January 27, 2004 Tuesday
HEADLINE: Interview With Al Sharpton
GUESTS: Al Sharpton
BYLINE: Neil Cavuto
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, after New Hampshire it's on to South Carolina. And my next guest says, bring it on. Democratic presidential candidate, Reverend Al Sharpton, is enjoying some pretty nice numbers in the state. He joins us now from Columbia.
Reverend, good to have you.
AL SHARPTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Glad to be with you, Neil.
CAVUTO: Do you have to win South Carolina?
SHARPTON: I think that we have to come in strong in South Carolina. I think we will also win delegates in Missouri, as well as Delaware, next Tuesday. I think it is very important as we build toward a nominating convention that we have a strategy that brings delegates.
Ultimately, delegates is the key to this, which is why many candidates have opted to go different places in the accelerated calendar. We opted to go from D.C., where we did very well, straight into South Carolina, Missouri and Delaware. And our strategy will begin to unfold on February 3.
CAVUTO: Let me ask you something, Reverend. David Bostis of the Washington Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies had said of voters in South Carolina that a lot of blacks in South Carolina want the same thing as people in Iowa. They want somebody who can beat Bush.
His inference was that you weren't that guy. What do you make of that?
SHARPTON: Well, I mean, many pundits said that in Washington, D.C. black voters wanted one that could beat Bush, they didn't think I was. We said we were the ones that could.
I want every black (UNINTELLIGIBLE) D.C. three to one. I think a lot of pundits mix their own politics and their own biases with their analysis. Clearly, if you look at the polls in South Carolina, I am in three in one poll, two in another. So I think that we'll let the people make the choice.
The good thing about our finally going into primary season is we don't have to listen to the pundits and projectors. We can now let the people speak for themselves. I think we also must realize that a lot of people have said we've been told this guy is this winner, that guy is the winner, don't go with Sharpton, and it hasn't paled out.
In South Carolina, a lot of people were told, go with Gephardt. Gephardt ended up dropping out of the race.
Some were told Dean was invincible. He seems not to be that.
So I think that clearly people are going to vote for who they think will stand, represent their interests, and will not drop out of them. The one with the most delegates will be the winner.
CAVUTO: Right. What about African-Americans, Reverend? There is some concern here that they are not the cohesive or in-lockstep group that they were, let's say, even back in 1984 and 1988, with the Reverend Jesse Jackson. That they are more divided now. Carol Moseley Braun an indication of that maybe when she decided with Howard Dean.
Do you worry that you are not the black candidate?
SHARPTON: Well, first of all, I'm the candidate for blacks, whites, Latinos, those that wanted the war to end, those that want public education and health care. But secondly, there never was a monolithic black vote.
You mentioned '84. Most of the Congressional Black Caucus and most black mayors didn't support Reverend Jackson. He got over two-thirds of the black vote without them.
So the fact that Ms. Braun and others didn't endorse me is similar to '84, since you raised it, not contrary. Most black elected leadership was not with Reverend Jackson. He proved that that is not the requirement to get the majority of the black vote.
I have already proven that in Washington, D.C. on January 13 of this year. So I think we make too much of the endorsements of individuals. Clearly, Ms. Braun, I got three times more votes than she did in Washington.
CAVUTO: But can you afford to stay in the race, Reverend, without winning a primary, or doing at least very, very well through Boston? You have said that you will stick in this race, right through Boston, the party's convention. Are you still intending that?
SHARPTON: First of all, I intend to do very well in many primaries. And I don't think that is a choice I'm going to have to make.
Secondly, again, you use '84. Reverend Jackson didn't win any of the southern primaries until he won one in Louisiana and a caucus I think somewhere else. And he was able to successfully get a lot done going to the convention in San Francisco.
So again, I think people ought to read history rather than misquote it. But I think we will do very well. I think we will surprise people in key states. And that will be the impetus for our staying in.
The other part of that is, I think whoever wins-and I hope to be the winner-needs an energized base, not only of African-Americans and Latinos, but everyone. The more of us that are out there organizing and bringing new voters in, the better it is for the party.
For example, today, Russell Simmons, the hip-hop impresario, went on the air here with ads supporting me for president. That brings in young voters that may not have voted.
CAVUTO: OK. Reverend Al Sharpton, always a pleasure, sir. Thank you very, very much.
SHARPTON: Thank you.
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