updated 2/26/2014 10:37:21 AM ET 2014-02-26T15:37:21

POLITICS NATION
February 25, 2014

Guests: Karen Bass; George Takei, James Peterson, Michelle Cottle, Tracy
Martin


REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Ed. And thanks to you
for tuning. In I`m live tonight from Atlanta, Georgia.

Tonight`s lead, Dick Cheney and the GOP war on the poor. Right after the
Obama administration announced historic military cuts, Dick Cheney, of all
people, had the nerve to say this in an interview with FOX News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the whole
thing is not driven by any change in world circumstances. It`s driven by
budget considerations. Much rather spend the money on food stamps than he
would on a strong military or support for our troops.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: There is so much to say about that comment. Former vice
president Dick Cheney, who used the U.S. military as a political pawn, who
relied on bogus claims to sell two wars with disastrous results is
lecturing President Obama? And, again, listen to the words he chose,
focusing on food stamps.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHENEY: He`d much rather spend the money on food stamps than he would on a
strong military or support for our troops.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: President Obama cares more about food stamps than the troops.
First of all, shouldn`t Cheney`s record disqualify him from this debate?
And second, what`s wrong with food stamps? What`s wrong with helping
Americans in need feed their families?

This shouldn`t be a partisan issue. Maybe the vice president forgot that
the number of people receiving food stamps rose 63 percent in the Bush-
Cheney years, compared to a 48 percent increase under President Obama. But
this isn`t about facts. This is about demonizing the poor and launching
toxic attacks on the president. We`ve seen it for years.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH, CNN HOST, CROSSFIRE: Food stamps versus paychecks. Obama
is the best food stamp president in American history.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: When he says Obama is the food stamp
president, which by the way he is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No program in our government has surged out of control
more dramatically than food stamps. Lottery winners, multimillion-dollar
lottery winners are getting food stamps.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On economic policy, he`s doubled the number of people
on food stamps.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: In the oval office, none of this is
a problem. This is the objective. The objective is unemployment. The
objective is more food stamps benefits.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Vice president Cheney is now picking up that vile rhetoric.
It`s past time for some on the right to do what is right.

Joining me now are Congresswoman Karen Bass, Democrat from California and
MSNBC.com executive editor Richard Wolffe. Thanks to both of you for being
here.

REP. KAREN BASS (D), CALIFORNIA: Thanks for having us on.

RICHARD WOLFFE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, MSNBC.COM: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Congresswoman, let me go to you first. Dick Cheney going after
food stamps. Your response.

BASS: Well, Mr. Halliburton, a multibillion dollar and no bid contract
vice president has an awful lot of nerve talking about that. It`s really
kind of shameful. I mean, the fact of the matter is the reason why people
are on food stamps, especially now, is because it has been a long time
coming out of the recession. We know that unemployment still is very high.
And frankly, I believe if it wasn`t for the self-inflicted injuries that
this Congress has done to the economy, we should be roaring right now.
There should be plenty of jobs. But the cuts that have been imposed
because of the sequester and because of the Republican agenda contributes
to the fact that people need food stamps. You are talking about food
primarily to children, primarily to people are understood employed.

SHARPTON: And you know, I think Richard, the thing that is so striking to
me is the insensitivity.

BASS: Right.

SHARPTON: Of the citizens in America that need food stamps, like someone
wants to be on food stamps or use food stamps. And that food stamps is
some great profit to somebody. This month, President Obama talked about
the importance that food stamp is, the program, snap, what it is to
millions of Americans. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A large majority of SNAP
recipients are children or the elderly or Americans with disabilities. A
lot of others are hardworking Americans who need just a little help feeding
their families while they look for a job or they`re trying to find a better
one. And in 2012, the SNAP program kept nearly five million people,
including more than two million children out of poverty. Think about that,
five million people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Richard, five million people, two million children.

WOLFFE: Right.

SHARPTON: The elderly, some veterans. I mean, what is Cheney and his
allies talking about?

WOLFFE: Well, most importantly, working families. You know, the
conservative idea is that the people on food stamps are somehow sponging,
they`re unwilling to work. But Dick Cheney surely ought to remember that
his former boss George W. Bush ran has a compassionate conservative. And
that compassion back in 2000, which I`m sure he remembers well, was
actually about this very issue. It was about whether the house GOP was
right to seek budget cuts on the backs of the working poor as George W.
Bush, then Texas governor described them.

You know, if he paid attention to the budget debate right now, Dick Cheney
would know that food stamps have actually been cut in this latest budget
round. He would know that actually there is no real choice, there is no
simple choice for any president between military spending and this kind of
food stamp, this safety net aid. So he is wrong on to the politics. He is
wrong on the fax. And I`m afraid he has clearly forgotten who he ran for
president and vice president with.

SHARPTON: And as I said in the opening, food stamps increased under he and
President Bush to a larger percentage than they have under President Obama.
But I suppose congresswoman, what strikes me even more is not only the
policies against the poor, but the vile rhetoric.

BASS: Right.

SHARPTON: That we`ve seen, how they have had this ugly rhetoric to
denigrate the poor. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: We don`t want to turn
this safety net into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of
dependency and complacency.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: Self-reliance means if anyone will
not work, neither should he eat.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: We need to make sure our government
programs encourage work, not dependence.

GINGRICH: Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits
of working. And have nobody around them who works.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, the politics of denigrating the poor, the way that they
seem to use them as a way to try to play to some imaginary base or real
base, to me is just totally against what this country should be standing
for.

BASS: Well, I think so, absolutely. And we also know that it`s completely
based in ignorance. I mean, just like your other guests said, the majority
of people on food stamps are working people. They just do not make enough
money. So if you want to get people off food stamps, how about raising the
minimum wage? How about addressing income inequality? How about expanding
jobs? I mean, you know, the president put forward a jobs act a couple
years ago that has not been acted on in this Congress.

There are things that we could do to reduce the number of people that need
food stamps. But in the meantime, I mean, you know, someone said that if
you don`t work, you don`t eat. So if you know the majority of people using
food stamps, number one, are employed, and number two, are children, what
message is that actually sending? It is extremely mean-spirited, but
fundamentally, it`s ignorant.

SHARPTON: You know, Richard, the congresswoman talks about the minimum
wage. Today we learned more about how House Democrats are pressuring
Republicans on the minimum wage. Tomorrow, House Democrats will file a
petition on a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10. They need
218 signatures to bring the bill to a vote.

BASS: Right.

SHARPTON: Which means getting about two dozen Republicans to sign on. But
Senate Democrats said today that Republicans would likely filibuster a
minimum wage bill. So it might not get through. But Richard, what could
it mean politically?

WOLFFE: Well, I`m sure it won`t get through, not in this environment. But
it is an important debate to have about what opportunities there are for
working people. You know, if Democrats are going to just be talking about
the bottom of the safety net, then they haven`t got a great agenda of
opportunity, which they really want to talk about. That`s where the
minimum wage comes in, where if you ask people what do you think of fair
minimum wages, you would get numbers way ahead of where the current federal
minimum wage. That`s why retailers like the gap are making moves of their
own.

When the private sector is moving already, then the Republicans are saying
this isn`t actually about what the private sector wants or the idea that
it`s going to destroy jobs. This is really about ideology and what we
think people deserve. And that`s a strangely kind of value judgment
position for them to be taking what level working people should get as
opposed to the retail sector saying we can afford this, it`s OK.

SHARPTON: But Congresswoman, you know, today President Obama formally
ordered a complete withdrawal of military from Afghanistan by the end of
the year. It`s worth looking at a chart of military spending for 2012. On
the left are the combined cost of the top ten largest military budgets
after the United States. And America is larger than all of them combined.

BASS: Combined.

SHARPTON: So doesn`t it make sense to reduce the military budget as we
bring two wars to an end? If we`re bringing the military out of
Afghanistan, if we`re ending two wars, why would we need the same military
budget?

BASS: Well, absolutely right. And frankly, I hope that we take the
savings and invest it in our economy and in jobs, because just think about
it. When we end the war, we`re going to be bringing home tens of thousands
of young men and women. Where are they going to work? They need jobs.
You know that people in our military, some of the families, they actually
are recipients of food stamps. So not only it is time that we invest in
jobs, we also have to raise the minimum wage. We need to address income
inequality so that people don`t need food stamps. That`s the real way to
do it, versus a punitive approach which is what my colleagues on the other
side of the aisle have been doing. And it is driven completely by a
conservative ideology.

SHARPTON: Congresswoman KAREN bass and Richard Wolffe, thank you both for
your time tonight.

WOLFFE: Thanks, reverend.

BASS: Thanks for having us on.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, we`ll show you Ted Nugent`s new ugly comments about
the president, and reveal why he`s got plenty of company in the GOP.

Plus, the growing outrage over a plan to legalize discrimination in
Arizona. I`ll talk to actor and activist George Takei.

Also, a somber moment to reflect and reenergize. Tomorrow marks two years
since the death of Trayvon Martin. I`ll talk to his father, Tracy Martin
about Trayvon`s legacy, the Jordan Davis case, and the new fight against
stand your ground. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Coming up, it`s a bill that would legalize discrimination. The
pressure is ramping up in Arizona. And it looks like Governor Brewer will
veto it. But what is taking so long? And why are some lawmakers still
supporting this? Actor and gay rights activist George Takei has been a
leader in the fight. And today he posted this image on facebook, saying
we`ve already had this conversation. You don`t get the right to decide who
sits at a lunch counter. George joins us live, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Now to the Arizona bill that has the country outraged. It would
legalize discrimination, let businesses refuse to serve gay customers if
they cite their religious beliefs. Treat them like second class citizens.
So why in the world is taking it Governor Brewer so long to veto it? The
pressure is mounting from all sides. NBC News reports the governor is
likely to veto the bill, but she hasn`t committed to it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: When I received the bill, and I`m going to
read it and I`m going to be briefed on it. We have been following it, and
I will make my decision in the near future. I have until Friday or
Saturday morning to determine that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: What does the governor need to determine? Again, it would
legalize discrimination. There is a growing list against it. The Arizona
Super Bowl host committee businesses like Marriott, American Airlines, and
Apple, other business groups, tourism associations, even three Republican
state senators who voted for it.

Arizona Republican senator Jeff Flake tweeted yesterday, quote, saw
Governor Brewer in Washington tonight. Encouraged her personally to veto
the bill.

And here is Senator John McCain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: This is not the message we want to send. I
hope the governor will veto it and we will move on and advertise the great
beauty of our state.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So what was that Governor Brewer said?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BREWER: I have been following it, and I will make my decision in the near
future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: This bill would use religion to justify discrimination.
Governor brewer`s decision shouldn`t take this long.

Joining me now is actor and gay rights activist George Takei.

Thank you for being here, George.

GEORGE TAKEI, ACTOR, GAY RIGHTS ACTIVIST: It`s a pleasure being here.
Thank you very much for the invitation.

SHARPTON: George, you`re calling for a boycott of Arizona if the governor
doesn`t veto the bill. And today you posted this to your facebook page.
It reads, quote, "dear Arizona, in case you missed it, we`ve already had
this conversation. You don`t get to decide who sits at the lunch counter.
Love, America."

It`s gotten more than 254,000 likes and more than 116,000 shares. What`s
your reaction to this huge response to your post?

TAKEI: Well, you know, this is an eerie echo of what is happening in
Arizona today. Last week I was in Baltimore, working with the Baltimore
symphony, and I had a chance to visit the civil war museum. And there were
exhibits on slavery, the underground railroad, and the very same argument,
religious freedom, religion, was used to justify slavery back then by the
slave owners.

So, you know, this is a clear-cut situation. And the fact that the
governor who found out about this both houses of the Arizona legislature
passing it last Thursday is taking this long, indecisiveness is just
appalling. It`s repugnant. It`s very clear, black and white. This is a
bigotry bill masked under religious freedom. Our religious freedom, all of
our religious freedom is well protected by the first amendment. And gays
and lesbians in the military are defending that right. And these wacko
extremist legislators in Arizona are either blind or deaf. They`ve been
told that this is not constitutional and yet they passed it. And now,
three have changed their mind. And they`re saying that we never heard
about discrimination. Well, the Democrats very clearly articulated the
discriminatory aspect of this bill. So why it`s taking this long is also
very revealing.

SHARPTON: And I think it`s important to say it, and I`m a big proponent of
this, that discrimination and bigotry of any kind is wrong. And they
usually use the same justification. And rather than people comparing how
they were discriminated against, we`ve got to go and you have to go
passionately against all discrimination. You know, and this isn`t just
about Arizona.

TAKEI: That`s right.

SHARPTON: Similar religious freedom bills are pending in Georgia where I
am tonight. .

TAKEI: That`s right.

SHARPTON: Utah and Mississippi. And others either were withdrawn or
failed in Kansas, Tennessee, Idaho, and South Dakota. If Governor Brewer
vetoes though bill, would it send a message beyond Arizona?

TAKEI: It`s got to send the message. It`s very clear. And first of all,
unconstitutional. And just yesterday, Attorney General Eric Holder stated
that -- state attorneys general should examine every law that is passed by
the legislature. And if they deemed that they are unconstitutional, they
don`t have to defend it.

So, you know, all state legislatures should stand apprised of this fact.
The attorney general of the United States will ask all the attorneys
general of the states to not defend laws that they deem to be
unconstitutional.

SHARPTON: George Takei, thank you for being here tonight.

TAKEI: Thank you very much.

SHARPTON: Coming up, Ted Nugent is now calling President Obama a liar.
But the GOP has even bigger rebranding issues today.

Plus Joe Biden made some news on "the view today." He was asked about 2016
and Hillary Clinton. You`ll want to hear this.

And First lady Michelle Obama`s childhood obesity campaign celebrates a big
milestone. And she is rapping about it. Stay with us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Yet hype for healthy
snacks, fresh food, we love it. Pretty good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Is Joe Biden running for president? He was on "the View" today
and was asked if he would run if Hillary Clinton runs. Here is what he
said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have said that if she runs for president, you
will not run.

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I haven`t.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then tell me what you have said.

BIDEN: The only reason to run for the president of the United States, if
you truly believe you`re better positioned to do what you think is most
needed in the country. I think my knowledge of foreign policy, my
engagement with world leaders, my experience is uniquely positions me to
follow through on the agenda Barack and I have of bringing up world peace
in a way that is real and substantive. I also think the middle class is
the single focus, what we should be looking at and how to grow it. So
whether she runs or not will not affect my decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That was not a no. This could get very interesting. To be
continued.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The GOP`s Ted Nugent problem isn`t going away. Just days after
offering a backhanded apology for calling the president a subhuman mongrel,
Nugent tried once again to show some remorse for his poor choice of words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TED NUGENT, ROCK MUSICIAN: Ted Nugent, remember the Alamo, February
24th, 2014. I`m not going to call people names anymore.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I`m not going to call people names. Hallelujah! Except
he went on to say this in the very same interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NUGENT: Instead of using terms like subhuman mongrel, I`m going to
get right to the meat of the matter where our President is a liar. I think
the President is intentionally disassembling the greatest quality of life
in the history of the world. I believe that he is creating class warfare
intentionally. This President`s fundamental transformation of this country
is indeed the destruction of the American dream. The President`s a bad
man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It would be easy to dismiss Ted Nugent if we didn`t find
so many other GOP politicians and candidates using the same kind of
language. For example, a Senate candidate in Texas recently referred to
the President as a, quote, "socialist son of a b." He also claimed
ranchers should be allowed to shoot anyone illegally crossing the border.
And referred to such people as wetbacks. So much for the Republicans
trying to reach out to minorities. But at least no GOP lawmakers offended
women this week, right?

Wrong. A Virginia lawmaker wrote in a Facebook post that a pregnant
woman is just a host, though some refer to them as mothers. So pregnant
women aren`t mothers. They`re just host. This extremist talk is coming
from actual elected officials and candidates in the GOP. So it doesn`t
matter if Ted Nugent has this to say --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NUGENT: I`m not going to call people names anymore.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: There is plenty of name-calling going around in the GOP
with or without Mr. Nugent.

Joining me now are Michelle Cottle and James Peterson. Thank you
both for coming on the show tonight.

MICHELLE COTTLE, THE DAILY CALLER: Thanks, Reverend.

JAMES PETERSON, LEHIGH UNIVERSITY: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: James, Ted Nugent is one thing. But aren`t there plenty of
right wing politicians whose views are nearly as extreme?

PETERSON: Absolutely, Rev. We`ve seen the e-mails from certain
Congress people circulated about this president. We`ve seen Joe Wilson in
a State of the Union Address refer to this president as a liar or say that
he lies. We`ve seen this kind of rhetoric coming from multiple people
there. But the reality is, Rev, is that the policies match the rhetoric.
And so, you know, you can`t talk about a mongrel and say that`s it not
about race. By definition, calling someone a mongrel is about a racial
epithet.

But when you look at the sort of terms of reference a host to a woman
who is pregnant, that sort of speaks to the policies that Republicans favor
in terms of women. When you look at the Congress person who called or
referred to Latino immigrants as wetbacks, that reflects the kind of
policies that they want to have represent to immigration. And when you
look at terms like mongrel, that reflects the ways in which this Congress
has obstructed this President since the inception of his presidency.

SHARPTON: You know, Michelle, you recently wrote about this, about
the GOP`s connection with Ted Nugent. I`m quoting your article. It is
about courting and stoking the absolute ugliest most paranoid elements of
the GOP coalition. People who find it quaint when Nugent starts raving
about how black people are lazy or how disgusting he finds gays. Why
appeal to this base? Doesn`t it hurt candidates seeking a wider
constituency, Michelle?

COTTLE: Well, look, what you have -- when you wind up with Greg
Abbott, you know, taking Ted Nugent to his events, he is trying to appeal
and kind of show his street creed to the kind of most extreme elements of
the base in Texas. So you have a party where in certain quarters they have
courted and kind of gotten their energy from people who this president
makes completely crazy. And you get all of that grassroots energy. But
then you kind of have to become imprisoned by it and you have to kind of
roll with it. And so you have to try out Ted Nugent, and despite all of
kind of his long history of just outrageous statements, you know, people
love it when he gets up there and starts peddling his very peculiar ugly
breed of white grievance politics.

SHARPTON: Now, James, the Republican Party has attracted it seems a
whole fresh new batch of far right candidates for Senate in 2014. In
Mississippi, their Senate candidate attended a neo confederate rally. In
Colorado, Senate hopeful Ken Buck, who already had trouble with women
voters compared pregnancy to cancer. And in Georgia right here, three of
the Senate candidates said they would support President Obama`s
impeachment. So it seems like a whole new crop is coming in this year.

PETERSON: It is, Reverend. What it reflects is the sort of modern
bifurcation of the Republican Party. As Michelle is saying, there is
political strategy here. They`re trying to sort of appeal to the "Duck
Dynasty" demographic. And in doing so, sort of try to work through the
primary system, especially at the local, municipal, and state levels for
Republican politics. But then they have to also face the federal and
national levels. And that`s where they run into problems.

So while they can speak to specific loud vocal minority constituents
through some of this racialized and deplorable rhetoric, they ultimately
have to sort of reconcile that what the challenges are at broader more
national levels. And that`s why the Republican Party is shrinking and why
it will be more difficult for them to win elections at both the state and
national levels.

SHARPTON: Now, you know, Michelle, the view of the Republican Party
has turned extremely negative. Fifty one percent view the party
negatively. Only 26 percent view it positively. So politically, this is
devastating for them.

COTTLE: If you`re talking about it remaining a national viable party,
this is a terrible plan. You know, if you`re looking at it from individual
Congressional districts or if you want it to be kind of a very
ideologically pure regional party, and maybe that`s what they`re aiming
for. But you do run into this problem where what plays in Texas doesn`t
necessarily play elsewhere. And they haven`t quite figured out what to do
about that.

SHARPTON: It doesn`t even play all over Texas. You know, quickly,
James, a FOX host seemed to even blame Lincoln for starting the civil war.
Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: At the time that he was the president of the
United States, slavery was dying a natural death all over the western
world. Instead of allowing it to die or helping it to die, or even
purchasing the slaves and then freeing them, which would have cost a lot
less money than the civil war cost, Lincoln set about on the most murderous
war in American history.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That is something --

PETERSON: Disgusting, Rev.

SHARPTON: -- that amazes me. I don`t even know how you comment.

PETERSON: It`s disgusting. Rev, that`s disgusting. I think we can
agree together that`s just -- it`s disgusting. And here is the thing.
Again, there are Republican strategists who believe that at the state level
and through gerrymandered Congressional districts that can play to a
certain ideological base and win those elections.

SHARPTON: Yes.

PETERSON: And that may work regionally. But there is no long-term
national sort of impact with that. And in fact, when you look at the
trends nationally, that kind of ideology is not going to be stomached by
the American voting public.

SHARPTON: Nor will it stand up to the truth. Michelle Cottle and
James Peterson --

PETERSON: How about that.

SHARPTON: Thank you both for your time this evening.

COTTLE: Thanks.

PETERSON: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Coming up, the legacy of Trayvon Martin. He was killed two
years ago tomorrow. But the fight against Stand your Ground continues.
I`ll talk to Trayvon`s father, Tracy Martin, about the loss of his son, how
he is doing now, and where we go from here. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Tomorrow night marks a tragic and somber date. Two years
since the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. In the early evening of
February 26th, 2012, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was walking home in the
rain. He had just come from a 7-11 to buy some iced tea and skittles, but
he never made it home. Instead he was shot dead, killed by a single bullet
after an altercation with a neighborhood watch volunteer who thought
Trayvon looked, quote, "suspicious."

Two years ago, few Americans had ever heard of Stand your Ground.
But now it`s a national issue. It`s become a central topic in the fight
for fairness in our criminal justice system. And Trayvon has become a
symbol. Trayvon`s death and the acquittal of his killer sparked a national
conversation about race and self-defense. Stars like Stevie Wonder, Jamie
Foxx and Oprah Winfrey were moved to speak out against Stand your Ground.
The country`s top law enforcement officials, Attorney General Eric Holder
denounced the law. And President Obama himself addressed the controversy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: You know, when Trayvon Martin
was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of
saying that is that Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. It`s
important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at
this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn`t go away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: No, it doesn`t go away. The debate rages on, re-ignited
by the shooting death of Jordan Davis, another 17-year-old taken from us
too soon. The death of Trayvon Martin has become a political and moral
challenge for America. But for Trayvon`s family, it will always be a
personal tragedy.

Joining me now is Tracy Martin, Trayvon`s father. Thank you for
being here tonight, Tracy.

TRACY MARTIN, TRAYVON MARTIN`S FATHER: Thank you for having me, Rev.

SHARPTON: You know, tomorrow marks two years since the death of your
son. And so much has happened since then. First of all, how are you and
the family holding up?

MARTIN: We`re doing good. We`re holding up. You know, we just
continue to look to the law for answers. We continue to lean on the law.
We continue to pray. We`re doing good as a family. We`re doing good
overall.

SHARPTON: You and Trayvon`s mother, Sybrina, have both testified
before Congress. You`ve created the Trayvon Martin Foundation, have worked
with various groups and rallied around legislation with all kinds of
people, including me. Has this helped you through your grief?

MARTIN: It has helped. But I think that the grieving process is
something that only time will heal. When you lose a child the way that we
did unexpectedly, it`s hard to put it in the past. I don`t think you`ll
ever put it in the past. It`s been 729 long days without Trayvon. And we
miss him. And just to say that, you know, that we`re over -- that we have
come to the healing process, I think that`s an understatement. He meant so
much to us, I just don`t feel as though, you know, we`ll come to that
grieving process will be over any time soon.

SHARPTON: A new bill in the Florida legislature would revise
neighborhood watch guidelines and revise stand your ground rules. Two
years later, are you still confident we`ll fix stand your ground, Tracy?

MARTIN: Well, we`re hopeful. We`re very hopeful. We`re trying to
get the Trayvon Martin bill passed, amendment passed which says that you
can`t pursue a person, start a confrontation, pick a fight, whatever you
want to do, shoot and kill a person, no one around is watching and then say
you were standing your ground. It`s a bad law. The law affects us as our
community. And it needs to be changed.

SHARPTON: You know, what did you think when you heard that Michael
Dunn`s jury had reached a mistrial in the shooting death of Jordan Davis?

MARTIN: First of all, Rev, my heart goes out to brother Ron Davis.
Me and Ron have grown close over this past year and a half. And I just,
you know, sympathize with them. Because any time, you know, we`re in
America, and this is a free country. But any time you find a jury that
says, we`re going to convict this individual for shooting at someone,
attempting to kill someone, and you don`t convict the individual for
killing the person, it`s something wrong with the system, Rev.

SHARPTON: You know, I spoke with Ron Davis, Jordan Davis` father on
Friday. And he talked about how that case was more than just about his own
son. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RON DAVIS, FATHER OF JORDAN DAVIS: He killed a good kid. He killed
a child. He killed a 17-year-old that will always, forever remain 17. I
want to try to change his mind to understand that he didn`t just shoot some
animal on the street. He shot my son. He shot everybody`s son. He shot
America`s son. These 17-year-olds, they have a life to live. And for him
to snuff it out just because of loud music is a tragedy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I know you feel the same way about Trayvon and his legacy.

MARTIN: Man, I agree with Ron Davis 110 percent. And whatever
efforts that Ron Davis is putting out, whatever he is doing to try to
change the way people think, the way people act, I`m with them 110 percent
as well as the Kendrick Johnson family. You know, this --

SHARPTON: That`s the case in Valdosta, Georgia.

MARTIN: Yes. Yes. And it`s an epidemic. It seems like it`s an
epidemic where, you know, the value of African-American kids` lives really
don`t mean anything. We got to stand up as fathers. We`ve got to stand up
as leaders and let this country know it`s not OK to kill our kids and just,
you know, give a little slap on the hand and you walk away. It`s not OK.

SHARPTON: You know, I`ve always been struck, and I`ve said it since
day one when you and I met before Trayvon`s name had gotten all the
national currency. I`ve always been struck by how you and how Sybrina and
the family always insisted on every gathering, every rally be peaceful and
dignified, despite the disappointments and despite the pain. And I know
all of us are dealing with the Stand your Ground laws in Tallahassee in
March, March 10th. And you have always maintained in public that level of
dignity and insist that all of the rally and all of the speakers respect
that dignity. How do you want Trayvon to be remembered? And what do you
want his legacy to be?

MARTIN: We want him to be remembered as the person he was. He was a
bright, brilliant, charisma, you know, he had it all, man. He was a game-
changer. You know, he was a challenge-seeker, he was a problem-solver,
man. He was a good kid. And just to have his life taken away from him
like that, it`s just, you know, it hurts today like it did 729 days ago,
man. And it`s sad to say that, you know, I feel as though this country
actually value guns more than they do our children`s lives. And, you know,
that`s sad. But as far as being peaceful, man, we just continue to be, you
know, God say, you know, Trayvon, I really don`t think that -- Trayvon can
rest unless we continue to be peaceful.

SHARPTON: Tracy Martin and certainly to you and to Sybrina, the whole
family and all of those that continue to fight with you, Ben Crump and
all, we continue to fight for what is right in this country for everyone.
My condolences again as you face this anniversary tomorrow. And we`ll
continue to fight to honor Trayvon`s memory.

MARTIN: Thank you, Rev. I`m looking forward to seeing you on the
10th.

SHARPTON: We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Some big news from President Obama just moments ago. He
announced that four million Americans have signed up for insurance through
the health care exchanges. Four million. ObamaCare is gaining steam. And
with five weeks left in the enrollment period, there is plenty of time for
more people to get covered.

Also today, First Lady Michelle Obama is celebrating the fourth
anniversary of the Let`s Move Campaign to fight childhood obesity. She
announced new guidelines for schools to help promote healthy lifestyles for
kids. Including restrictions on advertising for junk food at schools.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, U.S. FIRST LADY: The fact is today the average child
watches thousands of food advertisements each year. And 86 percent of
these ads are for products loaded with sugar, fat, or salt. By contrast,
our kids see an average of just one ad a week for healthy products like
water, fruits, and vegetables.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And Mrs. Obama highlighted her high school class in
Virginia that even wrote a little rap song.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA: If I`m going to help my brain come to fruition, I`m
going to have to feed it quality nutrition. We love the cookies but
they`re not sufficient. We need veggies to make our bodies efficient.
Roll my chicken in a wrap don`t jam it in a nugget, get hype for healthy
snacks, fresh food, we love it. Pretty good. Holla!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Everyone should get behind this. But sadly, this is what
we`ve seen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: They`re taking the nanny state to a new
level, Michelle Obama is suggesting what you should feed your children.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: This is Michelle. She knows
better than anybody else about healthy foods, because she has a garden.
Big whoop.

TUCKER CARLSON, THE DAILY CALLER: Why would you want to raise your
own kids when Michelle Obama will do it for you? In fact, she`ll do it at
gunpoint.

LIMBAUGH: Nutritionist at large Michelle Obama is urging, demanding,
advocating, requiring what everybody can and can`t eat. She is demanding
that everybody basically eat cardboard and tofu.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But guess what? It`s working. Today a study shows the
obesity rate for young children dropped 43 percent in the last decade.
There is still work to do, but that`s great news. So happy anniversary,
happy fourth anniversary to "Let`s Move." I raise my glass of water to
four more years.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Fifty years ago tonight, a young man from Louisville became
the champion of the world. Cassius Clay was just 22-years-old when he
faced off against the champ, Sonny Liston. Nobody had seen anything like
him before. His critics called him the Louisville lip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You know how great I am. I don`t have to tell you
about my strategy. Tell him. What are we going to do?

MUHAMMAD ALI, FORMER PROFESSIONAL BOXER: You`re going float like a
butterfly and sting like a bee. Rumble your man, rumble.

Ah. That`s what we`re going to do. You heard it. That`s my trainer.
He`ll tell you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Rumble, young man, rumble. Nobody gave Cassius Clay much
of a chance. But he was confident that he would shock the world. Clay
knocked out Liston in six rounds. Becoming the youngest ever win the
heavy-weight title. Just a few days later, he stunned the country again by
changing his name to Muhammad Ali.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALI: Muhammad means worthy of all praises. And Ali means most high.
I want to be called by that name. I want to write autographs by that name.
I want to be known all over the world by that name.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Muhammad Ali became a powerful voice for change, speaking
out on civil rights and refusing to fight in what he said was an unjust war
in Vietnam.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALI: My conscience won`t let me go shoot my brother, some darker
people, some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America. And
shoot them for, what? They never lynched me, they didn`t put no dogs on
me, didn`t rob me of my nationality. How can I shoot them poor people?
Just take me to jail.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The one and only Muhammad Ali. His road to becoming the
greatest began on this night back in 1964 when he became the champ for the
very first time. I`ve gotten to know Ali down through the years. He has
been a champ that never diminished from being what he was out of the ring
and in the ring. We`ve had other heavyweight champions down through the
years since Muhammad Ali, but we`ve never had another Muhammad Ali. And
we`ve never had anyone take his crown as the greatest. Not only that put
on gloves, but that stood up for things bigger than himself.

Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.

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