PoliticsNation, Friday, February 20th, 2015

Date: February 20, 2015
Guest: Jason Johnson; E.J. Dionne; Ryan Grim; Angela Rye, Abby Huntsman,
John Burns, Tara Dowdell, Toure, Crystal McCrary

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Ed. And thanks to you
for tuning in.

Tonight`s lead silence from the GOP today. The startling response from
Republicans to Rudy Giuliani`s ugly smear that President Obama doesn`t love
America. A deafening no comment. And the pressure is building after
Giuliani stood by his insult.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Mayor, do you want to apologize for your comment?


The reality is from all I`ve seen of the president, all I`ve heard of him,
he apologies for America, he criticizes America. He talks about the
crusades and how the Christians were barbarians.

I don`t feel it. I don`t feel this love of America. The president and his
comments, if we look at all his rhetoric has not displayed the kind of love
of America, the kind of love of America and exceptionalism that other
American presidents have displayed. I`m right about this. I have no doubt
about it. I do not withdraw my words.


SHARPTON: There is no way to spin it. These are hateful slurs from a
fading Republican desperate for relevance. It should be easy for fellow
Republicans to reject this.

And this morning MSNBC`s Joe Scarborough warned 2016 GOP hopefuls, they
can`t let it hang over their party.


through another cycle where Republican candidates are too stupid to get out
of the way of the stupidest people in their party that keep them from
winning presidential elections by spewing hatred instead of telling people
how they`re going to get back to work? It`s not enough to say we`ll let
Rudy Giuliani speak for himself.


SHARPTON: Today it looks like yes, there may be another cycle of this. So
far only GOP Senator Marco Rubio has said clearly he doesn`t agree with
Giuliani. Scott Walker said he`ll let the mayor speak for himself. Bobby
Jindal said the gist of what Giuliani said is true. Ted Cruz declined to
comment to us. Rand Paul declined to comment to us.

Indeed we still haven`t heard from most of the big name 2016 Republicans
including Jeb Bush who we also reached out to. They aspire to be leaders
of the free world, but they`re in no rush to stand up to irrelevant Rudy
Giuliani and is only hurting the GOP brand and showing they`re not serious
about change.

Joining me now are E.J. Dionne and Jason Johnson. Thank you both for being



SHARPTON: E.J., before we get to the silence of Republicans, I mean,
what`s going on with Rudy Giuliani? What do you make of these comments?

DIONNE: Well, I mean, these were appalling comments. And I have to say I
was surprised. I thought we might be done with this. The president`s not
on a ballot any more. There`s absolutely no reason to say it. it is so

And I tell you, the thing he said that really bothered me and the way even
more than he does a lot of America, which is absurd on its face, is he
wasn`t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up. What
in the world does that mean? What kind of code is there as if he lived in
Indonesia? Is it a comment on who his mother was? I mean, what does that
mean? I was just astonished by it.

SHARPTON: Well, Jason, I see you shaking your head. I mean, what is it a
code for, using E.J.`s term?

JOHNSON: He`s that black guy in the White House that I never liked.
That`s the code speech. And really I think what Giuliani should recognize
from his ridiculous statements and Republicans are should realize as well
is this is not a winning strategy. It`s not just poor leadership, it`s not
a winning strategy.

One of the high points of the 2008 presidential election was when John
McCain countered one of his own supporters and said, look, Barack Obama I
disagree with him, but I would never question this gentleman actually loves
his country. You would think Republicans would be smarter by now.

SHARPTON: No. Let me go to that in a minute because I think that`s a very
important point. Let me play this for you. John McCain, who I disagree
with, did have the courage that we are not seeing any Republican contender
have. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can`t trust Obama. I have read about him and he`s
not -- he`s an Arab. He`s not -- no?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: No, ma`am. No, ma`am. He`s a decent
family man citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on
fundamental issues and that`s what this campaign is all about. He`s not.
Thank you.


SHARPTON: Now, E.J., I never thought I would miss John McCain, but this is
the kind of leadership you can respect even if you don`t vote for. And
we`ve not seen that now. Senator Rubio did say On the Record he disagrees
with Giuliani. But none of them have come out and shown what John McCain
said in a crowd of people where he could have been heckled. None of them
has shown that kind of moral strength.

DIONNE: No, that was very gutty in McCain. He got criticized by some
people to his right for saying that.

JOHNSON: Right. He did.

DIONNE: And Marco Rubio, God bless him. I mean, he was very straight up,
said almost exactly the thing John McCain said. And I think, you know,
there are two things about this. What does this say Republicans really
think of their own people? Because this is their judgment on their own
base. And what they`re saying is their own base believes this stuff? That
doesn`t show a lot of respect for your base. But what they also don`t get
is there are plenty of people who are not liberals and people who didn`t
vote for President Obama, but they`re uncomfortable and unhappy when
politicians talk like this.

So I think they`re definitely making a mistake with middle of the road
voters, but also I think it says terrible things about their analysis of
their own party.

SHARPTON: Well, Jason, let me go back to another point you were commenting

Giuliani told "The New York Times" his comments weren`t racist. He says,
in fact, some people thought it was racist. I thought that was a joke
since he was brought up by a white mother, a white grandfather, went to
white schools and most of this he learned from white people. This isn`t
racism. This is socialism or possibly anti-colonialism.

Now, I mean, how do you react to that aside from the race part and aside
from the fact that the grandfather he`s talking about that brought him up
was a World War II veteran who fought for the country, is he condemning
anti-colonialism? I thought all of us were anti-colonialism. I don`t even
understand the logic of what he`s saying here.

JOHNSON: Obviously Rudy Giuliani doesn`t even understand the level of
criticism he`s throwing out. Number one, I`ve never heard of the school in
Hawaii being called white schools. That`s the first thing.

But second, you know, on the one hand, it is President Obama wasn`t raised
by people like you. And on the other hand while he was raised by white
people in the Midwest, on one hand, you know, President Obama`s a horrible
dictator, on the other hand, President Obama is a feckless coward in the
face of ISIS.

You know, Giuliani represents a throwback in the Republican party to let`s
just keep throwing things at President Obama. And this is where it ends up
being a strategic problem. He`s not on the ballot in 2016. And if they
keep wanting to bash President Obama, that will make it easier for Hillary
Clinton to say, see, look at these guys trapped in the past. I represent
the future.

SHARPTON: Now E.J., one of the more striking parts of Giuliani`s interview
was about 9/11. Listen to this.


GIULIANI: President Obama didn`t live through September 11th. I did.
President Obama didn`t almost, you know, have a building fall on him,
myself and my police commissioner and my fire commissioner did. So excuse
me, it`s a little bit emotional for me, but it`s also real.


SHARPTON: I mean, I`m totally, what is that supposed to mean?

DIONNE: Well, I think, if we weren`t mayor of New York, if we weren`t in
New York city when 9/11 happened, we didn`t feel it.

I mean, the whole -- Rudy Giuliani in that period gained national notoriety
and a lot of respect because every American felt hit by 9/11. And so, for
him to say that, it is very hard to figure out what he`s trying to say.

SHARPTON: I was in New York that day. In fact, it was the mayoral primary
day. I was in New York that day campaigning. I was in a way to finance
the run against Rudy Giuliani. Does that mean I didn`t love America? I
mean, the logic of that -- what I`m trying to find out, I said he was a
fading Republican desperate because there`s not even any logic to any of
these things, he is saying.

JOHNSON: I think maybe we shouldn`t be looking for logic here because I`m
not sure there isn`t any.

Why can`t the relevant guys running today in the Republican party condemn
it? That`s my real point.

SHARPTON: But why can`t the relevant guy is running today in the
Republican Party condemn it. That`s my real point.

DIONNE: Yes, no. And I think they should be out there. And I think it
would be in their long term interest to be out there. But only Marco Rubio
is doing it.

SHARPTON: Now, Jason, in terms of the 2016 Republican hopefuls, "Mother
Jones" writes, this could be an opportunity for Jeb Bush to speak out.
Quote, "Jeb Bush, could, if he`s smart, he will, taking a public stand
against Giuliani would cement his position as the adult in the Republican

Jeb Bush is trying to run as the so-called moderate. Why haven`t we heard
from him on this, Jason?

JOHNSON: Because I think if there`s anything we`ve seen in last eight
years there`s not much political hay to be made of being the adult in the

You know, President Obama has been the dad in chief of the Republican
Congress for years and that hasn`t necessarily helped him. I think any
presidential candidate who actually cares about this country should come
out and condemn these comments. But I think Jeb Bush, in particular, I
think he like Hillary Clinton in some respect. He is I don`t want to say
anything that`s remotely controversial right now. I just want to slide
into eventually announcing that I`m running for president. Because he
believes long-term if he just ignores things like this, it won`t come back
to haunt him.

So, you know, strategically, maybe Jeb Bush thinks it is a good idea. I
think from a leadership standpoint and statesman standpoint, it`s kind of
cowardly and it really ruins the kind of public discourse we need to have
in this country going forward.

SHARPTON: Well, E.J. Dionne and Jason Johnson, thank you for your time
tonight. Have a great weekend.

DIONNE: And you too, Reverend.

JOHNSON: Thank you. You too, Rev.

SHARPTON: Coming up President Obama on fire today talking about
Republicans bamboozling folks with middle class talk.


that you can`t just talk the talk. Donna? You got to do what? You got to
walk the walk.


SHARPTON: Plus, as we get ready for the Oscar, we look at remarkable year
of performances and also a year of serious snubs.

And I`m giving out my weekly report card. What grade will Sarah Palin get
tonight? It might surprise you. Please stay with us.


SHARPTON: Some exciting programming news to share. Next Wednesday MSNBC
and Telemundo`s Jose Diaz-Balart is moderating a town hall with President
Obama. The president will answer questions directly from the audience and
through social media. You can submit questions right now with the
#Obamatownhall. And we asked our social media fans what they would ask.

Mike wrote on facebook, we can -- what can Democrats be doing now to
increase voter turnout in 2016?

Krixx posted, what do you deal with the attempts of adversarial undermining
and attacks on your authority?

Good question, Krixx.

Michael asks, what do you see as the future of labor unions?

Again, that town hall is Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on MSNBC and

Please keep the questions coming in either on our facebook page or tweet us


SHARPTON: No matter what your political party, there`s no denying the U.S.
economy is bouncing back. More jobs, higher wages, the auto industry`s
back and the deficit`s down. This all happened on President Obama`s watch.
And in a strong speech to the DNC today, he cheered our progress and
reminded the crowd about the naysayers we`ve seen along the way.


OBAMA: We were told by our good friends the Republicans that our actions
would crush us, explode deficits, and destroy the country. I mean, I want
everybody to do a fact check.


SHARPTON: That`s right. They predicted chaos, not a comeback. But they -
- but they are doing it all over again. Now that they`ve been proven


OBAMA: Now that their grand predictions of doom and gloom and death panels
and Armageddon haven`t come true, the sky hasn`t fallen, chicken little`s
quiet, the new plan apparently of congressional Republicans -- and this is
progress -- the new plan is to rebrand them self as the party of the middle


SHARPTON: Everyone from John Boehner to Ted Cruz to Jeb Bush is talking
about income inequality in the middle class these days. But what does it
actually mean?


OBAMA: If you`re just trying to repackage the same top-down economics and
use the words "middle class" attached to it, if you`re just going to keep
on cutting taxes at the top and not raise minimum wages for folks who are
struggling, then it`s just spin trying to bamboozle folks.


SHARPTON: Real change from the GOP would be great, but that`s not what
we`ve seen.


OBAMA: I`m encouraged that they`re speaking about middle class and
speaking about wages, but there is this old saying that you can`t just talk
the talk. Donna? You got to do what? You got to walk the walk. Tell us
how you`re helping middle class families because we got an agenda and we
know it works.


SHARPTON: If the GOP wants us to buy this new message they`re selling,
they`ve got to start walking the walk and so far all we`ve heard so talk.

Joining me now are political strategist Angela Rye and Ryan Grim, bureau
chief for the "Huffington Post." Thank you both for being here.

Thank you, Reverend.


SHARPTON: Angela, was the president`s speech today a road map for
Democrats for how to talk about their agenda?

RYE: You know, Rev., he laid out this road map before the election in
November. He`s been very clear not only about his economic record but
about how Democrats should talk about it. The problem is they didn`t
follow the road map. They did not follow that trail. They ran in the
other direction, which is why we suffered the greatest consequences ever in
this election.

But what I will say to you is that today, he did lay out some very clear
talking points based upon his accomplishments. And that`s what talking
points and a message should be about, they should be about your priorities.
Hence his little bit of shade to the Republican party for them talking the
talk and not walking that same walk.

SHARPTON: Ryan, Republicans are in a tough place. They were against the
policies that got the economy moving. So what can they say now?

GRIM: Well, what they can say now is exactly what they are saying that
actually they deserve credit for all this and, you know, they saw all of
this coming. You know, and you can tell the president is kind of really
feeling it when he goes into his kind of stand-up comic routine. He gets
the crowd chuckling and he kind of feeds off of that. And he was doing
some of that. And riffing off of how Republicans said, well, actually the
reason the economy`s kind of surging right now is that Republicans were
elected to take over the Senate and people were so happy about that, that
magically the economy just started booming.

So, you know, that`s absurd and the crowd can laugh at it, but what`s
underneath that is the broader Republican strategy to just say it and just
to repeat things.

SHARPTON: Let me show you, Angela, one of them that`s been saying it,
that`s just been talking the talk and that`s Mitch McConnell. Mitch
McConnell. Listen to what President Obama said about him.


OBAMA: Our Republican leader in the Senate, as he was coming in, after
having tried to block every single thing that we`ve done to strengthen the
economy, starts looking at job numbers and says, you know, it`s getting
better because we just got elected. And people are feeling more
optimistic. Which -- OK. I diplomat don`t know that`s how the economy
worked, but maybe.


SHARPTON: You know, I mean, does McConnell claiming credit for the
recovery pass the laugh test, Angela?

RYE: You know it doesn`t pass the laugh test, Rev. And we also know since
Mitch McConnell`s not a scientist, he`s clearly not an economist either.
So the president jabbing him there was a good one and an effective one. I
think it would be interesting to see like what type of middle class
economics are you really touting when the only concerns you`ve had is my
capital gains the fact is too high and my CEO bonus wasn`t quite large

At some point your rhetoric has to match the policies that you push and
they won`t even consider a minimum wage raise in the Senate and the house.
So, this would be all very interesting.

SHARPTON: You know, Ryan, besides taking credit for the recovery, lots of
Republicans all of a sudden have discovered and become interested in
inequality. Listen to some of this.


JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Today Americans across the country
are frustrated. They see only a small portion of the population riding the
economy`s up escalator.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I will tell you. Hard working men and women
across America are hurting.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: This so-called one percent
that the president`s talking about have done quite well.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Frankly, the president`s
policies have made income inequality worse.


SHARPTON: But they`re against minimum wage hikes, they`re trying to take
away health care. How can they be worrying about inequality, Ryan?

GRIM: I mean, it`s a real credit to kind of, you know, the progressive
movement and to a more populous movement that Elizabeth Warren has been
spearheading, that they`re kind of forced to even talk that talk.

Clearly, like you said, they`re not walking it yet. They`re not following
up those sound bites with. And so, therefore, you know, we should raise
the minimum wage or therefore we should hike taxes on capital gains and
dividends. It kind of stops at that point.

But getting to that point is meaningful because it opens up space where
things can start to happen. You know, look at what Walmart did, you know,
in raising its minimum wage. You know, it`s not high enough. But getting
it up to $9 an hour, that`s a real benefit. And that comes from a
political movement, political pressure put on Walmart by its own workers,
from outside unions, responding to that. And they`re responding to the
same energy that people like Ted Cruz and John Boehner and Mitch McConnell
are feeling.

Mitch McConnell probably wanted to spit after he used the phrase "one
percent" but he did it anyway because he knows that`s where the politics
are right now.

SHARPTON: But Angela, we`re not seeing the policy.

RYE: No.

SHARPTON: We`re not seeing the legislation. They control the Senate and
the congress. If they were serious, why don`t they come forward with some
policy and make it law?

RYE: Well, Rev., it would be very hard to do that and keep their base
happy. I mean, whether you`re talking about the fact that DHS funding runs
out next week and they`re holding that up because of, you know, their
inability to get their party to move on immigration reform or the fact
that, again, they won`t even consider a minimum wage increase or the fact
that they balk at tax breaks for poor people or they won`t even consider
family medical leave. I mean, this is all very crazy. They never
supported these policies, so we can`t expect them to do it now even so,
they are using Democratic talking points.

SHARPTON: Angela Rye and Ryan Grim, thank you for your time tonight and
have a great weekend.

GRIM: You too.

RYE: You too.

SHARPTON: Still lead, is the vice president running a stealth campaign for

Also, buzz about the academy awards this Sunday. All the talk about the
stars and the snubs.

But first, Reverend Al`s report card is next. With a surprise appearance
from Sarah Palin.


ANNOUNCER: It`s time now for Reverend Al`s weekly report card.

SHARPTON: Welcome, welcome to all my students. This week, let`s get right
to it. First grade tonight goes to Rudy Giuliani. He claimed President
Obama doesn`t love America. Then bizarrely tried to defend it. Tonight
Rudy gets an "I" for irrelevant. And I don`t really need to say anything
other than that. My next student tonight is Governor Sarah Palin. It was
good running into her on the SNL red carpet.


SHARPTON: We are the direct opposites of American politics, but we`re here

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: But you know what, we both love
America so much, right?

SHARPTON: That`s right.

PALIN: I mean, it`s Americana all the way and respect for the
entertainment value that they provide our society.

SHARPTON: And they spoof both of us. And I defend the fact that she
actually sees Russia from her house.

PALIN: Oh, good! See! I`m going to kick you in the shins.


SHARPTON: Tonight, I`m grading both Governor Palin and myself. We get a
"D," but it`s not what you think. "D" for defying expectations, because
that`s what we did on the red carpet. And I`ll throw in an "F" for fun,
too. Like I always say, we can disagree without being disagreeable. My
final student tonight is an 11-year-old girl named Rowan Hanson. She wrote
a letter to D.C. comics saying, "I`m a girl and I`m upset because there
aren`t many girl superheroes. Girls read comics, too, and they care."
Here`s what she told the "today" show.


UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: It`s not like the male superheroes are better than the
female superheroes, but there are just more of them. If batman gets to
wear armor, then why doesn`t wonder woman get to wear armor? And I know
that she`s kind of invulnerable, but it would still be nicer if she didn`t
wear a bathing suit all the time.


SHARPTON: It looks like D.C. comics is paying attention. They sent rowan
a sketch of a superhero they designed after her. And it kind of bears a
striking resemblance to someone else we know, but I digress. Tonight,
rowan gets an "S" for super. She`s got the super power of passion on her
side and we expect big things in her future. Thanks to all my students
tonight. Class dismissed.

ANNOUNCER: That`s tonight`s edition of Reverend Al`s weekly report card.


SHARPTON: It`s time now for "Conversation Nation." Joining me tonight
MSNBC Abby Huntsman, legal analyst John Burns and democratic strategist
Tara Dowdell. Thanks to all of you for being here.



SHARPTON: We start with the rights attack on President Obama from Rudy
Giuliani now and from others over the years claiming he doesn`t love
America. Maybe this is just a simple mistake. I mean, maybe they just
didn`t listen to the speech he made today.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: It`s about making this nation we
love more perfect.


SHARPTON: Come to think of it, maybe they never heard anything he said


OBAMA: I will let no one question my love of this country. I love

America, this country that I love.

The best days for this country we love are still ahead.

I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being.

We live in the greatest nation on earth. Thank you, America. God bless
you. God bless this United States.


SHARPTON: Abby, the President doesn`t love America? How is this even a
question right now?

ABBY HUNTSMANM, MSNBC HOST: Yes, this is a statement that has really
gotten under my skin because I asked the question where respect has gone in
this country. I mean, to claim the President does not love America is
about the most unpatriotic thing anyone can say. And coming from Rudy
Giuliani, I don`t think he realizes that he`s still someone that people
look up to in the party and to say something like that at a time when the
GOP is really trying to broaden their tent, it doesn`t look so good. What
he`s doing is, he`s trying to get some headlines, he`s desperate for some
attention. But it makes me sad about the fact that we can say these things
and somehow that`s okay. I am happy though about the backlash. Because I
do think people are saying, look, there is a line that we draw in the sand
where we say, you know what? That`s probably something that we shouldn`t
say. We can disagree with the President on things but to say that he
doesn`t love America, that`s going too far.

SHARPTON: Strong words Tara from Abby and Abby is a republican and my

HUNTSMAN: That`s right.


DOWDELL: Yes, well, first of all, I agree with Abby in the point that Rudy
Giuliani is in desperate need of attention. He hasn`t met a microphone
that he hasn`t loved. So, Rudy Giuliani is definitely doing this for
attention. But part and parcel of this is not just his need for attention,
this is also part of a messaging strategy that the republicans have been
doing for the last six years. He`s not the first person to say this and I
guarantee you he will not be the last to make some iteration of this
statement. This is messaging. This is a way, if you say it over and over
again, then it will plant a seed in people`s mind. That`s the goal of this
type of thing. Especially when you hear it being said across the party by
numerous people.


BURNS: Yes, no, I completely agree with Tara and Abby. And I think Rudy
Giuliani is just trying to stay relevant. But I think it`s really bad
leadership for the Republican Party. No one is coming out to condemning
this publicly. I think someone needs to come out and condemn it publicly.
It`s also poor strategy. We all know that the President is not on the
ballot in 2016. So, clearly the republicans are still living in the past
and it`s going to leave the door open for some democratic candidate to come
forward and say, hey, the republicans are living in the past, I`m focused
on the future. And I just think it`s really, really poor strategy for

SHARPTON: You know, Abby, I`ve got to ask you, are you surprised that some
of the republican leadership and especially some of the major nominee or
those that will pursue the nomination haven`t come out and condemned Rudy
Giuliani other than Rubio?

HUNTSMAN: Yes, I mean, I think they feel like they`re in a tough place.
You look at Scott Walker, who doesn`t really want to talk about it, he sort
of skirts the issue and says, you know, I love America and I know there are
republicans and democrats, independents that love America. But as you
know, Rev, there are a lot of these folks that are campaigning in 2016,
they`ve got to appeal to the far right and their folks in the primaries
that love this type of rhetoric. So, I can understand why they`re not
coming out and speaking up about this, but I do know that there are a lot
of folks that would say, no, this is not right. They don`t agree with
that. I with there are more that we`re speaking out about this. But
unfortunately, as of right now, they`re not.

SHARPTON: Yes. No, I understand it. I understand it`s political
cowardice. Next up, democrats and 2016. Senator Warren has repeatedly
said she`s not running, but it hasn`t stopped people from talking about it.
Of course, there`s lots of buzz about Hillary Clinton, but no official word
yet. And then there`s Vice President Joe Biden who says he`ll make a
decision by the summer. But check out his travel schedule. In the past
week alone he`s been visiting the battleground or primary states of Iowa,
South Carolina and North Carolina. Tara, Biden 2016, is it possible?

DOWDELL: If I say that Biden wants to run, that`s like saying the sun came
up this morning. Does Biden want to run, is water wet? He absolutely
wants to run. Now, the question is, will he run? And I think the biggest
problem for Joe Biden, because I think he would run in a heartbeat, the
biggest issue for him is right now just how formidable Hillary Clinton is
looking in the polls at this particular point in time. But what I think we
see him doing is he`s clearly testing the waters. He`s going into these
states to try to see what type of reception he will get from the people in
those states, from party leaders in those states, from grassroots activists
in those states. So, this is clearly strategic. And he`s definitely
advancing a strategy on this front.

SHARPTON: Abby, this could be a lot of fun, though.

HUNTSMAN: Yes, you know, I don`t think he`s running. I think the
writing`s on the wall that he`s not actually going to go through it. That
he`s not going to run against Hillary Clinton. I mean, let`s be honest
about that. I think he loves the attention. And this is sort of the fun
time for people like Joe Biden where they can sort of have the media
speculation about them, they can be in the headlines, they can be talked
about, they don`t actually have to put forward a campaign or announced
they`re running. That`s when it really gets difficult. Look, I would love
for Joe Biden to run, I would love for Elizabeth Warren to run. I think it
makes for a really fun debate. All you have right now is Hillary Clinton,
you`re going to have the republicans with like 50 candidates. So, you
know, I think it might be interesting to have someone beyond Hillary run.
It would make for a better debate. And she would be better equipped to
handle a general if she has to go up against someone in the primaries I

SHARPTON: John, quickly I`m going to break. But you want to get in here.

BURNS: Yes, no, I agree, I think Hillary Clinton is going to have to show
some serious weakness to leave an opening for Joe Biden. And look at, he`s
really not weighing on any on the groundwork, he hasn`t established any
type of Pac, he hasn`t really hired any key staffers that would be needed
in the primary season. So, I don`t really think he`s on the run.

SHARPTON: Abby, John and Tara, thank you for joining the conversation
tonight. Have a great weekend all of you.

HUNTSMAN: Thanks, Rev.

BUNS: Thank you.

DOWDELL: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: And be sure to catch Abby on "THE CYCLE" weekdays at 3:00
Eastern right here on MSNBC. Coming up, the countdown to the Oscars is on.
So many movies to celebrate, but it is also been a year of controversy in
Hollywood. That`s next.


SHARPTON: The Oscars will be handed out Sunday night. It`s been a year of
remarkable films. "American Sniper" dominated the Box Office and dominated
the national conversation. "Boyhood" broke new ground shooting over 11
years, showing a young man growing up with divorced parents. And "Selma"
took us back to a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement of this
country. All of these films should be celebrated. And all the great
actors and actresses up for Oscars should be celebrated. But it`s also
been a year of snubs. It`s easy to see. Not one minority actor is
nominated. That is nothing to celebrate. That`s a problem. A problem
that needs to be addressed.

Joining me now is Toure, a host of "THE CYCLE" here on MSNBC. Thank you
for being here tonight.


SHARPTON: Toure, I want to get to your picks and what to watch for, but
when the nominations came out last month, the lack of diversity was a big
story. How is Hollywood dealing with this?

TOURE: I mean, Hollywood is dealing with this by making promises about
what they`re going to do in the future, but I don`t think they`re going to
see any difference. There`s a process for how you become an academy member
and there`s a process, an institutionalized process for how you get to be a
consistent member of the town, as they call it. And it`s very difficult.
It`s more difficult to break there than it is to break into Congress.

SHARPTON: Well then let me push you on that point because "The Washington
Post" says, Hollywood and Congress share a lack of diversity at their
recent best Oscar nominees were twice as diverse as Congress.


SHARPTON: At their worst, they had zero minority nominees this year.
Congress is four times more diverse than the nominees. And the academy
that votes on something you referred to, the academy that votes on these
awards are 93 percent male, 76 percent white and the average age is 63. I
might, in full disclosure, the Los Angeles branch of my group National
Action Network is picketing the academy about the issue of the academy that
makes these selections or not diverse enough. I mean, how do we change
that when the process is so in itself so limiting?

TOURE: You know, it`s very hard to change that. I mean, this is an
important issue because the films that come out of Hollywood and as well as
the independent community making films, they`re very important because they
shape in part how we see America, how we see ourselves, so we have film
that are consistently showing black people looking bad, being criminals,
this sorts of things. That`s bad for our self-image, that`s bad for the
way white Americans see us. So, this is a very important issue, but it`s
very difficult to change, Rev. And I don`t have the solutions right here.
I wish I did, or if I did, I`d be out in Hollywood helping you implement
them. You know, you see Tyler Perry is out there creating his own film
studio working outside of the Hollywood system and, you know, making change
himself and making films that a lot of black people love to go see. But,
you know, I mean, this is going to be a very difficult problem similar to
how do we further integrate Congress, how do we further integrate Wall
Street, I mean, these are very difficult issues.

SHARPTON: And one thing is we`ve got to keep raising the issues. Let me
switch to the academy awards itself. Who is your pick for favorite

TOURE: Well, best picture will go to "Birdman." And that was my choice
for the best film of last year. It was an amazingly made piece of art.
And I enjoy this discussion of a man who feels like he`s at the bottom
creatively, career wise, trying to find a way to bring himself back up and
use Broadway as a launching pad to get back on his feet and his career.
He`s also got the family problems going on. I love "Birdman." I watched
it several times. So you know, I`m happy to see that win, if it does go on
to win and it looks like it probably will. Beyond that, you know, it seems
like the actor awards are already engraved. I mean, it looks pretty

SHARPTON: Yes. Who would you pick for best actor?

TOURE: Well, I mean, I would give it to Michael Keaton, but it looks like
Eddie Redmayne has got that locked up. Looks like Julianne Moore from
"Still Alice" has the best actress category locked up. You know, J.K.
Simmons will almost certainly win best supporting actor, which is
interesting because he`s got a leading actor size role in that movie, so
they were smart to put him in the supporting actor category.

SHARPTON: But nothing for "American Sniper"? I mean, everybody is talking
about that. That`s the talk of the country.

TOURE: I mean, you know, it`s doing a huge amount of business, but does
that mean that it`s a great film? I think that everything that "American
Sniper" accomplished creatively was done better by "Hurt Locker" in terms
of showing us at war, in terms of showing at how he dealt with being at
home and dealing with, you know, PTSD at home. I think "American Sniper"
is a good picture, but it`s not a great one.

SHARPTON: All right. Well, Toure, thanks for being with us tonight.

TOURE: Thank you.

SHARPTON: And you can catch Toure on "THE CYCLE" weekdays at 3:00 p.m.
Eastern right here on MSNBC.

We`ll be right back with a powerful film about achieving dreams and never
giving up. It`s an inspiring story you`ll want to see. Stay with us.


SHARPTON: Developing news tonight, police have arrested a man accused of
setting off a bomb outside a Colorado Springs building last month. The
suspect told investigators he was targeting an accountant in the building,
not the NAACP office, as many had suspected. No one was injured in the
explosion. We`ll be right back.


SHARPTON: To many kids growing up in the inner city, basketball is more
than a game. It`s a life path. The documentary "Little Ballers" follows a
team of young New York City boys on their journey to the National Amateur
Athletic Union Championship and reveals what working hard on the court can
lead to off the court.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Anything that keeps kids off the street is very

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It`s important for me for him not to be a statistic.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: This is what I need to do in order to get to a
professional level or to do good to get into scholarship to get into
college or high school.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: I want to be one of the best NBA players that ever.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Growing up in the hood and poverty, the only way out
sometimes is to play basketball or some type of sport.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: So I tell my mom we`re going to get out of here, I mean
that, we`re going to get out of this neighborhood because it`s very bad.


SHARPTON: Joining me now is the director of "Little Ballers" Crystal
McCrary. Crystal, thanks for being here tonight.

much. It`s a pleasure.

SHARPTON: Tell me what did you learn about inner city boys and basketball?

MCCRARY: Well, the thing that I learned about the young men in this film
and really urban youth that play basketball is that it offers them hope.
It`s transformative. It offers many of these young men who otherwise might
be seduced by gangs in their community, it offers them a sense of family.
It offers them some place to go. It offers them structure. It offers them
an opportunity to get fit, to be competitive, but more than anything, the
team has become a family to them.

SHARPTON: Now there`s so many NBA stars in the film. Amar`e Stoudemire is
the executive producer. He played in this league growing up. How did it
impact his life?

MCCRARY: I mean, he grew up in Florida and a challenging upbringing where
basketball really was a lifeline for him. Even for kids that don`t make it
to the NBA -- because, let`s be honest --

SHARPTON: Yes. That`s what I was going to ask you, because everyone is
not going to make it to the NBA.

MCCRARY: That`s right.

SHARPTON: What does it do for other kids?

MCCRARY: That`s right. I mean, you`re right. Most kids are not going to
make it to the NBA. But, you know, 10 million kids play high school ball,
2,000 get division, one scholarships, 60 get drafted and 30 make the team.
So, you know, you do the math. It`s not going to happen.


MCCRARY: But it does so much more. I mean, it offers them an opportunity
to learn, to work through adversity, to learn to have teamwork, to keep
them off the streets, to get an education. And that`s one of the reasons I
really wanted to tell this story. I wanted to show how diverse boys and
girls through basketball, through sports can be brought together and have
their lives expanded.

SHARPTON: Now, the team also provides male role models to some boys who
may not have them. I want to play a clip from the film of the coach
talking to his team. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You have come together as a team. That`s something that
you should be proud of. Each and every one of you guys has something
unique about yourself that you brought to this team. To this family.
We`re not a team, we`re family.


SHARPTON: Crystal, how important is the idea of being not just a team but
family to these boys?

MCCRARY: Oh, it`s tremendously important. I mean, even for the boys in
the film who, yes, they have families, they have their fathers there, they
have step-fathers or maybe they`re from divorced families, with Coach Billy
who you just saw in that clip, Coach Billy is a wonderful role model for
these young men and has been coaching on the AAU Circuit for 15, 16 years.
And he`s made it a point of staying involved in these young men`s lives
throughout high school and helping them to realize that even if they don`t
go pro, which as we know most won`t go pro, they can get an education, they
can become an orthopedic surgeon, they could, you know, become a trainer on
the team, they can do a wide array of activities that still involved the
games that all of these boys love so much but they just don`t necessarily
have the role models in their lives to help get them to that point.

SHARPTON: Well, "Little Ballers" airs on nickelodeon sports next week.
Crystal McCrary, thank you for your time tonight. And thank you for this
important film.

MCCRARY: Thank you so much for being there. And if you can`t watch it,
put your DVR on.

SHARPTON: Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. Have a great weekend.
"HARDBALL" starts right now.


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