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PoliticsNation, Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Read the transcript from the Tuesday show

May 7, 2013

Guests: Ed Smart; Clint Van Zandt; Eugene O`Donnell; Art McCoy; Joe
Kapostasy, Jackie Speier, Krystal Ball, Joan Walsh

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

Tonight`s lead, found alive. It`s a story made for the movies playing
out in real life. Three women kidnapped separately as teenagers ten years
ago. All found in a house in Cleveland. Amanda Berry, Gina Dejesus and
Michele Knight have been missing for a decade. Their families searched
desperately for them. Today, they are reunites with their loved ones,
tries to restart their lives.

At this point three suspects are in custody. Ariel Castro, the owner
of the house, and his two brothers. The alleged kidnappers reportedly
raped the women, resulting in up to five pregnancies. So far they have not
been charged.

Amanda Berry was able to escape that house with her 6-year-old
daughter and make a frantic police call to police. You can hear the terror
in her voice when she made that call.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 911. What`s your emergency?

AMANDA BERRY, VICTIM: Help me. I`m Amanda Berry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you need police, fire or ambulance?

BERRY: I need police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, and what`s going on there?

BERRY: I`ve been kidnapped, and I`ve been missing for ten years, and
I`m here. I`m free now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks like you`re calling from 2310 Seymour.

BERRY: I`m across the street. I`m using the phone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, stay there with those neighbors and talk to
police when they get there.

BERRY: OK. Hello?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, talk to the police when they get there.

BERRY: OK. Are they on their way right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re going to send them as soon as we get a car

BERRY: No, I need them now before he gets back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. We`re sending them, OK?

BERRY: OK, I mean like --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: BERRY: Who is the guy who went out?

BERRY: His name is Ariel Castro.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, how old is he?

BERRY: He`s like 52.


BERRY: And I`m Amanda Berry. I`ve been on the news for the last ten

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And is he white, black or Hispanic?

BERRY: Hispanic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s he wearing?

BERRY: I don`t know because he is not here right now. That`s why I
ran away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When he left, what was he wearing? The police are
on the way. Talk to them when they get there.

BERRY: I need -- OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told you they are on the way. Talk to them when
they get there.

BERRY: All right, OK.




SHARPTON: I`m Amanda Berry and I`m free now. Almost 24 hours since
saying those words, the questions are just beginning.

Joining me now is Clint Van Zandt, former FBI profiler. Eugene
O`Donnell, former NYPD detective. And on the phone Ed Smart, of course the
father of Elizabeth Smart who endured nine months of her own captivity
before being found.

Thank you all for being here.

Clint, this story is incredible. Ten years living in a major city. I
mean, how does this happen?

CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Well, it`s interesting, Al.
There was a book one time. It was called "the Perfect Victim." Here, we
have three perfect victims. It`s almost like this suspect or the three
suspects, if we are to believe three brothers were involved, they were
almost collecting human beings, Al. They went out every year in a row for
at least three years. And I say at least three because I suspect we could
find out there are other victims before or after these three were
kidnapped. They went out three years in a row and stole these young women
right off the street. Took them no more than two miles across town and
upheld them now for over 4,000 days.

SHARPTON: Now, that`s what`s so astonishing. They were no more than
two miles away. When you look at this, Eugene, let me first say that a
real hero in this was the neighbor who rescued Amanda. Listen to him tell
the amazing story of how the rescue happened.


come outside. I see this girl going nuts, trying to get out of a house.
So I go on the porch. I go on the porch. And she says, help me get out.
I`ve been in here a long time. So, you know, I figured it`s a domestic
violence dispute. So I hope the door and we can`t get in that way because
how the door is, it`s so much that a body can`t fit through it, only your
hand. So we kick at the bottom. She comes out with a little girl. And
she says, call 911. My name is Amanda Berry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Did you know who that was when she said

RAMSEY: When she told me, it didn`t register. Until I got the call
to 911. Then I`m like, I`m calling 911 for Amanda Berry? I thought this
girl was dead. About five minutes after the police got here. The girl,
Amanda, told the police, I isn`t just the only ones. There`s some more
girls up in that house. So they going up there, you know, 30, 40 deep.
And when they came out was just astonishing because we see this dude every
day. I mean, every day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: How long have you lived here?

RAMSEY: been here a year. I barbecue with this dude. We eat ribs
and whatnot and listen to salsa music, you see where I`m coming from?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: You had no indication there was anything

RAMSEY: Bro, not a clue that that girl was in that house or anybody
else was in there against their will. Because how he is, is -- he just
comes out to his backyard, plays with the dogs, tinkering with his cars and
motorcycles. Goes back in the house. So, he is somebody you look and look
away because he is not doing nothing but the average stuff. You see what
I`m saying? Nothing exciting about him. Well, until today.


SHARPTON: I mean, you know, Clint, when you look at this, it`s
amazing because usually lost people are not found. And here you have a
miracle. Three of them found alive and the neighbor telling the story,
nobody saw anything strange.

VAN ZANDT: Well, Al, you are right. There`s only a very -- once a
child has been missing, once it goes past days into weeks, months and in
this case years, the statistical probability of getting a child back is
very, very small. But in this case, I think we probably have these sexual
predators, these sexual sadists, at least one of them, who liked to kidnap,
but they wanted to hold on to their victims so they could not only have,
perhaps, sexual contact, but torture them, put them under this duress,
manipulate them. This is a type of person who likes to tie women up, who
likes to punish them. And what these women have been through is just going
to be a horror story. Just a little bit I`ve heard so far is probably the
most de-gradating thing you could ever go through. These women went
through it for a decade.

SHARPTON: Well, with someone who knows some of that feeling, at least
from family members, is you, Ed. Your daughter, Elizabeth, was kidnapped
in 2002 when she was just 14 years old. She was found nine months later.
I mean, what went through your mind when you heard about this today?

ED SMART, FATHER OF ELIZABETH SMART (via phone): You know, I mean, I
when I heard about it yesterday, I just went, there are three miracles
there. And what joy and happiness for them to be reunited with their
families. And I, you know, I thought back on how it was when Elizabeth
came home to us. And how we rejoiced and thanked God for this incredible

And, two, I also thought about what people think of these people.
And, you know, you hear those comments, well, why didn`t they get away?
Why didn`t they do that? And people out there need to understand that, you
know, undoubtedly their lives were threatened or their family`s lives were
threatened. And these predators are definitely, as the FBI agent said,
they are master manipulators.


SMART: I mean, they love to do it. They try to guilt their victims
into feeling some responsibility. And it`s outrageous. But I think it
goes to say that we all need to keep our eyes open because I truly believe
there are others out there in similar situations and they want to be

SHARPTON: Now Ed, you have said it right. We need -- I hope this
leads to every cold case being warmed up tonight in America. Because it
shows us people can still be recovered.

Let me go to you, Eugene. When you look at this, Michele Knight was
20-years-old when she was last seen on August 23rd, 2002. Amanda Berry
disappears less than a year later, just blocks away. Gina Dejesus, last
seen about a year later on April 2nd, 2004.

The girls were last seen within blocks of each other when you look at
this. They escaped last night from a house that was only three miles away
from where they disappeared. I mean, only three miles away, is that
astonishing? Was it bad police work? I mean, what happened here?

clearly not acceptable. It`s simply not acceptable that this could happen.
And there needs to be tough questions asked and there needs to be a look to
see why these things were not put together. They are three disappearances
of people that around the same age under suspicious circumstances.

Obviously, once these things are classed as missing persons, anybody
who`s dealt with the police on missing persons, especially in a big city,
will tell you it`s awfully hard to get and keep the attention of the

I think beyond that we also need to have the lessons of Boston sort of
looked at in this case, which is that for however many police there are, as
Mr. Smart says, the multiplying effect of involving the community is
important. Too often in the cities, people come and go without knowing
their neighbors and without asking reasonable questions. But there are a
lot of important message, important lessons to be learned here it`s simply
not acceptable. These girls were not spirited out of the country or 3,000
miles away. They were pretty much in the very same area.

SHARPTON: And I think it`s a challenge not only to the policing, but
to neighbors. We don`t see what`s going on in our neighborhood. We`re not
neighborly anymore.

You know, there are reports that there may have been a fourth woman
held captive, Clint. Let me read the quote.

Knight told police that there was another woman in the home when she
got there, but one day she woke up and the woman was gone. There is
writing on the wall in the basement which includes the name of a female and
says, "rest in peace." But police do not know if this is related to the
case at this time.

So, there may have even been another one there who may have deceased
or we don`t know what the circumstances are there. We know the FBI
expanded their search for Amanda and Gina to include another girl, Ashley
Somers, a 14-year-old which vanished within five blocks of Amanda and Gina.

Clint, could it turn out to be that there were more girls involved
than even what we know now?

VAN ZANDT: I think it`s highly likely, Al. That`s one of the things
you will see the investigators, the FBI doing right now is they will be
digging up that backyard. Looking for two things. Number one, either
children or adult victims. And number two, as you led off in our program,
with the possibility of five or more children that were sired by these guys
that may have died in childbirth or may have even been killed, they will be
digging up the basement. And they will look where these three guys, where
they went, where they worked. Any place that could have been a body
disposal area.

I don`t think it`s going to end with just these three victims, Al. I
think there are going to be other women. There`s a lot to be learned in
this case. And the secrets are really going to be terrible.

SHARPTON: Now, One thing that bothers me, Eugene, was a neighbor of
the accused kidnapper says that she saw a naked woman in the backyard two
years ago, but police didn`t take her seriously. She said, quote "the cops
didn`t believe her story. But very soon after Castro put tarps over his
backyard, making it virtually impossible for anyone to see in."

You see tarps up over his backyard. You see darkened windows. Naked
woman runs out. I mean, at some point doesn`t somebody say there`s
something weird going on here?

O`DONNELL: Well, this is really one of the takeaways that has to be
there for every police department in the United States. Their ability to
diagnose calls, to look close at what the facts are and to keep pushing.
This is not a one off. You will see other case where is the police didn`t
sufficiently push the envelope. Obviously, they get criticized sometimes
for pushing the envelope too much. But it`s really important for them when
they think they`re on the trail to be encouraged to diagnose these things
and push further. There are other similar situations where tragedies have
been averted because the police took the right steps and didn`t take no for
an answer, kept pushing, kept asking questions.

SHARPTON: Ed Smart, what gave you during the months your daughter was
missing, what gave you the hope to hold on? Because we can only imagine
what must have happened the ten years that these families held on. I
understand one of the mothers died of a broken heart. What kept you and
your family going, Ed?

Ed smart? I don`t hear him. I think we lost our connection.

One of the things, though, that I think is very telling about this,
Clint, is the families and the endurance and the whole -- they must have
gone through. As I said, one of the mothers passed. This is a horrific
story. And let me take a break. We`ll be back with more.

Ed smart, Clint Van Zandt and Eugene O`Donnell, thank you all for
joining us tonight.

Ahead, looking for answers. Did the police do enough to find these
young women? We have some hard questions tonight for the city of

Plus, the president`s fury over a stunning rise in sexual assaults in
the military.

And Chris Christie`s weight loss surgery.

Governor, no matter how you do it, it`s good to take off the weight.
So is this part of a plan to get ready for a run for president? It`s OK.
You can tell me. Come on.

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 talking about what might have inspired Chris
Christie to take a big step on the path to weight loss.

Maria says, it doesn`t feel good to be told how fat you are in a very
public way.

I`m sure that weighed on his decision.

Nathan says, good for him, regardless of his reasons.

And Maura wonders what his new lifestyle may bring. Maybe he will
visit Michelle at the White House vegetable garden.

Not a bad idea.

We have got more of Christie`s big weight loss decision and what it
may say about his White House aspirations. Coming up later in the show.

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



that they`re safe and, you know, that it is probably a parent`s worst
nightmare to lose a child in any way, shape or form. But I am just happy
for these families that they found their daughters. And that they are
alive and safe.


SHARPTON: That was first lady Michelle Obama in an interview to air
tomorrow on the "Today" show, reacting to the news that three women
kidnapped in Cleveland have been found. We`ll hear more about that
tomorrow, and we`ll learn more about the kidnappers.

But the big question remains. Why did it take so long to find these
women? The case goes back me than a decade.

Michelle Knight was 20-years-old when she was last seen at her
cousin`s house on August 23rd, 2002. Amanda Berry disappeared less than a
year later just blocks away. She was last seen April 21st, 2003, the day
before her 17th birthday. Amanda was leaving her job at a Burger King.
Gina Dejesus was last seen about a year later on April 2nd, 2004. She was
14-years-old and near her school. The girls were last seen within blocks
of each other. And they escaped yesterday from a house that was only about
three miles from where they were kidnapped.

As we told you earlier, three brothers have been arrested. The owner
of the house, Ariel Castro, used to work as a school bus driver and was
questioned in 2004 for leaving a child unattended on a bus. But police
said there was no sign of a crime.


interviewed extensively relative to this complaint that we had. He was not
a suspect in any other complaint. This was a -- he was a bus driver who
inadvertently, so he says, left a kid on a bus, went in for a lunch break,
came back and then found the young man. Number two, our policies are
solid. Every single lead was followed up, no matter how small.


SHARPTON: They said they followed up on every lead, but we still have
many questions as we try to figure out what happened to these girls.

Joining me now is Art McCoy, who has led vigils for the girls. And
Joe Kapostasy who was Amanda Berry`s science teacher the year before she

Thank you both for being here.

ART MCCOY, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: Thank you. Thank you, Reverend Al,
for having us.

SHARPTON: Now, let me go to you first, Art. We know the police spoke
to the suspect in 2004. He also had contact with police prior to the
kidnappings. Did you think these were missed opportunities?

MCCOY: Reverend, let me tell you something. If the police department
would have did like the activists did, then this case would have been
solved a long time ago. Listen, we have people -- listen, I just happen to
be in front of the mike, but I have people like George, Allen, Calvin,
others, Donny, that have been on the front lines searching for these kids
for over eight to ten years.


MCCOY: And I tell you something, the reason we got involved, Reverend
Al, is because Amanda Berry`s parents, the mother of Amanda Berry, the
first girl that was missing, she couldn`t get the help she wanted from the
police. So she went to the activists. And we are the ones that put the
flyers out. We were the ones that went o in the street. And from that
action, then the police got involved. But it was a day and a dollar too

At the same thing with Gina Dejesus. Felix Dejesus, the father, came
to us and said, hey, the police isn`t responding like they`re supposed to.
My daughter`s missing. What do I do? We said the activists in the
community say we will get flyers. We will go out and we will start
working. And that way when we start working, then the police came in.

So, yes, there`s definitely a lack of -- when it comes to looking for
children, there`s definitely a lack in the police, Reverend Al.

SHARPTON: Art, you`ve done an exceptional job, you and the other
activists. Tell me how the families cope with all of this.

MCCOY: Reverend al, that`s a very good question. Because Lawanda, a
beautiful long haired Indian lady, Amanda Berry`s mother, listen, I was at
her funeral a few years ago. She died from heartbreak from not knowing
where -- she`s thinking that her daughter, Amanda Berry, would never come
back and was dead.

On the other side, Felix Dejesus and Nancy Dejesus, they stayed strong
to the end even though Felix Dejesus became -- his health became bad
staying up overnight wondering and worrying about his daughter.

But in the end, what kept us strong, what kept us activists strong,
brother Al, no matter whether we was digging a hole, tearing up a garage,
looking for these girls or digging a hole somewhere else, Nancy Dejesus
always told like this. She said that her daughter was alive. Nancy
Dejesus said, my daughter`s alive. My daughter isn`t in that hole. My
daughter isn`t in that abandoned building. My daughter`s alive. And
though sometimes we were pessimistic, Nancy Dejesus, the mother of Gina
Dejesus, we stayed strong.

And I tell you something. I stand here and testify today, brother Al,
Reverend Al, that Nancy Dejesus was right. Gina lives! Amanda lives! And
the other young lady, Michelle, live also.

Reverend Al, I know we got a lot to talk about, the sadness of it all.
But Reverend Al, you`re a minister, and right now we feel like shouting, is
that right?

SHARPTON: That`s right.

MCCOY: Can I hear you shout?

SHARPTON: Wait a minute, let me ask Joe a question.

What kind of student, Joe, was Amanda? You were her teacher, her
science teacher. And you knew her well before she was kidnapped.

JOE KAPOSTASY, AMANDA BERRY`S TEACHER: To give you a perspective, she
was in a class 20 boys and five girls. The 20 boys were not the best of
characters. She was a cute little girl. The boys were hitting on her.
They did not like her because she was a smart girl. But she was a tough
girl. And it did not surprise me that she was the one who finally broke
out of that house. She was a tremendous girl.

SHARPTON: Joe Kapostasy, thank you so much. Art McCoy, thank you and
all the activists for staying with the families all through this year.

Thank you both for being on tonight.

Coming up, Chris Christie has secret surgery to lose weight. I know a
thing or two about weight loss. And I`m giving him free advice tonight.

And on a much more serious note, a stunning rise in sexual assaults in
the military. The president is vowing to fix it.


is betraying the uniform that they are wearing. We are not going to
tolerate this stuff. And there will be accountability.


SHARPTON: Tonight, a shocking new report on sexual assault in the
military. And President Obama is vowing to fix what becomes a shameful
epidemic in the military. We`ll talk live with the congresswoman leading
the charge. That`s next.


SHARPTON: Today, more and more Americans are learning about a
shameful tragedy in our Armed Forces. An epidemic of sexual assaults
within the military. The problem is even worse than many people realized.
A brand-new study from the Pentagon shows a sharp rise in military sexual
assaults, up from an estimated 19,000 in 2011 to 26,000 last year alone.
But few of those assaults are being reported to military officials.

Of the 26,000 estimated assaults last year, only about 3,300 were
officially reported to the military. The report comes just one day after
the shocking news that the colonel in charge of reducing sexual assaults in
the Air Force was, himself, arrested for sexually assaulting a woman over
the weekend. Today lawmakers were outraged.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: If the man in charge for the Air Force in
preventing sexual assault is being alleged to have committed a sexual
assault this weekend, obviously there`s a failing in training and
understanding of what sexual assault is and how corrosive and damaging it
is to good order and discipline.


SHARPTON: The President echoed that anger today, promising to set up
efforts to fix the problem.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: Sexual assault is an outrage.
It is a crime. That`s true for society at large, and if it`s happening
inside our military, then whoever carries it out is betraying the uniform
that they`re wearing. I have directly spoken to Secretary Hagel already
today and indicating to him that we`re going to have to, you know, not just
step up our game, we have to exponentially step up our game to go at this
thing hard.


SHARPTON: Joining me now is Congresswoman Jackie Speier, democrat
from California. She`s a member of the House Armed Services Committee and
has sponsored her own bill to address sexual assaults in the military.
Congresswoman, thanks for being here tonight.


SHARPTON: What`s your reaction to this new Pentagon report?

SPEIER: It`s a national disgrace, Reverend Al. The fact that with
all the time and energy and the amount of money being spent to try and make
people feel safe in the military and to reduce the incidents of sexual
assault and rape, to have it go up over 33 percent is a national disgrace.
And when you look at the reporting in terms of the rate of reporting, it
has actually declined. So the number of restricted and unrestricted
reports as a percentage of these 26,000 cases now has actually declined.


SPEIER: So it`s going in the wrong way. A double "F" is what I gave
the SAPRO report today.

SHARPTON: A double "F." Well, you know, the President addressed
members of the military who are victims of sexual assault. Listen.


OBAMA: And for those who are in uniform who`ve experienced sexual
assault, I want them to hear directly from their commander-in -chief that
I`ve got their backs. I will support them. And we`re not going tolerate
this stuff. And there will be accountability.


SHARPTON: Now, that`s the President today addressing the victims.
You have, Congresswoman, introduced a bill to address this problem. It
would improve prevention of and response to sexual assault. It would setup
sexual assault oversight and response council. And it would hire director
of military prosecution for military sexual offenses. Now, do you expect
today`s Pentagon report to help move this bill to a vote?

SPEIER: It absolutely should move this bill to a hearing. You know,
there are 122 members that have already signed on to this legislation. To
take the actual reporting of these crimes out of the chain of command and
put it in a separate office within the military so that we have prosecutors
who are trained and investigators who are trained to make the decision
whether or not a case should move forward to court martial.

Right now, that decision is made by the commander. A commander who
has no legal training. And what we find is that very few of these cases go
to court martial. So you can understand why victims are reluctant to
actually report these crimes, because more often than not, what happens is
they get ostracized. They get labeled with having a personality disorder.
And they get discharged from the military.

So it was wonderful to hear the president say to the victims, I`ve got
your back. And that should mean to everyone in the military, it`s about
time for heads to roll by those who are committing these offenses. What
happens more often than not is they get non-judicial punishment. They stay
in the military. And they can continue with their behavior.

SHARPTON: You know, earlier this year I spoke with Virginia Messick,
an Air Force recruit who was raped by her training instructor. She told me
how difficult the investigation process was for her. Listen.


VIRGINIA MESSICK, AIR FORCE RECRUIT: One of the investigators got
very hostile with me. And he threw a piece of paper and a pen down and
told me that if I wrote a statement, that he would leave me alone. I don`t
understand where at any point if -- since my -- my rape do I ever want to
express what happened to me to two complete strangers. Especially now a
male investigator who`s being hostile towards me. There`s no way I`m going
to want to talk to them.


SHARPTON: Congresswoman, if investigators are being hostile to
victims of sexual assault, I mean, how can we expect more of them to come

SPEIER: Well, that`s the problem. You know, the system is absolutely
rigged against the victim. The victim gets re-victimized a second time
when the investigator asks them questions. When the defense attorney can
ask them questions and ask them about their prior sexual history, believe
it or not. I mean, we have rape shield laws in this country in the
civilian world. In the civilian world, a woman who is raped or a man who
is raped is treated with kindness and empathy by the D.A. and by the

Because they want to, you know, get as much information as possible
from the victim without, you know, creating more agitation. It`s just the
reverse in the military. And that`s what`s got to change. And that`s why
taking it out of the chain of command is so critical and why the military
has got to recognize this.

SHARPTON: Well, we`re going to watch this issue and watch your bill
very closely. Congresswoman Jackie Speier, thank you for your time

SPEIER: My pleasure.

SHARPTON: Ahead, a late ruling to stop an execution that was due to
happen just moments from now. Now, a fight to make sure justice gets

Plus, I weigh in on today`s big revelation from New Jersey Governor
Chris Christie. Stay with us.


SHARPTON: A dramatic ruling tonight in Mississippi. Where the state
Supreme Court has indefinitely delayed an execution that was scheduled to
happen just minutes from now. Death row inmate Willie Manning was set to
die by lethal injection for the 1992 shooting deaths of two college
students. But in recent days, the Justice Department admitted that
Manning`s trial was marred by, quote, "invalid testimony from FBI experts."

Officials now say the FBI incorrectly testified about hair samples and
bullets found at the scene. Manning`s lawyers are demanding DNA testing on
that physical evidence. Tests they say will prove his innocence. But
today`s ruling does not indicate whether the state Supreme Court will allow
those DNA tests to happen. Of course, we don`t know if those tests will
prove Manning`s innocence or guilt. But those tests must be done to be
sure that justice is served.

We`ll be watching the Willie Manning case and keep you informed.


SHARPTON: Chris Christie and I don`t agree on much. But we do have
one big thing in common. We know -- we both know about carrying around
extra weight. I went on a diet to fix it and Christie went under the
knife. We learned today that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie secretly
underwent lap band surgery three months ago in an attempt to lose weight.
He says it`s all about his health and his family.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: It`s not a career issue for me.
It is a long-term health issue for me. This is about Mary Pat and the kids
and me. It`s really not about anybody else. And it shouldn`t be about
anybody else. Everybody`s going to have opinions as is obvious from this,
you know, scrum of people here today. But I don`t -- with all due respect
to everybody here, your opinions on this issue really don`t matter a whole
hell of a lot to me.


SHARPTON: I can certainly sympathize. When you`re big, everybody`s
got an opinion about it. But this surgery is the latest twist in what`s
become a public issue for the governor. It was even part of a
controversial attack ad against him a few years ago.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: In both cases, Christie threw his weight around as
U.S. attorney and got off easy. If you didn`t pay your taxes, ignored
ethics laws, would you get away with it? Chris Christie. One set of rules
for himself. Another for everyone else.


SHARPTON: Earlier this year, Christie told a former White House
doctor to shut up after the doctor said he could die in office. And he`s
been even asked point-blank, is he too fat to be president.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: There are people who say that you couldn`t be
president because you`re so heavy. What do you say to them?

CHRISTIE: That`s ridiculous. I mean, that`s ridiculous.


SHARPTON: I`m not sure what`s ridiculous or not. But, governor, if
you need help slimming down, give me a call. I have a special Reverend Al
diet in mind just for you.

Joining me now is Krystal Ball and Joan Walsh. Joan`s writing about
Christie in "Salon" today. Thank you both for coming on the show.

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC CO-HOST, "THE CYCLE": Thanks for having us, Rev.


SHARPTON: Krystal, let`s cut to the chase. Could this be the first
step toward a run for the White House in 2016 for Chris Christie?

BALL: Well, the timing is certainly very good. I mean, I don`t want
to doubt the guy`s motivations. I`m sure he is sincerely concerned about
his health and thinking about his family and wife. But unfortunately, it`s
very unfair but people do, as you`re indicating, judge someone based on
their weight. There`s still that stigma. And so, not only that, but if he
is going to run for president, which I think that he would have a good shot
at both the republican nomination and would be a strong contender, that`s a
very grueling task. You have to be physically fit.

SHARPTON: Just campaigning I know is grueling.

BALL: Exactly. It`s incredibly grueling. So, you have to be fit.
You have to be in good shape. Now would be a good time to go ahead and
start taking those pounds off so that he`d be ready for the campaign trail.

SHARPTON: And Joan, we can`t in recent memory think of a president
that was overweight. At least didn`t appear to be overweight.

WALSH: No. I mean, Bill Clinton had some problems with weight and
fought it and took the weight off. And that was the context. When that
White House doctor said that Christie was overweight and could die in
office, she actually helped Bill Clinton lose 30 pounds.

SHARPTON: And Clinton very publicly and actively showed he was trying
to lose it.

WALSH: So, I guess I question the secrecy here, too, Reverend Al.
Because this is a man, like him or not, he`s got a real reputation for
candor. He blasted that doctor, he called her a hag, a week before he was
going in to have the surgery. So, he went in under a pseudonym. I wish
him all the best. I hope that he can --

SHARPTON: Well, maybe the doctor inspired him. I mean, on the
presidential level, look at the last five presidents. They`re all in
fairly good shape. I mean, do voters care about weight even if they don`t
realize it, Krystal?

BALL: I think they do. And this is a thing that`s very hard to poll.
Because you ask people, you know, would this bother you if someone`s
overweight. They may or may not even realize the subconscious judgments
that they`re making of individuals.

I mean, one thing that I really applaud Chris Christie for and I don`t
agree with him on much, but I appreciate the way that he has sort of
publicly grappled with his issue of weight. It has been an open topic of

SHARPTON: And he`s handle it well.

BALL: And he`s handled it well.

SHARPTON: Let me show you, Joan. He had to deal with jokes from the
best. David Letterman. Let me show you that.


DAVID LETTERMAN, COMEDIAN: I have made jokes about you not just one
or two. Not just ongoing here and there. Intermittent. But --



CHRISTIE: I didn`t know this was going to be this long.



SHARPTON: So, I mean, he`s handled it, he`s laughed along. And I can
tell you, you know, I`ve had cartoons all done on me when I was heavy. And
you can learn not to let it bother you. But his children, as he said, it`s
another thing. What started me dieting was my youngest daughter. I didn`t
care what any commentator said. My youngest daughter Ashley said, dad, why
are you so fat? I went on a diet that day.

BALL: That`s a motivation.

WALSH: Yes, that is a motivation.

SHARPTON: I call it offensive. But go ahead.

WALSH: Yes. Really. What was up with that?


WALSH: I truly wish him luck. It`s tough. This is not necessarily
the best way to do it, either. But maybe you will give him some health
tips. Because people gain the weight back after this surgery. It`s going
to take a lot of work and will power.

SHARPTON: Will power, discipline, that`s key. But politically,
Krystal, his approval rating is high. Even among groups that normally
don`t go republican. Sixty seven percent among all voters. Seventy three
percent among independents. Sixty six among union households. Sixty five
percent among Hispanics. Sixty three among women. He`s polling very high.

BALL: Yes. That`s right. And I do think that in terms of the
potential republican contenders for 2016, I personally think he is the most
formidable. And he might have an issue in the republican primary because
he has taken some more moderate positions, but he`s a skilled politician.
He`s a charming guy. And he has a sort of in your face style that I think
Republicans like.

WALSH: I don`t see him getting out of that primary process. I really

SHARPTON: Because of how far right he is?

WALSH: Yes. Because how far right it got. I admired him for
standing up and saying President Obama did a good job during Sandy. But
that could be --

SHARPTON: I respected him for that even though we don`t agree on much

WALSH: Right.

SHARPTON: But on the weight question, did it give him sort of the
image of the guy next door? And as he slims down, does he lose some of
that, you know, I`m the guy that everybody knows in the neighborhood?

WALSH: I don`t see him turning into George Clooney. So, I think he`s
going to be the guy in the neighborhood. Because the guy in the
neighborhood is struggling with his weight, too. So, I don`t think it
really affects him. I think there`s a strong class bias in a lot of our
judgments about people who are overweight. And therefore, I`ve always
defended him on this particular point.


WALSH: But I think as he struggles with it he can be the every man
who is, you know, going up and down and hopefully going down and getting

SHARPTON: But that`s the risk, you know, that folksy thing. Because
I knew I was, you know, Reverend Al, brother Al to everybody. I lost
weight, became a sex symbol. It`s just hard.

WALSH: I know.

SHARPTON: Krystal Ball and Joan Walsh, thanks for being on the show

BALL: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Be sure to catch Krystal on "THE CYCLE," weekdays at 3:00
p.m. right here on MSNBC.

Ahead, why the story of Cleveland women is about the human spirit.
And never giving up hope. That`s next.


SHARPTON: Ten years ago, three teenage girls vanished without a trace
in Cleveland, Ohio. But today after a decade of searching, they`re
reconnecting, reuniting with their families and starting to restart their
lives together. Amanda Berry`s mom refused to believe she was dead, never
giving up hope her daughter was alive. She died seven years ago of cancer.
Friends say she died of a broken heart. But today, we know she was right.
Amanda was alive. Her mom would be proud of her. Also today, another
victim, Gina DeJesus talked about the strength of all three women.


SANDRA RUIZ, AUNT OF GINA DEJESUS: God works in mysterious ways. You
would never -- I mean, it`s just unbelievable. Unbelievable. These girls,
these women, are so strong. Stronger than I am. I will tell you that
much. And they all have a positive attitude. And this is what we need
from everyone. If you don`t believe in miracles, I suggest you think
again. Because it does happen.


SHARPTON: These women are so strong, yes, Sandra, they are. And it`s
inspiring to see families of the 58,000 children that are abducted every
year. That will be the focus tonight in Washington where the National
Center for Missing and Exploited Children hold their hope awards, honoring
law enforcement and heroes like Jaycee Dugard who was kidnapped at 11-
years-old while walking from home to a school bus stop in California. She
was held captive in a backyard for 18 years where she gave birth to two
children conceived by rape.

But she never gave up hope. And today she says the Ohio women show we
should never give up hope. There`s still so many who refuse to give up.
Like the family of Jacob Wetterling who was last seen on October 22nd,
1989. Twenty four years later, Jacob`s mother asked us to show the age
progressed photo of Jacob. How he would look today. It`s another story of
never giving up hope.

Today we see there`s reason to believe. We see that miracles can
happen and do happen. And that`s inspiring. Don`t ever give up hope.
Sometime the darkest point of night is right before dawn. Don`t give up.
If anything Ohio shows us, miracles still happen.

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


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