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CNN Judy Woodruff's Inside Politics Transcript

Location: Unknown

October 29, 2003 Wednesday

HEADLINE: Schwarzenegger Seeks Federal Monies for Fire-Ravaged California; Interview With Al Sharpton

GUESTS: Al Sharpton, Roland Sprewell, Deborah Pryce

BYLINE: Judy Woodruff, Brian Cabell, Jonathan Karl, John King, William Schneider

Will Arnold Schwarzenegger get federal monies to help fight and recover from deadly California wildfires? Al Sharpton discusses race, affirmative action, politics and Howard Dean.

WOODRUFF: The Reverend Al Sharpton is with me now from New York to talk more about this, and other issues. Reverend Sharpton, you criticized Governor Dean Yesterday based on that comment, and others. You said his agenda is an anti-black agenda. Very strong comment. You literally meant anti-black?

SHARPTON: What his position was, as you just played it, certainly was anti-black. If he has changed that position, he should say that.

But to say that you are talking straight, he challenged the other candidates saying he was the only white candidate talking race to whites. In fact, he started this by bringing the race issue in by attacking other candidates.

Now we see—you just played a tape of what he was saying. Anybody can change their position. But say, This has not always been my position, I've not always talked straight, and don't attack others saying that. Because many of the candidates have always had the position that we are talking.

WOODRUFF: Well, let me read you—now, he has now responded to your comment. He has said, yes, he was talking about it on the basis of class. And I'm going to quote him. He said, "That is about help for people who don't have any money. And I think we should do that. But I also think," he said, "that affirmative action has to be about race." And he said, "I've said that throughout the campaign."

Does that satisfy you?

SHARPTON: Judy, you just played a tape where he said it should not be about race. So he's taking a totally different view. I'm glad...

WOODRUFF: Eight years later.

SHARPTON: Well, fine. But then don't accuse people who eight years ago did not have that view of not talking straight. And don't say that you've been talking race to whites, when people like Mr. Gephardt, Mr. Edwards, and others in this race, have been saying in the Deep South what you were saying the opposite of eight years ago.

I'm not attacking Mr. Dean, I'm responding to his attack on the rest of the candidates. There's some people that have always had that position. I'm glad to see today he's finally joining us. But he has not had that position. As your tape has proven.

WOODRUFF: Well, what about the comments though, by Jesse Jackson Jr., Congressman Jackson, in effect that Howard Dean is the best person to represent the Democratic Party, blacks and whites?

SHARPTON: He has the right to make his endorsements. I'm not running against Congressman Jackson or any other member of Congress. There are members of Congress, Jose Serrano and Ed Towns, that think I'm the best candidate. We're all going to have our supporters.

But I think when a candidate attacks other candidates, and attacks their record, then it is a legitimate thing to come forth and present their record. I not only presented his record, I presented his own words, a tape of his own words.

He has throughout this campaign held other candidates accountable. He has to deal with his own words, and he cannot run around saying, I'm the only candidate talking race to whites when we just saw what he was saying to them just a few years ago in the height of the debate of affirmative action.

WOODRUFF: Let me quote to you something that Donna Brazile has said, who, of course, was Al Gore's campaign manager. She said, quote, "These long shot candidates," presumably referring to you, "all they're doing is taking aim at the top tier because they're frustrated. I think Reverend Sharpton should keep his focus on ideas."

SHARPTON: And I am. One of the ideas that I'm focused on, and have been focused on for years, is affirmative action. Which is why I'm not talking about Governor Dean's high school yearbook, I'm talking about the issues. That's a very important issue.

No.2, in your poll, I'm tied with John Edwards. CNN-"USA Today" poll. In "Newsweek: poll I'm tied with Gephardt and with Kerry.

So I don't know what long shot she's talking about. I remember when Mr. Dean was at bottom of the polls. He was attacking people that were out-polling him.

I have not done that. I have answered his attack. He surrogates says people are not talking straight. I say, well let's talk to his talk. He has said he's the only one talking race, he brought race in. So I said, fine, let's see what he said about race.

If you can't back up things, you ought not start a discussion that you don't intend to go all the way with. I have just said, fine, you want to bring up a discussion? Let's talk about it.

WOODRUFF: All right. We're going to leave it there. Reverend Al Sharpton, it's good to see you.

SHARPTON: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thank you. We appreciate your talking with us.

We're going to have more on the Democratic race for the White House ahead. Find out why Joe Lieberman's faith is at the center of a political storm in Arizona.

And we will talk about the situation in Iraq with a Congresswoman who was where—who saw what's happening firsthand.

Content and programming Copyright 2003 Cable News Network Transcribed under license by FDCH e-Media, Inc.

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