This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," July 9, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: We have breaking news tonight. Reverend Jesse Jackson, my old colleague from CNN, is here to explain his remarks this weekend. Here's what Reverend Jackson said about Senator Obama Sunday morning. He was waiting for an interview on Fox News Channel.
REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: See, Barack's been talking down to black people on this faith-based. I wanna cut his (EXPLETIVE DELETED) off. Barack, he's talking down to black people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Reverend Jackson joins us live on the phone. Reverend Jackson, thank you for joining us.
JACKSON: Let me thank you. And let me say how happy I am that Obama was quick to respond and to accept my apology, which is relieving to me. My support for him has been long standing and unequivocal because I believe he represents the fulfillment of our civil rights dream. And so I'm passionate in my support of him, and the issues that I am concerned about that we need to have fulfilled.
VAN SUSTEREN: Reverend, there's no one more passionate and who has a longer history in recent history in civil rights than you do. I don't think anyone would quibble with that. But what happened? What made you think--why did you say he was talking down to blacks?
JACKSON: You know, there is the concern that the message in the churches, the sound, moral, faith-based message, must be projected as an even broader message, which he, in fact, does. The media tends to not pick up on it, but faith-based, for example, (inaudible) has limitations. If you have a faith-based daycare center, the children's parents don't have a job or lose their home to subprime foreclosure (ph), then they need their government and private sector base. It is significant that we therefore have an urban policy and a rural policy that is more universal.
I want to share this with you, (inaudible) I support him in such unequivocal terms. And my train (ph) through it all was, (inaudible) him. And I think he deserves in turn (ph) our support.
VAN SUSTEREN: I guess the only reason I'm curious about it is because, first of all, I know you very well, having worked with you, and when you say that he's talking down, and then the first thing that goes to my mind is the comment when he was talking to a woman reporter in Michigan, and he said, I'll get to you, sweetie, and sort of brushes her off and sort of talks down to her.
So it almost puts the issue in play when someone who knows him says this.
JACKSON: Well, Greta, for example, the way the media plays it, and I share this with some of them, when you talk about blacks, you know, me being better (inaudible) that is an absolutely correct moral message.
In addition to (INAUDIBLE) facing the highest level of short life expectancy, and the highest level of infant mortality, and the highest levels of unemployment.
There are some structural inequalities beyond our world politically, and these are going to require investments and a real urban policy, which he's addressed more meaningfully than anyone else has.
And that message must be part of the projection that you speak in churches and schools and school rallies and unions.
VAN SUSTEREN: Reverend, since you are so tied in to this, I'm curious what you think about this. It took a long time for Senator Obama to pull away from Reverend [Jeremiah] Wright. First he denounced his words, and it wasn't until Reverend Wright took a personal slap at Senator Obama disavowed him.
What do you make of this Reverend Wright controversy?
JACKSON: Say that again, please.
VAN SUSTEREN: What do you make of the Reverend Wright controversy?
JACKSON: You know, it was a painful experience for the both of them. But that is behind him and behind the campaign now.
Now we have the loftiest possibility of a tremendous speech in Denver on the 28th of August. And what strikes me about it that is so wonderful really about our country, think of August 28, 1955, and how painful that was, or August, 1963, about (INAUDIBLE) in Washington. August 28, 2008, Barack speaks in Denver and moving on.
Now he and, really, Hillary are a conduit for the new change that we're all embracing, the change that we've been looking for is upon us. And I want to cherish this moment, and that's why I support his campaign so unequivocally. The campaign holds great promise and hope and change.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why do you think--I get so many emails of people who are absolutely wild about thinking he's going to be the best thing if he's elected president. And then I get so many emails where people just say they don't trust him, that he has no production record, he has no voting record, and that he's just an eloquent speaker.
What do you make of that?
JACKSON: It's not about his age and eligibility. His intellect is clear. He has the biggest moral platform the any presidential candidate has had ever, and is a transformative, attentive moment for America.
You think about that little girl going to school in Kansas--his mother was born in 1954--the human(ph) rights act in 1965, and you see the evolution of American maturity and its greatness.
And now you have a guy who has all the right stuff. He has the manners, the message, the reconciliation. He's raised the money. He has withstood tough competition. And there he stands close to being the leader of the free world.
I think he has all the qualities you need, and he now needs our support.
The thing about Barack is that people didn't know him very well when the campaign started. The more they knew him, the more they liked him. The competition was very well known, and the more they knew them the less they liked them.
VAN SUSTEREN: As you look at the history of civil rights, it's so right how far we've come.
But the president of the United States isn't just about civil rights, and certainly Senator McCain has a distinguished record, as well as helping people from all walks of life.
But it also includes economics, and it includes foreign policy, it includes--how do we measure his experience in that direction?
JACKSON: Well, foreign policy is about judgment. Mr. McCain and certainly President Bush embraced a foreign policy in Iraq where we lost money and lives and honor.
It appears they would be reluctant to move out of Iraq. And it's a long, bad mistake. And if that is your experience, it's a bad experience, and he would probably make it worse.
And then the economy, with all the experience, we've gone from the largest debt and the longest assets we ever had. Now we're in Middle East investment and China holding our paper. Our economy is in bad shape.
So when Barack talks about ending the war in Iraq and reinvesting in America, with bridges and levees collapsing, and the biggest unemployment, he's moving in the right direction.
No matter whether the leadership is young or old, it's really about direction, and what would take us to a different conclusion.
VAN SUSTEREN: Let me see if I understand, and correct me if I'm wrong, if I'm summing this up wrong. Are you saying that Senator McCain has a bad foreign policy history, and it's better to go with Senator Obama who has no foreign policy history on the expectation or hope that he can do something?
JACKSON: Well, you know, Senator McCain's experience is not in foreign policy. He's a hero because he survived with integrity and experiences in war. That was not his policy. He was just in that war, and for that he deserves huge credit.
But the Iraq war, Al-Qaeda hit us, and we chose to hit somebody who didn't hit us. We chose to fight and we're losing. Now we're losing lives, money.
And we chose (INAUDIBLE) over capable U.N. inspectors. And so this war has put our foreign policy in shambles, and we have lost honor in the world.
And so when Barack determined early on that this approach of invading and occupying was a bad decision, Barack was making good judgments.
VAN SUSTEREN: But here's the flip side of that, is it you say that Senator McCain has no foreign policy. Frankly, I don't agree with that. I can see how you might say you disagree with his foreign policy, but he has been in the United States Senate for decades. I'm trying to figure out--
JACKSON: But U.S. Senate does not make foreign policy.
And my point is that the issue is not how long you've been in Washington, it's where are we going. Are we moving toward expanding our influence in the world?
The reason why Barack is so popular in countries around the world is because people long to return to the America that came in as a liberating nation, that saved people victimized by the holocaust. And they saw America as rebuilding the infrastructure, the Marshall Plan.
Now they see us as invaders, occupiers, and bombers. And so we're--we need to go in another direction. Barack represents that freshness of opportunity.
He won't be operating alone. There's the Senate and the Congress.
VAN SUSTEREN: How do you know he's popular around the world? I certainly see the numbers here on the various candidates, but how can you say he's popular in other parts of the world? He's a new senator, and how do you measure that?
And to what extent should the American voters care--I guess so much --
JACKSON: I was in Tanzania the night he went over the top in east Africa, not far from Kenya, where his parents come from. I was in London lecturing at Oxford and watched the rejoicing there.
People around the world have a great sense of hope for America, because America has been so good and so great as a nation. But we're losing so much ground because our policies are so limited, so arrogant, and they're failing us. And so he represents more openness, more willingness to engage in negotiation, not confrontation, more willing to reach out, even to adversaries. That's a smart thing to do.
VAN SUSTEREN: Reverend, I don't underestimate the power and the importance of hope and inspiration. Those are -- you know, I mean, you can oftentimes be effective with those.
But what has he actually done? Because that's what some people say is that because he's so new at this is that he inspires, but in order to try to project what you think someone is going to do in the future, you need to examine their track record.
JACKSON: When President Bush became president, he had only been to Mexico and Canada and China--
VAN SUSTEREN: And I don't think that's a tremendous amount of foreign policy either. You and I agree it is not.
JACKSON: Right. If you go to Canada, that doesn't make you a Canadian expert.
VAN SUSTEREN: But does that mean we should revisit that, of having someone who hasn't, quote, "done a lot," but who inspires us? That's what many voters email me.
JACKSON: John Kennedy did not have a long line of experience. Barack grew up in Hawaii, Indonesia. He's a world traveler. He has a sense of the world. He's intermingling with Christians and Jews and Muslims. He is not land limited, he's not race-limited.
So his sense of healing and hope and reconciliation, he sees the world through door and not through a keyhole.
VAN SUSTEREN: Reverend, what about your son? He took a little bit of a whack at you today. What do you think about that? He's a congressman.
JACKSON: That's what sons do.
VAN SUSTEREN: You can't control those sons.
JACKSON: I love the Congressman so much.
But the issue is not him. The issue is that because of my commitment to what Barack stand for in America, I do not want to do anything harmful and hurtful. That's why I was quick to express my concern about what has been said today in this open mike private conversation, which I was wrong for doing.
I want to make very clear that his commitment to social justice, to reinvest in our economy, to steer our foreign policy in another direction, in some sense, his commitment to make us feel better about ourselves, is a shared experience.
You know, my only regret, frankly, beyond this pain is Dr. King will not be here to hear him make that speech.
VAN SUSTEREN: And--
JACKSON: These who died so young in terror, they laid the groundwork in blood for the new America. And this new generation may seize this moment and do something wisely with it.
VAN SUSTEREN: It will be interesting how the viewers react to it tomorrow, Reverend. The talking down is something we hear-that I see often from women, who think that he has been a little bit arrogant towards women, and his treatment towards Senator Clinton and that journalist out in Michigan.
But a lot is going to happen between now and November.
JACKSON: I think the more they get to know him, he gets to know them, the better relationships there are going to be. He is going to transcend racial and gender and generational divide. To that extent he's a kind of renaissance man. And I think the more of him they see, the more of him they're going to like and appreciate.
And Michelle, his wife, is so bright and so able and so grounded in family and religion, and so intellectually strong. They're going to be a great couple for America.
VAN SUSTEREN: Reverend, I hope you'll gather up Senator Obama and the three of us will sit down and do an interview. The three of us will have fun. I appreciate you calling in, and bring Senator Obama next time, sir.
JACKSON: I'll do my best.
VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, Reverend.
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