updated 9/9/2013 12:50:17 PM ET 2013-09-09T16:50:17

POLITICS NATION
September 6, 2013

Guests: Thomas Perez, Dana Milbank, Maria Teresa Kumar, Arsenio Hall


REV. AL SHARPTON, HOST, POLITICS NATION: Thank to you for tuning in.
Tonight`s league, "Making the Case." Today, President Obama announced
he`ll make a new push to energize a war weary public and unite a divided
Congress over military action in Syria. On his last day at the economic
summit in Russia, the President announced he`ll deliver an address on Syria
this Tuesday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will make best case
that I can to the American people as well as to the international community
for taking necessary and appropriate action. And I intend to address the
American people from the White House on Tuesday.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The president said today he understands the skepticism over
launching a military strike.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I was elected to end wars, not start them. I have spent the
last four and a half years doing everything I can to reduce our reliance on
military power as a means of meeting our international obligations and
protecting the American people. But what I also know is that there are
times where we have to make hard choices if we are going to stand up for
the things that we care about and I believe this is one of those times.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The president has his work cut out for him. Videos from
town halls in Arizona captured the mood. They show one senator who
supports action in Syria, John McCain, getting an earful from voters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How much is the life of American servicemen worth?
To me it`s worth a whole lot more.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Sir, there is no contemplation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are you not listening to the people and
staying out of Syria?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Enough is enough. We do not want another
engagement in the Middle East.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: This is democracy in action. These are serious questions
on a serious matter. Very soon, the country will hear this president lay
out his strongest case in its entirety.

Joining me now are James Peterson and E.J. Dionne.

Thank you both for coming on the show.

JAMES PETERSON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Rev.

E.J. DIONNE, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Good to be with you,
Reverend.

SHARPTON: E.J., what do Americans need to hear from the president on
Tuesday?

DIONNE: Well, to be honest, I`m not sure he will ever get a majority
for now saying this a great idea. He almost conceded as much today and
said even if the majority is against it, Congress has to decide whether
it`s the right thing to do.

But I think there are a number of things he has to explain. One is,
he has been reluctant to intervene. Why does this chemical attack change
his own calculus here? And I think there he needs to make a strong and I
believe a legitimate moral case that if the world just lets this go by,
it`s much more dangerous for us in the long-term.

I think the second thing he has to do is to make sure that this will
not lead to American troops in Syria, but that there is a long-term
strategy that could lead to negotiations over a solution there. I think
it`s a makeable case. And I think the key is to reassure a whole lot of
Democrats who really don`t want to vote for this, but also do not want to
cripple their president in foreign policy. And I actually think there will
be in the end enough Republicans who don`t want to do that either if he can
make a compelling enough case.

SHARPTON: All right. Before James Peterson, before we get to his
convincing them that it won`t be long-term, let me ask the question that is
on the minds of a lot of people that have not been raised. What if the
Congress does not give him the authorization? He was asked that today.
Will he good forward? And let me play what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I put this before Congress for a reason. I think we will be
more effective and stronger if, in fact, Congress authorizes this action.
I`m not going to engage in parlor games now, Jonathan, about whether or not
it`s going to pass when I`m talking substantively to Congress about why
this is important.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So he would not give a direct answer he is going to really
keep the pressure on Congress to take the vote.

PETERSON: Right.

SHARPTON: But does that put more pressure on Congress in terms of
voting or does that put more pressure on the president in terms of making
his case to the public?

PETERSON: It puts pressure on both. I mean, the president has still
carved out a small space for him to still take executive action if he feels
like that`s what he needs to do in this particular case. I think having
Congress involved here is very, very important, because you get a chance to
see the will of the people and get a chance to see the reluctance that the
American people have to enter into war.

I don`t think that ultimately this intervention makes sense to me or
to the American people. So people are going to be very, very interested in
what the president has to say. But Rev, it`s also very important here that
this president has involved the Congress in these kinds of decisions.
Unfortunately, in our immediate history, that has not been happening. So,
hopefully, this will set a precedent where we have this kind of
conversation before we make this kind of action.

SHARPTON: No, I agree he should have gone to Congress. I give him a
lot of pluses for that, even though I have questions about the strike.

E.J., let me say this. Somewhere in your answer, I heard exactly what
is tearing at a lot of people, including me, concern about the military
strike, but at the same time and war weary, but at the same time worried
about security if there is a security, a real potential problem. I live in
New York when 9/11 happened. I was here that day. So the president
indicated that he understands the country is war weary.

Let me play that, because maybe this understanding will also put him
in the realm of the argument that needs to be had here on that and
therefore why should we go forward. Let me show his response to the nation
being war-weary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I knew this was going to be a heavy lift. I said that on
Saturday when I said we are going to take it to Congress. You know, our
polling operations are pretty good. I tend to have a pretty good sense of
what current popular opinion is. And for the American people who have been
through other a decade of war now with enormous sacrifice in blood and
treasure, any hint of further military entanglements in the Middle East are
going to be viewed with suspicion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: E.J., if he really understands that, will he be able then
to frame his argument in a way that relieves some of that weariness, or at
least make people say this is necessary?

DIONNE: I think it`s necessary. I hope he does. I mean, he is in a
way challenging some of the things he has said up to now in saying this is
worth doing. He said all along that it`s time for nation building a home.
That`s what most Americans believe. He has been reluctant to take sides in
the Syrian war where we know that not only is Bashar Al-Assad a bad guy,
but there are some bad guys on the other side, even if they`re not the
dominant forces in the opposition.

And so, he`s got to say despite all this, because breaching this norm
about chemical weapons is so important, because his word and America`s word
is so important, because if we`re going to confront Iran down the road, he
and our country need credibility, he`s got to take is step.

And I think he`s got different arguments to make to his own side he`s
got to say this is not about a long-term commitment on the ground. To some
of the Republicans he`s got to say but I have a strategy through
negotiations over the long run to get rid of Bashar Assad. It`s a very
hard case. I think it`s a makeable case.

SHARPTON: But at the same time, Dr. Peterson, "The New York Times" is
reporting that the president has directed the Pentagon to expand the list
of potential targets in Syria. Now, does that -- and let me give you the
quote. The targets reportedly would include military infrastructure used
to protect and distribute chemical weapons. Does this go to the heart of
the Congress` concern about a military -- about a mission.

PETERSON: It does answer the heart of the American people because we
are on a slippery slope. The president`s got to explain I think a few
things. One, has to explain why we can`t double down on humanitarian
efforts. If the crisis is about a human crisis, why aren`t we focused on
the humanitarian efforts there? That to me makes more sense.

Also, he has got, and this is a tough road here, but he has got to
somehow explain to the American people how is it that the government,
especially the Congress can assemble, can pitch in, can come together, can
collaborate, can have substantive discussion about military intervention in
Syria. We can`t do that for gun control here. We can`t do that for
education here. We can`t do that for a budget deal here.

SHARPTON: For jobs.

PETERSON: For jobs here in this nation. It doesn`t make sense to us.
It doesn`t make sense.

SHARPTON: James Peterson and E.J. Dionne, thanks for your time.

PETERSON: Thank you.

DIONNE: Thank you, Rev.

SHARPTON: Coming up, whatever you think about a role in Syria, it
can`t be about politics. But some Republicans are going there.

Plus, the president`s plan to create jobs is working, but so is the
right wing obstruction machine on the right.

The one and only Arsenio Hall is here, and he is heading back to late-
night TV.

Stay with us. You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Playing politics with a decision about war. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Over the past three and a half years our businesses have
created 7.5 million new jobs, a pace of more than two million jobs each
year. We put more people back to work, but we have also clear away the
rubble of crisis and laid the foundation for stronger and more durable
economic growth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: We are on our way to a stronger economy. Things are better
than they were when President Obama took office. And in many ways, it is.
Look at this.

Before the president came into office, we were losing private sector
jobs left and right. And since Obama, we have seen growth months after
month. In fact, today we learned that we have had 42 straight months of
private sector job growth. But that`s not as strong as it could be.

The GOP obsession with cuts continues to stifle our economy. The GOP
obstruction machine is still working overtime and is hurting the country.

Joining me now are labor secretary Thomas Perez and MSNBC contributor
Victoria Defrancesco Soto.

Thank you for coming on the show tonight.

VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO SOTO, NBC LATINO CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Rev.

THOMAS PEREZ, U..S SECRETARY OF LABOR: A pleasure to be here.

SHARPTON: Secretary Perez, let me start with you. Where would we be
if we didn`t have this constant austerity measures that are being pushed
through by the GOP?

PEREZ: Well, we would certainly have an unemployment rate that is far
lower. And let me give you one example. You are correct. We have had 42
consecutive months of private sector job growth to the tune of 7.5 million
jobs. During that same period, we have lost 500,000 jobs in government.
And who are these jobs that are being lost? They are primarily teachers,
firefighters, police officers at a local level.

I have three kids in the public schools in my neck of the woods, and
they are seeing larger class sizes. They are seeing that there is less
teachers in the school. There is less teachers aides in the school.

If we had simply been able to keep that number flat, and I have never
seen a recovery -- I`m unaware of a recovery where you had no growth in
government jobs. If we had been able to keep that flat, we would haven
unemployment rate under seven percent. So, that`s simply one example of a
self-inflicted wound. Something that didn`t have to happen.

If the American jobs act the president`s better bargain for the middle
class had been in place, we would have more teachers, we would have more
firefighters, we would have more police officers, we would have road
projects, bridge projects that are desperately need, and people at work in
middle class jobs.

SHARPTON: You know, I want you to weigh in on that, Victoria,
because, you know, the day we found that unemployment now stands at 7.3
percent, it`s progress, but it`s not as good as it could be. Isn`t it
proof that we need to drop this ditch, this GOP cuts mentality that they
have with the public sector is not growing at all?

SOTO: Absolutely. Reverend, we have seen slow progress at the
general level, but let`s not forget that our minority communities are still
hurting. They are still being held back.

SHARPTON: Absolutely.

SOTO: The Latino unemployment rate actually ticked up slightly. It
went from 9.1 to 9.4. African-American unemployment still very high. So
in the public sector, it`s not just something to growing the economy in
general, but those who lost the most are in the great recession, the
minority communities who faced hits of 60 percent, 50 percent of their
wealth are the ones who are having the toughest time going forward and this
is where we need that push.

SHARPTON: And they are largely minorities, Blacks, Hispanics in the
public sector.

SOTO: Absolutely.

SHARPTON: And Secretary Perez, that is where the GOP budget cuts
target programs and the jobs that are related to them. They have targeted
programs like head start, for example. They have slashed $400 million from
head start. And it`s not only the jobs, it`s more than 57,000 children
were eliminated from the program.

PEREZ: The evidence base is overwhelming about the value of head
start, investing in our children from the youngest ages. Education is the
great equalizer in America, and we need to start as young as possible
giving our kids an opportunity to succeed. And that`s why our president
has invested so much in education, growing the economy from the middle out,
making sure that people have the skills to succeed.

At the department of labor, we are the department of opportunity. And
we invest heavily in helping people get those skills so that they can
tackle and get today`s jobs and tomorrow`s jobs that provide those ladders
of opportunity.

For too many people, they are working harder and falling further
behind. And that`s why we`re working so hard to raise the minimum wage to
invest in roads and infrastructure to make sure we pass immigration reform,
which is a job creator. It will secure the Social Security System for
another couple of years. It will raise GDP. It puts people to work.

It`s jobs, jobs, jobs. We are growing the jobs numbers again,
reiterate that the economy is steadily healing and moving in the right
direction. But we should have our foot on the accelerator, not have our
foot on the brake. The president has his foot --

SHARPTON: And that`s the real point, the foot on the brake.

When you look, Victoria, not only are we talking in the area of head
start, look at the farm bill. Look at how we have seen the GOP cut food
stamps. The house GOP`s new farm bill would cut $40 billion from food
stamps. Six million people could lose food assistance.

Now, the right also demonizes those who need vital programs like food
stamps, make them look like they are less than what they really are, and
that`s people in need. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Administration is encouraging
parasites to come out, and, you know, take as much as they can with no
remorse. And this is how a country declines. This is how we become a weak
nation.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Why does the left promote
dependency? Fifty million or more on food stamps. This is their business
plan. This is how they stay in power.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Do you think people are better off on
food stamps or are they better off with a job?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And the people that are on food stamps, many of them do
have a job. But why aside from the fact that I need help because I can`t
make ends meet, because there are layoffs, because minimum wage, I have got
to be a parasite on top of that, Victoria?

SOTO: And you`re also being demonized at the state level. So, at the
federal level, we see cuts. But let`s not forget what`s going on
individual states. My home state of Texas, where Governor Rick Perry is
cutting and he doesn`t want to accept Medicaid in terms of the affordable
care act. So, we see our poor populations, populations that can`t make
ends meet being stretched further and further. And it`s just something
that is at the federal level and the state level.

SHARPTON: Secretary Perez, we are running out of time. But what is
the president`s message? What is the president and the administration`s
message to people that are still out trying to find a job?

PEREZ: We are doing everything we can to help you. We are growing
the economy from the middle out. We are making sure we invest in roads and
in infrastructure. That physical infrastructure. We are going to invest
in the human capital infrastructure, skills helping you the succeed. We
are going to pass immigration reform so that we grow the economy that way.
We are doing -- we are using every tool in our arsenal to ensure that
everybody has an opportunity to climb the ladder of success and achieve
good middle class jobs that are the road map to self-sufficiency.

SHARPTON: Well, secretary of labor Thomas Perez and Victoria
Defrancesco Soto, thank you both for your time this evening.

SOTO: Thanks, Rev.

PEREZ: My pleasure.

SHARPTON: Coming up, the politics of war. All of the sudden the
hawks in the Republican Party are changing their tune. I wonder why that
is?

Plus, the one and only Arsenio Hall is returning to late night TV.
But first he stops by "Politics Nation`s" studio. You don`t want to miss
this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The biggest war hawks are chaining their tune. They wanted
to invade Iraq under Bush. And now under President Obama, they don`t want
anything to do with Syria. And the last person that should be weighing in
is --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD RUMSFELD, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: My personal view is
what he has proposed is not something that will have a sufficient effect
that it`s worth doing. And I would personally not be in favor of
supporting what he is proposing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Rumsfeld is not alone. They are ling up to flip-flop.
That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: It`s the question everyone is debating. What to do about
Syria?

It`s not an easy decision on either side of the aisle. But one thing
is certain, it should have nothing to do with politics.

But listen to this. GOP Congressman Michael Grimm favored action in
Syria until he sent out a fundraising letter today. Quote, "I have decided
to withdraw my support from President Obama`s proposal. Will you stand
with me and opposing President Obama`s plan with a donation of $25 or more
right now?"

What? Trying to fund raise off what is supposed to be a question of
conscience?

GOP Senator John Cornyn supported intervention in Syria. Today his
spokesperson said if the vote were held today, Senator Cornyn would vote
no. And this is the big one. Donald Rumsfeld, yes, that Rumsfeld, is all
over TV, attacking the President`s plan. Again, it`s a tough moral
decision, but this trend on the right is all about one thing, President
Obama.

Joining me now are Dana Milbank and Maria Teresa Kumar. Thanks for
being here.

DANA MILBANK, THE WASHINGTON POST: Hi, Reverend.

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, PRESIDENT, VOTO LATINO: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Dana, you can certainly disagree with the President. But
trying to fund raise off of it? I mean, what do you make of that?

MILBANK: Boy, there is a real profile in courage, isn`t it? I think
you can call the Republicans right now the contrary caucus. So, what it
is, it doesn`t so much matter what the issue is if President Obama is for
it, they`re against it. So he needs to start using some reverse psychology
the way you would with a child. So if he came out and said I really want
some more tax cuts. They will say no, no, no, we won`t support any more
tax cuts. So, maybe he needs to do this in reverse. But at some point
they have to realized they`re voting against their own interests, they`re
voting against the national interests just so they can say no to this
president.

SHARPTON: Yes. But we`re talking war when we`re dealing with this,
Maria. We`re talking about whether or not there were chemical weapons.
We`re talking about children dying. Can`t we expect, shouldn`t we expect
our people in Congress, our leaders of political parties to rise above
partisan politics when it gets this serious?

KUMAR: I mean, the fact that you do have republican leaders such as
McCain saying that we do need intervention is I think an indication of the
serious problem that we`re facing in Syria. When we`re talking about Syria
of chemical weapons, it`s not something that is just contained to Syria
itself. The U.N. basically says that there is over 3.5 million refugees
expected by the end of the year and they`re spilling over into incredibly
vulnerable countries already into Iraq, Egypt, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.

And of those, Jordan is the only that`s stable, but they are seriously
concerned with such an influx of refugees. So unless we actually figure
out how do we do a smart, surgical strike on Syria that basically contains
the problem and sends a serious message, we need to continue making sure
that we have as always as stable as possible. And short of that, it`s not
just going to affect Syria, but it`s going to affect the world
internationally.

SHARPTON: All right, well, Dana, here is "The Washington Post`s"
running tally on support in the house for military action. And I should
know there has been changing throughout the day. But as of this tally, 222
house members are either against a strike or leaning against. One hundred
eighty six are undecided. Twenty five favor military action. Now here is
the thing. Of those 222 who are against -- leaning against, 160 are
Republicans. Now, it is surprising to see so much opposition to a military
strike from the GOP?

MILBANK: It`s -- I would venture to say it`s unprecedented. And what
makes it particularly extraordinary is you have House Speaker John Boehner,
Majority Leader Eric Cantor out there saying we support the President on
this. It shows that they have just -- the leaders have lost control of
this. And what is really driving this right now is these conservative
groups like heritage action, club for growth, Tea Party-related
organizations. And these guys are casting their votes in terror of that.
John Cornyn, you showed him, he is in terror of Ted Cruz, the other
republican senator from Texas. The leaders have no control here. It`s a
problem a little bit on the democratic side too, but particularly on the
republican side.

KUMAR: And to that point, I think, Dana, Reverend, basically, it
actually shows the continued friction within the Republican Party where the
Tea Party is very much an isolationist group within the party.

SHARPTON: Right.

KUMAR: And they have an incredible -- they have incredible control,
even though they are the minority within the Republican Party. So when
you`re talking about that they don`t want to spend money on war. They want
to cut the deficit. They want to defund government as much as possible,
and in this case they want to be as isolationist as possible, it really is
contrary to the overall republican leadership.

SHARPTON: And you hear from the queen of the Tea Party, Sarah Palin.
She says so we`re bombing Syria because Syria is bombing Syria, and I`m the
idiot? And then she added, let Allah sort it out. I mean, this kind of
extreme and offensive language when you`re making that last quip is where
we are seeing this go. But another republican, Dana, criticizing President
Obama on Syria was Congressman Paul Ryan. He said, quote, "The President
has some work to do to recover from his grave missteps in Syria. He needs
to clearly demonstrate the use of military force would strengthen
Americans` security." But back when he was running for president, Ryan
agreed with the President`s stance on Syria. Let`s listen back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: What happens if Assad does not fall? Congressman
Ryan, what happens to the region? What happens if he hangs on? What
happens if he does?

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: Then Iran keeps their greatest ally in
the region. He is a sponsor of terrorism. He`ll probably continue
slaughtering his people. We and the world community will lose our
credibility on this. Look, he mentioned the --

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: So what would Romney/Ryan do about that
credibility?

RYAN: Well, we agree with the same red line actually they do on
chemical weapons. But not putting American troops in other than to secure
those chemical weapons. They`re right about that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So if -- if Ryan agreed with the President`s red line on
chemical weapons, how can he accuse them of grave missteps now, Dana?

MILBANK: Well, first of all, when Sarah Palin is asking, am I the
idiot here, I think she does not want us to answer that question. But I
think Paul Ryan has said that, and he said it on other occasions too.
Nothing has changed here. The only thing that is changed is the grassroots
of the party have moved in a different direction, and Paul Ryan realizes
that if he wants to stay out in front, if he wants to be a presidential
contender in `16, if he wants to knock Boehner out as speaker of the house,
he has to be on their side of this issue. And it is extraordinary because
it is, you know, I mean, the old saying about politics stopping at the
water`s edge is completely gone now. There is nothing but politics left in
this.

SHARPTON: Maria, and we have cause also hearing from the former
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the man who planned the Iraq war.

KUMAR: Right.

SHARPTON: He has been attacking the President`s handling of Syria.
Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The essence of leadership really is clarity and the
vision. And there hasn`t been one. The so-called commander in chief has
not been acting as a commander in chief. He`s not provided leadership.

DONALD RUMSFELD, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: Now, why do people
criticize this? Well, you want to blame somebody. If you want to learn
how to blame, watch our president. Just one time you would like to see him
suck it up and take responsibility for something.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The so-called commander in chief. One time we would like
to see him suck it up. This is from the man that brought us into Iraq, and
now he is not only out there making attacks, he is also making some very
ugly statements about the president.

KUMAR: Well, and this is also from a person that basically has no
regrets and said that he didn`t make any mistakes with Iraq. And talk
about a myopic view of the world and not taking consideration his own
challenges when he was actually helping leading that effort. I think that
by him undressing the President in such a way, he not only undresses
President Obama, but also the office. And that`s uncalled for. Again,
something that is unprecedented I think when it comes to time of war.

And this is an incredibly delicate situation where we have to really
better understand it. And again, back to the way Sarah Palin was
discussing Syria, again, we`re looking through a myopic lens as if Syria is
self contained. It`s not. It actually believes into very vulnerable areas
that can be very vulnerable and explosive to the rest of the world when
we`re talking about the Middle East.

SHARPTON: Dana Milbank, Maria Teresa Kumar, thank you both for your
time tonight.

KUMAR: Thank you so much, Reverend. And good luck tonight.

MILBANK: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, a TV moment that lives forever. Bill Clinton on
the Arsenio Hall show. Arsenio is back on late night, and he joins us,
next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: It was one of the biggest moments in late night TV history
and in politics. Bill Clinton`s 1992 saxophone performance on the Arsenio
Hall Show.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BILL CLINTON`S 1992 SAXOPHONE PERFORMANCE)

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The big man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But Arsenio Hall, the man who could make politicians cool,
also made news, like in this groundbreaking interview with Magic Johnson,
his first public appearance since announcing he was HIV positive.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAGIC JOHNSON, FORMER PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYER: I`m not fearing
it. I`m not down. I`m here say hey, I got it, but I`m going to live on.
And you don`t have to run from me like oh, here come magic, uh-oh. You
don`t have to do all that.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You were the Lakers, and there was only a bench for
the Lakers. But now you`re with a team that is comprised by the entire
world. And we`re going to win this one, man. That`s number one. That`s
the first thing I want to say.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: A powerful news-making interview, and a man who brought us
these moments isn`t done. Arsenio Hall returns to late night TV Monday
night, 19 yes after the end of his first show. The dog pound is back.

Joining me now, the one and only Arsenio Hall. Thank you so much for
being here.

ARSENIO HALL, COMEDIAN: This is wonderful. Of all the things I`ve
done since I`ve been in New York, this is the one I look forward to. Sir,
I`ve known you for a long, long time. As I`m going back to this talk show,
I remembered long before I had stage 29, you and I sat on stage 28, and we
sat this on the set of "Solid Gold" in the dressing room where you were
sitting in the corner very quietly with James Brown.

SHARPTON: Oh, wow.

HALL: Because James was on "Solid Gold" that day.

SHARPTON: That`s` right.

HALL: .as Dionne Warwick`s guest. And James introduced me to you.
And I always thought you were his cousin or his brother. I never knew who
he was but I knew there was a follicle synchronicity that you and he had.

SHARPTON: Yes.

HALL: I was like that brother style his hair just like James. They
have to be close.

(LAUGHTER)

And I asked James one day. And I said Mr. Brown, who is that
gentleman? And he said, a reverend. And that was it.

SHARPTON: He is back, y`all. He has already started. Let me ask
you. You`re returning to late night after 19 years.

HALL: Yes, yes.

SHARPTON: Are you nervous?

HALL: I`m very nervous, sir. But I`m so excited to show my son why
he goes to a private school and how we`re able to afford it. And it`s
going to be so exciting for him. He is serving as my little creative
consultant.

SHARPTON: Your son?

HALL: Yes. You know, he is 13. And if you involve your kids, they
understand the mission in going with you in a sense. He told me, he says
dad, first week I would like you do to do Mack Miller. And if you can, see
if you can do Lamar. And he said something, he said, and Uncle Magic would
be good.

SHARPTON: Yes.

HALL: You know, so --

SHARPTON: You`re going to do magic?

HALL: Third night, Magic Johnson, George Lopez, and Noz which also my
--

SHARPTON: Well, you know, I`m doing Magic tonight. At the Apollo.

HALL: He is in the hotel, "Advancing the Dream" he said.

SHARPTON: Yes. He is doing "Advancing the Dream" with me tonight at
the Apollo. We`ll be on live tonight at 10:00.

HALL: That`s incredible. You know what is interesting about that
whole dream thing? I watched a lot of coverage during the 50th
anniversary.

SHARPTON: Right.

HALL: I didn`t realize that the whole dream element was not in the
speech.

SHARPTON: Right.

HALL: He didn`t plan on doing that.

SHARPTON: It was -- he did it extemporaneously. There is one thing
about your late night show that a lot of people don`t give you credit for.
You were one of the ones that made it OK to bring politicians on, even
though it was an entertainment show. You brought on Bill Clinton, Hillary
Clinton. I remember a lot of people even in civil rights you went out
there on the limb and brought on.

HALL: Yes indeed. I had Jesse there probably more than I should
have. But Mr. Jackson, if you`re nasty.

SHARPTON: Yes.

HALL: But the bottom line is tried to do everything that was
interesting to my demographic. And there were nights when there were riots
in Los Angeles.

SHARPTON: Right.

HALL: I would feel like I can`t just not do a show. Because I
remember Paramount saying, don`t do a show when we had the riots in South
Central. And I sent for people from first AME Church because they signed
waivers.

SHARPTON: Yes.

HALL: Paramount didn`t want me to have an audience.

SHARPTON: Reverend Murray. I remember that, yes.

HALL: Yes. Reverend Murray brought bought 200 people to the show,
and they signed waivers because Paramount didn`t want people out that night
and to be responsible. They wanted to be indemnified for that. I called
Mayor Bradley and I called Edward James Olmos and Sean Penn. And we had
church. We had a show. We had a show that night.

SHARPTON: Wow.

HALL: You got to do it.

SHARPTON: What have you been up to in the last 19 years?

HALL: Wow. Trying to do things for me, trying to balance my life.
And I didn`t know what that meant when I left the show. I remember Michael
Bay calling me and saying, do you want to do bad boys? And I knew what an
opportunity that would be. And he told me, if you don`t call me back 10:00
tomorrow, I`m going with Will Smith. And I had to make a decision of
whether to further the balance of my personal life and my spiritual life.
Because when you`re doing this kind of thing, you`re working 24/7. And as
soon as you finish, you start working on the next one. And if you`re the
EP of it, it`s even more in-depth.

SHARPTON: Right.

HALL: So, I remember leaving and not knowing why. But, Reverend, I
have a 13-year-old son. It taught me a little bit more about the meaning
of life. It made me a less selfish man, because Hollywood will make you
nuts. And the bottom line is I think it`s made me a better person. And he
is my little creative consultant now. He tells me what I should do and
keep my ear close to the street. And I`m happy for every moment. See, I
was a latchkey kid. And I wanted my son to experience a childhood
different than mine. When I look at my parents` photo album, there aren`t
a lot of pictures of me trick-or-treating or playing baseball because they
were working two and three jobs.

They were doing their thing. I was latchkey kid who go in the house
and fix me a cheese sandwich. I wanted my son to have a different life.
And God blessed me with the paper I have and the success I have. And so I
decided to take some time away. And I did it the way I want to do it. And
now he and I are both back, and we`re on a mission. He wants to know why
people bark at daddy. And I`m getting ready to show him.

SHARPTON: Well, let me show you something.

HALL: OK.

SHARPTON: I talked about politicians. Everybody remembers that night
that Bill Clinton was on your show.

HALL: Uh-huh.

SHARPTON: Let me show you something.

HALL: OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HALL: And that is something that I heard a political analyst talking
about recently. He said you kind of were -- I use the word chilling out.
He said you were pulling back a little bit. You had been instructed not to
say as much or be as outspoken? No?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I`ve heard that, but I never know who says it. I
think it`s wishful thinking on the part of some people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, what is amazing you made politicians cool? I mean he
did his famous performance on your show, Hillary Clinton. And ironically,
you`re back, and some of the same people are still big names. Are they
coming back too? What kind of politicians would you be interested in your
new show?

HALL: Well, we can start with hil-dawg in the beautiful yellow suit
there. If Hillary shows up on my new set and just holds a saxophone, it
will be the greatest moment in my professional career, because that will be
an announcement that here comes another Clinton about to go through
Arsenio to the hill and to the White House.

SHARPTON: Don`t -- don`t forget you made the offer on this show. Let
me tell you something else that was always striking to me about you. Is
that you really engaged your guests. You had a way of zoning in. And one
of the most memorable was the night you had Muhammad Ali on and brought out
Mike Tyson and Sugar Ray Leonard. Let me show you that.

HALL: OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HALL: Scared of this one? He is a sweetheart!

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: He is a real champ. He is a real champ.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Really?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I think so.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yes, you`re a real champ, man?

HALL: You`re a real champ. Who would have won if you fought this man
in your prime?

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(audience): Ali! Ali! Ali! Ali! Ali! Ali!

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Wait, wait, wait.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: He is a dance master.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I wasn`t that powerful, I was so fast. And he hit
me.

(LAUGHTER)

HALL: Sugar has told me many times that you had a great influence on
him.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: This is my father. My father, looking for you.
Daddy!

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, how did that moment come together, though?

HALL: Well, you know what? I had Ali a few times on the show. That
particular moment Sugar Ray put together, because we were talking one day,
and he said I know he is your idol, I know he is my idol. Let`s do this.
And Mike, we called Mike, and Mike said, I`ll be there.

SHARPTON: Wow.

HALL: And that was a wonderful thing for a kid from Cleveland to be
able to do. He is truly the greatest.

SHARPTON: There is a lot of people on late night TV, but nobody has
ever been you. You`re not worried about new day, new era finding a new
audience?

HALL: You know what? It`s very crowded. I understand that. But I
don`t think it`s so crowded that I can`t find an audience, because the more
people who don`t have a late night host than do have a late night host.
And, sir, I`ve prepared for every scenario. If I fail and I`m canceled on
Tuesday, I will tell America it was special.

SHARPTON: Arsenio Hall, thank you so much for joining us. And the
Arsenio Hall show debuts in late night nationwide this Monday. You got one
fan. I`ll be there.

HALL: Thank you, sir. I love when you say nationwide!

SHARPTON: Coming up, Advancing the Dream, live from the world famous
Apollo Theater. That`s, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: An hour from now, we`re celebrating progress in America.
Live from the legendary Apollo Theater in New York City, 50 years after Dr.
Martin Luther King`s dream speech, we`re looking at where we have been and
where we are going, moving forward didn`t come easily. So what about the
next 50 years? How do we advance the dream? We`ll talk to the trail
blazers, the symbols of hope and success, the sports legend who brought
magic to the business world, and to a worldwide cause, Irvin Magic Johnson,
the entertainment mogul who went from being homeless to the richest man in
Hollywood.

Tyler Perry, the musical genius who inspired the world, Stevie Wonder.
The political leader fighting to re-imagine our cities. And the little
girl from Alabama who walked the world stage as secretary of state. My
exclusive with Condoleezza Rice. It`s Ms. Rice as you have never heard her
before, talking about the 1963 Birmingham Church bombing. She lived
through it as a kid.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: My dad`s church was only
about two miles from 16th Street Baptist Church. So it was like the ground
shook. And for kids in Birmingham of my age, I was eight, it was, you know
how could people hate us so much?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: She also talked about the challenges of growing up under
Jim Crow, deep in the heart of the old south.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICE: You were always aware that you couldn`t go to a movie theater,
couldn`t go to a restaurant. I`ve said sometimes very often that my
parents couldn`t take me to have a hamburger at the Woolworth`s Lunch
Counter, but they had me absolutely convinced I could be president of the
United States if I wanted to be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: None of my guests tonight would have made it were it not
for Dr. King and the civil rights movement. It shows the progress we`ve
made and where we have to go. It`s a night to celebrate America`s promise
and look toward its future. We hope you can join us one hour from now,
8:00 p.m. Eastern. We`ll be live from the Apollo Theater.

And don`t forget, the only prerecorded interview was Condoleezza Rice.
The rest will be there with me live. And we`re going to talk about things
they never talked about as we figure out how we go 50 years forward. Live
from the Apollo tonight in one hour. 8:00 p.m. Eastern on MSNBC.

Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. We`ll see you in an hour.
"HARDBALL" starts right now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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