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WASHINGTON WATCH ROUNDTABLE: The Impact Of The Economy, Unemployment, Limbaugh And The Housing Crisis On The 2012 Presidential Election (VIDEO)

Roland Martin and the Washington Watch roundtable discuss the how the economy, unemployment numbers, housing crisis will impact the 2012 Presidential election. Is Rush Limbaugh the mouthpiece of the Republican party; will Mitt Romney tell Limbaugh to be quiet?

Plus, New York places a ban on 32 oz.drinks; has the Big Apple become a nanny state ?

This week’s Washington Watch roundtable features Michelle Bernard, president and CEO of the Bernard Center for Women; Cornell Belcher, political strategist and Obama 2012 pollster; Elroy Sailor, CEO of the J.C. Watts Companies and a Republican strategist; and Sirius XM Radio’s “The Black Eagle,” Joe Madison.

MR. MARTIN:   Welcome back to “Washington Watch.”

Elroy, let’s go to you.  I want to pick up where Cornell left off.

MR. SAILOR:  You know, picking off, again, the economy, the debt — $16 trillion. Unemployment went from 8.3 to 8.1.  Housing prices are still sinking.  If this doesn’t turn around – and which it will not turn around in the next three months.

Michelle, you made a point, and I think it was a broad-sweeping statement.  You said Rep- — Republicans don’t have respect.  I –

MS. BERNARD:  The – [crosstalk]- –

MR. SAILOR:  — disagree.

MS. BERNARD:  — that is the brand.  That is the brand of today’s Republican Party.  It’s a mess.

MR. SAILOR:  Well, it depends on who’s – who’s determining that brand, or who’s saying that’s the brand.

MS. BERNARD:  Well, I –

MR. SAILOR:  [Crosstalk]- –

MS. BERNARD:  — mean if – if you’ve got  Rush Limbaugh a- — ostensibly as the main speaker for the Republican Party today, some of the statements that he makes ruined the Republican Party brand.

MR. SAILOR:  I think – [crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  I[’ve] got to –

MR. SAILOR:  — policy –

MR. MARTIN:  — say this –

MR. SAILOR:  — difference –

MR. MARTIN:  — I[’ve] got to say this before I go to Joe.  You talked about home prices.  You go to MittRomney.com, click “issues.”  He has no plan for housing.  None.  Zero.  Zilch.  I’ve checked – three times.  Now, if home issues – home prices, home values and mortgages are that important, you would think Mr. Economy would have something to say about it.

Joe.

[CROSSTALK.]

MR. MADISON:  And – and let me – let me add real quick what – something Michelle said.  You guys have a real problem when your mouthpiece, Rush Limbaugh, says, “I don’t care if Elmer Fudd gets elected president.”

If I were Mitt Romney, I would be – [chuckles] – on the phone saying, “Look, man.  Shut up.  Comparing me and saying” – and he said it.

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MR. MADISON:  He said it – that this isn’t about Mitt Romney.

Now, to your point about women.  You go to the – the speech of the first ladies.  Let me tell you.  That speech by Michelle Obama – most women could relate immediately –

MS. BERNARD:  Absolutely.

MR. MARTIN:  Well, first –

MR. MADISON:  — to her.

MR. MARTIN:  — of all – [unintelligible]- — first of all, Ann Romney has to say, “Women, we love you”?  And – and –

MR. MADISON:  And Michelle said –

MR. MARTIN:  — I mean that there’s the –

MR. MADISON:  — “I’m one of you.”

MR. MARTIN:  — problem.  When you have to say –

MR. MADISON:  That’s the difference.

MR. MARTIN:  — “Women, we love you,” that’s a problem.

Elroy –

MR. SAILOR:  I think –

MR. MARTIN:  — final comment –

MR. SAILOR:  — our –

MR. MARTIN:  — on this topic.

MR. SAILOR:  — I think our community is a – in a – in a[n] awkward position.  Look.  It’s real clear.  When I go back home to Detroit, it’s great about Rush Limbaugh, but my aunts and my cousins – they don’t care what Rush Limbaugh s- — they’re saying, “Look.  I gotta get to the” –

OFF CAMERA:  Whoa, whoa –

MR. SAILOR:  — “I gotta get to work.”

OFF CAMERA:   — whoa, whoa, whoa.  [Crosstalk] –

MR. SAILOR:  Gas prices are going up.

MR. MADISON:  Brother –

MR. SAILOR:  My uncle saying –

MR. MADISON:  — brother –

MR. SAILOR:  — let me finish!

MR. MADISON:  — I lived in –

MR. SAILOR:  Let me –

MR. MADISON:  — Detroit –

MR. MARTIN:  Hold on!  Hold on!

MR. MADISON:  — for 20 –

MR. SAILOR:  — let me – let me finish!

MR. MADISON:  — years.

MR. SAILOR:  Let me finish!

MR. MARTIN:  One second.  E- –

MR. SAILOR:  People who –

MR. MARTIN:  — Elroy?

MR. SAILOR:  — own a home are saying, “Look.  I bought this home.  My home was valued at $100,000.  It’s now valued at $60,000, and I owe $80,000 on it.”  You think that person actually cares what Rush Limbaugh’s –

MR. MADISON:  Excuse me!

MR. SAILOR:  — saying?  Or, do you think they’re even –

MR. MADISON:  Excuse me!

MR. SAILOR:  — listening to Rush –

MR. MADISON:  Excuse me!

MR. SAILOR:  — Limbaugh?  Probably –

MR. MADISON:  Excuse me!

MR. SAILOR:  — not.  They’re listening to Roland.

MR. MADISON:  [Crosstalk] – and they’re listening to Madison.  I happen to live – I lived in Detroit for –

MR. SAILOR:  Okay.

MR. MADISON:  — 20 –

MR. SAILOR:  Okay.

MR. MADISON:  — years.  I ran for city council in Detroit.

MR. MARTIN:  Uh-oh!

MR. MADISON:  I’m glad you’re here.

MR. MARTIN:  Motown throw-down!

MR. MADISON:  All right!

MS. BERNARD:  [Laughs.]

MR. MADISON:  So, let us understand.  Oh, yeah, they’re paying attention to Rush Limbaugh.  And let me tell you what’s go- –

MR. SAILOR:  I don’t think what –

MR. MADISON:  — wha- — and –

MR. SAILOR:  — Rush Limbaugh’s –

MR. MADISON:  — let me –

MR. SAILOR:  — saying is going be a –

MR. MADISON:  — n- — naw –

MR. SAILOR:  — bigger impact than –

MR. MADISON:  — naw, naw –

MR. SAILOR:  — how much it –

MR. MADISON:  — naw.

MR. SAILOR:  — costs for them –

MR. MADISON:  — since –

MR. SAILOR:  — to get back and forth and –

MR. MADISON:  — naw, naw, naw.

MR. SAILOR:  — take their kids to school.

MR. MADISON:  See, Republicans love to do this.  They know that that is the –

MR. SAILOR:  Well, that’s –

MR. MADISON:  — that man –

MR. SAILOR:  — fine.  If you want –

MR. MADISON:  — that man –

MR. SAILOR:  — to make the debate –

MR. MADISON:  — that man is –

MR. SAILOR:  — about Rush Limbaugh –

MR. MADISON:  — that man is –

MR. SAILOR:  — I’ll take that –

MR. MADISON:  — see, let me tell –

MR. SAILOR:  — debate any day.

MR. MADISON:  — you.  That man –

MR. SAILOR:  I’ll take it –

MR. MADISON:  — is the –

MR. SAILOR:  — any day.

MR. MADISON:  — that man is the mouthpiece of the Republican Party, and Mitt Romney doesn’t have the courage to even call him –

MR. SAILOR:  So, Joe, you –

MR. MADISON:  — and tell him –

MR. SAILOR:  — want run an election –

MR. MADISON:  — I’m not finished –

MR. SAILOR:  You want to run an election –

MR. MADISON:  — tell him –

MR. SAILOR:  — on Rush –

MR. MADISON:  — look.

MR. SAILOR:  — Limbaugh?

MR. MADISON:  I lived –

MR. MARTIN:  Hold on.

MR. MADISON:  — on the East Side –

MR. MARTIN:  Joe, go ahead.

MR. MADISON:  — of –

MR. MARTIN:  Go ahead – [crosstalk].

MR. MADISON:  — Detroit – and tell him, “Cut it out.  Just cut it out.”

Of course people listen to what he’s saying, and they’re – it’s making them so angry, that they’re going to turn out to vote.

MR. MARTIN:  Now, I know we’re talking about politics and s- — I want to go to another political story that’s really – talk about hitting folks at home this week.  McDonald’s this week decided to put the calories on their menus.

[CHUCKLING.]

MR. MARTIN:  In New York, they banned sugary soda items, and what’s interesting about this [is] you have people who say we’re becoming a “nanny state.”  Just curious to get your thoughts on – ’cause this is one of Michelle Obama’s biggest issues – and, in fact, she’s been pushing companies to do this.  McDonald’s did it voluntarity [sic – phonetic] – voluntarily.

So, your thoughts on the Pr- — the First Lady’s efforts to actually drive this issue, and it’s causing a company like McDonald’s to say, “Put the calories on your menu” –

MS. BERNARD:  I –

MR. MARTIN:  — all across the country.

MS. BERNARD:  — I – as a – as a mother, and a mother who – I admittedly go through the drive-through of McDonald’s with my kids, I love it.  I think they should pu- — I think they should post the calories.  I love what Michelle Obama is doing.  I think what we really need to do – and she’s beginning to push the effort – is to talk about food deserts and – and come up with private-sector incentives to bring real grocery stores into low-income neighborhoods.

MR. BELCHER:  Really – really quickly, I don’t know if we’re [be]coming a nanny state.  I know we’ve become a fat state.

[LAUGHTER.]

MR. BELCHER:  And – and, by the way, I think any time you give people more information, it’s a good thing.  Give us the information so we can make a – so we can make the choices on our own.

MS. BERNARD:  Absolutely.

MR. BELCHER:  I want to know what’s – wh- — how – how much fat and how much – how many calories are in there so I can make a –

MR. MARTIN:  But –

MR. BELCHER:  — choice.

MR. MARTIN:  — but – but do you still want a Big Gulp in New York?  Because now you can’t get one.

MR. BELCHER:  I don’t want a Big Gulp anywhere.

MS. BERNARD:  I don’t think they should –

MR. BELCHER:  [Laughs.]

[LAUGHTER.]

MS. BERNARD:  — care[?].  I –

MR. SAILOR:  I mean some of these policies we just – [unintelligible] – we were talking about common sense.  Look.  If you tell somebody you[’ve] got to get rid of a Big Gulp, just go buy two 16-ounces.  You’re not stopping anybody from drinking 32 ounces – or, 38 – 38 ounces.  Just buy two.

MS. BERNARD:  Well, the ban is unnecessary.

MR. SAILOR:  If you ban one, it –

MS. BERNARD:  Just –

MR. SAILOR:  — doesn’t make sense –

MS. BERNARD:  — if – you know –

MR. SAILOR:  — so that’s a wasted –

MS. BERNARD:  — what?  Give people –

MR. SAILOR:  — policy.

MS. BERNARD:  — a chance to just take a look at it and say, “Do I really want to” –

[CHUCKLING, CROSSTALK.]

MS. BERNARD:  — “drink this?”

MR. BELCHER:  [Crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  So – so, you say –

MR. BELCHER:  — for me.

MR. MARTIN:  — so, you say you don’t – you – no ban.  You don’t like what New York is doing –

MS. BERNARD:  No, I –

MR. MARTIN:  — by banning sugar – large –

MS. BERNARD:  — I don’t like –

MR. MARTIN:  — sugared drinks.

MS. BERNARD:  — the ban, but I think that people should get all the information that they can.  But I – most importantly, I think people need access to healthy and affordable food.  And if you’re poor and live in a low-income neighborhood, you don’t have a –

MR. BELCHER:  Real quickly on the –

MS. BERNARD:  — grocery store.

[CROSSTALK.]

MR. BELCHER:  — real quickly on the ban, I have a problem with the ban ’cause they’re – I can’t even smoke my cigar and – and walk through Central Park anymore.  That’s a problem in New York!

MS. BERNARD:  Now, I like that –

MR. BELCHER:  They need[?] to –

MS. BERNARD:  — ban!

[CROSSTALK.]

MR. MARTIN:  [Crosstalk] – down with that!

MS. BERNARD:  I –

MR. MARTIN:  ’Cause I – I –

MS. BERNARD:  — like that ban!

MR. MARTIN:  — am allergic to smoke.

MR. BELCHER:  That’s crazy!

MR. MARTIN:  I can’t stand

MR. BELCHER:  No!  Now –

MR. MARTIN:  — smoke.

MR. BELCHER:  — that’s a daddy[?] state.

MR. MARTIN:  Forget that!

MR. BELCHER:  No!  [Crosstalk.]

[CROSSTALK.]

MR. MARTIN:  Joe.

MR. BELCHER:  I can’t walk.

MR. MADISON:  For somebody who used to weigh 270 pounds and had comorbilities [sic] that – [co]morbidities that included diabetes, you know, and all of the other things that come with weight, I think you do whatever you can.

The biggest n- — one of the largest, national security issues we have right now is the obesity in – in this country and our community.  And do you know what?  The – we used to have it just the reverse.  That’s how we got food stamps –

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MR. MADISON:  — was because men were malnourished, and the government stepped in.

MR. MARTIN:  Well, yeah.  D- — well, actually –

MR. MADISON:  So –

MR. MARTIN:  — how we –

MR. MADISON:  — that’s right.

MR. MARTIN:  — got the child – the – the breakfast at school –

MR. MADISON:  So –

MR. MARTIN:  — is because the military –

MR. MADISON:  — so –

MR. MARTIN:  — said in World War II, that –

MR. MADISON:  — that’s right!

MR. MARTIN:  — they were too skinny in the South.

MR. MADISON:  That’s right.

MR. MARTIN:  And so that’s how we got –

MR. MADISON:  And it – now –

MR. MARTIN:  — school nutrition.

MR. MADISON:  — now, it’s reverse.  We’re too fat, and folks can’t – can’t m- — make it in the military.  So, the government stepped in then.  It’s a national security –

MR. MARTIN:  I think it’s –

MR. MADISON:  — issue.

MR. MARTIN:  — I think – I think it’s going to put some public pressure, though, on –

MR. MADISON:  Sure.

MR. MARTIN:  — politicians as well –

MR. MADISON:  Sure.

MR. MARTIN:  — because the reality is, when you talk about healthcare, we can talk about where we’re going right now.  Doctors will tell you the biggest cause of healthcare is going to be obesity in this country.  And so I think what the First Lady is doing – for McDonald’s to say it’s voluntary – I think companies like that are seeing the trend that we’re going down, and they’re likely going to say –

MR. MADISON:  It’s –

MR. MARTIN:  — “We have to address this issue.”

MR. MADISON:  — it’s just like cigarettes and – [clears his throat and looks in Mr. Belcher’s direction] – cigars.

MR. BELCHER:  [Laughs.]

[LAUGHTER.]

MR. MADISON:  [Laughs.]

MR. BELCHER:  Hey.

MR. SAILOR:  Makes – [crosstalk].

[CHUCKLING.]

MR. BELCHER:  Give – give me –

MR. MARTIN:  And – and –

MR. BELCHER:  — the information.

MR. MARTIN:  — and – and we –

MR. BELCHER:  Don’t ban me!

[CHUCKLING.]

MR. MARTIN:  — saw the report this week that the extensive taxes on cigarettes [have] played a significant role in decreasing the number of people – especially young folks – who’re smoking in this country.

MR. BELCHER:  Don’t tell me –

MS. BERNARD:  I’m – [crosstalk] –

MR. BELCHER:  — I can’t smoke in the park.  That’s all I’m saying.

MR. SAILOR:  Yeah.

MR. MARTIN:  I’m te- –

MS. BERNARD:  You can’t smoke in –

MR. MARTIN:  — I – I’m –

MS. BERNARD:  — the park.  [Chuckles.]

MR. MARTIN:  — I’m telling you –

MR. BELCHER:  [Chuckles.]

MR. MARTIN:  — as a Black man to a Black man, hell ya gon’ die early [if] you keep smokin’.  So, stop smokin’!

MR. BELCHER:  But cigars aren’t going to kill me.  It’s something – gonna be something else.

MR. MARTIN:  Yeah, okay.

MR. BELCHER:  [Laughs.]

MR. MARTIN:  Right.  Whatever her name is!

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