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Al Sharpton To 2020 Dem Hopefuls: 'Don't Marginalize Our Issues'

Rev. Sharpton appeared on AM Joy to talk about the National Action Network's influence on national elections.
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Reverend Al Sharpton spoke to Joy Reid about his National Action Network Convention that took place this weekend in New York City. It's a veritable Who's Who of political royalty, and this year there was plenty of buzz around potential 2020 presidential hopefuls.

Sharpton and Reid spoke about his interview with Joe Biden, and what it would take for Biden to overcome his stated reluctance to run. The answer is simple...if he feels no one else who comes forward can win, he will do it.

SHARPTON: [Biden said] I've got to walk away knowing that it is -- there's somebody who can do it and can win because we've got to win. We've got to win in 2020.

REID: Did you get the sense that Joe Biden thinks there's someone other than him that can win?

SHARPTON: I think that he has not clearly seen who that is yet and I think that troubles him. I think when he thinks about how a lot of what he and President Obama achieved from the Affordable Care Act across the board is being very much targeted to be dismantled, I think he feels personally as well as his whole public life is on the line in terms of a lot of things he did and he wants to make sure we can win. I think if he does not become convinced someone can do it, he may try to convince his family to let him do it. I have no way of knowing where that will end up, but that's the sense I got.

Regardless of whomever the eventual nominee ends up being, though, Sharpton has some tough words for them. Do NOT take the Black vote for granted. You can NOT win without the Black vote. If the 2020 nominee thinks they can put issues that are important to the Black community on the back burner, they are sadly mistaken. Don't discount the importance of speaking directly to that community, and addressing their specific concerns. So far, based on what he's seen from his interviews and their appearances at the convention, he's really getting a good feeling from Kamala Harris.


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REID: Kamala Harris probably has the most Obama-like hype around her but she isn't that well known and other than her really great questioning on the dais as a senator. Do you sense a fire in the belly or x factor that could make her a 2020 prospect?

SHARPTON: I sensed yesterday a real passion. Kamala Harris spoke yesterday, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Andrew Cuomo all have come one because it's not a Sharpton primary, it's National Action Network convention, it ends today. They have to have the black vote.

REID: That's it.

SHARPTON: We are one of the organizations as is the NAACP and Urban League, but we convene first because we convene in April because we try to do it in a month Dr. King was killed, because we are a King-based group, and they can't win without a Black vote. I felt a real passion from Kamala Harris about really fighting for issues like criminal justice, as well as the economy and other things. And we made it clear: she was a prosecutor, we may not agree on everything, but I think she really wanted that audience who is from around the country, activists, to understand that she will give access. I remember when we started this in 2000, we got the first televised debated Democratic primaries in Harlem at the Apollo and in '04 then we started in '07, everybody from Hillary to Obama was there. Obama was not as well known as he became. And he won in terms of National Action Network forums of the different speakers and look where he went. I'm not saying it was because he came to us, but he really did. I think it is empowering in our community when our national organizations can say to people, don't take us for granted, come in front of us, explain to us where you are, where we agree, where we disagree on our issues.

You mean to tell me that hasn't happened under Donnie-boy??? Under the heavy weight of the jack-booted Republican-run Congress?

SHARPTON: Particularly now, Joy, because under Trump he has marginalized our issues. Trump has not tweeted about Starbucks, Trump has not tweeted about Stephon Clark an unarmed black man killed in Sacramento. If it was left up to them we would not even be in the discussion. Yesterday helped bring us into the discussion and I think that you can't solve problems as long as you have them ignored.

Tell 'em, Rev. Because as far as I can tell from what I've been reading and hearing, the Black community is getting tired as hell of saving us from ourselves. (Not that it is their goal to save us, mind you - they make their choice about what is best for them, and their choices also happen to be the one that would benefit us white people.) They do it every damn day - especially come election time. They tried their best to do in 2016, too, but they couldn't overcome Russian interference, the Electoral College, and 53% of white women's votes.

This is part of our continuing coverage of the 2020 elections.

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