September 25, 2003 Thursday
HEADLINE: Latest on Tonight's Presidential Debate
GUESTS: Al Sharpton
BYLINE: Greta Van Susteren, Carl Cameron
SUSTEREN: All right, Carl, thank you.
Reverend Al Sharpton is one of the candidates. He joins us in New York.
Reverend, nice to see you.
SHARPTON: Good to see you, Greta.
SUSTEREN: All right, Reverend, be my reporter behind the scenes. I mean, we see howyou know, how you all interact on the stage. What goes on behind the scenes among you candidates before and after these debates?
SHARPTON: I think that is the same kind of stuff almost you see on the stage. I think that there is cordiality, yet a sense of we know we're competing for the nomination. A lot of small talk, a lot of meeting each other's families and staff members. I mean, we've done enough of these now, you kind of know everyone's entourage.
But there's also a tenseness, because everyone wants to get their specific point out, their specific agenda out. There is always the tension of how do you break away from the pack without hurting the party. And I think thatand when I say "hurting the party," hurting the ultimate goal of defeating George Bush.
So, I think it's as relaxed as one can be without losing sight of the fact that we are there about the very serious business of leading this nation.
SUSTEREN: So, what does the entrance of General Clark do to the dynamics of these debates?
SHARPTON: Well, I think that clearly tonight's entrance of General Clark raises certain things that I think could be to the advantage of the Democrats. One, it certainly reminds people that everyone in the military has not been in lock step behind George Bush. Those of us that have opposed this warI opposed it from the beginning, others have come out against the warthey tried to paint as unpatriotic. Now, you have a four-star general who has raised the very points that we've raised. I think that's a good thing.
I think that you have another person that has come in with certain backgrounds in business. He was to be an investment banker. That's a good thing.
So, I don't see his entry in the race ultimately as bad. I think that, if anything, it robs the Republicans of trying to make the Democratic Party one-dimensional.
Now, how he will fare? Clearly he's the media's darling right now, the favorite of the month, I call them. And he's considered in the latest national polls the frontrunner. Well, I remember nine months ago it was John Edwards, then John Kerry, then Howard Dean, now Clark. I think ultimately it will be the voters that will decide, and that's why all of us are doing what we must around the country to get our message out.
SUSTEREN: All right, a big field and, in fact, your numbers right now are about 2 percent. If you do hold on, and I know you say it's a long time, a big fieldI mean, who is the most like you up on that stage?
SHARPTON: Well, my numbers are better than that. I mean, even in news, you've got us ahead of guys that have raised a lot more money than us. I think I was ahead of Edwards and Graham and all of them. I think that who is most like me is Al Sharpton. I mean, I have probably disagreement on different issues with different candidates.
But all of them, to me, is better than George Bush. There is no one in this race so far that I couldn't support if, in fact, they became the nominee. I don't intend to see that happen. I think that we bring a constituency and an expansion that no one else has.
I'm announcing tomorrow in Washington at the Congressional Black Caucus that we do an extensive voter registration. Bob Johnson, the CEO of BET, has announced he's going to put up a quarter of a million dollars out of his pocket to be matched, and he's going to put $1 million the air to help register voters, not just for Al Sharpton, but period.
SHARPTON: Motley Harris (ph), our coordinator of (UNINTELLIGIBLE), we're going to bring a new electorate in. The only way we can win is we must expand the base of voters, and we intend to do that.
SUSTEREN: All right, Reverend...
SHARPTON: That's going to be part of what I do, as well as try to win this nomination.
SUSTEREN: All right, Reverend, assuming that you're the nominee, you're out there on the trail, we're past all of the primaries, and someone says to you, tell us one thing the president has done very well, what would you have to answer?
SHARPTON: I think that he has been very well with spin. I think that George Bush should be a consultant to a public relations firm.
SUSTEREN: Well, that's sort of an off-hand thing. I mean, that's a political thing. I mean, is there anything that he has done right, in your mind?
SHARPTON: I mean, you know, it would probably be something, but I would really have to think hard, because the things...
SUSTEREN: You can't think of anything? You can't think of anything?
SHARPTON: The things that he has most put forth has been so flawed and improperly pitched, I couldn't think of anything off the top of my head that I would say that I think Mr. Bush has done that I would salute him for.
SUSTEREN: All right, in the 10 seconds we have left, what's the single reason people should vote for you? What's the most important thing in your mind that you bring to this?
SHARPTON: I bring to real Americans, Americans that struggle to take care of their families, to build businesses. That's why I want to register those voters, and that's why we're going to expand. We're going to broaden the field, so that, Greta, we can bring new voters in. That's the only way we're going to win, and we are determined to do that.
SUSTEREN: All right, Reverend, thanks very much.
SHARPTON: Thank you.
SUSTEREN: Thank you.
Coming up, a shocker in the Laci Peterson mystery. Was she worried about her husband's intentions well before she vanished? What set off alarms? But first, the Laci Peterson case, was it a murder-for-hire plot, or is a jailbird up to no good? The ex-cop who gave the inmate a lie detector test is here.
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