Guests: Alicia Menendez; Jim McDermott, Ion Sancho, Elisabeth McNamara, Lisa Graves
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, HOST: Welcome to "Politics Nation." I`m Al
Tonight, what kind of country do we want to be? Do we want a country
that celebrates the people who put out our fires, respond to our
emergencies, and teach our children? Or do we want a country that
minimizes their service? Takes away their jobs. That`s at the core of
what this election is all about.
Mitt Romney made it clear which side he stood on when he criticized
President Obama for supporting firefighters and teachers and first
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He wants another stimulus.
He wants to hire more government workers. He says we need more firemen,
more policemen, more teachers. It`s time for us to cut back on government
and help the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Today, one of Romney`s top surrogates doubled down on that.
Revealing it wasn`t a blooper, it was policy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN SUNUNU (R), CHAIRMAN, ROMNEY NATIONAL STEERING COMMITTEE: There
are places where just pumping money in is not what the taxpayers want. If
there`s fewer kids in the classroom, the taxpayers do want to hear that
there will be fewer teachers. People ought to stop jumping on it as a
gaffe and understand there`s wisdom in the comment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: There`s wisdom in having fewer teachers, fewer
firefighters, fewer first responders. Is that what Americans want? Of
course not. It`s why President Obama has renewed his call for Congress to
invest in creating and saving these jobs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Right now, Congress should pass a bill to help states prevent
more layoffs so we could put thousands of teachers and policemen and
firefighters back on the job.
OBAMA: That`s been one of the biggest problems in the economy is all
the layoffs at the state and local level. Cops, teachers, firefighters all
being laid off.
Now, those folks provide vital services. They protect us, they`re
teaching our kids. Congress should pass a bill -- Congress should pass a
bill like I`ve asked them to do to help states like Nevada put Americans --
those American who is are doing outstanding service on behalf of our
communities, put those folks back on the job right now. That`s something
we can do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Last fall Republicans rejected his plan to invest $35
billion to hire first responders and stop up layoffs of 280,000 teachers.
That plan, the American jobs act, had overwhelming support. Seventy five
percent of Americans supported using federal funds to help states and towns
hire teachers and first responders. Seventy percent thought using federal
funds to stop layoffs of teachers and first responders would be an
effective way to create jobs.
The fact of the market is they`re not doing jobs we don`t need.
They`re doing services that we really need. So we`re not talking about
eliminating fat. We`re talking about having people do a service that is so
gravely need in this country.
Joining me now is MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe and Alicia
Menendez, host of "HoffPost, Live."
Thank you both, for being here.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Thanks, Reverend Al.
SHARPTON: Richard, let me start with you. What does this gaffe say
about the GOP view of government?
WOLFFE: Well, a couple of things. First of all, I don`t think
Republicans in general especially Mitt Romney have made the case of how
he`s going to create jobs by cutting jobs. Like you may think the private
sector is the best way to create jobs in the long term. And I think that`s
But in the short-term, you`ve got to deal with trying to create jobs
saying you know how to create job but also advocating for cutting jobs.
And secondly, this is political thin ear that this candidate has in
this Republican has. Remember troops, our soldiers in harm`s way are
government workers. They pay for with taxpayers` dollars.
WOLFFE: And these people are brave public servants disparaging them
is not good politics and it`s not good policy at this time.
SHARPTON: Now, Alicia, the disparaging of first responders, of
teachers and as Richard says even our military men and women, when you
listen to Rush Limbaugh claiming that teachers and others don`t contribute
to economic growth. First of all, let me let you hear this as you giggle.
It is preposterous but let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Nobody`s supposed to cut
firefighters or teachers but they aren`t private sector jobs. They do not
contribute to economic growth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, I maybe missed something but I thought cops and
firefighters and teachers go shopping and they spend money and they consume
things like anyone else. I mean, what kind of world does he live in that
only people with private sector job are consumers and contribute to the
economic growth of the country, but first responders I guess everything is
home grown and just appearing in their homes by some -- I mean, what is he
ALICIA MENENDEZ, HOST, HUFFPOST LIVE: I think he lives in some type
of la la land where, as you said, you get a discount and don`t have to pay
sales tax if you`re a teacher of police officer.
Absolutely. You laid out the first basic argument which is that these
people provide important services, educate our children, they protect our
communities and our streets.
But there is a secondary purpose here which is that they build --
these are strong middle class jobs. They build a strong middle class in
communities across the country. And that is more than anything the value.
And right now, you have a clear choice between President Obama who
wants to spend as you said $35 billion investing in those types of middle
class jobs. And Mitt Romney who says let`s cut these people. As though
somehow that is going to stimulate the economy.
SHARPTON: And Richard, I think that what I most question here is they
act as though these are jobs and people that are marginal importance, that
they`re insignificant. Just we don`t need them. I mean, I think it is so
unfair -- and it`s the wrong picture to give our children that teachers are
not really that necessary.
And, you know, firefighters -- I mean, I think it is really an ugly
picture of the country beyond the budgetary argument. What are we really
saying when we say first responders are not a priority?
WOLFFE: Well, look. Romney`s rhetoric is to invest in the future and
invest in things like education. So, I don`t know how you do that without
actually investing in teachers who are being laid off.
You know, if they want to see the result of these types of policy are
and deficits are an issue. But, look at how if you go deficit first, where
that takes you? You just have to look at Europe. Europe which they
distinct so much, there are bunch of conservative governments who have done
just this. They have been layoff government workers, firefighters,
teachers, you name it. And where are they? They`re in a double dip
recession. And no way out of it.
So again, if you say jobs are the most important thing and heaven
knows voters have been saying it for years now, how do you create jobs by
SHARPTON: Well, Alicia, the other thing that`s amazing because at
first everyone said it was a gaffe. Now, his surrogates like we just saw
are doubling down on it. No, it`s not a gaffe. We mean it. This is
policy. And then, he says that this is what the American people want.
Now, if you look at the polls, Gallup 2011 says that when asked about
honesty and ethics by profession, high rating, teachers 84 percent is what
the American public saw as the high rating, teachers 84 percent. Police 54
percent. Business executives who they want to give all the breaks to, they
hold up and install, only 18 percent.
So, the American people want the opposite of what they want. They
want to give business executives tax cuts and all kinds of cushions at the
expense of first responders. The American public are the exact reverse.
MENENDEZ: We know exactly what they`re doing, right? They`re hoping
that the average American is so frustrated by the slow pace of this
recovery that they completely discount the role that government can play in
creating opportunity. That`s the very choice that this election is about.
Either you believe that government can take us to where we need to be
that we should be at a time like this investing more in education,
investing more in training a new generation of workers. Or you believe
that we cut, cut, cut our way out of this. And that`s a choice. It could
not be clearer.
SHARPTON: Now, Richard, when you look at the fact that Ryan budget
was endorsed by Mr. Romney with 62 percent of the budget cuts target low
income programs. And the firefighters union wrote a letter criticizing the
latest budget cuts from Paul Ryan. This is what they wrote in the letter.
Quote, "Balancing the budget on the backs of firefighters without
requiring those who are well off in our society to share more of the burden
is simply inexcusable. Even as the private sector recovers, state and
local governments are still struggling to balance their budget, leading to
continued job losses among fire fighters and other public sector
I mean, we`re talking about firefighters. We`re talking about people
saving lives in emergencies no one sees coming. Are we really at this
point in our abiding politic that we have to try and explain to people why
we need firefighters to stay on the payroll?
WOLFFE: You know, the firefighters` language echoes another
Republican presidential candidate by the name of Bush. Governor Bush, when
he was running for office in `99, he said you shouldn`t balance the budget
on the backs of the poor. And he was talking about the Gingrich
Republicans whose idea was to do just that.
And, you know, it wasn`t that long ago that Republicans could look at
these kinds of priorities and really these not difficult decisions, right?
You`re talking about food stamps or jobs for firefighters. If the
Republicans spent the last several years as with the priority of getting
this economy back on track rather than the number one priority being to
unseat President Obama, we would be in a different position today.
Sadly they have changed as a party. That`s what we`re living with.
SHARPTON: Richard Wolffe and Alicia Menendez, a host of "HuffPost,
Live. Thank you both, for your time tonight.
WOLFFE: Thank you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Ahead, when it comes to the president`s health care law,
all Republicans want is repeal, repeal, repeal. Today, more evidence that
the law is working, working, working.
Plus Karl Rove`s group apologizes after mocking the commerce secretary
following an ugly car accident over the weekend.
And breaking news on Friday, voter suppression plan. The governor of
that important state is making a big move today, and you can be sure the
Obama administration will respond.
You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.
SHARPTON: Folks, have you checked us out on facebook? The
conversation is going all day long. Today, the flood of voter purge was
Pat doesn`t trust Governor Rick Scott`s motive. He says quote,
"despite what anyone says the whole motive in Florida is, to simply to stop
as many Democrats as possible from voting for the president."
While Chastity says it`s hurting, Scott`s chances of the election.
Quote, "as the magic 8-ball would say, outlook not so good."
We want to hear what you think too. Head over to facebook and search
"Politics Nation" and like us to join the conversation that keeps going
long after the show ends. We hope to see you there.
SHARPTON: Welcome back to "Politics Nation."
Any day, the Supreme Court will rule on President Obama`s historic
health care law. And the well being of millions of people hangs in the
balance. Like the 14 million senior citizens who have already received
free cancer screenings and other preventive services, 14 million people.
Or the more than six million young adults, who signed, gained coverage
in the law`s first year. This law is gaining momentum. Another sign,
today three of the country`s largest healthcare providers announced that
they will offer several key provisions of this healthcare law no matter how
the Supreme Court rules. Make no mistake, this is progress. But, here`s
all you can hear from the GOP.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: The first item of the
agenda of a new Senate Republican majority would be the repeal of Obama
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Our pledge was to
repeal Obama care.
ERIC CANTOR (R), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: We`re going to take to the
floor a bill that calls for the total repeal of Obama care.
ROMNEY: I will repeal Obama care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Since when is coverage for young people a bad thing? When
did cancer screenings become objectionable? Does the GOP really approve of
denying health care to those with preexisting conditions?
Earlier this year I spoke with two courageous people who know what a
lifesaver this law is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPIKE DOLOMITE WARD, COVERED UNDER HEALTHCARE LAW: My life is
literally being saved by the affordable care act. I`m halfway through my
treatment now for stage three breast cancer, and I`m responding very well.
People do not have the facts. They`re not informed. They`re just
holding on to these ridiculous talking points without thinking this stuff
STACIE RITTER, KIDS COVERED UNDER HEALTHCARE LAW: Why they are able
to stand there and say -- and wear shirts that say keep your hands off my
health care. What about my health care? What about my children`s health
care? Maybe they should take their hands off my healthcare and my
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Are we supposed to leave people without a life line? The
GOP can slam this law all they want, but it`s literally saving lives. And
because of that, it`s a badge of honor for this president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I have no problem with folks saying Obama cares. I do care.
If the other side wants to be the folks who don`t care, that`s fine with
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Joining me now is congressman Jim McDermott, democrat from
Congressman, Thanks for being with me tonight.
REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D), WASHINGTON: It`s a pleasure to be here
SHARPTON: Congressman, you`re a doctor. You know firsthand how
important this law is. How would you assess the effectiveness of it so
MCDERMOTT: Well, the American people already, Al, have discovered
some of the positives. You`ve already mentioned that many parents worry
about their kids and now they`re able to keep their children on their
health care until age 26.
They`ve also made it possible for people to have preventive care
without having to pay a co-pay. A lot of times if people have to pay a co-
pay, they won`t do it. So, it is important to have checkups and have
These things -- and the biggest one is, getting health insurance if
you have a pre-existing condition.
MCDERMOTT: That`s the one that scares most people. Because when you
get to be 30, 40, the wheels start falling off the wagon and you`re really
worried. Is my health care going to cover me when I need it?
And the president has done a wonderful service for the country. And
the insurance companies are scared to death now because they know that as
they start pulling back those things they`ve got in there now, they`re
going to have problems.
SHARPTON: That`s exactly right. And you know, you mention the pre-
existing conditions which is very, very important.
When you look at the polling on this, 85 percent of people polled
support covering those with pre-existing conditions, 77 percent support
reduced drug costs for Medicare recipients, 68 percent support adults under
the age of 26 staying on their parents` plan.
So, different elements of this bill had some support. Some greater
than others but generally, the public is right deal with the president.
MCDERMOTT: But you know, one of the things, Al, you have got to
listen carefully to the insurance companies because they are tricky. They
say they`re going to keep the kids on to age 26. But they don`t say they
are going to keep all the kids on.
MCDERMOTT: Right now, if you have a pre-existing condition and you`re
under 26, you can get on your parents` health care. But they`re not saying
they`re going to take kids who have a problem.
So, they are offering but taking away with the other hand. It is a
very, very tough thing to be in the world today without health insurance,
because it can -- it financially can break you. It can rule the rest of
SHARPTON: No doubt about it. When you look at the fact though, that
almost since the beginning, Congressman, the Republicans have called this a
job killer. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELE BACHMANN (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The number one
job killer in the United States -- do you know what it is? Obama care.
ROMNEY: Obama care didn`t help create jobs.
BOEHNER: Obama care is getting in the way of their willingness to
hire more people.
CANTOR: What we believe is that Obama care has been a job killer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, I play that to you because a new report out today from
the non-partisan urban institute throws water on that GOP job killer claim.
It says and I`m quoting, "Massachusetts achieved its goal of near universal
health insurance coverage under its 2006 health reform initiative with no
indication, no indication now of negative job consequences relative to
other states. The evidence from Massachusetts would suggest that a
national health reform plan does not imply job loss and stymied economic
It is a non-partisan group saying that. So again, all of this job
killer rhetoric appears to be just that. Rhetoric.
MCDERMOTT: It`s all designed, Al, to scare people. To scare people
to vote against the president of the United States. He has done a real
service by standing up and facing brick beds and all kinds of untruths and
everything. And he`s pushed forward with his health care plan.
And the Republicans recognize they have to destroy it some way
otherwise the American people are going to say yes, we want him to finish
the job in 2014. That`s why we`re going to re-elect him. They are afraid
that he`ll get re-elected and finish the job. And the American people will
be eternally grateful to Barack Obama for bringing health care to them.
That`s the biggest fear the Republicans have. That`s why they said
beginning in 2009 in January; our number one job is to prevent him from
getting a second term and finishing this project.
SHARPTON: Now, maybe I missed something. But in all their criticism
of President Obama`s health care plan, what is the Republicans` health care
plan? What is their plan to deal with securing the health of the American
MCDERMOTT: That`s the greatest mystery in Washington, D.C. Is what
would you have if they did repeal it? They never put a plan on the table.
They said all well, we want to do something about malpractice or something
Nothing about covering 30 million people like the president put on the
table. Nothing about controlling costs like the president put on the table
in terms of various provisions in the bill. None of that.
They simply want to repeal it and go back to the silly system we have
now where it depends on what kind of plastic you have in your pocket.
If you get sick, it will be on the basis of the plastic you have in
your pocket what kind of health care you receive in this country. That`s
SHARPTON: It`s not just. It`s actually frightening.
MCDERMOTT: It is.
SHARPTON: Congressman Jim McDermott. Thanks for coming on the show
MCDERMOTT: You`re welcome.
SHARPTON: Ahead, the election may come down to Florida. We have
breaking news on that state`s voter suppression efforts, an important story
And the commerce secretary is under investigation for alleged hit and
run accident. So why did Karl Rove groups mock the incident?
Stay with us.
SHARPTON: Folks, we`re used to the right wing plan fast to loose with
the facts. And Karl Rove`s group American cross roads is one of the most
careless to the truth. But today, they really hit a new low.
Over the weekend, commerce secretary John Bryson was involved in
several hit and run crashes in Los Angeles. Bryson is under investigation
after police found him unconscious behind the wheel of his car.
Authorities say there was no indication of alcohol or drugs in his system.
No question, a terrible accident that needs to be fully investigated.
But before any of the facts came out, Karl Rove`s group was on the
attack. They tweeted quote, "how does commerce secretary have three car
crashes in five minutes and alcohol not be involved?" #Skills.
That`s bad enough. But when they wrote quote, "breaking, John Bryson
cited for reckless endangerment of the economy and failure to yield to
common sense but he`s doing fine."
Reckless endangerment of the economy. Mocking the man after an
accident, classy. The commerce department now says Bryson suffered a
seizure and that crossroads realized that wasn`t funny.
So they tweeted quote, "earlier, Bryson`s tweet attempted levity
before facts known and failed miserably. We took it down and regret the
tweet." Well, but at least this time crossroads did set the record
straight. Recently they put out an ad claiming 85 percent of college grads
are moving back with their parents. That`s not true. They pushed the
ridiculous idea that President Obama would give secrets to the Russians and
they slammed President Obama`s green energy lawns but showing a company
that also got public money from Mitt Romney. American crossroads twist
facts all the time. Nice try. But we got you.
SHARPTON: We`re back with breaking news in that voter purge in
Florida. Let`s go back to this scene from November of 2000. Hanging chads
became part of the American culture. For 35 days the country waited on
Florida to find out who the 43rd president of the United States would be.
The chaos of 2000 left a bad taste for millions of Americans. And that`s
why what`s going on in Florida is so disturbing. Governor Rick Scott is
vowing to continue his voter purge urging Tea Party activists to get behind
him. And now the defiance is growing with a lawsuit announced just hours
RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA GOVERNOR: This afternoon, we`ll be filing a
lawsuit to the Florida secretary of state`s office will be filing a lawsuit
against the Department of Homeland Security to give us that database. We
want to have fair, honest elections in our state. And so, we`ve been put
in a position that we have to sue the federal government to get this
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: He`s suing the federal government over a database. But it
does not address the Justice Department`s concern over this purge. Here`s
what happened so far. Twenty seven hundred registered voters were sent
letters saying their citizenship was in doubt. They are forced to prove it
or be thrown off the voting list. Eighty seven percent of the people
targeted are minority voters. And these 87 percent are more likely to be
Democrats and independents. More than 500 of those were who receive e
received letters are in Miami-Dade County are citizens. Let`s be clear.
No one is saying, non-citizenship be voting. But throwing out legal voters
is unconstitutional and un-America. This is bigger than Florida. New
voter suppression laws have sprung up all over the country in the last two
years. Rick Scott can`t get away with this suppression. It started in
Florida and it needs to end now.
Joining me now from Tallahassee, Florida, is Ion Sancho, supervisor of
elections for Leon County in Florida. And Elisabeth McNamara, president of
the League of Women Voters of the United States. Thank you both for
joining me tonight.
ION SANCHO, LEON COUNTY SUPERVISOR OF ELECTIONS: Thank you.
ELISABETH MCNAMARA, PRESIDENT, LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Let me start with you, Ion. What do you make of this
latest move by Governor Rick Scott to use the method of suing the
Department of Homeland Security?
SANCHO: Well, we saw that this was coming in the response that the
State of Florida made to the Justice Department letter sent by Chris
Herring last week. And quite frankly, I`ve taken time to read the lawsuit.
And quite frankly, Reverend, it`s embarrassing. They don`t even address
the legal issues that the Department of Justice asked. In law school, we
were taught when you have the facts on your side, argue the facts. But if
you don`t have the facts and you have the law on your side, you argue the
law. And in this case, the Governor has neither the facts nor the law on
his side. And quite frankly, this is a political document. That`s all I
read it as.
SHARPTON: Now, it`s very interesting. Because I remember, when you
were on with me, we talked about the need for preclearance by the Justice
Department because Florida is a voting rights state. And the 90 days that
you told me that they`re well under the 90 days for the election in the
primary. So, they didn`t even address that. But let me go to you Miss
McNamara, I want to come back to you. Attorney General of the United
States Eric Holder addressed the League of Women Voters, the organization
you had nationally and he talked about equal protection and fair
representation. Let me play this to you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I realize that some have
questioned your motives and mischaracterized your efforts. Believe me. I
know how you feel.
But the clear and simple fact is that this work never has been and
never should be about politics or partisan maneuvering. This work is about
honoring our most basic principles of inclusion and opportunity. Of equal
treatment and fair representation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, I think in that clip, he`s addressing the fact that
the league has always been nonpartisan, always been respected historically
by both parties, even hosting debates. I remember when I ran in 2004.
Hosted debates. And now all of a sudden, the midst of all these changing
of voter laws, you are being in some ways portrayed by the far extremists
as some partisan maneuver which no one has ever heard it. At least I
haven`t heard from most people in any way describing the League of Women
voters in that regard.
MCNAMARA: That`s right. That`s right. Absolutely. The league has
always been an organization that focused on the issues, focused on
citizens, focused on the voters. We do not support or oppose candidates.
And this issue is not partisan. This issue is about making sure that every
eligible voter is able to go to the polls. And we completely agree with
the Attorney General. This list, the voter lists should be accurate. But
these purges right, you know, within 90 days of the election or of the
primary election are in violation of the national voter registration act
which the league worked very, very hard to pass in the early 1990s. And we
want to make sure that Florida voters are not unfairly burdened or that no
voter across the country is unfairly burdened within this period of time
before an election. And that if we are cleaning up these lists, we are
doing it accurately, we are doing it transparently, and we are doing it
within the law.
SHARPTON: Now, and I think that that`s important, you`re back in
Florida trying to register voters. But let me say to you, Mr. Sancho.
When you look at the governor, he tries to justify. He came with a new
spin yesterday. Let me show you what he said, he says, quote, "The latest
is who should get to vote in our state and in our country. People that are
citizens of our country. It`s very simple, right? Who comes up with the
idea that you get to vote if you`re not a citizen?" I mean, that`s
ridiculous. There`s no one that saying, people that are not a citizen
should get the right to vote. We`re saying that citizens should get the
right to vote but they shouldn`t be taken off the rolls if they are
citizens and being falsely or wrongly accused. And that the state of
Florida should abide by the laws of the United States and follow what the
Justice Department is mandated to make them to follow.
SANCHO: Well, and what was the cause of intimidating voters. And
that`s what`s happening to many elderly voters in Florida who are perfectly
legal voters. And using the governor`s own statement and data that he
brought forth today in this press conference, they have identified 46
people that he believed to have cast illegal votes out of a list of 2700.
And what he also let out was that 500 people that they have targeted with
these rather serious intimidating letters turned out to be actual
legitimate citizens. So, we`re talking about a database here that could be
75 percent inaccurate. This is a sloppy database. We learned in 2000 that
when you make sloppy databases, accurate databases, you disenfranchise
people. And this state was forced to admit that thousands of legitimate
voters were turned away from the polls November 7th. And that was for
political reasons. The governor --
SHARPTON: Miss McNamara, isn`t that the point out of the many
hundreds that they sent out these notices, only 46 people they found to be
non-citizens that voted. Five hundred was citizens that have to go through
all of these back and forward. Isn`t the point that we want to not end up
with a net negative at that discourage or make it difficult for citizens to
vote. Isn`t that the point of a democracy to protect voters?
MCNAMARA: Well, most importantly it`s the point of the national voter
registration act. That is why the national voter registration act
prohibits these kinds of purges. Within 90 days of an election. Voters
shouldn`t be put in this position. We want to make sure that these lists
are accurate. But we want to do it within the law. And we want to have a
transparent process. So that voters are uncertain. Voters have an
opportunity to go to the polls. And that they are not unfairly burdened
with this -- with cleaning up with these lists. So absolutely, the voting
rights act and the National Voter Registration Act were designed to prevent
this kind of thing. And if we follow the law, then we can actually
increase the number of voters that are turning out at the polls rather than
decreasing them right before an election.
SHARPTON: Ion Sancho and Elisabeth McNamara, thank you both for your
SANCHO: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Still ahead, we will expose the NRA secret plot to expand
stand your ground laws. A scheme that`s led to concerns about protecting
SHARPTON: Ahead, the corporate money behind a controversial gun law.
SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. Folks, remember in 1998
when Hillary Clinton said there was a vast right wing conspiracy? People
ridiculed her for being dramatic. Well, it`s 14 years later and maybe her
claim wasn`t so ridiculous. Here`s a story we need to talk about. Since
it passed in Florida in 2005, stand your ground has become law in 25
states. It removed any duty to retreat and gave the person a right to kill
somebody if they felt threatened. The controversial law became a national
debate when the Trayvon Martin case became the biggest story in the
country. The Florida law says quote, "A person who is attacked has no duty
to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with
Pretty powerful language. But not unique to Florida. Here`s Georgia.
A person who is attacked has no duty to retreat and has a right to meet
force with force. South Carolina. No duty to retreat and has the right to
stand his ground and meet force with force. Michigan. A person may use
deadly force with no duty to retreat. Twenty five bills use the same
language. Folks, this is no accident. This is Florida Governor Jeb Bush
signing the first stand your ground law in 2005. The woman next to him is
Marion Hammer, former NRA president and powerful lobbyist. After the bill
was signed, Miss Hammer approached the corporate backed American legislate
exchange council known as ALEC. And asked them to adopt Florida`s law as a
model bill. The law was approved unanimously. It became a template that
ALEC and the NRA pushed across the country. A vast right wing conspiracy?
Folks, there are powerful groups at work here. And it`s time to do
something about it.
Joining me now is Adam Weinstein, national security`s editor for
Mother Jones. Adam wrote a new article on how ALEC and the NRA helped
spread stand your ground. And Lisa Graves, the executive director of
Center for Media and Democracy of Group fighting the laws. Thank you both
for being here.
ADAM WEINSTEIN, MOTHER JONES: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Adam, let me start with you. How close is the relationship
between NRA and ALEC?
WEINSTEIN: Well, Al, what we found is we started doing some research
down here in Florida is actually they`re thick as thieves and there`s blood
ties. Down here you won`t find the NRA. What you`ll find technically is
called unified sportsmen of America, or unified spokesman of Florida.
That`s Marion Hammer`s organization that she`s run for the NRA since 1970s.
And on the board is one John Patronis. He`s a member of the pretty
powerful influential family down here in Florida. And cousin is one Jimmy
Patronis, he`s a representative in Florida`s legislature. He also just
happens to be ALEC`s executive director down here. The guy who figures out
what`s the model legislation and what`s on the agenda for ALEC to push
across the country. And so, you can see these relationships have been
pretty deep for quite some time down here.
SHARPTON: Now, Lisa, you and others are fighting and many of us in
the civil rights community including me have asked corporations to look at
what ALEC has done here. They`ve had stand your ground as a model bill
which quote, "Based upon Florida legislation enacted April 16, 2005." So
when we say a model bill, they actually took this bill around the country
as the template for other states to really duplicate this and pass
LISA GRAVES, CENTER OF MEDIA AND DEMOCRACY: That`s right. ALEC, the
American Legislative Exchange Council is a group that calls itself the
largest group of independent legislators in the country. But in fact, 98
percent of its funding comes from corporations and foundations from
everything but legislative dues. And when that bill came to ALEC in 2005
after it passed the Florida legislature, the NRA brought that bill to a
closed door meeting in Grapevine, Texas, where that meeting was co-chaired
by Wal-Mart and other corporations in corporate lobbyist for president.
Other legislators were present and it was adopted unanimously as a national
model. After that time, ALEC extolled that bill as a model bill. It
counted in its voter score cards, its state`s score cards. And it talked
on NRA radio about how close its ties were to the NRA. In fact, after that
happened, the NRA became the co-chair of that task force for ALEC and at
the same time Wal-Mart became the co-chair, the corporate co-chair for the
State of Florida.
SHARPTON: And now, many of those corporations, some of which you
named, some of us approached them, and some of them have withdrawn. I
believe 22 corporations and over 50 legislators have dropped ALEC as
sponsors and have actually really actually began hurting ALEC with their
withdrawal. But when you talk about the NRA, let me go back to you, Adam.
You yourself have had family members that were years ago members of the
NRA. And you argued the NRA today is not the NRA of your father or
WEINSTEIN: That`s absolutely right, Al. I`m third generation going
to owner actually have a concealed weapons permit here in the State of
Florida. I`ve had it for more than a decade now. And you can imagine the
laws of changed pretty significantly. I`m kind of taken aback by the
liberties that I`m allowed now that I didn`t have a decade ago. And part
of that is because the NRA and its influence and the way that the NRA is
changed. When Marion Hammer who`s the lobbyists down here, who is
responsible for stand your ground, she took over the NRA nationally in the
`90s. Before that it was largely a sportsman organization.
It was the organization my grandfather was a member of. And it was
about gun education, it was about hunting. And now, it represents
corporate interests. Thirty nine million dollars, that`s the amount of
money that corporations like Beretta and Colt and Remington are pouring in
to the NRA to represent their interests. Along with the host of other
right wing kind of extreme views that the NRA is pushing. There is likely
to talk about immigration or gay marriage as they are about gun rights
SHARPTON: So, it`s no longer about sportsman, it`s about corporation
and very serious political issues. Lisa, let me ask you because we`re
going to run out of time. They`re hurting ALEC. What`s next though? They
clearly have voter ID and other things that they`re representing.
GRAVES: Well, that`s right. Wal-Mart did drop out of ALEC about a
week ago along with the other corporations that you`ve mentioned. And my
organization is certainly be democracy and color of change, common cause
and others are working to highlight corporations like Johnson & Johnson,
Coke Industries that are standing by ALEC, standing by its agenda. And its
agenda includes efforts to make it much more difficult for American
citizens to vote, efforts to make it hard for you to sue if you take a drug
that was approved by the FDA and your child is killed or your spouse died
as a result of it. Their agenda they claim is a job agenda. It`s actually
really a corporate agenda to make it more difficult and put their thumb on
the scale of justice in virtually every area of the law. And that`s why
we`re working to expose ALEC throughout the -- and through other means.
SHARPTON: We`re going to stay on this and we`re going to have you
back to talk about this even more. Adam, good article. Adam Weinstein and
Lisa Graves, thanks for your time tonight. We`ll be right back.
GRAVES: Thank you.
SHARPTON: It`s been 18 months since former Congresswoman Gabrielle
Giffords was shot in the head in that horrific shooting in Tucson, Arizona.
Today she made a rare public appearance with former aide Ron Barber.
Barber was running for Giffords Congressional seat in a special election
tomorrow. She had a simple but powerful message for her and Barber`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FMR. REP. GABRIELLE GIFFORDS (D), ARIZONA: Thank you. I love you a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Giffords attended other events this weekend arm and arm
with Barber. Her husband told Politico, Giffords is thinking about a
return to public service. Quote, "At some point she could run. She`s
getting better all the time. It`s certainly not going to be this term and
I don`t know after that." We`re talking about it. She wants to get back
in public service. Whether it`s elected office, I don`t know. It`s
remarkable to see her out there. Since the shooting which took place over
a year ago and it took the lives of six people, she`s made few public
appearances. But each one highlights her tremendous progress. They`ve
also been opportunities to bring both the aisles together. Last August in
a moment of bipartisan unity, Giffords returned to Congress to a thunderous
applause. And her resignation in January brought up more applause and
tears from both sides. These moments with Gabby Giffords shows everything
that`s right about our democracy. No matter who wins this special election
tomorrow, the winner should remember everything she fought for and we
should remember those that did lose their lives so that we never deal with
this type of acrimony again.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. This program note. Tomorrow
night, we`ll have a live interview with Newt Gingrich. You won`t want to
miss that one. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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