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PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton, Transcript 12/13/2015

Guests: Bob Herbert; Matt Welch; Pamela Meanes; La Shawn Ford; Arne Duncan

Show: POLITICS NATION Date: December 13, 2015 Guest: Bob Herbert; Matt Welch; Pamela Meanes; La Shawn Ford; Arne Duncan



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who is afraid of the big bad Trump? Two days before the next debate, will any of Trump`s rivals attack him to his face.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m not one of these other guys that goes down. I don`t go down. I go up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And if they go too far will he run as an independent?

TRUMP: If the playing field is not level, then certainly all options are open.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Also, outrage at the Supreme Court. New reaction to Justice Scalia`s controversial comments about black students.

Crisis in Chicago, can the justice department fix what`s happening with police in?

All that, plus, the exit interview. We talk to education Secretary Arne Duncan who is going out with a bang as he heads into private life.

From Rockefeller center in New York this is "Politics Nation" with Al Sharpton.

REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Good morning. I`m Al Sharpton.

Two days before the next Republican debate, party leaders are thinking the unthinkable. What if Donald Trump wins the nomination? He has a 19-point lead in a new national poll, and he has a message to Republicans who say he will fall off.


TRUMP: They are kidding themselves. I`m going to win. I think I`m going to win, you know. I`m not one of these other guys that goes down. I don`t go down. I go up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have a warning for GOP leaders?

TRUMP: I say, folks, you know, I`m sorry I did this to you, but you got to get used to it. It`s one of those little problems in life.


SHARPTON: Trump saying he is not going anywhere, even saying quote "I will never leave this race." But his top rival Ted Cruz apparently hopes he does. In comments leaked from a fund-raiser, Cruz predicted both Trump and Ben Carson will slide.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I like and respect both Donald and Ben. I do not believe either one of them is going to be our nominee. With both of them, I think gravity is pulling them down. Who am I comfortable having their finger on the button? Now that`s a question of strength, but it`s also a question of judgment, and I think that is a question that is a challenging question for both of them.


SHARPTON: Trump punched back tweeting "looks like Ted Cruz is getting ready to attack. I`m leading by so much he must. I hope so. He will fall like all others. Will be easy!"

This week "the Washington Post" was also reporting that the GOP establishment is preparing to take down Trump at the party`s convention if he gets that far. But Trump has a warning for Republican elites. He could run as a third party candidate.


TRUMP: If they don`t treat me with a certain amount of decorum and respect, if they don`t treat me as the front-runner, by far the front- runner, if the playing field is not level, then certainly all options are open.

If I`m treated fairly, I would never do it. If I`m not treated fairly I might very well do it.

If I`m considered fairly, I would certainly consider that. In fact, they did a poll in one of the -- I think with "USA Today," where they said 68 percent of the people that were Republicans would follow Trump if he went independent.



SHARPTON: Joining me now is Bob Herbert, former "New York Times" columnist and distinguished senior fellow at DEMOS. MSNBC contributor Victoria DeFrancesco, and Matt Welch, editor-in-chief of "Reason" magazine. Thank you all for being here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great to be here.

SHARPTON: Bob, Trump to party leaders, you got to get used to it. Do they?

BOB HERBERT, DEMOS DISTINGUISHED SENIOR FELLOW: Not necessarily. I mean, it`s still Trump is obviously way ahead in the polls of Republican voters, but it`s got to be tough for him to actually secure the nomination before the convention for two main reasons.

One because there are so many candidates in the race, so the votes divided up among all the candidates and there`s no indication that a bunch of them are going to drop out. And the second thing is the proportional voting in so many of these states, so that even if you win a primary in a certain state you don`t get all the delegates from that state.

So he may not have, you know, enough delegates going into the convention to have it wrapped up.

SHARPTON: Matt, you`re the editor-in-chief of "Reason." I mean, let`s be reasonable. We have been saying for months, six months, so he is going to fall, he is going to fall, every outrageous statement this is going to do him in. He is still there. He is, in fact, going up. What is going to derail him or will he be derailed?

MATT WELCH, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, REASON MAGAZINE: I mean, think about this, the first poll that came out after his Muslims remarks came out Friday had him unshaking at 35 percent. He is still up 20 on his nearest rivals. They are not going anyway. And his supporters, Republicans, say only by 2:1 margin they were not offended by his comments in any way. So there is some base in the Republican Party that is an audience for that. And that is a problem.

However, the establishment has been fighting like cats and dogs to try to get him out of the way because they are terrified of what he is going to do to all the down ballot successes that the Republican Party has had in 2014. They think that he is going to wipe them out.

Think about it. There`s no real Trumpian governor. There is no - there is not many, not a Trump, you know, coalition inside Congress right now.

SHARPTON: So he is one-of-a-kind, and we are only brings that in, Victoria, the down ballot, the governors, the senators, even Congress, where they have a wide margin right now, they`re concerned about. They are really looking at the possibility of a broken convention.

DEFRANCESCO: They are. And picking up on Matt`s comment, there is isn`t a coalition of Trumpians yet is what I want to say, but we saw in one of the leaked memos from the RNC saying to those down ballot folks, be Trump. Don`t fight Trump. Roll with it. So the RNC even though it`s scared of Trump does recognize the power that he has to marshal folks. The question is, are these folks going to turn out?

We know that over a third of Republicans support Trump. But the question, Reverend, is are those folks going to come out and vote in the primaries and then eventually in the general election. So that`s the big question mark that is hovering over us. It`s unquestionable that Trump has support, but is that support transferrable into office?

SHARPTON: You have watched politics and social movements closer and have been very, very poignant in your analysis for a while now.

HERBERT: All the time.

SHARPTON: I have studied you so explain when Victoria says they understand the power of Trump. What is the power of Trump?

HERBERT: The power of Trump is I think that his real genius is self- promotion. I mean, I have never seen anything like it. And he actually will say anything. And people, especially politicians, public figures, they hate to see themselves trashed in public, even if it`s an unfair attack.

But I think that can only get you so far. Trump is actually a runaway train here now. And I think that the GOP is headed for a colossal train wreck, whether he gets the nomination or not. If he doesn`t get the nomination, the party is going to be fractured in perhaps a million pieces. If he does get the nomination, there is a good chance that he goes down in a heap against the Democrats, because the people who are so much pro-Trump do not represent by any means a majority of Americans. So it`s the possibility of a huge election victory in the presidential election for the Democrats, Hillary Clinton, if she`s the nominee. And then she may have coat tails, and then you`re talking about Congress and state races and that sort of thing.

SHARPTON: You know, and Victoria, you are talking about a real change in American politics, if, in fact, this continues to play out this way. And yet at the same time it doesn`t appear like he is going anywhere. And to Bob`s point about these guys not wanting to be attacked as soon as it came out with Ted Cruz said that the fund raiser was leaked out, the tape, he tweeted "Trump is terrific." I mean, so it`s like nobody wants to get in the ring with this guy, even though he has said some outrageous stuff, they kind of let it go.

DEFRANCESCO: They are scared of him and they can read numbers well. Ted Cruz, whatever you think about him, is incredibly smart. And Ted Cruz knows that if he can just coast behind Donald Trump and keep the Donald Trump folks happy, and at the same time start cultivating that evangelical vote in Iowa and in the southern states he has a real shot at it.

But look, these guys are not dumb and they know the numbers that Donald Trump has are undeniable, so that`s why we see them very cautious about wanting to go Trump.

SHARPTON: Matt, some of those numbers are driven by the fear around terrorism, a legitimate fear that a lot of Americans v the impact of the terror concerns. "The Washington Post" reports several GOP power brokers are arguing the party`s establishment must lay the groundwork for a floor fight. But at the same time, Americans concerned about terror haven`t been this high since 9/11, Matt. At the 9/11, 78 percent thought it was likely another attack was likely within a few months. Today, 79 percent believe that. Is that helping to fuel Trump`s rise?

WELCH: Absolutely. And there is this perception and it conflates with reality on some levels that people have this anti-elitist thing. The Trump support isn`t necessarily just anti-Obama or anti-Democrat. Hell of a lot of it is anti-Republican. It`s anti-media perhaps more than anything else. And there is a perception that the people who control or run Washington are ineffectual at best and they are actively corrupt at worse. And they apply this to the fight against terrorism, they apply this to economics, to fairness and a lot of different things. So that group goes to Trump.

The public perception in this country changed I think when the rise of ISIS. When we first saw beheadings on You Tube live that changed the needle on American foreign policy. In 2013 Rand Paul was up ahead and he is nowhere right now because the climate, I think, has really changed from out from under his feet.

SHARPTON: But isn`t that the difference, Bob, between a Rand Paul, even a Herman Cain when we keep hearing his analogies. The difference is that Americans have changed in terms of they feel threatened, there is an insecurity we didn`t have before.

HERBERT: I completely agree. So Trump is now showing strength. Folks are not necessarily you know, getting down in the weeds on the specific issues or on specific foreign policy, strategies or tactics or anything like that, you know. Trump presents a figure of strength, whether it`s real or not, doesn`t really matter and people are looking for a strong leader right now. But I think you make a really good point about the fears are kind of conflated. It`s not just the fear of terrorism, although that`s a big deal, but that gets conflated with these mass shootings that have nothing to do with the Middle East, for example.


HERBERT: And then also the economic problems that so many of the Trump supporters have been facing, so you talk about the anti-government aspect. They don`t feel that the government is working for them. And all of that I think comes together and fuels this anti-establishment.

SHARPTON: Victoria, when you look at the global threat of terrorism, the economic as Bob talks about, the gun violence, the mass shootings, even the social unrest legitimate protest that some of us are in, all of that, it remind me when I was a kid `68, Richard Nixon won because people wanted somebody they wanted to take charge, calm everything down.

DEFRANCESCO: It`s fear. And for better or for worse, fear is a motivating factor in politics, in how we act and how we vote. And what Donald Trump has done is he has tapped into that fear and things that we would normally consider extreme are being accepted as reasonable because there is so much fear in the mix. So the idea of excluding persons of Islamic descent.

Normally that would seem outrageous. But now there`s fear, folks are saying hey maybe that makes sense. Think back to the Japanese internment or think back to the Chinese exclusion act. Those things happened because there was an environment of fear, whether economic fear with the Chinese exclusion act or foreign policy fear with Japanese internments.

HERBERT: I think Trump --

SHARPTON: All of you one minute. Stay with us. There`s a lot more ahead. We will be back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coming up, Justice Scalia`s controversial comments about black students, and what they mean for affirmative action.

Plus, outrage in Chicago, and a mayor under fire, as policing issues come to a head.




SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: It was deeply disturbing to hear the Supreme Court justice endorsed racist ideas from the bench, the nation`s highest court.


SHARPTON: Senate minority Harry Reid speaking out against those controversial comments from Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia. It came during arguments over a case from Texas that could overturn affirmative action.


JUSTICE ANTONIN SCALIA, SUPREME COURT: There are those who contend that it does not benefit Africa-American to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well. As opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a less- a slower-track school were they do well.


SHARPTON: Justice Scalia went on it suggest that some black students can`t keep up with classes at better schools.


SCALIA: Most of the - most of the black scientists in this country don`t come from schools like the University of Texas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So this court --

SCALIA: From lesser schools where they do not feel that they`re - that they are being pushed ahead in classes that are too - too fast for them.


SHARPTON: I was there in the court for this and many in the room were stunned by these comments. I talked about all this with Pamela Meanes, former president of the National Bar Association, the country`s oldest and largest group of African-American attorneys and judges. I asked about her reaction.


PAMELA MEANES, FORMER PRESIDENT, NATIONAL BAR ASSOCIATION: Well, Reverend Sharpton, if you look at what Justice Scalia said, which he was quoting from a brief that he doesn`t identify, and he was espousing this mismatch theory which is that when you admit African-Americans or individuals not qualified to a school, as they say, to schools that are very prestigious, that you are doing them a disservice by doing that.

As an attorney, when I hear something like that, it takes me back to the civil rights era, where individuals were being very (INAUDIBLE) about whether or not we should eat in certain locations, whether or not we should attend certain schools, or whether or not we should sit in certain locations because they were doing what was in our best interests.

SHARPTON: The attorney for the University of Texas, he referenced even going further than you, when you said the civil rights era. He went to the `50s to separate but equal. Let me give you the sound of what the attorney for the University of Texas had to say in the hearing.

GREGORY GARRE, ATTORNEY FROM UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS: I don`t think the solution to the problems with student body diversity can be to set up a system in which not only are minorities going to separate schools, they`re going to inferior schools. Now is not the time and this is not the case to roll back student body diversity in America.

SHARPTON: Not only separate school but inferior schools which is really what Brown versus the board of education was about. Really in response to Judge Scalia`s statement, because he was really saying, inferring that you`re bringing us back to separate but equal, talking about these kinds of things, Judge Scalia.

MEANES: That`s exactly correct. And that is where they are headed. But we know that separate but equal did not always equal and in separate and it being equal. In fact, it ended up being separate and inferior. But what we want to be very careful as we talk about schools that African-Americans tend to go to, we don`t want to immediately label those schools as inferior to counter an argument.


MEANES: What we want to say is that an African-American, just like a white American, Hispanic-American and Asian-American, should have the opportunity to go to any university that they choose. And that there should be a fair chance for them to happen, this to happen.

And Reverend Sharpton, if we look at the Texas plan, what we find that they don`t use race to admit all the individuals that they bring in. They only use race in the holistic program in which they use race as a factor.

SHARPTON: Yes, one of several - many in fact. In fact, it is the last one on the list, they talk about residency, whether you come from a parent, what language is spoken at home, all kinds of things, you know, your grades. But let me also debunk something with the theory that he quoted from. And that is that, when you look at the black student graduation rate at the University of Texas at Austin, 69.6 percent graduate from the University of Texas at Austin at a higher rate than the other schools that he claimed were not as at the same level. So the facts that he used from the brief don`t even really stand the light of day, because they are not actual facts.

MEANES: Well, Reverend Sharpton, you know we are used to this. We are used to individuals selectively giving out information, without being holistic in their approach. And what you do when you do that is you piecemeal together information that supports your position, and we then utilize that to shut the door to other individuals.

It`s not fair. It`s not right. And the discussion that`s taken place as a result of Scalia`s comment is an appropriate discussion. But it really does open the door to let us see what`s going on in America today, individual`s fears are certain groups, the fact that we should not allow certain individuals to do certain things. Education is always a hallmark. Any time we close the door of access to individuals we don`t make America better.

SHARPTON: You`re exactly right. And that is why at the end of the day, we can have different opinions. We can`t have different facts.

MEANES: That`s right.

SHARPTON: Not only as I sat in that courtroom was I offended by the inference, the facts just are not there.

Thank you for your time this morning.

MEANES: Thank you for staying on top of the issues, reverend Sharpton. Your voice is always need.

SHARPTON: Thank you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ahead, spotlight on Chicago policing. The "Politics Nation" interview with a lawmaker behind the bill to recall the mayor.

And in 2016 politics, Trump`s rivals search for a strategy.




MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL (D), CHICAGO: The problem is sometimes referred to as the thin blue line. The problem is other times referred to as the code of silence. It is a tendency in some cases to cover up the bad actions of a colleague or colleagues.


SHARPTON: Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel talking about his city`s police department and facing growing outrage over the handling of the police shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Protesters filled the streets, asking for the mayor`s resignation and demanding to note if there has been a cover-up.

A federal grand jury is reportedly looking into whether there was any obstruction of justice after Laquan`s death. And now the justice department will review whether the department has a pattern of violating civil rights.

Critics say that patent goes back decades. Just this year the city approved over $5 million in reparations to victims of police torture from the `70s and `80s.

Joining me now from Chicago is state representative La Shawn Ford. He introduced the bill that would let Mayor Emanuel be removed from office by a recall vote. Thanks for being here first of all.

STATE REP. LA SHAWN FORD (D), ILLINOIS: Well, thank you Reverend and thanks for always keeping it real.

SHARPTON: Thank you. Now first let me ask you this, Laquan`s shooting exposes what a lot of people in Chicago have known for a long time, that there is something wrong in the country`s second largest police force. Would you agree with that?

FORD: I think you are absolutely right. It is what you have been saying for a very long time.

SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you. What are the remaining unanswered questions about Laquan`s death, and the police shootings around it?

FORD: The number one question is, why was the tape suppressed, and not released for 14 months or so. And did the mayor of the city of Chicago knowingly hold the tape back from the citizens. That`s the number one question that people are saying that he knew better and that he decided to hold the tape so he could be reelected.

SHARPTON: One of things that strikes a lot of people that I spoke with in Chicago and people around the country need to know is that on the 23rd of November, the mayor said, one individual needs to be held accountable in Laquan`s shooting. What is your reaction to that?

FORD: Well, we know that it`s a whole department. It`s the Chicago police department. It`s the mayor`s office, and it`s also the state`s attorney`s office.

SHARPTON: The city has paid $521 million in settlement related to abuse over the last decade, according to the "Chicago Sun Times." I mean, to spend over a half billion dollars on related settlements that are related to abuse while you`re closing schools, I remember 50 schools were closed at one time, and how do you act as though this is an isolated incident?

FORD: And for the mayor of the city of Chicago to say that he did not know about it, you know, it`s actually, how could you run for re-election, be the mayor for four years, run for re-election and not know that your city is corrupt, not know that your police department is racist, not know that people are being mistreated in your city?

If it`s true that he really didn`t know that the culture of his police department was racist and that it treated black people and Latinos in a different way than they treat people in his own family, it means he can`t be the mayor for the entire city and he should resign.

SHARPTON: You proposed legislation to allow for a recall and of course you`re going to deal with a legislative vote on that and the legalities. Is there anything the mayor can do to restore trust with the city of Chicago and those community residents who seem to be growing, that is calling for his removal?

FORD: You know, right now, his approval rating is down. His trust factor is down, and people have lost confidence in the mayor. You know, I`m still hoping and praying that he does everything that he can to make Chicago great. But until he does that, and until he figures out what it is that he needs to do, I will say no. But right now, I don`t think he understands the city, so I don`t think he could do anything in order to change the hearts and minds of the people in the city of Chicago.

SHARPTON: We`ll stay on this.

Illinois state representative La Shawn Ford, thank you for your time this morning.

FORD: And I really appreciate all your work. Thank you, Reverend Al Sharpton.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Still to come, the next GOP debate, do Trump`s rivals fight him or befriend him.

And the exit interview, outgoing education secretary Arnie Duncan on "Politics Nation."




SHARPTON: Donald Trump in a close encounter with the bold eagle. The video went viral. It was from a photo shoot with "Time" magazine, some people thought Trump looked a little bit nervous, but he says he wasn`t scared of the eagle at all.

Politically Trump also sounds confident, declaring that he will win the nomination, and refusing to back down from any of his controversial statements.


TRUMP: We can`t worry about being politically correct. There is nobody in this country, if I want it to be, that could be more politically correct than me. Nobody.


TRUMP: Not at all. Probably the least of anybody you have ever met. I am the least racist person that you`ve ever met. I am the least racist person.

I have many good friends who are Muslims, they`re terrific people and they are calling me on an hourly basis thanking me for bringing up this point.


SHARPTON: Two days before the next GOP debate, is there a candidate ready to take on Trump? A recent poll shows Ted Cruz ahead of Trump in Iowa, where he just picked up a key endorsement. And Chris Christie is up six points in New Hampshire. But Senator Lindsey Graham says Trump`s support in the GOP base runs deep and that it`s almost irrational.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, there is about 40 percent of the Republican primary voter who believe that Obama was born in Kenya and is a Muslim, you know. There is just a dislike for President Obama that is visceral. It`s almost irrational.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coming up, the "Politics Nation" panel weighs in on the GOP fight.



SHARPTON: We are back with our panel focusing on the GOP fight, two days before the next debate. I`m with Bob Herbert, former "New York Times" columnist and distinguished senior figure at DEMOS, MSNBC contributor Victoria DeFrancesco, and Matt Welch of "Reason" magazine. Thank you for being here.

Who can take Trump down? Matt, if you look at the poll of GOP voters in New Hampshire, let`s look at New Hampshire, 27 percent Donald Trump, 27 percent establishment candidates, Christie, Kasich and Jeb Bush combined. I mean, if the field gets whittled down, would one single establishment candidate be able to coalesce all of that?

WELCH: I think the only establishment candidate with a prayer right now is Marco Rubio. Jeb Bush is DOA. I mean, he is in the three percent club right now with basically the rest of the Huckabees and Fiorinas and everybody else like that.

Chris Christie has shown a pulse in New Hampshire which is interesting, but Chris Christie hasn`t polled above five percent nationally since May. And, you know, he has put all of his eggs in New Hampshire. He is known there because he is nearby. I don`t think that his act is going to play very well in South Carolina. So I think Iowa is going to be the key more.

Ted Cruz I think has a very legitimate shot of beating Trump in Iowa, which changes the way that we talk about this election for a moment. And basically polls, national polls in the primary elections usually don`t matter until after thanksgiving. So all of this noise so far has been really entertaining. We have all been watching it. But we don`t know what it means until right about now. And I think Ted Cruz could change that which again is not something that the establishment is going to love because he has seen as anti-establishment as well.

SHARPTON: Bob, does Cruz maintain a momentum and keep growing because he is right, polls before thanksgiving really are not that serious. Even on the Democratic side, I remember 2004 about this time in our race, Howard Dean was the nominee.

HERBERT: Exactly.

SHARPTON: He ended up coming in three in Iowa.

HERBERT: No, I agree. I mean, Cruz could take Iowa. The other thing is, elections are just, by nature, uncertain. These elections, this campaign is getting so much attention. I think you`re going to have really big turnouts in these elections. And when that happens, you know, it`s very hard to gauge what the outcome is going to be.

The thing about Marco Rubio though, is, I always hear the pundits and I hear the establishment Republicans talking about Marco Rubio. But when I talk to ordinary voters, Republican and conservative voters, his name does not come up spontaneously. I mean, I hear Cruz much more often and I hear Chris Christie much more often.

SHARPTON: Then how important is the debate then? Because the next one is not until two weeks before Iowa. How important is the debate in two nights?

DEFRANCESCO: I think the debate is very important for everyone except Donald Trump. I think the debate is going to be of particular importance to Ted Cruz and to Marco Rubio. I do think that Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, the two Cuban-American candidates are going to be could be contesting it, with Trump still in the mix, but we are going to see Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

SHARPTON: You mean in the debate?

DEFRANCESCO: In the debate and throughout the election. In my informal polling, Bob, down in Texas where I live, Ted Cruz obviously comes up a lot, but I still hear a lot of Marco Rubio chatter especially given that Jeb Bush is DOA. So the folks who used to like Jeb Bush and maybe lean toward Jeb Bush and like the other moderates, they are gravitating more and more for Marco Rubio. So the moderate Republicans are alive and well. They are just keeping their heads down.

SHARPTON: So if we, I guess all of us have said that Bush is a non-factor, I guess Carson is not coming back in your judgment?

WELCH: Well, I wouldn`t rule that out. He has also hinted at going off to an independent run in the wake of "the Washington Post" reporting about a brokered convention. He actually has a lot at stake at this debate because he has seen kind of a distracted and unfocused and unknowledgeable particularly on foreign affairs. If everyone is focused on terrorism right now is he your go-to guy? So I think he needs to show something here. And he also doesn`t have much in terms of actual ground game there. He is spending his money very unwisely in the campaign so far. So he has to show something or else he might disappear.

SHARPTON: How good is the Trump campaign for Hillary Clinton? Because let me show you, Hillary really went after Donald Trump.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have to say, Seth, I no longer think he is funny. And what he`s saying now is not only shameful and wrong, it is dangerous. I think everybody and especially the Republicans need to stand up and really say enough. You`ve gone too far.


SHARPTON: I mean, how good is Trump for her? She had a rough summer and he`s kind of like --.

HERBERT: This is fantastic for Hillary and for the Democrats in general. But I have to say to see Hillary Clinton on television saying, you know, well, now he doesn`t seem funny anymore. Did he seem funny when he was talking about Mexicans as rapists and criminals or when he said those disgusting things about women, you know, when he mocked the "New York Times" reporter. Trump has not been funny during any of this campaign.

SHARPTON: I didn`t see the humor even in the birther thing before the campaign.

But as the Democrats watch this, they are also looking as we talked about earlier in the show, the down parts of the Congress, Senate. So Trump can help not only Hillary, Trump can really help congressional candidates, Senate candidates, gubernatorial candidates.

DEFRANCESCO: And all politics is local, Reverend. So even though Congress matters and the White House matters, but our governors, who is at the state house matters. That being said, I am still cautious. I think Donald Trump helps a democratic nominee. But at the same time I don`t know who is turning out to vote.

SHARPTON: But does he hurt the lower card for lack of a better term?

WELCH: It depends on if he`s going to run as an independent or not. That`s the wild card here. I think chances are strong that he might, that he will do that. If he runs as an independent it helps and hurts at the same time. It hurts in the sense that Hillary Clinton will become the next president. It hurts in the sense that he might get more votes than the Republican. However, Republicans can say look, we distanced ourselves finally from the guy saying this stuff. Meanwhile he is going to get his people out to the polls and they`re more likely to vote down the ballot Republican.

SHARPTON: You know, a billionaire independent helped the first Clinton get in, so history may repeat itself. If Trump brings a democratic Congress about, maybe he will help make America great again.

Bob Herbert, Victoria DeFrancesco and Matt Welch, thank you. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

WELCH: Thank you.


HERBERT: Thanks.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ahead, the exit interview, one on one with education secretary Arne Duncan, a key Obama ally leaving his post after seven years.



SHARPTON: One of President Obama`s longest serving cabinet members is stepping down. Arne Duncan has been education secretary since the start of the Obama administration. He will leave at the end of this month. His influence has been historic. He drove the race to the top program. He steered billions in stimulus funding to prevent massive teacher layoffs. And he fended off attacks from Republicans, including presidential candidates, who would abolish the department of education.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t think we need a department of education.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think you`d notice if the whole department were gone tomorrow.

TRUMP: I may cut department of education.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why have a federal department of education? It`s flunked and it needs to be expelled.


SHARPTON: As a final act, Duncan fought for the major education bill signed by President Obama just days ago, a fix to the Bush era no child left behind law. I caught up with Secretary Duncan moments after the bill was signed and asked him about its impact.


ARNE DUNCAN, SECRETARY OF EDUCATION: Well, there were so many things that were broken with the no child left behind law. It was very punitive. It was very prescriptive. It was top down. The law and broken for a lot of time. Unfortunately, Reverend, as you know, Congress has been broken for a long time, pretty dysfunctional. So this law is probably six, seven, eight years overdue to be fixed. But finally Congress came together in a bipartisan way to do the right thing for children. And there are a couple of things in there I think are so important.

First, for the first time ever, this bill focuses on early childhood education. And you and I know every parent knows that learning doesn`t begin at age five at kindergarten. It begins at birth. And so, having Congress step up and put that into the law was a huge step in the right direction.

Secondly it`s important that we stay true to the civil rights nature of this bill. It came out in 1965 in making sure we are focused on closing the achievement gaps, turning around underperforming schools, ending those dropout factors. We have to do those things.

SHARPTON: You know, the president at the signing was very much full of praise for your work. And under your tenure, 81 percent high school graduation rate, historic high, 30 plus states pushing new early childhood education initiatives.

What are you most proud of? I was honored to work with you on many occasions through your tenure, including our tour with Newt Gingrich. What are your proud moments that you leave office the end of this month?

DUNCAN: Well, the tour with you and Newt was one of the highlights. I got to say, that was a lot of fun.


DUNCAN: It actually really was. But beyond that it`s been an amazing partnering with you in so many different things. But again, the focus on early childhood education I think that is the most important thing we can do. We put more than more than a billion-dollars to increase access to high quality early learning. The fact as you said that graduation rates are at historic highs, 81 percent, dropout rates are down very significantly, cut by 45 percent in the black community. So proud of the progress.

But as you know so well, we have so much further to go. There are so many children that we have to better educate that our children`s interests, our family`s interests, our nation`s interests. So the question for me is how do we accelerate the pace of change and get better faster.

SHARPTON: How do you react to some GOP candidates saying that we should abolish the department of education?

DUNCAN: Well, this should be nothing political about education. It should be the ultimate bipartisan issue and again, you saw just the perfect example of that this week, where folks who disagree on lots of issues came together. This is not the perfect bill. It is not the bill any one of us individually would have written, but it is a very, very good bill and improved dramatically from the house started and the Senate started.

But this is in our nation`s interest. I always say it, a strong military is our best defense. But a great educational system is the best offensive thing, the best offensive strategy we could have.

SHARPTON: Now, you come from Chicago. You have been noted to be one of the close, if not closest cabinet members to President Obama. How has he changed over the last seven years?

DUNCAN: Well, it`s amazing to me how he hasn`t changed. And he is still just fundamentally an unbelievably good person with an amazing heart at his core. And the fact that Washington hasn`t changed him, hasn`t changed his values, hasn`t changed what he stands for, I can`t tell you how much I appreciate that.

And I came to Washington not because I wanted to be secretary of education. That was not my lifelong ambition. I simply wanted to be part of President Obama`s team. And I can`t tell you how proud I have been to have the chance to serve with him, and to learn from him, his values, his commitment to helping those who need the most help.

Every hard decision, Reverend, every hard decision having to do with education he simply said what`s the right thing to do for children, and he would handle the politics.

SHARPTON: What`s next for Arne Duncan?

DUNCAN: You know, it`s very bittersweet, really sad to leave this work and to leave Washington. But as you may know my family moved back to Chicago this summer. And it`s been very hard on all of us, my wife, my kids and I, trying to do this commuting thing. And so I`m going home to Chicago at the end of the year. I`m going to desperately miss our work here and our team here. But it`s the right thing for my family. And I`ll figure out what to do next as we go into the New Year.

SHARPTON: Well, thank you so much for being with us. And thank you for your service to the country, secretary of education, Arne Duncan.

DUNCAN: Back at you, thanks so much for being an amazing partner.


SHARPTON: That does it for me. Thanks for watching. I will see you back here next Sunday.