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National Public Radio All Things Considered Transcript

Location: Richmond, VA

September 11, 2003 Thursday

HEADLINE: Stump speech by presidential candidate Al Sharpton



During this early campaign season, we've been presenting excerpts of stump speeches from the candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination. Last weekend, the Reverend Al Sharpton spoke to an audience in Richmond, Virginia. He referred to the 1963 March on Washington, and noted that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s most famous phrase was only part of the civil rights leader's speech.

(Soundbite of speech)

Reverend AL SHARPTON (Democratic Presidential Candidate): Dreaming was just the end of what he was projecting as to what he was going to dream about. The content of the speech was that King said that he had come to Washington because America had given blacks a check that had bounced and been returned marked 'insufficient funds.' I get it 40 years later. America has given us another check, and it has been returned again. But this time it is not marked 'insufficient funds'; it is marked 'stop payment.'

(Soundbite of applause)

Rev. SHARPTON: There's a difference between a check bouncing on insufficient funds and a check bouncing stop payment. Insufficient funds mean you don't have the money; stop payment means you don't have the will to pay and the money's there. You just don't intend to pay the money.

Why do I saw stop payment? Because as we talk about expanding the economy, when we talk about providing jobs and we talk about the social need for education and health care, the answer is, 'Well, we don't have the money.' Yet everything that Mr. Bush has wanted to do he's found the money for. They're spending tonight $5 billion a month to rebuild Afghanistan and Iraq. And when the president is questioned, he says, 'Well, we've got to restore and stabilize Iraq because we occupy it.' Yet he will not talk about the deficits in the 50 states we already occupy. Isn't it interesting that we can afford to give health care to children in Iraq, but we can't give health care to children in Richmond?

(Soundbite of applause)

Rev. SHARPTON: Isn't it a little strange that we can send our young men and women abroad to give democracy to the Middle East, but it's hard to practice democracy in the middle of Florida? Isn't it interesting that the president that lost is going to give the vote to folk and teach them voting?

You know, that's why it was interesting to me—a reporter said to me—right when I got here—he said, 'Reverend Sharpton, you running for president. Can you win?' I said, 'Absolutely.' He says, 'You really think you can live in the White House?' I said, 'That's two different questions, because the guy living in there tonight didn't win.'

(Soundbite of laughter and applause)

NORRIS: An excerpt from a campaign speech by Democratic presidential candidate the Reverend Al Sharpton last weekend in Richmond, Virginia, one of a series of stump speeches we're airing.

Copyright 2003 National Public Radio ®. All rights reserved.

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