November 7, 2013
Guest: Jess McIntosh, Barack Obama, Emanuel Cleaver, Ryan Grim
REV. AL SHARPTON, POLITICS NATION HOST: Good evening, Ed. And thanks
to you for tuning in.
I`m live tonight from Chicago. Just a few moments ago at the White
House, President Obama sat down for an exclusive interview with NBC news.
He talked about the new health care law. And he had surprising comments
about his relationship with Vice President Biden. We`ll have that
interview later in this hour. You won`t want to miss this one.
But we begin with politics. And tonight`s lead, Republicans still
haven`t learned a thing. Voters have sent the right wing a message.
They`re sick of the party`s hostility towards women, minorities, and the
LBGT community. But guess what, so is the Republican establishment.
Today, "The New York Times" reports the GOP is trying to limit the
clout of the far right of the party. So now, let`s see how this latest
rebranding is going. Today, the Senate voted on the employment non-
discrimination act. A bill that would protect gays from being fired due to
sexual orientation and it passed overwhelmingly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And this vote, the yes are 64, the no`s are 32.
The bill as amended is passed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Wait a second, 32 votes against it? Who are those 32
votes? Oh, that`s right, 32 Senate Republicans. They actually voted that
it`s OK for people to be fired because they`re gay. That included all the
GOP hopefuls for 2016 -- Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Marco Rubio, Senator
In this country, it is against the law to fire people for the color of
their skin or for their gender or for their religion. But the GOP thinks
it`s a-OK to fire someone because they`re gay. And then the leader of the
party weighed in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Historic gay rights bill passes
in Senate. Somebody tell me what gay rights are denied now. They pass a
new gay rights bill that`s not necessary. Sent it to the house Republicans
hoping they`ll vote it down. So they can run around saying anti-gay,
bigots, blah, blah, blah Republicans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Again, Republicans haven`t understood why they`re losing
elections. What about the GOP`s war on women`s rights? I mean, surely
they`ve learned their lesson after this week`s loss in Virginia. Ken
Cuccinelli, a tea party anti-woman crusader was the guy vowing to get rid
of abortion even in the case of rape or incest. He lost in large part
because he lost single women by 42 points. So let`s see how the party is
getting away from the anti-woman talk today -- Senator Graham?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: If we can convince the
American people to provide assistance and prevent abortions at the 20th
week, nothing bad is going to happen. Good things will happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: How`s that for change?
Back to bills banning abortions. They haven`t learned anything. Not
one thing. Joining me now are Krystal Ball and Jess McIntosh.
Thank you both for coming on the show.
KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: Thanks for having us, Rev.
JESS MCINTOSH, EMILY`S LIST: Thanks.
SHARPTON: Krystal, let me start with you. Thirty-two Republicans
today voted for discrimination against gays. And if that were not enough,
they`re still going after women`s rights. Why haven`t they learned
BALL: Well, I think the problem is they sort of set this train in
motion and now they`re not able to get off of it. I mean, they`ve been
feeding their base this far right rhetoric saying the world is going to end
if we, you know, allow women to make their own decisions, if we allow gay
people the same basic rights that everyone else expects and is granted in
So, when you`ve allowed that rhetoric to take hold in your base, you
can`t all of a sudden then turn around and say we`ve had a change of heart.
Actually, those things we said before, just ignore that because now we want
to go in this direction.
So, you know, Lindsey Graham is a prime example here. He`s facing a
potentially pretty tough challenge in a Republican primary in a
conservative state. And he has been a Republican that on some issues has
been willing to, you know, talk to the president and be in the same room as
the president. So he feels he has to do something to throw some red meat
to the base. And this seems like the direction he`s decided to go in to do
SHARPTON: Yes. But you know, Jess, Lindsey Graham, the Senator
Lindsey Graham said today that he wants abortion to be a midterm issue. He
told the national review, quote, "the goal is to have a vote in 2014 to
make sure we vote on it. It`s worth having this debate. The more people
understand what we`re trying to do, the more public support will grow over
He wants this 2014 midterm election to be around abortion.
MCINTOSH: And I`m sorry that he thinks women`s rights and health are
a political issue. These Republicans are just the best at not learning
stuff. I`m going to go back just a little bit. In 2012 we had a historic
gender gap. More women voted for Democrats than ever before in history,
precisely because this anti-woman agenda was front and center. Remember
Todd Akin? Remember Richard Mourdock? They got trounced at the polls.
And you think that they might take that opportunity to recalibrate a little
And instead, they come up with Ken Cuccinelli who physically embodies
the Republican war on women. So he gets trounced at the policy. So they
respond by introducing a 20-week abortion ban that has no exemption for the
health of the mother. I mean, women don`t want this. They continue to
reject this agenda. They will again in 2014. That`s the only silver
SHARPTON: Well, in fact, Jess, they are rallying because the new
numbers say that your group, the Emily`s list, has been exploding with
support in the last few years.
MCINTOSH: It`s true. All we do is support, we elect pro-choice
Democratic women. So, over the 29 folks, I go. We clean toppled in size.
And since then, we`ve added a million members. So Emily`s List hit three
million members today. You should all come and join us at emilyslist.org.
We have amazing candidates to take these guys on in 2014.
SHARPTON: Krystal, the top Republican woman in Texas slammed her
party for the treatment of women today. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN COMBS (R), TEXAS COMPTROLLER: Tell me that you give a flip
about women`s interests. If all you want to talk about is my biology, what
happened to my brain? I mean, that`s my point. It`s not all south of the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: I mean, that`s a big blow coming from a leading Republican
nationally and the leading Republican woman in Texas.
BALL: Kudos to her. I mean, that takes a lot of courage in a state
that has really been, unfortunately, at the leading front of the war on
women. You know, they`ve passed a bill there that is going to force the
closure of a third of the abortion clinics in the state. You already have
Texas women with their rights so many restricted that many of them are
resorting to having to go to flea markets to obtain drugs under the counter
to be able to self-medicate and have their own abortion. They are going
across the border to Mexico.
So the state of Texas, women`s health is already in dire condition and
they`re only trying to make it worse which is why this next upcoming
election and I know Jessica would have something to say about this, is
going to be so critical in Texas. You have Greg Abbott on the Republican
side, the likely Republican nominee, who is just egregious on these issues
and many others versus Wendy Davis who would be a champion of women and
SHARPTON: You know, Jess, a lot of these Republican politicians are
taking their cues from the talkers, the right wing talkers, especially the
boss of the party Rush Limbaugh. Listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIMBAUGH: Unmarried women are looking at government for everything.
Obamacare is a giant goody bag for unmarried women. Look at what they`re
doing to women with their policies. I mean, they`re demeaning them.
They`re turning them into nothing but abortion machines. Buy your own
birth control pill. Buy your own breast pump. It`s not health insurance,
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: It`s not only ugly words, Jess, but you can feel the venom
and hate dripping from him as he says this. I mean, it`s unbelievable, the
intense dislike he seems to have as he says these things.
MCINTOSH: Comparing that with the clip that you just played of the
Republican women comptroller in Texas, I mean, it`s got to be so tough to
be a Republican woman right now. This is a party that doesn`t just lack
them. This is a party that seems not to like women.
I think if you spend your time crafting your party agenda to appeal to
extremists, then extremists are going to have outsized influence in your
party. So the Republicans can try to moderate. They can try to diminish
the tea party faction. But their actual agenda appeals to these guys.
That`s why you get Rush saying things like that. That`s why you get folks
on the floor voting the way they do. That`s why you get Lindsey Graham
introducing what he introduced today. It`s all just sad and you can`t
divorce it from each other. They`re stuck with this now. Krystal made
that point at the beginning and she`s absolutely right.
SHARPTON: But Krystal, the politics of this big picture, it really
makes the Republican Party`s attempt to rebrand itself almost taken less
than serious. It`s a joke to be candid. And how do you win? How do you
even become competitive when you see that they are inflexible and won`t
move off this position?
BALL: That`s exactly right. The more they go in the direction, the
more they`re going to become essentially a regional party. If they are
going to figure out how to win and be a national majority governing party
again, they`re going to have to find a way to win with women.
And you were so right to start the segment talking about Virginia and
Ken Cuccinelli because the message could not be any more clear. Abortion
was a major issue in that election. Twenty percent of people said that was
their number one issue in Virginia. And Terry McAuliffe won them
SHARPTON: Go ahead, Jess. Quickly.
MCINTOSH: In Virginia, black women, Latinas, and unmarried women all
came out in the same numbers in this election as they did in 2012 for a
presidential. That`s unprecedented enthusiasm in an off-year. This stuff
is a motivator.
SHARPTON: Yes, it is.
Krystal Ball and Jess McIntosh, thank you both for your time this
BALL: Thanks, Rev.
SHARPTON: And you can catch Krystal on "the Cycle" week days at 3:00
p.m. right here on MSNBC.
Ahead, get out the popcorn. The right wingers are attacking Chris
Christie. This will be fun to watch.
And President Obama`s exclusive interview with NBC News on Obamacare,
on his critics, and on his relationship with Joe Biden. You will only see
it he. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: Breaking news tonight. President Obama`s exclusive
interview with NBC News. He talks about problems with the health care
rollout and responds to those rumors about replacing Biden on the ticket.
We`ll have the full interview for you at 6:30 eastern time, about fifteen
minutes from now. But first --
SHARPTON: Hey, Republicans, you`ve got something you haven`t had in
years, a success story. A GOP governor in a blue state. Who won by a huge
margin at a time when the party`s brand is completely in the dumps. So
what`s the first thing Republicans are going to do? Tear him down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: We need moderates like Chris Christie
who can win in New Jersey and our party. What that means about the
national party, I`m not sure there`s an answer.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: That`s important. Remember, every
race is particular to the state that it`s run in. So, there are factors in
New Jersey that I think are individual to that race. Governor Christie is
certainly has shown a way of winning in New Jersey and states like New
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Rand Paul calls Christie a moderate. That`s practically an
insult in today`s GOP. And how did senator shutdown react to Christie`s
Ted Cruz said quote, "I think it is terrific that he is brash, that he
is outspoken, and that he has won his race. But I think we need more
leaders in Washington with the courage to stand for principle and in
particular Obamacare is not working."
Translation, Chris Christie expanded Medicaid, so I really don`t like
Joining me now are Michelle Cottle and Jonathan Capehart.
Thank you both for being here.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, OPINION WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Thanks, Rev.
MICHELLE COTTLE, WASHINGTON REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST, NEWSWEEK:
SHARPTON: Jonathan, at a time when Republicans are on a losing
streak, shouldn`t they celebrate any win they can get?
CAPEHART: I mean, they should. The Republican Party of old would be
crowing about Governor Christie`s landslide win the other night.
I mean, the idea that, you know, you`ve got senators Rand Paul and Ted
Cruz calling him and Senator Marco Rubio calling Chris Christie a moderate,
well, I mean, I guess that`s true in today`s Republican party. But that
knock on him of moderation simply because he`s nice to the president
obscures a whole lot of other things in Christie`s legislative background
that prove that he`s not a moderate. That he is a conservative. He is,
you know, anti-marriage equality. He veto a minimum wage bill.
SHARPTON: Let`s look at that record, Michelle. You got Chris
Christie vetoed the marriage equality bill. He vetoed the minimum wage
increase that voters ended up passing on Tuesday. He vetoed funding for
family planning centers. He vetoed several gun control bills including one
he first called for. So how do you say this guy is a moderate, Michelle?
COTTLE: Because in today`s Republican Party, any deviation from pure
conservative ideology means that you`re unfit to be their nominee. And, as
you know, as we`ve talked about, he has expanded Medicaid. And more than
that, he has not been sufficiently mean to President Obama, which is
basically a disqualifier among certain segments of the party especially the
three senators that we`re looking at.
But you know, we`re talking about three senators. And most of the
Republicans I talk to suggest or actually are almost convinced that the
2016 nominee has to come from outside of Washington. They think Congress
is a disaster. All the way around.
SHARPTON: Jonathan, if you think the Republicans are doing Christie
in rhetorically, you should listen to the radio talkers. I mean, listen to
house they are really, really attacking Christie and what they`re saying
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I dare you, I mean, there were all the tough
talking Chris Christie, I want to hear you say yes, Barack Obama is a liar
and he lied about his lies. I don`t think that`s going to happen either.
LIMBAUGH: Christie campaigned for Obama in 2012. They hit it off
there on the shore.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was able to cobble together 61 percent of the
vote, and that`s what we want. Victory, victory, victory at all costs even
if it costs us our heart, our soul, and our principles.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: They are really, really bashing Christie with both fists.
I mean, it is amazing.
CAPEHART: Yes. Well, quite frankly they`re crazy, reverend. What we
have here is a Republican party, a base of the party that is, you know,
hell bent on getting -- on having pure conservatives and backing pure --
who they view as pure conservatives rather than conservatives who could
actually win a national election.
Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, sure, they could probably win a
Republican presidential nomination given where the base is right now. But
they could never win a national election. And that`s Chris Christie`s
biggest problem. He probably couldn`t get the Republican nomination, but
he could do some serious damage to whoever the Democratic nominee might be
in 2016 because he`s someone who doesn`t just appeal to the Republican
Party base. He`s someone as we saw in New Jersey, someone who`s
conservative who could appeal to Democratic and independent voters enough
SHARPTON: But, you know, Michelle, at least one Republican was
friendly or nice about Christie this week, Mitt Romney. Look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There`s a long list
of very capable people, but Chris Christie stands out as one of the very
strongest lights of the Republican Party. Chris could easily become our
nominee and help save our party and help get this nation on the right track
again. They don`t come better than Chris Christie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now Michelle, in all candid, is an endorsement from Mitt
Romney a kiss of death or what?
COTTLE: Yes, it`s kind of a mixed blessing there. On the one hand,
Romney knows first happened what happens when you`re insufficiently
conservative for this base, but on the other hand nobody in the party much
likes him. He wasn`t that popular when he had the nomination. So I`m not
sure Chris wants to embrace that one.
SHARPTON: Now, Senator Rand Paul got attention for these comments
about using Sandy recovery money for ads that encourage tourism. Listen to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Some of these ads, people running for office put their mug all
over these ads while they`re in the middle of a political campaign. In New
Jersey, $25 million was spent on ads that included somebody running for
political office. You think there might be a conflict of interest there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: What do you think, Jonathan, with the Paul attack.
CAPEHART: Look. Maybe it`s sour grapes on his part because his face
-- he can`t put his face on a billboard anywhere in Kentucky. What we`re
seeing in terms of the criticisms from Rand Paul and Ted Cruz and Marco
Rubio, it`s just, you know, a bunch of guys who sees someone who could do
some damage to their own presidential ambitions. That`s what you have
going on there.
And, you know, Rev., back to Mitt Romney, I think the other reason why
Mitt Romney was so much in his praise of Christie, that was the weekend it
came out that Mitt Romney had said all of those really mean things about
Chris Christie and his weight that came out in the book "Double Down" from
our friends Halperin and Heilemann.
SHARPTON: Well, Michelle Cottle, Jonathan Capehart, thanks for your
Let me say this. I can tell you as one that`s been involved in
activism for a long time, a lot of times you can tell the sincerity of
people that advocate by if they will support what wins for their cause more
than the personalities that involve or whether they go to all of the dogma
that you want. So a lot of these dogmatic guys are clearly more about
their own personal self-interests than they are supporting their party.
Coming up, we have breaking news. President Obama`s exclusive
interview with NBC.
SHARPTON: Coming up, breaking news. President Obama`s exclusive
interview with NBC news. That`s next.
SHARPTON: Breaking news in the last hour. President Obama sat down
in the diplomatic reception room at the White House for an exclusive
interview with NBC`s Chuck Todd. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK TODD, NBC WHITE HOUES CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Mr. President.
PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: Good to see you.
TODD: Nice to see you. I will start with health care. It`s probably
the most quoted thing or re-quoted thing you have said in your presidency.
If you like your health care plan, you can keep it. You said it a lot
during the run-up. At this point, though, it`s obviously something, a
promise that`s not been able to be kept. Just today the Denver Post
reported 250,000 people in Colorado are seeing health insurance policies
canceled. Some of those people liked those policies and they can`t keep
it. What happened?
OBAMA: Well, first of all, I meant what I said. And we worked hard
to try to make sure that we implemented it properly. But obviously we
didn`t do a good enough job and I regret that. We`re talking about five
percent of the population who are in what`s called the individual market.
They`re out there buying health insurance on their own. A lot of these
plans are sub-par plans. And we put in a clause in the law that said, if
you had one of those plans even if it was sub-par when the law was passed,
you could keep it. But there was enough churn in the market that folks
since then people have bought sub-par plans and that may be all they can
Even though it`s only affects a small amount of the population, you
know, it means a lot to them obviously when they get this letter canceled.
And you know, I am deeply concerned about it. And I`ve assigned my team to
see what can we do to close some of the holes and gaps in the law.
Because, you know, my intention is to lift up and make sure the insurance
people buy is effective. That it`s actually going to deliver what they
think they`re purchasing. Because what we know is before the law was
passed, a lot of these plans, people thought they had insurance coverage.
And then they`d find out that they had huge out of pocket expenses or women
were being charged more than men.
If you have pre-existing conditions, you just couldn`t get it at all.
And we are proud of the consumer protections we`ve put into place. On the
other hand, we also want to make sure that nobody is put in a position
where their plan`s been canceled, they can`t afford a better plan even
though they`d like to have a better plan. And so, we`re going to have to
work hard to make sure that those folks are, you know, taken care of.
TODD: You feel like you owe these folks an apology for misleading
them even though you didn`t intentionally do it? But at this point, they
feel misled. And you`ve seen the anger that`s out there.
OBAMA: You know, I regret very much that what we intended to do which
was to make sure that everybody is moving into better plans because they
want them as opposed because they`re forced into it, that we weren`t as
clear as we need to be in terms of the changes that were taking place. And
I want to do everything we can to make sure that people are finding
themselves in a good position, a better position better than they were when
this law happened. Keep in mind that most of the folks who are going --
who got these cancellation letters, they`ll be able to get better care at
the same cost or cheaper in these new market places because they`ll have
more choice, they`ll have more competition. They`re part of a bigger pool.
Insurance companies are going to be hungry for their business. So the
majority of folks will end up being better off. Of course because the
website`s not working right, they don`t necessarily know it right. But
even though it`s a small percentage of folks who may be disadvantaged, you
know, it means a lot to them and it`s scary to them. And I am sorry that
they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got
from me. We`ve got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them
and we`re going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find
themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this.
TODD: You`ve been getting some tough criticism on this quote.
Clarence Page, your hometown newspaper, The Chicago Tribune. This is not a
columnist that likes to throw bombs inside this White House -- very
supportive of what you said. He characterized this as a political lie. He
called it the sort of rosy promise politicians sometimes make with such
passion and confidence that they actually may have convinced even
themselves that it is true. Is that the position? Did politics play a
role and you felt as if the Republicans were throwing stuff at the law,
you`re trying to pass it, you`re trying to do this that you shorthanded
OBAMA: No. I think we in good faith have been trying to take on a
health care system that has been broken for a very long time. And what
we`ve been trying to do is to change it in the least disruptive way
possible. I mean, keep in mind there that were folks that would have
prefer a single payer plan. That would have been a lot more disruptive.
There were folks on the right who said, let`s just get rid of, you know,
employer deductions for health care and give people a tax credit and they
can go buy their own health care in their own market. That would have been
more disruptive. We tried to find a proven model.
We`ve seen it work in Massachusetts that would be as undisruptive as
possible. And in good faith tried to write the law in such a way that
people could keep their care. Although we really believe that ultimately
they`re going to be better off when they`re buying health care through the
market places they can access tax credits and they`re benefiting from more
choice in competition. But obviously we didn`t do a good enough job in
terms of how we crafted the law. And, you know, that`s something that I
regret, that`s something that we`re going to do everything we can to get
fixed. In the meantime --
TODD: By the way, that sounds like you`re supportive of the
legislation. The various things that are out there.
OBAMA: We`re looking at a range of options. But the one thing I want
to emphasize though Chuck is everybody is acting as if the existing market
was working, and the fact of the matter is that a whole lot of people who
were in this individual market who were buying health care on their own
because they`re not getting it through their employer, they might be happy
with it this year. And then suddenly next year the cost got jacked up by
15, 20 percent. The average increase on premiums in this individual market
for somebody who kept their health care for awhile, the average increase
was double digits.
If they actually got sick and used the insurance, they might find the
next year their premiums had gone up or the insurer might have dropped them
altogether because now they had a pre-existing condition. Women were being
charged as much as double compared to men. So this is a market that wasn`t
working. And a whole lot of people were dissatisfied. And what we`ve done
is to increase the consumer protections that are in place for those
families and those folks. We`ve said you can`t drop people when they get
sick and need it most. We said that you can`t have lifetime limits so that
some way people think they have insurance, next thing we know they`ve got
30,000, $40,000 out of pocket expenses.
And over the long-term, that is the right thing to do. But in this
transition, you know, there are going to be folks who get a cancellation
letter. Especially when a website`s not working. They`re looking and
saying, what am I going to do now? And, you know, we have to make sure
that they are not feeling as if they`ve been betrayed by an effort that is
designed to help them.
TODD: Do you feel like considering how much this quote has been.
It`s late night, it`s all sorts of things. Do you understand if people are
going to be skeptical of the next promise you make of the next -- or are
you concerned that people are going to be wondering what`s the fine print
that he`s not telling me. Do you get that people might be a little more
skeptical. Forget the partisans here in Washington. Just average
OBAMA: You know, I`ll tell you, Chuck. I think that -- I`ve now been
in national public life for seven, eight years. I`ve been president for
almost five. And I think for the most part people know that I speak my
mind. And I tell folks what I think. And I`ve been very clear about what
I`m trying to do. And I think most people know that even if they disagree
with me on certain issues. That I`m every day working hard to try to make
life a little bit better for middle class families and folks and those
trying to get in the middle class who are doing the right thing and being
I think what most people I hope also recognize is that when you try to
do something big like make our health care system better, that there are
going to be problems along the way. Even if ultimately what you`re doing
is going to make a whole lot of people better off. And I hope that people
will look at the end product. And they`re going to be able to look back
and say you know what? We now have protections that we didn`t have before.
We`ve got more choice in competition. I didn`t have health insurance. I
now have it. I have bad health insurance, I now have good health
insurance. The website`s actually working.
You know, I`m getting my kid on my insurance policy even though he`s
got an asthma or some other pre-existing condition. So, ultimately, I`ll
be judged on whether this thing is better for people overall. And in the
meantime, even if it`s a small percentage of people, I mean, we`re talking
about five percent of the population, but that`s a significant number of
people. Even though a whole lot of them are going to be better off,
there`s going to be a segment who, you know, I`ve ultimately got to make
sure that, you know, I`m speaking to their needs and their concerns. And,
you know, I take that very seriously. Because I want everybody out there
to know that, you know, my entire intention here is to make sure that
people have the security of affordable health care.
TODD: Give 21 days until November 30th, this website going to be
running smoothly enough. If it`s not at that point do you sit there and
say, OK, let`s extend the enrollment period. Let`s delay the mandate. Do
all of those plans be starting coming into focus if November 30th isn`t
OBAMA: Well, let me just say generally. And I don`t think I`m saying
anything that people don`t know and I haven`t said before. I am deeply
frustrated about how this website has not worked over the first couple of
weeks. And you know, I take responsibility of that. My team takes
responsibility of that. And we are working every single day, 24/7, to
improve it. And it`s better now than it was last week. And certainly a
lot better than that was on October 1st. I`m confident that it will be
even better by November 30th. And that the majority of people are going to
be able to get on there, they`re going to be able to enroll, they`re going
to be able to apply, and they`re going to get a good deal, a better deal
than they`ve got right now when it comes to buying health insurance.
Now, you know, having said that, given that I`ve been burned already
with a website, well, more importantly the American people have been burned
by a website that has been dysfunctional, what we`ve also been doing is
creating a whole other set of tracks making sure that people can apply by
phone effectively, making sure that people can apply in person effectively.
So what I`m confident about is that anybody who wants to buy health
insurance through the market place, they are going to be able to buy it.
TODD: So, no delay. No plans or you might --
OBAMA: Keep in mind that the open enrollment period, the period
during which you can buy health insurance, is available all the way until
March 31st. And we`re only five weeks into it. So we`ve got a whole bunch
of time not only to get the website fixed, to work out all the kinks. To
make sure that everybody has the information that they need. And what
we`ll do is continue to assess if there are road blocks for people, we are
going to clear out those road blocks. And we`re going to make sure that
TODD: You`re hoping whatever it takes.
OBAMA: Whatever it takes for people to be able to get what is good,
quality, health insurance at cheaper prices or better insurance for the
same price or bad insurance that they`ve got right now, we`re going to make
sure that they have access to that market.
TODD: Still have full confidence in Kathleen Sebelius?
OBAMA: You know, I think Kathleen Sebelius under tremendously
difficult circumstances over the last four and a half years has done a
great job in setting up the insurance markets. So, there`s a good product
out there for people to get. You know, Kathleen Sebelius doesn`t like
code. You know, she wasn`t our IT person. I think she`d be the first to
admit that if we had to do it all over again, that there would have been a
whole lot more questions that were asked in terms of how this thing was
working. But my priority right now is to get it fixed. And you know,
TODD: Is she still the right person to do it?
OBAMA: Ultimately the buck stops with me. I`m the president. This
is my team. If it`s not working, it`s my job to get it fixed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: To discuss the interview, joining me now are Congressman
Emanuel Cleaver and Ryan Grim from "The Huffington Post." Thank you both
for joining me.
RYAN GRIM, "THE HUFFINGTON POST": Thank you, Reverend.
REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D), MISSOURI: Good to be with you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Congressman, the president says his job is to get it fixed.
What`s your reaction?
CLEAVER: I think the president set the right tone. He was not
arrogant or backing away from responsibility. And I think the greatest
challenge to anyone when something goes awry is to making it right. And
that`s what he did today. The most dangerous time for a driver is when the
highway is flat, the sun is shining brightly, the wind are at zero, because
people are not paying as much attention as they should. And it is stormy
that people pay the most attention. So I think the Affordable Care Act is
getting all kinds of scrutiny and attention that it would not normally get.
And some of that is good.
The president is saying, I would make it right. The responsibility
stops with me. Let me just say this, Reverend. I`m having difficulty with
the word "mislead." The president did not mislead. He misspoke. And to
misspeak is to say something that is incorrect. Not untrue, but incorrect.
And so, I`d rather, I hope people will see a difference between mislead and
misspoke. And I think it`s a dramatic and real difference.
SHARPTON: Ryan, your reaction to the president`s interview?
GRIM: I thought, you know, obviously the piece of news that the
beltway will take away from it is the apology that he offered to people. I
think the secondary piece is kind of the pressure that he put on Kathleen
Sebelius. If you noticed that when he was asked, you know, do you still
have full support for Kathleen Sebelius, is she`s the one who can get this
done. He didn`t say yes. You know, he said, look, she`d be the first to
admit that she made mistakes. And, you know, he kind of put it in the
future like, you know, basically we need to see where this is heading.
GRIM: Which puts a lot of pressure on the staff and appropriately so.
Because, you know, the president`s men and women, you know, need to make
sure that this is functional. And you need to test out whether this law --
SHARPTON: But Ryan, people I understand what you`re saying on the
beltway in Washington. But people out there like this plan. I mean, for
all of the issues with the website, all of the Republicans attack, the
approval of ObamaCare is going up and holding steady depending on whatever
poll you watch. Gallup has found a four percent approval rating increase
since the rollout. Washington polls found three point increase. Pew
research found one point dip. Reuters found an increase of 3.3 percent.
So people like it outside the beltway notwithstanding. People are starting
to get something that they didn`t have, Congressman.
CLEAVER: Absolutely. And it`s going to continue to rise. I hope
that all of the video that we are seeing on television now, with people
talking about is the worst thing since the beginning of the people in
Israel being taken into Egyptian bondage. I mean, all kinds of things.
And I want hopefully somebody will do a movie showing all these people
making all these statements about how horrible this is. At a time when no
politician in this country, that day is coming, when no politician in this
country would dare --
SHARPTON: Well, I think that so Congressman but you know, Ryan, I
think one of the things that we`ve got to deal with is that yes there`s
been real glitches, real problems on the rollout. But there`s been such
extreme attacks that I think that they almost cancel out some of the impact
that the Republicans could have gained from some of the major problems with
the rollout. For example, Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert, his latest
attempt to fear monger over this issue of ObamaCare. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: When you know how dramatically people
are adversely affected, do you really want to let people suffer and
potentially die? Or do you do everything you can to try to put it off?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: See, that kind of extreme statement people potentially die,
that is what make people say, when the rollout may not be anything I want,
but it`s not that. ObamaCare is not that. Nowhere near that.
GRIM: And I thought the most incisive point the president made was he
said, you know, everybody is acting as if the insurance market has been
working for all these years.
GRIM: You know, all of a sudden these $50 a month plans that have
massive deductibles, that don`t cover hospitalization all of a sudden now,
you know, losing that could somehow cost you your life? The president made
a very good point which is that -- he didn`t want to make it too strong
because he doesn`t want --
SHARPTON: I will have to hold it there. Don`t go anywhere. Much
more on this exclusive interview, next.
SHARPTON: We`re back with more from NBC`s exclusive interview with
President Obama. He talked candidly about his relationship with his vice
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Did you really not know that your campaign was researching this
idea of swapping Joe Biden for Hillary Clinton?
OBAMA: You know, again, Chuck, the problem that we`ve got and this
goes back to the earlier question you asked. You know, I am in charge of
two million people in the federal government. And that was true by the way
even when I was running for president. So people knew all kinds of stuff.
Some of it they clearly mean. Sometimes they`re trying to figure something
out. Particularly on the political side. I`m not somebody who delves into
polling and all that data. Here`s one thing I could say for certain, that
if they would have asked me, I would have said there is no way that I`m not
running again with Joe Biden because I genuinely believe that he has been
one of the best vice presidents in our history.
He also happens to be a friend. He also happens to be one of my most
important advisers on domestic and foreign policy. I like him. When my
back`s up against a wall, he has my back. And, you know, I`ve now been in
this town long enough to know that, you know, folks like to seem important
by getting their version of events in the press. Or books or what have
you. And that`s just kind part of the atmosphere that you live in.
TODD: Did you and the vice president talk?
OBAMA: Absolutely. And what I told him and he knows and he believes
me is that I would not be here if it weren`t for the support that I`ve had
from Joe Biden. He is a personal friend. And adviser. It`s one of the
best decisions I ever made was selecting him as vice president. I couldn`t
be prouder of the job he has done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Congressman Cleaver is with us, back with us as well is
Congressman, the president says, Joe Biden is one of the best
decisions he`s ever made. Do you know Joe Biden, do you know his
relationship with the president?
CLEAVER: I do know Joe Biden and I do know that he and the president
are inseparable. And I can tell you Joe Biden has come to the heel to
represent the president and has done it with the highest level of dignity.
And even under some difficult circumstances, I can tell you without fear of
contradiction, he stood in front of the members of the democratic caucus
and House of Representatives and defended the president. This man has a
relationship with the president that most people would love to have with at
least one individual in their lives. This is a good relationship. It is
strong and I think that the president`s absolutely truthful when he says
there was never a moment when he was going to dump Joe Biden.
SHARPTON: Ryan, you hear the president kind of say some people try to
make themselves important by getting certain narratives in the media or in
books. Trying to sort of slightly imply maybe somebody kind of overplayed
their role or overplayed their influence or even misrepresented the record.
How do you respond to that?
GRIM: Right. It makes our job as journalists easier that there is
that impulse amongst so many people in Washington. Because, you know, it`s
kind of thing where, you know, a lot of officials know that other officials
are talking to reporters and book authors. And so they tell you, well, if
this guy`s talking, I better talk too and get my story out. And, you know,
the job for journalists is to try to decide, you know, who is kind of
fluffing themselves up and who`s telling a real story. You know, in this
case there was some senior level talk about replacing Joe Biden with
It clearly never got to the level of most senior advisers who would
have that just, you know, personal friendships aside, politically it would
have been a terrible idea. It would have made him look weak, it would have
looked desperate. You know? So, it was a nonstarter on every different
level. But, you know, the lesson is that anything that happens in
Washington pretty much is going to get out, going to wind up in a book or
magazine article or a website like "The Huffington Post."
SHARPTON: Well, I don`t think that that is a problem. I think the
problem is that a lot of things that didn`t happen in Washington ends up in
a book or story or in "The Huffington Post." I can say this. I have to go
to Congressman on this one. I know Joe Biden. I know Vice President
Biden. I know the president. I don`t think the president would have
thought of dumping Joe Biden for one minute. Congressman Emanuel Cleaver
and Ryan Grim, thank you both for your time tonight.
GRIM: Thank you.
CLEAVER: Good to be with you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: I`ll be right back with the reason why I`m here in Chicago.
What we can do to make our city safer. That`s next.
SHARPTON: And finally tonight, fighting back against gun violence.
I`m here in Chicago where tonight I`ll spend the first night in the west
side apartment I`ve rented here. Part of my effort to call attention to
the crisis of violence in our city and our cities and those that are doing
something about it. Just the first week of this month gun violence in
Chicago left six people dead and 17 wounded. Including a six-year-old boy.
Today, I visited a magnet school where I spoke with students about the
violence they face every day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: When you leave school, how afraid are you all about gun
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s always on my mind.
SHARPTON: Gun violence is always on your mind?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. What if this happens, what if that happens.
SHARPTON: What would you see any of you that you would like to see
done to make this city safe?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like more law enforcement in high schools.
Like maybe getting on the bus would be a big old crowd.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: This is unconscionable reality. That students have to deal
with this and deal with it every day. And they need our help. Basketball
legend Isaiah Thomas and the Reverend Marshall Hatch were with me today to
highlight the need for change. They among others are working on concrete
programs and ways to really deal with the violence. From Reverend Hatch to
Reverend -- across the board in the next few months every week, you will
have me here telling you stories of people that will not succumb but will
fight back against gun violence and will fight back to give the children,
the young people like that young man, hope that this country still is a
place where dreams can come true. And not where children have to worry
what happens when they walk outside of a classroom. Chicago can be the
model for how we can do this all over the country.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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