Sunday, February 17, 2008

* CNN's Wolf Blitzer Interviews NBA Legend Charles Barkley

CNN Transcript
February 15, 2008

BLITZER: The NBA legend Charles Barkley
, he's also here in New Orleans for the NBA All-Star Game. He's trying to score some points for Barack Obama. He's also going after the Republican right.

Listen to this.


CHARLES BARKLEY, FMR. BASKETBALL PLAYER: Every time I hear the word "conservative," it makes me sick to my stomach.


BLITZER: Up next, my interview with Charles Barkley and his thoughts on a possible Obama/Clinton dream team and a lot more. You're going to want to hear this.

Plus, growing fears of a war at the Democratic Convention. We'll have some advice for the superdelegates who are deciding whether to vote their conscience or with their constituents.

And is big brother watching you? We're going to tell you what's keeping Congress from passing legislation on domestic wiretapping.

We're live here in New Orleans, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Barack Obama has scored an impressive number of big- name celebrity supporters, and that includes the long-time NBA superstar Charles Barkley. Barkley is here in New Orleans for the All-Star Game this weekend.


BLITZER: And joining us now, the TNT analyst, Charles Barkley, the basketball great.

Charles, thanks very much for coming in.

Don't really want to talk basketball with you. I want to talk politics. I know you support Obama. Tell us why you decided to go with him, as opposed to, let's say, Hillary Clinton.

BARKLEY: Well, I think, first and foremost, I consider him a friend of mine. And when I look at him, he represents everything that's good in the black community. He's intelligent. He's articulate. He's -- we need that. You know, most of our role models are athletes and entertainers. We've got to get more black kids to be educated, carry themselves with great class and dignity.

And he's perfect for what we need because we've got so much black-on-black crime in this country right now. We've got a lot of kids who are not getting their education. That's why I'm supporting him.

BLITZER: A few years ago you were a Republican. I know you're a Democrat now, but when you were a Republican, you were asked why you were a Republican, and you said something along the lines that, "The Democrats want to raise my taxes. The Republicans don't." Obama wants to raise your taxes.

BARKLEY: Well, you know what? It won't affect me at all. But what I really said was, I'm rich like a Republican. I never voted for a Republican. I'm actually an Independent. But I'm supporting Barack because I have to look at the big picture.

This country is divided by economics between the rich and the poor. And I'm going to support him all the way to the wall. I really like our chances right now.

BLITZER: If he doesn't get the nomination, if Hillary Clinton does get it, how would you feel about that? How would you feel about supporting her?

BARKLEY: I've got no problem with that. Last time I supported John Edwards. I'm going to vote Democratic. I hope it's my guy, Barack. But I'm going to vote Democratic either way, because I don't like what the Republicans have done to our country.

BLITZER: I spoke with Magic Johnson, who was a member of the so- called dream team in the old days. And he said that his dream team right now is Clinton and Obama. How would you feel about the two of them on the same ticket?

BARKLEY: Well, my dream team would be Obama/Clinton. Not Clinton/Obama. My dream team -- you know, I don't care. I want Barack to be president. If he's vice president, that's good. But I just think we need a new face.We need a new leader, because the way things are going, it's not going well. But I want him to be the president, not the vice president.

BLITZER: How do you think he would shape up against John McCain, who is the likely Republican presidential nominee, on this specific issue of national security?

BARKLEY: Well, I think, you know, people keep saying, well, he doesn't have enough experience on national security and things like that. First of all, whoever the president is, he's going to have tons of advisers. It ain't like the president gets to make every decision on his own. You have great advisers around you.

Hey, I live in Arizona. I have got great respect for Senator McCain. Great respect. But I don't like the way the Republicans are taking this country. Every time I hear the word "conservative," it makes me sick to my stomach, because they're really just fake Christians, as I call them. That's all they are. But I just -- I'm going to vote Democratic no matter what.

BLITZER: What about you in politics? At one point you were thinking of running back in Alabama. What do you think?

BARKLEY: Well, I just bought a house in 2007. And in 2014, I promise you I'm going to run for governor of Alabama.

BLITZER: And when will you run for governor of Alabama?

BARKLEY: 2014. You have to have residency for seven years. And I bought my house at the end of last year. And I will be eligible in 2014.

BLITZER: All right. One quick point before I let you go. You used the phrase "fake Christians" for conservatives. Explain what you're talking about.

BARKLEY: Well, I think they -- they want to be judge and jury. Like, I'm for gay marriage. It's none of my business if gay people want to get married. I'm pro-choice. And I think these Christians -- first of all, they're supposed to be -- they're not supposed to judge other people. But they're the most hypocritical judge of people we have in this country. And it bugs the hell out of me. They act like they're Christians. And they're not forgiving at all.

BLITZER: So you're going to get a lot of feedback on this one, Charles.

BARKLEY: They can't do anything to me. I don't work for them.

BLITZER: You feel comfortable saying all that?

BARKLEY: I feel very comfortable saying I'm pro-choice, and I'm for gay marriage. Very comfortable.

BLITZER: But you can't lump all these conservatives as being fake. A lot of them obviously -- most of them are very, very sincere in their religious beliefs.

BARKLEY: Well, they should read the part about they're not supposed to judge other people. They forget that one when it doesn't fit what they want it to say.

BLITZER: All right. We've got to leave it there, Charles.

Thanks very much for joining us.

BARKLEY: Thank you for having me.


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