January 13, 2004 Tuesday
HEADLINE: Interviews With Al Sharpton, John Loza
GUESTS: Al Sharpton, John Loza
BYLINE: John Gibson
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL SHARPTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do you have a senior member of your cabinet that was black or brown?
DEAN: We had a senior member of my staff on my fifth floor.
SHARPTON: On your cabinet.
DEAN: No, we did not. We had six members.
SHARPTON: Then you need to let me talk to you about race in this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIBSON: Well, Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton, fairly or not, nailing Howard Dean on his record for racial hiring. It's not the first time race has been injected into the Democratic presidential race, and it won't be the last. Reverend Al Sharpton joins us now outside a polling station in the District of Columbia where today voters are choosing among four of the Democratic candidates. Reverend Sharpton, today's big question, do you think Howard Dean understands the value of racial diversity?
SHARPTON: Well, I hope he does. I mean, you must understand, John, he made it an issue. He said that he wanted to be the one to talk race to America, particularly white America. So, therefore, he made it fair for us to question his qualifications in that area. We've done about 29, 30 debates. He always, when we bring up health care, or environment or education, says look at what I've done in Vermont. Now that he chose to bring up race at the Black and Brown forum, I said let's look at what you did in Vermont. I think it's very fair. We were standing in a state that had the exact percentage of blacks and browns that his state does. And those people needed to know whether they would have had an opportunity to be in his cabinet. Iowa is 98 percent white just like Vermont was, so the proper place and the proper forum.
GIBSON: Reverend Sharpton, let's just assume for a moment just because, arguably, he has such great numbers, that he ends up being the Democratic nominee. Would you make a prediction for me? Are black voters going to turn out in the same way that they did for Al Gore for Howard Dean?
SHARPTON: I would-if he was the nominee, I would think that an overwhelming majority of black Americans, including Al Sharpton, would support him over George Bush. But we are talking about his record and we're talking about him now not facing George Bush. We're talking about him facing Al Sharpton, and Dick Gephardt and others. And before we get to who faces Bush and who will get the black vote in November, we need to talk about who is going to get it now and who has done what. I'm in D.C. tonight where he is expected to win because he has most of the political establishment. Statehood is at stake here. He has chosen not to come in. These things have to be dealt with during a primary season. That's what primaries are for.
SHARPTON: So I think whoever wins the nomination ought to get the overwhelming black and white vote. Doesn't mean it shouldn't answer questions.
GIBSON: And you are entitled ask the questions, and I'm glad you did Reverend Sharpton, but it does put Howard Dean on the spot with African- American voters. And the whole question about African-American voters is whether they're going to get excited about this guy and go vote for him or just stay home.
SHARPTON: I think that if he were to come with a concrete plan and say that maybe there are things that were not what I would have projected and what I have tried to behave like they were in the past ,and these are my commitments, this is my program, then I think they can get excited. But I think he cannot do it, nor any other candidate can do it, by trying to act like we're just going to be there. And that we're not going to deal with backgrounds and track records like any other constituent.
GIBSON: OK. Now, we all know that former president Bill Clinton was very comfortable with African-American audiences and African-Americans liked him, and supported him and supported his successor Al Gore to a great degree. What is the difference between Bill Clinton and Howard Dean?
SHARPTON: I don't know. First of all, you acting like Howard Dean is the nominee.
GIBSON: He sure looks like it, doesn't he?
SHARPTON: Well, no. I think that, again, we have a long way to go. We do not know who the nominee is going to be. Things change every day. And we'll get to that bridge when it comes to it in terms of who the nominee will be and what the differences between them and the preceding Democratic president.
GIBSON: Reverend Sharpton, you said you would support Howard Dean if he is the nominee. Would you vote for him?
SHARPTON: If he was running against George Bush, I would absolutely vote for him.
GIBSON: I'm kind of curious because the last time I saw a big news event involving you, you were in a jail. Can you vote?
SHARPTON: Well, first of all, I think that you have gone from the absurd to the ridiculous. Absolutely. When I was in jail, as any civil rights leader would be for protesting nonviolently, and I think that the ridiculousness of your are question doesn't even dignify an answer.
GIBSON: All right, well, just want to make sure you are voting. Reverend Al Sharpton, thanks very much, appreciate you coming on.
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