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CNN Inside Politics Transcript

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CNN INSIDE POLITICS. January 21, 2003, Tuesday

…WOODRUFF: The reverend Al Sharpton goes on the record now to talk about his decision to run for the presidency. Reverend Sharpton good to see you.

SHARPTON: Good evening—good afternoon, I should say.

WOODRUFF: Well, you've jurisdiction heard—what you were saying at the end of the report from Candy Crowley, you talked about pedigree, regular people can run for the presidency. A John Edwards, if he were sitting with us here, or Joe Lieberman, both who came from families of very modest incomes, say what are you talking about? We come from a modest background too.

SHARPTON: I don't think there's any question others have come from modest backgrounds. The question is whether they are presidential platforms and whether their years of public service have been to those people that are common. We're talking about people that once he broke out, in my judgment, in some cases have advocated things that are far more helpful to those that are wealthy and those that, in my judgment, have always had the doors open than to those that are working class of all races. It's not a question of where you came from. It's a question of what you do when you arrive somewhere.

WOODRUFF: We've talked to a number of Democrats, people who like you, who respect you, who say you're very intelligent, great political skills, but they have doubts about whether you can win this nomination. Even if you don't agree with that, does that perception hurt you?

SHARPTON: No, I think that first of all there are six people going to run. I will officially announce in April Or May. And five of us or wrong. I'm not the only one that may not win and I'm clearly one that can win. I think if we expand the base of the Democratic party. You just had an interesting story where Hispanics now are the largest minority group in America according to the census. Let's talk about how do we get Hispanic votes?

This morning, Roberto Hamrez (ph) chairs my exploratory committee is a Latino leader. We to jail on a Hispanic issue for civil disobedience. I campaigned all over this country for those candidates. I can match that against anyone in the race. If you expand the base and if you bring in people that have not been in historically, that will be the margin of victory for the Democrats in 2004.

WOODRUFF: You've long argued that life—that Americans have not been fair to black Americans, to African-Americans of this country that has been repeatedly unfair. Can the same thing be said for Hispanic Americans?

SHARPTON: I think if you look at the language discrimination, if you look at the fact some people have voted against even the language training in schools if you look at how immigration laws have been used against Hispanics in the Mexican border, I've been there. Absolutely, you can make that case. As well as for working class whites. I was in Iowa, where farmers said the Farm Aid bill helped the big guys, didn't help me. It's not just blacks and Latinos. It's also working class whites that have not had a voice, that I intend to give a voice when we make this run.

WOODRUFF: Another point, we've talked to many Democrats. A view among a number we've talked to, is political races you've been involved in New York, you've ended up hurting the Democrat, often the liberal Democrat in that contest and helping the Republican. There was another article this month in the "American Prospect Magazine" making that point. Is that a problem for you in your own party?

SHARPTON: No, I think that it is a problem for those that want to continue to assume that we that have something to say and advocate are going with them no matter what. First of all, it's not true. Yesterday, not five years ago, yesterday we had the...

WOODRUFF: But you have endorsed Republicans over Democrats?

SHARPTON: I've only endorsed Republicans one time, maybe 20 years ago. But what—my point is yesterday, we had Martin Luther King ceremony at National Action Network. Every leading Democrat in the state was there. Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, Senator Schumer, Senator Clinton, all of whom I supported. Because I wouldn't support one person for mayor, and because another person I questioned that I want support them, clearly I've supported many liberal Democrats. I don't think they're masochistic to come to our headquarters and thank people if we weren't in support of them.

WOODRUFF: One other quick question. You write in your book, who others who bring up your history, you said any problems in your past, should be ready to get hit back later. And I'm quoting, you said, "That makes me want to run more, so they can compare when they consider my baggage to the trunks of the some of the leaders of the Democratic party."

What and who are you talking about?

SHARPTON: Again, I think that we play different standards. People call me fighting and pursuing justice baggage, controversial. Others that—for example, you have a sitting vice president that won't, to this day talk about meetings with Enron around energy legislation.

WOODRUFF: You were talking about Democrats here.

SHARPTON: In the Democratic party. We've got all kinds of people running for president that has had personal question. I'm saying let us be fair. What I bring to the table, maybe people disagree with my pursuit of justice matters. What I bring to the table is maybe people felt I raised questions they were uncomfortable with. It's far more credible to stand up for justice and risk controversy than some of the personal issues that some people who run for president had to answer, and may not have been guilty of them. I'm not going to be intimidated by a double standard, Judy, that's all.

WOODRUFF: Reverend Al Sharpton, thank you very much for joining us.

SHARPTON: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: We'll be following your campaign.

SHARPTON: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: And just ahead, President Bush sits down with experts to push his economic stimulus plan. When we return, hear what Mr. Bush had to say good the get-together.

Content and programming copyright 2003 Cable News Network Transcribed under license by eMediaMillWorks, Inc. (f/k/a Federal Document Clearing House, Inc.). Formatting Copyright 2003 eMediaMillWorks, Inc. (f/k/a Federal Document Clearing House, Inc.). All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to Cable News Network. This transcript may not be copied or resold in any media.

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