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PoliticsNation, Monday, March 24th, 2014

Read the transcript from the Monday show

March 24, 2014

Guest: Karen Bass; Bernie Sanders, Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, James
Peterson, Jay Rollins, Bob Hager

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Ed, and thanks to you
for tuning in.

Tonight`s lead, four years down and just one more week to go. We`re down
to the wire on Affordable Care Act. The deadline is March 31st, and there
is just one week left for Americans to enroll in health care plans.

President Obama has been fighting to get to this point for the last four
years. He has been defending the law, explaining the benefits, and pushing
back against all those misleading attacks.


have been tallied, health insurance reform becomes law in the United States
of America.

We said young adults without insurance should be able to stay on their
parents` plan. We got that done for you.

We`re not going to go back to the days when it was acceptable to charge
women more than men for health care.

No more discriminating against kids with preexisting conditions.

We`re going to keep work family by family, and block by block, and
neighborhood by neighborhood on campuses and in churches to get more
America coffered with the economic security and peace of mind that quality
health insurance provides.


SHARPTON: He is still working to get more Americans insured and the
American people are listening. Today tweeted consumers are
acting with more than one million visits to the health care Web site and
150,000 calls this weekend.

Just this weekend, more than a million people looking for better care.
This demand is huge. But on the right they refuse to set up.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald trump four years ago. Today Obama care passed.
How has it gone in your estimation?

probably, and I`m not even talking about the Web site being all screwed up,
probably it could not have gone worse. It`s a complete catastrophe for
people. And you know, you look at it, you see the results all the time.


SHARPTON: Thanks for the diagnosis, Dr. Trump. But millions of people are
signing up for care, and none of them think this law is a complete


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My blood sugars went way up. And I couldn`t even go to
the doctor to find out what my average blood sugars were because I had
preexisting condition at that point, and they wouldn`t pay for all the

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: So Allen enrolled in a health care
marketplace plan and was pleasantly surprised.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People that involved in the crash like myself, people
that have good jobs, that have no jobs, and everybody needs some insurance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: What are you hoping to walk away with today?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some health insurance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Their monthly premium dropped from about
$1300 a month to $900. Looking at the different plans, he selects one he
can afford.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Congratulations. You are now enrolled in Humana.




SHARPTON: Getting people covered, saving them money, stopping insurance
companies from discriminating against people with preexisting conditions.
That`s not a catastrophe, it`s a godsend. And we`ve got one more week to
prove it.

Joining me now are Congresswoman Karen Bass, Democrat from California, and
MSNBC`s Krystal Ball. Thank you both for being here.

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: Thanks for having us, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Congresswoman, one week to go. What are you hoping to see?

REP. KAREN BASS (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, I am hoping to see the continued
interest, involvement in people signing up. You know, over two million
people have signed up in California. And this coming Saturday in my
district, we`re doing a town hall. We expect hundreds of people to be
there. And so, I think we`re going to have a lot to celebrate next week.

SHARPTON: That`s great.

You know, Krystal, we`re also seeing signs that more states will expand
Medicaid. For example, in Florida, Republican state senator is pushing an
expansion bill, a Republican. In New Hampshire, the GOP-controlled state
Senate has passed an expansion bill. And aides for the Republican governor
of Utah have travelled to Washington to meet with officials of the Obama
administration about expansion. Is this just the beginning?

BALL: I think it is just the beginning. I hope it`s just the beginning.
There is also a movement in Missouri which has a Democratic governor. But
also in Missouri, Republican legislators are pushing Medicaid expansion.
And they have done a whole study showing that it would save the state

So they are paying money in effect right now to deny people care. It is
absurd. And you`ve seen the moral Monday movement which started in North
Carolina and it is now spreading across the south and other places in the
country. And they`ve made Medicaid expansion a real focus of their
grassroots activism which seems to be gaining momentum and putting a lot of
pressure on these politicians.

SHARPTON: Now, you know, Congresswoman, the Supreme Court will hear
arguments tomorrow in the case of a chain store, Hobby Lobby, challenging
the contraception mandate. The right claims it`s about religious freedom.
Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Hobby Lobby case is far more than a case about one
retailer or about contraception. It ultimately is going to reveal whether
religious liberty still exists in America.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: We`ve never seen an administration with such
hostility towards religious faith.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By passing Obamacare, he has denied religious
liberties to millions of Americans across the country.


SHARPTON: What is your reaction to, that Congresswoman? Is this about
religious freedom?

BASS: I don`t think it`s about reasons freedom at all. I think it`s about
the same old song that gets sung all the time, which is denying women the
right to choose, denying women the right to have control over their bodies.

I mean, you know, we have hearings here almost on a weekly basis about the
same subject. And I really think that it`s sad. You know, when you think
of health care reform, you are literally talking about saving people`s
lives. For people to be covered and not have to worry about a preexisting
condition, or not have to worry about a cap. And to see this being used as
an excuse to deny women health care coverage is really pathetic.

SHARPTON: Krystal, your view on this hearing tomorrow.

BALL: Well, in one way, Mike Huckabee is right. The hobby Lobby case does
have much broader implications. It`s really about whether a corporation,
whether your employer can decide what kind of health care you`re going have
access to. And it`s not just about birth control. It`s not just about
this instance. It also could bleed over into things like the bills we saw
passed that would allow photographer the right to deny services to gay
couples and other service providers. They could argue they are guaranteed
this right to this religious exemption.

So it really could lead to a cascading effect where the bottom line is your
employer has control over what you are allowed to get in your health care,
which is just I think is to most people absurd. Employers and corporations
don`t have a religion.

SHARPTON: Now, let me go back to Donald Trump for a minute, Congresswoman.
You know, when he is not weighing in on health care laws, FOX brings out
another person, the Iraq war architect Paul Wolfowitz -- well, let me let
you hear what he had to say.


numbers. I think it`s correct that five million people had their policies
canceled, the ones they were promise they`d could keep. So presumably,
some of that five million new enrollees are just people who got kicked out
and they are back in. This was supposed to reduce the number of uninsured.
It may actually have increased the number.


SHARPTON: Now "the Washington Post" fact checker gave the claim that more
people are uninsured four pinocchios. So why do they keep saying this,
Congresswoman? It`s patently not true.

BASS: I think FOX is getting pretty desperate to have folks on like
Wolfowitz. And look what he did for the world. I mean, he was the
architect behind the Iraq war long before 9/11, and where does that gotten

And Donald Trump, what does he have the authority to talk about health care
reform? They need to stay doing what they`re doing. But I do think it`s a
little bit of a sign of desperation that you go to sources like that to say
how health care reform is working.

SHARPTON: No. And clearly, I disagree with the sources that they use.
But the facts, Krystal, the facts are clear that is absolutely untrue as
the fact checker of "the Washington Post" said.

BALL: It`s absolutely false. And the fact that they have to reach for
such absurd claims, I think proves the fact that they really are stretching
right now to make the case against Obamacare when so many people are
starting to see the benefits.

I mean, we`ve seen Americans for prosperity, this Koch-backed super PAC
trying to put up ad after ad with, quote, "real victims of Obamacare. And
each one of them keeps getting fact checked and said well, actually, this
person is benefitting in this way and that way. They can`t even come up
with a credible person. The actual person. They can`t come up with one
credible person who has really been a victim of Obamacare as they claim.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you this, Congresswoman. You`re there in Washington
and you do a great job in Congress.

BASS: Thank you.

SHARPTON: So you talk to others in Congress on the other side of the
aisle. Maybe I missed something, but do they have a health care plan? I
mean, it`s like they are arguing against the Affordable Care Act,
Obamacare, but they`re not proposing anything. I mean, how do you really
say to people I`m fighting against you having health care. It`s not even
saying try my plan. I`ve heard their plan.

BASS: Right. Well, you know, Rev. I mean, I`m give waiting now, I`ve
been here for four years. I`ve been waiting for four years to hear about
this plan. But every couple of months they say in the next few days, we`re
going to release our plan for health care reform. And it`s been over four
years. We`ve voted over 50 times against the repeal of Obamacare.

So they have no plan. And you know the fact of the matter is that when the
Congress and the president came up with the Affordable Care Act, they took
many ideas from Republicans and added them in.

SHARPTON: Including Romney.

BASS: So whether you voted for it or not, it was a bipartisan bill.

SHARPTON: Including they took ideas, Krystal, as the Congresswoman said
for Republicans, including Romney and his act that he had put in, executed
in Massachusetts. Yet they`re still talking about repeal. I mean, how do
you look at people? Young people with preexisting conditions, older
people, whatever, and tell them be against this, but I`m not going give you
any overtime. How do they do it?

BALL: It`s unconscionable. And it`s going to become increasingly
untenable. They can`t continue in this direction because it`s becoming
more and more obvious that they have no alternative to offer. And we are
now in a world where the Affordable Care Act is law, where people are
getting covered. It is no longer going to be enough to demonize it. It`s
no longer going to be enough to say we have to repeal it. If they want to
do something else, let`s see what they wanted to do.

SHARPTON: It didn`t work.

BASS: Don`t hold your breath.

SHARPTON: One more week left. That`s all.

Congresswoman Karen Bass and Krystal Ball, thank you both for your time

BALL: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: And be sure, be sure to watch Krystal on "the Cycle" weekdays at
3:00 p.m. eastern right here on MSNBC.

SHARPTON: Coming up, today we have new numbers showing how millions are
struggling to eat. So wait until you hear what they`re planning to do.
And it`s not just the Koch brothers, the billionaire boys club is growing
and cozying up to Republican politicians. But Democrats have a plan.

Plus, with Mitt Romney thinks President Obama should see into the future.

And the first lady is jumping into her good will tour of China. But some
on the right are jumping to attack. Stay with us.


SHARPTON: Today we found out just how many Americans are struggling to
feed their families. How is Paul Ryan responding? It`s heartless, and
it`s next.


SHARPTON: There is a lot of people hurting in this country. Today a
sobering reminder of just how many. A new report reveals that tens of
millions of Americans struggle to afford food last year. Mississippi was
the top state struggling to afford food, followed by West Virginia,
Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, and five other states you see round out the
top ten in these states.

One in five couldn`t afford to buy food. What else do you have in common
here? They`re all red states, states that voted against President Obama in
2012. And this is where the policy fights come in.

Again and again, we see conservative policies that attack the poor. Today,
we learned the GOP budget will propose spending cuts deeper than the
previous blueprint. And here is how some on the right even talk about
those in need.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Since the passage of the
farm bill, states have found ways to cheat once again on signing up people
for food stamps.

REP. LOUIE ROHMERT (R), TEXAS: And from the amount of obesity in this
country, by people we`re told do not have enough to eat.

REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: So that we can expand the new numbers of people
that are on another government program and encourage them to sign up. What
for? It grows the empire of dependency.


Tens of millions feed their families with help from food stamps and
subsidized school lunches. But the answer is more cuts? Come on,
conservatives, we can do better than this.

Joining me now is Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Senator, first of all, thank you for your time.


SHARPTON: In this new report, one in five people are struggling to put
food on the table. But the answer I guess is to cut more? I mean, what is
your reaction, Senator?

SANDERS: Al, we`re living in very, very strange and disconcerting times.
We have more people living in poverty today than in any time in the history
of the United States of America. We have the highest rate of childhood

Meanwhile, the rich are doing phenomenally well and corporations are
enjoying record-breaking profits. And it is astounding to me from a moral
perspective that folks in the Republican party stay up night figuring out
how they can give more tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires and
large corporations and then come back and try to cut food stamps for
families who are hungry, for kids who are hungry, try to cut Social
Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. It is really a very ugly moment in
American history.

SHARPTON: I mean, when we look at last year`s GOP proposal, Senator
Sanders, it called for $135 billion in cuts from food stamp programs over
ten years. Now they want more cuts on top of this?

SANDERS: You know, and add to that, Al, that we have right now in real
terms almost 13 percent of our people are unemployed. We have not extended
unemployment benefits, long-term unemployment benefits. So you have folks
out there now who have virtually no income coming in. They have families.
They have kids. How are they going to eat? We have veterans out there who
are trying to get into the food stamp program.

So to me what you`re looking at is an ugly kind of class warfare where the
people on top want more and more and more. And they`re pushing down in an
incredibly terrible way the most vulnerable people in our country.

SHARPTON: Well, let`s stay there in a minute. Because let`s look who is
on food stamps. A new report from the department of agriculture shows 45
percent of food stamp recipients are children, nine percent are elderly, 10
percent are disabled adults. Almost half of the food stamps recipients are
children. How Republicans choose to make cuts, knowing this, how do you
live with yourself?

SANDERS: Well, that`s a good question. I mean, it`s a basic moral issue
that we as a nation have got to really discuss. Tax breaks to billionaires
and cuts to nutrition programs for kids. If a kid does not have enough
food to eat, how is that child going to do well in school? He or she is
not going do well in school.

So you`re attacking the most vulnerable people in this country. There is a
rise in poverty among senior citizens, elderly people. They don`t have
enough to eat. What kind of nation are we when we give tax breaks to
billionaires, but we can`t take care of the elderly and the children.

And by the way, you`ve got working families all over this country flocking
to emergency food shelters. They`re working, but they`re making eight
bucks an hour, nine bucks an hour, can`t afford the food that they need.

So I think we got to get our priorities right. And one of the basic
priorities is that we make sure that nobody goes hungry in the United
States of America.

SHARPTON: No. And when you look at the fights and no taxes on the estate
tax and all the other things they come up to help the rich, yet there is a
growing trend of conservatives wanting kids to work for their school
lunches. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should students have to work for their school meals?
Send those comments over to us.

REP. JACK KINGSTON (R), GEORGIA: Why don`t you have the kids pay a dime,
pay a nickel to instill in them there is no such thing as a school lunch or
maybe sweep the floor of the cafeteria.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: When you get a new pet, what is the
first thing you try to do to try to bond with it? You want to be the one
to feed it, right? Well, same thing here.

NEWT GINGRICH, CNN HOST, CROSSFIRE: Have one master janitor and pay local
students to take care of the school. The kids would actually do work.
They would have cash. They would have pride in the schools.


SHARPTON: So put the kids to work. I mean, but let the millionaires and
the billionaires get all kind of tax loopholes, no tax or a lower tax
percentage. Let`s figure out ways to increase their wealth and everybody
else, even children punish them, make them act like they`re getting a
handout or they`ve got to do something to get it. What are we talking

SANDERS: Al, these are the same people who want to eliminate the estate
tax, which applies to only the top three-tenths of one percent of
Americans. That is the richest of the rich. And then they`re going after

The politics of this, Al, is what they`re trying to do is deflect attention
away from income and wealth inequality, attention away from the fact that
the rich are doing extraordinarily well, and tell their supporters that the
real problem in America is their children are getting too much help from
the federal government. And that`s the kind of mentality we have got to
fight back against.

SHARPTON: Senator Bernie Sanders, thank you so much for joining us

SANDERS: My pleasure.

SHARPTON: Coming up, the billionaire boys club is gearing up, and it`s not
just the Koch brothers. What politician is meeting a $28 billion donor?

And Mitt Romney thinks President Obama should be able to see the future.
He is making this one too easy. We got you, next.


SHARPTON: Is it just me or have we been seeing a lot more of Mitt Romney
recently? He has been all over the Sunday shows in the last few months. A
little weird, right?

He has also had a big "Wall Street Journal" op-ed last week, going after
President Obama`s handling of the crisis in Ukraine. And he was back on
the attack yesterday.


with regards to Russia and his faulty judgment about Russia`s intentions
and objectives has led to a number of foreign policy challenges that we


SHARPTON: Naivety? What foreign policy expertise does a one-term governor
and twice failed presidential candidate have that the commander in chief
doesn`t? But he wasn`t done there.


ROMNEY: I think effective leaders typically are able to see the future to
a certain degree and then try and take actions to shape it in some way.
And that`s of course what this president has failed to do and his secretary
of state, Hillary Clinton as well.


SHARPTON: Wait a second. Leaders can see the future? Who knew? Forget
diplomacy. All President Obama needs is a crystal ball. I wonder what
would have happened if Mitt Romney had a crystal ball back in 2012. Maybe
his disastrous trip to London when he questioned if the city was ready for
the Olympics wouldn`t have happened.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: It wasn`t the cheery British welcome Mitt
Romney was hoping for.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mitt Romney has turned on the charm during his visit
to Britain by questioning the country`s ability to host the Olympic Games.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: The telegraph fired off this commentary. Mitt
Romney is perhaps the only politician who could start a trip that was
supposed to be a charm offensive by being utterly devoid of charm and
mildly offensive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know
whether we`re ready. He wants to know whether we`re ready. Are we ready?
Are we ready? Yes, we are.


SHARPTON: That overseas trip was tarred by the #Romneyshambles on twitter.
Did Governor Romney think we wouldn`t notice it`s Romney shambles all over
again when he tries to give President Obama foreign policy advice?

But let me give this a try. Let`s look into the "Politics Nation" crystal
ball to see what the future holds for Governor Romney. Wait a minute, I
think I see something. Yes, I have it.

In the near future, I see a nice try. Why? Take a look. Because we got


SHARPTON: Republicans sure do love their billionaires, but they don`t like
to admit it. Here is what Senator Ted Cruz is saying on the campaign


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Let me tell you, the single biggest lie in all
of politics is that Republicans are the party of the rich.


SHARPTON: The GOP is not the party of the rich? Could have fooled me. So
why are Republican presidential contenders lining up to kiss the ring of
the GOP big money men? This week Jeb Bush is having a VIP dinner, with
Vegas tycoon Sheldon Adelson. His net worth? Twenty eight billion
dollars. But the GOP is not the party of the rich. And at a GOP summit
this month, 2016 wanna-be Rick Santorum was introduced by rich mega donor
Foster Friess.

His net worth? Five hundred thirty million dollars. But the GOP is not
the party of the rich. And then there is the Koch Brothers, who are
funding a huge number of group supported GOP candidates and causes. Their
net worth? Thirty six billion dollars. That`s the Republicans` base.
That`s who they care about. And that`s who their policies are designed to

Joining me now are Victoria DeFrancesco Soto and James Peterson. Thank you
both for being here.



SHARPTON: Victoria, are Republicans fooling anyone when they claim they`re
not the party of the rich?

SOTO: Absolutely not, Reverend. Ted Cruz when he says that the
Republicans aren`t the party of the rich isn`t just being disingenuous, he
is also being inaccurate. Because for those folks who are not billionaires
or millionaires who are Republicans, they`re not necessarily Republicans
for economic reasons because Republicans are the party that provides them
greater opportunity. They`re Republicans for cultural reasons, for
religious reasons, whether they`re support gun control or are against
abortion. So, he is being inaccurate there. The Republicans, whether you
like it or not are the party of the Sheldon Adelsons.

SHARPTON: Now you know, Dr. Peterson, Republicans have been more and more
open about praising the Koch Brothers. They used to kind of step back.
But now they`re being more open. Watch this.


REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: I just thank God that there is a
billionaire or two on our side.

CRUZ: The Koch Brothers. Because the two of them have stood up and
expressed their views are subject to vilification and personal attack.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: God bless the Koch Brothers. They are fighting for our


SHARPTON: So they`re openly embracing their love, Dr. Peterson.

PETERSON: Yes, they are. I mean, in some ways some of those candidates
have to do that, Reverend Sharpton, because those candidates -- those
donations make their candidacies viable and possible. You know, when we
look at modern politics, you can see that the wealthy do well under both
Republicans and Democrats. But it`s usually and really only under
democratic administrations where they`re working for in the middle class
tend to do well.

So the policies really bear this out. If you were to ask any of those
candidates or ask Senator Ted Cruz, would he be in favor of reinstating
Glass Steagall or would he be in favor of implementing more regulations
across Wall Street. That would say no. And those are the things that are
largely responsible for the kind of income inequality that we see now in
the 21st century.

SHARPTON: And I think that`s true that you have rich on both sides. But I
think that you see the clear policy on the Republican side of only for the
rich, and almost in many cases of the leadership today holding the poor and
the lower middle class in contempt and distortion.

PETERSON: That`s exactly right.

SHARPTON: For example, Victoria, Congressman Paul Ryan still clings to an
outdated view of who earns the minimum wage. Let me play you what he said.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: The majority of these workers are younger
people just getting in the workforce. I started on a McDonald`s over on
Highway 14 and I-90 making minimum wage when I was a young person. You
know, I waited tables for less than minimum wage.


SHARPTON: Then who would benefit from a minimum wage hike? Average age,
35 years old. Twenty percent have children. Forty four percent have some
college experience. So these aren`t teenagers. They`re adults with
children and education and responsibilities, Victoria.

SOTO: Reverend, I`m always puzzled by the opposition of the Republican
Party to increasing the minimum wage. Because if you let people earn more
money, they`re going to have more money in their pocket. They`re going to
be able to spend it, which means that that`s going to be a boost in growth
for large, medium and small businesses. It also means that families are
not going have to seek out government assistance to make ends meet.

And we know that government assistance is anathema to the GOP. So, let`s
step away from that. Let`s give people the power to earn their own living.
But regrettably, I don`t think we`re going to see any movement at the
federal level. We`re going have to concentrate on the states. And we know
that almost half of the states have already moved forward with this, and
this is really where we`re going to have to keep pressing into the state
and local level for minimum wage increases.

SHARPTON: Now, Dr. Peterson, the Republican Party`s views on income
inequality look at the facts. Sixty nine percent say GOP policies favor
the rich. Sixty six percent says that government should reduce the gap
between the rich and the poor.

PETERSON: That`s right.

SHARPTON: So, this is over two-thirds of the public feel they favor the
rich and two-thirds of the country saying the government should do
something to close the gap.

PETERSON: Absolutely. The public is right here, Rev, for multiple
reasons. One, any time you see a politician arguing against minimum wage
increase or arguing against the living wage, that`s a vote in favor of
income inequality. When you look at the stagnation of wages of the last 20
or 30 years, the increase of executive income in that same time period,
it`s clear that wage increases in the minimum wage is really a living wage,
one way to address those issues.

Victoria is also on point here to say that when we increase the minimum
wage, we actually have the potential to create more jobs because people who
are on the lower end of the economic spectrum will have more disposable
income they put into the economy.


PETERSON: And so, voting in favor of minimum the wage is strong for a lot
of reasons here. And I think when you think against that or you move
against that politically, you`re essentially endorsing income inequality.

SHARPTON: Now how will this play out politically in 2014, Victoria?

SOTO: Well, I think this is where we`re going to see the Democrats really
have an advantage. We know that there are going to be some problems with
the ACA. Republicans are coming out strong. But at the end of the day,
when you talking about how it affects people`s daily lives, the day to day
of a person, I think that income inequality is really going to hit home.
So I think this is going to be the core message that we see in the Senate
and the House.

SHARPTON: Dr. Peterson, before we go, we have to go, you raised about big
money on both sides. And we`ll see that in these campaigns, as we did in
2012. But what is interesting to me is the big donors on the Republican
side are individual billionaires. The ones they complain about that spend
a lot of money on the democratic side were unions. Now, I`ve got my own
feelings on financing of campaigns. But the fact is how do you compare one
billionaire to a union that represents hundreds of thousands of workers and
members? At least they`re speaking for a group. You`re comparing that to
one person and one person`s views. You call that equal?

PETERSON: That`s right. No. There is no comparison, Rev, you`re right.
It`s apples and oranges. And I didn`t mean it`s just an equivalency here
that there is not. Let`s be clear here. What`s happening on the
Republican side is you have these single individual donors who are
essentially purchasing candidates. And they`re doing that by giving a lot
of money into their campaigns and essentially dog-tieing those candidates
to particular kinds of issues. And so, when we`re talking about certain
social issues and certain wedge issues that we see coming from the right,
these big campaign donors, these individuals are able to force those issues
into the sort of campaign discourse.

SHARPTON: That`s right. And nobody votes to decide where their money goes
as in many of these unions where their members have some say so. James
Peterson and Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, thank you for your time tonight.

SOTO: Thanks, Rev.

PETERSON: Thanks, Reverend Sharpton.

SHARPTON: Coming up, the Malaysian prime minister says the missing plane
ended in the Indian Ocean. But many questions remain. We`ll get on those,

And the First Lady Michelle Obama takes a good will trip to China, and the
right takes a trip to freak-out town. Stay with us.


SHARPTON: Today after 17 days of searching, Malaysia`s prime minister
delivered devastating news to families of passengers aboard Malaysia
Airlines Flight 370.


NAJIB RAJAK, MALAYSIAN PRIME MINISTER: This is a remote location, far from
any possible landing sites. It is therefore with deep sadness and regret
that I must inform you that according to this new data, flight MH 370 ended
in the Southern Indian Ocean.


SHARPTON: He went on to say new analysis never before used showed the
flight`s last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of
Perth, Australia, and far away from any possible landing sites. A text
message sent to the families prior to the news conference said they had to
assume beyond any reasonable doubt that the plane was lost and that no one
survived. It was heartbreaking news for the families. And today the
question is still why. Why did it happen? Why did the flight go so far
off course? And will we ever find out what happened?

Joining me now is Jay Rollins, a retired American airlines captain and Bob
Hager, who covered aviation for NBC News for 25 years. Thank you both for
coming on the show tonight.



SHARPTON: Bob, now that investigators are sure the plane went down in the
Indian Ocean, how do they now find the black box and the flight recorder?

HAGER: Well, this was just a mathematical calculation based on the
satellite data. They`ve got to find pieces of the wreckage. If they`re in
the right area now where they`re getting some of these piecing already. I
mean, they`re seeing them, but they`re not confirming that there are pieces
of the plane yet because they haven`t got on top of it and they can`t fish
them up. But if they find out that these really came from the plane, then
you have to trace back the currents and calculate where the plane might
have originally hit the water. And that`s where the majority of the
wreckage would be, only down on the bottom of the sea. And then you got to
listen for a pinging noise when you get in that area to try to lead you to
the flight dater recorder, cockpit voice recorder and send down a little
unmanned sub if you get the pinging noise and pull it up.

SHARPTON: Jay, if it went down in a catastrophic way, are you surprised
that we`re not seeing more debris?

ROLLINS: No, I`m not surprised about that, because these seas are very,
very rough. The weather is perennially bad, and most of the heavy parts of
the airplane would have fallen, sunk down to the bottom. The only debris
that they`re likely to find would be the lighter things like wooden pallets
or seat cushions, smaller pieces.

SHARPTON: How would they find out how far it`s drifted, Bob?

HAGER: Well, they have computer modeling, like the Oceanographic Institute
at Woods Hole is very good with this kind of thing, they did it in a big
crash five years ago. But computer modeling is computer modeling, you
know. It`s not exact. So, that`s still not certain it will take you back
to the right place. And you`ve got to get awful close if you have any hope
of hearing this pinging noise from the submerged black boxes.

SHARPTON: Now, you know, if they can`t find the black box before the
signal dies, how does this search continue, Jay?

ROLLINS: Well, if they can`t find the black box, but they are able to find
pieces of debris that they can absolutely say came from that aircraft, we
at least will be able to eliminate some of the theories that called for the
aircraft going to the north. We`ll know that we`ve found the location of
the aircraft, and they`ll make every effort to pull up whatever they can
from the sea floor.

SHARPTON: Now, Bob, there were reports the plane dove to 12,000 feet after
making the turn. What does that tell you?

HAGER: Well, that`s a standard procedure if you`ve got a decompression to
try to get the plane down low to where people can breathe the ambient air.
But these are, I mean, this is not official yet. So, all this kind of
nefarious and not proven and we don`t really know. I think basically it
comes down the either mayhem in the cockpit, foul play, or a mechanical
problem in which case I think my own opinion, probably a decompression of
some kind.

SHARPTON: Jay, do you think there was a decompression?

ROLLINS: A decompression to me is not as likely as perhaps some sort of
noxious fumes getting into the cockpit. Because a decompression wouldn`t
explain why they did precisely what they did. When they went down to
12,000 feet, another thing we should consider is that the range would have
been reduced considerably. And I`m not exactly certain that that has been
taken into account when they talk about how far the aircraft would have
gone. Originally they said that it was altitude, and that it went for
about six hours.


ROLLINS: And so this location they`re searching now would coordinate,
comply with that idea. But now if they`re saying that it`s down to 12,000
feet, it wouldn`t have been able to go as long and as far and as fast.

SHARPTON: Bottom-line, let me ask you both quickly, do you think we`ll
ever get the answer to this mystery?

HAGER: Well, I think it`s based on whether they can find where the main
wreckage went down. If they don`t locate that fairly soon, then I think
there is a real possibility, that`s almost unprecedented, but that we
really wouldn`t know.


ROLLINS: I agree. The debris, finding that debris, finding this aircraft
is the root of all of this. We can`t make final determinations what
happened without finding the aircraft. Either it went to the south and
it`s in the ocean some place, which suggests that there was some sort of a
mechanical problem of which there could be many, or it is not there at all.
And if it`s not there, if they`re not able to pull up any debris that is
positively from the aircraft, then the Malaysian authorities will be having
egg on their face because they basically have told the surviving families
that your relatives are dead and they`re here.

SHARPTON: Jay Rollins and Bob Hager, thank you both for your time.

ROLLINS: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, a Republican congressman said there is no voter
suppression because he didn`t have trouble voting. We`ll dissect that

And the first lady is having a great time on her good will trip to China.
Which of course means the right wing just can`t help but attacking her.
That`s next.


SHARPTON: It`s day four of the First Lady Michelle Obama`s good will tour
of China. This weekend, she talked about free speech to college students
in Beijing. The first lady and her daughters also took a walk along
China`s great wall. Today they headed to Xian to see the famous Terracotta
warriors. And while visiting the Xian city wall, she literally kicked off
her heels to jump rope with a group of local teenagers. The First Lady is
putting her special touch of public diplomacy through this trip. But of
course no first family trip is complete until you hear this.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Michelle, she is now playing ping-pong,
that`s right, ping-pong on a taxpayer-funded vacation in China right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The Obama ladies having a grand old time. I hope
they`re enjoying themselves because you are paying a fortune for this.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: They`re claiming that it is a
cultural exchange so that it can be build to the government. And there
isn`t any media, so we don`t know what is being exchanged. And we don`t
know what is being brought back. You know, cultural exchange works both
ways. I mean, are they going to leave Michelle`s mom in China as part of
the exchange?


SHARPTON: It`s ugly and mean-spirited talk, attacking a first lady for
good will tour? Where was outrage in 2002 when Laura Bush went to Europe
with her daughters? I might add there is absolutely nothing wrong with
this trip. Here is an idea for those right wingers. Take your own
overseas trip. Go, enjoy yourself, sight see, learn about other cultures,
and maybe come back with a change of heart.


SHARPTON: Finally tonight, some insight on how Republicans think about
voter ID. Just check out what Florida Congressman Ron DeSantis said last


REP. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: I`ve always done the photo ID whenever I
voted and never had a problem with it.


SHARPTON: He has never had a problem with photo ID. So that means it`s
not an issue for anybody else, right? Wrong. There are lots of voter ID
examples too, like Viviette Applewhite, she`s the 93-year-old woman who was
denied after voting for 70 years. And Dorothy Cooper, she`s the 96-year-
old who was denied voter ID because she didn`t have her marriage license.
The attack on voting rights is specific and not fair. And there is no
denying who it affects the most. Surveys show that voter ID
disproportionately affects women, minorities, disabled, low income voters,
and students.

The congressman didn`t have problems voting. Neither did most people until
you change the ID laws that were unnecessary to change. So why don`t we
keep the ID where it was, rather than these bogus attempts to try to look
for a problem that is not there. And solve it with something that`s

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


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