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PoliticsNation, Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Read the transcript from the Wednesday show

February 20, 2013

Guest: Abby Huntsman, Margie Omero, Lisa Lerer, Cynthia Tucker, Chuck Nice

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

Tonight`s lead, Republicans showed their true colors. Today, John Boehner
wrote an op-ed about the disastrous spending cuts scheduled to hit next
week. And wouldn`t you know it? A funny thing happened. The truth popped

John Boehner himself admits the cuts threaten the U.S. national security,
thousands of jobs and more. Boehner is right. These cuts were design to
be so brutal, so awful that even extremist Republicans would want to avoid
them. And, yet, the hill reports today that quote Republicans have decided
t the sequester is where they will make their stand on spending cuts. It`s
downright crazy. Republicans admit the cuts will threaten national
security and kill jobs. But they refuse to stop them? It makes zero

A new economic report warns these cuts could cause 700,000 workers to lose
their jobs this year alone.

The Pentagon today passed a plan to furlough 800,000 workers if the cuts
take effect. It`s shameful. And the president is fighting that. Today,
he gave interviews to eight different TV shows around the country,
demanding the GOP stop these spending cuts, and, instead, close loopholes
for the rich.


education, instead of us cutting mental health programs, instead of us
affecting military readiness and a whole range of other things that are
really important to our security and prosperity, we should be focused on
programs that we know don`t work, waste in government and some of these tax
holes that we could close, that frankly, only benefit the well-off and the
well connected. Now I only need Congress to act and they have got nine
days to do it.


SHARPTON: Nine days to do it. The president is fighting to stop these
cuts. But as we said last night, if they do happen, you will know who to
thank. If your child loses the head start program, thank the Republicans.
If you have to pay more for your milk because of the food inspectors, thank
the Republicans. If you can`t get in the national parks this summer
because the hours have cut, thank Republicans. And if you are one of the
hundreds of thousands of people who lose their jobs, remember to thank the

Joining me now is Joy Reid and Jared Bernstein.

Joy, let me start with you. Did Boehner think it through when he admitted
these will kill jobs and hurt national security?

JOY-ANN REID, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I don`t know. Did he think
it through when he said he got 98 percent of what he wanted in the exact
same bill that it is about to take effect? Look. Republicans are
suffering the consequences of their own preferred policy.

The vote for this -- the bill for the budget control act of 2011, which is
what we are talking about taking effect, was 174 to 66 on the Republican
side. Meaning 174 members of John Boehner`s House of Representatives, more
than twice, almost twice as many as the number of Democrats that voted for,
only 95 Dem voted for it, said you know what? Our preferred policy is, in
order to force the Democratic Party, in order to force the president to
"cut spending," quote unquote, we`re going to put in place this sequester
which does these huge cuts to social problems, but also to the military.

So, this is the policy they voted for. This is the policy they wanted.
Now that it`s about to happen, they tried to blame Barack Obama for the
sequences of their own deal to cut spending.

SHARPTON: NO, they voted for it. They are trying to make it Obama`s
sequester when they voted, as you stated u almost 2-1 in terms of party
lines for this.

But Jared, when you look knows, some of the right are starting to point out
that Boehner has stopped making sense. For example, today Byron York, of
the conservative Washington examiner, he wrote quote, the effects of
Boehner`s argument, is to make Obama seem reasonable in comparison. After
all, the president certainly agrees with Boehner that the sequester cuts
threaten national security and jobs. The difference is that Obama wants to
avoid them. This is in the Washington examiner, a conservative paper.

JARED BERNSTEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, exactly right. I mean, I read
the speaker`s op-ed in the journal. And I thought it was logically kind of
a disaster for him because it said, the sequester is something that must be
at all costs. That was the first thought. And both you and I agree on
that. And joy, this too, I`m sure.

And then, the second half says here are all the reasons why we will refuse
to compromise with the president on it. And so, I think Byron York is
exactly right. You can`t say this is a disaster for the nation being an
elected public official who presumably comes to Washington not to generate
disasters and self-inflicted wounds, but to actually solve problems and
refuse to cooperate with the president who has come to the table with
precisely the kind of balance that Americans know have to close the deal.
There will have to be spending cuts and here will have to be tax increases.
And I think this is going to play very badly for Republicans because,
again, in the public consciousness, it`s recognized that one side is
willing to compromise and one side is stone walling.

SHARPTON: Now, let me -- on the other hand, though, Joy, Rand Paul has had
a different take on this. He insists the looming cuts are not deep enough.
Listen to Rand Paul.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I voted against is sequester because I
didn`t think it was enough. It`s a pints (ph). I mean, it`s a slowdown in
the rate of growth. There are no real cuts happening over ten years.


SHARPTON: Rand Paul -- Need I say more?

REID: Well, only 26 members of Senate voted against the original budget
control. Like most of the Republicans that voted against it, did so for
that reason. And they thought, this is not enough. It is not drastic
enough. They actually wanted to include things like cuts to Medicare.
They want deeper cuts to social program.

Rand Paul is, I think, largely OK with cutting the military budget, which a
lot of Democrats are, too. But the bottom part of the party that is the
most offended on the right in the Republican base is the part that wants to
slash spending government spending, regardless of the consequences. We
have seen in Europe extreme austerity just causes recession. They don`t
care about that.

People like Rand Paul, and again, his part of the party is still active and
motivated. The part of the party that feels demoralized, is the Boehner
part, the part --


SHARPTON: But Jared, let`s look at what the cuts are. He says he doesn`t
cut enough. Well, look at the impact that it will do at this point, if, in
fact, it goes through in nine days. It will affect poor and working
people. And let me show you how, 600,000 women and children lose nutrition
aid, 125,000 lose housing head, 70,000 kids lose head start, 25,000 fewer
cancer screenings. I mean, this hurts.

And when you look at the fact that the president is saying let`s close
loopholes for things like private jets and yachts and things like that,
that could avoid these cuts. They would rather do this to children and
poor people and middle class people than to have guys close loopholes on
their yachts and their private jets. It`s amazing.

BERNSTEIN: You have to understand that the part of the party that`s making
the most news about this and that is actually driving John Boehner -- I
would argue to places where John Boehner doesn`t really want to go is he
part that has two goals. One is to cut taxes on the wealthiest Americans,
protect them from any tax increases and the other is to slash government.

Now, Rand Paul`s numbers are completely famished, as my grandmother would
have said. In fact, legislative 1.5 trillion in spending cuts so far.
Those are on the books. On the other side, we have increased taxes about
600 billion. So there`s already a significant imbalance with far more
spending cuts than revenue increases. The president is coming to the table
saying let`s make this deal a more balanced one in the interest of
compromise and in the interest of not inflicting a wound on this economy
and protecting all the economically vulnerable people you just mentioned
and these guys are saying, no, more cults for the wealthy.

And so, again, I believe this is going to, once again, show the American
public that they are way, way, way out of the mainstream.

SHARPTON: But Joy, let me say this quick because we would be running out
of time. You had brought up about how this is something that they had
voted for that I had said how they are trying to make it the president`s
sequester. But, the American people seem to be clear because if you look
at the latest polling from Gallup, Republicans in Congress have 12 percent
approval rating, president has an approval rating of 52 percent. Americans
seem to be clear on who is doing what for the American people.

REID: Exactly, especially since the American party has made cutting
spending their main mantra. It is the main thing they want to do. So,
when you have a bill that is essentially slashes spending, once again, you
are restating the Republican goal. And so, the consequences of sequester
would mainly fall on the Republicans. People would see this as the natural
output of what they have always say they wanted to do.

Meanwhile, the president is proposing an idea that Mitt Romney supported.
The idea of closing loopholes. This was just their standard for the
presidency saying close loopholes. Obama is saying let`s do it, too. And
now, Republicans are saying no. They don`t look reasonable.

SHARPTON: And it is very serious, the ramifications.

Joy Reid, Jared Bernstein, thanks for your time tonight.

REID: Thank you.

BERNSTEIN: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, the explosive town hall that reveals the ugly rhetoric of
the Republican base.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most of the people that come across the border are
illiterate, they don`t speak English and they are a dependent class. Cut
off their welfare and all these stuff and the will do back.


SHARPTON: Illiterate on welfare? This is ugly stuff and Republicans have
to deal with it.

Plus, a young Barack Obama and the shooting scare that changed his life as
a community organizer.

Also, your first look at the new official portrait of the first lady with

You`re watching POLITICS NATION on MSNBC.


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Today, folks were buzzing about the first lady`s new official portrait.

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We are so proud.

Cheryl says I love her new haircut. It makes her look so young.

Vanessa says she`s a beautiful, spirited woman inside and out.

We have got more news on the first lady coming up later in the show.

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SHARPTON: The Republican Party has a big problem. It`s called the
Republican voter. The hard right base is extreme and out of touch and is
standing in the way of progress. Senator John McCain saw it firsthand at a
town hall yesterday.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most of the people that come across the border are
illiterate. They don`t speak English and they are dependent class.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: They care for our babies. They`re people
who have been here illegally for 50 years or 40 years. Am I then telling
them to be guest workers? No, we can`t do that. Why can`t you do that
because they appreciate the nation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why bring a 30 million people into the United --

MCCAIN They`re here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut off their welfare and all of their stuff and they
will go backseat.

MCCAIN: The overwhelming majority of them are not on welfare.


SHARPTON: Illiterate. On welfare. So much for change. But there`s no
reasoning with them.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are a senator with the federal government and
you`re doing nothing about it. You said build a dang fence. Where`s the

MCCAIN: In case you missed it, I showed you --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s not a fence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why didn`t the army go down there and stop them?
Because the only thing that stops them, I`m afraid to say and it`s too damn
bad, is a gun. That`s all that will stop them.


SHARPTON: The only thing that stops them is a gun. Even when Republicans
are trying to move forward, the base won`t let them. How can the GOP
change when the loudest voices in the party are the most extreme.

Joining me now is Abby Huntsman and Margie Omero. Thank you both for
joining me.


SHARPTON: Abby, how can Republicans deal with extreme voices like we heard
at that McCain town hall?

HUNTSMAN: Well, I don`t think a lot of people would watch that and say
that was a really a group I would like to hang out with.

You know, this is a McCain that people like. This is a McCain that shows

SHARPTON: Yes. I haven`t McCain in a while.

HUNTSMAN: Right. He hasn`t been like this in a while because the McCain
that got him the nomination back in 2008, the McCain that puts country
before party. And I think is a McCain that we are going to start to see
more of because he doesn`t have aspiration from here and now, right? So --

SHARPTON: The problem is the old or the new McCain, it is the crowd. I
mean, that they embodies. The stuff they were saying is ugly, but, yet is
the loudest voices in the park.

It is ugly. But, I commend John McCain because he has the microphone right
now. He is one of the few Republicans that has the microphone in which to
speak. I think more Republicans should be doing what McCain is doing
because it`s not easy to speak in front of a crowd like that that does not
agree with you. And he is doing that. He is having the conversation. He
is saying let`s be compassionate. You know, we are dealing with 11 million
people here. You know, let`s have compassion. And I think people look at
that and say when I see immigration, it`s something we can transition on,
similar to gay marriage, right? But you have to have the conversation in
order anywhere and he is doing just that.

SHARPTON: What I think we`ve not seen enough, Margie, Republican
leadership doing that. I comment McCain on this occasion, but you didn`t
see it at all. If you did, it was very rare during the election last year.
You haven`t seen it at all during the fiscal-cliff debate. And you even
have roll call Stuart Rothenberg saying the basis of extreme, they are
hurting themselves. The Republican Party`s problems go back to its base
voters. Many of them are so blinded by their anger toward President Barack
Obama, that they`re willing to nominate the most conservative candidate in
a primary, no matter how limited his appeal in a general election.

MARGIE OMERO, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes. And you head a lot of our
language in that clip from the voters is actually pairing back the same
kind of language that you hear from Wayne Lapierre and some of the same
language you saw in Mitt Romney`s welfare ads from last year.

So, this language has come from folks on the right, has come from
Republican leaders and gets metastasized and compared back to John McCain.
And while he had some real inclusive language there, you are also reminded
of his ad from his last primary where he had to move to the right on
immigration and now it`s coming back to where he`s been before on
immigration. And that is something that a lot of Republicans are having
the faith where they want to be more -- they want to be more moderate.
They are worried about a challenge on the right. And because they have
gerrymandered a lot of this circle. And so, they are more concerned about
a primary challenge from someone more extreme than they are. And you have
a party that`s now giving a lot of oxygen --

SHARPTON: But then, isn`t that the problem?


OMERO: Stay right there, Margie. Because isn`t that the problem, Abby,
that they`re afraid of a backlash? How do you move the party forward
without having a backlash from these hard right wingers.

HUNTSMAN: They are afraid of backlash as now he was saying -- I was asking
the question why did we see different McCain back in 2010 than we are
seeing now. Because he was running in a very tough primary, very tough

In Arizona, as we all saw, he was afraid he wasn`t going to win. So
obviously, now we are seeing a McCain that`s doing what he wants to do. He
is doing what he believe is best for the country and that is the biggest
challenge for Republican because they have to get to get for the primary.
We talk about this all the time. The primary is the biggest challenge for
Republicans moving forward. And you have to get the point where, you know,
you can`t worry so much about those extreme so far on the right. You have
to do what you feel is right. The party is not going to win. Otherwise,
they`re not going to be successful.

I have a feeling that you are going to see a lot more heads cut off
internally. I mean, we are seeing a civil war right now in the Republican
Party and maybe that is awful.

SHARPTON: Now, when you also look at, Margie, Newt Gingrich. He attacked
Rove for trying to change the direction of the party to more moderate
candidates. Watch this.


has creating some super PAC to go out and basically pick Republican Senate
nominees, for example. It is a terrible idea. I think this is a very
dangerous model.


SHARPTON: A dangerous model, what do you think, Margie? Is it?

OMERO: Well, I can see why they want to have a structural fix of what,
ultimately though, is a message problem. This isn`t just about what
primary -- I mean, what candidates are coming out of primary, what stay or
another. You still have a broader message on the right that is alienating
to a lot of folks in the middle. That is alienating to a lot of women, a
lot of Republican women, alienating to independence, alienating to
minorities, alienating to young r voters. And they can have instructional
fixes. They can have super PAC, they are going to have Karl Rove in a
fight with Newt Gingrich or what have you that still ultimately doesn`t
change the fact that the Republican brand is one that`s becoming
exclusionary rather than inclusive.

SHARPTON: But Abby, when you have Newt, he also wrote a scathing problem
calling Rove and his ideas terrible, repugnant and simply wrong. I mean,
how can the GOP change if they can`t even agree on how to go about doing

HUNTSMAN: This is a time when I absolutely agree with Newt Gingrich. I
think he made -some really solid points in that op-ed that he wrote about
the problems with politics. He was talking about consultants specifically
and how, really, they have taken so much of the authenticity out of
politics and they have (INAUDIBLE) into a complete swamp.

So, I think that is, obviously, there is a message probably, there is a
technology problem. But I think, you know, there is also problem with
consultants that are getting paid the money to control the messaging when
they don`t even understand what messaging they need to be giving out to

SHARPTON: But there`s another problem, Margie, and that is when you don`t
have a high view of the American public. Let me show you the new FOX
contributor, Mr. Herman Cain. He thinks the reason President Obama won is
because half the country is stupid, stupid. I`m not making this up. Watch


HERMAN CAIN, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: He is so popular because 51 percent of
the voters were misled enough to vote for him.

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEW ANCHOR: The American people were misled? I mean,
how dumb are we?

CAIN: Well, we are that dumb. We have a severe ignorance problem.


SHARPTON: We have a severe ignorance problem, Margie. Republicans have
gone from insulting 47 percent of the country to insulting 51 percent of
the country. I mean, is that an improvement?

OMERO: Now, if you are insulting the voter, you are doing something wrong.
And you need to be able to love the voter in order to be able to talk to
them. And if you don`t have that, then, you shouldn`t be in politics. You
shouldn`t be in public service. You see something else and you see that
was McCain -- I mean, with Cain, you see that with Mitt Romney. And
frankly, you saw that little bit with John McCain when he got testy, I know
he was in a confrontational situation but he got testy with the voters. He
got testy with the press afterwards. It is not going any politicians of

SHARPTON: Abbey Huntsman and Margie Omero, thank you both for your time.

HUNTSMAN: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, they have a new one. They are somehow comparing senator
Ted Cruz to senator Elizabeth Warren. Amazing.

And the incredible of story of Barack Obama, the community organizer, how a
gunfight in Chicago is shaping his agenda today.

Stay with us.


SHARPTON: Freshman Texas senator Ted Cruz is the new toast of the crazy
wing of the Republican Party. In short time, he has both sides of the
aisles criticizing his radical rhetoric. But our friends over at FOX have
a new theory.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The big picture story here is that Ted Cruz is a
Latino. And everyone knows that is the Hispanic vote is very important,
especially moving forward in this country. So, that could be the big
picture reason why there has been this attack because he is a conservative
Republican and so far, a huge majority of the Latino vote went to the


SHARPTON: Oh, yes, you got us. Liberals attacking senator Cruz because he
is Latino. I`m sure it has nothing to do with the extreme record. All
that he talks about threats of Sharia law is definitely not because he said
Medicaid was unconstitutional yet, it is because he is Latino. The
criticism has nothing to do with suggesting Chuck Hagel received money from
foreign enemies or voting against the violence against women act or voting
against Sandy relief or voting against confirming John Kerry as secretary
of state.

Cruz`s record prompted an opinion write up for "The New York Times" to call
him a nasty newcomer. But over at FOX, they say another freshman senator
is the extreme one.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "The New York Times" coverage of Elizabeth Warren, the
furthest they would go is to call her a cervix, but they complemented her
for being as aggressive as she was.

JASON RILEY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Freshman Senator Elizabeth Warren of
Massachusetts spent time berating her republican colleagues for calling for
more transparency in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Where are
the articles about her sharp elbows and not playing nice?


SHARPTON: Let`s get this straight. They think Elizabeth Warren, the
ultimate fighter for fairness is more extreme than Ted Cruz. The guy who
questions a war hero`s patriotism. This reminds me of something else my
pal at FOX once said.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: We`re not nuts, are we?


SHARPTON: I won`t answer that one. But did you think we`d let you get
away with this ridiculous defense of Ted Cruz? Nice try, but we got you.


SHARPTON: For the president to battle over gun control is personal. He
called the day he learned about the Sandy Hook shooting the worst day of
his presidency. He signed letters from children who have written him about
gun violence writing what appears to be proud of you. The President is
clearly moved. And, today, we`re learning more about why. While this hit
so close to home.

This new Bloomberg article revealed how our shooting scare guides his anti-
poverty plan. Quote, "In the spring of 1986, a grassroots organizer named
Barack Obama was walking through a trash-strewn playground on Chicago south
side when the sound of gunshots pierced the air."

He`s seen violence firsthand. Seen how it affects the community. Like so
many issues, gun control is personal for President Obama. Just like health
care was, like education, like fighting for the middle class. It comes
from being that community organizer in Chicago`s south side. These are the
life lessons he`s lived.

But so many on the right continue to mock the President for it. For those
mocking, ask yourself, what have you seen firsthand? What have you done?

Joining me now is Lisa Lerer, Bloomberg News White House correspondent who
wrote the article, President Obama`s time as a community organizer. And
Cynthia Tucker, Pulitzer Prize winning syndicated columnist and now a
visiting professor of journalism at the University of Georgia.

Thank you both for coming on the show.



SHARPTON: Lisa, great story. Tell us how President Obama`s community
organizing experience has helped shape his presidency.

LERER: Well, this was a startling experience for the President. I mean,
here he was, basically a middle class kid who went to a prep school in
Hawaii. All of a sudden as a community organizer, he`s operating in some
neighborhood of Chicago and hearing bullets whizzing by him. I think it
definitely was an experience that left a mark on him and in a lot of ways
he`s influence how he`s approaching poverty, perhaps not gun control but

Now, you see him taking just as he did then taking a holistic approach with
his promise zones, he`s looking to sort of coordinate programs and
education and housing and target communities that really need that kind of
help with the really holistic approach and that`s what he tried to do back
in the `80s when he was working in Chicago. Of course on a much smaller,
more local level.

SHARPTON: Now, you know, Cynthia, when I was reading Lisa`s article which
straggly is a lot of those that are in this gun debate in Washington, only
know about guns from hunting or hob bees and never had the firsthand
experience of living in a community and working in a community where gun
violence and the sounds of guns is totally different than hunting. It is
actually living under siege and fear and knowing that very possibly some
innocent life might have just been taken. President Obama may be the only
one at that level that has really lived through that.

TUCKER: Absolutely right. And Reverend Al, you know, you and I have
talked about. The horrible tow that gun violence take in poor neighborhood
across the country.


TUCKER: And his experience as a community organizer not only brought him
face to face with that one moment in the park where he hit the ground,
apparently, because he heard gunshots in the background, but it also, I
don`t have any doubt that he met parents and young men and young women who
had been affected by that gun violence in his community organizing work.

And while Republicans have never given up mocking him for his work as a
community organizer, thank heaven that he had that experience. What it`s
also true you know, I think he was drawn to that work because he long had
some sense of economic inequality.


TUCKER: You know, he talked not just for his childhood but from his
mothers work at, you know, they lived abroad, they saw income inequality
and places like Indonesia and that drew him to his interest in community
organizing. Trying to help bring social and economic justice.

SHARPTON: Through what he personally.

TUCKER: He can do it across the world, so he can do it in this country.

SHARPTON: To what he personally experienced. You know, Lisa, in the
article you talked about how he dealt with issues like poverty and saw
violence firsthand. I`m reading from the article. It says a woman who
worked with him is quoted as saying, we were so protective of him. "We
were like don`t go into this neighborhood. This is a bad corner. But he
would always go anyway."

The article went on to say, "When Obama went to Los Angeles, he requested
tour of the neighborhoods most overrun by warring gangs. The group went at
night and saw young men darting across streets and into alleyways."

I mean this kind of experience firsthand certainly shapes a different
approach to when we`re dealing with gun control who from someone who
understands it vastly different on the ground where there`s an ever-present

LERER: I think that`s right, but I also think it`s important to point out
that the President has faced a lot of criticism about for his inaction in
his first term on gun control.


LERER: In fact the woman who you quoted when you`re just talking and a lot
of his old friends and colleagues support the President. But they`re
saying, look, we`re happy you`re doing this now, but where have you been.

In his first term, the President did nothing to control, the spread of
guns, in fact he expanded gun rights. He signed a law allowing passengers
to carry loaded guns in their baggage on Amtrak. So, while people on the
south side of Chicago are happy that he`s getting involved now, they
certainly would like him to see more. And they would like to see more
attention paid to urban gun violence.

He really, the President only got involved in this fight after the horrible
shooting at Newtown which was of course the tragedy but as they point out,
it was a suburban tragedy, it wasn`t an inner city cheatings. So, they
would like to see more.

SHARPTON: But now, Hadiya Pendleton and the -- shooting he`s involved.
Cynthia, is it that you feel that he was ignoring it or was it that he felt
that he had to wait for a second term and have the wind to his back and not
he facing another elections, so he could weigh in on what is a very
difficult, political battle.

Even now we don`t know how much if anything we`re going to get done.

TUCKER: Well, it`s clear that the President shied away from this issue
because he was afraid of it politically. And I understand why people in
Chicago annoyed that he didn`t do anything earlier but I don`t just blame
the President for that. I blame the entire Democratic Party and I said,
the Democratic Party for a good reason.


TUCKER: I don`t expect Republicans to act on this issue, but democrat
should have again, they`re having their platform, social justice, economic
justice, caring for the little people who are most hurt by violence. They
should have been on this issue but they were scared away from it. Ever
since the Clinton years, they were intimidated by the gun lobby by the NRA
and they didn`t want to touch it. And so Obama didn`t want to touch it.

Unfortunately, it took the deaths of a bunch of small children, children in
Newtown, Connecticut to finally get the nation`s attention. And we only
now have the possibility of doing something about it. And you`re right,
Reverend Al, even now, with all of these deaths, it still remains a
difficult, contentious issue for Congress to tackle.

SHARPTON: Well, I hope we do. I mean, I`ve been on this issue a long
time, I wish everyone including the Democratic Party president and others
had gotten there earlier. But I don`t want to bicker now about what time
everyone arrived. I`m glad to hear, let`s get something done. Lisa Lerer
and Cynthia Tucker, thanks for your time tonight.

TUCKER: Thanks for having me.

SHARPTON: Coming up, when comedians attack politicians. Get ready, D.C.
big news today.

And Sarah Palin has some company at the big conservative political action
conference. And it`s probably the last person you`d expect. Think about
that. We`ll be right back.


SHARPTON: First Lady Michelle Obama is making news this week. We told you
earlier this week that Mrs. Obama joked her bangs are a midlife crisis.
But they`re here to say. Here`s her new White House portrait release
today. But, this morning, she was talking about another portrait.


MICHELLE OBAMA, U.S. FIRST LADY: I`ve got right here a family photo. Of
course I have tons of pictures in my office. And this is actually Sasha`s
lower school graduation. So, she has her flowers and, you know, Malia
looks much older than I`d like her to look.



SHARPTON: Mrs. Obama also said she`ll visit three states to mark the third
anniversary of her Let`s Move campaign to promote healthy living.

And get ready, Jimmy Fallon, she`s coming for you this Friday. She
probably won`t be slow jamming the news but more workouts are coming your
way. Good luck, Jimmy.

And coming up, another late-night comedian is going to Washington. That`s


SHARPTON: It`s as American as apple pie. Comedians making fun of
politicians. And there`s a bigger stage. There is none other -- none
bigger than this stage. And that`s political humor at the White House
correspondence dinner. Today, we learned late night talk show host Conan
O`Brien will be hosting this year`s dinner. And as we`ve seen over the
years, the comics have plenty of material to work with.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I believe in this president. Now, I know there`s some
polls out there saying that this man has a 32 percent approval rating. But
guys like us, we don`t pay attention to the polls. Sir, pay no attention
to the people who say the glass is half empty. Because 32 percent means
two-thirds empty.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Mr. President, you`ve had your fair share of critics.
So they even gave you your grief about the dog, about both, you know, the
animal rights people on you, why didn`t you get a rescue dog? Why didn`t
you get a rescue dog? Look, the man has to rescue a country that`s been
abused by its previous owner. Let him have a fresh start with the dog.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Tell me on the news, mentioned the President beginning
little grace he`s taking office but he`s had his share of stress. Tough
economy, two wars, health care fight, Iran, North Korea, his mother-in-law
moving in with him. I think that would break most men.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You might as well talk about the 2012 republican
candidates. Just look at the options the Republicans are kicking around.
Palin, Huckabee, Gingrich, Trump, it doesn`t sound like a field of
candidate. That sounds like season 13 of "Dancing with the Stars." You
know, they say that inside every American governor is a president
struggling to get out. In Chris Christie`s case, it`s the only one where
you can still hear him screaming.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: And you might be misunderstanding New Jersey slogan,
it`s not the Olive Garden state.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Donald Trump has been saying that he would run for
president as a republican, which is surprising since I just assumed he was
running as a joke.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It`s an honor to be here, you know, you told me when I
was a kid that I would be sitting on the same day as with President Barack
Obama, I would have said the President`s name is Barack Obama?


SHARPTON: Let`s bring in comedian and TV personality Chuck Nice. Chuck,
would you comedians even have a job without politicians?

CHUCK NICE, COMEDIAN: Oh, absolutely not. And you know, the thing is that
they make it so easy. That`s the beauty of it. I mean, certain politics.
Barack Obama doesn`t make it easy. This year, it will be a little bit
easier because it`s his second term.


NICE: So, there`s four years of precedent that you can go on. And I
suspect a lot of drone jokes to be made by Conan O`Brien.

SHARPTON: But, you know, he, himself, is pretty funny. Look at this.


OBAMA: In the next hundred days, my partisan outreach would be so
successful that even John Boehner would consider becoming a democrat.
After all, we have a lot in common. He is a person of color.

Although not a color of that appears in the natural world.


As some of you heard, the state of Hawaii released my official long form
birth certificate. Tonight, I`m prepared to go a step further. Tonight,
for the first time, I am releasing my official birth video.


Four years ago, I was locked in a brutal primary battle with Hillary
Clinton. Four years later, she won`t stop drunk texting me from Cartagena.


In my first term, we passed health care reform. In my second term, I guess
I`ll pass it again.



SHARPTON: I mean, how effective is that for the President to show that

NICE: Let me tell you something. I just sat here and watched that. And
Barack Obama, if he wanted to be a stand-up comic, he would be a very
successful stand-up-comic. Because part of this whole thing is being able
to accept what people already know and turn it around. So it`s -- much of
comedy is a boomerang.

SHARPTON: That`s right.

NICE: And obviously, much of his presidency has been a boomerang. He has
been the counter puncher, politically, and he does the same thing in
comedy. And it`s awesome, I mean, seriously, to have that kind of ease and
that kind of presence when you`re following the comedian, the guy who does
this for a living, and he walks up there just like, all right, guys,
thanks so much for being here. Everybody, give it up for my opening at
Jimmy Kimmel.

SHARPTON: And he takes it.

NICE: And then he takes --

SHARPTON: And, you know, Clinton was good, too. Let me show you some Bill

Mr. Clinton, I wasn`t being political there, I was really going to show

But let me tell you throw something else, Chuck.

NICE: Go ahead.

SHARPTON: When politicians make a gaffe, you guys never let it go, I mean,
you take a drive at home. And you become identified would it because you
guys really cement the image, like last week Marco Rubio Watergate. Watch
what comedians did with Mr. Rubio.


JIMMY KIMMEL, COMEDIAN: Why was the water so far away? It would have been
-- it would have been less awkward if he reached down the front of his
pants to get it.


STEPHEN COLBERT, TALK SHOW HOST: True professional knows, you know how to
cover, you just cover your problem by always maintaining eye contact with
the home viewers and connecting, connecting with the audience.


KIMMEL: It would have been less awkward had he been wearing one of these
during the speech.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: No one will notice, you know.


SHARPTON: I mean, when you guys grab one gaffe and just drill it in, it
stays in the American mind and we never let it go.

NICE: Well, you know why? It`s because, you know, especially in the case
like Marco Rubio, this guy made it so easy.

SHARPTON: Oh, yes.

NICE: I mean, seriously, it`s one thing when something gets into the
ground water and becomes part of these -- of American pop culture. It`s
another thing when you main line it into our veins, you know. So he made
it so easy sitting there. You`re responding to the State of the Union and
you look like you`re stealing a bottle of water.

SHARPTON: Chuck Nice, always great having you here.

NICE: It`s my pleasure.

SHARPTON: Thanks. Come again.

NICE: Thank you, sir.

SHARPTON: All right.

A new addition to the CPAC speaker`s list. Let`s just say, I hope the
trees are the right height there. Next.


SHARPTON: Even for some die hard Republicans, we`re finally seeing some
change we can believe in. Florida Governor Rick Scott has long been
against President Obama`s health care law.


GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: This is going to be devastating for
patients, devastating for taxpayers. It`s going to be the biggest job
killer ever. We`re not going to implement Obamacare in Florida.

We`re not going to implement this Medicaid expansion.

He shouldn`t be telling us what we can and can`t buy. This would be the
biggest job killer ever.


SHARPTON: Well, surprise, surprise. Today he announced, he will expand
Medicaid in his state under that same health care law that he bashed.
Governor Scott joined six other republican governors who bashed it and who
are now also expanding Medicaid.

Congratulations, governors. Welcome to the party. Too bad some other
folks in the GOP aren`t quite so forward looking. This week, we learned
that Rick "blah people" Santorum is speaking at the big CPAC meeting summit
next month. So is Allen communist in Congress West and Rand "health care
slight slavery" Paul. And Sarah "I can see Russia from my house" Palin.
But, today, the biggest guest of all was announced. And he`s literally the
last person you`d want to hear talk about the future of the Republican

That`s right, Willard Mitt Romney, Mr. 47 percent himself will be the guest
of honor. You can`t make it up. A lot of people around here was shock
when they announced Romney. I thought it was appropriate. Because the
more I hear about the GOP talking about change, the more I really know it
remains the same.

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



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