December 7, 2012
Guests: Dustin Lance Black; Richard Socarides; Hilda Solis, Bob Shrum,
Alicia Menendez, Gabrielle Douglas, Natalie Hawkins
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Thanks, Chris. And thanks to you
for tuning in.
We begin tonight with breaking news. For the first time the Supreme
Court will take up the issue of gay marriage. It`s a major step into the
one of the key civil rights issues of our time. The court announced today
it will rule whether a federal law denying benefits to same-sex spouses is
That`s part of the law from 1996, the defense of marriage act,
defining marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman. The court
also announced it will decide where the California`s "proposition 8," which
bans same-sex marriage, is constitutional. Voters in California passed
"prop 8" four years ago, but since then two courts have said it is
American`s views on this issue have shifted rapidly, to where the
majority of Americans now support same-sex marriage. The cases will be
heard in March, a ruling is expected in June. These decisions will have
you judge for fairness in this country. One reporter described this case
as the Roe Versus Wade of gay rights. And we would all be tracking it very
We have three special guests tonight. Joining me now is Richard
Socarides, a former White House adviser to former President Clinton and
former president of Equality Matters, a guy rights advocacy group. Dustin
Lance Black, LGBT activist and an Academy award-winning screenwriter of the
movie "Milk." He`s helped to lead the charge to overturn "proposition 8."
And Jonathan Capehart, opinion writer for "the Washington Post" and an
Let me first, thank you both for joining me tonight.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, OPINION WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Thanks, Rev.
SHARPTON: Richard, what does this mean for same-sex marriage? Are
you hopeful about how the Supreme Court will decide?
RICHARD SOCARIDES, FORMER ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, I think
it`s a very important day because we are beginning to see where the . What
they told us today is that they are ready to decide this issue. I know
that, you know, this is a legal thing and only in Supreme Court is it
important when they tell you that they are ready to decide. But, it was a
very significant moment. The Supreme Court said these are the cases that
we will take and we are ready to decide this issue. And because they are
ready to decide this issue and because the arc of history is so clear, I`m
very optimistic that they will decide in favor of an expansive view of
marriage rights for all Americans.
SHARPTON: Now Dustin, do you share that optimism and are you more
cautious and what happens if they decide yes on one and no on the other?
They took two shots at this.
DUSTIN LANCE BLACK, LGBT ACTIVIST: Well, I don`t think that`s what is
going to happen. You know, I think it`s very clear, especially after
November 6th, and seeing four states vote in favor of marriage equality to
see where the polls land today. To see where the arc of history is headed.
You know, the Supreme Court likes to be maybe two steps ahead, not
ten. But, they certainly don`t want to be behind the arc of history again
when it comes to civil rights and the quality of this nation. They`ve seen
that dark day in that court and they don`t want to see it again. I think
they know this is a can that can`t keep thinking. And I do think - I think
the American people wants equality and not just in California. And not
just state by state. I think we want to see a nation that`s no longer a
checkerboard nation. We want to see a nation where you`re free and your
family is protected no matter what state you live in.
SHARPTON: So, if the court decides in favor of guy marriage, this
will really mean that the state by state situation is over. This is will
make a national law. Explain the law to us, Richard.
SOCARIDES: Well, we don`t know what the court is going to decide.
SOCARIDES: But if the court rules in a broad sense in the
"proposition 8" case, it could mean that same-sex marriage had to be
eventually legal everywhere. There are options for more limited rulings.
For instance, if it just tackled the substantive issues, in the defense of
marriage that case, it would just mean that in the states where same-
something marriage is already legal that the federal government had to
But what this court was saying today was that they were going to look
at a range of options but they were going to look at all of these options
on the merits and that they were going to fully consider what it means to
be an American and what equality means for same-sex couples. So we are
very optimistic that in June we will have a ruling.
SHARPTON: What is the difference between these two cases? Why take
two cases? What is the legal issue that differs between the two cases that
the court will be looking at?
SOCARIDES: Well, the defense of marriage act is a federal statute
which says that the federal government cannot recognize valid marriages in
states that recognize same-sex marriages. And "proposition 8" is a law, a
California law, which says that only marriages between heterosexuals are
recognizable in California.
So the issue presented by the "California 8" case, if it`s decided
broadly -- that`s a big if - But, if it is decided broadly, could affect
every state because if what is good for California is good for all of the
other 49 states.
SHARPTON: Jonathan Capehart, I heard both Richard and Dustin very
optimistic. I was recently at the court and looked at that, of those nine
as I listened to the argument on the affirmative action, a case to hearing
right now about a month ago. In fact, it was eight because one has to
accused himself. When I look at that bench and I see judges there, do you
think that they go with the arc of the future? I mean, we are talking
about Scalia and Clarence Thomas, some judges that could be scary.
CAPEHART: Yes, they could be scary and they very well might be scary.
But the key justice in all of this is going to be Justice Kennedy. He is
the one who eloquently wrote in 2003 in the Lawrence (INAUDIBLE) Texas
case, saying that the dignity of guy men and lesbians should not be
trampled upon by the federal government and it was that ruling that set off
justice Scalia who said in 2003 that because of what the majority wrote in
that opinion, they are setting it up for legalization of same-sex marriage.
What could happen here, and one thing - the one thing that everyone to keep
in mind, Edith Windsor is legally married. She was legally married in
Canada. She lives in New York where marriage equality is legal. Her suit
against the United States isn`t asking to be legally married. It`s to have
the federal government recognize her legal marriage.
CAPEHART: Vis-a-vis the internal revenue service. Because when her
partner of 42 years died, she owed $363,000 in federal estate taxes that
she would not have to pay if her spouse had been a man.
SHARPTON: And that`s a great point because she was legally married in
Canada, lived in a state that marriage equality is legal. So we`re not
asking in this case for them to affirm the marriage. It`s just for them to
affirm where she is legally married that the federal government has to
respect that, Richard.
SOCARIDES: Yes, that`s true. But I think that the big picture we
want to emphasize today is that we are at the beginning of the end of this
SOCARIDES: And that these cases are perhaps among the most historic
that any of these justices will ever decide because they are defining right
before our very eyes what it means to be an American, what rights do you
have as an American and as you so eloquently said at the introduction to
this segment, this is what we are about. In June we are going to hear from
the Supreme Court what that means.
SHARPTON: Well, this is huge. Dustin, what we have seen is a
shifting of public opinion. Nine states with same-sex marriage already
legal in Iowa, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts,
Connecticut, and Washington State, going to be legal in 2013 in Maine and
Maryland and also Washington, D.C.
From late November, should same-sex marriage be recognized? In favor,
53 percent. Opposed, 46 percent. On and on showing the shift in America.
I know in 2003 when I first took a position, I get a much different
reaction now than before. Do you think this growth in public opinion
towards marriage equality is also something that the court now says we`re
ready to deal with this?
BLACK: No. I think so. And I want to talk a little bit about why we
are seeing that shift and it is cases like, you know, on the light with
what the "proposition 8" case. And one of the amazing things that happened
in it is that the opposition to guy marriage had to come into court and to
raise their right and to say, all the sort of lies and myths and
stereotypes. They usually say they are in ballot box initiative processes.
And we saw that under oath. Some of them refuse to testify. Some of them
we approved it was junk science in the case. And really, the arguments
fell apart. And one of the most notable things about the "proposition 8"
cases is so important to the Supreme Court. One of the most notable things
about it is that their one sole key witness opposing marriage equality has
come to our side and did not end up in favor of guy marriage now. What
happens when we tell our stories, when we share our stories who we really
are? We dismiss those myths and lies and stereotypes and I hope we get to
do that again at the U.S. Supreme Court very soon when we get to tell those
stories we change minds. People actually get to meet us and that`s the
power of the court. That`s why it`s so important that guy and lesbians use
the courts to tell our stories where we are protected by that oath to tell
the full truth.
SHARPTON: And Jonathan, young people -- I was startled at the numbers
when polled, 18 to 29-year-olds, 63 percent supported, about two-thirds,
and 35 percent oppose it. And I think that says a lot, Jonathan.
CAPEHART: Right. That means that, you know, for young people, the
people who follow us, this is not a big deal. They are sitting talking to
their friends wondering why, you know, the grownups cannot just get with it
and see that this is something that is a no-brainer. That this is a civil
rights issue that same-sex couples should have every right and
responsibility that comes with marriage but should also have the dignity
and acceptance that comes with that as well.
SHARPTON: Well, we`ll be watching this. This is historic and let`s
not forget those that paid a price to bring this to this point and all
three of you have been in that movement and certainly Harvey milk, because
of you, Dustin, should be remembered t today.
BLACK: That`s right. Thank you.
SHARPTON: Richard, Dustin and Jonathan. Thank you for all of your
time tonight. I hope to have you back on the show as we develop this.
Coming up, new signs President Obama`s winning the tax fight. News
today could strengthen his hand against speaker Boehner.
Plus, Karl Rove hasn`t learned a thing is since its infamous air
meltdown. Why is he questioning polls again?
And a very special guest is here with me tonight. We have a gold
medal winner onset. Gabby Douglas live in the studio. Her story of
struggle and sacrifice inspired a country.
You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.
SHARPTON: Have you joined the "Politics Nation" conversation on
facebook yet? We hope you will.
Today, our fans were buzzing over the newly released photo of the
president on the phone with Mitt Romney as he conceded to him on election
Evelyn says, the president was probably so glad it was over so that he
could get back to working for our country.
David says, he must have been elated and relieved.
Linda says, I know how he felt. So happy.
We want to hear your thoughts on this picture. And any other story
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the show ends.
SHARPTON: Republicans woke up to this headline today, the jobless
rate is at a four-year low, the lowest level since December 2008. Almost
four years ago when President Obama took office, we were in a job freefall.
But now 33 straight months of private sector job growth, five million new
jobs in the president`s first term. That includes the news today, 146,000
It`s good news for the economy and good news for the president. This
could only strengthen his hand in a standoff with speaker Boehner.
President Obama`s approval rating is at a three-year rate, 53 percent. And
53 percent say they trust President Obama to avoid the fiscal cliff,
compared to just 36 percent who trust Republicans in Congress.
Also today, speaker Boehner said he wouldn`t rule out an agreement to
raise taxes as part of a fiscal cliff deal. But he also said there`s no
progress. This is what winning looks like.
Joining me now is Hilda Solis, secretary of Labor and E.J. Dionne,
columnist for "the Washington Post" and an MSNBC contributor.
Thank you both for your time.
E.J. DIONNE, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Good to be with you.
HILDA SOLIS, U.S. SECRETARY OF LABOR: Thank you, Rev.
SHARPTON: Secretary Solis, let me go to you firs. The jobless rate
is at a four-year low despite all the obstruction. That`s quite an
SOLIS: Yes, Reverend. But you know, we still need to do more. We
saw growth in this jobs report in areas like retail, also in sectors like
health care and also tourism and hospitality. But, we need to do more
because we know that people are still suffering. We`ve got to put jobs
back in infrastructure construction and continue to put our teachers back
to work. So, we still have a lot of unfinished business. That`s why the
president is working so hard right now so that we don`t go off the fiscal
cliff and that we make sure that we really keep the most vulnerable people
from harm`s way. And that is making sure that 98 percent of those people
that make less $250,000 don`t get stock with the bill come January 2nd to
pay $2,200. So, we`ve got to talk about fairness here and I`m very excited
that the public is listening to the message that the president has made
very, very clear.
SHARPTON: One hundred forty six thousand new private sector jobs last
month but one of the things that you talk about is the public sector. The
president has proposed about $50 billion in infrastructure jobs which would
be the public sector which is where a lot of the most hit communities,
minorities and others are mostly working in and that`s the public sector
jobs, not the private sector. That`s why this is important, secretary
SOLIS: Absolutely. I think what we need to be mindful of also is
that there are many people that are going to be losing their unemployment
benefits at the end of the year, close to two million. If we don`t
continue that assistance to them, you`re also going to see another hit. We
can go right back into the recession because keep in mind, every $1 of UI
benefits, they goes in to the economy generates two additional dollars that
is out there helps the mom and pop stores to pay for whatever is necessary.
We can`t afford to go backwards. We have to move forward. And I
think that the public has a responsibility to contact their members of
Congress and Senate to say that they want to see something done right away
and to make sure that the most vulnerable individuals, specially the middle
class, is not held hostage to what the Republicans would like to see.
SHARPTON: E.J., let`s talk about the fiscal cliff negotiations and
the politics of it. How do these numbers effect, if you feel it effects at
all the ongoing negotiations?
DIONNE: First, I`m glad the numbers went in the right direction,
first and foremost, for the unemployed. But also, because I can imagine if
it had gone the other way, we would have heard from some of our
conservative friend that Obama cooked the pre-election numbers. Two, you
have a continuation of the trend if saw.
And second, I`m glad that secretary Solis underscored the importance
of not letting some good number low less into thinking that we don`t need
more push on this economy, particularly by extending those unemployment
benefit, also I think by extending the payroll tax holiday and other Europe
plus, some of the infrastructure stuff and that got to be part of the cliff
I think on balance, good number helped Obama because they keep pushing
that approval number up and that is something that the Republicans have to
deal with. And I think the Republicans are basically closed to throwing in
the towel on the rate increase. I think they know they can`t win that
pride. I think the next frontier is on these stimulus measures and also,
on making sure that the debt ceiling is extended for a long time because
the one thing that could hurt the economy even more than going off, I think
they are going off some curb or cliff or slope is if we had a repetition of
the debt ceiling battle that we had in 2011. I think the president, he is
going to hang tough on that. And I see absolutely sure.
SHARPTON: So in your view right now, you think that we`re past or
potentially past the tax reform question? It`s about not the stimulus
money and it is about the debt ceiling negotiation and stimulus money, as I
said to the secretary, is important because many communities are not
impacted by private sector job growth and need the public sector jobs that
the stimulus would bring.
DIONNE: Yes. I think that, you know, you can`t declare something
done until it`s done. But I think all of the signals you`re getting from
the Republicans is that they realize that the last thing they need to be
doing right now is to look like they are holding up middle class tax cuts
to protect tax cuts for the very wealthy. That`s not where they want to be
and somewhere deep inside they know that.
SHARPTON: Secretary Solis, no matter who they voted for, Americans
are clearly saying that they want compromise and even if it means accepting
policies they don`t necessarily agree with. Fifty nine percent of Obama
voters want compromise, 54 percent of Romney voters want come compromise.
You`ve told people they should call their congressman and senators.
SHARPTON: Should they tell them, let`s act like adults and work this
SOLIS: Absolutely. And I think that what is really most important is
that the public has spoken. We just got through an election and now is the
time for people to come together. The president has extended an olive
branch. He continues to do that and all of us are working day and night
until we get there. I know it`s in the best interest of our economy and
the world. Everyone is looking to the United States for leadership and
this president has exerted so much leadership, we need to continue that.
It`s not one party benefiting over another. It`s for all Americans to
benefit for our economy to repair itself and for us to get on with taking
care of the people that we represent.
SHARPTON: Now, John Boehner, E.J., some reports say he`s been
receiving a lot of is support from his caucus. Others are saying that some
of those in the tea party right of his party are still holding a lot of
strength and they`ve got to watch their back that they are not undermined
and given candidates in primaries against them as they go forward. What is
the state of the Republican Party and how will that impact these
DIONNE: Well, I think two things are true at the same time. The tea
party conservatives haven`t gone away. Some of them lost but most of them
got re-elected and so they are going to put pressure on Boehner. The talk
show host, particularly Rush Limbaugh, are going to be out there talking
negatively about Boehner if he makes a deal.
But I think the different between now and last year is the intervening
election as you said at the beginning of this segment. And I think, a lot
of Republicans know this is a different world. They can`t repeat the same
strategy that they repeated the last time and they seem to be giving
Boehner a lot more room to negotiate a deal on terms that would better for
Obama than anything they were letting him do in 2011.
So, I think he does have some room to make a deal, but he`s got to
throw out all of this resistance for a while and say I`m fighting hard in
order to appease some on the right. So, they don`t say he just threw in
the towel at the very beginning.
SHARPTON: SHARPTON: But, at the same time, secretary Solis, you said
earlier today in my radio show, you hope that they can come to terms by
Christmas so the people can feel free and go buy their Christmas gift and
show consumer confidence?
SOLIS: Right. And that`s absolutely true. We saw it in the last
jobs report. People in the retail industry, I mean, we were able to create
more jobs there. Also with tourism and hospitality. There is disposable
income that people are feeling good about spending. So, we need to keep
that momentum going. We need to extend the payroll tax. We need to extend
UI benefits. And also make sure that the infrastructure bill gets through,
but also making sure that the top two percent of those big wage earners
that make millions of dollars also pay their due so we can help provide
relief to everyone. Lord knows that we`ve seen the middle class suffer
through this economy for a couple of years now.
And I would lastly say to you that`s what really is important for
people to understand is that the Senate and the house has changed
dramatically. When we come back in January, you`re going to see new
members of the Senate and many are progressive and care about the middle
class and I think you`re going to see a different dynamic. So, it`s very
important that the public understand that.
SHARPTON: Secretary Solis and E.J. Dionne, thank you both for your
time tonight. Have a great weekend.
SOLIS: You, too. Thanks.
DIONNE: Hope you have a great weekend too. Thanks.
SHARPTON: Coming up, this just in, Republicans are trying to fire
John Boehner. He`s leading their talks with the president but they want
him out. We`ll have that story.
And how about this, a gold medal winner heads to "Politics Nation."
Gabby Douglas is here to share her story. You won`t want to miss this one.
SHARPTON: Need another seen that the GOP really didn`t learn its
lesson on election night? Tea Party hero Senator Jim DeMint is off to run
a Think Tank. So, let`s see what parts he`ll be imparting. On economic
policy, he believes the stimulus was a mugging, a fraud. His wisdom on
human rights, gays shouldn`t be allowed to teach. And gender studies,
let`s just say he was one of the first to stand with Todd Akin after his
legitimate rape comments and it turns out that the party didn`t even have a
problem with Akin`s comments even though they pretended to.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX), NRSC CHAIRMAN: The problem you acknowledge
which erupted last week was Todd Akin`s comments which, unfortunately, have
made him unelectable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: He`s unelectable, said Senator Cornyn. Only today we
learned that the senator`s committee quietly gave Mr. Akin $760,000 to
boost his campaign. And then there`s Mr. On air meltdown Rove.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Do you believe that Ohio has been settled?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: No, I don`t.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: So you`re not saying that Obama isn`t going to win,
but you`re just --
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I think this is premature. I don`t know what the
outcome is going to be but we`ve got to be careful about calling things
when you have like 991 votes separating the two candidates.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The polls were wrong, then, and he thinks that they are
wrong now. In a new Wall Street journal Op-Ed -- conducted for the GOP
house leadership that refutes the bleep Americans want to tax the wealthy.
How did that whole polling thing work out for him last time? It looks like
the lost of boys are still lost.
Joining me now is Bob Shrum, senior advisor to the Kerry and Gore
campaign and now a professor at NYU. And Alicia Menendez, host and
producer for HuffPost live. Thank you both for coming on the show tonight.
BOB SHRUM, PROFESSOR, NYU: Glad to be here, Rev.
SHARPTON: Bob, what will it take for this party to learn the lessons
of this election?
SHRUM: Well, they`ve got to get past the immediate crisis in terms of
the fiscal cliff. The one thing that`s true no matter what Rove says about
these polls is the top rate tax cuts are as gone as Ohio was when he was
formulating way on television. John Boehner is going to have to sound like
he`s resistant, sound like he`s putting up a fight but at the end of the
day he`s going to have to make a deal largely on the President`s term.
And then we`re going to go by the way, Rev, we`re going to go on to
the debt ceiling and if the Republican Party in the house crashes this
economy and crashes the markets by refusing to extend the debt ceiling, A,
the business community will go nuts. They`re going to have a hard time
funding themselves in 2014. And, B, this will become the party of
recession, tax rates for the top, hating Social Security, and hating
Medicare. That`s a recipe for long-term political irrelevance.
SHARPTON: Now, Alicia, let me give you a news flash that came in.
Conservative blogger Erick Erickson is up with a petition to have john
Boehner fired as House Speaker do to his budget offer. It says, quote,
"Speaker Boehner is undercutting conservative principles by putting forth a
liberal compromise of raising taxes or closing loopholes on our nation`s
job creators. Coupled with only $600 billion in spending cuts. This will
hardly put a dent in our national debt and will likely put America in
recession." He`s put a petition up. Now, this comes on the heels of Rush
Limbaugh saying the GOP has given in on the tax issue. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The Republicans are just giving
in. They have compromised, what have you, on the premise that raising
taxes on the rich will fix the problem. It was weak. The Republicans have
conceded the language.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, Limbaugh going out, millions of people listening to
him and now this petition by Erickson, does this put a lot of pressure on
some of the people in Boehner`s caucus to be more difficult, let`s say, for
him to handle than it would have been?
ALICIA MENENDEZ, HUFFPOST LIVE: I don`t know that it could be any
more difficult to handle than it may have already been. But listen, I
think this mean started when he kicked four different members of this
caucus out of their leadership positions on important finance committees.
Even then, he would not have taken those four people out of leadership if
he didn`t think that he could keep his caucus in tax. So, I think he`s
known that he`s doing all along.
And as Bob said, I think he knows that he`s balancing competing
interest. Yes, there is this Tea Party component of the caucus. There are
also, a lot of conservatives who got the memo coming out of the election
and want to be able to compromise with the White House. So, he`s trying to
keep both of them happy at the same time. They`re not going to throw him
out. I mean, disarray on the caucus is bad for the caucus.
SHARPTON: I don`t know that they are going to throw him out but, Bob,
can they put enough pressure to make it more difficult which makes him
take positions that are harder to arrive at a compromise with trying to
move the country forward?
SHRUM: Sure. And look, I wrote about it in the Daily Beast and you
and I talk about it months ago, there`s a civil war now raging in the
SHRUM: It`s going to get worse and worse. But the question is
whether or not they want to go over the political cliff this month and on
the debt ceiling. If they do not, but first of all, the top tax rates are
going up. That period, the President it`s going to happen on January 1st.
Let`s say they don`t make a deal. The President then comes back and says,
OK, I propose to cut taxes for the middle class. They are going to vote
They are going to become the party of higher taxes for the middle
class? Then I think they are going to say -- and I can`t believe this is
the essence of their position, they`re going to say, well, we might make a
deal with you if you really cut Medicare deeply. That was Senator Bob
Corker`s phrase on Meet the Press last week. What kind of political
positioning is this? These people are talking about rebranding themselves
to make themselves acceptable to the American people? This makes them
alien to the American people. Maybe they didn`t notice. There was an
election, they was. Obama won and he`s going to win again on this stuff.
SHARPTON: I`ve been trying to tell them every night. But last night,
Senator DeMint was on FOX and he says, he`ll have more power out of the
Senate than he did in. Now watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: This is a dream job for me. And it`s critically
important. I don`t think Republicans will win another national election
unless conservatives first convince Americans that our principles work. I
think I`m in a more powerful position than a single United States senator.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MENENDEZ: Being in the minority is no fun but that`s a pretty
pathetic statement about what it means to be in the minority. The thing
that surprises me about DeMint choosing to do this now is we know
immigration is going to be one of the first things that the House and
Senate tackle this coming year. He was a big player in 2007 pushing back
against Bush effort for bipartisan reform. Even in 2010, we know he was
talking about immigration, he was talking about building a 700-mile long,
you know, wall along our south border. Like I`m not certain why he would
choose this moment to stop away.
SHARPTON: I`ve got to leave it there, Bob Shrum and Alicia Menendez.
Thank you both for your time tonight. Have a great weekend.
SHRUM: You, too.
MENENDEZ: You too.
SHARPTON: She jumped into our hearts at the London games and now
she`s writing all about it on how she got there. Gold medal winner Gabby
Douglas is here. She might even tell us about her meeting with President
SHARPTON: It`s just a normal day around here at POLITICS NATION.
Some breaking news, some politics. A gold medal winner, Olympic champion
Gabby Douglas is here next.
SHARPTON: What a year it`s been for Olympic gold gymnast Gabrielle
Douglas. Just four months ago, she vaulted into our hearts winning gold at
the London games. She`s the first African-American woman to ever win a
gold medal in the Olympics all around gymnastics competition. She`s also
the first U.S. gymnast ever to receive the individual all-around gold and
team gold medals in a single Olympics game. But her path to stardom and
superstardom wasn`t always smooth. In her 16 years, she`s had to deal with
homelessness, racism, and bullying while fighting to achieve her dream.
Now she shares her incredible story in a book entitled "Grace, Gold &
It`s a pleasure to welcome Gabrielle Douglas and her mother Natalie
Hawkins to POLITICS NATION. Thanks to both of you for being here tonight.
GABRIELLE DOUGLAS, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: Thank you. Thank you for
NATALIE HAWKINS, MOTHER OF GABRIELLE DOUGLAS: Thanks for having us.
SHARPTON: No, you know you won all of the world`s hearts four months
ago. I want to ask you, what was going through your head when you won that
night. I mean, everyone was watching but what were you thinking about?
DOUGLAS: I was thinking about all of the sacrifices me and my family
put into this and it was all worth that it just overcoming injuries and
being homeless at one point and all of the struggles that we faced. I was
thinking it was so worth it and the glory goes up to God because he has
given me this amazing talent to represent him and represent -- at the same
time, too, so a lot of emotions were going just -- I was happy, I was
crying and just thinking about -- just being a blessing on other people
because they have given me so much so, just yes. I was very excited just
being on the podium.
SHARPTON: Now, Gabrielle, I read through your book and you talk about
your mother had to bring you by herself, you had to go through a lot of
things that I grew up in a single parent home on welfare. My mother just
passed. And the story that you tell of the determination your mother had,
I think it will strengthen a lot of people and that you didn`t have an easy
path. You almost gave up before going to the games. Tell us about that.
DOUGLAS: Yes. One day my mom was driving me to the gym and I typed
up a text message for her --
SHARPTON: Why did you type up the text message?
DOUGLAS: My mom was a visualization person, she likes to just look at
it and just process it in her head and say, OK. So, I did that and it
basically said that I don`t have the passion for gymnastics anymore. I
want to join like track, field and I wanted to work at fast-food and
restaurant. So, I gave her the message and she was heartbroken. I mean,
she didn`t want me to come home as a quitter and watch the Olympics from a
TV screen and regret that I wish I would have been there but I was very
homesick. They came to Iowa for Christmas and --
SHARPTON: That`s where you were training?
DOUGLAS: Iowa, yes, is where I`m training. And it was all said and
done, Christmas was over, they were packing up and going back to Virginia
and I wanted to go with them and I wanted to quit and give up the sport
because I was very homesick.
SHARPTON: Now, Natalie, your daughter, she worked hard, had this
dream, and you struggled, went through all kinds of stuff to help get her
where she could have a shot at this dream. Yet it had to hurt you that she
was away from home. What gave you the strength to keep pushing her.
HAWKINS: I knew she had a love and passion for the sport and I knew
she had a dream. And so, the days, you know, that I would go through where
I felt in my heart was breaking, I would think, you know, she`s doing what
she loves and something that was important to me was to help each one of my
children, you know, accomplish their dreams and to nurture their
ambitions. And so, you know, it was hard but I knew that that was where
she wanted to be and I couldn`t be selfish. I had to let her go and let
her, you know, give it everything she had.
SHARPTON: Great athletes, Gabrielle, have to go past their
experiences, the term is play passion and pain, you writing a book a lot of
pain about your father. And I went through that in my life and I`m a
little couple years older than you and still dealing with it. Tell us
DOUGLAS: Yes. I wrote about him in the book and our relationship is
not very good right now. It`s kind of distant. And he was just basically
wasn`t there for me. I mean, he wasn`t in the picture. So I hope when he
takes from the book "Grace, Gold & Glory," he`ll get how I felt and we can
build a better and stronger relationship in the future.
SHARPTON: What do you hope people would walk away from the book? You
set with these gold medals in front of you, assured that your spot in
history known all over the world. But what do you hope somebody who reads
this book "Grace, Gold & Glory" by Gabrielle, what do you hope when they
close the book, they close with?
DOUGLAS: I hope they will take with my book, "Grace, Gold and Glory"
as to be inspired and motivated. And I want them to know, if you`re going
through struggles and difficulties, I want them to know that you can still
achieve your dreams and I want to relate to everyone out there and to tell
them no matter what nationality you are, no matter what color of skin or it
doesn`t matter how much money you have, that if you just trust and believe
yourself 100 percent, you can get there.
SHARPTON: What was the key to you winning? Would keep your focus,
you went through bullying and all kinds of different things at a very young
age. How did you keep focus? What kept you on the straight and narrow?
DOUGLAS: I think that was my motivation, just go to -- and facing,
you know, bullying or being money was tight at one point and overcoming
injuries, I think that was my motivation, was to accomplish my dream and
just tell everyone that you really can do it and I wanted to go to London
and inspire young girls or everyone, just to tell them that I went through
a lot of struggles. It wasn`t easy. It was hard. And I want them to know
that you can still achieve your dreams.
SHARPTON: Natalie, I said to her -- I raised the question, what was
going through her head. But all of the praying and struggling you went
through, what were you thinking about in London when you saw your daughter
literally walk into history?
HAWKINS: I was elated, of course. But what`s going through my head,
again, just kind of like what she said. It was all of the years of
struggling, all of the years of wondering how we were going to make it, not
being able to be there when she was away and she was, you know, going
through an injury and I couldn`t be there to help nurse her through it.
And so I just thought in that moment, it was all worth it because when we
were going through it, it didn`t seem worth it and there was no guarantee
that anything would pay off. But in that moment I just -- I was in awe,
SHARPTON: Another product of a single parent home, you met the
president of the United States, President Obama. Tell us about how you
felt on that occasion.
DOUGLAS: Oh, he is a very nice man and he`s just so down to earth. I
remember we all walked into the Oval Office and we were just like standing
like this and he was just like, no, just stand -- you don`t have to stand
like that. We were like, OK, and we just started talking to him. And he
gave us presidential M&Ms and it was fun. I mean, we got to visit the
bakery shop and we got to go to the flower shop. And it was such a fun
SHARPTON: Now, I understand you like reading, you like studying.
What do you do other than gymnastics? What are your interests?
DOUGLAS: Just relaxing and chilling out because I`m in the gym 24/7
and when I`m in the gym it`s like really high intensity workout so when I
come home I just want to relax and chill out.
SHARPTON: So is she obsessed with the gym? Is she a normal child
outside of the gym, Nat?
HAWKINS: She`s a normal child outside of the gym but she still does
gymnastics, though. She`s always, you know, trying to do a cartwheel or
jumping on something. I don`t think that will probably ever change. But
she`s a normal kid for the most part.
SHARPTON: Let me take a break. Is there another Olympics in Gabby`s
future? Stay with us. We`ll be right back.
SHARPTON: Excuse me. Gabrielle and I were doing cartwheels during
the break. We`re back with gold medalist Gabrielle Douglas and her mother
Natalie Hawkins. Gabrielle, everyone wants to know, are you going for the
second gold in 2016?
DOUGLAS: Definitely. I hope to make the gymnastics team and go to
Rio and I think it will be fun to attend two Olympic games and along my
gymnastics trainer, like I`m very excited to get back into training and
learning new skills and getting like a whole new difference -- of a floor
routine and just going to more international assignments or more world
SHARPTON: So where you go as 2016, where do you ultimately want to go
in life? What is your goal past all of the gold medals and all, Gab, have
you thought about that?
DOUGLAS: I think -- I really want to be an actress.
SHARPTON: What type of actress? Who do you admire, by the way, in
the acting field?
DOUGLAS: I admire them all. They`re really good actress.
SHARPTON: You`re a good politician, too. You admire them all.
That`s right. Get them all on your side. Make them all buy your book.
DOUGLAS: Do you feel that you now in your new celebrity, in your new
stardom, do you feel that young teenagers of all races around the world
look up to you? Do you feel that responsibility?
SHARPTON: I mean, definitely. They all look up to me and I get
tweets about people saying, she got started because of you. I mean, even
guys, they said, I got started in track and I`m ready to take on track
season. I`m so motivated. And I`m just so happy because the one thing I
wanted to do to go to the Olympics was to inspire young girls and everyone.
So, I am happy to be in this position right now to be a role model.
SHARPTON: Gabrielle Douglas, and that you are.
DOUGLAS: Thank you.
SHARPTON: And Natalie Hawkins. The book is called "Grace, Gold &
Glory," on sale now. Good luck with them and thank you for your time
tonight. Thank you, Natalie. My mother told me, life is not about where
you start. It`s where you go. You took a gold and brought it to the gold.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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