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PoliticsNation, Thursday, August 6th 2015

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Show: POLITICS NATION

Date: August 6, 2015

Guest: E.J. Dionne; Debbie Wasserman Schultz; Bernie Sanders, Cornell

Belcher, Shira Center, Rich Galen

REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST:  Tonight, a special edition of "Politics

Nation," fight night in the GOP.  One debate ended moments ago.  The big

one is yet to come.  We`ll go live to Cleveland. 

Plus, my interview with Hillary Clinton.  She talks about voting, race, the

GOP, and whether she`ll watch the debate. 

Also, I`ll talk live to her top Challenger, Senator Bernie Sanders, about

what progressives want to see in this Democratic primary. 

Welcome to "Politics Nation."  I`m live tonight in Atlanta.  We`re just

three hours from the main event of the GOP presidential race, the prime

time debate.  But moments ago, the seven candidates who didn`t make the cut

for the big stage faced off in the so-called happy hour debate and they had

plenty to say about the man referred to as the quote "elephant in the room,

Donald Trump." 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK PERRY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I`ve had my issues with Donald

Trump.  I talked about Donald Trump from the standpoint of being an

individual who was using his celebrity rather than his conservatism.  How

can you run for the Republican nomination and be for single payer health

care? 

CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I didn`t get a phone call from

Bill Clinton before I jumped in the race.  Did any of you get a phone call

from Bill Clinton?  Since he has changed his mind on amnesty on healthcare

and abortion, I would just ask, what are the principles by which he will

govern? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  The other candidates had their sights set on Hillary Clinton. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  To all the Americans who

want a better life, don`t vote for Hillary Clinton.  You`re not going to

get it.  She represents a third term of a failed presidency.  WHEN bill

Clinton says it depends on what the meaning of is, is, that means is, is

whatever Bill wants it to mean.  When Hillary Clinton tells you I have

given you all the e-mails you need, that means she hasn`t. 

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA:  Under President Obama and Secretary

Clinton, they`re working hard to change the American dream into the

European nightmare. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  Earlier today on my radio show, I spoke with Mrs. Clinton about

the Republican field in what was just her second national broadcast

interview.  Since she`s launched her campaign, I asked her at this occasion

if she expects them to address voting rights.  Tonight on the 50th

anniversary of the voting rights act, would they discuss it? 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  Do you hope to see them address this issue since it is on the

anniversary?  And I don`t know if you`ll have time to watch the debate.  I

know how grueling campaigns can be. 

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  You know, Al, I don`t think I

need to watch it to know that nearly everybody standing on that stage is

the first or the second debate has either actively sought to limit the

right to vote in their state or supported the efforts to limit the right to

vote, if they were not governors but were in the Congress. 

I personally think it is so nakedly partisan to try to limit the electorate

to try to pick and choose who among our fellow citizens should be

encouraged or discouraged from voting.  It is part of their electoral

strategy. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  Voting rights weren`t addressed once in the so-called happy hour

debate.  And we`ll have to watch the top ten candidates to see if it comes

up later tonight. 

Joining me now is Florida congresswoman and chair of the Democratic

National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.  Also with me is E.J. Dionne

of the "Washington Post." thank you both for being here. 

E.J. DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST:   Good to be with you, Rev. 

DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE:  Thanks,

Reverend Al.  Great to be here. 

SHARPTON:  Congresswoman, I want to talk about the debate later tonight in

a moment.  But first, your reaction to the first rounds of debates? 

SCHULTZ:  Well, you know, Reverend Al, first of all, I think it is

important for us to commemorate and acknowledge that this is the 50th

anniversary of the voting rights act.  And I wish I could say that I was

surprised it didn`t come up at all in the happy hour debate.  And that what

came up was, you know, making sure that we can keep immigrants out of this

country, kick immigrants out of this country who are simply here to try to

make a better way of life for themselves and their family and no mention of

comprehensive immigration reform. 

But you know, what I thought was the most interesting even without Donald

Trump on the stage, this entire night is clearly going to be the Republican

debate starring Donald Trump.  I mean, they couldn`t even avoid within the

debate that doesn`t feature Donald Trump having the second question that

the candidates were asked be about Donald Trump.  And that`s because he is

an absolute reflection of the hard core right wing extremist base of the

Republican Party today.  And the line that all of the candidates are

towing. 

SHARPTON:  E.J., you know, Rick Perry and Carly Fiorina were certainly

eager to go after Donald Trump.  Did you expect that? 

DIONNE:  Yes.  I was not surprised at all.  In fact, I thought of all the

candidates I saw, and I watched good part of it.  Fiorina looked more than

any of them like she belonged in the other debate.  And I think there was -

there was a terrible affect (ph) to this debate that, you know, they looked

like the discarded people, as a friend of mine said when, you know, on that

weird stage with no audience.  But I think that the way the people on that

stage in that happy hour debate would get attention was to attack Donald

Trump.  So I was not - I wasn`t surprised that they went after him at all. 

SHARPTON:  You know, another notable part of the happy hour debate,

congresswoman, was the questioning.  I mean, take a listen to what the

candidates were asked. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You recently said that four years ago, you were not

ready for this job.  Why should someone vote for you now? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You ran for Senate and lost in California in 2010. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Has your moment passed, Senator? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  If the people of Louisiana are not satisfied, what

makes you think the people of this nation would be? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  How can they trust you?  Based on that record. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He believed the party needed new blood.  Does he have

a point? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You ran for the White House once and lost.  You ran for

the Senate and lost.  You haven`t held public office in 13 years. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  Congresswoman, help me here.  Are the candidates being asked to

say, or prove that they`re not losers? 

SCHULTZ:  Well, you know, I think the bottom line here, Reverend Al, is

that no matter whether it is the ten on the stage at 9:00 tonight or the

other seven that were on the stage at 5:00.  They`re really as

interchangeable as Legos.  I mean, there`s really no appreciable difference

from any of these -- between any of these candidates.  They are all for

repealing the affordable care act.  They all, you know, support a position

that focuses exclusively on border security and it would ignore the polite

of families who are just here as immigrants trying to make a better way of

life for themselves.  They all would roll back the progress of health care

in America.  They would all cut taxes for the wealthiest, most fortunate

Americans and to heck with the middle class.  So it really doesn`t matter

which stage and what time they were on debating. 

But what I did think was interesting was that these guys at 5:00 should

have been trying to figure out how to position themselves against one

another.  And instead just focused on Hillary Clinton.  I mean, they

actually have to try to get themselves to the main debate stage for the

next time.  And I just was a little surprised that none of them actually

talked about why they would be a better nominee than any of the other

people on the stage or on the stage at 9:00 tonight. 

SHARPTON:  Now E.J., another answer that caught my attention was when Rick

Santorum was asked about same-sex marriage in terms of the Supreme Court

decision.  Listen to this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  It is not any more than Dread

Scott was set a law to Abraham Lincoln when his first inaugural address

said it won`t stand.  And they went ahead and passed laws in direct

contravention to a rogue Supreme Court.  This is a rogue Supreme Court

decision. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  Comparing marriage equality to Dread Scott? 

DIONNE:  Yes.  That was astonishing.  You know, I guess any decision you

don`t like, you`re attempted to compare to Dread Scott.  But the notion of

giving, you know, against the Lesbians this right versus slavery, a

decision that enshrine slavery in the entire country, it was really

remarkable.  But I think it was clear what Rick Santorum`s strategy is

which is the first thing he wants to try to do is to corral the most

socially conservative people in the Republican Party.  And that worked for

him the last time around.  It didn`t seem to work for him here. 

In terms of your earlier question, by the way, about those really tough

questions thrown at these candidates.  I`m all for tough candidates to

questions in the debate.  But I hope the people on the other stage get

questions like that too.  Because otherwise FOX first picked a method that

marginalized these people and then invited them in to be insulted.  It`s

kind of odd. 

SHARPTON:  You know, congresswoman, the questions the candidates faced were

interesting.  The questions so far that went over the hour.  Here`s what

they were questioned about.  Three questions on the economy, two on

immigration, two on healthcare, seven on foreign policy or terrorism, and

zero on Hillary Clinton, though the candidates brought her up on their own. 

I mean, do you think we`ll see a similar breakdown tonight?  And what do

you make of it? 

SCHULTZ:  I do.  I think that there is an obsession with Hillary Clinton. 

And these candidates wanted to do everything but talk about their own

policy positions or contrast themselves with one another. 

I do want to go back to the shocking response that Senator Santorum had on

Dred Scott decision compared to the same-sex marriage decision.  You know,

look at the field here.  I mean, it is cringe-worthy but should not be

surprising in a field where just a couple weeks ago you have Mike Huckabee

who is on the stage at 9:00 tonight who wouldn`t rule out that he would use

federal troops to stop women from being able to access abortion.  And now

Rick Santorum suggests that the same-sex marriage Supreme Court decision is

similar to the way Abraham Lincoln thought of Dred Scott. 

Let me point out, the Dread Scott decision actually constricted rights and

denied people`s rights.  And the same-sex marriage decision expanded them. 

That`s the problem with the Republican party of today.  They would

constrict rights, they would deny justice as they have repeatedly done and

any one of these guys who would ultimately be their nominee would make life

worse, not better for people who are simply trying to reach the middle

class.  And that`s the basic message and the contrast we`ll have through

the campaign. 

SHARPTON:  Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and E.J. Dionne.  Thank

you both for you time. 

DIONNE:  Good to be with you, Revered. 

SCHULTZ:  Thank you, Reverend Al. 

SHARPTON:  Still ahead, I`ll talk with presidential candidate Bernie

Sanders.  We`ll talk about this display from the Republicans, and what he

expects from the Democratic debates. 

Plus, more from my interview with Hillary Clinton, including a look at

criminal justice, voting rights and race in America. 

And of course the big debate is still to come.  What will Donald Trump do? 

Big show ahead, stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM:  We need to do is take the rest of the federal entitlements, not

just welfare but food stamps and Medicaid and housing programs and do the

same thing we did with welfare.  Work requirements and time limits.  That

will change everything. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Two big regulations like the EPA too much new taxes on

business that we have seen and Obamacare.  These drags on the economy. 

JINDAL:  I don`t think anybody should be expanding Medicaid.  I think it is

a mistake to create a more expensive entitlement programs when we can`t

afford the ones we have today.  We have to stop this culture of government

-- 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  Welcome back to our special coverage of the 2016 Republican

debates. 

The candidates are putting their check agendas out there for everyone to

see and judge.  And there`s no question that economic future of this

country and the fight for fairness are going to be huge issues in both the

Republican and Democratic primaries, as well as the general election. 

Joining me now is senator Bernie Sanders who is running for the Democratic

presidential nomination.  First of all, thanks for being here tonight. 

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  My pleasure. 

SHARPTON:  Senator, what do you think about the economic ideas we`re

hearing from the GOP field? 

SANDERS:  You know, Al, it is amazing how right wing extremist the modern

Republican Party has become.  At the end of the day, what these guys

believe is that at a time of massive wealth and income inequality, you need

to give huge tax breaks to billionaires and to large corporations. 

At a time when the middle class is shrinking, we`ve got 45 million people

living in poverty, what they want to do is cut Social Security, cut

Medicare or privatize Medicare, voucherize it.  They want to make massive

cuts to Medicaid.  They want to throw millions of people off health

insurance by ending the affordable care act.  Some of them want to

eliminate the concept of the minimum wage.  They want to end the

environmental protection agency. 

This is an extreme right wing party funded by the Koch brothers and other

billionaires.  They are not representing anything more than a small number

of Americans. 

SHARPTON:  You know, I remember you floated the idea of debates involving

both Democratic and Republican candidates.  How would that change what

we`re seeing tonight? 

SANDERS:  What I think, Al, is the Republicans literally get away with

murder because people don`t know what their agenda is.  Nobody knows that

their budget through 27 million people off Medicare --off health care. 

Nobody knew that they cut that Pell grants by $90 billion.  .Nobody knows

that $250 billion in tax breaks at the top, two-tenths of one percent. 

They have got to be confronted.  The American people want economic policies

to protect working families, not millionaires and billionaires.  They want

to raise the minimum wage.  They don`t want to do away with the concept of

the minimum wage.  They want to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.  They

want to make public colleges and universities tuition free.  They want to

expand the ability of people to vote, not go forward with voter suppression

and undermining the voting rights act.  They want immigration reform, not

throw people out of the country. 

The Republican agenda is so right wing.  I don`t think it represents more

than 10, 15 percent of the American people.  We have to confront them on

that and having debates with them would allow us to do that. 

SHARPTON:  All right.  Let`s talk about the Democratic campaign.  I spoke

with Secretary Clinton today on my radio show.  And I want to play you some

of what she said about voting rights. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON:  I can tell you, whoever I sit across from in the debates in the

general election, I will be raising this because this is such a fundamental

constitutional right.  The best way to repudiate this, in addition to the

lawsuits and the efforts we need to undertake, and when I`m president,

appoint the Supreme Court justice who`s care more about protecting an

individual`s right to vote than a billionaire`s right to buy an election,

is for people to turn out and vote. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  Whoever she sits across from in general debate, appointing

Supreme Court justices when she`s president.  Do you think Secretary

Clinton is getting a little ahead of herself, senator? 

SANDERS:  Maybe.  She`s going to have to win the Democratic primary and

caucus process.  And that`s not for certain.  I think our campaign is

gaining a whole lot of momentum, Al, not just in New Hampshire and Iowa,

but all over the country.  We`re heading to the west coast this weekend.  I

think we are going to do events in Seattle, Portland, L.A.  I would be

surprised if we don`t have tens of thousands or more out in each of these

events. 

But I think on the issue of voting right, let me just say this.  I`m a

politician.  I run in a lot of elections.  Sometimes I win, most of the

times I win, sometime I`ve lost.  It has never occurred to me for one

second that the way to win an election is to make it impossible for people

to disagree with me to vote. 

People who hold that view, who don`t have the guts to fight for their ideas

but who think they should win elections by making it impossible for people

of color, for poor people, for old people to vote, they are cowards.  They

are political cowards who do not have the confidence that their ideas can

win.  And they use simply brute force to keep people from voting. 

If there is anything I can think of that is not only disgraceful but un-

American, it is those people who are trying to keep Americans from voting. 

We have to stand up to them.  I`ve just introduced legislation that call

for universal voter registration.  We are way behind many other countries

in terms of making it easy for people to register.  That`s what we have to

do.  We need to pass real campaign finance reform.  Not only over overturn

citizens united but move the public funding of elections.  I want to see

America have the highest voter turnout of any major country, not one of the

lowest. 

SHARPTON:  Senator, today the Democratic National Committee announced its

debate`s schedule, first debate in Nevada, October 13th, a total of six

debate.  What in those debates do you most want to debate your opponents,

Secretary Clinton, former governor O`Malley?  What is the distinguishing

differences you want to debate them on and bring out to the American public

particularly Democratic primary and caucus votes? 

SANDERS:  Well, I think Secretary Clinton and I have many very serious

disagreements.  I am strongly supportive of expanding Social Security, not

cutting it.  I don`t know that the secretary has voiced an opinion on that. 

I oppose the Trans pacific partnership and have been opposed to a series of

disasters trade agreements which have cost us millions of jobs.  I am

strongly on opposed to the keystone pipeline because I think the climate

change is one of the most significant global issues facing us.  We should

not be excavating and transporting some of the dirtiest fuel on earth.  I

voted against the USA patriot act.  I believe that terrorism is a serious

threat, but I don`t think we have to undermine our constitution and privacy

rights.  The secretary voted for it. 

Bottom line, though, is I think that if we`re going to expand the million

class, if we are going to lower poverty, if we are going to provide health

care to all Americans.  We need a strong grassroots political movement to

stand up to the billionaire class, to stand off to Wall Street.  That`s

what I have been doing for my entire political life.  Standing up to the

most powerful special interests in this country.  People will have to judge

for themselves whether that is Secretary Clinton`s record. 

SHARPTON:  Senator Bernie Sanders.  Thank you for your time this evening. 

SANDERS:  Thank you. 

SHARPTON:  Ahead, the president today marked the 50th anniversary of the

voting rights act.  Will Republicans make a single reference to it tonight? 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON:  The main event is just under three hours away.  We want to know

who you think will win the debate.  Head over to our Facebook page to vote

on which of the top ten candidates you think will come out ahead tonight? 

Cast your vote now and we`ll show you the results later in the show. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON:  In just about two hours, the main event for the 2016 GOP debate

will get underway.  In 2012, these Republican debates showcased the more

extreme radical side of the candidates and the crowds. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Are you saying that society should just let him die? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No. 

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The answer is self-

deportation.  People decide they can do better by going home because they

can`t find work here because they don`t have legal documentation to allow

them to work here. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  In 2010 when I was deployed to Iraq, I had to lie about

who I was because I`m a gay soldier.  I didn`t want to lose my job.  My

question is, under one of your presidencies do you intend to circumstance

up vent the progress made for gay and lesbians in the military? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  But no matter their party, these primary debates give candidates

a chance to make headlines and hit each other with some friendly fire. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  You`re likable enough,

Hillary. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  When I hear your new ideas, I`m reminded of that ad,

where`s the beef? 

ROMNEY:  I will tell you what? Ten thousand bucks?  Ten thousand dollar

bet?

RICK PERRY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I`m not in the betting business. 

It`s three agencies of government when I get there that are gone. 

Commerce, education and -- and the -- what is the third one there?  Let`s

see.  Let`s see.  I can`t.  The third one.  I can`t.  Sorry.  Oops. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  What kind of fireworks will we see tonight from Donald Trump? 

That`s ahead. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON:  Welcome back.  There was one gaping hole in the GOP`s so-called

happy hour debate.  The candidates got zero questions on voting rights,

zero questions on policing and zero questions on civil rights.  Now

consider that the debate`s own sponsor, Facebook released its poll showing

the top five most talked about topics.  Number one, is racial issues ahead

of Mexico, the economy, LGBT issues and immigration.  It`s top of mind at

an urgent time.  Today marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the

voting rights act.  A law that has come under increasing attack from the

right.  I talked about that attack during my interview with Hillary Clinton

today.  And I asked her if she thought voting rights would even come up at

the GOP debates. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I expect them all to give lip

service to the idea that has been disproved repeatedly by which they use to

justify their partisan goals.  Namely, that there is this massive amount of

voter fraud going on.  Every independent group that has ever looked at this

issue has concluded the same way which is that is just not true.  But it

doesn`t to that them from trotting it out and trying to justify the

unjustifiable.  So I doubt that in this first debate, they will be asked to

justify their support for restrictions on the franchise. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  We also talked about where she stands on criminal justice

reform. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON:  I believe we need to end the era of mass incarceration.  If you

compare arrest records in, you know, in charging of crimes, in convicting

of crimes, in sentencing for crimes.  You compare African-American men to

white men, it is as unfortunately clear as it could be that there is a bias

in favor of white men.  I think the best guide to what we should do, you

can find in the recommendations of President Obama`s task force on

policing.  They provide a really good road map for reforms. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  These are important issues.  And we need to hear where Democrats

and Republicans stand on them. 

Joining me now are Cornell Belcher, a democratic pollster.  Shira Center, a

political reporter for the "Boston Globe."  And Rich Galen, a republican

strategist.  Thank you for being here. 

CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER:  Thanks for having us.

RICH GALEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Thanks for having us.

SHIRA CENTER, POLITICAL REPORTER, "BOSTON GLOBE":  Thanks. 

SHARPTON:  Cornell, what do you make of Republicans not talking about

voting on the anniversary of the voting rights act?

BELCHER:  Well, strategically I understand for the small ball.  And when

they`re talking about the republican primary voters and Republicans who

vote in caucuses.  You know, it is a soft spot for them.  It`s a sour spot

for them.  Because they are so wrong on this from where the mainstream is

on this.  And praise to the court today that said, what we`ve been saying a

long time is that the Texas voter identification law discriminates against

Blacks and Hispanics is what many of us said.  But these are the laws that

Republicans have been putting in place and they have been supporting and

fighting for.  Now, long term, look, you know, I`m pretty good at math. 

But every presidential election cycle the electorate gets probably about

two percent more brown.  Long term this is going to absolutely hurt the

Republican Party that they`re not engaging it.  And when they do engage it,

Rev, they`re on the wrong side of this.  They can`t be on the wrong side of

this issue when an American electorate that every election cycle is going

browner and arguably younger. 

SHARPTON:  You know, Rich, was this a missed opportunity for the moderators

and the candidates?  If they feel they`re not on the wrong side as Cornell

stated and I`ve stated and others.  Would it have been an opportunity for

them to clarify even to their own base why they take these positions?  Do

you think anyone will bring it up tonight?

GALEN:  Now they probably will.  Because you made a big deal about it.  So,

I suspect somebody at FOX is scratching something out and putting this in

which is fine with me.  Let me tell you a quick story.  Way back in the

early 1980s.  I was a press secretary for young senator from Indiana name

Dan Quayle.  And the voting rights act was coming up for renewal.  And his

position was, he was going to vote for the renewal of it because at the

same time, you remember, there was a big deal about block grants that

President Reagan was pushing for very hard.  And Quayle thought that if

you`re going to have block grants, that local people get to decide where

this money is going to be used.  They have to be able to vote so that they

can get positions on city councils, county commissions and things like

that.  So, I mean, I think it is an easy call for a republican, even a

conservative republican to make a really good case for being in favor of

this stuff.  If I was advising anybody, I would say don`t run away with

from it.  Embrace it. 

SHARPTON:  Shira, you know they day President Obama mark the 50th

anniversary of the voting rights act, and call on Congress to take action

to restore the law.  Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES:  In the abstract, at least,

everybody today believes in the right to vote.  Conceptually everybody is

in favor -- of the right to vote. 

(APPLAUSE)

In practice, we`ve still got problems.  One order of business is for our

Congress to pass an updated version of the voting rights act. 

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  So, Shira, are Republicans candidates going to have to deal with

this sooner rather than later? 

CENTER:  Well, it would be really interesting to hear than deal with it

tonight on the 50th anniversary of it.  Because I do think they might give

some different answers to it.  And if you look at Congress, there is

bipartisan support for redoing that portion of the voting rights act again. 

So, some Republicans do support this.  And I would be interested to see if

any of the Republicans on stage tonight`s debate might support renewing the

voting rights act in full. 

SHARPTON:  Several 2016 candidates have talked about prison reform,

Cornell.  Listen to this 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAND PAUL (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Let`s show compassion.  Let`s

reform our criminal justice system. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The idea that we lock people up, throw them away, never

give them a chance at redemption is not what America is about. 

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We should not live in a world

of les miserable where a young man finds his entire future taken away by

excessive mandatory minimums. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  Shouldn`t these debates be an opportunity for Republicans to

speak out about these issues, Shira?

CENTER:  Yes.  I absolutely think that this is a good issue for Republicans

to discuss.  It is a good thing that the party should flesh out where it is

on this because, it is an issue about mandatory minimums, it`s an issue

about economic opportunity, when you talk about the number of people who

have to serve this mandatory minimums.  This affects their earning power

for the rest of their lives.  It is a law enforcement issue and Republicans

traditionally get a lot of support from law enforcement groups when they

run up and down the ballot.  So, it is an important issue for the party to

discuss and talk about for so many different reasons in the context.  And I

think the first person who will talk about it tonight, if I had to guess,

U.S. Senator Rand Paul.  This is an issue he`s talking about it before.  He

has brought this up.  He is very proud of this fact.  I would be the first

one to tell you that, I would be surprised if he did not bring it up

tonight. 

SHARPTON:  All right.  I`m going to ask my panel to stay with me.  Coming

up, will they be cautious or will they throw caution to the wind?  And what

can we expect from Donald Trump?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON:  Will the candidates be cautious or will they mix it up?  And how

will they handle Donald Trump?  The top ten republican candidates will be

front and center tonight.  And one thing we know, they`ve been preparing

hard behind the scenes.  A new viral video proves it. 

GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R-WI), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  For a debate, I go out

and run.  It`s a great way to relax.  You can`t take any phone calls.  You

are not reading e-mails.  You`re not looking online.  You are just out

running and that clears your mind.

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Before the debate, I normally call

my mom to get advice.  Hey, mom, I can`t say that on television. 

MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE:  What is Megyn Kelly going

to ask at the FOX debate?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Let me check on that. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  But tonight, the fun ends and the glove comes off.  Several

candidates have already posted videos to Facebook showing what they would

ask each other if they were in charge of tonight`s debate questions. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I have a question for all the republican candidates in

the debate on Thursday.  Which candidate do you admire the most?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY:  Please give me your specific plan to

reform entitlements in our country. 

PAUL:  Don`t you think we would be better off not electing another career

politician?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  How are you going to make

America great again?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON:  A lot of questions.  Soon we`ll start getting answers. 

Back with me is our panel.  Cornell, Shira and Rich.  Rich, are these

candidates going to be cautious or will they mix it up tonight?

GALEN:  Well, that`s a great question.  Here`s what I think may will

happen.  I think if there is any mixing to be upped, that it will probably

be aimed at Bush or Walker.  Not at Trump.  Because, first of all, you have

to get past those two guys to get to Trump.  So, that`s the first thing. 

You want to knock him down.  Number two is that, I think that these may be

intimidated by Donald Trump.  They do not want to necessarily get him to

focus his firearm then.  You know, Perry did that a couple weeks ago in a

speech and it backfired and it didn`t help him at all.  So, I suspect that

they will though.  I suspect it will be not aimed at Donald Trump, aimed at

Bush and then probably Walker. 

SHARPTON:  Cornell, what do you expect from Donald Trump?

BELCHER:  I think, look.  I mean, the debate prep is something I`ve done

before in presidential primaries.  I think it depends on who`s in your

lane.  I think if you`re a Mike Huckabee or you are a Rick Santorum, Bush

isn`t so much in your lane.  He`s not so much in your lane.  Bush has got

this lane where he`s, you know, trying to be the moderate middle of the

road republican.  But if you are in the lane where you want to go for the

far right and that cohort, I think you might see Donald Trump in your lane. 

Donald Trump has clearly owned that resentment anti-establishment core

grouping of other republican primary voters.  And if he`s in your lane, at

some point, he may not do it tonight.  But at some point, if you`re going

to own that lane, you`re going to have to take Donald Trump on.  I think a

lot of them will sit back and wait for Donald Trump to self-explode

tonight.  But I have a feeling Donald Trump is going to let him down. 

SHARPTON:  Now, when Cornell says, let him down, Shira, Donald Trump by

many people`s analysis has risen based on anger and anti-establishment and

a lot of dissatisfaction.  If he comes off too tame, if he comes off

presidential as we say, where he is not expressing that anger, that

discontent, will he risk disappointing his base and those that have been

supporting him feel, well, now he`s getting like everybody else.  He just

used us to get to center stage. 

CENTER:  You know, I have believe that if you made it this far with Donald

Trump and you`re a Donald Trump supporter right  now, you`re not going to

let him go because he was a little too tame at a republican debate with

nine other Republicans on stage.  I just don`t see it happening.  But I do

think that is an interesting prediction.  James kind of wrote about it this

morning for the globe.  It is highly possible Donald Trump could be the

most boring man on stage tonight.  And why would he do that?  Well, it`s

because for him, it is not really as much about the message as the

messenger.  If he can show he is kind of competent even the slightest bit

presidential, it`s going to lead every single news story tomorrow.  What

if, oh my gosh, he talks about policy, he talks about the debt crisis, he

brings in  kind of international monetary policy into it, everyone is going

to be amazed and then maybe Donald Trump will get what he says he`s wanted

the entire time which is for the media to take him seriously. 

SHARPTON:  But if he does that, Rich, and he starts talking policy and he

starts talking legislation, and he messes it up because he seems to have

had problems with some facts and some of the things we pointed out.  Will

he make himself look worse?

GALEN:  Well, there is a middle ground.  I don`t disagree with anything

anybody has said tonight.  But again, we`re talking about this one two-hour

block later tonight.  And I think that I agree that what Trump has to do,

he has got to expand.  He has got to expand his base.  He has to expand the

people that will take him seriously.  I mean, as I said in -- this morning,

he has to get away from being seen as a balloon float in the Macy`s

Thanksgiving Day Parade.  He has to show some level of solemnity.  That

doesn`t mean that he has to be, you know, he does have to the guy that can

balance the budget and go toe to toe with OMB but he does have to show that

he`s got an interest in talking about difficult issues in a serious way as

opposed to just kind of trying to bowl over everybody but we`ll see. 

SHARPTON:  Cornell, if you are advising Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, what

would you tell them to do tonight, who should they go after or what should

their behavior be?  What policy should they try and raise and become the

proponents of?

BELCHER:  That`s a really good question, Rev.  One of the things that if

I`m advising Jeb Bush, and I think it may be a little different for Scott

Walker, but if I am advising Jeb Bush, I`m having him stay as far away from

the Trump stuff as possible.  He has got to look like the adult on the

stage for that moderate middle swath of the republican electorate.  He has

got to be their guy.  He has to own that space.  Stay as far away from the

Trump surface as possible and be substantive.  But also, this isn`t just

about substance.  I hate to sort of drop this on you all but voters

actually vote for people that they like.  And they vote for people they

like regardless of some of the other things. 

So, I think Jeb Bush more so than Trump or any other candidates has to

emote something.  Has to emote a quality that is likable.  You can say what

you will about Ronald Reagan.  People liked Ronald Reagan.  You can say

what you about George Bush.  But George Bush was the guy that people want

to have a beer with more they want to have a beer with Al Gore.  I think

Jeb`s problem right now isn`t substance.  His problem is right now, people

look at him and they go --  

SHARPTON:  Shira, you mentioned those that have come this far with Donald

Trump are not going to leave him over maybe one debate.  But what do you

think they expect from him tonight?

CENTER:  Well, I don`t think they`ll leave him over a tepid performance at

a debate.  If he completely blows it, you know, that`s a whole other thing. 

But if he just tries to prove some policy bonafides and I don`t think his

supporters will going to be that mad at him.  I think his supporters

tonight want to see him get a little agitated.  They want to see him get,

you know, talk about, rail against career politicians, which will be very

easy for him because they will be on his left and on his right.  So, I

think they want to see him get a little bit excited but probably not

overboard. 

SHARPTON:  I`m out of time.  But I have to ask you this, Rich.  Who has the

most to lose tonight?

GALEN:  I think probably Bush has the most to lose.  He`s been a little bit

rocky here in the last week or ten days.  But the guy that I think has the

most to gain and may well have the most to gain is John Kasich of Ohio who

got into this thing about a month ago.  Climbed over the seven people that

just had to debate at the 5:00 hour.  And I think as more people see him in

this kind of a mix-up with the other, you know, first and second-tier

candidates, they may say, well, that`s a guy I haven`t thought of before. 

So, I think he has got the bias upside potential. 

SHARPTON:  Cornell, Shira and Rich, thank you, all of you, for your time

tonight. 

GALEN:  Thank you.

BELCHER:  Thank you.

SHARPTON:  It is going to be interesting.  No doubt about it. 

Coming up, we`ll be back with the results from our online poll.  Who do you

think will win tonight?  Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON:  Earlier we asked who you think will win tonight`s main event. 

The results are in.  Forty five percent of you went with Donald Trump. 

Twenty five percent said Jeb Bush.  Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee both

tied with 10 percent apiece and Scott Walker and Ben Carson tied with five

percent each.  We`ll be right back with what these candidates are likely

doing in these final hours before the debate. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON:  Just a couple hours to go.  Time to sweat for these candidates

as they go through their final debate prep.  There will be people advising

them.  There will be the experts, the managers.  But none of them have to

go on that stage.  The one that I would predict breaks through tonight is

the ones that do not see the American people.  Do not see the voters in the

republican primaries as the back drop.  And only talk to their opponents or

talk to the media.  But the ones that talk to the American people, address

them.  Don`t treat the public like they`re peeking through your window

watching something as an impostor.  The one that treats the public like

they`re guests in your living room and you`re talking to them and it is

about them.  That`s the one that will break through. 

Thanks for watching.  I`m Al Sharpton.  A special two-hour edition of

"HARDBALL" starts right now. 

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

BE UPDATED.                                                                                                    

END

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