Show: POLITICS NATION Date: April 10, 2016 Guest: Bill de Blasio; Jeff Weaver; Anthony Weiner; Shira Center; Dana Milbank
TODD PIRO, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Todd Piro with the hour`s top stories.
Bernie Sanders continuing his winning streak claiming victory in last night`s Wyoming caucus. NBC news projecting he beat Hillary Clinton by double digits. Today both candidates are in New York campaigning ahead of the April 19th primary.
On the Republican side Ted Cruz swept the Colorado conventions. He has won 34 out of Colorado`s 37 delegates so far. "Politics Nation with Al Sharpton" starts now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New York, New York.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s great to be home. This is home.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is so great to be in New York.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s fantastic. I love New York.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The media capital of the world becomes the center of politics. And the Democrats take off the gloves.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t believe that she is qualified.
CLINTON: Well, it is kind of a silly thing to say.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio and Bernie Sanders` campaign manager weigh in.
Plus the GOP contest and the battle over New York values.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The values of liberal Democratic politicians like Andrew Cuomo, like Anthony Weiner, like Eliot Spitzer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A response to Ted Cruz from former congressman Anthony Weiner.
And bending toward justice. A new series from "Politics Nation."
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Making sure our criminal justice system doesn`t just function as a pipeline for underfunded schools to overcrowded jails.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From Rockefeller center in New York, this is "Politics Nation" with Al Sharpton.
REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Good morning. I`m Al Sharpton.
For the first time in decades, New York`s presidential primaries could have a major impact for all the campaigns. We start with the Democrats. Two candidates, both with New York connections, fighting for every vote. At stake, 291 delegates, and momentum. It might be the pressure of the moment that led to these attacks between Clinton and Sanders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: He has a relatively new democrat. And, in fact, I`m not even sure he is one.
What he has been saying about the core issue in his whole campaign doesn`t seem to be rooted in an understanding of either the law, or the practical ways you get something done.
SANDERS: I don`t think you are qualified if you have voted for the disastrous war in Iraq.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: These are attacks we hadn`t seen on the Democratic side so far. Some in the party worried it could damage both candidates, and by the end of the week, the tone appeared to soften somewhat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think he`s qualified to be president?
CLINTON: Well here`s what I believe. I believe that voters will be looking at both of us. But I will take Bernie Sanders over Donald Trump or Ted Cruz any time.
SANDERS: Here`s the truth, I`ve known Hillary Clinton for 25 years. I respect Hillary Clinton. We were colleagues in the Senate. And on her worst day she will be -- she would be an infinitely better president than either of the Republican candidates.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She`s qualified?
SANDERS: Of course.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The questions now, how much can Sanders chip in to Clinton`s double digit lead in New York? And did the punches thrown back and forth bruise either campaign?
Joining me now is New York City mayor Bill de Blasio who has endorsed Hillary Clinton.
Mayor, good morning.
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK: Good morning, Rev., how you doing?
SHARPTON: Very well. Let me ask you, this week we saw back and forward with Secretary Clinton and Bernie Sanders over who`s qualified to be president and all. Does this kind of back and forward, does this hurt if your candidate, Mrs. Clinton, is successful, does this hurt her being able to bring some of the Sanders voters in?
DE BLASIO: We need unity to do that. We need respect for both candidates, and their many, many supporters. I think there`s plenty of examples here of the Democrats rising above and getting back to the issues.
SHARPTON: What does Mrs. Clinton have to say to those that are progressive, that are concerned about economic issues, to say I`m the person in the New York primary you need to go to, rather than senator Sanders, who`s clearly led on this conversation? What does Mrs. Clinton have to say before -- the 19th, to win those kinds of voters?
DE BLASIO: Well, it`s going on now in this country is something much bigger than just this one election. And we progressives are going to have to sustain and build that energy to fight income inequality.
When it cops to the April 19th primary, this is my message to my fellow progressives. Look at Hillary Clinton`s platform. The thing we should judge everyone by. Look at her platform. It includes raising taxes on the wealthy, it includes raising wages and benefits. It includes some of the things that would be most fundamental to families all over this country, like universal pre-k for all. She can get us the Wall Street reforms that we need. By the way, Paul Krugman has said her plan to rein in Wall Street excesses is stronger and more specific and more viable than Sanders` plan.
So I would say to progressives, look at the platform, and then think about who could put the platform best into action. A lot to respect about Bernie Sanders. A lot I appreciate about him. But I think Hillary is the person who can get that platform achieved.
SHARPTON: You also ran on bringing a change in police/community relations. You kept a promise of bringing down stop and frisk down but at the same time crime going down. Both senator Sanders secretary Clinton are speaking that at National Action Network`s convention this week.
What should they be saying to those that are concerned about criminal justice and police reform? You ran and won on that. They both supported the omnibus crime bill that many of us had a problem with in the `90s and even now they both have not been as clear on this. But Mrs. Clinton has got the overwhelming majority of the black vote. What should they be saying to people that have concerns in this area.
DE BLASIO: Look a lot of mistakes were made in the past. There`s no two ways about it we have to aggressively change our approach to criminal justice all over the country. We have to end the era of mass incarceration. This is something where the black lives movement has been absolutely right.
You know, stops were 700,000 in this city in 2011, 25,000 last year. It`s changed so fundamentally but at the same time crime has gone down. The first quarter of this year in New York City, the fewest shootings and the fewest murders of the first quarter of any year in history. So we have proven that you can improve the relationship between police and community, create that bond, and reduce crime. We have got to do that all over the country.
Hillary Clinton wants body cameras for all police forces in the country. She wants to move towards more use of alternatives to incarceration and diversion programs for low-level offenders, nonviolent offenders. She believes fundamentally in going to some of the root causes. One of the things that`s happening is a bigger movement is taking hold in America.
So again, I think it is right to choose the right candidate. I believe that`s Hillary Clinton. But all of us who believe in change have to keep building the movements to keep candidates focused on following through on those commitments.
SHARPTON: All right. Last question I have to ask you, what do you make of the rhetoric by Ted Cruz about quote "New York values?"
DE BLASIO: I think it is cynical, opportunistic and it was divisive, and see-through. Trump is one of the few moments, Rev., I`ve actually felt some sympathy for Trump. He responded very powerfully talking about 9/11, talking about what New York went through and our powerful resilience as a people here in New York. And, you know, Ted Cruz is going to ultimately pay for being disrespectful to the people of New York.
SHARPTON: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Have a great Sunday.
DE BLASIO: Thank you, Rev.
SHARPTON: Joining me now, Jeff Weaver, campaign manager for Bernie Sanders. Thank you for being here.
JEFF WEAVER, BERNIE SANDERS`S CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Thank you. My pleasure.
SHARPTON: Now that the tones are settling down a little, how does senator Sanders intent to try and close this over ten-point gap between himself and senator or Secretary Clinton in New York?
WEAVER: Well, it`s going to be like many other states. You know, we frequently go into states where we are substantially behind. In Michigan ten days out from the race we were more than 20 points from behind. And how we close that gap is we have senator Sanders going around talking to voters, articulating his message of dealing with a rigged economy, and a corrupt campaign finance system, and that really moves lots of voters in the final days of election we find.
SHARPTON: You have said that you expect that there would be an open convention on the Democratic side. How are you proposing for that?
WEAVER: Well, we have a team --
SHARPTON: I`m quoting you correctly, right?
WEAVER: You absolutely are.
SHARPTON: So you`re On the Record that you think it will be an open convention?
WEAVER: I do. Because no one`s going to arrive at the convention with the requisite number of pledged delegates in order to secure the nomination.
WEAVER: So the superdelegates don`t vote until once the convention starts. So we arrive at the convention, nobody will have the votes locked up to win. So one of the ways we`re preparing for that is I think articulating the reasons why senator Sanders is a much stronger general election candidate than Secretary Clinton. In terms of the polls that we have seen. Consistently now for really a couple months. Showing him beating the Republicans by much larger margins than she does. In fact she loses to some of --
SHARPTON: So, is this an argument you`re going to make to superdelegates?
WEAVER: Absolutely. Absolutely it`s an argument we`re going to make to superdelegates.
You know, he is very, very strong with independent voters which Democrats need in order to put together the coalition that they`re going to need to win not just the presidency but up and down the ballot.
SHARPTON: You know, Jeff, Bill and Hillary Clinton both took heat for many activists about the omnibus crime bill in the early `90s. I opposed it then. Still have my -- I`m still against it. And, but senator Sanders voted for it, as well. How do you deal with this issue, and how do the fact both of them voted for it, one doesn`t cancel out the other but how do they deal with the problem of the criminal justice reform? And the senator making that appeal, particularly African-American voters? He`s speaking at our convention this week and other conventions coming forward. How does he make that appeal?
WEAVER: Well let`s talk about the crime bill for a second. 1994 crime bill, Bernie Sanders did vote for it, you`re right. But he voted for it because it had the violence against women act in it and a ban on semiautomatic assault weapons, something that he had long --
SHARPTON: But the results caused mass incarceration of blacks and had the death penalty in it.
WEAVER: And he voted for six different amendments to take the death penalty out of that bill, frankly.
SHARPTON: But he voted for the bill.
WEAVER: Well, at the end of the day there was a bill and he had to vote for it or against it, right? But he spoke on the floor against it about this -- in fact he suppose against mass incarceration and the use of incarceration as a solution for economic and social ills of the country which is clearly what was going on at the time as you well -- as you well know.
SHARPTON: Which is why we opposed the bill. Many of us in the civil rights community. But go ahead.
WEAVER: You know, throughout his career in the house, he had voted against mandatory minimums. And the death penalty repeatedly on various bills that went through the house. In terms of criminal justice, I think, you know -- let`s be clear. So he was voting for the bill but speaking against the sort of onerous provisions that I think you and I agree should not be there.
He was not running around articulating support for sort of racist pseudo- social science like super predators, right, which was something that was circulating at the time which of course has been debunked. It was, you know, obviously -- it was debunked then, right. So he has never had, you know, held those kinds of views which we heard articulated just recently --
SHARPTON: Let me ask you this, because I`m running out of time.
SHARPTON: We are hearing he`s going to make a visit to the pal`s conference in Rome.
SHARPTON: What will his message be?
WEAVER: Well, he is going to be speaking about a moral economy. How we create an economy that uplifts all people, all communities. As you know, multiple new wealth and income is going to the top in this country, wildly disparate levels of wealth and income inequality. And I think the message he`s going to deliver there, that he is been delighted to deliver his message about how we as a country and a world, really, create a more equal and fair distribution of wealth and income.
SHARPTON: All right. Jeff Weaver, thanks for your time.
WEAVER: Thank you. Happy to be here.
SHARPTON: All right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coming up, Republicans take a bite out of the big apple. Did Ted Cruz bite off more than he can chew?
Plus, Republican hypocrisy at its finest. The latest wrinkle in the Supreme Court fight is this week`s gotcha.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRUZ: Everyone understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal, or pro-abortion, or pro-gay marriage, focused around money and the media.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: That was Ted Cruz, criticizing so-called New York values. And he came to the state this week, trailing in the polls, ahead of next Tuesday`s critical primary. And still under fire for those comments. Cruz was even booed during an event in the Bronx. The New York tabloids, never known for holding back, took him to task including the front page of the "daily news." we`ll let you read it for yourself. At another event in the Bronx, Cruz tried to walk those comments back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRUZ: The people of New York know exactly what those values are. They`re the values of liberal democratic politicians, like Andrew Cuomo, like Anthony Weiner, like Eliot Spitzer, like Charlie Rangel. All of whom Donald Trump has supported, given tens of thousands of dollars throughout the years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Joining me now is one of the people you heard Ted Cruz mention, seven-term former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner. He also served six years on the city council.
Congressman, thanks for being here.
ANTHONY WEINER, FORMER NEW YORK CONGRESSMAN: My pleasure, thanks.
SHARPTON: How do you respond to Mr. Cruz`s comments of New York values?
WEINER: Well, New York has been a pejorative for the Republicans for a long time. I mean, he said it out loud. But we would hear it whispered behind closed doors in Congress all the time. Oh, you fancy New Yorkers, New York this, New York that.
There was always this dichotomy. They would love to come here to New York, raise money, they would always call us up and say hey, can you help us get tickets to Broadway. Can you get us a reservation at this restaurant? And then they would go back to Congress or go back to their states and talk badly about New York.
You know, we have thick skin. It doesn`t matter all that much. I mean, look. The fact of the matter is that the values of New York are not Ted Cruz`s values. He`s not wrong about that. And that we are a different kind of place than he`s used to representing. And this is a place, New York is the place on the campaign trail that most represents the United States of America, which is one of the reasons why Cruz isn`t going to do well here.
SHARPTON: Do Republicans know New Yorkers help to set a tone for national election?
WEINER: Yes, I mean, look. It`s a convenient thing. But we do the shorthand thing in politics all the time. We talk about the Hollywood values. I make fun of Texas from time to time. It doesn`t matter all that much in the language. But the fact is that Ted Cruz has waged in his entire political career, triangulating against communities like New York, communities of color, people of disparate incomes, people that have disabilities, even veterans.
The kind of communities that we have here in our diversity are the ones that have been targeted by Ted Cruz because he has seen political value in doing it. The question is can you run for president by triangulating against so many people and I don`t think you can.
SHARPTON: Congressman, you have said Trump`s campaign is doomed just based on his high negatives in polling. Tell me about that.
WEINER: Well, look, remember who`s voting up to now. It`s all we have to count. But it`s just the narrow right and the narrow left who participate in these primaries. The broad center of the country has not voted yet. I mean, if you add up all the actual human beings that have voted, it`s about 10 percent of the voting-age population. Now, it`s all we have. And in the primary season it`s all we have to talk about. But when you look at the numbers of people -- you cannot antagonize 100 percent of Hispanics and win in the United States of America. You cannot antagonize African- Americans by about 100 percent and hope to win. You cannot take women and say that 70 percent of them or more, I don`t want your vote, and expect to win. However, it is enough in today`s Republican Party to win you the nomination. That`s the dichotomy we have. That this party, which is really a minority in the things it stands for, is about to nominate someone who does represent his party. You got to give him credit for that. Donald Trump does represent the party.
SHARPTON: Well, he has mentioned you in an ad attacking Hillary Clinton. How do you respond to that?
WEINER: Well, Donald Trump`s a phony. I mean, he was a donor to me and supported single payer health care when it was convenient and I was talking about it.
SHARPTON: Now, he was a donor to you when you were a Democratic congressman.
SHARPTON: And he supported --
WEINER: And he supported me when I ran for mayor. I mean, he is a donor to me.
Look, the funny thing about the Trump phenomenon for those of us in New York is we know the foundation of his argument is bull. Successful businessman? Baloney. The guy hasn`t built anything in this town in forever. He puts his name on things. And he`s had more bankrupt businesses than successful businesses. If he would have taken the inheritance he got from Fred Trump, who actually did build buildings.
SHARPTON: Who was his father.
WEINER: Who was is his father. And put it in an IRA, he would have had more money than he has today. He says that he speaks straight. No, he doesn`t. He changes his position literally within a news cycle all the time. And he also says that he has this dyed in the wool conservative guy. He`s not. He`s whatever he needs to be.
Now, I honor the idea that he has taken those skills and been able to get this far with them. But, you know, he was a donor to me. And a donor to other people around here. And he says, that`s because I had to get along with everyone. Maybe that`s the case. But his singular thing is he talks how it is. He speaks how it is. And the fundamentals of it. I mean, look, how many times have you heard him say I`m not taking a dollar of money from anybody. Go to his Web site, the top of the page says donate. He has gotten about $2 million of donations.
SHARPTON: Quickly the ugliness this week on the democratic side with Secretary Clinton, senator Sanders. Does it hurt?
WEINER: I don`t think it does. I mean, at the end of the day we Democrats who support Hillary Clinton like myself, and I should point out my wife is the vice chair of the campaign. We like Bernie. If Bernie`s the nominee, we`re going to rally to him. Bernie voters polls say like Hillary. It`s not like the Republican problem where 70 percent of their party hates their front-runner. We`re going to do fine. I don`t think it helps anyone for anyone to say someone`s not qualified. Because I think made people nuts because Hillary is qualified. Bernie is qualified. Hillary would be the better candidate and the better president.
SHARPTON: Former New York congressman Anthony Weiner, thank you for being here.
WEINER: My pleasure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Up next, Mitch McConnell says Congress has been productive under his watch. Wait until you hear what`s on his list and what`s not.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: This has been an incredibly productive majority. The American people, even though they chose divided government by having a Democrat in the White House and a Republican house and Senate, were not saying they didn`t want us to do anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Incredibly productive. That`s how majority leader Mitch McConnell described the Senate just this past week. It`s a bold claim. Coming after years of GOP obstruction and amid the senator`s refusal to consider the president`s Supreme Court nominee. But senator McConnell says, just consider all the bills he`s been putting on the president`s desk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONNELL: We put the keystone pipeline on his desk. We put the repeal of Obamacare on his desk. We put defund of Planned Parenthood on his desk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: You catch that? Those are all items the senator knew that President Obama would veto which he did. In fact, look at this chart. It shows the number of bills passed by Congress. The current session could rival the historic do-nothing sessions of recent years. Though there`s still time left.
Meantime, senator McConnell continues to say, deny hearings for Judge Merrick Garland. Saying, he just wants to wait until after the election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONNELL: The far left is squarely behind President Obama`s campaign to deny the American people a say in this momentous decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Guess what? The American people had a say. Twice. When they elected Barack Obama president. And today 61 percent say Congress should vote on the nominee now, rather than wait. Nice try. But senator McConnell can add this to his list of accomplishments. We gotcha.
SHARPTON: For the Republican candidates, just like the Democrats, all eyes are on New York. Ted Cruz is trying to prevent Donald Trump from getting a clean sweep of the delegates. Trump, who lost Wisconsin, and is facing reports of turmoil in his campaign, has a lot at stake on April 19th.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: First of all, it`s great to be home. This is home. It`s great to be home. We love New York.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Can he regain his momentum and button up the Republican nomination?
Let`s bring in our panel. "Washington Post" columnist Dana Milbank, "Boston Globe" political editor Shira Center and former Bush/Cheney senior adviser and MSNBC contributor Robert Traynhan.
Let me start with you, Robert. Reports are infighting in the Trump campaign and that he is being outhustled for delegates. How much trouble is he in?
ROBERT TRAYNHAM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: He is in slight trouble. Look, at the end of the day, Ted Cruz, say whatever you want about his personality and whether or not he is well liked in the building behind me, it appears that the grassroots game, here, which is the delegate game, it seems like senator Cruz is actually winning that battle.
And look. I firmly believe that at the end of the day, Donald Trump is probably going to be voted on in the first ballot. I do think that. But remember, there`s also going to possibly be a second and third ballot and I think that`s where Cruz can really come in and do a check mate and if, in fact, Cruz does not win on a second or third ballot, that`s when I think you`ll see a dark horse candidate on the fourth ballot.
But look, at the end of the day, probably from a mathematical standpoint, Donald Trump will be in the lead in the delegate math, but those delegates are not bound to him on the second or third ballot. I think there`s going to be a mass exodus of those establishment delegates that Ted Cruz was masterfully able to put in Cleveland to be able to vote for him on a second or third ballot.
SHARPTON: Shira, I see you shaking your head, but Dana you don`t seem convinced.
DANA MILBANK, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: Well --
SHIRA CENTER, POLITICAL EDITOR, THE BOSTON GLOBE: I think --
SHARPTON: Go ahead.
MILBANK: Well, look, I`m not going to engage in the parlor game of whether Donald Trump can nail down the 1237 or whatever delegates it is, whether he can win on the first ballot or the second ballot. There`s no way really no know that right now. But what we`ve seen coming out of Wisconsin, and what we`ve seen previous to that is, it is very clear that not only a majority of Americans, but a majority of Republicans are saying they don`t want what Trump is selling.
Forty percent of Republicans in Wisconsin were saying if Trump is the nominee, they are either going to go with a third party. They are going to go with Hillary Clinton, or they are going to stay home. And if you see this across the country, Trump got 35 percent in Wisconsin, he has gotten 37 percent overall. He is never exceeded 49 percent. He`s never gotten a majority in any single state.
SHARPTON: Well, when you look at that, Shira, and the fact that seven in ten people now have an unfavorable view of him, including almost half Republicans, I mean, how do you make the argument if the convention is brokered that he can win?
CENTER: I don`t know if he can win a brokered convention. And, polls show that --
SHARPTON: But how does he even make the argument at the convention with these numbers that he can win a general election contest?
CENTER: I think he will say it, and he will believe it in his head. And I think if you take a look at the math, you`ll know better. I mean these poll numbers are the worst we have seen for potential nominee in this point in the game in modern history. These are really bad numbers for him.
But I think this is the problem with Donald Trump running as an outsider and repeatedly bashing and insulting the party elite for so long. These party elites have connections to these delegates. These are party faithful, a whole lot of these delegates. And unless you know how to play that game, unless you`ve been playing that game for the past couple months or hired people who know how to play that game he is going to be in real trouble, maybe even before the first ballot.
SHARPTON: Robert, can Cruz peel away some of the support from Trump in New York? Because isn`t New York very important for Trump to win and win big?
TRAYNHAM: Absolutely. And to Dana`s point I think New York is probably the only state that Trump may get above 50 percent. Obviously New Yorkers know him very, very well. That is his home state. But look. At the end of the day, you know this better than anyone else, Rev., I mean, New York City, Manhattan, lower Manhattan, that is Trump territory. So he probably will sweep the clock there.
But, in rural areas of the state, upstate, whether it be Albany or Buffalo or so forth, that`s where Cruz can play a lot on the defense there, because those type of Republicans up there, I think, are much more socially conservative, are much more fiscally conservative, and probably not the same as a midtown or Manhattan Republican there. So, look, at the end --
SHARPTON: Shira, does the New York values statement hurt Cruz any?
CENTER: I think it hurts Cruz with a certain segment of people who weren`t going to vote for him anyway. I think most of Cruz`s supporters, however minimal compared to Trump, in New York state. I think they`re going to be upstate --
SHARPTON: Do you think, Shira, that he regrets making the remark?
CENTER: I think his bank account, his campaign bank account probably regrets making that remark. Because New York is a place where Republicans, Democrats, fund raise a whole lot, and as we saw --
SHARPTON: He was --
CENTER: -- it made an impact.
SHARPTON: Trying to raise money the other day according to "The New York Times."
Dana, where does Kasich fit in all of this?
MILBANK: Well, that`s an important piece here, because, look, New York is not fertile ground for Ted Cruz, because he`s so far to the right. So Donald Trump benefits in that Ted Cruz is the main opponent here. And I think you will see and you`re beginning to see a little bit of a movement towards John Kasich. I don`t think anybody thinks he would -- he could actually win or be the nominee. But New York Republicans are not Ted Cruz Texas Republicans, far to the right. They are much more moderate Republicans.
SHARPTON: Robert, let me ask you this. Paul Ryan released new video that is like a campaign, really, but he says he won`t be the GOP nominee. What do you make of this?
TRAYNHAM: Well, you know, remember he didn`t want to be speaker. His dream job was to be ways and means chairman. And obviously he got drafted into that. But I also remind you most people don`t realize this because it didn`t get a lot of press when the whole KKK stuff was coming out from the Donald Trump campaign a couple of weeks ago, speaker Ryan had a press conference and pushed back very strongly about this. And even when speaker Ryan was, was, was just a lone house member he has been very consistent about the end of politics of hate and so forth.
So you know, obviously he`s the speaker now, so more people are paying attention to that. But this is very consistent coming from Paul Ryan. He really does believe in this stuff. He really does say these things and believes these things. Now granted now that he is speaker, it is an elevated platform. I honestly do not think he wants to be in this fight. But look, the reality is, is that he is going to be the convention chairman. He is going to oversee the wools on this. A lot of establishment conservatives do like him. But, also a lot of outside Republicans like him, as well. And that`s what I think on the fourth ballot he very well could be the dark horse in this.
SHARPTON: Shira, do you think that it could go four ballots and Paul Ryan might change his mind like he did for speaker?
CENTER: I -- you know, I`m many things. I am not a mind reader. I honestly don`t know. He was so adamant against becoming speaker of the house. Robert just pointed out and then he did it. This is a whole different ball game. I mean, going from ways and means chair to speaker of the house in terms of lifestyle and disrupting a family, yes it`s a higher step up. Yes it`s a bigger platform. But running for president and doing that when you`re young like Paul Ryan and have an entire political future ahead of you, I mean it`s a little different if he were to go back on that and go for it. That said, he wants to see his party succeed and if he thinks he`s the only way to bridge this gap in the Republican Party between the outsiders and the insiders, you could see him eventually coming to terms with it.
SHARPTON: Hold right there just a minute, Dana. We`ll come right back. Everybody stay with me. More ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next, the Dem race turns ugly. The candidates pull back. But is the damage already done?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: You may have heard senator Sanders say I`m unqualified to be president. Well, seriously - seriously, I have been called a lot of things. Over the years, but unqualified has not been one of them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Hillary Clinton referring to comments Bernie Sanders made about her. Late in the week, Sanders softened and said Clinton is qualified. But going forward is the damage already done to the candidates, and to a party hoping to keep the White House in 2016.
Let`s bring back our panel, Dana Milbank, Shira Center and Robert Trayhnam.
Dana, how much damage was done with this and where does this leave the party and the candidates that now began bickering when they had so far avoided things like this?
MILBANK: You know, look, Reverend, maybe I`m an outlier on this, but I would say there`s been no damage done here. This is what`s supposed to happen in a political campaign. They`re really not, you know, and they`re discussing each other`s qualifications. But this isn`t negative, nasty personal politics. Consider the Republicans were in their campaign talking about the size of their genitals.
This is not the sort of thing that`s going on on the Democratic side. They`re having perfectly legitimate debates about policy, about who is beholden to whom. Look, it seems very clear that Hillary Clinton is going to be the nominee, barring some completely unforeseen thing that`s occurring here. And it`s very clear that Democratic voters, you know, 70, 80 percent are going to be happy with a nominee, whoever it is. Although it`s almost certainly to --
SHARPTON: All right. But Shira, the fact is that they have been getting a little more contentious lately. In fact, President Obama made a statement that kind of warned them to be careful here. Let me show you this. It didn`t get a lot of play.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The thing that the Democrats have to guard against is going in the direction that the Republicans are much further along on. And that is this sense of we are just going to get our way, and if we don`t, then we`ll cannibalize our own until finally we stake out positions that are so extreme that they alienate the broad Republican lick.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Is that a little warning from the current occupant of the White House that they ought to heed?
CENTER: I think that they -- I still don`t think the damage that`s been done so far, and it could escalate, it could go somewhere. I`m with Dana. I think the damage so far is minimal at best, you know. They may listen to the president on this. You may, as you said, Bernie Sanders came back and said no, she is qualified. But still, if you`re talking about each other`s qualifications you`re still talking about each other`s records as opposed to the personal attacks we`ve seen Republicans do against each other and even each other`s wives. This is like two different ball games.
SHARPTON: Let`s turn to New York for a minute. How much can Sanders close the gap, Robert, in your looking at it from the other party? How do you think he closes the gap in New York?
TRAYNHAM: I don`t think he closes it very strongly. I mean, look, again going back to the Donald Trump thing, I mean, this is Hillary Clinton`s home turf or adopted home turf, rather. But if I can go back for a second, Rev., because I think it`s important. I actually think that Bernie Sanders/Hillary Clinton race makes Secretary Clinton a stronger candidate. I mean let`s be honest about it, yes, she is the most qualified person probably to run for the presidency but she`s not the best candidate. And so having Bernie Sanders in this race I actually think makes her a much, much stronger candidate going into the general election.
So I think this is actually a good kind of exercise for her, if you will. But I think she`s got to be very, very careful about this alienating the Sanders base. Because say whatever you want about Bernie Sanders, the phenomenon that he is, he has got a significant following behind him, and you want those people energized going into the fall. So the question becomes is if, in fact, Hillary Clinton becomes the nominee, which is most likely, if, in fact, she alienates these hard-working college graduates that are giving Bernie Sanders $25 a pop, if they don`t feel energized going into the fall, the Republicans could very well slip in there, especially if it`s Paul Ryan.
SHARPTON: Now, Dana, the president, former President Clinton got into it with some activists that I talked about earlier in this program. Around the omnibus crime bill. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t know how you would characterize the gang leaders who got 13-year-old kids hopped up on crack, and sent them out onto the street to murder African-American children. Maybe you thought they were good citizens. She didn`t. She didn`t. You are defending the people who killed the lives you say matter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, he later Friday somewhat apologized, said he almost wanted to apologize. I imagine because of the way he did it, and that has been a controversy. Then on the other side, you had Bernie Sanders with headlines about his positions on guns. How much will this impact either one of them, the fact that Sanders has been hit by tabloids in New York, or that he supports not having victims of gun violence, being able to sue manufacturers, and sellers, and by the way that president Clinton talked to activists, raising the point about the 94 omnibus crime bill.
MILBANK: Well, it will have some impact I suspect both of the issues you raised will be marginal. Bill Clinton has frequently been off message and unhelpful here. And he was again in a sense that, look, Hillary Clinton has already said that crime bill was a mistake, and I suspect the better argument was not to go back and defend it but to say that was an awfully long time ago. Things were different than we`re in a different place right now. So I suspect he wasn`t helpful overall. That will certainly be countered by the gun issue which Sanders hasn`t entirely shaken.
But we have to remember, the larger issue overall is, it`s not just that Bernie Sanders needs to narrowly beat Hillary Clinton. He needs to win 67 percent of the delegates from here on out to claim this nomination, and pretty much no matter what happens, that`s not going to be what happens.
SHARPTON: I`ve got to go. I`m out of time, and I must call everyone and say that Robert said on my show to Hillary Clinton was the most qualified candidate for president.
Dana Milbank, Shira Center and Robert Trayhnam, thank you for your time.
MILBANK: Thanks, Rev.
CENTER: Thank you.
TRAYNHAM: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Still ahead, teens acting as judge and jury for their peers. It`s the premiere of our new series "Bending toward Justice."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We shall overcome. I believe it because somehow the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Today, we`re launching a new politics nation series "Bending toward Justice." Spotlighting people and communities that are making a difference.
We begin in my old neighborhood, Brownsville, Brooklyn. It`s one of New York`s poorest areas, and has one of the highest crime rates. But some residents are finding answers including a group of teenagers taking strides to keep their peers out of trouble, and in school. "Politics Nation" producer Allison Lee went to Brownsville for a closer look.
OBAMA: We want to ensure that we break this school-to-prison pipeline.
Disrupting the pipeline.
The pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails.
ALLISON LEE, PRODUCER, POLITICS NATION (voice-over): The schools-to-prison pipeline. It starts with harsh policies like suspension or expulsion for kids who are disruptive or cut class.
Over the last few decades, suspensions have gone up dramatically and the majority of those are children of color. High schools in New York`s Brownsville neighborhood had the lowest graduation rates in the city. And one in 12 kids there will wind up in jail or prison. But some are looking to change that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The issue before the court, grand theft larceny.
LEE: At the Brownsville community justice center teens who run into trouble with the law have a chance to get back on track. It`s a growing trend called restorative justice. In Brownsville, teens serve as judge and jury on cases dealing with everything from fights and vandalism to drug use and theft.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please raise your right hand and repeat off me.
LEE: Kids who get in trouble often end up here, in family court, headed for detention centers. But in Brownsville these low level crimes are referred to youth court by agencies like the New York police department.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you swear to tell the truth?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.
LEE: This 13-year-old boy stole $500 from his mom, who gave us permission to film his case. Instead of a traditional criminal case, Terrance`s mom has opted for youth court.
FELICE CARTER, TERRENCE`S MOTHER: He tried to clean me out. He tried to take everything I had. So he had to learn a lesson.
ELISA BETH BERNARD, COORDINATOR, BROWNSVILLE YOUTH COURT: If they decide that they don`t want to cooperate, they have to do a real hearing with a real judge.
LEE: Being suspended just once increases a student`s chance of dropping out entirely.
CARTER: He needs to be around people that can show him that he can be a leader.
LEE: Instead of a judge, this teen will face his peers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He shouldn`t be nervous. It`s all teenagers and kids.
MIKALA GREENIDGE, BROWNSVILLE COURT: We want them to feel comfortable enough to talk to us so we can help them. Do you regret this offense?
LEE: Instead of sentencing, he`ll get community service and access to help.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that an apology?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
BRIYANA HENRY, BROWNSVILLE YOUTH COURT: Kids that come through this program, they`re not like bad kids. They`re just kids who have that guidance or that leadership to know that what was right and what was wrong.
OBAMA: I firmly believe that every child does serves the same chances that I had.
LEE: A chance to get back on track.
CARTER: It looks like it`s a good program for kids. Maybe this is the outlet that they need. I`m hoping this is it for Terrance.
SHARPTON: We wish all the best for Terrance and the youth that go through this program. This is an important step towards rethinking our criminal justice system. I grew up in that neighborhood. I can tell you that people giving you a chance, and trying to make you see the leadership in you, works because it may be the only people that believed in you and can push you forward.
That does it for me. Thanks for watching.
And a quick note, my group National Action Network is holding our annual convention this week from Tuesday through Saturday here in New York. Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will be speaking. For more information, go to the Web site nationalactionnetwork.net.
I`ll see you back here next Sunday.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END