Al Sharpton on Race Factor in 2008 Election

This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," March 6, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Civil rights activist Al Sharpton has not endorsed a candidate, but has stated that if Barack Obama loses, it had better be by popular vote. The reverend joins us now from Montreal, Canada.

Today, Howard Dean, head of the DNC, said hey, the rules are the rules, and if super delegates are going to go to Hillary Clinton, that's the way it's going to be, and tough on anybody who doesn't like it. You say what?

REV. AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: I say, first of all, we have to have the rules be the rules. Rules being rules means that Michigan and Florida cannot be seated the way they are. And rules being rules means that the super delegates, many of whom were elected, should respect the electorate, the people in their districts or in their counties, or whatever they represent, which is the position that they had that made them a super delegate should be elected.

You cannot turn around and say to the people, you don't matter. And I think that, as someone that is objective in this matter, we cannot have the perception that the rules changed because of some favoritism, or because some people didn't want to see Senator Obama as the nominee, when he legitimately pulled ahead.

O'REILLY: All right. It looks like, and this has been a crazy race so anything can happen obviously, but it looks like Barack Obama will roll into the convention with more popular votes and more elected delegates. That's what it looks like.

But I'll tell you what: The Clintons aren't going to step aside. So let's just say — we don't usually do this, but I think this is educated speculation — let's just say Hillary Clinton gets the super delegates and gets the nomination, and Barack Obama is angry. What do you do? Are you going to get out there and demonstrate?

SHARPTON: Well, it's not a matter of just what do I do. It's what a lot of people…

O'REILLY: No, but I want to know what you do. You're a big Democrat. Come on.

SHARPTON: Well, I mean.

O'REILLY: Come on, you're a good guy. Are you going to be out there with signs?

SHARPTON: There will be many reactions. There will be many reactions.

O'REILLY: But yours? What is yours going to be?

SHARPTON: Mine will be based on if she legitimately wins it.

O'REILLY: No, just the scenario I gave you. Just the scenario I gave you. Barack Obama has got more popular and more elected delegates come convention time. He's denied it because of the deals of the super delegates. What does Al Sharpton do? Do you take to the streets? What do you do?

SHARPTON: Well, if he is denied the selection of the nominees by super delegates making backroom deals, not by the voters, well, you not only would see people like me demonstrating, you may see us talking about whether or not we can support that ticket. A lot would depend on what Senator Obama and those involved in this campaign say. But I would be prepared to talk about how can we support a process that we thought the conservatives against him in Florida — you can't have one man, one vote as your theme…

O'REILLY: All right.

SHARPTON: ...and then change it to say one's super man, one vote.

O'REILLY: So your opinion has to be taken into consideration by Howard Dean and the other guys in the Democratic Party, that if Barack Obama's denied it by super delegates, Al Sharpton and others are not going to be happy. It's not going to go down well at the convention. So that has to be considered.

Now do you think in the Democratic Party, which obviously is much more liberal than the Republican Party, there's an element of racism in all this? Do you believe there is an element there?

SHARPTON: I think that the perception by many of us in the African-American community is that there has been this ugly, racial undertone that's been around for the last several weeks. And I think none of it has come from the Obama camp. I mean, the thing is if there's ever been a candidate that has tried not to use race, to not wear it on his sleeve, it has been Barack Obama.

O'REILLY: I agree.

SHARPTON: To the attack and chagrin of some other, you know, black leaders. So here it seems like no matter what you do, you're going to have this kind of stage set and rules change. I think that the Democratic Party, hopefully, will not stoop to that.

O'REILLY: OK, but you just raised…

SHARPTON: …with that perception.

O'REILLY: interesting point. You just raised an interesting point. Without saying the name, the Clinton campaign, you said in the last several weeks, there have been racial stuff around. And you know, the folks know that the comment about Jesse Jackson winning South Carolina. There was a picture posted on the Internet that was a little bit of a snafu. I don't believe that that was much, but there's got to be — there is a racial undertone. So what you're saying to me, and correct me if I'm wrong, I won't put words in your mouth, is that in the Democratic Party, within there, there is a little racial, I don't know whether it's animus or awareness. There is. It's there.

SHARPTON: Well, there's some awareness. I think that some people have manipulated it. Some people thing it's subtle. But I think those of us that have had to deal with discrimination all our lives, we can see what discrimination is being hinted. And I think that it would serve the party and Mrs. Clinton well if they not only denounced it, but to show they're serious, is to say we're not going to change the rules when for the first time we have a person of color really winning so far, and that we do not want to give the perception that any of these elements that are showing their hands actually reflect the feeling of the product.

O'REILLY: All right. Well, keep me posted, Reverend, on anything that you see that you don't think is quite right, because we're obviously being fair in this. And we want to know. And we appreciate you taking the time tonight, sir.

SHARPTON: Thank you.

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