This is a partial transcript of The Big Story With John Gibson, July 23, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Does the Democrat Party take African-American voters for granted? You see, I believe in my heart that the Republican Party, the party of Lincoln and Frederick Douglas (search) is not complete without the perspective and support and contribution of African-Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN GIBSON, HOST: President Bush addressing the annual convention of the National Urban League (search), making a strong appeal for the African-American vote.
Reverend Al Sharpton (search), who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination was in that audience. Reverend, today's big question: is President Bush doing enough to win black votes?
REV. AL SHARPTON, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think not. Clearly, when he spoke today I think we saw a lot of theater, but the fact of the matter is he himself admitted the Republican Party had a lot of work to do. When he ran down his record, he, in my judgment, showed how weak his record in three and a half years was. Never mentioned Affirmative Action one time and he's speaking right here in Michigan, where the case came from the University of Michigan.
I think that it was a very, very flawed appearance and I don't think it will reap him any votes. I think that he made a dramatic appeal but it will be hollow in the end.
GIBSON: Reverend Sharpton, apparently President Bush's people think he has to win a certain percentage of the African-American vote, but not the majority of it. And that percentage is somewhere around 40 percent. Now, let's talk inside baseball: do you think he can do that?
SHARPTON: No. I think that when you look at the fact he did somewhere around 7 percent or 8 percent last time...
GIBSON: And by the way, there's a picture of you being nice to him, shaking his hand.
SHARPTON: Well, I'm cordial to anyone. I think what we wanted to show is that we would hear him out since he won't hear us out. Wouldn't meet with the NAACP, wouldn't meet with civil rights leadership; so I think Americans need to know that we have tried to go more than halfway with George Bush. This is the only appearance he makes every year is the Urban League and he's not tried to be open and have dialogue.
I mean, he was nice to us today, calling us by name, but we're not looking for civility, we're looking for policy and the policy's not there.
GIBSON: But Reverend Sharpton, come on, you're giving him a whack, you know. We're not going before the NAACP (search) and we both know that Julian Bond and Kweisi Mfume have said some really awful things about him, even going so far as to run an ad blaming him for the lynching death, as you might call it, of James Byrd (search). Why should he go speak to them when he can come speak to this other group?
SHARPTON: Well, first of all, it's not this other group. It's like, you know, I'll switch one group as opposed to another. These are all different segments of a broad community. I went to many groups that were against me when I was running for president. The fact of the matter is no one has attacked him more than me. He came over and shook my hand today. That shows maturity. Why couldn't he have shown that maturity with NAACP and others?
GIBSON: But Reverend Sharpton, you have attacked him in ways that are expected in politics. I mean, you are pretty flamboyant, you make very quotable quotes, but you have not gotten vicious personally when the others did.
SHARPTON: Well, first of all, I think what the NAACP raised was as governor of Texas; he didn't do what all of us thought he could have done in the wake of James Byrd's murder, including attending the funeral, which I attended and spoke at. So, I think that that is not personal. I think that they called on an accountability of his stewardship when he was governor of Texas.
GIBSON: Come on, they said he was responsible for...
SHARPTON: What is wrong with that? That is what the NAACP...
GIBSON: They almost said he was responsible for that murder.
SHARPTON: Well, I think they said he was irresponsible in his response. I don't think anyone said he was responsible directly. I think that what they said was he was irresponsible how he handled it as governor and I think that he should answer that. Avoiding it and not going there is not showing leadership. Any candidate, whether it's for reelection or whether you're an insurgent, goes before audiences that may disagree with you. That's what makes you qualified to lead.
GIBSON: OK. Let's go back to our hard-bitten, cold political calculates. He's got to get 40 percent of the African-American vote. Why do you think he's not going to get that?
SHARPTON: Because if you look at the facts, look at the double unemployment rate, double blacks to whites in this country, look at the disproportionate numbers of us that died in a war that he sent us to saying, "We were dealing with imminent danger, weapons of mass destruction." Was not there. He did not address healthcare at all today, he did not deal with Affirmative Action at all today.
What would be the basis of four out of 10 blacks voting for someone that ignored most of our most passionate issues and it has put us in a worse economic situation than we were when he came in office? Fifty-one percent of black men in New York City are unemployed where he's headed to have the Republican Convention. Why would we vote for someone that puts us in that kind of predicament?
GIBSON: Reverend Al Sharpton, we shall see. It's always good to have you on. Thanks for coming today, appreciate it.
SHARPTON: Thank you. All right.
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