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CNN: Wolf Blitzer Reports - Transcript

Location: unknown

July 16, 2004 Friday

HEADLINE: Firefighters Battle Wildfire Near Los Angeles; Martha Stewart Sentenced to Jail; Former Chess Champion Arrested; Polls Up for Kerry

GUESTS: Jesse Jackson


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Joining me now, a veteran of many major political battles and otherwise the Reverend Jesse Jackson. And Reverend Jackson, thanks very much for joining us.

When I take a look at President Bush, I see Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Rod Paige, I see some black faces at the highest levels of the government. I don't see a lot of black faces at the highest levels the Kerry/Edwards campaign.

REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW-PUSH COALITION: The infrastructure of the Kerry campaign is more diverse and continues to grow. You look-you see John Kerry go on to NAACP convention and the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) convention. You see him going to organized labor.

And for the last three years, Mr. Bush has not met with NAACP, has not met with organized labor, not the National Organization of Women, even his own United...


BLITZER: He is going to addressing the Urban League next week, an important civil rights group in the United States.

JACKSON: Well, it's significant that he does it. He should have addressed both. But more than that, for three years we've been locked out of any access to the White House or the Department of Justice. Mr. Bush one day put the picture of Dr. King up in the White House, the next day he sent Olson to the Supreme Court to undercut affirmative action.

The next day he a wreath about King's grave site, the next day he puts Pickering on the appellate judiciary during the recess.

BLITZER: But the White House argument, and Dan Bartlett, other White House officials have made this point, if the leadership, Julien Bond, for example, the chairman of the NAACP, if they say what the White House regards as disrespectful things of the president and criticize him forcefully, why should he honor that leadership with a visit.

JACKSON: The president must be bigger than that. It's not about Julien Bond and his analysis of the president's actions or inactions. After all, he's been very disappointing the last three years. We've had a net loss of jobs in every state. In the last few years, he's tried to stack the court with the right-wing judges. In the last 3 years, there's been leave no child behind, have left 1.2 million of them behind.

But there's tax cuts and benefits for the wealthy, 300,000 after school children have been left behind. So, there's a lot of pain.

We have-there's been a net loss of working class progress in recent years.

BLITZER: Why have so many black leaders, Congressional Black Caucus in particular, in recent days, been so disappointed with these new ads that the Kerry/Edwards campaign, these television ads, these radio ads, that they are putting out trying to get minority voters, blacks in particular, to get out there and vote.

JACKSON: Those criticisms of the past. What really will last now, today, a million African-American votes were disenfranchised, a million were disenfranchised.

BLITZER: A million-wait a second, what do you mean a million black...

JACKSON: A million-the data is in that a million-in Florida, for example, 179,000 votes...

BLITZER: We know there were problems in Duval County, near Jacksonville.

JACKSON: I can give you the entire data. 54 percent of those discounted were African-American. In Cook County in Chicago, where you had the scanning machines inside of the booths, Pate Phillips (ph) the Senate Republican leader would not let them be turned on...

BLITZER: So, what your doing now to make sure that doesn't happen again?

JACKSON: We're in another fight in Florida. They are trying to purge folk off the rolls again. Jeb Bush is leading a drive right now to purge folk from the rolls who should remain on the rolls. And because of our fight, and because of a court order they are now being allowed to stay on.

But just last week-well, just last week, they sent a memo to 67 county registrars and said if you did not remove those purged, you'll be under criminal investigation. Now, I think they had to admit that, they had to drop away from that, because those rolls should not have been purged.

So, we're fighting massive voter disenfranchisement. And voter intimidation.

BLITZER: You think, as in the last election in 2000, the overwhelming majority, 90 percent or so of African-American voters will vote for the Democratic ticket?

JACKSON: They'll vote their interest, and it will be the Democratic ticket. You look on the case of John Edwards, a southerner with a healing message of hope has great appeal, and from the south...

BLITZER: You like Edwards?

JACKSON: I like Edwards very much. You find in Kerry, a man of a lot of strength, a man who is a military soldier with some valor and some honor who has a sense of the one big tent America. So there is in the Kerry/Edwards ticket inclusiveness and hope and healing.

BLITZER: Tomorrow, the 20th anniversary, if I'm right, when you addressed the Democratic Presidential Convention in 1984, the 40th anniversary of another moment in your life as well. Two questions: first question, are you invited to address this convention in Boston?

JACKSON: No, I am not.


JACKSON: But you know, it's not a big issue for me. I'm really about serving and changing. I have spoken to five conventions here in a row. It's not a big deal. The big deal for me is massive voter registration and coalition building and putting a focus on working poor people.

What's a big deal-a big deal to me, I just left Appalachia, for a coal miners (UNINTELLIGIBLE) black lung disease. The kids are going to schools 2 ½ hours one way each day.

Let's focus on really what matters, working for the people and abandoned children.

BLITZER: We only have 10 seconds, but 40 years ago tomorrow, tell our viewers where you were and how far this country has come since then.

JACKSON: Well July 17, 1960 I was in jail in Greenville, South Carolina trying to use the public library. July 22, 1984 I was speaking at the Democratic Convention in San Francisco. Twenty years later today, we are on the threshold of being able to have our vote determine the next presidency of our country and the make-up of its course. And that is progress.

BLITZER: On that note we will leave it. Reverend Jackson, thanks very much.

JACKSON: Thank you.



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