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PoliticsNation, Friday, April 5th, 2013

Read the transcript from the Friday show

April 5, 2013


Guests: Jonathan Capehart; Maria Teresa Kumar, Lauren Ashburn, Dana
Milbank, Juanita Abernathy, Joseph Lowery

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Thanks, Chris. And thanks to you
for tuning in.

Tonight`s lead, the president offers compromise but Republicans,
they`ve shown yet again that they don`t know how to lead. Today, we
learned that President Obama will try once again for a grand bargain. His
plan calls for $1.2 trillion in cuts, including a change in the cost of
living increase for Social Security that would reduce benefits but would
still protect low-income and older beneficiaries. In return, the president
is asking for $600 billion in revenue by closing loopholes for the rich, by
ending rates for big oil. This president is serious and he`s offering
compromise with Republicans that already has some in his own party furious.
The progressive caucus called his plan entitlement reform quote "unpopular,
unwise, and unworkable." The president`s offer is compromise. Isn`t that
what Republicans have called for over and over again?


willing to reduce spending and ensure entitlement programs that are the
primary drivers of our debt.

problem is doing something about the entitlements.

reforms that are needed to save Medicare and Social Security, we know what
they are. It doesn`t require any more study. It just requires the courage
to do it.

BOEHNER: Unfortunately, we could never get the yes on those changes
to the entitlement programs.


SHARPTON: Senator McConnell said quote "those are the kinds of things
that would get Republicans interested in new revenue." So, they are ready
to get on board, right? Wrong. Speaker Boehner had the audacity to call
this major proposal modest entitlement savings. He went on to say quote
"there`s no reasons entitlements should be held hostage for more tax hikes.
That`s no way to lead."

It`s the same, my way or the highway response that we`ve come to
response from the Republican Party. The more the president shows he`s
serious, the smaller they seem.

Joining me now is Ed Rendell and Jared Bernstein.

Thank you for coming on the show tonight.


SHARPTON: Governor, let me start with you, governor Rendell. I think
this is a big move for the president. I mean, what do you think?

tremendous amount of credit, Reverend. This is a big move. It`s a bold
move. It`s a format that can really begin discussions and lead us to a
grand bargain. And if anybody doesn`t think that we need to resolve this
debt problem now, today`s jobs numbers ought to convinced us that the
economy is going nowhere unless we really straighten this fit - this is

The president put a plan together which is going to require him to
leas with his own caucus. The progressive left of our party and Congress
in the Senate has got to be won over. That`s going to acquire presidential
leadership. He is willing to try to do that. In return for reasonable
revenue increases that really don`t hurt any working family. Reasonable
revenue increases on the right and he`s got the absolute right to expect
that Republicans will work with him.

This is a budget that`s subject to negotiation but Republicans have to
understand what a heavy lift this is for the president with his own side.
So, I think he deserves a tremendous amount of credit. They have been
asking him to lead. He`s leading with a capital "L".

SHARPTON: But Jared, there`s going to be a lot of criticism, many on
the left, including me, are going to be hard to sell on this. I mean,
because we are talking about changing Social Security even though it`s
protecting seniors and those that are low income. But this is a heavy lift
for the president, yet the Republicans say no anyway.

We are told that he is going to meet with Senate Republican for dinner
next week. The White House is making it clear, though, that there will be
no changes to entitlement without new revenue. A senior administration
official tells "The New York Times" that the changes in Social Security,
that Republican leaders have pushed hard for will only be acceptable if
congressional Republicans are willing to deal with the own revenues. But,
wow do we deal with his own party and those of us that don`t want to see
any of this?

BERNSTEIN: It`s a good question. The president said an important
thing today in that regard, or yesterday. He said something about this not
being a menu where opponents can just pick out parts they like. Now,
that`s very important in terms of Republicans because they can`t go to him
and say, forget the revenues, we`ve already done that but we`ll take the
change CPI. We`ll take the essentially these benefits cuts to Social
Security because of the change in the price index that you mentioned
earlier. That kind of picking off the menu is something that the White
House has to stand really firm on.

As far as the left goes, that`s where you raise, I think, a very good
question. I think the White House strategy, they want to pick up some
moderate Republicans. The one thing they can say as far as Social Security
goes is as you mentioned, there`s something in there that takes some of the
revenue from these changes and it plows it back in to help boost the
benefits of older poor people for whom this change compounds a lot over
time. For them it`s a serious benefit cut and it`s important to make sure
that they are held harmless.

SHARPTON: Now, governor, the president has said over and over again
that he`s willing to make tough decisions even if it`s not politically
convenient. Take a listen.


hard things and to push my Democrat friends to do hard things. I`m
prepared to make some decisions, some of which will garner some significant
frustration on the part of members of my party but I think it`s the right
thing to do.


SHARPTON: The politics of this, governor, is he is meeting with
Republicans next week. If he says to them, I`ve done a tough thing, I`m
going to face criticism on some of my own party members a he some of the
people that have been supportive, here it is, you`ve got to come in and at
least meet me halfway, does he put them between a rock and a hard place in
terms of them rejecting them on this?

RENDELL: Sure. Absolutely, Reverend, because he`s done essentially
what they have asked for. And they have categorized this as modest. It
isn`t modest. It`s significant. But, it also makes sense. I mean,
someone like me or someone like you, we don`t need the inflation index to
keep track exactly. We can take a lesser benefit. The people who really
have to be protected and that`s the message of the president. The people
who really have to be protected, the oldest and poorest are going to be
protected here. And we can`t get everything we want.

You know, I`ve always said, you have heard me say this before. We
should pipe in to the Senate and the House, the rolling stone song, you
can`t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes you will get what
you need. This country needs to get the debt under control. It will spur
the economy and the only way we`re going to do it is for both sides to
understand they are not going to get everything they want.

SHARPTON: Now, the song you can`t get all that you want, Jared, maybe
should be played to the Republicans because it seems as though they are
saying no matter what he puts on the table, they are not going to do it.
They are not going to budge on revenue and it seems like again, as I said
earlier, they are saying my way or the highway.

BERNSTEIN: Well, OK. So this is really a very fundamental point that
we perhaps haven`t hit on hard enough. The three of us are talking about
this budget offer as if it has a pretty decent likelihood of going
anywhere. Well, not if the Republicans refuse to budge on revenue and the
comments you played earlier were completely unreceptive to what I agree
with ED Rendell is really a very significant offer from the president.

So, yes, again he is meeting them on their side of the field. Many of
us judge that as a risky strategy. Well, perhaps one of the things going
on in the mind of the White House is it`s not a risky strategy because we
are not going to fold unless we get what we want as well, which is a
balanced deal, spending cuts on one side, entitlement cuts firmly on the
table. The Republicans have to come with revenues, with new revenues. If
they don`t, there will be no deal.

SHARPTON: Now Governor, what perplexes me is that the Republicans
said that last year wasn`t a referendum, was the term used, on where the
country is going and where the people of the country want to go. Well,
they lost the election and if it was a referendum, the referendum came back
that the American people rejected their way and went the other way with the
president. Doesn`t elections have consequences?

RENDELL: Of course it does. And the Republicans should understand
that. And I think down deep they do. But they can`t hold to protect their
base. And their base are the wealthiest people in this country. And they
have got to explain to the American people if they reject the president`s
deal. What part of the expenditures that are going to be taken away, what
part of these tax benefits and loopholes what we close on rich people?
What part of it is unfair? What part of taking away the oil company
subsidies at a time when they are making record profits and don`t need a
nickel in subsidies, why is that unfair?

They have got a tough job persuading the American people, even some of
their own people, even some of the tea party folks. They`ve got a tough
job persuading while we`re going to those benefits to the rich, especially
when the president has moved on entitlement reform.

This is the type of leadership everybody has been asking for. Those
people who were for Simpson/Bowles, this is the type of leadership we hope
we would see from the president. We are seeing it and if they reject it,
they do so at their own peril.

SHARPTON: But Jared, the Republicans themselves have said over and
over again that this was a referendum, as I said to the governor. They
lost the referendum that they described as a referendum. What is it that
they don`t get? Watch what some of the Republicans were saying.


do is say to the country, here`s your choice.

BOEHNER: I believe that when people go to the polls in October and
early November, it`s going to be a referendum on the president`s economic

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: This election is really a referendum
about something much more meaningful.

RYAN: And the choice is yours on November the 6th.

And boy is it a clear choice.


SHARPTON: They said a clear choice. They said a referendum. They
lost. What don`t they get, Jared?

BERNSTEIN: Well, you know, ever since the day after the election, the
Republicans have come to the president or anyone else they are negotiating
with on the democratic side with essentially this statement. We lost, now
here are our demands. It`s a real non-sequitur.

Now, you know, the fact of the matter is that they hold the house.
And so, again, unless they are willing to engage in balance negotiation and
compromise, this isn`t going anywhere. And I think the important
conclusion of all this is the president has just gone as far as I think he
could reasonably go towards that kind of compromise. If they say no at
this point, a gridlock is just their middle names.

SHARPTON: Ed Rendell and Jared Bernstein, thank you both for your
time this evening. Have a great weekend.

RENDELL: Thank you.

BERNSTEIN: Thanks, Rev.

Ahead, President Obama bashed for calling Kamala Harris the best-
looking attorney general. But who`s defending him? The pigs are flying
and President Obama winning the culture war and it is ripping the GOP
apart. Who`s on the right side? Who on the right is calling O`Reilly
campus arrogant wing bet (ph)?

And on the week to reflect on civil rights history, I`m joined by two
giants in the movement. They marched side by side with Doctor King.

Stay with us.


SHARPTON: Have you joined the "Politics Nation" conversation on
facebook yet? The big talker today was the controversy over President
Obama calling Kamala Harris the best-looking attorney general.

Bernette say the comment was sexist and therefore inappropriate.

Norah says, disagree. I disagree. She says it`s true. She`s smart
and beautiful. That`s a good thing.

Nicole says, it was harmless but no matter what he says he will get

You`re right on that one.

But you might be surprised to find out who was defending him on this
one. That`s coming up later.

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.


SHARPTON: Are Republicans on the ropes when it comes to the culture

Today a big left hook, two more democratic senators have come out in
support of marriage equality. Both from red states that voted for Mitt
Romney in the 2012 election. Two down, four to go before every single
Democratic senator publicly backs gay marriage, which the public now
supports. The president and the Democrats are getting a little help from
some on the right.


BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: The compelling argument is on the
side of the homosexuals. And you are the side hasn`t been able to do
anything but thump the bible.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: You were sort of marginalized
on the factor as not having a compelling argument and just being a bunch of
bible thumpers.

LAURE INGRAHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I think when you said they have
to do more than bible thumb, I don`t think you really need to say that.

O`REILLY: Waited. Number one. Wait, wait. We are going to get very

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At no point did I think you were being pejorative
of the religion right.

O`REILLY: The demigods on the right primarily who threw it back at
me, why do they do that? The right, some people, all right, they don`t
want a non-ideological guy assuming this kind of power.


SHARPTON: The GOP is bruised and battered. Will they go down for the
final count?

Joining me now is Maria Teresa Kumar and Jonathan Capehart.



SHARPTON: Jonathan, you rarely see the big talkers on the right going
after each other but it reveals a bigger split among the Republicans.

CAPEHART: Well, right. I mean, look, the Republican Party in tone,
rhetoric, and policy is over here. The country, however, has moved
certainly within the last five years, definitely within the last ten years
over here. The Republican Party, if it`s going to survive, has to get over
here. O`Reilly, Limbaugh, all these folks who are in the media, they kind
of get that. But it`s the people on Capitol Hill and who are running the
Republican Party who don`t quite get -- understand that yet.

SHARPTON: You know, Maria, the GOP strategist says the reasons they
are winning the culture wars are, quote "across the board they are on
offense. They feel like the wind is at their back, that the demographics
are in their favor, and there is a confidence in prosecuting these issues.
Republicans are on their heels."

I mean, will gay marriage be the issue that drives the GOP based upon?

KUMAR: I think that it is not that. You are also going to see it
with gun legislation, I think, gun reforms. We are also going to see with
immigration reform. The Republican Party right now is at the seams because
they within their party cannot actually coalesce under one sort of thing
recognizing yes, the party - the country is moving. The whole fact that
after they came out says we are rebranding the Republican Party to be a
softer, gentler Republican Party, yet at the same time, they can`t get
their personalities such as Bill O`Reilly on the same side as the extreme
right saying that they don`t support gay marriage is a demonstration that
they have more work to do than just a couple of works.

What Jonathan just said is absolutely right. The Republican Party
right now is beholden to the most extreme primarily because you have had
some representatives who are gerrymandered districts that they don`t have
to worry or not they are up for re-election next time. Its senators that
are statewide and gubernatorial that supposed -- governorships that
(INAUDIBLE) that have to make sure that they are appealing to the majority
of the country. And that`s not the case for a lot of these House Democrats
- the House Republicans .

SHARPTON: But Jonathan, we`re not just talking about them coming
together. I mean, they are really fighting it. You have Mike Huckabee and
the religious right just absolutely threatening the party. Listen to this.


KATHLEEN WALTER, TV HOST: Do you ever see the party ever pivoting or
doing 180 on gay marriage?

they do they are going to lose a lot of their base because evangelicals
will take a walk. And it`s not because there is an anti-homosexual move.
And nobody is homophobic that I know of, but many of us, and I consider
myself included, base out chatters on the latest "Washington Post" poll,
but we based it on an objective standard.


SHARPTON: I mean, when you look at Internet, the support from same-
sex marriage among Republicans in May of 2012, 13 percent supported his
position. Now in less than a year that number has jumped to 37 percent.
Their numbers are evolving. Why can`t the GOP leaders do the same?

CAPEHART: Well, look, governor Huckabee is right. The base the party
probably won`t like it. The base of the party is the energy of the party.
Anyone who wants to run for president has to win a caucus has to win a
primary. Who are those people who show up? The far right, evangelical
Christians and so on. And so, what it`s going to require is a Republican
candidate to go to these primaries and caucuses and stare them right in the
eye and say, we disagree on this. And you don`t have to vote for me but
the future of the court is here and this is where I want to be.

SHARPTON: Maria, though, you have as Jonathan refers to, the
evangelicals even to this Brian Fischer. (INAUDIBLE) Bill O`Reilly`s
comments on his radio show. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bill O`Reilly, who frankly a lot of the times,
ladies and gentlemen, just comes across as a pompous, arrogant wind bag.
The implication is we are a bunch of knee and toe, red neck, heel Billy,
bible bangers. That`s essentially what he`s saying we are.


SHARPTON: I mean, this is serious back and forward going on here now.

KUMAR: Well, and I think, to be fair, there as a growing group of
young evangelicals that actually do embrace same sex marriage. And I think
that they recognized that their party is, I think, one of the reason that
the party is in such trouble is that it`s an older party and if they want
to bring in young people and the young energizing base that Capehart is
talking about, is there`s going to have to start a panic to the rest of the
country. There is a lot of Republicans out there that are maybe fiscally
conservative but socially open to other idea and nuance. And unless they
do that, they are getting increasingly driving not to the Democrats but
drive these individuals into independence and make sure that they are up
for grabs. And that`s not a good scenario for the Republican Party if they
want to win the White House, which that`s the gem in politics.

SHARPTON: It`s interesting. For years the Republicans always beat
the Democrats up on the culture wars.

KUMAR: That`s right.

SHARPTON: And clearly, looks like this time, they are losing the
council wars.

Maria Teresa Kumar and Jonathan Capehart, thank you both for your time
and have a great weekend.

CAPEHART: Thank you.

KUMAR: You too, reverend. Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, the GOP problem with women voters are only getting
worse. Here comes Hillary Clinton.

Plus, Newt Gingrich offers to help the GOP with minority outreach.
What could possibly go wrong?

And if you`re looking for something to make you smile on a Friday, we
have it. President Obama`s oval office tour with the kid president.

Stay with us.


SHARPTON: Here`s a news flash.

Newt Gingrich wants to help Republicans with minority voters. That`s
right. Newt Gingrich. He wants to bring the GOP to black districts. I
think it`s great he wants to the GOP to be more inclusive.

And Newt and I even worked together on an education tour back in 2009
going to five cities to bridge the achievement gaps from minorities in
school. But that was a few years ago. I`m wondering what he`ll say when
he visits black communities now?


children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have
nobody around them who works. So they literally have no habit of showing
up on Monday. They have no habit of staying all day. They have no habit
of I will do this and you give me cash unless it`s illegal.


SHARPTON: Oh, Newt. I wouldn`t start with that. Might not send the
signal the party wants to change. Maybe try something else.


GINGRICH: They have a very poor neighborhood. They have kids who
would require under law to go to school. They have no money, they have no
habit of work. So what if they became assistant managers and their job was
to mop the floor and clean the bathroom and you paid them?


SHARPTON: I`ve got another idea. Maybe avoid talking about child
labor. Want to give it another shot?


GINGRICH: If the NAACP invites me, I`ll go to their convention, and
talk about why the African-American community should demand paychecks and
not be satisfied with food stamps.


SHARPTON: That probably won`t make a greater impression either. Now,
look, I`m all for GOP outreach but Newt, did you think we`d forget all the
offensive things you and others on the right said just because you wanted
to be inclusive? Because you`ve changed for right now? Nice try, but
we`ve got you.


SHARPTON: The GOP`s war on women is on fire and back in the
spotlight. But look out, so is their worst nightmare. Hillary Clinton got
a standing ovation at the women in the world summit today and she vowed to
continue fighting for women`s rights worldwide.


HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: If America is going to lead
the way the way we expect ourselves to lead, we need to empower women here
at home to participate fully in our economy and our society. We need to
make equal pay a reality. We need to extend family and medical leave
benefits to more workers and make them paid.


SHARPTON: She`s back at a time when the GOP`s in big trouble with
women`s issues. And their problems might only get worst.

Joining me now, Lauren Ashburn, editor-in-chief of "The Daily
Download," and Dana Milbank of The Washington Post. Thank you both for
your time and for being here tonight.



SHARPTON: Lauren, two forces colliding, what does Hillary back
speaking for women in public mean for Republicans who want to attack
women`s rights?

ASHBURN: Well, first of all, I think that the media is enamored with
Hillary right now, any move that she makes, anything that she says is going
to be new. So that number one is tough for Republicans because they don`t
have anybody who is in this category the way that Hillary is. You have
Susana Martinez, who`s the governor of New Mexico. You have Nikki Haley,
governor of South Carolina, but you don`t have anybody who has been the
first lady, who has been a senator, who has been the secretary of state and
has this popularity. So that, number one, is cause for concern.
Politically speaking, for the Republicans.

SHARPTON: But Dana, it`s not only that they don`t have anyone. It`s
at a time that they are actually attacking women`s rights in certain
states, coming with votes that are clearly viewed as anti-women.

MILBANK: Sure, Reverend. I mean, I think if Hillary Clinton didn`t
exist, the Republicans would have every bit as much of a problem of
tripping over their own two feet on women`s issue. The gender gap is as
bad as it has ever been for them and it is continually coming up virtually
every week here in Washington. The Hillary Clinton phenomenon I think
compounds that and what she is doing right now is something that she really
failed to do during her 2008 campaign.

She wasn`t running to be the first women president of the United
States. She was running because she thought she was the best candidate.
So, people missed the historic nature of her candidacy while everybody is
focusing on the historic nature of the Obama candidacy. I think she`s
changing that now and she is addressing the significance of her possibly
being the first woman to lead this country and that`s going to work very
well for her and compound the Republicans problems.

SHARPTON: But she did signal that, Lauren, in 2008 when she was in
her speech -- in her concession speech, she did kind of look at history.
Look at this.


CLINTON: We will someday launch a woman into the White House.
Although we weren`t able to shatter that highest hardest glass ceiling this
time. Thanks to you, it`s got about 18 million cracks in it. You can be
so proud that from now on it will be unremarkable for a woman to win
primary state victories.


Unremarkable to have a woman in a close race to be our nominee.
Unremarkable to think that a woman can be the president of the United
States and that is truly remarkable, my friends!


SHARPTON: Eighteen million cracks on that glass ceiling for women,
unremarkable what women can do in her concession speech. She really went
down in to history. From her body language now and for the last couple of
weeks since she left being Secretary of State, Lauren, do you read in her
body language she wants to finish this task, that she`s going to do this,
that she`s going to run?

ASHBURN: Yes. I have no idea. I mean, I think none of us have an
idea. We all want to believe, I think, that Hillary is going to run.
Republicans or Democrats, people just want to know. Joe Biden who is
sitting there going, hmmm, is she going to run, is she not going to run?
Does that mean, I`m going to run, I`m not going to run. You know,
everybody just wants this. But it is four years away. I think we also
have to remember that 2008 was not very good for Hillary. She was
attacked. Her campaign was attacked.

She lost and I think that right now there could be this honeymoon
period coming off of four fabulous years as secretary of state. She wasn`t
really attacked until the very end with the whole Benghazi flu madness that
happened. But we are forgetting that the rough and tumbleness of the 2008

SHARPTON: Now, Dana, fight for women`s rights have really helped her
popularity. John Avalon rights, Hillary has become a symbol of something
larger than herself. She is an embodiment of baby boom second-wave
feminists who see their elevation to the pinnacle of world affairs as their
own story writ large. This is deliverance.

MILBANK: I think that`s right. That sort of the point I`m trying to
get at there. And I was there in the hall when she gave that concession
speech you just played clips from and I wrote at the time, a lot of the
people wondered, why didn`t she make that more of the central focus of her
campaign? I think what she is showing now is that she is getting ready to
make that the central focus.

I think the fact that she`s talking about these issues now indicate,
if anything, it`s more likely that she is preparing to run and Lauren is
right, the election is not nearly four years but, you know, 19 months from
now essentially the campaign begins in earnest. So by being out there
this much and talking on these themes, she`s clearly sending a signal,
whether she intends to or not, that she is preparing to run.

SHARPTON: And she`s doing it, Lauren, in the time that the GOP
continues to fight women`s reproductive rights across the country. You
know, just in the last few weeks in Kansas they are pushing a radical
personhood bill that would define life as beginning at conception. In
Missouri, a bill was introduced saying doctors can deny emergency
contraception to rape victims.

In Arkansas, they just passed a bill banning abortion at 12 weeks.
And in North Dakota, the state approved a ban on abortions as early as six
weeks. The strictest abortion law in the nation. And Reince Priebus, the
chair of the RNC said this week in an Op-ed, he attacked Planned Parenthood
and voters must ask pressing questions, do these Democrats also believe in
a newborn has no rights? Do they endorse infanticide?

In this context, what is this do with Hillary coming on strong and
they`re doing these kinds of things?

ASHBURN: It`s political suicide for the Republican Party to be
bringing up anything about Planned Parenthood. It reminds everybody of
Mitt Romney and his statement that he wanted to get rid of Planned
Parenthood and even big bird. And so if the Republican Party is trying to,
for once out of the five -- out of the six last presidential -- or last
elections actually win the popular vote, this is not the way to do it.

SHARPTON: Lauren Ashburn and Dana Milbank, thanks for your time
tonight and have a great weekend.

MILBANK: You, too Rev.

ASHBURN: You too.

SHARPTON: Ahead, the best looking controversy and why everyone needs
to lighten up.

Plus, behind the scenes with the kid president. I give a Reverend Al
guarantee it will make you smile. And on a week to reflect on civil rights
history, I`m joined by two living legend, two of Dr. King`s closest
confidants. Stay with us.


SHARPTON: Now, time for our we did not expect this segment of the
night. President Obama was in San Francisco last night for a fundraiser
for the Democratic National Committee and he gave a shout out to Attorney
General Kamala Harris. Quote, "She is brilliant and she is dedicated and
she is tough and she is exactly what we would want in anybody who is
administering the law and making sure that everyone is getting a fair
shape, she also happens to be by far the best-looking attorney general in
the country." And then came the bipartisan backlash. Obama needed gender
sensitivity training, flirtatious, Obama praises best-looking attorney

Obama blasted as sexist. Come on, the President was just having a
little fun. It was a harmless compliment. But today President Obama
called Harris to apologize for what some deemed to be a sexist comment.
And then the FOX News, wait, no. They didn`t?


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I think it`s perfectly fine to call somebody
attractive and what he said was sincere, it was honest, it was very sweet.
Yes, big deal. Yes, she is. She does happen to be good looking. I just
think we`ve come to a place in society where everyone is so ultimately
sensitive that she can`t say anything anymore. She is. She`s pretty. So,

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I wish that we wouldn`t be so completely PC on this
issue, because it`s true, she`s attractive.


SHARPTON: Wow. We`ll be right back. The pigs are flying around the


SHARPTON: Forget all of those Republicans going after the president.
Here`s who he should really watch out for. Is this guy -- the lovable kid
president. Nine-year-old Robby Novak. He`s the YouTube sensation, 17
million people have viewed his pep-talk for America. The kid president was
invited by the real president to the White House Easter egg roll, they had
a great time. And the President is a big fun.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: Kid president. Give kid
president a round of applause.


SHARPTON: Now, we`re getting a look at what was going on behind the
scenes during his visit. Get the Kleenex ready.


OBAMA: I think we should try to sit behind the desk so you look more



OBAMA: OK. Well, just don`t cause an international incident. I`ll
try to do my best, between the two of us, maybe we can kind of get things
going in a good direction. Now, even though we`re presidents, can we still


OBAMA: Is that OK? OK. I just wanted to make sure.


SHARPTON: What an inspiring video and a reminder that the kid
president isn`t the only one who knows how to give a great pep talk.


SHARPTON: Fifty years ago this month, Martin Luther King, Jr. was
jailed in Birmingham, Alabama. Charged with protesting unlawfully for
organizing the boycott of city buses. In jail, he wrote his famous letter
from a Birmingham jail. It was a response to eight Alabama ministers who
had criticized the civil rights movement and called Dr. King an outsider.
His cellmate on that occasion and on most occasions he went to jail was
Reverend Dr. Ralph Abernathy and there were many ministers that were part
of his team that stood with him and went to jail with him and marched
across those years.

Joining me now, two giants of the civil rights movement, Mrs. Juanita
Abernathy and Reverend Dr. Joseph Lowery. Juanita Abernathy is the widow
of Reverend Ralph Abernathy. Dr. King`s closest confidant. Reverend
Abernathy and Dr. King was side by side during all of the key events of the

Reverend Lowery is the president emeritus of this key civil rights
group, the Southern Christian bishop conference, the key organizing group
of the civil rights movement working closely with Dr. King and Reverend
Abernathy. Thank you both for being with us tonight.


SHARPTON: Let me start with you, Mrs. Abernathy. It`s such an honor
that you would come and do the show and National Action Network forum
tomorrow. You and Dr. Abernathy were side by side with the king from day
one. Dr. Abernathy nominated him the president of the Montgomery movement
and your house and church was actually bombed the night they formed the
southern Christian leadership conference.


SHARPTON: You lived under daily threat. I don`t think people today
understand the price that was paid to get us to where we are today. Give
us a sense of how it was to be the co-pilot of this great movement.

ABERNATHY: Well, one of the things is that we had death threats
every day for five consecutive years. There was a woman hired by the
citizens` council, White Citizens` Council, or the Ku Klux Klan. We
thought it was the White Citizens` Council. She came on duty at 7:00 a.m.
in the morning and worked until 7:00 p.m. in the evening and a man came on
duty at 7:00.

And curse and called us everything with death threats, we`re going to
blow your so-and-so head off and your little children and it was constant.
Rosa Parks and my house. We got the calls. And when she finished cursing
and calling us all kinds of names, she said, now I`ve got to call Rosa.

SHARPTON: Reverend Lowery, through all of the years of watching some
of the people you worked with, struggled with, go through death threats,
you as well, and the Abernathy`s bombed, the King bombed, and you lived
through it all and then you are standing there doing the benediction for
the first black president, one of the first to endorse him when he was
running. How do you look back from standing there that day at the capitol
steps with the benediction as the one that survived and you can look back
to all the way to `63, 50 years ago today, it`s an amazing journey.

LOWERY: Amazing isn`t the proper name for it. So, it`s hard to
realize that in those days we talked about a black president but really we
weren`t sure we`d ever live to see one. I never thought I would. I was
older than Ralph and Martin and older than Juanita a little bit. But I`d
never thought I`d see a black president. And then when he called and asked
me to do the benediction or the invocation, I told him that I would check
my calendar to see if I was clear that day. And the newspaper carried the
story the following day that I was going to do the benediction.

And so my friends called and said, oh, we want you to do the
invocation. I said, oh, the invocation, the benediction is all right with
me. I`ll have the last word. We didn`t think we`d ever lived to see a
black president but God moves in mysterious ways in the inauguration.

SHARPTON: Did you, Mrs. Abernathy, when you were dealing with daily
threats, ever think you`d live to see a black president or a black attorney

ABERNATHY: No, I didn`t. We knew that one day it would happen. But
not in our lifetime.

SHARPTON: He sent a tape that we played at the dinner last night for
National Action Network and the Attorney General spoke, and I want to play
for you some of what he said because there`s still challenges ahead.

ABERNATHY: Of course.

SHARPTON: Watch this.


OBAMA: We`ve got a lot more work to do together, to create jobs, to
fix our broken immigration system, to educate our kids and protect them
from the horrors of gun violence. To inform families about what health
care reform means for them and their economic security. To make sure that
everyone has an equal chance to open the doors of opportunity and the
courage and skills to walk through those doors.


SHARPTON: Mrs. Abernathy, what advice would you give to this
generation that has to face these problems today, nothing like what you and
Dr. Abernathy faced and Dr. Lowery and your lovely wife face. What would
you tell them that they need to have to empower themselves to face these
challenges today.

ABERNATHY: Determination, number one. Faith in God, number two, I
would say, faith in God number one and determination. And he sure of your
goals and aspirations. And pursue them untiringly until they are
accomplished. Because it isn`t going to be easy but if you pursue it and
continually work at it, you will be successful.

SHARPTON: One thing that I remember when I was 13 in New York and
Abernathy was president of the SCLC, he never stopped preaching, he never
stopped being a great preacher. Was that the basic core of Dr. King and
Dr. Abernathy, their ministry and faith in God?

ABERNATHY: Absolutely. And they knew that through that faith they
could accomplish anything with hard work and determination and the backbone
of the movement was the church and we can`t forget that.

LOWERY: Juanita is right. And the church and spirituality. And it
will does what does say the lord, and we have lost that -- as I say, we`ve
sow no end and we`re reaping the world with it.

SHARPTON: One of the reasons in this National Action Network
convention that we wanted to end having those that led the way here is
because we wanted to say thank you. There wouldn`t have been a Barack
Obama as president or Eric Holder as attorney general if it hadn`t been for
Martin King or Ralph Abernathy and Joseph Lowery and others. And we can`t
say anything but thank you.

ABERNATHY: Thank you.

LOWERY: Our pleasure and our privilege.

SHARPTON: Thank you for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL"
starts right now.


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