This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," January 16, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
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Now for the "Top Story" tonight. It is Martin Luther King's birthday a federal holiday. But like everything else it has become political.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DICK HARPOOTLIAN, SOUTH CAROLINA DEMOCRAT: And you hear Mitt Romney, all -- all of these folks very subtlety infusing race. And by the way, the Republicans have scheduled their big debate for Monday, on Martin Luther King Day, without any regard whatsoever to the civil rights issues that this state has faced.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Now, that sound bite confused me so joining us now from Columbia, South Carolina is Dick Harpootlian. The chairman of the state's Democratic Party. Are you offended Mr. Harpootlian by the Republican debate tonight because it's MLK day?
HARPOOTLIAN: No I'm not offended by it and Bill what I was trying to say was that in a state where one out of three voters are African- Americans, there has not been one single -- other than Newt Gingrich going to a church -- one single ad on African-American radio, no mailings to African-Americans. No outreach to African-Americans in a state where we have a African-American Republican Congressman. No effort made whatsoever to reach out to the African-American community and attempt to convince them their policies or their positions are better. And adding insult to injury, of course, is the debate on Martin Luther King and sort of ignoring Martin Luther King's birthday.
And let me point this out.
O'REILLY: Whoa, wait, wait, let me stop there, who is ignoring Martin Luther King's birthday? Who is doing that?
HARPOOTLIAN: Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Santorum.
O'REILLY: Why would they be ignoring -- why would they be ignoring his birthday? Why would they be -- how do you know they are ignoring it?
HARPOOTLIAN: Well, they've made no statement about it. They've made -- there was a march here in Columbia where many, many people gathered and to commemorate his birthday. And --
O'REILLY: Do you think it's really fair to say they are ignoring it? You don't know if they are ignoring it. I mean it sounds to me like they're offended that they're having the dog and pony show which these debates are inevitably on Martin Luther King Day. Are you offended that they chose that day?
HARPOOTLIAN: I -- well, here -- here is my point on that. In 2003 I hosted a debate as Chairman, George Stephanopoulos did it and we're going to do it on a Friday night. Joe Lieberman called and indicated that he couldn't do it because his Sabbath began on Friday night.
HARPOOTLIAN: We've moved it to Saturday night to accommodate him. No one, I submit, has raised any issue with Fox about it being appropriate or inappropriate it's just sort of -- they've ignore that.
O'REILLY: Well, wait, wait -- maybe that -- maybe that's because in 2008 what happened? What happened in 2008 in South Carolina? Mr. Harpootlian? What happened?
HARPOOTLIAN: We had Democratic primary.
O'REILLY: What happened? Yes you had a Democratic debate in 2008 on MLK day. Did you know that?
HARPOOTLIAN: But -- I understand it.
O'REILLY: Well, wait, wait did you know that?
HARPOOTLIAN: No, no I knew that. I knew that.
O'REILLY: Ok and who sponsored -- who sponsored that debate?
HARPOOTLIAN: One of the networks I can't remember who sponsored that.
O'REILLY: No, no, the Congressional Black Caucus.
HARPOOTLIAN: Black caucus and I tell you --
O'REILLY: Yes on Martin Luther King Day. Debate, Democratic.
HARPOOTLIAN: But -- but, but what happened on that day? Every Democratic candidate.
O'REILLY: They got a debate.
HARPOOTLIAN: Yes. But they also participated in a number of events leading up to that.
O'REILLY: So there is a litmus test now that any political candidate has to participate in the event? Look --
HARPOOTLIAN: No. Recognize it. Recognize it.
O'REILLY: -- let's discuss this on the table. Wouldn't you say to me that if had you to rethink this Mr. Harpootlian because you're a no spin guy I think who was foolish to say the Republicans shouldn't debate or whatever you said on Martin Luther King Day is in hindsight of what has already happened?
HARPOOTLIAN: No, what I said was it is indicative of a process in which they have not engaged the African-American community in this state.
O'REILLY: No maybe they feel that that's not their constituency. Obviously African-Americans lean heavily Democratic.