March 25, 2013
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Guests: Maria Teresa Kumar; Emanuel Cleaver; Patricia Murphy; Donna Edwards, Ryan Grim, Jamal Simmons, Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, James Peterson
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Thanks, Chris. And thanks to
you for tuning in.
Tonight`s lead, finishing the job. President Obama is back on U.S.
soil fresh from his well-received trip to the Middle East. And today, he
jumped right back into the fight for second-term agenda, demanding that
Congress take action on immigration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have seen some real
action in congress, bipartisan groups in both the house and the Senate,
working to tackle this challenge. I applaud them for that.
We are making progress but we`ve got to finish the job because this
issue is not new. Everyone pretty much knows what is broken. Everybody
knows how to fix it. We have all proposed solutions and we have got a lot
of white papers and studies. And we just got, at this point, have got to
work up the political courage to do what is required to be done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Political courage. The president was talking about
immigration and we are going to get into that a little later in the show.
But he also could have been talking about another big issue where we`re
seeing momentum. Gun control.
Today, we learned the president will hold a series of campaign-style
rallies, calling for tougher gun laws and New York mayor Michael Bloomberg
has announced a $12 million ad campaign challenging senators in 13 states
to listen to voters and support new gun control laws.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK CITY: Ninety percent of the
public wants something and their representatives vote against that.
Commonsense says they are going to have a price to pay for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Americans want gun reform but the right wing doesn`t get
it. They are still using their own play book. Believe it or not, the NRA
is actually placing automated phone calls to people in Newtown,
Connecticut, the town that was shattered by the shooting at Sandy Hook,
elementary, to calls like this one recorded in a nearby town shows just how
low the NRA would go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Despite an outcry of public opposition, antigun
legislators are aggressively pursuing numerous proposals that are designed
to disarm and punish law-abiding sportsmen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: These calls are offensive, insensitive and incredibly toned
depth. But, far too many Republican leaders fall in line with the NRA and
echo the gun lobby`s talking points.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s be very careful about quickly trampling on
the rights of people and scan them. Do you want to get something done?
Then don`t scare people. Don`t say were are going to keep the registry of
all these guns and let`s not make it so impractical.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop scaring people. You`re scaring people with
this Orwellian sense that black helicopters in the government if we
register guns are going to confiscate American`s guns. That kind of
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To all due respect, it`s not paranoia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And who is going to confiscate all the guns?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: You catch that? Karl Rove said it`s not paranoid to think
that black helicopters are going to swoop in and steal everybody`s guns.
This kind of rhetoric is out of touch and it`s behind the times.
Joining me now is Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, Democrat from Missouri
and Maria Teresa Kumar, MSNBC contributor.
Congressman, Aren`t we making progressive on gun safety despite all
the clueless and toned-dept attacks from the right?
REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D), MISSOURI: We are indeed. The American
public is a bit ahead of Congress. And I think you`re going to see,
because of the public pressure, more and more Congress members falling in
line to do the right thing. I was getting a headache listening to some of
these people talk about paranoia.
Look, congress, I think, for the first time during my lifetime, seems
to be moving toward putting some commonsense things together with regard to
some kind of gun legislation. Not to take anybody`s gun. Nobody is trying
to take anybody`s guns. I have family members who own guns and a couple of
them need to owned it because of where they live and things that are
happening in and around their own homes. But they are not jumping up and
hiding and listening at night for the black hawk helicopters. They
realized that we have had some horrific things happened in schools and the
legislatures are now listening.
SHARPTON: Now, when you look at the facts, Maria, Wayne Lapierre is
not looking at the same world. He is in fact, and Wayne Lapierre of the
NRA, he accuses mayor Bloomberg of trying to buy America when it comes to
gun reform. First, listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WAYNE LAPIERRE, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION:
He is going to find out this is a country of the people, by the people and
for the people. And he can`t spend enough of his $27 billion to try to
impose his will on the American public. He can`t buy America. He`s so
reckless in terms of his comments on this whole gun issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: But the NRA itself spent a ton of money trying to influence
politics on gun legislation. In 2012 alone, it shelled out $32 million in
political spending, Maria.
MARIA TERESA KUMAR, PRESIDENT, CEO, VOTO LATINO: Well, I mean, you
hit the nail on the head. I was listening to that sound bite. I`m like,
wait a second, is he against gun control?
No, in all seriousness, the NRA is one of the largest lobbyists in
Washington D.C. and they write hefty money to both Democratic and
Republican senators and congressional members. They definitely have their
can in the kitty. I think what the NRA needs to do though, NRA leadership
needs to do is listen to its membership. The membership, 74 percent of NRA
members actually believe in commonsense gun reform. They believe in
background checks. What`s happening right now is that there`s not an
alignment of what the membership wants and what the NRA is actually doing.
SHARPTON: Now, congressman, Mayor Bloomberg`s ad, since we brought
that up, his ad campaign will hit 13 states from Arizona to Pennsylvania
and he`ll encourage people to put pressure on their senator senators to
vote for gun reform. Here`s one of those ads.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For me, guns are for hunting and protecting my
family. I believe in the second amendment and I`ll fight to protect it.
But with rights come responsibilities. That`s why I support comprehensive
background checks, so criminals and the dangerously mentally ill can`t buy
guns. That protects my rights and my family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, that`s basically along the lines of what you were
saying, congressman. It`s not about the second amendment. It`s about
those things that are in excess and about clearly about the background
checks of those that are going to purchase guns.
CLEAVER: Yes. And I applaud the mayor for what he`s doing.
Look, mayor Bloomberg is not some left wing wacko liberal but he is a
man who understands that we need to move from where we are to a place where
we will be looked back on by historians as having looked at a problem
squarely in the face and then did something about it. If we don`t so this
now, I think our stories are going to look back at our generation and
question what was wrong with them. You mean, they don`t want to find out
if a person is mentally ill before they give them a chance to buy a gun?
SHARPTON: That is crazy. And if we can`t do it now, I don`t know
when we`d he do it, Maria, and I don`t agree with mayor Bloomberg on a lot
of local New York issues but he is right on this. and when you look at the
fact that his ads will talk at five red state Democrats, Kay Hagan of North
Carolina, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Prior of Arkansas, Joe Donnelly
of Indiana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. We are talking about not
even gun just at Republicans here with this time of the campaign.
KUMAR: Right. Because Mayor Bloomberg, what he understands is that
he has to make sure that he is targeting the Democrats that are also on the
fence. And by doing so and going directly to their districts, it`s
teaching the American people then that`s involves democracy building which
is it is not enough to go to the polls. You have to pick up the phone and
make sure that Congress knows that you are paying attention and that your
vote for them next time is going to reside on whether they are with you or
not with you for gun legislation.
And again, Bloomberg is doing exactly what the president is doing.
He`s taking it out of Washington. He is going to the American people and
making a case for it because again, over whelming the American people
believe that we need gun legislation. And for whatever reason in this
case, our members of Congress and our senators are not aligned and they
should be. Because like representative was saying, this is the moment in
time in our history where that if we don`t passed sensible gun legislation,
it`s going to hurt not just ourselves but our loved ones and our
generations to come.
SHARPTON: Congressman, I was on "Morning Joe" today on this station
with Dan Senor who is a former Bush White House advisor and a Romney
campaign adviser. And we were talking about the change in politics of gun
control for these red state Democrats. You`re a Democratic leader in the
congress. Look at this and give me your response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN SENOR, FORMER ADVISER, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN: They are under a the lot
of pressure to buck their own party in pursuit of keeping the democratic
SHARPTON: I would want senator Reid to be very careful on the
changing demographics in some of those states because we learned from last
year`s elections that a decade ago, two decades ago is no longer what some
of those states in terms of the electorate has become. And I think you
could galvanize your vote if you took some stands in some of those states.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CLEAVER: Look, the way the mayor`s doing this is the way he ought to
do it. I`m a Democrat. I want Democrats to be in a majority. But there
comes a time when politics must not supersede the efforts is right and
just. And everybody in this country, the majority of us in this country
believes that the direction we`re going in terms of universal background
checks is the right thing to do. And if some Democrats fall or stand in
the way, you know, so be it. I want to be in the majority. It`s not fun
in the minority. But I also would like to have a society where we`re not
scheduling almost some kind of tragedy every other month.
SHARPTON: No problem with that at all with me. I agree with you,
because the majority is a wonderful thing to have but if we cannot stand up
when babies are shot in Newtown and children are shot in the streets of
Chicago, over 500 last year, then what are we in the majority for if we`re
not standing up for the American people?
Congressman Emanuel Cleaver and Maria Teresa Kumar, thank you for your
KUMAR: Thank you, Reverend.
CLEAVER: Good to be with you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Ahead, the president strong pushes for his agenda. Even
some of the right are starting to see the light.
Plus, has President Obama really been disrespecting former President
Bush? Give me a break. I`m going to get to the bottom of this one.
Also, a major new headache for Congressman Michele Bachmann in an
ethics probe if it is in her future.
Big show tonight. You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.
SHARPTON: Have you joined the "Politics Nation" on facebook yet? We
hope you will. Today, folks were buzzing about the president`s push for
Laura says, it is time. Just do it.
Stanley says, this is one chapter that should have been closed a long
And Marcelino says, we have to embrace our brothers and sisters.
We got more on the president`s big second term agenda and the
priorities of that agenda coming up next. But first, we want you to weigh
in. Please head over to facebook and search "Politics Nation" and "like"
us to keep the conversation going long after it ends.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Our journey is not complete until we find a way to welcome the
striving, hopeful immigrants who still see American as land of opportunity,
until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the
law. We are made for this opportunity and we will seize it as long as we
seize it together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: President Obama is back in the country today returning his
focus to the progressive agenda he outlined in his second inaugural
address, on gun control, on immigration, on marriage equality, the
president and the country are gearing up for some big change in Washington.
Seven years ago, 63 percent of the country supported a pathway to
citizenship. This year, that number has jumped nine points. A critical
shift in public opinion and is not just immigration. Today people are
already ling up outside of the Supreme Court to show their support for
marriage equality. This week, the court will hear arguments challenging
the defense of marriage act and a ban on same-sex marriage. The court has
evolved on this issue dramatically. Seventeen years ago, only 27 percent
of Americans were in favor of same-sex marriage. Today, well over half the
court supports marriage equality.
Sometimes change is slow. Sometimes it`s hard to see. Sometimes it
gets lost in the daily battles out of Washington. But this is real. This
is what progress looks like. The president and the country are winning the
progressive argument and are moving the country forward.
Joining me now is congresswoman Donna Edwards, Democrat from Maryland,
and Patricia Murphy from Citizen Jane Politics.
Thanks for your time.
REP. DONNA EDWARDS (D), MARYLAND: Thank you.
PATRICIA MURPHY, EDITOR, CITIZEN JANE POLITICS: Thanks.
SHARPTON: Congresswoman, are some of the right finally acknowledging
big shifts on social issues?
EDWARDS: Well, I think that what the president has done is he`s
actually demonstrated what leadership is, and that is moving a country that
was kind of middle of the road on some of these issues and recognizing the
direction that we needed to go. And I think that the right has completely
misestimated or underestimated rather the fact that the American public is
moving in one direction and conservatives seem to be going in the opposite
SHARPTON: Now, when you listen, Patricia, to the president on
immigration and he talked today at a naturalization ceremony, watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Unless you are one of the first Americans, unless you are a
native American, you came from someplace else. That`s why we`ve always
defined ourselves as a nation of immigrants and we`ve always been better
off for it. Immigration makes us stronger. It keeps us vibrant, it keeps
us hungry, it keeps us prosperous. It is part of what makes this such a
dynamic country. If we want to keep attracting the best and the brightest
that the world has to offer, then we need to do a better job of welcoming
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, a majority of the Americans agree with them but can we
make this reform happen now?
MURPHY: Yes. I think this is the year that we`re going to see this
reform happen and I don`t really think it`s because Republicans have had an
evolution in their own thinking. I don`t think a lot of Republicans woke
up and said, I really feel very differently about immigration in this
country. I think they woke up after the election and said, wow, we just
lost by a lot.
I think they got out their calculators and said the Hispanic
community, the fastest growing community in the United States, they cannot
continue to lose that demographic by more than 50 points, that is how much
Barack Obama won that demographic by. They can`t lose national elections
like that anymore and expect to run the country. So, I think that there
are a lot of politics, I say. I do think some moderate Republicans seen an
opening to move forward on this, but I think the Republican party as a
whole has had really a death bed conversion and said, listen, we can work
on some other issues. We can pay attention to some other more social
issues, but this is an issue that they are going to let go forward because
they want to win elections and Democrats, to their credit, are taking that
opening and running with it.
SHARPTON: Now, congresswoman, the pro Obama group, organizing for
action, is joining the push for immigration reform. Their goal is to,
quote, count to any opposition by conservatives to the current legislative
effort with support from around the country." Now, this is the Obama
ground game working for the president`s second term agenda. Can they
succeed against the conservative opposition, in your opinion?
EDWARDS: Well, I think absolutely they can. And I think it`s
actually a welcome addition to obviously, the efforts that the president
puts out with the bully pulpit but adding this grassroots component across
every community across the United States to really bolster the president`s
agenda, I think, is what is going to take it over the top.
And I think, you know, what the president has learned and all of us
know is that you really can`t move these issues unless you move the
grassroots. And I think the combination of the president`s leadership and
the grassroots momentum provided by Obama for America is really going to
make the difference on guns. It`s going to make the difference on
immigration. It`s going to make the difference on the president turning
the tide on our commitment to jobs and the economy.
SHARPTON: Now Patricia, let me ask you on the gay marriage or same-
sex marriage question. Gary Bauer, a conservative, if there ever was one,
was asked on Sunday if the country`s support of same-sex marriage would
hurt the GOP. Watch this and his response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEW ANCHOR: Do you worry that this only puts the
Republican Party further out of touch with the mainstream of American
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I`m not worried about because the polls are
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The polls are skewed? I mean, that`s the answer every time
the polls go against them, that they are skewed?
MURPHY: Well, listen, that was the refrain that we heard going into
election, that any poll that showed Democrats winning the national
election, those polls were skewed, the polls after were skewed. It`s not a
question of polling. It`s a question of progress and it`s a question of
how younger Americans feel about this issue versus older Americans and
we`re starting to hear Republicans, other than Gary Bauer, use different
language around this issue. And that is why we know Republicans are
changing. They are no longer saying, gay marriage is wrong. They are
saying can`t we agree that good people can disagree on this issue? It`s a
much softer rhetoric on this. And that is because even younger Republicans
and conservatives more than doubled their number versus ten years ago on
So, it`s a significant see change and it`s really generational. This
change will happen. It may not happen overnight. It may not happen
immediately after the Supreme Court makes its decision, which ever it is.
But this will change and Republicans will follow the country once they get
SHARPTON: Congresswoman, one of those Republicans that has changed is
senator Rob Portman. His son wrote in an op-ed today about how he came out
to his parents in a letter he said quote "that was the beginning of the end
of feeling ashamed about who I was." These stories, I think, humanized the
struggle for equal rights. How can the GOP still be opposed to same-sex
marriage when it read stories like this and for son finding his peace for
themselves when he came out to his parents. And ultimately now his father,
a U.S. senator, coming out in support of same-sex marriage.
EDWARDS: Well, you know, it`s not just sort of one family or another.
And I think that this was really important story for the Republican Party.
But the fact is, that all across this court, if you`re under age 65, you
have already had a change on this issue. So, really it is just a matter of
time and Republicans can decide that they want to be where public sentiment
is or they want to be someplace else. And I think on this issue and a
number of other issues, the public is well beyond where the Republican
So they can remain isolated, fractured, conservative group if they
want to, but it`s simply not where the American people are. And you can
say on gay marriage, on marriage equality, but it`s across the board on so
many social issues and really it`s having a tremendous impact on the
electorate and I look at people like my son`s age, under age 30 and this
isn`t even a question for them. And so this is where the American public
is and Republicans can either decide if they want to catch up or not.
SHARPTON: Congresswoman Donna Edwards and Patricia Murphy, thanks to
both you for your time.
EDWARDS: Thank you.
MURPHY: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Still ahead, a report from the GOP fantasy island tea party
darling Ted Cruz says they are quote "winning the argument." Wow, I hate
to see what losing looks like.
Plus, why the GOP can`t come to bricks with the real legacy of the
Stay with us.
SHARPTON: Some developing news about Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.
Federal investigators are looking into potential campaign finance
violations dating back to the presidential bid. It is a new headache for
the one-time tea party superstar.
That`s coming up.
SHARPTON: It`s been a busy couple of months for freshman Senator Ted
Cruz. He`s voted no on everything from hurricane relief to raising the
debt ceiling. He`s drawn comparisons to Joe McCarthy. John McCain even
called him a wacko bird. But Cruz says, things are just going great. This
weekend, he told the Dallas Morning News, quote, "If you look at the vote
on sequester, the filibuster on drone strikes and the vote on defunding
Obamacare, Republicans have stood together for principle. And in doing so,
I believe we are winning the argument."
Winning the argument? With the losing vote to attack Healthcare?
With that kind of fuzzy logic, it`s no wonder that Americans are running
away from the party. New number show only 27 percent of Americans can
identify as Republicans. That`s the lowest since the beginning of 2010.
And only 33 percent have a favorable view of the GOP. But Senator Cruz
thinks Republicans are winning the argument? Yikes. Maybe the effort to
reboot the party is just a lost cause.
Joining me now, Ryan Grim and Jamal Simmons. Ryan, do Tea Party
Republicans really think they are winning the argument here or are they
just avoiding reality as long as possible?
RYAN GRIM, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Well, a lot of Tea Party Republicans
don`t think that the other side has an even remotely legitimate argument to
bring to the table. So they think they are practically winning it by
default. You know, a lot of them almost wonder what it is that these
Democrats are even doing, saying that in the House of Representatives, for
instance, when you know, the nation has elected Republicans to run the
house for the last two years yet here are these Democrats who are still
here and still trying to have input on some of these bills.
GRIM: You know, as far as they are concerned, you know, Obamacare is
the least popular thing that`s ever been foisted on the American people.
And they don`t understand why it hasn`t been repealed yet and it continuous
to be implemented. So, when they see votes like this, you know, then yes,
I guess it kind of reinforces that world view that they are already
SHARPTON: Jamal, democratic strategist Paul Begala writes today in
"The Daily Beast" that since the RNC released its autopsy or its assessment
of the last election, we`ve seen Jurassic Republicans. Quote, "The far
right howled when the autopsy was released. Did you really think people
who deny evolution are going to adapt? Jamal, will the GOP resisted to
change pushed them into extinction?
JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You know, they will, Rev. You
know, you don`t have this problem anymore but sometimes I notice, I think,
oh, sometimes wrong. My shirts are getting a little tight. You know, it`s
not my shirt collar, my neck is getting a little fat. You know, sometimes
you got to change your behavior and make a decision that you`re going to do
things differently and what the Republicans have to decide is, do they want
to be a Congressional party that`s going to appeal to the gerrymander
districts that they created or they do want to get in bed with the 1.4
million Americans, more Americans who voted for Democrats in the
And if you had had a national electorate that was divided up somewhat
reasonably, you probably would have had a democratic house. So, do you
want to get in bed with those people with the five million people who voted
for Barack Obama or do you want to stay in the same kind of small, narrow,
shrinking older white kind of demographic that you`ve been kind stuck or do
you want to get out there and talk to the rest of America, younger people,
African-Americans, Latinos, all the other people who actually think that we
want to get everybody into the American benefit structure and they want to
share all the problems that America has with more people and not have
everything on the back of working class people.
SHARPTON: Now, speaking of that autopsy, Ryan, the man behind it, RNC
Chair Reince Priebus, he says that Mike Huckabee should be the model on
social issues. Quote, "I always tell people, listen to Governor Mike
Huckabee. I don`t know anyone that talks about them any better," talking
about social issues. Well, Huckabee`s the model? Let`s listen to some of
the things this model republican has said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: If we change the definition to accommodate a man
and a man or a woman and a woman, then why can`t we accommodate a man and
two women or a woman and three men?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We asked why there`s violence in our schools, but
have systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be surprised
that school has become a place of carnage?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I know a good man with a Christian heart who`s
withstood a test of fire and emerged from the flame and strong as steel,
the courage to lead, that`s Todd Akin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: So the man who said Todd legitimate rape Akin had the
courage to lead, he`s now the GOP`s leader on social issues, Ryan?
GRIM: Well, yes. I mean, there`s two problems with this. I mean,
OK, sure, Huckabee is, you know, is an extremely kind of, you know, he`s a
backslapping, friendly, very smooth spoken kind of guy. But yes, his views
on these issues are extremely hard line and they are going to drive the
Republican Party that much further out of the mainstream if they follow
him. But maybe that`s not exactly what Priebus means.
Maybe just being nice, you know, smooth talking, articulate guy. But
you can`t just tell budding politicians to do that. You know, you either
have those skills or you don`t. So what people are going to take from it
is that the views that Huckabee holds, those are OK ones for a mainstream
republican to hold and they`re going to keep pushing for it and they`re not
going to do it as eloquently as Huckabee does and it`s just going to keep
driving them further and further into irrelevance.
SHARPTON: Well, given an example of that, Jamal, Republicans in North
Dakota just passed a personhood amendment. You know, that would ban all
SHARPTON: A republican state lawmaker speaking out against it and
said, quote, "Like many of my Republicans colleagues, I personally have
pro-life but I vote pro-choice because decisions about pregnancy are
complex and personal." My home state is poised to win the state by state
race to the bottom on women`s health. That`s my fellow Republicans have
paved the way for this distinction is such a disappointment. Every
republican lawmaker says they are going too far on anti-legislation,
shouldn`t that be a signal to back off, Jamal?
SIMMONS: Absolutely it should be a signal. And again, this gets back
to changing what the actual policies are, the Republican Parties. I
remember when Bill Clinton run for president in 1992, the Democrats faced a
very similar choice, where they`re going to be Congressional party, all of
the strength of the Congressional Party forever or they also going to try
to compete for Senate races and for governor races and the presidency.
And for governor`s races and for the presidency, and they actually had
to come up with different policy positions that appealed to the mainstream
of American life so that we could get the things that Liberals and
progressives actually wanted to see happen in America also. And the
Republicans face a very similar moment, they have to figure out what they
want to do.
SHARPTON: Ryan Grim and Jamal Simmons, thank you both for your time
GRIM: Good to be here.
SIMMONS: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Still ahead, Jeb Bush`s jaw-dropping comment about
President Obama and his brother. Apparently some Republicans are still
trying to rewrite history.
Plus, news tonight about Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and some tough
questions investigators want to ask. That`s next.
SHARPTON: Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is making headlines for all
the wrong reasons. First, it was a speech about President Obama that fact
checkers say it was riddled with falsehoods and distortions. Then, it was
this video, Bachmann running away from a TV reporter trying to ask her
questions about that speech. And now new questions about possible campaign
finance violations, dating back to the GOP`s presidential primary. The
Daily Beast reports federal investigators are interviewing former staffers
about alleged misuse of campaign funds.
The Daily Beast says, the probe is focused on accusations of improper
money transfers and under the table payments by the campaign. Bachmann`s
lawyer released a statement saying, quote, "There are no allegations that
the congresswoman has engaged in any wrongdoing. We`re confident that at
the end of their review the ethics board will conclude that Congresswoman
Bachmann did not do anything inappropriate."
Now Congresswoman Bachmann deserves the benefit of the doubt. Just
like democratic lawmakers facing similar investigations. But I guess that
a video of her running is not the last thing she`s concerned about.
SHARPTON: I don`t spend a lot of time thinking about former President
Bush but his brother Jeb just said something that I couldn`t believe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FMR. GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: He is like the most focused,
disciplined guy, to imagine being a former president and not having an
opinion on anything over the last four years? Really? I mean, to have
that discipline, to be respectful of the President that hasn`t been as
respectful of him as he should have been? Man, I could have never done
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Really? President Obama hasn`t been respectful of former
President Bush. Jeb is sticking up for his brother because that`s what
brothers do. But I`ve never seen any evidence of what he`s talking about.
I mean, we should always respect the office of the presidency. But tell
the truth when it comes to any president`s record. So, should we respect
an unnecessary war that cause thousands of lives and hundreds of billions
of dollars? Should we respect the dismal economic record that sank us into
recession and exploded our national debt? This isn`t just a Bush family
affair. It`s a national tragedy. And Republicans still can`t deal with
the real Bush legacy.
Joining me now, Victoria DeFrancesco Soto and James Peterson. Thank
you both for being here.
VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO SOTO, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Rev.
JAMES PETERSON, LEHIGH UNIVERSITY: Thanks, Rev.
SHARPTON: Victoria? Why can`t Republicans admit the truth about the
SOTO: Well, first off, Jeb`s comments, there is nothing extraordinary
about George W. Bush commenting on President Obama. There`s this informal
rule that once you leave office, you really don`t comment on the previous
office. Clinton, a couple of years ago said that he doesn`t comment unless
he`s explicitly asked about that, and his comments looking at the restraint
of George W. Bush, and then you couple those with this new focus of George
W. Bush being this very humble and easygoing guy who enjoys painting.
You know, I see a different emphasis behind that. I don`t see it -- I
see a softer, fuzzier George W. Bush which coincidentally works to Jeb
Bush`s favor because he has presidential aspirations. And he wants to get
away from that Bush legacy you`re talking about, Reverend. He wants to put
as much distance as he can between those wars, the economic recession,
worst we`ve seen since the depression, and his potential run for office in
SHARPTON: But Dr. Peterson, the facts are what the facts are, trying
to change to a fuzzier image is, you know, all right, fine, but look at the
Bush record, the national debt jumped $4.9 trillion, with a T. The number
of Americans living in poverty went up by eight points, two million, the
private sector lost 646,000 jobs and the medium incomes of the people in
this country dropped 4.2 percent, I don`t care how you covered it, this is
the Bush record.
PETERSON: Yes, the Bush legacy has you just sort of discussed here,
Rev, speaks for itself. I mean, what we`re seeing in this former President
Bush, they want to say he`s more warm and fuzzy but essentially, this is
Bush without Karl Rove and without Vice President Dick Cheney. And so,
there are members of his administration that made that administration much
more hawkish and we`re willing to sort of trade on the lives of the
Americans and the social safety net to prosecute certain wars and to run
up the national debt in order to do so.
So, I think that legacy speaks for itself. What Jeb Bush has to do
here is a very sort of tricky thing Rev., because he can`t disrespect his
brother right on the one hand and so that means he has to sort of somehow
provide cover for that legacy. On the other hand, he really is trying to
make a go for it for 2016, so he has to distinguish himself from his
brother even if he has to work to not disrespect him.
SHARPTON: And he`s got to try, as you`re saying, Victoria, he`s got
to try to change the image of the Bush name. But then you have the war in
Iraq. So far it caused $1.7 trillion taxpayer dollars, nearly 4500
Americans were killed in the war and more than 32,000 Americans were
wounded, many Iraqis killed, billions of waste of dollars, thousands of
lives lost, others permanently disfigured, is there anything we should
respect about that?
SOTO: And there isn`t and it will just keep on continuing, the
travesty of it all isn`t just the wars in and of itself and the money we`ve
spent but how we`re failing our veterans. Our veterans` administration is
ill-equipped and understaffed. We have 1.6 million veterans from the
Afghan and Iraq war and that`s not even counting veterans from Vietnam and
Korea and other wars. And we know that there`s about a nine month waiting
period, for veterans to get their claims process. Veterans are suffering
from PTSD, the rate about 25 percent and they`re also suffering the
economic travesty of being about two percent more likely to be unemployed.
You put that all together, even though we`re putting the wars to an end,
we`re going to have this legacy of the veterans, not having the service of
-- decades to come.
SHARPTON: You know, Dr. Peterson, how can the Republicans change and
convince the American public they`ve changed if they can`t even come to
terms with and admit the legacy of George Bush?
PETERSON: Well, Rev, I think and I will add it`s a victorious piece
there really quickly that 18 suicides per day for veterans that are here
back home to the United States. But I think to be honest with you,
political strategist will advice that Jeb Bush is going to be much better
as a cheer leader than he will be as a national candidate. Obviously, the
Bush family name still has deep pockets itself but also access to deep
pockets and obviously they have the respect from having two presidencies
but the Bush brand, even for this Republican Party, is not in sync in terms
Artists in not in sync in terms of how they approached spending, so I
don`t know how you rectify Jeb Bush presidency with where this sort of Tea
Party-controlled Republican Party is at this particular moment. They have
a much greater affinity for people like Cruz, people like Ryan, even though
that made seem outlandish to many of us who are more politically sensible,
the Republican Party right now has aligned itself with those kinds of
focus. So, I don`t even see where Jeb Bush necessarily fits into the
political future for this Republican Party.
SHARPTON: Well, talking about Jeb Bush, let`s go back to Jeb Bush a
minute, Victoria. He talked about how his brother was more focused on art.
Now, here is Jeb`s talking about this. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: He`s actually become a pretty good painter.
BUSH: Well, I have to admit that this was a surprise to me when I
found this out about a year ago and he`s doing it with a vengeance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, you know, it struck me when I heard him say this about
former presidents. Former President Clinton founded the Clinton Global
Initiative. Jimmy Carter got involved in habitat for humanity. All the
former presidents, including his father, got involved in raising money for
Haiti. He`s going into painting? Little difference in your post-
presidential interests in life, wouldn`t you say, Victoria? I mean,
nothing wrong with painting but most former presidents seem to have some
broader, more global, more humanitarian interests.
SOTO: You`re absolutely right, Reverend. But what I`m detecting here
is laying low. Let`s not forget that when President George W. Bush left
office, he left office with a 36 percent approval rating. A couple months
before that, he was at 25 percent approval rating. So he`s just laying
low, either for his own good that he wanted to get out of the public eye or
his brother might even be asking him to keep out of the public eye. So,
this new emphasis on painting, you know, good for him, paint on. But let`s
go beyond that, as you said, let`s try to remedy what you did in the decade
SHARPTON: But behind every dark cloud, there is a silver lining
because Bunny Flad (ph), he`s our teacher says, he started painting --
started off painting dogs and he`s painted 50 dogs and he pulls out the
canvas and he starts painting this dog and he says, oh, my God, I don`t
paint dogs. Forty three. I mean, he has such a passion for painting, it`s
amazing. He`s going to go down in the history books as a great artist.
Well, maybe he`ll go down as a great something. Victoria Soto and James
Peterson, thank you for your time tonight.
PETERSON: Thanks, Rev.
SHARPTON: Today, a major tribute for hero who saved lives that led
people to freedom. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: Today, President Obama made a powerful statement about our
nation`s past. Designating that Harriet Tubman underground railroad
national monument in Maryland. It`s just a short distant from where the
government marks Tubman`s birthplace. Tubman was born into slavery but
fled to freedom in 1849. Soon after she joined the underground railroad.
A secret network that helped guide runaway slaves to freedom. Tubman
risked her life her liberty repeatedly by going back into the south.
With today`s announcement, this stop on the underground railroad is
now protected by law. So generations of Americans can remember those
struggles and those sacrifices. We need to remember the past, so we can
address the problems of the president and for the stronger future.
Today we learned the Supreme Court is taken up the second challenge in
this term to affirmative action. A program put in place to help correct
the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. This comes just weeks after the
justices debated the voting rights act. A law designated to protect
minority rights in some places with an ugly history. Today we also learned
that a democratic governor in Arkansas had to veto republican voter ID bill
to become a state law. These are serious cases and serious issues. Issues
born from our past. The great southern writer William Faulkner once wrote,
"The past is never dead. It`s not even past."
On the day when we honor the legacy of Harriet Tubman, we must not
forget the struggles that continue today. And we must muster courage,
imagine the courage it took for Tubman to keep going back in the south,
possibly being captured or killed. We don`t need that much courage, just
some of that courage. We`ll face the deals that are trying to be cut to
turn the clock back on progress in America. We all need to have a little
Tubman in us.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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