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Fox News Network On the Record with Greta Van Susteren Transcript

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Fox News Network On the Record with Greta Van Susteren
December 29, 2003 Monday

HEADLINE: Interview With Presidential Candidate Rev. Al Sharpton

GUESTS: Rev. Al Sharpton

BYLINE: Greta Van Susteren

BODY:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D-CT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If Howard Dean can't stand the heat in the Democratic kitchen, he's going to melt in a minute, once the Republicans start going after him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: Tonight the lead Democratic presidential contender is taking shots at the party's chairman, and the other Democratic candidates are escalating the battle. And as you might imagine, Democratic candidate Reverend Al Sharpton has some thoughts about the battle brewing in the Democratic Party. And he joins us in New York.

Reverend, what's going on with your party?

REV. AL SHARPTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I'm trying to figure that out myself. I think it's very disturbing when I read that candidates are now saying, and particularly Governor Dean is being reported to say that he may not be able to support the nominee of the party. I think that we must all try to argue around policy, and without having seen the platform of who may be the nominee, I don't think it is a responsible thing to do to act as if personalities and egos ought to determine the support of whomever may be the winner. I think we ought to rally around a platform. If there are platform differences, that's what a convention is about.

But I think it's very divisive and arrogant to say you can't transfer support of your supporters to the nominee, without even knowing who the nominee is or what the platform may be. That's what the whole process of primaries are about. I'm very, very disturbed by that.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, there's been a whole volley of press releases. You've had one. Senator Kerry has had one in response. When you're alone, for instance, with Governor Dean at the debates, what's your relationship like with him?

SHARPTON: It's been very cordial and civil. I think that all of us have been cordial and civil to each other. And that's why I think this is so out of character with the whole spirit of trying to address different segments of the party and unite on a platform in Boston and support whichever one of us is the winner to defeat George Bush. To be sending divisive signals before a vote has even been cast, less known a platform written, I think only helps the opposition.

VAN SUSTEREN: What do you think about the fact many people are saying that he's got it locked up, the nomination? You don't agree with that?

SHARPTON: No, I think that, first of all, there hasn't been a vote cast. The first votes will be cast January 13 in Washington, and we will go through a long process. How many times have we heard people have things locked up or other people were dead, and then we find out later those that were dead resurrected in the primaries and those that had it locked up ended up locked out? I think the people will make the decision, not the pollsters.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think, if Governor Dean does become the nominee for the Democratic Party, can he beat President Bush? Is he the best Democrat to beat President Bush, in your opinion, in November?

SHARPTON: I think that Governor Dean or any of the nine of us could beat George Bush if we unite and galvanize our communities, our bases and our constituencies. I don't think that Governor Dean is unelectable. I don't think any of the nine are unelectable, if we don't run on personality, but if we run on platform and speak to the needs of the American people. That's why these statements are not helpful for the long- term goal of the defeat of George Bush.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let's talk about the upcoming caucus and primary. How do you expect to do, or what's your strategy in Iowa?

SHARPTON: Well, we've concentrated a lot first in Washington, D.C., and I keep stressing that because I think people should not be disenfranchised there. We've been in Iowa. I will be going back to New Hampshire. We have a lot of effort in South Carolina, as well as Delaware and Missouri, which comes on February 3, as well as Arizona. I think some primaries, some caucuses, you concentrate on more than others because you already have a constituency base there that sort of galvanizes for you, but I intend to participate in all of them. I wish all of them would participate in Washington, D.C., so we can make it clear we can't have a nation where the nation's capital is ignored.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. You may correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that General Clark is the first person to put former president Clinton in any ad or to promote him in terms of a campaign. He has a new ad out in New Hampshire where President Clinton is seen giving him a medal. Are you intending to use President Clinton or any of the other Democratic candidates?

SHARPTON: Well, I don't, at this point, know who all we will use. We have a broad cross-section of supporters, from the mayor of Newark to the former mayor of Atlanta to rap stars. I may not use any one. You know, usually people that need co-signers have bad credit. I intend to run on my own credentials.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Reverend, what's the best reason for casting a vote for you?

SHARPTON: Because I represent a new direction to the party that represents working-class people, labor, and those that have been disenfranchised by this administration. I'm also the one that has fought the hardest against what I felt was a travesty of democracy in 2000. We must restore and protect the right to vote, and that is paramount. This is the first national election since Florida. We need to come out in huge numbers and bring people that don't normally come out to vote. I'm the candidate, I think, that has shown the most attractions to those segments.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so here's the natural next question, and my last question. What's your weak suit?

SHARPTON: What's my weak suit?

VAN SUSTEREN: Yes.

SHARPTON: I do your show a lot, and a lot of times people, think that I do too many talk shows rather than continue just campaigning.

VAN SUSTEREN: And that's your weak suit?

SHARPTON: No, that's-well, that's my assessment. I'm sure my critics will have others.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. How about-do you-have you thought in your mind yet who would be the perfect vice president for you, if you are the nominee?

SHARPTON: Well, no. I think that is decided at the convention. I think I would want someone that agrees with me on policy. Again, we must come to this country with policy and platform, not just personality. It should not be based on where they come from, it should be based on what they stand for, so we can return America back to the people, rather than these back-room deals.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. And we're out of time, so I don't get to ask you about your specific platform, but I cut you off, so you didn't get to do it. Next time, I'm going to ask you about your specific platform, Reverend. Thank you for joining me, as always.

SHARPTON: I'm looking forward to it. Happy New Year, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Happy New Year to you, sir.

Up next: Was Michael Jackson roughed up while in policy custody? We have new information on the bruises he showed the world. And fire officials say it might be tomorrow night before this raging fire at a northeast Ohio magnesium recycling plant is brought under control. And you are, of course, looking at a live picture of that fire right now. Flames and smoke continue tonight to pour from Garfield Alloys in Garfield Heights, near Cleveland. The cause of that fire still isn't known.

Content and Programming Copyright 2003 Fox News Network, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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