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FARRAKHAN ON 'NIGHTLINE': Clinton 'did less for black people than other presidents'
Thu Mar 08 2007 17:40:20 ET

Tonight on ABC News ?Nightline,? Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan sits down with Martin Bashir to discuss his health, ?08 presidential politics, Iranian President Ahmadinejad?s views on Israel, and why he says he is not the same man he used to be.


Bashir: Some people have said that he?s deliberately avoiding controversial black figures like yourself, Mr. Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, for fear of alienating white voters.

Farrakhan: First of all, he?

Bashir: Do you think that?s true?

Farrakhan: I would give him credit. If my, if avoiding me would help him to become president, I?d be glad to stay in the background, because of the taint that?s on the minister. Reverend Al Sharpton is different. Reverend Al gave a very impressive speech at the last Democratic Convention. He?s broad, but he comes from the black experience. He?s always there fighting for justice. It?s the same with Reverend Jackson. Well, Barack Obama is fighting for justice too, but not from a position where they can say he?s a radical. But he still feels the pain. But he rises above it and reaches.

Bashir: But do you think he?s deliberately avoiding people?

Farrakhan: I can?t say that.

Bashir: ?like yourself to avoid alienating potential white voters?

Farrakhan: I can?t say that, because I haven?t made myself available to him?


Bashir: Has he reached out to you?

Farrakhan: ?he hasn?t made himself available to me. But you know, we?ve got almost a year, 8 months or so, 9 months before the election. We don?t know what tomorrow will bring.

Farrakhan: He?s a beautiful young man. My fear is when you get in a seat and you don?t know the electrical current that?s up under your seat, and you start getting these jolts and you got to see where the jolt is coming from, and now you got to bend to multinational corporations and their interests, you got to bend to this group and that group. Remember we gave you so much money, and remember we did this for you. That?s the hard part. He?s started off quite well.


Bashir: What about Mrs. Clinton?

Farrakhan: Not the young people. Mrs. Clinton is formidable, but Barack is even more.

Bashir: Hillary Clinton was, her husband, Bill Clinton, was described as a black president. What does that make her?

Farrakhan: Really, not much. Although black people looked at Bill Clinton as a black president, he did less for black people than other presidents. We lost the safety net, under his administration, for welfare mothers. We lost a lot. But his charisma, no one can take that away from Mr. Clinton. His ability to use language in many ways has attracted the hearts of black people. And the more the establishment beat up on him with his inappropriate behavior, the more black people understood his weakness, and forgave him, and came around him. I loved Hillary, excuse me for saying Hillary, loved Mrs. Clinton, for her standing by her man, even though she was hurt, and maybe even slightly embittered. She showed the strength of a woman who could forgive her husband and keep going to present to America a family image: a mother, a father, and a daughter.

Bashir: What about Mayor Rudy Giuliani?

Farrakhan: No, uh.

Bashir: Mr. Giuliani, of course, in New York, had some pretty severe conflicts with the black community when he was mayor. Do you think he stands much of a chance of winning the black vote?

Farrakhan: No. Not at all. He could parade every black person that he knows in front of black people, he?ll have a difficult time.

Bashir: Why?

Farrakhan: His, well his behavior, as a mayor of the city of New York, was not the best for black people, and certainly not for Muslims. Because the police attacked our mosque in New York, and his former chief of police, who is now the chief of police, or police superintendent, in Los Angeles, was told by him, according to what Chief Bratton wrote in his book, to go kill the Muslims. And he refused to do it because he had a pretty good relationship with the Muslims in Boston under the leadership of Minister Don Muhammad. So Giuliani, unless he?s changed, and people do change, you know?

Bashir: You?ve changed.

Farrakhan: No I?ve grown. Well, that?s change too. I felt for Mr. Giuliani when I heard that he had prostate cancer, and I wanted to write him and tell him about seed implantation, and I think he did get seed implantation and is now completely free of cancer. He?ll be formidable.

Bashir: But he won?t win the black vote.

Farrakhan: No.


Bashir: It?s noticeable that you're using different language compared to the sort of things you?ve said in the past. Are you saying now that you regret some of those inflammatory statements?

Farrakhan: I can never, ever regret speaking the truth. But the way I speak truth, the passion I have for the truth that I speak can sometimes get in the way of people hearing what I have to say. That?s all part of my growth and development. So I?m not today what I was but I?m hoping that the language that I use will get past yesterday's barriers and that I will be more clear and understood. I?ve always been understood by black people but greatly misunderstood by other than my own. But this is a universal teaching and if you?re misunderstood by the world and only understood by your own people we miss the mark.


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