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PoliticsNation, Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

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Date: May 26, 2015
Guest: Linda McAnelly; Chris Bell; William Yoemans; Jeffrey Johnson, Shira
Center, Jamal Simmons, Allison Samuels, Mary C. Curtis

REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: You`ve been watching Senator Bernie Sanders
officially launching his presidential campaign, talking a lot about income
inequality. We`ll have more on this and what it means for Hillary Clinton

But we start with breaking news from a city at the center of the defining
civil rights issue of our time, the policing of America`s community. The
Cleveland police department today is submitting to some of the strongest
standards in the nation in a potentially historic agreement with the
justice department.


MAYOR FRANK JACKSON, CLEVELAND: Today, May 26, 2015 marks a new way of
policing in the city of Cleveland.

riding around in a convertible with tan. This is hard work stuff.

VANITA GUPTA, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: And today`s agreement really should
serve as a model for those seeking to address similar issues in their
communities around the country.


SHARPTON: The agreement puts in place an independent monitor to track the
department, civilian oversight of internal investigations and new rules
spelling out precisely when officers can use force and when they can`t.
The agreement follows a two-year justice department investigation that
began after a controversial police shooting left two people dead in 2012.
It involved 62 police vehicles chasing a car that had backfired because
police thought it was gunfire.

They eventually loaded 137 shots in that car. Officer Michael Brelo was
charged with manslaughter after he climbed on to the hood of the car. All
together he fired 49 times. This weekend the judge ruled it isn`t clear
the victims died from his specific gunshots and acquitted the officer for a
fourth straight day demonstrators took to the street protesting the ruling.


SHARPTON: Cleveland has also seen other high-profile cases, including the
deadly shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. Today`s announcement won`t
bring back those lives or right those wrongs, but it could help prevent
some of the worst abuses in the future.

Joining me now are Cleveland city councilman Jeffrey Johnson and William
Yoemnas who served as acting assistant attorney general for civil rights in
the justice department. Thank you both for being here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks for having me, Reverend Al.

SHARPTON: Councilman, let me go to you first. I`ll be in Cleveland this
Friday keynoting a real for the clergy and meeting with members of the
community. What is the mood in Cleveland right now?

emotions, Reverend Al. We`re looking forward to having you back in
Cleveland. You know, today`s decision of how the agreement was going to
finally be signed off by Mayor Jackson. You know, there were some concerns
about that. We`re very happy with what has come forth when it comes with
an agreement. But we`re still angry about what happened with the Officer
Brelo trial. We believe that at least that he would have been convicted
with felonious assault because it is hard for us to believe that he`d fear
for his life while he stood on the hood shooting 15 times into the
windshield. So we`re still angry and we are still in the streets about
that. And of course, Tamir Rice, Taneisha Anderson, those decisions of
whether the cops are going to be, you know, charged, we`re still waiting
out there.

So we are mindful of what happened today with the agreement but we know
that there are still cases pending right now that we have to fight for.

SHARPTON: One of the questions, Councilman, that was raised to me is if
the judge felt there was no evidence of where his shots went and that he
could have feared for his life, would someone jump on the hood of a car if
they thought the people in the car were shooting at them?

JOHNSON: Exactly. There was no way -- there was even evidence, I sat
through the trial, that the expert said what he did to jump on that hood
was just unacceptable police behavior. And it goes against, you know,
common sense to say that, I`m fearing for my life, yet I`m going to jump
within a couple of feet from you and then start shooting. It just didn`t
make sense.

The judge obviously wanted to exonerate this officer and found the way he
could do it but it didn`t make sense to us.

SHARPTON: Now William, what`s your response to this agreement? Let`s go
back to the agreement between Cleveland and the justice department. What`s
your response to the agreement?

it`s an extraordinary agreement. It`s extremely comprehensive. It`s 105
pages long and covers almost every aspect of policing, and it`s a very
ambitious agreement. It sets out to remake both the culture and the way
that the culture of the Cleveland police department and the way it operates
and establishes extraordinary procedures that will impose supervision and
accountability and retraining. And also goes out of its way to take I
think very positive steps to try to promote community involvement in
policing and in police decision-making. It establishes a citizens police
commission that I think is very positive. And, of course, it establishes a
monitor and it will be implemented under court supervision.

So it`s extremely important, but I hasten to add that it is only the first
step. This is going to be a long, long effort to implement this decree and
to make it work as it should, and it`s going to require a lot of
determination from the justice department to stay after its enforcement.
It`s going to require determination from the monitor. And it`s going to
require a court that really wants to see this through to the end. So it`s
a really positive start, but it`s a start.

SHARPTON: Councilman Johnson, the new use of force rules prohibit
officers, according to this settlement agreed upon today, it would prohibit
officers from striking suspects with guns, using force during verbal
arguments, using neck holds and using force without probable cause. How
important are these new rules, and why weren`t some of these, already in

JOHNSON: Well, they are critical because of the investigation by the
department of justice shows that that happened over hundreds of times. The
retaliatory reaction, when someone runs from an officer or they finally
catch him and how they retaliate. We felt that up until -- up until the
point that they should have known not to do that anyway.


JOHNSON: But with the department of justice, with the federal court, with
the monitor, we`ve got to break the culture. You know, the police union is
very powerful in Cleveland. And we`ve got to break the culture and make
them change, and one way is to make examples. You know, there is going to
be folks who are going to try this and we got to enforce it. And arbiter
that is going to enforce our rulings of getting rid of these people of
criminal behavior and convicting them.

SHARPTON: Now, William, Officer Michael Brelo was acquitted. But his case
is still being reviewed by the city review panel and the FBI, along with
the department of justice. What might come out of these reviews, William?

YEOMANS: Well, the department of justice will look at the trial and look
at the evidence that went in and decide whether there`s more investigation
that needs to be done. But it bears repeating that federal standard for
prosecution of criminal civil rights violations is a very high standard.
It is not insurmountable, but the government has a burden of showing that
Officer Brelo acted with a specific intent to use more force than was
reasonable necessary under the circumstances. It -- it`s possible that
that could happen. It`s not something that can be counted on.

SHARPTON: Now, Councilman, Tamir Rice, you mentioned, that`s the 12-year-
old that was shot with the toy gun seconds after police arrived. His
mother talked about how police didn`t even give her son first aid until
medically trained personnel arrived. Listen to this.


SAMARIA RICE, MOTHER OF TAMIR RICE: I noticed the police was just standing
around and wasn`t doing anything, and, again, I arrived at the same time
that the ambulance did so, again, I just noticed them. They wasn`t doing


SHARPTON: Now today`s agreement councilman states that quote "officers
will provide emergency first aid until professional medical care providers
are on scene." Does this speak to how the new rules are tailored to
Cleveland`s specific situations?

JOHNSON: Absolutely. You know, for us to be able to, first of all, see
this young man, this boy being killed by the officer and then for them to
stand around, it reflected a callousness. It reflected that -- an us
versus them, an occupying force mentality. And what we`re hoping with the
DOJ and with this consent decree that not only do we set the rules, but we
enforce the rules and we change the way police believe that their role
particularly the minority community and the city of Cleveland.

We have to have them to be more compassionate, more committed to every
citizen in Cleveland, not just a few.

SHARPTON: Well, I think you`re right when you say that now that the
enforcement and the process going forward is what is important as we still
see what will happen in the federal investigation on Brelo as well as the
Tamir Rice case. I must commend though the protests have been peaceful and
very, very passionate but not violent, and I`ll be there on Friday in that

Councilman Jeffrey Johnson and William Yeomans, thank you both for your
time tonight.

YEOMANS: Thank you.

JOHNSON: Thank you, Reverend Al. Appreciate it.

SHARPTON: Also today in Omaha thousands paid respects to a hero police
officer, a real hero, killed in the line of duty. Officer Carrie Orozco
was laid to rest after being gunned down last Wednesday, just hours before
she was supposed to start maternity leave. Her baby daughter was born
premature and spent three months in the hospital. Now, that baby girl,
along with her two siblings and father, face a future without their mom.

As we debate issues of policing in America, we must always remember the
dangers they face in the line of duty.

Coming up, we`re following historic flooding in Houston. Officials just
spoke on the search and recovery for at least 16 missing.

Also tonight, Bernie Sanders just officially launched his run for
president. So what does it mean for Hillary Clinton?

Plus, first lady Michelle Obama just gave another personal and powerful
graduation speech. Is something going on here? Does she have a political

And remember this classic photo of a kid face planting on a couch in the
oval office? Well, we have a new photo class take add tonight. Please
stay with us.


SHARPTON: Officials just spoke about the historic flooding in Houston,
Texas. Right now the search is on for at least 16 missing. Teenager
Alissa Ramirez was on the way back from her high school prom over the
weekend when she lost her life. Her car was swept away. She was the
homecoming queen. The school`s superintendent joins me to remember Alissa



with the families and the communities that have been affected by some of
these devastating record-breaking floods. I assured Governor Abbott that
he could count on the help of the federal government.


President Obama today pledging his support to the people of Texas where
catastrophic floods have brought cities like Houston to a complete stand
still. Fourteen people are dead across Oklahoma and Texas and at least 16
more are reported missing. Moments ago Houston`s mayor and the Texas
governor gave an update on the damage.


MAYOR ANNISSE PARKER, CLEVELAND: We have a thousand properties that we
visually inspected. We believe that there may be as many as 4,000 with
significant damage.

GOV. GREG ABBOT, TEXAS: I`ve seen hurricanes. I`ve seen tropical storm
Allison and I`ve seen this. This and tropical storm Allison were the worst
two flooding situations I`ve seen.


SHARPTON: Trucks and cars were left stranded, completely submerged under
water. In Houston hundreds of fans took refuge overnight in a basketball
arena after the Rockets/Warriors game, the driving on the way home
treacherous and concern we could see even more flooding with severe weather
expect throughout the week.

Joining me now is former congressman Chris Bell, a Houston resident who was
hit hard by the floods overnight.

Congressman, first of all, tell me what you saw last night.

CHRIS BELL, FORMER CONGRESSMAN, TEXAS: Well, it was a very long night,
Reverend. It started around midnight when we realized cars were on the
street and the water was coming up and very quickly and we needed to try to
move them but then realized that it was coming too fast and they couldn`t
be moved. And then just maybe 30, 45 minutes later the water was coming
into the house. We had to -- luckily we were able to move upstairs and put
some things out of the way of the water and hoping that it would subside
rather quickly but it didn`t, and we ended up -- the estimate today was
that we got somewhere around 10 inches in a very short period of time. We
got probably about three feet of water inside our house, and the cars that
I mentioned earlier were completely submerged all night long.

SHARPTON: How badly were your neighbors` homes hit?

BELL: Well, everybody, we live on a cold sack, there are about seven.
Several have been hit three times over the last few of years. So they
built their homes higher, others are still at basically at ground level.
But we`ve lived in the same home for five years and have never had a
problem. And interestingly, we just had a major drainage project in the
neighborhood and we thought that that would probably solve the problems,
but it didn`t. And some of the neighbors had had a more horrific
experience than we did. The people right across the street were fearful
that if they opened their front door they didn`t know what would happen, so
they ended up having to crawl out a window and get over to a neighbor`s
home that was a little bit higher up. So it was a very frightening evening
for everyone.

SHARPTON: Former Congressman Chris Bell, stay safe. Our prayers are with
you and with the people of Texas.

BELL: Thanks a lot, Reverend. We appreciate it.

SHARPTON: One of the victims in this flooding, a young woman who was
driving home from her program, 18-year-old Alissa Ramirez was killed just
two miles from home when floodwaters swept her car away. She was student
council president and had been crowned homecoming queen.

Joining me now on the phone is Linda McAnelly, superintendent for Divine
Independent Schools. She lived across the road from Alissa Ramirez.

Linda, first of all, thank you for being here tonight.

Yes, sir, thank you.

SHARPTON: And our condolences to you and certainly her family and all of
her friends.

Tell us what you can share about Alissa, the type of person she was.

MCANELLY: She was fabulous, sir. She was full of life, full of joy, loved
God, loved her friends, wonderful smile, great student, great athlete, just
the kind of student that any superintendent would want tons of them in his
or her school, just a fabulous young person.

SHARPTON: What kind of plans did Alissa have for the future, do you know?

MCANELLY: I do. She was actually going to attend University of Texas in
San Antonio. And I believe she was going into either ophthalmology or I
believe it was the field of ophthalmology.

SHARPTON: How is the community responding to the loss of this young woman?

MCANELLY: Well, we`re heartbroken. We share the parent`s grief. We loved
the Ramirez family. We loved Alissa. We loved her older sister Cynthia
who is a college student and her brother Daniel who is still in our school.
And we have wrapped our arms around them and we`re a community of faith and
we join together in prayers and in support and in love with them. There,
you know, just so many people reaching out to them in the small ways that
we can, but we hope that those are ways that show our expressions of love
for them.

SHARPTON: Linda McAnelly, certainly, again, thanks for sharing your
memories of Alissa Ramirez. We are praying for her family and friends.
Such a beautiful person it seems we`ve lost in this flood.

MCANELLY: Yes, sir.

SHARPTON: We`ll be right back.


SHARPTON: Hillary Clinton is suiting up for 2016. The former first lady
used to take a lot of heat from comedians about her ubiquitous pant suits,
but eventually she got in on the joke and delivered some of her best lines.


months, three debates, two opponents and six black pant suits later,
because of you, here we are.

In my White House we will know who wears the pant suits.

I`m just glad she didn`t do a movie called "the Devil Wears Pant Suits."

To my sisterhood of the traveling pant suits.


SHARPTON: When she joined twitter she even identified herself as pant suit
aficionado. Classic, classic. And now that Clinton`s 2016 campaign is
under way we`re seeing her embrace the pant suits like never before. Check
out what you can buy at the just revealed online Clinton campaign store.
It`s the everyday pant suit t-shirt. Looks just like Mrs. Clinton`s old
suits from back in the day.

There`s also a cup made from 100 percent shattered glass ceiling and a
needlepoint pillow that reads a woman`s place is in the White House.

But I`m not sure Senator Bernie Sanders is going to be one of her
customers. He just made it official. He`s running. So what does it mean
for Clinton? That`s next.


SHARPTON: It`s official. Moments ago independent Senator Bernie Sanders
kicked off his presidential campaign in his hometown of Burlington,


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: I am proud to announce my candidacy for
president of the United States of America.


Today with your support and the support of millions of people throughout
our country we begin a political revolution to transform our country
economically, politically, socially and environmentally.



SHARPTON: He`s the only other candidate officially challenging Clinton for
the democratic nomination. There`s no question his campaign is a long
shot, but one of the biggest possible effects of the Sanders race is
pulling Hillary to the left and already we`ve seen hints of that on the
campaign trail.


for those at the top. People are not getting a fair shake.

The 25 richest hedge fund managers make more together than all kindergarten
teachers in America. The deck is stacked for those at the top, and I am
running a campaign that`s very clearly stating we want to reshuffle that


SHARPTON: You could call it the Bernie effect. And we could be hearing a
lot more of it.

Joining me now from Burlington, Vermont, is MSNBC`s Steve Kornacki and also
with us the "Boston Globe`s" political editor Shira Center and democratic
strategist Jamal Simmons. Thank you for all being here.



SHARPTON: Steve, you were there for the announcement. What kind of
response did he get?

you say, it`s his hometown, so I guess not surprisingly a great response.
But it turns out here, was very impressive. Look, a beautiful day in
Burlington on the Waterfront. They had free Ben & Jerry`s ice cream, so
there was another reason for people to come out here but it was I`d say a
very impressive turnout and it speaks to what, you know, the Sanders people
will tell you. They think his biggest strength is, is the grassroots
energy that he creates, that he sorts of feeds off politically and you talk
the pressure he could maybe put on Hillary Clinton, well, you look at first
two states on the calendar in the democratic race.

You look at Iowa, you look at New Hampshire. Start with Iowa and, you
know, the Sanders message there, that`s sort of populist economic message.
Boy, I mean, if there`s a state tailor made for Iowa is right up there, you
know, at the top of that list. I mean, it`s a state, it`s a caucus, it`s
an activist-oriented electorate, it`s where Barack Obama broke through
first in 2008. So, there`s perhaps a ready audience for Sanders out there
and then where do you go after Iowa, you go to New Hampshire, it`s a next
door neighbor state for Bernie Sanders, a very similar state to Vermont so
he knows the voters in New Hampshire in a way. He knows how to reach them
so I think there`s a bit of potential there for him, at least early on in
those first two states to cause some headaches for Hillary Clinton.

SHARPTON: Now he`s raised a lot of money, and you have a piece out today
saying, don`t count Bernie Sanders out. What are the constituents there

KORNACKI: Well, I mean, what you hear -- you hear two things. First of
all, you can look at his sort of his literal message, income inequality,
wealth concentration, climate change, a lot of the things that he`s been
talking about his entire career. And again, I mean, to the extent that the
base is there on those issues, he`s got a chance of getting all those
voters but the other thing you hear, hear this, if you go to a bar or
restaurant here in Burlington, and I`ve heard it outside of Burlington,
too, there is an appeal to this sense of authenticity about this guy, that
there is no artifice with Bernie Sanders. This isn`t a packaged
politician, this isn`t a guy who takes focus groups and who polls

A guy who tells you what you think whether you like it or not, and I think
that there`s a potential there to connect with people who maybe aren`t with
Bernie Sanders on every issue on his check list, there`s a potential there
I think to reach voters who are just frustrated, who are just fed up, who
can`t understand why Washington doesn`t work these days, who don`t like the
paralysis and gridlock in Washington. I think they look at somebody like
Bernie Sanders and he`s just so different in his demeanor and how he
carries himself and how he speaks. He`s so different from every other
politician. I think there`s a potential.

SHARPTON: Jamal, let me push on that a little because there`s a lot of
talk recently about the Clinton speaking fees and personal wealth. The
Hill had this report recently that Bernie Sanders` 2014 speaking gigs
netted less than $2,000 and, quote, "financial disclosure reports show he
gave the money to a charity that helps low-income families in Vermont."
Does this help make the case that he`s more authentic, Jamal?

SIMMONS: You know, I don`t know that Bernie Sanders needs to make a case
that he`s more authentic. I mean, he is about as authentic as you get. I
mean, both from personal style to, again, as Steve just talked about, a
message that he`s had going for a long time as being the democratic
socialist in the Senate. He represents a very specific part of the left of
the Democratic Party, and he -- he`s going to represent them pretty
fiercely. I think the person who really he hurts in this campaign is not
really Hillary Clinton as much but it could be Martin O`Malley because
Martin O`Malley doesn`t get the chance to have a one-on-one contest with
Hillary Clinton. He`s sort of dividing up a little bit more of the left
more parts of the Democratic Party, so he doesn`t get that head-to-head.
So, this is Bernie Sanders` day, I love presidential announcement days.
Looks like he had a pretty good one.

SHARPTON: Shira, we`ve heard a lot about 2016 candidates and we heard a
lot of them talking about income inequality but today Bernie Sanders called
it the great moral issue of our time. I want to play this for you.


SANDERS: This grotesque level of inequality is immoral. It is bad
economics. It is unsustainable. This type of rigged economy is not what
America is supposed to be about. This has got to change, and as your
president together we are going to change it.


SHARPTON: Can Sanders make this a central issue in 2016, Shira?

CENTER: He already is making it a central issue in 2016 but he`s not
alone. I think it`s important to remember where a lot of this talk with
income inequality started. It started just southeast of New Hampshire in
Massachusetts with Elizabeth Warren. She`s the one who really started
banging this drum about income inequality in recent years, and although
she`s not running -- she said she has no plans and does not want to run for
president --

SHARPTON: But didn`t President Obama run twice on fairness? I don`t know
that it started with Elizabeth Warren?

CENTER: I think it started in earnest with Elizabeth Warren. No doubt he
emphasized this in his 2008 campaign and to a greater degree in his 2012
campaign, but really focusing on this issue, it`s increased. The drum beat
has only gotten louder in the last couple of years since Elizabeth Warren
started championing it.

SHARPTON: I guess that`s a Bostonian view.

Let me ask you this, Jamal. Senator Sanders has not been very critical of
Hillary Clinton, but in a new interview he was asked if Clinton can relate
to working people. Let me play that.


SANDERS: Theoretically you can be a multi-billionaire and in fact be very
concerned about the issues of working people, theoretically that`s true.
When you hustle money like that, you don`t sit in restaurants like this.
You sit in restaurants where you spend, I don`t know, hundreds of dollars
on difference, that`s the world that you`re accustomed to, and that`s the
world view that you adopt. I`m not going to condemn Hillary and bill
Clinton because they made a lot of money. That type of wealth can, you
know, has the potential to isolate you from the reality of the world.


SHARPTON: Jamal, how does Hillary Clinton get past that perception?

SIMMONS: Well, I think that history might prove that that`s not exactly
correct. I mean, the group you come from does not necessarily mean the
group you fight for and Hillary Clinton comes from more middle class
family, she has made a lot of money since then. But think about John F.
Kennedy, think about Franklin Delano Roosevelt. I mean, we`ve had
presidents in the past who come from wealth, who fought very hard for
people who are struggling to get into the middle class and those already
there to stay there. So I think that he might not get that one quite right
when it comes time for the electorate to engage.

SHARPTON: Let`s go around the horn. Steve, how much impact will Bernie
Sanders have?

KORNACKI: I think Bernie Sanders is most likely of any of the non-Hillary
candidates on the democratic side to give Hillary Clinton some fits in this
primary process.

SHARPTON: Shira, how much impact will he have?

CENTER: I think he could bring Hillary Clinton to the left. It`s possible
he places third or even second in Iowa and New Hampshire. I`m with Jamal.
I think the greatest impact he`ll have on the race is on Martin O`Malley
because there`s a bigger ideological difference between Bernie Sanders and
Hillary Clinton than there is between Hillary Clinton and Martin O`Malley.

SHARPTON: Jamal, the impact of Bernie Sanders?

SIMMONS: He divides up the opposition and keeps Hillary Clinton from
having to have a head-to-head contest and allows her to come through with
50, 55 percent of the vote or 48 percent of the vote and win all these
caucuses in primaries.

SHARPTON: Steve Kornacki, Shira Center and Jamal Simmons, thank you for
your time tonight.

SIMMONS: Thank you.

CENTER: Thanks.

SHARPTON: Make sure you watch Steve on UP weekends at 8:00 a.m. Eastern
right here on MSNBC.

Straight ahead, First Lady Michelle Obama gets personal again talking to
graduates. It`s becoming a trend. Is there a political future ahead for

And why this photo from inside the White House is going viral. Please stay
with us.


SHARPTON: Have you noticed First Lady Michelle Obama seems to be
everywhere lately. She recently released her workout routine as part of
her give me five challenge. She opened up about her life in the South Side
of Chicago as the Obama Foundation announced its library would go there.
She spent a day in Detroit congratulating high school kids who got into
college, and she found time to squeeze David Letterman in before his "Late
Show" finale. We`re seeing more and more of Michelle Obama but we`re also
hearing a very candid and personal side. Her speech to graduates at
Tuskegee University got a lot of attention.


MICHELLE OBAMA, U.S. FIRST LADY: The world won`t always see you in those
caps and gowns. They won`t know how hard you worked and how much you
sacrificed to make it to this day. My husband and I know how frustrating
that experience can be. We both felt the sting of those daily slights
throughout our entire lives, the folks who crossed the street in fear of
their safety, the clerks who kept a close eye on us in all those department
stores, the people at formal events who assumed we were the help and those
who have questioned our intelligence, our honesty, even our love of this


SHARPTON: And yesterday at Oberlin College in Ohio she spoke about the
critics that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Franklin Delano Roosevelt had
to face.


OBAMA: But these folks didn`t let the ugliness and these obstacles deter
them. They didn`t just give up and retreat to the comfortable company of
like-minded folks because they understood that this is how democracy
operates. It is loud and messy and it`s not particularly warm and fuzzy.
Believe me, I -- I know this from personal experience.


SHARPTON: And then she showed her passion for the issues that matter the
most to her.


OBAMA: You don`t get to be precious or cautious or cynical. Now, not when
the earth is warming and the oceans are rising. You don`t get to be
cynical, not when too many young people still languish in communities
ripped apart by violence and despair, not when women still make less than
men for the same work, not when millions of girls across the globe never
set foot inside a school.


SHARPTON: So is something going on here? Is the First Lady simply more
free to work on her legacy in the final years in the White House or is it
something else? Could Michelle Obama have a political future?

Joining me now is Allison Samuels, contributing writer for "Vanity Fair"
and author of "What Would Michelle Do?" And Mary C. Curtis, contributor
for The Root. She recently wrote about "Michelle Obama: The Candidate."
Thank you both for being here.



SHARPTON: Mary, the First Lady seems to be getting more personal lately.
What do you make of it?

CURTIS: Well, Michelle Obama is so many things. She`s the first lady of
the United States and lives in the White House, but she`s this very
relatable, authentic and down-to-earth person and she uses her own life as
an example when she talks about America and its history and all its
complexity, both the challenges of being a woman, African-American, and
also the opportunities that she has embraced and her family has embraced.
She`s all of these things, so when she tells the graduates rise above the
noise and shape the revolutions of your time, she certainly can inspire
them by using her own life as an example.

SHARPTON: Allison, you`ve written extensively about the First Lady. She
said something very interesting in her latest speech. Listen to this.


OBAMA: Follow what`s happening in your City Hall, your statehouse, in
Washington, D.C. Better yet run for office yourself. Get in there. Shake
things up. Don`t be afraid.


SHARPTON: Allison, is there a chance she will follow her own advice?

SAMUELS: No. I don`t think she will run for office, but I do think she
will be very, very active in the communities that mean so much to her, the
South Side of Chicago and all those areas where you have children, as she
mentioned, that are living in such violent communities that, you know, they
are afraid to go to school or they can`t complete their education. I think
she`s going to be grounds, hands on, on the ground trying to make people`s
lives better. Both she and Barack, that was something that was very
important to both of them before they got into the White House and I think
they will return to that once they leave the White House.

SHARPTON: Mary, this time last year the First Lady made it clear she had
no interest in running for office. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: When you and your husband, when you leave Washington,
let`s see, Malia will be college.

OBAMA: I know.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Sasha will be in high school.

OBAMA: Mm-hmm.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: There are many people that are wondering what`s your
next act? Will it be political?

OBAMA: No, it will not be political.


OBAMA: Yes, no. It definitely will not be. It will be -- it will be
mission-based. It will be service-focused. It will, you know -- but --



SHARPTON: She said definitely not, but I read you in "The Root" and you
don`t seem convinced. What do you think may change her mind or might have
changed her mind?

CURTIS: Well, I`m not giving her career advice and you do have to take
Michelle Obama, First Lady, at her word. At the same time as I say in this
story when I spoke with Professor Charles Ogletree of Harvard Law who
taught both of them. He said, well, Barack Obama is the second best
politician in the White House, and as I`ve covered politics people do
relate to her, even folks who may not agree with her politics. They feel
that she is someone who is authentic which you can`t fake. So, I say never
say never and we`ll see, certainly Hillary Clinton has shown a certain path
from first lady into politics but she is very involved with her missions of
military families and healthy eating and as Allison said showing young
folks the hope and the path to success and taking advantage of America`s
opportunities, so we`ll see what -- what happens. She told the young folks
at Oberlin to get out and run for office. And maybe it will be show, not
tell, but I just think we have to wait and see.

SHARPTON: You know, in your writings, Allison, you talk about the First
Lady is more open and candid and -- and very, very direct, and in my
experience it has been that and a very likable person. And, in fact, when
Mary brings up the Clinton, Hillary Clinton candidacy, a poll found
Michelle Obama would be Hillary Clinton`s strongest democratic rival if she
ran in 2016. If found in a hypothetical matchup Clinton would best Obama
56 to 22, but 22 percent led all others, so she`d be the strongest
candidate, Allison. Is that that authenticity, that openness about her
that attracts people?

SAMUELS: I think it`s all those things and I think that people, you know,
find her very sympathetic. They think she cares. They know she cares and
they know she`s a brilliant woman. I think that`s something she`s not been
able to use as much. She sort of held back at the beginning of the
presidency but now we`re seeing her come out and talk more and more about
who she is and what she has to offer and I think people even become even
more, you know, enamored and endearing to her because, you know, she really
is that woman who could run for office if she wanted to. I don`t think she
has the patience, I don`t think she has the tolerance to do it to run for
political office.

SHARPTON: Why do you think she`s coming out now more personal and making
more direct messages? What do you think the timing of now means?

SAMUELS: Because she has --

CURTIS: I think --

SHARPTON: Go ahead, Allison.

CURTIS: I`m sorry.

SAMUELS: I think she only has so many years, they have like, maybe about
three more years left. She can be who she is. There`s not a re-election
to worry about. Her husband has sort of weathered many of the storms. So,
I think she`s saying okay, it`s safe for me to be me. And I think, you
know, again brilliant to be able to hold back like she has over the couple
of years but now she`s able to sort of come out and say, this is what I
think, this is how I feel about issues.

SHARPTON: Mary, you were getting ready to answer the same question.

CURTIS: Yes. I think obviously polls show that she`s ahead but one of the
things that is an appeal is she`s an outsider. The minute you throw your
hat in the ring of course than people judge you more harshly. But I do
think it is about legacy and it is time to do that as they are leaving the
White house. And I was really struck how she`s so focused her message at
Tuskegee to these students who may be the first in their families to go to
college and at Oberlin, which a university, a college that accepted blacks,
minorities and women before many others did, and she talked about their own
legacy of service at Oberlin so she has very -- she is caring and she shows
that she does focus the message to the audience she`s speaking to, so she
can relate to them and they can relate to her.

SHARPTON: Well, it`s certainly fun to talk about, and we`re going to keep
talking about it. She`s a fascinating person, a fascinating American.
Allison Samuels, Mary C. Curtis, thank you both for your time tonight.

CURTIS: Thank you.

SAMUELS: Thank you.

SHARPTON: We`ll be right back with a shocking surge in violence in
Baltimore and the need to fix this now.


SHARPTON: If you`re at the White House, you`re probably on your best
behavior, but kids are kids. Remember this classic picture from inside the
Oval Office last year? The departing secret service agent was meeting with
President Obama and over on the couch you can see the kid is clearly not
impressed. Their son is face planting into that couch. This photo became
an instant classic. Now we have another one. Take a look had this scene.
Before a White House Passover celebration last month, down on the floor you
can see two-year-old Claudia laying face down on the carpet.

The President seems a little taken aback. The cute girl was in full-blown
tantrum mode. You got to love it. We asked our social media community to
caption this. Sondra wrote on Facebook, "Congress, you brought me to this
point." That`s a good one, Sondra. Neely tweeted, "All I said was the
Easter egg roll was last month." Stanley posted on Facebook, "what do you
mean you have not passed the Popsicle act?" I`m ready for that one,
Stanley. And Mark wrote on Facebook. "Okay. I see we have one vote from
the floor of the House." This is a photo Claudia will never forget. We
love hearing from you.

Check our Facebook page out and follow us @POLITICSNATION.


SHARPTON: Right now Baltimore is facing a crisis of bloodshed and
senseless violence, and it has to stop. Police say 29 people were shot,
nine killed this weekend alone. One of the victims a nine-year-old boy
shot in the leg. Thirty five people have been killed in the month of May.
It`s the deadliest month since 1999. There have been 108 homicides so far
this year.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It`s crazy out here, man. Like we can`t walk in our own
neighborhood without getting shot at. Like shootings in the morning.
Shootings at night. People really fear for their own life out here, man.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We cannot say that we love Baltimore, we love black
people and yet when we kill each other we`re quiet.


SHARPTON: The violence can`t continue, and if we all want change we must
be the change we want. We need to come together. After the unrest in the
wake of Freddie Gray`s death we saw a renewed commitment to peace and
progress. We have to see that same commitment now. Yes, we can find
passion and we should for change in policing, but we must see that change
also in how we relate one to another. We cannot call for change in
policing and not challenge the change we need on the ground in our own
communities with equal passion and equal vigilance.

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


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