January 20, 2004 Tuesday
HEADLINE: Interview With Al Sharpton
GUESTS: Al Sharpton
BYLINE: Bill O'Reilly
O'REILLY: Continuing now with our analysis of the political landscape, with us Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton.
Now talk about fair and balanced. You and Trent Lott, I mean, can I get two more opposite people in the United States of America?
REV. AL SHARPTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Probably not.
O'REILLY: No. And that's what we want here. All right, run it down. Why did Dean explode?
SHARPTON: I mean, I don't know. First of all, let me say I don't think Iowa represents the demographics of the Democratic party. I think Washington, D.C.'s primary may be more of a reflection of how the party vote is.
But having said that, I think that people overestimated Dean having the organization. And I think that in many ways to his defense, he might have gotten carried away with the press getting carried away with him. Sometimes you start reading your own press clippings and you don't do the work.
O'REILLY: Yes, but he worked hard. He spent a lot of money. He had his people around. But look at him, he's-I mean, look at him.
SHARPTON: I was a little surprised at his performance last night.
O'REILLY: Come on.
SHARPTON: Other than that...
O'REILLY: It looks like he's auditioning for the World Wrestling Federation.
SHARPTON: Well, I mean, I think that in fairness to Dean, I think that he never lived up to the hype that we...
O'REILLY: Nobody could have.
SHARPTON: And nobody could have.
O'REILLY: Right, nobody could have.
SHARPTON: No one thought a year ago, he'd come in three. And he did.
O'REILLY: The folks turned away. I mean, I think they didn't trust him. Now in the debate situation, is Dean a nice guy or?
SHARPTON: Dean-I mean, Lieberman, who I probably disagree with more than anybody on the stage, is the nicest to me.
O'REILLY: Yes, he's a gentleman.
SHARPTON: John Edwards is a gentleman, John Kerry's a gentleman. Dean and I have talked. He's not a warm kind of guy...
SHARPTON: ...but we have talked.
O'REILLY: But that's the problem.
SHARPTON: The guy that I get along with best is Kucinich. We agree on just about every...
O'REILLY: Because you guys only have 1 percent each, right? You're tied.
SHARPTON: No, we-oh, well, that's only in Iowa. You getting ready to...
O'REILLY: Right. Well, you're doing well in South Carolina. I know that. All right, let's-why did Kerry do so well? That surprised almost everybody.
SHARPTON: I think Kerry had a good game plan. I think he had a good organization. I think he's a good candidate.
O'REILLY: He worked hard.
SHARPTON: He worked hard. And I give him credit. He was determined. He never gave up. And I respect what he did. I think we all should congratulate him and John Edwards.
SHARPTON: I certainly have my disagreements with them on issues? And we'll debate them. But I think both of them showed themselves to be fine candidates.
O'REILLY: All right, what about General Clark? What do you think of him?
SHARPTON: I met him several times. I tell you, the first time I met him, we both spoke at a dinner in Easton, Tennessee. And I was very impressed that a general could really warm up a crowd like that. He's going to be a good candidate. He's been a gentleman. He and I both spoke in South Carolina yesterday at the NAACP march. I think it was gutsy for him to take on the flag. Again, it's not a position that he's taken on as long as I have, but he has.
And I think he's a fine candidate. I don't have anything personal against any of my opponents as long as they're consistent. I raise issue differences.
SHARPTON: I don't have any personal differences.
O'REILLY: All right. You're going to compete in New Hampshire, right? Why bother? It's all white. You're running pretty strong in Missouri and in South Carolina. Why bothering going up there? You're only to get 2, 3 percent?
SHARPTON: I think-but I think that if you're going to run for president, you run everywhere. Just like in Washington, I did very well in Washington.
O'REILLY: Yes, but it's all black.
SHARPTON: Well, no, it's not. It's 50 percent white. Most of the city council's white now in Washington. But I think that if you're going to run, you run everywhere. And if you get one or two plants somewhere and win other places, that's what makes a race.
O'REILLY: But you can't win the presidency now. You cannot win a nomination. Are you just fighting for a seat at the table so you can...
SHARPTON: Friday, people said Dean was the unstoppable nominee. Never say never.
O'REILLY: All right, OK. But I mean, I had this conversation with Gary Bower in the year 2000. And there's no way you can win it. You just can't.
SHARPTON: But Gary Bower didn't have a base. I have a base.
O'REILLY: Yes, he did, the Christian Coalition. You have a base of African-Americans, but...
SHARPTON: African-American. But again, one, the best that could happen to people that vote for me is I win the nomination.
SHARPTON: The worst that can happen is that they are not modulized. We have seating at the table that can really address...
O'REILLY: All right, that's what I want to talk to you about. Now a seat at the table mean what?
SHARPTON: It means that we first deal with the direction of the product...
SHARPTON: ...that I feel has become too vague, too undefined, and in many ways imitating the Republicans. We've become too pro war, pro big business, pro death penalty. And many of the areas...
O'REILLY: So you want to liberalize the Democratic party.
SHARPTON: No, I want to bring it back to its roots. You call it liberal. I call it the absolute way to bring America back, by creating jobs, by not spending billions of dollars on wars that are not necessary. Certainly, we should protect the security of America, but we should not be chasing weapons of mass destruction that are not there.
O'REILLY: All right.
SHARPTON: We shouldn't be going to Mars before we take care of creating jobs.
O'REILLY: When-the government really can't create jobs. That has to be done by the private sector, but that's another discussion.
SHARPTON: No, I think with reconstruction redevelopment, the government can.
O'REILLY: You really can't, but that is OK. So you want to sit at the table to get your message across. And that's why you hang in. And that's why you campaign.
SHARPTON: No, I want to be the nominee. The worst thing that could happen is I have a seat at the table.
O'REILLY: But you know, I'm glad you're running.
SHARPTON: And the wait in the field is spreading now. I mean, we could have a broken division...
O'REILLY: It's broken, it is falconized.
SHARPTON: ..which makes it even more important...
SHARPTON: ...for people to make sure that they do not waste their vote guessing on winners, but standing up for who they believe in.
O'REILLY: I'm glad you're running, because you give these guys a lot of jazz. I mean, you really poke them. And that's necessary.
SHARPTON: I think more than jazz. I'm giving them a lot of justice and truth.
O'REILLY: All right, truth and justice, Reverend Al Sharpton. Always a pleasure to have you on the program.
SHARPTON: Thank you.
O'REILLY: And you're a stand-up guy as we said before. He comes in and answers the questions. If you see General Clark, tell him we would like to have a conversation with him. And tell him what I nice guy I am, that he shouldn't be afraid of me.
SHARPTON: I will deliver the message to all of my competitors.
O'REILLY: OK, that's the only one who won't. Everyone else has been in.
All right, thank you. Here are the results of our billoreilly.com poll, by the way, of the Iowa caucus. About 25,000 of you voted. And you nailed the winner. Kerry got 37 percent on the billoreilly.com poll. That's just about what he got in Iowa. Dean, 30, overestimated Gephardt. 26 way overestimated. Edwards surprised everybody. You gave him 7. He got 32.
All right, next on the rundown, an update on "The Vagina Monologue" controversy in Massachusetts. Right back with it.
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