Transcript: Rev. Al Sharpton

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," May 26, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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OLIVER NORTH, GUEST HOST: Welcome back to "Hannity & Colmes." I'm Oliver North sitting in Sean Hannity's chair.

Coming up, one of the most successful corporate executives in American business, Jack Welch, weighs in on what it takes to win big in the workplace.

But first, Mexican President Vicente Fox (search) recently refused to apologize for comments he made defending Mexican illegals working in America. He said Mexican workers take jobs that, quote, "even blacks refuse to do." Mr. Fox may not have apologized for his remarks, but he got an earful from the Reverend Al Sharpton during Mr. Sharpton's recent visit south of the border.

What compromise did they reach, Reverend? I've got to ask you the question, who called who on this meeting?

REV. AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Well, we had called for an apology Monday night, a week ago. He called me and said he wanted to meet and talk, that he was not intentionally offending anyone. He was not a racist.

I told him that he should apologize. He has to apologize. The statement was offensive. And it meant my going down and meeting with him at the presidential palace.

NORTH: You have to help me here. I was in Iraq at the time. The statement, as I read it, and I didn't hear it, but I read it, the statement as I read it, is true.

SHARPTON: Why is it true?

NORTH: Well, because Mexicans are, as this morning's Washington Post (search) points out, taking jobs all over America that neither whites nor blacks nor yellows or greens or reds will do.

SHARPTON: But that's not what he said. What he said is they're doing jobs that "even blacks won't do," as if blacks are some measure of the lowest peons in this country.

NORTH: Wouldn't that make Mexicans even lower than that?

SHARPTON: Well, he would have to — and I think he should — have to answer the question why he would racially identify blacks. He said in the statement, "Mexicans come to this country with great integrity and work ethic and do the jobs that even the blacks don't do."

A, that's not true. Blacks and whites are working at poverty level. B, we have had more integrity and work ethic than anyone in the America, including the times we worked for nothing.

NORTH: So when you got there, you went down.


NORTH: What was the conversation like?

SHARPTON: We sat down, and basically just you and I are having a conversation. I explained to him I thought it was offensive and racial. He said he regretted if it offended anyone, but he would not make a formal apology.

I said that's like me stepping on your toe and saying, "I regret if it hurts you, but I'm not going to apologize." Absolutely it hurt me. It stepped on my toe. It plays into the stereotype that blacks are the lowest peons in the American workforce.

NORTH: Again, I disagree, only based on what he said, that would make Mexicans, quote, lower than anybody.

SHARPTON: But you're expanding currently what he said. He didn't say that Americans don't want to do, others don't want to do. He said "even the blacks," which is the code that, you know, blacks don't want to do different things, and you know they're the lowest in America, and even they don't want to do that. Why would he specify blacks, Colonel?

NORTH: You'd have to ask him.


NORTH: What did he say?

SHARPTON: He couldn't answer.


SHARPTON: That's why I asked you. I thought maybe you could know.

COLMES: Well, I'll tell you what he said. Here's what's worse. First of all, if he said blacks without the word "even," that's bad, because he's singling out blacks. The fact that he said the word "even" blacks, that's what makes it even worse.

SHARPTON: He qualified. That's correct.

COLMES: As if you are the lowest of the low because you're black. That is the implication of that statement.

SHARPTON: There's no other way to read it.

COLMES: I don't know how you read it any other way. I don't know how you see it — there's no way other than "even blacks won't do that."

NORTH: It strikes me that the people who ought to be most offended would be Mexicans.

SHARPTON: Well, why? If he said they're full of integrity and workforce, and they're doing something that even the, quote, "peons won't do," they look like they're doing something with commitment, and that we're the barometer that they ought to be measured by because we're so low.

COLMES: That's like saying blacks are the lowest of the low. That's exactly what he said.

SHARPTON: That's exactly what he said.

COLMES: Look, Jesse Jackson (search) apparently met with him, as well, and said that he had a contrite heart. He came away with a very different view than you did. Why do you think that?

SHARPTON: I mean, I think that he showed that he understood that he offended people. I don't think he gave an apology. I don't know what the conversation with Reverend Jackson was. I talked to Reverend Jackson, and I think he and I both agree the man should apologize. There's no conflict there.

COLMES: And you've invited him to Harlem to come and visit you?

SHARPTON: I said he should come to Harlem for several reasons. One, he ought to see 50 percent unemployment of black men in Harlem to see the kinds of jobs we're not getting. And second, he needs to see people that really have integrity and work from the highest to the lowest echelon in this country and should not be singled out.


COLMES: Is he going to make — is he going to come? Will he make that trip?

SHARPTON: He said he would. Now his office is saying he may. I don't know what he is going to do. I think he should apologize from Mexico, from Harlem, wherever. He certainly should, as the head of state...

COLMES: He told you he would make the trip. He told you he would visit?

SHARPTON: He said he would visit. He said that, when he comes to America again, he would work out coming.

COLMES: Do you think your remarks and your criticism of him may prevent him from coming and doing what he said he would do?

SHARPTON: If he is the head of state, that's the second-largest trading partner in the United States, he has an obligation, no matter who criticizes him, to not offend a large bulk of the American public.

COLMES: Very quickly. A Senate compromise, good or bad?

SHARPTON: A Senate compromise? I don't think it was good. I think that the conservatives, the right-wing, got everything the wanted. I mean, this has been a week that the right-wing has right.

COLMES: But the filibuster sticks.

SHARPTON: Again, I still don't think it was a good compromise.

I have a special announcement.

NORTH: Go ahead.


COLMES: Look what Ollie did. He crosses Hannity's name off the cup and writes "North." Can you believe that?

SHARPTON: I told him about Oliver North years ago.


NORTH: You've got to watch, Hannity. You've got to watch.

COLMES: Can you believe he did that?

NORTH: Do you think Vicente Fox is a racist?

SHARPTON: I think what he said was racist.

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