Alfred Sharpton; born in 1954 in Brooklyn, NY (where he still lives) Graduate of Tilden High School; attended Brooklyn College. Ordained minister at age 13; youth director of Operation Breadbasket, 1969-70; director of National Youth Movement (an organization with the stated purpose of fighting drugs and raising money for ghetto youth), later renamed United African Movement, 1970-c.1986. Never one shy to from controversy, found himself accused of racism for his unquestioning support of Tawana Brawley, the black teenager who accused four white men, including an upstate New York prosecutor, of abducting and raping her -- a charge later proved groundless. He has run unsuccessfully for mayor of New York City and twice for a U.S. Senate seat from New York. He has been active in city and state campaigns of other candidates.
Taxes & Spending:
On NBC's Meet the Press: "Would you repeal the Bush tax cut?" Sharpton replies, "Absolutely. I think that in a time where we have seen some very, very, very strong problems in the economy and in the personal lives of people - if I had to choose, for example, between giving a tax break to billionaires or having grandmothers afford their prescription drugs, I would choose Grandma every time."
Sharpton, 48, said he was the only candidate who was "anti-war, anti-death penalty, anti-tax cut across the board."
He would eliminate the estate tax on smaller "estates".
Rev. Sharpton also said that there is "an attempt to avoid dealing with issues such as the deficit, the off-shore tax havens, and police brutality."
Welfare: Sharpton said that back when he grew up "on welfare and in the projects," Jesse Jackson gave him hope. He said he wants to give a new generation of people, especially young people, similar hope. Said Sharpton, "We need to go on the offensive against an Administration who will give tax cuts to the rich, cut aid to public education, cut aid to day care, turn around and use the rhetoric of Leave No Child BehindŽ, while they leave the budget behind their own proposals of leaving no child behind."
Faith Initiatives: Rev. Al Sharpton stated "I am in favor of many aspects of the faith initiative, which means helping the clergy in inner cities to help their people."
He later told "Rolling Stone" Magazine, "In my judgment, (George W. Bush's administration of the) faith-based initiatives was the patronage system to pay off the conservative right for helping make him president. So it is his version of patronage: I'll take care of the Christian right of the world with faith-based initiatives."
Foreign Affairs: Sharpton is a firm opponent of war in Iraq, sharing with (Howard) Dean the view that Bush should follow President John F. Kennedy's example during the Cuban missile crisis and offer photographic evidence of Iraqi weapons.
Favors multinational Iraqi reconstruction strategy via the U.N. Opposes Bush pre-emption policy; calls it un-American
According to one commentator, Sharpton "sounds like a liberal Democrat on issues such as education, farm policy, missile defense, social security, health care and the war on terrorism."
Security & Terrorism: "Is it not dangerous to the principles of this country to have a political appointee (Attorney General, John Ashcroft) have the ability to detain people and charge them later, if at all?," Sharpton questioned.
Health Issues: Favors a national, government-funded single-payer plan for health care.
Education Issues: Would fully fund No Child Left Behind act. Sharpton assailed "tax cuts to zillionaires" at a time when the federal budget has gone from a surplus to a deficit, forcing college tuition to rise because "the education dollars are not there" any more.
Trade: Wants to cancel NAFTA and withdraw from the WTO. "I'm opposed to many of the trade agreements, including NAFTA and others in the 90's. For any trade agreement, you must have a strong environmental part of the trade agreement that is enforceable. We have too long allowed government to say we must sacrifice environment to stimulate the economy, either globally or domestically. And I don't think that's a fair exchange."
Ex-felons' Voting Rights: Sharpton has championed the cause of returning voting rights to felons who served their sentences.
Abortion Policy: The Pro-Choice Sharpton said a protester told him a real Christian could not favor abortion rights: "I said, 'Young lady, it is time for the Christian right to meet the right Christians.' Sharpton, son of a single mother, said, "I trust my mama's decision more than I trust anyone who sits in the White House tonight."
Gun control: Supports licensing and registration of handguns
Environmental issues: Support building of hybrid and electric vehicles. Would push for a cap on carbon dioxide emissions. Would raise average requirement to 45 miles per gallon.
Minority Issues: Sharpton a civil rights activist, shares many of the views of NAACP, having sided with the organzation of several issues. He also has addressed local NAACP chapters.
Civil Liberties: Sharpton has expressed concern about what he believes are an erosion of civil liberties, and defended gay rights.
He said the Democratic Party can't be the opposition party without the courage to oppose and fight for what's right.