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Public Statements

MSNBC Hardball Transcript

By:
Date:
Location: Unknown


January 29, 2004 Thursday

HEADLINE: HARDBALL For January 29, 2004

BYLINE: Pat Buchanan; Chris Matthews

GUESTS: James Clyburn; Al Sharpton; Howard Dean; Jacques DeGraff; Steve Murphy

HIGHLIGHT:
Who were the winners and losers in tonight's South Carolina Democratic presidential debate?

BODY:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AL SHARPTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They would become our partners if we engaged in partnership. But I don't that the way we do that is attacking people's religion, trying to act like our religion is better.

And as far as Mr. Bush saying that he doesn't need a permission slip from the U.N., he doesn't think he needs votes from the American people to be president.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: That's the Reverend Al Sharpton.

He joins us now from the debate in Greenville, South Carolina.

Reverend Sharpton, thank you for joining us. It is great to have you here.

SHARPTON: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Why did you rip the scab off of Florida tonight?

SHARPTON: Well, I think that that's got to be a central issue in this campaign. As I've campaigned around this country and particularly here in South Carolina...

MATTHEWS: To what effect? To what effect, sir? He got the office for four years from the Supreme Court. What is gained by yelling about it now?

SHARPTON: Well, many of us do not feel that the right case was argued in front of the Supreme Court. Many of us felt the disenfranchisement of voters in Duval County was not raised.

There are many voters that are concerned about what happened in the election in 2000. And just because there has been a conclusion does not mean it is not a legitimate issue that can and should be raised and something that Bush is going to have to deal with in the 2004 election.

MATTHEWS: Do you believe that Jeb Bush, the governor of Florida, and his brother collaborated to restrict African-Americans from getting to the polls that day of the election 2000?

SHARPTON: I believe that there was restrictions on African-Americans in Duval County. That has been documented by the NAACP and others.

In fact, we had a lawsuit there that documented that. Whether or not Mr. Bush and Mr. Bush set out and conspired is another story. Certainly, it was done. And, certainly, it is something that we need deal with and resolve in 2004. We should not tolerate...

MATTHEWS: Right.

SHARPTON: ... the disenfranchisement of voters.

MATTHEWS: Are you talking about the scrubbing of the election lists, the registration list for felons? Are you talking about the roadblocks they were accused of having down there? What are you talking about?

SHARPTON: No, I'm talking about-I'm talking-I'm talking about scores of people that were told they had to give four I.D.s before they could vote. I'm talking about people that went to the polls and were told that they were not there on the list and were turned away.

I'm talking about rampant levels of people that were turned away and not allowed to vote with various schemed and varied methods. And I think that that is not only legitimate. It is mandatory for a candidate like me to bring it up. I've heard it all over South Carolina and Missouri. I hear it all over the country. People are concerned about the schemes to rob people of their right to vote.

MATTHEWS: Were you comfortable that your party, the Democratic Party, tried to have the votes of service people overseas discounted and rejected for what seemed to be technical reasons?

Were you happy with that call by your party, the Democrats, stopping service people serving in the field, being told, because they didn't have the right date or they didn't have something on a piece of paper, that you were-that the Democrats were going to hold up for the technicalities and have their votes stricken? Were you happy with that?

SHARPTON: I am not happy with the disenfranchising of any voters. I think we have the right to raise technical points to see that no one is misusing their votes or in any way there's an opening where someone could cast a ballot that is not the ballot of the person that is supposedly giving it.

But, clearly, I'm against anyone being denied the right to vote, particularly servicemen that are on the front line.

MATTHEWS: What about a technical mistake by a voter who makes a mistake in the way they vote positively? They vote for a candidate. Then they write the name in as well. That vote gets stricken. Are you happy with that, where the intention is clear, but there's a technical violation? Where are you on that one? Because these are the things that happened in Florida.

SHARPTON: I think if the-I think if the intention is clear, that's a close call. But I think, if the intention is clear, then you should go with the intention.

But that's not all that happened in Florida. And that's what I'm talking about. And I think a lot of that was not argued. You must remember, Chris, when the Congressional Black Caucus went to the Senate floor and asked to be heard about this, we couldn't get one Democrat to let us be heard, including some that are running against me in this primary.

MATTHEWS: I was there. I was in that room.

SHARPTON: That's why we have a primary.

MATTHEWS: I was in that room, and I thank you.

But I tell you, a lot of those people who voted, older people who were not exactly Pat Buchanan fans voted for him because of the confusion caused by the Democrats in writing the butterfly ballot in Palm Beach County. And the Democrats screwed up. And now you're blaming the screw-ups on all the Republicans. And, in fact, it wasn't a conspiracy. It was a confederacy of dunces that put those ballots together.

SHARPTON: Well, I don't disagree with a lot of that at all. In fact, there's no one that has tried to hold the Democrats more accountable for voter disenfranchisement than me.

But, clearly, Mr. Bush enjoyed the results of it. And, clearly, his brother was governor. He is now president. And it is a legitimate issue to bring up in this campaign. And I will bring it up with the Democrats and the Republicans, including the Democrats that didn't vote for it to go to the Senate floor when the Congressional Black Caucus wanted to raise it.

MATTHEWS: I was there.

Thank you very much, Reverend Al Sharpton, who debated tonight, effectively.

SHARPTON: Thank you.

Content and programming copyright 2004 MSNBC.

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