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updated 2/5/2013 12:04:09 PM ET 2013-02-05T17:04:09

POLITICS NATION
February 4, 2013

Guests: Dana Milbank; Clarence Page; Michelle Cottle; Michael Steele; Angela Rye, Jared Bernstein, Joe Madison, Victoria DeFrancesco-Soto


REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Thanks, Chris. And thanks to you for
tuning in. I`m live tonight in Sacramento, California.

Tonight`s lead, America versus the NRA. Today, President Obama took his
fight for gun safety outside of Washington calling for action, debunking
the NRA lies and making sure everyone knows we can`t wait for change.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don`t have to agree on
everything to agree it`s time to do something. If we have got lobbyists in
Washington, claiming to speak for gun owners, saying something different,
we need to go to the source and reach out to people directly.

There`s no legislation to eliminate all guns. There`s no legislation being
proposed to subvert the second amendment. There won`t be perfect
solutions. We are not going to save every life. But we can make a
difference. And that`s our responsibility as Americans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That`s the reality of this gun debate. But the NRA is pushing a
fantasy. The head of the NRA was pedaling misstatements on FOX when he got
called out for it, including his TV ad criticizing security for the
president`s daughters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Mr. Lapierre, do you regret putting up
that ad?

WAYNE LAPIERRE, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: The
point of that ad was this. It wasn`t picking on the president`s kids --

WALLACE: It mentions them.

LAPIERRE: The president`s kids are safe and we`re all thankful for it.

WALLACE: They also face a threat that most people do not face.

LAPIERRE: Tell that to the people in Newtown.

WALLACE: Do you really think the president`s children are the same kind of
target as every school child in America? That`s ridiculous, and you know
it, sir.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: We learned this weekend the NRA created a kind of enemy`s list.
All the people they think are out to get them. So who`s on the list? The
NRA is scared of MacGyver, Richard Dean Anderson, the nanny, Fran Dresher
and the Fonz, Henry Winkler. Yes, the Fonz is going to gut the Second
Amendment.

There are lots of singers on the NRA`s enemy list including Chaka Khan,
Brittany Spears and the entire line up of Boyz II Men. The NRA has also
see - they seem to have this weird obsession with actors from batman movies
including Jack Nicholson, Danny Devito and Michelle Pfeiffer, and finally,
Kerry Fisher, (INAUDIBLE) and Leonard Nemoy are all on the enemy`s list.
Yes, SPAAK wants to take away your guns. Americans want a serious
conversation about gun safety, but the NRA is just a joke.

Joining me now is Clarence Page and Michelle Cottle.

Clarence, with an enemy`s list like that, does the NRA have any friends
left?

CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Well, you would think they wouldn`t. But,
they have really got into a habit of making themselves, you know, casting
themselves, casting the gun-opening communality as an oppressed minority,
really. They constantly pushed the language of a group that as being put
upon by people who don`t understand them. And once you start down that
track, then anybody who criticizes you becomes part of the enemy. That`s
why you wind up with batman and who else on that list.

But, it`s a sign of desperation right now that they see they`re on the
defensive, especially after Sandy Hook, not to mention the other massacre
we put up with, and how much we`ve overreached in the past and the public
now is making a pushback.

SHARPTON: But it also, Michelle, shows you that people have to, even if
they were inclined to listen to them, have to wonder when you take people,
Danny Devito, Jack Nicholson, their enemies. And then at what level do you
say wait a minute, does anybody that even slightly disagree with you become
a threat to the second amendment? Maybe this is not about the second
amendment. Maybe this is about a right-winger agenda.

I mean, when you look at the NRA`s enemy list, the American Medical
Association, National Association of Police Organizations, League of Women
Voters, YWCA, United Methodist Church. I mean, these are not enemies of
the second amendment. We all don`t have to agree with you to not be an
enemy, Michelle.

MICHELLE COTTLE, WASHINGTON REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST, NEWSWEEK: Well, I
think Clarence is exactly right in terms of it is very important, at this
point, for them to stoke this feeling of victim hood and besiegement and
paranoia among the membership.

And, you know, maybe we can through the Smurfs on the list. We can argue
all day about what kind of threat Brittany Spears poses to America. But
clearly, this is just kind of casting this wide, absurd net that has no
bearing upon kind of a serious conversation of what needs to be done here.

SHARPTON: Now, Clarence, the president is pushing a big agenda. And he`s
dealing with it from Newtown to Chicago. Look at what happened in the
super bowl ads. He`s really pushing a huge effort here to try and deal
with gun reform.

PAGE: That`s true. And I think --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The NRA once supported background checks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We think it`s reasonable to provide mandatory, instant
criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: America can do this for us. Please.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, that ad ran in the super bowl was the mayor`s against guns
with Mayor Bloomberg out of New York. But the stage, the climate has been
set by the president. And I`m sure it will continue throughout the state
of the union address. So he`s dealing with mayors and law enforcement all
the way to mothers groups and congressional leadership, a real big picture
fight on this, Clarence.

PAGE: That`s true. And what`s really important here about that ad is that
it shows that for a change, the gun control side, the gun safety side, has
got some money to put ads on the air, Mayor Bloomberg personally has
financed that campaign. And you`ve got Gabby Giffords and other folks now.
It doesn`t match the money the NRA has. And it`s important to point out
that the NRA`s membership as gun owners, but their money comes mostly from
the gun industry. They`ve got a lot of money at stake here. And that has
been a real advantage for them in the past. But President Obama is
spending real political capital on this. His second term is just beginning
and he has spent more time, I say, more public time on this issue than
anything else. That`s important.

SHARPTON: Now, they`re being rocked, Michelle. We`ve not seen the NRA
rocked and wobbling on their heels like they`re being treated now. Look at
what happened with NRA CEO Wayne Lapierre on FOX News on Sunday. He was
actually getting called up for his hypocrisy and that NRA ad claiming only
elites getting arm security. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: One of the points of that ad that I want to ask you about is you
made it a class argument, the rich, the elite. They have bodyguards. They
have security.

LAPIERRE: Sure. And Mayor Bloomberg has it. Mayor Bloomberg has
bodyguard.

WALLACE: I`ll tell you somebody else who has security. You do.

LAPIERRE: Sometimes, yes.

WALLACE: On Capitol Hill, you had security. Today you have security.
Does that make you an out-of-touch elite because you have security?

LAPIERRE: I don`t deny anybody the right to security when they need it.

WALLACE: My children went to the same school that the Obama children went
to many years ago. They were no armed security there.

LAPIERRE: A third of the schools in the country already have armed
security.

WALLACE: I understand that. But this idea of an elite class is just
nonsense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Nonsense. Nonsense is what he said. I mean, doesn`t that
really add up to all of what the NRA is selling here? You hit people as
elitists if they have armed guards, but you have it sometime. I mean, this
is any kind of rhetoric they could muster to play under fears of people
that have nothing to do with the responsibilities of a nation to make sure
that a Newtown or a Chicago or where ever it is stops happening in our
American lives.

COTTLE: There does seem to be a wisp of desperation.

PAGE: Quite right.

SHARPTON: Go ahead, Michelle.

PAGE: This goes back to the `60s where you find that on the right, they`ve
been coming back at the left with the elitist trough, if you will which is
kind of a - well, it`s a term that is apply to anybody who doesn`t agree
with many, with me, is what it comes down to.

SHARPTON: Now, Michelle, you know one of the other things I saw a super
bowl ad favoring gun safety in the Washington, the market. And it was
joined the flip-flopping of the NRA. Watch this.

SHARPTON: I`ll do the graphics. They were showing support for universal
background checks, 92 percent Americans, 74 percent NRA members. So it
really shows how the NRA`s own members offer background checks.

COTTLE: Yes. I think it`s important to keep in mind here that the NRA
leadership isn`t even speaking for its members in a lot of these
circumstances. You know? I know plenty of people who belong to the NRA
and they don`t agree with what`s being said in their name. And I think the
very special Wayne Lapierre has kind of overreached and it is now to say
it`s contradicting what he said over the years.

There`s a great deal of panic it seems like. I mean, the press conference
that he did back in December, this is the first time they`ve been forced
out to do something like that. Now you see them just throwing everything
at the - you know, at the wall to see what`s going to stick and try to get
people to push, you know trying to get their members fired up as possible.
But they`re having a hard time here. And it does not seem like they`ve
kind of figured out a good strategy yet.

SHARPTON: All right. I`m going to have to leave it there. Clarence Page
and Michelle Cottle, thanks for your time tonight.

COTTLE: Thank you.

PAGE: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Ahead, the Obama playbook and why it`s driving conservatives
crazy.

Plus, Karl Rove versus the tea party. It`s getting ugly. Democrats may
sell popcorn for this one.

And we have a new delusional conspiracy theory. Here come the Skeeters.
You can`t make this stuff up. Well, actually, they can. Big show ahead.
Come on back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Have you joined the "Politics Nation" conversation on facebook
yet? We hope you will. Today, everyone was sharing and talking about the
new commemorative Rosa Parks stamp released on what would have been her
100th birthday.

Irmgard says I can`t wait to buy some. She led the way for freedom.

Kathy says it`s about time and on a forever stamp. That sends a real
message. Remember forever.

Laura says we should all aspire to have her courage and vision.

I have something to say about Rosa Parks` legacy and what she meant to the
civil rights movement coming up later in this show.

But we want to hear what you think, too. Please head over to facebook and
search "Politics Nation" and like us to join the conversation that keeps
going long after the show ends.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: After shellacking the GOP in the election, President Obama has
made it clear. He`s got an agenda and nothing is going to stand in his
way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I will not negotiate around the debt-ceiling. They will not
collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy.
Ordinary folks, they do their jobs. The notion that our elected leadership
can`t do the same thing is mind boggling to him. It needs to stop.

Every year understands us. I mean, that this is not a complicated concept.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He`s standing strong. And that`s making it even harder for an
already divided GOP to regroup. Take exhibit A. Earlier today, Tagg
Romney`s name was floated as a possible GOP Senate candidate in
Massachusetts. He`s since bowed out. Guess he saw what happened to the
last Romney.

And then there`s this. GOP donors are turning to Karl Rove to help weed
out far right candidates in upcoming races. Really? Isn`t he the guy who
blew $300 million in the last election? Whose super PAC had a one percent
success rate? Yes, that guy. And, boy is the tea party upset.

Freedom works slammed Rove`s group saying quote "the empire is striking
back." They calling him, Orwellian." One of the many blatant acts of
hostility. It`s full-on GOP warfare. It`s GOP civil war.

Joining me now is Michael Steele and Dana Milbank.

Thank you both for coming on the show tonight.

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Good to see
you, Rev.

DANA MILBANK, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Hi, Rev.

SHARPTON: Michael, Karl Rove to save the party from the tea party, do you
buy it?

STEELE: No, I don`t. And I don`t think many of the not just tea parties,
but grass roots conservatives around the country will buy that. Here we go
another top down solution. Instead of taking those dollars out of the
states and, you know, hunkering them down here in a newly created super PAC
in Washington, how about investing in the state party organizations around
the country to help them build the farm team that is going to be required
to win in the future.

This is not an overnight success deal, Reverend. You cannot come from the
shellacking of `06 and `08 and now 2012 and think that you are going to
turn it all around by throw more dollars at it. Our problems are bigger
than big donors spending big dollars. And until they realize that, this is
a waste of time and a waste of cash.

Focus on state party ground game organization. Focus on building good
candidates from the bottom up. Running for local offices so the voters get
to know who they are, the party gets to vet them in the process. And you
don`t do this one-off craziness where you think all of a sudden that you
can just create another outside organization and go from there.

And if this group is going to be picking and choosing our conservative
candidates going forward, would they have picked Dick Luger in his primary
race over the choice of the voter, the local voter? So, you`re setting
this up to pre- battles within the parties that I think are highly
unnecessary and not going to be helpful.

SHARPTON: But, really, Dana, isn`t this more than just about the internal
balls in the Republican Party? Isn`t it Barack Obama, the president of the
United States has put together a real way of mobilizing a new America,
given the demographics of today and has gone forward and laid out an agenda
and they don`t know what to do with it? They`re stumbling all over
themselves because they don`t know what to doo.

MILBANK: Well, it`s a little bit of both of those things, Reverend. There
is sort of a circular firing squad going on right now. And I think to one
extent, Michael Steele is right. And look. If he couldn`t save the
Republican Party, I don`t think anybody can.

I think Karl Rove has correctly diagnosed a problem in that is that in
these primaries, they`re running all of these far right candidates are
winning and that`s causing them to lose elections. They would be in charge
of the Senate if they didn`t have all of these far right candidates who
ultimately wound up losing in the general election.

But then you do get into this civil war thing where you may just get a lot
of people spending a lot of money and winding up with the same result that
we have right now. In the larger picture, yes, the problem is not so much
is candidates, but the demographic problems that are up against the party
in the long run. So this may be a short term fix if they can make it work.
But that`s going to be very hard.

SHARPTON: But you also have some people that are just way out there,
Michael. I mean, you led the party, the GOP, under your leadership that
gained 63 seats. And then you had to deal with people that appeared to be
out of it. I`m being kind. I mean, you had to deal with people -- let me
show you one. How do you deal with people that say things like this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m not a witch. I`m nothing you`ve heard. I`m you.
None of us are perfect, but none of us can be happy with what we see all
around us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now have, I mean, give me a leadership lesson, Michael. How do
you deal with a woman that starts an ad with saying I`m not a witch.

STEELE: Well, look, Reverend. You make the point. It`s tougher to deal
with that situation after the fact. And certainly, during my tenure at the
RNC, when we had those earlier primaries and these decisions were made,
whether it was with Mike Hassle in Delaware or Bob Bennett out in Utah,
what I did was I sat down with tea party activists from around the country.
I either went to where they were or called them from Washington. We made
it very clear. Look. Let`s not eat our own. Let`s find the best
conservative candidates that we can run. That`s someone who`s inside the
party already. Get behind them and back them. If you`ve got a new talent,
let`s vet that process and get behind that candidate.

So there is a way to do this. You cannot do it after the fact because then
you`re reacting. You`re reacting to comment, I`m not a witch, as opposed
to getting in front. And I appreciate that part of what Rove and others
are trying to do. But my question is how do you do this separate and apart
from the activists, the ground folk, who are out there who already worked
with these candidates, potential candidate? If you`re not at that table,
then you`re not in the game here. And you are not, to Dana`s point, you`re
not going to have a long lasting, even a short term, impact.

SHARPTON: Now, in the middle of this GOP civil war, Dana, what does it do
to the president`s agenda? How does it impact where he`s trying to go in
terms of immigration and gun legislation and how he`s got to deal with
sequestering? I mean, dealing with the fact that the overwhelming majority
of Americans polled supports the president`s agenda, clearly he won by a
wide margin, wider than President Bush`s reelection. What happens in the
middle of this civil war to the president`s agenda where most Americans
are?

MILBANK: Well, on the one hand, Reverend, it`s a distraction which can be
good for the president because if the facts within the Republican Party are
fighting each other, they`re not fight in fighting the president.

But the dominant thing going on in the party right now is that what
Republicans particularly in the house are most worried about is not
opposing Obama enough. And they feel that they`ll be in a primary
challenge if they`re seen as doing that, so. And that`s going to make them
resist the president at every turn. So in this sense, in a very odd sense,
Karl Rove could be assisting the president here in trying to bring these
people in a more sensible direction. You know, I wish him great good luck
with that, but it`s a tall order.

SHARPTON: Well, we`ll see. I mean, because it`s the agenda that I`m
concerned about. You know, I have watched - I would get popcorn to watch
the GOP civil war. I just want to make sure that we can all afford the
butter.

Michael Steele and Dana Milbank, thanks for your time this evening.

STEELE: All right, Rev. Take care.

MILBANK: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Ahead, President Obama summons Wall Street big wigs to the White
House tomorrow. There are things they will support in his agenda, it
appears.

And move over, Birthers, here comes the Skeeters, more delusional
conspiracies from the right. Come on back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Stop the presses. The right wing says there`s a new model
threat in town. Ready for this one? Newspapers!

This paper Maine`s water bill "Morning Sentinel" started it all. It
reported that main governor Paul Lepage said quote "my greatest fear in the
state of Maine, newspapers. I`m not a fan of newspapers." Nothing scarier
than your local paper. Maine`s governor is scared and so is Texas arch
conservative senator Ted Cruz.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: The first thing I would urge to every republican
in the House of Representatives is stop reading "The New York Times."

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

Cancel your subscription.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST, "POLITICS NATION": Forget about changing their
policies. Republicans can just stop reading the papers. There`s some
scary stuff in there. Republicans ignore anything that contradicts them.
That`s why the right was convinced Mitt Romney would win. Even when the
polls showed otherwise.

But I`ve got some bad news. Republicans can`t pretend bad headlines don`t
exist and they can`t go straight to the funny pages, either.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATIE COURIC, ABC NEWS: What newspapers and magazines did you regularly
read before you were tapped for this -- to stay informed and understand the
world?

SARAH PALIN, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: I`ve read most of them, again, with a
great appreciation for the press, for the media, coming --

COURIC: But like which ones specifically? I`m curious that you --

PALIN: All of them. Any of them that have been in front of me over all of
these years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Republicans don`t have to read all of the papers. But they
can`t just get the ones that talk about their failures. Do they think we
let them get away with this one? Here`s a headline for the right wing.
Nice try but we got you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: He ran on it, he fought for it, now we`re seeing the President
uses bully pulpit to celebrate fairness. So there`s no bigger stage than a
Super Bowl. Before kickoff, the President made it clear, his focus is on
equal rights for all. For women in combat.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The truth is that women
are serving. They are taking great risks what we should not do is somehow
prevent them from advancing in an institution that we all revere.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And for gay rights.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Gays and lesbians should have access and opportunity the same way
everybody else does. In every institution and walk of life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And then he went back to the driving theme of his campaign.
Economic fairness. On the issue of revenue, he isn`t done raising taxes on
the wealthy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: When you look at some of these deductions that certain folks are
able to take advantage of, the average person can`t take advantage of them.
The average person doesn`t have access to Cayman Island accounts, the
average person doesn`t have access to carried interest income. We just
want to make sure that the whole system is fair.

That it`s transparent. And that we`re reducing our deficit in a way that
doesn`t hamper growth, reduce the kinds of, you know, strategies that we
need in order to make sure that we`re creating good jobs and a strong
middle class.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Strong middle class. Make sure the system is fair. It`s game
on for this president. Joining me now is political strategist Angela Rye
and economist Jared Bernstein. Thank you both for being with us tonight.

JARED BERNSTEIN, CENTER ON BUDGET AND POLICY PRIORITIES: My pleasure.

ANGELA RYE, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Thank you, Reverend Al.

SHARPTON: Jared, let me go to you first. Tax fairness is a big part of
what the President wants to get done. Take a look at this. There are many
middle class households that are actually paying a higher tax rate than
households that make over a million dollars a year because they don`t get
most of their money from investments. Will the President`s policies change
this problem?

BERNSTEIN: They will and they already are, to some extent. But there`s
more to be done there, just like the President just said. In the deal that
ended the fiscal cliff, the tax rate at least for folks at the very top of
the income scale, above $450,000, on capital gains and dividends, OK,
capital gains is what you get when you sell an appreciated stock. Its
value goes up. Those are called capital gains.

That went up from 15 to 20 percent but of course 20 percent does already
below the tax rate that folks at the top of the scale pay on their
earnings. So, the President is saying there`s a lot more room there to
close out some of those loopholes and deductions. You heard him mentioned
carried interest, OK. That`s a deal where the manager of a drugstore gets
taxed at the rate of his earnings. A manager of a hedge fund gets those
special privileged tax rates on the capital gains or the dividends.

SHARPTON: Now, Angela, I know you`re a political strategist, but you
worked on The Hill with some of the Congress people that represented some
of the more working class districts in the country. And this is not about
class warfare. When you look at the fact that the bottom 20 percent of
Americans only get three percent of all tax breaks, the top 20 percent get
66 percent of all tax breaks. We`re talking about inequality here. We`re
not talking about class warfare, us against them. We`re talking about
fairness, Angela?

RYE: No, I think that`s exactly right, Reverend Al. You have a President
who`s now demonstrating on an ongoing commitment to not only economic
fairness, but making sure that the playing field is level across the board.
So, we have a lot of work to do in this country with policymaking relative
to both private sector and public sector protection of jobs.

BERNSTEIN: You know, Reverend, let me make a comment about that.

SHARPTON: You go ahead, Jared.

BERNSTEIN: And it`s a football analogy. So it`s in season.

Look, we`ve already got enough inequality coming out of the basic economy
just from the market outcomes. But then when the tax system comes in and
exacerbates those inequalities, makes them worse, that sounds like
unnecessary roughness. It`s taking a situation that`s already too unequal
by historical turns and it`s doubling down on it.

SHARPTON: But Angela, when you go back to the Congress, where you worked
for some times, I can`t say years, you`re not that old, but you worked for
some time. And you look at the fact that Congress is talking deficit,
sequester, the lead editorial in the New York Times and Republicans,
forgive me for reading the "New York Times" but it says, in the lead
editorial today, quote, "Congress should be thinking about ways to
accelerate the economy instead of remaining preoccupied with a short term
deficit."

Job losses could be sharply reduced if half or more of the spending cuts
were replaced by revenue increases, as President Obama and Congressional
Democrats have demanded." So, what we`re looking at is they`re talking
about cutting, which would really eliminate more jobs rather than
accelerating the economy, Angela?

RYE: Right. I think we need to, you know, drill down a little bit.
Sequestration is the process by which automatic spending cuts take place.
And a lot of folks are hearing this big word being thrown around and don`t
understand that that means immediate impact to their everyday lives.

SHARPTON: Right.

RYE: If sequestration were to happen, we`re talking about necessary
employees being furloughed from the federal government. People like the
border patrol and folks like air safety and air safety workers. The other
thing that we need to look at are the types of education programs that
would be cut. We`re talking special Ed and head start. They are programs
that we cannot afford to see gone or cut in any way, shape or form which is
a non-discretionary spending which is a part of the sequestration process.

SHARPTON: Jared, tomorrow the President announced he`s meeting with some
CEOs from Wall Street, Goldman Sachs Group, Lloyd Blankfein and Yahoo`s
Marissa Myer and others. What can he achieve by meeting with them? What
can we hope to get them to help to do to deal with this situation?

BERNSTEIN: I think explaining the kinds of observations we were just
talking about, this set of automatic spending cuts is supposed to kick in,
in March. We`ve already got an economy that`s growing too slow to support
the job growth that working people need. Take another $85 billion out of
that economy this year in 2013, one year alone, and you`re going to shift
an economy that`s already, you know, struggling in second gear down to
something lower than that.

And that simply won`t help. I also think it would be useful to talk about,
sure, the President has always been on board of cutting out -- getting
inefficiencies out of the system, out of the health care system.

SHARPTON: Right.

BERNSTEIN: There are spending cuts to be had there. But it`s got to be
balanced. And it`s got to be balanced with new revenues. And the
revenues, as the President said, they don`t have to come from higher tax
rates. We`ve already been there. But they ought to come from closing some
of these loopholes, these expenditures, that unfairly favor those at the
very top of the scale, the folks who are already doing the best anyway.

SHARPTON: Angela Rye and Jared Bernstein, I want to have to leave it
there, thanks for your time tonight.

BERNSTEIN: Thank you.

RYE: Thank you, Reverend Al.

SHARPTON: Ahead, honoring Rosa Parks on her 100th birthday. She refused
to stand up and allow this nation to move forward. But, first, Obama
critics unhinged. It`s the new birthers and it`s all about this photo.
Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Right wingers can`t believe their eyes. Literally, maybe they
need some POLITICS NATION glasses. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Move over, birthers. We had new conspiracy theory crazies on
the block. They`re known now as the skeeters. It`s all coming from this
photo showing President Obama skeet shooting in August. The White House
released it after the President said he did it at Camp David. So, why
would the President of the United States have to prove it? Hmmm. I wonder
why?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: His response quote, "yes, in fact, up at
Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time."

Really? All the time?

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: If he is a skeet shooter, why have
we not heard of this? Why have we not seen photos?

ERIC BOLLING, FOX NEWS CO-HOST, "THE FIVE": Has anyone ever heard
President Obama owns a gun? Has a gun? Has shot a gun? Likes to shoot?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: No, well, where`s a picture? They release a
photograph of President Obama doing everything except for flossing.

SHARPTON: How did we not hear of this? Where are the pictures? But, now,
the skeeters are in overdrive. New York magazine created a guide to the
conservative conspiracy theories out there. The angle of the gun is all
wrong. It`s not skeet shooting. It`s not high. It`s not low. The smoke
pattern looks funny. What the heck is that second smoke stream? And look
at the president`s stance? It`s all wrong. What a crazy body position.
It must be a fake.

And where is the hat to shield his eyes, never mind those sunglasses. All
skeet shooters wear hats. But this last one takes the cake. One
conservative blogger says, quote, "The arms don`t look right." And I don`t
recall Obama having a pot belly. Way to go there, Sherlock Holmes. This
is actually happening right now in America. You can`t make this stuff up.
You can`t imagine this stuff. Except they do. They make it up. And it`s
an embarrassment to their party.

Joining me now is Joe Madison and Victoria DeFrancesco-Soto. Thanks for
your time.

JOE MADISON, SIRIUS XM RADIO HOST: Thanks for having me.

VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO-SOTO, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Joe, what do you make of this? Why won`t this conspiracy theory
stop?

MADISON: Because he failed to shoot his partner, I guess, in the face like
the former vice president did. I don`t understand it. Maybe that`s what
he had to do. But the reality is that -- and I`ll get serious about this,
once again, this is, like, Joe Wilson calling the president a liar. The
representative from Tennessee.

SHARPTON: Right.

MADISON: And Wilson, the President lied to the new republic, therefore,
lied to the American people. And at what point in time are we, as
Americans, going to stop allowing this President to be insulted in this
way? Why would the president of the United States lie about something like
this? And so this is, once again, I just hope that he is as good of a
skeet shooter as he is at shooting holes in all of these theories that have
come up.

Birther, everything else, his transcripts. If he shoots skeets as good as
he shoots holes in the rest of these conspiracies, then he ought to join
the Olympic team.

SHARPTON: But you know, Victoria, it is ludicrous, but it is becoming
predictable. And they lose credibility with every new conspiracy. I mean,
even the former Obama Advisor David Plouffe predicted the fake outrage with
the tweet over the weekend saying attention skeet birthers, make our day,
let the Photoshop conspiracies begin. Plouffe-Newark (ph) was coming.

MADISON: Yes.

SHARPTON: I mean, they`re predictable and outrageous, Victoria?

SOTO: And conspiracy theories, they are time honored, American traditions.
These are the black helicopter people. These are the people that put foil
on their head so that the government doesn`t read their minds. So they`re
nothing new. President Jefferson was accused of, you know, wanting to ban
Christianity. But what is new is the frequency of it. And the past four-
and-a-half years that the President has been in office, less than that,
we`ve had over half a dozen conspiracy theories.

So, that is unique to this president. And what I also find unique is that
we`re moving from the fringe from the talk radio shows and from the extreme
blog posts to mainstream political institutions. So, in early November of
last year, we had the Georgia state Senate convene hearings to hear about
agenda 21, which is a conspiracy theory that states that the President
wants the turn the United States into a socialist nation via mind control.

So, you know, we are seeing two new elements to the whole conspiracy theory
element, which is a little frightening.

SHARPTON: No, but they get way out there and I mean, it`s just crazy.
And, Joe, when you look at -- let me give you a high light of another
conspiracy from the photo. This one has to do with his shirt. A
conservative blogger and film maker claims it`s not possible for the
president to wear tree different shirts in the same day. Outfit number
one, he points out, the President is wearing a white polo shirt and dark
slacks.

Outfit number two, later that day he`s wearing a white button down and
khakis. Outfit number three, and in the skeet shooting photo, he`s wearing
a black shirt and jeans. There`s no way he could possible wear three
shirts in one day. I mean, they`re reduced to belittling the President and
distracting the public by discussing his wardrobe. I mean, Joe, this is
crazy.

MADISON: I like your wardrobe and I bet you`re going to change clothes
before the evening is over out there in California, too. I mean.

SHARPTON: But how do you know it`s me, Joe? Are you sure it`s me?

MADISON: Well, I can tell. I can tell by -- maybe it`s not you. Maybe I
saw the Photoshop we`ve got back there. You know, it is ridiculous. Give
me a break. You know, like the President can`t change shirts. He`s
president of the United States. He can do whatever the hell he wants to,
quite honestly, when it comes to his wardrobe. The second thing, and I do
want to make one correction. It`s not all talk show hosts, radio talk show
hosts that are crazy.

You know, some of us like to try to be sensible when we do our shows, as Al
knows, and expose this foolishness. But the reality is understand
something. This is a diversion. This is a diversion from this issue that
they`re now debating in Congress as it relates to gun control. This is
what this is. It`s a diversion. It`s to just get the low-level thinkers
thinking about some wild conspiracy and we cannot be fooled by this.

We need to keep the pressure on the NRA, keep the pressure on Congress.
It`s not just got to be about, you know, names and checking background
check. But we`ve got to talk about clips, too, and the number of clips.
This is what`s very important. Because none of the recent mass murders we
had were required back ground checks. That wouldn`t have stopped any of
them.

SHARPTON: Right.

MADISON: So this is a diversion. And let`s not be entertained or fooled
by it.

SHARPTON: And isn`t that the point, Victoria? That`s why I really want to
bring up how ludicrous it is. Because they`re using all of this to get
people off into fantasy land, rather than deal with the fundamental things
like why do people need magazines that could shoot a hundred rounds? Why
do we need automatic weapons? Why do we need background checks? So they
go through all of these photo shopping conspiracies and brought the
movements to really get us off the point. Isn`t that really what we`re
saying, Victoria?

SOTO: It`s the shiny ball that distracts us. And because when we`re
talking about guns and we`re talking about the incidents that have recently
occurred, we`re talking about death. We`re talking about human lives being
lost. And so, these are very grave issues that can move people
politically. So this is why we see something that`s so jokey and has so
much levity to it because it`s not just changing our attention.

It`s also changing our emotions, so that we don`t have that hard feeling
that comes with thinking about what happens when children are being shot,
what we think about something silly. And one quick point about changing
ward robe. JFK was infamous for changing his wardrobe. He changes like
four, five times a day.

SHARPTON: Yes.

SOTO: So, you know, if anything, President Obama might be on the low end.

MADISON: Yes, and I think they should show these photographs, too.

SHARPTON: Joe Madison, Victoria DeFrancesco Soto. I`ve got to go.

MADISON: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Thanks for your time. Thanks for joining us.

MADISON: Thank you, Rev.

SOTO: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Remembering Rosa Parks. The mother of the nation. Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: In December, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a
public bus to a white man. And it changed this country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSA PARKS, HUMAN RIGHT ACTIVISTS: I didn`t move because I didn`t feel
like it was helping us and making things lighter for us, me as an
individual and us as a people, to continue to be pushed around because of
our race and color.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPON: She sat down and stood up for equality. I had the honor of
speaking at her funeral in 2005 and called her the mother of the nation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Rosa Parks is not in history because she made some movie or sung
some song. Rosa Parks is in history because she made this nation deal with
changing the laws and policies of this nation unlike anybody else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And, today, on her hundred birthday, I say what I said at her
funeral. We all should make a Rosa resolution. Resolve to do something.
If you can`t speak up, write out. If you can`t write out, participate. Or
do like Rosa. Find a way to sit and get in the way. Do as Rosa Parks.
Make a difference.

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


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BE UPDATED.
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