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PoliticsNation, Monday, February 25th 2013

Read the transcript from the Monday show

February 25, 2013

Guests: James Peterson, Angela Rye, Dana Milbank, Karen Finney, Joe Madison

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

Tonight`s lead, GOP hack job. There are just four days until $85
billion of spending cuts are scheduled to kick in. These cuts would be
disastrous. And may also throw millions of people out of work and hurt our
economic recovery. The president wants to stop these cuts by closing the
loopholes that favor millionaires but Republicans just flat out refuse.

But here`s the problem. Outside of the Republican caucus rooms and
quiet GOP rooms where the big money men make their deals, there are real
live American families who will be unnecessarily hurt.


and educators will be laid off. Tens of thousands of parents will have to
deal with finding childcare for their children. Hundreds of thousands of
Americans will lose access to primary care and preventative care like flu
vaccinations and cancer screenings. And the longer these cuts are in
place, the bigger the impact will become.


SHARPTON: The impact is clear. But Republicans are putting their
heads in the sand about how bad it`s going to get.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Do you have a sense of how many jobs
will be lost as a result of this sequester?



SHARPTON: Really, Mr. Speaker? You`re the guy in charge. And you
don`t know?

Well, here it is. The congressional budget office says there will be
750,000 job losses. Another independent economic group says 700,000 jobs
losses. No matter how you slice it, it`s bad, real bad. Real families
hurt. And the details of what would happen are starting to come in.

And speaker Boehner`s home state of Ohio, these cuts would kick 2,500
kids out of head start, cause 5,000 fewer kids to get vaccines and cut
$823,000 from a program to help seniors get meals.

Speaker Boehner, is that what really voters elected you to do? Crack
down on preschoolers and seniors who need to eat?

Folks, Republicans will have a hard time selling these horrific cuts
to people back home. But some may not have to. These cuts would also shut
down the only airport in Congressman Paul Ryan`s hometown of Jamesville,
Wisconsin. I guess that`s one way to avoid facing voters, make sure you
can`t get home from Washington.

Joining me now is Jared Bernstein and James Peterson.

Jared, these cuts seem obviously bad, no matter what party you are
from. What`s your analysis of this?

JARED BERNSTEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Obviously, bad. For the economy,
as you mentioned. I mean, remember - and you don`t hear this enough. We
have an unemployment rate that`s already way too highly elevated, stuck at
eight percent overall for African-Americans, much higher.

And what does this kind of policy do? It takes an economy that`s
already not growing quickly enough and subtracts $85 billion of spending in
2013. That shaves about half a percent off GDP growth and you went to the
job loss number before.

So, whether we`re talking about a macro level, the kind of numbers I
was just citing, or a micro level, how this plays out on the ground, you
know, poor families losing educational slots, head start slots, childcare
slots, nutritional programs for women, infants and kids, absolutely the
wrong time. And if I, it never a good time. This is a particularly
terrible time for this kind of nonsense.

SHARPTON: No. It`s never a good time. But this is particularly

Let me ask you Dr. Peterson, the president said something that I want
to play you because I want to raise another point to you. But, he called
out the GOP for refusing to budge on these cuts. Listen to what he says
and then I want to ask you a question.


OBAMA: I know that some people in Congress were effectively -
reflexively opposed any idea that I put forward, even if it`s an idea they
once supported. But rebuilding infrastructure is not my idea. It`s
everybody`s idea. This town has to get past its obsession with focusing on
the next election instead of the next generation. All of us are elected
officials. All of us are concerned about our politics, both in our party
as well to the other parties. But at some point we got to do some


SHARPTON: Professor Peterson, I mean has the GOP just given up on
being a governing party and just say we`re going to obstruct? I mean, have
they just given up altogether on being part of the governing and making
this country work?

they are invested in governance by brinkmanship. And I`m not sure what the
long term political gain of that, but it`s clear that if this sequestration
goes through on Friday, it looks like it will, it`s the beginning of an era
of us austerity right here in the United States.

And it seems really sad. It seems like our government is broken, Rev,
because remember, this is such an abstract concept when put in place at the
debt ceiling talks. It was literally put in place to force political
figures to come to the table, to come to compromise and to make decision
that`s are benefit for the future of this country going forward. That has
failed to happen and we have to look at the obstructionism that we see on
the part of the Republicans. And at the end of the day, we have to really
think is this the direction we want to go in as a nation? Because the cuts
here are just too sloppily placed. There is nothing strategic about the
sequester. And that`s why you see so much pain and different communities
and different states. That`s why you see governor`s coming against it.
So, the challenges here are many and we need all hands on deck.
Republicans and Democrats and so forth to make this right.

SHARPTON: You know, Jared, when you look at me, we`re talking about
real people. Forget Republicans, Democrats, forget the beltway. Real
people are going to have to deal with this.

Let`s go out into America. Let`s go into the mainland America.
Cleveland, Ohio, the "Cleveland plain dealer" says spending cuts would be
felt here as a headline. Louisville courier journal, Kentucky and Indiana
would feel federal spending cuts from defense to parks. "New York
Newsday," that`s Long Island, $3 billion in Sandy aid at risk.

When the rubber meets the road, people are bracing for something that
is totally unnecessary and unthinkable. And on top of pain that they`re
already dealing with, I mean all politics is local. Won`t stories like
this in somehow, some way affect Republicans? Can`t they even hear their
own constituents at home?

BERNSTEIN: You know, very much hope so. It happens to be the case
that 80 percent of civilian military employees have been at the department
of defense are outside of Washington. So, when you are talking about
something like 800,000 furloughs there, you are talking about precisely the
cities across the country you just mentioned.

I mean, one idea that I hear a lot of is that as these cuts begin to
be felt by real people as we`re describing in our conversation, they will
get in touch with their members of Congress and Republicans will back down.

But remember, you used a very important word here. You said something
to the effect of an unnecessary manufactured crisis. Remember, this is not
the way governance is supposed to look, especially at a time when the
economy is already too weak. So instead of thinking about how can we help
things get better, they keep setting fiscal time on one after another.

And by the way, this is not the beginning of austerity. This is the
middle of austerity because we have already lost over $100 billion in
people`s paychecks through the expiration of the payroll tax break. This
$85 billion in fiscal contraction is on part of that.

SHARPTON: Dr. Peterson though, it is clear that the American people
don`t support these cuts in the areas they`re talking about. When you look
at the polls, 89 percent don`t want to cut education, 84 percent don`t want
to cut disaster relief, 83 percent don`t want to cut food or drug safety,
71 percent don`t want to cut aid to the poor. I mean, these are not even
close numbers. This is overwhelming majority of American people that don`t
want these cuts and these are the areas that will be cut starting Friday if
we don`t overt this.

PETERSON: That`s right. These cuts will take us to a 50-year lull in
terms of government discretionary spending. And I was saying earlier,
Rev., they are not strategic. So, they don`t even really address the areas
that have to be addressed in terms of the long term economic challenges.

So, for example, they`re going to work on all these sort of -- they`re
going to furlough the civilian military personnel. That is not the
military part of the budget that needs to be addressed. It is actually
defense contracts and other defense spending that needs to be addressed.

You know, they are talking about making the cuts in education and
teachers, police and fire in some states. Those are not the kind of cuts
that we need to be making in terms of infrastructure and social safety net.
We need to come up with something comprehensive around Medicare that is
progressive, but also looks to the long term. And so, it is not strategic
enough. That`s why we are feeling pain in all the different situations.
And at the end of the day, it`s another reflection of our hour government
is broken.

SHARPTON: No. It is like operating on the wrong part of the body.
It`s not even addressing where the ailment is.

Jared Bernstein and James Peterson, thank you both for your time

BERNSTEIN: Thank you, Rev.

PETERSON: Thanks, Rev. \

SHARPTON: Ahead, the sound of Republicans agreeing? Yes! Agreeing
with the president. That hot story is next.

And Rush says the left has beaten us. But you won`t believe what came
out next.

And dream, drum roll please, please, please run the drum roll. The
winner of the best drama goes to -- the right-wing! Why the newest attack
on Michelle Obama deserves an award for ignorance.

Big show coming. Stay with us.


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

Today, everyone was weighing on the automatic budget cuts and how it
will impact their communities.

Pat says it will affect my community greatly, municipal and county
workers and especially those on fixed income.

Donna says, the $240 million in the cuts to the office people with
developmental disabilities would seriously hurt services for families and
children with autism in Stockton Island, New York.

Joyce has a solution. I vote to furlough some members of congress.
Not a bad idea.

Want to find out what the impact of the cuts will be in your state?
We have the details on our facebook page. 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: Remember this picture? Arizona governor Jan Brewer
pointing her finger in President Obama`s face last year. She is no fan of
the president. She couldn`t wait to point that out. But with the
automatic budget cuts set to go into effect in just four days, Republican
and democratic governors gathered in Washington this weekend and they are
starting to freak out.

Republican governors like Jan Brewer are not pointing at the president
anymore. They are pointing their blame on the Republicans in Congress.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Is it a greater danger to deal with the
cuts or a greater danger for the economy for Republicans to give in on
raising taxes. Which do you want to see?

REP. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: We do not like taxes. We don`t like
increase in taxes. But, you know, we know we have to be pragmatic. We
know that there has to be some type of compromise. But dang it, they need
to get the job done. They don`t need to leave the public out there


SHARPTON: A tea party governor suggesting compromise on taxes? It`s
not just governor Brewer. Other Republican governors are telling their
colleagues in Congress it`s time to go back to the bargaining table.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The uncertainty is harming our states and our
national economy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The sequester was put in place to be a hammer, not
a policy. And now, here we are, just a week away. Find another way to do
it and get it done now.

BREWER: Arizona, too, you know, we got Raytheon which we don`t know
exactly what that`s can do. This is going to caused a lot job results
here. We have the federal government over there, in my opinion not doing
their job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There should be limited government, but, I don`t
like random changes. If you look at our budget, I didn`t do across the
board cuts. A lot of times politicians are 10 percent across. I didn`t do


SHARPTON: These governors know how these cuts will affect real people
in their states. They know jobs at risk. They know their food safety can
be compromised. They know these cuts will limit access to health care.
And if Jan Brewer and President Obama can start seeing high to eye, what`s
stopping Republicans on the hill from compromising?

Let`s bring in former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell.

Governor, even tea party governors can see these cuts are bad. Will
Republicans in Congress get the message?

very helpful. It was coincidental. The governors meet in Washington this
weekend every year. It was coincidental that it came as sequesters are
upon us. But, it was very helpful. I think to hear Republican governor to
say that message, hear January Brewer say that some form of revenue should
be part of a compromise.

And look, Rev., the question is, Mitch McConnell said there is no way
he`s going to do this. What I would like to ask each and every Republican
senator and the Republican house member, the Democratic proposals for
revenue is essentially making sure that everyone no matter what their
income pays 30 percent. Pays more than the average working person who pays
28 percent, the secretary, et cetera. What`s wrong with having - and
that`s only applies to people who make over a million dollars. But, how
many Americans do you thinks that is a bad idea that a millionaire pays, a
plus, and in many cases, a billionaire has to pay the same percentage of
taxes as a secretary or as a guy who builds roads?

Does anybody think that`s a bad idea? Well, if the Republicans were
smart, they would hid the message from the Jan Brewers and Scott Walkers
and say to themselves, look, that`s a pretty good compromise because no
middle class working people get hit by that. Let`s go with that. The
president is willing to, almost 2 1/2 times as many cuts. Let`s go ahead
and get this thing done.

SHARPTON: But isn`t that the point, governor? The point is that the
millionaires and the billionaires are not going to be hurt by this at all.
Even if you close the hoop holes, even if you change the percentage.

But ordinary people, I`m talking about that mother watching this show
tonight that has got to deal with the fact that come Friday head start`s
gone. I`m talking about teachers. I`m talking about people that have been
trying to make ends meet, that all of a sudden everything is going to snap
out of nothing that they did wrong, only because of some stubbornness and
political brinkmanship. Can`t the leaders of this country get it together?

RENDELL: Well, and let me add middle class parents who depend on the
government to help with their autistics, severely autistic kids.


RENDELL: I mean, it is absolutely stunning that we letting this
crisis. And it again, it is a manufactured crisis. We are letting this
crisis because of political posturing. We are letting this crisis
determine the fate of a lot of people. And you know, I know it`s
fashionable now, George Will wrote a column, that this really isn`t a
crisis. Well, tell the 750,000 people who are going to lose their jobs
according to the CBO, Rev. That`s not some liberal, you know, thinking --

SHARPTON: This is an independent body, the CBO, says 750,000 jobs.
If I`m sitting watching this TV right now and I`m one of those people that
are about to lose my job, if I`m one of those people about to be
furloughed, if I`m a mother or father of an autistic kid, it is a real
crisis to me. It may be manufactured to somebody on the beltway.

And then I`m reading, governor, Politico says that the Republicans
actually think it`s good for them politically to let the cuts kick in and
then they compromise. Let me read you what Politico says, very disturbing
to me.

Despite poll numbers, Republicans are convinced they are in the
driver`s seat just as they say the calendar and the law helped Obama on
taxes in December.

I mean we`re playing brinksmanship while people`s livelihood is at

RENDELL: And, you know, it`s stupid, to be honest, Rev. Because , in
three weeks or four weeks, March 27th, the government shuts down if we
can`t find a way to pass more dollars to keep it running. And so, there is
another crisis four weeks down the road.

And, look, in the end, and I would besieged president to, although
he`s certainly done better on this than the Republicans, let`s not kick the
can down the road. We have got -- if the sequester happens or if it
doesn`t happen, we have four weeks until the next crisis.

Let`s try to do the big deal, the deal that puts another $2.5 trillion
towards that debt. Let`s do the big deal. If we did it, Rev., the economy
in my judgment would explode. All that money that`s on the sidelines

SHARPTON: I agree with you. Don`t kick the can down the road. But
don`t kick the American people in the backside either.

Let me ask you something. You have been governor of Pennsylvania.
The governors met this weekend. And to my surprise and sure many others,
Republican governors and Democratic governors seem to say let`s compromise.

You are a governor. What can governors do? Can they appeal to the
Congress people in their state? I mean is there anything with four days
left those governors can do to help?

RENDELL: Sure. They got to deliver a pretty strong message to their
congressional delegations and say, look guys, if you don`t compromise on
this, we are going to call you out publicly. And it is one thing if you`re
Republican for the president of the United States to call you out. It`s
another thing for your Republican governor to call you out. And then, it
is, you know, Chris Matthews. It`s hard ball. So these governors have to
play hard ball.

But, by the way, the clips you ran at the beginning of this segment
were essentially calling them out. You had Jan Brewer sending a message to
the Arizona delegation, compromise. Let`s get this done.

SHARPTON: Right. And they should call them out. And you`re right,
play hard ball or "Politics Nation." You can come on here and call them
all out. But call them now. We need to stop this.

RENDELL: Absolutely.
SHARPTON: Governor Rendell, thank you for your time tonight.

RENDELL: Thanks, Rev. Let`s hope that it works.

SHARPTON: The ring wing is now attacking first lady Michelle Obama
for appearing at the Oscars. Talk about desperate. Give them an Oscar for
whining. I`ll tell what you it`s really about.

And make room. Willard and Sarah, you have new company at CPAC. Wait
until you see who is joining the cast of characters.

Stay with us.


SHARPTON: A lot us were wondering how freshman Texas senator Ted Cruz
would react to being compared to Senator Joe McCarthy. After all, McCarthy
is the most notorious figures in political history. A man who was
disgraced for falsely accusing government officials of being communist.

And last week we found out, Senator Cruz once said President Obama
would be a good president of Harvard law school because the school`s
faculty was filled with communists who want to overthrow the government.
So did Cruz hide from the story? Issue a denial? Maybe an apology? Nope!
His spokeswoman said quote "Senator Cruz`s substantive point was absolutely

Absolutely correct? Really? That President Obama would fit in with
Harvard`s communist that want to overthrow the government? This is ugly
stuff. But Cruz is still seeing red now that he`s in the Senate.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I think President Obama is the most radical
president we have ever seen. But I think at all fool lot of Republicans
failed to stand for principle and contributed to getting us in this mess.


SHARPTON: Radical? You know what is really radical? Making wild
accusations about the president`s nominee for defense secretary Chuck


CRUZ: It may be that he spoke at radical or extreme groups or anti-
Israel groups and accepted financial compensation, we don`t know. It is at
a minimum relevant to know if that $200,000 that he deposited in his bank
account came directly from Saudi Arabia, came directly from North Korea.
And I have no evidence to suggest that it is or isn`t.


SHARPTON: Cruz had no evidence to back any of that up. But he had no
problem throwing these accusations around anyway. Didn`t you think we
would notice? Nice try, comrade Cruz, but we got you.


SHARPTON: There`s something really fishy going on in Washington. And
Senator Rand Paul is determined to get to the bottom of it. It turns out
those big spenders in D.C. are just throwing away money on gold fish.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: If there`s a way that the money can be moved around
for example in the military, they have 5.2 million, they spent on gold
fish, studying gold fish to see how democratic they were and if we could
learn about democracy from gold fish.


SHARPTON: Learn about democracy from gold fish? I mean what`s he
even talking about? Turns out, he has no clue himself. A professor behind
the research says, quote, "Senator Paul got the funding wrong and the
species wrong and he misrepresents the work we`ve done." How`s that for
the new and improved GOP?

This guy`s been flooded as the party`s 2016 presidential candidate.
He`s a leading speaker at this year`s CPAC conference and he`s making up
stories about fish? Gold fish to be exact. Anyone see the problem here?
And yet, the right keeps continuing to blame the left for their trouble.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: It makes me ashamed that we have
sunk and descended to this level in our politics in order for the left to
have to -- or be able to advance. They require ignorance. The left has
beaten us. They have created far more low information, unaware, uneducated
people than we`ve been able to keep up with.


SHARPTON: You`re right about one thing, Rush, the Left`s beaten you.
But you and your party are the reason why.

Joining me now is Angela Rye and Dana Milbank, thank you both for
coming on the show tonight.



SHARPTON: Dana, a big time excuse from Rush. What does it say about
the state of the GOP?

MILBANK: Well, I don`t know, Reverend. I think that perhaps Rush
Limbaugh and Rand Paul and others should in fact be studying gold fish to
learn how to keep their mouths shut. Because they seem to dig themselves
in deeper and deeper here. There`s been a lot of blaming that`s going on
every now and then. You think they sort of come to grips with the election

And, no, no, no, they`re going to go on saying well, it`s about the
technology. Well, it`s because the voters were ignorant. Well, it`s
because the Democrats tricked them. Well, it`s, you know, there is
something about the way we reached out to them, the way the message was.
And they`re just not grasping that.

The electorate is fundamentally changed to an electorate that is
supporting gay marriage, to an electorate that is increasingly Latino, that
an electorate that is significantly comprised of women. So it`s a matter
of not understanding where the electorate has gone and pointing fingers at
everything else.

SHARPTON: Well, Angela, you know, I always say a fish wouldn`t get
caught if he kept his mouth shut. But you know, today we learn that the
roster for CPAC has now increased. We had Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Rand
Paul, Allen West, and Wayne Lapierre. Now, we have one, I`m sure we`ll
have you and Dana definitely wants to go here, the great orator, the
governor of Texas, Rick Perry is going to speak. What do you think,

RYE: Whoo! Just kidding. First and foremost, I think we really have
to talk about what is going on with the GOP. The GOP has, I think, a
three-fold problem. It`s the message. It`s the messengers and it`s the
audience, the audience is the American people who don`t care to hear about
what they`re talking about, whether it`s on CPAC, whether it`s on FOX or
somewhere else, other media outlet, the message isn`t resonating in part
because when you look at the changing demographics of this country, they
have got to at some point start talking about social issues because folks
vote holistically.

What is my candidate talking about that makes sense to me? How does
it impact me? And then at some point we have to address the humanity of
politics, compassion and concern for your neighbor. All of which for some
reason the Republican Party is so distant from, it just doesn`t make any
sense, Rev.

SHARPTON: But, you know, I think that -- and CPAC is the big
conservative, you know, conference. It`s their big main event every year.
Dana, let me ask you a serious question. Here`s a picture of Governor
Chris Christie of New Jersey seated next to Michelle Obama, the first lady
at the National Governor`s Association dinner last night.

Now let me ask you a question. I just announced that -- I just
reported Rick Perry is speaking at CPAC. Yet, the GOP has still not
seemingly got over Christie speaking well of the President and working with
him around hurricane relief because he has yet to be announced as a CPAC
speaker. How could someone with his high poll numbers, with his high
standing with republican polls not be invited to speak at CPAC?

MILBANK: Well, it`s a good question, Reverend. CPAC is a very
important event and I do like to go there every year and cover it. I`ll be
asking for combat pay from MSNBC and to do so again this year. And it`s an
interesting question. For years now it has been CPAC was essentially, the
voice of the Republican Party that had gone in this conservative direction.
Is that changing now? And are people like Chris Christie going to push
back against that?

Marco Rubio could be a person who could, clearly. He`s not expect to
see him there at CPAC. I wouldn`t be surprised if they close ranks with
the New Jersey governor as well. The question is are people in the party
going to start standing up to this or is it going to be, you know, CPAC is
quite literally dominated by the National Rifle Association and the other
special interests of the right.

SHARPTON: Now Angela, over the weekend, Governor Bobby Jindal of
Louisiana was on Meet the Press and he was pressed on social issues. You
mentioned several issues but he was pressed on social issues. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We`re offering in the Republican Party a different
solution which is about growth, not austerity. It`s not being the party of
big government, big Wall Street, big banks, I think that`s why we win the
argument, that`s why we win elections.

DAVID GREGORY, HOST, MEET THE PRESS: John Huntsman says that it`s
truly conservative to allow gay and lesbians to marry. Is that a change
you could support?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Look, I believe in the traditional definition of
marriage, let`s be clear what happened in this last election, we had
election that was dummied by economic issues, we didn`t present a vision
showing how we believe the entire economy can grow.


SHARPTON: You know, Angela, real quick, not amount of time but you
saw he ran away from dealing with the social issue and ran back to economic
issues. I mean, can the GOP deal with social issues and ever deal with the
fact that it was not economic issues alone that led to their losing last

RYE: Well, let`s just say this, Rev, if they don`t, they will have a
really difficult time winning future elections.

SHARPTON: Angela Rye and Dana Milbank, thanks for coming on the show

RYE: Thank you, Rev.

MILBANK: Thank you, Rev.

SHARPTON: Coming up, Michelle Obama, the Oscars and the right-wing
drama. But there`s a twist. Ronald Reagan`s part of this story. Oh, yes!
And revealing the republican plan, the scam, scheme and steal the election
is going on now and we won`t let it happen. Stay with us.


SHARPTON: As you know, First Lady Michelle Obama was a surprise guest
at the Oscars announcing the best picture nominees. But everyone is still
talking about that other appearance on late night with Jimmy Fallon. She
and Jimmy showed off some mom dancing.




SHARPTON: I can watch that over and over. First Lady is soaring in
popularity and the right knows it. So they`re getting desperate. That`s


SHARPTON: On a night of Oscar surprises, First Lady Michelle Obama
was the big surprise. Her surprise appearance was one of the highlights of
the evening.


ANNOUNCER: Michelle Obama.


MICHELLE OBAMA, U.S. FIRST LADY: This has been an exciting year for
movies and I want to congratulate all the nominees on their tremendous
work. They made us laugh. They made us weep and they made us grip our arm
rests just a little tighter. And the Oscar goes to -- "Argo"!


SHARPTON: What a way to end the night. But the right-wing went on
the attack before the after parties even started. Let`s bring in Karen
Finney and Joe Madison. Thank you both for being here.


SHARPTON: Karen, some people on the right-wing are losing their minds
over this appearance. I mean what`s they`re problem?

FINNEY: You know, I think it`s because they`re jealous. Because she
has got some moves and look at how good she looked in that dress! Come on.
In all seriousness, you know, every first lady and president, there have
been things that they`ve done that have been first, right? And so this is
a first to have a first lady announce a winner. But it`s not the first
time a first lady has appeared in -- in the Oscars. You know, Laura Bush -

SHARPTON: Well -- first lady in 1941, President Franklin D.
Roosevelt spoke to the Oscar audience by radio. In 1981, Ronald Reagan,
President Ronald Reagan taped a greetings for the show.

FINNEY: Right.

SHARPTON: These are the presidents themselves. And let me play you
this, Laura Bush appeared on an Oscar show segment answering the question,
what do the movies mean to you? Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Giant. All of his ambitions have been thwarted
except, of course that, big well that comes in.


SHARPTON: So you`ve had two presidents and a First Lady in the
Oscars. What were they angry about? She picked the winner?

FINNEY: Maybe so. And because the winner actually "Argo" had
something positive to say about federal government workers actually
effectively doing their job. I`m sure that totally incensed them to no
end, of course. But, I mean, look, we know this. This is an ongoing
narrative with President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama do not get the
same level of respect as previous presidents and first ladies.

SHARPTON: No question.

FINNEY: And we`ve seen it before.

SHARPTON: Joe, Rush Limbaugh really went over the top, though. Watch


LIMBAUGH: The optics, of course, are what matters. I thought of
1984. I thought that the Macintosh ad from the Super Bowl of 1984 where
exact type of scenario except Michelle Obama was actually the dear leader
of this obviously a totalitarian state. A lot of people think that this
was a giant propaganda effort by the White House to put Michelle up there
either to have an optic for low information voters who watched this event
last night set up the 2014 Olympics maybe some people even telling me that
this that was the opening salvo of a Michelle Obama for president.


SHARPTON: Now let me show you the ad he is referring to. Watch the
actual ad he`s referring to. So, this is what he compared Michelle Obama,
the First Lady, giving the award or announcing the award for best picture
to this ad. And this was a takeoff on 1984. I mean every time I think
Rush has gone as far as he can go, he does it again, Joe.

JOE MADISON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: You know, somewhere I read
Reverend Sharpton that envy and jealousy is the weapon of the mediocre.
And that`s about what is happened with Rush Limbaugh. He is become very
mediocre in his criticism. Number two, I know a little bit about award
shows having chaired the image awards and served on the committee this
year. First of all, you don`t invite yourself to be a presenter at an
awards show.


MADISON: And kudos to the producer that came up with this concept to
have the first lady step out of the governor`s dinner and present it. You
know -- and, you know, you guys are absolutely right. Karen is absolutely
right. I remember the criticism that Jacqueline Kennedy had after
following Mamie Eisenhower. Michelle Obama is not Nancy Reagan. She`s not
Jacqueline Kennedy.


MADISON: She has established a new standard for first ladies and
people on the right, you might as well get used to it. She`s cool. She`s
funny. She`s smart. She`s everything that we in our community, we`ve
always known Michelle Obamas. And maybe that`s part of the problem.

SHARPTON: She`s the First Lady, Karen.

FINNEY: That`s right. I was going to say, and don`t forget, she is
the first lady of the United States of America. And just as, you know,
when Laura Bush appeared on the Oscars, people had the opportunity to see
the First Lady of the United States of America, republican or democrat. I
mean, you know, part of what is so disgusting about the way the right has
really just completely attacked the President and First Lady is that they
forget that for some people it`s just cool that the First Lady popped out
at the end of the Oscars.

They don`t care what political party the person is from. I mean don`t
forget that the presidency is supposed to be about something bigger than
our partisanship.

SHARPTON: And they`re not running again. I mean they just were re-
elected. There is no election they`re playing to. It`s the First Lady at
the Oscars announcing best picture. A great thing, I think, for American

MADISON: And be careful because what they`re trying to do and I said
this the last time, this is about trying to rewrite their legacy.


MADISON: This is about trying to denounce them and that`s why we
have to do what we`re doing tonight, to make sure that there is a counter
to that foolishness.

SHARPTON: That`s right, brought it up.

FINNEY: It`s also about keep that anger and resentment toward the
Obamas alive, to motivate their base going into 2014. Don`t forget.

MADISON: Thank you. Don`t forget.

SHARPTON: Karen and Joe, I`ve got to go. Thank you for your time
tonight. Have a great evening.

MADISON: Thank you, Reverend.

FINNEY: Thanks.

SHARPTON: Ahead, if you can`t beat them, cheat them. The GOP plan
to steal the election is alive. We`re watching you, Governor Snyder.
That`s next.


SHARPTON: This week, the voting rights act faces a Supreme Court
challenge. But right now there`s a voting crisis unfolding. As we`ve
reported, one republican response to losing the election was to change the
rules for future elections. States with republican control legislatures
are pushing plans to redistribute electoral votes by Congressional
district. Not who got the most votes in the state.

So the 2012 election would go from this to this. It`s magic. Hello,
President Romney! The plan was exposed and we`ve seen the GOP back pedal
in some places. But the scam is alive elsewhere. The Michigan GOP is now
committed to pushing on with this electoral vote plan. Here`s the
republican house speaker.


discussion. So this is the time to have that conversation. When a
presidential election is not on going. Winner take all is not the original
plan. We need to ask ourselves. Why has it changed? We have to look at
the future to understand the past. But look at the future about what is
best for our voters.


SHARPTON: I`ll tell you what`s not best for your voters -- changing
the rules just so you can win. President Obama won Michigan by almost 10
percent. Taking all 16 electoral votes. But under the scam he would win
just seven. Governor Snyder refused to comment at the convention and in
Pennsylvania 13 republican senators just introduced a new plan to
redistribute electoral votes by Congressional district. This is stealing,
it`s cheating.

We won`t let it happen. We`ve come too far to turn back now. Just
because you started losing in the game, does not mean you can change the
rules just because you can`t win. We played the game by the rules that
were set. Now, either win or lose but don`t change the game. The American
people deserve better than that.

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


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