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PoliticsNation, Friday, March 28th, 2014

Read the transcript from the Friday show

March 28, 2014

Guests: Lis Smith; Jim McDermott, Angela Rye, E.J. Dionne, Joan Walsh, Joe

Schultz. "Politics Nation" with Reverend Al Sharpton starts right now.

Good evening, Rev.

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

Tonight`s lead, breaking news in the Chris Christie bridge scandal. One
day after his office internal review cleared the governor of any
wrongdoing, Christie faced reporters in his first news conference in 76
days. In a combative hour-long Q&A, Christie insisted this report was the
truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: It`s an exhaustive report that
follows the mandate that I set out when we commissioned the review. One
thing was clear from the beginning. I told them to find the truth no
matter where it led and to turn over every rock that they were able to get
to in order to get to the bottom of what happened.


SHARPTON: The report was exhaustive except it failed to talk to many of
the key players in the scandal, including David Samson, the chairman of the
agency overseeing the George Washington bridge.

At today`s press conference, the governor said Samson was resigning.


CHRISTIE: I received a call from David Samson who informed me that after
reviewing the master report, that he completely supports the
recommendations laid out for the port authority, and that he believes the
best way to start a new year at the port authority is with new leadership.
In line with that belief, David tendered his resignation to me this
afternoon, effective immediately.


SHARPTON: Christie says David Samson completely supports the findings of
the report. But Samson declined to cooperate with it, and he declined to
talk to the investigators.

Christie was also asked about Bridget Kelly, who the report paints as one
of the two key players in the bridge lane closures.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Do you think the report was fair to her?
And what did you think of the descriptions?

CHRISTIE: I think the report laid out the facts as the investigators found
them. And however anybody wants to interpret those is up to your
particular interpretation. Anything you ask me, which asks me to speculate
on what David Wildstein was thinking or what Bridget Kelly was thinking,
I`m not going to answer because I don`t know.


SHARPTON: He`s not going to speculate? Except yesterday`s report seemed
to do exactly that. It said Kelly`s personal life may have had some
bearing on her subjective motivations and state of mind, and that she
seemed emotional. It even revealed that Kelly and former Christie campaign
manager Bill Stepien became personally involved, although their personal
relationship had cooled apparently at Stepien`s choice.

There`s been a lot of criticism about those very private details in this
very public report. But today, Christie said the scandal has taken a toll
on him.


CHRISTIE: There is no question that this shakes your confidence. And if
it doesn`t shake your confidence, then you`re arrogant. I mean, you know,
some people that I trusted and relied upon let me down.


SHARPTON: Governor Christie gave a lot of answers today, but many, many
questions still remain in this ongoing scandal.

Joining me now is former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell and Liz Smith, a
Democratic consultant who worked for former New Jersey governor Jon

Thank you both for being on the show tonight.



SHARPTON: Governor Rendell, with David Samson`s resignation, three of
Christie`s appointees at the port authority have stepped down. The scandal
is real and it`s taking its toll, isn`t it?

RENDELL: No question. And it`s done political damage to the governor.
And this report isn`t going to do anything to stop that political damage.

The taxpayers of New Jersey wasted a million dollars of their money to this
law firm which did nothing to vindicate governor Christie because the five
most important people who really knew what was going on, Samson, Senator
Baroni, and of course Bridget Kelly, Stepien, and Wildstein, they didn`t
talk to them.


RENDELL: So how can they say it`s a report? The five most important
people who were crucial, who knew who ordered it, who knew what about what
was going on, they didn`t speak to them. It`s a joke, this report.

SHARPTON: Liz, the governor says it`s a joke. Christie was asked if the
report was fair to the women at the center of it, Bridget Kelly and Hoboken
mayor Dawn Zimmer. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: This report gets a lot into the emotional
state of Bridget Kelly and Dawn Zimmer. It says that things going on in
Kelly`s personal life may have affected her. Do you think this report was
fair to the women that it talks about? Because it kind of shows a
different side of them that we don`t see from the men?

CHRISTIE: I see that the only reason for that is that they didn`t get
testimony or documentary evidence which gave them a window into the
emotional side of those folks. I don`t think there is any other reason why
that would have occurred.


SHARPTON: In this whole report, Lis, the only ones they dealt with the
emotions and their motives and whether they could handle things was the two

SMITH: Right.

SHARPTON: How do you respond to that?

SMITH: Well, I think it`s the biggest news out of this is that Chris
Christie spent a million dollars on a study to absolve him of his
reputation as a bully and all it did --

SHARPTON: Well, he had the taxpayers of New Jersey spend the money.

SMITH: Yes, right.

SHARPTON: This is all taxpayer money. Chris Christie is not spending a

SMITH: Right, right. All it did Sundays score his long record of bullying
people in New Jersey and also the culture of intimidation that reigns
supreme in Trenton.

And you know, I worked in New Jersey. And I saw some of this stuff
firsthand. And I think one of the most instructive stories, and I believe
you covered at the time, Reverend, was what he did to State Senator Loretta
Weinberger a few years ago when he encouraged the New Jersey press to,
quote, "take a bat out on Loretta Weinberg."

She was a 76-year-old widowed state senator who dare to take a pension.
Why was she taking a pension? Because she lost her life savings in the
Madoff scandal. And that tells you everything you need to know about
Governor Christie and his attitudes towards women.

SHARPTON: And Bridget Kelly is a single mom of four.

SMITH: Right.

SHARPTON: I mean, Governor, when you look at this, according to "The New
York Times," Bridget Kelly`s lawyer is responding to the Christie internal
report. He calls it venomous and gratuitous with inappropriate sexist

Kelly`s lawyer also says if Miss Kelly were provided with the appropriate
procedural safeguards, she will be fully cooperative.

Now, when he says will be fully cooperative, he doesn`t say to who she
would be cooperative. Is he talking about the state or the feds? We don`t
know. But he really hit this report as sexist and inappropriate. And he
put out there given the right safeguards, she`ll be cooperative.

RENDELL: Yes. There is no question in my mind, Rev., what is going on
here. The report and the governor have been trashing Wildstein and Bridget
Kelly from the beginning. Because they`re preparing for the day that
Wildstein and Bridget Kelly do get immunity and say that Governor Christie
either authorized this traffic closure or knew about it and didn`t do
anything to stop it.

So they`re trashing them now. They paint Wildstein as being unbalanced.
Now Bridget Kelly is emotional, and she is unbalanced. They`re creating
the atmosphere so they can say, you know, these two people are just talking
to save their own skin. They`re unbalanced. You can`t trust them. And
that`s what this is all about. I have no doubt about it at all.

SHARPTON: Now, Lis, you talked about the governor being a bully, a known
for being a bully.

SMITH: Right.

SHARPTON: His tone was definitely different today than it was the humble
kind of laid back person we saw 76 days ago when he did a press conference.
He was repeatedly combative with reporters. Listen to this.


CHRISTIE: Stop. You have to get the facts right if you`re going to ask me
a question. It`s nice that you eventually got to the question. But
premise of the question is so infirmed that I`m not answering it. Why
don`t you get to the question and cut the commentary back.

I don`t know whether you can`t take notes or you`re not listening. I would
love to say I missed you, but I didn`t.


SHARPTON: I mean, does this sound like the man that the report said was
welling up with tears when he was hearing about this?

SMITH: Right. And you`ll note in that clip when he says stop, like he is
talking to a child. He said that to an accomplished female reporter. And
this is just his typical style. It`s all bullying, all the time. And I
think it`s indicative of how he`s -- of the culture that he created in
Trenton that allowed these bridge lane closures to go through. And I do
think it`s indicative of how he views women.

SHARPTON: Is he trying to, Governor, I mean you are probably one of the
most skilled politicians in the country. Is he trying to go back to try to
make this is over, I`m back to Christie and to try to send a public signal
to let`s move on now? Is that what he`s doing?

RENDELL: Sure. He is trying to get back to the old persona of the
swashbuckling guy who doesn`t take any grief from anybody and who can stare
down anybody because he wants to impress Republican givers starting with
Sheldon Adelson.

SHARPTON: Wait. He is on way to Vegas to meet.

SMITH: Right.

RENDELL: Right. But it`s not going to work, Rev. Because, as Larry
Sabato said, the fellow from the political scientist, the voters aren`t
going to buy this report. They know it was bought and paid for, and they
know it`s a whitewash. It`s not a vindication. It can`t be considered a
serious report when you don`t talk to the five most important people in
this entire scheme.

SHARPTON: Now, Lis, the Christie we saw today said he would love to know
what Bridget Kelly`s motivation was, but he certainly didn`t seem
interested back on January 9th when he fired her.

SMITH: Right.

SHARPTON: Listen to what he said today and then what he said back then.


CHRISTIE: I hope someday to have an answer to why it was done. But I
certainly don`t have a crystal ball, and I can`t tell you if or when I`ll
ever know. But do I hope to after all this? You bet I hope to.

Have I -- I have not had any conversation with Bridget Kelly since the e-
mail came out. I`m quite frankly not interested in the explanation at the


SHARPTON: Not interested in the explanation at the moment. I would love
to find out. Will the real Christie please stand and explain to me the
difference either strategically, because you worked with Corzine, you know
politicians, or legally.

SMITH: Well, I mean, I think there probably was a legal reason why he
didn`t ask -- why he said he didn`t ask her for a reason. But what I saw
today was that he clearly doesn`t have an answer down. And he is sending
out a lot of mixed messages. And it indicates to me that he is not being

SHARPTON: All right. I`m going to have to leave there it. We`ll be
watching as this develops.

Governor Ed Rendell and Lis Smith, thank you both for your time this

RENDELL: Thanks, Rev. Have a nice weekend.

SHARPTON: You as well.

Coming up, six million and count do you think to the wire for the
affordable care act. And the right attacks keep coming.

And look out, Vegas. Here comes Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Scott Walker,
and John Kasich. We go inside their sin city visit with billionaire mega
donor Scott Adelson.

First lady Michelle Obama`s good will tour of China is over, but the
conservative whining over presidential vacations is just getting started.
Their trip to reality is coming.

And he once called the president a subhuman mongrel. Now Ted Nugent is
talking about Rosa Parks? Stay with us.


SHARPTON: Six million are coming, and we`re three days to enroll in health
care plans, House Republicans are bringing in a special guest to help
repeal it. One who recently compared the law that is saving lives to
slavery. That`s next.


SHARPTON: We`re just three days away from the deadline to enroll in health
care plans, and already six million Americans have signed up, with more
than a million people visiting every day so far this week.
But the right is attacking right down to the wire.

Today "The New York Times" reports the state of health care under the
national law depends almost entirely on where a person lives. Some state
exchanges are great. Others have major problems. But even worse is the
sabotage we`ve seen from the right.

Take what has happened in Texas. According to the times in Texas,
political opposition to President Obama`s health law is so strong that some
residents believe erroneously that the program is banned in their state.

Texans actually think the affordable care act is banned? That`s what
happens when you have your senator shutting down the government over health
care. And your governor refuses to cover his own constituents.

And in Washington, House Republicans are still calling for a repeal
claiming they`ll come up with their own health care plan. Guess who is
going to help them? According to one conservative blog, FOX News
contributor Dr. Ben Carson. Remember what he said about the health care


DR. BEN CARSON, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Obamacare is really, I think, the
worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery. And it is in a
way, it is slavery.


SHARPTON: The GOP is getting policy advice from the guy who called the
health care law slavery? This law is not perfect, but it`s working, and
it`s past time for Republicans to admit it.

Joining me now is Congressman Jim McDermott. Thank you for being here.

REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D), WASHINGTON: It`s good to be here.

SHARPTON: Congressman, six million people, six million enrolled and
Republicans are still trying to undermine the law right to the end. When
will they give up?

MCDERMOTT: I don`t think they ever will, Al. You remember six months ago,
they were ready to bury the health care law and put a stone on it and that
was the end of it. And here we are six months later, six million people
have enrolled all over and various places in the country.

There are a lot of places, as you point out, that are really suffering
under terrible political leadership -- Texas, Florida, places like that
where the governor has refused to be a part of this. They`re denying
health care to their people. I mean, there has got to be 700 or 800,000
people in Texas who be eligible for health care coverage. But their
governor says no, it`s banned in Texas. What kind of craziness is that?

SHARPTON: You know, the health care law isn`t perfect, but we can fix the
problems that exists. You know, "The Times" said today Connecticut has
successfully enrolled so many patients that officials are offering to sell
their expertise to states like Maryland which is struggling to sign people
up for coverage. Isn`t this what we need, fixing problems, not attacking
the whole law, Congressman?

MCDERMOTT: Well, you know, about a year ago, I had a conversation with
Bill Frist who was the Republican head of the Senate some years ago.

SHARPTON: And a doctor.

MCDERMOTT: And he said to me, Jim, we ought to repeal -- no, we shouldn`t
repeal, we should repair. We should fix the law. That`s where we ought to

SHARPTON: You know, Congressman, enrollment started off slowly in October
before, picking up in December, and especially this month. When you look
at the numbers as we`ve put on the ground. And congressman, your
Republican colleagues love trashing the law when the enrollment numbers
were low. Listen.


another day in a series of mess ups in Obamacare.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Obamacare isn`t working and it`s time to start

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People did not sign up for Obamacare like they needed

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A mere 100,000 registered for health care on the new
marketplace. This disastrous law was destined to fail from the start.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: It will be interesting to
continue to observe our Democratic friends come to grips with the reality
that everything the critics of Obamacare said about it are in fact coming


SHARPTON: Now, that`s when the enrollment was low. Now you`re getting a
million and more going on the live sites every day. You`ve got six
million. The goal was six million. You have six million with three days
left. Nobody knows how much is going to go. I`m sure your Republican
colleagues are just celebrating how these numbers have gone through the
roof and they`ve achieved their goal.

MCDERMOTT: They are fit to be tied, actually, Al. They don`t know what to
do. Because now going into the election, all they have done is oppose
something that more and that six million people have said that`s exactly
what we`ve wanted. We`ve been waiting for this. And they`re in a real
tough spot because what can they say now? Well, we agree with President
Obama? No. They can`t say that. So they really don`t I know where to go.
They do not know where to go at this point.

SHARPTON: You know, when you get past the politics of congressman, the
real deal is the people that are involved, the people that need the help.
And every day we hear more stories of real people benefiting from the law.
Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Brandon Hayes calls his recent trip to the ER
an expensive disaster. He can`t wait to get his very own insurance card.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It would be like a total relief for me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: She is paying about $30 a month for
insurance. The rest of her premium is covered by a federal subsidy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: For the first time, 20-year-old Christian Cruz
is signing up for health.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: In has been uninsured for five years and was
afraid she wouldn`t be able to afford the health care premiums. But found
out she was actually eligible for help.


SHARPTON: You know, the real question is what do Republicans want to do
for these kinds of people? I mean, they want them to just lose their

MCDERMOTT: You know, that`s what is interesting about this whole thing,
Al, is they`re now saying well, we have our plan. We`re ready to roll our
plan out. One, two, three, four years they haven`t rolled their plan out.
And now finally when the president`s plan is a success, they want to roll
their plan out and repeal the president`s.

It is simply nonsense. They do not have any answer to people who have
already preexisting conditions, all the people whose kids have been on
their plan because they`re under 26 who have run over their lifetime
limits, and they now have a relief from that. They have all kinds of
people who have benefited from this law. I could give you a list as long
as my arm as the people of the state of Washington who a year ago were in
serious trouble.


MCDERMOTT: And now they`re taken care of. And it`s gone on all over the
country. And the Republicans have no answer whatsoever.

SHARPTON: Congressman Jim McDermott, thank you for your time tonight, and
have a great weekend.

MCDERMOTT: Same to you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, it`s "American idol" for GOP hopefuls and this $38
billion man is judging. Inside the so-called Adelson primary in Las Vegas.

And are we closer to finding the Malaysia airlines plane? A potential
major sighting today.

And why is Ted Nugent talking about Rosa Parks? Stay with us.


SHARPTON: Many on the right are vilifying the poor, people who need
government assistance are takers, food stamp recipients, takers, folks on
welfare, takers. And who do they take from? The rich, the makers.


decrease the number of makers in society and increase the number of takers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Are we teaching our kids to be takers instead
of makers?

LOU DOBBS, FOX NEWS HOST: A special series called entitlement nation,
makers very takers.

RYAN: You become a society where the net majority of Americans are takers,
not makers.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: This is an election of the makers
versus the takers.

RYAN: We`re getting more and more takers than makers in America.


SHARPTON: Makers versus takers. You`ve heard so many conservatives use
that term. But maybe the party that brought you the 47 percent should be
looking in its own backyard. A new study indicates GOP states are the most
dependent on the government. This map is a little complicated, but what it
comes down to is this.

All is the green states are the least dependent on the federal government
while the red states take the most from Uncle Sam. Notice a pattern? Most
of the taker states are conservative leaning. The study ranks states from
the most to the least dependent. Red states had an average ranking of 33
while blue states had an average ranking of 19. The states where
Republicans rail against government handouts are the ones with their hands
out the most. I wonder what Paul Ryan and company would have to say about

Did they think we wouldn`t notice their poor logic makes no sense? Nice
try but take this one because we got you.



ANNOUNCER: Time for a special addition of the GOP`s lifestyles of the
rich and shameless. From the luxurious Venetian Casino in the heart of Las
Vegas, which lucky republican will hit the jackpot with casino billionaire
Sheldon Adelson? Let`s roll the dice tonight with your host, the Reverend
Al Sharpton.


evening and welcome to the GOP`s lifestyles of the rich and shameless.
This weekend four of the GOP`s top presidential wanna-be`s, Jeb Bush, Chris
Christie, Scott Walker, and John Kasich are gathering in Vegas for a little
meet and greet with big money man Sheldon Adelson. He`s the eighth richest
man in the world. Worth $38 billion. He spent $98 million to support
republicans in the last election. And now he is looking for another
contender to support in 2016.

Inviting them to his casino for a weekend filled with golf outs, a
poker tournament, scotch tastings, and, of course, a VIP dinner at
Adelson`s private airplane hangar. That pretty much sums up the GOP brand
right? Golf, scotch, and corporate jets. But what is really revealing
here is how important billionaires like Adelson have become to the party.
For the GOP, it`s not about the millions of people voting in elections.
It`s about rich guys who spend millions on elections. And that`s not

Joining me now are Angela Rye and E.J. Dionne. Thank you both for
your time.


E.J. DIONNE, THE WASHINGTON POST: Good to be with you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: E.J., it is as important for these Republicans to win over
billionaires as it is to win over voters?

DIONNE: Yes, is the short answer to that question. I do want to give
Sheldon Adelson one thing, which is he had the best sound bite for a
gambling mogul who spent a lot on politics. He said I don`t mind when I
lose. There is always a new hand coming up. And it`s easy to say that
when you have $38 billion worth of chips. But I think this is really very
distressing what is happening to our system. My colleague, Dan Balz of
"The Washington Post" said it`s exactly staff like the Sheldon primary,
which people are calling it that makes people feel shut out of politics.
And it really has a corrosive effect on public confidence in government.
There is something wrong with presidential candidates going to a very rich
person and say oh, gee, please, will you spend $90 million to elect me. I
think that bothers a lot of people. And not just Liberals or Democrats.

SHARPTON: You know, Angela, there is a good thing Adelson said what
E.J. said that he doesn`t mind losing. Because he has made some bad bets.
He backed Newt Gingrich in the 2012 GOP primary and newt lost. Then he
backed Mitt Romney in the general election and Romney lost too. I mean,
does money only take you so far if the voters reject the candidate or the

RYE: Well, absolutely, Rev. I think the other thing that you have to
look at here is during this particular Sheldon primary you have four
individuals, one that is a former governor, but three of these folks
hailing from states that worked very diligently to keep folks in traffic at
the polls so that they would not vote. With all the suppressive measures
coming from the states that I just mentioned, then you also have Bridgegate
governor who is working very diligently to keep people in traffic that
cross him in the wrong way. So he does need to hedge his bets. But I
would really encourage him to think about hedging his bets on policies that
help to make America a better place for all Americans and not just a safe
place for him to gamble with American lives.

SHARPTON: Now, you know, something, E.J. That was striking to me, a
number of conservative TV ads have aired so far in the 2014 election. But
the Koch Brothers backed Americans for prosperity group has aired 17,000 TV
ads. Official Republican Party groups have only aired 2100 ads combined.
I mean, a billionaire like the Koch Brothers almost more important now than
the actual Republican Party?

DIONNE: Again, I think the answer to that is yes too. And I think
that the effect of these ads is not just Republicans versus Democrats.
These are having a real effect on the Republican Party itself. Today I was
talking to a democratic senator, and we were talking about climate change.
And this senator noted that five or six years ago, a lot of Republicans
were willing to say climate change is real, and we have to do something
about it.


DIONNE: And with the Koch Brothers and people who think the way they
do intervening in these Republican primaries, most Republicans have now
fallen silent on this issue. And I think that`s one of many examples where
money has a real impact on the outcomes of public policy.

SHARPTON: You know, Angela, check out Senator Ted Cruz`s new talking
point on the campaign trail. Check this out.


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: Now what would give any of us that idea, Angela?

RYE: Rev, I don`t know. They seem like they don`t have any money
whatsoever. I mean, Ted Cruz is crazy. You know, it`s very clear whether
it`s the tax breaks that they so diligently seek or Eric Cantor just last
week talking about, you know, there are thousands of families that will be
struggling to pay their heat bill and this is why we need to continue to
deregulate policy for energy companies. I mean, it`s insane. There is
absolutely nothing about their party that says we`re looking out for the
little guy. They`re only looking out for the big guy in the yacht, in the
private jet, at the hangar having the dinner, at the Sheldon primary.
They`re not looking out for the little guy, Ted Cruz. Come on now.

SHARPTON: Well, E.J., remember what billionaire Tom Perkins said last
month about how the rich should have more votes. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The Tom Perkins system is you don`t get to vote
unless you pay a dollar of taxes. But what I really think is it should be
like a corporation. If you pay a million dollars in taxes, you could get a
million votes. How is that?



SHARPTON: Is that amazing or not?

DIONNE: That is plutocracy, not democracy. You know, I was thinking
here listening to this, one of the great old new deal slogans was if you
want to live like a republican, vote democratic. And I think this notion
that, you know, the rich who live very well and drink that scotch tend to
be on the Republican side. But we used to have property requirements to
vote. And it was a great democratic, small d democratic advance that we
got rid of them. And it`s astonishing 200 years later that there are some
people out there who want to bring back those old days which in my view
weren`t the good old days.

SHARPTON: Wow. E.J. Dionne and Angela Rye. Thank you for your time
tonight. Have a great weekend.

DIONNE: Have a great weekend, Reverend.

RYE: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Coming up, it`s being called a suspicious object. But is
the part -- is this part of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane?

And the First Lady`s good will tour of China is over. But the right
wing media complex never takes a vacation from their attacks. That`s next.


SHARPTON: First Lady Michelle Obama`s good will tour of China this
week was a huge success. She put her special touch on diplomacy throughout
the trip. One Chinese official even said there is Michelle fever in China.
But many on the right were on fire in a different way.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Michelle, if she`s not playing ping-
pong, that`s right, ping-pong on a taxpayer-funded vacation in China right

MARK LEVIN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: 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: There isn`t any media, so we
don`t know what`s being exchanged. And we don`t know what is being brought
back. You know, cultural exchange works both ways. I mean, they`re going
to leave Michelle`s mom in China as part of the exchange?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It`s not their money. It`s very easy to spend
other people`s money. It`s not their money.

HANNITY: They seem so out of touch.


SHARPTON: Well, the First Lady`s trip is over, but there is no
vacation from complaining from some on the right. A new report on
presidential vacations is out from the judicial watch organization, and
it`s all over the conservative blogs. Are you ready for this bombshell?
President Obama`s Hawaii and Africa trip cost nearly $16 million for
flights alone. Wow. Air Force is expensive. But are they saying the
presidents shouldn`t travel? Well, then it`s a good thing President George
W. Bush never took a vacation. And it`s a good thing his father, Bush 41
also stayed at the White House at all times. And it`s a really good thing
President Reagan was never out of the beltway. But bashing the President`s
time away is par for the course these days.


HANNITY: Then he is off to Martha`s Vineyard for a vacation and the
mere mortals are upset because the roads are closed.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: He went to Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania.
Judicial watch comes up with $15 million for that trip.

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: That`s another con. We pay for the
fundraising trips because he does a little business. And then he goes and
raise as lot of money.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: President Obama is about to leave for a 17-day trip
to Hawaii.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Oh do, you blame him?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yes. This is occupy Oahu.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: This is the royal presidency. The President went
to Las Vegas, West Palm Beach, Israel, Jordan, Miami, three times San
Francisco, L.A., Mexico, Puerto Rico, Palm Springs.


SHARPTON: Oh, no, a president who travels. Some on the right will
use any excuse to go after this president. But this vacation from reality
needs a one-way ticket home.

Joining me now, Joan Walsh and Joe Madison. Thank you for coming on
this show.



SHARPTON: You know, Joan, all presidents make international trips and
go on vacation. I mean, it is the height of a double standard and is just
ugly, it`s nasty. Not only have we seen them criticize this president, but
they talked about his wife, his daughters, his mother-in-law. I mean,
there is no level of decency at all with this.

WALSH: No. I mean, first of all, I`m proud to have a president who
likes to travel overseas. I`m proud to have a first lady who is an asset
to the country and who creates Michelle fever when she travels. I`m really
happy that we have a larger than average first family. We have two school
aged girls, and we also have a grandmother who helps raise the children.
These are family values. I thought these people were about family values.
The Obama family values happen to involve traveling together as a family
unit a lot of the time there is nothing wrong with it. As you have made
the point many times, Rev, I think George Bush in his first term took four
times as many vacation days as President Obama did. So there is nothing --

SHARPTON: And none of them were complaining about it.

WALSH: Never, never.

SHARPTON: In fact, Joe, the so-called study this week said President
Obama was the most well traveled, expensive president in history through
five years. Only there is barely any difference the time two presidents
spent overseas. President George W. Bush had spent 116 days abroad by this
point in his presidency. President Barack Obama has spent 119 days. Three
days. Three days. And it`s a good thing that he`s well traveled for that

MADISON: Well, thank God for POLITICS NATION and the statistics that
you just show because I didn`t know, that man. And I`m so glad that you`re
showing that comparison. And let me speak to something else that they did
while in China. Not only the family value aspect, but she, Michelle Obama,
even talked about the importance of freedom of speech.

WALSH: Right.

MADISON: And how African-Americans had to fight to overcome. Now,
imagine, you`re in China. You`re in a communist country. And you`re
talking to students about the importance of having freedom. And as an
African-American we had to overcome just like you may have to overcome.
Oh, they don`t report that. And they don`t report that the people have
even equated the weather. They`re having great weather. And they said
that`s an omen. Because that shows us this is a country now in love with
this lady. And finally, I`m old enough to remember when Jacqueline Kennedy
went to Paris and the world went crazy, even to the point the president
said I`m here escorting Jacqueline Kennedy. Please.

SHARPTON: And the United States paid for it all. We do that for
presidents, and we should. And we never complained before. But they keep
spinning, Joan, that President Obama is vacationing. Take a look at the
comparison. Through four and a half years into their presidencies, so far
President Obama, that`s last August, President Obama had spent 92 days on
vacation. President George W. Bush had spent 367 days on vacation.

WALSH: A full year. A full year that must be -- that must be a nice
job where you spend a year out of four on vacation.

MADISON: My goodness.

SHARPTON: I mean, the hypocrisy. And Rush Limbaugh even used
President Obama`s visit to the pope with Pope Francis yesterday to slam the
president`s vacations. Listen to this, Joan.


LIMBAUGH: President Obama met with Pope Francis for 52 minutes in the
Vatican. Obama didn`t intend to show up there. He looked at the word
quickly and thought it said vacation. And when they were pulling up to St.
Peters, Obama said what, what, what are we doing here? Sir, you said you
wanted to come to the Vatican. No, no, I said vacation.


SHARPTON: You would think if he didn`t have respect for this
president, he would at least respect for the Vatican and the Pope.

MADISON: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I guess he didn`t plan to go.
That`s why they exchanged gifts with each other. What, he just, what?
Pulled a bottle of wine out of the Air Force One or something? I mean,
this is absurd. You`ve got to be absolutely the dumbest person walking the
face of the earth if you buy this. But here is what they`ll do. Oh, he is
just joking. He is just having fun. Look, we know what he is doing. And
the reality is that when the president travels, particularly when he did
the African trip, that was about business.


MADISON: That was about business.

WALSH: Right.

MADISON: That was about business. We are show -- our show even got a
call from Air Force One. It`s business.

SHARPTON: It was about trade.


SHARPTON: But the thing that really has me, Joan, really very, very,
very outraged by this, it`s fine. The president, if you want to attack him
and you`re obsessed with him, fine.

WALSH: Right.

SHARPTON: But we`re not starting them hearing him attacking his
daughters and his mother-in-law.

MADISON: Oh, no.

SHARPTON: We have never seen that I have protested many presidents
and probably will protest others if I disagree.

WALSH: Right.

SHARPTON: And I have disagreed with this president on some things,
that Guantanamo Bay and others. But to talk about a man`s mother-in-law, a
sitting president who is on a trip that can help this country with trade
and understanding? This is below the dignity of anybody that should be
talking in public.

WALSH: The disrespect really knows no bounds, and we`re learning that
every day to suggest that they leave the First Lady`s mother behind. But
also, can you imagine if the president hadn`t gone to the Vatican? If he
had been in Rome and he disrespected the pope by not showing up there? It
was a wonderful meeting. The Pope is an incredibly important global
leader. He is going to come to this country. It was a wonderful moment
that Rush Limbaugh had to make jokes about it.

SHARPTON: Joan Walsh, Joe Madison, I`m going have to leave it there.

MADISON: Have a great weekend.

SHARPTON: Thank you both for your time. Have a great weekend.

WALSH: Thanks, Rev.

MADISON: You too, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Straight ahead, why is Ted Nugent talking about Rosa Parks?
Stay with us.


SHARPTON: Developing news tonight in the search for missing Malaysia
Airlines Flight 370. Authorities abandoned their search in the South
Indian Ocean, moving the search nearly 700 miles northeast. Today five
planes searching the new area spotted multiple objects of various colors
floating in the water. Chinese state broadcaster CCTV tweeted out this
picture of a reported suspicious object spotted by a New Zealand military
plane. NBC News could not independently verify the image. We`ll continue
to follow this story for the latest developments in the search.


SHARPTON: Finally tonight, it`s time for conservatives to stop
distorting the legacy of civil rights in order to promote their own agenda.
NRA board member Ted Nugent is the latest offender. He just wrote a column
saying, quote, "My hero, Rosa Parks, refused to give up her seat on a city
bus." Gun-owners must learn from Rosa Parks and definitely refuse to give
up our guns. Comparing Rosa Parks` fight against racism to the NRA`s fight
against gun safety?

It`s outrageous, and it`s part of a pattern. In January, a county
Republican Party announced they were raffling off an assault rifle in honor
of Dr. King. Conservatives have also put up billboards claiming Dr. King
was a republican, which of course is not true. In fact, he once wrote that
the Republican Party get its appeal and program to racism, reaction, and
extremism. And just last week, GOP Senator Rand Paul tried to use Dr. King
to criticize President Obama.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I find it ironic that the first
African-American president has without compunction allowed this vast
exercise of raw power by the NSA. Certainly, J. Edgar Hoover`s illegal
spying Martin King and others in the civil rights movement should give us
all pause.


SHARPTON: This from a man who once said he would modify the civil
rights act. It`s time for this kind of talk to stop. The pioneers who
fought for civil rights stood up for diversity and equality.
Unfortunately, today many GOP policies stand for the opposite. You should
stand for what you believe and use the heroes of that belief as your
symbols. Don`t try to play switch and bait using heroes that would not
have stood for what you say to give you cover for things that you know the
public does not support.

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


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