophe? Four thousand who
died about weapons that weren`t there. I mean, it`s like no limit to what
they will do to score a cheap political point.

BOXER: That`s exactly right. And I have to tell you that the
American people resent this. They resented it in the election when they
tried to turn against our president in ways that were so unfair it would
take us hours and hours to discuss it. People rejected it. And they saw
sitting there a woman who has done an outstanding job who is going to get
to the bottom of this issue because of her desire to make sure that all the
facts come out. She`s trying to implement it. I just want to interrupt
myself to say something here.

You know I know, Reverend, that the Republicans in the house cut
hundreds of millions of dollars from embassy security. And one of my
colleagues, Republicans, had the nerve to say that they were very
disappointed. That the independent review board said we need more

My retort to that is why aren`t you taking resources away from our
security? I don`t see anyone here doing that.


BOXER: But they went ahead and cut those resources and then they turn
on the secretary of state and try to blame her because there wasn`t enough

SHARPTON: After they cut the budget.

But let me ask you this before we run out of time. I must ask you.
You had some kind words even earlier today for secretary Clinton. And you
said, and I want to play them for you quickly, this is you.

BOXER: Sure.


BOXER: I want to thank you because this is maybe the last time you`ve
come before us as secretary here. I want to thank you for your advocacy in
behalf of women around the globe. You will be sorely missed, but I, for
one, hope for not for too long.


SHARPTON: Were you implying that you`d like to see Mrs. Clinton
return maybe as a candidate for president, just between you and I?

BOXER: Just between us? Absolutely. Yes.

SHARPTON: All right. That`s about as straight an answer I can get
and I always get a straight answer from senator Barbara Boxer.

Thank you for your time tonight.

BOXER: Thanks.

SHARPTON: Nice to see you.

BOXER: Same here.

Coming up. Caught on tape, speaker John Boehner says President Obama
wants to annihilate Republican -- the Republican party. Even for Boehner,
that`s a low point.

Plus, the right wing freak out over the president`s inaugural address.
America`s changed. Republicans haven`t.

Also, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and what everybody is saying about
them in 2016. It`s a big show tonight. So stay with us.


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

Believe it or not, everyone was speculating about 2016 today. Will it
be Hillary Clinton against Joe Biden?

Phil says it would be interesting to see who Obama endorsed?

It sure would.

Inetta says Biden already has my vote. He love the people and the
country like our president.

Casey says it`s time for a woman to run the show. Sorry, Joe, I`m for

We`ve got more on the possible sweet 16 match-upcoming up later in the
show. But, first, we want to hear your opinion. Please head over to
facebook and search Politics Nation and like us to join the conversation
that keeps going long after the show ends.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we have to be prepared to go so far as to
shut the government down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Save your powder for the debt ceiling fight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think there`s going to be a whole new field of
battle when the debt ceiling rolls around.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our opportunity here is on the debt ceiling. This
is where we have leverage.


SHARPTON: Remember that, the GOP vowing to hold the country hostage
for cuts? They had the leverage, getting ready to fight. Speaker Boehner
even tried his hand at extortion saying, quote "there`s a price for
everything." But, now, here comes the cave.

Today, Republicans in the house voted to suspend the debt ceiling.
What about the hostage-taking? Not this time. And remember all the usual
bluster in those press conferences of theirs?

Today, the GOP leaders ducked the press. Only a few print reporters,
Boehner`s camera man and a lone FOX News camera were there to capture their
comments in their entirety. So, why the sudden change?


credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip. We are
not a deadbeat nation.

They will not collect our ransom in exchange for not crashing the
American economy. What I will not do is to have that negotiation with the
American people. We`re not going do that.


SHARPTON: They`re not going to do that. Their once united front on
immigration and gun control buckling. Opposition health care?
Disintegrating. Maybe some of the president`s wisdom is finally sinking


OBAMA: We cannot mistake absolutism for principle or substitute
spectacle for politics or treat name calling as reasoned debate.


OBAMA: We must act. We must act knowing that our work will be


SHARPTON: This might not be the end of the GOP`s spectacle. But,
hey, at least we see some action.

Joining me now is Joy Reid, managing editor of the and an
MSNBC contributor. And Ryan Grim, Washington Bureau chief for the
"Huffington Post."

Thank you both for being on the show tonight.


SHARPTON: Joy, let me start with you. The GOP finally blinked.

REID: Look, they were going to raise the debt ceiling.

SHARPTON: Take us hostage?

REID: No, you know what, they were always going to raise the debt
ceiling. They knew it. Everyone knew it. The president wasn`t even
taking their calls on this issue. He was like you can call me if you want
to talk, but not about the debt ceiling. They understood they couldn`t

And at the end of the day, the only reason the Republicans held the
nation hostage over the debt ceiling the first time around was because it
was a part of their one-thing strategy. The one thing. The one thing they
cared about since 2009, January, was making sure Barack Obama was a one-
term president. That`s it. That`s the only reason they were able to
gamble with the full faith and credit of the United States in the first

Now that they`ve failed in their prime directive, that`s making sure
Barack Obama didn`t get reelected, there is really no reason to do that
brinksmanship again and writ the credit rating of the country because the
credit downgrade was suppose to take Obama down. It didn`t.

SHARPTON: Clearly, they don`t have the same motive.

REID: Right.

SHARPTON: Ryan, speaker Boehner yesterday said that the president is
trying to destroy the GOP. Listen.


the next 22 months, to be the focus of this administration. As they
attempt to annihilate the Republican party. And let me just tell you, I do
believe that is in his circle, to shove us into the dust bin of history.


SHARPTON: That`s pretty strong words, particularly since some believe
they`re doing a pretty good job of annihilating themselves, Ryan.

what John Boehner is doing there is he`s trying to talk his more extreme
elements into relaxing for the next couple years and not making too much of
a spectacle of themselves. You know, he wants to put the fear of
annihilation in them.

And this two years is different from the last four in two really
critical ways. Leading up to 2010, Republicans wanted to take over the
house and take over the Senate. Leading into 2012, they wanted to take
over the White House, take over the Senate and keep the house. And so they
had to be extra aggressive to try to get themselves out there. You know,
that famous quote of McConnell saying we`re going to make him a one-term

But their goal in 2014 is not to take the house because they already
have the house. There`s no presidential election. So what they want to do
is preserve the status quo of maintaining the House of Representatives.
And then, if they can pick off some Democrats in red states and inch closer
to controlling the Senate or taking over the senate, than they want to do
that. But they can do that by being a lot more moderate.

Extremis extremism, right now, is not politically beneficial for them.
Maybe leading into 2016, the calculus will change for them. But over the
next two years, I think you`re going to see a lot more accommodation.

SHARPTON: So Ryan is saying they want to maintain the status quo,
Joy. And I think it`s an interesting point because they seem like they`re
in disarray on very critical issues.

For example, on guns. They seem like they`re in disarray. It`s
almost laughable, the answers they`ve given when they were questioned about
universal background.

Give you examples, Republican senator James Inhofe says I don`t know
what you mean.

Senator Bob Corker responded and says, I hate to respond just in the
hallway, so I won`t.

Really? And by all means, Senator John Barrasso even says I`ve got my
wife here. I`m sorry, I`ve got -- thanks.

I mean, what happened to these advocates for the second amendment, a
distorted interpretation of it, but what happened to this is like they`re
all over the place and no place trying to just keep things as they are?

REID: Right. I mean, why would you want to talk about gun control in
the hallway? That`s not the right place to do that when your wife is on
the phone.

I mean, it is sad because, look. There`s that saying, nature hordes a
vacuum. And I think what we are seeing in the Republican party is there`s
an absolute vacuum of leadership where they really aren`t sure what to
stand for. The tea party ideology which they try to rally around because
of what anti-Obama is now is unpopular. The tea party is extremely
unpopular. That extremist brand is unpopular.

People don`t like them. And they`re understanding for the first time
now that the glass has been broken on the terrain they were living in for
the last eight, you know, four years, you know what, their ideas are not
that popular. And because there`s no real leader, there is no real
leadership The intellectual leadership is gone. "The National Review" and
the "Weekly Standards", those papers are -- outlets are now

No one really wants war. So that`s not popular. They`ve got these
talk radio and web site extremists. They`re not popular. There`s no
coherent philosophy anymore. They are waiting for someone to tell them --

SHARPTON: No, there`s no leadership, there`s no coherent philosophy.

And, Ryan, we`re also seeing even the opposition to health care lose
its theme among Republicans.

Michelle Bachmann`s repeal bill on healthcare initially couldn`t even
find sponsors.

Governor Jan Brewer, the latest cave on Medicare expansion in Arizona.

And speaker Boehner even calls it the law of the land.

I mean, these are the people whose main goal in unseating President
Obama was to go after the health care act. Now, they`ve even weakened on

GRIM: Right. And one of the key divisions within the Republican
party is, on the one side, you have people who recognize that the 2010 kind
of tea party uprising was a momentary phenomenon. The backlash against it
has effectively wiped it out. It will be around because it can be self
sustaining because there`s enough Republican districts that you can have
several dozen of these members in the house for the foreseeable future.

And the other camp you have the party that looked at the 2012 election
and said, you know, we`re on the wrong side of the demographic and
political shifts that are happening here. What can we do to change the
course of this.

But the problem is that there are a ton of Republicans who are just
fine with controlling the house, controlling a lot of governor`s mansions,
controlling the kind of consultancy corporations that makes so much money
off a politics in Washington and across the countries. You know, there are
a lot of people are doing very well by this status quo.

SHARPTON: Especially when the extremists have become unpopular. You
know, in my rigid diet, I drink only tea now. One thing I can tell you
about tea, it is delicious. But when the bag breaks, it`s very, very

Joy Reid and Ryan Grim, thanks for your time this evening.

REID: Thank you.

GRIM: My pleasure.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, Republicans invoking Dr. King to defend their
politics. It`s awful. And it`s happening now.

And right wingers have a new effort to take Hillary down. It`s called
the crying game.

Stay with us.


SHARPTON: Secretary Clinton`s testimony today was one of the last
glimpses we`ll see of her as secretary of state. But, will she return to
Washington in a new role?

Today, Democrats just couldn`t help themselves.


REP. TED DEUTCH (D), FLORIDA: You have represented the interests of
this nation magnificently. And I, for one, hope after a bit of rest, you
will consider a return to public service. And should that return bring you
to Florida, I will welcome you there.

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: I want to thank you for your
advocacy on behalf of women around the globe. You will be sorely missed.
But I, for one, hope not for too long.

REP. AMI BERA (D), CALIFORNIA: I think I speak for all of the
freshmen that we`re not going to get much time to serve with you, but we
hope in a few years, we`ll get that chance to serve again.

ahead to 2016, wishing you much success in extending to you my highest


SHARPTON: Hillary had a big laugh today and everybody`s talking.
Hillary, Joe Biden in 2016. That`s coming up.


SHARPTON: On Monday, the nation celebrated President Obama`s second
inauguration. Here`s what a lot of us saw on television.

But certain folks on the far right saw something very different.
Thanks to the wonders of republic vision we`re able to show you their
version of the inauguration.

I`m not making this up. That`s what conservatives believe.
Republican Congressman Paul Brown says, quote, "I think the only
constitution that Barack Obama upholds is the soviet constitution."

Wow. The right wingers really do believe that the President has
finally revealed himself to be the communist, Marxist, socialist,
Manchurian candidate, community organizers they always knew he really was.


PETER JOHNSON, JR., FOX NEWS LEGAL ANALYST: What we heard was a hard
left manifesto from the President of the United States yesterday at the

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: One thing was pretty clear from the President`s
speech yesterday. The era of liberalism is back.

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: No longer does the President seek to
portray himself as a moderate. He is an out-the-closet liberal.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: This speech today was an oath to the government.
This was really Obama unbound.


SHARPTON: Hard left. Obama unbound. Were we watching the same
speech? The policies that the president talked about, gay marriage,
immigration, climate change, gun safety, the President`s positions on all
of these are backed by the majority of Americans, these are mainstream
views in the year 2013. America has changed. Republicans haven`t.

The president wasn`t calling for a progressive shift in American
politics. He was just confirming what`s already happening.

Joining me now is Douglas Brinkley, presidential historian and a
professor at Rice University. And Jonathan Capehart, opinion writer for
the "Washington Post" and an MSNBC contributor.

First, thank both of you for joining me tonight.



SHARPTON: President Obama is way more in the mainstream than
opponents try to paint him, don`t you think?

BRINKLEY: Oh, without a question. I find him to be a very centrist
president in many ways. And, look, that inauguration, second inauguration.
I thought, it was just an incredible speech. I mean, no, it was not, you
know, FDR in the middle of the depression with nothing to fear but fear
itself for Lincoln`s second inaugural in the civil war. But it`s one of
the three, four, five, top second inaugurals in U.S. history.

Because it was Martin Luther King Day. He focused on social justice.
Seneca Falls isn`t left wing or radical. It`s the women`s demanding the
right to vote. That`s the majority of Americans. It`s a way to pay homage
to Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott. And the same with -- Selma
and same with Stonewall. So I thought it was just an empowering speech and
a very inclusive.

SHARPTON: And, as I sat there, Doug, listening to him, and then I
heard some of the analysis later -- maybe I`m wrong, but I wanted your
opinion as a historian before I go to Jonathan. I thought he was talking
more about a vision for the country going forward this century about where
he sought the times, where the country needs to go in terms of the times
that we live, more than he was even given an agenda for his second
administration. I think he was dealing more from a transformational
presidency than he was saying here`s a list of what I want to do in the
next four years. Was I over-playing the President`s words?

BRINKLEY: Well, not at all. I mean, we anticipate -- he had almost a
paragraph about climate change. Nobody knows exactly what to do about it.
But he wanted to address that problem. And about 30, 40 years from now,
when the climate change issues, really hunting our planet, people will go
back in this inaugural and say the president had the courage to put it in

Because he has to start being an educator about climate. We have to
have the conversation. And that`s just one of a number of things he did
very well in that speech.

SHARPTON: Now Jonathan, Bill O`reilly, last night, said something
that was different. Let me play it.


O`REILLY: Why are so many Americans accepting President Obama`s
vision when less than 30 years ago, President Reagan was the political
icon? The struggle in America right now is not between Republicans and
Democrats, it`s between us, we the people. You either want freedom or you


SHARPTON: Us. We the people. Want freedom or we don`t. How is what
President Obama`s talking about, social justice and equal pay for women and
rights for gays and lesbians? How is this not wanting freedom? I don`t
understand. That`s why I called it different.

And the fact that 30 years ago, we saw Reagan as an icon means 30
years later that we can`t say that we think what the president is saying
today is just as important as what people felt about Ronald Reagan 30 years
ago? Help me with this, Jonathan?

CAPEHART: Well, I wish I could get into the mind of Bill O`reilly and
I wish I could maybe figure out which people is he talking about when he
says we the people. Look, yes, Ronald Reagan was an icon 30 years ago.
But that was 30 years ago. Icons change. Times change. The country has
changed. And is continuing to change.

And so for anyone to take exception with what the President said is in
willful denial of what is happening in this country. Willful denial of
what happened on an election day last year. You know, the president ran --
he was pretty clear on how he wanted to govern if he was given another four


CAPEHART: The Republicans were as clear as they could be with the
nominee they had with where they wanted to go, which was in completely the
opposite direction while also denigrating 47 percent of the country. The
country made a choice. They chose decisively in re-electing President
Obama. In that inaugural speech, he, you know, gave a vision of where he
wants the country to go.

I think Douglas described it beautifully. What the President was
trying to -- what the President was trying to do. The Republican Party has
a really big problem. It`s not just a message problem. They have a
demographic problem.


CAPEHART: They are going to continue to be, and I keep saying this
over and over again, a regional, reactionary party until it figures out how
it`s going to deal with the demographic changes in this country. Not just
the Latinos, but with women, African-Americans, gays and lesbians.

SHARPTON: Well, we is a little too narrow when they say we.

CAPEHART: Doug, "The New York Times" has said for second term
president, the first year crucial for his agenda. The quote from "The
Times" is, "He has, perhaps, as little as a year to accomplish his big-
ticket goals for second term. Their window of opportunity narrows with
each passing month." Is that true from your assessment as a historian?
And if so, how does he deal with the majority in the House still being
republican and being in some ways captors of a small minority of extremists
in the republican caucus?

BRINKLEY: I think he`s got to focus on a Congressional agenda just
these next sixth months. I think by the time the summer kicks in, his
ability to work with Congress is going to be almost impossible. He`s got
to push through gun control reform right now. He`s going to have to deal
with, obviously, the debt. That`s going to keep coming up. And you might
be able to take on immigration. And I think that`s the big hope.

But, after that, things get so speeded up right now with these
election cycles, we`ll be already running the midterm elections. But that
does not mean Barack Obama is going to be a lame duck. He`s going to be
using executive power, going around the world, going to China, Europe and
being a global leader as well as an American leader.

SHARPTON: I`ve got to go. But Jonathan, did we see a tougher
President Obama in his second inaugural address?

CAPEHART: Oh, absolutely. We saw a tougher President Obama in the
inaugural which makes me look forward to the State of the Union Address to
see if that toughness is actually even tougher.

SHARPTON: Douglas Brinkley, Jonathan Capehart, thank you both for
your time.

CAPEHART: Thank you.

BRINKLEY: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Ahead, Biden might want to and Hillary might, too. The
2016 heavyweights. That`s next. Stay with us.


SHARPTON: Remember when the right wing talkers mocked Hillary`s
concussion? Now, they`re making her tears. It`s ugly and it`s next.



HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The fact is, we had four
dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out
for a walk one night decided to go kill some Americans? What difference at
this point, does it make? We`ve got to get our act together between the
administration and the Congress. The reason I said make it open. Tell the
world is because I believe in transparency, I believe in taking
responsibility and I have done so.


SHARPTON: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton battling the GOP on The
Hill today. In this video, her testimony today is one of the last you`ll
see of Clinton as Secretary of State. One of our last public appearances
in the job. But the dramatic sub text today is her political future. And
it has a lot of people talking. Will we see Hillary run in 2016? And will
it be a showdown with Vice President Biden on who could take over the Oval

Joining me now is Bob Shrum, senior advisor to John Kerry`s
presidential campaign and now a professor at NYU. And Maria Teresa Kumar,
president and CEO of Voto Latino and an MSNBC contributor.

I want to hear from both of you on this question. Bob, let`s get
right to it. Will Hillary run?

BOB SHRUM, NYU PROFESSOR: I don`t think we know yet. I don`t think
she may know yet. A lot of people -- I actually don`t believe Reverend
that she has made this decision. She has traveled over a million miles.
She`s been to 110 countries. She`s done an unbelievably good job as
secretary of state. And I think she`s going to take a few months off.

Now, do I think it`s likely that she runs? Yes, I think it`s likely
in the end but it wouldn`t stun me if she decided not to. And look, the
person you saw today, in that clip you just saw.


SHRUM: I think those Republicans must be saying to themselves, gee,
we kind of wish we hadn`t held this hearing. I mean, when you look at the
way she handled someone like Ron Paul.

SHARPTON: Oh, yes.

SHRUM: He says, if I were president, I would fire you as secretary of
state. That`s the closest tease ever going to get being president. She
was the one in that room who could very well become president. She`s
incredibly popular.

SHARPTON: You almost -- because of her travels all over the world,
you almost forgot how good she was until today.


SHARPTON: Maria, does she run?

that clip that you showed demonstrated had to either serve as Secretary of
State has actually made her more accessible to the American public and much
more human. I think if you recall on 2008, that was one of the problems
that she had that she couldn`t connect. People connect with her. She was
tough and she was sincere.

And I think Bob is absolutely right, I think a lot of Republicans were
-- and pretended that she -- that they hadn`t attacked her so much when she
was actually ill. I do think that she has the presidency on her mind. But
whether or not she`s going to announce? I`m not sure. But I think that is
something that she has high name recognition. She`s a huge fan not only
Latinos but African-Americans and women and young people and she has
incredible base, but I think that her future is definitely for her to
write. But again, she`s tough and she`s growing in her role as secretary
of state. And seems very presidential.

SHARPTON: Now, Bob, looking at the post, ABC News poll has 67 percent
favorable rating for Hillary Clinton. Forty eight percent favorable rating
for Vice President Biden. Nineteen point spread, what do you make of this
as a political strategist?

SHRUM: Well, first I have to say, doesn`t that tell you how bright
those Republicans were today to attacked the most popular public figure in
the country?


SHRUM: Secondly, I think you have to understand she`s been in a
largely nonpolitical role. And Vice President Biden has been the point of
the lands for the president on a whole set of things. He`s had a very good
several months. The vice presidential debate, the campaign, the fiscal
cliff deal, the way he`s conducted himself during these inaugural


SHRUM: His capacity to connect with people. Now, the one thing I`m
pretty certain off is I would bet that they both won`t run. One of them is
going to run, I don`t think both of them will.

SHARPTON: So, do you think that they would not run against each
other? They get in a room and work it out.

SHRUM: I don`t know. I think it will be more natural and organic
than that. I think first of all, Hillary Clinton is going to make her
decision. I think Vice President Biden is clearly interested in running.
I think they are the top tier. One of them is very likely to be the
democratic nominee. And, by the way, you know, you look at Hillary
Clinton, she`d be very formidable in a primary. I think she`s be almost
unbeatable in a general election. Maybe that`s what was driving the
Republicans crazy today.

SHARPTON: Yes, that`s what I want to ask you, Maria. Because as I
watched as much as I could at the hearing during my radio show, she was
very impressive connecting. And they kept coming after her and then we
hear all of these attacks from the right wing. Let me give you an example.



RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I`ve never seen groveling, uh-
butt kissing, sucking up, I`ve never seen anything like Hillary Clinton`s
appearance before a joint Congressional committee on that Benghazi guy that
went nuts over there in Libya. She opened up crying which is part of the

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: She did what all Clintons do when
they`re guilty and when they`re cornered, she attacked, this anger, this
outrage, I can tell you was not spontaneous. I`m telling you it was
staged. Probably in the direction of the Ragin Cajun James Carville
himself or somebody else. This was all pre-planned, they`ve had four
months, they knew this was coming, and this was their strategy.


SHARPTON: Now, talking about all pre-planned, is this a strategy to
start going after Hillary Clinton now because they fear she may be what
they face in 2016, Maria?

KUMAR: Well, it`s a strategy definitely not to rally their base, but
to expand it. And any woman listening to that right now is going to say,
you`re basically up to the same old shenanigans. And why am I going to
vote for you when you`re attacking a woman that`s demonstrated in complete,
I mean, one job after the other, that not only does she excel, but she
actually increases the bar for everyone to achieve that one, as well. So,
I don`t know, they`re definitely not extending their base going after her
with that language.

SHARPTON: Well, and Bob, the American people, isn`t this, at the end
of the day, about four Americans that were killed and how we protect other
Americans and just jump over the bodies of these four Americans and start
engaging in politics and posturing and cheap shots seems almost insulting
to the American people and the memory of those that we lost.

SHRUM: And I think it`s transparent to the American people. I mean,
those guys were just head on where a kind of -- murderers row of creeps.
They`re saying the same kind of stuff about her, they said about the
President for the last four years. It didn`t go anywhere. Maria-Teresa is
absolutely right. I don`t think they`re expanding their base, she`s right.
I think they`re shrinking their base.

I think the more and more people hear this, the more and more they say
the Republican Party is out of control and out of touch. You know, you
look at someone like Chris Christie, he would actually be a formidable
republican candidate. He can`t be nominated I don`t think because he won`t
tow the party line on everything. So, you have a Republican Party that`s
extreme, you have a secretary of state and a potential presidential
candidate who is clearly mainstream and a vice president who is in the same

SHARPTON: Bob Shrum and Maria-Teresa Kumar. We`ll be watching this.
Thanks. We`ll be right back.

KUMAR: Thank you, Reverend.

SHRUM: Thank you.


SHARPTON: Forty nine years ago today, the 24th amendment was
ratified. It eliminated the poll taxes in federal elections. That was a
key victory for civil rights. Poll taxes were an essential part of
southern state`s strategy to block voting. During the Jim Crow era, there
were also literacy tests with impossible questions that they would ask
people to answer.

Such as how many bubbles on a bar of soap? How many jelly beans in a
jar? But amazingly, today, some conservatives are even trying to co-opt
the civil rights movement itself. To advance their right wing agenda on
everything from guns to women`s health.


LIMBAUGH: The modern equivalence of the civil rights act is that you
people defending and loyal to the second amendment are not the Bull
Connors, you`re the Martin Luther Kings. You`re the people matching at
Selma. You`re having your civil rights denied.

have a role in contraception. Government does have a role in protecting
your civil rights. Especially today, on Martin Luther King Day.

King would agree with me if he were alive 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


SHARPTON: Two misquote leaders and figures that fought for freedom
and inequality is dishonest. To misuse them is disgraceful.

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


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