This is a partial transcript from On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, September 4, 2003. Watch On the Record  weeknights at 10 p.m. ET.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Reverend Al Sharpton (search) was the only Democratic presidential candidate who did not participate in Thursday night's debate (search). He joins us now from Atlanta.

And you've got a great story about why you weren't there, don't you, Reverend?

REV. AL SHARPTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it's not great to me.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you know what I mean. I mean, you have a good excuse.

SHARPTON: Well, no, I sat on a tarmac at LaGuardia Airport for almost two hours, and the connection in Atlanta was canceled. Even when we went to rent a private plane here in Atlanta over at the aviation (ph), a plane couldn't get in and get us there on time. So we were stuck.

This is one of the few debates I've missed. I really wanted to be there because I think what we've got to be careful of is, as we collectively go to unseat Bush, we've got to be honest about why we have not unseated him in the first place or why we didn't have the defeat of Bush stuck to, and why we've been defeated in the congressional races.

We've got to correct some things in the party. We should not have a situation, Greta, where next year we have a coronation without a convention. We need to deal with what the Democratic Party is going to stand for, and that's the kinds of things that must be handled in these debates, and these are the kinds of issues that I bring to the debate.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Reverend. So, you were at the South Carolina debate in May, and next Tuesday, you'll be at the debate in Baltimore, sponsored by Fox and the Black Caucus, right?

SHARPTON: I'll be there and I intend to be at all the ones that I can be. I think it's very important that we debate these issues and decide what the Democratic Party's going to do so we are no longer perennial losers on these congressional and presidential races.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. In light of the fact that you had a rotten evening -- traveling around airports tonight -- were you able to actually watch the debate?

SHARPTON: I watched some of the debate, and that's what I'm saying. I think that there must be more dialogue about the direction of the party. I think that there must be more dialogue about building and broadening the base.

We're doing a lot of voter registration, a lot of reaching out. We cannot see the Democrats win if we bring the same team to the field and what they're doing is they're not expanding the party.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Let me make you analyst since you were a watcher tonight and, unfortunately, not a participant. Looking at the debate tonight, did anything surprise you about any of your fellow candidates?

SHARPTON: I was surprised there was not more issues discussed that would deal with the particular concerns of the Latino community. We debated in Phoenix that I was there for the Latino elected officials' national conference.

I thought tonight that I would hear more about the need of inclusion and the need of stopping things like red lighting, Latinos wanting to buy homes and can't get the bank loans and the mortgages. I thought there'd be more about English only.

Really about Proposition 54. One of the hottest issues on the California ballot with the recall is Prop 54. I just stood last week in California with Latino leaders fighting that.

I was surprised I didn't hear more about the specific concerns of those that hosted that debate.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. In the last 50 seconds we have left, in terms of the foreign policy discussion, if you'd been there tonight, was there anything you wanted to add to the foreign policy discussion?

SHARPTON: There must be an unequivocal investigation of Saudi Arabia's ties to the Bush administration. We cannot fight terrorism and then be selective on those that are involved in financing terrorism. The Saudis are the Achilles heel of the Bush administration.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Reverend Sharpton, thank you for joining us tonight.

Sorry you got stuck in all those airports. You're sort of like the rest of us dealing with all the airlines.

Anyway, thank you, sir.

SHARPTON: Well, I feel like that. See you next Tuesday in Baltimore.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. We'll see you on Tuesday in Baltimore. Thank you, sir.

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