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PoliticsNation, Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

Read the transcript from the Tuesday show

November 5, 2013
Guest: Ed Rendell; Jess McIntosh; Goldie Taylor; Nia-Malika Henderson,
Eric Dyson, Dana Milbank, Hill Harper

Election Night 2013. I`m Al Sharpton and for the next hour we`ll be
covering this big night in American politics.

Across the country, tonight voters are going to the poll as they have
been doing all day. More than 300 (inaudible) elections on races are at
stake, and one in 200 legislative offices. And there are several big state
referendums as well. But the biggest matchups are the governor`s races in
Virginia and New Jersey.

In Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe leads in the polls against
Republican Ken Cuccinelli. In New Jersey, GOP governor Chris Christie is
hoping for a big win by avoiding the tea party, even embracing President
Obama and working with a Democrat.

Here in New York City, Bill De Blasio is heavily faith to become the
most progressive mayor in decades. But the main event will be in the key
bellwether state of Virginia. It is where tea partiers like Ken Cuccinelli
became a tea party star with comments like this.


which is to make abortion disappear in America.

Homosexual acts are wrong and should not be accommodated in government

Someone`s going to have to come forward with nailed down testimony
that he was born in place "b," wherever that is. You know, the
speculation`s Kenya. And that doesn`t seem beyond the realm of


SHARPTON: Birther jokes and attacks on women and gays. That`s not a
winning message in the year of 2013. Cuccinelli also led a charge to shut
down women`s health centers and refused to say whether he supports equal
pay measures. And a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor is just
as extreme.


Parenthood has been far more lethal to black lives than the KKK ever was.
And the Democrat party and their black civil rights allies are partners in
this genocide.


SHARPTON: That`s what`s on the ballot in Virginia. The state that
becomes critical in national politics. And some brand new NBC exit polls
show what voters there are thinking.

The NBC News exit polls ask voters how they feel about the tea party
movement. In Virginia, 43 percent say they oppose the tea party. Just 30
percent say they support it. We`re seeing even worse numbers in New
Jersey, 47 percent say they oppose the tea party. Just 19 percent support.

That`s what Americans are saying tonight about the right wing of the
GOP. And that`s why the right wing is playing dirty. Here`s a robo-call
that some Virginia voters have been hearing over the last couple of days.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ken Cuccinelli is a devout catholic and family
man who supports a culture of life. Terry McAuliffe supports abortion on
demand at any time for any reason paid for by Virginia taxpayers.


SHARPTON: Abortion on demand? It`s not true, and it`s a sign of just
how desperate and out of touch the right wing has become.

Joining me are former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell and Jess
McIntosh from Emily`s List.

Thank you both for being here.

JESS MCINTOSH, EMILY`S LIST: Thanks for having me.


SHARPTON: Jess, how important has the abortion issue been in the
Virginia race?

MCINTOSH: Look, I think women`s issues, women voters have been
absolutely critical in Virginia. Because they have a candidate who is
literally the human embodiment of the Republican war on women. We saw in
2012 historic gender gaps. More women turned out for Democrats than ever
before in history. And it was because they were rejecting a buffet of
terrible policies that roll back the clocks on women`s rights and
opportunities. And Ken Cuccinelli has selected every single item on that
menu. And that`s why we are going to see even more women turning out

SHARPTON: You know, Governor Rendell, it`s been a major problem with
the GOP, the gender gap. In 2012 the president bested Mitt Romney among
women by 12 points, 55-43. And today in Virginia the gap is twice that.
Cuccinelli trails by 24 points among women, 58-38. When will they learn,

RENDELL: Well, it`s amazing. You would have thought 2012 would have
taught them a lesson. But they went right out and legislatures across the
country and started passing personhood amendments and things that were
really repugnant to ordinary women.

And what Cuccinelli has done is he`s made those issues the center of
his campaign. If you juxtapose him to Governor Christie, Governor Christie
is pro-life, fairly solemnly pro-life. But Governor Christie does not make
that a talking point in his election campaign. There`s a big difference.
The difference is on emphasis. And they haven`t learned that this may be a
winning strategy for primaries, but it is a losing, losing strategy for
general elections.

MCINTOSH: You know, the governor said something really important
which is if Republicans could learn their lesson they would have. If
Republicans had read 2012, we never would have had Ken Cuccinelli as a
candidate right now. But they went out and picked the exact worst person
to represent them in the state of Virginia.

And we`re seeing in 2014 the lineups in Georgia, the lineups in North
Carolina, these guys make Todd Akin look moderate. So I would love to
think that Republicans were going to wake up and start trying to appeal to
women, but it doesn`t honestly seem they`ve learned lessons at all.

SHARPTON: Well, you see, Jess, when you look at the record, I mean
terrible record of Ken Cuccinelli, I agree with you that it probably was
the worst candidate they could come with. He was the attorney general for
governor ultrasound Bob McDonnell. He withheld support from the violence
against women act. He opposed abortions even in cases of rape and incest.
And he wrote legislation to defund Planned Parenthood. You couldn`t have
gotten a worse candidate for women after 2012. I don`t know what they were
looking at in terms of the results, governor.

RENDELL: No, I absolutely agree with you. It`s astonishing. It`s
just as astonishing when they talk about we need better average in the
black community and in the African-American community. And then they adopt
policies or say things that are inept to Latino voters and are inept with
African-American voters.

It`s not the outreach. It`s not the messenger. It is the substance
of what you believe. And it`s the things you say and they haven`t learned
one wit. And notwithstanding the fact there are obviously some problems on
the Democratic side, they`re headed towards, I think, a disaster in `14 and
worse from their standpoint, a losing ticket in `16 because they haven`t

And the interesting thing, Rev., is that there are Republican examples
out there, not just Chris Christie. But the Midwest governors, Kasich and
Snyder and even Walker, who, you know, do not emphasize their positions on
the social issues. Do not actively go out and wage war against women.

MCINTOSH: That`s so true.

RENDELL: They stand a good chance of getting re-elected.

SHARPTON: You know, Jess, what is an interesting fact is even in a
state where Republican governor Chris Christie is winning, New Jersey
voters still have an unfavorable opinion of the GOP. Thirty-nine percent
have a favorable opinion of the GOP, 57 percent have an unfavorable view.

So really, Christie`s doing well by distancing himself from the party.

MCINTOSH: Well, the thing is Christie`s got the same -- I mean, we
know how to beat Christie in 2016 because we are watching the playbook in
Virginia tonight. Christie is cut from the same mold as Ken Cuccinelli.
And as soon as we start talking about the actual direction wants to take
this country, women -- and the issues you mentioned, those are just turn
off just Democratic women. Those turn off independent women, Republican
women. Emily`s list looks to a lot of research into women`s voters. And
it turns out that women on neither side of the aisle want to be

So, if Chris Christie starts talking about the policies that he
believes in and the agenda that he wants to take, women are going to flock
to the Democratic side as soon as they start hearing that.

SHARPTON: No. Isn`t that the case, Governor, because it`s a big win
tonight for Christie but isn`t it the case that 2014, 2016 that people have
said things that have core values that transcend their party differences.

And as you mentioned if you`re women, if you`re gay, if you`re an
immigrant, if you`re African-American, there are some things that has
nothing to do with party labels. It has everything to do with the policies
and values you believe in.

RENDELL: Right. And I think made a terrific point. I think Chris
Christie is not only or his basic core values are very conservative,
extremely conservative, but he`s making the same mistake Mitt Romney made.
He`s trying to go further to the right. He`s changed his position on a
couple of key issues to go further to the right to appease Republican
primary voters. And then if he does that, if he continues to go in that
direction, it`s going to be impossible for him to get back and do well in
the center in a general election.

So we`re seeing this as no one`s learning. No one is learning. Chris
Christie says I`m my own man, and yet you can see him creeping to the right
and changing his position to appeal to Republican primary voters. Well,
that`s not being your own man and it won`t wash in a general.

SHARPTON: What races are you particularly watching tonight, Governor?

RENDELL: Well, interestingly, the one that I`m most interested in is
the Colorado referendum on education. Where voters are going to be asked
to pay more taxes to fund education. And voters in Colorado, the polls
show, care very much about funding for education, but there`s been a
withering campaign on the other side. That`s an issue that talks to me
about the central question of what type of America are we going to have?

SHARPTON: What are you going to be watching tonight, Jess?

MCINTOSH: Mayors. Mayors. We have amazing Democratic women running
all over the country. We have Betsy Hodges in Minneapolis, (INAUDIBLE),
Parker in Houston. We need more Democratic women in these executive
leadership seats. And I think we might get a few tonight.

SHARPTON: I`m going to have to hold it there.

Jess, next time why don`t you be a little specific.

Jess McIntosh and Governor Rendell, thank you both for your time

It`s a big election night here on MSNBC. Coming up, the chairman of
the Republican national committee is blaming President Obama for creating
a, quote, "culture of hatred." Yes, you heard that right.

Plus, Rand Paul`s plagiarism problem just got worse. Now he`s asking
people to, quote, "leave him the hell alone," end quote.

And the coded language of the confederacy is back on the big
Republican stage. We`ll look at the ugly trend.

And friend or foe, I want to know. "Reply Al" is ahead.


SHARPTON: That music means it`s an election night, and MSNBC will be
covering it all.

Right now, we`re watching the polls in New Jersey and Virginia. And
here are some other races to watch. New York City will elect a new mayor.
Bill de Blasio would be the first Democratic mayor since 1989.

Detroit will also get a new mayor. The city might see its first white
mayor since 1974.

In Boston they`ll elect a new mayor for the first time in 20 years.

In the Seattle suburb of SEATAC, there`s a battle to raise minimum
wage for airline and restaurant workers to $15 an hour.

And in northern Colorado, 11 counties are voting right now on whether
to secede from the state and form their own.

Want to know more about these election night stories? Please head
over to facebook and search "Politics Nation" and like us to join the
conversation that keeps going aft the show ends.


SHARPTON: Welcome back to election night on "Politics Nation."

The polls in Virginia close in less than 45 minutes. One election
night a year ago, it was Mitt Romney who was coming. President Obama ran
away with the 2012 election. The Republican Party knew it had to change,
and the Republican national committee chair Reince Priebus focused on
avoiding extreme rhetoric.


around and say a lot of biologically stupid things and you poisoned the
well, and you create a caricature or you allow a caricature to become
reality, I think it hurts your ability to win an election.


SHARPTON: OK, great. Very good point. So to sum it up, what was the
problem in 2012?

PRIEBUS: A lot of idiotic things said.


SHARPTON: Yes. A lot of idiotic things said. But what`s Priebus
saying now?


PRIEBUS: It`s the culture that the president`s cultivated here. I
mean, a culture of dishonesty, a culture of hatred.


SHARPTON: Is he kidding? President Obama has cultivated a culture of
hatred? He was blaming the president because two Democrats compared tea
partiers to members of the Ku Klux Klan. Let`s be clear, those comparisons
are inappropriate. But to accuse President Obama of cultivating account of
hatred when he`s faced complete and total obstruction from the Republican
Party since his first day in office. With those on the right regularly
accuse him of being a Kenyan born socialist dictator.

Let`s look at the culture in the GOP. Virginia`s Republican
gubernatorial candidate opposes abortion even in the case of rape and
incest. He once said gay people are destroying their souls. Then there`s
Dean Young, a Republican congressman -- congressional candidate rather in
Alabama. He thinks President Obama was born in Kenya. And once said that
gays should leave Alabama and quote "go back to California or Vermont or
wherever they came from."

But what about Ted Cruz who once called President Obama the most
radical president ever? He gets his political philosophy from his father,
Rafael, who recently caught on camera saying this.


RAFAEL CRUZ, SEN. TED CRUZ`S FATHER: When you hear all these things
about homosexual marriage, this has nothing to do with homosexual rights.
Did you know that? The whole objective is the destruction of the
traditional family. Has nothing to do with homosexuals. They could care
less about homosexuals. They want to destroy the family.


SHARPTON: If Priebus is worried about the culture of hatred, he
better take a long, hard look at his own party.

Joining me now are Goldie Taylor and Nia-Malika Henderson.

Thank you both for being here.

good to be here.

SHARPTON: Nia-Malika, the head of the Republican Party says the
Democrats have a culture of hatred. Is he just firing up the Republican

HENDERSON: I think that`s right. And you saw Mitt Romney. When he
ran, this was part of his sort of argument as well on a talking point he
had was that President Obama was one of the most divisive presidents even.
Marco Rubio would get out on the stamp and sat the same thing. He just
never took. No one really ever believed that.

And if you look at that growth and opportunity project, the autopsy of
the Republican Party that Reince Priebus released right after the campaign,
it showed that people who were polled thought it was Republicans who were
too divisive. So you had this rebranding which in some ways has happened I
think for a segment of the party. But for another segment of the party,
they very much rejected that. It might be the Cruz-wing.

And so, for folks like Dean Young, he`s very much a different sort of
strain of the Republican Party. I think the question now is where is that
ceiling for the strain of the Republican Party. Where, you know, it`s sort
of the tea party in some ways, but I think we`ve seen it`s maybe relegated
to the south. Probably relegated to the House of Representatives not clear
if this guy is even going to g out of his primary fight.

SHARPTON: You know, Goldie, we`ve heard a lot about how Republicans
are rebranding themselves this year. But here`s something else that
Priebus said last night. Listen to this.


PRIEBUS: It`s the Democratic Party that has a shameful history. It`s
not the Republican Party. I think it`s about time that we also as
Republicans start recapturing the real history of the Republican Party and
not let these guys rewrite the history of equality, freedom, and
opportunity which is what this party is all about.


SHARPTON: The Republican Party was the party of equality. But we`re
not in the 1950s anymore. I mean, is this the best they can do?

GOLDIE TAYLOR, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. I really do think that it is
the best that they could do. Look, Reince Priebus put together what we
called an autopsy. I think what this party needs is a coroner`s inquest.
I think they need to go back and take another look at the body. Because
obviously, they got it wrong on this so-called rebranding effort.

You know, the fact of the matter is Republicans did for a very long
time in this country represent the party of equal protection. But then had
the civil rights act happen. And a major re-alignment of party has
happened in this country. And so, now today, you`ve got a Republican party
built out of the old Dixie-crats (ph).


TAYLOR: And those are the very same Dixie-crats (ph) who wouldn`t
want black and brown people living in their community. Certainly, wouldn`t
want LGBT members of that community in their community.

And so, I just think that to take a look at this party in the very
shrinking tent that it seems to be embracing really defies what we really
need in this country which is a very strong two-party system. Without
that, we don`t get the best solutions. We don`t get the best governing.
What we get is kind of this harms tong gridlock we`re seeing today.

SHARPTON: You know, Nia-Malika, if we`re going to talk about a
culture of hatred, let`s address some of the things that elected
Republicans have said about the president. Take a listen.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I think President Obama is the most radical
president we`ve ever seen.

REP. MIKE COFFMAN (R), COLORADO: I don`t know whether Barack Obama
was born in the United States or not. I don`t know. But I do know this,
that in his heart, he`s not an American. He`s just not an American.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I`m afraid that President Obama may
have this king complex sort of developing.

REP. CLIFF STEARNS (R), FLORIDA: The general consensus is that he has
produced a birth certificate. The question is, is it legitimate?


SHARPTON: Now, aside, Nia-Malika, from this kind of ugly hate-filled
kind of rhetoric that no one is really denouncing in the Republican
leadership, I really also want you to address the split in the party.
Because it seems like some are so fixated on President Obama, they will say
and do the most outrageous things no matter what. And it has become
politically an albatross of the party.

HENDERSON: I think that is right. And you see that very much how it
play out in Virginia. We don`t know what that race is going to look like.
But poll is close at seven. But it looks like Cuccinelli is going to lose
a race that Republicans could have won if they had nominated a more
moderate person, perhaps, a Bill Bowling (ph) who is the lieutenant
governor, probably could have a better chance there.

You have people again like Chris Christie, people like Kasich who is
the governor of Ohio talking about the party in a different way. They are
trying to figure out how to relate to normal people on the ground. And
it`s working very much -- very well for somebody like Chris Christie who
has this coalition of black people, of Latinos, of women, of Democrats.
And he is going to romp in this race in New Jersey. So that probably looks
more like where the Republican Party will be nationally in 2016. And we`ve
seen that before that when Republicans run nationally, thigh try to be a
little bit more moderate, kinder, gentler, compassionate conservatism that
whole thing that Bush ran on in 2000.

SHARPTON: You know, when you look at it, Goldie, it seems like a lot
of this rhetoric comes directly from right wing talkers. And that`s what
we hear from them. Listen to this.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Barack Obama is trying to
dismantle brick by brick the American dream.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last night America watched as the president of the
unit states actually argued something I believe is treason.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are destroying my children`s future.

LIMBAUGH: This is what we have as a president, a radical ideologue,
ruthless politician who despises the country.

socialist. He believes in socialism in redistributing wealth, in
confiscating hard-earned dollars.


SHARPTON: Now, Goldie, if in fact they lose Virginia, if in fact a
moderate governor who embraced the president wins in New Jersey, if they
take these big losses, will they stop dropping some of the rhetoric and
start echoing what a lot of the talkers are saying?

TAYLOR: In a word, no. You know, the establishment isn`t in charge
anymore. They are used to be a strong national GOP chairman who would call
the parties in and say look, this is how it`s going to go.


TAYLOR: But the power has shifted. In large because of these right-
wing talkers. You got the tea party, you got evangelicals and you got the
establishments. These two groups are largely self-fun funded. They drive
themselves to the polls. So, there is no more accountability to D.C. that
leads been there -- there is less than there ever has been.

And so, these people are really waging their own worse. So will they
drop this harsh right wing bigoted rhetoric? No, they won`t. They won`t
blame the idea that Cuccinelli was a bad candidate. They want to turn
around and say things like President Obama put together a pack and put in a
fake libertarian. They`re going to blame other things and not themselves.

SHARPTON: Chairman Rush Limbaugh among others.

Goldie Taylor, Nia-Malika Henderson, thank you both for your time.

TAYLOR: Thank you, Rev.

HENDERSON: Thank you, Rev.

SHARPTON: Coming up, more coded language from the right wing. The
GOP`s partying like it`s 1860, and it`s not pretty.

You`re watching a special election night edition of "Politics Nation."
Less than 35 minutes until the polls close in Virginia. Stay with us.


SHARPTON: Welcome back to our special coverage of election night
2013. Voters all across the country still heading to the polls at this
hour. These are live pictures from the election headquarters of Tea Party
Republican Ken Cuccinelli, the GOP governors candidate in Virginia. Last
night he trotted out former Congressman Ron Paul at his final rally to try
to drum up Tea Party support. And Paul`s rallying cry for election night
2013 was a talking point from the 1800s.


FMR. REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: I`ve been working on the assumption
that nullification is going to come. It`s going to be a de facto
nullification if it`s not legalized. Because pretty soon things are going
to get so bad that we`re just going to ignore the feds and run our own
lives and our own states.


SHARPTON: Nullification is going to come. The closing argument at
Cuccinelli`s final rally was a promise to ignore federal law and to embrace
nullification, a concept once used to defend slavery. It`s an
extraordinary position to take, but it`s spreading in the GOP. Today we
learn the Republican state senators in South Carolina are going to hold
public meetings on their new plan to nullity ObamaCare in the state. And
in Missouri, Republicans are introducing a new measure to nullify federal
gun laws.

So the right wing`s big new idea is to embrace one of the oldest and
ugliest ideas in our political history. Nullification. It dates back to
the 1820s. South Carolina politician John Calhoun came up with
nullification as a way to let slave-owning states ignore potential anti-
slavery laws from Washington. It was a terrible idea then, and it`s a
terrible idea now. Critics have said the GOP is stuck in the `50s, and
they`re right. The 1850s.

Joining me now are Michael Eric Dyson and Dana Milbank. Thanks for
coming on the show.


SHARPTON: Michael, nullification surfaced at the final rally for a
major Republican candidate last night. What`s your read on this?

celebrating Reverend Sharpton the 50th anniversary of the march on
Washington and that majestic speech that Martin Luther King, Jr. made.
Remember he said about those southern politicians whose lips were dripping
with the words of interposition and nullification, this is what he was
referring to. Interposition is closely allied to nullification. The idea
states have the right to suggest and push back on federal law. And
nullification of course is not only to push back on it, but to really
refuse to implement it on the local level.

So here we have the harkening back as you`re giving a brilliant and
pithy history lesson to those who are unaware of the uses of these laws or
these principles to make unconstitutional any attempt of the federal
government to impose justice on local municipalities and to have federal
law recognize as it justly deserves to be. So, what happens here is that
Cuccinelli and Rand are making a last ditch effort to say that the Tea
Party really is stuck in the 1850s and refuses to acknowledge ObamaCare,
and they`ll do anything to subvert the principle of the application of this
law no matter what it takes. Even if it`s harkening back to very troubling
and I would argue racist beliefs.

SHARPTON: Well, Dana, when you look at a South Carolina state senator
said that state nullification laws may be necessary, and I`m quoting him.
He says thwarts implementation of this socialist insurance scheme in our
state. So you don`t think if you like a federal law, you just ignore it.
What is the politics of this though? Is this so extreme that it will force
moderates, independents, and some Republicans to leave because even though
they may disagree with ObamaCare or some other federal law? This is too
extreme to deal with nullifying federal law or interposing state law as Dr.
Dyson referred to Dr. King`s speech?

MILBANK: Well, as a practical matter, the idea of nullification going
anywhere is pretty much nil. In fact, I think this is really about the
nut-ification of the Republican Party that they`re even talking about this
sort of thing. Because let`s face it, nullification is really just a
precursor of secession which we`ve also heard some in the party talking
about. But maybe we should make this easier for them and just say why
don`t you guys just go ahead and you can form your little country without
ObamaCare down there in the deep south, and the blue states who are
implementing ObamaCare are actually the ones who put more in taxes into the
country in the first place than they take out. And it will be a much
wealthier operation.

SHARPTON: Yes, Dr. Dyson, I see what Dana`s talking about nut-
ification. But it`s not just South Carolina. Eleven states have
introduced nullification laws. And related to nullification is the idea of
succeeding. In fact, 11 conservative counties in Colorado are voting on
exactly that today. They want to create a 51st state. And a lot of right
wing media pundits have been pushing the secession idea since President
Obama first was elected. Listen to this.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I`m not for secession, but I
understand why people might be.

GLENN BECK, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: In the end if you`re going to jam
all this stuff down our throats, then I guess maybe it would be about
secession. For some people they would probably say, yes, I think maybe
it`s time to get out of this.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: This is a reasonable woman,
she`s talking about secession. Civil war. She`s not alone, folks. This
is not the rantings of extreme kookism anymore.


SHARPTON: So, this is the rhetoric we`ve been hearing Dr. Dyson and
for two years, the Tea Party has dominated and ran the party and has been
the big guys of the GOP. But tonight they may lose, they may get punched
in the mouth in Virginia tonight.

DYSON: Well, we hope so. Because this discourse of secessionism
again is related ultimately to the civil war which is also related to the
fact that this nation went through its bloodiest battle over the future of
its nation and the destiny of this great nation which was about would we
allow people to be enchained and entombed in slavery or to rise free and be
able to maximize their potential as American citizens. So here these
secessionists again are so willing to just gut the heart of American
democracy and to re-read the constitution through the narrow lens of their
bigotry that they refuse to acknowledge as brother Dana said, that this is
really nutty. It`s not going to work, but the problem is, it`s such a
vicious, venomous assault upon President Obama and those who look like him
that I fear that this kind of divisive rhetoric only reinforces the
prevailing feeling like that racially charge rhetoric like the ones they`re
promoting, the one they`re promoting here does no good and only does harm
to the fabric to our nation.

SHARPTON: Well, I`m going to have to leave it there. We`re out of
time. Dr. Michael, Eric Dyson, sorry to get back to you, Dana, so you can
talk about my brilliant and pithy history lessons. But we`ll see you next
time. Thank you for your time tonight.

MILBANK: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Coming up, actor Hill Hopper is best known for his work on
screen, but his greatest role yet is happening off camera. He`ll join me
live on set next.


SHARPTON: At this very moment, Americans all over the country are
heading to the polls, but millions will not be able to vote. And it`s not
because of voter ID laws as bad as they are. No. 5.9 million Americans
have lost their voting rights sometimes for life because of crimes they
once committed. In Virginia alone, more than 300,000 citizens will be
barred from the polls tonight.

Including 20 percent of the state`s black population. The saying goes
do the crime and pay by the time. But for many who have committed a felony
and served their sentences, they`re never really done paying. It`s just
another sign of our broken criminal justice system. Today we live in a
nation with more prisoners than high school teachers. That`s a statistic
that we should be ashamed of. And on election night, we should be talking
about what happens after the election.

What can we do to bring about change to millions trapped in this
system? Actor, author, a humanitarian Hill Harper is looking to do
something about it. You know him from his roll on the hit TV drama "CSI:
New York" and the CIA bureau chief on the USA Network spy drama "Covert
Affairs." But his latest role is as author of "Letters to an Incarcerated
Brother." He offers encouragement and hope for inmates and their loved

Joining me now is actor, humanitarian, and author Hill Harper. Thanks
for coming on the show tonight.

HILL HARPER, AUTHOR, "COVERT AFFAIRS": Thanks for having me, Rev.

SHARPTON: You know, this is a very, very provocative subject but
important. And among the many things, you`re an award-winning actor. What
made you want to write about this?

HARPER: You know, I didn`t expect to dive into this issue, to be
quite honest. You know, my first book lead us to a young brother which is
a motivations for teen boys.


HARPER: And what started to happen is it won the American Library
Association award for best book for young adults. And officers who deal
with juvenile justice and judges started assigning the book to young men
who were being incarcerated. And they had to write a book report. And
wardens would start sending me these book reports. I was like why am I
getting 50-100 book reports from prisons? And I`d continue to get more
letters. And as I got more letters, they were increasingly moving.

And I was like, you know what? I got to dive into this issue and
start seeing what`s going on. And then as I started to uncover more and
more data, you know, you start to realize that in our country we lock up
six to 10 times more people than any other industrialized nation in the


HARPER: You know, for the past 30 years, we had 300,000 incarcerated
individuals. It`s ballooned to 2.4 million like you just said, 6.8
million. Many on probation parole et cetera. Most of whom who have lost
their voting rights. And this is not just a mass incarceration crisis,
it`s a hyper incarceration crisis in our country. And I wanted to write a
book to shine a light on that and to bring some humanity and sense and
knowledge to this issue.

SHARPTON: Now, the book is really personal. Because you begin the
book with a letter you received from a young man behind bars.


SHARPTON: And it says, quote, "My name is Brian and I`m 16-years-old.
Many young people don`t have a role model. I didn`t have one. That`s why
I`m in jail."

HARPER: Exactly. When I got that letter, it`s the first letter that
appears in the book. Tears came to my eyes.


HARPER: Because this young man, he`s in prison, but he`s so
vulnerable. Then what you don`t read is in the letter he says, you know,
I`m not sure if you`re ever going to get this letter because it`s sent to
the publishing company. I`m not sure if you`re going to see it but if you,
please write me back. Please. And there`s so many whether they be young
people or adults who are incarcerated and forgotten. And then we start
adding the statistics of recidivism rates. And you know we get started by
privatization of prisons. There are so many things that we can talk about
as a problem. We need to bring some solutions to bear. And what`s
interesting --

SHARPTON: And role models shouldn`t be underestimated. I write about
it in the "Rejected Stone" coming out in the -- that role models are

HARPER: They can be.

SHARPTON: But an environment because one of the things you and I talk
about when we have been together is you know the president very well. Both
of you all went to Harvard together. And a lot of it is your environment
helps you to have people that aspire like you do or not aspire like you do
or are lost like you may be. And people don`t put that into the

HARPER: No, no, no, they don`t. And they also don`t put in the
conversation, what are you doing with the people once you put them there.


HARPER: You know, are you actually, for instance, you know, with
privatization of prisons. We actually have a system that incentivizes
companies that are running this prison at a publicly traded companies in
the stock market to actually have people come back to prison. Because the
profit mode is there filling the beds. In fact, one young man I
interviewed said that his c.o., his correction officer would tell him every
day that he`s happy he`s here because it gives him job security. The day
he was getting out the same correction officer went up to him and said, I`m
sure you`ll be back because you know, what? I need that job.


HARPER: And so, I`m not saying every c.o. is like that, but I am
saying that we have a system that`s set up to create recidivism, we have a
system that`s set-up to create incarceration for urban poor. And unless we
start to look at this, we have Bernard Carrot talking about it most
recently, talking about how when he went to prison, he was shocked to found
out that the system is broken.

SHARPTON: And you lose voting rights.


SHARPTON: I have a younger brother Reverend Kenneth Glasgow in
Alabama that is passionate about this, works on it all the time.


SHARPTON: Restoring voting rights for ex-cons.

HARPER: Only two states in the country where ex-felons can vote. And
we`re in a situation where without question as close as many races are, if
you had the re-instatement of voting rights for ex-felons we would see
different results. And obviously, there are certain people in power that
don`t want that. And voting is a fundamental American right. I mean,
that`s the democratic ideal. And if you`re caught doing something but for
the grace of God there go I. We`ve all made mistakes. And it should not
have to follow you for the rest of your life in that way. You served your
time. You did what you did. You paid your penalty. Now, let them get

SHARPTON: You got to follow the law, but you can`t vote for those who
make the laws.

HARPER: Exactly.

SHARPTON: Hill Harper, thanks for coming on the show. Remember, the
book once again is "Letters to an Incarcerated Brother." A stunning
admission is ahead from a big city mayor.

Plus, why was the president and first lady surprising visitors at the
White House today? I`ll explain.


SHARPTON: A remarkable political confession today. Six months ago
the Toronto star first reported Toronto`s conservative Mayor Rob Ford was
caught on tape using crack cocaine. Last week the Toronto police chief
said he had the video. Mayor Ford always denied the charge, and he dared
the chief to show it. But today he admitted the truth.


MAYOR ROB FORD (R), TORONTO: I know what I did was wrong and
admitting it was the most difficult and embarrassing thing I have ever had
to do. Folks, I have nothing left to hide.


SHARPTON: He`s refusing to resign. But you know this isn`t the first
mayor to get caught doing drugs. In 1990, Marion Berry, the first African-
American mayor of Washington, D.C. was caught on surveillance camera
smoking crack cocaine. He was arrested by the FBI on drug charges and
served six months in federal prison. But ultimately he won back the public
trust. And won re-election as mayor in 1994. We`ll be right back.


SHARPTON: We`re less than two minutes away from the polls closing in
Virginia. Early returns today, we will see where it goes. Earlier today,
though, at the White House after a seven-month break, tours reopened. And
the first visitors got a big surprise. This wasn`t part of the regular
tour. The president, first lady, and dogs Bo and Sunny greeted families
for more than 30 minutes as they entered this morning. And the first
family had some fun with the guests.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Good to see you. Excitement.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It`s terrific. Well, it`s good to have you guys
here. All right. Enjoy.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: October 2nd? You know, we were trying to get the
government reopened. Otherwise I would have come.



SHARPTON: What a great day at the White House. Finally tonight, I
hope to see everyone at my book signing tomorrow night in Washington, D.C.
I`ll be talking about and discussing the elections and what happened. And
I`ll be signing copies of my new book "The Rejected Stone." I`ll be at the
Martin Luther King Memorial Library at 7:30 p.m. That`s at 901 G Street
Northwest on the fourth floor. Hope to see all of you there. As we see
what happens tonight, "The Rejected Stones" help bring a new corner stone
in American politics.

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


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