IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton, Transcript 1/10/2016

Guests: Bob Smith; Hogan Gidley; Erin McPike; Brenda Lawrence; Ari Berman

Show: POLITICS NATION Date: February 7, 2016 Guest: Bob Smith; Hogan Gidley; Erin McPike; Brenda Lawrence; Ari Berman



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: GOP showdown. Republicans hold their last debate before New Hampshire. Can Donald Trump stay on top?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How tough is it --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of times --

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me talk. Quiet. A lot of times. A lot of times --

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The bottom line, this notion that Barack Obama doesn`t know what he`s doing. He knows exactly what he`s doing.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There it is. There it is the memorized 25 second speech.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Also the battle for the soul of the Democratic Party.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She has the entire establishment, or almost the entire establishment, behind them.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have a progressive who gets things done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does it mean to be progressive in 2016?

And the Flint water crisis. A public health disaster turns into a political fight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Democrats may want to be playing politics with this at the expense of the people in Flint.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ll get a reality check from Michigan. All that, plus big numbers for President Obama, and the real voter fraud in 2016.

POLITICS NATION with Al Sharpton starts right now.


REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Good morning. I`m Al Sharpton live in Atlanta.

Two days before the New Hampshire primary. Last night the Republicans gathered for the first debate since Donald Trump`s no show in Iowa. And it was a rough night for Marco Rubio. Under intense attacks from Chris Christie, he strangely kept repeating the same, canned line about President Obama. Take a look.


RUBIO: Let`s dis-spell once and for all of this fiction that Barack Obama doesn`t know what he`s doing. He knows exactly what he`s doing. Let`s Dis-spell with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn`t know what he`s doing. He knows exactly what he`s doing. Here`s the bottom line, this notion that Barack Obama doesn`t know what he`s doing --

CHRISTIE: There it is.

RUBIO: Anybody who believes Barack Obama isn`t doing what he`s doing on purpose doesn`t understand what we`re dealing with here, OK. This is a president who is trying to change this country.


SHARPTON: It was just weird, and it started a hashtag on twitter. #Rubioglitch. There were also some fireworks between Jeb Bush and Donald Trump.


JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The simple fact is, to turn this into a limousine parking lot for his casinos is not public use.

TRUMP: He wants to be a tough guy. A lot of times you`ll have -- and it doesn`t work very well --

BUSH: How tough is it to take property from an elderly woman?

TRUMP: Let me talk. Quiet.

BUSH: How tough is it --

TRUMP: A lot of times -- a lot of times -- that`s all of his donors and special interests out there.


SHARPTON: On the Democratic side, a new nationwide poll shows Bernie Sanders within three points of Hillary Clinton and of course, he has a big lead in New Hampshire. Sanders appeared on "SNL" last night, and he was clearly feeling pretty good.


SANDERS: I think growing up in New Hampshire.


SANDERS: Well it`s pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good.


SHARPTON: But, we start this morning with the Republicans.

NBC`s Gabe Gutierrez is covering the Rubio campaign, live from Londonderry, New Hampshire.

Gabe, how is the campaign reacting to the debate?

GABE GUTIERREZ, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Al. Good morning. Well the campaign is up and at them early this morning after that very rough night by Marco Rubio. You can see behind me the doors are about to open here. This is the first of several events today, including a super bowl watch party later on today.

Now, the campaign is saying that, look, they are trying to spin this hard. They are saying that Chris Christie, nor any of the governors, delivered a crushing blow to the Rubio campaign. They acknowledge it was a difficult exchange. But they say that the campaign was able to raise at least three times as much last night as during -- as during any other debate in this debate cycle and they say that Marco Rubio has strong night in other areas like foreign policy, as well as the exchange he had over abortion. But still clearly this was a night where Marco Rubio knew he would be under attack.

And Chris Christie went at him full throttle. Excuse me, full throttle. He scored that major blow, discussing that -- that scripted line that Marco Rubio`s had in many of his stump speeches where he really tries to deflect criticism that he is a Republican Obama. Trying to make that argument that despite what Republicans criticized Obama for, that he has been very effective for the liberal side. He says that he can be effective for the conservative site.

But when Chris Christie heard that line, multiple times, a total of four times during that debate, he went after him. That has been the knock on Marco Rubio for a very long time. That he`s too scripted of a candidate and Chris Christie pointed that out.

Rubio for the rest -- for much of the rest of the debate never seemed to get his footing except when talking about national security, and foreign policy. But he was clearly rattled. There was that hashtag that you mention, Al, trending on twitter, Rubio glitch and that is something that Marco Rubio will have to bounce back from.

The key will be, will voters that come to this rally and other rallies, will they be able to get past that? The campaign says that this is something that the chattering class is focusing on. That the media is focusing on. But that everyday Americans will not hang onto this -- many are calling it poor debate performance on the part of Marco Rubio.

So we are going to be talking to voters throughout the day, see how they are reacting. But again, a very difficult night for Marco Rubio.

Al, back to you.

SHARPTON: Gabe Gutierrez, thank you.

Now let`s bring in our political reporter Erin McPike, and Republican strategist Hogan Gidley.

So Hogan, the Rubio glitch, have you ever seen a moment quite like that in a debate?

HOGAN GIDLEY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Not in recent memory, Al. But I`ll tell you this, it`s so funny to watch it play out in actual real-time. When Governor Christie made the point, this is the canned 20 second speech, the canned 20 second line, Rubio goes right back to it. Christie makes the point again. Rubio goes right back to it.

It played out exactly like Governor Christie had said. And what`s so interesting is, this is the dynamic which is weird. For me to even try to comprehend at this point, these senators, Marco Rubio, one, also Ted Cruz, have done absolutely nothing. There is no indication that they would be able to do anything as president, because they have done nothing in the United States Senate. And the governor`s had a great night last night, pointing that out. Saying, as governor, we have to do things. We have to get things accomplished. We have to face the people. We have to face the legislature. And if we don`t, we`re out of office. You guys have the luxury in the Senate of standing behind that podium and pounding your fist and saying I`m going to do all these wonderful things, but there`s no accountability.

It was clearly a bad night for Marco Rubio and also Ted Cruz and something we haven`t talked about yet. This was a Tim Pawlenty moment for Ted Cruz when he was standing toe to toe with Donald Trump. They asked him - Senator Cruz about Donald Trump`s temperament to be president and he refuse to answer the question. He would now say to Donald Trump`s face what he had been saying behind his back.

SHARPTON: Let me step in before we get too far into Ted Cruz.

Erin, who benefits from the most from Marco Rubio`s debate performance last night?

ERIN MCPIKE, POLITICAL JOURNALIST: Al, frankly, I think Donald Trump, because Donald Trump had such a great night. And going in to New Hampshire, Marco Rubio is on the rise. There was some concern that maybe Marco Rubio could surge ahead. Maybe have a surprise victory in New Hampshire. There`s no question that is off. There is a big narrative developing that`s really taking hold right now. That not only has he not had a major accomplishment in the Senate, but now this idea that he is a robot is ringing true.

So, this idea that maybe Marco Rubio is an empty suit is not a good thing, especially for New Hampshire voters and could really rob him of a top two or three finish here in New Hampshire.

Now, the new attack in the debate last night against Rubio is that he is a Republican Barack Obama, Erin. Look at this.


BUSH: Marco Rubio`s a gifted, gifted politician. And he may have the skills to be a president of the United States. But we have tried it the old way, with Barack Obama.

CHRISTIE: I like Marco Rubio. And he is a smart person and a good guy. But he simply does not have the experience to be president of the United States and make these decisions. We have watched it happen, everybody. For the last seven years, the people of New Hampshire are smart. Do not make the same mistake again.


SHARPTON: Erin, will that work against Rubio in a GOP primary?

MCPIKE: I don`t know. I think, more broadly, Barack Obama had more breadth, more depth, he was more nimble. And here is where I would compare it. Remember back in 2012, in Denver, in that first debate, when Barack Obama had just a terrible night. That was an off night for Barack Obama. This particular debate -- you know, Marco Rubio hasn`t been president for four years and having a bad debate and having all of these narratives develop that play right in to his attackers` hands. This is a big problem.

Now, your original question, will this idea that Marco Rubio is a Republican Obama hurt him? I think absolutely it does. Especially when you have all of these other candidates who don`t really have that problem on that debate stage.

SHARPTON: All right. Hogan, let`s go to the other candidates. Because you were getting ready to go to Cruz. But let me ask you specifically about Kasich, and Christie, as well as Bush. They all had a good night. Who will emerge from that group?

GIDLEY: That`s tough to say. I mean, obviously Christie gets some points because he went directly right after Marco and won that exchange. I think Jeb Bush won some points last night. Look, the presidency is not an on- the-job training. I mean you have got to be prepared day one. And these governors run microcosms of a federal government. They have to do the work to get things accomplished or they get kicked out of office. Senator --

SHARPTON: What about Donald Trump --

GIDLEY: Or to Erin`s point --

SHARPTON: He`s up in the New Hampshire polls. Anything in the debate changes that?

GIDLEY: I don`t believe so. I mean he is an executive, though. I mean, regardless, he is not a government official. But he is an executive. So he has had to bring people together to make decisions. And he is, you know, he has stroked the pen to get things accomplished, as well. So he is playing very well in New Hampshire right now. I don`t know that this eats into his lead. In fact he had a really good night.

The only part, I think, he did poorly on was when he actually went toe to toe with Jeb and made the comment, it was kind of a tacky comment, pointing out, you know, he need to be quiet, let him talk. Where he went right back at the crowd for booing him, that was amazing, because the people in that room know every one of those tickets are for donors. They are for big money interests, special interests, and he called them out for it.


MCPIKE: Yes. I agree with Hogan on that second point. That`s right. That calling out the crowd of donors was a great moment for Donald Trump, for all of the viewers who are not donors who are watching from home. But I think for the first point, about Donald Trump shushing Jeb Bush, I thought that that was just what Donald Trump has done so well. He has really hurt Jeb Bush throughout the last six, seven months.

Now, as far as all the governors breaking out, I think the cake might be baked for Jeb Bush. And there`s a really an opportunity for a John Kasich, or a Chris Christie. And in that particular exchange with Jeb Bush on eminent domain, I frankly think Donald Trump won that because Donald Trump did what he does so well. Which is lead through a very simple explanation of his position on an issue. So I thought that moment was great for Donald Trump. I do not think Jeb Bush won it at all. And in fact he didn`t really land that blow on the Atlantic City parking lot he was talking about. Donald Trump kind of steamrolled right over him at that point.

SHARPTON: Erin and Hogan --

GIDLEY: And he steers into it.

SHARPTON: Stay with me. Lots more ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coming up, the Clinton/Sanders fight. Will the real Democrat please stand up? Also, why are some lawmakers refusing federal money for the people of Flint? Stay with us.


SHARPTON: It`s one of the central themes in the GOP fight. The on again- off again bromance between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. In recent weeks, they have been in a war of words. But at last night`s debate, Cruz seemed to back off a bit.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Cruz, I need to ask about Mr. Trump. You said he doesn`t have the temperament to be commander in-chief. Do you stand by those words?

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that is an assessment the voters are going to make.

TRUMP: I respect what ted just said. But if you noticed he didn`t answer your question. And, that`s what`s going to happen -- it`s OK. That`s what`s going to happen with our enemies and the people we compete against.


SHARPTON: NBC`s Katy Tur is covering the Trump campaign from Manchester. She joins me now on the phone.

Katy, how are they feeling about last night?

KATY TUR, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (on the phone): The campaign is feeling good. I spoke to Donald Trump right after the debate. He said he felt good about his performance. He feels good about his chances here in New Hampshire. They certainly do feel like they are going to stake this state. But they have lowered expectations. They have managed expectations, if you will, after Iowa. We haven`t heard him talk about his polling numbers lately. And last night for the first time after the debate we did not hear him talk about how he won that debate by all the poll standards that he usually measures this by.

So, the campaign is looking ahead. They are trying not to look backwards. And they are trying to maintain a disposition of strength. They certainly had the bad fortune, for them, of not coming out of Iowa looking good. Even though they got a second place finish, it looked like they lost just considering that Donald Trump was telling everybody he was going to win. So they are trying to change that up for New Hampshire.

They also say that they have a number of people on the ground knocking on doors, making phone calls, trying to get out the vote effort. That`s been a little bit more transparent with the media now. Much more so than they were with Iowa. And as for how he feels about his competition, as he feels like he was able to put Ted Cruz well last night and certainly Marco Rubio who did not have a good night by anyone`s standards, Donald Trump told me that quote "the twitter was not having a good night with him."

SHARPTON: Katy Tur following the Trump campaign. Thanks.

Joining me now is former senator Bob Smith, Republican from New Hampshire, who has endorsed Cruz in in this primary.

Senator, thanks for joining me.

BOB SMITH, FORMER NEW HAMPSHIRE SENATOR, TED CRUZ SUPPORTER: Good morning, Al. It`s nice of you to be down there in that warm studio in Atlanta and I`m out here in cold New Hampshire. That`s OK, though.

SHARPTON: Well, let me ask you, was Cruz pulling his punches against Trump last night?

SMITH: No, I don`t think so. Look, what we saw last night, Al, in my view, was a clear contrast between senator Cruz, who is very comfortable, and being a consistent conservative, he stays consistent on the issues, and then you saw Trump dancing around on issues and certainly Mr. Rubio dancing around on issues especially amnesty.

And I think with Donald Trump the issue of eminent domain, which is huge here, where he was talking, allowing -- or in favor of, rather, taking property, private property, a developer taking private property. Yes, paying for it, but taking that property and providing another private developer to be able to do something that he likes better than what`s there. That`s not the way eminent domain is supposed to be in the constitution. And that does not bode well here in New Hampshire.

SHARPTON: Now, Carson and Trump both hit Cruz on the Iowa accusations, the voting accusations. Problem?

SMITH: Yes. I lost sound.

SHARPTON: I said that both Trump and Carson hit Senator Cruz on the Iowa voting accusations. Is that a problem for Cruz?

SMITH: You know, it`s been addressed so many times, Al. You know, I don`t think we need to go through it again. Senator Cruz addressed it last night. Everybody knows what happened. It was a CNN report that got -- that got sent out, and the Carson campaign, they got more votes that were projected than they were projected to get, and senator Cruz addressed it last night and apologized to Dr. Carson. End of story.

SHARPTON: All right. Well what does Senator Cruz hope to get out of New Hampshire? I mean, you have some polls saying that senator Rubio is now edging him out for number two. What is it as a Cruz supporter, what is it that senator Cruz wants out of New Hampshire?

SMITH: Well, we are not playing the numbers game, Al. I know that polls are all over the place. We`re just, our goal is very simple. To be competitive here, we have a great ground game of a lot -- thousands of volunteers. We had one guy in Meredith, New Hampshire, who I`m not going to mention his name, but, on national television, but he has knocked on 5,000 doors, 5,000 doors, one person. So we have an army of volunteers here who are talking with people every day. And I might also say that Senator Cruz, I have been on the bus with him now for the last four or five days. He has met thousands of people, one on one, you know, in all the diners and coffee shops and homes, and town halls, everywhere. And what he does, he comes out, he speaks, he takes questions, and then he jumps right into the crowd and meets people one-on-one.

This is the way you are supposed to do it in New Hampshire. And that`s what we`re doing. So we got ground game. We got personal contact with the senator himself, the candidate. And we`re just going to go out and say to the conservatives of New Hampshire, look, if you want a clear, consistent, conservative that you can count on, that is not going to waffle around, then, Cruz is your guy.

I mean, look at the contrast last night Reagan used to say, you know, the clear contrast, you know, look at the difference between Rubio, and Cruz. Rubio dancing all over the place on amnesty. Wrote a bill, tried to get a bill passed. And provided for amnesty and didn`t deal with the illegal issue. And here -- and then, here`s Senator Cruz, he`s clear, concise, crisp, no amnesty. That`s what we want. That`s the way we -- that`s the way we win, and that`s the way we should -- we should be addressing issues. That`s what the people want. They had enough waffling and double talk, they want clear, concise consistent conservatives, and that`s what Senator Cruz is.

SHARPTON: All right. Senator Bob Smith, thanks for your time this morning. And try to stay warm.

SMITH: I`m going to do that just in a couple of minutes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Still ahead, the Democratic race in New Hampshire and beyond.

But first, good news for President Obama, and bad news for GOP talking points.



TRUMP: We had a quarter, last quarter, where we had essentially no growth. We have far more unemployment.

CRUZ: Obamacare is the biggest job killer in this country.

RUBIO: You want to grow your economy, we got to get rid of Obamacare. It`s a job killing law.


SHARPTON: GOP candidates in New Hampshire, bashing the president`s handling of the economy. But there`s something they aren`t saying. New numbers show the economy has added jobs for 64 straight months.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States of America right now has the strongest, most durable economy in the world. I know that`s still inconvenient for Republican stump speeches, as their doom and despair tour plays in New Hampshire, I guess you cannot please everybody.


SHARPTON: You know what? He`s right. You can`t please everybody. Maybe we would have been better off with this guy.


MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can tell you that over a period of four years, by virtue of the policies that we put in place, we get the unemployment rate down to six percent or perhaps a little lower.


SHARPTON: Wow. Will it promising that under President Romney we would get the unemployment rate down to six percent by 2016. Sounds great. But I wonder what he would say about this.

Under President Obama, the jobless rate just fell to 4.9 percent. That`s the lowest since the Bush recession cratered the economy eight years ago. GOP candidates are looking to get hired by the American people. But they are not coming clean on the job application.

Nice try. But here`s something to add to the resume. We got you.



SANDERS: And with that I`m taking off my jacket. It has upset --. I feel like a rock `n` roll star, you know --


SHARPTON: Bernie Sanders, looking energized on the campaign trail and rising in the polls. As we told you earlier, new numbers show him trailing Hillary Clinton nationwide by just three points. Last night, Sanders went on "Saturday Night Live," appearing with host Larry David, in a skit about a sinking ship.


SANDERS: Enough is enough. We need to unite and work together. If we`re all going to get through this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sounds like socialism to me!

SANDERS: Democratic socialism.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s the difference?

SANDERS: Huge difference.


SHARPTON: Meantime, in New Hampshire, Clinton is getting support from a big name. Former secretary of state Madeleine Albright.


MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: So people are talking about revolution. So what kind of a revolution would it be to have the first woman president of the United States? And just remember, there`s a special place in hell for women who don`t help each other.


SHARPTON: Kasie Hunt is in Portsmouth, where Sanders will hold a rally today. And Kristen Welker is covering the Clinton campaign from Manchester.

Let`s start with Kasie. What is the mood in the Sanders campaign, Kasie?

KASIE HUNT, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Reverend. At this point, the Sanders campaign is feeling pretty good about where things stand. Remember New Hampshire is all about the expectations game. And when we first got here earlier this week, there was a lot of downplaying. The poll spread is pretty significant, depending on which poll you are looking at anywhere, could be as many as 20 points.

I think both sides know that it`s not ultimately going to be that wide. Or at least that`s where they expect it to be. But over the course of the last 24 hours or so, it`s become clear that the Sanders campaign feels like they`re on a little bit better footing than they might have been. You, of course, have seen the Clinton campaign really try to focus on, in particular, its numbers with women. I think people are a little bit surprised in the Sanders camp that Bernie Sanders is doing as well as he is with women. That really helps him going forward.

I think as a candidate you can see that Sanders is still really enjoying himself on the campaign trail. Enjoying himself, of course, on "Saturday Night Live." And as this season has progressed that debate his national performance, that`s helping with those national numbers which could contribute to a longer run for Bernie Sanders. He, of course, facing more hurdles as we get into bigger and more diverse states, Al.

SHARPTON: Kasie Hunt, thanks so much.

Now let`s go to Kristen. Two days from New Hampshire, what are you hearing from the Clinton camp?

KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we are seeing is the Clinton campaign really kick into high gear. Secretary Clinton has been crisscrossing the state, as you pointed out, she is bringing in her top surrogates, including former secretary of state Madeleine Albright to try to rally those women voters that Kasie was talking about. She is also bringing in her top, top surrogate, former president Bill Clinton. He will be hitting the campaign trail today. And they have brought in hundreds of volunteers from all across the country, Reverend Al. They are pounding the pavement, knocking on doors, urging people to come out and vote for Secretary Clinton on Tuesday.

We are also seeing a change in strategy, Secretary Clinton really talking about her record, of fighting for women`s rights. And she has been trying to paint Senator Sanders as weak on foreign policy taking issue and criticizing him for some of those wobbly answers that he had during this past week`s MSNBC debate.

Now, based on my conversations with Clinton campaign officials, they think it`s going to be very tough for them to win this state. However what they`re trying to do is close that double digit lead that Senator Sanders has right now. They are looking forward to states like South Carolina and Nevada. Important to point out, Secretary Clinton will be in Flint, Michigan, today. She will be visiting with folks who are dealing with that water crisis there. And of course, that`s an issue that resonates with so many in the African-American community particularly in early voting states like South Carolina. Where you have large population of African-Americans.

Reverend Al, back to you.

SHARPTON: Kristen Welker, thanks so much.

Let`s bring back Erin McPike, and Hogan Gidley.

Erin, what`s Clinton`s goal in New Hampshire? Is it close the gap? What`s the goal here?

MCPIKE: I think it`s obviously and absolutely close the gap. Her going to Flint, Michigan, today is a way to have her play both sides of this, right? Because she can say come Tuesday night that she closed the gap in New Hampshire while she took off to Michigan and paid attention to the crisis in Flint where you also have Bill Clinton who just did South Carolina this week. He was just in Nevada yesterday and on Friday. So they are looking ahead, at the same time trying to close the gap with Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire. So I think it`s a very smart play by the Clinton campaign, what they are doing in hitting those other states.

SHARPTON: Hogan, this whole debate about progressive, versus establishment or progressive versus liberal or moderate. I mean, do the voters really care about that?

GIDLEY: Well, it`s interesting. I don`t think they care that much. Al. Look. We see this on the Republican side typically. Someone tries to run really hard to the right so they can win the nomination. Then they try to moderate in the general.

Now we`re seeing it on the left. You see Bernie Sanders way out left of Hillary Clinton on several of these issues. Hillary trying to move that way. She will probably move back to the center. But I don`t think most Americans think right, left, liberal, conservative, Republican, Democrat. They think vertically. They think, are you going to bring me up? Or are you going to bring me down? And at the end of the day, the voters looking at these candidates saying who is going to help me? None of the labels matter to me around the kitchen table. They don`t put food in my mouth. They don`t put clothes on my kid`s backs. Who is going to take this nation forward and bring us up? That`s what voters care about, not this other stuff.

However, I will say I think the RNC and the DNC both either ignored or completely refused to acknowledge the fact that voters out here are angry. I saw it firsthand all nine counties again this cycle. People are furious at the current situation and where we are politically. And these candidates, like Bernie Sanders, like some of the ones on the right, are tapping in to a seething rage that I don`t think people knew existed from D.C. and New York.

SHARPTON: Now Erin, let me ask you something, you talked about how the Clinton campaign was smart, playing to the future. What about Bernie Sanders` appearance last night on "SNL"? It might not mean as much in New Hampshire, but does that raise his national profile? Does that help him in the long run? I remember I did it when I ran for in 2004, and the target was a nationwide, is that the goal here? And was it effective?

MCPIKE: Absolutely that was the target. And, yes, I think it was effective. Actually, I will say this. I thought his appearance on "Saturday Night Live" last night was better than Hillary Clinton`s was a couple of months ago. And I say this only because I don`t actually think that Hillary Clinton`s skit on "SNL" was all that funny. And I think Larry David made it very funny last night.

On top of that, Bernie Sanders, and I`ve been watching him since his Senate race in 2006, and you never see the guy smile. And in the last week, on the campaign trail in New Hampshire, and last night on "SNL," he was grinning.

You also see that it is effective, because right now he is closing the gap with Clinton, in national polls. And he is neck and neck with her in some of those polls.

SHARPTON: Hogan, I`m out of time. But, "SNL" last night, Bernie Sanders, did it help or hurt.

GIDLEY: It helped. It was a great job. It resonates with people. Good move on his part.

SHARPTON: Erin McPike and Hogan Gidley, thank you both and enjoy the super bowl.

MCPIKE: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re watching POLITICS NATION with Al Sharpton only on MSNBC.



SHARPTON: I was in D.C. this past week, with my organization, the National Action Network, for the first congressional hearing on the Flint water crisis. House Democrats wanted Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to testify, but the Republicans didn`t call him. And in the Senate, Republicans are refusing to let Democrats attach Flint aid money to an energy bill.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it would be a mistake, and I`m speaking for myself personally, to authorize a billion dollar-earmark just because the Democrats may want to be playing politics with this at the expense of the people in flint, who we are all interested in helping.


SHARPTON: This fight is just starting. Today, Hillary Clinton is traveling to Flint, where she`ll urge Republicans to approve the money. Meantime, lawmakers like Michigan congresswoman Brenda Lawrence are still pushing for answers.


REP. BRENDA LAWRENCE (D), MICHIGAN: I never thought this could happen in America, in this day and age. We can fix this, but we have to have those who made the decisions come forward and give answers.


SHARPTON: Joining me now is Congressman Brenda Lawrence, Democrat from Michigan.

Congresswoman, thank you for being here.

LAWRENCE: Thank you, Reverend. And I want to thank you for being there. I can`t tell you how encouraging it was to have you there, and to make sure that this isn`t an episode that this is truly a call to action. And accountability.

SHARPTON: Yes, we definitely agree that it must be a call to action. Let`s start with the fight over aid. Will Republicans step up and approve money for Flint?

LAWRENCE: We have to step up here. We are part of the problem. This issue on this being a political issue, I have to give the chairman, Chaffetz, credit.


LAWRENCE: Being a Republican. Because I sent that letter demanding a hearing. He did respond. And scheduled a hearing. He did not call all the people who were accountable.

SHARPTON: How important --

LAWRENCE: -- and should be at the tape.

SHARPTON: How important would it have been to call Governor Snyder, for example, to this hearing?

LAWRENCE: Let me tell you why this is so important. This should never happen again in America. Never again. How can we fix it if we don`t know where our government failed? And he is accountable. He needs to be there and tell Congress how this happened, when it happened, who knew, and how long did it take to respond? Because, we in America should never be sitting here, having this conversation about poisoning people with our drinking water.

SHARPTON: At the hearing, state and federal officials clashed over who is to blame. What`s your take on that?

LAWRENCE: I think there`s blame on all sides. EPA did step up and warn the Michigan environmental department, quality department, that there was elevated levels of lead. But, then they waited for the Michigan state environment department to respond to that. I feel that if you know that the water that is being -- coming out of the faucet, and citizens are drinking it, human beings, you should bypass any stage agency and alert the people and stop it. The fact that the water wasn`t treated was clearly a state decision and it was made, and this is what`s so troubling about it. It was a financial decision.

SHARPTON: Ted Cruz, I want to get your reaction to this. Ted Cruz says there`s a parallel between the flint water crisis and the hurricane Katrina in New Orleans crisis years ago. Listen to this.


CRUZ: You know there`s an interesting parallel between Flint and New Orleans. Both cities have been governed with one party government control of far left Democrats for decades.


SHARPTON: How do you respond to that?

LAWRENCE: The city of Flint had been taken over by the state government, which is all Republican. It had been under the authority of the state where they come in with an emergency manager and they take away all of the home rule, so all the mayor, the council, other elected officials have no authority, and the government, the state government sends in an emergency manager who makes all the decisions. Shame on him for making this partisan. We need to fix this.

SHARPTON: Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence, thank you. Have a great Sunday.

LAWRENCE: Thank you so much.


SHARPTON: On Tuesday, voters in New Hampshire will have to do something they have never had to do in the primary before. Show photo I.D. Donald Trump talked about it in New Hampshire just a few weeks ago.


TRUMP: Look, you got to have real security with the voting system. This voting system is out of control. You have people, in my opinion, that have voting many, many times. They don`t want security, they don`t want cards.


SHARPTON: Of course the facts don`t back this up. In person voter fraud is virtually nonexistent. But it`s ironic that the right complains about election fraud so much, when the only one accused of it right now is a Republican. Check out this voicemail to voters apparently from a Cruz precinct captain in Iowa. Spreading false information about a rival candidate.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello. This is the Cruz campaign with breaking news. Dr. Ben Carson will be suspending campaigning following tonight`s caucuses. Please inform any campaign caucus goers of this news and urge them to caucus for Ted instead. Thank you. Good night.


SHARPTON: Joining me now is Ari Berman from "the Nation," author of "Give us the Ballot" the modern struggle for voting rights in America.

Thank you for being here, Ari.


SHARPTON: Ari, if conservatives are so fired up about election fraud, will they go after Ted Cruz the way they went after acorn?

BERMAN: I don`t think that Cruz is going to get the full acorn treatment. There`s been some denouncing of what he`s done. But I think Republicans are still principally concerned with trying to prevent democratic leaning constituencies from going to the polls. We haven`t heard any of the Republican presidential candidates, for example, denounce new voting restrictions.


BERMAN: That could prevent thousands from voting in states like North Carolina.

SHARPTON: Or the lack of fraud --

BERMAN: Or the lack of fraud. And they unleashed this voter fraud monster.


BERMAN: With all of these unproven accusations that Democrats were stealing elections. And as you mention it`s very ironic that now Republicans are accusing other elections of doing the fraud that they have long accused Democrats of doing.

SHARPTON: I mean, do they have selective outrage on this dirty tricks election fraud kinds of statements that we have heard after Iowa?

BERMAN: Well, absolutely they have selective outrage. They`re not denouncing the fact that in Florida in 2000, thousands were kept from the polls. That in Ohio in 2004, thousands were kept from the polls. That in the last presidential election we saw a wave of new voting restrictions. And as you mentioned now, we are heading into crucial swing states, places like New Hampshire and Wisconsin and North Carolina that have these new restrictions in effect.

SHARPTON: For the first time.

BERMAN: For the first time.

SHARPTON: You know in New Hampshire for example, there`s only been within 20 cases of alleged voter fraud in New Hampshire since 2000 out of millions of voters. Yet people like Trump claim that people are voting many, many times, this is the statement.

BERMAN: And my understanding is there`s only been one case of voter impersonation in New Hampshire since 2000. That was committed, ironically enough, by the son of a Republican state legislator there. So, there really is no voter fraud in New Hampshire.

What`s happening in New Hampshire on Tuesday is they are going to have to show I.D. to vote. If you don`t have that strict form of photo I.D. you can sign an affidavit. Which I think is a good fallback mechanism. The problem is you also have to have your picture taken when you sign the affidavit. That could lead to longer lines at the polls. It could also lead to intimidation for voters. Some people are calling this picture a mug shot. And there`s no real reason why it`s needed.

SHARPTON: Let me ask another question, this week Paul Ryan, member of the congressional black caucus, and he says that he is supporting voting rights -- the voting rights bill, but that it`s, quote "out of his hands." Now he is the speaker. What`s the GOP excuse for not restoring the voting rights act?

BERMAN: Well, it`s a bit of a cop-out for Paul Ryan to say that. It`s a good thing that he is on record supporting this law, because he is the highest ranking Republican to call for restoring the voting rights act. But it`s easy for him to say that when he knows it`s not moving through the house Judiciary Committee.

Chairman Bob Goodlatte from Virginia has basically said that voting discrimination is a thing of the past. He clearly hasn`t been paying attention to what`s been going on in North Carolina and Texas and Wisconsin and all these other states that have passed new laws that are discriminating against blacks and Hispanic.

SHARPTON: And the fact that you have 15 states that face new voting laws for the first time, that didn`t even have to deal with them in the last election, how much can that impact the outcome of this election? Because I don`t know how many people really realize, 15 states have new requirements that we have never had - they have never had to go through before to vote.

BERMAN: You`re right. It`s a huge sleeper issue. Unfortunately hasn`t been brought up in any of the presidential debates. But you are talking about crucial swing states like Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Wisconsin, where voters are going to go to the polls and they`re going to face new restrictions and new requirements that they didn`t have to face in 2012. So I think this is going to be a huge deal and needs more attention.

SHARPTON: Ari Berman, thank you very much for your time this morning.

BERMAN: Thank you.

SHARPTON: That does it for me. I`ll see you back here next Sunday. Enjoy the super bowl.