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CNN Crossfire Transcript

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ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left: James Carville and Paul Begala. On the right: Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson. In the CROSSFIRE, he's serious about running for President. We'll ask Al Sharpton if he can kick President Bush out of the White House.

Plus, now that we know she wanted to wring her husband's neck, who wants to buy Hillary Clinton's book? And, some courthouse keeping tips for Martha Stewart.

(END VIDEOTAPE) Live from the George Washington University, James Carville and Tucker Carlson...

...CARVILLE: The promise of America is that anyone can grow up and run for president. But running is one thing; getting elected is another. In the CROSSFIRE today is Democratic presidential candidate, at least for now, Al Sharpton.


CARLSON: Mr. Sharpton, thanks for joining us, as always.


CARLSON: Your party, the Democratic Party, pays, as you know, lip service to the idea of diversity, but you've been treated with contempt and derision by your fellow Democrats since you've announced.

I want to give you one example. This is Paul Begala, our co- host, here on CROSSFIRE on January 30th. Here's what he says about you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Nobody on the Sharpton bandwagon accepts the right wing cranks, and there's a good reason. That's the only people that like him.


CARLSON: Mr. Sharpton, only cranks support you? Why are you treated this way by your fellow Democrats, I wonder?

SHARPTON: Well, you show one person. And he has his right to his opinion, just like anybody else does. I think clearly we've shown support around the country, and the support will be demonstrated in the primaries.

I'm not going to respond to one person. I will stay in defense of my party that I've been treated a lot better than your party treated Alan Keys. So I think that...

CARLSON: Wait. That's actually not true. Alan Keys was in the debates.

SHARPTON: He got arrested for trying to get into one.

CARLSON: But the point is, here you are -- that was in '96. In 2000 he was in all the debates. But here you are...

SHARPTON: I didn't get arrested to get into the debates.

CARLSON: Well, you still have time to get arrested. But you're running a path-breaking, trail-blazing candidacy, and I wonder why you haven't been embraced. You haven't.

SHARPTON: Well I think, first of all, when you look at a lot of leadership -- I mean you showed a pundit. From Congressman (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to the mayor of Newark, Sharpe James, and others who are endorsing me, I think you'd be hard pressed to say, because you have some pundits that disagree, that that's speaking for the leadership of the party. I'm not going to let you get away with that.

CARVILLE: Reverend Sharpton, would you tell him who Charlotte Chisolm (ph) was? I don't know if he was even born when...

SHARPTON: Well, surely. Chisolm (ph) ran for president in 1972. I was the chief director of her campaign.

CARVILLE: And she was -- was she an African-American?

SHARPTON: African-American woman.

CARVILLE: And a Democrat.

SHARPTON: And a Democrat. And...

CARLSON: So why aren't you getting the respect that she got, I wonder?

SHARPTON: Do you know the kind of respect she got? Again, many people (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

CARLSON: Then what is wrong with your party?


SHARPTON: ... Jesse Jackson. He helped think (ph) up Sister Solja. He's acting consistent. That's not the Democratic Party.

CARVILLE: Now, Reverend Sharpton, Mr. Carlson believes that I should treat you different because you're an African-American candidate, as opposed to -- he's treating it as opposed to a Democratic candidate running for president. I think I ought to treat you as I would treat any other Democrat. He views it differently, but that's the way we Democrats are; we're color blind.

CARLSON: Yes, I noticed that. Yes.

SHARPTON: I think that Mr. Carlson and others in his party have a strange use of affirmative action when they want to have it.

CARVILLE: I agree with you. Let me ask you a question here, sir. There would be nobody running for president right now if the Democratic nomination had ever endorsed a Republican for the United States Senate, would there be?

SHARPTON: That's not true.

CARVILLE: That's not true?

SHARPTON: I remember when I was a kid Reverend Jackson supported Charles Percy (ph). We've had to fight Democrats.

CARVILLE: But then (UNINTELLIGIBLE) . Is there any chance they could...

SHARPTON: That's not what you said.

CARVILLE: No, I said any chance...


SHARPTON: I don't know. It's very possible. It's very possible.

CARVILLE: And could there possibly be one that...

SHARPTON: It's very possible. Absolutely.

CARVILLE: Could that one be Al Sharpton?

SHARPTON: Well I endorsed a Republican and then said publicly I was wrong. But every Democrat, Mr. Carville, that is in office today in New York, from Hillary Clinton to Chuck Schumer to Eliot Spitzer, all of whom go to my headquarter, went there with my support. Ask any statewide elected Democrat today.


CARVILLE: Now just for the record, because I've...

SHARPTON: Twenty years ago.

CARVILLE: OK. Twenty years ago...

SHARPTON: And let me respond.

CARVILLE: OK. All right.

SHARPTON: Twenty years ago I had a mistake of thinking that a Republican was going to continue in the tradition of Jacob Javitz (ph), who had a good rapport with her (ph). He didn't, and we tried to...


CARLSON: Mr. Sharpton, speaking of New York politics, did -- Mr. Sharpton, when was the last time you spoke to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton?

SHARPTON: The last time I called her?


SHARPTON: It's been since I talked to George Bush.

CARLSON: When specifically was the last time you spoke to her?

SHARPTON: Whenever I called her. When I call her, Senator -- I talk to Republicans, I talk to your majority leader.

CARLSON: Well, I bet you do, but...

SHARPTON: I don't keep a calendar. I talk to Bill Frist as much as I talk to Hillary Clinton.

CARLSON: But you're not embarrassed to speak to Senator Clinton, are you?

SHARPTON: When I need to call her, I call her on issues. And she responds, as Bill Frist responds. That's not a party...

CARLSON: I'm not saying it is.

CARVILLE: Reverend Sharpton, you're running for president. He has a thing about woman and having power; he hates it. So I want to ask you a question.

CARLSON: That is actually the dumbest thing I...

CARVILLE: What would you do about this economy if you're president, as opposed to...

SHARPTON: First of all, I think that we must deal with the fact that the president's tax cut is really a tax (UNINTELLIGIBLE). We are now in state deficits all over the country, a record number. What he's done is, by giving the tax cut to the wealthy, he's forced states that have deficits to increase sales tax, property tax. Mass transit is growing (ph) up in places like New York.

So poor people are paying a tax without calling a tax. And it's not a cut, it is a shift.


SHARPTON: We don't need a tax cut that really shifts the burden.

CARVILLE: I agree with you.

SHARPTON: Second, we need to invest in creating new jobs. I've said in the Sharpton campaign that we need a $250 billion...


CARVILLE: What's more important for the next president, to know when you talk to Hillary Clinton or do something about this economy? What would be the biggest priority?

CARLSON: I want you to answer a simple question, Mr. Sharpton.

CARVILLE: I think it would be important to talk to every U.S. senator about the economy, including Hillary Clinton.

CARLSON: Right. OK. Now, Mr. Sharpton, let's talk. Before you start making policy and before you call Mrs. Clinton again, let's talk about your campaign.

SHARPTON: I thought CROSSFIRE was about policy.

CARLSON: It's about politics, as well. And I want to ask you this political question. You've raised so far apparently about $114,456. Contrast that to Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, who has raised $7.4 million, some of it under questionable circumstances.

And yet, our latest poll from CNN shows you beating Edwards. You were at seven points, he is at six points. How can you beat him when you're at $114,000 and he's at $7.4? How did you do that?

SHARPTON: Maybe that's why I should be president, because I can get more bounce out of a dollar. And I can show you how to do it.


CARLSON: You're also, I noticed, you're also beating former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, who is conventionally thought of as being the voice of the left. Kind of surprising. What do you bring to the field that Howard Dean does not?

SHARPTON: Again, I'm not a pundit, I don't get into polls. I think that what we do bring is a clear strategy of trying to expand the party to the -- a lot of people have become disillusioned with the process since the 2000 election. And really presenting them that they can be heard, they can be included, that's the only way we're going to be successful, in my judgment, in the 2004 race as a Democratic Party.

We can't go without expanding the base. We have to have core values, but we need to bring in people that have become...

CARLSON: OK. Well, we're going to take a quick break. I hope, Reverend Sharpton, your party begins to treat you with the respect you deserve, and that includes Mr. Carville. Don't write off Al Sharpton.

The presidential primaries keep getting earlier. We've decided why wait. We're asking our studio audience to pull out their voting devices and tell us right now, does Al Sharpton have a chance to be elected president of the United States?

True believers, press one for yes, he has a chance. Skeptics and Democratic operatives, press two for no, he has no chance. We'll take a quick break.

Just ahead, Wolf Blitzer gives us a check of the headlines, and we'll tell you the results of our audience poll. Does Al Sharpton have a chance in "Rapid Fire," where the questions and answers come even faster than people jumping on the Sharpton bandwagon. We'll be right back.



CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Time for "Rapid Fire," the fastest question-and-answer session in television. Let's kick it off with the answer to our Ask the Audience question.

Does Al Sharpton have a chance to be elected president? We'll put the results up on the big board. And they are, yes, 23 percent, no, 77 percent. Al Sharpton, are you going to pack it in?

SHARPTON: Absolutely not. I think I've got about 20 more points than I got the last time you asked the question.

CARVILLE: There you go.


CARVILLE: If the 77 are right and you're not the party's nominee, will you run -- have you pledged not to run not as a third party candidate, or will you consider it?

SHARPTON: I've said from the beginning if I was interested in running as a third party candidate, I would have done that from the beginning. I will be in the party. I hope to support the nominee, I hope to be the nominee. But I will not be running for the third party.

CARLSON: Give me three names of people you'd consider for a vice presidential candidate.

SHARPTON: I don't know. I don't want to play the name game. It would have to be someone that I would believe that would stand by the views that I think are important and that could help to expand the party and beat George Bush. That's the goal in '04.

CARVILLE: If you're elected president and there are still 150,000 to 200,000 American troops in Iraq, would you begin an orderly withdrawal of those troops or would you continue with the nation building that's going on?

SHARPTON: Well, I don't know how much nation building is going on. I would begin an orderly withdrawal. I would also begin to really make sure there's a democracy in place there and then hope to bring it to Florida before my first term is over.

CARLSON: Who's presidency would you model yours after?

SHARPTON: I respected pre-Vietnam Lyndon Johnson. I thought he was a good president. I respected Roosevelt. But I probably would take a little of Bill Clinton, though I disagree with him on social issues. There were presidents that did things I thought were worthy of emulating.

CARVILLE: Would you consider a woman for a running mate?

SHARPTON: Absolutely. I think that -- you know, in '84, when Reverend Jackson ran, one of the things that we pushed was a woman. And we got the first woman on the ticket, Geraldine Ferraro, who I worked with her from time to time in New York. I think it's a good thing, I wonder whether Republicans will ever have a woman on the ticket.

CARLSON: We're just watching your candidacy. The Reverend Al Sharpton from New York, the next nominee of the Democratic Party. Thank you.

SHARPTON: All right. Thank you.

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