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PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton, Transcript 5/8/2016

Guests: Amy Holmes; Liz Plank; Larry Wilmore

Show: POLITICS NATION Date: May 8, 2016 Guest: Amy Holmes; Liz Plank; Larry Wilmore


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Donald Trump snub.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: What a lot of Republicans want to see is that we have a standard bearer that bears our standards.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Party leaders sit out the election. Will Trump cost Republicans control of Congress?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is not entertainment. It is not a reality show.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ll talk to the democratic congresswoman trying to take down John McCain.

Also, Hillary Clinton`s reality check for Bernie Sanders.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am three million-plus vote as head of senator Sanders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And our exclusive sit-down with Larry Wilmore, his first on-camera interview since the n-word controversy.

LARRY WILMORE, COMEDIAN: It was at the point where I wanted to make a statement more than a joke.

REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: you made a statement.

WILMORE: I know, I know. And by the way, Reverend, I`m prepared to live with the consequences of it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why he said it and what it reveals about race and rhetoric in the age of Obama.

WILMORE: I don`t know if America`s ready for a white president. I really don`t know, Reverend al. I`m not sure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From Rockefeller center in New York City, this is "Politics Nation" with Al Sharpton.

SHARPTON: Good morning. I`m Al Sharpton. We start with five words I thought I`d never say, Donald Trump presumptive Republican nominee, is really happening. And the man currently in the White House says we must take it seriously.


OBAMA: This is not a reality show. This is a contest for the presidency of the United States.


SHARPTON: On the GOP side, party leaders are still trying to come to grips with it. Both presidents Bush are refusing to support Trump. And house speaker Paul Ryan won`t endorse Trump either. At least not yet.


RYAN: Just not ready to do that at this point. I`m not there right now. And I hope to, though. And I want to. But I think what is required is that we unify this party.


SHARPTON: But the latest national polling shows Trump trailing Hillary Clinton by double digits. And some Republicans worry he could cost them control of Congress. Even normally solid incumbents like John McCain are feeling the squeeze. He says he will support whoever the nominee is, even if it`s Trump.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I`m a proud Republican. I am a Ronald Reagan/Teddy Roosevelt Republican, and I support the Republican Party and the people the Republicans have chosen the nominee for the party. I think that makes sense.


SHARPTON: That`s what McCain said publicly this week. But here`s what he said at a private fund-raiser last month.


MCCAIN: If it is Donald Trump at the top of the ticket, here in Arizona, with over 30 percent of the vote being Hispanic vote, I have no doubt that this may be the race of my life.


SHARPTON: Joining me now is the lawmaker hoping to ensure this is the race of McCain`s life, Democratic congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, who is running against McCain for his Arizona Senate seat.

Congresswoman, let me ask you, is McCain`s support of Trump disqualify him from your point of view?

REP. ANN KIRKPATRICK (D), ARIZONA: Al, look. John McCain has made it very clear that he supports Donald Trump. Regardless of what he might say behind closed doors or say in the future, he said it over and over again. And look, what shocks me is the fact that he says that in spite of the hateful, racist, sexist things that Donald Trump has said. You know, it shows that he`s changed. After 33 years in Washington, he`s not a straight shooter. He doesn`t stand for something. He`s not a maverick. He`s changed.

SHARPTON: Now, let me go back since you brought up his past. Let me go back to 2010 and show you an ad that John McCain ran in the 2010 race.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drug and human smuggling, home invasions, murder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re outmanned. Of all the illegals in America, more than half come through Arizona.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve got the right plan?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The plan is perfect. You bring troops, state, county and local law enforcement together.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And complete the dang fence.


SHARPTON: Blaming immigrants for murder, for home invasion, vowing to quote "complete the fence." I mean, this is John McCain. Is that much difference that you see there between what he`s saying and what Trump is saying about building a wall?

KIRKPATRICK: You know, it`s another example of how John McCain has changed. Yes, he ran on build the dang fence, you know. And he says whatever, you know, he thinks people want to hear. He changes his position depending on who he is talking to. So he`s told dreamers that he`ll support the dream act and that he`s voted against it. He has changed. He is not a straight shooter. He is not a maverick. He doesn`t stand for anything.

SHARPTON: Now, you look at the breakdown of your state, 1.9 million Hispanics, 1.9 Hispanics, 30 percent of the population, it`s the 6th largest in the country. So there`s no wonder that McCain is saying in private this could be the fight of his life, or he could end up defeated if people come out and vote given the numbers that you see of the Hispanic population in your state and given that Donald Trump is at the head of that ticket.

KIRKPATRICK: Look, Arizona is very diverse. We have a very large minority population. I was born and raised on the White Mountain apache nation. I grew up speaking apache. You know, I saw firsthand how tough life is. I see that also in the Latino communities here in Arizona. And he`s out of touch. He`s changed. After 33 years in Washington, he`s out of touch with Arizona.

SHARPTON: Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, thank you for being here this morning.

KIRKPATRICK: Thank you so much.

SHARPTON: Joining me now, MSNBC contributor and "Washington Post" columnist E.J. Dionne and author of "why the right went wrong." Thanks for being here.

E.J. DIONNE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Good to be with you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: So E.J., Speaker Ryan won`t endorse yet. Both Bushes are staying out. Have you ever seen anything like this in politics?

DIONNE: I don`t think we have ever seen anything quite like this since Barry Goldwater back in 1964. And this may be worse because in Goldwater`s case, whether you liked him or hated him, you actually knew where he stood. And in Trump`s case, people aren`t even sure what he believes. He is kind of shifts around. He says some wild things. And I think you`re seeing a lot of Republicans who are either worried about his impact on their chances for reelection, John McCain is a good example. Some who have principle reasons for opposing him either because they are conservatives who aren`t sure if he`s a conservative or a lot of other Republicans who just think that what he says about women and Latinos and all sorts of other groups, plus John McCain, even Ted Cruz`s dad, that these are outrageous things to say.

And when you look at the way he treated Jeb Bush, it is not at all surprising that the two President Bushes are saying they`re not going to get in. And Paul Ryan is in a real box here because he is a leader of the party. He may well want to pick up the pieces if Trump gets clobbered and run in 2020. So he is expected to support the ticket, but he knows there`s a real downside and that Trump has contradicted a lot of the things he has said. And so he and the party have a big, big problem.

SHARPTON: Now, Reince Priebus, the chair of the GOP, was asked about Trump`s reaction to Paul Ryan on Friday. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump called you within minutes.

REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: You`re pretty good. I can`t lie. No, I wouldn`t lie anyway.


PRIEBUS: That`s right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. What was his mood?

PRIEBUS: You know, it wasn`t, like, furious or anything. It was like what do I -- you know, what do I need to do?


SHARPTON: I mean, Trump has created a literal split in the GOP. You have the speaker of the house on one side and the chair of the GOP on the other.

DIONNE: You don`t want on tape, by the way, the words "I couldn`t lie, oh, I wouldn`t lie anyway." That was a really interesting moment there. And you have got Priebus and Ryan are good friends from Wisconsin. And they`re on opposite sides. And I think one of the really striking things is how much trouble Donald Trump is having being a gracious winner.

This morning he put out this tweet, just bashing Ryan. Paul Ryan said, I inherited something special, the Republican Party, wrong. I didn`t inherit it. I won it by millions of voters. Now, what does that do? That puts Ryan in a terrible position because if he eventually goes along with Trump, it looks like he is responding to Trump`s pressure. He doesn`t want to look weak.

SHARPTON: They`re supposed to meet this Thursday. What do you think`s going to happen?

DIONNE: I think it`s going to be very -- I think Trump is not making it easy for Ryan to come out there and endorse him. And you know, interestingly, if Trump says some of the things Ryan needs to hear like he endorses Paul Ryan`s budgets that`s going to make him very unpopular with a lot of those working-class voters, voters in places like Michigan or Pennsylvania that he`s trying to win. So it is tricky for Ryan, but it`s also tricky for Trump if he really wants Ryan`s support.

SHARPTON: E.J. Dionne, thanks for being here.

DIONNE: It`s great to be with you. Thanks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next, the Democratic fight and Hillary Clinton`s two- front war. Taking fire from both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

And later, one on one with Larry Wilmore. His first on-camera interview since sparking controversy at the White House correspondents` dinner.



OBAMA: I`m going to let the voters cast their ballots and let the process play itself out. We`ll know soon enough. It`s not going to be that much longer.


SHARPTON: President Obama weighing in on the Democratic race for president. Hillary Clinton is now fighting a two-front war, against Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Clinton suggesting that it`s time for Sanders to help unify the party as she did in 2008.


CLINTON: I will do everything I can to unify the party. I did that when I pulled out in 2008, some of you remember. You know, I am three million- plus votes ahead of senator Sanders, right? When I was running against then-senator Obama, he and I were neck and neck in the popular vote. I withdrew. I endorsed him. I campaigned with him. I nominated him at the convention.


SHARPTON: But senator Sanders is vowing to fight on.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a path toward victory. I admit that it is a narrow path, but we think everybody in this country, people in California, in Kentucky and West Virginia have a right to determine who they want to see as president of the United States and what kind of agenda they want the Democratic Party to have. So we`re going to fight, Scott, for the very last vote that we can get.


SHARPTON: Few expected the GOP race to be wrapped up so early. Even fewer thought we`d see a contested convention on the left.

Joining me now is Liz Plank, senior correspondent for VOX, MSNBC political analyst Jonathan Alter, and conservative political analyst Amy Holmes. Thank you for being here.




SHARPTON: Jonathan, let me go to you first. Is Clinton right to compare what she did in 200 to what Sanders is doing now?

ALTER: Well, she is right. And, you know, the other thing that she didn`t mention but that I think is very important for voters to think about is that the stakes are really high this year, and the cost of having a divided Democratic Party is therefore very high. It`s not like the Republican candidate is Bob Dole or Gerald Ford. We`re talking about Donald Trump, you know? And so at this point Democrats need to take a good look in the mirror, look at the math, which is irrefutable. You know, facts are stubborn things. And the math -- Bernie Sanders is not going to be the nominee of the Democratic Party full stop. So it`s about time people recognize that and do what`s right for the party.

SHARPTON: Amy, Donald Trump is actually recycling Sanders`s attacks on Clinton. Here`s what he told Lester Holt this week.


LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Give me three words that you would use to define her that you will use as you press forward.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you know, bad judgment is a couple of words that we can use and that were used by Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders said she is not qualified to run for president because she suffers from bad judgment. And you think that`s true.


SHARPTON: But Amy, can`t Clinton recycle some of the attacks from some of the GOP candidates?


SHARPTON: That they made on Trump?

HOLMES: Absolutely. And look for her to do just that. That`s politics. It isn`t bean bag. Hillary Clinton can complain about Bernie Sanders staying in the race, but this is a campaign, not a coronation. And she has to fight for it. And really, and I don`t say this to be cynical or disingenuous, it`s good for Hillary because it`s good for her to hone her message, become a better candidate. If anything, Bernie Sanders`s candidacy -- remember, he was 40 points behind. Nobody ever thought he`d be this competitive, that it underscores what a weak candidate Hillary Clinton is and that she needs to sharpen up her message, sharpen up her attacks if she wants to be able to win this election.

SHARPTON: But Liz, you know, the FBI investigation on Clinton`s emails has -- it doesn`t suggest she was intending to break the law, and the state department is dismissing the claims a hacker broke into her server. Is Sanders, however, hanging on in case Clinton`s campaign implodes over the e-mail investigation?

LIZ PLANK, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT FOR VOX: I mean, perhaps. It would be a good reason to stick around. And you know, the whole dishonesty issue and trust issue that Hillary Clinton has been having is a lot of it is mostly due to that case.

And I think there`s also a danger. If you have a candidate on the other side, on the Republican side, Donald Trump really reeling in -- bringing in voters who are angry, you don`t want to make your base angry either. So there are a lot of people who are backing Sanders who she`s going to want to have when she is the nominee. And she doesn`t want to alienate them. And for them to go and vote for Donald Trump. So it is important for her to keep that kind of going and to not feed into this narrative that the system is rigged, that she is this establishment candidate. And so I don`t see actually anything bad in Sanders sticking around at this point.

HOLMES: What about all of those millennials? Do they want to be told by Hillary Clinton that their votes don`t count, don`t matter?

PLANK: Absolutely.

SHARPTON: But Jonathan, you know, Mrs. Clinton did what she did in 2008 to unify the party and for her own political future. She did become secretary of state and respected in the party. Is there something that she should offer or give to senator Sanders, if not personally, in a broader policy sense that would get him out of the race or get him to unify the party?

ALTER: He`s going to stay in until the beginning of June, the California primary, so she might as well just accept that. It`s not so terrible that he stays in for a month as long as he doesn`t viciously attack her and undermine her for the fall. But there are some things that she can do on the party platform. Like I happen to think that Sanders`s free college position is a better message --


ALTER: -- and a more attractive proposal than Hillary`s very complicated college loan proposal. Maybe she could say, all right, you know, we will have some kind of compromise over the platform at the convention so that that proposal is a little bit more like yours. Or maybe something on banking regulation. Hillary has some. Sanders wants to break up the banks. Maybe there`s something in between they could compromise on at the convention. Now, these things would all be good for the Democratic Party because it would be stronger to run a little bit further to the left. So as not to alienate those voters.

SHARPTON: But Liz, you know, let`s look at, as Jonathan talks about, let`s deal with some other facts. Bernie Sanders just became a Democrat a year ago. He is 74 years old. So it`s not likely he has another presidential run down the road. What`s at stake for him here?

PLANK: Right. I mean, he is still raising a lot of money, too. I know that in the last month his fund-raising has gone down, but still, when you look at it proportionally, he`s making a lot of money still. So there is still support there. And so for him to be able to stay in the party and change the party, I mean, that`s what he wants to do ultimately. He is in it for the political revolution. So it makes sense at this point that he is sticking around. And he has moved also his campaign away from this negative campaign, saying that Hillary Clinton is not qualified to be president. I think that he is concerned with unifying the party at this point. So it totally does make sense.

SHARPTON: Hold it one minute, Liz, Jonathan, Amy. Stay with me. Lots more ahead. And I see you all have a lot more to say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ll be right back with more "Politics Nation with Al Sharpton."


SHARPTON: Lots more on Donald Trump and the GOP coming up.

Also my exclusive interview with comedian Larry Wilmore. We cover a lot of ground including his use of the "n" word at the White House correspondents` dinner.


WILMORE: You know, I`ve been called the word growing up and that type of thing.

SHARPTON: As you look at race in America and we deal with all of these issues, given the reaction, given the discussion this week --


SHARPTON: -- would you do it again? Would you use that word again in that setting again?




OBAMA: Their standard bearer at the moment is Donald Trump. And I think not just Republican officials but more importantly Republican voters are going to have to make a decision as to whether this is the guy who speaks for them and represents their values.


SHARPTON: Will the Republicans unify behind Donald Trump? So far many leaders are staying on the sidelines, like Paul Ryan, who`s meeting with Trump this week. And the last four GOP nominees including the two last Republican presidents, none will attend the party`s convention. This past week the head of the RNC was asked about Trump`s controversial messaging like his tweet on Cinco o de Mayo which some fear is alienating Hispanics.


PRIEBUS: He`s trying. Honestly, he`s trying. And I`ll tell you what. I honestly think he understands that building and unifying and growing the party is the only way we`re going to win.


SHARPTON: He says Trump is trying. But Trump is sticking with his most controversial ideas like building a wall.


TRUMP: Everybody wants the wall. We`ll have the wall. We`ll have the wall. Well, that`s very nice. We`ll build that wall. Who`s going to pay for the wall?

CROWD: Mexico!

TRUMP: Not even a doubt, OK?


SHARPTON: Let me bring back my panel, Liz Plank, Jonathan Alter and Amy Holmes.

Amy, will rank-and-file Republican voters care what leaders like Paul Ryan and the Bushes think about Trump?

HOLMES: They care what they think about Trump and there, of course, is a lot of division among GOP voters, particularly Republican women who, you know, about 50 percent disapprove of Donald Trump. They don`t like his remarks about women.

SHARPTON: Of Republican women.

HOLMES: Of Republican women, yes. Yes, you`re seeing a lot of disarray on the GOP side. And that ticket in Cleveland is going to be hot, but maybe not for the right reasons. Donald Trump has a lot of work to do to gain ground with conservatives, particularly Republican women, who are still very skeptical and anxious about a Donald Trump nomination.

SHARPTON: Liz, Trump is saying he`s thinking now about a VP pick. Listen to this.


TRUMP: I will say that I probably will go the political route. I have the business, let`s call them talents, and I think I`ll probably go the political route, somebody that can help me with legislation and somebody that can help me get things passed, and somebody that`s been friends with the senators and the congressmen -- so we don`t have to go the -- so we don`t have to go the executive order route as much as Obama did.


SHARPTON: What kind of VP choice could he come up with that would balance him out, and who would agree to be on the ticket that could do it?

PLANK: I think that is really the question because even the first few names that he has put out, those people have already said that they would rule it out. So I think that`s going to be his issue. And you know, when I went to CPAC earlier this year, I talked to conservatives and this before Donald Trump was even the nominee. I mean, it was clear that he may be the nominee. And people just kept cringing at the idea that he would even be the nominee. And I said, OK, would you vote for Hillary Clinton, then? And even conservatives were kind of still -- they still mostly said Trump. But the fact that they would even consider potentially voting for Hillary who`s the epitome of left-wing progressive politics, to me really signals his inability to unite the party.

SHARPTON: Jonathan, let me pick up on that because "Politico" is reporting that the Clinton fund-raisers have been contacting Bush family donors in recent days telling them she`s better represents their values than Donald Trump does. How many Republicans for Hillary do you think there are?

ALTER: I think there are going to be quite a number. And the donors are going to help her greatly outspend Trump because he`s not liquid. His fortune`s not liquid. I don`t think a large number of people are going to give him a lot of money. He`s been running claiming, you know, I don`t they`d your money. Now he`s turned around and hired a finance chair. But I think he`s going to have a hard time raising really big bucks. He is a master of the media. So he will get a lot of free media.

To me the real challenge for Republican voters, whether, you know, they`re going to leave him or stick with him, is they have to ask themselves, do people change? In other words, is character destiny? We know who this guy is. And if he starts, like, making nice in the next six weeks before the convention, are people really going to buy that? Are they really going to go, oh, he`s acting nice now. He is acting like a different Donald Trump. This is the guy who will be president. No. The one we know and we have known for a long time is the guy who will be president. And if you believe, based on his record as I do that he`s a con man, if you look at his record, you can`t both believe he is a con man and support him. That`s not patriotic.

SHARPTON: But can Trump, Amy, change his tone? Because Priebus seems to feel he can. Can he? Can he change his tone?

HOLMES: I don`t know. Ask Melania. She has been asking him to change his tone for a couple of months now. You remember they floated the trial balloon that Donald Trump was going to sound more presidential. Then he went back to lying Ted. The problem for Republican voters who may, you know, Hillary is going to try to pitch, you know, to sort of cross the aisle and vote for her is they have seen her character as well and they don`t trust her either. So if anything, I think Republicans who are divided on this will actually stay home. They are not going to be giving their votes to Hillary.

SHARPTON: Then let me go here, then, Liz. When you look at -- NBC has a battleground map. And it shows Clinton starting with a huge advantage, huge, huge advantage in the Electoral College and leading in most of the toss-up states. How could Trump close this gap?

PLANK: Yes, I mean, to Amy`s point, Hillary also is not an unfavorable candidate. Actually, we haven`t seen two candidates with such high unfavorability in a long time.

HOLMES: And both are households name and well-known names.

PLANK: That`s the thing, we know them.

ALTER: Somebody could come right up.

SHARPTON: All right. Well, Jonathan, you`re a man in the know. What is driving Paul Ryan`s resistance to Trump?

ALTER: You know, they don`t share any political values. It`s really a problem. Paul Ryan is an ardent free trader. Donald Trump is a protectionist. Paul Ryan wants some compromise on immigration. Obviously Donald Trump doesn`t. And I think Paul Ryan, who has -- what everyone thinks of his politics -- he has a disposition that is fine for leadership understands that temperamentally Donald Trump is not suited to the American presidency, that this kind of taunting that Trump does is likely to cause us huge problems abroad, huge problems with the stock market, his unpredictability is not good. We`ve been a stable nation. And I think he understands, as really an awful lot of people do at this point, that Trump would be a disaster as president.

HOLMES: Hold on.

ALTER: So he`s in a trap.

HOLMES: Remember that Paul Ryan said that he`s not ready, which means that he could possibly get ready.

SHARPTON: In six weeks?

ALTER: Of course he could.

SHARPTON: We heard one senator said this week about a third party. Are we going to keep hearing third party?

HOLMES: Senator Ben Sasse from Nebraska.

SHARPTON: It`s very difficult now to get a third party on the ballot.

HOLMES: So there might be grumblings about this, but for Republican office holders who are loyal to the GOP, there`s no way that they want to start a third party. The last time we saw a successful third party was Ross Perot in 1992 and it put a Clinton in the White House.

SHARPTON: And if we see one for you --

HOLMES: We`ll see our second Clinton in the White House is there is the other third party candidate.

SHARPTON: Liz Plank, Jonathan Alter, Amy Holmes, thank you for your time. Have a wonderful mother`s day.

HOLMES: Thank you, Reverend. You too.

ALTER: Thanks, Rev. You too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After the break, comedian Larry Wilmore sits down since his first interview since the "n" word controversy.


SHARPTON: We turn now to a new controversy over an old word, the "n" word. It`s a divisive issue. And I should note in order to have a frank discussion, we`ll be playing several uncensored sound bites that include the word in which some might find offensive as I do.

Last week comedian Larry Wilmore hosted President Obama`s final White House correspondents` dinner. He ended his set by noting the historic nature of being the first black president, and he used the term he says he knew would trigger criticism.


WILMORE: Words alone do me no justice. So, Mr. President, if I`m going to keep it 100, you Barry, you did it, my nigga. You did it.


SHARPTON: Of course, it was controversial. Generating a lot of headlines, I was in attendance that night, and I criticized Wilmore`s use of the words. Two nights later on his comedy central show, Wilmore tried to draw a distinction between what he said and a racial slur.


WILMORE: Nigger is what white people use to denigrate, demean and dehumanize black people, and nigga is a term of endearment some black use between each other to take back that power.


SHARPTON: Some have pointed out that President Obama himself used the "n" word in an interview last year. For full context, here`s what he said.


OBAMA: Racism, we are not cured of.


OBAMA: And it`s not just a matter of it for the being polite to say nigger in public. That`s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It`s not just a matter of overt discrimination. We have -- societies don`t, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior.


SHARPTON: The president wasn`t defending the word, and he wasn`t using it to refer to any specific person.

No doubt this is a difficult topic. Raising issues of race and rhetoric in the age of Obama.


Joining me now is Larry Wilmore, host of "the Nightly Show" on comedy central.

First of all, thank you for being here.

WILMORE: Reverend Al, it is my pleasure. Thank you very much.

SHARPTON: Let me say, (INAUDIBLE). You and I have respect for each other, know each other, we can disagree without being disagreeable.

WILMORE: Absolutely. I have respected you for many years. You have stood up for too many good causes, Reverend.

SHARPTON: And then I respect you. We disagree on the term of the "n" word. Tell me why you did it. You knew it was going to cause controversy. You knew people like me were going to say that`s inexcusable.

WILMORE: Yes, I know. Slap my hand, Reverend.

Well, to me it was at the point where I wanted to make a statement more than a joke. I didn`t view that portion as a joke. And I really wanted to explain the historical implications of the Obama presidency from my point of view. I`m the same age as the president. We graduated from high school at the same time. And a lot of people don`t have awareness of how racism exists to the people who are -- it is being affected by. They just see things like the civil rights act, you know, slavery, and events like that. But they don`t have the experience of it, reverend. That`s why I wanted to point out that in my time, I experienced a black man not being able to be the quarterback of a football team.

You know, people thought there was a problem with that. And to see this man as leader of the free world meant something that worlds couldn`t put into justice. And when I think about the hundreds of hundreds of years of a particular word being used against us to take away our identity and now to turn that around on its head, something that`s normally done in private, I acknowledge, and to make it public, I thought was, you know, a statement.

SHARPTON: But you do understand that no other group in this country turns around the words that degrade them.

WILMORE: Well, yes.

SHARPTON: I think the problem I have is if we said that about any other ethnic group, they don`t take the power out of a word that is offensive to them, so why is it our responsibility to do that?

WILMORE: I don`t know if it`s our responsibility. I don`t know if any other group has been enslaved like we were either, has had the particular experience that we`ve had in America. And not only that --


WILMORE: -- but there is the Jim Crow laws that were done against blacks. You can still find in deeds where it`s against the law or against a certain deed to sell to a black person.

WILMORE: Which is all the more reason why I don`t want to see us --


SHARPTON: -- take the power out of something that was structured to degrade us. That`s all I`m saying.


SHARPTON: And I`m seven years older. I`m you and Obama`s generation. This is not generational because you have young students that turned out at university of Missouri and other places who didn`t want to be called the word.

WILMORE: Absolutely.

SHARPTON: And this is a debate in the community. It`s not about right or wrong. It`s about trying to figure this whole thing out together.

WILMORE: Sure absolutely right. And there are different approaches. Many don`t want to hear the word at all. I don`t care what context it`s in, and I completely respect that. I`m a satirist and I`ve used it in many different ways. One of the bits that I did at "the Daily Show" with Jon Stewart when I was with John Oliver, there was a city councilman who wanted to ban the word. And we did a whole satirical take on that. And it was very impoliticly correct, but that was another way to use it in a way that expose some truth underneath it, you know. So as artists, we used words that other people would never use and find dangerous but it is part of what we`re doing in our art.

SHARPTON: And you also said something in an interview that got to me when you said that you heard some policemen when you were younger use the word.

WILMORE: Sure. Yes.

SHARPTON: And you know, people see you, you`re successful in TV.

WILMORE: I know.

SHARPTON: Tell us about that.

WILMORE: And Reverend, my father worked in law enforcement, too. So they had -- there was something going on next door, and the police were, like, banging on the back door. And it sounded like they opened it. I was maybe six or seven. And they said, "freeze, nigga, dead." I apologize for using the word, but that`s what they said, you know. And we were, like --.

And here`s the thing. In that context at that time, as shocking as it was, it wasn`t that shocking in that time. But it was an indelible mark that it left on me and my brother. And even then we used it joking. And I know that`s hard to understand, but we were throwing back in each other. Maybe we were trying to take the pain off of it or whatever. But that to me, I heard power telling us that we were nothing in that moment. And think about a child hearing a word like that.

You know, I`ve been called the word growing up and that type of thing, you know, by stupid people and that sort of thing, but that particular instance, I think it hit me in a way that it never quite did before, I should say after.

SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you, as you look at race in America and we deal with all of these issues, given the reaction, given the discussion this week, would you do it again? Would you use that word in that setting again?


WILMORE: Well, it`s funny. I always hate to use a time machine scenario. You know, I think it`s more -- for me, I feel it`s more instructive to deal with the humanity of where we are now in this moment and what do we do in the now? What`s the conversation that we get to have because of it, you know? I think because it was his last year was the significant -- the inciting incident for me, you know. In any other year, I certainly wouldn`t have done it. There was something about summing up where we`ve gone that kind of spoke to me. And it`s hard when you`re talking about artistic choices what you would have done differently. I mean, you know, some people pointed out you could have said my brother, sure, I could have said that. It would have been a different moment, absolutely.

SHARPTON: And I looked at it the same way differently because I said this is his last year, and I didn`t want the last word, walking off being called the "n" word. That`s how I looked at it.

WILMORE: Yes, I completely understand that. And it`s funny because I felt like at that point, I was making a statement rather than --

SHARPTON: You made a statement.

WILMORE: I know, I know. And by the way, Reverend, I`m prepared to live with the consequences of it. I understand that. And I have to say that the president was very gracious and very kind in his statements, you know.

SHARPTON: Yes, he was.

WILMORE: And I acknowledge that.

SHARPTON: I want to get off just that part for a minute because I think everybody understands your views and mine. One thing I will say before we get off is you told a very funny joke about my hairstyle.

WILMORE: Yes, sir.

SHARPTON: How come the only people that get on my hair are people that are bald? But anyway --

WILMORE: Nice. Burn!

SHARPTON: I had to get that.

WILMORE: You had to go there. No, that`s very good.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Straight ahead, more of Al Sharpton`s exclusive interview with Larry Wilmore.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome back. Now more of Al Sharpton`s exclusive interview with comedian Larry Wilmore.


SHARPTON: Donald Trump says, who you also --


SHARPTON: -- did a lot of jokes on.


SHARPTON: That he`s going to get a lot of black votes.

WILMORE: Oh, stop it.

SHARPTON: Black people love him. Your reaction.

WILMORE: Maybe from people named "the blacks," but not from actual black people. But it`s interesting, reverend. I had some blacks who my show who said they want to support Trump. And I don`t understand where that comes from. But I think for some of them, he represents this brash figure who isn`t afraid of people, and that`s, like, their connection to him or something. And I don`t get that.

SHARPTON: That`s what I want to ask you, I guess. What drives his, in your opinion, someone that`s entertainment, obviously successful, is it the celebrity driving the feelings of a lot of people?


SHARPTON: That didn`t have a way of expressing themselves? I mean, what do you think from a nonpolitician --


SHARPTON: -- is driving this Trump kind of energy?

WILMORE: Sure. I believe that Trump represents what I call the upper crass, you know. And it`s this person who speaks only from his id, nothing is thoughtful, and it`s all reactions to things that is -- and it`s a very shallow conversation. And he is the leader of the upper crass movement. SHARPTON: Upper crass.

WILMORE: And a lot of movement that don`t care to have a thoughtful conversation. Look how long it takes Obama just to talk about what he had for breakfast, for goodness sakes. I mean, everything is so thoughtful for him, you know. I had -- but Trump, everything is just spit out. It`s not thoughtful. He always has to backtrack, ban all Muslims, Mexicans, rapists. But he appeals to people`s visceral reactions and how they feel on the surface about things. And it`s not thought through. And I think a lot of it is reaction to these past eight years, you know. I think people are tired of liberalism. Let`s say liberalism in a way that they haven`t been tired before. It`s like fine, OK, gay people, you got married. Fine, do we have to bake those cakes anymore. Fine, all right, black lives matter. Whatever. Can we move on? I don`t care about the bathrooms. Let`s just move on. Can we make America great again, please? And I think he just appeals to that basic level.

SHARPTON: Do you fear -- because you do a lot on your show -- I`ve done your show. I`ve watched your show.

WILMORE: Yes, thank you very much. You were great.

SHARPTON: And I appreciate you coming doing ours this morning. But do you fear where we may have an emotional reaction on all sides when we see for the first time in American history a white succeed a black president? We`ve never been here before, Larry.

WILMORE: I know.

SHARPTON: We`re about seven months away from we don`t know --

WILMORE: I know.

SHARPTON: -- how we all are going to feel.

WILMORE: I don`t know if America`s ready for a white president. I really don`t know, reverend al. I`m not sure. I agree with you. I wanted to go black to black, thanks, Ben Carson, but it didn`t happen. You know, part of what gets me, too, Reverend, I have to share this with you because you would appreciate this is this is a man who spent a lot of his time in capital and resources to trying to illegitimize, I`m making up a word, this black man in the presidency saying --.

SHARPTON: The birther movement.

WILMORE: Yes, exactly. And he spends so much time and then America, a large portion of America turns out and embraces this man as the hope to save America. I find that highly offensive.

SHARPTON: Do you, as we move forward, though, into the next presidency.


SHARPTON: How will that impact you as an artist?

WILMORE: It`s so sad. Trump being president is fantastic for my show. It`s a very selfish thing, but it`s horrible for America. Actually, no matter who is president, I think we`ll have plenty of comedy material. I mean, to have the first gentleman, Bill Clinton, in the White House would have fantastic for comedy also, you know. I mean, think about that, you know? But yes, unfortunately Trump, as great as it is for me, I don`t know how great it is for everyone else, but we`ll see, you know.

SHARPTON: Well, let me say, I`m very happy you came and did it. And I think that we`ll have to agree, I hope it`s instructive that we can have a conversation and still get along and maybe America needs to do this more.

WILMORE: Always. That would be awesome.

SHARPTON: All right.

WILMORE: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: So I`m going to keep it 100, my brother.

WILMORE: Thank you. Thank you.

SHARPTON: Larry Wilmore, thanks for your time.

WILMORE: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Thank you.

WILMORE: Thank you, sir.


SHARPTON: That does it for me. I would like to hear what you folks at home think about these kinds of issues. Keep the conversation going online. Like us at and follow us on twitter @politicsnation. We may not agree, but it`s better to talk about our differences than pretend they don`t exist.

Happy mother`s day. I`ll see you back here next Sunday.