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PoliticsNation, Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Read the transcript from the Thusday show

February 21, 2013

Guests: Angela Rye, Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, Jonathan Capehart, Sampson Davis

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Thanks, Chris. And thanks to you
for tuning in. I`m live from Washington.

Tonight`s lead, winning the argument. New polls show the American
people support the president, not Republicans, on the major issues of our
time, including the fundamental questions of fairness and equality in our

Today, on my radio show, I talked to the president about the GOP`s refusal
to stop disastrous spending cuts set to kick in next week, even though
Republicans themselves admit those cuts would hurt our economy and endanger
our national security. Take a listen.


SHARPTON: You have really been strongly saying that we`ve got to
overt where this is going. What can listeners around the country do to
deal with this pending crisis? We are looking at eight days from now a
major problem if we can`t turn it around.

haven` been paying as close attention to this. Basically, what happened is
yes, the Republicans, back in 2011, threatened to default on the government
paying its bills, unless we instituted a deficit reduction plan of $1.2
trillion. And what the deal was, the cuts were going to be so harmful that
Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill would come together to find a
more sensible way to reduce the deficit, both with tax revenue and with
spending cuts.

Obviously, Congress has not been able to make such progress. The
Republicans have said they don`t want to do anymore revenue, even if it`s
just a matter of closing tax loopholes for some of the wealthiest Americans
and well-connected corporations in the country.

And so, the danger is, is that this will weaken the recovery. We will
see hundreds of thousands of people on furlough, potentially losing their
jobs. We can see mental health services affected. Head start slots taken

At this point, you know, we continue to reach out to the Republicans
and say this is not guilty not going to be good for the economy and not
good for the ordinary people. But, I don`t know if they`re going to move
and that what we are going to have to try to keep pushing over the next
seven, eight days.

So I think, for the public just to know that this will have a serious
effect on the overall economy, as well as on individuals who rely on head
start for child care for their kids or mental health services for somebody
in their family. It`s going to have an impact on a family cut back for
things like meat inspectors or folks at our airports, which means that
airport lines may be longer. That those are all going to be significant
impacts. Everybody is going to feel them. Whether or not we can move
Republicans at this point to do the right thing is what we`re still trying
to gauge.


SHARPTON: Significant cuts. Everybody`s going to feel them. Head
start, mental health, food safety, airports, our military. All of that is
at risk because Republicans refuse to close tax breaks for corporations and
the rich.

This is what the election was all about. And it`s clear whose side
the American people were on. A new Poll shows that 55 percent of Americans
approve of the job that the president is doing. That`s a three-year high.
But just 35 percent approve of the Republican Party. That`s a three-year
low. The clock is ticking. We are just three years away for massive cuts
that will cost hundreds of thousands of jobs.

The president is fighting for jobs. What are the Republicans fighting

Joining me now, Richard Wolffe and Joe Madison who had his own radio
interview with the president today.

Joe, the president has a compelling case on these spending cuts. I
mean, how can Republicans just standby and let them happen?

to happen is you`re going to see a gamesmanship here. Let`s take national
security. Usually, Republicans were very strong on national security, and
that is what part of the game was. There`s no way that they would allow
national security to become an issue as it relates to budget cuts.

But, imagine they let us go over this cliff and then the republicans
come back and then introduce a bill calling for those funds to be
reinstated. Now what happens? Democrats may end up looking like, if
they`re against it, like they`re soft on defense. So, there are some
gamesmanship here.

But, let me also point out --

SHARPTON: So they want to let it go down.

MADISON: Let it go down.

SHARPTON: And then come back with the bill and make them look like
the Democrats anti-defense when, in fact, they let it go down with the
sequester which is why they were put there in the first place figure it was
so disastrous, they wouldn`t dare do that to the national security.

MADISON: And then, we have also, and something else the president
said in my interview. I don`t know if he mentioned it to you. But, he
said, look, the federal government, it`s not just about bureaucrats and
federal employees. This is about the fact that the United States
government buys everything from toilet paper to saran wrap. I mean, they
buy a lot of things. And that means that the small businessmen and women
will not be able to sell their products to the United States government.

And we say meat inspectors. OK. So we think inspector here,
inspector there. But hold on. You can`t put meat on the shelves if
they`re not inspected. And then, what happens is there`s a shortage. And
what happened to all of us? The price of meat goes up.

SHARPTON: And those of us already suffering, it even inflates that
because the prices go up.

MADISON: That`s right.

SHARPTON: Richard Wolffe, Karl Rove, in a column about the GOP`s
disarray on the spending cuts. He is all over the place. He says
congressional Republicans, a simultaneously united, divided and confused.
While most House Republicans worry that defense cuts will harm national
security, a minority welcomes them.

I mean, even Karl Rove is saying there`s no unity in terms of the
Republicans on this view because this can be extremely dangerous for them.
And the polls are saying, it is already dangerous to them politically.

if you`re united and divided, you probably not united in the first place.
You are just divided, right?

SHARPTON: I would - I guess you are right on that, Richard.

WOLFFE: So Karl Rove knows where the politics is on this one. There
are also principles, call as Republicans by the way. You know, the hard
core, ideological extremist in the party, thing that he, Karl Rove, is too
moderate and is interested in this weird thing called elective voting.

And you know, to a degree, he is. He has to play both sides of the
party just like John Boehner, just like his boss, President Bush, and they
can read what`s written on the wall here. They will make themselves feel
strong. They`re going up against the president. That they`re tough about
spending cuts, but you do not make up the deficit in the polls. This kind
of scenario, every day, every week, there will be those furlough letters
going out. So even before we get to meet not getting on the shelves in
supermarket, there are going to be bad stories about government workers,
not generic government workers, but fire fighters, people trying to raise
their families, go out, do an honest day`s work. They`re going to be the
story, not tax cuts, or the president against John Boehner.

SHARPTON: But you see, Joe, this is what the election was all about.
And I raise this to the president on my radio show today. Why would the
Republicans even risk this or even do this to the American people when the
election is over. They cannot vote him out. He won`t be running again.
And listen to what his answer was to me.


SHARPTON: In reading Mr. Boehner`s op-ed piece in "the Washington
Journal," yesterday, it seems they understand the impact. I don`t
understand why anyone would even risk this when it will impact so many
people across economic lines, racial lines, party lines. I mean, it`s just
going to be something that hits everybody.

OBAMA: Well, my sense is that their basic view is that nothing is
important enough to raise taxes on wealthy individuals or corporations.
And they would prefer to see these kinds of cuts that could slow down a
recovery over closing tax loopholes. And that`s the thing that binds their
party together at this point. This is a major argument obviously. We have
been having for the last three years.

I`ll tell you, Al, you know, when you look at polling, 75 percent of
the American people agree with me. That the way to reduce to our deficit
sensibly is through a combination of spending cuts and tax revenue and if
we spread that out over several years, it wouldn`t have a bad effect on our
economy. It in fact, could strengthen our economy by outing us on a more
stable financial footing.

Unfortunately, I think Republicans, right now, have been so dug in on
this notion of never raising taxes. That it becomes difficult for them to
see an obvious answer right in front of them.


SHARPTON: You know, Joe, later this afternoon, the president met with
the 12 of us that lead civil rights organization, me leading national
action network. And people could not understand this.

We are talking about loopholes for private jets, loopholes for yachts.
They don`t want to close. They would rather keep them there, those
loopholes, than to make sure we don`t lose these things that people keep
every day. I mean, absolutely unthinkable.

MADISON: As I was listening to him, this is one of the most decent
human beings that I think I`ve ever met in politics.

Look, the bottom line is they want to impact his legacy in one of the
worst ways. And here, they are still going after him. And I think this
goes beyond the politics, the sensibleness that we`re talking about.

Look. I had a guy today, actually tell me on my show oh, I don`t mind
giving up a few dollars furlough. I said how much would you have to give
up? He said $20,000. And I said you don`t mind giving up $20,000? And
then he thought about it.

The bottom line is he so dislikes the concept of this man being
president that his subconscious told him I`ll give up $20,000 if it means,
somehow, embarrassing this president. I think they`re more concerned about
how history will judge this president than they really are about today and
the impact that this austerity is going to have on all of us, including
their mothers and grandmothers and everyone else.

SHARPTON: Well, we`ll have to leave it there. But, let me give a
news flash to all of them.

President Obama and his family will be fine. He will be president.
He will hopefully go to the Obama library. It is regular, working people.
It is your grandmother, my relatives, your children, people that will work
every day that will suffer. At some point, we have got to put the politics
and the bickering aside. People should not have to suffer to make cheap
political points.

Richie Wolf, Joe Madison, thank you for your time tonight.

WOLFFE: Thank you, Rev.

MADISON: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, honoring the legacy of Rosa Parks. What the
president told me about this and about his fight to finish the struggle for
civil rights.

Plus, you won`t believe what the GOP`s last savior, the latest savior,
Ted Cruz is saying about President Obama. He`s totally crossing the line.

And look out, (INAUDIBLE), Rush Limbaugh`s quote "ashamed of America."
Folks, he may have finally lost it.

Big show, tonight on MSNBC. Stay with us.


SHARPTON: Have you joined the "Politics Nation" conversation on
facebook yet? We hope you will.

Today, folks were wishing Congressman John Lewis a happy birthday.
He`s 73 years young.

John says happy birthday to a true hero and a gentleman. We need more
like you.

Ali says you make me proud to be from Georgia.

Reginald says I appreciate all you`ve done and continue to do for
civil rights.

Later in the show, find out what President Obama said about Rosa Parks
in my interview with him today.

But, first, we want to hear what you think. Please head over to
facebook and search "Politics nation" and like us to join the conversation
that keeps going long after the show ends.



OBAMA: We have always understood that when times change, so must we.
Progress does not compel us to settle century`s long debates about the role
of government for all time. But it does require us to act in our time.


SHARPTON: On issue after issue, President Obama and the American
people are in agreement. And he`s been selling his message in interviews
around the country.


OBAMA: I want to make sure that we have a pathway to citizenship.
That is earned by folks that are here undocumented here currently, what we
propose are universal background checks to make sure that when you
purchased a gun, you`re not somebody who`s got a felony. I think same-sex
couples should have rights and be treated like everybody else.


SHARPTON: A new poll shows the side with the American president on
his second term agenda. On immigration, they support his policies by 17
points over the Republicans. On climate change, they support him by 21
points. On raising the minimum wage, 45 point. And even on the
contentious issue of gun control, he still holds a six-point an advantage
over the GOP. The president is ready to do the will of the American
people. The time is now.


OBAMA: Remind people don`t want to spend all their time on talking
about elections. They want us to do some work. Now is a good time for us
to get some things done.


SHARPTON: It is time to get some things done. Republicans need to
open their ears and listen to the American people.

Joining me now, Joan Walsh and Angela Rye.

Angela, how can Republicans be so disconnect from the will of the
American people?

that when folks really focus on winning elections and not think about what
is really needed to represent people, you know. You lose sight of what`s
most important.

Public service is just that. It is about knowing what that public
needs and not necessarily giving them what they want.

We have seen this in times of the past. We have seen it with
segregation. We have seen in with interracial marriage. We`ve seen it
throughout time. And sometimes you have to help folks to see what really
matters and how to move them ahead on issues that they may be uncomfortable
with. And what we are seeing now is that the American public has shifted.
They moved but the party is still the same, because they are still focused
just on winning elections.

SHARPTON: But you know, Joan, in Angela`s point, she raised some of
those issues. So many of them were contentious, some of them were the
majority, but slightly. But when you look at minimum wage, Joan, 71
percent of Americans want to see minimum wage increase, 71 percent. How
can the GOP oppose 71 percent of the country?

know, the president won election nationwide. And these polls are national,
but increasing what you have is really like two nations where you have
these red states and you have these red districts and you have house
gerrymandering so that all of these -- many of these Republican legislators
think about is their next election, as Angela said, and a primary challenge
from the right.

And I think we have to understand that they really think that they are
doing the right thing for their constituencies because the right thing is
defeating Barack Obama. They could not keep him to being a one term
president as was their goal. So they`re really going to restrict his
legacy. They are going to try to make it harder for him to solve the
problems that nationwide, we want him to solve and that his ideas to solve.

But this is a kind of success on their very limited red state terms.
I think we have to acknowledge that. It`s not about nationwide reasoning
or logic. It`s about pure, backwards looking politics.

SHARPTON: Now, backward politics, Angela, you worked on "the Hill."
You were very involved in a lot of the congressional meetings in handling
things. Take me inside a Republican caucus. Take me inside. What happens
in these caucuses that they are so removed from reality in the street? I
mean, I don`t understand and I don`t think the viewers do, the culture of
what goes on in these caucuses that make them come out and vote this way.

RYE: Sure. I think, again, when you talk about being inside the
beltway, you can get so insular that you lose side of what matters. And
again, what is most important for the message.

So, with the Republican conference, thank God I never had to be in a
meeting, I`m not exactly sure. But what I can say is when you look at the
polling results for tonight, I`m sure that tomorrow, someone is going to
have some way to justify that these polling results are not legitimate in
some way, shape or form. They will continue to argue this results the way
and say, you know, well that is not representative of what our base thinks.
But again, when you look t folks are saying now, there are 22 percent of
the American people who say, they identify as Republican Party members.

There are others that have shift today be more conservative and are
now independent. But at the end of the day, their base is shifting. So,
they can either shift with their base based on what these polling results
say. Or they can continue to be in those insular, inside the beltway,
Republican conference meetings that are not off base.

SHARPTON: And Joan, that is why you said they are not worried about a
national message. They are looking at their districts, some of which have
been gerrymandered. So, even if the national polls say 70 percent want
minimum wage, they`re saying, yes, but my district is not saying that. My
district is extreme. And I suppose that is why the president and those
that agree with him, are trying to tell the American people, even in their
base, this is not about somebody else is not going to suffer. You`re going
to suffer where you are even in conservative districts if we cannot stop
this sequester.

WALSH: Well, right, Reverend Al. And you and I have talked about
this before. There is a long tradition or at least a 40 or 50 year-
tradition now of why working class people is voting against what people
would id in their economic self-interest because they have come to believe
that government helps other people and not them.

But when you get down to these cuts, there, you know, there is a way
for the president and for Democrats and for reasonable people to reach over
these leaders and make clear what they`re going to do to all Americans
particularly working class and poor Americans.

And I think that`s what the president is doing, hoping that the more
he talks and the wider he has message goes, he can reach people who, maybe
coming around, to see there is a problem party has no solutions for their
problem. But they cling to it because it has represented something else in
the pass.

SHARPTON: Well, Angela, if the American people understand you`re
talking about meat inspectors not being there, which is going to increase
your meat, not Republican mean, not Democratic meat, not left meat, not
right meat, that you`re going to have long lines at the airport, not the
Republican airlines or the Democratic airlines. The people understand the
people will suffer because they don`t want to close loopholes on private
jets and yachts. Then it`s a little different than whether you are a tea
party or Democratic Party. And I think, it is only eight days, but people
need to understand, this is serious across all lives.

RYE: Yes, if you were never going to vote. It is you interest
before, now is the time to vote your interest because they are your
neighbor`s interest. This absolutely will directly impact you from Social
Security to education programs.

SHARPTON: And when you go to the supermarket, they`re not going to
ask for your id and your party affiliation. They go say, meat went up.

Joan Walsh, Angela Rye, thank you for your time.

WALSH: Thank you, Rev.

RYE: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, the new darling of the tea party, Ted Cruz
makes some outrageous comments about President Obama. You will want to
hear this.

Plus, more from my interview with the president. His thoughts on Rosa
Parks` legacy and the continuing struggle for civil rights.


SHARPTON: It`s been a tough couple of months for Mitt Romney. It`s
been tough to be Mitt Romney. I mean, look at this. This happened.


OBAMA: Thank you, America. God bless you.


God bless the United States.


SHARPTON: That show wasn`t easy on Willard. But President Obama
wasn`t the only one that Romney wanted to be out of a job. Remember this?


subsidy to PBS. I`m going to stop all the things -- I like PBS. I love
big bird. I actually like you, too. But I`m not going to keep on spending
money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it.


SHARPTON: Romney wanted to fire big bird. And he talked about him on
the campaign trail all of the time.


ROMNEY: (INAUDIBLE). I`m not going to kill big bird, I promise.


SHARPTON: It was apparently a big priority for the Romney campaign.
So this video must be very painful for Mitt to watch.


MICHELLE OBAMA, U.S. FIRST LADY: Hi, we`re here in the White House
kitchen looking for a healthy snack to eat.


SHARPTON: Not only did big bird keep his job, he made it all the way
to the White House. The giant yellow bird is helping the First Lady
promote healthy eating and staying active in her Let`s Move campaign. And
his words must really ruffle Mitt`s feathers.


BIG BIRD: And now I`m dancing.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Good for you, Big Bird.


SHARPTON: Big Bird is dancing in the White House. Certainly seems
like November was a long time ago. This segment was brought to you by the
letters O and R and by the number 47, percent that is. We`ll be right


SHARPTON: Big news tonight. The Republican Party has a new savior.
Not Marco Rubio, forget that guy. That`s better. Their latest savior is
Ted Cruz. The right has gone crazy for him. Former Senator Jim DeMint,
the man who promised to make health care President Obama`s waterloo, rights
that Cruz deserve cheers.

He`s a true leader who gives Americans a reason to hope. Wow,
flattery will get you everywhere. And then there`s these guys.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Ted Cruz, the new senator from

He is fearless. He doesn`t make excuses. He`s not defensive in any
way at all. It`s a pleasure to hear him. And when you hear Ted Cruz,
you`re wondering, what happened? Why aren`t there more?

GLENN BECK, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: We`ve got to have people understand
what we`re facing and Ted is one of those guys.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: And Ted Cruz, I`ve seen him speak and he is
spellbinding. He really is. He`s just a tremendous order.


SHARPTON: Tremendous, spellbinding, actually that spellbinding is
that today cruise was one of the 15 GOP senators who asked President Obama
to drop Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense. And he says things like this.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I think President Obama is the most radical
President we`ve ever seen. But I think an awful lot of Republicans fail to
stand for principle and contributed to getting us in this mess.


SHARPTON: President Obama is the most radical President we`ve ever
seen? Good luck on that rebranding Republicans.

Joining me now is Victoria DeFrancesco Soto and Jonathan Capehart.
Jonathan, is Ted Cruz the right`s idea of change?

right now. I mean, ever since Mitt Romney was the republican nominee for
president and every since they`ve loss, they`ve looked for someone to be
their standard bearer. First, we`ve talked about Congressman Paul Ryan was
the Vice Presidential nominee, then we moved onto Chris Christie, then we
moved on to as you noted the savior Marco Rubio.

And now everyone is focused on Ted Cruz because Ted Cruz has made some
impertinent comments, Hagel hearings and he`s been sort of the bull in the
China shop among Republicans, but also Democrats. And, you know, my
colleagues at "The Washington Post" had a column on him for -- at the times
had a column on him, there are stories, new stories in the Washington Post
and New York Times, the mainstream media piling on Ted Cruz. And so,
that`s why you had Jim DeMint going after --

SHARPTON: Wait a minute. I understand all the mainstream media. I`m
in D.C.


SHARPTON: But the man called the president the most radical president
in history. I mean, what are we talking about here?

CAPEHART: Well, what we`re talking about is a man who is playing to
the base. That kind of talk as we learned during the 2012 presidential
campaign, is something that the Republican Party, the base of the
Republican Party, loves, they love someone to talk to him.

SHARPTON: Victoria, you`re in Texas. You Know Cruz, what is
happening here? I mean, the stuff he`s saying is absolutely demagoguing as
far as I`m concerned.

Ted Cruz oozes this Texas swagger, this feistiness that the Tea Party finds
irresistible. He`s like the general in this Tea Party militia. And I
think Ted Cruz is going to be somebody that is going to be around for a
while on that conservative movement. But I actually think that the more
silent type is the one that`s really going to have an impact in maybe a
third party movement and the real split in the GOP.

I see Rand Paul, Rand Paul is not -- doesn`t have that swagger that
Ted Cruz does, but he`s got Papa Paul`s political establishment. And that
establishment goes back to the Reagan years to when Rand Paul is
campaigning for Reagan in the `70s. So I think in terms of a real split,
what`s going to be durable, not just a flash in a pan, Ted Cruz is hot
right now, and I think it`s going to be the Paul establishment.

SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you this question, Jonathan. It is very
clear that this sequester is a threat to a lot of people. Hundreds of
thousands of people facing furlough or job loss. Yet, Rush Limbaugh was
talking about the sequester this afternoon and said he was ashamed about
being misled of what he calls a manufactured crisis. Listen to this.


LIMBAUGH: For the first time in my life, I am ashamed of my country.
To be watching all of this, to be treated to have my intelligence -- all of
us -- to have our common sense and intelligence insulted the way it`s being
is -- it just makes me ashamed.


SHARPTON: What is he talking about? I mean, we`re talking about
things that will automatically be cut. So that we preserve tax loopholes
for yachts and private jets? That`s what he ought to be ashamed off.

CAPEHART: What he should be ashamed of is the fact that Washington
can`t get its act together to ensure that these cuts don`t happen.
Remember, sequester was put in there as not just as a stick, but as a
guillotine, a bazooka on the Congress to make them say oh, my God, we`ve
got to do something.

SHARPTON: We can`t have this --

CAPEHART: We can`t have this happen. And now, it`s about to happen.
And what`s even more startling and what he should ashamed of is that you
have members of the Republican Party in the Senate and in the House who
were saying, you know what, we should let sequester happen.

SHARPTON: Now, Victoria, you look at they haven`t really changed much
of anything in this rebranding as we`re on the verge of this. Look at CPAC
this year. They are meeting. They have Governor Romney, Sarah Palin, Rand
Paul, even fall right people like Allen West and Wayne Lapierre of the NRA.
But we`ve learned that Go Proud, the conservative gay rights group has been
kicked out. Is this the new GOP? The NRA is invited, but not conservative
gay rights groups.


SOTO: They are cosmetic changes. But I have to admit, the one that
doesn`t fit in this whole picture is Mitt Romney. And I think this is
really puzzling. And it`s indicative of that struggle, you know, they want
to rebrand but they still want to keep one foot in the more moderate
mainstream republican stream but they don`t know exactly what way. So,
they`re so confused, internally, that that`s going to stumble them going

SHARPTON: Jonathan, exclude the conservative gay groups while
welcoming people like Wayne Lapierre, doesn`t that send the signal to those
that claim they want to expand the party, that they`re not serious?

CAPEHART: Well, yes. And I would argue it`s the same old Republican
Party. You know, the NRA has been there for very long time. The
Republican Party has exactly been, you know, warm and fuzzy when it comes
to gay and lesbians, LGBT Community. So by them kicking out Go Proud, you
know, it`s sort of the standard m.o. But by keeping out gays and lesbians,
by keeping out Latinos, by keeping out African Americans, the Republican
Party is sealing its fate as a regional, second tear party because there
are votes for the Republican Party.


CAPEHART: And all three of those groups, and they won`t go there
because the Republican Party just isn`t welcomed.

SHARPTON: Well, we`ll be watching and we`ll watch their new savior
Ted Cruz. I hope he doesn`t need a drink of water while he`s speaking.
Victoria and Jonathan, thank you for your time tonight.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Ahead, a powerful story of giving back. A medical doctor
who`s fighting to hear the city where he grew up. And then, more of my
interview today with President Obama. His thoughts on black history month
and Rosa Parks. Stay with us.


SHARPTON: Tonight, the powerful story of a young man who made a
choice that might have saved his life.

Growing up in Northern New Jersey, Sampson Davis could have embraced
the street life. But after almost going to prison, he made a life-changing
decision. Davis and two of his friends made a pact to rise above the
dangers, to study hard and to become doctors. And they did it. Their
incredible story became a best-selling book and then a documentary. But
Dr. Davis isn`t done. Not by a long shot. He went home to Newark to be an
emergency room doctor to give back to the community he came from. His new
book is living and dying in Brick City, an ER doctor returns home.

Joining me now, Dr. Sampson Davis. Dr. Davis, let me start by
welcoming you to the show.


SHARPTON: Your first book, "The Pact," for people who don`t know the
story, how did you turn your life around? What happened when you made that
decision to turn your life around?

DAVIS: Right. The book is based upon me and my two best friends who
made their promise to become doctors. But prior to that, I had an incident
with the law, it was 17-and-a-half. And I was arrested for arm robbery.
And I was granted a second chance. I realized then I had to change my life
around if I wanted to survive.

SHARPTON: So you were arrested for armed robbery, you were that
close to going to prison and when you didn`t have that problem, you made up
your mind to turn it around and become a doctor.

DAVIS: Right. I mean, I always wanted to do something positive in
life. And so I felt like helping people in the medical field would allow
me to help me give back and to help save other lives and help them to have
a bright future.

SHARPTON: You decided to have an emergency room in Newark. After
you accepted this challenge, turn away to where you could ended up being a
prison inmate. And then you went to the Emergency Room as a doctor, and
you told the story that happened on the first day that really, really got
to me. What happened on your first day of work as a doctor in the
Emergency Room in Newark?

DAVIS: Yes, it was during my trauma rotation and it was a name on
the board in the trauma room. Don Moses is the name I referred to in the
book. And this was a young man who I grew up with. And underneath his
name, his name is crossed out and underneath his name is deceased. But I
wasn`t for sure it was him. I saw the name it was familiar to me.

I ran down to the surgical and I saw his family gathered around the
room as his body has been removed. But it hit home. I mean, it was
palpable, I realized at that -- road, and I had gone down that same
direction, my life could have ended up the same way.

SHARPTON: So your first day, it`s almost like some sign saying that
this could have been you.

DAVIS: Absolutely.

SHARPTON: As you go through life as an Emergency Room doctor in
Newark. What are the experiences as you share in the book? And what do
you hope young people might make their pact like your first book called it
as they read the second book and remember the story of you and your two

DAVIS: These are real-life stories. You have stories about
depression, you have stories about STDs, you have stories about cancer
prevention. And my hope is that people read the journeys of these other
individuals who, unfortunately, their lives were lost and sort to relate to
them. And realize that this may be something that`s impacted their lives.
And by that wave, it`s something that they see impact in their life. They
will make a change. So, there`s anecdotes at the -- section of the chapter
that they can apply to their lives.

SHARPTON: Now, you see a lot of gun violence in your line of work,
especially in Newark. And you talk about the idea of macho posturing in
the book. What is that?

DAVIS: So, macho posturing is the reference to young man especially
that -- who don`t know how to handle conflict. When they have a
disagreement with one another, that resort to violence. And realized that
there`s no weakness in saying, I`m sorry. If you walk away with your life,
you walk away with the victory.

SHARPTON: Now, your book is about your life, but it also includes
some important information about health care, including mental health care.
There`s even a chapter about adoption. Why is it important for you to
include that information?

DAVIS: Well, mental illness is especially something that plagues the
communities, all communities but specifically in the inner cities, you see
mental illness as something that`s taboo or a stigma. We don`t talk about
it. We all have that cousin or that relative, a little bit crazy. But we
don`t address the issue. And some of the end results of depression you see
played violently on the streets. If you see the murder rates and a gain
that take the place. All of that is a result of depression not being
addressed, initially.

SHARPTON: In your community of Newark, you call it Brick City. These
kids that go the wrong way, that don`t make the choice you make, a lot of
them do it because they just don`t believe they can make it? They just
have lost hope?

DAVIS: Absolutely. I mean, what example do they have to monitor
themselves after? They turn on every street corner, they turn, they see
nothing but negativity. So, my hope is to put a face to education, put a
face to health, so these young kids can model themselves after, realize
that there is power in being academically successful.

SHARPTON: Dr. Sampson Davis is a powerful story. And I wanted you
on to talk about it. The new book is living and dying in Brick City. An
E.R. doctor returns home. It`s a great read. We`ll be right back with
more of my interview with President Obama talking about black history month
and the legacy of Rosa Parks.

Stay with us.


SHARPTON: February is black history month. And, this morning, in my
radio interview with President Obama, he spoke about what that means to
him. Personally.


Black history month this month means what to you as president?

OBAMA: You know, one of the things that`s most valuable for me is to
watch the next generation absorb history that you and I might take for
granted but for a lot of young people, is fresh and new. And so when I see
Malia and Sasha taking time to read more about not just Rosa Parks and Dr.
King, but Bob Moses and Fanny Lou Hammer and Charles Hamilton Houston and
all the people who laid the foundation and the ground work for the civil
rights movement, I think that`s very powerful.


SHARPTON: And the President also said now is the time to reflect on
where we`ve made progress and the work still left to do.


OBAMA: I think if you work hard and you have opportunity and you`re
able to take advantage of it, the sky is the limit for African-Americans in
our country. In a way, it just wasn`t true a generation ago.

On the other hand, the lingering effects of the great recession means
there`s a whole lot of communities and a whole lot of people who are still
out of work, still struggling. And that`s why some of the initiatives I
talked about at the State of the Union are so important. We`ve got to make
sure that as a society, we`re creating ladders of opportunity for every
child, not just a few.


SHARPTON: Ladders of opportunity for every child. That includes our
most fundamental right. The right to vote. Next, with the Supreme Court
where he argues about the voting rights act. It protects everyone`s right
to vote. No matter your color or creed. Critics on the right say we don`t
need it anymore. And they seem to have found support on the high court.
But they`re wrong. The voting rights act is fundamental to protecting our

The president made that point last year when he visited the bus made
famous by Rosa Parks. The President made that point again at his
inauguration when he stopped at the bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. on
Capitol Hill. Today, he told me he`ll be back on the hill next week for
the unveiling of a statue honoring Ms. Parks.


OBAMA: Next week, we`re going to be dedicating over at the capitol,
Rosa Parks` memorial. And that`s going to be, obviously, a powerful
moment. Where a seamstress joins some of the tights of our government in
her rightful place for somebody to help to bring about a more just America.

SHARPTON: I remember you spoke at her funeral in Detroit as I did,
you were Senator Obama then, I was a civil rights leader. You`re now a
president of the United States headed the free world, I`m still just a
civil rights leader.

OBAMA: Oh, man. Back then, as I recall, I think I was second from
last on the speaking list. And you were, I think you were in the top five.
So, you know, that showed our relative position.


OBAMA: Our relative positions have changed. But the President
hasn`t. He`s still standing up for what`s right. And, as important, there
were many that stood up for what was right that made it possible for him to
be president. Or me and others to be what we are. And then there were
some like Rosa Parks who just sat down so we could all stand up.

Stand up as an America that means what it said. One nation under God
with liberty and justice for all, and that`s what the fight always was
about. Civil rights for everyone. Human rights for everyone. Not just
for some. That`s the mission and we won`t stop until we get there.

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


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