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updated 11/30/2012 11:34:21 AM ET 2012-11-30T16:34:21

POLITICS NATION
November 29, 2012

Guests: Chris Van Hollen, Toure, Erin McPike, Bill Richardson


REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Thanks, Chris, and thanks to you
for tuning in.

Tonight`s lead, Mr. Romney comes to Washington, but Republicans still
don`t understand why he lost. The White House released this photo of
governor Romney and President Obama in the oval office. This photo taken
the day after their big lunch.

Through the door, you can see the private ding room where they shared
a lunch of turkey chili and southwestern grilled chicken salad. And right
behind the second-place finisher is the presidential race. You can see the
desk that belonged to president Kennedy. It`s the desk he thought he would
be sitting at.

The White House says the lunch was friendly. Mr. Romney congratulated
the president on his victory and wished him well over the next four years.
They also talked about America`s leadership in the world and promised to
stay in touch.

Before Romney went to the White House, Romney met up for breakfast
with his old pal Paul Ryan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Mr. Romney, how was your meeting with
Mr. Ryan today? Was it nice to see him?

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good friend. Great
to be with him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Good to be with him?

ROMNEY: Always great to see Paul Ryan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Sure. Always great to see him and chat about the irony of
their getting only 47 percent of the vote. How fitting. But the fact is,
even now, many Republicans don`t get why they were rejected by the American
people.

This morning, as Romney was getting ready for his big day in
Washington, his top political strategist was on national TV talking about
why he lost.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I certainly don`t think it was the ideas. I think
that the ideas carried the day for us and the success that we had, though
it obviously wasn`t enough to win the race, was based on the candidate Mitt
Romney and on his ideas.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The ideas carried the day? What is he talking about?
Those ideas are why Romney came in second place. This election was a
rejection of the policies Romney stood for. But too many Republicans just
don`t get it.

Right now, we have incredibly important issues to deal with, on tacks,
jobs, immigration, marriage equality. But how account country move forward
if the GOP is still stuck with the ideas of the past?

Joining me now is Richard Wolffe, vice president and executive editor
of MSNBC.com and Karen Finney, MSNBC political analyst and former DNC
communications director.

Richard, let me go to you first. I want to talk about this lunch at
the White House. It`s pretty unlikely we will ever see Mr. Romney enjoy
joining the Obama administration, isn`t that correct?

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Based on the readout that we
got from that meeting, I would say so. You know, they talked about where
there might be said interests, maybe that`s why they talked about America`s
role in the world by all of the reports. You know, if you cannot agree on
any of the fundamentals about what America is, what the common ground is
from that election and you heard Stewart Stevens. You know, they are still
delusional. There`s one thing to not believe the polls beforehand but
you`ve got to believe the polls afterwards, right? I think there is no
common ground here.

Really, if governor Romney had taken a different position about health
care, maybe there could have been common ground at this point. But, he ran
away from the very policy that the president embraced. He ran away from
his own record.

SHARPTON: Well, usually when people say, we`ll stay in touch, that
means they are not going to be talking often.

KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Exactly.

SHARPTON: But Karen, the Republicans seemed reluctant to talk about
the luncheon but senator Reid seemed to be pretty happy to talk about it.
Let me show what you he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER: I think this is great. None
of us here have any ill will towards Mitt Romney. We were involved in a
campaign. It`s over with. I`m very happy to see this picture. It`s good
for the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Karen, it is good for the American people, especially since
the election turned out the way it did.

FINNEY: Yes. It is. Although, I think most of us know that when you
say we promise we will keep in touch, that`s when a guy says, I will call
you that like, you`re not going to be sitting by the phone waiting for it
to ring.

But sure. I mean, this is an important part of our democracy. There
were obviously huge disagreements about the way forward. But, the fact
that at the end of the day people can come together, break bread, I would
have loved to have been in the room for that conversation, of course.

But, yes, I think it sends a positive message to the American people
and to the rest of the world that this is a part of our process and now we
move on. Although it is, ironically, I feel like the rest of the
Republican party is suffering from Romnesia because they haven`t quite
moved on. They are still trying to adjudicate, you know, the same policy
positions and bad ideas.

SHARPTON: Well, that`s the point, Richard. Because when you look at
the polls, the exit polls from the Election Day and look at the polls of
the American people, how do we move on when they still are in denial as to
what the American people said? Sixty percent said income tax rates should
be raised.

WOLFFE: Right.

SHARPTON: Fifty five percent said the economic system favors the
wealthy, 65 percent legal status for illegal immigrant, 59 percent said
abortion should be legal. These are the American people and they are still
saying that their ideas carried the day?

WOLFFE: Yes. Look, Stuart Stevens has written a lot of good fiction
and he is still writing good fiction. In another life, he actually writes
books and they are pretty good. But, this kind of story that he is
spinning well, if you just slice off a piece of the electorate that we won,
then we won those ideas, that doesn`t make any sense and it`s not actually
-- look, we can take a step back and say, what is right for the country?
But Republicans first of all have to say what is right for Republicans? If
Republicans want to win these kinds of elections, they have to appeal to
more people, not what Stuart Stevens said, which is somehow the liberal
coalition turned into a strength. And it was kind of miracle of the
candidate and the moment as if they are still playing the argument that
this guy is a fluke. The president is a remarkable coincidence of fate.
If that is what they believe, the Republican party will never find the
majority of the American people again.

SHARPTON: But Karen, not a fluke. Let me tell you, President Obama
won bigger than Bush was re-elected in 2004.

FINNEY: That`s right.

SHARPTON: They keep talking about a close election. In 2012, this
year, President Obama received 50.9 percent of the vote. Mr. Bush,
president Bush in 2004, his re-election, only received 50.7. So President
Obama actually was re-elected by a wider margin than George Bush was. Some
fluke. But then you have strategist Stuart Stevens even defending Romney`s
claim that President Obama used gifts to win the election. Listen to this,
Karen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STUART STEVENS, MITT ROMNEY`S CHIEF CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: I don`t
think that`s what he was saying. I think he was saying that there`s an
effort that the incumbent used, as many other incumbents have used, to
reach out to constituents. That`s something that we`ve seen in politics
going back to a long time. They did it effectively and they have certain
groups that they wanted to do well with and they did well with. We have
certain terms that we wanted to do well with and we would have done - we
would have one if we have done better with them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, that is utterly nonsense. That`s an insult for the
intelligence of the public. He was not talking about the traditional way.
He was saying, as they said throughout the campaign, he was giving things
away, handouts, which was an insult to the president and to those
constituent groups and the fact is that people voted based on the
president`s record and his ideas and he got a larger margin than George
Bush. In fact, when we finished tallying all the voted because there is
still some out that are being tallied, he will probably go to 51 percent of
the electorate.

FINNEY: Right. And look, I mean, I actually wrote about this for
MSNBC.com last week. That I mean, this is part of the delusion of the
Republican Party. I think this is why they have more than just a single
cycle problem. I think they have a much longer term problem in that they
refuse to accept America as it currently is right now. And that includes
the diversity of this country, not just regional ethnic diversity but also
the issue landscape. As those the polling numbers that you showed have
changed people`s opinion about issues have changed. Republican party is
still -- you can just today even on Capitol Hill, again, they are singing
from the old sheet of music trying to convince Americans that their way is
still the right way and refusing to see that America has pretty much moved
on.

We`ve already said, no, we don`t want that. Now we want to move
forward. So I think long term, they have a problem and it`s not going to
be fixed by talking points. I think they are going to have to do real work
and decide whether or not they can accept that America is becoming a
majority/minority country. That millenials, Republicans, Democrats,
Independent millenials have a very different view point of the world. And
that if they continue on this path with messages that cater only to white
men and don`t accept this country as it is, they are going too basically,
you know, will themselves out of relevance.

Look at the choices that they made in the house for their
chairmanships. All white men. That doesn`t say we learned a lesson from
the election.

SHARPTON: No doubt about it. Richard Wolffe and Karen Finney, thank
you for your time tonight.

WOLFFE: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Coming up, what in the world is going on with speaker
BOEHNER? He went off his own cliff today. We will tell you why he`s ready
to hold the economy hostage again.

And what`s really behind John McCain`s relentless and baseless attack
on Susan Rice? Former governor of New Mexico and ambassador to the U.N.,
Bill Richardson, joins us live.

Plus, remember this guy with the Romney tattoo? Well, he might just
be the smartest man in the Republican Party today.

And we`ll tell you what Joe Biden bought at Costco today. You will
love this video.

You are watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is interesting. President Obama is going to
have lunch with Mitt Romney. The Mitt Romney and his, against during the
election, and he thought you had an awkward meal with your family on thanks
giving.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But here`s what I don`t get. The last eight
month, Mitt Romney has been saying nobody should get a free lunch, now he`s
going to the White House to have a free lunch.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Have you joined the "Politics Nation" conversation on
facebook yet? We hope you will. President Obama and Romney`s White House
lunch was the topic of the day.

Charmaine says, it`s great that they can meet and discuss issues.

Syed said, this is an awesome display of shake of hands of bipartisan
relations.

We hope. It didn`t take long for the photo shoppers to make their own
colorful edits to the picture. We can only imagine what big bird would
have said to these two.

We want to hear what you think about the lunch or anything that`s on
your mind. Please head over to "Politics Nation" and "like" us to join the
conversation that`s going on long after the show ends.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: On Election Day, the American people made a statement.
They want cooperation. They want a government that works. The message was
resoundingly clear, but speaker Boehner didn`t hear it. For the second
time in as many years, he`s stomping his feet, threatening to hold the
economy hostage if he doesn`t get what he wants in the tax fight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: As I told the
president a couple of weeks ago, there are a lot of things I`ve wanted in
my life, but almost all of them have had a price tag attached to them. And
if we`re going to talk about the debt limit in this, be there`s going to be
some price tag associated with it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Is he kidding? Note to speaker Boehner, you lost and now
he`s willing to hold the debt ceiling hostage again, willing to downgrade
this country`s rating again, willing to risk our recovery again, all to
help the top two percent. It`s flat out irresponsible. So what about
those entitlement cuts?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER: It`s time for the president, congressional Democrats to tell
the American people what spending cuts they are really willing to make.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: What? He wants the Democrats to outline those? He`s a man
calling for the cuts, right?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Speaker Boehner, why would you not tell
Democrats what specific spending cuts you would like to see, especially
within entitlements.

BOEHNER: It`s been very clear over the last year and a half. I`ve
talked to the president about many of them. And so, I`m not going to get
into the details.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I`m not going to get into the details. How is that
leadership coming from a man who repeatedly hypocritically slams the
president for not leaving?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER: So, right now, all eyes are in the White House. The country
doesn`t need a victory lap. It needs leadership.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The country needs leadership? Then why don`t you show
some? Why don`t you outline solutions instead of just asking for them?
There`s a disconnect all right. One that senator Harry Reid summed up best
today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Speaker Boehner made very clear at his
press conference that he thinks the ball is in your court. Where`s the
disconnection?

REID: I don`t understand his brain so you should ask him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I don`t understand his brain either. But, he needs to get
his head in the game for the good of the country.

Joining me now is Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Democrat from
Maryland. He was in the democratic leadership meeting with treasury
secretary Geithner this morning.

Congressman, first of all, thanks for your time tonight.

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: Reverend Al, always good to be
with you.

SHARPTON: Now, Congressman, you were in the meeting on the hill
today. "The Wall Street Journal" reports that the White House wants $1.6
trillion in tax increase, 50 billion in economic stimulus and new power for
the president to raise the debt limit without congressional approval. What
can you tell us about that?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, first of all, the secretary Geithner on behalf of
the president had two meetings on the house side, one with the Republican
leaders, speaker Boehner, one with democratic leaders.

And you`re right. Secretary Geithner laid out some key provisions.
Many of these are in the president`s budget. I mean, there has not been
any secret if the Republicans look carefully at the budget. The president
has called for a jobs plan that includes $50 billion of investment on
national infrastructure. That`s part of a plan that would also immediately
extend middle class tax cuts to 98 percent of the America people.

The president has said we need $1.6 trillion in revenue as part of a
balanced approach to a long-term deficit reduction. Because if we don`t
ask higher income people to pay more, we`re going to have to take it out on
everybody else and the president has been clear. You cannot continue to
play political gains with the full faith and credit of the United States
debt. And so, that was all part of the plan the president has put forward.

SHARPTON: Now, with all of the talk of divide, "Politico" however, is
reporting that there is some framework of a deal already taking shape. Let
me give you what they are saying.

And the piece says, there is no chance taxes are not going to go up
for people making north of $250,000 and virtually no chance that doesn`t
include their tax rates, too.

Is there a framework of a deal that you believe we can come together
or are we still very much divided in terms of parties in the congress?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, I think it`s premature to say that there`s a deal
in place. Even the framework of a deal in place. But I agree with the
"Politico" reporting to the extent they concluded that higher income
individuals are going to be paying more and that tax rates have to go up.
Because the math doesn`t work from a deficit reduction perspective unless
you have those rates go up.

So that`s certainly the position the president is taking, as you know.
Some members of speaker Boehner`s Republican caucus have also called for
the same thing because they recognize that it`s totally unsustainable to be
saying to the American people that nobody is going to get tax relief unless
you give this big bonus tax break to very high-income individuals.

SHARPTON: No. And the leverage has changed considerably since 2010.
I mean, when you look at the fact that every day it seem like more and more
Republicans are admitting that they will have to give on tax increases.

Nebraskan Congressman Lee Terry, look at what he says. He says we are
screwed either way. We really have no leverage in these discussions. It`s
a new day.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, it is a new day. It is a new day for two reasons.
One, the American people spoke very loudly and clearly in the election.
It`s not like this was all a secret issue. The president was very clear
about how he wanted to tackle. Our jobs challenge as well as the long-term
deficit. The exit poll shows that people supported them and you know, it`s
interesting, Reverend Al, to hear Republicans complaining about the
president wanting to include the American people in this conversation.
It`s as if they are afraid that the American people will clearly understand
what the president is calling for and the obstacles Republicans are
presenting.

So, you know, the president is talking to Congress mall leaders. You
have them down the White House. But it`s really important that we engage
the American people in this conversation because it`s our future, our
collective future of the country is at stake.

SHARPTON: Well, the problem is, when you include the American people
you have to come up with some logic that doesn`t sound too logical. Listen
to Senator Mike Lee how he tried to give some twisted rationale as to what
we face in terms of why saving taxes for the rich might be reasonable.
Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MIKE LEE (R), UTAH: People need to understand that the reason we
worry about raising taxes on anyone, even raising taxes on the rich, is
that it`s not that we`re looking out for the rich. It`s not that we`re
concerned that the rich won`t be able to fend for themselves, because they
will. IT is because we worry about the consequences that will inevitably
result from that action and that will hit the poorest among us the hardest.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So we don`t want to raise tax on the rich because it will
hurt the poor? Really?

VAN HOLLEN: Yes. Well, you know what, that theory has been tested by
reality, right? We had the big tax breaks for wealthy Americans from 2000
to 2008. What happened at the end of that period? Jobs went down, the
deficit went up.

We also know, Reverend Al, from the nonpartisan congressional budget
office, that those tax breaks for the very wealthy people have virtually no
impact on jobs and economic growth and that the proposals the president has
made, both the middle class tax extension, plus his small business tax cut,
taken together do a lot more than you would get in terms of job growth from
providing the folks at the very top with this bonus tax break.

So, you`ve got to look at the president`s entire plan, both the
investment in our infrastructure as well as middle class tax relief and
small business tax relief and that is the jobs plan for the future and no
matter what Republicans say, the reality is that at the end of the day they
are looking out for the folks at the very top. We know from our own
history.

SHARPTON: Yes.

VAN HOLLEN: That history is bankrupt.

SHARPTON: And these are things we need. If you look at what
hurricane did to New York and New Jersey, we certainly need to work on the
infrastructure.

Congressman Chris Van Hollen, thank you for your time tonight.

VAN HOLLEN: Thank you. Great to be with you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, Republicans are now hammering Susan Rice for old
news that went back 14 years. We`ll talk live to former U.N. ambassador
Bill Richardson about how Susan Rice can survive these attacks.

And one Republican candidate, now blowing the whistle on unfair GOP
politic. We are listening. Are Republicans? Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Arizona`s notorious sheriff Joe Arpaio wants to set things
straight when it comes to his lousy record on diversity and civil rights.
Arpaio told the Arizona republic he can quote "get along great with the
Hispanics." The Hispanics? Not exactly spreading the love.

Here`s what Arpaio said after winning re-election despite an
aggressively challenge from a Latino activist.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE ARPAIO, MARICOPA COUNTY SHERIFF, ARIZONA: I would hope to get
together with the Latino community if I could ever have them talk to me
without screaming and threatening me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Let the charm offense begin. Arpaio`s long and ugly
history of getting together with the Latino community includes a justice
department lawsuit accusing him of racial profiling, lawsuits linked to
alleged civil rights violations, and the death of a prisoner while in
custody. And recently saying he`ll arm deputies with automatic weapons so
they can hunt down suspected and undocumented immigrants.

Arpaio says now, quote, "I sure would like to meet with Latino
community leaders, in the backroom or in whatever, have a couple of beers
and try to explain." Meet in the backroom? A couple of beers? Does
Arpaio really think a happy hour can erase his offensive record? Not even
a nice try, Sheriff Joe. But we got you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We met a lot of colorful characters during the presidential
campaign. But one really got his face out there. I`m talking about this
young man. His name is Eric Hartsburg. He`s better known as the Romney-
Ryan face tattoo fan, he`s such a big Romney fan, he wanted everyone to
know it. Look at that beauty. But now he`s doing in about face. The
tattoo is coming off. He thinks Romney is a sore looser with those gift
comments. Here`s what he told Politico.

Quote, "He`s pretty shameful as far as I`m concerned. Man, there`s no
dignity in blaming somebody else for buying votes and paying off people. I
can`t get behind that or stay behind that."

And it`s not just the tattooed man. Jon Huntsman, a former candidate
told the Huffington Post, the GOP primary barriers to quote, "pretty damn
low." And it got worse. Wow! But the harsh is those of reality comes
from GOP strategist Mike Murphy. He says, "We repel Latino, the fattest
growing voter group in the country, with our nativist opposition to
immigration reform that offers a path to citizenship. We repel younger
voters, who are much more secular than our parents, with our opposition to
same-sex marriage and our scolding tone on social issues. And we have lost
much of our once solid connection to the middle class on kitchen-table
economic issues."

He has it right. But the GOP is too busy fighting to listen. Joining
me now is Toure, host of "THE CYCLE" here on MSNBC and Erin McPike,
national political reporter for Real Clear Politics. Thank you both for
your time tonight.

TORE, MSNBC HOST, "THE CYCLE": Thank you.

ERIN MCPIKE, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Thank you.

TORE: You look great, by the way. Great outfit.

SHARPTON: Well, we`ve both got on black suits, black tie, white
shirts. We`re going out as the Blues Brothers. But let me ask you, Toure,
since election night, this has been a GOP partying crisis.

TOURE: Absolutely.

SHARPTON: Where do you see it going?

TOURE: Heading directly toward losing in 2016. I mean, one of the
two big issues this week. We have the fiscal cliff where, once again, they
are the party of the wealthy defending the two percent against getting a
tax cut. Maybe they will have to get into it eventually. But there are
going to be weeks and weeks before they give into them of defending the
wealthy. Not a good look. And what`s the other big story of the week?
Susan Rice, where they are wrongfully attacking a person who has done
nothing wrong.

They are not searching for real answers. They are searching for
demonization of a black person. Is it racist? No. I`m not saying John
McCain is racist. But you have the optics of this white man along with
Lindsey Graham attacking this black woman who has done nothing wrong. It
doesn`t look good and it pushes blacks and women again to say this party is
not for me, this party doesn`t represent me in any way.

Plus, what`s the other big issue they need to get around on?
Immigration. Right? The issues that matter to Latinos. Are they doing
anything positive? Not repelling Latinos, as Mike Murphy talked about.
No, they`re not. They don`t even show respect in a way they discuss Latino
issues going forward. So, I think the party is looking exactly where it
was right before they lost.

SHARPTON: Well, and I don`t think anyone is calling anyone racist.
But I think that you are really playing to your weaknesses when you only
attack Susan Rice. You`re not going to deal with some of those who
directly were responsible for the consulate that you`re not talking about
at all.

TOURE: If you want to talk about Hillary Clinton who is the secretary
of state.

SHARPTON: Or Petraeus.

TOURE: Or Petraeus or anybody else in the intelligence community.
They are the reason why Susan Rice`s presentation was the way it was.

SHARPTON: But they`re not even mention. That`s why I think a lot of
people are saying, what`s going on here? But let me ask you, Erin, you
covered the campaign. And I want to tell you more about Jon Huntsman`s
criticism of his party. Here`s what he said about his fellow primary
contenders. And I`m quoting here. I looked down the debate stage and half
of them were probably on FOX contracts at one point in their career. You
do that. You write some books, you go out and you sell some more and get a
radio gig or TV gig out of it or something. You say to yourself, the
barriers of entry to this game are pretty damn low. This is Huntsman
talking about his fellow primary contenders.

MCPIKE: Yes. Well, that was not a surprise, you know, last year. I
mean, in 2011, many people were saying at that point that the republican
primary field was very weak. Now, Republicans going forward feel a little
bit better about 2016 because they think that they have a very strong
primary field. But it isn`t any big secret that that field was very weak.

TOURE: But Erin, you know, they said we have a strong bench. We have
a strong team. But the primary is focused on appealing to voters at the
extremes and you can`t do that in the current climate when the Republican
Party --

SHARPTON: I think that was his point. I think his point is that they
deal in extreme for a lot of reasons and I think that if we continue to
hear the same rhetoric and policies, it doesn`t matter how prestigious or
how much stature the bench has. If it the same policies, they`re not going
anywhere.

TOURE: Look, ultimately it`s going to be a person with an R after
their name, right. So, to get that R after her name, you have to go
through that mountain to get there and you have to go so extreme to get
that that it`s going to be hard to come back to becoming a moderate person
who thinks things that the vast majority of people can stomach to be
thought.

SHARPTON: Erin, when you look at the fact that they lost African-
American voters, 87 percent, Hispanics, 44 percent, single women by 36
percent, how do they turn that around no matter who they have on that
bench, how do they turn that around unless they start dealing differently
with positions and policies that they have to vehemently support in their
primaries?

MCPIKE: Well, look, I think we`re hearing from Republicans right now
that they are doing a lot of soul searching, on the political side of
things, a lot of strategists are saying they need to change the structure
and to some degree of the primary. One example of that is the straw poll
in Iowa, which is a really big show. They want to get rid of that. They
want to change some things. The other thing on the policy side is I`ve
talked to a lot of Republicans who say that they think comprehensive
immigration reform will be done next year and there won`t be a ton of
fireworks because they know they need to seed some -- or to make some
concessions there and change their rhetoric as far as Latinos are
concerned.

SHARPTON: Well, I mean, this isn`t the first time we`ve heard this,
Toure.

TOURE: Yes.

SHARPTON: Moderate pundits and strategists in the GOP frustrated by
extremists like Rush Limbaugh. We`ve heard this before. Let me show you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: We cannot be coward by them. We
have to -- when they say things that are culturally insensitive and stupid,
we need to go after them and say, this is not right. We got to stand up.
We need some real leadership within the party and say, you know, you are
alienated voters that we want to attract, knock it off.

MIKE MURPHY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: We`ve got to get it kind of a
party view of America that`s not right out of Rush Limbaugh dream journal.

STEVE SCHMIDT, FORMER MCCAIN CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Whoever is not
conservative should not be confined around who agrees with whatever
outrageousness comes out of the mouth of these talk radio show hosts.
Enough is enough.

DAVID FRUM, FORMER BUSH SPEECHWRITER: The conservative power ship
have been fleeced, exploited and lied to by the conservative entertainment
complex.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The question is, can those moderate voices dominate the
party and can they surface a candidate or candidates that can get through
the primary?

TOURE: I don`t know. We will have to see. But we have an ecosystem
where you have these talk radio voices that fill the masses or the extreme
masses of the GOP with these ideas, these demonization of blacks, of single
women, of Latinos especially, and they take those ideas and they believe in
them and it`s an ultimate reality bubble where facts can`t survive in that
bubble. So, the electorate is getting filled with that stuff. And when
you have moderate candidates, like a Jon Huntsman who is an adult, who is a
reasonable thinking person, they cannot survive in that primary atmosphere
and you get people who cannot win in a general. Look, do not forget, they
have lost five out of six consecutive popular votes. When is the last time
they won a popular vote?

SHARPTON: Five out of the last six, Erin, they have lost. And there
are only 38 percent of the approval of the Republican Party. Now, that`s
down seven points just since the election. They are going south in terms
of support. Not up, Erin. And they lost five of the last six national
elections. They lost to popular vote.

MCPIKE: Yes. Look, that is not lost on many Republicans in
Washington. They know that. Now, what I don`t think that we`re going to
see is the Republican Party moderating. They don`t want to do that. What
it`s going to be is, if there is a change, some sort of shift in the next
four years with the Republican Party, it`s going to be about a different
emphasis of issue. They may not emphasize social issues so that they can
talk about fiscal issues and we do see that Americans are, in some
respects, more fiscally conservative than Democrats are. And if they move
in that direction, that could be good. Who is to say that it`s going to
happen? But if there`s a shift, that`s what it would be.

SHARPTON: I`m going to have to leave it there. Toure and Erin
McPike, thank you both for your time this evening.

TOURE: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Don`t forget to catch Toure on "THE CYCLE" at 3:00 p.m.
weekdays here on MSNBC.

Vice President Biden goes to Costco and he bought his Costco`s car.
And the crowd loved it. That story coming up.

Why the smearing of Susan Rice? What is behind it? Bill Richardson,
former governor of New Mexico and former ambassador to the United Nations
joins me on that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Secretary of State is not qualified.

JON STEWART, STAND-UP COMEDIAN: Senator John McCain considering his
seven-year quest to negate every good he`d ever done prior to that.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Vice President Joe Biden is known as regular Joe, the guy
who connects with average Americans. One reason, he loves a holiday
bargain. Here he is at the grand opening of Costco in Washington, D.C. He
hit the aisles and it was classic Joe Biden. Even if the shopping spree
started a bit rough.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VICE PRES. JOE BIDEN (D), UNITED STATES: I got to show my card first,
do I? I didn`t have my own card. (INAUDIBLE) So, I went to get my wife`s
card and she said, no, no, no, you get your own.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He just reactivated his Costco card yesterday and good for
him because he was ready for some shopping. The first stop was for
cookies. Where he met a friend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: Hey. All right, man. Army Strong.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Oh, yes.

BIDEN: My son`s army.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And then he made his way over to the pie section.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: Stay here man, I don`t want to get in the way of a man and his
pie.

What flavors do you have?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I have apple and pumpkin right here.

BIDEN: I`m not stealing your pie, am I?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: As long as it`s not blueberry pie, Mr. Vice President. So,
let`s see what he bought today. He picked up some children`s book for his
grandchildren, very nice. And some -- and apple pie. Not my favorite but
to each his own. And a nice 32-inch Panasonic television. I know that`s
for watching POLITICS NATION. But he didn`t pick up any of Mitt Romney`s
favorite shirts. Or kidding aside, there are some other reasons the Vice
President went to Costco today. One, to encourage consumer spending. And,
two, Costco is a shining example.

A lot of American companies should treat their workers, especially at
a time when other stores are taking advantage of them. The co-founder and
former CEO made it a priority to take care of his employees. The average
pay is $17 an hour, 42 percent higher than rivals. They receive full
benefits. He earned less than $500,000 last year as CEO. And he refuses
Wall Street`s demands to cut salaries. That`s no malarkey. That`s the
kind of business we should support.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: This week, Republicans sank to a new low in their agenda of
attacks on U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice. But the ongoing question is why?

What is behind the relentless campaign by Senator John McCain and
others to take her down?

Joining me now is Bill Richardson who was ambassador to the United
Nations from 1997 to 1998. He`s also the former governor of New Mexico.
Governor, thanks for being here tonight.

FMR. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: Nice to be with you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Now, you`ve been in politics a long time. Can you explain
what McCain is up to with these attacks?

RICHARDSON: Well, obviously the political season is on. It`s
unfortunate. I mean, the issue here is this. One, the president of the
United States has a right to name their secretary of state. This is
traditionally always been given by the Senate to the President. There`s
never any debate. Secondly, is Susan Rice qualified? She certainly is.
She`s worked on African issues, a road scholar, as U.N. ambassador she`s
been the one that tightened the sanctions on Libya, on North Korea. She`s
articulate. She knows the issues. She`s a very hard worker. That`s the
issue, Reverend. And if the president wants to nominate her secretary of
state, we should just put the politics aside. She didn`t know about this
Benghazi issue. So --

SHARPTON: But that`s what I want to get to. They are accusing her of
giving bad information. But so has Senator McCain and Graham. Watch this,
Governor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: I believe that Saddam Hussein presents clear and present
danger to United States of America which is continued pursued of to acquire
weapons of mass destruction and there`s very little doubt that he would use
them. We`re going to find massive evidence of weapons of mass destruction
and we`re going to find incredible brutalities that this dictator has
inflicted upon the Iraqi people.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: He has weapons of mass destruction. He was lying
when he says he doesn`t and he will never voluntarily disarm.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, this led up to the Iraq war. Both of them saying
there were weapons of mass destruction that wasn`t there. These are the
people now that are trying to say that Susan Rice gave bad information when
she gave information that she was given by intelligence.

RICHARDSON: You know, Reverend, I held the job Susan did, as you
mentioned. And we would get, whenever we would go on a news show, or
everyday an intelligence briefing or a piece of paper that gave you the
guidance that you have on an event that happen overseas. Susan was
following that guidance and she did it very well. She did it on news
shows. And to suggest that she was misleading the American people when, as
you know, she`s at the U.N. working in the Security Council in New York.
By the way, I remember, Governor, when I was U.N. ambassador, I gave you a
reception at the U.N. mission. You remember that, Reverend?

SHARPTON: I remember you did give me a reception at the --

RICHARDSON: And the reason I raise that, is this is a New York job
but it`s in the cabinet. So you`re not, you know, a security officer in
Benghazi.

SHARPTON: Right.

RICHARDSON: You are U.N. ambassador before close to 200 countries and
Susan has done an admirable job.

SHARPTON: Now, you also have Senator Susan Collins accuse Susan Rice
of taking a political role when she went on those Sunday shows you just
referred to. But why did anyone accuse Condoleezza Rice of being political
in 2004 when she appeared on ABC`s this week one month before the 2004
election and in that appearance she called Bush a strong leader and she
was appearing as the national security adviser. All over the place they
are using different standards which clearly goes back to your point of,
this is politics. This clearly can`t be positions that they believe are
practiced.

RICHARDSON: That`s right. And Reverend, a U.N. ambassador, a
Secretary of State, they don`t get into domestic politics. But when
there`s an explanation that is needed on foreign policy to the American
people, they do go on news shows. I used to go on news shows. Susan Rice
has been on other news shows besides those five. The Secretary of State,
they are the chief foreign policy spokesman of the administration to
suggest not to go on new shows, because that`s political is just not part
of precedent and it`s wrong. I think Senator Collins is -- I know her. I
think she`s trying to do the best job she can. But to say not to go on
those new shows, that doesn`t really jive.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you one other thing, Governor, about Senator
Collins. She wants Susan Rice to explain her role in the bombings in
Africa, Tanzania and Kenya in 1998. You were the ambassador in 1998. Did
Susan Rice have any oversight or any authority at all that dealt with those
embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that she would have to explain?

RICHARDSON: No. She is not a security officer, she is not a homeland
security officer. At the time, she was assistant secretary of Africa on
policy. She was making policy towards Sudan, towards Kenya, towards South
Africa. An excellent policymaker but she was not in charge of embassy
security. That`s diplomatic security, that are other entities that,
unfortunately, we had that tragedy. But to suggest that Susan had a role
in that, is just not appropriate, it`s not right, and policy wise, she was
making foreign policy for Africa, she wasn`t in charge of the buildings in
our embassy.

SHARPTON: All right. I`m going to have to leave it there. Always
good to see you, Governor Bill Richardson.

RICHARDSON: Thank you.

SHARPTON: It was great to have you on the show tonight and great for
you to clear up a lot because you were there. You were a U.N. ambassador
at the time.

RICHARDSON: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Well, that`s the show for tonight. Thanks for watching.
I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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