Geraldine Ferraro Reacts to Barack Obama's Speech on Race

This is a rush transcript from "America's Election HQ," March 24, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BILL HEMMER, CO-HOST: First on FOX right now: Geraldine Ferraro is making headlines again.

Remember two weeks back, when she said if Barack Obama was a white man, he would not be in his position? Well, that brought a rebuke from Senator Obama in his speech on race last Tuesday, saying some have dismissed Ferraro as harboring some deep-seated bias, to which Ferraro says don't lump me in the same category as your bigot pastor.

In her first TV interview since those comments and the Obama speech, Geraldine Ferraro is back.

? Video: Watch the interview

And, welcome.

GERALDINE FERRARO, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Thank you. I had hoped that when this is all gone last week, that I would be out of this presidential race, but unfortunately, I think Senator Obama seems to want to keep me in the loop.

HEMMER: But why do you think he put your name in that speech last week?

FERRARO: Well, I think what he's trying to do is he's trying to balance, you know, what the Reverend Wright has said with his grandmother's comments and my comments, and, you know, it really doesn't work.

But what is sad to me, I've read through the speech, and what is sad to me to recognize is that Senator Obama doesn't recognize that his grandmother said something to him or I said something to a small group, is not equivalent in any way to what comes out of the mouth of Reverend Wright, that we were not speaking to actually generations of young people.

And, you know, race is taught. Babies aren't born knowing differences in color, gender, religions. You know, they're taught those things. They're taught them at home. They're taught in the schools. They're taught in the churches. They're taught in the mosques, in the synagogues.

And, look what's happened when hate is taught. Look what's happening in the Middle East. It can go on forever. So, you carefully address racism in this country unless you deal with it.

HEMMER: Let me stop you there. You'd said before, the speech was excellent, and you just mentioned about teaching lessons on race. Did he teach a good lesson in that speech?

FERRARO: You know, it's a good speech. It is extremely well-crafted, but I do think he missed some very good points and had an opportunity to talk about them. He gave us the reason for Wright's anger, and he reminded us that this country isn't perfect, that it's not perfect in any way. But it's still the greatest country in the world.

And the thing about it is, you know, as someone who is a child of immigrants, so though I can look at the history of slavery and say, God, that is awful, that my country had that. I mean, when my grandparents came, I mean, it was over. You know, 13th Amendment had been passed.

The 15th Amendment giving blacks the right to vote had been passed. It took, you know, another 50 years after that for people like my grandmother who came over here in 1885. Another 50 years (ph) to get that right.

HEMMER: I understand the point you're trying to make. I've just trying to keep the focus on you for a point.

FERRARO: Yes, I know, but those things happen, and so, to not point those out is, to me, very, very difficult. You know, in the big picture, Bill, this has upset me. I actually had a dream the other night about Jesse Jackson, we were both much younger and he's saying don't worry about this.

That's not healthy, and I will tell you what else I'm getting. I got an email from, a very educated thoughtful long email, and this guy said to me, I'm an African American, I'm a man and he says he's 33 years old and he is under the impression that I am saying that any black man who has achieved anything has achieved it simply because they're black. Now, that is not who I said.

And the sad thing is that Senator Obama and his campaign manager, you know, David Axelrod, who knows better, who knows me better because I was supportive of — I worked with him on Freddie Ferrer's campaign for mayor, I worked with him Carl McCall's campaign when he ran for governor, one a Hispanic, one African-American, how can he say those things?

HEMMER: When you still having dreams about this. In between all this, James Carville over the weekend said this, on the screen, "Bill Richardson's endorsement came right around the anniversary of the day when Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver, so the time something appropriate, if ironic."

That was Democrat on Democrat.

Here's Richardson with Chris Wallace on Sunday. Watch here.


GOV. BILL RICHARDSON, D-N.M.: Well, I'm not going to get into gutter like that. And you know, that's typical of many of the people around Senator Clinton. They think they have a sense of entitlement to the presidency, you know, and I got in this race myself. But you know, Chris, it shouldn't just be Bush Clinton, Bush Clinton. You know, what about the rest of us?


HEMMER: He says that's typical of many of the people around Senator Clinton. He says a sense of entitlement to the White House. How do you respond to that being a part of her campaign up to two weeks ago?

FERRARO: Well, you know, I've known Bill for a long time but the thing - and I served with him in the Congress. You know, the thing about it is he didn't speak up when he saw my views distorted, and what I said. You know, he's close to the Obamas. He should have gotten to them and said don't do this.

I have got to tell you something, the reaction on the Obama campaign, Bill, as awful. It was emails, voice mails, hate mail, not only for me, but it also went to my law firm. It went to the board of a public company that I'm on. It went to the board of NDI.

I mean, I can't believe that this people actually wanted to have my - got me fired.

HEMMER: So, both sides are throwing stones?

FERRARO: No, it's worse than that. This is — first, they distorted my view and then they wanted to punish me for not backing down and saying, yes, I'm sorry, I was wrong. I wasn't wrong and I won't back down and say that. And the fact that you distort my words doesn't mean it's going to happen.

HEMMER: All right. Thanks for coming on this evening. We'll speak again next time here in New York, OK?

FERRARO: OK. We'll do.

HEMMER: Geraldine Ferraro, her first TV interview from the race speech of last Tuesday.

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