February 7, 2013
Guests: Jan Schakowsky; Eric Schneiderman, Barney Frank, Dana Milbank, Joe Madison
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Thanks, Michael. And thanks to
you for tuning in.
Tonight`s lead, the president confronting Republicans. An energized
President Obama rallied house Democrats for his second term agenda today
making clear he`s pushing hard for big changes on immigrations and guns.
And he said he wants a big deal on the budget.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am prepared, eager
and anxious to do a big deal, a big package that ends this go governance by
crisis where every two weeks or every two months or every six months we are
threatening this one hard recovery --.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: But the president also he wants to avoid devastating,
automatic budget cuts saying Republicans must accept his demand for a
balanced solutions with the rich paying their fair share.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: They recognize that the sequester is a bad idea. But what
they`ve suggested is that the only way to replace it right now is for us to
cut Social Security, cut Medicare, and not close a single loophole. And I
have to tell you, if that`s an argument that they want to have before the
court of public opinion, that is an argument I`m more than willing to
engage in because I believe the American people understand --
OBAMA: I believe the American people understand that yes, we need to
reduce the deficit, but it shouldn`t just be on the backs of seniors. It
shouldn`t just be on the backs of young people or trying to get a college
education. It should not just be on the backs of parents who are trying to
give their kids a better start in life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The president won the fairness debate in the fall. That`s
what the election was all about. Today, the president said that argument
will define the fight ahead on guns, immigration, women`s rights, gay
rights, the whole agenda.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The question I will ask myself on every item, every issue is,
is this helping to make sure that everybody has got a fair shot and
everybody is doing their fair share and everybody is playing by the same
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: This president is gearing up to push for real change. And
he`s prepared to confront the GOP if they don`t want to compromise.
Joining me now is congresswoman Jan Schakowsky who was at the
Democratic retreat with the president. She`s part of the progressive
caucus which produced his own plan this week to trim the deficit without
cuts to our safety net. And also with me is Joan Walsh from salon.com.
Congresswoman, let me go to you first. The president made it clear
he`ll fight for what he believes is right. So, will Republicans fold yet
REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D), ILLINOIS: Well, I certainly hope they will.
Apparently, John Boehner said we`re done with taxes. The president was
very clear that when meeting the economic and fiscal challenges ahead; that
he wants to keep in perspective whether the cop or the receptionist is
going to be able to make it. And he did contrast it with what the
Republicans want. And they want to cut Medicare and Social Security.
And so, he said fine, let`s argue this out in the public. And he felt
clearly felt confident that he and we would win if that will takes place.
SHARPTON: Now, the reason I`m asking, congresswoman, is "Politico" is
reporting that the economy is crumbling. Let me quote.
"They say top House Republican aides privately concede that the
politics of allowing the cuts to hit - layoffs, furloughs, and a stalled
economic recovery, are tough to stomach and they would prefer to make a
If that is true and the democratic caucus stands together and the
president stands firm, they will have backed down yet again.
SCHAKOWSKY: Exactly. This is so politically untenable to make the
kinds of cuts. And you know, Reverend Al, that this sequester was never
intended to go into effect because the cuts were so devastating. And so
this, again, would be a capitulation to the Democrats.
SHARPTON: And I think that`s the real point, Joan. It was put out,
the sequester, was put out with such unreasonable cuts, it was to make sure
that we never got there. And to act as though now we may have gone there
is absolutely unthinkable when it was created in the first place to never
have to get into such a drastic place.
JOAN WALSH, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, SALON.COM: Right, it was created to
scare both sides, actually. And to averting the sequester and it didn`t
necessarily worked that way. And the president, at least until the end of
the year didn`t have any partners on the other side with whom he could cut
But, I think we have seen the climate change quite a lot, Reverend Al,
as we talked about before. Not only the election, that was a big win for
the president, but he really won on the fiscal-cliff deal. He got big tax
rate hikes on the very wealthy. Not everything he wanted, but quite a lot.
He won on the debt ceiling question. They did lift it. And I don`t think
they`ll ever do that again unless they completely lose their minds. They
know that that is not - that is no longer a hostage worth taking r
ransoming as Mitch McConnell once said.
And now we`ll see what they do on the sequester. I mean, you know, I
look with faith to the house progressive caucus that any deal that is
reached does not include bad cuts. And I think there`s still a little
danger ahead. But the president has a much stronger hand than he`s had
since the beginning of his first term, really.
SHARPTON: Well, congresswoman, can he use that stronger hand to push
forward his agenda? Americans came out all over this country. Many stood
in line for hours to see the country move forward on that agenda. At the
end of the day, will we see the agenda and the fairness and the progress
that people voted for coming to be?
SCHAKOWSKY: We are seeing that the issue of immigration, we`re
already seeing some bipartisan supports, the issue of gun violence
prevention, we are seeing that even gun owners and NRA members are with us.
But, I think, what we see now is an embolden president as he should since
he won the elections and a caucus that`s ready to roll up his sleeves and
support his agenda.
SHARPTON: Now, Joan, at a prayer breakfast today, the president
talked about faith and finding common ground. But he says it needs to be
something we think about every day. Let me play you a part of what he
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I do worry sometimes that as soon as we leave the prayer
breakfast, everything we`ve been talking about, the whole time of the
prayer breakfast, seems to be forgotten on the same day of the prayer
breakfast. I mean, you`d like to think that the shelf life wouldn`t be so
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: I mean, Joan, isn`t that important? We hear all of these
nice, noble things at prayer gatherings and all of this about, you know,
goodwill to men and women. And then, before the afternoon is over, we see
the gridlock, the bickering, the pettiness. Again, can we hope that some
level when we`re seeing now the divisions in the Republican Party and
people on the right saying we`ve got to get rid of extremists. Can we see
some level of compromise and suability come to these proceedings when we
are dealing with such important things that made the cut if the sequester
came into effect?
WALSH: I`m cautiously optimistic, Reverend Al. I mean, I think the
senator just sessions at the prayer breakfast referred to the president as
our president. And I hope that gets a lot of currency on the right wing
blogs. And I hope FOX News plays that clip a lot.
And I think that one thing that the president has done, he`s willing
to compromise. He is always been willing to compromise, but he is taking
out exactly what he wants and then we move in from there. So we may get
compromise on the dream act or we may get compromise on gun control that
doesn`t contain everything that you and I want, but it gets us part of the
way there so we can fight again.
SHARPTON: Now, congresswoman, at the same time after the prayer
breakfast, he says he`s going to campaign for members of his party. He is
going out in the road, do fundraises for the Democrats. He even talked
about Democrats taking back the house in the mid-term elections 2014
election. Let me show him discussing that and tell me, give me a sense
after watching the energy in the room and the reaction in the room at the
retreat. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I have no doubt that we will continue the extraordinary
service that we`ve done already. And as a bi-product of that good work and
keeping that focused, I would expect that Nancy Pelosi is going to be
speaker again pretty soon. All right? So, thank you very much everybody.
God bless you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Sounded like a raucous reaction. What was the energy like
in the room? And what does it mean for the president to say he`s going out
there and do several fundraisers for Democrat this year.
SCHAKOWSKY: Well, we were very excited to hear that the president is
going to be with us as we head toward the 2014 elections. But we were just
depending on the energy in the room. We also have a plan that was very
detailed and presented to us on how we`re going to get from here to there.
To put the gavel in Nancy Pelosi`s hand, clearly the president will have a
major role and we are excited that is going to have our back and be out
there on the campaign trail.
SHARPTON: Congresswoman Schakowsky and Joan Walsh, thank you both for
your time tonight.
WALSH: Thanks, Rev.
SCHAKOWSKY: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Coming up, the question everyone is talking about. It`s
tough, it`s rude, but it`s real. Is Chris Christie too overweight to be
And is that the sound of a knockout punch? Karl Rove is down and out.
The tea party monster can`t be controlled.
Plus, to kill or not to kill. The hot debate over drones and
presidential power is a tough one. My commentary ahead.
Big show tonight. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: Have you joined the "Politics Nation" conversation on
facebook yet? We hope you will. Today, everyone is talking about the
Chris Christie controversy after he told the doctor to shut up about his
Mark says his policies and politics are fair game. His weight and
family should be off limits.
Jan agrees. Quote "I don`t like him, but enough is enough on his
But Earnest says his weight is an issue whether he wants to admit it
or not, he needs to get tougher skin.
And Barbara says, he needs to let some things slide if he wants to
become president. Tone is very important.
We will have more of this controversy later in the show. But first,
we want to know what you think. Please head over to facebook and search
"Politics Nation" and like us to join the conversation that keeps going
long after the show ends.
SHARPTON: One correction to make today. I told you that 91 percent
of Americans support universal background checks for all gun violence, but
that`s no longer true. A new poll out today shows that, in fact, 92
percent support background checks, 92 percent of Americans agree, 92
percent of Americans can`t agree on anything. They can`t agree on the best
sports team or their favorite French fries. They can`t agree whether the
toilet seat should be up or down. But, they agree on this one very
important thing. Ninety two percent of Americans want to make the country
safer with background checks.
And they have the full support of the president. He made a personal
commitment to that and to gun safety. And, today, we learned the first
lady will be attending the funeral of Hadiya Pendleton on Saturday. Hadiya
was shot and killed in Chicago just a week after participating with her
band mates in the festivities at President Obama`s inauguration. This
fight is for her. And for all the innocent victims of gun violence. And
it is a real movement in Washington.
Today, house Democrats unveiled their proposal for real gun control.
And last night, vice president Joe Biden talked about the need to act now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can`t imagine how
we will be judged as an individual, judged as a congress, judged as a
nation if we do nothing. That I can`t imagine. It`s simply unacceptable.
It is simply unacceptable.
BIDEN: Enough is enough is enough. We have to stand up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Enough is enough. There is momentum behind the movement.
Ninety two percent of Americans want to see real change. And that change
is going to come.
Joining me now is Eric Schneiderman, the attorney general of the state
of New York.
Attorney general, welcome. And let me ask this. You`re at the top of
law enforcement in the state of New York and one of the biggest states in
the country. Is there real momentum now to fix these gun laws nationwide?
ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: Absolutely. I think
that my own experience, traveling around the state talking to people,
confirms the 92 percent number. And I would add, 92 percent of Americans;
that includes a lot of gun owners. That includes NRA members. I`m telling
you that as I talk to responsible sports men and women around the state,
including people who are involve in selling guns, they all are supportive
of background check. So, we have made real progress here in New York. And
I think they can make progress here in Washington.
SHARPTON: A lot of people around the country think of people just as
New York city. But you`re the top law enforcement person in the state that
has rural as well as urban that has gun shows. So, this is not an easy
lift, yet you`ve become one of the champions of this. Tell us how you deal
with the gun show and politics around this.
SCHNEIDERMAN: Well, in New York, we just passed a ground-breaking
piece of legislation, the governor and the legislature --
SHARPTON: One of the toughest in the country.
SCHNEIDERMAN: One of the toughest in the country, good example. The
problem is, most of the guns used in New York city for crimes come from
other states. We`ve got to get action, also, at the federal level.
One of the things I`ve done is we did an undercover sting on gun
shows. Found that they were not doing the background checks and New York
will require them to do and confronted the gun show operators who are all
active sports men and NRA members has strong second amendment advocates.
And not only did they voluntarily come - work with us to develop model
procedure so that we are ensuring 100 percent background checks in New York
gun shows. People we had not even busted have come forward voluntarily to
say I want to do that at my gun shows too.
So the people of good conscience who are sports men and women who are
gun owners, they understand this. They know background checks keep guns
away from criminals and people with mental health problems. That what
happened in Newtown has galvanized them, as well. And I think a lot of the
people out there are responsible gun owners that do not feel barely
represented protected by the leadership of the NRA in Washington.
SHARPTON: Isn`t the problem, though, attorney general Schneiderman
about enforcement? There are some laws that are on the books that have not
been in force. Now, toughest in the country right now, New York state.
But it doesn`t matter if its people like you, and you`re the tough guy in
this area, enforce the laws.
SCHNEIDERMAN: It is got to be enforceable and that is the challenge
with universal background checks. At least we developed a way to ensure
that in gun shows and auctions, which is the major source of guns. We`ve
found a way that we can replicate nationally ensuring background checks.
And if the gun show operators like it, they cooperate with it, they feel
that they`re doing their part, we can do that. But we have to get the
federal laws fixed.
For those of us in law enforcement, you know, we`re not even allowed
to get information from the bureau of alcohol, tobacco, firearms and
explosives on gun trace status so we can track down gun traffickers. The
laws in Washington actually put handcuffs on law enforcement all over
America in our efforts to crack down on illegal guns. The time for change
is coming even to Washington. And you see the president, you see the
commitment there, I think they are going to get something done.
SHARPTON: You see the acts state with gun control. Eleven states are
considering gun restrictions, but six are introducing legislation that
would loosen gun laws everything from putting more guns in school to
prohibiting federal laws for being enforced. You`re going to Washington
soon. What`s your message going to be to the nation? You`re a national
figure in this area.
SCHNEIDERMAN: Well, I`m working with our federal counter parts. I`m
taking the information on what we`ve been able to do about gun shows. And
you know, we have some other ideas that we think, can help the national
campaign. But the key to this, is that it is got to be a campaign. And we
know the president is one of the greatest campaigners that has been around
for a long time from his re-election campaign. What is great is to see, in
this term, he is continuing to be a campaigner. He`s going out, he`s
advocating, he`s using his voice organizing people. If the people are
fairly represented, we are going to get change in Washington. So, I`m
going down there to talk to my federal colleagues, help them do whatever we
can do to rally support.
SHARPTON: Since Newtown, attorney general Schneiderman, 1612 people
have been shot and killed in the 55 days since the Newtown tragedy, 26 of
those day were children under the age of 12. They`re not making headlines
the same way the Newtown did, but that`s 29 people a day. After Newtown,
we`re still in the middle of a real crisis here.
SCHNEIDERMAN: And the point you make is very important. Newtown has
galvanized a lot of people in the country. But 29 people a day, every day,
like the little girl in Chicago, you see this, and disproportionately in
poorer communities, this is an epidemic. This is an epidemic and if there
was any other type of instrument, if this were automobiles, we would do
what we did with cars which is treated as a public health issue. But
because of the opposition of some really - some militants who have been
really shortsighted and they`re losing support, I`m telling you, Rev., of
gun owners across America as well as others, they have limited the federal
government`s ability to act. We are going to overcome that in the months
ahead. I`m confident that we can do it.
SHARPTON: Well, we`re making progress. I want you are one of the
champions of that.
New York state attorney general Eric Schneiderman, you are two-time
champion because you are championing voting rights too and I want you to
come back and talk about that.
SCHNEIDERMAN: Love to do it.
SHARPTON: All right. Thank you and thank you for your time tonight.
SCHNEIDERMAN: Thank you.
SHARPTON: The monster they created won`t go away. The tea party is
revolting against Karl Rove. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
And Chris Christie tells a doctor to shut up about his weight. I have
something to say about this and it may surprise you.
SHARPTON: A former White House doctor tells Chris Christie he`s too
fat and that he might quote "die in office." How did the mild-mannered
governor take it? See for yourself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I find it fascinating that a
doctor in Arizona who`s never met me, never examined me, never reviewed my
Medical history or records, knows nothing about my family history, could
make a diagnosis from 2400 miles away. She must be a genius. This is just
another hacker who watch five minutes on TV. If she wants to get on a
plane and come here to New Jersey and ask me if she wants to examine me and
review my Medical history, I`ll have a conversation with her about that.
Until that time, she should shut up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: OK, it`s on in jersey. Stick around for that.
SHARPTON: The Republican Party is excited about their rising star.
There he is. "Time Magazine" calls Marco Rubio the republican savior. But
this mess is really too big for one man. The real story is Karl Rove on
the ropes. He was the GOP king maker. Bush`s brain. The boy genius.
But now he`s on the verge of a political knockout. Today, the far
right in full blown attack mode against Rove after he vowed to destroy
extreme Tea Partiers to extreme to win elections. Hours ago, Donald Trump
tweeting, "Karl Rove is a total loser. Money given to him might as well be
thrown down the drain."
Also today, Congressman Steve King of Iowa fired off an e-mail to
supporters asking for cash for potential Senate campaign to stop Karl Rove.
Quote, "Karl Rove and his army have launched a crusade against me. Nobody
can bully me out of running for the U.S. Senate not even Karl Rove and his
hefty war chest." Radio talkers are turning on the former king maker, as
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I want to invite as many people as possible. To
join the voices and the forces of liberty, not the forces of big government
and back room deals and crony capitalism, illustrative of Karl Rove.
These people need a hard, swift kick in the (bleep) off the public
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: This newspaper article about
Karl Rove`s intentions is only serving to unite the Tea Party in ways, even
now, it hasn`t been. It is energizing the Tea Party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Rove is trying to kill the Frankenstein known as the Tea
Party. But he`s the one on the ropes.
Joining me now is former Congressman Barney Frank. Mr. Chairman,
thank you for being here tonight.
FMR. REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Thank you, Al.
SHARPTON: Let me ask, where is the Republican Party now in your mind?
Still locked up by extremists or not?
FRANK: Well, it`s a major fight, the most interesting and important
political dynamic in America today is the effort by the more traditional
conservatives to take the party back from the Tea Party. But they really
are reaping what they sowed. These are the people who loved having the Tea
Party be irresponsible and extreme and nasty when that set of attack was
going against Democrats in 2010.
But now it turns out that the American people having seen what the Tea
Party really means, don`t like it. Think it`s a kind of an extremism
subjectively and a nasty attitude, personally. So now you have Karl Rove
and the others trying to get off the tiger they were riding. So, this is I
don`t know how it place out.
Republican primary voters are the ones who have chosen these people.
It`s a republican establishment, a very conservative group trying to take
over. This is the most interesting thing going on in America today. And
it is, I would say this, Al. Parties lose elections. We Democrats, we
lose badly in `72.
FRANK: I have never seen in all the years I`ve being watching
politics, 50 years personally that -- before that, but I studied a party go
from defeat in a president election to worse and worse and worse. To being
wrong on issues, to being divisive. I can`t think there are many Americans
today who think that this party with all of these internal, vicious fights
is capable of governance.
SHARPTON: Yes. Along those lines, when you look "Time Magazine"
saying, Senator Rubio is the republican savior, but when you look carefully
at his stances, he boosts about an endorsement to anti-gay groups like the
family research council. He recorded robo-cars for National Organization
for Marriage suggested societies shouldn`t tolerate same-sex marriage,
won`t say if same sex couples should be protected under the immigration
So even with the moderate kind of image he`s given as a savior, when
you dig into the details policy wise, very conservative kind of guy.
FRANK: No question, when you visit to some of this really extreme
conservatives being called moderates, it reminds me of a great philosophy
of the 20th century with whom you were familiar, Henny Youngman.
FRANK: And his great line, how`s your wife? Compared to what? With
these guys, it`s compared to what, or it`s the quote that Ronald Reagan
once said. This is a case where the right hand doesn`t know what the
extreme right hand is doing. But let`s look at Rubio. I heard him this
morning as I was driving to make a speech in Massachusetts. And he was
being critical of President Obama because he wants citizenship for
immigrants, the people who are now here illegally.
And Rubio said, oh, well, if the President just wants a political
issue, he can push getting them citizenship in a straight forward way
because that will embarrass the Republicans. Well, first of all, that`s an
acknowledgement that his party is still not willing to do the decent thing.
The notion that we would have people in this country and they would be
working and would be paying taxes. They couldn`t vote. They couldn`t be
What is that doing as a concept of democracy? And here`s Rubio
acknowledging this split. So, and also acknowledging that his party is on
the wrong side of it. They are on the wrong side of equal rights of people
(INAUDIBLE). They were the ones said, I saw the statistics on background
checks for guns on the question of immigration, on Social Security and
Medicare. Let`s remember, they continue to talk in their code about
FRANK: That means, they get harder for people to get Medicare, making
the wait longer, reducing the amount people get on Social Security. With
all the talk about inequality, let`s remember, Social Security and Medicare
are the two most effective of any programs in American history and the
Republican Party, led by Paul Ryan and the others, is still trying to
SHARPTON: Let me ask you this while I have you. The White House
announced today, they had officially sent to the Senate the nomination of
Mary Jo White to head the Securities and Exchange Commission. What does
our appointment mean to the agency carrying out the Dodd-Frank act in terms
of his rules?
FRANK: It`s very important. First of all, we have this very
important piece of the bill which is called the Volcker Rule named after
former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, that says that banks that get
insured deposits should not be engaged in risky kind of business. It`s a
very important piece to the bill that has to be adopted by several
agencies, including the Securities and Exchange Commission that by law
that`s a three to two agency.
Three majority, three minority. The two Republicans were probably
vote for a weak version. The problem has been -- critical opinion, he
should have made that appointment a while ago because he knew that the
outgoing chair, Mary Shapiro, a very good person, was quitting. But Mary
Jo White, yes, it`s important. And she`s also a tough lawyer.
And let me defend her. Some people said oh, well, after being the
U.S. attorney when she was a good tough prosecutor, she went and she
represented people in the business community. Well, Liberals should not be
saying that if you represent people that you don`t approve of, that makes
you a bad person. We want criminal defense attorneys to represent some of
the worst people in the world.
FRANK: Secondly, Barack Obama is following a president here by
appointing someone who was in fact involved with some of these people. And
note what they`re doing. When the Security and Exchanges Commission was
established in the `30s by Franklin Roosevelt, he appointed as a first
chairman a man who has been deeply engage in manipulation in this
He also picked Kennedy. And Joe Kennedy said, hey, look, guys, I know
all of the tricks because I`ve played them. Now they`re over. And now,
can I say on the Dodd-Frank bill, one important point. When we passed that
bill in June of 2010, the financial community and the Republicans said, oh,
this is going to be the end of the markets. This is going to destroy the
FRANK: In the two-and-a-half years since that bill became law, the
Dow Jones Industrial average has gone up 40 percent. We have just had one
of the best periods in American history in the stock market. And I`m not
saying that the passage of the bill caused it, but the notion that by
trying to get good regulation, to undermine the financial community, let me
say this. If that`s undermining, there`s a lot of people that would like
to be undermined.
SHARPTON: Well, the chairman conceived it and the President is
fighting to protect it. Former Congressman Barney Frank, thanks for your
FRANK: Thank you, Al, as usual.
SHARPTON: Ahead, for the first time ever, there are two African-
Americans serving in the Senate at the same time. And Chris Christie`s
wake? It`s a red hot controversy that everyone is talking about and taking
sides. That`s next.
SHARPTON: We have a new senator from Massachusetts, William "Mo"
Cowan. He took office today, he took the official oath on the Senate
floor. Governor Deval Patrick appointed his former chief of staff to
temple -- fill the seat, and then came the ceremonial oath.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VICE PRES. JOE BIDEN (D), UNITED STATES: OK. Here we go. Do you
solemnly swear to support and defend the country, the United States,
against all enemies, foreign and domestic, where you will bear true faith
and allegiance to the same, that you take this obligation freely without
any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and I will well and
faithfully discharge the duties of the office in which you are about to
enter, so help you God?
SEN. WILLIAM "MO" COWAN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I do, so help me god.
BIDEN: Congratulations, Senator.
Well, guys, welcome to the Senate. Welcome to the Senate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Welcome to the Senate. It was a big moment for him and his
family. But it was also a big day for progress. For the first time ever,
there are two African-Americans serving in the Senate at the same time.
Cowan join South Carolina Tim Scott, bringing the total number of black
senators in U.S. history to eight.
And Senator Scott was the first to congratulate Cowan, they shared a
handshake and a hug on the Senate floor. It wasn`t a great moment. No
matter what side of the aisle you`re on, we should all celebrate our
country moving forward.
SHARPTON: It`s the question that everyone is talking about. Is New
Jersey Governor Chris Christie too overweight to be president? That`s an
awkward question. And he came up this week after former White House doctor
went on TV saying, Christie could die in office. And it set off Christie`s
style war of words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONNIE MARCIANO, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DOCTOR: I`m a republican. So, I
like Chris Christie a lot. I want him to run. I`d just want him to lose
weight. I`m a physician more than a democrat or republican and I worry
about this man dying in office.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: This is just another hack who
wants five minutes on TV. My children saw that last night. And she sat
there on TV and said, I`m afraid he`s going to die in office. My 12-year-
old son comes to me last night and says dad, are you going to die?
MARCIANO: It`s almost like a time bomb waiting to happen. He must
address those issues before running for office.
CHRISTIE: If she wants to get on a plane and come here to New Jersey
and ask me if she wants to examine me and review my medical history, I`ll
have a conversation with her about that. Until that time, she should shut
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: So, is he too big? Or is it none of her business? Or
anyone`s business outside of the governor`s family.
Let me bring in Joe Madison and Dana Milbank. Thanks for being with
DANA MILBANK, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Hi, Reverend.
SHARPTON: I want to hear from both of you on this. Is Christie too
big to be president? Is it valid, Joe?
JOE MADISON, SIRIUS XM RADIO HOST: Well, let me go with somebody,
myself, who, at one point, Al, as you know, I weighed almost 300 pounds.
And a doctor has the ability to look at you, as my doctor did in his
waiting room and said you`re not leaving this office until we examine you.
Because here`s what`s going to happen, Joe.
One day you`re going to be speaking somewhere and you`re going to fall
MADISON: You`re going to die. And let me tell you, that was enough
incentive for me to go in there and get examined and to lose weight. You
remember our beloved friend, Maynard Jackson?
SHARPTON: Yes, former mayor of Atlanta.
MADISON: Thank you. And suffered from morbidity. Now, Christie may
be a young man, but as he grows older, these morbidities are going to catch
up with him. And here`s the point I finally make. And that is, stress and
overweight do not go together. And there is no one who understands the
presidency of the United States that can say you`re not going to be under-
stressed. And that`s exactly what that doctor was doing and the doctor
did, he and his family, a favor.
SHARPTON: Well, Dana, Joe`s doctor told him in private. Not over
television. Is this a fair, public debate? Or public scrutiny and
questioning in terms of a potential presidential candidate?
MILBANK: Well, I`ll lever it to you two skinny guys to say whether
that`s a medically valid point. But, you know what, when it comes to who`s
going to be the president of the United States, it`s not up to the doctors.
It`s up to the voters. And in a political sense, people are saying
Christie`s weight doesn`t matter. He`s handling it brilliantly from the
very beginning when he said, when he`s running against John Carson (ph)
says, yes, I`m pretty fat.
He`s been able to joke about it. He`s made it if anything an asset.
Now, of course any of us can look at this in an actual sense and say
somebody who was very seriously overweight may have difficulties with the
riggers of a presidential campaign, much less actually being in the White
House. But you know, the real problem Chris Christie is going to have is
not, you know, the size of his belly, it`s the policies that he`s got in
SHARPTON: Yes, no doubt about that. But, Joe, you were almost 300
pounds. I was over 300 pounds. And now I`m down to around 142. And I
know that people really in our culture are really kind of in my opinion
jaded. When I was over 300 pounds, people would slap me in the back and
say, hey, Reverend Al, when I lost weight, people send me tweets. Are you
all right? I`m healthy now. They should have been asking that when I was
MADISON: Look, I had the same thing, as you remember. You know, and
they look and, oh, you`re losing too much weight. Are you healthy? You
SHARPTON: Yes. Something must be wrong.
MADISON: And I understand that. But the issue was about the public.
Look, you`re president of the United States. Look at president Obama. He
MADISON: And he had the discipline to stop smoking. See, this is the
other thing. I bet you if Chris Christie decided, this is not funny, this
is nothing to joke about, I am not the poster board for health. Let`s just
understand that. He would also show the country that he is disciplined.
Now, the other thing is this New Jersey, I`m not from New Jersey, I love
the people from New Jersey, but this New Jersey attitude that I can call a
doctor who`s really advising me to get healthy and just brush him off is
not going to play well, I believe, in Iowa. It might play well in Trenton,
but I bet you it doesn`t play well in Peoria.
SHARPTON: Now, that`s a good question, Dana, politics. In terms of
his shooting from the hip, off-the-cuff kind of snappy remarks, shut up,
bullying teachers. Will that play nationally for a president? Some things
that are appealing at one level may not make it to the next level. Do you
want a head of state that is going to look across the table at another head
of state and tell him to shut up?
MILBANK: Well, first of all, Reverend Al, congratulations. You have
actually said tonight, you are not half the man you used to be. And I was
not aware of that.
SHARPTON: But I`m twice the trouble I used to be. But go ahead.
MILBANK: This has been politically Chris Christie`s asset. And I
think it does play well nationally, I mean, he`s got terrific numbers there
in New Jersey, you know, Left, Right and Center. But I think people like
that sense of candor that they hear nationally. I was just up at John
Brennan`s -- CIA director up on the hill, they`re praising his -- and
another straight talking guy from New Jersey. I think that sort of thing
Now, conventionally, people would say a fat guy can`t get elected.
That`s why we always looked to see what Al Gore`s weight was to see whether
he was planning on running again. I think Christie takes that out of the
equation politically because he`s handled it so well but --
MADISON: Well, Dana, I`ve got to tell you what bothers me about this.
And that is Chris Christie, oh, this is, you know, that`s really great.
When President Obama is candid like that, he`s uppity. I mean, give me a
break, and that is what bothers me about this double standard.
SHARPTON: Can you imagine President Obama telling a doctor to shut
MADISON: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Or jumping up in teachers face. I mean, it does seem like
it`s a different standard for different politicians, wouldn`t you say,
MILBANK: Well, certainly being from New Jersey or from New York,
you`re going to get a little more leeway there. I mean, look, the people
he`s got to impress are the republican primary voters. He`s got a whole
bunch of policies that are not in-line with the Tea Party because he comes
from the Northeast. He`s been highly critical of his party, he seems to be
able to, at least so far, to overcome that because he`s seen as being plain
spoken. I don`t know if you can make that comparison. It doesn`t.
You`re correct that it doesn`t work quite as well for President Obama.
And I should point out I think he is still sneaking the cigarettes here and
there just not publicly.
SHARPTON: I don`t want to get into that one, we`ll do that another
MADISON: That`s between you and the chef.
SHARPTON: But I will say that (INAUDIBLE) working with the President
and working with Democrats, might be a lot of weight to carry around in a
republican primary. No pun intended. Joe Madison and Dana Milbank, thanks
for your time this evening.
MADISON: Thank you.
MILBANK: Thank you.
SHARPTON: The big debate on presidential power and drones. My
SHARPTON: When is it OK for our government to kill someone? That
question was at the heart of today`s confirmation hearings for John Brennan
to run the CIA. It`s an emotional issue revolving around the use of drones
to kill those that government deems threats to our security. And anti
drone protesters made their voices heard even before the hearings
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: We`ll ask the police to please remove this woman.
Please remove. This is a very serious hearing.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Stand up against torture. Stand up against drones.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: They won`t even tell Congress what countries,
we`re killing children.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Please --
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Senator Feinstein --
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: If you could please expedite the removal.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Are your children more important than the
children of Pakistan and Yemen?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The hearing had to be adjourned briefly while the room was
cleared of protesters. I`ve always been very weary of the use of drones,
no matter if it`s under a republican president or a democrat. Transparency
is important here and President Obama releasing some records is a positive
first step. But there`s going to be a president after President Obama.
And who knows how that leader will handle these serious matters.
There must be consistency from one administration to the next. Even though
I trust President Obama. If we set a president now, are we going to live
with that if the next president is someone we don`t agree with? No matter
your politics, that`s the question all of us should think about.
Politics is sometimes around the person. Policy should be around the
precedent we set. No President should be able to go unchecked. I was
opposed to it under Bush. I`m opposed to it now. I`m afraid for the
future. We must watch this carefully.
I`m Al Sharpton, thanks for watching. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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