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PoliticsNation, Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

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Date: July 7, 2015
Guest: Arne Duncan; Dana Milbank; Clarence Page, Janet Murguia, Shira
Center, Tara Dowdell

REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on "Politics Nation," the GOP pushed
to dump Trump. Party elites are running scared and trying to keep the
Donald out of debates.

Also the Bernie effect. Hillary Clinton speaks out about her primary fight
with senator Sanders.

And breaking news on a GOP attempt to delay or even derail a vote on the
confederate flag. We`ll go live to South Carolina.

Welcome to "Politics Nation."

We begin tonight with a scramble inside the Republican Party to knock out
Donald Trump as the firestorm over his Mexican immigrants comment rages.
And threatens the entire Republican brand. It comes as another
organization cut ties with Trump.

The PGA saying today it will not hold this year`s grand slam of golf
tournament on a Trump course. At least nine companies have now backed away
from Trump. Today, we`re learning just how worried party leaders and big
donors are.

Conservative newspapers saying Republicans are trying to disarm suicide
bomber Trump. A Republican operative saying Trump was acting like a,
quote, "suicide bomber." A GOP donor telling the "Associated Press,"
someone in the party ought to start some sort of petition saying if Trump`s
going to be on the debate stage, I`m not going to be on there with him.
Another donor sent a letter to 16 White House prospects and their RNC and
they sent it last week calling on candidates to say on the, quote,
"civility reservation stay there." All of this as more Republican
candidates are speaking out against Trump and it`s getting louder.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you embarrassed by having Trump as a Republican?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I`m not embarrassed. I just think everybody`s got
to speak up. You have people in the party that say things sometimes that
are against what I think the party stands for. So it`s incumbent upon the
rest of us to say, hey, no, that`s not the Republican Party that I want.


SHARPTON: But despite all of this, he`s sticking by everything he said.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have any regrets at all over the comments you
made at all with the fallout?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, I just issued a statement
today which I imagine you saw and no, not at all. We have to stop illegal
immigration into this country. It`s killing our country.


SHARPTON: The first Republican debate is 30 days away. Something tells me
a lot will happen in those 30 days.

Let`s bring in Clarence Page and Dana Milbank. Thank you both for being



SHARPTON: Clarence, donors want Trump out. Where do you see this going?
I mean, could you see a boycott?

PAGE: Well, I don`t think it`s going to get very far, frankly. They`re
kind of in a big dilemma right now. On the one hand they don`t like the
embarrassment that Trump is bringing. And he is offending minorities at a
time when the party`s trying to reach out to moderates and to nonwhites.
But at the same time, he is drawing attention to the debates. He`s drawing
attention to the race. And as one of the Republican consultants said -- I
thought that was very wise -- it`s not wise to tangle with Trump. It`s
like wrestling with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig enjoys it.

SHARPTON: Well, isn`t part of the fear that he may say something explosive
or say something directly offensive or insulting to people up there? It is
Not only the comments he`s made but to call him a suicide bomber, Dana, is
like he may get on the stage and say or do anything and no one can predict

MILBANK: Well, Reverend, it`s a virtual certainty that he will. It`s not
just a possibility. That`s his whole M.O. That`s what he is about. I
mean, I don`t think suicide bomber is quite right because this is working
quite well for Donald Trump. In fact, you know, he was all about getting
President Obama`s birth certificate.

I think we should see Donald Trump`s long form voter registration card.
Because the way he`s acting, you would think that he`s a secret agent of
the Hillary Clinton campaign to make the Republican Party look ridiculous.
And he`s doing an admirably good job at that. They have no way really to
get him off the stage except going back on the rules that they created.

He is brilliantly playing the system that the Republicans created, not to
the advantage of the Republican Party, to the advantage of Donald Trump and
his ego.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you this. You`re there in Washington and you have a
lot of contacts. All of the companies that are dropping almost one a day.
Today I talked about the PGA dropping. What are you hearing from the RNC?
How are they dealing with this? What`s the word in D.C., Dana?

MILBANK: Well, look, there`s nothing that the RNC can do about it. You
know, think about all these donors who are very angry at this and asking
the other candidates to mount a boycott. Well, first of all, Donald Trump
doesn`t care what the Republican donors are doing or saying. He`s got all
the money he needs to run his campaign. And the problem is when you have
15 or whatever candidates in the field, you can`t create some sort of joint
action there. So already you have Ted Cruz saying, look, I`m not going to
get in the way of what Donald Trump`s doing. So if Chris Christie`s going
to get off the stage or Jeb Bush, that`s just going to give more air time
to Donald Trump and to Ted Cruz.

So, you know, yes, the party donors are, you know, pulling their hair out
here, but what can they do? This is sort of a monster they created by
creating the system.

SHARPTON: Now, Clarence, one Republican who hasn`t said a lot about Trump
so far is Marco Rubio. He was asked about him today. Now, watch this.


problem is border security is a very legitimate issue. Illegal immigration
is a very serious issue. What`s happened now is he`s made some other
comments that are less responsible, and those comments are now what
everyone`s focused on, you know. I think the bottom line is the issue of -
- and so we`re let off the hook all of these people that don`t want to have
a debate about illegal immigration. They want to focus on Trump`s comments
about, you know, Mexicans.


SHARPTON: He seems a little uncomfortable, doesn`t he, Clarence?

PAGE: Well, he`s been wrestling with this issue since he got into the
Senate, and I feel sorry for Marco Rubio. I mean, he tried to come up with
a comprehensive immigration reform package that would please everybody and
failed. And now, he`s trying to run for president and try to persuade the
Republican base that he`s a true conservative, a true Republican blah,
blah, blah, and he now has to try to bridge this gap between Trump and
sensible people. Not easy to do, but you know, I think he ought to just
hang in there.

Frankly, everybody knows that Trump -- he got 11 percent in the latest poll
I saw. That`s among Republicans. He got more than twice that among
Republicans who disapprove of him. So I don`t think Trump`s got any

SHARPTON: Now, Dana, let`s go to the other side. Hillary Clinton. She
was asked about Trump today. Let me play that to you.


those comments. And I feel very bad and very disappointed with him and
with the Republican Party for not responding immediately and saying enough,
stop it.


SHARPTON: Your reaction to Ms. Clinton, Dana?

MILBANK: Well, you know, this is very disappointed with him and the
Republican Party. So she`s not concealing at all what she`s doing there
which is tying him to the party, which is quite easy to do because when you
think about it, what has he done here? The reason he`s catching fire --
and of course, you know, Clarence is right, he doesn`t have a whole lot of
traction. But in this field even 11 percent is something.

But, you know, he`s looked at the polls. He knows where the Republican
primary voters are. And he knows that if you just hit that button really
hard on illegal immigrants, even if you sound really ugly about it doing
it, you`re going to generate some reaction. And you`re going to generate
some publicity. And that`s going to get you on the debate stage. And
that`s clearly what he`s going for.

SHARPTON: Now, going back to the polls you mentioned, Clarence, and going
on the debate stage, the rules are, that they have agreed to, you have to
be above 10 percent to be in the debate. Now, one reason that that`s a
problem for some is some high profile people will then not qualify to be on
that stage. One of them, Lindsey Graham, had this to say.


debate is to have a national polling number, number one, Brad Pitt would be
in the debate because it`s just a name we know.


SHARPTON: Clarence?

PAGE: Name recognition counts. That`s why I`ve been predicting since 2012
that the general election ballot is going to be Bush versus Clinton because
that`s just what name recognition gets you these days. And I think this is
something that FOX News and other any broadcasters who want to carry the
debates have to wrestle with, having ten people on the stage, which is like
what is going to happen for this first debate. It`s still a lot of people.
And the party is still trying to reduce that circus image that they had
from four years ago. It`s going to be a challenge.

SHARPTON: Dana, bottom line. Will Trump be on that stage for the first

MILBANK: God, I sure hope so, Reverend. I don`t see how they keep him
off. And part of that is because FOX News` interest is in having a big
show and a big blowout fight and not necessarily the same interests that
the Republican Party has. They have no interest in making the Republican
Party look good. So I see that he probably does get there unless something
further untoward happens before then.

SHARPTON: You say you hope so. So do most of the leadership of the
Democratic Party.

Clarence Page and Dana Milbank, thank you both for your time tonight.

MILBANK: Thanks, Reverend.

PAGE: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Breaking news in South Carolina. Just out of South Carolina, a
new Republican plan to derail a vote to take down the confederate flag.
We`re live in South Carolina.

Also, new tonight, Hillary Clinton just addressed the so-called Bernie
Sanders surge. Her response to his growing momentum.

Plus, New Jersey lawmakers are pushing Governor Christie to resign. We`ll
tell you why it`s in tonight`s gotcha.

And also, what did the first lady say right before President Obama`s
amazing grace moment. Stay with us.


SHARPTON: Breaking news in the confederate flag debate in South Carolina.
After the bill to move the flag into a museum sailed through the state
Senate today, MSNBC just discovered a new plan to delay or even derail the
vote in the house tomorrow.

MSNBC national correspondent Joy Reid is live outside the statehouse.

Joy, what are you hearing?

JOY REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rev., we`re hearing that
tomorrow state representative Michael A. Pitts who represents a
conservative district here in South Carolina plans to introduce this stack
of amendments, 25 amendments, five of which have co-sponsors. They are
everything from removing all the monuments in the state capitol to removing
the African-American monument, and even one amendment that would call for
the American flag on top of the capitol dome to be flown upside down.

So some of the amendments seemingly clearly frivolous but all aimed at
slowing down the process. Each of these amendments would require 20
minutes of debate. As you can do the math, that can make this a very long
and arduous process in the house tomorrow - Rev.

SHARPTON: Now, is there anything else the rest of the house can do to stop
this delay?

REID: Indeed. We spoke with the Senate minority leader who explained that
cloture can be invoked by the house. There is no actual filibuster rule
which is why he was calling this filibuster by amendment. But two-thirds
of the members of the house do have the ability to invoke a cloture motion
which would stop any additional amendments from being introduced and would
reduce the amount of talk time on the amendments on the floor to three
minutes apiece. That could actually stop this tomorrow. The democratic
caucus has decided how they`re going to handle this or what their tactic is
going to be. But we will wait.

I will note, Rev., that the Senate has already passed a rule saying they
will not consider an amended bill. They want a clean bill to come out of
the house. If that has amendments on it, we`re going back to a conference
motion that could push this entire process into next week.

SHARPTON: Joy Reid, thank you for your reporting tonight.

REID: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Ahead, the debate over the Bush era no child left behind law.
Tonight, a shocking new report on our education system and how unfair it
is. Education secretary Arne Duncan is here.

Plus senator Bernie Sanders told us last night the Clinton camp should be,
quote "wary of him." Tonight, Hillary Clinton is responding to his



never be able to escape that poverty because she lacks a decent education
or health care or a community that views her future as their own, that
should offend all of us. And it should compel us to action. We are a
better country than this.


SHARPTON: The president speaking about one of the biggest civil rights
issue of our time -- education. Today, the Senate began debate on an
education bill that would overhaul the controversial no child left behind
law from the Bush era. Both Democrats and Republicans say the law should
be fixed, but the difference is in how.


SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R), TENNESSEE: Fix no child left behind were
standardized tests. Congress would award a failing grade for each of the
last seven years.

SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D), WASHINGTON: Nearly, everyone agrees that no child
left behind is badly broken.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: The status quo is unacceptable. Too
many of our children are still stuck in failing schools.


SHARPTON: The Obama administration wants to make sure that any new law
addresses inequalities in schools across the country. The White House just
issued a new report showing that only four out of ten students graduate on
time when they attend the lowest performing and under resourced high

And just look at the racial disparities. Black and Hispanic fourth graders
are half as likely to be on grade level in math as white students. A good
education is a ticket out of a difficult and impoverished life. And
Congress should pass a law that helps provide that to all of our nation`s

Joining me now is education secretary Arne Duncan. Thank you for being

ARNE DUNCAN, EDUCATION SECRETARY: Good evening, Reverend. Thanks so much
for having me.

SHARPTON: Secretary Duncan, how can Congress address the inequalities you
are worried about in our schools?

DUNCAN: Well, first of all, as you mentioned earlier, this law`s been
broken for a long time. Unfortunately, Congress has also been broken, has
been pretty dysfunctional. But they`re timely at least trying. They are
starting to try to work together, much more so in the Senate than in the

But there are a number of things that a new law should have in it. First,
it has to focus on early childhood education. That`s the best investment
we can make. Secondly, we have to make sure that where we have massive
achievement gaps, where we have schools that are dropout factories, we
don`t just admire the problem, we fix it.

Our nation`s based in real progress. High school graduate rates are at
all-time highs, dropout rates are down. But we have a long, long way to go
and we have to build upon that momentum. And right now, as you know, our
nation is struggling with some really, really tough issue, confederate flag
in South Carolina and other places. But the next hard question we have to
ask ourselves, are children in places like South Carolina, in Mississippi,
and in New York, your home, Chicago my home, are they receiving the quality
education they need and deserve? And the honest answer for far too many
children is not even close. So we have to work. We have to work together
to give every child a real chance in life.

SHARPTON: You mention early childhood education. A key part of this
debate is universal pre-k. Senator Bob Casey`s introducing a bill that
would help fund pre-k programs across the country saying quote "if we`re
going to talk about jobs and wages, it starts with early learning. Studies
show a link between learning and earning. If kids learn more now, they`ll
earn more later," end of quote.

How would universal pre-k help kids and their parents in working class
families, Secretary Duncan?

DUNCAN: Well, first of all, the law has been called the elementary and
secondary education act. We just fundamentally think that`s too late.
Learning doesn`t start at five years old or six years old when a child
entered kindergarten. As every parent knows and all brain research
demonstrates, learning starts at birth. And so, we want to make sure that
more children around the nation have access to great learning opportunities
from birth through age five so they enter kindergarten ready to be

This idea has become bipartisan in the real world. We have democratic and
Republican governors investing more in early childhood education. We think
that`s fantastic. Our administration has put more than a billion
additional dollars behind it to increase opportunity and access to high
quality programs. We need more of our Republican friends to step up and
say this is the right investment to make in children, in families and
ultimately in our nation.

Senator Patty Murray from Washington, she worked in the early childhood
space years ago before she entered politics. So this is something that`s
very, very personal, very real to her. And she`s been a passion advocate
and is helping to move this in the right direction. But this should have
nothing to do with politics or ideology or Republican or Democrats. We
should have more children entering kindergarten ready to learn and be

SHARPTON: You know, President Obama has spoken about how a good education
is really setting a child on the right path. Watch this.


OBAMA: It turns out that when they`re succeeding at school and have
resources they`re less likely to get pregnant as teens and less likely to
engage in drugs and less likely to be involved in the criminal justice


SHARPTON: Every dollar spent on early life on education is really
something that you save money on later, isn`t that right?

DUNCAN: That`s exactly right. And again, this law is fundamentally --
it`s a civil rights law, Reverend. We have to make sure our Latino
children, our African-American children, children who live below the
poverty line, children with special needs, they have tremendous talents and
creativity. We have to give them a chance in life.

Education, quality education is the only way to do that. And again, we`re
fighting for our kids, civil rights and foreign nation. And we can remove
a confederate flag, but if young children can`t read, they`re dropping out
of high school, they`re still going to be on the margins of society. We
simply can`t afford that and we have to make sure that our babies get off
to a good start, that every child has access to great schools and great
teachers. We have to make sure we`re closing those insidious gaps.
Graduation rates have to continue to climb. Dropout rates have to go down.
And we have to hold all of us as educators accountable to make sure we`re
making real progress. We can`t just admire a problem when students aren`t
learning, those bottom five percent of schools when simply not working. We
can`t just label them or describe the problem. We have to fix it. We have
to go in there and concretely do something now to give those children a
better chance.

Our children have one chance to get a real education, so we have to work
with a tremendous sense of urgency every single day.

SHARPTON: And it is a major civil rights issue of our time. I know you
and the president have been passionate about it since the beginning of this
administration. I`ve been privileged to work and toil with you on it. We
must nail this problem as best we can.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan, thank you tonight.

DUNCAN: Thanks so much for the opportunity. Thanks for all your work on
this issue. Really, really appreciate it.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, Hillary Clinton speaks out on the big surge from
Bernie Sanders. Is she worried?

And the secrets of amazing grace. What the first lady said when the
president told her he was going to sing.

But first, is Chris Christie an absentee governor? That`s in tonight`s


SHARPTON: Governor Chris Christie was born to run the state of New Jersey
or at least that`s probably how he feels. Just listen to him talk about


Jersey, New Jersey is an extraordinary place. The future of the state we
love, the great state of New Jersey.

I love this place. Thank you, New Jersey. Thank you.


SHARPTON: But two democratic state lawmakers don`t think Christie`s up for
the job. Now that he`s running for president. They`re co-sponsoring a
bill that would require Christie and future governors to resign if they
want to run for president. Now, let`s be honest, Christie has a better
chance of getting endorsed by Bruce Springsteen than this bill does of
becoming law, but he has been racking up the miles lately. After his next
trip, he will have spent 100 of the last 192 days outside of New Jersey.
He`s spending more time running for president than he is running the state.
But based on his sinking approval ratings back home, maybe voters don`t
actually mind all that much. Nice try, Governor. But we got you.


SHARPTON: Debunking Donald Trump. It`s a dirty job, but someone`s got to
do it. Tonight we decided to do a fact check about his claims about
immigrants starting with what he said about crime.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You have people coming in. And
I`m not just saying Mexicans. I`m talking about people from all over that
are killers and rapists. I mean, they`re coming into this country.

They`re bringing crime. They`re rapists.

You have illegal immigrants pouring through the country. They`re
incarcerated. Many of them are in jails. You have hundreds of thousands
of people going to state and federal penitentiaries. (Buzzer)


SHARPTON: Not true, Mr. Trump. A recent study by the police foundation
found incarceration rates among young men are lowest for immigrants
especially those who are the least educated. This holds true especially
for the Mexicans. So his accusations about crime are totally baseless.
But what about this claim?


TRUMP: When Mexico sends its people, they`re not sending their best.
They`re not sending you. They`re not sending you. They`re sending people
that have lots of problems, and they`re bringing those problems with us.
They`re bringing drugs. (Buzzer)


SHARPTON: Not so fast, Donald. Drug trafficking from Mexico is certainly
a big issue, but it`s not why most immigrants get detained. Most
undocumented immigrants, 89 percent, are caught on immigration charges.
Only five percent of border arrests are for drug trafficking charges. So
he`s 0 for two. And his latest claim is a real doozy. In a statement
yesterday Trump wrote, quote, "Tremendous infectious disease is pouring
across the border." (Buzzer)

Really? The facts don`t agree. The vaccination rate for some of the most
infectious diseases is higher in Mexico than it is in the United States.
So what do you have to say, Donald?


TRUMP: I can never apologize for the truth. I don`t mind apologizing for
things, but I can`t apologize for the truth.


SHARPTON: The Donald doesn`t apologize for the truth. But he doesn`t
really tell the truth that much either, does he?

Joining me now is Janet Murguia, president and CEO of the National Council
of La Raza. Thanks for being here tonight, Janet.

Reverend Sharpton. It`s a pleasure to be with you today.

SHARPTON: So, when Trump says things that aren`t true, how does that
affect the millions of people, families that he`s talking about?

MURGUIA: Well, it`s very harmful. And his remarks, which are false,
inflammatory and offensive, attempt to stereotype and criminalize an entire
community. And we`re highly offended by that. It`s repulsive for us to
hear this. As not only individuals and community that`s contributing in
positive ways every day to this country, but who have sacrificed for this
country. We have many in our community who have shed blood defending this
country within our military, and we find it highly offensive as well as
false when he makes comments like that.

SHARPTON: You know, it`s ironic. "The Washington Post" today reports that
Trump`s company might be employing undocumented workers at a hotel he`s
building in Washington. It says -- and I`m reading the quote -- interviews
with about 15 laborers revealed that many of them have crossed the
U.S./Mexico border illegally before they eventually settled in the
Washington region to build new lives. Aren`t immigrants much more fully
integrated into the labor force than many conservatives want to admit, Ms.

MURGUIA: No question, Reverend. We`ve seen full integration by immigrants
who have achieved the skills and the training to provide positive
contributions in many different ways. And the workforce now is reflective
of that. And we`ve seen that in the construction industry. But in almost
everywhere in the economy that you look, in every sector, immigrants are
making positive contributions and rebuilding this economy and building this
country. And going through a lot of sacrifice as they do it. So it is,
again, very offensive not just to Latinos and to voters and to immigrants
but to all Americans of good conscience to hear what Donald Trump is

And I think the bigger question looms large for many in the Republican
Party and in their leadership. Is Donald Trump speaking the truth as he
claims he is?


MURGUIA: He keeps saying that he`s speaking for those who are thinking
this but not saying it. We want to see the Republican Party and those
candidates full-throatedly deny and denounce what Donald Trump is saying.

SHARPTON: You know, it`s interesting you say that because Hillary Clinton
talked about the rest of the GOP presidential field, and she says it isn`t
much better than Trump on immigration. Listen to this.


know, in the same general area on immigration, you know. They don`t want
to provide a path to citizenship. They range across the spectrum of being
either grudgingly welcome or hostile toward immigrants.


SHARPTON: Trump has gotten all the attention, but immigration`s going to
be a really big issue in the 2016 race and the positions of other
Republicans are not much different than what we`re hearing in terms of a
lot of the anti-immigration rhetoric that many feel is anti-immigration
rhetoric coming from Trump.

MURGUIA: Well, there`s no question that Latino voters and, frankly, all
voters who will be participating in this next presidential election are
looking for leadership on this issue and for solutions, and we want to hear
that very clearly. In the meantime, when folks are using false,
inflammatory and offensive rhetoric, we want to see those individuals like
Trump called out by others. Standing on the sidelines during this kind of
a debate is not something that Latino voters will welcome. We will
remember who stood up with us and who stood against Donald Trump, and we`ll
be looking for those types of individuals to step up, those candidates to
step up in this election cycle.

SHARPTON: Janet Murguia, thank you so much for your time tonight.

MURGUIA: Thank you, Reverend Sharpton.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, Hillary Clinton just spoke out on the Bernie
Sanders momentum. We`ll have live reaction. And it was a moment that will
be in the history books. Tonight, we`re learning more about what led to
President Obama singing "Amazing Grace."


SHARPTON: It`s the so-called Bernie effect. Massive crowds responding to
his progressive message of fairness and leveling the playing field. Late
today Hillary Clinton addressed the surge in Sanders campaign in Iowa.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bernie Sanders has been doing events here in Iowa.
He`s really rising in the polls people wondering how you`re feeling about
the growing momentum he`s seeing here and what you`ll be doing in Iowa
about that.

CLINTON: Well, I`m doing exactly what I want to do in Iowa. We`ve been in
the campaign a little less than three months. It will be three months on
Sunday. And I am having the opportunity to meet with and listen to Iowans
across the state. I also think, look, this is going to be competitive. It
should be competitive. It`s only the presidency of the United States were
talking about. So, you know, the more the better. Let`s get everybody out
there and we`ll leave it up to Iowa to decide what happens in February.


SHARPTON: Clinton`s comments comes after "The New York Times" reported the
Clinton camp is wary of Sanders` strength in Iowa. I asked Senator Sanders
about it last night.


wary of it. We are doing very, very well. We have had meetings all over
the state of Iowa. The turnout has been great. We`re now focusing on how
you win the rather complicated caucus process in Iowa.


SHARPTON: It`s early, but the polls are tightening. In May Clinton led
Sanders in Iowa, 60 to 15 percent. Now, her lead is 52 to 33 percent.
Still a wide gap, but getting smaller. So how will this race play out?
Will progressive leaders like Elizabeth Warren and Bill de Blasio support
Sanders? And where will progressive voters turn out? As Clinton said
tonight, it appears this is going to be competitive.

Let`s bring in "Boston Globe" Shira Center and political strategist Tara
Dowdell. Thank you both for being here tonight.



SHARPTON: Tara, how do you feel this is shaping up now? Clearly Bernie
Sanders is pulling record crowds. Not in one place, all over the country,
from Wisconsin to Iowa to Maine. It seems that he`s breaking all of the
records in terms of attendance in this cycle so far including in Iowa. How
does this play out? Are these going to translate into votes? Can he upset
Ms. Clinton? How do you read this?

DOWDELL: Well, obviously he has gained momentum. We see that. And people
underestimated him gaining this much momentum. So that`s another issue. I
do think that this remains Hillary Clinton`s race to lose at this point
barring something really, really crazy happening. But the issue is, if you
look at Iowa, Iowa is a caucus state. And I`ve run field operations in
many states across this country. And what I can tell you is, it`s all
about organization and enthusiasm. So, people shouldn`t discount Bernie
Sanders in caucus states in particular because enthusiasm and organization
Trump all else.

SHARPTON: And that`s Iowa. Shira, how do you feel about Mrs. Clinton`s
response today? How did her response strike you?

CENTER: Well, I think she was being honest in a politically strategic way,
as she often is. This is going to be more competitive than maybe some of
her advisers thought six months ago, but this is also an act of Hillary
Clinton and her team setting expectations for her. What she didn`t want is
to go into caucus night or New Hampshire primary night or South Carolina
primary night with these expectations that she would win in these contests
by a 50-point margin. That`s historically not very likely and it probably
wouldn`t happen. So, I think what they`re doing in part here is using
what`s become a semi sort of competitive primary to their advantage by
lowering expectations in the long run. And that`s probably going to be
good for her.

SHARPTON: Tara, let me go back to your strategist expertise. You know,
Elizabeth Warren, she was asked whether she campaigned for Bernie Sanders.
She said, quote, "too early to say." But also added, I love what Bernie is
talking about. Now, what would the impact be if Sanders does get
endorsements from nationally known progressives like Elizabeth Warren or
Bill de Blasio?

DOWDELL: Well, from a purely strategy standpoint, you want earned media.
And what earned media means is you`re getting PR that you`re not paying
for. Clearly that alone will be very helpful to Bernie Sanders. Also
Elizabeth Warren raises money. People don`t talk about this a lot, but she
headlines fundraisers and she raises money. So, her support would bring
more money to the table, too. And so, I think it would be definitely an
additional shot in the arm for Bernie Sanders if he got someone like
Elizabeth Warren`s support.

But Bernie Sanders has a cross-section issue. And his supporters get
offended when you say it. But he has an issue, when you look at his
crowds, they`re not very diverse. And the Democratic Party is a very
heterogeneous party. The winning coalition for Obama was three out of
every four Asians, three out of every four Hispanics. Record numbers of
African-Americans. Three out of every four Jews. That is our winning
coalition. So, we`re not seeing that cross-section with him. And they get
offended, the supporters, don`t get offended. Fix it.

SHARPTON: He addressed that last night.


SHARPTON: And he supposedly is dealing with that. Shira, let me ask you
this. When you look at a poll that says in Iowa, 91 percent of Iowa
Democrats think the federal government should try to reduce income


SHARPTON: Is that what this race is all about?

CENTER: Frankly, until I saw that, I didn`t know 91 percent of the
Democratic Party agreed on any one thing. That was a huge number.


CENTER: It`s crazy, right? So yes, I do think that means economic
inequality is going to be a major issue in the democratic primary and
likely the general election. And that plays well to Bernie Sanders.
Number one, because he`s already been talking about it for many months,
many years even. And number two, he`s authentic about it. You know, when
he talks about it, people feel like it really resonates with him. You talk
to Hillary Clinton`s critics and they say they feel like she can`t relate
to them for many of the same reasons people had critiques of Mitt Romney.
Because she has charged huge numbers for speeches. She no longer can
relate to the middle class. That`s what this critique is. They can`t say
the same thing about Bernie Sanders.

SHARPTON: Shira Center and Tara Dowdell, thank you for your time tonight.

CENTER: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, news details about why President Obama decided to
sing "Amazing Grace" and what the First Lady said about it.



PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: (singing) Amazing Grace, how sweet
the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I was once was lost --


SHARPTON: President Obama singing "Amazing Grace" as he gave the eulogy
for reverend Clementa Pinckney last month in South Carolina. A defining
moment in his presidency. It wasn`t in the script. And today, we`re
learning more about how that moment came about.


way in the helicopter to Andrews the morning of the service, we were
talking about the speech. And the First Lady hadn`t read the speech yet.
And so he said when I get to the second part of referring to "Amazing
Grace," I think I might sing. The First Lady said, why on earth would that
fit in? And so, he started to explain. And he said, I don`t know whether
I`m going to do it, but I just wanted to warn you two that I might sing.
And he said, we`ll see how it feels at the time.


SHARPTON: This is how it felt at the time.


OBAMA: "Amazing Grace." Amazing Grace --


SHARPTON: Clergy members and people all over the arena stood and joined
in, but in the end, did the President have second thoughts?


JARRETT: Both of you watched it, you probably saw that he paused for a
minute right before he sang. So later I said to him, were you thinking
about whether or not to sing. He said, oh, no, I knew I was going to sing.
I was just trying to figure out which key to sing in.



SHARPTON: What a moment. Sung in all the right keys.


SHARPTON: We close tonight by going back to South Carolina where today the
widow of the Senator Clementa Pinckney made her first public appearance
since the Charleston massacre. One by one, his former colleagues lined up
to hug her.


Pinckney. And this state loves you and your girls. And they love the
entire Pinckney family. And we`ll keep our arms wrapped around you and
this family forever.


SHARPTON: This debate about the confederate flag is bringing our history
back to the forefront. We need to be honest about that history. In South
Carolina and elsewhere. A "Washington Post" editorial highlights new
school books in Texas that are white washing civil war history. The "Post"
says, quote, "it is alarming that 150 years after the civil war`s end
children are learning that slavery was, as one Texas board of education
member put it in 2010, a side issue."

The book also ignored the KKK and Jim Crow. We can never overcome and
never progress past our history unless we`re honest about what that history
is. You can`t heal wounds by covering them up. You must expose them, go
into them, dig out the infection or the poison or whatever causes the wound
and then get it out and healing can start. The truth is not to be hidden.
The truth is to be told so we can turn ugliness into beauty. It will not
in any way harm our children. It will strengthen them to know how far
we`ve come and, therefore, how far we still need to go. It`s time we tell
the truth and then we can correct the reality of today by changing that
ugliness into a truthful newness of one nation that we claim we seek.

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


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