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PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton, Transcript 4/17/2016

Guests: Rick Tyler; Michael Steele; Chirlane McCray; Matt Welch; Tara Dowdell; Joan Walsh

Show: POLITICS NATION Date: April 17, 2016 Guest: Rick Tyler; Michael Steele; Chirlane McCray; Matt Welch; Tara Dowdell; Joan Walsh


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump`s war with his own party.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s a rigged system, folks. The Republican system is a rigged system.

REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: It gets distracting and really isn`t something that most people give a darn about.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will the bad blood cost him at the convention?

Also aftershocks from the Brooklyn brawl.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Sanders did call me unqualified. I have been called a lot of things in my life. That was a first.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could it change the outcome of the New York primary? And is there any hope for unity in the fall?

Also, why Bill Clinton`s legacy is a mixed bag for his wife.

And our gotcha on Donald Trump`s twisted version of New York values.

From Rockefeller center in New York, this is "politics nation with Al Sharpton."


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

It`s two days before the New York primary, and we start with Donald Trump waging war on the Republican national committee. He has gone after party leaders before, but not like this. After getting outmaneuvered in the delegate fight in Colorado and other states, Trump let loose.


TRUMP: It makes it impossible for a guy that wins to win. It`s a crooked system, folks. It`s a crooked system. It`s a rigged, disgusting, dirty system. It`s a dirty system. The Republican National Committee, they should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this kind of crap to happen.


SHARPTON: Following Trump`s tirade, the RNC released a pointed memo about the delegate rules in each state. Quote "each process is easy to understand for those willing to learn it. And the head of the RNC said the whole debate is a distraction.


PRIEBUS: Quite frankly, the complaining that goes on is something that I think probably distracts from what we really need to do. Which is to come together as Republicans.


SHARPTON: In a blistering article, Trump also went off Ted Cruz, writing quote "voter disenfranchisement is the Cruz strategy. My campaign strategy is to win with the votes." Ted Cruz`s campaign strategy is to win despite them. Cruz accused Trump of sour grapes.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You may have noticed Donald is very unhappy about this. He has been yelling and screaming and stomping his foot, and an awful lot of whining. And the simple reality is, any time the people vote against Donald, he screams the voters are stealing the election.


SHARPTON: Behind these tensions, the delegate count and the possibility that no Republican will clinch the nomination before the convention, leading to the kind of fight we haven`t seen in decades.

Joining me now, Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, and Rick Tyler, former national spokesman for the Ted Cruz campaign. Thank you both for being here.


SHARPTON: Michael, let me go to you first. Trump says the system is rigged. Crooked, and disgusting. How big of a problem does the RNC have on his hands?

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Well, I think it`s a fairly significant one, to the extent that people already feel that way about the system. So you have Ted Cruz and both Ted Cruz and Donald Trump articulating that in different ways. But Donald Trump has been the most explicit and has been able to put it in the lexicon of populism. Along with, you know, I`m going to build the wall and stuff like that. So, connecting the policy to the politics, if you will, has been a very effective effort by Donald Trump.

And this new conversation that he sparked around the process. I mean this is purely a process conversation, Rev, is one that a lot of people feel is regulated against him to begin with. And also, as to the reset opportunities that he`s looking for, Donald Trump that is, coming off his loss in Wisconsin. So this covers a multitude of wins for Donald, if you will.

SHARPTON: Now, Rick, is this effective? Is this working? In terms of being effective politically for Trump?

TYLER: I think it is working for the reasons that Michael just laid out, is that there`s a deep distrust of the establishment. People see the RNC as the establishment. The RNC is trying to defend itself. And in a sense is not doing so very effectively because people don`t trust the RNC. They could be doing everything exactly right, and people will still have doubt.

But look, this is not really about the RNC. This is about Donald Trump, who is laying the groundwork for a loss. I mean think about it. He is hundreds of delegates ahead. He is way out ahead, and yet he`s talking as if he lost. He is trying to lay the groundwork for if he were to lose in an open convention, which is fairly likely, that he can blame the system and he can call the whole process corrupt.

SHARPTON: Now, Michael, you were chair of the RNC. I mean, have you ever seen anything like this, the leading candidate, the front-runner, attacking the party? I mean, how does this not undermine the party in November whether it be Trump or whoever the nominee is?

STEELE: I have not seen that in my lifetime. It is largely unprecedented. Particularly to have it so public. There have always been spats internally between, you know, a leading candidate and the party. And you have heard and covered in the past, Reverend, on both sides where candidates are a little bit, you know, disjointed about, you know, the number of debates or something like this.

This is a whole different conversation now. And again, it feeds into the narrative that Rick just touched on about how upset the grassroots of our party is. They are ticked off. They have been ticked off for a long time. And so now, this fight that we`re seeing emerge, yes, I think there`s a little bit of what rick is saying there about sort of hedging against the future. And what happens on a second, third and fourth ballot at the convention.

But here`s the other side of this for a Ted Cruz, and this is the problem for him, which is why he should also be concerned about how this thing plays out, because all those delegates that he`s getting, you know, when they`re saying well he`s my third or fourth choice, he`s got to lock in and make sure that they`re there on that second and third ballot. And that again is also part of the process which a lot of supporters at the grassroots level are concerned about. Whether or not these two men are going to get a fair shake at the end. And a lot of folks think that`s doubtful.

SHARPTON: Now, Rick, you know, talking about dead Cruz, he told NBC`s Chuck Todd that this was about the GOP nomination fight is what I`m referring to is about being democratic. Listen to this.


CHUCK TODD, NBC ANCHOR: Who`s picking this Republican nominee? The delegates or the voters?

CRUZ: Both. But look, look, look, it`s a democratic process. It`s been in place from the very beginning. If we go to a contested convention, where nobody has a majority, it will be the delegates who were elected by the people who make the final decision, but they have been elected by the voters in the first place, and this is a battle to earn the support of the American voters across the country.


SHARPTON: Now, will this argument, Rick, convince voters who are supporters of Trump?

TYLER: It`s going to be -- look if you`re explaining did there`s a rule in politics, if you`re explaining you`re losing and it`s sort of difficult to explain. And the reason it is because normally we would have a nominee by now and then nobody cares what the rules are, and nobody cares what the delegates are. But the system is now going to be stress tested in a pretty acute way and people are going to try to look at the rules. They`re going to try to see things that no one saw there before. They are going to try to interpret it differently.

But what`s happening with Trump though is he`s really being outworked on the ground, because the Cruz team understands the rules, and these rules are set by the states, primarily. That`s where Cruz is winning. He`s winning in these states that all have different rules, Colorado has different rules than New York has different rules than California. And, he is mastering this process. And the Trump people are so far behind the 8 ball on this they can see it coming. They know that if they don`t get to 1238, the majority that`s required, and that is in the rules, suddenly Donald Trump wants to play black jack and 21 isn`t 21 anymore. And so he`s trying -- he`s he sees that if he doesn`t get the majority going in to Cleveland, the likelihood is that Cruz will win on a subsequent ballot, because he is locking up delegates who will vote for him on the second ballot.

SHARPTON: Now, Michael, 33 percent, 33 percent of GOP voters say Trump should run as an independent if he has the most delegates, but is denied the nomination. Is this a warning side to GOP delegates who see the convention as a chance to stop Trump?

STEELE: I think it is. I think that, you know, a lot of these delegates have a plan "a," "b," "c" and "d" going into this thin. And it`s unfortunate, I mean, that we`ve kind of come to this point, because I think regardless of how this thing plays itself out, it`s going to be a little bit tricky, if not somewhat difficult before the RNC, the nominee, and who is ever left standing, Kasich and Cruz or Kasich and Trump or whomever, to sort of come together in a way that everybody`s talking about right now, Reverend.

I think it`s going to be very hard to do particularly when the spitfire in the belly of the delegates is going to be, as you just noted, a third of them saying we`re ready to take this outside of the convention and continue the battle in November in independent fashion. That`s not good for the party. It`s not healthy for the system. And it`s something I think the RNC is very, very concerned about.

SHARPTON: Michael Steele and Rick Tyler. Thank you both for your time.

TYLER: Thanks, Rev.

STEELE: Thank you, Rev.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coming up, the Democrats, can the party unify after the brawl in Brooklyn?

And later, ahead of the New York primary, a deep dive into Donald Trump`s history with the big apple.


SHARPTON: Two days out from the New York primary, and the Democratic race for president is more tense than ever. This week both candidates spoke at the convention of my group, the national action network. They talked specifics about their policies and goals starting with criminal justice reform.


CLINTON: As your president, I`ll work with you to lead a national effort for end-to-end reform in our criminal justice system.

SANDERS: What we have got to do is to demilitarize local police departments. Police departments should not look like occupying armies. This is not Iraq. We`re not invading a community.


SHARPTON: They also took the opportunity to highlight their differences.


SANDERS: We`re going to raise the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour. Not everybody agreed with me. My opponent did not think that was right. Still doesn`t.

CLINTON: Thirty three thousand people a year killed by guns in America, every year. Now my opponent will be speaking to you tomorrow, and I don`t see this the same way, but I think this is a national emergency.


SHARPTON: And both attacked the Republican front-runner.


CLINTON: When the front-runner for the Republican nomination was asked in a national television interview to disallow David Duke and other white supremacists supporting his campaign, he played coy.

SANDERS: And I believe, along with many other people, if you want to beat Donald Trump you`re looking at the strongest democratic candidate to do that.


SHARPTON: But when they met in Brooklyn for their ninth debate the gloves came off.


CLINTON: I stood up against the behaviors of the banks when I was a senator. I called them out.

SANDERS: Oh, my goodness. They must have been really crushed by this.

CLINTON: Look, I -- I supported the crime bill. I`m sorry for the consequences that were unintended.

SANDERS: It was a racist term and everybody knew it was a racist term.


SHARPTON: Joining me now is New York City first lady, and Hillary Clinton supporter Chirlane McCray.

First, let me go and ask you, first lady, are you surprised by how tense the Democratic race has become?

CHIRLANE MCCRAY, FIRST LADY, NEW YORK CITY: No, I`m not at all surprise. I think that Bernie`s getting a little desperate. He is feeling the burn. Hillary has a commanding lead with 2.5 million more popular votes, and more states, and more delegates, more superdelegates, and so I think it`s getting a little tense for that reason.

SHARPTON: So you think that when it got a little feisty at the debate the other night, it`s more senator Sanders getting, as you say, desperate?

MCCRAY: That`s right. That`s right.

SHARPTON: Now let me ask you this, if Clinton is the eventual nominee, how do you get some of the Sanders supporters on board?

MCCRAY: Well, Bernie said himself that he would support Hillary. And I am sure that the voters, when they look at what the choices are between Hillary, and Trump, or Hillary and Cruz, that they`re going to -- they`re going to choose Hillary.

SHARPTON: Now, one of the points of contention has been Secretary Clinton`s support of the crime bill and she`s apologized for it. She apologized again at the debate about its unfortunate impact, as she put it. Do you think that will be enough?

MCCRAY: I do, because all of her actions since then have just shown her commitment to criminal justice reform. I mean her two terms as a senator, fighting against racial profiling, and ending mass incarceration, it`s actually what her first major policy speech was about during this campaign. Was about ending mass incarceration, and criminal justice reform. She`s done so much, and also in terms of disparities in sentencing between crack and powder cocaine. She`s got a record, and once folks take a look at it, I think that they`ll realize that she`s got the heart and the mind to do this work.

Now, Secretary Clinton is also facing criticism over large donors. Only 19 percent of Clinton donors give less than $200. Do you think that that will mean anything to voters? And does that really have a major impact on her policies, and her positions?

MCCRAY: No. I think that people realize that this is the system we have. And it needs major reform, but it`s very difficult to run for president, or any office, for that matter, without -- without these kinds of donations.

Bernie did accuse Hillary of being compromised, because of her speeches to Wall Street, and when she asked him, you know, well can you give me one vote? Can you show me one vote that shows that I have been compromised? And he was unable to give her even one sign that that was the case. She`s -- everyone has to take these dollars. But when people have principles and they stand firm and true to them it doesn`t really matter where it comes from.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you this. I have to ask this as the first lady of New York, what do you think about all this talk about New York values?

MCCRAY: I`m very proud of New York values. I`m really so happy that there`s all this campaigning and debating going on in New York and that we`re getting so much attention, because it`s important that the focus be on a state with so much diversity where they ask the hard questions, and people have to respond.

SHARPTON: All right. The first lady of New York city, and a supporter of secretary Hillary Clinton, Chirlane McCray. Thank you so much for being with us this morning.

MCCRAY: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next, Donald Trump talks about New York values. And walks straight in to our gotcha.


SHARPTON: For days now Donald Trump has been going after Ted Cruz for the way he attacked quote "New York values" a few weeks ago.


TRUMP: When this character said with disdain and actually with hatred, and if you watch the way he said it during the debate, he knocked pretty viciously New York values, we have the greatest values, nobody has values like us.


SHARPTON: Trump is even running ads on the radio about it.


TRUMP: I love New York. Everybody knows that. When it comes to New York values, other candidates do not like us.


SHARPTON: But it makes you wonder exactly what values Trump is talking about? New York values like trying to bulldoze a widow`s home to make way for a limousine parking lot. Values of being sued by the justice department for housing discrimination. Values like plastering your name all over town whether residents like it or not. And finally, New York values like eating pizza with a fork, a fork. I don`t eat pizza anymore, but when I did, I sure didn`t use a knife and fork. No real New Yorker does that. The truth is, Trump`s New York values aren`t the ones shared by most of the millions of people who live here. So, nice try. But as folks in New York might say, forget about it because we got you.



TRUMP: I guess number three in the polls in New York and many of the other states, and nobody even knows who number two is. They don`t know. To sum up, so important that on Tuesday you vote.


SHARPTON: Right now, Donald Trump has a big lead with Republicans across New York State. He`s up double digits in most polls. But here in New York City, many people take a dim view of Mr. Trump. After all, a lot of the country knows him as the birther king, or the host of "the apprentice." here in the big apple, folks have been watching Trump make headlines for decades.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump was born in queens. Went to a military school. Then to work in real estate with his dad. He made the front page of "The New York Times" when he was just 27 years old, sued over housing discrimination. Three years later the times portrayed him as a Robert Redford type who liked cadillacs and models. Soon Trump was on national TV.

TRUMP: And I really am not looking to make tremendous amounts of money. I`m looking to enjoy my life and if that happens to go with it, that`s fabulous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Soon he was a New York staple. A fixture in the local press. Enjoying the New York spotlight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You walk down the street sometimes, people will touch you just for the good luck.

TRUMP: I`ve never figured that out. I`ve never really understood it. I really believe very strongly in luck. I also believe to a certain extent you can make your own luck.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And working on his national brand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You say in the book that you don`t do it for the money. Why don`t I believe that?

TRUMP: I don`t know. I don`t know what I do for the money. I do it for the thrill and the excitement and the creativity involved, perhaps, but I really don`t do it for the money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By 1990 the thrill was gone. He was facing bankruptcy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump had an awful week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He missed a $43 million payment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trumps creditors are all over him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And a messy divorce. But Trump clawed his way back and started moving toward an idea he was kicking around as far back as 1988.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have said that if you ran for president, you`d win?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I`d have a very good chance. I mean I like to win when I do something. I like to win. I like to do well. And I think I probably would have a pretty good chance.


SHARPTON: Donald Trump over the years. One question today, is he doing well in New York because of his hometown celebrity or because of who his opponents are?

Let`s bring in our panel, Joan Walsh, MSNBC political analyst and national affairs correspondent for the nation. Democratic strategist Tara Dowdell who on Friday appeared with other former contestants on "the Apprentice" to condemn Trump. And Matt Welch, editor in chief of Reason magazine.

Let me get right to it. Matt, groups in which a imagine or have an unfavorable view of Trump are independents, moderates, African-Americans, Hispanics, people over 40, people under 40, women, GOP women, conservatives. I mean, these are where the majority of those groups have an unfavorable view.

MATT WELCH, EDITOR IN CHIEF, REASON MAGAZINE: He has -- we`ve never seen unfavorable views this high of anyone. I mean if it wasn`t for Donald Trump we might be talking about historically high unfavorable views for Hillary Clinton. She`s not going to get within miles of his unfavorable views. And this is going to have an actual impact on this presidential race.

Right now is when the Republican or democrat, anyone is supposed to be consolidating their games. It`s supposed to be kind of over, coasting at this point. That`s not happening precisely because Republicans realize this isn`t going to go down outside of his core constituency. There`s a ton of Republicans, let alone people from every other group that you name, who are going to oppose Donald Trump. And that`s going to hurt him. And it might even hurt him in New York, in a way, even though he`s going to win the state in a big way, he might not win as many delegates as he thinks he`s going to.

SHARPTON: So Tara, is it that the opponents that he`s running against are so unattractive, or not connecting to New Yorkers? I mean, why is he ahead if he`s unfavorable in all of these categories?

TARA DOWDELL, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, his closest front-runner is Ted "New York values" Cruz. I mean so Ted Cruz is someone who is polarizing in his own right. I think one of the big issues with Donald Trump is he`s made Ted Cruz seem a little bit better which is bad, and not good.

But I think definitely he`s running against John Kasich who has not been able to make any traction within the Republican Party, particularly amongst the primary voters. And I would say generally in the Republican Party, I mean, Marco Rubio still has more popular votes and he`s not even in the race than John Kasich. And then you have Ted Cruz, who is, as polarizing as they come, and many in the Republican Party don`t like Ted Cruz. So that`s the competition.

SHARPTON: Then why was it so seemingly difficult? I started to say impossible, but difficult for the Republicans to come up with a mainstream candidate that could unite people against him? Why left with a Kasich or a Cruz, if they couldn`t reach the bar of bringing about -- of following or uniting the mainstream Republicans?

JOAN WALSH, THE NATION: It`s mystifying, really. I mean this was supposed to be the year they had 17 candidates. Some of them were high caliber. In 2012 we were told, well the problem was we had a bunch of jokes running for president. Newt Gingrich in 2016, we had a bunch of governors, we had senators, we had supposed libertarians, we had a real roster, a very diverse, including racially diverse roster. And still these are the three left standing.

And I think you know, Trump -- Matt makes a good point. It`s possible he doesn`t get over 50 percent. But I think he could get over 50 percent because I don`t think the party has quite known what to do with him. They seem to have seeded New York, in a lot of ways, to him.

And you`re right, Ted Cruz, New York values, I mean I don`t know if people saw footage from the GOP gala the other night, where the Republican guests are walking around ignoring Ted Cruz as he spoke. I mean that was --

SHARPTON: Taking selfies.

WALSH: But not with him.

SHARPTON: But, Matt, let me go back to you. You talked about, you brought up Mrs. Clinton. Let`s say in the general election, it ends up being Mr. Trump against Secretary Clinton, and the battle of who has the most negatives. But is it going to be nasty? Because if a radio interview this week, a radio host was talking to Trump about the bible. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Favorite bible verse or bible story that has informed your thinking or your character through life, sir?

TRUMP: Well, I think many. I mean, you know, when we get into the bible, I think many. So many, and some people look an eye for an eye. You can almost say that.


SHARPTON: An eye for an eye. I mean, is he telling us, aside from putting aside my biblical understanding of what several ways that could be taken, of why that stands out to him, but is he forecasting if he`s in the general election we`re going to see this eye for an eye combat kind of election?

WELCH: Absolutely. Keep in mind roger stone is lurking around his campaign at every -- and not only is he issuing kind of veiled threats to delegates in Cleveland, but Roger Stone wrote a book about the Clintons that I don`t recommend anyone necessarily read. But it makes some pretty provocative accusations. That`s what the campaign will be about. The moment Trump can pivot to the general, if he`s allowed to do it. I don`t think that he will.

And going to the 50/49 thing. Two of the three polls this week about New York had Trump at that number, 50 or 49. The difference between 50.1 percent in New York, and 49.9 percent in New York could be the difference of 35 delegates. Right? So it`s a significant amount and I think Ted Cruz has shown himself to be a very good delegate hunter. It will be interesting to see whether he can convert that to his advantage and take advantage of New York`s registration rules, which I think might hurt Donald Trump, because he`s attracted to independents and people outside of the party process, including his own children.

SHARPTON: How does the Democrats handle that? Well, first of all, Tara, is this -- if he wins New York big, and they go in to this nasty season --

DOWDELL: Aren`t we already in that?

SHARPTON: Well, nastier season, if it`s possible.

How does -- how is -- is it inevitable that he cannot be stopped at the convention in your opinion? Or is all of that out the window now, because Joan seemed to feel like they are ceding New York, are they ceding the nomination if he wins New York over 50 percent?

DOWDELL: I think they may be ceding New York. I do not believe they are ceding the nomination. I know that there are back room talks that are going on. And contrary to what Paul Ryan might have said, he was involved in some of those discussions. And so I know that there are efforts under way to utilize the party structure, the RNC rules, to ensure, what they hope to ensure, will -- a non-Trump -- a -- nomination I should say, excuse me.

SHARPTON: Joan, Tara and Matt stay with us. Lots more ahead. I`ll come to you first, though, Joan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coming up, back to the `90s. The legacy of bill Clinton`s presidency. And what it means for Hillary Clinton`s future.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Earlier this week, Bill Clinton made some very disturbing comments seeming to defend Secretary Clinton`s now infamous super-predator community. What are your thoughts about what he said, senator Sanders?

SANDERS: Unacceptable. I think we all know what that term meant.

CLINTON: I would never use that word again. It was used once.


SHARPTON: The debate about President Clinton`s 1994 crime bill. A bill that many blame for 20 years of mass incarcerations, has become a key part of the democratic race in 2016. It is not just the crime bill. It`s also Clinton`s so-called welfare-to-work bill. Which has impacted millions of the poorest Americans.


SANDERS: The scapegoat of the poorest people in America. All of the welfare recipients, all the welfare claims, remember that? I voted against that bill, spoke out against that bill.


SHARPTON: And also his financial law that removed key regulations, and may have opened the door to the banking crisis. Now, of course, President Clinton had major -- many major for that matter, many major achievements and helped create millions of jobs. But his record is more complicated now than it appeared when he left the White House. Going in to this race, most folks thought the big question would be how is Hillary Clinton going to handle the Obama legacy? Instead, is how she`s handling the legacy of her husband?

Let`s bring back our panel, Joan Walsh, Tara Dowdell, and Matt Welch.

Joan, I`m seeing that this legacy question with Clinton, some of us, I`m in complete disclosure, was against the crime bill very publicly.

WALSH: Right.

SHARPTON: And the welfare reform. But we didn`t have a lot of people with us at that time or at least not the majority even in the black community but now it`s become an issue. Is it going to be something that weighs down the candidacy of Hillary Clinton?

WALSH: I think it`s weighing it down, sure. I think that she, you know, did a good job and got out and said I would never use the term super- predator again. And so it was really disturbing to see her husband then go out and try to defend the use of the word. That was completely off message. He stepped on her message and I thought that was terrible.

But I also thought the other night at the debate she missed an opportunity to really, I`m going to say sound sincere, be sincere and sound sincere about the impact of that bill. Its intentions from the Democratic side were not bad. The consequences, she can say they were unintended, they were bad. And she still seems to have a hard time speaking -- speaking to the pain that people feel. And especially younger African-Americans who really just -- the whole bill looks so horrible, they can`t understand the thinking why anybody would have ever participated in it. They don`t care that the congressional black caucus mainly went for it. And they want to hear more reckoning. More authentic reckoning of what --

SHARPTON: I also, Tara, was waiting for her and for senator Sanders, who also had voted for the bill.


SHARPTON: Tell us, I was waiting they both spoke at National Action Network`s convention, and I was waiting for them to say yes it was bad, it might have been unintended but this is what I`m going to do now to heal the folks that are still in jail, deal with the families, and legislation going forward or this is the kind of attorney general. It seemed that they -- she was stuck and Sanders is almost trying to act like it didn`t happen. And he voted for it.

WALSH: Right.

DOWDELL: I think you`re absolutely right. We are all waiting to hear what`s going to be done to address the issues as they stand now. I think with respect to senator Sanders, I think one of the things that he wants to do, and he`s been pretty well-spoken on this is decriminalize drugs. And I think in particular marijuana, starting with marijuana. And honestly, many young people and I think beyond just young people, many people agree with that. And I think there`s a lot of -- and I think that`s an area where he can resonate with African-Americans, because what African-Americans are seeing now is that so many young African-Americans are in prison, have their lives destroyed over marijuana, and then you look at Colorado and people are becoming millionaires in Colorado for -- something that we`re languishing in jails for.

SHARPTON: Languishing right now.

DOWDELL: Languishing right now.

SHARPTON: But `90s, Matt, which is why it`s ironic that Mrs. Clinton has so far dominated the black vote everywhere. Even where he`s done better he`s nowhere another approached majority, even among young blacks.

WELCH: It has been an ongoing curiosity that I think Hillary Clinton hasn`t received more scrutiny about this. Bill Clinton`s statements were terrible in a couple of ways that are I think worth thinking about. One is that he says that Hillary Clinton was the first candidate in this presidential election to bring up criminal justice reform. That is actually a kind of offensive, compared to what Rand Paul has been talking about for a long time. Even though Ted Cruz since he`s switched on it and become kind of worthless on the issue. But he was talking about sentencing reform. And sentencing reform, keeps in mind, Hillary Clinton ran against Barack Obama`s sentencing reform in 2008. She`s a late comer to this issue. So she does have some reckoning there.

The other thing that Bill Clinton did is that he reminded us of the ugliness of the politics, I put more on him than I do on Hillary when he said to black lives matter protesters, oh, so you`re on the side of blacks killing blacks in the inner city. That is the kind of ugly, awful, politics that has created three, four decades of this war on crime. This war on crime has been a war on people. A war on due process. And it wasn`t just the crime bill. It was the effective death penalty and anti- terrorism act. Removing --

SHARPTON: That`s why a lot of us oppose it. It also was the death penalty and other things in that bill. But, Joan, the other bill, the welfare reform bill, which really put people off welfare, who couldn`t get jobs. I mean, I think that that has not gotten as much of attention, but that impacted generations in terms of where we are in terms of particularly in the black community and poorer communities, and many of us objected to that `96 bill.

WALSH: Well, and the booming economy, people -- it looked like a success for a-while. But then when the economy sputtered there`s a reason that we have a safety net. And you know, President Clinton and I think secretary Clinton would say they got a lot of money. They expanded the earned income tax credit, they did. They did try to build in a new safety net. But it didn`t go far enough. I`m kind of surprised the extent to which that question is not a big issue in this primary campaign between her and senator Sanders. How would you change the welfare reform bill and what is the safety net (INAUDIBLE)?

SHARPTON: Is it fair, though, Tara to blame her for her husband`s policies under his administration? Because, I`ve heard it come up this week, well, that`s sexist. She`s not responsible for her husband. Even though she supported it. Sanders supported the crime bill. Is it fair?

DOWDELL: I don`t think it`s fair to hold her accountable for decisions made by Bill Clinton. However on those decisions that were made by Bill Clinton where she actively supported them vocally, that`s where she has a problem. That`s where she has -- that`s the rub for her.

I think for senator Sanders, though, I mean, he has sort of -- I think the reason why he`s ignored in some ways the issue is because he did vote for the crime bill. I will say this, though. Both of them do have some criminal justice, I want to be clear, they do have criminal justice platforms.

SHARPTON: And been very vocal about it --

DOWDELL: I think they have --

SHARPTON: Act like it didn`t happen, that his vote didn`t happen. He is not ignored this issue.

WALSH: Right.

DOWDELL: But I do think they could be more vocal about the specifics of them. A lot of times they said go to my Web site, and even me as much as I love this stuff I have a full time job. So I think we do -- we want -- we look to these debates, we look to these opportunities when they speak for them to truly tell us the specifics. And some of the key points that will make our lives better.

SHARPTON: If it ends up a debate all the way to the convention, what`s going to happen there, matt? We keep looking at the Republican convention. If Sanders does well in New York, or better than expected, or even wins, or going on, could we have a contentious Democratic convention? I mean, it`s getting a little hostile.

WELCH: We all hope. I`m afraid Sanders has too big of a hurdle in New York with this voter registration thing. I think it would be a great and healthy debate particularly over the drug war which Hillary Clinton has been bad on her whole career and Sanders is great on in ways that didn`t get enough headlines I think this week. But I`m afraid that it`s not going to be --

SHARPTON: Because it`s a closed primary only Democrats can vote? Which is why I don`t understand why the Sanders folks didn`t do voter registration if you want a long-term movement.

WALSH: Right.

SHARPTON: Joan Walsh, Tara Dowdell and Matt Welch, thank you and enjoy the rest of your weekend.

WELCH: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Still to come, the week in social media. From the fight for equal pay to the real-time reaction to the Democratic candidates.


SHARPTON: Finally this morning I want to give a big shout-out to our fans and followers on social media. This past week, we hit a milestone, 400,000 likes on Facebook. That`s number two across all of MSNBC. Second only to Rachel Maddow. And if you`re not with us on social media, then you`re missing out on some great content. Like our Facebook live events this week. With immediate audience reactions to the speeches from Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was very granular as it relates to what she would do with regard to specific programs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bernie Sanders I believe him. He`s helped push the issue.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just don`t want another gray-haired old white male following Barack Obama. Let`s (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very, very big Bernie Sanders fan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A family in front of her administration would be -- I can say hey Hillary.


SHARPTON: And our social video exploring the gender pay gap for equal pay day.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want to end gender inequality.


Today the typical woman who works full time earns 79 cents for every dollar the typical man makes. And the gap is even wider for women of color.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The pay disparity between men and women is just too large.

OBAMA: Congress needs to pay the paycheck fairness act.

That`s the thing about America, we are never finished. We are a constant work in progress.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why should our women go to the Olympics, winning the gold, when they don`t get paid the gold?


SHARPTON: That`s only on social media, it`s not on TV. So there`s much more to politics nation than what you see here on Sunday mornings. To get in the conversation, like us on And follow us on twitter.

That does it for me. Thanks for watching. I`ll see you back here next Sunday.