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PoliticsNation, Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Read the transcript from the Wednesday show

August 21, 2013

Guests: Kathy Castor, Karen Finney, Joy Reid, Douglas Brinkley, James Peterson

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

Tonight, 50 years after Dr. Martin Luther King`s I have a dream
speech, Republicans have their own dream, to impeach President Obama. It`s
the latest sign of just how desperate the GOP has become. They lost the
election, they don`t have an agenda, and they can`t stop the president`s
health care law. That`s why you`re hearing ridiculous talk about
impeachment at town halls with Republican lawmakers.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He needs to be stopped. Yes, we need to get
that -- it should have been started a long, long time ago. Is somebody
going to finally draw up something that`s going to stop this runaway train
we have in the White House?

REP. KERRY BENTIVOLIO (R), MICHIGAN: You know, if I could write that
bill and submit it --



BENTIVOLIO: Excuse me. It would be a dream come true. I feel your
pain. I know. I stood 12 feet away from the guy and listened to him and I
couldn`t stand being there. But because he is president I have to respect
the office.


SHARPTON: It would be a dream come true to impeach President Obama?

Now, in fairness, I would expect this type of talk coming from the
Congressman Bentivolio, the Republican from Michigan. He`s a professional
Santa Claus impersonator and he`s posed shirtless with a reindeer. I`m not
sure the reindeer`s enjoying that.

But look, it`s not just half naked Santas who are threatening to
impeach the president. Senator Ted Cruz was asked about it this week too.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: It`s a good question. I`ll tell you the
simplest answer. To successfully impeach a president, you need to votes in
the Senate and Harry Reid and the Democrats controlling the Senate. It
can`t succeed.


SHARPTON: You are right. It can`t succeed because he hasn`t done
anything wrong. But that doesn`t stop the rest of your GOP cronies from
entertaining this same kind of garbage.


REP. STEVE STOCKMAN (R), TEXAS: We want all tools available to use
including the impeachment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He continues, could that build up to make a case
for a possible impeachment?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All options should be on the table.

REP. BLAKE FARENTHOLD (R), TEXAS: If we were to impeach the president
tomorrow, you could probably get the votes in the House of Representatives
to do it. But it would go to the Senate and it wouldn`t be held up.

SEN. JIM INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: People may be starting to use the i-
word before too long.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The i-word meaning impeachment?


BENTIVOLIO: I went back to my office and I have lawyers come in and
these are lawyers, well, they are PhDs in history and I said tell me how I
can impeach the president of the United States.


SHARPTON: The constitution says presidents can only be impeached for
quote, "high crimes and misdemeanors." Is it a crime to provide health
care to millions of Americans? Is it a crime to help seniors with their
drug costs or to protect people with pre-existing conditions? No, it`s
not. The real crime is the fraud that Republicans are trying to pull on
the American people.

Joining me now are Ed Rendell and Abby Huntsman. Thank you both for
coming on t show.



SHARPTON: Governor Rendell, I mean some Republicans are actually
talking about impeachment over health care. Have you ever seen a political
party so pathetic? I mean, the Supreme Court upheld the healthcare act as
legal and constitutional. What are they talking about?

RENDELL: Well, and you hit the nail on the head. You can only be
impeached not for policy that someone dislikes or disagrees with, but for
high crimes and misdemeanors.

Look, as a loyal Democrat, Rev., I love hearing that talk and let me
tell you why. It adds to what I call the wacko factor. And I think there
were a lot of people in 2012 who might not have been sold on re-electing
President Obama, who might have thought that Mitt Romney was a pretty
reasonable guy who thought I can`t vote for Romney, though, because the GOP
is controlled by a bunch of crazies. Whacks. And the average citizen who
listens to impeach the president for what, they think these guys were flat
out nuts. And that helps us dramatically and it hurts the Republican

Somebody in that party ought to be saying come on guys, we`re not
going to impeach the president. He hasn`t committed crimes. Let`s get
about the business of making policy. Until they do, they are going to be a
minority party for a long period of time.

SHARPTON: Well, how about it, Abby? You are a Republican and I have
some Republican friends, maybe 20 and you`re two of them. Would some
responsible Republicans stand up to this?

HUNTSMAN: To Governor Rendell`s point, I mean, the person that should
have stood up was Senator Ted Cruz. What he should have said is that`s a
crazy stupid question. You actually have to do something to get impeached
which President Obama has not done.

What you`re seeing here, though, is still a strong market place for
angry voters against President Obama. I mean, it`s interesting. You look
back at the 2012 primary and over half of Republican voters thought that
President Obama was not born in the United States. And those numbers
remain very high which is a sad state of affairs.

But you have to give it to someone like Ted Cruz. I mean, he knows
how to throw out fire debate. You know, he knows how to throw bombs at.
That is really what he is known for and the base loves it. They love that
he plays back to that.

So, you know, I think this is frustrating. You mentioned young
people, Reverend. It`s frustrating for young Republicans that want the
party to move in a different direction that actually gets to winning
elections again. And seeing someone like a Senator Ted Cruz who has the
microphone yet is only using it to throw out these bombs. And to say
things that frankly my mind are disingenuous. You have a guy that is Ivy
League educated. He went to Harvard. HE went to Princeton. He knows very
well what he`s saying, in fact, is not rational. So, I think frankly it`s
disingenuous to voters.

SHARPTON: Well, Governor, you know, Ted Cruz was heckled over and
over again just yesterday at an anti-Obama town hall. Listen to this.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Gentlemen, thank you for sharing your
views. You know, part of the first amendment is about respecting others.
Sir --



SHARPTON: Now, this, Governor, is not exactly the reaction the
Republicans were looking for going out on these town halls. People
chanting you have health care, so should we. But then Cruz at this town
hall said we shouldn`t blink. We can`t blink in the fight over health
care. Listen to this.


CRUZ: Can we mobilize grassroots America?

CROWD: Yes, we can!

CRUZ: And can we defund Obama care?

CROWD: Yes, we can!

CRUZ: We`ve got to do something conservatives haven`t done in a long
time. We have got to stand up and win the argument. If you have an
impasse, you want to know one side or the other has to blink. How do we
win this fight? Don`t blink.


SHARPTON: Don`t blink. I mean, since when have the Republicans not
stood up to President Obama? I mean, am I missing something here,

RENDELL: No, you`re not missing anything. But Ted Cruz is dead
wrong. And he is making a political mistake. He`s again catering to the
wacko function of his party.

Today, Pat Toomey, a solid conservative, I think everyone would agree
to that. Pat Toomey said you`re not going to shut down the government
trying to repeal health care. It`s a bad idea.

Same voices in the Republican Party have said that. And yet Ted Cruz
keeps preaching a course of action which 52 percent of Republican voters.
You saw that poll we discussed it last week, 52 percent of Republican
voters don`t want Obama care repealed at this point. They want it changed.
They want it modified. They want it amended. They want it to go forward.
They knows, they don`t want to go back and fight those fights.

AS you said, the Supreme Court said it`s legal. It`s passed into law.
There are so many good things about it. People got checks back from their
health care providers because they weren`t using the money for health care.
They got rebates. There are so many good things about the law. And the
reason they are afraid is more and more people find out about Obamacare,
the affordable health care act, more they`re going to like it.

SHARPTON: Now, Abby, the "Politico" came out today saying Governor
Rick Perry who has been a huge critic of healthcare law, he has accepted an
estimated $100 million from the health care law to care for the elderly and

Now, is this going to be just like the stimulus. Criticize the law
but use it when it looks good in front of your constituents?

HUNTSMAN: Well, that`s exactly what he should be doing. I think
governors are realizing more and more that it`s to their benefit to take in
the money. So, I think you are going to see more and more governors do
exactly what Governor Rick Perry did.

And I think Governor Rendell makes a great point about someone like
Senator Ted Cruz making a political mistake. I mean, you have to wonder
what his long-term game is here. I mean, he fires up the base. This will
play really well in the primaries, but doesn`t do well in the general.

So I don`t even know, frankly, that he cares about, you know, the
direction of the card to actually win a general election because the tone
he`s taking right now, I mean, that is not a winning tone. That`s not
going to get him anywhere past the primary stage. So, it`s frankly pretty
frustrating to watch.

But to your point about Rick Perry, I think you`re going to see more
and more governors taking Obamacare because that simply is the law, you
know. I think Republicans are recognizing this is a law. This is a losing
battle for us. And let`s just do what`s best for our state.

SHARPTON: All right. Ed Rendell and Abby Huntsman, I`m going to have
to leave it there. Thank you very much for your time this evening.

And don`t forget to catch Abby on "the Cycle" week days at 3:00 p.m.
right here on MSNBC.

Ahead, the victims of the GOP`s anti-government hysteria. Tens of
thousands of little kids, preschoolers, who may be denied a head start in


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need this program because it gives them the
support they need. It gives them that little boost. There were kids that
needed a lot of help and they got it from this program.


SHARPTON: And the GOP`s anti-Obama scandal machine has just blown a
fuse. Turns out the facts got in the way.

Plus, the march on Washington 50 years later. We will take you behind
the scenes before the march when the skeptics and the cynics were telling
Dr. King to slow down.


MARTIN LUTHER KING JR., ACTIVIST: Instead of slowing up, we must push
at this point and we must continue to move on. And I`m convinced that our
moving on will not only help the Negro cause so to speak, but the whole of


SHARPTON: Also what`s on your mind? E-mail me. Friend or foe I want
to know. "Reply Al" is ahead.

I`m live from California tonight. Stay with us.


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

Many of our facebook fans are already excited about this weekend`s
commemoration and continuation of the march on Washington.

Elizabeth says we need to refocus on Dr. King`s dream.

Gordon says without equality and an end to institutional racism, this
country will never reach its full potential.

I agree.

Gregg writes that he`s using the badge from the 1963 march as his
profile picture.

Nice touch, Gregg.

Want to learn more about the march? We have got all the information
on our page. 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: We are back with the GOP`s war on the poor and their
cruelty knows no bounds. This time they are going after children. The GOP
backed automatic budget cuts have slashed $400 million from the early
education program head start. That helps low income families. That will
kick over 57,000 preschoolers off the program that serves as a lifeline for
many families who have nowhere else to turn.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Head start is going to enroll fewer children
because of sequester mandated budget cuts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These are the most, you know, devastating cuts
that we have ever seen, the sequestration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have my four children with me when I was
homeless at the time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They make you feel bad about being poor. Even
though you`re doing everything right like I`m going back to school, I`m
doing everything I`m supposed to do. But you can`t get a break.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They need this program because they gave them
the support they need. They give them that boost. There are kids that
needed a lot of help and they got it from this program.


SHARPTON: But Republicans see it that way. When the sequester cuts
were passed, they were falling over each other to congratulate themselves.

Speaker Boehner called it a positive step forward.

Congressman Eric Cantor said it was quote, "the first big change we
have accomplished."

And Congressman Paul Ryan flat out called it a victory.

A victory for whom congressman? Certainly not the 57,000 children you
just denied a chance for a better education.

Joining me now is Congresswoman Kathy Castor, Democrat from Florida.

Thank you for being here tonight.


SHARPTON: Congresswoman, just over 1200 kids have been kicked off
head start in Florida. How do your colleagues defend this?

CASTOR: This is very serious. The Republicans insistence upon the
sequester cuts, their refusal to negotiate on the budget is having a real
world impact on families here in Florida, but all across the country.

We know economists tell us that it`s going to put us behind by over a
million and a half jobs, but the real world impact in neighborhoods across
America, all you have to do is look into the head start classrooms. To
think over 1200 young children here in the state of Florida will be
impacted will not have the same opportunity they have before Republicans
insistence on the cuts.

You know, head start works. The consensus, that out there says if you
concentrate on children at the early ages in preschool and give them the
tools they need, the nutrition, the health. Require parents to be
involved. Then they have a greater chance to succeed in life. So the
Republicans putting up these road blocks, they`re in essence saying to
children across America, we don`t believe in you. We don`t believe you
should have that opportunity.

SHARPTON: And I wanted to push you a little on the point you say
about head start works. Because people around the country need to
understand 57,000 children will no longer reap the vital benefits from head
start which is better literacy skills, increased earnings and employment
when they graduate, even better health. I mean, how can people on the
other side of the aisle from you, Congresswoman, justify cutting this
program for tens of thousands of children? This is beyond partisan
politics here.

CASTOR: It really is. It`s hard to understand their rationale. They
are kind of playing (INAUDIBLE) politics by putting their heads in the sand
and ignoring the data that demonstrates that students that have early head
start in life if they get the health services and nutrition and that
intensive education, that requires the parents to be involved. Requires
the parents to be sure that they are looking at self-sufficiency for
themselves. Like right here in Tampa, I have met a number of parents who
said thanks to head start. They were able to go back to school, get their
degree, and they`re working. And maybe their next -- their other children
don`t qualify because now they are working. So, it`s not just an
initiative focused on the kids. It`s also the entire family.

SHARPTON: That`s what I was going to ask.

Now, that parents are getting ready to go back to schools, schools are
reopening and different jobs around that, will they start feeling the heat
now as situations of the summer starts to draw to an end? In fact, I see
that groups will be holding events in congressional districts around the
country to raise awareness to the harmful budget cuts. Supporters will
line up, empty child sized seats in front of head start buildings to show
many children will be losing out. Will Republicans listen to things like
this? Are they going to start feeling the heat, Congress woman?

CASTOR: They better feel the heat because head start has been a
successful initiative for almost 50 years. And now the Republicans in the
United States Congress right now are responsible for the worst cuts in the
history of head start.

But in addition to that, they`re hearing across my community from the
young talented researchers at our cancer center that are not going to have
jobs or research projects. They`re hearing from mental health counselors
at our local Air Force base where they are being furloughed. They`re
hearing from food banks, hungry people that are going to go without. And
all they have to do is come to the table and negotiate. But I serve on the
budget committee with Paul Ryan. And I have seen no inclination to turning
the cuts around. And I`m afraid it`s going to get a lot worse.

SHARPTON: I got to hold it there. Thank you, Congresswoman Kathy
Castor. Thank you for your time this evening.

CASTOR: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, the Nixon/Reagan history that Republicans try to
forget. They like to talk scandal, but there`s big news about a real
scandal tonight.

But first, the NRA`s dirty little secret. They have been caught red-
handed exposed for their own hypocrisy. That`s next.


SHARPTON: When Republicans were desperately trying to stop gun
control a few months ago, they all settled on one bogus talking point.
That it would create some kind of national database of gun owners.


SEN. KELLY AYOTE (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: I have a lot of concerns about
that leading to a registry.

SEN. MIKE LEE (R), UTAH: To a national registry system for guns.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: People are worried about the government
knowing where all the guns are and who has a gun and who doesn`t.


SHARPTON: A registry. That`s how they tried to scare gun owners. Of
course, the federal government had no interest in creating this kind of
database but the NRA did.

Today, "Buzzfeed" reported that the gun lobby giant has built a quote,
"massive secret database of gun owners." The NRA has been collecting this
information for years. They get the info from gun permit lists, gun safety
classes, attendees to gun shows, and subscribers to rifle magazines, all
without people`s knowledge or consent. What do you say about that, Mr.


That`s what they`re after. The names of good, decent people all over this
great country who happen to own a firearm. To go into a federal database
for universal registration of every gun owner in America.

And the worst thing, you`re creating a registry of all the law-abiding
people in the country that own firearms.


SHARPTON: As president Clinton once said, it takes some brass to
attack a guy for doing something you did.

Did the NRA think we wouldn`t notice their massive hypocrisy on this?
Nice try, but we got you.


SHARPTON: Forty years ago, we watched the worst political scandal in
U.S. history unfold. Watergate. Just today the Nixon Library released its
final batch of secret White House tapes from the Watergate era. In this
tape future President Ronald Reagan called President Nixon after Nixon`s
first public speech on the Watergate scandal in April of 1973.


was the right speech, did you?

so, yes.

NIXON: Had to say it. Had to say it. Well, it`s nice of you to
call. OK.

REAGAN: This too shall pass.


SHARPTON: This too shall pass. Wishful thinking. Nixon resigned in
disgrace the following year. But these days, the right wing can`t get
enough of Watergate and ginning up phony scandals to pin on President


REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: This makes Watergate look like
child`s play.

REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: If you add Watergate and Iran-contra
together and multiply it times maybe ten or so, you`re going to get in the
zone where Benghazi is.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The problem is, the guy has failed to be forthright
and honest and credible on things like Benghazi and the IRS. So, he`s got
no credibility.

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: Is the IRS scandal like Watergate?
That is the subject of this evening`s talking points memo. The sad truth
is that some supporters of President Obama, they want to know the truth.
And I was just saying, way back in 1972.


SHARPTON: The right loves to blame President Obama over allegations
the IRS unfairly targeted conservative groups. The only problem? It`s not
true. New documents show the IRS also gave extra scrutiny to some
democratic groups. Check this out. It`s an actual document -- IRS
document telling screeners to watch out for successes to the group ACORN.
That`s right. ACORN. The right`s favorite boogeyman.

Look. The IRS even used a little cute ACORN as a reminder. Screeners
were looking for groups doing political work on both sides of the aisle.
Yes, they were screening Tea Party groups. But they were also looking for
progressive groups. It wasn`t a left wing conspiracy after all. The real
scandal is the right wing`s phony persecution of this president.

Joining me now are Karen Finney and Joy Reid. Thank you both for
being here.



SHARPTON: So, Joy, the whole IRS scandal is totally made up. I mean,
should I hold my breath from apology by the GOP?


REID: You know, I`m disappointed Reverend. That little ACORN was so
cute. I don`t know how anybody could think that that was threatening.
But, you know, the Republican Party, I`m glad you started back with
Watergate, Rev. Because the sort of politics of grievance as animated the
Republican Party for a long time. Right? So, ever since Nixon had to
resign, they`ve been looking for a way to create a democratic Nixon. So,
they went after Clinton and try to sort of create, well, look, now you have
an impeached president just like the Republicans do.

And then you have George W. Bush. They say, well, you know, people
weren`t nice to George W. Bush so we`re going to be extra mean to Barack
Obama. And they`re constantly sort of framing their policies that`s a
reaction to bad things the Democrats have done. Now, in the IRS case,
there has been, you know, a really pernicious potential use of the IRS.
And this is sort of Nixonian would be to go after political enemies. But
the only person who`s ever done that, you`ve seen democratic leaning groups
or liberal leaning groups complaining that they were audited, audited
during the Bush administration including the NAACP.

SHARPTON: That`s right.

REID: That is closer to the Nixonian sort of model than the idea that
the IRS is doing its job by stopping from abusing 501c4 status.

SHARPTON: But Karen, we saw a Congressional hearings, we saw a lot of
allegations -- around, now we find out the IRS was also looking for
successors to ACORN. Even using those cute little acorns there looking for
progressive groups. Anyone that looks political. What happened to all of
this noise we were hearing on The Hill?

FINNEY: Well, you remember that it was Congressman Elijah Cummings
who pointed out some time ago that if anybody is being Nixonian, it is
Darrell Issa. Because Issa was essentially kind of limiting the amount of
information that was coming out to paint a specific picture that he wanted
painted. Remember there was that back and forth between Cummings and Issa
where Cummings said, you have to give everybody all the information.
Because once we saw all the information, we found out things like
essentially it was a Reagan appointee who thought he was doing this kind of
targeting with the right thing to do.


FINNEY: Why? Because of Citizens United. And that a lot of the
groups that they`ve looked at actually ended up were in violation of the
law. So, I mean, Joy is exactly right. They`ve been trying to, you know,
accuse this president of overreach and, you know, abusive power. But I
mean, you know, when you`ve got Dick Cheney questioning your integrity, you
know that you`re doing something right.

SHARPTON: And when you have Joy the comparisons to Watergate, I mean,
when you are just overreaching in your criticism, fine. Fine, we all have
our political views. But comparing to Watergate, something that was
outright proven and criminal, to something that you are speculating that
maybe some bureaucrats and being supervised by republican supervises and
Republicans there at the IRS, how do you even make the comparison?

REID: Right. In response to political groups in the right, who were
doing openly political work. You had some of these Tea Party groups
sending out Mitt Romney literature and wanting a tax exemptions which means
we have to subsidize them as taxpayers. So, the IRS was just doing their
job. I always thought this was a phony scandal in the sense I guess, I do
want the IRS to double check if I`m going to have to subsidize some Tea
Party group that`s clearly doing politics. But I just have to say, Rev,
the Barack Obama in conservatives` minds is this terrifying ogre who every
time the real Barack Obama comes out and talk and he`s on television is so
completely different that that`s why their narrative is so absurd. It`s
absurd when you just listen to Obama.

FINNEY: But Rev, we shouldn`t --

SHARPTON: Go ahead, Karen.

FINNEY: I was going to say, we shouldn`t forget that part of the goal
here has been part and we`ve heard Republicans kind of admit this frankly
in that building behind me. That part of their goal is to use this IRS
scandal to gin up more fear about Obamacare. Because you remember the IRS
will have a limited role in helping six million people actually get the
subsidies they need to be able to access Obamacare. And remember earlier
this year, some of the Republicans admitted part of their goal with this
scandal was to use it as a way to deny the IRS the funds that they need to
carry out that portion of Obamacare.

SHARPTON: Now, Joy, will the fact that these scandals keep imploding
or at least blowing up in their face, will this impact them going into
midterm elections. I mean, if they keep taking these shots and they
backfire, end up untrue, couldn`t there be some political damage to them?
I mean, they`re already as low as you can go in the polls. But could it
even be more damaging?

REID: Well, you know, what? The irony is that for most Republicans
especially in the House of Representatives, their districts are so
gerrymandered and so divided (ph) that this kind of rhetoric is actually
what keeps them in their jobs because they feel like they have to continue
to feed this closed loop of right wing based anger in order to them not be
primaried from someone even further to the right. So it probably doesn`t
hurt most of these house members in their districts. Where it hurts is in
swing district and swing states. But Wisconsin and Illinois, any
Republicans remaining who are in swing districts, that`s where this hurts

SHARPTON: But Karen, that helps maybe what those gerrymandered
districts that are local. But in terms of statewide races, even large
cities, and certainly national races, they cannot continue to survive as a
legitimate party if they don`t start winning. And how do you win when you
keep throwing up trial balloons that burst in mid-air?

FINNEY: Well, that`s exactly right. And they`re a continuing to do
things that alienate moderates. I mean, how many stories that we`ve seen
this week about various Republicans in different parts of the country
saying that they`re living the party because it`s going too far to the
right or become to beholden.


FINNEY: But let me tell you what, if these guys want to pull out that
Newt Gingrich playbook and shut the government down and try to impeach the
president, I say go for it. Because it worked out quite well for us last

SHARPTON: Karen Finney and Joy Reid, thank you for your time.

REID: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: And watch "DISRUPT WITH KAREN FINNEY" weekends at 4:00 p.m.
Eastern right here on MSNBC.

Ahead, 50 years ago this week critics and cynics were telling Dr.
Martin Luther King to slow down, fall back. Instead he marched on. We`ll
go behind the scene in the march on Washington. Next.


SHARPTON: Before the march on Washington 50 years ago, some critics
predicted riots in the street. Some told Dr. Martin Luther King he was
moving too fast. The inside story of those doubts and his courage is next.



DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. (JANUARY, 1929-APRIL, 1968): What I have
called for and others have agreed with this, a march on Washington, a march
on the Congress to present our very bodies as witnesses to the need for
strong civil rights legislation.


SHARPTON: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. previewing the march on
Washington for jobs and freedom. Today we know it as one of the great
triumphs of the civil rights movement. One of the great days in American
history. But 50 years ago this week, just days before the march, all that
was up in the air. In private, President Kennedy had been strongly opposed
to the event believing it would undermine pending civil rights legislation.
In a news conference eight days before the march, he could barely hide his


purpose, of course, is to attempt to bring the attention of the Congress
and the country the strong feeling of a good many thousands of citizens. I
don`t know, of course -- I don`t know how many are going to come. I think
it`s appropriate that these people and anyone else who feels themselves are
concerned should come to Washington.


SHARPTON: Meantime, critics on the right said march organizers were
moving too fast. Asking for too much. It was a charge that Dr. King
himself answered on NBC`s "Meet the Press" just three days before the


KING: I`m sure that many whites both north and south have the feeling
that we are pushing things too fast and that we should cool off awhile,
slow up for a period. I cannot agree with this at all for I think there
can be no gain seeing of the fact that the Negro has been extremely
patient. We have waited for 345 years for our basic, constitutional and
God given right.


SHARPTON: Southern politicians predicted violence and riots in the
street. Nobody knew how many people would show up. Questions that hung in
the balance with history in the air.

Joining me now are professors Douglas Brinkley and James Peterson.
Thank you both for joining me.



SHARPTON: Doug, what kind of criticism was Dr. King facing in these
days before the march?

BRINKLEY: Well, a lot of it, there was a great fear that there was
going to be violence in Washington, D.C. after all, when Kennedy gave his
famous civil rights speech a few months earlier, Medgar Evers was murdered
in his driveway as you know in Jackson, Mississippi. There was no
guarantee that you could do with peaceful march. Then, there were some
critics that you couldn`t take all these different groups, the NAACP, CORE,
SNCC and bring them all together and have any kind of unity, and there were
lots more screening of all of these. You know, most people had to turn in
like John Louison (ph), King, the speech that they were to give hoping not
to cost too much ruckus and people on the right were calling this a
communist rally right in the back yard of the president.

SHARPTON: You know, James, it seems so inevitable now, but a lot of
people don`t understand there were a lot of tensions even among the civil
rights groups at the time. And people have no idea of how controversial
Dr. King was at the time. He was not this big historic hero in American
history at that time.

PETERSON: That`s exactly right, Rev. Not amongst white folk and also
not amongst black folk either. You know, on today August 21st, I`m
reminded of Nat Turner. This is the 182 year anniversary of Nat Turner`s
insurrection. And some of the fears directed around how black folk respond
to oppression were seated in that insurrection. And while Dr. King used
completely different methods from Nat Turner, I think it`s introductive for
us to understand how he situated with it in history where white fear about
black resistance is very, very palpable.

So, when you think about some of the challenges we have in terms of
institutionally quality in our criminal justice system and things like stop
and frisk, in things of all nature which is clear we can see racism, we can
see fear against black bodies and black men in particular in those cases,
some of that is much more subtle these days. But even as we`re
commemorating this march, we still have to be very cognizant of all the
ways in which these histories are intertwined.

SHARPTON: Now, you know Douglas, eighth days before the march, the
president played down, the president at that time John Kennedy, he played
down the importance of the event. Listen to this.


KENNEDY: This issue does not stand or fall on the August 28. August
28 is a chance for good many people to express their feelings. But it`s
hard for them, a lot of other people to travel. It costs them money. Many
of them have jobs. So that I think that what we`re talking about is an
issue that concerns all of our people and the final analysis must be
settled by the Congress.


SHARPTON: You know, in private, Douglas, President Kennedy was
extremely skeptical about the march, wasn`t he?

BRINKLEY: Well, very much so. Well, part of it was, you know, if he
couldn`t have been president without the African-American vote in 1960. So
he owed them a lot. On the other hand, the south was very democratic and
very segregationist. So, he was walking the kind of a line of wanting to
help the movement but also not lose all this democratic white constituents
in the south. But Kennedy came along after the speech once King finally
delivered it and everybody was talking about "I had a dream."

And incidentally Reverend, the pick point is that CBS News and NBC
started covering King. They started moving in 1963 right around this time
to a half an hour news broadcasts. So, just weeks after the "I have a
dream" speech, King really started getting a lot of coverage on television.
It wasn`t quite that intense in August of `63. But after that speech, the
media made a big difference on behalf of the movement.

SHARPTON: And it took time. Because I understand the next day it
wasn`t even -- the speech wasn`t even quoted "I have a dream" speech
prominently but it grew. And as you say, networks started taking more and
more notice of Dr. King. Dr. Peterson, three days before the march, Martin
Luther King appeared on "Meet the Press" with fellow organizer Roy Wilkins
who headed the NAACP at the time. And the moderator asked Wilkins about
the possibility of riots at the march. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Mr. Wilkins, there are a great many people as I`m
sure you know who believe it would be impossible to bring more than a
hundred thousand militant Negroes into Washington incidents and possibly

don`t think there will be any rioting. I don`t think 100,000 people just
assembling is cause for apprehension about a riot. City of Washington has
accommodated much larger crowds and nobody has talked up in advance the
possibility of violence.


SHARPTON: I mean, this was the real talking point on the right back
then. Doesn`t it expose why the march was needed in the first place,

PETERSON: It does. And again, it speaks to the history I was talking
about in my earlier comment. It was good to see where he walked us there.
And also, I`m reminded as we approach the march of Bear Grass and all the
work that he did in organizing and making the phone calls going door to a
door, setting the stage, setting up the lineup, you know. And what`s
interesting here, Reverend, people maybe don`t understand this as much is
that a lot of these organizations trained their constituents.

They trained folk to be able to conduct non-direct -- a non-violent
direct action without being distracted, without being deterred by people
who will be yelling at you, throwing things at you. So there was
preparation organization that didn`t show up on "Meet the Press" and it`s
not always the forefront of our minds historically. But it was there and
that`s why this march was such a historical success.

SHARPTON: And I think also, Douglas, that the exposure that this
amount of people could peacefully assemble was something that Congress
could not ignore and it ended up being a tactic that`s effective in
exposing and putting front and center the grievance of people.

BRINKLEY: Well, no question about it. It was a big success. And you
know, "I had a dream" soon became a great catch phrase around the country.
Remember Reverend, King was pushing for jobs, jobs, jobs, on employment
opportunity and he brought that message, he got some of the unions, people
like Walter Reuther who joined forces with him. And it became a real --
the movement became mainstream after the "I have a dream" speech --
exaggerate the importance of the occasion.

SHARPTON: All right. Douglas Brinkley and James Peterson, thank you
for your time and your insight this evening.

BRINKLEY: Thank you.

SHARPTON: We want to know how you`re advancing the dream. And we
don`t just want you to tell us. We want you to show us too. Head to to share what you`re doing to further Dr.
King`s dream. Use the #advancingthedream and tweet a picture that explains
how you`re helping to move us forward. We want to know. Because it takes
all of us marching together to advance the dream.


SHARPTON: It`s time for Reply Al. Remember friend or foe, I want to

Pat writes, "So the suppression efforts will skew the jury pools. Is
this being discussed in the fight for voter`s rights?"

You know, it`s very, very interesting point. Because jury pools in
many cases selected by the rolls of registered voters. If you, in fact,
for some reason find your voter registration or your being able to vote and
remain on the books to be eliminated, it does begin to skew the jury pools
toward a certain class and in some cases a certain race. I think it should
be something that we discuss. And as we head into continuing to fight
voter ID and voter suppression, I will certainly be raising this.

Richard wants to know, "Why don`t you try to get Mayor Bloomberg to
use stop and frisk for Wall Street where most of the white collar crime in
this country takes place?"

Well, that is an excellent point. Can you imagine if they were just
stopping people down on Wall Street and throwing them over hoods, patting
them down, seeing what`s in their pockets, seeing if they`re doing anything
illegal. And almost 90 percent of them were doing no wrong. It wouldn`t
be tolerated 24 hours. And that is the point. We should not have law or
the use of law enforcement where it is tolerated in some zip codes and not
other zip codes. We`re sending a real signal of preferential treatment,
double standard and bias. The federal judge called it profiling.

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


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